A BLOG ABOUT A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hello Houston

How was your week everyone?

Ours was filled with travel, work, and family. We had an extra busy Monday through Wednesday at work. I had three extra meetings and taught two grammar workshops on top of all my normal teaching. Brendan had extra meetings and student conferences. Wednesday, during his hours between teaching 8:00am-2:00pm and going back to teach his night class from 4:30pm-8:30pm, Brendan gave me a ride to the airport. I flew to Houston, took an Uber to the hotel, and proceeded to do what I do best: order room service and watch TV:


I was up early the next morning to do what I do second best: Attend six hour academic coaching workshops! But first, I needed some more room service (not kidding).


While I was workshopping, Brendan was taking his own flight to Houston and picking up our rent car. After a nap, we were ready for some dinner, so we walked to Seasons 52 and had a delightful meal (the flatbreads and beet salad were great) before getting drinks with some co-workers. On our way to dinner, we noticed that Houston was literally overtaken with birds. It was one of the wildest things and reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. We knew we weren't going to get out of the walk without being pooped on. Luckily, it happened on the way back and to Brendan (sorry, Bren). 


Friday, we spent the morning and afternoon going to sessions at our conference (if the words "pathways," "common book," "social responsibility," and "G.I.F.Ts" make sense to you, then you know exactly what we did!). After we finished, we drove to one of my favorite places ever: Mimi's house! We had a delightful evening visiting with Mimi and picked up salad and quesadillas for dinner.

My parents met up with us the next afternoon, and we all met cousins Gant and Amy for lunch at Bakkhaus Taverna, a Greek restaurant in Kemeh, TX.


That evening, my Aunt Sally came over to visit, and after everyone went to sleep, I stayed up grading papers in an attempt to not fall too behind. I actually made it through an entire round before sleeping for nine hours, which felt great.

We all went to a big breakfast this morning, and then we visited some more. I even finished my discussion board grading, just in time for my students to turn in another discussion board...tomorrow. Brendan and I caught a flight home to Midland this evening. The cats are happy to see us, and the only hiccup was that we left a laptop power cord at Mimi's. I guess if that's the worst of your travel day, you had a pretty good travel day.

As soon as I got home, I heated up leftovers and turned on Fuller House on Netflix. I'm currently on episode four. Brendan is looking scared and his take is "this show is really weird." It's pretty cheesy, but I enjoy the nostalgia.

One more week, six more workouts, three more meetings, and two more grammar workshops stand between me and spring break. Wish me luck.

Actually, while your at it, wish us both luck!
<3

Monday, February 22, 2016

What's Up With Us

Hello, friends!

How did your Mondays go? Mine was filled with extra teaching and extra meetings. Since I leave on Wednesday for a conference, I'm trying to squeeze in as much as possible into the beginning of the week.

We had a glorious weekend. On Friday night, we took a group of students from the club we co-advise to see The Little Mermaid at MCT. The show was fun and cute. We literally collapsed into bed the moment that we got home (our 5am Friday wake ups are still a thing, as I have continued to attend 6am barre, and it means we are exhausted after 10pm!)

On Saturday, I was up early for barre class since some of our friends wanted to do brunch during my normal class time. I was done with my workout by 9:30, and we met our friends at Twist at 10:30. Twist is the restaurant inside of Sheraton Four Points, and this Saturday was their inaugural brunch. They only serve brunch on Saturdays. We really enjoyed the make your own Bloody Mary bar. For $10, you had your choice of vodka and access to basically every bloody addition that you could think of.


The brunch food was enjoyable, and most selections were in the $12-$20 price range. Everyone agreed that we would come back to Twist again.




Later that day, I enjoyed the beautiful weather (which was sunny and in the 80s) by relaxing in the hammock. I was even able to finish Mindy Kaling's new book Why Not Me? This book is a light and relaxing read that had me laughing out loud at times. I appreciate Mindy's sense of humor, willingness to admit mistakes, and honesty. The book seems a little "thrown together" to me, and in some ways the "every celebrity writes a book" trend is annoying to me; however, I truly believe that Kaling has some unique and important things to say, and she is certainly a talented comedian, so I can get behind her book happily.


I also had a nice long phone chat with my friend Cole on Saturday, as it was his 30th birthday. Fun Fact: Cole was my prom date, and we cared a lot more about going out to a fancy dinner than we did about going to actual prom. I had a boyfriend at the time that was not happy about not being my date. He was a few years older and had missed his own prom. Cole and I always talked about going together, and I knew he would be a much more fun date since we had a lot of mutual friends. To this day, I'm SO glad that we went together (pay attention high school girls: prom should be about fun, not romance). The fun of prom was probably only upstaged when we crashed a wedding in San Luis Obispo, CA years later. Here's us headed to prom in 2004 (we were pretty annoyed with how many pictures all of the parents made us take, but I'm glad we have them now):


Happy 30th Birthday, Cole. Thanks for never questioning my love of Pinkberry. You are the truest friend anyone could ask for. 


After talking to Cole, I made stuffed peppers and got them started in the crockpot. 

Later, tempted by a margarita machine that our friend Rich mentioned would be there, we headed to the Midland Centennial Library to check out "Otra Vz" by Wayne Hilton. This art will be on display through April 30th, and I highly recommend that all Midlanders go visit! We only took photos of a couple of things, but pictures don't do the art justice, and it's so much more interesting to go look in person. 



Saturday night, we ate stuffed peppers and started our new Netflix obsession: The Fall. This show is a detective show like Broadchurch, but it is ten times scarier and more disturbing. Be warned. 

Sunday, Brendan made this outstanding breakfast: 


Then, I caught up on the phone with my brother Graham before leaving to attend an advanced barre workshop at my barre studio. I thought the workout was going to be thirty minutes, but thirty minutes in, the teacher said fifteen more minutes left. It was so, so tough, but I LOVED it. It was also workout #7 of the week! 

When I got home, I worked on my writing for a couple of hours. Then, I got a phone call from my friend Kristen reminding me of the clothing swap at her house. Brendan was awesome and agreed to make Sunday night dinner (our fancy dining room dinner) by himself. Not only did I get to go have an awesome time with my friends and pick up a few new pieces for my wardrobe, but I also got to return home to Pad Thai. 



After dinner, we watched the new Louis CK show Horace and Pete. This show was kind of like watching live theater. I recommend it, but you have to be in the mood for a stage like experience. 

It really was an ideal weekend. Another busy week is ahead, but thankfully, we have leftover quesadillas from Thursday, stuffed peppers from Saturday, and Pad Thai from Sunday. We don't have to cook all week, and that is one thing off our plates (get it?) 

Have a great night everyone! 
<3 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hero's Tofu Fried Rice

Yesterday, I wrote about how Brendan was the absolute hero of my day. Thus, I put the word Hero in front of his title for this recipe, Tofu Fried Rice. I think it's cute!

If you want to be somebody's hero, here is what you will need:

1 cup uncooked rice (we used half black and half white)
1 package of firm tofu
1 bell pepper-diced
1 zucchini-diced
1/2 cup carrots-chopped
1 Serrano (or other hot) pepper-thinly sliced
1/2 white onion-diced
2 eggs
3 green onions-thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic-minced
1-2 inch piece of ginger-minced
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons "miso and easy"
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper
sriracha if desired

This is a little complicated, so I numbered the steps:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together soy, sherry, "miso and easy," sesame oil, and sugar. 
  2. Cook the rice (we use a rice cooker). 
  3. Press tofu and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. 
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil (vegetable recommended--we used olive, since we didn't have vegetable) on medium heat. 
  5. Cook tofu for 5 minutes, tossing in the oil until desired texture is reached (we like it brown and a little crunchy). 
  6.  Set aside tofu in a bowl.
  7. Crack 2 eggs into the pan. Scramble and cook 1-2 minutes. When eggs are scrambled, set them aside in the bowl with the tofu. 
  8.  Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan with garlic, ginger, onion, and hot pepper. Saute until onions are translucent. 
  9. Add the rest of the vegetables and turn the heat up to medium high. Cook until the carrots are soft, 2-3 minutes. If vegetables get stuck to the bottom of the pan, use a little water to help ease them off. 
  10. Add the sauce from step 1 and the cooked rice into the pan. 
  11. Stir everything together. Add cooked tofu and egg. Mix and cook until all ingredients are warm.
  12. Garnish with green onion. 
  13. Serve with sriracha if desired. 


Total Prep and Cook Time: 1 hour.
Deliciousness factor: 4.5 out of 5 stars. This fried rice will taste even better than restaurant fried rice, but we're willing to bet it's healthier. The leftovers are awesome to eat for lunch. The meal is satisfying on its own and doesn't need any sides.

Happy hump day. I hope you are inspired to be someone's hero today :)

<3

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

February 2016 Stitch Fix

It's another Stitch Fix review! If you decide to get a fix based on my review, please use my referral link. I will appreciate the referral credit.

Okay, so, for the sake of full disclosure, I wasn't totally thrilled with my October or November 2015 Stitch Fixes, so the company comped my $20 styling fee for this fix. Also, these photos were taken at about 8:00pm after a long work day, working out, and fighting a cold. I tried to make myself smile, but I'm pretty darn tired!

Up first was the Favio Spilt Neck Top and the Siena Cropped Pant.


Ha, I honestly I HATE these pants. At 5'2", cropped pants are not a style that I can pull off.  I asked for jeans (the last two times), and I was really disappointed that I got cropped lightweight pants instead. I liked the material and feel of the top, as it is the kind of piece I like for work, but the neck was a little low, and the white color washed me out. These were both returns, and I couldn't wait to get those pants off!

Up next, the Donavon Crochet Detail Knit Top.


I like the color, but the cut of the top just isn't flattering. Also, this basically feels like a cotton shirt, and I thought it was overpriced for what it was. Returned.

My feelings were similar about the Bonny Open Cardigan:


For some reason, Stitch Fix is pretty obsessed with sending me cardigans. This one was incredibly soft, and I loved the color, but it was way overpriced, and I already have a lot of cardigans. I think I'll have to put a note about no more cardigans. Returned.

Just when I thought this fix was going to be another bust, out came the Maeby Dress:


I love the material, the pattern, the softness, and the fact that I could wear this for work or fun. This one was a keeper!

Though I only kept one item, it was something I really, really liked. I continue to appreciate Stitch Fix for finding some special pieces that I have added to my wardrobe over time. I only keep things if they really stand out as being great to me (especially after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and realizing I should only have things that bring me a lot of joy), but I always manage to find at least one thing per fix that I truly adore.

I am so, so tired and will probably tuck in early. Shout out to the absolute HERO of my day, Brendan, who used his work from home day to do, fold, and put away several loads of laundry, clean the kitty litter, take out the trash, clean up the kitchen, do dishes, and make us an awesome and healthy dinner. I feel sick, had a full workday, presented to the board of trustees, and even forced myself to workout after it all was done, so after a less than easy day, it was amazing to come home to a sparkling clean house, a delicious meal (recipe coming tomorrow, promise), my clothes put away, and the sweetest ever husband to talk about my day with. He never fails to amaze me. Gentleman, take note: this is what it means to be a partner in the truest sense of the word!

Did anyone else out there get a February fix? Did you like it? I hope so!
<3




Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day Weekend 2016

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

I love that Valentine's Day fell on a Sunday this year because it made it easy to spend time together. Yesterday, Brendan and I went out to eat at Cork and Pig Tavern in Odessa. The food was absolutely delicious, and I also highly recommend the pink guava margarita. We polished off dinner with a shared chocolate dessert, and we left completely stuffed! 

Hello chocolate, I love you! 
After dinner, we headed to Permian Playhouse to catch the last showing of The Fantasticks. I'm just sorry I didn't see it earlier in the run because then I could have told local readers how good it was. We really enjoyed it, and we'll be back to see more at Permian Playhouse. When we got home, we were completely exhausted. We fell right to sleep and slept in, for the first time all week, until 9:00am. It was glorious!

When I woke up, I had great news on my phone. My friend and sorority sister from college, Cheryl, became engaged to the love of her life, Oscar. Cheryl actually caught the bouquet at our wedding, and we're so excited and happy for her and Oscar. Another fun tradition is that a group of us have all shared the same wedding planning books. The tradition was started by Lauren, who married in 2012, and then sent me her books. When Tara got engaged in 2015, I mailed them to her. Now, Tara's wedding will be this summer, and she'll pass the books on to Cher (who is her maid of honor).


Today was so nice. We had time to relax and just be in each other's company, and the weather outside was beautiful (in the 70s and sunny), so we took a long walk to enjoy it. Brendan got me these beautiful pink and white tulips, and I love them.


Our dinner recipes came from Martha Stewart's current issue. She did a feature called "Hello Sunshine," which featured citrus recipes that I immediately knew we'd enjoy trying.

We started with Cara Cara and Blood Orange Salad with Ricotta Salata:


The main course was Linguine with Clams and Lime:


Dessert was Key Lime Pie:


Everything was delicious, and we served it all with Prosecco.

In between dinner and dessert, we exchanged gifts. Brendan gave me dark chocolate with sea salt, Sour Brite Trolli gummi worms (my weakness), and two books: Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me? and Charlie Anders' All the Birds in the Sky. But the best part was probably the homemade Valentine card that he made me :) I have one from each year, and I treasure them so much. I gave Brendan a sweet card, Turkish Delight, Gin-Gins, and dark chocolate with chili. I also had the lyrics of Paul Simon's Song About the Moon (our first dance song from our wedding) made into a beautiful print that I matted and framed. Brendan loved it, and it'd make a sweet idea for anyone with a paper anniversary coming up. I can't wait to see it hanging.

Happy heart day, friends.
I wish we had President's Day off tomorrow, but instead, we head into another crazy work week. On the bright side, our weather is warm and sunny, and supposedly, we'll see into the high 80s this week. I cannot imagine running the air conditioner in February, especially since this time last year, we were having snow days, but we'll see what happens!

We hope your weekend was spent with people you love.
<3



Monday, February 8, 2016

Superbowl Sunday + A Forgotten Blogaversary!

How is everyone surviving Monday? I personally am sad to see the weekend be over. I love catching up on sleep and quality time together. 

This weekend, we had a blast making our own pretzels for Superbowl Sunday. We followed the recipe in this month's Martha Stewart Magazine. Like many Martha recipes, this one was no joke and definitely not easy. We joked that there could be a SNL skit called "Married Before Martha" in which couples break up over trying to make Martha's recipes. Real dialogue: 
Me: What does it mean for dough to be tight? I just assume that means it stays together, but the dough should also be "elastic," so am I wrong? 
Brendan: I don't know.
Me: Google it. Oh my gosh, should I keep this mixer going or not?! 

In the end, our dough turned out great. We refrigerated over night and started our pretzels the next morning. We cut the dough: 


Shaped it: 

Simmered it: 


Then baked it: 


Then cooled it: 

Then ate our delicious final product with friends at a Superbowl Party. We also made the glorious, glorious mustard recipe to go along with it. 


All told, it was hours in the kitchen, but honestly neither of us feels like that is a bad place to be, so it worked out nicely. 

Okay, I now owe my blog a little apology. You see, I forgot my own blog's birthday on February 1st, which marked 5 years of blogging. 

I can't believe I've been sharing our lives for 5 years. I truly enjoy blogging; it's a great stress reliever and a way to stay connected to family and friends. 

Here are some of my favorite posts from over the years in a bunch of different categories. You can find more favorites here

June 2011
Lola and Zoe's Adoption Story <Adopting my cats was one of my best life decisions. 
The first donate your birthday post <I still do this every year, and I think it's an awesome tradition to start for yourself. 

September 2011:
How to Live With Your Parents as an Adult <Brendan and I did it (successfully) for six weeks! 

November 2011
Stress Free Holiday How tos <The title says it all. 

February 2012
On Being Young and Doing My Job Well < Addressing and dealing with ageism in the workplace. 
Advice For Couples Moving In Together< Written after we lived together 6 months. Still true today. 

May 2012
Reflections After a Year of Adjuncting <What I learned still shapes my career today. 

June 2012
The Greatest Ever Relationship Advice < This comes from my mom, and her advice is awesome. 

July 2012
How to involve husband-to-be in wedding registry< simple ways to make sure you BOTH get what you want. 

September 2013
I recapped our wedding reception. <This is probably my favorite post to look back on. 

October 2013
I recapped the last stage of The New Rules of Weightlifting for Women. <This was such an awesome program, and my results were spectacular. I'd do it again.

November 2014
16 Things I learned From Mimi<The wisest person in my life gives advice. 

January 2015
Month 9.75: Walk Throughs Begin < It's fun to remember the first time that we saw our house finished. 

August 2015
Home Tour, 7 Months In< I'm proud of our home and how we've made it our own. 

Happy Birthday, Blog! 
In celebration of the blog's birthday, please tell us your favorite post or share it, or tell us how long you've been reading. 
Thanks for being here! 
<3 


Saturday, February 6, 2016

World's Most Amazing Hummus

When I was a teenager, my mom bought the infamous magic bullet (as seen on TV). One of the first things she made was hummus, and she was so proud of it.

"Isn't this hummus great?" she would say, and I, like most teenagers, couldn't even just give her this one thing.

"We could just buy hummus at the store" I said, crushing the part of my mom's soul that had just paid $39.99 for our very own magic bullet.

We all continued on in life, and years later, I married a hummus maker. What an awesome, novel concept I thought while enthusiastically eating his hummus. Then I thought, or is it really novel? 

Sorry, mom. It turns out, I just wasn't ready for the awesomeness that is homemade hummus. Brendan has been making it for over two years, but I forgot all about your efforts to convert me to homemade hummus back in the day. Now, this is one of our favorite Friday night dinners:



When we are tired from a long work week, there is nothing better than throwing some veggies in bowls and serving it around hummus dip for dinner. Last night's spread was more than we could actually eat, but it included: Pita Chips (HEB brand is the best), celery, cucumber, broccoli, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, four types of cheese (Parmesan, Cheshire, Raclette, Reading), and for dessert: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and two type of chocolate (dark with orange and dark with sea salt/almonds). I repeated the concept for lunch today, and it was so good.

Without further ado, here is Brendan's top secret (until now) hummus recipe. You will need:

1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cans chickpeas (reserve 1/4 cup liquid and drain the rest)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
1-2 cloves garlic
salt (to taste)
Sumac (for topping)

Combine all ingredients, except for sumac, in a large bowl. Blend with an immersion blender (a blender or food processor would work as well). Don't over blend! A little lumpiness makes for the perfect texture. Sprinkle Sumac on top of the hummus. Enjoy!

Now you have the best Friday Night dinner secret IN THE WORLD, or a way to be the most popular person at tomorrow's Superbowl party.

Like me as a teenager, Zoe remains unimpressed:


Happy weekend!
<3

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Too Many Cooks


Brendan: Oh, you've gotta stop it honey, I can't take anymore. 


Why don't you make it through this video. I'll see you in eleven minutes approximately.

TOO MANY COOKS! TOO MANY COOKS, TOO MANY COOKS, TOOOOOO MANY COOKS!

Wait, what is happening? Oh yeah, this is my blog.

We had a nice weekend and a good end to January. I met all my goals:
Make at least 3 inspiralized recipes--I made more like 6.
Attend 17 barre classes--did it!
and organize my clothes according to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (I gave away about 6 bags of clothes to Goodwill. It was hard to let go of some of it, but I'm ultimately glad that I don't have a closet full of things I don't wear). I wrote at the beginning of the year that I was going to set 6 goals, but that number was pretty arbitrary, and 3 goals felt manageable, so I'm sticking with that for February.

Saturday night, I made this delicious salad to take to a potluck. It had a Sherry Shallot Dijon dressing from Inspiralized, but for the salad, I just tossed together spring mix, spinach, spiralized red onion, spiralized granny smith apple, pecans, died cranberries, and parmesan cheese.


Sunday was 77 and sunny, and we enjoyed every bit of the unseasonably warm weather with a walk at the nature preserve. Unfortunately, it didn't last. It's still sunny, but not nearly as warm. 

Meta
IT TAKES A LOT TO MAKE A STEW! A PINCH OF SALT AND LAUGHTER TOO! (What? Stop!)

We ended the weekend with this


Honestly, so delicious! 

TOO MANY COOKS, TOO MANY COOKS, TOO MANY COOKS. 

Sorry, I'm trying to regain control. 

Last night, I was INSANELY tired. I went to sleep at 9:00PM to wake up at 6:15AM. I'm not sure what was going on, but I must have really needed the rest. 

Today was better. I was like super wife. I went to work, came home and made dinner and put it in the crockpot (2 hours on high if you want to do it that way). I even made these Onion Ricotta Muffins from Family Circle. Then, I went to work out. Unfortunately, these muffins took forever to cook and were not the right texture, so then I didn't feel as super! 

Wait, did someone say cook?
Noooooooooooooooooooo. 

Okay, if you figure out how to regain control of you mind now that you have heard that song, let me know! Also, when I was a child, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I would like my TV credit intro song to be like (ala Full House, Seventh Heaven, etc.) 

TOO MANY COOKS, 
<3 
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