Monday, April 14, 2014

Recipes Worth Following

Just thought I'd pop in and share what we cooked for dinner last night because it was very good! We made this recipe, but we didn't have feta cheese on hand, so we used Parmesan. It was honestly very delicious and healthy too! We made a few other tweaks, like using 1 bunch of Swiss chard (as called for) and 1 bunch of beet greens (as we didn't have 2 bunches of chard available). Here is the result:

Another nice thing about this recipe is we have another 2 servings leftover. We can add a fresh egg and bake those servings for dinner later this week. 

We also followed this recipe for roasting beets...I wish we had bought two bunches at the farmer's market. They were unbeatable! (get it?) Fun fact: I never ate beets before dating Brendan, but they've been a staple in my diet for the last 3.5 years. 

We also watched the movie August: Osage County last night. We were fortunate enough to see the Zach Scott production of this in 2011...it definitely makes a better play than movie (or maybe that's because I saw the most talented cast), but if you don't have the opportunity to see the play, the movie still has some amazing moments that left both of us teary. 

In other news, I swooned when I saw these pink tulips at the store the other day, and I had to get them for Brendan. I think tulips are the quintessential spring flower. Seeing flowers on my kitchen table just puts me in such a good mood. 

I'm also looking forward to seeing friends tonight for our weekly yoga, dinner, and bad TV routine. Having something to look forward to on Mondays has made for a happier semester.

And speaking of the semester, we're in the teens now! Week 13 ends in a four day weekend (no school Friday or Monday for Easter), so that has me feeling optimistic. I'm relatively caught up on grading, and have a meeting to lead tomorrow. It's definitely a busy time, but it is also feeling manageable.

Here's to the Monday workday ending...get out there and do something fun this evening (though I recommend indoor fun for Midland--the air is dusty and pollen filled today).

Saturday, April 12, 2014

We Heart Saturdays

This past week was busy, especially because Brendan and I traveled to Lubbock on Friday to check out the awesome Texas Tech Writing Center. It was a very productive week though, and we even have a little mini Easter break to look forward to at the end of next week.

This morning, we woke up early to check out the Farmer's Market. We scored: Lettuce, Beets, Rainbow Chard, and these tomatoes:

I can't wait for Brendan to make some pizza! We got breakfast tacos from Oscars and coffee from Starbucks...in the morning, the temperatures are in the 60s/70s, and it feels so nice!

We also worked at See/Si MC event for a couple of hours. This is an event that the college puts on for the entire community. There were jump-jumps for the kids, prizes, lunch, presentations, and a DJ. It was a fun event! Our temperatures are hitting the 90s today...already feels like summer out there!

Up next? Dinner with our friends, but first, a nice relaxing afternoon (and maybe even a nap!) We wanted to say thanks for all the congrats about our big news last weekend. We are excited and will post updates. March was actually our biggest month ever on the blog, with 5,140 pageviews! Thank you for reading :)

Happy weekend everyone!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

We're Building A House!

In what was the biggest decision of our married lives thus far, we bought a really expensive pile of dirt today, otherwise known as a lot! 

Right where we are standing, we are building an 1,870 square foot 3 bedroom/2 bathroom/2 car garage home. If all goes according to plan, our new digs will be ready January 2015. 

So far, we've picked our floor plan, lot, and brick. In the next month or so, we will meet with the builder and finalize all of our selections. They expect to "break ground" in June. This option will allow us to build our home with all of our desired amenities (hint: our kitchen is my dream kitchen!) This will be part of a subdivision by the way...we aren't just building a house in the middle of nowhere! The community will have a pool, splash pad, and playground. 

Our decision to look to buy a home came recently, as we have decided that we intend to spend several more years in Midland. Our jobs are going really well. A few months ago, I was made the chair of a committee to build a Learning Skills Center, and Brendan, as of earlier this year has a place advising in the Honor's College Program. If courses make, we will both be teaching creative writing in the fall, and we are still happily advising the English Honor Society together. I will be traveling some for work, including a really neat conference at Disney World regarding tutoring centers. Long story short, we feel invested in what is going on, and once we knew we intended to stay, buying a house was the next logical step (rents continue to be ultra high here). 

Are we happy? Yes. Are we scared? Also, definitely yes! Thankfully, we have family members to look over paperwork and make sure we get the best possible deal on the financing end, and so that part is made a little less overwhelming. Of course, as with buying any home, there are elements of the unknown, and our closing on the new home will be pending inspections after the builders are done, so nothing is absolutely final yet.

That's our big news for now! Stay tuned for more updates, including, hopefully, an actual house where this pile of dirt is!

<3 an excited

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April 2014 Stitch Fix Review

Happy April! I really meant to do a post welcoming April earlier this week, but I was so busy at work that I didn't get around to it. I love that we're getting into spring and warm weather. I also love that April is the last full month of the Spring Semester. I'm not going to wish it away, but I do love summer if you know what I mean ;)

I have another Stitch Fix review to share with you.
Check out my last two boxes here: February and March 

Unfortunately, this box was not a success at all, which was a total bummer. The clothes were not my style and all fit baggy and loose (I'm a fitted clothes kind of gal). To understand what a miss this was for me, check out my Pinterest board, which I think shows what kind of clothes I like. Also, keep in mind that I asked for colorful clothes for spring and no jewelry. I was happy that they honored my request for no jewelry this time.

Now, here's what they sent. Stylist this time was "Jessica." It doesn't really help not having a last name.
Up first was the Mona Boyfriend Short and the Ritz Mixed Pattern Front Pocket Knit Shirt

Okay, so the back of this shirt is navy blue with white polka dots. It was weird because the front had a t-shirt material, and the back had a blouse material. This shirt is too casual for work and not something I would wear for fun. It was also 44 dollars, which is just too much for a casual top in my opinion. The shorts were a size 6, even though I have size 4 marked in my profile. I'm not sure why the stylist sent a bigger size, but they were loose in the waist and longer than I like my shorts. They were also 68 dollars, which I thought was way too much. I find beautiful shorts at Banana Republic for half that price.

Up next, the Adelyn Abstract Print Drawstring Waist Dress
Oh the horror! Notice my uncomfortable face (I tried to maintain a good sense of humor about it!) This dress was just awful on so many levels. First of all the colors and print are hideous. Then, there is that weird sheer V of fabric at the collar. Finally, this dress is a small, but was so baggy and unattractive. I couldn't wait to get this one off. It was priced at 48 dollars, which I would definitely pay for a dress if I liked it.

Up next was the Sylvestre Lace Detailed Short Sleeve Top
This top was sheer in the back, and that made it non-work appropriate. It was a very thin material and overpriced at 48 dollars. If this had been work appropriate and of better quality (there were already threads coming off of it), I would have kept it. I am confused why this was even sent to me because I asked for colorful clothes.

Last, I tried the Frany Cap Sleeve Cotton Embroidered Hemline Dress

Again, the size small was quite baggy on me. Again, this gray color is the opposite of colorful. The fit did my figure zero favors. My bra was showing. The only thing good about this dress was that it was priced right at 38 dollars (which I would pay for a dress I liked).

I knew right away that I was sending all of this back. The only plus was that I had credit, so I didn't actually lose 20 dollars. I signed up for another fix in May because I still have 55 dollars worth of credit to my name. Honestly, this was a negative experience, so I wouldn't have done it again if I had to front my own money. My past fixes have been better, so maybe May's fix will be good again. It is fun when the stylist is paying attention.

My referral link is here if you do wish to get your own fix (even after my lackluster review). My experiences in the past have been better, but I gotta be honest about each and every review.

Have you tried Stitch Fix? Did you ever get a total miss?

At least tomorrow is Friday!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Orange Marmalade Stir-fry with Tofu

I realize I haven't posted any recipes on the blog in a LONG time (like, a year and a half!) Unfortunately, Brendan is the recipe inventor in our family, while I'm the recipe writer. If it doesn't get written down immediately after invention, it doesn't get posted on the blog. We'll try to do better. In the meantime, please enjoy the most amazing thing that Brendan has concocted in a while.

Ingredients: brown rice, butter, 1 bell pepper, 1 small onion, 3 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup carrots, 1 package of firm tofu, canola oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, orange marmalade, ginger preserves, Sriracha, and sesame seeds.


Prepare 1 cup (uncooked) of brown rice (will make 2 cups) with 1 tbsp of butter in the water
*To make it Vegan, exclude the butter. 
Chop 1 bell pepper, 1 small onion, 3 cloves of garlic, and 1/2 cup carrots
Press 1 block of tofu to remove water
Cut tofu into thin triangles
In a wok, Heat 1 tbsp of canola oil on medium/medium-high
Fry the tofu until golden brown and crispy on both sides
Set the tofu aside on plate
In the wok, Stir-fry your chopped veggies from step one in 1 tbsp canola oil and 1 tsp sesame oil
When veggies are tender/crisp (about 2 minutes), add the tofu back to the wok
Cover with 4 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 4 tsp of orange marmalade, 1 tsp of ginger preserves, and a couple of dashes of Sriracha
Toss until everything is covered
Continue stirring until sauce begins to thicken
Serve over brown rice
Garnish with sesame seeds
(Will make 4 servings)

Total Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes
Deliciousness Factor: 5 out of 5 stars
This was an incredibly tasty meal. Brendan noted that it tasted like Orange Chicken from a chinese restaurant. I liked that it was healthy and full of protein and fresh veggies. We have one serving leftover, and I will definitely be taking it to work on Friday for lunch! It also wins points with both of us for being a fast meal to prepare that only uses a few dishes. Plus, it's perfect for vegans and vegetarians alike (just eliminate the butter to make it vegan). Happy cooking!

& Here's to hump day! Only one day between today and Friday!

Monday, March 24, 2014

On Taking Care of Yourself

Ah, the hectic, crazy, filled with emails work week. If your week is anything like mine, it's only Monday and you're already tired! Unfortunately, during a busy week, our own needs are usually the first thing to get neglected, but that really just compounds stress and problems later on. If you are in the middle of a busy week, I encourage you to take some time to address your own concerns; doing so will pay off in big ways, and you'll notice improvements in your happiness and peace of mind. Here are the things I strive to stay on top of, even when the going gets tough:

Eating Healthy
Stress eating is a huge problem people face. When you're exhausted or tired, fast food may seem like the easy solution; it's not. On the whole, fast food doesn't give your body energy and nutrients it most needs. If you have no groceries, find one hour after work to get this task done. Plan healthy and easy dinners. In a pinch, we eat baked potatoes and salad, pasta, split a Central Market pizza (better than ordering), eat leftovers previously prepared, or dedicate 30 minutes to an hour to whip up something healthy. There are so many cookbooks dedicated to fast recipes...and even a few ideas under the L&Z in the kitchen tab on this blog. Even if you don't prepare health food, whatever you make at home is probably better than picking up fast food. When it comes to snacking, ask yourself if you're really hungry. To test if I am going to snack, I ask myself if I would eat a fruit or veggie in that moment. If the answer is no, I'm not really hungry, I'm just looking to eat for no real reason. If the answer is yes, I make myself a health conscious snack (or, I let myself have only three Girl Scout cookies, everything in moderation!)

If it's a busy week, you probably don't have time to do a full hour at the gym three times, but assess what you do have time for, and then do that. A 30 minute jog around the neighborhood? A workout video online? A class? Chances are, you can make time somewhere in the day, even if you only do so twice a week. Exercising has a true pay off: it is an incredible way to manage stress, and you will feel so much better for having gone.

Make An Away From Email Rule
I'm an 8-5 Monday--Friday, excluding school holidays kind of email checker. While I usually check in on the weekend at some point, I do set a boundary with my students that I am in no way obligated to. During the work week, I do a 5pm check. If it isn't in my inbox at 5pm, I won't be answering it until 8 the next morning. Depending on your job, this same boundary may not work for you, but it's important to step away from work email and give yourself time to do the things you want to do.

Me Time
Use your time to yourself actively rather than passively. Scrolling Facebook doesn't make me feel relaxed at all. I'd rather spend my time on something like a bath, reading for fun, watching a show on Netflix, or spending time with Brendan or friends. When you do things that are actually important to you, it feels like a break, whereas if you do something mindless, you'll look up and wonder where the time has gone without feeling like you had a real break.

Your Health=Your Wealth
I realized, with horror, that I let a whole year go by without going to the dentist. I have dental insurance, so this was really silly, but the reason I did it was that I never made time to take care of making these appointments. Last week, I visited the dentist (and everything is fine), and I vowed I would be back in September for my 6-month check up. And guess who is going to the dentist tomorrow? Brendan. :) Also tomorrow, I will be establishing care with my new doctor and getting a massage for a pain in my shoulder. I can't say enough about this: no amount of money can compensate for your health not being attended to and something preventable becoming a big problem for you. Go get a yearly physical, go to the dentist twice a year, and take care of problems when they arise. You will be glad that you did.

Sleep, It Isn't Optional
I can make it on 6 hours of sleep, but I do much better on 7-8 or more when I can get it. Calculate how much sleep you need, make yourself a bedtime, and stick to it. Obviously, this is more difficult if you have small children, but whatever you have going on in your life, prioritizing sleep will help your body and mind become much more efficient at combating stress.

This Too Shall Pass
When life gets too busy, I always remind myself that the stress is only temporary. At some point, things will return to "normal." At this point, I think that will be May 9th, so I have to learn to not let stress dominate my life and thinking.

If Stress Starts to Take Over...
Talk to a therapist (this goes along with the section on health). Feelings of being overwhelmed can easily spiral into depression if left unaddressed (trust me, I've been there), so it's important to go talk to someone now rather than later. Most health insurance policies cover therapy, so check out your plan and make an appointment if you need to.

Hope these tips help you think about the importance of taking care of you! And guess what? Monday's over. Time for my 5pm email check!

Here's to that,

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Oh Happy Day!

This was a really busy week, but we survived it!

Last night, Brendan and I hosted the first ever induction of the English Honor Society. We had 24 students and over 100 people in the audience. I met many parents, grandparents, and children of our students, and it was really nice to have such a large group gathered to honor the students. Our Program Chair, Dean, and even the Vice-President of the college were in attendance. This year and last year have really taught me a lot about how important it is for community college students to have student life experiences. It makes me feel happy to help build those opportunities for them. Tonight, we took a group from the club to see The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged at the community theater. It was hilarious and the best show that we've seen there in the few years we've been attending shows.

We also celebrated a baby shower with friends in Midland today for Dagan and Stephanie. They were married a few weeks after us and are expecting a daughter in June. My cousin Allie had a baby shower today as well in San Angelo, so I was thinking of her today and celebrating from afar. Her daughter is due in April.

We're thankful for the chance to rest tomorrow before heading into week TEN of the semester (we're in the double digits...it's hard to believe!). We have a whole bunch of nothing planned, except maybe a trip to the grocery store. We've been addicted to True Detective lately, so we'll probably hole up and watch that mostly. The show was written by a guy that attended the M.F.A. program at McNeese. It's so weird to see Lake Charles featured in a show. I jokingly describe Lake Chuck as "the twilight zone," but I really miss living there.

Hope whatever you do tomorrow, your Sunday is your fun day!

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