Thursday, November 28, 2013

10 Of The (Less Obvious) Things I'm Thankful For

With it being Thanksgiving, it only seemed fitting to make a list of all the things I'm thankful for in my life. We covered the basics as a family giving thanks for being together for the holidays; having a warm meal on the table (today & every other day); a roof over our heads & gas in the car. Material things like clothing & immaterial things like love that I sometimes take for granted a little more often than I'd like to admit.

Those are some of the many reasons that readily come to mind when I think about all that I have to be thankful for. That being said, I wanted to share some of the less obvious things I'm thankful for just to keep it interesting around here.

[[1]] Pumpkin beer coming out in August - I welcome any extra months to drink it

[[2]] The "Do Not Disturb" button on my phone at work for those mornings I'm just not feelin' it

[[3]] Snapchat: a creative way to keep in touch with friends around the country since I'm horrible at picking up the phone

[[4]] My parent's Comcast password: so I don't have to pay for all of the premium channels and I can keep up with shows on the go

[[5]] The snooze button: because I will never be a morning person and I will continue to snooze my alarm 4-5 times a morning

[[6]] 2-in-1 shampoo & conditioner: I just don't have the time to shampoo and condition after snoozing my alarm 5 times in the morning

[[7]] Text message/email (or any form of communication that's not a phone call)

[[8]] Avocado: I could put it on anything from burgers to eggs

[[9]] The little old man & his wife who vacuum our apartment building entryway and take the trash out to the street each week

[[10]] Listen to YouTube: so I don't have to spend my money paying Apple for individual songs to update my playlists

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! As I read this morning, "it's not what's on the table, it's who's around the table" today!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

If My Parents Only Knew...

I was a good girl growing up. Correction. I am still a good girl and I'm still growing up. But really, I never broke curfew or got a demerit in high school. I always had straight A's and hung out with a "good crowd." But that doesn't mean that I never did anything just means that I never got caught.

And there I am saying "what do you think you know??" to my parents with just one look.

Sometimes I feel like I didn't always give my parents enough credit when I was younger but I do think that they knew a lot more than I thought they did. That being said, I'm excited to link up with Rebecca and Erin and without further ado...

if my parents only knew...

[[1]] Little bro and I always knew the appropriate codes and how to get around the parental control TV settings. Hate to break it to ya but 1-2-3-4 and 4-3-2-1 weren't that creative and it didn't take us long to crack the code.

[[2]] That I had my first sip of alcohol freshman year of high school. A little rum mixed with some red gatorade in the bleachers at a football game that first year and boy did I think that was cool. It paid to know some of the older girls on the field hockey team but, alright it was literally a sip...I said I was a good girl, right?

[[3]] I used to sneak out of the building in high school, prop the doors open with a pencil and go out for lunch or to have a break. I didn't need notes from you because that's what my community service class, newspaper "press pass" and passes from my homeroom teacher were for. Free reign. I should add that my homeroom teach wrote me notes whenever I wanted - be it to skip Math class or to get breakfast - because he thought I behaved too much but I have to thank him since I never got caught.

[[4]] That time in high school when you went on vacation and left little bro and I to fend for ourselves? Yeah, we had people over. What the neighbors keeping an eye on us didn't see were the cars parked at the tennis court down the street. And that perfectly circular brown circle in the lawn that you came back and we let you whole heartedly believe was a grass fungus? We burned the grass accidentally when we moved the fire pit and it's base to the yard. Sorry we even let you have professionals come look at it.

[[5]] 90% of the time when you ask if my shirt is brand new and I say "no, it's only new to you" - it's new. Brand new and yeah, I just went shopping...again...and it's the first time I've actually worn it. I can usually find a bargain, though, and you don't have to worry about me breaking the bank. It's more breaking that dresser that you let me have when I moved out after college.

So there you have it. Some of the things I think you don't know but that you've probably known for awhile. And that I'm willing to share today. Hope you feel like you learned a little bit about me today and here's to hoping that I'm as good a parents one day (one day far away) as mine are to me!

Friday, November 22, 2013

It's The Little Things In Life

Weekends are for relaxing and doing exactly what you enjoy doing. For me, it's the little things that keep me happy. It's seeing friends, checking things off my to-do list, relaxing and not feeling like I have any obligations hanging over my head. Nowhere I need to be but don't actually want to be. Last weekend was the perfect example of that for me.

On Friday, after a long work week (they all seem long these days), I grabbed drinks with coworkers and it was the perfect start to the weekend. Little thing #1: the bar still had Shipyard Pumpkinhead on tap. It was a welcome surprise since everything fall seemed to go out the door as quickly as my Halloween candy wrappers went in the trash. With or without the cinnamon rim, that's my go to & I was happy to could order it and not just default to whatever the previous person got. I'm not exactly a beer connoisseur..

[[Side note: my boyfriend tells me that no one actually says "grabs drinks" but I beg to differ. Sometimes I think I like to differ just to be difficult but this one I really believe. There have to at least be some gals out there on my side?]]

Little thing #2 was finally having a weekend where people's schedules just worked. I'm not one to plan social activities far in advance and to be able to text a couple of friends and successfully make plans for that same night seemed like a small victory.

We went shopping and strolling on Newbury Street since it was such a nice evening and little thing #3, I found the perfect brown booties at +Nordstrom Rack. I'd been searching for ankle boots to wear with jeans all fall and was excited to stumble across them - reasonably priced to boot (pun intended)! Because I knew they were something I'd been needing - I use the term "need" loosely - I decided to treat myself.

After, we had a dinner at nearby Parish Cafe on Boylston Street. We didn't even have to wait for a table because Little thing #4...wait for it...we ate dinner outside in the middle of November! I won't go so far as to say we were hot or anything but we were comfortable enough to linger over our meal and enjoy it outside sans heat lamps. The food was delicious and I'm already craving their onion rings again.

Sunday was a day to check off all of my mundane to-do's like go to the gym, clean up around the apartment and go grocery shopping. It's little things like feeling slightly productive that make me feel good. And, o yeah, little thing #5, getting an unexpected discount at +Dunkin' Donuts for buying a coffee during their daily happy hour from 3 - 6 p.m.

Here's to hoping for a similar weekend as the rain clouds roll out & Friday night rolls in!

Friday, November 15, 2013

All American Meal: Sweet Potato Fries & A Burger

So what I've gathered from looking at which posts are read most often, is that everyone (and by everyone I mean the small fraction of the population who's reading this) enjoys food as much as I do. I guess that just means I'll have to keep trying new recipes and that those tips to make time fly at the gym are going to really start coming in handy...

To cater to your needs and have something to write about I decided to try my hand at making healthy, baked sweet potato fries. I swear I didn't do it to satisfy my own cravings. And since you can't have just sweet potato fries for dinner, I made a turkey burger to go with them.

For the fries, you will need: 1 sweet potato (per person), olive oil, salt & pepper and an oven preheated to 450 degrees.

Step 1: Use potato peeler to remove all of the skin from the sweet potato. Once the sweet potato has been peeled, cut off each end. Chop up the remainder into thick, fry-sized chunks.  
Step 2: Throw your cut fries into a plastic bag to season. Coat the sweet potato chunks with olive oil and add in sea salt and pepper. I kept it simple for my first go at these but you can play around with different spices. I'm thinking that brown sugar might be interesting to throw in the mix to give the fries a sweet & salty taste next time. 

Step 3: Spread the fries out on a baking sheet and make sure to arrange them in a single layer. Next, throw them in the preheated oven to bake.

Step 4: Bake for 10 minutes, flip the fries and bake for another 15 minutes. I've read that corn starch will help the fries crisp up a bit more but I didn't find it necessary.

I used ground turkey for the burger and seasoned it with minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper. Form the ground turkey into burger patties and grill for about 5 minutes on each side. Turn the heat down to low and add on a slice of swiss cheese to heat until melted. Finally, top with a slice or two of avocado and serve with the french fries!

I was able to use leftover sweet potato in this the next night but first things first, bon appetit! Of course I've made myself hungry just writing this now... Comment and let me know if you try them with different seasoning!

Monday, November 11, 2013

How To Tell When It's Time To Unplug

...I forget my phone at home while running errands, or worse, going to to work.
I like to think that I'm not one of those people who's glued to technology but that's hard to believe when the truth is that I feel bare without my phone. And, truth is, I'm so addicted that I even changed the time on my phone to get more Candy Crush lives last night (I had to play) & was confused to find my watch 30 minutes behind all morning.

Here are some signs it might be time to take a technology timeout:

[[1]] The above happens. You're crazy enough to change the time on your phone - and forget you did it - to play an addicting little game. Unless you're looking for ways to get yourself into the office early, you (and by you I mean I) should probably lay off it.

More than 8 minutes left til my next life?!

[[2]] Your cellphone battery is drained by the time you're ready for an afternoon coffee. You found a million reasons why you had to refresh your Twitter/Facebook feed on your phone under your employer's radar...there may have been a few selfie Snapchats in the mix to show how miserable cube life is. But now the red battery icon is glaring at you.

[[3]] You're always on the defensive in terms of how long it takes you to respond. Someone simply asks you if you got their text or email (because you didn't respond) and you immediately jump down their throat on the defensive. You likely saw it immediately (you're glued to your phone after all) and completely forgot...which is totally fine but in a world where we're glued to technology, it's hard to believe you never actually saw it.

[[4]] The excuses just start rolling off your tongue. Not just defensive excuses to combat #3...but excuses why you always need your phone. Are there that many people really trying to reach you all day, every day? It's not just what if something happens to me and I need to contact's what if something happens to someone else and they need to contact me?! If you really think about it, we're all being pretty ridiculous.

[[5]] You check your phone and answer phone calls in completely inappropriate settings. I make calls at work frequently and can't believe people actually answer the phone at such inopportune times. I have called people (and they answered) while they were in the middle of a massage, driving a tractor, getting in the shower and in the middle of a meeting. Don't even get me started on people who talk while going to the bathroom.

If any of the above sound familiar to you then I have one question, why not leave your phone behind for a day?

P.S. Does anyone have any tips to get past level 147??? I mean.. JK

P.P.S. I haven't used it but click here for some Candy Crush cheats

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Moment Of Truth

I enter contests like it's my job. I never win but I convince myself every time that I will. Every damn time. And when I don't win every time, I just start looking for the next one that I will win.

Should I be embarrassed right now? Probably. But today's the moment of truth. I'm winning HGTV's Urban Oasis - I'm just waiting to be notified right now.

But seriously, who could pass up a chance to win an incredible, fully furnished apartment in the W Hotel in Boston? I just unchecked the boxes so I wasn't spammed with daily emails and checked the box so my info was remembered and I didn't have to re-enter the same thing every day. Can you tell I'm a pro at this?

In conclusion, I have no real insight for you today - I just ask that you keep your fingers crossed for me! I promise I'll invite you over to my new home once I'm settled in after winning. I'll even cook you up a sweet meal if you're lucky (and you don't make fun of me for entering contests)!

Here's to hoping it's a really happy Monday! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

How To Make The Perfect, Healthy Fall Meal

Last night I walked into my apartment after work and was immediately met with a delicious aroma wafting from the kitchen. After taking a look at the deliciousness that my roommate was cooking up and knowing that I had to go to the grocery store that evening I decided then and there that I was going to do my best to make the exact same thing for dinner. Yes, I totally copied her.

The best part about this dish? It involves only a few cheap ingredients and little cleanup. Music to my ears. I'm not big on measurements and usually just go off of how hungry I am (usually hungry) but here's what you need:

Kale Greens
Butternut Squash
Potato Gnocchi
Garlic & Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (to taste)

First, peel the butternut squash and chop it up into bite sized chunks. Make sure you have a good knife and peeler for this! Throw it in a saute pan with some olive oil and garlic and brown the squash.

*Be careful working with the squash! I quickly noticed that my fingertips were starting to peel (didn't hurt) and learned here about the sap that they excrete as a self defense mechanism that was causing my crazy reaction. Maybe I'm too sensitive? / Has this happened to you?

Next, add about a cup of water and the kale greens to the pan and let them cook and wilt down. Add as much (or as little) of the greens as you want and some crushed red pepper flakes to taste! Once the kale is cooked down, add the package of gnocchi.

Heat the mixture of squash, kale and gnocchi through and let the remaining water soak into the gnocchi or eventually evaporate. I didn't really keep track of time during this part - just keep an eye on the water level and the gnocchi consistency. You don't want a runny-watery mixture or uncooked gnocchi!

Just keep stirring...just keep stirring...just keep stirring. Add some freshly grated parmesan cheese in as you go so it will melt down and make everything nice and gooey. 

For the finishing touch, scoop everything into an oven safe dish, sprinkle some extra Parmesan on top and put it under the broiler for 5 minutes to let the top crisp up a bit. If you're not too cheap to own/buy a good, cast iron saute pan, I'm jealous....And you can just throw the whole thing under the broiler without using another dish you'll have to wash (sucks to not have a dishwasher).

This dish fills you up, leaves you with leftovers, and did I mention it was easy? Thanks to my roommate for much needed kitchen inspiration!

Check out my recipe featured at Weekend Potluck and share with your friends!