Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's good to be back

After an extended holiday off of work and blogging, I am back. I have lots to update on, and thank you M for keeping me accountable for updating!

I have pictures too! I've updated my entry about decorating my apartment....First Bite Boulder....apple tart making...pot pie recipe....

The holiday was great. M got me an apron! I've never had one. When M's mom came over to make the apple tart with us, she wore one and I've wanted one ever since. Mine is so cute, it's black and white and has cute little pockets with bows on them. It reminds me of Paris. Ironically enough M's mom also bought her an apron and is black and white! M also gave me a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser (loves it) and two framed pictures of us from our Paris trip. I went the practical route and gave M a set of rechargable batteries and charger for her camera, a set of spatulas, and a pastry blender, which will come in handy for the next time we make pie crust.

Kristen gave me this--
even if I did a recipe a day I still wouldn't get through them all in a year!

Santa brought me my very own digital camera, and it's pink! I also got a new 3 in 1 printer, fax, and scanner, a comfy fleece blanket, and a gift card to Payless! It was nice being home, I enjoyed playing Wii with my lil brother and sleeping in. Everyone loved my cookies too! For Christmas Eve, we went to church downtown at Holy Ghost with my aunt and cousin. I saw an old high school classmate--it was awkward, but thankfully I didn't have to talk, as it we were in church. Afterwards we ate at Cheesecake Factory, and then went home. Andrew and I set out cookies for Santa, one oatmeal chocolate chip walnut, one chocolate star-shaped sugar cookie, and a glass of water. Unfortunately we had run out of milk, but Santa didn't seem to mind--he finished all the cookies and drank most of the water.

On Christmas day we were expecting to have my Dad's side of the family over, but my grandma and her significant other didn't come, as he had gone to the emergency room the night before because he tripped on some ice while shoveling snow and injured his back. I did get to see my aunt/godmother, and my uncle and his girlfriend. It was all very low key and my mom and I made good appetizers. We had a relish tray, chips and dip, and fresh mozzerella over tomato, topped with fresh basil and drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yum! I have pictures on my new camera to upload of this wonderful feast. For the main course we had ham from the Honey Baked Ham store, smoked turkey, mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies. We were all so stuffed we didn't even break open the pies we bought--apple and cherry--from Village Inn. Oh well.

I was sad to leave home on Sunday but I had made plans with S, so I reluctantly left. We met up at Il Vicino, where we ended up sharing a side salad; lasagna; pizza with marinara sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, tomatoes, and fresh oregano; and new york style cheesecake with raspberry sauce. It was a full meal, complete with a glass of cabernet for each of us. It was great to catch up and to talk about the upcoming year. I have set some goals (both short and long term) already, so I'm excited to get started. We made plans to attend the jazz festival in February downtown, and have agreed to try and hang out more in 2009. After dessert we exchanged gifts. I gave S a giftcard to Starbucks, and he got me....a HELLO KITTY WATERCOOLER. I was completely surprised because he's always making fun of me and Hello Kitty. I haven't set it up yet but it's so cute, I can't wait to use it. And it's perfect for me. hehe.

Speaking of Hello Kitty stuff, I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday on my lunch hour and I got the new 2009 Hello Kitty Engagement Calendar. It's really cute, and I love that it's hardback and it was 50% off, so I scored a bargin and paid $8.10 total, including tax.

Right now, work is going along well. I am so glad I had last week off--I feel refreshed. I haven't figured out what I'm doing for New Years Eve yet--I was apparently invited to go over to my second cousin's house, or spend it with a boy I don't really know. Whatever I do, I want to have fun and bring in the new year. Hopefully Kristen and Josh will have something planned for us all to do, including M and her bf. So we will see! Time is a tickin, that's for sure.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chicken Pot Pie

Last month M and I made Chicken Pot Pie, courtesy of Oprah.com. It didn't take long, and it used up some extra chicken we had in the fridge. I would make it again, but next time I am going to reduce the amount of cornbread. I like cornbread but I felt like it took over the filling and I like my pot pie nice and juicy. Also please note--we didn't use any Tabasco sauce.


Here's the original recipe:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups chopped Roasted Chicken
  • 1/2 cup frozen sweet petite peas
  • 1 potato, diced and boiled
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped, cooked carrots
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Dash of Tabasco® sauce
  • 3/4 cup white or yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
To make filling: Preheat the oven to 400°. Spray a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray. In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and unsalted butter together. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add in flour until blended. Slowly stir in 2 cups of heated chicken stock, whisking well. Cook mixture over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 4 minutes. Stir in chicken, peas, potato, carrots, salt, pepper and Tabasco®. Pour into a 2-quart ovenproof casserole dish coated with cooking spray and spread mixture evenly.

To make crust: In a bowl, stir cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir milk, egg and canola oil until well combined. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Spoon the batter evenly on the filling. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 22 to 25 minutes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Procrastination Tips

#1. Plant maintenance. You're plant can always benefit from some simply grooming--clean out the dead leaves, water it, place it in a good spot for sun, etc.

#2. Organize. Whether it be your post it collection, pens, or stocking up on supplies, your desk and desk drawers always need to be organized.

#3. Update your Facebook status. Or write on your friends wall.

#4. Play games online. Try Yahoo! games, or Miniclip. Just make sure to alt+tab over when your boss walks by.

#5. Look at your blogroll, and others. Not only can you learn new recipes, random facts, or local events, it's bound to waste a good 10 minutes or so.

#6. Check all your e-mail accounts. Maybe even e-mail that friend you've been meaning to e-mail for the past month. Now's a perfect time to do it.

#7. Take a walk around the office.

#8. Refill your water, make some tea/coffee, or grab a snack.

#9. Catch up with a co-worker. Now's the time you want to hear all their stories. The more questions you have, the longer the conversation will last.

#10. Check your bank account balance, pay bills online, or put books at the library on hold.

....more to come. Additions are welcome too!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas is coming...

I've been busy, hence why I haven't been updating lately. All the days have meshed together but I know alot of my time has been taken up by baking cookies. I sent out my cookies for the Cookie Swap last week, as well as Christmas cards. I baked sugar cookies this weekend with lemon icing. And I've been wrapping gifts and shopping the past couple weeks too.

This past Saturday we had friends over and decorated and built gingerbread houses, made paper chains, drank holiday punch, and put up Christmas tree lights and snowflakes cut out of paper on our windows. Our apartment is truly festive this year.

Paper Chains--We made Christmas and Kwanzaa themed ones

Our gingerbread houses!

Closeup of the one Kristen, Josh, and & I made

Closeup of M & Jake's roof--so festive!

On Monday I went to my lil brother's Christmas play and caught up with my parents. I haven't been home in awhile--just too busy or dreading driving in the snow. And then yesterday I had my court date. It went well--I talked my original three point ticket down to a 1 point ticket for a "defective headlamp." And my pictures helped save me on the court fees--I had to pay $69.50 total, most of which was mandatory court fees anyways. I feel relieved. Now all I need is a neck massage and a good night's sleep.

Hopefully everyone is celebrating the holidays in style. I have my company Christmas party tonight & more baking ahead of me this weekend. I will post recipes when I post pictures of my wonderful cookies.

Monday, December 8, 2008

All I want for Christmas...

....is to have all my holiday shopping done!

On Saturday M's mom came over and the three of us baked an apple tart.

Ready to be baked

Fresh out of the oven

Ready to eat!

None of us had done this before, but I think it was successful. We took our time baking and listened to the traditional holiday music channel, courtesy of Comcast. The recipe can be found here.

We sipped mimosas

It was very nice and relaxing, and I have to say, I think the beginning of baking coupled with the holiday music helped me start to get into the holiday spirit. I was telling M that when you're away in college, you miss home, and want to celebrate the holidays. But sometimes when you're already "home," the feeling can be harder to achieve.

Luckily, I have vague ideas of what people want this season, so I can get them soon. Other things I'm looking forward to are decorating and building a gingerbread house, and baking.

Have you done your holiday shopping?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Art, art, art

I think the best part of my job lately is the fact that I get to interview people. No, it's not the stiff, "give me a good quote to use" kinda of questions, but more or less informal. Talking about why they painted something or listening to their crazy stories. In one interview today, I had an artist who loves to paint outside, or en plein air. She shared with me how just last week when she was painting in a field, she had a cow come up and lick the paint off her canvas, and recently had a horse go through her purse! You can't make this stuff up! Another artist I talked to, who lives in Hawaii, was telling me how in her new series of paintings, she didn't use any brushes--just her hands, rags, and sponges. How the heck did she get it looking this good? I suppose that's why she's an artist. I'll just stick to writing.

I've got two more artists to interview this afternoon--hopefully they are just as interesting.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

So about that snow....

I think I spoke, or rather, wrote, too soon. We are getting dumped with snow at work. I seriously drove like an old person today--like 20mph the entire way from my apartment to work. Only took me an hour to get in. And the only reason why I even ventured up to Boulder was because of my radio show today at noon. After that I'm fleeing for the warmth of my apartment and working from home this afternoon. Thank God.

The one perk of coming into the office today was that there were free breakfast treats in the kitchen--scones, muffins, danishes. All of them looked really good too.

Update: The breakfast treats are from Spruce Confections, no wonder why they are delicious!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Driving in the Snow...

I for one am happy that it hasn't snowed much lately. Yes, snow would add to the ambience of the holiday season. BUT, snow is such a pain to drive in, especially when you don't have a four-wheel drive SUV.

Perhaps my bad driving experience last winter has contributed to my dread of driving in the snow too. Last winter I was leaving my apartment complex, and as I was coming down the mini hill, I saw a car had spun out and that cops were on the scene. So I freaked, and slammed on my brakes, which made my entire car spin, and I almost hit the curb--I missed it by like 2 inches. I was so shook up, becuase I'd never done that before, so I just sat in my car, until a guy in an SUV came and moved my car for me. Given this unfortunate experience, I now dread driving anywhere in the snow, especially because all the areas by my apartment are hilly! Maybe if all the roads in Colorado were flat like they are in Kansas, maybe, winter-time driving wouldn't be such a pain.

It's snowing right now, I know. But, I'm not worried because a) none of it's sticking to the roads, much less the ground, and b) I know this weekend is supposed to be nice, so even if it does snow the predicted 2-4 inches, it'll melt soon enough.

I'm considering asking S to show me how to deal with fishtailing in the snow--he knows how to drift in the snow, so I imagine that it's very similar to driving in the snow, and I do have alot of open space aka empty parking lots nearby.... it might be something to try this winter.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cookie Swap

I'm participating in my first ever cookie swap! I'm really excited. I've been scouring the 'net and asking relatives for recipes.

So far the suggestions I've gotten are for "no bake" cookies from my aunt, my mom's oatmeal raisin recipe, and sugar cookies. I personally want to try making gingerbread cookies, but we'll see. I don't want anything too hard, as I'm most likely going to be taking over my mom's kitchen when I make these because she has a mixer. The people in my group request that there be no nuts in any of the cookies, which I don't mind at all.

Readers: If y'all have any cookie suggestions, let me know!

Here's the cookie swap details:
  • Each person will make 3 dozen cookies and will mail each of their partners 1 dozen cookies along with the recipe.

  • Cookies must be home baked.

  • Cookies must be prepared by adult hands, no little fingers in the dough.

  • All cookies should be mailed by December 6th.

  • Cookies should ship well packaged in air tight containers (like Ziploc bags) and packed well with paper or bubble wrap to avoid breakage.

  • You need not have a blog to swap with us, anyone is welcome!

Monday, December 1, 2008

I'm backkkk

Thanksgiving and generally getting away from the city was great. We stayed in a bigger condo this time--it was awesome. My parents slept in a king size bed in a loft, then the main level had a living room, kitchen, and 2 bedrooms with queen size beds. And the downstairs level had another mini kitchen, complete with its own bathroom/shower and queen size bed.

It was perfect. Well, almost. The kitchen appliances were kinda crazy. Case in point: On Thanksgiving day, we put the turkey in the oven, and set the cooking time for 3 hours. Well, in between that time, we put brie and garlic cloves in there to cook, and what we didn't know, but found out the hard way, was that everytime we opened the oven door, the oven would completely stop baking! Luckily, my mom checked on the turkey about an hour after we put in it there, and that's when she discovered the problem. Another problem we had was with the stove top. I ended up making all three sides--Cook's Illustrated Green Bean Casserole, glazed carrots, and squash with browned butter and fresh thyme. The problem I had, was that the stove top wouldn't cool down--for one of the dishes I had to go from high to lo, and even though the knob was on lo, it felt like high. I ended up just using different burners. And my glazed carrots--the easiest recipe out of all of them--I didn't read the directions right. *my bad* So instead of glazed carrots, we had steamed carrots--probably healthier anyways, right? In addition to the oven problems, my mom broke the blender, and we later discovered that only the right side of the toaster actually worked. We did survive though--instead of eating at 3:30, we ate at 6.

Good times were had by all. We didn't get any snow up there, so no one skiied, and it was 45 degrees on Thanksgiving Day. Of course when we left on Saturday, it was snowing. Figures! While we were up in Steamboat we went swimming in the hot springs and it snowed while we were out there! I caught snowflakes on my tongue. It was awesome. I had a blast. I even stayed the weekend with the family. It was nice having my mom make my meals, be around our dog Hailey, and play Wii with my lil brother. And I quasi helped my other brother with some RA stuff. I don't miss homework, that's for sure. All in all, it was a great weekend--I don't wanna be here at work, but I'm thankful to have a job.