Thursday, November 20, 2014

I was browsing a few blogs this week and since I have nothing particularly exciting to write about right now, I thought I'd do a little life lately post. Sometimes these moments that aren't going so fast that you can't even stop to catch your breath are the best ones. 
I stole this particular one from my friend, Theresa.
Making lists- lists of lists, actually. Lists for things that I need to do, packing lists for my next trip (which is only a week after I get back on Monday- Portland, Seattle and then Philly) and lists for the holidays.

Cooking fall dinners. I love being able to whip out the crockpot and cook heartier food. My current crockpot favorite is a chicken enchilada soup (minus the beans, because I can't do the beans).

Drinking a diet coke. Guilty! Water the rest of the day...

Reading Outliers by Malcom Gladwell and Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

Wanting chocolate. I've had the worst sweet tooth lately. I need to get myself in check.

Looking forward to the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorites and the weather is finally feeling like fall.

Playing Milo Green Pandora station. If you haven't heard of this band yet, you should definitely go check them out.

Wasting time online- Pinterest. I can't help myself. Also, new shows. There are so many good ones on tv in the fall.

Wishing I was laying on a beach reading those 2 books I'm in the middle of. A fruity drink in hand would be wonderful too.

Enjoying spending time in Philly with Bret this week while we are both working. I love cooking dinner together and getting to spend the week together during a normal week.

Wondering what to get Bret for his birthday next month. Why are birthday gifts for guys so much harder than for girlfriends?

Loving Taylor Swift's 1989 album. Yes, I admit it, I'm one of the 1.2 million girls in the country who rushed out and bought it the day it came out and I'm not going to apologize for that. She is fabulous.

Hoping that Bosley gets better. He has been to the vet a few times over the last few weeks because of a little infection he has (probably from a bruise or bite). He's on 25 days of doggie antibiotics (25 days!!). None of this seems to be slowing him down, but I still feel sorry for the pup.

Marveling at the fact that it's almost 2015. Seriously, where did this year go?

Needing to get serious again about working out and eating healthy. I have really let it slip the last few months and I'm not making any excuses- it was 100% my fault. I need to make a plan and stick to it and get back to my healthy routine and habits.

Smelling the crisp air here in Philly. It smells so good. It's cold! 

Wearing lulu pants and a soft hooded pullover that I got from TJ Maxx 2 weeks ago. Love that store.

Noticing the differences on the east cost vs California. There are so many and I swear, I'm shocked by each one I find out. Did you know that you can't buy any alcohol in the grocery store here in PA? You have to go to a liquor store. Not even wine! Also, there are rarely seat covers in public bathrooms anywhere here. So bizarre.

Thinking that I should probably make an apointment to get my hair done when I get home. Its a little rat nesty. Not cute.

Feeling happy. I could elaborate, but that is probably an entirely other post. Just happy with life right now.

Bookmarking does Pinning count as bookmarking? Ok good, I thought so.

Confessing that I've been drinking far too many diet cokes. It needs to stop because that stuff is SO bad for you and I know this, but the addiction is serious.

Opening so many e-mails I can barely keep track anymore.


New York Weekend

Monday, November 17, 2014

I've never been to NYC. I know, pause for reaction. I feel like I've been just about everywhere else and it has definitely been on my list as a city that I have to visit (and soon), but I've never had the opportunity. 
Bret and I spent the weekend in NY and we managed to pack a lot into the 2 days we were there. 
We had dinner at Bobby Flay's restaurant, Bar Americain, and it was excellent. I was hoping that it wouldn't be too touristy, and we didn't want to go clear across town for dinner since we were staying in Time Square, so after looking at some reviews, this place looked like a winner. Winner it definitely was. I had mussels and Bret had cioppino and we shared a tuna tar tare and could have probably had just about everything else on the menu as well. I was kind of hoping we'd see Bobby but he must have been competing against someone for best Mac n' Cheese (and beating them). 
 After dinner, Bret took me to the top of Rockefeller Center to the observation deck so that we could get a great view of the city. Like any good tourists, we took a million pictures. 
On Saturday morning, we slept in a little and then walked down to Central Park, grabbed pastries at an amazing little Italian place near the park, and walked around eating and looking at the gorgeous trees and people running and sweet little families playing in the park. It was freezing cold and we were bundled up but something about this huge open space in the middle of NYC was magical. 
I wanted to go see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty but wasn't sure if we'd have enough time. After spending a little bit of time in the park, we took the subway to South Ferry and bought tickets to go see both. I was excited because I wanted to see where my mom's grandparents came to the US from Italy. 
I know we have all seen the movie Hitch, but let me tell you, that was a huge lie. The books with all of the names of the immigrants who came over (over 12 million people) are no longer in existence. They were recycled after all of the records were moved to microfilm in the 40's. You can look up the records in an online database now, but I'm still glad we got to see the building where everyone was processed. 
We were able to find records of both grandparents which was very neat to see.
At the Statue, we got off of the ferry and walked around for a while, reading the info about the history and taking pictures. It was so freezing cold right on the water, but it is still one of those things that everyone should get the chance to do.
It is so hard to squeeze so much stuff into such a short period of time in a city like NY, and I'm looking forward to going back, but it was a great first trip. We are already planning our next trip and it definitely includes seeing Book of Mormon on Broadway. 

Life Lately

Friday, October 24, 2014

I just got home from being in Portland for the week for work. While it was nice to experience the seasons (finally), I am so ready to just relax. I am heading out of town this weekend to visit two girlfriends a few hours away, but after that, I plan on doing not much of anything for the next few weeks. 

Bosley was pretty sick a few weeks ago. Apparently, he inhaled some dust or allergens and was coughing/hacking up a lung. After a lengthy vet visit (and vet bill, eesh), we were on our way with 4 different kinds of doggy drugs. Thank god for pet insurance.
waiting patiently to be seen by the doctor
I started volunteering on the weekends with a horse riding therapy center about 30 miles from Sacramento. The center works with special needs kids and allows them to ride horses while working on different things, whether it be muscle mobility or simply learning to be comfortable with large animals, take directions from an instructor, or just learning to be social with other adults/strangers. It is an amazing program that I've really come to enjoy working with. 
Sometimes the horses can be the most ornery.
way more interested in eating than getting ready for her lesson
Bret was home for several days last week and it was so great to spend more time with him. We met the families on this trip and I'm really glad we decided to do it. He was home visiting his family (and me, duh) and his new niece. I have to say, I'm not usually one to swoon over babies, but... come on... 
She is pretty adorable and so so tiny. 
At one point she sneezed, and everyone thought it was about the cutest thing they had ever heard. It really was. 
I was in Sf for most of the week a few weeks ago for a huge work conference that we have every year. To say that it was weird being back in SF was an understatement. It just didn't feel... right... anymore and I was quickly getting tired of being there. 
We had a fun week and the conference went really well, but it was exhausting with all of the events and being up late every night. 
 Me and a friend from work in the huge chair at the Clift Hotel

The concert at the end of the end of the conference was a lot of fun. This year, Aerosmith and Macklemore were performing and let me just say.... Aerosmith was incredible. Macklemore was just- meh- but Steven Tyler and Joe Perry were absolutely amazing. They put on a great show and it was so packed.They are still as weird as ever, but I swear, Steven Tyler hasn't aged a day since 40. Must be all of the drugs and women.
you have to ride the ferris wheel on Treasure Island

 Happy Friday and I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Easy Butternut Squash Soup

Monday, October 6, 2014

Despite the fact that it was in the 90's yesterday, I have been craving something fall-ish, so I decided to make butternut squash soup. I have been sick the past few days, and something about soup always sounds good when you are sick, no matter what time of the year. Plus, maybe if I start acting like its fall in CA, it will actually come. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm over summer. I know that sounds horrible, poor me with the sunshine lasting well into October, but I'm ready for some sweaters and rain and holidays. 
I started with a recipe that I found here and made a few adjustments to it. This soup was quick to whip up, but the time consuming part of this is roasting the butternut squash. I don't know why I didn't think to do this before with other recipes. I always buy the squash already cut up because it takes me SO long to hack up a squash. With this recipe, you simply cut the squash in half, seed them, season and roast. Once that is done and they are tender, you can scoop the flesh of the squash right into the soup and toss the skins. 
the secret in this recipe is the granny smith apple
Butternut Squash Soup:
 2 medium sized butternut squashes, cut in half, seeded and placed on a baking sheet lined with foil
1 medium sized granny smith apple, diced
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
8 fresh sage leaves, chopped finely
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp butter
1. Roast the squash at 425 for about an hour, until tender. Brush the squash halves with a little bit of melted butter (1 of the 2 tbsp) and season with salt and pepper. 
2. Once the squash is ready, remove from the oven and let the squash cool
3. In a large saucepan or dutch oven (I think using the pot that you are going to make the soup in for this step makes clean up easier), melt 1 tsp of butter over medium heat and saute the diced onions, apples and sage for about 10 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat
4. Add in the chicken stock, water, S&P and scooped out butternut squash and bring to a boil, the reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes, breaking up the larger pieces of squash. Once the flavors are all melded together, remove from heat and add in the cream. 
5. An immersion blender is easiest for this step, but you can also use a regular blender, but be sure to remove the plug in the lid and put a dish towel over it while blending to allow the steam to release. Blend the soup until smooth and make sure that all of the bits of sage are well blended. 


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

There is something special about visiting a city that you have never been to for the first time. I spent the last week exploring Philly and I must say, I'm impressed. There is something charming and alive about this place and for being a huge fan of architecture and history, it did not disappoint. 
I did expect the Liberty Bell to be bigger, but nothing is ever as big in person, right? How big did I expect a bell to actually be, I don't know, but bigger than it was!
Independence Hall was incredible. To actually stand in the room where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed made my nerdy little heart skip a beat. I can't believe I've never had the chance to see all of this before now, but I'm so glad that we took the time to take it all in and see everything first hand. Benjamin Franklin's house (the foundation) is still in tact and a museum is now set up in its place. We walked by Betsy Ross' house and a few other notable locations. Philly is just full of history and I will never get bored of getting lost walking around looking at the gorgeous homes and buildings. 
I'll back up and explain why I was in Philly... because I'm sure by this point you are all wondering... 
This guy. 
He's pretty amazing and I'm pretty happy. 
The story is another post for another day, but for now, here is a bombardment of pictures. 
We attended the Air Force Ball on Thursday night. I have to humble brag for a second. I got ready in 40 minutes. Shower and everything. Oh, and I put up my hair. ALL BY MYSELF. From a youtube video. No big deal. 
That dress. So perfect. 
I rented this gorgeous thing from Rent the Runway and it worked out great for the event. I had several compliments and I got away without wearing a bra with it. Thank god for good boning. 

We went to the Black Keys concert on Saturday night and out with friends later on. The concert was a blast and I made an effort to look the part and pull off shorts with black ankle boots. When in Rome. 
I was a little Californian in culture shock because everything on the east coast is just different. The buildings are different, people drive differently and no, we did not get the chance to get a cheesesteak. Next time. Definitely next time. 

The Sunsets Never Get Old

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I don't know how you could ever get sick of Maui. Every time we visit, it seems so familiar, yet always changing at the same time. Maui is one of those places that has a little of everything and you can drive an hour and the weather changes drastically and you are in a completely different location. Beach to mountains, white sand to black sand, palm trees to pine trees. 
This trip was relaxing and exciting and we tried a few new activities that we haven't done before. I don't think it is possible to run out of things to do in this beautiful place. 
It was the perfect blend of laying by the pool and beach and exploring Maui.
And those sunsets… it was different every single night. The beach would fill up with people taking pictures and enjoying the peacefulness. We made it a point to be down on the beach every night for the sunset with a drink in hand. 
And the rainbows…
When you don't have a boyfriend to bring with you on the family vaca, you invite your bestfriendboyfriend. Chantal and I had quite the time doing a lot of nothing. Isn't that what vacation is for? Disconnecting and relaxing? 
Even though we were both working just a little, we both had plenty of time in the sun. 
We drove up to Haleakala for an all day hike. The drive was about 2 hours from the condo, clear across the island. It was a gorgeous drive along a 2 lane highway through meadows, forests and mountains. My brother's girlfriend did some research into hikes that would be interesting and different, and this one did not disappoint. We went from sea level to 9,700ft and the hike was 1,000ft down into a volcano. 
The terrain of the hike was interesting. It looked like the surface of Mars. We came across some weird birds, some weird plants and a whole lot of rock. 
We were up in the clouds and it was wet and cold. The clouds would settle and it looked like we were on a different planet, and then the clouds would clear and you could see the craters and the valley. 
It was a great hike and I'm glad we decided to try something different and experience a different side of the island. 
We figured after all of these sunsets, why not see the sunset from a little different view? The 4 of us decided to try the sunset "booze" catamaran cruise. It was 3 hours of wind (lots and lots of wind) in our hair and gorgeous rainbows and the sunset. 
Who did it better?
What kind of Hawaiian tourists would we have been without doing a luau? Exactly my thoughts. Luckily, my dad picked a GREAT one in Lahaina. The food was amazing and the dancers were excellent. Also, we have been known to tear up an all you can drink dinner… 
All in all, it was a great vacation with family and friends who might as well be family. 
And first class on the way home didn't hurt either.