Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Obsessed!

Brian was teasing me earlier tonight that I haven't had my mac n' cheese in a while. For the last several years, I ate that at least every other day! Which got me thinking, what did I replace that with? I'm a creature of habit. I have my addictions, my obsessions that I have to have.... then one day I'm done and on to the next. So I thought it would be fun to see what my current obsessions are and see how they change over time. :)

Food:
  • Cheese, particularly this kind. I eat cheese every single day, without fail!
  • Decaf, nonfat mochas. White chocolate at Starbucks on the weekends, Marshmallow at the Cherrybean Monday through Friday.
  • Strawberries & Green Onions. Not together, I just have to buy them at the store because I love eating them throughout the week. Drives Brian nuts! :)
  • Skinny Cow Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwichs. YUM.
  • Odwalla Pomegranate Lemonade or Pomegranate Limeade. Been working to cut my juice consumption a little bit, but darn that's tough!

TV Shows:
  • The Closer - so happy that new episodes are on finally!
  • Wipeout! - how can you not love this show?! Hilarious!
  • Grey's Anatomy - counting the days until it is back on. Seriously.
  • Any of the Law & Order shows or CSI shows. We watch them together! :)
  • Amazing Race, Survivor, Project Runway, Design Star & The Mole - Don't know how I ever lived without our dvr!

Playing a million times on the iPod so far this summer:
  • David Cook's version of Billy Jean
  • Mercy by Duffy
  • Leavin' by Jesse McCartney
  • Steve McQueen by Sheryl Crow (an old fav)
  • Work it Out by Beyonce (I have to hear this when I run. No real reason, guess its the right tempo! lol)

Last but not least....
Favorite Photo Subjects:
  • Scarlet of course!
  • And the kitties! :)
  • Flowers, landscapes & food
  • And last, but not least, Brian of course!
(That's the doggie's wool coat on his head! haha!)

Odds are, if I pick up my camera, I have to take pictures of these things!

Being a creature of habit, I think this list could be endless (& cover many areas!), but it is fun taking the time to stop and think about my current obsessions today. What are you obsessed with?!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Great Wall of Soledad....

Well, that's what we jokingly refer to it as! For years we've looked out at our dirt pile....uh, I mean yard ;) .... and tried to figure out what to do with the space. We've always agreed on a retaining wall. After six years of deliberation, we finally picked a material:




It's called California Gold decomposed granite. Love it! Here's what we're hoping that the wall will look like when it is done:



So here's what our dirt pile looked like to start with:



And here's what it looks like right now....





We had dirt, tumbleweeds and a fabulous concrete patio... soon, we will have dirt, tumbleweeds, a fabulous concrete patio and an awesome rock wall! At this point, I think we'll be lucky to see it done this year... that's what I am hoping for anyway! :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Leftovers and Homemade Taco Seasoning

So most days, I avoid cooking. I fully admit that I am spoiled by a husband who is an excellent cook! When I first met Brian, I'd say my culinary abilities consisted of following a few recipes my Mom made, boxes of mac n' cheese (or pastaroni!) and the very basics. I was much more suited to desserts because, well let's face it, I have a slight sugar addiction! ;) I must also state that I was never a leftovers kind of girl. Never. It has taken years to overcome that and, while I am better, I am not nearly as evolved with leftovers as Brian is!

Several weeks ago we tried Anna's recipe for Pasta Italia. We made it vegetarian by leaving out the ham (we don't eat pork too often!) and adding an entire clove of fresh garlic. YUM. Must try if you haven't had it before. Here's the challenge to Brian... how to use up the leftovers? Well, we didn't store the leftovers with the pasta and we didn't add the basalmic until serving the pasta, so the leftovers did not contain those two items. Brian's clever solution was to "fry it up" as he says by making grilled veggies sandwiches and "leftover" patties to top them off! Here's his recipe:

Brian's Veggie Sandwiches

Sourdough bread, toasted
Zucchini, sliced thin lengthwise and pan fried
Summer Squash, sliced thin lengthwise and pan fried
Leftover Pasta Italia mixture, pan fry by the spoonful (we used a giant cooking spoon) or we also add whatever cheese we have sitting around (sharp cheddar, blue, gorgonzola)
Add condiments (I like mustard only, Brian uses mustard and ketchup)
Add lettuce or spinach (I usually add spinach)
And, most important, enjoy!

As for cooking the "leftover patties", the water was cooked out of the tomatoes, melted the cheese and it all stuck together pretty well. From a practical standpoint, they were really only in the pan for a few minutes with Brian paying close attention to how much they were spreading in the pan. Sorry, no picture this time, but it really is a quick summer dinner!

So as for the actual cooking around here today, I am experimenting with my favorite basic brownie recipe (we have a brownie bakeoff at work on Wednesday, so more on that some other day) and I experimented earlier with a homemade taco seasoning mix. For weeks, we have talked about making our own taco seasoning mix, so I finally got the chance today! While we haven't used it yet, I have tasted it and cannot wait to use it:

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

First, make your own chili powder:
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin

Mix all spices throughly.

Second, add rest of the spices as follows:
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
2 ½ teaspoons onion powder
4 ½ teaspoons cumin
5 teaspoons paprika

If we really like it and intend to keep it, we will probably take the recipe and multiply it by 5 to get a full jar. Makes me want to try experimenting with other spice blends, this was fun! :)





Off to experiment with brownies now! YUM!! :)

Update: We have used the seasoning mix and it's really good!! It is definitely a keeper!! :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Monterey to Pebble Beach Training Walk

Training to walk. It sounds silly doesn't it?! But that's what I'm doing. I've done some longer walks here and there throughout the last several months. Some more challenging than others, but this was the longest distance I have walked -- 15 miles in 5 hours. We set out to walk from Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey to Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach and back, along the coastal walking/bike trail. I'm not going to lie, it was tough! But we did it and I could not have done it without Brian there by my side. Well, truth be told, several steps in front of me most of the time!! :) Highlights of our walk included:

* Three spectacular stumbles. Surprisingly, only one was mine! :) The other two belonged to Brian and I'm still laughing at them -- he's usually so coordinated!!
* One argument which resulted in 30 minutes of peaceful silence... hee hee! :) So I'm a wimp and I didn't want to walk across the golf course at Spanish Bay to get to the beach -- Brian was not happy with me!
* The look on people's faces when we told them what we were doing! Yes, we are nuts. This is not the first, nor will it be the last time we hear that! ;)
* Sea lion and sea otter watching -- many of the sea lions were "tanning" themselves on top of the kelp in the bay. Who knew they could balance like that?! Such fun animals to watch.
* Tourist watching, of course! ;)
* Best part was five hours spent together talking, laughing and spending time outdoors together!

The fog didn't burn off until the end of walk, thankfully! Now the trick is going to be finding long walking routes for the next several weeks that I can convince Brian to do with me.... yeah, that's soooo not going to happen! I think I need another victim... :) So anyway, here are the pictures!

First half of the walk, taken somewhere around Pacific Grove:



Brian was not amused once we got an hour into the walk! So much for R&R from his training! :)



After the fog burned off, we got to see this amazing view, which is what I *love* about the Central Coast:


Of course, there were the beautiful houses too -- seriously, this would be our beach house if we won the lottery!



Most importantly, we survived!



And not only did we survive, we managed to go to Costco and grab a bite to eat at Panda Express before heading home to collapse on the couch for a Law & Order marathon! All in all, it was a good walk and totally worth it. I learned that taking breaks is a really good idea and that if I do that, I will be able to get through all 60 miles in September. (And I know that Nancy and MaryAnn will be able to do that too!) While some days it is tough to get motivated, I am finding that this is really worth it because on the weeks like last week when I am able to stick with the training plan, it feels great to be able to say that I walked 33 miles in just one week! :)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Long time, no posts....

Been busy living, got distracted from writing I suppose! For the last few months, been training to walk the Breast Cancer 3 Day in San Francisco the first weekend of September. Convinced Nancy and Mary Ann to walk with me, so we'll see how that goes. Today, Brian and I walked 15 miles -- from Monterey to Pebble Beach and back in 5 hours this morning. Boy are we tired! What have I gotten myself into?! It was a foggy morning, but the sun finally peeked through the fog. Now we are just hanging out watching Tour de France (I know, it's shocking right?!).....

Back with pictures later.....

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