Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Recent Pinterest Wins

It has been a few months since divulging to the internet at large the wins and losses of Pinterest, but have no fear. Today is your lucky day. I love seeing what is on everyone else's plates and getting recommendations from them about what of the picture perfect Pinterest world is worth my grocery dollars. And I take my grocery budget very seriously.

One million ingredients- meh, I don't like cutting things that much. 
A lot of spices- if I don't use it often, I probably just will not buy it.
Expensive ingredients- laughable.
Something probably delicious, but deep fried to high heavens- I have to be able to button my pants to go to work, so no.

High standards in this house. The five recipes below, however, are major winners. Good enough to be put on a regular rotation and all of them are a little fun; not just your average everyday frozen pizza perfectly balanced meal. So without further ado, here are some of my most recent Pinterest wins.

Great! Learn how to make this super Easy Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma, plus an out of this world garlic sauce and prepare your own chicken shawarma wraps. Beats takeout or fast food!:

Easy Oven Roasted Chicken Schwarma


Oh so good. I kinda picked this recipe out of the blue, but man was it delicious. I didn't use as much olive oil as the recipe called for, but it was finger licking good. The lemon really made the chicken pop and I cannot wait to make this again.

Delish! Tabbouleh Salad - a traditional refreshing tabbouleh salad featuring bulgur wheat, tomatoes, cucumber and loads of parsley and mint dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.:

Tabbouleh Salad


This one was a tag-along to the recipe above, but man it was delicious. I used the leftovers for lunch later in the week and it was filling as well as tasty. I added onions because... I love them and it was a great easy dinner dish.

Thanksgiving Side Dish: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries (and maple syrup). YUM!:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries

This I actually made last night for dinner and for selfish reasons. I wanted to test run a new recipe for Thanksgiving... Before the actual holiday! To me this one is a winner. Sweet and savory and I  love me some Brussel Sprouts. Try it!


20-Minute Spicy Sriracha Shrimp and Zucchini Lo Mein - everyone loves this quick and easy meal!:

20 Minute Spicy Sriracha Shrimp w/ Lo Mein


Someone recommended this to me and it was great! 20 minutes- perfect. Spicy (I also added a lot of heat)- perfect. And awesome leftovers- even more perfect. I added a ton of veggies to really fill out the meal and it was a great, easy weeknight meal.
Good! Try again- houston humidity made a little thick. Learn how to make homemade naan (Indian flatbread) with this simple and delicious recipe! | gimmesomeoven.com:

Homemade Naan


So I made this to go with a homemade Chicken Tikka Masala (not that noteworthy) and it was so nice and comforting. I will say the texture is different than what I think of as naan, but the flavor is great! I want to keep working on it to make more fluffy for now, but it was still pretty tasty.

Do you have any favorite Pinterest recipes? Send them my way!
-S

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My 'How To Not Burn Dinner' Drink Recipe


 
 
I have a confession to make. I love to host people. I love having a reason (urgent... usually) to clean our home. I love trying my hand to make delicious things. I love bringing people together where we can all laugh and eat too much. So naturally one of my favorite ways to play adult is hosting friends for dinner.

However, that is not my confession.

My confession is that is that hosting people makes me a spaz. I normally leave all the hard things to the last minute. Hard things being anything I don't want to do. I have completely nonsensical ideas on the cleanliness I will actually achieve compared to the state of our house on a daily basis. And it is pretty much a miracle if something isn't burnt. I stress sweat. I snap at people. I am generally un-delightful. Talk about being the hostess with the mostess.

Well this past weekend we hosted a couple of friends for a carbo load dinner (for our non-race race)  and I didn't burn anything! Not only did I not burn anything, but we were ready with time to spare for their arrival. AND I was dressed with eyeliner on before they showed up at the door. That trifecta is basically mind numbingly shocking for what normally happens. Part of me thinks that we are finally getting the hang of adult things and part of me says 'nah, you just made yourself a pretty delicious pre-company drink to get yourself together.' Either one I will take.

 
And if it is in fact the 'pre-company drink thing' that made me a better than (my) normal host, then I will go ahead and take 2 of 'em. You see, I often like to fancy up a drink for the two of us before that doorbell rings things get too hectic. And this, with the random ingredients of our fridge was a winner.
 
I will call it:

 

How To Not Burn Dinner Drink


2 oz. Cointreau (or Triple Sec)

Limeade to Taste

Freshly Squeezed Grape Fruit Juice 

Ice

Mint to Finish

 

Start with the Cointreau and add as much limeade as you wish. Add ice then the grapefruit juice (creates a pretty layer of pink on top). Throw some mint leaves in and then go have yourself a party!

 
This was delicious and refreshing during what normally is the crazy countdown to arrival. Only bad spot? I had to finish it before our guests arrived!
 
Any favorite and easy drink recipes you like?
-S

Monday, October 26, 2015

Rainy Racing Recap


Well folks, I had my rain clothes lined up, carbo loaded like it was my job, and stayed off my feet as much as possible on Saturday for our big race on Sunday. You may remember that since moving back to Texas 6 months ago running has been hard. The humidity, the life changes, the actual training itself has been frustrating. Then I had a great run a couple weeks back that brought things into perspective. This race would not be a new PR, but all I wanted was to make it fun!. Training clarifies things in all sorts of arenas of my life and I was excited to be running with Andrew and some friends. I was getting the race day butterflies, I was planning out some pretty sweet jams, and had committed to relishing the rain instead of dreading it.

But the race and weather had different plans.



Yep. Cancelled. And it was a great decision. It rained and rained and rained. Streets flooded, the bayou (which was our race route) was way over safe levels, and parts of downtown (also on the route) had raw sewage leak into the streets. I'm a runner, but oh heck no I don't want to be a part of that. So instead of waking up early to run in the trails of Hurricane Patricia, we spent the day doing house projects and binge watching a West Wing marathon (TV marathons are close to the real thing...). 

The thing is I just don't really know what to do. After 6 years of consistent racing, this is a new first for me! Never have I had a race cancelled. So I honestly don't even know what happens now. Maybe I will run it on my own. Maybe I won't. Do we get our medals? Do I want the medal? Should I buy myself those new pair of running shoes that I have been promising myself? I don't know, but I made sure to celebrate though.


For me racing isn't about crossing the finish line (which is great), but it is about the time, intensity, and miles that you put in to get there. Having the race cancelled is a tad sad, but more so for the friends that we convinced to run their first half with us. They won't get that moment of accomplishment that comes with the first time one finishes. All I can hope is that they are down for the next one- whenever that may be!

So any runners out there have experience with a cancelled race?
-S


Friday, October 23, 2015

Picturing the Weekend


The past week has been pretty jam packed, so I didn't get to share some of our photos from last weekend. I've stopped doing most of the weekend recaps because generally there are only so many pictures of me in running clothes and jonesing for white wine that one can look at.I get that, people! I understand my own reality. Last weekend, however, was quite the change. I wore no pants with elastic AND there was a pretty exciting weekend to boot. Here are a couple of snaps.

Friday night's Mehndi

Saturday was a whole day of festivities... so I needed to start the morning with lots of coffee in a weiner dog mug.



Saturday morning's ceremony.


After the ceremony, lunch was served on this banana leaf!


Then one more last wardrobe change for the reception on Saturday night.

And then we spent the next day in dear need of recovery... like this guy.

Have a great weekend!
-S






Thursday, October 22, 2015

Saving and Spending


I won't lie, budgets are my jam. I like the spreadsheets, I like the color coding, I like feeling like I won't be destitute and living on the street tomorrow by nightfall. I like budgets. They are the one organized spot in my chaotic brain.Saving has always been high on my priorities...

but one can't be good all the time.

no animated GIF

Thank you, Sonja Morgan. 

In some areas, we are budget rockstars, but in others... well, no one is perfect. For where we are right now, saving is a huge priority and one day I'd love to find the line of sharing how we diversify our savings and plan for big things, while still managing to keep the cable on (in this case, I mean cable on constantly).  If you're a human with access to something called the world wide web, you are aware of the insane ways that people recommend saving money (the internet is a terrible place). I find a lot of these unrealistic. So here are a few ways that we save some pennies and a few ways that we don't 

How we Save:

Food- 

I've said it before and I will say it again, meal planning is the way to go. We spend very little on groceries every week because we know what we will eat for each meal... and we plan that around what is on sale and in season. Exciting aren't we? Today we ate chicken drumsticks. Do I love chicken drumsticks? Meh, no. But they were on super sale and I knew that hosting some friends this weekend would be pricer than normal. Eating in season and as local as possible also helps drive our costs down. Most of our grocery cart is filled with produce, so as much as I love pomegranates, I know when they are on sale (and in turn in season). Also, we 90% of the time bring lunch. Our lunches are thrilling... they are mostly leftovers, but they get the job done. I love to cook new (in my opinion) exciting things, so it all evens out in the end.

Transportation-

October 21st was the first time I have filled up my gas tank since July. I'm not lying, but I am very proud of this. I walk 15 minutes every morning to the metro and spend way less (time and money) than I would if I drove to work everyday. Also, hilarious things happen on the metro. Like laugh out loud, but don't make eye contact things. Andrew drives decently far to work, but for his sanity (and gas money)'s sake, he usually commutes before traffic really picks up. From what we spent on travel in CA, we spend a fraction of the amount on transportation costs now.

Entertainment-

We are lucky in that a lot of the things that we like to do often are low cost or free. We love to go running (free), play board games (one time cost), check out local festivals and arts events (cheap), taste test all the taco trucks in Greater Houston (cost of Tums),and chill with our pup (cost of dog food is rising...). These are all pretty budget friendly items. When we do go out to a movie or something like that, it seems even more special to be doing something new.

Where we Spend:

House- 

Having a house is expensive-and not just the mortgage part. As much as everyone told us to expect this, all the home improvement projects really add up. We have a monthly line item for this in our budget that helps us prioritize projects or otherwise it would be ramen every night. I hope that at least some of the work we are doing on our place will work in our favor later down the road, but for now it would be okay if the Home Depot employees weren't our normal Saturday AM wake up calls. As time wears on (almost 5 months in our new home), we are checking more and more projects off our list- not that I am convinced the projects will ever end.

Travel- 

Travel is so important to the two of us. Trying new places, meeting new people, and collecting new experiences is the only cure for wanderlust. To make this happen one of our automatic savings transfers is specifically for travel, but I won't lie when planning our upcoming trips I get a little gun shy at pulling the trigger. We have an international trip in a few months and 3 domestic ones before that. The good news is that we LOVE to travel, so spending in this category is fun. The bad news is that even traveling affordably, isn't cheap. 

Celebrating- 

On a weekly basis this would be our normal slip up. There is a lot to celebrate in life, y'all! People are getting married, new jobs are being had, and sometimes living through a Thursday deserves its own mini-party. We rein it in as much as possible, but I won't say no to cheers-ing a friend's life event, even if that mean more chicken drumsticks for everyone.

What about you? Where do you save some pennies or save some moolah? Any tips?
-S

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Running in the Rain

Oh race week. You are upon us. Time is going by ever so slowly as the taper crazies make me want to pull my hair out, watch tv endlessly, and eat all the baked potatoes. Oh and check the weather incessantly.


Houston, TX
Sunday
Scattered Thunderstorms
Scattered Thunderstorms
76
°F | °C
Precipitation: 50%
Humidity: 80%
Wind: 13 mph
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10 mph
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7 mph
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4 mph
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4 PM
7 PM
10 PM
1 AM
4 AM
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1 PM
4 PM
7 PM
10 PM
1 AM
4 AM
7 AM
10 AM
1 PM
4 PM
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1 AM
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1 PM
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1 AM
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3 AM
6 AM
9 AM
12 PM
3 PM
6 PM
9 PM
12 AM
3 AM
6 AM
9 AM
12 PM
3 PM
6 PM
9 PM
Tue
Showers
78°
71°
Wed
Cloudy
84°
72°
Thu
Scattered Thunderstorms
80°
74°
Fri
Mostly Cloudy
83°
73°
Sat
Thunderstorm
78°
70°
Sun
Scattered Thunderstorms
76°
66°
Mon
Mostly Cloudy
76°
63°
Tue
Partly Cloudy
76°
59°


Which looks like this by the way... rainy. Honestly, this 50% chance forecast is the best that I have seen so far. I've never ran a race in the rain and I'm both terrified and really excited for it. The good parts of it will be that running in the rain is something different. I rarely ever do it and I don't have preconceived notions about what it will be like to trudge along for 13 miles in the rain. The bad news is... I rarely ever do it, soooooooo I have no idea what to expect.

lonely animated GIF

You know what is great though? Taper week. I have lotsa free time to google all the tricks, tips, and horror stories of what it is like. 


Here is my plan for how to survive...


1) Dress Appropriately- I normally like to run in shorts and a tank, but tighter, longer clothes are what I need to be wearing. Also a hat. Also good socks. Not thick socks, but supportive. And everything needs to be wicking. Oh and to make a really cute fashion statement, I will rock a trash bag before the race if that means staying dry.  

2)Seal my Electronics- I think "I will survive" may make an appearance a time or twenty on this rainy jaunt, so I'll need to seal up my phone in a plastic baggy. Also my snacks. Chock Blocks are great, but I'm not sure I want them slipping, sliding, and staining everything they touch.

3) Stay Hydrated- More races than not, I don't take enough of the advantage of water and fuel stations. Focus on staying hydrated to not make things any harder than necessary.

4) Don't Rush- I'm on the final miles of my racing shoes anyways, but the slick roads will not help the hundreds of miles of removed traction. Even a better reason to not focus on my time, but enjoy the process. A teensy, tiny part of me feels like maybe it all worked out that this training cycle didn't prove to be PR breaking. Putting the extra pressure of breaking my PR on top of staying on my feet (and off my rear end) would have been a lot to handle. 

5) Enjoy the Craziness What if I do fall on my face the first sharp turn? Well, that sounds kinda funny. What if the extra weight I'm carrying is located in my waterlogged shoes not just the remains of the wheel barrel of chips and salsa I housed the other day? Well, I will just have to deal. It sounds like a rainy day blast and a good reason to spike a cup of cocoa at the end of it all!

Have you ever run in the rain? Tips???
-S