Monday, April 27, 2015

Sewing Swap Received

Today I received the package from the Sewing Swap. I'm glad to see that the items I sent out were of a comparable quality to those I received - I haven't swapped in so long, so I was concerned.

Monday, April 20, 2015



Outback o Ritas

My second Geocache find!

I walked over to the nearby location at lunchtime, did a little scouting and found what I was looking for. This one was listed as a micro sized cache, but it was not nearly as micro as yesterday's find. I think I need to revisit the size information.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My First Geocache

I found my first geocache today! Yesterday, Tom was talking about a compass, and I threw out the idea that we could go geocaching some time. He was all for it. So, while I was at work last night and today, I looked up some nearby geocaches. There was supposed to be one right outside the restaurant. Well, I couldn't find it, so I tried for the one at the end of the parking lot. I found it!

I stopped by a third location, the Park and Ride at Juanita and Otsego, but couldn't find that one either. I think the problem was that I was using the geocache app, and there were no descriptions or geocache sizes available on it. I'm super excited to look for more.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes

Looking at Pinterest, I found a recipe that sounded good for dinner tonight - Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes.

Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes

  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbes de provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 large Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick or less)
  • 1 cup sliced, peeled shallots
  • 3 to 4 whole garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • Several whole sprigs of fresh tarragon or thyme (optional)
  • More salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Sprinkle all sides of chicken thighs with kosher salt and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, herbs de provence, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
  3. Spread a teaspoon of olive oil over the bottom of a large (9x13-inch) casserole dish. Cover the bottom of the dish with the thinly sliced potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Distribute the sliced shallots over the potatoes, and sprinkle again with a little salt and pepper.
  4. Place the chicken thighs, skin-side up, on top of the shallots. Wedge the garlic cloves between pieces of chicken. If you have fresh herbs such as tarragon or thyme, you can wedge them in along the border, between the chicken pieces and the dish. Whisk the vinaigrette again and pour it over the chicken, spreading it with your fingers to make sure the chicken is well coated.
  5. Bake uncovered in a 375°F oven for 50 minutes, or until the thighs are well browned and cooked through. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Of course, due to Tom's aversion to onions and/or garlic, I omitted the shallots and garlic. But don't let Tom know, I sprinkled a little garlic powder on the chicken prior to cooking. I also made my own Dijon mustard and herbs de provence, and sprinkled dried tarragon and thyme on the chicken prior to cooking.
The dish was delicious. It was herby and slightly tart, and what-do-you-know, Tom liked it, too!

Herbes de Provence

I needed some Herbes de Provence for a recipe I'm trying tonight, so I used a recipe from Emeril Lagasse.

Herbes de Provence

  • 2 Tablespoons dried savory
  • 2 Tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 Tablespoons dried marjoram
  • 2 Tablespoons dried fennel seed
  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients together. Store in an air-tight container.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Cherry Blossom Festival 2015

Well, I had a pretty fun day in Washington, D.C. with some girlfriends today. A month or so ago, Mel talked up the idea of going to see the cherry blossoms with a group of co-workers. She asked me to get some info, and from there, I earned the title "Cherry Blossom Watcher." I looked up transportation options, info on the Holocaust Museum, as well as trying to find the optimal time for us to go. Because of the more severe winter we had, it was hard to arrange, but eventually, we did it!

We took the MARC's Penn Line from Aberdeen to Washington D.C.'s Union Station, and then traveled by MetroRail to the Smithsonian Station, which exited at the National Mall. It was my first time travelling by train, and it was surprisingly easy. I was scared at first, but luckily, all of my preparation paid off.
We walked around the National Mall, then the Tidal Basin for cherry blossom pictures. Finally, we visited the Holocaust Museum. That was especially cool, because before you enter the exhibit, you get an identification card for a real person from the Holocaust. Each page corresponds to a different time frame/floor of the Holocaust/museum, and in the end you learn if they lived or died. It really personalizes the experience.
Here are some attempts at selfies from the trip:

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

All of us in the Lincoln Memorial

Cherry Blossoms at Tidal Basin

Jefferson Memorial

I tried to get more of the building in with the Jefferson Memorial, but Chy jumped in, so...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

Over the past week, I've had a good time preparing for this holiday. Tom had mentioned his desire for black jelly beans about a week ago, and I had talked about filling plastic eggs and hiding them for him. Well, I put an Easter egg hunt into play last night. I hid plastic eggs which I had filled with black jelly beans, dark chocolate eggs, and miniature chocolate bars, last night before going to bed, and this morning, before heading out to work, I left an Easter basket with a poem about Tom's hunt:

There are twenty five eggs hidden on this floor,
Not one egg less, not one egg more.
In your search, you might find a grand prize,
I hope you enjoy your Easter surprise!
By the time I got home, Tom was still searching for three eggs.

We both enjoyed the hunt, and although I'm not sure if it will be an annual event, it generated many laughs and smiles between the two of us.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta

I've had some ingredients left over from when I made raviolli, so, for dinner tonight, I found something that I could use them in - Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta.

Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta

  • 12 ounces pasta (we used mini shells)
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. Cook the pasta according to instructions for al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, and egg. Stir until smooth. Add the garlic, spinach, nutmeg, dried basil, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper.
  3. Put half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with half of the marinara sauce. Spoon the spinach ricotta mixture on top of the sauce in an even layer. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese over the mixture. Cover with the remaining pasta and the remaining sauce. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and the edges are lightly browned. Serve warm.
Note-you can prepare this dish one day ahead of time. Cover the pan with foil and place in the fridge until you are ready to cook. You can also freeze the leftovers. Place cooked pasta in freezer containers and freeze!
I used my entire leftover container of ricotta cheese, and I think that was too much. Otherwise, I thought this was a decent dish.

2015 1st Quarter Update

Have you been wondering how my New Year's resolutions have been going? Well, wonder no longer:
  1. Lose Weight/Eat Healthier - This quarter, I stayed even with my weight and haven't gained or lost anything. I forgot to set a hard and fast goal, so I think it will be 40 pounds for the year - approximately 10 pounds per quarter. That seems reasonable, don't you think? I'll have to play catch up for this past quarter, but with it getting busier at the restaurant and band starting back up later this month, I'll be burning more calories.
  2. Try 52 New Recipes - Since it's winter and the restaurant is slow this time of year, I have more free time, so I've been able to try 28 new recipes. With the rate I had initially proposed (one a week), I don't have to cook anything new for the rest of the next quarter, and I'll still be on track.
  3. "Read" 42 Books - After participating in the Winter Reading Program at the library, I've only ended up "reading" 5 books so far. I've got a book on my bedside table that I'm working on, but I'm way behind. To stay on target, I need to read around 10 books a quarter, so I need to ramp it up!
  4. Learn How to Knit - This is going much better than I had ever hoped! My initial goal was to learn how to knit in the first quarter, then finish one-third of the scarf in each subsequent quarter. Can you believe that I am only 17 rows away from finishing the second third of the scarf? I don't even have to look at the scarf for the next six months to stay on track! I did slow down considerably in March, but I've completed 331 rows so far, and the scarf looks great! I've only left one mistake in, and I'm sure I'll be able to finish it by Christmas.
Overall, I think I've been fairly successful at keeping up with some of my resolutions. Since I'm so far ahead on some of them, I can focus on the others this next quarter, but unfortunately, with my short attention span, three months is usually where I fizzle out completely. I will definitely be needing another kick in the pants, I can't wait to see what my next quarterly update has to tell you!

April Photo-a-Day

I've just finished sending out my items for the Sewing Swap, and I had the urge to check out Swap-Bot, and see what kind of ATC swaps they have available right now. Nohing jumped out at me, but after perusing the other categories of swaps that I might be interested in, I found this one:

Swap-bot swap: April Photo-A-Day
I swap with Swap-bot!

One photo a day for thirty days, choose a different prompt for each photo. I think I'll be okay with this. Check out how this all turned out on my Photo Journal blog!