Monday, August 1, 2016

Kitchen Creations

It is no surprise to anyone that is friends with me on Social Media...I have been busy in the kitchen this month!! It has been so nice to have a spacious kitchen again. We also made a pledge to do no restaurants all month of July to help save money for house furnishings, etc. (Restaurants are SUCH budget-suckers!!! Good Lord!)

Ryan has been working a ton lately - and weird hours it's his "finals week" w/ grad school. - so had lots of "me time" to spend in the kitchen and wanted to spoil him with good food.

I like to send him with baked goods to bring to his squadron on the weekend's he works. And his request was White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies. I went to make them Friday night, and realized I didn't have any Macadamia nuts. So I improvised: and crushed up almonds, and used a little pure almond extract.

They turned out SO GOOD!!! I got the recipe from The Pioneer Woman. Definitely a keeper of a recipe!!

Saturday I wanted to send him with a good "comfort food" meal for dinner. And our favorite comfort food is ordering Indian food. But since we aren't doing restaurants....I had to create it ;). I made Chicken Vindaloo. The only thing missing was some Naan. Next time!! 

My chicken vindaloo recipe is listed below. I look at to get the idea on how to make chicken vindaloo...and then improvised.Next time I will slow cook the chicken in a crockpot, so it is more shredded.
  1. Take 4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks, and season with curry, crushed cardamom, pepper, himalayan salt, tumeric powder, ground mustard, ginger. Allow to marinade for about 1 hour.
  2. In a pan, heat to medium heat. Sprinkle those same spices into the bottom for about 1-2 minutes, and allow the heat to bring out the seasoning's flavor. 
  3. Add 1 Tbsp coconut oil. Add 4 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup tomato paste, more salt, 1 can crushed tomatoes, 4 sliced potatoes, 1/2 red onion sliced, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth. Allow to simmer. 
  4. Add in the chicken. Cover, bring to a heavy simmer. Once potatoes are tender, remove from stove.
When I do this again, I will add a little cornstarch at the end to thicken up the broth. 

I also added in some jalepeno powder and sriracha to give it a little kick It was deliicious!!! Best served with jasmine rice.

And finally, Sunday morning, I made quite the decadent breakfast. I did a 6.5 mile hill repeat workout. It was 83 degress and 60% humidity (at 5:30 am). I seriously wanted to cry - I was so hot. I ran 3 miles uphill, 2 miles downhill, and then did 1 mile of a .15 mile hill repeat. 

Let's just say by the time I was done, I was SO hungry!!! And sweaty. I had to lay in our pool for a good 10 minutes to get my body temp down!! Oh darn ;)

Breakfast was Fresh Blueberry Waffles with a Blueberry Compote. I totally made up the compote recipe, and I was quite pleased. It had blueberries, fresh squeezed lemon, stevia, a splash of orange juice, vanilla, and a little corn starch! Next time I make this, I think a little ricotta cheese needs to go on top, too!

What have you been creating in your kitchen?

What is your favorite breakfast cheat item??

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The 7-Year Itch

I'm sure the title of the blog post could raise a few eyebrows to those who know me well. Ryan and I will be celebrating our 7th (!!!) Anniversary in about 2 weeks. Which is really hard to believe.

Over the past few months, I have been asked about "The 7 year itch". To be honest, I wasn't really familiar with that. So I did a little googling.

What is the 7 year itch? Well, besides a movie from 1955. It is a phenomenon that occurs in many marriages.

Scenario #1: The couple has raised 1-2 children through the sleepless and stressful infancy years. They reach 7 years of marriage, and they have lost touch with their bond. And they get the itch to seek other things, lifestyles, or in some cases, relationships.

Scenario #2: The couple have spent enough time together that they realize they are not excited about their partner anymore. A philosopher once said that the human develops in "7 year cycles". These changes/cycles can be mental, emotion, and physical. And that evolvement can turn into changing into a person who doesn't want to be married to the person they fell in love with 7 years ago.

Obviously Scenario #1 does not apply to us. We don't have children yet.

Scenario #2 could apply to us. We have both changed dramatically over 7 years. Sometimes when I look back who what I was doing and how I looked at life 7 years ago, I scratch my head.

But I can assure you all that we are NOT experiencing the "7 year itch" some speak of or ask about.

In fact, I am confidently say that I am at least 10 TIMES more in love with and crazy about Ryan that I was 7 years ago. And here are a few things I've reflected upon over the past few weeks, that I think contribute to that. So here are my thoughts and these are a few pieces of advise I would give to any newlyweds preparing to get married:

-Nothing has been constant the past 7 years, except for our commitment to each other. -
  • We have both changed careers multiple times. 
  • Ryan has made 4 temporary out-of-state moves during our marriage. 
  • We have had some major life changes occur (especially over the past year).
  • There is no desire to go seek something new. Sometimes I dream about a life where we get to eat dinner together every night of the week. 
  • But that's not our life. And I'm okay with it.
  • No 2 weeks in our life look the same. 
  • The erratic lifestyle has taught me to really cherish the evenings/weekends/days we get together. 2. We are the only family each other has in Tucson. This is a tough reality to face - but it is the truth. We lean on each other when times are tough, we need advice about what to do/say next, and when we need to celebrate happiness and now holidays.
-In our early years of marriage -- I was so new to AZ that I didn't have many close girlfriends here.
  •  So when we got into a fight, I didn't have anyone to go to and vent to. 
  • That situation taught me to respect our marriage - and fix things immediately and move on. Not gossip about it
  • We girls love our gossip
-I have my hobbies: running and cooking. Ryan has his hobbies: woodworking and hunting. And we have OUR hobbies: hiking, traveling, and cooking together. I think it is so important to have those 3 different entities. 

-We are up front about our finances. 
  • Fact: finances can cause a lot of tension in relationships. 
  • From day 1, Ryan and I have worked out a budget that makes both of us happy. 
  • We both have had to make mini compromises.
  • We keep each other in "check". (ie: "You're buying another woodsaw?" or "How many sundresses do have you bought this summer?")
-We have kept God in our marriage. We pray for each other. We pray together. We talk about our spirituality - and it something we enjoy discussing and sometimes even bantering about. Ryan is very scientific, and it takes him a lot to really believe something. You could tell me that it's raining lemon drops, and I'd probably believe you. So those different beliefs have kept us on our toes over the years

-And finally - we are brutally incredibly honest with each other. Someone has to keep you in check of your behavior, your goals, and your lifestyle. We point out to each other if we are slacking at something in life or having a bad attitude towards something. And we genuinely compliment each other every single day. 

This is not a post saying these 7 items are what every relationship should incorporate to equal happiness. But it is what worked for us!! I cannot wait to see what the next 7 years brings. I hope it doesn't go quite as fast. But I assume it will - since every year seems to go faster! 

What advice would you give newlyweds preparing to get married? 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Getting To Know Me Through 17 Questions

Happy Monday! And Happy last week of July. Normal parts of the country are morning this. I am celebrating. It is so. Freaking. Hot. Especially since the jist of our weekend was spent outdoor cutting down cacti/brush and painting/building furniture!

Since I've last been on here - we have moved. And have we ever been busy!! But we are absolutely loving the new nest!! More to come on that. In the meantime, to "warm" myself back up to blogging - I'm joining in on this fun little post.

Getting To Know Me Through 17 Questions, which I borrowed from my sister Lisa.

1. What brings your the greatest joy?
I'd have to say being outdoors in nature. Especially with Ryan. And spending time with my family.

2. What are your vices?
Cheese and crackers - especially sharp cheddar. That is my go-to snack. And now that I work at home, I'm guilty of just having that for lunch sometimes. Which is terrible! I used to pack healthy salads - but now it's so easy to just slice a few pieces of cheese, have an apple, and pick away while I work.

There could be worse vices, however.

3. What is on your nightstand.
Just my glasses. Ever since we had our house on the market - and our rule was to have no thing on the counters....I am a little anal about having NOTHING on the counters/nightstand if possible!

4. What is your secret talent? 
Playing the xylophone? That is the only one I can think of. I did a solo my senior year on it - and felt pretty awesome.

5. What is your greatest indulgence? 
Starbucks. I get it about 1-2 times/week. But I only do it if I'm reached a certain benchmark the day before at work and on the way home from my run.

6. What should everyone try at least once in their life?
I know I couldn't get many to do this. But I say a backpacking trip. It's very humbling to realize you are responsible for all the work behind all your resources - and your whole life is carried on your back. You also feel so immersed in nature. I always return from a backpacking trip feeling incredibly refreshed and grateful.

7. What makes you laugh?
A lot of things. I would say I probably laugh about something every hour of the day! If you can't laugh at yourself and the things around you, life would get pretty heavy sometimes.

8. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I worked as a hotel maid for 2 weeks. It was the worst job of my life. Worst 2 weeks of my life. And I like cleaning!

9. What is on your bucket list?
Doing a mission trip in India. Why India? It's a long story - but I learned about a village that really touched my heart when I was at church a few years ago. If I can't make India work - then I will go anywhere.

10. What is on your feet right now? 
My old pair of Mizunos, as I'm getting ready to head to the gym for spin class soon!

11. How did you make your 1st dollar?
Babysitting. At age 10. That is insane when I think about it!

12. What superstition do you believe in?
I don't believe in any superstitions.

13. What items in your closet do you wear the most?
This time of year - shorts from Old Navy and a matching tank top from Target (I have quite the collection). We are on like a 40-day streak of +100 degrees, and I don't have to wear real clothes to work anymore! :)

But I refuse to wear PJ's or workout clothes while I'm working. Because I don't want to become a slob.

14. What is the best gift you've ever received?
That is tough! I am surrounded by so many loving and gracious people in my life - I've received a lot of great gifts. I'd have to say the one that takes the cake is Last year Ryan's Anniversary gift to me was a 1 hour facial, 1 hour massage, and a scuba excusion. One of my favorite days ever!!!! And it was all a surprise :)

15. What is on your liquor shelf?
I'd say we have a pretty much full-stocked bar since we like to entertain. But what we have accessible is vodka for me and Jack Daniels for Ryan - as those are our drinks of choice ;). I'm not a big hard-liquor drinker, however.

16. What is on your kitchen counter?
Coffee pot, banana "rack", coffee cannister, knife block, and a bowl of apples/lemons/limes. I try to keep as little as possible on the counters so it's easier to clean.

17. What would you never leave home without? 
Phone and a big bottle of water.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Weekend Recap

I live for the weekends that Ryan is not working! His current schedule has him working 2 weeks on, and 2 weekends off. So we really try to pack in a lot!

This weekend we decided to really try to get a mix of fun and rest -- as we know the next couple of weeks are going to be insane!

Friday night he surprised me, and got tickets to see Gabriel Iglesia - aka "Fluffy". Such a good show! There is nothing more healthy for the soul than a comedy show, I always say! The concert was held at the "Ava Amphitheater" - which is at a casino west of town. It is actually a really cool venue - as the seating is out in the lawn and you are surrounded by mountains.

We went to our favorite Mexican food truck for some late night eats after the show: Karmelo King. I swear this is the best Mexican food I've ever eaten. 

Karamelo King: A food truck in a random parking lot in a shady part of town. They only come out at night. And you have to order in Spanish - or point to what you want.The sodas they serve are from Mexico. The women run the truck, the men run the grill - and they play mariachi music and yell at each other in Spanish.

It. Is. Awesome. And delicious ;)

Saturday morning I cooked and packed, while Ryan did homework. Then we headed to a friend's house for a pool day/BBQ. We came home and did some more packing, and watched Marley and Me - and I sobbed like a little girl.

Sunday morning: Ryan and I went to Reid Park -- which is a golf course in the middle of the city with a 3 mile running path around it. We did a 6 mile run together, and then walked over to Starbucks for some Americanos and shared a chocolate croissant.

Did you know that I have gawked at this croissant in the window for YEARS. (about 8 years to be correct, because that's how I've been drinking Starbucks). But never would order one - because I was being calorie conscious. Boy was I missing out all these years....

Life is too short to gaze at the croissant in the window.;)

Then we went to mass. Did some fun "Home Depot" shopping". The rest of the day was very "adulty" and quite lazy. We packed up about 5 boxes of kitchen items. Caught up on Orange Is The New Black (which we are getting semi-obsessed with), ordered pizza, and watched the 1st real monsoon swoop through Tucson!

Now the crazy begins - as we head into closing week! We signed our life away tonight. Tomorrow we do the final walk through. And while all this is going on - it's also the most stressful week of the year at my job because Medicare started their audit yesterday! I'm going to be so happy to kick my feet up Sunday night, when we are all moved into the new home! ;)

How was your weekend? What is your go-to indulgent treat? 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Packing Up: A follow up to the previous post

Tonight has felt a bit surreal, so I figured a good ole' blog post was due.

A little over 5 months ago....we were packing up our house. And during that time, I thought the next time we "pack up", we would be heading to Texas and then on to South Dakota. I had a completely different job. And almost a different life (!?)

5 months ago, I never would have imagined that the next time we would be into a home in Tucson!

It is insane how much life can change in such a short amount of time. I'm kind of pinching myself.

Any who asked me over the past month "How is the apartment?" .... they most likely received sort of a negative response. In my defense...I work in this apartment for 40+ hours per week, and Ryan is working night shift. So it's just been a little "too close for comfort"

But in reality, this apartment has been great for us. Really made us appreciate our space, our city, and the luxury of a back yard!

The countdown is on (1 week until closing day) - and we are so thrilled!

Are you a person that needs their space at home? Or are you okay with a small living space, with lots to do in the surrounding areas? 

Friday, June 10, 2016

The "Scoop": We aren't moving back to the Midwest

I think most anyone that reads my blog is well aware of this information, but I feel it's time to put it all into writing.

In fact, when I am get to play "99 questions" about this and all the details from acquaintances ...maybe I should just give them the url to this post.

Back in August of 2015, Ryan decided to pursue his childhood dream to become an F16 pilot. He made many decisions in his life to pursue this: worked as an Avionics technician, got his Electrical Engineering Degree, got his private pilot licence, followed the F-16 jets from Fargo to Tucson that he was maintaining.

Then we sat down, and picked out the locations we could move to. And he interviewed all over last fall. And guess what? He got the job!! And it wasn't any job. It was an F16 slot in Sioux Falls, South Dakota!!! 3-4 hours from my family and 3-4 hours from his Nebraska family.

Do you ever make the "best decision of your life", and then get underwhelmed by it? Maybe feel like something just isn't right? So you glaze over your worries/concerns, and just focus on the positives?

I'm not going to elaborate on all the details, but I'm just going to say that we had all these little "road blocks" popping up in getting to South Dakota.

But we pressed on, because this was our plan. We sold our house. Relocated our dog (since we would be moving every few months for a few years). I changed jobs. We moved into a temporary apartment.

The road blocks persisted. And one Tuesday morning in March, I was working and Ryan was getting ready for work and he called from the other room, "Do you like Tucson? Are you at all unhappy about leaving?"

And I just about started crying. And I'm not a crier.

They were tears of sadness. They were tears of relief. Suddenly this place that I was willing to do anything to get away from was the place I wanted to be.

Do I miss my family? Terribly. Do I wish a flight to MSP was cheaper and shorter? Of course.

But I really feel like I've found who I am in the Southwest. I love being surrounded by mountains. I love the 360 days/year of sunshine. I love that I can exercise and be outdoors year round (despite the hot summer...but it's do-able at 5 am). I've met some of the best friends I've ever had here - with our similar interests and passions. And Tucson has the perfect vibe - it feels small, it's kind of quirky, and it's absolutely stunningly beautiful.

Ryan had some new opportunities present themselves with his career. And together we made the decision to stay Arizonans. We feel at peace with our decision.

This was not an easy decision to make for both Ryan and I. My heart broke telling my family we aren't moving. But sometimes: your dreams change. And there will always be a plane trip home.

We were supposed to be moving to Del Rio, TX this week. Instead we are buying furniture and preparing to move into our new home. But guess what? We also have a trip back to MN planned in less than a month! Always a silver lining.....

Friday, June 3, 2016

June "Currently"

Wow, I am not very consistent about blogging these days! I've been all over the place lately.

Work has been insane, because we are preparing for a BIG audit. Medicare audits are stressful. All audits are stressful. And I'm learning how especially stressful they are when you are working for an insurance company that serves the Medicare/Medicaid population.  ;)

But I'm a learning a lot! And it's teaching me lot about accepting "constructive criticism". Ha!

What else is new? Well, we have been busy house hunting!

But more on that to come soon. For now...a "currently" post. Since I haven't been around here much lately.

Reading: "The Nightengale" - which was recommended to me by my personal librarian sister. It is such a good book! Highly recommend it!!

Thinking: About what I'm going to bake this Sunday in the quarterly "baking challenge" I do with my friend's 2 daughters. We do a baking challenge, where my friend picks out the "theme" and provides the ingredients - and we have 1 hour to come up with 2 different recipes.

Last time it was cupcakes. This time - who knows? It is such a fun tradition we have started - and so fun to see young girls so excited and passionate about cooking/baking (they are only 7 and 10)!

Frustrated: That the air conditioner in our apartment does not allow us to turn it below 80 degrees. It is supposed to be 112 F this weekend. The coolest it gets at night is 80. It's H-O-T.

Feeling: Relieved and excited! Any home buying experience can be stressful/nerve-wracking. Ours had a lot of back-and-forth negotiations, and the inspection was a little interested since the home was built in 1950. But all is well, and we are going to close!

Anticipating: Lots of fun this summer. One of my best friends is getting married in 2 weeks - we are moving at the end of the month - we go home to MN the week after we move - we go to Barbado's in August! Lot of fun things to look forward to!

Sad: That we can bring our dog back to AZ with us on the plane, and won't have enough PTO to take the 27 hour drive. Looking frantically on my calendar for a weekend to make it up!

Working: Happily. This is the 1st time in my nursing career I've really been happy and excited with my work. I love working at home. I will say this is one of the more stressful jobs I've held - but it's so worth it.

Grateful: That I do have shelter. I went for a walk after dinner tonight, and it was still 102 degrees @ 8:00 pm. And all I could think about were the poor people who live on the streets in this horrible heat. They don't get to go home to a tall glass of ice water and a shower.

Listening: To lots of Pandora radio -- specifically "Indie Pop Radio". It's perfect "work music" - it's the perfect balance of upbeat and mellow.

Wishing: That I can keep up my momentum (and smart training) with running. I have been training hard and fast lately - and am track to qualify for Boston this winter.