Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Costumes

I believe in dressing appropriately for the occasion. If there is a color associated with a holiday, I believe in wearing it. That means green on St. Patrick's Day. Harvest colors for Thanksgiving. Red and/or green for Christmas. I believe in wearing something nice to a wedding. I believe in dressing up for the symphony or the opera. I don't think sweat pants are suitable for the Thanksgiving table.

I believe in costumes.































Sunday, October 21, 2012

Broccoli Soup

I made a delicious soup on Friday night that was SO easy, as well.

The original recipe called for:

1 lb. chopped broccoli
1 small onion
2 cups chicken/vegetable broth
1 can of white beans

You're supposed to cook the onion in a pot in olive oil, then add everything once the onion is ready. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down to a simmer until the broccoli is cooked.

And then you are supposed to blend it all up.

Since I don't really like soup that I can drink, I prefer it laden with foods to chew and extra crackers to make it thick, I didn't like the idea of blending it. I also didn't like the idea that it called for nothing to flavor it besides the onion.

So.

I decided to add it a few other things, and it ended up being delicious, as I said.

Take the original recipe:


1 lb. chopped broccoli
1 small onion
2 cups chicken/vegetable broth
1 can of white beans

ADD:
dash of chili pepper
jalapeno flakes
2 cups (roughly) of red cabbage and green cabbage
cilantro to taste

When ready to eat, add a dollop (or more) of Greek yogurt.

I don't know, maybe it sounds gross.....No............... It can't sound gross. It was so good. I'll definitely be eating it again and again this winter. Plus, it's healthy, right?

Horseback Riding


The offer came unexpectedly, but I jumped on it as soon as it was out of his mouth. A guy in my ward is from a farm up in Idaho. He mentioned that a group of people were invited to go and ride his family's horses.  I've been wanting to go horseback riding for ages. Forever, really. So I immediately agreed to go, coerced Elsie into going and invited Megan at nearly the last minute.

The last time I was on a horse, I was still quite young and at my dad's Uncle Murray's place in the hills of Kentucky. He put us up on the horses and was going to let Amy and me ride off into the forest, without supervision...without instruction. I chickened out. It has since been a regret, because I never knew when my next opportunity to ride would be.

I loved it.

Loren was kind of the same way. He put leads on the horses and had us get to know them while he had to help his brother on the farm. When he got back, he saddled our horses, gave us tips on how to get up on the horse and then we set off. Mine and Megan's horses were very docile, and sort of lazy. Megan had a hard time getting Studly to move; I had a difficult time with Buck. Elsie, on the other hand, had a very spirited horse. The one thing they all agreed on, was the fact that they wanted to go home.

We had a hard time keeping them pointed in the right direction. When we were traveling away from the farm, they were slow and thickheaded. When we started heading back, they would trot along much more quickly.

It was so great!

The weather was perfect. Absolutely gorgeous. I loved riding, but I know that I need a lot more practice and I probably need to look up tips online or something so that I don't break my knees the next time. I'm a little sore today, though that was to be expected, and it really isn't as bad as I thought.

We ended the day at Maddox in Brigham City, which was absolutely delicious as usual. The bison chopped steak with mushrooms and peppers seemed like the perfect way to end my western-themed day.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Loop

I say it every year, so I won't mention again how fall is my favorite season in Utah. I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.










Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Excuse Me


A friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I tried to share it. For whatever reason, it won't post to my wall (though, I'm sure I'll wake up and it will be there five different times) and I just had to share because it made me giggle out loud and clasp my hands like an excited little girl.

LOVE IT!!!

Pumpkin Crunch Cake


My two favorite pies? Pumpkin and pecan. Or, pecan and pumpkin. It's so hard to choose which one to eat when I find myself standing in front of both at the Thanksgiving dessert table. I wasn't thinking about solving this delightful dilemma, (Why not just have one of each? Yes, please!) but that's what this recipe is. A delicious combination of fall's two greatest desserts.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. pumpkin pie spice (I don't really know how much I added)
1/2 t. salt
1 box yellow cake mix
1 c. pecans, chopped (I used whole pecans, and they were delightful)
1/2  butter, melted (this is half of what the original recipe used, but I couldn't justify a whole cup; also, I mixed the melted butter in with the pecans, and it didn't hurt the recipe, but I think it is supposed to help with the cake, too)

Cool Whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, spices, and salt in a large bowl.  (I used my mixer for this step.)

Pour into a greased 13×9 baking dish.

Run cake mix through a sifter to get lumps out and sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture.  Top with pecans.  Drizzle melted butter over pecans.  Bake for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool. Serve chilled (or warm, though chilled is better).  Top with  a dollop of whipped topping.

Enjoy!

Found the recipe here.

Maui: Day by Day

I didn't do a post of everything we did while in Maui by day. If you are interested in reading it, you can find a sequence of events here along with a ton of other pictures: http://meganelizabethsturges.blogspot.com/2012/10/picture-overload-maui-edition.html


Mmmmm... Mama's Fish House sounds SO good right now.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Bookshelf


I have a new a bookshelf!

I've been looking for a while but haven't wanted to pay tons of money for particle board or, frankly, something ugly.

So my friend Katy found this on KSL, barn wood and an old door. And I love it! It makes our front room look like a home.




I added a few other touches to our living room yesterday when I was cleaning like a crazy person. I had a very productive day. My room is clean. My bathroom is clean. My living room and kitchen are clean. I went to a party. I went grocery shopping for the first time in two months. And I made a delicious pumpkin dessert.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ocean Picture


This is a picture from our last night in Maui. It's probably one of the best pictures my camera has ever captured, for sure. Watching the waves roll in was one of my very favorite things to do, and I found a little spot that was secluded from everyone and watched as the sun began to set. It was perfect.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Secretary

The other day I was talking to a friend who had mentioned that she had a superior at her company encourage her to finish school because
No one goes to college to be a secretary.
We were discussing her career, so I know that it was nothing meant towards me that she brought it up. And it's probably true, no one really goes to college to be a secretary. You don't often have to. A lot of secretary and receptionist positions require little more than a high school degree.

That being said, when I have been job hunting in the past, there are plenty of "Office Manager" positions, "Executive Assistants", etc. that require, or prefer, applicants to have four-year degrees. But, regardless of desired education level, they all offer about the same amount of money when you are starting out.
No one goes to college to be a secretary.
I certainly didn't. Granted, I don't know what exactly I went to college to "be". I didn't want to be anything. I just really liked my classes. I had been told that as long as I had a degree, I could make money. And now I have a degree, and I have a steady paycheck, but I wouldn't exactly classify it as "money".

I didn't go to college to be a secretary. But that's where I have found work. That's where all my experience is. So if I tried to find another position, it would likely be as an administrative something. Technically, I am much more than a secretary at my job, but try telling that to anyone else. And it really isn't what I want to do with the rest of my life. I don't want to be 65 and a secretary. I don't want to be 35 and a secretary.

So now what?

That statement has negatively resonated in my head for nearly a week, and I'm no closer to deciding what I should do about it. Apparently, I went to college to be a secretary.





Thursday, October 04, 2012

Maui is for Lovers

Remember that one time I went to Hawaii?

I. Loved. It.

In no particular order, I loved these things the best:

  1. The weather -- sometimes it rained in the morning, but mostly, it was sunny and a little cloudy. Never really too hot, never too cold. Always lovely. Sometimes breezy. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.
  2. The views -- The ocean. The sunsets. The sunrise. The trees. The flora and fauna. 
  3. The food -- Fish! (In particularly, Mama's Fish House. Pricey. But totally worth it. Twice.)
  4. The drives -- Road to Hana is awesome. So much that we did it three times. Sort of... more like, we attempted it, turned around, attempted it, somehow started at the beginning again, and then finally made it. After that, any time we had to go on Hana Highway, we considered it an attempt. By the 15th time, we were total pros. But I loved the twists and turns. The waterfalls. The bridges! The dirt road. The random picture adventures. The secreted beaches.
  5. The beaches -- need I say more? Every one of the beaches had their own appeal for different reasons. We visited at least seven different beaches, including: The Black Sand Beach, Koki Beach, Makena Beach, which were all my favorites. I loved the sand under my feet (except, as sand does, it gets everywhere) and the waves (unless they were knocking me over) and the sunsets on the beach, the people watching, and the reading on the beach! (I could do that everyday, for forever.)
  6. The sun -- It kept me warm and it didn't burn me. And despite what people say, I'm at least one shade darker than when I left. (As long as you don't look at my legs.)
  7. The diversity -- Between the beaches and the jungles, everything was so so so great.
  8. The hidden gems -- We stumbled upon Koki Beach on accident. We also discovered a charming little garden highlighting the different cultures that populate Hawaii today. We went off-roading into a giant field of sugar cane, which was a little scary and not very advisable in our economy car, but totally awesome until we stumbled across a few other people.
  9. The solitude -- There were a few times when I felt like I could be on the island all by myself and I LOVED it.
  10. The hike -- We hiked the Papawai trail, which takes you through a bamboo forest and up to a giant waterfall (which we didn't quite reach). The bamboo is awesome. The mosquitoes are not awesome. Next time I go, I'm going fully prepared for more hiking.
  11. The sunrise -- We were awake for it twice (crazy, right?). Once we were driving. And once, we were in Haleakala Crater National Park, watching from near the summit. It was breathtaking, mostly because we were freezing. 
  12. The time change -- It is not as awesome coming back to Utah, but I loved that we were going to bed no later than 10 p.m., and waking up and going out and seeing things. It was very productive. I think it almost inspired me to change my ways. Almost.
  13. Banyan trees.
  14. Luau dancers -- Listen, those boys might have been no more than 18 years old, but they were attractive. And they had washboard abs, and more importantly, massive, muscley thighs. And fantastic smiles. And weren't half-bad dancers, either. Swoooooooooon. 
  15. Our condo -- It was in a great location (Lahaina), two comfortable beds for Megan and me, an excellent shower with plenty of hot water, and was stocked with all the equipment we needed: body boards, snorkel gear (which we never used), beach chairs, beach towels, etc. etc. It was a great opportunity to stay in so nice a place for so inexpensively. 
  16. And I almost forgot, my very favorite thing: NO BRA -- that's right. No bra. When you are spending the majority of the day in a swimsuit, there's just no use for it. I think I wore a bra three out of the eight days we were there. Magical. Seriously.
I didn't think there could be a list of things that I didn't like about my trip But there were a few things that I am glad to know:
  1. Maui is not the place for single people, except for all of the reasons listed above. Just note that while attending the luau, the submarine adventure, on the road to Hana, or literally anywhere you go on the island, you will run into newlyweds, couples celebrating their anniversaries, couples, old couples, gay couples, and more couples. Everywhere. Maui is for lovers. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that someone thought that Megan and I were somehow...involved. However, we were not there on our honeymoon. 
  2. Mosquitoes. I hate them. 
  3. The grumpy guy at the luau is not interested in answering questions, he wants to drop off your drink in .00001 second because he has other tables to serve and wants tips, not to be friendly. He was the worst. And as I chatted with my seat mate on the plane, she complained that the locals are not very friendly. I didn't really interact with many locals, but if that guy was any way to gauge  she was probably right. 
  4. That's it. Did you think this list would be long? I was in MAUI!! Of course it isn't long.
And now, the reason you are reading this post:

We took a lot of self portraits.

The beaches were amazing.

The sunsets were a perfect way to end the days' activities.

Loved everything about the road to Hana.

We are fun.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Coat of Arms (Please Vote)

My favorite author is hosting another contest that of course I had to participate in, especially since it was a call for creativity. She asked her fans to design a coat of arms for a prickly middle aged character that is known for putting everyone, including Napoleon Bonaparte, in place with her sharp-edged umbrella.

The only requirement was to have two crossed umbrellas, the rest was up to us.

You can see the other entries, and mine, here: http://www.laurenwillig.com/news/2012/10/02/pick-miss-gwens-coat-of-arms/

And if you decide to comment, I would appreciate if you mention that you like #4 the very best.



I won third place last year for a similar contest, but I'm just as eager to win another ARC copy of Lauren's newest book The Ashford Affair.

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