Monthly Archives: December 2012

An attempt.

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I’ve been reading a lot of this blog lately and really enjoying Jenna’s adventures in cooking and exploring California. She recently posted a recipe that, as a mint chocolate lover, simply had to try. Of course, mine didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as hers (she did go to culinary school after all) but I’m excited to see how it tastes at my work Christmas party tomorrow. Here’s my attempt at Mint Chocolate Candy Cane Cake

Unfortunately, our entire town is out of peppermint extract, so I melted down a candy cane instead. It worked, but it certainly isn't perfect.

Here's the final product. Like I said, Jenna's is way prettier than mine, but I think it's going to taste good!

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We’re running a half marathon!

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I’ve never really been much of a runner. I played volleyball in college and was always pretty good at the short, explosive movements it requires. But when it comes to running, I have a tendency to get bored fast and just quit. For those of you that have followed my past blogs, you know that running is something I dabble with here and there, and for awhile back in 2010 I seriously considered training for a half marathon. I was living in rural eastern California at the time, and the opportunities were limited so it never happened.

Finally, this fall, Kyle and I decided to sign up for Moab/Canyonlands Half Marathon! Check out their website, I think there are still some spots available.  So on March 16, 2013, we’ll run 13.1 miles along the prettiest road I know. Seriously, has anyone out there been to Moab? Driven the River Road (Hwy 128)? Check out these photos:

This one is from the highway looking southeast back toward the La Sal Mountains.

La_Sal_Mtns._from_Hwy_128_near_Moab_UT

This is why they call it the River Road:

river road

Some of the crazy/beautiful landforms that make this one of the most scenic drives in America. This is looking back at Castle Valley – I think this formation is called A Priest and the Nuns.

castle valley

Needless to say, we’re pretty excited to be running our first half marathon on one of prettiest roads in the country. It’s a gentle downhill grade along the Colorado River so it shouldn’t be too hard. Anyone else out there running this in 2013?

I’m in!

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accepted

Ever since I started thinking about going back to school, I’ve slowly been chipping away at the never-ending list of things I need to do to make this all happen in a timely (5 year) fashion. Here’s the break down of my time line if everything goes perfectly:

July 2012 – May 2013: Volunteer at hospital in Grand Junction

August 2012 – December 2012: online math class

October 2012: Apply for program at Montana State

January 2013: CNA class at Western Colorado Community College

May 2013 – Auguest 2014: Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical certificate program at Montana State while working part-time at a hospital or nursing facility.

August 2014 – June 2015: Travel and work with Kyle.

June 2015-September 2017: PA school.

While it’s fun to think about, it has all been pretty intangible up until now…because on Friday I GOT MY ACCEPTANCE LETTER TO MSU!!! This time next year, I’ll (probably be miserable because I’ll be in the middle of finals) be living in Bozeman and be almost halfway through my pre-reqs for PA school! How exciting is that?! Here are a couple photos from the gorgeous MSU campus:

I can’t remember what this building is called, but it’s one of the classic old buildings on the main quad area of the campus. I think it’s mostly for registration and advising…

mccall hall

This is the brand new, super fancy chemistry and biochemistry building. I’ll be spending plenty of time in here for OChem, Biochem and other classes.

chem and biochem

And here is a shot of the welcome sign as you come into town. Isn’t it pretty?

downtown bozemanMSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

I can’t express my excitement at having this incredible opportunity to move back to my hometown to begin pursuing my dreams. It’s funny, in college you coudn’t have paid me enough money to take the classes that I’ll be burying myself in during the next two years. But now that I have some perspective on the world outside the classroom, I can’t wait to dive in to these classes. I’m so glad I decided to take a break between undergrad and post-grad education because now I know what I really want, and I know how important it is to focus and take advantage of every opportunity. This time I’ll be more than just a student, I’ll be an active participant in my education. Bozeman, here I come (in 4 months…)!

Adventures in cooking.

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Sometimes all I can think about is cooking. Trying new recipes, making the old familiar recipes that make me think of home, puttering around our kitchen mincing garlic and simmering tomato sauce and stirring batter. For some reason, that’s happening right now. I can’t get enough of reading cooking blogs, looking at new recipes and hanging out in the kitchen. Maybe it’s because it gets dark at 5:00 and it seems like that’s all there is to do all evening. Maybe it’s because we’re taking a break from Paleo so the recipe world has opened up. Maybe it’s the instinctual need to eat more during winter. I don’t know what it is, but the last few weeks have been fun!

A friend of mine from college has a really beautiful blog at ellensnorthwest.com. She works at a fancy Seattle restaurant, has fabulous taste in food and drink, and takes wonderful photos (of food, but other things too). On a recent perusal of her blog, I found a reference to Eat, Live, Run. I, just last week, brought Jenna’s book White Jacket Required home from the library and have been constantly poring over her recipes since (which may or may not have something to do with this move away from Paleo…) How did I not know about this blog before? Holy buckets, Jenna and her culinary adventures are amazing! After spending a few hours (!!!) on her blog yesterday, I found a recipe which was really intriguing to me – mostly because it sounded so weird! So when I got home from work last night, I decided to make her Olive Oil Cake. She describes it as the cake she takes to every get-together because it’s so easy and delicious, and she was right! While I don’t have a KitchenAid mixer, I found my hand mixer to be perfectly acceptable at beating the eggs and sugar to make this light, deliciously citrusy cake.

Here it is just out of the oven with an uneven dusting of powdered sugar on the top. And here is the piece I ate immediately after. It was delicious!

whole cake

piece of cake

This morning, because I was feeling particularly industrious, I got up a little early and put together this awesome looking Crock Pot Chicken Chili recipe that I found on Pinterest, but that originally comes from The Comfort of Cooking. Is it just me, or does raw chicken always look gross? A small price to pay for having yummy chili ready to eat when I get home from work!

raw chicken chili

Anyone else out there cooking up a storm lately? Any fun recipes to share? Happy December everyone!

Update: here is what dinner looks like! I’m pretty excited about it!

chili

*GASP* I don’t love Paleo *GASP*

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There it is: the simple truth. Kyle and I, for about 2.5 months, have been dabbling with the Paleo diet. This is not to say that we eat strictly Paleo at every meal BY ANY MEANS. Rather, our strategy has been to grocery shop Paleo and thus eat Paleo at home (with the exception of beer for him) and splurge on weekends or when we’re eating at someone else’s house. While I can absolutely get on board with the general idea of the Paleo diet (plus it was a fun new challenge to try cooking in a new way) I honestly just think it’s too hard, too restrictive to keep up in any kind of routine way. Sometimes I don’t have time to cook an egg at breakfast. Honestly, sometimes I just don’t want an egg at breakfast. On days when I’m in a rush, it’d be nice to throw together a quick sandwich on the go than have to make a salad and box up last night’s leftovers.

It’s funny that I’m even saying this because I’ve never been a carbs person. I don’t like bread that much, I almost never eat rice and the only dairy I usually consume is cheese. But the convenience factor is hard to deny. And I’m all about convenience right now when I’m working 40 hrs/week, playing in three volleyball leagues, taking an online class and trying to also have some unscheduled fun.

I want to appreciate food again, not pick it apart. I want to not feel  like every meal is a production, and I want to be able to make big production meals without poring over the ingredients list first. So I’m taking a break from Paleo. I’ll let you know how it goes!

In an effort to make this post a little less text heavy, I tried to find an image that did something other than pile praises on the Paleo diet. THEY DON’T EXIST. I googled “Paleo hater” “Dislike paleo diet” “Negative paleo” and other things. Apparently people everywhere completely adore the Paleo diet and I’m an anomoly. So instead, here are some really cute puppies!

puppies_icon

And the time flies.

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I’m surprised I’m still surprised at how quickly time passes. Suddenly it’s December, and just as suddenly it feels normal that it’s December. Normal, at least, until I look around and realize that there is no snow anywhere. Are we due for another winter like last? I hope not. Anyway, here’s the long-lost Thanksgiving post that I promised and never delivered on…

Last year, Kyle and I hosted both our families for Thanksgiving here in Colorado. Though we’d been dating for less than a year, the circumstances lined up well and we decided it would be too fun to feel awkward about. So Kyle’s mom, dad, aunt, uncle, two brothers and sister-in-law and my mom, dad, sister, sister’s boyfriend and aunt all piled into our 850 square foot house for the big feast. We had to put our couch out on the porch and rent a table and enough chairs to fit everyone, but it was a fun day with lots of delicious food, and it was wonderful to have both our families there to spend time with.

This year, Kyle’s brother and sister-in-law hosted in San Francisco. I haven’t spent much time in the city, but I’ve always heard amazing things so I was excited to make the trek. Plus, the weather in San Francisco this time of year is gorgeous. Because of our work schedules, we had to fly the morning of Thanksgiving which meant that things were happening by the time we got to their house! After watching some football and making the food assignments, we got going! Here is the weekend plan:

weekend plan

 

After lazing around a little more, we started cooking. We’d planned on a 5pm dinner, but there was lots to do before that happened. The first was figure out how to use the deep fryer:

thanksgiving boys

Here you see the boys standing around trying to figure out how they were going to measure the temperature of the hot oil without losing all the skin on their hands. The solution: a metal hanger! Meanwhile, in the kitchen we were working on mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, bacon maple brussel sprouts, green beans, cranberry sauce and bread. Finally, not too much after 5, everything was ready! Here’s a glimpse of our serving line (desserts not included).

 

thanksgiving food

 

And here’s a look at our table and the view. Kyle’s brother and sister-in-law live up on a hill almost above the Golden Gate Bridge, and from their house you can see a lot of the bay. It’s really spectacular!

 

thanksgiving window

 

What an awesome day! Afterward, we went on a long walk through the Presidio, around LucasFilm and back to the house. It was so nice to be surrounded with Kyle’s awesome family, I only wished my family could have been there too!

The next morning, Kyle and I got up to go for a quick run before we headed downtown. We crossed the bridge over to Marin and ran in the hills above the Golden Gate. The sun washes it out a little, but what an awesome setting for a morning run!

trail run city view

 

We spent the afternoon of black Friday (with about 100,000 other people) in Union Square. It was fun to walk around one of the best shopping districts in the country on the biggest shopping day of the year, but it didn’t take me long to get overwhelmed. There were police directing traffic because there were so many pedestrians! Finally, we went home and spent the evening watching more football, playing games and eating leftovers.

The next morning we got up and headed across the Golden Gate Bridge to Tiburon – the ferry dock for Angel Island. The day was beautiful and clear, with a breeze on the water. Here’s a view of the harbor.

angel island boat dock

 

Kyle and I before getting on the ferry:

angel island kyle and rosa

I didn’t know anything about Angel Island before this trip. What an interesting glimpse into West Coast history! For many years, the island served as a military camp or fort, and there are several historic buildings on the island. However, it is probably best known as the “Ellis Island of the West.” Between 1910 and 1940, Angel Island served as the immigration processing center during which time 1 million Asian immigrants were granted entry to the country. In the late 1950’s, the US military built a missile base on the island, but it was decommissioned not many years after it was built. Now the entire island is a state park and the only way you can reach it is by ferry. It’s a small island, but you can stay overnight and camp, explore the beaches and historic buildings, even take tours put on by the Parks employees. This is one of the old buildings on the island:

angel island building

And here is the view of the Golden Gate bridge. I just can’t get over how beautiful the weather was while we were there!

golden gate

 

We spent Sunday walking around the city with Kyle’s brother and sister-in-law, checking out some of the fun neighborhoods and taking advantage of the lively bar and restaurant scene that we don’t really get here in western Colorado. What a fun weekend! Did everyone else have a nice Thanksgiving?