Tuesday, May 31, 2011

KITTENS!

Sleeping together
Yes, we did. We adopted two little munchkins, and they are adorable! I didn't get to meet them until late last night, but I heart them. Leaving for work this morning was a definite struggle because I just want to play and snuggle with them.
          They were rescued from a kill shelter out in Kentucky, so we're glad to know that they have a new home. Both of them have really strong personalities and are curious, but they also mellow out when it's time for bed.
          I've included lots of pictures of them, and the pictures don't do them justice. They also look a lot bigger in the pictures than they are, so I tried to have Winston in some of them to show the size difference. We still haven't finalized names yet, but the girl is Giada and the boy is potentially going to be Sylvester (personally, I like Rocco). Let me know what you think of names, and enjoy the pictures!
On their way to their new home!
Figaro on the chair

Figaro just casually relaxing on the couch
Giada stretching (I woke her up from a nap when I got home last night)

Figaro and Winston
Winston watching Giada (he is already very protective of them)
Getting ready for bed

Friday, May 27, 2011

Five on Friday

Who is ready for a nice long weekend? I am! I'm keeping this semi-short and sweet, and I think I'm going to regularly do "Five on Friday." So here goes...

1. It's bagel Friday at the office! Every Friday is, but I just love bagels. And as a runner in training, I don't just want, I need the carbs. I always have an everything bagel with one half smothered in cream cheese and the other smothered in Brummel and Brown.

2. I cried on the train ride into work today. My heart aches for Dickens, and as hard as I try to be strong, I still must deal with the pain.

3. On a very positive note, we are kitten adoption hunting! I've found a few cute little kittens online, and our family has been pre-approved, so hopefully, I will come home to one (or three) little fur balls.
Rocco - a potential new addition to our family!
4. I can't wait to see M today! And even more exciting, I get to ride back up to Boston with him. The plans for what we're doing this weekend aren't solidified, but lots of outdoor options. (I'm hoping to get rid of my pastiness.)
M & I on New Year's Eve
5. I've almost hit 50 followers, and you know what that means.... A GIVEAWAY! Stay tuned for what you'll have to do to be eligible for a simple, but great gift from me.

I hope everyone has an excellent weekend! Enjoy the sunshine if it's shining where ever you may be!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Very Thankful Thursday

Today, with the sun shining bright, I find myself really grateful. After yesterday's post, and the pain I've felt the past few days, I am so thankful for this blogging world and lots of the people in my life.
           I am thankful for my family, immediate and extended. Without our closeness, support, and love, I don't know how I would get by.
           I am thankful for my closest friends who, both near and far, have expressed that we are in their thoughts and hope to ease our grief.
           I am thankful for M. Even from 200 miles away, he knows that I'm not fine and sometimes just need to be on the phone and cry.
           I am thankful for my work family because going to the office has been a blessing, but even more so, I know there are many people there that I can truly count on.
           I am thankful for my healthy body, including my strong legs that have carried me through these tough runs the past few days.
           Last, but not least, I am thankful to you - blogging friends! The honesty and kindness in your comments have truly made me feel better. Sometimes your simple words are all that are needed to bring a smile back to a teary face.
            What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sunbathe in Heaven Dickens

Last night sucked. In less than two hours, one of our family's cats went from happy, chipper, and personable to suffering and then off to heaven. His name was Dickens, and we had gotten him over 12 years ago. He was the kind of cat who wasn't a cat at all. With a strong personality and a personality to match, he was a family member that is already greatly missed. So here's a letter to Dickens:

Dear Dickens,
         I miss you already. I try not to cry every time I think of you, but I can't help it. In my previous moments of sadness, pain, sickness, and loneliness, you would always seem to appear, eager to jump on my lap, but now, we just have your memory, and no you.
Thank you for helping me heal when I dislocated my kneecap and was confined to the couch for weeks.
His paw on my knee-stabilizing brace
And thank you for sharing that space with Winston, even though I know you would have liked to be next to me without him.
Not so happy to be sharing
Thank you for keeping me warm at night and being a very little spoon when I was missing M. 
Little spoon
Thank you for putting a smile on my face when I first open my eyes in the morning to find you sleeping on my head. 
Yes, that's what I look like right before I wake up in the morning
Thank you for always keeping Dad company at any time of the day, including your after dinner naps on his lap or chest.

Thank you for being cute and yourself, even when you slept and didn't want your picture taken.

Thank you for always letting us know that you would miss us when we were traveling by getting in our suitcases before we even started packing.

Thank you for making us laugh when you couldn't get into boxes because they were too small. And for making us smile when we would find you napping or hanging out in boxes that seemed to be meant for you. 

Thank you for showing us how smart you are and that you are a perfect at home office cat. 
Just working on Dad's briefcase, pretty standard
Thank you for posing for pictures and pretending to watch TV.

And most of all, thank you for bringing so much joy into our lives. Because you loved the heat and sunshine so much, we know that you aren't just resting in peace, you are sunbathing in heaven. 
Love,
Amanda

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Foggy with a chance of sweat

Last night, I'm so glad that I didn't run. I was in need of some good quality me time. This morning I got up to run my 4-mile loop, but I didn't quite make it. (I ran only 3.3 miles.) Yesterday, I read on Christin's blog about some of her tips for new runners.
          Even though I am a seasoned runner (going on 12 years now), I thought maybe her tips could help me, and I'm always looking for ways to improve. One tip was to not listen to music. For as long as I can remember, my iPod has been attached to me. The only memories of no music for running was during track practices or races. Today, I decided to forego the music. #fail
          In an attempt to listen to my breathing, I realized that there's a reason I run slower when I run without music. I'm a loud breather. The sounds of my breathe distract me from keeping my head clear, giving myself mini pep talks, and focusing on my cadence. I agree with all of her other tips, but this one just didn't work for me. But hey, at least I tried!
          P.S. Did I mention that it is 90% humidity in Connecticut right now? And extremely foggy? How about that for a sweaty run?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Food & Wine or Running?

Tonight, I chose food and wine. Today was one of those days that no matter how hard I tried to be super positive, I couldn't get to that point. Finally, I got in the car and talked to my mom the whole ride home and vented. And I've decided that venting can be okay, in moderation.
         I'm currently training for a 10K and a half marathon. The 10K is in less than 3 weeks, and the half is in the beginning of August. As soon as I stepped outside to hit the pavement, the skies started rumbling. I turned my butt right around and headed for the fridge. I whipped up a healthy, balanced, and delicious dinner.
         Before I even started, I poured myself a glass of wine. Then I got to cooking. It was a combo of roasted cauliflower, sweet apple chicken sausage, vegetable pasta, and grated sharp cheddar cheese. I seasoned with some butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Turned out great, and lots of leftovers. I just wish M were here to enjoy the meal with me.
Skipping running for dinner and wine
          I also had a great lunch today. I'm Italian, so last night my dad made some of his homemade meatballs. To make lunch easy, I toasted an English muffin, then threw two meatballs on top that were already in marinara sauce and sprinkled parmasean on top. I microwaved it for about a minute so that the meatballs were nice and warm with melted cheese. Easy and tasty lunch!
Faux meatball grinders
         Delicious food, good wine, and a great night of TV ahead of me. The Bachelorette premieres tonight, and I am beyond excited! If only my Bachelor/Bachelorette partner-in-crime were here to watch with me!
We love Bachelor/Bachelorette (and each other)

#13 Try a martini

Why do weekends fly by? I think that they are just far too short. M and I didn't get to making homemade mozz stick this weekend, but I'm sure we will soon. We decided to be social instead. Anyways, Monday morning came way too quickly, and I thought a post about my very first "classic" martini would be appropriate.
          I've always been enamored with people who drink martinis. Maybe it's the glass. Maybe it is the particular way that the drink is ordered, but at least I wanted to try one for myself. I have had my fair share of Cosmopolitans, but I wanted something classic. What better time to try a martini than with M and his aunt for Saturday evening cocktails before some delicious pizza?
          Off we went to Gabriele's, formerly Luca's, for some drinks and yummy sausage bread. M and Moy (M's aunt) ordered their drinks, and I decided on a dirty vodka martini with three olives. From my first sip to my last, I winced every time I drank it. For someone who has grown to love olives, I did not enjoy this martini. I tried my hardest to finish the whole drink, but even Moy had had enough and made me stop.
          Why didn't I like it? The martini tasted like I had swallowed the water from Long Island sound when swimming on a hot summer day. All that differed was that it was in a pretty glass and some vodka seemed to be mixed in. Will I be trying another dirty martini? Probably not. But will I try a different kind of martini? Definitely!
           Thank you M and Moy for being apart of #13 on my list!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Be My Honeypie

I couldn't fall asleep last night. Why? I am so happy! Isn't that the best feeling? I don't know when, or even if, I have ever been kept awake because of all the amazing, wonderful, and happy things happening in my life. My dreams are my real life. That's me right now, and I am so grateful!

"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -Dr. Seuss

            But it's not just that I'm in love. It's also that my family is happy, my friends are happy, and there is that calm, peaceful glow in my world. There will always be bumps in the road and obstacles to overcome, but right now, I'm actually soaking up and enjoying the moment.
            I thought I would share this video that I just stumbled across on YouTube to share with you because it's happy with fun couples. I hope you enjoy it!


I'm off to Boston for the weekend! We're making homemade mozzarella sticks, so I'll be sure to let you know how that goes!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

#10 Bring Winston to work

No, my company does not ask me to blog about how much I love working there. Yes, I do genuinely enjoy my job! And one of the perks about my company is that it is dog-friendly! Rarely do I come into the office without being greeted by a smiling furry friend. So, being the dog lover that I am, I wanted to bring in our corgi to the office. He wasn't a very big fan of the visit, but he made it through the day!

Winston, the not so happy Corgi, at work

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One Hundred Acre Wood French Toast

Brunch-fest of champions
Let's just start off by saying, how fantastic does that look? Well, that picture won't ever do this brunch justice. If only I could share a bite of this with each of you via my blog... So you want to know what's in this fantastic brunch dish?
          It's challah french toast with a cream cheese-raspberry filling between each slice. Then it is drizzled with a raspberry-strawberry sauce, fresh berries, and topped with a perfect sprinkling of powdered sugar. I just wish that I could brag and say that I finished it all. Luckily, I had the help of Regis to eat some, but even between the two of us, I'm sad to say there was still some left on the plate.
          Where did I get this? At Sabrina's Cafe, the Italian Market location. For #30 on my list of 23 Before 23, I had a great weekend in Philadelphia. We finished off my visit at Sabrina's, and I can't wait to go back and visit!
           As a tip for anyone who lives in or is visiting Philadelphia, you must eat at this spot. Just know that there can be up to 90 minutes of waiting, but your grumbly tummy will thank you as soon as you take that first bite.
           Thanks so much to Regis for taking me to this treasure of a spot!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

#BeGrateful

I was nearing my cranky afternoon point. I wanted a snack. I wanted a nap. I wanted to go to the gym. I wanted to see M. I wanted, I wanted, I wanted!
            So I decided to pop onto Blogger to see what my blog friends may have posted, while I had spent the afternoon working my butt off. I had been having a generally good day, but just needed a little pick me up.
            I saw that the lovely Joelle, from Where We Love is Home, had put up a post with the exact subject line I had been feeling: "Not Having a Good Day?" I clicked. I read. I felt grateful. Please head over to her blog and read this little something that made me feel big time grateful.

#3 Visit St. Louis (Anne, specifically)

In front of the arch!
What better holiday to travel to a new city than Halloween? And who better to spend it with than one of my most wonderful best girl friends, Anne. We planned the trip in August (2010), so it was several months of waiting and anticipating, but in the end it was more than worth the wait.
          I flew in on a Thursday afternoon and couldn't wait to see her new apartment and life outside of Connecticut. She had relocated to STL after graduating in May for her job. She gave me a quick driving tour before we headed to her new digs. Turns out she had a gigantic apartment that felt just like a home. That night, she had a work event, including free appetizers and drinks, so I got a taste for her co-workers.
          On Friday, she still had to work, so I spent the morning on the treadmill (I was in training for my first half marathon at the time), and then I baked her some delicious chocolate chip banana bread. I picked her up from work and got to see her in her "office," before we headed to the arch. Unfortunately, we couldn't go up to the top, but it was still cool to stand under the massive structure.
           Friday night, Anne, her roommate, and I had dinner at one of President Obama's favorite spots - Pi. I must say that it was quite delicious! Then we went out for drinks around her neighborhood to make it an early night before Saturday's holiday celebrations.
          Saturday, we got some coffee at Starbucks before making the long walk through the park to the zoo. We discovered 2 great things about the St. Louis Zoo: free entry and beer! Who would have thought that you could buy alcoholic beverages at a zoo? Not this girl! We worked up an appetite with our long walks, so decided on some lunch before taking a nap (and me going for a short run).
@ the zoo!
          That night we dressed up like we were still trick-or-treaters! I had a bargain sailor costume ($6 at one of my local thrift shops). But we couldn't decide if I was a sailor, Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden, or just a girl in a navy dress. The night was filled with laughter and fun, and I headed back to the East Coast early on Sunday.    
Best friends all dressed up (sorry for the blurry picture)

Monday, May 16, 2011

#9 Go to Yankees/Red Sox Game

With the stadium in the background
Once upon a time, a simple girl fell in love with a simple boy. This wasn't just any boy, this was the perfect boy. His name was M, and he had everything going for him, but one. He was a {dramatic pause} Red Sox fan! And of course, the girl was a Yankees fan. 

The simple girl had a list that she wanted to complete before she turned 24. One of those things was to go to a Yankees/Red Sox game. So she bought a pair of tickets for a Saturday night game in May and took her perfect boy. Both the girl and the boy had their hesitations, but knew that no matter how the night ended, they would still love each other. 
At the stadium

A very happy couple

Pre-Game warm ups
Even though there were moments of frustration and disagreements on which team was better, the night was a success. Because the simple girl will only love one Red Sox fan, and the simple boy will only love one Yankee fan. 

Still smiling
And they lived happily ever after. The end.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Five on Friday

I'm skipping out on Foodie and/or Flashback Friday today. Instead, I'm going to share 5 facts about me. Ready?

1. Tomorrow is one of my best friend's birthdays! Unfortunately, she lives out in St. Louis, so we can't celebrate together, but I love and miss her lots!
On her birthday (which happened to be our senior prom) 5/14/2006
2. I officially consider myself addicted to Blogger. Since I first turned on my computer this morning, I haven't been able to access my dashboard, which meant no writing, and more importantly, no reading my favorite blogs!

3. I am crazy in love with M! And I can't wait to see him tonight.
M and I on my birthday (I have this as one of the many pictures hanging in my office)
4. Friday the 13th usually brings me very good luck and great things happen, so I can't wait to fill you in on what happens today/tonight.

5. I have a dog named Winston. (I've mentioned we have lots of pets: 1 dog, 3 cats, and 1 fish). Winston is very "strong-willed" and has zero sense of direction, but I still love him lots. He's about 8 years old and is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
Winston with a dog bone (he likes to carry them around, and it looks like he has a cigar)
Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Smiling's my favorite"

Instead of focusing on the negative, I am going to think about all the wonderful little things that I'm grateful for. I am also going to share a little bit amount me and this clip from the movie Elf because it makes me happy. So here goes 3 facts about me, 3 things I'm grateful for, and 3 things that make me happy.

Fun Facts:

  • I got glasses in second grade and contact lenses in fourth grade. And I can't wait to get Lasik surgery!
  • I believe in saying thank you as much as possible.
  • When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be like Katie Couric.
Gratitude:

  • I am grateful for having a wonderful family, friends, boyfriend, and support system to get me through life's little and big events.
  • I am grateful that the sun has been shining every day for almost a week.
  • I am grateful that I have a healthy body that allows me to workout as much as I want.
Happy Things:
  • Watching movies all year round that make me smile, or laugh, even if they are Christmas movies
  • Eating a delicious lunch that I created with pasta, tofu, and mushrooms
  • Coming home to Winston (our dog) who is always excited to see you, even if he saw you 5 minutes earlier
How was your day? Do you have little things that can make you happy?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Caught Red Velveted

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies - already half gone!

Last week's Faux Fetti Cookies failed, at least in my book. I didn't end up bringing them into the office because I really didn't like the way that they tasted, so if any of you bloggers out there want to experiment and improve on them, please share your results!
          Instead of taking a nap on Sunday afternoon, I decided to take another stab at baking. This time, I found a recipe here on how to turn red velvet cake mix into red velvet cookies. And these were certainly a hit in the office! I re-typed the recipe below, and I also used a container of cream cheese frosting instead of making it from scratch. Ready to bake?

Yield: Approximately 30 sandwiches (also depending on how much cookie dough you eat)

Ingredients:
  • 1 Box Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 container Duncan Hines Cream Cheese Frosting
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine cake mix, eggs, and vegetable oil in a bowl until fully combined and dough forms.
  3. Roll dough into approximately 1 tablespoon sized balls. 
  4. Flatten with glass (or frosting container, like I did). 
  5. Bake for 8 minutes, or until tops of cookies crack.
  6. Let cool.
  7. Match cookies into same sized pairs.
  8. Frost one cookie then sandwich the pair on top.
  9. Enjoy!
Some ingredients

Cookie dough
Flattening out the cookie dough

Cookies cooling

Final product

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mish Mash Monday

I feel like after this weekend, I am all over the place. There are lots of little things that I want to share with you, but I'm not sure where to begin. So I'm just going to run with it, ready?
Zak Attack!
Starting last Wednesday, I dog and house sat for family friends. Above is the picture of Zak, who is still a puppy! He's an Italian hunting dog called a spinone. He's big and goofy. I think that he looks like a cartoon, and M thinks that he has people eyes. Dogsitting definitely put life into perspective for me. I am absolutely not ready to be a mom to a puppy. It's exhausting!
         Overall though, I had a great weekend. I hadn't seen M in two weeks because of my trip to Virginia, and I missed him like a crazy person. It was refreshing getting to relax and enjoy each other's company. We were able to get a taste of what life will be like as soon we're in the same zip code. We ran errands, went running at the beach, took long walks with the dogs, and had dinner with his aunt and my mom.
          For dinner, we went to this place in Greenwich called Boxcar Cantina. It was a fantastic! Great people and great food always make for a happy evening. After dinner, M and I relaxed a little bit before heading out to a couple local bars for a fun evening of drinks and laughs with a few other friends.
          Mother's Day morning came way too early after a restless night of puppy-sitting sleep. M was on the road by 7:30 AM to be home to spend the day with his wonderful mom. I enjoyed a great day with my mom and family. My younger sister is finally home from school, so we had a full family dinner at Terra last night. We used to eat at this restaurant years ago, but for some reason hadn't in a long time. Check out the fantastic menu! You can't go wrong, no matter what you choose.
          Does anyone else ever feel like they are out of sorts when they come back to work on Mondays?

#14 Go to NY Rangers game

For my dad's Christmas present, I decided to get him tickets for the two of us to see a New York Rangers game. Because of timing, we didn't end up going until February 27th, but it was more than worth the wait. We took a train into Manhattan in the morning, then walked from Grand Central to Madison Square Garden. Since I was technically taking him to the game, he treated me to lunch.
          We ate at Stout NYC, and it was delicious. I have acquired quite the appetite for fish and chips, anytime and anywhere. We also shared some giant onion rings. You should know that sometimes I will just eat the breading and not the onion. I like what I like! After lunch, we walked over to watch the game.
@ the game
It was a great father-daughter afternoon. And I must say that giving a gift that's an actual activity is a gift that keeps on giving. I'm so glad we went to a game, and I might turn this into a tradition. Hopefully next year the Rangers will last longer in the playoffs! Also stay tuned next week because M and I are going to a Yankee/Red Sox game this coming Saturday! Is it the weekend yet?

Friday, May 6, 2011

#4 Learn to cook scallops

Fact: I absolutely love scallops. I would say that they are one of my favorite foods. Unfortunately, my father is allergic to them, so he wasn't able to taste my creation, but I got two thumbs up from my mom. Since this is one of my favorite foods, I thought that I would most definitely put this on my list of items to complete. And I did, with great success!

Scallops with mixed greens and radishes and quinoa with shredded cheddar cheese on the side

P.S. I will attempt to re-create this and upload the recipe for it in the near future. I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Faux Fetti Cookies

Faux Fetti Cookies!
As much as I love to bake and cook, sometimes I'm guilty of taking short cuts. Tomorrow is a co-worker's birthday, so last night I decided to experiment a little bit, but also make my busy day less busy in the kitchen. Ready for the recipe?
Sprinkles and an empty bowl that previously was filled with cookie dough!
Yield: Approximately 28 cookies (I ate a good amount of cookie dough, so you might end up with more cookies than that.)

Ingredients:

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. In medium bowl, combine cake mix and sprinkles. 
  3. Add the eggs and vegetable oil until a dough forms. 
  4. Form dough into about one tablespoon-sized balls, rolling them in your hands to make them round. 
  5. Using the bottom of a glass (or whatever you have handy), press each ball so they are flattened to about 1/4 inch thick. 
  6. Put your cookies into the oven. Set the timer for 8 minutes, then rotate the racks. Bake for another 1 to 2 minutes until lightly golden.
  7. Remove from the oven to let cool.
  8. Eat 'em up!!!
Balls of dough

Flattening the cookies

Baking up deliciously

Final product for your eating pleasure!