Saturday, July 31, 2010

Birthday Celebration!

If you're wondering how to celebrate turning 29, I can't tell you the perfect way but I will tell you what I think worked. I spent eight hours working (like normal), and I took my lunch break with Sabrina & Brenda.

We all met up at Cabaret in downtown Buffalo. We had a great lunch, and they gave me a great gift card for White House, Black Market- that I can't wait to use!

After lunch it was back to work, but it wasn't too bad because quitting time came quickly. And shortly after lunch Matt sent me a text with a clue that something sweet was hidden in the kitchen- and I found a bag of dark chocolate!

I did have to do some dishes after work that had been piling up, (which will hopefully one of the last few times!) While doing the dishes I managed to cut myself on a cup that had gotten chipped. It was in the worst spot- between my pinkie and ring finger! Can you say ouch? So after that happened I quit washing dishes and walked away.

After the incident Matt called and told me to get ready because he'd be picking me up in 20 minutes- though he wouldn't tell me where we were headed. I selected a dress and then patiently awaited his arrival.

He took me to a restaurant that we've both been wanting to try, but found the place empty and with the doors locked. We don't think they went out of business, so we'll try again another time. We decided to head further down Elmwood Ave. and decided on Toro Tapas Bar.

A Glass of Malbec for me...

Breads & Spreads with a fresh salad...

Grilled Flat Iron Steak

Since it is a tapas bar we shared all the dishes, and everything was great! At the end of dinner Matt passed me this envelop...

Inside the envelop I found a gift certificate to Capello's Salon & Day Spa. Matt's suggestion is a haircut; first because I'm always saying I should get one and secondly because my hair is always the same. He also suggests I go into the stylist and say "Do whatever you want- just make me look young." That's a scary thought, but maybe I'll just do it!

After a lovely dinner we did what we always seem to end up doing on my birthday- we went to Home Depot. Home improvements are summer projects so I guess I have to share my day with the house, and I'm okay with that because we are so close to having a new kitchen! We picked up the supplies to tile the back splash and a garbage disposal.

Today, Saturday, my family is coming to check out the kitchen, take me to lunch to celebrate my birthday, and we are going to go on the Maid of Mist at Niagara Falls- hopefully I'll get some great pictures. After they leave we will be tiling the back splash! Today will be very interesting, so stay tuned for the fun to come.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Twenty-nine and doing fine....

So Twenty-Nine years ago today, bright and early in the morning in Orlando, two parent welcomed a baby girl into the world. That girl was me!

Well twenty-nine years later here I am living a pretty nice life in Buffalo. I've got many things to be thankful for and feel like I'm in a pretty good point in my life.

#1- I'm the healthiest I've ever been in my adult life. Shedding seventy pounds was probably the best decision I made in the last two years, it's given me the chance to do so many more things (and do even more shopping!).



#2- On September 25, 2004 on met my now husband when I was least expecting it, (Yes it really does happen when you aren't looking.) And this past year on September 4, 2009 I married him in a beautiful ceremony with an absolutely perfect party to celebrate.

Our first picture:

The Wedding:

#3- I have a great family that has always supported me and my choices, and when I married Matt I got an even bigger family. We always have a great time when we get a chance to visit family! I regularly get updates from home and frequent pictures of my newest nephew and niece.



#4- My awesome friends that have been there for me throughout the years! I love how with all my friends we don't have to speak everyday, but we pick up where we left off. And I'm ashamed to say it but sometime it can be over a year between meeting up. Life gets busy, but we're always there for each other.

(Sorry no picture here, but I can't seem to find a good one- guess we need to do more group shots.)

#5- Matt and I purchased our first house three years ago, which has given us a great place to call home and equity in our future. We've taken a diamond in the rough and each year make improvements that will give us a great return on investment when we decide it is time to move on.

#6- My new love is almost finished. Yes, I love my kitchen! Or should I say our kitchen since Matt is the one who designed it and has done all the installation over the last three months! This is certainly the largest investment on our house so far, but personally if I would looking for a house I'd buy this one just for the kitchen! And some of family/friend connections have contributed to this remodel.

#7- Being able to set the goal of completing a half-marathon, and then doing what needed to get done to prepare myself for 13.1 miles of my feet hitting the pavement to cross the finish line! I completed it on May 1, 2010 in 2 hours 47 minutes, which isn't fast but I fulfilled my goal of doing it.

#8- I've been looking forward to my kitchen so I can get back to baking and creating. I've had no access to a stove for three months, therefore no new cake creations or cookies! So those of you that know me personally can be looking forward to some goodies when I visit you in the future.

#9- In December 2009 I decided to start a blog, and by January 2010 I was actually blogging. It started out as a place for me to write about half-marathon training, and has evolved to a way to give the idea of life here in Buffalo. Family and friends seem to enjoy knowing what is going on in our lives, and a few readers appear to enjoy hearing what I have to say or what we're doing. In the future I may also be doing some giveaways- and everyone loves free stuff!

So after completing twenty-nine years of life, I'd say that overall I'm doing very well. I have a great life and I'm sure many opportunities coming in the future. So for this coming year I have a few things I'd like to accomplish before the big birthday. (We all know what number comes after 29!)

So in the next year I plan to:
-Successfully complete the Warrior Dash (details to come)
-Find other exciting events to do with friends
-Purchase of Digital SLR camera and actually learn how to use it
-Do some major baking- trying new recipes and creating my own
-Setting new healthy goals and accomplishing them
-Continuing the house remodel of our two untouched rooms

And adding new things as the year progresses. Happy New Year to Me!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday is fun....

Sunday was a productive and fun day...

Matt was working on the kitchen and we are getting very close. To give you a little idea of what has been accomplished over the weekend I've created a little list.

+Staron counter top installed (see this post)
+Butcher block counter top installed
+Butcher block treated with all natural "seasoning"(oils)
+Under cabinet Lighting with new dimmer switch
+Pendant Light over sink
+60% of the cabinet doors and drawers are installed
+Installed cover panels next to windows

There is more to come throughout this week after work, hopefully tomorrow the rest of the doors will be installed and the main overhead light will be installed.

Alright onto the Sunday fun...
I spent five hours on Sunday re-creating an idea we found in Food Network Magazine- dessert made to look like sushi. Yes five hours is a long time to work on any dessert, but I was making it up as I went along so it took sometime to create. I think if I ever did it again that it would go a bit quicker.

How'd I do it? I started my morning at the grocery store bulk candy aisle to find candy that would look good inside my sushi. I selected:
-Multiple colors of salt water taffy
-Dark purple taffy strips
-Chocolate Twizzlers
-Dried Apricots
-Dried Cranberries

I also picked up Rice Krispies and marshmallows so I could created the "rice" to wrap all the sweets with! When I started to chop and mix everything together I came out with quite a good looking dessert, but at a quick glance it looks like traditional sushi.

Pretty good right? I even made 'ginger' and 'wasabi'!

So now you're wondering if she spent five hours on dessert she must have some people to share it with, right? You would be correct. It was an Asian themed dinner at my friend Brenda's where we started the evening my learning to prepare some Asian foods.

On The Menu:
-Thai Glazed Chicken Skewers
-Pork Dumplings
-Spring Rolls
-Chicken Pad Thai (unpictured)
-Edamame (unpictured)

To start Jon cooked up Thai Glazed Chicken Skewers:

While the boys were grilling, the girls were learning. Up first were dumplings created by Sabrina (left) and Brenda (right):

Then spring rolls made by Sabrina and myself:

Letting it all cook in the steamer or in a pan...

Dinner is served, I tried a little of everything...

'Sweet Sushi' was the dessert, and the perfect end to a great evening. We sat on the patio, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and sipped some Saki. A great evening with friends!

How was your weekend? Did you have fun?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Adventures in Canada...

Today Sabrina and I ventured across the border into Canada to do a little shopping. Our goal was to come back with some tasty treats and some new decorations for Sabrina's new place!

We plotted our route based on three main attractions: Oakville Organic Farmers' Market, Whole Foods, and IKEA.

Farmers' Market
So you're wondering why I would drive two hours across the border to go to a farmer's market, when I live just a few miles from a few different markets? Well... Sabrina and I wanted to pick up some Glo Bars, and the only place to get those is through Angela at Oh She Glows. If you've never checked out her blog, I suggest you take a few minutes and head over to her site. Not only does she sell tasty Glo Bars, but she also posts about the meals she creates- which are very inspirational. Sabrina and I walked away with lots of great bars to snack on in the coming days- we're very excited!

Here we are (Sabrina, Angela, & Me):

(I borrowed her photo since I didn't take a photo myself- hope it's okay!)

Whole Foods

Our next adventure was at Whole Foods in Oakville, Ontario. It was Sabrina's first experience at Whole Foods, which is always fun. It is considered to be a pricier store, but they have such interesting stuff I always leave with some fun new items that I probably wouldn't find at my normal grocery store.

My fun new products included:
-Roasted Garlic Oil with Garlic Scapes
-Crofter's Super fruit Spread with Black Currants, Pomegranates, Cherries and Grapes
-Peanut Butter & Co.- The Heat is On which is peanut butter with chili powder, cayenne peppers, crushed red pepper and paprika
-CoCo Mia's Dark Chocolate Crunch which is Belgian dark chocolate with buttery toffee and pecans
-Loaf of Seedduction Bread (unpictured)

Matt is already thoroughly enjoying the spicy peanut butter on slices of seedduction bread, but I do have plans possible to use it as a spicy Thai peanut sauce. Well I guess I'll play with it when the time comes. I'm also hoping to be able to re-create the mixture with the Vitamix.

After all that shopping we decided to try out Whole Foods prepared foods and made ourselves little tastings, which fueled us up for more shopping.

My choices:

(I got the tortilla, but end up only eating a quarter it.)

Sabrina's choices:

Lastly we hit up IKEA. If you've ever been there, you know it's a couple hours of browsing and shopping- it's a fun time especially on a rainy Saturday. I only picked up a kitchen timer, bag clips, three white pots (that were on clearance!), and some wall hooks that fold up when not in use.

We had a pretty great girls day in Canada. I very happy with all the things I picked up, and I think Sabrina is too!

Alright, off to make sure my hard working husband gets fed. Tomorrow I'll show you what Matt got done in the kitchen today- it's very exciting!

I'm in love....

Okay well you already know I'm in love with my awesome hubby, but yesterday I fell in love with our new counter tops. Here is a serious of pictures to show you just why I love it.

Our original kitchen with cute wallpaper :(

Now with the new cabinets installed:

And my new found love:

Is it not beautiful? And the fabricators even made us a cutting board out of the piece that was removed for the sink to go it, it will be a great little addition.

Alright well I'm off to get ready to go on a Canadian adventure with Sabrina. Don't worry though there will be more kitchen update later because Matt plans to stay home and get some work done.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Running and fungus?...

No, i don't have athlete foot!

Good News! I've been running again! I've done it about twice a week over the last two weeks and it feels good to be back out there. Luckily I've had Sabrina to run with, but tonight I was alone because she had other obligations. It was a good run, but it was a bit hard to keep it going. Maybe I should reconsider having music on a run?


Tonight's dinner creation centered around nice big portabello mushrooms (hence the fungus part), which I wasn't sure about at first but it turned out really good. Don't get me wrong I like mushrooms, but these things are pretty huge so I was worried.

I baked them in the toaster oven with sun dried tomato pesto, flipping half-way through, then topped it with a slice of provolone. I served it on toasted Italian bread because I had it in the house and served it with a side of black bean tabbouleh. Another vegetarian meal from my kitchen- I don't know why I keep leaning that way, I guess it is just quicker.

In other news....
Our counter top and sink our coming tomorrow!!!! I'm so excited, I don't think I can even explain. We've (read:Matt) has been doing little things in the kitchen each night, but once the counter is in we will have lots to accomplish.

Upcoming Tasks include:
-Plumbing for the sink
-Installing the Butcher Block counter top
-Adding door/drawer pulls
-Adding all the lighting fixtures
-Installing Outlet covers
-Tiling the back splash

And I'm sure many other little things I can't even think of right now. We're sooo close I can smell yummy cookies and cakes in the oven- we just need to finish it up! Taking orders! :)

Your Thoughts Do you run with music? What's you favorite thing to listen to?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What ya eatin'?

I am still over here, but I've been busy and don't seem to get to posting everyday. However each night we still take pictures of what we're eating. So here's what we've been doing with just a toaster over and microwave (note:kitchen remodel is still in process).

Monday: Buffalo Pasta

In need of a quick meal, I combined a serving of whole wheat pasta with chopped black bean burger, hot sauce, and a tablespoon of blue cheese. It was served with a spinach salad- yummy!

Tuesday: Taco Bar with Tilapia

All the fixins spread out- onion, shredded cabbage, cilantro, tomatoes, cheese, and tilapia. (sorry I can't seem to flip the picture)

The tilapia was prepared with a combination of bread crumbs and taco seasoning- then baked in the toaster oven. All the ingredients were combined on a whole wheat tortilla!

Put it all together and you get this! Side dishes were blue corn chips with guacamole and coleslaw. Matt was lovin' it!

Wednesday: Lasagna Toasts

These tasty treats were created by spreading a ricotta mixture on toasted slices of Italian bread, add a mixture of tomato/spinach/garlic, and topping with a little shredded mozzarella. Absolutely delightful!

If don't want to turn on the stove during the hot days of summer all these meals can easily be prepared by using your microwave and toaster oven. Our kitchen will hopefully be nearing completion in the next two weeks, but until then I have to continue to be creative.

I'm not sure what tomorrow brings but stayed tuned and you'll find out!