Loving. Learning. Engineering. Life.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Moving, Spiders & A Vacation Review

Ever since the week started, with moving and work constantly on my mind, I have not felt very grounded.   Tonight is our last night in the apartment.  It's a bittersweet feeling, really.  I'm saying "goodbye" to the apartment where I learned to be an independent woman...I payed all my own bills, cleaned and cooked for myself everyday, used my tools on a few DIYs and even killed a few spiders!  On the other hand, I'm saying "hello" to a new home that I can build with my hunnie, where we will share the responsibilities, cook together and enjoy meals in our backyard, and maybe even save a few spiders.  (What can I say, my hunnie has a bleeding heart for even the smallest of creatures.)  Spiders and change...they're not all that different when you really think about it.  At first encounter they are really scary and make your stomach tie up in knots.  But the more you encounter change (or spiders) the less afraid you are.  As with spiders, you may never learn to love change, but you will learn to accept that its a part of life.   

I leave you with a review of our recent trip to California.  Can't believe that was already two weeks ago!  Highlights included: wine tasting, beach going, seagull chasing, cookie baking, gold panning, and of course, family time.  Oh, and can't forget country western dancing with my sister and her beau!  Such great memories, and so many more to come in our cute little house with the blue trim. 

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

When I was a young undergrad student, the thought of cooking chicken not only grossed me out, but seemed like such a taxing, scary event.  Always in fear that I'd under cook it (or dry it out), I left the chicken cooking to my sister.  Moving away from my dear sister has been the catalyst for teaching myself to not fear raw chicken.  Over the past year, I've braved my way through cooking many a plate of pan fried, BBQ grilled, and sauteed fajita-style chicken.  Recently I decided to embark on this challenge: chicken...in an enchilada.  I have made some mighty tasty vegetarian enchiladas over the years, but this would be the first such attempt at using meat...let alone SHREDDED chicken.  Who knew you could boil chicken for 30 minutes and poof...shredded chicken!  Now don't be a chicken and get in that kitchen...you've got some poultry to cook.           
Note:  Although this recipe calls for 2 chicken breasts, I ended up only shredding one (as they were large breasts from Costco).  I froze the 2nd breast after boiling and letting cool, and will defrost it next week for salad or pasta.

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
4 oz can diced green chiles
8.5 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
10 oz can green chile enchilada sauce
3/4 cup salsa verde
1 tablespoon corn oil + extra for pan
12 corn tortillas

3/4-1 cup shredded chedder and/or monterey jack cheese
Place chicken breasts in pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Then lower heat and let simmer for 25-30 minutes.  Remove chicken from pot and place on cutting board to cool, being sure to reserve broth in pot.  Once chicken is cool, use a fork and tongs to shred it.  In a saute pan, warm oil.  Add in chicken, onion, green chiles and 1/4 cup of chicken broth, and cook on low for about 5 minutes.  Add corn and bell pepper to pan, stir on low for 1 minute, then remove from heat. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wrap tortillas in damp cloth and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  In rectangular glass pan, drizzel oil and enchilada sauce (just enough to coat bottom of pan).  Place tortilla in pan, scoop shredded chicken mixture down center of tortilla, wrap and flip over so that the edges of the tortilla are facing downward.  Repeat until pan is full.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce and salsa verde over enchiladas, and sprinkle cheese on top.  (Note: I had a little bit of shredded chicken mixture left in the end so I sprinkled it over the top of the enchiladas)  Cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes.  Then remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes to crisp the edges.   

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Monday, June 25, 2012

50-day Fitness Challenge {Week 4}

It can be tough getting back into the swing of things after a vacation, but with the 50-day Fitness Challenge I not only stayed focused while in California but also maintained my momentum upon returning to the scorching desert. I racked up 15+ miles in SpinCore this week, and my hunnie and I enjoyed a 5 mile trek (and a very pink sunset) on Friday.  Sadly, I have yet to make HABIT a habit, as a business lunch Friday interefered.  I finished off the week with a morning run Sunday. 

Here's the breakdown of Week 4:
  • 3 outdoor workouts
  • Ran 7 miles
  • 1 spinning class
Week 5 will be challenging.  With this coming Saturday/Sunday being the "official" moving weekend, I will have to get the majority of my workouts in during the work week, in addition to rooting for the university baseball team in the CWS...oh yea, and packing for the move.  I'm sure you're noticing my current workout plan for Week 5 only includes 2 outdoor workouts. But the way I see it, the heavy lifting we'll be doing this coming weekend counts as an outdoor workout in itself. Fingures crossed that me and the Wildcats can keep their momemtum up this week.  Here is the training plan for Week 5:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
3.5 mi Run SpinCore Group Strength 6.5 mi Run* Rest 4 mi Run* Rest
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Move It or Lose It

We're back from vacation, and in addition to work and the 50-day Fitness Challenge, my hunnie and I now have the added task of moving!  We recently signed the lease for our new place...a cute little house with light blue trim and a big backyard.  This is going to be a significant space upgrade (from 700 sq. ft. to over 1200 sq. ft).  I'm a planner, and I want to get a head start on the moving process.  I thought I'd share my To-Do checklist...well, more like To-Do guidelines, for a smooth move:
Sort & Donate
We sorted (and admittedly continue to sort) through our clothes (& my shoes) selecting any items we don't like, don't fit, are faded or stretched out, or we simply just don't wear.  These are being donated locally. 
Trendier or unique items will be sold at the consignment store, while books that we won’t read again will be traded into the local used book store.  We will also drop off some cables, batteries, etc. to the electronics recycling center.
Use or Eat
Over the next couple weeks we will arrange our meals around what we have in the freezer and pantry.  The less food we have to move, the easier.  
Early Packing
We've already started packing, focusing on the clothes/books/kitchenware we don't use frequently.
We've made a few drives through our new neighborhood, in search of the nearest grocery, bank, coffee shop, restaurants, and running trails.
Sales & Thrifting
Since our next place is much bigger than the last, there will be a few items we need to purchase.  We are on a mission to find a few key items at thrift stores, estate sales, or locally.  We've already snagged a rustic antique cabinet from a yard sale for $45.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

50-day Fitness Challenge {Week 3}

After having a less than perfect Week 2 of the 50-day Fitness Challenge, I was extra motivated to workout in Week 3.  To make up for missing my one day's workout in Week 2, I started Week 3 with a 3 mile run on Monday, despite it being designated  a "Rest Day".  I also made it to two group fitness workouts, both of which were a great change from my running routine.  The SpinCore class was part spinning, part cleanse...I'm pretty sure I sweat out all the toxins in my body during that class.  I've stayed on track while on vacation, even enjoying an early morning run through my hometown.

Here's the breakdown of Week 3:
  • 3 outdoor workouts
  • Ran 9.25 miles
  • 1 spinning class, 1 weights/strength class
Week 4 will start off with some fun workouts, including beach football.  Alas, vacation doesn't last forever, so the later part of Week 4 will look a lot like Week 3's workouts.  Although Sunday is a Rest Day, my hunnie and I will be packing for our upcoming move (more on that to come later) so there will be some lifting and stair climbing to keep us active.  Here is the plan for Week 4:
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Beach Football* 2 mi Hike* Rest SpinCore HABIT 6 mi Run* Rest

My sister, hunnie, and I are off to the foothills for a different kind of workout today....Gold Panning! Pin It

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Patriotic Patio Oasis

Happy Flag Day everyone! My hunnie and I are getting ready for our trip to California.  When we go, I hope to get a red,white and blue windsock from my favorite little shop along the Bodega coast.  I can remember many a evening watching my parents' Old Glory windsock blowing in the Summer breeze on their patio, and I look forward to continuing the tradition on our patio.  Although it is pretty tiny, our patio is easily one of my favorite places to be.  What started out as 40 square feet of shaded, unused space has turned into a pretty patio garden.  Today I wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to our oasis on the third floor.  While there was a time in our patio's past that flowers and basil grew in pots on our thrifted table, at this moment all that survives are my cherished succulents.    

One of my favorite things about the patio is its homemade touches.  My hunnie made an oil lamp out of an empty liquor bottle (this is our way of recycling) so that we would have some light for our late night grilling.  The vegetable label artwork is hand painted by yours truly in an attempt to bring more color to the patio, and the glass and wire hanging art is from one of the local street fairs.  In case you couldn't tell, I'm a patriotic gal, therefore you'll always find a flag on my porch.  Most importantly, to scare off any third floor patio intruders, we've got our Army men on patrol.  No matter how small our patio is, we've made it an oasis and enjoyed many cups of coffee and glasses of wine here together and with our friends and family.  All it needed was some personal touches to make the patio feel part of our home. Pin It

Monday, June 11, 2012

50-day Fitness Challenge {Week 2}

Well, I'm starting to realize that despite having a reasonable workout plan, my second week of the 50-day Fitness Challenge was as challenging to stick to as the first.  I had a serious case of the Mondays (on Monday)--I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open, let alone get my fitness on.  I also had to make a few adjustments to my Friday/weekend workouts, as the university's baseball team made it to the NCAA Super Regionals, and my hunnie and I had tickets for all the games.  While the plan did encounter a few snafus (I was unable to fit in workouts on 5 days), I did get 5 workouts in over 4 days in Week 2.  

Here's the breakdown of Week 2:
  • 3 outdoor workouts
  • Ran 13.5 miles
  • 1 Bikram Yoga class 
In Week 3, I hope to make it to a few group fitness classes at the university.  Despite heading off for vacation on Friday, my goal is to not get derailed from my workout routine.  This week I WILL exercise 5 out of 7 days.  Here is the training plan for Week 3:
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest SpinCore Group Strength 5 mi Run* Rest 4 mi Run* 3 mi Hike*

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

New Banana Bread

Growing up, we've always used the same banana bread recipe...the one from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, copyright c. late 70's.  That recipe has never steered us wrong.  With an overabundance of ripe bananas lately (the desert Spring will do that to 'em), I decided why not try something new rather than inundating my hunnie and my freezer with three loaves of the BHG's recipe.  Why not try a recipe with a few different ingredients to see how it compares to the one we know and love?  This recipe is loosely based on one from FamilyFun Magazine.  The result was a very moist, mildly sweet banana bread with a little earthiness from the oats.  Next time around, I will probably add a touch more baking powder, as the loaf had a bit of a flat top.  This recipe was worth making (and I will definitely make it again sometime), but BHG's still holds the number one place in my banana bread repertoire.

New Banana Bread
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease sides of a 5x9 loaf pan.  In a bowl combine flour, oats, soda, powder and salt.  In a second bowl mash bananas with a potato masher, and stir in yogurt.  In a third bowl (or your mixer bowl) cream together butter and sugar.  Mix in eggs, one at a time, to butter-sugar mixture.  Next, add vanilla to butter-sugar mixture and briefly blend.  Using a wooden spoon, stir approximately 1/3 of dry ingredients to butter-sugar mixture, combining thoroughly.  Then stir 1/3 of banana mixture to butter-sugar mixture, combining thoroughly.  Repeat, alternating between dry ingredients and banana mixture until all are thoroughly combined.  Scrape batter into loaf pan.  Bake until a toothpick poked into center of loaf comes out clean, approximately 1 hour.  Yields 1 loaf. Pin It

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Venus Transit

Tuesday's Venus Transit in front of the Sun was the highlight of my week.  Sure, I'm part of the Aerospace academic community, but an event like this, one that wont happen again for another 105 years, is pretty exciting no matter who you are.  The transit occurs when Venus aligns directly in front of the field of view of the Sun (with respect to the Earth).  In the early 18th Century, the Venus Transit was documented and used as a rudimentary way of estimating the distance from the Earth to the Sun.  I was able to witness the event at work, where some of my co-workers had set up telescopes with a variety of filters for safe viewing of the Sun.  I even had the opportunity to scope the Sun through a pair of binoculars that had visible light filters.  I feel pretty lucky to have been able to experience this event first-hand.  In case you missed it:

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Monday, June 4, 2012

50-day Fitness Challenge {Week 1}

The first 9 days of the 50-day Fitness Challenge are behind me.  My hunnie and I had a very successful mud run on Saturday, finishing fast enough to earn official race beer mugs.  Like a true military man, my hunnie wore his BMT boots while I did a final run in my favorite tennys (which I donated to the shoe collection after the race). 
But like drying mud, my fitness plan became trickier to maneuver over the next few days.  Does antiquing for a couple hours count as a workout?  The three day weekend may have thwarted some of my fitness plans, but by Tuesday I was back on track, and I managed to get a workout in everyday except yesterday, including a few outdoor workouts.  Here's the breakdown of Week 1:
  • 3 outdoor workouts
  • Ran 15.5 miles
I just signed up for the Summer group fitness pass at the university, so I'm planning on taking a few workout classes this week, starting with SpinCore on Tuesday.  Although its not on the training schedule, I'm hoping to fit in a Bikram Yoga class sometime this week as well.  Here's the training plan for Week 2 of the 50-Day Fitness Challenge:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
2 mi Run* 5 lap Swim/
Rest 6 mi Run* HABIT 3 mi Hike* Rest

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Friday, June 1, 2012

A-Mountain Hike & A Mountain of Salad

As my mother would say, "Nothing better than a long, torturous hike on a hot day."  The mercury reached a dry 103 yesterday, which, for me, meant filling up my Camelpak, slabbing on some sunscreen and hitting A-Mountain after work.  Circling up A-Mountain, I enjoyed 360 degree views of our bustling little desert town.  During my hike, I created a mental list of the groceries I had at home and how I could turn them into a fast and refreshing post-workout dinner.  Yes, it's true...I think about food when I'm working out.  This salad is the result of my mental indulgence, complete with greens from my hunnie's dad's garden and steak leftover from Memorial Day grilling.  It was easy and delicious (AND I enjoyed a buttery roll too)--exactly what I needed after a long workout and an even longer day at work.

Tangy Steak Salad
3 oz steak
2 cup mixed greens
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
8 grape tomatoes, halved
1/6 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
organic (no salt) seasoning, dash

Toss ingredients together and enjoy!

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