Monday, July 25, 2011

Multitude Monday, Week XVIII

201. the realization that "God is in control" of every decision we think we make
202. having a patient realtor
203. being accepted by several Sunday school classes
204. several Sunday school classes to choose from
205. answered prayers (after years of praying)
206. reconnecting with old friends
207. the ability to go on this upcoming adventure with close buddies
208. Ghiradelli chocolate brownies
209. ice cold water in 104-F heat
210. God blessing our friends with healthy births and newborns

Sunday, July 10, 2011

PacNW 2011

Quinault Rainforest, Olympic NP WA

In just over two weeks I will be heading to Seattle to do a little cruisin' & campin' with a few of my best girl friends. Let me start by saying that I absolutely loved the Pacific Northwest and would move there in a heartbeat if it weren't for close friend/family ties to Southeastern USA. Perhaps I am partial; it was the first big adventure to be had with my then-just boyfriend, and it was while in the magic and romance of Olympic National Park that my then-just boyfriend became my soon-to-be husband. I love this place, and I am so excited to share in a new adventure with my best friend and two girls I have known since fourth grade.

While the itinerary requires a tad bit more polishing, I wanted to review the plan and projected costs like I did for our National Park Tour 2011, so then I can later do a post-trip analysis.


Day 0, July 26 -- CLT→SEA (for me); TPA→SEA (for A.); TLH→SEA (for J.)
Day 1, July 27 -- Seattle WA→Snoqualmie Falls→Mt. Rainier NP WA
Day 2, July 28 -- Mt. Rainier NP→White Salmon River WA→Portland OR→Cape Lookout SP OR
Day 3, July 29 -- Cape Lookout→[...]→Kalaloch Beach, Olympic NP WA
Day 4, July 30 -- Kalaloch→[...]→Seattle
Day 5, July 31 -- Seattle→Moran SP, Orcas Island WA
Day 6, August 1 -- Orcas Island→N. Cascades NP→Lake Wenatchee SP, Leavenworth WA
Day 7, August 2 -- Leavenworth WA→Seattle
Day 8, August 3 -- Return home to our respective living places

Approximate Costs (for one person)
- Airfare: $247.30
- Car Rental: $0 (our other friend, J2., will be letting us borrow hers!)
- Lodging: $42.33 ($127.00 is the total for camping reservations, to be split between three or four people; I went with three people.)
- Fuel: $75.00 (based on approx. 1400 miles of travel @ 25mpg -- J2.'s car likely gets more -- for $4.00/gal. divided by three people)
- Food: $150 (budgeting $20/day)
- Activites: $172 (this includes a 4hr white water rafting trip down class III/IV rapids, a 3hr whale watching tour, a few museum admissions, and two ferry rides)
--TOTAL: $689.63

With the last itinerary I posted, I forgot to include a Google map -- silly me! Here you are:

View Larger Map

Lastly, photographs of just one day from PacNW 2009:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Recipe: Sundried Tomato Spinach & Avocado Paninis

My bff K. gifted me with a magazine subscription to Vegetarian Times for my birthday, and after a few address issues, I received my first copy over a month ago. There was an entire section devoted to paninis. I love paninis (coworkers at my old workplace dubbed me the "Panini Queen" after a summer filled with paninis for lunch), so the same day that I received the magazine, I went to the grocery store and bought all of the important ingredients to this delicious flattened sandwich.

Sundried Tomato Spinach & Avocado Panini


- ciabatta bread (Publix bakery has loaves of these, which you can ask them to slice for you; or you can buy the small individual square rolls - either works! Just remember, there aren't an preservatives in the bread, so you will want to use ASAP to avoid molding)
- smoked sun-dried tomato, julienned cut (I found these in the produce section, in the package, not the jar; you might have to ask - sometimes they can be sneakily hid)
- baby spinach
- avocado (the hass avocados have been super expensive lately, so I substituted with Wholly Guacemole)
- thinly sliced red onion


- Spray one side of each slice of bread with Pan
- Either slice the avocado and place on bread or apply guac liberally
- Add about 10 sun-dried tomatoes (more or less, these have a great flavor)
- Top with as much spinach as you can pack onto the sandwich & add red onion
- Over medium heat, grill the sandwiches for about 3-4min on each side. {Place a heavy saucepan on top of the sandwich and add about 2 cans of food on top of that, for more weight - this helps flatten the sandwich.}
- Serve immediately and enjoy with fruit!

Confession: I have already made these several times, once on vacation. They were a hit!

30-Day Challenge Update II

Though late, here is an update!

30-Day Challenge Official Food List

- chickpeas (2 cans)
- vegetable broth (2 can)
- refried beans (1 can)
- black-eyed peas (1 can)
- sweet corn (1 can)
- baked beans (humungo can)
- jasmine rice (1 large bag)
- light red kidney beans (bag - 16oz)
- white albacore tuna (3 cans)
- pasta sauce (2 jars) (1 jar)
- orzo (1 lb)
- spanish flavor boxed rice (2 boxes)
- tomato sauce (8 cans, size 8oz) (4 cans)
- corn muffin boxed mix (1 box)
- flame roasted peppers (used, approx. 4oz)
- diced jalapeno peppers (used, approx. 9oz)
- buffalo wing sauce (used, approx. 14oz)
- Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (used, approx. 12oz)
- SBR's Hickory Brown Sugar (used, approx 9oz)
- SBR's Hickory Brown Sugar (18oz)
- Texas toast (6 slices) (3 slices)
- chicken tenderloins (6 pieces)
- chicken tenderloins (full bag, 32oz)
- salmon (1 fillet)
- green peas (18oz bag)
- cut broccoli (16oz bag)
- Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamer (1 bag)
- peaches (29oz can)
- fruit cocktail (15oz can)

Meal Breakdown
A. Using the last can of vegetable broth (and some newly purchased orzo), my husband made some more of the basil-parmesan orzo. This stuff was even better the second time around, and if you guys are interested in the recipe let me know. The orzo accompanied some fresh salmon and the whole meal was the yums.

B. Using the refried beans, sweet corn, black-eyed peas, and last box of spanish flavor boxed rice we had a great [vegetarian] burrito night a few weeks ago, which replaced our typical Moe's Monday venture (saving us about $15 we would have normally spent).

C. The white-albacore tuna has been supposedly consumed by my husband during work lunches. I say supposedly only because sometimes he's out of his "tuna sandwich" mood; whatever, it's out of our pantry and may or may not have been in his belly.

D. The rest of the chicken tenderloins were used one night along with the buffalo wing sauce to make Crockpot buffalo chicken sandwiches (to diiiiieee for).

E. The hotness of the above meal is too much for JP's delicate tongue, so the same night he cooked up the last salmon fillet (also using some pesto that we have way too much of).

F. The two cans of chickpeas were used as a substitute for our homemade falafels -- sounds funny because they traditionally made using chickpeas, but my recipe uses pinto beans which are more pliable for the patties.

G. The Thursday before we left for vacation, I made a special meal of Chicken Parmesan. My brother ended up hanging out with a friend while we ate dinner, so it was nice to spend time alone together on our porch enjoying one another, the food, and a glass of wine. To aid in the making of the sauce, I used two cans of tomato sauce.

H. Tonight I am making mashed potatoes with grilled chicken to use up the last of the SBR's Hickory Brown Sugar BBQ sauce. To accompany our meal, we will finally be eating the bag of cut broccoli. This meal is also fun because JP gets to use his early-birthday-gift grill!

I know I should have taken before photos, but this is what our pantry was looking like as of June 29th, prior to cooking the Chicken Parm:

last of the Great Value Lemonade used; two of those cans of tomato sauce + crushed tomatoes used; spaghetti used; dried cranberries & blueberries + rolled oats used for homemade granola bars; andddd I totally caved and bought Near East boxes of couscous to be used later -- they were B1G1 @ Publix!

All in all, I think we're doing great. I am just 3 days away from the end of our 30-Day Challenge, so I would say this was a success considering we pretty much emptied our pantry, and aside from the one sad bag of peas (which I plan to make soup out of this week), we completely devoured our frozen foods.

I have plans for using a large portion of our pesto reserve (again, not mentioned on the original 30-Day List) with a great recipe my best friend K forwarded me today. I will share that this week. Otherwise, I plan to make a meal out of the leftover pasta sauce and Texas toast. I think I will have to hang onto the cans of tomato sauce past this week, and the large bag of jasmine rice is here to stay for now. We'll eat up the Green Valley Steamer this week as a side item to one of our meals, and perhaps the fruit cocktail can will be a small dessert for us.

Have you made use of the food that has been sitting in your pantry for months?

P.S. This is the big Southern meal we had with friends a few weeks ago:

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Pet

This cat lives under the house and we like him. He looks like a skinny version of Rosie, and my brother named him Felix.
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Way down upon the Suwanee River...

So I'm updating from my phone while driving to Alabama, which is kind of weird. I feel Run and his bathtub, but not as enlightening.

Something I quickly discovered upon embarking on this trip is that driving can be quite boring, especially in the SE and especially on I-20. JP worked all day, and though I stayed busy with an exam, homework, grocery shopping for my brother and packing the car, I felt obliged to drive for at least the first part of the trip.

Talk about a snoozefest.

After learning on NPR that someone recently discovered Neptune's days are shorter, hearing all of JP's work stories, calling both of our parents, and listening to indie music, I begged my husband for a better source of entertainment.

Did you ever have car games as a kid? We didn't. I read books and my brother played video games or annoyed me (usually the latter). So we settled on 20 Questions, and let me tell you that game is hard. Then we changed it to 10 Questions - People We Know. Still challenging but more fun, this went on until dinner. After filling our bellies with Chick-fil-A, we switched seats and I caught up on my Mormon mommy blogs. I tried reading for school but that is also boring. Then I remembered!

Years ago, before we were even dating and Jonathan was checking out SC as his new possible home, a Harry Potter book came out. JP was driving his beloved Honda Civic Hatchback (read: manual drive; read: I cannot drive) and requested me to read the book aloud. I had not done such a thing since kindergarten but felt, like today, obliged to fulfill his wishes. For hours, I read. I read so long my mouth was dry and my throat hurt. Five years later, it's an extremely fond memory I have of our friendship.

Feeling nostalgic as the passenger-wife, I picked up a book from the floorboard -- Fifty Best American Short Stories. I'm a sucker for short stories, and even more so for 20th century American writers, so I asked my husband to turn off his Tegan & Sara song so I could read.

I quickly scanned the Table of Contents and picked out a favorite, Mr. Bradbury. Such an imaginative, thought provoking writer, he is wise beyond the times, even now. With a Southern lilt to my voice -- we are going to Alabama, afterall -- I read "The Other Foot," and decided this is going to be a great vacation.
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