Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays - Episode 7

No major update this week, except for what's immediately to the right! Yeah, that's right, we officially have the church and the reception venue reserved and have a date!

On May 1, 2010, I will be marrying the love of my life!

It's like the planning can officially begin now!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Memorial Day! Hope all of my readers in the States are enjoying their day off and remembering our armed forces! This week we will for sure be having 1 house guest (possibly more) and a few planned events, so I don't think we'll be doing a whole lot of complex cooking. As always, check out Org Junkie's website for more menu-planners!

Monday: Dinner out with a friend!

Tuesday (class night): Dinner out for a friend's birthday

Wednesday: Zucchini Cakes and Tomato, Herb and Cheese Tart

I have a school event that will include food of some sort; Matt and our house guest will probably grab something out!

Friday: Grilling - steaks/hotdogs/veggie burgers, green salad and fruit

Black Bean and Couscous Salad and some roasted veggies


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Barbecue Recipes

It's Memorial Day, and besides remembering our Armed Forces, the one thing that always happens is barbecuing! I love a good barbecue - slices of pineapple, green pepper, and veggie burgers are delicious. One of my other favorite things, though, is making a hot veggie side dish - and why use a pan when you've got the grill? I used to do this all the time at scouting camp in the summers over open fires, and it works just as well on the barbecue

Chop up a bunch of veggies and put them in foil with olive oil and seasonings.

For today's veggies, I'm using a zucchini, half an onion, and a few baby red potatoes cut into bite size pieces. In the past I've used squash, carrots, tomatoes, and fennel. Today's seasonings are salt, lemon pepper, and thyme - other spices I recommend are red pepper flakes, rosemary, or fresh lemon and lime juice.

Make the foil into a pouch of sorts, and but it on the barbecue!

Why dirty a pan when you've already got the grill going? The worst thing when barbecuing is having to worry about something cooking somewhere else. It usually takes a half hour to cook, flipping once halfway through. Potatoes might need a little bit more time to cook.

Yum! Enjoy!

Running Club Membership

I finally got my shirt!

The Flying Irish running club that I've been frequenting on Thursday nights has a little tradition - after 6 runs, you're "official"and you get your club shirt, but you have to get up on a bar and tell an Irish joke first.

So Thursday, after a run around downtown Spokane in the beautiful sunshine, I hiked my running skirt up and climbed on the bar to tell my joke. Some guy in the bar that wasn't part of the club was trying to watch the hockey game and alternated between yelling "Nice ass!" and "I can't see the hockey game!", but otherwise it went off without a hitch!

The punchline? "It was a SHAM ROCK!"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Project 16 - Finally Done!

Our balcony has been finished and usable for a little while now, but because of epic blogging failure - basically, my camera and camera cord never being in the same place at once - I've been unable to show you! Eventually, I'd like to have lanterns going across the entire thing, but that'll take 3 more strands (or $30). So for now, this is how we enjoy the outdoors and the comforts of home at the same time!

The right side, complete with plants and paper lanterns!

The left side, a.k.a. Barbecue Central.

Outdoor furniture, and a bamboo placemat for a little extra color.

My favorite little detail - nails for hanging barbecue tools next to the barbecue!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays - Episode 6

Dear Facebook,

Please stop torturing me with your ridiculous ads geared towards future brides. I understand that your marketing materials key off of profile characteristics, but it seems like the only thing that you find interesting enough to market to on my profile is the fact that I am engaged. And I do not like it.

For example, here are the three ads I was presented with when opening my profile to play my next move in Lexulous:

How do diet plans for brides differ from diet plans for everyone else?

Sure, being a thin bride would be nice, but I'd rather be a healthy bride. Either way, I don't need FACEBOOK to tell me about it.

If my dress doesn't fit, it's because I bought the wrong size. Not because I didn't listen to the Diet Plan for Brides. A-holes.

And finally, Facebook, if you are going to try and mix it up, I suggest you do it by NOT assuming that the next thing I'm doing in my life besides getting skinny for a wedding dress is popping out babies.
Hopefully we'll come to some sort of agreement on this soon. Otherwise, this Bridezilla might have a few tricks in her garter.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I just got back from a run after eating a huge dinner of wine and veggie burgers, and the last thing I want to think about right now is food! But it's Sunday night, and that means menu planning time. Gotta keep with the tradition! Since the last few weeks have been relatively light on the cooking/baking side, I'm going to try a few new things this time around. For more menu planners, check out Org Junkie's website!

Monday: Tofu, Tempeh and Butternut Squash from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen

Quick curry with tofu and veggies using this stuff (it's my favorite!):
Wendesday: Some sort of casserole with cheese and rice or noodles... undecided as of yet! But I'll be honest, this one from Tina at Carrots N Cake caught my eye and is in the lead!

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner - we got some delicious pancake mix as part of a gift basket, so a dinner based around pancakes is definitely in order!

Zucchini Lasagna

Dinner out somewhere around town.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Busy Saturday!

It's a little before 11am, and I've had quite the Saturday so far! I started my day off bright and early, reading the introduction of Naturally Thin with a cup of tea in the sunshine. It's a beautiful day in Spokane!

Next up, I visited the Spokane Farmers Market - I missed opening weekend last week, so I wanted to be sure to make it this time. Although the produce is a little sparse so far, there were still tons of people out and about! I bought a loaf of asiago garlic bread and two bell pepper plants to add to my balcony garden.

After the Farmers Market, it was time for yoga! Jillian Michaels has been pretty brutal to me the last few days, and some good stretching is just what I needed. The 75 minute class was a little long - I definitely struggled more this week than usual - but I left feeling good and energized. On the way home, a quick stop for a breakfast bagel was in order - it wen nicely with my second cup of tea for the day!

Now it's time for a shower, and then to head out to start the rest of the day! Matt's still asleep, but I'm going to try and talk him into some tennis later today at a local park. Lilac Festival Parade is also this evening, and tons of people already have their chairs set up downtown for the occasion, so we'll have to jockey for seats pretty soon! There's also a community-wide open house of all the community gardens in Spokane today, so I want to check out the one closest to me and see what it takes to get/keep a plot!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lessons from the First 2 Days of 30 Day Shred

I started Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred DVD on Wednesday - obviously, I was totally inspired by the season finale of Biggest Loser Couples (Team Tara, but still super impressed by Helen!). A lot of bloggers have written about this workout DVD, most singing the praises of Jillian's methods, so I think I'll give you my impressions after 2 days in a "lessons learned" format.

Day 1: PUT THOSE 10 POUND WEIGHTS DOWN. Lesson learned immediately upon starting the workout - if Jillian Michaels is using 1 or 2 pound weights, you should, too. Or at least not 10 pound ones. I thought my arms were going to break off after circuit one. Jillian is pretty bad-ass, and I certainly am not, so following her lead on this one from the start would have been a good idea.

Day 2: DO NOT SHRED IMMEDIATELY BEFORE A 5 MILE RUN. I decided Day 2 of shredding should take place about 20 minutes before Flying Irish - so I went from shredding to running a (relatively) long run in the span of 5 minutes. BAD idea.

Overall, I like the program so far. I hate lifting, though, so I'm not sure how motivated I'm going to be to do it for 30 solid days. We'll give it a shot, though, and maybe I'll get a 6 pack of the deal!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My one junk food craving

I'm a pretty healthy eater. I get lots of fruits and veggies in my diet, and am pretty good at balancing things out. I also don't particularly care for most snacks. But last night, as I was going through the grocery store to pick up a few items for dinners this week and next (cans of tomatoes, milk, etc), I saw my arch nemesis on sale:

Pre-jarred salsa con queso.

This stuff is HORRIBLE for you, but it's just soooooo goooooood. I bet half of the jar is gone by now, and Matt didn't even have any! I'll put it on everything - crackers, tortilla chips, veggies, rice. It's ridiculous how little self control I have when there's a jar of this stuff in my pantry or fridge.

What's your junk food weakness?

Wedding Wednesdays (a day late) - Episode 5

This weekend, I conducted my first official duty as a bride - searching high and low for a venue suitable for our wedding and reception. I wouldn't necessarily say that we were successful - we saw a lot of places and heard a lot of information from a lot of very knowledgeable people. If anything, we decided what we don't want - which certainly helps with planning, but means we don't have a location or a date! As Liz Lemon would say, "NARDS".

First up - McMenamins Grand Lodge. At about half an hour west of Portland, this little historical resort would make the wedding into a "destination wedding" of sorts, which sounded fun. And some of the outdoor spaces were SUPER cute.

This ivy-covered stairway could be decorated with colorful flowers and make the perfect backdrop to the actual ceremony.

This outdoor space has a wood-burning fireplace and a wooden "ceiling" that would be perfect for decorating with lights, flowers, and pieces of flowing fabric. (And that's my dad in the picture!)

Unfortunately, the indoor spaces were not nearly as cute as the outdoor spaces, and the outdoor spaces are not available for booking until after June 1st. June 1st, I've learned, is what marks the beginning of "prime wedding season", or when every vendor knocks their prices up a few thousand dollars. And honestly, I don't really want to wait until June 1st. Matt and I have already been dating for 3 and 1/2 years - I want to get this knot tied!

Second stop - Elk Cove Vineyards. This simple, classic little winery is "out in the boonies" (as my dad said), but had some awesome features that I'll highlight below.

First things first, this is the view from the event hall. Imagine how gorgeous this is when the grapes are in full bloom!

Other than the scenery, the thing that I liked the most about Elk Cove was how much of a blank space it is. The fixtures and walls are white, the tables and chairs are simple, and the bar area is one of the plainest I've seen. Not good if this is where you live full time - FANTASTIC if you want to decorate it with your flowers/colors/whatever for a wedding! See what I mean:

The possibilities are endless with this space!

In the end, we decided that this would be a great place for an early Fall wedding, when the grape plants are changing colors and the weather is still nice enough to be able to enjoy the outdoors. We, however, are not going to be ready for an early Fall wedding - that's less than 6 months away!

So we trekked on to our third stop - Garden Vineyards Winery. I cannot talk up how beautiful this place is - if it were open to the public, I'd say you absolutely HAVE to go see it. This is one of the most picturesque places I've ever been in the Northwest, and the Italian Villa on site adds so much class to the ambiance it's ridiculous. Of course, this is the place that I forgot to bring my camera in to, so I have zero pictures. But take my word for it (or check out this couple's wedding write-up from Portland Bride & Groom) - to die for!

Fourth and final stop - McMenamin's Edgefield Hotel. Another historic McMenamin's property, and another place with great outdoor areas. We visited this place on Mother's Day, so Blackberry Hall was packed full of people enjoying brunch - not super conducive to getting the creative juices flowing, but whatever. The outdoor area (Blackberry Field, I think it was called) was immediately out the back of the hall.

This space isn't available until after June 1st (again! *sigh*), but apparently it's in full bloom at that time. This field comfortably seats 250-300 people.

The trees here are most commonly used as the backdrop for the ceremony, according to our guide. In late spring/summer, there are white flowers that bloom on them, making them really gorgeous.

In all, we saw a lot of places and met a lot of people, and learned quite a bit about Portland weddings and OUR wedding in the process. I highly recommend checking out all of these places if you're ever planning a wedding in the Portland area. And of course, I'll keep y'all posted when we do decide on something!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Project 16 Update

I wrote a little while ago about how I want to make my balcony more "user friendly", and then totally left you guys hanging! Oops! I have made some progress, by acquiring some pieces that I think will help liven the place up and provide a better atmosphere for chilling on the balcony. BUT the weather has been super lame, and I haven't wanted to spend much time out there recently. Here's a sneak preview at the revamp of the balcony that is currently in progress.

Step 1: Acquire outdoor furniture.

These bad-boys were on sale at Target for a really reasonable price, and will hopefully be pretty durable. Well, anything's more durable than the old office chair that's been sitting out here for a year!

Step 2: Acquire decorative lighting.

The only lighting on the balcony at the moment is a set of really harsh outdoor lights that blind people more than anything. Channeling the paper lantern ambiance from the picture in my original post, I picked up these guys for $10 at Target. Now I just need an outdoor extension cord and some pretty paper lantern light will be mine!

Step 3: Set the mood.

This cute candle holder was at Cost Plus (or World Market or whatever you want to call it) for $10. There are already several hooks installed on the ceiling of the balcony, and one happens to be right above the table. Consider this my outdoor chandelier!

Step 4: Allow for growth.

No balcony is complete without foliage, and my plants are getting so huge! No flowers yet, but four baskets full of leafy green vegetation brighten up any outdoor living space.

The total for this project so far has stayed under $50, and the space is going to be much prettier and more usable! Check back later this week when everything's put together.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday is actually happening ON Monday this week for me. Shocking, I know! I'll be perfectly honest about last week or the week before - I basically didn't make any of the recipes I listed! So we'll try this again, and hopefully I'll be a little more dedicated to what I actually list out. :) As always, check out Org Junkie's website for more menu plans!

Monday: Alphabet soup from a local packager

Tuesday (class night):
This is going to be a late one, so probably (gasp) fast food of some sort. *sigh* I know, I know.

Curried Cauliflower with Black Beans from FatFree Vegan, served over brown rice.

Easy Polenta with Tomato Sauce and some veggies on the side

Quinoa and Black Beans, and maybe some grilled steak/veggie burgers/veggies.

Something delicious that Matt wants.

Leftovers! Because no one should have to cook on Sundays. :)

I'm back!

I survived the weeekend in Portland! We made it back last night, after enjoying an absolutely gorgeous weekend in a usually rainy city (at least during this time of the year!). We visited 3 churches, 3 ballrooms, 2 vineyards, and 2 hotels - and only crashed a couple of weddings in the process - to look at potential sites for the ceremony/reception. We don't have a decision yet, but we've definitely ruled out a few of our options. I'll post about the adventure for Wedding Wednesdays this week!

We also enjoyed a Mothers Day brunch prepared by my future mother-in-law - ever had amaretto french toast with peaches? TO. DIE. FOR. My parents and Matt's parents were both there, and my parents met one of Matt's sisters for the first time. Our families really are coming together, and best of all, they really like each other!

Now it's back to reality - work, a dreary Northwest day, and no delicious food in sight. Hope you all had fantastic weekends as well!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays - Episode 4

This doesn't really count as an episode, I suppose, since I'm not really posting anything of value. I was going to write up the engagement story/proposal day, but since a substantial portion of my family and friends have yet to hear it, I don't think it'd be fair to fill in the blogosphere first!

Image from, which has some great cake ideas!

The only progress that has been made on the wedding front since last week is on the venue front! We'll be visiting 6 potential venues this weekend - 2 wineries, 2 hotels, a ballroom, and a church - in Portland that could be where the big event happens. We're also doing a "drive-by" of another ballroom that responded to my phone calls but couldn't fit us in to show us around between weddings and brunches. It's going to be a jam-packed weekend between all of these appointments and Mothers Day, but hopefully I'll be back on Monday with a date and a place! This has seriously been the biggest stressor of everything so far - everyone wants to know when and where, and I haven't had any answers!

I'll fill you in on what we see and what we liked/didn't like next Wednesday, of course!

One of those mornings...

This morning started off perfectly. I had the right amount of energy to get myself out of bed at 6:15 for a run, and pounded out 5 miles pretty easily before 7am. I found exactly what I wanted at the grocery store on the way home (my office is having a bake sale today, and I wanted to contribute muffins and cookies). The muffins and the cookies came out fine, and were out of the oven by 7:40. I was showered, make-upped, and dressed shortly after 8, and all was going well to catch the 8:20 bus to work and make my 8:40 am meeting. No sweat!

And then...
  • Matt and I are going on a "date" tonight, so I decided to wear my 4-inch heels to work.
  • I couldn't find any paper plates to bring the baked goods to work on, so I had to rummage through the kitchen to find a few in the back of a cupboard, which took about 5 minutes longer than I thought it would.
  • Saran wrap and I don't get along
  • I get all the way down to the street the bus is on (4 blocks away), and it blows right past me because I'm at the wrong end of the block to catch it.
  • I can't run to the bus stop because I'm wearing 4-inch heels.
  • I speed-walk the 1.5 miles to work - in 4-inch heels.
  • I get within sight of work, stop paying attention to where I'm going, step in a pot-hole, and fall down in front of a line of cars in the middle of the street
  • The contents of my purse go everywhere (including about 15 tampons, lets be honest)
  • The muffins and cookies are squished and, because they were still warm, get quite deformed. Seriously, they look like the rejects at the bake sale.
  • I'm late for the meeting.
  • I have skinned and bruised knee, which isn't going to go well with the dress I was planning to wear to visit wedding venues this weekend.
What started out so promising...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Book Review: House Thinking

House Thinking: A Room-By-Room Look at How We Live
Winifred Gallagher

I've been reading this book for the last week or so, after picking it up from the local library while looking for home decor books. I have three chapters left, but think I've made it through enough of the book to be able to write about it and tell you what I think about it.

The premise of this book is really interesting - Gallagher delves into a variety of fields to discuss how and why America's homes are they way they are. While the most emphasis is given to environmental psychology, bits of history, home economics, engineering, other psychology fields, and even Eastern religions and traditions (like feng shui) are thrown in. The book is arranged room-by-room (just as the title suggests), beginning with the entry way of the house and working all the way down to the basement. It was interesting to read about how each of these fields has contributed to the shape, size, and uses of each room - how home economics changed the look and feel of the modern kitchen, and how engineering has changed the look and feel of the modern bathroom.

My only have a couple of complaints about this book. The first is the organizational structure of the chapters - they aren't very conducive to the sometimes completely-unrelated facts that the author discusses. For example, you might get a tidbit about behavioral psychology and the conditioned responses to a dining room that we all grow up with, and then have it followed by a completely unrelated tidbit about how home economics made women more responsible for the prevention of germs. Both pieces are interesting, but I don't know why they were put in next to each other! I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why the author connected certain points with each other.

My second complaint is that the author provided a ton of great descriptions about historical homes of prominent people - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Edith Wharton, Louisa May Alcott - BUT there are no pictures! After a beautiful description of Edith Wharton's bedroom, I wanted nothing more than to actually see it and understand visually why it worked so well! But alas, there is not a picture in the book. I'm usually not one to demand pictures, but when you're discussing colors, furniture, and specific visual elements of a room, a picture really helps.

Despite the short-comings, I highly recommend House Thinking. It's different than your usual how-to home decor book, and it gives you some additional things to think about when you're redo-ing a room or two.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bloomsday Race Report

It's no secret that Bloomsday was yesterday, especially if you tried to get anywhere in the downtown Spokane area. Basically, this entire city shuts down while 50,000 or so runners lope down the street in hopes of completing the 7.46 mile (12k) race in a better time than last year. For the second official (and fourth unofficial) time, I was among those 50,000.

And not to toot my own horn or anything, but I rocked it.

Shamelessly stolen from the Bloomsday website.

Oh yes. I finished in under an hour and made the top 25 of 24-year-old women. Those were my two goals going into the race, and that's what I did! Hooray!

Rachel also ran it for the first time this year, and wrote up here experience here. Go give her a pat on the back for her hard work!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This week is going to be another "using everything in the kitchen" week because we're going to be gone again this weekend - we'll be in Portland seeing both of our families and, most importantly, potential wedding venues! It's exciting to finally get the planning underway, and makes it really feel like this is happening!

Monday: Super delicious alphabet soup purchased on this shopping trip

Tuesday (Class Night): Baked tofu (marinated in bbq sauce), steamed veggies, and a box of Parmesan risotto

Curried Cauliflower and Black Beans served over some brown rice, with some additional steamed veggies on the side

A stir-fry of whatever is still left in the fridge!

Off to Portland!

For now, I'm going to kick up my feet and revel in my Bloomsday success today! Hope you all had fantastic weekends, and have fantastic weeks ahead!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday Morning Brunch

I'm a huge fan of the late-Saturday morning brunch. It's taken many forms - hangover eggs and hash-browns at a diner, a egg and cheese bagel sandwich from Ultimate Bagel with a mocha on the side, or cold pizza from the night before. Occasionally I do put it together myself though, and today was one of those days.

2 eggs over-easy, a Wasa cracker with cream cheese, a fresh Cameo apple, and a fresh kiwi. YUM!

I love those Saturdays that I have the time to sit down and enjoy a breakfast like this. It gives me so much energy for the day, and is honestly pretty relaxing. And of course, you can't forget a nice, steaming cup of tea!

Jasmine Pearl Green Tea, to be exact!

Now it's time to watch some DVR-ed Iron Chef America while doing some chores (the secret ingredient is butter, geez!) before heading downtown for sidewalk sales and Bloomsday festivities! It's a beautiful day in Spokane and I plan to enjoy in accordingly. Hope all of your weekends have started fantastically!