Resolutions for 2014

1. Train myself to be tidier. Spend 15 minutes every day reducing clutter, putting away items, and organizing my environment.

2. Be more forgiving of myself and others.

3. Read one new-to-me book a week.

4. Brown-bag my meals for work most of the time.

5. Pay off my laptop and at least one of my student loans.

6. Get my driver’s license.

7. Learn to better manage my anxiety and depression.

8. Stay on top of my reading for school.

9. Drink more water.

10. Complete and turn in school assignments at least one day before they are due.

{Recipe} Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese

I love macaroni and cheese. It’s cheesy, it’s comforting, it’s perfect for these cold fall days.

I usually make Mark Bittman’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese, but I felt like trying something a little different the other day so I headed over to Pinterest. I found this recipe for Quick and Creamy Macaroni and Cheese from KitchMe.

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I made a few changes to the recipe and I was really pleased with the results. Next time I think I’ll use a different type of pasta (the rigatoni I used really works better in a baked macaroni and cheese), but other than that I was really pleased with how it turned out. I’d describe it as a grown-up, less processed version of boxed macaroni and cheese. This recipe makes serves two, but it would be really easy to double or triple.

Here’s how you can make your own:

Ingredients 

6oz pasta of your choice

2 TB butter

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

3 TB cream cheese

3 shakes tabasco hot sauce

1 pinch tumeric powder (for color)

freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Boil pasta until it is two minutes away from being fully cooked. Drain the pasta and put it back in the original pot.

2. Add the cheeses, butter and seasonings. Stir together and cook until cheese is melted.

3. Serve and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite macaroni and cheese recipe? Share in the comments!

7 Quick Takes {7}

Linking up with Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes!

It has been way too long since I’ve posted! My grad program requires A TON of writing, and while that is something I enjoy, after so much academic writing I don’t always feel like writing in my free time too. Anyway, here are some quick updates:

1. Halloween is approaching and I am ready to rock my Arya Stark Halloween costume! The outfit wasn’t too difficult but I was really having a hard time deciding what to do with my hair. My hair’s really long so I knew I couldn’t go with Arya’s short haircut of Seasons 2 and 3. When I looked up her hairstyles from Season 1, though, I saw that a lot of them were side braids and I was worried people would confuse my costume with Katniss Everdeen. Not that there’s anything wrong with being Katniss Everdeen for Halloween because she’s awesome and The Hunger Games are awesome, but it’s not my costume! Anyway, I finally found this hairstyle and thought it was just distinctive enough:

Best of all, even with my limited hair-styling abilities, I am confident that I can pull off two braids and a bun! Easy!

2. The trailer for Wes Anderson’s new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, was released yesterday and it looks incredible! I can’t wait to see it when it comes out!

3. School update: So I had this really big homework assignment and I had been really stressing about it. We had to design a database for a unique catalogue of data. I had never done anything remotely like that before and I was really nervous that I wouldn’t be able to figure it out. Anyway, I got it done (early, thank goodness) and lo and behold it actually turned out okay! It works! I haven’t gotten my grade yet because it was due yesterday, but I got some great peer feedback from my classmates. And in case you were wondering, my database was a cat adoption database and my data set was cats available for adoption at the animal sanctuary where we got Henry.

4. Anyway, my experience with that assignment was a good reminder for me to not get so worked up about things. I’ve gotten a lot better about it than I was when I was younger (no tears!), but I think it’s something I’ll have to be conscious of for quite some time. Patterns take a long time to break, and my obsessive worrying is a very deeply ingrained pattern.

5. On the subject of behavioral patterns, I’m reading a book that my sister recommended to me called You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I had to laugh at the title, but it’s a really good and helpful book about breaking patterns that are holding you back in life and going for what you want. One pattern I’m breaking this week? Staying in the school/work/sometimes family routine and not going out socially. This weekend I’m going to a Halloween party (as Arya, of course) and I’m planning on fighting my wallflower tendencies and having a great time! Hopefully dressing like Arya will allow my inner badass to come out :)

6. As far as I’m concerned, tea is one of the essential ingredients to a good life. I drink so much tea and am always on the lookout for new options. I just tried Celestial Seasoning’s Jammin’ Lemon Ginger Herbal Tea and it is a new favorite. It tastes great and gives a good energy boost without caffeine. I really, really hate tea bag tags (I have weird pet peeves), so I particularly like that Celestial Seasonings doesn’t use them on their bags.

7. I went to Target on Tuesday to buy new work clothes and vitamins and I left with only new work clothes and vitamins. Miracles happen!

Have a great weekend!

 

{Recipe} Healthier Pineapple “Fried” Rice

Whenever I go out for Thai food, I have to get pineapple fried rice – so delicious! It’s not the healthiest dish, however, so I decided to recreate a healthier version at home using quinoa for added protein. The result? It looks ugly (quinoa is not photogenic!) but it tasted like the real thing!

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Here’s how you can make it yourself:

Ingredients

- 1 cup cooked quinoa

- 1 cup frozen shrimp (note: I am a vegetarian most of the time but eat seafood about every six weeks)

- 1/2 cup pineapple (fresh or frozen)

- 1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)

- soy sauce to taste

- fresh ginger, grated, to taste

- salt and pepper to taste

- 1 TB olive oil

1. Sautee shrimp, pineapple, and peas in olive oil. If using frozen pineapple you will have to drain the pineapple juice before the next step.

2. Add quinoa and stir until ingredients are evenly mixed.

3. Season with soy sauce, ginger, salt, and pepper.

Makes one large serving or two small servings (full disclosure: I didn’t share).

Enjoy!

Seven Quick Takes {6}

Linking up with Conversion Diary for Seven Quick Takes!

1. Academic highlight of the week: I got to write a library manual for my management class and design a library of my choice. Being me, I created the Jane Austen Library and had an excellent time doing so. I love assignments that teach practical skills while being enjoyable at the same time.

2. Otherwise, school is going okay. I’m still adjusting to the online format and finding it a bit difficult in some ways. I chose it for flexibility, but that flexibility also comes with a cost. Keeping up with the class discussion takes up so much time! I’m finding that I’m able to keep with the the reading, lectures, and assignments, but I need to come up with a better strategy for attacking the discussions because they are such a big part of the program.

3. After reading L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle a few weeks ago, I decided to have a nostalgia fest and reread the entire Anne of Green Gables series. My well-worn and well-loved childhood paperbacks are somewhere in my parents’ garage, so I am reading the free iBook editions. For some reason they have every novel in the series except  Anne of Windy Poplars, so I had to skip that one for the time being and move on to Anne’s House of Dreams. I’m slightly bitter.

4. Embarrassing fact: I was reading Anne’s House of Dreams on my lunch break at work and during a particularly sentimental passage I started to get a little teary-eyed. Thankfully none of my coworkers or customers noticed, but I am going to be careful about what I read in public from now on!

5. It has been a really nice, mostly tv-less summer, but I am ready for my shows to come back! The Mindy Project is coming back first, on September 17th, and you better believe I am counting down the days. I am particularly excited because a certain James Franco will be guest-starring this season. Honestly, that show might as well be called Mindy and the Handsome Men Parade, not that I am complaining! :)

6. Maryrose and I saw a really good movie this week called The Spectacular Now. I thought it had a really good message about the danger of fear and how people hold themselves back because they are afraid. I could definitely relate to that, and it made me take a good hard look at myself. I think I often limit myself because I’m afraid, but that’s no way to live. More on that later, but the short version is that I am going to work on being brave. Oh, and here’s the trailer for The Spectacular Now:

7. Gratuitous Henry picture:

Sleepy baby!

Sleepy baby!

Have a great weekend!

Week Two and Olive Bread

It’s week two of the fall semester and I’m feeling good. My classes are interesting, my professors are knowledgeable, and my classmates are a diverse, well-rounded group of people as eager to learn as I am. I’m finding that I am able to keep myself on task and on track in an online learning environment. I’ve found an organizational method that works for me (although I do want to supplement my academic planner with some Post-Its like these to write down the weekly readings).

I’m also making every effort to keep other aspects of my life in focus as well. With going to school full time and working full time, I want to be sure that I am still prioritizing self-care, personal growth, and just plain old fun. Keeping up with my hobbies and interests, including this blog, are very important to me in this time of career and educational exploration. I know that I wouldn’t be happy with an “all work and no play” mentality, so I’m making every effort to begin the semester with a healthy balance in mind.

Today, after watching a lecture and going over my schedule for the week, I’m baking olive bread. I’ve been craving fat and was inspired by this recipe, so I’m throwing some kalamata olives into my favorite quick bread recipe (Olive Oil and Salt Bread from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything) and hoping for the best!

Update: the bread is done baking! It’s not the prettiest bread, but it takes less than an hour to make and it’s delicious.

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Happy Tuesday!

Fall Wish List

I love fall. I love the crisp air, the changing colors, and the anticipation of the holidays to come. What I love the most, however, is the clothes. Very few things make me happier than sweater weather. I don’t really plan on doing any fall shopping this year, both because tuition payments have dwindled my disposable income and because I don’t really need any new clothes. It’s still fun to browse, though, so here are some things I’m eyeing this fall:

Fall Wish List

Tops

How cute is this pony sweatshirt? And a classic striped crewneck is always a good investment.

I would definitely live in this cream-colored blouse. I love that it’s a little bit old-fashioned but has the scallops and cutouts to keep it current. Very cute.

Bottoms

Okay, Minnie pants are the best anyway, but this cabernet color completely knocks it out of the park. Gorgeous.

I’ve been wanting a skirt like this one for a long time. So cute.

Accessories

I think penny loafers are so cute – I want a pair! These ballet flats are great too.

I love the mix of masculine and feminine elements in this watch. Very pretty.

For my next pair of glasses, I’d really like to get a pair of Warby Parkers. These are too cute.

Love these earrings. Classic yet unexpected.

I really, really want a Cambridge Satchel. To me it is the perfect bag – classic, collegiate, and with plenty of room for a book!

Essie’s new navy and dark red polishes would add the perfect finishing touch to any fall ensemble!

What are you eyeing this fall? Tell me in the comments!