Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New fad? I think so.

You know, I refused to participate in planking. I didn't get it. I thought owling was a bit funnier, but it wasn't until one drunk night in Vegas that I attempted my own version of the latter fad.

Unfortunately, it just...didn't work out quite like I hoped. Because the only picture in which it actually looked like I was owling showed...a bit too much. That's what I get for "owling" in a dress, I suppose.

In fact, the only decent picture that was captured made it look like I was doing something entirely different.

This, folks, is VELOCIRAPTORING. Or the short version could be "Raptoring", I guess. Basically it involves one posing like this in random places, but if you can catch a photo of someone sneaking up on people in said pose...that's even better!

I am shamelessly taking this picture off my locked-up Facebook and posting it on my public blog. Because I thought it was funny when my friend Jonathan posted it, but the fact that it got 16 comments about my new fad Velociraptoring just...speaks for itself. No?

So, who's going to do the Velociraptor next? :) :) :) Pin It

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pretzel-Coated Chicken w/ Cheese Sauce & Zucchini



To be honest, my life is insane and I don't know if I'll regularly be participating in Tasty Tuesday, but as I'd planned on posting a recipe today anyway (it's been too long!) I figured what the heck ;) I've cooked this recipe numerous times...honestly, the cheese sauce really makes it!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1.5 lbs chicken tenders
4 large eggs
10-12 oz pretzels, salted (preferably whole grain)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
2 zucchini, sliced
Salt & Pepper
 

-Cook the zucchini any way you want :) In the picture above I coated it in olive oil, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and roasted it at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. You can also coat it with the extra egg and pretzel crumbs and fry it (3 minutes each side), but I find that zucchini is really hard to coat and fry.
-Finely grind the pretzels in a food processor. Transfer to a shallow bowl and mix in the thyme. In another shallow bowl, beat the eggs.
-In a large skillet, heat about 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Coat the chicken tenders with the pretzel crumbs, then the egg, then the pretzel crumbs again. Add the chicken to the skillet (you may have to cook it in 2 batches) and cook 3 minutes each side. Press between paper towels when done cooking to remove some of the oil.
-Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the chicken broth and milk. When the milk is bubbling, stir in the cheese and mustard. Keep stirring until the cheese is melted, then season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Pin It

Monday, September 26, 2011

I remembered Monday Confessions this week! Go me.


I confess...that I did absolutely nothing yesterday. I meant to go to yoga but my calves were hurting from a long run on Saturday, so I sat on the couch all.day.long. And it was GLORIOUS.

I confess...that despite all of the fun stuff going on here in the Greenville area in October, I really just can't wait for Halloween. And to spend Halloween in Disney ;)

I confess...that I've honestly had a LOT of crap going on/a lot of stuff running through my head, and I just haven't been into the blogging thing lately. I'm thinking of taking up another 30 day challenge, something that will force me to write. Input, anyone?

Pin It

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Oktoberfest!

Well, it's that time of year, folks...Oktoberfest time! This year Oktoberfest runs from September 17th to October 3rd, and although I missed any sort of kickoff last weekend (due to being in Vegas...a good excuse, I think) you can bet I'll be celebrating in style for the next week and a half or so :D




I'm kicking off my Oktoberfest celebrations tonight, in fact, with a Girls Pint Out at the Art Bar on Main in downtown Greenville, SC. For $10 I get to sample 5-6 beers and pair them with cheeses and other snacks. It's a great time with other local gals, and I haven't been able to get out there since July, so I'm pretty excited :)

Then on Saturday we are throwing our second annual Oktoberfest party at our home. It looks like there will be a good turnout - at least a couple dozen people - and I can't wait to see the beer and food people bring to share!
And then the weekend of the October 1st is Oktoberfest in Greer, SC. This little town is about 20-25 minutes from where we live in Greenville and they really do throw a great Oktoberfest party. We had a blast when we attended for the first time last year, and it gives us a good excuse to go somewhere we wouldn't normally hang out ;)

Are there any fun Oktoberfest activities where you live?
Pin It

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Writer's Block Wednesday

Fashion Faux Pas
What is the strangest thing in your closet?
I don't think there is really one single strange item in my closet...rather, there is a whole plethora of them. But they all belong to the same category - costumes ;) Because I'm a total geek and just love love love to dress up. Not just for Halloween - for any and all occasions that could possibly require a silly outfit or costume! Oktoberfest, Ugly Christmas Sweater parties, Mardi Gras, St. Patty's Day, random theme parties for birthdays...I don't know, it just seems to me that themes and costumes makes things more fun. To wit:

November 2008, random Retro themed party...just because. Oh and yes, I still have all of the outfits/costumes pictured!

Mardi Gras Party, February 2010
Oktoberfest party last year - and I'm hoping to break this one out again this year :)

Pin It

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Totally skipped Monday Confessions. Oops.

I honestly don't know what is wrong with me lately, outside of the fact that I just haven't been "feeling" the whole blogging thing. It's like...I don't know where I'm going with this blogging thing. I don't know what I get out of it anymore. I started this particular blog for one reason and quickly pushed that reason by the wayside. I know I have no focus and part of that is my problem...because two large parts of my life have their own dedicated blogs. I thought about combining, but no - it really does have to be this way. The Greenville blog is attached to my Greenville website and needs to stay as is in order to be legit (for lack of a better word). And I have SO much to say about traveling that if I combined my travel blog with this blog...it would basically be a travel blog with a random recipe or advice post thrown in here and there.

But to be honest, it's discouraging when I see that despite getting an average of over 30 hits a day...nothing is really happening. This blog will be a year old in November and I don't know what it is or where it's going. Being away in Europe last month and not dealing with it for a few weeks felt so amazing. I came back thinking I would be revitalized and refreshed on the blog front, but the opposite has happened...I care less about it than ever. The amount of effort expended just doesn't seem worth it, especially when I see people who have similar blogs with hundreds or even thousands of followers...and don't even use proper grammar. I'm not talking about big words or not ending sentences with prepositions (which I'm totally guilty of) - I'm talking about people who don't capitalize words that need to be capitalized. Don't put apostrophes where they need to be. DON'T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "YOUR" AND "YOU'RE". Argh.

I know, I know, I'm bitching. And to be honest I rarely do that...at least not in public ;) Mostly I'm just frustrated with myself for not being able to focus on anything I do to make any of it good enough. All of us struggle with something - somethings - and this, this is my absolute biggest struggle.

I'll end this on a positive note - I read this entry on my friend's blog, "Live, Laugh, Love and Pickles" and she put into words exactly why I hate the movie/musical Grease...something I've never been able to do. I giggled a lot while reading this so I hope you enjoy it too ;) Pin It

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Vegas Style!

I leave for Vegas later today - my 7th trip out there! - so it's only fitting that I give a shout out to one of my favorite cities ever in this week's Thirsty Thursday post :)




One drink Vegas does best is the giant alcoholic slushy. You can get them in almost ANY flavor. They're not necessarily "cheap" but the amount of drink you get (and the alcohol content) as compared to the cost makes them probably the best drink investment in a VERY expensive city!
November 2007 - The Football frozen drink at Mermaids on Fremont! (no idea what flavor that was)
Frozen Yard Margaritas (the mango flavor is to die for!) at La Salsa in the Forum Shops at Caesar's, September 2008
Frozen Pina Coladas in Eiffel Towers from The Paris! (September 2008)
This particular drink was actually just OJ & Vodka, but the ceramic balloon is yet another way to get your Vegas frozen drink fix (at the Paris, of course - this one is from April 2009)
Another La Salsa Margarita! Theirs are just my favorites. Plus if you buy the yard margarita and bring your cup back, you get discounted refills! Please excuse this silly picture of me, by the way. (June 2010)
What are you waiting for? Get your @$$ out to Vegas and partake in some yummy frozen beverages ;) I know I'll be doing that in about 12 hours! Pin It

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Writer's Block Wednesday

A friend posted a writer's block question this morning - "What do you like best about your city or hometown? What do you want to change?" - and I knew I just had to answer this one :)

I'll start with my hometown. I grew up in Ellington, Connecticut. When I was living there it was a beautiful, almost old-fashioned farm town. Seriously, there were more cows than people and laws against fast food establishments. Although I didn't care for Ellington when I was younger, as I've grown up I've learned to appreciate the fact that I grew up in a clean, quiet place.
source
Unfortunately, there's no such thing as an idyllic small town, and Ellington was also rife with ridiculous taxes and business laws put in place by people who did nothing but stymie the town's growth. And the gossiping was horrendous. I won't even get into the cult. (Yeah, I went there). I don't think I need to talk about how I'd change it because that about sums it up ;)

My city now is the place I've come to think of as my true home - Greenville, South Carolina. What do I love about it? The cheap cost of living, the warm[er] weather, the size (not too big OR too small), and just downtown in general. Shops, awesome restaurants, fun bars...what more could I ask for?
source
Again, though, no place is perfect. Sometimes the people here are too slow - and by too slow, I'm talking about both the speed in which they get things done and intelligence in general. The terrible education system in this area is partly to blame and that would be the first thing I would work on. Also, the way they treat animals down here is appalling and I'd love to do something about that :-/

I'm lucky to have lived in some really amazing places in my life, and I've seen both the good and the bad in most of them (though one place I would never move back to or suggest to anyone I cared about as a place to live, heh). Honestly, sometimes it takes stepping away and viewing a place from a distance to determine how you truly feel or felt about it as a home. As for that, I can merely say that I'm glad I was able to see how awesome Greenville truly was and end up back here in the end :) Pin It

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Confessions, Afternoon Style


I confess...that I leave for ***VEGAS*** in three days and I simply.can't.wait.

I confess...that I finally got into Pottermore, and was sorted. Into Gryffindor. And I don't think I'm a Gryffindor. Really I don't; it's the Hogwarts house I'd say I least identify with. But at the same time...I was pleasantly surprised to be sorted into it ;)

I confess...that I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Halloween costume I ordered. Despite the fact that it's only September 12th. ;)

Pin It

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11/2001: A ten year remembrance.

To be honest, I struggled with whether or not to post anything on this day. I thought about just putting up a general "moment of silence" blog entry. But you know what? I've had countless moments of silence over 9/11. And to be honest, I think that keeping silent is the last thing we should do when it comes to this particular anniversary.

In the past ten years, our country has floundered, begun to bounce back, and floundered again. Those of us who were alive and old enough to remember 9/11 will never forget where we were. We will always be affected - at the very least, we will be reminded of what has changed because of that day every time we fly. And to be honest, the generation that I belong to - and those within a few years of it - have been affected in yet another way. We have watched our friends and family members go off to fight a seemingly pointless fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of those friends and family members have been lost. Others have been changed forever - and not in a good way.

I started this blog late last year, so I know that I've never written about my 9/11 experience. Not here, anyway. And if I've written about it before, period, it was at least 5 years ago.

It is beyond difficult to believe that today is the ten year anniversary of 9/11. That 10 years ago today, I was a naive 18-year-old girl who for the first time in her life was truly away from home. As in hundreds and hundreds of miles away from home, living on my own, with no real personal concerns and no clue how to deal with a national tragedy like what happened that day.

It feels as if I've lived a lifetime since then...and maybe I have, because I don't think my life truly started until I did the college program...and I associate my first CP with 9/11, of course. How could I not? We had stayed up late the night before; I didn't have to work until 1 PM. I slept in until maybe 9 AM, but eventually there was a commotion in the living room that woke me up. I dragged myself out of bed and headed to the kitchen to pour a bowl of cereal. I got as far as putting the cereal in the bowl, uncapping and beginning to pour the milk, when I realized what I was seeing on the TV.

They were replaying - over and over again - the footage of the first plane hitting the tower. My roommate and close friend Kim was sitting on the couch, stunned, her mouth hanging open.

Without even realizing it, I poured half the jug of milk into my cereal bowl and consequently all over the counter.

The "moment" was broken when Kim launched herself over the back of our couch and said something along the lines of "The World Trade Center has collapsed and the Pentagon has just been hit!" She was on her way for her phone - presumably to call her family - and my breakfast was forgotten as I rushed to do the same. Thankfully everyone I knew was fine - the luck of being from somewhere two and a half hours from NYC - but that wasn't the end of this horrific day.

For only the second time in its history, Walt Disney World was closed. That means that my friends who were already at work - including my good buddy Joel - were helping to clear people out of the park. For the rest of us, that meant a day off. A day to reflect, to worry. And we did that for quite some time. We watched the news. We visited our neighbors. We talked about the evacuation procedures used by the parks. And eventually, we gave in and did the last thing we knew how to do - we partied.

Was that the best choice? Probably not. But at that point it was all we had left. And it was what we did best.

And when that day was over, I met Ex. Had 9/11 never happened, I wouldn't have met him. Not like that. Not enough for us to end up what we became.

No one will ever forget September 11, 2001 - because no one would allow it to be forgotten. I wouldn't want to forget it, anyway, because what happened that day shaped who I am right now. Imagine being eighteen and lost in your own little world, and then forced to grow up in one day.

I know I wasn't the only one affected by 9/11. Everyone was affected in different ways, and this is me.

I worked for Disney World when 9/11 occurred. I was far away from my family and friends; worried, scared, and nearly alone.

If it hadn't been for a girl named Kim, I'm not sure I would have lasted through my College Program.  Not after this tragedy.

If 9/11 hadn't happened, Ex and I never would have been thrown in each other's paths. EVER.

And in the years since then, I have watched friends and family be deployed to the Middle East. Thankfully I haven't lost anyone, but I know people who have - in one way or another.

Ten years ago, my life - our lives - were changed forever. But again, I don't agree with being silent over this. I think that would be what they want from us.

Don't give up. Never give in.

TARA Pin It

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Balsamic Brown Butter Ravioli....Slightly Revamped :)

Although I have edited this recipe a bit, I originally got it from Smiling is Good for Your Teeth and couldn't be more grateful!.

I could have taken a picture of this meal...I even went to get my camera right before I ate. But to be honest, as tasty as it is it's not very pretty...sooo I didn't bother.

BALSAMIC BROWN BUTTER RAVIOLI

18-20 oz FRESH store-bought ravioli (I use cheese; I don't think meat ravioli would taste very good)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes (be careful not to burn; note that these are optional!)
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping

-Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want them to be slightly firm! Drain.
-Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt the butter. Once it is melted, add the bell pepper. Cook 5-7 minutes, until the pepper is softened and the butter is browned. Remove from the heat and cool for a minute or so before stirring in the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
-Once the butter and other ingredients are mixed well, carefully add the ravioli and walnuts and toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before eating :)

(As a note, this would be best with a spring greens or baby spinach salad and/or crusty French or Italian bread; you can easily double the butter, vinegar, salt and pepper ingredients to make some extra dressing/dipping sauce)
Pin It

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blogs from the Past: 6/14/2004

This entry is being posted with just a few minor edits. I've already written about this house in my Houses That Built Me series, but this is a much older take on it (older as in closer to the time I actually lived there) and therefore contains...I don't know, maybe more jaded thoughts/opinions. Also...I'm going to try to include some old pictures. For your entertainment, of course ;) As usual, [some] names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

My parents are pretty sure they've sold their house. I am extremely happy for them, because the mortgage on the house was insane, and the house is too big for them now anyway. I mean, who needs a four-bedroom, 4500 square foot house when one of their daughters is married, another lives at school eight months out of the year, and the third is almost 17? Besides, my parents have a lot of bad memories from that house.

But still, I can't decide how I feel about them selling the house and moving. Like I said, I of course am happy for them, because I know that selling it and moving is what is best for them...but I lived in that house too, you know? Okay, I lived there for two years straight, lived at school for a semester, lived there again for 7 months, lived in Florida for four and a half months, lived with my parents yet again for four months, and haven't stayed there for longer than three weeks since then...but still. I was 15 when we moved into that house, and it was only the second house I remember living in (we lived in one house until I was two, moved to Ellington and lived on the mountain until I was 15, and then moved into the house that my parents just sold). So many of the important things that happened in my life happened when I lived there.

Saturday afternoon it was beautiful out, sunny and fairly warm. I was sitting outside on the lawn, watching the horses and the dogs and just thinking about how beautiful it all was. For a moment, I missed living there more than anything - but only for a moment. So, I have decided that I am going to write about all the things that happened to me in that house. Not everything that happened in my life while I lived there, just things I remember from living there. And these are just the major things!



1) When we moved in, there were no mirrors or door knobs, and no phone lines. I was 15 and had a long-term boyfriend, so of course I hated it. I hated moving in general, because I thought SO much had happened to me at our other house. Needless to say, it took a year or so, but I eventually called 7 Country Farm Lane "home".
2) The Halloween Party I threw my junior year of high school. We just had food and music and watched horror movies, but there were about 15-20 people there, and it was fun. Mainly, my current crush, *E*, came and I remember Sam pulling me into the back room and telling me that he liked me.
3) My first kiss with the first person I ever truly fell in love with(*E*, of course)
4) My surprise 16th birthday party (even if I wasn't totally surprised by it).
5) The scary phone call I got the end of November of my junior year, when I was home alone, from the person who sounded like the guy from Scream. Never did find out who that was, but it was definitely pretty freaky.
6) The "I think I love you" incident with *E*. (Who does that? Spends two days building it up, then instead of saying "I love you" for the first time, says "I think I love you?" Haha, funny times.)
7) Walking home from school with kids from my neighborhood...synchronized walking, our swear "hfck", making up names for everyone in the Delian League, the Swedish Gift Shop, and of course the Hound of the Baskervilles!
8) My first horse (and the only one I ever owned), Val, our first barn, and all that other horsey stuff!

9) New Year's Eve 1998-1999, the little party at my house, the guys putting on Sam's hooker boots, making a mess with confetti, breaking the air hockey table, my first New Year's Eve kiss ever...
10) Getting ready and taking pictures for two proms and two Snowballs...

11) The first time my heart was ever broken.
12) Standing at the corner of Olde Farm and Pinney with my "brothers" and sisters, talking about "angel hair".
13) Late night, hours-long conversations online with my "Neighborhood Boyfriend", on the ghetto computer in our scary basement. (These were during the summers of 1999 and 2000.)
14) CHRISTY AND THE ATTACK OF THE CHECK MARKS and STEUEBENVILLE--writing them, rehearsing them, putting them on...

15) Nights in Neighborhood Boyfriend's clubhouse (both the Summer of '99 and the Summer of '00)...the vacuum cleaner, his masturbating dog, the thunder storm, etc...
16) The "Maid of the Mist" project (a film of us camping in the fields behind my house, looking for the supposed ghost, a.k.a. the "Maid of the Mist", that exists on my parents former farm)...which never really happened, haha.
17) ATV rides in the cornfields (okay, that one is a little out of place, but there were so many of them).
18) Chasing illegal snowmobilers off our land.
19) Thanksgivings, Christmas Eves, Christmases, Easters, birthdays...all of those wonderful holidays that feel so much more wonderful when you're in your own home...
20) New Years Eve 2000--the millenium--playing pool with Chad and watching the fireworks that Mike and Neighborhood Boyfriend set off (after getting home from a real party, of course...haha)
21) Having all my friends over my house to swim during the end of our senior year...even the times where certain people's tops kept coming off!
22) Sneaking out of the house for the first time (and many times after that)...and of course usually with Sam.
23) Sunday night X-Files with Judith and KT during our freshman year of college.
24) All the times Jenna slept over my house.
25) All the going away parties I threw...seriously, I had like three.
26) Coming home to everything beautiful and familiar after being away for months on end...
27) Watching scary movies with my "brothers" (we never did find a truly scary movie)
28) Mike (a friend from the neighborhood) coming over and hanging out in our pantry (the pantry was never the same when he wasn't sitting on the stool in it, gazing in awe at the size of the pantry itself, and the amount of food in it...haha). Pin It

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Confessions is back!



I confess...that I've been lazy about bringing back Monday confessions because I haven't been feeling the blog thing lately.

I confess...that I'm already thinking about a Halloween costume. I actually thought I was just going to dress up as Luna Lovegood again, but now I'm thinking Alice in Wonderland (the Tim Burton version)...

I confess...that I'm pissed about today's weather. I was supposed to have a pool day today but it's only in the low 70s...and raining. What a waste of a holiday :-/ Pin It

Friday, September 2, 2011

Series Review: The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray

I finished the first book in this series, A Great & Terrible Beauty, while I was in Europe. I could have reviewed it when I returned, just as I could have reviewed the second installment, Rebel Angels, when I finished it last weekend. But to be honest, I'm glad I didn't. Had I reviewed either of those without finishing the trilogy, I would have given it a terrible review from beginning to end. Now, on the other hand, I can say that whereas I did not particularly like this series, as a whole it's not the worst thing I've ever read.

It's not, after all, Twilight.

However, it's also woefully historically inaccurate. On the other hand, it gives a scarily accurate portrayal of toxic teenage female friendships. The problem is that none of the characters - particularly the heroine - are likeable. Gemma is at one moment written to be a headstrong girl with very modern ideas, ideas that are far beyond the Victorian setting of the books. Unfortunately, Ms. Bray does not continually write her as such - for if Gemma was that girl, fully and truly, she would not have put up with her "friends" Felicity and Ann as she does.

In the end, none of the books were any better than the others and I give all three - A Great & Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing - 2.5 out of 5 stars. I give them that because to be completely honest, despite being young adult lit they did keep my attention. I felt that the imaginative aspect was far-fetched and not well described at all, and that again the books were not historically accurate enough to garner any sort of respect. That said, this series could have been set in Elizabethan England or Colonial America or Napoleonic France and it wouldn't have mattered - it still would have been what it was, a fairly interesting read with a decent ending.

Pin It

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Monthly 101 Update: August

Well...while I didn't do the best job at starting new tasks last month, I did finish a few :) The only ones I started were to Re-read Pride & Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion - I started reading Emma (for the second time) - and to Go 2 weeks without eating meat (though I am allowing myself fish/shrimp, I'm already halfway through this one!).

As for the ones I finished:

Travel to 3 countries I've never visited before I actually almost doubled this one, as last month I went to Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary!
In Berlin, Germany - the first new country I visited on my trip
Try 10 new wines I completed this one in France on 8/17! We did a wine tasting in Hungary and tried 7 wines, then bought a bottle of an 8th wine a little while later....tried a 9th one that night and then had a carafe of a local Provence wine in Marseille on 8/17 :) Unfortunately I didn't write any of the names down...because I was on vacation and just not thinking about that, haha.
At our tasting at the Hungarian House of Wines in Budapest! Definitely worth the money and the time :)
Go 1 month without eating fast food This actually wasn't as difficult as I thought, though to be honest I did allow myself Subway a couple of times. I know that some people feel that Subway is "fast food" but I think a couple veggie subs from there shouldn't nix the fact that I went from Monday 7/4 through Tuesday 8/16 without any other sort of fast food ;) And the only reason I broke my streak was because the only thing open for breakfast in the Budapest airport on 8/16 was Burger King. Let's not talk about how disgusting I felt after eating said breakfast.

Anyway, not too shabby considering I was away from home for most of the month, no? I hope everyone else had a good August! Pin It