Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Star Wars Marathon, Part 1

This past Saturday we finally set aside the time to have another Star Wars marathon. I had so much fun planning a themed menu for our Lord of the Rings marathon back in December that I decided to do it again, so I did some research and found Star Wars themed recipes to try :) Unfortunately they're *really* just regular recipes with funny Star Wars names, because Star Wars simply isn't as food-centric as Lord of the Rings...but still, I was able to find these somewhat "themed" dishes and play with the recipes enough to make them all tasty!

First things first, we knew we had to start the marathon by 11 AM. I was up and at 'em bright and early to take the dogs for a run (knowing that they'd I'd be lazy all day), shower, and don my "I Am the Rebel Spy" t-shirt from Star Tours in Disney World. Now, I wasn't able to find any breakfast-type recipes...but you know what, I'm 29 years old and I can eat what I want for breakfast. So I had cake.

...to be exact.
1 package yellow cake mix (and the ingredients required to make the cake)
3/4 cup malted milk powder
1 can prepared chocolate frosting (I used milk chocolate because I prefer it, but a darker colored frosting would have looked awesome to go with the Darth Maul theme of the cake!)
Red cake decorating frosting

-Preheat oven and prepare cake according to package directions, adding 1/2 cup of the malted milk powder before mixing the batter. Bake according to directions as well :)
-Stir remaining 1/4 cup malted milk powder in with the frosting. Once the cake has cooled, frost and decorate it as you desire!

As you can see I tried to decorate my cake. The general idea was for it to look sort of like the designs on Darth Maul's face...but I'm not a cake decorator. At all. Still, at least I tried, right? :)

Of course, cake by itself wasn't enough for us, so Steve mixed up some Blue Milk! Honestly, no recipe needed for this because it's just what it sounds like: milk and blue food coloring. More for fun than anything else.

Of course we watch the movies in chronological order - that being, Episode I: The Phantom Menace first, followed by Episode II: Attack of the Clones and then Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. We even started a little game while watching the first movie - originally it was "count how many lightsabers fall into bottomless pits" but eventually it just became "count how many lightsabers are destroyed". This is a big deal because according to general Star Wars information, lightsabers are really difficult to build. Yet the Jedi are constantly losing them!

Watching Episodes II and III also included a lot of moans and groans re: the Anakin and Padme relationship. Because their dialogue is beyond terrible, and the love story itself is just...not portrayed well. I mean come on. "Truly. Deeply. I love you." God, it's worse than a 90s pop/love song. Needless to say, we were more than happy to finally move on to the original trilogy!

Buuut...I have so many recipes to share with you that I'll include one more, and then you'll have to stay tuned for Part 2 of our Star Wars Marathon ;)


Olive oil
3 large white baking potatoes, cubed
4 small red potatoes, cubed
1 sweet potato, cubed
2 cinnamon sticks
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 hard boiled eggs, cooled & diced
2 large stalks of celery, diced
6 small to medium sized green onions, sliced
3 heaping tablespoons dill relish
1 cup mayonnaise
2 heaping tablespoons honey mustard

-Put the cubed red and white potatoes into a large saucepan/pot and add just enough cold water to cover. Heat on "high" until the water starts boiling and allow to boil for 6-8 minutes, testing the potatoes with a fork to make sure they are tender.
-In a separate saucepan, add the cubed sweet potato and the cinnamon sticks with just enough cold water to cover and cook in the same manner as above.
-When the potatoes are cooled add them to a large bowl with all of the other ingredients and mix well!

I'm honestly not a HUGE potato salad fan, but this recipe intrigued me and yes, it did turn out pretty good! Though I honestly cut the recipe by about 1/3 (yes, those cuts ARE reflected in the recipe posted above!) and it still made WAY too much potato salad. Seriously, at this rate we'll be eating the stuff for a week. Or until it goes bad, which will probably come first...haha.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Confessions

I confess...that I had cake for breakfast on Saturday, and I am not ashamed.

I confess...that (also on Saturday) I wrote something like 7,000+ words on something I've been working on, but it's not something I could ever do something with and I know that. This partly frustrates and disappoints me, yet I'm also still kind of proud that I wrote so much in just one day :)

I confess...that I made so much food this weekend for our Star Wars marathon that I won't need to cook a meal until at least Tuesday. Possibly Wednesday. It's ridiculous.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Contest/Giveaway Winner!

Well folks, my giveaway ended at midnight Friday night and there were only three people who actually entered! Sad. I'm pretty sure it's because no one else wanted to guess at what was in my header, because the three people who did participate guessed all six things correctly. This meant that I had to use the Random Number Generator...with Marty being the first comment, Nicole of Freckles the Happy Heathen being the second and Eleni of RPG Called Life being the third.

So the winner is ... MARTY! I actually know Marty from working at Disney and he's one of those awesome real life friends who doesn't have a blog of his own but reads and even comments on mine anyway :)

I've made a vlog about my new blog name, design and header so if you're interested in knowing what is pictured and why please view it :) I kind of babble a bit at the beginning and end but I'd say that I start explaining the header at about the 2:50 mark and finish around the 7:30 mark. Oh and please excuse the weird jerky picture at the beginning, I'm not even sure how that got in there as it doesn't show being in there in my iMovie and I was too lazy to fix it and re-upload the entire video because of a tiny mistake like that, haha.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Friendship Friday :)

I haven't participated in a blog hop for quite some time (outside of the one I've tried to start, I mean - that being Monday Confessions), so today I decided to try my hand at Friendship Friday from Create with Joy!

Question Of The Week
What Has Inspired You Most This Week?

Hmmm. This week I would say that I was most inspired by a sort of specified interest community that I recently joined. The people who are the heart and soul of this community are encouraging and talented and inspired me with both their kind words regarding some writing that I shared and with the wonderful art and stories that they shared as well.

* Please don't forget that today is the last day of my little contest/giveaway! Don't be scared to enter, folks...there's no harm in trying ;) *
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thirsty Thursday and my love for Beer

This entry came to me as I was trying to fall asleep the other night, and to be honest I'm not sure if fully-awake Tara can do justice to the absolutely random thoughts I was having...but I'm going to try ;)

Like so many people (especially girls - let's not lie, ladies), I didn't think that I liked beer when I first, you know, started drinking. I want to say the first beer I actually drank was Budweiser. You know, Bud Red. I drank it when I'd already been drinking and didn't love it, but didn't hate it...and then when I had beer as a sort of "first drink" one night, I just couldn't make myself drink it. But again...Bud Red.

Until the Walt Disney World college program came around and I was making a mere $6 an hour. Once the giant bottle of Jim Beam that our neighbors gave us as a welcome present was gone, we had to rely on practically nonexistent paychecks and good friends to get us through.


Milwaukee's Best Light, that is.

I honestly looked high and low for a picture of me with a can of Beast in my hand, but the only ones I can find also picture people with whom I'm no longer in contact (including Ex...ugh), so I'll forego that and talk about the inevitable post-college "I'm no longer QUITE as broke as I was a few months ago" switch to Miller Lite. And you know, even though my Beast phase lasted a good 3+ years...my love affair with Miller Lite beat it out at around 4.5+ years. I did cheat on Miller once in a while, usually with Corona, but I always went back to my old friend.

The thing about Miller Lite is that it doesn't taste as bad as Bud Light; also, you can drink a whole shit ton of it because it's barely more than water in regards to its alcohol content.
I mean, you can drink it for something like 8 hours while you clean the house you are about to move into.
...and of course, you can take totally classy pictures like this with this, pictures you would never take if you were drinking a Stella Artois, mind you.
And I guess it's good enough that sometimes when you're having a party you need to keep it a secret that you even HAVE Miller Lite and hide it from the other party-goers.
Not to mention, it's perfect when you need 14 cans of it to drink at a NASCAR race.
But finally, finally, there came a day when I realized that I had the funds to drink whatever kind of beer I wanted (well...within reason, of course - I'm not buying that Sam Adams Utopias or anything)...and since then a whole new world has unfolded before my very eyes taste buds. I've already posted about how much I love using Untappd to keep track of the beers I try, and the fact of the matter is that I've tried and loved so many different types of beer since the fall of 2008 I've only touched poor old Miller Lite once, when I took Steve to a NASCAR race for his 30th birthday.

Instead, I order samplers at restaurants whenever possible.

I visit local breweries and fall in love with amazing microbrews.

I go to baseball games and pay just $1 more per cup to enjoy Yuengling. Lots and lots of Yuengling.

And I go on vacation and try as many new brews as possible.
Enjoying an impromptu stop at a beer festival in Berlin, Germany
Trdlos and Czech Rebels in Prague, Czech Republic

House Weissbier at a cafe in the Sachsenhausen district in Frankfurt, Germany
Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale in Sun Valley, Idaho
So yeah, I drink a lot of beer, but often it's just to enjoy the taste of a brew that's new to me. I never drank a Beast (ha!) or a Miller Lite just to enjoy the taste, that's for sure.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quick, Easy & Delicious Beef Stew

Let's get one thing straight: This is not a food blog. I love to cook, I believe that I am a good cook, I love to try new recipes and new foods, and I love to share all the amazing recipes that I inevitably find. But if I were to feel forced to take pictures of every step of my cooking process it would bog me down. Honestly half the time I'm lucky to remember to take a picture of the finished product ;) What I really hope is for people to see recipes that I've shared, think they're interesting, and be able to easily copy and paste my text into an email or a word doc for printing/saving purposes.

Also, I will only ever cite recipes or link back to where I found them if I changed absolutely nothing about the recipe itself. You will rarely see me cite or link back because I almost always fiddle with recipes, even if I've never made them before. After all, recipes are more like guidelines, anyway ;) I will never post something on here unless I've made it and know that it's a quality meal...Promise!

So without further ado...I actually found this recipe in an airline magazine on our recent trip to Idaho. I definitely tore it out and brought it home, though yes, I did change it up just a BIT. It's a fairly quick and easy beef stew recipe and it's very tasty :)


¾ cup bourbon
1/3 cup maple syrup
6 – 8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
approx. 1.5 pounds cubed beef (I buy the sirloin stew beef cubes – the good stuff!)
Olive oil
4-5 cups white onions, sliced (approx. 1.5 large onions)
32 oz beef broth
2 cups water
8 oz egg noodles
4 cups spinach/baby spinach (loose – not packed – and fresh)
Green onions, sliced (for garnish)


-To do so, combine the bourbon, maple syrup, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the steak, toss to coat, cover and leave in the refrigerator. Drain the steak through a sieve and reserve the marinade when ready to cook.

-Coat the bottom of a large stock pot with a thin layer of olive oil and heat on medium-high. Add the beef and cook until browned, approx. 8 minutes. Make sure to move the cubes around and flip them so that they are evenly browned!

-Remove the beef from the pan and set aside on a plate, then re-coat the bottom with a fresh layer of olive oil. Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 5-6 minutes.

-Stir in the marinade that you set aside, then add the beef broth and water. Bring to a boil and add the egg noodles; cook for 8 minutes.

-Stir in the steak and spinach and cook about 4-5 more minutes, until the spinach is wilted.

-Season with salt and pepper as desired and garnish with the sliced green onions to serve!

Oh hey, by the way...I've added a "Pin It" button to my blog posts! So if you see a recipe or something that you want to save, just make sure you're signed into Pinterest and click the button! :)

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Depressing sort of Monday Confessions...heh.

I confess...that I'm partially really happy and partially kind of disappointed in my time for the 5k that I ran on Saturday. The official time was 31:42, which is wrong, because the clock had just ticked to 31:39 as I ran by it. Three seconds is a lot of time for them to add, especially when I was in the middle of the pack at the start and didn't start my own stopwatch until I actually CROSSED the start line - and MY stopwatch therefore says my time was 31:28.3. And that's WITH me forgetting to stop it until a good 5 seconds or more after I crossed the finish line!

I confess...that I'm nervous about the Superbowl. I was definitely one of those Pats fans who thought they were unbeatable in the 2008 Superbowl and, well, we all know what happened there. So this is a rematch and I may not even be able to watch it after what happened the last time.

I confess...We've only been home 5 days from our big Idaho ski trip and I can't stop thinking about skiing. It will likely be quite some time before we get to go again, too :-/

EDIT: BONUS CONFESSION! (because you know, usually I only do three)
I confess...that more people should enter my little contest/giveaway! Yes, it requires that you guess what's in my header and all that, but I've only had a few entries so trust me, you should at least TRY! ;)

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

In which I [drunk] vlog about my all-time favorite movie.

I made this video back...I think in the beginning of December. I fought with myself over whether or not to post it, but as apparently my husband and my sister think it's hilarious...why not embarrass myself on the internet? ;)

Don't forget my contest/giveaway :) As a reminder you must be a follower through Google Friend Connect and I *will* be keeping all comments on that particular entry screened until the "contest" is over next Friday! Pin It

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oh hey, a giveaway! Of sorts.

I have to be honest, I haven't been feeling the blogging thing lately. At least not on this particular blog. But - I think part of that was because my blog itself looked very blah. I'd changed the name, and I was excited about that, but there was no pretty header, my button was wrong, and yeah...it just wasn't right.

However, as you can see - yay new header! I did my best to give homage to some of my favorites, as you can see, and if you can correctly guess every single book/movie/tv show that is pictured I will give you a PRIZE! 

No really, for real, you'll win a little prize package from me. I swear.
I have no idea what it will be yet but for sure, the first person to guess every thing pictured will get an exciting gift from me :) There will likely be something Disney involved as I go there in two weeks, how about that? In fact, even better, I will TAILOR the prize to whomever wins it! (See the bottom of this entry for full rules and whatnot)

A hint: there are six separate geeky book/movie/tv show "themes" in my header, but if you guess the 7th thing that I've paid homage to (which is somewhat involved with one of the main themes, mind you), I'll give you extra points ;)

Now, normally I don't cross-pollinate my blogs, but I've been doing a ton of posting on my travel blog (There & Back Again: A Traveler's Tales) lately. I have a separate blog for that because I travel a lot and I enjoy talking about my trips, reviewing tours and restaurants and hotels, and if I started posting about my trips here, I'd be posting about 2 entries a day and probably over half of them would be about travel...I just have a lot to say ;) But if you enjoy traveling and want to read more about allll of the travel that I do, check it out! As a teaser, here is a picture from my most recent trip - just two days ago we returned home from 5 days of skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho. It was, in a word, amazing.
Took this right before I hopped off a trail into some glades. That weren't officially ski-able. Thought I should have one last picture of myself in case I, you know, ran into a tree and died. Or whatever. ;)

Giveaway rules/terms: *You MUST be a follower in order to participate. Not to be difficult, but please follow via Google Friend Connect - you can do so on the right side of my page just below my button :) It's kind of difficult to check the blogger followers thing so GFC is really the only "fair" way for me to do this. *I will leave all comments screened until the giveaway ends. *It will end at midnight on Friday 1/27/2012 (or I guess that's sort of Saturday 1/28/2012). *If more than one person guesses all of the things that I paid homage to in my header, I will use a random number generator to pick the winner. *If no one guesses all of them, the person with the most correct guesses will win. *If, for instance, two people guess four things right, again I will use a random number generator to pick between the two. *Please make sure that your email address is either in your comment or easily accessible so that I can contact you if you win!

Good luck!
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Writer's Block Wednesday

Memoir Prompt 
Autobiography. If you had 15 minutes to tell someone who you are, what would you tell them?

A geek...

A writer...

A traveler...

An animal lover...

A secret keeper...

A true friend...

Fun loving...


Not afraid of hard work...



and a survivor.

But I'm also




and sometimes...a little too harsh.

See? I wouldn't even need 15 minutes ;)

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Confessions

I confess...that this coming weekend I will run my first ever 5k and I'm kind of nervous about it. I've set my main goal of running it in 30 minutes or less, but that's probably pushing it...though I think my max time of 35 minutes or less may be attainable, at least. Phew.

I confess...that we had a 70 degree day a little over a week ago and I LOVED it. I am very much *not* a winter person.

I confess...that my cat Stitch has seriously been getting on my nerves lately. He claws the carpet when he wants to go outside, then claws the door frame when he wants to come back in. He's constantly up in my business when I'm trying to cook and eat. Etc. etc. etc. He's always been a bit of a brat but lately it's just So. Much. Worse. And it's starting to drive me nuts. :-/

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

I'm in love...

...with my new running shoes!

No lie, I haven't felt like this about any piece of attire, especially shoes, especially sneakers/running shoes...pretty much ever.

Yeah, that's a size 11. I have huge feet. But hey, I'm 5'8" so at least I *kind of* balance out.

I mean first of all, they're pretty. And bright. Two things that have never really been a requirement for me when I'm picking out running shoes, but they are a definite plus :)

I bought these at Fleet Feet in Greenville. I had never been to a store like this before - a true running store, I mean. All spring, summer and fall I ran in a pair of Vibrams (the toe shoes)...I loved them but it's too cold for that now. Unfortunately the sneakers I was running in last winter were (a) not the best for running, as they were fairly inexpensive Nike cross trainers, and (b) falling apart.

Normally at Fleet Feet they discuss what you are looking for, measure your feet, have you walk around the store while they watch, and have you try on and walk/run in a bunch of different running shoes. However, I pretty much knew what I wanted - a pair of sneakers that would cost me $100 or less and that would emulate as closely as possible that feeling of running on practically nothing that you get from Vibrams. They did measure my feet and walk around a bit, but because I was able to tell them so much about how I run and what I was looking for they were able to narrow the number of pairs of shoes I tried on fairly quickly. I tried three different pairs on but I swear from the moment I put these "Women's Nike Free Run + 2's" on I was in heaven.

I've definitely had buyer's remorse buying far less expensive sneakers than these, which ran me $90, so even though I bought them back on December 26th (yes, I remember, partly because I'm weird like that and partly because it was a holiday from work. or something.) I've put off writing about them because I wanted to make doubly and triply sure that I continued to love, love, love them :) And yes, I do. (do, do. haha)

Seriously, it's like running on air. They don't have a ton of support - which means that they weigh next to nothing and make lifting my feet easier - but it also means that anyone used to running in shoes with really thick soles possibly wouldn't find them quite as comfortable as I do. But to me they are perfect and I'm already dreading the day that the soles are worn out and I have to go searching for another pair just like them ;)

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Let's talk about Spam, baby...

For whatever reason I've been lucky on the spam front, especially recently. That, and I'm not a completely idiot and so far as I can recall I've never fallen for any of the usual spam tricks. You know, "you've won a billion pounds, just send us your bank account number so that we can wire you the money!", or "this Nigerian prince is in trouble and needs YOUR help, if you send us your bank account information we will wire you a very large and completely random amount of money, all you need to do is use some of it to rescue the prince and the rest is yours!"

But today I had a couple spam messages and when I went to delete them I knew I just had to share. First and foremost, I get this same exact message at least once a week. Yes, my resume is still floating around on CareerBuilder, mainly because I'm too lazy to remember my account information and delete it. But my name is not and has never been Marvin...yet every week I get this email from Evan Simms at CareerBuilder and it has always been addressed to Marvin. Also, whereas Anderson is only about an hour away from where I actually live, I would certainly never sign up for job alerts from there. That's a bit too long of a commute.

I just...don't understand.

But that's not all. Today I also bring you news that Mark Zuckerberg contacted ME directly, because he wants to give me an Apple computer or some such nonsense!


I think what may be the most amusing about this is that you can actually see the crappy fake hotmail address that this spam mail came from.

My question is, do people still fall for stuff like this? Because if not why are people still wasting their time sending these emails, if not to simply give us bloggers fun things to write about? ;) Pin It