Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March Desktop Wallpaper

Last month, I posted about my Smashing Magazine desktop wallpaper entry.  They didn't pick it, but I still really enjoyed making it.  I decided to start a new tradition by creating a new wallpaper for each month.

If you'd like to use one these images:
-click on the image to enlarge it
-right click
-save image as
-good to go

This month there are several choices:

smashing magazine entry

Guess what...THEY PICKED THIS ONE. You can see it here on their website.  I checked their website when I was on my break at work.  I literally was jumping up and down (no joke).  Then I called each family member so I could freak out on the phone with them. Char was the gym and Mom didn't pick up.  Luckily Esther was on skype and my dad picked up.  I need to celebrate with someone.  I'm so excited that my hands are literally shaking.  Breath, breath, breath.  Oh. my. goodness.

smashing magazine entry
Here's one for the fam:

We just can't get enough of this little guy and staring at his adorable face all month sounds absolutely perfect.

For me and all the dog lovers out there:

Happy March!
Great things are happening this month and one of them is Cam's second birthday.  Can't wait!

Day 12 - Lasagna Style Baked Ziti

This feeling of fullness that I am experiencing right now is amazing.  This dish was delicious and fast.  Tonight (Monday night) I made Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti from Real Simple.  So good and so filling.  The only negative thing I have to say is that I used a ton of dishes.  Thankfully I have a dishwasher, but seriously, it was a lot of dishes.

Today was my first time going to the butcher counter at Giant.  I was super nervous, so I first tried getting the ground beef from the regular old meat section.  I only needed half a pound, but the smallest amount I could find was over a pound.  I did not know what I would do with the extra meat, so I sucked it up and headed to the butcher.

It was all fine and dandy until the guy asked me "What kind?"  My response - "There are different kinds?"  Dang it, up until then I was actually looking competent.  After looking at percentages and prices, I went with the middle option and chose 85% lean ground beef.  Whatever that means.  All I know is that I had the exact amount I needed.  As I've said before - exact measurements make my brain happy.

My nephew, Cameron, was at my mom's house so I called to say hello.  Sadly, he didn't want to talk to me.  He was too busy playing with the ipad/legos/thomas.  Since I was already on the phone, I asked where to find the ricotta, so I guess this will have to count as one phone call.  I also asked if my 3 week old mozzarella cheese would still be usable.  Turns out that no mold equals good cheese.  Sweet.

Tonight I was a super, excellent multitasker.  While my pasta was cooking, I browned the meat, shredded the cheese, and started my first load in the dishwasher.  I was focused and deliberate.  I looked at the recipe and actually knew how long things would take, so the planning was very smooth.  I didn't even set a timer for the pasta, I just continued to check and taste.  Plain noodles still gross me out, but this time I actually ate the piece I bit off instead of throwing it away.

Charlotte tells me that if I stop seeing the food as gross, then cooking will become more enjoyable.  She's right.  But eggs still gross me out, plain noodles make my mouth feel weird, and don't even expect me to like touching raw chicken.  I'm taking her advice to heart, though, and I'm proud to say that I'm making progress.  I've separated egg whites without cringing, eaten a plain noodle, and touched raw chicken when cutting it.

This dish was so yummy.  The fact that it is smothered in cheese definitely doesn't hurt.  It was pretty filling with the meat and the pasta, but so good.  The recipe says it serves four.  I know that I'm not feeding a bunch of grown men, but you can definitely get more than four servings out of this.  That is a 9x13 inch pan and there is a lot of food in there.

I had my dinner and still had enough left over for five lunches.  Which is awesome because that will last me the rest of this week and next Monday.

1 shopping trip
1 phone call
0 iPhone searches
40 minutes
1 dinner
5 lunches

This completes month 3 of The Awkward Chef challenges.  I'm half temped to change it to The Less-Awkward Chef Challenge.  I'm much more comfortable in the kitchen and I really enjoy my time making dinner.  Just last week I made dinner 3 nights instead of just one, because (believe it or not) I wanted to.  Crazy!

Here's a recap:
Day 1 - Fettucine Alfredo
Day 2 - Curry
Day 3 - Chicken Salad
Day 4 - Spring Risotto
Day 5 - Chicken in Creamy Pan Sauce
Day 6 - Lighter General Tso's Chicken
Day 7 - Ham and Cheese Turnovers
Day 8 - Turkey Caprese Sandwich
Day 9 - Chicken and Pasta Soup
Day 10 - Mac and Cheese
Day 11 - Minute Steak
Day 12 - Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Photo Swap

These photos have been on the wall since I moved in 2 years ago.  It was time for an update.

When I took the frames down to switch out the pictures, it made me realize how nice it is to have them up on the wall.

The change has been nice.  The old photos had become so normal that I never really looked at them anymore.   Plus, you can never have too many pictures of Cameron around.  Since I now have this big picture of Charlie, I replaced the large one of her in the dining room.

Instead of the picture of Charlie, now there's picture from my college graduation with my family.  This photo was actually in the living room and I switched it to the dining room.

Here are the pictures that now fill my living room wall:

Seriously, I can never get enough of this kid.  Those eyes, they kill me.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Very Windy Walk

Last Saturday, after getting all of my errands done, I attempted to take Charlie for a walk at the local park.   There was a wind advisory in effect, but how bad could it be?

ps.  I'm very ready for spring.  Winter pictures are pretty boring without snow and I'm sick of these brown, leafless photos.  Anyway...

Yeah, it was bad.  The temp was only in the 40s so I figured my sweatshirt/windbreaker combo would keep me warm.

I should have guessed how bad it was when I pulled up and there was only one car there.

I didn't want to turn around and leave because we had only just gotten there.  I couldn't take the wind and Charlie wasn't a big fan either.  We were back in the car after her 3 pees and one poop (translation - seven minutes).

Well, she was back in the car.  I wanted to get a couple pics of the geese, so I left her in the warm, wind-free car while I took a few more photos.  My little hunter loves chasing tiny animals, so I knew she wouldn't be good company right then.

As soon as they saw me coming, they headed straight for the water.  I love my 50mm lens, but there's no zoom; so getting some good photos of the geese proved to be pretty impossible.

Even though our walk was very short, it still tired out my little pup.  She got herself all excited and by the time we were in the car she was ready for her nap.  Guess we'll just have to try again another day.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Dub-C

Hello West Chester.  Hello gorgeous architecture.  Hello incredible stonework and history.

I graduated from West Chester University in December of 2008.  I spent 4 1/2 wonderful years at that school.  I didn't know how much I missed it until my friend and I went back last weekend.  We needed some quality time with each other and our cameras, so we headed there for a photo shoot.  Not surprisingly, West Chester was dressed to the nines.

I spend many long evenings in the basement of this lovely library.  Ok, that's a lie.  I spent several hours a semester in the basement of this lovely library.  Finals were the only time I was actually there, but I did enjoy my time.  Ok, that's a lie, too.  Moving on...

This is Melissa, Mel, Melonious.  I met Mel freshman year and we have been friends ever since.  We lived together all through college.  Technically, we lived in separate dorm rooms freshman and sophomore year, but we were only yards apart.

Mel: "Hmm, I should hang from this."
Yes, she is like this all the time.  Yes, I love it.  Yes, we had a very good time together.   Yes, I did it, too.  No, I will not show you that photo.  Again, moving on...

Oh Main.  I took Psych 101 here (on the days I showed up) and I attended Cru meetings here every Thursday night.  By the way, I'm not trying to tell you I skipped a lot of classes or that I barely made it through college.  I'm saying that I knew when I needed to attend and when I didn't.  Let's just leave it at that because this girl graduated with honors.

Can I take this door home with me?  Can it live in my apartment?  I'd be find with that.  Really, I would.  No lie, it was really hard to keep a straight face for that picture.

As we worked our way around the Quad, we ended up at the Castle.  It's the building they used in our logo.  It honestly looks like a castle and it's awesome.

Right at the entrance to the Castle there are whispering arches.  I was on the one side whispering into the arch and Mel could hear it on the other side of the entrance.  It's pretty darn fun.

We spent some more time at the Castle before moving on.  For some reason, most of my pictures were of Mel.  Love that girl.

What can I say?  It's fun to take pictures of her taking pictures.

WC has a beautiful campus and the academic Quad is wonderfully cared for.  The students really respect the campus as well - so I definitely did not have to crop the red solo cup out of this picture.

The details are incredible and the typefaces are beautiful.  Mel and I kept saying that we had never noticed all of the little details.  It was nice to go back with a camera and really see the details of each building.

Parking is at a premium on campus.  That is why I waited outside of this building for 5 hours to get a parking pass my sophomore year.  Seriously.  Five hours.  Starting at 3 am.  Or was it 4?  Either way, much too early.

They put this guy in during my junior or senior year.  He's pretty awesome.  

After spending time in the academic Quad, we walked around the rest of the campus while we waited for the school store to open.  We both needed to update our WCU gear.  I walked away with a new bumper sticker (finally!), three shirts, and a hat.  My wallet may not have been very happy, but I sure was.  

Lastly, we stopped at our favorite pizza place, Amore's, for some much needed sustenance.  Their breadsticks are amazing.  I cannot wait to head back to the dub-c when the leaves are on the trees and get some more pictures.  Thanks for the great day, Mel!