Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 Days of Thankful - Part 3

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but before November ends, let's finish up a few more things I'm thankful for.

November 17th – I should have saved the new babies post for this date because on the 17th I faced my fears and helped Dasha babysit Ellie. I will proudly admit, it was way less terrifying than I’d imagined. Still, when I got home that night I realized how thankful I am to not have a child just yet. Ellie wore me out! Someday I know it’ll be great, but... not today.
Sometimes you just have to feed the kid from the kitchen floor.

November 18th – I am thankful for Fridays! Knowing you get the next day off always makes working so much easier. Especially when you have a long weekend coming up.

November 19th – My mom’s birthday was the 19th. I already said how thankful I am for her; I am also thankful for the things that make her happy. Some of those things are the same as mine (sunshine, bros, Kansas) but they also include things like Survivor, Kayaking, and Yogurt. I am thankful for those things, and that she gets to visit Chris and I for Christmas this year.

November 20th – I am thankful for my home. The Bastrop fires this fall really put this one into perspective for me. I'm really glad I have a kitchen, couch, laundry room, TWO bathrooms, and nice comfy bed to come home to every day.

November 21st – I am thankful for paid-time-off. PTO may be the best perk from a salaried position. I took half of Tuesday and all of Wednesday off for Thanksgiving and BOY do I thank my boss and my company for our extremely lax vacation policy. Unlimited days?! Thank you very much.

November 22nd - I am thankful for potlucks! Our work Thanksgiving feast was epic. We had so many potatoes, beans, stuffings, and my orange-chipotle spiced pecans. Potlucks are so much fun because you only have to cook a small amount, but together you create such a big meal with such a fun variety of flavors. Delicious.
November 23rd – Hanging out with high school friends in Kansas is always so interesting to me. Some aspects of our personalities have changed so much from what we were like back at North, but other parts are exactly the same. I am really thankful I got to spend a little time with Katie and Jonas this past weekend. If only we all lived in the same city all the time.
UT football game feast, thanks Davidows.

November 24th – Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for food. I love food and I’m very thankful it's readily available to me.
Thanksgiving dinner at my dad's.

November 25th – On “Black Friday” my mom took my brothers and me to the KC Zoo. I hadn’t been to the zoo in years and it was pretty amusing to return. We all felt it was a much more positive experience to explore in the brisk 45 degrees than it is in the sweltering 95 degree KC summers. Even though I don’t like animals, I am thankful that they can provide joy to others. Some people really like animals, so I guess I'm glad they’re around.
Can you spot the Roo?

November 26th – I am thankful for the newspaper. Another one of my favorite parts about Kansas is reading my mom’s Kansas City Star. I don’t get the paper here, so I love reading it when it’s available. And, I am also thankful for crossword puzzles.

November 27th – I am thankful for my salary. That twice a month paycheck keeps me afloat and without it I know I’d be stressing like crazy.

November 28th – I am thankful for Christmas time! I brought back all my favorite ornaments for Chris' and my first tree together, and I even made a wreath.
You can make it too.

November 29th – Like last year, my friends and I have chosen two charities for the holidays. We’re adopting a local family through Any Baby Can, and we’re buying some ducks through the Heifer organization. I am really thankful everybody was excited to participate in these organizations again. I am also thankful I've gotten a little less scrooge-like with my money over the years.
Nate's pillow friend, from last year.

November 30th – Thirty whole things! Did I forget anything? I have so many things to be thankful for; it’s hard to pick and choose the “best ones.” I guess one final thing I am really thankful for is the inspiration and support to start blogging again (aka, you). Blogging has been very therapeutic for me. I’m thankful I got my act together on that one.

Ok two final pics from Thanksgiving break.
Crackers the cat.

A tree in my dad's lawn. This picture was taken on Wednesday morning. By Sunday, that tree was almost totally leaf-less.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

30 Days of Thankful - Part 2

I tried to start this blog post on Sunday night, but the creativity was not flowing. Something about sitting on the couch snuggling with Khyra made me want to shut my laptop and grab a book (or the TV remote). I suppose I don't really do computers on the weekend anymore... sitting in front of them all day M-F at work makes me say to myself on weekends, "Oh, it can wait until Monday."

Or Wednesday...

Shall we continue?

November 9th - I am thankful for my education. Without a degree I would never have gotten my job. Despite how crappy college turned out to be for me, I'm very glad I stuck it out and graduated.
With Shirin and Alex before UT's December Commencement
November 10th - I am thankful for my mom and pops. Thanks for college! For high school play costumes, band uniforms, instruments, dance classes, flute lessons, and everything else you sponsored. Thanks for coaching me through job interviews and nagging me to "follow up!" Thanks for helping me with my spelling words, state capitals, and the dreaded bug project. Thanks for treating me like an adult at the appropriate time and for punishing me when I acted like a bratty brat. Thanks for encouraging me to do whatever I want, still! Way to go guys, keep it up.
Last month, at Gingerman

In Fredericksburg, last spring

November 11th - Even though Hank and Reg will always do weird things, I sure am thankful for my bros. Growing up would not be the same without them and their gross friends. I realized it a lot during my Christmas vacation with Chris' family last year. He has two brothers too, and when all three of them were together last year, it was very similar to Hank and Reg's behavior. Oh, except now they are all 20-somethings and thus even bigger and louder. So, thanks to the training I got for what boys do. Wresting... farting... yah, that’s about all boys do.

November 12th – I did the weather, I did my friends, but I didn’t do AUSTIN! I am so thankful I decided to go to UT and met Chris and stayed in Austin. Texas sucks, but Austin is terrific. There are so many random things to do and so many new neighborhoods to discover. It’s urban, it’s rural, it’s residential and through the last few years, it’s become home.
Photo from, 365 Things to Do in Austin, taken yesterday morning.

November 13th – And even though I love Austin, I love Kansas too. I am thankful I get to travel next week and spend Thanksgiving in KC. Kansas was such a great home for me for so many years. I met some of my best friends there, had some awesome seasons (spring and fall- like none other), and had a really great education. Kansas shaped me into who I am. So thanks Sunflower State; I can’t wait to come visit you!
Us girls at the Royal's Game

November 14th – One thing I’ll always think of right away when I think about Kansas is theatre. It used to be such an enormous part of my life and I’m super thankful for all the skills I learned, the confidence I gained, and the memories I have from my early week-long theatre camps, elementary school “plays,” The Wall of Fame, CCS, Drama Conference, and BVN Rep Theatre. Theatre gave me a lot of direction (ha) and I’m very thankful it was/is? such a huge part of my life.

November 15th – I never thought I’d say this is important enough to put it on my list, but I am thankful for new babies. First there was Ellie, then my step-family’s kid, then Avery, another step-family’s kid on the way, and next March we’ll have Baby Hutson. I still think babies are super weird, but they can also be really amusing and cute.
Baby Ellie at TWO weeks old. She was so tiny!

November 16th – Today seems like the perfect day to do it because Chris comes home from Germany today! I sure am thankful I met him. I’m thankful he got to go to Germany for work and am thankful he gets to come home too. I definitely didn’t think I’d miss him as much as I did. Guess I like him. :-)
Fall 2008

Only one more Thanksgiving post to go. November is flying by.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Super Easy Dinner You MUST Make and What I Did Yesterday

First of all, let me share this recipe that I’ve verbally shared with a few girlfriends over the past week or so. It takes like… 15 minutes to make and it is terrific. This blog might as well be known as “Jane Cooks what Iowa Girl Eats,” because per-usual, that’s where I found it.

Crispy Gnocchi w/ Goat Cheese and Pesto
1 Package Gnocchi. Usually I buy whole-wheat, but because I really wanted Chris to like this, I bought regular, potato. Next time I’ll go back to whole-wheat. Also, do you know how to say “gnocchi?” For years, I’ve been ignorantly referring to it as “ga-nosh.” Ohhh silly Jane. It’s pronounced, “noh-key.” Now, aren’t you smart! Oh, and it’s found in the pasta aisle.
1/4-1/3 cup Pesto. I just used HEB-brand, which I conveniently already had in the fridge. Love it when that happens. But, you could also make your own.
2-3 oz Goat Cheese/Chevre. Ok, so I bought a 4 oz log, and ended up using all of it. It was definitely too much cheese (woah, cannot believe I just said that). So, next time I will only use half the log. You can also use crumbles, so use about 2-3 oz of it. Or less/more. Be free with your cheese people.
1 regular sized pack of cherry or grape tomatoes. I LOVE cherry tomatoes. I used about ¾ of the pack of "Sunbursts". I’d say use about a cup and half, or so. Again, it depends on how much you like them. Actually, if you don't like them, you probably shouldn't make this. OH, but be sure to cut them in half. This avoids the “squirting in your mouth” affect that I totally um… dislike.
A little bit of EVOO (for the skillet)

I followed One Cup Awesome’s directions for the rest of it. So, I’ll redirect you there. Just skillet-cook the gnocchi in the EVOO, then add the tomaters, remove from heat, add the pesto and top with cheese. And that was from memory folks. Oh and PS it says it serves 4… yah right. Maybe 3… this stuff will go FAST. As he was eating it, Chris said, “Wow, Jane, can we have this for dinner every night?!”

Ok, so as I mentioned before, I wanted to focus this blog a bit more on what makes this city so fabulous. Yesterday after work, I found another reason. Manuels. DUDE. Best queso of my life. I don't know how they do it, but it was almost like cheddar cheese queso. Like... macaroni and cheese ish. Blew me away. And the tortillas? oohhhhman. And it’s so close to my house. Wonderful service. Delicious drinks. Reasonable prices. It was really quite lovely.

So after my $7 glass of Tempranillo (I said reasonably, not cheap) I headed home to whip up the Pintrest find that’s been on my list for quite some time,
Honeycrisp Apple Sangria.

Scott’s birthday party is tonight, so I’m going to bring this deliciously fruity beverage over to celebrate. It’s marinating at home in the fridge as I type, and I can hardly wait for after work when I have a little sample glass.

Then, since I’m all wild and crazy boyfriendless, I cuddled up on the couch with the kitty and watched yesterday’s ANTM. Stay beautiful, Greece, for I promise to visit you someday.
Isn't it so funny how Greece's economy has been all screwy and sad, and conveniently enough they pick this year to send the Top Model crew over there? How funny.

Happy weekend friends!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Days of Thankful - part 1

Ok, I know I’m several days behind on this, but I really like the idea. Every day in November, people have been posting on their blog/facebook about various things they are thankful for. Check out my friend Rachel’s posts about her hubs, siblings, and the military. I’m thankful she has those things too. But I’m also thankful for 8 other things! So, let’s just pretend I did these on the correct dates.

November 1st- I know I’ve said this before, but I am ever-so-thankful for my Austin framily. We have the best times together playing sports, board games, cooking, laughing, and sometimes crafting. Austin would not mean what it does to me without them.
Warrior Dash, Fall 2010

November 2nd – Speaking of Austin, another thing I’m very thankful for is sunshine, and here in Texas, we sure do get a lot of it. I once read an article about people actually being addicted to the sun. Like, in the same sense you can be addicted to coffee. I’m pretty sure I’m one of those people. Good thing it’s almost always sunny here.
Sarah and I at Kite Fest last March.

November 3rd – I’ll just segue right along here, with the third thing I’m thankful for… coffee. I know I’m addicted to it, because a morning is never happy without a little cup ‘o jo. I blame my parents for starting me on this path. It was they who first suggesting I start drinking coffee before my freshman year 8am classes. If not for their encouragement, I’d probably still be saying, “No, I only like Frappuccinos.” But since then, I drink just a cup or two every day. Any less than that and I’ll get a headache and just NEVER seem to wake up. Anymore than that and I’m practically drunk with energy. Not to say it isn’t hilariously entertaining…
November 4th – I am thankful for my happy childhood. On Fridays for the past few months, Chris and I have played in a coed soccer league. Playing soccer today is just as hard for me as it was when I was a little kid. I remember my mom and dad being actively involved in all my brothers’ and my activities. Although I wasn’t developed enough to appreciate it, I am so thankful that they were willing to sacrifice their own interests to coach us, drive us, and watch us from the stands.

November 5th - Playing soccer makes me think of running, which makes me think of nice weather (kind of already covered that) and another very important thing to be thankful for… my health! When I hurt my back a few weeks ago I once again realized how important it is to build strong bones and muscles. So people, try to walk more. Heck, maybe even run. Get outside. Do stuff. I bet you will return even happier than when you left the house. So, I am thankful I healed up from all my injuries so quickly. I am thankful that I have good lungs and strong legs that allow me to walk and run.
and jump too!

November 6th – Chris left for Germany Sunday morning, leaving me alone for 10 days. Alone, hahaha, silly me. I am not alone. For I am thankful for Khyra. Khyra cat and I had some serious bonding time Sunday afternoon as I watched the last few episodes of Sex and the City and moved right along into the movie. Khyra loves me. And… I think I’ve learned to love her too.
November 7th - In keeping with my "Vegetarian for 10 Days" goal, last night I made zucchini pizzas for dinner. They were topped with mountains of veggies and were seriously delicious. I couldn't follow the recipe exactly, as it instructed one to first grill the zucchini slices, like, on a grill. Well, for one, it was raining last night (RAIN!) and for two, I'm not the grillmaster in this little household. So, as enterprising as I am, I grilled them on one of my most favorite inventions ever, and oh, how I am thankful for my George Forman Grill. Chris hates this little device, but I still use it all the time. I'm sure my love for this $15 appliance developed from the weird infatuation my friends had with it. I then passed it along to my family, who quickly fell in love with theirs too. So, thanks "Georgie" (as my mom calls it) for helping me grill my zucchini, sandwiches, and other delicious meals.
November 8th – TODAY. See, it was easy to catch right back up! I’ve been meaning to do a whole entire post about this little love of mine, yet something else always seems to come up. So, in a quick little blurb… I am thankful for the public library! Free books are one of the greatest things ever. I've used the Austin Public Library to read bestsellers like, Bossypants, The Hunger Games, and most recently, Jane Lynch's autobiography,
Learned a lot.

I just got notice that my next requested book is available for pick up, so after work tonight I'm gonna run over there to pick up,
Libraries are just the best.

What are you thankful for??

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Doesn’t it feel like it has already been weeks since Halloween? It’s only November THIRD. Wait a second, it’s already November THIRD?!?! Thanksgiving Day is only THREE WEEKS from today!?!? I’m going home to Kansas this year, as I did last year. I decided Christmas in Kansas is much too cold, so I’ll just keep going back up there for Turkey Day. It’s still a bit cold, but much, MUCH more tolerable.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Our dear friends Nate and Ericka (Nericka) had a smashing Halloween party on Friday. Naturally, I made some snacks.
Thanks to Pinterest, I found these adorable mummy-looking pigs in a blanket. I forgot to take a pic of the after shot, but they basically looked just like this.
Also, courtesy of Alison’s facebook pic, I copied her brilliantly simple idea for the ghost-cheese sticks.
And thirdly, once again I took Iowa Girl Eat’s recipe for CRACK DIP. Seriously people, this is dangerously delicious. I made 2 batches using the puff corn suggestion. This might become an annual dish.
It was scary good.

Here’s a few shots of Chris and my AWARD WINNING Halloween costumes this year.
Ms. Frizzle and the School Bus.

A Devil, Pinterest, Ms. Frizzle, Pinky, Kelly Kapowski, and Leela.

We had a magical time at Nericka’s party.
Also this weekend, Chris parents’ and my dad and his wife did their first ever meet and greet, coinciding with the UT v. KU game.
Oh, and did I mention I got a new camera for my birthday? I LOVE it.

So, the boyfriend leaves for Germany on Sunday. After nearly 5 years at his company, he finally gets to visit their German office. I’m stoked for him. And, back in Austin, for 10 whole days, I’m going to go to read so many books, go to sleep by 10pm and only cook vegetarian meals. Get ready, it might get crazy.