Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Spanish Rice

Last night I decided to make Spicy Turkey Burgers for dinner.  I needed something to go with it, but didn't want the boring standard rice...So I made "Spanish Rice."  Spanish Rice is something of my childhood.  My mom made it every so often and I really love it.  However, I've never attempted it on my own.  My mom wasn't home yet when I decided to make it, so I called Nonni (my grandmother) to figure out what to do..

"Hi Nonni!"
"Hi!  How was your first day??"
"Oh, this is Camille"
"Oh, haha! You sounded just like Stephanie."
"Haha.  I think today was her first day...Anyway, how do I make Spanish Rice?"
"Oh, it's easy, here's what to do:"

I took her instructions, and adapted them a little bit (I think I did a mix of what she does and what my mom does....)

PS - before you make this recipe, please note that I made WAYYYY too much rice.  Why I made this much for 3 people is completely beyond me....So tread with caution....And make at least half this amount.

Spanish Rice
Brown Together (until the rice is browned and the onions are translucent):
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups rice (I used brown rice to be healthy, but white rice is even better!)
Rice, Onion, and Pepper browning up in oil

4 cups water
1 large chopped tomato and the juices (or 1 can diced tomato)
2 tsp salt
 Everything in the pot!

Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 30 mins

And Voila!  You've got Spanish Rice!!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Matters

  1. My husband and I own a condo in Providence, RI over near Brown University.  We just recently (like at the beginning of August) started renting it out.  We had to go over there Sunday Morning because "the dishwasher wouldn't work" and "the light and fan in the bedroom stopped working".  Somehow the tenants broke the dishwasher so I have Sears coming to fix it today (thank goodness it's still under warranty).  There was nothing wrong with the light and fan except that they pulled the chain enough times so that they shut the fan off and the bulbs blew out.  I'm already not a fan of being a landlord...

  2. Friday night, my mom and I made the most amazing dinner.  I mean, seriously.  Amazing.  She bought ground beef to make burgers but we ended up making meatloaf burgers (it was a compromise since we couldn't decide if we wanted burgers or meatloaf).  And we ate them on bagels.  I forgot to take a picture of them - so that must mean that I will have to make them again so I can blog about them and have a picture to show for it.

  3. My mom is a teacher and she is going back to teaching art (she taught art for 14 years, then did elementary ed for 6 years, and now she's back to art).  While she was going through her samples Sunday night, she found projects that my sister and I did back in 1st or 2nd grade.  It was a list of facts with a self portrait and at the bottom it said, "Who Am I?"  The most amusing part of mine was the part that said, "I want to be a Bus Driver."  

  4. After being at my mom's for 3 weeks, Scott and I finally put our clothes into drawers Sunday.  We can actually walk around the room!!  Woot!!

  5. I'm starting to get the itch to bake.  It doesn't have to be anything fancy.  I'm thinking either brownies or cookies.  Either way, I'll take pictures.  And blog.  And probably give most of them to my dad so that I don't eat them.

  6. I'm trying to gather up ideas for quick breakfasts on the go and quick, easy to fix dinners.  I've so far decided on making lots of waffles and freezing them so that I can have my own form of Eggo Waffles. For dinners, I've been getting a lot of ideas from being at mom's house.

  7. The past few years, we've attempted to go apple picking and we've always gone too late in the season.  I'm determined to go early this year so that I can pick yummy apples and make yummy apple things.  Like Apple Pie.  And Apple Crisp.  I have an AMAZING recipe for Apple Crisp.

  8. The cafeteria at work states that it's open until 2:30 every day.  But every day they start packing up the food at 1:30 (and it seems to be getting earlier than that!) and they get snippy when you ask them to make a simple sandwich.  Work, you fail.  The only good part of this is that I'm forced to bring a lunch (and therefore don't spend as much money).

  9. Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE ice cream?  And it doesn't even have to be good ice cream.  I don't discriminate...I love it all.  My favorite?  Soft Serve Vanilla with Rainbow Jimmies (yes, they're jimmies, not sprinkles, so don't even try arguing with me about it).  My current favorite place to get it?  Riverside Creamery.  There may be better places out there with fancier kinds of ice cream, but I like the simple stuff.  Delicious.

  10. Laundry really isn't so bad when you don't have to go down 3 flights of stairs to do it.  I actually don't even mind it.  But don't tell my husband that ;-)

  11. Just got back from the gym - another Tae Bo / Core class.  38 minutes and burned 408 calories.  Not bad!!  Only downside - everyone can plainly see that I went to the gym....My face is like a tomato!
Everyone will know that I worked hard at the gym today....For at least the next hour!  Look at the color in my face!  Can you say TOMATO???  PS - the angle of the picture makes me look like a bobble head!  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Burn those Calories!!

I mentioned in this week's Monday Matters that I bought a Heart Rate Monitor.  Well, it did come in on Monday afternoon and I have been using it all week!  It's fabulous!!!  I bought a Polar FT4, and it says it's specifically "for females" - I really think that they say that because the watch itself is a little more feminine than a big black hunk of watch.  You can still preset all of the settings, and you still have to choose between male and female when you do the initial setup.

In any case, I have been using it all week.  The greatest thing about the FT4 is that it has the capability to calculate calories burned, as well as store historical data (so I can look back at my other workouts and not just "today's").  It's super easy, you just wet the sensors on the chest strap, clip it around your chest (I tuck mine right into my sports bra so it doesn't move), hit the on button on the watch, and it starts.  You can pause the recording, and you can review the time and calories while it's still recording.  AND you can wear it as a regular watch even while you're not exercising!!

Here are my last few work-outs using the FT4:

Tuesday:  Cardio Interval Training (at work):  45 minutes, 503 calories burned
Wednesday:  Tae Bo (at work):  40 minutes, 480 calories burned
Thursday:  Zumba (at work):  53 minutes, 536 calories burned

I was super curious what workout would get me the most calories burnt.  Technically, looking at the past 3 days, I could argue that Zumba burned the most.  But that was also the most time....So the engineer in my has come out.  I extrapolated the data to see what the calories would be if all three workouts were 1 hour...


Calories  burned @ 60 minutes
Cardio Interval Training
Tae Bo

Now I have to admit.  The Zumba class that I did at work was with a substitute instructor, and it wasn't as intense as a usual class, nor was it as intense as some of the classes I've done at World Gym (with Sara or Gina).  So there is definitely room for error in the potential calories to burn in a full hour.  

But regardless of which workout I do, I think that the amount of "calories burned" is going to be pretty high on the list!!!

Since I have been counting calories on MFP, this is a huge help - now I don't have to rely on the machines for calories burned and I have a better estimate of calories burned when exercising off the machines!!

My new heart rate monitor - Polar FT4 - watch and strap

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The REAL Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

I recently posted that while I really didn't know how to make the perfect hard boiled egg, I was going to try some methods to get there.

Those methods went out the window this morning.  All it took was 1 simple change.  This morning, I made hard boiled eggs for Scott to eat when he got home from his workout (I also made a couple for me and my mom).  I decided that instead of letting the water come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 12 minutes (I got that method from watching the Barefoot Contessa on TV), I would just let them boil for 10 minutes.  As I mentioned before, cooking the the BC's way makes perfectly cooked yolks....But I lost most of the whites when I tried to get the shells off!

SO...The result of this morning's experiment??  Perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs....And the shells came off with no problem!!!

It's the little things that make me happy :o)

Perfectly cooked yolks

Beautiful hard boiled eggs!
Scott's breakfast this morning - hard boiled eggs, a toasted English Muffin and Strawberries

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Matters

  1. I got to see my best friend - Katie - from UMASS this weekend.  While the boys went out and did Bachelor Party things, we got to hang out and chill.  And eat nachos at The Forge.  I loved it.
    1. I got to go to a dress fitting with her - her Wedding Dress is AMAZING.  I love it.  Everything about it.  
    2. We went to the outlets in Lee and I bought some clothes at Ann Taylor.  I love buying stuff for 40% and 60% off.  I felt guilty about buying myself clothes so I bought stuff for Scott, too.  
    3. Katie introduced me to GrooveShark.  I love it.  It's amazing.  It's like Pandora, but you can pick your own music.  No more trying to listening to Queen and having to listen to Bon Jovi (sorry!!)

  2. I went on my first Bike Ride of the season last week (I have been such a slacker this year).  My front tire is currently completely flat.  Like, no air at all.  Last year the problem was my back tire.  This year?  Front.  I think it's time for new tires.

  3. I am in LOVE with having a grill at my disposal.  Since we're staying at my mom's house until our house is done, we have the luxury of taking advantage of all her stuff.  Including her gas grill.  We had a grill at the condo, but who honestly feels like going down 3 flights of stairs just to make a hot dog?  NOT ME!!  Having a grill right off the kitchen = amazing.

  4. Friends who are teachers are getting ready to go back to school.  I've heard a lot of complaining.  No one wants to go back...  Guess what, people?  I don't get 2 1/2 months off in the summer.  I work right through.  So stop your complaining and get to work.  (NOTE:  I understand that teachers work hard and that some teachers use their summer break to prepare for the following year - this isn't a slight on the job that they do, it's just a statement).

  5. I signed up for Groupon and have the Application send me "Push Notifications" on my phone.  I honestly find it super annoying.  But the deals are good.  I've bought pillows so far.  They're still in the box....

  6. I recently bought myself a heart rate monitor with the capability to count calories as you exercise.  I've been doing really well counting calories and exercising since we got back from Martha's Vineyard (I'm down 6 lbs since coming home!!).  I am just really interested in seeing actual calores burned rather than what the machine says or what MFP says.  USPS says it left the sort facility in Providence this morning.  I hope that means it will be at the house when I get home today!!!

  7. When I got home from visiting Katie yesterday, Scott and I sat on the couch and chatted about our weekends.  I told him about mine, he edited about his (I don't think I want to know all the gory details of a bachelor party, anyway).  In any case, while we chatted, we had the DIY network on tv, and Rehab Addict was on.  Good premise.  Annoying host lady.

  8. It's interesting working out at the gym at work.  I find it convenient, but I really don't like working out with people I know (and have previously refused me jobs I've interviewed for).  Last week, one of those people was on a treadmill.  She always amuses me.  She walks at 4.0, and the whole time, she listens to her portable CD player and every 30 seconds or so, she puts her arms over her head and pumps her arms.  In any case, last week she got off the treadmill and walked into the locker room without shutting off the machine.  It just kept going.  I got off my machine and shut hers off.  

  9. Completely obsessed with The Big Bang Theory.  September 27th can't come soon enough.

  10. I like One Direction.  How embarrassing.

  11. I got the idea of Monday Matters from Tuesday Things.  Sometime's it's just fun to have a post of ideas that don't have anything to do with each other.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer Olympics Recap

The Olympics always make me so happy.  I get so excited to see all of the athletes, and watch the sports that I don't usually get to see on regular TV.  While some of the sports don't interest me at all (Like some of the field events like shot-put), I get super excited for quite a few events:

In order of interest:

  1. Swimming - I think these events interest me the most mainly because I was a swimmer in high-school.  I understand the different strokes and the nuances of the sport.  
  2. Gymnastics - I love gymnastics because it is something I always wished I could do, but other than taking a few lessons at the YMCA when I was young, I never developed a talent for it.
  3. Diving - To me, diving is like a combination of swimming and gymnastics, and I find it so much fun to watch.  I love seeing the size of the splash (or lack thereof) and the different flips that they do.
  4. Track (the short events) - I love watching the short (like 100 meter) events.  It amazes me that someone can run a distance like that in only 10 seconds.  While I'm not a runner (I'm more of one of those joggers who's about to fall down in the middle of the street), I love the sprinting events!

We were on vacation the main week that the Olympics was on TV, so we ended up watching quite a bit, and it made vacation a lot of fun.  We all enjoyed watching the same (and a few different) sports, so it made it fun to root for the USA.

While other sports don't make my top-4 list, I also enjoy watching tennis, water polo, rowing, cycling, and volleyball (indoor and beach).

I could honestly care less about watching Basketball in the Olympics.  I watch it during regular season and it's all the same people so I don't need to watch it now.  Plus, I find it very difficult to root for the USA when Lebron James is on that team.  Just Sayin'.  Also, there are just some events that I have never gotten into, like synchronized swimming, badminton, archery, and field hockey.  While I don't dislike the sport, I just am not into them.  

What are your favorite Summer Olympic Sports?  Do you have any fun Olympic Traditions??

PS - What did you think of the USA Swimming's rendition of Call Me Maybe??

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

I have to warn you.  I don't know how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg.  I feel like I've seen a million different ways to do it, each one claiming to be the best way.  

My husband works out with a friend in the mornings (the do cross-fit together), and I've been trying to have eggs waiting for him when he gets home - he needs the protein as soon as possible after exercising.  So far, I've hard-boiled the eggs twice, and I've tried two different (but similar) methods and the result has been the same.  Eggs, cooked well (and by well, I mean that the yolk is not overcooked, and there is no yucky green line separating the yolk from the white).

My hard boiled egg, cooked to perfection!

It's safe to say that I've mastered the method to get eggs cooked properly.  What I HAVEN'T mastered is the method to get the shells off easily without getting the egg white caught on the shell (see picture below).

Hard Boiled Eggs.  While the center may be cooked to perfection, I haven't mastered the art of peeling the shells off.
So what's the big deal?  I want to be able to peel the shells off, without pulling off half of the whites.  That's the deal.  Let's start at the beginning:

I put 4 hard boiled eggs in a small pan and filled the pan with water (can covered the eggs with about 1 inch of water).  I put them on the stove, and set the stove to high heat.  As soon as the eggs came to a boil (almost a boil - I didn't want the water to boil too much and crack the eggs), I lowered the heat to low, and set the kitchen timer to 12 minutes.

Now here's where the variation comes into place.  The first time I made the eggs, I put the pot in the sink, and let luke-warm water flow from the tap into the pot, and eventually all of the water cooled down.  Then, I just put the eggs on the counter for Scott to eat when he got home.  The result was that the peels came off in tiny little pieces, and a lot of the whites came off with it.  They basically looked just like the picture above.  This morning when I made the eggs, I did the same thing, but then actually peeled the eggs right away.  I thought that maybe by peeling the eggs while they were still wet it would help.  Not so much.  I got the same result.

So after much online research on how to boil eggs and get the shells off easily, I've found some tips:
  • Use old eggs.
    • This struck me as weird as first, but I think I understand what she's saying.  If the eggs were just put on the shelf in the supermarket, they're really fresh....And apparently fresh eggs don't peel easily.  hmm.  seems weird.  But then I remembered.  How many times did our parents buy white eggs for coloring at Easter time?  How often did they sit in the fridge for a week before we colored them?  And then after we boiled them it was another week before we ate them?  And then I thought.....All those eggs were easy to peel.  So ok.  Maybe I should boil a bunch of eggs on Sunday.  Then Scott can eat them gradually throughout the week (within 5 days of boiling them), and they'll be easier to peel after sitting in the fridge.....OK.  It's an idea.
  • Let the eggs sit in cold water (cold water filled with ice) for 10 minutes before peeling and then peel the eggs under running water.  
    • This sounded pretty decent.  While they're in the cold water, steam will form between the egg and the shell.  When going to crack the eggs, do it under running water and grab a whole of the membrane when pulling off the shell. This is something I'm probably going to try the next time I make eggs for Scott.
  • Add salt to the pot when boiling
    • There was no reason.  They just said it helps to not pull whites off with the shells.  I could try this.
So that's only 3 things.... But they all have valid points.  I think the main thing is not to try all of these suggestions at one time.  If I get eggs that are easy to peel, I won't know which method was the best method (oooo the Six-Sigma-Black-Belt-Certified-Engineer is coming out in me.  Maybe I should set up a DOE??? haha).  I also don't want to try to fix the problem of difficult-to-peel eggs and then have yucky yolks, since my eggs are so well cooked already.  In any case, I will definitely try some of these methods and report back!

Let's hope to some good results!!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

And we're back!!

I didn't realize that it had been a whole month since my last post.  Since then, a lot has happened, and I think my overwhelming schedule has really gotten the best of me.  (FYI - I just starting singing Best of Me by The Starting Line in my head....)

Since my last post, a LOT has happened.  I'll give you a brief rundown.  And then hopefully my I can continue to move on with my blogging.

So....Here goes:

I spend most of the month of July packing up our Condo.  The rent for our tenants officially started on August 1, so we were really under the gun to get all of our stuff out of there.  This proved to be an extremely difficult task.  Why?  BECAUSE WE HAVE SO MUCH STUFF!!!  My mother was a huge help - she came over multiple times and helped me pack up my life.  And as she said, it really looks like we have been married for 20 years instead of 2.  Yes, that's really how much stuff we have.  We rented a storage unit at Mink Street Storage, which is a stone's throw away from the house.  We filled up a 10x10 unit with no problem, and we actually had to reserve a second 5x10 unit (and yes, we still had more stuff that couldn't fit - which is now spread out between my mother's basement, her garage and the storage unit in the condo building).  All of the furniture and some of the boxes were moved on Saturday, July 21 (My brother helped us quite a bit).  More boxes were moved during the week (Thanks to my cousin Carolyn).  The rest of everything we had was moved out between Thursday and Friday.  

To complicate matters even more, we had a contractor at the Condo ripping out the carpet from the 2 bedrooms and putting in engineered hardwood floors, as well as repainting the bathroom.  So we had to work around him to pack everything that was remaining (we finished around 11pm on Friday, July 27 - since we were leaving for Vacation on the 28th, we needed to give the tenants the keys a couple days early).  I think it's safe to say that I was about 2 degrees away from crazy.

We left the condo fully furnished for our tenants, and I have to say, it looked AMAZING.  If I were a student, I would want to live there.  The kitchen was left fully furnished with a table/4 chairs, plates, bowls, mugs, glasses, silverware, utensils, knives, a coffee pot and a few more extras I can't even think of right now.  The common/living area was left furnished with a reclining love-seat  reclining chair, coffee table, rug, television and stand.  Two of the bedrooms were furnished with a full-sized bed, dresser, desk and chair (the third bedroom was tenant furnished - and it doesn't compare to the other two rooms).  It really is a sight to be seen and we were really proud of the end result!!

ONe of the bedrooms set up with a bed (there is a desk to the left and a dresser to the right, too!)

Kitchen Table and Chairs

Living area with Sofa and Recliner...We added a coffee table in, too!

So Friday we handed over the keys, and that night we slept at my mom's house.  Since the house isn't ready yet, we're staying there in the interim (as I told one of my friends, we are temporarily homeless and staying at my mom's until the house is ready).  We still have a few things left to do at the condo, but since they are little things, we said we would get to them after our vacation.  

So vacation:  

I woke up Saturday morning with my ankles still hurting from all the physical work that I did on Thursday and Friday.  My ankles were actually swollen (YES SWOLLEN), and I was not a happy camper. We woke up at the crack of dawn and started packing for our trip, as well as running to the market for food for the week.  Our friends Mallory and Josh picked us up, and we were off to Woods Hole to pick up the Ferry to Martha's Vineyard.  Now, we went to MV last year with the same group of people, and I'd say we had just as much fun, if not more.  We did a lot of different things than last year, and it was really a great trip!  We brought Mal and Josh's car over (it made it so much easier bringing food - we didn't have to carry it on the boat) and we also brought our bikes (which we didn't ride AT ALL this year).  So here's a quick rundown:

Our Rented house in Edgartown!

Saturday:  Travel Day.  We got to the house, met up with the other couples who were going (we all got there at different times), played some yard drinking games, and Scott and I made a run to the liquor store for some stuff.

Sunday:  Nate's only day.  Kristen's husband was only able to stay for a full day, so we spent the day down in Oak Bluffs, walking around and doing some shopping.  We rounded out the night with Macaroni and Cheese - and even though my ankles were more like cankles and I was EXHAUSTED, it was my best batch ever.  

The Gayhead Lighthouse

The Cliffs at Gayhead
Monday:  Beach day!  We took a ride down to Gayhead, explored the cliffs and the lighthouse, and went down to the beach.  Gayhead is a dry town, but you're allowed to BYOB to the beach - as long as you sit in a specific area.  So that we did.  I think I got most of my tan this day...

Our Entertaining bartenders!

Tuesday:  Edgartown.  We spent the day in Edgartown, shopping and exploring.  The morning was beautiful, but when we all met up for lunch at the Seafood Shanty, it looked like everything was clouding over.  After lunch, we all separated again, and then ended up meeting at the bar at Seafood Shanty again, where it proceeded to POUR, the bar emptied out and we had a great time drinking too much and hanging out with our Lobster and Shark Bartenders.  Kristen left Tuesday night - we almost had her convinced to stay another night, but no dice :(

Scott and Me, at the Wasque Beach

Wednesday:  Mal, Josh, Scott, and I all went to Chappaquiddick on Wednesday while Ed and Courtney went to Oak Bluffs.  We took the car over on the On Time and got to explore more than last year (since we couldn't take the bikes on the dirt roads last year).  We got to see the the Mytoi Gardens, the infamous Ted Kennedy Bridge, and the Wasque Point and Beach.  

Thursday:  FISHING CHARTER!  I think this was my high point of the trip.  Mallory did all of the scouting for charters and we found a great boat that held about 30 people, and took us a few miles off the coast of Oak Bluffs.  We had an amazing time, and actually got to keep the fish that we caught.  It really was a great experience, and I'd love to do it again!!

Friday:  Kind of an everything day.  Courtney and Ed made themselves breakfast, and Scott and I headed out to have breakfast at The Edgartown Inn (which I would definitely recommend if you have the chance).  Scott and I did a little bit of shopping in Oak Bluffs and I finally found a hooded sweatshirt that I like.  We met up with the group in the afternoon to go out to Menemsha to see the sun set.  Unfortunately, as soon as we got there, the skies clouded over and there was no sun to be seen!  We'll have to add it to the list of things to do next year.  :)  We did find out, however, that Quint's cabin (in the movie JAWS), was filmed here!!
A couple of boats at the docks in Menemsha

Saturday:  Returning Home.  It was a sad day....The week went by so fast!!

The week seemed to zoom by once it passed, but we had a great time!!  We came away with lots of laughs, and lots of stories to share!

So I guess that's a good enough reason for not blogging for a month, huh?  It was just such a busy time, that I really didn't have two seconds to myself.  But for now, I think things are slowing down enough that I'll be able to get back to the computer and actually write about a few different things.  My ideas for the next few entries are Macaroni and Cheese (It's so delicious, why shouldn't we have another recipe for it??), different dinners, and naturally, more house stuff :)