Thursday, March 28, 2013

Confession

I would like to think of myself as a mature, well-educated woman who only reads from the literary canon and The New Yorker and watches award-winning historical documentaries and world news. But in all reality, I'm a sucker for reality shows, day time TV, and romantic comedies. I'm actually extremely distracted right now because I'm watching Mean Girls 2 on E!, sorry.

With that said, I'll go ahead and admit it, I miss the cheesy, dumb,  scripted . . . romantic, passionate, totally real Bachelor. I have real emotions with the girls on the show. I love them, hate them, laugh and cry with them, and by the end, I feel as though I'm the third wheel in the engagement. Then, I'm dumped. No more dates, family time, gushy conversations...nothing. I feel like this after every season. The happy new couple gets to go on with their steamy, new relationship, and I'm left wondering if everything is working out and how the wedding planning is going. Plus, it's the only time of year that I look forward to Mondays.

If you didn't think I was creepy before, have I now convinced you otherwise? If not, then congratulations, you're a creepy Bachelor fanatic too. Welcome to the imaginary club, "Girls Who Daydream of Past Bachelor Episodes."

I could seriously write a 5,000 word essay on my thoughts of every girl on the last season, but I'll spare you...this time. Only a few more months until Des' season!

                                            

All of this romantic love talk has got me thinking of the hubs and my wedding. Post about all the big day to come? I'll think about it. 

For now, I've got other weddings on my mind...like my super cool friend Carla's, which is this Saturday in Florida!!!! Ahhh, I want to be there! And of course my best bud Kayla's wedding in June. To bring this post full circle, these two gals are proud members of the "Girls Who Daydream of Past Bachelor Episodes Club" for sure! We spent many Mondays watching The Bachelore/ette and eating Chick-Fil-A. Those days are missed big time!


Have a Happy Thursday y'all, and Happy Wedding Week, Carla!












Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Maine Maple Sunday

Besides training for my new gig, watching the snow melt, and participating in Maine Maple Sunday, there hasn't been much else going. So let's focus on the last one today.


I've heard a lot about Vermont maple syrup before my days in Maine, but I never tried it because who wants to pay 15 bucks for syrup? I never thought about Maine being just as popular for their syrup making. It all started a couple weekends ago when Patrick and I went to a co-worker's house for a pancake breakfast. This man makes gallons of maple syrup every year. I now understand why it's so expensive. Not only does it taste like liquid gold, the process alone takes longer than my tiny attention span can fathom. Since I'm far from being a "maple syrup making expert", and the fact that I was just smiling and nodding and thinking about Walter (our cat) while the kind man was explaining the process, I'll just briefly,and probably incorrectly, explain the process.
  1. Put a tap in a maple tree. 
  2. Let the sap from the tree pour into a bucket.
  3. Boil the sap (which looks like water) for hours, maybe a day.
  4. Then you put it over some other kind of wood-burning stove for a day or so.
  5. Then something else happens.
  6. Finally, you bottle the yummy goodness.
Now you can all go make your own maple syrup. 

After experiencing the best pancake breakfast we've had in 24 years, we decided to find a local sugar shack on Maine Maple Sunday. The closest place was a farm about 15 miles away. Once we found a place to park among the massive line of cars, we realized all we had were debit cards. Ugh! We couldn't even buy any of the syrup. We weren't going to let the ruin our trip though, so we toured the farm and even got a free cup of ice cream with maple syrup drizzled on top. That made it all worth it. 

Here's a little visual of our maple syrup adventure. 


The farm is a Christmas tree farm as well.

Part of the syrup making process

The sap travels through this maze of tubes to the boiler.


Tapped tree with bucket

Enjoying some ice cream in the freezing temperatures.







Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Spring, Y'all!

Spring makes me think of many happy things: tulips blooming in the quad at Tech, warm afternoons, rainy nights, running outside in shorts, flip flops, and best of all, the smell of summer just around the corner.

Here is something the thought of spring does not bring to mind....

Neighbor's car

A beautiful, powdery foot of snow just screams spring, dontcha think?


Just last week it was in the 40's, all the snow was finally gone, and the sun was out. "I made it!" "No more winter!" Then boom. I was viciously fooled. I do agree that the snow is pretty and snow days are nice, but the kind of snow in Maine is a nuisance. 

For example, I was on my way to pick up the hubs at work yesterday during the snow storm, and while gradually stopping for a red light like a responsible driver, an old man slid right in the back of our new Jeep! He came up to my window and said that it didn't leave any marks. I doubtedly got out of my car into the blizardy tundra with cars backed up behind us to check out the damage. He wiped the snow off of my bumper, and surprisingly, I didn't see any scratches either. Being the smart young woman that I am, I said, "I'm still going to need to write down your insurance information." And that's when he said, "Oh, this is my son's car. I don't have the insurance for it." Great! Here I am with an old man with no insurance, standing in the middle of the road in a bitter snow storm, with no visible scratches on my bumper. What do I do? Get his number and get out of there. Once I got to Patrick's work, we looked at the bumper a little more and noticed the underneath of the bumper was scratched up. It's not anything visible, the man doesn't have insurance, and hey, it's a jeep, it's suppose to be roughed up a little bit, so we're letting it slide. Is that the wisest decision? If I'm a jerk, then no, but sometimes it's better to just carry on in life. 

Strong Blonde

Lately, I've been bored with my hair and have been wanting to try something different. I've really been digging this subtle ombre look going around. 


Some may think, "That's just gloried, trashy roots, honey." Well, maybe, but I like the subtle definition it gives to your hair. So, after watching several YouTube videos on DIY ombre, I decided to trek down to the Rite Aide in this...

...to get this...

After the fear of screwing up my hair and having to cut it into a pixie, I thought, "Oh yeah, this is going to be so cool!"

I ripped open the box, read the directions, mixed up the magic concoction, and my new look was only a half hour away. About thirty minutes later, I went to look at the shampoo that came in box and noticed that it wasn't there. In it's place was the activating cream that was suppose to be part of the magic concoction. That means I waited for half an hour with shampoo in my hair. I hurriedly mixed in some of the cream and rubbed it in my hair and let it set for about ten minutes. Needless to say, my cool ombre hair is a little more "subtle" than what I was going for. To my defense, the cream and shampoo came in very similar tubes. Lesson: read the instructions AND the tubes.

On the Brighter Side

 Walter loves sleeping with his toys. I can't blame him. As a little girl, I felt sorry for my Barbies if they slept alone on the floor, so they usually cozied up with me.

Out of all of Walter's toys, this squirrel/chipmunk thing is his absolute favorite. We call him Poe. He cuddles it, licks it, sniffs it. Let's just say Poe is his "special" pal. This is probably because we put cat nip in it. I think this stuff intoxicates Walter, but I just like to think that he is taking care of Poe as if it's his child, which is sweet, right?


Okay, I think I'm done with my stories. Your time invested reading this post should be rewarded. So go eat that oatmeal cream pie you've been thinking about and ponder the cuteness of Walter. It will do you some good. I promise.

Diana

Monday, March 18, 2013

Buttery Honey Sandwich Bread

*Keep reading for some exciting news.

I'm not a very emotional, touchy-feely, mushy-gooshy, let's all hug kind of person. I never have been, but that doesn't mean I'm incapable of loving someone. I just express this love in other ways.

After 9 months of marriage, Patrick and I are realizing how we give and receive love as individuals. It's not something I thought too much about before being married, but after some trial and error (which has been the first 9 months of our marriage) we're beginning to pick up and reciprocate this "love language" that we each distinctively have.

For example, I love to cook, so preparing a meal for my husband doesn't feel like an obligation, it's me showing him that I love him. On the other hand, Patrick knows that this "acts of service" is the way I give and receive love, so he'll clean the apartment on the weekends, take out the trash, and do the dishes. All in which he obviously doesn't enjoy (who does?), but it shows me how much he loves me by doing these things. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm not a touchy-feely person, so I'm not the kind of girl who needs the kiss good-bye or  a two hour cuddle session on the couch. For goodness gracious, just pick up after yourself! I promise I have a heart.

Okay, sorry about the rant. I just wanted to set up what I've been working on lately. I've had an itch to bake bread for a while now, so I finally decided to...you've got it...scratch this itch of mine. Due to my love showing tendency, I pack the hubs lunch every night. Even if we have the best left overs waiting to be devoured in the fridge, he'll say, "I just want a sandwich." In my mind, I'm thinking, "How boring!" "Don't you get tired of the same thing EVERYDAY?" But I grab the loaf of bread and carry on. Doing this 5 days a week, plus a sandwich or two on the weekends add up. After noticing how much bread we go through, that's when I said, "Enough is enough. I'm making my own!"

I searched and searched for just the right recipe, and I finally found one that was adaptable. Drool over this...


The bread is oh-so-yummy with some honey baked deli ham and a slice of American cheese, or a big spoonful of chicken salad (recipe coming soon), or just however you prefer your sandwich. I can now understand why the hubs wants a sandwich for lunch EVERYDAY.

This recipe yields 3 loaves, so after the first rise, wrap the loaves in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer bag. When you're ready for the next loaf, set it out to thaw (2 hours). Then form into greased loaf pan and let rise before baking. Since the dough is cold, it will take the yeast several hours to rise (about 4-5), so be patient!

I adapted this recipe from http://www.thebakerupstairs.com/2013/01/honey-wheat-sandwich-bread-with-orange.html

Okay, you've kindly been scrolling long enough. So for the good news: I'm a housewife no more!

After a long, maddening job search, I've finally found a great job. Last week, I started at an early intervention day care for kids with special needs. It's going to be a challenging, but I thank God for providing a rewarding job for me to spend my time while in Maine.



Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rocker Re-Do + Walter Action

Since starting a blog about a month ago, I've learned so much. I went into this blindly with the only experience being a high school web design class, and I can hardly remember what I learned in college so just imagine what I remember from high school. I've spent most of the last couple days researching different blogs and recreating my own. I could seriously do this all day, but tomorrow starts a new journey (more on that later).

For today, I decided to share a little before and after for ya.

Patrick and I went into this marriage with very little furniture, which was good considering we moved into a small space. One piece that we did have, thanks to the Horton's, was a good, solid rocking chair. It was a great piece, and I was very thankful for it, but it just didn't fit with the rest of our stuff. So I figured I'd give it a little face lift.



This was one of the first projects I tackled after we got married. All I did was try to sand all of the varnish off using a small electric sander, then spray paint it with the my favorite spray paint, Krylon. After two coats of paint, I took my handy electric sander and went to town. I wanted to give it a distressed, broken-in look, which I feel as though I accomplished. Honestly, I rarely even sit in this chair because the couch is much more comfortable to the tush, but it makes for nice eye candy. 

FYI: the pillow was a dollar yard sale find and the blanket was a nice hand-me-down from Grandad. Both makes me oh so happy.



As I was trying to get a good picture of the rocker, I captured this Walter moment. He was leashing out his feline frustration on his scratching post. I've already hot glued the twine back on the post once, so this doomawhatchie has definitely seen better days. It's obviously his favorite thing in the apartment, thank goodness. Imagine if this was the arm of our couch or leg of our table. Thanks to the Now Your a Cat Owner DVD that we patiently sat through when we first adopted Walter, we knew to redirect his scratching behavior to a cat scratching mechanism (that's what I call them at least) as a kitten. It paid off. 

Next project: re-glue twine so that I don't have to continuously sweep up the remnants of the mangled cat scratching mechanism.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Twinings

There are many differences from New England and the South. One of the most obvious is sweet tea. I lived in Florida the summer after I graduated college, and it's safe to say that I stopped by the McDonald's to get a sweet tea before work about 90% of the summer. This was before I became a coffee addict of course. Luckily, I knew better than to come up here and ask for a sweet tea like a redneck tourist. And honestly, I think sweet tea tastes best on those hot, southern summer days so I haven't been too tempted yet.

Lately, Patrick has been a hot tea snob. He'll brew a cup of hot camomile, honey & vanilla tea almost every night. Hey, I'm not complaining though because I get the left over hot water for my hot chocolate. Nothing seems to warm up these cold, winter New England nights like a hot drink after supper. 

Since developing this habit, Patrick has claimed his favorite tea brand is Twinings. I'm not sure if it's a Northern brand or not, but I never heard of it before moving here. So, when I saw it on sale at my favorite store, Christmas Tree Shops, it gave me an excuse to waste an hour browsing through cheap junk treasures. (If your curiosity is getting the best of you, check out my CTS findings here.) While throwing the camomile, honey & vanilla tea (hubs favorite) in the cart, I noticed that they make peach tea too. Sigh! Anything peach is a guilty pleasure of mine. So it quickly made it's way to the cart as well. It's been waiting patiently in the pantry for weeks, and tonight was it's grand debut. I made it just like I would a pitcher of sweet tea, but I didn't add as much sugar. It was a perfect blend and is easily my new favorite drink. It may not be the traditional sweet southern tea, but it's just what I needed this evening, which makes me happy.




              Sweet Peach Tea

  1. Brew 8 cups of water in kettle
  2. Remove kettle after whistle and add 4 tea packets
  3. Let brew for 5-7 minutes
  4. Meanwhile, add 3/4 cup sugar to pitcher
  5. Add water to pitcher until it covers the sugar, then stir to dissolve sugar in water
  6. Mix in brewed tea and ice
  7. Enjoy

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday Shmuesday

I've just written two paragraphs two times and I keep erasing them. I guess that's a sign that I don't have anything good to say (besides that fact that it's 50 degrees in Maine today!). So, instead of my ranting on about recipes, life, or bargains I'll just share a couple photos. 


Though Walter may look angry, this is his happy face #livingthedream


You know, I recently heard about a study that proved looking at cute pictures/videos of animals makes people more happy and productive during the work day. I feel like this will benefit you more than my ramblings. 

You're welcome.



Monday, March 11, 2013

Moist Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


I'm an addict of two things: bargains and chocolate. When you mix those things together, this is what you get...


The most moist, chocolaty, banana-y? banana bread ever. 


Before I reveal the recipe, I want to give you a tip. I love buying in bulk and freezing foods. It just makes sense if it's a food you eat regularly. And let me tell you, the hubs and I go through some bananas. Recently, I've found myself going to the store at least once a week for bananas, so when I saw a three pound bunch of bananas for around $1.60 at Sam's, I knew I had to stock up. Without thinking much about it, I threw one of the bunches in the freezer. I peeked in the freezer a couple hours later and this is what I found.



Black bananas. 

After my endless research on the art of banana freezing, I found out that it's totally okay to freeze whole bananas. It's normal for them to turn black/brown pretty quickly, and the inside is fine to eat once you thaw them out. But before you go freezing your bananas, just know the texture is not so appetizing. 




Don't you wanna just dig your spoon into that mush? 


Okay, sorry about the indecent photo. Though a normal person wouldn't eat the remains of a frozen banana, they're great for baking. So, that's just what I did. 



If you're more a visual person, as I am, here's a quick run through of what the process should look like. 


Sifted dry ingredients


Mixed wet ingredients.




Ready to rise.
Easy enough, right? 

Don't let the red chips fool you. The Valentine's chocolate chips were on clearance at Target. They're just plain ol' semi-sweet chocolate chips.


This recipe was adapted from Foodie Crush.



2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 bananas, very ripe and mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plain greek  yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I used salted and it turned out just fine)
1 1/2  teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips



  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour all sides and bottom 9''x13'' loaf pan.
  2. Mash bananas in a bowl; set aside.
  3. Sift all dry ingredients together. (Flour, sugar, baking soda, salt)
  4. In a medium bowl, mix mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, vanilla, and chocolate chips together. 
  5. Gently fold wet ingredients and dry ingredients. Don't over mix because it will result in a dry, tough bread.
  6. Scrape mixture into loaf pan and sprinkle sugar on top. This gives the bread a sweet crunch. 
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes. It's done when an inserted knife or tooth pick comes out clean. 

It tastes best warm, so we just heated a piece in the microwave for a few seconds and enjoyed with a cup of coffee or milk. I hope you enjoy it as well.



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Back on Track

We all have a routine. Even the most free-spirited, go-with-the-flow kind of people typically start their day the same way...roll out of bed, go for a pee, pour a bowl of cereal, repeat.

Since moving to Maine, I've fallen into somewhat of a routine. I don't have a strict schedule (it's the least strict schedule since young adolescence actually), but I still have a few things to achieve on a daily basis. I do the dishes, apply for jobs, clean the apartment, cut coupons, go to the store, cook supper, go to the gym, watch The Chew. These things happen every week. Some may consider this boring...I consider this boring on many days, but it's life right now. That's why this week has been a much needed vacation from the humdrum routine I've adopted. 

Lyndsay was in Maine for the past 7 days, and we definitely took a tour of some amazing places. I would give you a day-by-day detailed journal, but unless you're one of our mom's, I would probably lose you by the second day. I'm not saying our week was boring, but I feel as though highlights are plenty good enough for your reading pleasure. 
-------------
We started our week with a U Maine hockey game.

                                          

There were fights, pucks hitting the glass, the band playing in the background, and the crowd roaring. A typical hockey game for those hockey enthusiasts out there. 



Obviously, we're not one of them, but we really did have a great time. Don't let our expressions fool you. By the way, the game ended in a tie. What the heck?! Two and a half hours for no winners. Or, if your glass is half full, everyone won. That's the way I'm choosing to look at it. 

After some frivolous antiquing the next couple of days, we decided to check out Freeport on Tuesday. It's the LL Bean headquarters, and it has some great outlet stores...and I'm a sucker for a good outlet store. We made a detour to Cousins Island on the way home to check out some of the coast.


 It was basically a lake, but there was no need to be disappointed because the next day we got to experience this...



and this...



We drove through Acadia National Forest, and it absolutely took my breath away. There were snow-covered mountains on my right and a beautiful sandy beach on my left. Incredible! You may notice that we're the only ones on the beach. I'll give you a little hint to why...


                                                                  
It was around 30 degrees and snowing. This may seem miserable to some, but the solitude of the beach was well worth fighting the frigid temperatures. It was really neat to experience this place with no one else around. This  day was by far the highlight of the week.








I absolutely loved having a friend in town and a new face in our apartment, but after she left, I realized how much I missed my husband. He had to work all week, so the only thing he got to do with us was go to the hockey game last weekend and dig into a real Maine lobster (no pictures, unfortunately). I felt bad doing all these fun things without him, but it makes me appreciate his hard work that much more. So after cleaning the house, doing the dishes, and going to the store after Lyndsay left, we had a Batman and Breakfast night. (Breakfast for dinner and The Dark Knight Rises if you're wondering)

A boring Friday night fits perfectly in my routine. It's nice to be back on track. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Maine Sneak Peek

This week has been a great change of pace. Patrick and I have had a first visitor to Maine, and I've loved it. My best friend, Lyndsay, flew all the way up from TN, and I've been trying my hardest to give her the real Maine experience. We've been so busy that I haven't had time to put a post together, and I don't really now either, so I'll just give you a little sneak peak of our adventures so far.


It's been a great week, and it's not even over with yet! Check back this weekend for more pictures and stories of our tour of Maine.


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