Happy Birthday to my Pup!

Ok, crisis averted. Dealing with car accidents is a pain in the butt but thankfully, I knew of a good body shop that, with my insurance company, made things pretty easy.

I don’t actually know exactly when Hunter’s birthday is, but we figure it’s about this time of year. Now he is 3ish. (Have I ever mentioned I love the number 3? And 23!)
I’d never had a dog before but I had always wanted a golden retriever. My neighbors had two when I was growing up and they’d pay us to take care of their dogs when they were out of town. My brother and I thought it was the greatest ever. When my husband said he wanted a golden retriever too, he immediately started scouring the newspaper for ads.


We bought him at a farm out in the middle of eastern Idaho. I mean literally, you drive to the middle of nowhere and keep going. The lady knew I was coming and when I showed up, I saw the mamma retriever coming toward the drive with a bunch of bouncing furballs behind her. This is how I picked out Hunter:
He was a little more curious than the rest of the litter and came over to inspect the situation. He was scooped up and the lady said, “How about this one?”.
I said “yep, looks good to me.”
I tucked him in a cardboard box with a towel and brought him to his new home. He cried the whole way. And every night that week. I wondered how long it would go on for? After that first week though, he slept through the night, or at least didn’t cry.
Deciding what to name him took a little bit of time. I wanted to give him a human name. I can’t really remember most of the suggestions I made that Jeremy wasn’t crazy about, I remember one was Sebastian. Ironically, I thought of the name Hunter since we considered teaching him to be a hunting dog. That never happened, but the name stuck.
The puppy stage was fun but tough. I carried him everywhere. We’d walk around the block and he’d bite his leash. He LOVES the snow. But boy, was he a naughty puppy. Chewing up everything, crying when we left him at home alone, typically puppy stuff really. We almost gave him away twice.
But I’m so glad we didn’t. We treat him like our child. He is pretty high energy and spoiled and probably thinks he’s human but he is very patient. He’s gentle with kids (well unless his tail whips them) and loves everyone and anyone.
But he definitely is protective of his family.
When we are sad, he looks up at us with the most mournful eyes. Come to think of that, he does it when he’s hungry or when he see’s you eating anything.
He is our best friend.
He is the best company and doesn’t talk back.
Most of the time,
he’s just content to lay at my feet,
or taking a walk or jog.
Hunter is the best dog. Ever.
So this year, I thought I’d give him something special.
You can tell he loves it. 😉 I found a halloween costume large enough for a 90 lb. dog!
Only $8 at Wal-Mart. How could I resist! In honor of currently learning about the skeleton. Isn’t he so cute? Clearly he isn’t amused. Don’t worry, I fed him dinner after and all was forgiven.

What’s your favorite number?

What do you love about your pet?

The Best and The Worst

I bought some HUGE zucchini (does anyone else have trouble spelling that word?) that were on sale the other day and needed to use them up before I forgot about them in my produce drawer in the fridge. (I hate when that happens!)
I’d bookmarked Lisa’s zucchini chips, and decided that was just what I was in the mood for.
Before. Told ya that zucchini was big.
They reminded me of giant fried okra. YUM.
I also tried some POM tea.
Verdict: tasted like cough syrup. I choked it down mixed half and half with Red Bull.

Yesterday was quite the day, my friends.

I had a HUGE A&P lab exam over like 9 chapters. The majority of it was on slides of tissue types and it’s not like you can take the slides home and memorize them. I had studied and studied and studied some more. I couldn’t function normally, but I could tell you every epithelial, muscle, bone and nerve tissue type’s characteristics and location. I actually made flashcards and drilled myself on the elliptical and stair climber for 45 minutes the morning before.
Sitting at a red light, on my way to my huge test… I feel/hear the worst thing ever. Getting rear ended. The girl behind me saw the light turn green and hit the gas. While I was still parked. Ugh. I have an abnormal fear of car accidents and to make things worse, I’d had a feeling for months I was going to get in one. This is what went through my mind:

Near nervous breakdown. In the middle of lunchtime traffic. Numb and shaking hands, numb face (both signs of hyperventilation) can’t tell if my car is still on, can’t remember how to drive. It was the worst.
So I pull over and I’m a wreck. I can’t function. On the verge of tears. Did I mention near nervous breakdown? All I can think about it my test. That is happening in 20 minutes. Crap. The girl who hit me was fortunately apologetic and gave me all her info. We called the police. Waited 30 minutes for them to show up. Texted a girl in my lab to tell her I got in a wreck, hoping my instructor would be understanding. Got a note from the police officer as some documentation for my instructor so she’d know that I wasn’t just messing around.

Luckily, the damage was minor and it was very low impact. No one got hurt. I was upset that I’d literally paid my first car payment that day, but I tried to count my blessings.
I can handle spiders, people puking, speaking in public, clowns, flying in airplanes, you know common fears. But car accidents? They break me. You know what’s worse than being in a wreck? Having to drive afterward. I felt vulnerable, shaken, unsafe and like I have a huge target on my car. Someone passes and I was sure they’re going to hit me. I’m certian everyone on the road has nothing else on their mind but hitting me. Maybe it’s just me. Did I mention I have a fear of car wrecks?
It’s not like I could just go home and decompress. I have a lab test that I am extremely late for. Which was compounding my anxiety. I knew one of two things would happen: either all that studying would pay off or I’d blank out of shock and forget everything. Thankfully, it was the former. My lab instructor was really understanding. She told me to take a moment and take a deep breath. She even offered to let me come back for the next lab and take it then. What I really needed was to take my mind off the accident and my test did just that. I calmed down, focused on the task at hand. Thankfully, I remembered everything I’d studied. I left feeling slightly better that at least I had done well on my test.
Afterward, I called my insurance, dragged through math class and went home. I talked to my mom. I am never too big to need my mommy. My dad gave me invaluable advice and helped me feel confident that I’d done all the right things in the aftermath and the best way to deal with insurance and go about getting it fixed.
I still feel like I’m in a bit of a fog. Like a little raincloud is over me. I guess that’s to be expected after experiencing something traumatic.

Are You In?

Ok, I realize that it’s halfway through September but I have been meaning to comment on Tina’s Self Love project over at Faith, Fitness, Fun. If you haven’t checked out her 30 Days of Self-Love, please do so!

I want to take this opportunity to say that I really appreciate all the thought and effort Tina has gone to writing daily posts about being kind to our bodies, our confidence and to realize our true inner beauty. Her thought provoking posts inspire her readers to contemplate and realize the importance of appreciating ourselves as we are not as our friends, media or complete strangers may perceive us to be.

I’ve seen a recent trend in buzzing about self image, building confidence and learning to love ourselves imperfections and all. I totally love it. It is so great to see a community of women building each other up, admitting to constant comparison, jealousy and feeling less than perfect. So, here are a few things that I have reflected upon or learned about self love in all of my 24 years.
You don’t need a man to love you to feel self worth. For a long time, I struggled with needing someone else to think I was special in order to feel special. Truthfully, it led me into some painful relationships and experiences. Once I learned to love myself and who I was, I wasn’t looking for someone to approve of me. When I stopped caring so much about what other people thought about me, I eventually met my husband who loved me for who I was.
Criticism only hurts you. I’m thinking the fact that we compare ourselves to other women goes way back to the cavewoman days. We were in constant competition to “be the best to get the best mate”. Not a day goes by that I don’t think “I don’t like her teeth”, “her thighs are smaller than mine”. We all think it. I think that we always will. But one thing that works for me is when a negative thought creeps in my head, I try to neutralize it with a positive one. “I don’t like her teeth” changes to “She has a warm and friendly smile.” It kind of goes back to the topic above: if you love yourself, it’s easier to love others.
Jealousy has no foundation. Sometimes I find a little green monster (and not the healthy smoothie!) whispering in my ear about what others have that I don’t. The truth is, if you are jealous of someone, then you probably aren’t seeing the whole picture. Everyone has their blessings and their trials. A friend of mine is having her first baby and I couldn’t believe I was jealous. I was so happy and excited for her but it there was definitely a part of me that was feeling a little green. One day we got to talking (venting, really) just about life and the ups and downs and struggles and fears and I realized that she was going through all kinds of things just like I was. Not to say misery loves company. My point is that no matter how perfect and charmed someone might seem, we all have things that we are dealing with.
I could write all day about my struggles and imperfections but I just really wanted to reflect upon just a few things that I had learned from. I was listening to a talk by John Bytheway called Rough Start Great Finish and he mentioned that if we work on those things that we struggle with, we can make them our greatest strengths.

If you’ve been reading Tina’s 30 days of self love, what’s one thing you’ve learned?

When have you turned a struggle into a great strength?

One Last Bite of Summer

On Sunday, I went over to my friend Lorna’s house to have dinner with her and her family. One last outdoors meal before it cools off for good.
Spinach and strawberry salad. (How did she know that’s currently my favorite combo?)
The best garlic bread of my LIFE.
Steak with mushrooms, corn on the cob and deviled eggs.
And for dessert, peach and blueberry cobbler.
It could use a few tweaks. I’m still perfecting the recipe.

When I was a little kid, I was allergic to tomatoes, peanuts, chocolate (though we figured out it was the trace amounts of peanuts IN the chocolate) and citrus fruits. I know, I was one sad little child. Luckily, I grew out of them about the time I hit puberty.

During the summer, my mom always made this cold tomato soup called gazpacho. I was lucky enough to get some garden tomatoes from Lorna and I knew I would put them to good use.
3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cucumber, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, (you guessed it) finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
bunch of cilantro, finely minced
1/8 c. red wine vinegar
1/8 c. olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cans (about 16 oz.) V-8 juice or regular tomato juice
1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients, cover tightly and let sit in the fridge overnight to allow the flavors to combine. This is one of those dishes that gets better over time. Some people like to put half of it in the blender for a runnier texture, but I like mine nice and chunky.
**Warning: incase you didn’t notice, this has tons of garlic and vinegar and onion in it, so you might think twice before consuming it prior to a hot date! 😉

Have you/ do you have any allergies?

What dish will you miss from summer?

The Ultimate Muffin of Fall

I’m glad that every one enjoyed the pumpkin crumb bar recipe. Isn’t google great? It’s fun reading about the college football teams every one is rooting for this fall. 🙂 I sincerely appreciate each and every comment even if it’s just a hello!

Right now, you might be thinking, “Does this girl live on baked goods alone?” Rest assured that I share the fruits of my oven with many a friend and family member. Besides, I’ve been on a strict busy student diet of microwave burritos. Just kidding. Sort of.
I’m truly a baker at heart. I surprised myself with my growing capabilities to actually cook meals and now I’m back to where it all began. I’ve been baking with my mom as long as I can remember. At Christmas time, my brother and I would fight over making the shape cookies.
With a busy school schedule, baking is the one thing that can help me feel sane. Nothing is more comforting than the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, pumpkin and peaches filling my house as I slave away over homework.
I needed to use up some peaches and pumpkin. Quite an interesting combination right? This recipe almost didn’t make it onto my blog. I took some chances altering the original recipe (it asked for 2, count em 2 cups of sugar!) and had no idea how it would turn out. Thankfully, they came out spenldidly.
These muffins are seriously the best thing I’ve made in a long time. They aren’t really pretty, but the taste makes up for it.
2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed splenda and brown sugar blend
(or 1/4 c. regular brown sugar)
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 c. pumpkin puree
1/8 c. vegetable oil
2 peaches, chopped (I was lazy and didn’t chop them very finely and it turned out just fine)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all dry ingredients (sugars, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda).
In a large bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin and oil. Mix in dry ingredients. Fold in peaches. Fill greased (or lined) muffin tins about 3/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Best when eaten warm!
I hope everyone has taken a moment to pause today and reflect on the events of 9/11/2001.
I was listening to the radio on my way to school when I first heard. I think that’s when I lost my childhood innocence. Suddenly, I realized what we were vulnerable. Never was I more grateful for my friends and family.
May we never forget…

What fall dishes have you been making?

Who is your favorite college football team?

Where were you on 9/11?

Pumpkin Crumble Bars

Fall is starting to whisper in the air. From the cooler temperatures to football season. Try this twist on traditional pumpkin pie.


Pumpkin Crumble Bars
(adapted from Southern Food)

1 1/2 c. quick oats
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans
3/4 c. butter
16 oz. can pureed pumpkin
2/3 c. milk
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
(make your own by combining 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
Combine oats, flour, 3/4 c. brown sugar, pecans and butter and mix until crumbly. Reserve about 1 1/2 c. and press remaining mixture in to lightly greased 13×9 pan. Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes.
Combine filling ingredients until well blended and smooth. Spread filling over crust. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture on top and press in lightly. Return to oven and bake for 25 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.
How appropriate that these are orange!!
Tonight is BSU’s first game against Virginia Tech. I’m having my high school girlfriends come over to watch the game together. GO BRONCOS!

Yummy in my Tummy

I was so touched by the outpouring of sincere comments on my last post. I’m truly grateful for such a positive response to it. Each comment was so touching. I definitely did not write the post to feel sorry for myself, it was just something that I felt I needed to get off my chest. I can’t say I was surprised that some of you shared similar experiences. I’m really glad that I wrote about it. It was truly a learning process as I digested my experiences and thought about how I learned and grew from them. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”

With school well under way, blogging has definitely taken a backseat to all of the studying. I’m really loving being back in school. I just love learning new things. I forgot what a hobo I feel like carrying a book bag, a purse, more books, a water bottle etc. I’ve always wondered how is it that some girls wear heels to class? For me it’s sneakers, sneakers, sneakers. If I’m carrying all that stuff, I need good support!

Though I have had a lot less time for cooking, I’ve been trying to plan out meals ahead of time so I’m not scrambling after school when I’m ready to chew my arm off (or eat an entire bag of chips). I make sure to bring a snack in my bag to tie me over when I’m at school all afternoon and get plenty of water. With school, it’s always a little more difficult to eat intuitively because eating is definitely a stress relief for me. I’m doing my best to determine between hunger and stress as well as keeping up a fitness routine. Keeping a regular workout schedule of some kind definitely helps with school stress and the need to stress eat. Whew!

Here’s some of my eats from the last week:
Grilled shrimp and chicken from my dinner date with Sara at a Vietnamese restaurant Pho Nouveau.

I’ve been on a real kick for spinach and strawberry salads. Sunflower seeds and feta on top with raspberry vinaigrette.
Microwave lasagna. I’ve been craving it! Sometimes I do rely on microwave dinners.
Amy’s Asian noodle stir fry.
And all cooked up! A little watery, but not too bad! Definitely cured my craving for Asian.
Ever since I tried tart frozen yogurt I’ve been hooked.
With a peach.
With strawberries. The possibilities are endless.
Sometimes, you just gotta have them.
Andrea’s chocolate toffee almond (I used walnuts instead) bars. If you aren’t reading Can You Stay For Dinner yet, go there. Now. Then find lots of friends and family to help you eat all that deliciousness.
I was craving some crock pot comfort food so Saturday night, I made my very own crock pot shepherd’s pie. After looking at a few recipes, I made up my own.
Crock Pot Shepherd’s Pie

1 lb of ground turkey (plus I added 1/2 lb. leftover buffalo meat)
half an onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 can cream of mushroom
1/2 c. water
2c. frozen mixed vegetables
2-3 c. mashed potatoes
salt and pepper to taste
It’s like a secret in the crock pot under all those mashed potatoes.
1. Cook the ground turkey, onion and garlic until the turkey is browned. Drain. Spray crock pot with non-stick spray. Add turkey, frozen veggies, water and cream of mushroom and mix. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Layer mashed potatoes on top. **Side note: I had some left over boxed garlic and parmesan mashed potatoes and then I cooked up some mashed reds and combined the two. The extra garlic and parmesan really complimented the rest of the dish.**

3. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3.
Not the prettiest dish but hearty and comforting.
Since I couldn’t eat this for a week straight, I put half of it in tupperware and froze it for later.
Ok, back to hitting the books!

What food kicks have you been on lately?

How do you determine between stress and hunger?