Tuesday, January 31, 2012

animals at the workplace...

pets not only make great companions, but they are also very "therapeutic."  my office is animal friendly.  we have an office cat named "sid" and usually a couple of dogs visiting daily.  one of the newest additions to our staff is "sunny."  she is a lab/chihuahua mix and was rescued right before the holidays.  she greets everyone with an enthusiastic "hello" and provides lots of stress relief throughout the day.  she is so cute, it makes getting much work done hard.

Friday, January 27, 2012

garden box...18 weeks

i am sad to say that the one squash plant that was doing really well, snapped in half like a twig in last weeks rain storm.  i think it is officially dead...

we are having success with our brocolli rabb and lettuce mix...

with the nice weather this weekend, we will spend some time re-planting our herb box and squash.  we are still dealing with the rot, so hopefully we will get some powdered milk and spray bottle to get rid of the problem.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

crock pot beef stroganoff...

stroganoff is a a common comfort food, and is perfect on a winter night.  my favorite stroganoff (surprisingly) was in a small tapas bar in benahavis, spain.  it was a chicken stroganoff with lots of butter, saffron and served with home made potato chips.  i have tried to duplicate the recipe, and have gotten close, but my crock pot beef stroganoff is a more traditional recipe.


~1 lb. steak (stew meat or steak cut in strips or cubbed, frozen is fine too)
~1 can beef stock
~1 can cream of mushroom soup
~1 medium diced onion
~1 cup sour cream
~1/2 packet of onion soup mix
~1 t. thyme
~1 t. garlic powder
~5 big dashes of worcestershire sauce
~pepper to taste

how to:

place frozen steak (cut into strips or cubbed) into crock pot, add beef stock, cream of mushroom soup, onion and all seasonings and cook on low for 8 hours.

stir in sour cream right before serving...

serve stroganoff on bed of egg noodles or white rice, and enjoy!  you could substitute chicken for the red meat and mushrooms are always a good addition (i left these out cause jarad is not a fan)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

quote of the week...

"you're off to great places!  today is your day!  your mountain is waiting.  so...get on your way!
~dr. seuss

temescal canyon

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

arches, utah...

one of my favorite stops on our post christmas road trip was arches national park in utah.  we first stopped in moab, utah where jarad hit a few dirt jumps and rode at a local skate park.  we also hit up a fantastic diner before heading into the park for a massive hike. 

the most popular "arch" inside the park is called the "delicate arch".  we went on a short hike to get a distant view of it.  we were pretty satisfied with this view and decided against taking the longer hike to get close up, and instead decided to do the most "treacherous" hike and go see the "double arch."

there was snow on the ground and some steep rock faces to climb to get to the "double arch."  i didn't make it do the very end, because the snow made it hard to grip the rocks and it was starting to get dark and windy.  but one of my favorite sites along the way is called the "devil's garden", made up of all kinds of interesting rock formations.

not having made it to the "double arch" myself, my favorite was a very long and narrow arch, called the "landscape arch."

we briefly considered camping here, but the snow and wind would have been too cold for me.  we had a great hike and the most beautiful sunset!  oh...and i forgot to mention, i also dropped jarad's camcorder while hiking up a rock, luckily a guy behind us caught it with his foot, and it still works!  this is definitely a place i would like to re-visit in the spring or summer, and maybe make it to the double arch!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

garden...17 weeks

here is our garden after we added more dirt, it is doing well, but jarad thinks we have fungus. he read that if you have powdered milk in a spray bottle it can help.

 our squash and cucumbers are getting big...

and here is our spring lettuce mix (left side) and brocolli raab (right side)...

Friday, January 20, 2012

crock pot buffalo chicken...

this recipe is easy and delicious.  only a few ingredients for a great buffalo chicken sandwich and the leftovers make a great pizza topping!


 ~3 large chicken breasts (frozen)
 ~1 bottle of franks red hot sauce
 ~1 ranch dressing seasoning mix packet                        

how to:

place frozen chicken in crock pot and pour entire bottle of franks red hot sauce and ranch seasoning mix.  cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  shred chicken and place on toasted french roll, garnish with blue cheese dressing, caramelized onion and cucumber.  enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

wire wrapping

i recently took a "wire wrapping" class at a local redondo beach bead store.  we learned and practiced this technique for 2 hours, and then came home with a pair of earrings we made.  since then, i have bought my own tools, beads, wire and have been making jewelry like crazy.  here are some of my newest creations, and i also opened an online store at etsy...check it out here

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

quote(s) of the week...

one of my very favorite books is "the alchemist" by paulo coelho.  if you haven't read it, i strongly suggest you do.  there are so many good life lessons in that book, it is so uplifting, encouraging and beautifully written.  here are a few great quotes from the book...

"when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it"

"when you are in love, things make even more sense"

"the soul of the world is nourished by people's happiness.  and also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy.  to realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation.  all things are one"

"intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life"

waterbury, vermont

Monday, January 16, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

float lab...

when it comes to relaxing and de-stressing most of us turn to massages or yoga to help relieve our symptoms, but who would have thought that a "deprivation tank" would do the trick.  i got jarad a gift certificate for one for christmas and i was so intrigued i wanted to go with him to give it a try.  the place is called "float lab" and is located in venice beach, just a few short blocks from my office.  i read about it on the website and have heard some celebrity endorsements but wasn't totally sure what to expect or if i would even like it.

when you arrive at the "float lab", you are greeted by the owner "crash", who gives you a brief "what to do, what not to do" speech.  the chamber itself is 7 feet tall by about 5 feet wide.  i asked him about being claustrophobic inside the chamber, he said that in order to feel this way, you need to have a frame of reference.  since the chambers are completely dark, you don't have any spacial reference point.

the building houses two separate chambers, each with its own private shower.  you shower before and after "floating".  when you get in the chamber, the water is warm, it is pretty close in temperature to your body.  due to the 1000 pounds of epsom salts that make up the solution, you float effortlessly.  i was most comfortable floating with my arms in back of my head or supporting my neck, and with no stress what so ever on your body, it is easy to relax.

initially i had the door to the chamber cracked open, so that i could get oriented.  once i felt comfortable and got used to my surroundings, i was able to float with ease and go into complete relaxation.  the session is 2 hours long, and when your time is up, you come out feeling refreshed, loose, and relaxed.  i think the more often you go, the more benefits you get.  it is supposed to help lower blood pressure, help you recover from jet lag faster, help sports injuries, and promote meditation.

if you are open to the idea of going, i would highly recommend giving it a try...you can check out the website www.floatlab.com

Friday, January 13, 2012

root beer float cupcakes...

i've been seeing a new trend in cupcakes...a can of diet soda and a box of cake mix.  this mixture seems odd, but works out well for a low calorie dessert.  there are so many flavor combinations, but i chose diet a&w root beer and white cake mix.

1 can of diet soda
1 box of cake mix
lite cool whip topping

how to:

combine box of cake mix with soda until smooth.  bake in cup cake tins at 350 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes.  allow cupcakes to cool and frost with cool whip topping.

i made 15 cupcakes total, and they come out to 156 calories when topped with 2 tb. of cool whip topping.  

since these came out so delicious, i have been thinking of other combinations to try...here are a few i think would be good...

~diet orange crush and white cake (creamsicle)
~diet cherry coke and chocolate cake
~diet dr. pepper and either white or chocolate cake
~diet sprite and lemon cake mix

there are so many possibilities, however, i think next time i will make them in a pan with non-stick spray.  since there is no fat in the cupcakes, they tend to stick to the cupcake liners more than normal.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

garden...16 weeks

our garden is growing bigger and bigger and we are low dirt.  i think if we had more soil in the box, the plants might do even better so they are not fighting for resources.  so jarad did the massive project of taking all of the plants out of the box so he could add more soil to the bottom. 

this picture gives new meaning to the term "home garden"

after he removed all the plants and they hung out in our living room, he added 3 more bags of soil to the box and gave it a good water.  he replanted everything and moved some things around a bit.  lets hope they don't go through a big shock like they did when we thinned out our garden.

i think in the long run they will be happier and produce more...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

quote of the week...

 "the bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life."
~richard bach


Tuesday, January 10, 2012


people look at the new year as a "clean slate" and a good opportunity to set new goals for themselves.  i usually have a mental list of my resolutions, but i believe that when you write your goals down the universe helps you make them a reality.  writing them down and placing my list in a visible spot also makes me more accountable and reminds me daily of what i want to accomplish.  here is my list, better late than never...

1.  break a sweat everyday (work out!)
2.  eat well (fewer carbs!)
3.  learn to say "no" - it's okay
4.  learn new things (skills, crafts, hobbies, etc.)
5.  travel whenever you can (both near and far)
6.  do something kind for someone else everyday
7.  don't take the stress from work home with you
8.  from the words of jerry springer, "be good to yourself and each other"

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

xmas road trip...grand canyon

after the hoover dam, we headed to arizona to go to the grand canyon.  we arrived with about 45 minutes of daylight and got to see an amazing sunset.  we explored the south rim and did not get a chance to hike, but it is truly a breath taking experience.

Friday, January 6, 2012

garden box...15 weeks

i have not posted much on the garden since the holiday season and when we went out of town.  unfortunately i wish i had more to report on it, but here is what it is looking like after 15 weeks...

our cucumbers seem to be be doing the best.  we have two coming in right now.  one is getting nice and big and fat, and the other one is still pretty small and is curling around itself.

we are getting more and more squash, but they go rotten.  jarad added some epson salts to the soil, since that is supposed to help, but they grow to about 5 inches and then go bad.  we continue to get more tomatoes and they are delicious.  we had them as toppings on hamburgers and in a salad this week.  we still have more to pick!

our garden box seems to be low on soil, so we purchased 5 large bags.  we will have to carefully add more to the box, which will hopefully help these guys grow even bigger!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

xmas roadtrip...vegas, nevada

jarad and i went on a very ambitious road trip after christmas.  we mapped out our destinations and went without any plans, reservations or time constraints.  our first stop was in las vegas to meet up with my parents and visit our family friends.  we arrived in the late afternoon, and caught up over a great steak dinner.  the girls gambled and the boys went bowling, and we left the next morning to continue our adventure. 

our next stop was hoover dam, which is only about 45 minutes outside of las vegas.  we got there around 10:30 am, which was perfect, because when we left there was a long line of cars waiting to get in.  we did not take a tour, but really enjoyed our stop there on the way to arizona.