Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Try-It Tuesday: Black Bean Burgers

I really could do without meat in my life. Sure, I like an occasional chicken breast, slice of deli turkey, or hamburger like the next girl... but I think I could survive pretty easily without it. This week is proof, without my meat-and-potatoes family around, I haven't prepared any meat... at all.

The trend continued tonight... I made black bean burgers! And like I said yesterday, I had some special guests over for dinner: The Crows (that's my good friend Jessie that I always talk about, her husband and their two boys.) I know what you're thinking... "She tried out a black bean burger recipe on guests?" I know... it was daring, and maybe a bit dumb, and the Crows were good sports. We had a really intense (ok, not intense at all...) discussion about how we felt about the recipe. The verdict? The recipe was pretty good... for a black bean burger. The flavor was good, but it fell apart a little too easily and could have used a sauce or something to go with it. I also tried out this sweet potato fries recipe that guaranteed to be crispy. All lies... they were flat out soggy and underdone and I followed the directions precisely. I also tried out this pumpkin snickerdoodle recipe for dessert. The cookies were good but were hardly pumpkiny.

Overall the meal was a B- at best and I was bummed because I wanted to impress Jessie since she's such a stellar cook... Maybe someday.... The company was an A+ though... I love hanging out with the Crows, so the evening as a whole was a good one.
(Liam told me that he didn't like my cookies because they were "mushy." The boy had two...)
(Eli's got the greatest smile... when he actually wants to give you one.)
(Making the funny Crow boy stare-down face. I'm not as good as Liam...)
(Jon messing around doing who knows what...)
(Always laughing...)
(Being silly... I love these guys!)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Try-It (Day Before) Tuesday: Sweet Potato Chili

So, my parents are out of town, I've got the house to myself, and until tonight I'd managed to not make myself any meals since they left. Chipotle for lunch on Saturday, party food Saturday night, McDonald's salad on Sunday, dinner at Jessie's on Sunday night... So tonight I decided that I should stop being lazy and that it was time to make myself a meal!

I went with this Sweet Potato Chili recipe that I saw on Pinterest. I thought, "Hm, Dad will probably think this is weird, and especially be down on it since it doesn't have any meat... I better try it out while he's gone." So that's exactly what I did tonight. It was a pretty easy recipe with pretty standard ingredients... and it was delicious! For a vegetarian soup I found it incredibly hearty and filling. You better believe I will be having the leftovers for lunch every day this week. Clearly, I'd recommend the recipe. (P.S. I went ahead and stole their picture because mine was just not that great, AND more importantly, I'm just too lazy to walk downstairs to get my camera...)

Some of you who knew my parents were going out of town were a bit concerned about what was going to happen to Try-It Tuesday this week. No worries, folks... I've given you Try-It (Day Before) Tuesday tonight, and Try-It Tuesday will be back yet again tomorrow. And since the rents are out of town, I've invited over some special guests... Get excited!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cake... and a party!

It's been a while since I've blogged about any of my cake creations... probably because it's been a while since I've actually created any. This weekend I had the task of baking cake for 100 people! I baked two cakes: one chocolate and one white. And the party had a 70s and 80s theme, so... I decorated a cake for each decade. It worked out quite lovely actually. Below are the cakes...
Not only did I bake the cakes for the party, I also attended the party! It was the 40th birthday of my good friend Shannon and I couldn't miss it. As I said before it was a theme party... and she expected us to dress up. I wasn't too excited about it. I like to have a good time... but dressing up isn't really my thing. Jessie convinced me though. She was dressing up and encouraged me to do it, too. We went thrift store shopping and found some pretty ridiculous stuff... She even came over to my house and we did hair and make up last weekend. We're pretty cool for a 24- and 34-year-old.

Anyway, enough with the words. I feel like the pictures will speak louder.

The before...
(Cardigan, solid colored t-shirt, skinny jeans, Chacos...)
(Oh, and 2011 Abby got bangs recently...)
The after...
(Of course, Jessie got to be a pretty 70s girl, and I was... not.)

It was a good time. That's all I can say...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Try-It Tuesday: Cajun Chicken Pasta

We've become pretty quick fans of the Pioneer Woman in the Thomason house. I remember I first heard of her when I saw some baking blogger that I follow recreate her chocolate sheet cake. I remember thinking "Who the heck is Pioneer Woman? And why would anyone want to bake a sheet cake over a normal, pretty cake?" Well... little did I know... Pioneer Woman is awesome. I love reading her blog, and just recently I've been enjoying (actually, my whole family has) her tv show on the Food Network.

Last weekend on her show (and her blog), the Pioneer Woman cooked Cajun Chicken Pasta. It looked pretty yummy so I thought I'd take a crack at it for this week's Try-It Tuesday. Something tells me my end result wasn't quite like hers... My sauce didn't thicken... so it was kind of a liquidy mess. But it had a great flavor and was overall very delicious! The verdict: a do-over. We've decided it could use a few revisions though. 1. Add some kind of thickener to the sauce, like a bit of flour or something. 2. Use a different pasta than fettuccine because it was difficult to eat. Maybe penne? 3. Dice the peppers instead of slice them. Big pepper slices are also difficult to eat.

Join us next week for another rendition of Try-It Tuesdays! I plan to try something much less involved that doesn't require nearly as much much chopping. :) Oh, and above is Pioneer Woman's picture... below is mine. I know, I know, you can hardly tell a difference.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall list!

I saw this on Pinterest today.

Not to sound like a broken record... but:

1. I love Pinterest.
2. I love fall.
3. I love lists.
4. I love this bucket list and fully intend to complete it. (We'll see about the two dates thing. That's the one that I have doubts about it's completion... but a girl can dream.)

Happy fall! (It's 56 degrees outside and I'm wearing a scarf. Totally fall-like!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pinterest: my escape.

I like my job. I really do. I like that I get to talk to people. I like that I'm challenged on a daily basis because I'm still trying to figure this "finance" stuff out. I like that it involves a lot of problem solving. I like the people that I work with. I like going to work in an office and wearing business casual clothes. And I like that I have benefits and a steady paycheck. I'm pretty blessed.

Sometimes though... sometimes I get a glimpse of a beautiful, creative, outside world, and I kind of crave to get out. Examples of these glimpses: music. When I listen to music while I'm at work, I am reminded of the glorious outside world where you get to crank the music up. Today I was listening to the new Ben Rector album during my break, and it took a lot of effort to take those headphones out of my ears and get back to work. I did it though. No worries.

Another glimpse of the outside world: Pinterest. Have you been on Pinterest? It took me a while to warm up to the idea of a new website that I wanted to devote time to. And it took me a while to figure out how to use the site (I don't know why, it's like I'm an old lady or something...) But once I did... I never looked back. Pinterest: it's this website that basically helps you bookmark sites you've visited, and check out the bookmarks of others. It's beautiful. Plus the sites and things I've been exposed to while I'm on there are so inspiring. The other day I was looking at decorated baked goods and I almost threw off my headset and walked out the door to go home and bake. I didn't do it though. No worries.

Anyway, here are some beautiful things I've seen on Pinterest. If you haven't already, you should check it out. Now. It may just help you survive your cubicle-y day.

A beautiful cake design.

A tutorial for a cute scarf.

An inspiring look for fall... Maybe I'll get the courage to try this out.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Squares (I just can't help myself...)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Try-It Tuesday: Burrito Bowls

So, last week was a busy week in the Thomason house, so I didn't have a chance to make a meal. But, this week: Try-It Tuesday is back! What's on the menu? Chipotle-like Burrito Bowls and I was pretty stinking excited about it!

I stole the idea from Annie's Eats but only ended up using her rice recipe. The verdict: it was good! I'm pretty happy with how it turned out... And, thankfully, it was Mom and Dad approved. (Although they think everything I do is great, whether it truly is or not.) Plus it was reasonably healthy, included some pretty common ingredients, and it was pretty easy to make. I'd say over all... it was a do over!

Here are the recipes that I used:
-Chicken: I just used some chicken breasts and found this Mexican Chicken Rub recipe.
-Rice: I stole Annie's recipe for Cilantro Lime Rice.
-Salsa/Beans: I cheated and combined two in one with this Black Bean and Corn Salsa.
-Sauteed peppers and onions: Thanks to the encouragement of a friend this was a last minute addition.
(I skipped out on the sour cream and cheese to keep it healthy, and honestly, it didn't need it!)

Well, it wasn't Chipotle... but it was good enough for me. So I'm happy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Yellow flowers.

A couple of weeks ago I came to work with a post-it note on my desk from one of my friends from high school that I hadn't seen in about 3 years. I guess one of his friends works at JPMorgan too, and he was touring the building with him over the weekend and came across my desk so he left me a note. The fun note prompted me to mention him on Twitter, and him to send me a Facebook message, and us to set up a time to hang out because it had been so long... (Gotta love social networking, bringing people together, right?) I was a little anxious... you never know if it's going to be awkward or not when you catch up with an old friend. But we met over frozen yogurt and caught up on what we've missed over the last three years, talked a lot about music (that's what we do), and had a really good time. Turns out he's moving to Chicago (this weekend, bummer timing...) but we set up a time to hang out again because he's really into photography and I desire to be really into photography, so I asked if he would teach me a few things...

So this week we got together again. He said, "So, you know those yellow flowers that are lining all of the roads everywhere. Maybe we can go track down some of those and take some pictures." Sadly... I had no idea what he was talking about. I hadn't noticed any yellow flowers anywhere. We drove right across the street from our frozen yogurt meeting spot (he must really like frozen yogurt...) and there was a whole field of them! He tried to teach me a few things about photography. He talked about "aperture", and "ISO" and "shutter speed" and all of this great stuff... that I can't really remember. I mainly listened and shook my head yes like I was following. I wish I took notes, because I don't really think I grasped a thing...

One thing I did grasp though, was that there are all of these beautiful, yellow flowers around and I have been completely missing them. Now that I'm aware, they are everywhere and I'm loving them. So you should be aware, too. That's the point of this post: open your eyes to the yellow flowers around you. The end. (Oh, and I suppose I learned a couple of things about photography, these pictures aren't that bad, right?)

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's coming!

Every year around this time (and when I say every year, I mean the last two, because I haven't been blogging for long...) I get the "fall bug" and blog about how excited I am that fall is near. (Here's my post from 2009 and here's one from 2010...) Let's be honest, pretty much everything I blog from September 1st to about November 30th is about how much I love fall. I'm sorry if I blog about the same things every year, I just can't help it. I love fall. And the world needs to know. (Like these pictures, they're repeats from last year but these leaves are too beautiful to not be highlighted again...)

This week has felt like fall to me! The weather has been unexpectedly (as most Midwest weather is unexpected) beautiful! Sunny and 70s the whole week! Starbucks started serving their Pumpkin Spice Lattes again. I had a pumpkin muffin at Panera the other day (WARNING! Panera's baked goods are ridiculously unhealthy. The calories in that one muffin took up half of what I'm supposed to eat in an entire day.) I wore a scarf on Wednesday! I've been sleeping with the windows open and have been waking up to that amazing chilly feeling where you just want to stay under your blankets for 5 more minutes, make that 10... It feels like fall and it's just been glorious!

I feel like I've been a selfish blogger lately. Blogging about the silly things I do, that maybe people don't really care to hear about. The ultimate goal of this blog is to shed light on the glorious things of life. To pay attention to the little things that make my heart happy (and hopefully after pointing them out to you, they'll make your heart happy, too!) So, instead of focusing on the lame naps I've been taking or the projects I've been working on, I thought I'd point out how great this week has been. I know it's a bit early to be saying this... but happy fall!

P.S. Sorry for the wonky formatting. For some reason when I blog at work my computer messes with things. Maybe it's because I shouldn't be blogging at work. But that's beside the point.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Creativity.

So, the end of my three day weekend is approaching and it's been pretty great. I did pretty much everything I had planned to do except for take a nap yesterday afternoon... I'm pretty ok with that though. (PS After the fact I thought to myself, "I can't believe you just blogged about what you want to do with your weekend, AND you included naps in the line up. People don't care." Sorry about that, ya'll...)

As I had hoped, I got to be creative and it was totally rejuvenating. I ended up baking TWO pies (I've only baked like two pies in my entire life let alone two in the same day). I baked an apple pie (this dulce de leche apple pie) and a variation of my favorite Tollhouse Pie, this chocolate chip cookie pie. I said that I would only bake if I had people to give it to. Well, turns out we had a family get-together last night and so I decided it'd be ok to bake. The chocolate chip pie was gone by the end of the night, with half of the apple left. I intend to bring the leftovers to a party I'm going to tonight so I can get that stuff out of my house!

I also made a wreath! I feel like I had to drive all over the city to find felt in appealing colors, but I finally found some! Saturday night I went over to Jessie's and spent the evening trying to teach myself how to make flowers like these, because all of the tutorials out there show you how to make flowers like these. I didn't figure out exactly how to do it, but I got close enough. So today I finished up my wreath and I'm pretty excited about it. I love how it looks against our white door. It just shouts "fall!" to me for some reason, I don't know why.
Speaking of fall! I was just outside blogging and was trying to keep warm with a blanket and had to actually come inside because it was too cool. Can you believe that? Fall is near, people! Get excited!

Hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend! And I haven't said this lately, but thanks for reading... :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day!

So... a three day weekend is among us! Are you as excited as I am? Probably not... I'm sitting here, in my cubicle world, dreaming of my three day weekend and how I'm going to take advantage of it. So I decided to make a list of the things that I will fill my three day weekend with. Why? 1. Because I'm recently obsessed with lists. 2. Because I'd rather be thinking about my weekend than Roth 401ks and temporary passwords and federal tax withholding right now. 3. Intentionality. I'm not a big fan of the word, but I am a big fan of the concept. I like being intentional with my life, and making lists helps that. (Truthfully, for some reason, I hate the word "intentionality." So no one is allowed to use it. Except for me. And only because I can't think of a better word to describe the same meaning.) Anyway, want to see me list? Want to take part in my list? Some of these things allow, even require participation. I'm always up for a companion.

(So, I actually wrote this a couple of days ago. But now it's Friday, and I'm crazy tired and all I really want to do is sleep. But I'm still going to come up with a list. It may just be a little more tame than I anticipated.)

Friday Night:
-I plan on doing nothing tonight. Absolutely nothing. Maybe watch some Drop Dead Diva because my aunt keeps on telling me how great it is and I have been wanting to get into a new TV show now that some of my beloved shows are no longer... (Lost, Friday Night Lights, ...)

-I plan to sleep in. My family got an invite to go over to Jessie's for cinnamon roll pancakes at 8:00. Who plans breakfast for 8:00 am on a Saturday morning? That'd be my good friend Jessie. And that'd be a "no" as my response to her invitation. Thanks anyway, Jess. :)
-I plan to do something crafty. I saw this wreath on a blog that I frequent (Homemade Ginger, it's so great, check it out) and now I really want to make a fall wreath for our door. Remember when I made this wreath for Christmas? That was such a great time! I want to make another...
-I plan to maybe, just maybe, go boot shopping. I've been checking out some fashion blogs lately, and it's really put me in the mood to fall-ify my warddrobe. Buying another pair of boots would help that. (Plus Gap is having a 40% off sale for all card-members on Saturday. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted...)
-I plan to maybe, just maybe, bake something. The maybe depends on if I can find someone to give it to or not. I won't be baking if not. Remember that 5+ pound weight loss goal I set? Still working on it. Almost there.
-I plan to hang out with Jessie on Saturday night. I won't give her my Saturday morning. But I will gladly hand over my Saturday night to her. It'll be grand!

-I plan to go to church. I've been "church shopping" and am excited to go back to one of the churches I enjoyed the first time I visited!
-I plan to take a Sunday afternoon nap. They are the BEST.
-I plan to play a game, or two, or three with my family. Maybe some Ticket to Ride, maybe some SkipBo, maybe some Settlers of Catan, maybe some Hand and Foot Canasta. Oh! the possibilities are endless...
-I plan to have a great evening with my family, including my aunt and uncle. Word is they are coming over for dinner and I'm pumped. I happen to like them a lot.

-I plan to sleep in... again.
-I plan to do something outside. Maybe go take some pictures. Maybe go for a walk. Maybe find someone to go play frisbee with or something. But word is the weather is supposed to be beautiful so I plan to take advantage of it.
-This day is pretty wide open actually, so I'm up for suggestions.

Only 24 minutes until the big weekend begins. I'm pumped.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

So. good.

I saw my favorite instrumental band Balmorhea in concert on Monday with my friend Alan. This was their first time coming to Kansas City and I wasn't going to miss this concert! They were only the opener for The Low Anthem, and the place was this small (kind 0f gross) bar filled with hipsters... but the concert was amazing!

I guess I don't have a whole lot else to say besides that. It was a great, great show and if you haven't taken the chance to listen to Balmorhea the first 7 times that I've blogged about them. I encourage you to check them out now.

Above is a picture of the show. This kind of strange lady asked to share a booth with us, and she went up and took pictures of the band then offered to send them to me on my phone or become Facebook friends. It was really nice, but I was kind of caught off guard and said, "Ahh thanks, but I'm ok..." I probably should have taken her up on it. It's probably better than the picture above I got from The Pitch. Anyway, below is a live performance of one of my favorites: Baleen Morning. The band is made up of completely different people than when we saw them (besides these two guys that seem to be the loyal ones who are always there...) but it's amazing. They're just amazing.