Friday, October 18, 2013

High Five for Friday (Vol. 6)

Linking up with Lauren for  

1.  French toast bagels!  Have you ever had one?  If you haven't, get out there and find one!  You'll be doing yourself a favor!  This one was compliments of a high school buddy that I (10+ years later) have the pleasure of working with out in the "real world."

2. Veg day!  Sunday was spent in our PJs, catching up on TV, and football.  I could not have been happier for the completely wasted day that was exactly what we needed to refuel for the week!

3.  Authentic California Salsa!  Can I be honest?  I hate salsa!!!  But I LOVE this salsa!  The mother of a coworker in our CA office makes this for us every couple of months. I've never met the woman but I pray that someday I can thank her in person for the joy that this little care package brings to our office, and always exactly when we need it!  A little piece of Mexico right here in Dirty Jersey.


4. I'm going to just go ahead and admit this right now- I'm a dork!  (I know, you already knew that!)  Well to solidify my dork status I'm excited that I discovered these this week-

That's right, facebook stickers!  Holy cuteness!  These things are awesome and have added a whole new level of fun to my chat with some girls from a local IF support group that I belong to.  Yay for adorable technology!

5. And finally, I got to have a grown up sleep over this week!  Jim went out of town with Dave, who had a conference for work in AC (lucky!) so I stayed a couple nights with Lia and baby Collin.  (I feel like it's getting to the point where no post would be complete without mentioning the Timpanaro clan haha.)  While there, I enjoyed a lovely meal prepared by my dear friend, snuggles with the baby, watching a frantic Lia try to get the cat smell out of her carpet thanks to her sick cat (BTW, if anyone has any tricks for this, please please please pass it along,) and snuggles with this lil fatty

Baby, their healthy cat, enjoyed spening the morning with me in Collin's room (which is where I slept) while I wasted time between my blood work and going to work.  It was very nice to get some time with a little furbaby!

How was your week?

Anyone have tips for getting cat smell out of furniture and carpet?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

High 5 For Friday (Vol. 5)


Well, another week is over and oh what a week it's been.  Let's just get to it!

1. This week we'll start with turning a low into a high.  Jim's car was hit while it was parked on the street last Friday.  It stinks but luckily we have good insurance and even better the person who hit the car actually had the decency to call the cops, so maybe we'll get really lucky and be able to go through her insurance.  In the mean time, we've got this kick a$$ rental car!  It's a Kia Optima Hybrid.  We've never owned a hybrid so it's taking some getting used to, but it's good looking and oh so comfortable.  We're enjoying having it and I think I may strongly consider getting it as my next car, whenever that may be!

2. We went shopping on Saturday.  I don't remember the last time we went to the mall and I actually enjoyed myself!  I got a pair of flats and finally bought myself knee high boots!  Hooray for Payless and they're awesome deals!
3. Football Sunday included a family tailgate this week as the Giants took on the Eagles and Jim's Aunt Marie, who lives in Florida, came to visit.  Even better than all of that, we discovered this liquor while perusing the liquor store for tailgate essentials.  The sales clerk insisted on giving us all samples and oh my was it delicious (note this is one of the few times I get excited about not being pregnant because I really do love a good drink.)
4. Tuesday brought 2 great things, so technically this week I have a high 6 for Friday, but I'll cheat and put 2 in 1.  My hours changed at work and I now have off on Tuesday instead of Saturday.  So I got to do laundry and this happened

I didn't even know that was possible!  Hallelujah!  It only lasted about 2 hours, but that was 2 hours of pure joy!  Tuesday also brought me some time with this lil munchkin!

Dave and Lia went looking at some more houses so I got my first chance of watching Collin on my own.  I've babysat dozens of children over the years but I was especially excited for some one on one time with Collin so I can prove to Lia that I can handle taking care of him, and so I didn't feel bad about hogging him away from anyone else.  The last 15 minutes were an epic fail as I've never experienced Dr. Brown bottles and didn't know I was missing a piece, which is why his bottle was leaking and the baby was basically starving.  Hopefully, I'll do better when it comes to feeding him next week when I get my 2nd chance to care for him.

5.  And finally...  Oh does my husband know what I love and I need.  My hours at work have been all over the place, I'm working on securing a promotion, and in the mean time I've been stressed and exhausted.  I stayed late every day I've been in this week, but I came home to this on Wednesday and I could not have been more in love with it or the man that bought it for me.  Seriously, if you've never had red velvet, get some, and if you've never heard of Pepperidge Farm, I feel awful for you.

That's my week in a nutshell, how was your week?  Everybody looking forward to the weekend?  Hope you all have big plans!  I'll be at work on Saturday and probably sleeping on Sunday, but I'm sure the week will have lots of excitement to hold as I begin morning monitoring for my FET cycle (more on that to come in the posts next week.)  Have a great day!
For more High 5 for Friday posts, or to link up your own post, check out The Lauren Elizabeth!

A New Chicken Casserole

Last night, I tried another recipe idea for dinner and it turned out pretty well, so I wanted to share it with y'all!

1 lb Chicken breasts cut into cubes
6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 lb broccoli
Ranch dressing
2 tbs butter/margarine
1 cup bread crumbs

1. Cook chicken til white and mostly cooked through out

2. Mix in the Broccoli and Potatoes  

3. Mix in the entire bottle of ranch dressing, I tried it with just half and when it cooked it was too dry, but feel free to try it with less if you'd prefer.  I recommend using a low fat dressing to try to keep it as healthy as possible.  Then pile everything into a greased baking pan.  If you have truly nonstick pans, then by all means do not bother greasing, my pans sadly will stick and burn to everything I put in them without a bit of pam.

4. Melt the butter and mix in the bread crumbs until they are moist.  Then crumble on top of the casserole, this will make a nice crunchy crust like topping for your dish.

5. If you're like me and you make your meals in the morning or the night before then you'll need to cover the pan and pop it in the fridge until you're ready to cook.  If you're like me and hate using foil wrap because you can never reuse it and it feels like you're throwing away money, may I recommend that you use an upside down cookie sheet to keep the pan covered and safe while it's waiting to be heated up?  The pan is reusable and that way I can save my foil wrap for when I really have no choice.  Am I being cheap?

6. Cook for 45 minutes on 350.  Sadly, Jim cooked and didn't get a picture of the full finished product but this is what it looked like on my plate when I finally made it home almost 2 hours late.  It was so good and a nice change from a typical casserole with pasta.  I think next time I'll use double broccoli and half as many potatoes, I just can't do away with them completely, I need a bit of starch in my life!

Bon Appetite!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

30 before 30 - Part 3

Are you ready for the 3rd and final installment of this list before I roll out my 31 x 31?  Ok!  Here we go!

21. Take a painting/drawing class
     Done!  1/8/2013 I took an Art Uncorked class, thanks to a livingsocial special it was only $25, you can't beat that!  I had a fun night on my own, sipping wine, and trying desperately to recreate the painting they gave us as inspiration, but with more color.  It didn't turn out half bad!  I hope to take another class this year, maybe even bring some friends along with me.

22.  Learn to blow dry my hair as well as Kristal (my sister in law and resident hair stylist, it's literally what she does for a living!)
     1/2 done!  I've gotten way better at it and I'm much more willing to do it but I'm still no professional.  I feel this will continue to be a life long goal.

23.  Learn to crochet.
     Technically, done.  My mom taught me how and I started to make a blanket for Collin.  Shortly after she got me started we moved back to NJ and I lost my project.  When I found it in December while unpacking in our apartment, I had completely forgotten what to do.  Me thinks this will go back on the 31 x 31 list....

24.  Get my real estate license
     I would love, love, LOVE to be a realtor.  Ever since I was little and going from house to house with my parents during our several moves, I've loved reading listings, seeing what houses have to offer, and learning what makes a house a home!  My husband is a realtor and I'd love it if we could be a team, and I'd love it even more if we could break into the big time markets around our home.  He works in downtown Jersey City which is up and coming, and booming with big prices, but I'd love to go to Hoboken or better yet NYC.  Needless to say, I didn't get to go to school for this this year, but hopefully I'll be able to go soon.

25.  See the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
     Technically I saw it back in 2009 when we were on our honeymoon in Florida, but that's quite a stretch since we was still being built.  *sigh* Maybe next year we can go back for our 5 year anniversary.

26.  Better relationships with my family
    I love my family and when we're together we're close but when we're a part it's like we don't really exist to each other.  It's hard because we live in different states and are just busy.  I wanted to make more time for them this year but only made it to Connecticut 3 times so far this year.  If I can make it there 10 times in this coming year, I'd be a very happy and satisfied lady.

27. Do at least 10 of the craft projects I've pinned on pinterest
     I've actually done a lot of the things that I've pinned over the year.  That requires a post all on it's own.  Coming Soon....

28.  Go to an NYC parade
     We had our chance at Thanksgiving, but Jim refused.  :-(

29.  Go to a big festival (i.e. Mardi Gras or a music festival)
    We didn't go to a big fancy one like the ones I listed but we did make it to NYC Little Italy's San Genaro festival in September 2012 and the AC Beer Festival in April 2013.  Both were awesome, full of good food, good drinks, and good times, I hope to be able to continue going to festivals and someday build up the really big ones!
Entrance to the Beer Festival

30.  Last but certainly not least, start a blog.
     Hmm.... you may have heard of a little something called stumbling along....  yea, that's me!  All kidding aside, I've wanted to write this for a long time.  Sometimes I just think of my car drives to and from work, or in the shower, or while I'm cooking, or anywhere really, and I'll think "hmmm.... I should write that down"  But I never did.  I signed up for this site long before I finally started to actually write, but now that I do, I couldn't be happier!

Do you have any lists of goals?  Perhaps your own 30 before 30?  Let me know, I'd love to check it out!

Stay tuned for my 31 x 31.  I'm writing out my list now and I'll be posting as I get to cross things off!

Monday, October 7, 2013

30 before 30 - Part 2

A couple of days ago I posted the first 10 items on my 30 before 30 list and I realized that it was getting kind of long, which is why I decided to break the list into 3 posts.  Hopefully, you're as interested in this list as I am!  It took a long time to write it out, and stick with it, I edited it more than a handful of times.  Even though I didn't cross everything over, it still helped to shape the last year of my 20's into a pretty memorable and happy one.  I strongly recommend making lists of your own, if you don't already.

11.  Watch at least 10 classic movies
     I failed horribly at this goal!  I fall asleep way too easily and almost no one wants to watch them with me, which would help to keep me awake.  Perhaps I will try again this year!

12.  Tour wine country
     This was half accomplished.  I wanted to tour Napa, but never made it out west.  However, Jim, my mom, and I did take a guided tour into the wine country of Lehigh Valley, PA!  It was a bus tour that included a guide, food, and best of all wine.  The trip was dampened by the girl behind me spilling half a bottle of red wine on my favorite tan jacket when the bus hit a bump on our way back to the pickup point, but hey it makes for a good story.  I recommend checking out the wineries in your area, or in near by states!  I had no idea that this was soemthing that was done pretty much everywhere!

13.  Explore 3 museums in DC.
     Yep, another failure.  Jim went to DC to see his cousin who is getting a Masters in Forensic Psychology, but I had to work.  Luckily, I didn't go becasue I got sick while he was away and would have been a total party pooper!

14.  Be in 4 places at once.
     I want to go here!  I need to go here!  Sadly, I have not gotten to go here, yet!

15. Drive an audi
     All I wanted to do was test drive my favorite car, and no it's not my favorite becuase of Christian Grey, alhtough that does help!  Jim thinks it's silly.  I think one of these days while he's working on a weekend, I'm going to go to a dealership and see if they'll let me take one for a spin.

16.  See Niagra Falls.
     Fail.  Can I say more?  We suck at traveling!

17.  Improve my French.
    I took it in high school and pretty much sucked at it, but I wanted to try, just in case I ever get to travel to France or Europe in general ever again.  I downloaded the app, duolingo, did about 30 minutes of exercise, then went back to work after my lunch break and never opened the app again.  I'll try harder next time.

18.  Learn 5 ethnic meals
     I was brought up on Italian and Jewish food.  I wanted to learn something more exotic!  I did learn out to make rice the way my Spanish friend's family does but other than that I didn't really achieve this goal.

19.  Improve my cake decorating skills/take a baking class.
     Although I tried a lot of new recipes over the year and really improved on my ability to make a soft and delcious treat, I did not improve my decorating and I did not take a class.

20.  Be more social- join groups, have a girls night, etc...
     I did join several groups on MeetUp, and even planned to go to several of their get togethers, but life and work got in the way and I never made it to anything.  Apparently, they kick out inactive members.  I did put together and awesome girls night out to the the Melting Pot in Hoboken in Jnauary!  We had a great meal for only $20 becasue Monday night is ladies night, but our schedules are all out of wack and we never got together for just a girls night after that.  I do feel like overall I have become more willing to go out and am trying to make a better effort to see my friends and not just stalk them on facebook, but I still have a long way to go.

Wow!  I never realized how much I didn't accomplish until I wrote out this post!  Definitely hoping that my next list, 31 x 31, will be more fruitful than 30 before 30 was!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

30 before 30 - Part 1

On Thursday I posted about letting go of resentment and finally letting myself live.  I also mentioned how I had created a list of things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30.  Without further ado, here is the 1st 10 items from that list, with the run down of what I actually was able to accomplish!

1. Loss weight
     The goal was to loss 100 lbs and get back to the weight I was when I met Jim.  I only lost about 25 lbs, but I was happy with that since I've pretty much never lost weight in my life! 

2. Make going to the gym a part of my regular routine.
     Success, and not so much success.... For about a year I got into the habit of going to the gym at 5 am so that I could work out before work about 4 to 5 times a week, and even attempted working out on the weekends while I did laundry (the laundromat is in the same complex.)  Sadly, earlier this year I just lost motivation and haven't been back since about February.  I really need to get back into the swing of things.

3. Run a 5 k. 
     Done!  My Uncle Anthony drove to NJ from CT at 5 am on Saturday 9/26/2012 and ran a local 5 K with me in the county park down the street from my house.  I ran/walked, more walked than ran, but I did it, and he helped, and it was awesome.  Here we are right after running and on our way to get a much deserved breakfast-
4. Read 50 books. 
     I feel like all my life all I ever wanted was to read something that I wasn't assigned to read for school.  Then when I graduated, I never really took advantage of that free time to enjoy reading.  I needed to make that a focus.  I didn't read 50 but I did read nearly 40 and I kept track of all of it on goodreads.  I have a lot more that I want to read, but I've been wasting time and really need to get back to that!

5. Read the entire Bible.
     Done!  I downloaded the youversion Bible app.  It has lots of great plans, including a Bible in 365 days plan.  I would listen/read every morning while I was at the gym.  I really enjoyed it, and would like to read it again. 

6. Find a Church I feel at home in. 
     Still haven't found a church that I feel comfy in, but I plan to add this to my 31 x 31 list!

7. See the Sun rise on the Atlantic and set on the Pacific. 
     I still haven't been further west than Indiana, but we did go to a Beer Festival in April and stayed in Jim's uncle's beach front penthouse condo.  I had no idea how beautiful a sunrise could be!  I was able to get some fantastic pictures.

8. See the first showing/midnight showing of a "major movie"
     My cousins and sister in law LOVE Twilight, and so do I!  We met up after work, had dinner, then waited in line for the 10 pm first showing of the final installment.  I was not disappointed!  The movie was all right compared to the book, but getting time with my friends/family, and getting to be a part of that excitement was totally worth it!

9. Go on a family vacation.
     Technically, this didn't happen before I was 30 but we did go to OBX for a week with my parents at the end of August/beginning of September.  It was stressful, my mom is sometimes tough to get a long with, but it was beautiful, and it was the first full vacation I've been on since my honeymoon in 2009.  It was so worth it and I hope to do it again next year!

10.  See the taping of a TV show!
     We're trying to get in to see SNL but it hasn't happened yet.  Anyone have a recommendation for how to get in to see the taping of a TV show?

Well folks, that's it for now!  Stay tuned til next time when I highlight items 11- 20 on my list!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cheesy Bacon Ranch Baked Chicken

**Note that all dinner recipes are portioned out for only 2-3 people, I usually have a bit left over for lunches.  You may need to double if you have a bigger family**

Last night I played with another new recipe, this one is actually Jim's creation.  It's not as healthy has the baked tilapia but it is different and it can be used with "healthier" ingredients so you won't feel quite so guilty eating it!

2 chicken breasts, cut in half
Shredded cheddar cheese
Ranch dressing
Bacon bits

1. Preheat oven to 375, grease a cooking pan
2. Arrange all 4 pieces of chicken in the pan and cover with Ranch Dressing.  I use low fat and I don't pour the whole bottle!  Just drizzle it over each piece to your liking, this is just for a little taste.
3. Sprinkle cheese over each piece, I like to put a lot on, but again do this to your preference.  Jim hates really gooey cheese, but I love it, so I do 2 with a lot and 2 with a little.
4. Sprinkle bacon bits.  I like to use the Oscar Mayer real Turkey bacon bits, but if you have time and can make your own, or you prefer another brand, more power to you!

This is what mine look like before I bake them

5. Cook for 35-45 minutes, it depends on how thick the pieces are, I strongly recommend cutting into the center of your thickest piece to be certain.

They'll be juicy, tender, and oh so tasty.  It's definitely becoming a fan favorite in the Cook household.

Here's the finished product served with brown rice and carrots,
definitely healthier sides than I put with the Tilapia!


High Five for Friday! (Vol. 4)

As you all know, I have a love affair with Friday and this indeed is my Happy Friday Face!  Here's the run down of my top 5 moments/events of the week!

1. Murder Mystery in NYC!  My parents bought me tickets to this for my 30th birthday, way back on June 6th, and we finally went to a show.  It was a bit corny but it was still awesome to get out in the city, with our best friends, and just enjoy ourselves.  Here's Dave and Lia, and then Jim and me!

2. Football Sunday!  One of the best parts of Fall is getting together with my in laws, ordering delicious food, watching the game, and just kicking back.  Here's Jim in his cousin's party glasses, what a goof ball!  (If you've read my earlier posts from this week, yes this is after our big fight, no it has not been fully resolved, yes I still love him and just have to put on my big girl pants to deal with it sometimes!)

3. Big things are happening at work.  My boss took me out for a bit of Halloween decoration shopping and highlighted where she wants our department to be and where she wants me to be in the department.  I won't go into details, but I will say I'm a very happy girl to finally feel like I have a career!  We also moved around our office a lot this week, which included a move for my desk.  I'm so happy with my new location, I feel really good about where things are headed.  This is a pretty bad picture but I'm now in the corner, and with my little mirror I can always see who's coming in, I love it!

4. Best friend time!  Yes, I write about Lia and Dave a lot.  Yes, we spend a decent amount of time with them.  But, I haven't gotten one on one best friend time in forever!  On Wednesday night, Dave was the best dad/husband/friend he could possibly be and gave Lia and I 2 solid hours on our own to just talk.  We sat in Collin's nursery with the door shut and just talked, while he fed and played with the lil munchkin.  I needed that girl time more than anyone will probably ever know, and I'm so grateful to both of them for making it happen.  I'm even more grateful to Lia for asking me to come over, she knew I needed it without me saying anything.  You can't ask for better friends!  Here we are at a friend's birthday party about a year ago.

5. Finally!  I found these delicious creations at my local 7-eleven.  I had seen them a couple of weeks ago on Shark Tank (I couldn't get the IMDB link to work) but I had seen them in the store earlier this year.  After seeing them on TV, I wanted to get some for Jim to try but couldn't find them, so I thought the sharks may have pulled them from the store and made them move somewhere more "prestigious."  But this morning when I went in for a bagel, there they were, right at the front counter.  I'm so excited and it's killing me to not eat them, but I bought them for Jim, and I have to make sure he gets at least 1!  Have you ever had them?  They're so yummy!! And for $1 it's not even worth it to make them yourself!

That's my week in a nut shelf.  Nothing too fabulous, but it's still helping me to be grounded and remember the good more than the bad.  Now I'm just counting the seconds, minutes, hours to getting out of work and on my way to the monthly poker tournament, I made it in again, hooray!  Have a fantastic week!

You can link up your High Five for Friday here!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Simple and Healthy Baked Tilapia

The past 2 weeks have been busy but I'm still trying to find ways to keep my mind off the idea that we may have gotten pregnant this month, that I'm late, I'm I'm dreading taking a test because I just cannot handle another BFN!  One of the ways that I'm keeping myself busy is cooking.  I try to cook every night during the week but things have gotten a bit mundane.  When I saw that Tilapia was on sale this week at the local Aldi, I thought I had to try to make it, since it had been quite a while since we had fish.

Growing up we always had fish 1 of 2 ways- fried or baked.  While the fried fish is delicious, especially the way my Nonnie make it, it's not very healthy.  Of course it's better to bake it, but I didn't want to just put it on a cooking sheet and bake it without seasoning, where is the fun in that?  So after looking at what I had in my pantry and fridge, this is what I came up with.

Simple, Healthy, and Tasty Baked Tilapia

4 cuts of Tilapia
3/4 cup of bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 table spoon Italian Seasoning
A pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 425
2.  Blend all dry ingredients in a shallow dish

3.  Dredge the fish in the mixture on both sides. 

4. Place all 4 pieces on a lightly greased pan. I topped them with the rest of the breading , to help it get crispy.  Bake for 8 minutes, then flip, and bake for another 4 minutes.  Pieces will be slightly crispy and very flaky.

Here is the finished product.  I don't know the exact calorie count but it's way healthier than fried fish and a nice change from the chicken we've been having so often lately.  Try to ignore that I made mashed potatoes and corn with it and completely killed the healthy aspect of the meal, I was craving some "comfort" food.