Chicago Adventure

I’ve spent 15 days in my new Chicago home so far, and while I try to maintain a positive attitude, I have to admit that they have not been very kind to me.

I moved in during one of the worst winter storms to hit the Midwest in decades. DECADES!

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I hauled boxes from my Jeep, up two flights of slippery winter stairs with a smile on my face because I was finally in Chicago! And then Monday came and the temperatures got ridiculous:

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And then I got a flat tire:

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And then I got a flat spare tire:

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And then I had to save up some money and take my Jeep in for NEW tires:

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And then my beloved Golden Retriever passed away (I do not mean to throw this in here like just another thing, but I can’t elaborate right now because I’m still too sad):

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And then I got a parking ticket for parking like a jerk:

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Hopefully the next 15 days here will not be quite so rough!

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Mini Broccoli & Cheese Quiche

I cannot wait to try these with other ingredients!

photo 1 (1)Mini Broccoli & Cheese Quiche – Recipe makes 10

12 oz. broccoli, steamed and set aside
4 eggs
1/3 cup of milk
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Grease muffin tin with olive oil.
– Steam broccoli, then chop and set aside.
– In a separate bowl whisk eggs, milk, mustard and pepper together.
– Stir in broccoli, onion and cheese.
– Ladle into muffin tin.
– (optional) Garnish each with grated Parmesan cheese before baking.
– Bake 15 minutes.

Personally, I forgot to pick up Dijon mustard when I went grocery shopping for the week and they were still really yummy! I also used shredded mozzarella instead of cheddar. Next time, I’m trying these with other veggies and maybe throwing in some ham!

 

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Chicken Teriyaki w/ Peanuts

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Chicken Teriyaki w/ Peanuts

Recipe allegedly makes 4 servings, but I cut it in half thinking I would have leftovers for the weekend and it made the perfect amount for dinner for one.

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. uncooked chicken breast
4 medium scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth (I used turkey broth… whatever you have)
2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
2 cups COOKED rice, kept hot and set aside (the ratio is 1:3 uncooked:cooked if you aren’t sure)
4 cups of broccoli, steamed

– Spray skillet with non-stick spray and set over medium heat.
– When hot, add garlic, stirring approximately 1 minute
– Add chicken until golden on all sides
– Add scallions until soft
– Add broth and teriyaki sauce. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce slightly reduces.
– Serve over rice

BTW I completely forgot to add the broccoli which was the whole point, because I need to use mine… But I watched it cook towards the end I thought a handful of peanuts might taste great, so I tossed those into the skillet!

 

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Cheesy Broccoli Stuffed Shells

I just finished eating these and they are SO good!

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Recipe makes 6 servings:

15 oz. ricotta cheese
10 oz. broccoli, thawed & well-drained
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
18 jumbo shells, cooked and drained
24 oz. marinara sauce

1. Stir ricotta, broccoli, 1/2 the mozzarella, Parmesan and pepper in a bowl. Spoon 2 Tbsp. of mixture into each shell.

2. Spread 1 cup of sauce in a 13″x 9″x 2″ shallow baking dish. Place filled shells in sauce. Pour remaining sauce over shells. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella over top.

3. Bake @ 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.

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21st Century Technology Addiction

Sometimes life can take you by surprise with how busy it is.  We give up things that matter to us because we get so preoccupied with taking care of all the nitty-gritty details of daily life; paying bills, making sure the cat is fed, writing that 10 page research paper that’s due tomorrow, etc.  The first thing to go so often for me is writing.  I wish it weren’t the case because writing is something that I really enjoy.  It’s a great release!  But each time I give up writing for an extended period of time, and after enough time goes by, I realize how much I truly miss it and want to immerse myself in it again ASAP.

…. The problem is picking it back up.  You can’t just pick up where you left off.  You have to wait for something to strike you.  Something you find particularly remarkable and worthy of your followers’ attention… if you even have followers anymore…

Anyway, I finally got my “noteworthy” bit of life and decided that I could finally pick up the pen again, so to speak.

Technology.  Laptops.  Smart phones.  When did young Americans become so dependent on immediate access to the internet 24/7?  I mean, I have known for ages that people poke fun at my generation for being so into our technology.  Usually though I just brush it off and chalk it up to the older generation’s unintentional failure to keep up with our rapidly changing modern technology.  It is just a generational divide.  No big deal.  WRONG!

This past week I finally caught a glimpse of the technology dependency issues and inability to interact with other human beings because of that dependency.

I won’t lie.  I am certainly guilty of using my own smart phone in social settings.  Sure, I’ve shot a text message to a friend in the middle of a crowded party or scoped out the weather in the morning while inadvertently ignoring my boyfriend’s chatter (God love him).  However, I would like to think that I possess enough self-restraint to know when enough is enough and when my smart phone usage is just obscenely inappropriate.

Picture this: You’re in the Irish countryside.  You’ve spent the past two days on a whirlwind tour of the city and you just want to kick back and relax for an evening by the sea in your hotel bar with your friends and recap on all the fun things you’ve done and all of the things you’re hoping to see together in the coming days.  You go up to the bar and order a pint of Guinness, chat for a moment with the old man ordering a beer next to you, and then you turn around to your table to see three heads looking down with the white glow of their smart phone LCD screens shining in their faces.  Perhaps momentarily taken aback, you decide to give them the benefit of the doubt because, let’s face it; this is the only place you’ve sat down in the past two days with a reliable Wi-Fi connection.  You think they will just quickly check for messages before setting their pocket computers down and engaging in their actual lives –  you know, the ones happening on vacation in a foreign country.

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I cannot tell you how disappointed I was to be greeted with the same scenario for seven days.  Not just in the hotel bar. No, this happened on any means of public transportation we hopped onto that might have a wireless connection.  Or in restaurants where you had to even go out of your way to ask for the password for the wireless connection.  The Guinness Storehouse, the train station, the pubs, shopping malls, everywhere!

Maybe it’s just me, but when someone spends 90% of their time in my presence with their face buried in their technology, I feel like they are waving a giant sign in my face that says, “F^ck you, my phone is WAY more interesting than I could ever possibly find YOU.”  If that is truly the case then don’t travel with me to another country.  I would just as soon have spent that same amount of money traveling with people who actually wanted to enjoy my company.

Anyhow, that’s my observation (or probably more like a rant) about the generation of people I’m growing up with.  At the very least, it’s got my fingers moving again.  Hopefully life doesn’t interrupt again for a while and keep me away for too long!

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Friends for Life

My boyfriend told me that someone once told him you only have five true friends who will always be there for you over the course of your life. One solid handful. I feel blessed to already have one of mine at the ripe little age of twenty-three and even more fortunate to have met her when I was only twelve. I have other friends who I believe may take up other  metaphorical “fingers” at some point, but so far, only one.

I met Michelle in seventh grade, but to be honest we didn’t really hit it off until eighth grade and I attribute this greatly to the fact that we shared a locker, a boyfriend, and 7 of our 8 classes together. What I didn’t know at the time was how lucky I had gotten to have her as my middle school partner in crime. When my father’s military career and a move clear across the country separated us after our freshman year of high school we remained close and I know I will be able to count on her for the rest of my life. Today she lives out in Washington state finishing her elementary education degree, a dream she has had ever since I can remember. I am so proud of where she is and the person she has become and I truly admire and look up to her every single day of my life. She is outstandingly strong, funny, intelligent and independent.

From our tiny shared locker in the hallway of Central Middle School to sunbathing in her front lawn, “camping” in my parents’ pop-up trailer, instant messaged heart-to-hearts when I believed in nobody else during my time in New Jersey, mini road trips to Beluga Point, the most ridiculous New Years Eve of my life to first tattoos together, bowling dates with friends (one of whom turned out to be the love of her life) and now pick-me-up greeting cards sent the old fashioned way, we have truly created a lasting friendship that ONLY the bonds of sisterhood can rival.

This tiny dedication in my blog can never suffice to show my gratitude, but Michelle E. W. – this one’s for you. Love you long time and you bet your behind there’s a spot on the furry rug for you!

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Na Blo’s January = FRIENDS

This month’s theme is Friends and I figured the best way to start is with my best friend who has been there from the start… I’m of course talking about my little sister. This year on Christmas morning we received small matching silver bracelets inscribed with the phrase “A sister is a forever friend” which is something I couldn’t agree with more. When I got home to Alaska she was already home from college, we had not seen each other in an entire year, yet it was as if we had just gotten together for lunch earlier in the week. I know we will always be there for each other no matter what happens in our lives. With a sister comes a reliability and loyalty that will never be matched by any person you could ever meet over the rest of your life. I’m so blessed to have such a wonderful, loving baby sister.

 

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