Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First Grown Up Business Trip

I am currently on my first REAL out of state business trip, I might be a little shocked but its a first!  I just continue to feel so blessed to have this job and everything, just being on this trip is icing on the cake of this job.  I can't express enough how grateful I feel and continuously see/feel God's plan for my life.  I think that is because I waited and prayed for this job for over a year and it exceeds my expectations and needs on a daily basis.  Just for a taste of what I'm blessed/thankful for and get to experience this week.
1. Marble bathroom
2. Hotel Room to myself
3. A new city!( I've been out of the country but I've never been west of Nebraska) Salt Lake City is beautiful
4. The view from my hotel room is fantastic(we're in downtown SLC but I can still see mountains, AWESOME)
5. King sized bed ALL TO MYSELF, not that my queen size bed isn't fantastic but I do enjoy ginormous beds.
6. Hugging people, apparently that is the culture of this company.  We shake hands then we hug, its pretty cool!
7. I love flying and airplanes and I haven't flown since 2006.  Its like being on an extended roller coaster ride!
8. Obama was going through the Des Moines airport today and you would think security would be pretty tight.  I got through the first check point not knowing that I had my co-worker's boarding pass.  I had checked in with it and no one ID'd me.  Props to Des Moines!(I'm more humored by this than anything)
9. ASL is a fantastic language and I really want to learn, I think I'm very fortunate to be in the industry I'm in.
10. Its not a vacation but it feels like it because even being away for a couple hours/knowing I'll be gone for a couple of days makes me very thankful for home and everyone/everything about it!

OK, reading then bed for me, bright and early wake up call for a day full of meetings and lots to learn!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

In regards to the post "Revelations"

Please read the second "Revelations" not the first, the first has an inappropriate typo that I corrected in the second.  I apologize to all!


I've had a lot of revelations this past week, so many that I thought I needed to document them.
1. I hate dried bananas, they gross me out.  I didn't like them as a kid and my former reaction will still stand as an adult.  I will only eat barely all yellow/some green bananas, nothing more nothing less.
2. Speaking of adult, my adulthood is screaming loud and clear recently.  As the aforementioned blog post stated, I will hopefully/prayerfully be buying a new car sometime in the very near future. I looked, narrowed it down to 4 "likes", set up an excel spreadsheet of all the specs and from there narrowed it down to two that I will test drive in the next couple of days and possibly make a decision from there.  It is so very surreal to me how adult all of this analysis and research is.  I think that would be my job lurking in the back of my head( I analyze a lot of stuff for work).  This is very adult of you Mer.
3. I hate pomegranate seeds.  They are so gross and I can't stand them.  I don't usually meet foods that I don't like but I had to throw my beloved Greek yogurt away because I had purchased pomegranate Greek yogurt and I could not get past the taste/texture.  It's like biting into a flesh pocket with a hard seed in the middle, sick!
4. I like oatmeal made with water.  I used to only eat it made with milk or some kind of milky substance.  Today: not the case.  I didn't have any milky substance at work so I resorted to water because I was craving my homemade instant oatmeal that I had brought for breakfast and hadn't eaten yet.
5. I love nut butter.  Hazlenut, Cashew, Peanut, whatever else I will try in the future I will probably like as well.  and I most certainly like it on my oatmeal too!!!
6. My family is awesome. This is not just a recent revelation but a continuous one!
7. I'm going on my first business trip on Tuesday through Friday night and again with the adulthood kicking in!  This is the first time I've traveled without family or a group from school.  Besides the weekend train ride we took to Portugal from Spain.  6 girls, 8 hours, 1 train car, endless amounts of fun!
8. I will have to part with my dear friend, the '98 Dodge Avenger that I so dearly love.  The one that my mom and dad got for me(well they said it was a family car but we all knew it was mine!) when I was still only 15.  This revelation is somewhat hard to swallow.  Its like realizing a piece of you is leaving forever.  I know I'm being dramatic but seriously, what kid doesn't have a fondness for their first car, and for me to have it for 10+ years, its a special bond!
9. I love my job, again with the continuous revelations but I can't say enough how blessed I am to have it!
10. Josh McDowell is coming back to Des Moines for the THIRD time this weekend!!!!!!  Busy guy but he loves him some Des Moines!  check out www.thedtc.org for times, it will totally be worth your while!



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

We've all known this day was coming, that there would be an end to this story.  My lovely car, the only one I've ever owned/driven/loved/adored, has hit the point of no return.  The repairs on it are going to be more expensive than what a) the car is worth and b) what I want to spend in one shot.  So now begins the search for a different one.  I'm not picky, which I think is making this harder but there are three things I want/need in a car: 1. Reliability(I know that includes many factors like brand, mileage, type, etc. ) 2. Affordable and 3. Low mileage(lower than my car has now) for the age of the car.  So I'm trying to go about this methodically and giving it the weight it deserves but not over thinking it, like I sometimes do.  So, what I'm going to ask you all, out there in the blogosphere, to pray for this and for my decision.  Like I said, I'm not picky and I'm not going to wish for my dream car but I do need something.  Thank you all in advance! OH and I'm leaving on a plane for Salt Lake City on Tuesday!  I'm excited, no need for a car all next week.  Other automobiles will be used!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pineapple, Coconut, Vegan, Pumpkin, Pies, Sweet Potatoes, etc.

So, I've been reading multiple food blogs lately: Vegan mostly, healthy, no so healthy, and pretty much everything in between.  I'm thinking about going vegan, meaning I would only eat plant based food.  While I eat a lot of plant based foods anyway, I still love my cheese and yogurt(Chobani Pineapple Greek Yogurt is absolutely AMAZING, better than icecream and like heaven on a spoon.  I've purchased two weeks worth of one flavor which NEVER happens.  I'm a girl who likes her variety!). I have been trying to cook more vegan, because in my mind, it provides me with an excuse to try LOTS of new things.  I made 7 layer bars, you know the graham cracker crusted gooey sweetened condensed milky, chocolately chippy, nutty goodness bars, VEGAN!  While I did find a vegan sweetened condensed milk recipe, and I will be trying it in time, the recipe I found called for coconut milk and sugar to replace the sweetened condensed milk and of course vegan butter to replace the "REAL" stuff.  Reviews: the crust wasn't crusty enough for me and the gooey part was more custardy but all together it was really good and using walnuts instead of pecans was a really good alternative too!  While eating them, my thoughts were, " These are VEGAN and they are REALLY good, totally bad for me still but REALLY good, maybe I can do this vegan thing." Special note: they are AMAZING cold.  Highly recommended by myself and those who they were made for!
Well I have talked to a couple people on this topic.  My dad's take on it was the "Meat is the best protein you can eat, not that plant stuff." Well he might not have said exactly that but the jist of it is true.  I gave up meat almost three years ago, about six months ago I did start eating chicken and fell back into the same food rut that I had gotten out of when I went vegetarian, so alas I went back to being a vegetarian and I like it!  I've also liked being a visiting vegan.  I'm still up in the air but I like the prospects of being vegan.  Let me know your thoughts! If I were to go vegan, it does not mean I wouldn't still cook the same yummy things I do now.  I just wouldn't eat them and I would probably try and make them vegan at some point. A challenge, but I like it!
 I was reading a food blog and they mentioned Pumpkin Beer!  I knew it existed and I've always wanted to try it, 2 hangups thought: 1. I don't drink much anymore or at all and 2. I HATE beer with a passion.  I'll taste it but I really don't like it but its PUMPKIN and that may just overshadow the fact that its beer if given the chance to try it.  I probably won't seek it out but if it happens to find me, I might considered trying it.
If you read my blog, you've probably read the last post about the sad news I got yesterday.  Well I think i was trying so hard not to cry at work more than I already had, I gave myself a migraine.  I couldn't sleep it off because I had set last night as the day to make 5 pies for our churches HogRoast and I had friends coming over to help me.  It was just what the doctor ordered, seriously, THE BEST NIGHT EVER!!!!!  Filled with many faves: friends( whom are amazing and I can't say it and express it enough), sister who provided the commentary, the curious gato named Baily, and cooking!  Well I think we all learned something last night in the small one person kitchen.  We knocked out 5 pies(one failed but more on that later), learned how to put a disposable pie plate together, Liz and Jes learned how to use a grater, I learned how to use a citrus juicer, Jes got sweetened condensed milk in Liz's hair and we all got Pumpkin on our shirts!
First Apple: I bought way too many apples so I think I will be making another apple pie tonight to keep at home, possibly vegan pasty will be tried!  The apples we tasted were amazing, no recipe just by feel and I think everyone will like what we came up with!
The Pumpkin: things got sticky.  So Jes enlightened us with a tidbit of info, there's another pumpkin shortage this year??????????  So that is why I couldn't find Libby's(with the standard lovely recipe on the label) so I bought the kind I could find which also had a recipe on the back, just a bit different than I'm used to but I think it turned out all the same or hopefully maybe even better.  It used sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk.  Everything else was the same though.
The tart and sassy Key lime was next: IT ONLY BAKED FOR 15 MINUTES,   we were all a little skeptical about this but it seemed to be fine and Liz got her hands dirty making the crust for us.
The the southern belle, Peach: I couldn't find Rhubarb so instead I made peach.  It was still baking when the girls left but I think it looks like a gem!
Finally French Silk: seemed so simple and looked like it would be amazing to taste.  WELL let me just tell you, we only needed one ounce of chocolate and I went through the entire bar because I messed it up so many times and I have now deemed it a failure and something that I will try some other time.  Simple instructions: make sure all ingredients are room temperature: done.  I set them out as soon as I got home and made that pie last.  Second whip into submission for a LONG time, done.  I needed a break anyway.  Third: REALIZE YOU DID SOMETHING WRONG AND START OVER.    Fine, I am human and fallible so I'll try again.  EPIC FAIL THIS TIME, I conceited defeat for now and will try it again later.  So, now i have an empty pie shell that I need to fill, well not need but I have it, might as well find something to fill it with.  We will see.  And that was my wonderful night!
OH sweet potatoes, I just love them.  They are the humble servant to the regular potato but the true diamond in the rough.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Crying in the girls' room...........

No it's not what you think! But I have done a lot of cryin' in the girls' room, and not because a guy broke my heart or some vicious rumor was circulating about me.  For some reason I find solace in bathrooms, call it a weird quirk but it is true.  I think it is because bathrooms are a place where people don't bother you, or its socially unacceptable to bother someone else in a bathroom, everyone minds their own business so whether someone is in the next stall or not you can cry your eyes out as much as you want and no one will say a word.  My mom died on our bathroom floor at home almost 10 years ago and I would go lay on the floor where she took her last breath and remember and cry, the type of cry that no matter how hard you fight it, its going to keep coming until there are no more tears left.  Whenever I hear of someone dying, I immediately run to the closest bathroom because the tears are going to burst out before I can even realize what is happening.  Today I learned of a friend's dad who passed away.  She and I have been friends since first grade and have continued to be friends ever since.  As soon as I could, I grabbed my phone to call her and ran out the door to the bathroom.  She picked up the phone with tears in her voice and we just cried.  I had visited her a couple weeks ago, for the first time since her wedding two years ago, in the mean time she also had a son whom I had never met.  We call/email but this is the first time I had visited and it was fantastic because her parents stopped by also.  I remember driving home that day, and thinking that it was a perfect day.  It was a bright sunny day, my sister let me drive her new car so I was driving with the sunroof open down the highway with very few cars on it, just me, my thoughts and an open road, visited an old friend, got to see her wonderful parents, and going to church to top off the day.  It truly was a perfect day.  There's just some special bond between a person and the parents of his/her childhood friends.  They sometimes become your second set of parents.  My friend's parents are wonderful, they do remind me of my own.  Even after I moved away and would come back home to visit we would start the conversation like no time had passed and like I still lived down the gravel road.  I think I knew that day, as I drove away from her house,  I would never see her dad again.  She had said it was only a matter of months the doctors had given him after a long battle with cancer.  I've never had to deal with a family member or friend having cancer let alone losing someone to cancer, but I have had to deal with death, more than one should ever have to deal with it at the age of 26.  For the past 11 years, I've gone to at least one funeral a year and very few of them had been older people who had lived a full life and it was "just the end of their road". They were a friend, a little girl, my mom, parents of my friends, siblings of my friends, people who still had their entire lives ahead of them.  Every time I hear of a death, I'm reminded that God has such bigger plans than we can even imagine.  What we see as unfair or too soon, He sees as just right and perfect, for those that follow Him.  While some people I may not see in Heaven, some I know I will.  Because we have put our faith, hope and trust in the Lord and because of that we will meet again someday.  Every time I go to a funeral, I'm reminded that by making the decision to follow the Lord I secured an amazing fate when I die.  And I am no longer scared of death.  So if you're reading this, and you're not sure where you'll end up when you die, let me know.  I'd love to see you again someday!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

26 things about me

I believe there was a Facebook thread that was doing this a while ago but in honor of my recent 26th birthday(on August 29, dad.  If you're reading this!) I am going to share 26 things about myself that most people might not know.
1.  I won a talent competition by playing "Amazing Grace" on the piano, now I can barely play the first five notes.  "Amazing Grace" is still and probably will always be one of my favorite songs.
2. I can do the Pee Wee Herman laugh.  You know, the weird, creepy pedophile guy, yeah.  This talent I only whip out when forced.  Funny story, my old roommate's(now) husband and I could both do it so at random times we would start laughing and it would creep my roommate out.  We thought we were HILARIOUS!!!!!
3. I secretly wish I were still in college.  I miss it greatly!
4. I want to pack up and move to Maine.  I think it is beautiful out there.
5.  I enjoy being THAT girl. ( aka Ugg and TNF wearing, SBUX drinking, BBY carrying, eternal sorority girl at heart.) I don't believe my personality fits it though.
6. I'm the jumpiest person you'll ever meet, which my roommates are finding out recently.
7. I hate putting labels on myself but here are some that, for the most part, apply: Follower of Christ, Artist, Writer, Friend, Daughter, Sister, Roommate, Niece, Vegan, Vegetarian, Runner, Boxer, Baker, and the list can go on forever.  Thus the hating of labels.
8. I want to tell people that my sister and I are twins.  It would be a better explanation of our parallel behaviors.
9. My mom used to sing "How Great Thou Art" in church when I was little and every time we sing it at the DTC, I cry but I still love that song.
10. I could sit and listen to someone play the piano or guitar for HOURS, and I'm not exaggerating.   I love listening to those two instruments.
11. I have a wicked extensive memory.  It freaks people out sometimes but I really enjoy remembering memories in such vivid detail.
12. I absolutely LOVE all of my friends in Des Moines, the old, the new and all the in between. I couldn't ask for a better group of friend to surround myself with, and I know I don't tell them that enough so if you read this, you're most likely in that group and I love you!!!
13. I make weird noises/faces at my computer, because I can.
14. Sometimes I'll start talking in a southern/Boston/Jersey/ghetto voice and think nothing of it.  Certain things can be emphasized better in an accent, in my opinion!
15. I really dislike bugs but I feel like its childish for me to scream when I see a bug.
16.  I'm incredibly emotionally attached to my car, long story.
17.  I really enjoy playing with kid's toys. I'm a child at heart.
18. When I think about my "Dream House" the only thing that I can picture is the kitchen.
19. I actually enjoy economics, thanks to Dr. Coggins(even after I failed one of his classes)
20. I find most people greatly intimidating when I first meet them.
21. I'm painfully shy.
22. I love everything about Iowa, weather and all.
23. I'm painfully awkward.
24. I absolutely love how smells evoke my memory.
25. I love watching sports, I dislike playing them.  I prefer individual sports/activities.
26. Just because I don't like eating meat, doesn't mean I don't like cooking it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I love to be creative!!!

Ok so my last post was about my menu for the next couple of weeks, well it's only been a couple of days but I am a very impatient person and I had to make quite a few of the recipes/concoctions ASAP.

The Pumpkin Chocolate Tirimisu was amazing but I think I will stick with using lady fingers instead of vanilla wafers.  I tried to take a short cup but really, I shouldn't have.  I've been told I need to write down my recipes so here's to the best of my ability what i did:

Pumpkin Chocolate Tirimisu
1 package pumpkin pudding- instant
1 package chocolate pudding- instant
1 container of Tirimisu flavored mascarpone cheese
2 sleeves of ladyfingers( I'm adjusting because what i made I wasn't thrilled with 100%, probably 98%)
2-4 TBSP instant coffee/espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Make each pudding  as directed on box.  When the chocolate has been chilled mix in the mascarpone cheese.
2. disolve coffee into a half cup of water, add vanilla and cinnamon.
3. dunk ladyfingers into coffee mixture halfway coating them, lay them in the bowl/pan/whatever you have to hold your tirimisu
4. layer half chocolate pudding mixture over ladyfingers
5. Another layer of ladyfingers
6. layer half pumpkin pudding
7. repeat steps 3-6 until all your pudding is left!  I end the top with pudding but it's not rocket science here.
8. Chill for a couple hours so the ladyfingers have time to soak up some good flavor.  AND ENJOY!!!!!

Orange Tofu with Soba noodles was/is AMAZING.  I just got done having some leftovers for lunch and it just got better when it was reheated.  This one is pretty simple, well for me it is.  I do have some tricks that I learned too.

Orange Tofu with veggies and Soba noodles

Soba Noodles- I only used a couple handfulls no the entire package, cooked per the package directions
Veggies- I used some red peppers(amazing) and portobello mushrooms( that i cooked last night for portobello burgers, wasn't thrilled with them so I threw them in) any veggies will work.  I think next time I'm going to go heavier on the veggies, my pan just wasn't big enough this time.

1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into whatever size your little heart desires. Mine was cubes.

Orange sauce- the gem of it all!
1- 4 oz jar of orange marmalade(mine was homemade but I suppose you could buy it too)
zest and juice of 1 orange- it gives it a fresh punch of orange(that was what was missing last time I made it)
2 TBSP Siracha Chili sauce, less or more to taste
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp fresh garlic
salt and pepper to taste
- mix all the sauce ingredients and set aside.

1. cook soba noodles by the directions on the package, set aside
2. In a DRY and VERY HOT nonstick skillet place tofu, you are correct when you ask, no oil?. The trick: tofu, no matter how much you pat it dry, it's still very wet and therefore take a long time to get a good crispy coat on it  with oil straight off, it more or less steams itself BUT with a dry panit takes the water out and starts the browning sooner, then you add about 2 TBSP of oil when the tofu starts to brown.  The oil will continue to help it brown without burning it.
3.  When tofu is sufficiently browned and gorgeous, add veggies and cook until desired texture of veggies has not quite been achieved.
4. Add sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes or until you can tell that the sauce has reduced a bit and all the veggies have gotten to the correct doneness for you!
5. Spoon over Soba noodles and enter into homemade-chinese-vegan-take-out heaven!

As mentioned previously, the portobello burgers weren't all that great for me, but they made a great addition to my orange tofu!  There you have it, if my camera worked, there would be pictures. There should be picutres, I actually dislike reading blog posts without pictures, oh well!  Hopefully soon a camera is in my future!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Adventurous Cooking

So today was payday and I was making my grocery list out as to what I needed to buy for the next couple weeks and trying to decide exactly what would be on the menu.  I think my menu would definitely be considered adventurous because there are many things that I will be making for the first time and let's jus say, it's going to be interesting.  I made pumpkin and black bean dip for my friends a couple weeks ago and it went over very well!!! A little scepticism at first but all in all, it was great!  So, wanna know what I'll be cooking the next couple of days?  Here goes:

1.Spinach Quinoa salad with cherries and almonds
2. Portobello burgers(Hopefully as good as the ones in the Sub at Truman)
3. twice baked sweat potatoes(vegan style)
4. Pumpkin Chocolate Tirimisu ( I combined a couple desserts that I've concocted before and we'll see how this one turns out, and its for a suprise party! I really hope they don't read this blog!)
5. spicy orange tofu with soba noodles and veggies

How does that sound?  Good to me!  In other news, running has been put on hold INDEFINITELY. This is not a word I like in regards to my running.  My foot had been bothering me so I went to the doctor and the nurse, the xray tec, and the doctor all told me to find another sport!  This will be the third time I've had problems with my foot, twice broken and then this time.  SO, eventhough I feel totally worthless while doing anything but running right now, I have continued my training in the form of cross training(aka riding a bike, lifting weights, etc) Hopefully I can give my food enough of a rest to heal while still getting into shape so I can run even better when the time comes!  I am definitely not giving up on running, not to be super cliche but, you don't give up on something that you love!  The doctor's diagnosis isn't set in stone, I have to see one more and then we'll make a plan from there. 

Funny story: Last night at bible study we were told that it is our bible study's duty to bring pies to the annual Hog Roast that our church hold every year and it was suggested to just go buy them, GASP!!!!!! My mom and Grandpa and Grandma Goodwin would roll over in thier grave and my dad/Nae/Aunt would probably plot my demise if they knew I bought a pie.  Ok, a little dramatic but you get the point.  My grandpa Goodwin and my mom were the ones who taught me to make pie and I dearly love making them SO I was not going to allow anyone to buy any.  I feel very blessed that my friends trust me to make them and I think they're going to come help me too which is exciting!  I'm super excited to get to make 5 pies!  So the lineup here is:
1. Pumpkin
2. Apple
3. Rhubarb Creme
4. Chocolate Silk
5. Key Lime
6. Pumpkin Pecan(made my the lovely Jes)

the Hog Roast is on the 17th at the DTC, all should come!  So, baking will be taking place a couple days before and again, I'm super stoked about getting to do this.  I really love baking things that I know others will greatly enjoy, or at least I hope they will!