Write Right

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If there’s anything I’ve learned from, well, life, it’s that communication is key. Key to getting things done (and done correctly), key to learning and sharing ideas, and key to one’s well being. I’ve lived in southern Cali for almost a year now, and the one thing that eases homesickness is keeping in touch withphoto 1 my loved ones back east.

Luckily, today we have websites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. to keep us in the know how. I can text my mom and Skype my dad and Snapchat my cousins all from my phone. Technology has been key to keeping me and the loop, and alternatively reassuring my family that I am, indeed, surviving out here.

One of my absolute favorite ways to say hello, though, is through a good old fashioned letter. This dates back to my American Girl stationery days – in cleaning my room, I’ve come across dozens of half-finished letters to schoolmates and family members (hey, I never said I wasn’t a procrastinator!).

Even now, there’s something fun about writing a little diddy to someone, popping it in the mailbox, and waiting expectantly for them to receive it. Because who doesn’t like getting something besides spam in the mail? It’s a personalized, handwritten treat that I think has gotten the shaft with the advent of tech.

Lately, my letter writing has gone into a slump, so over the weekend I “created” my own stationery to write to my grandparents on. A quick life summary later and voila! A letter has been born.

photo 3If you’re not feeling that ambitious, regular old stores like Target carry a variety of blank notecard & envelope packs that range from adorable to chic. The Paper Source is another letter writing haven, packed with cards to stamps and everything in between.

Happy writing!

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Well, I Tried: Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

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Well folks, it’s the weekend, and you know what that means! After a long week of some very non-clean eating, it’s time for another installation of “Well, I tried”. This week’s recipe is for slow cooker honey garlic chicken, from the blog Just a Taste. Here’s what I thought:

The Ingredients: For the most part, very easy to find grocery items. Once again, I tried to get everything at Target, and was successful EXCEPT for soy sauce, if you can believe it. The only thing I blinked an eye at was the hoisin sauce, but I figured it’d be a worthwhile investment if I was sure to use it again.

The gang [minus onion] is all here!

The Prep: Not too bad, actually. You whisk the main ingredients together, pour them over the chicken breasts, and voila! It’s ready to cook. The only thing that took some time for me was dicing the onion, but that’s because I don’t know how to properly do so.

** Note: I took some liberties with the recipe. Firstly, I used boneless breasts, simply because Target didn’t have any with bones. Secondly, I used coconut oil instead of olive oil – it was convenient, because I already had it. Third, I stacked some pieces of chicken on top of each other, even the recipe says this is a no-no. I had to because my crock pot is tiny, and I wanted enough to last me. Next (yikes, I didn’t think I made this many changes), I cooked it for two hours on high, rather than four hours on low. This is because I don’t know proper time management skills and wanted to eat at a decent hour. Lastly, I skipped the toppings because I ran out of money at the store.

Simmering the sauce with the slurry.

How’d It Come Out? Wow. Hands down a really delicious, flavorful recipe that yielded more than I expected it to. The chicken came out moist and tender and had really absorbed the marinade without having sat in it for too long. I promptly devoured it with some rather unhealthy potatoes from a box but hey, this is a step in the right direction!

I took this photo and then promptly inhaled the food.

The Verdict: SO DELICIOUS! A huge recommend for everyone except my poor mother, who is allergic to chicken.

Stay tuned for more recipe adventures!

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Standing Standing Everywhere, and Not a Place to Sit

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There have always been – and most likely, will always be – health crazes and fads. From early tonics that promised instant cures, to the Shake Weight, there are new trends starting every day. This time around, I’ve decided to board the bandwagon on one.

At work lately, there have been a string of my coworkers who have begun to use standing desks. It started with one guy in the creative department, M, who claimed that he preferred standing to sitting when he drew. He propped up his laptop and accouterments on some cardboard boxes and voila! A standing desk was born.

M’s desk remained homemade until work hired a new executive, who had back problems and couldn’t sit for long periods of time. And as an executive, there was no way he was going to be greeting clients with his desktop sitting on a Goldfish box. Several standing desks were purchased, along with some mats to ease the pressure on their feet.

The craze was moving along at a solid pace when my coworker, B, and I finally thought we wanted to give it a try. I

My homemade standing desk, don't mind the mess!

My homemade standing desk, don’t mind the mess!

actually prefer to stand to work – it makes it easier to dash out the door when anything arises (and let me tell you, a lot arises).

Because we were only testing the waters, we took the homemade route; my keyboard is resting on a paper holder, while my mouse is on a plastic drawer set. B’s setup involves several boxes at key heights. Luckily, the company had ordered some extra mats for us to stand on.

After a week of no-sitting, B and I agreed on a few things:

  1. Our legs weirdly feel more toned. Though in my case, I emphasized they were a little more stiff.
  2. It does make it easier to walk in and out of our office to do tasks.
  3. We don’t feel as sluggish and bloated in the afternoons following lunch

Screen shot 2015-04-08 at 6.34.45 AMSo far so good. Then B texted me the link to an article one night about the real health benefits of standing desks, versus the hype. It spells out that standing desks aren’t the magic antithesis to sitting. In reality, too much of anything will kill you, and standing too much can be painful and cause heart problems and varicose veins. Yikes.

Standing desks can be apart of a solution, though, when placed into a life routine that additionally include
low-intensity physical activity. The key is to make sure you’re doing it correctly! After reading the article, B and I adjusted our setups to make sure our standing – and sitting – positions were correct.

As she and I begin week two, we’ve begun to allow ourselves to sit whenever we feel uncomfortable or tired. The key is balance, balance, balance.

Until tomorrow, when B brings in her new weighted hula hoop for us to try. 😉

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Well, I Tried: Mexican Sweet Potato Casserole

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Passion, thy name is cooking!

Seriously, though. If my kitchen didn’t heat up to 1,000,000 degrees every time I used the oven – and if groceries were a wee bit cheaper – I’d be in there every day whipping up a batch of this or that.

Cooking, as opposed to baking, has been relatively new to me. Sure, I helped make dinners at home growing up, but I lived in a residence hall all four years of college and depended heavily on the dining hall. Living on my own has thrust me into this new world of meal planning, shopping, and cooking, and I’m loving it so far. Nothing is more exciting than trying a new recipe and fervently hoping it A) doesn’t burn and B) tastes alright.

Additionally this year, I’ve embarked on a campaign to eat clean. This, to me, means less processed foods and more home cooking, using natural and healthy ingredients.

Thankfully, Pinterest exists, and has been more than obliging with providing dozens of new recipes to try. Some have been less than stellar, while others have become tried and true favorites.

Tonight, as apart of a series I’m going to call “Well, I tried”, I cooked up this week’s main dish: Mexican Sweet Potato Casserole from Olives’n’Wine. Here’s what I thought:

The Ingredients: Super simple grocery items, all of which I was able to buy at Target (I just so happened to be there shopping for other things). The only splurge was the quinoa, but luckily I had a box leftover from another recipe.

So...much...sweet...potato

So…much…sweet…potato

The Prep: Takes a bit of time. You’re supposed to grate the sweet potato into little pieces. Turns out, I don’t own a grater, so I used a potato peeler instead and turned them into little slices. It took about twenty to thirty minutes to grate down the giant potatoes I bought, AND I ended up having lots of leftovers, which I froze. Otherwise, you only have to chop the onion and the asparagus, and that’s fairly easy. The only other time consumer is cooking the quinoa (15 minutes-ish).

All tossed & ready to go

All tossed & ready to go

How’d It Come Out? Pretty good! Not a great idea for those who don’t like sweet potatoes, of course, considering that’s the main ingredient. I cooked it for 35 minutes, and that left everything softer, yet still with a slight crunch to it (just how I like it). It’s tasty, but not overtly flavorful. I started tasting it slowly, and then ended up going back for seconds and thirds.

Mmmm cheese!

Mmmm cheese!

The Verdict: Definitely a re-do recipe. PLUS it yielded tons of servings, so I won’t have to worry about running out mid-week.

Stay tuned for more recipe adventures!

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