Saturday, February 21, 2015

2 Great Recipes: Fresh & Simple Guacamole and Vegetarian Minestrone

I have been doing lots of cooking lately. I really enjoy cooking and this week I've been cooking to relieve some stress, take a break from homework, and eat lots of delicious food. I've made 2 recipes, one I created on the fly and the other I modified, that I want to share with you: my Fresh and Simple Guacamole and Vegetable Minestrone.

Fresh and Simple Guacamole

2 avocado
2 spoon fulls of sour cream
Cherub tomatoes
A slice of onion

This was super easy to make and it tastes great. All I did was open 2 avocados, put the fruit in a bowl, and mix it up with a spoon to get a creamy consistency. I chopped up a slice of onion and a few cilantro leaves and cut some cherub tomatoes in half. It's really to taste on this recipe. I prefer to have lots of tomatoes because I think it tastes heavenly with the avocado. I mixed in the onion, tomatoes, and cilantro to the avocado mixture before adding 2 spoonfuls of sour cream to add extra creaminess to the guacamole. Put the guacamole in the fridge and let it sit for a couple house before eating.

To top it off, I made my own tortilla chips. I like to keep it really simple so all I do is drizzle some olive oil on a baking pan, cut 2 tortillas in chip size pieces, place them on the baking pan, heat the oven to 350 and cook them for 3-5 minutes before flipping them and cooking them for 3-5 more minutes. I like mine to be a light golden brown, but you can cook them so they're a little crispier if you'd like. 

This makes for the perfect snack after class. They taste so good, and I'll go on and assume they're about 10x healthier than store bought tortilla chips.

Vegetarian Minestrone

1 can of garbanzo beans
1 package of lentils
1/4 of a zucchini
1/4 of a yellow squash
A slice of onion
Several cherub tomatoes
1 can of chunky tomato soup
1 clove of garlic

I based this off of a recipe in Simply Delicious Vegetarian by Carla Bardi, but made some modifications to it so I could make it in 1 hour rather than 4. First I followed the directions on the package of lentils, which said to boil water before adding the unopened package of lentils and cooked the garbanzo beans as the directions on the can directed. While that cooked, I cut up the rest of my vegetables, dicing the onion, zucchini, and squash, mincing the garlic, and halving the tomatoes.

I sauteed those vegetables and garlic in a separate pan. When all of my vegetables and beans finished cooking, I got out a large pot to cook the can of soup with the rest of the ingredients, to soak up all that flavor. I cooked the soup on medium-low heat for 30 minutes before dishing it up and enjoying.

I added some black pepper and crackers to top it off. If you're wondering, it tasted absolutely delicious.

What have you been cooking?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I Wish Someone Had Told Me...

I wish someone had told me how to balance everything. Being in college, I have a lot going on every day, every week. I take 15 credit hours every semester and am actively involved in 3 organizations. I try to hang out with my friends, stay close with my family, and still make time for myself to relax and enjoy life. My biggest problem in balancing out all of these roles is that I easily turn into a workaholic and strive for perfection in all my classes. When I have to choose between going out with friends or perfecting the little details on a project, I choose the project. I'm also a workaholic within my organizations because I have a leadership position in two of them and have trouble saying "no." I usually end up volunteering for everything, overextending myself and winding up stressed when I come home from volunteering and still have mountains of homework to attend to plus a phone buzzing with invites from friends to come hang out or grab dinner.

When I started college, I kind of figured everything would fall into place and I would be able to do it all. I had never really considered who cleaned up in my house and who picked up the slack when I let my chores go. I no longer have my mom and dad cleaning the house all day while I'm in classes. I can't just ask my mom to wash my laundry because it's piling up and I'm super busy. My homework no longer consists of fill in the blank worksheets as it did in high school. All of my homework involves reading, writing papers, research, analysis, and creating lessons for students.

Last year I started to realize I need to say "no" more often and consciously choose to what I spend time doing so I can balance out all of these different aspects of my life. My biggest problem with this has been consistency. I can manage my time and balance everything for a week or two before I start to just work all day and stress and then wind up exhausted by Thursday.  It's something I'm continuously working on, and probably will continue to work on for a long time. Some tips I've found helpful are to let perfection go, have a time when you stop working every day, and other time management tools like list making.

To let my perfectionist tendencies go, I've come to the realization that sometimes good enough is still good. For instance, I have a class where we're expected to read about 60 pages for every Tuesday and Thursday class, write at least a one page summary about that reading for each class, and produce a 3 page paper once a week about each unit. I've realized in this class it's totally okay to just read sections of the assignment and base the papers off of 12-16 pages rather than 60. I do not have time to read that much, analyze that much text, and produce 5 pages a week about these topics while staying on top of 3 other classes and a practicum that involves teaching 3 times a week and creating my own curriculum and lessons. It's okay to read just enough to complete these assignments. Good enough is good.

Having a quitting time is also so helpful. I try to stop working every day at 5 so I can have all evening to relax, work on stuff I enjoy like crafting, hang out with friends, and watch some TV. Most days it works well, but some days just don't happen the way you plan. Sometimes I have lazy days and don't start working  until the late afternoon, so I work until 8 or 9. Oops! Most days I follow my quitting time and can enjoy spending some time away from homework to enjoy doing what I love.

I'm going to continue to (try to) balance all of these different parts of my life and hopefully I will eventually be able to do it with ease.  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love List

Happy Valentine's Day! I've been so excited leading up to this holiday: I decorated early for it, threw a party for my apartment complex, and taught a lesson about el Dia del amor y la amistad for my Spanish practicum class with first graders.

Obviously, on Valentine's Day I'm grateful for my friends and family who I love, but I've decided to celebrate some of the things and places I love as well this year.

Things I Love Doing Travelling, writing, crafting, creating, learning new things, walks outside, reading, laughing, riding bicycles, cooking, and spending time with the people I love.

Things I Love to Look At Photography, smiles, color, doodles, designs, typography, sunsets, mountains, yellow flowers, blue skies, and far away places.

Foods I Love sandwiches, chocolate, mango, fruit smoothies, veggie pizza, macaroni and cheese casserole, stuffed crust pizza, guacamole, avocado, and sugar cookies.

Places I Love Home; Florence, Italy; Costa Rica; Colorado; Campus; Disney world.

What do you love?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Valentine's Day Party

I live in on campus apartments at my university and I'm a part of the residence hall council there that puts on activities and events for the complex. We had a really fun Valentine's Day party Tuesday and everyone really enjoyed it!

There are two things you need to get people to come to events: food and prizes. We did not hold back on either of those. For prizes we gave away stuffed animals and boxes of chocolate - it is a Valentine's Day party!

For food we had everyone's sweet tooth satisfied with sugar cookies, cupcakes, and candy. We also had some more substantial food like Jimmy John's sandwiches and Hawaiian Punch to drink.

Obviously if we have prizes, you have to be able to play games to win them. The first game we had was a guessing game. We called it "M&M Mystery" and all players had to do was fill out the handy dandy sheet by the bowl with a guess of how many M&Ms are in the water bottle. 

We also had a game we called "Find True Love" which involved plastic cups, tissue paper, rubber bands, and prizes. We filled the cups with either candy or a slip of paper saying that the person won a heart box of candy or a stuffed animal. It's a really simple game but it goes over super well.

We also created this fancy board for our game called "The Dice of Love." We bought 2 big dice from the dollar store and some Valentine's washi tape to decorate the trifold. Players rolled the dice and could add, subtract, multiply, or divide to get any available number on the board. This game was a real winner with all our guests.

We also had several minute-to-win-it style games. One was stacking conversation hearts on a popsicle stick that you held between your teeth and another was scooping conversation hearts out of a bowl and dumping them in a plastic cup with a spoon you hold in your mouth. We also played musical hearts instead of musical chairs. We numbered the hearts and when the song stopped we called out a number. The person standing on the number won a prize.

All the games were relatively simple and cheap to buy. The most expensive part were the prizes, but there were lots of $3 prizes we found in the Valentine's section at Walmart. We bought most of our decorations and game supplies at Dollar Tree and the decorations looked really nice.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas for a Valentine's party of your own!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Valentine's Day DIY Decor

Next Saturday is Valentine's Day and normally I don't do too much for it because I'm always single on Valentine's Day, but this year I'm planning a Valentine's Party for my on-campus apartment complex and I personally am just enjoying the celebration of love and friendship. I started to put stuff up for Valentine's Day in January, so I am well prepared to share my little Valentine corners with you all today.

True Love's Kiss Art Print
You need: 
- Lipstick Kiss Stickers
- Simple frame
- Scissors
- White paper

I found these lipstick print stickers at Michael's and I knew immediately that I needed them in my life. I bought a simple black photo frame at Dollar Tree and came back home to start my project. 

This project is super easy and looks nice when you're done. All I did was cut out a 4x6 piece of paper and placed the stickers in 2 rows on it. Voila!

I sat it up next to the cute Valentine's notepad I got at Walmart and my decorating mug. I bought the mug at the Dollar Tree and decorate it with permanent markers to go with seasons and holidays. I never bake it so I can just clean off the writing/drawing with a Clorox wipe. For Valentine's Day I decided to go with an XOXO and hearts everywhere look for the mug.

My other Valentine's Day DIY Decor was inspired by the classic conversation hearts everyone sees around this holiday. 

Conversation Heart Bouquet
You Need:
- 2 bags of Conversation Hearts 
- A glass vase
- Heart sticks

I filled up a glass vase with the conversation hearts and placed some red hearts (intended for bouquets) in the vase as well.

When I staged my Valentine's corner on my side table, I used several paper doily hearts I had on hand to decorate the top. I have a glass heart bowl a teacher gave me when I student aided for her. I put it upside down as a stage for the Valentine Owl candle my Grandma gave me, and leaned a Be Mine mini-canvas against the conversation heart vase.

These projects turned out super cute and I barely spent any money, since I already had most of it on hand. How do you decorate on a dime for Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Valentine's Day Wallpapers

It's February and Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Get ready to celebrate the special day with these wallpapers for your iPhone and laptop.

iPhone Wallpapers

Laptop Wallpapers