Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter = Sugar overload.

Not sure why I post for three days in a row and then disappear for two weeks.
I haven't been in the mood to blog this week.
I need to get out and see people more.

Last weekend, though, was great.
I celebrated Easter with my family and Matt's family.
Involved in the celebration was lots of good food and 

On Saturday, Matt and I went for a 4.5 mile run.
In which, Matt totally kicked my butt.
Then we celebrated Easter with his family.

Cute bunny cake!
 We had grilled pork chops for dinner.
Then there was the much anticipated Egg hunt!

You may think I am too old to participate in such a childish event.
But let me assure you, I am not.
We each had our own kind of eggs with a few bonus eggs.
I even found the golden egg with $5. Score!
I wish I had pictures, but obviously I was too busy running around like a crazy person collecting my eggs.

Bring on the sugar!
I maybe, maybe went a little overboard on the candy.
The whole 'haven't been eating much sugar for the past 2 months' resulted in a terrible sugar rush.
There were peeps.

That was blown up in a microwave.

And came out at least 4 times it's original size.

 And maybe a little gooey and burnt.

Let's just say, no one ate that one.

Oh peeps, how I love you so.

What happened with that sugar rush you ask?
Well after consuming massive amounts of peeps, Whopper robin eggs, 
Reese's peanut butter cups, and gum balls, 
I was feeling slightly shaky.
Okay really shaky.

I was jumpy and hyper and twitchy.
And my stomach was hurting a little bit.
We attended the Easter Vigil service.
I had trouble sitting and standing still.
And of course, it didn't help that I was standing next to Matt's younger sister Kelsey who kept doing silly things that made me want to laugh.

The service was very nice even with my sugar high.
We had candles and there was much singing.
It was thoroughly enjoyable. 
A great Easter celebration.
Jesus Christ has risen!

After mass, well, that sugar high had started to wear off.
Leading to the inevitable crash.
I ended up falling asleep on the living room floor.

The next day, I celebrated Easter with my family.
And I made sure to watch my sugar intake better.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On the next Extreme Couponing.

Have you seen the new show on TLC called Extreme Couponing?  It is seriously impressive.  These couponers have huge stockpiles of groceries items often taking up their garage or a whole room in the house.  They have binders and boxes full of coupons all meticulously organized.  Their stockpiles were paid for with pennies on the dollar of the merchandise price.
My eyes start to bug out when the total bill starts running down from sometimes over $1000 to $100 and dwindling all the way down to $10.  These people are saving over 90% of the cost.  I want to be these people, although I admit they seem kind of crazy.  And not sure that I would really want to spend 2 hours checking out at the grocery store every week.  They also spend usually over 10 hours a week preparing for the shopping trips, don't think I have that kind of time.  I just want to save more money and use more coupons.
So I am on a quest to find more coupons and find better deals when I am shopping to save more money.
My adventure started tonight.  One of the local grocery stores, Garden Fresh, had a deal on Pasta Roni for 2/$1.  I had a coupon retrieved from a previous box to save $1 when you buy two boxes.  So I got these babies for free!

How awesome is that?

I know they aren't the healthiest things to eat, but they are so yummy.  I try to mix in some fresh or frozen veggies when I am cooking them to make them a little more healthy.

I also scored a sweet deal on this.
99 cents! Pineapple is one of my favorite fresh fruits.  It's so delicious and is very summery.
I especially love eating it with cottage cheese.  Actually I sometimes just eat that for dinner.

I love a great deal!

Do you use coupons?

What's the best deal you've gotten?

Big Belly!

This weekend while Matt was here he was admiring his figure examining his stomach silhouette in my bathroom.  Actually we both lovingly refer to our respective mid-sections as our spare tires.  So I joined in, in the belly viewing.
Really we were both standing sideways in front of the mirror, lovingly rubbing our bellies.
And for the first time since we've been dating I think my spare tire is actually smaller than Matt's!  Now to most of you this may not be impressive, after all, men usually weigh more than women, right? Yeah, not so much with Matt.  This is the boy that when we started dating was still participating in high school wrestling and was supposed to get down to like 125.  Yeah, I didn't weigh that little.  So he was skinny.  Actually quite sickly skinny.  Who am I kidding, it was gross.
Anyways, the years of college have apparently not been kind on us and we developed some flub around the middle.  Which is honestly the first place I gain wait and also the most unhealthy place to have extra weight.  It's called visceral fat and that is surrounding all your organs.  So, not good.
The freshman 15 is real people!
But that I am done with school, I have found that it's actually a lot easier to be healthy.  Not that I am dropping a ton of weight, nor do I really care to.  (No I don't think I am super skinny, but nor do I think I am unhealthily overweight, and quite honestly I enjoy sugar and ice cream and chocolate too much.) I think it is more important to feel healthy.  Without all the stress and business of college life, I am able to actually cook meals for myself with fresh vegetables and produce.  Instead of just eating quick, convenient food or eating out too often.  I also am able to get some good hours of shut-eye each night and then I have more energy to exercise after work, which I really enjoy now and don't feel like I have to squeeze it into my schedule like before.
It's important to take care of yourself, and that's what I am trying to encourage everyone to do! And if you are still in college (as an engineer), don't worry, life does get easier and you won't always spend every night at school .
This was a weird post.
I mostly just wanted to point out how weird Matt is...and well, me too.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Can't pass up these deals.

I had an extra special visitor this weekend.  
Matt wearing my dad's glasses

Matt came to see my apartment for the first time!
He drove 7 hours to visit me, so dedicated! 
I have not gone to Humboldt yet, nor do I ever want to drive that far.
I didn't have anything planned and it was kind of a cold and crappy weekend so we just stuck around near home.

We did some killer deal finding. 
 First we hit up Marshall's to get Matt a cheap duffel bag.
Then we swung buy Trader Joe's to get ingredients for our yummy lunch BLTs.
Of course, you can't just go there and buy what you planned.  
So I also bought some Sweet Potato Chips (so delicious, you must try!) and also some Quinoa. 
I've read a lot about this seed in Blogland so I am excited to try it out!
I'll make sure to report back for you.

After lunch (already around 4 pm, we eat on a funny schedule), we hit up Bed, Bath, & Beyond to find a new comforter bed set for Matt.
He recently purchased a new bed and didn't have any accessories. 
I, being the deal-finding, money-saving girlfriend that I am, found two coupons for him to use.
We got 20% off a $90 comforter set with a full set of sheets, shams, pillow cases, and two decorative pillows! 
With my $5 off a $20 purchase coupon, he bought two bath towels and a mattress pad. 
All that added up to only a little over $90!

Our wheeling and dealing wasn't over because we still had to hit up Goodwill. 
I've been looking for a muffin pan but didn't want to pay full price.
Now you can't really expect me to go into Goodwill and only buy one thing can you?
Of course not.
They were such good deals, we couldn't refuse.
We bought a pair of tongs, a flour container, a toaster over, laundry detergent, the clear glass container I baked my buns in yesterday, a toaster over, the desired 6-cup muffin pan. 
 a fluted pan to bake my grandma's tangy lemon cake 
Me love Kahlua. 
 coffee mugs to go with 
a new baby coffee maker.

Short side story, I picked out a different coffee maker first but as Matt was putting it in the cart, disaster struck.  
He dropped the coffee pot and broke it :( so we didn't get that one.
At least it wasn't "you break it you buy it".  
Because we didn't buy it.  Oops.

All of this stuff only totaled $29!  I saved even more because I signed up for the Club Goodwill card to save an additional 5%.
Sweet savings!

We had dinner at Yummy Gourmet, which has an all-you-can-eat sushi special.  
I love sushi, and although this wasn't super high quality sushi, it was still very good.  We were able to try some new rolls and sushi which was great.
I would recommend this place if you have interested in trying different sushi rolls and are really hungry!
It would be a great place to go for a group so you can all order and share your rolls!
It's always good to try something new.
We even tried a piece of sushi of red snapper.  
Sushi is really the raw fish, although when I say "sushi" I am mostly referring to maki rolls.

On Sunday, we rolled on down to the downtown of Arlington Heights.
I was expecting there to be lots of little shopping boutiques and stores, but it turns out it is mostly just restaurants.  
We skipped lunch and went straight for dessert.

Matt ordered the Brownie Sundae in honor of it being Sunday.
It came with whipped cream and a cherry on top.
It was mostly just a chocolately mess since he choose rocky road ice cream in addition to the brownie and hot fudge.
I chose the Mango Bubble Tea.
Have you ever tried Bubble Tea?
It's mostly just a smoothie but it has boba  or bubbles in it.
They are these small tapioca balls.
They are like a little surprise in your ice drink.
Can you see the boba?
And you also get a HUGE straw.  And that's the real excitement. 

Then Matt had to go home, and we were both sad.  I cried a little.
Sometimes the distance gets to me.
I'm looking forward to this weekend when we will both be home for Easter.
Sometimes though the weeks get long.
But we will keep chugging along, and hope for a time when we can be closer soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Buns in the Oven

My buns were baking in the oven.  No, really, I made some bread and baked it in the oven.  Quit thinking all metaphorically.  Those buns sure were delicious too.
My mom and I used to make this bread recipe together.  Sweet rolls right out of the Betty Crocker Cookbook (this was the closest recipe I could find on the website).  We've had a lot of flops.  Such as when the yeast is bad and the bread doesn't rise at all, or the liquid portion is too hot and kills the yeast.  Both these make for a very tough bun.  Not yummy.  
Bread takes time and energy to make that.  It's rewarding to me.  You have to mix all the ingredients and then  knead the dough and knead in more flour.  Then it becomes a waiting game, let the dough sit for a few hours till it doubles in size.  If it is in a warm place, the bread will only take about an hour to rise, but if just left at room temperature, it will need to sit longer.  My bread rose for about 6 hours.
The you remove it and shape it into rolls.  Personally, I find it always taste better when the rolls are shaped into cute shapes.  Such as, "a + m", pretzels, twists, breads, knots, and someone's (Matt's) inappropriate shapes.  

Then they bake in the oven and smell so yummy, delicious, scrumdiddlyumptious.  Nothing better than a warm, fluffy, bun right out of the oven.  Those babies just melt right in your mouth.

I just gobble them right up.
Matt enjoyed them too.  
Excuse me I must go and have a snack of more buns.

What's your favorite thing to make homemade?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Weekend recap.

I have a feeling this could be a very long blog.  But I'm okay with that. I hope you are too.  But you could always just quit reading before you get to the end.  I wouldn't blame you.  In fact, I wouldn't even know.  The only thing I know is how many people come to this blog each day.  In fact, last week I had a record site visit day.  Yes that's right a new high.  Unfortunately it was only 7, but hey.  You 7 readers, I love you guys.  And you are great.  In fact, I like you so much, that I am going to recommend you comment (yes, COMMENT!) on a post once in a while, so I know I'm not just talking to myself.  Thanks in advance! Oh and if you have a blog that I'm not reading, tell me about it!
Back to the point. I wanted to update you on my wonderful weekend.  The parental units traveled the lone Highway 20 to come visit me.  I got up Saturday morning to squeeze in a run before they arrived and then to frantically clean my apartment because I was embarrassed by how dirty and messy it was.  Good thing they didn't even notice...wait, they did.  Considering my vacuum was still sitting in the middle of my living room waiting patiently to be used and the cornflakes on my floor were not so patiently waiting to be sucked up.  It is perhaps still sitting in that same place.  Ah, oh well, maybe tomorrow night.

We took the train in to the city.

We went to see the mirror bean again.

 And of course we took pictures in it. 
 We met up with my cousin Mike and had dinner at Portillos.  And it was delicious! Yummy yummy Italian beef.  If you come to the area, you must eat there. 
Next we met up with another cousin, Jake, and went off to see the John Hancock Tower.

 Experiencing the city from a whole new perspective. 

We headed home soon after that to get a good nights rest.
An early morning was ahead of us.   
Tickets for a much anticipated museum exhibit waited in my purse.  

Promptly at 6 am, we were awake to celebrate my day of birth!
We grabbed the train at 7:30 am to head back into the city.
The BodyWorlds exhibit was at the Museum of Science and Industry and I was dying to see it.  
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take any pictures, but let me tell you it was amazing.  
Basically, it is an exhibit of plasticized human bodies in different positions so you can see all the muscles and organs and bones.  It was right up my alley.  
If you have never seen it, you need to.  

 We wandered around the rest of the museum too.  
Here's my mom and dad in front of the skyline.

 Little baby chicks chirped and ran around. 

A very newly hatched chick, basked in the heat lamp while others pecked out of their eggs.

 They had some fresh water too.

This biomedical engineer was enthralled with the medical/human body stuff.
I see some of these at work.


This hand could sense the muscle firings in your arm and open and close when you move your hand.
So cool.

 We had to make sure to get back to the Union Station to catch the train so our visit was cut a little short.  
I plan on going back someday.  
My new purse that my mom bought me and is modeling for you all.

When we got back near Union Station we stopped for lunch with the extra time we had.
Flat Top Grill was our lucky choice.  
It's one of those create-your-own stir fry places.
The food was good, but the pita bread on the side was the best part.  

We all ate too much and it must have been salt-loaded because my fingers and feet were so swollen afterwards.
Did I mention that I had an absolutely beautiful day for my birthday?
81 degrees and sunny!
 My 23rd birthday was a great one.  Good food, spending time with my family, and exploring.  BodyWorlds may have been the best part.  
It's okay that you think I'm a nerd.  
I am one.
I went to a museum on my birthday and was super excited about it.
Me = enginerd.
I love it. 

 I am learning to love this city too. 

 Congrats you made it to the end!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's official. I live in Illinois.

When I moved I don't think I fully realized all the new things I would have to find.  Sure I thought of things like grocery stores, gas stations, a fitness center, shopping malls, and favorite food places.  But there were many things I haven't thought of and now find myself looking for.  Things like a new bank, a new hair salon, and a new chiropractor that I find myself needing now.
It turns out Security State Bank doesn't have a branch near Arlington Heights, darn.  Actually I can't even find a Shazam ATM around this area.  In Iowa, that's what almost all the ATMs were.  I had to mail my first two paychecks home to be deposited.  It was a pain.  So now I am determined to find a new bank.  Tear.  Don't worry Security, I won't leave you.
I've never really been faithful to any hair salon.  I just went with whatever because I'm not very picky about my haircuts.  Sure, when I lived in Cascade I always went to the same place, mostly because it was nice to have someone you know to talk to, and she gave really great haircuts for a steal, which doesn't hurt.  But in Iowa City, I frequented LaJames because they had dirt cheap haircuts.  How can you go wrong with a $7 haircut? Well it turns out a lot of ways, but I knew the receptionist so she always got me really good stylists.  It pays to have connections.  I've been researching online for a new place to go in my area, but THEY ARE SO EXPENSIVE! I like cheap things.  So on Monday, when I was absolutely desperate for a haircut because my hair had lost all shape and was driving me nuts, I just stopped at the Hair Cuttery.  It's one of those cheap chains.  Good enough.  My stylist was a sweetheart and talked quite a bit, which I always enjoy so we don't have to sit there in silence.
I don't have a before picture but just imaging non-cooperating hair all flipping out and fraying looking on one side.  It is still doing some flipping out but it's A LOT better.  I'm trying to grow it out long again, but every time it gets to this stage I get sick of it and cut it short again.  I'm trying to resist.  And I made it so far.  Just a little longer and it will be past this crappy hit-your-shoulders-and-curl-whichever-way-it-wants stage.
Don't you just love getting a haircut? Someone massaging my scalp for a shampoo and playing with my hair is sooo relaxing.  And the smell, oh the smell, it is so yummy.  I would get it cut all the time if I could.
New chiropractor.  I need one and quick.  My lower back has decided it is not happy with me and has gone all wacky.  I've pretty sure that huge knot/bound up nastiness I feel in my upper butt is not normal.  Oddly my back isn't sore, but it feels like I have done 1000 sit-ups every day for 4 days.  How odd, huh? My lower abdominals are incredibly sore.  Maybe, just maybe, if I get my back put back in place I will have a six-pack now?! Oh please, please, please.
A girl can dream.
I have another announcement.  I made the switch to an Illinoi-an. (what do you people call yourself?).  Why do I say that my bloggy friends? Because I traded in my Iowa Driver's License for an Illinois one.
The evidence.
Yeah sorry, you don't get to see all my personal info.
One of the best reasons to change my license: You can still smile in Illinois.  That's right, boo on Iowa which adopted the no smile, everyone looks bad policy.  
Don't worry bloggies, I will always be an Iowan.  
At heart and otherwise.  

Have you ever moved and what new things did you have to find?

Monday, April 4, 2011

You can call us Lewis and Clark.

March is over and April is here! Where did time go?
I've now been at my job for one complete calendar month, lived in "Chicago" for one month, had some delicious Chicago deep-dish pizza, rode the Metra, been to the city, rode more of the Metra, and lived here for the Cubs opening day! Not that I got to go to the game, but I promised myself that I would get to go to at least one game this summer!
A week ago my friend Laura drove up to visit me and to explore the city!  And I just thought I would throw in this picture just for her.
What you are looking at bloggy friends is the signs before the tollway tollbooths.  Now here is a lesson for you, if you see this you need to move over to the right lane and pay for the tollway.  Just because everyone else is zooming past in the left lanes doesn't mean you should.  Those people have I-passes.  If you don't pay for the tollway you will get a ticket.  If you do happen to miss the tollbooth (don't have cash, etc.), make sure to take note of what plaza you are going through (there will be a name and number) and the approximate time you went through so you can go online and pay said tolls.  Or stop and get an I-pass, really it is so much easier.
That's my public service announcement for the night.  
And if you were wondering, Laura missed the tolls. 
Back to the story.  Exploring.  We took the train in because I figured it would be a lot easier than driving and parking.  You can get a whole weekend pass for $7  and $1.50 for parking so that was $15.50 for our entire trip compared to probably at least $6 in gas plus on the upwards of $25 for parking.  What a deal! 
So we went down Ogilvie Station.  And now I should mention that I really had no idea what we were going to go when we got down there.  I didn't have enough time to research and we had to leave to catch the train as soon as Laura got to my apartment.  I figured we would just wing it.  What a genius idea! Well just go into Chicago with no idea where we are going.  But thankfully everything was just fine.  
We started with lunch at this little deli nearby the train station.  After a quick consult of a map, we moseyed on over to do more moseying on State Street and Michigan Avenue.  Now you may have actually heard of these places because of all the shopping! With all that gossip about how great the shopping is around that area, comes the expensive.  Needless to say, we didn't buy anything.  The weather wasn't super nice that day so we kept dipping into stores to warm up our toesies and fingies.  
After much browsing and no buying we eventually made it down to the lake front.  That's when we saw this.
  That's right a big, giant, mirrored bean. 
I've seen this interesting creation in many a Facebook photograph and never knew where it was or really, what is was.  Well one of those questions, still remains slightly unanswered.  I'll let you figure it out.

It does take some pretty neat pictures, I must admit.  Actually it's funny to think about.  Looking at my pictures, I see the person I see in the mirror, whereas in all my other pictures, it is just what others see.  Random.
Laura wanted to see Buckingham Fountain because she had gone there with her parents when she was younger.  It didn't cross our minds till we got to it, that it would be empty because, duh!, it is still winter. Winter, if you are reading this, you had a wonderful stay, but now you are an unwanted guest. Please go.
I really wanted to go see the Body Worlds exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry but as it turned out,  the not-so-trusty website lied to me and the night viewing didn't start till the next weekend.  So instead we turned to Plan B and came home and had Adam up for dinner.  Bruschetta and tortellini in meat sauce.  Yummmmm.   A bottle of wine, a six-pack of Kilt Lifter, and many laughs, stories, and discussions later, we called it a night.  It was great and we need to have a repeat sometime soon!  

Get out and explore!
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