Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moving Day

My new blog has been launched! Head on over to

When you get there leave a comment to say hi!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Costa Rica Highlights

From May 23 - May 31, Paul and I were in sunny Tamarindo, Costa Rica! We never got to go on a honeymoon after we were married, so I am considering this our honeymoon, belated by 2 1/2 years. We drove to Bismarck to visit family and to drop off the dogs (flying out of Bismarck was the same price as Spokane, plus we didn't have to pay for boarding 2 dogs for 8+ days!) and then flew from Bismarck, to Denver, to Houston, to Liberia, Costa Rica. It was a LONG day.

We arrived in Costa Rica at 9 pm, bartered with the taxi driver for a lower cab ride, and then we were off to Tamarindo. Liberia airport was over an hour drive from Tamarindo and our cab driver was CRAZY. He wasn't really into following traffic laws. We had to drive through such rural areas at times I was worried that he was going to take us into the rainforest, rob us and kill us. It sounds a little dramatic, but I think we were both worried.

 Finally we arrived at our hotel. We chose Hotel Arco Iris based on the reviews on Tripadvisor and other travel sites. As soon as we arrived we knew we picked a good one. The receptionist was so friendly and personally showed us where our bungalow was. The owner greeted us as well when we arrived. We weren't able to see much because it was dark at the time, but the next morning we were able to discover how cute our little bungalow really was!

This is the view from our window, looking out at our hammock (!) and the bungalow across the walkway from ours. 

While our neighbors were still sleeping, I stepped onto their porch and took a picture of the front of our cabin. I read sitting on one of those chairs a couple mornings when I was up early and wanting to read while Paul slept in.

The breakfast they served us was so fun. Every morning we got granola with fresh tropical fruits (watermelon, banana, pineapple, and papaya) on top. Orange juice, toast, jam, butter, and coffee. It was simple but so refreshing.

Paul on the first morning during breakfast:

The first day we spent the entire day on the beach and in the ocean.

We rented beach chairs and an umbrella from a cool surfer dude and proceeded to get extremely sunburned. I've been sunburned on my legs before but it's so much more inconvenient to be sunburned on your shoulder's and neck. It makes everything miserable! Wearing shirts or having my hair touch my shoulders was painful for the rest of the trip. I really screwed up by sitting in the sun all day. Who knew SPF 50 wouldn't be effective 11 degrees from the equator? :(

The day after the beach we tried to stay out of the sun by going on a river cruise. 

We started in the estruary where the river meets the ocean and our guide drove us down the river where it started to get narrower and narrower.

Along the way we saw a few different kinds of wildlife.

Crabs were all over the place! Our guide said they were land crabs but I don't know if they have a more specific name. This one had one big pincer missing.

We got off the boat to walk into the forest to find .... monkeys!! Our guide had a hard time finding them and at one point just left us in the middle of the forest to find them.

Eventually he found one high in the tree! The guide could mimic the howler monkey calls exactly, it was pretty cool.

One thing you must know about Costa Rica... IT'S SO HUMID. We were in the forest for 10 minutes and came out looking like this.

The only relief we got was at night and by the water where there was a breeze. A lot of the days we would go out in the morning and then at night, spending the rest of the day in the hotel room with air conditioning, just because we couldn't stand the humidity any more!

Every night we tried to go to a different restaurant so we could try a little bit of everything Tamarindo had to offer. This is us before a sushi date night. You can kinda see my sunburn. This was before it started to peel and scab and blister, and look really bad. Paul is also a little sunburned but his wasn't nearly as bad as mine.

Iguanas hung out all over the place. On the beach, on the grounds of our hotel, in the middle of the road. It didn't matter to them. It was an iguana's world, we were just visiting. 

Tamarindo itself was pretty primitive in some ways. There was one paved road, the rest were dirt with big rocks sticking out of them. There were no street signs, just signs with names of places and arrows.

This is the one sidewalk that was on the way to our hotel from the main road. The rest of the time we just had to walk on the side of the dirt road and try not to get hit by cars ignoring traffic laws.

The ocean had to be our favorite part of the trip. Living in the midwest, the inland Northwest, and in England, neither of us really had much experience with oceans, especially in a tropical setting. The ocean was tranquil, exciting, and fun.

The last full day we were in Costa Rica we went on a boat cruise on a catamaran with a bunch of other people. Mostly young people, who were into the free booze offered on board. Paul and I were in it for the snorkeling and to just have an excuse to have more time on the water.

One of our guides went snorkeling with us and caught an octopus. We were able to touch it and some people held it to take pictures. Only once I got back home did I find out that octopus is on some of the lists for the most deadly animals! This one was pretty small, maybe a baby, so maybe it wasn't so dangerous.

The bad part of the boat cruise: Seasickness and sunburns. You can see in this picture how much my sunburn is starting to peel and scab over. It was SO painful. Paul hated life and felt nauseous most of the time we were on the boat.

View of Tamarindo from the boat.

Feeling better. Sunburn looks so gross!

The sunset we were able to see on the cruise was amazing. Within a matter of minutes the sun went from being high in the sky to touching the water, to then being gone.

We had enough time to take a couple pictures.

And then before we knew it the sun was going under the horizon.

And then the next day we flew home. It was a wonderful trip. The people in Costa Rica are amazing, so friendly and appreciative that we were there visiting their country. I wish I wouldn't have gotten so sunburned, because honestly that ruined the trip for me a little bit. I wasn't able to do as much as I would have liked to do because of how much it hurt to go out into the sun. The lesson was learned. The next tropical vacation we take will have SPF 75 involved. Now I'm off to daydream of where we should go next...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan: June 24

This week's meal plan starts with one of the recipes I was planning on making last week!

Sunday: Shrimp Stuffed Shells
Monday: Chicken Parmesan
Tuesday: Trout Almondine (from the cookbook How to Cook Everything)
Wednesday: Chicken with Pepperoni Marinara Sauce
Thursday: BBQ Turkey Burgers with Cucumber Radish Salad
Friday: Dijon Fish Cakes
Saturday: Date Night

I'm going to make a better effort to take photos this time!

Results of Meal Plan Challenge, Week of June 17

Last weekend, I wrote about how I wanted to plan our meals a bit more so we could curb our eating out habit. Well it turned out pretty well. Life got in the way a couple times, like on Thursday my co-workers had a going away party for one of our student therapists so we went out for dinner. We decided to do date night on Friday instead of Saturday so we ate out Friday night, then when Saturday night rolled around I ate dinner at home but Paul just ate popcorn at the theatre for dinner. Me eating dinner at home really curbed how much junkfood I ate at the theatre (just a few handfuls of popcorn and some diet coke) so I am going to try to do that from now on to limit calories. So this is how our week really turned out:

Sunday: Chicken fajitas (planned)
Monday: Turkey Chili (planned)
Tuesday: Red curry chicken skewers (planned)
Wednesday: Jamaican Jerk Salmon (planned)
Thursday: Out (not planned)
Friday: Date night (planned for Saturday)
Saturday: Chicken and Black bean quesadillas (planned for Thursday)

So as you can see some things got switched around but the majority of the week we stuck to the plan! As for photos I only remembered to take one ... this is the red curry chicken we made using the Real Simple recipe.

No skewers we used and we sauteed the chicken in a pan, not on the grill. On the side I made a simple stir fr of sugar snap peas, onion, slivered almonds, and sesame oil which was really good.

I'll try to take more pictures this week! Now I'm off to make my next weekly meal plan ...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Reading list 2012

Summer is upon us and I plan on getting a lot of reading done sitting in my reclining lawn chair in the backyard while I enjoy the sun shine. My summer reading list and a short synopsis for those who are interested:

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can't walk for a year? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 4,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations -- making it possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA's new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Packing for Mars takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth. (

A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again. At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she'd lost everything when her mother died young of cancer. Her family scattered in their grief, her marriage was soon destroyed, and slowly her life spun out of control. Four years after her mother's death, with nothing more to lose, Strayed made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. (

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka. ( This is the girl from The Office and she's hilarious in that show so I'm hoping her book is just as funny!

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese

The story is a riveting saga of twin brothers, Marion and Shiva Stone, born of a tragic union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, and bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.But it's love, not politics -- their passion for the same woman -- that will tear them apart and force Marion to flee his homeland and make his way to America, finding refuge in his work at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him, wreaking havoc and destruction, Marion has to entrust his life to the two men he has trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him. (

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake 

Filled with stunning parallels to today's world, The Postmistress is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women-and of two countries torn apart by war. On the eve of the United States's entrance into World War II in 1940, Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, a small town on Cape Cod, does the unthinkable: She doesn't deliver a letter. In London, American radio gal Frankie Bard is working with Edward R. Murrow, reporting on the Blitz. One night in a bomb shelter, she meets a doctor from Cape Cod with a letter in his pocket, a letter Frankie vows to deliver when she returns from Germany and France, where she is to record the stories of war refugees desperately trying to escape. The residents of Franklin think the war can't touch them- but as Frankie's radio broadcasts air, some know that the war is indeed coming. And when Frankie arrives at their doorstep, the two stories collide in a way no one could have foreseen. (

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising twenty-five-year-old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future. The story opens on New Year’s Eve in a Greenwich Village jazz bar, where Katey and her boardinghouse roommate Eve happen to meet Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a ready smile. This chance encounter and its startling consequences cast Katey off her current course, but end up providing her unexpected access to the rarified offices of Conde Nast and a glittering new social circle. Befriended in turn by a shy, principled multimillionaire, an Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, and a single-minded widow who is ahead of her times, Katey has the chance to experience first hand the poise secured by wealth and station, but also the aspirations, envy, disloyalty, and desires that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her orbit, she will learn how individual choices become the means by which life crystallizes loss. (

There you have it! Hopfully this list isn't too ambitious, as I hope to get through them all by September. With no summer plans, I'm going to try my best. I'm also going to read a few audiobooks: Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer (abridged); The Closers by Michael Connelly;  and Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner.

Should be a fun, busy summer. Happy reading!

Dinner Menu: Week Of June 17th

In an effort to eat in more often and blog more, I'm going to post our weekly dinner plan on this blog and then follow it up with pictures of each dinner we cook - if it's interesting enough I'll post step by step pictures so you guys can make it at home too, if you so choose! I think this will be a good way to hold ourselves accountable as often times we get home late from working and are too lazy to make what's in the fridge.

So without further ado:

Sunday: Chicken Fajitas
Monday: Turkey Chili
Tuesday: Red Curry Chicken Skewers with basmati rice and steamed sugar snap peas
Wednesday: Jamaican Jerk Salmon with mango pineapple salsa, roasted broccoli, and brown rice
Thursday: Black bean chicken quesadillas with salad
Friday: Shrimp stuffed shells with roasted carrots and salad
Saturday: Date night (dinner out)

I've made the Jamaican Jerk Salmon with that salsa before and it is AMAZING. If you like salmon and fruit salsa, I highly recommend you make it for dinner sometime!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Knit Happens

Paul and I did something awesomely nerdy the last few weekends:

We learned how to knit!

We enrolled in classes at a fantastic local yarn store called Harmony Yarn where they sell everything imaginable you would need to knit fabulous things. They also have high quality stuff and everyone that works there is super passionate about knitting. It sounds dorky but I wish I could hang out there all the time!

So far I haven't made anything. We've been learning different patterns and stitches so I have what looks like the beginning of a very awkward scarf.

Even though this is pretty ... ugly ... I'm kinda proud of it because it's something that I made with my own two hands. I'm going to finish out the ball of yarn that I'm using for this practice piece and turn it into a scarf. 

I already have another project lined up that looks something like this: 


So far the husband hasn't made anything significant either, he's practicing fancy stuff like reducing and adding stitches before taking on a real project. We will keep you updated on our progress!