Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WIAW: Disney Edition

Hi, friends! So I am so beyond exhausted right now. We've been go, go, go ever since we got here. John has bruises on the bottom of his feet - crazy, right?! - and I have legs more sore than any workout has ever produced.

I didn't really focus on this month's theme of "Healthy Snacking", as I didn't do much snacking at all. Instead I focused on eating (fairly) healthy while on vacation. Head over to Peas and Crayons, hosted by Jenn, for more good eats. I plan to sneak in a few during long lines! ;)

We've been having the best time here, and I'm not complaining a bit (okay, besides the crazy humidity). So, my What I Ate Wednesday, is going to be short and simple.

Breakfast at The Grand Floridian Cafe: Lobster. Eggs. Benedict. 

Need I say more? Two poached eggs + hollandaise + tomatoes + lobster hash (lobster, onions, asparagus, potato shreds). Absolutely delicious. Although, what lobster dish isn't amazing?

Snack: John and I split an Edy's Strawberry Fruit Bar...

...while waiting in a 1 hour and 45-minute long line for the Jungle Cruise. I also wrote a blog post, while waiting in the longest line we've experienced this whole trip.

Lunch at Frontierland Cafe: Salad + chicken + drizzle of ceasar dressing; strawberry yogurt.

As part of our meal plan, we have one "quick service" meal a day, which includes an entree, dessert and drink. This means a limited menu and cafeteria-style food. With all the walking (and running!) we were doing, I knew I needed something healthy yet filling. And I found an option to suit my needs! Who says you can't eat healthy while on vacation?

Dinner at Portobello, an Italian restaurant in Downtown Disney 

Our table (John's parents, sister and the two of us) split some awesome appetizers: calamari and mozzarella-stuffed rice balls with marinara, plus bread with roasted garlic and olive oil spread.

Honestly I was skeptical of the rice balls, but they were so creamy, thanks to the rice being risotto and the addition of fresh basil. I loved these! I had half a rice ball plus a few pieces of calamari, both dredged in marinara. I finished it off with half a roll + roasted garlic spread.

My entree certainly did not disappoint: mahi mahi with polenta served over tomato sauce.

The polenta was creamy, and the mahi mahi was cooked perfectly. The sauce was an excellent pair to bring out both flavors. Add some zucchini on top, and this is a recipe I must recreate!

Dessert (two-parts!): I had a few bites of John's creme brulee (my favorite dessert) at the restaurant (unpictured), plus a piece of chocolate left on my pillow at the hotel.

I may not be commenting on your comments or emails right now, but I promise you I am reading them. I so appreciate them! I'm doing my best to conserve battery life on my phone during the day, and comments fail on my blogger app. I will respond soon, I promise!

Now, I crash. Must be rested for my last day at Disney. Wish my legs luck!

A Day in Disney...in Instagram

I'm going to keep this quick.  

We're having a blast, and are making the most of every second.

Thanks to Tropical Storm Debbie, Orlando weather is even more bipolar than Indiana. 
And humid. So very humid.

We were up for 22 hours yesterday.

My legs are mighty sore. Yowza.

I'm blogging from a very long line for the Jungle Cruise. Thanks, Blogger app!

More updates soon!

For now, a quick peak at our first day.

Unfortunately, pictures don't appear in chronological order - major pet peeve - but you get the gist. I'll try to add descriptions later. *Updated to add: descriptions!

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Waiting in line for Mission Space in Epcot
First shot at Disney; outside the monorail! Hair is still down at this point...
My "Goofy" hubby :)
Just minutes after our first picture my hair was up in a bun. Humidity and I don't mix well.
Soaking wet after running through Animal Kingdom, trying to make our bus... in the pouring rain.
PS: The bun didn't help the humidity hair mess. Cue side french braid,

Monday, June 25, 2012

And We're Off

Now to the good stuff...vacation!!

We're headed to Orlando for a few days, where we're staying at The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa on Walt Disney World! The plan is to have a day or two to ourselves, and then we have a special surprise in the works. It's John's dad's birthday Tuesday, and he is in Orlando with John's mom and sister. We're going to meet up with the family at Disney World and surprise John's dad, because he has no idea we'll be there. Fingers crossed we pull it off and go 2 for 2 in the surprise party department this summer.

Our hotel for two nights!

While we're at Disney we plan to use a new app that John found for my phone. It's called Disney World Wait Times, Dining and Maps by UnderCoverTourist.com (quite the mouthful!). It's a free app (with ads) that updates to show you the wait time for every ride in all four parks. We're hoping to use it to maximize our time. I'll be sure to let you know how it works out.
After spending two nights and three days at Disney World, the hubby and I will rent a car and drive to Sanibel Island Wednesday night. We made the drive last year, when we took a day excursion to Orlando. 

Not my fittest point. Good thing it's never too late to make a change!

Thursday we'll pick up our good friends Ally and Wes from the airport, and the four of us will enjoy a relaxing 4-night stay at John's grandparents' condo. We are so fortunate that they have a condo that they allow us to use, as well as a car they keep at the condo. We definitely would not be able to take this vacation if it weren't for their generosity. Thanks, Mimi and Papa!

The last time Ally and I were on a vacation together was when we went to Japan for spring break our senior year of college. We were part of a pioneer service-learning course, where we studied International Public relations, specifically those in Asian countries (China, India, Japan). We traveled to Tokyo and surrounding cities to meet with public relations executives, journalists and even the U.S. Ambassador. While this is not even close to being the same kind of trip, I'm so looking forward to making new memories of new travels.

While we're in Sanibel we hope to hit up lots of fun things on the island and possibly Ft. Myers. Ally and I are already planning an outlet mall trip - thanks to babysitting money! - and John and I will attend a dinner theater one evening, courtesy of Mimi and Papa. We even hope to see Swade, who will be in Captiva around the same time visiting a sorority sister of ours.

I'm not sure how much I'll be posting this week, but I'll be sure to have a few posts recapping our trip. If you read this long, and have any suggestions for places to go or things to do during our stay, please let me know. I'd love some fresh ideas! :)

Summer Updates

Greetings from 30,000 feet in the air! (And thank you, Air Tran for in-flight wireless!)

John and I are currently en route for our vacation - woo hoo! I've got a quick weekend recap and some updates before we arrive at our destination. 

I hope that you all enjoyed your weekends, and managed to find some time to relax. John and I were quite the busy duo, and didn't do much relaxing. Friday night I babysat two sweet little girls from about 8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. That's usually way past my bedtime, but thanks to an old America's Next Top Model marathon on Style, I was entertained through the evening. 

Oh, Tyra. Your theatrics, constant tangents of your glory days and self-love are unending.
Saturday was spent doing laundry, cleaning and packing for our trip, before heading to my good friend Jourdan's BabyQ! Jourdan and her husband are expecting their first bundle of joy in August, and we all got together for a combination baby shower + BBQ. I've never been to one of these before but we had a blast.

On Sunday we finished up all the details in preparation for our trip, including printing off all the necessary documents and checking into our flight online the night before. My brother and sister arrived late Sunday evening, on their way from Alabama to Chicago. Meg is staying with our Hoosh puppy for the week, and George is driving her belongings back to Chicago, since she's moving back to the midwest. Honestly I am practically giddy to have my sister so close to me again. Cue lots of weekend visits to Chicago! :)

With my younger siblings, Gdubs (George) and Meg, on my wedding day. Look at those blondies!
I am so beyond grateful that Meg is able to stay with the pup. Originally, we thought we'd board her, and even went through an elaborate interview and acceptance process at Camp Bow Wow. Though it was lengthy - and pricey at $38 a night - I was grateful for the quality care that they offer. So, thank you Meg for saving us some moolah! :)

As I'm sure you've noticed, I haven't had many posts this month. With vacation impending and busy weekends, I did my best to use up everything in our fridge, resulting in lots of salads and frittatas. Plus, we had our favorite deep-dish Chicago pizza, Lou Malnati's, shipped to us, thanks to a gift card leftover from Christmas. Hopefully I'll have more when we return. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

BBQ Chicken Salad

Happy first day of summer! In honor of this glorious day, I decided to make a yummy salad that screamed summer to me. And let me tell you, this salad is one of the best I've had. Well, that John and I have both had, because he raved about it all night.

This salad is packed with so much flavor, that even 3 hours after eating, I'm still satisfied and quite full. Though, full disclosure, I did have some PBF saltine sandwiches for dessert. Anyoo...I guarantee you and your family will love this. It is filling and beyond tasty. We're already planning to have it for lunch tomorrow!

PS: Do yourself a favor, and make it with the blue cheese vinaigrette. Jackpot!

BBQ Chicken Salad
Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod, via Jourdan Leigh in the kitchen
Serves 2

Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

This is the delightful dressing that I paired with this fantastic BBQ Chicken Salad. I made a few modifications to the original recipe to lighten it up a bit, and we thought it tasted great. And by great, I mean super fantastic. Wow! I will definitely plan to use this with some other salads this summer. Thank goodness it was just two of us so we have leftovers for more salads this week. Yum! :)

Blue Cheese Vinaigrette 
Recipe adapted from Two Peas in Their Pod, via Jourdan Leigh in the kitchen
Serves about 8

Monday, June 18, 2012

There's a New Sheriff in Town

...a Mrs. Sheriff, that is!

Saturday night John and I went to a wonderful wedding for my good friend Deborah and her now-hubby Tyler.  Let me tell you, we could not have had more fun! As I type this my calves are still killing me from all the dancing that was done. When you get a bunch of sorority sisters together we're bound to have a blast and dance the night away. 

The reception was on the roof of the Regent Bank Tower, and the night was gorgeous and absolutely perfect. Below are some of my favorite photos of the night (all from my iPhone so not always the best). If I can figure out how to do it, I might just post a video or two from the evening as well - and one of those involves a rapping bride. My friends are awesome. 

Congratulations, Deborah and Tyler!!

One of my favorite wedding party intros...She was a bull and he was the bull fighter. Hilarious!

The beautiful bride & her hubby (love the sheriff badges, a throwback to Tyler's last name!)

Katie, Me, Lindsey, Jourdan (and baby girl!) and Jessie
Caitlin and I - and no slouching since we're both tall!
Me, Katie, Kelsey, Lindsey, Jourdan (and baby girl!)
Ready for a baby Alpha Phi!

"Call Me Maybe"
Almost all the Alpha Phis!

Enjoying the beautiful wedding and beautiful night with my favorite! :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Who Doesn't Love a Surprise Party?

Answer: No one!

Even if the surprisee - I make up words and clauses now; my journalism professors would be so proud - claims to not like surprises, everyone always has a blast at these shindigs.

This was no different! Leslie and her sisters threw a fantastic surprise party for their oldest sister Lori, and we had so much fun attending it and participating in all the festivities. We chatted with family and new friends, before retiring to the TV room to watch the IndyCar race. If you read my blog you shouldn't be surprised that John dragged us to watch it. I took that time for a lovely nap, before retiring for the evening.

 But before I did that, here's a little rundown of our evening.

For one, there was lots and lots of yummy food. Check out this spread! I became particularly fond of dipping the beer chips - who knew those existed? - into the roasted red pepper hummus. Hello yumminess. Everything else was super tasty, too.

The decorations were so fun! Look at the picture of Lori and her mom (gorgeous!) and then Lori modeling. Add in the cake and beautiful centerpiece, and I didn't even cover half the decorations. I was too busy enjoying myself, I guess. :)

And, for those interested, my ensemble for the evening. 

*Dress: Vince Camuto
*Wedges: Nine West, via outlet mall in Ft. Myers last year
*Purse: Marc Jacobs red leather crossbody bag, via Nordstrom last year (no longer available)
*Belt: via Nordstrom, circa 3 years ago
*iPhone case: Kate Spade, via Apple (similar to link)

Happy birthday, Lori! We love you!

Suzy's Cracker Crusted Chicken

This. Is. Amazing. 

And sooooo easy!!

My friend Ally made this awesome chicken for my girlfriends and I when she hosted our monthly dinner party. I told her I had to get the recipe, and I promised you I would share it as soon as I did.

Well, she sent it to me a couple days ago, and I made it last night. It was even better than I remembered! John was completely enamored with it. He even asked for it again for dinner tonight. If I didn't have crab cakes that needed to be cooked today, I would totally be down for it. Looks like tomorrow I'll have to make it again!

But, seriously, anyone can make this, and it is one of the tastiest chicken recipes I've ever had. The parmesan and cayenne pepper really gives it an awesome flavor, and the crackers cook up so nicely it tastes like fried chicken - but better! The cayenne gives it a nice little kick, but it's not too spicy. If you're worried about little ones, simply leave it out and add it to your breasts before cooking. Voila!

Do yourself a favor and make this. Tonight. You won't be sorry.

Suzy's Cracker Crusted Chicken
Recipe by Suzy Wells
Serves 2 (can easily be multiplied) 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I'm here!

Hi, strangers! 

I promise I am still alive and well. I have missed blogging, but I have also loved taking a little break from just about everything. I haven't blogged. I haven't worked on school-related things (besides a few emails). I haven't even cooked too much, unless salads suddenly count. And you know what? It's been nice.

Hoosh has really enjoyed the extra "mommy time." She has been my little shadow, even when I'm doing laundry and running around the apartment. Not gonna lie, I love it.

I've missed this little blog and all of you, so I'm back. At least until I go on vacation in less than two weeks...woooo!!!

Okay, I'm done.

So, some things I plan to catch you up on over the next few posts...

That frittata recipe that I promised you...umm almost forever ago.

John's Aunt Lori's awesome surprise party hosted by John's mom and her lovely sisters.

My salad spree lately - lots of good ones!

One of the best, and I mean BEST, chicken recipes ever. It is also one of the easiest

And, finally, and most excitedly for me at this moment...we bought a (almost) new car!!!!

Lots to come, friends, so stay tuned! :)

How have you been doing? Enjoying summer? Vacation? Would you like to see one post sooner than another? I'd love to hear how you're doing and what you're interested in reading about.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

WIAW: Nearing the End

Haaaaaapy Wednesday! 

In case you missed it, my weekend updates included Couples Night Out (the ladies of WIAW Girls Dinner dragged the boys out!) and JB Graduates! 

It's official: Tomorrow is the last day of school. I am in such shock over this. Honestly this year has flown by, and I can't believe I only have one more day with my kiddos. I love those little ones so much!

Anyhoo, as has become typical, these are my Tuesday eats. I didn't really get the memo that it's about showing sensible snacking, so you're just in for some regular eats.  For more great posts, head over to Jenn's blog and check out all the other link ups!

Breakfast: I'm back to my favorite breakfast sandwich made by my wonderful hubby! Yesssss! On the sandwich: two slices 7-grain bread (toasted), one over-easy egg, one slice fontina, plus some organic reduced sugar raspberry preserves. In a word: YUM. It keeps me full all morning, and limits my dangerous snacking habit.

Lunch: Leftovers from last night! I made a new type of frittata (recipe coming tomorrow!) and I brought a slice for lunch. It includes lots of goodies, like spinach, zucchini, onion, tomato, bacon and parmesan. Ohhhh boy, is this delicious and super filling. I had some organic strawberries on the side, and I was a happy girl.

Just one slice for lunch! Couldn't decide on the picture, though ;)

Snack: I had half of a small pastry (I think it was cinnamon?) that was in the office (from Panera). It was super sugary, so I just had a couple bites. I also threw some almonds in there, as I got ready for my End of Year evaluation with the academic dean and head of school.

Woo hoo! My meeting went fantastically (is that even a word?)! I really am so blessed to work at my school, and I am so grateful for such a supportive administration. Yay for looking forward to another wonderful year at my school!

Once I got home, I planned to relax before heading to the eighth grade graduation. Welp, I fell asleep instead, and I woke up at 8 p.m. I think we'll mark that one as a bit of a fail. Oy vey.

Dinner: I had this one all planned out (score!). The delicious Crispy Salmon BLT Sliders with Chipotle Mayo (I had two, and made them with whole wheat slider buns this time), with a salad on the side. The salad included romaine, spinach, orange and yellow bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, pine nuts and fat free feta. The dressing was made using olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and dijon. Aaaaaamazing.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Couples Night Out

Welcome to my second post of this weekend recap!

Saturday was a super busy day. I went to the gym, ran errands, grocery shopped, cleaned our apartment and managed a little reading, all before the highlight of the day: Couples Dinner! Some of the girls from our normal Girls Dinner crew got together Saturday night. Except this time we brought the boys! I hinted at our plans, and even though they changed a bit, we had an absolute blast. I'm pretty sure we were the restaurant entertainment as we were laughing so loud throughout our meal.

We ate at Adobo Grill, which is a fantastic Mexican restaurant downtown. John and I are big fans, and this is not our first time frequenting the place. It happens to be one of John's favorite restaurants and is downtown, so we could not have been happier.

Our table started off with two orders of tableside guacamole. Let me tell you, this is fantastic. I could have easily gotten one order just for me and been perfectly content at making it my dinner. Lucky for everyone else I didn't.

John and I opted to split two items for our entree. We got our usual tllayuda, plus the stuffed chicken, which our server recommended. I had two slices of the tllayuda and a piece of the chicken. Both were great, minus the cilantro that wound up on the chicken. I scraped it off, but I think I would have enjoyed it much more without that part.

Here's our lovely dinner crew! I have to note, that throughout our evening various members of our group would tell me what I needed to include in my blog post. I'd get "blog this!" and "take a picture of that!" at different points in the night. I loved it, especially because they were so enthusiastic. Thanks for caring, guys! :)

After dinner we decided to walk down the street to a new-to-us restaurant/bar, The Libertine. It had some super cool decor inside, and I was especially enamored with the white tree coming out of the wall. How cool is that?

They had a really unique cocktail menu, too! Ally was very excited to see Pimm's which I had never heard of! It was full of ginger and other flavors, and she seemed to really enjoy it.

I only have two complaints about our experience. The first would be the super snooty hostess, who was probably the rudest person I've encountered in the food service business. The second is that the very dim light in The Libertine did make me a wee bit sleepy. We only stayed for one drink, which is probably for the best. This girl would have taken a nap!

After we left, Swade and Adam headed to see Swade's visiting family members. Ally, Wes, John and I walked a bit farther to Tastings, a wine bar located inside The Conrad. Ally and Wes picked out a great wine to try, and we enjoyed dreaming about our upcoming vacation. We always have the best time with those two, and I have no doubt our vacation will be a blast.

How was your weekend? I hope you had as much fun as we did! :)
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