Day 273–Panini Press Chocolate Cake

Yep. You heard me.  Now you have to wait until the end to figure out what I’m talking about.

In other news, how ’bout that Nellie Cruz? Boomstick for the win!  Tense game, hard to watch without stressing myself out, but exciting ending…and I can confirm that Abby actually called it two pitches before it happened. I married a psychic.

On to the food, because let’s face it–that’s why everyone reads this thing anyways.

Breakfast–Honey Nut Cheerios. Polished off the box…held a brief memorial. Then I threw it away.

Lunch–Peanut butter and strawberry (curveball…although Nellie crushed that one too) jelly sandwich with spice rubbed bbq chips.  That, coupled with the awesomeness of the Daily Show, made lunch incredible.

Dinner–Taco salad, partially because it sounded great and partially because I had some salad and a pound of ground beef in the fridge.  Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put that together into a meal.  Add some sauteed onions and crushed jalapeno chips from Food Should Taste Good and you’ve got a solid meal on your hands!

Dessert–So I found this recipe on TasteSpotting.com that was a chocolate cake made on a panini press.  How, you say?  Using the secret weapon of a ramekin.  It’s a great cake recipe shrunken down for smaller portions (complete with chocolate “buttercream” icing) made using the two heated plates on a panini press or Foreman grill.  It worked PERFECTLY, although the original recipe was yellow cake (I added cocoa) and then some chocolate chips for a little creaminess inside.  The cake and icing were both delicious, took about 35 minutes to make total, and now we don’t have the temptation for another piece because its all gone. Boom(stick).

I have to admit, the sushi from last night left me stuffed, even until this morning, so it took a bit to get my appetite going.  It led to a strange internal debate: do I eat and keep my metabolism activated even if I’m not hungry, or should I skip the meal and only eat when hungry?  What’s your take, dear readers?

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Day 272–Boulder

Or Bouldah, if you’re from Boston.

This morning we got up, got ready, and got our tails to Boulder, Colorado–home of Colorado University and one of the better people watching sites in the world.  Seriously, Boulder=bizarre.  It is a beautiful place however, and we enjoyed one of the local sights by making the drive up to Boulder Falls.  It’s a brief (like, 30 yards) hike off the highway, but it was a really cool place with a gorgeous waterfall in the middle of the canyon.  Here’s some photographic evidence:

Breakfast–Honey Nut Cheerios before the journey.

Lunch–Boulder Organic Pizzeria.  Just like I can’t really remember life before cell phones (except fairly vivid memories of getting in trouble for not calling my parents from friends’ houses when I arrived) or the internet, I’m not entirely sure how I functioned in society before Groupon and Living Social.  When we decided to go to Boulder, I pulled up Living Social, found a deal for a pizza place, and BOOM–discounted delicious food.  We had the Rome Plow pizza: proscuitto, Italian ham, finocchiona, and roasted peppers.  It was marvelous, except all of the pork products coupled with some shaved parmigiano reggiano left a very VERY salty aftertaste.  Thankfully, they had some Boylan’s Natural Soda on tap, so I was able to wash it all down with a very VERY sweet Black Cherry soda. Oh, and ice cream.  It was fantastic, and the entire bill came out to $1.58 (pre-tip of course…I didn’t shortchange her) which is quite a steal.

Dinner–All you can eat sushi!  We also had plans for dinner with Rachel and her boyfriend Marc (it was a full day!) so we had to plan our meals accordingly so we didn’t A) spend too much money or B) eat the same thing for two meals.  I couldn’t even begin to tell you what all I ate, except that there was some rice and pickled ginger and fish. And it was amazing. And NOT $1.58.

So there you go…another solid weekend in the books.  Next weekend will include David Crowder, Red Rocks, and the return of Cowboys football.  I have to admit, between the Rangers winning, the Giants, Eagles, and Texans losing, and the debut of Tim Tebow this season, it was a good sports weekend.  I’m glad the Longhorns and Cowboys didn’t play so they couldn’t screw it up. (What’s that? UT played? NOT FROM WHAT I SAW.)

Oh…and it snowed in parts of Denver, dropped below freezing, and dusted the mountains with beautiful powder. I love winter.

Day 270–Ravioli

Today was one of those gradient days, where everything starts out very badly and then gradually gets better and better.  I woke up this morning after having one of those dreams that ran like a horror movie…not one of the good ones, like the Shining or Exorcist, but the crappy ones like The Grudge Part 6 or whatever we’re on now.  So I woke up very disoriented and confused, and on top of all that it was only 15 minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off, so even if I wanted to try to fall back asleep and take my chances with the Window of Doom (don’t ask) I didn’t have the chance.

After that, I got a pleasant surprise because Abby forgot the cupcakes we (she…I stirred. And frosted.) made last night for her work at home, so we got lunch together. THEN I found new episodes (new to me at least) of the Daily Show on our On Demand, and THEN (notice the bold for greater and increasing emphasis) I got the brilliant idea to make homemade ravioli for dinner. And it was delicious.  End it all off with Supernatural and the fact its the weekend, and not a bad Friday. On to the food.

Breakfast–Strawberry Eggo wafflewich with peanut butter. It was gooooood, and I was really tired of cereal.

Lunch–Chick Fila, for the first time since we moved. Hello, old friend.  I had a Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Fries with a lemonade.  Probably should have gotten fruit instead of fries, but at that point in the day I was planning on having seared ahi tuna on salad greens for dinner.  Clearly, things changed.

Snack–Kit Kat bar.  The Halloween commercials are kicking my willpower’s tail.

Dinner–Homemade(ish) sweet potato ravioli.  Roasted sweet potato, salt, pepper, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, olive oil, fried sage, and diced bacon mixed and put into wonton wrappers (that’s the secret friends…boom) alongside with some caramelized onions and asparagus.  It was AMAZING.  Next time, I’m adding some granny smith apple and a splash of vinegar…I failed on the acid part of things. Oh well. You learn.

Dessert–Leftover cupcakes. Probably.  I might be able to resist, but lets be honest…for the gradient to continue improving, there needs to be some cupcake action.

Tomorrow, winter smacks us in the face like the mountain people that we claim to be, and then Sunday we have Boulder to look forward to. Woo!

Day 268–Mistborn

So during our Sunday Skype session (Or sesh if you’re cool. Which I am not.) with the Toys and St. Germains I requested some more reading material from Casey, my resident book aficionado. She suggested The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, and as luck would have it, Amazon had it on sale for 3 dollars in the Kindle store.  I bought it Monday afternoon, started reading Monday night, and finished it last night…at THREE IN THE MORNING.  It was a fantastic book, but it was 538 pages long and once I got to the last quarter of it I just couldn’t stop.  Totally worth it, except I (of course) slept in and was awoken by an appraisal crew coming to look at our apartment knocking on the door.  Most of the noise that occurs in our apartment comes from either the TV, the kitchen, or our ridiculous neighbors.  Since Abby was gone (so the TV wasn’t on) and I was in bed (so I wasn’t banging around in the kitchen) I just assumed the banging noise was coming from the yahoos upstairs.  Thankfully, I pierced the fog long enough to realize someone was about to come into the apartment and was presentable for the 2 minutes they were in here. Weird way to start the day.  Oh, and I’m already 186 pages into the second book in the trilogy. I read fast.

Breakfast–Chorizo and potato breakfast tacos, two of them.  I made pasta with chorizo yesterday and had about 6 oz leftover, so I browned it up and combined it with some potato, caramelized onion, and egg.  I obviously didn’t eat all of it, so I’ve got a good mixture to use over the next couple of days in omelettes and more tacos.

Lunch–Because my day got off to such a late start, lunch was more snacking before I went on a walk.  I had some grapes and a KIND bar.

Exercise–Since the weather was beautiful, I went for a leisurely stroll listening to Matt Chandler and admiring the beautiful scenery. I went for about an hour, burning somewhere around 500 calories. Good way to counteract the chorizo from the morning.

Dinner–Chipotle!  A burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, barbacoa, lettuce, corn salsa, and hot salsa.  We ate outside and watched the sunset/the incredible clouds rolling in.  Have I mentioned I love it here?

No dessert…no really good options in the apartment short of eating a spoonful of Nutella, and that seems like a bad idea. So I won’t.

Perhaps I’ll go to bed at a decent hour tonight…assuming I don’t start reading again. I’m going to turn myself nocturnal if I’m not careful!

Your Parents Were Right

My entire life, and especially during my childhood, I was told that I could do and be whatever I want, if I set my mind to it.  No task, goal, job, or whatever I could think up was out of my reach.  I believed this with a passion, thinking that “if I set my mind to it” was a magical key to success; a switch I could turn on and off on a whim if I really wanted something.  Sometimes it completely blew up in my face (see: Academics, College) and sometimes it was wildly successful (working at Trek, marrying Abby).  It’s funny though…after getting married I’ve tried for so many things that just haven’t worked at all, whether it be jobs or papers for classes or even trying to lose weight, that I’m very tempted to doubt what my parents said–I’m not special, I can’t do what I set my mind to, and there are certainly things out of my reach.  As I read rejection letters from menial tasks at grocery stores, as I’m told by churches “I’m not what they’re looking for, but good luck!” and as I look down at the spare tire still stuck around my middle its incredibly alluring to give in and admit what everyone else appears to have hidden from me: that I’m normal and prone to failure.

And that, my dear friends, would be a load of crap.

The problem in this situation isn’t “me” as much as it is how I’ve handled it. Success isn’t something you turn on and off…it isn’t a golden ticket, a magic genie, a silver bullet, a [insert movie reference here], its a way of life.  In college, I waited until my last two semesters to try working hard and studying, and I had mild success but had already dug myself into a hole that was admittedly too deep to climb out of that quickly.  Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes hard work–not eating a salad every four days and assuming that’ll take care of it. And as for the churches and schools trying to find a job, well…I do this to God all the time.

We use faith the same way that I use my supposed “specialness,” as a switch we turn on in times of great distress and hardship and we expect it to carry us through the storm.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and then we get mad at God for His “failure.”  Shouldn’t faith be a way of life? Shouldn’t it cover everything we do, drowning out every other voice that could possibly steer us astray? I mean, if I had used all the gifts that God has given me in college, I would have been wildly successful. But I didn’t, and I paid for it, even if I think this was His plan all along.  And if we truly, truly had all-encompassing faith, shouldn’t we look at things like perceived rejection by the world as something other than rejection?  What if God doesn’t want me at [SPOILER ALERT] UT Houston Medical School or Grace Crossing or Sugar Grove or Creekside or Dillon Community Church or West Houston or any of the other seemingly dozens of churches that haven’t even given me the time of day? Is that actually failure or is it just adhering to His glorious and perfect plan?  I see it as a lack of success because its what I wanted, what I strived for.  When David was sitting in a cave as an outlaw preparing to potentially be apprehended and executed, and yet he still had faith that God’s promise was good enough for him, I don’t think failure ever entered his mind. He knew, beyond all doubt, that God is good and faithful and it would work out the way God needed it to.

The truth is, I’m incredibly special. I’m gifted, I’m athletic, I’m hilarious, and I’ve got an entire storehouse of blessings from God just waiting to be unleashed upon some unsuspecting church or school that God already has picked out for me.  I will be successful, and there will be God’s glory to be praised and thanked for all of it.  It may be in December, it may be next year, it may be ten years from now, but I will glorify His name through my job.

So yes, my parents were right. I’m special, and capable of great things. But its only because they believe in me, because my friends believe in me, and because my God believes in me.  I am successful in the eyes of God, and anything outside of Him is going to be a failure no matter the dollar signs or accolades.  I’m ready for a life of faith, and therefore a life of success.

After all, my Holy Father tells me I can be anything He wants me to be.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13

Day 266–NA-PO-LI!

Last Friday morning my dad asked me what I thought about the baseball playoffs, as in who was going to be in the World Series. My response was “Um…ask me in a week.” The weird thing about how the ALDS played out is that if you told me any of the four teams had made it to the World Series, I wouldn’t be shocked. Detroit has the arms, New York has the power, Texas has the balance, and Tampa Bay had the momentum and apparently Lady Luck on retainer. It is with great relief that Texas has taken a 2-1 lead in their ALDS matchup, because while this series is far from over (Matt Harrison gets a lot of love in this household, but until he closes this thing out I’m still worried) I feel much better with a lead than a hole to climb out of in Tampa. Go Rangers, and Mike Napoli is the bomb. Best. Trade. Ever.

Breakfast–Yeah, so I didn’t really eat breakfast.  I had some horrendous allergies last night so I took some Claritin, and then I was worried it would keep me up so I took Nyquil too.  Big mistake.  I overslept by a lot and then couldn’t break through the fog for a while even after I was awake. Not cool.

Lunch–Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with grapes. Like I’m a little kid.

Snack–Cinnamon raisin bagel thin with Nutella. Delicious.

Dinner–Mango-jalapeno chicken sausage with whole wheat tortillas and sweet-spicy broccoli slaw. I really liked it, but I burned Abby out with a little too much heat. Oh well…not bad overall.  And I ate waaaaaay too much so there wasn’t a temptation to eat dessert.

Tomorrow I get oriented and we hit a little chorizo magic. Get pumped.

Day 265–Tony Romo

I think while writing this the Lions got another interception.  Someone keep Tony away from the pigskin for a while.

This morning we went and saw 50/50, a movie that has personal meaning for me since I’ve had family members fight cancer.  I have to say, even with the inclusion of Seth Rogen (who was…tolerable), it was a really good movie.  I laughed a lot (potentially more than I should have…Abby and I were often laughing while no one else was) and Abby cried a bit (I fought the tears) but most of all it felt real.  It didn’t sugarcoat things, there wasn’t a perfect protagonist–“based on a true story” really shone through.  Recommended for those who are interested and don’t mind some profanity.

We also had the wonderful opportunity to Skype with the Toys and St. Germains tonight, which was amazing!  We miss our friends a lot, and its incredible how much Julia has grown in the six weeks we’ve been gone.  She’s crawling around, standing up, and “talking” loudly…by the time we finally get back down there to see everyone she’s going to be saying real words and potentially running around.  It was very surreal to see the four of them getting ready for dinner on a Sunday night and not being involved…they’re important people in our lives and I’m not sure we realized the enormity of the hole they’re absence has left in our lives until faced with it.  We’ll be back to see them soon!

Breakfast–Honey Nut Cheerios before the movie. Good way to start the day.

Lunch–Salad greens with Spicy Thai Chili tuna.  It was good and filling…lots of protein, lots of fiber.

Snack–Ice cream sandwich.  Probably unnecessary but I wanted something sweet. Oh well.

Dinner–Panera.  I had the half and half with a turkey sandwich (turkey, cucumber, lettuce, and onion) and the Asian Sesame salad or whatever its called at Panera with a piece of baguette and a chocolate croissant for dessert.  The dessert was only 99 cents, so it was a good deal. And the view was of the Rockies as a storm was rolling in, bathing the peaks in this ethereal light from behind a massive thunderhead. Not a bad dinner theater.

This week is orientation at Valor and hopefully the beginning of fall down here in Denver. And go see 50/50!