Busy day

I took the day off from work to recuperate from my business trip and I certainly made the most of my time, if I do say so myself. As I sit here typing this post and waiting for Dan to get home from work, I realize that I’m really tired! More often than not I waste away my free time in front of the TV or the computer, but I think maybe I should have done that a little more of that today. Free time isn’t supposed to make you feel so run down, right? At one point I realized I was stressing myself out trying to get as much done as possible today so I grabbed my Kindle, collapsed on the couch, and read A Game of Thrones for a while. That was the most relaxing part of my day! Work is stressful enough, I don’t need to be pushing myself so hard on my day off. I did accomplish a lot, though. Dan should be home soon and I’ve got sweet and sour chicken and rice waiting for our dinner. My favorite part of taking time off is being able to make a leisurely meal. Trying a new recipe is just a bonus. I’ll write more about the rest of my day later this week. I know I’ve been saying that a lot recently. I was hoping to have the urge to write a much longer post today while I had the time, but it just didn’t happen. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

Sunday at home

When I woke up this morning I realized that I didn’t update my webpage yesterday. That’s twice in one week – how embarrassing! Although I made no promises to post every day in 2012, I still would like to be more diligent for my own sake. So what have I been doing since Friday, you ask? Well, I checked out of my hotel yesterday morning, drove to Dulles, and flew back to Los Angeles. According to my car’s outside thermometer it was only 48 deg on my way to the airport so not only was I really glad to be leaving DC, but I was also really glad that I packed my fleece jacket! My flight to Los Angeles was uneventful and my wonderful husband met me at the door when I got home. On Friday when I told Dan I’d take him to dinner anywhere he wanted, when I got home he took my words literally and made reservations at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Beverly Hills. It had been more than a year since we’d been there and we had a fantastic dinner last night. Unfortunately I ate way too much and was falling asleep on the way home. A great combination. I was so exhausted that I barely remember going to bed last night after we got home from dinner. I think I passed out by 10 PM because my body was still on East Coast time. I slept great in my own bed (I do not miss the lumpy Hampton Inn mattress) and woke up around 8 AM. Dan was still sleeping so I read A Game of Thrones (I’m trying to get through as much as possible before we start watching the season 1 DVDs I ordered) for about two hours before he was ready to get up. Most of today was filled with leisurely activities – watching basketball (the first round of the NBA playoffs) and doing the usual weekend chores. Dan and I ordered pizza for lunch so that we could eat while gleefully watching the Lakers beat the Nuggets in Game 1. Let’s hope they can keep the winning streak going. Dan went to work for a few hours this afternoon, but when he got home we watched last week’s episode of “Once Upon a Time” as well as this week’s installment. While I really enjoy the show, I don’t know if it has a future. It’s getting really cheesy. And that brings us to now. I’m yawning a lot as I finish up this post because I haven’t re-acclimated to the Pacific timezone yet. I’m taking tomorrow off from work to recuperate from my business trip so I’m planning to take full advantage of my free time. So even though it’s only 10 PM, I think I’m going to go to bed soon so that I will be well rested tomorrow. Good night!

Foodie Friday – Slow cooker lamb chops

First of all, I have to admit that I failed to update my webpage yesterday. My excuse is that I has some sort of flu-like illness yesterday that kept me from doing…well, anything. Long story short, I skipped work, took a bunch of medicine, and slept it off. I felt infinitely better when I woke up this morning after about fourteen hours of sleep. More about that later, but for now, on to the recipe!

I’ve been wanting to make lamb chops in the slow cooker for a long time, so last Friday when I took the afternoon off from work I seized the opportunity. I bought some lamb chops from Whole Foods, seasoned them when I got home, and plopped them into the slow cooker on low for a good long time. After six hours the house smelled amazing. I was so excited to serve succulent, fall of the bone lamb shops for dinner! However, Dan wasn’t hungry when he got home so I ate a little myself. Turns out it’s a good thing he had already eaten because while the meat tasted OK, it was really, really dry. Very unappetizing. Looking back, I think I made one of two mistakes – 1) The cuts of meat I bought were too lean, or 2) I should have added some liquid (water or broth) to the slow cooker. I’m leaning towards the former because I can’t imagine a little broth would have saved these poor mistreated lamb chops. I was so disappointed, but at least I learned something. Actually two things if you count the obvious “I should always have a backup plan for dinner when I’m trying a new recipe.” You never know when your perfectly planned meal is going to turn on you! So while I don’t recommend anyone trying this recipe as written, here it is anyway in case anyone can recommend an alteration that might lead to a more favorable outcome.

INGREDIENTS:
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Lamb chops (~2 lbs worth)
2 garlic cloves, minced

DIRECTIONS:
Place the onion slices in the bottom of the slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, thyme, garlic powder,rosemary, salt and pepper. Rub the spice mixture all over the lamb chops and add them to the slow cooker. Top with garlic. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours or until the meat is tender.

Based on Taste of Home’s Slow Cooked Lamb Chops.

Too tired

I fell asleep in front of the TV after a thirteen hour workday. I only woke up long enough to put on my pajamas and write this post. More tomorrow. Good night!

Stream of consciousness on a plane (part 2)

This is the second part of my ramblings on my flight from LAX to IAD yesterday. Enjoy my write-up of the afternoon and I spent with Dan at Disneyland on Friday.

Yesterday was a good day. About a week ago Dan suggested taking the day off work and spending it at Disneyland before I left on my business trip. This sounded like a fabulous idea, but I had a morning full of meetings that I couldn’t get out of. So I suggested going to Disneyland in the afternoon after I escaped from work. We had a great time. It was one of the first really warm days of the year so it was hot in Anaheim which is a ways inland, but Disneyland wasn’t very crowded so we got to ride all of our favorite rides without waiting too long for each one. Plus we got to eat delicious corn dogs for lunch and then have a great meal at Catal in Downtown Disney for dinner. I’ve always wanted a classic Mickey Mouse t-shirt so I was determined to buy one yesterday because it would be a nice reminder of a good day spent with my wonderful husband. And what better place to shop for a Mickey Mouse t-shirt than Disneyland, right? It was actually harder than I expected. I ended up buying a shirt at the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney, but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. But I got my shirt so I was happy. It was just the sort of day I needed before leaving town for a week. When Dan and I got home we watched the basketball game that we recorded while we were at Disneyland, but the Lakers were beaten quite handily by the Spurs so it wasn’t much fun. I finished packing my suitcase as much as possible and went to bed as early as possible, but not really early enough. I was pretty depressed when my alarm went off this morning. I put on my Mickey Mouse t-shirt to wear on my trip and it doesn’t fit quite right. Apparently my hips are too large and my chest is too small for a size medium. Oh well. I wore it today anyway because I needed the reminder of a good day while flying across the country for a crazy week of work. There’s got to be another place I can get the exactly t-shirt I’m looking for (a red shirt with a classic Mickey Mouse one it). Maybe the Disney Store at the mall? Maybe online? Maybe Target? I’ll keep my eyes open. To be honest, the last thing I need is another graphic t-shirt, but I want my Mickey Mouse t-shirt, gosh darn it!

Stream of consciousness on a plane (part 1)

I wrote this rambling run-on paragraph on my flight from LAX to IAD yesterday. There’s no better time for writing than on a long flight!

Air travel sucks. I didn’t fully realize this until today. At the moment I’m not doing too badly – I took a short nap after we took off and now I’m watching “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” (although the subtitles are hard read from three rows away), but so far most of this trip has been unpleasant. After my alarm went off this morning and I got in the shower I was trying to be as quiet as possible so Dan could sleep. Unfortunately I only hit the snooze button on my phone rather than turning off the alarm so it went off again a few minutes later. Stepping out of the shower while dripping went is never fun. Then as I was throwing a few last things in my suitcase I got a phone call. It was United informing me that my flight to DC that wasn’t leaving for almost three hours was switching gates. Why would I possibly care about that before I even left for the airport? I understand that I’d already checked in and the gate on my boarding pass was now incorrect, but I’m a savvy enough traveler to know to always check the departure monitors after I get through security. I’ve been in more than one situation where the gate changed between dropping off my bag at the counter and putting my shoes back on after clearing security. Granted not everyone knows to do this, but I think a simple email would suffice – which United sent me as well, of course. I’ve got to figure out how to disable phone call notifications in the future. When I got downstairs and slipped my laptop into my carry-on bag my phone rang again. This was starting to get old, especially since it wasn’t even 7 AM. This time it was Supershuttle telling me that my van was pulling up outside my house. So I grabbed my bags, went outside, and locked the door behind me. There was no Supershuttle van on my street. And ten minutes later there was still no sign of one. I started to wonder if the “your van is arriving” calls are meant to get people out on their curbs so when the van really does get there it doesn’t have to wait. Obviously effective, but for those of us who’ve been unprepared once too often when our ride to the airport shows up this is a little annoying because we’re ready to go twenty minutes early just in case. In any case, I got to the airport with no troubles this morning, just a few annoyances. Evidently LAX is busy on Saturdays. Without access to the United Premier security line (I didn’t travel enough last year to maintain my status) I had to wait a little longer than usual. But since Supershuttle wouldn’t pick me up any later for my flight, after I got through security I had an hour and a half before boarding even started so I made the most of it. I bought a bottle of chocolate milk for breakfast and sat down in the corridor between two terminals where the crowds were thinner for a little peace and quiet. It was actually very pleasant sitting there surfing the web on my phone and watching planes arrive and depart. Eventually it was time to go to my gate, though. Without my Premier status I was in the last boarding group so I was one of the last people on the plane. I actually considered flying another airline since I don’t have perks on United anymore (and don’t anticipate getting them back anytime soon), but I still have a hefty amount of frequent flyer miles and I’m holding out hope of earning enough for another trip to Hawaii. It wasn’t important for me to get on the plane early on this trip because I checked my suitcase. When I flew Delta to Tallahassee in December I only took a small carry-on suitcase because I didn’t want to pay the checked bag fee. I was subject to a similar fee on United for this trip because of my lack of Premier status, but I can submit it as a business expense so I didn’t hesitate to check my bag. Plus, I know from experience that it’s tough finding a place to store roller board suitcases on planes these days. No one else wants to pay checked bag fees either so there are a lot of carry-ons. After I earn enough miles for another Hawaiian vacation I am probably going to change my airline loyalty. Either that or I need to get that new United credit card that offers priority boarding and a free checked bag. Too bad my current United credit card isn’t so generous, but then again I purchased my ticket for this trip with my corporate card so it wouldn’t have made any difference today. I definitely need to investigate new credit cards to see what kind of rewards I can earn after I’ve outlived the usefulness of United. You can’t beat their choice of in-flight move, though. “Mission Impossible” is hard to top for entertainment value. I’d love to have internet access right now, though. At least I’m comfortable. Usually I freeze on flights, but right now I’m pleasantly warm. Probably because I have two windows next to my and the sun streaming in is very warm. I’m not wearing my usual fleece jacket because I thought it would be unnecessary in DC this time of year. Luckily I’m not cursing myself for not wearing it today. I did shove it into my suitcase at the last minute after looking at the weather forecast for the next few days. Somehow it’s going to go from highs in the 80s to highs in the 40s in the matter of two days. And then there’s the rain. I just realized that I forgot my raincoat. My little umbrella was already in my suitcase when I packed so I have some protection, but maybe not enough. If only I owned galoshes. Let’s just hope it’s not pouring when I arrive in DC. It’s not going to be pleasant picking up my rental car in a lot of rain.

To be continued…

(Belated) Foodie Friday – Crispy gnocchi with pesto

I didn’t post this recipe yesterday because I was way too tired after spending the afternoon and evening at Disneyland with Dan. But I can’t let my list of new recipes get backed up, so here’s the latest of my dinner creations. When I was running short on time in the evenings I used to boil some pre-made ravioli and top it with refrigerated prepared pesto for dinner. It was OK, but when I saw this recipe for crispy gnocchi and pesto I decided to mix things up a little. I haven’t eaten gnocchi too many times, but I’ve discovered that it can either be really tasty or really terrible. Very polarizing. Luckily this recipe turned out favorably! I used some seasoned frozen gnocchi from Whole Foods and some of our favorite Monterey pesto from the refrigerated pasta section of Ralph’s. Crisping the gnocchi didn’t add much time to the dinner preparation process and I was even able to use the same skillet that I had browned the turkey sausage in earlier (extra flavor!). Both Dan and I really liked this meal so I will definitely be making it again. I’m definitely adding this to my list of perfect weeknight meals. I don’t shop at Whole Foods too often because it’s so expensive, but I’ll make sure to pick up some more gnocchi next time I’m there!

INGREDIENTS:
1 package gnocchi (I used frozen)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Prepared pesto
Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:
Cook the gnocchi according to the instructions on the package. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. After boiling and draining the gnocchi, place it in the skillet in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the gnocchi and cook another 3-4 minutes until they are golden on the other side. Stir to coat with olive oil before removing from the pan. Stir as much pesto as you want in with the gnocchi and garnish with Parmesan cheese. And maybe throw some sliced turkey sausage on top for a little protein. Enjoy!

Based on Two Peas and Their Pod’s Crispy Gnocchi with Basil Pesto.

I found this today

In preparation for my upcoming business trip I took my big suitcase out of the closet today to start packing and found this laundry bag from the Grand Wailea inside. Sigh. Dan and I had such a great time in Hawaii last November and I’d love to be back there again right now. We’ve talked about going back this fall, maybe to Kauai, but it’s much less likely than last year. But if I can earn the frequent flyer miles soon enough a 2012 Hawaiian vacation it’s definitely not off the table. I’ve got my fingers crossed!