Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer Squash Gratin

What are the benefits of following other blogs?! Awesome ideas, including recipes! I adapted this recipe from Buns in my Oven. It's a great cooking/baking blog, you should check it out! 

Since we have been "harvesting" in our own backyard, we had a few zucchinis and squash so I decided to try this recipe. It was delicious! Fresh vegetables always taste good. 

1 medium zucchini 
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium potato
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used milk and worked just fine!)
4 ounces extra sharp white cheddar, grated (I used mozzarella because that's what was in our fridge, other types of cheese will work too)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Slice the zucchini and yellow squash to between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick. Slice the potato into paper thin slices. Place all the sliced vegetables into a bowl and toss to mix them up.
  3. Place a single layer of mixed vegetables in the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the cheese.
  4. Repeat the layers twice more and pour the heavy cream over the top.
  5. Cover the dish in foil and bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Sisterhood Everlasting

I finished another book! I read Sisterhood Everlasting by: Ann Brashares. I discovered this book when I was reading the blog Meals and Miles. This book is the "5th" of the series Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. This book is 10 years later after the final book, catching up with the four friends: Carmen, Tibby, Lena, and Bridget. 

I have to say the book was not that great. The first half of the book was depressing and very slow. Very little action and a focus on the thoughts of each character. The ending was okay, it could have been worse. The four original books were probably 10x better then this final book. I wanted to read Sisterhood Everlasting because I read all the other ones so I figured I would read this one. 

Here is a little more about the plot of the book: 


 Four friends
One sisterhood
Ten years later, the story continues
On the cusp of turning thirty, Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget are now living separate lives, out on their own. Yet despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness. Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Art and Bikes in NYC

Yesterday Mom and I went to New York City for a fun day that I had been looking forward to for awhile! I wanted to visit the Guggenheim Museum for a long time and we decided that we were going to go sometime this summer. My Mom kept saying how she wanted to ride bikes in Central Park...so we did both! 

We took the train from Brewster to Grand Central and arrived at the Guggenheim around 1. It was so cool from the outside! Frank Lloyd Wright was the designer of the building (which I have studied in the past). 
Outside of the Guggenheim 

The inside was so cool looking too! There were (I think) 7 atrium's with different pieces of art. Outside each level were visiting collections. We saw lots of work from famous artists including: Alexander Calder, Pablo Piscasso (one of my favorites), Paul Gauguin,  Paul Cézanne, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Vincent van Gogh. It amazes me how some of the art was considered art. A canvas painted in solid blue? But I'm no artist! We had earphones with a guided tour (included with admission), which was helpful in learning something new!  

One of the visiting exhibition's was Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective. It was a collection of photographs and videos. I thought they were all very interesting. She took photos of people all over the world and all ages. Some of them were the same people throughout the years and those were quite interesting. There were about 10 pictures of man showing how his looks evolved since serving the military. 

Inside. The mobile hanging is by Alexander Calder called Red Lilly Pads. I studied that one in art class and it was neat to see it in person! 
The one on the right is by Jackson Pollock 
Yellow Cow by Franz Marc 
Me outside the museum

After spending a couple of hours in the museum we left for our next adventure! By the way...we weren't supposed to take pictures of the artwork so shhh, don't tell anyone ;)


We walked about 30 blocks from the museum to the shop where we picked up our bikes. Little did we know, the shop was a few blocks outside of Central Park. How did we get our bikes to the park you ask? Acted like real New Yorkers and rode the bikes on the crazy streets! We just went for it, but quite dangerous if you ask me. We made it to the quieter streets of Central Park where there are few cars and actual bike paths. We rode the ENTIRE park which is a 6 mile loop and did it twice! It was a beautiful day outside- sunny and low humidity! 
Hey Mom!
Taking a quick pit stop for a drink
I've been to Central Park several times, but I've never seen the entirety because it is so huge! Usually I visit the south end of the park and don't make it all the way to the top. Here are some places we saw along the way...
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. It was beautiful and had a really nice running/walking path around it. 
Lasker Pool. This was a shot taken while zooming down a hill. This pool was huge! I just found out that it becomes an ice skating rink in the winter time. COOL! Anybody want to go ice skating this winter?
I saw a Kentuckian wearing no shoes riding a bike...wonder who that was?! Any ideas? 
The Great Lawn

I saw lots of other places including ball parks, the Loeb Boathouse, and  the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Next up: DINNER! 

So we were planning to eat at Serendipity 3 because we heard it has the best ice cream and is also famous in NYC. Unfortunately, when we arrived the host told us it would be an 1 1/2-2 hour wait. Boo, so we had to find somewhere else to eat. 

We spotted an Irish Pub walking around and checked it out. Once we stepped inside we discovered that it was called Pig 'n' Whistle, how cool is that! 

It was a looong fun-filled day, drinks to end the day!

Considering the name of the restaurant, some of the workers were wearing pig shirts that said "Pig on 3rd" (street it was located on). We asked ourselves, hmmm I wonder if they sell those shirts. The waiter said they do and yes of course I just had to get one! I personally thought it was really cute and I'm ready to wear it! 

After dinner we headed back to Grand Central for a train ride back home. It was a GREAT day with Mom in NYC! 

On another note, I started using a photo editing program so I used that on some of the photos, that's why some may not look "normal." Do the pictures look ok?

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Side Project - I Wanna Dance With Somebody

The other day during a class at the gym, this song was played. I had to look it up because I thought it was a really pretty version of Whitney Houston's original song. 

First 5K in CT = Signed Up!

My Mom and I have been looking for a race to run this summer in CT. There definitely aren't as many races here compared to Louisville during the summer. It's been awhile since my Mom and I have run a race together. I believe that last one we ran together was the Louisville Mini-Marathon in April 2009. It's been way too long, so I'm excited to run this race with her in August! We were just talking the other day about races we have run and we couldn't count how many there are. My Mom ran all three mini-marathons with me while I was in high school and probably have run another 10 races together ranging from 5Ks to 10-milers. She was the person that got me into running! Thanks Mom! We also thought that we should have saved our race shirts to make a quilt, oh well. Should we start now?

Anyways, the race we are running is called MADD Dash 5K in Stratford, CT (which is around 45 minutes away). It is along Short Beach; I've never run by a beach. This should be exciting! The race is August 18th at 9 am. Less than a month away. I've been running  3-4 times a week (plus doing other workouts the rest of the week). So I will be ready for this race. It may not be very quick, but I know I will be able to complete it. Hopefully I can reach my goal of 3 miles in 27 minutes? We shall see! 

I'm glad this race is for a good cause too! It feels go knowing the money you paid for the race is going somewhere useful. MADD is Mother's Against Drunk Driving, fyi. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Black Diamond Death

I finished reading Black Diamond Death by Cheryl Bradshaw. This is the first book of the Sloane Monroe Series. (There are three books in the series). I thought the book was good, but not great.  No Turning Back and Turn to Me were better books because they had a lot more action in them. I plan on reading the next two books in the Sloane Monroe Series though, maybe the next two will be more intense!

From Amazon:

Black Diamond Death Description: Sloane Monroe Series: Book 1

Enter the world of Sloane Monroe in Black Diamond Death...
On the slopes of Park City, Utah’s newest ski resort a woman is found dead. At first glance, it has all the makings of an accident. The victim, Charlotte Halliwell, collided with a tree as she schussed her way to the bottom of the hill. But what if her death wasn’t an accident at all––what if she was murdered?
In Black Diamond Death, Audrey Halliwell faces a problem: finding someone who believes her story.

Enter Private Investigator Sloane Monroe.
When Audrey marches into Sloane’s office with claims her sister’s death was no accident Sloane is skeptical at first, but agrees to take the case. With little to go on, she questions the people in Charlotte’s life and discovers Parker Stanton, a jilted ex-fiancé with plenty to hide, and as the son of a prominent businessman, he will go to any lengths to protect his secrets.

Just as Sloane feels she's close to solving the case she stumbles on another dead body and is forced to re-examine the clues from the beginning, but she must tread lightly. With the killer aware that Sloane will stop at nothing to find him, her life is in danger and her every move is being tracked. Will Sloane uncover the truth before he strikes again?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sweet Roasted Chickpeas

For a long time I've wanted to make roasted chickpeas because I found a recipe on  Pinterest. There are many different ways to make roasted chickpeas but I made a sweeter version today. I only used one can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) because I tried this new recipe just in case something went wrong. I experimented with this batch because I couldn't make up my mind on which spices to use. Below is a recipe that I found worked well. They tasted yummy and my parents thought so too!
1 (15 ounce can) chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Drain the garbanzo beans and rinse them under cold water until starch is removed. Place chickpeas on a paper towel to dry. You can peel of the skins if you wish.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, cinnamon, and sugar. Place chickpeas in bowl and stir until all of the chickpeas are evenly coated. Spread out the chickpeas on a large baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, or until chickpeas are crunchy and no longer soft in the middle.
4.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Note: This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

"Sweet Roasted Chickpeas make a great healthy snack. They are simple to make and will remind you of your favorite roasted cinnamon nuts. They also make a great gift during the holiday season." -Adapted from the blog: Two Peas and Their Pod

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

First Trip to Vermont

This is one of the first things I saw when we hit the Vermont border.....
From Google

And no....unfortunately we didn't see any moose! (They say if you do it's bad, because most likely you are about to hit one!) Anyways, my Dad had a business trip to Burlington, Vermont and he wanted me to be his "chauffeur" so he could work in the car while I drove. It was a 4 1/2 hour drive. Let me just say..middle of nowhere = boring drive. The mommy duck and her babies crossing the interstate was quite entertaining though! I'm glad that he asked me to go with him! Yesterday we left really early in the morning and arrived around lunch time. Dad and I went out to lunch and then we went our separate ways. I did a little research before we left so I had an idea of what I wanted to do. First, I wanted to visit Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory. I started walking because it was supposedly a short distance away, but I ended up turning around because the neighborhood seemed a little sketchy. Better safe then sorry! Afterwards, I walked up to Battery Park, which was only 5 minutes from our hotel. Let's just say I was little underwhelmed. I was expecting this huge park. It was very quaint and I'm sure it would have seemed nicer on a sunny day. 
View of Champlain Lake from Battery Park 
Since that took a whole 5 minutes I went to Church Street Marketplace which was a really nice place! Lots of shops and restaurants. I went into quite a few. Some chain stores, but the majority were local boutiques and shops. I had fun! Marketplace picture below,

The only things I bought: (Yes I was being a tourist) I got deer jerky for Chris, sample of Champlain Chocolates for Mom, and a few postcards to send to family members. 

After doing some shopping I went back to the hotel to cool off for a little bit. 
View from the hotel
 This is my excited-to-be-in-Vermont-face!
I grabbed a book and headed down to the water to find a bench to sit. I wanted to take in all of Vermont's beauty (cheesy, I know)! It was nice down by the water with lots of flowers and a walking path. While I was sitting there it was getting really cloudy and I saw some lightening. At that point I returned to the hotel. I think read like 5 pages?
Dock at Lake Champlain. According to wikipedia it is the 13th largest Lake in the US. It's big!

My Dad and I hung out at the hotel before dinner. He went out with some work people and I went back to Church Street and found a bagel shop to eat dinner. It was quite good! Once again, it started storming so I went back to the hotel room. Around 9 Dad and I went out for a drink to conclude the night. 

We left early the next morning after having breakfast in the hotel. We arrived back home around lunch time. 

In case you didn't know, below is what the state of Vermont looks like. Don't worry, I didn't know much about Vermont until I knew I was going to visit. Burlington is in the northeast. I believe it's the largest city in VT. 
 From Google

I had a fun (quick) trip and I can now say that I have been to Vermont! It is a quiet state with not much happening. They are known for skiing and outdoorsy sports (which I don't do too much of). Seeing all the mountains on the drive was quite a sight and very beautiful. Thanks for reading about my trip! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Praying the Rosary

One thing that I wanted to accomplish this summer was memorize the Rosary. I've prayed the Rosary numerous times, but I've always had someone else lead or a need a paper to follow (mainly for the names of the mysteries). So to help me out with that I thought I would blog about it! 

Earlier I had this post about the Rosary as well, that gives a better idea of the Rosary overall. 

There are twenty mysteries which are divided into four: 
1. Joyful Mysteries:
  • The Annunciation
  • The Visitation
  • The Nativity
  • The Presentation
  •  The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
2. Luminous Mysteries:
  • The Baptism of the Lord
  • The Wedding of Cana
  • The Proclamation of the Kingdom
  • The Transfiguration
  • The Institution of the Eucharist
3. Sorrowful Mysteries
  • The Agony in the Garden
  • The Scourging at the Pillar
  • The Crowning with Thrones
  • The Carrying of the Cross 
  • The Crucifixion
4. Glorious Mysteries 
  • The Resurrection
  • The Ascension
  • The Decent of the Holy Spirit
  • The Assumption
  • The Coronation
As suggested by the Pope John Paul II the Joyful mysteries are said on Monday and Saturday, the Luminous on Thursday, the Sorrowful on Tuesday and Friday, and the Glorious on Wednesday and Sunday (with this exception: Sundays of Christmas season - The Joyful; Sundays of Lent - Sorrowful)

Steps to praying the Rosary:
  1. Make the Sign of the Cross and say the Apostles' Creed
  2. Say the Our Father
  3. Say three Hail Marys
  4. Say the Glory be to the Father 
  5. Announce the First Mystery; then say the Our Father 
  6. Say ten Hail Marys while meditating on the Mystery.
  7. Say the Glory be to the Father 
  8. Say the Fatima Prayer 
  9. Announce the Second Mystery; then say the Our Father. Repeat 6, 7, 8, and continue with Third, Fourth and Fifth Mysteries in the same manner.
Apostle's CreedI believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He arose again; He ascended into heaven,and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen
Our FatherOur Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name: Thy kingdom come: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread: and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation: but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hail MaryHail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen
Glory BeGlory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Fatima Prayer"O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Your Mercy". 

Information from this website and this website

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Kelly Clarkson - Dark Side

I like this new song of Kelly Clarkson's!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blueberry Picking + Blueberry Muffins

This afternoon Mom, Chris, and I went to March Farms in Bethlehem, CT to pick blueberries. We picked some a couple years ago, but hadn't been back since. It was a success and we got around 5 pounds of blueberries. 

What to do with all them all? Bake something of course! I found "healthier" Banana Blueberry Muffin recipe from Eating Well

3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 canola oil
2 large eggs 
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 1/2 medium)
1 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (fresh is better of course :) ) 


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners. 2. Whisk buttermilk, brown sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in mashed bananas.
  2. Whisk whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
  3. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in blueberries. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups (they will be full).
  4. Bake until the tops are golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and let cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes more before serving.
  5. Makes around 15 muffins. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

First Week of July

This past week has been quite exciting! It was fun-filled and went so fast! Here is what went on...

Monday: Mom and I went to Jennings Beach in Fairfield, CT. It was a perfect day for the beach! Sunny with a few clouds and low humidity. Luckily I didn't get sun burnt.

Tuesday: Today was the day The View was going to be televised, the episode I saw live in NYC. I watched it, but unfortunately I didn't see myself! It was a little disappointing, oh well. It was funny how I missed a lot of the things they said live on the show when I was there.
Tuesday afternoon I picked up my boyfriend, Kevin, in New Haven from the train station. Afterwards we headed to Yale University for a guided tour. It was my third time going on the tour, but I enjoy it and I always learn something new. After the tour we went home. Later that night we watched the movie Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock).

Wednesday: HAPPY 4th of JULY! Kevin and I spent the whole day in Boston! Nick joined us as well. Since Kevin had never been to Boston of course we had to do the Freedom Trail. (If you never been to Boston, it highlights the important things in history). Before we started we went to Cheers Boston where they supposedly filmed the TV show. Then it was off to the Freedom Trail. Seeing all the highlights such as King's Chapel, Site of Boston Massacre, Old North Church, Paul Revere's House, and Bunker Hill. Along the way Kevin gave me lots of history lessons, I'm no expert yet though! For dinner we stopped outside that said "Oldest Tavern" called Bell in Hand. I ordered Crab Cakes and it was quite tasty. Afterwards we walked to where the Boston Tea Party occurred, which I had never seen before. We got there too late, so the museum was no longer open. We made our way back to Boston Commons and hung out there for a little while. It was really busy in Boston being the summer AND the 4th. We decided not to stay for the fireworks and headed home. I'd say it was a great day :)

Boston Commons
Thursday: Day in NYC! Kevin had never been to the city either, so we hit the highlights. We first went all the way down south to Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty across the water. After we went to Central Park and went on the row boats in The Lake by the Boathouse. I always love doing that! I must say I have improved since last time I did that, but still need some more practice. Then we walked to Times Square and Rockefeller Plaza. We also saw St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Empire State building. We ate dinner outside in Rockefeller Plaza. After dinner we went back to Central Park. While we were there, we saw some action go down! There was a man tackling another man and 7 cops showed up! It was crazy. It didn't seem like that big of a deal so I'm not really sure why there were so many police officers. It was quite entertaining. After spending some time in the park we went back to grab some Junior's cheesecake before heading home. Another great day!

Central Park
Rockefeller Center
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Friday: Took Kevin back to the train station in New Haven and I took it easy the rest of the day. 

Saturday: Rest after an action packed week (plus working out, taking a nap, studying the GRE, and reading...some usuals). 

The week went way too fast, but I enjoyed every minute of it! It's so nice to be able to travel to awesome places so often. 

Monday, July 2, 2012


Yesterday Dad, Mom, Bailey, and I went hiking! First time of the summer and it was fun! Nick and Chris both left so it was just the four of us. We went to Southford Falls. We had never been here before and it was really nice. We went around a 1.5 mile loop. It was a little hilly, but not bad. There were several people along the path as well.  

Bailey is ready for a hike!
Hide and Seek: Can you find Bailey?
The Falls. Pretty, but anti-climatic 
In front of the covered-bridge. Check out Bailey's tongue!
Bailey got quite thirsty.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer Goals Revisited

Happy July! Since Summer is halfway over I thought I would update you on what I wanted to accomplish this summer. 

1. Make at least one recipe out of the Spanish cookbook (I bought in Spain)
I haven't done this yet. I actually haven't even opened up the book yet to pick out a recipe. But I still have a month and a half. I'm sure there will be an entire post about what I make.

2. Run 3 miles in 27 minutes. 
At the beginning of the summer my baseline was 31:43. My quickest so far has been 30:00. I'm making progress but I'm not sure if I will be at 27 minutes by the end of the summer. My Mom and I want to run a 5K by the end of the summer so who knows, I may be able to reach it!

3. Read 5 books
I have read 6 books already and it's only the beginning of July! I have read:
An Invisible Thread
On the Island
Fireflies in December
No Turning Back
No Turn Back
Heaven is for Real

4. Be able to do 25 normal girl push-ups in a row
I'm up to 20, woohoo! My baseline was 10 so I've made progress.

5. Study for the GRE and do amazing on it!
I've been studying a little bit. I need to make a schedule and stick to it. I had a family member give me some tips and told me which books to buy. I will be taking it in August. 

6. Scrapbook at least 10 pages, including Spain from last summer.
So far I have done 6 pages and 1 of them is Spain. I still have time to do more. 

7. Practice my Spanish at least 2 hours a week (through livemocha.com)
I have practiced a little bit, but it has been sporadic. I have some friends going to Spain in July so I hope to Skype them and practice.

8. Complete the Hilltoppers for Life blog
I started it and have made a few posts, but it needs major work.

9. Catch up on what is happening on Grey's Anatomy.
This hasn't happened whatsoever. I don't like how hulu and the ABC site doesn't have all the episodes. So you have to go on shady websites and download episodes. Not a fan of that...

10. Take Bailey on at least 3 hikes.
Hasn't happened yet. We have discussed going but our plans have fallen through. We will eventually go!

11. Memorize the entire Rosary 
Not much happening here either. I have been praying the Divine Mercy more often, which I didn't know many of the words, but I'm getting there.

12. Get some sun, aka at least get some freckles back! 
I have not yet been to the beach! boo. But soon, very soon! I'm also going to Florida at the beginning of August so I will most likely get the majority of my sun there. 

13. Spend some quality time with my family...in any kind of way.
Yes! Lots of it. 

14. Send postcards to friends when I travel.
I've sent two...I should probably send more!

15. Continue to blog, can I make a goal of at least 15 posts/month? 
I believe this is true.