Fall in New England

This year I’ve really been taking advantage of the awesomeness that is fall in New England. The perfect weather, gorgeous leaves and seasonal events *almost* make up for the bitterly cold winter we’re headed towards.

fallThere has been apple picking, wine drinking, pumpkin festivals, and a beautiful 5k run (I set a PR!). There were three birthday celebrations for people I love, sunshiny afternoon walks, Seahawk Sundays, and a shopping date in New Hampshire. Plus, I spent a day with my grandparents in Connecticut–Gram and I crossed a few things off the wedding to-do list. 🙂

fall 2Oh man has it been a good season. So fun and so festive!

I’m really looking forward to the holidays this year too. Derek and I plan to cook our own little Thanksgiving day feast and then meet up with friends for football that evening. And we’re roadtripping with Gram and Gramps to visit Aunty Sharon and Uncle B for Christmas. There will be lots of eating, drinking and laughing. I can’t wait!

A Beautiful Weekend

Friday, after work, I drove to New Hampshire to see my honey. He had dinner–and dessert–ready when I arrived. We ate our meal, watched part of a movie and went to bed early (which gave us plenty of cuddle time).

Saturday, Derek took me shopping at the outlet mall and then we went to a Welcome Back Picnic for his department. I endured lots of history talk and met several of his professors and colleagues. We ended the night with delicious beer and sweet potato fries at my new favorite restaurant in Portsmouth.

Today, I left him earlier than usual to meet Laurie in Worcester for stART on the Street. We walked in the sun, checking out all sorts of handmade lovelies.

And now, after grocery shopping and laundry, I’m sitting down to eat my dinner and watch Sex & the City.

It has been a perfect weekend.

No Coat Friday

Last week, I had to brush eight inches of snow off my car. Today, it’s sunshiny and warm(er). I didn’t even wear a coat to work. And it’s forecasted to be in the 80s on Monday. I think I’m fairly adjusted to living on the East coast (I mean, I drove around in Manhattan, navigated the subway system in Boston and I own a snow brush, a snow shovel and rain boots) but this weather is just nutty. At least in Seattle, I knew what to expect: rain.

I don’t know what your weather is like today, but I hope you all have a great weekend planned. A few things I’m looking forward to this weekend:

  • Calling my mom. It’s been a little while since we talked last.
  • Cuddling with Derek- I’m driving to NH after work tonight. Woohoo!
  • Getting a real mattress/boxspring/frame bed of my own! Two and a half months of sleeping on an air mattress is plenty.

Much Love,

A

p.s. We just had a fire alarm go off at work. That was fun.

Belated Weekend Recap

Last weekend was wonderful and fabulous and perfect. I can’t believe I forgot to write about it. Hey- it’s not just my fault, you didn’t ask…

Saturday morning started with a trip to the post office. Mom sent me a Valentine’s care package complete with chocolate (!) and Tillamook cheese (!!). Then I drove to Boston to meet up with Katie and her friends Sarah and Kari. We took a train into the downtown area and had a delicious lunch at the first open restaurant we could find (ladies were hungry). After that we did a little walking, a little shopping and indulged in girl talk.

The best part of the little trip, though, was the dueling piano bar we went to for dinner, drinks and dancing. I ended up leaving fairly early in the night, but even the few hours I was there, I had a blast. Katie and I got there right as the place opened for the night so we had the best seat in the house. There were some good drink specials and the pianists were awesome. Seriously, so good. I definitely want to go back again soon.

Have I told you lately that I love Boston? Well I do. And this little trip only made me want to visit more often. It’s only 40 minutes from my house! That’s not far at all.

Anyways… the reason I left the piano bar early was because I was driving to NH to see Derek. I got in around 10pm and you know what Derek did? He baked cookies for my arrival! Sometimes he’s just so sweet. We cuddled on the couch until I fell asleep (which probably wasn’t long).

On Sunday, we spent the whole day together. We shopped; I was looking for a table to put in my entry way (no luck). We ate; He took me to Redhook for a little date. And we watched a movie; Salt- I fell asleep before it was over.

I was a happy happy girl as I went to bed, content with my perfect weekend. At least until my alarm went off at 5am Monday morning and I realized I would have to spend five days at work until I could have another amazing weekend. But that’s life.

Until next time,

A

What’s Cooking: Stuffed Peppers

Last week while visiting Derek in New Hampshire, I made us vegetarian stuffed peppers. I don’t remember ever having stuffed peppers before so the experience was new to me. The recipe I chose cooked in a crock-pot so I borrowed one from my Aunt and hauled it up to Derek’s apartment specifically for this recipe. I guess the peppers weren’t quite soft enough (we were hungry so we took them out at the earliest part of the cooking range) but the filling was pretty yummy. And they smelled great while cooking.

The thing with this recipe, though, is that it’s not a fast meal. Cook time is several hours so plan accordingly if you want to give them a try.

My proportions will make four peppers. I thought that would mean four servings but they were so big I could only eat half so we ended up with a lot leftover.

Shopping List

4 large green peppers
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2  small sweet onion, chopped
1/3 cup canned red beans, rinsed and drained (or black beans) (or both)
1/2 cup cubed Monterey Jack cheese
4 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup meatless spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup water
Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

I started by cooking the rice in a rice cooker. While that was doing it’s thing, I chopped the tomatoes and onion, thawed and measured the corn and measured out the beans. I stirred this stuff together in a big bowl and set aside until the rice was done. I made a separate bowl with the cheese, basil, garlic, salt and pepper and also set that aside. Lastly, I cut the top off the peppers and de-seeded them so they would be ready for filling.

When the rice was finished, combine it with the veggies and seasonings. Prepare the crock pot by pouring some of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom and adding a little water. Then fill each pepper and set in the pot. Top with more sauce and then add a little Parmesan.

Cook on low for 3-4 hours (we pulled ours out at about 3 hours and 15 minutes and they probably would have been better if we waited another 30 minutes). You’ll end up with something like this:

I’d say my 1st attempt with stuffed peppers was a success, even though they should have cooked a little longer. Derek and I both enjoyed them and it’s an easy mistake to correct next time. Enjoy!

Finding My Way

When I first got to Connecticut, I was a little concerned about getting around. The freeway system is much more twisted and complicated than what I dealt with in Washington and Oregon. And it’s easy to make a mistake and end up in a different state (a problem that was foreign to me). But, my friends, I’m getting the hang of it.

Recent Accomplishments:

  • Last week I drove from Aunt & Uncle’s house in Connecticut to an interview in Rhode Island and then to Derek’s house in New Hampshire- without GPS. Just my sense of direction and some scribbled notes from Google directions.
  • Today I navigated from Derek’s back to my Aunt & Uncle’s without notes. I just knew where to go!

And I also recently received my own Easy Pass tag to breeze through tolls like I’m a native New Englander.

Small steps, yes. But steps nonetheless. I’m getting accustomed to my new surroundings- starting to settle in. I’m no longer perpetually lost and it feels great.

My Man is 31!

Yesterday was Derek’s birthday. He’s not much a birthday-celebrator, but we managed to have quite a nice day anyways. We started the day on campus (he had a few meetings) and then went shopping (he did- not me!). I helped pick out some very sharp “professor” clothes at great prices (coat sale at Old Navy= crazy good deals). Then we took a wonderfully long nap, I made him pad thai and birthday brownies and around 8:30 we met up with some of his phD classmates for a pub crawl.

I put the candles in before the brownies had cooled and they sort of melted 😦

In preparation of his upcoming birthday, I spent a day last week with my Grandma making Derek’s birthday presents. I did such a great job of keeping them a secret- until I got to NH. I caved and gave them to him on Wednesday.

birthday blanket

birthday pillow

Grandma and I had some extra fabric, and we were feeling silly after a day of crafting, so we ended up making a sleeping bag and pillow for Herbert too. They both love their gifts.

I think it was a pretty perfect day for both of us. I enjoyed getting to know some of his new friends without the pressure of a Wild West murder mystery. I think they are very nice and I know Derek felt special having a group celebrate his special day. And I got to have a night out in Dover.

We followed a great day with a lazy morning, crepes for lunch and now he’s catching up on the reading he ignored yesterday while I watch Sex and the City. Another lovely day. The weekend could only be better if you all were here to celebrate with us.

Miss you,

A

What’s Cooking: Acorn Squash Shepard’s Pie and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

When Derek was in Connecticut with me last weekend, we bought an acorn squash. But he never got around to cooking it for me. With no prior experience with acorn squash, I had no clue how to prepare it and so it sat untouched until this morning when I packed it up and brought it with me to New Hampshire.

While I waiting for Derek to get home from school, I looked up ways to prepare the squash and when I saw these easy directions for mashing the cooked squash, I was inspired to try a new take on an old favorite from my school days: Shepard’s Pie.

My mom used to layer ground beef, canned corn and mashed potatoes into a casserole dish and bake them all together. I just substituted acorn squash mash for the potatoes and soy protein crumbles for the beef.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous that it would be awful (since I have no experience with acorn squash) so I let Derek try it first. When he kept eating, I tried it too. And I have to say it was pretty good. At least a 7 out of 10.  Next time I’ll mix squash and potato for a creamier topping and sprinkle with cheese.

Shopping List

1 acorn squash
a big scoop of sour cream
a few pinches of ground cumin
a clove or two of chopped garlic
salt and black pepper to taste
veggie crumbles (or protein of choice)
1 can of corn

Slice and seed the acorn squash and then bake with olive oil until the flesh is soft and scoop-able (30-45 minutes depending on your squash size).

When it’s done, scoop out the flesh and mix with sour cream, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper.

Warm the protein on the stove top for few minutes- while you do this pre-heat the oven to 350ish degrees.

Once the crumbles are warm (they don’t need to be hot since you’re going to bake it), spread them in a casserole dish. Layer with corn and then add the squash mix on top.

Bake for 15-20 until it all looks warm and the squash starts browning a little.

Plate and eat. We added a bit more sour cream and like I said above, cheese would be good too. Yum.

And for dessert… pumpkin chocolate chip cookies! I made these last time Derek was in Connecticut for my aunt’s pumpkin carving party. I loved them so much I decided to make some more. Plus I needed something to do tonight since Derek has a bunch of reading to do. These are super easy and super delicious. Try them right away.

Shopping List (adapted from this recipe)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 can (8 oz) of pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

This recipe makes about 18 cookies, but you double the batch easily to make more.

Mix the dry ingredients. Add the wets. Stir in chocolate chips.

Plop in rows onto a greased cookie sheet. And bake for 12-14 minutes at 375.

Sooo good! I give them 10 out of 10.

We were both happy and full after this meal/dessert combo. Here’s proof:

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Fajitas

I identify as a bit of foodie. To indulge that passion, I’m going to share some of my culinary attempts here on my blog. Since I’m a vegetarian, you won’t find any meat, poultry, seafood or gelatin in any of my meals, but don’t let that stop you from giving them a try (you can always add animal protein if you absolutely can’t live without it).

So without further introduction…  Here’s installment 1 of What’s Cooking Wednesday:

Fajitas!

Derek and I make fajitas often, probably once or twice a month. They’re delicious, easy and filling. We use a meat alternative instead of chicken. In Washington it was usually a soy product from Morningstar Farms. Tonight we tried a mycoprotein (comes from fungi) made by Quorn. Both good- I actually couldn’t taste a difference.

Start by warming some oil in a pan and then tossing in some fake chicken. I think it tastes better if you add some fajita seasoning (we buy a little packet and use it for two or three meals). But we forgot to pick some up so we improvised with chipotle tabasco, water and a little salsa.

Slice a couple peppers- green, red, orange, yellow, what you feel like- and add them to the pan after a few minutes.

(For a two person serving I recommend one and a half peppers and half the bag of chicken substitute)

Cook til everything is warm and the peppers are soft.

Layer on a tortilla with sour cream, cheese and salsa if you like.

Eat and be amazed at how quickly you made this tasty dish.

Fajita Night can be made even more enjoyable if a delicious dessert follows the meal:

Weekend in Review

I live on the East Coast now! It’s crazy- definitely hasn’t sunk in yet. I feel like I’m on vacation. And I guess I kind of am for the next two weeks: this week- exploring New Hampshire and helping D settle into his apartment; next week- chasing gas balloons from Albuquerque with Katie & Adam. But first, let me fill you in on the last day of the trip and the weekend.

On Friday Grandpa and I left the hotel by 7:30 and drove the remaining 290 miles from New Columbia, PA to South Windsor, CT. A little bit of traffic and some construction work slowed us down a little, but we arrived at G’pa’s home by noon. We were met by my lovely Grandma and their two pups, Sammy and Sadie. They are golden-doodles. And even though they are still puppies, I was wrong in thinking they would be little. They’re so tall! (I didn’t get a picture, sorry, but I will next time I see them). G’ma had an appointment at the hair salon, so she had to run. I napped on the couch for a bit while G’pa unpacked. After Grandma returned home, she showed me her latest sewing projects and newest fabrics (she pretty much has a fabric store downstairs).

 

my newhome- so cute!

 

Uncle B was in the area so he came over and I followed him 39 miles to my new home in Woodstock, CT. That puts the total mileage for the trip to 3210 (!!). And it definitely felt that long, too. But all in all, it was a nice trip. I can’t remember a time, ever, when my Gramps and I had the opportunity to spend that much time together. And aside from the incorrect GPS mileage, there really weren’t any problems.

Derek drove to my Aunt and Uncle’s house Friday night- got in around 6:30- and the four of us joined Uncle B’s daughter for Mexican food down the street. It was a nice meal and it was SO good to see Derek, I missed him a little. 🙂

Saturday, my Aunt and Uncle went to the UConn football game. D and I watched their babies (see photos below), did some laundry, napped and ran some errands. It was a gorgeous day, in the high 80s and just windy enough to make the autumn-colored leaves dance on the country roads. I was all smiles.

 

Rennie!

 

 

Otis!

 

And then Sunday was my Grandma’s 70th birthday. Aunty Sharon planned a surprise brunch for her, so family and friends gathered to celebrate at one of her favorite restaurants. The surprise aspect worked until my Grandpa couldn’t find our table at the restaurant and we ended up having to shout “Happy Birthday!” to get their attention and keep them from wandering aimlessly. The food was good and the company was great. There was plenty of laughing and story-telling.

After brunch, we went home. I finished unpacking my clothes, only to immediately re-pack for the next two weeks. Since the weather was warm my first two days, but rain and cooler temperatures are expected and I don’t know where the balloon chase will take me, I had a tough time choosing what clothes to bring. I packed at least half my closet- I’ll have to leave a lot of in Hew Hampshire with Derek while I’m gone but at least I should be able to find something for any forecast. 🙂

We got to his apartment yesterday evening, after picking up some groceries to make dinner. He had a lot of reading to do for class today, so I watched a movie by myself and we both ended up falling asleep before 11. His apartment is almost perfect- the kitchen and bathroom are a little small, but his living room and bedroom are quite large. It needs some decorations (that’s where I come in) but he did a great job picking it out. And the neighborhood is cute; it reminds me of where I lived in Eugene.

He has a long day on campus today, so I did a little walking around this morning. And I’m currently sitting at a nearby coffee shop because he doesn’t have internet yet. It’s drizzly outside, though, so I won’t do as much exploring as I planned. Tonight or tomorrow, we’re going shopping for apartment stuff and costumes for a Wild West themed murder mystery party we were invited to this weekend. Wednesday he has a short school day, so I’m gonna go with him to campus to check it out. Thursday and Friday, we’ll explore and cook and watch movies and just enjoy each other. I think it’s going to be a great week.

And then a week from today I’m headed to New Mexico for a Balloon Adventure- more on that next time.

Missing you all but loving my new life so far,

A

Choose a Topic

Give me your email and I'll make sure you know any time there is a new post.

Join 146 other followers