So, yesterday was my birthday, and I thought it would be fun to do a “few of my favorite things” post. I have a lot of favorite things, but the more I thought about it the less I wanted to talk about material possessions. I thought about my true favorite things and my favorite parts of yesterday, this past year, and my life as a whole. Realizing I’ve been alive for a quarter of a century is a little surreal and gave me time to contemplate what I’ve found to be important. Warning: this will get a little sappy. Here are a few of my favorite things:
1. Quality time with my friends and family.
Whether it is an evening hanging out with my husband or watching Bachelor in Paradise with my friends, a weekend with my parents or extended family, my wedding and seeing a lot of Adam and I’s friends and family in one place, the skype chats with my close friends from graduate school, or a phone call from my high school friends, they all mean so much to me. Quality time is my number one love language and I’ve found that I really cherish the company of others. I hope I can get better at reaching out on my own to keep better communication with all of my family and friends, but I'm grateful for the talks that I have and have had.
Yesterday my sweet friends decorated my office, a coworker bought me my first maple bacon donut, and I had so many kind and thoughtful messages from texts and social media that made me realize how lucky I am to have so many great people in my life. No one had to message me or get me anything, but they all thought about me enough to reach out and it meant a lot.
3. My sweet pets.
4. My faith.
Something that constantly helps me push through good and bad days is my faith. My faith that rough times will pass. My faith that I am growing and learning every day and that I am not who I used to be and that is ok. My faith in God and his plan. My faith that giving back to our community and to others is a worthy investment of time. My faith in that you reap what you sow, and that the work we put in today will reflect in what happens in the future (for most things).
The past 3 years have shown me a lot about myself. Some of it my own, but I’ve always known I could be a strong person. Mostly it is the strength in others. Learning to rely on my peers, my team members, my supervisees, my supervisors, my friends, and my family’s strength. I heard in a presentation recently that a bad team member or supervisor can sometimes have the “superhero” complex that they have to do everything on their own for it to be done right, and that it is faster to get it done than to teach others. It is a toxic mindset that does not allow growth for others, but also puts a lot of pressure on an individual. It is a mindset I used to live in. I’ve found that I work with and have worked with incredibly talented and capable people who are valuable and can contribute if they are given the autonomy to. It is one of my favorite things. I’ve learned to see the strengths in others and to trust them and rely on them, and hope that they also know they can rely on me.
Here we area gain catching up on the past few weeks of Ace's life! I had a small typo as it will actually be the weeks 14-17 since we have already talked about week 13. If you are raising a corgi pup or maybe just love dogs in general I hope this is a fun and helpful read.
Age: 14 Weeks Old
Ace has really adjusted to us at this point and is becoming very open. We noticed that he only barks when he wants attention whether that be from us, strangers walking by, or other dogs. We had our first visit to the Three Dog Bakery and he had a blast! He loved all the fun smells, and we got him a new harness, collar, and adorable OSU bow-tie. At this point Ace is 95% bell trained. He rings the bell whenever he wants to go outside and has not had any accidents. Sometimes he even takes naps by his potty bell so he can ring it when he wakes up. Ace had another round of shots and another de-wormer, but we are on the right track. Ace can consistently sit and is better at "down" or "lie down". He weight about 10lbs at the vet's office so he has almost doubled in size since the first week we had him (wow!) and his coat has thickened out into a beautiful and shiny black.
Age: 15 Weeks Old
We started off this week with Ace's first day of obedience school! We went to K-9 Kinetics in Stillwater, OK and Ace did pretty well. He was not the only pup there, there were about 8 dogs and 16 people in total. We were very proud because for the first time Ace was surrounded by dogs and people in close proximity but he did not bark at anyone! He really showed us how well he can "lie down" and even learned how to get on and off of objects. There were several other things covered in the class, but these were some fun ones he really started to master. We went to the Three Dog Bakery again as a reward which was great! Ace has been having a lot of energy in the evenings when we get home from work so we've started to be more intentional with play time and taking longer walks. It has really shown because he is back to sleeping almost all the way through the night.
Age: 16 Weeks Old
Ace had his second week of school this week and he worked on "drop it", "leave it", and "bed". He is doing really well with his training and seems to have a lot of fun doing it. Adam and I have started waking up earlier to take Ace on a 20-30 minute walk every morning and it has helped Ace and us alike. We feel more active and motivated but it also gives Ace a chance to stretch his legs and run out some energy. He also has slept through the night every single night since we started doing it and I think it is because we wake up earlier so he is not waiting quite as long (who knew 30 minutes would be the difference). Instead of using treats for all of our training we've started taking some of his dinner and using the pieces as treats to do training before feeding him the rest, that way he is not overdoing the calories. We also have started trying different bones to help with his chewing habits. We are steering clear of raw hide for now but have been trying some natural fruit and meat bones. He chews through them really quickly but when he gets restless they can really make a difference! During week 16 we also took Ace on his first stay at a hotel. The power went out in our apartment for about 7 hours so at 9pm we decided to get a hotel for the night. Ace did not respond to it well at first, but after about a half hour in his crate he adjusted and went back to sleep. The new bones really helped with this.
Age: 17 Weeks Old
While school was canceled for this week it did not stop us from learning many new tricks! We worked on "be sad", coming when called (even in busy places), and "heel"-ing. He has this really cute habit of sitting with Adam and I in the restroom whether it is to go or to take a shower. It feels like he is guarding us but I think it is just because he likes to be around us. We did have to discontinue giving Ace rope toys because he chews them to the point of eating them and they are rough on his stomach, but he does really well with rubber toys. His favorite game is still tug of war or "chase" with the cat. We switched up his diet (the slow integrating way) to the Hills Scientific Puppy formula and his bathroom breaks have become more consistent. We went in to the vet for more hook worm medication and to get Ace's weight and he is up to almost 14 pounds! He has over doubled in size and is now half the size he will be in less than a year. We are shocked our sweet pup has grown so much but he still has quite a bit more to go. Stay tuned for more updates next month!
Classic Country Rum Cake
Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake (Serves 1)
Ingredients (1 Serving):
¼ can Pumpkin Puree (no added sugar)
¼ Cup Vanilla Yogurt
½ Scoop Vanilla Whey Protein Powder (I have Sprouts’ Brand)
¾ Frozen Sliced Banana (or 1 cup ice)
1 Cup Coffee or Milk of Choice
1 tsp Pumpkin Ppice
(Some pumpkin spice to sprinkle on top for aesthetic)
(If needed, add additional ice for thicker consistency)
Add it all to a blender and blend on high until smooth. It helps to put the liquids and powder in first, the pumpkin puree and yogurt second, then adding the pumpkin spice and frozen banana last.
This past weekend I went out for a friend’s birthday and it was a blast! I have been to Bricktown in OKC a few times but have never truly explored Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. My first trip to the Outlet malls was just a few weeks ago, so Saturday night in Downtown OKC was a real treat. If you are ever wanting to get out and go to the city, or maybe you are in Oklahoma City visiting friends/family or on business and need tips on cool places to stop by, check out the list below!
1. Empire Pizza
We started our night out at Empire Pizza, a truly magical place. I ordered a slice of the Figgy Stardust, a delicious combo of Basil & almond pesto, marinated mozzarella, roasted chicken, baked ham, and figs. My friend ordered the Fat Tony, a slice including Ricotta, house Italian sausage, and red onion. We both concurred that the pizza was amazing, the environment was fun, and while it was pretty crowded because we came before the main festivities as just a party of two we were able to snag a table immediately.
The Bleu Garten is a beer garden that is outdoors featuring three bars (with almost identical menus), 2 food trucks, corn hole, a ton of outdoor seating, and approximately twenty TVs playing various sporting events. When we went I realized how close to sooner territory we were because all but one TV had the OU game on, but out of our group 10/12 attended OU for undergrad or graduate school so it was pretty expected. The Bleu Garten has a very laid back kind of vibe and is great if you want to play corn hole, a board game, watch sports, and just hang out. I had a blast getting to meet some of the friends in the group and the drinks were really tasty!
3. Fassler Hall
Fassler Hall was awesome! My friend and I both agreed we need to bring our other friends there. It is really nice on the inside with a huge indoor and outdoor seating area, good food, and a delicious grapefruit drink I don’t know the name of. Three of us agreed that we’d leave early to get seats at The Boom, so we were only there for a hot 15 minutes, but I liked what I saw and will absolutely be going back to see what it is about!
4. The Boom
The Boom is known for their incredible drag shows, something I was surprised to find at such a high quality in Oklahoma. The girls were amazing, and the host was so charismatic and fun! It was one of the best drag shows I’ve ever been to, and I really want to bring my husband and some of our other friends along to go see it some time. 11pm at The Boom is when it starts, but get there early if you want a seat! By 10:45 the bar was already pretty packed, and as the show began the room just continued to fill. They are doing a Rocky Horror Picture Show and serving meatloaf throughout October and the rest of September, so if you are interested you should definitely check it out.
Italian meatballs are a staple in Adam’s family and there is a recipe that has been passed down by his Gram for years. While this is not her exact recipe, after a fun phone call with her yesterday we were inspired to make some meatballs for the week!
I am not a big tomato person; I’ve never cared for marinara sauce or ketchup or anything of that nature (I’ve actually built up an allergic intolerance to them) so these are not super “traditional” since they are made in a completely different sauce altogether. We combined a pound of lean ground beef (because it was already in the freezer) and a pound of lean ground turkey (because it sounded healthy) and added in our jar of Italian seasonings, minced garlic, and half a package of bread crumbs. All seeming pretty typical, but we also added in mozzarella pearls we found at Walmart!
After rolling the balls we placed them in a crock-pot and filled it up with Alfredo sauce until the balls were coated. Then we let them cook in the crock-pot on high for 5&½ hours. We made some bow-tie pasta to layer the Alfredo sauce and meatballs on top of the pasta and viola! They were absolutely delicious! The creamy Alfredo sauce is very rich and filling, and it was great to make them in a way even I could enjoy them.
Crock-pot Cheese Stuffed Alfredo Meatballs
A delicious and surprisingly easy dish to make that I found to be almost equally delicious as leftovers, carbonara is a classic Italian dish I just recently discovered. I have 2 versions of it I will include, one is very traditional that is based off of Basics with Babish and the other is Adam and I’s own healthier spin on it that is equally delicious.
Guanciale (or thick bacon)
4oz (or 8oz) shredded parmesan cheese
3 (or 4) eggs
1 egg yolk
Ground black pepper
Carbonara Casserole (Keto Friendly)
1 pre-baked Spaghetti Squash
1 11oz bag frozen zucchini noodles
1 package of thick bacon, cut into chunks
1 egg yolk
8oz shredded parmesan
Ground black pepper
If we were to do this dish again, I think we would cook 2 spaghetti squash and leave out the zucchini noodles, but they did add a very mild flavor and the dish itself was fantastic! Plus it is Keto friendly which for some is a win-win.
As far as both dishes go, the traditional carbonara left overs do not keep quite as well as the casserole in reference to being re-heated, but both still taste delicious even a few days after!
I have lived in Stillwater, Oklahoma since July 1, 2017 and I can honestly say that I have been to almost every coffee shop in Stillwater. With friends, on my own, or on mini-dates with my husband I’ve had the opportunity to try coffee (and other beverages) at a ton of different places. I will start with my top 5 in no particular order because I love each one for its’ own uniqueness.
5. Tea Box
TeaBox was a wonderful place where my graduate school friends and I could all find something we liked. Bitter teas, sweet teas, milk shakes, and most importantly, coffee! Sometimes we would get 2 drinks a person to get us through a long class, or we’d pick some up for our whole friend group on a rough day. It was a small business that seemed to pop up out of nowhere and we adored it. Quickly and without much notice TeaBox closed in June. There was a post on their social media explaining their summer hours one day, I came in to get tea on that same day and everything seemed great. The business appeared to really be growing! Then not a week or two later I came by and was told by the new owners of the building that it is closed (booooo). My friends and I are still pretty heartbroken and have hopes that it will resurface in a new location one day.
Happy September everyone! I don’t know if everyone knows about it, but there is a subscription service called Bokksu that my husband and I adore. We learned about it through ProZD, a YouTuber who does Bokksu unboxing almost once a month. Bokksu is a subscription box that sends Japanese snacks and candy set to a theme each month with a tea to pair. My husband and I have enjoyed the subscription off and on for over a year or two now, and have consistently received boxes since last February. This month the box was themed around the Japanese moon festival and included more items than my husband and I could have ever imagined!
One fun twist about this box is that it came with a recipe to make tsukimi dango with a brief history on how dango is a staple item at the moon festival. While the snacks and tea included in the Bokksu were delicious, Adam and I could not resist the chance to try cooking something new. We researched the rice flour, ordered some, and made dango the exact same day they came in!
To make the dango, the recipe called for a 1-to-1 ratio, but I quickly found that this was not correct. After slowly adding in water the dough became too runny, so I had to add more and more flour. I would say start with a 2 to 1 ratio (double flour to water) and then continue to add water if necessary until you can get an ear-lobe-y consistency.
Once the dough was ready, we decided to get experimental and add drops of strawberry extract to some, rum extract to others, almond extract to a few more, and then to leave the rest plain. To differentiate we used purple, pink, and orange food coloring gel to rub into the dough with the extract. While the dango boiled, we made a sauce (that was AMAZING). After boiling we dipped the balls in ice water, then set them on a paper towel to dry.
Once complete we enjoyed the dango with the sauce drizzled over alongside our Bokksu treats. It was really fun! Unfortunately, we had so much it made a ton of leftovers and the sauce becomes very gelatin-like after being refrigerated. It was a little funky for Adam, so he hasn’t had any other than the fresh ones, but the taste is the same so I really didn’t mind. If you'd like to make some for yourself, the ingredient lists are included below!
So, as you can tell based on this webpage I am pretty new to blogging. I’ve moved from posting once a month (if that) to 3-5 times per week and covering more topics than I was before. There are actually a lot of reasons for that, the main one being that writing these posts has been a wonderful creative outlet for me. When the school year started, I was going through my academic/professional portfolio website and I just kept feeling like I could do so much more with it. I want to add more academic work and continue to build what is essentially a curriculum vitae.
With no actual school work to complete, I thought about continuing to post on my blog. I tossed around ideas of what I’d post about, read some “blog advice” posts, and considered various themes. The only issue I ran into was that I don’t have a specific theme or area I have enough focus/knowledge on to solely post on that. It also just seemed like a lot less fun. To overcome that, I decided to keep my blog more general and to direct my blogging towards sharing ideas and experiences overall. It has allowed me to research things I’m interested in, share my favorite recipes, and so much more!
Blogging has also provided an outlet for stress relief. Writing gives me a new focus and provided motivation to try new things I may not have otherwise. I used it as a tool to plan out a new mini-trip, to try new local restaurants, and to get more involved in local politics. I’ve also looked up a ton of new recipes I’d like to try, as well as have reached out to friends and family for a few more unique recipes I could try and post about.
Lastly, I’m hoping writing consistently in this blog will slowly improve my writing skills. I have not been confident in my own writing abilities throughout my college career, and am always one to critique myself. I’ve never felt as though I have a “voice” or “writing style” per se, and I hope that I can use this to build those skills and find that “voice”. For anyone who takes the time to read this blog and grow with me, thank you. I appreciate you more than you could ever know.
This past Thursday I completed Bucket List Goal #21 by attending the “Dance Party” workout class at the Oklahoma State University Colvin center. I’ve been wanting to branch out and attend more classes, and while this one was not completely “new” to me because I attended it once a year ago, it was new to two of my friends that attended as well. Three of us have been wanting to find a work out class to attend together and decided to try three different ones for three weeks in a row. Last week we tried Dance Party at 7:30pm, and the goal was to try Barre at 5:30 pm this week and Pop Pilates at 6:30pm the week after.
The thing is, Dance Party was amazing. It was a really intense workout that included cardio, abs, and legs; it was fun and encouraged us to be silly, and we loved it so much I think we will end up going to this class from now on. The timing is not great, as all three of us would prefer the 5:30pm class right after work, but the class is worth the inconvenience. It was a packed room with fun hip hop music, fun moves, and some sneakily incorporated squats and lunges. Within that class I logged over 4,000 steps on my fitbit, and increased my heart rate significantly! It also made for a good excuse to stretch and hit the sauna afterwards. As someone trying to get a consistent workout routine down, I am excited to see where this class (and other exercise classes) take us!
One dessert I’d never made before last week includes a traditional Tres Leches Cake. A Tres Leches Cake can be translated to “three milk” cake, and is known for its’ heavy moisture and sweet flavor. The cake itself is a tasty combo of a cake batter mixed with a tasty meringue, which after baking is soaked in evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk mixed together. It is a treat my husband and I had a couple of times a year in Texas, but realized that we had not had it more than maybe once since moving to Oklahoma. Below is a recipe we used from watching Basics with Babish’s video that turned out phenomenally! We are huge fans of both Binging with Babish and Basics with Babish and refer to a lot of his videos when meal planning.
An additional thing we tried was crushing Buc-ee's Beaver Nuggets and using them as a topping for the Tres Leches to add as sweet flavor and satisfying crunch to the dish and WOW! It was amazing!
Once we finished and iced the Tres Leches our cat Leo came to check it out. We noticed a trail of whipped cream on the counter and the culprit (in the top left of the photo) licking the left overs off of his tail. While we had a good laugh, we decided that it would be best not to take that cake to work and to just bring the other one.
10 eggs, separated by whites and yolks
2 cup white sugar
1&1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
4 ounces whole milk
Strawberries, thinly sliced for garnish
16 ounces heavy whipping cream
4 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 round cake pans (10 inches)
I am a student affairs professional, an amateur chef, and an adventurer at heart.
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