Our sweet puppy Ace just turned 6 months old so I wanted to talk about some of the development we've seen in him through Month 5. We last left off at Week 17 so it only seems appropriate to base it off of months vs. weeks now. For starters, Ace has hit several milestones including:
These all seemed small as they were happening but thinking back and remembering where we started I realized these were huge milestones! Three weeks ago I was pretty sure he might never learn "bed" and that he would just wait for me to drop treats on it forever. Ace has also grown up a lot in his behaviors. He self-entertains a lot with his favorite toys, he is a lot more mellow (and open for snuggling), he seems to understand Adam and I and what we are communicating better than he ever had before, and he is in full puberty mode. He has started marking trees and light posts on our longer walks (thankfully he has not marked in the house) and he has become more confident when playing with other dogs.
This weekend will be Ace's first experience with boarding and his first time away from home for more than 3 days. It will also be Leo's first time at home alone without Ace for that long since bringing Ace home. We are a little anxious to see how it goes, but the place we are boarding him is really nice and came recommended from several friends. I am sure he is going to have a ton of fun, I just hope he gets to the fun part sooner rather than later. The Three Dog Bakery visits are still in full swing (in fact I am sure we'll stop by when we pick Ace up on Sunday) and we get all of our dog biscuits there since they are made in-house. Watching this sweet pup develop and learn new skills has been so fun, and he has become so emotionally in-tune with Adam and I it is insane.
So there is nothing I love more in the winter months than a warm, savory, hot dish of sorts. A crowd favorite is the traditional shepherd's pie, and Adam and I make some version of it every winter. This time we took a chance and left out the breading to follow our current diets, as well as used venison since we have so much in stock. We are calling it a "Hunter's Pie" and honestly it might be the best take on Shepherd's Pie I've ever eaten (and I love a good breading).
One of my goals for this year was to run a 5K and last Saturday I competed my second one in the past month! I intended to follow the None-to-Run plan and honestly just really failed at it. For the first 5K I worked to give myself a month to train, which really turned into two weeks of semi-training (it is important to note that I had not run anything in months and was not on an even slightly consistent work-out regimen before those 2 weeks). For the None-to-Run guidelines I had a lot of trouble with wanting to just be able to run without the extra time. I ended up only running once or twice a week with a once a week with a Pilates work out thrown in between, which did not help me build up much endurance at all.
With a surprising time, a new motivation, and one month until the next race you would think I learned my lesson and started training to improve, right? Wrong. I ran twice that week, but with the weather, an approaching vacation, and peak advising season beginning I started only making it to the gym once a week and really falling behind on training. Adam and I went maybe 4 times that whole month, and I started to have some real anxiety. So, the week before I followed the same steps I did previously, and this time I went in with the mindset that I would not run this 5K at my best. Instead I would make it a planned work-out so that I could keep training and avoid the intense soreness that followed the Wizarding Run.
For fun, I made a pre-plan of Adam and I's running schedule for this week and the weeks to follow. It is great for anyone starting more "in the middle" than the average beginner. It is important to take your own health and other factors into consideration, while our work outs work for us please feel free to adjust them at your own discretion.
Asian BBQ Chicken Dish
Directions for Vegetable Rice:
While I have only been an academic advisor for 6 months now, and I work in an office that is more hands-on than most advising offices, I thought it would be fun to make a list of things Academic Advisors wish students knew going in. This is based off of collective ideas and thoughts I've heard around the office, so I hope you enjoy the tips!
1. Book Your Appointments Early
2. We Are Here For You
3. When We Send You An Email, Read It
4. We Are Humans
Crazy, right? To think someone could be sick sometimes or go on a vacation every once in a while; but it is true. We are here to help you, and we love our jobs, but sometimes life happens to us too and we may need to reschedule an appointment. That does not make us care any less, it is just what makes us human.
5. We Can't Give You Professor Recommendations
A big misconception I hear about on what academic advisors do is when I hear complaints about, "well my advisor is the worst because they told me to take ... class!" Or "Ugh my professor is the worst, I can't believe my advisor would tell me to take their class." The classes we "tell" you to take are classes you need to graduate, we have no control over when it is offered or who is teaching it. And we can't tell you not to take a class because of the professor, because opinions on teaching styles are often so subjective. We can recommend classes/options/electives that other students have enjoyed, but for those it is still really up to you on if you choose to take them over another option.
6. Know Your Degree Plan
When you first begin at most institutions you are given a degree plan for your major and your academic start year. Whether that is a sheet of paper, a fancy degree works website, a giant book of majors, or a combination of the three, you have access to what classes you need to graduate. Part of being human is that advisors also sometimes make mistakes. We do our best not to, but seeing so many students it is hard not to miss some things.
After our trip to New Orleans you could say Adam and I left inspired. We have always talked about Gumbo and Crawfish Etouffee but have never actually made it ourselves. With most of the ingredients already taking residence in our kitchen we decided to go for a venison gumbo. I should warn that this recipe lasted us almost a full week, only coming short because we shared some with friends at work. With the northern winds blowing in for a chilly week it has been the perfect lunch/dinner, and it seems like the gumbo continues to gain flavor each day.
We are approaching my absolute favorite time of year - the holiday season - and a few of my coworkers and I have already started to think about, pick out, and even purchase some of the holiday gifts for our friends, families, and secret santas. I pride myself on picking out thoughtful, fun, and occasionally elaborate gifts for those close to me, whether it be for the holidays, their birthday, or just a rough day in general. So here are a few tips that have really helped me whether getting a gift was a well-thought out process or a last minute grab!
1. Keep a list on your phone
2. If you see something early, buy it (especially if it is on sale)
3. Stay Organized
Are you a gift-giver on a budget? Or just the kind of person who always forgets what they got or plan to get someone? Keep a running Google Sheet. It helps Adam and I budget what we are able to spend, keep track of what gifts are for who, and gave us an idea of what we were looking for during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. We ended up saving almost $200 the first year we started this trend, and it helps us reference what we've already given family members. It also helped because in joint gifts (either from Adam and myself or from multiple family members pooling in) we were able to keep track of who was pitching in for what.
4. Stock up on some universal gifts
This may seem counter productive, but it is not what you think. If you have the opportunity to stock up on universal gifts like an Alexa, an iHome, a classic book, a coffee mug with candy in it, etc. it can really save you in a pinch. It happens so often that a birthday comes up or someone brings an unexpected guest to a family holiday event that require a last minute gift, and it is not always reasonable to run to the store. Having a few back-up gifts that are easy to wrap can be a life saver. Personally, I love to overstock on Bath and Body Works products when there is a sale so that I can combo a few as a gift if needed. That works well because if we end up not needing them for a long period of time Adam and I can still use them ourselves so we don't feel as though we wasted money buying those items.
5. Think about the person
This may seem obvious, but to sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in getting a "good gift" vs. a gift the person will appreciate. Ask yourself, is this person sentimental? If yes, a picture or something from a memory is a great gift; but if the answer is no it is important to look more into gifts the person might find "useful".
Another good question, is the person going through a major life event? One of the best gifts I've ever received was a cookbook of recipes compiled from my grandmother's kitchen. My aunt went through all of the cookbooks and note cards, even scanning some instead of typing them if it was a recipe she wrote by hand. My aunt gave copies to all of our family the first Christmas after my grandmother's passing and I still believe it was the perfect gift. It carries so much sentimentality, but is also something I've used 20+ times over the past year. It was very relevant to what was happening in our lives right then.
One last tip to consider, what is something this person will actually use? It ties in to the other two questions but is still strong enough to stand alone. This is something I really struggled with for a while because I would think of things I live vs. what another person would like. Coffee mugs are amazing if you drink coffee/tea at home, but for a person who hates coffee or is always on the go it may be better to consider other options. This especially applies to children. When choosing gifts for kids it is so easy to think of what we liked as a kid or interests we want kids to take on, but it is much more beneficial to ask their parents what their interests are or if you are able to ask the kids themselves. Every year I debate getting my brother a book or a cool science-y toy, but he loves football and playing video games so gifts revolving around those things mean so much more to him.
I hope these tips can help you this holiday season, and maybe just in general! Giving something to someone else is a gift all on its' own, and it feels great to give something that brings them joy. What are some of the best gifts you've received and why were they the best? What are some of the best gifts you've given to others? Let me know in the comments.
Being a huge Harry Potter nerd surrounded by other Harry Potter nerds, there was a night recently that was discussed which harry potter characters fit the different engineering majors that we advise. We had so much fun coming up with them so I hope you enjoy our list as much as we enjoyed making it!
Chemical Engineering - Draco Malfoy
Aerospace Engineering - Madam Hooch
Biosystems Engineering - Neville Longbottom
Architecture/Architectural Engineering - Luna Lovegood
Civil Engineering - Fred & George Weasley
Mechanical Engineering Technology - Harry Potter
Industrial Engineering - Ginny Weasley
Mechanical Engineering - Dean Thomas
Fire Protection and Safety Engineering - Seamus Finnigan
Computer Engineering - Percy Weasley
Electrical/Computer Engineering Double Major
There were so many different genres and bands that it was hard to go wrong. Personally, I am so sad I was not able to see Post Malone, and I wish so so much that he'd been scheduled for Friday or Saturday instead, but Guns n' Roses and Bassnectar were both incredible main night acts as well so I think it would have been hard no matter who played Sunday. One thing I also enjoyed about the line up was how fun it was to walk around the grounds and catch artists you didn't necessarily know. There was not a single artist I didn't enjoy while there, I only wish I could have seen Bae Miller (canceled due to whether) and Post Malone. Check out the line up here for more details.
Vana's Packing List:
Adam's Packing List:
Guns N' Roses Crop Top
Metallic Mesh Shirt
Ripped Black Jeans (Walmart)
Leopard Print Shoes (Walmart)
1. Pineapple Food Stand
Every year there are a number of groups and programs that run food stands as fundraisers. My personal favorite for back-to-back years is the pineapple food stand! This group makes jerk chicken and serves it in a halved pineapple, but what I love is the "Cowboy Juice" served with dry ice in a fresh pineapple. It is very tasty, non-alcoholic, and makes for some great pictures! If pineapple is not your thing there are a ton of other stands to check out and support a good cause.
2. House Decks
Is it really a walk around if you didn't make it to see a few house decks? The time that goes into pomping these is insane, they are made entirely out of tiny pieces of tissue paper glued and stuck between chicken wire. A lot of the time there are big moving parts and intricate mechanics involved as well. This year Adam and I couldn't resist getting a picture in front of the Dallas, TX themed house deck.
- 1 Cup Finely Chopped Walnuts
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Cup White Sugar
- 3/4 Cup Unsweetened Flaked Coconut
- 20oz Can Crushed Pineapple with Juice
- 2 Eggs
- Cake Flour (or all-purpose as a sub.)
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl
- In a separate bowl mix eggs, vanilla, and pineapple; then add and mix with dry ingredients.
- Pour into a greased 9X13in pan (we use a Pyrex)
- Bake 35-40 minutes (35 is typically plenty for us but it is good to have a range) at 350F or until a butter knife or toothpick can be stuck in and come out clean.
- Let cool for Almond-Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting or make a Glaze Icing and pour on while the cake is still hot. Both are below!
- 8oz Cream Cheese
- 1&1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp Almond Extract (or more vanilla as a sub.)
- 1 Cup White Sugar
- Put all ingredients into a stand mixer bowl.
- Mix with stand mixer and medium to high speeds for 3-6 minutes (or until the frosting is nice and thick).
- Once the cake is cool carefully spread the frosting over.
*Optional - add toasted coconut on top of the frosting for garnish
- 1 Box Powdered Sugar
- 1 Stick Margarine
- 1 tsp Almond Extract
- Melt the margarine in a pot.
- Add the sugar and the extract.
- Bring to a high temperature and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes or until it comes to a boil
- Drop the temperature and continue to stir until it settles into a thicker but still some-what clear liquid.
- Poke small holes throughout the hot cake and carefully pour the glaze over the top.
*Optional - add toasted coconut on top of glze for garnish
- 8oz Diced Ham
- 16oz Sour Cream
- 2 Cups Shredded Cheddar
- 1&1/2 Cups Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Tbs Garlic Powder
- 2 Cans Condensed Cream of Potato
- 1 Pack Frozen Hashbrowns
- In a bowl mix half of the bag of frozen hash browns with the cheddar cheese, diced ham, garlic powder, sour cream, and condensed cream of potato. After it is well mixed, add in the other half and continue until it is well mixed.
- Pour ingredients into a greased 9X13in pan (a deep one is preferred). Spread out the mixture evenly.
- Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly on top of the mixture.
- Bake at 375F for 1 hour.
Is it more of a grab-and-go kind of morning? Then you better be careful, Adam and I tend to splurge hard on a lazy weekend. We can grab a waffle egg-bacon-cheese sandwich, kolaches, a pecan roll, and cake donuts from the Red Rock down the road. And what kind of fall morning would it be if we didn't grab some nitro brew coffee to go with it?
Last, but not least, our most common meals are either 2 fried eggs on toast, or a yummy quiche/egg bake. Quiches and egg bakes are so perfect for a morning on the go, and they are packed with protein and veggies. These are what Adam and I stick to throughout the week, and perhaps what helps us stay nutritious after a sugar-filled weekend. We are working on our eating habits, but are already on a good track as far as Monday-Friday go!
- Start to pre-heat the vegetable oil in a pan to 300F.
- While waiting - In a bowl scramble the 2 eggs together and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, mix together flour, bread crumbs, coconut, garlic, curry, and onion powder.
- One the oil is ready, take a fillet, coat it in the egg wash, lightly set and press it into the dry ingredients bowl on each side, then set it on a plate with a paper towel. Repeat until all 2-4 fillets are ready.
- Take the plate over to your pan and carefully set the fish inside the pan. Allow to cook for 4 minutes in the oil before gently flipping to cook for 4 minutes on the other side.
- Once fully cooked set the fish on a plate with a clean paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Repeat the process.
- Once all fillets are cooked, plate and serve.
It is not often Adam and I are fortunate enough to have wild game in our freezer, but when we do we make good use of it! Between Adam's Dad's once a year hunt and our coworker and close friend that hunts often we have been able to acquire some really great venison. Wild game can be difficult to cook with, so for the recipes we make this round I want to be sure to share for anyone unfamiliar with it. We made some deer nuggets last week that were so good we ate all of them in one sitting, and if you are ever able to make them, you are sure to love them too!
- 1 Carton Original Unsweetened Almond Milk
- Venison (we used 3 4oz strips, but you can use as much as you want)
- 1&1/2 Cups Flour
- 7 Cups Vegetable/Cooking Oil (or enough to fill your pot half way)
- 2 Cup Bread Crumbs
- 1 Tbs Garlic Salt
- Food Thermometer
- Wash venison carefully with water, then place in a dish large enough to hold all that you have.
- Pour almond milk over the meat until it covers it entirely.
- Cover the pan with saran wrap, tin foil, or whatever you'd prefer. Place in fridge for 48-72 hours.
*Leave for 2-3 days*
- Remove meat from almond milk, washing it off with water. Slice meat into small bite-sized cubes (approximately).
- In a bowl mix flour, garlic salt, and bread crumbs together.
- Take cubes of meat and coat them in the flour mix.
- Fill pot with oil and heat it to 320F-350F.
- Once heated up put meat cutlets in the oil to cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove and place on a plate with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
- Let cool and enjoy!
Named After: "Loke, the Leo in Fairy Tail"
Favorite Color: "Blue"
Favorite Treat: "Cheese"
Favorite Flavor: "Salmon or Chicken"
Favorite Weather: "Warm and sunny"
Favorite Vacation Spot: "Venice in the spring"
Favorite Hobby: "Chasing the dog, napping on the floor, or taking walks on my leash"
Absolute hates: "Shots, and therefore, the vet. I will have my vengeance one day"
Favorite Movie: "I am a big fan of Kiki's Delivery Service, but I also love the Aristocats as it is similar to the way my parents met"
Favorite Nap Spot: "The living room window sill when it is open"
Friday Night Plans: "I hope I'll be able to curl up in my favorite chair and watch a movie with my mom and dad. Maybe if the dog settles down he can join us too."
Favorite Celebrity: "Ernest Hemingway - did you know his home serves as a refuge for cats?"
Guilty Pleasures: "Sleeping near the dog and sneaking treats and toys for him, and crashing mom's blog pictures"
What Constitutes Your "Purrfect" Day: "A perfect day for me is a simple one. I wake my mother up at 4:30am and she responds by feeding me before going back to bed. The dog sleeps in so that I can snuggle up to my dad's feet in bed before they start to wake up. Once everyone has left I stay in bed for a while longer, enjoying the warm sunlight through the window. Later I take a long stretch, chase the dog around the house, play with my favorite feather toy, and if I'm lucky my mom will give me some catnip."
Special Talents: "I have been training to become the next cat-ninja-warrior for quite some time now. I have mastered the art of running stealthily, climbing on things, pouncing on pray, and finding very secure hiding spots"
Hunter or Gatherer: "Definitely hunter. Although I have been known to steal food from my brother Ace's bowl"
If I was a Dessert, I would be: "I would be a dreamsicle because life with me is the true dream"
Favorite Day of the Week: "Sundays because my whole family is usually home"
2 Tbs Coconut Flakes
1 Cup Crushed Pineapple
5 Cups Bread Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar
3 Egg Yolks
6 Tbs Apricot Preserves
2 Tbs Melted Butter
2 Tbs & 2 tsp Shortening
1 Cup Water
1 Tbs Active Fast Growing Yeast
3/4 Cup Pineapple Juice
2 tsp Salt
- A stand mixer
- A bread hook
- Plastic wrap
- Cooking Spray
- 9in by 13in baking pan
- In a mixing bowl pour in the yeast packet and the water at room temperature. Stir it and then let it sit for a minute or two. After that add pineapple juice, 3 egg yolks, shortening, bread flour, salt, and sugar. Set the bowl in the mixer, attach your bread hook, and mix on "1" or "low" until it is well mixed. Then pick the speed up to "2" until it looks like a well-mixed ball of dough.
- Once well mixed spray the dough ball and the mixing bowl with cooking spray, cover the top in plastic wrap and let it sit for 1 hour.
- After one hour has passed, take half of the dough ball and (using flour to prevent it from sticking) roll it out flat.
- Spray cooking spray inside and around the 9inx13in baking pan and lay the now flat dough into it. Take 1/4 cup of your crushed pineapple and 2 Tbs of the apricot preserves and spread them evenly over the dough.
- Now take the other half of the dough, roll it out flat, and place it on top off the apricot/pineapple coated dough. Cover pan with plastic wrap and let sit for 40 minutes.
- Pre-heat your oven for 325F.
- In a separate bowl mix your egg, coconut flakes, melted butter, 4 Tbs apricot preserves, and 3/4 cup crushed pineapple in a bowl.
- Take out a pizza cutter and run it through your dough in the pan to make 2in by 2in squares. Then, take the separate bowl mix and evenly pour it over the top of the dough. Spread it out well, and bake for 30-40 minutes or until you can stick a butter knife in it with no dough residue.
- I recommend enjoying it as soon as it is cool enough to pull apart, but it also refrigerates well if you cover after it cools.
Last Christmas was the first one spent without my grandmother, Connie Otto (or CiCi to us grand-kids). My grandmother was a phenomenal chef. She could cook almost anything, and she could bake too. She was the type of person who always had a dessert or appetizer on hand for when company came over, and we couldn’t visit without gaining 5+ pounds in a week from all of the delicious treats. A classic one I remember her making is her Rum Cake. It is very simple, with a glaze to match, and reminds me of the sliced pound cakes served in coffee shops. This weekend I felt inspired to pull from her recipes (courtesy of the book my Aunt Becky made with all of CiCi’s favorites) and I found myself fixated on the Rum Cake recipe. After making it I realized there was no way I could keep it in the house, Adam and I would eat the whole thing if we did! So I brought it to work where it was devoured by lunch. Check out the recipe below:
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 1 & 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp rum extract/flavoring
- Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and wet in another (I melted and cooled the butter before starting)
- Slowly mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients until smooth.
- Pre-grease a cake pan (i chose a bundt cake pan) and pour in mixture.
- Bake at 300F for an hour. When done make glaze:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp rum extract/flavoring
- 1/2 cup water
- Put all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook at high heat until it begins to boil.
- Once the boiling mixture looks clear bring the heat down.
- While the cake is still hot, pour over the top and let it drip down onto and into the cake. (I used a bundt pan for the cake so I removed it from the bundt pan before glazing it).
At home my husband and I enjoyed it with some chocolate ice cream, but we brought most of the cake to work after letting it refrigerate over night and it was a hit!
Leo is also a fan!
It is fall ya'll, and that means that pumpkin and pumpkin spice are pretty much everywhere. Whether that is good or bad for you, it is unavoidable at a point. For me, it is one of my favorite times of year and I go full force with all things pumpkin, so it seemed only natural to come up with a healthier alternative than the oh-so-coveted Pumpkin Spice Lattes or Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew coffees at Starbucks. Here is the shake that has become a staple in my home this fall, I hope you enjoy!
I am a student affairs professional, an amateur chef, and an adventurer at heart.