Mad Men Stole My Life

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Paul and I have been talking about hopping on the Mad Men train for a very long time. We held off for so long because we knew it would be worthy of our full attention (like Breaking Bad!). Man, does AMC have the best shows, or what? I’m so excited and nervous for the new season of Breaking Bad. Unfortunately, we don’t have AMC, so Twitter will be a nightmare on Sunday nights before we get to watch it.

Eek, I’m starting to babble because it’s been an eternity since my last post and I’ve missed writing! I was very aware that I was neglecting my blog and it made me feel terrible because I always look forward to writing my posts and responding to your comments. I didn’t want to write an excuse post, but it has gotten a little out of hand. Sometimes when I have an overwhelming number of posts and photos waiting to be turned into a blog, I just freeze. I guess I initially got distracted by birthdays, traveling, and completing my final project for summer semester (just finished! Phew!). But then, Mad Men came along. And yes, it’s true. It has taken over my life. I finally realized that I was having so much trouble getting back on track because the time I usually devoted to blogging has now been taken over by Mad Men. I usually write before bed, but now we stay up and watch too many episodes in a row before bed. Obviously, I love it and hate how short the seasons are. Betty is so beautiful and I had to find out if there were any blogger tips on the lipsticks she uses. Of course, they use MAC and I now have to resist walking into a store and buying a whole new makeup kit.

Anyway, as a new fan, I never knew about the Estée Lauder Mad Men collections. I wasn’t as enamored with the one that they sell currently, but I saw this classy, gold blush compact from last year and immediately had to have it. I’ve never cared much about makeup brands or their limited edition collections, but this was too pretty to resist. I seriously lucked out and found this one in an Ebay auction for much less than all the “buy it now” prices. I woke up at 7am to make sure I got it too. I was apparently the only person in the world wacko enough to do so because I didn’t have any competition. I’m pretty sure that proves once and for all that Mad Men has truly taken over my life.

The first step is acknowledging the problem, right? I’m confident that I will now be able to regroup and find a new blogging schedule. Because, let’s get real, I’m not cutting back on the Mad Men addiction any time soon. ; )

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Flashback Friday – Rome

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I’ve been thinking about doing some flashback posts for a while now. Every time I go in to choose which photos I want to edit and post next, I see my albums of travel photos and think what a shame it is that I can’t post them as new. Well, first of all, I don’t know why I convinced myself that I can’t post old things because I get behind on my photos so much around here! But, also these flashback/throwback posts have become all the rage – I finally get to be one of the cool kids. Most of my flashbacks, at least for now, are probably going to be from my post-college trip to Europe. I was beyond excited for this because not only could I relax for a while about finding a grown up job, but also because my months of hard work trying to get my fellowship proposal approved actually paid off. I think I remember the day that I thought I didn’t win the fellowship more clearly than the day I found out that I did! I had just returned home for a school break, but it was hard to relax. I was obsessively checking my email and at times felt sick to my stomach waiting. Eventually I forced myself to accept the fact that I wasn’t chosen. I was actually certain that it was over for weeks before one of my grad student friends said, ‘oh, you didn’t hear? They postponed the decision because some people wanted more time.’ Are you kidding me?? OMG I can’t even explain the feelings that I felt in that moment. Anyway, turned out that the kind dude who finally informed me of this was my fellow, fellowship winner! Pretty awesome! This was one of the most exciting times in my life. I felt so excited, accomplished, and nervous to be leaving my friends behind and eventually traveling all alone.

Ok, I swear my future travel posts won’t be this long now that the backstory/reminiscing is (kind of) behind us. I really just wanted to share a few of my favorite pictures from that summer, starting with Rome, which was actually my last stop. Some of my favorite pictures from the whole trip were from Rome, so I thought it would be a good place to start. I was getting really drained at this point and itching to be back where I could speak to people fluently and not have to eat most of my meals alone! I even got sick towards the end of the week. Being sick made me really thankful that I had such an awesome hotel. I honestly couldn’t believe it when I saw my room because it was so cheap (I may have just gotten lucky)! And quiet and spotless and the staff was really friendly and I believe they had free breakfast too. So, if you’re ever in Rome, I would highly recommend the Hotel Romance! Yeah, I felt weird booking a hotel with romance in the name, but I saw a few other solo travelers there too! Ok, I’m going on and on again. Here are a few of my unedited Rome photos from the summer of 2010!

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Colosseum cat : (

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ART.

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I only took a few photos of myself! Some proof that I was there. My sunglasses look like 3D glasses here…I hope it’s just the angle.

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Cute, right??

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…or French Toast

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Country fried steak or french toast? Tough question, right? That’s why I had to make a country fried steak and french toast joint post. I said in the other post that if these two items are on a diner menu, I have a really hard time picking between them. Of course, there’s always biscuits and gravy…pancakes…oh and anything smothered in green chile…oops I’m getting off course. So yeah, I made my country fried steak and then had to make french toast for breakfast.

In addition to this being a joint post, it kind of feels like a continuation of my waffle/blogger brain post, which has been one of my favorite posts to write. This french toast process was a lot less blogger brainy than my waffles…I almost didn’t even take photos! But of course, once they were done and lookin’ so pretty, I had to snap a few pics. We still got to eat warm french toast though! I really try not to keep people waiting too long when I take pictures of our food. Maybe someday I’ll plan ahead enough to create a nice food styling ‘set.’ But, for now, I guess I’ll continue with my casual, in-the-moment style. We’ll see how it goes! It’s always nice to have something to strive towards. : )

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Quinoa Two Ways

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Ok, so I’m not really that into quinoa. And these are pretty much my only two quinoa recipes. But, they are really good and I’ve been making them for years. I was inspired by a Southwestern style quinoa salad that my mom and I picked up randomly at Whole Foods once. It was surprisingly enjoyable so we decided to recreate it for our work lunches. Quinoa salad makes a great to-go lunch because it’s filling, flavorful, and doesn’t even need to be heated up. Plus, there are tons of ways to switch up the recipes to get some variety in your daily brown bag.

There are two variations that I tend to stick to: Southwest and Mediterranean. When I have the urge to make these for the work week, I usually make one big batch of quinoa and then divide it in two containers. That way I can make both flavors at once and alternate throughout the week. Once you’ve made the quinoa, the rest is just tossing in veggies and seasonings. There’s not really a recipe, but I’ll list the combinations I use below. One big tip though: the last time I made these I added taco seasoning to the Southwest salad, which is now a must! Gives it a nice kick and ties the theme all together. Let me know if you have any quinoa combos that I should try! We have way too much of it in the pantry and it would be nice to switch things up a bit!

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Mediterranean: cucumber, tomato, lemon juice, feta, salt and pepper. I can’t remember the exact herbs/seasoning I used, but I think I kept it simple! I had a little extra steak and avocado from the Southwest salad, so I threw it in here too.

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Southwest: corn, black beans, tomato, avocado, taco seasoning, lime juice. Perfect lunch!

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Cookbook Challenge – Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken

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This is the best chicken I’ve ever made. Third time really is the charm because I’m pretty sure this was my third time roasting a whole chicken. I used yet another Martha Stewart recipe and I am so in love with it. It’s not going to be a weekly staple or anything, but I know it will be a great recipe to have in my back pocket for special occasions. I also don’t know if I’ll ever roast a chicken whole again after trying the butterfly, or spatchcock, method. It was a little tricky (and gross) at first, but in the end it’s so much easier. It cooks faster and it makes carving a cinch.

Once you’ve butterflied the chicken, it’s pretty simple to throw together. Apple, fennel, and leek get tossed into the pan with olive oil and salt and pepper. Then you cover your seasoned chicken with sage and prosciutto! Woo! My chicken cooked for about an hour (in my kind of crappy oven) and came out crispy, flavorful, and moist. Really moist. It was perfect and I was proud. Paul and I both absolutely loved it. I highly recommend this recipe! The prosciutto skin is so good – I feel like maybe it’s part of what helped the chicken stay so moist? Just a guess. In any case, it’s just plain good and you should try it. Recipe can be found here!

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