Monthly Archives: March 2012

Life in the Peruvian Mountains

Standard

Life in the mountains of Peru is so much different from the hectic lifestyles we are accustomed to in the States.

Things are so much simpler.

People learn to live with what they have and live without what they don’t have. Sounds easy, right? That’s because a lot of these families in the mountains don’t know what they’re missing. Some of them don’t even know what a radio is let alone are they able to comprehend how one works.

I have been blessed to have been on two mission trips to Peru; May 2009 (two week trip) and May-June 2011 (month long trip). Both trips I was amazed at the beauty of the country and people in Peru. They are selfless. They are hospitable. They are loving. They are kind. They are patient. And the list goes on and on.

I will be sharing more about Peru and my trips & learning experiences there in future posts, but for now just relish in the knowledge of how good you have it here in the States. Be thankful for technology, running water, a bathroom inside your house, shoes on your feet, and food in your kitchen.

Enjoy your weekend!

Animal Kingdom

Standard

Our second day at Disney World (weeks ago!) was spent in Animal Kingdom! It’s never been a favorite park of mine, but this time I actually slowed down my Olympic speed-walking pace and looked around. I noticed the workers; from Africa to Asia to Europe to the Americas. I noticed the animals…. never would have thought I would see those there, right?! :p I noticed the masses of people acting like animals trying to be the first in line for a ride or ice cream. I sure love people watching and Disney is a great place to do so.

Anyways, how about I get to the pictures? 😉

I hope you enjoyed traveling throughout Animal Kingdom with my family!

Finnick

Standard

((( 5 bonus points if you can correctly identify the source of his name )))

 

I’ve been wanting a fish for a while now. Blame it on the childish Meredith or blame it on the caring, nurturing Meredith.  ((( 10 bonus points if you blame the latter! )))

 

Saturday as it was monsooning in Durham, I ventured out to run a few errands. Nothing like waiting for the busiest, nastiest day to be driving & seen out in public.

 

First stop? Best Buy for the Hunger Games soundtrack. Don’t judge until you’ve listened. Trust me.

Second stop? Old Navy to return some impulse buys and get $34 back 🙂

Third stop? Target. Skirt, sandal, short, weight, cleaning, candy, veggie & bathroom shopping all in one place. Success.

Fourth stop? PETCO. Where the healthy pets go! And, where they come out with a new owner 🙂

Meet, Finnick.

He’s a Veiltail Betta and is a handsome royal blue color. Took me a while to pick him out (I was like a kid in a candy store) but I knew he was the right one. Plus, his colors contrasted nicely with the purple gravel & “plant” I chose.

I’ll be honest and admit that it’s been years since I’ve had to prepare a bowl & water for a fish. I think the last family fish we had died back in 2005. Dad claims the fish lived for all 6 years we had him but I never thought goldfish were supposed to live that long…

Anyways, I followed the step-by-step instructions (since I love lists and all) to ensure the cleanest & friendliest environment possible for my little guy.

 

First, I rinsed the bowl, the gravel & the decoration.

Then, I carefully put about an inch of the clean gravel in the bottom of the bowl. I nestled the plant down in it and admired the cute little home.

I filled up the bowl with water. This was the harder part because it needed to be room temperature. I’m bad at judging with those sorts of things, so I used semi-warm water. I let it sit out on the counter for a good 10-15 minutes hoping it would get more “room temperature-ish”.

I then dropped a few drops of the water cleaning solution into the bowl.

I added a little bit of the bowl water into his little plastic bowl so as to get him acclimated to the water.

Then, into the bowl he went!

After carefully carrying the heavy bowl into my room and placing it on top of my bookcase, I fed him a few pellets of food.

I then proceeded to take dozens of pictures of him trying to get a decent one to facebook & tweet. Just call me fish lady.

I’ll admit that this handsome little guy was in my life (and room- ooh la la!) for a few hours before I dubbed him Finnick. I was given a few name suggestions- Bob, Sebastian, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (Blue Fish for short)… but being the nerd I am, I wanted a more literary name… hence Finnick.

Using the fishbowl setting on my camera

What name would you have chosen for this Betta???

Mediterranean Quinoa

Standard

Saturday night I was hungry. It had been a busy & rainy day and by 7:00pm, all I had eaten was a piece of toast, some bacon, and some oat cookies (recipe later!). Dad was at church cooking, Momma was sick, and I was in need of some sustenance.

Instead of pulling up Pinterest or one of my favorite food blogs, I decided to piddle around the kitchen and create something myself. Of course I’m sure it’s nothing that has never been made before, but I had never had it and I loved it! I also love having a variety of fresh vegetables to choose from 😉

 

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup quinoa

1 can corn, drained

1 stalk of celery, cut into small pieces

1/2 jalapeno, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 orange pepper, diced

a handful of mushrooms, cut into small pieces

feta cheese to top it

olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

juice from 1 lime

I didn't end up using the tomato & cucumber but I did use celery!

Directions:

Prepare quinoa– bring quinoa to boil in 1 cup of water. Reduce heat to low, simmer 10-15 minutes until the water hass all cooked out.

Slice all the vegetables! You can substitute any of those above for any other fresh veggies you have. I just chose a few of my favorites and most colorful ones 🙂

mmmm fresh chopped veggies! (my favorite part of food prep- the chopping!)

In small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, garlic, and as much olive oil as you want to add. I used maybe 1/4 cup…if even that much. Add a dash of salt and your “dressing” is good to go.

In large bowl, mix the quinoa with all the vegetables. On top pour the dressing and stir it all together. Sprinkle it with feta cheese (or dump the feta on there- your choice).

Serve and enjoy!

This recipe I dubbed the title of Mediterranean Quinoa would probably feed two for dinner, but I ended up eating almost all of it on my own! (Remember- first real meal of the day) It was delicious! I loved the crunch that the vegetables added, the almost sweetness from the olive oil, and the mediterranean flavor of the oil paired with the feta.

Next time I might add some carrot, yellow pepper, and cucumber. What can I say, I love colorful dishes!!!

What’s your favorite go-to dinner???

Spring Cleaning – Car

Standard

This morning, Spring cleaning took on a whole new meaning.

I was outside, covered in pollen, and attempting to clean my car without letting too much pollen get back on/in it.

Much easier said than done.

I’m one of those people who likes lists. I make grocery lists, to-do lists, lists to determine which stores to hit up while running errands, lists to determine my budget. Plain & simple, I like lists. So when it came to cleaning my car this morning, it was the same… I wanted a list… an order of which to do things.

But where do you start on a spring morning when pollen is covering everything and all in the wind???

Here is the order in which I cleaned my car:

1. Rinsed my car off with the hose. I realize that wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but I had to get rid of SOME pollen at least!

2. Opened the doors and picked up all the trash.

3. Pulled the rugs out and shook them out.

4. Vacuumed everything and it’s mother.

5. Washed the windows inside and out.

6. Used Armor-All wipes on alllll the interior.

7. Rain-exed my windshield. I LOVE this product- great for spring & summer rains!

8. Cleaned out my console and organized all 20 billion napkins I have in my car.

9. Put the rugs back in.

10. Shut the doors & voila!

= Clean car. (minus the exterior)

*Side note:: I am kind of embarrassed about the amount of hair, pennies & paper clips I found on my floor.*

In what order would you have cleaned your car??? I’m sure there was a more efficient//effective way but seeing as I was trying to finish as quickly as possible so as not to melt in the 10:00 sunshine, that was my order.

My official Spring cleaning has started off on a good foot. Next up, I plan to accomplish painting the bathroom that my brother and I share. And again, much easier said than done. I already have a list of the order in which to do things in the bathroom 😉

Do you have any BIG Spring cleaning you want to accomplish???

My car after one year with me!
Nov. 2010

Last Day at Duke

Standard

Today is my last day of work at Duke. To say I am excited is far from the truth. To say I am sad is somewhat closer.

I have had this job since April 2007, and volunteered here for two summers before that. This hospital means more to me than I can say. I have met many people who have helped shape me as a person. I have met many people who are world-renowned for their work. I have met many people who have inspired me to follow my dreams.  I have grown as a person by having this job.

When I first started here in 2007, I was a high school junior. Being the highly romantic person that I am was, I thought that working at Duke meant I was going to magically fall in love with a doctor, nurse, or scientist. I thought it meant I would make tons of genius friends and go out to eat in fancy sushi restaurants on weekends. I thought it meant my social life would grow drastically. I thought it meant I would end up deciding to be a nurse or something in the health field… something prestigious that my coworkers would be proud of.

Instead of all these grand schemes coming true, I have never met anyone here at Duke or been asked out by any of the handsome fellas I see daily in my own building. I have never hung out with other Duke workers on weekends, and only hung out with coworkers outside of the office for work parties (Christmas, summer, retirements, etc.)  My social life remains the same after five years. And I have yet to pursue any kind of job in the health field.

Once I started college, my division was kind enough to let me stay on with them and come home and work weekends. Summers were spent working as well. And, when I graduated in December, I was one of the few graduates who had a job to go home to. Now that our division is moving to UNC, they want me to tag along. We all start work at UNC next week. So this job has meant a lot to me throughout the years.

There are so many emotions and thoughts running through me today that I don’t even know where to begin or end this post. The past few days I have been overly observant of everything around me…noticing things I had never paid attention to… it was as if I had spider senses that were kicked into high gear.  And like the dork I am, I wrote those things down, hoping that somehow by putting it down in writing would slow the process of change. Duke changes daily and I know if I ever make it back here it will be different than it is now. Familiar faces will be changed or gone, offices will have moved, hallways I am familiar with will be switched around…. Everything will be different.

So much of my life in the past five years has been spent here at Duke, and now it’s over. I almost feel as if I’m ending a relationship with someone. But it’s time to move on… to something bigger and hopefully better. And who knows? Maybe my expectations this time will fall into place.

I am neither afraid of change, nor do I relish in it. 

Today is my last day of work at Duke. To say I am excited is far from the truth. To say I am sad is somewhat closer.

 

Mushroom, spinach, onion omelet & vanilla chai latte... breakfast on my last day at Duke

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Standard

One whiff or bite of these stuffed peppers and you will be in love. I speak the truth.

Dinner for one

I have had a longtime love of Mexican food, anything spicy, and black beans… combine all these together and mmm… qué riquísimo!

 

A friend from work introduced me to a food blog that he and his wife write: The Vital Table. Go check it out. But not right now- I’m about to share their Stuffed Poblano recipe they posted back in January!

Last month, I was home alone on a Saturday (dad on business trip, bro with his friends, mom working) and after I debated back and forth for a while about what to make for dinner, I decided on these stuffed peppers. And boy oh boy am I so glad I tried them out! I had to modify the recipe a little since I was making dinner for one, but I used 2 peppers which was a plenty for dinner and leftovers the next day! 😉

Here’s the recipe I used:


Ingredients

1 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes in puree (I used tomatoes w/ jalapeño peppers)

1 jalapeño chile, minced (I used 1 1/2!)

2 small onions, chopped

3 cloves of garlic (2 whole, 1 minced)

salt & fresh ground black pepper

1 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

1 tsp ground cumin

4 large poblano chilies, halved lengthwise (stems left intact), ribs and seeds removed

Directions

-Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

-In a blender, combine tomatoes in puree, jalapeño, half the onions, and 2 whole garlic cloves; puree. Season with salt.

my ingredients

-Pour sauce into a 9×13 baking dish; set aside.

-In a medium bowl, combine beans, cornmeal, 1/2 cup cheese, remaining onions, minced garlic, cumin, and 3/4 cup water; season with salt and pepper.

-Dividing evenly, stuff poblano halves with bean mixture; place on top of sauce in baking dish. Sprinkle poblanos with remaining 1/2 cup cheese; cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.

before

-Bake until poblanos are tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover, and continue to cook until sauce is thickened slightly and cheese is browned, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool 10 minutes.

after

IT IS SO HARD TO WAIT THE 10 MINUTES FOR THESE TO COOL!!! 

I actually have made these twice and they have turned out delicious both times. I love the flavor of the sauce- I add a lot of jalapeño and garlic and it’s just so so good. And then the black beans and cornmeal mixture? YUM. It’s different than anything I’ve had before.

I paired it with tortilla chips and my favorite Wholly salsa 🙂

In fact, I’m having some leftovers for lunch today 😉

Is it lunch time yet????????? 

 

Do you follow any food blogs??? What is your favorite recipe you found online???

You should know…

Standard

There are some things you should know…

I don’t change my contact solution everyday.

I floss daily just like my dentist recommends.

My dad can make noises like Chewbacca.

I was an extra in a 70s film a few days ago.

I have about 4 different tubes of toothpaste open at a time.

In Peru last summer I went inside a cave with my headlamp on. The lightbulb went out after a few minutes and I couldn’t explore it anymore. I was crushed.

I am currently re-reading the Hunger Games in preparation for the movie this weekend.

My job at Duke is being terminated on Friday.

I paint my nails a different color every week.

Wait wait wait… my job at Duke is being terminated on Friday?!?!?!?

Yes, you read that right. It is indeed being terminated. See, long story short, our division is following our head honcho doctor over to UNC’s Children’s Hospital. Half of the division moved in December and the other half is moving on Monday, March 26th. And I haven’t been offered a job yet.

Yes, I’ve talked with my supervisor about it but she really has no control over the situation as she is as new to the UNC system as I am, and personally I think she wants me to go back to school and get my Master’s. Or become a nurse.  Therefore I am out of luck.

If I could volunteer at a shelter 24/7, visit patients in the hospital to try to cheer them up anytime, and teach ESL and literacy lessons all week, I totally would. But that’s a volunteer thing, and I really need an income!!!

In my haste to figure out what to do until I discover what I really want to do with my life, here are some “jobs” I’ve decided that I would like:

 

lifeguard –> I’d get to swim daily and possibly give swim lessons. I am a little fish and love the water. Plus it would help keep me in shape! (gotta be somewhat selfish here)

writer –> for the paper, a magazine, anything… writing is a career I would love to dip my feet into.

nanny –> I love kids and I would love being crafty, watching Disney movies, reading little kid books, and playing outside all day. Plus it would give me practice for down the road with kids of my own!

substitute teacher –> Remember those days in elementary/middle/high school when your real teacher was sick so you had a sub? I remember those days! I loved them! (unless it was this old scary lady who was so mean and strict!) And I feel like being a substitute (preferably in a Spanish class) would help me to figure out if I would enjoy teaching long-term.

retail worker at the LOFT –> this past January I was introduced to the LOFT outlet store a few exits up the highway and I fell in love with the clothes there. My mom worked retail back in high school and says that it’s a job everyone should work at least once in their life. I’ve never worked retail so it would be a stretch for me but at least if it was at the LOFT I could dress cute all the time!!! (and get discounts 😉

retail worker at Columbia –> another store I love because it appeals to the travel/adventurous side of me. Plus I could get first choice at the hottest new clothes and rack up on them for my future world travels! 🙂  win-win situation!

Spanish tutor –> I’m pretty sure lots of high school students in the area are struggling to make it out of Spanish II with a passing grade… and I could do that. I was a Spanish tutor back in college for three years and loved it. Helping people + Spanish = my passion.

librarian –> I’m a quick learner and the Dewey Decimal system doesn’t intimidate me. 😉 Although some of the sketchy patrons of the Durham libraries might… I think it would be fun and I could read all the time!

worker at the Museum of Life & Science –> I am a huge nerd and I used to love the museum as a child. I could give classes from schools tours around and get to learn more myself. The question is are they even hiring??

extra in films –> After experiencing what it’s like on a movie set last week, I think it would be so fun to extra in a bunch of movies… you get paid after all, and you have hair & makeup & wardrobe done for free. Who doesn’t like acting like a movie star? And if I had a single spoken line in a movie, I would make more money than I make in a month! I could re-live my high school drama class/team days and get my name out there. Just saying. It would be cool.

a local restuarant taste-tester –> totally going out on a limb here and saying that this would be an amazing job. I would get to eat all sorts of yummy/new foods and then I could write about them and publish it in the paper or a blog or something. Random job? Yes, but how cool? Is there such thing???

 

Basically, my life is taking a drastic turn in the next few days as I am clueless as to what the next step will be. I’ve been brainstorming some and so far I’ve come up with nothing solid. Even if I just have something part time that pays well, I’d take it!

What are some odd/random little jobs you’ve worked??? Are you currently working at your dream job??? What steps did you take to get there???