Friday, April 25, 2008

Time to Smell the Tulips?

I realize that Tom and I are sort of fortunate right now because we get Fridays off from school, work, and other life commitments. This type of flexibility allows us the time to, say, go for a leisurely walk at 10 o'clock in the morning. Today we walked slower than usual which allowed us more time to admire our neighbors' yard, take pictures of tulips, and watch a squirrel scurry atop the power line for a long distance. Often I find that our lives are so insanely busy that it's nice to sometimes stop and smell the roses.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Killer Minestrone (pictured)

I have said many times that the crock pot is my best friend. This is especially true in law school when I have only a 2-hour window on Mondays and Wednesdays to drive home, cook dinner, and drive back to school in time for my 8pm class. One of my tried and true crockpot recipes is my minestrone soup, which is just so satisfying on a cold and rainy Portland day. And to top it off, Tom loves this dish so I am willing to share it with my friends, many of whom also have a very busy schedule.

1/2-1 onion
2 zucchinis
1 can white beans
1 can diced tomatoes
12 oz. spicy Italian sausage (comes in a tube)
1 cup cooked macaroni elbow (medium-sized)
1 box of thawed and drained chopped spinach
1 box of vegetable broth
Spices: Italian seasoning & garlic powder (optional)

1.  Brown sausage with no oil, and drain (Viva paper towels work the best!)
2. Cook macaroni and refrigerate.
3. Chop onions and cube zucchinis.
4. Mix all the ingredients in your crockpot, except the macaroni.
5. Cook on Low for 6-10 hours.
6. Microwave macaroni and mix it in the soup.
7. Serve with sprinkles of fresh (not grated) parmesan cheese!

Tip: I usually do steps #1-3 the night before so that all I have to do before school is mix all the ingredients together and turn the crockpot on. Bon Appetite!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Cheap Date

Here is a secret on how we make a dinner & a movie affordable:

First, we use coupons.  Last night we went to Chevy's where we could buy one entree and get the second entree for $3.99.  We did not order appetizers or fancy margaritas or desserts.  We ordered extra-large entrees, ate half, asked for extra tortillas, and brought the rest home for the next day's lunch. However, we do not skimp on tips and we calculate the tip amount without the coupon.  Total dinner price, including tips? $28.

Second, we buy our movie tickets at Costco.  A regular adult movie ticket is $10; student's $9, and matinee $8.  Costco sells 2 movie tickets for $14.99 (or $7.50 per ticket), which is the best deal around because we can see new releases and we aren't limited to matinee times.

Total date price?  $42.99.  I just love a good bargain, don't you?  

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I'm nuts about nuts!

At times I feel like the characters Bubba from Forrest Gump, who names all sorts of shrimp varieties, or Harlan Pepper (owner of the bloodhound) from the Best In Show, who names all different types of nut varieties.

Although I prefer some nuts over others, I am definitely nuts about all nuts. I like Trader Joe's unsalted roasted almonds and unsalted blister peanuts. I love pecans, walnuts, or slivered almonds on my salads. I enjoy nuts in my cookies and cakes, and who can forget pinenuts in a hearty pasta salad or in pesto pasta dishes? My favorite combo is chocolate & nuts, like Snickers, Babe Ruth, and Almond Joy. Sliced Washington red delicious apples with generous servings of Adam's creamy peanut butter* also make a great snack. (*I feel really bad for people who are allergic to peanuts!)

Lately, I have become a fan of Marcona almonds that come from Spain and are extraordinarily expensive and can only be purchased from the deli section of a gourmet grocery store (such as Whole Foods, Zupans, New Seasons, etc). "Known as the 'Queen of Almonds,' the Marcona is a smooth, tan almond known for its sweetness and its soft texture, similar to a cashew. No other almond in the world is quite like the Marcona! Marcona almonds are handpicked and hand-fried in small batches, which explains the variation in flavor and form." To me, they are worth every penny. Alas, Tom won't let me buy them too often because of their cost (hey, someone has to fund his pricey photography hobby!).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Crazy Neighbors

What is life if you do not have at least one crazy neighbor?

Last night I was woken by our upstairs neighbor. This time, it was not due to one of her romantic escapades. Instead, I woke up to a screaming match around 3am. Because this is a PG-blog, let me just say that there was a lot of screaming profanities. I am not sure who she was arguing with because it sounded like the other person had a high-pitched voice, which makes me think that it was either her niece, mother, sister, or young son. Either way, it didn't sound like a man.

I was tempted to go get plastic cups from our kitchen so that I could hear the conversation better, you know, old-fashioned operator style. But I was too lazy. This screaming match went on for at least half an hour to an hour, followed by sobbing (not sure who). Surprisingly, Tom slept through all of it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

No Yukatas for Nattie

Our hotel room in Tokyo provided these lovely waffled cotton yukatas.  A yukata is a Japanese bathrobe (of sorts).  You can wear it just out a shower or over your undergarments when you're at home. There are also fancier versions of a yukata, ones which you could wear outside the home, and these typically have a much nicer design. Unlike a kimono, a yukata is usually made out of cotton, not silk.

I was in love with the ones provided in our hotel room, however. Instead of a belt, these yukatas buttoned down.  The sleeves were 3/4 length and the robe came down to knee-level.  Thinking that these would make great souvenirs for me and my friends, I tried to buy these from our hotel but the first clerk told me that they didn't sell them.

Then I tried to ask a local girl where I can buy these and she told me, I think, if I understood her correctly, that this was not the season to buy them.  We found a traditional kimono store in Harajuku who also sold $1,500 a piece!  Again I tried to cajole the second hotel clerk to sell at least one to me but he wouldn't budge.  He directed me to go to a department store, whose selection was meager and none were made out of waffled cotton.  

I have to admit, the thought of sneaking these little suckers into my suitcase did cross my mind. Oh but the bar application!  Hence the title: No yukatas for Nattie.