December 30, 2011

Some Christmas Additions!

Christmas was great this year!  It was good to be back in Virginia for a little while and just relax at home.  I received some great additions to my apartment as well!!
The major new additions!!  Kitchenaid Mixer and Toaster Oven (and cutting board)!

Since I needed the additional counter space for the new mixer and toast oven my Mom found this great three draw stand in the basement that she was not using so it became mine and my new microwave stand!
New cutting board and silicon baking sheet (thanks Dana!)

A little creepy - yes - salt and pepper shakers from Europe!

And they hug!!

More magnets for my 'international' section thanks to Johanna's travels around Europe!

My Mom made me 'lemon' pillows!

My best friend Dana came back to Albany with me and she will be staying with me until the 4th.  Tomorrow we are headed to NYC for New Year's Eve to meet up with my college roommate Barb!  We plan on going to Time Square and Rockefeller Center earlier in the day and then we are headed to a loft party in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to ring in the New Year.  

Happy New Year Everyone!

Rewind - My Birthday

A few weeks ago was my birthday, and my best friend Dana's birthday!  I had a pretty great birthday weekend and celebrated with a bunch of my friends over the course of the weekend.  Friday at work my friend Jessica took me out to lunch and then we celebrated back at the office with a cake!  Friday night I cooked dinner for some friends and later went out for a drink.  Saturday was hot yoga and hanging out with another friend who was back from Brooklyn.  Sunday was a pretty good day - coffee and couponing, grocery shopping and a little clothes shopping.  I ran 5 miles in 18 degree weather which despite the cold went REALLY well!  I am on track to run the half in March!

Since I am now officially 25 I started thinking ... am I where I thought I would be at 25?  And to be honest I don't know if I ever really thought about where I would or should be at this age.  I definitely feel like I am lacking in some areas - the majority of my friends are either married, engaged or on their way to being one or the other and are having children, while I am still very much single.  I have noticed that this phenomena is more of a cultural/regional thing though; many, if not all of my NY friends are single and loving life while my 'southern' friends are all 'tied down'.  But while I am still living the single life I also realized that I am definitely far more advanced in other areas than some/most 25 year olds; I have a great job that I love, an amazing apartment (sans roommate) in a nice part of town, I'm about to graduate from a Master's program without being bogged down by debt, I am getting more fit everyday, I've established myself in a new city/region that 2 years ago I knew nothing about and (for the most part) I am completely self-reliant.  So I think that I'm doing pretty well!  We'll see what year 25 will bring!        

December 17, 2011

Spicy Tomato Soup

I stumbled across this recipe on and decided I would give it a try!  It was pretty easy to make, super spicy and hearty!

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth (I used vegetable broth instead!)
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
1/2 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta.  Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve. 

December 10, 2011

Santa Speedo Race

Today I attended and worked the Santa Speedo Race on Lark Street in Albany which benefits the Damien Center and some other organizations in the Capital Region.  It was SO much fun and something that it definitely out of the ordinary!  It was about 30 degrees today so a couple hundred people running around in speedos and scantily clad outfits was quite a site.  The 'pre-race' starts at many of the local bars on Lark Street and the racers basically drink to make themselves 'less cold'.  I think the pictures explain the event better than I ever could!

His chest and back said 'It's a Wonderful Life'

Lark Street - waiting for the race to start!
Here they come!
Almost to the turn around!  The entire race is about 250 - 300 meters!

On the way back!

Gingerbread Man?  Ok!

Bringing up the rear!  Fat man and a biker!
My attire for the race.

On another note, last night I hung out with my friends Sarah and Rebecca and we went to this awesome restaurant in Troy, NY named Bacchus!  There you are able to 'design' your own pizza and pastas and this was my creation . . .

Whole wheat tri-colored pasta in a roasted garlic alfredo sauce with broccoli and bell peppers - yum!


December 4, 2011

Roasted Vegetables

I decided to roast some vegetables and cook up some pasta to go with it!  I had some fresh and frozen veggies so I threw them all in a zip lock bag, coated them with a little olive oil and then mixed in some 'soul food' seasoning, lemon pepper seasoning and a little crushed red pepper.  I placed the veggies in a 9 x 13 pan and sprinkled some parmesan cheese.  Bake the veggies at 425 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, turning them over at about the halfway point. 

Pumpkin Dessert Bars

These pumpkin bars are hands down delicious!  I had planned on making them for the student's Thanksgiving dinner but with 50+ donated pies, they were not needed.  Yesterday I felt like baking and since I had all the ingredients I figured why not!   Hopefully my co-workers will like them seeing as how they will be brought to the staff meeting tomorrow!

Crust/Yellow Cake Bottom
Open 1 box of yellow cake mix.  Reserve 1 cup of the mix for the topping.  
Mix the remaining cake mix with 1/2 cup margarine (melted) and 1 egg.
Grease a 9 x 13 pan and press the cake mix mixture to cover the bottom of the pan.

Pumpkin Mixture
4 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 large can of pumpkin (30 oz)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 allspice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 T cinnamon
1/2 tsp
4 T melted margarine

Mix all together and place mixture in the (crusted) 9 x 13 pan.

1 cup cake mix
1 T cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup margarine

Sprinkle the topping over the pumpkin mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until knife comes out clean.


December 3, 2011

Veggie Chili - Wii - Running

I have been feeling a little under the weather for the past couple of days and working until about 8:30 last night did not help.  This week was also the start of my half marathon training plan.  I am giving myself until the end of January (when the registration fee goes up) to determine if I will be ready for the race in Washington, D.C. on March 17th.  Fingers crossed!  So after sleeping in (8 AM haha) and before I headed out for my run and hot yoga I threw together a pretty amazing pot of chili that I am excited to eat tonight!

I soaked various beans (kidney, black, white and pink) over night and placed them in the crock pot.

I added an onion and green pepper...

Then a zucchini...
Then diced tomatoes and tomato sauce...

And finally various spices...

I stirred everything and placed the crock pot on 'low' heat and let it cook all day!

Yesterday I also 'adopted' a Wii!  When the Career Development Center opened in February a Wii was bought, but it has never been used and for the past 10 months it has been sitting in a draw.  I concluded that that was pretty much as waste so I decided to adopt the Wii (with permission) until further notice and I committed myself to learning how to use it (well) so that I can hold programming and game nights for the students!

First I just have to learn how to use it - that is my plan for the weekend!

I have also been working on a 30 page term paper for my Transportation Policy class entitled 'The Cross Bronx Expressway and Highway Construction Inequalities in Our Community'. 

November 30, 2011

Delicious Breakfast!

When I was in Pennsylvania over the Thanksgiving holiday my 10 year old cousin taught me probably one of the best and most delicious ways to cook an egg.  I am not really an egg person, nor am I much of a breakfast person; I normally eat breakfast around 9 AM while sitting at my desk which doesn't leave much room for creativity.  But thanks to this recipe I am now able to have a hot and low calorie breakfast at my desk.

All it takes is 1 egg, 1 wedge of Laughing Cow cheese and (I prefer) an English Muffin.

Place the egg in a coffee mug and scramble it, then place the wedge of cheese in the coffee cup as well.  Wet a paper towel and place it over the cup.  Microwave for 1 minute.  While the egg is microwaving, toast the English Muffin.  

The result is a perfectly cooked egg with cheese melted through and placed on a yummy English Muffin.  

November 29, 2011

Reorganizing the Stockpile!

Last week I found a six tiered shelf in the 'trash room' of my apartment building that (I assume) was meant to be thrown away, however it is a perfectly good shelf and something that I realized would be great for organizing my couponing stockpile!  So I took everything out of the linen closest (where my stockpile had previously been stored) and placed the new(ish) shelf in the walk-in closet of my bedroom.  I separated the items into 'edible' and 'non-edible' and this is the result - now I have even more room for free/couponed items!  Yay!

One of my friends told me that my stockpile looks like a bomb shelter - but in my defense, this is definitely a bomb shelter you would want to be in if something were to happen!

A Week of Giving Thanks

It has been a while since I last posted but the past week was quite busy!  Last week started out quite normal but then Monday afternoon I was tasked with shopping for, organizing and cooking 'Thanksgiving dinner' for about 65 people (to include the YouthBuild programs from Schenectady and Troy as well as their staff members and volunteers) to take place Wednesday afternoon.  
For the dinner I made a super easy and very delicious corn casserole!

2 eggs
1 stick of butter or margarine
1 box of jiffy yellow corn muffin mix
8 oz of sour cream
1 can of corn 
1 can of creamed corn

Mix together, pour into a greased 8x8 pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until golden brown and baked all the way through.

So how do you feed 65 people you may ask?  Well thanks to my amazing couponing skills and turkeys and dishes that were brought by my fellow staff members we were able to have Thanksgiving for only $84 with lots of leftovers, which were donated to the students and the YWCA of Schenectady.

My good friend Elise, who also used to work for the YouthBuild program offered to come help me cook and it made everything run much more smoothly.  We cooked for a pretty long time but the end result was amazing; we had so much good food, nearly each of the students were able to take home a pie and various leftovers for their Thanksgiving dinner the next day and everyone had the opportunity to reflect on the year and give thanks for the programs at NPCS.

After the meal I was way to tired to drive to Pennsylvania that night so I decided to come home and head out the next morning.  I got up around 5 AM and started the trip to Pennsylvania to meet my family for Thanksgiving; the trip felt unusually long but I arrived around mid-morning.  Waiting for me when I got to my uncle's house was an entire cooler of homemade beer - so excited!

Thanksgiving dinner was delicious and after too much food, beer and an early morning drive I passed out on the futon.  Oddly enough I was knocked out enough to allow my uncle and mother to place newspapers and liquor bottles around me and take pictures.

But at the end of the day we were left with a very pretty sunset!

November 19, 2011


This is what happens when you officially over do it.  
Thank god for frozen California Blend veggies!

November 18, 2011

We're Building A House!

Wednesday Northeast Parent & Child Society (i.e. where I worked) kicked off a major project that will involve transforming a severely run down house in the Hamilton Hill area of Schenectady into a livable home for a low income family.  The project will be completed by students in NPCS's YouthBuild and Energy Corps programs under the guides of trained construction workers and staff.  While earning their GEDs and various other certifications the students learn construction skills and will gain hands on experience by working on rebuilding this house.  The project is being sponsored by Saint-Gobain which is the largest distributor of construction materials worldwide.   

House that will be reconstructed.
NPCS threw a pretty big ground breaking ceremony and a bunch of dignitaries were in attendance - the mayor, city counsel, representatives from YouthBuild USA and Saint-Gobain International and nearly all the VPs/Directors/CEOs of NPCS.

The 'big check' and floor plans.
Some of the students spoke.
And so did the (interim) mayor.
Then two students broke down the door with the 'golden' sledge hammer.
Taking a look inside.
And me with one of my students - Emmanuel