April 25, 2012


Last night I decided to venture into the 'comfort food' category and man was it yummy!  I have made this dish various times over the past couple of years and it never disappoints - it also makes a TON (I normally double the recipe and share with friends - which is exactly what happened last night!) so I have lunch and dinner and the next couple of days.  And did I mention that it is also SUPER easy to make! 

Hearty Chicken Noodle Casserole

1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup milk
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
(About) 2 cups of cooked egg noodles
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

~ Cook the chicken and noodles - combine all the ingredients (except the cheese) in a large bowl - place the mixture in a greased casserole dish - sprinkle cheese on top - bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes ~

Trust me, mine did not look nearly as pretty and staged as this but I forgot to take a picture.

So after my desire for comfort food had fizzled I then had a desire for dessert!  The requirements were - something simple, easy to make and that I already had all the ingredients in my fridge/pantry.  I decided on ...

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups sugar
1 stick of butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups oatmeal (old fashioned rolled oats)

~ Place the 3 cups of oatmeal in a large bowl and set aside - mix the sugar, butter (melted), cocoa and milk in a medium saucepan - boil for 1 minute - add the peanut butter and vanilla - mix quickly until the peanut butter melts (if you would like them a little more peanut buttery than chocolatey - add a little more peanut butter) - pour the mixture over the oats and stir until well blended - drop spoonfuls of the cookie mix on tin foil or parchment paper - allow to cool (I placed them in the fridge) and enjoy! ~

Yum!  Yum!
And last but certainly not least!  What three songs am I obsessed with this week? 
Well they happen to be ...
'Some Nights' - fun.
'Somebody That I Used To Know' - Gotye featuring Kimbra
Usher - Climax

Happy Hump Day!!

April 23, 2012

Hammer Time! (And other fun weekend activities)

I had a pretty fabulous weekend - it was filled with good food, even better friends, an awesome movie and a little hammer throwing - what more could you ask for!  And despite the fact that it was cold and rainy for a good part of Saturday and nearly all of Sunday and that I had (still have) a 30 book annotated bibliography hanging over my head - the weekend was still pretty great.  I failed to take very many (good) pictures so I am relying on Google imagines quite a bit for this post.  

Koji Murofushi - love him
Saturday morning started out with a trip to the Troy Farmer's Market (which I blogged about here); I had not been there in a while and it was still inside despite being unseasonably warm for this time of year.  I was able to pick up some apples and a few awesome cookies for later in the day.  After that I made my way up to RPI to participate in one of my favorite past time - watching a track meet!  The Liberty League Championships to be more exact.  I ended up staying for the men's and women's hammer as well as most of the men's discus; I brought my quilt to sit on and packed a lunch, it was pretty awesome and I dare say some of the other spectators were jealous of my preparation (but after nearly 10 years of track meets every weekend, you learn to come prepared).  And I must say watching the throws and observing all the coaches, it REALLY made me miss coaching (not actually throwing - just watching them throw made my back hurt).  After the meet I ended up visiting some friends and chatting with my college roommate, it was SO great to catch up. 

After sleeping in (or rather falling back asleep) Sunday morning, I was able to indulge in a little coffee, couponing, french toast and Meet the Press (typical Sunday morning).  Working out was followed by grocery shopping and a little more procrastinating on my annotated bibliography.  Then that afternoon I went to go see Cabin In The Woods.  Let me preface this by saying - I do NOT like scary movies, I always tend to get really freaked out and at night I think I hear whatever bad thing from the horror movie outside my bedroom window.  BUT this movie was a complete mind f**k!  It was SO good!  I would see it again and I do not say that about many movies.  It was nothing what you would expect and I was thinking about this movie well after it was over.  So this movie definitely gets my recommendation - go see it!  After the movie I indulged and bought two new (and very cute) pairs of shoes!

After the movie I worked on creating a pretty delicious dinner - foil packed chicken!  This is how it went down.  

Chicken (I used tenderloins), stuffing (chicken flavored, if not homemade), bacon (I used turkey bacon) broccoli, cheese, ranch dressing and tin foil.

~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees - prepare stuffing and bacon - place (however many you will be making) tin foil squares on the counter and spray with non-stick spray - let the layers bring - 1st stuffing, 2nd chicken tenderloins (I used 2 per foil pack), 3rd turkey bacon, 4th broccoli, 5th cheese, 6th ranch dressing drizzle - once the layers are prepared fold the sides of the foil pack so that the layers are enclosed but there is still room for it to cook, do not pack tightly - bake at 400 for about 20 - 25 minutes (depending on the thickness of the chicken) ~

Holy moly it was delicious!  I will definitely be making this again!  
Here are some pictures ...

April 20, 2012

What to do with all that beer?

Aside from drink it!  (Which I am not doing much of these days.)  So I decided to make beer bread!  Honey beer bread to be more exact and holy moly it was delicious!  For the beer I decided to use an organic brown ale from Vermont.

Here is the recipe with some pictures to follow ...

Honey Beer Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour 
2 Tbsp sugar 
1 Tbsp baking powder 
1 tsp salt 
2 Tbsp honey 
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer 
4 Tbsp butter, melted
~ Preheat the oven to and grease a loaf pan - in a mixer (or large bowl) mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt - slowly mix in the honey and beer until the ingredients are just mixed - melt the butter and place about half of it in the bottom of the loaf pan - spoon dough into the loaf pan and spread the remaining butter on top ~

Bake at 325 degrees for about 50 - 60 minutes

A few of the ingredients and the view from my kitchen window on a beautiful afternoon!
Mixing in the beer!
I know it looks like a whole lot of butter but I promise it is not THAT much!
Straight from the oven!

And since it was such a nice day and because I work so close to Washington Park, I decided to take a walk and look at the tulips.  The Albany Tulip Festival is Mother's Day weekend however it is rumored that the tulips may not last until then.  Either way - they are pretty!

Humor of an Employment Specialist

Awesome cartoon in the Albany Times Union this morning. 

Happy Friday!!

April 18, 2012

Maybe I Should Write A Book

I have been told on numerous occasions by various people that when my tenure in the non-profit/human service world is complete that I should write a book about my experiences and all the crazy stories that come along with it.  Well after today I think I can safely say that I would be able to not only write a book but also live comfortably off the royalties.  (Maybe I should get my sister Johanna to ghost write it for me ... if y'all don't know she is sort of a big deal in the fan fiction world and I am counting on her future best sellers to buy my mother a beach house because god knows my human service salary never will.)  Most days at the office typically produce at least one decent story to write home about, but today there were at least three absolutely ridiculous situations before lunch!

Now don't get me wrong, I love my job, my field of work and most of the time the clients I work with.  I enjoy that my job is social work without being 'social worky'.  I do career and workforce development which in the end strives to help people become employed and get their lives back on track but it lacks a lot of the 'touchy feely' hand holding that often accompanies 'typical' social work.  I have a lot of what I like to call - CTJMs with clients ... Come To Jesus Meetings, which have nothing to do with religion but is more or less a 'get your ass in gear or get out of my office' type of meeting; I will work my butt off for you but I WILL NOT do it for you.  I also believe that doing this type of work, career development, as opposed to straight MSW work will reduce my likelihood of burnout in the long run.

It is great when I get to share stories of my clients succeeding but lets be honest - the majority of the stories I come home with are nuts, but I just chalk it up to more material for my book.  At NPCS we used to say that the social work interns would probably learn more about social work by sitting in the vestibule (lobby) of the agency and observing clients than they would in class.  So today ... there was the co-worker who handcuffed himself to his desk chair in protest, to make a statement that he was a 'slave to the office' (Over worked and underpaid?  I think so.)  Then there was the member who asked (in all seriousness) if it was possible to use his cat to open a bank account, he even said he would be willing to bring the cat in to 'sign with its paw'.  We calmly and with a straight face explained that we believed the cat would need a social security number in order to open an account.  And we cannot forget the man who introduced himself to me as such ... "Hi, I'm B.J. the name, not the action," followed by a very nice wink.  Those are just a very belief snippet and by far not the 'best' or most outrageous - but it is a preview to the upcoming bestseller!   

Oh Pinterest ... you are fabulous!

Perfect philosophy for life!

I would REALLY love one of these for my new apartment!

How I feel most everyday at work.

So true!


Even better!

Yoga!  Yoga!  Yoga!

If I ever have kids they will totally have something like this on their wall ... or maybe I'll just paint it on mine!  (#seriousmapnerd)

Happy Hump Day!

April 17, 2012

Nearly 90

When it is nearly 90 degrees in Albany in April it reminds me SO much of early summer in Williamsburg, which is awesome!  I was even able to work from home half of yesterday, in shorts and a t-shirt no less with the window open!  

Since it was so nice outside of course I had to go find a nature preserve and walk around the trails!  (I am becoming quite the outdoorsy/nature girl!)

Starting point of the trail
Rocky creek
Goose!  There were a lot of geese along the trail.
River emptying into a circular ... thing.

April 15, 2012

Schodack Island State Park & Summer Plans

This weekend I headed down to Schodack Island State Park which is about 20 minutes south of Albany.  It is an 'island' right on the Hudson River where you can boat, picnic and trail walk.  After a nice picnic (prepared by yours truly) and some quality time on the quilt reading a book on my iPad we set out to walk some trails.  I didn't take my phone on the walk but I did get a couple shots of the river.  All these hikes and trail walks are preparing me for a four day camping/hiking trip to Mount Washington, New Hampshire in June!

This weekend I also found a recipe for a vegan brown rice and bean casserole which looked delicious!  However, not being completely on the vegan train these days - I did decided to add a little cheese to the dish so it was 'nearly vegan'.

Brown Rice & Bean Casserole

1 onion
1 can on diced tomatoes
1 large pepper
2 cups of brown rice (cooked)
1 can refried beans
Salt, Pepper and Crushed Red Pepper (to taste)
3 tablespoons EVOO
Cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees - cook the brown rice - sautee the peppers and onions in the EVOO in a frying pan - once sauteed add the can of tomatoes and heat thoroughly - mix the rice and tomato mixture together and place 2/3 of the mixture in a baking dish - heat the refried beans and place the beans over top of the rice mixture - add cheese on top of the beans (optional) - then place the remaining rice on top of the cheese - bake at 400 degrees for about 20 - 25 minutes.  Enjoy!

Summer is coming fast and furious!  It is supposed to be 91 degrees in Albany tomorrow!  I have a lot planned in the next couple of months that is going to keep me quite busy!  In May I take my final exam to complete my Master's Degree (finally - after 3 years!), I also take the week long test to become a credentialed benefits counselor through Cornell University; after that it is the CDPHP Workforce Challenge run and I am the team captain of the Albany Damien Center's team!  Literally the next day I leave for Pennsylvania and then back to Virginia for my sister's college graduation.  Oddly enough I am slated to graduate that very same day from UAlbany.  June 1st is moving day!  I am moving into my new apartment and I cannot wait!  The next day is the Friehofer's Run for Women race and the following week I head up to Mount Washington, New Hampshire for the camping trip!  Later in the month of June there is a family reunion of sorts in Pennsylvania and then who knows what the rest of the summer hold.  Oh and I also cannot wait for the summer Olympics!  I am a BIG Olympics nerd and will watch practically any event and will probably be glued to the TV for the duration of the games.

April 9, 2012

A Very Veg Easter

This year I decided to (stay home and) cook a vegetarian Easter dinner - it may sounds like I set out to do this on purpose and in some ways I did - but in reality I just didn't want to cook a ham.  Therefore my Easter dinner consisted of scalloped potatoes, spicy slow cooked green beans, deviled eggs, fresh baked challah bread and milk chocolate cheesecake peanut butter brownies!  Since one of my good friends had to work and his family is also far away I packed up the dinner, headed over to Troy and we enjoyed a nice Easter dinner in the lobby of the hotel where he works!

Deviled eggs!

This weekend I also began the process of packing/giving away 'stuff' that has been accumulating in my apartment for the past two years.  I am determined to get rid of things that I do not use, need or wear and this was merely the first step.  I ended up taking an entire car load of items over to the thrift store that the ADC owns.

April 6, 2012

I Apologize for Being MIA (Like Paper Planes)

But the truth of the matter is, it's sort of hard to blog on an iPad - there I said it - the iPad has ONE flaw!  Otherwise, it is pretty much amazing.  One other advantage to the iPad is that I have become an avid reader - I love the Kindle app!  My book choices have been pretty interesting, I am either reading complete 'Cheetos for the brain' books or political books analyzing the 2012 race.  This is very similar to my choice of television which typically (if not always) includes either watching NBC/MSNBC News ... or Bravo.  

So what has been going on ... work, working out, finishing up grad school, work, yoga'ing, work, traveling and even more work.  My grant (Foundations For Living) is finally starting to get off the ground and we are very close to being able to enroll clients in the housing and/or employment programs.  I am being challenged everyday which I love and I am beginning to realize more and more that I am doing some very cutting edge work.  This program is a national model grant and we are responsible for ensuring that it is both functional and successful and if we are able to do so the program may be launched on the national stage!  I have really been tasked with taking the bull by the horns and getting this grant off the ground which has included meeting with various agencies around the Capital Region, writing policies, meeting with clients, presenting at functions, studying to become a benefits practitioner and trying to learn everything there is to know about housing and employment relating to PLWA/H.

So enough about work.  Last weekend I went to Vermont for the first time!  The Vermont state line is only about 30 minutes from where I live but after nearly three years of living in Albany I have never been.  The destination was Bennington and then Manchester to do some shopping.  Vermont is SO pretty and even though I was only about an hour or two from Albany it seemed like I was worlds away.  It had a very small town feel which I LOVED!  Here are some pictures ... 

I was super excited about the cover bridges!
So much so that I had to take a picture underneath one!
I found a creepy pumpkin which of course needed its picture taken!

And despite my hopes that I would be a millionaire by the end of the trip - no such luck.
And lastly - my mother requested some real Vermont maple syrup!

In other (less exciting news) I am pumped about moving into my new place - so much so that I put in a request to end my lease a month early at my current apartment.  I am super excited to have a fresh start in a new place, pay less rent and set up an actual home office!  I am currently obsessed with the band Green River Ordinance and their new album Under Fire - you should check it out!  And I have also started Tweeting again - I have found myself diving into nearly ever outlet of facet media (blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn) except the most popular one - Facebook, but that's okay - I am perfectly happy being Facebook free! 

Have a fabulous Easter weekend - who knows what I'll be doing but whatever it is I'll be sure to blog about it!