28 May 2015

Thursday Recipe

When I was growing up, one of the desserts we would have was poke cake.  You know, the kind of cake where you bake it then poke holes in it with the end of a wooden spoon and then pour jello or pudding over it and voila.  My favorites were white cake with strawberry jello and cool whip frosting.  Imagine my utter delight when I discovered this poke cake recipe on Pinterest for a Cannoli poke cake.  I made this and my staff was in love with it.  It was gone before lunchtime (which for me is the hallmark of a good dessert).  You can find the recipe at Life, Love, and Sugar.

Ingredients

1 box white cake mix, plus ingredients on box
1 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon, optional
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

1. Bake cake according to directions on box for a 9x13 pan.
2. Allow cake to cool completely.
3. Poke holes all over the top of the cake. (I used a straw)
4. Reserve half a cup of sweetened condensed milk and pour the rest of the sweetened condensed milk over the cake.
5. Put cake in refrigerator for about an hour to absorb milk.
6. Combine ricotta cheese, mascarpone cheese and vanilla extract in a mixer bowl. Beat until smooth.
7. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon, if using and mix until combined.
8. Add reserved sweetened condensed milk and mix until combined.
9. Once cake has absorbed milk, spread cannoli topping evenly over cake.
10. Top with mini chocolate chips and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
11. Cover cake and allow to set in refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Cake should keep for 4-5 days.

NOTE: Do consider straining the ricotta before using, especially if it's a particularly watery brand.

27 May 2015

What's Up Wednesday

What We're Eating This Week - Last night it was grilled chicken with corn and broccoli.  Sunday night I made sloppy joe's (check out my Pinterest Dinnertime board).  Tongiht, I'm not sure, but if the weather hold's out we might hit up Chicken Scratch and The FOundry Friday night (in case y'all were wondering, The Foundry is where P and I met for the first time).  

What I'm Reminiscing About - My grandparents - Grandma and Grandpa Mancone.  Grandpa passed away in 2004 and Grandma passed away in 2007.  The magic of technology however has allowed me to add pictures of them to my collection. I've been reliving a little bit of my childhood lately.  Especially as we ease into summer - frozen Saugy's anybody?



What I'm Loving - Work!  Seriously.  Work has never been busier but I've gotten a little deeper into the International Admissions aspect of my job and I'm really enjoying it.  I'm trying to get as current as possible with all of the procedures, processes, and regulations, which means a lot of webinars and online learning.  My desk looks like this a lot of the time:

 

What We've Been Up To - Bubble Run!  Not my favorite run, it wasn't as well organized as other's I've participated in.  I ran only part of it.  The trail was too congested and narrow to do much more than walk with the masses.  But this cutie pie popped up:


Miss Lottie had her goggles on and was ready to tackle the bubbles.  Nolan was there too, but he was not so inclined to take a picture.

What I'm Dreading - More rain...


Waterlogged does not even begin to describe it.  There is light at the end of this tunnel however, next week is looking like it's going to clear up a bit.

What I'm Working On Getting back into the swing of things at work.  For the last few weeks this has taken over everything:





It's over now though and with another Commencement behind us (1630+ participants!) I can move on to other things that are needing my attention,
 
What I'm Excited About - Eight Days!  I'll be home for a visit in 8 days.  I'm excited.  I'm excited to be bringing P with me so he can meet my family and see where I grew up.  Not to mention my brother's wedding reception.  If there's one thing my family loves, it's a wedding.

Also - tomorrow night, Pinterest Told Me To (aka Shaeffer) is hosting an Accessory Concierge event.  I am irrationally excited about this.

What I'm Watching/Reading - I'm reading Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by John Krakauer.  It's not for the faint of heart.  I'm about halfway through with it now and I need to stop every so often and walk away because I get so rage-y about it all. 

What I'm Listening To - More NPR, but I've got Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Britney Spears on my playlist.  

What I'm Wearing - Hooray for summer dresses!  Some of my faves recently from Old Navy, Loft, and BR.  Also, since it's commencement season and all, my polo shirt has made it into rotation. 

What I'm Doing This Weekend - P and I have a graduation party on Saturday afternoon for his niece and then Sunday we are off to the Red Sox/Rangers game.  We'll be on the third base side.  Look for us on tv.  I'll be the one in the Red Sox hat next to the tall guy in the Rangers hat.

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month - Going home!  My birthday!  And some really great movies coming:  the new Terminator, Jurassic World...it is a summer of blockbusters. 

What Else is New - We are on Summer Hours now, 10 hour days Monday-Thursday, and I fully intend on taking advantage of my three day weekends from now until the end of July.  Last week I had lunch with Billie-Jo, this week it's lunch with Carey.  

What I'm Grilling This Month - Chicken, of course.  We did turkey burgers last week.  Mix and Match Mama has some burger recipes I'd like to try, so this one might make it into rotation in the near future.

03 May 2015

Life Lately

In my post from last Wednesday, I alluded to life in Texas being wonderful, crazy, and busy.  So what have I been up to?  I'll start back in December...



During winter break, P and I took a trip to the Bush Presidential Library at SMU.  It was definitely interesting.  Parts of the 9/11 portion of the exhibit were difficult, but overall we enjoyed going. 



Before we knew it, it was New Year's Eve.   P and I got dressed up and had a nice dinner at The Keg.  Please ignore the bandage on my toe - I had a run in with the couch...and the couch won.


And then my Buckeyes won.  THEY WON!  They won the College Football Championship.  Talk about a great way to start the new year.


February was supposed to be great.  I had a trip planned to go to Raleigh, NC for Valentine's weekend.  A few friends and I were going to run the Krispy Kreme Challenge.  My flight was supposed to leave early on Friday, and at 10am on Thursday all of a sudden I felt like a bus had hit me.  Yup, for the first time in my life, I had the flu.  Not how I envisioned spending Valentine's weekend.  P was great though.  He took care of me, picked up my prescriptions, and brought me orange juice.


March was non-stop.  That first week we went to the Fleetwood Mac concert at the AAC.  Our seats were super high, but fortunately at the AAC, there's no such thing as a bad seat.  I've seen them before, this was P's first time.  They put on a great show.


And then it snowed.  Seriously.  The morning after the FM concert there was 6 inches of snow on the ground.  Hmmm.  Not how we envisioned starting Spring Break.  Especially since we were on our way out of town.  Where to, you might ask?


We went to Fredericksburg, TX for the weekend.  It was a little chilly, but still fun.  We wandered around the downtown area, discovered some great restaurants (please please please try the chocolate pecan pie from the Fredericksburg Pie Company), and we hiked to the top of Enchanted Rock.  It was a fun and relaxing weekend and Fredericksburg is definitely a place I would go back to.


I love Texas, and I thought for Spring, my  decor needed a little punch.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE my new pillow from The Home T.  I also have a t-shirt but the t-shirt has my home state of Rhode Island on it.  And while Rhode Island will always be my home state, Texas is my home and it has my heart. 


We had big plans for April.  Y'all already saw the picture from the night at the opera.  P had wanted to go for his birthday.  I took him to dinner and the opera and we had a great night.  I had one more trick up my sleeve though - German Chocolate Cake.  It's his favorite and despite my utter loathing of coconut, I will admit that it was pretty tasty.  #caramelmakeseverythingtastegood


The Mavericks made the playoffs!  And then lost in the first round.  Boo!  Maybe next year.   #GoMavs


P moved from Dallas to Las Colinas and is right on Lake Carolyn.  We have a new favorite running route and enjoy strolling around the lake as well.   #favoriterunningroute

May means the Vineyard Run and this year P ran the race too.  It was fun.  Perfect weather - blue skies, a light wind, not too warm, not too large a crowd.  So how did I do?


I shaved almost 5 minutes off my time from last year.  This has been my best finish ever.  If I hadn't walked part of the last hill I think I could have finished under 30 minutes.


It's been almost 2 years since my weight loss surgery.  For my new readers, if you're interested, my surgery story is over here.  In May of 2013, I was ~280 pounds and approximately a size 18/20.  I'm now a size 10 (at Loft at least).  I've got about 10 more pounds to go and I'll be at my goal point.  

In a few short weeks, P and I will be in Rhode Island.  My baby brother is getting married!  Waaah!!!  I'm excited for him and his bride-to-be, but I can't believe he's old enough to get married.  #whendidhebecomeanadult #lifemovestoofast #iloveagoodwedding #mybigfatitalianfamily  

That's life in Texas in a nutshell.  #crazybusywonderful

01 May 2015

Friday Fun

Who doesn't love a good trivia game?  What, just me?  In honor of the release of the new Avengers movie this weekend, how many of these can you get?

http://www.sporcle.com/games/starwars314159/assemble

My score: 22/28

How did you do?

30 April 2015

Thursday Recipe

Pinterest has  been my go-to site lately for meal inspirations.  I've found a few good ones.  I don't mind spending time on the weekend to prep and cook a dinner and have it take an hour or so.  During the week night?  No way.  Half an hour or less, please.  Here are a few dinner recipes I've made recently that have been Pinterest Wins.  So delicious, both P and I enjoyed these.  A word of note before I list the links for these recipes - a handful of them come from Shay at Mix and Match Mama.  If you haven't discovered her recipe blog yet, check it out.  She does Meal Planning Monday, and gives you meal inspirations for the week.  It takes a lot of the guess work out of dinner.

Now, without further ado, some winning recipes that we've enjoyed these last few weeks:

Chipotle Chicken Tostadas - Holy cow these were so so delicious and super easy.  You basically dump chicken and chipotle salsa in the slow cooker and let the slow cooker do the rest.  The shredded chicken from this recipe would make delicious filling for tacos, enchiladas, burritos, etc.

Sloppy Joes - Again, a huge surprise since I spent a large portion of my childhood thumbing my nose at sloppy joes.  Well, P happens to love them so I thought I would give them a chance.  These were oh so tasty.

Oven Chicken Risotto - Any recipe that calls for rotisserie chicken from the supermarket is A-OK in my book.  This recipe takes 30 minutes to make and satisfies that home cooked, Italian, comfort food craving.

Maple Dijon Chicken - I always keep the ingredients for this on hand.  Note - you have to use real maple syrup, otherwise the sauce won't set up properly.  Trust me, I learned this the hard way.

Try one of them, try all of them.  All of these have made it into permanent rotation in my house.  I hope you enjoy them too.

29 April 2015

What's Up Wednesday

Oh it's been forever - I know.  I know!  I'm sorry all.  Life in Texas has just been crazy, wonderful, busy, and I've just not really sat down to blog in so long.  So I thought with Shay and Shaeffer's What's Up Wednesday posts, I'd get back into the swing of things and start writing again.  So here goes...

What We're Eating This Week - Sunday I made buffalo chicken in the crockpot and last night P grilled some chicken and roasted sweet potatoes.  Tonight?  Hmmm, maybe leftover buffalo chicken.  Not sure about Thursday or Friday yet, but Saturday night we're hitting up Studio Movie Grill, so I know I'll be having the chicken nachos.   

What I'm Reminiscing About - I saw a TimeHop post yesterday about going on a first date and I remember that so clearly.  It wasn't with P, in case you're curious.  I remember the guy I dated.  He was smart and nice and we had fun together, but I knew he wasn't the one.  

What I'm Loving - I am over the moon at the thought that the Patriots are playing the Cowboys here in Dallas in October.  So excited.  Oh and it's baseball season again.  #GoRedSox

What We've Been Up To - Moving.  P moved to a new place last weekend.  It's really nice, better layout, bigger bathroom.  We spent the weekend moving and getting him all settled in.  We picked up our running routine again and have tried a couple of different routes around Lake Carolyn.  We've also been exploring the Las Colinas area too.  We also went to the opera.  We saw Iolanta.  It was great and in Russian.  P had never been and he really enjoyed it too.  Here we are all dressed up for a night at the opera:


What I'm Dreading - Not so much dreading, because it's one of my favorite events, but Commencement is in 2 weeks and it's a crazy, busy, hectic time.  It always ends up being a great ceremony, but it's a ton of work.

What I'm Working On - Blogging again.  Ha ha.  No seriously, in all honesty, just trying to eat better.   My weight has plateaued again.  I'm happy with my progress and where I'm at, but I'd like to lose 10-15 more pounds.  

What I'm Excited About - Oh so  many things.  Life is pretty great these days.  If I had to pick one thing it would be spending New Year's Eve in Las Vegas with P.

What I'm Watching/Reading - I need a new book to read.  I just finished Secret Lives of the Tsars and I'm about to wrap up Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking.  Maybe The Girl on the Train, I've heard really good things about that one.

What I'm Listening To - A lot of NPR on the way to and from work.  

What I'm Wearing - Specifically, today I'm wearing a navy blue Tahari dress and tan Bandolino heels.  Off work hours, it's jeans and tees or tanks.  Most are from Banana Republic.  We're also int Spring/Summer dress season so I've started to break out the pretty summer dresses and the sandals.

What I'm Doing This Weekend - P and I are doing the Vineyard Run on Saturday morning and we're seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron Saturday night.  Other than that we're looking forward to a low key weekend.

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month - My brother's wedding reception.  If there's one thing my family does well, it's a wedding. P is coming and he's never been to New England so I'm excited to show him the area.  And he gets to meet my crazy family.

What Else is New - In a few short weeks I will officially be a doctor.  I technically finished in December, but the degree will be awarded in May!

25 August 2014

Happy New Year!

Yes, yes, yes - I know, it's not January 1.  But for those of you who work in education, you know that the year really begins with the start of the fall term.  Today was the first day of classes at the institution where I work.  Also, the institution where I am finishing my dissertation.  Also, all of the school districts in the DFW area.  Back to school today for everyone.  It's been awhile, I haven't written, I've totally slacked off in this area.  I'm going to try to be better about writing going forward, but I can't make any promises.  So what's been going on?

1.  I successfully defended my dissertation proposal and I should be defending the full dissertation in late October.  Yikes!  I'm almost done.  I can't believe.  I still have a list of things to do to be finished, but I'm getting there.

2.  Getting more settled in my job.  I love my job.  I started last November at my new institution.  It's challenging and rewarding and I really like going to work every day.  Even now, when it's been so crazy busy and I'm trying to keep my head above water.  I love it.

3.  Entertained and traveled.  My parents, sister, niece, brother, and soon to be sister-in-law came to visit in May.  In June I hopped a plane and went home.  Both trips were fun.  I always wish I have more time and this time was no exception.

4.  Dated somebody.  And now it's over.  I mentioned some of our dates on facebook but I didn't give too much detail.  It's over now though and I feel okay talking about it.  I'm the one who decided to end it after all.  I don't think we were destined for long term anyway.  He wants kids, I don't.  Right there is a big red flag in terms of compatibility.  But I wasn't the one who needed to get moving in that direction, since my plan is to not have kids.  That wasn't the issue that made me re-evaluate where we were headed.  We had very different ideas about other things that we agreed were not conducive to a long term relationship so we parted amicably.  It was sad and I was disappointed, but because I'm not brokenhearted I know I made the right choice there. 

5.  I'm getting ready for my trip to Hawaii.  Yes - Hawaii!  Squee!!!!  I cannot even begin to describe how excited I am for this trip.  I booked a day trip to explore the island including stops at Pearl Harbor, the cultural center, and the Dole plantation.  Pineapples for everyone!  I also booked my luau dinner experience.  i have activities planned, but I also plan on spending plenty of time on the beach, relaxing and soaking up the sun.

6.  Ohio State vs. Michigan.  I hit the lottery - well, the alumni ticket lottery at any rate.  I've managed to land tickets to the OSU/Michigan game in November.  But it's Thanksgiving weekend and flights are outrageously expensive.  So I'm on the fence about going.  I know!  It's Ohio State/Michigan!  I need to go.  I'm so torn.

7.  My Weight Loss.  I'm down another few pounds.  I had plateaued for awhile so I decided to go back to Weight Watcher to help me with the last 15-20 pounds that I want to lose.  It's working, I've lost almost 5 pounds since I started back a couple of weeks ago.  I'm fine where I'm at, but I want to lose just a little bit more.  When I started this weight loss surgery journey 18 months ago I never had a number in mind - a final goal weight if you will.  What I did have in mind was a size.  For me, that's a size 12.  I'm currently a 14, so I'm almost there.  That last 15-20 pounds should get me there.

Here's to a new year! 

15 June 2014

I Go Back

Fifteen years ago I graduated from college.  I happened on Fairfield University completely by accident, but the moment I stepped on campus, I just knew.  I knew it in my bones that Fairfield was where I needed to go.  I had an amazing four years there.  I met some wonderful people and made friends for life.  This June was my fifteen year reunion.  There were some notable absences (Mary & Erin you were missed!!!), but it was fun weekend and it was so easy to slip into conversation with the people I went to school with.  Campus has changed a bit since I graduated, but it is still one of the prettiest campuses I have ever seen, and you all know that I have seen many many college campuses.  



 It was a jam-packed trip home that weekend.  I flew into Boston on Thursday and took the train down to Providence.  That night my sister and I had dinner with my best friend, Michaela.  We're all June babies, so we went out to celebrate - sans kids.  Adult beverages were consumed and we had a great time.  Friday I took off for Fairfield.  I was excited for reunion, but I also had some other people I wanted to meet.  Going back to my NEACURH days, I met a young man named Will Johnson my sophomore year of college.  He was a student at Northeastern and the president of their Resident Student Association. I met him through Kyle, who was the NEACURH director at the time.  Now I'm a tall girl, and Will has about a good 6 inches or more on me.  I remember after I won the bid to become National Chairperson.  I hadn't told anyone.  It wasn't public knowledge yet.  We were at UW LaCrosse and I saw him and the other Northeastern folks moving into their building for the conference.  I ran over to him to give him a hug and whispered that I'd won.  No word of a lie, he picked me up off the ground.  Nine years ago he started working at Fairfield so I've had the chance to check in with him from time to time.  It's always good to visit with him.  I can't believe we've come as far as we have.  So crazy!

After my visit with Will, I had lunch with Kathy.  Kathy is the mom of Bob and Lauren.  When I baby sat them, Bob was 4 and Lauren was 3.  Lauren just graduated from high school.  Sigh.  It was so great to catch up with her.  Kathy and I have corresponded through facebook but I hadn't seen her in 15 years.  Then it was on to the reunion.  We had a class event on Friday night and then a great family day outside on Saturday.  I got a little sun, of course.  They had food trucks and ice cream and music.  It was a nice way to spend the day.  I drove back to Rhode Island that evening because Sunday was shaping up to be a busy day.  Breakfast with the cousins, a visit to my dad's, lunch at mom's, dinner with friends, and then finally sleep.  For the first time on my vacation, I was able to sleep in Monday morning.  It was a nice, lazy day.  




The highlight of which was surprising this girl when I tagged along with grandma to pick her up from day care:


Tuesday was a travel day and praise the travel gods that Jet Blue was able to do a same day change and I was able to change my flight from the 7:30pm to the 1:40pm.  I was not enamored with the idea of landing back in DFW at 10:45pm and then getting up for work the next day at 5:30am.  Getting in at 5pm meant I had time to get settled and go to the grocery store before going to bed.  When I landed in DFW at 5pm, I got a notification that the flight I was originally supposed to take was not going to leave until 9:30pm.  That flight didn't end up getting in until after 1am!  Dodged a bullet on that one.  It was an action packed vacation, but a fantastic one nonetheless.  I was reminded how much charm Fairfield has.  I always love visiting.  I need to get back more (Megan, I promise it won't be 10 years before I see you again).  No more travel for awhile, not until October when I head to Hawaii...

08 December 2013

The Single Life

Dating is terrible.  And it's hard.  And tiring.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my life.  I've traveled all over the US.  I've lived in a lot of great places.  I have friends and a wonderful family.  I have a job that I really like (it's brand new, so I think it would be disingenuous to say "love").  I have a great apartment, family and friends nearby, and two sweet rescue kitties.  I'm about to finish my doctorate degree.  I have a lot to be thankful for.

I would still like to meet someone though.  And before you all jump in and say, "just wait, it'll happen in time".  Please know that I have been waiting for over a decade.  I think that's long enough to reasonably discredit that sentiment.  It doesn't always happen in time.  I've tried online dating with little to no success.  More recently I attended a match.com event.  This was actually kind of fun.  I met some nice people, painted a picture, had some wine.  I didn't meet anyone specifically at that event, but I'd definitely do it again to meet more people.  I've had less luck online only.  It's not that I don't reach out.  I'm not just waiting for guys to contact me.  The ones that do contact me do not at all meet any of the parameters I set in my profile.  I'm not being overly picky either - I promise.  The few parameters I do have - they don't meet them.  Or there are the ones like the guy who emailed me tonight who basically wanted a random hook-up.  Yeah, no.  Not going to happen.  I've had friends set me up - that hasn't really worked out either.

I will say, I can look at the bright side.  I know that I don't want to have kids so my biological clock isn't ticking and I'm staring down the barrel of the end of my child-bearing years.  I do think that my not wanting kids is limiting my dating options.  It eliminates the ones who don't have kids and definitely want them.  

There are things I'd like to do though and not be single when I do them.  I'd like to travel to Hawaii in 2014.  A gift to myself - for the weight loss and for the doctorate.  But I'd rather not go alone. 


31 October 2013

Happy Halloween

I love Halloween.  The costumes, the creepy music, the costumes, the movies - I love all of it.  My uncle introduced me to horror movies when I was a kid (it's been 30 years Uncle Chris, mom can't yell at you now).  We started with the Halloween series.  Granted, I watched most of it from behind my hands, but there is nothing quite like being deliciously scared to death, yet knowing you are completely safe at the same time.  Halloween will always be my favorite of the scary movies.  But there are plenty of others out there as well.  Here is a great montage I found on youtube.  Enjoy your Halloween and Be Safe!

 

Thank you all for joining me this month on my blog challenge for 31 for 21.  I didn't make it every day, but I got most of them in.  I hope you enjoyed following along.  Starting tomorrow I will be posting weight loss surgery items back on my other blog: http://nichole-myjourney.blogspot.com/.

Other items will continue to be posted here - for example, what I'm up to in Texas!  Happy Halloween all!