Foodie Pen Pals: May

My trip to Charlotte yesterday was very successful. I met with my future boss and coworkers AND signed my lease for my new apartment. It still feels like I am playing dress-up when I put on professional clothes, but soon I think the reality will sink in (I start work in mid June, so maybe by July?). On the downside, my company has a fairly strict dress code and does not allow open toe shoes, which is sad because I love wedge sandals. Also it is just so hard to find comfortable pumps!

It’s time for another Foodie Pen Pals post!

Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean organizes this every month, and I just keep coming back for more :). Check out her blog for more information on how to sign up for June-it is open for both bloggers and readers!. Here are the links to my posts from March and April.

One of the best thins about this program is getting to try different healthy treats that I might never buy for myself. Brittany from beermeamartini sent me a crazy delicious package filled with cool foods that were mostly new to me. I love trying new things, so I was really excited to break open her package!

The whole spread

As you know from my need to organize tea bags, I love tea! So I am so excited to add peppermint to my collection. I have heard some people drink a glass at night to combat the urge to snack, which is something I definitely need to try. The granola was super crunchy and chock full of chocolate 🙂 definitely a win.

Other treats included:

These Good Bean granola bars were actually quite delicious! I don’t think I would have ever ventured to try them on my own.

These raw lemon cookies were a great find as well! The cookies were super crisp and just sweet enough.

I also devoured the toffee chocolate bar. yum 🙂

You can check out the treats I sent Anna this month

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins

I am headed to Charlotte again today to sign my lease and meet with a future coworker! Hopefully I will also figure out how to ride the light rail, who my boss will be, and if open toe sandals are appropriate (fingers crossed). I am excited everything seems to be coming together in my job/”real life.”

For breakfast I ate my newest baking creation: Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins.

This delicious muffin recipe is inspired by summer and all the abundant fruit! While it is not quite blueberry season in North Carolina, the grocery stores are packed with fresh berries. This lightly sweetened muffin is perfect for breakfast or a snack. If you want more of a dessert muffin, simply top muffins with a lemon glaze of lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins

makes 12

Dry 

1 cup Whole Wheat flour

1 cup White flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Wet

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

3 Tbsp. water (may need more if you are using fresh berries)

1 tsp. lemon juice

Mix-in

1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or thawed and drained (I used frozen)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the wet and dry ingredients separately. Add the wet to the dry; try not to over mix. Fold in the blueberries. Bake for 18-22 minutes.

May Book Club: Still Missing

It is time for the May book club review, organized by Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers.

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

The book is narrated by Annie O’Sullivan through her therapy sessions. Two narratives emerge and finally intertwine in the last sessions. The first narrative involves her capture and containment in a remote mountain cabin for a year with her abductor. The second is her path to overcoming her fears, rebuilding relationships, and untangling the mystery of why and how she was targeted by her captor. By focusing on Annie’s point of view, the book illustrates the raw pain and difficulties of surviving such trauma. Both the past and present meet in the final chapters, which are full of dramatic twists with a satisfying, yet horrific ending.

Overall the novel is very abrupt and raw. I thought it provided an accurate picture of the lingering psychological effects of abductions that is rarely seen. Throughout the novel Annie protests the invasive media attention she received from surviving the abduction, and deprecates the millions of people are entertained by her extremely painful experiences.

Annie is not an easy character to like; she is abrasive, scarred and bitter. But I was able to understand how much her capture had damaged her and admire her desire for survival.

The beginning of the book was very violent and abrupt as Annie describes her capture and first weeks in captivity. It was too explicit and gruesome for me to enjoy, and I skimmed through a lot of her first disturbing experiences. However, after the initial violence and sadism I was able to learn more about her captor and the childhood experiences that shaped him into the person he became.

The conclusion of the novel kept me totally engrossed in the book. The last chapters were a deluge of sudden discoveries about different characters and situations. As much as I enjoyed the entertainment of the conclusion, it also made me feel guilty for being as interested in her pain as the people who read the tabloid and news stories about her.

This book is not a beach read for sure, but it was a very intriguing and horrifying thriller.

I am looking for a good beach read for next weekend, any suggestions?

Now I need to do the Strong Core Challenge workout (from Monday…) organized by Kara Runs! It only takes 16 minutes, and will hopefully get my abs ready for the cruise in a couple weeks.

Key Lime Pie Smoothie

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope most people are able to take a little break and catch some rays today 🙂

I just got back from a short run, and will hopefully be spending the rest of the day chilling by the pool with Perry and his family. it’s rare for Perry to have a holiday off, so we are going to enjoy this extra time together before he goes back to school.

Before I head out, I am going to sipping on a Key Lime Pie Smoothie to fulfill my morning protein needs. It is so light and fresh, with the smooth creaminess of key lime pie. The lime juice and sweet whey powder create the perfect tart balance. I love that the oats mimic the crust and provide some extra fiber. You could also throw in a handful of spinach to get a bright green color, and some added nutrients!

KEY LIME PIE SMOOTHIE

Ingredients

1 cup almond milk

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 frozen banana

2 Tbsp instant oats

1 scant Tbsp Lime juice

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (whey gives the sweetest creamy taste)

Directions: Add the oats to the almond milk and let sit in the blender for a few minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

Also, chicken coop update:

The boyfriends (Perry and David) helped us tremendously (in part because they are both over 6 feet tall) in constructing the chicken pen yesterday.

Perry helping put on the wire roof

David holding up the roof beam

Claire and my dad put the finishing touches and screen door on this morning.

Now we just have some little touch ups to do before it is totally completed!

Weekend Warriors

Instead of heading to the beach, my family decided to use this Memorial day weekend to get some work done on building a new chicken pen.

I started off the day with my favorite three ingredient crepes topped with apple chunks and dried cherries.

I promise there are crepes under all of the toppings…

Then we got to work on the new pen. Perry and one of Claire’s friends came over to help the work go faster. The  pen we currently have is mostly just chicken wire draped around some poles, topped with netting. It is very cumbersome to open and taller people have to crouch down once inside because of the height of the netting.

Perry and my dad teamed up to saw wood pieces

and dig post holes

The chickens were very curious about what was going on outside of their pen

Inside the garage, the girls worked on staining the boards.

At the end of our work day, the pen had not changed much-but a lot of work had been done!

Today we are working on it some more and hopefully will have more visible changes to report 🙂

Tea Bag Organization

This past week I have been unpacking, purging, shopping, and repacking. It’s amazing how much stuff I have accumulated in only four years of living in dorms and apartments. There are several items that I have WAY too many of because I love/use them so much that I’ll pick up more without even thinking whether I actually need more. Including:

sticky notes/note pads in general

Scotch tape (and it’s generic counterpart)

travel size toothpaste

and tea!

Instead of packing up the 7 or so half filled boxes of tea, I searched around the internet to find a storage solution. Apparently The Container Store sells a specially designed Tea Bag Storage Container! I guess I am not alone in my teas storage woes. However, I was not quite willing to pay $12 for a plastic box so I got creative and repurposed a large tupperware container.

Ta-Daahh!

I can fit about 75 tea bags in the container. Sadly, it does not fit everything; but the box eliminated about five tea boxes. I love that I can see all of the bags and they are easily accessible.

I deem it an overall success!

Greek Chicken Kabobs

Summertime makes me want to cook outside more often…Actually that’s a lie. Summertime makes other people want to grill and then they post their pictures on pinterest. Sometime when I am wistfully drooling over their delicious looking food, I remember that we have a grill and I should use it.

Prevention magazine had a recipe for Grilled Greek Salad Skewers this month, which inspired me to do something similar. I used feta for the photos but it kept crumbling all over the grill, so I would not recommend trying to cook it. However, I did like the flavor, and would suggest crumbling some cheese over the cooked chicken and vegetables after grilling.

Greek Chicken Kabobs

adapted from Grilled Greek Salad Skewers

makes 5

1 chicken breast (6 oz), cut into 1 inch cubed

1 14 oz. can of artichokes

10 pitted kalmata olives, halved

10 cherry tomatoes

Thread the above ingredients on soaked kabobs. Spray with cooking oil before grilling, grill for 4 minutes on each side. I tried to keep the internal heat around 350.

Serve on top of a salad or with toasted bread.

I am off on a mini road trip with my mom. Hopefully we can make time to stop by some outlets. All of this graduation money is burning a hole in my pocket, and I am dying for a linen blazer and other summery work clothes.

Also, are brightly colored pencil skirts professional? My office is pretty formal, and I don’t want to bust out a brilliant orange skirt when everyone else is in black, white, and light blue. But how cute is this skirt from Ann Taylor?

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