Saturday, October 23, 2010

Little Ones

If you know me at all, you know that I absolutely love kids - of all ages. Growing up, I couldn't wait until I was old enough to babysit, and was thrilled to death when a young mother would let me hold their new baby. I've worked in the nursery at church as long as I can remember. In fact, I beg our nursery director to put me on the rotation during the few weeks we're home each year. And Ryan and I loved helping with our children's church program for a couple years. Since we moved down to Grenada, I've missed my regular interaction with little kids. Not to mention that several of my close friends have had babies while I've been gone. (Don't worry, I require regular picture updates from them.)

A few days ago, I found out that I will have the opportunity to spend time several days a week with a beautiful 12-week old baby girl! One of Ryan's MPH professors saw him on campus last week and asked if I'd be interested in babysitting her daughter. Not only will I get to love on a little one again, but this is extra special because I was able to help with her baby shower back in June. This will also provide a little extra income for us which will help with our grocery bill and other expenses. The Lord has provided for us above what I could have imagined!

Speaking of kids, Ryan and I met the funniest little boy at the grocery store this morning. We were standing at the entrance to the shopping center where we could wait for the bus in the air conditioning. It's always good when the milk hasn't spoiled by the time we get home just from sitting out in the sun. The bus schedule is apparently just a suggestion for the drivers, as the bus may or may not show up on time.

While we were waiting, this little 6 or 7 year old boy came up to the window and mouthed to me that the bus was coming. I smiled and told him thank you, and Ryan and I gathered our bags and started walking towards the door. Before we could get there, though, he came running in and said, "The bus isn't coming - I tricked you! I'm a good tricker!" Of course, he loved the attention and the fact that we thought he was funny and proceeded to repeat the "trick" several more times. He was so engaging and friendly. He told me all about first grade and how he likes it, but would rather not have to go to school. I wish I had had my camera with me today! When the bus eventually came, he opened the door for us and waved good-bye. I love how just talking to a child for a couple minutes can brighten your whole day!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Roasted Pear-Honey Salad

I have to share with you this amazing recipe I found for a roasted pear salad. It comes from a salad cookbook given to me last year as a Christmas gift by one of my sisters. I happened to find bleu cheese at the grocery store this weekend, and had the other ingredients on hand. Pears have not traditionally been one of my favorite fruits. But I am now in love with roasted pears! In fact, there are quite a few fruits and vegetables that taste infinitely better after being roasted.

Begin by peeling and coring the pears. Cut them in half, and place them cut-side down on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Roast them in the oven for about 25 minutes. Then, turn them over, and drizzle with a little honey. Put them back in the oven for about 5 more minutes.

I combined balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and tossed the vinaigrette with baby spinach. After topping the greens with a roasted pear half, I sprinkled the salad with bleu cheese crumbles and toasted walnuts.

I would never have thought to combine those ingredients together, but I sure am glad someone else did! The flavors were perfectly matched. Not only will I be making this again, but I am also searching for more recipes to try with roasted ingredients.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Newly Knit

As much as I am loving my new hobby, I realized today that I haven't picked up a pair of knitting needles in over a week! Looking back, I'm not sure what has kept me so busy. It's probably due to the fact that after I complete something, it takes me several days (and several tries) to find a new pattern and the corresponding yarn for my next project. Originally, this was because I wanted to be sure I made something that I loved and not waste my yarn on an item I wouldn't use. However, I am quickly coming to terms with the fact that it's okay to rip out a project if it doesn't turn out correctly. My biggest problem recently has been finding yarn in my small collection that matches the patterns I want to make. I'm getting better at adjusting the pattern to work with certain yarns, but I have also come to the realization that some yarns are just not meant to work with certain patterns and am better at giving up the fight rather than forcing the issue.

In spite of all that, I have completed a couple projects recently - 2 pairs of baby shoes and an adult-sized hat. Obviously, I have a thing for baby shoes. The first pair was a simple gray shoe with cross-over straps. It is meant to match the gray beret I made a couple months ago. I love this pattern because there are so many variations possible - single strap, no strap, flower on top, coordinating color on the sole - I think I may have just decided on my next project!

Next, I had found a pattern months ago for these adorable baby loafers. I kept postponing the project because the pattern called for several techniques that I had not yet learned. Eventually, I decided to give it a try. After watching quite a few online tutorials, I began. As it turns out, this was an extremely quick pattern to knit. And I'm looking forward to applying my new-found skills to some other projects I had put on hold. I used a super soft yarn in a deep denim heather color.

I used the same dark blue yarn for a slouchy hat with an interesting eyelet rib pattern. The hat was very easy to knit and is quite soft. Unfortunately, it's a little too big for me. Ryan said he thinks my head might be on the small side. So I'm hoping that it fits one of my sisters or cousins who have long, thick hair.

I am now inspired to create a few more projects that are adult-sized. Maybe some scarves or hats or even a sweater will follow. Either way, I look forward to learning and creating new items in the weeks ahead.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kitchen Improvisations

This week I was determined to find a new recipe I could make since I haven't done that in a little while. My good friend, Karen, sent me a recipe a few days ago for Mahi Mahi wrapped in bacon with lemon mayonnaise. Hard to imagine anything tasting better than that! I didn't have any fish or bacon on hand, but I was fortunate enough to have some fresh chicken breasts in the refrigerator. Using Karen's recipe for inspiration and with other ingredients I had on hand, here is the result.

I breaded the chicken breasts in seasoned bread crumbs, garlic powder, and basil mixed with a little melted butter. While the chicken baked in the oven, I peeled and boiled potatoes and made a salad of fresh spinach, grapes, green onions, and caramelized walnuts - one of our favorites! After the potatoes were cooked, I mashed them with a little bit of sour cream, Colby and Monterrey Jack cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Next, I made a sauce for the chicken by combining a couple spoonfuls of mayonnaise, a splash of lemon juice, ground pepper, garlic powder, and a pinch of dill. We had a couple pieces of cornbread leftover from earlier in the week to complete the meal. I loved the zesty mayonnaise combined with the chicken and garlic mashed potatoes. It was a light, but flavorful dinner, and Ryan asked that it be put on the regular rotation - always a good sign!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Perfect Weekend

Today I had a flashback to the days when I was in school or working 50 hours a week. During those times, the weekend was a welcome break - a respite from the busyness and monotony of the week. But since I quit my job in January and moved to the Caribbean less than a month later, I have trouble keeping track of the days because each one is an opportunity to visit the beach, watch a movie, read a book, experiment with a new recipe, or take a nap if I so choose. I guess you could say every day is a weekend for me!

Unfortunately, the opposite is true for Ryan. The weekend provides little relief from the constant studying for him. Apart from Sunday church (which is never optional for our family), you will find him in the library every day of the week. Except for this weekend. For two perfect days, we have felt like we were on vacation. Ryan completed his midterm exams last week. So until classes start again on Monday morning, he is able to enjoy a real weekend with me.

The fun started Friday evening when we met some of our friends and enjoyed delicious Thai cuisine at a fabulous resort near the airport. Neither of us knew that place existed, but it's definitely a new favorite! A couple guys volunteered to pick us up, so this is us waiting on campus for our ride:

Earlier in the day, I baked a chocolate cake for Ryan to celebrate the end of midterms. We ended the evening by enjoying a (perfectly-sized) piece of cake and watching a baseball playoff game.

Saturday morning we had planned to go out for breakfast and then head to the beach. But when we woke up, we were greeted by a cool, rainy morning. So we left our beach towels and sunscreen at home and took a bus to a little breakfast place we've been wanting to try. The restaurant is just down the street from IGA and a block away from the beach. When we walked in the door, we were greeted by the smell of freshly-made coffee. The little diner felt very cozy with no more than 5 tables in the main area, and the cheerful decor, brightly painted walls, and friendly waiter immediately made us feel at home. We sipped hot coffee while we perused the extensive breakfast menu in front of us. Finally, we ordered a veggie omelette, cream cheese-stuffed French toast with strawberries, hash browns, and pancakes. The food was simple but flavorful, and we enjoyed a couple hours of uninterrupted time together.

Back at home, we spent the rest of the afternoon watching college football together. Around 7pm, we went to the gym and biked for over 30 minutes. We decided it's a good thing we don't work out together every day because we are both a little competitive. After a quick shower, I was able to talk to my mom and sister for quite a while before making nacho dip for our late-night snack.

This evening, Ryan took some pictures around the island while I relaxed at home and watched football. He surprised me and brought KFC home for dinner! For some reason, I had been craving fried chicken and biscuits for a few weeks now. KFC is one of only 2 American restaurants on the island. The food was as yummy as I had hoped, and I will work out extra hard at the gym this week to make up for it.

Monday is back to our normal routine. I am very aware of the fact that I haven't tried a new recipe for the last couple weeks, and I'm hoping to remedy that very shortly. With Ryan's study schedule, I usually run to the grocery store by myself. I definitely don't mind that, but I can't carry as much home with me as I would like when that happens. Friday morning, I pushed the limit and you can see the mark on my shoulder where the grocery bag rubbed it raw. (I bought a large, reusable shopping bag at Marshall's when I was home and use this to carry the majority of my groceries home.)

I completed a couple more knitting projects recently and look forward to sharing those with you this week. On Monday morning, Ryan starts another couple months of intense studying. As our weekend draws to a close, I am thankful for the fun, relaxing couple days Ryan and I enjoyed with each other. But I'm just as grateful for the regular weekdays because each one brings us one day closer to Christmas break, and ultimately the completion of medical school.
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