Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday Meals

My first year in DC, I lived primarily on lean cuisines, pizza and take out Thai food. I had never really cooked before, and didn't really feel like I had the time to learn. A new job, a new city, and trying to make new friends made my time in the kitchen minimal. Then I moved in with little Lanie, and I was inspired by her ease at the stove and the wonderful smells that filled our apartment. I decided to try my hand at simple dishes (pasta), and gradually worked my way up (pasta and chicken).

Being back in Abilene, where I have the ability to drive to and fro the grocery store and can actually buy more than I can carry, I try to cook a few meals every week. They're usually a random mixture of everything I have in the fridge that is about to go bad, but sometimes I throw together something that's actually decent. So I'm going to try to post a new recipe here every Monday, even if it's a recipe I ripped off borrowed from another blog or Pinterest. The inaugural post: Turkey and Black Bean BBQ Stuffed Sweet Potato (the name needs work...)


-favorite BBQ sauce
-crushed red pepper
-chopped parsley
-1 can black beans
-sweet potato
-minced garlic (duh)
-1/2 pack of ground turkey (or beef or chicken)
-colby jack shredded cheese (or your favorite)

Poke the sweet potato all over with a fork and bake at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes. While it's baking, heat oil in a pan and add garlic, crushed red peppers and onion. Brown the turkey and then add the spinach. Once the spinach is wilted, add black beans. Sprinkle parsley to taste, then add BBQ sauce. I added a lot because I love it, but any amount will do.

Once the potato is done, cut it open and smash the insides with a fork. Add a spoonful (or two) of the turkey BBQ mix and mix with the sweet potato innards.

Sprinkle your favorite cheese over the top and voila!!

Have a favorite sweet potato recipe? Or BBQ recipe? I'd love to hear it. Please share in the comments! 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Well, guys, I'm happy to announce that I will be spending another summer in beautiful Paris! After I got back last summer, as is customary in my life, I was already ready to go back to Europe. Although I had a brief stint there before and after Kilimanjaro, it wasn't enough. It is never enough. I applied to be a fellow in the writing program I did last summer, and lo and behold, I got it! I'm not sure if it's because of my awesome writing skills or because they were running low on applicants, but here I find myself: planning another July in the City of Light.

I cannot predict how this summer will change me, inspire me and brighten my spirit, just like it did last year. It will be different; I won't have the amazing friends I made last year, some professors are not coming back, and I won't live in that lovely apartment near Notre Dame, but I know it will be just as scintillating. In the next few months, I look forward to brushing up on my French, polishing my walking shoes (can you polish sandals?), and honing my best tour guide voice.

What happens in Paris, stays in Paris, except when you have a blog and love writing about your experiences. And I can't wait to share them with you all.

We all hated wine. Just look at that table. 

Monday, April 21, 2014


On Saturday, after a half day of work and a trip to Sonic, I headed out of Abilene and down to my grandparents' house in Marble Falls. I love driving down to Marble by myself, especially when I've got good music on the radio, a large Diet Dr Pepper in the cup holder, and the prospect of a fun weekend with family ahead of me.

Usually around this time in the Hill Country, there are thousands, millions, of bluebonnets dotting the side of highways. You know its spring in Texas when ten or 15 cars are lined up in a lush field of bluebonnets to take photos of their kids or grandkids. We used to do that too, but I remember a particularly awful time in a field of bluebonnets when I stepped in an anthill and didn't know it until I had ants crawling up my tennis shoes and jeans. My skin crawls right now just writing about it. 

But I digress. Unfortunately this year, there weren't many bluebonnets because we've been so light on rain. So I got to exercise my imagination and pretend like there were blue fields that stretched to the horizon, among the red Indian paintbrushes and a white flower I had never seen before. 

This is what I had in mind... (Source)

I got to Marble around 6:15, and the weekend was already in full swing. My grandmother, mom and aunts were in the kitchen cooking a very ambitious meal of Mexican food, and the men were sitting around drinking and talking. I poured myself a glass of wine and sat down to chat, happy to finally relax after a long day.

Literally the cutest basket of eggs I've ever seen.

After a delicious meal of Pinterest-inspired food (my granny is obsessed with the Pinty..), we sat out on the deck and enjoyed the cool evening. I hadn't seen some of my cousins in a while, and it was good to catch up. 

While I always love going to church on Easter Sunday, we gave it up to spend more time with my brother who drove in from Corpus and had to get back early to study. After another delicious home-cooked lunch of ham, hash brown casserole, broccoli, and rolls, it was time for him to depart. 

Easter, also known as the day Dad learned to photobomb.

We followed shortly after, and this time I had company on the way back: ol' mama bear. Three hours was plenty of time to rehash the short weekend, talk about upcoming plans and things we want to do, and sip on another Sonic drink.

We got back and ordered a pizza (my diet starts tomorrow..) and watched a little TV. All in all, a lovely weekend with family, laughs and love.

I hope your Easter was great!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

I'd like to say that I haven't written in a while because I was off doing fabulous things in fabulous places with fabulous people. Well, you could actually say that depending on your definition of "fabulous."

My darling bro moved back to Abilene last week for a few months before his next venture. It's fun to have him in town, and I'm looking forward to him being here for a while.

We decided to go to a baseball game last Friday night at Dixie Little League, and it shook up all sorts of memories. I had been thinking about Dixie a lot lately; the two women I work with have sons that play there. Although, to tell the absolute truth, I've been really craving a Dixie burger and their delicious fries. We got there for the 8 o'clock game and it looked exactly the same. Kids running around, the griddle hissing and the smell of french fries mixing with the smell of cut grass.

We waited one million hours to get our food, so we sat up on the top level of the stands, and noticed how small all the kids on the field looked. They're still trying their best, intent on getting a hit and ignoring the signs posted on the fence that say "Remember, It's Just a Game." (Some parents do a good job of ignoring that sign, too, if I'm being real honest.)

Finally our food was ready, and we chowed down. We decided to "share" some fries, which really means that he eats three or four, and I devour the rest. Sorry, not sorry. The burger tasted exactly like it used to, delicious, almost sweet. I remembered one time, years ago, when I dropped half of my burger in the dirt and was nearly in tears because it was so good and I had ruined it. It feels like most of my summers were spent at Dixie, either watching my brothers play or over on the sandy playground with my friends, trying to talk to boys and be cool, and failing miserably.

A place can be so familiar, even if you haven't been there in years. Dixie will always hold a special place in my heart, like somehow it was important or helped shape me into who I am...Then again, like the sign says, it's just a game, and it's just little league. Maybe I simply enjoy eating a good burger outside on metal grandstands, chomping on fries, and feeling a little Abilene wind blowing through my hair.

I took a picture of the fries, but it was too dark to see them. Trust me, they were delicious.