Thursday, March 31, 2011

She’s a trooper!

When I first met Georgia she had already lived in the house we now share for a few years.  The first time I came over to visit I remember thinking ‘this place has serious potential’.  Don’t get me wrong – the house was very nice and clean…it was just a total bachelorette pad!  The walls were white, the tile was beige, hardly anything was hanging on the walls and the rooms were pretty empty.  I remember laughing because even though the majority of the house was bare, the living room was equipped with a ridiculously large television…even bigger speakers and a pile of electronic devices.

Let’s just say that since my move in, the house has changed a bit.  Anyone that knows me well, knows that I love projects and I didn’t waste any time getting started with our pad.  About 3 months post move-in; I told Georgia that I thought it would be fun to add a little color to the walls.  Well, 3 years and many, many projects later here we are.  I really have to hand it to my wife, she gave me total freedom to do what I wanted and even got into it herself!  Following every big project we would do, whether it was the install of wood flooring, landscaping, or just the general redesign of room after room, she just let me keep going.  I say this in past tense because after our kitchen/bathroom remodel and the construction zone we now call a guestroom, she sat me down a few days ago and said “honey, do you think we could maybe take a Home Depot break for like 2 or 3 months after we finish the guestroom”?  Ha!  Poor lady! 

I of course, agreed under one condition…I told her that come June 1st, 2011 we are installing the storm door, the new fan and moving on to the countertops!  I know some may consider my endless adventures in home renovation annoying.  Luckily for me she doesn’t…because she’s a trooper!       

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Japan Relief: How to Help


On Friday March 11th a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit Japan.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock – this much you know.  What you may not know is that this was one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded.  Because of the sheer magnitude of the earthquake, a tsunami formed hitting the island nation of Japan causing an inconceivable amount of devastation to those in its wake.  As of today, it has been reported that more than 18,000 people have lost their lives while hundreds of thousands are now homeless.   


New Mexicans are so very blessed to live in a state protected by beautiful mountains.  For most of us, a windy day is what we consider bad weather conditions.  I think it’s easy for those that live in a safe place to forget how blessed they are to have running water, electricity and beautiful homes.  Watching the tragedy unfold in Japan over the past two weeks has reminded me to treasure my family, give thanks for the roof over my head and pray the victims and their families.    

While prayers are powerful – so are donations.  Below are a few ways in which you can help those affected by the earthquake and tsunami.  You never really know when you’ll be the one in need of a little help. 

AMERICAN RED CROSS: The American Red Cross is currently supporting and advising the Japanese Red Cross, which continues to assist the government in its response.  The American Red Cross has made it extremely easy to donate to the relief efforts.  Text: REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10.00.

GLOBALGIVING: Established a fund to disburse donations to organizations providing relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami.  To make donations online visit: www.globalgiving.org or you can text JAPAN to 50555 to donate $10.00.

SAVE THE CHILDREN Save the Children, which has worked in Japan since 1986, has an immediate goal of $5 million to launch longer-term recovery for children affected by Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Save the Children has opened the first child-friendly space in Japan, protective environments where children can gather to play and share their experiences under the supervision of trained, caring adults.  To donate visit: www.savethechildren.org

I believe in the good in people and I think that in most cases, it’s not that people don’t want to help – it’s that they don’t know what to do.  So if you are one of these people and you didn’t know how to help before…now you do.   

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Family Weekend

This weekend has been action (and family) packed and I’ve loved every minute of it.  For me and G, life can get pretty hectic.  Work weeks, housework, working out...it can feel all consuming at times.  It’s this craziness called life that often keeps us from having as much family time as I would like.  I thought about this as we drove home from grocery shopping today.  I thought about the fact that even though most of the family lives 20 minutes away, we often go weeks without seeing each other.  I think that’s what made this weekend so special!  


Our extended weekend began with a visit from George and Grace.  My pop-in-law was nice enough to come over and give us some help with the carpet in the guestroom.  George never fails to amaze me with how easy he can make the hardest jobs look.  In about 30 minutes he was in and out (and took the old carpet with him)!  I am so very grateful for all the support my in-laws give us.  I don’t know what we would do without them :)  

This weekend was Dom’s 32nd birthday so I swang by the house with a couple of cupcakes to get his weekend started – carrot cupcakes of course!  The boys were so cute.  I came by pretty early so the entire time I was there they were both running around in their shortes.  Ha!  It reminded me of when I was little.  Rudy is getting so big it’s unbelievable.  In just a few days he is going to be 10 YEARS OLD!  Devin had so much he wanted to show me.  The entire time I was there he was dragging me from room to room telling me stories.  Every time I come over he shows me every action figure he has each with an individual name.  It’s hilarious!     

We had a surprise party for Dom on Saturday night at Knucklehead’s Bar and Grill and we had a blast!  First off, thank goodness for Cousin Harold.  He reserved an area just for us, arranged cake service and waived the cover for about 30 people.  Thank you so much Harold!  Dom had no idea which made it that much better. He thought Angela was just taking him for a drink after dinner and when they walked in the band made a huge announcement on stage followed by all of us yelling SURPRISE!!!  I don’t think I’ll ever forget his face.  It made me so happy to see him so happy.  All of his closest friends and Cousins were there.  Domonic was in such a good mood he actually danced with my Mom and for those of you who know Dom; you know this is not an everyday occurrence.  In the past 10 years I’ve seen him dance twice…once at his wedding and once at mine. 

Our weekend ended with brunch and a little housework.  The living room carpet/rug arrived this weekend so we set that up.  Our casa is all tile and wood floors so I have been counting the days to feeling the soft cushion of carpet beneath my feet.  It was a great way to end a great weekend.  I love weekends like this.  I just love them.

We have carpet!  Can I get a woot, woot!


With all the craziness of getting the cake and decorations ready, I totally forgot my camera.  Thank goodness for the iPhone.  I was able to snap a few pictures and take some video.  They’re not the clearest pictures but they are captured memories all the same.  

Here’s a few ~ happy birthday brother.  We love you.









Wednesday, March 23, 2011

KitchenAid Creations ~ Banana Bread

In the Roybal house, we loves us some banana bread!  Luckily, our good friend Anthony is quite the baker and makes us a loaf every month or so.  Because Anthony has always delivered the goods, I’ve never really looked into making it.  That was until last week when I was getting ready to throw out a couple of very sad looking bananas.  Georgia noticed me making my way over to the trash and asked that I bake her some bread instead :) 


I used a recipe from my Betty Crocker Heart Healthy Cookbook.  I found it in the low fat section which was an added bonus!  I was able to round up all the ingredients without having to go to the grocery store and the whole process from beginning to end only took about 30 minutes.

So the next time you have some old bananas you’re ready to toss…make bread instead!

What you’ll need:


~ 1 ¼ cups sugar
~ ½ cup butter (I used the Bestlife brand – fewer calories)
~ 2 large eggs
~ 1 ½ cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 medium)
~ ½ cup low fat buttermilk   
~ 1 teaspoon vanilla
~ 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
~ 1 teaspoon baking soda
~ 1 teaspoon salt
~ 1 cup chopped nuts (I used planters lightly salted nuts)

* If using self-rising flour, omit baking soda and salt.

What to do:

1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in the center of the oven.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bottoms only of two 8x4 inch loaf pans with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, stir sugar and butter until well mixed.


3. Stir in eggs until well mixed.  Stir in bananas, buttermilk and vanilla.  Beat with spoon until smooth.  Stir in flour, baking soda and salt until moistened.


 4. Stir in nuts.  Divide batter evenly between 8 inch pans.  Bake 8 inch loaves about 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pans on stove top.


5. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up allowing bread to cool completely, about 1 hour before slicing. 


6. Wrap loaves tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.


Each slice is only 60 calories!  I sliced and bagged both loaves which made breakfast (for 2) for a week!  Sweet!    

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Perigee Moon

My mom is obsessed with the moon.  Since my days at the sorority house, each full moon, eclipse, anything moon related, I could count on getting a call from Mom.  She would ring me up to make sure I was planning to watch the sky and because of her I haven’t missed one yet!

As is customary, my Ma called yesterday to tell me to watch the sky because there was going to be a “super moon”.  I obviously had no idea what a super moon was so I did what I always do – I googled it!  It turns out that a “super perigee moon” is when the moon appears 30% larger than normal.  The moon isn’t actually changing size. It’s just appearing larger because it’s at the “perigee” point in its orbit around earth, the closest point in the orbit’s ellipses.  Apparently the last time this happened was back in 1992!  Cool stuff :)

Thanks for the heads up mamasita!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bucket List #15: The “Best of the City” Burger


The people have spoken!  This really was the best damn burger I’ve ever tasted!  Me, Georgia, my mom and Mike all ventured out to the ABQ Brew Pub Thursday to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  The motive for choosing this location was to begin work on my bucket list.  The pub was to my surprise, one of my mom and Mike’s favorite spots.  The place was of course packed with people wearing green head to toe.  There was this amazing group of bag pipers (I’m sure they have some fancy name…not sure what it is) that played for about 30 minutes which was pretty cool.  But enough about that – let’s talk burger.


Burger o’ burger, how I love thee!

So the waitress rolls up with this burger that was the size of a human head.  No joke.  I was expecting your typical run of the mill green chile cheese burger but man was I wrong.  That bad boy had tempura green chile, onions, pickles, chipotle sauce, tomatoes, bacon, lettuce and cheese – so much CHEESE!  I had to sit back and study if for a moment because I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to fit it in my mouth.  I decided to smash it down as much as I could, cut it in half and give half away.  It was of course delicious!  We all basically ate it together and everyone loved it.  It was juicy, cooked just right, spicy but not too spicy and full of flavor.  Attention all you burger lovers – go eat this burger.

One down…29 to go!


Here’s some video of the bag pipers ~


Hope you all had a great St. Patrick’s Day!    

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My 20-Something Bucket List!

I’ve been feeling very blah, blah lately and I can’t seem to shake it.  Maybe it’s because of the change of season…maybe its baby blues…maybe it’s just that I’m in a rut and need to do something exciting – who knows??  For the purposes of this post, I’m going to go with option 3.  Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to remedy this blah, blah situation, is to shake things up a bit.  I’ve decided to make a 20-something bucket list.  For those of you that may not know what a bucket list is – it’s basically a list one puts together, for any number of reasons, which details things that person must do in a set amount of time.  The only criteria I set in making my list was that each activity had to be something I could do in Albuquerque or within 500 miles of the city and everything had to cost no more than 100 bucks!  


I’m going to be 30 (yes 30!!) in a little over 7 months, so my 20-something experiences are very quickly coming to an end.  Don’t get me wrong – the past 9 years have been pretty awesome, but never the less, I feel the need to leave my 20’s with a bang!!!  Staying in line with my 30 theme, I’ve decided to do 30 things between now and October 25th, 2011. 

And now (in no particular order) may I present my BUCKET LIST:  Let the festivities begin :)

1.    Ride a mechanical bull
2.    Take a couples cooking class
3.    Go to the UFO museum in Roswell, NM
4.    Take a road trip to Denver
5.    Learn to say “hello” in 10 different languages
6.    Go to a play at the Vortex Theatre
7.    Plant a tree in the backyard
8.    Take an overnight fishing trip to Isleta Lakes & RV Park
9.    Try authentic Thai cuisine for the first time at Orchid Thai
10.  Take a CPR/AED/First Aid class
11.  Go to a car dealership and test drive my dream car
12.  Have a picnic in an ABQ park I’ve never visited
13.  Fill out an application at a fast food restaurant and see if I get an interview
14.  Take the Rail Runner up north to shop in Santa Fe
15.  Taste the “Best of the City” green chile cheeseburger at ABQ Brew Pub
16.  Go shooting at Calibers Sports Center
17.  Donate blood (this terrifies me…)
18.  Host a tea party at the St. James Tearoom
19.  Attend my first acupuncture session
20.  Go to dinner at the Luna Mansion in Los Lunas
21.  Visit the Petroglyph National Monument
22.  Take an Albuquerque Horseback Adventure Tour
23.  Make a baby!
24.  Try Indian food for the first time at India Palace
25.  Go camping in Penasco
26.  Once a week, eat lunch outside away from my phone and computer
27.  Visit my local public library
28.  Attend an Equality New Mexico event
29.  Go to a wine tasting and try wines I’ve never had before
30.  Buy a piece of turquoise at the NM Turquoise Museum

I can’t take full credit for making this list.  I had feedback and got lots of great ideas from family and friends!  Special thanks to my sis, G, Angela, Ma, Anthony, Kelley, Deanna, Susan and Kathleen for all of your great suggestions! 

Let’s hope I have some crazy stories and pictures to share over the next couple of months!       

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Crock Pot Cookin: Spicy Taco Soup


My crock pot adventures were born out of necessity.  When working roughly 45 hours a week, making dinner has always been the last thing I want to do when I get home.  When my day is done, I prefer to spend the evening working on DIY projects, reading, playing “Words with Friends” (I’m obsessed with this game), watching my favorite shows and spending time with G.  Notice making dinner is not on this list?!  The thing that initially attracted me to crock pot cooking is that there are endless recipes to make your own and with minimal prep – you have a meal! 

I love that it only takes me about 20 minutes or so the night before I bust out the crock pot, to get my ingredients together and plan dinner for the following day.  I started doing this around August of last year and I’m always working to cut my prep time.  One thing I started doing recently is to pour all my can goods, water, olive oil and whatever other liquids the recipe calls for in a large bowl the night before.  By doing this, I’m able to save the time it would take me to open all the cans, clean and recycle them as well as the time it takes to measure the liquid ingredients.  Yes, I know this only take about 10 minutes…but when it’s early in the AM and you’re rushing to get out of the house – 10 minutes is a lifetime!   

The funny thing is…I really do love to cook.  Just not during the week!

The goods ~


§  1lb. ground beef, browned
§  1 large onion, diced
§  1 (1.25 oz.) pkg. taco seasoning
§  1 can (16 oz.) can Red Kidney Beans with juice
§  1 can (16 oz.) white beans with juice
§  1 can (16 oz.) can whole Corn with juice
§  2 cans (28 oz.) diced tomatoes with juice
§  ½  cup salsa
§  ½ green pepper, diced
§  2 jalapenos (white or green)
§  2 cups water
§  Lean ground beef 

Directions:

1. In a medium skillet, cook the ground beef until browned over medium heat. Drain, and set aside.  I threw in a little sautéed garlic to add flavor :)



2. Dice your green peppers, jalapenos and onions.


3. Place the ground beef, onion, kidney beans, white beans, corn, water, diced tomatoes, green peppers, jalapenos, salsa and taco seasoning mix in a slow cooker. Season with garlic salt (optional).  Mix to blend, and cook on Low setting for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.


We garnished the soup with cheese and sour cream but you can also add diced black olives.  This soup goes great with baked garlic bread – enjoy!



DIY Update: we’re making SLOW but steady progress on the office/guestroom transformation.  I don’t think I realized how much time it would take to patch up the walls and primer everything…sheesh!  We will hopefully finish painting this weekend so we can work on pulling out the old carpet next week! 


I just realized that all the pics I take of our projects, G looks like she’s doing all the work!  I do help – I promise!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

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