Thursday, December 27, 2012

Refridgerator Oatmeal and other fun facts.

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas and is getting the chance to catch up with family, friends, and sleep between the holidays!

Like everyone, I'm always running late in the morning. Really, I'm always running late. It's gotten worse as I've gotten older, and though I make a concerted effort to be timely to important events, I can't predict the time I'll arrive at work. It's anywhere between 8 AM and 8:45 AM. It's acceptable, and I like to partly blame the metro, but still. It's sort of a problem. Maybe that'll be my resolution.

In the meantime, I'm forced to skip an even half-decent brekky and generally grab a pouch of instant oatmeal on the way out the door. Yes, this means I eat my oatmeal without milk or water, and straight out of the pouch. It has disgusted most of my roommates. Alternatively, if I have a couple minutes, I pour milk over the same pouch of oatmeal and eat it cold. I think most of my roommates have found this most disgusting. I started asking for my oatmeal served like that at a very young age, like four, and have no idea what prompted it, and neither does my mother. I'll occasionally pop it in the microwave, but that requires ten extra minutes that I never have in the morning.

My friend, Kate, found a recipe for refrigerator oatmeal and was raving over it, so I thought I'd give it a try. That was months ago. Literally August. I have no idea why it took me until December to actually try this. I had the half-pint mason jars and plastic lids, but worked myself up to believe that these would be difficult to make, but that is not the case at all. These could not be easier. It's a matter of measuring ingredients and dumping them in a jar. I made brekky for 12 mornings in under an hour. Magic.


Refrigerator oatmeal, and apple cinnamon refrigerator oatmeal, at that. 
Originally from here

Ingredients:

I made 12 jars, and was so impressed by how little I used of each item, that I'm listing that after the standard ingredient. I'm just in awe.

  • 1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned oats (I used less than a container)
  • 1/3 cup skim milk (I'm sure this could be substituted for your preference)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt (I used five 6 oz containers)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of chia seeds (I hoarded these after a few unsuccessful gathering attempts at Whole Foods, apparently they're all the rage, so I have enough of these to last an apocalypse)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of honey (I started eye-balling this because measuring honey is a sticky situation, pun intended)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened (I bought those little cups that are perfect to add with lunch, the 4 oz size. I used six of them in making 12 jars of brekky. I ran a little short on the last and topped it off with a big container of applesauce. Next time, I don't think I'm going to fret if it's sugar free or not)

Directions:

Layer in the ingredients, mix a bit, refrigerator, and enjoy. I also froze a few to last a little longer.


The site has a bunch of recipes, but the amount of applesauce I had on hand matched perfectly to the number of jars, so I didn't get a chance to try out the others. Kate says the blueberry is her favorite though, while I'm a huge fan of the apple cinnamon, even after eating it for breakfast four days in a row.


I love that it gives me an easy, wholesome breakfast, with much more protein than I would normally take in with my vegetarian and poorly supplemented diet. I'm also looking for ways to trick myself into eating greek yogurt for that reason, too, and I can't taste it in here. Perfect. This recipe is all over Pinterest. Has anyone tried any other flavors? Has anyone created their own new flavors? Please share, if so. I'm really thinking I could do this for the rest of my life, but apple cinnamon probably won't cut it forever. I'm in love with its health benefits, convenience, and when a batch can get me through two weeks, it's a minimal effort to start. It's cheap, too! I made twelve in what I approximate to be under $10. Sing it with me: these are a few of my favorite things! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Cinnamon Chip Cookies.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I'm spending the holiday with family in England, so I may be a bit delayed on posts and whatnot as we spend time together and do some exploring. Also as I catch up on sleep and try to get on the schedule here. It's been much more difficult this time around than in the past. I wish you and your family a very restful, peaceful, pleasant, and very happy holiday season filled with friends, family, fun and food. 

I meant to share this recipe before the holiday began, but I guess it's better late than never. I found cinnamon chips a few years ago, during my time as a janitor and when I was cleaning the Home Economics classroom. Random aside - I was a janitor for two summers. The school district from which I graduated had a program where they hired college kids for the summer to assist in the summer cleaning. I was dreading going back to Dairy Queen, my high school job, one summer, and my mum found this janitorial job, and it was the best ever. It was a guaranteed forty hours a week, and had built in nap time because it was a union job and the crew took regular breaks. The college kids used the breaks for naps in the nurses office. Maybe I shouldn't have told you that - but that was years ago. That, and we're talking about cookies.


This recipe is from the back of the bag of cinnamon chips. I rarely find the cinnamon chips. I found them the summer I found them in the Home Ec closet at Giant Eagle, the local grocery store, but couldn't find them again for maybe four years, until I just spotted them at Wal-Mart, and hoarded stocked up on five bags. It kind of made me like Wal-Mart a little bit. I'm still not a fan, though. Let that be clear. 

These cookies are good, but not typical. You could probably figure that from the rareness of the cinnamon chips, though. They're not overly sweet, chewy, and very different. I enjoy them, but they're not the type of cookie that everyone jumps on and tries to gobble. I personally prefer that because it means more for me. That's not really in the Christmas spirit.

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Recipe by Hershey

Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 10 oz cinnamon chips
  • 3/4 cup raisins

See, the cinnamon chips look creepy, but I promise they're tasty.
  • Beat butter, brown sugar, sugar in bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking soda. Stir into butter mixture. Add in oats, cinnamon chips and raisins. The dough will be tough.
  • Drop by spoonful onto a cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned.
  • Makes about 4 dozen, which is a lot for a standard bag of chocolate chips, I feel. A bargain!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Simple Christmas.

Christmas is so busy with buying presents, baking cookies, celebrating with friends, and preparing for the end of the world the new year, that I wanted to keep the wrapping simple this year. I also knew the presents would be doing some traveling, so the intent was to deliver them in one wrapped piece, keeping the corners and contents secret.


I opted for brown packing paper, of which I had plentiful quantities thanks to an Amazon prime addiction and packing supply hoarding tendencies. I picked up a pack of ribbon from Hobby Lobby for $2 to adorn the tops, and I was all set.


Using a bit of metallic cardstock that I swiped from Mum's stash, festive stickers that I picked up in January on major clearance, a glue pen and glitter, I made individual gift tags. These weren't that difficult and any verbiage would complicate what is evident in the pictures, so I'll stop there and defer to my card making posts under the "cards" link in the Tags on the right side of the page.


The presents almost feel a bit vintage, which I'm really liking right now. I'm most excited just to give them though; I'm near my bursting point! I'm that annoying person that's constantly asking if another would like to open their present. I'm always sure the answer will be an emphatic "YES!" and am always sorely disappointed when anyone on the receiving end lays out their rational points about waiting until Christmas Day, finishing present shopping altogether, or otherwise. We're almost there though, and then they can't say no.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bunking down a trunk.

That title might not make sense. It was making sense in my head, like a trunk bunking at the bottom of my bed. I really don't know if the explanation even makes sense, let alone my attempt at a clever work play. So glaze over that.

While I was home for a weekend a while ago, my sister and I were cleaning the garage in an attempt to fit two cars into the two car garage. That seems semi-ridiculous, but the second garage spot is in a constant state of fluctuation based on the time of year and if my sisters or me are between apartments. As of August, Veronica was moving to England to live with Dad, so the second garage spot was out of commission and could have furnished an entire apartment. Veronica held a garage sale to turn a profit on a majority of her large items, but held the trunk aside for me, as I had been on the hunt for a steamer trunk.

Then I forgot about it, until this weekend. Thankfully, Stephanie is a "doer" and upon seeing the trunk exclaimed, "Do you want this trunk? SOLD! For the low, low price of FREE!" and popped it in my trunk. I don't even think I blinked.



It's not an authentic trunk, but it's pretty and the price was very right. It's in good condition, too, except for a missing lock and a hanging hinge, but that only adds to the charm. The alternatives I was looking at at the weekly Saturday Alexandria farmer's market were starting at $350. I could only gaze at them lovingly while flinching in pain at that price. Free compliments me and my room nicely.

At the end of my bed, it adds a nice platform to catch my mail, which was previously just tossed on the floor.



It also helped to rationalize my purchase of trays, like this white lacquered one I picked up for about $13 at West Elm. Currently, it holds my reindeer, Rhonda, named for my mother when I was young, and Veronica has the male version, appropriately named Rick, a Nate Berkus for Target urchin, which Stephanie generously hunted down in Kentucky after my unsuccessful attempts in Virginia. I learned that the reindeer is actually a relict of Hallmark from the 80's, thanks to pinterest. So maybe if I keep it long enough, I'll make it big, unlike my hopes with Beanie Babies.



Inside I have extra blankets, which are unfortunately not on my bed because it's still so warm, candles, a hoarding obsession that I'm trying to curb but they make the trunk and blankets smell so good, and pillows, which are not pictured because you would see nothing else with them jammed in there.



Also on top is my advent calendar. I suppose it's a little late for a non-sponsored plug, but how cute is this? The chocolate is nothing to write home about, not that anyone really writes home anyway, but the pictures are awesome. It might be a cute thing to string together, in proper order so as not to confuse, for a kid's room.



We're talking about the trunk, though. It added an interest piece to my room that was previously standard furniture, and mostly Ikea pieces at that. Read: straight lines and blending into the builder white walls. Maybe that was just my floating side tables, though. I'm waiting for the perfect bedside tables to hit me in the face, and welcoming it, at that. So thank you, Veronica - I seal-clapped.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday help.

Similar to last year, I wanted to make a package for the homeless man that lives next to my office at work. This is a couple months later than last year, but I hope it's appreciated all the same.


Like last year, I went for creature comforts. This gentleman asks for nothing, smiles when you pass by, and keeps to himself. That's not to say that he must be missing something, namely Oreos. Okay, there's probably a lot more than Oreos.

Included in his package are the following, clock-wise:
  • Fleece zip-up
  • First aid kit (white box)
  • Flannel hooded jacket
  • Wet Ones
  • Deodorant
  • Soap
  • Antibacterial gel
  • Chapstick
  • Kleenex
  • Toothpaste
  • Lotion
  • Wool socks
  • Oreos
  • Peanut butter (Mum made a good call on this - everyone needs delicious protein)
  • Pretzel crackers
  • Hot hands and toes
  • McDonald's gift card (because it's in the area - no pictured).
I dropped it off to him last night, though he wasn't at his usual spot. He was sitting on a chair at the end of his sleeping bag all week, but not last night. I was disappointed for a minute, but knew I couldn't carry the box all the way home and back again (little upper body strength and wearing a too-warm-for-the-weather coat). I left it on top of his tupperware container and wished him well. I realized that giving the gift is not about being thanked; that's not why I did this. I wanted to brighten his day, whether he knew it was me or not. So I left feeling just as good about it.

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope your days are brightened just as much by giving and receiving this season.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Oh, the weather outside is frightful.

It's frightful in that when it should be in the 40s with maybe a little dusting here or there, it's 65 degrees. I'm really bad with judging the weather, so that means I'm wearing my peacoat because it sounds cold, but the sun's shining and I'm sweating. It's mid-December, and I'm really not finding the DC weather's attitude very amusing anymore. It's time for snow, or at the very least, it's time for a constant temperature below 50 degrees.

I never thought I'd complain about my apartment being 70 degrees when I haven't turned on the heat for weeks.

So in lieu of the weather getting me into the holiday spirit, we must make do with trying to fake it on the inside.

I started as I start all decorating, which is to take down every item of the previous season, pack it away, then move all of the current season's boxes of decor into the living room. While I was doing this, I heard a loud crash in my closet. My ornament wreath had crashed to the floor from the top shelf, leaving me with a wire hanger and a few of the strongest.


I was super bummed. I didn't have the energy to redo it though, so I decided to use the wreath ornaments, along with some other small ones I had on hand, to fill other jars, vases, and clam shells around the apartment.


The gold boxes that I made to cover our router and modem really work with the holiday decor, and one of the Polish star I made last year out of magazines makes them look like presents.


The clam shell swapped its fabric artichokes and twine balls for something a little more festive, too. This picture is horribly blurry. It's the bad lighting, honestly. I tried it with a flash, but then it was washed out, without a flash, then it was dark, and then on the digital setting, and this was the best I could do. Squint a bit; it helps. I made the white tree from wax paper last year, the twine tree just by wrapping twine around a cone, and the gold tree was a flea market find.

So after finding a new home for all the ornaments, I was feeling okay.


I then put up the sweater vases on our counter with another one of the gold trees, and the pinecones on the mantle.


Below the mantle is my basket of cinnamon pinecones with a string of lights intertwined.


I was all tra-la-la-la-la and deck the halls, but something was against me that day. When I was hanging up my Christmas cross-stitch sampler, this one was done by Mum, one of my teardrop vases jumped off the wall, cut my toe, and splattered into a million pieces.


I was done. Well, I ordered a replacement, and then put the kabash on the holiday cheer. The holidays clearly aren't ready for me yet. I should've listened to the weather.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pineapple pinings.

I've been in the market for a ceramic pineapple for approximately 8 months.

That may seem like a long time and an unusual object, but if I can make myself wait, it helps me to fully decide on what I want, which generally leads to less buyer's remorse. Generally. Sometimes it leads to an obsessive creation in my head that I can't match to reality, but I can generally spot that on the brink of its leap into crazytown and slam on the breaks, as in the case with my curtains.

Well, I was feeling desperate, but still not willing to shell out the big monies, so I put it on my Christmas list that I sent to my boyfriend and youngest sister, Stephanie, at their request. Note that my boyfriend is not also my sister. I don't know why I keep reading it like that. Did I miss a comma? It should also be known that I am incredibly bad at losing control in certain situations, so I will micromanage to the death. I like to think I'm getting better at it with most things, but with things that I've created in my head, I even micromanage myself so there's little hope for outsiders. Read: present-givers. Read: people that I'm very close with. Read: I'm crazy. So the pineapple went on the list with a very clear description and a link to what I wanted exactly. The exactly was $80, and I wasn't into that part of it. I was totally into someone else being into an $80 white ceramic pineapple.

A few days later, Stephie texted me that the pineapple was on Amazon for $25. I was confused, hurt, angry, excited, all-in-one. How could they put the pineapple on there without telling me? I had checked right before hitting send on my list and didn't see it. I didn't know if her information was telling me that she would get the pineapple, but I couldn't miss this opportunity. So I asked. Flat out. She was confused, I think, but I also think she started to get a hold of how manic I'd become and wanted no part of that or the rare instance in which I received it and it wasn't "the one," so she let me have it. I jumped on Amazon. The pineapple was MINE!

I really want to share, I do, but just as quickly as he was mine, he was gone again. I would recommend pretending not to care, but stalking Amazon on the down-low, and maybe he'll reappear.

As it was approaching Thanksgiving and I was headed to Mum's house, I switched the shipping there. I couldn't be bothered to deal with the torment of it sitting on my apartment porch, or worse, the leasing office grabbing it and holding it hostage with their wonky office house.

It arrived and was just as perfect as I created it in my head. Except that it wasn't shiny enough. No worries - three coats of clear glossy spray paint solved that little hiccup.



As I rationalized explained to Mum, I needed a pineapple because I like in Alexandria and the pineapple is the symbol of hospitality and welcome. Also, I love living in Alexandria right now and want to keep a little touch of that southern vibe with me, wherever I may go. I also realize that Alexandria, VA is not the true south in some minds, but it is below the Mason-Dixon line. For a girl that hails from Pittsburgh, has parents with a strong Michigan upbringing and went to Ohio State, this is the south. I only knew the Mid-West before, and it was the eastern Mid-West at that.



For now, he's on top of the fridge, hanging with the wine corks and acting as a topper to Christmas cards we received last year. It's great because it's at a height where you can see him from the living room, fairly quickly upon your entrance to the apartment, and it's in the kitchen so it makes sense. He did live in the living room for a bit before this though, so don't think that the food connotation will limit him in the least.



Isn't he pretty? I can't see a wine rack, or wine bottles, really, without hearing, 'We are wiiiine bottles' in my head. So you should, too. Warning, you should like kittens, and be able to handle high pitches.

He does get a little lost though, thus the arrow that I added, much like the football first down lines, so I'm not sure it'll be his permanent residence. That, and I'm not convinced the fridge is completely level and I would cry it he fell.



See, you can barely see him up there. It could be the wash out from the camera, but I'm not taking chances. He'll probably swipe the spot of the sweater vases after the season. And just like that, you got a silhouette sneak peak of our Christmas decor.



He's sitting pretty where he's at for now though, so this is where we stand. It should be noted that by sitting pretty, I really mean that I carry him around all evening, setting him in new locations, stepping back to admire, then walking around some more. Sorry for the confusion.

Welcome to my apartment! We're a little crazy here. I'm throwing my roommate in that association for good measure.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kent State museum.

I was in Kent, Ohio, a couple weeks ago and took the opportunity of a free afternoon to explore some of Kent State's campus. They recently added what I can only assume to be a nod to Ohio State's oval, though it's a far cry at best (O-H!), but more seriously, they added a May 4 Museum. I thought everyone knew about May 4, but when I was talking to my youngest sister, she didn't have a solid idea.  She knew vaguely about it, but I think that's mostly due to our upbringing under the musical stylings of Neil Young, courtesy of Dad.


May 4 was the date on which the National Guard shot and killed four students on Kent State's campus after protests sparked by Nixon's announcement that U.S. forces were moving into Cambodia. Upon hearing that the unfavorable war was continuing, many people, and especially students, protested around the country. I was happy to see my alma matter (Ohio State, of course) and my youngest sister's school, University of Kentucky, on the map. I like to think we would have voiced our opinions then, and now, even though my generation can be a little apathetic to the path of the country. That's a different story, though. That, and the moon landing. I'll stop. 



It's a small museum, but quite impactful. It starts with a background, from a country divided by the Civil Rights Movement to generations divided by the same movement, along with the Vietnam War.



The museum then went into the feeling on college campuses, which is where it all really started to relate. I'm only a few years out of college, so the fraternity taking a group picture with their draft number was startling. I couldn't imagine being in a time where my male friends would almost have a countdown to being shipped off.


The museum then covered the timeline of May 4, with pictures and video footage from the day. It was absolutely haunting. 


I think the quote at the top was incredibly fitting for this museum, made even more poignant because it was taken from one of the girls killed that day. It's almost incomprehensible to me that something so appropriate was quoted before a person's life was taken so soon. 

I want to make an impact. I want for my generation to know the past. I'm so afraid of forgetting. This museum felt like it was for my age (or maybe the college age, but I'm refusing to grow up); we can make a difference, we can be heard, and we can't forget that.

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