Monday, October 20, 2014

Oregon Zoo Day

As you've probably gathered from this post, I prefer my animals in the wild versus caged. However, in celebration of my brother's birthday, I joined my siblings and sister's boyfriend on an excursion to the Oregon Zoo.

I totally failed to take any photos, but luckily my sister thoroughly documented the day. (Sidenote: You can document your day with one of her handmade creations.)

polar bears grizzly bears

In case you were wondering how we measure up next to Grizzly Bears, Sun Bears, Polar Bears, and Black Bears.

Lonny had the brilliant idea to ask Siri every question printed on a placard. For example, "Siri, how do you measure up?" The answers were usually boring, but sometimes hilarious. She was mostly confused. 

Speaking of Siri, this New York Times article about how Siri is helping Autistic kids is super interesting and worth the read.

"Heads up, I'm a turtle!"

These little guys were the size of a silver dollar. I imagine them to be future teenage mutant ninja turtles.

Once I found a tiny turtle like this walking across the road when I lived in Missouri. I named him Pizza and kept him for a few hours before setting him free.

Speaking of TMNT, here is a bonus photo from college. I'm Michelangelo, obviously. We tried to choose our turtles based on our personalities, because we had commitment.

angry chimp

The chimpanzees were not my favorite. One of them ran full-speed into the glass with fury burning in his eyes. It was terrifying. 

I hurried through the rest of the monkey exhibits after that experience.

under water croc

I was happily enjoying staring at this massive crocodile, when I was informed of another crocodile whose mouth was directly behind me. That was thrilling.

We had a great time wandering through the exhibits and dodging the Oregon rain. We finished off the day eating like animals at Red Robin where we met up with our parents and Adam.

How do you feel about zoos? What are your favorite animals to see? Have you ever been charged by a chimp?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Gluten-Free Baked Macaroni and Cheese

gluten free pasta slow cooker

Whenever I make dinner, I always announce to my husband that, "This was an experiment." I rarely, basically never, prepare an identical dish. If I do, I change a method, add ingredients, or try and do everything from memory.

Cooking equates to experimenting for me. I have to keep it interesting, even if it doesn't turn out. Luckily, things usually turn out delicious (except once when I tried to mix BBQ leftovers with tuna pasta...gross). Also, how do you prevent finger shreddage when you get down to that last nub of cheese??!?!

gluten free macaroni and cheese

I adapted this recipe for slow cooker baked macaroni and cheese from A Whisk and A Prayer to make it gluten-free. I followed it for the most part, but used quinoa pasta and made my own delicious combination of cheeses.

Instead of buying a boring bag of pre-shredded Italian blend for the cheese, I went to the specialty cheese section of my local grocery store and hand-picked what I thought would be good contenders. The recipe called for 3 cups or 12 ounces of cheese, so I took those guidelines and decided to mix-and-match.

fontina cheese

I ended up with 5 oz. of Romano for nuttiness, 5 oz. of Fontina for creaminess, and 2 oz. of Applewood Smoked Cheddar for a little earthy flavor.

gluten free crockpot

I think the quinoa pasta cooks faster than regular pasta, so in the future I wouldn't pre-cook the noodles. They ended up needing at least an hour less in the Crockpot than suggested, so cutting out that step might help the noodles not turn to mush. It would probably also prevent the burning on the edges, but Adam said that part was delicious.

Adding the Parmesan was the last step. I turned on the Crockpot and walked down to my local coffee shop to do some work before Adam got home. It was nice to know dinner would be waiting for us, filling our little home with the delicious smell of melting cheese.

Do you tend to approach cooking as an art of experimentation or more of an exact science? What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Little Life Update

How do I write a life update when life is so good, without sounding like I'm rubbing all this goodness in your face?

Two months ago, Adam and I packed up our little world and moved all our stuff into storage. We didn't know exactly where we would end up or how we would make it work, but we knew we were doing the right thing. It was terrifying and thrilling and exactly what we needed to do.

Adam had to be closer to school, so that he could finally finish up in May. *praise break*

Family graciously opened up their home to us while we took a deep breath and began trying to figure things out.

Have you ever noticed "figuring things out" is really just a matter of waiting for God to put all the pieces in place? God had been faithful to take care of us, made it clear it was time for something new, and we didn't doubt would make a way for whatever new thing was next.

And boy, did the Lord come through for us.

We both applied for several jobs, we were both let down, and we ended up in what is literally our dream situation.

Without forcing anything into place, we got jobs we are pumped about, and adore our community. I'll still have time to write, which I'm trying to make more of a priority in my life.

Our home is nestled in a tiny town in the outskirts of the Portland metro area (small town life with the perks of urban amenities). Our community is walkable, which was at the top of my wish list, and it is quiet and peaceful, which was at the top of Adam's.

I walked here to write.
The desires of our hearts are overwhelming fulfilled.

Jazzercise is no more than a five minute WALK from my front door, and the library is even closer. Not to mention, Target. I may have perused Target every single day since we moved in.

We are still unpacking, so I will wait to show off pictures of our little abode. It's about half the square footage of Avocado Estates, so some downsizing has been essential.

In the meantime, please tell me you have small-space organizing tips!