Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Highlights

Another year come and gone. Something I always like to do as the year comes to a close is take a look at some of the things I did that year. Scrolling through my photos, reading old logs I wrote, or spur of the moment Twitter rants. I think we can all agree that 2016 had some rough spots, but I still try to reflect on the good times as well. Times with loved ones, receiving exciting news, taking new steps forward, or just being excited about that last episode of Gotham (damn you, mid-season break!). Here's some of my highlights from 2016 :)

1 / Here's the first picture I took in 2016 :) Partial pic of my fam getting #lit on NYE, hahah. Andrew and I aren't one for big parties, so we usually keep it simple and either stay home or go to my families house. This year was even more simple than usual, because my mom was out of town, and my older brother decided to spend it elsewhere, so it was just me, Andrew, my dad and my little bro. It was cool though. More Martinelli's for us ;) We also played Star Munchkin!


2 / That same month Andrew and I went to Maryland, and got engaged in a jellyfish exhibit at The National Aquarium! I really like this picture, even though it's super grainy and we're not looking at the camera. It's the only picture we have of us with the jellyfish after it happened! Hahah. If you'd like to read more about it, I wrote a big long post about our trip!


3 / In March my mom took my brother and I to see The Book of Mormon! We all had a great time. I also bought my new favorite shirt there. You can read more about our evening here! Everyone I told was like, "Wow, I can't believe your mom wanted to go with you to see that." It was her idea!!! She also took me to see Avenue Q for my 16th birthday. Basically my mom is the best.


4 / In April I started my very first Facebook group - The Powerpuff Bloggers! For 2016 I made a resolution to start practicing healthier habits. In the end I am hoping to lose some weight, but instead of making a goal like "lose xxx pounds" I wanted to get into the habit of just living a healthier life. So even if I don't lose any weight, I can still say I'm eating better, staying hydrated and getting up and moving more than I was before. Anyway. I thought a great way to help keep myself mindful and motivated was to have like-minded peers to share things with and talk to. I already knew that many of my blog friends had similar goals, so why not start a group for us all to work on our goals together? I'm so happy I started this group, and I'm so thankful for everyone in it. If you'd like to share your health and fitness goals with a bunch of nerdy blogger gals, join our group!

5 / In that same vein - I started doing yoga! The group and I took on the 30 Days of Yoga Challenge together and we had a lot of fun. I'm still not super great at it, but that's ok. I'm getting better at it and I'm enjoying myself. I try to do it at least three days a week!


6 / I also turned 25. I'm officially in my mid-twenties T_T I'm not super big into birthdays, and I don't especially like getting older, but I had a fun day. One of my bff's and I share the same birthday. We were both working on a production of The Little Mermaid at the time but we still celebrated and had a nice day :)

7 / Spending time with friends (just like, in general). Something I wanted to work on in 2016 was spending more time with friends, saying "yes" to more invites (rather than staying home and watching Netflix), and just putting myself out there a bit more. I've struggled with depression on and off for years - and a big part of it was feeling lonely a lot of the time, even though I had plenty of great people around me. In 2016 I spent more time with friends than I have in...well, a really long time. I said "yes" to outings that I probably wouldn't have before (like going to the fair in 90 degree weather to pet cows and baby goats), I've strengthened my old friendships and I've built new ones. I've even started hanging out with my co-workers!

To wrap things up, here's a photo collage with more great moments from 2016!

1. Going to the Bay Area Book Festival & meeting Gene Luen Yang. 2. Cows! 3. Hiking?! 4. Valentine swap with the Geek Girls x Bloggers!
5. Music in the park! 6. Getting Jesse hooked on Pokemon Go! 7. Jesse graduating HS! 8. Wedding! 9. Winning this amazing alien set handmade  just for me by The Fangirl Crafter! 10. Getting to wear cat stuff all week while working on CATS! 11. Christmas Day selfie with my love <3
12. Matching X-Files shirts with Alyssa! 13. Pokemon Go in the park! 14. My birthday! 15. Going to Rocky Horror in my Jughead costume on Halloween! 16. Making my first heart for I Found a Quilted Heart!

Have a great 2017, everyone!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

I Made Macaroni in a Crock Pot & Everything Turned Out Ok

If you've been following me for awhile, you might have noticed that even though I hate cooking, every winter I get the sudden urge to do ALL THE THINGS with my crock pot. This year was no different. In the past most of my crock pot dishes didn't turn out very well, but I've learned a bit from my mistakes and this year was determined to actually find a recipe I both liked and tasted good. My mom is big on using her crock pot and sent me a few recipes to try. One of them was for macaroni and cheese! What?! I love mac and cheese, but making it in a crock pot didn't sound like a great idea. One year I tried doing spaghetti in the crock pot and it was literally the most disgusting thing I've ever made (in both looks and taste). I swear it transmuted itself into a monster. To this day Andrew and I call it The Spaghetti Crock Pot Fiasco of 2014. So when he wasn't sold on the idea of me putting noodles in the crock pot again, I wasn't exactly surprised. Still wanted to give it a try though, as this recipe was both mom and lil brother approved.


First, I had to go shopping. Compared to other macaroni recipes I've tried (and by that I mean, either throwing a brick of Velveeta in noodles, or Kraft macaroni) this had a lot of ingredients. Since I don't cook much, my cabinets and fridge are never very full, aside from the things I eat on a super regular basis. I'm trying to work on that, and maybe someday I can just decide I want a certain food and then MAKE IT because WOW I already have the ingredients (much adult, very grownup)!! Anyway, I got the ingredients and the following night we tried it out. After you boil the noodles you mostly just throw the rest of the stuff in the crock pot, leave it for 2 hours, and you're good to go.

crock pot macaroni and cheese

It turned out great! I was so, so happy. 50% because I love macaroni, 50% so Andrew would stop doubting any crock pot recipe with noodles. The picture doesn't look great, so you'll just have to take my word for it. I still don't know how to make food pictures not look weird. (Food bloggers, help me out.) I wrote the recipe below...but if you're dairy sensitive then tread with caution. It's VERY CHEESY. I think next time I might even add some extra noodles to even it out a bit. If you try this out be sure to let me know how you like it :)

INGREDIENTS:
- 2 cups elbow pasta (although like I said, I think I will add extra next time)
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
- 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
1. Boil elbow pasta in water for 6 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. In saucepan on medium-low, melt butter and grated cheese together. Stir until cheese melts.
3. In crock pot, stir together melted cheese, sour cream, cheese soup, salt, milk, dry mustard, and pepper. Add in the noodles and stir again.
4. Cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally as it cooks.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Thanksgiving

I guess I've been on a bit of a blogging hiatus. It wasn't intentional, but I think the cold weather just leaves me uninspired??! When you follow so many wonderful bloggers, it's easy to get caught up with the idea that you always need something "cool" to write about, or that everything needs to be an "article" or something. I don't always (or rarely ever, tbh) have particularly cool things to write about, and I always let that deter me from writing ._. But not today! I still don't have anything super exciting, but I wanted to write about my Thanksgiving :) It's more of a journaling piece, really. But isn't that how blogs started out, anyway? :)

Photo courtesy of new bud Ultraman.

On Thanksgiving Andrew and I went to my families house. I have two brothers that were also there, along with my older brothers longtime girlfriend. We kept things a little more casual this year. I don't can't cook, so my food contribution was an apple and pumpkin pie from the grocery store ;) I don't even like pie, but I understand I'm the minority and that it's a traditional Thanksgiving thing so whatever. When we got there Andrew made the mashed potatoes (he has for the last few years, but they came out particularly good this year). As we ate we did the whole "go around the table and say what you're thankful for" thing. Things have felt a little bleak lately *coughTRUMPcough*, but even so I think it's important to be mindful and thankful for the blessings you have. Just a few things I'm thankful for this year:

- My wonderful friends and family (typical, but couldn't leave them out obviously)
- Having two jobs that I'm happy with.
- Finally getting referred to an ear specialist (I have a lot of ear issues lol)
- The candles from Bath & Body Works going on sale fairly often (#bless)

My family is really into board games, card games, RPG games (well, some of us are hahah) and all that stuff. So after we ate and let the food digest a little, we played a game my mom has, called Geek Out! After playing that for awhile (we don't really keep score, we usually just keep playing until we start argue over the semantics of a card) we tried out a game I recently bought, The Oregon Trail Card Game. It's a Target limited time exclusive, so hurry and pick it up (plus it's only $11.99 - a great deal compared to most other tabletop games)! It's modeled after the classic computer game, but you get to play it with your friends which makes it even better :) Our wagon made it almost all the way to Willamette Valley, but in the end we all died :( Maybe we'll do better next time hahah. The rules were a little confusing, but again hopefully we'll do better next time :P

After we left my families house...it was time to go shopping. I picked up a 3DS on Thanksgiving. I'm always so torn on Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping :( On one hand I hate how stores force people to work on the holiday, but on the other hand some people actually WANT to work on holidays and that's cool too. I don't know if all places are the same, but when I used to work at Target we were paid time and a half on Thanksgiving, but regular pay on Black Friday; so many of my coworkers wanted to work on Thanksgiving. I understand that technically Black Friday is just a regular day. I just think it's silly that you're paid your regular amount to work on the most stressful shopping day of the year, and time and a half on, like, Independence Day or something. Not that Independence Day isn't important, but I've worked plenty of retail and I can promise you that working on Black Friday is 1000x worse than working on Independence Day.

My beautiful new DS.

As I was saying...the 3DS. I had to line up outside of Target an hour before the store opened. It wasn't pleasant, but I had my friend who still worked there take a look and he told me the store was only sent eighteen of the 3DS's. Eighteen. Wtf? And I definitely wasn't going to pay full price for one, so I knew what I had to do. I knew exactly where the 3DS's were, so as soon as the doors opened I sped over. They were in a locked up case, and as a Target employee went to go get the key for the case, a line (more of a group/huddle since I guess we don't know how lines work) started to form around me. As the employee starts unlocking the case I feel someone leaning behind me (gross) and is shoving his hand in between me and the case that I was sandwiched against, trying to grab the DS that the employee is about to hand me (RUDE). This next part I'm not proud of - I shoved him back with my elbow (seriously, he was full on AGAINST ME) and said "Can you chill out? Back up." I mean. Really? Can you chill out? Out of all the badass things I could have said, and I said can you chill out? I am appalled at my behavior, but also disappointed to know that I will never be a hardcore badass fighter with witty one-liners. Ah, well. After nabbing my DS we went to look for the Chromecasts, which were also on sale. I wasn't entirely convinced on the need for a Chromecast (mostly because I hadn't done my research, but I love it now, more on that later) but Andrew had been talking about getting one for a few months now, so we figured we might as well get it while it's on sale. The weird part was that even though it was one of the "door buster deals," NONE of the Target employees had any idea what a Chromecast even was. If the Chromecasts had been sitting where they normally sit then this wouldn't have bothered me. But they weren't, so we kinda wandered around the electronics dept in circles, looking around and asking "excuse me, do you know where the Chromecasts are?" to every employee we saw. Luckily we found them ourselves, eventually :)

I also picked up Pokemon Sun that night. It wasn't on sale, but how could I get a 3DS and not get Pokemon Sun? (The only correct answer is that I couldn't, unless I was getting Pokemon Moon instead.) I'm really enjoying it so far. The graphics are fresh and so different from the Pokemon games I'm used to (the last one I played was Pokemon Black). Also I am obsessed with my starter Pokemon, Rowlet. HE IS SO CUTE.  There's a feature to clean up/take care of your pokemon after battles, which I do whenever I can because then Rowlet smiles and does a little spinny dance! Sigh. Another DS game I want to try is Monster Hunter. Aside from Pokemon, Monster Hunter is one of the main reasons I've wanted a 3DS. I haven't played any of them, but I've been following it for a long time and that type of game is right up my ally. It kind of sounds like Dynasty Warriors...but with Monsters. I asked Andrew to get me a Monster Hunter game for Christmas, but I'm not sure which one I want?? I kind of just want to start with 4, but some people say I should start with 3. If you've played this series please weigh in ;)

Now, back to Chromecasts. Basically what it does is make it really super easy AF to stream things from your computer to your TV. So if you watch a lot of shows online/on your PC then you may find this useful. Last year Andrew and I were gifted a super badass 4k TV. Since we don't have cable we mostly used it to watch Netflix and play XBox, so the super badass TV just wasn't being utilized as well as it could be. For current shows we always had to watch them on our computers, which was a little frustrating when we wanted to watch shows together. Bring in the Chromecast! Now all the shows we watch on our computers, we can watch on our TV while snuggling on the couch.

Annnnnd that about sums up my Thanksgiving. This post turned out a lot longer than I expected, hahah. Now I'm off to...do something. Maybe I'll watch Bridget Jones Baby. I totally meant to see it in theaters (no shame) but I guess it was a total bust, because when I was trying to go see it, it had already left theaters??? Disappointing.