Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vacationing in Topeka

Yesterday two of my best friends came to visit/vacation in Topeka and we had the best time! Kylie and Lindsay are two of my college roommates and we were bummed our other roomies Julie and Katie couldn't make it, but had a day full of shopping, snacks, watching the K-State/KU game and catching up!
My guests arrive to their vacation home. My friend Sarah (yes, pictured below in that horrible blue color) told them when we were watching the game regarding having a beer or something, "Go ahead! You're on vacation!"....Topeka is nice this time of year. :)
Go State!
Sadly, it's actually true they are #1. :( Dang Jayhawks!!

Me with Tom Hagen, a local weatherman/celebrity. I had to get a picture with him for a friend who is a big fan! He was very nice and apparently a Tiger!

For my birthday which was earlier this month, they brought me the BEST gifts! They gave me two cookbooks that I am PUMPED to use! One, is to plump you up "The Pioneer Woman Cookbook" written by a well-loved blogger from Oklahoma Ree Drummond and it looks fantastic. She is also a superb photographer and there are some amazing pictures in the book. The other book is to slim you down and is "The Biggest Loser Cookbook". Thanks so much girls! Look forward to trying and sharing some good recipes!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Born to Blog....

When my parents moved last year they still had quite a bit of stuff from my childhood and since I have moved into my house, I have moved it here. Well, we were sorting through some stuff and found some of my journals from when I was 8-9 years old. Pretty amusing. I don't know if I was exceptionally slow in the spelling arena or what, but there was some room for improvement! Hopefully my blog/journal now is more cohesive than some of the entries I have found. It seems I was a bit lenient on where I put punctuation and capital letters. Here is one entry to share, copied exactly from my jounral:

Oct. 31st, 1990-

Sat. my grandma came we had a fun time. I had a sccer game. No one won.

Sunday we went to the curics. It was a great show. I bet everyone toght that that went. People came from Itly and spain to do the show. The hanged by there hair and center ring was named Michelle.

Monday and Tusday we did a play. It was called The Little lost with. I was the witch.

Its Wensday I am about to lose my pants. I evee sit still I am so exiced. I get to visit my aunt after school. I am going Trick-or-Treating tonight.

Soccer game that no one won. Precisely why my children won't know what that sport is. Boring!

Then we went to the circus, not the curics. And if I recall correctly, I believe there was a girl in the center ring named Michelle....the actually ring wasn't named Michelle.

Tusday = Tuesday. Wensday = Wednesday.

And I was so excited that I couldn't even sit still and I think that was in reference to going trick-or-treating, not to visiting my great aunt in the nursing home, but that's just a hunch.

Funny the things an 8 year old find "journal worthy". Maybe 20 years from now I will look back at my blog and think, what was she thinking?! :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy Birthday to me!

This weekend I celebrated my 28th birthday with some friends and also with my parents. It was fantastic! My friend Sarah had invited me to go have dinner at her house Saturday and it was going to be a low-key event. I suspected something was up and I was right that it was a surprise party with lots of my friends from work! It was great. We had fajitas and my friend Jenny made a low-calorie chocolate angel food cake for the occasion as many of us had just started the Biggest Loser competition at work (which is now up to an $80 pot). It was a lot of fun!

On my actual birthday (yesterday) I hung out with my parents, watched KU lose a basketball game (following KSU's lead) and went to dinner at Longhorns. I was really excited to receive a Garmin from my parents as I have wanted one for awhile!

Thanks for a great celebration and I'm looking forward to my 28th year!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day #1....

Girl Scout cookie orders arrived and our administration sent free pizza to the department. Ugh, not helpful! We all held strong but geeze; challenging first day! The biggest loser challenge seems to have united all of us together...hope it lasts! :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Not much more motivating...

....than spending a week in a swimsuit....on a beach....oh, and with my skinny sister. God love her, but seriously. As most of you know, we went on a fantastic trip to visit friends in Jamaica last month. The last month has been full-force holiday celebrations galore and not much of that has been revolving around healthy eating and working out. Shocking. So, 'tis the season to change that! Oh, and apparently 'tis the season for Girl Scout Cookies to come in- could there be worse timing?!?! That's life though.

Anyway, as we are gearing up and starting a new year, it is frequently a time to come down from the junk food high the holidays provide and re-focus on eating healthy and increasing exercise. Today at work, some co-workers and I decided that with the premiere of this season's Biggest Loser Season 9 last night, we will have our own competition. We each put in $5 and I believe there are 10 contestants, so we could potentially net $45. It's of course not about the money, but about losing some weight! We are doing it Biggest Loser style and basing it on percentage of weight loss, since most of my competitors are about 5'2". :)

Wish me luck but I definitely feel motivated. I have gained weight since college and would like to lose some, especially before this summer wen I have a couple trips planned and next fall for my 10-year high school reunion. I have good role models in Kylie, Molly, and Mandy who have all worked hair and maintained weight losses and put it on their blogs for the world to read- proud of you girls for sharing! I will try to keep you posted on the contest and my progress. Hopefully putting this out to the world on the world wide web will help me with accountability, and with writing it down as well. Hopefully I will be $45 richer in a couple months, as well as a smaller version of your favorite Michelle! :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Souper way to keep warm!

I am SO sick of this cold weather and snow! It snowed a TON over Christmas weekend and 4-5 inches more this weekend. I was holed up with my family at my parents' house over Christmas weekend and here are a couple pictures from Blizzard 2009!

Outside my parents garage on Christmas morning-

The beginning of the snow-

My parents' backyard when it started to snow-

What better way to get warmed up after being outside than some yummy soup?! Last week while my sis was in town, we made my friend Sarah's recipe of Butternut Squash Soup with Tortellini. Mmm! Here are a few pictures from that adventure of using the hand blender for the first time (thanks Santa!) as well as the recipe so you can give it a try.

Butternut Squash Stew:


2 tablespoons butter
2 onions
3 pounds butternut squash (poke holes, microwave to soften, peel, de-seed and cube)
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 box vegetable broth
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch ginger
1 pound frozen tortellini or ravioli, cheese-filled
1 block lite cream cheese
3/4 cup half-and-half
salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until translucent.
Add squash, wine and broth. Add the spices. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook tortellini according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

In a blender, blend half the stew and all the cream cheese to a smooth consistency. Add back to stew. You can also blend all of it for a smoother texture. Add half-and-half, heat until almost a simmer, salt and pepper to taste.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Happy 2010 everyone! Instead of a Christmas card this year, I have again decided to go with a countdown of my top ten events from 2009, in similar fashion to my 2008 post. A lot has happened since the ball dropped this time last year. This year has brought a change in zip code for me, lots of travels, new babies for friends and new adventures- here are a few of the highlights. I hope everyone has had a wonderful time with family and friends over the very COLD holiday season. Wishing you all a perfect 2010!

10. In January, I gave my notice at my job in Wichita and I decided to move back to Topeka. I accepted a job at a hospital here and moved the beginning of February. I continue to work as a speech pathologist in acute care and some rehab as well, doing work that I love and am passionate about most days. I moved into my parents home in early February while I looked for a house to buy. I have many friends in Wichita that I miss but am fortunate to get to visit quite a bit.
9. Before moving to Topeka, I went to Washington D.C. to visit some friends from K-State who had moved the summer before. Daniel and Vicki showed me a lot of the city and it was great to see them!

8. In February, I took a Wilton's cake decorating class at a local Michael's store. I learned a lot of the basic techniques and have had some fun trying some different techniques to make some treats for co-workers and friends. Here are a couple pictures:

A baby carriage cupcake for a friend's baby shower-

Some cupcakes for Easter-

7. I went to Dallas several times this year to visit my sister. I went in February, April, August and November. Meg and I always have fun and it's nice to enjoy some sister time together! In April, my parents went with me and Meg hosted Easter. A mexican brunch on Easter was a nice change! My family also had a staycation the end of June when Meg was back visiting. We all took the week off work and enjoyed a low-key week at home, including a celebration of my parents 30th wedding anniversary!

6. In April I was sent to Boston for training for work. It was a really great visit, although is an overview of the trip.

5. I found a house that I wanted to buy in April and signed on a contract. In June, I closed on it. It was very exciting buying my first home and I have been settling in after quite a bit of painting and decorating. Here are a few pictures of my new place!

4. When I lived in Wichita, I played in a bunko group with friends there and loved it! This June I started a group here in Topeka with a friend from high school. We have a great time and it's helped me get to know some new friends here. I am lucky to have some wonderful friends and coworkers here!

3. This summer, I played in a co-ed softball league through the city and on a women's basketball team in a city league this fall. Neither team did "well" but we had a lot of fun! In October, I was reminded of my more successful basketball days when my high school team that won a State Championship was inducted into our high school's athletic hall of fame. It was great to see our coaches and quite a few of my former teammates. Here are some pictures from that weekend.

2. In November my Uncle Roger and cousin Jennifer came to Kansas from Denver to look at potential law schools in the area for Jenn. A fun weekend full of college sports- hopefully we will make it to Colorado to visit this year!

1. December brought a warm and sunny getaway to Jamaica for Meg and me. We went to visit our friends Vicki and Daniel that I went to see in D.C. last January. They moved there in March as Vicki is in the foreign service and that is their first assigned post. Such a beautiful country and we had a really great time! It was a nice trip to end the year with, especially when it snowed heavily in Kansas the whole time I was gone!

Wishing everyone a fantastic 2010!