Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Death Valley, Part I

A couple years ago, the fiance and I spent over a week in Death Valley.
We went in December- the only time of year when the temperatures can't kill a person for stepping outside of their car or hotel room.

I'll be honest- I was not thrilled on the idea of Death Valley.
Deserts usually aren't my thing.

The moment we entered Death Valley, I knew I was wrong.
so very very wrong.
In fact, Death Valley impressed me so much, it may even be one of my favorite places on this planet (that I've visited).

Yes, it is a dessert.
But, it is so much more than just a bunch of rocks and dry open spaces.
Death Valley has so much to offer-
 it kept the fiance and I busy for more than a week.

The sand dunes were my favorite part of this National Park.
One evening, the fiance and I decided to hike out to the highest dune, sip some coffee, and watch the sun go down.
These few hours remain some of my favorite in my whole 25 years of life.
I never wanted to leave this secluded sandy peak...

The sunsets were breathtaking-
and I finally saw for myself the "purple mountains".

Have you ever been to Death Valley?

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Shrimp and tofu pad thai

The other night I made Pad Thai for the fiance and his fam.
Many of you requested that I post the recipe, which makes me so happy since Thai food is probably the best thing out there.

Cooking pad thai is a fast process.  Ideally, it is prepared in a wok over high heat.

You can add or omit ingredients as you see necessary.
I love super spicy food.  So, I was sure to add extra red chili and green Serrano chili's to the mix.  If spice isn't your thing, be sure to leave these two ingredients out.

What you need:
300 g. narrow rice noodles (approx. 3 cups)
4 tbsp. oil (I try to cut this in half, but the finished product will be a little drier)
3 eggs
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tbsp. dark soy sauce
1 tbsp. peanuts- roasted and ground
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 chives- roasted and chopped
2 tbsp. garlic and shallots
2 tbsp. vinegar or tamarind juice
1 tbsp. dried shrimp (optional. I used fresh shrimp)
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 cup tofu
1 tbsp. dried chili (optional)
2 lime- cut in wedges
pepper to taste

NOTE: These are the exact measurements that were provided by the Thai cooking school I attended while traveling in Thailand.  These measurements are not meant to be followed exactly- at least not in my opinion.  Also, depending on how big your wok or frying pan is will determine how much you can prepare at one time.  The fish sauce and tamarind sauce are key.

1. Depending on brand, soak the noodles in water at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes.
2.  Heat 4 tbsp. of oil in the wok and fry garlic, shallots and red dried chili until garlic and shallots are yellow.
3. Add the fish sauce, dark and light soy sauce, sugar, and the vinegar or tamarind juice. 
4. Add noodles and fry until the noodles are cooked.
5.  Move noodles to one side of the wok.  Add 2 more tbsp. of oil.  When heated, break the egg.
6. Add bean sprouts and chives.
7.  Mix thoroughly.
8. Remove for wok and garnish with peanuts, pepper and fresh lime.

I prepared the shrimp and tofu in a separate frying pan.  I just added soy sauce, fish sauce and a little bit of oil and cooked the tofu and shrimp until fully cooked.

I encourage you to play around with this recipe.
Some people may prefer more soy sauce than fish sauce and vice versa.
As long as you add all these ingredients together, it's guaranteed to be tasty!

Happy Monday everyone!
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

My new best friend

I'm new to Photoshop,
but i'm already in love...

I have no idea how I made the photo look like this, but I can already see Photoshop is going to be my new best friend.

In other news,
the fiance is HOME!

I haven't stopped smiling since he got in last night.
If i'm a little absent this week, don't fret- I won't be able to stay away long.
I'm just a little more distracted than usual.

I am making pad thai tonight for dinner,
so I will be posting the recipe asap!

I hope all of you are having a fantastic weekend!
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

He's Coming Home

The fiance gets home TOMORROW night! 
Yes, tomorrow!

He decided to change his ticket and come home a few days early.
I am so excited to see him I feel like I could burst.

I sometimes find that i'm smiling for no reason at all- and then I realize I was just thinking about seeing him for the first time in 8 weeks.
(this uncontrollable smiling is especially embarrassing at the gym- I must look like a crazy person)

He has a list of foods he wants me to buy before he gets home.
I thought I would share part of this list with you all...
(this was an email to me, from him)

titled: "The Epic Food List"

My Dearest Pumpkin Love Pie,

Soy Ice Cream Sandwiches
Chocolate Goat Ice Cream
Kombucha of the exotic and tasty variety
Oranges for Fresh Squeezed Liquid Gold
Frozen Berries of various Fauna if we do not already own such

--and things he wants me to cook once he gets home--

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Coooooooookies
SHRIMP Fajitas
Pad Thai
Soups n Stews n Soups n Butta Goodly bread oh my
OMFG Salad of Eden
Goat Cheese Sandwich with Eggplant

Yes, this man loves goat ice cream. gross.

But, he loves my cooking, and I love him, so I'll indulge him this time.
I have lots of cooking planned the next couple weeks,
which hopefully means lots of recipes that I can share with all of you!

Other than lots and lots of eating, we don't have any exciting plans.
I just can't wait to wake up next to him again.

After 8 weeks apart, I can honestly say that long-distance really sucks.
But, with enough patience, communication and love, it can work.

Happy Thursday Everyone!
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Perfect Dress

I haven't been blogging about wedding stuff at all lately.
Which is making me a little sad since i'm engaged.

Sure, the fiance and I don't have a date set,
or money for the big day,
but, it's nice to dream. 

It will happen when the time is right.

Since it's Oh! How Pinteresting Wednesday link-up (my favorite), 
I thought I would dedicate this weeks theme to the wedding dress.

I've blogged about my favorite wedding dresses before, long long ago.
here and here and here

I don't go for big and poofy, and ideally, I will walk down the aisle one day wearing something a little different.

Here are some of my Pinterest favorites...

OBSESSED! My favorite.

I want a country wedding- this would be perfect.


This veil is amazing.


Hope all of you have a happy hump day.
My day is jam-packed and i'm already ready for a nap!

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Getting to Paradise is a Bitch, Part III

Missed part I and part II?
Find them here and here.


a flooded tent,
a late start,
dying headlamps,
cliffs of death,
a wild boar,
the valley of tears,
man-eating mosquito's,
and the worst blisters of my life,


I practically crawled the last mile to our little secluded camp site and watched as the fiance got everything set up and ready.

Walking was practically impossible, but I somehow managed to make it to the waterfall just a short distance from our tent to shower.

I was pooped.

After eating some of my favorite freeze-dried mac n cheese (seriously, best stuff ever), the fiance and I fell asleep.  
For the first time in 3 nights, I actually slept.  It was glorious.

The next morning I had to address my wounds.
If I was ever going to make the hike back, the popped blisters covering my toes needed to start healing- and fast!

These were the most excruciatingly painful blisters I had ever had.

I will never again take my feet for granted.
Without happy feet, mobility is miserable.  And it was.

I have learned that I have the most sensitive and blister-prone feet in the world.  No matter what I do, I always get blisters while hiking.
Mole skin, wool socks, proper shoes- it doesn't matter.  I will still get blisters.

Any experts out there have any advice?

Painful wounds aside, 
this place- this beach- was unbelievable.

Aside from a few other people, the fiance and I were the only people on this beach.
We really had this small slice of paradise all to ourselves.

After a few days relaxing and recovering, we decided to head back.

The fiance could live on that beach forever- but I couldn't.
I needed a hotel and a warm shower.
But, most of all, I needed a cheeseburger.

So, we packed up our stuff and started the journey back.

This time, we wanted to make the trip in one day.
We were on our way by 6am.

Although we did not encounter any boars or malfunctioning headlamps, my feet were screaming the entire way.  
On top of the blisters I already had, I was forming new ones.

I'm still amazed I made it out without breaking my leg.

I cried a lot.
Actually, I cried almost the entire time.

The fiance, on the other hand, was completely in his element.

Thankfully, despite my crying and complaining and bitching, he supported me every minute of the journey back.
His patience throughout this entire trip still continues to amaze me.  

So, fiance of mine, thank you.
I couldn't have done it without you.

yes. those are the cliffs.

i fell on my butt a lot.

The last half mile the fiance had to carry my bag- again.
He was such a trooper.
But, so was I.

We made it back alive.
And I got my cheeseburger.

Our last three days in Kauai were spent relaxing and recovering.

I walked away from this little adventure more in love with this man than I ever thought possible.  He pushed me to challenge myself in a way I would have never done on my own.

He helped make me a stronger individual-
and became my favorite travel buddy.

One day, we'll go back.
This time, better prepared.
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