Killing Three Birds with One Pot

My loves, my darlings, my friends. Welcome to Summer.

It’s hot and steamy down here in NorCenFLA post Memorial Day and after a week of no A/C in the classroom at my school of employment (hello 87 degrees inside and 95 outside= no relief anywhere!) it’s truly a miracle that no teenagers were injured in the production of this post.

Hot summer weather makes me crave two things: tubing down the river/springs and cold pasta salad.

This pasta salad to be specific:

The beautiful pasta bounty above was my brain child last summer when a gaggle of friends came up to spend a weekend in the “woods” and exploring Ginnie Springs and it’s been my go-to “picnic” food since.

So, when the craving for cold, crisp feta and veggie loaded orzo hit, it hit hard.

I rushed to the pantry: yes, orzo I had…but NO black olives. Well, it still might be ok. To the fridge: used up all the peppers in my breakfast scramble, oh and that’s where the feta went too. Pasta salad fail.

Ok, no worries. I’ll just make tuna salad. It’s cool and refreshing. But while rooting around in the pantry (for a second time now) I stumbled across a hidden box of Annie’s Shells & White Cheddar. Oh dear.

Now I wanted tuna, mac n cheese AND my pasta salad. Oh dear, indeed.

So, I did what any rational gal would. I made all three. Sorta. Behold my newest mess:

Tuna Mac (with Veggies) Salad

As you probably guessed, this wasn’t a plotted out meal. I grabbed what components of the three items I was craving that my kitchen had on hand and mixed ’em together.

Some times killing three cravings, by throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot and calling it lunch, just works. If you need to take out three random cravings, like a sharp-shooter, here is my suggestion:

Tuna Mac (with veggies) Salad
serves 4

1 box Annie’s Homegrown Shells & White Cheddar , pasta boiled according to package & drained, cheese mix reserved
1/2 cup greek yogurt, such as Cabot Greek 2%
2 cans tuna in water, drained
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/8 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup (~3 stalks) celery, sliced
1 heaping tablespoon Grey Poupon mustard
black pepper and celery salt to taste
1. After cooking the pasta according to the package, return the drained noddles to the cooking pot. Add the yogurt and cheese mix, plus black pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly. (add more yogurt according to your level of “gooey preference”)
2. Mix in tuna, chopped vegetables, and Grey Poupon.
3. Season to taste with celery salt and more black pepper if desired.
4. Serve warm, or chill 2-3 hours. (Great either way!)
5. Garnish with basil if you, like me, have out of control basil plants and are thus adding the herb toeverything.

Now that is what I call a satisfying summer salad. And I didn’t even have to go to the store to make it. Double win, three cravings DONE FOR.

Love to all,
~the cravings killer gal, Jess

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The Perks of Being an Only…oh and I made Waffles

I’m an only child.

And while my besties were discussing the other day how they never see me as an only, because I don’t “act like an only child” (ps. still not quite sure what that means….I’m the only only I know) I do indulge in the perks that come from being an only child.

See, my philosophy is, as long as I’m not a brat, I can totally be spoiled.

And friends, I guess I’m not too bratty, because I am so spoiled.

My Mom is the biggest culprit, for sure….but she learned it from the big guns. That’s right. My Pop.

 (Oh yeah. Gra spoils me a lot too. PS. Aren’t they cute? He is 6’1 and she is 5’0!)

Every birthday and Christmas they get me a new kitchen appliance. Seriously, 97% of the stuff in my kitchen came from them. Microwave (which I’ve had since I was a freshman in college-I was the only gal in the dorms with a full size microwave. Pop said “I wanted you to be able to cook a whole casserole.” I can. And I still do!), blender, knives, mandolin, rice cooker, amazing Le Creuset Dutch oven….you get the point.

Honestly, my kitchen needs are getting pretty slim.

But after this newest kitchen gift for my 26th birthday that list is the only thing that is going to stay slim around these parts.

Yep. They got me a waffle maker. (Ok, time to come clean- they “got” me the exact make, brand and model of waffle maker that I requested and Mom proceeded to go order on their behalf from Amazon. Oh what? You want one too? here.)

So, I made waffles.

Pretty, yes? More like pretty dang easy.

I’m not going to fake like I have an actual recipe for ya’ll today. This was my first time making waffles and I didn’t want things to get too complicated.

I used this mix.

But because you guys know me, and I can’t just “let things be” I had to add some blueberries on top of the batter before closing the lid of the maker and giving it an oh so satisfying flip-er-roo. Two minutes later my waffle was done and ready to be halved (Mum came down for the inaugural waffle making) topped with more blueberries, strawberries and then drizzled with lemon curd.

Oh my word. So good. Especially along side scrambled eggs with feta and seared Genoa salami (which tastes like bacon on crack, fyi. Mind. Blown.) plus coffee and Bloody Mary’s thanks to Mum. Now that is what I call breakfast, my babyloves.

It’s like my birthday will never end now. Anytime I want to celebrate I’ll just go make waffles. Happy Yum-day to me! Oh, and if you want to celebrate with me, I’ll share my waffles…even if I’m an only!

Love to all,
~the oh so spoiled, but not a brat, waffle eating, only child herself, Jess

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Aerial Yoga in Review-Llamadorks Style

Remember that amazing Saturday I had in St. Petersburg last November?

You know, the one where I loitered around the farmer’s market?

And ate lots of yummy Thai food?

Oh and hung out with these wonderful women?

Yeah, that Saturday. And remember that the whole reason I went south was to participate in an Aerial Yoga Workshop?

And remember how I promised that I would write up a whole review on the experience? Oh right…I guess I forgot about that too.

But no worries friends, I’ve finally come through on my promise to recap the wonders of “anti-gravity” yoga. Check out my full review and thoughts over on my sister Tumblr project: Llamadorks.

Love to all,
~the forgetful little yoga gal/Llamadork herself, Jess

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The Gal is Out-Spring Break Edition

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Breaking News!

Love to all,
~the little chipmunk gal, Jess

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Backlot Tour

Good music, movies and books don’t just come about, there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes down before debuts of a chart-topper or bestseller hits the shelves. I would never, ever claim to be the driving force behind any worthy of acclaim blog chatter, regardless I still have been putting in more behind the scenes work recently, so while I may be posting a little less frequently as of late, I’m hoping that my down and dirty work will lead to a better blog for us all.

Without further ado here is an update on my most recent project

I’ve been writing this particular blog since May of 2009 and in that time I had applied 102 labels, give or take a few, which didn’t make for very useful navigation or exploring….so I’ve done my best to narrow it down a little:

Food and Drink:
Break Yo Fast = Breakfast items
Midday Munchies = Lunch
Waz Sup(er) = Dinner
Snackage = Duh!
So What if I Slept a Little Late = Brunch
Sinfully Sweet = Desserts
I Heart Beer = Duh again!
I’ll Have What She’s Having = Dining out/Restaurant Reviews


Get It Girl = Workout Recaps/Reflection/Etc.


Abarnment Series
Stubbies’ 100 Beers in a Year Challenge

Other Themes:

 Recent Reads = Book Reviews
Listen Up = Thoughts about Music
Hey Teacher (Wo)Man = Teaching Stuff
Celebrate Good Times-Come On = Holidays
Take Me Away = Travel/Vacation
Special Interest = Thoughtful Things/Everything Else

As I mentioned, this bloggie-poo of mine is a work in progress so I have a few more categorizes in the works and some more narrowing down to do, but I hope this helps all you wonderful readers/causal passerbyer’s/or those of you that just got lost to find out more about my exploration of “normal” in this wonderfully crazy world.
Love to all,
~your loving tour guide, Jess
PS. Please don’t forget to tell me about your favorite “good” songs to use with my lovely students this year!
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Hi loves,

Sorry if the title got you pumped up for an acoustic set, talented as I am, that is one I cannot provide. I can provide an excuse as to why I’ve been absent on the blog scene, the whole internet scene actually, this week.

First I was just super busy, but then I decided to unplug for the rest of the weekend (Sunday is my workday, therefore I do not count it as the weekend-sad, I know). And you know what? It was great. I actually got a ton of “real life” stuff done that I have been procrastinating about and I feel most accomplished.

Accomplishments include:
*Balancing my checkbook
*Paying bills
*Submitting my tax return (all by myself! so proud)
*Washing and detailing my car
*Cuddling with my Puppy
*Working on the stack of Magazines taking over my nightstand
*Spending time with friends and family

And of course acquiring tons of pictures that need to be converted into thrilling posts for your. entertainment!

Stay tuned!

Happy Sunday,
~an unplugged and lovin’ it girl, Jess

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Step Up!

hey folks!

sorry I haven’t been around much on the blog scene as of late (Either here, or commenting on all your fabulous lives) but I’ve just been busy LIVING. And honestly, that makes me so happy, that I really can’t say that is a genuine apology.

In the past week I have:

*Worked until at least 5pm every night (and in case you were wondering, I go in at 7 everyday)
*Planned and executed the first Beta Induction ever held at the my high school of employment. I’m super happy to have gotten that program active again. You should have seen how excited the kids were to be sworn in all official like!
*Went to a step class (can’t wait do that again this week! So fun!)
*Went to 2 spin classes- love that….even if I wasn’t sure if I could walk the first morning after. Oh and my arse still hurts….I guess I need some of those stylin’ bike shorts with the build in gel ass pads! hottness.
*had a spa day with the Ya’s and received my first facial. Which would have been awesome, accept I had a bad reaction to the mask. No permanent harm was done, but my estician was so cute, she goes “Um, so don’t EVER get a chemical peel ok?” No worries, the idea of having my skin burned off does not appeal to me at all!

And all that was on top of my normal work duties and meetings, etc. Honestly though I LOVE being busy like this and can’t wait to plan my workout schedule for this week. Tomorrow I’m hitting up the Hogtowne Medieval Faire with some friends so this weekend is just flying by. I do have tons of food to share with you guys and a few Orlando restaurant reviews from last week, but they will just have to wait for now.

Since it is the end of the month, here is an update on some of my 2010 goals.

Fitness: going strong with the new gym membership
Charity: I have contributed to Haiti relief in a few different ways this month, so I think that will be my unplanned charitable contribution for January.
Cookbook: I’m still reading the Top Chef cookbook that bestie Jenna got me for Christmas. I am going to try and finish it this week and pick a recipe to make. Stay tuned for that one!

Love to all,
~the busy bee, Jess

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Super Massive Black Hole

So, while it is apparent I have been grooving to Muse on Grooveshark at work, I do feel like the internet and the blogosphere are my personal super massive black hole. I end up spending too much time reading everyone else’s posts that by the time I start to consider writing one of my own I’m done.

I’ve been questioning why I am caring on with this blog. Part of it was that I’ve had What’s Normal, Anyways? for going on 6 years now (it started on xanga and I moved it last spring). It has taken some twists and turns and of course some hiatus, which is a lose term, since I’m not the most regular of bloggers….you know, in case you hadn’t noticed.

I had some pretty sweet posts from when I worked at the CDC and had lots of free time. I had lots of thought time that summer too, which was great. I guess that is part of the reason why I keep a blog at all, a place to get my thoughts out and hey, if someone else likes them too, the more the merrier!

I think I get frustrated reading the success of some the other bloggers out their because they have such a following, but on the other hand they probably deserve it because they actually post regularly, have some set theme and well, are just more devoted than I am.

They don’t call me Jess the Mess for any ol reason (and not just because that is my name too!), I kind of am a mess, in the most lovable way of course. But honestly, my interests are all over the place, from dance to horseback riding, yoga to biking, this stupid desire of mine to be a runner in spite of inability to run a mile, still! I love to read, I actually love to write (not that you get any great samples here) and oh, how I love to cook. I still have to urge to go to culinary school one day, but I don’t think that is going to fit in with the whole, I’m a teacher gig. Oh and did I mention I’m a work a holic? And now I’ve lost my train of thought, not that I really had one going in the first place.

But in spite of some quandaries about where I am going with this “blog-thing” as my Mum calls it, life is well in the House of Jess. I actually got to the gym this week, although not tonight, since it has been storming all, freaking, day and NIGHT….it’s been the longest “short” week at work, but by my own doings, since I’m up to my ears in Beta stuff, managing three different classes plus a teacher aid (who while sweet isn’t the most ambitious gal in the world) I have a teaching test on Saturday, which I am a little freaked out about and really having a hard time “studying” for, because a-I have never been a studier and b-how the heck do you study for a standardized test you have never seen before? oy. Says the teacher. And what fun, I get to do it again next month too. (ps. that was all said in a crazy, manic kind of way…..I’m not being snarky, I’m just sleep deprived!)

And I think this this post just hit an all time low, I’ll sign off.

Good night, John-Boy.

Love to all,
~The I really, REALLY need more hours in the day, Jess

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So, you may have been wondering, “Jess…I thought this was a food AND fitness blog. All you’ve been talking about lately is Food and Beer or Wine….what gives?”

Well, you are absolutely correct, I have been slacking on the fitness department as of late, both in reporting what little I’ve been doing in addition to actually getting my hiney in gear. I do some very basic yoga at home, mostly as muscle prevention these days than anything else. Also, even though I haven’t been running much lately I do walk at least a mile everyday after dinner with the mutts.

I’ve really been missing my yoga classes though. I’m just not advanced in my practice to have a meaningful session in my own home yet and get bored with the DVD’s very VERY quickly. So, I was pumped to find myself with an open Saturday morning, in which I would already be in Gville (after sleeping off a night at Stubbies at my home away from home- Love you Christine!) and could finally check out the yoga studio, The Sanctuary, I’ve been eying online since I decided to make the move back to NorCenFLA. I forgot one small (and by small I mean, HUGE) detail in my flawless plan….A Gator Home Game! (dun-duh-duh). I had already planned to give myself twice the time to get to the studio, (it would usually take me 15mins to get downtown from Christine’s townhouse) but 1/2 an hour did nothing for the traffic of 70,000 people trying to get to the stadium and tailgate. A stadium that stood between me and 90mins of beautiful hatha flow. Needless to say the score stands, Jess-0, Ben Hill Griffith-1.

What’s a girl to do when she can’t make it to a yoga class? Well, go grocery shopping of course!

Check out the loot:

I know there is a lot going on in this picture…so let me break it down for you:

Pita Chips
Whole Grain Tortilla Chips
Lemon Hummus
Red Pepper Hummus
Yogurt Galore!
Annie’s Cowgirl Ranch
Brie Cheese
Water Crackers
70% Chocolate Biscuits
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
Whipped Cream (for the pie on Thanksgiving…oh and because I love the stuff!)
Annie’s Shells and Cheese
Black Beans
Various Soups
White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter (my crack, seriously)
Coconut Tempeh (really excited to try this)
Apple Chicken Sausage
Purple Onion
2 Avocados

Plus the “Bread Basket”

Garlic Naan
Potato Bread (I love this stuff and haven’t had it in a while)
Honey Wheat English Muffins
Arnold’s Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins (the white bread in the background is for the turkey stuffing on Thursday!)

And a few “green things” for school

Split Green Peas for DNA extraction
Mints (I walk around and hand these out to students that are on task…works like a dream for classroom management!)

So, overall a rather successful day, even if it was yoga less. Hope you enjoyed seeing my shopping spree. 😀

Love to all,
~a girl with a kitchen full of possibilities, Jess

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