lots to catch up on

I rememberd the camera today!!! yay!!!!

So last week during the insaneness that was my life I somehow found some time to cook a couple meals, the piece de resistance being one of steve’s fav staples panko crusted chicken breasts… everyone has a variation of these but the difference always comes down to what you mix in with the panko breading…

the set up and not in order because sometimes I’m a hot mess in the kitchen and I have precious little counter space…

  • chicken breast – i buy mine frozen and in bulk a lot so most times after defrosting I end up halving the breasts to get thinner cutletts
  • flour to dredge the chicken breast
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs – never heard of panko you say!!! then you MUST go try… i swear by it so much better then plain old italian bread crumbs… and I’m part italian and I’m even admitting that…
  • toss in whatever spices or cheeses you would like with the panko… I usually do some italian spices and parm cheese

anyone else notice the trader joe’s soy sauce chillen on the counter??? yeah no idea why that is out… just disregard that…

so in order, dredge the chicken in the flour, coat in the egg wash, then cover in panko mixture… make sure your skillet is nice and hot and the oil is cracklin’… drop in the cutlett and sizzle away….

that’s my new Hamilton Beach Chicken Fryer or whatever it’s official name is…. I LOVE IT!!!!! even though I hate that its called a “fryer” its a skillet…. it was like 20 bucks at the outlet stores in Grove City and by far the best 20 bucks I ever spent…

now those suckers look delious! and since they were thin cuts of chicken they look a helllll of a lot bigger than they really were…

I served them up with some cheesy noodles because cheese is a meal in and of itself in Steve’s opinion and some mixed veggies….

hey… pretty colorful meal for me lol….

someone totally wanted in on the chicken… and the cheese… and even some of the veggies… she’s a freaking garbage disposal… no lie… one time she got ahold of an entire TRAY of sweet potato fries… and finished them…

The next night was kind of boring… left over cheesey noodles and veggies and some buffalo chicken sausage with sauteed onions… the boy was not a fan… had one bite and informed me that “buffalo” taste was meant for wings and not sausage… more for me… he helped himself to left over chicken… and more cheesy noodles…

No real cooking went down on friday or saturday, I actually wasn’t even really home… I believe a trip to Primanti’s was made… oh so healthy lol… I had a chicken parm sandwhich at least… and some chicken cheese fries… 😦 bad Natalie… and we “picnic’d” at the boy’s parent’s… grilling and salads which was yum-0… I’m gonna start snapping pics of mrs. h’s food too… plus there were homemade perogies to snack on and let me tell you… to DIE for…

yesterday back on track a bit… overnight oats, had a few meetings, a sub for lunch, class, a pop to stay awake which I will need to find another alternative for… a second class and then a veggie burger in a tortilla wrap for dinner late last night…

then this morning I left this at home…

someone is not a morning person… she where she was licking the couch??? that’s her I hate you for waking me up and now your leaving anyway reaction…

and tried not to fall into this…

yes that’s one MASSIVE hole… The lip of my drive way has been crumbling since I have banged my car up bad on it… Last week I scraped the undercarrage of my car so Steve and muscle man Tom sledge hammered a foot of concrete and they will be filling it in on Thursday… YAY for my handy man boyfriend… but I did almost drive into the hole on Sunday because I did not know they had it planned… thank god for the chairs…

So that’s all for now… I’m feeling some chinese for lunch today….

I’ve done gone and disappeared

Oh my GOODNESS i’ve been so busy it’s not even funny!!!!

Last week was absolutely insane with grad school orienation and working and trying to finish up at job #3 and a host of other things and I just about lost my mind…

Last night I fell asleep on the couch at Steve’s parents house…

while reading my health econ book…

During a Steelers game…

At 8 pm….

Yeah… THAT tired…

and then today I left my camera at home so you can’t even get the joy of the awesome food I cooked last week… UGH i’m just one hot mess I tell you… BUT the good part is that I have worked my last day as a tumbling coach and I will now have my Friday evenings back, it was just getting to be way to much to do…

And on Wednesday I officially drop down to 20 hrs a week at my job at the university…

The big news in my life is that after 5 years of loyal and dedicated work I have put in my 2 week notice at my current part time weekend job… It has become such a depressing part of my life… I have stayed on because it is good pay for the two days a week I am there and they have been understanding about working with my schedule but the management had undergone some massive overhauls and currently there are just some people there I can’t handle… A month ago, in a pre-shift meeting, one broke me down into tears and then afterwards told me that he wasn’t even talking about me even though he directed every comment at me in front of the other staff members…

It had gotten to a point where on Thursdays my mood changed knowing that I had to work there on Saturday and Sunday… I was in a horrible mood all weekend… I never wanted to do anything with Steve or anyone else for that matter… and I was just so unhappy… I thought I would have to stay there through grad school to help pay living expenses but as I began to look over my courses for the semester I started to panic…

The course work is somewhat extreme and I know that this is no joke… I have to do well… This is my career, this is what my life is going to be and I want to be in the top of the class…. The professors are saying they expect 2-3 hrs of work at home for every hour of course work and if I were to work weekends I would just not have the time to do the needed work…  As it is now I’ll be in the office or at class from 9am-8pm mon-thurs and from 9am-noon on fridays and that doesn’t include any additional things I need to attend or moving any of my hours for my research position… I simply have to have my weekends to do my school work…

So I put in my two weeks, took out some more money from my student loan I was offered that I hadn’t planned to really touch and I will find a way to pay it back after graduation.  Steve says he’ll help out and we’ll make it work…

I can’t WAIT to get this life started… I can’t wait to be able to go see the leaves in the mountains with Steve some Saturday this fall… or to not have to work one of the holiday’s for the first time in 5 years… My first class is at 2pm… lets get it!

up and at em

Well good morning sleepy head… someone is not a morning puppy

mommy... turn the lights off... surrriously

and then this face when I wouldn’t share breakfast….

fine... i'll just lick my leg then

speaking of breakfast…. i whipped up some overnight oats last night… which this morning were like chocolate heaven once I sprinkled in some mini semi sweet chocolate chips…

Last night I mixed:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • small scoop protein power (chocolate of course)
  • spoonful of brown sugar – helps the healthy breakfast go doooown breakfast go down… – please tell me you all know what movie that is from… even though i’ve butched the words…

Then this morning I added a splash of skim milk and a tablespoon of chocolate chips and man just the sweet kick I needed to get moving…

I ate that at 7am and it will hold me until about 11 at which time I will run some errands since I forgot to pack a snack… Lunch is a left over patty melt from dinner last night – so uber unhealthy but I got in late last night and leftovers were the easiest thing to grab….

Last thing to leave you with… These are blooming next to the driveway and are the first thing I see when I look out the kitchen window… they make me smile…

PINK!!!

I have to go to the bank, get tuition, loan deferments and a list of books for the semester all handled before a 2pm workshop on Excel today…

Fun Fact: Today is officially my last day off full time work as a research assistant… tomorrow i’m taking vacation time to go to the full grad school orientation… It’s really sinking in…

love is in the air

Its finally starting to feel like fall and I’m not sure what it is about this season that I love so much but I wish the only season in the year was fall… There’s just something about it…

Today is Pitt move-in day so traffic was pretty horrific but then again, you can’t help but remember what it was like for you on that first day… and I do feel a bit of pang in my heart for the parents who are sending off their babies for the first time, as many of today’s move ins are freshmen…

Cathedral of Learning... does not do it justice

Yesterday I had my own freshman moment… – day one of grad school orientation… and what a diverse group… All backgrounds, from all over the US and country… really saying something for a group of only 30… All ages, all educational backgrounds and I think it will make for an interesting two years… a lot of former athletes too… this afternoon I’ll be off to a few more lectures and then to a welcome picnic at one of the faculty member’s houses nearby…

I have to say I’m a bit nervous… coming from being an employee in the department its hard for me because I feel like its so easy to just fall back and talk to the staff and faculty that I’ve been working with for the last two and half years and now I have to switch rolls to student and interact with the other students who I don’t know… I am not the best at putting myself out there… I’d much rather do my own thing, write my papers, take my tests, complete my projects and no lie… NETWORKING will be the hardest thing for me in the major…

The highlight of my weekend was by far…. THIS

boo bad quality

That is my beautiful friend Rachele and her now husband Robbie… They got married this weekend in Pittsburgh here:

and it was fantastic… she’s been so stressed and to see everything finally come together so perfectly was great… I have a video of her walking down the aisle but sadly since I don’t have the 60 bucks to upgrade the blog I can’t upload it… anyways she looked like an angel because the light was so bright behind her as she walked down the aisle you couldn’t even see her at first and then she and her dad just appeared… AWESOME… love you Rach… and you too Robbie!!!

centerpieces

Rachele has a glassware collection so on the tables there were notes that the ladies were welcome to take with them a piece of glassware as a thank you for sharing the special day with her… I took a little candle holder… nothing else would have survied with the Minnie Doo running crazy in the house…

Steve got all dolled up for the occasion and I found a long dress that suited me… but also reminded me how much weight I have to lose… lets get this knee figured out and get back on the treadmill…

and crash………

So my knee has been bothering me for a few weeks now ever since I started training again. …

Let me clarify WHICH knee since I am a walking disaster of a body… I have had 3 knee surgeries, an ankle surgery, numerous in-grown toenails removed, carpal tunnel surgery, etc etc… like I said, walking disaster… all thanks to my life of dance, gymnastics and sports growing up…

Now I get to reap the wonderful rewards….

When I was 16 I tore my ACL in my left knee… we thought it was a clean tear… I had very little swelling and at first they weren’t even sure I had an ACL tear and it wasn’t until the exploratory surgery that they found the 90% tear… I had ACL replacement surgery a month later (I advocate organ and tissue donation due to the fact that I have someone else’s ACL ligament in my knee now)… and things seemed to be ok…

I tested out of PT rather quickly due to the strength and range of montion in my leg from all of the dance and gymnastics… but within a few years I noticed that my knee seemed weak and it popped all of the time… Steve still cringes when my knee locks and I snap the joint to pop it in and out and release the tension…

As I started back on my path of fitness again thinking that all of my physical health issues had finally resolved I noticed some swelling around the areas on my left knee where I had my scars from the ACL surgery… Over the last few weeks the swelling didn’t go down at all… no R.I.C.E. made a difference and the swelling started to extend down the side of my leg and if you touched the skin it actually rippled like water…

At my family reunion I had my uncle take a look at it, as he is a family physician… I had a feeling that I was retaining water on the joint, something not uncommon for those with ACL injuries and I wasn’t overly concerned…  He agreed that I had fluid on the joint and recommended that I see an orthopedic when I got back into Pittsburgh…

Annnnnd so I got myself an appointment for the next week…  Let me just say I have had the best luck with my knee surgeons in Pittsburgh… Last October I had surgery on my right knee and adored my doctor and the sports surgeon I have for this situation is also fantastic… It seems strange to get a doctor who is actually personable and takes the time to make that connection with you and he was wonderful…

After x-rays the first thing he said was well you have arthritis already…. I about broke down in tears… The last thing I wanted to hear was that there was something underlying that I was going to have to deal with for the rest of my life and that might set me back with everything I’ve been doing… He did the exam of my knee and explained that I needed and MRI because he had a feeling that I had meniscul damage in the joint as well that was causing the fluid to build up…

When I explain the ACL injury he said that the meniscus damage may have been there since the original injury but he wouldn’t know anything until the MRI… But bottom line, we can’t treat the arthritis until we know if I need surgery to clean cartiledge out of my joint… and even know treating the arthritis will be an interesting situation since I’m only 25…

It just is really a punch in the gut… I hate it… I just want to replace my entire body… I am hoping I can avoid surgery… but at this point I’m not sure that will be an option… We may be able to put it off until winter break but in a knee that clearly isn’t working… I just don’t know… sucks… trying to see the positive in it, but having a bit of difficulty right now…

its in the simplicity

I didn’t think I was ever someone to get caught up in the beauty of nature but I definately have as of late.  Steve gets me flowers often and not just roses, but as someone who works in nature all day every day he picks a variety of species and now when we are out places I find myself captured by the beauty of the plants and even the weather around me…. enjoy…

by the garage

at sandy lake

sunset at sandy lake

the cottages at sandy lake

some of my favorite shots

in photos – part 1

the camera cord came in while I was in DC – by the way the meeting went soooo smoothly I’m thrilled I did well and only stuttered once…

In the mean time, enjoy some pictures… this first batch is from last summer’s trip to VEGAS BABY!!!!

i think the beauty of vegas is the blur of the lights at night

i also don't believe in vegas in the daylight

gonnnnndalas

ok i did venture out in the daylight a little bit

outside the riviera (spelled right?)

 next batch of photos coming up in minutes!