Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Exploring | The Pecos Monument

I swear that we have been doing things other than exploring. Truth be told, life has been busy and full, yet at the same time, quiet. Our days have been filled to the brim with the ordinary. Things like grocery shopping and laundry, house cleaning and car washing. Chicken Cordon Bleu and Netflix. Filled with the things that no one wants to read about. So, for now, exploring will have to do.

That being said, I hope to be back to a regular blogging schedule next week. I've been a bit swamped with graduate assistantship interviews, designing an entire political campaign, and excitedly preparing for Trevor's family to arrive tomorrow. Like I said, life has been busy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Exploring | The High Road

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Our house lies in a desert valley, tucked quietly under the shadow of the Sandia. Our yard, sand. Our neighborhoods lined with cacti and yucca trees. Rio Rancho bustles with busy lives - families weaving between strip malls, fast food restaurants, and the perfectly manicured parks dotted across the subdivision maps.

But north of us lies Santa Fe, and above that, Taos. The High Road weaves a path out of Santa Fe, among the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. On our weekend journey, the road was lined with pilgrims making a hundred mile trek in honor of Easter.

The High Road weaves through desert, forest, and pueblo lands, many areas still dotted with snow. Along its path, galleries, eateries and tiny villages. From Nambe to Chimayo, Cordova to Truches - a collection of adobe houses built quite precariously on a cliff face.

At the road's end, Taos. Settled by Spanish colonists in the early 18th century, Taos now houses to ski life, colorful shops, and many places to find a good cup of coffee. For us, an afternoon of admiring leather moccasins, savoring indian tacos at Michaels kitchen, and an iced chai latte at World Cup Taos.

Further on, the Rio Grande carves its way through the grounds of northern New Mexico. A bridge spans the 1280 feet across the gorge and provides the brave with an opportunity to jut out over a river which could carry one the entire way to the gulf . I gracefully poised myself behind my camera lens and tried to convince myself that it wasn't truly 585 feet to the water below.

As we drove more than one hundred miles home, my eyes fell shut with the heaviness of altitude change. I woke unsure of the trip, not sure if the purple of the mountains or the turquoise of the Rio Grande were just a dream.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Saving Memories

As we packed for New Mexico, I came across a box that Trevor had tucked away, a box filled with momentos, photos and VHS tapes. I fumbled through the pile, flipping through photos of relatives and army adventures, phone numbers written in chicken scratch on the back of receipts.

Before our house fire, I saved everything. Like Trevor, every note, every card, every photo, was tucked into a special place, somewhere. A plastic bin slid beneath the bed. On a bulletin board over my desk. I savored every little physical memory and stashed it away for a rainy day, when I would slide out the boxes and bins and go through the memories I had forgotten.

It was nearly impossible to sort through the box, choosing what should be packed and what no longer needed saving. The Volkswagon key that Scrappy had tried to it? Garbage. The photo of Baby Shay on her first Christmas? Saved. The girls phone numbers on napkins? Garbage. The VHS tapes marked with "Trevor's Basketball Game" or "Christmas"? Saved.

I don't think that my parents have home videos of us, not that I would say that's a bad or good thing. What I did realize holding Trevor's tapes was this - I want to have videos of our life together. I want to remember the face that Trevor makes at me when he thinks I'm being ridiculous, I want to remember the places that we've been together, the things that we've done, that we've seen.

Last week, I interviewed my little brother and created this video to remember just who he was at eight. With Trevor's birthday quickly approaching too, I wondered how I could achieve the same effect. I started dreaming of sharing a video each birthday with video clips from the past year.

On Sunday, my daydreaming grew roots and began to grow into a new dedication: to capture our life on video. This is the second piece to our Tent Rocks trip - a short video from our hike. I filmed it on a whim, without any idea of how my camera functions when shooting video. I have a lot to learn but these two imperfect minutes make me smile none the less.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Exploring | Tent Rocks

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When the New Mexico wind blows, it sweeps the sand from the desert, the dust from the roads, and the tumbleweeds from the fields. Our adventuring souls are carried on the gust as if they were part of the desert itself. 
Spring weekends find us blown to nearby places, places that leave us feeling lost, looking around at a world that seems unfamiliar. Views so grand, so expansive, that they don't seem to be of the Earth we know.
Sunday's winds carried us to the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks for afternoon hiking, a few warm hours in the sun, and a view from what seemed to be the top of the world. With sneakers full of sand and a bag weighed down from the picnic packed inside, we trekked nearly three miles through canyons and rock formations, braving a steep 630ft climb to the top of the mesa. 
We drove home with sun kissed shoulders, windburnt cheeks and a respect for all that can be created and destroyed in seven million years.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ten on Tuesday | Eating Healthy All Week

Last week, a lady behind me in line at the grocery store complimented me on the pile of produce, grains and other healthy food choices I had placed on the conveyor belt. Her words inspired me to start sharing more about our gluten free lifestyle and the way that we shop for, prepare, and eat food in our home. While I happily share what I know in person, it hasn't been a widely discussed topic in this space. 

Working long days for the past two weeks has reminded me just how important it is to eat healthy and balanced meals. So, this week's Ten on Tuesday is dedicated to just that  - eating healthy all week long.

1 // Create a meal plan for the week and try your best to stick to it! 

Though the concept seems like it would make little difference in your week, meal planning is a great way to save time and eat better during the week. On Sunday mornings, I take the time to plan our meals for the week. In our house, lunches are always the same (which I’ll get to in just a moment) but we like to eat a variety of dinners. During the week, I use bloglovin to save my favorite recipe posts for inspiration since I personally find Pinterest frustrating since many great pins lack the correct recipe source. After making a tentative schedule for the week, I look at the recipes in depth and take the time to create a grocery list. I find it most effective to create my grocery list by section of the store, produce/dairy/frozen. While dinners and events do come up, sticking to a meal plan helps in fighting the urge to eat out.

2 // Speaking of groceries, buy lots of produce and always start your shopping trip in this section of the store. 

Our produce for each week includes tomatoes, onions, avocados, spinach, baby carrots, celery, apples, bananas, and watermelon at the very least - depending on the season or the meals we are planning for the week, leeks, sweet potatoes, strawberries and other produce could be added to the list. I always start my trip in the produce section because fruits and veggies take up a lot of space in my cart. Seeing a full cart makes it easier to pass by the snack foods and groceries that we don't need.

3 // Portion snacks - especially fruits and veggies - for the week.

After getting groceries put away, my first order of business is to wash and portion all of our produce. Having a pineapple or watermelon in your cart is great but at home, these things won't get eaten unless they're easy to grab. Open a bag of chips or cut up a watermelon? Yeah, that's what I thought. In addition to portioning our fruits and veggies, I also divide up chips, granola, and sweets. I'm dangerous with a whole bag of chips and so having individual sized snacks is a great way to maintain reasonable portion sizes. Plus, it makes packing lunches at 6am that much easier.

4 // Add greens. To everything.

Did you know that four cups of fresh spinach only has twenty calories? Dark leafy greens are also full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For breakfast, I put spinach into quiches. At lunch, I use leaf lettuce to keep my turkey and swiss sandwiches from getting soggy - a real bonus. For dinner, spinach is added in handfuls to pastas and risottos (adding a lot of nutritional value without a lot of added flavor) while protein heavy meals are paired with simple salads. Greens are affordable, low calories, and easy to incorporate in your diet.

5 // Make breakfasts ahead for the week.

In our house, breakfast is the only meal that we make ahead but it is perhaps the most important part of our "healthy eating" steps. On Sundays, I take the time to bake veggie-rich quiches or breakfast cups for the week. With my new job, I am up by 5:30 and prepping ahead is the only way to ensure a hot, filling, healthy breakfast. If you aren't a fan of hot or large breakfasts, yogurt with granola and fresh fruit provide quick, no-prep breakfast options.

6 // Pack lunch! 

I can't emphasize this enough! With food allergies, this point is even more important for us. Packing lunch allows you to eat healthy, to save money, and to have more time during your lunch for errands, reading, or relaxing. Lately, we have gotten in the habit of picnic lunches as often as possible. Today, we were lucky enough to share our lunch hour with sandwiches in a Santa Fe park. I always try to pack a sandwich, fresh fruit, and either chips, crackers, or pasta salad. I may also sneak a little mini-snickers bar in there but hey, everything in moderation.

7 // Keep a drawer at work stocked with healthy snacks.

Healthy shelf-stable snacks include roasted and salted almonds, homemade trail mix, and granola bars. GoPicnic also makes great meals that can be stored in a desk drawer for a last minute lunch option. In addition to keeping snacks at work, I've learned to throw a snack or two in my bag and in the console of my car. Being gluten free means that I can't just grab cookies from a vending machine or french fries at a local restaurant - but even without allergies, having snacks on hand prevents you from grabbing unhealthy treats or spending unnecessarily.

10 // Try to eat more often. 

There is controversy over the best way to schedule meals - three times a day, four times a day, six times a day. When it comes to this, I will say this, listen to your body. I am an avid breakfast eater but I find that my stomach starts to growl around 10. Likewise, after a ten hour work day, I find that I'm often starving before I finish my hour drive home. For me, eating three meals a day and snacking at least once between meals helps me feel energized and full throughout the whole day.

8 // Drink lots of water.

It is said that due to evolution, the human response to thirst is so weak that many people mistake it for hunger. This time of year, especially in the desert, drinking water is easy. That being said, many people don't realize how much water they need to drink. A good rule of thumb is to take your weight in pounds, divide it by half and this indicates the ounces of water you should be drinking daily. For instance, a 120 lb individuals should drink approximately 60oz or nearly a half gallon of water. This water requirement calculator can help provide you with a more tailored and accurate recommendation. I make sure to fill my water bottle for the drive to and from work and find that drinking during my work day keeps me awake and attentive. If you aren't a fan of straight water, try lemon or other fruit infusions!

9 // Drink less caffeine!

If you are someone who drinks caffeine with multiple meals each day, try cutting back slowly. For instance, I used to drink an iced chai in the morning with breakfast and often a soda with lunch. Now, I try to limit myself to one or the other, and usually not every day. Drinking less caffeine will eventually make it easier to wake up naturally, will keep you more hydrated, and will make getting to sleep easier.

So tell me, what are your techniques for eating healthy during the work week? None of these are "unique" or "new" ideas but instead, great reminders. Do you create a meal plan for your week? What kind of snacks do you keep at work? I'd love your suggestions! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Snapshots from this week: 
1 // Picnicing at Cochiti Lake.
2 // Desert storms.
3 // Our view from the top of the world.

Favorite posts this week:
Easy Springtime Crockpot Minestrone - How Sweet It Is
Trail Mix Peanut Butter Cookies - Averie Cooks
a dress that makes me want to dance - Deer Circus
HAWMC Day 7: Sensationalize! - Franny Cakes
bird - The Wilder Coast

This week I'm...

Suffering from the worst  hay fever I can ever reminder having! I've become to joke that there is a direct relationship between how much I love New Mexico and how terrible my allergies are here.

Editing a lot of photos! We spent our only mutual day off this week hiking the Kasha-Kewute Tent Rocks today and that has only added to my stack. I still have to share our day trip to Taos and the Rio Grande Gorge with you, hopefully this week!

Finally starting at my home hospital for work, in Santa Fe! While I'm not looking forward to the drive, or being the new person for the third week in a row, I'm glad to be settling into one permanent place.

Taking care of the last of our moving "to-dos". Getting my drivers license, registering my car, switching insurance companies, and all of the other little tasks that come with a big move!

Looking forward to registering for my first semester of MBA classes!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Recipe | Sausage, Spinach & Tomato Quiche


I never thought that I'd say this, but our favorite cinnamon rolls have been replaced.
The past few weeks, we've been enjoying various gluten free quiche, instead.

Most recipes that I share with you here have gone through a few rounds of modifications, the first batch usually being so so or almost right. This quiche was an exception to that rule. As Nicole said, sometimes you just need to make something that you know will work. While I didn't know that this crust would work, I knew the right ratios for a perfect egg based filling, and a new found love of out flour so on a Saturday that Trevor chose to sleep in, I put my gluten free baking skills to the ultimate test. And what do you know, it worked. It worked beautifully, turning out to be the wheat-less equivalent of paté brisée.

The best parts of this recipe? The crust doesn't need rolled, only pressed in, and the quiche itself can be easily reheated. That means having hot quiche for 5 a.m. breakfasts and only spending Sunday afternoon baking.

Gluten Free Oat Flour Pie Crust


1/2 Cup plus 3 Tablespoons of Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (Might I suggest Bob's Red Mill?)
1/2 Cup of Fresh Ground Oat Flour
1/2 Tsp of Salt
1 Tsp of Sugar
1 Tsp of Xanthum Gum
8 Tbsp of Butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 Tbsp of Ice Water


Mix all purpose flour and oat flour with salt, sugar, and xanthum gum.
Add the butter, kneading the dough with your fingers until it resembles corn meal.
Add the ice water, continue kneading until dough is a solid ball with the butter evenly distributed.
You may need to add more water or more oat flour, depending on the texture of your dough.

When the dough has reached the proper consistency, create a ball and wrap it with plastic wrap.
Allow the dough to chill in the fridge for at least forty-fix minutes before using.
(Dough can also be made in advanced and either left in the fridge for a few days, or frozen.)

After the dough has chilled, spray a nine-inch glass pie pan with non-strick spray and press the crust evenly across the bottom and sides of the dish.

Sauage, Spinach and Tomato Quiche Filling

1/3 Pound of Sausage
2 Cups of Sliced Leeks (diced sweet or white onion can also be used)
2 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, mince
2 Cups of Fresh Spinach
1 Can of Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, rinsed
(I highly recommend these tomatoes - we're obsessed - but fresh or regular canned tomatoes could be used)
5 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 Cup of Heavy Cream
1/2 Tsp of Salt
1/2 Tsp of Pepper, or to taste 
1 Tsp of Sage
1 Cup of Shredded Mozzarella, Provolone or Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Brown sausage in a large skillet.
Add leeks and garlic, sautéing until soft and translucent.
Chop spinach and add to the skillet, mix well.
Add tomatoes and stir until everything is heated.

Beat eggs, cream, salt, pepper and sage in a medium bowl.
Cover the bottom of the pie crust in shredded Italian cheese.
Then, add sausage mixture to the bottom of the quiche.
Cover with egg mixture, and sprinkle with more cheese.
(You may not need all of the sausage mixture or all of the egg filling, use your best judgement)

Bake for ten minutes at 425, then lower the oven to 375 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes or until firm.

So tell me, what are your favorite things to put inside a quiche?


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ten on Tuesday | Interview Advice

Throughout the past year, I have had countless interviews - for job positions when relocating to Montana, for internships, for graduate schools, for full-time career positions here in New Mexico. These opportunities have allowed me to develop many different interview skills, skills that I have been trying to share with friends who are getting ready to finish their undergraduate degrees. As a natural extrovert and self-proclaimed "people person", interviewing has never been uncomfortable for me but I know that is not the case for everyone. Searches for interview tips yield a wide variety of results, many of which I find too vague to be useful. That's why this weeks' Ten on Tuesday is dedicated to helping you ace your next interview.

1 // Research the company (and if possible, the person) you are interviewing with. If nothing else, at the end of your interview, the interviewer is likely to ask "do you have any questions for me?" and this provides you with a great opportunity to show your knowledge of the company. Become familiar with the company's mission statement or goals and use the same key terminology when answering interview questions. (These key words could be terms such as "integrity" or "responsibility," for instance). It is impressive to know the accomplishments and if appropriate (as in the case of graduate school interviews), research interests, of the person you are addressing.

2 // Dress appropriately. This doesn't mean wearing business clothing, it goes beyond that. It is important to know what type of position you are applying for - interviewing at an interior design firm warrants a different style of dress than interviewing with a large corporation. I recently interviewed for a wide variety of jobs - I wore colorful and interesting clothing to interview for arts related positions, more formal clothing when applying to corporations, and casual dress when indicated by the hiring manager. On a side note, always arrive at an interview with a clean car and an organized bag - you never know when you will need to dig for a pen, or when an interviewer will walk you out! 

3 // Avoid drinking during an interview. Often times, you will be offered a beverage leading into your interview - a cup of coffee, a glass of water. While it may seem tempting, especially with sweaty palms and a dry throat, I suggest turning the offer down. Imagine knocking that glass of water all over the desk and paperwork in front of you, or spilling coffee down your white dress shirt.

4 // Research common interview questions and practice answering them. Most interviews cover the same types of questions, "explain a time that you gave great customer service", "explain an opportunity you had to fix a problem for a dissatisfied client", and so forth. A quick Google search will yield plenty of questions to practice.

5 // Figure out the best way to answer the question, "Why don't you tell me about yourself?" As any blogger will know, writing your "about me" page is the most difficult part of blogging. Interviewers often start with this question to see how you will handle an open ended request. It is easy to list off hobbies or interests but this question should be used to explain your strengths and accomplishments, future goals and indirectly, how that fits the company and its interests.

6 // If you are looking to enter a new field or industry, understand the industry you are looking to enter and be able to communicate why you are interested in it. Companies realize that the economy is tough and individuals are looking for jobs across many fields just in hopes of finding a good position. Even if this is the case for you, if you are looking outside of your past employment industries, understand what interests you in the field. For instance, I just took a position at a veterinary hospital - an industry out of my usual comfort zone. In my interview, rather than saying "well I love animals!," I discussed how my past experience paralleled what I thought the veterinary hospital needed.

7 // Come prepared for the interview. It isn't safe to assume that the interviewer has or has even seen your resume. Even if they have read it, it may not be handy for the interview itself. For that reason, you should always bring at least one copy of your resume, if not more. Being prepared could also mean bringing a design portfolio, a list of references, or anything other relevant materials.

8 // Bring a list of questions. This ties in to points 1 and 7 but I noticed that this was one of my weaknesses in interviewing for jobs here in New Mexico! After researching the company, you may find yourself without answers to questions like - where is this company headed in five years? What are some trends in this industry? You may also have more direct questions like - what is the dress code for this position? How are employees scheduled? It is easiest to have your questions answered in the interview, this also makes you more prepared to accept or decline a position if it is offered.

9 // Be prepared to negotiate salary. You should never be the first one to bring up this topic but you should always be prepared for the discussion. You should know what you're willing to accept when you arrive for the interview - you can determine this based on your own budget, and also by researching salary statistics for similar positions. If the position interests you but perhaps has a lower salary than you'd like, be willing to discuss benefits, or perhaps shortening the time it would take to be eligible for a raise.

10 // Apply to fewer jobs! I put this tip last because it is not actually for the interview itself but it may make your interviewing experience easier. In fact, I think this might be the best tip on the list. If you apply to a large number of jobs, you may get quite a few interviews making it more difficult to choose which jobs to interview with. You may also get interviews for positions that aren't a good fit for you, making the interview uncomfortable. Rather than sending a uniform cover letter and resume to one hundred different positions, choose a few you are really interested in and then tailor your application materials to the position, company and industry.

So tell me, what piece of advice would you add to this list? What piece of advice do you think is the most helpful?

Monday, April 8, 2013

An Unplanned Afternoon

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Sometimes things don't turn out as planned.
Sometimes they turn out better.

All throughout the week, we set our sights on a weekend hiking trip. With a forty-two hour work schedule, and five o'clock alarm wake ups, the thought of a three day weekend was the only thing getting me through.

We woke this morning, eager to leave. Errands were ran, sunscreen was applied, and a picnic lunch was packed. We folded down seats, loaded Buddy into the truck, and set out for Kasha-Ketuwe Tent Rocks - another location on my New Mexico bucket list.

But, as I said, things don't always turn out as planned. We arrived at the gate to be turned away - as dogs are apparently no longer welcome on land management grounds. A real shame for the dog who was perhaps looking forward to the hike more than we were.

Rather than look at the trip as a loss, we took advantage of the sunny weather, and our Monday off, spending our afternoon alongside a windy but quiet Cochiti Lake. We ate picnic sandwiches; Buddy indecisively walked in and out of the cold water, debating an early season swim.

And, for a moment, I almost forgot we were in the desert.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Snapshots | On The Road


I have been meaning to stop in and share a few snapshots from our moving journey but with guest posts to share, a house to unpack, and the start of a new job, I hadn't found the time until now. You don't mind pictures seeing the pictures a few days (or maybe a week and a half) late, do you?

Our seventeen hour drive took us through Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico - adding three new states to my list. Along the way I was disappointed in hitting Idaho snow, amazed by the red rocks of Utah, and uncomfortable with the hotel arrangements we encountered in middle-of-nowhere Colorado.

I don't know that I will ever tire of seeing America. While living in New Mexico the first time, a man who had traveled the world mentioned to Trevor that it made no sense to travel outside of America until you had seen most of the country's states and regions. We get so wrapped up in visiting foreign and exotic locals, that we take for granted the variety within our own country. Living in Pennsylvania, Montana and New Mexico has engrained that idea deep within my mind; each state is so different and yet we function as a single entity.

While I spent the weeks proceeding the move complaining about the impending drive, I have no complaints about the hours spent laughing at Buddy's road trip antics or listening to Trevor's attempts to sing along with the strange African tribal music his iPod insisted on playing.

These photos are just a quick look at our drive, a fun reminder of the journey that brought us here.

So tell me, how many states have you visited? Which region of the United States is your favorite? Which is on your list to visit? I've loved the Southwest since my first visit to Arizona but I can't wait to see the Pacific Coast or the states of New England.