Clear Eyes, Full Hearts.

Y'all. In the name of all that is Texas football, WHERE HAVE I BEEN FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS THAT FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS WAS AIRING ON TV?! Why on EARTH have I never (until now) let myself succumb to the fantastic world that is Dillon, Texas?

Sunday night we sat down with Season 1, Episode 1, and have blown through the first 8 episodes in two days. The story lines, the characters, the acting (minus Minka Kelly, ick), the DEAD-ON ACCURACY which the creators captured small-town, football-obsessed Texas with... it is all perfection. I have admittedly cried through a good handful of the first few episodes (if you're a watcher, you know why), and then I get happy and cry as well. And then it makes me miss home and I might cry a little there too.

There was a Dillon pep rally in one of last night's episodes- I was immediately transported back to my high school (Go 'Cats!) and the magic that was Football Friday. Throughout all of high school, I was on the dance team (sequined cowboy hat, white tassled cowboy boots, skirt with a petticoat- it doesn't get much more Texan than that), which meant that dancing at pep rallies and football games was a MUST. We were the halftime entertainment, my friends, and entertained we did! Kicks to our noses and jump splits through the air-- if it could make the crowd "Oooh" and "Aaah," we were THERE.

There might have been a wine-fueled moment a couple of weekends ago when I felt the need to prove to Brian that YES I CAN STILL DO A HIGH KICK! I succeeded, though Lord, how your flexibility goes when you haven't kicked your nose in, oh seven years.

So we're watching the episode and a pep rally the morning of one of the big games comes on. As much as I was excited and having my little ole flashbacks, Brian was confused. He looked at me and said "That's not what happens at a pep rally."


Apparently, these big elaborate pep rallies are not common. Apparently, they are limited to the football-proud high schools of the south. His question of "What happened to your morning classes?" was answered with "Um, on Fridays, first period was cancelled for pep rallies, obviously." APPARENTLY, in little ole beach town Massachusetts, a pep rally consists of the respective team in their nice tucked in polos, with a good encouraging speech from the coach, then everyone was sent back to class.

How would I sum up MY high school pep rallies? Face paint; different themes for every game/week; football players in their jerseys; coaches wives lined up with the babies (decked out in Wildcat blue, of course); little ones running around the gym floor, throwing footballs around, then turning to stare in awe as the big boys come walking in; the band playing; the drumline playing the entrance cadence before the fight song; everyone in the entire gym hooking pinkies and singing the alma mater... I'm not lying when I say that it gives me chills.

Brian laughs a bit when I get all emotional and wrapped up in the show, but I know that he doesn't get it. He's never really been a part of something THAT BIG. My entire hometown shuts down on Friday nights to go watch our Wildcats. Winning or losing, everyone's there. As much as I hated it when I lived there and couldn't wait to move away, now that I'm so far from it, I ache for it a bit. There are few things more exciting in life than the electricity that radiates from a high school football game in Texas.

I do pray that things might work in my favor and perhaps we'll make the move back someday. We shall see. Until then I will cheer for the Dillon Panthers (no, I'm not completely nuts; I'm aware that they are fictional) and smile to myself because I know that when they created this TV show they hit the nail on the head.

Texas Forever. Amen.

Food and Books = Katie in a nutshell.

So if I've figured out anything since I started working on eating healthier and losing weight, it's that I absolutely HAVE to plan out my meals. There's a big motto at Weight Watchers-- failing to plan is planning to fail. As corny as that might sound, it's annoyingly true, at least for me. I stumble, trip then take a face plant forward if I don't have enough snacks and food with me during the day for meals. Since I sit at a desk all day long, I'm very grateful that I'm not a mindless snacker, sitting here and plowing through bags of chips and stashed chocolate all day long.

My problem, is that I am a craving-based boredom eater through and through. If I have fun little things like clementines and string cheese to snack on, I'm completely satisfied and happy and feel great because I know I've made good choices. When I DON'T pack my faithful handy snacks and feel tired/stressed/aggravated/bored, I sneak down to visit Veronica at the little cart in the entry to my building. Girlfriend supplies me with Stacy's Cinnamon Pita Chips, overpriced Pirate's Booty, and the best sea-salted dark chocolate I've ever had. It's a fabulous relationship, minus the negative effect it has on my waistline.

After purchasing my second chocolate bar from her in two days (in my defense, I had only eaten two little pieces of one of the bars, but the PMSing side of my brain told me to stock up for the weekend, as disturbing as that sounds), I knew that I needed to plan my healthy foods for today.

And so I present to you...

The Art of A Perfectly Packed Pre-Planned Lunch Bag

Here we have my lovely, adorable little Vera lunch bag.

I heart it and literally bring my lunch to work in it every day. Prior to adding it to my Christmas list this year (thanks Mom/Santa!), I was worried it would be too small to fit the massive amounts of food that I bring for myself during the day. Thankfully, I was completely mistaken! It can fit most frozen meal boxes (minus the Healthy Choice Steamers - that was a fail) and still have room for extras.

I like to get crafty with how I bring my food and cut back on using baggies as much as possible, so I have fun little Tupperware that I try to use. One of my other big secrets is that I love bringing leftovers the following day. It's a money saver considering I have to plan/buy for fewer lunches during the week, and I'm not dropping $10 for a salad at Au Bon Pain (yes this happens and it PAINS me).

Curious about just how much food can fit inside? Prepare to be amazed.

Starting with the clear and green Tupperware we have leftover stuffed eggplant from dinner last night, roasted mushrooms above that, cherry tomatoes in the purple container, my overpriced La Croix Cran-Raspberry treat from Tarjay, a mini Babybel Light, 0% Black Cherry Chobani, and four clementines.

Do not judge, for I shall eat well today and know just what to jot down in my food journal. As aggravating as it might be to keep, it 100% keeps me grounded and focused when it comes to food. Splurging is a lot less fun when you have to own it.

One last thing...

HP has stolen my heart. You would think that with my being an English major/avid reader/lover of all children's literature that at some point I would have read the Harry Potter series. I did not. Looking back, I'm not sure WHY I didn't... Fantasy doesn't always appeal to me, but I figured that I could only declare myself rightful in working in children's publishing (hopefullymaybesomeday) if I put the time into tackling one of the most infamous series of all time (Seriously, JK Rowling? As much as I'd love to hate you, I've gotta give you credit on the whole writing this in near-poverty. Betcha didn't know what was waiting for you at the end of the Harry Potter rainbow.) I'm reading it during my commute each day and have already informed my mom that she'll need to be shipping me all of my brother's long-forgotten HARDCOVER copies (for a reader on a budget, hardcover books are like coveted gold. $7.99 mass paperback copies all the way!) asap.

In addition, I've never watched any of the movies because I knew at some point, someday, I'd break down and make myself read everything, and I didn't want to spoil anything. This stems from my belief that a book is very rarely made into a film that can top the quality of a novel. I stand firmly by that, though I'm SO excited to see how this one turns out:

Amen, and Happy Friday!!

Wait, what do you mean it's Thursday? Oh that's right... IT'S MY FRIDAY and I'll cheer if I want to.

'Til later, my lovelies.

A baby and sangria. But not how you think.

My excuse for not blogging is that I have no excuse. We have also been 52 kinds of busy the last couple of weeks, so I'm using lots of my extra effort that would typically go towards blogging to fulfill my basic needs. You know-- keeping my eyes open at work, forcing myself to the gym, etc.

The positive is that today is my Thursday! We have a big weekend ahead of us, with Brian's family coming in from all over so we can all make the trip to their condo in New Hampshire to celebrate his grandparents' 85th birthdays. It will be exciting and exhausting all at once.

Thursday night this little guy gets into town. He's obviously all about coming dressed for the party:

Friday I have no idea what our plans are, other than NOT working! Oh, and I shall be making approximately 3 gallons of sangria to transport to NH for the weekend. It could be amazing; could be a disaster. I believe I'm going to follow good ole Pioneer Woman's recipe from her cookbook. When it comes to Ree, you can't be wrong. I'm also just a teensy bit excited to make & take the sangria, considering I purchased this just for the occasion!!

I just read reviews and people say it leaks. This makes me sad. And stresses me out. Pray it does not leak red sangria all over New Hampshire and back. Do I keep the darn thing and test it, or do I take it back, get my $60 back, and buy something cheap just to use for the weekend (the more I consider that, the more sense it makes. Who knows what could happen with all of these people consuming adult beverages all day. If it broke, I would probably lose it. Consider I'm not officially part of their family, I don't think a freak out would go over well).

I'm off to finish Game of Thrones. I don't 100% follow everything that's going on, but Brian's into it and keeps reminding me that he's not turning it on until I finish here... because of the key-tapping. It's the kind of day where that juuuust almost irked me. A lot.

'Til later, my lovelies!

Marsala Orzo

This makes two weeks IN A ROW that I'm linking up with Kelly's Korner for her fab Show Us Your Life series... Sadly, there were no blogs in between the two, but let's let bygones be bygones, shall we?

This is absolutely one of my favorite side dishes ev-er. Brian constantly requests it, and family and friends have called me numerous times for the recipe. The best part? It calls for ingredients that I almost always have on hand AND it takes hardly any time at all. A blogger that I read, Stephanie Cooks, originally posted the recipe, and I've kind of adapted it over time to my own liking. The recipe below has been modified here and there by me :)

Marsala Orzo

photo courtesy of Stephanie Cooks

1 cup mushrooms, chopped (I like portobello because of the darker color)
1 cup baby spinach, sliced into ribbons (honestly, I sometimes leave this out. It's amaze-balls just with the mushrooms and flavors)
1/2 cup orzo (after searching for-ev-er amongst the rice, I found it with the pasta. Who knew?) 1/4 cup marsala wine (will completely cook out but gives SO much flavor)
1 1/4 cup chicken broth, more depending on consistency
1 Tbsp light cream
garlic powder
onion powder
cooking spray

1. Spray a small skillet with cooking spray. Add the mushrooms, cook 3-4 minutes or until almost done. Add the spinach, stirring constantly until spinach wilts down. Remove the veggies to a small dish; set aside.

***If there's any juice leftover from the mushrooms, don't wipe down the pan but pour the juice out***

2. Spray the same skillet with cooking spray. Add the orzo and stir frequently until some of the pasta starts to turn golden.

3. Add the marsala wine, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth. It will get steamy and give off a big ole *WHOOOSH* sound as the liquids hit the pan... it's fabtastic.

4. Stir in your seasonings- garlic powder, onion powder, s&p

5. Lower the heat and allow the pasta to cook until most of the chicken broth is absorbed
(I let mine cook for a while on a really low temp-- it makes the pasta super plump. The worst thing you can do is cook it on high and let all of the liquid cook out before the pasta is cooked. Patience is key here. If the chicken broth cooks down but the orzo is still too firm to your taste, add a bit more and keep on cooking. You really cannot mess this up... unless, like I said, you scorch it.)
6. Add the light cream, and stir to taste.
7. Stir the veggies back in and allow to heat together for about 2-3 minutes.

Y'all, I promise you. This is amazing. I've played around and made other variations of the recipe. I leave out the mushrooms and spinach and add thinly shredded mozzarella and sliced basil. It is divine.

Paula Deen's Spinach and Bacon Quiche

Ladies (and gents?), I advise you to right this very second through all waistlines to the wind and make this quiche. It will change your life (and the number on your scale), but when the lady with a deep fryer in her kitchen island sends a recipe such as this out into the world, it is our duty to create and share the wealth.


As part of Kelly's Show Us Your Life series, I've decided to throw my hat into the breakfast recipe ring with a quiche. Quiche is one of my favorite dishes for the following reasons:
-It can be made ahead of time
-After baking, it transports well
-It can be a breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner food
-It combines a handful of my favorite food groups: carbs, cheese, meat

This particular quiche was my contribution to The Boyfriend's family Easter brunch this year and, not to toot my own horn or anything, but there may have been fights for the leftovers. It's THAT tasty.

Paula Deen's Spinach and Bacon Quiche
(via The Food Nework)

Prep Time: 15 min; Cook Time: 45 min
Servings: 8

6 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach, packed
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust, fitted to a 9-inch glass pie plate

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper in a food processor (Note: I just whipped it all in a bowl and it came out just fine). Layer the spinach, bacon, and cheese in the bottom of the pie crust, then pour the egg mixture on top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the egg mixture is set.

Ohhh yum. I wish I had a photo of my own quiche, but Paula's will have to do. Seriously-- do me a favor and make this pronto. Just don't blame me when your jeans are a tad bit snug the next day.