Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A few of my favorite things

A few loves have come to my attention lately that I think you should know about also:

1. Amazon Prime
You pay for it yearly (unless you are a student, which I happen to be..), but it gives you free 2-day shipping. I've figured out that I can get almost anything on Amazon for cheaper than I can in any store: our cover for our laptop, my phone case was like $30 cheaper on amazon, a watch that I just purchased was over 30% cheaper.

2. Smith Optics
Cody introduced me to this sunglass company and I bought a pair of sunglasses from them a few Christmases ago. Well I happened to break them in the Spring (not at all surprising if you know me). They have a lifetime warranty and they no longer carried my particular glasses, so I got to pick a brand new pair of sunglasses! A company that actually stands by their lifetime warranty = amazing! Also, if you do not have polarized lenses you are missing out! They are AMAZING!

3. Rest days
I tend to push myself when running/working out . Rest days are so important. I usually have at least one day a week that I do not run/workout at all and my body is better for it. (A few rest days are good, but my allergies have been AWFUL since Friday, so I haven't been able to get in a good run...enough already!)

4. Breakfast
Now that I actually have time for breakfast in the summer, I'm developing some new favorites.
1. Green Monster Smoothies (greek yogurt, a tiny bit of milk, frozen fruit, spinach and a few ice cubes)
2. Breakfast sandwiches (Bagels/english muffins with 2 scrambled eggs, a piece of cheddar and 2 pieces of turkey bacon)
3. Toast with greek yogurt instead of butter topped with a little bit of Crofter's Superfruit Spread
4. Overnight oats - it makes me feel like I've cooked breakfast for my husband who still has to get up early for work in the summer..

What are your favorite things right now?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tilapia Stuffed with Spinach and Feta

On Monday, aka the day after we returned from the beach, I had been teaching a science camp and had not yet taken the time for my weekly grocery store trip, which meant creative thinking for dinner. I could not come up with something on my own, so I googled recipes+tilapia+spinach (ingredients that I did have at home). This little gem came up and even added feta to the mix (which I of course also had). It was super easy and had great flavor. I served it with zucchini and squash that had been tossed in olive oil and season all and grilled on the George Foreman (I have also heard that zucchini and squash is great to grill after tossing in Italian seasoning..I just didn't have any). I know it kind of looks like a wimpy meal, but it was super filling.

Tilapia Stuffed with Spinach and Feta

tilapia - fillets 4
salt 1 tsp
black pepper 1/2 tsp
olive oil 2 Tbsps
garlic clove 2 minced
spinach 6 cups washed well and stems removed
feta cheese 2 Tbsps
unsalted butter 2 Tbsps
toothpicks 8


  1. Salt and pepper the tilapia fillets and refrigerate for at least a 1/2 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a sauté over medium heat.
  4. Add the minced garlic cloves and spinach. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the spinach has wilted. Remove from the heat.
  5. Add the feta cheese and mix well.
  6. Place the tip of the tilapia fillet in front of you. Spoon a tablespoon of the spinach feta cheese filling on the tip. Roll away from you and secure with toothpicks. Repeat.
  7. Place the rolled tilapia fillets seam down in a baking dish. In the middle of the dish place the unsalted butter.
  8. Place in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Remove the toothpicks, drizzle with the melted butter, and serve.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

A few weeks ago, our pastor was talking about looking forward to going home to fresh baked chocolate chip, walnut, banana bread. Well of course this stuck in my head. We had the inevitable 2 bananas that were past their prime so I originally thought that peanut butter, chocolate chip banana bread sounded good (LOVE LOVE LOVE Peanut butter!), but then I decided that I wanted my husband to actually eat some of the bread, so I found a chocolate chip, banana bread recipe instead (we didn't have any walnuts).

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
from Rachel Ray
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 bananas, mashed (1 cup mashed banana)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F .

2. Grease and flour a 8 1/2-inch x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan (or use baking spray, such as Baker's Joy brand).

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix in the oil, bananas and eggs. Stir in the chocolate chips (do not overmix!) and pour into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 70-80 minutes. Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool completely, right side up.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Make your own Playdough

I remember making this play dough with my mom when we were little. The great thing is that you can pick the color, it smells great and it makes a ton of play dough. Erin and I made this last week and of course made it purple because that is her favorite color. If I had planned better, we would have also added glitter, because what girl doesn't like glitter!?

Kool-Aid Play dough


    • 2 1/2 cups flour
    • 1/2 cup salt
    • 2 (4 g) packages unsweetened Kool-Aid powdered drink mix
    • 2 cups boiling water
    • 3 tablespoons oil


  1. Mix flour, salt, Kool-Aid until blended.
  2. Add oil to boiling water, mix with spoon until cool enough to knead.
  3. Continue kneading until color is blended.
  4. Store in air tight bag or container in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Galveston Round 2

My family always meets up for at least a long weekend each summer. We found a great "resort" in Galveston last summer called Pointe West (it's far enough outside of Galveston to avoid the crowds), so we returned to it this year.
On Friday my mom, dad, Erin and I headed down to Kemah. We had bought a groupon back in the spring for a spa day at Kemah Bella Spa for massages, facials, manis and pedis. It was amazing! The spa is in this little old house just a few blocks from from the Kemah Boardwalk. I had not had a massage in forever and a facial ever, so it was a wonderfully, relaxing experience.
our pretty toes, freshly pedicured
Kemah Bella Spa

Then we met dad, EG, Brad, Jen and Alex at this Greek place right across the street called Bakkhus. I'm on a big Greek food kick. They had wonderful flavored, homemade hummus and I had a grilled chicken pita. A great find!

After lunch we headed to Galveston for a little beach time before it got too dark. Cody joined us that night.
The next day we spent relaxing at the beach and pool

before heading to the Moody Gardens Aquarium (where they had all sorts of beautiful sea creates and even had penguins, but they were asleep for the night..).

For dinner we went to Fisherman's Wharf which was casual, but had great seafood.
Sunday we spent more beach/pool time before Cody and I had to head back to Houston for the work week.
Cody and EG racing to the beach

Brad and EG flying kites
Of course I had to get her a princess kite

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Play date

One of the joys of having time off in the summer is having more time for family. Mom and I already got to spend a few days together earlier in the summer. My sweet niece is 3 which is SUCH a fun age! So I managed to finalge her away from her parents for a few days. I went the other day to Waco to pick her up and got to stop by my sweet Mamaw's house for an afternoon of lunch and chatting. I LOVE getting to see that lady : )
Since Erin's been here we have:
Visited the Houston Zoo

Had a picnic by the lake in Herman Park (I had no idea how great Herman Park was!)

Rode the Herman Park train (which I think was her favorite thing)

Played in the dirt (we've just moved one of the flower beds in our backyard)

Played in the sprinklers (to get rid of the dirt)

Made our own playdough ("recipe" to come)
I've had a blast with her and can't wait until she gets to come to stay again!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Prayer Request

The Sikes family received devastating news yesterday. Kara and I were Zetas together at Baylor. She and her husband have a baby boy who had a brain tumor removed 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately in the past two weeks the brain tumor has not only grown back, but has spread. They now have to decide whether to start an aggressive treatment or to bring him home and make him comfortable. The doctors are very skeptical about the treatment. Please pour your prayers over this family for guidance in their decision, peace, and comfort. I can only imagine what a difficult time this is for them right now. You can read about James' story on their blog.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Girls' Weekend 2011: Galveston

Our yearly girls' weekend kind of started on Thursday night this year. Beth came in a night early and we met up with some friends at Bingo in the Heights. Some friends had been before and we had heard how fun it was, so we were excited to go. We however were not prepared for the massive number of people there! So glad Carolina and Lauren got there early enough to get us a table or we wouldn't have been allowed in. (Bingo started at 7:45 and they got there at 6 and luckily got a place for us to sit). This Bingo was primarily young professionals and oh so inexpensive. The cards I think were like $5 for the entire time! We had fun and had VERY interesting people sitting around us. One was quite vocal about her dislike of other people winning. We one time timed her "booing" for 14 seconds... Unfortunately none of us won anything, but we def. enjoyed ourselves!

On Friday, Beth and I got up and went for a little run before running errands to finish getting ready for the weekend. We then headed to our condo in Galveston to get everything set up before the rest of the crew got there.

Here are the cupcakes I made. (I would wait to ice/decorate them until the day and place you were going to serve them. I decorated mine the day before and the gum chairs became super floppy by the next day).

Once we were all set up, we realized the rest of the crew wouldn't be there for a while so we hit the beach for a bit.

Once Traci, Hannah and Liz arrived, we cooked a lasagna that I had previously made and frozen (great meal to prepare beforehand) and caught up with our sweet friends!

Saturday morning bright and early, Lauren and Carolina came down to Galveston for Lauren, Carolina, Beth and I to run a 10 miler. So glad we ran and finished, but my goodness it was hot and I was not prepared hydration wise for the run. We ran five miles down the seawall before realizing that all of us were out of water. At that point we realized we were out of water and still had the five miles to go back. We ended up running over to a fast food restaurant that was not yet open and finding an employee washing the windows. He brought us waters and saved our beehineys so we could rehydrate and finish our run. Thank you random man!

After the run (everyone else ran/walked too..we are so fit!), and did a little decorating,

we spent a little time at the Strand before grabbing lunch and heading to the beach.

Cutest little mama!! Traci (& Jaxson) Doesn't she look AMAZING!?

Dinner was at Gaido's and oh so yummy!! Afterwards, Liz, Hannah, Carolina and Lauren had to head back and the three remaining of us had a very chill night.

The next morning we had a little more pool time before heading to Mosquito Cafe for lunch. I don't know how I've missed this place every other time that I've been in Galveston...maybe because its off the beaten path, but I am so glad we found it! Its off the beaten path, not on the seawall, not by the cruise ships, not by the strand, but it is oh so busy! We got there right before the lunch crowd had picked up and had a very yummy lunch. I had a turkey sandwich that had bacon, lettuce, grilled apples, melted brie and mayo. It was ridiculously huge but a perfect mixture of textures and flavors. I will def. be returning!

We also happened to spy a cute little bakery right across the street called Patty Cakes so we decided to investigate. The "holy cow" was amazing. I cannot remember for the life of me exactly what was in it, but it was good! Then we headed back to Houston for everyone to return to their homes.

I feel so blessed to have such wonderful friends and to have such a wonderful tradition of meeting up each year! Our lives have changed so much since high school/college but am so thankful that our friendships have just continued to grow! Love you all and cannot wait until next year!