Friday, January 25, 2013

Post Graduation Trip

My dear, dear husband graduates from Nurse Anesthesia school this year. I'm already beginning to plan the celebration vacation we'll take!!! Wahoo!

With an odd graduation date of December 2013 (instead of the traditional spring date) it makes travel plans interesting. Should we take a trip before the holidays? Should it be before or after his board exams?

See Tony has to take his board exams to be a CRNA (that's the certified part!). Many students it seems take a month or two to study before sitting them after graduation. Some students seem to go straight to vacationing, then study in January.
  • Option 1 -
    • graduation (early December 2013)
    • vacation - 2nd week December
    • study for boards
    • Christmas (more travelling?)
    • more studying for boards? (for someone who needs a lot of study time)
    • take exam (Jan/Feb 2014)
  • Option 2 -
    • graduation (early December 2013)
    • study for boards (Tony doesn't think he needs much time #hesmysmartyhusbandbackoff).
    • Christmas (travelling?)
    • take exam
    • vacation early 2014
  • Option 3 -
    • graduation (early December 2013)
    • study for boards
    • take exam (may or may not be able to get Dec date)
    • vacation OVER Christmas (sorry family)
What vacations do people take in December/January? We'll probably want to spend the holidays with one of our families in VA or OH, but still want to fit in our vacation, and potentially other things like moving/relocating and starting a new job(s).

Tony thinks that if we take a vacation before his boards it'll detract from the fun. I think I would feel the same. We'll enjoy it more if we can both go free, with nothing hanging over our heads. Nobody wants to study while in Hawaii (except those who live there; lucky).

That brings us to... location?!
Our first thoughts - Caribbean to escape the winter cold... or maybe ski vacation.

Ski bunny Robin circa 1991; Chamonix, France (?)

Going somewhere international could be awesome sauce and something we've wanted to do for years. Yep we went to Puerto Rico for our honeymoon - does that count? We could also skip over to hawaii since that would be amazing in January (winter is for suckers). OR, in a winterisNOTforsuckers way, we could go skiing. OR something the middle (what would that be?). Oh the choices.

It doesn't help that we have no budget yet. With some 2013 income still up in the air we have no idea how much we should spend or what realm we should begin looking. Hopefully we'll know more the farther we get in the year, that way we can begin saving and planning.

Any recommendations?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Favorite Things

I've put together some of the things we've been loving here at Our Semi Organic Life. Our favorite things!

1. Raspberry Enlightenment. This stuff is the best! It's sort of a jam that you can put on anything and mix with anything. We've done it on toast, mixed on salads, topped french toast, mixed with greek yogurt, put in oatmeal. You can also use it on meat, veggies and more! It's from Penzeys and we'll probably have to order it in bulk soon.

2. Our Kitchen Aid hand blender. We're practically on soup week 3.0 here and one of my favorite types of soups is pureed soups. Thus the hand blender is necessary. We use it a. l. o. t.

3. Kiss my Face - olive oil soap. This bar is lasting forever. I love it in the shower since it's light, not drying like most soap, and it's organic. I had a coupon for something like $4 off so it was a great deal.

On a side topic - I found this site ( and love it! How cool that they have all natural/organic brands all in one place. Love this. I am not paid to say this, I just love playing on the site. No orders yet since we're still not rich. #oneday

4. Chia seeds - we've been eating 'summer porridge' or overnight oatmeal from this blog: One thing I love about it is the addition of chia seeds. Makes it extra healthy.

5. My iPhone 5. I finally got one for Christmas. There was a sale at Best Buy for the 16 gb for $150 (down from $200), then they had to price match Walmart for $127. Then I sold my old iPhone 3GS for $40 here, which brought the final price of my phone to $87! Worth every (discounted) penny.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ditalini Soup

We've been on a soup kick at our house lately. It's winter and despite the warm weather here lately (65?!) I enjoy soups' comfort. While I never really ate soup as a child growing up (except for canned vegetarian vegetable occasionally) but I've been loving it lately! As usual we're into vegetarian soups, and if possible organic.

We made this soup from the recipe on the box. It was great. The key I'm finding in brothy soups is to - get this - use good broth. I sort of made my own in this case with vegan bullion cubes.

Ditalini Soup

1 onion, diced
2 cloves sliced garlic
olive oil for your pan
3 quarts of broth (you could even use more than this if you want)
3/4 cup of barley
1 cup ditalini pasta - or any small pasta shape
2-3 carrots, diced
1-2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium potato, peeled, diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice (alternative apple cider vinegar or any acid)

optional toppings - Parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast

I petite diced all my veggies. It's important to try and make them all about the same size. It cooks more evenly and I think is easier to eat this way.

Cook garlic & onion for about 3 minutes in olive oil. Use a heavy pot or your favorite soup pot. Add the broth and barley and simmer with no lid for 30 minutes. Then add the veggies and salt/pepper to taste. Cook on medium/high for about 6 more minutes (2/3 of the traditional cooking time for whatever pasta shape you're using). Then turn off the heat and let sit on the stove (no lid) for 20 more minutes. The pasta will absorb some more liquid. Taste and add lemon juice and any more salt if needed.

It was fabulous. Starchy but fabulous. Eat with hearty bread.

Some alternatives I'll change for next time: add a handful or two of spinach in the last 6 minutes, some diced tomatoes, some diced zucchini perhaps. I'd like to even up all the veggies and downsize the barley for a little healthier dinner. I googled this and of course came up with tons of different variations. Ones with beans, tomato sauce, chicken, or sausage. Basically you're making minestrone. The possibilities are endless.

We gobbled it up and didn't take any photos. Imagine yummy soup here >

Monday, January 14, 2013

Blogger meet up - it's veggie time!

Last week we had another Virginia is for Bloggers meet up, and what better way than to do it around food (again!)?! We went to Kitchen Thyme and got to get a wonderful food demo by Chef Tammy. She made us some wonderful vegetarian food that I loved. Great to meet bloggers I follow online and new girls too!

I even picked up some cooking tips such as: counterbalancing lemon (or acid) with salt and vise versus. You can put a moist paper towel over an open avocados to keep it fresh. I learned that anytime you're using low fat or light products (ie sour cream, milk, cheese etc) you re getting more water content than the full fat. Good to know.

We ate kale chips - which were waaayyyy better than when I made them at home. Hint: you don't have to make them all 'chip' like. Eating them soft with a bit of crunch is still good. Also add Parmesan. Yum!

I got my first taste of ABC juice - apple, beet, carrot. It wasn't bad. I got used to it after half a cup. I could totally see drinking this regularly. Chef Tammy's hint: don't peel anything, use all the skins. Obviously you'll need a juice, probably the one gadget our kitchen doesn't have.

We had this recipe - Delish! The fresh pineapple was perfect!

Other recipes we tried and I loved (heck I loved it all!) were:
Thanks to Relay Foods for sponsoring the event and providing all the food. The folks there are great!!

yummm... these mustard greens have butter and heavy cream. No wonder they're good!

Thanks to everyone who came out. I had a great time meeting everyone and watching Chef Tammy.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Meals for the Week - January 6th

Welcome Our Semi Organic Life back to the blog world! It's 2013 and I'm ready to blog more. Sorry for that long pause over the holidays. We're finally back to the normal schedule of full weeks of school and work. That means meal planning 7 days a week. Here's what's on the agenda. All vegetarian. 

We bought a work out bike and can't wait to get skinnies again!



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