Friday, April 23, 2010

Defended.

Last night I successfully defended my thesis project. Oh yes, I did! This was the culminating make-or-break moment for earning my Master's degree. I gave a 25ish minute presentation on my project (research, methods, results, etc) followed by a pretty brutal 20 minutes of Q&A by my advisor committee. I received a "Pass, with no revisions" and a round of handshakes from the faculty. It hasn't really sunk in yet, but I did it!

BD, Kip, and I went for a run and then for a late night Sonic Blast to celebrate.

I guess it is particularly apropos that this print arrived in the mail today:


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The List

I have exactly 2 more weeks left of school for this semester. My last project is due on May 5. (I have one class to take this summer then I am D-O-N-E completely!)

I am counting down the days and making a list of all the things I want to do in the 2.5 weeks between the end of spring semester and the beginning of summer semester.

Here's the current list:
  1. read for pleasure (I've had my fill of required reading this semester!)
  2. clean out/organize my closet
  3. clean out/organize bathroom closet
  4. clean out/organize kitchen pantry (are we sensing a theme here?)
  5. cross stitch
  6. strip and repaint a set of bookshelves
  7. plant annuals in pots for the deck
Looks like it's going to be a busy 2.5 weeks!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pizza Dough

Over the past few months I've been using a really simple pizza dough recipe for our homemade pizzas (I always used a Pillsbury refrigerated crust before).

This is the easiest dough recipe I've found (please share if you have others!) - I can prep it in about 15 minutes; it takes about 1.5 hours to rise, and I haven't once screwed it up yet!

Click the link above for the exact recipe, but here are the basic steps:

Sprinkle the yeast over warm water.

While the yeast is doing whatever it is that yeast does, I get the dry ingredients ready. I like to use Gold Medal Bread flour - mainly because it's the kind my local grocery store carries.



Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the liquid mixture. Action shot!


Switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook and in about 5 minutes it will look like this:


The next part gets a little messy!


Put it into a lightly oiled, deep bowl and cover.


I usually let this rise for about 1.5-2 hours. Although last week I totally forgot about it and left it for 4 hours, and it was just fine. It will look something like this:


This recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas. I store the dough in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it if we're not going to use it right away.

Here's my latest creation: Honey Dijon BLT pizza




Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Springy

Everything is in full bloom around here! Everything is also covered in a thick coat of yellow pollen.

Our snowball bush with its first snowball of the year.


The lilac plant with its first (ever!) bloom.


The cherry tree and dogwood tree that we planted last year are all bloomed out.


And the first rose of the season has appeared. The rose bushes are covered in buds, so we should have an abundance of roses over the next month.


Last weekend we went to the Carolina blue and white game and strolled through Coker Arboretum while we were on campus. The azaleas were gorgeous and taller than us!


The weather was perfect for the spring football game. There were about 30,000 people there - a great turnout to cheer on the team. We got to see the new red shirt freshman quarterback make his debut...looks like he's going to give TJ a run for his money this season. And surprise -- Carolina won! (It was an intra-team scrimmage.)



Monday, April 12, 2010

Age Ain't Nothin' But A Number

Today I am turning 30 years old. 30! Holy crap, how did that happen?!

As usual...Rachel, Joey, and the gang say it best:


Monday, April 5, 2010

Indoor S'mores

Now that the weather is warming up, the opportunity for fireplace s'mores is slipping away.

I found this super-easy recipe on the back of the milk chocolate morsels bag that I was eating directly from that I had for another recipe.

It's basically a variation of the traditional Rice Krispies treat recipe.

Melt butter, chocolate, and marshmallows.



Pour over the graham cracker cereal and mix. Add a few unmelted marshmallows to pretty it up a bit.


Smoosh into a greased 11x9 pan and refrigerate until set (about an hour). Easy and delicious!


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Southwestern Egg Rolls

I've always wanted to try to make egg rolls, but it always seemed like it would be too complicated to be worth it. Recently I found a recipe that looked too good to pass up.

I sent BD to the Asian supermarket to get egg roll paper, and we got busy. (The rest of the ingredients were available at my local grocery store.)

BD mixed up the filling for me. We used just what it called for in the recipe -- spinach, corn, black beans, rice, cheese, and assorted spices.

I did most of the rolling. BD tried, but his rolls didn't quite meet my standards stay together as well as mine.



I also liked this recipe because they were baked in the oven instead of fried. It made them less greasy than the usual restuarant egg rolls, and we didn't stink up the house like fried food. We ate this with BD's homemade salsa. Next time I'll also make some homemade ranch dressing.