[And welcome to my little blog.]

I'm Amanda! So happy you are here. Grab a glass of wine, read along, and let's be friends.

Beautiful homemade dresses on Etsy

Thursday, September 30, 2010
So how cute (and best of all cheap!) are these beautiful dresses from Etsy?  Why do I ever buy a dress at Banana Republic or Von Maur?

Grecian Romantic Rosette Woven Goddess Dreamy White Chiffon Dress.

So my blog has officially inspired someone else... Yes!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
So I've shared my blog with only a few close friends... and generally only when I've been tipsy enough to disclose my new (somewhat dorky) hobby.  My friend Stacie sent me this facebook message saying that she liked my blog and that because of what I had posted about recycling her and her brand new husband Brad bought some recycling bins. Behold the power of the blog! 

Click on the image to see a closer view.

Stacie and Brad - love you both!

Round steak and potatoes

We bought some round steak from Thistles and Clover at the Farmer's Market a few weeks ago.  According to the Thistles and Clover newsletter, round steak is steak that comes from the "round" upper hind leg of the cow that is heavily exercised which makes it a very lean cut of steak.  This leanness can also make it a pretty tough piece of meat (unless carefully cooked), so it is a very affordable cut - less than half the price of the steaks we typically buy.  In their September newsletter Thistles and Clover included a recipe on how to cook a round steak properly.  Kevin took the initiative to marinade the steaks in his own custom marinade last night.  He stabbed the steak with a fork to allow more juices inside the steak.  Here's a picture of Kevin today with his marinade right before going for a jog :)

I handled making the potatoes while Kevin studied.  I got the potato recipe from allrecipes.com and is such an easy and tasty recipe.  Only three ingredients - onion soup mix, olive oil, and potatoes.  Check out the recipe here.  Notice my orange sweater?  My $2.00 thrift store find from the Gap :)

Such a good student :)

After taking the steaks out of the marinade I patted them dry, then thinly sliced them in the opposite direction of the grain.  Put a tablespoon or two of cooking oil in a pan over medium heat and quickly sauteed on both sides.  Don't turn the pan up to high, and cook very quickly if you like your steak cooked medium to medium rare.  Serve right away since the thin slices don't retain their heat for long. 

The steak definitely turned out well for the price - it wasn't fillet mignon but a very good steak for a week-night.  I'm excited for steak sandwiches with the leftovers tomorrow.  :)

60,000 chickens dead...

This week a large North Carolina chicken coop temporarily lost power.  Because this was like so many other concentrated animal feeding operations where the animals were packed in extremely tight conditions, the coop required large constantly running fans to keep the temperatures in the coop in a liveable range.  Well when the fans stopped running, the air stopped flowing.  Like many large chicken operations this chicken coop wasn't under close supervion by any people, and nobody realized the power had gone out in the chicken coop until almost a week later... 60,000 dead chickens.  Just another insight into our broken food industry.  Some people that have asked why the chicken coops were not equipped with better back up generators to keep the fans running in a situation like this.  I think a better question is why the heck do we have 60,000 chickens packed so tightlty together in one enclosed building? 

This is just another reason I'm so happy that ethical local farmer's like Lucy and Adam in business - check out their family-run farm Thistles and Clover.  The pictures below are actual pictures of their little boy (I've met him) and their farm.  If everyone starts looking a little deeper into where they get their food comes from, Lucy and Adam will be so wildely successful and it will encourage more farmers to do business this way verses the type of farming that needlesly killed 60,000 chickens. 

I'm FINALLY jumping on the recycling bandwagon

Tuesday, September 28, 2010
My friend Steph was in town for our friends Stacie's wedding this weekend, and while she was here we got to talking about waste.  Somehow we trick ourselves into thinking that when we throw something away, it actually goes away.  I've long said I need to start recycling... well today I have finally decided to stop talking about it and start doing it.  Thanks for the kick in the butt Steph - you didn't even know you were doing it!

Unfortunately, we don't have a recycling option in our building (you'd think all of us urban condo dwellers would be screaming for recycling... oddly not).  Luckily my parents recycle at their house so we'll just plan on bringing over our recyclables when we come over for Sunday dinners.  Here are the signs I made today.  They're just PowerPoint slides so I can email them to anyone that's interested in using them. 

I'd say on average we go through 4-5 bags of trash a week....kind of sad when you consider we're only two people.  My goal is to get down to one.  We don't have our own recycling can yet, but I figure a paper bag will due for now.  I can't give myself another reason to procrastinate :)

My best friend's wedding (1 down, 3 to go!)

Monday, September 27, 2010
Stacie, one of my best friends, got married this weekend.  Whoot whoot Stacie and Brad!  This was my first time as a bridesmaid and I had a blast!  So much easier to be a bridesmaid than a bride...

Stacie and Kait after getting their hair done at the salon

Kait and I in our bridesmaid attire

Our shoes and flowers.  These heels may look innocent but they were actually about 6 inch heels that the bridesmaids concurred could be used as military torture devices...

The bride!

Steph and I doing our best mean faces on the party bus.

Thrift store finds

So in high school I worked at a thrift store called Thrift America and pretty much wore all thrift store clothes, and I loved it.  Yeah, maybe I would have preferred the designer clothes at Abercrombie and Fitch or American Eagle, but I had fun with my thrift store clothes and obviously didn't have to spend very much money to do so.  Then somewhere between college and corporate america I forgot just how wonderful thrift store shopping can be... not only cheap but also environmentally friendly.  Reduce, reuse, and recycle!  I can't wait to reuse the stuff I found this last Thursday at Thrift World.  A scarf, two books, a vase, and four tops all under $19.62!  My new goal is to buy 80% of my clothes / accessories at thrift stores!

Cleaning without chemicals or paper towels? What???


My Aunt Kate told me about this cleaning product she has been using for the last year that cleans only using a re-useable microfiber cloth and water.  I guess my cousin Janelle has been selling Norowex products for a few years and a lot of the women in my extended family swear by them. 

This has the potential to eliminate the 3 large paper towel rolls I go through every week (thank you Stephanie for making me feel so guilty!).  Here are the products that I bought today.  I'll keep you updated on my reviews:

Click here for a full list of products and additional information - click here!

So what is this magic cleaning?  Here's the brief summary my cousin Janelle put together.


“Top Questions and Answers”
What is Norwex? 

Norwex is a company that originated in Norway in 1994. The product line was originally developed for cleaning hospitals in Norway and has been tested and proven to be more effective than hazardous cleaning chemicals.  All you use is water!  The Norwex Mission statement is "To radically improve the quality of life by reducing the use of cleaning and personal care products".  

How does it work? 
  • Imagine a human hair split lengthwise 6 times, so that each of the 6 splits picks up dirt, debris and bacteria. That defines “microfiber,” 1/6th the size of a human hair.
  • Now imagine that same hair split lengthwise 100 times so that each of the 100 splits does the same. This defines a Norwex microfiber cloth.
  • Additionally, Norwex microfiber has a patent-pending silver agent (approved by the FDA and EPA) woven into the cloth itself.  Laboratory tests show that it kills 99.94% of all viruses (see pg 4.)
Why is Norwex microfiber better?

  • All you need to clean is water! NO CHEMICALS EVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!
  • A non-Norwex microfiber cloth will maintain its cleaning ability for up to about 25 washes, and will then become like a regular cotton cloth in its ability to clean. A Norwex Antibac microfiber cloth, on the other hand, still picks up 99.4% of bacteria after 500 washings!
  • 2.9 million meters of microfiber is used to make one small Enviro Cloth.
  • It holds up to seven times its weight in water.
  • Can reach into the tiniest crevices (even those in surfaces which appear smooth to the human eye) and scoop out hidden dirt and bacteria.  
  • Has a natural static charge that acts like a magnet to attract even the tiniest particles of dirt
  • Creates a capillary action  that draws dirt, grime and bacteria into the center wedge-shaped areas of the cloth

My favorite relationship book

Wednesday, September 22, 2010
My Godfather, "Uncle Bobby," gave Kevin and I this book for our wedding.  Not only is he my Godfather, but he has also been a marriage counselor for over 20 years and says this is his go-to recommendation for relationship books.  At first when I got this book I thought it was kind of weird... Kevin and I were newlyweds with no major problems on the horizon.  But, after thinking about it more, what better time though to continue to work on improving our relationship then when things are going well?  I've read so many fiction books and text books over the last 15 years, but this was the first book on relationships that I'd ever read.  I would highly recommend this book for all couples.  Marriage has such a profound affect on everyone's life, so maybe we should spend a little more effort learning and reading about it?

The IPad

So I played with an Ipad for the first time tonight during my Human Factors in Information Systems class at Creighton tonight.  Our main group project for the semester is developing a prototype for an Ipad application, so my professor brought in her and her husbands Ipads so we could play around on them.  From what I could tell, the best part about them is how easy it is to search and surf the internet... so much more fun than a computer because you can catch up on your internet news, blogs, and facebook from the comfort of your bed, couch, kitchen, etc.

I soooooo want one, but can I justify a $499 toy?

So I have a broiler chicken... now what? How to de-bone a chicken

Monday, September 20, 2010
Our favorite place to get chicken, Thistles and Clover, only sells broiler chickens.  I've always been a little squeamish about raw meat, and especially anything with bones in it, but I've decided to stop being a sissy and toughen up.  I'm still quite the novice when it comes to dealing with whole chickens, so this video posted by Completely Nourished was super helpful. Whatever knife this guy is using, I want it!  It looks like he's cutting through butter instead of a chicken!

Cucumber soup

Last month we went to this awesome dinner called "Farmer and a Chef."  Chef Brian Johnson put together an amazing four course meal using local foods from Rhizosphere Farm and Thistles and Clover.  For the second course he served cucumber soup.  I just started liking cucumbers this year, and have never been a huge fan, but this was so yummy.  Served cold - the perfect summer soup!

Brian was nice enough to email out the recipe this week.  Can't wait to pick up some cucumbers at the Farmer's Market this weekend!

Two 14 to 16 ounce English (seedless) cucumbers
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
1 small scallion, trimmed and chopped
2 cups buttermilk or 1 cup milk plus 1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon minced fresh mint
1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
1 teaspoon minced flat-leaf parsley
Large pinch cayenne pepper plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste (optional)

Peel the cucumbers, trim the ends, cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the watery area where seeds would be. Coarsely chop. Crush the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt into a paste with the flat side of a chef's knife. Combine the cucumber, garlic, remaining salt, and the buttermilk in a blender and process until completely smooth. Add half of each of the herbs and the cayenne and pulse several times to combine. Transfer soup to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour or until thoroughly chilled. Before serving, season with salt, pepper, and lemon if desired. Divide among 4 soup bowls and sprinkle with the remaining herbs. Serve.

ModCloth, where have you been all my life?

How cool is this stuff?  Makes me regret every purchase I ever made at Von Maur...  ModCloth, I am your new biggest fan.
In the Know Dress (out of stock) $49.99   and    Angel in Blue dress $117

Boardwalk Empire... to start watching or not to start watching?

I never used to watch much TV, but as I get older it seems to be such an easy way to relax and unwind after a long day's work with the person you love.  I love to read, but it's such a solitary activity and after spending all day in front of the computer by myself, I'm ready for a little social time... even if that's in front of the TV.

One of our favorite shows True Blood ended last Sunday, but of course HBO has a show ready and willing to take it's slot... Empire Boardwalk.  I had my hesitations about watching the season premier.  If you don't start watching a show, then you won't get hooked, and waste another hour of your life watching television.  Am I ever going to look back on my life and wish I had watched more television??  But alas I circumed and watched the premier.  Not an amazing show so far, but good enough to keep you watching.  Darn you HBO!


On September 8th Kevin and I moved from being a two car family to a one car family when I turned my Mazda 3 in at the end of its 3-year lease.  We both walk to work, and hardly drive anywhere on the weekends seperately (or in taxis), so why not move to one car?  Kevin has a 2008 Altima that works great, but once it dies I would love to move to a Volkswagan fueled by biodiesel!  Here's our current family car but how cool would it be to own a car fueled totally by leftover cooking oil

Here's the documentary that inspired me today:

 I've been on a documentary binge ever since I figured out how to watch documentaries on our Playstation 2 using our instant Netflix queue.  I've watched an embarrasing number of documentaries lately, but this one is definitely worth watching.  It's well done and has a lot of practical things you can do to make a difference (make sure to watch the credits!).  Maybe even one day we'll power trains using biodiesel? 

How to get rid of excess eggs... make a sponge cake!

At the Farmer and a Chef dinner party a few weeks ago I won 6 weeks of free eggs from my favorite local farmer's Thistles and Clover.  The problem is that Kevin and I aren't really omelet people, and I'm not into baking so we really don't have very much use for eggs.  Thistles and Clover has an amazing monthly newsletter, and one of the recipes included in the newsletter was all about how to make sponge cake.  Now, I don't know that I've ever eaten sponge cake, let alone bake it, but I was determined to give it a try. 

Here's my kitchen, 10 eggs later...

My husband Kevin managed to catch some beauty rest while I struggled with the sponge cake.  The life of a man... so hard :)

So I was already nervous about my cake as it went into the oven.  Just didn't quite look right.  Fingers crossed it would turn out...

To my dismay, here was the final product.  Still hoping that it would at least taste good... My best friend Emily called me while I was baking the sponge cake and admitted that she wasn't much of  a baker either, but normally things tasted good, even if they didn't look good.  This is obviously a terrible looking sponge cake, but maybe the taste would redeem it?

Here's what it's supposed to look like... hmmm...:

So.... how did it taste?  I tried a small bite and wasn't impressed, but thought maybe Kevin would have a different opinion.  After all, I'd never tried sponge cake before so how was I to know how it should taste? Kevin made the unfortunate mistake of sniffing it before he ate it.  His exact words were, "it smells like a dog biscuit."  He ate a bit and spit it out in the sink.  I even made him try another bite, in case he'd gotten a bad bite...same reaction....

So another baking disaster.  Maybe we're not all meant to be bakers??

My first blog

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I used to journal all the time as a kid.  I think that even back then there was a part of me that realized that life was moving pretty fast, and without an overly impressive memory there were so many things I was going to forget about if I didn't take time to stop and write them down.  After taking about a five year journaling hiatus I've decided that it's time to take another crack at it.  So, being the young, Internet-loving, wanna-be tech savvy girl that I am, I've decided to start a blog!

Creating a blog was easy enough, just a click of a button I had a free account on blogger.com.  So far so good.  Then came the hard part... what to name it?  Of course I did the first thing that I usually do when faced with just about any question.  I googled it!  I would expect nothing less, but here I had a step by step guide and tips on how to name my blog.  In this blogging article the author likened naming your blog to naming a child - great that'll take the pressure off...

So I took the author's suggestion and started by writing all the words that first came to mind on a sheet of paper.  Well after jotting down about 50 words (things like condo, sustainable, natural, organic energy, yoga, hippie, corporate, documentary, MBA, etc.), I realized that many of these words were things that were my current passions - things that I'd been recently inspired by.  Looking at this list of words made me realize just how easily inspired I am, so what better name for my first blog.  Let the blogging begin!
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