My musings…

Archive for July, 2011

Life update

Well, Mom was complaining that I haven’t updated the blog recently (except for the two recipes that I posted earlier this week) so I guess I should go ahead and do that, considering I haven’t posted about anything that has happened since I got back from Uganda.

Luckily I have my handy dandy calendar to remind me of everything!

The weekend after returning from Uganda was a bit crazy.  On the 23rd (Mom and Dad’s 28th wedding anniversary), Elvis and I went to Lancaster to see Philip’s final musical as an undergraduate student.  He was Jesus in Godspell.  They did a really good job and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the theatre when it was over.  We drove home from there and the 24th was Easter which meant 2 church services and some yummy food for this family.

April 30, I helped Matthew and Megan move into their new house (YAY!).  Elvis…well, I don’t remember what he had going on that weekend…I think he was working, maybe.  We had a crab feast that evening.  It was funny to watch a bunch of first timers trying to tear theirs apart.  That’s one thing that living in MD does for you – teaches you how to eat crabs! 😛

May 7 was Philip’s graduation!  It was hot (though not nearly as hot as it is today).  Their speaker was really good.  I don’t remember his name, but he lost his legs in a climbing accident and has gone on to designing these super bionic legs that allow him to do pretty much everything (and probably better than I can do it!).  We went out for lunch afterwards – Mom, Dad, Gram, Aunt Jean, Philip and myself to celebrate his graduation as well as Mother’s Day.

The following weekend was my friend Lauren’s bridal shower.  We did a scrapbooking fondue party which she loved.  The food was delicious and socializing was a lot of fun.

The weekend of 5/21 we stayed at home.  That was my first weekend completely at home since March 19.  Craziness.  We did go to the Patuxent Wildlife refuge for a bike ride, though.

Memorial Day weekend, I wasn’t going to go home, but a change in a friend’s flight schedule meant that I could go home on Sunday for Philip and Heather’s graduation parties as well as the Memorial Day service at church which was nice.

From reviewing my pictures on Facebook, I can see that on 6/4 Elvis and I went for a bike ride on some of the trails here around the house.  I imagine that we rode approximately 10 miles. 6/5 we went with Elvis’ sister to Great Falls.  We had previously visited the Virginia side of the falls in 2010 with Philip in the freezing depths of winter.  It was much more enjoyable to visit them on a BEAUTIFUL day.  We visited the Maryland side this time which is just as beautiful (not like the US versus Canada views of Niagara Falls!) though I do think there are more opportunities for hiking (maybe?) on the Virginia side.  The MD side also has a museum and part of the C&O Canal.

The following weekend we went camping.  We chose a different State Park this time (maybe some day we’ll be able to say we’ve been to them all!) – Point Lookout State Park.  Point Lookout is on a thin peninsula on the mainland part of MD (versus the Eastern Shore).  During the Civil War, the area was used as a camp for Confederate POWs by the north.  On one side of the park is the Potomac River and the other is the Chesapeake Bay – plenty of opportunities for fishing, crabbing, swimming, etc.  Unfortunately to get to any of those areas we had to drive (don’t want to put the bike rack on the new car!), but it was still nice.  Elvis even caught a decent sized fish (maybe 9 inches or more!) and almost had a crab, but he was trying to pull it up probably 30 feet and the crab just release and fell back in the water.  It was good to finally get out and camp, again, though, since it’s something that we both really enjoy doing and we didn’t have the opportunity to do it at all last summer!  We also visited a recreation of one of the forts that used to exist in the area that is now the park which was interesting. It rained A LOT one afternoon, but we were glad to learn that our tent didn’t leak and also glad that we stuck it out because the evening and the next day were a lot cooler.

On the way home, we stopped at Calvert Cliffs State Park to do some fossil hunting.  Unfortunately it was VERY hot and we had to walk through a buggy swamp to get out to the cliffs, so Elvis was ready to go home before we ever got there!  We didn’t spend much time searching, but I did find a shark’s tooth which was pretty cool.  I’d kind of like to go back in the fall when it’s cooler to see what else is out there.  There were a bunch of families headed out when we were going back to the car, so there must be more to explore!

We also stopped by a roadside stand selling crabs and got a dozen #1 male crabs (fairly large) for $25 (they had a sale).  So we came home and had a feast! 🙂  I think Elvis ate 8 and I had 4.  He would eat crabs all day every day if he could.  Heck, he probably would have eaten the entire dozen if I had left him!  Maybe one day this summer we’ll drive back to that stand just for more crabs!  Yum yum yum!

The following weekend was Lauren’s wedding!  Yay! 

The next weekend I FINALLY was able to see Jenna as her and Ephraim were on their way to the airport.  We met up with Jenna’s parents for breakfast at a local restaurant.  Unfortunately I couldn’t spend the whole day with them because it was also the baby shower for another friend, Julia.  That was a lot of fun!  Afterwards a group of us (not including Julia – she’s pregnant!) went to Hershey Park for the afternoon.  It was great to spend time with Christy and Laura (who also studied in Ecuador with us, but I haven’t seen in FOREVER).  In order to do this, we rode around Chocolate World like 15 times (okay, so maybe only 3…or was it 4?) in order to waste time until we could get in for the sunset admission price.  We still rode several roller coasters and other rides while in there, so it was totally worth it.

And suddenly, it was July.  The weekend of the 4th we went home to celebrate…well, sort of!  It was nice, though, because there weren’t any planned events going on so we could RELAX!  We did make a trip to the farmer’s market (a little disappointing) and I got to eat breakfast with Tina, Sarah and Aunt Janet (always exciting) and we set off some legal fireworks in the church parking lot (also disappointing).  It was good to go home, though.

That week we also purchased Elvis’ new (to us) vehicle – a ’97 4Runner – the one he has always wanted, he says.  He plans to use it around here for a few years for work, mostly, while saving up for a new car.  Then he’ll ship the 4Runner to Guatemala to either sell, trade (in exchange for land) or for his family to use (his mom says it’ll be perfect for travelling to her hometown which is a 7 – 8 hour bus ride away!).

That Thursday we received an invitation for a workshop in Venezuela.  Which started the following Monday.  My boss is currently on vacation, so he couldn’t go, but they extended the invitation to me as well.  In two days time, I had a plane ticket, but first needed to go back to Pennsylvania for a friend’s wedding.  Sara and I played basketball together in 7th and 8th grade, then played soccer together in high school and also roomed together freshman year of college (and remained friends throughout college), so it was important for me to be there.  SOOOOOO I packed EVERYTHING on Thursday night, drove home Friday night, went to the wedding on Saturday, left part way through the reception (no cake for me) drove back to DC, repacked, and left at 6:30am for the airport Sunday morning.  It was crazy, to say the least.

One thing I didn’t realize was that my ticket from DC through Aruba was first class.  Since we’re not allowed to fly first class, it never even passed through my mind until I was boarding and saw my ticket said 1F…wait?  1???  Yep, front and center. (Okay, so front and window, but it doesn’t sound as good…)  SWEET!  Flying first class was awesome – yummy food, comfy, roomy seats, free drinks (which I didn’t drink – it was too early!), what could be better?

From there I flew to Caracas and from Caracas to Ciudad Bolivar.  I assumed it was some small forest town, but I was WAY wrong.  (Luckily I consulted Wikipedia before leaving!)  Ciudad Bolivar is the capital of Bolivar state and has about 350,000 people.  It is right on the Orinoco River, one of the longest rivers in South America.  It is named after Simon Bolivar (The Great Liberator) who aimed to unite all of South America into one country (obviously didn’t happen).  One of the most famous battles was in Bolivar (which had a different name at that time) when Bolivar and his troops overcame the Spanish which eventually led to the independence of Venezuela and many other South American countries.  (I don’t know if you’ve ever took note, but the flags of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador are quite similar for this reason.)

The workshop was for indigenous representatives from Venezuela to learn about REDD – reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – one of the many mechanisms to help slow climate change.  Unfortunately, it will be very difficult for them to develop this in the country because the Venezuelan government currently does not allow it and also because no indigenous territories are currently demarcated in the country.  Most people see land tenure as a prerequisite for a successful REDD project (you can’t really sell something you don’t own or at least have full control over), though others argue that a REDD project can help communities lay their claims to their land.  ANYWAY.  The event was really interesting and it was great to get to know another country and some of its people.  (Venezuela is #20 outside of the US for me if you count Germany where I only landed, but did walk across the tarmac, and my passport is stamped there because it was my first entry point into the EU and not counting Aruba which belongs to The Netherlands.)

One thing that is also cool is that Venezuela has a system of orchestras where they teach kids how to play an instrument from a very young age.  One night a group came to play for us, ranging in age from 13/14ish to 60+, I imagine.  They were GOOD.  All of the music was upbeat with jazz undertones and it was amazing to listen to them!

I flew back a day early to see Mom and Dad at Matthew and Megan’s on Saturday (though Megan isn’t there for the summer 😦 ) and celebrate our birthdays – mine, Matthew’s and Elvis’ are all within 2 weeks of each other.

Sunday was spent cleaning and cooking for Elvis and his cousins who came over to watch a soccer game and since then, I’ve either been at work or home.  It is too hot for me to even go to the soccer fields in the afternoons (though Elvis still goes!), so that is why I was able to try and post different recipes this week!

This weekend I think will be spent at home, though some friends may come to hang out!  I hope so!


Black bean and corn salad

Elvis said that I should add this to the list of “Elvis’ favorite recipes”. I’d do that, but I need to find a better way to organize my recipes first! So many times I just write the recipe on a piece of notebook paper or a note card and then try it and then lose it. Even though I have a binder…and several cookbooks…and a recipe card holder… :-S I guess I should just stick to one method! Or figure out some way to do it on the computer (though having the computer in the kitchen can be quite messy!!!).

Anyway, the real reason that he loved this recipe is because it has black beans, corn, cumin and lime juice. I must admit, it was pretty good!

This is based off of Rachel Ray’s Recipe, but with some additions and substitutions. (

Elvis’ Favorite Black Bean and Corn Salad

2 c black beans, rinsed and drained
kernels cut off of 2 cobs of corn (no need to cook!)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 t cumin
1 t hot sauce
3 limes, juiced
2 T olive oil
1/4 c cilantro, chopped

Mix everything together and enjoy!

Who needs Dominos

when you can have pizza like this:

Homemade from the top to the bottom! (Well, the cheese wasn’t homemade…) It was delicious! It even had fresh oregano from Matthew’s garden on it!

Pizza crust:
1 c warm water
1 T white sugar
2 1/4 t (1 pkg) active dry yeast
3 T olive oil
1 t sea salt
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour

Stir water, sugar and yeast together until dissolved. Stir in olive oil and salt. Stir in flours until well blended. Let rest for 10 minutes. Pat into pizza pan or onto stone.

Margarita sauce:
1/4 c olive oil
1 T minced garlic
1/2 t sea salt
8 Roma tomatoes, sliced

Stir together and let rest for 15 minutes

Use oil and spices directly on the pizza crust. Put cheese on top (I used a block of mozzarella and cut it into slices). Top with tomatoes and oregano. Bake at 425*F for 15 minutes.