Friday, December 30, 2011

Tomato & Black Bean Quinoa

It has been a while since I shared a recipe with you. But trust me, the wait was well worth it. 

I wanted to make something that I could take for lunch at work for a few days. This recipe looked delicious, seemed healthy, and appeared as though it would be just as good leftover. And  and extra little perk... it's vegan! If you want a light, easy recipe, I highly recommend this one.

Here's the link to the recipe:

I added a diced cucumber and made the quinoa according to package directions, but otherwise I used the recipe just as it is. You won't be disappointed!

I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do.

To a healthy 2012... ENJOY!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Packing Day

As you may or may not know, in one short week I'll be a travelling nurse! I'm going to be working at a hospital in Florida for 13 weeks. I'm very nervous about the new job part, but I'm very excited about the adventure part. I'll be living with a close college friend, Katlyn, while I'm there -- which will be a great reunion!

Mike will be accompanying me for the drive down to Florida [great bonding time, right?!] and then flying back home. He'll be in Omaha for the 13 weeks I'm gone, and I'll be returning after I complete my assignment. The time apart will be rough, but with Skype and unlimited Verizon-to-Verizon minutes, we'll keep in very close touch.

But for today... PACKING! I just don't enjoy it. At all. I've been living with my brother for the last couple months, so I don't have much in my possession anyway. But I still have some packing to do. The question is: What does a girl need for 13 weeks in Florida??

I'm making an educated guess. I'll tell you in 14 weeks if I guessed correctly or not.

Anyway, keep Mike and I in your prayers for a safe 20-hour roadtrip. I'll keep you posted on how things are going on the Gulf Coast in the middle of winter [I promise, I'm not rubbing it in....]. And keep in touch--Please! I'm going to miss my friends and family more than I can imagine.

Jason and Katlyn, my roommates for the next 13 weeks :)
...and the sunset over the beach I'll be visiting frequently!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wedding Plan Progress

Today was a very unexpected day off from work. At 6am, my phone rang. The floor I work on had too many nurses for the number of patients there today, so I was called off. This doesn't happen often, but it's a very pleasant surprise when it does.

So instead of 12 hours of work, it was 12 hours of wedding planning. Ok, so there was a much needed coffee break with a great friend, but Mike and I made a lot of progress.

A couple weeks ago, I made a list of things to do before I leave for Florida. It isn't quite completed, but it's dwindling. We've secured our church, reception site, and transportation. We're very close to securing our hotel block and rehearsal dinner location. Our guest address list is nearly finished, and we have photographers, DJs, and cake bakers narrowed to just a few.

Our wedding party has been quite the debate. I have 8 close girlfriends that I wanted to be in my bridal party, but Mike vetoed that one immediately. [he says he doesn't want the front of the church to be a circus.] We've been teetering between 5 and 6 attendants each, and it's quite a fine line. [This has been such a sticky debate because I don't want to hurt any girls' feelings, but I have a suspicion that a friend or two might take the selection personally. But I can't make my decision based on their opinion, blah, blah....] We'll get there.

Colors have been another topic of conversation. I initially thought a plum/chartreuse/slate combo would look nice. Mike said yes at first, but wasn't a fan when he learned the bridesmaid dresses would not be lime green. Then came a cranberry/gold combination. Mike said no. who knew he was so opinionated about colors?! Mike's vote was a combination of kelly green/ivory/slate. I mentioned burnt orange, and he also liked that. So the debate continues. Thoughts? Opinions?

Nine months and counting....
See you in October :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Kansas City

This year I'm spending Christmas in Kansas City with Mike's family. We've had an eventful couple of days already... We ate lasagna and various Christmas cookies, watched the Raiders narrowly beat the Chiefs in overtime, and we just finished making Christmas wreath cornflakes cookies -- a Wierzbicki family tradition. Mike's middle brother delegated to me his usual task of shaping the cornflakes into wreaths with Mike's mom, Marie. My fingers are now green, but they turned out great... The boys have already starting eating them!

Marie and I shaping the wreaths

The finished product with the Christmas flower arrangement

Christmas wreaths!

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa Baby

With the Christmas season fully underway, Kayla asked me to take a couple pictures of Kasey so that she could include them in Christmas cards she's sending to family and friends. Of course I was obliged to practice my photography skills with such a cute subject!

Here's what we captured of Kasey's First Christmas...


  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Cookie Platter

You may have figured this out already, but I'm on a crafty kick. And it happens to be Christmas season, so I'm all about Christmas-y crafts. It's great.

I have one final Christmas craft that Rachael and I did during my visit to see her. Then I'll lay off the Chrstmas crafts. Promise. [for now...]

We saw some really cute platters for Christmas cookies or the like, but they were kind of expensive. And I'm on a budget. [i'm planning a wedding, if you forgot...] So why not make our own? It's always great to have a platter on hand to give an impromptu gift during the holiday season.

   -plain charger (98 cents, by the way)
   -acrylic paints
   -sealant (we used mod podge spray)

   -pretend to be artsy and paint on holiday things
   -apply glitter where applicable, i.e. on the berries (i love glitter)
   -let dry, then apply several coats of sealant to hold the glitter and paint in place

   -a festive platter [with questionable food safety... woops. wash before use and line with parchment or plastic wrap before filling with goodies]

 Fun, right??

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

No-Mess Christmas Ornaments

Glittery Christmas balls. They're a beautiful thing, but they're so messy. They leave a trail [or clump] of glitter everywhere. And it's there for months.

So Rachael and I decided we'd make our own version [thank you, pinterest]. With the glitter contained on the inside. Genius. Clean. Sparkly!

   -clear glass Christmas ornaments
   -red glitter
   -Elmer's glue

   -Mix glue with water so it's half-strength and runny. Take the top off the glass ornament, put in about a tablespoon of the extra-runny glue, and turn to coat the whole inside.
   -Put glitter inside the globe and shake around, coating all sides. This takes more glitter than you'd think.
   -Dump out any extra glitter, let dry, and reapply the cap. Thread with ribbon to hang.

   -No mess glittery ornaments!

Rachael doesn't have a tree, so we put them in her doorway. So festive!

You can't see the glitter well (thank you iPhone 4 camera), but they really do sparkle!

Merry (clean) Christmas!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Tree Re-Do

During my most recent trip to my homeland (aka Iowa), my mom and I attempted to make a Christmas ball Christmas tree that we had seen. We didn't really know what we were doing, but we went for it.

We went to the dollar store (the only general store in a small town) to get Christmas balls and fishing line. Christmas balls they had, but apparently November is no time to be buying fishing line in Iowa. Our substitution? Dental floss. Turns out, thread is a better substitute. But like we thought of that.

The general goal:  hang Christmas balls in a Christmas tree shape, and they'll be suspended from above.
We tried for over an hour to make this tree happen, but we failed. I had to head back for work, so my mom was left to work on the tree herself.

It took two days, but I eventually got a text message:  Success!

Here's a picture of the tree. It turned out much better than when I was helping. I'm impressed!

Good work, Mom!

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Non-Artist Artwork

I'm not an artist. That's no secret. My brother got those genes.

But I do enjoy throwing a little paint around once in a while. During last week's visit to see my high school friend Rachael, we made a new piece of art for her living room. She had seen the idea on pinterest [there i go again...] and wanted to make it. So what better time than when her bestie was in town??

We made a late-night run to Target, which was unsuccessful. So we made an early-morning run to Hobby Lobby. Jackpot. I just love that place.

  -acrylic paints of various colors

  -pretend like you know what you're doing


Ok, so it's no Picaso, but we had fun. And Rachael now has new living room art!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fruit Kabobs

Potlucks. We have them a lot at work, mostly because cafeteria food is gross and leftovers are boring. And they're great for workplace morale.

Well, we had another one earlier this week. It's really easy to bring a bag of chips, box of crackers, bottle of soda, or another pre-packaged food. Really easy. And cheap. But unhealthy.

I wanted to take something somewhat healthy, but I also wanted it to be fun. Someone else was bringing the main dish, so... Fruit? Vegetables?

Once again, pinterest pulled through. No surprise there. [check it out if you haven't already. you won't be sorry.]

Fruit Kabobs. They would be super fun for little kids, but they're also fun for big kids.

Just as a side note... delicious fresh fruits in Nebraska are:
    A) hard to find
    B) kind of expensive
    C) totally worth it

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Dress

That's right... I said "YES!" to the dress!

With the help of my amazing mom and three fabulous friends, I picked out my wedding dress! I had looked at many, many options online and in bridal magazines, and I picked a few of my favorite styles. From those photos, I had my *dream* gown in my head but I wasn't sure I'd ever find it, so I kept an open mind.

Last Wednesday morning, the four of us met for coffee and a little catching up, then we ventured over to the first store to look at dresses. We had intentionally picked a Wednesday for shopping, so the store was all ours. The bridal consultan picked out several of my favorite dresses, and we began the trying-on adventure.

Some of the dresses earned a quick yay or nay, but three dresses really stood out. I tried all three on again, and two were my absolute favorites. One of them was a dress I had my eye on from the beginning, and the second was one I almost didn't even try on. But after trying on veils and considering bustling options, I made my decision.

And I confidently said "YES!" to the dress! 

...but you'll have to wait 10 months to see it ...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our -->First<-- Thanksgiving Feast

One downfall perk of being a nurse is that I have to get to work major holidays. Each year we find out which holidays we'll be working, and at first it's a little bit of a bummer. I've always spent major holidays with my family, enjoying delicious meals and sharing in laughter.

But since becoming a nurse, I spend at least one holiday each fall/winter with my hospital family. We eat turkey together and share in laughter, and we share these special days with patients and their families as they are also away from home.

This year I worked Thanksgiving. I was bummed that I would be missing my mom's and my grandma's turkey dinners. I was able to spend some time with family earlier in the week, but still... no turkey for me.

However, when I got off work and went over to Mike's house for a surprise dinner (which I thought would be frozen pizza or mac-n-cheese), I found him putting the finishing touches on.... Our Thanksgiving Feast! He made turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and crescent rolls. It wasn't even purchased from Boston Market.. he made it himself!

It was absolutely delicious, and we [of course] ate entirely too much. I didn't miss turkey dinner after all!

Just another reason I'm so thankful for such a wonderful fiance. What a lucky girl I am!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Unlikely "I Do"

Marriage. It's a beautiful thing.

Many girls imagine their dream wedding for years. They picture it in a church, at a scenic outdoor venue, or even on a beach. But in a hospital? Not so much.

When I got to work I learned that we would be having a birthday party, a wedding, and a renewal of vows -- all on our unit at the hospital.

Who said the Oncology floor is depressing?

We had an older gentleman who was likely celebrating his last birthday.

We had a couple who had been dating for years, who decided to tie the knot while they could still both declare their love for one another.

And we had a couple who had been married for 30 years who decided to renew their vows and declare their love for each other, once again.

They were all beautiful celebrations of life and love. Our staff came together with these families to witness these declarations. We got them gifts and flowers, ordered them special dinners, and gave them a separate place to celebrate. We shared tears, hugs, and smiles. For a short time, we weren't their nurses. We were their friends.

When faced with the reality that death is an imminent thing,
you look for any reason to celebrate.
As Oncology nurses, we find those reasons.
We celebrate life.


For the second year in a row, my friend Kate hosted a Halloween Bash at her house. We had appetizers and snacks, chili, and of course... Birthday Cake!!  And all the while wearing our wonderfully creative costumes!

Kate and I aren't huge fans of individual costumes, so we planned for months what we were going to be. Ok, so maybe Kate planned for months. I planned for a week. And the boys are always up for whatever they can be without doing anything.

So what were we, you ask? Here's a picture. See if you can tell.

Brother, Joe Papa, Me, Kate, Mike

Can you tell???

If not, you're either not a child of the 80's and 90's, or you have no imagination. We were trolls! You know, the little plastic troll dolls with no clothes, sparkly bellybuttons, and crazy hair. See it now? Of course you do.

We had a FABulous time, as always.

Halloween Night, we handed out candy at Kate's house. We dressed as princesses (because quite frankly, it was easy to throw on a tutu and crown) and ate homemade mac-n-cheese. And ran out of candy at 7:45pm. Oops, sorry kids!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Second Half

As I discussed before, I'm a Goals kind of person. I need goals to stay on track. Especially when it comes to working out. So again this year, I set a goal to run a half marathon. I retrieved my online training program once again, put it all on my calendar, and got to work.

And ten weeks later, it was time for the Half.

Kayla and I ventured to Kansas City to run their annual Half Marathon. We took along Kasey (Kayla's little one) and Jill, who was a trooper and came along to watch Kasey while Kayla was running. Even though it was two days, it was a very fun girls' weekend.

We drove the three hours, chatting and gossiping, and catching up on life. And Kasey slept the entire time. Once we arrived, we got settled in our hotel room (that we booked the night before), picked up our packets, and went to Plaza for dinner. We took in our fair share (and then some) of pasta and cheesecake. De-LISH!

The next day Kayla and I ran our 13.1 miles, then Jill and Kasey met us at the finish line.

And we succeeded! Kayla ran her first post-baby half marathon, and I beat my previous half marathon time. Both great feats for a fall Saturday.

Girls' Night Out at the Cheesecake Factory: Jill, me, Kayla, and Kasey

Kayla and I anticipating the start of the race... and trying not to freeze!

2 hour and 8 minutes later... The Finish Line!


86 Miles Later....

After last year's 86-mile relay run, I swore I wouldn't do it again.

Apparently I lied.

We ran it again.

This year was the fourth annual Market to Market Relay Run, that begins at Omaha's Old Market and finishes 86 miles later at Lincoln's Haymarket Park. It's a team relay, with each leg of the race being three to five miles. Each runner runs an average of three times, and each team has a van that rushes the next runner to the next checkpoint. And of course, each team has their own costume.

Last year we got second place in the women's division, coming in just four minutes slower than the winning team. And for an 11-hour race, four minutes is pretty minimal. This year our goal was to win, but it didn't happen. The competition was much stiffer... and some of our teammates decided it was time to have babies! We ended up in 7th place in our division, but we had a great time anyway.

About two hours into the day. Finishing my first leg and handing off to Theresa.

Waiting at a checkpoint. The Dashing Divas on the Run (minus Kayla, who was running):
Me, Amy L., Theresa, Eric (our rockstar driver), Shannon, Mallory, and Katie.

Kayla and I just after I finished my first leg.

Kayla, me, and Theresa waiting at another checkpoint.

All done! Eleven hours later at the Finish Line Shindig at Haymarket Park in Lincoln.

(I couldn't walk for the next three days.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Baby

Kayla asked me if I'd attempt taking a few pictures of Little Kasey for her to send out with Halloween cards to her family. I didn't promise her anything good (you've seen my past attempts, and I haven't taken any photos for a w.h.i.l.e.), but I told her I'd love to give it a shot.

We spent a couple hours sticking mostly-naked 3 1/2 month old Kasey in a hollowed out pumpkin. At first she was confused and cooperative, but by the end she wasn't real impressed. But we did get a few good shots... here they are!

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

High School Reunion: Africa

After a nearly three-year absence, my high school friend Mary made a return visit to the United States. She has been in the Peace Corps for about 2 1/2 years. She has been in the African country of Zambia for the majority of her time there, taking frequent adventures (or misadventures) to different areas of the continent. Now she's working in a national park, and she's lucky enough to see African wildlife on a daily basis. She told me how she sees hippos, lions, and elephants in their natural habitat, and I sat in awe. In my daily Midwest adventures, my imagination just can't turn those cats into lions, those horses in zebras, and those deer into antelope. I just can't do it. But how amazing that she is! I look forward to having Mary back in this country to stay, but in the mean time I wish her the best on the rest of her Peace Corps adventure. If you're interested in hearing some of her stories, you can find her here.

Here Mary, Rachael, and I are celebrating Mary's birthday in our hometown.
So glad we could celebrate with her!
(check out that cowboy hat... welcome home!)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Miss Engaged

Have you missed me?
I haven't posted for a very long time, but it's not because I don't love you all. It's because I've been busy planning my life! Ok, not really, but I've been making some big life changes. In the next week or two, I'll work on catching you up on those fun new adventures. And then I'll try to keep you more informed along the way.

My biggest, newest, most exciting news?


That's right, Mike and I are engaged! SO exciting, right?!

I'm sure you're just dying to know the details, aren't you? Here's the story.

I was going to pick up work one Friday evening, but Mike told me some friends were in town, so maybe we'd do dinner and hang out with them. Ok, sounds more fun than work! So as Friday was approaching, he declared date night. He had been working a lot, and we both had Friday night off, so sounded great to me.

After working 8 hours, running 3 miles, and speedily getting ready for date night, I made it to Mike's house. We hopped in the car and headed downtown. I asked him where we were going for dinner. He didn't really care, but kinda wanted a salad. Like a salad bar. Weird, but whatever. So I suggested Spaghetti Works, since it was the only place I could think of downtown that had a salad bar. So Spaghetti Works it was.

After we had a drink, some pasta, and (of course) the salad bar, it was still only 7pm. We were going to meeting a couple friends for a drink at 8pm, so what were we going to do for an hour? I suggested just going home because I was tired (I'm so exciting), but Mike vetoed that one. So why not walk around for an hour to burn some cal's and re-energize. We were about a block from the riverfront (where I love walking), so we ventured that direction. A while into the walk, I wanted to sit down on some rocks because my feet were kinda tired. I'm such a whiner. Again, vetoed. So we kept walking. On the other side of the bend was another group of rocks, so I asked again to sit down. Nope. But five feet later, he told me we could sit. Weird, but whatever.

We were sitting on the rocks for a while, and I thought it would be fun to try sipping rocks. I hadn't done it for years, and the little rocks were flat. Perfect. I was quite unsuccessful, but it was fun anyway. About 10 minutes til 8pm, I realized we should start walking to Barry-O's, where we were meeting a couple friends. So I threw one more rock and grabbed my purse. Mike grabbed me for one more hug before concluding date night, and he didn't let go. He told me that he loved me very much, that I looked beautiful, and that even thought I couldn't skip rocks that he still thought I was pretty great. Uh... thanks.

Then he got on one knee, pulled out a very sparkly ring and asked if I would marry him.

The next part of the surprise was that he had arranged for one of our friends to document the whole thing with his zoom-lens camera. Joe emerged from the trees, popped a bottle of champagne, and snapped a few more shots.

After some celebrating and me asking millions of questions, we had to get to Barry-O's to meet our friends. They'd surely wonder where we were, since no one knew this was going to happen. On the way to Upstream (plans had changed, we were having a drink there instead), I insisted I should call my mom before I told anyone else. We got to Upstream, so I didn't have time to call anyone else right that minute. So we went in and looked for our friends, but couldn't find them. While searching, I saw someone who looked an awful lot like my dad. Wait, was it my dad? Why would he be in Omaha? And then I saw a friend who I wasn't planning to meet there. Wait, was this another part of the surprise? It was! Mike had arranged for my friends and family to be at the Upstream to celebrate. For the next few hours, I giggled with friends, showed off the rock, and shared many hugs. It was the perfect conclusion to the perfect night.

Luckiest girl in the world.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Nighthawks Game

Last Thursday was the Omaha Nighthawks' home opener. It was also the first game of the UFL season. Several friends and I got together to enjoy the game. It was a little chilly and sprinkled for the entire second half (and the Nighthawks lost), but it was an enjoyable game nonetheless. Football season has begun!

Because we know a certain somewhat who is in charge of ticket sales, we were lucky enough to get pregame sideline passes. We were on the field to watch both teams warm up prior to the game. I had never done anything like that before, so it was a great time!

We were standing just a few yards away from the UFL commissioner Michael Hughe and the opposing team's head coach, Marty Schottenheimer -- yes, the former NFL coach.


Here are a couple shots of the Nighthawks warming up on the field prior to the game. They're a lot bigger up close than they are from the stands!

This was the view from our seats. Not to shabby, huh? Thanks Mr. Ticket Man!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mikey!

Sunday was Mike's birthday. Over the weekend we were in my hometown for a family get-together, so it was an improvised celebration. But it worked.

My mom had decorated his chair with a Happy Birthday banner and a balloon before he was up for the morning, so this is what he saw when he got to the kitchen.

She had made breakfast casserole (aka egg bake) for breakfast that morning. It was what he had told me he wanted for his birthday. So I may have cheated, but he got it anyway!

After the breakfast casserole and biscuits were devoured, my mom surprised us all with a little 'birtday cake' for Mike. And a candle that was pretty much a re-lighting 4th of July sparkler. It only took him about three tries to figure out he'd have to use water to put it out.

Here's a close-up of the birthday cake. It was a mini cherry cheesecake tart my mom had made for a bake sale. Definitely not a traditional birthday cake, but they were delicious little things!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Knitted Scarf

In my all-important planner, last week was reserved for a cross-country vacation. But due to unforeseen circumstances, we were unfortunately unable to do it. So instead, I had a week of stay-cation. Oh yes, vacation--in Omaha. So what's a girl to do? Among other things (sleeping in, cooking, running, spending time with friends), I learned to knit. Via You Tube (thanks to the suggestion of Connie!). I truly don't know how people learned to knit before You Tube. Well, I guess their grandma probably taught them. But she wasn't very accessible last week in Omaha. So second best was You Tube.

After learning the basics, I picked out a pattern. I chose a pattern that only had one stitch looked somewhat easy, and went with it. There are a few mistakes, but unless you know where they are you really can't tell. In a matter of days, Voila! I now have a gray wool cowl-neck infinity scarf made by yours truly. It's still a little warm to be wearing it, but I think it will get plenty of use this winter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

12 Mile Torture

I'm a goals kind of a person. Every New Year's Eve I set goals instead of resolutions. Then, as the year goes on, I cross off my goals and set new ones. These goals are what get me going every day. They what help me stay on task. They're the reason I run.

I don't enjoy running. Trust me. With each mile, I'd rather be walking... I'd rather be riding my bike... I'd rather be sitting on the couch. But I have goals to achieve. My current goal: a 13.1-mile half marathon and an 86-mile relay race. Actually, I set these goals so that I will work out. If I don't have an end to work toward, I take the day off. And the next day. And the next. It's a vicious cycle for me.

So how's the training going? Successfully. Today I completed the longest run of the training program, a 12 mile run. Yes, twelve miles. The last few miles were rough, but we did it. I've been running with a good friend, Kayla (who by the way just had a baby girl a couple months ago). She keeps me going. Even on mile 9 when I want to quit.

So what's my message to you?
Set goals.
Have something to work toward.
Accomplish something.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In anticipation of this week's Omaha Nighthawks home opener, I have a recap of last week's scrimmage.

The scrimmage was open to the public and admission was free. It was a great night for the players and staff to get a feel of the field, and it was a great preview for the community of what is to come. We saw big touchdowns, big names, and autograph sessions -- all in the brand new downtown TD Ameritrade stadium.

A few friends and I enjoyed this year's first night of football, complete with dogs, candy and a few beers. It was a jeans-and-long sleeves kind of night--just what football weather should be.

I'm excited for this week's home opener, and I can only imagine it will be as much fun as last year - or more!

A view of the field.

The girls: Me, Tina, Kate, and Kelli.

The Joe's: Joe Joe and Joe Papa.
Clearly pumped about the football debut.

The suite Mike hooked us up with to watch the game.
We thought we could pool our money together and afford it for the season,
but apparently it's worth more than we all make in a  year.
Guess we'll start saving our pennies for 10 years down the road!