Special Guest Rant: Angry @ Birds

Mike is pretty involved in most of the blog posts that I write, and was instrumental in helping me find the courage to actually start it in the first place. So, I’ve decided to allow him special guest privileges when he feels necessary. Today is one of those days. So, without further hesitation, here’s Mike!

Thanks Sara for allowing me the privilege to rant to a captive audience.

Early yesterday morning I was awoken by the whistling of a bird outside my window. While it was a little surprising, because I could hear the sweet melodies above my fan that was set at level 2 specifically to drown out this annoyance, I was not that frustrated by it because this bird was just doing what it does…every frickin’ morning. Annoyance aside, the bird and I seem to have an unwritten agreement that it will be allowed to do its thing every morning at 4 o’clock, as long as it eventually stops, usually around 5:30. This may seem like a long time (and the window occasionally gets shut before the singing stops) but it allows me the chance to wake up and then realize that I still have a few hours to sleep (and in the case of last night, more than a few because it was the last day of summer break 🙂 ), which usually results in a somewhat refreshing nap before the start of the day. Not an ideal situation, but one that I accept and thought was agreed upon by both parties.

Unfortunately last night this understanding was apparently discarded, as the bird continued to chirp all the way to 9 o’clock, with me thinking that he would soon stop and remember the deal the whole morning. You may be thinking, “oh poor me, just get up and shut the window or better yet just get up all together and start being productive”, but this goes against the deal I have with said bird. It’s a matter of principle, just respect the deal that is laid out.

Sticking with the tradition of this blog, I will end with a question:

What should be done about the rogue bird?

Bonus question:

What other animals do we have unwritten agreements with that, if broken, would be really annoying?

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A nice surprise in our mailbox!

Tomorrow is the beginning of student teaching for us! Yay! We are getting closer to the end of our crazy “let’s quit our jobs in the middle of a recession and go back to school” journey. I think we have both enjoyed some aspects of being back in school, most of which involve Hawkeye sporting events, but we are excited to start the final piece of our education (for now).

We are blessed to have wonderful friends and family supporting our decisions to become teachers. This brings me to my stop at the mailbox today. I opened it up and saw it was jammed full! I pulled our the first package which was addressed to me. My birthday is on Sunday so I was thinking “Yes! A birthday present!” But then I saw that another package similar in size was address to Mike. Then I recognized the handwriting of Mrs. Kristin Milroy. She is always sending fun surprises!

We raced up the stairs to open our packages! Inside we found all the tools a good teacher needs: sticky notes, white out, erasers, pencils, glue sticks, puzzle books, hand sanitizer, and of course, some Advil. 🙂 Accompanying the supplies was a nice note encouraging us as we start student teaching. It was such a nice surprise and I’ve already started reading my math puzzles book! Thanks for thinking of us, Kristin! You’re the best!

New pants for free!

As I started looking through my wardrobe to prepare for this fall, I realized it has been about 2 years since I have consistently worn dress pants. I started trying on some of the pants and quickly found that both my size and fashion preferences have changed. Hmmm what to do with a closet full of dress pants that either don’t fit, or are quite out of style?

Mom & Grandma to the rescue! Rather than buying an entire new wardrobe I took 8 pairs of pants over to my grandma’s house yesterday where we put these pants through the ringer! 3.5 hours later, I have 8 new pairs of pants that I love, and that fit perfectly, and best of all… they were free! It worked out great! Dress pants are so expensive and never fit just right. This way I didn’t spend any money, got the perfect fit, and got to spend the afternoon with my family! A very productive day!

Trying something new for dinner

A couple of weeks ago I was reading through The Radish at work and found a recipe for Couscous with Saffron, Mint & Spiced Carrots. Mike and I really enjoy Indian food so I thought this would be a fun recipe to try. We needed something to go with it, couscous would never fill up Mike’s tummy, so I looked online for something to go with it. I ended up choosing this recipe for Tandoori Chicken.

Typically these types of recipes call for ingredients that we don’t have at home, but we decided to give it a try. Shopping for these ingredients turned out to be an adventure. We bought as much as we could at Fareway, our regular grocery store, but still needed to find some mint, saffron, and garam masala. There is a Middle Eastern grocery store in Coralville we’ve been wanting to check out so we decided this would be a good time to try it out. We walked in and were completely confused and lost and ended up walking out without any of our needed ingredients. Next stop: HyVee. We had better luck at HyVee finding the mint easily and the garam masala in the bulk spices area. This way we only had to spend $.19 on the one teaspoon we needed rather than buying a whole jar of it. The saffron proved to be more difficult. After asking a nice employee for some help we found the saffron but were shocked to see that .7 ounces costs over $12. We decided our couscous would still be delicious without saffron!

So last night we got started on the chicken because it needed to marinate for 6-24 hours. We cut up the chicken and put it in a plastic bag to marinate with lemon juice, yogurt, onion, garlic, ginger root, garam masala, and cayenne pepper. Mmmm it already smelled delicious! We spent a good 5 minutes just smelling the garam masala! The recipe also called for red and yellow food coloring, but we decided to skip those. And then, into the fridge to marinate over night.
Tick tick tick dinner time! Time to grill that chicken! We decided to grill on our new grill pan rather than fighting the charcoal grill and it was done in no time.And now for the couscous! We diced some carrots and mixed them together with the cumin, cinnamon, and olive oil, spread them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven for about 10 minutes. The recipe said 20 but our oven is a super oven and cooks everything really fast.We used instant couscous which is prepared kind of like instant rice. This is where the saffron was supposed to come in, but as I mentioned earlier, we weren’t splurging on $14 couscous. Once it was done we added in the carrots, chopped mint, lemon juice and pepper. After a quick stir it was time to taste our new creations! And the verdict? Two thumbs up!

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for a relatively quick and easy way to get some Indian flavor at home, give these two a try!

Do you know of any other Indian recipes we should try?

Spending the day at Kent Park

Mike and I really enjoy going to Kent Park to read, relax, go for a walk, and sometimes have a picnic. Kent Park is just outside of Iowa City and it takes us about 15 minutes to get there. There is a lake with a gravel path around it that we like a lot and reminds us of our walks/rollerblades around the lakes in Minneapolis. We were first introduced to Kent Park by our wedding photographer, Greg, when he suggested it as a location for our engagement photos.

Ever since then we have spent time at Kent Park quite often. It’s always peaceful and typically there aren’t many people there. Today was basically our last day of summer. We have a few days until school starts but are quite busy this week so today was the last day we had open to do whatever we want. After some cleaning and getting organized from being away for 10 days we decided we would head out to Kent Park for a day of reading, and then go for a run around the lake. However, getting ready to head to the park quickly turned into this:

Ooops. Okay so after watching some tv, reading, and a quick nap it was already five o’clock and spending the day at Kent Park had gone by the wayside! We decided we would still head out to the park for our run. I enjoyed tolerated running in Minnesota because of the pretty route we ran so I thought running the trails and the park might be fun okay as well. We made it through the run and headed home.

Spending the day at the park turned into spending an hour at the park! Oh well! It was a nice relaxing day at home. To top the day off I made some Banana Bread from this mix we had gotten as a wedding gift. It’s delicious!

Turns out our day was just what we needed after being away! Quite relaxing! How do you relax after being away?

Our first trip to Hot Doug’s

This morning we met up with Allison & Kevin and headed into Chicago for some hot dogs. However, we didn’t go just anywhere in Chicago for hot dogs, we went to Hot Doug’s. Mike and I have heard Allison & Kevin rave about these hot dogs for quite some time and were excited to finally experience Hot Doug’s.

 

 

We arrived at Hot Doug’s around 10am. I know, it sounds a little early for hot dogs, and the restaurant doesn’t open until 10:30, but if you don’t get there early you end up waiting in line for hours! Check out this line! And from what we hear, the line is that long, or longer, all day.

While waiting in line we thought about the menu and decided what we wanted to order. Hot Doug’s has a regular menu that stays the same most of the time, and then there are daily specials that always change. Mike and I decided to share some hot dogs so we could try more dogs. We decided to go with The Fire Dog and a Corndog from the regular menu. From the specials menu we chose: 
The Mountain Man Sausage (a tasty combination of Elk, Antelope, Buffalo, Venison and Caribou) with Roasted Yellow Pepper Mayonnaise and Tetilla Cheese
and
Turducken Sausage with Smokey Bacon Sauce, Pate de Campagne and Brie-Blue Cheese

Talk about delicious! My favorite was the Turducken Sausage – the Brie-Blue Cheese was the perfect topping! I also really enjoyed th corndog, but I always really enjoy corndogs! Mike’s favorite was the Mountain Man. We also dined on a basket of duck fat fries. Needless to say, we didn’t eat much the rest of today!

The World Series of Games!

Whenever we visit the Whitts in Naperville we always play a lot of games. This time Mike came up with the idea to keep track of the winners and determine a grand champion of all the games. After everyone plead their case for their favorite games we decided on Up the River Down the River, Blink, Ticket to Ride, Skip Bo, Bananagrams, and Ping Pong. Each event crowned a winner, along with second and third place finishers. First place earned 3 points, second place earned 2 points and 3rd place earned 1 point.

We started the day off with a little game of Up the River Down the River, a pretty typical card game with bidding, trump etc. Mike got off to a blazing start and never slowed down taking first place easily. After that it was a close race for second and it came down to the last hand. John took second and I got third place and was a bit disappointed with my performance.


The next game on the docket was Bananagrams which I mentioned here. We had played a couple of rounds yesterday and I was feeling pretty good about my performance but I failed to perform when it really mattered. We played best of 3 rounds tallying subpoints to determine 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places. John took it to us taking 1st place in all 3 rounds. Once again I had second place and we had a 3 way tie for 3rd forcing a playoff round between Mike, Daniel and Sharon. Daniel was victorious and snatched up 3rd place.

After taking a short break we jumped into Skip Bo which I also mentioned here. The previous games were high intensity so Skip Bo seemed to drag a little. Mike and I enjoy playing with just 2 people but with more than 2 I think it gets a little long. Once we got to the end it was a bit more exciting. I ended up winning! Yay! Mike came in second and Sharon captured third place.

After a long game of Skip Bo we needed to turn up the intensity and yikes! Blink definitely did that! We played 6 rounds of Blink (also noted here) and everyone left the table upset. There was arguing, elbow throwing, rule changing… competitiveness to the core! I pulled out a win with Mike taking second and Daniel taking third, but like I said, nobody left the table happy. At this point it was time for a serious break from games!

We relaxed for a while and ate a delicious dinner, and then the games continued. Next up: Ticket to Ride. This is a strategy game where you are given several destinations on a map and you have to link them together with trains. The tough part is that other people are also trying to build trains and may use certain routes you need, thus causing you to reroute to connect your cities. Mike, Daniel and I fought over Western Europe while John was the only one to carefully plot his route through Eastern Europe and took first place. Sharon took second place and I snuck in for third.

Our final games was Ping Pong! It was a tight race heading into Ping Pong so the pressure was on. We played a round robin first to get the top 4 seeds for the tournament. The top 4 seeds were #1 Mike, #2 Sara, #3 John, #4 Daniel. I played John in the first semifinal and won despite his tricky spinning hits and Mike beat Daniel in the other semifinal. John beat Daniel in the 3rd place match securing 1 point. It was me vs. Mike in the championship and I didn’t stand a chance. Mike took home the victory in Ping Pong.

So here are the final standings for the first ever Whitt World Series of Games!
1. Sara
2. Mike
3. John
4. Sharon
5. Daniel
Wahoo! Grand Champ! Maybe they were just being nice because I’m new to the family. 🙂

Although Sharon and Daniel didn’t get first in any games they had a good time and were always good sports. Better luck next time!

We are thinking about making this a tradition. Any ideas of what we could use as our trophy?