Friday, November 28, 2014

Playlist: November 2014

Since Eric and I got engaged in November 2012 and married in November 2013, this month has become all about love and romance for me.  (Yeah, I know ... Mushy.)  Because of this, it just seemed fitting that the playlist for this month should be a collection of some of my favorite love songs.  (Many of these were actually played at our wedding!)

Here's something to note about my choice of love songs: they're not all "traditional" love songs.  (And they're most definitely not the love songs you'd typically hear on the radio ... You know, the ones by people like Taylor Swift and Celine Dion and Whitney Houston.)

One of my favorite things about music is that it can be interpreted in so many ways.  While I enjoy reading up on what the band or artist intended when he/she wrote the song, I also enjoy applying the song to my own life and experiences. That being said, some of these choices may seem a little sad (or, in some cases, maybe even a little morbid) on the surface.  But, regardless of the original intent of the band or artist, these are the songs I find the most romantic.

Click on the link below to listen to this playlist.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks

I know I've mentioned this before, but sometimes I like to look through old things I've written to stir up some new ideas for blog posts (or, more accurately, recycle some old ideas and try to make them seem fresh and new).  While I was reading through some LiveJournal entries, I stumbled upon something that seemed appropriate for a blog post the day before Thanksgiving: a list of things I'm grateful for.

Thanksgiving, as the name would suggest, is a time of giving thanks.  A time to spend with family and/or friends and reflect on the things you have, the things you're grateful for.  I think the majority of us often forget just how lucky we are.  (I know I do!)  I mean, how many times do you find yourself complaining about something completely trivial?  Or dealing with completely ridiculous first world problems?

I'm not going to pretend that my life is so perfect that my only "problems" are struggling to get out of a perfectly soft and warm bed each weekday morning to go to a job I actually enjoy, working with people I genuinely like or coming up with a moderately acceptable list of things Eric and I want for Christmas when we actually don't want or need anything.  (These are both real "problems" I have, but note the use of quotation marks ... They're obviously not real problems.)  I will say, though, that the majority of my "problems" are just that ... Stupid first world issues that many people would kill to have.

So today I'm taking a moment to share some things I'm grateful for.  Most of the time it's not too difficult to come up with a list like this, but, unfortunately, sometimes it is.  Sometimes it's hard to look at the positive things in life, especially if you've ever dealt with depression (and, judging from the statistics, I know there are a lot of us out there!).  However, I realized something when I found that LiveJournal entry ... I wrote it when I was a senior in college.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but that was a really bad year for me.  But, as depressed as I was, I still managed to come up with a list of 10 things I was grateful for.  My list may have changed a bit over the years, but the idea is the same: we should all try to take a minute to consider the good things in our lives.  No matter what else may be happening, whatever awful things we might be dealing with, there's probably still something we can be thankful for.

I had written this quote in the LiveJournal entry I referenced in today's post, and I thought it still seemed perfect.

1.  I am grateful that I have a full time job.  More than that, I'm grateful that I have a full time job I enjoy that allows me to use my degree.

2.  I am grateful that I don't have to worry about keeping a roof over my head or where my next meal is coming from.  We're not rich by any means, but Eric and I both have steady jobs that allow us at least some financial stability ... And that's definitely something to be grateful for (especially in today's economy)!

3.  I am grateful for the people in my life who have stood by me through everything ... The good times and the bad.

4.  I am grateful for the fact that my mom always believes in me (even when I don't believe in myself).

5.  I am grateful that Eric is such a loving, understanding husband.  I know I'm not always the easiest person to live with (or deal with in general), and somehow he still loves me despite all of my many flaws.

6.  I am grateful that I had the opportunity to really know my grandparents.  While it made it much more difficult when they passed away, I'm thankful to have all of the great memories of times spent with them.

7.  I am grateful for my ability to express myself through writing.

8.  I am grateful for the opportunities I've had to travel.  I've seen and done a lot of things I only dreamed of when I was younger, and that's pretty awesome.  There are still a lot of places to check off my "must see" list, but, since Eric and I both love to travel, I'm confident we'll eventually see all (or at least most) of them.

9.  I am grateful that I have the luxury of free time.  I have time to work on this blog, watch TV shows and movies, read, go to yoga classes, go out with Eric or with friends ... The list could go on and on.  I think everyone deserves time to do things they enjoy, but I also know everyone doesn't have that time.  Just knowing that makes me feel incredibly lucky.

10.  I am grateful for the experiences I have learned from in my life.  Sure, I have some regrets (doesn't everyone?), but everything I've been through has led me to where I am now.  And I have a lot to be grateful for these days.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Spinach Turkey Lasagna Toss

I've learned a lot about cooking since I decided I wanted to learn how to do more in the kitchen than heat up a can of soup or a frozen dinner.  And while I'm definitely gaining more confidence in my cooking abilities, I'm still not as awesome as I'd like to be.

Once in a while, though, I manage to surprise myself.  Today's recipe was one of those surprises.

I usually try to make meal plans for the week ahead (mostly for my own sanity when things get chaotic).  If it's been a couple of weeks since we've gone to the grocery store (and we don't have time/don't feel like going that week), I have to get a little more creative and find recipes that only contain ingredients we already have on hand.  Or, in the case of today's recipe, I get even more creative and come up with something on my own.

I don't do this often because, to be honest, I'm still not confident enough in my culinary skills to regularly come up with my own recipes.  (I hope I'll eventually get to that point, though!)  But once in a while I decide to give something a try and hope for the best.  And once in a while it actually turns out to be pretty damn good.

I tried desperately to get a picture that showcased the "layers" in this dish.  This was the best I could do.

Spinach Turkey Lasagna Toss

A Divulge and Indulge original recipe.

Ingredient List:
  • 1 box short pasta (I used Garofalo organic gemelli from Costco)
  • 1-1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1-1 1/2 cups white onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped (you could also use a 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach, but we usually have a big bag of fresh spinach on hand since it's one of our Costco staples)
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans diced fire roasted tomatoes in their juices (I used Hunt's)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic (or, if you're lazy like me, the equivalent of jarred, pre-minced garlic)
  • 1 tbsp Mrs. Dash Italian Medley
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (I used whole milk ricotta in this recipe)


1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

3.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the onion begins to get tender.

4.  Add the ground turkey to the skillet and season with the black pepper and sea salt.  Cook until the meat is completely browned, breaking it up as it cooks.

5.  Add the garlic to the meat and onions and cook for 30-60 seconds, or until fragrant.

6.  Season the meat mixture with the Mrs. Dash Italian Medley, oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper flakes.

7.  Add the fresh spinach to the skillet and cook until wilted.

8.  Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water.  Cook according to package directions until al dente and drain.

9.  Pour the 2 cans of tomatoes (with their juices!) into the meat mixture.  Cook through, stirring a few times to mix thoroughly.

10.  Spray an 8x8 inch pan with cooking spray and add about half of the drained pasta to the pan.

11.  Add about half of the meat sauce, 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella, 1/2 cup of the shredded Parmesan, and the ricotta to the pasta in the pan.

12.  Make a second layer using the other half of the pasta, other half of the meat sauce, 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella, and 1/2 cup of the shredded Parmesan.

13.  Bake the pasta for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has completely melted.

As you can see, it's a very simple recipe that's easy to throw together.  It's perfect for when you're craving the flavors of lasagna but don't have lasagna noodles on hand (or just don't feel like spending an extra few minutes assembling perfect layers of noodles, sauce, and cheese).  I would like to note that this is not an overly saucy dish (which is actually surprising since I love saucy pastas), but it's full of flavor.  I served this with a simple green salad and a glass of white wine (my favorite is Riesling).

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Late Honeymoon/One Year Anniversary Recap Part 2: Amsterdam and Volendam

Today I'll be sharing some pictures and experiences from the second part of our late honeymoon/one year anniversary trip: the Netherlands.


Before getting to the good stuff, though, I just have to share a couple of pictures from our flight to Europe:

On the left you can see how obviously thrilled I am to get on a several hour long flight to Europe from the Newark airport.  (Okay, I won't pretend ... I was actually really excited, Eric just caught me at a weird moment.)  You can see just how excited we were during the flight in the picture on the right.

We spent the majority of our time in the Netherlands in Amsterdam, which was an incredibly beautiful city with a really laid-back, cool vibe.

We took a ton of pictures of the scenery in Amsterdam, but I obviously won't share all of them on this blog.  I mean, really ... You probably don't want or need to see 100 pictures of old buildings and canals (even if everything was gorgeous!).
The top right picture features some flamingos from the zoo (hopefully you can see them).  I took the bottom picture to remember just how confusing all of the signs were for us.

We took a canal cruise in a glass top boat, which was an awesome way to see a lot of the city.  I think I took at least 30-40 pictures during that cruise, but these are a few of my favorites:

My only regret is that we didn't go back to the I amsterdam sign to get a picture in front of it.

One of the things I really wanted to do while in Amsterdam was visit the Anne Frank House.  Thankfully, we had time to squeeze that in during our free time!  It was just as powerful as I imagined it would be ... I got really emotional while we were there.  We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but we snapped a couple as we waited in line to enter:

I tried to capture just how long the line was in the picture on the left.  We'd actually moved up a bit by that point, though, and I don't think my angle clearly shows just how far the line wound around.  Thankfully it moved pretty quickly ... We only waited about 45 minutes or so.

We also spent an afternoon in Volendam, first touring a cheese/clog making shop and then stopping for lunch.  We were able to sample a bunch of the cheeses at the shop, and Eric and I picked up a couple of our favorites to bring home (gouda with cumin and smoked gouda with black pepper).

This was taken on our drive into Volendam.  I don't think it's a good picture of us at all (especially me ... Hello, super unflattering angle and crazy windblown hair!), but the windmill is cool and I was hoping that with enough editing I could at least make it look kind of pretty.
We just thought this was kind of a cute little bridge, so we stopped for some touristy pictures.

Volendam was a really pretty, really quaint area.  The background in this picture is gorgeous (though I'll admit I'm not happy with the way I look in it).

As in New York, I took pictures of a couple of our more memorable meals.

This was our lunch in Volendam.  We both ordered 2 pieces of fried cod (or kibbeling), beer (Heineken, of course), and a large platter of paella to share.  We ate at a tiny little place overlooking the water, and it was delicious!
Our tour guide recommended we try some Indonesian food during our time in Amsterdam, so Eric and I made sure we had dinner in an Indonesian restaurant.  We went to a place called Kartika and ordered the Ramayana (which is essentially a huge array of small plates to try, as you can see from these pictures) and some Indonesian beer.  It was all very good and we felt incredibly lucky because we had no reservations and were able to snag the last available table (everything else had been reserved for the next 2 hours)!

In addition to pictures of our food, I also took some pictures of our hotel.  We stayed at the Park Plaza Vondelpark in Amsterdam, which was kind of small and cozy, but overall a nice place to stay.  We were in what the tour guide referred to as the "posh" part of the city, so it was a very quiet, safe neighborhood.  We even walked through the nearby park on our way back to the hotel one night after dark and it was completely fine ... There were actually a ton of people out bicycling and jogging through the park.

I wouldn't recommend this hotel if you're not comfortable with a pretty open bathroom situation (it's that glass enclosed thing in the bottom two square images), but it was otherwise a comfortable place to stay.
This is obviously the hotel's exterior.

Eric and I went to the Red Light District one night, but it was honestly a little underwhelming.  I think we just went too late because most of the shops were closed (which was crazy since it was only 9:30 p.m. when we got there), but we were at least still able to do a little window shopping.  We did grab some beer at a bar and enjoyed people watching, though.  We didn't take any pictures while we were there because we didn't want to be too obviously touristy (though I'm sure everyone could still tell we weren't locals) and because we knew that pictures are generally frowned upon in that area.

I will say, though, that I'm really glad we went, even if we didn't get to go in any of the sex shops.  (They had a condom shop that looked really awesome, and I was really bummed we couldn't get anything there.  Oh, and that link?  Not safe for work.)  We briefly considered going to a strip club, but decided against it because we weren't sure how much it would cost and didn't want to waste a bunch of our cash so early into our trip.  If our stop in Amsterdam had been at the end of our trip, we definitely would have gone!

I was really proud of us for figuring out the bus system as well.  We took the bus down to the Red Light District and then back to our hotel when we'd finished hanging out.  (We only spent about an hour and a half in the area.)  We both felt like Amsterdam had a pretty confusing layout, so it was actually just impressive that we found anything at all (whether on foot or via public transportation)!

They already had some Christmas decorations up, and I just thought this was really pretty.  I took this when we were walking back to our hotel from the bus stop.

And finally, I have to share a picture Eric and I took on our first night in Amsterdam.  We took this in our hotel room right before we went downstairs for a meet and greet dinner with our tour guide and the rest of our group because it was officially our one year wedding anniversary.

So here's what one year of marriage looks like:

We were so jetlagged and exhausted that evening.  We'd just woken up from a 2 hour nap and tried to quickly freshen up before heading down to meet everyone.  It's a miracle I don't have makeup smeared across my face!

We've already discussed going back to Amsterdam in the future.  Our tour gave us a taste of 3 areas in Europe (which was really nice!), but we could have easily spent at least a week in Amsterdam.  We were able to check off my top 3 things to do there, though (a canal cruise, the Anne Frank House, and the Red Light District), which was obviously awesome.  And hey, maybe next time we'll head to the Red Light District a little earlier in the day and go to a strip club.  Why not, right?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work: 7 Tips from Someone Who Has Been There (More Than Once!)

Eric actually took this picture from the plane as we were landing in New York at the beginning of our recent trip.  I edited it (obviously), but I thought it was an appropriate image for today's post.

I used to refer to myself as "The Queen of Long Distance."  (Lovely title, I know.)

Seriously, though ... During my dating years, I seemed to have this weird habit of getting involved with guys who weren't physically around on a regular basis.  This wasn't always the case, of course, but each of my 3 most serious relationships were, at some point, long distance relationships.

Obviously they didn't all work out, but in each case we made it work for a pretty long time.  It definitely wasn't easy, and it required a lot of effort from both people ... But living far away from someone you love doesn't have to mean giving up on the relationship.

Many of the tips I'll be sharing with you today are common sense, but these are some of the things that really helped me deal with the distance.  And, if you ever find yourself in a long distance relationship, maybe they'll help you too.

1.  Make an effort to talk at least once a day every day.  There will be times when, for whatever reason, this just doesn't happen, but those precious minutes (or hours) you have to talk mean everything when you're in a long distance relationship.

2.  Talk about "real" stuff.  I'm not saying you should only have deep philosophical discussions or that you can't ask your boyfriend/girlfriend how his/her day was, but you should definitely push yourself to share more than your favorite color/song/book/movie or the mundane details of your last physics exam.

3.  Don't be afraid to express your feelings.  Obviously if a relationship is in its early stages, you may not be all, "I love you so much and want to marry you and have your babies."  (I mean, I guess you can say those things, but you run the risk of forcing your significant other to run screaming in the opposite direction.  Trust me ... When guys were like this with me early on, I immediately began weighing the pros and cons of remaining in the relationship.  It typically didn't last long.)  When you're apart, though, you have to primarily rely on verbal (or even written) communication to tell the other person you care.  So if you want your significant other to know how you feel, just say it.

4.  Surprise each other.  Grand gestures really aren't necessary ... It's the small things that can really make a difference.  Once, after I'd flown to visit an ex-boyfriend, he met me at the airport.  When we got to his car, he turned it on and asked me if I recognized the music playing.  He'd gotten me a CD I'd mentioned I wanted a few weeks prior and it acted as the soundtrack for our drive back to his place.  It was simple, but nice because he'd obviously been listening (even though I'd just mentioned the CD in passing).  An even better example?  I lived in Wisconsin (about 7 hours from Eric) for a little over a year.  I had no plans one weekend, and was just hanging out in my bedroom, wasting away on the internet.  Suddenly, my apartment buzzer went off.  I kind of got freaked out since it was kind of late on a Friday night, I was in my pajamas, and I wasn't expecting anyone.  I thought maybe someone had buzzed the wrong apartment, so I didn't bother to go to the intercom to check.  My phone started ringing ... It was Eric.  As I answered it, the buzzer went off again.  I told him that someone was outside and that it was kind of freaking me out, and he said, "Maybe you should answer the door."  It still didn't click, so I responded with, "Well, what if it's some weirdo or something?  I don't think any of my friends from work would be stopping by without calling first, and I'm in my pajamas and ..."  He then cut me off and said, "I really think you should just answer the door."  And then I knew.  He'd driven the 7 hours just to see me for a couple of days.  Best surprise ever!

5.  Make the most of your time together.  When you actually have a few days to spend together, enjoy it.  This is an obvious one, I know, but really ... Make every moment count.  Try something new in your city, take a short road trip to a cool place (Eric and I drove to both Chicago and The House on the Rock when I lived in Wisconsin), cook dinner together, spend copious amounts of time cuddling ... The list of options goes on and on.  It doesn't really matter what you're doing, as long as you're having fun and doing it together.

6.  Make plans for future visits.  When you're in a long distance relationship, the end of a visit can make you feel like your whole world is caving in.  There are tearful goodbyes, rib crushing hugs, and kisses you wish would never end.  I'm not going to lie ... It's fucking awful.  That's why making plans for future visits is so important.  If you at least have some sort of plan in the works, it's not quite as hard to say goodbye.  Okay, that's not entirely true ... But it's still nice to have something to look forward to while you watch half of your heart (this probably sounds dramatic, but it's so true when you're in love) head into the airport or drive away.

7.  And, finally, the two most important things you need to make a long distance relationship work: trust and honesty.  Yes, you need trust and honesty in any relationship, but you literally cannot have a long distance relationship without these two things.  You're not going to know what the other person is doing every second of every day, so if they don't pick up the phone when you call, you can't freak out and start imagining that they're out with someone else.  You also can't hide things from each other.  If you're having an issue (especially if it's an issue with them!), you have to be able to talk about it.  If you don't, it can make things awkward at best (or, in a worst case scenario, possibly lead to a blowout fight and an eventual breakup).

Long distance relationships can actually be pretty amazing if you're both willing to put in some effort.  One of the best things about these types of relationships is that they allow you the opportunity to really get to know one another.  You spend a lot of time talking (instead of making out for hours or having sex every chance you get), which helps you build a strong foundation.  The other stuff is great too, of course, but in a long distance relationship it becomes even more special because it doesn't happen all the time.

Long distance relationships also give you the opportunity to share your hometown (or new city, if you've moved) with the other person.  Every time you visit one another, it's like a mini vacation ... And that's actually pretty cool!

They're not for everyone, but they can work out.  The only catch?  If you're really serious about one another, you'll eventually have to live in the same place.  I mean, Eric and I wouldn't be married now if I hadn't taken the plunge and moved to Omaha to be with him.  I won't lie ... I was fucking terrified to make that move.  But I'm so glad I did.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Turkey Sriracha Meatballs

What is it about meatballs that's so appealing?  I mean, when you think about it, the concept is kind of gross: little wads of meat stuck together with egg and breadcrumbs.

The idea of a wad of meat might be kind of gross, but Meatwad is pretty damn adorable.  I love him (and this show!)

Even though the concept may be gross, meatballs are not.  I love meatballs, and I'm always looking for new and interesting ways to make them.

Today's meatball recipe is pretty straightforward, but the sauce is what makes them really special ... It's spicy and tangy and contains Sriracha, so it's obviously amazing.  This is also a really simple recipe.  Seriously, if you can follow instructions, you can make these meatballs!  (And you should make them soon!)

These meatballs can be served as an appetizer or as a main dish (I served these for dinner over rice with a side of steamed broccoli).

I actually made an effort when plating these meatballs, and I thought this was MasterChef worthy.  Hey, a girl can dream!

Turkey Sriracha Meatballs

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Budget Bytes.

Ingredient List (Meatballs):
  • 1-1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced into fairly small pieces
  • 1 tsp Sriracha
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp low sodium soy sauce

Instructions (Meatballs):

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, spray it with cooking spray, and set it aside.

3.  In a large bowl, add all of the meatball ingredients.  Mix everything together using your hands.

4.  Shape the turkey mixture into meatballs and place each meatball onto the cookie sheet, making sure to space them apart as evenly as possible.  (As I've mentioned before, I kind of suck when it comes to making perfectly uniform meatballs.  The original recipe states that you should get between 25-30 meatballs, but I only wound up with 17.  I'm sure you can stretch this recipe further if you make small meatballs, but I obviously like mine a little bigger.  (That's what she said!)  Sorry ... I couldn't resist.)

5.  Bake the meatballs for 25-30 minutes, or until they are cooked through (I baked mine for the full 30 minutes).

A closer look at these delicious, spicy meatballs.

Ingredient List (Sriracha Sauce):
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha
  • 1/2 cup water, divided
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

Instructions (Sriracha Sauce):

1.  While the meatballs are baking, combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha, and 1/4 cup of water in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly until the brown sugar is dissolved.

2.  Mix the remaining 1/4 cup of water with the cornstarch in a small bowl.

3.  Pour the cornstarch mixture into the saucepan with the Sriracha mixture and stir until well combined.

4.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.  The sauce should thicken and become a little glossy when it has finished cooking.

5.  Drizzle the sauce over the meatballs once they've finished baking.

As I said earlier, I served these meatballs as a main dish over Jasmine rice with a side of steamed broccoli.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Late Honeymoon/One Year Anniversary Recap Part 1: New York

After 10 days away, Eric and I made it back home in one piece.  While it's nice to sleep in our own bed and spend time relaxing in our own apartment, I don't think we were really ready to come back.  We could easily have spent another 10 days (or longer!) traveling through Europe, but, you know, we have those pesky things called jobs that help us pay bills and eat and keep a roof over our heads.  So we very reluctantly said goodbye to our very late honeymoon/one year anniversary trip and hello to our normal lives in Omaha, Nebraska.

But before I completely say goodbye to this vacation, I wanted to share some of our experiences and pictures from each of the 4 places we visited.  Since I'd like to avoid writing the longest blog post ever, I'll be breaking this up into 4 parts, each focused on one area of our trip.

Today's post is all about our time in New York, which was the first stop on our late honeymoon/one year anniversary trip.


New York has always been one of my favorite places.  I used to visit at least once a year (sometimes several times a year) when I was younger, but after I graduated from college I just didn't have many opportunities to go back.

Eric, on the other hand, had never been there.  When we were discussing places to visit on our trip, it just made sense to spend a few days there before heading off to Europe.  I hadn't been there since 2006 (which was crazy!), I really wanted to experience the city with Eric, and it was on his list of places to visit ... So, like I said, it just made sense to kick off our trip with some time in New York.

Eric and me on the plane when we landed at LaGuardia.  As you can see, we were really excited to start our adventure!

I took pictures of every hotel we stayed in.  It's probably weird, but I like to remember those places too.  Our New York hotel was the Hotel Belleclaire.  We got a really small, cozy room, but it was actually pretty perfect for us.  We got in plenty of cuddle time (yes, I'll probably get a little mushy from time to time in these recaps), it was in a nice location on the Upper West Side (it was shockingly quiet in our area), and it was incredibly affordable (which was really important since we dropped quite a bit of money on the European portion of our vacation!).

Our room at the Hotel Belleclaire.

We took turns taking pictures outside the hotel as well.  I'm not really sure what's going on with my foot in this picture, though.

I also tried to take pictures of the majority of our meals.  (If you've read any of my previous blog posts, you may have noticed that I like food.)  I didn't document every meal, but I took pictures of most of our food.

This was at Luke's Lobster, which was really close to our hotel.  We got the Noah's Ark, which (if you can't see the menu very well in this picture) was a meal for two that included a lobster roll, shrimp roll, and crab roll (each cut in half), two bags of chips, two drinks, and two pickles.  The food was awesome!
Why is Pinkberry so much better than any of the frozen yogurt places we have here?
We had Indian at Swagat (which was also very close to our hotel).  It was delicious!  Eric had the Lamb Saagwala and I had the Lamb Chettinad.
We had dinner at a little hole in the wall Irish Pub (O'Brien's) before we went to a show, and it was actually very good.  Eric had a pulled pork sandwich and fries and I had the Guinness beef stew with a side salad.

We spent a lot of time in museums while we were in New York.  Somehow we managed to hit up the Museum of Natural History, the MoMaand 9/11 Memorial Museum in the 3 days we were there.  (I know ... I still can't believe we were able to squeeze all of that in!)

The dinosaurs were our favorite part of the Museum of Natural History.
I like to pretend the fossils are coming after me.
See?  It's just like Jurassic Park!  (Okay, not really.)
Eric was much less worried that these fossils would attack.
Some of my favorite pieces in the MoMa.  I was really excited that there were several paintings by Giorgio de Chirico on display!  (If you're not familiar with his work, one of his paintings is featured in this collage on the top right.  He's probably my favorite artist of all time.)
We took a few pictures inside the museum, but I thought these pictures from the memorial and surrounding area were more "blogworthy."  The museum itself was incredibly emotional, though ... I definitely shed some tears while we were there.

In addition to the museums, one of the highlights of our trip to New York was seeing Michael C. Hall star as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  If you're not familiar with the story, I highly recommend at least seeing the movie (Michael Pitt has a small role, and you may remember how much I love his work!).  Michael C. Hall did an amazing job ... Eric and I were both blown away!  I had no idea he could sing like that!  If you're in the New York area and can snag tickets, I'd highly recommend checking this out (especially before Michael C. Hall finishes his run on January 18th!).

We weren't allowed to take any photos during the performance (not surprising), but we at least got a picture of the theater beforehand.

And, of course, no vacation recap would be complete without at least a few touristy pictures:

We really didn't take too many touristy pictures, but I thought these two turned out pretty well.

A "touristy" shot of me on the street.
And, of course, a "touristy" shot of Eric.

I'll end this post with just a couple more pictures (I know I've already posted about a million!).

We almost never take good pictures (especially when we try to take a picture together), but I actually thought this one turned out really well.  We took this in our hotel room before we left to hit up some museums on our second day in New York.
And finally a not as good, dark, grainy picture from the streets of New York.  (Yes, we went to New York and took a picture in front of Trader Joe's.)  We didn't care about Trader Joe's, though (I mean, we have one very close to our apartment here).  We cared about the turkey picture on the Trader Joe's window.  I haven't shared our turkey obsession on this blog, but trust me ... If you knew us in real life, this would make a lot of sense!  (I hate the way I look in this picture, but I just had to share it anyway.)

So there you have it ... A (somewhat) brief overview of our time in New York.  We walked about a million miles, ate a ton of delicious food, saw a lot of cool shit, and had so much fun.  We'll definitely be going back!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What I Am To You Is Not What You Mean To Me

Sometimes I wonder if people think of me the way I think of them.

When I look back on times I shared with various people in my life, I wonder if they remember those moments as well.  Do those memories still matter to them?  Do I still mean something to them?

I think these questions arise more frequently when it comes to friendships that have ended.  (And, if I'm being completely honest, I sometimes wonder the same things about guys I've previously been involved with.)  I know it does absolutely no good to remain stuck in the past ... Obviously the friendship/relationship didn't last for a reason.  But still ... If you really cared about someone and shared yourself with them, you don't just suddenly forget they exist.  (At least I don't.)

I found this quote on Pinterest and thought it seemed fitting for this post.

I often think about one friend in particular (someone I once considered one of my closest friends) even though I haven't seen or spoken to her in years.  It's just so heartbreaking to think that someone I was once so close to, someone I trusted with all of my secrets, someone I believed would never judge me (even when I was making some pretty questionable choices) could suddenly just cut me out of her life.  I still don't know why it happened.

A lot of the stories from my high school and college years involve her, so her name naturally comes up in conversation from time to time.  But once in a while I stop to wonder, "Does she ever talk about those times?  And, if so, what does she say?"

As for old romantic relationships, I don't really dwell on them too much.  I mean, I've clearly moved on with my life and I hope they have as well.  But sometimes I still find myself questioning whether I had any real impact on their lives.

Here's the thing ... Every guy I've ever been involved with (whether it was serious or casual) has, in some way, affected me.  If nothing else, I learned what I did and didn't want out of a relationship.  So I have to wonder ... Did I affect them in some way as well?  And then I start wondering why I would even care (I still don't have an answer for this).  It doesn't really matter, does it?

Memories are a strange thing, though.  Some of them are so fuzzy that they can barely be recalled.  But there are those memories that are so vivid you can still feel everything you felt in that moment, no matter how many years have passed.  Those are the moments that leave a mark in your heart ... They can't simply be erased.  Those are the moments that leave you wondering, years later, about someone you may have lost contact with.

Those are the moments that make you want to ask, "Do you still remember this?  Do I still mean something to you?"

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Renaissance of Tuna Casserole

When I first moved out on my own many years ago, I had no fucking clue how to cook.  I mostly survived on things like spaghetti with jarred marinara sauce, frozen dinners, and cans of soup.  I also made quite a bit of Tuna Helper (I know, I know).

I don't know why, but I've always liked Tuna Helper meals.  I would never say that they're amazing or anything, but they're filling and come in a wide variety of flavors (which is really important when you don't know how to throw a meal together without using something prepackaged).  I haven't eaten Tuna Helper in a long time (mostly because I've been trying to cook more things myself), but the meal I'll be sharing with you today kind of reminded me of Tuna Helper ... Really good, really fancy Tuna Helper.

If you're not a fan of tuna casserole or Tuna Helper, this meal may not be for you.  I know that tuna isn't everyone's favorite thing.  If, however, you like pasta with great flavor and can stomach the idea of cooked canned tuna, I'd recommend at least giving this recipe a try.  Trust me ... It has a much more sophisticated flavor than any box of Tuna Helper ever will!

I was really proud of this picture because it didn't require much editing.  I guess sometimes iPhones can take pretty great pictures!

Renaissance of Tuna Casserole

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Taste and Tell.

Ingredient List:
  • 1 box fettuccine
  • 1 12 oz. can chunk light tuna in water, drained
  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic (or, if you're lazy like me, the equivalent of jarred, pre-minced garlic)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced (My sun-dried tomatoes came from a pouch.  You'll want to make sure you don't use tomatoes packed in oil for this recipe.)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 10.8 oz. bag frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp Mrs. Dash Italian Medley
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes


1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2.  Add the pasta to the boiling water.  Cook according to package directions until al dente and drain.

3.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

4.  Add the tuna, sun-dried tomatoes, Mrs. Dash Italian Medley, oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper flakes and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5.  Pour in the white wine, turn the heat up to medium high, and allow the mixture to cook for approximately 3 minutes.

6.  Turn the heat down to medium low and add the heavy cream, peas, sea salt, and black pepper.  Allow the sauce to cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (Don't worry if it looks really soupy at this point.  The sauce will thicken a little as it cooks, but it will still be somewhat runny.  This won't matter once it's tossed with the pasta and cheese, though, I promise!)

7.  Sprinkle the sauce with the cheese, and stir to combine.

8.  Toss the sauce with the pasta until evenly coated.

I know that tuna meals aren't for everyone, but this was exceptionally good.  The sauce was simple but flavorful, and the recipe was pretty quick and easy to throw together (even on a busy weeknight).  I served this with a side of mixed steamed vegetables (broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I Love You More Than I Have Ever Found A Way To Say To You

On this day one year ago, Eric and I stood in front of some of our closest friends and family and pledged to spend the rest of our lives together.

This was truly one of the greatest days of my life.

In honor of our one year wedding anniversary, I'm going to share the story of how we first met.  (I actually wrote this for my previous blog, so I'm kind of recycling this post ... But just go with it.  I'm trying to be romantic!)

In May/June 2007, Eric and I both took a trip to China.  The trip was sponsored through ISLP (International Scholar Laureate Program), and students and recent graduates from all over the United States, Puerto Rico, and Guam were invited to attend based on grades, extracurricular activities, etc.  Eric and I were both invited to their Delegation on Medicine (though, oddly enough, he was originally invited to attend a different type of program and he requested to attend this program instead).

Once we arrived, the participants were broken up into several small groups ... And Eric and I happened to be put in the same group.  I was so jet-lagged when we arrived that I honestly don't remember much from the first day.  All I know is that it was pretty much an initial introduction to the program, breaking up into small groups, and then heading back to our hotel rooms for some much needed rest.

On the second night, I ran into Eric in the hotel lobby.  We had some free time, and I was planning to go exploring with a few girls from our group.  Eric was with one of the guys from our group, and, after a bit of discussion, we all decided we'd hang out together in the beer garden at the hotel.

This is obviously not the greatest picture ever (we're not even sitting next to each other, and my face is practically covered by a beer mug), but it's the first time the two of us were ever in a picture together.  If you don't recognize us in this picture (we were obviously much younger!), I'm third from the left and Eric is second from the right in the red shirt.

Although much of that evening was a blur (and not just because we were drinking), I know that Eric and I spent quite a bit of time talking.  And after that night, we started spending most of our time together.

We took charter busses through the cities (though we flew from city to city), and always found ourselves sitting together.  Sometimes we'd literally talk for hours while we traveled to our next destination!  Time seemed to pass so quickly during those rides ... I remember finding it so easy to talk to him.

And then, suddenly, I realized I was developing feelings for him.  My heart would beat a little faster when he would sit next to me, and it felt like a jolt of electricity was surging through my entire body if our hands or legs would brush against each other as we shifted in our seats.  It was both exciting and terrifying because, to be honest, I didn't know what (if anything) would happen between us.  I just knew I was so excited about this amazing new guy in my life.

Once we made it to the second city on our trip (Xi'an), things got a little more interesting.  We'd been out together with a group of people from the trip all evening ... And then it was just the two of us, together under the stars on a beautiful night.  I don't remember what prompted us to walk over and sit down on a bench, but when we did, he moved closer ... And then we were kissing.  It felt like the whole world had slipped away in that moment.  I hadn't felt that connected to someone in a long time ... It was amazing.

Although we clearly had great chemistry, by the end of the trip I was wondering if it had just been a summer fling.  I kind of thought it had to be since we lived over 1,000 miles from one another.  I didn't want it to end, though, and I remember crying over the thought of potentially never seeing him again.  I'd been in long distance relationships in the past, and while I knew they could be extremely difficult, I knew I could handle it.  Eric, on the other hand, had never been involved in a long distance relationship, and I worried that I wouldn't seem as appealing once reality set in and he realized we'd only be able to see each other once every few months or so.

I decided to leave it up to him on our last night together.  I was going on to Lhasa, Tibet, but he was heading back to Beijing and then back to his home in Nebraska.  I still don't know how I managed to find the courage to ask him what he wanted.  I knew I'd be crushed if he didn't want to at least try to make things work between us, but I also knew it would be insanely difficult to go from spending every day and night together to only seeing each other once in a while.

I'll never forget that night.  Our conversation pretty much went like this:

Me: So ... What do you want to do?

Eric: I want to be with you.

Me: Are you saying you want to be with me but feel like you can't because we live so far apart?  Or are you saying you want to try to make this work and actually be boyfriend and girlfriend?

Eric: I'm saying that I want to try to make this work and be boyfriend and girlfriend.

Those may not have been our exact words (this was over 7 years ago, after all!), but that was essentially what was said.  While I may not remember everything word for word, I do remember how I felt: the sense of relief washing over me as I realized this guy who had become so special to me over the past couple of weeks felt the same about me, and the tingling excitement that goes along with the start of a new relationship.  Unfortunately, I also felt a tremendous sense of heartache because I knew that in a few short hours we'd be separated and I had no idea when we'd see each other again.  (Thankfully I didn't have to wait long ... He flew to West Virginia to visit me in July, just a few weeks after I returned from Tibet.)

At the time, I felt like this could be the beginning of something really special.  I had no idea that nearly 6 and a half years later we'd be getting married!  (And now, one year into our marriage, we've gone back to our roots: spending time together exploring various foreign cities.)

This is one of my favorite pictures from our reception.  We were dancing crazily to "Sexy Back" (a special request from Eric), and all of the stress we'd been feeling about the wedding just seemed to melt away.

I left out a lot of details, but I still feel like I shared a lot in this post.  I feel so lucky to have met someone who makes me so happy.  I hope that everyone has the opportunity to experience this kind of love during their lifetime.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Everything in its Right Place: A November Organization Challenge

I'm not entirely ready to begin this month's organization challenge since this month is going to be pretty hectic for me.  After some thought, though, I've decided on one main goal to focus on for November.

Image provided by Unsplash ( and edited by me.

Although there are several projects I should probably consider tackling when it comes to better organizing my life, I really just don't have much time to focus on achieving any sort of significant goals this month.  Eric and I are spending a couple of weeks traveling (New York City, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, and Paris) for a late honeymoon (since we didn't take one last year)/our one year wedding anniversary, so organization isn't exactly my top priority right now.  (And if I'm being completely honest here, I probably also won't be checking in on Divulge and Indulge much, if at all, during my trip.  That being said, if you do happen to leave a comment, don't be discouraged ... I'll respond as soon as I get settled back into my normal life.)

Since I don't want to set myself up for failure, I'm going to keep things simple this month.  I'm only going to set one goal, and, since it's something I've been thinking about doing for a while, I should hopefully be able to achieve it.

My November 2014 Organization Goal:

Since I started Divulge and Indulge back in April, I've been trying to figure out the best way to organize this blog.  I've been pretty consistent when it comes to my Tasty Tuesday posts, but my posting has otherwise been pretty scattered.  While I definitely don't want to designate a specific topic for each day of the week (I tried that once before, and it just didn't work for me), I think I need to come up with some sort of posting schedule.  It doesn't have to be super stringent or anything, but I need to start posting more regularly.  (And I'm already working on that by scheduling several posts so I won't have to worry about writing anything on my trip.  After all, I don't plan to be tethered to my laptop the entire time!)

Once I return from my trip, I'm also going to claim my blog on Bloglovin.  I don't imagine that I'm suddenly going to have thousands (or even hundreds) of followers after doing this or anything, but, since I'm an avid user of Bloglovin, I think it just makes sense to claim my blog on that site.  It's just another small step I'm taking in an effort to overcome my fears and concerns when it comes to blogging and putting myself out there.

As I mentioned earlier, there are so many things I should probably be doing to better organize my life (like emptying my closet of all of the clothes I haven't worn in at least 3 years, for example), but, again, this month is just not the best time for me to work on any major organizational projects.  (And trust me, decluttering my closet is a major organizational project!)  For now, though, I think putting some time and effort into organizing this blog is a good goal.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Monthly Personal Challenge Link-up: October Results

Not Entirely Perfect

It's the first Thursday of the month, and that means it's time to share the results of my October food challenge.  For the most part, I stuck with my goals this month.  I definitely slacked on the coffee part, though (which is so unlike me).

To recap, my original goals were as follows:

1.  Share at least 2 "good for game day" recipes.

2.  Share at least 1 pumpkin recipe.

3.  Purchase at least 5 different seasonal coffee drinks from various shops around town and then share my thoughts on them in a post.

And here's how I did:

1.  The "good for game day" recipes weren't too difficult for me.  I'm pretty diligent when it comes to writing my Tasty Tuesday posts (well, for the most part), so I assumed I could probably accomplish this goal.  If you're new to this blog and want to check them out, they can be found here and here.

2.  I also didn't have an issue choosing a pumpkin recipe to share.  It's a great breakfast/brunch meal and it can be found here, if you're interested.

3.  I only had one seasonal coffee drink during the month of October.  One!  I was actually kind of surprised at myself for not meeting this goal.  I mean, it's not too difficult to swing by a coffee shop on my way to or from work (or any other time I'm out, for that matter) ... And yet somehow I managed to only do this once.  Lame.

Since I only tried one seasonal coffee, I'm not going to make a separate post about it.  I'll just share my thoughts here (which is very exciting, I know).

It's probably best that I didn't try 5 different coffees.  I mean, no one needs to see 5 pictures that look just like this.

Scooter's never disappoints me.  Some of my friends don't like it as much as some of the other coffee places in town, but I think their coffee has a very distinct, rich flavor.  I actually don't go to Scooter's as often as some other places (namely Fox Hollow Coffee and Starbucks), but every time I do go, I think, "Hmmm ... I should probably make it a point to go there more often."

I tried their Pumpkin Chai Latte, and it was delicious!  It was rich and sweet and had the perfect balance of flavors.  I basically inhaled this, so I'd definitely recommend it to others!

And there you have it ... The results of my October food challenge.  The theme for November's personal challenge is organization.  Since Eric and I are going to be traveling for a good portion of the month, I'm going to keep my goal (or goals) pretty simple.  After all, I won't exactly have a ton of extra time to tackle random projects this month!  There are a lot of things I'd like to do, but, like I said, I'm just not sure if I'll be able to find the time.  I'm still trying to come up with at least one project I know I can stick with, but I plan to post my goal (or goals) tomorrow ... So stay tuned!