October 24, 2011

Pizza Pizza

Last week, I spent every night studying my brains out for my Thursday evening exam. I wouldn't have been able to study if it hadn't been for PDubbs offering to make dinner AND clean up. I love that kid!

To thank him, I offered to make a special dinner Friday night, complete with cooking and cleaning. We decided on pizza because we're ALWAYS looking for an excuse to use the stand mixer!

I started Friday before lunch making the dough from a recipe I found online. I won't even mention the source because I don't want this person getting credit for the dough - it was terrible! Don't get me wrong, it tasted great. But it was incredibly sticky and difficult to work with. I knew it was too easy to be true!

While the yeast was blooming in warm water, I mixed up the flour, salt & olive oil. Then gradually poured in the yeast mixture. When it was just combined, I coated a separate bowl with a little bit of olive oil, covered it in plastic wrap and let the yeast work its magic!

When we were ready to eat, we sliced up some tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers, basil and plenty of mozzarella. Most of the ingredients were on sale at Publix - love saving moolah!

Next came the tricky part. The dough made enough for 2 pizzas but it was such a hassle to get them to spread! I coated the dough, hands & baking pans in flour but it was still sooooo sticky! It took a good 20 minutes of pulling, stretching, hanging, kneading and cursing to get the dough into a reasonably pizza-esque shape. But our perseverance paid off!

We topped one pizza with tomatoes & mozzarella and the other got the veggie treatment. We popped them in the oven at 500 degrees for 12 minutes to get a nice golden crust with bubbly, gooey mozzarella. We topped off the tomato pizza with basil to make it a magherita masterpiece.

PDubbs & I immediately went on to devour half a pizza each without even stopping for a photo op of the final products. But take my word for it - they were pretty & delicious! We loved it. Plus there was plenty left over for my favorite breakfast: cold pizza!

What are your thoughts on cold pizza? Love it? Hate? Never tried it?

October 15, 2011

Frat Family

Meet my newest little, Kristen!!!

We had our big-little reveal Thursday night! Both of my littles also got littles so now I'm a grandbig!

Courtney & Rachael, my grandlittle & little

My little, Kristen, and her little, Paige

Welcome to the family, beautiful ladies! Now we have our own little tree :)

While getting new littles is always an exciting time in our frat, this weekend is also CAMPOUT! I'm so excited to spend time with my new little, grandlittles & 60 of my closest friends. It's so nice to get away from all of the stress and material things for a few hours and just hang out.

And, as always, go Gators!!!

October 13, 2011

Listen to your heart

I've talked about how I want to get back in shape. This isn't for any particular purpose besides trying to lead a healthier life. Plus, if I have to tell my patients that they need to exercise 4-5 times a week, I should practice what I preach!

Yesterday, I laced up and set out for an easy 3-miler. Back in high school or even freshman year of college, this would have been easy peasy. I started off strong and was doing fine for the first mile. My legs felt awesome but my stupid heart started getting in the way. I had set out with a goal of running the entire thing without stopping to walk. So I listened to my body and took the speed down a notch and managed to finish without stopping.

This run was an awful wake-up call. I managed to finish but I've never been this out of shape since I started playing competitive soccer 10 years ago and it's NOT ok. I've been too focused on my health studies and have let my own health take a backseat. I need some balance in my life.

Balance. That's what life's all about, right? And with that in mind, here is a list of 5 simple goals for the week to help me achieve that balance between school, health, and relationships. I'm posting it here so that hopefully I feel more accountable for my actions and can report back with an evaluation.

1. Minimize Facebook time to the hours of 6-7 AM and 6-7 PM.
This may not seem like a big deal but my fingers automatically begin typing "facebook" whenever I open a web browser. Again, NOT ok! This will cut down on procrastinating so that I can focus on my studies while I'm at school & in the library.

2. Run 10 miles this week.
3 down, 7 to go!

3. Cook a homemade dinner with Patrick.
While we already cooked a delicious meal this week, I love love love cooking with PDubbs in our wittle kitchen. It's a great experience sharing tasks and enjoying the delicious meal we created together.

4. Go to 1 group fitness class.
Being a student grants me access to free fitness classes at the student gym and I should be taking advantage of them. One of my Phi Sig Brothers is an instructor for a Zumba class on Sundays that I definitely want to try!

5. Find out how to rent a locker in the Health Science Center.
You can rent a locker on campus in the same building as the library. That way you can store all of your heavy books there instead of carrying them back and forth. I have several nursing books that are 10+ pounds that I never ever use because they are so darn heavy! But if I make it easier for me to access them, I will be likely to use them to study!

So those are my goals for the week. Does setting personal goals help you?

October 09, 2011

Tut Tut

You know those days when you wake up to the sound of rain, your house is dark because of the overcast skies outside? And all you want to do is lay in bed in your pajamas all day watching (probably trashy) TV? When the only thing that gets you out of bed is the prospect of belly-warming soup or a grilled cheese before it's back in bed?

Thank goodness we don't have a TV in our bedroom or else that would have been my day. Instead, I lounged around in my pajamas studying & getting myself prepared for the week. I had big plans to go running today but the hourly battle to avoid curling up in bed was enough mental exercise.

Time is literally flying. I don't know where this weekend has gone, let alone the month of October. We're almost halfway through the semester and things are settling into a comfortable groove. I've finally started to work with some data for my honors research project and I have a presentation to give in class tomorrow. I know exactly how it will go:

-I won't be nervous all day leading up to it. "I got this, no big deal" will be my personal mantra for the day.
-I'll sit in class and attentively listen to the other presenters instead of rehearsing my own spiel.
-My professor will call my name to present.
-I'll freeze.
-My innards will feel like they're turning inside-out.
-I'll forget my name.
-I'll call for my mommy.
-Then I'll give the presentation exactly like I've practiced all weekend.

I don't know why it happens, but it does. Every. Single. Time. No matter how long I practice and perfect it, this same chain of events will occur indubitably.

What did you do this weekend?

October 08, 2011

Recipe: Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Like I said, I'm obsessed with pumpkin. And when I found this recipe from Picky Palate, I knew it was meant to be.

Here's the cast of characters:

chocolate cake mix, instant pudding mix, oil, eggs, sour crema, milk, pureed pumpkin & chocolate chips

Add everything except for the chocolate chips into the mixer, mixing until combined. Then add the chips, mix for a few seconds until combined, and pour it into the pan. In the words of Ina Garten - how easy is that?

I like that the idea of baking cakes in loaf pans. Freshly baked breads always remind me of fall so having a cake in the form of a loaf fits the bill for fall perfectly! It also provides a nice cake-to-icing ratio :)

The recipe said to bake at 350' F for 55-60 minutes but our oven is like the surface of the sun so we knew to cut down on the time. Ours were baked to perfection by 45 minutes.

The cake was delicious, and even better when it was fresh out of the oven with the gooey chocolate chips.

But pumpkin buttercream can't hurt!

A second cast of characters:

room temperature butter, cinnamon, pumpkin puree, powdered sugar & milk

While the cake is cooling, beat the butter, cinnamon & pumpkin puree together on high for a couple of minutes. Then add the powdered sugar, tasting along the way until desired sweetness. Next, add a tablespoon or two of milk until you reach your desired consistency. Not an exact science but it came out delicious!

We used our new icing tools to have some fun with decorating!

My only criticism of the recipe was that the chocolate kinda overpowered the pumpkin. But once you add the pumpkin buttercream, it was magic in my mouth. Next on the to-bake list is pumpkin spice donuts!

Now it's time to watch the Gators get pummeled by LSU. Good thing I have some delicious cake to drown my sorrows.

October 02, 2011

If I hear "Roll Tide" one more time...

My heart was bursting with happiness when I woke up at 7 AM on Saturday and skipped out the door for a morning run. With early classes and killer heat, morning runs just haven't been doable the past few months. But the amazing cool weather got me up and moving instantly. With my October playlist, I managed to pop out an easy 3-mile run. (Side note: My cardio is not where it once was and definitely not where I would like it to be. I want to run a half-marathon in 2012 so I need to get up and moving!)

The beautiful weather also made for great tailgating! It was even a little chilly in the shade, but a few minutes in the sun were enough to thaw out. I don't think I had a single bead of sweat the entire day, which probably hasn't happened since March. There was great company, great food and great fun all day. Campus was hopping with a sea of orange and blue with the occasional pop of crimson and black. There were friendly Gator chomps and "Roll Tides" thrown back-and-forth throughout the day.

Lovely ladies

And honestly, I don't think either side knew who had the upper hand in this game. Yeah, Bama was ranked 2nd in the country but Florida has been on the up-and-up all season. After a surprising and definitive victory over Tennessee, Alabama was the first team that might be able to handle Florida's dominating running game. And Alabama had been consistently strong all-around this season but could they handle the Swamp?

Caitlin, Angela, Sam & I. Another reason I love night games - seeing the sun set before the game!

We had pretty good seats this week, about 60 rows up on the 20 yard-line. We were close to the Alabama section but far enough away to safely Gator chomp them. The stadium was filled to capacity, making for a great intimidation factor. That is, for the first quarter anyways.

Kristen & I :)

As the game continued downhill, we turned our attention to a cute guy sitting in the next section over. And by we, I mean the females in our group. And by cute guy, I mean Ryan Lochte. A UF alum, Ryan is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and currently holds several world records. He often trains right here in Gainesville and likes to tweet about his nights out at midtown.

My little, Kristen, swam in high school and is a huge huge huge fan of Ryan. She was giddy with excitement when they announced him during a commercial break and stared at him from the minute he took his seat near us. During the second quarter, she finally made eye contact with him and he blew her a kiss! She motioned for him to meet us under the stands and he obliged!

She was shaking with excitement!

Michelle, Ryan & I. Notice the @ryanlochte shirt!

Being down by just 2 TDs, I had hope going into the 4th quarter that we could still pull out a W. But then Bama scored. And again. And that's when I knew it was over. I stayed for the whole game to show my support but it was a heartbreaker. I was bombarded by dozens of "ROLL TIDES!!!" on the way home, which just added salt to the wound.

Hanging out with friends all day and meeting Ryan definitely made it a great day. But damn, I really wish we had won. Only 3 more home games left in my senior year - I hope we can make the rest of the season count!

October 01, 2011

October Obsession

Rabbit! Rabbit!

In honor of my favorite month, I've changed up the background & header of this little blog. And I've mentioned it here before but there are even more reasons for my love affair with October this year!

1. Florida Football is on a roll!

To start off, the boys in the Swamp will be playing Bama today, our biggest SEC rival. It falls on the first day of the month! Coincidence? I think not. This could arguably be the most important/best game of the season. It's a primetime game so you know the stadium is going to be CRAZY. I'll be tailgating with my bros all day and a bunch of alumni are coming who I haven't seen in months to years. Plus, a cold front came through so the weather will be GORG all day. Speaking of football, Florida-Georgia also falls in this glorious month. Super stoked!

2. He's baaaaaack!

Our favorite serial killer/vigilante returns this Sunday night. I'll be the first one (with a close second from PDubbs) to admit that I am a big baby when it comes to gory & scary things. But I still love love love this show. Even though it's super creepy, it's smart and well-directed. Plus I love all the Florida references! I had mixed feelings about last season (thank goodness Lumen is gone!) but I'm more than willing to give it another shot this year.

3. Phi Sigma Pi Campout

Second, Campout is in October this year. This is an event my frat puts on every semester where we rough it out in the wilderness for a night. We're not Boy Scouts so by roughing it, I mean we drive our cars to the campsite and hang out all night. Some people bring tents while others end up sleeping in their cars. But it's a great time to bond with our Brothers, Initiates & Alumni. This is second to last Campout as an undergrad and I don't know where I'll be next year or if I'll be able to come back. So I want to spend as much time with my Bros as possible and make the most of this year!

4. Pumpkin Spice everything

Since last time I waxed on about my favorite month, I've discovered a new favorite food - pumpkin. And just so happens that October is full of them! You don't even know how deep my love for pumpkin goes. It just screams autumn. It also screams "eat me, Megan." And who am I to say no? In the past couple of weeks I've made pumpkin biscotti and homemade pumpkin spice lattes. I have a recipe for pumpkin pie soup (thanks, Mom!) that I'm dying to try out. I'm sure PDubbs will document that adventure :)

5. New fave band

I've also made several additions to my October playlist thanks to my new obsession with Mumford & Sons. I've literally had these guys on repeat since April and I still can't get enough. Marcus Mumford's voice is so strong and pure. Their lyrics are intelligent and meaningful. They draw a lot of inspiration for their lyrics from great literature, such as John Steinbeck, William Shakespeare and even Plato. Yeah, that's right, Plato. I think it's awesome that they can pull from these great pieces of work and put a contemporary meaning to them. And everyone loves a good banjo solo! You can check them out along with the rest of the playlist here.

6. Oktoberfest

Now that I'm of legal age (read: old), I can partake in all the festivities of the Greater Gator Beer Festival! This festival usually takes place in March & October every year. The price of admission includes unlimited beer samples from local & national breweries as well as food from local restaurants. Mmm, hopefully they'll have pumpkin beer!

October has the potential to be amazing - hopefully it can live up to all this hype!