New Place, New Friends

27 01 2012

Phew! The past two weeks have been crazy busy for me. It all started with this:


My mom and I packed as much of my stuff as we could into a mini van and a Rav 4, and started to drive south. We stopped overnight at my cousin’s house, where I went to a 5:00am bootcamp class that kicked my butt (more on that in another post). We trucked down I-95 a little more, and spent the night in Savannah, GA, before driving the final leg of the journey.

Finally, on Tuesday, I arrived!

Hooray! It was warm and sunny when we got here, which immediately put a smile on my face. I signed my lease and quickly started moving boxes into my new place. Boxes, boxes, and more boxes. Phew. It was exhausting. At least I was able to sleep in my new bed, which I had ordered the day before for delivery on my arrival day. Score!

The rest of my first week was kind of a blur, but included several trips to Ikea, hours checking out furniture at various stores, and my credit card begging for mercy. By Friday night, my bedroom and bathroom were mostly unpacked, but I had boxes and boxes of kitchen stuff that didn’t have a home in my tiny kitchen. Several of those boxes were serving quite nicely as a table for eating my meals, but I knew I needed the stuff in those boxes eventually! To be honest, I was a little sad that my kitchen was so tiny and didn’t have as much cabinet and counter space as I would have liked:

But, I finally had my own space to enjoy, which is really exciting! And, even more exciting was that Bill was coming to help me finish unpacking for the weekend!

To kill some time on Saturday morning before Bill arrived, I met up with Mary to go for my first long run of my marathon training. Meghann had put me in touch with Mary when I was searching for places in Tampa, so we exchanged many emails before actually meeting. Mary was SUPER helpful and so friendly, I was looking forward to meeting her in real life!

And, just like on email, she is incredibly friendly! She and her hubs took me on a mini running tour of Tampa. It was so fun, and made the run go by so fast! I’m looking forward to running with them again!

I got home, changed, and before I knew it, Bill had arrived!! He brought a box full of tools, his creative mind, and his keen spatial awareness. He was ready to help me get all moved in and settled!

And let me tell you, he helped me TREMENDOUSLY!!

Bill’s got a knack for organizing spaces and coming up with creative solutions to organize/store stuff, so he looked around my apartment, took inventory of all my stuff, and then we talked about what I wanted in my apartment. We made lists of things to buy and things we were going to make, and made trips to Lowes, Ikea (x2), Ross, and various other stores. We worked together to build furniture, put up shelves, unpack boxes, and create a space that was perfectly my new home.

Here’s a few highlights:

My wine glasses, stored above my wine cork board.

Just below my cork board are my spices, in a rack that Bill built. The spices are sitting on dowels in a wooden serving tray created from a wine crate! How perfect!

My pot lids, on a pulley system that Bill built. I can raise and lower them with just a pull of a string!

(There’s even a safety on it, in case the string accidentally slips out of my hand!)

And remember how I wasn’t super excited about my tiny kitchen? Check it out now:

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my kitchen now! Moving all of this stuff into my sweet pantry cleared up so much space in the cabinets and on the counters. I’ve got a cool wood theme going on, revolving around the cutting board Bill got me in Costa Rica. And, the big fork and spoon on the wall? Super cute!

Behind the kitchen, in what is supposed to be a breakfast nook, we decided to put in some bookcases.

The books sitting out on top of the shelves totally represent me. There’s the coffee table books from Chicago, Paris, and Atlantic City– each place holding a special place in my heart. My Flavor Bible and 1001 Foods to Taste Before You Die books capture my love of food. And there’s the Relentless Pursuit book, written by a fellow TFA alum. Now, I just need to get a DC book in there…

Speaking of things in my new space that are perfectly “me,” probably my favorite part of my new apartment is my tri wall:

Revolving around the awesome “Keep Calm and Tri On” print from my cousin (homemade and for sale!!), this wall is a place to showcase (and store) all of my race medals and numbers. This wall screams, “I am a triathlete,” and I love that! (And, I didn’t go out and buy four pairs of goggles, I already had them!)

Friends, please come visit! I love my new space, and I can’t thank Bill enough for all his help! He was definitely the mastermind behind it all! He’s amazing! ❤

Anyhow, after working all weekend to get my place into tip top shape, I turned around and got up bright and early and started my new job on Monday morning. After taking 3 weeks off to take a mini vacation and move, it’s been a little hard to get back into the routine of an early wake up and then sitting at a desk all day. But, I’ve survived week 1, and despite diving right into the thick of things, I’m looking forward to what lies ahead!

So far, I’m really enjoying Tampa. I really like my neighborhood, and my apartment couldn’t be better. Oh wait, it will get better when these two little furballs come to live with me!

🙂 🙂 🙂

(Stay tuned for more info on those cuties!)

I’m excited to start being more social when I’m fully settled, but it was great to go on a run with Mary, and I randomly ran into Courtney when I was running the other day!

So, life’s still a bit crazy, but so far, so good! Thanks for all your support friends!

Have a great weekend!

Distracted By Pretzels

21 06 2011

When I (Steph) was younger, cleaning my room was something I hated dreaded. I have certainly grown up and do keep a (somewhat) tidy room, but I often have to be in the mood to clean. Sometimes, I even get in a super duper clean out the closet, rearrange my space, deep cleanin’ kinda mood. (Anyone else ever have those times?) Well, a few weekends ago, I was in that kinda mood, and I rearranged my bedroom.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a before and after pic, so I’m not going to post any pics, but I’ll tell you that I’m very happy with how its organized now, and I’ve found some organization solutions for some of my clutter. However, one of my remaining problems is this:

I have a huge stack of magazines that I’ve saved, because “Maybe there’s an article I might want to read again“, or “Maybe there’s a recipe I want to try.” Excuses, Excuses. Let’s face it, there’s probably nothing in these magazines that isn’t online.

So, over the weekend, while it was cloudy and grey, I decided to start going through the pile that remained by my bed. Now, I probably should have just thrown them all out recycled them, but JUST TO BE SURE I wasn’t missing out on anything, I felt the need to go through them. Oh, and while I’m at it, I should probably go through the selection of Rachel Ray and Food Network magazines that I have neatly stored in my living room too.

Yes, I have kept A LOT of magazines.

In my defense, I’ve kept a few of the magazines because I do actually refer back to them, like the issue of Everyday that has that meatloaf recipe I really like, or the issue with those Christmas cookies that were a hit last year.  🙂 But, do I REALLY need the ENTIRE magazine that contains those recipes? Probably not.

So, I started weeding my way through the magazines, tearing out an article here and a recipe there. I was trying to keep it to a minimum people, I promise! The goal was to get rid of the magazines! Being that most of my magazines are food related, I was starting to get hungry spotting some really tasty recipes, including one that um, may have distracted me from my cleaning frenzy.

Maybe it was the gloomy weather, but when I flipped through the October-fest issue of Everyday and spotted the recipe for Giant Bavarian Pretzels, I decided I needed to make them. Right now.

Giant Bavarian Pretzels

adapted from Everyday


1.5 cups lukewarm water

2.25 teaspoons active dry yeast

4.5 cups flour (I used half all purpose and half whole wheat)

2 tablespoons brown sugar (Note: I was talking to my roommate while making these and accidentally put in a half cup of brown sugar…I scooped some out, and finished putting the remaining half cup of flour in…whoops)

2 teaspoons table salt

1 large egg, separate

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons baking soda

Coarse salt, for sprinkling

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar and table salt. Mix in the egg yolk, butter, and yeast mixture. The original recipe says to do this in a mixer fitted with a dough hook, and let it go on low speed for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

I decided that I wanted to mix this by hand. Bad idea. Kneading dough is HARD!! Especially after you’ve done an arm workout at the gym that morning!

Eventually, I got it to the place I thought it should be, and moved on.

4. In a large, shallow baking dish, combine the baking soda with 2 cups warm water.

5. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Using your hands, roll each into a rope about 42 inches long.

Note: I thought that this would be a cinch. I mean, I was a rockstar at rolling play-dough into spaghetti-like ropes. Maybe I hadn’t kneaded the dough enough in step 3, or maybe I’m just a poor roller, but I was unable to roll a 42 inch rope. I was able to get it to about 6 inches, and a picture of it is not appropriate for the blog. So, I changed technique, and let gravity help me. I held the dough vertically, and squished it into some semblance of a rope; however, 42 inches was impossible for me.

6. Dip the rope into the baking soda mixture for 30 seconds.

7. Twist your pretzel (or whatever shape you are making) and then place it on your prepared baking sheet.

8. Whisk a tablespoon of water into the egg white, and brush it on the pretzels. Sprinkle salt on top.

9. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

One more note- After my unsuccessful try at creating a long enough rope to twist a pretzel, I made a few smaller ones, and some circles that looked like bagels. I also experimented with putting some raisins in the dough, and topping with cinnamon sugar. Both adventures were successful, but I didn’t snap any photos.

Though I may not have finished cleaning/organizing my room, I did have a tasty treat to fill my tummy. I guess I’ll get back to that pile when another cleaning mood hits-but then I’ll probably get distracted and make something delicious in the kitchen…

Question of the day: What do you do with your old magazines?