Yesterday I was throwing together various ingredients from my kitchen to make dinner, and it turned out so amazingly well that I just had to share! Here’s what you will need: portabella mushrooms, zucchini, fresh basil, any sort of small pasta (not fettucine, linguine, etc.), Italian salad dressing, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

My dad makes these amazing marinated portabella mushrooms on the grill in the summer time, and I was craving them the other day. I cut the stem off of three portabella mushrooms and put them in a plastic Ziplock bag with about a half of a cup of Italian salad dressing.  I used Newman’s Own Light Italian, but you could use any sort of vinegar-based dressing (needs the acid for the marinade). Then I just stuck them in my refrigerator! I actually left them there for over three days…oops. Originally I was planning on just cooking them in a sauté pan like you would a hamburger patty, but by the time the weekend rolled around, I had some produce I needed to use up.

So I diced up a zucchini, and sautéed it in olive oil and some ground black pepper. Then I took out the marinated mushrooms and diced them into bit-sized chunks. Actually, they were a little bit bigger than they could have been, but oh well!  I added everything to the sauté pan.



I also had a half of a bag of whole wheat chiocciole pasta to use up.



I also had some fresh basil that was getting a little wilty, so I sliced up the remainder of that.



Then I mixed the vegetable mixture together with the noodles, added some garlic powder and black pepper and the basil.  It turned out so good! I think because I marinated the mushrooms for so long, they had a really strong flavor (in a good way), so the rest of the dish didn’t need really a lot of other  ingredients. Although I do think that some feta cheese crumbles might be a nice addition! (But mainly because I think that almost all dishes taste better with cheese…)






Hi guys! Just wanted to let everyone know that I have been feeling a little under the weather lately – must be this -20°F weather! I think my body is still adjusting to the cold temperatures. But anyway, between work, the sniffles, and post-work exhaustion, I’ve been a little behind on updating my blog. I will hopefully have a new post with updates for you all in the next day or two, though.

Hope everyone is having a great week so far, and staying safe in the crazy weather we’ve all been having! (With the exception of my Washington friends, where – my dad told me – it has been sunny and beautiful for the past three days. Jealous!)

More coming soon. : )





The other day I came home from work and there was a package waiting for me on my doorstep. It was from my dad’s girlfriend, Carolyn.

(Me with my dad and Carolyn.)


I opened it up, and it was a box full of little Ziplock baggies. There was a note on top – the first part read, “I hope this box doesn’t smell like curry!” What in the heck?



She had sent me nine different kinds of spices!  This one, below, was garlic powder. Yum…I love garlic. No vampires around me! (Also, I stuck my finger in the package and tasted it, and it was the world’s best garlic powder!)



There were also a bunch of these cute jars!



And different baggies of spices. When I called to thank her, she told me that you can buy spices in bulk bins, which I had never known and which apparently are much cheaper than those little glass jars of spices (which are so expensive!).



There was cumin, curry powder, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, bay leaves, chile powder, and an Italian herb blend.



I really like the jars! The top can flip open from both sides, one side with little tiny holes and the other side with a wider lip.



Of course, I wasted no time filling them up!



She also sent little labels to stick on them, but – as crazy as this is – I don’t actually have a writing implement in my house right now. No pens or pencils. But luckily I’ve been cooking for so long I can smell the apart. I mean, tell. ; )



This gift could not have come at a better time. Carolyn knows I love to cook, and haven’t been able to do as much of my own cooking as I would like, since I am working with limited supplies here at the moment. Moving is so expensive, not just because of the big ticket items (moving truck, car shipment) which my dad has very kindly help me out with, but also because of all of hundreds of little tiny items that come with starting over in a new place. Stocking up on toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies, for example! Sponges, dish soap, garbage bags…you name it. All of those household things alone aren’t expensive – but having to buy them all at once is. Restocking your fridge is the same way- those nine jars of different vinegars add up when purchased all together! And spices, which can turn the same five vegetables from a fisherman’s stew to a spicy curry, are some of the more expensive kitchen ingredients, so I really appreciated her gift.


Today on my way home from work, I stopped and bought – literally – one of every vegetable in the grocery store.  (As I was checking out, the cashier said, “Wow that’s a lot of healthy food.” Ha!)  I’ve been eating so much junk lately, it’s depressing.  And disgusting. We’re talking cheese quesadillas, fried potato wedges, someone’s birthday cake at the office…it’s gotten out of control. So I made a vegetable soup that included: carrots, celery, zucchini, red Swiss chard, potatoes, a can of diced tomatos, a can of Great Northern beans, white onion, garlic, vegetable broth, a handful of fresh basil and cilantro, and then garlic powder, chile powder, and a pinch of curry powder, with salt and pepper to taste. No vinegar…I literally had to physically restrain myself but I thought adding vinegar to curry might take it too far. It turned out so good, and very different from what I usually make. It’s almost smokey tasting.  So I packaged it all up and it is ready to go for lunch tomorrow and this weekend.



Thank you again, Carolyn! : )

P.S. These photographs were taken with the new camera lens my dad bought me for Christmas – completely untouched, because my Photoshop isn’t working! Doesn’t it do an amazing job? I haven’t had as much time to play with it as I’d like – but soon!




A Brief Update


Well, as I still don’t have any of my belongings (or my car) here in Helena, this is only going to a short up-date post. Plus, I’m so tired lately…probably from going to bed late, waking up at 6 a.m. every morning, and eating way too much food that is bad for me.

Anyway, there are so many differences between Helena and Miami – even Helena and Olympia (my hometown). The people here are so friendly. So friendly, in fact, that it is almost difficult to get anything done because it is impossible not to get sucked in to chatting! When I bought my new couches off Craigslist from an older couple, I went out to look at the couches before picking them up, and wound up talking with them for over a half an hour. They, too, were transplants (from Myrtle Beach), but they were retirees and were relocating to be closer to their kids.

While meeting with my State Farm representative, we spent about five minutes going over my policy and about twenty chatting about Helena, Miami, and Washington (the State Farm regional headquarters if located in Dupont, Washington, so my agent had been there and we were reminiscing over Farrelli’s Pizza, an amazing restaurant there). Today, I stopped by my new bank to pick up a paper that the banker had forgotten to give me yesterday while I was there setting up an account, and the teller said, “Well, hey, Kate!” when I walked in the door.  (Oh yes…did I mention that there are no Bank of Americas within the state of Montana? So I now have three different checking accounts in three different banks…in three different states. Yay! Can’t wait to consolidate.)

After living in a place like Miami, where people are much to busy (or “cool”) to speak to you in passing, or if they do speak to you, there is a high probability that they do not speak your language, living here feels like living in Happy Town. Even in my office, every single person is just plain nice. There is no other word for it. My boss is constantly telling me how much she appreciates my work and thanking me for coming to work there. She was at a conference in Great Falls today, and emailed me that she was telling everyone how excited they were to “have me on board.”  Yesterday, a woman that I hadn’t met yet (she had been out of town last week) stopped by my desk just to tell me that everyone was just so happy to have me there.  It is such a warm and stimulating environment to work in – I could not have gotten luckier.

I am one of those people who tends to absorb the atmosphere around me – if I am surrounded by negative energy, I find myself in bad moods all the time, angry and pessimistic. When I am surrounded by positive energy, I find it so easy to be motivated and creative and simply happy. I think everyone is this way, to some extent. But this environment really brings out the best in me, I think. Although I do not work within their program, the offices of a couple of the directors who work with curriculum are across the hallway from me, and I overhear their conversations frequently; it is so wonderful to be around people who are so enthusiastic about what they do. The energy here is so positive. I love coming to work in the morning!

As for everything else outside of work…things are slowly falling into place. Well, as much as they can without any of my things here! But I set up a bank account, got my insurance policy transferred, built my bookshelves and dining room table, got some couches…things are coming along slowly. Although I still wake up disoriented every morning, wondering where I am! (I figured out the other day that I have slept in eleven different beds/couches, in three different states, over the course of the past two months.)

Anyway, I will have more updates on my job this weekend, hopefully! I also hope to – at some point! – set up a new blog for my Montana adventures. Goodness knows I’m not exactly living on a beach, anymore! Thanks to everyone for all your support during this crazy time. : )

P.S. Another difference – gambling is legal here in Montana. There are casinos literally every other building here. I’ve never seen so many casinos in all my life. There are casino chains. It’s very odd.

P.P.S. Another good thing about my job is that, because I have to get up so early, I get to see sunrises again! In Miami, I always saw the sunsets when I got home from work. Here, I always see the sunrises (like that picture above) on my way too work. Sunrises instead of sunsets. Is there something symbolic in that?


Happy Monday!

I took these pictures the other morning on my way to work. (Yes, at this job I have to wake up early enough to see the sun rise – ha!) I had the curtains closed so I didn’t notice the pink cast of the sky until I opened the front door. Of course, I went back for my camera and snapped a few pictures before getting in my car.

At first, I only saw this: (the view from my deck on the second floor)



Then, as I went down the stairs to my car, which I had parked on the street, the view got better and better!



The sky was such an unnatural shade of pink/gold that it gave everything in the neighborhood a pink-tinged hue.



You can really see this in the following photograph. Those houses below are actually painted a light greyish-tan color – but the sky turned them pink! (And yes, that is the moon hanging low in the sky beneath those pink clouds.)



It makes it so much easier to start a day when it looks like this, doesn’t it?




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“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. “

- John Burroughs




This morning, I was able to eat my breakfast at a table. While sitting in a chair.


It’s the little things in life, I tell ya.


The process of getting the table to my apartment and set up was one of the more, ahem, challenging situations I’ve found myself in for a while – I’ll fill you in later this weekend. More pictures of the table to come when the rest of the chairs arrive! I’m (using the word loosely here) also picking up my couches tomorrow – there was a rainstorm today so I wasn’t able to get them. Cross your fingers that it goes well tomorrow!




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