Friday, January 31, 2014

High Five For Friday 01/31 + Link-up Announcement

This week was my first full week subbing. I really love it and it is definitely one of the best jobs I've ever had. I feel like I get lots of the perks of teaching, such as interacting with the students and teaching the lessons, without having to deal with the stressful stuff. Of course, I can't wait to have my own classroom, but this job has been perfect for me right now. I also love having a routine. Thursday I subbed all day, drove an hour to my English class, taught for 2 hours, then sat in traffic for 2 hours home, which got me home at 8, then I cooked dinner. It reminded me of my hectic college years and I kind of enjoyed it. I am definitely the type of person who likes to be extremely busy. That being said, I have forgotten how I balanced things back then, which means the blog got slightly neglected this week. How do all of you with full-time jobs keep up with your blog?? Please share!

While we are on the subject of blogging, I wanted to announce the What's In A Name link-up I will be hosting next week! As I was writing a post about the meaning behind the name Bell Bliss, I started to get curious about the meaning behind the name of all of the blogs I love. I thought it would be fun to read about how everyones' blog name came about. So write a post about the name of your blog and come back next Wednesday, February 5th, to link-up. Even if there isn't some exciting story behind your blog name, I would still love to hear your inspiration. I can't wait to read all of your posts!

Have I mentioned how much I love the food in Okinawa?? It's not just the typical Japanese like ramen and sushi(which I love), but the food at the little cafes is amazing too! I went to lunch with a friend at our very favorite place, Transit Cafe. It is hard to find good salads at the restaurants here, but this cafe has one. Of course before we eat our salads we always get the cheese fondue. And it's pretty much the most amazing thing I've ever put in my mouth. Cheese is my favorite food group(yes, food group), so I have dreams about this fondue.

The other night I went to dinner with some girls at a curry place, A-Danny. I had been wanting to go to one because I heard the curry in Okinawa is fabulous, but Jake hates curry so I haven't really had the opportunity. I fell in LOVE with the curry restaurant we went to. It was hands down my favorite meal since moving to Okinawa. The cheese naan was so great dipped in the spinach and chicken curry. I would eat there every single day if I could!

I know that those people experiencing the polar vortex, so basically everyone except those in Cali, are not going to want to hear this next one. The weather here this week has been absolutely incredible. The perfect temperature, sunny, and not humid at all. I wish it could stay like this all year long. Jake got home before sunset one night this week, which was the first time that has happened in months, so we took advantage of it and headed to the beach. It was a beautiful night and reminded me how simple and perfect life is on this little island. Lexie decided to dig holes in the sand, which she has never done before, so we are now scared there is a dead body or something buried at our beach. Or maybe it was just a sea creature burrowing, but that's not as interesting. 

Since the weather was so great, I also decided to show my friend the little beach we always go to. She appreciated the beauty just as much as I do. It was fun searching for shells and sea glass and talking about how beautiful Okinawa is. I will never get used to the amazing colors of the water. We both decided we hope we never take this place or this opportunity for granted.

Today we also discovered a new grocery store! It is so nice to have the commissary with all of the American products, but it is also nice to have the local markets with all of the awesome fresh food. I have been getting all local produce and it has been so fresh and tasty. The chicken is some of the best I have ever tasted. They have higher standards of meat here, which I appreciate, even if they do eat weird parts of the animal. I also got fresh shrimp and fish to cook for super cheap! Joys of living on an island. Jake's favorite is the to-go sushi trays, way fresher than the ones you find at the grocery store in the states!

We hadn't plugged our TV in since we moved here almost 5 months ago (wow, cannot believe we have already been here that long). That doesn't not mean we haven't watched anything, since we our on our iPads and computers nightly watching all of our shows. It has been nice not having the TV be the center of our living room, but we decided we missed the nights where we sit together on the couch and watch a show together. Since cable is not an option for us in our off-base house, we decided to get an apple TV. Best $100 investment ever. We can watch Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and so much more. We can also play anything from our iPhones, iPads, or computers wirelessly on our TV. The other day I got to watch the UK basketball game on our TV and it was beautiful! We are slowly learning the ins and outs of life in another country. 

I definitely appreciate the weekend a lot more again now that I am working almost full time. Most people here have Monday off since the Super Bowl is on Monday morning. We are still learning all of the little adjustments we have to make in this new country, such as the Super Bowl not being on "Super Bowl Sunday." Each day here definitely brings a new experience. Happy weekend everyone!

Linking up with LaurenDarciRebeccaCasey, and Jennie

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Temples around Chiang Mai, Thailand

After we spent a relaxing 4 days in Koh Samui, we flew(from the cutest and smallest airport ever) to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Chiang Mai was what I was most excited for on this trip. I had heard that it is a wonderfully cultural place. It certainly did not disappoint. We immediately fell in love with the slower pace of life in Old Town. Our little hotel was not luxury like our resort, but it was clean and comfortable and we didn't plan on spending much time in our room. As soon as we checked in, we changed and decided to walk around Old Town. Old Town is the less busy part of Chiang Mai, surrounded by an ancient wall and a moat. Yep, a moat. It was so exciting to turn the corner and find one beautiful temple after another. We spent the entire afternoon finding the old, extravagant temples. It is so interesting to me because you don't find anything like it in the states.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Nago Cherry Blossom Festival

I had been looking forward to the Cherry Blossom Festival since we got to the island. We went to the festival in DC last year and we were a little late to see the cherry blossoms in bloom. I had heard that the blossoms are one of the best things to see while on the island. I also love Okinawan festivals with the street food, games, and performances. The festival was great, even though I don't think the street food is as good as the street food in Thailand. I was somewhat disappointed with the cherry blossoms. I thought they had already bloomed and started falling, but I think that maybe they weren't all bloomed yet. We climbed up a million stairs to the top of the hill. We were so hot and sweaty, but the view of the island with the blossoms was so worth it. Hopefully we can get up North again in the next few weeks to see the blossoms in full bloom. 

Linking up with Leeann and Kimberlee

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quinoa Pasta Greek Yogurt Chicken Mac and Cheese

This is by far the best healthy meal I have ever made/created. Most of the time, my cooking goes something like this: see an inspiration, collect what ingredients I have, throw stuff in, hope it tastes good. I like to experiment and I don't follow recipes very often. When you know what kinds of things taste well together and what adds flavor, you can change recipes to fit your needs. A lot of times I don't have all of the ingredients and I want to make it healthier, so I improvise and experiment. Luckily, my food usually turns out pretty great.

This recipe is so great because it combines health with comfort food. I really love eating healthy, but sometimes we all need a bit of comfort food. With this recipe, you can feel the comfort without feeling guilty.

You can use regular pasta for this dish if quinoa pasta isn't your thing, but I think the quinoa pasta elbows are so good. I use the Ancient Harvest brand, which most grocery stores carry.

Quinoa Pasta Greek Yogurt Chicken Mac and Cheese

Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 cups chicken
1/2 onion
8 oz elbow quinoa pasta (1 box)
2 handfuls spinach
4 oz plain greek yogurt
8 oz 2% shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
Lawrys garlic salt

1. Cook quinoa pasta as directed and drain
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat
3. Place cubed chicken in skillet and season with salt, pepper, and garlic salt
4. After chicken is browned, add diced onion (you can add more olive oil if needed)
5. After chicken is cooked and onions are translucent (around 10 minutes), add two handful of washed spinach and cook until wilted
6. Add cooked pasta to the skillet
7.Add all of the cheese straight to the skillet and stir
8. Once the cheese is mostly melted, add the greek yogurt and stir
9. Add extra salt and pepper if needed

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!!