Posts Tagged ‘pizza’

Window Seat: San Diego Babymoon, Day Two, 05.13.12

This post (along with all of the other San Diego posts that will follow) were actually written while in San Diego. I hope you enjoy this recap of our babymoon! Be warned – this is pretty photo heavy!

***

We got up REALLY early. Tina woke up at 5 a.m. I was up by a little after six. We are still apparently on Central time. We showered and headed down to the buffet by seven.

It was very good, and given that it was free, it was even better. It would have cost $22.95 each, and it would NOT have been worth that, but free… awesome. It had the standard breakfast buffet fare (photos coming on a future day’s post), but my favorite part… the fruit! I ate one plate of nothing but fruit. So freaking good.

And one photo of the view from our table…

We had nothing really planned for the day, so we decided today would be a good day to go to Joshua Tree National Park. It was a three hour drive away, but that was fun, too, because we saw some amazing landscapes that we just don’t have in Kentucky.

Tina and I were both especially impressed with all of the wind turbines. It reminded me a little of the truly awful movie M.A.C. and Me.

After driving for three hours, we stopped at a Carl’s, Jr. for a quick bite before we set off to go hiking. Most surprising to us was that it was in the high 60s in San Diego, but by the time we got to the high desert, it was around 100 degrees. Amazingly huge difference. (And we packed all wrong, thinking we’d be in hot weather all the time and not just far inland.)

We stopped at the Visitor Center, talked to a Ranger, and then headed into the actual park. It is largely a driving experience, but we got to stop several times to take photos and do a bit of exploring.

It was so beautiful; it was almost like being on an alien planet, because it just looked so different!

A nice shot of Tina and Moon Pie…

First tumbleweed we’d ever seen! (Other than the restaurant.)

I have no idea what I’m doing here.

Our rental car is the gray one beside the red car. This is a small parking area at the highest point in Joshua Tree.

And I get to cross an item off of my Bucket list, because we hiked in Joshua Tree National Park! (I want to visit all of the US’s National Parks.)

After leaving the park, we stopped at a small gift shop and bought our Joshua Tree Christmas Ornament. One of our travel traditions is to buy Christmas ornaments of the different places we visit.

They also had this very cool piano out back. We tried to play it. As you might expecting, a piano, outdoors in the elements, doesn’t sound so good. Looked cool, though.

And then, it was time for the LONG drive back to San Diego. We stopped a few times to stretch our legs and so forth, but eventually, we made it back.

On the way back, we stopped at Fillipa’s Pizza Grotto and ordered an all-white pizza (garlic, olive oil, mozzarella, and provolone) to eat in the hotel. Even though it was a bit cooled, it was DELICIOUS!

We’re currently in the hotel, full up on pizza and watching Bob’s Burgers. It’s 8:30 here (10:30 back home), but we’re wiped. It’s funny how driving in the car for what felt likes years can tire you out. But we’re back in the hotel, going to sleep soon, and tomorrow will be a fun, new day of our babymoon!

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Window Seat: Antigua Honeymoon, Day Six, 10.14.10

I used to run several blogs, one of which was called The Window Seat and provided detailed, photo-heavy posts about my travels. Well, I don’t travel much, so I decided to just save those posts here. Periodically for the next little bit, I’ll be sharing posts about my most recent travels. I still have some recaps of our Honeymoon back in 2010 to move here, and then I’ll share about our most recent trip to San Diego!

***

Today was a hot, burny, sandy, salty day. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t a bad day, but we are both EXHAUSTED. I’m so glad we have tomorrow to rest and recover and enjoy this resort before we leave.

We went to breakfast at Mario’s. No pictures this time. Our stuff, including my camera, was packed for the trip to Bird’s Island later that morning. We both ate pretty light; I didn’t want to get sick to my stomach on the catamaran trip.

I’m going to tell all about the trip before I put up the pictures, because I took SO many.

At 9:15, we were at the Caribbean Bar with a group of others waiting for various excursions. We were all doing either the Circumnavigation or Bird’s Island. By the time we boarded our boat, there were only five couples total. We were pleased to be in such a small group.

It was a forty-five minute boat ride to Bird’s Island. Gorgeous views. We also passed Oprah Winfrey’s house at one point.

We stopped at a passage between two islands and we were given the option to snorkel out. I asked if we could swim with just the goggles, and we were allowed to. Believe it or not – big mistake. The ocean kept pushing us back, and without fins, we just couldn’t swim fast enough.

As in Cancun, the water was too salty, and it kept gagging me. I have to be honest – I’m just not an ocean swimmer. Period. It was cool looking at the grass underwater, and I did see a Dory fish at one point, but the effort and gaggy-salt water just isn’t worth it to me. I must keep this in mind next time I come to the tropics.

The others in our group had already made it, so the captain of our catamaran came back in an inflatable dingy with a motorboat on the back. It was a little tough getting in from the water, especially after we were both so fatigued from the ocean, but he was a great sport and helped us in. The captain was a tremendously nice man. Tina could have completely made it on her own without me slowing her down, but I am just not that good of a swimmer.

The best part of the trip was this little beach we were on at Bird’s Island. The water was this beautiful blueish-green, and the sand was sparking white. While we were waiting for our actual beach barbecue to start, we just lounged around in the water. For lunch, we had some type of chicken, slaw, macaroni and cheese, and garlic bread. There were also some drinks out; I got what I thought was just Hawaiian punch but it was actually rum punch. Yikes; crazy strong, but fortunately, it didn’t hit me too hard since it was after lunch.

We then went on a short but steep, rocky hike to the summit of Bird’s Island. That was awesomely cool, and it was a nice challenge. At no point did I feel like I couldn’t make it, but it was definitely some 45 degree rocky inclines we had to scale. Fortunately, the path was small and there were good footholds and trees on each side to help pull us up. Looking back, it wasn’t really that tough at all, but was just a fun part of the excursion.

The view from the top was amazing. I’m glad we went, even if the trip was a little pricey and I HATE swimming in the ocean, if just for that gorgeous view we were rewarded with at the top. There were also two blowholes, which as near as I can tell, are simply holes in the rock that are really deep.

Sadly, we didn’t really see many birds. Tina and I did see a pelican get a fish out of the ocean on our swim in, but no birds on Bird’s Island. Did see a few lizards, though.

After enjoying the view for a few minutes longer, we made our way back down the same path we had climbed. It was tougher going down. And I must point out – our tour guide was barefoot! This was not a smooth path; it was covered in jagged, sharp rocks. I’m impressed at how tough his feet must be.

Upon reaching the beach, there was a little treasure hunt for us to take part in. It was over quite quickly, but one of the couples found the bottle of rum they had hidden. I’m truly okay not having won; I’m not touching alcohol for a while after we get back. I know I’ve gained weight here, and I’m ready to get it off of me.

We were then told we had about forty-five minutes to do whatever we’d like. A few of the couples in our group went snorkeling; Tina and I just lounged about in the shallow water on the beach, and I’m sure we contributed to our sun burn.

We went on a dingy ride back to the catamaran, boarded up the staircase from the water, and then it was an hour and a half ride back to Antigua. A few people onboard were jumping back into the water from the boat before we left; I’m neither a good enough swimmer nor energetic enough, at that point, to join them.

I forgot to take dramamine for the ride back, so I was a little nauseated by the time we got back. Fortunately, close to the beach, we were given some raisin rum cake, and it was warm and very tasty, and believe it or not, that actually helped.

Then, we were back on the beach. While I enjoyed the day, Tina and I were both SO ready to get back to the room, take a shower, and then nap for a few hours.

We were also hungry, though, so we grabbed some pizza from the pizzeria on the way back. After a shower and some aloe gel slathered all over our pink skin, we collapsed into bed and didn’t wake up for about two hours.

I told Tina that some time, we are going to take a resort trip with tons of cash and just do the spa, every day. Swimming excursions are no longer on my list of things to do. I’ve tried it twice, here in Antigua and last year in Cancun, and I’m just not a good enough swimmer for it to be enjoyable for me.

Lots and lots of pictures…

Oprah’s House…

And back to more pics…

The Bird Island’s Sign

And still more pictures…

The Caribbean side of Bird Island…

The Atlantic side of Bird Island…

And now back to more pictures…

As you can see from some of the above photos, we had a few jumpers off the boat after we had returned from our excursion on the island. I have no idea who these people are, but the jumping looked like fun, so I filmed it. Here’s a short clip on YouTube.

***

Mario’s has had the best service we’ve ever gotten here. It is Italian themed. Our hostess was named Spice, and she spent several moments with us, discussing our trip, before seating us. I really liked the hospitality.

Bread and something yummy (an unfamiliar version of pesto, maybe?) to dip it in…

They had an antipasti buffet. I got a few different types of salad, along with some fried calamari and roasted vegetables. I got some rigatoni with italian sausage, spinach, and mushrooms, which was delicious. For our entrees, Tina ordered grilled pork, which was served with polenta and vegetables. I got the chicken parmesan. Both were quite good.

Dessert, though, was the best dessert we’ve gotten here yet. We got them to go; I ordered a passion fruit mousse, and Tina got the lava cake and ice cream. Both were yummy, but again, Tina’s was better.

We just got some hot chocolate from the lobby. We’re just exhausted, so we’ll definitely be going to bed early tonight. Tomorrow is our last full day. We plan to spend it enjoying the pool, relaxing, and just enjoying each other’s company.

I’ll admit – while this has been great, I’m still ready to get home, eating right, exercising regularly, and getting back to regular life.

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Window Seat: Antigua Honeymoon, Day Five, 10.13.10

For those of you wondering why I randomly have a detailed post (that is VERY picture-heavy) of our honeymoon over 18 months ago, it is because I am slowly merging all of my blogs together. Some posts are just dying, but my honeymoon posts are too special for me to do that. So, if you are not interested in living vicariously through my visit to Antigua in 2010, feel free to come back later. But if you want to check out what we were doing on the 5th day of our honeymoon, please, read ahead!

***

Oh, we are getting so close to the end of the honeymoon! That is just entirely too sad. But we’re still having fun, and I’m going to enjoy the next three full days as much as I can.

We had our breakfast “in bed” this morning. Technically, we had ours on balcony, but it was still nice, getting to eat a very light (read: skimpy) continental breakfast as we looked at our ocean view. We’re still hungry, though, so we’re going out to Bayside to eat a bit more here very shortly.

Various views from our balcony, albeit some with a telephoto lens…

Today is going to be a big rest day. We’re saving the pool for later tonight, as Tina is pretty burnt, and we don’t want it to be worse before our excursion to Bird Island tomorrow.

***

A few pictures on our trek to our second breakfast…

Breakfast at Bayside was pretty standard for here. They did have some breakfast burritos, and Tina got some type of almond biscuit that she enjoyed.

The birds have been having a lot of fun with the toast that we left on the balcony after our breakfast. It’s no wonder that the birds here are so unafraid of humans. If I was a bird on Antigua, I’d probably hang out near Sandals, too.

The bird on our balcony…

And another bird at Bayside…

***

Tie dying shirts was so much fun! There were more couples doing it than I would have guessed, based on the low turnout at bracelet making. There were only two colors, green and a purplish-reddish-pink color. They gave us pretty minimal directions, with their philosophy being “Every mistake is a new work of art.”

Some of the shirt designs turned out pretty neat. Tina wasn’t that pleased with hers, but I thought it was awesome. The guys doing the dipping said they had never seen a shirt come out like hers, with one color on the front and one color on the back. I think that makes it uniquely cool.

I was hungry, Tina not so much, so we stopped at Bella Pizzeria to grab some pizzas. This time, we ordered a margherita (which here is basically a cheese pizza) and the Calabrese pizza with ground beef.

Waiting for pizza…

While we were waiting, I went to the bar and got us two Miami Vice. I also got a small bag of popcorn, in case the alcohol hit hard, as it often does here. I’m such a light weight.

And the pizza…

The light-headedness waited until I got back to the room, but yeah, it hit. I’m starting to not like alcohol. Why can’t they just serve frozen blended smoothies here? I’d sign up for that. But in between a few slices of pizza, I ate the popcorn, and a few minutes later, the iron-stomach-effect of the alcohol had worn off.

We’re going to rest for a bit before we head to Bayside for the Italian Buffet at lunch. We only had a few slices of pizza, but we’ll definitely eat it later. This will be my late night snack instead of Cricketer’s.

***

Pics from around the resort…

Time spent relaxing in a hammock…

Including a shot of Tina’s wedding rings…

And one of the many beach weddings taking place here…

And the bride’s flowers…

I don’t think the themed buffets at Bayside for lunch are executed exactly the way they are written. Today was supposed to be Italian, and while the food was quite good, I would not call it Italian in any way at all. There was the Panini station again, a salad bar, desserts, and some different meats, including a cajun beef stew that was really good and some type of chicken. Again, all good food, but not Italian.

While we were waiting for our room to be cleaned, we played a gigantic game of chess. Tina had never played before, so I taught her how. She ended up winning; I knocked my king over in a sign of defeat.

We’re heading to the pool in a few hours to watch the sunset, have a drink or two before the swim up bar closes, and swim ’til our 9:15 at Kimono’s.

***

Yeah, we only swam for about an hour, tops. Once the swim up bar closed down, the pool cleared out fast. We went down around 5:15 so we could get some pizza (we ended up eating our late night pizza after I recovered from a quick nap) and a few drinks. I drank a Chocolate Monkey and a Banana Sip Sop; Tina got a Chocolate Monkey, and she asked for something frozen and peachy. The bartender gave her something with blue curacao and lots of peachy frozen goodness in a martini glass. No pictures, because by the time we traversed across the pool to our chairs, it had already melted and was no longer as pretty.

We did enjoy swimming briefly in the pool after dark, which was still quite warm from the hot sun all day, and we also spent some time in the supremely hot whirlpool. We’re retiring to the room now to rest a bit before our reservation at Kimono’s.

***

Kimono’s was so much fun! It was teppanyaki style, and we were seated with four other couples, so in the interest of not being obnoxious with my camera (and the fact that the food presentation wasn’t as important as the show itself), there are basically no pictures.

Okay, a few, including one of beer, but no food…

We all ordered an appetizer. I got ahi tuna, which was crazy spicy, and Tina got tiger prawn shrimp cocktail, which was excellent! Shrimp everything here has been delicious. I must remember, from now on, if shrimp is an option, that’s what I’m getting. I also ordered a salad, which came with some type of fruit vinaigrette. The salad was just okay. Tina got miso soup, which she enjoyed (but I thought was too strong.)

The chef, who was a black Antiguan, told us he was Japanese and joked with us during the entire meal. It was a great evening. We were served salmon first, then shrimp, then steak, and then chicken. All were excellent, and each was a different sauce. My favorite? Can you guess? Shrimp.

Dessert for us was apple fritters, which were just okay.

One of the best parts of the evening was getting to sit with other couples and just talk. We met some very nice people (whose names we did not get) from Philadelphia and Boston. We were seriously there talking about just whatever until 11:30. It was a great night.

Bird’s Island tomorrow! I can’t wait!

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2012 Resolutions

I like New Years’ Resolutions. I always have liked them. Granted, the ones I’ve stuck to have been rare, but it’s a tradition. Every year, I make some, and I try to follow through on as many as I can.

Last year, I had a plan (which petered out in April) to follow up on my resolutions every month. I’m going to try that again this year. One difference between my 2011 and 2012 resolutions, however, is that I am going to try and make this year’s resolutions less number specific.

1. I am going to weigh less each month.

Last year, I gave a specific number I wanted to lose. Well, guess what. It didn’t work, and I finished the year weighing more than I did in January. I’m certainly not blaming that on the resolution. It was all my fault. My weight loss, for a variety of reasons, did not take priority in 2011.

I know that I will not reach goal weight in 2012. I have too much weight to lose. However, I want to make a dent in in it. Each month, I pledge to weigh less than I did the month before.

2. I am going to continue to eat clean.

My wife and I have been following our own version of “eating clean.” We are basically following an 90% clean / 10% not-clean approach, primarily because buying food that is 100% chemical, white flour, and white sugar-free is prohibitively expensive. Yes, eating healthy can be pricey, but we’ve found that lightening up JUST A BIT makes it affordable for us.

I’ll post about this in more detail in early January, but we’ve been doing it for a week, and the results have already been amazing. We’ve seen our weight drop (I’ve already lost what I gained in Vegas), we have tons of energy, and my physical cravings for junk food has been reduced to the lowest level I can EVER remember it being.

3. I am going to significantly increase my fitness without a gym membership.

As Tina and I are still paying off credit card debt, student loan debt, car payments, and a mortgage, we try to save money where we can. We’re not crazy savers. We don’t do extreme couponing (for the simple fact that you can’t buy healthy food with coupons) and we don’t deprive ourselves (we did just get back from Vegas, paid for by smartly saving money and finding amazing travel deals), but we do want to save money. We want to get out of the neighborhood we currently live in, sell this house, and buy a nicer, bigger house with land out in the country. Our goal is to do that in the next two years.

As a result, we realized we’ve been paying a healthy chunk of money toward gym memberships, and frankly, I honestly no longer believe it is necessary. I only have to look at people like Steve Kamb at Nerd Fitness who maintained a very high level of fitness while climbing. I look at the military, who certainly don’t work out in gyms (at least in Basic), and I don’t think anybody would deny that they are crazy fit. It can be done without a gym, and we are going to do it.

Yes, I am aware that saying I am going to significantly increase my fitness is purposefully vague. However, here is my list of the things I plan to be able to do when I am writing up my 2013 resolutions in a year.

I want to be able to do 100 regular push –ups (no knees, in other words) without stopping.
I want to be able to do 200 squats without stopping.
I want to be able to do an all-day hike at Mammoth Cave National Park this fall.

I desperately want to include a running goal, but my body has shown me that I MUST be lighter before I can begin running or even jogging. However, I can hike. Mammoth Cave National Park (less than thirty minutes away) has many all-day hiking trails. I don’t know which one I’ll do. I’m thinking Sal Hollow, which is eleven miles. It’s designated as advanced terrain, but I’ve known people who have done it who said that it is designated as advanced because you have to cross a few creeks. I grew up on a farm with a creek that runs through it. Creeks are no problem.

4. On my food blog, I am going to create a different pizza each week for my 52 Weeks of Pizza Project.

I don’t talk about it much here because I don’t post there as often as I’d like (although now that Tina and I are eating clean and cooking much more, I expect to post more often), but I also have a new food blog called Stellar Eats.

We LOVE pizza, and fortunately, it is a very versatile food that can be eaten clean. While in Las Vegas, we were at a shop that had a cookbook all about pizzas. I didn’t get it, but it did make me decide to do this. For the next year, we are going to cook a different pizza every week. Each pizza will be chemical and preservative free and 100% real food. I’ll post the links to the pizzas here on my main blog, too, but I’m really excited about this one. We love pizza and we love cooking. Win win.

5. I am going to obtain my ACE Personal Fitness Certification this year.

Last year, I failed by seven points. I have until August to retake the examination for a reduce fee. Even though I am completing the coursework for my second Master’s Degree, I am also going to take time each week to study for this exam, too. By fall, I will be a certified Personal Trainer.

6. I am going to write at least 10,000 words of fiction per month.

I love to write, but I seldom take the time to do it. I’ve got a young adult novel I am working on, and I want to finish it this year. I don’t know if I’ll look for an agent or self-publish or just enjoy it because it’s done, but regardless, I want to finish this year.

That’s it. A very short list for 2012. I’m certainly going to accomplish other things, but this is what I want to make happen.

Did you make resolutions?

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Guest Post: Healthy Homemade Pizza Crust

I asked my lovely wife, Tina, to do a guest post for me on this amazing pizza crust she makes for us. Just by virtue of it being homemade, I know it’s going to be healthier than a store bought (or delivery) pizza, and we make a few substitutions that make it healthier yet. (And of course – always everything in moderation.) Let me turn it over to Tina!

Hi ya’ll! Tina from Martha Wannabe here, aka Jeremy’s wife. I believe Jeremy has mentioned something about our homemade pizza Fridays; it’s a favorite in our house. I found a website called Perfect Planner Meals; there aren’t a great deal of recipes on there, as this is fairly new I believe, but the recipes I’ve tried have been great! Today I’m going to share with you the recipe of pizza dough, which was made with half white flour half wheat flour; it came out really nice! We’ve also had this dough made with all white flour, also excellent! It takes a little bit of time, but little effort… unless you have to knead by hand.

First, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar; this sits for about 5 minutes until it gets foamy.

Then comes the time consuming part; we add in half the flour, ½ cup oil, salt, and spices. There are no specific spices in the ingredients; just use whatever you want. I use about a tablespoon or so of basil, oregano, generic Italian spice, and garlic powder, whatever floats your boat; it can be trial and error for you! Mix that up until it’s smooth. I switch out the paddle for the dough hook at this point — much easier this way. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour ¼ cup at a time until incorporated; the dough should still be slightly tacky.

Hand knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth. In a medium sized bowl, add one tablespoon of oil and swirl around the bottom and sides. Add the dough and turn until fully coated in oil. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for 1 – 1 ½ hours or until double in size. This will make 2 crusts or 1 gigantic thick crust.

Tonight when I looked up the dough recipe, she had put up a new recipe for Pizza Bites. Start by spraying a muffin pans with nonstick spray, and then take the prepared dough, pinch off a small amount and press into the muffin pan, on the bottom and up the sides. Put in a spoonful of sauce and whatever toppings you want; we used spinach, beef, and mushrooms, and then added a little bit of cheese on top. Put in a 350º oven and bake for approximately 12 minutes; I think ours took about 15 minutes. It just depends on your oven! They were delicious and a nice change from the normal pizza. If you made just regular dough with no spices, you could fill this with some fruit and nuts, or chocolate and make a delicious dessert… now I wish I hadn’t put all the spices in mine!

The sauce I use is a recipe from this site as well; it’s delicious. Just don’t let your husband put entirely too much salt in it *ahem* even being too salty for my taste, the sauce was delicious, and it makes a ton. We’ve used it 3 times now and still have a lot left.

Enjoy your week! Happy pizzaing!

The actual recipes are below.

Deep Dish Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
Spices

Preparation:

In a large mixer bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar and stir to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 2 cups of the flour, 1/2 cup oil, and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, along with herbs and garlic (I use basil, oregano, thyme, and garlic powder–just small palm-fulls of each.) 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated but the dough is srill slightly sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky., 3-5 minutes. Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 2 tsp. oil.
Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with a towel and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Divide into 2 equal portions and it’s ready to use!

Pizza Bites

Added toppings:
Mini pepperoni bites
Ground Italian sausage, sweet or hot, depends on you taste. I used spicy in my recipe. Brown the Italian sausage before assembling.
Hand shredded mozzarella. About 3 cups.
Assembly:
Spray a mini muffin tin with a non-stick spray. Tear off a small piece of dough, roll in the palm of your hand and stretch to line the muffin tin up to the lip, creating the shape of the muffin. Add about a tsp. of pizza sauce, Italian sausage, a small dollop of cheese and the tiny pepperoni.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 12 minutes until golden brown. Pop out of the tins, place on platter and watch them disappear!

Old World Style Pizza Sauce:
Ingredients:
6 ounces tomato paste
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 can tomato sauce (29 ounces)
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. rosemary
1-3 tsp. dried red pepper flakes–to taste
2 cups water
salt to taste

Directions:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir the tomato paste and olive oil together, then stir in the tomato sauce.
Add all of the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered for 3 hours, stirring frequently. Add water if sauce gets too thick, but it should reduce down to a thick paste that has enough body to cover a pizza.
Makes 3 cups, enough for 2-3 pizzas

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12-31-13 - 412.0
1-3-14 - 407.0 (-5.0 pounds total)