Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pavlov's dog.

A couple weeks ago, Bryan, Heidi, and I ordered a 12 pack of cheetos for $11 from Amazon. Really - it was a deal we couldn't resist.

The cheeto's came yesterday. I popped the top (they are in a cannister) and was shocked to find...

I salivated.

Yes, my mouth actually watered for cheetos.

I really worry what will happen when I finally return home and sit down at a Mexican restaurant. I may visibly drool for cheese dip. I ask early forgiveness if you are privy to the 1st Mexican meal upon my return to the US next year.

This weekend I went hunting with Will for his birthday. It was a last minute decision, but I'm so glad it worked out. We went with Beth and Adam. While the guys hunted during the day, Beth and I lounged around the camp, which was actually really nice. We laid in the pool, played with kittens and puppies, read our books, went for walks, watched E! tv (a true treat for those without cable TV), and made scrumptious meals. It was incredibly relaxing and very peaceful. Adam got an impala and Will shot another wildebeest so it looks like more wildebeest enchiladas and sloppy joes in the future.

I still haven't found my camera - have you?

Last night I decided to make this for dinner. I love chicken parm. Its fair to say I adore it. Yum. Its a fave. However, I've always hated making it as it takes too many steps, pans, and ingredients. Without fail, I always slop egg wash onto the floor, get flour all over the place, and make a huge icky mess of bread crumbs and chicken. Then it always tastes too bread crumb-y (or burnt) and the sauce? Forget it. Too much work, too much frustration... I'll just make spaghetti with meat sauce instead.

But this?

This recipe is the answer to all my problems. It cooks in one dish - one! No gooey egg wash, no bread crumbs, just simple boneless skinless chicken breast dredged lightly in flour and cooked in a skillet. No tasteless yucky tomato sauce - instead, a flavorful, garlic-ky tomato sauce for the little chickens to rest in. And melting cheese on the chicken in the pan using the lid and skipping the oven? Brilliant. Perhaps one of the best parts was that I didn't even heat up my kitchen with the oven - this was all cooked right on the stove!

It was such an easy weeknight dinner that earned, "Oh wow, this is really really good" comment from the hubs. It heated up awesome for lunch today too - yay!

If I haven't said it before, I'll say it again: I'm a fan of Pioneer Woman.

I head out to Swaziland early tomorrow morning and am looking forward to adding another country to my list of places I've been in 2009 (South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Ireland, Britain)! So far, 10 countries in 2009! But I'll be adding Swaziland, Lesotho, and Mozambique before the year runs out... 13 different countries in one year (not counting layovers where I spent money - that would also count Kenya and Germany) - I don't think I'll ever top that record! The only bummer is that I won't have internet or a camera the entire time I'm there. Oh well! I have a feeling Will and I will head to Swazi one weekend just for fun.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


THIS is what I found on my dryer this morning!

Its official. I live in Africa.

This scary critter is what's known as a baboon spider. This was the inspiration for the spider in Lord of the Rings. Seriously. Tolkien was scared too.

I screamed so loud when I saw this spider that Will thought there was a dead body in our garage.

Happy birthday Will! Your wife is screaming bloody murder in the garage and you now have the responsibility of ridding your casa of this hairy beast. What a gift.

Dear Lord, please don't let me find one of these massive, hairy (and yet non-venomous) critters inside my house. ..

Monday, October 12, 2009


I'm swimming again. I don't know what has brought on my sudden surge of swimming, but I am.

For those of you who don't know, I spent most of my childhood in a pool. Sometimes I was in the pool to teach swim lessons, to life guard, or to just simply have fun with friends. But a good 95% of my time in a pool has been as a competitive swimmer. I swam summers on my neighborhood team with the best coach ever. I spent a couple years swimming year-round on a competitive team when it didn't conflict with basketball. And, of course, I swam for my high school swim team, lettered, and then eventually became captain of the team my senior year.

FACT: I was CONVINCED that we kept sharks in the deep end of the pool when I was really young and starting out (5-6 years old). The lanes of our pool were half shallow and half deep end so any time I had to swim in the deep end, I sprinted for dear life as I was sure I was going to get eaten by our team's mascot that only lived in the depths of the pool. I eventually realized that sharks don't live in chlorine!

Needless to say, swimming was my life. Unfortunately, in my senior year of high school, I sustained a serious injury to both of my shoulders. Given the choice of undergoing incredibly invasive corrective surgery that may not ever solve the problem or pain or simply stopping swimming, I stopped. The pain was unbearable - it hurt to drive, it hurt to sleep, it hurt to do any physical activity period. I knew that I had to stop in order to get better. It was, to that point, the worst thing that ever happened to me. Of course, stopping swimming meant that I could sing more (swim meets always conflicted with musicals, shows, etc.) so I threw myself into singing and pursued that into college instead.

I didn't swim for exercise until about two years ago when I joined a gym in Atlanta that had a pool. It was weird, the pool was hot, and I didn't keep it up. Plain and simple.

Now I live in Africa and belong to an incredibly nice gym with a pool that uses salt water (blech) instead of chlorine. They keep the pool cool and on a 90+ degree day, I can think of no better exercise than going to swim.

The pool is large with 6 25 yd. lanes. This means I have yet to share a lane when swimming - yay! Swimmers range from every ability - a woman next to me yesterday verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry slowly treaded water from one end of the pool to the other, all the while keeping her head out of the water. Most people swim at a slow pace, don't do flip turns, and usually only do freestyle (i.e. the crawl). In contrast, I swim all the strokes, always do flip turns (its ingrained in me the same way that boxing out when someone shoots a basketball is), and move a lot faster, without really trying.

While I swim, Will is usually somewhere watching me from a treadmill or the weights and he says he laughs as he sees me plow through the water just to swim faster than the guy a couple lanes down from me.

So I'm competitive. Its never gone away.

The thing about swimming is... I've missed it. Its comfortable to me. It really doesn't feel like exercise until I hoist myself out of the pool on arms that feel like spaghetti noodles. I can swim for 30 minutes and I just get to think about things. If I do breast stroke, I even hear the music playing in the gym, which is somewhat nice. Otherwise, its just relaxing and peaceful. Because I have a short attention span, most times I wind up swimming against the clock to give me something to do.

When you train as a swimmer, you'll have a minute clock on both ends of the pool. The dials are huge so you can easily see the minute hand tick by - the arm is black one end and red on the other so you can keep track of the time. Most often I sprint against the clock. I'll swim 8-10 laps, stop, wait for the clock to reach 60, and then push off, swimming as fast as I can to see what time I make it in. I have yet to enjoy the time I see on the clock - its about 20 seconds faster than what I used to swim. So this is what I do for at least thirty minutes - swim 8-10 laps at a moderately fast pace, then swim a 2 lap sprint (50 yds) as fast as I can, rest, swim 8-10 laps, sprint, rest.

I've decided that I miss having a kick board and a pull buoy, two things I never thought I'd miss. I really really REALLY miss my awesome purple speedo goggles - the ones I have with me fog up too fast. I'm really pleased that I wear a USA swim cap when I swim - just because I love swim caps with writing on them.

As I swim, my mind wanders... if I read a magazine article on the amount of calories you burn while swimming, would I be burning what the article says... or would the slow people moving along be burning that amount? Is there a website where I can get ideas for a swim plan so I'm doing more than swimming against the clock (my old coach has one here!)? What's better post-swim: steam room or sauna? etc. etc. etc.

Anyway, I'm happy, my arms are getting toned, and Lord knows while I'm not nearly as fast as I used to be (or as small), I'm happy to be in the pool again, pain-free.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hope is the answer.

I still haven't found my camera. sigh. And our computer mysteriously crashed and I have to buy a new hard drive. And rebuild iTunes. For me and Will. siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggh.

Its just not a good time to be an electronic device and living in the Nagli casa. I'm sweet talking my 5 year old iPod as I type this because I'm sure its going to die a slow death soon.

Maria's Orphanage Update!
We have a name: Karabo Asara!

This means "hope is the answer."

And answer we have! To date, we've raised over $4,000!!! Heck yes! Unfortunately, Heidi's computer also crashed so we are waiting to get it up and working again to pull the exact number and do the quilt drawing.

The blueprints are being drawn and we couldn't be more excited for Maria.

Its still not too late to donate! Supplies, your time, cash... it all works and it all helps.

I've been working out after work this week with Rilla. She came over after one workout and together we made an "interesting" meal of falafel, tzatziki (secret recipe - sorry!), black bean hummus, greek salad, and lamp chops. A really light dinner! Next time I make falafel, I think I'll bake it (or at least fry it a bit and then bake the rest of the way). Its too complicated to fry! It took a really long time, but the end result was tasty.

I'm diggin' Pioneer Woman these days (just look at those roasted garlic potatoes!). And I'm a big fan of this too. The baby shower food entry is pretty fantabulous as well as baby brie cups.

Will's birthday is next week and we're celebrating on Sunday night since Monday is a holiday. Yippeee! More recipes after the par-tay...