Feb 28, 2011

sweet sweet day

First of all, is it seriously the last day of February?  Where has this month gone?!?  I can't believe that we will already be into the month of March tomorrow. Since the love month is coming to a close, it was only fitting that we end it with some heart shaped cookies.  Yesterday, Julie came over to help me bake some sugar cookies. I found a great recipe online for homemade sugar cookies, but it makes about 60 cookies and then they have to be decorated.  So it is so much more fun to have help.  Plus, Josh and I really can't/don't need to eat them all. We had a lot of fun and I think that they came out really cute. Julie took about half home, but I think I'm going to send Josh to school with some tomorrow. God knows the medical school students need them more than I do!
Just out of the oven

Decorating necessities

All Done!

Feb 27, 2011

petting zoo MINUS the petting

On Friday morning, I ventured out down the street to Jesmond Dene with some of my fellow SGU SO's and their children.  It was a cold dreary morning, like most mornings in Newcastle, and we headed to the newly opened petting zoo.  Now, the petting zoo is really rather neat.  It's in the middle of beautiful Jesmond Dene, and there are lots of animals including bunnies, chickens, ducks, pigs, goats, and sheep.  However, the one thing this petting zoo is lacking is the petting part.  You can see all the animals, but they are all gated in and so you can't pet a single one.  It's really rather annoying.  I have never been to a place called a petting zoo where you can't actually pet the animals.  They should just call it a zoo!  Oh well, it was fun and it is free, so I guess I shouldn't complain. The kids enjoyed themselves a lot I think.  Here are some pictures of us that day.
Mr. Billy Goat Gruff

Luke and Evie watching the animals

Little Miss Evie and I

Julie and Evie taking a picture

The pigs (Peppa and George)
Look at this doll Krew
And Mr. Photogenic Benjamin
I don't think I'm lying when I say that these SO's in Newcastle have some of the most precious kids ever!
Julie and I
 They have the cutest thing in Jesmond Dene that I have ever seen. A pet cemetery! I thought it was the sweetest thing ever. If I lived here (Oh wait...I do! But you know what I mean.), I would want my dogs to have a headstone just like this.  How special!

The Pet Cemetery
After the petting zoo, we walked back to Alta and Krew's house to eat lunches that we had packed earlier in the day.  The kids had fun playing and the SO's got to know each other a little better.

There are some flowers that just popped up all of the sudden outside the park. I'm in love with them.  Just a little bit of color on these cold cloudy days is enough to make me smile. Don't you agree that they are beautiful!?!  I am hoping this means that spring is just around the corner. :)
This picture does not do the flowers justice!

Feb 23, 2011

Back on the Workout Wagon

For most of my life, and especially prior to my wedding last June, I was extremely consistent in my workout routine.  I would make it to the gym at least three times a week and more often than not, four or five times a week.  I was running regularly, both on the treadmill and outside.  However, when I got to Newcastle in August, I just seemed to fall off the workout wagon.  I don't know if it was burn out from a hardcore regiment prior to my wedding, or perhaps a bit of depression after moving half way around the world, or maybe a little of both.  But either way, I stopped working out completely.  And I don't know if this is true for everyone, but when I'm not working out, I tend to eat really bad too.  For me, not working out and eating poorly seems to go hand in hand, which tends to lead to weight gain...obviously. 

In October, after about two months of slacking off, I made a decision to start training for a half marathon.  I had run 5K and 10K races before and in my head, the next step was a half marathon.  I found a twelve week training schedule online, and I discovered a half marathon in early January in Long Beach that I could do while I was home for Christmas with Josh.  I decided to go for it.  The training program was intense, four days a week of running with two days of cross-training and one rest day, but I was determined to do it.  I honestly don't think that Josh believed that I would adhere to the program, especially since for the two months prior I had sat around and done NOTHING, but I knew I could follow through.  So the first week of October, training began.  I was consistent.  For the first 5 1/2 weeks I didn't skip one training day and then I was dealt a major blow.  I hurt my knee the second week of November. If you haven't read my previous post about my knee surgeries, you might want to start there and come back to this post. 

Anyway, all hopes of running my half marathon in January were squashed as I couldn't even walk.  On January 5, 2011, I had my 3rd knee surgery.  Recovery has been relatively quick, but my physical therapist told me not to push things too fast.  When I got back to Newcastle, I started walking more, and did a little stationary bike riding at the gym.  I know you can get amazing workouts from a bike, and those spin classes look like an hour of pure torture, but I personally love to run and do the elliptical or the stair climber.  I don't feel like I'm getting as great of a workout on a bike.  Maybe the thing is, I'm just not motivated enough to make a stationary bike challenging enough to get a good work out in, I don't know, but as it stands I don't like the bike.

So you can imagine my excitement two weeks ago when I decided I was ready to go for it on the elliptical.  And great news, I did fine.  I had a little soreness in my knee after, but that was to be expected.  I was thrilled.  So the last two weeks, I have been heading to the gym regularly, doing both the elliptical and walking on the treadmill.  I even took a yoga class today which I think I'm going to do again next week.  It feels great to be getting a good sweat in and I'm excited to get back into shape (I'm sure Josh is too, even though he'd never say it).  I'm not quite ready to run yet.  It could be a few more months until that happens.  My goal is still to someday do that half marathon but for now, I'm satisfied with the elliptical.  So finally, I am back on the workout wagon and can I just say, it feels awesome.

Feb 19, 2011

Fajitas, Pizza, Pasta, and Chocolate Cake

This past week has not been one that my "Biggest Loser Cookbook" would be proud of, but it was a week of some yummy food. Last Thursday night I hosted Girl's Night at my flat for the SO's of Newcastle. Mexican food is hard to come by here in the UK, and so we decided that "fajita night" might be a good way to curb those cravings. I provided the chicken for the fajitas and everyone else brought something to add to the spread. We had chicken fajitas, spanish rice, beans, guacamole, chips, chocolate chip cookies, and shortbread with whipped cream. It was all soooo delicious. But what was even greater than that was that we had 10 girls here, well 11 if you count newborn baby Penelope! Such a great showing for one of our first girl's nights here in the Spring Term. It was so fun to meet all the new girls and hear about where they are from, whether they have kids, how their husbands are doing so far in school, how they are adjusting to Newcastle life, etc. The night was spent "ooing" and "ahhing" over baby Penny and eating lots and lots of amazing food. I look forward to many more nights like this. Here are a couple of pictures from the night.
Sarah G., Amberlea, Yolanda, Michelle, Christine, Julie, Louise, Me, Sara W., Sarah C., and Penny

Sarah G. getting some cuddles from baby Penny.

Mummy Sarah C, showing Penny off to Julie and Sara W.

Sara W., and Penelope
Friday nights in the Scurlock household tend to be Josh's one night off from studying. Unless finals or midterms are looming, we usually do something together on Friday night. Since Valentine's Day didn't get to include a night out because of Josh's test, we decided to go out to dinner on Friday night. Our friends Julie and Kevin who live right around the corner from us joined us at Francesca's Italian Restaurant. The restaurant is literally about a 3 minute walk down the street from our house, and until very recently, I didn't even know it existed. It is across the street from houses, in the middle of the neighborhood. The inside looks exactly how I would picture a restuarant to look in the heart of Italy. It had a very old italian, romantic feel to it, complete with checkered table clothes and italian flags. This is what it looked like inside, although I don't think everyone was thrilled that I was taking their picture. Haha.
The crazy thing about this restaurant is that not only can you not make reservations, but you also can't put your name in when you get there.  You just wait in the "que," or line until it's your turn to be seated.  It's an interesting way of doing things and on top of that, it's crazy busy there all the time!  When we got there at 8:00pm the line was practically out the door.  We thought about leaving, but weren't sure where to go so we decided to stick it out in the que.  We had to wait about 40 minutes in line, however it's not half bad since you can buy drinks at the bar and sip your wine or beer in line while waiting. 
Josh and I in the que.

Julie and I
Let me just say that the "que" was worth the wait. Not only was the food amazing, but it was so inexpensive.  I couldn't choose between pizza or pasta but to my surprise, I could have both! They have a "half pizza, half pasta" option on their menu for those of you who are indecisive.  So I went with the margarita pizza and pesto pasta. 

My half pasta/half pizza dinner.

Hubby and I
And of course, no meal out is complete without some dessert.  Preferably chocolate cake!

After dinner, we headed back to Julie and Kevin's with a bottle of wine and just hung out for a couple hours. It was a really fun night and we certainly enjoyed ourselves. We will definitely be back to Francesca's soon!

A group shot at Kevin and Julie's flat.

Feb 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Tradition

In honor of celebrating our 5th Valentine's Day together, I decided it's only necessary to recap the last five Valentine's Days that Josh and I have spent together.  As many of my friends and family already know, I am VERY tradition oriented.  It doesn't matter what holiday we are talking about, there are always traditions that must be carried out in order to make my holidays complete.  For instance, Halloween CANNOT be celebrated without going to a pumpkin patch, picking a pumpkin, and carving it.  The fourth of July MUST include fireworks, homemade icecream, and sunbathing in my Gramma Catie's pool.  Christmas NEEDS to be equipped with Christmas Eve pajamas, homemade Christmas cookies, Christmas cards/pictures, and a cutdown Christmas tree decorated while eating candy canes and eggnog (both of which I don't really care for but are required none the less), and Valentine's Day CAN'T happen without a large decorated heart shaped chocolate chip cookie made by yours truly.

For our first Valentine's Day together, I found a heartshaped cookie sheet at Target and decided that it would be fun to decorate a cookie for Josh.  We had been dating less than a year and though I was very much in love with the boy, I didn't want to go to over the top for our first V-day together.  I figured making him a cookie and decorating it was a fairly mild gesture and therefore would ensure that I wouldn't scare him off too soon.  Somehow, the heart shaped cookie has become a staple in our Valentine's Day gift giving.  Here's a look at the last four years.

2007 Our 1st V-Day:  We were both in our third year in college.  Josh came down to Long Beach from Whittier and we went to dinner at Claim Jumper.  I gave Josh the infamous heart cookie.  Josh forgot my present in Whittier and we ended up driving all the way back to Whittier after dinner to get it.  It was worth the drive back though, a heart shaped silver necklace from Tiffany's was in that well known little blue bag when we got there.  I still wear it all the time.

2008 Our 2nd V-Day:  For our second Valentine's Day, Josh got tickets for us to see "Wicked" the Broadway play at the Pantages Theater in downtown LA.  First we went to dinner in Pasadena at the Melting Pot which is a fondue restaurant that I highly recommend dining at at least once in your life.  Then we headed to the the play which was AMAZING! It was such a fun night, complete with heart cookie number two!

2009 Our 3rd V-Day:  By the time our third Valentine's Day rolled around, we had both graduated from college and were back living at our parent's houses in Bakersfield.  We ordered BJ's pizza and salad and ate it at my parent's home using my Mom's china and crystal.  We then went to the theater and saw "Confessions of a Shopaholic."  It's a rarity that I get to see "chick-flicks" at the movies and so this was a very romantic gesture by Josh. 

2010 Our 4th V-Day:  This year, we had dinner with my parents at their house.  Josh sent me a bunch of beautiful roses at work during the day.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE getting flowers at work, especially when they are sent on random occasions, but I'll take them any day of the week.  It was a low key Valentine's Day since we were in the midst of wedding planning last year and saving for a honeymoon among other things. :)

2011 Our 5th V-Day (1st Married One!):  This year provided some obstacles as far as Valentine's Day and my heart cookie making went.  I thought seriously about bringing my heart cookie tin in my suitcase to England, but I decided it wasn't an absolute necessity so I didn't bring it.  I wasn't planning on even attempting to make one here in Newcastle, but at the last minute, I decided it had to be done, one way or another.  I found a cookie shop that makes and decorates cookies for Valentine's Day.  I bought a big heart cookie, however I did NOT have them decorate it for me. I wanted to do it on my own.  I think the store clerk thought I was crazy.  He must have asked me at least three times if I was SURE I didn't want it decorated.  I assured him I was positive I didn't. 

Josh had a parasitology final today and a genetics midterm tomorrow, so his day would first be spent taking his final and then his night spent studying for his midterm.  I knew it would be a low key day.  Early on in the day, I went with Julie to pick up the cookie (she got one for her fiance Kevin too) and then I came home to decorate it.  Josh got home mid-day (he thinks the final went well)  and he brought me home some surprises too.  We also had some special Valentine's arrive in the mail from my Gramma Catie and Mom too! 
My Valentine's treats from Josh.

Apparently "SNOG" is the English word for "KISS" :)
This year's cookie. Not homemade, but home decorated.
So many goodies from our family!

Had to capture a picture of us on V-Day 2011.
We ordered pizza from Papa John's for dinner and relaxed with each other for a little while until it was time for Josh to head back to studying in his man cave.  Another surprise that came in the package from my Mom was a late birthday present for Josh.  Check it out!
A sign that she made for his "Man Cave." So awesome! He loves it!

Hanging in the "Man Cave" above his desk.
 We had such a great Valentine's Day together.  I look forward to so many more with my wonderful husband Josh.  I love you with all of my heart sweetie.