Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Puerto Plata, Por Favor: The Sponge goes to the Dominican Republic

Not the DR, but islands sure
do look pretty from the sky.
The Dominican Republic is a beautiful place to go. As soon as I found out that my husband and I couldn't go to visit our friend in Los Angeles, we decided on the next best thing -- an island in the Caribbean. We planned this literally 3 weeks in advance, and it could not have turned out better. Even I, a planner who often gets anxious when I'm rushed for time, can't see how advanced planning would have made this trip better.

Tuesday - Travel

We pulled an all-nighter before we drove 2 1/2 hours to D.C. C and I got home from work around 10ish that night and had a 6 o'clock flight the next morning. I was entirely too nervous/anxious/excited to sleep, so I packed and unpacked, and checked and rechecked my bags until there was nothing to do but leave.  The good news is, our bags (carry-ons only) were perfectly packed. The bad news is, we learned the hard way that all-nighters before a day of travel sucks, and sucks big. Thinking we would sleep on the plane/at the Miami airport was dumb. So dumb.

Rainy first night.
When we finally got to our hotel in Puerto Plata, about and hour and a half later than we were supposed to, it was raining and we flopped into bed until dinner. It was beautiful. Check-in was not a bear like some of the reviews we had read, which had us pleasantly surprised.

Meals were largely uneventful affairs. Food at the buffet wasn't great, but we really didn't eat there that often (breakfast every day, lunch twice, and dinner-- never). We ate at the restaurants most of the time, because we were able to snag reservations to different restaurants each night (tip: go to Guest Services and ask them if there are any leftovers at the start of each day). There are various restaurants at the resort, all pretty good, but they try to be so international that I didn't really feel like we got a feel for Caribbean cuisine, except for when we went to the Dominican restaurant (the only night we got to eat Dominican food for dinner), where I had a pastelon de platanos (described as Dominican lasagna with plantains used in place of noodles). I had a sweet corn pudding for dessert and Chris had some sort of coconut dessert which tasted like the inside of a Mounds Bar. 

Thursday - Lounging

Hello, beaches!
The next day, we were told we had a special welcome package (which we knew was code for "We're going to try to sell you timeshares for an hour," from reading reviews of the resorts and from the advice of a couple we met along the way). We tried to avoid it, but they wait for you outside of the breakfast buffet so that you have no choice. So we were apprehended and taken to the VIP place. Before the guy could give us the tour and launch into his spiel (but AFTER they gave us complimentary butter-you-up chocolates), I asked if we'd have to pay extra. He tried to skirt this question, but I wasn't having it, and neither was Chris, who jumped in saying that he'd lost his job. When he asked us how we could afford our vacation at all, I told them it was a pity trip gifted to us

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Savory Recipe: Rosemary Walnut Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

The roasted veggies above consist of
asparagus, carrots, and sweet potatoes
After making this, it looked so pretty and tasted so good I decided to share it with anyone and everyone (who reads this blog, that is). The original rosemary walnut chicken recipe is from Cooking Light magazine, so it's very healthy, but I've adapted it or added notes about substitutions you can make when you don't want to go out and buy a bunch of stuff you don't already have. I paired it with roasted vegetables -- one of the easiest and most delightful ways to get your veggies in -- which is something my mom has perfected and I've taken into my repertoire.

Rosemary Walnut Oven-Fried Chicken
  • ¼ c. low-fat buttermilk OR ¼ c. milk with 1 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar(stir thoroughly)
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 4 6-oz. chicken cutlets (or use bone-in chicken, thighs are a good size but other cuts work too)
  • 1/3 c. panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) – substitute saltines if no panko
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped walnuts (I ground in coffee grinder) and then leave some larger pieces for good texture
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Sunday, May 20, 2012

CPD Things 1, 2, and 3!

Thing 1: Blogs and blogging

So, I've clearly already got the blog down, but this is a nice chance to introduce me to some things, and being the Sponge for Knowledge that I am, I like new Things.

Why I am taking part in this course? Well, as I've stated in Back to Basics, I'm in CPD23 because I didn't get to do much with it last year while I was in school, and now I'm getting my professional development on. Although I feel like I do these kinds of things already, it's a little dash of motivation with a sprinkle of reflection on why I'm doing what I'm doing that makes me like it. I'm looking forward to all of it. This really helped me improve my blog last year, and now I'm getting a chance to push it further. Bring it on!

Thing 2: Investigate some other blogs

It's nice to go around finding new blogs, but the thing I like best about Thing 2 is the commenting. Opening up dialogues between people is the best -- but this is also how I met The Red Headed Traveler during last

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Back to Basics!

Hola friends!

As you know (or may not, if you're new here), I've been working on my Master's degree in Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas. This has taken up quite a bit of time, as you might expect a Master's program to do, leaving me less time for blogging than I'd like. But now, the good news.

I am done! A Master of Information!

What does that mean for this blog?
  • More cookerating 
  • More celebrating
  • More free thinking
  • More Spanish-learning
  • And... more blog writing!
Specifically, I already have a number of blog posts waiting in the wings, a few recipes I have tried and love (walnut-rosemary chicken with roasted veggies... mmm), recipes that I haven't tried but now must (pastelon de platanos, because of this next thing--), and a trip to the Dominican Republic that knocked my socks off (metaphorically, and actually, since once I boarded my plane to that little paradise, socks were strictly forbidden).

Also, I'll be picking back up on the CPD23 Project, which is now repeating itself for its 2012 edition. For those of you just tuning in, I started this project called the 23 Things for Professional Development last year, which directs librarians to emerging technologies, and introduces them to a great load of, well. Things. For professional development.

I like things, so I joined up last year in a flurry of motivation and excitement for having another thing to do. Or, 23 things, rather. However, I jumped the gun, and because I was in school, couldn't devote as much attention to it as I might have liked. Now that I've graduated, however, this is a perfect way to keep a leg up on social media and emerging technologies.

Tune in next time for my mouthwatering Rosemary-Walnut Chicken and Roasted Vegetables!