Sunday Gratitude

Good Morning friends!

I am parked on my sofa, sipping my coffee, and watching the tail end of Finding Nemo.  Holy moly, am I filled with gratitude.

These past couple of days have been filled to the brim with family and loved ones.  After spending time with these wonderful people, I wake up with a light heart and a smile.

Here are a few of the things I am oh-so-grateful for today:

  • Friends and Family!  I have gotten to spend time with some friends lately who I hadn’t previously seen in months-years!  It has been so good.  I forgot how seriously funny, smart, and entertaining these particular women are.  After an evening with them, my voice is hoarse from laughing so much.  AND we get to dust off the good ‘ole sorority pose when we take a group photo:


  • Pixar movies: Pixar recently came out with their short films, version 2.  If you want to watch some well-made, heartwarming cartoons, download / pick it up pronto!  The BF and I watched a few before hitting the sack last night.  They are so good!
  • A warm home and food to eat.  These cold nights remind me how blessed I am to have a roof over my head.  I am in school, have regular income, and have a promising, upcoming job search.  That is a big deal these days and I am so thankful for these opportunities.


I hope you have a great Sunday.  Mine will be stuffed with studying, groceries, tutoring, and cooking.  Pretty awesome.

Chicken (no) Tortilla Soup!


Here in Reno, NV the weather is a-changin’ and it is chilly! All I want to do is stay in bed until 11AM, get up for coffee, then watch TV all day while eating hot soup.  I have simple needs.

In order to make one of my dreams come true, I have been making homemade soups like crazy! I always thought it was much more difficult, but in reality making homemade soup is the easiest form of cooking on the planet.  AND the result is delicious.  AND you know what ingredients are in it.  AND you have a tasty meal ready for you throughout the busy week.  How awesome is that?!

I adapted the recipe from HERE.  The original looks great, but I altered it so it would be appropriate as a hearty main course.

I apologize for the lack of photos, but I was more focused on eating than keeping a record – but gimme a break!  This is my first food post!


  • 5 pounds chicken – I used “leg quarters”  – tasty meat and the pack cost be less than 5$ (!!!)
  • Oil – I used coconut oil and olive oil, but really it is oil, who cares? Use any type you want.
  • Shakes (to taste) of the following:  Paprika / Garlic Salt / Cayenne Pepper / CUMIN – if you don’t own Cumin, then go buy some, taste it, and enjoy the higher quality of life you will now have.
  • 1 white onion
  • 2-3 Tablespoons minced garlic (we have a but ol’ tub from Costco of the stuff.  If you have fresh cloves, I would just mince up a whole head.
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 3 bell peppers – I had yellow / orange / red
  • 2 quarts / big rectangular packages of chicken stock – I recommend shelling out the extra forty cents on the ‘better’ brands.  The canned chicken stock really tastes like water / oil / “chicken seasoning #22387R”
  • 2 – 14 oz cans of diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 3 limes
  • Avocados to top it off
  • NO CILANTRO! For cilantro is evil and if you eat it you will surely die because it is so disgusting.  Don’t taint a wonderful soup with this horrendous leafy death.  CILANTRO HATER 4 LIFE!

Makin’ the soup:

  • Unwrap the chicken and give it a quick rinse.  You are doing this mainly because raw chicken smells like farts and rinsing it off reduces the stink.  (that and it gets all of the goo off) (fart goo more like it)
  • Spread the chicken in a baking dish.  I used a simple 9″-13″-1″ glass pan.
  • Drizzle the chicken with some oil, just enough to make it all glossy
  • Coat those chicken pieces with some shakes of seasoning!  No need to season if you are cooking chicken with the skin on, but have plans to remove the skin before poppin’ it in the soup.  I wasted a lot of good cumin here… (tear).
  • Cook the chicken in 375* F for 45m-60m.  I did 45m and my chicken had some pink parts in the very center (it got cooked during the boiling process, but if it is thoroughly cooked in the oven, it will be easier to pick apart when you put it in the broth).
  • Take an hour break!  I recommend playing with a beloved pet or napping!
  • So the chicken is still cooking away, so you might as well prep the rest of the veggies!
  • Chop the bell peppers to your liking, I used 1″ strips
  • Dice the onion into little pieces
  • Dice the jalapeño into even leeeeettler pieces.  Discard the seeds and DONT TOUCH YOUR FACE.  Wash your hands, wash everything, then wash your hands again.  Then don’t touch your face.  Or your dog’s face, that would just be cruel.  But you all probably know this, I think you are a very wise bunch.
  • Put a big pot on the stove, I used an 8 quart pot.  This held the soup and gave me a couple of inches at the top to prevent it from boiling over.
  • On medium-high heat, sauté the onions / garlic / peppers / jalapeño in roughly 2-3 T of oil; stir them while cooking over the next 4-5 minutes;  you just want to get the onions softer and little more translucent.
  • Pour in the chicken stock and tomatoes and keep on low heat
  • Once the chicken is done, let it cool.  Just chill out, Chicken! Let’s not get crazy here!
  • I took off the chicken skin then just tore the meat off the bones with my hands.  I found it easiest to rip apart the joints and take the bones out, then just pieced out the remaining meat.  This was simple to do and ripping bones apart helped me connect with my inner survivalist.
  • Drop all of the yummy chicken meat into the pot with all of the other goodies.
  • Bring to boil on High heat, then keep it with a low boil (probably a Medium heat)
  • Leave the pot simmer/boiling there from 20-45 minutes; this time is really up to you.  I wanted mine to boil longer to get it to reduce.  I wanted a slightly thicker soup with a strong broth, but taste it and decide for yourself.  If your chicken wasn’t completely done, let it boil for at least 20 minutes to ensure food safety. No one likes diarrhea!
  • Taste the broth and decide what it needs.  Experiment with spices! I used a TON of cumin, some paprika, LOTS of garlic salt, and a decent amount of cayenne.  I added more salt then the juice of 3 limes.  Just taste as you go and you can’t go wrong.

When it is all done, slice up the avocado and put it on top of a steaming bowl of your homemade chicken (no) tortilla soup!

Here is my only (dark and grainy) photo of the end product.  Delicious!

CrossFit / Food / Roommates

Oooh CrossFit.  How great you make me feel, but how awful you make my shins look.  Today was a deadlift day and my shins look like I used my legs as billy clubs while taking Coumadin…they are bruised!

So, Crossfit – I dedicate this song to you.  You make me do silly things like handstands and give me bruises.  But you also make me feel strong and give me muscles to throw sweet Zo Hiiiigh up in the air.

(Note: disregard that creepy man voice in the song…I have never been so grossed out by strawberries in my life.)

Speaking of song dedications, this one goes out to FOOD.  I love you baby, never change!

(Note: I have no clue what this song is about.  It is just appropriate because if something is delicious, my body tells me no, but I WONT QUIT!!!)

And finally, this one’s for my roommates.  They are awesome! I am so glad I live with each of those boys.  They make delicious food, which we have already established that I love, then share it!  They are also great listeners and are super understanding about my immense need for quiet and rest (or else something happens and I morph into a rage-filled snarling monster…)  Finally, a hip hop song with a message I can really get behind.

(Note: I don’t know what Chris Brown is talking about…”I don’t want to fall/fall/fall asleep”  that is hogwash, just let me sleep.  PS the video sucks.)

That’s it for Courtney’s Cool Jamzzz Radio Session!  Keep right on the flip side and have a snazzy Monday you rockin’ snails, you!

(my best effort at being a RockJock DJ.)


Sunday Gratitude


Today I am reflecting on simple moments of joy.  These are the little things that when I am hurried, go unnoticed.  But today, I am moving at a more relaxed pace and am soaking them in.

  • I am studying at a local coffeehouse.  I found a great table, which is a feat considering today is a holiday and the place is packed.  My table is against a large window that looks out on the patio area.  So here I am, not studying, just staring out the window at a sweet golden retriever when another golden retriever comes up.  And it is obvious, that they are now in love.  I witnessed it!  They fell in love instantly!  And they played and kissed and it was wonderful.  Meanwhile, I notice their owners are both here alone, and another connection is made!  After about thirty minutes (my on and off watching…creepy, sorry), they totally exchanged phone numbers!  It was so sweet!  It was like a real-life, golden retriever version of 101 Dalmatians.  I loved it.
  • Also seen from my table / aka my observation unit: a couple in their 70s walking to their car, matching shoes / pants / jackets.  The Mr walked over and opened the door for his lady, closed it gently and walked to the driver’s side.  Adorable.
  • Hearing Styx – Come Sail Away at the coffeehouse while studying.  Hearing this and not singing aloud took all of the willpower I have.  If you don’t know the song, watch this video.  Then watch it again.  Then watch it again and again and again until you know the song.  Then we will sing it together because it is wonderful.
    I thought that they were Aaaangels, but much to my surprise – they climbed aboard their staarship and headed for THE SKIIIEEEES!
    I know it is Tuesday, but this is still going to be “Sunday Gratitude” because renaming it sounds difficult…

Election Day!

Today is election day!

photo from

If you love efficiency and do not enjoy lines, you probably early voted.  I love early voting.  I get to vote, then browse the grocery store for Halloween sale items.  Talk about multitasking.

As I got ready this morning, I listened to NPR.

They had a story about a boy (well, man) and his grandmother who were voting in Ohio.  The boy is 18 and it was his first time voting. He said that he voted for Obama, BUT (this is the important part) whoever wins will be his President, and it is his duty to pray for him.

It does not matter who we all wanted to win.  It matters who does.  And whoever / whomever (I don’t know the difference…) does, that man will be my President and I will pray for him.

If the candidate I voted for doesn’t win, I will NOT post or say negative things about who did deserve to win or how the next President will not fulfill the needs of the country.

I have faith that everything will end up exactly as it should.  It may not be how I would have done it or planned it, but that isn’t my job.  My job is to be educated, vote how I feel, and respect the outcome. Done!

I do not respect the negativity involved in politics, so I am choosing to rise above it.  I encourage you to do the same.


Sunday Morning Gratitude

Good morning!

I hope you are feeling as good as I am today.  No, scratch that, I hope you are feeling even better!

I am full of gratitude  today, here are some tidbits:

  • Surprise reunions! Friday night I went to Soul Night at the Lincoln Lounge.  It was amazing! First off, it was so fun that I stayed out later than… wait for it… ALL OF MY ROOMMATES!!!!!  They play oldies and you dance and laugh and pretend to be someone’s cousin in order to find out their name for your friend…. While there, I ran into a group of lovely Pi Phi’s, including my Little!  It was incredible!  Thinking about it still puts a smile on my face.  I felt like I hadn’t realized how much I missed all of them until I was standing there with them.  Truly grateful for that.
  • NetiPots.  Oh man, my NetiPot is like my modern day fairy Godmother.  I wake up cranky and stuffed up (residual congestion from my cold).. I snarl my way into the bathroom, then BOOM – after I use it I feel as fresh and happy as Will Smith himself!
  • Feist / Regina Spektor Pandora.  These ladies cure a cranky mood.  I’ll tell you what!  Being sick really bums me out, mainly because I feel so trapped and I know I just have to wait it out.  So, I pop on one of these stations and dance around my bathroom.  Personal recommendation: add some kicks to your dance routine, it adds to the joyful factor.
  • Sunshine. Taking Zo out for a walk has been better for me than her lately.  Well, I guess it may be great for her as well…She hasn’t recently told me that our walks have been substandard… Anyways, feeling my shoulders warm in the sun and having to squint to look up just feels so good.  I love Autumn, and the holidays bring a feeling of magic into my heart, but gray weather wears me down when it stretches out and keeps me inside.  These sunny days have not gone unnoticed!
  • Sister chats.  I caught up with my SeaStar a couple of days ago.  It was so fun.  We giggled and laughed [two very different actions, only distinguishable by little girls, or grown women who are essentially 8 year olds at heart].  I am so excited to see her and my Mama in December.  Hooray!
  • The kind baristas / owners of Bibo Coffee Co.  They allow me to buy a coffee then linger there for a long time while I study.  They accept me as I mumble to myself and use hand gestures to map out something in my brain.  They understand why I like to buy a large coffee, but use a small coffee cup.  They provide me with my sweet life-nectar, coffee. Mmm, my goodness I love it so much.

Welp, that’s all for me today.  I hope you enjoy some sunshine and get caffeinated to your hearts content!