Friday, December 9, 2011
We always celebrated big on Thanksgiving. It wasn't unusual to have over 20 to 30 guests at our holiday table. We used to have to use the large meeting room at our apartment complex to hold all the people who came to our Thankgiving dinner. But it's hard to get everyone together nowadays...we're all grown up and have multiple schedules and families to coordinate...and this year was just a lot more sad than I ever expected.
Through continued visits to the chiropractor, my back has been doing so much better this month and I celebrated with a desire to do more cooking. :) My niece Katelyn came over one evening and we had fun watching Dumbo, eating pizza and baking cookies. One night I tried to re-create a potato soup that my CBU roommate Angie once made...hers still has epic proportions in my mind, but the one I made turned out very yummy with shallots, onion, garlic and green onions mixed with the potato, beef broth and heavy cream. Katelyn & Jonathan came over another night for a sleepover and we made a delicious monkey bread the next morning which was sugary and delightful. And a few days later, I decided to try making a savory version of monkey bread with garlic, parmesan, basil and crushed red pepper flakes with a tasty dipping sauce of melted butter and chopped garlic.
Katelyn finished a many months long social studies session on world cultures and to celebrate Kelly planned a World Festival. We ate foods from the many countries including cheese from France, feta from Greece, sushi from Japan, orange chicken from China, Tabbouleh from the Middle East, etc. After our meal, we had a craft time and we made aboriginal drawings from Australia and Russian nesting doll paper dolls. It was a fun event and I'm glad we got to be a part of it.
This month I achieved my goal and read my 100th book this year - The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbria by Marlena de Blasi. I've read several other memoirs from her and really love her very descriptive writing style that perfectly captures the beauty of Italy and her love for its people, culture and food. If you love food or travel memoirs, I highly recommend reading her books. I also got a chance to watch the documentary called Babies which chronicles the lives of four babies over the course of their first year or so of life - from Namibia, Mongolia, Japan and San Francisco. It was fascinating and by far my favorites were the little boys from Namibia and Mongolia as the lifestyle of those countires varied the most from the United States. I highly recommend watching this if you get a chance.
My favorite part of November was the opportunity to go to Disneyland with Kelly & David and the kids. They are both now tall enough to ride all the rides at Disneyland and so for the first time they got to ride Star Tours (a little scary to them, but also fun) and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (they liked it, except for the dark parts). Katelyn also decided to try going on Matterhorn with her daddy and she ended saying that was her favorite ride of the day. We were only able to spend about 5 hours there, but it was a perfect Disney day - cool weather, short lines, yummy food and happy children.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
~ Made semi-homemade ravioli with our friends Danielle & Andy: the ravioli was tasty, but they all got stuck together so it did not look very appealing. However, the mushroom cream sauce I made to top them was divine! (Recipe: http://mommymadedinner.blogspot.com/2011/09/mushroom-cream-sauce.html )
~ Watched the film RENT (finally). While I did enjoy it for the most part, I really like La Boheme much better.
~ I finally got around to putting new photos in frames to hang around the house to replace out-dated ones and to show new family & friends.
~ I finished two new Robin Jones Gunn novels - Canary Island Song and Love Finds You in Sunset Beach. Both were wonderful and I was reminded once again of the way the author is able to weave beautiful spiritual truths into interesting stories in ways that hit you unexpectedly and definitely made me cry.
~ Prepared Nigella Lawson's easy Chocolate Croissants four different times - delicious!!! :) (Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nigella-lawson/chocolate-croissants-recipe/index.html )
~ I read some varied books this month: two books about life in France, two modern adaptations of Sense & Sensibility and the book Working for the Windsors which inspired a recent rush of interest in the story of Edward and Wallis Simpson, the king who abdicated the throne for love.
~ I unfortunately injured myself while leaning down to pick up a napkin and caused sacroiliac joint inflammation (it's the joint that connects the pelvis to the spine). It has continued to cause pain, but with weekly visits to the chiropractor I've steadily gotten better.
~ Josh was able to visit his mom, brother & brother's family for one week and he had a wonderful time playing with our nieces and nephews, trying lots of new & unique restaurants and just spending time with his family.
Monday, September 19, 2011
God truly provided for us in the past two months while Josh was out of work. We were able to meet all our financial needs and had enough for my birthday celebrations as well as some fun too. He had opportunity to do some projects around the house, to sleep in when he felt like it, and to spend more time with friends and family. While we had our dark days, we continued to feel God working in our life and we never lost sight that God was in control and taking care of us.
- We made three kinds of ice cream - fresh peach (from our tree), fresh strawberry and creme brulee (from coffee creamer) - all were delicious.
- We had some friends over for brunch and tried a few new recipes - chocolate peanut butter coffeecake, Pioneer Woman bacon cheese biscuits, and an absolutely amazing fruit salad with mint sugar!
- I watched three films - The Godfather (finally!!), The Turning Point (lovely ballet) and Vanity Fair (a much more sympathetic treatment of Becky Sharp I thought).
- I read 8 books and the best one was The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams.
- Josh lost his job near the end of the month. It was a difficult situation, but God truly has been taking care of us.
- I tried some recipes that recreate North Woods Inn cabbage salad, blue cheese dressing and cheese bread. The cabbage was fabulous (!!!!!) but we loved all three recipes.
- Cooking Club began - our first session was at Sarah's and we had a great (and quick) time preparing chicken tacos and pico de gallo, enjoying fellowship and enjoying ice cream with delicious homemade chocolate sauce.
- I watched the French film I've Loved You So Long - it was sad, quiet and slow-paced, but I liked it and Kristin Scott Thomas was wonderful as always.
- I finally read the Hunger Games trilogy and loved them (can't wait for the film!); and I also read a few Walt Disney World memoirs that were interesting.
- My best friend ended our 17 year friendship which left me hurt, disappointed, angry and really sad. My heart breaks for her though and I hope that her future is blessed and at peace.
- I celebrated my birthday with a fabulous French dinner party hosted by my amazing and talented sister & brother-in-law - it was 5 courses of deliciousness with friends who I love dearly. I also got to celebrate with tickets to see Taylor Swift in concert (thanks Mom & Dad!) - she was awesome and it was a great evening.
We had our ups and downs these past few months, but God is still in control and He knows the plans He has for us. We are putting our trust in Him and that is the safest place to be.
Monday, July 11, 2011
1. Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood
Top 2 Purchases
1. Purple Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker
2. Disneyland Annual Passes
Top 3 Ice Cream Recipes
1. Easy Chocolate
2. Georgia Peach (made with peaches from our backyard tree)
Top 4 Laughs
1. Playing Scattergories with Rob & Kaylean
2. Playing the Game of LIFE with Melissa, Alicia & Jessie
3. Decorating patriotic cookies with Becky & her boys
4. Coffee with Amanda & Anna - AFD, Chewbacca and more
Top 5 Foods I Didn't Cook
1. Salted Caramel frozen yogurt @ Pinkberry
2. Tomato Mozzarella Salad @ BJ's (two nights in a row)
3. Ground Beef Tacos @ Taco Bender
4. Enchilada & Carne Asada lunch @ Rancho del Zocalo
5. Filet Mignon & Braised Short Ribs @ Blue Bayou
Top 6 Moments
1. Shopping at Sur la Table with my sister
2. Danielle & Andy's wedding
3. Katelyn's kindergarten graduation
4. Disneyland vacation with Mitchell's and Pofahl's
5. Winning a guacamole-making contest in Downtown Disney
6. Riding the new Star Tours 3 times
Top 7 Foods I Made
1. Tomato Mozzarella Salad
2. Banana Nut Bread with Streusel Topping
3. Molten Chocolate Peanut Butter Cakes w/homemade vanilla ice cream
4. Italian Fondue anniversary dinner
5. Salsa Pasta Salad for Jason & Anna's housewarming
6. Creamy Cucumber Salad
7. Award-winning Guacamole w/Feta Cheese & Lemon
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Near the end of May, we were able to join Josh's sister-in-law, our niece and one of our nephews at Casey's Cupcakes for a snack and visit while they were in town. I enjoyed a Coconut Cupcake and Josh had his usual Carrot Cake Cupcake. They were delicious as always, as was the time spent with faraway family.
Artistically, this month I was able to help paint the backdrop for our church's VBS program this coming June. I had so much fun painting a forest scene with my friend Mandy. We have complimentary paint styles and I look forward to seeing how our beautiful backdrop comes together and blesses the kids, parents and helpers of this year's VBS program. We're praying that lives will be touched by the power and love of God.
There are lots of films coming out this summer that I want to see, and we got to see three of them in the month of May. We just saw Pirates a few days ago on a date night with my parents. We all enjoyed it a lot and look forward to the possibility of another one in the future. Thor was a fun date night with our friends Danielle and Andy. The movie was okay, probably better if you are familiar with Norse mythology or comic books, but the actor who played Thor was pretty handsome. :) Josh & I saw Fast Five for a second time and it was an even better audience than in Vegas on opening day - lots of cheering and clapping and huge gasps of surprise at the end of the credits. It was awesome...and on a geeky note, I am one of the 25 million fans of Vin Diesel on Facebook and I posted a comment about the great audience at the movie and Vin Diesel "liked" it!!!! I know he really reads all the comments and moderates his own page...and out of over 12, 000 comments on that photo he chose to "like" mine! I willingly admit I was THRILLED to say the least... :)
I finished reading Vanity Fair - it only took about 5 months through DailyLit.com. It was pretty interesting, not a lot of boring bits and I'm really interested to see how the film version reflects the story. The rest of May's reading time has been gobbled up by re-reading the Christy Miller, Sierra Jensen, Christy & Todd: College Years, and Katie Weldon series' by Robin Jones Gunn. These are wonderful Christian books that I have read many times and just absolutely adore them. It's neat to read them again as an adult and see the different insights that come, but most important are the constant reminders to build a deep relationship with God. I needed the comfort of these books this month - they're like comfort food for my brain.
- Orzo salad - For my sister's birthday we had tea at the Huntington and they had a delicious orzo salad as one of the options in the buffet. I decided to make a similar one for a library potluck using orzo, diced tomato, basil, shallots, feta cheese and red wine vinaigrette - it was a big hit and definitely something I'd make again.
- Mini carrot cake muffins - These were for a Pampered Chef party I hosted and I didn't read the directions very carefully so they turned out to be a little bit Pampered Chef and a little bit me. They were a bit dry, but delicious and the cream cheese frosting was yummy.
- Knock-You-Naked-Brownies - this is a Pioneer Woman recipe and it was AMAZING! A bit time-consuming, definitely messy with caramel, rich brownie and powdered sugar on top, but definitely a repeat for sure!
I finally attended a Faculty/Staff Dinner at CBU. I figured since it has been 10 years since I started working in the library full time and I would be getting a pin that I should go. I asked Kelly & David to go as well and we enjoyed dressing up and the yummy meal prepared. My favorite parts of the meal were the Caprese Salad starter, the breadsticks and the Tiramisu dessert.
Our Palmer cousins moved to Virginia - we are sad and will miss them, but it is a good job and decision for their family. We had a goodbye BBQ and enjoyed the family time to play, talk, laugh and take lots of photos. They may be far away in distance, but they are always close in our hearts.
We had two weddings to attend in May, and in the first Katelyn was a flower girl. She looked sooooo pretty and loved being a flower girl. Her favorite part seemed to be dancing all night with all the bridesmaids and groomsmen. In fact, it now appears that she thinks all bridal parties will dance with her at weddings and no one else will do - thankfully there was a kind bridesmaid at the next wedding we attended who was willing to dance with her. This wedding was also my sister's first attempt at catering. She worked very hard with a great crew and provided a delicious and well-timed meal that everyone raved about. Kim & Mac's wedding was held at our church and it was a wonderful event. The weather was perfect, the bride looked lovely, the food was delicious, the dancing was fun and our tablemates - Alex & Morganne and the Sanchez family - were so much fun.
The second wedding was for Alex & Morganne and it was lovely. Held at the Burrage Mansion in Redlands and officiated by our old pastor it was a wonderful God-filled ceremony that was a joy to attend. We had some bad luck at arrival when our keys accidentally got locked inside our running car at the valet - thankfully AAA was called and within 1/2 hour the keys were out and the car safely parked. The reception featured delicious food, a lovely outdoor setting, lots of fun singing and dancing, and a table full of wonderful friends from church. There was even s'more fixings and an open firepit!
http://www.huntington.org/) which offers a tea room in their Rose Garden. She invited several of her close friends and we gathered together to celebrate her birthday with tea, scones, assorted salads and sandwiches, delicious desserts, and walks through the beautiful gardens. She had a wonderful day and felt loved - just as she should!
My niece Katelyn has been taking ballet lessons and had her first recital this month. Her class performed an excerpt from Swan Lake and they did so well. She was wonderful - remembered all her steps, didn't get nervous or stage fright, and was thrilled to receive flowers from her parents, grandparents and TeeTee & Uncle! Due to limited tickets only Kelly, Mom, Carla (David's mom) and I were able to attend, but we took photos and video and met the rest of the family at Jose's after to celebrate. Katelyn was greeted with applause from Dad, Uncle & Jonathan and a large group sitting nearby joined in and even asked her to perfom her piece for them. She happily obliged and they clapped again as did all of us. What a cutie!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I had the opportunity to cook quite a lot this month, including a cooking lesson with a dear friend and a baking day with my best friend. The cooking lesson included making a lunch of poached chicken and vegetables for lunch with molten chocolate cake for dessert, going over a few additional recipes and time to chat about spices, basic cooking skills and the proper peeling of a pommelo. She also brought me a huge bag of delicious oranges (made AMAZING fresh OJ!), pink lemons and pommelos from their backyard citrus trees. Baking day is a fun tradition with my best friend that usually occurs around Christmas time, but due to work issues and travel, happened this month. We made an absolutely yummy Pumpkin Walnut Cake with homemade whipped cream. For lunch I made quick crocque monsieur sandwiches based on a recipe from Melissa d'Arabian and they were sooooo good! It was a great opportunity for best friend time and I'm glad we could carry on our tradition of baking together at least once a year.
There were several other delicious new recipes this month as well - a delicious buffalo chicken dip for Super Bowl Sunday, a vegan chocolate cake with chocolate tangerine frosting that I made for some dear friends as a Valentine's day surprise, and an amazing recipe for Barefoot Contessa's Lemon Chicken with Croutons. It was a simple roast chicken with lemons over a bed of onions which carmelized deliciously - so deliciously that friends who came over loved them even though they HATE onions! :) The croutons are freshly made and served with the chicken with pan drippings over them to soften....yummy! That night I also made an Aarti Sequeira recipe - Moroccan Carrot Salad with Carmelized Lemon. Ultimately, I really did not like it at all (cinnamon/ginger flavor of the dressing is not my taste), but thankfully my friends LOVED it and had seconds and happily took home all the leftovers. :)
Artistically, I didn't do much myself, but I was finally able to give my painting of Cayucos to my good friend Jeff and he really liked it. I also had the opportunity to do school with my niece Katelyn and one of the things we did that day was her Art & the Bible lesson which involved drawing. With some direction from me, she was able to draw a camel, donkey, and goat surprisingly well. We also learned about the color wheel, warm and cool colors, and what happens when you mix colors together. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn with her and remind me how much I love art.
I'm currently in the middle of about 4 or 5 books, but am most obsessed with Pioneer Woman's Black heels to tractor wheels which details her falling in love with her husband Marlboro Man. I love her writing style and this book is great so far. So far this year, I've read 12 books and considering my goal of 100 books by the end of the year I need to start reading more! :) In February, I read 5 books and of those my favorite was a book called Split: a memoir of divorce by Suzanne Finnamore. It was sad, but very honest. In January, I read 6 books and my favorite was The Help by Kathryn Stockett which was amazing and I can't wait to see the film version.
I watched a lot of movies this month, both at home through rentals and at the theater. I was able to rent and watch the film version of the book The Virgin Suicides - it was a sad book and the film was a decent interpretation. It's not a film I would want to see again, or really recommend, but I'm glad to have seen it. We also rented the new version of Robin Hood which I was initially against seeing since I truly dislike Russell Crowe. But I had heard it was really good, and it was something we could agree on renting. I have to say that it was a wonderful film - a very different interpretation of the Robin Hood story, but it was very good and the relationship between Russell Crowe's Hood and Cate Blanchett's Marian is just lovely. I won't say that this changed my opinion of him, but he was great in this film. Josh & I celebrated our nine year anniversary of the day we met with a movie day. Using 3 gift cards, discounted movie tickets and one free ticket we were able to see 4 movies (Unknown, Hall Pass, Gnomeo & Juliet and No Strings Attached) for no money out of pocket. This month we also saw The King's Speech which was incredible and even though Josh initially thought it sounded boring and didn't want to see it, he ended up loving it and we both agreed that it definitely deserved all the Oscars it won.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
For my books goals, I additionally decided to set a goal of reading 100 books this year. This was inspired by Goodreads.com and I figured since I had read 73 books last year that 100 was a reasonable goal. So far, I have finished reading Brave New World (very disturbing, but also amazingly modern considering it was written so long ago), I am beginning book 4 of the Anne of Green Gables series, and have started slowly reading Vanity Fair through DailyLit.com.
Due to cooking much less because of pain when standing, I haven't been able to try as many new recipes as I would have liked. I had intended to try my hand at Indian food last weekend, but made due with pizza. I will try again once better though. :) I did try a new recipe called Green Chile Roll-ups at my Princess House party - it's quite simple, but was a big hit.
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. chopped green chiles
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
4 whole wheat tortillas (6 inch)
1/2 cup finely chopped red peppers
1/2 cup KRAFT Mexican Style 2% Milk Finely Shredded Four Cheese
MIX Neufchatel, chiles and cumin; spread onto tortillas. Top with remaining ingredients.
ROLL up tortillas tightly. Cut each crosswise into 5 slices.
I also created a new recipe based on something Josh's grandma had made for us once that I loved. Simply chicken, potato and carrot poached in chicken broth in the oven - but in my mind it was the most delicious thing ever! I've wanted to recreate it for a long time and finally decided to a few weeks ago. Both Josh & I loved it so much we had it twice in one week! I added a few ingredients and it is yummy!
Poached Chicken & Veggies in Garlic Lemon Broth
2 frozen chicken breasts
4 medium potatoes, peeled & quartered
4 carrots, peeled & quartered
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 sticks salted butter, sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 can chicken broth
Dash of pepper
Preheat oven to 375
Pour lemon juice and chicken broth into a 13x9 baking dish. Add chopped garlic and stir around. Add chicken, flipping over once so that liquid gets on both sides. Add veggies. Place slices of butter all over veggies and chicken and then add fresh ground pepper. Place in oven and cook for 25 minutes. Flip chicken breasts and cook another 25 minutes. Flip chicken breasts again and check veggies to see if tender. If not done, cook another 20 minutes. Serve in pasta bowls with liquid over chicken and veggies – DELICIOUS!
This month I also continued a tradition of watching the film version of classic literature I've finished reading. I read Anna Karenina last year and finally watched the Russian version this weekend. It covered the main drama and conveniently cut out all the boring (to me) descriptions of farming, Russian politics, etc. I did this last year after reading Wuthering Heights and rewatching my favorite interpretation of that film starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche. Upon completing Vanity Fair I will likely watch the Reese Witherspoon version. This reminds me that I need to watch the Michelle Pfeiffer version of The Age of Innocence since I read that book last year as well.
I also decided to embark of a film studies class of sorts by watching some of the films that caught my eye from the Film Studies Reserve items in the library. In January I watched Lost in Translation (slow, but touching) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (weird and quirky but lovely - though it gave me super disturbing dreams).
Monday, January 3, 2011
These are a few of the things that I would like to accomplish this year. I may not get to all of them, but I'm hopeful that it is not too daunting of a list.
- Find time to paint and/or do art projects
- Finish reading the Bible
- Read the following books - Chronicles of Narnia series, The Catcher in the Rye, War & Peace, Brave New World, Vanity Fair and the Anne of Green Gables series
- Unpack at least half the boxes in our garage
- Organize & file all important papers and clean up desk
- Try at least 3 new recipes each month
- Visit Josh's family, and some of mine, on vacation in May/June
- Hang curtains in our house to replace ratty metal blinds
- Mail Christmas cards with letter & picture by beginning of December
- Take a trip with my best friend
- Write on my blog at least once a month