Friday, November 19, 2010

Let Me Count the Ways

I love Christmas.


I cannot explain to you how much I love Christmas.  It is beyond words.


So, let me demonstrate for you how much I love Christmas...


Phil & I had a Christmas wedding.




I start listening to Christmas music on November 1st... 

Go here to listen to Christmas music 24/7:  http://www.live365.com/index.live



I cannot listen to this song without getting goosebumps... no matter which version/artist.  But Nat King Cole makes any Christmas song 5 times better.



video




Candlelight Christmas Eve service makes me cry every time.






We still go to my parents for Christmas and I'm up at 5 every Christmas morning, begging everyone else to get up.




{Yes, that is me, my sister, and my grandma in our Christmas pjs.  I am not ashamed.  Hopefully Gma and Lauren aren't either.  If they are, too bad... it's already posted. haha}



Phil proposed on Christmas.  {Phil + pretty ring + Christmas = very happy Rachel}




There are so many things I love about Christmas.  They're innumerable.


There's a feeling about Christmas that is unexplainable.  And I'm starting to get that feeling once again : )


It's just around the corner.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Time

So, the move is complete.  Well... kind of.  All of our stuff is in our new apartment and we're sleeping there.  But, that's about as far as we've gotten.  Everything else is complete chaos.  Boxes and rubbermaid totes everywhere.


I'm not too worried about it though.  Taking it a couple boxes at a time and enjoying my long weekend off.


We don't have TV or internet at our new place.  Actually, Phil and I have lived the majority of our married life without both of these things.  Whenever I tell people that they always do a double take... "Wait.  You don't have TV?"


Correct.  We have a TV... for movies and Phil's games, but no, it's not hooked up to get any channels.


And it is wonderful.


It amazes me how much time becomes available without these distractions.


We're not anti-TV in any way.  I have times where I crave a few hours of food network, or a couple episodes of law & order svu... and I hop over to my parents for a "fix."


But, for the most part, I really enjoy the absence of technology.  It leaves time for things that otherwise would never happen.  Like reading a good book in the bathtub.  Taking the dog for an extra long walk.  Cooking dinner together.  Taking a drive... just to take a drive.  The possibilities are endless  : )


If you've never done it, I'm challenging you.  Take a day, a weekend, a week, a month... whatever you feel comfortable with.  And commit to shutting the TV off, unplugging the computer, silencing the cell phones.


And enjoy the silence.


Have a beautiful day.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Recent Adjustments

So, lately I've been slightly busy.

Maybe busy isn't the right word... more like tired.

I started my new job about four weeks ago.  And it's on 3rd shift.  11pm to 7am.

I'm really liking the new job so far, it's just been difficult to get adjusted.  And it doesn't help that I have an hour and ten minute commute... one way.  Ugh.  That's getting old real quick.

Thank goodness we'll be moving within the next few weeks and that commute will be cut down significantly. 

New job, new place to live... 

Excited.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

{The Puppy}

So...

I thought I should introduce you to a member of our family.




This is Lionel.  And today is his first birthday.


Lionel is our baby.




How we came about getting Lionel is a very sad story - one that I'm not quite ready to tell - But the story of the past ten months has been a very happy one.






Lionel is a pure-bred Golden Retriever.  We got him when he was about nine weeks old.


From the very beginning, Lionel has been a lover.  All he wants to do is be loved on - be scratched and pet and snuggled with.




{Yes, that is our broken screen door}


He's a good boy, and we love him very much!




Dogs are so wonderful.  If you don't have one -- get one  : )


Friday, October 15, 2010

HP7 Update



Just though I'd let you know... in case you were wondering   : )

 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ArtPrize

A few weekends ago we went to ArtPrize.

If you don't know what that is, I'll explain...

ArtPrize is an art festival/competition that takes place in Grand Rapids, MI.  Hundreds of pieces of artwork are displayed at all different venues across the city... All types of art {2D, 3D, time-based, etc} are located at almost 200 different venues {museums, restaurants, hotels, etc}  People come from all over to view the art and then vote for their favorite.  The top 10 pieces receive prizes.. with 1st receiving $250,000.

Lucky me... I live not too far from Grand Rapids : )

This is the 2nd annual ArtPrize, and for some crazy reason Phil and I did not go last year.  So, we were completely blown away by the amazing pieces of art we saw!

Here's some of the ones we really enjoyed.



This is my sister : ) She went with us.



 Phil liked this one



 A rag rug dress!



 Phil's favorite and the 4th place winner.



 The 1st place winner.  A pencil drawing.  The minute details in this one were amazing!


 Elephants on the sidewalk : )



 No, this guy is not real. Definitely the most realistic model I've ever seen. Really cool, but kind of creepy too.

 

 So delicate and pretty.



{Sigh}... I love beautiful things.



And last but not least... my favorite, and the 2nd place winner.  That's stained glass.  Yes, that's right, stained glass.




I was completely enthralled by her... can you tell? 


 If you're ever around GR during ArtPrize... go!!  You won't regret it!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Curry, Curry, Curry

Curry.

Just the word makes my taste buds excited!  My stomach starts growling and my mouth starts watering!

Apparently curry is a very broad term... kind of like "stir fry".  You can make it a million different ways.  Chicken or shrimp.  With veggies or without.  With rice or with noodles.  Thai curry or Indian curry.  The combinations go on and on.

There's a Thai place near us that Phil and I love love love.  I always get the pad ped, which is chicken, eggplant, mushrooms, spanish onion, green pepper, and red pepper in a red curry sauce with coconut milk.  Oh my.  So good.  The combination of sweet and spicy and fresh and earthy blows my mind.  I've never tasted American food like that. 

So, when I saw that The Pioneer Woman had a curry recipe I had to try it.  { I love the Pioneer Woman.  I love her recipes.  I love the way she writes.  I love that she randomly writes "amen" in the middle of a blog post }

This recipe is actually a Trinidadian curry.  And it is yummy.

This was different from the curry I've made in the past.  You make a "curry slurry" of curry powder and water and cook that before adding the veggies and meat.  Apparently this is a trick that enhances the flavor of the curry.  And it definitely works.  I added mushrooms and red pepper to mine and used a chipotle chili pepper in adobo instead of the plain jalapeno.

Here's a few shots of my yummy finished product and the recipe.  For step-by-step instructions and pictures, go to The Pioneer Woman's post.  It's amazing... as usual.




  • 4 pounds Chicken Pieces (I Used Legs And Thighs), Rinsed, Skin And Fat Removed
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Yellow Mustard
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Halved
  • 1 whole Tomato, Quartered
  • 8 cloves Garlic
  • 8 sprigs Cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons (rounded) Curry Powder (I Used A Trini Mix)
  • 2 teaspoons Turmeric
  • 4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • Jalapeno Pepper, Sliced (optional)
  • Potatoes (optional)
Place chicken in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and add mustard.

In a food processor, chop half the onion, tomato, cilantro, garlic, and black pepper (or jalapeno/habanero).

Add mixture to the bowl. Stir the whole mixture together so that the chicken is totally coated in the seasoning ingredients. Allow chicken to marinate for at least two hours.

After chicken has marinated, make the curry slurry: Add curry powder and turmeric to a bowl. Pour in 3/4 cup water and stir until dissolved.

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Pour in the curry slurry and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Curry slurry will deepen in color. If the mixture becomes too dry during cooking, add a little water.

When the curry slurry has become a thick paste, chop the other half of the onion and add it in. Allow the onions to soften, then add in the chicken. Stir to coat the chicken, then cook, half covered, for five minutes. Turn the chicken, then add in 1 to 2 cups of water. Shake the pan and allow the chicken to cook until done, stirring every five minutes. Cook for about 20 to 15 minutes.

At the end, be sure to taste and adjust salt and pepper. Serve chicken over rice; spoon sauce over the top.





Amen.     : )

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bucket List

I don't think my bucket list is actually a bucket list...

Since it only consists of three or four items.


I guess it's just a work in progress.

Anyways, this is on my bucket list...





Be still my heart.  Isn't it gorgeous?

I am going to make this quilt... someday.

I have a slight problem though.  I don't know how to quilt.  I don't even really know how to sew... besides the very basics.

Oh well.  Guess I'll just have to learn.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My Favorite Guy

My hubby's birthday was yesterday.

We had a really good day full of...

chicken & dumplings...



the best banana cake you've ever tasted {more about that later}...




new chicago fire t-shirts and sanuk shoes...




then we went to Craig's Cruisers for go-karts and arcade games...

and then out for drinks and more yummy food.

He said he had a wonderful day... which makes me happy.



Happy 24th birthday, Phil!

I love you.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Song for the Seasons

Fall is here.  A new season has come.

For some reason, I didn't want it to come this year. 

I guess it's just that this changing of the seasons is bringing about a pretty big change in my life...  ushering in a new season of life for me.

Done with school.  Starting my career.

It's scary, and wonderful, and terrifying, and exciting... all at the same time.

This song is an older one.  But it fits perfectly right now.


video


Just wanted to share because it's so beautiful.

"Every Season" by Nichole Nordeman 

Monday, September 27, 2010

StarStruck

Last month, I stumbled across this post/giveaway on Young House Love.

I was instantly enchanted by the images from an Etsy shop called The Starcraft.  Hand-folded moravian paper stars are incorporated into beautiful hanging mobiles -- each based on actual constellations.






When Phil and I decide to have kids, { which will not be anytime soon, mom : ) } one of these mobiles will be the first thing to go up in the nursery.

They are beautiful... colorful... whimsical.  I love them.

Anyways...

After browsing through The Starcraft shop I was inspired to make my own moravian stars.

Here's the results...




I found an online tutorial -- here -- that had really simple instructions with step-by-step, pictures, and video.

I made mine using all different sizes of curling ribbon.  And I love how they turned out.

Right now I have them all in a big vase next to our bed.  I think I want to make some more blue ones and do a monochromatic star vase. We'll see though... anything's possible : )


Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Favorite Breakfast {at the moment}

I have always been a lover of peanut butter toast.  For breakfast... for dinner... for a snack.  I'll eat it any time.  It's so simple and so yummy.  Especially alongside a big glass of milk.

So, I've been on a nutella kick lately.  Ok, it's more like a craze.  I'm crazy about nutella.

One morning, I reached in the cupboard for the peanut butter, and right next to it was the nutella.  I thought, "Ooooooo. That would be good."  So I added some to my peanut butter toast.  Yum.

Then, a few weeks ago, a revolutionary breakthrough occurred.  I'm laying on the couch reading a book when Phil walks into the room with a sandwich.  The following scene unfolds:


Me:  What'cha got?
Phil:  (with a mischievous grin) Something good.
Me:  Can I have a bite?
Phil:  Maybe.  (walks over to the couch and gives me a bite)
Me: (chewing) It's peanut butter and nutella... with... hmmm... with... cinnamon!!!  Heaven in my mouth!!!
Phil: (grinning) Yeah.  I know.  I just made it up.


I was amazed.  You see, Phil's idea of being creative with food is throwing a can of cream of mushroom soup in with egg noodles.  {Uuugggghhhh.  Gross.  No offense, honey.}  But then he completely amazed me with his culinary  brilliance :) and created what is now my favorite breakfast.

Whole wheat toast.  A layer of peanut butter.  A thin layer of nutella overtop.  And a sprinkling of cinnamon.






Along with a cup of milk {or coffee, depending on how my morning's going}. 





Oh so delicious.  Try this.  You won't regret it.

 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Let the Countdown Begin - HP7

I LOVE Harry Potter.  I'm talking love as in... I've read each of the books at least three times (some of them more), I wish I was J.K. Rowling, I have a crush on Rupert Grint (Ron), Phil bought me the LEGO HP video game for valentine's day, and my next dream vacation is to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.

I know it might be kind of lame that I love HP so much -- but it's like the books and the movies transport me right into another world.  It's so enchanting and captivating!!

So, I am very excited to start my countdown to the new movie --





I cannot explain to you how excited I am!

 
Here's a few sneak peaks...







There's lots more pictures, interviews, and trailers at MuggleNet -- the #1 HP fan site -- if you're interested : )

Part 1 will be in theaters November 19th -- less than two months away!!

Let the countdown BEGIN!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Peach and Strawberry Crumble

I've never made a Giada de Laurentiis recipe that I didn't like.

My husband is a huge fan of her baked tortellini... but that's a post for another day.

I made a new recipe of hers this weekend.  I watched the video on the food network site, and thought it would be perfect because peaches are so yummy (and so cheap) right now.  I bought some last week for 39¢ a pound!




__________________________________________________________________________________
Giada's Peach and Strawberry Crumble

Filling
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp arrowroot flour
1 pound strawberries, halved
1 1/2 pound peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup light brown sugar

Topping

2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

For the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and arrowroot until smooth. Add the strawberries, peaches and brown sugar. Gently toss until the fruit is coated. Pour the fruit mixture into the prepared pan.

For the topping: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, oats, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Pulse until mixed. Add the butter. Pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Sprinkle the mixture over the filling and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the top is light golden. Cool the crumble for 5 minutes.
___________________________________________________________________________________

I tweaked the recipe a little.  Instead of arrowroot flour (who knows what that is anyways, right?) I used cornstarch -- which worked perfectly.  I also added a little bit more brown sugar to my filling because the peaches I used were a little tart.



The almonds added a nice crunch to the typical crumble topping, and I loved the peach and strawberry combination.  I put a big scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside mine.  Delish!!

Here's a link to the recipe and the video.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pretty Prints

I recently ran across an Etsy shop called The Wheatfield...

And I was instantly enchanted with all of her pretty prints.











I love all the beautiful colors and sweet sayings.

They're just so whimsical... and I love whimsical!

I'm definitely getting one of these soon!  Check out The Wheatfield to see even more!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

¡Vámanos a México!

That means let's go to mexico!

Phil and I went to Mexico on our honeymoon and we loved it!  So, when Phil found this song over the weekend and played it for me, I instantly fell in love with it.  {The fact that Coffey Anderson has a beautiful voice doesn't hurt either}

Take a listen...

video


It brings back wonderful memories of beautiful beaches and mariachi bands!  And makes me want to go back again!!  Here's a few pictures from our trip... (sorry about the quality. these were taken on my 35mm so I had to scan them in)






Our hands, our rings, our ten peso bracelets


I love how music can bring back such wonderful memories!!

Have a beautiful day!