Wednesday, December 28, 2011

5 Minute Christmas Crafts

Also, I realize the title is related to "Christmas" which has now passed, sorry.

I had a revelation the other day. I am averse to crafts which take more than 5 minutes to make. Five minutes may be a little bit of an under exaggeration, but not by much. To give you an idea, I thought I'd highlight my latest craft projects for you.

Stocking Ornament
tutorial from Bundles of Love
Embarrassing confession, this was supposed to be a baby bootie, but clearly that wouldn't work. And it took me like 45 minutes, because I had to rip out a bunch of it half way through. Good thing I didn't have to make a second one because that would have way surpassed my time limit.

Wreath
Inspiration from this Pinterest picture (note that I just didn't even bother spray painting it)
My grandma gave me the wreath, I bought the K at Michael's for $2.99, and proceeded to hot glue the eucalyptus, berries and letter on. That fiasco took several tries. Then I tied on the bow. DONE. Total time: probably 13 minutes

Button Wreath Ornament
tutorial from Martha.
This is actually pretty special because I made one for my mom, my sister and I from the buttons my grandma had. (Surprise, Trish!) This one took about half an hour, but I was watching 30 Rock and the button sorting took the longest. And when I dropped all the buttons of the wire...

Christmas!

This Christmas was pretty low key. Unfortunately with my work schedule I couldn't get enough time off to go home this year (seriously, can't the sick people get their own meds? just kidding...) so we hung out here in Lubbock. We spent Christmas Eve with the grandparents and watched The Muppet's Christmas Carol (it's tradition).

This is what our Christmas breakfast looked like:
(homemade egg nog, fruit soup - not as good as mom's, bacon, and kuchen - not as good as dad's)

Outside Christmas morning looked like this:
(I haven't had a white Christmas since I was 11, so that was a fun treat)

And we looked like this:

We also went to Church, skyped my parents to open presents, had lunch with some friends, danced to Michael Jackson on the Wii, watched the Holiday, and had virtual play time with my nephew in Australia! and bonus, I was cancelled at work. All in all it was a great day. Now we're looking forward to Christmas in Montana 2012

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

San Antonio

Here are some more pictures of our trip to San Antonio

On the Riverwalk

Out to Mexican food with the fam

One of the highlights of the trip:
a 3 lb cinnamon roll from Lulu's Bakery
definitely worth the $8.49

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Career as a Sports Photographer


I spent this past weekend in San Antonio with my in-laws gallavanting about town and watching my brother-in-law swim. It was a meet his school, University of the Incarnate Word, sponsored. I figure I need practice for when our future kids are in swimming, so I volunteered to take some pictures. Needless to say I think these pictures also win me "creepiest sister-in-law of the year" award.



I've got lots more to share including some recipes, crafts and more pictures of our trips....I just have to get through the next few days of work...

Monday, December 5, 2011

what the?

What I woke up to...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

7 Reasons I know I'm cool

You decide which are sarcastic.

1) I dreamt I went back to the future with Marty McFly in the DeLorean from Seth's grandparents' farm in Texas, but they hadn't figured out the flux capacator fully yet, so it was short lived.
2) I spent my Friday night grocery shopping and baking
3) All of the Christmas presents I've bought so far are wrapped and under the tree
4) I made stew last night involving a whole bottle of wine. Recipe here. You're welcome
5) It is impossible for me to get a bundt cake out of the pan without half of the crust breaking off
6) I've watched this video several times now. To save you clicking on the link I'll just tell you, it's a baby that is only soothed by a Notorious B.I.G. song
7) I've got dough in the works for making breakfast pizza today!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Books!

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
by Alexandra Fuller

Honestly, I picked this up from the library because I was intrigued by the title. This is the memoir Alexandra wrote about her mother Nicola, living in Africa in the middle of the century. I'll let Indie Bound sum it up

"A story of survival and madness, love and war, loyalty and forgiveness, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is an intimate exploration of the author's family. In the end we find Nicola and Tim at a coffee table under their Tree of Forgetfulness on the banana and fish farm where they plan to spend their final days. In local custom, the Tree of Forgetfulness is where villagers meet to resolve disputes and it is here that the Fullers at last find an African kind of peace. Following the ghosts and dreams of memory, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is Alexandra Fuller at her very best."

It didn't draw me in immediately, but by the end I felt like I just wanted to be friends with her crazy mom to hear about their lives in Africa from her personally.

The Lacuna
by Barbara Kingsolver

My obsession continues. In this novel she writes about Harrison W. Shepard, an author growing up in the midst of the war and Red Scare in Mexico and the States. Most of it is written from his perspective in journal form, with newspaper clippings thrown in. At one point the Shepard even works for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and Lev Trotsky. I wasn't completely enthralled from the beginning but Kingsolver pulls through and I read the last 200 pages in 2 days over the Thanksgiving weekend.

I'm out of her non-fiction to read now I think so I'm going to have to find some of her essays and fiction to read now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Egg Nog


A few Christmases ago my mom gave me a recipe box with handwritten family recipes. It's probably my favorite gift I've ever gotten. Anyways, a few days ago I busted out the egg nog recipe from my grandma to make it for our tree decorating. It's tradition, just like listening to the Amy Grant Christmas Album.

Beat 3 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar and a pinch of salt. Add to 3 cups warm milk. Heat until it goes the back of a wooden spoon, stirring constantly. Now, if you live where its cold, you can put it outside in the snow. Otherwise, put it in the fridge until cool.


Before serving, beat 3 egg yolks and pinch of salt until stiff. Then mix in 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp of vanilla. This is when I totally appreciate my stand mixer because you can just turn it on and walk away (to take pictures)


Stir in egg yolks to the milk mixture using a whisk. Now depending on how thick you like the mixture you can either just slightly mix it in or use a mixer to mix it a little better.


Top with nutmeg and enjoy :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Here!

My favorite time of the year!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day of Turkeys

Oh what a relaxing weekend we had. I finished a book, knitted a failed baby bootie, ate a lot, watched the Muppets (which is SO GOOD) and slept mucho. How wonderful.






Thursday, November 24, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving. It mostly represents the beginning of the Christmas season for me. But I do love the food, the Macy's day parade and spending time with some of my favorite people. To help myself reflect I decided to write about things I am thankful for today, in list/picture form.

0) God. He is inherently a part of and the cause for all of these.

1) My husband. I'm thankful we're married. I'm also thankful he'll spend all Saturday cleaning with me, then yell at me for wearing my dirty socks on our clean floors. I'm thankful for the ways he challenges me and cares for me and loves me. I'm one lucky girl.
2) My family. Particularly my nephew, who is awesome. I'm thankful for my parents who are more adventurous than I am and show me you should always go for your dreams. And my sister and brother in law who love me deeply and give generously. You cannot get any better. 2b) My new family! I am beyond blessed with such fantastic in-laws, from super fun new sibs, to amazing grandparents and a lovely mother and father-in-law. God is good.
3) Friends, new and old. It is so good to know you have the best friends in the world, who despite thousands of miles, still respond to my ridiculous emails about Ryan Gosling, know what to say when I'm in spiritual crisis, and are in general amazing people.
And new friends who do crazy stuff with you, including braving harsh winds, sleeping in the same tent and playing Tiddlywinks.
4) Traveling. I love that I'm a plane ride away from new experiences and I was blessed to get to go to some sweet places this past year (including AZ, Cancun, and more places in TX)!

5) My house. Which means a place to cook, do crafts, sleep, spend time with friends and laze around. This rental will always be the first place I lived with my husband and I genuinely love it. And now, things that don't need explanation/pictures
6) Good books
7) That I have a job
8) My health
9) Shows like Parks & Rec and Modern Family
10) My mattress. I love it.
11) Pictures
12) Camping
13) Online banking
14) Cranberry Banana bread
15) New clothes
16) Laughter.
17) you!

Bottom line here, I'm crazy blessed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars


Lets be honest, I'm sure you've got tons of extra time and lack of ideas for things to bake/make today, right? I mean, its not like there is a holiday completely based on eating delicious things soon... haha just kidding. But I did want to share these super delicious homemade granola bars I made because I just uploaded the pictures.

I modified this recipe from Smitten Kitchen (which is a superb website, btw).


Ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flaxseed (I took whole flaxseed and used by coffee bean grinder)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (I chose sunflower seeds, dried granberries, golden raisins and regular raisins)
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey

**differences from the original - I added more regular oats and used flaxseed and wheat germ instead of oat flour. I also used brown sugar instead of regular sugar.
To start I just dumped all the ingredients together in a bowl in whatever order I happened to grab things in and mixed away with a wooden spoon. The original recipe calls for dry vs wet ingredient mixing, I just skipped that.

Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and dump the mixture in. and press it so its even. Now, I turned on my oven to 350 since I forgot to preheat it. I baked mine for 30 minutes since I think my oven is a little hot-tempered. Just got for a little brown on top. Then they'll look like this:


Super delicious looking. Now I let mine cool in the pan all the way, pull out the parchment paper and cut into bars. I wrapped mine in plastic wrap and enjoyed them all week long!

Happy Day

Granted this day was several weeks ago, but look what I got in the mail!


Our wedding album! Hooray! The amazing Kimberly Jarman took our pictures and as part of our package I color corrected our images so I have all 1,024 images on my hard drive. I actually used a Groupon for My Pic Tales to make it. There's something about holding the book that tells the story of our day that makes me incredibly happy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Embarrassing

Today, after a long 13 hours at work I stayed up until 9 am (okay, it's now 11:31 but that's not the point) to watch the Farewell Regis show. I have had a mild love affair with the Live with Regis and Kelly ever since I graduated college and didn't have a job and had time to watch daytime TV. They're hilarious and charming and entertaining. Well, today was Regis Philbin's last day on the show.

Since we don't have TV channels because our TV is old and has no digital converter box and, no, we can't get one to work, I had to go to the gym to watch it. I elipiticized for 45 minutes and walked on the treadmil for 20 in order to watch the final show. The embarrassing part is I may have cried a little during the show...at the gym....in public...

don't judge me.

P.S. In order to stay up til 9 I took a detour to Target to return something and ended up buying a $7 purse, Christmas lights and some deodorant....this is real life folks.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

PackBacking

Last weekend Seth and I went with a few friends to Guadalupe Forest National Park and backpacked at McKittrick Canyon. It was Seth's first trip and my first trip without my family (which meant I had to carry more than a day pack).

The first night we just camped on some bureau of land management land, woke up and headed into the park to get our backcountry passes. It was a 7.5 mile hike in, the first 3 miles were through the canyon and gorgeous with their fall leaves. The last part was a 2500 foot elevation gain with some fierce winds. Thankfully my loving husband was there to hold my hand for the scary parts. That night we spent 13 hours in our tent only venturing out to cook, pee and hook our rain fly back on. Thankfully the next morning was much nicer.


Making breakfast burritos, fried spam and hot chocolate for breakfast.


The view into the canyon on the second day.

After we were done! Sorry about the poor framing due to my lack of self-timer skills.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Confessions of a Wanna-be-Hippie: Part II


I listen to the Joy the Baker Podcast from Homefries.com. Its pretty fantastic.

One of their episodes was about hippie-ness. They talked about home beauty remedies including using coconut oil for conditioner and using baking soda for shampoo. I went home and promptly used it as well. It makes your hair super squeaky clean. Literally, squeaky.

Bottom line of this story is I've only done it once. I'm not hooked yet, but may try it again.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Confessions of a Wanna-be-Hippie

My three best friends from college and I have been emailing back and forth about starting a cohort farming system in Virginia. This stems from our secret desire to be hippies, live off the land, get out of the rat race, grow our own food and let our (future) children run around the compound naked. I also want dreads, but that's another story. This blog happens to be about my hippie-issue with incense.

Anyways, on our honeymoon our resort left us incense in our bathroom. I know, super romantic. We used it and liked it, the candlewood smell and all. Right after we moved to Lubbock Seth bought me some "earth" scented incense on a run to Target (the mecca of hippie goods...ha ha), unfortunately, I didn't have an incense holder. Until this morning the sticks have simply been smelling up my cupboards. This morning I happened to find an incense holder at the grocery for $1.29. I camp home and promptly set up my incense, even before I put the chicken breasts in the freezer. Well, the issue started when I accidentally blew the ash on to my tablecloth. Then, I tried to wipe it off onto my hand, which just proceeded to rub the ash into the tablecloth. Now I just have to wash the tablecloth, which doesn't seem like a very hippie thing to do. Maybe next time I'll get it right.

On my next "confessions" blog post I'll talk about my latest green hair washing adventure.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Camping

We went camping this past weekend at Caprock State Canyon. It was really refreshing to get away from town even if it was just for a night. Enjoy these photografias.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Things I love: morning rounds

This post maybe should be dedicated to how much I love Sprouts! Really, their produce cannot be beat (at least around here), their bulk spice section is the new love of my life and its the only place I can get everything bars. (I don't know what they're actually called but they taste like peanut butter and are awesome).

Last week I got a coupon in my inbox for FREE Ozery Morning Rounds. (Another reason I love sprouts - coupons for free stuff). Anywho, this last Monday after I got done locking my keys in my car at the gym after work and having to call my roadside assistance so they would come unlock my car an hour later I decided to pick mine Morning Rounds up and I may have just fallen in love with them. They're like a pita, sort of, but with no pocket, and they're smaller and fatter, but not by much. Weird description, but I thoroughly enjoy them. This particular kind is cranberry, but they also had an apple spice option. I've eaten them just toasted with no topping so far, but I'm thinking a little apricot preserves would be delicious. yummo

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bites!

I was inspired last week and made some pretzel bites. Taken from Pennies on a Platter.

Salted Pretzel Bites

Yield: 48 bites

1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-2 Tablespoons coarse salt

1) Combine the yeast, 1 tsp brown sugar, and warm water in a large bowl. Set aside until foamy, 5-8 minutes. In another bowl, stir together the remaining 2 Tbsp brown sugar and warm milk until dissolved.

2) Add 2 1/2 cups flour and milk mixture to the yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Add the remaining flour as needed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times, forming a smooth ball.

3) Brush the inside of a large clean bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, draft free area for about 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size and bubbles appear on the surface.

4) Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands with flour. Roll one of the four sections into a 12-inch rope. Cut into 12 1 1/2-inch pieces and transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining 3 portions of the dough.

5) Let rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Again, if using instant yeast you may choose to skip this step as it only requires one rise.) Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400˚F.

6) Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Boil pretzels in batches, cooking about 20 seconds each, turning once. They should be slightly puffed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them back to the baking sheets. Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 15 minutes.

7) Brush warm pretzel bites with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature. Eat 5 immediately.