Thursday, August 28, 2008

Food Friday

This is my version of Honey Mustard Chicken. It's quick, it's super easy, and it's y-u-m-m-y! It received a "It's really good!" from McDreamy. If it's not McDreamy approved, it doesn't get written up. (Well...maybe not every time, but I do want to make most of my foods friendly to everybody!) I do want to let you know up front, my 'secret ingredient' in this is curry powder. If you're not a fan, you might want to give this one a skip. However, if you're adventurous and daring - give this a try! It makes my taste buds sing, and I hope it will do the same for you!

Click the above image to see the full recipe.
(Or, check out my new recipe box on my sidebar!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Testing, testing....

As I've mentioned before, I love to cook. I love to read through cookbooks...okay, I love to read through cookbooks multiple times. I love to watch the Food Network and try and learn all kinds of crazy things from those chefs that just know SO MUCH about everything. I try to soak it all in, and then I run into my kitchen, and try and see if I can apply anything that I have learned. Many times, I will get a hankering to make a meal that I've never made before. Then I'll sort through all the information I have in my head about foods similar to that, and jot down ingredients I think will work. Then I shop. And then I go home, and attempt to create it. And since this is my blog, and I can do what I want here, I'm going to start posting the recipes that I've succeeded at attempting. Sound fun? I know some of you are cringing at the thought of getting enjoyment out of cooking. And some of you are stressing out. But if you're like me, and find the kitchen world entertaining...join me on this little adventure! Sorry if you're not the food junkie I am...I can't help it (it's in my genes!!!) Really-it is.

Last Friday McDreamy said he was craving Italian, so I decided instead of making the standard spaghetti and meatballs, I'd make lasagna. I've made lasagna before, and liked it...but haven't loved it. So I made some mental notes, and when I got home, I tried it out. We both decided it was delicious, and it really hit that "soul food" spot on the tongue. Comforting, rich, a little bit special. So I'm pleased to share it with you. You may not want to use this as a staple lasagna recipe, because let's face's not figure friendly. But, for a special occasion or meal, this suits very nicely. If you'd like-try it out. If you hate it, let me know. If you like it, let me know. I am no self-proclaimed anything, let alone a chef. I love input and opinions! Please share!
I don't know how to do fancy things with this blog click this picture above and it will pop up the full recipe with picture. Enjoy...and have fun!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Vacation Vignette #2: Tropical Paradise

Finally-as promised, here it is. The 2nd Vacation Vignette. I told you I would do it tonight, and I did. I just wanted to remind you I'm good at my word. So without further ado, here it is.

Coming from the Midwest, we are used to seeing lots and lots of green. Green trees, green grass, green pastures, green plants. Green. We're also used to seeing normal everyday animals, such as robins, chickens, cows, crows, squirrels, cats, dogs, deer, occasional mice, etc. You get the picture.
On vacation, those 'normal everyday' plants, trees, animals weren't there. Of course, the first thing out-of-towners notice when visiting Florida, is the palm trees. EVERYWHERE. I didn't take a picture of the palms trees, because well...everybody has seen them. But nonetheless, they are everywhere there. I didn't see one single oak or maple or birch tree while we were there. I kind of liked the change in tree scenery.

The second thing I noticed were the lizards. Lizards, you ask? Oh yes. Lizards. And not just one here or there. They're everywhere. I eyed the first one after just pulling up to our condo and crossing the sidewalk. Initially, I thought it was a little birdie scurrying across the pavement. But then I took another look, and saw this guy:
Gross. Then I saw his brother, and his dad, and his mom, and cousins, and aunts & uncles, and grandparents. They scurried across the pavement surrounding our pool, and the sidewalks lining the roads. I was a little afraid to walk through the grass, for fear of accidentally stepping on one. Yikes! Here's the last picture I have of those creepy little slimy things. I wasn't brave enough to take more than that.
Yeah-I don't like them either. Sorry to subject you to the sliminess of these little creatures. But my vignette about the 'tropics' wouldn't be complete without it.

The third thing that caught my eye were all the gorgeous, unique, never before seen by my eye flowers and plants. And they were everywhere. In abundance. Just looking at them made me smile. There was one day where it stormed really hard, and right after it stopped, I grabbed my camera and headed outside. These are the shots I took. And I apologize-I wish I knew the names of these beautiful creations, but I don't.

There were many many many more beautiful flowers and plants there. But these were my favorite. God is so amazing to put a touch of His beauty on His creation. It's simply breathtaking, isn't it?

Post of SummerFall

Okay okay. I KNOW that this is still not Vacation Vignette #2, but I will post that tonight. I will. I will!
In the mean time…a while ago I saw the Post of Summer at The Slug Blog, and I got inspired. I suppose I could do that, but I wanted to change it up a bit. Today is August 22, which means in 4 weeks, it will be Autumn. I know that some of you are groaning and moaning about summer leaving us. I love summer. I do. But I don’t mind it leaving us. What I moan and groan about is the impending doom of the long cold blistery winters. However, before Antarctica settles in for a solid 6 months, we here in the Midwest get to experience this beautiful season called Fall. And, I’m so glad…because it’s my favorite season. So, as a tribute to Fall, let’s give this a shot. Share with me what you are looking forward to! What are the things that make you love Autumn? I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Drink that makes me Love Fall : Fresh Apple Cider!
I am very much looking forward to getting FRESH apple cider from the orchard and drinking it warmed on a crisp cool Autumn evening.

Food that makes me Love Fall : Butternut squash soup!
There is something so…fall-ish about this! It’s earthy and hearty and smooth and warm…and beautifully orange!

Television Series I’m Most Looking Forward to Returning this Fall : The Office
It’s just been gone for soooooo long. I cannot wait for September 25th!

Movie Most Likely To See This Fall BOO!
I WAS going to put Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but dang WB, because of that, I’m not answering!

Clothing Item That Makes you Love Fall: The Sweatshirt!
The sweatshirt is by far my favorite favorite item of clothing…and let’s face it…you can’t wear a sweatshirt when it’s 95 degrees outside!

Expected Destination That Makes you Love Fall: The Apple Orchard.
It’s the crisp cool autumn air, coupled with the scent of fresh apples, dirt, trees, and all those delicious Fall treats that they have.

Favorite Activity that Makes You Love Fall: Four wheeling at the cabin.
Out of any season, four wheeling in the Fall at the cabin, is my all time favorite

Favorite Place that Makes You Love Fall: The Cabin
It’s not even my cabin, (Thank you Thank You Jess) but I love it. I love it in all seasons. BUT, The Cabin in the Fall takes the cake. It is indescribable.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jesus Moments

I know this isn't the 2nd vacation vignette as promised. However, I feel compelled to share something with you, and feel I'd be remiss if I didn't.
As I vaguely call out on my sidebar, I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. He's my Savior and my Lord. Even after saying this, sometimes I find myself forgetting what it fully means to say that. However, Jesus doesn't forget, and always seems to demonstrate it when we're least expecting it, but most needing it.
There is a storm that I have personally been dealing with for a long long time. Over the years, it will increase to incredible heights, and then recede. It seems to be a perpetual cycle. During those moments, or days of increased strife, I quickly lose my footing. I don't forget that Jesus is there. I just feel disconnected and removed. I attempt to pray, to seek my Lord and ask for guidance and discernment. And I wait, hoping to hear His voice, or feel His hand on the situation. But inside I feel alone, I feel desperate, and unsure, and I feel a deep deep sadness and hurt and pain. And instead of looking for my Savior, I find myself looking for my fixer. "Lord, somehow, please fix this! I can't bear this burden, I can't carry this anymore. I am desperate, and I need this to pass!" and I wait...hoping that somehow, the storm will disappear, the hurt will lessen. And while I wait...I become more and more desperate, grasping for anything that will make it "better." But I am so overwhelmed by all the feelings and emotions, that I feel myself becoming less joyful. More guarded. So obsessed with trying to get myself "out" of the storm. A cycle that continues until I feel so completely drowned, alone and hopeless, I am unable to take another step. The idea that "This will never end. I give up. I can't handle this or beat this" runs and reruns in my head.
I have been in that storm for a few days now, and my spirit just feels broken. Just like any morning commute, I had my radio set to the Christian station here. I like the "feel good" chatting and the uplifting music. Most mornings, the words on the radio just kind of melt in the air around me. I don't really take them in...I just like knowing that they are "there." This morning however, my Jesus decided to remind me that he's not my fixer, but my SAVIOR. A song came on the radio. Not a new song, but a song I've heard many times, and sung many times. I believe it was originally written by Hillsong and titled "Mighty To Save." Today, a sweet, clear, crisp woman's voice came through my speakers. My ears perked up, and I reached to turn the volume dial up. And although I've heard this song so many times before, I actually heard it this morning. This is what I heard.

Everyone needs compassion, A love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me. Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior, The hope of nations

My Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save, He is Mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me, All my fears and failures
And fill my life again. I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in. Now I surrender

Shine your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King...Jesus

After the first few words of the song, I felt the Spirit of my Jesus sweep over me. He was speaking to me. I heard Him tell me how mighty He is to SAVE me, how compassionate He is, how 'never failing' He is. How He is able to wipe away all my fears and my failures. How He can erase the hurt that has corroded my heart. I began to weep. Not tears of sadness, but of overwhelming relief. Of release. Of intense healing. Of restoration. Of joy. Of promise and love. I was overwhelmed that my Lord would come to me and tenderly and lovingly remind me, exactly what it means to call Him my Savior. The tears continued to fall as I spoke to Him, thanking Him for refusing to give up, even though I had. Praising Him for His saving grace and loving Him for reminding me of it. I know a lot of people refer to those moments as moments of divine intervention. However, it seems too impersonal to me. I like to refer to them as Jesus Moments. Moments when I am completely aware that the Spirit of my Jesus is with me, pouring into me, washing over me.
When these moments come, I believe the appropriate response is to share. And I don't know what, if any, storms you may find yourself dealing with. But know that I am praying that our Lord will gently and lovingly remind you, exactly what it means to be your Savior.

P.S. I want to give credit where credit is due. The sweet clear voice I heard on the radio was Laura Story. Beautiful.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Vacation Vignette #1: The Beach

Here it is - I'm going to post about our vacation in groups with pictures, or vignettes, if you will. It helps me keep my thoughts organized, and helps you make some sort of sense out of my ridiculous ramblings.
Of COURSE one of our favorite parts about our trip was the ocean and the beach. We mostly had hot sunny days. All we brought were our beach chairs, our books, our crosswords, our iPods, and our camera. We spent a good chunk of each of the days just soaking up the sun, playing in the waves, digging for shells in thee softest white flour-like sand I've ever seen, and enjoying doing absolutely nothing. I am beginning the long and challenging process of learning about photography. Right now, I have a pretty dull, mundane, boring, run of the mill, point and shoot camera. However, since it's all we've got, that's what I used. So in between running in the big salty waves and sweating and bathing in the sun, I tried my hand at taking some pictures.

That's my steamy McDreamy. He's not a fan of getting his picture taken. Oh well!
(Side note-do you see how beautifully blue the sky is?)

Well, not one of my better looks. Do you see the crusty sand plastered in my hair? And the sun brings out those darn freckles quicker than you can say "macula".
Here he had just come in from shell searching. He's a world renowned Shell Seeker Champion. It's true. More on McDreamy's skills in a future vignette.

The whiteness of the beaches + the blueness of the skies = pure. bliss.

Meet Sal, the Seagull. I spent forever trying to get as close as I could to Sal, without him flying away. And I just shot and shot and shot until I was able to get a picture that I was somewhat happy with. It took me quite awhile, but there he all his glory.

This sweet old man was collecting shells (the brown bag is full of them), and he decided to take a break, and just watch. He plopped his cute little old self down, and sat for quite some time. I didn't know him, but the picture was so cute...I couldn't resist taking one...or two...or three.

Coming soon: Vacation Vignette #2: Tropical Paradise.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Twiddling My Thumbs

I have failed to mention that McDreamy and I went on vacation. A LONG overdue, much needed, sleep-in-the-sun, bathe-in-the-ocean vacation. It was lovely. It was bliss. It was hard to come back! We spent a week at Clearwater Beach in Florida, and although it was HOT and MUGGY, we toughed it out due to all the beautifully cool and refreshing ocean we had at our fingertips. Okay-we didn't "tough it out" at all. We enjoyed every minute of our time there.
All of this to say...we have been back for TWO weeks, and I have been wanting to write about our trip, with all the great pictures we took. However, my pictures are all at home on our computer, not at work. Not a problem normally, but our internet has been down forever, and I'm really getting upset! I have stories and pictures of conch "babies" in their shells, magicians escaping imploding buildings, experiencing FRESH whole crab for the first time, etc etc. And I refuse to write about all those things WITHOUT their corresponding pictures. The pictures complete it! I just wanted to state all the above information, and let you know that eventually, sooner or later (preferably sooner than later) I will have a GIANT GIANT GIANT post of our perfectly wonderful vacation! Coming soon...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fogo de Chao

McDreamy and I just got home from an evening out downtown. We decided to go all out, and celebrate our 2nd year of marriage at Fogo de Chao. For those that don't know-it's a Brazilian Steakhouse, and though the price may take your breath away-it was worth every single penny. We both agreed it was by far, the BEST dinner we've ever had out. EVER. Hands down. 15 different kinds of spit roasted meats: beef tenderloin, filet mignon, sirloin, ribeye, chicken, pork tenderloin, lamb chops, pork ribs - just to highlight a few of the delectable meats that passed our lips. Fresh vegetables, Prosciutto from Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, fire roasted peppers, etc. Delicious. Every single bite. I wanted to try a bit of everything, so I made a great effort to only allow myself a tiny bite of each option. Even so, I don't remember that last time I was this full. The service was some of the best we've ever had. Fogo de Chao is a well oiled machine, and the team they've put together is made to make you feel like you are the only two in existence. And to top it off, our server gave us dessert on the house, in celebration of our anniversary. The 14 block walk back to our place was a good thing...we needed some time to walk off all that food! Sometimes, splurging pays off. Now, enough talk about's time for us to continue our anniversary celebration. Ciao!

Our Day

Today is August 4th. Normal to everyone else...incredibly special to us. As far as I'm concerned, it will forever be the most special of days. The day that my husband and I celebrate the anniversary of our vows and commitment to each other.
To my husband: my love and my life. Happy Anniversary.