Saturday, March 28, 2009

Puppy Love

This is what I see when I'm laying in the floor and I look up onto the couch above me. This makes me smile.

I really love this dog.

I'm so sorry if you're tired of pictures of my dog, but this is what I do on the weekends. I blog about what I do. I apologize I'm not more interesting.

On another note we did decide to redo the wall behind our couch. We've had these shelves up since we moved in, but I wanted to do something a little more updated.

I framed one of my FIL's photographs and ordered some sconces from Etsy to frame the outside. I love the way this turned out and I love the mix of the modern against the colonial look of the sconces. What do you guys think? My only worry is that the picture is too small for the wall. We'll have color on the wall when we get a home so I'm hoping that it won't make everything feel so blank and wide open.

I hope you're all having a good weekend. I took off on Monday, which gives me a nice 3 day weekend w/ Case =) I think as long as we're saving for a home we probably won't be able to go on a vacation this summer, so I think we'll have a lot of long weekends or weekend trips in our future this summer. In a way it'll be nice to take some time off here and there instead of using it all up at once. Vacations can be stressful when you're trying to finish everything up before you leave and the days coming back are not pleasant. Thinking about checking my e-mail after 2.5 weeks off for my wedding makes me break it out hives. Not FUN.

Hope you're all having a good weekend =)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sesame Chicken

Um, YUM! I automatically added this to my recipe rotation. I served it over brown rice and had every intention of adding some sliced peppers and onions, but I ran out of time and got very flustered in the kitchen (that NEVER happens, hah). This isn't one of my light recipes by any means, but it was worth it.

I got this recipe from clstar over at Cook Like a Champion.

Sesame Chicken
(Source: Cook Like a Champion)

1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. toasted sesame seeds, divided
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
1.5 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 package chicken breast strips, cut into chunks
8 tbsp. teriyaki sauce
6 tbsp. honey
oil for frying

In a large Ziplock bag, combine flour, 1/4 c. sesame seeds, black pepper, red pepper and Chinese spice. Place chicken in bag and shake to coat.

Heat oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Place chicken into skillet and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from skillet and empty excess oil from pan.

Reduce heat to low and return chicken to skillet. Mix in teriyaki sauce, honey and 1/4 c. sesame seeds, and stir until sauce thickens. Serve over rice.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Grilled Ham Slices

I found this recipe on Allrecipes and it's quick to make and it doesn't involve many ingredients at all. I used ham steaks, but you can use whatever pieces of ham you would like. I also usually halve the sauce and it's more than enough. I threw together some twiced baked potatoes as a side and it was a great meal. I also used my grill pan due to the lack of our outdoor space. Soon we will have our outdoor space. Soon!

Grilled Ham Slices
(Source: Allrecipes)

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup prepared horseradish
2 slices ham

Preheat grill and lightly oil grate or grill pan.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, lemon juice, and horseradish

Heat the brown sugar mixture in the microwave on high heat 1 minute, or until warm.

Score both sides of the ham. Place on prepared grill and baste continuously with brown sugar mixture while grilling. Grill each side for around 6 minutes per side or until desired doneness.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Baked Oatmeal

I found this recipe on Chelle's blog over on Brown Eyed Baker. She got the recipe originally from Cooking Light. I subscribed to Cooking Light last week b/c I'm really trying to incorporate more light recipes into my rotation. My biggest challenge is finding something that I can take to work that will fill me up that is somewhat good for me. Casey and I both usually grab something processed, whether it be granola bars, pop tarts, or breakfast bars. I saw that Chelle would use this oatmeal throughout the week for breakfast every morning.

Once this is finished cooling, I'm going to portion it out into enough little containers to last Casey and I for the week and all we'll have to do when we get to work is reheat the oatmeal. I already snuck a taste and it was really good! I think the oats will do a good job of keeping me full and you should see more light recipes on my blog in the future and I'll start tagging these recipes as light so that it will be easier to find. I hope I get a lot of new recipe ideas when my magazine starts to come.

Baked Oatmeal
(Source: Cooking Light)

2 cups uncooked oats
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins (or dried fruit of your choice)
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts (or nut of your choice, I used pecans)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups milk
½ cup applesauce
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the milk, applesauce, butter, and egg in a separate bowl. Add milk mixture to oat mixture; stir well. Pour oat mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

He Loves Me

I know this b/c I came home today to a box of Lush bath supplies for no apparent reason other than he loves me =)

I had never heard of or been to a Lush store until I was in Hawaii for our honeymoon. The smell of all of the bath products wafted out on to the strip in Maui and I went in and spent a long time smelling everything I could get my hands on. I've bought several things since then and I'm a big fan.

All of their products are handmade and natural. The packaging is very minimal and it's mostly recycled paper or the products come 'naked' if they're bars.

In my package today I had..

a Vanilla Fountain Bath Bomb (the Honey bee one is awesome too)

a Milk chocolate/toffee Bubble Bar

and a Lavendar Chamomile Dreamtime Bath Melt

The great thing about Lush is that they'll throw in a few small samples of other products to try out. It's a good way to advertise b/c I had the Honey I Washed the Kids Soap in my package today and I would definitely buy it now...

I love products where I feel like people really use their money to put into quality instead of the packaging. I also love the fact that everytime I get a whiff inside a box it makes me think of Hawaii.

It's these little acts of kindness that just make your day =)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Forward

Why didn't anyone tell me that the time changed this weekend? I woke up this morning (and obviously missed church) and could not figure out why my computer and cell phone had a different time than everything else. It was ironic that the weekend we spring forward, we have the most beautiful weather. It's more like Spring trickery, b/c I think it's calling for freezing rain next weekend. I have snow boots beside my flip flops at the front door. I'm so confused!

Either way I thoroughly enjoyed the warm weather while it was around. My old college roommate, Maggie, came down Friday night and it was really good to see her. I think it's been since last Fall that we've seen each other. We actually didn't meet in college, in fact I think we've known each other for about 10 years.

We met Kara at the park on Saturday and we took the dogs out to let them run, but I think they were in shock from the warm weather. It was actually really hot weather and they were both panting and not being very active so we didn't stay long. We went downtown for dinner and Maggie left after dinner to head back home. Casey and I just watched movies and I let myself fall asleep entirely too early.

In case you didn't know haha, a nickname for our town is "The Star City" and someone erected a ginormous star up on one of the mountains in the area in 1949. It's actually the world's largest freestanding man-made illuminated star. That's an interesting claim to fame right there. It's cool to see at night, but there's an outlook that makes it worth viewing during the day. It overviews our downtown area and we drove up there today with Tuck.

After that we rode over to PetSmart and let Tuck pick out a toy and I made him an appointment to get his haircut on Friday. We also drove by another house on the way home. I mentioned in a previous post about a home that we really liked and we listed the drive to and from work as a negative factor. We never put an offer in, but technically we still could if the bank is still holding the previous offer that was made by another couple. Let me list some pros and cons of the homes to give you an idea of what our concerns are.

First Home:

Pros: Good area and school system, low taxes, open floor plan, nice backyard, private area, big basement, big garage, nice parking area, low price (went into foreclosure)

Cons: Further from work, would use interstate A LOT to get to most places, would need a ton of cosmetic work (bathrooms, kitchen, appliances, floors, walls torn down)

Current Home (that we're going to see tomorrow):

Pros: Open floor plan, good area and school system, nice parking area, close to work and convenient area in general, very private wooded lot at the end of a cul-de-sac, nice deck, nice rec room on lower level, work needed would be minimal (flooring and bathrooms need updating), lower price (not as low as the first, but still a foreclosure)

Cons: On a steep hill, wooded lot doesn't allow for much yard even though there is over an acre of land, higher taxes than first home, smaller than the first home, kitchen and all bedrooms are on the upper-level

I know most of you don't care about our housing concerns, but it helps me to lay everything out. It doesn't really help to say this house has more pros than the other b/c some of those pros/cons are very important. We're not going to make an offer on the first home, but I compared the two b/c of all of the homes we've looked at, we've liked that one the most. We're really interested in foreclosures, nice areas, and homes that we can do some type of work to b/c I want good resale value. I don't know that we'll be in this home for 5-7 years, so I would prefer to be able to build some value into it so that if we did have to sell sooner, we would be in a good position.

So that's our situation right now. We're seriously looking, but being pretty picky. Work needing to be done to a home doesn't scare me at all (in fact I can't wait to make things the way I would want them), but we are picky about things related to the resale. I guess I think that's financially a smart way to be picky though. The reason there aren't tons of houses that we like is b/c we've narrowed down where we want to live to 2 or 3 really good areas so things don't pop up extremely often, but I know we'll find the home we're meant to.

Sorry about the house rambling, but it is a big part of our time and concentration right now so you'll probably be seeing a lot of it in my posts =

On another note, earlier today I was making pico de gallo, and listening to music with the deck door open and I could hear birds just singing their hearts out on the porch. It seems like everyone, even the birds, were just absolutely loving this weather today. Now I'm going to have a ridiculously hard time going to bed tonight with this time change and all of the sweet tea I've consumed. Ah well, it's worth it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Potato Soup

I feel like I'm bombarding you guys with posts tonight, but I have the time to catch up on this stuff and I have my new computer finally! I'm actually currently eating the recipe that I'm about to post, so that's up to date blogging at it's finest.

I have no clue where I got this recipe from, but I've used it for a long time and it's really easy to make. The soup always turns out the right consistency which was what I had a hard time with when looking for a potato soup recipe.

Potato Soup

6 medium potatoes diced (I used 4 and it was plenty)
2 carrots diced
3 celery sticks diced (I usually omit the celery)
2 qts of water
1 onion chopped
6 tablespoons margarine (I used butter b/c I was out and I also just bought butter in bulk from Sam's, I'm embarrassed that I just admitted that.. anyway)
6 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 c. milk

In large kettle, cook potatoes, carrots, and celery until tender (around 20 minutes). Drain and reserve liquid and set vegetables aside. In same kettle, saute onion in butter until soft. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper.

Gradually add milk, stirring constantly, until thick. Gently stir in cooked vegetables. Add 1 cup or more (I added around 2 cups) of reserved liquid until soup is desired consistency. Add additional salt and pepper as needed.

Carrot Cake

This surely satisfied my craving for carrot cake on Sunday. I used Pioneer Woman's recipe, check out her post for the recipe and definitely make it if you're on the fence. The pecan cream cheese icing was verrrry good.

As far as notes about this recipe, I didn't change a thing. I did bake mine in a bundt pan instead of a 9x13 so my baking time was closer to the 50 minutes

Also, please excuse the TV in the background. I'm contemplating getting a light box to help with the photography, but I'm still looking around. If you see any great deals on them, let me know b/c I'm still justifying the expense to myself.


I was tagged by Mrs. Laker over on Sweet Country Lovin' and the rules are:

Open the 6th picture folder on your computer, open the 6th photo and blog it. Write something about it. Then tag 6 more people to do the same.

This photo would be a typical night at college. It was taken during the Spring of our first year (we transferred in as Juniors). I don't have anything more to say about it, but it does make me think of college and how much fun we had.

I may do this randomly b/c I love looking at old photos. I'll probably use the random number generator to help me pick which folder I should look in.

Now I'm supposed to tag 6 more people, but it looks like most everyone has been tagged that I was going to tag. If you haven't been tagged and you would like to do this, then let's just say I tagged you =)

Snow Day

We finally, finally got some snow this winter! We got about 5 inches of snow and a nice layer of ice which was enough to make driving impossible. We weren't able to get our cars out until about 4:00 today so needless to say I worked from home today and Casey took a day of PTO.

This was Tuck's first snow so I followed along outside to take some pictures.

I also took a video, but it didn't go quite as well as I had hoped. I ended up throwing my camera all over the place which allowed a nice shot of my monkey pajamas. It was incredibly windy when we were outside so I don't think that helped anything.

I don't get to work from home often so it's always nice when I get to. I stayed curled up in my pajamas and worked from Casey's computer most of the day. Tuck thoroughly enjoyed us being here and he took his spot on the armrest while I was on my laptop.

I'm making potato soup tonight and I'll post the recipe if I manage to get a picture. I also made Beer Bread to go along with it. Yum, there's not much else in life that makes me more content than soup on a snow day. I also have a carrot cake recipe I'll post later too. Happy Monday =)