Blog Slacker

OK OK, I'll admit it...it has been over a week since I last posted!  I'm sorry guys!  Mostly, I'm sorry me :) This blog has been something that, as much as I appreciate those very few of you who read it, I have done for myself.  I wanted to start documenting my life as a newly wed, before we start a family, and hopefully after as well.  I want to keep track of all of our adventures, and even just our lovely nights in!  Unfortunately, not only have I been slacking on blogging, and tweeting...but I've been missing out on some great picture opportunities!  Two weekends ago, I visited Shae in Chicago...first time I've seen her in two years and I didn't take a single picture (though I think she has some she needs to email me!).  And Christmas was last weekend...my camera never made it out of my purse.  We had six, that's right, count them, SIX Christmases in three days, saw lots of people and didn't take any pictures.  Well, I am insistent on changing that, starting tonight! It is New Years Eve and we have some fun plans with Brooke and Ryan and I promise to take pictures! =)

To be honest, I've had posts in my head and just have been to busy to sit down and write it all out.  But one thing I definitely wanted to post about were some of my favorite Christmas gifts.  So, sorry for the lack of pictures, but here is my list of favorites this year:
4. Money for Vegas!!
5. Iced coffee tumbler (not the same one, but similar)

What were some of your favorite gifts?


Easy, Healthful, Flavorful

I know, I know...two back-to-back food posts.  I must be obsessed or something.  Well, for those of you out there who didn't think the Pad Thai looked healthy enough or natural enough (Though might I add, it is all Gluten Free and low-fat), the next night we made an all organic meal and simply added seasonings!  It is sooo easy and so delicious.  And not that you couldn't have figured out good flavors for yourself, I thought I would share some of our seasoning techniques.

First off, the main course was a chicken breast we split because it was BIG!  Many of our favorite seasoning choices include cajun, italian, and jerk.  This night, we used a spice from Penzey's called Northwoods.
As you can see, we used the George Foreman
All finished, ready to split
We also included a side of green beans and a side of potatoes.  Let's start with the green beans.  This is the easiest way to cook really flavorful green beans!  If we don't have fresh green beans in season, we prefer Trader Joe's Haricot Vert.  They are skinnier green beans and taste so fresh, like they were picked that morning.  All we do is put them in a microwave safe dish, we use the steamer from Pampered Chef, spray a couple of pumps of spray butter and get this, use steak seasoning (thanks for the suggestion mom!).  That is it and they are delicious.

Finally, the potatoes are pretty easy too.  This time around, we used the teeny tiny potatoes from Trader Joe's, but we often just use the B-sized red potatoes and cut them in half.  Make sure you rinse the potatoes, but leave the skin on.  Add 1 tbsp olive oil, to coat the potatoes and season with rosemary, garlic salt, and black pepper.  There are two ways you can cook these.  In the over, they will get a little crunchy/chewy, and they're great that way.  But they are quicker in the microwave.  So we popped 'em in the microwave for about 6-7 minutes, until they you can easily poke a fork through the.  Trust me, these are good potatoes.

Doesn't our final product look yummy?

If you have any suggestions on good ways to cook chicken or other veggies.  Please share! We're always looking for good new recipes that make eating healthier easier.


Our Favorite Meals - Pad Thai

There is a restaurant in Davenport called Exotic Thai and it is phenomenal!!  But we try to not go out to eat too often, especially to the same place too many times.  So one time, we were strolling through HyVee, our local grocery store, in the "oriental" section (I hate that word) and we saw Pad Thai sauce...sounds yummy.  So we checked out the recipe on the back and picked up all the necessary ingredients.  The first time we made it, it was really good, but not spicy enough...so we have made some alterations to that original recipe.  We buy chili oil to cook in instead of regular veg/olive oil, and we had chili garlic sauce to the pad thai sauce.  We also add broccoli or some other veggie, even though it only calls for chicken or shrimp.

It takes about a half an hour to do it all, if you time it right.  You start off by soaking the noodles (25 minutes).  While they are soaking, you cut the green onions and chop the peanuts (we didn't have peanuts last night).  Also, now is the time to prepare your meat.  If it's shrimp, you pretty much just have to remove the tail.  If it's chicken, you cut the raw chicken breast into little pieces.  Once all that is done, and following the recipe on the back, you see how much time is left for the noodles and start cooking.  I'm not posting the whole recipe right now, but if you really want it, shoot me an email.  But like I said, we kind of alter it for our own tastes.  You could buy the "A Taste of Thai" pad thai sauce and rice noodles and follow the recipe yourself and make the alterations you see fit.  Here are some yummy pics...enjoy! =)

Some shots of most of our ingredients:

Side note: This chopped cilantro from Trader Joe's is awesome!! It's so convenient! Yumm yum yummmmm

The beginning of the cooking process:

It's all done! DELICIOUS!


Book Club - Nineteen Minutes

Oh my gosh, I am so behind on blogging about this.  Well, I'm actually a little behind on blogging in general.  Hopefully we can all recognize that this is a busy time of year and unfortunately I have been neglecting my blog!  I promise it will all change after the new year!!  But for now, let me catch you all up on book club.

Nearly two weeks ago now, our beautiful book club met and discussed our first official book club book, "Nineteen Minutes."  Have you ever read this book?!  Without sharing too much, the book centers around a school shooting that happens at a high school in New Jersey (no, it's not based on a true story).  The book starts off a little scattered because it introduces all of the characters, mostly students in the high school.  As the crime scene and court case unfold, you learn more about the relationships between all of the characters: kids, parents, police officers, judge, siblings, etc.  It was truly an amazing book, probably because it felt so real.  I have never cried while reading a book before....that's right, did you hear me?


I have NEVER cried while reading a book before...until now.  And I even cried twice!  I would definitely recommend this book, as long as you aren't looking for a perfectly happy and funny book.  It is definitely a good book, and great for book club!

Next on the agenda: "1984."  I am so pumped to read it!  But no joke, I wasn't kidding when I said this is a very busy time of year, I haven't even started the book yet!  I will have it done by our next book club though.  And if any of you want to join in, you can leave comments on my blog as to what you thought about the book we read if you have read it too!

Happy Christmas week everyone!! =)


Sunday Special - Stephanie B

Stephanie is another one of my good high school friends who luckily is STILL one of my great friends!  Stephanie and I started our friendship during freshman year of high school.  We definitely knew each other before that through church and activities...but we truly didn't become good friends until high school.  Stephanie has always been someone who is really easy to talk to and has excellent advice.  She doesn't hide anything from you, is always very honest, but also very sentimental and caring.  Often times, when we get together, we have a deep and meaningful conversation, a reminiscing session, a crazy drunk night out, and a laughing attack, all in one night.  It never fails that I have an awesome time when I see Steph and I always look forward to the next time I get to see her!  Stephanie and Kyle are getting married next year, in Dubuque!  I am blessed to be able to be their singer and I can't wait to find out what music we decide on. :)

Stephanie, thank you for all of the fun times, the funny times, the crying times, the crazy times, and the loving times.  You are a great friend and I can't wait to see you again!
Florida Freshman Year
Steph, Lindsey and I during choir...sophomore year?
Visiting Alli in IC
Iowa City two years later!
Out in Davenport a few months ago
So excited to see Steph a couple weeks ago!!
Stephanie, Adrienne, and me night out in DPort
Stephanie and her fiance, Kyle


Jesus Take the Wheel

My sister posted part of this song as her Facebook status the other day.  And not only is it a beautiful song, but the message is truly amazing.  I think that sometimes, I need to not be afraid to leave some of my decisions and emotions to God and let him help decipher my next move.  Since TJ died, I have had a very difficult time getting motivated to go to church, to pray, sometimes even to believe.  But there are moments, when I see someone else suffering and looking for guidance, and I can sense that they are praying, that they are depending on God to get through this, they are letting Jesus take the wheel.  I think my relationship with God is very fragile right now, and I am still angry and struggling to understand.  But to echo what a friend told me (and I may have posted before), accidents happen, and God is there for us after the fact to help us survive it.  I am trying so hard to open up to God again, because I do believe it will help me...but something is holding me back, like I have a wall  up or something.  But little reminders like this song, or my friends saying "I love you" even if I didn't do anything special, or the generosity of people this time of year, help me know that I might be a little off course, but God didn't disappear, he's just waiting until I'm ready to let him take the wheel.

Jesus Take the Wheel

She was driving last Friday on her way to Cincinnati
On a snow white Christmas Eve
Going home to see her Mama and her Daddy
With the baby in the backseat

Fifty miles to go and she was running low
On faith and gasoline
It'd been a long hard year

She had a lot on her mind and she didn't pay attention
She was going way too fast
Before she knew it she was spinning
On a thin black sheet of glass

She saw both their lives flash before her eyes
She didn't even have time to cry
She was so scared
She threw her hands up in the air

Jesus, take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can't do this on my own

I'm letting go
So give me one more chance
To save me from this road I'm on
Jesus, take the wheel

It was still getting colder when she made it to the shoulder
And the car came to a stop
She cried when she saw that baby in the backseat
Sleeping like a rock

And for the first time in a long time
She bowed her head to pray
She said I'm sorry for the way
I've been living my life

I know I've got to change
So from now on tonight

Jesus, take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can't do this on my own

I'm letting go
So give me one more chance
To save me from this road I'm on

Oh Jesus, take the wheel
Oh, I'm letting go

So give me one more chance
Save me from this road I'm on
From this road I'm on
Jesus, take the wheel
Oh, take it, take it from me
Oh, why, ooh

YouTube video if you want to hear it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lydBPm2KRaU


Sunday Special - Shae Colett

Where to even begin?  Shae is one of the few people who actually has enough drive, resources, talent, encouragement, and personality to live out her dreams.  She truly knows how to follow her heart and intuition.  I have always been so proud of Shae and everything she has accomplished, and I still am.  She is currently living in San Francisco, still dancing her little heart out!  Though personally, I think the Midwest could use her back here... ;) But in all honesty, I couldn't be more happy for Shae and everything she has accomplished before the age of 25!

Shae was one of my best friends in high school, and luckily, despite the distance, we continue to remain good friends with tons of good memories to look back on.  She was always such an amazing friend, for example: One night, we had rehearsal run really late for one of our plays, and I still had to go home and study and prepare for my physics test first thing in the morning.  In the morning, while I was studying in the classroom before the test, Shae brought me a card, a white chocolate Hershey bar, and a cappuccino and wished me luck on the test!  And that's the kind of friend she has always been to me...and I only hope I have returned the favor!

Shae, you are an inspiration to me and I am so proud to know you.  Thank you for all of the great memories and I look forward to making more with you.  <3 you!
LP Car wash
Homecoming Senior Year
Shae's Bday after FAME...the froggie blanket I gave her!
At Internationals for Godspell...BIG smiles!
All the girls right before we left for college
Freshman year of college, home visiting :)
New Years 2006
Last time I saw Shae :( Almost two years ago...


It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas...

It started to snow yesterday while I was at work...huge, slowly falling, perfect snow flakes.  Luckily, Ryan and I had already planned an entire day in for today!  I woke up this morning to find a beautiful winter wonderland outside my window.

Our agenda for today:
1. Sleep in (already failed, but he still is)
2. Make brunch....yummmm
3. Watch Love Actually

4. Enjoy some wintery drinks (I might have to leave the apt to get some hot cocoa!)

5. Put up our Christmas tree (I'll post pics when it's done) while listening to Christmas music
6. Watch more movies (I think Uncle Buck is on the list!)
7. Enjoy chili that's been cooking in the crock pot

8. Enjoy some more drinks to get warm and toasty
9. Go to bed whenever we feel like it! :)

Not gonna lie, I'm pretty excited about today!  We finally get a whole weekend at home, to ourselves...we're going to enjoy it!  I do have to do some laundry, but that would have made the agenda look extra boring, haha.  What are your plans today/this weekend?  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I plan to enjoy mine. :)


Book Club

A couple of friends/coworkers started a book club!  Our first book club meeting will be next week, and then monthly after that.  On book club days, I'll post a little review about the book we read and what we're reading next.  The first book we read and will discuss next week is Nineteen Minutes.  We also just made our list for the year, posted below.  If you have read any of the books on the list and know they are no good, let us know before we tackle them!  We tried to include some classics, as well as more recent fiction.  We each came up with three suggestions and drew the random order of the books.  Here ya go!

  1. 1984 - George Orwell
  2. The Weight of Silence - Heather Gudenkauf
  3. Undressing the Moon - Tammy Greenwood
  4. True Love (and Other Lies) - Whitney Gaskell
  5. The Shack - William P Young
  6. A Child Called "It" - Dave Pelzer
  7. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
  8. Gods in Alabama - Joshilyn Jackson
  9. Oogy - Larry Levin
  10. Catcher and the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  11. One Thousand White Women - Jim Fergus
  12. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee


December Goals

Since I had surgery on November 1st, I never got around to making November goals and evaluating my success on my October goals.  So first, here's an evaluation of my October goals:
October Goals

1. Join the Y, and use it at least 3 times a week Finally did this Monday this week!  I'm going tonight for Zumba :)
2. Lose 4-8 pounds  In October, I do believe I lost 4 pounds
3. Write more letters/cards Totally!!
4. Weekly girls night This kinda flopped, but we made up for it with a girls weekend in Omaha in November!
5. Ride bike twice a week, one long ride, and at least one shorter (1 hour) ride Unfortunately, I didn't get out as much as I wanted...I probably rode my bike 1-2 times a week, but I only took one long ride in the entire month
6. Be able to run two miles by the end of the month I have yet to test myself on a treadmill, or track, but now that I'm finally a member of the Y, I'll be able to track this better.

OK, based on some of those evaluations, this time of year, and my current mood :), here are my December goals:
1. Send care package to adopted soldier
2. Take Zumba twice a week and work out two other times a week
3. Finish book club book (another post)
4. Finish Christmas shopping by Dec 15, wrap gifts by Dec 20, send cards by Dec 24.
5. Make New Year's Eve plans
6. Skype more


Sunday Special - My Daddy

I know it's been a couple of weeks since I've done a Sunday Special.  Ryan and I have been quite busy!  But I have been planning this one since my last Sunday Special anyway, so here it finally is:

I decided to dedicate this special to my father.  My dad, Paul, has been such a rock in my life.  I feel so blessed that I have been able to have such a good father-daughter relationship, because I know that some of my friends cannot talk to their dads they way I can talk to mine. I have always felt so loved and so appreciated, and for that I am grateful.  Sometimes, I swear my dad tries to embarrass me in front of my friends...lol.  Well, at least when I was younger, I thought that A LOT!  He's always telling really cheesy jokes and trying to act "cool"...kind of like the dad in Modern Family.  But he always knows how to make me laugh, even when I was trying to be really mad at him.  I love you dad, thank you for always being there for me and making me smile when you've know I needed to.
Dad, me and Emily
Barenaked Ladies concert Summer 2009
Barenaked Ladies concert Spring 2010
Emily and Dad during our Florida vacation!
Toasting at my wedding
Walking me down the aisle, I love you dad!


I Am Thankful For...

Today is wonderful day full of good food, good football, and wonderful family!  Before our festivities begin, I just wanted to take a moment to share some things I am thankful for!

1.  I am thankful for my job.  It might not be my ultimate career choice, but I am happy where I work, I have great coworkers, and I am so grateful that through this tough economic time, we have both been blessed with steady jobs that allow us to lead a comfortable lifestyle.

2. I am thankful for my husband.  I know this is an obvious one, but we've only been married 7 months, so it's still fun to say "husband"!  Even before he was my husband, I always felt so lucky to have him in my life.

3. I am thankful for my family.  We aren't perfect, but we're overflowing with love and I have benefited so much from that.  

4. I am thankful for my friends.  You all know who you are!  I'm not going to be able to post pictures of all of you right now, but thank you for always knowing how to be there for me when I need you and making me smile.

5. I am thankful for memories.  I feel so blessed to have known people in my life who are no longer with us.  I miss them so much, but love my ability to remember the good times and I know that they will never be forgotten.