Friday, December 31, 2010

Stuff I can't live without...

As a girl who loves to cook (and bake!), there are a few kitchen tools that I definitely couldn't live without. And just in case there are any fellow cooking enthusiasts out there, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.

1. Garlic press

I'm fairly certain I didn't register for a garlic press for our wedding because I thought it was a supremely lazy thing to have around. But after about the fourth time that I had to mince garlic for a recipe, I decided that I desperately needed one. And I'm in love with it. I cook a LOT of pasta and use a LOT of gresh garlic, so it was definitely worth the money. :)

2. Scrub brush

When I picked up a relatively soft-bristled plastic scrub brush at Ikea a few years ago for $1, I had no idea it'd become an absolute necessity for washing dishes. I know you can find them at other places, but if you happen to be at Ikea anytime soon, you should definitely pick one up. You can't beat their prices! :)

3. Calphalon Commercial Hard-Anodized 12" Everyday Pan

I bought this pan on Amazon a year or so ago for about $35 (a FANTASTIC price!), and I'm obsessed with it. I love that I can use metal utensils on it, and it is absolutely perfect for carmelizing onions. Wow, that sounds lame. But it's true. This pan would make a wonderful gift for anyone who likes to cook.

4. Olive Oil Bottle

I stumbled upon one of these at Walmart, and I am so thankful that I did because it makes cooking with olive oil a cinch! I use it so often that we just leave it out on the counter by the salt and pepper shakers. I also bought one for liquid dish soap, and I love that it's pretty enough to leave out.

5. KitchenAid Stand Mixer

If I didn't love my Aunt Tammy and Aunt Brigitte before they bought us one of these as a wedding gift, I certainly did afterward! :) Seriously, y'all... it's amazing. It would definitely be a splurge, but you can often get the white mixer for around $150 with a good sale. If you're a baker, this is definitely something you need to have in your kitchen.

6. Pyrex Bakeware Set

This was another wedding gift, and if I could remember who bought it for us, I'd send a huge shoutout their way. It's got just about everything you need to prepare/bake/store food. And maybe I'm the only one, but I really, really hate Saran Wrap, so I just adore the lids.

7. Heavy Whipping Cream

So maybe this one isn't actually a tool, but heck if I care. If you come to my house, you can bet your bank account that I'll have a carton of heavy whipping cream somewhere in my fridge. It's as necessary as air. Or cheese. Or Micah. (Okay, maybe not Micah, but it's pretty close.)

8. Immersion Blender

Micah's dad has one of these, and I always thought it was the coolest thing. If you've never seen an immersion blender, they're small, hand-held blenders that you can put down into liquid-y things to blend/puree them. They're great for cream of vegetable soups, salad dressings, and marinades. The one I have has all of the attachments shown below, which, in theory, seem super cool. But I've never used them. :)

Guest room update...

We FINALLY found plum sheets to go in the guest room, so it's basically done, although I've still got to put something above the bed. My mom is planning on painting something for me that has black, white, plum, and silver in it, and I can't wait to hang it up proudly! She's pretty fantastic. :)

Anyway, so here are a few pictures of the (almost) finished product. We also got our living room furniture today, so I'll post pictures of it soon! :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Two things...

Well, Christmas came and went, and we definitely had a wonderful time visiting with family and remembering the Reason for the season. I'm feeling a little better, although I'm still not at 100% percent. And I spent Thursday evening in the ER, but that's a whole other story. The good news was that the CT scan was negative. And I feel like I'm getting a little better every day, so maybe the head pressure will just magically disappear!

But I really just wanted to drop in and share two things with you.
First, Micah and I bought some furniture a few weeks ago, and some of it came in this weekend! We only intended to buy new living room furniture, but we saw this bed, and it was SUCH a good deal! Plus, I think it's a little more me than the other bed we were looking at. Well, what do you think?
It looks black, but it's actually a rich mahogany brown. And as soon as our new bedding comes in, I'll post pictures of the finished product. :) The living room furniture should arrive sometime next week. Yay!

The second thing I wanted to share is actually a recipe. I posted it last week as part of our Christmas menu, but I ended up not getting my act together last Sunday, so I didn't get to make it for Christmas at my Mamaw's. But I made it tonight, and it was amazing. SERIOUSLY amazing. So check it out here, and make it at your earliest convenience! :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day Fourteen: AGAIN!

Someone (ahem, Lauren) reminded me that I never posted a picture that I love for Day Fourteen of the 30-day blog challenge!

So, at long last, here is a picture that makes me blissfully, incandescently, and undeniably happy. :)

Have faith...

In light of all the bad in the world, it's easy to become a little disenchanted. It's easy to forget about how selfless and giving we humans can actually be.

But, as my friend Ally says, we should have "[f]aith in our wondrous capacity for hope and good, love and trust, healing and forgiveness."

So if you are in need of a little faith, check out this blog post. I'm not even sure how I ended up there, but I'm definitely glad I did. It's always wonderful to be reminded of how much good can come from the generosity of others.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What's been up...

I hate going this long without blogging. It really is such an outlet for me, and I miss it when go too long between posts. But I've had a rough past few days, so you'll have to forgive me.

Driving to work on Friday, I started feeling this pulsating pressure in my head. It wasn't a headache, exactly, but it was incredibly uncomfortable and made driving fairly difficult. When I got to work, I absolutely couldn't concentrate on anything, and I started feeling weak. Thank goodness my sweet Momma works just five minutes away, because she came and got me and took me to an urgent care clinic. They couldn't figure out what was wrong after doing a full neurological exam, pregnancy test, and bloodwork (all negative, thank goodness!).

Since then, the pressure in my head has stayed fairly constant apart from Sunday evening when it went away and I was THRILLED... until it came back the next morning. I thought it might have something to do with a medication I was taking to clear up my skin (thanks for that, bar exam!) and had a checkup with my dermatologist yesterday. But he wasn't sure what was causing it.

This morning, the pressure has decreased slightly, and I went to see an internist, who thinks it could be a side effect from the medication. We're just going to wait a week and see if it goes away. If it doesn't, I'll be headed in for an MRI next week. I'm working and basically fully functional - the pressure is just distracting, and I don't focus very well.

Anyway, I'm sure everything will be fine (although I've definitely had a few freakout moments and have googled every variation of "pressure in my head" that I can think of). God has it all figured out, and I'm at peace about it. I'm just ready to feel better! :)

And if I don't get back here before then, I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas! There are many things for which to be joyful - especially the birth of Jesus Christ!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Menu

Because my brother and Faith AND my mom and Steve are going out of town for Christmas, we're having our Chrismas celebrations with my parents this weekend. Plus, my Mamaw always does her celebration the Sunday before, so I've got a lot of cooking to do this weekend!

Here's what I'm planning on making for each day.

Friday: Christmas with Mom & Steve

Theme: Fondue!

Mom and Steve are handling basically everything, but I am going to make this Chimichuri Sauce as a dipping sauce for the meat. I'm also trying to think of another dipping sauce that I can easily whip up. I will also probably bring these Sausage Balls. I've never tried this recipe, but Mom and Steve love spicy things, so I'm pretty sure they'll be a hit.

Saturday: Christmas with Dad & Lori

Theme: Casual/Meatball Subs & Appetizers!
Lori is fixing a LOT of food, so I didn't want to make too much. I think I'm just going to bring a homemade southwestern ranch dip to go with the veggie tray that Lori's buying, and I'm also going to make this to-die-for Banana Pudding.


Theme: Mexican!
The big-ticket items are already being made (enchiladas, queso, guacamole, etc.), so I'm going to try out a new recipe that looks so intriguing. It's a Mexican Pasta, which sounds so strange, but the pictures look just absolutely delicious. So I'm gonna go for it.

I'm also making some Tortilla Roll-Ups. I'll probably tweak this recipe a bit to make it a bit more southwestern (I'm thinking I'll add in some salsa, cayenne pepper, and grated cheddar to the cream cheese).

Now, I've just got to make the grocery list and send my sweet husband to the store. It's pitiful how bare our fridge and pantry are. :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Greek Pasta Salad

I made this the other night, and I thought I would share because it was delicious!! I made it Sunday evening so it would be ready to go for dinner on Monday, and it kept perfectly (I just added in a little extra olive oil when we were ready to eat it)!

And for those of you who think it's acceptable to use bottled Italian dressing as a sauce (yuck!), this is much better and almost as easy. :)

Greek Pasta Salad

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (don't settle for another kind of vinegar - the red wine has the perfect taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon white sugar
1 package dry Italian dressing mix (I added this in because I like a little more kick than the recipe calls for)
2 1/2 cups cooked {spiral pasta} (the original recipe called for elbow macaroni)
3 cups fresh sliced mushrooms (I left these out because Micah hates them)
15 {grape} tomatoes, halved (the original recipe called for cherry tomatoes)
1 cup sliced red bell peppers (I left these out)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 (4 ounce) can {sliced} black olives (the original recipe called for whole olives)
3/4 cup {sliced pepperoni}, cut into strips (the original recipe called for pepperoni sausage)
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic powder, basil, oregano, black pepper, and sugar. Add cooked pasta, mushrooms, tomatoes, red peppers, green onions, olives, pepperoni, and feta. Toss until evenly coated. Cover, and chill 2 hours or overnight.
Make sure and add the feta last or it'll break down and get chalky. I also added lots and lots of salt - it really brings out the flavors! And the recipe could probably use another can of olives - I ADORE olives! :)

Friday, December 10, 2010


Here's the sky outside my house tonight. High five, God. :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A man worth loving...

A few nights ago, I stayed up much later than I should have re-reading the last Harry Potter book. (Yes, again.) As I was drifting off to sleep, stretching my leg across our way-too-big bed to nudge Micah's toes with mine, I thought about a conversation I had in high school with one of my spiritual heroes.

She shared something with me that honestly defined the way I have approached every relationship I've been in since then. First, she quoted Proverbs 4:23, which says to "[g]uard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." And then she told me to make sure that, when I give my heart away, I give it to a man who is worth loving.

After that conversation, I took a long, hard look at my past relationships and realized that I'd never considered how precious it was to let someone have a piece of my heart. I'd been giving it away without considering the consequences. And even though I always tended to date sweet, good-hearted guys, from that point forward I was a bit more cautious in who I dated.
It wasn't long after that that I started dating Micah.

And the bottom line of this post is that Micah is, without a doubt, a man worth loving.

He's a man worth giving my heart to.

As I was laying there next to him the other night, in awe of God's grace, I wondered how many women can honestly say that about their husbands. I wondered how many women value their heart enough to guard it. To give it away only to a man who is worthy.

Because I look at Micah and know that there's no way that I could find a more worthy man - not only because of the way he treats me but because of how he treats others.

I know that the old lady who was able to park two spots closer to the store because Micah backed up and re-parked to make sure he didn't park his truck too close to the line appreciated him. And I know the store clerk who didn't have to walk the packages of cookies I decided I didn't want all the way back to the right aisle because Micah made me put them back myself appreciated him - even if he never had any clue that they were gone. And I bet that the guy in the car next to us on the highway appreciated that Micah missed his own exit so that he didn't have to cut in front of someone else to get to it.

I feel blessed to be with that kind of man. The kind of man who really does make the world, particularly my little corner of it, a better place.

So, although I haven't seen Shelly in years, this one's for her. This is a big thank you for reminding me, all those years ago, that my heart is a precious commodity and that only a man worth loving deserves it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


... it has now been a whole week since I've blogged, which is just not okay. So this is me blogging (albeit very poorly) so that no one thinks I've gone and disappeared or fled for the border. No, I've just had a LOT going on! I think we had something going on every night last week AND the weekend.

And last night I was just too sleepy from staying up until 2:00 a.m. the night before reading a book that was definitely not worth it, so I crawled in bed not long after I got home from work. (Although we did eat a delicious pasta salad that I had made ahead the night before - I'll definitely be sharing that recipe here soon!)

But I promise I've been taking note of all of the silly (and not-so-silly) things that have been popping in my head this week, so I'll share them soon. I'm sure you're all dying with anticipation. (Oh how I wish there was a sarcasm font.)
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