Sunday, July 31, 2011

Milky Way Cake - The Verdict...

Holy cow, y'all. I mean HOLY COW.

As I type, I'm polishing off a piece of the most moist, chewy, rich, delectable cake I've made in a really long time (maybe ever!).

I'm choosing to forget the fact that it was made with eleven(!) milky ways, three(!) sticks of margarine, and four(!) cups of sugar (both granulated and powder), and focusing on the magic that took form as I made this cake.

Bottom line? Make this cake soon, and just forget about the calories. :) (Click here for the recipe.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Music Wednesday...

More Javier Colon. Sorry, but he's amazing, particularly on this song. Fix You by Coldplay is beautiful anyway, but this is just... gorgeous.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Meal-Planning Monday...

For the first time in a long time, I made a meal plan for this week. We're just eating out entirely too much, and I miss cooking, so I stopped by the grocery store last night to pick up the fixings for a few meals this week. Nothing too fancy, and I didn't assign particular days to each meal, but I figured I'd post them anyway. :)

Chicken Salad sandwiches, hummus, and pita bread chips
Butter Chicken, rice, and Jalapeno Cream Corn
Cinnamon Toast
(the right way!) and cheesy scrambled eggs (it's so fun to do breakfast for dinner every now and then)
Summer Spaghetti and salad

Oh... and at some point, I will definitely be making this:

It's Pioneer Woman's Milky Way Cake, and it looks divine. The checkout lady at Kroger definitely gave me a look when I put eleven Milky Ways on the conveyor belt, but I think it'll be totally worth it. How yummy does this look!?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I love lists...

Here's a list of some of the things we've done this week.
  1. Hired a trainer for Lilly to help with her anxious/fearful nature. According to him, we have a "pack structure" problem in which Lilly thinks she has to be the alpha because we're not effectively doing that. The problem is that she's just not naturally suited to be an alpha (nor should she be), so she's anxious all the time. The fixes seem simple, but it's going to take some time to see results, I think. I'll keep y'all updated!

  2. Went to see Harry Potter (I already saw it, but Micah hadn't).

  3. Went to an antique "mall" near the house wherein I saw a real stuffed lion that creeped me out in a ridiculously significant way. As in so significant that I had to run past it because I was scared that it might magically come to life and pounce on me.

  4. I bought Adele's "Someone Like You." Love.

  5. Micah went fishing with my BFF's husband, Eric, and caught a massive fish. Massive.

Way to go, babe! :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Show Us Your Life: Marriage Advice (ha!)

I've been thinking about this week's Show Us Your Life topic, marriage advice, for a few weeks now. Micah and I have only been married for two and a half years, so I hardly feel "qualified" to preach to anyone about how to make a marriage last.

But I have loved him for almost nine years, and, miraculously, he still loves me back. So I just thought I'd share some things we've learned over the years - they were hard-fought, and maybe they can save you from a night in the doghouse. :)

Love isn't a fairy tale.
This was something that it took a long time for me to figure out, as ridiculous as that might seem. I've been a hopeless romantic since I was a little girl, and I always imagined that marriage would be like a cleverly written romantic comedy - we'd fight, of course, but then we'd have the big, movie moment make-up, and he'd sweep me off my feet and we'd ride off into the sunset.

Instead, I've come to realize, real love is less of a roller coaster and more like a slow and steady stroll through life. I learned to stop longing for drama and to appreciate the quiet devotion that Micah displays. He may not sing me love songs, but he sure does a beautiful load of laundry. And we're not making out in the movie theater anymore, but I still get butterflies when he reaches across the popcorn to take my hand.

Giving feels just as good as getting.
I don't mean that - get your minds out of the gutter, y'all! ;) I just mean that there is joy in doing something selfless just to make the other person happy. But, truth be told, we both struggle a little with this one. Maybe it's because we're both the youngest in our families, but sometimes we're too preoccupied with fair and even and reciprocity.

However, we're learning that, if we'd both just serve without regard to what the other person is doing, it will be even. If we both just give all of ourselves and love without keeping score, we both win. It's hard, and it requires trust and vulnerability, but I think it's the only way that a relationship between two human, sinful people can work.

Words matter.
No one knows this better than a lawyer, right? :) But although this comes pretty naturally to me, Micah has struggled with being able to adequately express his feelings for a long time. When we first started dating, deep conversations with Micah were liking pulling teeth. He didn't volunteer anything, and I really had to work at my patience and persistence to get a glimpse into his thoughts. I can remember once sitting in silence for 10 minutes straight, waiting for Micah to articulate an answer to my question. This has been particularly difficult for me because words of affirmation are one of my love languages - I use words to express love, and words are a big part of how I perceive love.

Slowly but surely, Micah has learned to show me his love in a verbal way. Meaningful conversations are still sometimes like a trip to the dentist, but he has come a long way from the taciturn boy he was at 16. :) On the other hand, we're both very aware that words, once spoken, can't be taken back. We work hard to avoid saying things we'll regret later, and we try not to use words as weapons.

God's got us covered.
A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12.
There have been so many times when I've been in the midst of throwing myself a grand pity party, when God quietly taps me on the shoulder and reminds me that I'm not perfect and that this marriage thing isn't a cake walk. He reminds me of the vows I made, and I remember that love isn't just a feeling - it's choice that I made to commit myself to an incredible man in the presence of a loving God. That commitment means that I can let God love Micah through me when I'm not feeling particularly loving. It makes us a cord of three strands, rather than two.

So, although we're far from perfect, I know that God has got us covered and that He'll be our anchor when the storms come our way.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

To Micah Lee...

If the only thing I do well in this life is love you, I'll consider myself a greatly accomplished woman.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Alice's Bucket List

Just wanted to drop in and share this amazingly inspirational blog. The writer's name is Alice, and she's a fifteen-year-old girl with terminal cancer. She's got a bucket list, and she's ticking the things off her list as she does them. You can check it out here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Some pictures...

This weekend has been so great so far!

Yesterday my best friend and I went and saw the last Harry Potter movie. If you've been reading my blog for very long, you probably know that I love me some HP, and I've been eagerly awaiting this last movie. I won't spoil anything for those of you who haven't seen it, but it was wonderfully done and such a great way to end the series.

Today, we mostly hung around the house, but we did decide on a comforter. We ended up going with the lighter, and I'm thrilled with how it looks!

Tonight we went to my dad and Lori's house for some family time. I (finally!) remembered to take my camera to take some pictures of Stella Jo and my nephew, Deegan, so I apologize in advance for the excessive cuteness! :)

(My stepbrother, Will, and his adorable son, Deegan.)

(Will, Deegan, and my stepmom. She's on cloud nine with all these cute kids!)

(Dad and Miss Stella Jo. So precious.)

(What a contented kid Deegan is. So sweet and happy.)

(This has to be one of my favorites.)

(Faith and her sweet girl.)

I just love my sweet family and am still so happy that I now live close enough to see them all fairly often. God really used our time in Houston to remind how precious it is to be near those you love.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New bedding...

Well, I still don't have enough time to catch y'all up on everything, but I figured I'd at least share these pictures of the two bedding options we're considering. We like them both, and they probably appear very similar, but they're actually incredibly different.

The first one is from Macy's, and it has the most beautiful peacock blue I've ever seen. Paired with tans and browns, the paisley pattern really brings out the beautiful rich color of the bed, and it definitely adds some drama in the room. Plus, it's a bed-in-a-bag set, so it came with all the shams and accent pillows, so I really just have to get new sheets (I would get the peacock blue to really pull that color out - I LOVE it!)

But, as you can see from the close-up, it lacks dimension. The color palette is dramatic, but limited, and for decorating, I'd be pretty limited. It sure is pretty, though. Go HERE for a better picture of the colors.

The second choice is from Potter Barn. (Pardon the sloppiness - it's a duvet, and we didn't want to go through the hassle of putting the down comforter tonight). It's hard to tell from the pictures (the sun was going down, so I didn't have much light in the room), but it's a sky blue paisley with turquoise, green, white, and tan accents. It's got so many lovely colors in it, and I LOVE the fact that it's got my favorite green in there. The accent options are endless, and it's classic, slightly more elegant, and really fits the style we're going for in the rest of the house.

The downside is that the colors are almost too muted and it didn't come with all the pillows/shams, so I'll have to pick those up. The pictures don't really do the colors justice - they are considerably brighter, but they do kind of get lost in the dark bed. (Go HERE for a better look at the colors.) I feel like I could do a green or turquoise sheet, though, and the colors would pop much more. Also, I could possibly use this chaise from Urban Outfitters by the windows to give it even more pop.

I think we're both leaning toward the second one - mostly because it's more classic, fits in well with the rest of our decorating ideas, and will be more diverse, as far as finding sheets/curtains/accents goes. Thoughts?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I can't think of anything clever today...

Man alive. (I'm not entirely sure what this saying is supposed to convey, but it just feels good to say it when I'm feeling frustrated.)

We had a great/eventful weekend, and I have so much to share (including experiencing the fire at the Rihanna concert, a fun girls' night, our plans for a new dining table, and the two{!} new comforters I bought), but last night my car wouldn't start, and I'm dealing with that drama today, so the fun stuff will just have to wait.

But I will give you a hint about what I'm doing tonight (if I can get the car situation taken care of!)...


Friday, July 8, 2011

SUYL: Side Dish Recipes

Happy Friday, y'all! I'm a huge fan of scrumptious side dishes, so I'm excited to share some of my favorites today!

The first is one of my favorite mashed potato recipes (I have many) which I made for Thanksgiving last year. They're creamy and flavorful and absolutely divine, and I guarantee they'll be a hit! :)

Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes

3 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed (I'd try and find the golden potatoes... so creamy!)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed
3/4 pound shredded smoked Gouda
Salt and freshly ground white pepper (I made do with black pepper)

Place potatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.
Return the potatoes to the saucepan and add the butter, cream, and cheese. Mash the potatoes, stirring to incorporate the seasonings. Season with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Serve warm and enjoy! :)

The second recipe is one I made up myself, and I'll tell you, at the risk of tooting my own horn, it's simple but delicious. :)

Sauteed Corn

2-3 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (use one medium clove for 2 ears, and use two small-ish for three ears)
salt and pepper

Slice the kernels off the corn. (It's kind of tricky if you try to do it over a cutting board because the corn flies everywhere. I just held it over a bowl and sliced from the middle of the cob downward four or five times, all the way around. Then I flipped it over and did the same thing to the other end.)

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a medium sautee pan on medium to medium-high heat.

Add the garlic to the oil and sautee until garlic becomes fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Make sure it doesn't burn.

Add the corn, season with salt and pepper, and sautee for 5 minutes or so until corn is tender and becoming golden-brown.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Something new...

I added an "about me" type page, so that people who are new to the blog can learn a little more about me and Micah (and Lilly!). It's over on the sidebar to the right under "Wanna Know More," (or you can click here) just in case you want to take a peek. :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy birthday, USA!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!!! Hope you're all enjoying your long weekend!

We've had a really nice, relaxing weekend. On Friday, Micah FINALLY got his hair cut, and I can't tell you how happy I am. It had been like a month, and he was looking like a mountain man. After we grabbed dinner at Flying Fish in Firewheel (YUM!), we ran into Dillards on a whim, and ended up going home with two different comforters. It's a bummer that neither of them worked out - one had the PERFECT colors but a really grandma-ish design, and the other had decent colors and a decent design, but lacked the wow factor I'm looking for. It's really a shame that our yellow comforter looks HORRIBLE with the paint in the bedroom - it's so pretty and perfect with our bed!

On Saturday, I spent the morning hanging with my college roommate and her cute dog and sassy cat. It's always SO good to catch up! When I got home, Micah wanted to give Lilly a bath. Of course it turned into a water fight between Micah and me, and we both ended up soaked. :)

After the water fight, we got all lathered up in sunscreen and tried to go down to the pool in our neighborhood to swim, but our gate code didn't work. I was definitely one unhappy homeowner, but I'm going to call tomorrow and get everything sorted out.

My mom and Steve dropped by later in the afternoon to visit, which is always so nice. I still haven't totally gotten used to the fact that we live close enough to our family to be able to do that!

Yesterday, we got up and went to church, which was just amazing. A Vietnam veteran who had lost both legs while serving came to share his story, and it was incredibly compelling. After church, we went and had lunch at Micah's parents' house, which was delicious as always.

On our way back, we stopped in Rockwall at the new HomeGoods store. Have you guys been there before? I hadn't, and it was almost overwhelming! But there was a LOT of cute stuff in there, and we left with a toilet brush (ha!) and a garden trellis, which I plan on painting and putting inside the house somewhere. We also stopped by Bahama Bucks for the first time and got the most delicious snow cones I've ever had in my life. I got a wedding cake + cream.

And Micah got a white coconut + cream.

(Micah made his into a cliff. He's so wonderfully strange sometimes.)

Today, we're heading over to my BFF's in-laws' beautiful house to celebrate the holiday and Lauren's birthday. Happy early 26th, friend!

Hope you all have a safe and wonderful holiday! :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

SUYL: Breakfast Recipes - Cinnamon Toast

I've loved cinnamon toast since I was a little girl. Really, I'm obsessed with all things cinnamon, but I have a particular fondness for cinnamon toast. And I don't want to oversell here, but this recipe changed my life.

Well... maybe not my life. But definitely my approach to cinnamon toast. I used to make cinnamon toast by spreading softened butter on toast, sprinkling sugar and cinnamon on top, and then broiling them for a minute or two. Silly me. I was missing out on the DELICIOUSNESS of the vanilla element that Pioneer Woman so brilliantly introduced to me.

So, without further ado, here's the recipe. Just adjust it down depending on how many people you have to feed.

Cinnamon Toast The Right Way
  • 16 slices Bread (whole Wheat Is Great!)
  • 2 sticks Salted Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Sugar (more To Taste)
  • 3 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract (more To Taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg (optional)

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Smush softened butter with a fork. Dump in sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg, if using. Stir to completely combine.

Spread on slices of bread, completely covering the surface all the way to the edges.

Place toast on a cookie sheet. Place cookies sheet into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. (And PW suggests that, after you bake the toast, you should broil until golden brown and bubbling. But I stop after the baking step because I ALWAYS burn it when I try to broil it.)

Remove from oven and cut slices into halves diagonally. Enjoy!

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