Sunday, February 27, 2011

Food: A Life-changing Experience Part 2

My last post was about the wonderful food I had at a restaurant, so today I'm going to tackle cooking at home. I LOVE to cook, as many of you know, and I am constantly looking for new, yummy recipes to try. I have combed the internet for ideas, and I've come up with more inspirational recipes than I have time to try. However, I thought I'd pass on a few good finds to you.

First, a food blog I love is called Real Mom Kitchen. Laura, the author and cook, is a mom and total foodie! She has a lot of great, simple meals to try. Sometimes it's hit and miss, but I love her Santa Fe lime rice, and I used her simple chocolate fondue recipe for Valentine's Day this year.

Second, I love the menu planner on You can search through practically limitless ideas, or you can just have them create a weekly plan for you. Cool!

Third, and most amazing might I add, is a site called For a while now, I have been frustrated with the fact that I will find a neat recipe online, but I have no way to remember where it is. I could bookmark the page, but bookmarks don't organize terribly well, and it would be hard to find the recipe once I develop a sizable collection. solves my problem. It's an online recipe box of sorts where you can copy and paste recipes to save, and you can add the link to the original recipe (if you want to see the picture or check something). You can also tag recipes in various categories so you can search your own database later. COOL! Food and organization...I'm in heaven. Not to mention, it's totally free...DOUBLE HEAVEN!

I just found this yesterday, so I have yet to see how it functions over time and whether it will meet all my recipe storage needs long term, but it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship. :)

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Food: A Life-changing Experience

I was raised in a family that appreciates good food. For those of you who also appreciate this love, how's this dish?
Friday night we went to dinner at Macaroni Grill and I had one of the best meals of my life…no kidding. It was a honey balsamic chicken with sun-dried tomato cappelinni and steamed broccoli. YUM! Ooh, and don’t forget the blackberry lemonade. Mmm. It pretty much changed my life. Graham says I sounded like Bill Murray in What About Bob? I'm not offended; I'm pretty sure he's right, and I doubt I’ll ever eat anything else at that restaurant; that meal might become the only thing I order from here on out. I mean, why mess with perfection?

In all seriousness, I was reminded why that is one of my favorite restaurants. If anybody can ever find a copy-cat recipe or teach me how to make something that good, I will pay good money for it. So good.

That's it. I just had to share my pleasure at culinary genius!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love is Like a Tree

I've been married for almost two months now. While that doesn't quite make me an "expert" on love (I'm pretty sure I'll never be that), I have learned a few things in the short time I've spent with the one I love.

One of the biggest lessons that I've learned in my relationship with Graham (pre and post marriage) is that love is a CHOICE. So often, we talk about "falling" in love and finding our "soul mate" as if it is something that we have no control over. Hollywood and generations of fairy tales have conditioned us to believe that love means perfection, constant bliss, and an eternal happily ever after. While I do believe in happiness, bliss, and the eventual achievement of perfection, love isn't as perfect or as easy as story books often make it out to be.

And, you know what, that's OKAY!

Not expecting perfection of myself or others is incredibly LIBERATING. Furthermore, as I've allowed myself to love, despite my imperfections, I've learned that the more I actively choose to love, the more my feelings of love grow. All the "warts" and flaws melt away (or at least don't seem to matter much) when we focus on improving the lives of others.

One of my favorite quotes on the subject is from Richard Paul Evans's book, The Letter. In it, an old man gives some advice to a young, floundering husband. I couldn't find the exact quote, so I did the best I could from memory:

"You talk about love like it's a hole, something you can fall in and out of. But real love isn't like that. It's more like a tree: grows if you mind it, dies if you don't. No one stands back of a neglected tree and says, 'Guess that tree just wasn't supposed to live,' but people do it all the time with their loves."

May I never neglect the tree that I am finding more and more beautiful and desirable each day I spend with my eternal best friend and companion. May I strive to love him as well as he loves me.

One more quote for the road. This one comes from the book The Christmas List, a kind of modernized version of A Christmas Carol. At the end, the main character says the following:

"We humans...are seriously flawed. The things that are the most necessary, the most critical to us, are the things we take most for granted. Air. Water. Love. If you have someone to love, you are lucky. If they love you back, you're blessed. And if you waste the time you have to love them, you're a fool."

I love you all. And today especially, my love goes out to the man who chose to love me, "warts" and all. I look forward to eternity spent with this wonderful man!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Out with the old, in with the NEW!

I have never been much of a technology buff. While so many people around me have embraced the iPod and now the iPhone, I have been content with my CD player and Razr. In fact, I have had the same phone for at least the last five years! I just never got around to getting a new one, and I didn't want to be locked into a contract. Besides, what more could you want than this cute, pink phone? (Of course, the only reason I got this model in the first place was because it was free.) But, no more. It's time to admit that my Razr is out of date, and that it's time to upgrade. Since Graham and I got married, we decided to start a family plan (it's going to save us about $25-30 per month...WAHOO!), so I needed to pick a new Verizon phone. Here is my choice!

Isn't she pretty?! Graham laughs at me because he says that I pick phones simply based on how brightly colored they are. So what if I do? It makes me happy. If I have to give up my pink phone, electric blue is not a bad replacement. I got the phone last week, and I'm still trying to figure out what buttons to push when, and I'm not going to lie; I'm a bit sad to give up my old phone (we had spent a lot of time together...we'd bonded). Still, I'm ready to join the future, sort of, by learning to be all QWERTY and such.

P.S. - Whoever came up with calling the full keyboard "QWERTY" is really clever, and I admire them.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Home, Sweet Home

This post is especially for my mother, who has been asking to see pictures of my apartment for the past two months. Mom, thanks for being patient. Everyone else, thanks for indulging us.

Here is the grand tour:
This is our cozy entryway. If you look closely on the left, you'll see the awesome coat rack that Graham put up. He was excited to get to pull out the drill for this little project, and I must say, I really like having the rack there.
Our living room is the first thing you see when you come into the apartment. It's not big, but it fits our couch PERFECTLY (we measured before we signed the lease, and we have about 3 inches to spare). Eventually, we'll put something on the big, blank wall, but we haven't gotten than far yet. I spend a lot of time in the corner of the couch reading, grading, and (lately) watching episodes of Psych.
Next, we are proud to introduce our DINING table! It's a little guy, but it's cute and was a great price on KSL. Plus, it's much better than sitting on the couch and using a ShopVac box as a coffee table. (Notice the flowers from my cute husband on the table. They're two weeks old and still holding up!)My favorite place to be is the kitchen. Not that our kitchen is anything special (in fact it is ridiculously tiny), but I have been enjoying time to experiment with all the new toys we got for our wedding. I think my favorite part about the kitchen is that when you open the dishwasher, it takes up just about the whole width of the kitchen!With a small space, we've been creative with storage. Thankfully our laundry room is pretty big and doubles nicely as a pantry and cleaning closet.
Our bathroom is feeling more and more zen as I decorate bit by bit. The orchid, while serving no practical purpose (as Graham pointed out), makes me happy (which Graham supports generously).
I was really excited to buy this shower curtain. I found it at Ross before we got married and bought it on a whim. Graham doesn't understand my excitement, but he is enjoying having a house with matching decorations (and any decorations at all).
Last, but not least, our bedroom. It just barely fits our king size bed and dressers, but we don't have anything else to put in there anyway. :) And, my FAVORITE part of the whole apartment is the fact that we have...SALOON DOORS!

I mean, who doesn't need a set of these classics to add some flavor to a decorating scheme. The apartment manager called them cafe doors, but I don't buy it. These babies are straight out of a John Wayne movie. They are inspirational.

That's the end. I purposely did not include a picture of our guest room/office because it's currently functioning more as a storage closet. Someday, I'll finish organizing in there, and it'll be great. Until then, you'll just have to come visit and see it in person!

Thanks to all of you who have contributed so generously to our little home. It is a huge blessing to have a place we can call our own, and we are enjoying the creation of our HOME, even if it's a temporary one.