Thursday, March 31, 2011

Holy Smokeout Life's Busy!

Sorry I didn't post yesterday... I was so excited about how many people participated in the Top Ten Tuesdays and yesterday was going to be my chance to catch up with everything, then I forgot my computer cord at work. Yeah which means, my dead computer wasn't going to be putting anything online for me. So, I didn't get to blog. And I really wanted to spend some time writing on my day off from work. Oh well, no blog yesterday, but a new one today! I do hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me!

Well, marriage classes that J and I are taking through church have been fantastic... We are learning a lot and growing, not only together but as individuals too. I'm slowly learning how to communicate with a man without going all emotional on him... and he's getting better at understanding my point despite all the water works that often come with it! (Please tell me other women have this problem, too!) But more importantly, I'm loving J more now than ever and it's growing by the minute (I know this sounds like a ridiculous cliche, but it's the truth).

One of the first pictures we ever took together... Who would have known it was the beginning of forever?
But, moving towards marriage, I have also started training twice a week with a personal trainer... She wants me to drop ten pounds (and I want me to lose it too!), so the next five months are going to be hard working, careful eating months. A single nice arms compliment will make it all worth it in looking at my wedding pictures!  So meals with be more protein packed and I'm going to be working on eating better carbohydrates (you didn't know there were good ones either? I'll post on that too I promise!). I will be sharing all the crazy new things I'm learning in hopes one other person will learn something new too!

And I'm working. Not the hardly working kind of work, but the working hard kind. I've been so busy during the day at work that I'm falling behind on my blogging... Then I get home and I want to relax, spend time with J or my family, and catch up on the little life things that seem to be escaping me. By the time that I realize I meant to blog, it's late and I am exhausted. So there's got to be a new routine set up so my heart doesn't break into little tiny pieces missing you all!

On a light, happy, super exciting note: I have hit and flown by the fifty follower mark... With all the new followers I am itching to do my very first giveaway... I'm not quite ready yet, but stay tuned because I'm just loving all the new people that I'm meeting and would love to be able to share with something I love with one of my lucky readers! (Or at least, I think you're lucky!) I'm thinking of painting something... Check out this and decide what you think... Would you be interested at all??

What's keeping you busy folks? 
It seems like we've all got a GIANT list of things going on right about now... 
Plus the warm weather adds to it! 

P.S. Are you taking part in the simply sweet ingredient challenge? There's still time!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: My Life Essentials

I know my list of things I couldn't live without is ridiculously longer than ten... But for the sake of Top Ten Tuesday I have to settle! Here goes nothing! Please enjoy!

1. A blanket. 
I sleep with my ears covered at night and without a blanket I wouldn't be able to cover my ears... Plus, I LOVE blankets and seriously have a half a dozen of them in my bed at a time. Yep, it drives J nuts and we aren't even sleeping in the same bed yet!

2. My NIV and Message Bible. 
Both translations are next to each other... It's amazing! If I read the NIV and don't get it (which happens more often than not, the Message is there to make it all clear... But I can still follow along easily at church when the pastor is reading from the NIV version!

3. Mascara. 
Yes, shallow. But of all beauty essentials, this is essential. Even J notices when I don't wear it. In fact, he always says, "Where's that black stuff that makes your eyes all big and pretty?"

4. A good run. 
I run for fun. But not just for fun. I run to clear my head and work out my heart. My best thinking happens along the roads my feet graze as I move through my neighborhood.

5. My family. 
Oh the joy this group of people brings me. If you haven't read enough already, you will soon realize they make my world go round... And for good reason!

6. A good read. 
I have been a bookworm from a very young age... In fact, it all started before I could read! I would go to bed with a pile of books just so I could go through all the pictures... To this day, I sleep with one or two books in my bed nightly. Guess you can't teach an old dog new tricks!

7. My iPhone. 
Not because I think iPhones make the world go round and are the best thing ever, but because I love my phone. I love having a phone that calls and texts and gets voicemails (and Twitter!). I truly love to be able to text my Mama Bird or J whenever I want and as frequently as I want (as much as they might get sick of me!) 

8. My computer. My new MacBook Pro. 
For my 22nd birthday-college graduation celebration, I got a new computer. But not just any new computer, I got my dream computer, a MacBook Pro! It really revolutionizes my blogging, photo editing, writing, cooking, working experience. I love being able to do all of the things that I love on the computer which can easily perform all that I need of it.

9. My blog. 
I write like a mad woman. But this sweet little spot is all mine and allows me to be held accountable for my words, for my thoughts, for my passion. I know people are expecting to see writing and I want to be dependable. Without you, my dear readers, this puppy wouldn't be working out the way it is. So essentially, number 9 is you.

10. Last, but definitely not least, my dear J. 
Literally I don't know what life would be like without him. He has been here through the darkest and brightest times in my long (okay, not so much) 22 years. He puts a smile on my face every morning and every night even when I'm sure it's impossible to get any ounce of joy out of me!

I Surrender

Yesterday J and I attended church like we regularly do on Sunday mornings, but something special happened in my heart. Something out of the ordinary.

During the opening prayer -take note, NOT after the message and just after two worship songs- God ripped my attention from myself and quickly placed my focus on Him. As the prayer began, the pastor encouraged us to surrender, to pause and to take a moment to admit our greatest barriers in order to better surrender to God. He then encouraged us to think about that which we need to surrender, to put it into a sentence "God I surrender..."

Wow, I had a lot on my mind that was weighing really heavy on my heart.

God, I surrender body consciousness. I surrender the way I question how you made me.
God, I surrender my doubtful heart, always second guessing your perfect ways.
God, I surrender all the fears and anxieties that wreak havoc in my heart.
God, I surrender my "perfect" plan that is full of many more holes than I can ever imagine.
God, I surrender the bitterness I bottle inside.
God, I surrender the pain I refuse to heal, I let keep emptying me of my joy.
God, I surrender my frustrations with my circumstances, it's about attitude not aptitude.
God, I surrender my timeline, my goals, my incessant mission.
God, I surrender my unwilling soul, my fighting spirit.
God, I surrender my excuses about why later, why not, why me.
God, I surrender my imperfections, and my obsession with them.
God, I surrender me. 

And with that surrender I take on a whole new perspective, a whole new life's mission, a whole new purpose... One that focuses on Him instead of me, on helping instead of receiving, on hope instead of darkness.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Baked Cajun Rubbed Salmon

J loves seafood. I am picky about it. But I've resolved to be better about making fish not only since its so good for you, but also because my dear J loves it so and I wish I could be not so finicky about it.

Last week when I went to the grocery store their fresh, never frozen salmon steaks looked so perfectly pink (and I love pink!). I bought three and brought them home to make them yummy and yummy they were!

  • 1 salmon steak, fresh not frozen, per person or serving. (J eats two so I got three) 
  • Drizzle of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large lemon
For the rub:
  • 1/4 cup ancho chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano 
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. While the oven is heating, combine all of the spices in a bowl and whisk together. 
  3. Rip pieces of foil that are twice the size of the filets. (One per filet) 
  4. Place the salmon in the center of the foil (as seen in picture below).
  5. Drizzle worcestershire sauce over the top of each filet. 
  6. Rub top of salmon with spice blend. (There will be extra, it's GREAT on steak too!) 
  7. Cut lemon in half and squeeze over the salmon. 
  8. Close up the foil around the spiced filets and place on a baking sheet. 
  9. Cook for 20 minutes. 
  10. Remove from the oven. 
  11. Unwrap and slice the lemon in half (or more parts for more filets!) and squeeze the juice over the fish.
  12. Enjoy! 

J was going to make a sauce to put on it and I said to just try it before he made anything... He did, it was so moist and tender the sauce idea was scrapped and he ate as is! I even really liked it and I'm not a huge lover of fish! 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays

I have never really watched the David Letterman show, mainly because staying up that late is just impossible for me, but I love lists. I mean I love lists! I write a to do list every day, many versions of the same list with different things every day. I write lists for now, for later, for when, for then... I truly love the order that lists provide.

Not only do I seem to love lists, but I have found lots of blogging friends who love them as well... So I decided to start a little Tuesday Link Up for every week. (If it gets too overwhelming, I'll move it to every other week!) but on Sundays I will post what the theme of top ten list is going to be for the following week. Then on Tuesday I'll do a link up post that will include my list as well as links to all of yours!

Hope you're all as excited as me! I'm going to go ahead and give you the theme for this week since it's just a day early!

Our theme for the week: 
Your top ten life essentials

We all have different things that make life possible for us... But think of it like this, you are going to be dropped on a deserted island, what ten things would you bring? I know, ten seems like not so much with all the things you love; I'm having the same problem. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

My ABSOLUTELY Amazing Birthday Celebration!

My 22nd birthday was on Tuesday this past week, but I wasn't going to get to be with my family and J at the same time because of work and our marriage class, so we celebrated last weekend! 

Every year my mom makes a wonderful meal in celebration for birthdays and this year was no different than the past! 

Mama Bird with her homemade scalloped potatoes
J with the beet, Cara Cara orange, and goat cheese salad! 
Dad helping mom serve the plates with salad...
Sorry for the ridiculous face he's making. He absolutely refused to smile. 
The table all set... What a pretty pink floral tablecloth you say? Why yes! And artichokes! 
J and Mama Bird serving the scalloped potatoes! 
The barbeque ran out of gas... So Bubba improvised by grilling on the stovetop!
Bub and his dear little lady, Sam.
My "It's Your Day... CELEBRATE!" Birthday girl plate (and the new strawberry Mike's Hard Lemonade -so tasty!)
It wouldn't be a food photo without the aerial shot!
My being drama birthday girl in my excitement over my cake. 
Check out that glorious thing... It was so tasty! Hummingbird cake, so perfect in so many ways!
Yep, it was amazing... All thanks to the fabulous cook, Mama Bird, and my adorable family (plus the never disappointing J!) 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'm Simply Sweet, but NOT Perfect.

Over the years my life has been far from simple and not so full of sweet... I have suffered from depression, I am an anxious little heart, I cry far too often... But, it's my life. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

In looking at my blog, someone could say that I seem to be too good to be true. I'm too nice, I do too much, the photos are staged, fake, ridiculous. But, they are mine, they are absolutely me. 

This is more like what I look like on a regular basis... No make-up, messy hair, and running clothes!
I'm not always sweet... In fact, I can be so bitter I'd easily out do baking chocolate! Although my house is organized to a tee... I can be a hot mess in my mind! As much as I read my Bible and hear from God... I lose my focus hundreds of times in a day (even on my best days). The pictures on my blog make me look pretty... But they are special occasions, I'm hardly ever put together perfectly like those! 

I don't ever want to misrepresent myself, I promise I'm not perfect, not by any means. In fact, I'm the furthest thing from it. But my God is one of grace and mercy, my J is a man of love and patience, my family is made of teamwork and honesty. Thank goodness for this! 

I love to write. I love to cook. I love to craft. I love it all... And I am blessed to be able to share with all of you, but don't ever think I'm perfect, my flaws are too great to count! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Want to be THAT Kind of Wife

Growing up in church I always heard about the Proverbs 31 wife... She is a precious woman who knows what it means to be kind, trustworthy, a good steward of her faith, husband, and family while providing compassionate, generous help to those around her. Yeah, I want to be like her... But there's another woman that I hear about often and would love to be like.

Two Simply Sweet Note: I didn't get this off some random site... I made it myself! Go ahead and borrow, just remember to give credit where it's due!

The Country Song Wife
There ain't nothin' not affected when two hearts get connected (Brad Paisley) 
Because I win and you win when it's who loves who more  (Thompson Square) 
But you know we're gonna make it, that's a pretty safe bet (Thompson Square)
She's small town from the country, she ain't big time, but she could be (Rascal Flatts)  
I still remember you came by my trailer with some chicken legs and homemade wine.  
(Steel Magnolia) 
And when I got home... before I said Amen, asking God if he'd play it again  
(Taylor Swift) 
Mama, you taught me to do the right things. (Carrie Underwood) 
And the most beautiful girl holding both of them (Lonestar) 
And his heart belongs to that sweet, little, beautiful, wonderful, perfect, All-American girl. (Carrie Underwood)
Then she walks up behind me and throws her arms around my neck (Rascal Flatts) 
The love for me, girl, I see in your eyes... That's beautiful, beautiful every time. (Lee Brice) 
My oh my, you're so good-looking, hold yourself together like a pair of bookends (Blake Shelton)
And I, I, I gotta believe, there has to be a you for every girl like me (Sugarland) 
And the heart of a faithful woman, who never let him forget (Lee Brice) 
You'll always be my angel no matter what you do, cause you take me to heaven just by being you.
(Steel Magnolia) 
She's my kind of rain like love from a drunken sky (Tim McGraw) 
Oh if you could read my mind, you'd know you're everything I need (Tim McGraw)
That little girl smile, that woman in your eyes (Brooks & Dunn)
I ain't saying I'm perfect, but I promise I'm worth it (Sugarland) 
Cause I heard Jesus, he drank wine and I'd bet we'd get along just fine (Miranda Lambert) 
Country (shoot) from her cowboy boots to her down home roots, she's country from the songs she plays to the prayers she prays ( Jason Aldean) 
I've got myself a wonderful country star worthy man 
(if only his voice matched his amazingness - wink, wink).
I just hope I can be the country babe he deserves!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Got Style, Yes I do, I Got Style, How About You?

Well, maybe I don't have so much style, but I do have spirit! My new sweet southern soul of a friend, Amber Ashleigh, (yep, she has the most beautiful, angelic, wonderful name ever!) gave me my second stylish blogger award! Turns out people actually think I have style... Good thing I don't post my hot mess of an outfit on here every morning or my honors would be relinquished in a snap!

The rules for the award go as follows: 

1. Link back and thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 5 recently discovered blogs.
4. Contact them and tell them about their award.

Seven more big things about me... 

1. My 22nd birthday is today... Somehow this sounds really mature to me. Like 21, you're young and dumb and can drink too much because you just don't get it. 22 sounds like you've got your life together and know what you're doing. Oh my! 
(AND doesn't that cake look like it's got a whole lot of candles on it!) 

2. Not only do I love A&E's show Storage Wars... But I live in the same town as Darrell Sheets (The Gambler) and his son Brandon (The Sidebet)! If you haven't watched the show you need to... The Sheet Boys are my absolute favorite and it was soooo exciting to run into their friendly selves at the local mall. 

3. I have a journal I carry in my purse to write down any big thoughts that come into my little mind. I'm forgetful if I don't write things down, so this is my way of keeping track of things... And I often use what's written in my blog. 

4. I literally melt thinking of anything Julia Child. I adore her. Her copper pots, her sweet accent, Meryl Streep playing her... Her ridiculously difficult to understand recipes, her silly little ways, the way that she is portrayed in Julie & Julia. That's when cooking took off for me! 

Meryl Streep couldn't have been more perfect for the role!
5. I am convinced that pink floral print can solve any problem...

See, don't you feel better already? 

6. I broke my first bone and had my first major surgery all in one week... Yep, shattered my nose and the surrounding bones. The only solution = reconstructive plastic surgery. 

My doctor and anesthesiologist at the doors to my operating room!
7. I played soccer for ten years. Taking the field still feels like home. I want to get involved in a league after J and I get married and settled down in our home together! 

Enough about me already... Here are my awardees!
1. Sarah at Savoring Sarah
2. Jamie at This Kind of Love
3. Alysa at InspiredRD
6. Danielle at Positively Positive
7. Caley-Jade at Mrs. Rosie Posie

I know, I posted more than five... But I think you'll all be able to find it in your hearts to forgive me! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

What a Wise Soul You Are Dr. Seuss!

I am quite possibly the biggest Dr. Seuss fan ever... In fact, so much so, that his books were my favorite growing up and I had to read/have all of them. My poor parents. I may or may not have memorized most of them at a very young age.

I definitely was a proud owner and reader of ALL of these puppies!
Then in high school I had a project where I had to write about the most influential person in American history... Yep, you guessed it, I wrote about Dr. Seuss, but this wasn't just any old powerpoint! I dressed up as the Cat in the Hat complete with a goldfish in a bowl and presented my powerpoint that was completely rhyming just like Dr. Seuss' books! (Just in case you were wondering... I got an A+!)

I know, it looks like a space ship... But it's not, it's the library named after Dr. Seuss and his wife!
After high school I went to college... to the University of California San Diego... where Dr. Seuss and his wife sponsored the building of the library! Yep, every midterms and finals crunch time was filled with the sweet drawings of Dr. Seuss pasted all over the library walls. So cool? Yeah, I just loved it.

But in all of this time the wise words of Dr. Seuss never truly set in... Now thinking about them I realize he got it right. He truly understood what it meant to march to the beat of your own drum. And he turned doing that into his life's goal.

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is Youer than You."

I can't argue that one... Not only can I not argue with him, but he's right, no one is me and no one gets to live the life I'm living, so I need to do it right for me. That means doing what I love with who I love: God, J, Mama Bird and family, running, cooking, loving, learning.

And for those who don't like it... Well, that's fine, but turns out, you don't really matter that much.

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Yep, those who really mind don't matter... If you can't find it in you to be some kind of supportive, some kind of sweet, well then I really don't seem to matter that much to you and ditto, I feel the same way!

Oh Dr. Seuss, what a wonderful wise soul you are!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yay! I Got a Second Award!

Oh my goodness, you all know how loved I feel by my new blogging friends and I just can't begin to talk about the amazing support that has been poured out for me... And one of my new favorite blog obsessions Jesslyn Amber awarded me with my second ever blog award!

Yep, she awarded me with the 7 Facts Blog Award!

Here's how the rules go: 
1. List 7 facts about yourself. 
2. Give this puppy to four of your favorite bloggers! 

So, my seven facts: 
1. J and I are having a vintage, Southern wedding in my parents' southern California front yard... I can't tell you how excited I am and how perfectly things are coming together! 

2. I can't fall asleep without my own pillow and a blanket pulled over my ears... That means I usually bring my own blanket with me places. J thinks I'm a goof ball because I do this, but I don't care! 

3. I suffer from insomnia. This is very difficult because it comes in waves so I suffer from not sleeping for  days at a time... This leads to a zombie form of Amber. 

4. There are five kids in my family... I want to have at least five. Yep, I'm going to have my own little basketball team! (But J and I have a HUGE heart for adoption so I won't be delivering them all!) 

5. I prayed for a little brother or sister in middle school and my parents told me I had lost it... Three years later, Baby Bear came into our lives and they have not been the same since! 

6. Trash TV makes my bad days great! My DVR is full of trashy reality TV shows... Things like Real Housewives of Orange County and Miami, Jersey Shore, The Real World... Yep, pure trash in my brain, but one of my guiltiest pleasures!

7. Blogging has become my escape... Bad days, good days, in between, I just love to blog about anything me and am so lucky to have readers who think my little life is interesting!  

Now for my four award recipients! 
1. My dear Mama at Moments with Mama Bird
2. Creative Cole at Created by Cole
3. Katy Mary at Tangerine Hearts
4. Blair at Heir to Blair

Check these amazing ladies out... I truly am proud to call them my pals. 

Thank you again Jesslyn Amber, you're too kind and I truly cherish your sweet friendship!

First Edition of the Simply Sweet Sunday Ingredient Challenge

Here goes nothing! Our first ingredient is going to be none other than the dark leafy greens...


These dark leaves known for their bitter taste are great for every single part of your hot bod! Check out all the nutritious benefits that come from this sweet little leaf: 

1. High in calcium which is good, not only for your bones and teeth, as well as your brain and nerve functions! 
2. It's cholesterol lowering... Wonderful! 
3. Provides support for the detoxification system throughout the body.
4. It helps fight cancer because it's packed with anti-oxidants! 
5. The number of vitamins that come from this little leaf is greater than the number of eggs you get in a carton from the grocery store! 

So, here's the plan. Visit your local grocery store or farmer's market and pick yourself up some kale (some is more fluffy than others, pick whichever you like!). Then head home to make a delicious meal using your kale... Soup, salad, bread, cupcakes... Whatever you want! 

On April 3rd (or the 2nd if you like to be ahead of the game), we will post all of our recipes on our respective blogs... I will link to everyone's so you can see all the different things we came up with! Also on the 3rd, I will put out the next ingredient! If you haven't joined the S&S Sunday Ingredient Challenge you are cordially invited... Just leave a comment and I'll email you! 

Best wishes for your cooking and concoctions! I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with! 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Simply Sweet Sunday Ingredient Challenge

The cooking portion of my blog has grown a lot since the beginning of the year and I have made so many new friends who also love to cook. I love to watch Food Network and Top Chef and they always have such fantastic ingredient challenges... Then I got to thinking, why can't my new foodie friends do the same?

This is how the Simply Sweet Sunday Ingredient Challenge will work if you choose to accept your mission. 

1. This will be a bi-weekly thing so it's not too overwhelming... or like another full-time job! 
2. I will post the ingredient on a Sunday and your recipe will be due two weeks later on Sunday...
3. In your posted recipe, please link to the other participants (who I will tell you about if you are interested in joining the challenge!). 
4. Make yummy food for all to enjoy! 

Please let me know if you're interested... I'll be posting the first ingredient tomorrow if enough people are excited about it. 

And lastly, 
Happy Weekend! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spanish Salsa Black Bean Quinoa

I just love quinoa... and it's so easy to love with how easy it is to make and it's so low maintenance and so hard to mess up! So I made this tasty little number for my lunch this past week. It was tasty! 

  • 1/2 cup qinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 can of black beans
  • 1/4 pound deli-sliced turkey breast, cut into little pieces (For veggie only, skip this!) 
  • Salsa verde
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 
  • cilantro 
  1. Boil the quinoa in the water, as instructed on the package. 
  2. Once the quinoa is cooked, turn down the heat to low. 
  3. Add the black beans and turkey breast, stirring constantly. 
  4. Add the salsa verde, pepper, and salt as you like! (I added lots of salsa and pepper, but hardly any salt)
  5. Garnish with cilantro. 
  6. Enjoy! 
Simply Sweet Note: This can make two medium(ish) sized servings so you can actually eat it for lunch two times!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fan Favorite

So with college graduation taken care of and my walk down the aisle impending I have really come to appreciate my number one fan in life, Mama Bird. She is just a sweet, amazing woman... And guess what? I'm her fan favorite!

It's hard to find someone more supportive, more fun, more silly, more helpful, more encouraging, more honest, and more joyful than my dear Mama Bird. She has been my biggest fan from the moment we met (almost 22 whole years ago!) and still continues to be the first person to cheer me on... even when I'm ready to give up!

I know she's not in this picture... But guess who took it?
And who sat there the whole time I was in my two and a half hour surgery...
And who took care of me for the world's LONGEST week that followed!
I'm sure it hasn't always been easy to be my mom or fun to deal with the hormones, broken bones, and hard to handle behavior... But she manages to keep a smile on her and push me to grow! 

Not only do we do everything together... But we also love to dress the same (just for holiday spiritedness like Fourth of July!) and we have a ton of clothes that are the exact same... Though we try to wear them at different times. :) 

My love for cooking comes from her and the countless meals she made in her beautiful kitchen as I was growing up. Now we have the joy of cooking the same meals one night a week and comparing as well as sharing what's a hit with our boys... or what's not! 

And... finally, much to her delight, I am a girly girl. Being a major tomboy growing up was something I truly loved and enjoyed, but now that I'm all about pink, flowers, and ruffles she just can't contain her excitement (and it turns out neither can I!). 

What a lucky gal I am! I can't wait for her and Popsicle to walk me down the aisle... And to be neighbors for life! Thanks Mama Bird... and I love you. 

Who's your biggest fan? And who is your fan favorite? 
Share, not only with me this week, but with them too! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why Today is a Special Day

Well, after three and a half years of hard work and dedication... I am a college graduate! I am absolutely ecstatic and called Mama Bird and J screeching with excitement.

This is Bubba and I at my high school graduation... Please excuse the ridiculous hair color... 
I decided that a fun way to celebrate (since no one else I know is graduating and I have work tomorrow morning) I ran a "victory lap" around the campus I once lived on and ran around four times a week. It was an easy four miles in the nice spring sun, but I couldn't help thinking about all the memories of my time there.

J and I at his college graduation. I'm not walking in mine so this is as close as I'll get! 
In college I met my dear J. I rushed a sorority full of silly sisters I truly cherish. I took up running (and am now addicted). I learned to cook (all by myself). I figured out how far a dollar truly can stretch. I wrote more papers than seemingly possible. I made friends I will never forget -some for good reasons and others for their bizarreness!

What a happy day to be done, more time for my blog, for work (thankfully I have a job) and for my family!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Indian Infused Roasted Cauliflower

J and I love our veggies... But these are by far the best ones we've had! The only problem was I only used half of the head of cauliflower and we really wanted more than I made!
This little number goes so perfectly with the Tikka Masala flavors... And adds a little fresh produce to the meal. 

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • Lemon wedges 
  1. Preheat oven to 450f. 
  2. Mix together oil, coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper until well combined. 
  3. Add cauliflower, tossing to coat. 
  4. Transfer cauliflower to baking sheet and roast, stirring halfway through roasting. 
  5. When tender and golden brown (about 20-30 minutes), remove from over. 
  6. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice. (Instead of the wedges I put the roasted cauliflower in a bowl, squeezed the juice over the little veggies and stirred)
  7. Enjoy! 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Homemade Tikka Masala (Chicken Curry)

J and I absolutely love Indian food, but always venture out in order to get our fix. I started getting a new culinary magazine this month (Cuisine at Home) that has fabulous recipes... One of them being Tikka Masala!

This dish requires a little love because of the cook time, but it goes in a slow cooker, so once you do your 30 minutes it cooks itself. The chicken literally falls apart with no need for knives or any sort of major effort... FABULOUS! 

Ingredients for the Marinade: 
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger (it asks for fresh... I don't do all that work and just get the jarred stuff!) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam marsala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper 
  • 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
Ingredients for the sauce: 
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil (it's the healthiest of oils!) 
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (15 ounces) 
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • Dash of black pepper 
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (to garnish) 
  1. To make the marinade combine the yogurt, lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon each of garlic and ginger, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and garam masala, cumin, coriander, and cayenne in a bowl. 
  2. Using a knife, pierce the chicken in several places and place in a large bowl. 
  3. Pour the marinade over the chicken; stir to coat. 
  4. Cover the chicken and refrigerate at least 1 hour, if not overnight. (I let it marinate for 3 hours and it was perfect!) 
  5. Preheat the broiler with the rack 6-8 inches from the heat. 
  6. Remove the chicken from the bowl and place on a broiler pan. 
  7. Broil for 8 minutes. 
  8. Discard marinade. 
  9. Remove chicken from the broiler and transfer to the slow cooker. 
  10. For the sauce, heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. 
  11. Add diced onion and cook until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. 
  12. Add 2 teaspoons garam masala, 1 1/2 teaspoon each garlic and ginger, and minced serrano chile. 
  13. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. 
  14. Stir in the tomato paste and cook about 1 minute. 
  15. Deglaze the pan with the crushed tomatoes, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan. 
  16. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker. 
  17. Be sure to coat the chicken. 
  18. Cover slow cooker and cook chicken on low-setting heat until tender, about 3 hours. 
  19. Transfer chicken to a serving platter. 
  20. Whisk cream into sauce seasoning with salt and black pepper. 
  21. Pour sauce over the chicken and garnish with fresh cilantro. 
  22. Enjoy!

I really love naan. It's an Indian pita bread sort of thing. I pick up a little package of it at the grocery store and throw it in the oven for a couple minutes on low heat to warm it. It also is fun to use to clean up any extra sauce that may be hanging around! 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday's Simply Sweet Space

Over the last year and a half I have lived in a simply sweet studio apartment where I have had the opportunity to decorate, cook, invent, and create... I have decided to do a little blogging mini-series, Saturday's Simply Sweet Space. This week it will feature ten things I simply sweet about my kitchen! 

1. My soap. 
Hand and dish because I love it so. 
J.R. Watkins Lemon scented soap.
Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it smells wondrous and makes things shiny and clean!

2. My cock olive oil canister.
I started this ridiculous joke with my mom when she bought me this giant Hershey's kiss shaped rooster. 
I called it The Cock and it looks over my kitchen a top my fridge. 
Well, we couldn't stop with just one. 
I have gifted her many and she has gifted me some in return. 
We both have this little cocky number and it makes me happy to oil anything up! 

3. My cookbooks. 
Aren't these just school binders? 
Yep, they are. 
But you know what, they hold all my recipes. 
I love that about them. 
And the pink floral and green go so well with my whole apartment's colors. 

4. My pink apron. 
A dear friend gave me this. 
I love it. 
The pink, the little ball things, the pattern, the pockets. 
It's amazing. 
And makes cooking more fun! 

5. My tea mug. 
My gramcracker had one just like this and now my mom has it. 
I'm a copy cat. 
It was cheap, it's simple, but I love it. 
And the tea inside, yum pure delish! 

6. My knife set. 
Well, technically J's. 
I am marrying a man of utility... What does that matter?
You see, this knife set was what J asked for for Christmas. 
It's in my kitchen. 

7. This is a lamp burger. 
(It looks like burger but has a funny French accent thing that sounds like brojae)
Not only is it pink and antique looking... 
But it has an oil wick inside and when you light the stone on fire 
it emits the most wondrous smells! 

8. Fresh cotton in Mama Bird's vase with my journal. 
I leave this sitting on my counter to remind me of the months to come. 
J and I are having a very unique wedding. 
Cotton, unbleached, seeds in tact, sitting in the boll is going to be our "flower". 
Isn't it pretty?
You should feel it. 
And the quote on my journal is fabulous: 
"Just when the caterpillar thought life was over, it became a butterfly." 

9. Pictures! 
I love pictures of the ones I love. 
I keep them all over my apartment... Even in my kitchen! 
They aren't all lined up like this, but you get the point! 
(Please excuse the counter covered in papers... It is finals season)

10. My pretty pink princess Kitchenaid mixer.
Santa brought me this. 
What a sweet man he is! 
He must realize that Mrs. Klaus can only make great cookies 
and cakes and muffins and bread with the help of this little machine. 

What's your simply sweet space? 
And what makes it so simply sweet?
Please share!