11.30.2011

what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. PB & J
Nothing beats some soft bread that smooshes together some crunchy peanut butter and some sweet jam. It's the perfect snack, especially with some cold milk.

2. Moving
As much as moving is stressful, I am excited to settle into my new place this weekend. My boxes are packed and I am ready to go.

3. Leather jackets
I'm so happy to break out my favorite bomber jacket. Not only does it keep me warm, but it reminds me of when I purchased it in London. The best accessory for winter.
[click on images for sources]

11.29.2011

packin' up

This is my sixth move since I left home and embarked on my college adventure. I can't even imagine how much tape, boxes, and trash bags I have filled, moved, and unpacked. However stressful it is, Charlie and I are excited to make a new place our home. 

My apartment is already packed up into cardboard boxes, and I don't even move until this weekend. With work and my dad coming into town, I figured this was the best time to do it. In the packing process, I learned tape guns aren't all that easy to figure out. I learned it's not easy to carry a stack of boxes (Mom, you are a witness to that). I learned to take batteries out of alarm clocks because you'll be stuck searching for what box you put it in based on where the ringing noise is coming from. I learned that Charlie can climb up a tower of boxes. 

The most important thing I learned is realizing what to let go of. Luckily, I don't have heaps of things. I am too much of a clean freak to ever become a hoarder. I did have to make some decisions on what to keep and what not to keep. I donated a lot of things, and I hope they bring a smile to someone else's face. I let go of a lot of memories, which was really freeing. Finding pictures and letters from the past made me giggle and cry. After taking the time to feel the different emotions, I knew it was time to make space for new memories. Sometimes physically ridding of certain things can clean you out emotionally too. I know I am only taking positive things into my new home.



11.27.2011

friendsgiving

It takes a darn good friendship to hold together when miles and miles aim to snap the threads holding it together. With friends in Texas, Tennessee, and other spots on the map it's unfortunately easy to lose touch. Not only is it the distance that makes it difficult to keep the closeness intact, but the careers, new friendships, and lifestyles that bloom with moving to a new city. It's a beautiful part of growing up and packing up, but it's also change; something few and far between are actually fond of.

Thanksgiving brought friends home and it was as if they never left. There was a rush of excitement, a flooding of memories, and a quickness that left me wondering how their time here flew by so fast. In the midst of our lives taking on new adventures, there was still that bond. It's the best thing I could ask for.

sunday spark

"Look at life through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror."
-Byrd Baggett
 [click in image for source]

11.26.2011

my heart leads

I have always been one to follow my heart. It leads me. It makes my decisions, choices, and mistakes. Sure, my mind can banter on with its input. But ultimately, it's my heart that overrules. Perhaps it seems rather illogical, but I would rather follow a feeling than a thought.

Feelings seem to carry so much more weight. They can knock the wind out of you. They can plaster an internal smile to your guts. They can shake you awake. There comes a reassurance with trusting your heart.

I know I made decisions based on passion when it came to pursuing an education and a career. 

I know that I am the woman I am today because I wasn't afraid to feel, to love, to hurt. 

I know that I've built strong, unique friendships because I stayed true to myself. 

I know that I am in a healthy, happy relationship because my heart was ready to let the right one in. 

All of these certainties were built by believing in my heart. 
When you know, you know. 
So trust what it tells you.

11.25.2011

friday funnies

Unfortunately I wasn't blessed with shaking my groove thing. My idea of dancing includes three necessary movements: swinging an imaginary lasso, the sprinkler, and magic feet. What's magic feet, you ask? It's kind of a mix between a shuffle and an Irish jig. I'm not sure what urged me to make up this fast-paced move, or what made me brand it with the name "magic feet," or what made me believe it was pretty darn cool. You can find me in a crowd pretty easily based on my spastic moves.

As fun as they are, sometimes they get me in trouble...hurt..or laughed at. Here are some of those moments...

I tried to look snazzy by dancing on a mini platform, only to pop my knee out and fall off. Even better is it was to that song "Bed Rock." I've now changed the lyrics to, "I can make your knee pop." That dance move landed me in physical therapy.

I wanted to learn how to "Dougie" so badly. This guy looked like he had it down, so I went up to him and tried to replicate his moves. It didn't take long for him to say, "You don't got it!" He then abruptly walked away. Ouch.

I was trying out some dance moves at a London club. I guess they were a little intense because a woman kindly pointed out that my skirt was tucked into the top of my tights. Everyone got a lovely view of my rear.

Sure, there are some embarrassing moments. I realize I won't ever be rhythmically coordinated, but what's that to stop me from havin' fun?
[click on image for source]

11.23.2011

pumpkin cheesecake snapshots

I mentioned in my 'Pumpkin Cheesecake' post that I was going to bake the sweet treat for Thanksgiving. So that's just what I did this afternoon. I loved watching all the ingredients swirl together, the dashes of spices sprinkling, the crust clinging to the sides of the pan. Baking truly is love.

Here are some snapshots...






The sweet treat is baking in the oven as I type. The warm smells are swirling around my apartment. I sure hope it tastes as good as it smells. Crossin' my fingers that Boyfriend and his family enjoy it.

what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. Thanksgiving
The day is just about here and I can not wait. I am excited to meet Boyfriend's family and to fill my belly up with yummy food. There is so much to be thankful for!

2. Food Network
I feel like I'm turning into an old woman with how much I watch this channel. There are just so many delicious things you can create in the kitchen and I love learning how. Chopped, Paula Deen, Cupcake Wars, Barefoot Contessa. GAH! So many great shows.

3. 80's movies
There is just something about the awesome music, hilarity, and simplicity of movies from this decade. You can't not smile after watching one. There are also some swoon-worthy hunks that we just don't have in film now-a-days!
[click on images for sources]

11.22.2011

lovin' the stuffin'


My favorite dish that's part of the Thanksgiving feast is definitely stuffing. I heap piles onto my plate and no breadcrumb is left behind. I would choose the dish with the most carb goodness to shove my face with.  I feel no guilt. The holiday only rolls around once a year, so I'm getting my year's worth.

I love to see different spins on the traditional bowl of bread pieces. I went through some Food Network recipes and found three that I must try...

 Ingredients
  • 1 pound hard chorizo diced
  • 1 white onion diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot (1 large carrot)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 cups crumbled corn bread
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Directions
Cook the chorizo in a skillet over medium heat until the fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Add the onion, carrotscelery, and garlic to the chorizo and cook until the vegetables have carmelized, about 10 minutes.
Add the crumbled corn bread, chicken stock, and cilantro. Make sure that the stuffing itself is not to dry but at the same time not to wet.
Place the stuffing into a buttered casserole and bake in the oven until heated through and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

 Ingredients
  • 16 cups 1-inch bread cubes, white or sourdough (1 1/2 pound loaf)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 onions)
  • 1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
  • Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large-diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
Directions
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 7 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Remove the bread cubes to a very large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the onions, celery, apples, parsley, salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add to the bread cubes.

In the same saute pan, cook the sausage over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a fork while cooking. Add to the bread cubes and vegetables.

Add the chicken stock and cranberries to the mixture, mix well, and pour into a 9 by 12-inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on top and hot in the middle. Serve warm.

Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 (7.4-ounce) jars roasted peeled whole chestnuts, coarsely broken
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 pound day-old ciabatta bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a large bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, and garlic. Saute until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the chestnuts and parsley. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl with the pancetta. Add the bread and Parmesan and toss to coat. Add enough broth to the stuffing mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.
[images courtesy of Food Network; edited]

11.21.2011

snapshots

I la-la-love Instagram. I get to take little peeks into my dear friend's lives through their snapshots, whether they are on tour, eating something yummy, or showing their pretty faces. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. 

Here are some favorites I've captured in the past couple weeks...



1. Boyfriend's new lil' addition to my heart
2. Banana and walnut pancakes from NCounter
3. Big day for wishes
4. My premature Christmas tree
5. Charlie snoozing
6. Boyfriend and I at the fair
7. Mid-painting
8. Cat eyes and feathers

pumpkin cheesecake

Thanksgiving is just about here and I am all smiles. I love everything about this holiday, from the delicious spread to spending time with family and friends. I will happily be spending Turkey Day with Boyfriend and his family. I am so excited (and nervous!) to meet everyone.


I am never one to show up empty-handed, especially around the holidays. I definitely want to treat them to something yummy. I needed a recipe for something sweet. Luckily, I am obsessed with watching the Food Network. Paula Deen made the tastiest looking pumpkin cheesecake the other day, and I just have to bake it. I hope it's a hit!


Here is the recipe...


Ingredients for crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter


Ingredients for filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For crust: In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside. For filling: Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined. Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
[recipe courtesy of Food Network; click on image for source]

11.20.2011

decisions, decisions

I recently reached a standstill in my life. While I've been happy with the routine I've become so familiar with, I haven't exactly been content. I know I am capable of more. I want to experience all the goodness of this life. I guess it's called growing up.

After a year and a half of living a graduate's life, I realize I want to be a student again. There is so much to learn and gain from schooling. My brain is far too hungry to sit around. So in order to feed it, I've applied for graduate school. I'm aiming to earn my Masters in Early Childhood Education. I've always known that later on in life I wanted to become a teacher, so why not now? I'm ready for a new adventure.

Along with deciding on graduate school, I've also decided to move...again. With rent increases, it's impossible to save money for possibilities in the future. I found a lovely (and reasonably priced) condo for Charlie and I to reside in. Moving is always exciting, but also very tiring. Luckily, I have wonderful friends, family, and a boyfriend for heavy lifting.

Looks like there are tons of fresh starts coming my way and I couldn't be more ready to take them on with a brave, smiling face. The support I have is so tremendous. Pieces are falling into place and it sure feels like magic. Maybe it's luck, or maybe it's timing. Whichever it is, I know that I am right where I am supposed to be.

sunday spark


"We bump into others and feel bashful at recognizing souls so similar to ourselves."
-Douglas Coupland

11.18.2011

friday funnies

These two little boys seriously make me giggle. Jimmy Kimmel finds the darndest children.


11.16.2011

what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. Comedies
It's been a little stressful lately in making some life decisions, but sitting down and watching a funny flick makes it better. Laughter is the best medicine.

2. Sleep
I think I've been lacking some good ol' shut eye because I sure have been snoozing a lot. It feels good to go to bed super early and get to work rejuvenated, ready to take on the day.

3. Christmas Trees
Perhaps I was a bit premature in putting up my Christmas tree, but I just love the holidays. Having it up just seems to make life a little brighter.
[click on images for sources]
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