Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Okay, so there is no better way to say it...I have been a blogging SLACKER. I feel like my life just got put on fast-forward...and here we are in AUGUST. Now, I know...I know...excuses, excuses, but I have decided that I need to get better about this. I need to LOVE blogging like I love Pinterest or as a dear co-worker of mine calls it, P-interest. Let me just fill you in on what's been up in our busy busy lives for the past two...yes, two months.

Let's start with weddings. We have been invited to a dozen weddings, literally. We're over-joyed for all of our dear friends and family members who are getting hitched...but it does tend to rule your social life, not that we have much of one without weddings. We have traveled far and wide this year...which means we've been on some great vacations...Mexico...Denver...and a little weekend getaway in Greenville, SC! We've got a couple more weddings to go and we're really looking forward to them! Now, moving on from weddings to what has really ruled our weekends...we have been busy little bees working on our sun room.

Some of you already know all about our ongoing project, but for those of  you who don''s probably our biggest project to tackle on our house. Our sun room, was once an open car port. Sometime during the life of our "fixer-upper" the owners closed in the carport to create a sun room. They then put up that really cheapo wood "paneling" that isn't actually paneling, but rather "fancy" plywood. To top it all off, they put down knock-off Berber carpet...themselves...which means raveling seams and all sorts of lovely issues. The heating and air system for the house, which is fairly new, had a bad connection to the sun room, leaving it hot in the summer and WAY chilly in the winter. From day one, Hubs and I have known that at some point we would have to tackle that room. We decided that we would take our time, and maybe over the course of several years, the room would finally be in working condition.

Weeellll, fast forward 8 months, and the room now has perfect heating and air, there is sheet rock over the old wood paneling. We built a wall to create a nice sized storage closet and every door and window has new trim. We added new crown moulding and new baseboards. We put up a new door into the room from the house, and a new door out of the room to outside. We ripped up the old carpet and my wonderful Hubs and some really good friends laid tile. Our trusty electrician friend pulled new wires and installed a new light fixture and here we are, 8 months later and the room is almost finished.

We couldn't have done it without help from our friends, and most importantly our dads! Both of them jumped in there ready to use some power tools, get their hands dirty, and give us a little O-J-T (for those of you who don't know my dad...that means On the Job Training). Our moms have helped us paint, clean, and even grout tile! They are some seriously awesome ladies who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty! Sooo...the only thing we have left to do, is finish building our built-in shelves. The frames are together, we just need to attach them to our brick wall, and then trim them out to make them look all fancy-schmancy. And then, we'll have an awesome and very empty sun room.

Like I said, life has been on fast forward. The next request from one of the readers of my blog(...a Miss AEC...yeah you...) I'm sure will be for pictures...bear with me. I've been promising you pictures for months...and I'll be honest...I keep forgetting. We have some pictures of things every step of the way. Because I have decided to dedicate more time to my blogging, I will promise you that I will post pictures, and a play-by-play this weekend.

Also, stay tuned for news on what Hubs and I are up to this weekend. It involves a furball...any guesses?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Never Ending Recipes

Good afternoon! It's May, and the South Carolina scorching summer is already upon us. Even though I'm back in the "real world" with a "real" 8:00am to 5:00pm job, I still feel like summer is a great excuse to play, just a little more than I might during the "school year". Now some of you who aren't familiar with my blog should know, that I'm not a teacher, nor do I work on a school schedule. However, that being said, I'm just a few years out of college and I still remember how it feels to have a summer break, hence the need for a little extra summer fun.

Herein lies the problem, ideally, I would soak up the summer time with a few new recipes BUT, I'm also trying to keep...or get girlish figure. The injury (here) really threw me off my otherwise excellent, if I do say so myself, workout routine. So, I'm trying to get back into the groove of getting out of bed at 4:55, yes ladies and gentlemen, 4:55...and dragging myself, sleepy eyed, to the gym. AND I'm trying to be healthy and get back in shape.

While summer recipes tend to be a bit more fresh and lite, I just caught an episode of Barefoot Contessa about pasta...and I'm hooked. I desperately need to try all of the recipes that I saw on her show, most importantly, I need to try her Lobster Mac and Cheese. It's beautiful! She uses sharp white cheddar and Gruyere to make the cheese sauce and then she mixes in 1 1/2 pounds of beautiful cooked lobster. So, I've decided that I might have to drop my diet for one evening so that I can try this divine recipe! If you'd like to give it a try, you can find it here.

If you're interested, here is a list of other recipes I'm getting excited about trying this summer: Tomato and Feta Pasta Salad, Tomato Feta Salad, Pesto, and The Barefoot Contessa's Lime Curd Tart. Obviously I'm a fan of Mrs. Ian Garten. She might been my cooking hero. So, as we dive into summer...head first, I'm going to try and use the extra hours of day light to grow some fantastic herbs to use in my new recipes! Happy Cooking!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cooking is Good for the Soul

As some of you might know, I enjoy playing chef in my kitchen. I love to cook. For me, cooking is an art, it's therapy. No massage in the world could relax the tension in my shoulders like chopping an onion or sautéing mushrooms.

Currently, I'm sitting at my kitchen island, with a glass of wine, watching my French blue Le Creuset dutch oven on the stove. It's a beautiful sight really...the fading French blue against the red wall of the kitchen. But, what's more beautiful than the sight of a pot on the stove is the smell. Oh, the smell. I love the fragrance of white wine, onion, and garlic simmering on the stove. I'm trying a new recipe tonight.

The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated. It's a fabulous, and very fancy magazine. I only describe it as fancy because it is printed on heavy's what I would call a "keeper". (It is going in the Save Pile after I finish cooking dinner tonight.)

This recipe is for "Almost No-Stir Risotto." It's a combination of some of my favorite ingredients. White wine, garlic, onion, chicken broth, and Arborio rice. I'm also adding mushrooms, just because. Just sautéing the onions brought my blood pressure down...pouring in the white wine relaxed my tense shoulders...and dumping in the arborio rice lifted the weight off my chest.

There are still several minutes before dinner will be served, and yet I'm already feeling the same contentment one gets from eating a satisfying meal. Cooking really is good for the soul...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Perfect Day

Close your eyes... is the most perfect day. You're outside lying in the grass. You can smell spring in the slight breeze that is blowing. The sunlight is streaming down through the trees overhead. You can see little blades of green grass sticking up through the brown dead grass of last summer. The birds are chirping from their perches in the bud-covered trees. The daffodils are blooming their yellow and cream colored petals a warm welcome against the grey and brown backdrop left by winter. 
Open your eyes, the sky is blue, bluer than a robin's egg, almost electric. A perfect breeze, the sound of lawn mowers and pruning in the distance. The warm sun shining in the cloudless friends, it is Spring.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Thing We Often Forget

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am what you would call a "high-stress" individual, for those of you who know me, this must come as a shock. Yes, I am rolling my eyes... I have a tendency to get a bit stressed out  and that is exactly what I was yesterday (except maybe without the "a bit" part...). Typically when I have a stressful day, I do one of two things: run or shop. Recently however, these two activities haven't been possible for me. First, being a newlywed...the shopping aspect is somewhat limited as we are on a bit of a budget.

Second, the running...Oh, the running...

Now, I know you're asking what could possibly be wrong with the running, as we all know it's perfectly free to step outside for a jog. Well, my body has had to pay for my running recently. I currently have two stress fractures, one in my right foot, and one in my right ankle. In order to heal, I've been given specific instructions to "STOP RUNNING!"(at least for now). In other words, both of my stress release activities are currently not available to me, which means that stressed is really an understatement for what I am...or was (yesterday).

Yesterday I thought that if I let myself get out of control just a little bit more...I could have totally SCREAMED. Instead, I went on a nice 3 mile walk with a good friend. We talked about life, our marriages (she's a newlywed too), the need for a meat, a starch, and a vegetable at every meal, and not-gonna-lie we gossiped...yes, I realize these are odd topics, but that's the beauty of walking with a good friend.

When I got home, I felt more relaxed, but still tense. My orthopedist and physical therapist have told me that I need to start swimming. This is stressful to me. I've never been a "lap swimmer". But I decided last night that I would give it a try this morning. Hence, the still-present stress after my glorious walk last night.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKK!! The idea of stepping out into the gym in my bathing suit and hopping into the pool to swim laps with's a bit frightening. Not to mention, I knew ahead of time that I wasn't going to be good at swimming laps. I mean come on, it's NOT easy! So, with all of those feelings building up inside me, I was a mess last night. I put it aside, cooked dinner, and spent some quality time with the hubby. He's fabulous. I know I've said that before, but he is, TRULY Fabulous. We'll get to that in a minute, though.

This morning, 5:00 comes and my alarm begins yelling at me. So, I roll out of bed, throw on my swim attire, grab my gym bag and drive myself (yawning all the way) to the gym. "Buck up" is what I kept telling myself. Just walk in there and get in the pool. And I did. I swam for 20 minutes, doing laps for 15 minutes and treading water for the other 5 minutes. Now, I know that at this point, you're thinking...ok...where is this going...Don't worry, I'm getting there.

It worked. And by it, I mean everything. Something clicked in my mind while I was swimming those laps this morning. I've been so stressed out, so focused on myself that I forgot how incredibly blessed I am. Say what? Where did that come from...I know that's what you're thinking... But, this morning in that quiet greenhouse-like room at the gym I realized that my problem is that I need to refocus. These were my thoughts this morning in the pool...

1. I have a fabulous best friend (one of many fabulous best friends...also a blessing) who walks with me several times a week. She listens to me, I listen to her, we laugh together.
2. I have an unbelievably supportive family who loves me. My parents listen to my bitching (come on people...let's call it what it is...) and they always offer advice or remind me of how lucky I am, remind me my "problems" are trivial compared to the real problems some others face. And best of all, they love me no matter what.
3. I have a wonderful job. I work with awesome people and for a great company.
4. Though I have an injury, it's not life threatening. I am healing and I can afford to see a doctor and a physical therapist.
5. To top it all off, I have a wonderful husband. He is helpful around the house. He loves me no matter what. He gives amazing hugs and makes me laugh non-stop when we're together. He makes me feel safe and special.

So, that brings me to the title of the blog. The thing we often forget, or I often forget, is that I am so blessed. I forget how wonderful my life is. The stress that I feel is not serious stress, not stress over something life threatening or life changing. It's just silly stress. So when life starts feeling crazy, take a deep breath...and dive in...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day #2 Dinner

Good Morning! It's Snow Day # 3 except today I am actually going to work at noon! It will be a nice break from being at home, but I must admit...I was just beginning to enjoy the time off.

Snow Day number 1 was a bit boring, I started the day without a plan and though the hubby and I had a nice day of bonding...we ran out of things to do pretty quickly. So, I was prepared for Snow Day #2. I decided that though the roads were a bit treacherous, if Hubs could go to work, I could probably venture out of the house for a short time. So, I made a little picnic lunch and took it to his office. He and I ate together and talked about the snow and then I went to the grocery store.

The grocery store is, admittedly, one of my favorite places. Currently, due to slight budget restrictions (the Hubs and I are trying to save money for home improvements, traveling, etc.) I cannot shop at The Fresh Market everyday, though I would LOVE to. So, instead, I shop at The Piggly WIggly. The Pig, as I like to refer to it, is like the Chick-Fil-A of grocery stores. On every aisle and in every checkout lane, there is a very nice, polite high school student waiting to help you. I'm beyond impressed by their service and their phenomenal employees. But, I digress. Back to the plan for Snow Day 2.

I went to The Pig, after lunch with the hubs, and got ingredients for two new recipes that I wanted to try! I chose recipes that only required me purchase a few items so that my snow day shopping wouldn't turn into a "spree".

I decided, as you read earlier, to bake scones (they were delicious) and for dinner try a recipe from the January issue of Martha Stewart Living. I opted to try the Paprika and Garlic Roasted Chicken. And I thought it would be wonderful paired with rice, and asparagus.
So, the chicken. I purchased a whole chicken, washed the chicken and placed it, breast side up, on a baking sheet. I rubbed the chicken with olive oil and the rubbed on a mixture of paprika, oregano, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper. If you're following along in Martha Stewart Living, you'll see that I tweaked the recipe a touch...but only because I was running low on Paprika! Then I put one head of garlic (cut in half) in the cavity of the chicken, placed it in the oven and let it roast. The rest of the process was a bit more involved, but I won't bore you with the details. (I'll post a link to the website)

The chicken was fantastic. It was not dry, but rather quite juicy with loads of flavor. It was certainly a recipe I would try again. The asparagus with it was excellent and cooked to perfection, in a bit of boiling water until bright green and still crisp.

Now, as the snow and ice is beginning to melt, I'm preparing to go back to the grind. But I will say, my little taste of "house wife" was kind of nice...

Recipe for Paprika-Rubbed Chicken with Roasted Garlic

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Marvelous, light, fluffy, wonderful scones. I remember the first time I had a scone. I was ten years old and traveling in England with my family. After a long day of walking, touring, antiquing and eating "pub grub", we decided to have afternoon tea. It was marvelous. Hot tea and a warm scone after spending the day in the cool damp, English weather...sheer perfection.
A typical English tradition, "Afternoon Tea" usually occurs around 4:00 in the afternoon. It is basically a scheduled snack time. Typical foods for Tea are little finger sandwiches (cucumber with cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill, etc), hot English tea (English Breakfast or Earl Grey, typically), and wonderful scones with clotted cream and jam. Scones are like our biscuits, but with a hint of sweetness and usually a little fruit, like Raisins.

Today, on Snow Day #2, I elected to bake scones and have tea while I enjoyed the fire that I built...and a little blogging. I chose to make Ina Garten's, The Barefoot Contessa's, Raisin Scones. They were excellent...a bit dry, but I think that is because my baking skills need to be perfected, desperately. I must admit I did skimp on the clotted cream...while it is mouth-wateringly wonderful, it is also very difficult to make and requires a bit more preparation that my baking "whim" from this afternoon. But a touch of butter and some wonderful apricot jam will do just fine.

Our house now smells like a combination of sweet, warm scones and a roaring, smoky fire...all the smells of an English house. Can you tell I'm craving a little trip? Now off to enjoy a hot scone with a little tea and a lot of relaxing by the warm fire. Cheers!

Snow Day

Happy Snow Day! We're on Snow Day number 2 here in Columbia, SC. It's a rarity that we ever see such beautiful, white, fluffy snow in this part of the United States. But...this winter seems to be quite a different story. This is our second snow this winter and it's only the second week of January!

I must say, I'm not a huge fan of snow. I don't like the cold weather that comes along with it, nor do I like that one step outside disrupts the perfect layer of frosting that tops our yard. Don't even get me started on the way I feel about snow once it begins to melt and has been driven on and is beginning to turn a lovely shade of dirt brown.

But, enough of that complaining. I have to say that this particular snow, which has yielded two days off (and a little bit of boredom) has actually been quite nice. Yesterday the hubby and I spent the day together. We walked through our neighborhood taking pictures and enjoying the fresh, crisp, cool air and then spent the rest of the day lounging around together. It was a nice break and a nice day of husband/wife bonding. Today the hubs is at work, which leaves me rather bored and sitting at home. I've been brainstorming on a project for the day. I'm watching "White Collar" a USA Network favorite of mine and searching for new recipes to try. 

Today is a great day to cook. I'm thinking about baking scones this afternoon and preparing a roasted chicken for dinner tonight. Martha Stewart Living has some excellent recipes in this month's issue...I'm just dying to try one!

This afternoon, I think I'll build a fire in the fireplace, and curl up next to it with a fresh, hot scone, and a cup of tea. I'm going to read a couple of English magazines that my parents brought me from their trip abroad, and I'm going to pretend that I'm English. It sounds like a nice plan for the afternoon, a fabulous way to spend a snow day!

And perhaps, if this afternoon goes as well as planned, I'll write you again to tell you about how delicious my scones are! Happy Snow Day! Cheers!