Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas Dear Friends

My red eye flight to Baltimore takes off tonight and I cannot wait to hug my family.  This will be Bill's first Baltimore Christmas and to say I am excited would be an understatement.  

I know a lot of my posts come way after the fact, and in 2014 I have not shared updates on a quick 30th birthday trip to Vegas for a dear friend, a wonderful Friendsgiving that made my heart happy and multiple recipes I intended to share.  You will just have to wait until 2015 and a little bit of late timing to see those posts.  I guess what I learned this year is priorities.  I have tried to prioritize friends, money, relationships, work, family and my marriage better than before and it will be a goal every year for the rest of my life.  This blog took a back seat in some ways, but in others I think that it just became what it should be.  Here when I needed it and wanted to share something and out of my mind when I didn't.

Bill and I will be in Baltimore until Sunday evening and I will be soaking up family time with my parents, all of my siblings and their significant others, my sweet little niece and so many friends and family you probably would not believe it.  

I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and hope that you take the time over the next week or two to really be intentional about being with the people that you love. 

Merry Christmas dear friends.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Food I Ate Friday - Annette's Enchiladas

I stole this picture from this blog because the few I took were not cute :)

Ingredients

1 cup Sour Cream (8 ounces)
1 large can Green Enchilada Sauce (28 ounces, Las Palmas is the best)
2 8 Ounce cans Green Chilies, diced
3 cups cooked Chicken, shredded (a roasting chicken from grocery store works great)
2-3 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
12-15 Corn Tortillas
1 cup Chicken Broth
chopped Cilantro, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 Mix green sauce, canned chilies, and sour cream together in a bowl. Set aside.

Simmer chicken broth in a skillet. Have shredded chicken, cheese ready. Make yourself a little assembly line.

Assembly: Spread 1 ladle full of sauce mixture in bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Dip tortillas in broth and layer over sauce. Next a layer of chicken, then cheese, sauce, repeat…tortillas, chicken, cheese, sauce. Last layer is tortillas, sauce and cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until warmed through.  

Garnish with cilantro.


This recipe is super simple, but really delivers a great home cooked meal feeling that leaves you with a little warm and fuzzy :)  I blogged about the book Bread and Wine awhile back, and this is one of the many recipes from that book I have made since posting that blog.  

It's cozy and raining here today and I am looking forward to yummy food and Hot Chocolate with Baileys tonight before bed.  With only two weeks until Christmas my heart will be happy no matter what, this season is my favorite and I look forward to all the goodness it holds all year long.

Eat well this weekend friends :)  

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Dunstervilles Tie the Know - My Little Sister's Wonderful Wedding Part 2


This wedding was incredible. 

From the moment we arrived in Baltimore the love was truly tangible, and it never stopped flowing until the second we left. 

As these pictures show, the day of was simple beautiful.  Faith and Joshes unforgettable energy and style was displayed in all its glory with such a wonderful grace.  The few days before held the rehearsal dinner, which you can read about on my dear friend Ashley's blog and check out her wonderful pictures; and bachelor/bachelorette parties in the city, and we celebrated the only way the Wecker family knows how, with lots of drinks and lots of food.  


Faith and Josh glowed.  They are so beautiful together and so in love.  Faith was an over the top gorgeous bride.  I still can't even believe how breataking she was.  And Josh was her handsome groom all day long and treated her with such a perfect love.  Man, do I wish that day could have lasted forever.  Weddings are such a reflection of a couple and this wedding really showed who these two are.  They love their familes and their friends and they love to have a good time and show genuine love to those around them.

When I have permission to post the professional photos, I will share them with the world (the bride and groom have not even seen them yet), but until then these pictures compiled from lots of different phones will have to do.  It was such a perfect day and one I will remember forever.

Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Dunsterville!  We love you so!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pittsburgh and Candy Make Bill a Happy Man


Our trip to Pittsburgh really was a little magical.  It started with a road trip from New Jersey to Pittsburgh, which brought us to a middle point around Hershey, PA.  Bill is a candy addict, so we stopped to buy up as much candy as we could fit in our trunk, and he was in heaven :)  He found dark chocolate mini reeses cups and wanted to eat them all in the car.  It really is such a fun place to visit, and one I look forward to going to with him again in the future.


When we were 30 minutes outside of Pittsburgh it started to pour down rain, and while that would normally get me down, I was so excited to see my twin, sister-in-law and niece it didn't even phase me.  We pulled up to a waving Ryleigh and Cristina and Christian returned home from work shortly after we arrived.  Ryleigh recognized us and said "Ry!" and "B-ll" when we walked up the front steps (She doesn't quite have Bill down yet, but she will get there).  That night we ate spaghetti and played Uno and tucked Ryleigh in and read her bedtime stories.  We laughed and relaxed and just enjoyed being around each other.  Honestly, it was so wonderful.


The next day we went to the zoo in the morning and saw Ryleigh in her element.  She LOVES animals.  Everything made her smile and laugh.  We spent the day chatting and walking and hanging at the house.  We sat in their back yard for awhile together while Ryleigh took a nap.  That evening we went to feed the ducks and eat Thai food in a wonderful little row home converted into a restaurant.  


When we pulled away from their house the following morning, I cried.  It had been such a perfect couple of days together.  We were all headed to the same place, and as you will hear the wedding really was the culmination of it all, but man this time together was really very special. 


Thank you for having us Christian and Cristina.  
To say we had a good time would be an understatement.  
We love you so much!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Garden State - Our Time in New Jersey


How ironic that New Jersey is called the Garden State, because we spent a lot of time playing in Bill's Aunt and Uncle's garden.  His Aunt Kristin showed us everything they had planted and we helped to pick the harvest and learned their methods and techniques.  The picture above is one days worth of spoils, and made some really yummy salsa if I do say so myself :)

Our time in New Jersey was wonderful and relaxing.  I was so thrilled that this is how our trip began.  We visited the local brew pup, cooked dinner together and made drinks, stopped by the cider farm, played games, saw historical sites, walked through town, went to a farmer's market, shopped a little and spent time in our comfy clothes lounging in their home by the fire or eating snacks on the deck.  Honestly, it could not have been more perfect. 

When Kristin pulled up to the airport with coffee for everyone in thermoses and tea for me, I knew that this time together would be wonderful.  Even after the haze that follows a red eye, the cold rain woke us up and brought us into her reality which she was so thrilled to show us.  I can't wait to go back and spend more time in this enchanting area.



Thank you for sharing your home with us Kristin and Al!  
I loved every minute of it :)  

More to come on our East Coast trip soon...

In the meantime, enjoy your Thanksgiving friends!  
We all have so much to be grateful for :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Be Encouraged - How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

Sometimes a hymn hits me in church like a ton of bricks - the significance of it overwhelms me.  Two weeks ago we sang these words and every one dripped off my tongue like water for my soul.  Isn't it amazing the effect something can have on you?  It refreshed my mind set and gave me such a future perspective and reminded me what is truly important.  I hope it has the same effect on you.

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds and drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole, and calms the troubled breast
Tis' manna to the hungry soul and to the weary rest.

Dear name! the Rock on which I build my shield and hiding place
My never failing treas'ry filled with boundless stores of grace.

Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend, my Prophet, Priest and King
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart, and cold my warmest thought
But when I see thee as thou art, I'll praise thee as I ought.

Till then I would thy love proclaim with every fleeting breath
And may the music of thy name refresh my soul in death.


My prayer for each of you is to find words that bring life into perspective for you and make you live in a way that you can be proud of and honors the Lord.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Food I Ate Friday - Open-Face Vietnamese Chicken Sandwiches

Open-Face Vietnamese Chicken Sandwiches

Ingredients

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
4 radishes, thinly sliced
2 crusty hoagie-style rolls
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 4 limes)
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons chopped cornichons or gherkins, plus 1 tablespoon brine from the jar
Kosher salt
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (from 1 small chicken)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus cilantro leaves for topping
1 tablespoon Asian chile sauce (such as Sriracha)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Soak the red onion, carrots and radishes in ice water for 5 minutes, then drain. Split each roll in half lengthwise to make 4 pieces. Transfer to the oven to toast.

Whisk 1/4 cup mayonnaise, the lime juice, honey, cornichons and brine, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken, onion, carrots, radishes and chopped cilantro and toss. Mix the chile sauce and the remaining 1/4 cup mayonnaise in a small bowl.

Spread each piece of bread with some chile mayonnaise, then top with the chicken salad and cilantro leaves.


These bad boys have been in me and Bill's lunch boxes (figuratively speaking of course - more like leftover plastic bags) all week :)  Honestly, they were absolutely delicious and super easy to make.  We skipped the oven toasting step (although that is the classier version), and just got some good crusty bread and toasted it in the toaster.  We also had a big jar of capers on hand, so we used those instead of cornichons.  It has absolutely been a lunch worth repeating!

Hoping you have been eating well and trying new things :)  I have another delightful recipe to share next week, so be sure to check back!

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/open-face-vietnamese-chicken-sandwiches-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Dunsterville's Tie the Knot - My Little Sister's Wonderful Wedding Part 1


Before I tell you about our East Coast trip and how each part of it was even better than we could have imagined, I want you to know that the culmination of it all, the Dunsterville wedding, was absolutely breath taking.  I know everyone thinks that their family is the greatest and no one could compare, but there is a certain magic in mine that I know nothing could ever touch.

The older we get the more sincere we become.  I feel like each person has changed for the best over the past few years, but above all else, my siblings have just grown up.  This celebration felt meaningful and special.  I cannot possibly put it into words.  It sparkled and glowed and couldn't possibly have been as fabulous as I am remembering it.

I will do a blog next week with more pictures and anecdotes and specific memories, but what I wanted to say today was this... 

Congratulations Faith and Josh!  As our speech so colorfully said, you were meant for each other and are such a wonderful couple.  Bill and I have been honored to go through your dating journey with you and are thrilled to live near you as you begin your marriage.  We love you both so much and are so happy to finally call Josh our brother!  Cheers to many anniversaries to celebrate in your future :)

Stay tuned as I catch you up on our three legged trip and lot's of pictures and memories come flowing, also a great recipe post to come on Friday!  


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Where Do I Begin?

The past month has been a blur.

I feel like I can't even begin to catch you up on the whirlwind of amazing moments.

In the next few weeks I want to sit down and share about my East Coast Trip, the Dunsterville Wedding, some fall recipes and so much more.  

Please keep being patient with me while I gather pictures and memories and compile them into a few blog posts that hopefully will give you a glimpse into my life :)

I'll be back soon...I promise.

Until then, I hope this makes you smile!

There is no angry way to say “bubbles.”- challenge accepted!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sweet Little Ryleigh - On Our Upcoming Trip

Remember this little bean?  Well she has certainly grown and is getting A LOT of personality :)  

Before heading to my sister's wedding in Baltimore next weekend (October 11) we are visiting some family on the East Coast.  First we are heading to New Jersey and spending time with Bill's Aunt and Uncle and then we are heading to Pittsburgh to hang out with my twin brother, his wife and our sweet little niece.  We are planning a zoo trip, spaghetti night and lots of time relaxing. 


I receive a daily text of pictures of my niece from my sister-in-law and below are some of my favorites I have gotten over the last few months.  I just can't wait to hug her.  She really is such a spot of joy for everyone and we are thrilled to get to spend time around them all.  






The packing has begun and we take a red eye flight to New Jersey on Friday night.  I haven't been super active on here as of late, and I guess that won't change for a few weeks.  

Cheers to the beginning of fall, family time galore and a fantastic wedding ahead!

Friday, September 19, 2014

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things - Happy Images

I love this small collection of happy pictures.  It's the little things that often time bring so much joy.  A donut, a sunflower, a puppy... the list is endless.  As we move from summer into fall, the list for me seems to shift and I love that with different seasons come different happy things.  I will post on some of my favorite fall things I am sure, but for now these bright colorful images hold onto a last little bit of summer for me.


My sister Joy's tumblr could be described as a collection of happy images in a lot of ways - while she intersperses words of wisdom as well - if you get a chance you should pop over and scroll through.  So many pictures will bring a smile to your face.

♥
sheepadoodle
elephant love. but does he like it though?

sunflowers

Have a lovely weekend Friends ;)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wedding Festivities - Palm Springs Bachelorette

My sister's bachelorette party last month was such a fun weekend!  Before any of the festivities started, me and her bestie were able to pull off a huge surprise and fly her out here for the weekend without Faith knowing.  It was so fun to see Faith over the moon excited for her to be there for the very sparkly celebration.  We drove up together and talked and sang and danced a little in the car.  We arrived at the absolutely beautiful hotel and could not believe how blessed we were to have my parents let us use it for 2 nights.  It was gorgeous!


A group of her favorite girls headed out to Palm Springs to meet us, which is about an hour and a half (without traffic) from where we live.  We spent lots of time chatting and sitting by the pool, had a few drinks, went to a lovely dinner and went out dancing.   We bought her gifts, ate her favorite snacks, wore sparkly clothes at her request and overall just had the most amazing time.  We all just wanted to keep hanging out at the end of the weekend, which shows it was a blast.  I will always think of this weekend fondly.


My sister has the lovliest friends, I'll be honest, there is some overlap so I am a little biased!  They all really tried to make it special for her.  There was no drama, such wonderful conversation and an outpouring of love for her.  It makes me happy to know that she is in good hands in her friendships and that she is surrounded by so much love and so many good people.  


The wedding is in less than a month, and I can't wait to see these ladies faces on the dance floor.  It's gonna be the best day celebrating the couple we all love so much!

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Season of Reading - The Language of Flowers


This book hooked me.

It's hard to review it, because I want everyone to read it and I don't want to give anything away!  It brings you through a time in a young woman's life, where she is emancipated from the Foster Care system and has to make a way for herself, and her path is both fascinating and alluring.  The characters she encounters and the way she spends her time fascinated me and the more I read the more I wanted to read.  You flashback to a certain time period in her past which brings her into a completely different light and helps you understand why she reacts to things the way she does.  Isn't it 

The fact that different flowers communicate different things is a concept I was not familiar with, but something about the way she talks about flowers made me want to run through a field of them and go to a flower market immediately.  A girl who is in most ways not dignified or put together certainly appreciates beauty in this way, and she learns to become more comfortable with the beauty she possesses within herself.

I would recommend this book to everyone and anyone.  There is something beautiful about it.  I don't want to give away themes or tell you too much, just that I want you to read it, and then tell me that you read it and then talk to me about it!

Have a lovely weekend friends!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Season of Reading - The Road of Lost Innocence


This book was tough for me.  Not because it wasn't good; it was excellent.  But rather because it made me feel like the bubble I allow myself to live in is ignorant to the world around me.  The Road of Lost Innocence focuses on the life of Somaly Mam and her journey through the sex trafficking industry of Cambodia as a child and teenager;  followed by her journey to start an organization to rescue girl's out of sex trafficking all across Southeast Asia. 

It rips out your heart that someone could be treated this way.  The industry that this book describes will make you want to cry and scream, and the way that it numbed her and others to even seeing themselves as fully human will teach you something about what abuse does to humanity.  The things that are done to these children are wrong.  I could not even believe them as I turned each page.

This book makes me feel like there is nothing I can do.  This woman knows the system inside and out, and so was able to work against it, but not without consequence.  She experienced death and pain and attack and everything that comes with those things.  Her story hurts the deepest parts of my soul.  Every part of her life is difficult, but that doesn't stop her from trying.  It makes me think I need to try harder to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than myself, because the simple fact that I am typing these words shows how fortunate I am.

Wow, just reflecting back, this book had a profound effect on me.  The way it is written is very matter of fact and not emotional.  This style choice breaks me down as the things she is writing are extremely emotional for me.  While some controversy surrounds whether the book is true in its entirety, one basic truth remains the same: Horrible things are being done to children across this world and it is hard to stop them, but it is people like Somaly Mam that bring us hope that even rescuing one girl makes a difference.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Food I Ate Friday - Thai Chicken Soup

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Red Curry Paste
2 12 Ounce Cans of Coconut Milk
2 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Peanut Butter
1 1/2 Pounds Chicken Breasts, Cut into 1 1/2 Inch Pieces (we shredded ours at the end while it was still in the soup - it just fell apart)
1 Red Bell Pepper, Seeded and Sliced into 1/4 Inch Slices
1 Onion, Thinly Sliced
1 Heaping Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, Minced
1 Cup Frozen Peas, Thawed
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
Cilantro for Garnish
Cooked White Rice


Directions

1. Mix the curry paste, coconut milk, chicken stock, fish sauce, brown sugar and peanut butter in a 4-1/2 to 6-quart slow-cooker bowl. 

2. Place the chicken breast, red bell pepper, onion and ginger in the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

3. Add in the peas and cook for 1/2 hour longer. 

4. Stir in lime juice and serve with cilantro and white rice.


Recently I was missing Thailand a lot.  The colors and flavors and smells all make me feel so relaxed.   When an old friend linked this recipe through Instagram, the picture alone was enough to make me drool and I was thrilled to find out I only needed to buy a few ingredients to make this in my house that week.  As usual, the most appealing part was the crock pot, and boy did it deliver.  I loved every single drop of this, but more importantly, Bill told me he could eat this once a week.  He is by no means a picky eater, but I love finding things he really loves :)  So, this recipe will quickly become a staple in the Roger's household and I hope you like it too! 

As always, I want to make sure the photo credit and recipe credit go to the right place!  In this instance I pulled the recipe and photo from the blog FoodieCrush and would recommend you taking a look at the other recipes on there.  Lot's of goodness I intend to dive into.

Have a lovely weekend friends and eat well!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bacon and Barrels

I don't even know where to begin.  Have you ever even heard an event title that was more exciting/awesome sounding?  This weekend was one of my favorites from this summer.   Bill and I headed up to a town called Los Olivos, which is about 45 minutes outside of Santa Barbara with a couple of friends to spend a weekend staying in one of the most beautiful homes I have ever had the privilege of staying in and to attend a food and beverage festival to top all others. 


Let's start with the house.  No amount of pictures could do it justice, you guys it was just gorgeous.  The kitchen was a dream and all the couches were soft and cozy.  Speaking of cozy, there were three fireplaces and there were fresh cut sunflowers that I felt like were picked with me in mind.  The view from the backyard was just lovely and made me feel like all the traffic to get up there was completely worth it.  Sigh, just thinking about it makes me anxious for next year when we go back (oh yeah, we decided this needed to be a yearly trip!).  The house was just comfortable.  We played music and sipped wine and just soaked it up.


We had never met the other couple that met us up there, but our group of six quickly found a rhythm.  They made us laugh and he cooked incredible meals for us just because he loves to cook.  And let me tell you, this man knows what's up in the kitchen!  It was so fun to just sit and enjoy a meal together on our beautiful patio the first night followed by fire place and hot tub time.  We all looked up at the stars and were reminded of how blessed we are.

The festival was better than I anticipated.  Sure it was crowded, but the food and drinks were really to die for.  Fantastic beer, wine and cocktails were flowing and after having bacon themed pizza, ice cream sundaes, biscuits, coconut curry jambalaya, bahn mi steamed bun pork belly tacos, chocolates, and so much more I was not over it.  Trays of bacon were being passed around and I could not resist.  Everything was just delectable and a foodies dream.


When we left the next morning my eyes genuinely welled up with tears.  You know those weekends you never want to end?  Yeah, this was one of them.  I just loved those people, that house, the morning light and the ambiance of such a fantastic setting.  We already bought our tickets for next year, and I can't wait to do it over again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It's the Little Things - Summer Time Goodness


When August is about half way through, I have to admit I get giddy that fall will begin.  However, looking back on this summer I can't help but smile and realize that I have had a lot of wonderful times and memories this time around and before I am ready to move on into my favorite season; I want to take a moment to look back on all the fun.  Summer concerts, the fair, coffee dates with friends, weekend trips, the 4th of July, trying new food, long walks with my husband, facetime dates with my family and lots of pictures of my niece on my daily text messages from my sister in law.  Overall, I'd say this was a killer summer!

Bill and I had lots of weekend trips: San Diego, Las Vegas, Visalia, Los Olivos and Baltimore.  Every trip was met with much anticipation, and every trip delivered.  I wouldn't trade one memory, and I am so thankful for all the opportunities I was given and for the deepened bonds of friendship and family :) It was in the small moments of reading in the morning light, soaking in some sunshine, walking with my mom when she came to visit, seeing my husband smile while his favorite band played on a perfect summer evening and stumbling around Vegas with our best friends that I found the most joy.  It's the little things friends...  Each of these pictures represents a sweet memory of a small thing that made me smile.

Having just a few more weeks of summer left makes me want to soak up BBQ weather and beautiful summer evenings.  

Cheers to finishing the summer strong!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Food I Ate Fridays - Green Goddess Dressing

You guys… this dressing is awesome.  I have to admit, I am most excited to use it on fish tacos this weekend, but it has been a lovely dressing for salads during the week :)  I am a sucker for a good salad dressing, and this one definitely has delivered.   

Bill and I have stopped buying dressing and have been making them instead.  It keeps the guessing out of it and you actually know what you are consuming.  It seemed intimidating at first, but it has been really fun to come up with new flavor combinations.  I found this particular recipe through Pinterest, and I have included a link to the originator at the bottom of this post.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have :)

Have a lovely weekend dear friends!

Healthy Green Goddess Dressing | A Couple Cooks

Ingredients

2 scallions
½ green jalapeƱo pepper
⅔ cup Greek yogurt
½ cup lightly packed cilantro
Juice from 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
⅓ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey

Directions

Chop the scallions. 

Seed and dice the jalapeno pepper.

In the bowl of a blender or immersion blender cup, add ⅔ cup Greek yogurt,
½ cup lightly packed cilantro, juice from 1 lime (2 tablespoons), ⅓ cup olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon honey. 

Blend to combine.

Transfer to a sealable container; stores in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Credit where credit is due! Image and Recipe came from Here :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Lovely Afternoon Bridal Shower


When my mom was in town a few weeks ago, we had a lovely afternoon bridal shower for my little sister Faith.  The idea was based around a British tea (as she is going to London for her honeymoon) so it was lots of finger "sandwiches" and treats that would go with hot tea.  Bridal showers are so wonderful as the bride because you are surrounded by your favorite people.  Watching my sister get spoiled with friendship, hugs and gifts was wonderful.  




 What a fun right of passage!  This is the 10th wedding I have been in (I know it is crazy), and every shower feels so fun and loving and personal.  The ladies that helped me throw this shower were really incredible and really love my sister, and I feel like it showed so well.  They each had really sweet, personal touches that made it overall relaxing and enjoyable and made it feel so very genuine.  I loved the "real" plates, homemade food and drinks, sparkly touches and overall feel of this afternoon tea.



 A wedding is such a fantastic thing to celebrate.  I am really looking forward to my sister marrying the man of her prayers and I just love that as women we get to celebrate in such unique and creative ways :)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Food I Ate Fridays - BLT Pasta Salad

BLT Pasta Recipe


Ingredients

8 ounces uncooked mezze penne pasta
6 center-cut bacon slices 
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved 
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce fresh Romano cheese, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)


Directions

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook 6 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add tomatoes and salt to drippings in pan; cook 3 minutes or until tomatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Add spinach and pasta to pan; cook 1 minute or just until spinach begins to wilt, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle pasta with bacon, pepper, and cheese.


This Cooking Light Recipe (and photo) was so simple and if you use the portions above it should yield 3-4 servings.  I really loved how quick it was for a weeknight meal, and any time I have bacon I feel indulgent.  I actually used arugula instead of spinach and loved the result.

Eat well my friends and have a lovely weekend!


Friday, July 25, 2014

A Penny For Your Thoughts - On Being a Godmother

These are my godsons, Eli and Aiden.  

To say I love them would not even begin to describe the way I feel about them.  


These boys are so special to me and they have an important place in my heart.  I want to help their parents protect them and show them unending love and support.  I want to make sure they never feel a moment of pain that is within my control.  I want to be around them all the time and I want them to know that I am always here for them. 

This is all hard when one of these tiny little gentlemen lives in Maryland and the other in Oregon and I live in California.  A long distance godmother is something I never knew I would be, but I am really enjoying the journey.  As they get older and understand where things are coming from I plan to send them notes, letters, gifts and reminders of what is important in life.  I want to get to Oregon to see Aiden again and squeeze those big cheeks while he is still so little, and his first birthday in November cannot come soon enough so he will be down here and in my arms.  I will see Eli in October and again at Christmastime and I can't wait to give him hugs and kisses.

One of these beautiful boys moms laughed when she found out I had another godson and asked if her little boy had a godbrother, to which I replied "I guess that's how it works!"  The idea of these two being brothers in the Lord warmed my heart so much because I love their parents so much that the idea was completely overwhelmingly amazing.  My family really is extended into these little boys and their parents.  They are a part of my heart and a part of my family.  These two being connected in this way made me feel like two of my worlds got tied together and I was so thrilled to imagine this little God family that was created through both of the couples honoring me with this responsibility.


Eli and Aiden,

I am here always.  I love you both so much and can't believe I have the privilege of being your godmother.  I encourage you to dream big and adventure your entire life.  I will even take you on adventures if you want!   I want to be an escape for you and someone you can turn to for advice.  I will always remember you at this age, innocent and so happy.  I will dance with you at your weddings and celebrate life alongside your families.  Never forget that you are dear to me.

Love you so much,

"Aunt" Ryan  


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Mommy's Visit


My mom came for a visit last week and it was so lovely to just be around her.

She came into town for my sister's California Bridal Shower, and I will blog about that wonderful event seperately.  This entry is just to dwell on the wonderful time I had with her.  She stayed with Bill and I in our loft and we spent mornings together eating breakfast and going on walks.  One morning she even helped me through using my sewing machine :)  She drank plain black hot tea and we chatted about life every day before I felt for work.  I also got to spend lunch with her everyday while she was here, which was almost a whole week.  I just love to be around her. It didn't matter where we were, I just loved spending time together.

We got to watch a beach sunset, eat at a few fun restaurants, hang out with extended family and cook a little together.  She is a woman I aspire to be like, and she will genuinely do anything for anyone and never view it as an inconvenience.  I love that.  She literally is never annoyed with what anyone asks of her, she just does it because someone needs it and that is enough of a reason for her.  She never looks into why they do or what they did to get themselves into the position they are in, she just helps because she sees a need. I want to be more like her in that way.

I love my mom so much and cried a lot when I dropped her off at the airport.  Living my life so far away from her seems impossible lately and I miss her more every day, but God continues to reveal to us both why we are where we are and how he is shaping us through the distance and despite it.  I pray one day to live close enough to go over for dinner consistently and to glean from all her knowledge on how to love people well.  Now I will call and text and facetime and make sure to ask good questions.  She is someone I am so so so proud to call mom and even more so one of my best friends.

Love you momma!  
Miss you so much and can't wait for my hug in October!

Monday, July 7, 2014

An Ever Evolving Family Dynamic - My Time in Baltimore

This post took me much longer to get to than I originally intended, but better late than never has always been my motto :)  

The pictures below are from my recent trip to Baltimore, and while there are many more, these are some of my favorites.  The long weekend was full to the brim.  A Bridal shower, a wedding, meeting my godson Eli (pictures and post to come very soon) and quality family time with memories that I will always hold dear to my heart.  It is so amazing to have such a wonderful family to call my own.

Our family dynamic has changed over the years, my brothers (not pictured) and sisters and I have all evolved.  We are getting married, living in new places, and blazing our own trails, and as anyone from a big family knows coming together can be the best thing and the hardest thing because it feels like you know each other so well and not at all.

We are fighting the urge to fall back into our old ways and learn who we are now and how to co-exist in a healthy way.  While that is not always easy, this trip it seemed to be something that clicked more than usual.  Stephen and Nikki welcomed me over to their home and showed me the farmer's market they like to go to.  Christian and Cristina told me all about their lives as parents and what this new phase has meant for them.  Joy told me about school and introduced my family to her dear friend who will be living with my parents for the summer.  I felt like I got a snapshot of everyone's lives.  It was a growing season for us and such an amazing opportunity to get a little deeper.

There are always tears with our goodbyes, but this time felt different.  It was deeper.  I miss my niece, I miss my siblings and I miss my parents in a completely new and adult way.  I want to share meals with them and linger over bottles of wine.  I want to spend more than a weekend around them.  I don't want to catch up, I want to know what is going on in their lives.  However, I love where I live and I love my job and I love my friends.  In this season, we are supposed to be here.  Right now we are where the Lord has us, in a new church that is really feeding us and in a place of humility where we are thankful for everything we are provided with.

One day at a time. It is good to be so loved.