Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Four months since my last entry? Obviously I am not a "professional" blogger.

Most of the time this blog has to take a backseat to other more important things...such as focusing my energy on growing a baby and trying to stay afloat with my workload.

Yep! I'm pregnant. I'm 27 weeks already, which I can't believe. I finally have a pretty legit baby bump, and everything seems to be going very smoothly. Now that I'm not experiencing nausea or awful headaches, I don't feel like I have anything to complain about. In fact, I feel very blessed. We hoped and prayed for this child to join our family, so the thought of having her in our lives couldn't be any sweeter. I haven't been so happy in quite some time.

As for the second reason for my sparse posting, well, my job is my job. When you work in the schools, you cram a year's worth of work into nine months. It's a crazy business. Challenging and exhausting, that's for sure. Just yesterday I achieved something huge though: I caught up on ALL of my Medicaid billing. I don't think I'd been up to date on that since August 2010. It's a big deal to me to not have that looming over my head anymore. Here I am on Thanksgiving break, and I am actually relaxing and doing fun things!!! It's a good feeling.

Monday, July 25, 2011


A little over a week ago I celebrated another birthday. I wasn't very excited in the months preceding this one, but I've eased into my new age. I just remind myself that I'm not as old as Henry and never will be. ;)

The first event of my special day was birthday lunch at the flagship Whole Foods. I had some great "comfort food," Whole Foods style: chicken casserole, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and wheatberries. Oh yeah, and I drank this delicious, monster blood orange Italian soda. (Not all at once though; I rationed it throughout my birthday weekend.)

It was so hot up there on that patio, but I don't think you can tell by the picture.
That night Henry and I had dinner at Chez Zee for the first time. To be honest, I chose this restaurant based on a Yelp recommendation of their fried pickles, and we were pretty disappointed. The pickles were sliced so thinly that they were just like eating pickle-flavored potato chips. Salty and sad. The entrees were pretty good, but it was hard to recover from the dissatisfaction of the appetizer.

Afterwards we went to Ulta, Old Navy, and another Whole Foods store for some light shopping. It was a low-key day to be sure, but that's what I wanted. Last year I had a dinner party with lots of friends, and it was a lot of fun. This year I wasn't feeling up to the fanfare.

Late that night my parents arrived at our apartment ready for good food and family time. The next day we had TacoDeli tacos for breakfast, and then Mom, Henry, and I went shopping at DSW and Target. Later that afternoon we met my niece and nephews and their significant others for an early dinner at Trudy's (Mmm, stuffed avocado), and then we saw Midnight in Paris at the Violet Crown. Cute movie that the whole family (especially my dad!) liked at a hip, artsy downtown theater.

On Sunday we cut into my cake. It was exactly what I wanted: lemon chiffon with strawberry/lemon filling.

Courtesy of Kerbey Lane Bakery
 Henry and I added the citrusy slices to the top ourselves. Got the idea here (via Design Mom).

It was a good birthday. Twenty-six isn't so bad.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Happy Fourths

I. We spent the Fourth of July in Houston with my parents, my oldest sister, Henry's brother, our sister-in-law, and our sweet and very calm baby nephew.

Oh, almost forgot. In our way into town, we also stopped for my two year old second cousin's birthday party. It was fun seeing my aunt and cousins.
J with the helicopter toy we bought for her.
 On Monday we stuffed ourselves silly with all kinds of grilled goodness (Meatless Monday was an afterthought that day...). That night we watched a free concert they have every year in my hometown.
Johnny Dee and the Rocket 88s

My dad loves this band. They do covers of music from the 1950s and 60s. Once their show was over, it was time for fireworks. Henry took about 50 pictures of fireworks, and for the first time ever, they actually look pretty good. It makes it hard to choose a favorite, so here's a few.

II. Yesterday was our fourth wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's been four years already, but those first two years that we spent finishing school were kind of crazy. It's been a great four years though. Henry truly is my best friend, and every day of my life is blessed with him in it. Marriage is everything I hoped it could be and more.

So last night after Henry got home from work, we set up our tripod and tried to get some nice anniversary photos. Technically speaking, they aren't the greatest, but I still like them.

 We went to dinner last night at Jasper's. It was a good restaurant for an anniversary because it wasn't too crowded, the food was really good, and it had that fancy, special occasion feel without being stuffy.
We ordered Thai chicken wantons with sweet mango chile sauce.
And baked potato salad. Really good, but rich.
 And we split the Texas Peach Barbecued Pork Tenderloin entree. Also very good.

For dessert we attempted this huge trio: rocky road ice cream sandwich, vanilla dessert toast, and dark chocolate molten cake with dulce de leche. Oh my goodness. We almost finished all of it. Almost.

Good dinner. Now it's time for me to pack up once again for another trip to Houston and New Orleans this weekend. Ah, summer. I still like you and the adventure you bring.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sweet Summer

At this time last week, I was packing up my last few boxes of therapy materials and turning in the keys to my office, which means I have officially completed my first week of summer vacation. It's been a good week. I survived 9 1/2 hours outside in the Texas heat (98-103 degrees were the estimates) as a volunteer at Cub Scouts Day Camp. (Surprisingly, I enjoyed myself--mostly--and didn't get irritated the whole day, but when it was over I felt exhausted. That was on Monday. On Tuesday I was a complete bum.) We finally pulled off the Pinewood Derby on Wednesday night. I went to the gym twice this week and ran errands by myself. I've also read more than usual and started a few personal projects.

Summer feels like a time of rejuvenation for me. Since I have two and a half months off from work, it's a time for me to refocus on my personal pursuits. Throughout the school year, I stay busy, busy. Now is my time to take a new look at my goals, make new plans, and as Dave Ramsey would say, attack them with gazelle-like intensity, allowing for afternoon naps of course.

These are my summer plans:
  • Medicaid billing. This is one that I want to quickly mark off my list as it is not fun in the slightest. I have two weeks left to do from December '10 and the whole month of January '11 to do. Ugh.
  • Participate in The June Challenge to Draw Closer to God. I'm finally making more progress on my Old Testament reading!
  • Write in my gratitude journal every day this summer (or at least 85% of days if we're being honest)
  • Exercise three times per week for the month of June, at least twice a week for the month of July
  • Read some classic books, plus I need to finish the two other books I've started (Two-Invention and The Help)
  • Organize my closet--this is one I've started this week
  • Participate in the Ultimate Austin Scavenger Hunt. Henry and I marked three things off our list last night. Hopefully tonight we'll hit one more.
  • Learn more about nutrition and healthy cooking. After contemplating on several separate occasions, I bought Michael Pollan's Food Rules last night. I've also started reading through the blog Word of Wisdom Living. This summer I hope to drastically increase my veggie & fruit intake/cut back on meat. I think these are both great resources.
  • Research/expand our food storage. Hopefully this will go right along with the point above. Sadly, I have about 15 cans of expired food sitting on my kitchen counter right now that I need to throw out...I want to create a system to avoid that in the future. A friend recently recommended a few blogs to check out for getting started, but I haven't looked through them yet.
  • Plan fun things to do for my New Orleans and Cabo trips! Please leave recommendations if you have any...
  • Learn more about photography--read book, practice
  • Learn about Illustrator--I bought a small text book from Nicole's Classes, so now I need to actually read it and play around with it. A new header/background could be in this blog's future.
  • Turn my college blog into a book--has anyone out there done this before? What service do you recommend?
I have a few smaller things I want to work on too, but I'll keep those to myself lest you think I'm crazy. I don't think I'm crazy, but I am an overachiever. But anyway, those are the main ones...and I'm excited about getting things done!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

a reminder

I've been MIA lately. I plan to change that in two weeks when the school year is OVER, but in the meantime, this is something good to ponder. We are eternal.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Crofter's Organic Superfruit Crepes

I didn't have to work on Good Friday, and I wanted to make something special for breakfast to celebrate. So off I went to my kitchen to make crepes for the very first time.

There were two reasons I chose to make crepes:
1. A while ago I received a coupon to try Crofter's Superfruit Spread, and I wanted to do something more with it than put it on toast (though that's a perfectly fine option).
2. I've been wanting to eat at an expensive little crepe trailer in South Austin for several months. Making them at home took care of that craving.

I started with my jar of the North America Superfruit Spread and went to work making the crepes. I made 2 servings, which ended up yielding four crepes. What you see below are basically the ingredients you'll need: an egg, all-purpose flour, milk, water, and (not pictured) butter. I added a touch of vanilla because I already had it out, and who doesn't love vanilla? I mixed those together in my bowl and then stuck it back in the fridge. I read in another recipe that if you let the batter settle in the fridge for an hour, it will make the crepes less bumpy and lumpy.

But I didn't let it sit for that long. I kept it in there for as long as it took me to make some whipped cream (or as we say in my family, "whip cream." Maybe it's a Southern thing.)
If you've never made your own, you really should. It's easy and tastes so good. I probably should've cut this recipe in half, but I didn't. I piled lots of whip cream inside and on top of my crepes and had plenty left over for an impromptu fruit salad.

Once the whip cream was ready, I went back to making the crepes. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I switched up things with the butter. I was supposed to mix melted butter into the batter, but I think I used it all to oil my frying pan. No wonder it seemed like SO MUCH butter. Ha! The crepes tasted just fine though...

I was worried that it'd be tricky to flip the crepes, but that was actually pretty easy because they curled up at the edges. The tricky part was spreading the batter quickly (quickly!) and evenly in the pan before it could really start cooking.
Assembling the crepes was fast. I spread a line of Superfruit down the center, layered some whip cream on top and folded it over burrito style.
Of course I loaded more whip cream on top too. Yumm.

They were rich and filling, so I only ate half of my three. I saved the leftovers for Henry, and when he got home, he said, "These are good. Where'd you get the berries?"

I will definitely make these again. The mix of blueberries, cranberries, red grapes, and morello cherries is on the tart side, so the whipped cream balanced it out with a little (or if you're like me, a lot of) sweet. I liked using the Crofter's Superfruit Spread because I didn't have to prep anything for the filling, yet it packed an antioxidant-filled, flavorful punch. I wish I could have some right now.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Eggs

This past Wednesday for Activity Days, the girls dyed Easter eggs, and I got to dye one too.

My little chick looks scared, doesn't he? It makes me smile. The sugar cookies were a gift from my coworker who isn't even Christian. I thought that was sweet of her!

Our Activity Days leader shared this about Easter eggs, which I thought was interesting:

The most popular Easter tradition today is the egg. The story of the egg dates from ancient times in India and Egypt, where it was regarded as a symbol of cosmic beginnings. Some religions believed the universe was produced from an egg, thinking that an egg, regarded as dead, had the capability of releasing new life after having been shattered. Consequently, the egg early became associated with the theme of resurrection.
The custom of early Christians in Europe and the Near East was to exchange Easter eggs. However, other religions at that same time also may have influenced this Christian practice. In the fourteenth century a European monarch dyed some eggs, covered others with gold leaf, and distributed them to friends and servants. In Europe and the Baltics, colored eggs became very ornate and the paintings on cooked and glass eggs became works of art. Sometimes the egg shell was pierced and the egg blown out; the shell was then plastered and painted. The more ornate the art on an egg, the more highly the recipient was esteemed. In Christian Europe, red eggs became very popular, the color being derived from the blood of the Atonement. Celebrants would carry eggs in their pockets and give them to friends and relatives whom they visited. Source
I like the symbolism of death bringing new life, like the Savior's resurrection.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Our ward had a bake sale a week and a half ago to collect tubes of toothpaste for a service project. What, that doesn't make perfect sense to you?

It worked like this: people volunteered to bring baked goods or offered a service (babysitting, tutoring, tech help, etc.) for the silent auction, and then everyone came in with their toothpaste to purchase or bid on the items. Youth conference is coming up, and the youth in our ward were asked to collect one thousand tubes of toothpaste, which will be added to hygiene kits for people in Haiti and Japan.

Through a friend's blog, I recently came across a cooking blog called Annie's Eats. Let's not dwell on the fact that this woman is a doctor, a new mom, and somehow she finds the time to create and perfect her own recipes. She creates cupcakes for all of her coworkers' birthdays. Oh, and she maintains a really pretty blog, duh. My mind cannot fathom...

Anyway, I chose her Strawberry Lemonade Cupcake recipe for the bake sale. Instead of using the icing she paired with these cupcakes, I chose the one listed here. It tasted like a buttery strawberry milkshake. Henry loved it. I thought it was good, but a little too buttery for me. We still have a baggy of the icing sitting in our fridge, anyone want it? I'm not sure what to do with it.

I didn't get to attend the actual bake sale, but Henry said they sold well. One of our friends bought two. Another family came up and tried one, and then later returned to buy the remaining nine!

As for the toothpaste, I'd say the bake sale/silent auction served its purpose well; we collected 1,467 tubes!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What I Bought

I'm having a pretty low-key weekend over here. For the first time in a month, I'm NOT leaving Austin city limits this weekend. Henry went on a camp out with some of the guys/youth from church, and I'm primarily hanging out at home (aside from trips to Sprouts, the gym, and Hobby Lobby). It feels good to be at home.

After sharing my photos from Antique Week, someone asked what I actually bought. Then I realized none of the things I bought were pictured, so I thought I'd come back and share.

The first thing I knew I wanted to buy was this blue jar. My other blue mason jar was feeling lonely. Both jars were purchased from my niece

My second purchase was this wooden tray, which I'm using as a centerpiece on my dining room table. The candles and flowers on top of the tray came from Hobby Lobby today. I also bought another stick of silk flowers and some little plastic green apples so I can switch things out later.

And though I didn't buy any tiny stools, I did come home with two large red ones.

I'm happy with my purchases (although I secretly, or perhaps not so secretly, wish that mini schnauzer puppy were here keeping me company right now). 

P.S. Antique Week is a biannual event! I think the next show will be in late September or October.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

No. 4: Visit a Texas City I've Never Been to Before

Yesterday I met my mom in Warrenton, Texas for the huge Show Daily Antique Week that's held there every year. My niece Karly had a tent there for her business and invited us to go. It was so neat to search through what seemed like mile after mile of antiques, crafts, and junk.

I almost came home with this puppy, but Henry said no. I cried a little when we put her back...someday.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

No. 28: Skillet Chicken Vesuvio

I made this for dinner on Friday. Simple to make, but very flavorful. It got a "pretty good" rating from Henry, which means we'll probably have it again.

And here's a picture from today (taken by Henry):