Archive | December, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

31 Dec

new year brings new beginnings

although I am not doing any new years resolutions this year

and instead doing 101 in 1001 days

it is still a time to reflect on the year gone by and the year ahead.

i hope i laugh harder. dream bigger. travel farther. hug longer. listen better. love sweeter. cherish daily.

goodbye lovely 2009 you have been good to me. hello dear 2010 please be kind.

Best of {2009}

30 Dec

So everyone is doing best of {decades} and I truly would not be able to sumarize a whole decade of my life.  I mean that would mean going back to my senior year of high school and that just is frightening that is has only been 10 years since high school or the fact that it has been as long as 10 years since high school {i can’t decide}.  So I have decided to do a  best of {2009} before ringing in the new year… {these are just my opinions and have nothing to do with a poll or survey done by any means}

Best {Artist} of 2009….she maybe a little weird but her music always makes me feel alive and I never get tired of her music.  She is a talent and I can’t wait to hear what she has in store for 2010. 

 

Best {Song} of 2009…Boom Boom Pow! Seriously every time I hear this song it makes me run a little faster, shake my booty a little longer and puts me in the best spirit all. the. time.

Best {Day} of 2009…May, 30th 2009.  It actually might be the best day in the decade for me.  I got married and started my new life with my husband.  everything was so dreamy that day it was beautiful. 

Best {Book} of 2009…The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.  I read a lot of books, but they are normally in the same genre–but this one caught my eye and I am so thankful that I picked it up.  This book moved me to tears and I was thinking of this book long after the book was done.  Nothing mindblowing just a simple story about a family held together by yarn. 

 

Best {Movie} of 2009…Taken. Seriously it is heart thumping the entire time.  Normally they are too drawn out and could have ended hours ago. nope this one left me wanting more and wanting to know more about the characters.  It was a great story line and Liam Neeson was brilliant in the film.

Best {iphone application}of 2009…Facebook. I am hooked to the my iphone and one of the reasons is Facebook.  It looks like the screen I see on my computer and it is easy to move around and keep in touch on the go.  I heart this application and the iphone is worth every penny just for this one application. 

Best {board game} played in 2009… Game of Things.  It truly is humor in a box.  Everything my co-workers and I get together we play this and every time we are laughing so hard we may pee our pants.  So easy to learn and so fun to play!

Best {TV Show} of 2009… Modern Family.  Cam is hilarious all on his own and Ed O’Niel {actor from married with children} plays an awesome part and it makes me laugh every time.  If you haven’t seen it here is a clip from this past year episodes.  We have TIVO but we always made sure we were home for this show because it was that good.

 

Best {Celebrity Break-Up} of 2009…. Yes I know everyone thinks Jon& Kate but to me they weren’t really celebrities.  For me my pick was Holly Madison & Hugh Hefner.  Seriously the playboy rockstar not only got dumped by Holly this year {which he actually looked torn up over} he also was dumped by Kendra and Bridget. Triple Whammy.  Ouch.  But Holly wanted babies and a ring and even though she was spoiled rotten and had more money than anyone being with Hugh Hefner she left it all to find love.  To me that is the best break up for the right reason…not money but love {with Chris Angel though??!!}. 

Best {Celebrity Hook Up} in 2009…George Clooney and who ever is his flavor of the year this time around is.  Seriously with his money, good looks, villas in Italy and of course that bad-ass attitude he gives off riding his bike who wouldn’t want him?  Everytime I see a picture of him he is on his bike with a new girl.  So anyone who is hooking up with George Clooney gets a way to go sista! in my book. 

Best {Wedding Blog} of 2009….To be fair I was pretty obsessed with my wedding for half of 2009 so most of my time was consumed with wedding blogs so I will have two categories for blogs {wedding and personal}.   To me style me pretty blog helped me from the very beginning.  Once you have your inspiration and color set sometimes you could be on overload with the images that blogs show but I never felt bombarded with looking at Style me Pretty every day.  It had a certain ease to the website and I always was thrilled to see what they would post each and every day.  Giving up this blog after my wedding was over was not easy and a bit heartbreaking because I loved it so much.  But life must go on but if you are planning a wedding this is a must see. 

Best {Personal Blog } of 2009… This blog is eclectic and has personal information, style, decor and just generally a good read.  I always stop at this blog and always find something new and exciting to look at–that has nothing to do with weddings.  It was of my “must clicks” on my google reader and with 100s to chose from on my google reader this is impressive.  The blog Yellow Brick Blog  is written out in California {which of course makes it even better!} but whereever you live I am sure you can get something out of this blog {if you are girly}

Best {New Recipe} I have made in 2009… Muffuletta Sandwich from all recipes.  This recipe is so easy even a caveman {of my lovely husband} can whip this up in no time flat.  It is hearty enough for dinner but can be for lunch as well.  I haven’t blogged about this recipe but seriously it is a delicious and we have had it twice already and it was a recent find!

Best {Decision} we made in 2009… To move back to the northeast and put our dreams of California on hold with the economy in shambles.  It was a really tough decision with tears and laughter along the way but looking back on the year it was the best decision for our family at the time.  Home is where the heart is. 

Best {News} we heard in 2009… engagements and baby announcements galore but the best news of them all was that our sweet little niece would be living closer to us and we would be able to share more memories with her now that we are close. 

 

Best {Decision} the world made in 2009… Obama for President.  Change and Hope is what the entire world needed and that is what President Obama is here to do.  Everyone has their own decisions about if this was the best or worst decision for me and my personal beliefs it was the best of the best.

Best {Fashion Come-back} of 2009… leggings!! who knew something that I pulled out my aunt’s closet back when I was 9 would be popular again almost 20 years later.  They are comfortable and make any dress go from summer to winter in a flash.  It is a brilliant come back and I hope it is here to stay. 

Best {Purchase} I made in 2009…now we could argue that our wedding was the best “purchase” but honestly I like to see it has a special day rather than a “purchase.”  Nail polish set for my niece that was a simple $3.99.  Seriously when she sees me and wants to put nail polish on at 9 in the morning it just makes my heart melt.  Second best is when she wears the adorable tutu we bought her.  Seeing her so happy and playing dress up with me is fabulous and I love every girly minute I share with her. 

Best {Gift} that was given to me in 2009…gosh this one is a hard one and there are a few top ones but I would have to say my kitchen aid mixer.  Since then I have been cooking and baking quite a bit more and really find enjoyment when I use it.  It is a sturdy piece of equipment that I will cherish for years to come and when I have a house it will go right on my kitchen counter with pink pride.

Best {Reality TV Show} of 2009…The Amazing Race. This show is heart pounding yet exhilirating, but to top if off both my lovely husband and I pick who will be the winners after we watch the first episode.  The first year we did this I WON–it was awesome!! This year both of our winning teams were out of it so we were both rooting for the same team at the end but they landed in 3rd place.  It is a great show for both my husband and I to watch and really enjoy and it is a great way to end the weekend {show airs on Sunday nights}.

It has been a great year of very high highs and some infrequent low lows, but I am ready for a new year and a brand new decade.  Always with a new year comes excitement and anticipation {and of course fireworks!}.  The new year also makes me a bit anxious because it is a time to look ahead at future plans and dreams, but also a time to look at the past and reflect on what has already occurred.  For me, new years doesn’t only represent the future it also represents another year older and hopefully another year wiser. Yup folks New Year Day is my birthday!!!  So as everyone brings in the new year I will be celebrating with adding one more candle on the celebration cake. 

Goodbye 2009…Hello 2010!!!

xoxoxoxo

French Apple Tart

30 Dec

So I never understood the “i love to bake but hate to cook” statement {or vice versa}.  Aren’t they both basically the same?? and the answer to that is NO.  If I had to make a statement about what I love to do in the kitchen I would say I like to bake but I am a better cook.  I feel more confident when I am cooking, I know the lingo a bit better and I normally know what the end result is suppose to look like.  With baking it is so forgein to me that I get all shaky and insecure in my baking skills and I have zero practice baking.  I cook almost every day–I bake perhaps once a year. 

But I do like to bake. It seems a bit more homemade to me than cooking and one day when I have children they will want dessert {unlike my crazy husband who does not enough sweets–give him salsa and chips anyday!} Now when I say I like to bake it normally involves a box from Betty Crocker.  For thanksgiving though I ventured into the world outside the box of baking and made malted chocolate cupcakes from scratch.  So I figured for my in-law’s anniversary today {HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!} I would make something from scratch as well.  The cupcakes were pretty easy this should be easy right??

Now what to make??? A pie?? A cake?? Apple Crisp?? Nope.

I decide to make a tart . {I called it a tartlet all night so that is what I will be calling it in my blog although I believe tartlets are small tarts where as I made a big tart} Now the first thing I had to do was google what a tart pan was and to see if I had one. I did. yay for wedding registries! My husband picked up some ingredients I was missing from the store while I took on the daunting task of making a tart for the first time {I probably should have started with something a wee bit easier for my first “baking” experience outside cupcakes}

So for all you non-bakers out there making a tart can be done.  I did it! Normally I would recommend making this on the weekend when you have a lot of free time but I needed it for tonight so last night it was.  If I had to rate baking this tart on a scale.  I would say the malted chocolate cupcakes were a 2 and this tart was an 8-maybe 8 1/2.  By no means did I perfect the tart but it looks oustanding {pictures to come} and most importantly it looks edible. 

So how do you make a tart??? First you have to make a tart shell.  Now you can buy it pre-made in the store or you can make it on your own.  Making the tart shell was probably the easiest {yet longest} part so I say if you have the extra time you go homemade all the way.  There are probably thousands of tart shell recipes but I went with one from the William-Sonoma Bride & Groom Cookbook.  No matter what you put into the tart shell you can use this recipe over and over again. 

TART SHELL RECIPE 

 {you can make the tart shell a day or two prior to making the tart to spread out the work}

::INGREDIENTS::

1 cup flour

1Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp kosher salt {I used regular salt}

1/4 tsp grated lemon zest {optional}

1/2 cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 tsp vailla extract {essence}

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar salt, and lemon zest, if using.  Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips, pressing and blending until the butter looks granular and the mixture begins to hold together.  Combine 1 Tbsp water and the 1/2 tsp of vanilla and work it into the flour and butter mixture with a fork unti the ingredients are well combined and the pastry will hold together when pressed.  Gather it into a ball and warp it in plastic.

Let the dough rest for 30 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the moisture. Then using your fingertips to press the pastry into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch tart pan, making sure it is distributed evenly . Cover and place the tart shell in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm.

Preheat the oven while you are putting the dough into the tart pan on 375 degrees.  Remove the tart shell from the freezer and bake until light golden brown, 20-25 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack before filling. 

::Time::

20 minutes preperation / resting 60 minutes / cooking 20 minutes

Total: 1 hour and 40 minutes to make tart shell.

::TIPS!!::

Okay so I would like to say it went really easy and smoothly but nope the first try was a big old FAIL.  Here is what the first one looked like when I took it out of the oven.

So it just crumbled before my very own eyes.  2 hours of work down the drain–and I hadn’t even made the filling yet.  Deflated I went back to the drawing board because I was not going to resort in buying a dessert after all this hard work.  So some things I learned from the first time.  The amounts that they put to make a tart shell are not enough.  I made a double batch of the dough so that it wouldn’t be so thin and delicate.  Perhaps professional can easily distribute the dough to make it a perfect thickness, but I obviously could not.  So I made a double batch of the dough and I felt more confident the second time that it wouldn’t crumble.  I also left the first one in for too long.  It was kinda browned but not everywhere so I left it in for 2 more minutes and WHAM burnt crumbly city.  So for the second one as soon as it started to lightly brown I took it out of the oven to cool.  Plus I realized if the dough wasn’t completely done it was going in the oven again before the end so that is when it would cook all the way through. 

Here is what my second try at the tart shell looked like–success!!! There was still a bit of crumbling on one edge but nothing to fret over.  I would suggest to be attentive to the sides of the pan more to make sure there is enough dough to make all the edges sturdy.  If I were to make another I would over compensate some of the dough to the edges to make sure they wouldn’t crumble.  live and learn.

Close Up

I also scoured the internet to find out since I had a fixed bottom tart pan {some of the bottoms remove for ease of transporting it to a baking sheet}. I didn’t know if I filled it and baked it again in the pan or if I removed it after I cooled.  I couldn’t figure out how I would get it out of the pan after I filled it so I removed it from the tart pan after it cooled.  Everything came out great and so I am not sure if it is the right answer but it was the way I did it and the tart came out great. 

So now I have a tart shell after ohhhh only 4 hours!!! Now what???  Now I made the fililng for the French Apple Tart and I got the recipe off of Joy of Baking.  The instructions were very detailed and there were pictures to show me exactly what this was suppose to look like in the end. {for a non-baker this was uber helpful!}.  Now I am not exactly sure what makes it a “french” apple tart and perhaps it was the tart shell but I did not make the tart shell they suggested so perhaps this was just an apple tart {which I am okay with}.

FRENCH APPLE TART RECIPE

::INGREDIENTS::

 

HAPPY BAKING!!!!

xoxoxoxo

Our {first} Christmas

29 Dec

So when looking at getting an ornament for our tree to commemorate our year I was looking to get one along the lines of getting married but all of them said…1st christmas.  Now for some couples this may be their first christmas together but for us it was our 6th christmas together and it didn’t seem accurate to call it our first christmas.  So I made my own christmas ornament this year to save a bit of  money in this economy and so I could create a wedding ornament without the first christmas all around it.   But honestly it really did feel like a first christmas since this was the first year we were married during the holidays.  We kept looking at each other throughout the weekend realizing that this really was our first christmas as a family and that although all the other holidays were great this one was special.  We hugged a little tighter, kissed under the mistletoe a little longer and overall just felt a happiness and peace in the holidays that wasn’t there in the past.  And if I could make the ornament again I would put {first} christmas on it because it was our first christmas as a family.

Our {first} christmas on christmas eve eve

Our {first} Christmas came two days early where we just could not hold out any longer to give each other our gifts.  We were strong and held out our stocking for christmas day but we were so excited that we opened up a bottle of wine and enjoyed our {first} married couple christmas on christmas eve eve.  Now all of you know what I got THE FLIP  which now that I use it all.the.time. I am completely addicted and it was the best christmas present this year–

oh flip how I love you so…let me count the ways

BUT I have been holding out on what I got my awesome husband and now that I found the camera cord last night I can show you!

::Drum Roll Please::

 

What is this you may ask?? Nope it is a chemistry set…it is a wine making kit!!! If we can’t be out in Sonoma, CA I was going to bring Somona, CA to my husband.  It was a toss up between the beer making kit or the wine making kit but I think I made the right choice.  Can you tell with that silly grin on his face???!!!  Seriously I can’t thank my best friend’s husband enough because without him I would have still been looking at the website where I got the kit.  It was all in a forgein language {wine language that is} so anyone who is thinking of getting this for someone as a gift talk to someone who has done it before because honestly it saved me so much time, energy and money with buying the “right” kit for my husband. I also got him a subscription to Wine Making Magazine which he got the first one in the mail prior to christmas so all he did was read about wine all holiday weekend long. HAHA!  I was in cahoots with his parents and they got him his first ingredient kit–pinot noir!!  So he is ready to start making wine!! We are now trying to decide what we want to call our wine and are hoping we could make it in the year 2009 {our wedding year} and save a bottle for our 25th and 50th anniversary. 

And really the theme of the entire holiday season was WINE.  My parents got us not 1…not 2…not even 10 bottles of wine.  They got us 12 bottles of wine that are all different kinds and from all different regions.  We are in wine bliss at the moment and our personal wine cellar is fully stocked!! 

Our {first} Christmas on Christmas morning

I feel so blessed this holiday season and I am so thankful to have so many friends and family who love us dearly.  I am also thankful for this little blog of mine who has helped me reach out and stay in touch with the world.  We have a tradition in our household that we tape all of our christmas cards to a doorway in the room.  Now more were added on since this picture but I just wanted to say thank you to each and every person who gave me a little gift each and every time I went to the post office to check for mail.  Instead of getting piles of bills I recieved piles of holiday cards.  THANK YOU!

Happy {post} Holidays

White Chicken Chili

29 Dec

Okay I am back from the holiday overlaod and I was right all I needed was a day to recover and get my life back in order.  My day included putting away all of our awesome gifts, putting away laundry my husband so nicely did over the weekend, and putting away our weekend bags then it was time to obsessively watching Season 4 of 24 and eat white chicken chili.  And now I am completely revved up for the new year of blogging ahead of us.

I have never made a chicken chili before and really the only chili I have ever known is my grandma’s chili   so this was all new to me.  Since we had all the holiday goodies we wanted to each on the healthier side and although I did think of making a salad it just seemed far too cold yesterday {and today even colder!}.  So I was looking for a soup recipe that didn’t have any noodles {carb overload from the holidays} and one that used chicken {a bit healthier than beef in my opinion}.  So I found the recipe on a blog that I read often called Easy Meals for Busy Moms  and although I am not a mom I can get busy and these recipes are great!  I decided to go with the White Chicken Chili last night {what really won me over was we could have chili in 30-45 minutes!}

WHITE CHICKEN CHILI RECIPE:

::Ingredients:: (Serving size 6-8 people)

3 lbs Chicken Breast (seasoned and grilled)
1 1/2 cups chopped onions (pre-sauteed)
1 large chopped green pepper (pre-sauteed)
2 cloves garlic
6 cans navy beans
1 can chopped green chiles
4 tsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. chili powder
5 or 6 cans chicken broth
1 16 oz bag frozen white corn
2 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese

::DIRECTIONS::

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. In a large stock pot, combine all ingredients, and cook at least 30-45 minutes.

I seasoned the chicken and cooked it with the onion and green peppers together in the stock pot rather than sauteeing the onions and green pepper seperately.   I then put the rest of the ingredients into the stock pot.  I also used 1/2 of a green pepper and 1/2 can of green chilies instead of the whole.  We couldn’t find pre-cooked navy beans so we used another white bean {for the life of me can’t remember the name!} but they worked just as well.  I also did not put the cheese on the entire chili and I put some in my individual bowl. 

::REVIEW::

The broth was extremely flavorful and with the chicken and beans it really filled me up with one bowl.  It wasn’t a thick broth like in normal chili but the broth was a great consistency with the chicken and beans–made the meal seem lighter.  It was extremely easy to make because you just put all the ingredients in and the only time consuming process was cutting up the chicken in tiny bite size pieces.  Normally I have two bowls of any type of soups–but this one was great flavor and filled you up and both my husband and I say that it is a keeper.  A lighter warmer meal for the winter time after a good stretch of  holiday goodies!!  

Now an observation that I have made looking back on the blog posts that I have created I really only blogged about one recipe a month and let me tell you I do cook more than once a month!! HAHA! And for the amount I actually do cook I need to step up my blogging on recipes a bit more.  Now I don’t want to turn this into a purely cooking blog, but we have made some great {and quick!} recipes so I hope I will bring you more recipes in the year 2010.  no promises but it is in my hope.  I also got a new cookbook for christmas this year so I hope to share some recipes out of that book and I have the smaller version of my grandma’s recipe book and I just stole/borrowed my sister’s HUGE recipe book from grandma so I can copy and have my own HUGE recipe book.  {and although I have only skimmed both of these books I cannot WAIT to cook up some feasts I have seen!}

Happy {post} Holidays!!!

xoxoxoxoxo

Holiday Overload.

28 Dec

my heart is filled. my stomach is filled. our bags are filled with generious gifts.  my mind is filled with holiday memories.  

I am going to need a day to recover from all the holiday happiness fullness that I feel and will be back tomorrow for my usual blogging. 

Until then…I hope the holidays have left a smile on your face as well.

Happy Holidays {let them never end}!

xoxoxoxo

On the 1st day of xmas my true love gave to me…

25 Dec

falling in love during the holiday season {over and over and over again}

I still remember the first christmas that I spent with my future husband for the holidays. It was the season that I fell in love with my husband.  It was early into our relationship {2 whole months} when he invited me to his big celebration at Christmas Eve. I was nervous and had never done a celebration outside of my family with a significant other–it was early in our relationship but I knew this was special.  I was a scared college student who knew that Christmas was important to his family and that I was the first girl he had ever taken to his Christmas Eve celebration.   I was able to meet all of his family at once including his darling grandma who is no longer with us {in spirit she is always present}.  I arrived and low and behold my boyfriend was late and I was scared to death.  What do I do? What do I say? Should I go back to the car and wait??After a couple minutes I found myself a “job” taking people’s coats and getting to know who people were and finally my boyfriend arrived on scene.  I was all glowy and excited to share in his traditions and even though we had not been going out for a long time I had a good feeling about us and his family felt like an instant family to me.   It was truly magical and when I left the house to share in my own family traditions he kissed me goodbye out in the cold near the car and right then and there I knew it was the beginning of our lives… 

After the holidays our relationship grew deeper and we were able to really express how we felt about each other and even with long distance lingering in the background at the end of the year we knew we would get through the good times and the bad times…together.  Every Christmas season I think about our first holiday together and all of the amazing holiday seasons that came after our first holiday together.  I am so blessed and thankful to have such wonderful people and now a wonderful husband to celebrate the Christmas season.  When we visit our families during this holiday season this year and we sit down for a feast we will officially be a family.  Being a family is the best gift I could have recieved this year {although the flip is aweeeesomeeee…hehe}.

I hope that all of you have the most merriest of holidays and that you truly enjoy the people around you and soak in all the joy that your heart can hold.  I am going to do just that the entire holiday weekend and I will back for a best of 2009 week long extravaganza. Until then enjoy your friends, families, pets, and any little munchkins running around this weekend xoxoxo