Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas Card photo sesh: my husband is a hater

When we went home in October, my sweet sis in law Audrey took some Christmas card photos for us. Caleb hates having his picture taken and really hates Christmas card pics. But guess what? I don't care. We are doing it. Always. So suck it up, hubs. I always tell him that he can frown for the pics, which is how I get him out there. But I secretly hope he will make a sweet face. He doesn't. Even he can't sabotage these photos though, because Audrey is a genius with a camera.

Friends and family: Caleb will always be grumpy in the Christmas card pic. Some things never change.

I always like feet photos. Because I am a shoe lover.

This face is called: "I don't want to smile but I kind of can't help it."

"Why did I marry a crazy woman?"

"I guess I still like her ok."

"I am so done with this."

"Merry Christmas playas."

So that's it. One of these pictures may be in your mailbox very soon. With a witty remark and a Christmas greeting. Because that's what I'm about.

Check out Audrey's photo goodness at Twiceover Productions. She rocks.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gettin' down on Friday: crafting nonsense, pink party, and more randomness

I just got done with two days of pulmonary symposium goodness, where I collected lots of free pens and drank like ten Diet Dr. Peppers to attempt to pay attention. I'm gearing up to work all weekend and all week next week, including Thanksgiving. And then participate in the Black Friday madness, because I'm not a hater. I love me some Black Friday.


1. I was making some yummy corn chowder last night and throwing in a bunch of seasoned salt. Which I love. (Seasoned salt, that is.) I looked on the back to see what the ingredients are in seasoned salt and one of the top ones is MSG. What?!? For reals? McDonald's doesn't use this anymore. Chinese restaurants don't even use this anymore! Does all seasoned salt have MSG? Or is it just my cheap Valutime stuff? I am dismayed. And disappointed. And saddened. Not that I'm all hippie about my food, but I do have a few standards for goodness sake!

2. Caleb and I worked out at the gym together last night for the first time since...before we got married? It was magical. Then we came home and ate the MSG soup.

3. I viciously killed a spider in my sleep last night. As evidenced by spider legs all over my side of the bed this morning. Take that, spider.

4. I am the worst crafter ever. We had a Housewives craft night last month and I was like all taking pictures of things. This is how far I got into my craft:

Do you like how I can't even focus the camera? That is literally how far the craft went. It involved cutting twine and hot gluing it to fake gourds. Everyone else's looked adorable. Mine looked awful. It's in a plastic bag somewhere, with all the other fake gourds that are not covered in twine.

5. We had a pink party at work last month in honor of the breast cancer survivors that we work with.
We had lots of pink treats and it was yummy and fun.

Left to right: Megan, me, Lauren, and Lynn (breast cancer survivor extraordinaire!)

The Baconator (Kim Bacon, also a beautiful breast cancer survivor!)

And now friends, I go to the gym with my husband. Because that is what we do now. Maybe we won't eat MSG soup tonight...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cheesy Italian Chicken Bake

I went to the gym this morning for a personal trainer sesh. Last week, he made me start tracking everything I eat. Ev-er-y-thing.  This is what he said as he looked at the list. "No. No, no, no, no." He got to Tuesday and gave me the list back. "I'm not looking at this anymore." Oh wait, you can't lose weight by eating bacon, cookies, pasta, Diet Dr. Pepper, and wine? Who knew? Maybe it's because I eat things like this. I'm pretty sure this is not a figure friendly food. But it is so, so good.

I got this recipe from one of my college roomies, Mary Grace. We used to have Gilmore Girls get togethers and she made this and I loved it. I've actually made it so many times that I don't even know where the original recipe is or what it is really called. So I picked a name that I thought it might be.

Cheesy Italian Chicken Pasta Bake
Serves 8

1 box rotini or penne pasta (I've been using the Smart Pasta by Ronzoni: purple box=more fiber), cooked and drained
1 lb chicken, cooked and diced or shredded
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 can diced Italian-style tomatoes, drained
1 tub chive and onion cream cheese
1/2 bag-1 whole bag shredded mozzarella cheese (based on your love of cheese and your love of your hips)
a little Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning blend or just some oregano, to taste
Salt and peppa, to taste

1. Heat oven to 350. I like to bake the chicken for about 30 minutes, just put a little olive oil and salt and pepper on them and top with aluminum foil.

2. Go clean something while the chicken is cooking. Or play on Pinterest, which is what I do. After the chicken comes out, chop it or shred it up.

3. Get your multi task on. Boil your water for your pasta. As this is happening, chop and cook up your onion and garlic.

4. As your pasta is cooking, throw everything in a bowl. Your chicken, onion/garlic, spinach (I think I only used half a box because Caleb doesn't love spinach overload), drained tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and cream cheese. As soon as the pasta is done, drain it and throw it in there. Mix everything up. You need the pasta to be nice and hot when you mix everything up so that it will melt your cream cheese and everything will be evenly distributed.

I've looked everywhere for reduced fat chive and onion cream cheese but I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist.

Yum, yum, yum. Taste, re season. Taste again.

5. Throw everything in a 9x13 pan and top with a sprinkle of parm cheese. Or split into two smaller pans and put one in the freezer and bake the other one. This is what I did. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cheese gets nice a bubble and hot.

It's so good and cheesy and comforting. And there's even veggies in there. A half recipe makes enough for me and Caleb for dinner as well as generous portions for lunch the next day. So eat it up! But don't write it on your food list if you don't want to be judged.

And for your viewing pleasure, a pic that Caleb took of himself. I found this when uploading all the camera pics. He is taken, ladies.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Award-Winning Caramel Apple Cake (Possibly my spiritual gift)

I think my spiritual gift might be baking and cooking. Just throwing that out there. It's certainly not keeping a clean house, being skinny, or distinguishing tongues (Dear people of Tennessee, sometimes I still do not understand a word you are saying). But baking, I can win awards for.

I took this cake to work this week to enter in a contest. And it won me some movie tickets. Possibly by default since there weren't many entries. But this cake is award-winning none the less! And delicious and full of everything that is fall.

I inherited a huge bag of apples from my sweet friend Emily, since they were ridding their fridge of everything before their big move to Canada. (Ca-razy!) I was trying to figure out what to do with them and I remembered this cake. I got this apple cake recipe from one of my teachers in nursing school. She brought the cake to a meeting and it was divine. When I got married, I registered for a bundt pan just so I could make this specific cake. (But you don't have to have a bundt to make it!) And two years later, this is the first time I've made it. I made one last week for my hub and he ate like half of it in one night. So for the contest I made it again and decided to top it with a caramel glaze. Yummy. The cake by itself is super delicious, but the caramel glaze just kicks it up a notch. And makes it so pretty!

The best part about this cake is that the ingredient list is short and the cake comes together quick. I actually had everything already in my pantry.

Fresh Apple Cake
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
3 cups diced apples (I didn't peel the apples for the first cake and it was delish, but I did peel them for the second cake and it was a little better, the apples kind of just melt into the cake)
2 eggs (well beaten)
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla

Stir together sugar, oil, eggs, and apples. Separately stir together all other ingredients. Mix everything together. Bake in a greased 9x13 pan or bundt pan at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. (I think the bundt takes the longer time, it took me about 55 minutes with the bundt.)

Caramel Glaze (from The Runaway Spoon, found on Food Gawker)

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

In a saucepan, melt together butter, brown sugar, salt, and cream. After everything is melted, bring to a rolling boil. Let the mixture boil for one minute. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Then vigorously beat in powdered sugar. (You should definitely sift first, I didn't and had to very vigorously beat and still ended up with some lumps)

Make sure the cake is completely cool or the glaze will slide right off.  Also make sure that as soon as the glaze is done, you pour it over the cake. (It firms up pretty quickly.) Put some foil under the cake or you will make a big mess!

Then you can eat the drops. Like I obviously did.

Daylight was gone when I took the above pics, so I snapped one at work.

There you have it. A delicious apple cake to make for your man, your mom, or yourself this weekend. A few more quickies for your Friday:

1. Hoda and Kathie Lee were in Harry Potter World at Universal Studios this morning. Two of my favorite things combined!

2. I am in love with this nail polish. Glamour Purse by Essie. I got tons of compliments on it this week at work, plus this pic is from this morning. Which means that I made it through a week of wiping butts, opening pill packages, and doing intense hand hygiene without a chip. Don't judge my cuticles.

3. The winner of the Mary Kay giveaway is Kerry! Probably because her and my mom are the only ones that read this blog. Which is ok with me! (Let me know what color you want!)

4. Thank goodness being skinny and keeping your house clean are not real spiritual gifts.

Happy 11/11/11!

Monday, November 7, 2011

There's no place like home. And no shoes like ruby slippers.

We went home last weekend for a few days, short and sweet. We wanted to meet the new June bug. And she is so sweet! All these pics are from my iphone. Since I'm slightly obsessed with it and its picture taking capabilities.

And we are kind of obsessed with her big brother, who is growing like a weed! Seriously, this kid is adorable and hilarious. He changes so much every time we see him!

 We got lots of family time and included a trip to the Bass Pro Shop. My mom and bro just love the fish.

I also visited my Grandma Voth, who is 90. Wow.

 I had an afternoon with the besties and we hit up Pryde's in Westport. Ok, I did not even know this existed and I lived like a mile away from there for two years! Amazing kitchen store. Check out this chandelier made out of whisks. Love it.

 There is a pie shop inside the store so the whole place smells amazing.

 Cara modeling a sexy gardening hat.

Does anyone else love the owl trend that is happening right now?

Also, I'm in love with the instagram app on the iphone. I can't help it. All those wonderful filters...


Caleb and I went to the Kansas sampler store to stock up on Kansas gear. I found this super sexy Dorothy wig to complete my Halloween costume. They said no one had ever bought one before. Ha.

Back to work on Halloween. I channeled my Kansas girl spirit. Red shoes: check. Mini Toto dog: check. Awesome Dorothy wig: triple check.
Are those red shoes dress code appropriate? I think not!

And there is our quick trip in a nutshell! I'm spending today cleaning, doing laundry, and doing errands. And going to the gym to get my butt kicked again. I could barely walk this weekend!

Last chance for the giveaway! I'll announce the winner later this week. You know you want some free Mary Kay! I also have been cooking up a storm, so I'll post some recipes as well.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Celebrating Two Years in Charleston, SC (Part 2)

Back to our Charleston trip...which I had to split up into 2 parts since I'm kind of excessive like that...

On Monday (the last day of our little trip), we took a tour of Fort Sumter, which is where the Civil War started. I think this one is the best pic of us on the trip, which is funny since I always want nice pics of us dressed up and it never really works out.

The fort is an island so we took a lovely little ferry ride out. There was a museum and just tons of cool history to be soaked up. Nerdy, I know.

We also toured the Military Museum back in Charleston.

We spent our last evening at High Cotton, which was our favorite restaurant. The food was amazing, the atmosphere was great (live band and gorgeous dining room), and our waiter was hilarious.

Caleb had steak with bourbon bacon sauce and I had the most delicious shrimp and grits. Ever.

Seriously, go to Charleston just for the food. It is insanely good.

Pics of our adorable room at Wild Dunes in Isle of Palms. Very comfy and cute, it had a patio, kitchenette, large bathroom, and washer and dryer!

We got up bright and early to watch the sun rise over the ocean and were not disappointed. Beautiful.

Obviously, I have to share a pic of my sweet husband cooking me breakfast. Future self: remember, he does know how to cook eggs and bacon!

We stopped at a scenic overlook on the way back. Who doesn't love some good scenery? This reminds me how insanely beautiful it is to live in Tennessee. Also, I left my iphone here and a man that was blowing leaves picked it up and ran it over to the car before we drove off. I'm not sure how long this iphone will last...

Caleb has a mustache from my hair blowing in the wind. I think it suits him.

I love that we saw the ocean and the mountains in the same day. We are so blessed! This trip was a blast, go to Charleston for
1. the food
2. the good hair days
3. the shopping
4. the history
5. the ocean
6. the good times with your lover

PS. Don't forget to enter my giveaway! The odds are pretty sa-weet for you right now! Check it out: