Tuesday, November 29, 2011

1 Month Anniversary

Today is our 1 month wedding anniversary. Before you start to gag, I promise that we won't be tracking our marriage in months from this point on. We are having a little mini celebration, however, that involves eating our cake topper. Yum! It was taking up entirely too much space in our freezer and we knew if we waited the customary year it wouldn't taste good. Solution: celebrate a smaller milestone. So here we are, resting and digesting a little after dinner before cake, and I thought I'd give the blog a little love. It seems like it's been nothing but go-go-go for us these past couple of weeks and I haven't been updating as much as I'd like. This is partly because I've been dedicating a lot of time to reading and researching up on what will be my big project for next year. I'll tell you all about it really soon, I promise. I've also been vigilant about keeping up with the 23 Days of Christmas, so between working out, eating dinner, getting ready for the next day, and watching the occasional zombie show- has anyone kept up with "The Walking Dead?" I'm only a little ashamed to say that I'm a fan- anyways, most days I feel like I come home from work, blink, then go to bed and do it all again. Here's to hoping they find a way to put more hours in a day! I'm off to enjoy my cake and relive this moment:

This is my "how the heck do you cut it?!" face.  We didn't anticipate it being so tricky!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Recipe Thursday: Fall Eats and Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Are you all ready to stuff yourselves silly? I know I am. Today's recipe post features what I consider to be fall and winter foods- while our grocers have made it possible to buy most fruits and veggies year-round, there's something really nice about eating seasonally. Not to mention, it's a lot more environmentally friendly to do so.

We were given several butternut squashes (thanks, Julie and Ernie!), and I wanted to find a new way to prepare them. In my first culinary encounter with butternut squash I made soup, which turned out to be really yummy-check it out here. It's been in the 70's all week, though, so I wasn't in a particularly soup-y mood. My friend, co-worker, and fellow vegetarian, Devon enlightened me on the way to roast butternut squash. You really do learn something new every day! I made this simple meal when Carl was on his hunting trip last weekend:

Broccoli, Texas toast, and roasted and mashed butternut squash, topped with a little butter and brown sugar. 
A google search for butternut squash recipes led me to this one, and so I prepared myself for my first lasagna-making experience. Was it a success? Yes! Here are a few pictures:

The ingredients for the sauce. This was also my first time making tomato sauce from scratch! I used our new glass prep bowls so that I could pretend I was on a cooking show. 

The onions and spinach being sauteed. As a pretty religious onion-hater I was proud of myself for tolerating this much onion in the recipe.

Here it is! Apparently I neglected to take too many prep pictures... but the layers were butternut squash, noodles, sauce, a ricotta/italian cheese blend, and the spinach and onions. 

Making use of our new dinnerware. I even attempted to make a fancypants Caprese salad.
Keeping with the fall theme, I "baked" pumpkin bread for dessert. Not really- we received this mix as a a wedding gift, so not too much effort was required. Even so, it was really tasty.

Pumpkin bread with pumpkin spread. We're crazy!

Also, cranberries were buy one, get one free this week- are you starting to notice a trend in my grocery shopping? I went a little overboard 1) because cranberries are such a deliciously festive fruit and 2) it's nearly impossible to find them fresh or frozen any other time of year. I froze the majority and have been using the rest in my smoothies. Pear-vanilla-cranberry, apple cranberry, pear-cherry-cranberry, blueberry-pineapple-cranberry, and the list goes on. Yum!

All the goodies, ready to be blended: 
Berries, Apple, Celery, Sprouts, Kale, and Banana

A not-so-green smoothie. Looks like swamp sludge but tastes much better.

Now I'm off to a big Bussells Thanksgiving celebration, followed by some serious Christmas tree decorating. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and is able to enjoy the presence of friends and family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Lauren!

Happy Happy Birthday to my sister Lauren! On this day 19 years ago I was impatiently waiting for my parents to come home from the hospital and introduce me to my new playmate. I was beyond excited when I found out I was going to have a baby sister, and probably made my mom's pregnancy seem ten times longer than it already was by asking how big the baby was on a daily basis, and other important questions. Naturally, I was disappointed when Lauren didn't want to play games with me fresh out of the womb, and seemed only to cry when I tried to "entertain" her. Her birth brought a never-ending parade of women with pre-made meals to our doorstep, all of which were lasagna- one of my very least favorite foods growing up. And so I quickly lost interest in the baby who would not play with me and began to resent her for causing night after night of torture at the dinner table. How cruel 5-year old girls can be! I'm truly sorry for all the years of torture, name-calling, etc that followed.

Fast forward to the present, and Lauren has turned out to be an incredibly smart, gifted, and motivated young woman (who, on occasion, actually does like to play games). She succeeds in most everything that she pursues and, let's face it- got through her teenage years much more gracefully than my brother and I did. I know the future holds very big things for her. Happy Birthday, little sister!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The 23 Days of Christmas

Happy, happy weekend! Is anyone doing anything exciting? Carl left yesterday after work for some sort of hunting man fest... after that I lost interest, so who knows what he's really doing, but I have been left to my own devices for the weekend. So far that has entailed a yummy dinner, some reading, and going to bed at 9 on a Friday night. On the agenda for today: a trip to the grocery store, laundry, probably lots more reading, and a workout.

Which brings me to today's topic: the 23 days of Christmas! It's a new exercise tally I've devised as a follow- up to my "Pre-Wedding Workout Tally." Here she is, all completed before the wedding:

I was so proud of myself for following through with a goal. Then we went on our honeymoon and probably ate double our weights in food. Not to mention, the mirrors on the ship are incredibly cruel, making us look shorter and stumpier than we really are. And so, after feeling on top of the world before the wedding for getting in shape, I left the cruise with the lowest of self esteems, and the resolve to jump back on the wagon. Can the wagon be used in reference to things besides alcohol and smoking? Not sure. I apologize if I've mis-used it here. Anyways, I know myself well enough to know that just saying that I'll work out 4-5 times a week isn't going to actually happen. I have to be held accountable, like a small child, using charts, graphs, and calendars. So I came up with a shorter version of the wedding tally to get me through 2011. I've got all kinds of secret plans for 2012 that I'm dying to share with you all, but I have to keep reminding myself to stay focused on the present, and not just throw the rest of the year out the window. Why 23 days of Christmas, you might ask? It makes no sense! Actually, it's the number of workout videos that I own that aren't scratched or otherwise damaged. I just have to complete each video once before Christmas and that's it! I just know I can do it; in fact, I already have 4 days under my belt.

Now it's off to run my errands so that I can be a homebody with these two precious angels.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Recipe Thursday: Gardein

Another week has gone by and I have absolutely no new recipes to post. Such a failure! Tonight Carl and I went on a much-needed dinner date to Nirlep, which I wrote about here. Okay, okay, to say it was a much needed date is an exaggeration- we did just get back from our honeymoon. But boy, I've missed Nirlep and was starting to go through serious withdrawals. Anyways, I do have a few recipe ideas cooking (get it!?), but they require a little more time in the kitchen than I'm willing to dedicate on a weeknight. This Sunday I'll be putting my culinary skills to the test and you'll get to hear all about it next Thursday. As for today, I thought I'd do a product review for Gardein. These were recently buy one get one free at Publix so Carl and I decided to give them a try. Here's what we ended up getting:

We were really impressed with both of these. I've more or less gotten past the stage in my vegetarianism where I'm trying to find meat replacements in order to keep it up. That said, it's hard to get out of the mentality that dinner needs to be a well-rounded meal, with distinct protein, grain, and vegetable components in order to be complete. That's where these meatless entrees come into play. Recently they're something I've been trying not to buy as much of: a) they tend to be on the pricier side, hence our enthusiasm for BOGO deals, and b) they're usually all jacked up with sodium and a mile-long list of artificial ingredients. Gardein, however, boasted a surprisingly short ingredients list, all of which were recognizable. And they were pretty darn tasty to boot. Go check and see if your favorite grocery store has them! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Not a Post About the Wedding

I know, I know-  y'all are probably itching to read my great big wedding post and are wondering why, two full weeks after the big day, I haven't yet put anything up about it (or at least I would be if any of my friends had just gotten married... I might be a little more wedding-obsessed than the average person, though). Anyways, I have my reasons:
1) I wanted to wait to get our professional photos back so that I could better illustrate the whole experience. After all, a picture is worth 1000 words and therefore saves me a lot of writing. 
2) I haven't actually written it yet. Doing so will only bring me closer to the realization that the wedding has really and truly already come and gone.
3) New memories keep popping back into my head! It's like when you have a dream that comes back to you slowly throughout the day, and finally you're able to piece together what it was about. I figure if I wait long enough, I'll have a lot more to say... as if that was going to be an issue. 

Hence, another post that's not about the wedding. Instead I thought I'd talk about the fact that our house is finally clean, probably for the first time in months. Carl and I clocked some major time kicking clutter's butt this past weekend. Anyone who has seen our condo knows that we're more than a little short on space. I think when we decided to buy it we were so blinded by our excitement at the prospect of having our own place that we neglected to actually look at it. Never again will we make this mistake! People, count closets and drawers and cupboards before you move in- or worse, commit to a mortgage. It's been such a challenge trying to find homes for all of our new goodies, but we were determined to make it work. I now present to you the two new pieces of furniture that we acquired over the weekend:

<---- A book shelf, doubling as a china cabinet. We already have so many other pieces of free-standing kitchen furniture to make up for the lack of cupboard and drawer space that we were a little reluctant to invest in another one. When we move into a house one day, I think we'll have more use for a book shelf. As for now we're hoping the earthquake that Charleston is supposedly overdue for doesn't come, because this thing is jam packed with 90% of the breakable things that we own. And yes, we now have enough dishes to feed 20 people a three course meal. Come on over!

Our condo is also really limited on bathroom storage space or a linen closet of any kind, so we got this new little cubby system for towel overflow. We're still registered for quite a few more towels so this was an anticipatory purchase. I suspect it will be completely full within the next few weeks. 

After all this, Carl and I have really mastered the art of assembling moderately priced furniture from big box stores. We whipped these up in an impressively short amount of time! And speaking of whipping things up, we rounded out the weekend with a nice batch of waffles:

Looking particularly domestic. Apron, courtesy of World Market.



Friday, November 11, 2011

Excuses, Excuses and Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Somehow this week has gone by and I have gotten little to nothing accomplished. Nobody tells you that after the months and months of planning a wedding you'll come back and be completely unmotivated to do anything- or maybe it's just me. The week before the wedding I gained superhuman strength, waking up disgustingly early and going nonstop until late at night. The only other time in my life that I've been able to survive on such little sleep was when I first started seeing Carl, back in the days of scandal and secrecy. So here's to you, Carl, for being the only person able to hinder my dedication to a full 10 hours of sleep each night (and sometimes a nap during the day). Now that's true love!

I've given myself a free pass this week; after all, I was getting adjusted to being back to work and being back on land. My equilibrium was so off when we first got back, I felt drunk and loopy for a few days after getting off the ship. Now I'm back to normal, and thanks to today's holiday I finally feel caught up on sleep. I'm ready to tackle the huge mess in our house, get back into an exercise routine, and be an all-around productive person.  Last night after work we drove to the Bussells' house in Irmo to collect our dogs and visit a little before we head back to Charleston. Carl and Ernie are out kayaking (brrr!), which left me the opportunity to post a belated Recipe Thursday recipe.

Creamy Cauliflower soup comes from this cookbook:

We registered for this after participating in a CSA in 2010. It seemed we were always looking for new ways to prepare our many weekly vegetables. We planted our own patio garden last spring and opted not to do the CSA, but the heat got the best of a lot of the plants since they were in pots, so we didn't harvest as much as we'd hoped. It's likely that we'll participate again next year, since it's such a great support to our local farmers and we're getting organic produce at a fraction of the cost of grocery store produce. Anyways, I highly recommend the cookbook. Many of its recipes, including this one, are very simple and feature only a few easy-to-find ingredients. In fact, the only ingredients for this soup are cauliflower, water, onion, and salt and pepper. Here it is, in the bread bowls we got from Publix, garnished with cheddar cheese and extra pepper (and featuring some of our new kitchen items!):

Next time I make this I might try using vegetable broth instead of water, and adding a potato to make it a little more hearty and flavorful. The bread bowls and cheese complemented it nicely, though, and we really like it as is.

Well, I'm off to go play with the dogs a little more and enjoy this cool fall day. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Now That the Honeymoon is Over...

Hello, long lost blog! Carl and I got back from our honeymoon this afternoon and now, after barely scratching the surface of all the general post-wedding life organization that awaits us, I thought I'd stop in to give a quick recap. I've been sorting through tons and tons of pictures and plan on dedicating a mega-post to the cruise in its entirety very soon, but in the meantime here are a few of my favorite pictures:

Enjoying some poolside pina coladas

Getting ready to snorkel in Haiti

The gorgeous beach

Getting fancy on formal night

We found the Apples to Apples competition- and Carl won!

Zipline in Haiti 

Dessert, Dessert, Dessert

Carl and Karl

Quite possibly the first ever picture of me holding a fish!

Carl, enjoying our deep sea fishing day in Grand Cayman
We had such an awesome, awesome time. Leaving the ship this morning was a struggle; we weren't sure if we were ready to cope with the drive home and the knowledge that real life awaits us tomorrow. Who will bring us breakfast in bed, or take our picture every 5 minutes, or sing us the "Happy Honeymoon" song, or tell us that it's sippin' time? How will we survive without the 16 meals a day that we've become accustomed to? It's going to be a hard adjustment.

With all this honeymoon talk you might think that I've already forgotten about the wedding, but don't be fooled! All I can say right now is that it was beyond perfect- a day that we'll cherish forever. After a good night's sleep I'll be able to give a much more coherent rundown than I possibly could right now, so stay tuned for that.

Here's to life after the honeymoon!