Monthly Archives: June 2011

It’s Sunday, right?

Hey, friends! How was your Sunday?

Mine was obviously fantastic. I mean, it started with pancakes…

I went with the same recipe as my incredible, fluffy and strawberry-stuffed pancakes except I swapped the strawberries for blueberries and definitely maybe a few chocolate chips. Topped with nonfat vanilla yogurt and pure maple syrup it was a fantastic way to start off my Sunday!

Dan agreed, too.

Then, it was time to take off for some errands. Now that Dan and I are both officially done with our internships, there is quite a bit of catching up and to-doing before the wedding! On today’s list was (another) stop by Hobby Lobby, making a few changes to the wedding registries, dealing with car maintenance and picking up our marriage certificate.

By the time we got done with it all, my appetite was definitely back in action.

Similar to a typical weekend afternoon, I went with some random leftover: steamed edamame, orange slices and the previous night’s pizza.

And, oh yes, that is a double-decker pizza.

After lunch, Dan and I ran back out for a few more errands, which included a stop by Earl May for some hanging plants and another stop by the hardware store for hooks to hang ’em.

Back home…

Pretty, huh?

I like the flowers, too.

I think that the red flowers especially bring out the chili pepper lights that Dan already hung.

Dan and I had a few more things to figure out with the honeymoon, so we spent some time planning that all out before breaking for dinner. He had leftover burgers for lunch, so he went with leftover pizza for dinner. That meant I got to come up with my own dinner. Guess what I went with?

Smarty. How’d you guess it was a smoothie?

To be more specific, this was actually a green monster.

My Basic Green Monster

Ingredients:

  • 1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk (alternatively, any milk)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1 T peanut butter

Directions:

  • In a blender, combine milk, ice cubes and banana. Blend until combined.
  • Add in spinach and more milk, if necessary. Blend until everything is combined and creamy.
  • Add in peanut butter and combine.
  • Serve with optional toppings, such as cereal, cottage cheese, yogurt or fresh fruit.

After dinner, Dan and I were determined to go on a run. We made it a good couple of miles, but the humidity just wasn’t relenting. I guess that’s one of the (few) downsides of summer.

I love Sunday’s up until this point when I realize that — sigh — I have work or school tomorr… Oh, wait. It’s just Wednesday. How did I miss that one? Gosh, I guess that’s the problem with having pancakes in the middle of the week.

Questions (green themed!): Have you ever had a green monster smoothie? Do you have a green thumb in the garden?

P.S. Happy 21st birthday to Katelyn!

Advertisements

Those normal days

Lately, it seems as if most days are marked by those big events. Whether it’s filing for the marriage license (<< we did that!) or romping around Kansas City, every day feels abnormally exciting.

That is why it was ironically — almost exciting that today was normal.

I had a pretty normal, delicious version of oats with bananas, strawberries and sunflower seed butter.

However, because I had time to devote on actually preparing it, I cooked the oats on the stove instead of in the microwave. So much more delicious that way!

After breakfast, I had time to do some normal errands, such as running to the store, stopping by Hobby Lobby and returning a Redbox DVD. It was just so normal that it was mind-blowing. And appetite spurring.

Time for lunch at a normal hour. Plus, it didn’t have to be a pre-packed salad that appealed to me at 7 a.m., but not noon. Instead, I got to go with the one thing that almost always appeals to me.

Consumed: Smoothie with vanilla almond milk, banana, baby spinach, ice cubes, frozen blueberries and peanut butter. Topped with Vanilla Almond Special K cereal.

After lunch, I spent a little time practicing being a good future-wife by cleaning up the house. When my attention ran out after 10 minutes, I headed over to the gym for a mid-day workout. Once there, I discovered I probably should have given my stomach some more time to settle.

While it wasn’t the best workout ever, I was flexible enough to change plans part way through and go for speed rather than distance on the treadmill. In the end, I still worked up a good sweat.

The rest of the afternoon was a normal, lazy day kind of thing. I even feel asleep on the couch for way too long an unknown amount of time.

Sometime during the afternoon, I recommitted myself to being a good future-wife and made up some pizza dough for Dan’s requested pizza night.

Some rising later, the dough was ready for molding and baking!

For Dan’s pie, I used turkey sausage, sautéed mushrooms, onions, red sauce and Italian-blend cheese. For my, more creative pie, I used some previously roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms, onions, hummus, Italian-blend and feta cheeses.

Right when Dan arrived back from his last, long day at an internship, the pizza was d-o-n-e and baked to perfection on our new pizza pan!

Is that excitement or what?

Now, we are going to spend some time enjoying to cool weather before — my guess is — heading inside to watch “How I Met Your Mother.” I’m obsessed.

Questions: What does a “normal day” look like to you? How different are your summer days from school days?


Something like a bachelorette party

Sunday night started off like this…

And digressed to this…

I swear it’s not as bad as it looks. Allow me to go back and explain…

As a last-minute kind of thing, a few of my high school girlfriends decided to come down to Kansas City for a day of shopping and a night of fun. The justification behind it was that it was my bachelorette party, but I think it was really just a good excuse to have much-needed girl time.

Before they swung through Lawrence to pick me up, I got in the mood…

With a delicious smoothie of a banana, fresh strawberries, chocolate protein powder, unsweetened vanilla almond milk and ice cubes + cottage cheese and Kashi Go Lean cereal.

My girlies got into Lawrence around lunchtime, so we decided to do lunch on familiar turf before continuing over to Kansas City. Shockingly, I didn’t suggest we go to Esquina. Instead, we ate at Milton’s, a brunch place downtown.

Consumed: Flatbread with fresh herbs and goat cheese.

Fueled up, we were ready to take on Kansas City!

We stayed directly on Country Club Plaza, which is a downtown neighborhood filled with great boutiques, delicious restaurants and a fun atmosphere.

We couldn’t get into the hotel quite yet, so we wasted some time hitting up a few of the stores. It was rough.

Shortly before dinner, we checked into our sweet suite at the Sheraton Suites.

I think we all considered going down to the pool…

Instead, we opted for rest before getting ready for dinner.

We walked a couple of blocks over to Brio, a Tuscan-style grill. While we were out shopping earlier in the day, I had the chance to check out the menu, so I had pretty high expectations.

Problem was, I think we got the most awkward waiter ever — seriously.

When we told the waiter we were in for my bachelorette party, he got a semi-disgusted look on his face and said, “You came here?”

It would  have been funny, except the food wasn’t really that good. I got a Mediterranean pasta dish with a side salad, but the lighting was poor and the food was bland, so I won’t bore you with the pictures.

At least we had fun!

The real culinary highlight was when we walked another block over to McCormick and Schmick’s. (<< Where we went for Dan’s 21st!)

Among the five of us, we d-e-voured one chocolate bag, which was filled with vanilla mousse and fresh berries.

We also split some apple pie with cinnamon ice cream…

But I’m not going to lie: I only had eyes for the chocolate bag.

After we were drunk on sugar  — and sugar only — we walked back to the hotel. It was then that Katie hit a bump and took a little spill. It wasn’t anything bad, but it was fun to give her a hard time. She’s a good sport!

The rest of the night, we hung out in the hotel room, playing Mad Gab, watching “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” and laughing the night away. At some point way past my usual bedtime, we set phone alarms, shut off the lights and went to sleep. Apparently that’s when things really started to get crazy, because our hotel got directly hit by lightning and the both the power and the backup generators went out.

When we woke up, the power was still out, the hallways were extra dark and the stairs were even darker — which was a problem, considering we were on the ninth floor! We managed to get everything packed up pretty quickly, because we sure-as-heck didn’t want to hike up the flights of stairs to get our luggage later.

However, the power outage really worked to our advantage, because the hotel made the normally pricey breakfast totally free! We took advantage…

Consumed: Oatmeal with granola, fresh berries, part of a crumbled muffin and a little cream cheese.

Unfortunately, the fun eventually had to come to an end… At least until the wedding!

Questions: What would you do for your ideal bachelorette party? Have you ever been to one?

I love how well my friends know me — there were no blow-up penises, strippers or anything too crazy. Thank goodness!


Celebrate the little moments

Looking back on a lifetime, it’s probably common to remember the big dates…

The day you were married.

The day you got your dream job.

The days your children were born.

The days you grandparents, parents or friends die.

The days of wondrous circumstance…

But, what about the days that fill those spaces? What about the days where you experience deep, belly-shaking laughs? Or the days that you feel so blessed by the company of friends and family? Or the days where you just eat really, really good food?

Years down the line, those days will probably remain nameless. However, they will be the days that truly affect your life and make you who you are. At least that is the case for me…

I’ll never remember the date when my mom and sister came to visit and we ate at Esquina for the millionth time…

But I will be affected by our ever-strengthening bond.

I’ll never remember the date that Dan and I went out for a standard dinner of (veggie) burgers and delicious sweet potato fries…

But I will be affected by my continuously growing love for him.

I will never remember the date that I spent time with my mom and dad at a neighbor’s auction, learning more about my parents and their own histories…

But I will be affected by how much respect and appreciation I have for them.

I will never remember the date of a random engineering party I went to…

But I will be affected by where it led me to.

I guess that’s why life is about the journey, not the destination. While those momentous occasions may bookmark our lives, ultimately, they are just small sections in much larger stories.

Questions: What have been the most important “small moments” in your life?


Lemon poppy-seed muffins

Trips to the grocery store were big deals for my sister and me when we were growing up. While my mom filled the cart up, Marian and I raced around the store trying to grab as many coupons as possible — only to “collect them.”

It always turned into a big contest and I was just a little bit competitive. There was no time to spare…

Except for when my mom was in the bakery section. Then, I would pause from racing around the store to spend a few minutes trying to talk her into buying a package of assorted muffins.

Orange blossom, blueberry and — my favorite — lemon poppy-seed.

On those lucky days where I did manage to talk my mom into buying the muffins, it didn’t seem to matter whether my sister scored more coupons than I.

That same idea holds true to this day, when, at the end of a long day, baking a batch of these muffins make everything seem better.

Lemon Poppy-Seed Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 C unsweetened almond milk (alternatively, any milk)
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 1 egg (alternatively, 1 T milled flax-seed + 3 T water)
  • 2 T poppy-seeds

Directions:

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, lemon zest, lemon juice and egg.
  • Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and stir everything together until all the flour is combined. Be careful not to over mix. Fold in the poppy-seeds.
  • Using a greased or lined muffin pan, fill each slot 2/3 way up. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-24 minutes, until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool thoroughly on a cooling rack.

These muffins are slightly less sweet than those of my childhood — but they are also virtually guilt free and entirely delicious!

So, even though some things do change in time, other things stay the same — such as me being competitive. Seriously, these are the best lemon poppy-seed muffins ever.

Questions: What’s your favorite kind of muffin? Do you collect coupons?


Frame fame

Without a doubt, the hardest part of planning a wedding was the early stage. We had to figure out the guest list, find a venue, book a photographer, etc.

Within that first month, it seemed like Dan and I were making on big decision a day.

But, in the time since then, everything has been so. much. more. spaced. out.

One week we decide on the menu… The next we change it.

One week we figure out what favors we want… The next we buy them.

One week we come up with an idea for the guest book…. The next we make it.

It’s really been kind of leisurely like that for the past few months. But, now it’s crunch time. Like someone eating kettle chips at a monastery kind of crunch.

That’s why I was glad when my mom and sister agreed to come to town for two days to help me with some of the small details.

Example #1. Photo frames for fun at the reception.

If I had $1,000 to spare, I would have loved to have a photo booth. But, to be a little more economical, we decided to set up an area where guests can take fun pictures with empty frames, such as this one from a wedding that my friend went to…

So, after Marian and my mom got into town, we headed over to Hobby Lobby — “the H.L.” as I’ve grown to call it during these past few months — to check out some empty frames.

Can you see it?

After finishing up at The H.L., we all headed over to Dan’s hometown so that my mom and sister could see the church for the first time and we could eat at the restaurant where the rehearsal dinner will be. We also met up with Dan’s mom and sister!

We were hoping to get the rehearsal dinner menu figured out, but we didn’t end up making much headway on that. One step at a time, right?

The rest of the evening was more about spending time with my mom and sister than figuring out more details. It’s all about balance!

The next day, we picked up a few supplies from World Market, including some colorful napkins to place underneath the centerpeices at the reception — like this!

Before my mom and sister had to take off, we worked on checking a few more things off the checklist.

One month countdown…

  • Figure out bridal brunch. The morning of the wedding, we are planning a small gathering for out-of-town female guests, such as my aunts, cousins and friends from other states. It’s all going to be pretty casual, but I think it will be a good day to kick-off the day!
  • Plan out the “day-of” schedule. With six bridesmaids to help coordinate, a brunch, the drive to the church and all the other little details to keep straight, it was necessary to plan it all out ahead of time!
  • Visualize the favor bar. Similar to the candy bars that I’ve seen in some wedding pictures, we are going to make a granola bar with a few varieties of granola and tons of toppings. Then, we’ll have little brown paper bags for people to fill with their own customized granola as the favors at the reception!
  • Begin laying out the seating chart. We’re not going to stress about individual seats, but we are going to assign people to certain tables. Some of the odd numbers make it tricky!

Naturally, there are still a few things that left to do, but much of that is up to Dan and me! For some reason, I don’t think that my mom and Marian will be much help in writing the vows…

P.S. It’s actually closer to three weeks until the wedding than a full month!


Decorating small spaces

All right, I may have exaggerated the role that Dan’s played in decorating. He really has been helpful in confirming some of the design plans, but I think we would both agree that I’m the team captain.

This is a role that I’ve actually really enjoyed. Although I am probably not the next big star of HGTV, I do enjoy the process of designing — especially in a small space, where I have to get creative!

Even though I am far from finished with the apartment, I’ve already put a few design tips to the test…

Plan ahead with large purchases.

I am a fan of natural finishes on wooden furniture, but it also bugs me when things don’t exactly match. For that reason, I anticipated it would be a problem if I bought my bedroom set from one place, my desk from another and my bookcase from somewhere else — they would look similar, but slightly “off” in color.

Instead, I bought a bedroom set with a black finish.

As anticipated, when I had to go back and buy a desk from another place, it seemed to match perfectly!

Someday, when I have more money to spend, I would like to have my natural finished wood furniture. But, for now, this is a great, sleek-looking solution!

Keep pretty things on display.

This might sound like a no brainer, but it’s especially helpful in small living spaces. Rather than worrying about getting every little thing put away, I pick and choose.

For example, it’s no big deal to leave my red, patterned purse hanging on the bed. I actually like the bust of color it adds to the room!

However, I am more diligent about storing the remainder of my purses away. There’s a fine line between style and clutter!

Remember that storage can add to the space.

I take pride in my collection of antique jewelry boxes, so I really didn’t want to store them away under a cabinet. Instead, by keeping them out on the dresser, they can be both functional and fashionable…

The same concept applies to the large storage chest I keep next to my bed.

Even though I could have bought a cheap storage container for $10, it wouldn’t be something to keep on display. Instead, I opted to spend a bit more on the chest, which works as decoration and storage.

Utilize space without cluttering it.

One of my favorite parts about the kitchen is all of the storage space that I have. However, that doesn’t mean that I have to store everything away. I love having “show” pieces — such as white platters, cake stands and vases — out on display.

By keeping the items on top of the cabinets, it actually gives the illusion of a bigger space with higher ceilings. Score!

Now that I have the kitchen and bedroom pretty well under control, the next tasks are to tackle the living room and bathroom. Details on the decoration of those spaces to come… As soon as I figure them out!

Questions: What decoration tips do you have for small spaces?