Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Finished Window Treatments!

Last Friday, Chad and his dad finished putting up the drapes in our living room. I love them - the rooms feel so much more polished and tied together now... and I could not be more pleased with the results!

Take a look:




I'll try to take a couple more post-Christmas (since the tree is blocking one whole side of the room).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Traditions

I know every family has their own way of doing the holidays. I figure many of you have families, like mine, where tradition is very important. Then there are other families that change things up, year after year.

My mom's side of the family is master of traditions. And our traditions revolve around one thing: FOOD. And not just for holidays! My siblings and I always laugh as we make the trek up to Maryland for visits with my grandparents about how the exact same types of sodas and beers will be stocked in the fridge. And how when we walk in around lunchtime, my grandma's crystal tray will be out filled with sliced deli turkey and ham, several types of cheese, two types of bread (a roll and a sliced), little crystal bowls of mayo and mustard, and a plate of pickles.

Or how whenever we go shopping with my grandparents, at some point they will want to stop at Starbucks... and will order everyone a coffee frappacino (whether you want one or not.) At first Chad thought this was hilarious - the black coffee drinker that he is. But even now, sometimes when we talk about my grandparents Chad will say he's suddenly gotten a craving for a frapp. ;)

And holidays are certainly no exception. Christmas day at my grandparent's house also followed script. Around lunchtime my grandma would put out shrimp cocktail, a tray filled with artichokes in olive oil, roasted red peppers, green and black olives, and sweet pickles.

Sometime midday my grandpa assembles the egg nog... which my grandma and mom will taste and say it needs more booze.

Then dinner.... ohhhhhhhhhh dinner...

See, for Thanksgiving, most families eat the same things - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, etc. But for Christmas, I feel like there is such variation.

For my Italian family, there is only one acceptable Christmas dinner: homemade cheese ravioli, our family sauce that has been passed down through the generations, bracoile, my great-grandpa's famous roasted chicken, a big fresh salad and fresh bread. I have such wonderful memories of my late great-grandfather in the kitchen running the show.

It is a time consuming meal to make (and usually is started on Christmas Eve), but it is something we look forward to every year. As we've gotten older, it's too hard to bring the whole family (especially now that 3 of the 5 siblings are married) - for space constraints, and for the in-law families we have to see as well. So over the past few years, we've had Christmas at my parents, and my mom has carried on the tradition (with the assistance of us "kids.")

I think in the beginning, Chad didn't really "get" the whole having to eat the same foods, at the same times, every single holiday. But now that he's a good few years into the family, I think he digs it. Or, if nothing else, he understands how important it is to me.

So what are your holiday traditions? I'd love to hear 'em!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bummed over boots

I loooooooooove boots. I would have a hundred pairs if I could.

I tell Chad, when I die, bury me in boots and cashmere.

So last week on Rue La La, Alberto Fermani (an Italian boot maker) had a pair of gorgeous tall leather boots for sale - from $500 to $250.

I knew I had to have them. I also knew Chad had already done my Christmas shopping. But I couldn't stop myself. I called Chad at work and begged him to let me buy the boots. And Chad, who tends to be against impulse purchases (it's amazing we stay married), agreed to let me get them.

Yippee! I ordered them, and anxiously watched my UPS tracking code to see when they'd land on my pretty little doorstep. Yesterday was the day.

I rushed home, quickly opened the package... admired the shiny Alberto Fermani shoebox... and delicately lifted the lid.

And my first response was, "Oh."

No squeal of excitement. No jump for joy.

I mean, they were the same boots. But the color didn't look as luxurious... the hue was much different than how they looked on the website. And they looked clunkier than I remembered.

But I figured, just try them on and see. I'm sure they'll look better on the foot.

Well... they were VERY snug. I know the leather would eventually give a little. But they just didn't do it for me. At all. And if I'm going to spend money on them, they better be getting a lot of use.

So sadly, this week I'll bid them adieu and ship them back to the Rue.

And my next boot purchase will be made in person.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beautiful and delicious

I hope you all had a lovely weekend - we certainly did.

Yesterday was our most productive day. Some of our best friends, Hannah and Jack came over so the boys could....


...


...

install our new window treatments! Check 'em out:


I know I blogged about the stripe fabric in the kitchen area, but we ended up changing (for a few reasons) to this classic blue toile.

And I'm in love.

We have a few things we need to do before we get the drapes up (hope
fully later in the week), so you'll just have to wait on those. But here is the roman shade in the same fabric - for our single window in the living room.


And while the boys were hard at work on the drapes, Hannah and I spent a few good hours making 14... yes I wrote that right.. 14 tins of homemade cinnamon rolls. I started on the dough the night before, and thank goodness I did or we would have been there all night. One thing is for
sure: I don't think a space of my kitchen was not left with some combination of flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter on it. All in all, I consider that a success. (UPDATE: SINCE I'VE ALREADY HAD HANDFUL ASK, OF COURSE THEY WERE PIONEER WOMAN'S CINNAMON ROLLS. AND THEY ARE EVERYTHING YOU THINK THEY WOULD BE... AND MORE.)

The end-result: Lawd-have-mercy DELICIOUS.

The boys wouldn't stop harassing us about when the first batch would be done... which we, of course, had to sample. We were planning on giving them as gifts to family and friends, but Chad is already being judicious on who is "worthy enough" to receive them. Luckily our space-limited freezer ensures that we have to give at least half of them away. ;)

So it was a festive day and it was wonderful having a home that smelled like cinnamon rolls all evening.

I hope you all got to do something a little Christmas-y too!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Finally - some Christmas pics!

You little lovely readers have been such troopers hangin' in there with me over the past few weeks --- despite my lack of posts. We've been dealing with some health issues at home (nothing too serious), but between that and Christmas coming up so fast, I've been distracted!

Your reward? Tons of my Christmas pictures! I know, just what you've been waiting
for. ;)

First things first: The tree!
I looooove our Christmas tree this year - nothing but green, gold and glitter! I think I might love Christmas decorating so much because I can use glitter and have it not feel chintzy --- if
done properly, of course. ;)

Oh, and our other tree... because I ROLL THAT WAY!


And this... this is a little blurry, but this is the whole family room:


And a little bit closer of the mantle:


And this (at a different time) --- we had the fire going. Chad and I have loved s
itting in this room in the evenings with the fire going... so peaceful:



Here's a close-up of the poinsettias. Chad "claimed" he doesn't like
poinsettias, so I said I'd only get a couple. Next time you know, he's like: "Well, we might as well buy six!" I think someone changed his mind and got himself into the Christmas spirit!


And the dining room - the extra two pink poinsettias add so much pop to the room. And I have my Willow Tree Nativity set on the buffet in the back.


So there you have it - a Merry Barnhill Christmas House.

And hopefully Monday, I'll have an extra special exciting post of a new addition to our living room... you might want to look back a few posts and you'll realize what it is. Pictures a' comin'.

And don't forget to check out what some of my fellow Blogger girls have done with their decorations... like Wedded Whitaker and Little Fish. Big Pond.

Merry! Merry! Everyone! And remember:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Get into the spirit

Once more, things have been so busy in our little neck of the world that I feel I've barely had time to come up for air. So while I don't have time for a long post, I DO want you to watch one of the sweetest videos of all time.

One of my favorite blogs, Fly Through Our Window, posted last December two videos of Darby's daughters reciting the Christmas story from Luke. I think it's amazing and wonderful that she is teaching Scripture to her children at such a young age. We often discredit kid's attention span, but their little brains absorb more than you think. Chad and I will definitely be doing the same for our little babies one day!

They are the most absolutely gorgeous and precious little girls - and little Paige with her sweet little voice is just too cute.

If this video doesn't get you into the TRUE holiday spirit, I don't know what will!



And make sure to follow Fly Through Our Window blog!

Monday, November 29, 2010

More to come...

I don't have tons of time to post pictures of all my Christmas decorations... but for now I'll leave you with a sneak peak.

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...

And the up-close shot... green, gold, glitter = glorious.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Working from home

So, my boss is letting me work from home today because I'm tied to the door (I'm expecting an overnight package I need before we leave tomorrow morning for Maryland) and because holiday weeks at universities are ALWAYS dead. Students are gone... professors are gone... so that means the staff is gone. Originally Chad was supposed to be working today (hence me having to stay home for my package), but last night when he got home from work he said he was so jealous I was getting to be home yesterday he decided to take today off!

But I did have some things I needed to get done at home today, so I woke up, fixed breakfast and coffee and set-up my laptop on the kitchen table with some Whiskeytown playing in the background.


And I just starting thinking... MAN, it would be nice to work from home every day.

But Chad left about 45 minutes ago to run errands, and I'm ALREADY wondering when he's going to be home. So here's something I realized: I don't think I'd like working from home... because that would involve me being home ALONE.

And I don't do alone well. I need people around.

I blame it on growing up in a large family. "Alone time" didn't exist.

Every now and then it's a nice change of pace, but I'd miss my office time.

Anyway, this is probably my last post of the week. We head to Annapolis tomorrow morning to my grandparents with all my family. I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you have so much to be thankful for. I know I do.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Savory Soups

Like most of you, I'm sure, I've been on a huge soup kick these past several weeks. Even though it's not that cold outside, there is something about the moment the calendar flips to October - it's time to start with the soups.

I've made stews, chilies, broth-based, cream-based - you name it, I've made it.

A couple of note, lately.

Last night I made Serious Eat's Agreeably Simple Potato and Leek soup.

{via Serious Eats}
Because you know... leeks are in it.

And if leek is in the name, it will at some point find its way onto my kitchen table.

I thought it was a lovely soup. I added about a quarter cup of half & half to the pot - just to give it some extra richness, and put some cracked pepper and coarse ground garlic salt on the top of each bowl... along with a dash of sour cream. It would have been awesome with some chives on top... but I was sans chives last night so I had to make due without. Chad commented it was one of the best soups he's had. Bonus, it took me about 20 minutes to assemble before having to simmer for awhile... perfect amount of time to let me get a little workout in!

And last week, I made a delicious white bean soup recipe courtesy of my mama. It's simple and delicious!

Umberto's Bean Soup
- 2 cans white beans
- 1 can collards (or half a bunch of fresh... preferable)
- 1 large can diced tomatoes
- Bunch of fresh Italian parsley, mined
- 1 medium onion, diced
- a few cloves of garlic, minced
- chicken stock or ham stock (I did the best of both worlds and used chicken stock plus a ham hock)
- s&p to taste

Let simmer for about an hour. Serve with tabasco and grated Locatelli cheese on top. It's a perfect - and healthy - fall soup!

What about you? Do you have a favorite fall soup recipe to share? Comment or post on your blog and send me a link!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Finally - window treatments!

So I have been blogging for several months now about being terrified to pick my own fabric for our living room window treatments. I have about four different fabrics in our living room currently - couch, chair and two different throw pillows - and wanted an expert's opinion on not only what would look good with those materials, but would also fit the entire feel of our house.

Lucky for me, my bff's mother-in-law (who is a utterly fabulous interior designer and all-around wonderful woman who I loved bunches BEFORE she even volunteered to help) took pity on my poor house's soul and agreed to help me with my window treatment situation.

Best of all: all I had to do was snap a few photos of the rooms where I needed treatments (and the fabrics in them), do some minor measurements and send them along to her to work her magic on the rest.

She emailed me last week saying the some fabric samples would be in the mail for me to choose - and I eagerly awaited their arrival like a kid on Christmas morning!

For our kitchen area, she selected this fabric and trim for roman shades for the three windows + door.

And she gave me four options for the living room drapes - two neutrals and two blues:


And even though Chad and I don't agree on much, we both quickly agreed we liked the top option best (choice #1). It's hard to tell in the picture but it has a beautiful sheen to it and I think it will look magnificent in our living room.

The next hurdle I had to face was getting Chad to agree to actually BUY them.

You ladies with husbands will understand what I'm talking about when I say: Men do not understand how expensive home furnishings can be... especially high-quality ones. So I have been trying to prime Chad over the past few months with the fact that custom window treatments simply aren't a small-ticket item in a house. I had friends, his own mother and even my GRANDMOTHER tell him "Window treatments are an investment... They are often one of the most expensive things in your house..." and so on.

So thankfully, when we got the cost estimate for these two rooms, Chad's head didn't blow off his body... at least immediately.

He told me yesterday, however, that he enjoyed sharing the news with one of his colleagues:

Chad: "So hey, buddy, what are you going to spend your overtime money on?" (remember, Chad and his colleagues been working lots and lots of overtime lately.)
Work friend: "Blah blah blah (something that I wasn't really paying attention to but it had to do with an Audi). What about you, Chad?"
Chad: "Two words, my friend. Window treatments."
Work friend: "What are window treatments?!"
Chad: "You aren't married, so you don't have to worry about window treatments, but once you are, you'll learn soon enough."

And truer words have never been spoken.

Can't wait to show you pictures of the finished product!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Butterflies

It was a unexpected surprise that Chad was going to get today off (as of late, Monday has been his day to be home.) Wanting to take full-advantage of the time I get to see him before he's nodding off to sleep, I suggested a lunch date.

He came to pick me up wearing his new J.Crew sweater I bought him as a surprise "thanks for working your butt off during outage" present. We went to lunch at my new favorite Asian restaurant near campus. Afterward, we went to the bookstore to look around and drove around campus a bit. Note to new readers: I work at a university.

I don't know what it was, but the whole thing seemed very "first date-ish" to me. When we were in the car on the way to lunch, I actually had butterflies in my stomach. He just looked SO cute and it's been awhile since the two of us have been on a "date" (sad, I know.)

And it was so nice to have those same "first date rush" feelings, but with all the history we have behind it. I loved getting to hold his hand as we walked around the same university where we met... knowing that he's not just some guy I'm dating --- he's my HUSBAND.

In life, we forget some times to focus on all the little, amazing things we have.... and things -we quite honestly - take for granted.

Today, a gorgeous husband, a delicious lunch and absolutely perfect weather were all it took for me to practically skip back into my office and face the rest of the day with a smile on my face.

I hope you find joy in a little something today too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Don't kill me...

... but another Christmas post is about to happen.

Just an itty bitty one.

So this year, we're going to have two Christmas trees. We have a skinny fake tree that
we'll put in the foyer of our house so it can be seen through our double-doors from the street.

And then we're going to have a huge, big, National Lampoon Christmas Vacation-style real tree for the living room. And it will be glorious.

Unfortunately, since we only had one tree in our little townhome, I only have on
e Christmas-tree skirt. And since I've already written three posts about Christmas and it's not even the middle of November, you can tell how serious I am about all things Christmas.

So I started hunting online for the perfect Christmas tree skirt.

And I found it.

The one.

The one I've been dreaming of my whole life:



Unfortunately it's from Horchow - the catalog/website I warn all my readers to destroy immediately once you get it since you'll want everything in it... and that just looking at it will cause you to go into bankruptcy.

My pretty little tree skirt of my dreams is $650. Yes, $650. You got that right. I didn't put a decimal in the wrong place. Oh, but because of their super-awesome special "sale", I can get it for a rock-bottom price of $455.

The sound you just heard were the wails of the brokenhearted. My tree skirt dreams are dashed.

So if anyone is interested in donating to MPLT's Christmas-tree skirt fund, I have a donation jar on our front step. I'm going to put a quarter in it when I get home.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Keep on rollin'

Howdy, friends! And how are we at the start to another beautiful week in November?

It's getting nice and chilly out - just how I like it! Not the kind of cold that makes your face sting when you walk outside, but the perfect chilliness (word? maybe? yes?) that allows me to snuggle up close in bed to Chaddy to keep warm as we drift to sleep.

It's been a busy few weeks in our world. Chad is continuing to work like a madman as he finishes up his big work ordeal. I'm just trying to keep things moving at home!

This past Friday, I was lucky enough to get to spend some quality time with girlfriends. Two of my best friends also have M.I.A. husbands (one in California and one in Oklahoma) - so we decided instead of all sitting at home by our lonesome (me a little less lonesome since Chad is home... but mentally, not really), that we'd do an old fashioned sleepover.

To make a long... long... very long evening short: three girls + two dogs + lots of wine = best/worst sleepover ever. Best because we got to be together. Worst, because the dogs barked at each other the whole night. We also watched Sex and the City 2 --- and agreed it was definitely one of the absolute worst movies we've ever seen. No plot, horrible acting - and it lasted for what seems like 9 hours. We should have just put it on mute and glanced up periodically to check out the clothes. But I came home Saturday afternoon with about four hours of semi-sleep from the night before... so Saturday was pretty much a wash. I laid on the couch - and only getting up long enough to run a few loads of clothes and fix Chad supper.

Sunday, I was up early to go to church and teach Sunday school to my little 2nd/3rd graders. Chad and I usually teach together, and we took off the month of October (b/c of Chad's work), so this was my first week back teaching solo. I was worried that after a month away, they would have forgotten who I was. Needless to say, that was not the case and I get several big hugs and quite a few "Where's Mr. Chad?" It was good to feel missed! I'm so blessed to be a part of a church I love.

The rest of Sunday included spending time with family and watching a bunch of NFL. For the past couple of months, we've gotten into the habit of spending Sundays with my brother Mike and sister-in-law Molly. It is the perfect, relaxing way to end every weekend. I'm just hopeful that once Baby B comes along, we'll still be able to keep up our Sunday tradition.

This morning, I was invited to speak to three public relations classes taught by a former professor. It was wonderful seeing him and getting to talk to a large group of students about my career and hopefully pass along some excitement and encouragement as they get ready to leave the sheltered world of higher education and make it in big business!

The rest of the week promises to be just as busy! Just trying to take things one day at a time and thank God for every bit of this little life of mine!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oh Christmas cards, oh Christmas cards...

I know, I know - two posts in two days: and both Christmas-related, no less!

But yes, my mind is already on the holiday season. Last year I reme
mber lamenting to you all about how I was so last minute with my Christmas cards, since we were dealing with the aftermath of Chad's surgery. But this year, I'm going to be prepared. And lucky for me, Shutterfly has some uber cute holiday card options for me to choose from!

I have a few favorite Christmas cards that might end up with me and Chad's smiling m
ugs on it this year. Like this one:


This one would be cute if there if we had a child/dog. I'd feel funny putting five different pictures of Chad and me on it. I can just hear it now, "Yourrrr so vain. I bet you think this Christmas card is about you, don't you, don't youuuuu." I hope someone gets the musical reference.

And this:

And this:

Oooh, and this:

And since I love putting scripture on my Christmas cards, this one is nice:


And Shutterfly even has cute return address labels to finish it off! Now if only they had a little elf on-site to write the actual recipient addresses for me, we'd be in business!

Since this is our first Christmas in our new home... this year's picture might have to be of us in front of it! Now I need to work on begging my design-minded brother with his DSLR camera to come take our picture.

Happy Christmas (card) shopping!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Too early to decorate for Christmas?

Probably... but that doesn't mean I don't want to.

I know some people loooooooooove Halloween. It is definitely not my favorite holiday, but this year I made an effort to get into the Halloween-spirit. Friday night, I went to a pumpkin carving party at a girlfriend's house. That was a step in the right direction - yummy food and pumpkin guts.

Then I spent about $75 on candy for all the neighborhood kids - since we have a billion of them.

I didn't hang any fake spiderwebs or skeletons around the house, but I did plant some pansies, put out a pot of mums and displayed some carved pumpkins.

So last night, Chad and I, along with my parents and brother Mike and sis-in-law Molly (and their little green bean tummy baby --- had I mentioned on my blog yet that Miss Molly is PREGNANT!!!), sat outside and gave away handfuls of candy and laughed all the kids and their cute costumes. Best of all, we got to see some of our favorite little "pumpkins" (who belong to our friends)... sweet little Emma Claire was a cupcake and our precious Annabelle was a ladybug.

All in all, it was a successful Halloween!


Now- only a few more weeks til I get to do the REAL (i.e.: Christmas) decorating. And I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In case anyone is wondering...

Yes, I'm still alive.

And in case anyone is wondering... yes, I still want these:


And these:

Any by anyone, I mean Chad.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ah Home

So after a whirlwind trip last week to Maryland for my granddaddy's funeral - I'm back home and slowly returning to normal.

It was an emotional week, but one that made me so thankful for my family
. We stayed in the most beautiful hotel on Prince George's Island that had beautiful views of the Potomac River from every room.

{view from our balcony}

We had so much fun as a family. On the night of my granddad's viewing, we all came back to the hotel and my parents, siblings, husband, cousins, aunt, uncle and opened (several) bottles of wine and just shared stories and enjoyed our time together.

Anyone who has been through a funeral or two knows that there is something about such a somber occasion that make funny situations all the funnier. We certainly had a few of tho
se this past weekend.

One started when we checked into our hotel and the front desk woman enthusiastically explained to us all the hotel's amenities - including free bikes and kayaks to ride. We didn't think much of it at the time. We
went in, got settled in the room, and decided (after a couple of beers) to walk down to the pier right behind the hotel. Chad spotted the kayaks and decided quickly he wanted to take it for a joyride. Without missing a beat, my brother Mike seconded the idea and the two of them hopped in without a second's thought.


As you can see, they got pretty far out.


Once they paddled in a bit closer, we could see Chad in the back soaking wet, and Mikey in the front dry as a bone. After watching some of the paddling, we noticed that every time Mike dipped his paddle in the river, it would send a spray of water right onto Chad's face.

We yelled at Mike about getting Chad soaked, since Chad obviously wasn't mentioning it. At that point we all had tears streaming down our faces at the absurdity of it all. Then, of course, we got Mike laughing so hard he couldn't stop... and his arms quit working making it hard for Chad to row them both to safety.

Eventually they made it back in. And those bellyaching laughs got us through the weekend.


But back to the seriousness of it all, it was so great to be able to be at the viewing and funeral and hear people talk about my granddad. It gave me such a great appreciation for who he was - and for who my own daddy is. I'm so thankful for both.

The thing that struck out to me most about this whole thing was seeing how my parents interacted with each other. When my dad finally made it home from Maryland two days after my granddad passed, I remembered watching him go into the kitchen and hug my mama for a long time. Even without talking, you could just see the bond they have. I think that is the payoff after all those years of marriage that people forget about. Sure it's not the schoolboy+girl crushes and these grandeur feelings of love and romance. It is beyond that - and deeper. Sure they might not get butterflies around each other every day... but what's left is something beautiful.

It's a shared history. It's getting through all those ups and downs together. It's having your best friend get you through a situation that you would struggle to handle alone.

They've had more than 35 years of being there for each other. A commitment that in this day and age is NOT easy or common. So this experience was a great lesson for me - and one I'll hopefully remember for years to come.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sorry for the delay

Sorry for the delay in posting - we've had a busy/stressful couple of weeks at home.

Last week we learned within a day of each other that Chad's aunt and my granddad were diagnosed with cancer. While Chad's aunt is on the mend - with admittedly a long battle ahead of her - my granddad unfortunately passed away two days ago. It was shocking because it came about so soon. We learned of his diagnosis last Tuesday, and by this Monday, he died. I've been blessed with long relationships with all of my grandparents - and some of my great-grandparents - so it was hard for me to lose my first one.

So my blogging has obviously been on the back burner. But I just wanted to blog long enough to remind everyone to give thanks for their families - and to remember that with all the hustle and bustle of work, school, social activities, etc., to never overlook the importance of family.

I'm so thankful for mine.

Monday, October 4, 2010

When the husband's away...

My mister has a job where every year and a half, he goes through an "outage" where he has to work 12+ hour days, 6 days a week. He wakes up about 4:30 a.m., and doesn't get home until about 6:30 p.m.

It stinks. But it's a small price to pay in the scheme of things - it's a great job and we're thankful for it.

So while Chad's gone all day, I do my best to keep some sort of normalcy (to the extent I can) in our lives at home. We usually eat dinner around 6 p.m. - but now, it's more like 7 p.m. When he goes to bed around 8:30, I get in bed with him. Just little things, so that his schedule (at least
while home) doesn't feel completely out of wack.

However, coming from a family where food is the ultimate comfort, I think making sure there are yummy dinners waiting for Chad when he gets home is one of the most important things. That and fixing him hearty lunches and delicious desserts (to share with coworkers of course) to bring to work.

Yesterday, I made a delicious homemade chicken tortilla soup that
I let simmer on the stove for a good 6 hours. It hit the spot. And even a grouchy Chad after a long day at work made a point to comment more than once how much he loved it.

Take a look:
I'm ready to make another pot again soon!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A very special day

My husband was born 29 years ago today. And although I wasn't even around to know it then, that day would set into motion a series of events that would end up bringing us today many years later.

So I'm so thankful for this day.

I don't think I've ever mentioned on my blog - but my darling Chad is adopted. So I somehow always find this time pretty emotional. As much as I'm so thankful for Chad today, there are a few other people who always come to mind.

I give thanks to Chad's birth mother (who no, we don't know who she is) - for making an extremely hard decision, and at a very young age, that she was not able to raise Chad in a way he deserved, and for making the choice to put him up from adoption.

I give thanks to the Baptist Children's Home who kept, and loved, and prayed for Chad during the 30-day waiting period where he had to stay until the time elapsed when his birth mother could change her mind. I don't know why this always makes me so emotional - but to thin
k there was a group of complete strangers who loved on my Chaddy for such a short, but important time, always overwhelms me with gratefulness.

I give so much thanks to Chad's parents. There is zero doubt in my mind the moment Chad was created, God intended him to be their son. Whenever I talk to Chad's mom about adoption - silly questions like if they had wanted a girl or a boy - her answer is always the same: "We wanted Chad. We wanted Chad. We wanted Chad."

Let me be clear: There is no life that God creates without a family who was purposed to love them.

I am so thankful to my precious Lord and Savior - because I've
done absolutely nothing to deserve it... but He chose Chad for me. Every ounce of my being knows it. There is no one else for me. And the day I said my vows to him... and Him... I swore to myself I would never let a single minute pass without having Chad know that I love him with all of me. I can't kiss him enough, snuggle him enough, laugh with him enough, or tell him that I love him enough.

Chad is the smartest, sweetest, gentlest, kindest, funniest and most loyal and loving man I know.

So I'm just overwhelmed with love and thanks today. Happy birthday to you.

God gave me you for the ups and downs.
God gave me you for the days of doubt.

For when I think I’ve lost my way,
There are no words here left to say, it’s true...


... oh Chad - God gave me you.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

GLEE

No one hate on me - but I haven't gotten into Glee. Blame it on the fact that it runs on nights when I have Bible study... and I have too many other shows on DVR... and whatever else, but I just haven't watched it.

But last night I was home with Chad on a Tuesday night (a rare occasion), and I'd been hearing all the hype about the Britney Spears-Glee episode.


So I figured why not.

It would be worth it to catch Chad singing along to a few Brit Brit songs (or mumbling along, because he really didn't know the words.)

And he didn't disappoint.

Oh, and the show wasn't bad either.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's not officially fall until...

1) I make the change from the in nail polish hues - like last year.
2) I see pumpkins at the farmer's market.
3) I make my first pot of chili.

With a forecast that this past Sunday was going to be rainy and cool (at least cool compared to the 90+ days in a row of 90+ degree heat), I knew chili was in my future.

I broke out my favorite chili recipe - graciously given by my FAVORITE Raleigh restaurant for chili - Mitch's Tavern... which is a NC State staple. Their black bean and sausage chili is to-die-for
. I make a few tweaks in my version, but it's pretty close. Make sure you top it with a dollop of sour cream, fresh cilantro and some chopped green onions.
{Not Mitch's, but pic @via}

And if you're eating chili, you need to have some cornbread. I've had some nasty cornbread before - not necessarily bad tasting, but just really dry... to the point you can't eat it without it crumbling to pieces.

Luckily, Serious Eats posted an amazing recipe earlier this month for Malcolm's Sweet Award-Winning Cornbread. How could I argue with an award-winning cornbread.


{pic @via}

As it turned out, I couldn't. It was perhaps the best cornbread I've ever had.

It was the perfect meal to have simmering on the stove all day while watching some NFL football. And really, isn't that what a Sunday in autumn is all about?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

WooooooHoooooooo!!!!

I'm beyond excited right now. Since I DVRed last night's Top Chef reunion special, I missed the huge announcement that Top Chef is doing a Top Chef All Stars which starts Dec. 1.
Not only are they having some of my favorite Top Chefs from season's past come back - like...

Jenn Carroll (this girl ROCKS)Carla Hall (ah-maz-ing)

Richard Blais

Spike Mendelsohn (okay, kinda a crush on Spike... if only Mike Voltaggio could be on this season too... double swoon)


Casey Thompson



...BUT, they're having my favorite - Anthony Bourdain - become the season's featured guest judge. I love A.B. and was so happy they had him do a one-episode guest host job this past season, and even Twittered (go back and look - Sept. 2) about how I thought he should be a permanent judge. I'm glad the powers that be at Bravo listened.

I think even Chad has a man-crush on Anthony. He's hilarious, blunt, funny, knows his food... and just all around amazing.

Since Top Chef Just Desserts is not really doing it for me... and this past Top Chef Season 7 wasn't the greatest either, I'm PSYCHED for Top Chef All Stars...

if you couldn't tell. ;)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Today's Mrs. Lilien: Mrs. Virgo

I've blogged before about how I love Mrs. Lilien's Styling Blog.

As a Virgo myself, I had to share her Mrs. Virgo get-up and write-up. Me or not? And here in all her splendor is the dashing Mrs. Virgo - she's a decadent and delightful Mrs. I'll have you know! She's meticulous and unabashedly reliable - these traits are imperative to her success, this is undeniable! And while she's practical and diligent - she still loves her necessary indulgences and luxurious fulfillment! She's a natural beauty with a rather refined palette - you'd be crazy to try and pass off an onion to her as a shallot! Analytical, intelligent and sharp as a tack - she'll no doubt school you at a high stakes game of black jack! She can at times work herself ragged so to maintain her highest of standards - but ask her any question and she'll service you with precise answers. She makes for an absolutely perfect friend - she's wildly loyal from her front to her end. From the very moment you say hello - you'll fall head over heels with this Mrs. Virgo!