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!

Sad Day for Chaddy

A little over a month ago, I was walking to a work meeting (in the rain) and happened to look down on the pavement and saw one of those tell-tale colored rubber bands.

Anyone with kids around them know exactly what those little gems are.

Silly Bands.

Colored rubber bands in a variety of shapes that kids collect, trade and share with their friends. Chad and I got the lowdown on silly bands once we started teaching 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday school. Some of those kids have forearms full of those things. It's ridiculous.

But anyway, the silly band I saw was a pink pick-up truck. And while Chad's pick-up truck isn't pick, I knew he'd dig it.

And I decided to send a cryptic email to Chad telling him:

"I'm bringing you home something special. It's a surprise. It didn't cost me any money. It's smaller than a bread box. "

Chad, who is like a kid and LOVES to be surprised, of course emails back instantly begging me to tell him what it is. And I know he probably sped home from the office that afternoon awaiting his surprise gift. And all it was was this silly little pick truck silly band. But he had the biggest smile on his face, and he put it on instantly and has worn it day and night every day since.

... until last night. For, whatever reason, he decided to take it off. And it snapped. The guttural cry he let out sounded like a wounded animal. His lone silly band had met it's end. He asked me right away to get him a new one. But I'm not sure it will have the same effect. It was a chance find followed by an impulse gift. You just can't replicate those things!

So rest in peace, pink pick-up silly band. You were special to us.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Finally made the switch

So after nearly four years as a loyal Blackberry user, I have finally moved over to the dark side.

No, not an iPhone - I refuse to have a cell phone provider other than Verizon... and was getting worried iPhone would never make it to VZW.

I finally got a Droid. Chad got the DroidX a little over a month ago. I quickly realized that every time I wanted to do something on the phone other than just email, I was borrowing his. The internet is a million times faster/better. The apps/widgets are noticeably better. And on and on. We started using his Droid as our GPS, and it works so great that we'll be getting rid of our Garmin. The camera on the phone is even better than our old camera.

The only thing I was hanging onto my BBerry for was my Blackberry Messenger. I was hopeful Droid would have something similar, and unfortunately they don't. So it will be back to plain ol' texting for me. But I absolutely love my new Droid Incredible.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Handy Husband: The Result

So my very own Handy Manny -- with the help of his talking tools... and his dad -- finally finished our beautiful new kitchen table and benches that I blogged about awhile back.

And. it. is. breathtaking.


A lot of time, effort and hard work went into the table, and I'm so glad the end-result shows every ounce of it. We (and by we, I mean not me at all) modified the version we were originally going to make, and I'm so glad. I think the table legs are gorgeous. And although the table is still "rustic," it still has a polished feel thanks to some gorgeous stain and coats of poly.

Thanks to a suggestion of my dear friend, blog reader and fellow blogger Amy, we chose an English Chestnut stain that was just perfect. It is deep, rich and warm... and fits pe
rfectly with the rest of our decor.

I'm in the process of ordering a small brass plate that we can attach to the underside or side of the table with Chad and his dad's names as the builders - along with the date they built it and the age of the wood. Chad's dad believes the wood is more than 100 years old... and it was the wood that const
ructed Chad's late great-grandmother's house. It is chock full of so much character- gorgeous worm holes and pits and divots.

It is a show piece with such a story behind it. We can't wait to enjoy holiday celebrations, dinners with friends, and festive celebrations on it for years to come. And best of all, it's a piece that we can pass on to our future generations.

So a big round of applause and lots of hugs and kisses to
my sweet Chaddy for such an awesome job. You constantly amaze me.

All finished:
In its new home:


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another year....stronger


So today is my birthday - 27. I swear it feels like I just got out of college... it is amazing how time flies.

Last year, I wrote a post about all the things I learned during the great year that was 26 - you can read that here.

However this past year, there was only one really big thing I learned about myself:

I'm a strong woman.

A lot stronger than I ever knew/thought/imagined I could be. And not strong in the sense that I've built a wall up. I've gone through some trials this past year. But I'm proud that I've not let it get me down. I've learned that I have a strength that doesn't sharpen my edges - but rather softens them. Instead of letting life's trials make me bitter and angry, it's made me more sympathetic to others and more able to recognize my own blessings. During my hard times, I've relied on the love and strength of family and friends here on earth and the love and strength of a Mighty One in heaven.

I'm so blessed that I was given another 365 days to do this "life" thing. It is beautiful.


Monday, September 13, 2010

I can't be the only one who needs to hear this today...

"How He Loves"
- David Crowder Band -

He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

Yeah, He loves us oh,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

Oh how He loves us, oh
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves all.
How He loves.

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The good, bad and ugly

Let's start with the good! My birthday is next week - and I got my first birthday card...




... from Antropologie. Because they heart me. How cute is this card?

The little candle you see is actually a necklace (the cord is on the back of the card.) I may or may not wear it on my birthday.... you know, as a reminder to everyone that it's MY DAY.

Other good news: My new bar stools came in on Tuesday - and I placed my order last Wednesday! So three big bar stools made it to my house in less than a week - with a weekend a
nd a Labor day thrown into the mix. You can't ask for more than that. I debated between buying three or four stools... and I'm glad I stuck with three. They are kind big, and while four would have fit, it would have been a tight squeeze.


The Bad:
Chad (on accident) broke my hair straightener two weeks ago. Any girl with a professional hair straightener will tell you it's a fate worse than death having your hair straightener out of commission. Though my impulse was to run out to Ulta to buy another Chi for $200 (sigh), I decided to be economical and buy it off Amazon. Usually Amazon ships super quick, so Iwasn't too worried.

Needless to say, I've been sans straightener for two weeks now, and it's still not here. According to the shipper tracking, it's been in Charlotte since Monday. A horse and carriage should have been able to get it to me by now.

So if you're wondering The Ugly, it is without a doubt my hair:


Hoping I'll have it in the mail by the end of the week. My hair does too.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Master bedroom - final!

I kept forgetting to take pictures of our master bedroom ... now that we finally have drapes and the new linens.

So here you are!
And by the way, the linen sheets/duvet cover are wonderful... super soft and breathable. I now only want linen sheets on my bed! I want to get the matching quilt and throw pillow at some point... but at least we have a start!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Highs and lows

I blogged Friday about how I was going to make a special dinner at home for me and the mister. We started off the meal with some yummy La Farm bread, asiago fresco cheese and a variety of olives. Delicious!

Then, on to the main course - my Mussels South of the Border. The end
product:

What was NOT shown in this picture was how horribly inedible they were. I had never made mussels before - so I did my time researching ahead of time how to clean, store and cook them properly. I was ready to roll. I stopped by Whole Foods Friday, and whadayaknow... they had no fresh
mussels in stock... only frozen. However, the seafood counter guy walked me over to the frozen mussels, handed me a box and told me that they'd defrost in 20 minutes easy when sitting in a bowl of ice water. (Works for shrimp, so I figured why not.)

I get home, open the box to defrost my mussels... and I find out they're on the half-shell. How the heck will I be able to tell if they're cooked properly if I can't gauge it by when the shell opens. However, I read the back of the box and it suggests 5 minutes for thawed mussels, 7-8 minutes for f
rozen. I wait for nearly 45 minutes and my mussels STILL have ice on some of them. Some are thawed, but many are not. At this point, I'm certain this is going to be an epic failure. But I proceed with making my stock (which by the way, was delicious), and throw in my half-thawed mussels... and proceed to check on them every few mussels. After 6 minutes, there is still ice on the mussels and my cooking liquid has completely stopped simmering. I crank up the heat a bit, say a quick prayer, and give them a couple additional minutes.

The mussels are still barely warm to the touch, but I was scared to cook them even longer -so I pulled the pot off the stove. The pot smelled delicious - so I was hopeful. Unfortunately the mussels, like I figured, had at some point gone from raw to complete rubber. So Chad and I pulled all the mussels out of the pot and straight into the trash. So then we gorged ourselves on olives, cheese, and bread dipped in the cooking stock - which was very yummy... it had a lot of the mussel flavor (just no mussels.)

Oh well. I'm sure I would have been able to make them just fine if they weren't frozen/on a half-shell... so I might attempt again at a later date.

Soooooo... after that disaster, I was scared to attempt another new recipe... ch
icken and dumplings ---- from scratch. I was planning on making a big pot to take over to our friends Jerod and Angela who recently had baby Jacob (that I also blogged about last week.) It's one thing to try a new recipe out on yourself... it's another to be banking on serving it to a friend. Chad ALMOST convinced me to chicken out and just make chicken pastry using pre-made frozen pastry. But Sunday morning I woke up with a new resolve - I wasn't going to let a frozen mussel massacre bring me down.

So Sunday night/Monday morning I tackled chicken and dumplings. It was quite time consuming... and I was worried how my homemade dumplings would fare. I didn't want them t
o taste pasty or dry. The recipe I used also didn't mention how big to make the dumplings... but Chad mentioned he hates big ol' dumplings, so I made mine a little smaller than a ping-pong ball.

Here they are --- the cute little dumplings... with a little thyme an
d parsley. Ready for their bath!


The delicious stock - full of chicken (I forced myself to leave the dark meat in... though I don't usually like it, I know the fattiness was needed), onions, carrots, celery and fresh herbs.

The final product:
And if I do say so myself- it was ahhhhhhmazzzzzzzzzinggggggggg. Comfort food at it's finest. I dropped a small bowl off at my mama's (because what girl doesn't want her mama's approval on her cooking --- especially when said mom is an amazing cook) for her to bring for lunch today. She actually just got on gchat to tell me that she's adding it to her list of "the best things I ever ate." I'll take it! ;)

So don't let a bad turn at the stove get you down, dear readers... a masterpiece might be right around the corner!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Feeling the love

I'm not gonna lie - the last few months have been rough for me and Chad. We've just been really busy with work, activities, church --- and no doubt, fertility treatments. But, like everything, we push through it together.

So last night, I got home from work to find a house that was gleaming from head-to-toe. And a huge bouquet of stargazer lilies. And the sweetest card... one that, of course, sang "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch." Chad told me I better enjoy that card, because it was ex-pen-sive! So I promised to o
pen the card often so make the most of it.

And after that, we got to head to dinner with our best friends, D&J... and our favorite little girl. She dressed extra fancy for us:
Tonight, Chad and I are going to have a nice night at home alone - just the two of us. I'm planning on heading to Whole Foods right after work and picking up all the necessities to make Mussels South of Two Borders.

And I will pick up a crusty loaf of Italian or sourdough... hopefully they have some fresh from La Farm Bakery (my favorite.) Hopefully the 99 degree heat will go down enough this evening that we can enjoy dinner together on the porch.

Sounds like a great way to start off Labor Day weekend. Hope you, my lovely readers, enjoy every minute of it!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cool Stool

Finally, after a few months of searching (then a few months of waiting), we have purchased bar stools for our kitchen!

I'm so excited. Here they are:The best part - I got three $50 bar stools (in which shipping was originally around $75), for $96 total... with no shipping fee. Yippee! My sistafriend Jamie sent me a promo code and a $40 discount coupon to use. So what would have been $75 stools, I got for $33 bucks. You can't beat that with a stick.

Now I'm just crossing my fingers that they ship on time - and arrive undamaged.

Also, Chad and his dad (not me, I'm ashamed to say) have been hard at work building our kitchen table and benches -- which we're modeling after this one:

Chad's putting his foot down (since building this table was my idea and all... and I promised to help with it) and making me do the staining. So hopefully this weekend I'll go pick a nice stain color. If you have a good brand/color you love, please share! I think I'll do an dark walnut stain... but we'll see!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Last night I fell in love...

... again.

With the most gorgeous baby boy. Our good friends Jerod and Angela welcomed on Friday their first baby - the gorgeous Jacob Michael.

And we got to go see him last night. And snuggle him. And coo at him. And
ohmygoodness we love this baby already. He has a full head of the most silky gorgeous hair and the sweetest eyes. And mom and dad weren't lookin' too shabby themselves. Angela - despite only being four days post-delivery and going off zero sleep - looked absolutely glowing. I, on the other hand, just look tired. Oh well - pay no attention to me... just stare at that sweet thang in my arms.

I commented on how handsome Jacob was, and Jerod -without a second's hesitation- said: "Um, well you did know he was my baby, right. What did you expect?"

Jerod is another one of Chad's friends from school - another guy he grew up with. It never ceases to amaze me how blessed I am to have gotten to be a part of those friendships. We're just one big happy family. In just over a year, we've gotten to welcome Annie, Maia and now little Jacob in the world. Ou
r big family keeps expanding... and it's such a blessing to see.

We're looking forward to watching this little guy grow up in the years to come.

(And okay, even with that gorgeous baby in his arms - can I just
say how gorgeous that husband of mine is? Those eyelashes and dimples get me every time.)