Monday, December 27, 2010


Hello! I'm back! It's been an absolutely wonderful Christmas, and I of course will post pictures and such in the days to come, but for now it's time for an important reminder... IT'S TIME FOR APPLE PIE!!

If you didn't catch the first couple will-do winter posts, I promised myself I would bake a real, homemade apple pie this winter, and a lot of my readers said they'd like to give it a try too! So we're all going to do it together, and I'll post pictures on the blog of your pie if you send me a photo!

Here's how it works:
1. Bake an apple pie. Any sort of apple pie will do.
2. Take a photo of your finished apple pie! Congratulations!
3. Email that photo to spiralsandspatulas {at} gmail {dot} com by December 31st. Include your name and blog URL if you want them to be included in the Apple Pie Post!
4. Check the blog in the first few days of 2011, and see your pie featured on Spirals & Spatulas!

I've already picked out my apple pie recipe. It's this one. I've got a bag of Granny Smith apples in my fridge, and they'll soon be PIE! I'm debating which sort of pie crust top to use though. I had pretty much settled on a lattice top crust with thick strips like this one...

But then I saw this cute little thing, and now I just might have to do a "honeycomb" crust! 

And if I only had a leaf-shaped cookie cutter, I would TOTALLY do this one because it's adorable. 

Oh, and if a traditional apple pie isn't your thing, will you please make apple pie pops? So cute!!

I can't wait to see all of your pies (and I seriously hope at least SOMEONE participates, or else it'll just be my pie you see next week! Haha.)!

PS - Remember, the second half of Will-Do Winter (hang something on a wall!) is coming up as well. Pictures for that half will be due by January 10th!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas is in the Air!

Apparently it's a thing for the blog world to kind of shut down during the days leading up to Christmas. My page view statistics are like WAY down. I'm glad y'all are getting in the holiday spirit! We (and by "we", I mean "I") finished our Christmas shopping yesterday, so now we've got a few days to relax before all the traveling and such begins.

I thought I'd share with you some Christmas-y photos that didn't make it into my last Christmas decor post.

First, Jeff painstakingly wove garland and lights through our balcony railing. Doesn't it look nice?

Apparently all of our courtyard-neighbors are a bunch of Scrooges. Or lazy. We have the only decorated balcony in the whole courtyard!!

Here we are all dressed up for Jeff's office's holiday party. It happened right smack dab in the middle of finals so it was a little hectic to cram it into my schedule, but it was so wonderful to actually get dressed up and just have fun for a few hours. 

My sweet husband brought these beautiful flowers home from a grocery store run. They were so pretty and Christmas-y, and I was so stressed from finals that I just about cried when I saw them. PS - thanks for the vase, BM Pilar!!

And here's my makeshift Christmas tablescape. All stuff I already had, except for the berry garland (sale at Target!) and the big milk glass bowl on the left (a recent present from Jeff's grandma!!).

I SOOO wish I had a red pashmina to put under it all. Pashminas as table runners are my new favorite thing. I have a pink one that's going to be PERFECT for Valentine's Day.

Here's a close-up of that milk glass piece. I mentioned to Jeff's grandma that I have a small milk glass collection, and then she GAVE me this bowl of hers. I thought it was so sweet and so special. I LOVE it. I have big plans for it too... weaving some ribbons through those holes, using it for a bridal shower to hold little desserts... ah, such fun!

Merry Christmas to you all. We're headed to a place called Santa's Wonderland tonight to see their great Christmas light display. I'm pretty sure they have fake snow too, and since it's 75 degrees outside as I type this, fake snow is quite exciting for us Texans. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Catfish Cakes

I really like crab cakes. But crab meat is expensive. Solution: catfish cakes! These taste so close to the real thing, and they weren't even that hard to make (for some reason I had built up crab cakes in my head to be a labor-intesive and difficult food)!

Recipe adapted from here.

1 pound catfish filets (I used the frozen kind - three big filets!)
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard (I used spicy brown mustard)
1 tablespoon creamy salad dressing (I used Mayo w/ olive oil)
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper (I'm not sure how much of this I really used... I just dumped it in there)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (again, not sure exactly how much I used)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups coarsely crushed buttery round crackers (I used Club crackers)
1 egg
1 cup vegetable oil (for frying)

1. Boil catfish in water for about 5 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Drain the fish, and mash it up with a fork. (You could also bake the fish and then mash it)
2. Stir the onion, mustard, seasonings, crushed crackers, and salad dressing into the mashed fish.
3. Add the egg and mix until evenly blended.
4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Form the fish mixture into patties.
5. Take each patty and dip both sides in flour. Then, put into the oil. Fry on each side, and drain on paper towels.

Now for the explanatory photographs:

I think I left my catfish boiling a little too long. It flaked with a fork WAY too easily when I tried to get it out of the water!

Here's my catfish post-fork-mashing.

Chopped onions! (anyone else's eye's get watery just looking at this? Oh, classical conditioning.)

The best way to crush crackers is to stick them in a freezer-duty bag and then hit it with your fists until you're feeling totally stress-free!

Here's the mixture with everything added in...

Dipping the patties in flour...

Mmmm, fried food! If you're like me and you haven't fried anything in a while, you should make this recipe. I so enjoyed the sizzling on the stove!


We ate them just by themselves with green beans, but some sort of tartar sauce would be yummy with them!


Monday, December 6, 2010

The Final Countdown

Can I just complain about law school for one sec?

Basically, finals are coming. And finals make law school even worse than it normally is. So instead of my usual two-times-per-week of seriously considering dropping out to be a baker/florist/youth minister/school librarian/wedding planner/{insert any career here, because they pretty much all sound better than law school}, I'm up to oh... 17 times per week or so. And it may or may not be the case that at least two or three of those times involve little crying episodes. It's bad.

And while I'm quite thankful for Jeff's nice engineer salary, it makes it a little too easy to decide in my head that the whole lawyer thing isn't worth it and I should just be a secretary. I was a secretary once for a fancy downtown-Houston-14th-floor-of-a-fancy-building company for a summer. I was really, really good at it. To this day, I can use a copy machine like nobody's business. I fix the printers at law school a lot. And I'm super good at being organized.

Yeah. This is where my head is at currently. Not good, friends. Not good.

Anyway, even if I decide to open that hypothetical florist shop, it's probably a good idea to at least finish out the semester, right? Haha. So I'm studying for finals, which means Spirals & Spatulas may be a little empty for a little while. But don't fret, I'll be back with bells on (and hopefully with some sort of decent class rank) after December 17th!

Prayers would be much appreciated. Especially this Thursday, next Monday, and next Friday.

And for all you other students going through finals right now, I've found this Bible verse to be reassuring so I thought I'd share:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sigh. Why is it that I can't seem to just stop worrying so much about finals and grades and job placements, and instead trust that God has a perfect plan for me already worked out? If you've figured out a way to make yourself do that, please (please!!!) share. :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Shutterfly Albums!

I recently ordered two Shutterfly photo albums for a number of reasons:
1) I'm considering designing a wedding album through them for all of our wedding pro photos.
2) I have ALLL these pictures from showers, bachelor(ette) parties, our honeymoon, cake tastings, dress fittings, etc. that were just begging to be used for something.
3) Groupon had a great coupon for Shutterfly photo books.

So I made one "Engagement" album containing everything from the day we got engaged until the day before our wedding, and I made one "Honeymoon" album with our Jamaica photos. I ended up getting the Honeymoon one FREE (via an emailed coupon for a free 20-page 8x8 photo book), and the other one for $10 + $1/page over 20 (via the Groupon offer).

I thought I'd share some photos of the books on here for anyone who is considering ordering through Shutterfly. I was very, very happy with the quality overall (especially for the price!!).

The Engagement Book:

Shutterfly has about a gazillion backgrounds, page layouts, fonts, and photo borders you can choose from for each page.

You can see in this next photo that the pages have page #s. I thought that was kind of odd, but there didn't appear to be a way to get rid of them. Anyone know if you can or not?

One of the things I don't so much like is the bar code on the back... I'm not sure what it's purpose is, and it kind of ruins the look of the book.

The spine printing turned out quite nicely, except that it's slightly below center. I think a smaller font size would have fixed it.

And here's the Honeymoon book. Again, the spine printing was a little too low.

Other than that, the book is great!

I tried to do this book with more text so I could include some of our memories from the trip.

Shutterfly books have to have at least 20 pages, so when our Honeymoon photos only used 17, I had to add a few pages of us opening our wedding gifts right after we got home. Haha.

Again with the barcode.

All things considered, I LOVE these books. The print quality of the pictures was perfect, and the pages are high-quality feeling. I think I'm going to email customer service at Shutterfly to ask about removing the bar code and page #s before I order our wedding album through them. As long as there's a way to get rid of those two things, it looks like our wedding photos will be in a 12x12 (bigger than these... these are 8x8) album from Shutterfly. We're even asking for Shutterfly gift certificates for Christmas to help pay for it. :) I'll of course make the wedding one look less playful than these. Probably solid black backgrounds with very little text (and not too many of those crazy layouts with ten crooked photos).

Why am I doing our album this way rather than getting a fancy, expensive one? First of all, I want our wedding album to be something I can sit on our coffee table. I want people to feel free to pick it up and flip through it. I DON'T want it to be something we paid hundreds of dollars for that we have to be careful with. I don't want to freak out if one of my little cousins gets it and tears a page or something. 

Also, I want to reserve the right to update it if it goes "out of style." I figure, what looks good on a coffee table now won't be considered attractive in a decade or two, and I want to be able to update our album later so we can continue to have it out for years to come. If I would have paid for the fancy one through the photographer, I don't think I'd be able to justify buying a new one later. 

And thirdly, I think this sort of thing is fun. I enjoyed designing these two books, even though I did them pretty quickly (my Groupon was expiring and I wanted them before the holidays!). I'm looking forward to putting my own work into designing our wedding album and placing the pictures. I plan on taking my time to do it and making it exactly what I want. You don't have as much control over a photographer-made album.

What do you think? Have you ever ordered a photo album and loved it? Do you know if I can get rid of the bar code and page #s? What sort of wedding album do you have?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanksgiving Recap

Is it too late for a Thanksgiving Recap? It's only really been a week, but somehow I feel like the blogging world is already WAY past Thanksgiving and moving on to Christmas. Weird.

Anyway... I have to let you all know how our crazy day of three Thanksgivings went, right?

Triple Thanksgiving!!!

As it turns out, they went really, really well! And it wasn't even that crazy. We drove the five hours to McKinney on Wednesday so I could bake pumpkin pies and help my grandma with some other prep work. Pumpkin pies are my job every year... it's been that way since I was in middle school (although I used to get some help from Grandmom...hehe). This year, I made FIVE!

And since Thanksgiving is all about tradition and whatnot, the guys sat and did nothing in the living room while the women folk slaved away in the kitchen. Ha. (Note: this has nothing to do with traditional gender roles. We just cook better than them! Hehe.)

Granddad, Daddy, and Jeff

My sister, My Grandmom, My mom, and Me

It was so good to spend some time with my sister... she keeps herself busy with a double-major in Dance and Business, so I don't get to see her a lot. The following series of photos describes perfectly why I love her so much:

"I just love you so much!!!"

"Whoa, that picture looks weird with your hand on my head..."


"Okay, real picture..."

"Kristen! I said 'real picture'!!!"

"Okay, okay."

And then, since my sister is my go-to fashion expert, I naturally had to show her my brand-new black boots that I found at TJ Maxx. And my husband, who has apparently been trained to snap photos of everything for the blog, naturally got it on film (err... on memory card).

After the baking and prep cooking was done, we then drove the 1.5 hours to Fort Worth to Jeff's grandparents' house, where I was given the task of decorating the tables for Thanksgiving. I had a big bunch of fall flowers, a collection of crystal vases, a small bunch of gourds and things, and free reign to be creative. SO up my alley. I wish I had pictures of the tables all done, but I don't. But I loved it. What fun. Law school is totally squishing my creative side, so it was nice to just relax and make something pretty. :o) I love how Jeff's family knows me so well... just give me a bunch of flowers, an hour or so, and a couple of blank slate tables and I'm happy!

On Thanksgiving morning, we got up on time and got ready on time and made the 1.5 hour drive to Plano, TX to see my grandparents on my dad's side for Thanksgiving #1. There was absolutely no traffic, and we were running so early that we stopped for Starbucks. At that point, we were bragging to ourselves about how we totally rock at Triple Thanksgiving.

It was a GREAT meal, but alas... the photos are on my mom's camera. Sorry guys!

Then we drove the hour and a half back to Fort Worth for Thanksgiving #2 (are you following all this? haha). We managed to leave Plano on time, and arrive in Fort Worth on time, and everything was going great (more bragging to ourselves about how good we are at Triple Thanksgiving. That's what happens when two overachievers get married).

Even though we were full from Thanksgiving #1, we managed to nibble on some honeybaked ham, stuffed mushrooms, and stuffing. Mmm, mmm, mmm. And then, another hour and a half drive back to McKinney for Thanksgiving #3! This was the drive during which I cracked up laughing upon passing DFW airport yet again. My poor little Mazda definitely didn't get a day off for Thanksgiving. We don't have a picture from this drive because I was asleep. Oops. Turkey coma? We arrived in McKinney just in time for me to help finish the gravy, corn, and a couple other things.

And then, after another delicious dinner (why did I take all those pictures on my mom's camera?!?!?), we watched the Texas A&M - Texas football game, where (of course) the Aggies absolutely dominated. We had my little cousins saying "Let's go Aggies!" and it was absolutely adorable.

Then we decided to look at the Black Friday ads. And then we realized that Wal-Mart's sales started at midnight. So we left right away because my mom and I wanted a pair of Shark steam mops so, so badly! And we got them - just $36 each! My sister, aunt, and sister's boyfriend also came, and we got a bunch of great deals! Then there was coffee, then Kohls at 3am, Target at 4am, and Sam's at 5am. I'll spare you the details. :)

My sister's boyfriend waiting in the Kohls line while the rest of us sat in the warm car. What a guy. He's from up north somewhere, so he can handle the cold. Ha.

Looking pretty good for 3am and no sleep!

And then, after a little bit of sleep, Jeff drove back to Houston while I napped in the passenger seat. And then I studied for law school.