Monday, May 28, 2012

Time Off

After finishing finals for the spring semester, I had a blissful 10 days off before starting work on the 21st. Here's the recap:

Day 1: I had lunch with Jeff and Jeff's mom and Jeff's grandparents (who were in town for a short visit). I had appointments with the dentist and optometrist, and ended up having to wear my glasses for two weeks because of an eye infection.

Day 2: I slept through most of the morning (which was glorious after a couple weeks of very little sleep every night), and then I went out and bought Mother's Day presents for our moms. I also went on a giant grocery shopping extravaganza (we were way overdue on that as well). SO NICE to have the fridge and pantry stocked with real food! 

Day 3: Mother's Day - we got up early and drove to Cypress for the day. My mom wanted to celebrate with breakfast and Dark Shadows at the Movie Tavern, so we did!

Crazy movie, but we had a good time. :) 

My mom opened her Mother's Day gifts back at the house, and in the afternoon we left and headed over to Jeff's parents' house. We took Jeff's parents out for a Mother's Day dinner at Cafe Red Onion (one of our favorite Houston restaurants) and had a great time. 

Day 4: I went shopping with my mom and sister. All day. We got to the Outlet Mall at 9:50 only to find out that the shops don't open until 10:00am. So we planned out our route for ten minutes, and then we shopped, shopped, and shopped some more! I was in dire need of some more fancy business clothes for work, and Kristen also has a summer job that she needed new clothes for, so we bought a bunch of stuff! We stayed there until it was time to pick up my other little sister, Karoline, from school. 

Karoline had a choir concert that evening, so I stuck around for that. We went out to dinner afterward, and Jeff came straight from work and met us for dinner. We ran into one of Jeff and my high school band directors at the restaurant - what a blast from the past!

Day 5: I had another doctor's appointment, and I finally started cleaning the house. I had seriously neglected housework for two weeks or so during finals, and I felt SO much better to have the house all spic and span again. Finals season is tough, but it makes you appreciate things like a stocked fridge and clean house SO MUCH.

I got a Garfield band-aid because I didn't cry when they took my blood at the doctor's office. 

That evening Jeff and I had to go have our picture taken at church for a new church directory (wait till I show your our photo... it's so awkward and ridiculous-looking!).

See the ones with the couples where the man is sitting and the woman is awkwardly standing behind him? That's what ours is like. 

Day 6: I ended up having to drive the 45 minutes to Cypress again for a kidney ultrasound. When I went for my regular physical/check-up with the doctor, my blood pressure was really high, and he was really worried that I might have some sort of kidney disease (because 22-year-old skinny people don't normally have high blood pressure), so he sent me for a kidney ultrasound. It was kind of funny actually... it was just like the ones they do on pregnant women, complete with the weird gel and the triangle-shapped grainy photos. I told the technician that I though my husband should be there for this. Haha! It turns out everything was fine. I think it was just the stress of law school finals making my blood pressure high.

While I was in Cypress, I got to have lunch with Kristen and my mom again! Then I spent a glorious afternoon at Hobby Lobby and Target, where I fell in love with this Privet House serving bowl (but didn't buy it because the only one left had a little crack in it):

That evening, we went to Ikea to purchase the sofa and bookshelves for the craft room. I was SO excited. They're actually running a special right now that gives you 15% of any couch purchase back in an Ikea gift card, so now I have $90 to spend at Ikea! Oh, and I joined the "Ikea Family" club, and we got a free ice cream cone!

Day 7-8: I ran a bunch of errands. I did a bunch of laundry. I went to a few stores to pick up paint samples for the craft room. I spent a good couple of hours playing around with paint chips and fabric in the craft room, and I think I've landed on somewhat of a vision for the room. I'm excited to get started making it happen! I also finished cleaning the house, and did some meal planning for the next week.

Craft Room Things!

I also got to pick Karoline up from school and hang out with her for a few hours. We went and got frozen yogurt, and then we went to her horseback riding class! 

Yay, Karoline!

Day 9: I started the morning in Highland Village (a fancy shopping center by our old apartment). I went to Banana Republic (and oddly enough, left without buying anything), wandered through the new Restoration Hardware showroom (so beautiful!), and scrutinized all the bedding options at Pottery Barn (we're trying to pick something new for our master bedroom). I stopped by Sprinkles Cupcakes on the way out and brought home three - red velvet, black-and-white, and banana.

We had Jeff's parents, Jeff's brother Tim, and Tim's girlfriend Emily over for dinner. It was so nice to catch up with everyone (Tim and Emily just got home from college, so we haven't seen them in a while).

Day 10: We got up and went to morning church, which never happens. Usually we're 5:30pm Mass people. Jeff and I made a calzone for lunch with pepperoni and red onion and pineapple, and we loved it. I'll have to get a recipe on the blog soon. We went to Cypress again for a birthday party for a good family friend of Jeff's, and came back home in time for me to get a good night's rest before my first day of work! 

Whew. That was a long update! I promise I'll tell you a bit about my job soon, and stay tuned for craft room updates! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Olive Oil & Herb Bread Dip

You know how Italian restaurants have that fancy olive oil and herb dip for the breadsticks/bread? Well, it turns out you can recreate it at home really easily with stuff you probably already have in the pantry!

Recipe adapted from here.

1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Put all ingredients except olive oil into a shallow bowl or deep plate. Mix them together.
2. Pour olive oil on top to cover the herbs. Give it all a good stir.
3. Serve with breadsticks or sliced bread!

(ingredients mixed up)

(olive oil added in)

(serve with bread)


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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vanilla Ice Cream

I love my ice cream maker. I've made quite a few delicious ice creams since I got it (apple pie ice cream, chocolate velvet ice cream, lemon ice cream,  pumpkin spice ice cream, strawberry cheesecake ice cream, and more!), but I've been searching for months for the perfect plain old vanilla recipe.

I've tried quite a few vanilla recipes, but I just couldn't seem to find one that I loved enough to stick with. But, I finally found the one that I'll be using from now on!

Recipe adapted from here.

5 eggs (you can use Egg Beaters or a similar product if you're worried about the raw eggs)
2 12oz cans evaporated milk
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3.5oz package instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups milk

1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together eggs, evaporated milk, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in the pudding mix until smooth.
2. Pour half the mixture into your ice cream maker. Add in 1 1/2 cups milk, and freeze according to the directions on your ice cream maker (mine takes about 30 minutes). Once it's done, freeze in the freezer for a couple hours before serving. Use the remaining vanilla mixture after the first half is done (do the same thing - pour it in, then add the 1 1/2 cups milk, then let it go for 30 minutes or so). You may need to re-freeze your ice cream maker base between batches. Note: these directions are for those with smaller ice cream makers like me. If you have an ice cream maker that will do an entire gallon at once, you can just pour the entire mixture in and add the 3 cups milk. 

(mixing the ingredients)

(adding the pudding mix)

(freezing for 30 minutes)

(all done!)

(in the freezer for a couple hours)


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Monday, May 21, 2012

Nutella Mug Cake

Sometimes you just need a little something sweet. I love the concept of mug cakes because you can make just a little dessert without having 7/8 of a cake leftover, but I rarely find one that really tastes as delicious as an actual cake. This one is an exception though... it's absolutely divine!

Recipe adapted from here.

4 tbsp self-rising flour
4 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp Nutella
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp olive oil
Whipped cream, chocolate syrup, or whatever toppings you want!

1. Combine all ingredients (except the whipped cream and toppings) in a large coffee mug. Find the largest mug you have... this is not a cake for tiny mugs! Stir it all up with a fork until it's smooth.
2. Stick the mug in the microwave and microwave on high power for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Mine took 1 1/2, but it will vary depending on your microwave wattage.
3. Cool for a couple minutes, then top with a little whipped cream and chocolate sauce and eat!


(ingredients in the mug)

(all stirred up)

(finished cake - perfect size for two people to share!)


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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Jeff requested a strawberry rhubarb pie for his birthday. I had never made a strawberry rhubarb pie before, so I was pretty nervous about messing it up, but I found a great recipe and it turned out to be absolutely wonderful! Add a little vanilla ice cream, and it's the perfect dessert. The strawberry sweetness balances out the tart rhubarb perfectly.

Recipe adapted from here.

1 unbaked single pie crust (I just used a Pillsbury crust, but you could make one from scratch)
1 package frozen rhubarb, thawed
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
4-8 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

1. Pour the rhubarb into a medium-sized bowl. Add in the strawberries and one cup of sugar. Stir.
2. Stir in the cornstarch 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture reaches a syrupy consistency (I used about 6 tbsp).
3. Place your pie crust into a pie plate, and pour the rhubarb mixture into the crust. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup sugar over the top.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and brown sugar. Slice the butter into pieces and mix it into the flour and brown sugar using a pastry cutter or two knives (keep slicing until the butter is in pea-sized crumbs).
5. Sprinkle the flour-brown sugar-butter mixture over the rhubarb filling. Crimp the edges of your pie crust.
6. Bake at 400 degrees for 50-55 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned. You may need to cover the pie crust edges with foil for the last 20-30 minutes to prevent burnt crust.
7. Let the pie cool completely before cutting into slices. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

(strawberries, rhubarb, and sugar)

(after mixing and adding cornstarch)

(pie crust)

(flour and brown sugar)

(filling into the pie crust and sprinkled with 1/2 cup sugar)

(cutting in the butter)

(topping sprinkled, crust edges crimped)

(into the oven!)

(mmmm, nicely browned pie!)

(fresh out of the oven!)

(sliced after cooling)


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