Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Two Years.

I'm a lucky girl. I met the love of my life when I was fourteen, but I didn't know it at the time. I spent three and a half years getting to know him, becoming his best friend, and letting him become mine. And then we kind of accidentally, blissfully, and naturally just fell in love. Like it was meant to be the whole time.

This was taken before the Homecoming dance in 2007... we were "just friends" at that point, but Jeff flew home from South Carolina to go with me. 

Our relationship hasn't always been easy (the long-distance years come to mind), but right from the start it always just felt right. I don't really consider it luck though... it was all a God thing. The way it all played out, the way we fit together, the way we both always felt like we were right where we were supposed to be... those are the biggest blessings I've ever received, and I thank God every day for giving me my amazing husband.

This was in Houston over the 2008-2009 Christmas break. We loved Christmas break during those years... a whole month in the same city used to seem like such a wonderful blessing! 

We went skydiving as a joint birthday present to each other in the summer of 2009. We had both wanted to do it for a long time, and we were so excited to do it together. Jeff loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat. I kind of hated it and would be very happy to never do it again. But it's still a lovely memory!

This is the night we got engaged. I was so, so blissfully happy that night. I had just taken the LSAT that morning (and it went well), I was all set to graduate from Texas A&M in a few months with two degrees that were perfect for me, and then Jeff proposed. It was like all my dreams were coming true and all my prayers were being answered all at once. Sometimes I think back on how I felt that night and try to remind myself that I'm currently living in my dream world... it all happened and it's all real and it's all my life. How amazing is that? 

Two years ago today, I married my best friend. In a lot of ways, our wedding day didn't feel as huge and important as weddings seem in movies and such. We said our vows, but we had already made those commitments to each other a long time ago. We got dressed up and put those rings on our left hands, but we were still just Jeff and Katie. Even so, it was sacramental and beautiful, and we were surrounded by our family and friends, and it was a day filled with amazing amounts of joy. 

Two years later (has it actually been two years already?), I'm even more in love with that man who put a ring on my finger, and I'm even more excited about all the amazing things we have in store in our future. I can't imagine doing it all with anyone else. 

"It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
1 Corinthians 13:7

Monday, July 23, 2012

One Pot Pasta

I've been struggling quite a bit this summer with finding recipes that I can whip up after work. I generally don't get home until after 7:00 (and often it's more like 7:30 or 8:00), and there just isn't time to make something complicated. I figured out early on that "easy" doesn't necessarily mean "fast" (some casseroles are just simple-dump-it-in-and-mix, but they take almost an hour in the oven).

So, I set out to find some recipes that are truly fast but also tasty, and this one definitely worked out!

Recipe adapted from here.

1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 jars tomato-basil pasta sauce
1 cup water
3 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 20-oz package refrigerated ravioli (I used Buitoni four-cheese)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Cook the ground beef in a large pot over medium heat until cooked through (no longer pink). Drain and set aside. Wipe down the pot with a paper towel.
2. Put olive oil in the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and saute until tender (8 minutes or so). Add garlic and saute 1 minute more.
3. Add cooked beef, sauce, water, Italian seasoning, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then add the ravioli.
4.  Reduce heat to medium-low, put a lid on the pot, and simmer (stirring every couple of minutes) until the pasta is done (8-10 minutes). Stir in the cheese and serve!

(BIG pot)

(meat cooking)

(all done!)

(sliced mushrooms and onions)

(sautéing mushrooms and onions)

(adding sauce, meat, etc.)

(bringing to a boil)

(all finished!)

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cilantro Lime Rice

Who doesn't love cilantro lime rice? It's just delicious. Plus, it's a perfect side dish for Creamy Green Chile Enchiladas or Mexican Lasagna or Garlic Lime Pork Chops (along with Mexican Tomato Corn Salad)!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup basmati rice
Juice from two small limes
1 1/2 cup water
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Basmati Rice - 

I tbsp evoo + 1 cup rice + juice from two small limes
1 1/2 cup water --> boil
25 minutes
3 tbsp cilantro

1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add in the rice and lime juice, and heat and stir for a minute or two.
2. Add in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes (or until rice is cooked).
3. Add in the cilantro and serve!

(heating olive oil)

(this is the rice I use)

(adding in rice and lime juice)

(stirring together rice, olive oil, and lime juice)

(after adding water and bringing to a boil, simmer covered for 25 minutes)

(chopped cilantro)

(adding cilantro)


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Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Weekend in the Hill Country

Over the weekend, we took a trip out to the Texas Hill Country with some friends. We started out with a four-hour drive from Houston to Fischer, TX (with a quick stop in San Marcos for snacks and drinks). The drive was really pretty... I wanted to pull off at a "scenic overlook" stop on the side of the highway and get some photos of the giant hills, but we were traveling in a group and didn't want to lose everyone.

Those photos don't even come close to doing it justice... ah well! 

We eventually made it to the home of the Blanco River, grabbed some lunch, inflated our tubes, and got in the river! This picture was taken right as I was jumping into the river (hence the crazy hand). 

Here's Jeff about to jump in: 

This is our friend, Caitlin. She has an aunt who owns a house on this private portion of the Blanco River, so we got to float down a totally private river. We only saw a couple people the entire time we were there (SO much better than the crowded public parts of the Blanco and Guadalupe).

We brought a big raft to holds the coolers, snacks, and shoes.

The river moves really slowly for most of the trip, so it was a nice, relaxing afternoon. 

See? Don't I look relaxed? Haha. 

I think Jeff was nice and relaxed too. I just love this photo!

I promise he is actually wearing a swimsuit under there. 

Here's Jeff checking out the water dripping down from a natural spring:

It was raining earlier in the day, so we were worried that the whole trip wouldn't work out, but it turned out to be an absolutely lovely day!

Here's our little group... we all propped our legs up on the cooler raft so we would stick together:

I found one of Target's The Webster bikinis on clearance for just $6.88 per piece... best deal ever! 

Here's the whole group, minus Jared (who was playing photographer)

Here's Jeff and me, just floating down the river.

After we made it to the exit point of the river, we packed up our stuff and drove to beautiful Blanco State Park.

We spent the night camping at the park. I haven't been camping since I was a little girl (at least, not in a tent... I've been in cabins and stuff, but I don't think that really counts). I have really fond memories of camping with my family as a kid, so it was kind of fun to set up the tent and camp as an adult!

Jeff and I slept in that little tent on the right... so cozy! 

There was a thunderstorm nearby that night, so we fell asleep to the sound of light little raindrops on the tent... so peaceful! Plus, the rain cooled everything off, so it didn't even feel like Texas summer! 

In the morning, we went to church at a little Catholic Church in Wimberley, Texas before heading home. I love little town churches... it's just so nice how everyone knows everyone, and they're always so friendly to visitors (probably because it's so obvious which people are visitors...haha). 

So, that was our weekend! We've definitely been making the most of our summer weekends with trips to the lake, the river, College Station, etc. Next weekend we're planning on staying in town, and it'll be so nice just to relax at home!