Friday, November 29, 2013

Gnocchi, Sweet Corn, & Spinach in Cream Sauce

I always forget how much I love gnocchi. Actually, I think I always forget gnocchi even exists, and then I come across a recipe like this one and I'm all "oh! gnocchi!" and then I make it and eat it and remember how delicious gnocchi is and then I promptly forget about it for another ten months or so. It's a never-ending cycle.

Anyway, this recipe is comfort food at its finest. Super yummy! And you can do the entire thing with just one saucepan. Minimal clean-up! It also freezes really well (just thaw and reheat in a saucepan).

IMG_2258

Recipe adapted from here.

Ingredients:
2 cups frozen sweet corn
1 pound shelf-stable gnocchi
3/4 cup half and half
3 oz cream cheese, cubed
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 cups baby spinach leaves

Directions:
1. In a nice big saucepan, cook gnocchi according to the directions on the package. Add corn for the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Drain gnocchi and corn (but reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water!), and set aside.
2.  In the big saucepan, combine half-and-half, cream cheese, salt, garlic powder, basil, oregano, and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water.
3. Return gnocchi and corn to the pan. Stir to combine and heat until warmed through. Stir in basil and cook for another couple minutes so the spinach wilts.
4. Eat!

IMG_2232
Gnocchi and corn cooking.

IMG_2235
Cream sauce ingredients.

IMG_2241
Cream sauce!

IMG_2245
Gnocchi and corn + sauce!

IMG_2248
Yumm!

IMG_2256
Ta-da!

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you're all enjoying the day with family and friends, reflecting upon the blessings of the last year, and eating some delicious food!

All that is good, all that is perfect, is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow caused by change.
James 1:17

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Day I Passed the Bar Exam

The day I found out that I passed the bar exam was a really great day. The bar exam had been hanging over my head for three months, so finding out that I officially passed it was a huge relief!

It was Halloween, and we knew results were supposed to be released on the Board of Law Examiners' webpage at some point that afternoon.

I wore one of my favorite dresses to work, since I was hoping it would turn out to be a celebratory day!

IMG_0863

After lunch, I pulled up the website where the bar results would be posted, and I started refreshing the screen every five minutes or so. Around 1:00, one of my coworkers told me that a friend of a friend of a friend of his who works at the Texas Supreme Court had heard that the results wouldn't be at the justices' chambers until 2:00, so we figured that was the earliest we'd hear anything. 

Around the same time, the website was updated with a page of statistics, including the overall pass/fail rate and pass/fail rates for each law school in Texas. So we all knew that 26 people from my school failed, but we had no idea who they were. Stressful!

I ended up getting a time-sensitive project at work right after that, which was a big blessing because I stopped worrying and refreshing the screen, and I just worked. The next thing I knew, two of my coworkers were in my office asking "have you seen it yet?" I immediately asked them if they knew my results, and they told me I passed! It was about 2:15.

Of course, I immediately pulled up the website to see it for myself, and sure enough, there was my name! 

IMG_0870


Since Texas posts the results online for everyone to see, I started getting emails and texts from friends and family pretty much right away. I felt so supported and loved! Jeff was refreshing the website all afternoon, and I think he actually knew I passed before I knew! 

Above all else, I was just SO relieved! There's a bar in downtown Houston called "State Bar," and it's kind of an unofficial tradition that everyone goes there to celebrate passing the bar exam. So I finished up a few things at work, and then around 5:30 I headed over with the rest of the first-year associates at my office. 

Screen shot 2013-11-23 at 9.34.07 PM

Jeff met us there, and a bunch of my friends from law school were there too. It was a fun celebration! Jeff and I left around 8:00 so we could get home and catch the last of the trick-or-treaters. We poured a couple glasses of wine and passed out candy and had a lovely evening! 

IMG_0877

Jeff got me flowers and a really big dark chocolate bar as a congrats gift. I was like "wow, that's a really big chocolate bar!" and he said "because the bar is a really big test!" Can't argue with that! Haha.

IMG_0891

I registered with the State Bar of Texas the next day, took my oath a few days later, and officially became an attorney! 

IMG_0878

And without further ado, I'm officially crossing #20 off my 30 Before 30 List! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pumpkin Patch 2013!

We go to the pumpkin patch at the Old Time Christmas Tree Farm with my parents and sisters every year before Halloween, and we did it again this year (although I didn't get around to blogging about it until just now)!

We spent a lovely afternoon strolling through the pumpkins and Christmas trees and looking for the perfect pumpkins!

IMG_2561
With my sisters. :)

IMG_2562
Just hangin' out in the pumpkin patch with my sweet husband. :)

IMG_2564
I love this photo of my parents!

Jeff and I love any excuse to wear our cowboy boots...

IMG_0830

IMG_2572
Baby pumpkins!

In the end, Jeff and I picked out a funny little flat pumpkin. We never carve them, so our decision is always based on what will look cutest on our porch (while my dad and sister select the biggest, roundest one that will make a perfect jack-o-lantern).


We took advantage of the Christmas tree backdrop and took some photos for my parents' Christmas card while we had the whole family together. I think we got a good photo or two in the end, but not before lots of goofing around took place. :) 

IMG_2482
Silly family. <3>

I love family traditions like this. I hope we keep going to the pumpkin patch for years and years!

A look back at past pumpkin patch trips: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

Monday, November 25, 2013

Our Third Anniversary

I just realized I never wrote about our third anniversary. So I'm going to go ahead and document it now... even though it's been almost four months since then. Oops!

Our third anniversary was July 31st, which happened to be the second day of the bar exam. Jeff was super sweet about it... he put a note in my lunch box. :)

Screen shot 2013-11-23 at 7.30.26 PM

We did actually exchange gifts and cards in the hotel room that night, but it was more like a study break than an anniversary celebration, so we rescheduled the celebrating portion of our anniversary to a later date. Because we left for our Alaskan cruise so soon after the Bar exam, we decided to officially celebrate our anniversary in Seattle!

We picked a fun restaurant called Poppy, and we had such a great time sitting in their herb garden and eating "thalis"! The food was absolutely delicious!

IMG_0417

IMG_0416

IMG_0415

I always get Jeff a present that goes along with the traditional anniversary gift for that year. The traditional gift for third anniversaries is leather, and I've actually been waiting for this one for a while... ever since I first saw leather as year three, I've had it planned!

IMG_2809
(named blurred out)

I got him a (leather bound) family Bible (it's this one), imprinted with our last name. We have plenty of Bibles around the house, but I wanted us to have an official "family Bible."

IMG_2791

IMG_2810

It stays in our living room where we can get to it easily, and it has lots of fancy pages in it for recording things like wedding dates and baptism dates and family history. It's a really beautiful Bible with lots of illustrations and a pretty large font. We can't wait to use this Bible for reading the story of Jesus' birth on Christmas morning and other fun tradition-y things like that!

IMG_2818

IMG_2822

IMG_2823

I always wrap Jeff's anniversary gifts in our wedding colors, navy and burgundy.

IMG_7152

IMG_7134

I used the last of the burgundy ribbon this year though, so that may be the end of it. We'll see.

Jeff's gift to me was a sunset sailboat ride! You know how you sometimes talk about the wayyy distant future and brainstorm fun things? Well, when we do that, we always toss around the idea of maybe someday, when we retire, learning to sail and buying a sailboat and spending a portion of our time living on our sailboat. I had never even been sailing though, so I honestly had no idea if I even liked it. So it was a really sweet gift from Jeff to get to go try it out!

Due to assorted scheduling problems, we didn't actually get to go until just a few weeks ago. We drove out to Clear Lake and rode a sailboat with a captain for a few hours. The sunset was just absolutely beautiful on the water, and it was fun to get to see how the whole sailing thing works!

IMG_0897

IMG_0900

So, in the end, it was kind of like we got three anniversaries this year (our actual one in July, our celebration of it during our trip to Seattle in August, and the sailboat ride just recently)! Such fun. Yay for three years of being married to my best friend (and many more to come)!

Oh, and just for fun - here's how we celebrated our first anniversary, and here's our second!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What We've Been Up To

I've been working for about two and a half months now, and Jeff and I are finally starting to really adjust to this new way of life (Jeff keeps calling it our "DINKY phase," but I really hate the sound of that acronym for some reason!). I have more "free time" now than I did in law school, but it often doesn't feel like it because now I have about 0% control over when that free time occurs. I work longer hours than Jeff generally, and I also end up working nights and weekends pretty often, so our typical pattern of "Katie does the cooking and cleaning" definitely went out the window.

It's been an adjustment, but I think we're finally feeling some sense of "normal" again. Or, as normal as life with one demanding job involving a large amount of travel (Jeff) and one VERY demanding job involving a smaller amount of travel (me) gets. Let me tell you though - having an entire weekend free from work (even if that only happens once a month) and totally without "law school guilt" (aka constantly feeling guilty that you're not studying when you're doing anything except studying) is AMAZING. And actually working and doing something is a zillion times more fulfilling and enjoyable for me than law school ever was. I'm loving it.

IMG_0735

IMG_0743

IMG_0752

Sometimes when I fly for work I take photos of clouds. Haha!

On top of all the changes with my job, Jeff changed jobs as well a few weeks ago (same company, just a new position). His new job requires regular trips to Africa, which has been really exciting for him, but it makes our life a little more crazy. It's been kind of funny... we do things like leave each other notes in the kitchen and say things like "well, I'll say hello to your car when I park mine at the airport!"

But overall, we just feel really blessed that we have two stable jobs that allow us to use our degrees and provide for our family so well financially. It's definitely not something we take for granted, and even though we sometimes complain about the travel or the long hours, most days we just feel like God has given us some pretty amazing blessings.

Anyway, I know I've been horrible at blogging, but I have a few yummy recipes to share and I want to write about the day I passed the Bar exam and a few other things (and I just realized I never blogged about our third anniversary, which was all the way back in JULY... oops), so I'm hoping to get back in the swing of things!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Best Ever Spinach & Cheese Dip

This is one of those recipes that you just need to file and have on hand for parties and holidays and stuff. It's easy and yummy and definitely a crowd-pleaser! I discovered it last winter, and I will be making it for years to come!

IMG_3205

Recipe adapted from here.

Ingredients:
1 10oz package frozen spinach, cooked according to package directions
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz monterrey jack cheese, shredded
6 oz parmesan cheese, shredded
1 can Rotel

Directions:
1. Put cheeses and cooked spinach in a microwave-safe container and microwave for three minutes. Stir. Microwave for additional minutes until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring after each minute.
2. Add Rotel and mix together. 
See, super easy right? You can even cook the spinach in a large tupperware and then just use add the cheese to the same container, and then you only have to clean one dish! I like to serve it with pita chips, melba toast, or small slices of my no-knead homemade crusty bread.

Enjoy!