Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Birthday Card-- Love Shutterfly

Happy Colors Birthday Card
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Orange Chicken

On Valentines Day we eat orange chicken. It's our thing. I was never a very healthy eater. Msg and processed foods were the least of my concerns until I met Brady. He likes to keep things natural.

Needless to say we try to stay away from Panda Express these days. Orange Chicken lover that I am isn't okay with that. Every Valentines Day I refine my recipe a bit and this year I could feel that I was on to something.

Orange Chicken 

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp salt
oil (for frying)
1/2 cup cornstarch, plus
2 tbs cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
2 tbs ground ginger
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tbs rice wine
1/4 cup water
1 tsp sesame oil (optional)

Orange Sauce 
3 tbs soy sauce
3 tbs water
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 orange, zest of


  1. Prepare orange sauce in medium size bowl and set aside
  2. Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees.
  3. Combine egg, salt, pepper, and 1 tbs oil in a small-meduim sized bowl.
  4. Combine 1/2 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup flour in a separate small-meduim sized bowl. 
  5. Take a handful of chicken pieces at a time and toss them in the egg mixture, then coat them in the flour mixture. 
  6. Add chicken to deep fryer, small batches at a time, and fry 3 to 4 minutes or until golden crisp. Do not overcook.
  7. Remove chicken from oil and drain on paper towels. Set aside. 
  8. Now this is the tricky part. Get the rest of your ingredients ready to toss into the wok because this next part is fast! Read through the rest of the directions before you begin.
  9. Heat wok 15 seconds over high heat.
  10. Add 2 tbs oil.
  11. Add 2 tbs ginger and 2 tsp garlic. Then stir-fry until fragrant; about ten seconds. 
  12. Add and stir-fry 1 tsp crushed red pepper.
  13. Add 2 tbs rice wine and stir for 3 seconds.
  14. Add previously prepared Orange Sauce and bring to boil. 
  15. Add cooked chicken and stir until mixed thoroughly. 
  16. Stir 1/2 cup water into remaining 2 tbs cornstarch until smooth and then add to wok. 
  17. Heat until the sauce thickens.
  18. Stir in 1 tsp sesame oil, if desired.
  19. Serve with rice. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ranch Roasted Red Potatoes

Brady is in a love affair with ranch dressing. Anything Hidden Valley is a show stopping number so when I found this recipe I knew it was meant to be. I'm pretty sure it blew his mind a little. 

So good. So very very good. 

Ranch Roasted Red Potatoes 

12 oz red potatoes, washed and quartered
1/2 packet Hidden Valley dry ranch dressing mix
Olive Oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. In a large bowl add potatoes and toss with olive oil until lightly coated. Then, add in the ranch mix and salt and toss until each potato is coated evenly. 
  3. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange potatoes evenly. 
  4. Bake in oven until potatoes are cooked through and edges start to turn very dark brown, approximately 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately. 


Three months postpartum and I'm back to normal. My body feels back to normal. 7 more pounds and I'll be back to pre-pregnancy weight.
Avey went with me to my annual physical and was as happy as a clam when we arrived at the doctors office.

Unfortunately the doc got called away on a delivery and we ended up spending two and a half hours waiting. At first we waited in the waiting room then a nurse called us back, took my weight, blood pressure and a urine sample. She ushered us into a room, told me to undress, and let me know that the doctor would be in shortly.

Note to self: Shortly means 55 minutes spent sitting buck naked on a table while your baby cries because she's hungry and needs a diaper change.

I cannot even put into words how happy I am that I wont have to do that for another year.

lunch date.
This past month has been a whirlwind. Every week my calendar has been full of lunch dates, dinner dates, weekend trips, visits from friends, and game nights. Brady and I are homebodies. Neither one of us was ever big on having a social life. I know it's one of the reasons why we fit so perfectly together. We learned early on in life how to be content in our surroundings. Every day doesn't have to be an occasion, we're solitary people, we like to be alone, we like the peace and quite.

I thought that this month would be a challenge for me because typically after a day spent with friends I need two spent at home, without plans, recovering. This month I was fueled by the steady stream of the ones we love and the ones that love us back.

It was nice to meet a friend after a terrible morning at the doctors to get my mood back on track. It was needed. It was greatly appreciated.

great grandma.
My Dads mother and I have always been close. A couple years ago she moved to Texas and the bond we've always shared became even greater. I was at her house, on her couch, gushing about the new boy I started talking to the night before I went to On the Border, the night that Brady and I sat in his truck till 4am talking about our lives, getting to know each other, laying the ground work for our relationship.

Throughout my life I remember many times sitting on her couch, confiding in her, talking to her about boys, parents--life. She was always there, always close, and always ready to take me out to the movies--to revive our spirits and renew our zeal--our passion for life.

Sadly, because of a misunderstanding after Avey was born my Grandma Sharon had not been over to see her yet. This month all of that was rectified.

yes. our christmas tree is still up. yes. i am aware that it is almost march. 

We hadn't seen Brady's family since Christmas so we decided to take a quick weekend trip to visit and catch up. It was Aveys first road trip and she rocked it out. Slept the whole way there and the whole way back.

I love Brady around his family. There is a side of him that comes out that I don't get to see very often and when I do get to see it I relish every second.

It's that part of a person that only comes out around the ones that know you best. The ones that have been there since the beginning. The ones who've seen every piece of you and love you anyway. It's that part that I get to see when he's with them. It was that part that convinced me that I couldn't share my life with anyone else.

The Williams family does this thing that used to make me feel left out--they love to quote movies--not meaningful quotes but the funny, stupid, i-can't-believe-that-just-happened quotes.


They like to do it often. I used to smile and laugh along with everyone else because I didn't want anyone to know that I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about but I'm past that now because they don't do it to get the obligatory nod and laugh. They do it because it bonds them.


My family bonds while sitting around watching the movie and his does it whilst remembering them. It's a beautiful thing if you're willing to sit back and watch it all happen. My family sitting around the television while my Dad pauses to make comments for the hundredth time and his family gathered together in the living room spouting off silly quotes through laughter-- it all says the same thing. 


"I really enjoy being with you."

"No one understands me like you do." 

"I wish we could do this forever."

the sneeze.

We always have a wonderful time when we're with his family.

And slowly but surely-- the more time we spend around them--they're becoming mine too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day

rattle queen.
She owns it. Her movements are becoming coordinated and she's figured out how to grab hold of things and entertain herself. I just can't grasp hold of how quickly she's changing. 

Yesterday a box arrived at our door. It was address to Brady and I don't open or pay much attention to his packages. After he got home from work he told me to close my eyes and when I opened them this is what I saw:

Biggest box of chocolates in the world. We gave gifts to each other last night because his gifts for me were a little too hard for him to hide in our dinky 600 square foot apartment.

Last year he got me a big box of chocolates that was shaped like a heart and when we opened it we were disappointed to find that it only contained 9 pieces of chocolate.


This box has 2 1/2 lbs of freakin chocolate. Now that's what I'm talking about!

My Valentines flowers from California have bloomed. :)

My gift to Brady was simple. It was a card I designed on shutterfly. I was more than pleased with the results. Personal notes and photos of the major holidays in our life with Avey so far. This is not a throw away card but it's something that we are going to keep for a long time. I was so excited to give it to him and his reaction didn't disappoint.

Pop Heart Valentine's Card
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I'm a fan of Valentines day. My parents always made a point of giving us little Valentines day presents and it's something I know that Brady and I will do with our kiddos.

Recently I began to think back about past relationships and you know what? I was surprised to discover that I was always single on Valentines Day. Brady was my first real Valentine.

And that's special. My first romantic Valentines Day was spent with him and my last will be spent with him.

It's a fun day dedicated to thinking about and spoiling the ones you love. Before I was married I shared it with my parents, brothers, and sister. Now that I have Brady and Avey I share it with them.

Last Valentines day Brady was going to treat me to dinner at my favorite restaurant but I wanted to stay in so I made orange chicken from scratch and we had chinese.

It was not an easy meal to prepare and I haven't made it since but in the honor of hopefully creating a tradition of our own I am going to recreate our first Valentines meal together and we are going to have it again tonight.

Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots

A couple months ago we went to my Grandparents house for dinner and my Grandma made, among other things, a big pot of cooked carrots. I remember hating cooked carrots as a kid but things change as you get older. I lost my love of fish sticks and started a love affair with carrots. 


1 lb carrots
2 tbsp butter
1/3 c. brown sugar

Cook carrots in a large pot of boiling water until tender. Drain most of the water leaving just the bottom of the pan covered and set carrots aside. Stir butter and brown sugar into the water. Simmer and stir until the butter melts. Return carrots to the pot and toss to coat. Cover and let sit for a few minutes to allow flavors to mingle.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Oven-Roasted Asparagus

I love asparagus. I love it just about every way you can prepare it. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare asparagus. Unbelievably delicious!

16 oz asparagus
olive oil
parmesan cheese
1 large clove minced garlic
sea salt
ground black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Asparagus has a natural breaking point. Snap the ends off and throw away. Break them in half again and place into large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat the spears, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Arrange asparagus on baking sheet in a single layer. 
  • Bake until tender. About 12-15 minutes. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Iris Lilies from California

On Tuesday night we had dinner with friends we hadn't seen in awhile. I was excited to have a reason to  shave my legs and put make-up on. Avey cooperated begrudgingly as I showered slowly spoiling myself with the body gel I only wash with on special occasions. 

I took my time fixing my hair and I found a tube of lipstick I hadn't worn in years and lavishly applied it to my lips. I felt like I was getting ready for the prom not dinner at Palio's, a local carry-out pizza/pasta joint where you can b.y.o.b. 

Helen Keller once said, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." So I donned the red lipstick and I wore pretty shoes because I'd be darned if dinner wasn't going to be an adventure. 

And dinner was an adventure. We got to reconnect with old friends. One who is planning her wedding and getting ready to begin a new chapter. I was blessed to be privy to information about the planning and colors and flowers. 
While we were packing up we ran into someone we hadn't seen in awhile, as you often do in a small town, and it was the best surprise. It's nice to feel missed. When someone tells you that they've missed something about you it means that you've left an unforgettable impression. I want to be that girl. That girl you can't forget. That girl that leaves impressions. 

As I've mentioned before we co-bed. Avey usually begins the night in her bassinet but ends up in bed with us at some point and stays till morning because it's easier to nurse that way. The doc recommended that when she hits the three month mark that we begin the migration to her crib... in her own room and I don't wanna! 

So I don't think I'm gonna.

I think we'll go at our own pace and when it feels right it'll be right. Lord knows I am not going to be one of those Mommas that has her two year old in bed with her every night. That bed belongs to Brady and I. It is where we rest, recoup, connect, and share quite moments while the rest of the world sleeps. It is not a family bed. It is a marriage bed and we are going to teach our children to respect that. Kids don't come first. Brady comes first. 

Give it a few more months and I'll be ready to put her in her own room. I'm almost there

story time.
I'm a story time snob. I used to work at Barnes and Nobles in the children's section and one week the manager that usually read for story time was out so I, by default, got the job. I picked out two of my favorite children's picture books, King Bidgood's in the Bathtub and Green Eggs and Ham, both books that you just can't go wrong with and I bit my nails (my nervous bad habit) as I waited.  

I remember sweating. I remember sweating profusely. I remember sweating right through my cute sweater.

I love her "oh" face!

I don't know why I was nervous. It was just a bunch of kids. But I was. 

Soon the dreaded time arrived and I began to read. After the first page I was on a roll, the nerves were gone, and I just kept going. I don't know how true this is but apparently as I began to read I picked up an english accent. I was also so loud that they could hear me upstairs. But the kids loved me and the parents made it known to management and then it became my job. Soon I had a following of about 50 kids (between both story hours) and the accent stuck. 

All that to say that yesterday was Avey's first story time at the public library and after being "The Storytime Lady" for over a year and a half I had become quite a story time snob. I even read at a couple Authors book signings (Laura Numeroff and Lemony Snicket... though if I remember correctly his real name is Daniel). 

I was not expecting great things. But great things are what we received. There was music, sign, play time, books, and a talking bear named be-bo. Avey was more interested with the kid sitting next to her but I ate it all up and we had a great time. 

Story time is going to become a Wednesday morning thing. 

As we are all aware of by now Valentines Day is just around the corner. Yesterday there was a knock at my door and this is who was on the other end of that knock: 

Box-o-flowers. I was elated. The only time I ever received flowers from a flower delivery man was the time that the guy delivered them to the wrong apartment. 

Brady ordered them for Valentines Day but the company did not read his request and they overnight shipped them from California! The only thing I love more than regular flowers is California Flowers. 

They came in bud form.
and yes that is our Christmas tree in the upper right hand corner. don't judge me. :p

And then this morning... this happened. 

And I'm pretty sure that this is the best Valentines ever. Because Iris Lilies from California are the prettiest flowers I ever saw.