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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year. When we think about the past year and how we want to improve or what we want to accomplish in the coming year. I’m a big goal person. I usually have goals for the year and goals for seasons. I’m a big dork like that. But I enjoy accomplishing things, challenging myself, and seeing what I’ve done in retrospect.
This year instead of having New Year’s goals I decided to align them with my birthday. I turned 28 a few weeks ago and these are my goals for the year:
– Drink more champagne. This may sound a little silly and frivolous and it is, truthfully. The past year has been heavy and difficult. This year I want to have more fun and stop taking things so seriously. Drinking champagne is just fun, its frivolous  and you can’t be too serious. So far I’m doing marvelously. I’ve decided that I’m going to try all the champagne that my local liquor store carries. I’m starting on the bottom shelf and working my way up. I gotta say that I’m really loving the $4.99 spumante.
– Host 12 gatherings. When Bryan and I first bought our house we had people over every few weeks. This helped us keep the house relatively clean at all times. In the last couple of years we haven’t done as well. This year I want to stretch myself to host at least 12 gatherings. And family doesn’t count. So far I’ve had my old co-workers over for champagne and snacks. I also hosted a birthday party for Bryan when he turned 30. Two down in less than one month!
– Wear Sequins. See: drink more champagne. It’s fun and silly.
– Visit 5 breweries or distilleries. One of my life goals is to visit 50 breweries or distilleries. This year I’d like to visit at least five. We are planning a trip to bourbon country this spring so I have no doubt that I can accomplish this one.
– Read 15 books (3 of which must be non-fiction). So far I’ve read one fiction and have started a non-fiction.
For the last two years I’ve done a photo-a-day or Project365. I always miss a couple days a year, but the point was to capture the little things of each day. I made a book for 2011 and will have one made for 2012 as well. I love being able to look back and remember those little moments. The first Korean meal I’ve had or the time Bryan did something stupid or just snuggling with the dog in bed.
With two years under my belt I feel a little more comfortable to stretch myself this year. The vast majority of photos from the past two years were taken with my smartphone. 2013 I plan on using my DSLR. I inherited one from my father a year and a half ago. I have enjoyed trying to learn to use it, but I rarely cart it with me unless I’m out of town. And if I do I’m pretty shy about taking it out and using it. I’m camera shy behind the camera if that makes any sense. I’m also by no means a good photographer. I have a ton to learn about using that big camera. The purpose of doing this, though, is to 1) take my camera with me, 2) stop being camera shy, and 3) improve my photography skills. I’m pretty excited about it, but also a little nervous.
Do you make goals for the new year or for your birthday? What are you doing to stretch yourself?

Indian Christmas 2012


This year, for the Christmas meal that we get to host with my family, Josh and I decided to go off from the usual traditions and do an Indian themed meal. Between Josh’s dairy allergy and a vegetarian in our midst, we thought this would be a great way to get a variety of dishes to please everyone.

Bonus for me: most of these will only be better by cooking them the day before. Can’t argue with that.

Our drink of choice for the evening isn’t Indian at all, but it is festive. That’s totally fine, right?

Indian Christmas Menu:

Anyone else breaking from tradition this year? Anyone have any traditions that they would never ever break?

Merry Christmas!

Sandy Hook


I stayed glued to my computer screen on Friday, as so many did, trying to find updates on the shooting and hoping beyond hope that it wasn’t as bad as everyone feared. It was.

I received a phone call early Sunday morning from my mom with the news that my 17 year old cousin was in a serious car crash and is now in a coma.

Josh turned to me as I cried and said “If we have kids, they will not drive. We will keep them locked in the basement and home school them.”

While this is obviously not what we’d do, it’s what part of me will want to do. We live in a big scary world. A beautiful world, but a scary one.

When Josh took me to China to meet his dad before we got engaged, I knew several people who warned me to be careful because it’s so “dangerous” in China.

I tell Josh to be careful every day because it’s dangerous here.

We can’t live in fear, no matter how much of a struggle it is to choose to hope. I know that the only thing that I can do is try to be better and love more.

This prayer of St. Francis is one to live by, especially in times like this:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Our hearts and prayers are with all the lives touched by the tragedy at Sandy Hook, and with my cousin and his family.

Things We Love: Christmas in a Small Town


Baby tree at one of our favorite breakfast spots

One of my favorite things about the little town where we live is how over the top they go on Christmas decorations. Every store, every restaurant, all down Main street, is full to the brim of Christmas spirit. There’s a huge tree in the middle of the town square, and lights everywhere. They never fail to make me happy, even on the gloomiest of days.

Foodie Friday: Warm Sweet Potato, Mushroom, and Spinach Salad

Photo Courtesy Deliciously Ella

Photo Courtesy Deliciously Ella

In an effort to eat more seasonally, we’ve been eating a lot of heavier soups and stews and things. All of the delicious winter squashes and sweet potatoes are fantastic and so good for us, but sometimes I just really crave a great salad.

When I saw this salad on Deliciously Ella, I thought it might fit the bill. The very fact that I can consider making something full of mushrooms like this goes to show how amazing and adventurous Josh is. After a lifetime of hating mushrooms, he’s slowly started trying them more and more over the last few months. Now he’ll happily eat a soup full of mushrooms or a portabella mushroom sandwich. SO awesome.

This salad is one of those dishes that winds up being far more delicious than you could possibly believe it could be. I took my first bite and I’m sure my eyes got huge. It was just so good, full of textures and flavor. I inhaled my portion and licked the plate. No lie.

We liked it so much that it’s also going on our meal plan for this week as well. When a dish makes the cut two weeks in a row, you know it’s good. The fact that it’s also great for us is an added bonus. Remember, especially when you’re using such simple ingredients in such a simple way, quality will make all the difference in the world.

Warm Sweet Potato, Mushroom, and Spinach Salad (recipe copied from here)

  • 1 large sweet potato
  •  a dozen mushrooms (we used shiitake)
  •  2 bowls of spinach (we actually used tatsoi, an asian green, from a local farm, but spinach would be great)
  •  2 jalapeno peppers, deseeded and diced
  •  a dozen cherry tomatoes
  •  4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (we love Bragg’s raw unfiltered)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  •  1 tsp smoked paprika
  •  salt
  •  olive oil

Cut the sweet potatoes into small cubes and place them on a baking tray. Toss with olive oil, salt, paprika and cinnamon.  Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375, until soft.

While these cook slice the mushrooms into pieces and gently stir fry them with olive oil, salt, apple cider vinegar and the chopped jalapeño pepper. This should take about 7 minutes. Add your spinach and toss around for 2-3 minutes until wilted.

Quarter the cherry tomatoes

I simply assembled ours in layers, and dug in.