Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Year of New Experiences : 2014

It was one of those years that I'm pretty sure is a mile marker in my life, like I've transitioned from kid-hood to adulthood in just a summer. The year went by a lot faster than I intended it to, but that's to be expected.

I hit a lot of firsts/big moments in my life, therefore all "big moments" and "firsts" will henceforth be labeled as "New Experiences" or "N.E." due to the nature of this post so shhhh don't try to scrutinize too much.

My other stipulation is this: Don't look through here and think, "Oh my gosh, you'd never done/seen/gone there before?" Because what is the fun of going through life if you've already done everything?

New experience #1:
My niece's first birthday! It was a real rager, guys, as you can tell by her wicked "party over here" dance moves.

N.E. #2:
I rode on a sled for the first time. Really, it was the first time. It's a lot more hilly (and snowy) up north than down south.

N.E. #3:
My siblings and I rode this thing at a playground and it was awful, unless you are my sister-in-law, in which case it just makes you look like a super-model.

N.E. #4:
Went to my last college sporting event as a student.
(Photo stolen from Mal's instagram)
N.E. #5:
I made videos with friends for our campus ministry variety show. Not good ones. But videos.

N.E. #6:
I graduated from college. Yay/boo.

N.E. #7:
Then...I got married.
Bachelorette Party (at the arcade)
Jumping in heels is easy at this point.

N.E. #8:
I went to Disney World for the first time ever and it was AMAZING. After so many years of dreaming of the day we'd ride off on his magic carpet together, I finally got to meet Aladdin. And Gaston. And every Disney character ever. And we saw the big castle. And we ate in the Beast's Castle. And I met the Beast! And if you can't tell I'm excited then let me make it clear: I was SO EXCITED.

N.E. #9:
I saw the ocean. It was bigger, wider, scarier, saltier, and more gorgeous than I'd ever imagined. I even got in the ocean. We got up at 5:30 a.m. to watch the sun rise over the edge of the water and saw distant storms and pelicans. All my life, I wanted to see the ocean and it finally happened.
Proof that I actually got in the ocean. (I'm a tad aquaphobic, you see, so this is a big deal for me. I did not go in farther.)

N.E. #10:
We went to the Halloween viewing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show dressed as Brad and Janet. It do you say...not what Caleb expected at all.
People even asked to get pictures with us.
N.E. #11&12:
I've begun taking photos in hopes of building up a portfolio for my goal of kicking off my photography business next year! As a double whammy, (pun is totally intended and you'll understand why) my siblings are having twins!

So there we have it. My biggest year yet.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Caleb and I are very proud of all of our various Halloween costumes over the years. This will mark our fifth Halloween together, and since Halloween is my third-favorite holiday, I thought I'd celebrate by taking a look back at our favorite costumes...

Publisher's Clearing House

Dwight and Angela from The Office (also the only time I've ever straightened my hair on my own...)

Barney Stinson and Robin Sparkles from How I Met Your Mother
This year we're going to a night showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which Caleb's never seen. He doesn't know what he's getting in to, but I've picked out our costumes (I promise we're only going as Brad and Janet pre-arrival to the castle) and we are ready to go for Halloween 2014!!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

fRecipe fRiday: Cowboy Casserole

A few weeks ago, I thought I should probably break out one of my big-kid wedding gifts, a nice sleek Crock Pot. And, after pinning this post, I figured at least one of the recipes would work.

That led me to Cowboy Casserole. It sounded pretty perfect, with vegetables and meat and cheese and stuff that I already had in my pantry. So without further ado, here is my slightly tweaked Cowboy Casserole.


1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Cavender's
5 red potatoes, sliced thin like potato chips
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 can diced tomatoes (don't drain)
1 cup canned corn
1 can kidney beans
1 cup shredded cheese

So after you've acquired all of the ingredients in the proper format, you dump them all (except the cheese) into the (somewhat large...4-6 quart) Crock Pot and stir.

Cover that and cook on low for 7-8 hours (how I did it) or on high for 4 hours (alternate quicker version). Once you hit the end of the time, uncover the casserole and sprinkle the cheese on. Recover and let it cook for 30 more minutes.

Sure, it looks a little gross, but it's pretty tasty.
And then there you have it, the casserole is all done. (I forgot to take a photo with the cheese on it, sorry!) Boy, it makes more than enough for two people. Four people could probably demolish the casserole with some to spare. We had leftovers for two days!

Try it out sometime, especially if you're getting used to a new Crock Pot!

Friday, September 19, 2014

fRecipe fRiday: Homemade Twix Bars

Most of my time lately has been spent being domestic. Typical things, you know: cleaning, cooking, knitting, laundry, hitting up every social media site ever created, reading, budget-checking, binge-watching Netflix, etc.

Cooking more has really helped us stick to our new being-married budget. In college, eating out seemed to be a necessity to get by. But now I have time to cook, and even right this minute, I've got something in the crock-pot (but that's a fRecipe for next week, if it turns out well.)

This week, I made homemade Twix bars! Really, it was more of a homemade Twix sheet. The nice thing is, you can cut them into whatever size you want. I found this recipe via Pinterest (there's the link to the recipe I used.)

What you'll need:
Square pan, 8x8 or so
Aluminum foil
Stick of butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
10 oz caramels (I used a bag of Kraft caramels and guesstimated 10 ounces)
1 tablespoon and 1 1/2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream
8ish oz of milk chocolate

First things first, preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and line the pan with some aluminum foil. I buttered it down to grease it up, but you could just spray it with spray oil too.
All the things.
Next, in a bowl, beat together the sugar, vanilla, and butter. Add the flour and mix it all up, and then press your concoction evenly into the pan. Prick the crust with a fork a few times, and then put it in the oven for 35-45 minutes, until it's looking nice and golden.
Pre-cooking. I had a rough time pricking the crust; it makes me really anxious.
Cool that crust, and before it gets cool, be sure to loosen the edges from the foil by running a knife around it.

Put the caramels and cream in a bowl together and melt it slowly in the microwave. I'm talking, every 20 seconds, open the door and stir it a bit. Once that's smooth, pour it over the crust and even it all out.

Oooo so shiny.
Stick that in the fridge for about 30 minutes (or about as long as it takes you to watch one sitcom on Netflix.)

Now you'll melt your chocolate. Again, it can be in the microwave, but be sure to stir it every now and then. When it's melted down, pour the chocolate over the caramel, and then spread it all to the edges.

I let this sit (covered) in the fridge overnight so that when I wanted to eat it, it'd be completely set.

And, of course I forgot to take a picture of the complete finished product, because, honestly, I was too busy eating it to worry about photos. And you will be too hopefully!

One of the last pieces...It looks a little rough because I am not good at knives.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Five Things I Learned While Planning Our Wedding

I learned a lot things the past year or so while I planned a wedding. Amidst stress and excitement, things that you never expected will happen. And things you did expect will happen too. To me, this is a list of the most realistic struggles and tips that I think at least some bride-to-be's will understand.

5. A simple and personal wedding is just as fantastic as a lavish affair. Just because you can't or don't want to spend a lot of money on your wedding day doesn't mean you won't be just as married as everyone else.

4. It's okay to start with a vision and then completely do the opposite.
    I wanted an outdoor wedding. Did I get that? Nah. I wanted to make my own dress. No way did that happen either. Don't feel like you are betraying yourself if you don't do what you've been dreaming of since you were a little girl, or since you were whatever age you started thinking about weddings (which for me was only about three years ago.)

3. Apparently colors are important? People are really intense about colors.

2. Everyone knows how you should do everything. Your engagement is long? You should have had a short one. You are going to *insert honeymoon destination here*? You HAVE to go see this and do this. You blah blah's the same old story.
    Sometimes the advice is totally welcome. And sometimes it's annoying. The thing that you have to remember is that everyone is just trying to be helpful. They don't know how much you've researched or planned, or exactly why you are waiting so long to get married, or why you aren't buying everyone a four-course dinner at the reception, etc. So, you have two options. You can A) be blunt and tell them what's what or B) smile and nod.

And the most important....

1. It's YOUR wedding. It's not your friends' wedding or your cousin's wedding or anybody else's wedding other than you and your spouse's. If you don't want something a certain way, that's fine. You don't have to please your 200 guests. That's impossible.
   Now, I'm not saying you should be a selfish bridezilla where everything simply must go your way. You should relax! But I am saying that if you really want your photo frame to be perfectly centered on a table and your step-sister's aunt says it looks better to the's okay to do it your way.

What did you learn while planning your wedding?

Carrie Nichols Photography did a great job with our photos! I'm fairly, nay, supremely happy that wedding planning is over now!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Top 5 College Moments That Made Me Question My Sanity

In honor of school starting up again and me not going back, I thought I'd recount some of my most harrowing, important, insane, and horrifying episodes from my college days. Just kidding, it's just a list of stuff that I remember the best.

5. That time I ordered a pizza slice from Sbarro in the mall and they handed it to me and there was a dead fly baked on top of the cheese.

4. Getting trapped in an elevator in my dorm the week before school even started. I have always been scared of elevators and getting trapped in them and falling to my death, and my family and friends would always tell me it'd be okay. And then my worst fear was realized, nearly eight floors up.

3. When my own fiance ran into the back of my truck with his truck and I was contacted by every single law agency in the state wanting to help me sue him. (Except for Peter Miller. What the heck, Miller. I always thought the man with the smile was the way to go, but I guess I was super wrong.) (Also I didn't want to sue Caleb. So it wouldn't have mattered anyway.)

2. There were two major ice storms during my four-year stay at college, which knocked out a combined total of at least 20 school days for me. It was awesome/awful. I hated being cooped up so much, but I really enjoyed getting to know my senior-year roommates better! See that post here. The worst moment was trying to drive on the ice on the hill beside our house and promptly sliding sideways down it into a sidewalk. All so we could go see Frozen in theaters. Har de har, weather, real funny.

1. Oh no big deal, just that time when I met a guy, dated a guy, started to really love a guy, got engaged to a guy, and then got married to that same guy all in the same four years I went to college. That's a pretty important/insane set of events that happened. (I tricked you, I made a slightly funny post into a sappy post, bet you didn't see that coming.)

My time at college was pretty great. I mean, college makes you grow up and figure out who you are without tossing you out on your butt into the real world first. Which is a very nice thing for college to do for you. Making it through all four years might have been the hardest thing I've ever done (I really didn't like school and had very little motivation, plus I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.) But making it through all four years was also one of the best things I've ever done.

To all you college freshmen/seniors/whatevers out there, I encourage you to do the same. Make memories, stay up late, do your homework, and most importantly, persevere. You can do it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lessons Learned From...Maleficent

So my ma and I saw Maleficent as our last hurrah with me being a "single" girl. I thought it was pretty good, though surprisingly short (which wasn't bad since the USA vs. Belgium match started right after the movie ended).

So here are the things I learned while watching the revamp of Sleeping Beauty (SPOILER ALERT kind of):

If someone cuts off a piece of you and stores it in a glass container and makes it into a shrine and talks to it and goes crazy then it is highly possible that that piece of you could totally reattach to you and be perfectly fine, but only if you're magic.

If you have really high cheekbones, you're automatically a villain. (I'm watching you too, Stefan.)

In (supposedly) France, people have both British and Scottish accents, but not French accents.

 Always wear leather pants underneath your outfit, because you never know when someone's going to rip off your clothes during a fight, or when you need to become a horned Catwoman.

Ents are great crossover characters.

I will never feel okay with the lady who played Umbridge in Harry Potter #5, no matter how many other characters she plays. Never. I am sorry, Imelda Staunton. I am so so sorry.

The main thing I learned:
Disney is really on a kick right now of "true love" being not between two lovers, but between family or friends of some sort (like Frozen). 

This was the only Maleficent picture I liked on Google image search.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Lessons Learned From...The Hobbit movie

Alrighty ladies and gents, it's time for another round of "Lessons Learned From..." (cue the game show music) this time, featuring the second installment of the Hobbit series--The Desolation of Smaug.

This post probably includes spoilers, and under normal circumstances, I'd probably say, "Buck up, the book's been out for decades, you've had time to read it." But Peter Jackson takes liberties with the story, and a lot of stuff could be spoiled here. We'll see how I do. I write the intros before I write the body so I may not spoil anything.

Lessons Learned From...The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
    1.  Making the name "Smaug" into two syllables makes you sound smart and British, which are basically synonyms anyway in the U.S.
      2.  Short guys can get "hot" elf ladies. Don't give up hope, short guys.
      3.  Even though the elf girl looks just like Arwen, (to the person that hasn't seen LOTR in a while) it's not.
      4.  Dwarves are like dramatic friends--the kind that take you to a place filled with crap and say "You'll know what I'm asking for when you see it" without telling you anything else and make you find it with a fire-breathing dragon on your back.
      5.  Physics are not true, if you judge by upright open barrels floating down a fast river unladen with the gallons of water that surely had been filling them up.
      6.  Good flirting is making someone believe you just cursed them.
      7.  Manipulating Benedict Cumberbatch's voice results in a voice that still sounds exactly like Benedict Cumberbatch.

      8.  Gandalf is not as hardcore as previously believed?...or is he?...I guess you'll have to watch the movie?...

      9.  Legolas is, and always will be, the peak of all Middle-earth males that geek-girls worldwide will go ga-ga over. (Sorry, Kili, it's just, he had our hearts when we weren't even teenagers yet, and he speaks Elvish, and he's a slick archer, and he's got long blond hair that girls dream of having. I mean, come on, Kili and I have the same hair. What's the fun of that? Besides, Kili, you just end up ...wait...that's a spoiler...)

      Yeah, that about wraps it up for the new Hobbit movie. Overall, I really did like it, though I still don't understand why it's three movies and each movie is nearly three hours long. There go all my hopes of having a Hobbit/LOTR marathon when I own all the movies, unless I want to stay awake for two days. (SPOILER ALERT: I DON'T.)

      This is Kili...
      And this is likely the exact same Legolas poster I had when I was 11...