Friday, September 30, 2011

Here's What's Cooking...4-Ingredient Thumbprint Cookies


I'm always on the lookout for quick dessert recipes that look more gourmet than they really are. I think these do a pretty good job of just that (and taste pretty good too!):

Paula Deen's Chocolate-Cherry Thumbprints

1 (16.5 oz) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 (21 oz) can cherry pie filling
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine cookie dough and flour. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until well combined. (***my note: make sure that it is VERY well combined, otherwise your cookie will be as flat as pancakes). Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Make an indentation in center of each cookie with thumb. Bake for 8 minutes.

Remove cookies from oven, and press down indentations again. Spoon about 1 teaspoon cherry pie filling in center of each cookie, and bake for 3 to 5 minutes more. Cool on pans for 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle with melted chocolate. (***my note: we had to mix a little vegetable oil in with our melted chocolate chips so that they would drizzle)

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Change It Up - Birthday Hair Chop


Here's the best birthday gift to myself: a much-needed chopping of the superfluous 7 inches of hair hanging off my head. Plus a fun dye job.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: The Food

1. how it all began: how you met, first date, first kiss, how long did you date? first picture together.....etc.
2. when you knew he was the one: self explanatory.. but how and when did you know?
3. proposal: how it happened, how long were you engaged for? was it a total surprise? pictures of that... etc.
4. the ring: tell us about it! did you pick it out? did he? pictures! tell us about his ring too!
5. engagement/bridal pictures: let's see em!
6. the colors: show some of the flower and colors you used
7. the dress: was it what you always imagined? did you have it made for you? white or ivory?
8. the little accessories: you know, veil? shoes? jewelry?
9. the reception: where was it at? show us some pictures! what day did you get married?
10. the cake/food: i love food. so tell me about what you had at your wedding!
11. your song and/or the first song you danced to at your wedding: share a music video or lyrics if you can!
12. favorite part of the day and least favorite part of the day: can be anything.
13. honeymoon: where did you go? was it good? ;) haha...jk.
14. thoughts on marriage: what is the easiest/hardest part? if you could change anything, what would it be?
15. first place that you lived together: pics if you have them!
16. kids: do you have any yet? if not, when do you plan on it? how many do you want? any tips on good/bad birth control?
17. most recent picture of you and your significant other and what you love most about them :) and any other thoughts.



We are now to what I knew would be my very favorite Wedding Wednesday: The Food.

Duh.

Being the food junkie that I am (isn't everyone a food junkie at heart though, really?), I was a little overeager about the planning-the-food part of the whole wedding process. Even Matt was excited for that, and he didn't get excited about much else besides the actual being-married part.

One of our favorite appointments we had was with the cake decorator. We ended up going with My Sweet Cakes, a decorator from Syracuse, Utah. The decorator not only allowed us to come and look at the cakes on display in  her lovely home, she also let us sample no fewer than SIX different cake flavors. And lemme tell you, this cake was GOOD. Matt told me afterwards that it by far "took the cake" as far as  his favorite "wedding to-do list" item.

After checking out the My Sweet Cakes website, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted, which was almost exactly what we ended up going for (our cake is actually featured on her website, if you go far enough into the slide show). Check it out here. And I will have you know, that is NOT a ribbon around our cake; that is, in fact, the frosting. Mmm hmm!!


As for the caterer, that was the easiest decision of all. Remember how Matt proposed to me at the Leatherby's in Salt Lake (our favorite place to eat of all time)? Well, we just knew we had to get Leatherby's on board at our wedding if at all possible. And besides, it was just too perfect to pass up: an afternoon May reception? You've just to have a little ice cream. You've GOT to.

All of you who were there to enjoy the sweet perfection that is Leatherby's old-fashioned ice cream, now is the time to thank us :) . Everyone loved it, as far as we knew.

Of course.




 Another fun wedding-planning outing was the trip to go see the guy in charge of the Leatherby's catering. They let us sample ANY flavor we wanted...and multiple times, too! (We may or may not have taken advantage of that fact). Here were the chosen six flavors:

Oh, the exquisite joy.





Even Matt and I got to join in on the fun (we had family members sneak a few cupfuls of our favorite flavors aside for us). The best part? Leatherby's let us take all the leftover ice cream home.

HOW COOL IS THAT?!!

And, of course, I couldn't let this post end without a couple shots of the cake-cutting (which has got to be one of the most awkward things ever, which no one ever tells you):


All photography courtesy of Valor Photography
Have I made you all hungry yet?

Good.

Now you'll have to excuse me while I go raid our freezer for the Breyer's...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Matt's Birthday Weekend


Last Saturday was Matt's birthday, which gave me just the excuse I needed to make this cake: this scrumptious, lick-your-fingers, rich Oreo-filling chocolate cake that I got off of Pinterest.

Matt has been asking me every week to buy him Oreos at the grocery store. And every week I tell him no, because he'll eat the whole thing in 24 hours. So, when he was indecisive about which flavor of birthday cake he wanted, I knew just what to do and just where to go.

This cake is amazing. We're still eating it now, three days later, and I still sigh with pleasure with every forkful. This is good stuff.

For anyone who wants the recipe (trust me, you do!), check it out here.



Since Matt had to work, I still wanted to make the day as special as possible. So I decided to give him a little gift at every mealtime and make sure he ate a really spectacular dinner.

So, in addition to the gifts he already got from me (his very own USU shirt, the latest season of The Big Bang Theory, and, finally, some Oreos), we went to Al's Sporting Goods to use the Groupon we bought a few months ago that gave us $500 off a road bike.

So here she is: Matt's new favorite girl (besides me, of course):


A pretty great day, I'd have to say. Happy 25th Hubby!!

Tell All Tuesday


*You wanna know the best thing ever? To open up your lunch (packed by your husband) to find a heartfelt little love note tucked inside. Matt, you are the sweetest hubby ever :)

*So Matt packs my lunch every morning. And BOY does that man know how to pack a good lunch: he always includes a main dish, a side dish (often yogurt or cheese and crackers), a piece of fruit, and a dessert. Lunchtime is by far the best part of my workday. Plus he's way more thoughtful about things than I would be; like today, he put in two spoons (one for the sloppy joe mixture and one for the yogurt). The man is amazing.

*I loved celebrating Matt's birthday with him this last weekend. But I'll include more details on that when I do a post at home later (when I can upload pictures). I'll just say this: he got a BIG present...(which wasn't really from me, but was still cool).

*After tonight's round of one-on-one peer writing conferences is over, I will be back to a normal schedule for a week and a half. Hooray! No more 50-hour workweek! I just need to keep telling myself: one round down, only three to go....icandoit icandoit icandoit.....

*You wanna know something great and terrible? Getting three dozen cookies given to us in a 24-hour span. So great, but so terrible...

*I am finally getting to the point when I can tolerate drinking water from our new drinking fountain at work. This is an important change, because it means I'll finally be making the gradual shift from tri-weekly Dr. Pepper runs to tri-hourly water runs. Maybe my headaches will finally go away.

*I think I've almost gotten used to having virtually no free time during the week. It's gotten to the point where I've almost convinced myself that I could do this all again. You know it's bad when I start to think, "This isn't so bad. Maybe I will try working and student teaching at the same time..."

*Work has improved significantly since everyone moved into their newly refurbished offices. But guess where they put me, the odd (wo)man out? In the front lobby, in the corner, facing two walls. I'd like to see YOU all try to greet customers while your back is permanently turned on the front door. Ridiculous. And just so you all know. I did, in fact, suggest that I face the other way (you know, like out into the general realm of people-hood), but my request was denied. I guess they didn't want to see my face any more than they had to.

*I am going to be 25 on Thursday. I didn't think I'd ever get older than about 21 (not that I thought I'd die young--I just never thought I'd get old). I'm sure I'll still be saying the same thing when I'm 88 and wrinkly. The only comforting thing about all this is the fact that Matt will always be five days older than me. Mwa ha ha.

*I hope I don't fall asleep at work due to the lack of Dr. Pepper in my system

*I'm totally changing my hair on Thursday. That's the plan anyway. I sure hope I don't hate it because nothing's worse than cutting off all your hair only to want it back seconds later...but it's time to do it. I'm positive. At least, I think so.

*Okay, I guess I'd better do something more productive than tell you all about my adventurous life. Have a good Tuesday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: The Reception

1. how it all began: how you met, first date, first kiss, how long did you date? first picture together.....etc.
2. when you knew he was the one: self explanatory.. but how and when did you know?
3. proposal: how it happened, how long were you engaged for? was it a total surprise? pictures of that... etc.
4. the ring: tell us about it! did you pick it out? did he? pictures! tell us about his ring too!
5. engagement/bridal pictures: let's see em!
6. the colors: show some of the flower and colors you used
7. the dress: was it what you always imagined? did you have it made for you? white or ivory?
8. the little accessories: you know, veil? shoes? jewelry?
9. the reception: where was it at? show us some pictures! what day did you get married?10. the cake/food: i love food. so tell me about what you had at your wedding!
11. your song and/or the first song you danced to at your wedding: share a music video or lyrics if you can!12. favorite part of the day and least favorite part of the day: can be anything.
13. honeymoon: where did you go? was it good? ;) haha...jk.
14. thoughts on marriage: what is the easiest/hardest part? if you could change anything, what would it be?
15. first place that you lived together: pics if you have them!
16. kids: do you have any yet? if not, when do you plan on it? how many do you want? any tips on good/bad birth control?
17. most recent picture of you and your significant other and what you love most about them :) and any other thoughts.

Above photo courtesy of Valor Photography 

Since I haven't yet talked about where we actually got married, I thought I'd share pictures of the temple where we had our actual marriage ceremony (for more information about why temples are important to our religion, click here). Matt and I chose to get married in the Bountiful temple, which holds special significance for us because we both are from Bountiful and we also both went through the Bountiful temple before our respective missions.

We got married on the most springlike day of our whole wedding week: Saturday May 7, 2011. The sun was shining, the smell of spring blossoms filled the air, and we were just as twitterpated and excited as could be. Matt was so anxious when I met up with him and his dad at the temple--I could tell he just wanted to get the whole thing over with already. I guess I was a little anxious too, but not from nerves: I absolutely knew I was about to make the best decision of my life. Our marriage ceremony was special and inspiring, and I felt so loved and blessed to be able to know that I can be with Matt forever.

Here are some more pics taken around the temple (photos courtesy of Chelsee Hanna Photography)




Since I didn't care too much about where we actually held the reception, we just held it at our local church meetinghouse. We hired a decorator to come in and make the gym look not so gym-like, and I was happy with how it turned out. (All photos below taken courtesy of Valor Photography)






We actually did something pretty unusual and held our reception in the afternoon from 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. (right after the wedding luncheon). Smartest. Idea. EVER. It meant that we didn't have any long waiting periods between events and that we were able to just go off and relax after all the hoopla was over with.

Neither of us were too keen on the idea of a line, but I figured we couldn't get away from it, so we ended up just spending the whole hour and a half greeting a nonstop stream of wellwishers (I was so surprised at how many people came out--I felt so loved!!). Since I'm not going to do a post about our wedding song (because we didn't have one), I'll just mention in here that we had Frank Sinatra playing in the background while people milled around, ate, and visited with each other. The entire thing was very relaxed and low-key, which was just how we wanted it to be. I didn't want a super formal reception or anything, which was one reason why we chose not to do a dance-type thing (and because Matt claims he's not much of a dancer).

We got a lot of compliments after the reception, which was gratifying; I was so pleased that everyone had a good time and appreciated how hard the decorator had worked.

That's really all I have to say about that. I will say this though--I am pretty excited to post pictures for next week, because the food was by far my favorite part of the whole ordeal (duh). So stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tell All Tuesday

*Bright spot in my day: getting a reply email from my favorite high school English teacher. I haven't spoken to her in almost 6 years, and she knew just what to say to alleviate my doubts and concerns about student teaching. Thank the world for inspired teachers!

*We made the most delicious chicken and tomato stromboli last night--I still can't believe how delicious it turned out, considering how I just kinda threw it together and made some of my own substitutions on the ingredients. With sides of homemade alfredo sauce and a fresh fruit salad, Matt and I were happy, not-so-starving students last night

*Matt's birthday is this Saturday. Is it weird that I'm more excited for his birthday than for mine??

*Whatever happened to full-length chocolate Charleston Chews? I miss them.

*I was all excited because we finally got our drinking fountain put back in at work after the fire destroyed the last one that I loved so much (seeing as I visited it every 15 minutes). The sad thing? The water tastes NASTY. I can't even stand it. So I'm still on my Dr. Pepper streak, unfortunately. With no end in sight.

*My other job kicks in this week, which means I go from being a full-time student working 32 hours a week to being a full-time student working 45 hours a week. Everyone send encouraging thoughts my way...

*Today I look like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz due to my hair being in twisted-down pigtails.

*I hate talking on the phone. And I'm a secretary. All I've done today at work is call people up on the phone and ask for tax-exempt forms. Is it a sign of my lack of maturity that I have to pump myself up before making every call?

*Speaking of calls, I promised y'all I'd tell you what calling I got. *drumroll please* You are all looking at (or looking at the words of)...the new Relief Society secretary. I'm pretty excited about it, since it's totally something new and I love Relief Society. So I'm pretty happy. Other than the fact that I have no idea how I'll be able to juggle it all...

*Okay, it's Dr. Pepper time. Otherwise I'm going to fall asleep on these bid plans littering my desk...

A War-Time Love Letter

I woke up this morning from a terrible nightmare that left me shaking and crying. Perhaps that is why I teared up immediately as I read this letter from an article for my social studies class.

This letter was written by Major Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah one week before
the Battle at First Manassas (during the Civil War).

… I have, I know, but few and
small claims upon Divine Providence,
but something whispers to
me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer
of my little Edgar—that I shall return
to my loved ones unharmed.
If I do not, my dear Sarah, never
forget how much I love you, and
when my last breath escapes me on
the battlefield, it will whisper your
name.

Forgive my many faults, and
the many pains I have caused you.
How thoughtless and foolish I
have oftentimes been! How gladly
would I wash out with my tears every
little spot upon your happiness,
and struggle with all the misfortune
of this world, to shield you and my
children from harm. But I cannot. I
must watch you from the spirit land
and hover near you, while you buffet
the storms with your precious
little freight, and wait with sad patience
till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can
come back to this earth and flit
unseen around those they loved,
I shall always be near you; in the
garish day and in the darkest night
– amidst your happiest scenes and
gloomiest hours—always, always;
and if there be a soft breeze upon
your cheek, it shall be my breath;
or the cool air fans your throbbing
temple, it shall be my spirit passing
by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead;
think I am gone and wait for thee,
for we shall meet again….


Major Ballou died in the battle a week later.

I just had to put a copy of this somewhere where I knew it would remind me
to always express my love to those who matter most to me.

Let's all show a little love today, shall we?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Photo Walk - Second Dam, Part II

Yesterday was the most gorgeously crisp autumn day, and we were lucky enough to have some time to go out and take a walk together around Second Dam. If you'll remember, the last time we did a photo walk there (check out that post here), the snow was melting and we were excited to be able to shed our jackets and bask in the 45-degree heat.

Fall is undoubtedly better.














Sunday, September 18, 2011

One More Proof


Here is one more piece of evidence that should have been added on to my last CIU Challenge--in this outfit, I am not only wearing skinny jeans (something I totally picked up from style blogs), but I also layered two totally different necklaces to go with this awesome gray shirt I got for only a $1.50. I never would have thought to layer contrasting necklaces before (or even to wear more than one).

I'm so creative.

And for anyone who is wondering, these are the shoes that I ordered for our wedding but that turned out to be a little bit too green to match my colors. You can't blame me for keeping them, right??
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