Sunday, January 30, 2011

Happy February!

We are now bidding a fond farewell to January, and heading into the month of LOVE! It feels like we are quickly getting into the year 2011. The months are going by faster and faster! In honor of Valentine's Day, I gave myself a budget of $20.00 to find some cute things to decorate our apartment and make it more festive. I'm trying to invest in a few nicer things that I can keep for years ahead, rather than lots of cheap things that may fall apart.
 As always, I have changed my candle-holder fillers. This time, its conversation hearts! I look forward to changing them every time!
 Got these at Thai Pan. They were having a sale: 25% off Valentine's decorations.
 Thai Pan again.
 A birthday present from my wonderful friend Danielle.
 Thai Pan. On the three things at Thai pan I spent about $15 total! I was pleased with my purchase, and all three things were ones I will keep for years to come. :o)
 Another fun thing that happened recently was our chance to be at the BYU vs. San Diego State game. It was a really exciting game as most of you know, and I don't know if anyone was more excited than Jer. He's been re-playing the highlights ever since!
Here he is, so excited to be at the game. The energy from the crowd was amazing! And of course, Jimmer was pretty good too. ;o)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Most Wonderful Day!

Yesterday was my 23rd birthday and it was such a great day! The one disappointment I had was that I made a secret birthday wish that I would find a parking spot at school (this subject I could go on forever about, but that will be saved for another post) and after searching for 25 minutes that didn't happen. I had to park illegally, BUT I didn't get a ticket! Happy day. Some of you may have read that I had a birthday party this past weekend. So my actual birthday was going to be more low key. The night before, Katie and Daniel brought me a yummy cake from Magelbys.
 I'm a little done up in this shot because we performed at half time for the BYU basketball game that night. And yes, the cake is gone already. :o)
 Opening presents!
 Jer got me some awesome boots!
 Me and sissy! She got me a really cute shirt from Urban Outfitters.
 Jer and I were going to go to Texas Roadhouse just the two of us for my birthday but what do I find when we are led to our table? yes! All of our wonderful friends there to surprise me. Jer had started planning this even before I had the idea of doing a fondue party. He's so sweet. It was so fun! This is table #1
 Table #2. If you can see in the front of the picture are my dozen roses that Jer gave me, pink and green and gorgeous! Oh and by the way, go to Texas Roadhouse and order the shrimp! Best shrimp I've ever had, seriously!
 He's the best!
 One of the sweetest parts of the night was that Jer and Courtney plotted for Court to make me my favorite special birthday cake that my mom would always make me every year. I was truly touched, I have SUCH great friends. Court and Eric hosted all of our friends after dinner for cake and ice cream.
Us being silly. The six of us are the best of friends. Jer and I consider ourselves so lucky to have found these friends and to live so close. We all live in the same cul-de-sac and can often be found playing games and watching movies and T.V. shows together on various nights of the week.
video
This is a video of me riding the saddle at Texas Roadhouse for my birthday, I tried to make myself look like a rodeo queen with my flowers.

When we got home from our wonderful evening I felt so overwhelmingly grateful and undeserving of the husband, family and friends I have been blessed with. I always have mixed feelings the day after my birthday, it was such an amazing day yet I'm really sad its over.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Let Me Tell You a Little Secret

Lately, I've been using one of my favorite cookbooks quite a bit, and frankly, I'm not sure why I go so long not using it. Presenting:
 "200 tested recipes to save time and money. Made with 58 easy do-it-yourself mixes. Low cost and better nutrition. Enjoy delicious breads, breakfasts, main dishes, appetizers and super desserts. Great for gifts and camping, too!"

This is one of the best-kept secrets I know. It is a pretty old and out-dated cookbook as far as photos and aesthetic quality go, but let me tell you, as a busy college student it is my best friend. It was published in 1978, I'm pretty sure my Grandmother used it a lot in her years of cooking for her family. I got this as a gift from my mom for my birthday a few years ago and have loved it ever since. It has converted me to the make-ahead way of life because it makes dinner so much easier during the week. A family favorite from this book is Shepherd's Pie. Its to die for. You should try it out. I have found them on Amazon and probably ebay too.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Tale of the 4 Shirts

Once upon a time a girl named Christina was having a fondue party for her birthday. She was really excited for the party and had been working all day preparing for it. Right before it was time for her guests to arrive she changed into her new silk Banana Republic shirt because this was a special occasion. She went to the kitchen to finish the preparations and even put on an apron to make sure she kept her nice clothes clean. Much to her dismay, she found that her chocolate fountain had broken just minutes before the party was to start. She and Jeremy rolled up their sleeves and took apart the chocolate covered contraption in order to transfer the chocolate into a crock pot. In the process, somehow chocolate had dripped under her apron and right onto her brand new silk shirt. She decided she wouldn't let this ruin her evening and replaced the shirt with another similar shirt so she wouldn't have to re-accessorize. As she was enjoying her chocolate fondue just minutes later with her friends, she dripped an even BIGGER glob of chocolate all down the front of her second cute chiffon shirt. She let out a cry of dismay and ran to her room to change yet again. Not wanting to disturb her accessories she put on ANOTHER light pink top, this time a very cute ruffly cardigan from Ann Taylor (a gift from her mom and something she wears only on special occasions) with a white shirt underneath. The rest of the night was pretty fun, she played games with her friends and enjoyed a happy birthday song with a mini brownie. After the evening was over, friends had gone home, and clean-up was done, a very exhausted Christina went to brush her teeth. As she glanced in the mirror what did she see, you ask? Yes, ANOTHER huge glob of chocolate that covered not only the cute pink cardigan but a large portion of her white shirt she was wearing underneath. Trying very hard to see the humor in this situation and not get completely FURIOUS about the fact that four of her shirts were quite possibly ruined, she removed the first two soiled shirts from a mixing bowl of water and Woolite, checked the tags and realized they were dry-clean only (great), sprayed spot shot on the other two, flung them over the shower to hang dry, took a picture of the ridiculous scene and promptly pouted her way to bed.

The End

If you're curious about how the party went, here are some pictures :o)
 Bryan cutting the bread for the cheese fondue.
 The spread, chocolate and cheese fondue with all the trimmings thanks to all my wonderful friends for bringing contributions!
 Jer really captured some special moments.
 Me with the hubby.
 Besties.
 My birthday cake and candle.



The truth is, the party was really fun and I'm so grateful for all the wonderful and supportive friends that Jer and I have. Despite all the shenanigans with my silly shirts, I had an  awesome birthday party with so many fun friends to enjoy it with.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The LONGEST Post EVER!

To see an update on Christmas at the Houston home, visit my sister's blog at www.mshouston.blogspot.com! In the meantime, here are two wonderful recipes I tried this week that Jer and I absolutely love. On Wednesday we had our good friends Sally and Bryan over for dinner. My mom got me this awesome Crock Pot cookbook. Jer loves french dip sandwiches so I thought I'd try Crock Pot's version. (My Crock Pot is my best friend (besides Jer :o)) seriously, so easy.)
Hot Beef Sandwiches Au Jus

Ingredients
    4 pounds beef rump roast 2 envelopes (1 ounce each) dried onion soup mix 2 teaspoons sugar 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 tablespoon minced garlic 2 cans (101/2 ounces each) beef broth 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer  (I just used extra broth and eliminated the beer altogether) Crusty French rolls
Directions
  1. Trim excess fat from beef and discard. Place beef in CROCK-POT® slow cooker.
  2. Combine soup mix, sugar, oregano, garlic, broth and beer in large mixing bowl. Pour mixture over beef. Cover; cook on HIGH 6 to 8 hours or until beef is fork-tender.
  3. Remove beef from CROCK-POT® slow cooker. Shred beef with two forks. Return beef to cooking liquid; mix well. Serve on crusty rolls with extra au jus on the side.
Makes 8 to 10 servings

The next recipe we tried was a super easy but delicious Chicken Parmesan. We were just trying to think up some ideas for what to have for dinner and Jer suggested it and I remembered one I had seen in one of my Cooking Light magazines a few months ago. (I got a subscription to Cooking Light for Christmas, SO EXCITED! :o))

This is a picture of our actual meal. :o)

Ingredients


  • 4 boneless chicken Breast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¾ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 jar of Ragu’ pasta sauce (10 oz.)
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
How to Make It:

Preheat oven to 400 deg.
Dip the chicken into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs.
Place the chicken into an ungreased glass baking dish.
Bake uncovered at 400 deg. for 20 minutes.
Pour pasta sauce over the chicken.
Top the chicken and sauce with ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
 (Just a note from me, obviously you don't need to use Ragu, you can use any kind of sauce you please, and also, I added some fresh Parmesan cheese to my bread crumbs which made it even more delicious.)

And in other news, much belated- I have some pictures from Chelsey's beautiful wedding day. I didn't get to take any pictures at the reception but it was very beautiful. You can also see pictures of the reception on my sister's blog mentioned above. Anyway, it was so cool for Jer and I to be able to drive down for the wedding and be there in the sealing room. They got married in the same room that we did. Chelsey and I are the best of friends and have always dreamed of going to each other's weddings, it was a very special experience.
 Jer and I after the sealing. We just had to have yet another picture outside our temple. As if the ones we took 6 months ago weren't enough ;o).
 Anna and I waiting for the happy couple to come out of the temple.
 What a stunning couple! They both looked amazing and so happy.
Best friends.

OK this is the last part of this enormous post, I promise! One thing that my friends from high school and I do each year is have a Christmas party. We started this in Junior High and this was our 9th year running! Crazy! We draw names and get a gift for one of our friends. Most years we have the party at one of our houses and dress up and make a fancy potluck dinner. This year since we are all so busy with traveling, etc. we did a breakfast at the Boathouse where Kate works.
 Kate opening her gift from Tanna who couldn't be with us because she moved to Hawaii. We missed you Tanna!
 Oh Andi, I love you.
 Sophie and Kate, the angels.
 Me with my gift from Andi. She got me some really cute clothes for work since I have to dress up to teach ballroom at BYU.




 Jaime opening her gift.
I gave Sophie her gift, a little bit of sentiment, a little bit of practicality. :o) Love you girls!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas with the Bartons!

This year was my first Christmas away from my family. We decided to try and line up our Christmases so that my whole family could all be together next year since Joe, Shana, and Ella plan to be with the Houstons next Christmas. Needless to say, I had a bit of a hard time at first and a little on Christmas Eve as I was not with my parents and sisters participating in our traditional Christmas season activities. HOWEVER, we had a very busy and very FUN Christmas with Jer's family. I am so glad and grateful that I have in-laws that I love and feel very comfortable with. They made me feel right at home for Christmas with them. Before heading to Kaysville we went to the Houston family Christmas party which was so fun because usually Katie and I have already headed to CA for the holidays by the time our extended family gets together.
 These two cuties were our hosts. Grandma Marva and Papa Don.
 Us eating yummy dinner.
 The whole gang opening presents.
 Before we had CHristmas with Jer's family, we had our own little first Christmas together. :o)
 The first night we were in Kaysville, we went to the Woodland family Christmas party which was very fun. The next day, the girls got together and learned how to make chocolates from the master: Nanny! We had so much fun, ate too much chocolate and learned a lot!
 Dipping chocolates. :o)
 The next night we went to the Pendleton family Christmas party which, sadly I don't have pictures of but it was so much fun, I love every single one of Jer's families and the members in them! The picture above is from the Barton family party on Christmas Eve. This is most of the family, minus Dianna and Katie.
 Cute Grandpa Barton reading the Christmas story.
 Christmas morning. Wow, good morning Christina!
 I got Cam in the drawing for CHristmas Gifts this year.
 Us with Mama B.
 Becca got me for the drawing. She got me the cutest purse and scarf, everyone is jealous of me. :o)
 The family at the temple on Christmas day.
Another post to come about Chelsey and Christian Evans' wedding and our Christmas and New Years Celebrations in CA!