Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Milestones: Gilly's First Walk

I have been begging J. to get a harness/leash for our kitty for mooooonths. On every day that I am off of work and it is sunny out, I dream about taking Gilly to the park, having a picnic, and going for long walks. My husband thinks I am crazy, but I am one lucky gal and as much as I am nuts, he is nuts for me.

So, after him coming home from work today, waking me from my slumber (hey, I worked night shift) with a boastful, "Let's go for a walk!" I thought he was just a bit crazy, too. I was sleeeeeping. As I cracked my right eye open, he flopped a bright blue harness and leash on me, and faster than you can say "cat picnic" I was out of bed throwing on walk-appropriate clothing.

Our little girl being very cautious as she ventures outside

Before going on a full-scale walk, we thought we'd head into the backyard first (she loves playing out here for hours during her almost-daily "exploring time")

She kinda sat there...

...and sat there

So we carried her down the driveway to see what she would do.

Gilly with Daddy (:

After a few minutes of a "walk" (i.e. us practically dragging her), she found a spot to sit.

And continue sitting.

Feeling inspired, I ran inside to get her octopus - the carrot on the horse's head theory, right?

But instead of running to catch it, she laid on the ground and played with octopus.

My dreams of outdoor cat-filled afternoons aren't completely ruined. Tonight a friend told us similar stories about her cat when she initially tried walking him, but now he loves going on long walks! Stay tuned.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Multitude Mondays, Week XXXVII

401. small worlds
402. lazy Gilly
403. new plants!
404. sunny days
405. night out with friends
406. my husband in a navy suit
407. "spring break"!
408. plans for San Diego!
409. hyperactive Gilly
410. allllmost beating JP in racquetball. almost.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Food: Crispy Gnocchi Pesto with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Last week, I made this recipe for dinner. I found several variations of it but decided to go with this one because I had all of the ingredients aside from the tomatoes and gnocchi. Confession -- neither of us had ever tasted gnocchi prior to making this dish. Apparently boiling and covering with sauce is the normal delivery of this Italian food. This version, which is basically frying the gnocchi, sounded different and more fun. I used the last of our jarred pesto that had been taking space in our fridge for months (mooooonths), but would consider (and probably prefer) making my own pesto for the next time.

Crisping the gnocchi in EVOO. We used pre-made gnocchi (sweet potato whole wheat). Do you know where to find it in your grocery store? Publix keeps it in the pasta section, which makes complete sense, even though I was searching for it in frozen food and bakery (oops). But now you know!

Halved grape tomatoes (not a pantry staple - more on that later)

Simmering and crisping more

Add ze pesto!

Not pictured: goat cheese. (:



The creamy goat cheese was perfect for the crispy gnocchi shell that had a smooth center. The pesto almost overpowered the dish, so I was happy to have a light spinach salad (with feta, dried cranberries, and walnuts) to give my palate a rest. This dish is extremely rich and you could easily cut down on portion size. With some small modifications, I would say it's a keeper!

A question posed tonight by our Tuesday Night Group: what is your go-to dish?

House Update: Dining Room (Buffet Hutch)

Storage and space has definitely been an issue in our kitchen, and when we moved in I started brainstorming what we could do about some of the problems that we didn't have in our rental. A few months ago, J. put up this pot rack which significantly helped the flow of our kitchen. A little over a month ago, World Market was having a 50% off furniture sale. I had been eying a buffet for a long time but couldn't feel comfortable with the expense. Well, we went ahead and took the leap when it was 50% off and I had a $20 off coupon. J. put it together a week ago or so, and with my mom's help, we found a place for it in our dining room. Since we were hosting our Tuesday Night Group this evening, I made it a priority to finally stack some of our dishes on it.

Did you know these dishes were the ones we used for our wedding? A good friend's mom collected them from local thrift stores. It was actually cheaper buying them than renting them! After our wedding, we took them all home, decided which ones to keep, gave some to a friend, and donated the rest. I love the ones we kept so much, not only because they have the memory of our wedding, but also because they are mismatched and fun.

Gilly had to explore her new climbing pedestal. (We're bad parents. I swear I disciplined her after this photo was taken...)

The curtain pictured is also from World Market and was not a part of our original dining room update post. I would link both products but they are no longer available via their online site (you can probably still buy both in stores while supplies last).

Do you have a hutch? How do you organize and style it?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Weekly Yums | 20-26 February 2012

Moe's Monday

Tuesday Night Group (hosted by us!), serving...Black Bean Burgers (whole wheat toasted buns, with guacamole, feta & spinach), Grilled Asparagus, and Parmesan Roasted Potatoes with Herb Vinaigrette; Baked Pears for dessert

Spinach Wraps, Warm Goat Cheese Salad, and Fruit

Loaded Baked Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, and Salad

Date Night @ Hennessy's (using Groupon)

Pasta & Salad

Breakfast for Dinner (TBD)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Multitude Mondays, Week XXXVI

391. family time & full house
392. my brother being back with us!
393. meeting deadlines
394. fellowship with friends
395. finished project
396. plans for summer travel
397. supportive coworkers
398. sunny day after never-ending rain!
399. movie night with my husband
400. sleeping in

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Travel: Ski Weekend 2012

Last year we planned our first (will it become annual?) ski trip to Sugar Mountain in North Carolina. I feel very blessed that we live less than four hours away from an east-coast ski destination, and even more blessed that we have friends interested in going away for a weekend with us. In 2011, we had over twenty people make the trip (my friends from Florida even flew up!). We all stayed in a large cabin about twenty minutes away from the mountain. This was the first time skiing for me, so every aspect of the trip was new. This year, we had a smaller gathering of people (still a few flew from Florida!), which lent to a more intimate setting... and boys versus girls game playing. Our lodging was also closer (right off of the bunny slopes!) and the weather was much different. It actually snowed the Saturday we were skiing, and was so frigidly cold on Sunday that many of us decided to not ski. Because it was my second time skiing, I was a lot "better" (using this term loosely) than the first (and just generally felt more comfortable). I have a lot to learn, though, because most of my runs felt very out of control despite me making it safely to the bottom. I remember one run down the mountain I was praying the entire time! J., of course, is a professional and snowboarded his heart out all of Saturday and Sunday. Anyway. We had a terrific time, and I had lots of moments where I would step back and think, this is the stuff we remember when we're 80.

Between my photos and our friend, E.'s, there are a few to share. Enjoy!

Everyone hurriedly getting ready after eating spinach-cheese bake casserole and fruit for breakfast

Part of the group before heading out to the slopes on Saturday!

Not only was it snowing, but they also had the snow blowers on! This made for a very frosty day.

Getting warmed up on the Magic Carpet

E. being a good friend and accompanying me on my Magic Carpet Ride

After my first successful run down a green without running into any fences! (That story is for another time.)

After lunch, I went on a little adventure of my own -- down the mountain to Food Lion!

I was surprised by S. and N. when I got back to our condominium!

Ze little snow bunnies

Meanwhile, my husband was back on the slopes!

R., J., and E.!

Apparently this rock was covered by snow and R. took a dive. (I don't know what really happened.)

That evening we warmed ourselves around the fire...

and then played Cranium!

We all went to bed early that night

The next morning it was very cold

J. dreaming about the slopes

S. curling up on the couch for a planned morning inside

M. and E., new best buddies

The boys ready to make dreams come true!

Buddies said Goodbye

And after a lazy, relaxing morning inside our warm home, we finally met the boys at the ski lodge to make them lunch.

Then we said bye to Florida friends...but not for long, because S. and N. are moving to Wilmington! (:

What a great weekend.

Weekly Yums | 13-19 February 2012

Moe's Monday

Leftover Lasagna

Tuesday Night Group (on a Wednesday!)

Crispy Gnocchi Pesto with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese with Salad

T.G.I.F. Bring Your Own Toppings Pizza Party at N.'s
We think we're bringing feta cheese, spinach & garlic

Spinach & Cheese Quesadillas (made with pepper-jack jalapeno wraps) with Black Bean & Corn Tortilla Salad

Zucchini & Goat Cheese Pizza with Salad

This week my brother is moving back in with us, so it will be interesting to see how (or if) our grocery shopping will be influenced by his presence. And, yes, I love pizza this much.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day: The Archives

This day had been fast approaching for weeks now. On Superbowl Sunday our Bible Study Group decided that the holiday was too important and our normal Tuesday gathering should be a moved to a different day so those couples could celebrate. All I could think was Really?!

I don't know why (or when) I have become this sort-of holiday grump. Having similar feelings this past Christmas, I guess I am just "over" holidays right now. Lately I have become more aware of what values I have placed on worldly things and how that stuff doesn't really matter and what matters is love and relationships and how I decide to honor a God that saves me every day of my life.

Not to say the feeling behind holidays like Christmas and Valentine's Day aren't important, because they are. I just all of a sudden get kind of sick to my stomach thinking about the money people spend on such events and then the vain need to tell everyone (on Facebook) what their loved one did for them this year.

This year we had plans of maybe using a Groupon that we purchased a while ago for a local restaurant (which is where we actually spent V-Day at last year). As it turned out, my patients were to be my Valentine for a short four hour work day, so we nixed the idea of dinner (maybe next week instead?) and invited friends over for a game night. Is it strange that we are comfortable spending a "Lover's Holiday" with people other than just one another? I don't think so. I think it's the best way to spend the day! So, tonight we played a game of dominoes, snacked on grapes and peanut-buttery chocolatey cookies, and laughed until our heads fell off (Radiohead reference; yes, honey, that is my V-Day gift to you).

After everyone left, we were lounging in the living room when I looked up at our fireplace mantle and saw a book between the candle and the clock. All of a sudden I remembered: I used to care about this holiday very much.

Years ago I spent hours upon hours writing (what my friends would later call it) "cryptic" notes on a typewriter to be sent in the mail from an "Anonymous" person. The year before I think I cut out small paper hearts and wrote nice things and mailed them along in hopes that my friends would know how much I care for them. And while I was living in Tampa, I woke up one morning to make a special breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, strawberries, and OJ (all of this accomplished while I was still in my hippie phase, long before my current domesticity phase) along with hand-written cards and long stem roses for my favorite boys. In essence, a lot of time was spent on a holiday that I now swear up and down I don't care for.

The book on the mantle? Something I created for J., my then best friend. That year after I made the book, I took photographs of it and sent an e-mail to my closest friends (the USF duo and A., K. & M.) for opinions. Tonight we leafed through the book together, and well, it was sort-of fun! February 2008 marked the beginning of my new cleansed self -- it was the year that I asked Christ to be my Savior. I have never looked back, but it is interesting to take a look back. (:

A lot of the writings in this book I made for J. are Tagore poems (read him if you haven't!), scripture, personal anecdotes, poems and snippets of short stories that I loved. I had mailed J. a copy of Fahrenheit 451 (another favorite writer of mine) with a small key stuck inside it weeks before Valentine's Day. It was, of course, the key to my heart, ahhhh-dun-dun. Other than writings, there are earlier sketches my be, Polaroids, and photograph collages. I also left clues throughout the book for a special gift for J. to find, kind of like a scavenger hunt. (It was a bonsai tree that is now dead, which shouldn't be any reflection of our relationship but maybe a foreshadowing of my feelings toward this day? Ha.) (Is it any more obvious how completely in love I was with him already? Jeez.)

It took me a while to find the photos of said book, but I thought it would be fun to upload and share with you all, as a tribute to my former self -- and maybe to rekindle some of that extra joy I had in this holiday.

And just for good measure, my old roommate and good friend, M., on Valentine's Day in 2006:

See the stack of pancakes behind him? (:

How do you feel about this holiday? Did you celebrate?