dinner last night

To follow up on my mention of dinner plans yesterday, I come bearing good news - it was a huge success and a lot easier to pull off than I anticipated. The only snag was a moment of panic over preparing asparagus (a new skill to this amateur cook). I started to fret over confusing directions about bending the asparagus until they snapped at their natural breaking point (which mostly felt like a veggie version of Legally Blonde as I was saying it in my head), then there was a bit of nonsense about peeling them halfway up the stalks. A quick text to my sweet friend Betsy revealed that I am not a total nincompoop and yes, you can just cut the ends off and move on with your life.

First, I started by chopping up 5 or 6 yukon gold potatoes and boiling them in a pot for 15 minutes. Drain and spread them over a baking sheet -- make sure you grease it well because mine ended up sticking horribly later. Sprinkle with kosher salt, olive oil, and herbs de provence (or whatever else you have on hand - parsley, thyme, etc) then bake on 400 for 45-50 minutes till they're crispy. 

Once the potatoes are in, I made 4 over easy eggs in a frying pan and set them aside for a reheat later. AKA cheating a bit so all the food finishes at the same time. At this point, I made the hollandaise using a hand mixer to blend 2 egg yolks, 1.5 tbs fresh lemon juice, a dash of texas pete hot sauce, and 1/4 tsp of salt together. Melt 6 tbsp of unsalted butter in the egg frying pan then drizzle that into the egg mixture as you continue to mix it. According to the recipe footnote, you are supposed to use hollandaise immediately, but if you make it within an hour in advance, just re-mix it with 1 tbsp of very hot water right before serving.

Then, rinse and cut however much asparagus you care to eat, lay them flat on one half of a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt & pepper (no peppa' in our apt though - anaphylaxis is such a bummer). Roast them in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Pull the pan out and lay 3-4 slices of prosciutto on the other side of the sheet, return to the oven and roast another 5-8 minutes, but no longer because (according to Betsy), they'll get real floppy, real fast.

Once it all comes together in a glorious food symphony, arrange the asparagus on a plate, place a piece of prosciutto on top, crown it with an egg, then drizzle with hollandaise. Serve hot (microwave the whole shebang for 10-15 if needed). Then prepare to amaze and delight your guests, or husband if you went through all that trouble just for a Thursday night dinner. 

These three recipes are adapted from this Barefoot Contessa cookbook according to what I have in the cupboard.


food & furniture (part deux)

Other than all my new kitchen "funtivities", I have two pretty exciting furniture projects on the docket. The first actually began before the wedding with the purchase of two vintage nightstands. Bought separately, my intention was to find two different styles that I could refinish into a funky matching set.
I saw and immediately fell in love with the shape of the yellow one for my side of the bed – it had just come off the truck and I snagged it for $25! For Strider's side, I knew I wanted something simple and masculine, but that would also be relatively close to the dimensions of mine. After a few weeks of searching, I found this blue beauty with a coral rooster painted on top. Hideous now, but I've got great plans for it!

At first, I was set on going with an antiqued white for both pieces to compliment our light blue-aqua bedspread. However, now that I'm looking at colors, I'm thinking it might be fun and bold to do a dark, slate blue. But with that clash with our cherry wood furniture? Thoughts?

The second, and even more exciting project is actually my wedding gift from Strider!! For several years, I've been using a slightly broken but free student desk for sewing and crafts. It's nice enough as a desk, but a bit dysfunctional and crowded for crafting.
Strider moved in with some friends over the summer and I nearly fainted over an antique green beauty his housemate owned. Seriously. I mooned over this desk for 6+ months, trying in vain to find something similar that I could afford. It was just perfection in every possible way. I even attempted a desk-swap with the owner, who wasn't really interested. I gave up and cried a little on the inside knowing I would never be able to love that gorgeous green desk the way I felt it deserved.

Then, lo and behold! At the hotel on our wedding night, Strider informs me that he has a wedding present for me, but that I can't have it till we got home. HE GOT ME THE DESK! I mean, the exact desk from his old room. Let's be clear - I freaked out. Long story short, the guys brought it over this week and boy, is that baby gorgeous! And look at how my two bins of fabric fit all snug right on either side. Gahhhh - I'm in love!
Now...to the paint. The fixtures are gorgeous, but I'd like to do something different with the color. I kind of dig the green, but I think I might take it darker and toned down a bit. Either way, isn't it a dream? Does my new husband know me so well or what - a desk and a refinishing project all in one. For me...the best wedding present a girl could ask for!

Dinner tonight? Grilled asparagus with prosciutto, poached eggs and hollandaise, with a side of baked new potatoes. Yum!


life looking forward

It struck me today that my life is in a constant state of future-focus. I admit it – I'm the kind of person who's always thinking about the next task or upcoming project. That fact alone was one of the reasons that I started this blog...to help me slow down, reflect, and appreciate what is happening right now. And it worked...ish, but I'm giving myself a little slack because it's awfully hard to be now-focused when you're planning a wedding. Even still, I feel like I've done better about being anxious about the future.

However... I've been thinking about it today – about all the things in my life that are "just until..." and truthfully, it was getting me a bit down:
- our loud, frustrating apartment: cheap rent so we can pay off debt and build our savings early on
- our jobs: not long-term careers, just something for now (pending Strider figuring out his path and my SAHM hopes)
- still living in my hometown: temporary, just to be close to my family and to save money

Though we're as happy as two peas (in a very old, creaky pod with an upstairs neighbor that I swear has taken a monastic vow to wear only wooden clogs), those three are our biggest pressure points. It's hard not to be frustrated by the present when you have such big, hopeful dreams of the future. Then it struck me...
...as Christians, we are called to be a bit disappointed by the present.

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at
the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Colossians 3:1-2

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future
." Jeremiah 29:11

Talk about a future worth focusing on! Not to say that we shouldn't be aware of our present time here on earth – that would keep us from fulfilling our purpose – but it does give us hope beyond the day-to-day frustrations of our "just untils". God created us to make plans and to dream of the future – the future He has planned for us. An incredible future so much bigger than we can imagine.

So, I decided that I'm not going to get myself down for budgeting and excitedly planning for the next season, instead I'll trust God that there will be different seasons to our life and beyond that, another future that I can hardly comprehend. Plus, if I'm an A-type organizer that rejoices in thinking of and planning for the future, He's the one who created me that way after all!


food & furniture (part 1)

First, a quick recap on the past couple weeks: Strider and I are totally loving married life and basically spend all our time working, watching movies, and being silly at home. Weekly meal planning is going well and I'm happy to report that we've only resorted to frozen pizza once since the wedding (due to unexpectedly working late). I mean, look at this guy – does he seems well-fed and happy or what? The tasty dish (other than my hubby, that is): pesto pasta with shrimp and sautéed mushrooms. Super easy and super YUM!

We also hosted our first dinner party as a married couple with some friends from Starbucks. I got super fancy with the menu: cesar salad, garlic french bread, sautéed mushrooms, and Julia Child's lobster quiche. For dessert...vanilla bean panna cotta with lemon curd and fresh blackberries – all homemade. Holla!

Per my inner Martha, I set our card table up with a linen tablecloth, real napkins, and yes, even my new wedding-gift napkin rings. So snazzy! A vintage blue mason jar of fresh daisies added the perfect touch to distract our guests from the fact that we were eating at a card table in the living room (thank you, tiny sometimes-frustrating apartment), or at least I hope so. And yes, I was just dumb enough to forget to take a picture of the beautiful spread. Ugg. 

To make up for my lack of responsible blogger-photo-taking, here's another quick, healthy dinner idea.
Check out this slightly adapted WW Greek Beef & Mushroom Pizza

1 (10 oz) pre-baked wheat pizza crust
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 tsp cinnamon
parsley/thyme/oregano/salt/pepper to taste
4 oz mushrooms, chopped
shredded mozzarella & parmesan

- Preheat oven to 400F
- In a frying pan, cook the onion in the olive oil till tender (about 3 min)
- Add beef and cook till browned through
- Stir in tomato and assorted seasonings
- Spread the mixture over the crust, add mushrooms and cheese
- Bake about 15 minutes or until crust is slightly crisp

Also...very exciting news on the furniture front with some refinishing projects on the horizon. Pictures to come and opinions will be needed. Hint - Strider gave me absolutely the world's best wedding present!!!

For now, I'm heading home to wash dishes and snuggle up with another cookbook and a pad of sticky notes.

Note: There's a reason an entire job category exists for food stylists...but I am not one. Food photos on ASftB are straight from my tiny, badly lit kitchen. Apologies if they aren't great, but I promise the recipes are tasty!


massive catastrophe

Just as my Sunday was going so well...a truly massive blog-tastrophe has hit. 
Due to my own apparently misunderstanding of how site servers work, I have permanently lost all the photos ever uploaded to this site. That's right, for-ev-er. Thank you so very much Google.

That being said, I will continue to post but if you're looking back at old posts, it may take me a few weeks to try to replace as much as I can, so please bear with me.

In case you were wondering...yes, I did cry.


marriage secret #1

First...after my embarrassing Walmart meltdown, I'm proud to announce that I have successfully fed our family of two for the 2nd week in a row! (insert obligatory Ron-Burgundy-I'm-kind-of-a-big-deal reference) Recipes to come.

Second...during our engagement, Strider and I got A LOT of advice and opinions from people. Family, friends, church people, Starbucks customers (where I work, btw), children, store attendants, and one random guy at Office Depot. As I'm sure other newlyweds can attest, it seems like everyone has something to say about your personal decision to marry another human being. Lots of people were very happy for us and encouraging, but lots of other people felt a strange need to question our decision-making skills. And a whole other heap of people found it humorous to tease us about our impending loss of freedom and to project their own misery onto us...but always just as a joke, right? Sure.

We talked about this strange phenomenon and decided that really all we can do is vow to do is take a different approach when we encounter young soon-to-be newlyweds. And for the most part, we ignored all the rubbish bits and just appreciated genuine encouragement. However, in the last two weeks, I've come to realize one truth that I sure wish just one person would have pointed out over the last eight or nine months. Ready for it?

...................................................................marriage is totally and surprisingly...........FUN!!

That's right...fun! I mean, we got a lot of advice about how wonderful it is to have a partner, that marriage is hard but worth it, that love can overcome annoyances, etc. etc. But not once did anyone say that it can be just flat out fun!

Let me clarify...Tuesday, I worked the opening shift at 4 am then dropped off a caramel latte to Strider at work before heading home to grab a Fig Newton for lunch, change clothes, and head back out to my other job for the afternoon. By the time I got home at after 5 and started dinner, I was wiped. So there I am, standing in our tiny kitchen pulling some lemon-thyme tilapia out of the oven when Strider comes home. We ate and caught up, then excitedly merged and re-alphabetized our DVD collections into our new case (a major thrill for us!), then had milkshakes and popcorn in bed while watching A Bug's Life...because according to Strider, "We married...who's going to stop us?" Before bed, I looked at him and commented that I can't believe it was just a boring old Tuesday night. I mean, when did marriage start making Tuesdays cool?!

I fully recognize that marriage will not always be fun, life sure isn't, and I do know that when things get busy, milkshakes and Disney will be a rare treat. The point isn't that things will always look like this, it's that I wish some person out there should have clued us in on the secret that even the boring Tuesday nights have the potential to be awesome when you're married to your best friend. Well, as awesome as a Tuesday can be, anyways.

Spill the beans...what are your favorite ways to make married weeknights a blast?


new name, new hair

After 4+ years of growing my hair out...I'm free! 

I always knew I wanted my hair to be long for my wedding and Strider loved when I wore it down, so I've been fighting the urge to slice & dice it for what seems like forever.

Like most women, I go through the never-ending cycle of grow it out...bored...chop it off...oh wait, that was a mistake...grow it out...repeat. However, for this special, long-awaited and much-anticipated haircut, I knew I wanted it to be worthwhile. That's when a hairstylist friend told me about Pantene Beautiful Lengths!
Pantene has partnered with the American Cancer Society to create beautiful, real-hair wigs for women with cancer. The minimum requirement is an untreated ponytail of 8" or more and donating could not be easier. If you're interested, check out the donation page here.

Normally, I freak out after a big haircut, but looking in the mirror today, I told Strider that it feels different to know that my hair will go towards making someone else feel beautiful, instead of just a stylist's trashcan. Holding 11.5" inches of your own hair in your hands is really bizarre, but I'm super happy with it. Thankfully, the Mr. likes it too!