Monday, January 31, 2011

It's a Love Story: Chapter 6

A few weeks passed with us still doing dates on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  We signed up for a Argentine Tango Dance Lessons that we started in Mid-September.  They were on Wednesday nights and we had a lot of fun with them.  On our one month anniversary RS made me a special CD with songs he'd downloaded that fit our relationship.  One of the first songs was "What a beautiful day" by Chris Cagle.  It goes like "Counting my blessings and knowing.  Oh we had our ups and downs all along the way.  She had a chance to leave but chose to stay.  What a beautiful day."  Love that song....

Then the last song on that CD was the one we danced our first dance to at our it really was perfect.  It was "In your dreams" by Josh Turner.  Another great song! :)  I had that CD in my Explorer forever.  Well, literally because it got stuck in the in dash CD player.  But also, I just loved it so much I memorized every lyric!  I love/d it! : )

On Saturday September 8th, 2007, RS took me up to Box Prairie.  He made a campfire and we cooked dinner over it.  Then we watched the sunset, and roasted marshmallows for s’mores.  It was a clear night and so pretty with the campfire.  Once it was dark, we loaded the car up and RS took me home.

He walked me to the door, and for some reason he walked me inside.  My mom was waiting up for me, which wasn’t completely out of the ordinary, but that night she had this look on her face.  I don’t know how I knew, but I knew just what it was.  I asked her if it was what I thought it was, and it was.  Her father had passed away, and she didn’t want to ruin my evening by calling me.  So she just waited until I got home to tell me.

My Mom and I embraced and cried.  And then RS embraced me as well.  It was the first time he had ever seen me cry.  My sweet grandpa had just passed away.  My sweet grandpa who used to take my family out to Village Inn for Funny Faces whenever he came to visit.  My grandpa who was only about 5’8” but was the strongest man I knew.  My grandpa who was a Veterinarian for over 50 years.  My grandpa who never got to meet this incredible man I had just started dating.

You know, it was all so bittersweet though.  Because of course I was sad that I’d never get to see him and talk to him again.  But I also knew he was out of his pain.  It still hit me, and my whole family hard though.  My sisters and I had been really fortunate to be able to grow up with all four of our grandparents around.  We got to spend holidays and birthdays will a lot of family, and I guess I never really appreciated it until part of it was gone.

My grandfather’s funeral was planned for the following Friday, and my sister who was living in KY flew out with her little daughter for it.  Over that week between his death and the funeral, I got to spend a lot of time with my sisters, parents and aunts/uncles/cousins.  (And also some time with RS of course.)

The funeral itself, although for such a sad occasion, was nice.  It was a time for remembering what kind of a man he was, the life he had and what he left behind.  My family got to see people within our family that I don’t think I’d ever met before.  We even managed to get quite a few good family pics of generations and such.

After the reception my sisters (and their respective kiddos) and my parents headed up to the cabin.  RS wasn’t able to get off work for the funeral, but picked me up and we made our way to the cabin too.   We all had a nice weekend away from civilization and spending time together.  My sis from KY got to meet RS for the first time too.

To be continued.....

Homemade Marshmallows

Wow, this is my 300th post!  Thanks for another hundred! :)  I  love my readers.  And don't forget there is just one more day to enter the baking mat  giveaway!  Have you ever made marshmallows?  Well, now I can say that I have.  This was my first try, and I was excited to do so!  I really like the way they turned out, and I have a feeling that even though we have three pretty large mason jars full of them right now....they'll go pretty fast.  :)  They are that good!  I like my recipe because you know exactly what is in them, and they are super light and fluffy!  Just like marshmallows should be right?!?  :)  Hope you enjoy! 

2/3 c. Water
2 pkgs. Gelatin (2 - 1/4 oz. pkgs.)
1/2 c. Corn Syrup
3/4 c. Sugar
3/4 c. Powdered Sugar
Optional :  
Flavoring (Peppermint, Cinnamon, Spearmint, etc....)
Food Coloring

For Dusting mix:
3/4 c. Powdered Sugar
1/2 c. Corn Starch

1.  In the bowl of your mixer combine the water and gelatin packages.
2.  Combine the corn syrup, sugar and 3/4 c. powdered sugar in a medium saucepan.  Slowly heat, stirring rather frequently.  Heat until the sugar dissolves, or it is about 240 degrees.
3.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.  Then dust with powdered sugar/corn starch mixture.  Set aside.
4.  Once sugar has dissolved in the saucepan, carefully pour that mixture into the mixing bowl and mix with the gelatin mixture.  (If you would like to add flavor and/or coloring, do so at this time.  I used 1 t. Peppermint and 2 drops of red food coloring for mine.  But do whatever you feel like!  For stronger flavor use 1 t. for a more subtle flavor just use 1/2 t.)  :)
5.  Start out on a low speed, and then as it starts to thicken you can move it to one of the highest speeds.  (I used it on 8 (out of 10 speeds).  Mix it on the higher speed for about 15-20 minutes.  The mixture will be lukewarm after 15-20 minutes and it should be light and fluffy looking.  (Refer to picture for various stages of the process.)
6.  Once it is light and fluffy (yet thick) take it out of the mixer.  Give it a stir with a spatula and set it by the prepared 9 x 13 pan.
7.  Pour into the pan and try to spread it out as evenly as you can.  Then dust the top with the powdered sugar/corn starch mixture.  (I used a sifter, but you don't have to!)
8.  Let the marshmallows cool and set up for about 3-4 hours.  (Or overnight)
9.  After that time, you can turn them out onto a cutting board and slice into your desired shapes/sizes.  I used a pizza cutter, and just would dust it with the mixture every once in a while.  I did about 1" squares, but also made some smaller ones.  Once you cut them be sure to dust each piece so they don't stick together.  I just put the remainder of the cornstarch/powdered sugar mixture in a bowl and toss the marshmallows in to cover.

10.  Store in airtight containers until ready to use!
We just had some in hot cocoa, and it was a treat to have a pepperminty touch on top!  :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

It's a Love Story: Chapter 5

So on Friday August 17th we were going to go up to the family cabin with my parents for the weekend.  RS didn’t get off work until 5pm, so my parents headed up to the cabin earlier in the afternoon, and RS was going to pick me up after he got off work.  He finally gets to my parent’s house to pick me up at about 6pm and I’m all ready to go.  But he grabs his guitar and comes inside.

I say, “RS let’s go and just grab a bite to eat on the way out of town.”

RS says, “I’ve been working on this song, and I want to play it for you.”


“Yes.  It won’t take long.  I promise.”

“Ok.” I said reluctantly, and we went inside.

So, he sits down and starts the song.  It gets to the lyrics and I start wonder if he knows what that song is about.  I’m thinking about how embarrassing it was going to be to break it to him about the meaning of the song.  It goes… “I’ve gotta feelin’, my head’s a reelin’, my heart is screamin’, I’m about to bust loose. Bottled up emotion, it’s more than a notion, it starts with an “I” and ends with a “U”. I’ve got a feelin’, are you feelin’ it too?”

So, he gets through the song, and does a very good job despite being nervous!  Then he says, “It’s true.  I love you.”  I want to say I was shocked, not because I didn’t feel that way but because I did feel that way.  I was just surprised he said it then.  It was great though, and I always wanted a man who would sing to me.  So, I wrapped my arms around his neck and said “I love you too!” in a very excited tone.

I guess looking back, I was the na├»ve one.  Not him.  LOL  : )

After that, we grabbed my things and threw them (and his guitar) in his Jeep and headed up to the cabin.  We made it there at about 10pm, and my parents stayed up to greet us.  While the guys were bringing the luggage in, I snuck into the kitchen with my mom to tell her that he’s loves me.  She actually didn’t seem to surprised.  But, then again, Moms are just that good right? She probably already knew.

We had a great weekend at the cabin and in the mountains.  The four of us went walking, hiking and more hiking.  We went up to one of our (my family’s) usual spots back behind the cabin, and also to a special longer hike that oversees a beautiful reservoir.  We took lots of photos and spent a lot of quality time together.  My parents also got to know RS better which was nice.

On Sunday we headed back down to our jobs, and on our way back we stopped at RS’s parent’s house to meet them.  I was a little nervous to meet his parents, but it went really well.  They were very welcoming and we got to get to know each other some.  RS’s sister and her boyfriend came over too, so I got to meet them.  It was nice to be able to put some faces to names of people who had known RS for so long and were such an important part of his life.

To be continued....

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's a Love Story: Chapter 4

When a neighborhood Security Guard--who happens to live across the street from my parents--stops his car in the middle of the street, gets out and says “Hello”.

 To which I respond bashfully, “Hi”.

Then he realized I lived there, and he said, “Oh, sorry, there usually aren’t people out here around this time of the night.”

And then I said, “Sorry, he was just walking me to the door, we just started dating.”

I died a little at that moment.  In fact, so did Rocket Scientist.  Embarrassing?  Yes.  But also memorable, I suppose.  : )

Anyway, for the record, I think it was only about midnight.  It wasn’t that late.  Rocket Scientist walked me the rest of the way to the door and stole another little kiss.  Still magical.  I went inside, and giggled like a school girl when I told my Mom he’d kissed me.

By the time it was the weekend, we were excited to see each other again.  Rocket Scientist had a great morning/afternoon planned on Saturday and we also had plans in the evening with some of my co-workers.  He picked me up bright and early Saturday morning and we headed up to Storm Mountain which is a rather difficult (it’s actually rated difficult) four-wheeling (aka Jeeping) trail on the way up to Estes Park.

Let me give you all some more background on me.  I grew up in Colorado and my family has four wheeled since before I was born.  My parents always have had an off-road capable vehicle like:  an original bronco, Wagoneer, Wrangler or Blazer.  And when we were kids (well, actually still up to the present) they’d take us four wheeling. It’s a great way to get out and see parts of Colorado and the mountains.  You can see things when you are four wheeling that some people only see in magazines.  It’s amazing.  Scary at times (for me, the chicken passenger), but amazing.  : )  So when I heard that RS liked four wheeling--or even knew what it actually was--that was some major brownie points with me and my parents!

Anyway, we four wheeled through beautiful mountain meadows and wooded areas before making it to the peak of Storm Mountain.  The view from there was amazing.  RS took the backseat out of the jeep and set it on the ground so we’d have a bench to eat our picnic lunch on.  We took another pic of us and the whole view behind us while we were up there.

This four wheeling trip wasn’t the first time I’d been riding in RS’s Jeep, but it was that day I realized he was a great driver.  Respectful of laws, wasn’t aggressive, but was definitely a defensive driver.  When we were done eating lunch we hiked a tad and then headed down to town and cleaned up a bit before we went to our other plans.

Once we were ready, we went over to my boss’ house for her annual barbecue.  RS got to meet my boss as well as some other coworkers and friends.  We had a great time at the barbecue and RS got along famously with everyone.  (Not that there is anyone in the whole world, he wouldn’t get along with well.)  He’s just a likeable guy.  A nice guy.  A wonderful guy.  You get the picture.

On Wednesday we had another date in the middle.  We ate dinner at Chick-fil-A (love that place!) and we went to Wal-Mart to do a little shopping.  RS had this cute little idea for me to randomly pick out a movie out of the $5 bin and so I did.  I picked “AI” or Artificial Intelligence, which I’d never seen, but he had.  He got it and then we went back to that coffee shop of our first date and watched it on his laptop.  He even brought two sets of headphones for it.  Clever date idea right?  We sipped caffeinated drinks and watched an interesting movie.

Then we had a fun filled weekend planned.

To be continued….

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's a Love Story: Chapter 3

We got to my parent’s house, and he walked me to the door.  He gave me a hug and said goodnight.  I was still a little bit in heaven from the whole wonderful evening.  I think that was single handedly the best date ever.  Well, at least in my life up until that point. : )

A few days came and went, and then Wednesday night we had our third date.  We met in the middle again, since it was mid-week and we ate dinner at Charley’s Sub Shop.  Then we went to a movie and Rocket Scientist put his arm around me.  He didn’t tell me till we were walking to the car later, but his arm fell asleep after a little bit into the movie.  But he didn’t want to move it because it was “totally worth it”, in his words.  If I’d a known, I’d a moved it for him.  I guess guys don’t mind their arms falling asleep though.

For our forth date Rocket Scientist wanted to take me up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park to go hiking.  So on Saturday, August 4th, 2007 he picked me up around 10am and we drove up to Estes.   Since he was going to do the driving, I decided to make and take lunch for us.  I brought turkey sandwiches, chips and then for dessert I made chocolate covered strawberries.

We got up to RMNP around 11am and made our way over to the trailhead.  The weather was just perfect and we started out on our hike.  Before we started the incline, we stopped for a quick picture of us.  Rocket Scientist had brought a tripod and set it up to be sure to get a picture of us.  That was our very first picture, and a pretty good one too!  I love the thought he put into it too!

Since it was such a nice day, there were a fair amount of people on the trail that day but it was no problem.  In fact, the bigger problem was tried to miss all of the road apples covering the path.  They were everywhere, and I think most of them were fresh.  We got to the summit of the trail and had lunch.  We were hungry and those simple sandwiches were so good.  We decided to save the strawberries for later though, since they are kind of messy.

After lunch we made our way down to the Jeep.  We drove down to the town of Estes and walked around a bit.  It’s such a charming little town if you ever have a chance to go there.  We walked up and down the main street and just talked.  Then we went to a parking lot overlooking the Lake and ate those strawberries.

The next day some of my friends and I went out to lunch after Church.  They all decided to go to a movie that night, and invited me along.  Since the movie was showing at the theatre that is in-between Rocket Scientist and me, I invited him along too.  He brought some friends too, and we had a nice evening.  He walked me to my Explorer and gave me a hug.  Then, right there in the parking lot of the movie theatre, we danced.  Just for a brief moment, but it was nice.  We said goodbye and already had plans to go dancing on Wednesday night.

Wednesday came, and my Mom, Dad, oldest sister A and her kiddos, Rocket Scientist and I went to dinner at a local Mexican Restaurant.  This was the first time that Rocket Scientist met my sister and her kids.  We all had a great time and my oldest niece was so darling.  She was just 6 years old and must have liked Rocket Scientist quite a bit, because she kind of flirted with him all throughout dinner.  It was cute.  While we were eating dinner I noticed how good Rocket Scientist was with kids too.  He just loves them, and plays with them.  Very sweet.

After dinner, Rocket Scientist and I went to go country dancing.  We tried to get in, but they rejected what Rocket Scientist was wearing.  To be honest, I’m not sure why he was just wearing a white shirt--you know just the undershirt type?  But, he was, and that wasn’t allowed at this place.  Which I also don’t understand why it wouldn’t be allowed….  Anyway, we ventured over to the mall across the parking lot, and I helped him pick out a shirt from Dillards.  (Which is still one of my favorite shirts on him, btw.)  He bought it, removed the tags and put it on.

The new shirt worked, and we did successfully get to go country dancing.  We had a great time and lots of great songs were played.  We two stepped, line-danced and did some swing too.  The only downside was the {rather large} woman who ran into Rocket Scientist’s hand and jammed his thumb.  His thumb was ok though, just sore for a few days.

After we were done dancing, Rocket Scientist took me home.  He parked on the street and started walking me to the door.  He stopped me on the driveway and pointed out the clear night.  We could see so many beautiful stars.  It was perfect.  Then he turned and kissed me.  Our first kiss, on our sixth date and it was perfect until two seconds later….

To be continued…..

Sesame Rolls

"Rubber Duckie, you're the one."  ~Ernie on Sesame Street              Here's a pretty easy recipe for sesame seed topped rolls!  These are great for diner rolls, sandwiches or burgers! :)
Sesame Rolls:
2 t. Yeast
3/4 c. Milk, warmed
1 t. Sugar
1 t. Olive Oil
1/2 t. Salt
2-2.5 c. Flour
Sesame Seeds
Egg (for egg wash)

1.  Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk.
2.  Add sugar, oil and salt then mix.
3.  Mix in flour until a ball forms.  Let rise for 20 minutes.
4.  Knead until the dough is smooth.  
5.  Separate dough into 6-10 balls.  (6 you'll get larger rolls, and 10 you'll get smaller ones)
6.  Shape each ball into a flat circle and place a few inches apart on a lined or greased baking sheet.  Let rise for 30 minutes.
7.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Egg wash rolls and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
8.  Bake rolls in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden. (like below)
 Enjoy! :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's a Love Story: Chapter 2

While were walking around, talking and getting to know each other.  Something started rocket Scientist on the subject of Stainless Steel.  I don’t remember what started it, but that night, our very first date ever, I learned all about stainless steel.  How strong it is.  How it actually gets stronger as it heats up, etc…   At first, I thought it was so random that he was talking about it, but then I realized just how endearing he is.  It’s more than just those eyes.  It’s just him.  Rocket Scientist.  He’s great.  He could give a talk on just about anything and make it interesting.  He’s so smart, yet down to earth.  He’s so enthusiastic, he reminds me of myself.  (Not in a weird way though.)

Another thing we talked about that night was which groups we were in while we were at CSU and who we were friends with.  It was interesting because we actually had been in the same groups as each other.  And we had a lot of mutual friends.  Slackers of friends though huh?  Just kidding.  It’s cool to know what God’s timing was for us meeting.  Although, we did find out that we actually met for the very first time back in the Fall of 2002 at a broomball game.

So, after we had walked around for a while, we decided that we were hungry.  So we went over to “On the Border” to get something to eat.  To be honest, I wasn’t really very hungry at all.  So either that was because of the latte I’d had at Barnes and Noble or the fact that my stomach (and heart) had little butterflies swirling around.  Rocket Scientist asked if we should just start with an appetizer and I agreed.  So I just let him order.  He really liked their empanadas, so he got those for us.

Then as he ordered I read about the fillings in the empanadas…and they were filled with ground beef and chicken.  Unfortunately it was too late to change the order--ok maybe it wasn’t, but I was too bashful to say anything.  So I just smiled and ate them.  Very slowly.  It wasn’t until date 4 or 5 that I actually mentioned that I really don’t eat ground beef….  It was all ok though, I obviously survived, and now it’s a funny little story.  I recommend ordering for yourself on the first date though.  Unless of course, you aren’t a picky eater. : )

At some point in the restaurant, I went to the restroom.  Not because I needed to use it, but I needed a chance to text my Mom about how the date was going.  And, all I stated was something like…. “he’s great”.  It wasn’t until later that I got to thinking about the significance of those little words.

We finished up the food and headed to our vehicles.  When we got to my Explorer he asked (cute huh?) if he could hug me.  Of course I said yes, and he did.  It was a good hug, not to long, not to short.  Not to tight, not awkward.  Just nice.  Then he made sure to ask me if we could see each other again, and (of course) I was happy to oblige. ;)

Our first date had been on a Wednesday and then we had our second date on the following Saturday.  Rocket Scientist asked me to dress up for our second date, but I didn’t know for what was the occasion.  I wore one my very favorite dresses, that’s a knee-length wrap dress with a black and white floral design.  He picked me up {at my parent’s house because that’s where I was living} and he got to meet my mom.

He then drove me to the Old High School in Fort Collins, where we had a picnic of spaghetti and meatballs he’d made.  He brought a blanket for us to sit on, and everything was perfect except, if I’d known we’d be sitting on the ground I probably wouldn’t have worn a dress…but it was ok since it was knee length.  A girl just has to be creative, and lady-like. : )

Dinner was good, and then he let me know that we had tickets to the play that night.  The play was Scapin, and it was put on by CSU in the Center for the Performing Arts at the Old Fort Collins High School building.  The play was great too!  They even had members of the audience participate.  My sweet Rocket Scientist was chosen and did a great job.  It was fun to see another facet of his personality on the stage that night.

After the play we went downtown to my favorite coffee shop.  We had to park a few blocks away, and as soon as we got out of the car he grabbed my hand.  My butterflies returned at that point.  So, there we were, walking down a street that I’d walked down so many times before that night.  But this time, it was different.  I was holding the hand of this amazing man, who I was starting to fall in love with.

By the time we got to the coffee shop, I was pretty much completely on cloud nine.  I could hardly order because, I was, just, so, amazed.  In shock.  In awe.  You know, that feeling where you couldn’t be happier?  Absolutely couldn’t ask for anything more in that exact moment?  Yep, this was one of those.  We got our coffee and sat down on the lone loveseat in the middle of the room.  We just sat there, holding hands, talking until our coffee was gone.  It was great.  In fact, that was probably the best latte I’ve ever had.  Although I couldn’t tell you what flavor it was.  In fact, I think it was hot chocolate.

We walked back to the Jeep and Rocket Scientist drove me the hour drive home.  When we were almost all the way to my parent‘s house, he got a little nervous by then in a sweet calm voice. Grasping my hand tighter, he told me his intentions.  While I don’t remember exactly what words he used, they were perfect.  Something like “I’d like to see you from now on.”  It wasn’t cheesy or trite.  It was perfect.  Like something out of a great old movie.  That moment, I definitely knew I was really falling in love with him.  And I’m assuming was feeling the same way about me.

To be continued….

It's a Love Story: Chapter 1

I've had several requests to share our love story.  So since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I thought this would be a perfect time to start writing it all out!  I’m going to do a post or so a day so it’s not too overwhelming to write or read.  :)

As you may already know, my husband and I actually met on eHarmony.  I suppose there are about three ways you could feel about that…so let’s discuss those before going any further.  You could either think that’s legit and a great new way to connect, or maybe you’ve really never heard of or thought about it or you’re a skeptic of internet dating, etc.  I’m not hear to tell you what is right or wrong, I just want to share our story with you, and you can make up your own minds about it, k?  Because for us, eHarmony worked.  For Tim and Sue, maybe it didn’t.  And no, this isn’t a paid advertisement.  It’s just our story.  Oh and you can catch more specifically about our eHarmony story in this article I wrote about a year ago.

For the purposes of this story I’ll refer to hubby as my endearing term of “Rocket Scientist”, k?  Because that’s pretty much what he is, and does and well, you get it.  :)

2007 was a big year for me.  I graduated with my Bachelors degree in Music from Colorado State University,  welcomed two more beautiful nieces in my family and met my husband.  Right after I graduated, I went to work for the Colorado Department of Transportation as an Engineering Intern.  I had actually work for CDOT during the summer of 2006 as well, and I liked it so much (mostly my awesome boss!) that I went back to work there.  I really enjoyed that job, because there were really no two days alike.  Most of the days were long and hot, I mean really hot because most of the time I was in the 100 degree heat of the dry Colorado plains right next to an asphalt paver.  (Imagine ~400 degree asphalt, yep that's hot!)

But those things didn't bother me.  I could jump out of the bed in the morning ready for the day (which doesn't happen anymore...) and come home hungry for dinner.  I didn't have a whole lot of social life the first part of that summer, probably due to the fact that I'd just graduated college, moved home and was gone from about 6am to 6pm.  But it was still fun.  My parents took me to the Brad Paisley concert at the Greeley Stampede that year, and Taylor Swift opened for him.  I was enjoying time with family and overall life was good.

A few days after that concert at the stampede my Rocket Scientist and I were matched on eHarmony.  We went through their guided communication process and finally decided to meet in person on July 25, 2007.  Since Rocket Scientist and I were living about an hour apart at the time, we decided to meet halfway.  I guess we must of talked about what type of vehicles we drove.  Because when I pulled up to the Barnes and Noble we were going to meet at, I was running early (as usual).  But I couldn’t help by notice a Jeep that looked just like his description sitting in the parking lot.

At first my heart just fluttered because I thought it was his and I suppose I got a little nervous to actually meet this guy.  I walked inside as calmly as I could.  (Which probably wasn’t that calm because I was super excited/nervous/happy/anxious/etc…)  As I turned the corner a man caught my eye.  I could only see his profile, but it really seemed familiar.  I was still about 30 feet away from this man, and I just kept walking.  Then he turned to face me and looked up.  It was him.  He let out a big smile that just made my heart melt.

We said our “hellos” and ventured into the coffee shop portion of the store.  We ordered our drinks and sat down.  This man I’d read so much about was there, across a little table from me.  It was a little surreal.  And even though it may seem like it’d be awkward, it wasn’t.  It wasn’t awkward at all.  You know, it was just right.  The conversations just flowed and before we knew it an hour had passed.  It was a nice evening so we decided to take a stroll around the outdoor mall.

Rocket Scientist thought he’d take his umbrella with us, just in case it started to rain.  Which it did about 2 seconds later.  So he brought out his umbrella.  His ridiculously large.  Ridiculously bright yellow and green umbrella.  Yep.  It was a CSU umbrella, complete with the school colors and emblem.  Which is cute right?  We both went to college there, in fact he was still a grad student there…..but seriously????  We had to share an umbrella on this perfect first date and it had to be one that would draw attention to us???

I went along with it, because A.  He was dreamy.  B.  I didn‘t really even notice the umbrella until he was putting it away later.  And C.  Did I mention his eyes are blue, and gorgeous and I had gotten lost in them?

…. To be continued …

Silicone Baking Mat by Progressive: Review and Giveaway!!

This awesome silicone baking mat is made by progressive and sold by generously donated two of these to ADM--one for me to test/try and review, and the other to giveaway!  So, now that I'm up to 100 total followers, I'm giving it away!!!  Check out the details below for that.

I have tested this baking mat for the last week and a half.  I have used it for baking:  cookies, bread, rolls and more.  This mat is supposed to replace waxed paper and parchment paper.  It does a great job of that, and it makes life so much easier....  You may have been noticing it in recent pictures on my blog like below, and I've also tested it off camera.  

Chocolate Crescents...

French Bread...
The baking mat also is a great way to not have to grease your baking sheets.  (So you also save on some calories! :)  Although, when you get the mat you should wash it before your first use and also lightly spray it with cooking spray the first time.   This just ensures that food won't stick to it.  :)  You only have to spray it that once though, and everything comes off so easily!  You can also use this mat as a nonstick surface for kneading dough, although I haven't tried that yet.
The mat's packaging states that it is heat resistant up to 600 degrees, and I certainly believe that!  I used it in my oven up to about 400 degrees, and then under the broiler for cheesy garlic toast as well!  (My broiler doesn't have a temp on it...but I think it's around 550 degrees.)  It did just fine under all those conditions!  The silicone is very flexible yet durable too.  Another great thing about this mat is that it is super easy to clean.  You can either wash it by hand or in the dishwasher!  So, that makes clean up a breeze huh?
I'm not gonna lie, I was somewhat skeptical about these mats before I tried it.  But now, I'm a believer.  It's great.  It makes baking easier in two ways:  prep and clean up!  So, I definitely recommend this baking mat to anyone who bakes anything from bread to cookies!  :)  Thanks reuseit!!!  Now on to the giveaway....

As I mentioned before, reuseit generously gave me two of these so I could have one to test, and one to giveaway!  There will be four possible ways to enter, so read the full guidelines below and good luck!  :)  This is a great, I mean great product and I know you all would love it! 

Here are the rules for the giveaway:
~You must be a US resident and live in the continental US.
~You must leave an email address or blog address, so I can get in touch with the winner!
~You may enter up to 4 (four) times as detailed below.
~You may enter until 2/1/11 at 12pm (noon) Mountain Standard Time.
~Winner will be chosen at random and announced in the afternoon of 2/1/11.  

How to enter the giveaway for the Progressive Silicone Baking Mat (donated by

Answer the following question in a comment at the bottom of this blog post.
"What are you most excited about baking on this mat?"

Additional entries to the giveaway:
1.  "Like" ADM on facebook, then leave another comment below saying so.  (if you already do, just say so in an additional comment below!) 
2.  Visit and check it out, then leave another comment below telling me about something cool you found.
3.  Either share this giveaway on facebook, twitter or your blog, then leave another comment below.

"What are you gonna do with all that trash?  Recycle it!  Recycle it!"  Recycle it, Michael Mish
My Aunt D and Uncle D gave me "A Kid's Eyeview of the Environment" by Michael Mish when I was child, and I just loved it.  I'd listen to that tape all the time.  And lately, it's been in my head this was a fitting post to stick those lyrics on!  :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Corn Chowder

"I'm as corny as Kansas in August, I'm as normal as blueberry pie. No more a smart little girl with no heart, I have found me a wonderful guy!"  ~A Wonderful Guy, from South Pacific

Did I mention that when I worked at that coffee shop we sold a lot more than just coffee?  Yeah, we sold cinnamon rolls, bread, cakes, brownies, cookies and soup.  Yep.  Soup too.  I never tried most of the soups but there was one that I'd eat every once in a while.  It was Corn Chowder, and boy was it good!  That was until the day I read the ingredients and at the top of the list (literally I think it was the second item) was bacon fat.  Well, I'm no vegetarian, but that was enough to completely ruin that soup for me from then on.

Anyway, I've made a completely vegetarian Corn Chowder that compares to that one, but mine had waaaaaaaaaaay less fat in it!  And it's still creamy and corny!  :)

 Serves 4.
Corn Chowder:
2 T. Butter
2 T. Flour
6 c. Milk (Any works, I used skim and it was still creamy)
3 c. Corn
1 c. Veggies (Any will work, I used green beans and carrots)
3 T. Cornstarch mixed with 3 T. Water
Salt/Pepper to taste

1.  Melt the butter in the bottom of a large pot.
2.  Stir flour into the melted butter.
3.  Add milk, corn and veggies and stir.
4.  Let the soup come to a very gentle boil, then reduce to medium heat.
5.  Cook the soup on medium heat until the veggies are tender.  (This will depend on what veggies you use, and if they were fresh or frozen.  I used frozen and it only took about 15 minutes.)
6.  Add in the cornstarch mixture to thicken the chowder to chowder consistency.  (If you'd like it thinner, add less, thicker add more.)
7.  Stir and make sure everything is well combined.
8.  Serve it up!  :)  See how nice and thick and creamy it is?!  :)
 Enjoy!  :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Serving Suggestion for Tomato Soup

I served this along with grilled cheese (made on homemade bread) last night for dinner!
Yep.  That's how I roll.   :)  

How to Make Homemade Bagels

"Bagels are wonderful. Bagels are fine.  I love Bagels, I eat them all the time..."  (Sing this to the tune of the "Sandwiches" song)  I enjoy a good bagel every now and then.  And since we moved to NC I haven't really found a great bagel joint yet.  So, while planning out my week of recipes for ADM I got to thinking of bagels...and here we are!  :)  I did some research into the whole process.  (Mostly just through wikipedia, because I love it, as you probably already know! ;)  And this is what I came up with.  They are surprisingly not as difficult as I thought they may be....but mine also don't look perfect by any means.  So here's how I did it, and a recipe too!  :)

1 pkg. Yeast
1/2 c. Water, lukewarm
1/2 c. Milk, lukewarm
1 t. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 t. Sugar
1/2 t. Salt
2.5-3 c. Flour
Optional toppings:  Sesame Seeds, Poppy Seeds, Onion Flakes, Garlic Granulate, etc. or for Everything Bagels mix equal parts of: Sesame Seeds, Poppy Seeds, Onion Flakes and Garlic Granulate.

1.  Combine the yeast, water, milk, olive oil, sugar and salt until well combined.
2.  Mix in about 1 c. of flour at a time until a stiff dough forms.
3.  Take the dough and knead for about 5 minutes or until it is smooth and well combined.
4.  Separate dough into 12 equal sections, then roll each section into about an 8" log and then make each log into a circle like below.  
12 sections, 12 logs and 12 circles of dough.
5.  Let rest for about 30 minutes.
6.  If you are doing plain bagels skip to step 7.  Get your toppings ready now on a plate.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Topping for everything bagels
 7.  Bring a pot of water to a boil.  For golden bagels with a crispier crust add 1-2 Tablespoons of Baking Soda to the water before boiling.
8.  Once the water is boiling carefully place one or more bagels in at a time.  Don't crowd the bagels though!  Let each bagel boil for about 1-2 minutes on each side.
 9.  Once you take out each bagel either place it on a prepared baking sheet if plain or dip it directly into the topping plate and then place on the baking sheet.  (Baking sheet should be greased or lined.)
 10.  Once all the bagels have been boiled (and topped) and placed on the baking sheet.  Place baking sheet into the preheated 400 degree oven and bake for about 15 minutes. 
 11.   Then flip over and bake another 5 minutes.
 12.  Their bottoms will look about like this  (I did use some baking soda in my boiled water above btw.)
 13.  Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire rack for a few minutes before serving or eating.  :)
Enjoy!   :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Valentine's Day Post

 "My funny valentine.  Sweet, comic valentine; who makes me smile with my heart..."  ~Frank Sinatra, Funny Valentine
Here's a guide to practically everything you'll need to ensure your and your sweetie have a memorable St. Valentine's Day.  This post contains:  breakfast, desserts and some decor for the big heart day that's just around the corner!  <3  So whether you like it simple or more complex--there should be something here for ya!  :)

Make someone's heart melt with these cute brownies!  <3
 Just make your favorite brownies, then when you are ready to serve cut a heart shape out of the middle of a little paper plate. (below)  Then hold the heart over each brownie and sift powdered sugar over it.  Super cute right?  And super easy! :)  

Chocolate Crescents. Simple and yummy.

 Chocolate Fondue.  Yum-O!  :)  or cheese fondue too.

Or you could just make chocolate dipped strawberries.

Crepes.  A definite fave in our house.  :)  Great for breakfast or dessert!

 Red Velvet Cupcakes.  Red and chocolate?  Perfect!  :)  Top these off with heart sprinkles. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispie Treats  Chocolate and PB? Sweet!  These would be super cute cut out as hearts! <3

Chocolate Candies, etc....

Buckeyes.  Now Chocolate and really, really creamy peanut butter?  Yum.

Chocolaty treats you can make....yum :)

Heart Napkins/centerpiece/runner

And here's a little something in case you two cuddle up by the fire.  :)  Hot Chocolate Williams-Sonoma Style.

Or how about a Valentine's Pizza?  You could either by a heart shaped one like this from Papa Murphy's or make one at home!  :)

Hope these ideas and recipes help you to have a great and memorable Valentine's Day this year!  Happy Valentine's Day!!  I love my readers!!!  :)  Here are more dessert recipes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

V-Day Napkin Crafts

Here are some cute and easy crafts you can do with napkins.  You can really use any color, and even white, but I suppose it'd be best to go with reds, pinks, whites and purples for Valentine's Day.  :)  Here's how you can make cute heart napkins, and a super cute heart banner!

How to make a simple heart napkin.
 Uses for said napkins are almost endless! :)  Centerpieces, place settings, set as a table runner, etc...
 Now, remember those scraps from the heart napkins you just made?  Well, you can use them to create more hearts.  Take the scrap, fold it in half, cut out a heart and there ya go!  4 more little hearts!  Keep going and you can make something with all those little hearts....
 To make a banner out of the little hearts just grab one at a time, and stick a little bit of glue stick glue on it.  Then press another heart to that glue and keep going....until it starts looking like this last pic.  Cute huh?
 Once you have your banner (of your desired length) you can hang it wherever your heart desires.  Entryways, hallways, stairways, bedrooms, kitchen....or like I did.  Above our fireplace.  :)
"Bless your beautiful hide, wherever you may be..."  Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
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