Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 In Review

2011 has been one of those years that I will remember for the rest of my life. I am so happy I decided to do this post because it made me look back at all the pictures, stories and memories I've created in the past year and how special each and every moment was. 

So take a look back with me....

+ Our after-Christmas/New Years vacation to Waikiki on Oahu, HI. I feel so blessed to be able to go to such a beautiful place with someone I love so much. 

 + I celebrated my 22nd birthday (the 4th one celebrated with J) and was spoiled rotten! 

 + Our poor Ollie got horrible blisters on his feet but did so well as they healed and
+ We spent far too long without furniture waiting for the new stuff to arrive

 + J's birthday was spent with friends from out of town, lots of margaritas and days spent relaxing by the pool. 
 + We graduated! It was a long four years with lots of stress, studying, and wondering when it was going to end but I finished my bachelors degree and J finished his masters. 

 + We spent lots of time taking our pup swimming in the ocean. He loves it so much it's hard to get him out. 

+ J and I celebrated our 4 year dating anniversary! I cannot believe how quickly the time has past and how many amazing memories we've created together. I love that man!

 + We got to spend some time back in CO this summer to celebrate the wedding of two of our great friends. While the drive from SD to CO is never fun we wouldn't miss trips like this for anything.

 + After a lot of stressful paperwork, specific deadlines and lots of finger crossing we finally bought and moved into our first house! We have loved being able to do whatever we wanted in the new house and there's nothing quite like home. 

 + We've done lots of work since we moved but it is all so worth it. A yard for our pup to play in and a guest room to host family and friends.

+ Now that we have this amazing new house we decided to host Thanksgiving for my mom and sister. Our turkey was a big success, I made homemade gravy for the first time ever and we spent some time at the beach. Noting says Thanksgiving like the sun and the sand!

+ The holidays are definitely my favorite time of the year and I was so excited to finally be able to decorate outside as well as inside wherever and however I wanted. I can't wait to make holiday traditions in our new home. 

+ And last but definitely far from least.... J and I got engaged on Christmas Day 2011. I promise that I will do a post soon specific to the details about this but lets just say I have never been happier in my whole entire life. I cannot wait to start planning this wedding and continue to grow our lives together!

Thanks 2011.... 
for an amazing, spectacular, whirlwind year that I'll never forget. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Christmas to Remember Forever

I've always loved Christmas time....
All the lights, 
the peppermint,
the joy. 
Spending time with family 
and friends. 
Creating memories
and continuing traditions. 

But this year, Christmas 2011
will remain in my heart for the rest of my life... 

Because it was Christmas day that 
J asked me to be his wife! 

And obviously I said YES!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

We wish you the merriest of holidays and 
the hope that with 2012 comes much to celebrate!

Merry Christmas, 
from our family to yours!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Time Is [almost] Here

I can not believe that Christmas is only a mere 5 days away!

I think part of the reason that I'm having "timing issues" this year is because for the last 4 years the week or two or three before Christmas was always spent cramming, studying, stressing and struggling through finals week. I texted a good science-major friend of mine just yesterday about "how it doesn't feel like Christmas without all this stress". I'm very thankful that I'm not in the same boat as years past but at the same time I'm left wondering where in the world the month of December went!

Like usual J, O-dog and I will be traveling back to CO for the holidays. Thankfully both mine and J's companies are shut down between Christmas and New Years so that gives us an amazing break without the guilt. Unfortunately though we do have to drive home. Yes, that means from SD to CO. And just in case you were wondering it's about 17 or 18 hours. Without any delays from traffic or snow or anything else!

Before then we have to...

+ Clean the house
+ Mow the lawn (we are homeowners now, aren't we?)
+ Clean out the fridge
+ Wrap one more Christmas present
+ Celebrate our friend V's birthday with drinks downtown ;-)
+ Pack our bags
+ Pack up the car
+ and stock up on energy drinks

We plan on leaving SD as soon as I get off work on Thursday afternoon (so hopefully by 3ish) and driving through the night. We've done it before this way and it makes it so much nicer to get back home early on Friday as opposed to midnight or 3AM! All we'll need is a quick nap and we'll be ready for carolling that night followed by lots and lots of festivities in the coming days.

Quite frankly, I can't wait to be back to this!

Hurry up week! Can't it be Friday morning already?!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Grandma Shangraw's Lasagna

It's been quite a while since I've shared a recipe with you and trust me, this is one you'll definitely want to know. J and I both love anything Italian when it comes to food so this is definitely up our alley. I present to you...

Grandma Shangraw's Lasagna
(and grandma Shangraw isn't even my relative!) 

 The List of Players:
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz ricotta cheese
8 oz grated romano cheese
Large bag of mozzarella 
3 eggs
No-boil lasagna noodles
1 lb ground beef (not pictured)
1 lb italian sausage (not pictured)
Small can tomato paste
Small can tomato sauce
Large can Tomato Puree
Lawry's spaghetti sauce mix
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 t oregano
Several shakes parsley 

1. Brown ground beef and italian sausage together in large pan until no longer pink. Drain. 
2. Mix together tomato sauce, puree and paste with Lawry's spaghetti sauce mix in large bowl. Set aside
3. Beat eggs and add all seasonings in medium bowl. 
4. Add cream cheese to egg mixture. (I find it easier to slightly mash up the cream cheese block and then put it in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds to make it easier to mix) Stir in ricotta cheese followed by romano. 

5. Coat bottom of 9 x 11 in baking dish with a layer of sauce. (After this point you can leave the meat separate from the sauce or if you want you can mix them together. I don't have a big enough bowl for this so I leave them separate.) 
6. Layer noodles on top of sauce. (I always squeeze in 4 noodles on the bottom layer only and then use 3 for each of the other layers)
7. Place cheese mixture over noodles. 
8. Place meat over cheese. Layer one is complete. (Just as a heads up for portioning, I typically get three layers in my pan)

9. Continue in the same process as before making your layers. Sauce, noodles, cheese, meat. You want to END with the sauce layer though so beware. 
10. Admire your gooey layers!
11. Cover entire top with mozzarella cheese. (I never end up using the whole bag but you want to make sure it's al covered)
12. Prepare some garlic bread or salad to go with it and pop the pan in a 350 degree oven for 45 min to 1 hour

Now just a word to the wise, once your lasagna is put together and all ready to go in the oven it can be stored in the fridge for a few hours if you feel like putting it together in the morning OR it can be frozen and used on a completely different day. Theoretically if you had two baking dishes you could even double the recipe, make one for dinner that night and then save the other for the following week. I've never had the patience to wait to cook ours though, it always looks and smells too good :-)

Remove from the oven once top is golden brown. (Ours got cooked a little too much last night so you'll want yours a little lighter than the picture above but I personally liked the crunchy top this time. Your preference) Pair with some of your gooey garlic bread and a glass of red wine and wait for the compliments to come in! J always raves about this meal and the best part is there's usually lots of leftovers! 

Bon Appetit!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nail Polish Swap!

I'm sure you know Tara of Fabulous But Evil
And if you don't, then you must go to her blog RIGHT NOW!
Okay, well actually after you check out the rest of this post....

So.... Tara and Celia hosted a Nail Polish Swap recently 
and are doing a link-up today to show off what everyone received. 
I am so so happy with everything that my swap partner Lauren sent me. 

 1. Essie Silken Cord: 
The perfect red for the holiday season
2. Essie Topless & Barefoot: 
An amazing nude/slight baby pink
3. Sally Hansen Strobe Light: 
Amazing pink/silver sparkles in different sizes with clear base
4. Orly Rage: 
Shimmery, metallic copper color
 I'm currently sporting Topless & Barefoot with an accent nail of Strobe Light.
I can't wait to use Silken Cord for Christmas and Rage seems like the perfect color for my toes! 
Thank you Tara and Celia for hosting the swap 
and a big thank you to Lauren for my amazing polishes!  

Monday, November 28, 2011

An Early Present

Yesterday I finally got a package in the mail that I've been keeping an eye out for every since I knew it was coming and I can't wait to show you what's inside!

I must start by telling you that the package was from the lovely Moriah. Don't know her? Well then check out her blog Moriah Makes, her vintage inspired Etsy shop, or follow her on Twitter.

Moriah has two beautiful babies and a bunch of clothes/accessories that aren't perfectly suited for Mommy-life anymore. She has amazing style and gorgeous taste so when I saw that she would be selling some of said-clothes on her blog's "Closet Sale" I knew I had to take a peak. And as luck would have it there were two items that I knew I must have that no one else had claimed already so I snatched them up and I can't wait to start using them!

The first is this Lace Dress in a slight cream color. I've been wanting a dress with a lace-overlay like this for a while now but haven't been able to find one that fit right and I really liked. While it might be a little big (it's a size large) I love it paired with a brown belt and a cream cardi plus the larger size gives it a good length which I love. The detail is gorgeous and I can already picture it being a perfect Holiday dress for this year. 

The second is this brown, ruffled purse. Similarly to the dress I've been looking for something like this for a while too. I wanted a winter purse that had shorter straps to be worn at the crook of your arm because I hate fighting with a purse when wearing a sweatshirt or a big jacket and all it wants to do is fall off your shoulder. It's a great size; not too big but it fits everything I carry around with me and I love the buckles and the ruffles. 

I am so happy with both of these things and I am so happy to be part of this community that lets me take amazing items like these off someone else's hands. As you can tell I've already moved all my stuff into the purse and I can't wait to wear the dress out for some special occasion sometime soon. 

A big, BIG thank you to Moriah and her amazing stuff!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Getting in the Spirit

Now that Thanksgiving is over...
And by no means am I forgetting about how nice it was to have family in town and celebrate all that we have with them but....

I will always be more excited for Christmas.

J thinks I'm crazy for my excitement but now at least I'm justified for...
Knowing that it's only 26 days away. 
Hitting up Michael's and Jo Ann's a ton recently.
Turning my craft room into my hoarding place for all things red & green
Leaving flecks of glitter through the house as the decorations begin to go up.

I'm especially excited this year because this will be our first holiday season in our new house. That means lots of decorating, lots of Christmas cheer and hopefully a non-Scrooge boyfriend sooner or later. ;-) I've been compiling some of my favorite inspirations, crafts to try and ways to make our house beautiful so take a look!

Source: via Jayme on Pinterest

Source: via Jayme on Pinterest

Source: via Jayme on Pinterest

Monday, November 7, 2011

How is is November?

Unintentionally it seems as if I've taken a bit of a blogging-hiatus. I haven't been overly busy, nothing huge has happened in my life nor have I been out of internet/had a broken computer or anything like that. I guess you can say that I've just been enjoying my life away from the computer. Working, tutoring and spending quality time with my little family has been enough for me and I can't say that I'm not happy about it.

We rode our bikes to dinner and enjoyed beers at our new patio table. I've found my all-time favorite drink from The Bucks and Ollie and I spent Halloween at the beach. Nothing says October 31st like sand and sun!

We've been slowly making more updates to our house and I love every one of them. I went to IKEA and got us new bedding and made some custom art for over the bed. We also got custom artwork done by Jeff's talented cousin to hang in the dining room.

We went bowling on a Saturday afternoon, put together a lawn mower together and tried new recipes (all of which have been a success). I started making a Christmas gift list because I'm trying to go all handmade this year and I successfully made some of my first items on said-list. Who doesn't need a key fob, right? Mine coordinates lovely with the inside of my clutch!

Now that it's November (which, by the way, how did that come so quick?) I've started thinking about decorating for the Holidays already. I've been adding to our Christmas decor slowly but surely and every time I walk past the craft room and see all the red and green I get excited about winter. That plus  cuddling under blankets with spiked hot chocolate and a movie with my favorite man when it rains. (Because rain= winter here, in case you didn't know) 

This might be the most content I've been with life in a while. 
And that makes my heart soar. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Homeowners: The Backyard of Doom

One of the huge reasons we wanted to buy a house was to have a backyard of our own. So we could enjoy evening drinks with friends around a patio table and let Ollie run in his own space and have a grill we didn't have to share with 50 other people in the apartment complex and so I could plant herbs and hibiscus and whatever I felt like in the garden.

When we moved into this house we knew it was going to be a lot of work back there. The house had been a foreclosure and was therefore vacant for over a year which meant that no one was taking care of the yard. Add that to the fact that they had random cages (we think for animals of some sort) and covered structures throughout the yard and we were faced with quite a challenge.

Step 1: 
*Remove all the random structures. 
(evidence can be seen along the wall behind J)
*Pull out all the dead plants in the planter. 
*Demolish the oddly placed piece of cement in the side-yard 
(which turned out to be a bigger project than we imagined)
*Attempt to remove all the stickers/weeds in the lawn 
(so Ollie wouldn't come in covered in them, but clearly he wasn't in the actual lawn much)

Step 2: 
*Kill off all the dead grass/weeds/etc etc in the lawn
*Rototill the yard so it wasn't as hard as brick 
(rented a truck from Home Depot and two rototillers because our ground sucked that much)
*Lay down 20+ bags of topsoil, that happens to smell like manure 
(J's clothes had to be washed multiple times to get the smell out) 
*Attempt to put in a sprinkler system 
(but realize we don't have enough water pressure for one after all the digging was finished)
*Scrap said sprinklers and fill in the holes
*Spread more top soil and fertilizer
*Lay sod

Step 3: 
*Admire the changes because they are so great!
 *Water sod excessively with our sprayers attached to the hose
*Start to plan out what to plant around the edge of the yard
*Put in red bark along the edge of the patio 
(because the spot was too skinny for grass and Ollie needs a "restroom")
*Buy a patio table to finish the yard off
*Continue to water the new sod
*Dream about all the evenings we'll spend in our new space

We cannot believe how much hard work it took to fix the yard but we are so happy with the results. Now it's time for entertaining of friends and family back there. But for now I'm off to water the sod ;-)

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Day In The Life

Yesterday I had the day off. No work for this girl! I've heard about this going around a bit so I thought I would join the party and take a picture of my day, one picture every hour. And here's what you get....

8AM: Wake up and attempt to get Ollie up too. He's such a teenager in the mornings, totally gives me the "5 more minutes, Mom" look. 

9AM: Made myself some french toast. And I just want to clarify, I did not eat all 4 pieces. I made extra so I could have some this morning too.
10AM: FedEx delivered a box to the front door and managed to scare the begesus out of the dog. He needs to get out more.

11AM: In said FedEx box was our custom artwork that J's cousin made for us for our new home. All we told him was we wanted something that flowed together and had blue-tones in it. We love how it turned out and just have to find a place to put it now.

12PM: Stopped by the post-office to mail a little something to J's other cousin who had a baby girl about 2 months ago. I've been meaning to send it to them for a while now but moving and work and fixing up the house has sort of gotten in the way until now.
1PM: Nothing is quite as delicious as some pink lemonade on a warm afternoon. Am I right?

2PM: I ended up taking a bit of a nap. Hence the reason there's no picture. Sorry I had a somewhat lazy day.
3PM: My O-dog was being uber-sweet and wouldn't leave my side when I took him out in the yard. He's such a big baby sometimes and it makes me love him even more.

4PM: I went to my tutoring job and every day I am sort of jealous of the neighborhood they live in. I mean seriously, these houses are huge and gorgeous (and easily $800,000)

5PM: After tutoring I stopped by Old Navy because I needed some new jeans. I was able to find a great pair and some clearance tops that I absolutely love. Successful shopping trips always make my day. 
6PM: I took the pup on his daily walk to the park. He just loves it over there and will run and run and run. Then he decides to lay in the grass and either roll around or chew on a stick. 

7PM: I made a delicious dinner for J and I but he was a little skeptical about it at first. It's a breakfast item (aka it has eggs and ham) but also has spaghetti which sort of freaked him out. It turned out great, he said I could make it again and I'll mark it up as a success. 
8PM: I decided to give Ollie a few treats after dinner. His one main trick is that he waves at you. Well he was so excited about the treats that he just sat down and started waving on his own. "Look at me mom, isn't this what you want me to do? Can I have my treat now?" Sweet, sweet boy. 

9PM: Poured myself a Shock Top and it was delicious. So much better in a cold glass with an orange slice by the way. 
10PM: Settled in relaxing while watching some Jersey Shore. We have 1450 sq ft in our new house and all of us end up being within a foot of each other. 

11PM: Headed to bed and wrapped the dog up in the blanket. He could careless as long as he has this piece of felt to chew on. Then sleep. 

What's a normal day for you? 


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