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!  


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