Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vacation Checklist

We are going on vacation for the first time EVER as a married couple this Summer! I am so excited I could just scream. But, I won't because I don't want to frighten the neighbors.

 (Picture found HERE)

Our destination: Virginia Beach.

Of course, before I go on vacation I have a little list of things to accomplish. Some may be more attainable than others, but a girl can dream, right? So without further ado, here's a few of my checklist items:

  • Get a sunkissed glow without baking in the sun. We'll see how that goes, since I'm deathly allergic to some self-tanners.
  • Lose 5 pounds (ha.... ha).
  • Pull together a cute, beachy wardrobe using things I already have. 
  • Plan an awesome music playlist for the car ride there (18 hours!).
  • Find a cute, floppy hat to ward off unwanted sunbeams (at this point, I'm wondering how ANY sunbeams could be unwanted!).
  • Research places to stop along the way for ultimate Road-Trip Fun. 

 Also, I think I might need this dress:

(Dress found HERE)

So that is my Summer Vacation Checklist so far! I'm sure there will be more to add as the departure time gets closer. Do you have any Summer vacations planned? What would you add to a To-Do list for the perfect vacation? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Menu- Grilled Chicken with Homemade Salsa

I have been baking/cooking up a storm lately with all the weird weather here in MN. It's been so rainy and overcast that all I feel like doing is hunkering down inside and eating yummy food. Hopefully the weather will turn around soon, but in the meantime at least I have some new recipes under my belt!

This is quickly becoming a favorite around here. It's SO yummy and fresh-tasting, perfect for Spring/Summer menus, especially because the chicken is best cooked on the grill!

 Grilled Chicken with Homemade Salsa:

Marinade for chicken:
2 boneless/skinless chicken bosoms (I grew up calling them this, am I weird or what???)
1/4 cup olive oil
1tbsp lemon juice
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Black pepper

Tomatoes (2 large or 3 small)
1 avocado (not too ripe!)
1/2 large white onion
Fresh cilantro
1 tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, mix the marinade ingredients together, then pour into a bowl with the chicken and marinate for 1-2 hours. 

For the salsa, chop up the vegetables into small pieces, and finely chop the onion (the smaller sized chunks, the better, flavor-wise!). Mince the cilantro and mix it in the vegetables with the lime juice, salt and pepper. I tend to like my salsa really salty, so you may want to experiment with the spices to find what you like best!

After grilling the chicken, pour a generous amount of salsa over each serving and enjoy! I like serving this with cilantro lime rice and black beans, it's the perfect accompaniment!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Birthday Recap...

Ah, birthdays. They are so huge and wonderful when you are little, and then as you grow up it's like they become insignificant for a while, then as you get even older you try to avoid them like the plague. Thankfully, I'm still in the "eh, birthdays" kind of mode.

Even so, I just had to write this post because I had a really wonderful birthday this year. It was low-key, and spent with some of the dearest people in my life. What could be more perfect than that?  

The day started with a long walk with my Dad. My parents have some great trails near their house, and we love to walk them in the warmer months! We saw a lot of wildlife, including this bird below (ha, I already forgot the name!). 

I also got to play around with some of the manual settings on my new camera! I love taking photos of nature. Two words: macro focus. My new best friend. 

Later on that evening, we gathered at my parent's house again for dinner. My sweet momma is such an amazing cook! My little sis Morna is graduating from High School this year, my how time flies!

Here's most of the bunch, not really sure what everyone was looking at here... 

I guess I really get excited about opening gifts... this was a super-cute tea cozy from my wonderful Grandma Bertie! 

This is Grandma Bertie... How I love her! 

The cake my mom made was a vanilla cake with homemade frosting and strawberry filling. It was so good, I almost ate the whole thing myself. But, I thought sharing would be a nice thing to do. 

Later on that night we had a bonfire, and my Aunt and Uncle who are visiting from Alaska came over for a bit. All in all, it was a wonderful birthday. I couldn't have asked for a better one!

Friday, May 20, 2011

What I Wore- Birthday Edition!

I am just having wayyy too much fun with this part-time fashion blogger thing. =) But really, I've always loved fashion and I think that it is so important to present yourself well, so why not?

So for my b-day, I pulled together this outfit mainly because I wanted a chance to wear my new sport-coat (is that what those things are called?). It's from the Limited, but I found it at GW with all the original tags for only $8.99. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it! I've been looking for a nice, tailored jacket for a while and this was the perfect thing. I also had to teach voice lessons right before having dinner with my family, so this had to be professional without being too stuffy. Hence, the ripped jeans. =)

Striped top: Forever 21
Sport Coat: The Limited (found @ GW)
Jeans: Levi's
Shoes: Target
Seahorse necklace: vintage (gift from my Grandma years ago!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's my birthday, and I'll blog if I want to!

So yes, this post is a little later than I usually post, but it's probably because I woke up and had breakfast with my hubby, finished off an Agatha Christie novel, and took a little nap this morning. Why so lazy? I promise that's not my normal morning routine! But today is different because yes, it is my birthday.

Also, I didn't have a chance to write a post yesterday and schedule it (I'm usually only a day ahead with blogging, which is pretty shameful, I know!).

So in honor of birthdays, I just want to talk a little bit about the things I am most thankful for!

Here they are, in a very particular order:

  • My relationship with Jesus Christ. He's constantly working in my heart and helping me to become more like Him. It can be a painful process at times, but I'm so thankful for the peace I have in my heart because of my Savior. 
  • My sweet, wonderful, caring husband. I love him SO much! I never knew it was possible to love another person so much. In fact, sometimes I squish him too hard when I'm hugging him because I just can't help it! =)
  • My family. I was thinking especially of my Dad and Mom, who are so supportive and loving. Last year I was in Iowa on a business trip on my birthday (sad face), and I even got sick on top of that! But my dad called me to wish me a Happy Birthday, and then surprised the socks off me and said he was driving there to spend the evening with me! He drove 4 hours to come spend me birthday with me. Isn't that awesome? I love my Dad!
  • Friends. Where would we be without them? Lately God has been working in my life a lot, and He recently removed some old friendships from my life. Even though it's hard to see people go, there's always something better that God has in store! He's brought some amazing friends into my life that I am just so thankful for. 
  • Being able to quit my job! Since I left my full-time job to pursue a career in music, life has turned into quite an adventure. I've had a few bumps along the way because nothing is ever easy, but at least I know that I'm on the right path! It's so fulfilling to be doing something that I really have a passion for. 
So that, my wonderful friends, is what I'm thankful for! How about you? I'd love to hear what you are thankful for today.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Super-Easy Jewelery Tutorial

One of my little secrets for saving loads of $$ and still keeping up with the trends is making my own jewelery! If you've never made jewelery before, this post is for you! I think some people may be surprised to learn how easy it is to make simple jewelery and how inexpensive it can be in the long run. After buying the basic supplies (it varies what "basic" means, but for me it was a plastic box for storage, a couple of wire cutters, a wire-bender, some clasps and earring studs, and beads), you will have a way to make really affordable statement pieces, like those turquoise earrings I made above! 

I found these beads at JoAnne fabrics on MAJOR sale. They were $0.97 for all three! I love turquoise and had been wanting some turquoise jewelery for a long time, so I snatched them up. Granted, these are faux but really, at $0.97 who cares? =)

From those 3 beads, I was able to make a pair of earrings and a necklace. Since I used things I already had on hand, all 3 cost me only the price of the beads. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

So if you are inclined to start off on your own jewelery making adventure, here's a quick tutorial about how to get started! 

As I mentioned earlier, it varies a lot what the "basic" supplies are. But if you have a hobby lobby/ Jo Anne Fabrics/ Michaels near you, chances are you will be able to find a kit with basic wire trimmers, wire wrapper, small pliers and a few other necessities. Here's what I used to make a pair of earrings: wire wrapper, wire cutter, jewelery pin for the base, and beads. Not pictured is a smaller pair of pliers and the ear wires.  

Once I had everything together, I assembled the beads how I wanted them on the earring:

Next, using the wire bender I gently looped the wire at the top:

And then used the wire trimmer to cut off any excess. 

Finally, I slipped the newly created loop onto the loop of a silver ear wire and used a small pliers to clamp it shut.

And that's it! So easy, right?

Here's a couple tips if you are looking to get started making your own jewelery without breaking the bank:
  • Use your weekly ad coupon to buy a basic kit (they run anywhere from $9-$20, mine was on the cheaper side!)
  • Only buy the beads that you know you will use! Sometimes it gets a little crazy in the bead aisle, with all the amazing products. But it can really add up fast! I try to only buy beads on sale, and have a really specific use for them so they don't just sit in my craft drawer.
  • Stock up on some basics like silver ear wires, gold ear wires, jewelery pins, chains, and links. That way you won't have to go out and buy those things every time you want to make something.
  • Jewelery makes great gifts! I made necklaces and earrings as gifts for all the bridesmaids in my wedding, and it saved me a lot of money. Plus, I was able to match them to the colors that I wanted instead of searching all over the place for the right accessories!
Happy Jewelery Making!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


One of my goals for this Spring/Summer was to start a small container garden on our porch with some of the herbs that I use a lot in cooking. I love cooking with fresh herbs, and what better way than to cut them fresh from your own porch, right?

So, the hubs and I headed over to our neighborhood Wally-World (Wal Mart) for some supplies. I picked up a new planter, 2 small cilantro plants, and a Rosemary plant. From my many mistakes gardening last year, I learned that it's really important to have a container with good drainage. Otherwise, the soil just keeps holding the water and your plants can start molding from the roots up. Not cool!

My aunt visited me the other day and brought me two beautiful flower plants, so I was able to work those into the containers too! Every garden needs some eye-candy, right? 

So that's what we have so far! As you can see, our porch is needing a little TLC as well, but at least the flowers have started brightening up the space a little! I'm also planning to start growing some Basil, since I can never seem to find good, fresh basil in the grocery store.

Do you have any gardening planned for this Summer?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Another Day, Another Fair!

This weekend was the Scottish Festival, another interesting fair we have here in MN. This one is actually very near and dear to my heart, since my Grandfather was from Scotland! He died before I was born, but my parents and family went to this festival every year from the time I was a baby until I was 15! Every time I hear the bagpipes, it makes me think of my Grandpa.

So, we decided to go this year again since Josh had never been to the Scottish Fair. Josh lived in Scotland for his semester abroad during school and really loved his time there. We took some friends who also love the Scottish culture (and also lived there for a while).

We ended up having real Scottish weather too! It was really cold and rainy, but we made it through with lots of hot tea and a couple breaks to warm up in the car.

We had some meat pies with HP sauce (yum!) and fish n' chips with malt vinegar. Mmmm. I'll be posting a recipe for these soon! They are soooo good.

They had tons of great music- a few different celtic bands and lots and lots of bagpipes. Do you like bagpipes? There seems to be a rather mixed reaction to them. I love them, but probably because they are so closely tied to my Scottish heritage and remind me of my Grandpa. We had two pipers at our wedding, and some of our guests were a little shocked at the volume! Hehe.

Another fun part of this festival is watching the "Highland Games." One of my favorite sports is the "Caber Toss." These fellas pick up what looks like a telephone pole (and probably weighs that much too!) and attempt to toss it end-over-end, wearing kilts no less! They are judged on form and the height the caber reaches. I've never actually seen anyone throw it end-over-end, but I imagine it would be pretty impressive!

We also watched the Highland Dancing competitions. It really amazes me the strength and endurance these dancers have! Of course, they make it look way easier than it really is.

At the end of the day, all of the pipe bands that are there at the festival gather together and play en masse. It is really an amazing sight, watching them march up and down the field. It's so loud, you can feel your bones rumble with the bass drums! I love visiting the Scottish Festival! We'll definitely be back next year.

Do you like to visit festivals throughout the year? What are some that are unique to your area that you enjoy visiting? I'm guessing other places hold Scottish Festivals too, have you ever been to one?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Delicious Details

Lately, I've been finding that the things I love most about our house are the little details that I didn't put much thought into. It's kind of ironic how much time I've spent hemming and hawing over things like wall colors, accent colors, artwork, and how it's actually the tiny, everyday details that seems to matter so much more. 

In my living room, it's the small stacks of books sitting by a comfy chair that I love most. They aren't just for show, but they are books that are picked up frequently, especially my little green leather-bound Bible. I love sitting here with a cup of tea and listening to the birds happily chirp outside as I read God's word.

In our bedroom, I love my little multi-functional nightstand that has pretty much everything I need neatly (ok, maybe not so neatly) tucked inside. Even though the drawer looks small, it holds a coaster for a nightime cup of tea, earplugs for unfortunate nights when my cat decides to wake up at 3:30 am, face lotion, whatever I'm currently reading, and kleenex. I love that even though it gets cluttered sometimes, I can open the drawer and swoop everything inside. Ahh. So nice and clean.

At the top of our stairwell, a little note that I made a few months ago is tucked into the mirror. If you can't see it, it says "Rejoice in the Lord always." I stuck it there a while ago, and it's become a great reminder to get my heart in the right place as I'm getting ready to leave the house, or even coming home for that matter!

Another one of those details that I love is where our bonsai tree is sitting. At first, I moved it there on this little orange table out of necessity because it's the brightest spot in our house and this guy needs a lot of light. But now, I love seeing it there everyday, and seeing the kitten curled up on the floor underneath it. I think it's her favorite spot in the house! 

So what are the details you love most about your home? What makes you feel settled and "at home" the most?

Sunshine and 70's

Yes, it's sunny in MN right now. And, we are looking at seeing some high's in the 70's this week, but that's not the 70's that I was referring to, my friends.

I am just totally obsessed with the high-waisted 70's style jeans that are back in this season. In fact, I've actually been looking for a pair of these jeans for years. So either I'm ahead of fashion, or way behind.

After my post last week, I was out shopping again and stumbled on another pair of high-waisted jeans on clearance for only $9.99. Oh yes, I snatched them up.

The only thing that's annoying about these jeans is even if you have the slightest pooch on your tummy, it is magnified x100. Sad face. But, I think we are all way more critical of our bodies than other people are, so I've decided to just wear them proudly (and avoid pigging out on food while I do)!

Jeans: LUX
Top: Fossil (I'm in love with that brand)
Sweater: Pretty Good, from Marshalls
Belt: Mossimo, Target


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