Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Recipe Every Month of 2012: Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

I love Chinese food, especially orange chicken. So I was so excited to try and make it on my own, and lucky me, this dish turned out delicious. I served it over brown rice. Yum.

I always like to brine my chicken before putting it in a slow cooker because chicken tends to dry out really easily in the crock pot. If you don't want to brine the chicken, just check the chicken frequently.  Do not cook the chicken thoroughly in the skillet. The skillet is only to make the chicken crispy, the crock pot is for cooking.

Give it a whirl, I promise that it is yummy!

Song of the Day:  Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Amsterdam Trip Day 2: Tales from the "Kitchen Garden"

On our second day in Amsterdam (and my 26th birthday), we went out to the Dutch countryside to go to the Keukenhof and see the famous Holland tulips. First of all, I love how the Dutch language sounds, and Keukenhof is probably my 2nd favorite Dutch word (my first being onderduiker-a person in hiding), and Keukenhof literally means "Kitchen Garden".

We spent five hours there! And honestly you need five hours, just to see everything! The tulips were more beautiful than I could have ever imagined (and there were tons and tons in every color imaginable). But they had so many things to see and do at the Keukenhof that had nothing to do with flowers. They had a pipe organ, that not only played classics, but also modern day songs like The Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga.  They also had these very low step stones spanning across a pond that made you feel like you were actually walking on the water (it is amazing that I didn't fall in, as clumsy as I am).  And they had a nearly life-sized playable chess set, a petting zoo, art sculptures, and I saw my first ever Holland windmill (but no where near my last)! 

This had to be one of my best birthdays ever, and I really can't believe now I'm closer to 30 than 20! Where have all the years gone?

P.S.- Don't you love those high-heeled wooden shoes? Fashion in a wooden shoe!

Song of the Day: Time is Love by Josh Turner

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Amsterdam Trip Day 1: Two Americans Trying Not to Get Run Over by Dutch Bicyclists

The night before we were supposed to leave for Amsterdam, I didn't sleep a wink. Not that I didn't try, I really did. But I was just like a little kid the night before Christmas, too excited to sleep. Adam didn't sleep for an entirely different reason. No, he didn't sleep because he was TERRIFIED. Earlier that night, I spent two hours talking him off the ledge, while he was proclaiming that we were most likely going to die because we were flying OVERSEAS. Adam is terrified of flying anyways, but something about the longer flight had him flippin out.

So much so, that I really started feeling guilty for even suggesting the trip in the first place, and thinking that I might just have to go alone! At some point in the conversation, I even said, "Don't you think if we are going to die in a plane crash, it will be good that at least we go together?" But no he totally disagreed, and he said when the plane started to go down, he would definitely turn to me and mouth that, "This is all you fault." And yes, he was kidding.

I finally settled him down somewhat, and he calmed the rest of his nerves by sending out an e-mail will to our families, telling them what should happen with our wide-screen television and his Star Wars book collection in case we never made it back from The Netherlands.

We landed in Amsterdam early in the morning, after 36 plus hours without sleep. We exchanged our US dollars for Euros, went through customs, and headed down to the train station to figure out how to get to our hotel. We decided it would be less confusing to talk to a real life person working at the ticket counter instead of using the ticket machine. And believe it or not, the ticket counter guy sold us the WRONG TICKET. So of course we got on the wrong train, and only noticed when our hotel went whizzing past us. I guess this should have been annoying because we had to get off the train, buy a whole nother ticket, and get back on a different train. But I really do think getting turned around on vacation is one of the best parts of vacation.

When we finally got to the hotel, I was so relieved that they let us check in, even though it was uber early. Because I wanted nothing more than to take a shower! And now I must confess something to you that I'm ashamed of. I am a strong believer in staying up till it's nighttime in whatever country you are in because otherwise it is really hard to adjust to the new time zone. And I've always done that in past. But I'm older now (heck, I just turned 26) and boy oh boy were we tired.  So we pulled those black-out curtains and caught the best few hours of sleep I've ever had.

After our nap, we woke up and were more than excited and ready to head into Amsterdam City Proper. So we took the train to Amsterdam Centraal Station, which come on, a train station shouldn't be allowed to be so beautiful. It looks like a museum! I just couldn't stop staring at it. The next thing we noticed was all the bikes! I love that the Dutch people bike everywhere, it seems so much easier than driving everywhere. But the second thing I noticed is that the bicyclists are dangerous! I can't tell you how many times I wondered into the path of a bike, and I saw my life flash before my eyes! And maybe just once I got confused with the signals of the cross walk, and got overly excited, and pushed Adam into the middle of an intersection with oncoming cars and bikes. Which shouldn't be funny to me, but because I didn't kill him, it is KIND OF funny.

We walked around Amsterdam, snapping pictures and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Amsterdam looks like something from a storybook, it really is so picturesque with its tree lined canals. We decided to grab some dinner at a Dutch Pancake House. I got the Pear Pancakes and Adam got the regular pancakes. Dutch Pancakes are different from American pancakes, they are very skinny and long, the batter is sweeter, and instead of a stack, there is just one.  But very delicious, never the less.

After dinner, we walked down to Dam Square (which has the Royal Palace, a war monument, and Madame Tussauds), and when we rounded the corner and it came into view Adam said, "Wow, Wow, Wow." That touched my heart in so many ways, Adam is not always as outwardly expressive as I am. So to know that he was THAT impressed and excited about what he was seeing meant EVERYTHING to me. Later, he told me he couldn't believe he was in the Netherlands, and that he was a world traveler now. And at that moment, I knew this was going to be an amazing vacation. 

As the evening rolled around, it was time for our cocktail canal cruise. We spent a lazy two hours floating down all the different, stunning canals and drinking wine, mojitos, and cosmopolitans. So many cocktails that I had to stop because if I continued, I wouldn't have made it back to the hotel!

We learned the history of Amsterdam on this cruise (like that Amsterdam means, "Safety on the Water.") And we got to see the city in light and dark as the sun doesn't set till around 10 p.m. over there.  We cruised pass the red light district, and we even saw the Anne Frank House on the Prisengracht. I almost cried when I saw the building, just seeing something that has meant so much to me over the years made me emotional. We even saw the church, the Westerkirk, which she talks about in the diary.

One of the very last things we did was go under the skinny bridge. The legend has it that two sisters who lived on opposite sides of the river, built the original 1691 bridge, so they could visit each other. Although wealthy, they were not quite wealthy enough to afford a bridge of adequate width for general use, and so they built a very narrow bridge, hence its name.

When you go under the bridge, you have to close your eyes, make a wish, and kiss the one you love. Which was a perfect way, to end such a great day!

Song of the Day: Baggage Claim by Miranda Lambert

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An Online Link Love Book Vol. III

I really love looking at vintage photographs. Lately, I've been fascinated with these old photos of New York City and Brooklyn. Oh, how things change. But I love how you can still see how bustling of a city it really was, even back then.

I successfully ordered an Oreo Frappuccino off this Secret Starbucks menu last week. Not only was it delicious, it made me feel like I was such a winner that day.

This zillow (real estate listing) on The White House is super interesting. Like who knew the White House's last big remodel was in the 1950's? Or that it has a "mud room?"

A poignant personal narrative from someone whose marriage is ending at the age of 23.

I would love to stay in the Hotel Des Arts in San Francisco. It is a hotel where all the rooms are painted by a different artist. I would want to stay in the room of one of my favorite artists, Casey O'Connell.

I think grilled cheeses are just about the most perfect comfort food ever.  Here are 40 ways to jazz up the traditional sandwich.

Remember a few weeks ago when I complained about the ending of the movie Titanic? Well, I'm not the only one who feels like I feel. These two ladies opted to answer the "whether or not Jack could have gotten on the door with Rose" question by reenacting the disputed ending in a swimming pool, in period dress. Classic.

Hilarious Mcsweeny's article. The State Department's Official Travel Advisory for Your Mother's House

A funny article entitled Five Ways Saved By The Bell Ruined My Life. But they forgot one important one! Saved by the Bell gave me the impression that high school was nothing more than spending all day hanging out in the hall. Those kids were like hardly ever actually in class. Such a let down once I entered the 9th grade.

I think these little custom post-it note frames would make the perfect gift for a friend.

Song of the Day: Closer by Melissa Ferrick

Monday, May 14, 2012


It is one more day until we leave for vacation. And I will give you one guess as to where we are going. Give up? AMSTERDAM (and Holland in general).  I have wanted to go to Amsterdam for years and years. One of my favorite books is The Diary of Anne Frank, and I've always felt a strong connection to Anne, so I've always wanted to see the Secret Annex where she and her family hid during WWII. But it's not like the Secret Annex is the only thing Amsterdam & Holland has to offer.

We will be canal cruising. Going to see Holland's famous tulips at the Keukenhof Gardens (on my birthday none the less). Eating lots of cheese, chocolates, and Dutch pancakes. I want to see some Windmills and buy some wooden shoes!  And for some odd reason that I don't understand Adam wants to have a beer at a Dutch Mcdonald's! We may even sneak off to have a little peak at the red light district out of curiosity.

I just can't wait. Seriously.  And Adam can't wait either. But he is not as excited as me because he is so scared of flying! So I think it borders on spousal abuse that I'm making him fly internationally!! I've been overseas a few times but he never has. I'm trying to drug him with sleeping pills for the flight, but he says he wants to be alert in case the plane crashes. HA. I promised him that if the plane started to crash, he would be alert, no matter what medicine he had taken. Well, I promise I will be sleeping during the flight because I want to be ready to go, go, go when we land  the next morning.

So just out of curiousity, if you could go anywhere in the world, and money and time wasn't an issue. Where would you want to go and why?

Song of the Day: Leaving on a Jet Plane by Sister Hazel

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kermit the Frog's Birthplace

On my road trip back from Columbus, Mississippi, I decided to take a little break at a little tourist place in Leland, Mississippi, that I had driven by many, many times in the past. The Birthplace of Kermit the Frog (a.k.a the childhood home of Jim Henson). It was nothing but a two room building beside a swamp (the swamp that inspired one of the best songs ever, It's Not Easy Being Green)! But it was such a cute place with cute artifacts, and just the perfect little place to stop when you don't have a lot of time, but just need to stretch your legs a little bit. Plus, it is free, and I like free! Don't you?

Song of the Day: That's Not My Name by The Tings Tings

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

28th Birthday Celebration

Sunday was Adam's 28th birthday. Now Adam says he doesn't like his birthday but I call shenanigans because he always enjoys when I do special things for his birthday. And I'm always looking to do new, special things for his birthday. So this year I decided to surprise decorate the house after he went to bed.

This ended up being a lot more complicated than one would think. First, I had to make up some excuse and sneak off to the Party Supply store, and I had to find some place to stash the supplies. And then I had to stay up and wait for him to go to bed on Saturday night, he didn't even go to bed till 3:30! I was so tired that I just about needed toothpicks to keep my eyes open. I kept telling him, "I'm going to stay up all night, I'm wide awake," while yawning and sending out tweets asking the world why he would not just freakin go to bed already! Worse than that, after he went to bed, I only had about two hours to pull this off because he was getting up uber early to do some work from home the next morning.

So once he went off to bed,  I started tying the 28 balloons. That is hard work by the way, it actually bruised my finger! Not to mention blowing up balloons terrifys me because I have a balloon popping phobia. Do you remember when you would go to parties as a kid, and they would play that game where you had to sit on balloons and pop them? That game made me want to cry. Who knew decorating was such dangerous business? I then attached some of the balloons to streamers and hung them from the kitchen/living room entry way. Then to finish it off, I draped a Happy Birthday sign over the streamers.

Adam was so surprised when he stumbled awake in the morning and was really, really happy. He told me I always know how to make him feel special. I then crawled into bed at 6 a.m. and grabbed a few hours of sleep. When I woke up, I baked him a chocolate cake with my famous peanut butter frosting, and cooked him spaghetti for dinner, which we ate while catching up on episodes of Community. All in all, it was a really great day and I think he had a very special 28th birthday!

But now on to more important things like MY BIRTHDAY (just kidding) which is the 17th. Gosh, I love the month of May.

Song of  Day: I've Been Everywhere by Johnny Cash

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pretty in Yellow

This is our oldest niece Cassie with her junior prom date Dillon.  Once I saw this picture, I just had to post it because I can't believe what a stunner she has grown up to be! It seems like just yesterday she was two years old, running around with her pebbles hair-do, and hiding behind her mommy's legs because she was so shy. But she is 17 now, and she is almost a senior in high school.

She has grown up to be one smart, pretty, compassionate, and funny young lady. Both of our nieces are this way, they are just truly amazing girls. We are so blessed to have them and our baby nephew in our lives. I just can't wait to see where their lives take them, even if watching them grow up just means we are getting older!

Song of the Day: Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The W. and Columbus, Mississippi

I attended Mississippi University for Women (in Columbus, Mississippi) for four years. The W. has a BEAUTIFUL campus steeped in history and tradition and is located in a beautiful, historic small town. I went to Columbus last week to visit with most of my best girlfriends. We only had one night together, but it was a blast. How could it ever be anything less when we all get together?

The first thing I did when I got into town was go to the campus. And while I was driving around, I watched  all the girls hanging out together and walking to dinner.  And they looked just like me and my friends did just a few short years ago. And I had to wonder, do they know how special this place is? Or how special it will be to them after they graduate? I'm sure they don't because you never understand what something means to you until after it is gone.

Boy oh boy, I love that place. And even though, I wouldn't trade anything for how my life is today, sometimes I really miss that place. The W. is where I learned to accept the person I am. The W. is where I met my best friends, who really aren't even my friends, they are my sisters.  The W. was home of the late night doughnut runs, all-night board game fests, and dance parties. The W. is where I really fell in love with psychology and decided I wanted to be a therapist. The W. is where I started dating my husband. And back then,  Adam and I would stay up all night talking on the phone in my little hot pink dorm that was so bright it radiated a pink light outside of my dorm room (I didn't paint it).

So it is no wonder that place has a special home in my heart and I will always be proud to be a W. alumni.

Song of the Day: Poem to a Horse by Shakira