Monday, October 25, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things... vacations!

Every other month or so it seems that I catch the "travel bug".  I suppose this is better than catching the flu bug but it's also more expensive.  I've never been the kind of person who thinks "home" is the best place to be.  I've loved traveling for as long as I can remember (my parents have distant memories of me screaming in the car seat for hours).  Since my dad is an immigrant my parents never felt bound to keep us home either.  Praise the Lord.  I traveled without my parents to 3 different mission trips (2 in Mexico and 1 in Romania) all before I turned 19.  My parents were wonderful to let me go so far away.

I've had the privilege of visiting a few different countries and several states as well.  So my "favorite things" list of places I've been so far from best to good are:

1.  Trinidad and Tobago- I have NEVER been to a more beautiful tropical place than T&T.  Think white sand beaches, palm, mango and banana trees everywhere and shark sandwiches right on the beach.  The weather is beautiful and water is turquoise!  If I were "getting away" for a relaxing vacation the first place I would stop is T&T.

2.  Scotland/England- this is definitely my favorite "tourist" vacation.  You can do anything you could think of in London from shopping, to museums, to the arts.  There are many sporting events and castles and natural landscapes to see through the UK.  The food is delish and the views are stunning.

3.  San Diego- I figured I had better choose at least a few stateside options.  I got to go to San Diego in high school and loved it.  The city is beautiful.  Coronado Island is straight out of a movie.  I loved everything about it from the people, to the shopping, to the accessibility to great shops and restaurants.  I think this is a great place to go.

4.  Chicago- Chicago is my favorite US city to date.  I know people who hate it.  I think they're silly (unless of course you hate it- you're not silly, you just haven't seen the light yet).  Chicago is bustling (which I love)!  The view at night is incredible and there are SO many museums to visit.  A great weekend getaway= Chicago.

5.  Colorado- nothing says RELAX like my great home state.  I'm partial to the Cuchara Valley area as that's where my aunt and uncle live and where my family has vacationed in cabins for years and years.  It is quiet, undisturbed, and simply serene. 

What are your faves?

Monday, October 18, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things... at Christmas

I know, it's only fall and I have definitely and will continue to revel in that.  It's beautiful, but today's post is about my favorite things at Christmas.  I'm trying to narrow it down to 5 but seriously how is that possible with Christmas?

So, I'm going to be generic.

1.  Christmas music:  I like almost all shapes and forms of Christmas music.  I like the old Perry Como classics as well as that insanely powerful vocals of Mariah Carey's Christmas album and acoustic sets such as Chris Rice's Christmas Living Room Sessions.  The truth is, at Christmas time I pretty much listen to it all day every day.  And "at Christmas time" starts whenever I decide.  Sometimes it's in October, or November, or maybe even September.

2.  Christmas gifts/shopping:  We did the 5 Love Languages study in small group last year (loved that) and it turns out that I had a two way tie.  One of my top two was gifts so naturally I love shopping for people at Christmas.  I will spend more than I budgeted and buy anything I see that someone might like.  It doesn't stop there though, I love wrapping them and insist that the only wrapping paper I buy matches the colors or theme of my trees.  Lame?  Maybe.

3.  Christmas cookies: of all colors, shapes, and sizes.  I LOVE sugar cookie cut-outs, gingerbread men, anything really.  I'm like an old woman because I really do love cookie exchanges.  I love getting Christmas goodies and I love giving them too.  Yum!

4.  Christmas trees:  I have two but really want one of those tall, skinny, forest-y looking trees for the dining room this year.  I keep checking craigslist and clearance but haven't found one yet.  I like each tree to have matching theme/color ornaments.  I love going to Christmas home shows and seeing how people with lots of money decorate their trees.

5.  Christmas decor:  My favorite things come from craft shows... another attribute of old women, I know  but I can't help it.  I really love them.  My friend Brianna's mom makes stuff for craft shows and I've gotten a few (very few) things from her and love that stuff.

So there you have it.  Even though it's only October, here are my favorite Christmas things.

Side note: I got to baptize one of our church girls yesterday morning.  So awesome!  She is such an awesome girl.  I've enjoyed getting to know her so much and have loved watching her family come to know the Lord in the last year.  Congrats Mandy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things... blogs and websites

I'm an internet junkie.  It's true.  I spend my lunch break (like right now) reading blogs and interesting websites and such getting motivated to try new things etc.

So today my list is of some favorite blogs and websites.  You all probably know and use some of them yourselves.  But maybe you'll find some new hidden gem of a website that you never knew about.

1. Secretly I wish I was this woman.  Living on a ranch, making homemade deliciousness everyday, traveling all over the US on book tours and BlogHer events; does that not sound fantastic?  I love her sarcasm, genuine nature, and most of all her recipes.  She has a great technique of using pictures to explain a recipe.  Each step is documented in photos which makes it easier to tell if what you're doing is turning out right.  Some of my favorite PW recipes include: Chicken Parmigiana, Enchiladas, Cinnamon Rolls, and Fried Chicken.

2. This lady is so up my alley.  She buys things at Goodwill, garage sales, and Hobby Lobby clearance and makes things that look "Pottery Barn" worthy.  She has all sorts of tips and tricks up her sleeve.  I've started using some of them and can't wait to try more.

3. This lady gives "homemaker" a whole new definition.  Not only is she super mom, she also makes most of the furniture in her house.  Her website offers plans and prices for every piece of furniture she shows.

4. This is another fun one.  This gal actually lives in York, NE with her 4 boys and husband.  She homeschools, is super active in her church, is hostess with the mostest, AND cooks only organic, whole foods.  She shares recipes, menu plans, homeschool advice (which of course doesn't apply to me), and gives away lots of freebies.  Oh did I mention she also wrote her own preschool curriculum that our church bought and uses?

5. Again, I'm not a mom but this lady knows how to bargain shop.  They purchased their home WITH CASH, are devout followers of the Dave Ramsey way, they are minimalists in both wardrobe and lifestyle, AND she puts together all the store+coupon deals each week so I don't have to.

There you have it, my top faves.  What are yours?  I do LOVE a good blog.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things.... in my kitchen

I think we all have favorite things in the kitchen.  Some people LOVE their appliances.  Some people LOVE their cabinets, or flooring, or dishwasher or, I don't know but they love their kitchen.  Well my kitchen is the size of a walk-in-closet.  I mean that.  It is! So the things I love in my kitchen are not big things. 

1.  Kitchen-aid Stand Mixer- LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  Spencer bought this for me the first Christmas we were married.  We went out to look at Christmas lights and came home and it was just inside our apartment door.  Thanks Brett and Nicole for hiding it from me!

2.  Huge wooden spoons- I'm not talking about those $1 off-brand wooden spoons that can only be used to stir but not to sample because they are too shallow.  I got the most fantastic Paula Deen wooden spoons.  The "spoon" part of them is huge!  I got a long one (for big pots of sauce and soups) and a short one for smaller amounts of sauces and hamburger etc.  I don't even know what I'd do without those things.

3.  The "Stuffing Bowl"- When my Grandma died almost 3 years ago we all got to choose something of hers to keep.  I had requested the stuffing bowl from her long before she even got sick.  The stuffing bowl doesn't look like anything special.  It's a huge ceramic antique bowl.  It's the stuffing bowl because each Thanksgiving Grandma would make homemade stuffing (which I don't even like) in this massive bowl.  I think I love it for the memories most.

4.  My Dishes- I know that seems lame.  But I have a set of the most fantastic hand-painted dishes (dinner plates, salad plates, cereal bowls, and mugs) that I got from this little boutique shop at home.  They were all wedding gifts.  I can't get enough of them.  They have the most fantastic Tuscan colors and just make me feel warm and fuzzy.  Did I just say that about my dishes?  Yes, yes I did.

5. Glass Pitchers- I don't know what it is about glass pitchers that I love, but I do love them.  I've got 4 glass/ceramic pitchers.  One holds all my big utensils, one is decorative, and the other two are used for festive drinks like lemonade and punch.  I never would've bought them myself but am so glad to have them now.

What are you favorite "kitchen" things?

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

So... this is a SERIES!  of my favorite things.  For a little while anyway I plan to blog about a different set of "faves".

Today's topic: a few of my favorite deserts!

Zucchini cupcakes with caramel frosting- I found these on a website and had just purchased a fresh zucchini at the Farmer's Market.  I made these insanely good, bakery-worthy, cupcakes.  They were so fantastic that I made them again the next week.  The caramel frosting is enough to make me never want to eat frosting in a can again.  I make a little extra so I can clean out the bowl with a spoon.  I'm telling you... it'll change your life.

Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting- I love these!  I don't know what is so wonderful about pumpkin bars but they are fantastic.  And cream cheese frosting?  Hold me back!

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies- When it's cold, when it's hot, when I'm traveling, or when I'm staying home, nothing will beat warm chocolate chip cookies.  My mom's are better than yours.  Really they are.  And you can't write down her recipe because it changes every time.  There are some basic components but the flour is all about how the dough tastes and feels.  When its right, you just know it.

Cheesecake- I certainly have some favorites.  Homemade lemon is killer.  Although I love coffee cheesecake with a chocolate crust.  Spencer's favorite my fake Oreo cheesecake.  You don't even bake it.  It's easy as pie... well cheesecake... you get the point.

Fudge- Obsessed.  I'm obsessed with fudge.  I love all different kinds of fudge.  I can't go to those cutesy little towns with their precious little fudge shops without stopping by for a little sample... or a big sample if it turns out that I LOVE that flavor.  Fudge, plain and simple.  Love it!