Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Moving

We are in transition right now. It's crazy, but fun. We'll make the final move tomorrow instead of today as a huge snowstorm decided to come in and push our plans back. So, we're living out of boxes and using camping equipment to survive. And we're watching lots of MacGuyver to keep us entertained. Good times!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our First Christmas

Michael and I are happy to be celebrating our first Christmas together. We have decorations set up around our apartment and it makes everything so festive. The tree was given to us by Michael's mother and although it's not real, we have fixed it up and it is quite pretty!

My favorite decoration in the entire home. It helps me when I remind Michael of the rules associated with Christmas presents!

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When it snowed quite profusely a few weekends ago, I had to document the wintry conditions. It made it feel more like the Christmas season.

Isn't it beautiful? We have our very own large, snow-covered Christmas tree outside our balcony!

I love Christmas filled with the beautiful snow in Utah. "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"

Tearful Sunday

On Sunday, I was released from my calling as a Sunbeam teacher, owing to the fact that Michael and I are moving back up to the frigid weather in Logan. So many people in the ward said goodbyes and shared their love for us being a part of the ward family. I was fine through all that, but then...Primary.

I walked into Sharing Time and Sis. Harmon (the Primary President) reminded everyone that it was my last Sunday with them and publicly stated how grateful she was that I was able to be a teacher for the Sunbeams. Then, the custom of having the Primary sing the favorite song of the teacher who is leaving happened. I, of course, chose "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus". This has been my favorite Primary song forEVER and it always makes me cry. Needless to say, as soon as the music began, I got a lump in my throat and tears began to fill my eyes. The singing was beautiful, especially coming from my sweet Sunbeams and I was touched. I held back the tears so I wouldn't embarass myself by losing it in front of the children, but I must say it was a special moment.

After class was over and parents were picking up their children from the room, each one of my Sunbeams ran back and gave me a hug. It was precious. It's amazing how much love you can feel for those darling spirits you teach and see each week. I feel so blessed to have had a small part in their gospel learning, I only hope I impacted their lives as much as they have mine.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hold On by Michael Buble

I've been listening to this CD and song like "crazy" lately. And this song just amazes me. I actually cried a decent amount of tears when I first heard it. It made me think of "My" Michael and how grateful I am that he came into my life, making my everyday new and extraordinary. I never thought I would feel so strongly about someone and love someone so much as I love him. Michael has an outlook on life that inspires me to be better, to leave the past behind, and move forward with confidence and a smile. He is my life, my love, my fan club, and my best friend. I know we've only scratched the surface of our potential as an eternal family, but I'm assured that even though our future won't be perfect, "it's gonna be alright" as long as we "hold on" to each other.
Here are the lyrics for your enjoyment:

Didn't they always say we were the lucky ones?
I guess that we were once, babe, we were once
But luck will leave you cause it is a faithless friend
And in the end when life has got you down
You've got someone here that you can wrap your arms around

So hold on to me tight
Hold on to me tonight
We are stronger here together
Than we could ever be alone
So hold on to me
Don't you ever let me go

There's a thousand ways for things to fall apart
But it's no one's fault, no it's not my fault
Maybe all the plans we made might not work out
But I have no doubt even though it's hard to see
I've got faith in us and I believe in you and me

So hold on to me tight
Hold on, I promise it'll be alright
Cause it's you and me together
And baby all we've got is time
So hold on to me, hold on to me tonight

There's so many dreams that we have given up
Take a look at all we've got
And with this kind of love
What we've got here is enough

So hold on to me tight
Hold on, I promise it'll be alright
Cause we are stronger here together
Then we could ever be alone
Just hold on to me
Don't you ever let me go

Hold on to me, it's gonna be alright
Hold on to me tonight
They always say we were the lucky ones

It's Official...


We're moving back to Logan!

Michael will start his graduate program at Utah State University in Management Information Systems this coming spring semester. I will continue with double bachelors in Vocal Performance and Music Therapy.

We're excited to be back in the frozen winters of Cache Valley as we increase our knowledge in our selected fields of study. We've found a nice little townhome to rent while we are there and are planning on moving right after Christmas so we can get a jumpstart on life in Logan before the new semester begins. Also, we're thrilled to be back in the town where we can get our Aggie Basketball fix.

Everything has fallen into place for us to be there, so we feel that it's meant to be. It's going to be quite the adventure as we are not fully sure what lies ahead, but we have faith that it will all work out for the best!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Finals Week

STAT 1040 - Monday
Social Psych - Tuesday
Practicum - Tuesday
Vocal Jury - Wednesday
Music History 2 - Thursday (7:30 am!!!)

And there you have my week of finals. Did I mention that my Practicum Final Report for this semester was due last week and was almost 100 pages? They are trying to kill us/prepare us for internship and real life as a music therapist. Sometimes I just feel it's the former.

Anywho, the party will start as soon as that crazy early final is over on Thursday! Good luck to anybody else who's experiencing the lack of sleep, nail biting, and crazy finals grunge!

FAST Christmas Party


Oh boy, was this weekend fun! Michael and I went to his work's Christmas party at La Caille (the most amazingly beautiful, nice, exquisite, expensive, and delicious French restaurant) in Sandy, UT! It was a fun excuse to get all "gussied up" and go out for a wonderful dinner. We had appetizers, our choice of salad, Ribeye Steak or Miso Glazed Salmon, and Crêpes or a Trio of French desserts. Naturally, Michael and I chose the Ribeye and the Trio of Desserts, which consisted of a Chocolate Chantilly Cake, Crème Brûlée, and Beignets. Wish I had pictures, but we were so busy enjoying our dinner, that there was no time for pictures!

Afterward, a large group of us "FASTees" went to the Gallivan Center for some outdoor ice skating. It has been about a decade since I last put on ice skates and tackled the frozen floor, so I was excited to reacquaint myself with a long lost love. Michael has grown up doing this, so he was a pro and held my hand throughout the night. He actually told me I was doing really awesome, of course, that was true until I slipped and fell flat on my knees. Figures eh? I believe I screamed a pitch that is so high it might've hurt dogs ears. :) One thing I must add though, that was the one and ONLY time I fell throughout the night. Michael and I "high-fived" about that fact.


It was freezing as Michael and I skated around, laughing and giggling like little kids. We have so much fun together. Michael said I had a "perma-smile" on my face the whole evening. Love that boy.


Michael strutting his stuff. We danced the Hokey-Pokey, Cha-Cha Slide, and The Macarena while skating around. There might have been some ultra cool booty shaking going on throughout. (TMI???)


Just before we left. By the way, I made that beanie with my own two hands! I've been cranking them out for Christmas presents like crazy lately. Keeps me busy and happy in my spare time :)

video
And a cheesy video of me. Enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Break!

Thanksgiving Day:
We ate too much and brought home even more to devour over the next few days.

Day After Thanksgiving:
Then, the day after Thanksgiving we woke up around 4:30 to head out on our BLACK FRIDAY shopping adventure! We scored some sweet sleeping bags for $10 each at Sports Authority. And they are the kind that zip together...camping is going to be even more fun now ;) We went to Kmart and stood in line in the freezing cold until the store opened at 6 a.m. I was shivering and Michael was sweet enough to go back to the car and grab a blanket to wrap around me while we waited. We met some hilarious people in line and, sadly, were not shocked when people decided to skip line when the doors opened. Amazing how people go crazy and lose their senses at such times, over just a few items for Christmas. It made us realize how important it is to remember why we celebrate this season and what our focus should be on. We only purchased some Christmas decoration items for our tree and such because Kmart had a 50% off sale going on! We then headed to Target, which was even more of a madhouse, and perused their Christmas items also. [By the way, they have the cheapest lights around in case anybody is curious or in need]

After all the shopping in Layton was over, we headed to Michael's parents in Taylorsville for a little visit and to pick up the Christmas tree they had waiting for our use! Marlene loves Christmas and loves to decorate with trees and all sorts of pretty things around the house, so she had a tree to spare! We did some more shopping around town, then ate leftover Thanksgiving dinner there. The gravy...and the mashed potatoes...ok, must move on...

Michael worked on "Blanche" the CR-V, flushing the radiator and changing the oil while I attempted some homework. [Actually, I took a 2 1/2 hour nap, which was totally unexpected!] I almost forgot, we picked up a dining room table from Tina and Kelly, as they needed to get rid of their old one and asked if we wanted it. We said yes! It's beautiful, a dark mahogany and seats 6 comfortably. We fell in love and are so grateful for wonderful family members who treat us so well! While the boys were loading the table into the car, I was able to hold the newest addition to their household, their sweet baby girl. She's only a few weeks old and was all bundled up and sleeping while I sat in the chair holding her. Just beautiful and perfect and looks just like her big sister! What a blessing :)

Later that evening we hung out with some old friends of Michael's from high school. It was fun to meet them and get to know them all better/see where they are currently in life. We had a group of people who are pursuing a bounty of different and exciting careers and interests, yet we all combined for a good night of games and pizza. It was a fantastic day. Definitely up there for favorite Thanksgiving holidays ever in my book!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Crêpes


 
Yes, Michael made crêpes for us on Sunday night, with the new crêpe pan we purchased from Kitchen Kneads, seeing as we still had some money from our wedding lingering there. They were light and addictive. No pictures of the actual assembled products of ham and cheese for dinner, then banana and chocolate hazelnut spread for dessert... ;) We sorta devoured them on sight because they looked and tasted "oh so delicious"!


We can't wait to make them again...they were a rousing and filling success!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lucky Find


While Michael and I were in Logan yesterday for a dear friend's wedding, we remembered that we needed to do a bit of grocery shopping before heading back to Layton. We stopped at Smith's Marketplace to pick up a few items, and while we were walking through the meat section, Michael noticed a 20-dollar bill on the floor. It looked like it had been run over a few times with shopping carts, and probably trampled under several pairs of feet. We looked around for an owner, but there was no one in sight.

It's always hard to know what to do in this kind of situation where you don't see anyone actually drop their money right in front of you. We knew that we didn't need or want to keep it for ourselves though. It was also quite a decent amount that we knew someone would really be in need of. So, we decided that when we reached the register, we would keep our ears open and our eyes peeled for anyone who realized that they lost $20. If we didn't notice anything, then we would put the money in a charity donation box by the register.

We reached the register and proceeded to check out, not hearing or seeing anything that would clue us in to the owner of the money, so we placed the $20 in the box for Primary Children's Medical Center. Not even 1 minute later, did Michael overhear the lady in the line next to us exclaim in confusion and frustration that she couldn't find the 20-dollar bill she had brought in the store with her. He turned around and asked to confirm if she had lost her money, making sure he heard her correctly. She was the owner of the $20! We told her that we didn't know what to do if we didn't hear anything, so we just put it in the donation box at our register. We asked the cashier, who saw us put the money in, if the box could be opened and the lady given her money back. They found the key and the $20 was returned to its sweet and grateful owner.

What a blessing it was to take part in this bit of service and make someone's day brighter. I'm so glad that Michael listened closely and was able to hear this young mother's exclamation, pinpointing to whom the money belonged. It is my hope that we'll always be willing to choose the right and be examples of Christ in our everyday encounters with his children.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Busy Week


Michael takes the GRE today. If all goes well, we'll both be in school at USU in the coming semester. This semester of commuting has been interesting, but I've been lucky to have days at home after my really full days in Logan. Michael has worked so hard to support us with his job and he's wonderful. Things are unsure as of now, we might be moving to Logan in mid-December, or we might still be here in Layton. If we are still here in Layton, I will have to commute to Logan 5 days a week because of circumstances of school beyond my control.

They always say that the first year of marriage is crazy and unexpected and we've definitely had our share of those kinds of things. Learning patience and exercising our faith has been BIG in this family. Alas, it will all work out and in the way and time of the Lord.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Date Night and Quiche Lorraine



For our usual Friday date night, Michael and I decided to check out the night life in Ogden. We heard there was supposed to be this cool Art Show/Music scene on Historic 25th street and it actually turned out to be a bust. But, we decided to walk up and down the street then peruse the trains at Union Station, where we took our engagement pictures.


The wheels on the old steam engine were 6 feet tall. I couldn't even hope to reach their height!

We ate the best home-cooked Italian meal at this restaurant. Michael and I remembered the wonderful smell wafting down the street as we walked around taking our engagement pictures. We knew it was only a matter of time before we HAD to go and sample the goodness.

The sweetest little Italian woman and her husband own the restaurant and have since they moved from Naples years ago. We ordered the Tour of Italy for two which consisted of Chicken Parmesan, Meat Calzone, and Pasta with Alfredo Sauce. The breading on the Chicken Parmesan was light and crispy and the Alfredo sauce was phenomenal. We will surely be returning in the future, NEAR future I hope!

The other night we made Quiche Lorraine. The crust was made from scratch and was flaky and buttery. And the rest of the wonderfulness was, well, wonderful. We will surely be making this recipe again, thanks to Betty Crocker!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Emma design by Pottery Barn

Aren't these just beautiful? I love the classic simplicity of the dots, and the soft tones. Wish I had a way and means to buy the yellow for my blue and yellow kitchen, as it's all on sale right now. Alas, one can always dream!
{Cake Stand}
{Yellow Dinnerware}{Teapot}
{Footed Fruit Bowl}{Gravy Boat and Butter Dish}

Bookshelf Love

I can just picture this adorable tree in a child's room. It can be found on this website, by Korean designer Shawn Soh. I would love to make this a DIY project someday, hopefully for a future child's room. Isn't it just the cutest?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Halloween Party & Cookie Decorating

This was my "frumpy housewife" costume, which I wore to the church's Halloween Carnival. Complete with pasta spoon, nightgown, apron, leggings, toe socks, and disheveled hair. I thought it was suited for my first year of marriage, as they always say that "once a girl gets married, she lets herself go!" [The grownups loved it, whereas the kids really didn't quite know what to think :)]

Michael and I hosted a Halloween party at our apartment that night for a few friends, and we decorated sugar cookies while watching Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho". You'll see some of our creations below...
[By Rebecca]
[By Michael]
[By Kyle, Shandra, and Russell, notice the half-eaten cookie]
[By Hilarie]
The ghost cookie, which just happened to look more like a pig.

This is Russell, the son of some new friends in the complex. He loved his cookies!

I think Michael's enthusiastic smile expresses the fun we all had that night! It was great to become like kids again and decorate cookies however our imaginations directed us!

Oh, and this is a shout-out to my brother...I made a "Joker" cookie. I think it came out pretty well!

Rebecca's 22nd Birthday!

I had a very nice 22nd birthday, made sure by friends and family! On Saturday, Michael and I went to Logan and my mother bought some clothes for me and also took us out to Texas Roadhouse to eat. Michael made me get on the "saddle" that they reserve for the birthday people, and everyone yelled "Yeehaw!" for me. It was funny and interesting :)

On Sunday, The Black side of the family came over to our apartment for cake and ice cream. We had a full house of 3 children and families playing and running around!

The ice cream was Cookies and Cream flavor, my favorite. We still have some left in our freezer and we're trying very hard to find ways NOT to eat it!

I got an assortment of wonderful gifts from the Black side of the family, including this beautiful scarf from my sister-in-law Jennifer. I must confess, I LOVE SCARVES, and this is a new favorite! It's soft, pretty, and blue, a color I have always been fond of.

My birthday weekend was finished by a spicy meal of homemade jambalaya. I'd been dying to make it from scratch for some time, and this was a perfect excuse to get cooking! I actually had real Andouille sausage to use in the recipe, as I brought it back from our trip to Louisiana in July. The spice, heat, and flavor of the authentic Cajun sausage made all the difference. All in all, it was the best birthday I could imagine for my first year of marriage! Relaxing, fulfilling, beautiful, and yummy!

Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya
(Adapted from Emeril Lagasse 2002)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped bell peppers
1 cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 pound of andouille or kielbasa sausage (cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless white and dark chicken meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 pound country ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 bay leaves
3 cups medium-grain white rice
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup chopped green onions, green tops only
1/2 chopped fresh parsley
Directions:
  1. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron Dutch oven, or large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 3/4 teaspoon of the cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are very soft, 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot to loosen any browned particles, until browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Season the chicken with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne. Add the chicken and the bay leaves, and cook, stirring, until browned, about 6 minutes. Add the ham and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the stock, stir to combine, and cover. Lower the heat to low and cook without stirring until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered, without stirring for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the green onions and parsley, and serve immediately.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Notes:
- Andouille is hard to find outside of the South, I just use kielbasa and it tastes fine. 
- I sometimes like to add shrimp, so depending on allergies/preference, you can too. Just reduce the chicken by 1/2 lb. and add 1/2 shrimp instead. 
- This is really good served with homemade crusty bread and a salad. Finish off with some bread pudding or pecan pie and you have an authentic Cajun meal!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

Last weekend Michael and I decided we really wanted to carve some pumpkins and our neighbor Amy who lives just below us wanted in on the fun too. So we spent our Saturday night designing and carving these festive masterpieces!

Amy is a science teacher and decided that she wanted to carve the eyes of her pumpkin to match the shape of a particular element. Can't remember which one though...I'll have to get her to remind me :)

Amy's finished product! She liked the fact that her pumpkin had a cool "scar" on the front, so she incorporated it into her design. Looks authentic huh?

Since the pumpkin didn't have a stem on top, Amy decided to be creative and carve a witch hat out of the back for cleaning and candle access. Brilliant idea!

Here is Michael thinking really hard as to how he would execute his design.

My first pumpkin before I cleaned out the insides. Kinda looks like it's "puking" its guts huh?

Michael's finished product, with Frankenstein-esque stitches on the side!

Did I mention that Michael and I couldn't resist buying 4 pumpkins instead of 2 because they were so small? Well, we did buy 4 and, as a result, were able to be a bit more creative with our 2nd designs!

My cute little ghost...

Michael's "slightly" scary tree!

Our nieces and nephews were able to see all the jack-o-lanterns lit on Sunday. They thought it was super cool! I guess we think so too!