Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day

 We enjoyed a fun and eventful Memorial Day with friends and loved ones. Michael and I spent the morning lounging in bed, maybe for a bit too long, but it felt good! Then we went shoe shopping and did some errand running before the party we threw in the evening. 

We invited our new friends and neighbors, the Hadleys (Scott and Holly), over to join us, along with a few more friends. It was nice to get together and just have a day off to play. We definitely made the best of it...even though the weather would not quite cooperate for us to be outside the entire time!

I just want to give you a peek at what went down last night, making for a very fun and successful Memorial Day Party!

 There was some grill action. Burgers, Hot Dogs, and Pineapple. Yum yum.

We played Kinect Sports, as usual. It's so fun when everyone gets competitive even when it comes to bowling. Watching Michael and Scott duke it out on boxing was incredibly entertaining to watch. 
Once the weather cleared up, we donned our coats and went outside for a nice game of pétanque (in other countries referred to as bocce ball or boules). It was intense! I loved seeing the competitive and silly sides of everyone come out when we played. Hunter and Camille were on a team and he kept telling her to "clean it up"! Apparently, she was the finisher and a better player that he professed to be. And Scott would just fall over laughing when Holly would throw the ball badly. Then she'd tackle him. See? Funny!

Of course we finished the night off with another intense game, Pictionary. It was boys vs. girls this time, although the women were out numbered by one. Sadly, the boys were victorious, but I feel a rematch coming on in the future.

We really enjoyed ourselves last night and talked about how much we enjoy our friends and getting to know new people. We are really enjoying spending time with the Hadleys. Who knew they were so funny and that Scott was such a joker? Seriously, I laughed SO HARD last night because of some of the things he did or said with Holly. I love good friends and a good holiday which gives us a time and reason to spend with those we care about and remember those who sacrificed so much for our country. We are truly blessed to have freedom as a result of their efforts. I love the United States and the opportunities that are before me each and every day. God Bless America!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Anniversary Dinner

Michael and I will be celebrating our 2 year anniversary on Saturday and we can't be more excited! Since we are always in the process of being frugal, yet being creative so as to make events like this special, we have decided to stay home and grill up an amazing dinner for ourselves. Not only does staying home save us some dough, but it also ensures that our food is healthy and cooked exactly the way we want it to be!

 After some research, and a little planning; here are our plans for a special anniversary dinner. 

Pork Roast just happened to be on sale last weekend and I couldn't resist purchasing some as I have looked at this recipe for a long time in the OBB cookbook. What's more summer than skewers, with a little kick from some curry and cayenne?

Grilled Green Beans from Better Homes and Gardens.

Just like the pork roast, fresh green beans were also on a great sale last weekend. So, I picked up some of those too. I've grilled asparagus, romaine, and assorted fruits, but I've never grilled green beans before. I am looking forward to trying out this particular recipe. The combo of lemon, garlic, and jalapeno should be amazing!

I just discovered this blog the other day in a search for something to do with the large amount of bananas and apples that Michael's mom gave us last weekend. Cheryl is a genius on fashion, traveling, and definitely on food. I had never thought of making a crumble with apples AND bananas. But it sounds brilliant and incredibly appetizing. There is a recommendation for a vanilla cream sauce as a topper, but I'm thinking we'll admit that so we don't sacrifice those extra calories. I'd rather have more of a fresh focus on the fruit anyway.

So that's what we have planned so far. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we can do something fun outside in the evening. I'm thinking listening to some live jazz at Citrus and Sage sounds like a good idea.

What are your special plans for this Memorial Day weekend? Or what do you like to do for your anniversary celebrations (when they come around each year)? 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Afternoon Picnic

I brought Michael a little picnic lunch to his work this afternoon. I'll admit, that makes me a pretty good wife. Michael said that we should make this a tradition every week. Not everyday, just once a week during the summer and good weather. I like the sound of that! 
  We went to a little park with a pond, which is just down the road from one of his workplaces. There were a couple ducks and a few other families out there just enjoying the sunshine. It is a beautiful day today. We've had too much rain lately and I know we loved feeling the warmth that sunshine provides.
As you can see, I made sandwiches. Turkey Avocado Sandwiches with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Cheddar on toasted Whole Grain Bread to be specific. They were SO GOOD! Light, yet filling and completely satisfying with the varying ingredients. We both agreed that we loved the addition of avocado to a regular sandwich. It really makes it something special.

Oh, and sorry for the partially eaten picture, but I still wanted to show the sandwich to you even though I forgot to cut them in half and take a proper picture prior to partaking. (Haha. Say that five times fast!)
Anyway, we relaxed after our little lunch, as you can see. Michael shut his eyes for a little bit and I, well...
I took a silly picture of myself. No surprise there. A wonderful time was had by all.   

 Full and happy, we're prepared to take on the rest of the day. Michael's doing some work up on campus and I'm going to get my exercise on. We have plans for something active this evening, whether it be a bike ride, hike, or kicking the soccerball around. We'll see, but I'm sure it's going to be grand. Yay for beautiful clear weather!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dinner and a Movie

Michael and I enjoyed a classic "dinner and a movie" night yesterday. I saw it as an opportunity to try out a new recipe, one found on the Tasty Kitchen website. It's called Okinawan Takoraisu. Basically everything you need for a taco, except it's not served in a taco shell or with tortilla chips on the side, it's served over rice. The recipe called for sushi rice. Which I didn't have, so I used long grain white rice. Even though it wasn't as authentically Japanese as I'm sure sushi rice would've made, I think the general feeling of two cultures colliding was felt.

Basically, this was comfort food at its best. Not too heavy, but full of flavor. Our tummies were happy. For the recipe and a little bit of history, click here!

After eating a yummy dinner, we snuggled up on the couch and watched Part 1 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I liked it. Michael was not as interested because he's not a huge Harry Potter fan. But it was fun to sit down and enjoy a movie snuggled under a blanket together.

Pretty cool movie poster from it. The acting keeps getting better and better. And I really think the director did a good job this time around. I'm excited for the last installment, which is set to come out July 15th!

And here's a little preview for all you Harry Potter fans out there:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Basil Spaghetti with Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes

Yet again, another success from REAL SIMPLE. Michael and I made this for dinner tonight and it was incredibly yummy. Not only was it vegetarian, but incredibly easy. We felt like we were eating a gourmet meal at a fancy Italian restaurant, without the long wait and price-tag!

As with all REAL SIMPLE recipes that I've tried, I highly recommend this recipe for an easy and fast weeknight meal. Its light, garlic oil mixed with basil and pasta, then topped with some rather cheesy tomatoes is so good!

Basil Spaghetti with Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes

12 ounces spaghetti
3 large beefsteak tomatoes, each cut into 4 thick slices
3 TBS olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
salt and black pepper
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more, shaved, for serving
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
3/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving

  1. Heat broiler. Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain and return it to the pot. 
  2. Meanwhile, arrange the tomato slices in a single layer in a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet. Season with 1/4 tsp. each salt and black pepper. Dividing evenly, sprinkle the slices with the mozzarella and Parmesan. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. In a small saucepan, warm the oil with the garlic and red pepper over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic oil, basil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve topped with the tomatoes, additional basil, and shaved Parmesan.
Serves 4

On My Mind

 Just been thinking, planning, and scheming more and more lately about Tallahassee. Guess I'm anxious and really looking forward to our move there. Even though we're not super sure when we're going to move, I've been searching out apartments, wards, and other general info that will prepare us for the day when we load up our cars/truck/trailer (whatever we decide to use to transport stuff out there) and make the over 2,000 miles a.k.a 36 hours trip down there. 

It's exciting to have a change of scenery. We'll be leaving the dry desert with snowy winters for tropical weather and sandy beaches. It'll be Michael's first experience living in the South. I wonder how that's going to be for him. Maybe he'll pick up the accent. We all know mine will surely come back in a short amount of time. Which I'm really looking forward to actually :)

Nonetheless, I just wanted to share a few facts and bits of info about our soon-to-be new home.

Tallahassee is the capital of Florida and in the panhandle area. You can see it right up there near Georgia's Southwest border.  We are surrounded by water. Namely the Gulf of Mexico. 

 We have beaches just about an hour's drive away. Some are quieter and less "party" beaches than others. But no matter what, white sand and turquoise water are not too far away! I'm ready for some sunbathing and warm waters. And I've always wanted to do Yoga on a beach, maybe this will be my opportunity to try it!

 Look at all that green! I'll admit that the green is what I really miss about the South. I love Utah's mountains and the pretty snow, but my heart has always longed for more trees and lots of green grass and flowers that you find everywhere in the South.

Again, look at those trees and the green. I've missed the Oak trees that cover the roads like a canopy. Isn't that just a beautiful drive with the Spanish Moss draping down over the branches? I can see us taking morning and evening walks just looking at all the beauty around us. (And maybe an occasional slow Sunday drive!)

 Here's something that's going to take getting used to after 5 years here in Utah. Our closest temple is in Orlando, over 4 hours away. No longer will we have one just 5 minutes down the road, being able to attend a session whenever we want to. We'll have to make serious plans to attend a session, possibly filling a weekend with a few sessions just to catch up for the lack of close access. Course, my experience of growing up hours away from the nearest temple, did teach me to appreciate it more. I think this will be good for us. And as I've never been inside this temple (only viewed it from the outside), it will be exciting to see and to feel the Spirit there. 

That is always one of my favorite things about the gospel, it is true wherever you go. There are always people around who become like your family because of the same exact beliefs. We have a home wherever we stand. We're so looking forward to getting back to the mission field, and growing close to the Saints in Tallahassee. It will be a blessing in our lives, I know it.

Monday, May 16, 2011


 Right now, there is flooding in my home state of Louisiana and my current state of Utah. Weird. This is scary for all the families and their homes that are affected by this event. My hearts go out to all who are struggling with the disasters. Flooding is devastating, I know.

This particular bit of flooding is here in Cache Valley, the Blacksmith Fork River. We have had a really wet spring and over 200% snowpack this season, causing all the flooding. Who would think that in Utah of all places (a desert) we would be having problems with too much water?

This levee protecting 10,000 acres of farmland at Bunches Bend in East Carroll Parish, La., failed Friday, May 13, 2011, just as Gov. Bobby Jindal flew over the area.

They opened the Morganza Spillway in Southern LA as a means of saving Baton Rouge and New Orleans. It's better to floods thousands of acres of farmland and some homes in order to save the two largest cities in the state with the most dense population. Still scary and sad though. I'm just glad that all my family is safe and rather dry in the midst of all this.

All those who are not safe and in danger of losing their home and livelihoods are in my prayers. I wish I could do more at this time. But I'm afraid prayers are the best thing I can do this far away. It's sobering. Please keep those suffering in your thoughts and prayers, and if you are able, make a donation to the Red Cross or the Louisiana Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (there are many animals' welfare at stake too).

Saturday, May 14, 2011

8 happy things

This is just a little list of things that have happened lately to make me happy. Why the number 8? Not sure, but just wanted to share them with ya!

  1. I ran OUTSIDE the other day. For 3 miles. And my lungs weren't burning.
  2. I pulled out the summer clothes and put away the winter ones today.
  3. I put on a pair of summer shorts and they were looser on me than the last time I wore them. Which means I really have lost weight!
  4. We were finally able to take the shrink wrap off the windows this week. I opened the house and just let it all air out.
  5. I planted flowers in pots and in my flower beds at our apartment. And got some sun in the process. 
  6. Played soccer with my young women and it was really one of the best and most fun activities they said we've ever had. Sometimes simple is the way to go!
  7. Had a bonfire up the canyon. First dutch oven of the summer. With gooey s'mores. 
  8. Sang karaoke tonight with some ladies from our ward. It was a good time!

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tallahassee awaits us...

 I have officially been accepted to intern in the Music Therapy program of Big Bend Hospice!

How perfect was it that when Michael and I came home from some post-graduation celebrations on Saturday night, a letter from Big Bend Hospice was in the mail. I was super nervous opening it because this particular location was my first choice. I didn't think I'd get a letter for another week at least. I opened it, read the first line, "Thank you for your interest...." and moved on to the second line, "We are pleased to offer you...."! That's pretty much all I made it through because I knew it was official by those few words. 

I jumped up and down, screamed, and hugged and kissed Michael profusely. Probably not my most graceful or demure moment, but hey, it was a celebration! 

I have been on an emotional high since graduation on Saturday, which then got kicked up a few notches with my notification later that evening. Lots of preparations are to be made in this next little while. The internship doesn't begin until November and ends in May of 2012. 

We're searching for a job for Michael and hopefully will find one soon. That being said, we may move to Tallahassee in the next couple months, or it may not be until late October. I've been searching for apartments in the area (yippee for moving again) and have found that the prices are fairly comparable to here in Utah. Which is a really good thing. 

Michael and I are excited to begin this new chapter of our lives. It's scary, but we are encouraged because all along, we have felt good about this internship and location. We were talking the other night about how things in our lives have just fallen into place. Whenever a big decision that is possibly life altering needs to be made, the answer has been there, quite loud and clear. And we all know that the Lord provides a way for everything to come to pass. That's how we feel Tallahassee has been since the beginning and will continue to be. 

I'm looking forward to my return to the South, with family only 2 1/2 hours away in Gainesville, and more family only 7 hours away in Louisiana. I can't believe that it could be so perfect. And did I mention that the beach is just a short 30 minutes away? Don't even get me started on how much I love Florida beaches with warm water and white sand.

Michael's sister Jen has already joked about coming to FL for Christmas so she and the rest of the family can get away from the cold, snowy, Utah winter. In December, the highs average 66 degrees with the lows averaging 40 degrees. I'm game!

Mostly, I'm looking forward to this next step in our lives, a step that will lead us to great possibilities and promise for the future. We are moving on from higher education and stepping into the real world. I will actually be able to accomplish my dream of becoming a music therapist, and Michael, with his newest degree, will have better opportunities for employment in his field. We are turning the page and growing because of it. I love it.

Fare-thee-well Utah State!

Wow! Can't believe this is real!

Michael and I had a wonderful weekend of graduation. My mom, and his parents came to both our ceremonies and we had a grand ole time. We celebrated the fact that Michael is now "Master" Black. And I now have two bachelor's degrees.
It was very nice and the weather was perfect. Here are some highlights from the weekend!

 Michael making "the walk" to the Spectrum with his class.
Doesn't he look smarter already?

 The hooding ceremony. It's official now!

Michael's ceremony was on Friday and mine was on Saturday. So we were both able to attend and watch each other walk. It was perfect and so fun to cheer for him.
 My walk across the quad and to the Spectrum with my fellow music therapy and College of Arts people!

 Silliness with all our music therapy peeps. We've spent so many hours working towards this day, we tend to get a little crazy!

Sorry it's overexposed (bad lighting), but I still love this picture of me and Arianne. She is my fellow crazy double major. This girl helped me through it all. I love her more than words can say!

I call this my "can you believe it?" face. 

With Michael, my good looking and super supportive husband. Oh, and notice the pink shoes. They're my favorite. 

All in all, it was wonderful and I'm excited and nervous for the future. We are that much closer to being real grownups now. Yay!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Who's the best wife ever?

That's right. I finally gave in and gave Michael an XBOX 360 with Kinect. For his birthday and graduation of course. We have been loving it here at our home. And I'll admit, not only did I give in for him, I gave in for myself. When we played with the Kinect a few months back at a friend's house, I knew this game system was something that could actually be good for us. It's not just a "sit in front of the TV on the couch with a controller" type of game system. The Kinect is all movement powered and the few games they have out there are so fun because they get you off...the...couch!

Michael and I played the Kinect Adventures game that came with it, but we also bought Kinect Sports. We've been playing Beach Volleyball, Track and Field, Soccer, Bowling, Boxing (which I am amazing at by the way), and Table Tennis. It's the funniest thing to watch the recordings of our movements following a game. We're jumping, running in place, and moving all around to play the games. And I would be lying if I didn't tell you that we both break a sweat and have to stop for water breaks during game play. It's that good.

We played with Michael's parents over graduation weekend and I don't think I've ever seen his mom laugh so hard. She would almost fall over every time Michael's dad would run in place or do some funny movement during a game. We all enjoyed ourselves and now we've promised to bring the game system down to SLC for the next family gathering. I predict hours and hours of fun with the other siblings, nieces, nephews, and spouses.

So, who is the best wifey ever? I am. And I'll bet you one good game of Kinect Beach Volleyball to prove it. :)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Sweet Potato Foil Packet Tacos

I have to thank my sis-in-law Tina for introducing me to this recipe and to the blog from whence it hails. Seriously, I now stalk Perrys' Plate because everything there is fresh, healthy, and inspirational. I definitely will use it as a resource for cooking with kids. 

Anyway, these tacos are really good. The sweet potatoes are perfectly buttery and yummy. Plus, with the spinach, beans, and (of course) the sweet potatoes, this is the healthiest version of a taco I've ever sunk my teeth into.

Because it was such a success our first attempt, this meal has been put into our "usual" rotation and I'm sure it will remain there for a very long time. And because it's cooked in a foil packet, I'm predicting its use for camping this summer. Mmmm...roasting over a fire...gets me all excited just thinking about it!

You should really give this recipe a try. I will guarantee you won't regret it. For realz.

Sweet Potato Foil Packet Tacos

1/2 lb ground beef or turkey
2-3 T taco seasoning
1/2 cup tomato sauce (4 ounces)
1 can black, kidney, or pinto beans, drained
2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups total)
2 T butter
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole for garnish
6 12-inch long pieces of aluminum foil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Brown ground meat in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and beans. Set aside.

To assemble packets, spray the foil with non-stick spray. Place 1 cup sweet potato cubes in the center of each piece. Top with a small piece of butter (about 1 tsp) and a pinch or two of salt. Sprinkle some chopped spinach over the sweet potatoes, followed by about 1/3 cup of taco meat and sprinkle of cheese. Fold the sides in, then bring the top and bottom ends of the foil together in the center and fold, sealing the packet.

Repeat with remaining ingredients, placing the packets on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole.

Makes 6 servings.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

A French Birthday

I decided to make this special birthday a French theme because Michael loves France and as a result, so do I! I planned all the particulars for months with the help of my friend Natalie (fellow Six Star employee). We brainstormed and thought of all sorts of fun ideas, games and general mayhem. I think this party was the most fun I've ever had planning and executing. I'll admit, my main source of inspiration came from Stephmodo, one of my favorite blogs. She threw a similarly themed "Paris" birthday party for one of her children last year. I loved every bit of it, so I knew this was the perfect theme for Michael!

We dined on crêpes with bananas, nutella, strawberries, and whipped cream. Then I made an equally wonderful assiette du fromages (cheese platter). There was sliced baguette (and Triscuit) topped with either a choice of brie, emmental, havarti, chèvre, and a sharp white cheddar. 

Everything was labeled all cute and nice. I'm still enjoying the leftover cheese and crackers. I think the party favorites were the havarti and chèvre, because we had none left at the end. I personally loved the havarti and emmental. The brie...well I always relate it to the smell of an elderly person's home. It's something I'll eat, but I don't love. 

 There was also a game of "Pin the Béret on the Donkey". Michael turned me all around and faced me in the wrong direction. It was apparently HILARIOUS to everyone in the room. And if you see that smile on Michael's face, you can tell he loved it too. Glad I could make everyone laugh with my wandering... :) Bryant was the clear winner and received "French" Fries as his prize!

 Beautiful Camille. 

 We then had an Eiffel Tower building contest out of pipe cleaners. They look pretty cool huh? Andy was the winner and I forgot to give him a prize. Oops. It was going to be "French's" mustard or "French" fried onions.

 And then there was the "Show Us Your Best Mona Lisa Face" Contest. Here are some of the entries:

Dani was the obvious winner. If you look up the real thing, you'll be impressed, trust me. She received a can of "French" cut green beans. Seeing a theme here?

 We then sang "Happy Birthday" to Michael, watched the Disney version of Three Musketeers (I love Tim Curry and Oliver Platt), and just enjoyed ourselves in the French atmosphere for the rest of the evening. Fun and successful party? Bien sur!