Sunday, January 29, 2012

PUFF! The Magic New Year!

One of my favorite holidays has come to be Chinese New Year. There are multiple reasons. My favorite, beloved professor in college had quite a passion for the holiday and made sure all of us in the communication department acknowledged the holiday. Her excitement over what we saw as an obscure holiday made us love her all the more.

Another reason is two fold. My group of friends began a Chinese New Year's get together tradition a couple of years ago. Most of us are Kentucky-based but our newly married friends near Columbus, OH host the annual celebration. The road trip to their house in the middle of the Buckeye countryside always feels like a mini-retreat. It was on this first Chinese New Year celebration that sparks flew for my husband and I. (There's a reason we've dubbed their house "The Love Shack"...)

This year's celebration was anything but a let down, despite my brothers and hubster having a conflicting event. Our feast was unbelievable and props go to our hostess for planning and prepping the kitchen with all of the necessary supplies! 

The Chinese New Year Menu:


Fried Shrimp Wontons
Spring Rolls
Miso soup

Main Course
Shanghai Vegetable Fried Rice
Ginger Broccoli
Steamed or Baked Sichuan Duck

Chocolate Dragon Cupcake Cake

Almost all of the supplies used for dinner... I believe the spring rolls are missing...
Not to mention the 3 ducks Sara had pre-seasoned for us,
as well as the shrimp stuffing for the wontons she'd prepared.
She checked out a recipe book from the library
and had several authentic Chinese dishes picked out for our feast.

Everyone helped out in the meal prep,
making the 3 1/2 hours in the kitchen extra enjoyable!
We had to stir fry in portions because of the amount we were fixing
in order to feed 12 hungry bellies!

Our Chinese buffet, ready for us to dig in!
Don't forget dessert!! The year of the dragon!
A successful dinner is bound to leave a messy stove top!
The whole gang minus taken by our hostess who took the picture.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

You know you're getting old when.... EXCELLENT weekend goes something like this:

- Sleep in and wake up next to your hubster and then enjoy morning coffee and a slice of toast (from homemade bread)
- Tidy up the kitchen from the week's built-up mess with the hubby's help
- Box up and put away all of the Christmas decorations...again with the help of the hubs along with other house clean up/organization
- Hang pictures you've had stacked in a corner
- Rotate, fold and put away 3 loads of laundry
- Try a new recipe for dinner that utilizes garden veggies
- Attend a high school basketball game with your husband
- Wind down with a glass of wine on the couch rewatching an episode of Battlestar Galactica before heading to bed
Chicken, black beans & rice recipe from Better Homes & Garden.
Could have afforded to use more cayenne time!
- Attend church with the hubster and see family and friends
- Make a quick stop at the grocery (with the man)
- Heat up leftovers for lunch while the hubs preps soup to stew all day for dinner
- Make a batch (3 loaves) of homemade bread
- Visit with family who is visiting the Valley
- Make a batch of sugar cookies from scratch
- Vacuum, dust and other house chores
- Enjoy dinner with the hubs and head to bed early
Final step of the bread-baking process!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Look Both Ways

What kind of blogger would I be if I didn't make a post about my outlook on 2012 and all of my goals and aspirations? I mean, this tends to be the one post I get in most years!

So a quick look-back on 2011 and I think we know what it'll always be remembered for: THE WEDDING. Funny, though, that kicking off the year I had no clue that would be the case. If anything, I probably would have told you it might include an engagement. However, let's not forget some other major highlights:
  • My move back home to The Valley
  • Running my first mini-marathon
  • Moving out of the GLI offices at work and having our own space
  • Jon moving to Casey County and getting a job at Tarter
  • Our massive garden project, learning to can and make bread
  • Nic & Michelle buying their first house
  • Seth graduating from Bellarmine
My first batch of bread (there was a 3rd loaf
but we'd already demolished it!)

Survived my first mini with my sis!
 And I wouldn't exactly consider it a highlight, but the passing of Walter definitely put a damper on the year. Jon's best friend and a dog no one disliked and most actually loved upon their first meeting. Life without The Pig is not the same. I'm just grateful that Jon had him for the time that he did and while he got deathly sick in May, he held out until the fall when Jon was safely mine.
Little Man Bear Pig, Walter, Piglet, Waldo, Walt...
April 2008-Nov. 2011
On to 2012! Jon asked me what my resolutions or goals were and I can't say I have a big resolution. (Lose weight... run a I simply want to put our savings plan into action for our future house. Jon and I are very fortunate to have the nice (and cheap) living quarters that we do through the use of The Blue Bank Loft but the sooner we can be in a home, the better. We've laid out a pretty solid savings plan for 2012 and are setting up a new savings account strictly for the purpose of the house. 

It's so easy to have one thing after another pop up and take a hit on the checking account, but in a year, we want to see we've taken a major stride forwarding in this big adventure we are on. In addition to the savings, there are 2 other big steps for our house we've made. 

Thanks to my cousin Als who hooked us up with a friend who JUST SO HAPPENED to buy a house in Shelbyville that had a woodburning stove included that they have no desire to use. It doesn't stop there... It's the Jotul older Jotul 118 model (moose) that has been replaced by the Black Bear version. This is the same stove I grew up with in my home...and that everyone else in the family uses. After calling 2 Jotul suppliers, they run approximately $1600 on average. (I believe one guy told us suggested retail is just over $1700). That of course wouldn't include taxes. So this young couple sold us theirs for a great price and with the way those things hold up it might as well be new! We aren't really in need of it right now, but...
  1. It is a step towards the house we want and we can better design the layout knowing what stove we have.
  2. That's a big investment out of the way for much less than buying one new (not to mention the version we preferred over that available brand new.)
The second step we have well underway is designing. Now, I don't mean we nearly have it done--it's quite the opposite. But we have started regularly sketching out floor plans in a book I created to keep it all documented in. It's fun to see what we each come up with and prefer and feed off of those ideas. At the same time, it's sometimes fun to throw out everything and start with a blank canvas and see what new nifty ideas you come up with if you don't go with a particular idea you previously thought was a "must". Being that we won't be breaking ground in 2012 (that I can feasibly foresee), we have some time for multiple sketches and drafts!

Pinterest, I must add, is a great resource and tool for archiving thoughts, ideas and advice on the house-planning process!

Have a blessed 2012, everyone!