Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"A little pneumonia"

My apologies for my silence of late, friends. It turns out I have a little pneumonia, as the doctor said. He gave me some antibiotics, so I should be good as new in about 5 days. Until then, it's soup and tea and lots of couch time. Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

10 things to be happy about 2/21

It's been a while since I wrote up a "ten things" post, and I think that makes me pretty overdue for one. For that matter, it's been a few days since I've posted anything. I'm not sure where my lack of motivation comes from. I guess sometimes I just don't have anything to say. Or maybe I have so many things going on in my head that I can't pluck just one of them out to write about.

Anyway, here they are, in no particular order:

1. Winter sunsets. Is there anything more beautiful?

2. Jim and I are, once again, spending about a week up at the vineyard. I can't explain it, but being up there just feels like home. Maybe it's the amazing house, or the breathtaking sunsets (see above), but somehow I think it probably has more to do with the fact that we're surrounded by "family."

3. I got a cute new dress yesterday! With less money than usual, new things become more and more exciting. It's so cute and springish. I need to find a cute belt to go with it though. My brown one might go, but not the black one...


4. Trying not to jinx it, but I'm so excited! I might have a wedding to co-photograph in May. Crossing fingers, knocking on wood and searching for 4-leaf clovers!

5. I got my new camera bag! It was love at first sight! It looks more like a purse than a camera bag AND it fits all of my stuff! And it's purple! The love never ends...


6. There's promise of a delicious fish sandwich for dinner tonight. We're going to Jim's parents' house for his brother-in-law's birthday dinner. And his step dad is cooking, which means this fish sandwich is going to be off the hook!

7. Do you ever get that feeling like things are moving around you? Like little bits of your life are falling into place, but you might not necessarily be able to see the big picture yet? Am I getting a little too deep here? Anyway, I feel like that's happening. And I'm kind of excited for the big picture to come into focus.

8. I am an organization freak. And I'm in the middle of the most wonderful pantry reorganization! I'm a little giddy about it.

9. Bear with me, I'm a little behind, but I just discoveredjumped on the Pinterest bandwagon.And I've been uploading my own photos. And it's an INDESCRIBABLE feeling when someone repins my photo on a board labeled "awesome photography." It's the most amazing validation ever!



[caption id="attachment_623" align="aligncenter" width="686" caption="I know, I'm lame, but look at the caption! eeep!!!"][/caption]


10. You knew he was coming! MY HUSBAND. Since he's been out of work, I haven't had to clean the kitchen more than..maybe twice. I could get used to this! But aside from the cleaning, he keeps me going. He's my best friend, the love of my life and I'm not sure how I ever lived without him.

Our first dating anniversary

Okay, so I have more than 10 today!

11. We got Weekend at Bernie's! We lost our copy a few months ago and we found it on sale for $4.99 at Best Buy on Sunday! Woo Hoo!

I hope everyone is having a lovely week!

Friday, February 17, 2012

A roller coaster of a week

Phew. I was seriously starting to think Friday would never get here. This week has been...hard...to say the least. In fact, I'm not even sure I'm going to get this post finished. We shall see.

...It's been roughly 5 hours since I started writing this post, and it's not looking like I'm feeling terribly inspired, so I'm going to share some of my photography with you instead.



I hope everyone is enjoying this lovely springish day! I'm hoping this weekend rejuvenates me so I can be back to my normal self next week!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Potato Soup

I've been sitting on my new potato soup recipe for a couple of days now. Why I have yet to post it, I'm not sure. Probably just laziness. Oh, I know. Because I made it Friday night and we just talked about how I don't post on weekends, so there ya have it. Anyway, the soup is pretty dern delicious. It's a variation on a potato cheese soup I've made forever. I think I like it better.


Potato Cheese Soup

3 russet potatoes, chopped

2 shallots, chopped (or more or less depending on how oniony you want it)

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 tbsp butter (or Earth Balance vegan spread)

3 tbsp flour

2 cups milk (or soy milk)

1 can vegetable broth

a handful of cheese (I used low fat mexican from Trader Joes)

salt and pepper to taste

 

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook your potatoes till they're softish. In the meantime, combine the butter, shallots and garlic in a soup pot and cook until butter is melted (the shallots are milder than regular onions, so it's okay if they are still a little crunchy). Add the flour and stir until it makes a thin paste. Slowly add the milk. Stir frequently until the mixture begins to thicken (usually around 4 minutes). Add the cheese, salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low.

Drain your potatoes and put about 3/4 of them in a blender. Add about half of the vegetable brother and blend until creamy. Add potato/broth mixture to cheese mixture. Add the rest of the potatoes to the soup. Simmer as long as you'd like. The longer it cooks, the better the flavor. But remember to keep stirring and keep it on low.

 

I served it with some sliced tomatoes and a slice of french bread. Jim really enjoyed it, and it was great for lunch the next day.

Lovey Lovey Day

Well yesterday was the day of love, and while it had it's lovey moments, it was actually quite a difficult day. My dad is in town, which automatically multiplies my stress level. My body was feeling beat up between fighting a bladder infection, being super exhausted and the tension building in my neck and shoulders.  By the time I got home from work, I was ready to just fall into bed and forget the day ever happened.

But we had a date planned, and I couldn't just bail on my husband, plus, it kind of brought me out of my funk.

Since Jim isn't working, we decided to try something new this year. With $20 each, we went to the mall and split up for about an hour to pick out as many little gifts as we could within our allotted budget. It was so much fun! I think Jim was a little overwhelmed because he doesn't spend much time at the mall and he didn't know where to go, but he did good!

He got me this tea infuser mug, along with a tea bag strainer and a cute little glass fish named Joy the Koi. But my favorite part was the mug. This is what it said on the side of the box:

The flowers in bloom on this lovely infuser mug represent the beginning of beautiful things. Fragrant white flowers and two happy birds, leaning on each other, symbolize the harmony between newly-married couples and wishes for happiness in life in the future.


Isn't that amazing? He said he didn't even read the side of the box, but how perfect for our first Valentine's Day as a married couple?

After we'd made our purchases, we went home and he cooked dinner...nothing special, just some sausages (veggie for me) on the BBQ and a salad and some pasta-roni (I can't help it! I love that stuff!). Then we opened our gifts. I got him a couple of pieces of Godiva chocolate, a sushi mat, a tiny puzzle, a parachute penguin (you know, the kind with the plastic parachute and you throw it in the air and it glides down?), and a Slushy cup from the As Seen on TV store.

And then we went to bed.

Like I said, nothing major or exciting, but we spent it together and that was what counted.

How did you spend your Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekend Schenanigans

I don't post on the weekend. I've come to realize and accept this. I'm just too busy, whether it be out and about having adventures or simply spending a relaxing Saturday on the couch catching up on Gossip Girl. I spend five days a week, roughly 7 hours a day in front of a computer screen. My eyes need a break!

This weekend, Jim and I decided to do something different. In fact, we decided that every other weekend we're going to do something different. We got to talking and it seems like we always do the same thing on the weekends...granted, up until the past few weeks, Jim had been working Saturdays, so Sundays were our only day together and he really wanted to rest from his work week. But we decided every other weekend, we're going to try something new and we're going to take turns deciding what that thing is.

It was my turn first and I found us a fun event to go to in Clarksburg at the Old Sugar Mill. The mill houses six different wineries, and they were doing a Port, Wine and Chocolate event for Valentine's Day.


The building used to be a working sugar mill, and now it's been transformed into the Clarksburg Wine Company. They also do weddings, I guess, in the other side of the building, which is adorably run down with broken windows and exposed brick. I love it. I don't wish we'd had our wedding there because I LOOOOOVE our own winery, but it would be cool to attend one there.



Like I said, there were about six wineries that participated in the event, so as you can imagine, we left the event with quite a bit of wine in our systems! Jim, fortunately, is 6'4 and doesn't feel the effects as much as I do, so he was fine to drive.


On our way home, we stopped just on the other side of this cute little bridge to take a few pictures.



The rest of the evening, we spent at Jim's brother's house, catching up on the Bachelor (the girls) and working on DJ's truck (the boys). We made tacos for dinner, and sat around the kitchen table laughing at the kids and chatting like normal people do over dinner (we usually eat in front of the television!).


On Sunday I met my good friend, Jenny, for coffee in the morning. We hadn't had the chance to talk since before the wedding, and we both had lots of catching up to do!


In the afternoon, we drove up to the vineyard to visit with BJ and Ashley and help with a project we started with them over a month ago. It's always so enjoyable to go up there. The time just floats away as if on a cloud and even when we're "working," it still feels like fun.


This morning I arrived to work feeling a little under the weather. But my mood was brought up exponentially when this little guy arrived.



How could you NOT smile?!


He had fun playing with his Uncle Jim.



And then my mom came and picked him up, and Jim left, and I was left alone with my computer screen once more...and of course, nothing to distract my mind from remembering that I wasn't feeling well.


Now I'm still sitting here, except I've got a giant glass of bubbly water and 100% cherry juice (I'm feeling an impending bladder infection. Yuck), and all I want to do is go home and lie on the couch and...well, that's as far as I've gotten but the situation has got to start looking up at that point, right?


How was your weekend? Did you try anything new?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Are you a red or a white?

I was talking to my father-in-law last night about wine. He manages a restaurant and I brought him a sample from Rome Valley last week to taste. It was, however, a white wine and when I asked him last night what he thought about it, he said it was a good wine, but he didn't like whites, which brought us into a whole conversation about how some people are reds and some are whites.

And that was the way wine consumption was presented to me several years ago when I started drinking it myself. I latched onto whites first (probably because it was summer time) and immediately garnered myself the label of "white."

[caption id="attachment_582" align="aligncenter" width="324" caption="At RVV's wine release party at Disneyland's Club 33 last summer, chardonnay in hand"][/caption]

But you wanna know something? I like red wine probably just as much if not more than I like white. To be entirely honest, I'll take pretty much any wine you hand me and enjoy the heck out of it. In fact, my favorite two wines are pinot grigio, a white and barbera, which is a red. I am an equal opportunity wine drinker.

But my mom? She's a red for sure. My brother? Red. Jim? Red. My friend Stacy? White.

It makes me wonder why people only like one or the other? They say wine is an acquired taste, so doesn't it stand to reason that if you only like one or the other that sucking it up and drinking the one you aren't fond of will cause you to "acquire" the taste? All I know is I love wine, both red and white and it seems a dern shame that some people limit themselves to only one or the other.

One thing I'm sure we can all agree on the deliciousness of is frozen yogurt.


I hadn't had fro-yo in so long, it just sounded perfect last night. I filled my cup about 1/3 full with vanilla yogurt and then topped it with carob chips, peanut butter chips, blueberries, strawberries and red and white "Valentines" gummy bears (are you seeing the theme here?)....oh and some peanut butter cups too. I've always had a weird stigma about mismatching flavors, but I figured I'd give it a try, and it was sure yummy!....and to be totally honest, I didn't eat any peanut butter chips with gummy bears or anything weird. They're perfectly segregatable.

Are you a red or a white? Or are you both, like me?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Spring is...here?


I had the most glorious realization today: It's Thursday! I showed up at work completely convinced it was Wednesday. I love this kind of day!

The only downside that I can see at the moment is that my butt is in a serious state of soreness. Jim and I, as I mentioned yesterday, got our bikes back, so we took the nice weather as an opportunity to go for a ride last night. Let me just mention, I haven't been on that bike in...oh...probably close to a year, so my butt is nowhere near used to having a small seat in such close proximity to the middle of it.

Also yesterday, I received my business cards. At the time I ordered them, I did exactly as they said and checked the image carefully for mistakes. Well, when I opened the box yesterday, instead of feeling elated because I HAD BUSINESS CARDS! I felt nothing but disappointment. They printed FAR darker than the preview, to the point where you couldn't even read the crucial information!

But I just finished reordering them. They let me upload a lighter photo AND they threw in the glossy finish, which I told them I'd like to pay to add, FOR FREE! I love VistaPrint, and if you ever need business cards, I HIGHLY recommend them. They have amazing prices, too!

Has anyone else noticed that spring is starting to pop up, well, everywhere? While at my mom's house for lunch, I snapped this cute little flower's photo, after which I asked it politely if it was aware that winter was not yet over and it would probably not make it through the next big freeze...assuming, of course, that there will BE a big freeze this year.


My daffodil bulbs in the planter boxes at work are starting to come up too. They'll never make it either. It makes me sad to think about, but I am enjoying the nice weather, so I suppose I can't complain too much.


Did anyone else watch American Idol last night? How sad that Jim Carrey's daughter went home. But I'm glad they didn't let her through just because of who were dad was. Honestly, though, who really starts paying attention until, like, after group week? How can you even pick a favorite when everyone is still so anonymous?


Nonetheless, I can't wait for tonight's episode so we can find out what happened to the girl who seemed to pass out on stage, probably over fish tacos, which were moved to tonight instead of last night.


I hope everyone is having a lovely THURSDAY (not Wednesday) and enjoying some gorgeous springesque weather like I am!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 things to be happy about 02/08

Today is a happy feeling day. It's strange because I feel like I need my happy list when I'm feeling crappy, but also it feels right to list these things when I'm already feeling happy. So anyway, here goes!

 

1. All of my W-2s and other tax crap are in and ready to be filed! I love being able to check things off my list and this one equals extra cash in my pockets!

2. Tonight is fish taco night! We are going to Jim's parents' house for dinner and his step dad is cooking. This man is the best cook EVER. He actually catered our wedding. And his fish tacos are pretty dang to-die-for.

3. My book club is starting back up! I didn't realize how much I missed it until I heard we were starting again. This month's book:


4. We finally got our bikes back from the repair shop! And it's been sooo nice out lately, I think we may just take them for a spin this weekend.


5. I published my photography website! It's actually LIVE! Not just finished and ready to send into the world. stephaniesutherlin.com if you wanna check it out!


6. I may have a photo shoot this weekend! A girl from work, though, not through the website, but I'll take them as they come!


7. I'm having lunch with my mom! She's been out of town for a week, and she's making polenta with roasted vegetables. I'm beyond excited. We are also, probably, watching an episode of One Tree Hill...we're behind a season because neither of us thought to set the DVR, so we had to wait until it came out on DVD, but that's okay because now we can watch them all in a row instead of having to wait a week between episodes!


8. Tomorrow night is The Bachelor night with my sister-in-law. I know, we're behind, but the only way we can watch it together is if we wait for a day we can both spare a couple of hours. And this week it's Thursday. So don't tell me what happened if you've already seen it!




[caption id="attachment_570" align="aligncenter" width="420" caption="source"][/caption]

9. I'm getting a new camera bag! I don't know which one yet, but I know my gear has far outgrown my bag!

10. And, of course, as always, my amazing husband,  who makes me happy every day of my life (and who, by the way, will NOT watch The Bachelor with me).

Jim and I on the Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls


It's almost the middle of the week. I hope everyone is having a lovely one!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kitchen Inventory

I don't know about you, but I have tons of food. The pantry is full, the freezer is full, the fridge is...well, in a state of more than half-full. But I never have anything to eat. I look in the fridge, look in the pantry and decide it's time to go to the store.

So I did something drastic yesterday. I took inventory. I printed a template from Organized Home's Household Notebook, sat my butt on the floor in front of the open refrigerator and started writing down everything we had.

I was surprised at the outcome for two reasons: #1. we had far more food in there than I was expecting. and #2. most of it was actually pretty healthy. As I thumbed through the sheets of the contents of our fridge, freezer and pantry, I felt a little proud of myself. I made some pretty good choices when I was at the grocery store.

Of course there were some things in there that were not so healthy. Like these, which Jim and I actually just added to the mix this weekend. They make us laugh and they're pretty darn tasty!

[caption id="attachment_563" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="source"][/caption]

Jim and I have been playing a Scooby Doo mystery game on the Wii, so these went perfectly with our Sunday afternoon. Dipped in a little bit of this, and they're insanely delicious.




[caption id="attachment_564" align="aligncenter" width="340" caption="source"][/caption]

 

I've been putting this stuff on EVERYTHING lately. I love this brand, too. Their dark chocolate version is to die for. They actually have a little sandwich shop around the corner from NYU in New York. It's pretty much a mandatory stop whenever I'm in the city. The place totally brings me back to childhood with a menu full of peanut butter sandwiches that would do any 5 year-old proud.

But I digress. We are talking about my pantry, not about travel or childhood. Suffice it to say, this peanut butter is the best, so if you haven't tried it, you need to. It's sold in very few stores, but I think World Market has it and you can buy it right from their website.

After I finished my inventory, I sat down with Jim and created a week's worth of meals. And you want to know something amazing? I have a list of maybe ten items I need from the store...and that includes baking powder and dish soap, both of which I just ran out of.

And I'm excited to have an inventory I can consult when its time to sit down and plan meals. It's sooo helpful to know what I've got in my kitchen. I can't believe I didn't do this sooner.

Do you keep an inventory of your kitchen?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

11 Random Questions Game

I LOOOOVE stuff like this! How much fun! And what a great way to learn new things about people. I'm relatively new to the whole blogging world, so I'm not sure I'm going to be able to find 11 people to tag, but I'm sure going to try!

Anyway, the way it works is I post 11 random things about myself. Then I have to answer 11 questions written by Amanda at Pickles & Honey. Finally I write 11 questions myself that must be answered by the 11 people I tag. Fun, right!? Here goes!

11 Random Things About Me:


1. People say I make the best cupcakes. I've been told by numerous people in my life that I should open a bakery...or audition for Cupcake Wars. I love to bake, but I'm not sure I love it enough to do it all day every day. I do, however, agree that my cupcakes are pretty awesome.

[caption id="attachment_556" align="aligncenter" width="432" caption="Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes"][/caption]

2. My favorite color is purple. It has been since I was probably 12 years old. On a trip to Burbank for a convention with our mom's, my friend Jennifer and I decided that purple was our favorite color. Prior to that day, it was pink.

3. I am horrible at making time to go to the gym. I spend about an hour and a half driving every day, plus 8 hours at work, plus making dinner when I get home and writing and sometimes the gym just doesn't get a spot high on my priorities list.

4. I love photography.  I'm hoping to make a career out of it, actually. All I'm missing are my business licenses...and perhaps a wide-angle lens...and I can start to charge people to take their pictures.

[caption id="attachment_557" align="aligncenter" width="432" caption="I love photographing life's little moments"][/caption]

5. While I love photography, writing is my first passion. My whole first novel is written...I'm calling it practice...but the second one, which I think is a lot better is well on it's way.

6. My husband and I met on Craigslist. They say you can find anything, and they mean it. He had posted a personal ad, and my brother, who was looking for girls online, encouraged me to "just respond to someone. What would it hurt?" So I did, and here we are.

7. I love strawberries. My birthday is in August, so my mom was chowing on strawberries with whipped cream all summer prior to my arrival. Every June, when they come into season, I eat so many of them that by the time August rolls around, I can't stuff another one into my mouth.

8. I want to live in a house with secret passageways. Wouldn't that be so much fun? When I was a kid I dreamed of such a house. I would, in these dreams, hide in the rooms the passageways led to and read or write stories and then I'd hide them in fake books on the bookshelf that slid open to get to the passageway. I had a pretty wild imagination as a kid!

9. I like coffee better than tea. But I also really like tea....and hot chocolate. Maybe I just really enjoy hot drinks?

10. I'm not ready to have kids. I know, I know. I'm 28. My clock is ticking, blah, blah, blah. But I firmly believe that now is NOT the time. Why isn't that okay with some people?! (Ok, sorry. Rant over).

11. I'm making chicken pot pie for dinner tonight. My husband LOOOOOVES it. It's a compromise meal, of course, because I have to pick out the chicken, but it's well worth it. (Try it yourself, if you like).

 

 

11 Random Questions From Amanda:

1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I have always wanted to live somewhere on the east coast of the US. Even as a kid, before I'd even visited that side of the country, I felt like that's where I belonged. I love this history, the changing seasons, the landscapes and old architecture. I also think it would be fun to live, temporarily, in Europe. Maybe London or somewhere in Italy. This is a hard question for me because I love to travel and I've loved so many places I've visited. I could picture living in most of them.
2. When it comes to cake, are you a vanilla or a chocolate person? How about frosting?

Cake? Vanilla. It's weird because anything else, I'd say chocolate. Frosting I like in chocolate, but chocolate cake is weird to me. I've never liked it.
3. When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was 10, I wanted to be a professional figure skater. Never mind the fact that we lived nowhere near ice...not a skating rink, not a frozen pond, nothing. But I watched the figure skating competitions during the 1992 Olympics and I was hooked!
4. What’s your favorite meal of the day?

I like dinner. It's the only meal of the day where you really sit down with family to eat. I like the together time.
5. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I'm definitely NOT a morning person. But I'm also not a person who can sleep in till noon. I'd say I definitely function best at night. I guess I need the day to kickstart my brain!
6. What was the first blog you started reading?

The first blog I started reading was called "I am the beholder." The girl behind it is actually the daughter of one of my favorite authors and she's hilarious.
7. If you could choose a super power, what would it be and why?

I would want to see the future. I'm always so worried about it, it would be nice to get some insight. Flying would also be fun, but I'm kind of afraid of heights.
8. Sweet or savory?

I'm weird there. I need balance. Last night I had a piece of cake for dessert (it was caramel cake with caramel frosting, by the way) a few hours after we'd eaten dinner. After I finished the cake, I needed a piece of toast to even out the sweet.
9. Thus far, what has been the highlight of 2012 for you?

I would say the highlight (of the past month) has been spending more time at the vineyard. Jim and I are both very fond of BJ and Ashley and we love to hang out up there, with 360 degree views of the valley and the mountains and the best wine ever! When you add two great friends on top of that, it's nothing short of amazing.

[caption id="attachment_558" align="aligncenter" width="491" caption="The gazebo at sunset"][/caption]

10. Do you have any siblings, or are you an only child?

I always wanted a sister. After me, my parents had two boys, and I always dreamed of having a sister because those boys were just so darn dirty and so darn mean! (I love my brothers...we get along REALLY well now). Fortunately for me, I have plenty of girls in my family now...I gained two sisters-in-law when I got married, and one when my brother did. I also gained a little sister when I booked my wedding at Rome Valley Vineyards. Ashley is like the little sister I never had and she doesn't try to steal my clothes all the time, so I can love her without hating her too!
11. What are you most looking forward to this week?

This week we've spent most of our time at the vineyard. It's been a ton of fun, so I'm actually looking forward to just leaving work and going back up there this afternoon. On Saturday, we are going down to Jim's nephew's 2nd birthday party, so we'll be seeing a lot of family. I'm looking forward to that, too.

 

11 Random Questions for the People I Tag:

1. If you could have any career in the world, what would you choose?

2. What do you do to cheer yourself up when you're feeling down?

3. What is your favorite place you've traveled?

4. Do you prefer to cook at home or eat out?

5. If you could give any advice to your teenage self, what would you say?

6.  What is your favorite book?

7. What is your favorite breakfast food?

8. What made you decide to start blogging?


9. Do you like to have a plan or do you like to take life as it comes?

10. What do you currently do for a living?


11. What is one thing people are usually surprised to learn about you?

 

 

Tagged People:

1. lifevesting

2. Healthy Diva Eats

3. Sarah on the Go

4. jessiebelsjourney

5. Sarah Mryberg

6. My Life Through Words

7. Books and Bowel Movements

8. i heart wellness

Okay, I'm new. All I have are 8, so I kind of messed up the whole "11" deal, but what can I say? Catch me in a year and we can try again!

 

Rules For Bloggers: (you must repost these)
1. Post these rules.
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them that you’ve tagged them.
6. No stuff in the tagging section about ‘you are tagged if you are reading this.’ blah blah blah, you legitimately have to tag 11 people!