Monday, December 31, 2012

Carrot and fennel soup

As I was going through my refrigerator last week searching for things to make for dinner, I came upon a realization: I had a ton of carrots! And I had just gotten my Farm Fresh to You box which had even more carrots...and fennel. So the creation of this soup was pretty much inevitable.

carrot fennel soup1



Carrot and Fennel Soup


A bunch of carrots (I had three large and about twelve smaller ones)

1 large onion, chopped

2 small fennel bulbs, chopped

Garlic, chopped (I used about six cloves, but measure on your own taste. Garlic is kind of personal)

3-4 tbsp olive oil

Sprinkling of sugar (maybe 2 tbsp)

5 cups vegetable broth

Thyme (Again, to taste. I just sort of sprinkled a small pile in the pan)

Salt and pepper

1 cup heavy cream

Heat olive oil at the bottom of a large soup pot. Add carrots, fennel, onion, and sugar to the pan and caramelize the vegetables. After about five minutes add the garlic. Add the thyme, salt and pepper and let cook, stirring frequently for another five minutes or until veggies start to soften. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and let it boil away for about 30-45 minutes or until all veggies are soft. Transfer in small batches to a blender and whip until it's all a big pile of orange mush (or use your fancy immersion blender...you know, the one I got rid of because I didn't think I needed it anymore?). Return it to the pot and gently bring it back to an edible temp. Mix in heavy cream (you can skip this step if you want. It's not necessary but it sure makes it taste more substantial). Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and a personal-sized baguette (courtesy of Trader Joes...as in I bought it there, not as in they donated it to my cause). If you have the energy, which I did not, make up a nice salad to go with it. Or grilled cheese when you serve the leftovers for lunch the next day.

carrot fennel soup2


I hope everyone is having a wonderful last day of 2012. My day would be better if I wasn't working, but so far I have no complaints.


Does anyone have fun New Year's plans tonight?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

End of one chapter, Beginning of another

I've written before about how anti-Resolution I am when it comes to the new year. And I maintain that position because of how particularly useless traditional resolutions are. That does not, however, mean that I am completely oblivious to the convenience a new year provides for making goals and starting fresh.

And this year, in light of having a new house and a new pooch, I'm feeling a fresh start with an acute ping. How could I not? My entire life has been flipped upside down. Where I once was a newlywed living in a 900 square foot apartment, now I'm a full-fledged wife with a 1500 square foot house, an adorable black lab mix and a million new opportunities that I didn't have a month ago.

I don't necessarily mean that all of a sudden huge doors have opened. I don't suddenly have contacts in high career places or anything like that. But I've always been a firm believer that it's the small things that matter most. Like inviting friends over for dinner and dog sitting for my mom while she's out of town (for better or for worse.....). I have enough space in my living room to bust out my 30 Day Shred DVD without having to rearrange the furniture to do it.

These little things can be as life changing as huge things. And I'll keep you posted as I make this journey to finding my new self in my new circumstances. But since it's a new year, I decided to do something I've thought about but never actually done until now: make a vision board. And I invited my friend, Reanna, over to make one with me (something I wouldn't have done at the apartment).

[caption id="attachment_1161" align="aligncenter" width="384"]The stack of magazines we were working with. It took HOURS to go through them all! The stack of magazines we were working with. It took HOURS to go through them all![/caption]

I've seen multiple people do them. And people all seem to have their own philosophy and strategy when it comes to content, layout, purpose. I know people who look at the vision board as a request to the universe for the things that they want. Some are almost superstitious, being careful not to use words or images that might be taken too literally. I look at it as more of a reminder of the things I wish to accomplish in the year to come, an organization of thoughts and goals in a place where I can see them on a daily basis. I don't expect them to come true simply because I put them on the board. But they're there. Sort of like a paper Pinterest for the new year (anyone else see the irony of a "paper Pinterest?").

[caption id="attachment_1160" align="aligncenter" width="576"]Getting there Getting there[/caption]

While I don't believe that the universe is taking note of my desires, nor do I believe that by putting my wishes/goals on a board that they will come true, I did notice that certain patterns emerged. I do believe in the psychology of our choices, the subconscious repetitions based on things we don't necessarily notice at first sight. Like my friend Reanna. She got all of her photos and phrases on her board and realized that her overall theme was more of self-improvement than it had been in previous years. She also had far more wording than she was used to. She left our house with a lot to think about.

Since I haven't done a board before, I didn't have anything to compare to, but I did notice patterns. Like I cut out more than one phrase about "fear." Likewise with "happiness." I had many photos and phrases about travel and a handful about food and several about photography. While some people feel that using words on a dream board is a bad idea, I feel like my board without words wouldn't be MY board. Words are such an important part of my life, it would just seem wrong not to have them present. I like my board. I think it feels very "me."

[caption id="attachment_1162" align="aligncenter" width="576"]The finished product The finished product[/caption]

I'm really excited for 2013. The past twelve months have been challenging to say the least, but I am really optimistic about the coming year. I think there is a lot of growth, a lot of fun, a lot of excitement and a lot of change on the horizon. For the first time in my life I feel like I might just be where I'm supposed to be. I feel like I might be getting a clear picture of who I am and who I want to be. And I can't wait to see how the next year unfolds.


Happy New Year, everyone! Do you have any goals for 2013? Do you make a vision board every year?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year

Christmas is over. Gone. Past. Done. Most years I could regale you with how much I enjoyed the season. Baking cookies with my mom. Driving around and looking at houses adorned with millions of tiny colored lights. Making a trek to Nevada City for Victorian Christmas. Picking out the perfect tree and then decorating it whilst sipping cocoa and idly tuning in to a Christmas movie in the background. I could tell you about how my DVR is 92% full with every Christmas movie and special that aired. I'd tell you about shopping trips and adventures in wrapping. And picking a handful of names from the Angel Tree.

[caption id="attachment_1155" align="aligncenter" width="614"]Katie "helped" with the little wrapping I did do Katie "helped" with the little wrapping I did do[/caption]

But this year I got nothin.

I guess that's not entirely true. Mom and I did our baking. Granted, it was a seriously condensed version of what we usually bake. Only ten different types of cookies plus fudge. You're probably laughing because yes, that is a lot of cookies, but we usually do about twice that. I did, however, try several new recipes. I'll share my favorite with you later. I may have to make another batch because I think they all got eaten before I had the chance to take photos.

We also did get a tree and decorate it and I did make hot cocoa. But we got our tree from Home Depot because it was the week before Christmas and they were the only ones with trees left that didn't belong at Charlie Brown's Christmas pageant and we just didn't have a day free to go pick out and cut down one like we wanted to.

I also did some shopping. Two days before Christmas. And that was all. We bought gifts for nieces and nephews and our parents and the rest got homemade salted caramel hot chocolate...which, by the way, was fabulous in itself. I'll share that with you soon as well. I actually DID get photos of those. For now, here's Jim making salted caramel sauce.

caramel sauce1


And one of me in the cutesy Christmas apron my grandmother gave me. Jim pretty much made the sauce by himself. I just wanted to pose with my apron.


caramel sauce2


We didn't even hang out stockings this year. We got new ones. Pretty Pottery Barn ones (granted, mine showed up all messed up from the embroidery machine, but it still works. They did give me a refund in case you were wondering), but we also got a new mantle, which was still too tacky after being painted to put anything heavy on. So it held our cards (and Jim's birthday cards) and stockings lived on the floor.

[caption id="attachment_1152" align="aligncenter" width="346"]You'll have to excuse the phone photos. They're all I've got at the moment. You'll have to excuse the phone photos. They're all I've got at the moment.[/caption]

I bet you're wondering why Christmas was no big thing this year. I mean it was our first Christmas in our first house and it should have been special right? Well, I think that's part of the reason. We still haven't really finished unpacking and the house has pretty much taken all of our energy and attention (minus what Katie requires). Christmas more or less sneaked up on us. We have just been too busy. Not to mention I've had a nasty bug of some sort for the entire month of December, so I haven't felt like doing anything. Not even putting our house together. On Saturday, we had our first of four days off and the plan was to work on getting the rest of the stuff in the garage put away, clean the inside, get it all nice looking again. We sat on the couch and watch the first two Lord of the Rings movies instead. And you know what? It felt darn good.

Now that the holidays are essentially over and my cough is finally chilling out, life can start to find its way to normal. I'm excited for the new year, to get settled into our new home, our new life with our new pooch. I have a feeling 2013 is going to be amazing.

How was your Christmas? Do you have big plans for the new year?