Saturday, September 20, 2014

It's my party, and I'll drink if I want to!

Okay, I don't actually drink. I can probably count on one hand how often I drink (I don't think I've had a mixed drink since my cruise. But, today, being the day before my birthday, I decided to get something fruity to drink.

And it was really really good.

My parents went to Cheddar's for their anniversary a few weeks ago, and suggested we go back there for my birthday lunch. We had a larger party, including aunts, uncle, and cousins, so we had to wait around 45 minutes for a table. While waiting, my sister, cousin Tasha, and I walked to the bar to get drinks, and catch up.

We didn't have to wait much longer for our table, and I was really excited to try the food. I'd perused the menu earlier in the week, and decided that I wanted the Monte Cristo sandwich (I've never met a Monte Cristo I didn't like. I've met some that left me with lukewarm feelings, but no outright hatred).

Oh, my goodness. This was, hands down, the best sandwich I have EVER had in my entire life. It was like it was wrapped in a pancake or something. The raspberry jam that went with it was tart and delicious. There aren't enough words to say how amazing I thought this sandwich was. It came with Mac and Cheese, which was also really good, though a little heavy handed with the pepper.

I also got birthday Croissants from our waiter, which I shared with everyone. They were warm and delicious. Thank you, Mr. Waiter, whose name I didn't catch.

It was a nice, low-key lunch with my family, catching up, eating great food. My actual birthday is tomorrow, and I'm really looking forward to eating the cake that my sister baked for me.

The only thing that would make this birthday better was if my friends were with me, like my 23rd birthday.

St. Louis Zoo with Lauren
St. Louis Zoo with Jessica
That's still in my top five birthdays. Got to visit the zoo, got to build myself an Otter at Build-a-Bear, and I even got to try White Castle for the first time. 23 was a good year.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lemon Bars and a Lesson in Substitution

So, we've been living here for about five weeks. Has it really been that long? We spent last weekend finishing organizing the stuff in the basement into piles of trash, church garage sale, and keep. Thankfully, the keep pile wasn't humongous. I hate moving. If I didn't have to move ever again, I'd be happy. However, I'm sure my parents would like me to move out eventually.

My mom is on vacation this week, so she's been working on unpacking. On Monday, my day off, we cleaned the kitchen, and sorted our millions of mugs (We've collected SO MANY over the years).

This was cut down by a LOT. 
I did my first bout of real baking tonight, since we have a potluck at work tomorrow. Paula Deen's Lemon Bars are one of the easiest things in the entire world to make, and since they're basically just butter, sugar, and lemon, there is NOTHING wrong with them. They're actually the perfect treat.

2 sticks salted butter, softened
2 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar

4 eggs*
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons flour
8 tablespoons of lemon juice**


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9x13 pan.
  2. Stir flour and powdered sugar together. Add butter, and using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour/sugar mixture until combined. The dough will be crumbly, like sand.
  3. Press into the pan and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  4. While the crust is baking, beat filling ingredients until smooth.
  5. Pour over the cooled crust, and bake for an additional 25 minutes.
  6. Dust with powdered sugar.

*Now, there's a bit of a substitution in my version of the lemon bars. I only had three eggs, so after a little googling, I found this article that suggested using 1/4 cup oil for the last egg. I beat the eggs with the oil before adding anything else. Seems to have worked out great. 

**The original recipe called for six tablespoons of lemon juice, but I like mine a bit more tart, so I added a couple more splashes. Consistency still seems good. Just be careful in baking with consistency.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Club Announcement!

Hi, everyone! I hope you're going to join me next month for the first installment of The Jane Austen Book Club. I'm about halfway through Northanger Abbey, and it was a lot more delightful than I remembered.

If I figure out how, I want to create a Google Hangout to discuss it, plus you can feel free to comment on the blog.

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lane Bryant Active: A Sports Clothes Review

I'm still working on 10k Trainer by Zen Labs, started week 2 today, running 90 seconds, and walking 2 minutes. It was difficult, but I powered through with my Francesca Battistelli Pandora Station, and it was in part because of my new workout clothes from the Active line at Lane Bryant.

The week before we left for Jake and Kat's wedding, Kiri and I did some shopping down at the Crossing, and stopped in Lane Bryant. I had no intention of buying anything, but they were having a Buy One Get One Free sale on everything in the store, except clearance, which had an additional 60% off the lowest marked price.

I got a pair of workout Capri Pants for $15, and they're VERY comfortable to run in, travel in, lounge in.


I also got two sports bras, for $44, total (Gotta love those BOGO sales!), which, as a bigger girl with boobs, it's been necessary for running comfortably. I was using a regular bra with a cheaper sports bra doubled over, and it did okay, but I really wanted a legitimate sports bra that would let me run comfortably, without much jiggle.

I got two of the same bra (different colors), and they're VERY comfortable. There's a 4-hook enclosure in back, and the straps are adjustable, and you can change them to match whatever kind of top you're wearing (racerback, regular tank top, etc). They also cover everything up front, so you don't have to worry about popping out (woohoo!). 

The bras are a little hard to close, since they feel like they sit a bit higher than a regular bra, and the underwire feels a little high on the side, but not too terrible. 

It's really nice to have workout gear that works WITH me instead of against me. I hope that having the right gear will help me keep running in at least a little bit of comfort. 

I was not compensated for this review, and purchased the clothes with my own money. I'm just a satisfied customer. :-)

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Jane Austen Book Club: Northanger Abbey

Time for a short little blurb before I turn of Parks & Recreation and settle in to read for the night. (Side note, how awesome is Leslie Knope? Love her!)

But last week on my way home from the wedding, I thought back to the one time I met the Bride's mother, and I'd been reading at the time. Reading Pride & Prejudice, but when I told her, she got a little flustered and said she'd never read it.

To be completely honest, I don't know many who actually have read it.

I promise. I won't judge you if you haven't read it. I could barely finish Insurgent, and couldn't get into Allegiant, despite them being the most popular YA books right now (After Hunger Games and Twilight). People like what they like, and will read what they want.

Since it's been years since I last read any Jane Austen, though, I decided now would be a good time to read through them again. On the way home last weekend, I started reading Northanger Abbey, the story of young girl who meets a handsome clergyman, and visits his family at their estate, where her imagination gets the better of her. It was Jane Austen's first novel, but it wasn't published first.

At the end of the month, I'll write up a blurb about the book, and if you join me, feel free to write up your own review and thoughts for us to discuss.

Have a great September!


Monday, September 1, 2014

He did it!

The story of how my cousin Jake and I came to be friends is one he probably doesn't remember, because he was so little at the time. He's nine years younger than me, and the first time I held him, I was pretty taken with him. Teeny little bundle as all babies are. However, since he lived in Missouri, and I lived in Iowa, we didn't get to see each other much. For about the first two years, he didn't seem to like strangers very well (Honestly, I'm the same way).

Our first meeting, just days old
One trip that we made to KC, Jake was about three years old, we spent a lot of time running around town, and he and I were stuck in the back seat, and he was actually chattering around a bit. I decided to entertain him, because I'm sure he was as sick of errands as I was by that time. I was about eleven or twelve at the time, I believe. I started doing Looney Toons impressions, and I just made him crack up so hard. The rest of the trip, I taught him how to do them, himself, and he was hilarious.

When they came up for Christmas, he practically ran to the door, and immediately to me. It was the first time that a little kid had ever really paid me any attention, and I relished it. I loved talking to this little guy who was so starry-eyed and full of wonder and fun. When his little sister, Laura, was born the next year, I had two little friends that I adored.

After my college graduation
May, 2009
It was easier to see them both once I got to college, and lived closer. I went up to see them for weekends, and made it a point to attend most of Jake's school plays (I think I only missed two that he was in between sixth grade and twelth grade), and he continued to crack me up by his shenanigans (trying on my funniest-looking shoes, trying to beat me at a few Muppet video games, and playing constant jokes on each other).

While visiting his family, I gradually started to get to know this smart, funny, shy girl that Jake had been friends with for years. The first time I met Katrina, was at Jake's Gold Medal Ceremony for Royal Rangers at his church, and she, much like me, doesn't really talk to people she doesn't know (at least she did that day).

This intelligent girl won my dear cousin's heart, and after he finished his basic training for the United States Air Force, he proposed to her in front of penguins (her favorite animal) with a heart-shaped diamond ring, and she tearily accepted.

He was sent north, and they planned a June wedding, but the wait was too much for the young lovers, and she decided to switch to a college local to him. Their wedding was last night, and it was a gorgeous day. It was hot, but there was a decent amount of shade, and not a cloud in the sky. The day wasn't perfect, but life isn't perfect, and I believe they took it in stride, and enjoyed the love that their joining families bestowed on them.

Me and the Groom
August 31, 2014
I'm still single, and searching for my "Mr. Darcy," as it were, so whenever I go to a wedding and am requested to give the young couple marital advice, I quote Ephesians 4:32, which is just good advice for everyone, no matter what.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other,
 just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

I've been praying for this day for weeks now, praying that God would bless the day, the ceremonies, the families that are coming together, and most of all, bless Jake and Katrina, as they make their lives together. 

If either of you is reading this (if either of you actually reads my blog, lol), I love you both so, so much. May you both live Happily Ever After. 

Mr. and Mrs.