Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friends Make a Town a Home

Establishing roots in a new place inevitably takes longer than you even think possible.

And unfortunately for me, vulnerability is a look I don't wear well. I always find some reason to hold back, close up, and ultimately sell myself short. I am constantly telling myself that I'll open up more, next time.

I had wonderful friends in DC, which made moving all the harder. Their friendship is the only thing I miss about that city. Even with my shyness, hesitancy to let go, and brand new bout of social awkwardness I've made some fabulous friends. And you know what, they love me for me.

That is one thing I've learned since leaving college - true friends (the ones that will laugh with you, celebrate with you, cry with you, and most importantly tell you truth) are hard to come by. I'm planning to hold onto these two for a long time. We were joking last night as I downed my third (whole wheat) peanut butter cookie that they weren't going to judge me "because they are my thighs I can treat them anyway I want" and I think that is the center of true friendship. I've learned to let go and let be.

Open up your heart and calendar to true friendship, and make your town your home.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

An Apple a Day...

...keeps the doctor away, or so the saying goes. But what does a bushel of apples do? Apparently keeps you baking for days!

Josh planned a date to go apple picking at a local orchard, Half Crown. Having eyes bigger than our bellies, we naturally selected the largest bag for apple picking. This one glutenous decision lead to hours in the kitchen!

The first thing I wanted to bake, was obviously an apple pie...correction, make that "apple pies". After 3 apple pies, then came 3 loaves of apple bread, then the apple muffins, applesauce, and finally apple stuffed pork.

I'll give you a few tips: extra thinly sliced apples for the pie; nutmeg in the applesauce; and goat cheese applesauce in the pork.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cleaning Around Yourself

Since each and everyone of us are "Everyday Super Women" we have to find ways to get about 50 things done a day, and that's a low estimate! Whether that means working, making dinner, planning birthday parties, or cleaning the bathrooms - they are all important, and weigh equally as heavy on our minds. So - how do we go about life? How do we get absolutely everything done without going crazy or making our husbands crazy?

Ultimately, every "Everyday Super Woman" is going to have a different tactic that works for her - mine - check lists. I LOVE the satisfaction of checking something off my to-do list. (At times I'm guilty of adding something to my list I'm already working on just so I can check it off!). Besides the productivity-high I get from finishing everything on my list, I truly that after finding my organizational chi, I get more done, I redeem my hours better.

The one lesson I've learned this year about running around attemping to clean up everything before it even needs it or trying to fix problems before they even arise, is to settle. Now I know your mom told you never to settle - and you shouldn't, on certain things. However, how clean your bathrooms are, how frequently you vacuum your living room, and shopping for Christmas in October are definitely all things you should welcome second best at. Take the time that you would spend polishing your toilet and enjoy a glass a wine or catch up with an old friend.

Redeem your hours better today.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hi, I'm Rachel and I'm an addict.

I have an addiction.

There it is - I said it out loud. I have an addiction.

Therefore, I'm am addict.

Wow - they're right - admitting you have a problem is the first step to a better life.

Oh yeah, I'm addicted to snacks and sweets - exhibit A is our "snack platter" for our game of Settlers of Catan tonight.

There really is no such thing as a free lunch

I have loved living closer to my nephews and getting to enjoy the little adventures of life with them - and we had one such adventure on Friday.

We turned in all of our pride (ok, just some of it) to earn ourselves a "free" lunch at Chick-Fil-A.

There were surprising less people dressing up than I would have expected and James and Micheal weren't nearly as traumatized by the GIANT cows inside the restaurant as I thought they would be (and walking on 2 hind legs none the less!)

I love the little joys that these 2 munchkins bring me, and yes, I know - my cow ears look more like bunny ears....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lovin' America

We had a wonderful 4th of July weekend full of of family and relaxing! (What more could you want from a weekend?)

I got out of work early on Friday so I went over to the pool with my 2 adorable nephews - they are simply so cute. It is so fun to see their different personalities come through - James doesn't like the other kids and wants to be carried to the fountain in the middle while Michael wants to charge into the water, even when it is way above his head.

On Sunday we have Josh's family over for lunch - our first test run with having lots of people over to our new place - a test run for my birthday party - if you will. It was fun - but stressful - with that many people in the kitchen. We had a lot of fun and way too much food - which we are still are eating... As a special treat I made patriotic cupcakes for dessert. The kicker...I used the recipe for Georgetown Cupcakes' buttercream frosting...and it was to DIE FOR!

On Monday we went to the parade in "Zeli" and saw about 50 fire trucks...which is concerning if there was an actual fire anywhere within a 15 mile radius. However, I learned last week that taking children to a 4th of July parade makes them 2% more likely to vote Republican...haha. We then came home to take a nap and then went on to fireworks with the boys. They actually did surprisingly well with the crowds and noises!

But the best thing we did this weekend was take the time to read the Declaration of Independence. I hope you took some time to do this - as it is so important to take time to remember our freedoms that we enjoy as Americans. If we forget what we have, it will slip away.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Southern Bell

Josh and I went to Nashville for our anniversary last weekend - and it was amazing! We've been on trips together and we always have fun together - but this was the best trip we have ever been on! For some reason it just felt fun - we planned a few things but mostly just flew by the seat of our pants. We jumped off the highway and visited sites.

We spent 1 night at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel - it was ginormous! I loved walking through the gardens (all 3 of them) and looking at the beautiful flowers. The lights at night added a special touch, oh yeah - the raspberry gelatto helped too! :) It was my first every gelatto and I'm glad I made the jump!

We went to downtown Nashville for the evening, and I'll be honest - it was less glamorous than I expected. It was basically a 4 block strip with mostly bars with live Country Music, which I only went in to use the restroom. Totally awesome though, I got to meet Elvis!

On Tuesday we went to the Grand Ole Opry - it was so cool! I honestly don't listen to much Country Music, so I wasn't quite in tears like some of the other tourists, but it was pretty cool none the less. I loved just walking around and seeing history.

On Wednesday we stopped by the Woodford Reserve - 1 of Kentucky's Bourbon Distillery. Although the smell of the brewing building made me want to vomit, and I absolutely hated the taste of the free bourbon at the end - It was really fun! (And Josh loved it - so it was worth it!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mary Kaying it Up!

One of the challenges of moving was leaving all of our friends. I've always struggled with making friends - I don't want to be vulnerable - and for whatever reason I'm convinced that everyone else has it all together, has all the friends they need, and couldn't care less about becoming my friend. This challenge has been magnified by working from home - even though I talk to people in meetings I crave the real interaction and connection with humans.

We visited another church on Sunday, and one of the women there invited me to attend a Spa Night she was having for Mary Kay. Although I'm pretty sure I have enough Mary Kay people in my life and I was literally sick to my stomach at the the thought of walking into the room and not knowing a single person....I decided to attend. It took me quite a while to get out the door, and then I hid in the car for a while, and once I finally got myself out of the car and into the building I slipped up the stairs rather than have to wait in line for the elevators, but I finally made it to the room....and I slipped into a chair.

After being paired up with 5 other woman we were sent around the room in a whirlwind of stations, lip balm, and suntan lotion. I talked with this one girl, Lindsey, throughout the entire evening and I really liked her. As the night came to a close I had to face my fears and talk to her about the fact that I'm dying for connection, friendship, relationships, love - but I was petrified. As I shuffled across the room to her and told her that I had been praying to meet a friend and I would love to get together with her if she was ever interested - I now know why guys don't ask out the girl they are crazy about! I was totally scared to talk to her. Well - she looked at me like a crazy person and who know if she will ever call of Facebook me - but I had to put myself out there. I had to try.

I'm praying for friendship and connection in my new life.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

A 1/2 Star Reveiw

Once again, I'm late on this update - so maybe that will be the norm from here on out...

On Tuesday I made 2 new things to eat, and sadly I have very poor reviews for both of them. I thought it would be fun to make a little appetizer to start with (and to actually have something on the table when Josh got home). I intended to make little artichoke and spinach dip cracker sliders...however I bought"artichoke bruschetta" there was no spinach it wasn't exactly what I was thinking. To be honest - it wasn't anything like I was thinking, I won't be making them again. But I do have to say I love the little toasted crackers.

The 2nd thing on the menu was gnocchi. I've honestly never had gnocchi in my life, so I wasn't really sure what to expect - but I loved that the cooking time was only 4 minutes, YIPPEE! In my opinion, the short cooking time was the only benefit. Maybe I didn't cook it right - but I really hated the filmy-ness of the pasta on the roof of my mouth. I had to chew the GIANT noodles totally at the front of my teeth so that none would get on the roof of my mouth - and food simply shouldn't be that much of a hassle, thus why I HATE soft shell crabs...too much work!

In other news, I'm really enjoying working from home - and to fully illustrate that, I wanted to do a "favorite things" list:
(1) sleeping until 8am
(2) sunbathing at the pool on my lunch break
(3) starting to make dinner at 5:30, rather than at 6:30 after driving home, being stressed, venting about drama at work
(4) eating hot pastrami sandwiches for lunch
(5) starting my morning with iced coffee
(6) making the bed, putting away laundry, washing dishes during the day
(7) wearing sweatpants and shorts every day
(8) never having to do my hair
(9) not packing a lunch and never accidentally leaving my lunch at home
(10) making $150 more a week because we live in PA and not VA

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Holy Guacamole

I'm late on this update, but life has been crazy. (This weekend we help Josh's mom move into her new place - we are so excited for her!)

On Thursday night I cooked a new version of my (already amazing) turkey burger. I cooked in some pepper jack cheese and added guacamole on the top. The peeper jack added a great bite to the burger, and my homemade guac was amazing.

Making the guac was really easy, but I think I'll use more lime and sea salt too. It does make the burger a little messy, but definitely knocked the burger out of the park.

On Friday we also tried a new pizza place, Champs. It was ok, but wasn't anything that we would order again. I didn't really like the sauce. (However we have to factor in that it wasn't made at the Pizza Turd!)

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Great Memorial Day Weekend Reunion

Happy Memorial Day!

This weekend was a wonderful time with my parents. They came down on Friday night and Josh and I had cookies and coffee ready for their arrival, he is such a great man and was patient as we walked around Wal-mart picking out the PERFECT cookies. (While we were in the store, we checked to see if they had a chair that would fit in our reading nook we want in our bedroom, and we found this wonderful chair!) Josh set it up for us immediately, so we could have it ready for my parents arrival.

Once my parents arrived we talked until midnight, and it was wonderful - I love them!

On Saturday we went to downtown Pittsburgh on our first site seeing trip (as locals). We went on a duck tour (I can't explain it, but I simply love duck tours). And then to the incline, which has much Grove City history - so it was nice to finally go with Josh. The sun was bright (finally) and it was so nice to be outside for once.

On Sunday we took my parents with us to church at Grace Community Church and then out to a Hibachi grill, my first time every. It was pretty cool! I loved the funny little stuff they did with the food - although everything tasted pretty much the exact same, so that was little disappointing to me. (It was also extremely expensive for food I wasn't wild about, so I'm not sure that I'll be doing this again.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Whippy Twisty

In the bliss of a little girl finally getting that pony she has been asking for, I tell you this wonderful news.....

Today we found a new Whippy Twisty!!!

Now, to you, this doesn't seem like a big deal - but to me, a soft serve ice cream lover, it means happiness! Not only is their store a tiny little shed (all painted with colorful dots), not only did they teach me the different between Jimmies and Sprinkles (apparently Jimmies are chocolate and Sprinkles are rainbow), not only did they tell a lady with only a credit card that although they only accept cash, they would write her total down on a piece of paper and let her pay later, but ... most wonderful of all, they have 20 flavors of soft serve ice cream, and I plan to try every single one! :) Although, maybe not Banana....

Oh yeah, I forgot the best part - it is right around the corner from our place! YIPPEE HOORAY! :)

2 for 1

This is my blog post from yesterday, but sadly I worked until 11 pm and didn't get the chance to drone on about my life...

I started the week by making some easy recipes to use up some food in my fridge, so I attempted to redeem myself last night. My great redemption included 2 dishes!

The first dish you see on the left, was made of penne pasta, Italian sausage, sun dried tomato, and spinach. I have to admit, I thought taking the skin off the sausage would be the grossest thing to ever happen to me - but it really wasn't all that bad.

The meal was actually easy to make - and I will definitely be making it again.

For whatever reason, I also decided that I should try and tackle making a salad too (and as a side note - I really don't enjoy making salads). The salad was endive, watercress (I never even heard of this), pear, blue cheese (which I adore), and vinaigrette.

The thing about salads is they are so much work to make AND have to stab each and every tiny little piece that you want to eat, and eventually, somehow, you are supposed to get full. I guess I don't mind eating a salad if it is loaded with lots of good stuff and it was made by someone else.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures

As the (totally gross) picture implies, today was eventful.

Josh's mom swapped desks with us so that I could have her large desk for working at home. We did the swap between yesterday and today, we drove the desk up yesterday, and she drove up today with the other smaller pieces of the desk...but unfortunately a few other little "things" came along for the drive....

Perched on top of the desk pieces was a tiny fetal creature. We poked, screamed, prodded, and then finally removed it from the car - all while being totally creeped out. We talked through every single possibility of how it ended up in my trunk - and had a little bit a peace about where it came from (boxes in my mother in law's house). We then found yet another creature (shown in picture) only this one was BREATHING! It's little torso was quivering and shaking profusely. We then removed that one from the car as well, search my entire car (removed everything, pulled up the carpet in the trunk, folded down the seats) and found that it had been planted in there by a tarp brought from my aunts house - so thankfully I do NOT have a mouse infestation in my car....

Filled with food and God

First, lets start with our restaurant travels - on Friday we tried our first Cranberry pizza place. We tried "Pizza Roma" (affectionately named the "pizza turd" by Josh's friend) at the praise of our friends Holly and Andy. I had our favorite pizza: peperoni, banana peppers, and black olives - the crust was amazing and the sauce had a very nice spices. Josh ordered a calzone with peperoni, bacon, and obviously lots of cheese. We recommend the pizza over the calzone, if you are interested.

I do however recommend this pizza with great caution. I haven't been in this dirty of a restaurant in a really long time - I'm not exaggerating - an ant crawled across my (paper) place mat. I later tried to kill a fly on the table with my napkin - and my entire napkin stuck to the table... Needless to say - we suggest delivery!

Today, we went back to Grace Community Church for a wonderful service that had me moved to tears on multiple occasions. I love baptisms, but this service was unlike any other baptism. Although numerous people had signed up in advance of the service to be baptized, the pastor gave an "alter call" for baptism and we saw over 40 people get up from their seat, with no plan to make a step for Christ, walk up and have one of the most moving experiences of their lives - and it was beautiful! Most moving was a woman in a motorized wheelchair who asked to be baptized and the pastor brought the water to her.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thanks for the Sacrific

Today, I received the most wonderful blessing, dinner at a biker bar and a grand total of 1.5 hours.

We visited a church on Sunday, Grace Community Church (GCC - ironically) and one couple took us out for dinner this week, and I was so excited, I couldn't stop thinking about it today! Although we simply talked about movies, books, musicals, and life - it was such a wonderful blessing. I know how hard it is to take time out of our busy lives, but their sacrifice meant the world to me!

Thanks Holly and Andy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Wonderful Medley

Today was good on many levels, but it ended with a wonderful medley and a fun dessert.

At work: I led my first ever remote meeting - which let me tell you - it is challenging to be at a meeting when you can't tell who is talking, if people are making faces, and the general vibe in room. So - I had to figure out what everyone was thinking, deciding when to pause for questions, and attempting to make jokes. It actually went ok!

In my real life: For dinner, I made the world's most wonderful medley of quinoa, fresh salsa, bbq and lime chicken, and mango - it tasted better than it sounds. I basically made the whole thing up, but in case you want to try it yourself - let me at least set you in the right direction. Marinate the chicken in BBQ and lime juice, make "salsa" with tomato; onion; cilantro; lime juice; garlic; grilled corn; green, red, and chile peppers; paprika and salt. I'll be honest, I only put mango on the top because Josh loves mango - it was good, but in the future, I will grill the mango.

Josh was literally the only other human I saw today - so I begged him to take me out of the house. We tried to go to the Cranberry Creamery, which closes at 9 - however, at 8:20 there was no one we were forced to go to Dairy Queen, and I had my first ever Blizzard. It was pretty wonderful!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Church "shopping" is by far one of the worst things about moving - so today, we tried to take a big bite out of the daunting task. We visited 2 churches today - although this made for a tiring morning it is definitely time efficient with our weekends! :) Which, as you know, I'm nothing if not always trying to make the most of each second.

We had good experiences at both churches and liked varying things about them. We have learned so much about each other looking for churches. It is a wonderful process and I cherish learning more about my wonderful husband.

For my cooking adventure today I drilled corn on the cob with butter, lime, and southern spices - so amazing! I also did not fully appreciate the wonder of my sweet potato fries until I have frozen curly fries today - they just don't have the full flavor that sweet potatoes have!

We also tried to go and play tennis today but we got rained out this gloomy western PA weather. There is always tomorrow.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

1 week

1 week ago today, we had just unpacked and I was sitting draped on my couch wanting to die. We have made a lot of progress this week - unpacked all of our boxes, hung up some pictures, gone (window) furniture shopping - but sadly, I'm draped in the exact some spot on my couch.

Today was wonderful and draining all at the same time. I made a big step and went forward towards something I've been dreading - and although I didn't totally confront that dread, I made a step which took a surprising amount of courage. Josh and I also saw some old friends and I loved connecting with great people that I admire and respect.

We tried another Cranberry restaurant - Primanti Brothers. Josh had never been, and he loved it. Although I loved my yummy sandwich, it did have some unexpected side affects - homesickness for our VA small group. I miss our dear friends and I'm so grateful God blessed us with them!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Let the (food) games begin!

Not that anyone reads this, but I really did try to blog yesterday, but Blogger was down.

Working at home yesterday..was interesting...I nearly exploded - I couldn't sit still, focus, or accomplish anything. Josh and I went for a speed walk to get out some of my energy. So, to make today go quicker and easier, I went for a run this morning. It is amazing how much of a difference it made to go running - I was thinking of running on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday - but I'm pretty sure that I'm going to have to run everyday, or I'm simply doing to die inside these walls!

I've been slacking in regards to the cooking world of late. Our fridge was absolutely overflowing with food, so we had left over last night for dinner. In VA we would order Pizza Bolis every Friday night (pepperoni, banana peppers, and olives) - but we really want to explore the restuarants in the area so we know what we like before we've been here 2 years! haha.

So, our restaurant journey begins with Blue Water Tavern in Wexford, PA. I had a burger (which they were more than happy to cook medium rare) and Josh had a buffalo chicken burger. They were fine, but "nothing to write home about"...although I am writing a blog post about it...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My definition of "Home Ec"

Today was a great start to a new chapter - my chapter titled "Home Ec." To be honest, I'm not really sure what that class at my tiny Christian high school called "home ec" stood for...but as far as I'm concerned, it now means "home economics" in the terms of working from home and bringing in the dough - but it also has tons of emphasis on the "bare foot in the kitchen" aspect.

I love working from home! This past year I've learned a lot about myself, one of those things being that I really need my personal space, quite time to gather myself, and basic selfishness to get my crabbiness out! (which let me say, Josh definitely appreciates). This morning, I loved getting coffee in silence, I basked in checking off project after project without someone popping in for a quick question, and best of all, I only had 1 minor headache, rather than 1 gigantic headache all day long.

I've also enjoyed my time in the kitchen of late. Today, I made tomato & spinach tortellini. It was simply wonderful, and easy - it was great to make something that Josh loved and couldn't stop raving about - maybe 1 out of 10 times that has happened!