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November 2010

Some birthday cuteness

I have to say, it's fun to be home for my birthday this year.  I'm super glad I canceled my registration for Journalfest and came home instead (plus not missing my Strategy final was probably a good thing.  lol.)  I was gambling on the fact that Nicole was going to have her baby before the due date and that I'd get to see her while I was home and it paid off!  I met Aubrey for the first time today... she's just precious.

I flew in late last night and then started today with a long, brisk sunrise walk outside - it was beautiful... it's been a while since I've been back in Virginia while the leaves are changing.  Then, mom and I went shopping at my personal Mecca.  Wegman's.  THE greatest grocery store in the world.  Where as usual, I wandered the aisles sighing with envy over the fact that I don't have anything half that good in Utah.  It's a special kind of masochism.  lol.  We got a bunch of stuff for me to cook a few fun meals for the family while I'm home and I got to pick out my birthday cake (because Wegman's cakes are yum.)

Rick, Erin and Adorable-Niece-Eraleigh all came over and we all went together to get kebabs for lunch.  After lunch we came back to the house to open presents and have cake.  Eraleigh loves blowing out candles so I had to watch her so she didn't ruin my wish.


You can see that she's a sneaky one.  But she did sing happy birthday with the family.  It was completely adorable (happy earthay Genny!)


And I was totally spoiled by my family... it was a wonderful party and I love and appreciate the fabulous and thoughtful gifts :)

Next we headed over to the hospital to see Nicole, Brian and Adorable-Niece-Aubrey.  She was asleep pretty much the entire time, but she's totally adorable.  She has an absolutely perfect little rosebud mouth.

I've never held a baby that new in my life... I was terrified that I'd break her, but she's such a sweet little bundle you kind of get sucked in.


We get to go back to see her again tomorrow.

After the hospital, we ran back to get Eraleigh changed into her Halloween costume for the ward Trunk or Treat.  She was Little Red Riding hood and sooooo cute!


And then, she found something she likes.  A lot.


It was too cold outside to hang out for long though, so we went back home for dinner (we skipped the river but did pass through some woods on the way back to Grandma's).  After dinner we watched some Dora and Diego.


And despite the fact that it was MY birthday today, I brought Eraleigh a present.  Because spoiling her is a favorite past-time of mine.  I got the cutest book called "Chicken Cheeks" that has funny little rhyming names for the bottoms of a bunch of animals.  One of them is a turkey, so I had to include this cute little turkey puppet (she has quite the puppet collection at this point.)


This was followed by a rousing round of "huggy huggy" which I invented mostly because it's so cute when she says it.  It mainly involves me chasing her around the house until I catch her and hug her, which she loves.  Then it was time to go home, but she'll be back.  She's going to come trick-or-treat at Grandma's house, although it's possible she might be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz tomorrow, complete with ruby slippers.

Welcome Aubrey!

My newest niece, Aubrey Mireille (or Bree) joined us early yesterday morning... I just got pictures today.  She's adorable! 


There were several adorable pictures, but I love this one.  Her angry face.  lol.  And I happen to think she looks a LOT like Nicole :D

I can't wait to meet her this weekend and see everyone... I think I might even get to do trunk-or-treat with Adorable-Niece-Eraleigh (who's going to be Little Red Riding Hood.  How cute!)  Now I've just got to get back to work and finish some stuff up before I head to the airport.  More pictures soon!

Snow. Yay.

The view of the front of my little townhouse as I was leaving for work this morning:


I've got about 3" on the ground, but I have to admit I was thrilled that it didn't stick to the driveway or roads.  My love of snow is well known... I may have referred to it once or twice as "that evil white stuff" or "the devil's rain."  I suppose I should be grateful that it's the end of October and this is the first snow.  But I have to say, this is when I think back to my reasoning when I picked this location to move to and wonder what on earth I was thinking.  Add this to going back to school and the horrendous construction on I-15 and I find myself wishing I'd just moved to Provo at least once or twice a day.  Oh well, live and learn, right?  We'll see how I'm feeling as my lease is close to being up next spring.

P.S.  We're all anxiously awaiting the arrival of the newest addition to the family... Nicole is in the hospital as we speak and I'm waiting on pins and needles for the announcement that my newest niece has joined us.  I can't wait to see her on Saturday!

We came, we saw, we rocked.

A few months ago Steph pinged me to see if I wanted to go to the Nickelback show... it wasn't on a school night, so I thought, why not?  Tonight was the big show and it was a lot of fun.  I met Steph and Mike up at the arena and we were entertained in more ways than one.  You always see the most interesting people at concerts... like the lady in her 50s in front of us who was totally jamming to Buckcherry.  We suspect that recreational Lortab usage might have been involved.  Then there were the guys a few rows down and over who were smashed before the show even started and kept drinking until they were all so bombed they couldn't even stand up and started spilling beer all over the people around them and falling on people.  We shook our heads a lot.

Anyway, the first act was Buckcherry.  I'm not a huge fan, but I do like several of their songs (a few are on my playlists, even) and they played all of them.  While the music was pretty good, we were much more entertained by the performance.

(Disclaimer... I didn't feel like trying to figure out how to smuggle in my camera since I rode the train up from Sandy so all photos are off my phone.  Therefore, they suck.)


My absolute favorite were the strategically positioned fans that blew the drummer and guitarist's long hair all over around their heads while they were playing.  (I'm sure it was just to keep cool under those lights... rolling my eyes).  Then there was the lead singer.  While it's true that he can definitely belt a song, the skinny jeans and shirtless tatooed chest, combined with the cool LA hairdo (AKA mullet) were a bit cliche... add to that the Jane Fonda-esque dancing and we were dying laughing.  Especially the step-touch-hip-hip while playing the tambourine.  My best guess was that they bought a series of videos on how to look like / act like rock stars from a late-night infomercial.  But I enjoyed the music.

Next was Three Days Grace.  Steph and I saw them in Dallas a few years ago and they definitely put on a good show.  We loved it when Adam actually took his bodyguard and went out into the seats to get people to stand up and sing along... all while singing the song they were doing.


He came down and went through the pit before going up the other side and then back on stage.


Then, 2nd intermission.  Time for the first self-portrait (or selfie as I'm seeing them called now) in many a year.  Taking self-portraits with my phone is definitely an acquired skill.


And then Nickelback came on.  They about scared us half to death when they started by shooting off fireworks.  They like their pyrotechnics, Nickelback does.  I couldn't get any pictures of the various fireworks and flamethrower effects, though (we could feel the heat in our seats!) since it was too bright for my phone's camera, but it was pretty fun. 


We had pretty good seats... we were just behind the pit, dead center so we could see their faces pretty clearly - always fun.  The one thing that surprised us was that we didn't know what a showman Chad Kroger is!  I guess Mike probably did since he'd seen them before... the man has charisma and a great sense of humor.  It was like getting a comedy show along with the rock concert... his commentary between songs was pretty funny sometimes and you could tell they were having fun.

Nickelback 1

Another benefit to our awesome seats was that they were right across the hall from the main doors, so I was able to get out and grab the first train that came along before the crowds really piled up.  It was so nice to skip all that traffic! (Not to mention saving money on parking). 

Anyway, I'd definitely see Nickelback again... it was a really fun night, so thank you to Stephanie for inviting me!

Shades of Marrakesh

This last week was a long-awaited event... the chance for our class to vote for the Foreign Business Excursion that we want to go on this coming spring (there are 3 and we split up between them).  I've wanted to go Middle East since before I knew for sure they were going to offer it, so it wasn't a hard choice.  I was a little worried about getting my first choice but it seems that most of the class actually wants to go to Asia so I think I'm going to get it... I'll celebrate when I know for sure, though.  They gave us 100 points to weight between the three trips and I put all 100 of mine on Middle East (and I know at least 3 other people did the same thing... lol.  Those of us who want to go REALLY want to go.)  The survey was also the big reveal of the locations that each trip will visit.  And where might I be looking forward to going?  Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Istanbul and Casablanca Morocco.  Woohoo!  Now I just need to find a way to contain my enthusiasm until April. 

Of course, this put me in the mood to whip up a little Moroccan food.  My displaced DC buddies will join me in thinking with longing of Marrakesh... that fabulous Moroccan restaurant in the District we used to frequent that I LOVE and miss.  One of the dishes they serve during dinner is called Bstilla bi Djaj... it's basically a chicken pie and it's incredible.  My newest cookbook, Arabesque, has a recipe for one version of this so I gave it a try. 

Bstilla bi Djaj
I left out the onions (and I need to adapt the recipe for moisture as a result) and added in sweet potato instead to go with the cinnamon and ginger.  I also used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter 0 calorie spray instead of butter on the fillo.  You don't get the same rich, buttery flavor, but it crisps up nicely and a slice of pie is just 5 points on Weight Watchers.  I guess that's a decent trade-off and it's pretty yummy!

Also, while I was at Costco picking up a few things, they had these little bags of eggplants so I decided to pick some up and try my hand at a batch of baba ghanouj.  I used to just get containers of it at Wegman's, but it's hard to find it prepared here.  I had all the rest of the ingredients already, so why not?  I roasted the eggplants and then peeled them and squished out all the moisture.  I followed the recipe (also in Arabesque) and then took it one step further and threw it all in the food processor to smooth it out. 

Baba Ghanouj

At first while I was tasting it I didn't think I was going to like it, but I tweaked the flavorings a bit - more lemon juice, more Greek yogurt and a good pinch (or three) of kosher salt... and I let it sit for a bit to let the flavors marry... a little olive oil and some fresh parsley and YUM.  I served it up with some campari tomatoes just because they play well with eggplant and I like them.

So that was my cooking adventure this weekend... I also have all the stuff to do some Turkish kebap so that's next on my list. 

I did also manage to get a few layouts done.  I had grand illusions of finishing up Steph and Mike's wedding album this weekend so I could give it to them at the Nickleback show on Wednesday, but alas... I was seriously deluding myself.  But I'll get there!  Hopefully before their first anniversary.  lol.

First, you can always count on me to take pictures of the food.  As my mom says, you spend tons of money and effort on this part of the reception, so you definitely want pictures of it!

Steph Wedding pg 13

And it was pretty good food, too.

Next:  Amber, Rae and I in an attempt to get a good photo together.  They all turned out a tad blurry, but they were so fun I had to include them anyway.

Steph Wedding pg 14

And with that, I think I have just enough time to watch a bit of Foodography on my DVR before I crash.

P.S.  How cool was it that the lead singer of Kings of Leon was a judge on Iron Chef tonight?  I know... I watch way too much Food Network.  I just can't help myself.

A real post at last!

Just catching up on a few things from the last two weeks... first is a layout I've been working on since last weekend that I finally managed to finish tonight. Just using some cute pictures of Adorable-Niece-Eraleigh that Erin posted a few weeks ago. 

Future Bookworm

I couldn't help but laugh at her total fascination with a 700 page book that had no pictures.  And a quick close-up, of course.

Future Bookworm Close-up

And while my mom poked fun at me today for posting recipes, I actually get emails about them so I'm standing firm in the face of ridicule and sharing some recent ones :)

To start, I attempted my very first macarons.  Since these are notoriously difficult to make, I was extremely pleased with my first attempt.  I've found some great tips on how to do this better so I'm planning to make another batch in the near future.

Pistachio Cardamom Macarons

These are Pistachio Cardamom macarons.  The cookies are made with a meringue and pulverized pistachios and almonds.  The filling is a white chocolate buttercream (although you can't taste the chocolate and the recipe has too much butter for my taste) and more pulverized pistachios.  I also added cardamom since it goes so beautifully with pistachios.  I overdid it just a touch... they still tasted really good, but I was looking for a more suble flavor.  I'll nail it next time.

Next was the artichoke dish I'd been planning for a while from my Middle Eastern cookbook.  I learned that prepping your own artichokes is something to be done only when no frozen artichokes are at hand and that I didn't put enough vinegar in my acidulated water.  Bleh.  Since the SuperTarget here sells frozen artichoke hearts, I'll take that route next time. 

Artichokes with Almonds and Green Garbanzos
This also has almonds and green garbanzos (I can't find fava beans here to save my life) and a really flavorful lemon sauce made with olive oil, garlic, fresh dill, fresh lemon juice, sugar and a few other things.  I was skeptical based on the ingredients and the smell while it was cooking, but it was delicious.

Last but not least, I made my very first batch of homemade soup.  I did a Moroccan spiced carrot soup that was actually pretty good!  And, I'd like it to be noted that while I left out the onions, I did dice up a shallot and use that instead.  And I liked it.  I know... it's a miracle!

Moroccan Carrot Soup

I have a little squirt bottle that I use to add plain greek yogurt as a topping (it's fabulous on top of just about anything).  As you can see, it doesn't do pretty lines.  Oh well... I'm definitely not a pro!  I did get to use my immesion blender, though, which was quite enjoyable.

And speaking of food, last night I met up with a group of friends and we went to a fabulous new restaurant at the Riverwoods in Provo; La Jolla Groves.  We'd heard good things about it and decided to check it out.  It was really delicious... I'd definitely eat there again.  All of us loved the food and plates were cleaned!  We also had a great time just hanging out and talking - it was a really fun evening.  After dinner they brought dessert menus, but none of us were really feeling any of the choices so we decided to restaurant hop instead.  We stopped by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for those who were craving caramel apples and then ended up at Malawi (another new restaurant) for a yummy berry mascarpone dessert pizza that we shared.  We actually really enjoyed doing a kind of progressive dinner and are thinking we might need to do it again.  I'm definitely in!

So that's it... another busy week ahead.  Besides my regular work and classes, I've got a huge deadline for a side project I'm doing on top of homework and the BYU EMBA Women's dinner.  It's definitely going to be crazy, but it should be a fun crazy. :)

Look, it's a bear!

It's been a busy couple of weeks!  I've been swamped with homework, studying and other fun stuff and haven't really had any time to post.  I've tried a few fun new recipes that I'll probably share when I get around to a real post again... lol.  In the meantime, to prove that I'm still around, I thought I'd share some YouTube love.  I'm sure this has made the rounds, but I hadn't seen it... saw this for the first time when we had a little YouTube fun at our Strategy mid-term study session last week.  This one nearly brought me to tears I was laughing so hard.

True story.