Senioritis + White Chicken Chili.

Am I the only one that was dreading going back to school this semester? I feel like this is the first term since I’ve been in college that I really just didn’t want classes to begin. Sam and all my friends were so excited, but it’s taken me a little while to warm up to going back. Getting some new school supplies helped, and we got most of the wedding preparations done over winter break so I have less to worry about on top of classes and work. Unfortunately, poor Sam has caught the flu, so I’ve been spending the last couple of days nursing him back to health.  I’ve finally lost my taste for grilled cheese and tomato soup, so I pulled out some recipes and decided to try one I’ve had stored away for a while, it was so simple and came out even better than I expected so I knew I had to share with you guys, enjoy!

WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

INGREDIENTS: 4 cups cubed cooked chicken, 3 cups chicken broth, one cup of salsa, one small can of green chili, 1/2 large white onion chopped, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 cans of Northern Beans, 1 can of Northern Beans blended in blender (for thickness), 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 teaspoon dried basil, 3 tablespoons of butter

DIRECTIONS: 

  • Melt butter in a large pot, add garlic and onions, cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Add remaining ingredients, simmer on medium heat for 25-30 minutes.
  • Serve warm. (We added a little shredded cheese and sour cream after dishing it up, optional but highly recommended)

 

Advertisements

Hello, 2018!

Happy New Year, everyone! To be honest, New Year’s has never really been a big holiday to me. I love the idea of a fresh start, but I believe you can start over at any time. I’ve made a couple New Year’s resolutions in the past that I didn’t stick to or quickly forgot about, but it seems when this time of year rolls around I start thinking about what I’d like to change in the upcoming year.

The only thing I want to work on, the only thing I can think to change, I just want more. I want to cook more, craft more, spend more time with Sam, my mom, my close friends. I want to take things a little slower, linger a little longer, and make time to read more often. I want to learn to let go a lot more, and to be more patient with myself. I want to talk less, and listen more, and allow myself to take in moments more fully. I want to start going on long walks alone to center myself again, and not be so worried about the things I can’t control. I want to take out my oil paints more and make more things with my hands.

2017 was both beautiful and a nightmare, and I experienced what it’s like to feel whole and completely lost all at the same time, so I hope in this year I’ll learn to worry less about the gap between those two and to just accept the journey. I hope your last day of 2017 and first of 2018 were memorable. Here’s to the year ahead!

Christmas Adventure: Leavenworth + Seattle.

LeavenworthY’all this trip has been so good for our hearts. I had forgotten how much fun exploring a new place is, and watching Sam trying to maneuver around an unfamiliar environment is so cute. The roads from Salt Lake City were a nightmare, but when we finally got to Idaho it was smooth sailing from there!

We decided to stay in a small town outside of Leavenworth named Wenatchee and we absolutely fell in love with it. After we unpacked, we went out to dinner at a restaurant named McGlinn’s and had the most amazing food and drinks (Huckleberry Riesling is a new favorite thanks to them), and everyone we met in Wenatchee were so friendly, they really made our night.

The next morning was Christmas Eve, so we drove down to Leavenworth, and it was beautiful, festive, and completely packed with people. It took almost an hour to find parking, but once we did we were off! The first thing we did was run to Andreas Keller to make reservations for dinner that night, then went to the gingerbread factory for some cookies, sat and watched the sledders on the hill, went to the town’s little bookstore, and spent the rest of the afternoon meandering around town.

wenatcheeWe made our way back to Andrea Keller for dinner and had the greatest German food and got to listen to live folk music. I tried my first mulled wine as well, I don’t usually like red wine so I was a little apprehensive, but oh my goodness it was delicious, definitely a new Christmas tradition. By the end of the night, it was snowing softly and we drove back to Wenatchee to decorate the little Christmas tree we had brought along with us, stick the presents in our stockings, and fell asleep watching Christmas Vacation.

The next day we woke up early and unwrapped presents, and laid around drinking hot cocoa. We had originally planned to go back to Leavenworth, but we had done so much on Christmas Eve, we decided to stay in Wenatchee and walk around the town there instead. There’s two big bridges that run across a river with scenic views, so we walked across them and took some pictures of the town (and some selfies, please excuse the blurry phone photos).

We left for Seattle the next morning, and arrived a lot early than we had planned so we parked the car at the hotel and walked to the Space Needle. Sam really likes an architect that designed the Museum of Pop Culture so we went there as well, and headed to Public Market Center for some food, and to stick some gum on the gum wall. seattleWe wanted to do something neither of us had done in Seattle before, so we went for a ride in the Great Wheel. This was our second trip to Seattle together, and although we’ve been to a lot of fun places, it’s hands down our favorite city. The weather is perfect, there’s amazing food on every corner, almost everything is within walking distance, and the people are so friendly. It was the perfect Christmas, and it’s the first New Years Eve in two years that we haven’t had to work, so we’re excited to ring in 2018 together with friends! We hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and have fun welcoming the New Year!

Winter Travel Essentials.

suitcase

Our trip to Washington is almost here, and we couldn’t be more excited! We’ve been on winter break for a while now, but both have been working a lot lately to have a little extra spending money while we’re away. We started packing this week, and wanted to share what we thought was worth while taking with us!

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey- This is one of my all time favorite books, which I don’t say lightly. I read it for the first time years ago, and since we were going to be spending plenty of time in the car surrounded by snow, it has inspired me to pick up a copy from the library to reread on the trip.

Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Organic Hand Sanitizer- We like to pack food for road trips to save money, and we don’t always have a place or the time to stop and wash our hands every time we eat, so this stuff has been a blessing on more than one occasion. It smells fantastic and leaves hands feeling fresh without drying them out.

Goodness Knows Cranberry Almond Dark Chocolate- When I did ballet, I always had these with me. They’re the perfect combination of tart, salty, and sweet, and only 150 calories per bar.

Lumene CC Cream- I have search high and low for a CC or BB cream that I wouldn’t have to use concealer with, and this is it. I ordered it during Cyber Monday from Dermstore for a steal and shipping was free! I don’t want to pack a lot of makeup on the trip with me because I want my mornings to be as fuss free as possible, so I’m just taking this with a couple lipsticks and mascara.

Pendleton Lambswool Plaid Throw- Sam’s mom is really good at finding things at thrift shops, and our adventure blanket was one of her finds. Like most Pendleton products, it’s very durable and warm. We always keep a blanket in the car in case we want to picnic or see a movie.

Emergen-C Super Orange- It seems like everyone around us is getting sick, so we’re super careful about taking these along with our daily vitamins. They’re a great way to get a little extra energy too, which never hurts when you’re driving a lot.

iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Eye Mask- I have terrible insomnia, and cannot fall asleep unless it’s completely dark, which it hardly ever is. I started wearing this eye mask several months ago, and I’ve never slept better. The only downside is that it’s insanely pricey because it has copper infused silk to be gentle on delicate skin around eyes. My mother bought these for us on sale for like $10, so if you keep an eye out for them around the holidays, chances are you may find them discounted.

iluminage Rejuvenating Pillowcase- Same brand, same amazing benefits, same ridiculous price tag. This was another I was luck enough to grab while they were on sale during Black Friday. When I started wearing my hair natural, I read a lot about the benefits of silk pillows for your skin and hair, so I’ve been using it ever since. Understandably, most hotels don’t carry silk pillowcases so I make sure to pack one with me where ever I go.

The only other products that are worth mentioning that I’ve mentioned on previous posts would be Mario Badescu Facial Spray and Aveda Hand Relief Moisturizing Creme. I probably won’t be posting a whole lot during the trip so I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Slow Cooker Tapioca.

Hello! Just a short post today, between working and getting these last final papers turned in I’m all tapped out. I worked an overnight shift last night into this morning and New In Town was on Hulu, if you haven’t seen it and like romantic comedies, you should definitely check it out. Renee Zellweger plays a business woman from Miami sent to help a factory in a small town and encounters Jesus loving, meatloaf cooking, scrapbook making Minnesotans. A running joke throughout the movie is a character’s secret tapioca recipe. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted tapioca more in my life than at three this morning, so I decided to try to make it for the first time tonight! It was so quick and delicious, it’s one of our new favorite treats.

INGREDIENTS: 1/2 cup small pearl tapioca (make sure it’s not instant), 4 cups of whole milk, 2 eggs lightly beaten, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, nutmeg

DIRECTIONS:

  • Combine all ingredients (except nutmeg) together in slow cooker.
  • Let cook on High for 3-4 hours stirring every half hour.
  • Once cooked, sprinkle nutmeg on top and serve warm.

December Beauty Favorites.

It’s finally December, and our favorite holiday is just around the corner! With each assignment turned in, I’m feeling more and more free for winter break. These were several products I’ve been noticing myself use more lately as the holidays approach!

Gabrielle Chanel Eau De Parfum- I’ve mentioned before that a lot of perfumes give me headaches, but I really wanted to find a perfume to wear on our wedding. My momsy’s favorite perfume is Chanel No. 5 but it smells a little mature on me, so I was hoping to find something by Chanel that smelled more like me, and to me, Gabrielle is the perfect blend of classic and feminine.

I’m Not Really A Waitress by OPI Nail Lacquer – I remember the first time I wore this color after I started dating Sam and he went on and on about how much he loved it on me, so I always feel extra special when I wear it. It’s the most perfect Christmas red with a lovely pearl finish.

Aveda Hand Relief Moisturizing Creme- My mother bought this hand cream a couple years ago, and it’s been a staple of mine ever since. It’s so hydrating, but doesn’t leave my hands feeling tacky. A little goes a long ways so it lasts forever.

Neutrogena Night Calming Makeup Remover Towelettes- I tend to wear a little more makeup during the winter when we go to holiday parties, and these are the only makeup remover wipes I’ve used that aren’t too oily or too dry. I have fairly sensitive skin and certain chemicals will cause a reaction, but these are really gentle. Also it you have a Sam’s Club membership, they frequently have them in bunk for a steal.

Shea Moisture Head to Toe Argon Oil- This was a present from a friend and I’m so in love with it, I use it on my face at night, and will often run it through the ends of my hair to prevent breakage. It’s a dry oil, so leaves my hair and skin hydrated without feeling oily.

L’Oreal Colour Riche Lipstick in Zoe’s Red- This was the first deep red lipstick that I’ve liked with my skin tone. A couple years ago I read somewhere that it was going to be discontinued and I rushed to the store to pick up a couple extras, but lo and behold, it wasn’t discontinued and now I have plenty left when this one runs out.

Milani Keep It Sweet Sugar Lip Scrub- My lips get really dry in the winter, so this is an must-have for me. It’s exfoliating enough to smooth without being overly abrasive. Plus it smells just like sugar cookies!

FarmHouse Fresh Peat Perfection Mask- I hadn’t heard of peat until a couple weeks ago when I was given a sample of this mask. I went home that night and research how it’s used in body products and now I’m completely obsessed. The mask itself is really lovely, I apply it with a brush and let it dry for about 20 minutes before rinsing and my skin looks and feels great.

Slow Cooker Gumbo + Bloody Beer Mary.

cookingToday is our last day of classes for the semester! I still have three final papers due after today, but at least don’t have class now too. I recently discovered a documentary channel on YouTube called Real Stories, and in the last couple of days I’ve watched videos on young nuns, bipolar disorder, unusual marriages, anorexia, transgender kids, and childhood obesity. I feel like I have too much information in my brain and I need to watch some New Girl to cleanse my mind.

We made slow cooker gumbo and a lager version of a Bloody Mary for dinner tonight to celebrate, and it was so good. Traditional gumbo has okra and roux, but our grocery store in Salt Lake doesn’t really carry okra and we’re trying to eat cleaner so we went roux-less, but they’re both delicious in it so if you want to add them, you won’t be disappointed.

SLOW COOKER GUMBO

INGREDIENTS: One pound of chicken breast cut into small pieces, one pound raw shrimp without shells and tails, one pound of andouille smoked sausage, one and one third cup of cooked rice, half of an onion diced, one diced green pepper, one diced jalapeno pepper, three ribs of diced celery, one 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, two cups of chicken broth, three teaspoon of minced garlic, one tablespoon of Cajun spice, one teaspoon thyme, one teaspoon oregano, french bread (optional)

DIRECTIONS: 

  • In the slow cooker, combine all ingredients except rice and shrimp.
  • Cook on high 4-6 hours.
  • The last hour of cooking, salt shrimp lightly and add to slow cooker. In the last half hour, cooked rice and set aside.
  • Serve gumbo warm over rice with french bread.

BLOODY BEER MARY

INGREDIENTS: Bloody Mary mix, Uinta Lime pilsner, sea salt, Cajun seasoning, pickles, one lemon

DIRECTIONS:

  • Dampen rim of Mason jar and roll across sea salt and Cajun seasoning.
  • Mix one cup Bloody Mary mix with one cup beer (can vary depending on the ratio you like)
  • Top with pickles and lemon slice.

A New Kind of Christmas.

annie-spratt-174456Normally we would already have our tree up and apartment fully decorated by now, but we’ve decided to go to Leavenworth, Washington for Christmas this year so we’re packing our little tree and stockings to take with us and set up in the hotel! Last Christmas, we spent the holidays with Sam’s family, and the Christmas before that, he came to Denver to celebrate with me and my family, but this is our first Christmas just the two of us. Even though we’ll be adventuring around Leavenworth for the first couple of days, we decided to implement some of our favorite family traditions into the trip.

On Christmas Eve, Sam’s family prepares a “shepherd’s dinner” where they eat food that shepherd’s would have eaten at the time time of Jesus’ birth, such as lamb, hummus, dolmades, pita, and lentils. My momsy and I usually open presents super early Christmas morning, and make cinnamon rolls, bacon, and hot cocoa. Then we’ll cuddle up on the couch and watch seasonal movies all day. So those are all things we want to make a point of doing on our first Christmas away. It’s been interesting to discuss the traditions we want to have with our own family someday, what parts of our upbringing we want to keep, and which we don’t feel the need to continue.

It’s been hard to wrap my head around that this will be the first Christmas I spend away from my mother, but I’m always equally thrilled to see her regardless of the time of year. When my parents were newlyweds, my mother’s father told her the best thing a young couple can do for their relationship is go unfamiliar places together. It teaches them rely on each other, and gives them time and space to chose what’s right for them without their families influence. We know the holidays can be a stressful time of year for some, so we hope you’re able to take time to do something you enjoy. As always, until next time, take care.

Our Money Saving Tips.

coinsBlack Friday has come and gone too soon, but it was fun while it lasted. It’s probably no surprise that this has been a pretty expensive year for us between planning the wedding, paying tuition, and some travel, but we have some tips we use to stay frugal and save a little along the way!

  1. Membership Programs: Some membership-only companies offer discounts to university students, such as Sam’s Club. We got their Collegiate Membership last year and it cost about $45, but definitely paid itself off within a couple months. It’s been great to use towards items we use frequently so we can stock up like toothpaste and paper towels, and most of our kitchenware and electronics are from Sam’s Club as well. Unfortunately it isn’t always the cheapest place to find produce, but their rotisserie chickens, loafs of bread, and snacks are often a lot cheaper than purchasing from a market.
  2. Produce: We usually get most of our grocery’s from Smith’s Marketplace, which sells a lot of value brand products. If you’re enrolled in their free rewards programs, you’ll usually save several dollars each visit. We also like to get snack foods from Trader Joe’s because they’re often cheap and tasty.
  3. Meal Planning: I never really understood meal prepping until this past year. I use to get home early every night and make a different meal with the food we had, but this year has been a busy one, so I’m trying to be better at it. We go grocery shopping weekly, and write out all the ingredients needed and try to stick with it before we go to the store, or I’ll get caught up in the “Oh, that looks good!” and end up spending money on a bunch of food we don’t need, which will then go bad if we don’t eat in time. We try to make a big meal (so we’ll have plenty of left overs) with lots of fresh veggies then when we begin finishing it off, we’ll make a second meal that has mainly canned ingredients, like our vegetarian chili recipe, so nothing goes bad before we finish the first meal.
  4. Coupons: We’ve tried being really diligent about coupons in the past, and to be completely honest, it hasn’t always worked out. I get so overwhelmed with how many coupons are available, but usually don’t go towards what we use. So now I only look for coupons once I’ve meal planned that’ll actually apply to the food we’re going to get. Don’t get me wrong, coupons are great, but don’t feel obligated to get things with coupons you wouldn’t normally use unless you have the space to really stock up.
  5. Beauty:  I’ve found that my favorite beauty reward program is Ultamate Rewards. I like Ulta’s more than others because they offer both drugstore and high end products, so when I want to just grab a drugstore brand mascara, the points I get from purchasing can go towards something more expensive later.
  6. Make Loose Change Count: My mom and I use to pay for trips by saving loose change all year. We were able to pay for our flights and always had some spending money left over just from change. Sam and I don’t use cash all that often, but this year we decided that when we do we would put the change in a mason jar. It’s getting pretty full so we’re going to take it to the bank before the new year to see how much we were able to collect!

Black Friday,Yay!

heidi-sandstrom-173946It’s always seemed a little strange to me that the day after Thanksgiving there’s massive sales. Every year I cringe watching the news broadcasts people trampling each other for a $15 DVD player, but I can also see the fun side of Black Friday. I remember going shopping with my mom and grandma the day after Thanksgiving for Christmas presents for the family. Now I do most of my shopping online, so I don’t really feel the need to get a black eye over said $15 DVD player, but still found some deals from the convenience of home and local drugstore. Most of my purchases were beauty related, so I’ll share a couple of the products I’m most excited about!

BS-MALLS Premium 14 Piece Brush Set in Rose Gold- I’ve had the same makeup brushes for about four or five years, and although they’re still in working condition, they look like they’ve taken a beating, and I couldn’t resist these. I found them on Amazon for about $11, and not only are they gorgeous, but they have really great reviews so I’m really excited to try them.

Biore UV Aqua Rich SPF 50- I read an article about Japan being the front runner for sunscreen, they’re methods of determining how well sunscreens work (and feel) are a lot better than ours. This particular sunscreen came up often and until recently, it wasn’t available to buy this side of the pond, but thank goodness for the internet. I snagged it for $9, and shipping was free.

Jergens Shea Butter Body Lotion- I picked this up this morning at a drugstore on my way home from work, it was a couple dollars off so it was pretty cheap. I’ve always loved Jergens, but have never tried this one. I’ve also tried other Shea butter lotions before, but they were all really heavy and thick and I never felt like they absorbed into my skin. Although I’ve only used it twice, it spreads so much easier, and feels so moisturizing.