A Diary of our Current Meanderings, Thoughts, and Adventures...


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snowy Day Recipe

I won't lie, I pride myself on my soups. I. LOVE. MAKING/TASTING/EATING AND EXPERIMENTING with SOUP!!

Soups I love to make: Corn Chowder, Chili, Baked Potato, Kale & Potato, Wild Rice & Mushroom, Chicken Noodle...and my newest favorite: Brocoli Cheddar. MMMMmmm....

This, my friends, is the perfect belly-coating, warm, and luscious meal you'll eat this winter. I've made it with a honey corn bread from this recipe here: Honey Corn Bread but next time I'd like to make my own.

Here is the recipe, and I hope you all enjoy!!

2 heads of brocoli--broken into small florets
4 large carrots shredded
1 red onion chopped small
2 cups light or heavy cream
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 heaping tbsp. flour
1 cup water
1 stick butter
3 cups cheddar cheese (I did one sharp/2 mild)
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder.

Simmer the butter on low until melted. Add chopped onions and simmer until transluscent. Add 2 tbsp. flour until a nice rue is formed. Add broth and water and turn up heat.
Once boiling, add brocoli and carrots. When veggies are soft, add cream and cheese to pot. Turn heat to medium and let sit and simmer. Then add spices to taste. I won't lie, I am a salt/pepper freak, :) so I add much more than what I've put here.

I hope you all enjoy this as much as my family did!

Friday, January 21, 2011

I promised pics!

Well, the living room is another step closer to being complete. :) Here is what we've done:

Exposed our brick chimney! The hope is to put a wood burning stove on the floor and through the chimney--in the works for the Fall '11!

Here is another shot of the brick, with our new lighting.

New recessed lighting! Remember the ugly ceiling fan? Gone! The gold lighting? Gone! We now have canned recess lighting on the sides of the ceiling. You can't see the other changes quite as well here, but basically, the exposed ends of the beamed ceiling have now been closed up on all ends with dry wall. All electrical wires that were exposed have now been hidden as well.
So thankful to my husband and our friends: Robert, Rob, Jarrod, Mike, Joel and Kent for their help on this project! :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Living Room Renovations

As I write this, I am sitting in my parent's kitchen, biting my lip and fingernails in nervousness. Why? My husband is currently demolishing our living room, and re-creating it into a new space, that's all!
This past July, we began work on our living room ceiling and walls. The goal: exposed ceiling beams, a potential wood-burning fire place, and bookshelves--lots of 'em. We got a good jump this summer--exposing the beams and putting up shelving, but there was still much to be done. Things like this get put off until January, however, when you run out of time and money!

Here is what got accomplished in July:

And this:
(except with bookshelves on either side of the brown wall)

Here are some of the looks we were inspired by:

This weekend, with the help of friends, shout-outs to our great friends: Joel Smith, Robert Scobey, Rob Lairmore, and Jarrod Shaffer, we hope to finish the exposed beams work and close up the sides with sheet rock, change the lighting in the room to recess lighting instead of the awful celing fan lighting, and make way for the fireplace we intend to have next Winter!

So far, I have no pictures...I'll get to see first hand how things are progressing tomorrow. But don't worry--I'll keep you posted! Keep your fingers crossed with me!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Welcome 2011--And Re-Capping 2010

I promise...I will continue to plug away at this blogging thing, even when I give up for extended periods of time. I decided that this post will celebrate the year 2010. I always love getting newsletters from friends and families around the holidays. I love to know what's going on with others, even when I only get to see them once in a blue moon.
Here's my attempt to update you on our year in a nutshell, and what's to come in this new year.


Last January we enjoyed lots of snow, an 8 month-old baby, and convincing lots of friends to move to our little neck of the woods in Gloucester City, NJ. New Jersey was hit was THREE huge blizzards last year, and we really enjoyed every second of it! I particularly remembering snuggling on the couch with the family and making snow forts with my friends Riley and Grayson Hulfish.

I also turned 25 years old in February which was enjoyable to celebrate!

Spring is always the best time around here, when we can take walks through our little town, go to the park, exercise OUTdoors, and enjoy some of my favorite cooking: barb-e-qued anything. (minus the barbeque sauce)

Noa turned 1 year old in April and we celebrated with a party in our own backyard. It was lots of fun and she was royally spoiled with friends, family and gifts to celebrate with.

Bryce also began to re-discover some long lost loves of his...disc golf and baseball...both of which he played a whole lot of growing up, but hadn't really kept up with much since then, besides following our Phillies and his first love: the Cubs.

He began going on many early morning disc golf adventures with our friends Rob and Kent, as well as introducing it to the rest of the gang. Noa particularly loves to put the disc in the basket, and she's good at it too!

Baseball was an adventure for all of us...the excitement kept him up all night the very first time he organized his own game! From retro jerseys, 80's baseball mustaches, finding friends to play and creating a line-up card, it was really all a baseball lover could ask for. Noa and I are good cheerleaders and score keepers too.

These hobbies, along with other fun outdoor activities extended well into our summer. I especially love summer because I get a couple of weeks free of work....and time to travel! Getting out of the house is always a plus for me!

The summer of 2010 was no different. Bryce and I were able to take a much-needed mini-vacation to Shanendoah National Park. Shanendoah was absolutely beautiful, and nature-ific! HA--I was not ready for the bears, deer, raccoons, skunks, possums..YIKES! We were able to do one night of camping, and one night in a fancy mountain top lodge--we both won. :)
We also headed out to Iowa for some Hewlett family fun. It was great to visit in the summertime, and actually RELAX instead of our normal rush-rush holiday visits in December. Noa really loves her "Nana & Bumpa", and all of her aunts and uncles. We even snuck in a visit to the Field of Dreams in Iowa which was very cool!
Bryce and I were also priveledged to take a day trip down to St. Louis and see our good friends get married. Have you ever seen the St. Louis arch? It is QUITE cool!

The rest of our summer was basically spent hanging out at my mom and step-dad's pool...Grammy and Bumpa Jim were gracious enough to let us lounge and swim and stay cool! Noa became quite the water bug, and I am looking forward to getting her into some swimming lessons this winter.

Bryce turned 26 in August and we celebrated with a Batting cage birthday extravangza. If you are wondering where we got the awesome cake, (and the one for Noa's 1st b-day-"Hooray for Fish" themed, you should check out my friend Renee's blog: Cakes by Renee

We also celebrated out 3rd year anniversary (with our daughter this time) by finishing off the summer at the Jersey Shore--Ocean City. It was probably one of the most enjoyable days of the year, lounging on the boards with my family, letting Noa explore the ocean, and consuming my very favorite pizza of all time-Mack n' Manco's. Mmm....I am missing summer and that pizza as I write this!

Our sister Emily moved in with us as well, keeping an eye on Noa for me as I work a couple of days a week, helping around the house, and overall just living life in the great state of New Jersey. We absolutely love having her here. She is a friend, the most amazing baby-sitter, and a lovely person. We hope she stays for a very long time!

Fall brought another new school year for me at Agora Cyber Charter School. I always love the first day of school and all that it brings me professionally. I still love to work with students and enjoy being a part of education on all levels.

In October we took a family trip to the beautiful state of New Hampshire to see the fall foliage and just "get away". It was quite an adventure...we all really needed! The apple orchard was a highlight--Noa thought that picking apples off of the trees was the most amazing thing. I am looking forward to introducing her to much more "pick your own" adventures this year!

Halloween was probably the most fantastic holiday for Miss Noa...as she got to dress like a ballerina, (a favorite costume), knock on doors (a favorite hobby) and say "REAT!!" [trick-or-treat] - and receive candy in her pink pumpkin. (a favorite food) She couldn't have been more pleased with the day's events!

The holidays from there out were a bustling time. My step-dad Jim had surgery at the end of November which has been a difficult time for him. We are all praying for his recovery, and hoping to keep his spirits high.
I, along with my sisters in law, mother in law, and aunt ran in my very first Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving--a 5 miler. I was quite happy with my results and will definitely race again in the near future!
We took not one, but TWO roadtrips to Iowa for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. That's right, FOUR 16 hour trips in about a 5 week time period. Yes, we are probably crazy. But it was really wonderful seeing so many friends and family on both trips.
After our trip to Iowa at Christmas, we also drove to Wisconsin to spend some time with my extended family. What a great time we had, with Noa's very first sledding trip, Bryce and my uncles singing Christmas carols Elvis-style, eating my grandmother's incredible food, and playing Wii sports. It is always a good time being there!

I think I am finally over 2010 and ready to move into 2011. Will you join us on the adventure in the new year?