September 28, 2011

Anniversary Specials

Hi Friends,

First, let me please say thank you so much for continuing to follow along with us and comment on our journey. I love reading the comments and connecting with so many sweet friends, new and old, near and far, virtual and real life. :)  Seeing new friends pop up on the 'follower' list is so awesome. Not to mention reading your sweet words of support and encouragement. You all make my heart swell.

We had a sweet anniversary. I mentioned that we cooked a fabulous meal on Monday. Recipes featured below! :) I can be traditional in a lot of ways, contemporary in others. For anniversaries, we acknowledge the traditional themes of each year. Do you all do that, too?

Number one is paper. This boy is super romantic anyhow, but this gift just blew me away:
Okay, let me explain what he did. He HAND MADE paper flowers and created this beautiful centerpiece. I am obsessed with autumn anyhow, so it was a great start. But, it doesn't end there. On each flower, he wrote a special memory from our first year of marriage together. I was all tears when I saw it and just could not have imagined anything more perfect. It's back on our coffee table right now as part of our fall decor. :)

My gift paled in comparison! I created a "paper" collage of our wedding. I included all things paper: our invitation for wedding and showers, readings, special cards, napkins, etc. I framed it and it hangs in our bonus room. I love looking at the gallery of those sweet details we spent so much time planning!

Well, year number one was going to be hard to top. And, we've been through the RINGER since then. I was adamant about still celebrating every bit of the joy that is our union. No matter what else is happening in our lives, we are "us" and I'm so darn thankful for that.

Year number two is cotton. Cotton is harder to shop for! :) I knew I wanted to get hubby a shirt he had been eyeing and took the opportunity to buy this sweet little addition:

He found these little gems which I love, and would maybe like to have monogrammed soon!

But, he also bought this fun item for our kitchen:

I am always making just one cup of coffee in the morning, and love to switch it up based on season/mood/caffeine content/etc. We love it so far! Pumpkin Spice is currently my favorite, of course.

And, I may or may not have purchased these as my own "anniversary gift". Quick, funny, off topic story: A sweet friend treated me to a pedicure supporting cervical cancer, called teal toes. So precious and thoughtful, and pampering for a good cause? Yes, please. Well, let's just say that I {almost} ruined this pedicure because as soon as I got home today and saw these sitting on my doorstep I had to try them on right away. It is the little things, remember?

Well, I digress. This anniversary was really about celebrating our love, our triumphs, and our determination to survive and thrive through this life and the bumpy roads we walk on. I'm proud of us. It was a tough year. It was one of the highest highs and lowest lows I've ever experienced. I have moments where I think, "if we can get through this, we can get through anything" and then the other side of me comes back and says "count your blessings, girl." I don't know what lies ahead, and I don't know what challenges we have yet to face. It's just not my crystal ball to read. While I admittedly want to scream out "why me?!" at the top of my lungs at times, I have to remember that we are SO blessed in so many ways. I found my soul mate. We have the support of our amazing friends and family. We became pregnant and spent the most perfect days with our angels, of which I cherish with every ounce of my being. I do not lose sight of this. If anything, it is another gift from my boys, reminding us that life is so very precious and we need to appreciate and enjoy what we have in the present moment. Sweet boys. So wise.

Would I erase this year? No. Would I choose not to have experienced the pain and suffering? No. I feel as though I'm being unfolded now. I am a changed person because of having known my boys. Being any other way would say that I am not changed by their being. And that, my friends, is just impossible. Thank you, God, for choosing us to be their parents. We are blessed.

Let's switch gears. (This post is so random, I apologize!) We made a fabulous meal and I would love to share the recipes. We found them from Oprah's cookbook, and if it is good enough for Oprah, it's good enough for me. And, it is good!

Oprah's (and Margot and TJ's) Favorite Crab Cakes
1 egg
2 tsp. lemon juice
2/3 cup {light}  mayo
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. old bay seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
1 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp. bread crumbs, plus 1 1/2 cups for coating { I used panko}

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk the egg in a bowl until blended. Stir in the lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, and mayo. In a separate bowl, mix the dry mustard, celery seed, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones.

Add parsley to the crabmeat. Gently mix with your fingers, taking care not to break too many of the jumbo lumps.

Gently fold the crab mixture into the wet mixture until blended. Form into 3-inch cakes and coat with remaining bread crumbs. Chill for one hour.

Place the cakes on a large greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned on the outside, turning once with a metal spatula. Serve with cocktail sauces, tarter sauce or simply with a lemon.
*Credits to hubby for the lovely 'm' design here. I asked him to help me make the photo look pretty (haha) and he used the remoulade to create this:

Roasted Carrots, Pearl Onions and Wild Mushrooms with Tarragon
1 1/2 pounds peal onions
two (1-pound) bags of baby carrots {I used yellow and orange}
16 large thyme sprigs
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
8 ounces wild mushrooms
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
2 tbsp. coursely chopped fresh tarragon leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add onions. Blanch 2 minutesl drain in a colander and let cool. Trim stem and root ends, then slip onions out of their skins.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place onions and carrots each on a separate baking sheet with sides. To each sheet, add 8 thyme sprigs, 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper; toss until vegetables are coated evenly. Roast 25 minutes, tossing vegetables several times until lightly caramelized and slightly tender; cool.

In a large, deep skillet over high heat, melt butter and saute mushrooms until tender, about 4 minutes. Add roasted onions, carrots, broth and vinegar. Cook, tossing vegetables with a large spoon, until broth and vinegar have evaporated and vegetables are heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tarragon and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper; toss.

Cheers to year three being our best yet.


September 26, 2011

Must Have Monday~ Anniversary Edition :)

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same. ~Emily Bronte

here is one of my most favorite readings from our wedding day:
I carry your heart with me
(I carry it in
my heart)
 I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

            I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)

September 25, 2011

Hello, Pumpkin!

Now that it is {officially} autumn, I could hardly wait to try out a new pumpkin recipe. The hubby and I are gearing up for our big wedding anniversary tomorrow {number two} so we decided to celebrate over the weekend and also on the actual day to stretch out the joy. You may or may not know this about me yet, but I am big on celebrating events on the actual date. So, hubby knows that while it is perfectly fine {and actually encouraged} to celebrate my birthday over the course of a week {or month}, we had better do something special on the actual day, too. Call me high maintenance, but I've always been weird quirky that way.

With that said, we've decided to cook a fun meal tonight, and we'll go out to dinner tomorrow {on the actual day}. We started the tradition last year of trying a new and somewhat complicated recipe. Last year it was seared tuna with paprika crust, and this year it is crabcakes with autumn roasted vegetables. I know it will be delicious so I will be sure to post the new recipes a.s.a.p.!

SO, in the spirit of trying new recipes today, I couldn't wait to make these yummy cookies. The kitchen smells divine and hubby has a smile on his face. I hope you enjoy these ooey, gooey and believe-it-or-not, skinny pumpkin cookies!

Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal and Chocolate Cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
1 large egg
6 tbsp canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans
*1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
{I thought chocolate would only make these more delicious, so I added them}

Preheat oven to 350°; line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice and cinnamon. In a large bowl, with a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars on medium speed.

Add the egg, followed by the pumpkin and vanilla extract.

Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oats until just combined and no streaks of flour remain; stir in the pecans and chocolate chips.

Drop 1 tablespoon of the dough at a time onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges.
Cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 36 cookies.

original recipe can be found here

September 22, 2011

We Get to Feel it All

2,628,000 minutes. 43,800 hours. 1,825 days. 5 years.

Five years ago today I met my husband. Our 2 year wedding anniversary is coming up in a few days and that has earned its own post, but being in love with this man for 5 years also seems worthy of posting.

Friends, I thought I wasn't going to find him. I have always been an "old soul" and being the worrier that I am, I was convinced at 21 that I would not meet my Mr. Right. Crazy, I know. But, all I knew was that I hadn't met him yet and I couldn't figure out when he was going to come knocking on my door. {Obviously not the last time I would be worried about events out of my control.}

Well, the stars aligned and in he waltzed to my life on September 22, 2006. I have told you before that it was at first sight, and was it ever. I had never experienced such clarity as I did in that moment. I called my best friend after I met him {and we stood frozen in time talking like old friends for hours} and told her I had met the man I was going to marry. Used to my dramatics {remember, cat lady at 21?} she shrugged it off and told me that I couldn't possibly of known that. I have never felt so sure of anything and today and I am simply thanking God that He brought us together the way he did.

We have been through more in our five years together than I ever imagined. We have faced challenges no one should face, and we have been blessed in ways words cannot properly express. We have grown stronger and closer together in love through many bright days, and even through the darkest ones.

He has taught me to be a better person, to laugh when all I can think to do is cry, to {try} to live every day to the fullest, to {try} to stop worrying so much, and to love harder every day.

 I still think you are the most handsome man I've ever laid eyes on.
Even through bad haircuts and matching Easter egg outfits.

 I still have so much fun with you
Thank you for always challenging me

and for still trying to impress me.
Thank you for asking my parents for my hand,

 travelling with me to exotic places,

and taking my breath away.

I still love dancing with you til' our feet hurt.

I love this song. I think it's sweet and it reminds me of us.

my, my, how time flies.
first time I met you had to shade my eyes.
staring into the sun can make a girl blind.

here we sit in a shady spot.
got what I wanted and i want what I got.
but through no will of my own, I just found my way home.

here's what I learned about you: you set the sun and you hung the moon.
mid October or the month of June,
temperatures rise and fall. We get to feel it all.

sometimes, I can't tell.
you're open like a book or shut like a shell,
but if I hold you to my ear I can hear the whole world.

dark stories of a distant past, our time created in a single glass.
you like to laugh at me because I'm serious, and yes it's true.

but here's what I learned about you: you set the sun and you hung the moon.
mid October or the month of June,
temperatures rise and fall. We get to feel it all.

and time waits for no one.
So I'm remembering that day in the sun.
I was thinking you needed time to cool down.

Circumstances make us tired and colder.
that's my coat thrown around your shoulder.
I know you'll give it back to me if I need it, I believe it.

but here's what I learned about you: you set the sun and you hung the moon.
mid October or the month of June,
temperatures rise and fall. We get to feel it all.

September 19, 2011

Must Have Monday

How was your weekend? Ours was really nice. Let's have a quick recap: We ate sushi {one of our favorites} on Friday. Then, on Saturday we went for a long{ish} run, about four miles. Long for us, that is. Saturday evening we sat here:

and did this:

Then, we went to the Panthers game and watched them {almost} win. Poor guys. We'll get there!

We came home and played with this little ray of sunshine.
I even got in touch with my spark for autumn goodness as I brought out some seasonal beauties. A little early? Doesn't bother me a bit.

And, we wrapped up our Sunday with a melt-in-your-mouth chicken chili in the crockpot. Y.U.M.
I know you can't really see the chili underneath the {not-to-be-overlooked} toppings. But, do you trust me? You must. It is so good.

2 lbs ground {I use organic} chicken
3 tablespoons chili powder, plus 2 teaspoons
1{15 oz} can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1{15oz} can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 {28 oz} cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 medium sweet potato {about 10 oz} peeled and shredded *I used chopped butternut squash instead*
1 {15oz} can low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup instant tapioca {recommended: Minute tapioca}
1 to 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce with seeds, chopped *we used the whole can for extra kick!*
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves

Put the chicken in the slow cooker. Add 3 tablespoons of the chili powder and all the rest of the ingredients. Stir everything together, cover, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Just before serving, stir in the remaining chili powder and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide chili among warm {pretty} bowls and enjoy!

*recipe adapted from Food Network.*

What are your must haves on this Monday?

September 14, 2011

Easy Button

I wasn't sure where to start today. I wanted to write, but wasn't sure what to say. When I thought about it, this easy button came to mind. How I long to push that easy button!

My heart is really hurting today. I often struggle with how much is too much to share on the blog. This blog is very real and is a journal to document our lives, so it would make sense for me to share everything, but at the same time, it is mighty difficult to open myself up fully to the entire universe. You understand, right? Just know that we're climbing some mountains right now. We are working for our babies, that's for sure. It's okay. We'll do whatever it takes. Doesn't matter what it is, we'll do it. Your prayers are both needed and appreciated, always.

My husband is amazing, I've told you that. But, he is. He is a wise one and I am thankful I have him by my side to center me. One thing that has been amazing for us is the way we both naturally become "the stronger one" when the other needs to be "the one who falls apart". Of course, niether of us knew how we would handle our grief, but it has been clear that we are here to be the solid rock when the other one needs us to be. I count my blessings daily but I find I'm constantly praying for more.  I am so thankful for this man.

I have a million things floating in this mind of mine at any given time, and it can become overwhelming at times. The most prominent thought, in the very forefront of my mind, is that of my babies. I want to tell you about a dream I had not too many nights ago. During the pregnancy, I had very vivid boy dreams throughout and in my heart I knew the babies inside of me were boys. I had a feeling but I never pictured faces. Until I had my dream.

I saw my babies. They were, about eight months, I'd say. They were the most beautiful beings I had ever laid eyes on. Our boys had heads full of dark hair and their eyes were absolutely breathtaking. And, they were smiling. I was there, and I was holding them in my arms. I was smiling, too.

I woke up in tears. I wished with all of my heart and soul that my mind had a "print" button. Oh, what I would give to have that image in my hands! I can't help but wonder: is this what they look like? How could my mind create such vivid images of two people I have never "met"? When I get to Heaven, is that what they will look like? This is one of the many gifts from our twins. I wish I could explain to you what a gift this is. To see them, to know they are smiling. To hold them. They continue to bless our lives in so many unimaginable ways. Mommy and Daddy love you so much, sweet boys.

So, recalling this gift reminds me that I need to do my best here on Earth. I need to pull myself together FOR them. There will be okay days, not-so-okay days, downright bad days, and even good days. I need to embrace all of them and live each one to the fullest because I am still here. That is my blessing and that is  my gift. I will take the steps on this Earth that they cannot.

Alas, my heart is still hurting. I don't expect that hurt to go away anytime soon. I am getting used to it being there, and it is now natural. I will be concerned on the day I do not feel a breaking heart!

Please don't stop praying. We are so thankful for you and your continued support. Wouldn't it be grand if all we had to do was push the easy button and all of our worries went away? I know it's a fantasy, and rightfully so.

When {and I'm trying to say when, not if} we are blessed again, we will know, with unquestionable doubt, how very precious life is. We will give our all to our little one(s) and will spend our lives thanking God and our precious twins for the continued gifts in our lives.

In th meantime, I just need to remember this:

and, this:

"He has made everything beautiful in its time..."~Ecclesiastes 3:11

September 12, 2011

Margot's Must-Have Monday

Do you have a case of the Mondays? I wanted to try something different to spice up the day. On Must-Have Mondays, I will blog about products, ideas, events and maybe even people I'm loving. Yes, it could be a bit random, like FYS can be, but that is okay. I suppose I have the license to randomness right now. Just as I have the license to use words like randomness. Alright, without further adieu...
This is my favorite everyday lip treatment. Not only does it moisturize, it adds a pretty pop of color, making it a two-in-one delight. I love the shade above, but I also have the plum, which is a richer color. I can't wait to try passion next!


These were given to me as a gift and oh.my.goodness. I now use them each night before bed and my hands and feet have never felt so soft! Go ahead, pamper yourself. You won't be sorry!

These are still on my must-have list. I am a nail polish fanatic and believe one of the easiest and most interchangable accessories to any outfit is the perfect nail color. I am loving these amazing fall shades.
Autumn is in the air...

..and in the cup. I found a recipe for a do-it-yourself skinny pumpkin latte here. Haven't tried it yet, but it is on my list!

What are some of your must-haves right now?? I'd love to hear about them. :)

September 10, 2011

Jewelry Organizer

Hi, Friends. :) Thank you so much for all of your sweet comments on the past two posts. It truly means so much to me to hear from you and even though I don't always feel like a strong woman, your words definitely give me strength and I am thankful for that.And, I'll be sure to post the unfried green tomatoes recipe soon! :)

So, this is my first crafy attempt that I am sharing on the blog. Let me preface by saying that I feel I've always wanted to be more crafty than I actually am. Elementary school teacher and all. So, I'm not sure if this counts, but I'm trying to get in touch with my inner Martha Stewart these days.

Have you ever found yourself searching for the perfect accessory and were unable to find it? Or, you find yourself knee-deep in a closet re-organization {another post in itself} and you feel like you've won the lottery when you find that top or necklace you haven't seen or worn in a couple of years? Sad to admit, but it's the first step to acceptance. :) I might be a hoarder. Ok, that's taking it a little far. I am not a hoarder, though I felt like one this summer as  I re-discovered all of my jewelry that had been stashed away in various places due to not having a decent system in place for organizing all of it. That leads me to today's craft.

I made an attempt at this last summer, but it turned out to be too small and not as sturdy as it needed to be. I started fresh this summer and am happy to say that so far, we're holding strong!

What you'll need:
A large, sturdy cork board {the thicker, the better!}
fabric, pattern of your choice
hot glue gun
pretty push pins {large and small}

Cut the fabric to fit your board. Hot glue corners, sides and middle. I didn't plan on doing the bows but I had some extra fabric and ended up loving them. Go Martha Margot, Go!
Here is the before:

And, here's the after:

{Please excuse the poor lighting in the closet!}

I promise this craft is easy peasy and will stop you from pulling your hair out trying to find that right piece to go with your outfit in the morning.

Now, this system works great for dangly earrings and necklaces, but I still have issues with studs and bracelets. I'm working on that right now, but would love any suggestions you have for organizing yours! Please let me know if you have any questions!

Have a happy Saturday, loves.

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