About Me

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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Feeling Cheesy

It is the middle of the week & I just finished lapping up a delicious bowl of beef stew - that stuff is definitely a cold(ish) weather staple for me. I had two new recipes that I thought I'd share - both involving one of my favorite things - cheese! Hence the title of the post. I've just recently discovered this blog: http://bellsandkilts.blogspot.com/ which is really worth checking out. This girl makes up stuff all the time with whatever she has in her cabinets & for the most part, it all seems to turn out looking pretty delicious. I read her blog every once in a while at the office & it has made my mouth water on more than one occasion. That being said, on to the cheesy recipes! :)

Three Cheese Spaghetti

OK - so I totally intended to make homemade mac & cheese last night, but I discovered I only had a handful of bow tie pasta or q box of spaghetti. I wanted pasta & I figured cheese sauce would taste good on noodles regardless of how they are shaped - so I just started tossing things into the pot!

Spaghetti noodles, broken into small(ish) pieces
Milk (approx 2 cups...not totally sure b/c I poured at random - you can eyeball it.)
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
3/4 cup pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. butter
minced onion - just eyeball this as well
dash of pepper - seriously, not much...

Cook noodles & drain

Melt butter in saucepan, adding in onions & swirl it all around good! Gradually add milk & cheese at intervals. Keep a good whisking of the sauce going because since this is all milk based, it will burn really quick. The sauce should start to thicken after about 5-10 minutes of cooking. I also added in just a dash of pepper for a little extra spice.

Mix together sauce & noodles, pour into baking dish & top with shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes at 325. It will come out bubbly & delicious!

Mixing all the goodness together - this pic is blurry but there is a slight bubbling - that is a good thing!

Add the noodles into the cheesy sauce...it is smelling so good!

Ready to go into the oven....

And fresh out of the oven - all melty, bubbly & delicious!

Yum! Yum! Time to eat up!











If you are a fan of cheese - you would really like this recipe because it is essentially spaghetti with cheese sauce as opposed to marinara sauce. And it is baked. I loved it & I'm glad I've got some leftovers for later in the week. I just went with what I had laying around & it turned out to be pretty good! Now - on to the other cheesiness.

Four Cheese & Bacon Chowder

1 bag four cheese blend (you can choose any type, I used Sargentos Four State Cheddar, which is where I got this recipe)
3-4 slices bacon
minced onions
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
pepper
3 tbsp. all purpose flour

Cook the bacon in soup pot until crisp, remove bacon with a fork & set aside for later. Cook onions in bacon drippings. Add in a bit of pepper.

Add flour & gradually add in milk & chicken broth, whisking slowly to form a rue. You don't want to let your flour get too lumpy, so gradually add the milk & chicken broth so that you are keeping the mixture creamy.

Add about a cup of cheese mix, gradually. The original recipe calls for almost 2 cups of cheese, but I didn't really want the cheese taste to be overwhelming, so I didn't use as much. It's your call how much you actually add. Remember that this should cook on about medium heat - you don't want it to burn & stick to the bottom but a few bubbles are a good thing. Just keep giving it a stir/whisk ever so often for about 20 minutes.

Tear your bacon into pieces & add back into the soup. Cook for about 5 minutes more & then ladle it up! You should have a thick, creamy & filling soup. It doesn't taste too cheesy, nor does it taste too bacon-y, what it does taste is absolutely yummy!

Ingredients at the ready....

You gotta love crispy bacon - that means something is going to be good!

Whisking - very important so that things don't get too lumpy!

In goes the cheese...very delicious!

Add in that crispy bacon....

Yeah - this stuff is delicious!






Well, I guess that is about all for now. Just wanted to share these recipes real quick with everyone - even if everyone is only about 4 of you. I've got to get some other stuff done before I can settle in to watch "Happy Endings" in a little while. Hope everyone has a good Tuesday night!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Autumn Update

Somehow the month of October has almost completely come & gone - I mean, November will be here next week! I always manage to be amazed at how time passes; there are days when I feel like this year has lasted for quite a long time but more often than not I am absolutely amazed at how quickly this year has passed. I look at my desk calendar at the office & remember in January when I first set it up, it seemed so thick & offered a look at the months yet to come. Now it is so thin & serves a reminder of how quickly this year has flown by. Like I said, I occasionally feel like the year has passed slowly...but that is very occasionally.

This post is going to be picture heavy - I've come to realize that a lot of my posts are picture heavy, but I like to share pics to go along with what I'm typing, not to mention I know of at least one person that lives far, far away from me & might enjoy the pictures more than others. :) Yes Nickolee, I'm talking about you. Of course, I guess my parents & Lindsey like the pictures too. Enough said on that though.

I am so blessed with such wonderful friends, that is just the truth. I was able to spend my birthday weekend with two of those sweet friends - Lisa & Kristen. I stayed with Lisa & she really just rolled out the welcome mat for me. She cooked some delicious taco soup for supper on Friday night; we just sat around watching TV & chatting, a great way to chill out after a long week.

Birthday morning - a wee bit overcast...



Silly me - I thought I'd enjoy a nice cup of morning coffee on the porch of Lisa' apartment on Saturday, but it was actually pretty breezy out & the wind blowing off the lake was slightly chillier than I was ready for at 7 in the morning, so I just sipped my brew on the couch. I decided that I'd love some birthday breakfast, so we headed out to Cracker Barrel for some good food. I also got to meet a friend of Lisa's who so sweetly bought my birthday breakfast - talk about the kindness of strangers! Shopping is always important when you have birthday money, so I made a few purchases before we had the ever important GiGi's cupcake to celebrate my turning another year older. Lisa & I met up with Kristen at Biaggi's for supper; absolutely delicious as always & sweet Lisa so kindly bought my birthday supper. I'm telling you guys, I couldn't ask for better friends if I tried. Thank you Lisa & Kristen for helping my celebrate 28! Love you guys! :)

Birthday Cupcakes for the road - they were all pretty delicious!

Kristen & I after supper - love this pic!

Birthday goodies! :)

Lisa & I after supper - yay for great friends!

So glad to call you both my friends!

Birthday dinner...and presents!



I was able to have Monday off for my birthday, but since I can't ever just be chill...I ended up doing some decorating for Halloween, cleaning & sprucing up some things & basically not being relaxed. I find that I'm becoming more like my Momma every day; I just can't sit still if I think of something that needs to be taken care of. My Momma is pretty great though, so there are much worse fates than turning into my Mother. ;)

My "creepy" porch...

I love my Autumn Snoopy - such an awesome birthday gift!

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere...

Also, how much do I love Tango? I don't know if you guys have iPhones or even have any clue what Tango is. I know my family does because we use it on a regular basis. It has been one of the best apps I've ever downloaded onto my phone. I just can't ever really get the whole Face Time thing on my phone to work out so well, but Tango always works & works great! My family & I use it routinely; it has allowed Lindsey & I to take "tours" of my parent's new townhouse, for me to show off the way(s) I have rearranged the furniture so that I can get votes of approval (or not) & it also lets my Mom "talk" to her grand dog, who usually just stares at the screen looking very confused. Ha-ha. Lindsey & I also have some pretty epic conversations, as evidenced by the photos below...

Something must be funny....

I mean, confused much?


Autumn also brings crazy weather here in good ol' Mississippi. It can be 65 one day & 90 the next, I know - insane. When the weather can't make up its mind, neither can your body. So...I joined the ranks of the sniffy, sneezy, coughy & achy (hey - 3 more & I'd have named my own 7 dwarfs!) to battle my yearly cold. Blessedly, I think I actually caught this one early & only had one day of feeling a lot like poop. Thank goodness for Halls & chicken noodle soup!

The weapons in my arsenal...

Oh noodle soup - how I love thee.


A wonderful surprise in the midst of my cold? Why that would be a package of goodies straight from the island(s) of Aloha. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my parents?

Aloha! This was the most awesome package ever!!


Last but certainly not least, I got down to carving myself a pumpkin last Saturday. I decided to go outside the box this year & carve something a little different. I painted my pumpkin white to begin with because I wanted to carve my pumpkin to look like Jack Skellington - from "A Nightmare before Christmas". I think I did pretty good on this one, although I've been told by several people that it actually looks really creepy. I wasn't really going for that, but I guess creepy is fine too. I just love the way it turned out. Watson wasn't so sure at first, but now most nights you can find him sitting on the stoop next the grinning gourd, both of them just keeping watch over the yard!

Before it was all lit up....

And after...hehehe. I think it looks pretty good!


Well, I suppose that is all for now. Like I said, cannot believe that October has almost come & gone. I'll try to post again soon - I've got a great Bacon Cheese Chowder recipe to share & I'm going to be participating in our church's Trunk or Treat on Halloween, so that should make for some great pictures & good eats. I'm going to take Watson in his skull & crossbones sweater, so maybe I can get a pirate ship vibe going? We'll see... Can't wait to see what November has in store!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Another Year...

Holy cow - how did another year seriously past this quickly? I feel like I was just sitting here writing the post about turning twenty-seven & here I am, on the eve of turning twenty-eight. Yikes! That is only 2 years away from thirty. I'm not gonna lie; that is a little daunting. It seems like it was just a while ago that I was turning twenty, twenty-three, twenty-five...of course, it can also seem like that was ages ago too. Time can be funny like that. I thought I'd take a look back at this year & do a short re-cap of some things that happened this year.

28 - see there. 2 candles + 8 candles. Yikes!



Let me pick up this time last year - that was my "last" birthday cake y'all...and I didn't even know it. What I mean is, last year was the last time my Momma bought me a great birthday cake & friends & family came over to eat cake & ice cream & chat/hang out/have fun. My sweet Momma took me shopping the next day & we had a great time together - time that I remember especially fondly since my parents now live 838 miles away. According to Google Maps, in the current traffic it would take 13 hours & 57 minutes to get there. Yep - I googled it up you guys. That is a long way away...

So long 27...you seemed to fly by so fast...










My Mom moved the week after Halloween, so I've spent most of this year on my own...it's been an interesting year for sure. I've learned to do a lot of things that I didn't know how to do before this year, so I guess this has been a year of growth. Some things I've learned to do include...
  • Killing & disposing of my own mice - not something I've enjoyed learning
  • Moving heavy furniture; be it to re-arrange my furniture or repair furniture
  • Plant flowers & have them live! Rejoice!
  • Weed-eat my yard - although that skill was short lived after a run-in with a tick.
  • Set up my router (with a little help from Dad, of course)
  • Use a DVR...because I finally got cable! Rejoice!
  • Insulate pipes with spray foam
  • Kill ants when they decide to invade....
  • Shoot a bow & arrow; that's right...I'm lethal now. Hahahaha!

I mean, that may not seem like much to some...but I was pretty proud of myself for learning to do those things. Now on to a few pictures from the past year. Firstly, just a couple Holiday pictures because I got to host Thanksgiving & Christmas at my house this year - so awesome! I hope I made everything homey & wonderful for my family so that we could have a great Thanksgiving & also have a nice Christmas. I think I succeeded, but as usual that time always passes too fast.

Halloween - look at my precious little bee!

I mean - I know its good, but pace yourself on that turkey...

Christmas Morning!

My very first Christmas tree! :)



The New Year brought some nice visits - my friends came to visit in January, my Mom came to visit in February & my Dad came to see me in April. He so kindly bought  me weed eater which he then taught me to use. Of course, this led the the dreaded Lyme disease incident...but hey, it was the thought that counted, right? Ha-ha, love you Dad! I think I got my Mom's love of hosting because I love having people come over to the house, whether it be for parties, to spend the weekend or even just for a short visit. I like to share my home with others, especially if it means I can cook up some good food. I've discovered this year that I also really love to cook & have a lot of fun trying out new recipes - even if I have to make smaller sizes so that I'm not eating one dish for a week straight! My whole family would visit again in July & I loved having us all together in one place - even just for a few days!

Wonderful friends & great food!

DNow Group - I totally forgot to mention this but I was a leader. Awesome!

Pedicures with Mom & Lindsey!






I also got to travel some this year - which I definitely love. I am all about expanding my knowledge of the world around me & I love getting to see new places. Lindsey & I went to the Pacific Northwest in March & then in September I went to Colorado Springs for Parent's Weekend at the Air Force Academy - I can't believe we only have one more of those to go before Lindsey has graduated. Whoa! That being said, here are a couple of pictures from this year's travels...

Portland OR, with the Herrins! Love it!

Astoria OR - absolutely one of the most beautiful places!

Buchart Gardens in Victoria BC - pretty, even in the rain!

Forks WA - on the hunt for Edward Cullen!

Seattle WA - dodging fish & flowers at the Pike Place Market!

Spending time with the family in Colorado!






This year has been a good one, when it is all said & done. I've made some good memories, had some new experiences, learned that I am a bit tougher than I might have originally thought & I've figured out that I might just be able to make it on my own in this big crazy world. I'm not sure what being twenty-eight will hold for me, but I am excited to find out! I'll leave you with some random pictures from this year...

Hanging out with my boo - love my precious little dog!

I've really gotten into re-arranging my furniture...I think I'll leave it this way though.

Look! I kept some plants alive!

I got cable - finally! I'm gonna need a Wal Mart sweatsuit like Pam has on...ha-ha!

Armed & Dangerous - probably not. Armed for whatever 28 brings? I think so!