30 July 2010

i can only imagine

i can only imagine
what it will be like
when i walk
by Your side.

i can only imagine
what my eyes will see
when Your face
is before me
i can only imagine.

i can only imagine.

surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
will i dance for you Jesus or in awe of You be still
will i stand in Your presence or to my knees will i fall
will i sing hallelujah, will i be able to speak at all
i can only imagine.

i can only imagine.
i can only imagine
when that day comes
when i find myself
standing in the Son.

i can only imagine
when all i will do
is forever
forever worship You
i can only imagine.

i can only imagine.

one year ago today, i lost my sweet aunt to breast cancer.  in some ways, i can't believe it's already been a year.  time has flown.  in other ways, it seems like it's been so much longer.  i can go days, even weeks, without thinking about her, but then something will happen {hear a song on the radio, watching the barefoot contessa, her favorite!, or talking to my mom} and i'll just lose it.  i miss her so much sometimes it hurts.

this weekend, i'm headed to richmond with my mom {her sister}, my two cousins {her daughters}, and my sister {her niece}.  it's going to be a tough couple of days for all of us, but i have no doubt in my mind that this is what she would want her girls to be doing.  shopping and eating and laughing and living their lives surrounded by the people who love them and who loved her.  there will be lots of tears this weekend, that's for certain, but also lots of laughter as we remember the woman with the loud laugh, louder sneeze and the best squash casserole, taco soup, and fruit cake recipes one could hope for.

28 July 2010

what's cooking wednesdays: the recipe makeover edition

photo courtesy of ree!

y'all know i am a MAY-JUH {major a la victoria beckham} pioneer woman fan.  i got to meet her in person this spring and have her sign my cookbook.  she. is. DARLING.  last week she posted a recipe for lemon basil pasta with grilled chicken and i knew i had to make it.  i am a lemon FREAK.  love, love, love it.  thursday night i happened to have a leftover grilled chicken breast in the fridge anyways, so that seemed as good a time as any. 

that said, i was not about to put that much cream and cheese into a recipe.  so i did a wee bit of tweaking and it turned out insanely delicious with a lot less fat.  here's my version of ree's own brand of genius:

grilled chicken with lemon basil pasta

serves 2
1 whole grilled chicken breast, sliced
1/4 - 1/2 pound penne pasta, cooked until al dente {i like mine a little overcooked if truth be told}
2 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp. flour
1 whole lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup 1%  or 2% milk
1 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese {i hadn't been to the grocery store, so i used the fake stuff in the kraft bottle.  it turned out tasty.}
salt and pepper, to taste
big handful of basil leaves, chopped {the beau helped here and chose to tear the basil leaves.  whatever floats your boat.}

cook pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water before draining.  set pasta aside.

in the same pot, melt butter over medium heat.  whisk in the flour until there are no lumps and allow mixture to cook for a few minutes.  slowly whisk in the milk.  continue to whisk until sauce thickens.  dump in cheese and whisk until combined.  add in the lemon zest, juice, salt, and pepper.  check consistency, adding some of the hot pasta water to loosen the sauce or more cheese to thicken the sauce if necessary.  check for seasonings.

pour pasta and sauce into a large bowl.  sprinkle basil all over the top and then add the sliced chicken breast.  voila!

i served this with some fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumbers tossed with olive oil, white wine vinegar, and salt and pepper.  i think you could also add another healthy dimension to this recipe {and stretch it to feed more people} by adding in some steamed broccoli.  it would also be delicious with some toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top.  the beau raved about this dish, so since it's a keeper, i'm going to keep playing around with it until i get it just right.

bon appetit!

26 July 2010

mascara monday

well, it's official. i have a new obsession. meet my new little friend, maybelline the falsies volum express mascara.  i am always on the hunt for the perfect mascara, and while this may not be perfect per se, it does everything i need it to do and better than any other mascara i have tried.  also, it's cheap and readily available at your local drugstore and/or wally*world. 

i had never seen any ads for this, but saw it on display in the front of cvs and was intrigued enough to give it a shot.  i did some reading around online and apparently this thing has had a cult following since it was released.  and maybelline supposedly isn't doing any tv advertising for it either.  i gather it was released in the uk before it made it over here, but boy howdy, am i ever glad it did! until my empty little gucci wallet can afford a steady stream of more high-brow products, this mascara will be a staple in my make-up bag.

my favorite thing about it is that the special spoon-shaped brush does a really good job of getting all of my lashes, even those tiny and impossible-to-reach ones on the inner and outer corners.  it also separates very well and leaves very few, if any clumps, while still making my lashes look really thick and dark.  while i don't think any mascara can give the look of actual doe-eyed fake lashes, this one comes pretty darn close.  i'm sold.

the only downside is that it goes on really wet, which feels kind of weird, and you have to move pretty quickly to add additional coats {if you are so inclined} or else you can get some funky-ass spider lashes.  but in all fairness, it does say on the packaging that you should not allow the first coat to dry before adding more.  so you can't say they didn't warn you.  also i needed some fairly heavy duty eye-makeup remover to get rid of all of it.  overall, not big enough issues to really care about.

i'm a bit of a product junkie, but i'm very picky when it comes to what products will actually earn a permanent spot in my prettyifying arsenal.  so go out and give it a try!  for 7 bucks, you don't have anything to lose.

25 July 2010

you better watch out

merry christmas in july! only five months until the best day of the year!

further proof that christmas come early: tonight is the long-awaited season four premiere of mad men. so. effing. pumped.

23 July 2010

in the jungle

please tell me y'all have all seen this video.  i can't watch it without bawling like a baby.

yesterday marked the start of the reign of the leo zodiac sign.  since i'm an august baby, i'm a proud leo.  i don't follow my horoscope per se, but i fit the description of a leo to an absolute t.  i thought i'd share some fun facts about us lions. happy upcoming birthday to all of my leo readers!

the color of choice for leo is gold.

leo's star stone is the ruby. {but my birthstone is peridot!}

lucky numbers
leo's lucky numbers are 1, 4, and 6.

leos are most compatible with sagittarius and aries.

opposite sign
aquarius. {the beau is an aquarius}

the perfect gift
the best gift for a leo is a status symbol item like a designer watch or a family-related collection such as a keepsake album.

the theatre, being admired, taking holidays, fun with friends, expensive things, bright colors.

being ignored, facing difficult reality, not being king/queen.

famous leos
barack obama, jennifer lopez, madonna, steve carell, ben affleck, charlize theron, halle berry, daniel radcliffe {harry potter}, napoleon, the governator a.k.a. arnold schwarzenegger.

best travel destination
italy, france, romania, peru, chicago, la.

warmth, humor, pride, joy, creativity, passion, generosity.

arrogant, stubborn, inflexible, self-centered, laziness.

charismatic marks
regal manner, powerful, strong, muscular.

best environment
in the sun! also, any place where leo has a chance to be creative or shine in front of others.

so what sign are you?

22 July 2010


also, i am having a rocking hair day.

thank you, hair gods, for improving on an already pretty fabulous day.  and it's only 11am.  i really hope that doesn't come back to haunt me...

today's gonna be a good one

two reasons why:

1. last night, my parents sent us home loaded down with lots of fresh tomatoes from their garden.  mountain pride, cherokee purple, mr. stripey, roma...you name it, we've got it.  which means that today is the first one of these of the summer:

please notice the duke's mayo in the background, the ONLY acceptable mayo.  i cannot wait to sink my teeth into a couple of these babies.  i live for them.  being from the north, the beau has never had a tomato sandwich, so he is in for a real treat!  heaven on a plate.

2. i got my new planner today! our office will buy us whichever one we choose.  i discovered the time:master planner when i was in college and when i first started here, i sent our office manager on a wild goose chase trying to find out where i could get them outside of the uva student bookstore.  being the rockstar that she is, she located a supplier. crisis averted.  five years later, and i'm still loving it!  {although next year i may consider a myagenda after reading nina's and erin's glowing reviews}. those of you who are as obsessed with planning and scheduling as i am will understand why this just made my day.

happy college friday!

21 July 2010

home again, home again

after almost two weeks away from small town, va, i am finally home again.  and although it's never too thrilling to have to return to work after time at the beach, i am so happy to be back in my own house and my own bed, snugglings with both of my boys {of the furry and slightly less furry variety}.  i am so behind on all of your lives! i had almost 500 unread posts in my reader this morning.  i'm slowly but surely trying to work my way through them, so just bare with me!

my week at the beach with the fam was wonderful and relaxing.  worked on my tan, ate yummy seafood, plowed through several books and a massive stack of magazines, and enjoyed some QT with the p-units and my sister. topsail has been our family beach for more than a decade, and i can't wait to go back again next summer {hopefully with a slightly bigger house and the boys in tow}. 

as soon as i got home from the beach, i had to completely repack my bag and be in the car again the next morning so the boy and i could drive up to connecticut.  we spent a wonderful evening on the long island sound with a bunch of his college buddies. the next morning we drove to long island, where he headed to work and i hopped on the train to the city to spend the day with my bestie.  first off, i heard some outrageous li accents on the train.  i literally had to shove my fist in my mouth to keep from laughing out loud.  people: there is an 'r' at the end of 'october'.  OCTOBER.  not AWKTOBUH.  i know, i know, i'm sure i sound like a little country mouse to them, but call me biased, i think a southern accent is waaaaay nicer.

wonderful day in nyc with bestie, but i have a major gripe.  we went to norma's for brunch after both hearing amazing things about it.  biggest. rip-off. EVER.  i travel to nyc frequently for work, so i am familiar with the obscene food prices there.  bestie and i are also major foodies and don't bat an eye to drop some serious dough on a meal that's worth it {see trip to vegas september 08 where we ate at both joel robuchon and the now-closed daniel boulud brasserie in a less than 24 hour timespan. and had to hitchhike home.  not really, but i had no money for a long time.}.  but this meal?  WAS NOT WORTH IT.  i had the blueberry pancakes.  they were tasty.  but so are the blueberry pancakes my mom makes. and the ones at ihop.  and those do not cost 25 freaking dollars.  bestie got the pb + chocolate waffle sandwich and almost barfed on the table it was so disgusting.  she managed to choke down two or three bites before saying uncle.  luckily my three pancakes were each the size of dinner plates so i was happy to share.  the ONLY part of the meal worth the exorbitant price was the $9 fresh-squeezed OJ.  also, the tables were thisclosetoeachother.  you could literally pick food off of your fellow diners' plates and hear every word of every one's conversation.  we had three or four different waiters attending our table, and none of them were actually very attentive.  moral of the story:  if you're looking for food a le parker meridien, stick with burger joint.

the boy and i spent the rest of the evening having rooftop cocktails at the UES apartment of one of his former teammates and his gf and then headed out to bars with their group of friends.  headed to the midwest the next morning for work, and finally ended up back here early last evening.  we're headed to my hometown tonight for a quick dinner with my parents.  he's not yet seen our home or met my parents' dog yet, so a big night!

hope y'all have had wonderful weeks and i'm looking forward to catching up!

14 July 2010

what's cooking wednesdays: the team american edition

as promised, here are the recipes for the potato salad and the cherry pie i made for the beau's homecoming.

first up, the potato salad, adapted from southern living:

4 lbs peeled potatoes {i prefer yukon gold, but you can use red skin or plain ole baking}
7-8 hard-boiled eggs, grated {use the largest hole on your box grater}
1 cup mayo {use duke's...it's the best!}
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard {i also add in a squirt or two of regular yellow mustard for depth of flavor and a little color}
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper
splash of lemon juice
optional: splash of tarragon vinegar
optional: dash or two of old bay {the beau is from baltimore, so i am morally obligated to put it in everything}

cook potatoes in boiling water to cover about 25-30 minutes or until just undercooked.  drain potatoes and immediately put back in pot.  cover pot completely with a towel and let the potatoes steam for 15-20 minutes. allow to cool and dice into 1-inch cubes.  stir together potato and egg.  stir together mayo and next 6 ingredients; gently stir into the potato mixture.  serve immediately or cover and chill {tastes better the next day!}

you can also add diced celery, diced onion, and/or sweet pickle relish, but i'm a purist.

as for the cherry pie, i'm not going to type out the entire recipe because i kind of combined two different ones.  for the crust, i broke away from my mom's instruction {she uses butter AND shortening} and used deb from smitten kitchen's all-butter crust.  amazing decision.  the crust was the best i have ever made, and maybe the best i have every eaten.  also very easy to make.

i used bon appetit's sour cherry pie recipe with just a few adjustments.  i used 6 cups of cherries.  fresh sour cherries aren't available here, so i used canned.  NOT cherry pie filling.  canned red tart cherries in water, found with your other canned fruits. i doubled the cornstarch.  and instead of milk, i did an egg + water wash on top.  i also don't do lattices; too much effort and i like more crust.  i let the pie sit over night so the filling could set up a bit.  the beau and i are not embellishment people, so we went sans ice cream or whipped cream.  so, so delicious.

12 July 2010

much better

thank you all for your sweet words of encouragement on friday!  you'll never know how much they helped.

per usual, things were back to normal for us by friday afternoon.  i cooked him a welcome home dinner, which is always fun.  since we weren't together on the fourth and he had to work that night, i made us a little fourth of july redux.  we grilled brats with buns {he was in charge of that} and i made homemade potato salad, a cherry pie {which he pronounced "f*cking amazing".  i'm inclined to agree.}, and paula deen's spinach and strawberry salad, minus the cucumbers.  the rest of the night was spent at our small town's outdoor summer music series and then onto a local watering hole with some friends.

saturday found us winetasting with the same group of friends and our dogs in tow.  is there anything better than a big, cold pitcher of sangria, a cheese plate, and the people you love on a gorgeous summer day?  the beau took me out to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner and then to a local ice cream place for dessert.

and to cap off a wonderful weekend, i hit the road yesterday to head to topsail island for a vacay with my parents and sister.  our house is right on the water, the weather is perfect, and the fresh seafood is calling my name!  i'm enjoying some MUCH needed time away from the office and working on that perfect summer tan.

i hope y'all had equally wonderful weekends!

09 July 2010

rough day.

i'm writing this in the interest of being completely honest and because i really need some space to vent.  this is a total stream of consciousness so sorry if this makes ZERO sense.

i have a very self-destructive habit when it comes to romantic relationships: i can be come completely and irrationally paranoid very quickly and out of nowhere.  not that a guy is cheating on me, but that he's going to realize that i'm not perfect, that i have annoying flaws, and get the hell out.

this weekend was the second time it happened with the boy.  and each time he has handled it wonderfully but honestly, when i have my little freak-outs, i just become even more freaked out that he's going to think i'm a total nutjob and cut and run.

a lot of it stems from being a perfectionist.  that's what this weekend was about.  i made a mistake that honestly barely rates a blip on the radar.  i was tired and being whiny about him being gone for so long.  no, i shouldn't have done that.  but i realized it was silly, apologized, he accepted.  all's well that end's well.  except i made a mountain out of a mole hill.  and kept bringing it up.  and apologizing and apologizing.  and understandable annoying the sh*t out of him.  this morning he finally said, we are OK.  it's not a big deal.  please don't mention it again.

the rest stems from some very hurtful past relationships.  i have some trust issues i need to work on, but he has done nothing to make me not trust him.  he is always 200% honest with me about what he is feeling, for better or for worse.  why can't i accept what he says at face value?

ladies, i am head over heels in love with him.  and i know he is in love with me too.  he made a mistake a few weeks ago, apologized, and i was over it in 10 seconds because it doesn't matter.  why do i have such a hard time accepting that he can do the same thing?  i am positively terrified of messing this up.  i know i am being ridiculous for worrying about silly things.

i don't know if any of you can tell me how to fix this.  have any of you ever experienced something like this?  i am determined to overcome this, i'm just not sure how.

le sigh.  rough day.

04 July 2010

happy birthday, america!

you're a grand old flag,
you're a high flying flag
and forever in peace may you wave.
you're the emblem of
the land I love,
the home of the free and the brave.
ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the red, white and blue,
where there's never a boast or brag.
should auld acquaintance be forgot,
keep your eye on the grand old flag.

the fourth is one of my top three favorite holidays.  i just love, love, love it!  hope y'all are having fun celebrating, wherever you are. and don't forget to make sure your puppies and kitties are inside!

02 July 2010

heart hug: only in the south

the sweetest message on our office coffee maker this morning. 

if you can't read it, it says:
Good morning.  Happy 4th of July to you all. Be careful and stay safe.  Your Housekeeper, Patty.
is that not the best way to wake up?  just a little heart hug for you on this friday morning!

happy friday, indeed!

good morning, my darlings!  i am just in the best mood.  our busy time at work is officially done {until my travel bonanza begins in september} and i think we closed out a banner year.  two of my sweetpea volunteers sent me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers on wednesday as a thank-you and congratulations.  hydrangeas, lillies, snapdragons, and some other loveliness i can't identify.  i just thought that was the nicest gesture. 
the weather has been perfect all week.  no higher than 85 degrees, which for us is practically a coldspell after weeks of 90+ degree weather.  i have every intention of laying by the pool with a few good books all weekend and getting a jumpstart on my vacation tan.

the beau comes home one week from today and you better belive i am marking those days off on the calendar with a big, fat sharpie.  i absolutely cannot freaking wait to see him. 

the detox is going surprisingly well.  i had one MAJOR slip-up on wednesday night, but i think i managed to keep it in check {if such a thing is possible of a slip-up}.  it was our crazy busy end of fiscal year day where i was at work for 13 hours and our boss bought us all dinner.  i resited the urge for a cheeseburger, and instead chose the grilled chicken kabob with grilled peppers and onions, lettuce and tomato, and tzatziki sauce.  and a smattering of french fries.  and a diet coke.  the fries, tzatziki, and diet coke were a definite no-no, but the chicken kabob was on the ok list.  and it's been back on the fit train ever since.  this weekend is going to be REALLY tough with all of the fourth festivites, but i think i can handle it.  i hope.

my new pretty!

and last, but certainly not least, i won this beautiful kate spade ring from the bon bon rose girls!  i am a fairly recent follower of their darling blog and this was just the best surprise.  i can't wait until it arrives so i can start wearing it.  i adore cocktail rings, and i think this one is restrained enough to wear everyday.  if you're not already a follower or a member of their rosebud network, just click on their rosebud button on my sidebar and head on over!

i'm looking forward to a long, lazy weekend with family and friends.  what are your plans for america's birthday?