Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thankful Thurs....errr.....Friday

Whew, these last couple of weeks have been difficult for this homeowner. You know that saying, "When it rains, it pours?" That's how I've felt, and here's why: our washing machine was backed up, a plumber had to be called out; our dishwasher quit working, so I called a repair man who informed me that the motor was completely shot and we needed to buy a new one....oh, and "the floor will probably have to busted up in order to get this one out and a new one in." Great. Our grill wasn't working properly, and the weed-eater was also not working. I mean REALLY?! WHAT ELSE?!

I was definitely wishing that I could just call out a landlord and have him take care of these things for us, but that was not an option. WE had to take care of it. Ugh. As you probably know, plumbers aren't cheap...and neither are dishwashers. And neither are dishwasher installers I learned. Thankfully, my awesome dad (aka Mr. Fix-it) repaired our grill and can fix our weed-eater! THANKS DAD!

Anyway, I realize that all of this sounds pretty superficial, no ones sick or injured or anything major like that, but it's still been a hardship of sorts. We've had all these unexpected expenses in such a short time, but guess what...God has taken care of us. And for that, I am so thankful. Both Rob's family and mine have instilled in us the importance of saving and "paying it forward." Of course, dishwashers and stuff like that aren't what I'd like to spend $$$ on, but I am so thankful that we were able to pay for these things without having to worry about how we're going to come up with the money to pay our other bills. What a blessing.

One of my favorite sections in my bible is the "What to read when ______" part. I love going there and seeking His word to find the encouragement or words I need. Here's what I found:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."
-2 Corinthians 1:3-4

And just a funny story to end this post, I was cleaning windows, and I had the front blinds pulled up all the way. Well, they got stuck and would NOT budge. I kept messing with them, pulling on them, yanking the string as hard as I possibly could. I was getting pretty frustrated with them, so I stepped back for a second to re-group (seriously-haha) and I said, "God, pleeeeaase let something be easy today," and then I tried again. THEY WENT DOWN!! Haha, I think God was just humoring me, but it did give me a little sense of peace, as silly as that sounds. It's like He was just letting me know that it was all gonna be okay! Praise Jesus!

An EASY recipe!

This is Hidden Valley's picture, but they really do turn out this pretty!

1 Packet Hidden Valley Original Ranch dressing mix
Black pepper
6 Pork chops (I used 10)

Season the pork chops with pepper, rub on the Ranch mix, and sprinkle the top with paprika. Bake at 450 for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.

*My seasoning was obviously not as thick as the recipe called for since I nearly doubled the amount of pork chops, but they turned out yummy! I also baked mine up on a baking rack so they would be crispy on all sides. I bet they would be great grilled as well!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ahh, summertime....

There is sooo much that I love about summer! I've been out of school for a couple weeks now, and I am loving every minute of it! I'm soaking up this time away knowing that I have to go back in less than 2 weeks....BOOOO! So far this summer's activities have included traveling, laying out, hanging out with my besties, lake time, LOTS of cooking, relaxing, house projects, and working. I wait tables by the way - not sure that I've ever mentioned that.

Here's one of our small projects:

We've been doing our best to spruce things up around here in the way of our yard. It has been looking awful and full of weeds in the past, but this summer we're determined to change that! Right now, we're putting in a little brick patio and this walking path to the gate. The stones need to be put in the ground a little ways, but you get the idea! :) We're also putting in a washer pit for the hubs and his friends. Hopefully we'll have it all done for the backyard BBQ we're hosting in a couple weeks! I'll post pics as we get it all done!

One of the many things I love about summertime is grilling. Now that our grill is up and running again thanks to my pops, we cooked our first dinner of the summer on the grill tonight!

Mmmm....herb, lemon & garlic chicken, zucchini, asparagus...

The best part about grilled food (besides the fact that it's delicious) is there's virtually no clean-up! That's my kinda meal! All I did inside was make a salad :) Love it.

Just in case anyone is interested, here's what I marinated the chicken in:

Olive Oil (about 1/4 cup)
Apple Cider Vinegar (about 1 tbsp)
Lemon Juice (a few tbsp - depends how tangy you like it)
Salt & Lemon Pepper
A couple cloves of garlic
1 tbsp each of whatever herbs you like - I used dill & parsley

When I cook, I pretty much just throw a bunch of stuff in and hope for the best. That's what I did with this chicken, and it turned out pretty good! I let it marinate for a couple hours. I don't think I'll ever buy bottled marinades again...this was so easy!

I guess it's not technically summer yet, but here in TX it's been in the 90s for a few weeks now, so it sure does feel like it!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NYC - Days 3 & 4

Sunday morning was the last event for LYBL - There was a charity walk throughout the city that several stars attended!

Again, there were TONS of people there! It was SOO cold and WINDY! As a west TX girl, I really thought I was used to the wind...apparently this is not so. We were freezing!

Lots of people...

While we were waiting in line, we heard from Dr. Oz & Suze Orman...

And Oprah's BFF Gayle King...

And Jennifer Hudson...

And Mary J Blige...

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

Bette Midler...

And finally (an hour later) Oprah showed up! I guess there is a thing with celebrities being "casually" late...I don't know.

But we finally started! The 4 of us ended up jogging most of the "walk" because it was so cold! We just wanted to get done :) And we're pretty athletic, so why not? (Ha--totally kidding)

City Sights....I <3>

The finish line!

CAN NOT WAIT to see this! Already have a date with Lexi :)

There were more goodies handed out at the end of the walk, and there was also a little concert thing. Mom and I were just standing watching when people started going crazy, and I looked over and there was Oprah! Hellllo! I totally turned into one of those annoying people taking pictures and such. Whatever- it's expected, right?

After the walk, we went back to the room and got ready for the rest of the day. We went shopping, had lunch, and saw a few other things. Mom & I went to lunch at a little place called "Risotteria." They featured a G-free menu and even had G-free bread at the tables! I was in HEAVEN!! I haven't been able to eat pretty much whatever I want at a restaurant in nearly a year!

We split a panini and some risotto with chicken and zucchini...MMM. I even got a cupcake!

Outside the restaurant. As you can see, I had some success shopping! It was my first time to go to H&M, and I love it! Why do we not have one in TX?! It's so trendy, cute, and inexpensive! Doesn't get any better than that!

After lunch we went to ground zero. This cross was found standing on one of the buildings - it was found just like this. How can anyone question God's love when he gives us such obvious reminders? Amazing.

They have the area blocked off now because they have started a new project where the towers once stood.

The whole area is just so serene. Memorials...

Sunday was Mother's Day, so we had to celebrate!

We had a delicious dinner at Bobby Flay's restaurant - Bar Americain.

Day 4 - We were supposed to get up and go to Good Morning America, but when they alarm went off at 6 a.m. (after 4 other days of getting up early) we all decided we should just sleep in! I think it was definitely a good decision since we all had a long day of traveling ahead. We slept a couple more hours, had breakfast at a cute little diner, and headed to the airport!

We had such an awesome trip! It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, and I'm so thankful that I got to enjoy the weekend with my mom. Thank you, mom, for EVERYTHING that you do - you are the BEST mom a girl could ask for. LOVE YOU LOTS!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

NYC - Day 2

Day 2 was our busiest day in NYC! We had different "life-shops" to choose from with different speakers and an event that night at Radio City Music Hall.

Here we are waiting in line to get into the Conference Center....there were SO many people there! Something like 9,000 I think!

See....the line goes all the way past the billboard and then there were about the same number behind us, crazy!
Then Oprah drove by (in the middle car) and everyone went nuts! It really was pretty cool!

This is inside the conference center, everything was put together so nicely. I loved all the springy flowers all over the signs :)

Live Your Best Life

After we went through security, we found our seats in one of the rooms where Oprah herself kicked off the weekend. She spoke for a little while, and it was really cool. I have never considered myself someone who would be "star-struck," but I really was with her. It was surreal to hear her and see her in real life. PS - She looks thinner in person, so I guess the camera really does add 10 lbs! ;)

Then the author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, spoke. She had a great message, and she seems to be so genuine. I can't wait to read her book! And see the movie, of course.

After the welcome message, we split up into our different groups. We opted to see Dr. Oz. He is my HERO! I just love that guy. I watch (or DVR) his show every day, and I have learned a lot from him. Who needs med school when you have Dr. Oz?? Haha....kidding!

And again....I was a little star-struck. No shame here.

After that, we browsed around the different booths they had set up for all the sponsors and had a yummy lunch!

While we were there, we received THREE different bags....we looked like bag ladies! I LOVE the silver bag we's so presh!

The next workshop we went to was with the interior designer, Nate Berkus, AKA "cutie Nate." And he is DARN cute! He had some great style tips to make your house feel like HOME.

The final workshop we attended was with life coach, Martha Beck. She had a truly touching message. I had never really heard much about her, but I definitely enjoyed what she had to say!

Here's the contents of one of our bags....we all know Oprah is a giver!

After our busy day, we went back to the hotel to freshen up, and we had dinner at our hotel's restaurant. It was yummy! Melanie and the dark apparently.

Then we headed to the event at Radio City! Melanie and Linda on the red carpet....lookin' good, ladies!!

My momma and me on the red carpet....

My mom and I had awesome seats in the first balcony! We were seated and received another gift (a book). Then we waited anxiously for the show to start! Oprah talked for about 90 minutes about her life and things she has learned along the way. Her story is so touching, and I learned some new things about her as well. One of my favorite take home messages from the night was that "God can dream a bigger dream for me than I can dream for myself." Is that not SO true?! I mean, we think we have it all figured out, but the truth is, it's never really up to us in the first place. God has a bigger and better plan for us than we could ever imagine. He gives us purpose.

At the end, The Rockettes came out to do a little birthday song and dance for O Magazine! It was great! Hugh Jackman also joined in on the celebration!

As cheesy as it sounds, it really was a magical night! I enjoyed every minute!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

NYC - Day 1

We had an awesome time while we were in New York! We attended Oprah's Live Your Best Life Weekend - the 10 year celebration of O Magazine. I'm going to break our trip up by days, so I can post most of my pictures :)

Friday was mostly spent traveling, my mom and I got up eearrrly to catch our 7 a.m. flight out of Dallas! We had a layover in Baltimore where we met up with my dad's aunt and cousin.

We got to NYC, checked into our hotel, and freshened up for that evening's activities!

We started walking to Gotham Hall where the welcome reception was being held.....and we saw Michael Jackson along the way! ;)

Gotham Hall

Inside the reception. We just got checked in for the weekend, had some complimentary drinks and snacks, and got our first bag of the weekend! It had all of our information for the weekend along with a few other goodies!

After the reception, we were hungry! We started at a restaurant called Maize then ended up eating at a place called Nizza. It was yummy! We enjoyed good food and great company!

Aunt Linda & Melanie...

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel to rest up for Saturday's activities....

To be continued....
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