Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pray-fam Life Updates

I recently joined a small group at the church we are going to, Sagebrush.  We meet every Thursday night, and the girls in the group are great.  The group is very recently formed, which is nice so that I'm not "the new girl."  We are studying the women of the Bible, which makes the variety of topics that we discuss interesting.

Alsooo, I got a job! I will be working at the University of New Mexico in the Human Research Protections Office as a Human Research Review Analyst.  I am excited about the position, and it seems like I will be working with a great team.  I don't start until mid-November, which is totally fine with me.  My wonderful friend Hannah is coming out to visit (and will be here later today, actually!!), and it is nice that I can enjoy our time together without having to worry about work-prep.

John has been staying busy with work and basketball practice... yes, you read that correctly - he joined the firm basketball team! He will tell you that he doesn't have a great shot, but plays aggressively.  He is playing in a lawyers/accountants league, so hopefully no one will be too riled up about getting fouled by my husband.

Aside from work and basketball, John has been embracing all things New Mexico, and bought his first pair of ropers (they were actually an early Christmas gift from his mom)!  The boots look very nice on him!  He also has been loving all the FSU and famous Jameis action on ESPN.

Scout has been busy being social and just started going to the Central New Mexico Brittany Club on the weekends.  John and Scout wake up very early and head over to the West Mesa where Scout is being introduced to birds, gun fire, and the New Mexico terrain.  She is looking forward to quail hunting on opening weekend in mid-November!

Shadow finally has her cone off her head and is looking extra cute because of it.  Shadow has this terrible habit of ripping out her fur and leaving bald spots on her legs and tail. Since she had her cone on for a couple months, her fur has grown back and she is looking great!  In a couple weeks she will be 15 (yes, 15 years old).  This is crazy to me... if she was human, she would be able to drive a car with a driver's permit. Weird.

Winnie just turned 12 years old (yesterday, actually), and is enjoying life in New Mexico.  She spends most of her time trying to avoid Scout, sleeping in the warm sun, and every once and a while, enjoys hunting a fly or two that enters our apartment.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weekend Activites!

This past weekend, John and I went to an event for his firm at the University of New Mexico.  The UNM Law Alumni Association was honoring one of the named partners at his firm as a distinguished alumni.  It was fun to get dressed up, head out, and eat a yummy dinner with some of his co-workers.

John also spent a day away fly fishing on the San Juan river, just south of Colorado.  He caught a bunch of trout and certainly kept up his sunglasses tan! The San Juan is beautiful - especially this time of year!

We finished the weekend by having breakfast at possibly the best place in the world, Range Cafe.  The Range Cafe has a Zingerman's type of vibe with (very) tasty food, fun decor, and a great atmosphere!

Game Day Food: Homemade Salsa

I eat an absurd amount of salsa... really, it is kind of obnoxious.  I am not the kind of girl that politely dips her chip into the bowl either - I am a scooper (who leaves a trail of salsa behind on my shirt...).  Sometimes, I feel like John thinks I am too scoop-a-licious and that I am not leaving any salsa for him (I tell him to eat up too).  That is why this recipe is so great, because it makes a good amount - it's enough to share (or, Lisa size)... and, not to mention, it tastes much fresher than store bought jars.  

When I was in college I would beg my mom to buy me a Costco size tub (really, a tub) of Jack's salsa.  I am pretty sure I would go through the whole thing in a week (I told you, it is obnoxious).

Oh, and by the way, this recipe... it came from our good family friend, Marsha - and that's how you know it's good (I am obsessed with basically everything she makes).

So, make a batch (or really, just go ahead and double it) and enjoy for this weekend's football game! 

What you need:
- 1 can petite diced tomatoes
- Chopped green onions
- Diced Garlic
- Jalapeno pepper
- Chopped cilantro
- Fresh lime juice

How to:
- Mix together the tomatoes (do not include the juice), green onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, and juice from a lime.
- Add as much, or as little, of the ingredients as you want... make it fit your taste.  If you like your salsa with more juice, add in some of the tomato juice.

...For mine, I used 1 can of tomatoes (not the juice), about a 1/4 cup of green onions, 1/4 cup of cilantro, a tablespoon of garlic, 1/2 the jalapeno pepper (I did not use the seeds or membrane) and 2 small limes. 


Monday, October 28, 2013

Game Day Food: Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sliders

These sandwiches are pretty amazing... in fact, this recipe originally came from my friend Jan who makes this as a dip! Whenever we had an office potluck I would basically beg her to make it, and then insist she keep it outside of my cubicle until the potluck was ready to start.  (I would make sure no one was watching and then sneak spoonfuls.)  I mean, really, I am pretty possessive over this stuff.

What you need:
- 3 chicken breasts cooked and shredded (I cooked mine in the crock pot)
- 4oz cream cheese
- 6oz (1/2 bottle) of hot wing sauce
- 1/2 cup ranch dressing
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- Slider buns/rolls

How to: 
1. Combine cream cheese, hot wing sauce, and ranch dressing into a large sauce pan and slowly cook until cream cheese is soft.
2. Add cooked chicken to the sauce pan and mix well.
3. Pour into baking dish and top with shredded cheese.
4. Place in oven for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.
5. Serve on a slider bun or eat as a dip with tortilla chips.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Game Day Food: Home Made Spinach Dip

Spinach dip is so great and pretty much the best game day food ever... you can eat it with chips, bread, pretzels - basically anything you want!  

What you need:
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup mayonnaise or miracle whip
- 1 small bag of frozen spinach
- 1 package of Knorr's dry vegetable dip
- If you choose, add nuts, artichokes, or whatever else you please

To lighten the calories in this recipe, substitute portions of the mayonnaise and sour cream with Greek yogurt using this substitution chart.  I would love to do this, but for a few months I went on this Greek yogurt kick, and everything I made had some sort of Greek yogurt substitution.  I slowly noticed that my husband no longer wanted to eat my food.  Finally, I got him to admit that everything that I was cooking tasted like Greek yogurt!  I was not at all offended, and actually found it quite hilarious... he was very sweet about it.  :)  Since then, I don't substitute anything since I clearly don't know how to do it correctly.

ANYWAY! Back to the recipe...

How to (it's super simple!):
1. Thaw spinach and squeeze out excess moisture.
2. Mix all ingredients well.
3. Chill for an hour in the refrigerator.

This recipe is perfect to use with a DIY treat stand!  Serve with pretzels, bread, chips... whatever you please!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Happy Halloween!

When John and I first started dating, I was going to school at Michigan State and John was at Florida State.  Although John was going to school over 800 miles away, we still managed to see each other almost every other weekend.  John would fly from Tallahassee to Atlanta to Detroit to Lansing... yikes!! We were so thankful to see each other as often as we did, considering the circumstances.  

Since John was in Florida, he had the best of both worlds... he could have the warmth and the sun during the week, and then travel to Michigan for the fun fall activities on the weekend.  It took him a while to figure out that he would need more than Stand-up shorts and Rainbows to make it in the Michigan October!

And today, in honor of Halloween being only one week away (and how cute John looks with short hair), I am throwing back to our 2009 pumpkin carving!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Mexico Adventures

Recently, John and I made a day trip to Santa Fe... it was a super sunny but little bit chilly fall day - gorgeous! We originally went to Santa Fe to go to a resale cowboy boot shop.  It was super fun checking out all of the boots (but shocking at how expensive they still were second-hand! We're keeping our eye on a pair or two...).  

After boot shopping, we had lunch at a fun rooftop restaurant called Coyote Cafe.  Santa Fe feels like a totally different world than Albuquerque, and it was like we went on a mini Sunday afternoon vacation! :) And we ended the evening by eating sopapillas - with honey, of course!

As many people know, the TV show Breaking Bad was filmed in Albuquerque, and people here loveee it.  To find out what all of the fuss was about, we started to watch it on Netflix.  There are many Albuquerque references in the show, so to better enjoy it we have been visiting Breaking Bad sites around town (I know, we are weird).  We ate at Twisters (known as Los Pollos Hermanos in the show), and bought some blue crystal meth candy from The Candy Lady (which was featured in the NY Times).  It's clear we have issues, but we enjoy it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

New Mexican Friends

Out of all of Pray-fam (that's what we call ourselves), Scout definitely wins the award for having the most New Mexican friends.

Although Scout it making many friends, no one will ever replace her Milton.

Here she is playing with some of her pals.

Scout and Ginger (a golden puppy) playing on rocks.

Digging with Glitch.
Scout dominating frisbee with Mandy (a great dane).
Scout getting ready to out run all of her friends playing fetch.
Scout playing tug-of-war, and winning, against Tophe.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halloween Trail Treats

I am THAT girl who always signs up to bring plates to potlucks... Plates, forks, napkins - that's my mojo (every once and awhile I will splurge and bring two liters of soda).  My sweet coworkers from Ann Arbor would sometimes tease me about this, so one time, I caught everyone off guard by bringing in these trail treats (I used pink, red, and white M&Ms for Valentine's Day).

These trail treats are so yummy and only take 10 minutes to make (honestly, unwrapping the Hugs takes the most time).

What you need:
- Square pretzels (I used Butter Snaps)
- Hersey Hugs
- Reese's Pieces (or M&Ms, if you'd rather)

How to:
1. Place the pretzels on a lined baking sheet.
2. Put a Hershey Hug on each pretzel.
3. Bake for 5-10 minutes (or until the Hugs are soft) at 200 degrees.
4. Place a Reece's Pieces on the top of the Hug, pushing the Hug onto the pretzel.
5. Cool and enjoy!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

DIY: Treat Stand

My friend Olivia recently made DIY cake stands for her wedding centerpieces.  I thought this was a great idea and decided to make a non-wedding, three-tiered version.  I bought my supplies at Target... they have such a fun assortment of plates with patterns, scalloped edges, etc. so you can mix-and-match any look you want (and I had a Cartwheel coupon!).  This DIY was so easy, and I was quite happy with how it turned out!


What you need:
- A dinner plate
- A salad plate
- A bowl
- Two candle sticks (I chose two with varying heights)
- Glue that is compatible with your materials

How to:
1.  Start by gluing the taller of the two candle sticks onto the center of the dinner plate.  
2.  Once your candle stick is anchored to the dinner plate, glue the salad plate to the top of the candle stick.  
3.  Next, glue the shorter of the two candle sticks to the top of the salad plate.  Make sure that the candle stick on top is lined up with the lower candle stick (to ensure everything is centered).
4.  Then, glue your bowl to top of the shorter candle stick.
5.  After everything is dry, flip the stand upside down and add a little extra glue to the candle sticks and plates to make sure everything is secure.

...Keep in mind that you will only be able to hand-wash this... so don't put anything too hard to wash in it!

       Holding fruit                             Spinach and artichoke dip

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Balloon Fiesta!

This past week the International Balloon Fiesta has been going on in Albuquerque! Over 700 hot air balloons fly every morning, and there are mid-day and night balloon events too (they have a pretty cool night-glow where they blow up all of the balloons on the field for everyone to walk around and see).  It is hard to understand how cool it all is without seeing it first hand.  Before we went the the mass ascension (where all of the balloons fly in the morning), I didn't understand what the big deal was, but it is incredibly gorgeous to watch them all float in the sky.  Supposedly, it is the most photographed event in the world, and it is cool because you are actually allowed out on the field to watch from where the balloons are taking off.

John and I went on the first day and had to wake up at 4 am! It felt like Black Friday! It was a good thing we woke up as early as we did because the parking lot we pre-bought a pass for was completely full shortly after we got there.  Although we only went to Balloon Fiesta one of the days, John watched the balloons every morning from his office window... I am sure it makes for a productive work day! :)

Headed to Balloon Fiesta bright and early

The sun isn't up yet, but the balloons are getting blown up!

Sun starting to rise over the Sandia Mountains and the first balloons of the morning getting ready to go

Lift off!

Incredibly blue morning sky

Not even a portion of the balloons    

Watching the balloons from the field

Some of the balloons from the parking lot while we were leaving

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Banana Bread, nom om om!

Nothing, and I mean nothing, is better than freshly-baked banana bread. I mean, really... who doesn't love banana bread? I can happily eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack... Anytime! 

Below you will find a great BB recipe; there are lots out there, but I have always had the best turn out with this - a crunchy crust, but soft and moist center! (Not to mention I always have these basic ingredients lying around, so it doesn't require me restocking my pantry.)

What you need:
- 3 or 4 ripe bananas
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups flour

I like my banana bread without nuts, but go ahead and add a 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts or chocolate chips to mix it up! (One time I added mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups... oh so good, but I ate the whole loaf (over ice cream...) in one episode of Real Housewives of Orange County - not interested in doing that again).

How to:
1. Mash bananas and melt butter, then mix both together in a large mixing bowl. 
2. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. 
3. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix. 
4. Mix in the flour.
5. Pour mixture into a greased 4x8 inch loaf pan, and bake for 45 min - 1 hour at 350 degrees.

When the bread is done baking, let it cool before storing.  Enjoy your yummy treat!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cider Festival

This past weekend there was a cider festival at a botanical park in Albuquerque.  As you can imagine, this made me quite thrilled!! When we got there they were already all sold out of cider - and the people to make the cider were on lunch break (really...?).  We had to patiently wait two hours for them to come back and press the apples, but let me tell you what - this cider was SO fresh! We bought two gallons and plan to freeze one (they only last 4 days because they are no preservatives - just apples).  While we waited for the cider we enjoyed some farm animals, fall activities, and an aquarium that they have at the bio park.

After the cider festival, we went to Sportsman's Warehouse to checkout e-collars for Scout, and then headed home to drink our cider and watch college football for the rest of the evening! It was a lazy, but very lovely Saturday!

ABQ Bio Park

Apple press

Waiting for our cider

Rocking the SmartWool and Tory Burch

Yay! We finally got it!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

DIY: Pumpkin Decorating

Instead of carving my pumpkins this year, I wanted to attempt to paint them with cool designs.  So, the most obviously wonderful print came to mind... chevron! Who wouldn't love a chevron pumpkin welcoming them home?

Side note, my sweet husband bought me some flowers on his way home from work.  But instead of getting me a bouquet, he bought me a whole pot of mums... love, love, love!

Anyway, back to my second love, chevron.  Begin by taping your chevron design to the pumpkin.  This may take awhile, but be patient and get it right.  Make sure that the tape sticks down into the grooves of the pumpkin.  Tape off all areas you do not want painted (including the stem and bottom).

Next, spray paint the whole pumpkin and let the paint dry.

Once the pumpkin is dry, carefully remove the tape to display your wonderful design.  Try not to pull off the paint when removing the tape (don't pull the tape up, but directly back, if that makes sense - just like you would if you taped and then painted a wall).

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