Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Pinterest Chef

The biggest surprise since Casey and I started living together has been in my ability -- and enjoyment -- in cooking.  I owe it all to Pinterest.

Before we met, I had my staples: pasta, tacos, and mac & cheese.  The traditional single girl diet sprinkled with a few nights of dining out and heavy dashes of leftovers.  I had no desire, let alone a need, to make and plan meals.  

Now, it's fun.  The planning.  The experimenting.  The sharing.  It's one thing we have always enjoyed as a couple: the dining experience.

Pinterest gives me cooking confidence.  
My map to a tantalizing tastes
A catalyst to wonderful conversation 
Good-bye Betty Crocker, 
this is my recipe book.

This week, we have revisited a few first time favorites from Pinterest and started to make them our own.  

 Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter
This recipe made me feel fancy when I first created it.  As an Italian, I knew how to cook pasta in utero.  However, pasta has a very clear definition in an Italian household.  Seeing pasta as anything else is inconceivable.  The simplicity of this dish attracted me to it.  It's the perfect base to start.  This week, we added some shrimp protein.  

The first time we created this one, it was a mess.  The chicken breasts we had were too thick.  We didn't have a meat mallet which requires some creativity with household tools.  (Casey may not be able to do much with a hammer, but he can definitely thin out some meat!)  I made too much of the stuffing and tried to cram it all in.  We faked breadcrumbs by crunching up croutons.  Overall, it was a disastrous kitchen experience - the best kind.  It worked.  

At least the second go around was picture worthy!  A little bit more of spice and some extra Habanero  Pepper Salt from Allspice made this mouthwatering meal.  

I've become quite the good little housewife.  Something I never would have thought I'd say.  My vision of me as a wife did not include standing in a kitchen and slaving away over a hot stove to make dinner. However, that's not what cooking is.  It's Casey and me, conversing, sharing, and engaging. It's so much more than just the food we put on the table.

There is only one rule: No cook Thursdays.

Friday, April 19, 2013

6 Things You Should Know About Planning a Wedding

I'm a countdown girl.  Have been ever since I could count.  In March, I knew how many days it was until my December birthday.  Honestly, it's something I've never really grown out of either.  Right now, I'm in the middle of one of the biggest countdowns ever: to my wedding.  Exactly three months from today, I will be Mrs. Nikki Smith.  I can't even wrap my head around what that means.

The planning stages have had the expected ups and downs.  Thankfully, my organization and planning skills shine through at times like these.  The more there is to juggle, the more I can take on.  In a recent writing activity with my students, I took a moment to reflect on the last four or so months I've been engaged.  So far, this is what I have learned:

6 Things You Should Know About Planning a Wedding

1.    Everything costs at least $1,000.
From flowers to dresses to cakes, you are going to spend $1,000 on each element of the wedding.  Normally, a cake for a party would cost less than $100, but anytime you throw the word “wedding” in front of something, multiply the price by ten.
2.    Everything takes an hour.
There are many planning meetings with different vendors: caterers, photographers, church.  Each meeting will require planning, preparation, and fortuitous notes before you even get there.  It will spur questions you never considered (No, I didn’t think about where my broken family would sit at the church.  They’re adults.  I thought they could figure it out).  You’ll walk out with a yet another list of to-dos.  And there is always a follow up meeting. 
3.    The wedding is not really for you. 
Yes, you are the one getting married to live happily ever after.  That will happen.  However, from the time you get engaged until the day of the wedding, it’s a constant balancing act of trying to meld everyone else’s vision of your day to how you truly see it.
4.    The details will get you.
They told me once the big stuff was booked, it would all fall into place.  They lied.  The smaller details are the more tedious ones.  How do I address the invitations so not to offend anyone?  What color nail polish will the bridal party wear?  Who gets what flowers and where do they go?  Don’t get too obsessed.  These aren’t what your guests came to your wedding to see.
5.    It will come together in the end.
      If, at the end of the day, you’re married to the man you love, it was worth it.  It will be here, and over, before you know it.
6.    You should elope.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Motto

The prevailing excuse for not starting a blog hinged on the title.  How do I start a blog without the perfect title?  It will be my everything.  Set the tone.  Encompass all that I might write.  Be the url for the website. Capture every part of who I am and who I want to be.  Allow for photographs and creativity to shine through with my words.  A lot of pressure on just a few measly little words.  Hence the avoidance.

Last week, it hit me.  The thing I say after I tell or hear a story I can't wait to share it with someone else.  A story that will help define and shape who we will be.

"Well, it makes for good stories."  It is my hashtag.

Sometimes, it's encouragement.  Sometimes, reassurance or a lesson learned.  To me, it's a motto.  Do things in life that make for good stories.

In just a single day, moments for great stories are all around us.  Some may represent the worst part of ourselves.  Others are moments to celebrate.  All offer something real and human for the world.

Perhaps a *working goal* for this blog is to take this idea that everything in life makes for good stories and use it as fuel for writing, sharing, and experiencing with each other.