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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Newlywed in the Kitchen #24: Brisket Dinner

Brisket is a staple food for anyone who grew up on a ranch or lives in Texas.  As I am both, I felt like it was time to attempt my very first brisket.  And, well, I nailed it.  It was so tender it fell apart, no need for a knife.

I am, however, hesitant to share this recipe (or even count it as a recipe) because as you are about to see, it's so easy.  To make up for that, I'm going to tell you how I cooked the entire dinner in hopes that makes things tad more impressive.

The Boy from Texas Ranking (brisket only):  5/5

The Boy from Texas Comments:  We should have this more often.  Throw this in with some eggs and wrap it in a tortilla and we'll be talkin' for breakfast.

Beef brisket
Claude's brisket sauce (buy it in the BBQ aisle)
Roaster pan

Thaw brisket.  Trim fat.  Put brisket in roaster pan.  Pour Claude's brisket sauce over brisket.  (I don't know exactly how generous.)  Place in fridge overnight to marinade.  Cook in oven on 300 degrees for 6 (or more) hours.

Mashed Potatoes

Russett potatoes (I usually do about 1 potato for each person)
Garlic Powder
Sour cream (optional)
Grated cheese (optional)

Peel potatoes and boil until soft.  Drain and return to pan.  Add milk and butter---you just sort of have to eye ball this, but remember, you can always add more, you can't take it out.  Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Beat with mixer for 1-2 minutes until creamy and smooth.  Serve with your favorite toppings (I like just a bit of sour cream myself, but you can add in anything---cheese, bacon bits, chives, whatever).

Corn on the Cob

Ears of corn--1 per person. (My mother in law brought us fresh sweet corn she picked from the field that morning....I'd highly recommend that)

Shuck corn.  Place in boiling water and boil until kernels are soft (doesn't take long, less than 5 minutes).  Serve with butter, salt and pepper.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Funny Conversations with The Boy from Texas (Part IX)

Today's quotes are all baby related.  That's pretty much all we talk about around here.

*Putting swing/bouncer together.*
Me: Just calm down, surely we can figure this out. 
TBFT: Send this crap back to China or wherever it came from!

Me:  I mean, what are we going to do if the baby comes like this weekend and we have nothing together or ready?
TBFT:  I'm pretty sure women used to have babies on the plains in the back of wagons with nothing ready either.  You'll be fine.

TBFT:  I think that you're going to be really tough in the delivery room.
Me:  Are you being sarcastic?
TBFT:  No, seriously.  I think you'll just glare at me a lot and think, "You SOB, you did this to me" in your head.

Me:  Did you get the napper for the pack and play put together?
TBFT:  I did.  And look, this thing here?  NOT a handle.  Got it?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Four More Things #1: Four Random Photos

My blog friend Brianne has been doing this 4 more things series that I've enjoyed, so I thought I'd take her lead and join in the fun.  Plus, I didn't really have any other blog ideas for today, so there ya go. 

Topic #1 is.....four random photos from the last four years. 


 Me finishing my first half marathon.  To this day, this is one of my most proud moments.  Not really because of anything athletic related, but because it was me doing something I never thought possible.  When I cross a half marathon finish line, I always feel like I can do anything--but there was something even more special about that first finish.


Trip to Costa Rica.   This was a fantastic trip.  A perfect mix of adventure and relaxation, beach and mountains, analyzing and letting go.  If you've not been, I can't recommend it enough.


My 30th birthday weekend.  I adore these photos.  These girls who traveled from across the dang country to help me celebrate turning the Big 3-0 at an OSU football game (victory, no less) just made my heart so happy.


Marrying the Boy from Texas.  Could it have been anything else? life is good.  It's easy to sort of forget about all of the fun, the friends, the experiences, the perfect days when you're stuck in the every day of paying bills and washing dishes and peeing every 5 seconds (that's probably only applicable to pregnant ladies).  Looking back on the last four years to choose these photos was a great reminder of how blessed I am!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Newlywed in the Kitchen Recipe #23: Salsa Verde Chicken Pasta

I'm a huge pasta lover, but The Boy from Texas is usually lukewarm about it.  However, when I found a recipe that combines two things he loves--green chile and pepper jack cheese--I decided to give it a whirl.  Good choice.  This is one to add to your recipe box.  Not only it it tasty, but the best part??  You make it all in one bowl.  For girls like me with no dishwasher, this is a major bonus!

The Boy from Texas Rating:  4.

The Boy from Texas Comments:  I'm over this stupid ratings system.

Salsa Verde Chicken Pasta

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T olive oil
2 C low-sodium chicken broth
1 C green chile (the actual recipe says "salsa verde" but we New Mexicans only use real green chile)
1 C heavy whipping cream
3 C uncooked penne pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
1.5 C pepper jack cheese

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Season with salt and pepper and cook in skillet with olive oil until brown.  Remove and set aside.

Add broth, green chile, cream, pasta, salt, and pepper to the skillet.  Stir to combine and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat, add the chicken and 1 C of the cheese to the skillet.  Stir until smooth and creamy.  Top with remaining 1/2 C of the cheese.  Place in oven broiler for a couple of minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Little House on the Prairie: After

I was waiting to post these because we're still waiting on a couple of things like our mirrors for the bathroom and our shower door, but you people are kinda impatient!  So, I'm going to show you the "after" photos today.

Here are links in case you missed the before or during recaps.

Stay tuned (hopefully in the next week or so) to see final photos of everything all decorated and put away.  I've really channeled my inner Joanna Gaines and think things have turned out really cute!

For now, let's go on a little tour, shall we?
View from the road
Entering the front door (new paint, re-did steps)
View into dining room (left) and kitchen  (new floors, removed bar, new paint)
Dining room (new flooring, turned closet where HVAC was into closet)

Guest bedroom (new carpet, paint touch ups)
View back to front door from kitchen (new floors, bar area removed)
Guest bathroom (no changes)
The Baby from Texas' room (new flooring, touch up paint)

 Okay, and now we're walking into the addition, so everything you see from here on is brand new.

Laundry room
Living room (into laundry room)
Master bedroom
Master bathroom (missing mirrors...)
Master shower (missing door...)
Master closet
One side of master closet

Friday, August 14, 2015

Baked Goods at the County Fair

It's funny the little things you remember about your childhood once you are an adult.  Sure, some memories make sense.  Birthday parties.  Vacations.  Winning sheep shows (we're ag kids after all).  But others--those that are small and seemingly insignificant at the time--they are some of my favorites.

One of those memories for me was the day the baked goods were judged at the Quay County Fair.  I never won grand champion cake.  I never got a ribbon.  Heck, I never even considered baking something to enter.  For me, it was even better.  I was the granddaughter of one of the two official baked goods judges who served in this role for over 40 years.  Having a grandmother with such high ranking honors entitled us to special benefits.

Every year, Gran would arrive a bit early before her judging shift was to begin to come see us in the barns.  As was her usual motive, she would be dressed to the nines--big earrings, silver necklace, all the diamond rings she could fit on her fingers.  After she visited a while, she would head into the commercial building to do her duty.  Usually at least once my brother and I would sneak over to the commercial building to see how things were going.  Not because it was that interesting watching her sample five loaves of zucchini bread, but because there was a strict rule that no one but judges was allowed in the building and, well, we liked to be rule breakers.  Especially when we knew Gran would have our back if we got into any trouble about it.
When she was finished, Gran would venture out to the livestock barns to our show box bearing a plate full of samples.  She had to taste everything entered and would always take two of the best items and put them on a plate for us.  Other kids would flock around and sometimes we'd share, sometimes we'd down the food as fast as we could before they got to us.

Usually after that she'd head home and venture back out in a couple of days to watch us in the sheep show.  To which she liked to wear the shirt we had embroidered for her the year we won Grand Champion Pig and Lamb, over which she almost got into a fist fight with another grandma.   
Alas, another story for another day.

Monday, August 10, 2015

To the Girls Living in Our College Apartment

To the Girls Living in Our College Apartment,

Welcome to Stillwater, Oklahoma, the happiest place on earth!  And welcome to that little two bedroom apartment with dark green carpet, a couch named Snuggles, and wood paneling.  It's not fancy.  There are no granite counter tops or marble shower or hard wood floors.  Moving in this time of year is hot, humid, and kind of miserable. 

But that little home on Duck Street holds many a memory for me, and I can only hope that when you dawn your cap and gown and walk out that screen door to your graduation, you can say the same.

Some of the most fun moments I've ever had started in that house.  College Roomie became my best friends.  The epic Calf Fry weekend of 2006 began in that living room.  Law school acceptance letters were celebrated.  Beds were jumped on.  Hangovers were nursed.  Tornadoes were avoided in the bathtub under a mattress. A natural gas explosion nearly occurred.  Half of the ag college did homework there.  We sold electricity to tailgaters out the back window.  BFF slept a lot on Snuggles. Icing was eaten out of a can.  More than once.  Lots of 21st birthday candles were blown out.

Some of my most heartbreaking days occurred there as well.  It was there I got a phone call that my brother's 15 year old best friend had been killed.  And it was there I went to mourn the next day when one of my dearest friends and his father were killed in a separate accident.  What we thought was love turned out to not so much be.  I watched the coverage for hours in St. Peter's Square as Pope John Paul II was dying. Those walls saw lots of tears, heard lots of prayers, and offered a place for healing.

So, take care of that apartment for us, will you?  Enjoy your time there.  If you'll let her, she'll help shape who you are and prepare you for where you're headed.

Welcome home (and don't leave the gas on....),

Friday, August 7, 2015

Little House on the Prairie: During

Until I sat down to write this blog, I didn't realize how cool it was to watch the addition rise up from the ground up.  The Boy from Texas did a great job designing the plans, documenting the progress, and keeping up with the construction. 

Here's a little look at the journey through photos.




Walls and subfloors




Inspectors Checking Things Out

Laying Floors

Paint and Texture

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Little House on the Prairie: Before

"A house on a piece of land....we'll plant some roots and apple trees..." -Kip Moore

You may remember that The Boy from Texas and I bought our first house together back at the end of January.  It was a little two bedroom white house on 8 acres with a white picket fence and lots of big trees.  When I say little, we're talking 900 square feet little.  Which seemed perfectly fine at the time.....and then came a couple of lines on a stick and all of a sudden, we realized we might need a bit more room.

So, we decided to do an addition to the house.  The Boy from Texas planned everything, I'm talking square footage, floor plans, how cabinets would go, shades of paint, colors of door knobs, you name it.  His grandma tells me that since he was a kid he's loved to read about and draw floor plans, so watching him get to plan out our first house and then seeing it come together has been lots of fun for me.

The contractors started work mid-April, about the time it started to rain in the Texas Panhandle and we recorded to wettest spring on record.  That made for some interesting (read:  frustrating) delays, but last week all of the major work was wrapped up. Hoping they finish a few minor items this week and then I never have to see them again.  (I'm kidding, they're great guys, but I am ready for them to be out of my house!)

So in light of all this, I thought I'd do a series of blog posts sharing how things looked before, during, and after the addition and several projects done by The Boy from Texas and me (if we're being real, mostly him).

So let's get this party started.  We'll kick things off with how everything looked when we got the keys in January.

Front view

Living room

Living room looking into the kitchen

Kitchen looking into living room

Master bedroom

Guest bedroom


Bathroom sink

 Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks to see how things look now!  It's really kind of unbelievable.