Dec 292014

On Christmas morning I woke up earlier than I was expecting. Michael and had a small snack and opened presents. Bella was super excited about her Santa hat! She got a new squeak toy from her foster mom Jen and Michael got her a new rope to chew on.


After all that was done, I had some time to kill before my parents were going to arrive.  Michael was in the shower so I figured I’d go for a quick run. It was chilly out but not raining. I had about 30 minutes and that was really all I wanted to do. I just wanted to get a little exercise in to offset some of the calories I’d be eating for the holiday.



My parents drove down from Seattle and the four of us went to Gracie’s for brunch. It’s our tradition and I enjoy going there. It’s a nice treat and the place is so classy. If you’re ever looking for a really nice meal and want to spend some time surrounded by old world decadence, The Hotel deLuxe is the place to be!



I love that place. It’s always such a nice experience and everyone is always happy with the food. I was glad we made reservations because the place was packed. We got there a few minutes early and wandered around the lobby while we waited. It’s always decorated nicely.


I got some coffee and agonized over the menu. There were so many good sounding things! I ended up getting the Belgian Waffle. I never eat stuff like that and it just sounded so good. It came with toasted pecans and banana slices on it. It was so good!



Michael and my mom both got the Huevos Rancheros (per usual) and I had a bite of Michael’s. Once again I thought I should have gotten that! So next year I will definitely get it. I kick myself every year. My dad got the whole wheat pancakes and said they were fantastic.



We had a lovely brunch–relaxing and fun. Caught up on things, talked about our honeymoon. After brunch we went back to the house and opened gifts and spent some time together. They were on their way to the beach and we had to get to Michael’s mom’s house. It felt a little rushed this year but I was really glad I was able to see everyone.

We went to Michael’s mom’s house for dinner. She did a roast. She just seasoned it with salt, pepper and garlic but it was so amazing. It was absolutely delicious! She made a salad with pears, walnuts, craisins and goat cheese. There was steamed broccoli and then mashed potatoes with green onions, cheese and bacon mixed into it.



Everything tasted so great and pretty healthy. It was a nice balance of splurging and healthy food. Michael’s stepsister made her famous deviled eggs (adding some hot pepper flakes to it this time which were fantastic and spicy!!).


We relaxed and then opened gifts. Michael’s mom gave me new running shoes that I desperately needed! Bella also got some treats and a new bed! My mom got Bella a little lighted key chain thing for when we go on walks in the dark.


It was so nice to spend time with everyone. Quality time, laid back, socializing and eating and drinking. After opening gifts we all just lounged around a bit before heading home. I missed Bell. I hate leaving her alone at home! Especially on a holiday. But she was so spoiled and she LOVED her new deluxe bed from “Grandma”. 😉 It was a lovely holiday and our first married Christmas! <3

Apr 222014

What a weekend! Busy busy busy.

It feels like I haven’t seen Michael in two weeks! We had a house guest for 5 days recently so I didn’t see much of him and then this past weekend he went up to Seattle to hang out with a friend and see a concert. My mom came down from Seattle (I wonder if her and Michael waved when they drove past each other I-5?) to help with some wedding stuff.

The biggest project was getting the invitations made. My friend Star, who is also officiating the ceremony, gets a discount at Kinko’s so we were going to take advantage of that to save some money. About a month ago Michael and I picked out our invitations, ordered the digital file, and I’ve been waiting (impatiently) to take it in and get them printed!

First things first, I got up a little earlier than usually to get my workout out of the way.  I lifted weights, worked with some kettlebells and then ran on the treadmill. After stretching a bit (my hips feel tight lately) I hurried home to get cleaned up.


Then, my mom and I met Star at Papa Haydn’s for brunch. Turned out that brunch was only on Sundays, so what was brunch turned into lunch. But that was okay because the food there is great. My aunt also joined us, so it was just four ladies doing lunch! I got their seasonal salad which had goat cheese, granny smith apples and hazelnuts on it. I love this salad!

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Then I got their French Onion soup. Theirs is really good but not as good as Petite Provence, I think. My mom and Star both got the French Onion soup, too, and my aunt got the pasta and clams.

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I love French Onion soup! It was rich and hearty and very filling. I had an iced tea with my lunch and had planned on also getting coffee but I FORGOT. How did I forget to get coffee?!?! I sure felt it later in the afternoon when I couldn’t stop yawning. We did splurge and get dessert. Kinda have to at Papa Haydn’s!

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Star got a small bowl of pistachio ice cream and my mom and both got a macaron. I got the salted caramel one–wowza! It was so great! I’ve only had macarons a few times before. I loved the salty creamy sweetness of it.

After brunch we went to get the invitations made. Star’s discount saved us a ton of money but we had to wait to get the invitation. For some reason I thought they’d just print them up while we wait but it takes longer than that. They can fit 2 invitations to one sheet and 4 RSVP cards to one sheet, so they were printing them up and then cutting them for us. They should be ready in a few days!

After dropping the flashdrive off, my mom and I drove all over town for like five hours trying to find envelopes that will go with the invitations. We found the perfect ones for the RSVP cards but not the actually invitations. Either they were the wrong color, the wrong size or too flimsy. Who know it would be SO HARD to find envelopes. We went to like 5 stores and it was VERY frustrating and exhausting and not very fun. I was pretty much over it by the end of the day. In the end I found some on amazon (good grief) and ordered them. Will see if they work!

While we were out all day, dinner was cooking in the crockpot. I knew I wouldn’t be interested in cooking something after spending all day running around. I knew the easiest thing to just throw into a crockpot would be a black bean soup. I found a recipe on another blog for Black Bean and Rice soup and threw that together.

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Rice Soup with Lime and Cilantro

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Calories per serving: 194 calories for 6 servings, 145 for 8 servings



  • 2 cans (15. oz. each) black beans with liquid
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz. each) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth (or use vegetable stock for strictly vegetarian or vegan version)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (or more)
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 T dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
  • 1 tsp. ground Ancho chile powder (I used Penzeys)
  • (could substitite regular chile powder)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Chipotle chile powder (I used Penzeys)
  • (could substitute finely chopped Chipotle chile in adobo from a can)
  • 1/4 cup white long-grain rice (not more!)
  • (I use Uncle Ben's Converted Rice for South Beach)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or more)


  1. In small Crockpot, combine beans, tomatoes, chicken or vegetable stock, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, Ancho chile powder and Chipotle chile powder.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (or 3-4 hours on high), until tomatoes are disintegrating and beans are starting to fall apart.
  3. When soup has reached the consistency you want, turn Crockpot to high if you were cooking on low. Add 1/4 cup rice and cook until rice is done, about 30 minutes.
  4. Add fresh lime juice and cilantro and cook 5 minutes more.
  5. Serve hot, with additional fresh lime pieces for each person to squeeze into soup and more cilantro if desired.

I added some leftover chipotle peppers in adobo sauce that I’d frozen from a chicken tortilla soup I made a few months ago. I’m glad I froze the leftovers because the chiptole peppers and sauce added a really nice smoky flavor to the soup. I also added a handful of diced carrot to the crockpot. When I make this recipe again I’ll probably add more vegetables–maybe some celery and more onion. I goofed and added the rice at the beginning instead of at the end, so next time I will pay attention to that!


Loved the soup! It was a little spicy, really flavorful and just delicious. I put a spoonful of sour cream on top, drizzled some lime juice over it, added green onion and dinner was served. I had some crescent roll dough so I baked those up and we had some tortilla chips with the soup. The soup was really low in calories.

After dinner we worked on some crafty things for the wedding. I’m using old corks as place card holders. So my mom and worked on cutting those and making them ready for the place cards. It was hard work! It took a few hours but we got them all done. I’m really grateful to all the friends (and even a blog reader!) who mailed me bags and boxes of corks they had saved!

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My mom also brought down a bunch of old photos for me to sort through to find some for the wedding/rehearsal dinner slideshow. She brought some very embarrassing and horrible photos, but there were a few gems in there, too. :) I think this one was when I was three months old:

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Aww the 80’s….This is one of me and my brother:


We got a ton of stuff done but not everything we had hoped to accomplish. Next trip. :)