Monday, July 6, 2009

Love it or Leave it

Every time I see our country's flag, I stop and ponder, sometimes even cry. The flag is a symbol of our heritage, our freedom, and for me, a reminder of my blessings. I was never one to get too excited about presents. While other kids couldn't wait for Christmas or their birthdays, I always loved the fourth of July. It meant family, homemade ice cream, fireworks, and my favorite- our neighborhood parade. It wasn't like the Grand Parade here in Provo. WE were the parade. Kids with their bikes decorated with patriotic streamers, toddlers being pulled in wagons by older siblings, and being dressed up like Betty Ross or the Statue of Liberty. We all walked around the block singing songs and cheering. We weren't cheering at the sight of expensive fireworks, a pretty float or the mayor riding in a cool old car. We cheered because we were happy, free and safe.

It's been 16 years since I walked around that block, cheering. Somehow, I haven't forgotten
why I cheer after the national anthem or when an F-16 soars across the evening sky.

The celebration this year lasted a total of 16 hours for Rad and I. The alarm clock sounded while the sun was still rising. The only thing on my mind was why we stayed up so late. Curse you Jimmy Fallon. I dragged Rad out of bed and we left without grabbing breakfast, heading for the balloons. I had never seen the balloon launch. Very few things (if any) are worth waking up that early for. We arrived at 6:45 am just in time to see nothing. The last balloon had already lifted off and they were now climbing higher and higher into the clouds.
I was disappointed but my waking up was not in vain. We met Chelsie and Shawn at Macey's grocery store for a free french toast breakfast. Just when I thought I wouldn't get an up close view of the balloons, one came creeping up behind the Macey's, preparing to land. It seemed to come within inches of the roof, and only millimeters away from a light pole. I imagined it being pierced by the pole or thrown off balance only to crash right on top of us and smother us to death, but the expert balloon guy somehow steered clear and made a perfect landing, just feet away.His crew was already there waiting to help and within a few moments, he was exchanging passengers and was in the air again. I got to see a lift-off after all!Good thing this 8 year old was there to help pull the balloon to the ground

It was the most gorgeous morning. Maybe they are all that beautiful but I've never been up early enough to enjoy them. It's true that the light is fantastic for pictures! I also managed to catch shots of many of the other balloons throughout the morning.All the patriotic balloons in one shot

I loved these colorful balloons
Stoppin off for some Del Taco??

After breakfast, we headed over to the parade. We got amazing seats on a round about and Rad and I read out of The Giver until the parade began. We enjoyed the sunshine...and of course some rain. After the parade, there was time for a nap and then off to a barbecue with Rad's family at noon. Rad's mom, Julie, gave us these bracelets and I read them over and over in my head, just to let it sink in. USA, Love it or Leave it!
Most people take it for granted that we have the freedom to leave our country, to travel and explore. There are some who aren't so fortunate...and I'm with the bracelet- If you don't like it, go somewhere else! If you don't have $$ to leave, I'm sure our country will give you some after you fill out some forms. But I consider myself very lucky to live here and to have been born here.

After the BBQ we had a second nap time and then made delicious homemade ice cream, using my $3 electric wooden ice cream maker from DI (returned to working order by my talented husband). After indulging on Butterfinger Vanilla, we drove up to the Provo temple to watch the fireworks with Chelsie and Shawn.

While we waited for the show to begin, I sat and pondered my bracelet once more, and it was then that I noticed something written on the inside. I turned it inside out to reveal the hidden message.

Wow. I'm Speechless.

Friday, June 26, 2009

One Down, Eternity To Go

Rad and I celebrated our One Year Anniversary last Saturday. Can I tell you all how fast it goes? As far as I am concerned, until you hit year 5, you are still newlyweds- but I'm glad, cause I love being a newlywed. It's exciting, flirtatious, sweet, it's roses from our garden in the hand of my sweetheart coming through the holes in the stairway banister beside me. Can this feeling just never go away? Or does it have to? Does marriage have to be hard? Maybe it's all part of our learning and growth.

Rad has been planning a surprise anniversary for the past 4 months. He usually can't fool me... only because I sit and analyze every possible situation until I figure out what he's planning. But he was finally able to keep a secret. We drove up to Salt Lake City around 3 pm and checked in to the Grand America hotel and resort.

Our room was incredible. A spacious living room separated from the bedroom by beautiful french doors, a king bed with "down" everything, a huge bathroom with 2 separate vanity's, our own little box of amazing chocolates, and a balcony facing hotel gardens and east mountains.

Can you spot the indoor pool above?

One of the reasons I was not expecting it, is because I know how cautious Rad is with $$. But he's been saving and planning for this for a long time. After getting settled a bit, we drove a block or two to the Melting Pot restaurant. We could've walked, but why not add valet parking to the bill?

Neither of us had ever been there, so we were totally confused by the 4 course menu, but we eventually caught on. First, you pick your cheese to dip your bread, veggies, and even green apples.

Totally not our Merlot by the way, just a stock photo!

Second, choose your salad. Third (by this time I was nearing full) choose your meat platter. We had fillet minion, lemon pepper steak, chicken, and pork. You get a couple different kinds of batters to dip your meat in before cooking it in the oil (which you also choose).

Finally, the dessert course- which you must save room for. You choose your chocolate- we got the "turtle" chocolate mixed with caramel and pecans, and as you can imagine, it's to die for. Then you get a plate of cheesecake, brownies, strawberries, rice crispies and more to dip.
Good till the last drop!
We spent three full hours there- dipping, chatting, waiting for meat to cook... It was relaxing. Considering we dropped a hundred there, I don't plan on goin back for a few years, but it was totally worth it.

Here's our faces when we saw the bill:
Retake- Rad says I look to Happy!Hmm.. Now I look....special
We woke up in our hotel room at 5am (talk about a downer) and left to take Rad to the airport. He flew to Philadelphia for a week long Metlife conference. I wish we would have been able to relax there for a few more days, but I am grateful for the mini honeymoon to spend some time together before he left. After dropping him off, I balled the entire way home as I drove 55 and watched the sun rise over the mountains. I am probably the only person in history who didn't have to slow down when I entered the construction zone on the freeway. I know it was so lame of me to cry, but it was the first time we have EVER been apart. I always make fun of people that make a big deal out of leaving their honey for a week, yet I was having a panic attack. In my defense, I am afraid of the dark and we have a huge house! But I am proud to say- I made it. He flys in tonight. I have been waiting to post this just so I could end it on a happy note.

Two glasses of Martinellis and the top tier of our wedding cake all ready to indulge.....

And the honeymoon continues.

Friday, June 19, 2009


...but mostly love

Does anyone else have a love-hate relationship with IKEA??? Even when I know I don't NEED something, like another apron for my collection, or a fly swatter to match my home decor, I want it so bad. "But it's such a good price," I always bargain with myself.

Rad HATES this store because you can't get in and out in less than an hour. I couldn't even walk that fast through the IKEA maze if I wanted to. But I still go there, even though I know they are forcing me to walk through the mad house and find things I really don't need and buy them just cause they are so cheap (and incredibly cute). I even still go there after being accused of stealing a $2 lantern (which I most definitely paid for) by an employee when I tried to return it without a receipt. He gave me my $2 after telling me that I was the one who had to live with myself at the end of the day. Don't worry guy, I go to sleep at night just fine. Go have a chat with the Home Depot bandits why don't you.

But the purpose of this post was to exclaim a find I found for a friend while exploring this dreadfully fantastic store:

Dearest Anine,

If I had $500, I know what I'd buy you. This.. because it is perfect for your growing family. You NEED it! And I want to come over and sit at it and eat a meal with you. Seats 10-14 people with 2 removable leafs. Think about it.. that's all I'm saying.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Culinary Masterpiece

A Delightful Addendum to the Previous Post

After reading my last entry, Rad asked if I could post about what an awesome cook he really is... since I mentioned the ONE time he's ever messed up in the kitchen. First off, I never thought his eyes would fall upon that post...ever. You see, he only reads my blog when I force him to (although there's no excuse to have belittled him like that). Secondly, I am very lucky to have such a culinary artist as a husband (no I'm not calling you feminine honey). Folks, it's true, my husband is a pretty good cook for a man--and not just with the steaks and potatoes, barbecued chicken and pulled pork burritos. Let's take for instance, the French Toast he made me for breakfast last Saturday.

So we have a little device called the GT Xpress (As seen on TV). After spending hours watching the infomercial Friday night, we were inspired to actually use the one that we got as a wedding gift. The next morning, I sent Rad out to make us some french toast, another favorite breakfast food of mine, using the GT Xpress.
Meanwhile, I cleaned up the kitchen and watched out of the corner of my eye as each of the ingredients was added generously to the shallow dipping pan. Eggs, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla, and finally, the bread. It seemed to be going alright, but then again, it wasn't over yet. While the battered bread was steaming inside the GT Xpress, I noticed the foulest of smells, and didn't dare comment on it... especially since Rad kept saying how good it smelt.

Fast forward to the eating part. I took one bite and threw it back up on my plate (charming, I know). Rad stared in shock, his fork hovering centimeters from his mouth. Was he trying to sabotage me for making fun of him? No, not like him at all. I knew the culprit almost immediately.
"You put paprika in the french toast!" I cried, literally.
"What? That's not possible!" he exclaimed, running over to the ingredients on the counter. "I swear I checked the label. See, it's Cin--" He trailed off. "Cumin," he sighed bitterly. "I guess I saw the letters C and N and just assumed it was the cinnamon."
I would not wish that evil upon anyone-- french toast a la cumin, except my own husband. Sadly, I could not convince him to take a bite of his masterpiece and I knew I was destined to face the agony alone. That horrid, bitter taste was on my tongue three brushes later. In fact, I don't know if I will ever feel the same way about french toast. To top it all off, Rad wouldn't even allow me to take a picture of the finished product, knowing it would only lead to future embarrassment.

My husband the chef. To clear the record, he's not an idiot and I hope I didn't give anyone that impression. His cooking far exceeds my own abilities. Heck, why do ya think I have him making the french toast in the first place. I'm no all star in the kitchen. Don't worry babe-- two bad incidences won't wipe away a year of positive achievement. Mind if we steer clear of breakfast foods though?

I am so going to be in trouble for this guys. Pray for me.

Today's Reflection- wish I was here again.. It's almost been a year!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Crepes & Butter

I woke up one Sunday morning with a longing for my favorite breakfast food, the crepe- Thin, perfectly sweet and delicious. I nudged Rad out of his slumber, told him I was in the mood, and asked if he would do the deed. After a moment of hesitation, he rose from bed, eager to please his wife with her favorite breakfast dessert. I got lucky. Of course I knew he secretly agreed to do it because it would give him license to quote one of his all time favorite movie scenes for the rest of the morning, in a French accent. “Just say you like really really thin pancakes,” he says as he exits the room.

I dreamt of sweet smelling blossoms, cool breezes and cool buttery cream. I awoke to the sound of a whisk tapping a glass bowl and the sizzling grill preparing to make its masterpiece. Before returning to my slumber, I thought I should go check on Rad, after all it was his first time making my favorite dish alone. I usually prepare the batter while he helps with the cooking. I asked him how it was going and he said he had it covered and to go back to bed. Before I obliged, I noticed he was stewing over what to do with the butter. I hinted that he should melt it in the microwave before adding it to the batter. I returned to the bedroom to shower, with complete confidence in my sweetheart.

I emerged minutes later, taking in the divine smell coming from the kitchen. I went out and breakfast was done. They looked amazing, stacked high and thin, rolled into perfect golden cylinders with crisp edges and tender centers.

Rad made me giggle with the way he gracefully tapped the sieve of powdered sugar onto the crepes using a spoon. Not just any spoon either- a special spoon, only to be used for tapping.

I carefully filled mine with fruit and cream, rolled and topped them with syrup and dusted with powdered sugar. Heavenly. I noticed, although still delicious, that they tasted slightly different than usual.

“Honey,” I asked, “did you remember to add the vanilla?” His head sunk, as if he knew he was a failure.

“No,” he sighed. I laughed and told him they were delicious and I was the luckiest girl in the world to have such a talented husband, so willing to please his wife.

After all, crepes are no easy task for a man. They have to be delicately thin but not so thin they tear (too thick and they taste like a sponge), somewhat round, perfectly golden, and of course, the first one has to stay warm while you cook the other 10 to 20 individually.

I felt completely satisfied as we cleaned up..

That is, until I found this…

“Sweety,” I inquired, as delicately as I could, “What did you do with the rest of the butter.” Again I saw his head droop, and the same look of defeat swept over his face.

“I guess I accidentally put the whole stick into the crepe batter,” he muttered. He held up the recipe without making eye contact. “And it only wanted 2 tablespoons.” I smiled and creeped up onto my tippy toes to hug him, and my legs felt just a bit heavier as I did.

“Would you like crepes with your butter?” he joked, holding out the wrapper, and I knew I got lucky. Lucky to find someone who made me smile everyday.

Dessert Crepes

3 eggs

7/8 c flour

1 ½ c milk

2 T sugar

2 T butter, melted

1 T vanilla

In a bowl, whisk eggs. Add flour. Whisk until smooth. Add milk slowly and whisk again. Add sugar and then melted butter slowly and whisk.

Using only 2-3 T of batter, drop into oiled pan, tilt pan to spread batter across evenly. Flip and continue to cook until golden brown.

Keep in tortilla warmer between wax paper if available until ready to eat.

Makes 12 crepes

Recipe c/o Michelle Collett

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


We celebrated 25 only 12 days apart.

Beautiful little Rad- He's still that same kid inside

Rad's Birthday was: Simple yet Enjoyable.

New Suit & Tie.

Xbox game, ipod arm band.

BBQ with high school pals.

Cake complete with 25 candles.

Jess' was: Extravagant & Nostalgic.

Little me- From 5 to 25 in the blink of an eye

It was my graduation trip slash bday present. It's been five years since I'd been home for my birthday. A lot has changed since then. Finally ready to re-live that day.

My 20th birthday- I knew this would be my last with her. We spent every moment together that day. One month later, we said our goodbyes.

Missing her, but found him.

San Diego. The temple was amazing- we had it pretty much to ourselves!

Family. We had a family party for all the may bdays, but I'm pretending it was all for me!

New shoes x2. (Rad is really good at shopping even though he hates it!)

New purse x2.

Thanks to My bro Shane & sis-in-law Josie, and of course their kids (Arick, Amie, Emily, Adam, Aaron, Ethan, Isaac & Evan.. Did I get everyone??????) for my rainbow purse. I have gotten TONS of compliments on it! Rad lovingly calls it my beach bag!

Old Town- Birthplace of San Diego, Founded by the Mormon battalion: complete with street performers and fresh salt water taffy

Disneyland (Of course free for the birthday girl!) with my sweetheart.. and churos.

Chels, I know what you are thinking- and yes you WERE closing your eyes in this picture. Thankfully I was able to use photoshop to take part of Mickey's ear and reconstruct your face.

Here's us... and chels & shawn (aka the twins)

The creepiest cruise around the world.

The most lifelike, talking, dancing, running, soccer playing robot in the world.

Altogether, 'twas a perfect day. No crowds or lines, perfectly cool sunshine, got to wear an awesome pin and was told happy birthday at least 100 times.