Monday, September 27, 2010

The countdown is on!

Last week I mentioned how I was soooo ready for the fall. Well that’s not all! Phil & I were talking about how much we love the fall, not only because we can finally go outside without dying from a heat stroke for the first time since April, but also because fall is a countdown for us. It means that we’re on the homestretch to see family again!!! We have not seen our families since last Christmas & it is incredibly difficult to go that long without seeing our families or even just getting a hug from our parents. Yes, emails, phone calls, texts, blogs, & Facebook help, but it just isn’t the same. For our countdown, my dad will visit Houston for a weekend in October, my sister will visit in November (conveniently work is sending her to Houston! What an awesome blessing for us!), and then December we’re going HOME!!!! It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about going home. So yes, fall is awesome, but it is really just a stepping stone to get us closer home.

Let me see, what happened this week? Last Thursday, I had the absolute pleasure & honor to meet baby Callum. Amy & Wyatt, you have a beautiful son! Thank you so much for letting me come visit with you!

Back in August Phil & I took a painting class, & because we had such a great time, I signed up for another class. Last Thursday evening I painted Sweet Cherry Blossoms. This time I took some hints from Phil & wasn’t so structured. Many of you know how very in-the-box with no room for abstract thinking I am. I was so glad to take his advice, & for the first time ever I really liked my final product….maybe I will start thinking out-of-the box more often?!
Me with my blank canvas.
This is what I was supposed to be painting (but I didn't like the green accents).
I was working hard here.
All of the finished paintings in my class.
This is a close-up of my Sweet Cherry Blossoms.
We hung my painting in the office.
Ok that’s it for us. Hope everyone is having a great first full week of fall! Love, the Hawleys

The Food You Crave


I have to admit that I have put-off starting the new cookbook (The Food You Crave, by Ellie Krieger) for the cookbook club because I was scared that the food was going to taste like typical healthy food (i.e. mortar board). And really, how am I supposed to follow-up the PW with healthy food?! Since school is back in session & structure has returned, I decided to suck-it-up & try it out. I can honestly say that I was pleasantly surprised. Even coming in with a negative outlook & looking for something to be wrong, I still found the recipes really delicious.
To wrap-up the summer I made the Salmon with Sweet & Spicy Rub & the Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing. For the salmon I baked it instead of grilling because Phil wasn’t home (I don’t grill without him close by; I’m too dangerous with a grill). I think baking it was fine, but I bet it would have been a million times better on the grill. Despite the name, we didn’t think it was all that spicy; next time I will probably add a lot more spice to it. Typically, I hesitate to cook fish because of the fishy taste & smell, but that wasn’t an issue with this dish. For the tomato salad I used spinach instead of romaine. Side bar- I think I must to have been the last person on earth to learn about Green Goddess dressing, but I really liked it! I doubled the recipe for salads throughout the week & omitted the tarragon (the recipe just called for way too much). This was an awesome summer meal; I wish I had made it sooner.
Another night last week I made the Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs & the Smashed Potatoes with Sour Cream & Chives. These potatoes were nowhere close to the PW’s mashed potatoes but were still pretty good & definitely a healthier choice. I did omit the chives, just because I didn’t have any, otherwise I would have added it. The chicken was unique. It wasn’t bad at all, it just had a very unique flavor. I think my favorite part of the chicken was the few required ingredients & the 2-minute prep time. Chocolate Cherry-Almond Biscotti- If you’re like me, & notorious for not being able to guesstimate measurements well, you need a kitchen ruler for this recipe. If you over-estimate then it doesn’t bake through well & if you under-estimate, it will break. So my best advice is bringing a ruler into the kitchen. I used cranberries instead of cherries, Cadbury dark chocolate (not the best quality, but a couple steps up from Kroger brand), omitted the orange zest, used regular whole-wheat flour, & didn’t chop the almonds too finely (don’t you think almonds look prettier when you can see them?). I thought the biscotti was really great & went fantastic with my morning cappuccino!
Sweet & Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwich- This is one sophisticated grilled cheese sandwich. While I did like the idea of making this traditional sandwich a little more novel, I didn’t really like this specific twist. I didn’t feel like the caramelized onions & the pepper jack cheese were a good combination. In Martha Stewart Living (October) there is an article with a bunch of recipes for dressing-up the traditional grilled cheese. I think I will try merging some of those options with this one & see what I get.
Mango Lassi- Apparently I’m not a fan of mangos, & Phil, who does like mangos, didn’t like this drink either. Unfortunately, we just did not like this drink at all; we couldn’t even finish the one glass that we were sharing :-\ Phil picked Chicken Marsala Tetrazzini from my SL magazine for dinner last night & we both really liked it. Never having cooked with marsala, it was certainly a challenge especially since I didn’t even know where to find it in the grocery store (FYI- it’s in the condiments aisle). hehe
Ok those were my new recipes from last week. Of course, I’ll let you know how this week goes in the kitchen!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall is on the Horizon

Again this year I am resisting the urge to transform our house into an autumn wonderland until October 1st. We got a new AC unit last week so our house has been cooler than usual which I think makes my brain think it is cooler outside than it actually is; I wish I could have tricked my brain back in June & July when every day the temperature was over 100! I also have 3 magazine subscriptions (Martha Stewart Living, Southern Living, & The Food Network) which all 3 arrived last week with pumpkins, apples, red/yellow leaved pictures, cider recipes…blah blah blah you get the idea. Needless to say, I’m finding it hard to resist my favorite season. I believe that fall officially starts this week so I can enjoy my "favoritest" season soon!
This is a picture of fall in good ‘ole Richmond, VA. This was the last time I was home for autumn :-( Isn’t it gorgeous though?! Really can you blame me for loving this season? I think not hehe
We have been to our fair share of Mexican/Tex-Mex restaurants in the past few years, but El Tiempo Cantina takes first prize. We went there for dinner on Saturday night & it was beyond fantastic; we highly recommend it! I could NOT keep my fingers away from the chips & salsa verde. The meals appear to be pricy at first, but for the cost you are really getting your next 3 meals because there is so much to take home. Do yourself a favor and check it out; we promise you won’t regret it!

I have recently mentioned my new love (or obsession) with Costco to several family members & friends; on Saturday we became members! Yesterday I filled up my gas tank at Costco & I saved 16 cents a gallon…..I repeat, I SAVED 16 CENTS PER GALLON!!!!! Amazing! I really am overly-excited about this membership. With Costco practically in my backyard, I think it’s really going to be hard to make me move now!

Have a great last few days of summer and welcome to fall!
xoxo,
The Hawleys

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Los Libros del Verano

I love a good book; give me a good book, a cup of coffee, & you won’t hear from me for a while. Typically I only read non-fiction, but maybe twice a year I will read a novel (this usually happens when I’m in an airport). I really love reading people’s stories, especially how their experiences shape them, thus memoirs are my favorite books. Another genre of books that I like to read are marital books on ways, with biblical basis, to make your marriage stronger. However, I must say that I am not a literature guru, not even close. I normally pick a book completely based on the cover or the title (yes, I know that’s wrong). If I read a review about a book, or search a topic & the title keeps appearing then I will probably read that too. Here is a review of the books that I read over the summer:

Thumbs down: Never Give Up (by Bill Moushey & Bill Parise) is about my favorite Steelers defensive player, James Harrison. Moushey is a Pittsburgh sports column writer & Parise is Harrison’s agent, so they know him pretty well. The book was about Harrison’s football career & how he got to Steeler Nation. I liked the story, but it was poorly written. Confessions of a Rebel Debutante (by Anna Fields) I thought would be more interesting about the south than it actually was. I did enjoy Fields pointing out places & things that I recognized from back on the east coast, but that was probably all that got me through the book. My Stoke of Insight (by Jill Taylor) was the first book written by a neurologist who had come through a stroke. It was interesting for her to confirm the feelings that neurologists say one will experience during a stroke & it was intriguing to know how much she was thinking & comprehending but could not express. I think the only reason I didn’t like this memoir was because it moved too slowly for me (but then again I guess that is what it is like after having a stroke). The Wednesday Sisters (by Meg Clayton) was actually a novel about a group of women that lived in the same neighborhood & got together every Wednesday to write in the park. The novel lacked captivation & I’m still not sure what the point was. Thumbs up: The Power of a Praying Wife (by Stormie Omartian) was so helpful. As women, I think so many times we have no idea how our husbands need us to pray for them; I mean, how could we know that?! Each chapter in this book was a different topic that husbands often struggle with (e.g. finances, career, fatherhood, etc.) & how their wives can help them through prayer. Omartian also provides lots of scripture (i.e. “power tools”) for prayer. I liked this so much that I got Power of a Praying Husband for Phil. There are others too, like Power of a Praying Parent, etc. The Savvy Bride’s Answer Guide (by Focus on the Family) was such a cute cover, especially when you put it next to the groom’s edition & it looks like they are holding hands! Awwwww! Aside from the cute-cover-factor, I like books from Focus on the Family. I guess I’m no longer considered a “newlywed” but I still liked this book. Each chapter was so short that I could quickly read one while I was eating my cereal in the morning & still get a great message of encouragement on how to better serve my husband. This would be a great wedding gift for someone just getting married (even if it isn’t on their registry hehe). Orange is the New Black (by Piper Kerman) was awesome! I was getting a pedicure when I read the review in People magazine & it sounded so unique that of course I had to read it. Kerman described her young adult life when she was involved in drug smuggling, & after she got her life together (and 10 years later) it all caught up with her. The memoir is about her time spent in prison, the women she met, & the relationships that developed. It gives a unique perspective on our judicial system & prison life. I also thought it was neat that while she was in prison, Martha Stewart’s trial was going on, and the responses from the inmates were hilarious! The Body Broken (by Lynne Greenberg) was a great story about a woman who’s spine was cracked as a teen & her subsequent battle with uncontrollable pain for decades; a very powerful story of her juggling pain, a career, & her roles as a wife & mother. 10 Things I Want my Husband to Know (by Annie Chapman) I picked because I like the author. The Chapmans have written many great books, & this was no different. Each chapter offered ways in which a wife can effectively communicate with her husband about different topics. Wasabi Gospel (by Shawn Wood) was beyond fantastic! Wood took different parables that Jesus taught & really emphasized what Jesus was saying. For example, Jesus taught us to love our neighbors, but Wood reminds us that our neighbors are even those people that society tells us not to like (i.e. thieves, murders, adulterers, terrorists, etc.) & we are still expected to demonstrate love & compassion towards those people, AND pray for them. The cover & title initially attracted me because I like sushi, but after reading it, I liked Wood’s comparison of the startling effect of wasabi & the startling messages of Jesus. I just love to dive deeper into the Word to really understand what is being said; this book definitely does that.

So that is what I have been reading. What books have you read recently that you would recommend?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Num-Nums

We recently watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and every time The Turtles said num-nums while they were eating “delicious cheese pizza” it made me laugh. I didn’t remember that part from watching the movie as a kid, but I’m sure I giggled about it then too.

In my last post, I forgot to add my new recent recipes. We signed up to help bring snacks to Sunday school for Labor Day weekend. Phil picked out these two recipes for us to bring: hash brown casserole and a patriotic fruit truffle (thank you Food Network!). A sweet and a savory—good choices Phil!

I didn’t try more than a bite of either, but from what Phil tells me they were tasty. I think I liked the casserole best because the crust was made from hash browns, and I love anything with potatoes.....well, except for potato chips. We decided that the next time I make this, I should add some jalapenos to give it some more personality.
Sunny, from the FN, made this truffle at a party in honor of war veterans hosted by VP Joe Biden at his house. I saw this in my FN magazine (courtesy of the wonderful Katie; a million times thank you! xoxo) and thought it would be a perfect way to start our Sunday School class’ Military Appreciation Week. Basically I layered sponge cake, strawberries, blue berries, and cream. NUM-NUMS!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hawley Happenings

Yesterday was the regular season kick-off game for the Steelers. We played the Falcons with our 3rd string QB, and I can’t lie, every time Dixon had the ball in his hands I had a minor heart attack. We did win in overtime, but I’m hoping that in the next few games while our 1st-string QB is out, that we make a few more touchdowns. Only gaining points via kicks is not ideal in my opinion.

In other news, my sister, Kellyn, is an Admissions Counselor for our (Kellyn, Phil, & I) alma mater, Randolph-Macon College. She is beyond perfect for this position. Saturday started her first travel season since she has been in the position. Kellyn will be traveling to high schools for the next 2 months along the east coast to recruit students for RMC. She started an awesome blog so that we could follow her trip, and of course I love it: Go Yellow Jackets! Please pray for her safety while she is away, growth as she learns more about herself, her attitude and spirit since she will be alone for a long time, and that she may show the light of Jesus to high school students she comes in contact with who may not know the Lord.

A lot of you ask me, how I get myself to the gym so early in the morning. But the truth is: I truly dislike everything about going to the gym. I don’t like getting out of my bed to go to the gym, I don’t like working out, I don’t like being hot, and not to mention, I think healthy food tastes like mortar board. Really this list could go on forever, but I will spare you the negativity that is my opinion on exercise. See, I desire to be healthy, but I just don’t like to have to put forth effort to have it; which admittedly is not a good mindset. Needless to say, since I don't have a magic weight-be-gone wand, I have gotten really creative on my list of excuses to avoid the gym. So you may ask, if I dislike the gym so much, how am I on the elliptical before 5 every morning? The grace of God…..and Joyce Meyer. I have recently discovered Joyce Meyer; her show in the morning is so full of wisdom and Christian encouragement. I just love her tell-it-like-it-is attitude. When my alarm clock goes off, I no longer hit the off button with an attitude, instead I think, “alright Darby, time to go listen the Joyce & give my praises to the Lord!” So I get to the gym in a better mood, I'm distracted from my glistening (p.s. southern women don’t sweat, they glisten), and I get to worship the Lord. I have even found myself getting to the gym earlier and staying late now. But I have to be careful with that; the shows that come on before and after Joyce are real tear-jerkers. It’s dangerous and my lack of balance is beyond embarrassing (especially for someone who danced for 20 years) when I cry and slip on the elliptical. Hehehehe Oh to be a fly on the wall! Oh well, I guess it gets me to the gym, and in a better mood, right? Alright, that's all for now, have a great week!
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