Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chicken Roll Ups

This was my FAVORITE meal at the AOII house, all those years ago. Over time, the cooks made them less and less and by now, the girls don't even know what they are! When we were at Aunt Debbie's in February to find out about Leslie and Kevin's new baby (which we found out yesterday is a BOY), I was SHOCKED to see a pan of chicken roll ups, and even more shocked to discover that they tasted exactly the same as the ones from the house! Hooray! I finally got around to making them last night (which is why I had no idea that a tornado hit Ttown--I was cooking) and I must say they were delicious!!! ENJOY!! Oh, and all of you AOII's out there, leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite meal was! I'm trying to collect several to try to recreate the old days and I need your help!! Alpha love!

Chicken Roll Ups (AOII style)

See--just a few ingredients! Very easy!
4-6 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
2 cans crescent rolls (should be 8 per can) (I used reduced fat)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used 3 cups, you can never have too much cheese, right?)
2 cans cream of chicken soup (I used reduced fat)
1 cup milk (I used skim)

Open crescent rolls and separate the triangles onto a large cookie sheet.

Mix soups, 1 1/2 cup cheese (I used 2 cups here), and milk.
Put a spoonful of chicken into the center of each crescent triangle and close. I tried really hard to totally surround the chicken with the dough but sometimes it didn't work exactly as I would have liked.

Pre-closure. You really can get a lot more chicken than you think in there!
Place chicken rolls into a baking dish. I separated mine into 2 9x9 pans, although they would all have fit in a 13x9. Pour soup/cheese/milk mixture over the chicken rolls.

Bake at 350 for 30-45 min. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and enjoy!




Yesterday is a day I will not soon forget, and neither will most across the state of Alabama and the Southeast. I am one of the lucky ones--we never lost power, our house was fine, and most importantly, our family and friends were all safe. Others were not so lucky and for them, I pray. Even though Forrest and I were out of harm's way, I was and still am totally shaken up by the tornados that ripped across the state yesterday. I am most upset about what happened in Tuscaloosa, one of my most favorite places on earth. A tornado, at least a half a mile wide, literally tore the city into two halves. It totally demolished everything in the vicinity of 15th Street and McFarland, one of the busiest areas of the city. THANK GOD--my sister, all of my cousins, and my friends that live there were all safe. Mary Margaret lives on 12th street, 3 streets over from where it hit, and my cousin Ashley lives on 13th. Thinking about what they went through yesterday, how scared they were, makes me cry. MMM and her roommate Hannah were both laying flat in MMM's bathtub with cushions on top of them, listening to the rain poud and the wind howl around them. All they could do was pray. I know I shouldn't still be upset about it, and I probably don't have the right to be so, since everyone I know is totally fine. The city is shut down, there is no power or water or even gas. The University is closed and they have even canceled finals. My heart breaks for those in Tuscaloosa and the other areas of the state that were decimated by the storms and my thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones, homes, everything. We love you Tuscaloosa---ROLL TIDE!!!
While we were in the basement, Forrest got me to start organizing it, since I was still a little hysterical after seeing what happened in Tuscaloosa. We finished at 11, but everything is neatly packed up and stored in boxes. Luckily we stayed safe!!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter!

What a happy Easter we had, full of fun, friends, family, and food! It all started on Friday night. I left work a little early and picked up Denise to go shopping for the hostess gift for Justin and Farrah's shower next weekend. We got several things and I know they will be a hit! Check out pics next week! After shopping til we dropped, I headed home and attempted to be domestic. I folded all the week's laundry, cleaned the house, put up dishes, you know, fun stuff that I had been putting off for days. In the mean time, Forrest and Davis were on a 15+ mile bike ride out in Duck Springs. I just don't know how they do it! That seems so far to me!! When Forrest finally got home, it was just in time to catch me about to run out the door. Farrah and I had plans with our book club girls to see Water for Elephants, a movie made about one of the books we have read in book club. This was one of our favorites and I have been counting down the months until it came out! (The boys went to Blackstone while we went to the movie). What a fun fun fun time we had at the movies! Lara Murray handled our tickets and we were treated as VIPs! We all got popcorn and drinks and made a night on the town of it. The movie was great, although they did leave out a few of the more intense parts. It was the first time we had all gone out together like that and we had so much fun, we are already planning our next outing!! When Forrest and I got home, there was a bright blue Easter basket on the kitchen counter from Forrest's mom to me! Hooray!!! It was stocked with lotion, hand sanitizer (which I never leave home without) and some really cute pool shoes, among other things. I was so surprised!!

On Saturday I had big plans: make my snacks for Easter, clean out my closet (and arrange it so the "after Easter" clothes were easier to reach), organize the basement, put pictures in frames, among various other things. I managed to do the first one and that was it! I slept late, laid around, ate lunch, and was then tempted to take a little nap by Forrest and Ruffles. I blame them entirely, as they made it look so nice! Once I woke back up I figured I should at least make an attempt at productivity. I began making my "Snuggles" for Easter, however, I modified the orignal recipe. Instead of Hugs I used plain chocolate Kisses and instead of regular M&M's I used peanut butter ones that looked like Easter eggs. They turned out really cute---almost like little bird's nests. Once I made the first batch I decided I needed some more, so I made a quick grocery run for some more supplies before jumping right back in to candy making mode.

I made 6 trays of these!! Craziness!
Forrest had gotten motivated himself--after his power nap, he mowed the yard and cleaned out the gutters! We both got finished with our tasks right in time to head to dinner at my parents'. Dad was grilling bone-in sirloins--yum yum yum!!! It was such a great night that we all sat outside snacking before dinner was ready. Mom and Dad had gotten some new patio furniture and tiki torches they were anxious to try out and we were happy to help! :) Dinner was great, and the company was even greater. My whole family was there, as well as Davis, my sister's boyfriend Matt, and my brother's friend Laura. After a yummy dinner I had a surprise for the group--we were going to dye eggs!!! I had picked up an egg dying kit last weekend and was so anxious to use it. I hadn't dyed eggs in years and Forrest said he had only dyed them once or twice (how sad is that!!) and I felt like it would be more fun if it was a group activity. Everyone seemed reluctant at first, but then they really got into it!! Everyone was trying to make "better" eggs than the others---too funny! Forrest was particularly artistic, making a multi stripe egg as well as one with a face on it.

Forrest, Roy, Laura, and Davis, hard at work!

Finished product

Forrest's masterpieces
After all the fun (and the mess!) we decided to head back home. Roy and Laura came and hung out with us while we waited for 12:01 am--the time when Lent officially ended and we could eat sweets again!! We had been preparing for this for weeks. I had stocked up on ice cream and other goodies and we had even been freezing treats that were served but we couldn't eat during Lent. When the clock struck 12, we were ready!!! I was expecting this joyful reunion with sweets, but really, it was kind of a let down. My ice cream wasn't as good as I remembered and I didn't feel the urge to eat until I threw up or anything like that. Oh well, I figured I was just tired and would have a better time on Easter.
On Easter Sunday, we met Mom and Roy and MMM at church. I was really excited to wear my new Easter dress and to see the church full of flowers. I also love the Easter songs: Jesus Christ is risen today!!! Aaaaaaaaaa-lleluia! Our triumphant Holy day!! Aaaaaaaaaa-lleluia!

Easter pic
After Mass, the real craziness began. We had to run home, change, load the car, and head to Birmingham for lunch. Despite the crazy rush we are always in, we never seem to be the last ones there, even though we drive an hour! This time we had so many people with us we needed 2 cars! Matt was coming with MMM and we had invited Davis to go since the Bailey's had gone to Selma. It was his first Italian holiday---my wasn't he in for a treat!! We treat Easter just like Thanksgiving or Christmas--tons and tons of food! Usually on Easter though, we have doubled up on the sweets, since usually most of us have given up sweets for Lent. This was NO exception! We had 2 trifles, 2 cakes, my Snuggles, pies, brownies with Oreos baked inside, and much much more! We basically rushed through lunch so we could indulge in all of the delicious desserts. Mmmmm Mmmmmm Mmmmm! That's more like it! I tried to stick to little scoops of everything, but it was so hard to have self control when there was so much!!

Can you tell why I am still sick today?
Stuffed, we decided we needed a little activity. Therefore, we all (yes, nearly all of us) went to my Aunt Dawn's house to see the 10 puppies they have been caring for! How adorable!! I could have cuddled those little snuggly babies all afternoon! They are 5 weeks old and will be ready for their new homes next week. If you are interested in getting one, let me know!

Once we got home, the sugar coma hit us. Ugh---we both felt terrible!!! I took a little nap and then laid on the couch and watched tv for hours, and Forrest actually slept for about 3 hours. Obviously, our systems were not used to all of that sugar!! Even today, the thought of eating something sweet makes me want to gag!!! Forrest and my mom are re-giving up sweets until June 3, and although I didn't go so far as to ban myself from them for good, I may be laying off of them as well, especially after the way I feel today!! This should be a relatively calm week so hopefully I can start to feel better and maybe even get some things crossed off of my to do list at home. One can only hope!!! :) Hope you all had a great Easter as well!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Stuffed Pork

Last week I attempted my friend Randi's stuffed pork tenderloin. I had to modify it a lot so it wasn't exactly as Randi instructed, but it was still pretty good! If you try this and make any improvements, let me know! I'm definitely going to be tweaking the recipe!

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

1 prepackaged pork tenderloin (I got the Mediterranean flavor)
1 bag spinach
1 tomato, sliced
1 package feta cheese
olive oil
Worcestershire sauce
lemon juice
Italian seasoning
garlic powder

Butterfly pork tenderloin. Make sure it is laying flat in the bottom of a baking dish. pour on olive oil, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, make sure you leave enough in the bottom so that the tenderloin is sitting in liquid. Sprinkle each seasoning onto the tenderloin. Then put the feta cheese, spinach, and tomato on top, in that order. Randi then rolls hers up and ties with butcher's string. I didn't have any so I just left it "open faced". Bake at 350 for 30-40 min.

Hudson Thomas Puckett

On Wednesday we were HONORED to be able to visit our friends Lauren and Joseph and their brand new baby, Hudson Thomas Puckett!! I graduated high school with Lauren and Forrest graduated with Joseph, and then the guys were pledge brothers in Lambda Chi, so we feel like we have known the Pucketts forever. We were also both in their wedding in 2006! In the fall, we met Lauren and Joseph in Tuscaloosa for the first football game and Forrest jokingly asked, "So when are you guys going to have a baby?". Neither of them said anything and they just smiled. Then, about a month later, we were in the car in North Carolina when both of our phones beeped with texts: a text of a sonogram!! Baby Puckett was on the way! Little did we know that Lauren knew she was pregnant when we asked them at the game, but she kept it a secret!

Since then, we have been anxiously awaiting baby Hudson. This really is the first baby in our close group of high school and college friends so we have been extra excited. To that end, I have been stalking both of the Puckett's facebook pages and Lauren's blog so that I would know immediately when she went into labor. I thought I had it all figured out. On Tuesday, Lauren said that the doctor had decided to induce her on Thursday morning. Well, when I checked facebook early on Wednesday, it turns out that the doctor called back and said to come a day early!! Game on!!! I got to leave work a little early and I ran and grabbed a few things for the new family. I wasn't sure what to get, but I figured, if I had just had a baby, I would want cupcakes and chocolate, so I baked some cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, and made an Easter basket for the new family. I appreciate Hudson coming at Easter, because everything is pastel and baby colors right now! :)

Easter Basket full of things for Mommy, Daddy, and Hudson
I met Jay after he got off work and we went to meet Forrest at UAB before heading to St. Vincent's to meet Hudson. Claire was able to come from Tuscaloosa as well!! When we got to Lauren's room, we immediately saw the sweet little man--how precious! I was so proud of Lauren--there she was, up and smiling, right after giving birth. She is my hero!!! We were able to spend several hours with Lauren and Joseph and Hudson, just talking, laughing, and welcoming the little man to the world! Congrats Pucketts!! We are so happy for you!!
Forrest checking out the little guy

Three Lambda Chi's and a future one too!

Sweet precious baby (or the little burrito, as the boys kept calling him)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ruffles' Anniversary

This weekend we celebrated one year with our little Ruffles!! I know that sounds kind of silly but honestly I couldn't believe we only have had for for one year--it seems like she has been a part of our little family forever! I'm sure I was much more "in" to the fact that it was her anniversary than anyone else but I will celebrate the anniversary of just about anything, so I was very excited to celebrate this "momentous" occasion! Before the "celebration" started on Saturday, we spent Friday night in Birmingham with Davis, Jonathan, and Denise. Forrest had gotten us all tickets to go see David Sedaris, a humorous writer that we all enjoy. Forrest gave me my first David Sedaris book for Christmas and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was laughing out loud! He is very straight forward and oftentimes irreverent which makes for a hilarious read! His books are pretty short and are short stories, so even if you are not a big reader, you should fly through them. Despite the storms, we left Gadsden right after work so we could get there early enough to eat. We chose Rojo, and despite the rain, sat outside to enjoy our meal. I had fish tacos and Forrest had the chicken fajitas. We really had a fun time and dinner and before we knew it, we had to hustle to make to to the show on time at the Alys Stevens center. I wasn't sure what to expect of the event, but I was pleasantly surprised. David read some of his stories and even from his journal. At the end, he took questions and mentioned some jokes that people told him while on tour, which I can't really repeat but they were funny nonetheless! He was really funny and had great timing and delivery. Now I will have to read the rest of his books!
I didn't have the greatest nights' sleep on Friday night and was trying to squeeze out my last few minutes of sleep before the alarm went off when Forrest came and woke me up. I had on my eye mask and I tried to ignore him (yes, I am NOT a morning person and I know this makes me terrible) but then he put something smooth and rectangular into my hand. I was thinking "Why in the world is he giving me a bar of candy? He knows I can't eat candy until Easter" but when I opened my eyes it was not an enormous candy bar but an Amazon kindle!!! Hooray!! What a surprise!!! I had been talking about getting a kindle since I hosted book club the last time. Farrah had gotten one and some of the other girls had nooks and they all said how awesome they were and that as a big reader, I would definitely enjoy one. I decided that I would ask for one for Christmas, but still, I had been talking about them pretty incessantly. Little did I know that Forrest had immediately ordered one for me! What a doll! The BEST part is that I was able to register mine under Farrah's account so now we each get the books that the other purchases! How perfect, since we share regular books anyway! I haven't had that much time to get in to it too much but I can't wait to learn all about it and most importantly, order a cute cover for it!! :) Thank you thank you thank you Forrest!!!
After such an exciting wake up call I had to throw myself into getting ready mode, because Justin and Farrah were coming to meet us so we could ride to A-Day together. We did the same trip one year ago and were excited to go again, especially since the weather was going to be so nice. Now, I do not really get into the whole "Spring Game" thing. I mean, we play ourselves, how much can you actually tell from that? (Well, I can't tell anything but I know other people can.) Anyway, I see A-Day as a fun way to get some game day atmosphere to hold me over until fall (138 days til kick off--woohoo!) and as a way to see our "football friends". We had our Bama magnet on the car, the Hayes brought us our traditional pre-game breakfast of Jack's biscuits, and we were all set to go! It will be even easier when the Hayes move onto our street in 2 months AND when they finish building the Jack's on Rainbow Drive! :)
When we got to Ttown, we met my sister at her house. We were even more excited that my brother had come in from ATL with some friends to hang with us at the game! That NEVER happens!! Also, Randi came to join us--hooray! We were able to have our monthly catch up lunch right there in Ttown!

Reliving our old college days in the AOII house
Our whole group went to the AOII house for some bbq before we went to the "game". It was really fun to be back in the stadium and see all those fans! 92,000+ people were there for the "fake" game. I think we have the best fans in the world! We only stayed until half time but we did have a fun time catching up and discussing our defense, which they say looked good.

First game day pic of the year

Hahaha-happy feet!

"F-bomb" pic

Game day girls
When we left the stadium we went straight over to Coach Saban's new statue. All week long I was thinking that when we left at 1/2 time, no one would be crowded around it like they would be when they unveiled it before the game, so we can have a clear shot at it. No siree! As Don Rhea would say, my idea was not original to me. It was PACKED and I was so disappointed. BUT, never you fear, Farrah grabbed me and we slinked and snaked our way right up to the front and even got a security guard to take our pic with the giant Nick Saban!! She has that on her camera, but here is a preview of just how big that guy really is!

Enormous feet! Look at the real foot beside it (which was no small foot either)

Oh yeah!
Once we got back to town, we changed and headed back out to the Humane Society Auction, the event at which I found Ruffles, one year ago! LUCKILY, they only had 2 dogs there this time, one that belonged to one of the workers and one that was for auction! I had a great time talking to Ruffles' other mom and to Vicki, the director of the Humane Society. Forrest, as usual, scanned the silent auction like a hawk. He loves nothing more than a good silent auction!! This year his victories included a blood pressure cuff (which he has to use at school on his patients and his old one, purchased at a previous auction, has turned up missing) and a dry cleaning gift certificate for me! He really loves buying things at auctions because not only does he get good deals, but he is helping out organizations we love! At our table were Justin and Farrah, my mom and dad, Harriet and Mrs. Logan, and we knew so many other people at the event, making it a great night! During dinner, they had a live auction. One of the first things they did was to choose an auctioneer from each table to auction of their centerpieces. Forrest was voted as ours and he did a great job, auctioning it off to Harriet for $5!

In the middle of the auction, Vicki thanked everyone for being there and for their continuing support of the Humane Society. They started to introduce Baloo, a dog rescued by the HS and who has now been adopted, but first she asked me to stand. I was so shocked I leaped out of my seat and almost kicked it over! She said that I was celebrating the anniversary of getting Ruffles on that very night and that next year, Ruffles would be the featured dog!! I was SO excited!! She will get to come to the party and have her story told and a slide show! Of course I am already starting to think of the pictures I will use and I really need to find her a cute bow or tiara or something to wear to her big night (Forrest says I have clearly lost my mind). I couldn't wait to get home and tell her. Do you think she was surprised???

On Sunday we went to Palm Sunday Mass and were even asked to take up the gifts. Then, Forrest went to ride bikes with Davis and me and the dogs met my dad and went up to the lake for the day. Dad wanted to fish and I wanted to get some sun and read a while. The weather was absolutely perfect and we had such a relaxing time. Forrest came after his bike ride and spent the rest of the afternoon with us. Sonny of course swam like a little fish, and Ruffles even took a dip (Forrest put her in the water--it was not her own idea, but she did a good job). Ruff even shocked us by sneaking one of Dad's peanuts, cracking it open with her teeth, and only eating the peanuts out of the middle. What a smart girl!!! We had to pack up a little bit early so dad could go home and get our dinner ready (thanks Dad). In the interim, Forrest and I took the dogs on a quick walk, trying to squeeze the last bits of daylight out of a gorgeous day. For dinner, we had filets, mashed potatoes, lima beans (Dad almost always has some sort of pea or bean), grilled asparagus, garlic bread, and salad. Scrumptious! Mom and Dad are so sweet to treat us each Sunday!!
This week we are looking forward to eating dinner with the Bailey's tonight in honor of a visit from their cousin, Jeff, who lives in CO, Sardis Court, and getting ready for Easter!! Hope you all have a great week too!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Weekend Recipes

Here are the recipes that I used this weekend. Hope you enjoy!
SO many ingredients!!

Stuffed Shells
1 box jumbo shells (one box makes 2 recipes, so you might want to double the rest of the recipe--I did)
1/2 lb ground sausage, Italian flavored (see, you may as well double)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz)
1/2 of a 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained  (again, you should double!)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 egg, beaten
1 1/3 cups spaghetti sauce (I used a whole jar)
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese (for top)

Cook shells according to package directions. Drain; rinse with cold water. Drain well. Cook sausage and garlic in a large sauce pan, breaking up sausage with a spoon. Remove from heat. Add mozzarella cheese, spinach, ricotta cheese, the 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, lemon juice, and egg; mix well. Carefully spoon mixture into cooked shells.
Place shells into a 13x9 dish. Pour spaghetti sauce over shells. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or til heated throughout. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Completed shells!

Mixture w/o cheeses

With the cheese

Bailey Lasagna (modified by me)
1 lb Italian sausage
1 lb ground beef
1 chopped green pepper
1 chopped onion
1 (28oz) can tomatoes, undrained and chopped (put your kitchen scissors down in the can and snip away!)
1/2 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp dried whole basil
2 tbsp Dried whole oregano
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
4 bay leaves
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 package lasagna noodles
2 tbsp butter/margarine
1 egg, beaten
2 cup cottage cheese (I did 1 c cottage cheese, 1 cup ricotta cheese)
2 cups (8oz) mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided (I used the bag of mixed Italian cheeses instead)
1 (14oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 (6oz) can pitted ripe black olives, drained and sliced
1 cup swiss cheese (I used the mozzarella here)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook ground beef, sausage, onion, and green pepper until meat is browned. Drain. Stir in tomatoes and  garlic powder, basil, oregano, seasoned salt, and bay leaves. Reduce heat, simmer 1 hour until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

Rocking my entire stove and almost all of my pans!

Close up of the sauce. It is more meatier than saucy--yummy!
MEANWHILE, cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Also saute mushrooms in butter. Drain and then mix with olives and artichokes.

Olives, mushrooms, and artichokes
Then combine egg and cottage cheese, mixing well.

Cottage cheese, egg, and ricotta
Remove bay leaves from sauce and spoon 1/3 sauce in a greased 13x9 dish. Arrange 4 noodles on sauce.

Trying to get my layers just right
Layer 1 cup mozzarella/Italian cheeses and the cottage cheese mixture over noodles.
Spoon 1/3 sauce over noodles. Layer mushroom mixture. Then arrange 4 noodles, and remaining cheeses and sauce. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Hosts with the Most

Over the past week, we have had several "events" at our house that have kept us on our toes! I actually planned it that way so we really would only have to do one major cleaning and then we would just maintain everything during the week. Even though I was really stressed out, it worked out pretty well. I am glad to have everything put back in order though! Last weekend we hosted the Young Marrieds group from church. Then on Tuesday night, Farrah and I co-hosted book club at our house. Farrah's sister Holly made all the food so I just had wine and drinks and made sure the house was straight. I was SO glad to have a co-host, and when Farrah hosts her first book club in August, I will be right there helping her! Have I mentioned that she and Justin bought the house across the street from me!!!?? I am SO excited to have my best friend as a neighbor. I never really grew up with "neighbors" that you could just walk to their house and play or anything like that. I keep thinking about how fun it will be to walk to each others houses to pick out outfits or watch girly tv together! I know the guys are glad that they can ship us off to one house so they don't have to watch Dancing With the Stars ever again!!! Hooray for neighbors!!
Ok, so I digress from book club. Everyone loved the food and I think they all had a great time! Forrest was home doing homework and afterwards he said that it didn't sound like we were talking much about books, but rather giggling and laughing!! That is true! While we do talk about the book, we usually spend the whole night laughing and telling stories! I was really glad to get to have everyone over again. I love my book club girls!!
On Friday, I went with my mom to Tuscaloosa to my sister's honors day. She got into the Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) honor society and was tapped on the "mound" on the quad. This is a great tradition at UA and I was so glad to be there for my sister.

She is the one in the bright dress
It made me think of when Forrest and I had our own honors days, so many years ago!!! It was a nice ceremony but it was ridiculously HOT! I had forgotten how humid it is in Ttown. I guess I need to get used to it for the fall! Since we were so hot and tired after the ceremony, we all went to 15th Street Diner for lunch. My friend Amy and I used to go to 15th street all the time in college and it made me miss her so much! I was disappointed that their menu has changed and they no longer serve my favorite sides--hashbrown casserole and broccoli rice casserole--or my favorite entree--chicken and dressing--nor did they bring us some of their yummy mini rolls! Devastation!!! I did have a pretty good veggie plate, but it really was not the same without my favorite standards!!
I was EXHAUSTED when I got home so I napped until Forrest came home. We had a date night planned!! How much fun! We've been so busy with everything else lately we really hadn't had a nigth to ourselves, so I was really looking forward to Friday night all week! We didn't do anything fancy or incredibly special, but it was just nice to be with each other! We ate dinner at the Fishmarket and then went to see The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules. We had seen the first DoaWK while we were in San Francisco and LOVED it so when we saw that the sequel was out, we knew we had to see it too! It is such a sweet little story about a little boy in middle school and it makes us laugh every time! The sequel was no exception and so I HIGHLY recommend it if you are looking for some light hearted fun!
On Saturday I woke up in "hostess" mode. We were hosting our supper club and I was making stuffed shells, so not only did I have to get the house ready, but the food too! Also, we had invited ALL of the Bailey's to lunch at our house on Sunday, since they all have not seen our house yet, and since I knew I couldn't get everything ready and go to church, I decided to get the food for Sunday ready on Saturday as well. For supper club, I made stuffed shells--delish! Denise can't eat dairy and Sarah Kathryn had given up cheese for Lent, so I made the first few before I added in the copius amounts of cheese required. I think they all turned out great! I also made an extra batch for Amy and Jared Gladden, who just welcomed their 2nd precious baby boy, Thomas, on Friday. Congrats Gladdens!! He is so beautiful! (I just dropped off the shells today and got to meet baby Thomas. What a sweetie pie!) After the shells, it was time for a mini-break: a pedicure with Farrah! She must have known how badly I had been neglecting my poor toes! It was nice to be able to get out of the kitchen for a bit and relaxing for a while. But alas, not too much rest for the weary! After getting my toes done, it was time to head right back into the kitchen to start on my lunch for Sunday: Mrs. Bailey's lasagna. I had never made lasagna before and I was actually itching to try my hand at it. Luckily, Mrs. Bailey had a recipe she really enjoyed and she so graciously shared it with me. I was so nervous that I wouldn't make it as well as her! Looking at the recipe, it seemed really simple. Cook, boil, chop, layer. Nothing too it, right? Well, not so right. I decided to double the recipe and so I ended up chopping 2 green peppers, 2 green onions, 2 packages of mushrooms, 2 cans of black olives, and 2 jars of artichoke hearts, not to mention all of the cooking and boiling and everything else. I literally had 4 out of 5 burners going at once. This was really because I didn't have pans large enough to cook the double recipe, so I actually was cooking 2 separate lasagnas! Forrest is usually my go to chopper, but he was outside pressure washing the house, driveway, carport, and deck (which looks great, btw) so I was on my own! It took me a good 3 hours to get the lasagna made and in the pans. I was most worried about the layering of all the different ingredients, but after all that chopping, the layering was a breeze! I was so proud at how it turned out and got the greatest compliment from Forrest "It smells like Pizza Hut in here!". :)
After my marathon of cooking, I had just enough time to clean up the kitchen, set the table, straighten up the house, and get myself together before everyone arrived! Farrah and Justin brought their signature appetizer, pigs in a blanket, Jonathan and Denise brought a fruit crisp, and Sarah Kathryn and Mark brought a beautiful spinach salad with the most delicious homemade dressing. I have got to get her recipe! As usual, we had a great dinner and time together. I was so proud that everyone loved my shells, even though the guys gave Forrest a hard time for not grilling!! :)
On Sunday morning we went to Mass and then headed quickly home to get the last few things ready before the Baileys all came over. I had loaded and unloaded the dishwasher twice on Saturday and had another load to go on Sunday. (Now I think I'm up to 6 unloads!) I have used every plate and glass as well as every butter knife and large sized fork that we have. At least I know they are good and clean now! Since we had cleaned up after supper club left, all I really had to do was unload the dishwasher and reset the tables before everyone arrived, not to mention putting in the lasagnas to cook. Mmm mmm mmm did they ever make my house smell great!! The Baileys luckily had agreed to bring the rest of the meal, so I didn't have anything else to worry about. Leslie and Kevin brought some yummy bread, Aunt Debbie brough a lovely salad, Aunt Susan brought several desserts, and Mrs. Bailey brought some fresh asparagus. What a great lunch! It was so nice to hang out with the whole Bailey tribe! Everyone left right before 3, all except Davis, who stayed to go bike riding with Forrest. What did I do? Well I cleaned up and did dishes, of course! I also got some shopping done and even made a stop at the Belk Registry completion event. We have been shopping at Belk using our wedding credit for nearly 2 years and I ended up wiping it out on Sunday! I got some REALLY great finds, including a rolling suitcase for Forrest, a plastic pitcher, 2 frames, and 3 hurricane vases, which I cannot wait to use! I was so proud of all of my purchases. Everything was 50% off and then I got an extra 20% off from the completion sale. Since I used the rest of my credit, I barely spent any real money at all!

A terrible picture, yes I know. But I got some bubbles at CVS (for free) and thought Sonny might like to chase them. Instead, they just confused him. Notice the bubble floating over his head!
 For dinner, we went to my parents' house for one of our favorites--bbq chicken with white bbq sauce! I have to admit that it was WONDERFUL to have someone else cooking for a change! :) I really really REALLY enjoy hosting and cooking but I think I have had my fill for a while!! Have a great week!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Young Marrieds"

For the past several months Forrest and I have been discussing how we felt that we needed a "Young Marrieds" group at church, or basically, a way for us to meet other young married couples in the parish. We talked and talked and one day we decided to do something about it! I met with Father Bean and told him our idea and he loved it! Since we came up with it he let me take charge and so I decided that the best way to start was to have a social event to get to know all of the young couples first. We set April 2nd as our date and then started our "PR" campaign. I had an "info" sheet in the bulletin, and last weekend Forrest and I spoke at the end of all 3 Masses, inviting all of the young married couples to attend the cookout at our house. I was OVERWHELMED at the response, not just from young couples, but from everyone in the parish. I had so many people come up to me at church, or even out and about, and say what a great idea it was and that they wished us well. I was also thrilled with the number of young married couples that were interested in being a part of YM's! We worked the whole week to get the house ready. I cleaned and scrubbed and went to the grocery store about 10 times and Forrest worked in the yard. We even steam cleaned our couches and carpets. Even though it was hard work, we laughed about how we need to have a party each spring to make us do our spring cleaning! My mom was very sweet to make some potato salad for me and Mrs. Beryl, Rachel's mom, made baked beans and her world famous Jerome bars. My Aunt Fran sent me lots of decorations and my uncle sent me the cutest plates to use. I know I couldn't have done it without everyone's help!
On Friday night, we took a break from our preparations to have dinner with my mom, dad, and my brother, who came home from ATL for the weekend. Also at dinner was one of my mom's "AP Chemistry" buddies. She was in town to speak at an AP seminar and we really had a great time meeting her! After dinner, Roy begged to come hang out with us and I made him promise if he came over he would help us get ready, and he did! :) He helped Forrest organize the office and best of all, he helped give Ruffles a bath!! :)

Brownie taking a break from the cleaning frenzy!
We spent Saturday getting the finishing touches completed and before we knew it, it was time for everyone to arrive! Luckily Rachel came over early  to help me!! I was a little nervous that everyone would stand us up, but that was SO silly! We had 8 couples (including us) and 2 that wanted to come but who had family plans. It was GREAT fun to get to know everyone, learn about each other, and to just sit and laugh! Forrest cooked some great hot dogs and burgers and everyone loved them (especially Sonny, who stole a few hotdogs when we weren't looking)! We talked about everything: kids, pets, jobs, college, sports, EVERYTHING! Isn't it fun to make new friends?? I really hope that the group continues to meet and hang out, as I know it will be a great opportunity for us all! I am thinking about a bowling party for next time---sound fun???

I had all of the desserts on the buffet. I loved my Easter eggs!!

The spread, pre-meat

Outside drink station

Simple candle centerpiece. I had 2 dips out there for the guys!

SO good!

I tried to have a few healthy options too!
This was a GREAT surprise. I got a message from the Frozen Slushie Company thanking me for talking up their product on my blog and offering me 2 free mixes of my choice! I picked the Frozen Vino and the Frozen Chocolate Martini mix. I used the Frozen Vino on Saturday and it was GONE!! Everyone loved it. Thank you Frozen Slushie Company for making all of my parties so tasty!! I can't wait to use the chocolate martini!!

Ruffles willing the food to fall off of the table so she can sneak some!
The next day went we went to Mass, it was nice to see a lot of the people from the cookout and be able to smile and wave at them and actually know who they were and some things about them! After church we had a pretty quick turn around. Forrest was participating in the Ride For Red Cross mountain bike ride with Davis and Jay and I was going to Jenny's baby shower. I have NO pics from either event---so sorry! The shower was SO sweet and Jenny got lots and lots of precious baby girl presents. My favorite were the ruffly bathing suits! They were teeny tiny but absolutely adorable!! Miss Emily is going to be quite the sassy baby!!
After the shower, I sent home and slept off the wonderful weekend before we headed to mom and dad's for dinner with Roy. Dad cooked some MASSIVE porkchops--seriously, I have never seen any as big! I was really glad that we got to spend so much time with my brother, since he hardly ever comes home! I hope we can get to ATL soon!
If that wasn't enough for the weekend, last night we went to my mom and dad's for my dad's annual NCAA Finals party. I went early and ate dinner with Mom (and Davis, who came early) and we watched Dancing with the Stars while the guys watched the first 1/2 of the game. I ended up watching the 2nd half. The funny part was that everyone bet on the final total score of the game. Forrest and I picked 137 and most people picked higher than that. Well, it turns out that the game was the lowest scoring since the 1940's, and so the person with the lowest pick, DAVIS, won!!!
Tonight, I am co-hosting book club at my house with Farrah. I'm so excited to see everyone!!! Hope you all have a great week!
One worn out dog after a long weekend!!!
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