Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Dog Thing

My mom was laughing the other day because her and my dad stopped by the house when we had some friends over whom all have dogs. Running around our backyard was our yellow lab, a chocolate lab and two boxers. We were all so amused by them, laughing, commenting on their antics and my mom later commented, "Won't be long before you are all sitting around watching your kids the same way!" I rolled my eyes and said for now, it's just the dogs!

Holly and her pal, Grizz:

Yesterday, some gals from work and I decided to get our dogs together and although I couldn't quite capture a photo of the whole group, this is what we ended up with: 3 yellow labs, a black lab, a chocolate lab, a yorkie, 4 women and a baby. We were quite the sight walking with all the dogs on leashes just trying to make it to the river!

Here's a glimpse of the pups trying to understand why they can't just be RIGHT by us!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Loving Summer...

Weekend Recap:

Friday night, I worked and a nice gift to come home to was the husband being back from a work trip! YAY!
Saturday, we had a leisurely morning, enjoyed coffee, visited and then headed down to the Bite of Seattle. I have lived in Washington my whole life and had never been so it was fun to experience together! We tasted fried macaroni and cheese (definitely want to attempt our own), Russian dumplings, Bubble tea, Beef Curry, and a chocolate banana crepe. All was very delicious! We probably could have kept going but wanted to save some room for a BBQ later at the casa with friends! Friends came over, we played washers, took the dogs swimming and enjoyed some yummy food. I attempted to recreate a salad we had tasted at The Bite:
Cucumber Salad (my version):
2 large cucumbers
1/2 large red onion
1 green pepper (I wish it had been red but I had green)
salt, pepper, rice wine vinegar, vegetable oil, chili flakes, dash of cayenne, and siracha sauce (all poured in or dashed or sprinkled to taste....go with what your taste buds tell you!)

Sunday morning I had to work so husband got a day at home and then my highlight of the weekend:

BBQ with the two of us at home on the patio. I came home, showered and we each took our books outside and read (and dozed off) for a bit, then fired up the BBQ and had chicken, garden fresh lettuce (from OUR garden) salad and leftover cucumber salad. The kicker was Ben's idea to take the skin off the chicken and BBQ it separately so the chicken would get nice grill marks too, and then we crumbled up the skin and sprinkled it on the salad similar to bacon bits....DELICIOUS! We also shared bottle of Malbec and were nice and relaxed to watch our first episode of True Blood.

We have heard so many great things about this show, so we are trying to get into it! Stay tuned for some opinions!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake Recipe

For the 3rd of July my family always goes to my grandmother's house who lives on a lake where they put their fireworks show on a day early. I was only going to make a potato salad and some beans, but then I came across this yummy cupcake recipe so I thought I would try it!

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cupcakes
makes 24
active: 40 min Total: 1 1/2 hr

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 large eggs
Peanut Butter Filling
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 to 4 Tbsp milk
Chocolate Frosting
2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup reduced fat sour cream (I substituted marscapone cheese)

1. Cupcakes: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners
2. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in medium bowl until well mixed. In small bowl, whisk milk and sour cream until well blended.
3. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with an electric mixer until creamed. Beat in peanut butter until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
4. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture and milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture until just blended.
5. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove cupcakes from pan to wire rack to cool completely.
6. Filling: Beat peanut butter and butter in medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth. On low speed, gradually beat in confectioners' sugar and 3 to 4 Tbsp milk until well blended. Beat mixture on high speed 1 minute or until fluffy.
7. Spoon filling into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-in. round tip. Insert tip into the top of each cupcake; squeeze as much filling into the center of each as possible (top of cupcake will bulge slightly).
8. Frosting: Melt chocolate chips in large glass bowl in microwave as package directs. Add sour cream; beat with an electric mixer until fluffy and good spreading consistency. Spread about 2 Tbsp frosting on each cupcake.

I hope you enjoy these delicious treats; I know I sure did!

**Happy Birthday to my amazing friend and mother! I can only hope to be the mother my kids that you are to me! I love you, Mom!**

Monday, July 12, 2010

Trying to keep up!

Ok--I am still trying to get the hang of this whole blog-thing. I really want to stick to it, but I keep forgetting!

Two weekend ago (4th of July weekend), we had a great weekend! Ben had a long weekend from work (5 days!) and we got to run together, enjoy breakfast together, have dinner with friends, see family and enjoy a little bit of sunny weather and spend a nice (well not nice in terms of weather) July 4th at home with my brother and his girlfriend.

Some pics of the weekend...

Nothing I love more about summer than FRESH, YUMMY fruit!
Breakfast one morning:

We got to head down to the city before we were meeting up with our friends and be "touristy," even though Ben was making fun of me for taking pics:

A beautiful view from the top of a water tower at a park in the city:

This weekend was, in my opinion, even better. We spent the whole weekend at home and it was absolutely wonderful. We had an impromptu BBQ on Friday which happened to produce a perfect-sized turnout with some great friends and great food!

Saturday, we got to head to the library, the hard wear store and grocery store, all of which were just quick stops so we could get home and enjoy the beautiful weather! We headed down to the lake with the pup and swam with her and threw the ball and basked in the sun! This was my favorite part of the weekend: Lounging in our lounge chairs, reading library books, chatting here and there and being completely content in our great backyard. We then BBQed stuffed hamburgers (stuffed with onions, mushrooms and Gouda cheese) and watched a movie.

Sunday was great as we meandered around the house in the morning, watched the World Cup final and I bid Ben his farewell for a few days away on business.

We had a picturesque weekend and I could not ask for a more fulfilling time with my best friend and husband. I am so fortunate.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Movie Emotions

Well. Ben has the day off and we have had The Hurt Locker on Netflix for about 3 weeks now. We had planned to watch it on the plane to San Francisco but did not do that so after Ben's 90+ hr. work-week last week, we FINALLY got to watch it today!

Best Picture. Best Director. Best Original Screenplay. Best film editing. Best sound mixing. Best sound editing.

Wow. What a great movie we thought it was and what mixed emotions it leaves us with about OUR war that OUR country is fighting. The movie got kudos for being so "realistic" and obviously I have no realm of determining truth to that, however, it really gave insight into the war that is being fought right now. There are many movies on past wars but none have been made (or made it into mainstream) on how the war is being fought right now.

The emotion I was overcome with was sadness. Sadness for OUR soldiers. Sadness for the soldiers' families. Sadness for the Iraqui people who may (or may not) want to be "helped" in they way WE are "helping." Sadness for OUR close friends who have CHOSEN to be a part of the military and fight for OUR country and freedom.

However...these days it is so difficult to perceive what we are fighting for. After watching The Hurt Locker, having a glimpse into what may be "reality" it brings about a lot of emotions as to what an everyday soldier in Iraq faces and what is so unpredictable to them in their everyday lives.

The other emotion I feel is anger. Anger towards the war and how it is being fought, the choices made and the choices that should have been made. However, to every situation there is a shoulda, woulda, coulda, BUT these are OUR men who CHOOSE to serve our country and I guess TODAY, for me, that hit home.

God Bless our troops and their families and let this war end SOON!