Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Retirement Dad!


Retirement . . . is when you stop living at work and begin working at living.
— Unknown wise person

This evening I will attending my dad's retirement party.  After thirty-six years of working for the man, this man get to be his own man.  I'm so proud of him!  After all, this is what he's been working for his whole life. 



But now that he's retired, I figured he'd probably get pretty bored after a few days, so I thought I'd make a list of all the things he could do...
  1. Remodel our basement
  2. Play golf with me
  3. Teach Ryan how to fix a car
  4. Manage our assets and portfolio
  5. Help us plant a vegetable garden
  6. Repair our backyard fence
  7. Go fly fishing with Ryan
  8. Install crown molding in the bedroom
  9. Change the oil in our cars
  10. Replace the windows in the house with engery efficient ones
  11. Plant a dogwood tree in the front yard
  12. Fix the leak in the fountain
  13. Become the world's best grandpa (I'll supply the grandkid)
  14. Remodel upstairs master bath
  15. Paint guest room
  16. Build us walk-in closets
 That should keep him busy for a while. 



Happy Retirement Dad!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Weight Watchers Mushroom Smothered Salisbury Steak

This recipe has solidified my place as "World's Best Chef" in my husband's eyes.  What is it with men and meat?  Add gravy and mashed potatoes and he thinks I'm a culinary goddess.  Whatever, I'll take it! 


Don't be turned off from a recipe like this because it's Weight Watchers.  Honestly, I think they have some of the best recipes around...and you usually cannot even tell they're "healthy."  I consider myself a pretty healthy eater and I'm always looking for healthy recipes...but you get tired of the same ol' grilled fish/chicken, brown rice and veggies recipes that are considered "healthy" by the cooking world.  Weight Watchers has better-for-you-versions of your favorite recipies and foods.  They use lots of little tricks for making their recipies low-fat, low-cal and low-sodium, without making it taste like diet food.  For example, this recipe puts picante sauce (which is fat free) in the burgers and gravy.  Picante, really?  I was a little apprehensive, but it gave so much flavor to the meat and kept it really moist and juicy.  Score one Weight Watchers.

 
• 1 (14 oz.) can low-sodium beef broth
• 3 tablespoons flour
• 3/8 teaspoon salt, divided
• 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
• 1/2 cup picante sauce, divided
• 12 oz. ground sirloin*
• 3 tablespoons Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
• 1 large egg white
• cooking spray
• 1 cup sliced mushrooms


  1. Combine broth, flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt in small bowl; stir with a whisk.  Add 1/4 cup picante sauce; stir well.  Set broth mixture aside.
  2. Combine beef, breadcrumbs, egg white, remaining 1/4 cup picante sauce, pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.  Divide mixute into 4 eaqual portions and shape each into 1/2 inch thick patty.
  3. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add patties; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove from heat; cover and set aside.
  4. Add mushrooms to pan; saute 2 minutes or until browned.  Add broth mixture to pan.  Bring to a boil; cook for 3 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly.  Return patties to pan, and cook until thoroughly heated.
  5. Serve patties with gravy on top!

Yield: 4 servings (1 patty and 1/4 cup of sauce each)
Nutrition: 5 points (217 calories and 9g fat)**

* Instead of beef/sirloin, I used ground bison (although often referred to as "buffalo" - the correct term is bison).  Ryan and I hardly ever eat beef...we substitute bison for beef in almost every recipe.  Bison is a  much much healthier alternative for beef, and we think it's even better tasting.  Bison has more iron and protein than beef, but fewer calories and fat than fish or chicken.  Bison is also rich in Vitamin B12, Selenium, Zinc, Phosphorus, Vitamin B6 and Niacin, all of which are recommended daily.  Ground bison can be substituted for ground beef and is prepared in exactly the same way.  When preparing bison steaks, the bison needs to be cooked slower and at a lower temperature than that used for beef because of the lack of marbling (white streaks of fat through the meat). 

You can get bison at most specialty food stores (like Whole Foods), or order it from our friends at Sayersbrook!  Click HERE to place your order.  Try the bacon and breakfast sausage...delicious!

**Calories and fat will be significantly lower if you use bison, instead of beef.


Serve with sauteed green beans (with a little extra-virgin olive oil and lightly sprinkled with Italian dressing seasoning) and mashed potatoes (made with skim milk and low-sodium chicken broth)


Yeah, so, it's a little messy.  I need to work on my presentation skillz.


Yum.  Seriously.  Yum.

Sorry for the pictures being a little blurry and dark.  I'm using Ryan's underwater fishing camera.  My camera is currently in the shop being fixed.  I think Miami was just too much for the poor thing. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Engagement Pictures

I realized the other day that I still haven't posted our engagment pictures.  Originally, I didn't really see the point of getting engagment pictures taken.  I wasn't planning on using them for anything in the wedding (guest book, save the dates, etc.), so I didn't think we needed them.  However, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of having some pictures of just the two of us (pre-wedding), just to have...even if we didn't use them for anything.  And I really wanted them to be taken in Jackson.  The Tetons are so incredible, but they weren't visable from our wedding venue, so they wouldn't be in our wedding pictures.  Engagement pictures would be a perfect opportunity for us to get some pictures in front of those peaks.  Also, I thought doing an engagement session would be a great way for the two of us to get comfortable in front of the camera, so we didn't look awkward and uncomfortable in the wedding pictures.  So, a few days before the wedding, the amazing and talented Carrie Patterson took Ryan and I out to Grand Teton National Park, just outside of Jackson for our engagement session.  We went to the Moulton Barns, which was the perfect spot for me since I have a slight obsession with old barns.  We went at dusk and the lighting is beautiful.  I think they turned out to be some of the prettiest and romantic pictures I've ever seen.  They are way too gorgeous not to do something with!  Anyone have any ideas of what I can do with them?



Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gus & Cece

I just can't help myself...I must post these pictures.  These are my friends' kids, Gus and Cece.  Are they not the most adorable things in the whole freaking world?  Cece even joined us for lunch today; she's such a doll.  It took all the will power I had not to steal her and take her home with me. 






Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Halloween Costume = Bridesmaid

For the last few years, Ryan and I have hosted a Haunted Halloween Costume Party at our house. It has been so much fun dressing up and seeing what costumes our friends come up with. We decorate the entire house, play scary music outside, have a ton of creepy food, invite everyone we know and offer prizes for the best costumes. To see some of the great costumes we’ve had, check out pictures from last year: Halloween 2008.

This year, however, we’re taking a hiatus from Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely love our party (and it’ll probably make a come-back next year), but it’s quite a time-consuming and expensive undertaking (especially only a few months after throwing a wedding!). Plus, we’ve just got better shit to do this year!

Instead, on October 31st we’ll be in Chicago attending a WEDDING! And not just any wedding…the wedding of my brother-in-law Justin to his beautiful fiancĂ©e Christine. This will be the first wedding where both Ryan and I are in the wedding party -- Ryan is the best man and I am one of Christine’s bridesmaids. And most importantly, with this wedding, I officially get my first sister. I’ve never had a sister and I can’t even tell you how excited I am.

So this year, for Halloween, Ryan will be looking sharp in a black tux and I’ll be dressing up as a bridesmaid and wearing this lovely ensemble. Don’t you just love J. Crew?



I don’t want to spoil all their surprises (not that anyone they know reads this blog), but I can’t help but be excited.  I MISS WEDDING PLANNING!!!

The rehearsal dinner is here:


They’re getting married here:


And because I’m super bored and completely (still) wedding obsessed, I’ve put together a little inspiration board for the wedding. Her wedding colors are black, ivory and champagne.  A gorgeous Vera Wang gown.  Jimmy Choos.  Orchids for flowers.  A wine-theme wedding.  Stunning!!



A cheers to the new McCartys.  Best of luck you guys.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gift Guide -- DIY

Sometimes the best (and most personal) gift, is the one you make yourself. Here are some do-it-yourself (DIY) home-made gift ideas to inspire you.

1. Monogrammed Hand Towels --Read the tutorial HERE.


2. Amazing Rice Krispie Treat Squares -- Find recipes HERE.

3. Herb Sachet for Cooking -- Read the tutorial HERE.

4. Hot Damn Strawberry Jam --Read the tutorial HERE.

5. A Holiday Music mix CD
6. Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti --Read the tutorial HERE.

7. Lavender Sachet -- Read the tutorial HERE or HERE.


8. Blurb Book -- Check out the website: http://www.blurb.com/
9. Cork Board or Cork Wreath -- Read the wreath tutorial HERE and the board tutorial HERE (and buy the backing HERE).

10. Muffin Mix in a jar -- Read the tutorial HERE.
11. Scented Sugars -- Read the tutorial HERE.


12. Body Scrub -- Read the tutorial HERE.

13. Moss Terrarium -- Read the tutorial HERE.

14. Vanilla Extract -- Read the tutorial HERE.