Saturday, December 31, 2011

so long, 2011

what follows is the 8th edition of my yearly survey... been goin' strong since 2004!

1. what did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before? i moved into an apartment by myself. it was really exciting. see #7, #11, #14, #15, #25.

2. did you keep your new years' resolutions and will you make more for next year? the way i see it: if you don't make resolutions, you can't disappoint yourself later on.

3. did anyone close to you give birth? my good friends amanda & andrew had a stillborn baby boy, maddox, on december 13th.

4. did anyone close to you die? see #3. also, brandon's grandfather passed away on the 4th of july.

5. what countries did you visit? unfortunately, just this one.

6. what would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? patience? hah, that's unlikely.

7. what date(s) from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? january 21 (starbucks), march 27 (brandon) may 7 (graduation), the whole trip to chattanooga, july 30 (first night in my new apartment), august 22 (first day of grad school/teaching).

8. what was your biggest achievement of the year? i was accepted to every grad school i applied to and received amazing assistantships for three out of four of them.

9. what was your biggest failure? oh man, i was the worst pet owner. i gave up on my puppy after 1 day and had to give away my rabbit after 3 months.

10. did you suffer any illness or injury? nope! nothing too terrible.

11. what was the best thing you bought? EVERYTHING for my apartment. :)

12. whose behavior merited celebration? i don't tend to assess my friends on their behavior.

13. whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? i'm not going to call out any names.

14. where did most of your money go? oh, most of my money undoubtedly went into furnishing and decorating my new apartment... and then into paying rent for my new apartment.

15. what did you get really, really, really excited about? in random order: moving into my new, beautiful apartment with no roommates! trip to charleston, sc with hannah speight! the end of spring semester! graduation! the end of fall semester! trip to chattanooga, tn with brandon! my last days living in boone! dierks bentley concert! decorating for christmas! dating brandon! weddings (even though they aren't 'til 2012)! the discovery of pinterest!

16. what song will always remind you of 2011? "goodnight moon" go radio

17. compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? happier!
ii. thinner or fatter? not sure, really.
iii. richer or poorer? richer!

18. what do you wish you'd done more of? saving my money (will there ever be a year when i don't have that response to this question?).

19. what do you wish you'd done less of? worrying, sacrificing

20. how did you spend christmas? my christmas was wonderful! on christmas eve, brandon and i took emma to lunch and then we went to the lovefeast at bethania with my brother and his girlfriend. we visited with my godfamily, then had dinner with the callaways. on christmas day, i made dinner for my family and then came back to greensboro, where brandon and i exchanged christmas gifts.

21. did you fall in love in 2011? yes.

22. what was your favorite tv program? programs that are new to me: ringer and modern family. program that is old: the big bang theory. program that is really old: friends (currently watching season 10 as i write this!).

23. do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? i don't hate anyone

24. what was your greatest musical discovery? um, i didn't realize how amazing jimmy eat world was until this year. also, mumford & sons. also, needtobreathe. this was a good year for hannah and music!

25. what did you want and get? my own apartment, a boyfriend

26. what did you want and not get? a new camera, to go to the beach, to go to disney world

27. what was your favorite film of the year? goodness, i can barely remember any of them! the last harry potter film was amazing, of course. and so was girl with the dragon tattoo! the remake of arthur was surprisingly good and probably my favorite.

28. what did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? i turned 23 on june 10th. brandon and i ventured to charlotte to visit ikea and had dinner at the cheesecake factory. then, some friends and i went to badin lake and spent a really fun afternoon/evening together at jenn's lake house.

29. what one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? well, i worried. A LOT. it would have been nice not to have so many things to worry about.

30. how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? librarian-chic (since i became a professor this year!)

31. what kept you sane? martha elster & jennifer mathews

32. which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? adam young (owl city)

33. who did you miss? at different points in the year: meridith, brandon, hannah speight, meghan

34. who was the best new person you met? brandon callaway, of course!

35. tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011: people and circumstances change and you've gotta learn to roll with it and move on.

36. quote a song lyrics that sums up your year: the entire song "where our destination lies" by ben gibbard

all in all, it has been an incredible year for me. difficult at times, but well worth the trouble. this will be my last post of 2011. thank you all for reading my blog this year! and if you are reading, please leave a comment and let me know. :)

i'll be back next year!


Friday, December 30, 2011

chef #35: white cheddar chicken pasta

for christmas dinner, i decided not to go as all-out as i did at thanksgiving. i wanted to try an italian recipe that i found online. it was pretty good, but super heavy on the thyme. i've adjusted the measurements below so that it's not as strong!

2-3 chicken breasts, trimmed & cubed
1 t mustard powder
1 t thyme
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 T olive oil

3/4 lb rotini
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 c white wine
1 T dijon mustard
8 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
2 c milk
1 T oregano
1 t red pepper flakes
shredded parmesan cheese

heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. mix mustard powder, thyme, salt, and pepper together and coat chicken pieces. when pan is hot, add chicken and cook until brown, around 3 minutes on each side. move to plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

prepare rotini according to package. meanwhile, melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. add flour and whisk to combine. add wine, garlic, mustard, and onions. cook about 5 minutes until onions are tender. reduce heat to low and add milk, stirring to combine. cook 10 minutes more, until mixture begins to thicken. add cheese a little at a time and stir to melt. add chicken and pasta to the pot. add oregano and red pepper flakes. stir until well combined. serve, topped with shredded parmesan and additional red pepper flakes, if you like. i served mine with fresh yeast rolls and broccoli.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


well, christmas is over and i've hit the end of the year doldrums. what do you really do with yourself for the week between christmas and new years? though there are many possibilities, i'll tell you that i'm doing a whole lot of nothing. nothing exciting, at least. i'm trying to decide how long i can leave my christmas decorations up before i become ridiculous. at some point i'll start preparing for next semester. but who wants to think about that right now?

my christmas this year was nice... not the christmas that i so loved when i was a kid, but nice nonetheless. i'd venture to say that it was even better than i expected. i spent christmas eve with brandon and we went to the lovefeast service at bethania moravian church... a tradition that means so much to me! on christmas day, i helped to finish decorating my parents' house and then cooked dinner for my family. i ended the night back at my apartment, exchanging gifts with brandon. on the day after christmas, i was standing outside target at 6:50 am with the "crazies," waiting to buy half price christmas swag. i stocked up on plenty of decorations and gift wrap for next year and i also bought some storage for my tree + ornaments. overall, it was a very successful trip!

i had a lot of fun celebrating christmas at home this year and want to share a few photos with you of the house!

{a winter forest}

{jolly s&p shakers}

{dinner table}

{my special ornament}

{fireplace + mantle}

{fixed, tuned, & ready to be played!}

{happy christmas to all and to all a good night}

{my dad made this german christmas tree}

{roses from brandon!}

{my first nativity... from grandmere & granddaddy, 1988}

{christmas lights}

what was nice about your christmas this year?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

RECIPE: Creme de Menthe Brownies

A discovery I've made this year is that I love the combination of mint + chocolate... something I previously detested. In light of this discovery, I elected to make creme de menthe brownies as a dessert for my family's Christmas dinner. I used Paula Deen's recipe and they turned out better than I imagined!

CREME DE MENTHE BROWNIES (makes a 9x13 pan)
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
1 c unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 c sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1 c flour

1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
2 c powdered sugar
4 T creme de menthe liquor

6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
6 T unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and mist a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. In a double broiler, melt baking chocolate and 1 c butter. Cool slightly.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs with a whisk until belnded, then add sugar and continue whisking until mixture is light and fluffy. Add cooled chocolate mixture, salt, vanilla, and flour. Whisk until thoroughly blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. Let brownies cool in the pan.

Beat 1/2 c butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until well combined. Stir in creme de menthe. Spread over cooled brownies and refrigerate until hardened.

In a double broiler, melt chocolate chips and 6 T butter. Stir until smooth. Pour warm glaze over brownies and refrigerate until chocolate hardens. Allow to come to room temperature before cutting & serving.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

vintage christmas

i love vintage christmas cards and found a few to share with you on this very special day. merry christmas! may your hearts be light!

Friday, December 23, 2011

top 20 of 2011

on the way to the grocery store tonight, i heard an atrocious song on the radio with the line "take me down like i'm a domino" repeated throughout the chorus. do people not know good music anymore? i do not claim to be a genius when it comes to music selection, but i like to think that my favorite songs have a little more depth to them. with that said, it's time to share my top 20 list for 2011. below, you'll see my favorite songs in order as the year progressed. those with a * are my top 5 favorites.

*1. GOODNIGHT MOON go radio
2. DIZZY jimmy eat world
*3. POISON & WINE the civil wars
*4. HOME edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros
5. WHAT SARAH SAID death cab for cutie
6. SOMEDAY YOU WILL BE LOVED death cab for cutie
7. TRANSATLANTICISM death cab for cutie
8. YOUNG BLOOD the naked and famous
9. I AM STILL RUNNING jon foreman
11. END OF ALL TIME stars of track and field
12. LETTERS WRITTEN IN TOMORROW'S INK michael henry & justin robinett ft/ maddie kinder
*13. SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL needtobreathe
14. GRACE LIKE RAIN plumbline
16. LOST IN MY MIND the head and the heart
17. GOD GAVE ME YOU michael henry & justin robinett
18. SIGH NO MORE mumford & sons
19. RESTLESS switchfoot
*20. PARADISE coldplay

first, an obvious statement: i listened to a LOT of death cab for cutie this year. i already owned all of their albums and already loved several of their songs, but something this year just clicked and i listened to them all the time from march until may.

easily the best new albums of the year were coldplay's mylo xyloto and switchfoot's vice verses. albums that were not new, but were new to me that were incredible were needtobreathe's the outsiders and mumford & sons' sigh no more. jimmy eat world was the best live show i saw all year... one of the best live shows i've seen ever.

in 2012, i am most looking forward to new albums from the fray and the avett brothers and to seeing coldplay live in concert for the second time!

what are your favorite songs from 2011?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

chef #33: apricot spread

this spread is sweet and goes nicely water crackers. i recommend doubling it if you're making it for a party.

1 pkg reduced-fat cream cheese (8 oz) @ room temperature
5 T apricot preserves
3 T thinly sliced chives
1 t onion powder

in a small bowl, beat all ingredients together until smooth. refrigerate at least half an hour until chilled. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

whoa dream big!

a few people have asked me what i want for christmas this year and i never know what to tell them. i consistently ask for gift cards and all of my friends & family seem to turn their noses up at that idea. so, allow me to share with you what i really want this year, if i'm dreaming big...

1. i really want to go to disney world (asap)

2. i really want to go to the coast of carolina (north topsail beach)

3. i really want a puppy (west highland terrier)

4. i really want a new camera (the nikon 1 costs more than a trip to disney world! eek!)

5. i really want a fabulous summer job/internship (PLEASE!)

when you're dreaming big, what's on your christmas list?

RECIPE: Goat Cheese & Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I was searching the other day for a recipe that would use up the rest of the crumbled goat cheese I bought for my bruschetta recipe. the following stuffed chicken turned out better than I could have imagined! So good! Please, please make this recipe asap. You'll thank me later.

2 chicken breasts
1/4 c chopped tomatoes
1 t olive oil
1/4 c chopped red onion, divided
3/4 t sugar
1.5 garlic cloves, minced
1 T, 3/4 t balsamic vinegar
1/4 c crumbled goat cheese with basil (or use regular goat cheese + 1 T basil)
1/8 t salt + more to taste
pepper to taste
Italian seasoning to taste
1/3 c reduced sodium chicken broth
1/8 t thyme
1 t flour
1 t water

Heat 1 t oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add half of the red onion, sugar, and garlic and cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Spoon into a bowl. Stir in 3/4 t vinegar.

Combine tomatoes, red onion mixture, cheese, and salt. Stir well. Cut a horizontal slit through each chicken breast to make a pocket. Divide mixture and stuff each breast. Use toothpicks to hold closed if necessary. Place in glass baking dish and season chicken with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the red onion-thyme sauce. Combine broth, remaining onions, 1 T vinegar, and thyme. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Whisk together flour and water and add to sauce. Bring to boil. Cook 1-2 minutes or until sauce is thickened, stirring constantly. Serve sauce over chicken.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

chef #31: fig & goat cheese bruschetta

i saved this recipe several months ago and decided to test it out last week. these appetizers seem so fancy to me! perhaps it is because of the uncommon ingredient of fig or perhaps it is because they look dainty next to buffalo chicken dip and potato skins and other appetizers that i love. at any rate, these would be great for a holiday party or a wedding shower! i copied the recipe directly from

(when i made this i cut the recipe in half)
1 1/4 c dried figs, finely chopped
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c coarsely chopped orange sections
1 t grated orange rind
juice of 1 orange
1/2 t rosemary
1/4 t pepper
40 slices french bread baguette
1 1/4 c crumbled goat cheese (the kind i bought accidently had basil... it was good!)
5 t finely chopped walnuts

combine first 7 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to boil. cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until figs are tender. uncover and cook 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. remove from heat, cool.

arrange bread slices on a baking sheet. top each bread slice with 1.5 t fig mixture, then 1.5 t goat cheese. sprinkle with walnuts. broil 2 minutes or until nuts begin to brown. serve warm.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


lately, i find myself thinking that i need a few reasons to smile and laugh. here are some of my favorite funny gems from the internet. what are some of your favorites?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

if you think you have problems...

if we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back...

i can't stop thinking about this today. what truth this sentence holds! my heart is heavy with sadness for dear friends of mine who are going through a more trying time than i can begin to comprehend.

love & peace to the schulzes today. "the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - psalm 34:18

Monday, December 12, 2011

DIY: christmas button wreath ornaments

i decided to borrow from my good friend (i wish!) martha stewart to make some cute button wreath ornaments for my christmas tree. i think i might make more next year to give as gifts! they are fairly simple to make. you'll need the following materials:

  • lots of buttons in all colors and sizes (i bought a mixed bag from michaels for $5... then used a 50% off coupon!)
  • 20 gauge copper wire
  • needle nosed pliers
  • 1/8 in. thick ribbon, any color

step 1: using the pliers, cut a piece of wire 9 inches long
step 2: using the pliers, bend one end into a loop
step 3: thread buttons onto wire
step 4: using pliers, bend the straight end of the wire through and around the looped end
step 5: tie ribbon to form a loop around the wreath
step 6: use ribbon to tie a bow at the base of your loop for decoration
step 7: hang on your pretty little tree!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

chef #30: marshmallow rolls

every now and then you have a recipe that doesn't work. maybe it tastes completely awful or maybe it looks terrible. i recently experienced the latter. i tried a recipe from pinterest that was supposed to look like this:

but came out looking like this:

OOPS! i'm not quite sure where i went wrong (i think it was not pinching the dough together tightly enough), but these looked bad. luckily, they still tasted amazing. perhaps you'll have better aesthetic luck than i.

1 tube crescent rolls
8 large marshmallows
melted butter
cinnamon sugar

preheat oven to 350 degrees. line baking sheet with parchment paper. dip marshmallow in butter, roll in cinnamon sugar, then wrap in crescent roll dough. pinch dough together tightly to form a ball. place on baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. the process looks like this:

*these are so sweet that they're really a dessert... or a late night snack with hot chocolate. :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

christmas vacation!

please excuse my weeklong absence from flamingos in raincoats. the end of the semester is always a stressful, overwhelming time. however, as of yesterday, i have no responsibilities as a student for a solid MONTH. spring semester starts on january 9th! i plan to spend the next month doing the following things:

  • read at least 2 books (one of which will be the hunger games)
  • re-watch the entire series of lost
  • mail christmas cards
  • prepare my teaching binder for next semester
  • try out new recipes

by the way, we set up the christmas tree at my apartment and i couldn't be more proud! it has ornaments on it that i bought in anticipation two years ago! it even has a few that my grandma leinbach made.

{the star tree topper came from ikea. only $2!}

{i love my new elephant ornament!}

we (brandon and myself) also put up stockings. mine is from world market and his is from christmas tree shops. i call it his "hipster stocking" because of the plaid. :)

{this terrible quality photo is why i want a new camera for christmas!}
{i'm not getting a new camera for christmas.}

i have so many christmas decorations, but i am not sure if i'll put them all out this year or not. i'm on the hunt for some cute, christmasy salt + pepper shakers. there were some cute reindeer ones at target, but i didn't snatch them up in time and now they're sold out. well... except for one. how do you end up with ONE shaker left for sale?

time for me to stop blogging for today. i'm starting my christmas vacation off by going to see the broadway production of mamma mia! this afternoon. can't wait!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Party Pinwheels

This delicious appetizer recipe was shared by a friend of mine who made them for a baby shower we both attended back in March. They were my favorite food item at the shower, even though I don't like olives! These are easy to make and are a crowd pleaser. :)

8-10 flour tortillas
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1 c pitted black olives, finely chopped
4 T pimentos, finely chopped
4 T green jalapenos, finely chopped
1 package ranch dip mix (I used Hidden Valley)

Mix cream cheese, olives, pimentos, jalapenos and ranch dip mix together in a large bowl. With a large spoon/spatula, divide mixture between tortillas, covering the entire surface. Roll very tightly, cover, and store in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (the longer the better for the flavors to settle... I recommend overnight). Remove from fridge and slice. Serve cold.

happy birthday, dad!

today my wonderful dad turns 59. every now and then, he reads my blog (i think?). so... happy birthday, dad!


the last photo is the most recent one i have of the two of us together and it was taken THREE years ago. and it's not even a "real" photo! i now have a goal for today: updated father/daughter photo!