Christmas.

Christmas this year was great! We spent it with my family and had a lot of fun. We got some great presents and are definitely grateful for our family's generosity! Here are some highlights: 

Dave's new biking jersey. And I think between the two of us, we acquired approximately 488 new pairs of socks.
 
I got some fun new kitchen toys (of course?).  Including an immersion blender and this beautiful dutch oven.  
As usual, the year ends with waaaay too much candy.  I don't know, who is complaining? Not us.  Dave loves tootsie pops. I did put a ton of candy in our study to save for July, which is when we should finish what is in the kitchen. Actually, we'll probably save it for trick-or-treaters.   
Here is the thing: Dave is really good at presents. He also has great taste (though other times in the year I have to drag an opinion out of him..) He made (sewed!) this little chapstick holder because everytime I change from jeans to pjs, I spend the whole night trying to find my chapstick.  (which you think would be in my pants pocket, which sometimes it is, but more often is not.)
Our media collection also increased. (we looove deleted scenes)
Dave also got a fancy remote control helicopter, which he loves and flies often.  I'm terrible at flying it.  

Next week I will post the projects I made for Christmas gifts.  Just you wait, they are awesome!!

on an unrelated note

I did not think it would be so hard to find a pair of flat, dark brown boots.  That fit and aren't ugly.  I mean, seriously, I'm not thaaat picky.  I am not even looking for a specific design, just those four parameters. (ok, and I don't want to pay a million dollars for them)

Doesn't seem that hard, does it?

But I have looked everywhere (ok, not everywhere, but seriously, who does that?) and right now am just giving up.  I think that is how it works, right? You stop looking for something specific and then it just comes?

And you know, I feel like screaming to the universe: "with all that has happened, can't I just find a freaking pair of brown boots??"

on time

Earlier this year, I wrote about how I couldn't wait for 2011 to end. 

And here we are, at the end.

And I feel like I have nothing to show for it.

I feel like that is not my fault, because I definitely thought I knew how this year was ending and how next year was beginning.  But that is gone now, and what is left looks like we are just repeating this year again. 

And sure, I have a year of career experience under my belt, a new hobby of biking and I am a better cook now.  Dave finished his classes and is almost done with grad school. We have done a lot of fun things, but I am ready to move on. And all I see are more months where everything is uncertain. As of December 31st, we have reached the end of our plans.  And we'll know what we are doing soon enough (one thing I do know is that we are four months from a washer/dryer. and I will just cling to that), but we are in the same place as we've been for a while, and the view from here is a little gray.  (name the reference??)

Even with all that has happened, this year has been good. We have been blessed and are looking forward to this new year. The end of a lot of things and the beginning of other things.  And boy, am I ready for other things.

I'm trying not to be too disappointed because things are different than I thought they'd be, but you know. It just happens that way sometimes.


here is to 2012!

have a safe & happy new year!

dawn of redeeming grace

we have never been more grateful for our Savior as we have been this season. Merry Christmas!

gingerbread houses

Our friends invited us over last night to make gingerbread houses (with graham crackers, the new gingerbread!) and it was very fun!  Dave made an awesome airplane.  Mine was pretty run-of-the-mill but it still brought some Christmas spirit! We also got to play with a cute baby, so that was a plus! 
 
 

lights

Two weeks ago, or, a million years ago, we went with some ward friends to see the lights at temple square.  We also ate at a fun diner and stopped at h&m (kind of lame!).  It was fun!  It was cold and crowded, but the temple was breathtaking as usual and the lights very festive.  And it was a full moon, which was kind of cool!

 

 

 

Last night we went for a "light drive" with some other friends.  We saw some beautiful (& huge!!) houses with some great lights.  We also tried some Starbucks hot chocolate and caramel apple cider and it was delicious (lacey, you guys should give it one more try :)). 

 

this house!  those pillars! bah!! 

distractions.

I can't believe it's been a week.  I feel like it's the longest and shortest of my life.  We have been trying to keep busy, and that includes, in true winter break fashion, staying up until 12 or 1 or 2 watching TV and then sleeping in until 9 or 10.  yikes.  I feel bad about that but...it just happens.  We are still pretty productive during the day. 

Here are some of the good things from this week:

Flowers. We have been the recipients of beautiful flowers. I really wish they could last forever. They are all so wonderfully arranged. I love that they have wintery greens in them. Their color, scent and the fact that they are flowers in December have really helped our home to feel a little more peace and beauty. All the flat surfaces we have (5) are topped with flowers. 


 

Work Christmas party. thai food, white elephant and ugly sweaters. It was fun and it was nice to be in the company of our friends! (missing: front of sweater = huge, puffy snowman)


Wedding dress shopping. my sister and sister-in-law are both getting married in the spring.  I went dress looking with my sisters-in-law on Saturday. (hopefully she doesn't mind this picture!) Kristy tried on a few dresses and I kind of wanted to try some on for the fun of it. But I didn't. Then we had dinner with Shanna, Evan, Calvin and Kristy and it was fun. Also, I have the cutest nephew. 


Christmas. We're plugging along trying to finish up shopping and sewing and other things for Christmas. I finished Dave's shopping quite early and thought I was totally on the ball. Oh well. We aren't really stressed about it and it's part of the fun, I guess. Here is our little Christmas tree (and festive flowers) with some presents under the tree.  


 Caramels. We made some apple cider caramels and it was quite the process. I made the first batch on Monday afternoon and it turned out harder than rocks. Oops. We tried again later that night (that was the night we stayed up until 2) and with our combined efforts, it worked. constant vigilance. 

thank you so much.  we have been so touched by all the comments, emails, texts, calls and service sent our way these past few days.  we have felt your prayers and are so grateful for your kindness, well wishes and hope.

every day it gets better.  less of the absolute sorrow we felt on wednesday/thursday and more feeling normal.  we still strive to fill our days with as much activity as we can, because distractions definitely help.

sometimes though, we still feel like we are drowning and our hearts will never be okay. and I'm sometimes scared that all I'll see when I close my eyes for the rest of my life is our little girl on the ultrasound screen. 

but we are holding on to the beautiful hope and truth in our life.  and when that is all we have, that is enough.


our baby girl.

Dave and I lost our baby girl yesterday.  It has been quite a 24 hours.  We are fine, physically, but it has been an emotionally exhausting time period.  Week actually, since things kind of started on Monday. Everything came back fine and everything was fine until it wasn't.  We are glad that we got to sneak one more ultrasound in there, since that is the only way we really knew her.  We spent a long night at the hospital and are glad to be back home.  We had great nurses and doctors who were so kind to us.  

Our hearts are broken because we won't get to know our little baby in this life, but find peace in knowing we'll meet her someday because we are a forever family. We are so grateful for that knowledge.  It helps, but even in this short time, it still hits us sometimes (or once an hour?) with such a force I am not sure how we will ever be ok

What happened was quite a rare thing to happen at 20 weeks and was kind of a big, sucky fluke.  Our baby was so perfect looking and it was so hard to say goodbye. But we have felt such love from our family and friends and are so grateful for the love you have shown us!

Quite the turnaround from a 20 week baby bump picture, I know.  I feel like this is the next thing in a string of tragedies that have affected people I love. (I'm calling it the Bowen 11 curse and I hope it stops with me!)


it's a...























 baby girl!  
and we're so excited! 
 

The voting was close (from the blog, at least).10:9 in favor of a boy...and I was in the boy camp!  To be honest, I did want a boy more than a girl. And if you think I'm a terrible person, read this. I really liked her thoughts on this.   

So, yes, "in my heart of hearts", I was hoping for a boy...but I wouldn't say I was disappointed to be having a girl.  Just surprised because I felt like I "knew" it was a boy.  Ah well, always next time! 

However, we are both very excited to be having a little girl!  We feel blessed to have a healthy (and modest/stubborn) baby girl on the way! 

(we're almost halfway there!)


halloween party

I forgot to post these around Halloween.  I thought they were cute so I'm posting them now. These are from our ward Halloween party (where Shanna and I both placed in the pumpkin pie contest; her pumpkin cheesecake won and it was soo good!)

Also, if anyone can identify the black thing that Dave's head is in?  Another character from stitch? 


Here is Calvin being a blue crayon.  Cute! 

English Trifle

Our ward Christmas party was an around-the-world dessert theme.  Our families hail from England and Denmark, mostly.  Dave did serve a Spanish-speaking mission, but has not incorporated much Spanish cooking into our lives.  And since I got the sign up and always wanted to make a trifle...

I started with this perfect pound cake.  I can't believe how nicely it floated out of the pan.  One thing is I had to cook it a bit longer than it said (dumb oven/elevation?) and the outside was perfect.  I didn't realize until the next day that the inside was still a bit underdone.  (the toothpick came out clean, but it looked wet). So I cut them into cubes and tried to dry them out by basically making pound cake croutons. (but not too crunchy)
 

Yum! Costco has fresh raspeberries for pretty cheap and Dave really wanted to stay home so he could eat it all.  It did go pretty fast at the party (and sad to say, it does not look nearly as nice when it gets served...but that did not deter anyone.) It was easy to make and fun!  The reason I was worried about wet pound cake was it was going to be covered in raspberry jam. I knew the bread would get wet, but I didn't want it wet and underdone. 

I didn't try any of the final product, but I did make a taste test of extra cake, raspberries and cream.  Still good :) Not as perfect as Martha's, but what is?  They must have made a lot more whipped cream than the recipe called for.

 



It was fun to try my hand at some English Trifle and hopefully I made some ancestors proud.  It was probably not super legit, as there was no custard nor alcohol, but what can you do?

p.s. I'm loving watching the voting results...last night it was tied.  I really want to know who voted for what (and why?)...so indulge me if you can!

needed: little bum


Look how cuuuuuuute!  So, we're going to do/try cloth diapers.  I am not morally against disposable diapers at all (hello, vacations!) but I do like the benefits of cloth.  And so we are going to try them.  We've had some friends do them with success and that definitely encourages me. The modern all-in-ones are basically just as easy as disposable, except you have to wash them.  And from what I hear, you do a lot of laundry with babies anyways.  So I'm not worried about that.  PLUS they are just stinking cute. 

And I would be lying if I said that using cloth diapers wasn't part of a bigger plan to make SURE our next apartment has a washer/dryer in house.  Haha, just kidding, but the timing works out great because heaven knows I'm NOT doing cloth diapers without a washer in the next room. 

have any of you tried cloth diapers?  can you even wait to see our baby with a little blue-diapered bum?



FOR THE RECORD: cookies from dough that has been refrigerated for 2 days was the clear winner.  I would never, ever turn down a chocolate chip cookie that was not refrigerated, etc., but we ate those yesterday and were like "wow.  these are freaking delicious." And since it wasn't a side-by-side test, it was based on how we remembered the other ones tasting, which were also really good. So just try it sometime. 

ALSO: I am putting a poll up since we'll be finding out the gender in the next month...so if you care to vote, vote away!

off to make more cookies.

So, I know, this isn't a food blog but I post a lot about food.  I just like to share my good findings.  Also, I eat a lot, so as this is a blog about our life, some food is necessary.  And I've never heard a complaint, really, so....who cares?  Anyways.  These are the events: 

I made these cookies after dinner. And of course, they were delicious.  And so easy to just whip up (it's a third-ed recipe).  I also only made a dozen.  We are going to do an unofficial taste test and see if refrigerating for 24 and 36 hours makes a difference.  Mostly, I knew that if I made them all, we may very well have ate them all last night. so...in the fridge the extra dough went. 
For dinner last night I made this artichoke pasta bake. And it was soooo good.  The flavors of the artichokes, feta, banana peppers and olives were great!
I also bought some pomegranates (and used this tutorial to cut/deseed).  Yum!  They are fun to eat and one pomegranate has lasted for quite a while.  I may just have to go back for more,










christmas craft



This year my big craft was this wreath.  I wanted to make one last year, but waited until after Christmas to stock up on ornaments.  They've been patiently sitting in the closet all year until I recently took them out and went to town.  I loved how (that) it turned out!  There are gold, silver and blue ornaments, shiny and matte.  I especially love the matte ones.  I also used three sizes.  I even had enough left over to decorate our tiny tree with them. 
I used this tutorial, which I liked because it was threading ornaments onto a hanger, not gluing them onto a foam wreath.  

thanksgiving




This year we spend Thanksgiving with my dad's family in northern utah.  It was so fun!  We crashed at my aunt and uncle's house and it is always fun to stay with them.  We really appreciated their hospitality.  I made a banana cream pie and some orange rolls.  Both were well received. I didn't take a picture of the orange rolls but they are super good.  I need to check with my mother-in-law to make sure they aren't a super secret family recipe and then I'll post the recipe.  

Dave loves them and my family, new to the tradition, LOVEs them.  :)  They had them at our Oregon reception and the last two Thanksgivings when I mention orange rolls they go "susan's orange rolls?!"

Our Thanksgiving dinner was so good.  It was smaller than it often is up there but still a lot of fun.  And so much good food.  Then we went through all the ads and planned our shopping trip.  It's something like a 17 year tradition to go black Friday shopping and this year, even with the stores opening super early, was no exception.  And it was great!  I think my feet got a little bruised from too much standing, but we got some fun stuff.  Nothing for Christmas, but a few new movies, some rad slippers (for me and I love them) and these cute baby onesies from Old Navy:

 



Aren't they just so cute?  Can't wait to use the blue striped one especially.  This Thanksgiving we were/are very grateful for all the blessings we have and the good year we've had.  We're especially thankful for the reason behind buying onesies! 

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving...I can't believe it's almost Christmas now!  

want everyone to think you are awesome?

Well, if you're are handy with a hand mixer, I have just the thing for you: herb butter.  I took it to a ward social where people brought bread, jam and butter.  The herb butter was a hit...and I feel bad taking any credit because it was super easy.  But you know, I am awesome with a mixer. 

I don't have any picture except if you wanted to see an empty ramekin.  It is great on rolls and I bet it would be good to make garlicy toast with in the broiler.  I think I will make some to just have on hand. 

PS- her recipe calls for fresh herbs and I didn't have any.  So I used a tsp where it called for a tbsp and 1/2 tsp where it called for a tsp.  I realize that is not the same math, but it worked.

Anyway, I would highly recommend it! 

rosemary olive oil bread.


 On Friday I made this rosemary bread and it was so good! We ate almost all of it in one sitting, dipped in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pepper.  I think I could eat this and focaccia every day. 



christmas music

I don't really love it.

And when I say that, I mean, I can't stand most the traditional songs.  Like I'd rather listen to a commercial on the radio than a song on that one station that started playing Christmas music November 1st. (like cozy? or something).  and I freaking hate radio commercials.

HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED.  During the Christmas season of my senior year of high school I worked at a car wash that played Christmas music from sometime in November until January.  I worked 3.5 hours/day during the week and most of a Saturday.  Which means I. HAVE. HEARD. IT. ALL.  ad nauseam.

I've heard EVERY CHRISTMAS SONG in EVERY GENRE imaginable.  Pick a song.  I've heard it a cappella, full orchestra, techno, gospel choir, pop, rock, hymny, small group, instrumental... EVERYTHING.  and I think that did it.  for days and days and days that is all I heard.

I still love Christmas hymns and non-traditional songs.  Like Relient K's "let it snow baby, let it reindeer" cd or rock/pop musicians renditions of hymns.

I don't know.  Do you totally hate me?  Or does anyone feel the same way?  Plus, I don't think Christmas music should start playing until like mid-December anyways.

here IS what I'm listening to these days:



babies!

Not as in plural babies in my possession, but of two of my best friends!  My dear washington DC friend, Emily and my freshman roomie Kristen (or kbob) are both expecting babies around the same time as me! Emily is two months ahead and Kristen is a couple weeks behind me.  It is fun to have some of my favorite people to share this with!

So I am hesitant to overwhelm this blog with baby things (until, of course, we have a cute baby to post pictures of) because this isn't a "mommy blog" (and I don't really like that term).  But this is a random assortment of things kind of blog anyways and if you don't like it you don't have to read!  So, if you'll indulge me...

One fun thing is each week (or during the week) is reading all about your growing baby (I like baby center and the mayo clinic book).  I am amazed all the time how smart babies are...and now how smart fetuses are!! I can't believe how fast they develop and the things they can do when they aren't even halfway done growing!!  Part of this week's summary really made me proud at how smart our baby is: "Although her eyelids are still fused shut, she can sense light. If you shine a flashlight at your tummy, for instance, she's likely to move away from the beam."


How cool is that?  What a smarty-pants.  Next week, hearing!  I just think human development is amazing.  Want to see a picture of our baby? 

awe, how cute.  

win-win-win

On Sunday, my parents had a Thanksgiving preview meal.  This was basically a Thanksgiving dinner and it was so delicious.  I love Thanksgiving food.  My dad requested a banana cream pie and that is what he got: 


It turned out way better than I was thinking it would and I was very pleased with the result!! And, so were the rest of the people who ate it.  I know a lot of people don't like bananas, but this pie only has bananas on the bottom (no banana pudding/flavoring).  My mom, who hates bananas, really liked the pie.  And Dave only had some because he was being a nice husband and said "actually, this is really good.".  So, it was an all-around win!!

I used the Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pie Crust and it was delicious!  (note: when you bake it, use pie weights/dry beans over foil!! I just poked it with a fork and the bottom puffed up and the sides shrunk (which is why you see no pie crust! it wasn't a big deal, but if you're really into the over all presentation))

I searched through a lot of internets for the filling.  I wanted to make it from scratch but a lot of the blogs I read didn't have a recipe for a banana cream pie and some recipes were way too involved.  I finally found this one from Crisco.  I'm glad I used this one. It makes a delicious custardy filling (I think that is how you would classify it).  (note: it calls for butter flavored shortening; I just had regular and I did have butter extract. but I think it would be ok without) 

Then I whipped some cream for the top.  YUM!

What are your thoughts on banana cream pie?  I think I will be making this again for the real Thanksgiving. 

on cooking.

The last few months I haven't made that many things...planning menus made me feel sick (no idea why), so when I wanted to make something, I had nothing planned and no supplies.  I'm not sure what we ate the last three months, but I am glad to be past that (mostly).  I actually planned out all our meals for the week and I am really excited.  And we've already had some great meals. 

First up was potato broccoli soup with bacon.  Yum!!  This was really good, easy and healthy (the bacon is just a garnish).  I even made my own chicken broth!  (it's super easy...just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and let it boil for an hour.  AND you get to eat costco chicken.  uh...yum!)

Next up was banana bread muffins.  You may remember how I gave up making produce bread. Well, my lovely friend Jody gave me her mom's awesome recipe and though I didn't try making bread, it made perfect muffins.  And it was soo easy: 

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease an 8x4 pan (it makes 12 muffins).  In a large bowl mix 11/2 + 1 TBSP flour, 3/4 tsp soda, 1 tsp baking power, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/3 c. margarine (I used butter), 2/3 c. sugar, 2 eggs and 3 ripe bananas.  Mix 2 minutes.  (I love that you can throw everything together!) Bake 50 minutes (muffins baked for 30-35).

Thank you Jody and her mom...I have hope again for bread.  


Yesterday I made these lasagna rollups.  SO GOOD. It's basically like manicotti, but you just roll it in soft no-boil noodles.  And Mel's "best" recipes are really the best.  I also liked that it was just a cheesy filling.  I have always loved cheese, but man, these days, I LOVE CHEESE.  


There are some more new recipes up for this week that I'll keep you posted on.  I really enjoy making things from scratch and each month I try to remember to try a few new things.  Not in a super nerdy way (I don't like make goal sheets or anything :)). This month, I wanted to try making chicken broth and it was really easy!  And I try to make my new skills a habit.  I like the idea of eating whole, fresh, homemade foods.  Eating healthy is doable and isn't as expensive as you might think! Planning meals is what really helped, but we also don't eat a lot of meat and rarely buy snack food.  Cooking from scratch is almost always cheaper (though, of course, time is money and you have to factor that in too).  And of course I don't make everything from scratch.  

Another thing that I've gotten better at not shying away from long recipe lists.  I've learned that when a recipe list is long, that usually means most of it is from scratch (as opposed to a few items including canned soup or whatever (not that that is bad, I just prefer not to use it/save money)).  And, most of the ingredients are spices or things like oil, garlic and onions.  If you can break it up, it's totally doable.  So I realize I may say some recipes I try are easy when they have a 20 ingredient list.  But, if you can group them together or even just prep the ingredients ahead of time, it is really easy. 

Anyway, that's a little peak into my cooking philosophy (not that I have one, really) and why I cook what and how I do.  If you're wanting some good recipe blogs, check out the ones on my sidebar.  I really like our best bites, mel's kitchen cafe and (of course) the pioneer woman because most of their recipes are from scratch (or close to it). and delicious. 

p.s. we're totally eating papa john's tonight (found a good coupon + I've been craving* it for weeks)...Moderation! 

*my cravings are more like I see a commercial for something and think I NEED THIS RIGHT NOW.  aka, it just looks dang good.  other items include ARBY's roast beef and cheddar.  so probably not even a real pregnancy craving...I'm just more susceptible to marketing? 

pumpkins

I guess I lied when I said we did nothing seasonal for Halloween.  We did carve pumpkins! Dave did the rebellion symbol from star wars (...) and I had fun using his drill to make mine.  We also lit them with a flashlight because only one of our tea lights would stay lit, but its light was pathetic.  


halloween dinner

We didn't do much for Halloween this year (no costumes, parties or seasonal activities), but I did decide it would be fun to do a little something for dinner.  I am excited to do things like this (plus more) in the future for kids, but I figure I could make a few things with some dramatic flair.  

up first: slime.  hehe.  (just our fav crystal light) idea here, via pinterest. 

then we had bones & blood.  haha, that sounds really gross.  in fact, they were the best breadsticks ever.  idea here 


and the grand finale was tomato soup (more blood??) from scratch!  I've been wanting to make some for a while and finally got serious about finding a recipe.  I used home-grown tomatoes and basil.  5 minutes before I was going to use another recipe, I stumbled upon this recipe and will be exploring the archives on her site soon.  yum.  Anyways, super easy and it turned out great.  


anyway, we hope you had a great halloween! we watched some netflix and ran out of candy around 8:00.  For every kid that came, we would eat a piece.  Luckily, we only had a few kids come around after, but I figure they will survive!