Category Archives: Family

Good Food, New Furniture and a Pitiful Puppy

We had an amazing Christmas…it started last Sunday at my mom’s house. We went there around noon, played games, ate an amazing meal and opened some wonderful presents. We even got an impromptu concert from our little friend Kendal!

ImageMonday we drove to Kingsport to do Christmas with Bub’s extended family and his parents. Tuesday we had a big breakfast and then headed back to Knoxville. We opened presents together at our house then packed up to head to my aunt and uncle’s for my extended family Christmas.

ImageGreat photo, huh?

Here’s another one, even though I know my mom hates it…

20121230-223450.jpgWe went back to work on Wednesday. Thursday I went to Clinton for a girls night with my two besties and baby Adah. Friday we took our pitiful puppy to the clinic for surgery. She was terrified and it was awful dropping her off, but we were glad to have gotten her in so soon. When we called UT, they weren’t going to be able to get her in until January 28th and we just couldn’t stand to have her limping around any longer. After her xrays two weeks ago, we found out that she’d torn her CCL (dog equivalent of the ACL) and we are pretty sure she did that back in November.

We had to leave her at the clinic over night and they said she hated it. We picked her up Saturday morning and brought her home. I had to go to work, but Tanner was home with her all day.

Today was as normal a day as we’ve had for a while except that we spent most of the morning waiting for our dog to pee or poop. I was so distraught at one point, I wanted to cry. I can’t blame her for not wanting to go because she’s supposed to wear the cone of shame and be walked on a leash and in a sling (a belt that goes around her waist so we can lift her up a little bit while she walks around so she won’t put any weight on her back leg). So any time she goes out, we’re right with her. Usually we just put her out and let her do her business on her own time, but now we have to stand right over her and hold her leg off the ground a bit. Also, she has to go in the front yard…I’d get stage fright too! I felt so sorry for her, we took off the cone and let her go out that way (still with the sling). She FINALLY went (TWICE today). Unfortunately, the cone will have to go back on tonight and tomorrow while we’re at work so she won’t lick her wounds. I wish there was a better way! It seems so awful!

Once we were able to stop worrying about the bathroom habits of our dog, we set about a pretty normal day. I decided it was time to put together the liquor cabinet Bub got from his parents and get it situated. It was a much larger project than I expected, but I got it finished and Bub was excited to start filling it up. I was excited about how much wine it holds (you can’t see it well in the picture below, but it’s quite a bit), that the wood of it matches the legs of my new chairs, AND that it cleared up some storage space in a couple cabinets and the pantry. (You can see a corner of my chair in the side of the photo.)

After that was finished, I cooked dinner. I made Double Crunch Pan-Fried Honey Garlic Chicken, steamed broccoli with olive oil and kosher salt, and brown rice (in the rice cooker) with shallots. It made enough for two dinners and three lunches (all from just two trimmed chicken breasts–it’s amazing what you can do when you pound them flat)!

I deviated from the recipe a bit…I didn’t use as much ginger (probably only one and a half tablespoons), cayenne pepper (one tablespoon), and black pepper (two tablespoons). For the egg wash, I only used two eggs because I mixed in three tablespoons of plain non-fat yogurt and about three tablespoons of water. For the sauce, I used minced garlic (three teaspoons) and only about a half cup of honey. Also, I fried in vegetable oil (because it’s what we had).

It turned out really well (even though the photograph looks like steak to me). A little sweet for Bub because of the sauce. For his leftovers, he’ll probably use BBQ sauce.

Now that dinner is over, Bub is watching football, Toby is sleeping and I am blogging (and soon to be practicing Spanish). Bub got me Rosetta Stone for Christmas and I’m working my way through it. So far, I have learned…

El perro y el gato duermando. Mi y Bub, nosotros somos esposas. My eposo no manejando. Cocino en la cocina.
(The dog and cat are sleeping. Me and Bub, we are spouses. My spouse isn’t driving. I cook in the kitchen.)

I better get back to practice because I’m not sure what I’ve learned up to now will get us very far. 🙂 I hope you all had a Feliz Navidad! Adios!


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First Attempts and A Tribute to A Friend

Today is a big day…

I’m attempting a feat never attempted by myself or any other child of my mother’s…

I’m making Nana’s Chex Mix. It’s a holiday tradition of my family and it is tasty.Tasty.TASTY! To put it in perspective, once in college, I ate a whole tin of the stuff on the ride back to the dorm from Clinton during finals. Some of you have tasted the glory that is this secret recipe Chex Mix…some of you have not…but today, after a particularly hard week for myself and those dear to me, I decided to give it a go.

Death is hard for everyone, but it is particularly hard when it takes you by complete surprise. This week, one of my most valued mentors and trusted friends took her own life. The celebration of her life yesterday and the number of people in attendance was evidence that she didn’t just touch my life, but many, many lives.

The beautiful Lorna Norwood was truly a person of genius. I don’t think she ever did really recognize it in herself, and didn’t really like to have it pointed out to her, but she was. She was tactful, courteous, thoughtful and caring in every respect of those words. I could not have been luckier to have started my career sharing an office with her. It is, truthfully, because of her, that I’m on the path I am. By just being near her, I learned so much: the importance of doing it right, not fast; how to tactfully tell a young intern her outfit was (while adorable) not appropriate for work; that I shouldn’t rush to marry someone young, but take time to get to know myself and the person I wanted to be before I became a part of someone else; to always follow my gut and do what I feel is right; to develop a network of people I can trust and nurture those relationships. Her lessons to me spanned all aspects of life and she supported me in every career and personal move I’ve ever made. I credit her, and the people I know because of her, for what I’ve done thus far.

She once told me (after another candidate got chosen for a job over me) that “It’s ok. You would’ve been great at that, but this must mean something else is going to happen for you. Something better is going to come along.” She was so right. While I was disappointed at the time, something better did come along and it was her words that gave me the patience to see what it was going to be.

Lorna attended my college graduation, my Master’s graduation and my wedding. At each, she made sure to get a photo of us. At my wedding, she stood outside in the rain battling for precious space under the small awning to stay dry so she could get a picture with me before I got entrenched in the masses of friends and family. She wanted to make sure I knew she was there and how happy she was for me.

20121209-102724.jpg She was the first one to post a photo of me at the wedding and it couldn’t have been a better one. I’ve always told her that I loved the photo because I thought we looked like sisters.

Tidying up my desk this last week, I stumbled across a card she sent me after she started her new job at UT. It said, “Always do what you believe is right and don’t let the habits of others influence you. If it ever gets too tough, or you don’t know what to do, call me. I will always be here for you.” Those words truly epitomize the essence of her. Sage, she sure was.

I was so shocked at the news of all of this when I heard it, and the shock still hasn’t subsided. It just doesn’t seem real that someone with such a broad reach, so respected by her peers, and with so many friends and family to support her would choose to leave the world this way. I wish she had been able to find the strength in herself we all know she had. I am hurt and confused by her decision, but I truly hope she has found some peace and was watching us all yesterday as we remembered all the good times. To read more about Lorna, read her obituaries here and here.

So today, to warm my heart and our home after this long, hard week…I’m making Nana’s Chex Mix.


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Cuban Comfort Food

Hello friends!

Anyone out there? Time to dust off the old blog and make a post! I know, I know…how about a little consistency?!?


Since I last checked in, I got a promotion at work. My supervisor took a job with her old company and I told the higher-ups I was interested in stepping up…and it worked out. Effective Monday I am the Area Director of Marketing and Business Development for the two Knoxville Simon malls. I excited, but nervous to start it going into the holiday season. 🙂

Anyway, as the title is effective tomorrow, I decided today would need to be a comfort food day. But I stepped out of the box a bit and decided to make some of the hubby’s family comfort food. My parents grew up here, in the US, so my comfort food is meatloaf, mashed potatoes, burgers, spaghetti, etc. Well Tanner’s mom grew up in Cuba, so her parents/hubby’s grandparents (los abuelos) made Cuban dishes: arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), croquettes (recipe in a previous blog) and empanadas.

So today we decided to do empanadas. I did both beef and chicken…and have a ton of stuffing left over. I looked for pre-made dough (apparently Goya makes it), but couldn’t find it…so I made my own.

Don’t get me wrong…this is a time consuming process (but well worth it). We had to leave a baby birthday party today before the cake (my waist was happy about it, but my tummy wasn’t) so I would have time to do them and we wouldn’t be eating at midnight. Fortunately, we were there long enough to see the birthday girl open the super-loud (read: awesome) guitar toy we got her and to love on my bestie’s baby girl for a bit (and let’s not forget the amazing lunch).

After I made the “go inside stuff” the hubs and I stuffed these empanadas together, which was fun. He did a good job, though I did go behind him and re-seal his with a fork more forcefully than he did. 🙂 I envision us doing this with our kids…I had a picture in my mind that he did it with los abuelos too, but he says he never did and he thinks the ones he had were probably store-bought…Goya. Regardless…now I envision us doing the day long project with our kids someday!

Here are the recipes I used:
Empanada dough
Beef Empanada
Chicken Empanadas

I left the pimentos/red peppers out of the chicken ones…but other than that, besides using my own dough, I did everything else the same.

I cooked these and then added a salad…and wa-lah…

20121021-185312.jpg Looks good, huh? Hubby said they used to eat them with black beans and rice, but I didn’t want that many carbs…but see why the beans are helpful…they do get a little dry with the thick dough.

This week we are also having Louisiana catfish with corn and okra:

20121021-185729.jpg Then we are having an Indian dish…Butter Chicken with basmati rice. I first tried this in a frozen meal from Trader Joe’s, and loved it.

20121021-190055.jpg I recently found a pre-made sauce (similar to an Alfredo or canned spaghetti sauce) I can use…just cook the chicken then simmer it in this sauce for a bit. We can make the rice in the rice cooker (we are adding shallots) and be good to go. Naan (flat bread) from Trader Joe’s will top it off.

So while we aren’t having meatloaf…we are eating other comfort foods this week to help kick start my first week in a new role. It will be easy to head to work tomorrow because I am full and happy! I am such a lucky, lucky girl!

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For the Men in My Life

Now, I know it’s been a long time since I posted, and that’s mainly because Bub and I have been too busy doing for me to be posting. I’ve barely had a free second in the last month…either that or our AC has been out and I haven’t felt like talking about it because it got me more heated to discuss it. But that’s all fixed now and something else has moved me to blog this week. If you’re not in for something a bit heavy, you might want to stop reading now…in my head I sort of know where this post is going, but there’s no telling once I start how it will morph.

A couple things compiled got this post going in my head and made me a bit restless, so here it is.

My dad’s birthday was Tuesday. I didn’t think about it ON Tuesday, but it hit me on Wednesday that the day before was his birthday and that it hadn’t hit me then. Then it hit me just how long it’s been…so long, in fact, that I don’t actually know how long it’s been. I measure the turmoil in that relationship by big events so I know…well, that event happened around this day that year and then a few more things happened after that, or before, I can’t remember and that lead to this which I think was the last time we talked….or something of the like.

Most of you know that we’re estranged and don’t speak, and I’m, mostly, ok with that. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my life and my sense of self-worth are better when I’m not dealing with all the issues that surround that situation. By “not dealing with,” I mean putting it out of my mind as best I can and trying to live my life being thankful for what I do have (like an incredible mother and sister and family). So there’s that.

Then also this month, I’m helping with sorority recruitment and that brings back a whole swell of memories of what starting college was like and how I experienced recruitment each year. I’m experiencing that on a whole new level now as I train to be an actual advisor next year, but I’m also brought back, especially these couple days as my girls prepare for Preference, to the day I found out one of my dearest college friends had passed away. I’ve been wearing my memory bracelet this week as a reminder to “Live Like Nate” because he always told me to live above my problems to be thankful I had people to help me through them and that I was a great person in spite of, or despite, or because of, what I’d been through. So there’s that, too.

And I’m just completely taken aback sometimes at how lucky I am to be married to the man I am. He’s supportive and honest and loving and thoughtful and funny and driven and handsome as all get out. So there’s that, too.

Then there’s our friends and how just truly lucky we are to be so loved. I felt it at our wedding and during all the events leading up to it, but I sort of expected it to pass–all the love and support people showed exuberantly for the hubs and me–but it hasn’t. We are still being loved and lifted up on a daily basis.

We had lunch with our dear friends Matt and Lita the other day (and Beeler too) and I was so thrilled they brought Eli with them. The funny thing here is that Eli was born right around the time the hubs and I were seriously on the same plane about taking our relationship from platonic to romantic. Everyone knows I was a bit behind on the idea, but when I got there was about the time Eli came into this world. So when I look at him I see a physical representation of our relationship, like if our relationship was a person it would Eli’s age (and maybe his personalty, too).

I remember the first time I held Eli (Leet, I hope you’re reading this) because he was so little and Bubba was so freaked out by it, but I just looked into those pretty baby eyes and knew that me and this kid I only knew five minutes who belonged to two of my would be dearest friends would have a special bond forever. So anyway, we were sitting at lunch with them and Eli and he was sitting across from me and talking and eating and every time I got up he ran after me and then he crawled into my lap and we laughed and played right there at the restaurant table and in that moment I just loved him so much. And was so proud of my two friends for being such great parents who support their growing son in every way and surround him with people who love him and can teach him things and want him to grow.

Now…here’s where it gets a bit heavy (or heavier)…

Having lived more of my life now without a father than with one, it isn’t lost on my how important strong male figures in my life have been. I’ve been very lucky to have men come into my life who support me and love me and lift me up in all the ways a father should. Of course my Pop was the first, and growing up Judge Don and Paul S. and Paul G. and Jim and Ray and Sal and Keith and my uncles (blood and not) and cousins (blood and not) and many other men (named and not named) like Jerry and Dwight and now Eddie are all there to do those dad-ly things with and for me.

So, I guess right now, since one of these men who means so much to me is going through a rough time , I just wanted to say thanks to these guys. Thanks for everything. These men love me and their own children and grandchildren unconditionally. They always show up. Always. I call them for advice, personal, mechanical, medical, automotive, professional, etc. And even though I’m not technically theirs, they respond as if I am and I feel like I am. And it feels so good to be a loved child of so many fathers.

So, this post wasn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feeling or leave anyone out, I just wanted to put these good words out there in the world so that the men I love would know it because sometimes I get too busy to say it (or blog about it) and I just want to say thanks, so much.

I apologize if this wasn’t what you were looking for when you clicked on this post, but sometimes you just need to be able to say something nice about the people you love.


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A Foray into Father’s Day

I should also mention that we went to visit the in-laws on Saturday and Sunday for Father’s Day. Most of you who really know me know that I haven’t celebrated this day for quite some years…one of the last ones I celebrated being one of the last times I spoke to my dad. Before that, they were touch and go anyway.

So…it’s a new thing for me to celebrate this day (once treating it more like a scorned lover on Valentine’s Day…”Yes, yes, I get it. You have an amazing dad!”). Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of great men in my life and I celebrate them everyday…but Father’s Day was a different thing.

My father-in-law (and my mother-in-law too) is great. He is such a good guy who had always welcomed me into the family. The in-laws just got back from Aruba so FD was a great opportunity to go visit with them.

We had a really great couple of days playing outside with the dogs and watching golf. For dinner MIL (mother-in-law) made a roast in the crock pot, some delicious green beans (with fat back…yum), corn on the cob and crescent rolls! I helped a bit by making some gravy to go with the meal with the herbs we brought them from our little garden. (Gravy was made with canola oil/butter, drippings from the crockpot, sage, flour and water and mixed up until delicious…with a little black pepper added in at the end.)

After dinner we watched some more golf then the hubs and I went out for some milkshakes.

As per usual, this morning, we had the standard in-law Sunday morning breakfast of homemade buttermilk biscuits (the very ones I had to learn to make before my husband would make me his wife), country ham, fried eggs, and gravy…the hubs dies for this meal and it is…so….good.

After breakfast we hung out a bit more and then hit the road to come home.

It’s such a pretty drive to and from Bub’s hometown and just 100 miles doorstep to doorstp so it was a great couple days.

Like I said, I’m new at this whole Father’s Day thing, but FIL (father-in-law) makes it pretty durn worthwhile! Love you FIL.

Ps. I must say a “Happy Day” to my mom who has been my mom and dad forever. She is the absolute best and I could pee my pants I’m so excited to see her tomorrow after too many days (for me) abroad…especially when FaceTime connections and WiFi are spotty!

Goodnight! Pps…Holy Cow! Two posts in one day!

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So Fresh and So Clean (Clean)

It’s all the rage right now…everything is fresh and clean, organic and all that. Well we’re getting on board.

Last weekend, we started with herbs. We had been talking about it for a bit, but finally bit the bullet. We bought a planter, some soil, some herbs and got to work. Bub hung the planter for me and I filled it. We got four kinds of herbs: Italian parsley, sweet basil, cilantro, sage and a tiny banana pepper plant. They are growing so great…so I kind of have the bug. My friend Kelly is growing an amazing garden in her back yard with boucou veggies and I’m so envious.

Here is a photo of the herb planter:


We thought this would be a good way to venture into gardening. We went this way with these herbs because we buy fresh herbs sometimes for meals and have to buy a big bushel of which only a pinch or two gets used while the rest goes to waste. So we planted our own.

Tonight we put our herbs to use (we did do a pizza last week right after we planted them where I used the basil in my sauce) for the first time. On the menu was garlic studded grouper with sage butter, sautéed carrots with sage and garlicky roasted potatoes with herbs.


Everything in the meal was fresh! Yukon gold potatoes, baby carrots (even though they came from a bag), even Grouper from The Shrimp Dock (that Bub picked up on the way home from work). The only non-fresh ingredients were salt and pepper, Kroger stick butter and minced garlic (I copped out of that because the minced is just so easy). Everything from the outer rim of the grocery store. It’s a cool feeling.

So my excitement over the herbs and they envy of Kelly’s garden I convinced Bub to let me do a tomato plant and two cucumber plants. I picked those up today. The tomato is a “Big Boy” but it was already planted and growing and blooming with the tomato cage attached to the planter so I just plopped the cucumber plants in on either side. Then, because I really wanted to grow carrots too, I went in search of them and stumbled upon this:


Most of you know plants are due a certain death when in my world…so I got this little kit (made for kids) that you register online and then you watch these adorable little vegetable themed videos that tell you EXACTLY what to do. It even emails you when it’s time to do the next thing. It’s pretty cute. So I planted my carrot, Roma tomato, Romain lettuce and cucumber seeds and will cultivate them inside then move them outside when I get the email from Yuke the Cuke telling me to. 🙂 While I was planting my salad seeds, Bub was making his own granola.

Here is how it turned out…it’s his own recipe and everything. He did some research and combined a few things and made his own recipe. I didn’t help him at all. It turned out delicious and smelled awesome.


It was a fun night planting and cooking and enjoying things that we did together. I’m super excited to see the other vegetables grow. I wish we had a flatter area for gardening because if it works, I’d like to do stuff for the fall (sweet potatoes, potatoes, and more…). I think I could build a planter pretty easily, it’s just a matter of finding where it would have to go. It’s definitely on my fall project list. It’s certainly a learning experience and its fun to do the research to figure out what to do when. While I am super pumped about our new venture into being green and resourceful, (if I’m being totally honest) I can’t help but be a little sad that the person I know who knows the most about creating gardens from the ground up (no pun intended) and what to plant when for each season isn’t around anymore. My dad is great with gardens and grows a ton of stuff each season, but it is what it is…he’s not around and that’s the way it’s gotta be. I’m lucky Bub is my person because we will figure it out together (with the help of the Growums videos and Lowes garden experts). 🙂

Also, today is our 3 year dateiversary so the hubs brought home a beautiful bouquet for me. I put it into the vase that the bouquet he gave me the night we got engaged to celebrate. 🙂


Beside it is the Growums Salad Garden grow kit and the indoor parsley. (That’s the only place Winnie won’t get to so its where all the kitty-unfriendly things go…near the wine. Tee hee hee.)
Thanks for reading! Happy summer everyone!

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Sunday Dinner

Tonight was supposed to be my night to cook for Framily Dinner, but due to my unplanned travel tomorrow, I decided against it. I still cooked for us though so I could be certain I’d have at least one good, non-mall fast food meal. We had Honey Balsamic Tuna Steaks with Green Leaf Lettuce Salad and Arborio Rice. Salad was topped with carrot curls, Parmesan cheese and mushrooms (and Bub’s had black olives). For dressing I made a homemade Dijon honey mustard.


To make the glaze for the fish I mixed 1.5 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1.5 tablespoons of honey, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, .25 tsp each of pepper and garlic salt. I mixed it in a pie pan and let the fish sit a bit and occasionally brushed the glaze over it. Bub grilled them, basting throughout. I made double sauce (repeat recipe above) so we would have extra glaze for the fish and rice. As you can see…and as I said…we used tuna steaks, but we’ve used salmon before too. I think any hearty fish would do great or even a real steak, but I’d stay away from white fish because the sauce would probably be overpowering.

The rice was Arborio, made in our rice maker…with part chicken broth (1.25 cups), beef broth (1.25 cups) and water (.5 cups) — because we didn’t have enough of anything — a handful of minced onions (dried) and two tablespoons of butter. Bub put it together with the recipe from the container.

We ate on the back porch as Toby ran herself ragged. When the bugs started biting, we came inside.

Even though I cooked three meals today, dinner tonight was pretty easy with Bub manning the grill. I’m such a lucky lady!

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