I thought I would take a break from typing away about wedding stuff. You know, I don’t want to bore you to death. So here are some pictures of what has been going on lately, as well as some recent cooking adventures I’ve embarked on.
Here are a bunch of us at Justin’s and my Halloween party 🙂 That naughty nurse there is my future sister-in-law, who insisted on beating on me all night 😉 haha. But seriously, you get some rum in her and she’s abusive! jk, sort of. The hippy is Brittany, another future bride who’s tying the knot in May. She’s one of the people I’m able to obsess with, although we’re constantly battling it out for who gets to talk about who’s wedding now. We like to drive our men crazy….and it doesn’t help that they live right around the corner from each other. 😉 There Brittany and I again, and that devilishly good looking man in the middle there is Justin, of course. It was actually that day that Justin (Justin!) suggested it might be a good idea to move the wedding up…then he proceeded to go immerse himself in Brian’s special “spiced” cider and we weren’t able to talk about it until later the next day…damn him. haha. But all’s good now and I’m happily running around like a chicken with its head cut off making arrangements…while he sits back and watches in amusement. sigh. 🙂 I think I’m being pretty good though, I can avoid talking about weddings if I wa- oh, wait. Maybe I can’t. Ohhhh well. I’m allowed. It’s all around me and starting to creep up rather quickly! Like today for example, I bought the first of the bridesmaid gifts. I’m still on the fence about sharing, as they can read it and I’d like to surprise them…Maybe I will anyway and keep some secrets 😉 haha. I just love all this planning! I should have gone to school for party planning or something…except in this economy it’s probably not the most secure job to have.

Ok, Ok. I’ll stop. On to cooking!

Last night I cooked my ass off. Seriously! I got off work at 4 and was just pulling out the dinner I made at around 6:30 when Justin got home…and then I went back and made some more things to stockpile our fridge/freezer with! I went all out last night for dinner. It’s not often we can sit down to a real home made dinner together anymore, literally. We’re always running around on the weekends so we usually go out for wings or something (which I really don’t mind, haha) and we work opposite shifts at work, so that’s out of the question. So when I get to cooking, I really cook! These are crab meat stuffed mushrooms. I mix butter, onion, a little milk, chopped stems from the mushrooms, Italian seasoning, tomatoes, breadcrumbs, shredded mozzarella cheese, and, of course, crab meat. I mix it all in a saucepan on the stove and spray a baking sheet with pam and then spray the mushrooms with pam. Butter tastes a little better, but I don’t like to add the extra calories. Justin loves mushrooms, and although I didn’t like them much before, I’ve really acquired a taste for them, especially stuffed or fried…I don’t really like them raw, haha. But anywho, this is a great as really easy recipe. You just snap out the stems so it leaves a little hole in the middle. Heat up all the ingredients in a saucepan then scoop a little into each of the mushroom shells. Heat them in the oven on 400 for about 15 minutes until the tops are nice and crispy =) They are delicious and now I’m starving. Damn. The next picture here was my first attempt at stuffed chicken breast, and it was amazing. Not that I’m full of myself or anything 😉 But yeah, first I marinated the chicken in zesty Italian dressing mixed with fire roasted tomato dressing and then I stuffed them with mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, and chicken stuffing. After that I topped the chicken with grated parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning and a tomato to garnish. I should have added a little green in there somewhere for looks, as everything is a reddish color, but it tasted great so whatever. haha. The potatoes are twice baked. I baked the potatoes for about an hour to get them soft enough to scoop out, then I cut each of them in half and scooped out the middle of each to make a shell. I mixed the potato I scooped out with mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan cheese with bacon. I think Justin decided he’s marrying the right woman when he saw all this on the table when he got home last night 😉 I was very proud! One of the things I’m most proud of, though, is that I can up with it all myself. No recipe! The final thing I made that night after dinner is my broccoli soup. This stuff is amazing. Seriously, I could live off of it if you let me. I got the basic recipe here, but I embellish a lot. Take that recipe and I also double the onion, because I love them, and double the broccoli. I also add ham because Justin would eat only ham for the rest of his life if he could, and I also added tiny chopped mushrooms last night because I had them on hand and red potatoes. The original recipe I made the first time, and it was good, but I wanted something a little more meal-worthy for something real quick. The potatoes really give it the meal quality if that’s what you’re looking for. If you want a soup that’s great as a starter, leave out the potatoes and this is definitely your soup. I really think it’s better than any other broccoli soup I’ve ever had, and it’s very versatile. I can’t say I’m a big fan of Velveeta, but this soup really makes it delicious…and it’s less fat than regular cheese! yay! haha. I made a huge batch of this stuff and froze about half of it. I’ll seriously eat it for dinner every night this week at work. Justin may or may not dip into it, but when I’m not around to tell him what he’s eating that night he has burgers. what a man 😉 That’s all for now, I think I’m going to take a trip down memory lane with you and share Justin and Ariel through the years…aren’t you excited?

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Fall in Pennsylvania is really a stunning sight. As much as I hate to see summer go, seeing the brilliant colors of autumn almost makes it ok. This is very much the season of change. Justin’s work schedule is changing drastically, he decided to go to daylight shift, working 9-5:30 while I’ll be 5-11. It’s going to be so weird to not see him throughout the week until Friday except when I’m going to bed or he’s getting up. Although it could be much worse if we weren’t living together. That would be awful.

Halloween is almost here, I’m excited for our annual party =) I’m hoping that by the time we’re ready for another Halloween party, we’ll have a house. Our place right now is big enough though, and we have a nice big yard that people can spill out to. It works out beautifully.

This past weekend we spent some real quality time in Justin’s parents garage. My car needed some loving and he is always so amazing. I needed to have it inspected by today, so he fixed what needed done and it passed today 😀 I’m very happy about that. We didn’t get to go to the beer brewing class, but we’ll make it some other time when I’m not at risk with getting a huge fine. haha.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately about what I want out of life. I have my love story, that’s for sure 🙂 But what I’ve always wanted to do is write. I mean, publish-a-novel write. I PVR’d The Starter Wife and am starting to get really into that show. It’s basically about this woman who had the perfect life, and then she got divorced. Now she’s realizing she’s absolutely terrified of writing and putting herself out there in fear of rejection…but she’s completely passionate about writing. That’s how I feel. I’ve been writing little stories since I was old enough to hold a crayon. I put together my first masterpiece at age 6, complete with illustrations (it was about three princesses, in case you were dying to know) and stapled binding. I’ve taken the classes, I keep a journal religiously, I’ve written short stories that aren’t horribly awful…but does that make me a writer? To me, anyone can write. You can write “the cat jumped over the dog”. Look, I just wrote it, am I writer? I don’t think so. To me a writer is someone who can take a sentence like that and turn it and spin it around into something that people want to read. A good writer will spin it into something people can’t put down. I want to be a good writer.

It’s almost October! You know what that means! HALLOWEEEEEEEEEN!

Yeah, I’m such a kid. I don’t care. I love Halloween. It could possibly be my favorite holiday. So I thought I’d share with you a little peek into the past:
This is me, age 19, my Sophomore year in college. I was still a little green to the world of adulthood, and it was also when my parents were still paying my rent (oh those were the days…now Justin pays for it 😉 ) haha. but seriously, I still worked in a restaurant and made just an itsy-bitsy bit more than the minimum wage and was generally the stereotypical college student we all know and love. There’s a lot of ups and downs and differences between that girl in the picture there and the one who is writing this entry. I think I like the girl who’s writing a little better. Not too too much better, the other girl might get jealous, but just a little bit. That was my roommate at the time, Natalie. We met when I was a freshman and hit it off pretty well. unfortunetly, like most of the people I met in the early stages of college, we don’t see each other or get together as much as I like. That’s what happens when life happens. That was a pretty great night, and was the 5th night in a row that the group of us went out. That’s the thing about a college town, you can always find something to do, wether or not you’re 21. This is probably one of my favorite costumes. In case you couldn’t tell, I was a cop, a pretty cute one I might add 😉 I also had black hair. It was my thing then. No, I wasn’t goth, just experimenting a lot with my hair. I still am, maybe I’ll do a hair time line. You would be pretty flippin’ amazed I still have any hair left at this point, what with thre dying, bleaching, and repeating. Anyway. That is actually the last night I went out partying as a college girl to a frat house. Yes, I did the frat house thing. It was fun for maybe a year, it was already getting old for me as this picture was taken, but I was forcing myself to be a normal college kid. Didn’t work so well. So I gave up the cheap beer and shady people after this night. And shifted my attention to Justin. muahaah. No really, this is about when Justin and I started to get real close (must have been the cop outfit) and I just spent most of my free time with him. I have to say, time with him is time spent better than drinking cheap beer, this man introduced me to wine! ♥ ♥ haha. Anyway. Maybe the cop outfit did or did not win me my man, but I’ll run with it 😉 Anywho.
my first Halloween with Justin. We were some pretty kickass mobsters. This was our first Halloween together as a couple so it was really important to me. This picture was taken up at his camp. We actually had two Halloween parties last year, it was so awesome. This year I will be legal and drinking to my heart’s content.

Anywho. Justin and I are still pining over a house. I love our place right now, but seriously, I just want a place we own, that we can paint, that we can have a couple pets. And party, of course, before we have babies. that’s pretty important too. haha. I think we’ve given ourselves a semi-timeline. We’re going to wait until around March before we go too gung-ho, and hopefully we’ll have a little bit saved up to eat the closing costs and whatnot. I’m just a little afraid that we have our expectations set too high. We want land, Justin wants a garage, I want at least three bedrooms, there’s just a lot to it. We wouldn’t be happy living right in town, but the further out you get the more expensive you get as well. It really just is a lot more work than when you first say to yourself: “i want a house”. haha. But I have the bug and I usually don’t give something a rest until I’m satisfied.
I’d actually really love a house we could just gut from the inside and make it completely our own. I also wouldn’t mind a house that was so perfect we wouldn’t have to touch it, but anyway. It would be pretty cool to find a cheaper fixer-upper that we can paint and carpet (or hardwood, or rip out carpet for hardwood, etc) and just make it completely our own. Justin’s pretty damn handy, andso is his brother. I’m sure those two would have no problem being let loose in a house they can remodle to their heart’s content. And then I can paint it. heh.

I love being legal.

I have to say, the excitement I felt back in January when I turned 21 has died down immensely. I don’t know why, but I felt that turning 21 would make me feel different (you know, just like how you think turning 16 and 18 would make you feel like a whole new person) Well obviously I didn’t feel any different at all. Granted, I have been going to bars since I was roughly 18, I really thought like I would feel like this incredibly older person.

Not so much.

However, it is much more convenient for both Justin and myself that I am now of legal age to purchase adult beverages. I think he was getting tired of running to the store for random things like wine or tequila when I’m trying a new recipe. Like the one time, I was making tequila lime chicken and needed just half a cup of Jose. Justin, being the savvy shopper he is, comes how with three gallons because it was “on sale”. haha, I do love him. Justin has a hard time controlling his excitement, even at 25, when venturing into the liquor store. He usually comes out with enough alcohol for many, many good nights. Maybe that’s the reason we never fight, we’re always drunk 😉 I kid. No really, we get along very well, with or without alcohol, which I hear makes for a good marriage. Speaking of marriage, I do wish I could move up our date sometimes, but right now I think we both have the house bug so bad that even I would rather spring for a house right now over a wedding. House before wedding. I think we’re doing it wrong. haha. Well, we were living in sin before we got engaged, and since we’re already living together might as well go for the gold. And I really want a cat. Our landlord is a cat hater, so that’s on hold right now. Anyway, on to the weekend fun.

So last night we enjoyed a Saturday night out in Hilliards, PA. It’s about a 20 minute drive from our place to check out a new bar called the Just Inn (haha, very punny) and to see a band called The Huckin’ Fillbilly’s. That’s them on the left, in case you were wondering. They were really great! There was a lot of energy and contrary to the name, they played all classic rock. If you’re in the eastern Ohio or Western PA area I would highly recommend catching a show. Justin and I ducked out a little early, but I do plan on seeing them again for a whole show. This was also the first time we ventured to this bar, and I have to say the Just Inn is pretty awesome. I don’t like super-huge bars, nor do I really care for hole in the walls. This place was a great size, great service, good food, and the people that went there seem like normal people. haha. It’s also in a great location- the middle of nowhere. It’s a nice calm drive back home on all back roads, which is something I severely miss since moving to Butler. We both want to live basically in the middle of nowhere, where you cannot see your neighbors. That’s pretty pricey, but you never know what you may come across. Who knows, maybe out dream house is nothing of what we were expecting. I would really like to go back soon, sometime next month I hope.

Today is Sunday, obviously. I work 10-4 on Sundays, and although I hate working on the weekend, I like the shift. I can’t wait to have that 9-5 or whatever day job once I’m done with school. I can’t wait to come home and be able to actually cook a dinner for Justin and myself (and future kids) and not have to pack it up in Tupperware because we are at work during dinnertime. That would be great. Until then, however, I will just have to deal.
And I have to say, I can pull off a dinner pretty well 😉 This was for Justin because he started having major cravings for ham. I have to say it was pretty amazing, and only lasted maybe…3 days. I discovered my future husband is a serious picker with ham. I’ll probably make another one for around the holidays. Maybe we’ll have our own private holiday dinner before we are running around like mad people as we try to hit all the family dinners. That’s the part I actually don’t care much for for the holidays. I wish both our families would just be in one place! Tonight is going to be pizza night, and in my new money-conscious mind set, Justin and I are going to make pizza from scratch together =) I discovered yet another blog that’s quickly becoming a daily read, and she has a great looking recipe for a pizza crust from scratch. I’m pretty excited to try it. I’ll take some pictures and share the struggle or triumph of my first attempt at pizza-from-scratch.

That’s all for now. Back to Monday again, unfortunately. Hopefully next week Justin and I will start squaring away some details for the upcoming Halloween festivities. I’d love to find a place to go out for Halloween, maybe we’ll hit that bar again. I do love Halloween. Maybe I’ll even share some pictures of Halloween past. wee!