May 31, 2009

It's Summer at the Stepp House

Had you asked me how my day was going at 11:00am this morning, I would have said "awful." We were running late for church when I realized that the dress I had picked out was cut lower than I had remembered. The tank top that I would have normally worn underneath it was dirty (it had chocolate syrup on it or I would have just put it on - we were in a hurry after all). I finally found another outfit, ironed it and headed downstairs. I didn't have time to eat, so I did what I do every morning and made a bowl of cereal to eat in the car. As I reached to put on my seat belt, I dumped the entire bowl on my lap. At this point I had mascara running down my face from crying and by the time I could change and Todd cleaned the car, we were too late for the last service. It was not the way I had pictured our day going.

Once I calmed down, we decided to make the most of the day. We ran a couple of errands. I bought a skirt and cute tank top at Target - they have the cutest summer clothes right now, and then hit the pool. I'm in a much better mood now!

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Don't look too closely at those pale legs. Today was my first day in the sun. I'm so excited for the many days we'll spend at the pool this summer.

Do I have to go back to work tomorrow? I think the pool needs someone to keep an eye on things...

May 30, 2009

I Love My Mixer!

It's a gorgeous day in Nashville and I have been stuck inside. Why? Because I had to see what my new mixer was made of. I'm in love. I want to bake every day, but because my budget won't allow (and the fact that I would like to see my weight go down rather than up), I won't bake every day.

I found an amazing cookie recipe from a great blog, Smitten Kitchen. The author tweaked the original recipe found at Bon App├ętit. Both are great sites for finding recipes.

Look at my mixer go!

mixing

There's nothing like baking while you watch the Food Network. Would you believe that I'm 26 and not 50? Ha!

cookies

The finished result will look something like this:

cookie photo

Todd must have felt left out, because he asked that I take a picture of the breakfast sandwich he made. He's quite the cook! McDonald's, watch out!

sandwich


*I have to add a disclaimer to say that we don't always eat like this. I only blog about the fun things we make. We definitely had hot dogs for dinner twice this week. Unfortunately hot dogs are not all that blog worthy.

Now that I've tried out the mixer, I'm getting outdoors. Our friends are coming over later tonight to BBQ, and Todd and I are definitely hitting the pool tomorrow. It's going to be 86 and sunny! Perfect weather to lay out with a great book.

Happy weekend!

May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend: Food and Family

It feels a little strange in our house tonight. Our family left this morning, and it's definitely quiet around here. We had such a good time, but boy did we eat. That is one thing us Stepps do well!

Friday I slaved in the kitchen. No, that's a lie. I did cook a big meal, but it was all super easy and I think it went over well.

The pork tenderloin was tender and the white cheddar penne is a new favorite for me. Yum!

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The blackberry buttermilk cake was good too. It was even better for breakfast the next day.

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On Saturday, Todd and his dad hung the ferns that I have been wanting for so long. I love them!

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Before heading to Loveless Cafe for dinner, we hit the mall where Todd's parents bought us the best anniversary gift ever. I still can't believe they bought it. I guess my new passion for cooking has been noticeable, because they bought us a new Kitchenaid mixer. I can't stop staring at it!

mixer

The next day we hit the farmer's market in Nashville to get fresh veggies for the kabobs we were going to grill.

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We made quite the dinner! The kabobs were amazing.

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We had such a great weekend and feel unbelievably blessed. Tim and Tracy are so giving and selfless. Todd's mom and grandma cooked and cleaned all weekend, while Todd's dad finished projects around the house. How did we get so lucky? I couldn't ask for better in-laws or a better weekend.

May 21, 2009

The In-Laws are Coming!

Todd's parents and grandmother are spending Memorial Weekend at our house and I am going to show off my mad culinary skills. Okay, I'm going to attempt to show off my somewhat decent culinary skills. Regardless, I'm getting busy in the kitchen!

I got my inspiration from Claire Robinson, a new host on the Food Network that I love. I kinda want to be best friends with her. Seriously, she's young, fun, kinda quirky and the girl can cook. I was so inspired to try one of her dishes that I went out and bought my first meat thermometer and cheese grater today. I feel so grown up.

For the main course I'm going to make Rosemary Pork Tenderloin.


Click on any of the photos below for the recipe.

pork


For the sides I'm going to make two dishes. First, White Cheddar Penne, another Claire Robinson creation. It's the classy version of mac & cheese.

penne


I have to throw a veggie dish in there, so I'm going for one of Todd's mom's recipes: roasted brussel sprouts with olive oil. These are so yummy. I'm so happy that I got my good friend Christi hooked on them!

House Number - 0065797F1


And for dessert, I'm trying a new recipe from the blog The Smitten Kitchen: Raspberry Buttermilk Cake. I'm going to make mine with blackberries, but it looks so scrumptious I could lick the screen.

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Before you start thinking "She's going to make all of that?" Remember that we live 8 hours from our family and I never get to cook for them. In the 3 1/2 years we have lived in Nashville, I don't think I have ever made anything for family except muffins. Plus, when we're in town they do all of the cooking and will probably make the rest of our meals when they visit this weekend. You can see why I want to go all out.

I'm excited to be chef for a day. Here's to hoping everything is as good as it looks in the pictures!

Enjoy a relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

May 18, 2009

Georgia On My Mind

This past weekend Todd and I made a trip down to Atlanta to celebrate our anniversary. Honestly I think Todd just needed an excuse to go to H&M, but it was nice to get away. We shopped a lot, ate a lot, and had a great time.

One of our favorite things to do when we travel is to check out the trendy restaurants where all the locals are going. I did a little research before we left Nashville and found a great place: Ria's Bluebird in downtown Atlanta. I knew we really couldn't go wrong when their website proudly displays their "Best Pancakes in the World" award from the New York Times and their mention in GQ. We decided to check it out for ourselves.


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How fun is this place? It's in a transitional area of Atlanta - reminded me a lot of East Nashville. The morning we left for our trip, Todd met with a client who recommended that we have breakfast at the Ritz. He obviously doesn't know us very well. If we had all the money in the world, we would still visit Ria's over the Ritz any day!


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Todd ordered the world renown pancakes (strawberry pancakes to be exact) and they were pretty unbelievable. I didn't get a picture, but I left determined to try to make them myself. I'm hoping Rachel Ray's recipe will do the trick.


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I ordered the Bluebird Breakfast Burrito. Are you drooling yet?!

We hit our favorite spots - Ikea, H&M and the Pottery Barn Outlet. After a weekend of shopping and eating, we took the scenic route back to Tennessee. We crossed the Chattahoochee (any Alan Jackson fans will know what I'm talking about!) and the beautiful Lake Lanier with its amazing lake front homes. I may have found my dream house this weekend. I just need a couple million dollars. ;)

It's good to be back. We have family visiting this weekend so we'll be busy finishing a few things around the house as well as hosting youth group at our place this week. With so much going on, this month is flying by!

May 14, 2009

Four Years Ago...

I married this man.


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Now every day is the best day. Happy Anniversary, Todd! I love you.

-

May 7, 2009

Cookies and more Crazy Love

Who needs cookbooks these days? I find the best recipes on blogs. I ♥ blogs.

One of my favorite bloggers is pregnant, so she's obviously writing more about food, which I love. Yesterday she blogged about an amazing oatmeal cookie recipe she found and after looking at them, I had to eat them. Had to. In my defense, I had promised to make something for Todd's co-workers for hitting a big sales goal (and baking is more fun than grabbing Krispy Kreme anyway!)

How can you look at these cookies and not rush to the grocery store? Like the author, I substituted the pecans for Heath toffee pieces. Yum!



oatmeal

(Click on the image to enlarge)


There's nothing better than a kitchen that smells like cookies baking...

cookies

Go make them. Seriously.

While the cookies were cooling I read chapters 3 & 4 of Crazy Love. I'm reading the book again because one, it's an amazing book and two, we're reading it as part of our Thursday night small group. Chapter 4 hit me like a ton of bricks. I don't have the book in front of me, so I'm paraphrasing, but Francis Chan said something like this: "You are lukewarm if you spend your days thinking about to-do lists, this week's schedule and next month's vacation." Ouch. I don't know about you, but I find myself there a lot and wouldn't consider myself "lukewarm." What an eye-opener. I don't think about heaven and my life after this one as much as I should. I'm a details person. I'm a to-do list maker by nature. But what on my list has eternal value? My prayer is that God would continue to work on my heart so that I'm not always living for today. It's a challenge for sure, but it's too costly for me not to take it on.

If you're needing a kick in the pants spiritually, please read this book. You can be extra kind and buy a copy from my husband's company. Or you can borrow mine. :)

May 6, 2009

A Break from the Rain

The rain decided to stop for a few hours yesterday. It has rained so much that I have to remind myself that we moved to Nashville and not the rainforest! We had plans to hang with friends for Cinco De Mayo, but Todd's bff couldn't make it, so we decided to enjoy the nice weather at home. ;)

We only had a couple of hours and had to make the most of it, so I went on a walk while Todd "played in the yard." As I made my way back to our house, I saw my wonderful husband hard at work.

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I can say one thing for the rain, it has made our yard very green. I love the smell of freshly cut grass. I just wish the weather would clear up so we could enjoy it a bit more.

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Can Todd mow a yard or what? Don't look too closely. You will see that we still have our Christmas wreath on the front door (yes, it's May - I said don't look too close!) and the rocking chairs in the garage that have been primed, but yet to be painted. We'll get there eventually.

The rain even stayed away long enough for us to grill and eat outside. It was only our second time to use our patio furniture. Fresh flowers would have been a nice touch, but I only had candles on hand.

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We're thankful for the rain, but craving nice weather. It's not fun being trapped inside. Maybe we'll get lucky this weekend!

May 2, 2009

A Weekend Redeemed

It's only Saturday night, but this weekend has been so much better than last weekend. I guess it doesn't take much to be better than food poisoning, but it really has been a great.

Friday night Matt and Emily Ingle joined us for dinner. It has been great to get to know them better. We had plans to bbq, but the weather wasn't cooperating. Todd and I made a last minute decision to grab grilled chicken from KFC. Everything else was homemade...we just cheated a bit. Okay, when the main course is from a fast food restaurant, we cheated big time.

I did go all out for dessert with a chocolate/strawberry trifle. I completely forgot to take a picture - probably because we scarfed it down as soon as it hit the table. The trifle is going to be a staple in the Stepp house. If I had taken a picture, it would have looked something like this:

Chocolate_Passion

I'm hoping Todd hasn't eaten all of it when I get home! Actually, I hope he has. If I get my hands on it, it could get ugly.

After a movie with the girls and some hang time with my favorite six year old Nelson, I'm about to call it a night. Add in a trip to Trader Joe's and the Nashville family over to catch up on our favorite shows tomorrow, we have ourselves a gold star weekend!