Monday, November 30, 2009

Another Great Christmas Album to Stream for FREE

Listen to Your King Has Come, from Matthew Smith (of Indelible Grace) and friends. You'll be glad you did.

The album is described as "a collection of songs born out of a community of artists. From the contemplative opening chords of Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken's "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" to Jeremy Casella's awestruck "Joyful Fire" to Matthew Perryman Jones' worshipful "O Holy Night," the album represents the heartcry of the people of God. A cry of rejoicing because a baby has been born to save His people from their sins...and a cry of longing, wanting Him to return soon."

Fireplace S'mores

for context, see "Saturday evening" in previous post

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend Highlights

What a full and fun weekend! The highlights:

Friday evening: enjoying a relaxed date night dinner at Ethiopian Diamond restaurant in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. Yum.

Saturday morning: sleeping in, then making homemade buttermilk waffles with our new waffle maker. Yum.

Saturday afternoon: discovering the Garfield Park Conservatory, a leafy green gem in the midst of urban sprawl. Beautiful.

Saturday evening: sharing dinner at Cosi on Michigan Avenue, window shopping on State Street, watching fireworks on the river, and returning home to cozy up by the "fire" (a cluster of candles in the fireplace) and roast marshmallows (using the telescoping roasting forks we received as a wedding gift) for s'mores. Yum.

Sunday: having my parents over for Sunday dinner (which consisted of my first attempts at pot roast and butternut squash, both deemed a success), followed by church and a viewing of the Amazing Race.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas

Ever since I discovered it a few years ago, Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ has been one of my favorite Christmas albums. One of the reasons I love it is that it's so much more than a Christmas album. Over the course of twelve songs, Peterson, an excellent lyricist, tells the Bible's whole story of redemption, from Moses and the Passover, to Jesus, the Lamb of God slain to take away our sin. Plus, who else could put Jesus' genealogy, as recorded by Matthew, into an incredibly catchy tune?! I have yet to catch a stage performance of this album (though I would love to...they're on tour again this year, so I just might yet) but will definitely be listening to these songs again this season.

Know what?! You can too, for free! Andrew has an online player where you can listen to the whole album. [The only catch is that after each song you have to click on the next one for it to play--it won't just play through on its own. But really, you'll be so eager to hear what's next that having to click on the next song won't be an issue.] So, go have a listen. You'll be glad you did. Then if you'd like, you can purchase the album on iTunes or from the store at the Rabbit Room.

What's your favorite Christmas album? Leave a comment and let me know!

Pantry Window: Before & After

Former view of my pantry from the atrium
(10 points if you can point out the marshmallows!)

New view with my cutesy kitchen curtain in place.

(For the creation of said curtain, many thanks are due to my friend Laura, who offered the use of her sewing machine for this project, invited me over and fed me dinner, consulted (and improved) on my proposed design, and whose 4-H sewing skillz put my home ec. class skillz to shame.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sometimes you feel like a wife...

I was catching up with a friend over lunch the other day and she asked me if I feel any different now that I'm married. My answer: yes, being married feels different, and it's got to be one of the best feelings in the world. I love being a wife. Specifically, I love being Travis' wife.

In my one and a half months of marriage so far, I've discovered that certain activities make me feel particularly wifely. This morning the feeling hit when I dropped off his clothes at the dry cleaners. The other day it washed over me as I enjoyed breakfast in bed with my husband. And I get a flash of it most weeknights when Travis arrives home from work and the first thing he does is wrap me up in a big hug.

And then there are other activities that make me feel not specifically wifely, per se, but very homemakerish. (Yes, in this blog post I am making up words. Deal with it.) For example, this evening I'm headed over to a friend's house to use her sewing machine to make a curtain for the window in my walk-in pantry, which happens to be one of my absolute favorite features of our apartment. The pantry, not the window. The window is a little weird, in fact, because it looks out on the atrium. (Though this is by no means the weirdest thing about our apartment.) For the six months that the window has been curtainless since I moved in, the contents of my pantry have been on display to anyone walking through the atrium of our building. Granted, regular traffic through there does not constitute more than a few neighbors, but said neighbors could learn quite a lot about my cooking, eating, and organizational habits if they so chose to snoop. (And with such fascinating and classified information they that if they ever need a cup of sugar, I could help them out.) Honestly, though, it's not so much that I want to keep inquiring eyes from seeing the package of marshmallows I purchased recently (for toasting in the fireplace one of these nights), but more that I desire to spare my neighbors from shocking sights (and keep ourselves from committing indecent exposure), should I ever again forget to make coffee (which requires a visit to the pantry) only AFTER getting dressed, or should Travis decide to do another round of household chores (which call for the step stool, stored in the pantry) in his underwear.

So, anyway, sometimes you feel like a wife. And sometimes you feel like an eighth grader in home ec class. And sometimes you feel like an idiot for forgetting that the pantry window does not yet have a curtain, nor do you have clothes on.

(I would like to acknowledge that the above statements would be more appropriately stated in first rather than second person. But I've had the Almond Joy/Mounds jingle in my head since I started thinking about this post, and I couldn't bring myself to abandon the motif.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thankful Five at 12:25

5 things I'm thankful for right this minute:
  1. Kiwi Lime yogurt
  2. That I decided to have risotto made from my leftover shabu shabu broth at dinner Saturday night. It made for a very tasty lunch just now.
  3. The warmth and comfort of an early morning doze in my husband's arms.
  4. The green scarf around my neck that is helping keep me warm in this chilly office.
  5. My in-laws
     6. The mug of steaming hot chocolate I'm about to prepare for myself.

Subconscious themes: tasty treats. warmth.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chili Kick

Ever since the temperatures starting falling I've been on a bit of a chili kick. As far as dinner goes, chili is great - you've got protein and veggies (and sometimes even fruit) all cooked up in just one pot; sprinkle some cheese on top and serve with corn bread, and you've hit all the food groups. Plus, a big pot of chili means several portions of tasty leftovers to take for lunch at work. Over the past few weeks I've revisited some favorite chili recipes from seasons past (like Three Bean Turkey Chili and Creamy Chicken Apple Chili) and have also tried some new concoctions.

Last night was a culinary experiment; I started with a recipe I found online and modified it based on reviews from other cooks and my own (admittedly tentative) intuition of what would make it better. I am pleased to report that the end result was a really tasty and unique chili. Travis commented that it has "great flavor" and is "hearty without being heavy." If you're up for something a little different, try my Turkey Pumpkin Chili. Because it's made with turkey, it's lower in fat; because it's got beans it's high in fiber;  the pumpkin is a good source of vitamin A, and the peppers are a great way to get some vitamin C.

  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with their liquid, plus 1 can water
  • 1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tb chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, drained & rinsed

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned. Stir in tomatoes, water, pumpkin, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt & pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

This is a fairly mild chili (which is what I prefer). If you'd like more kick, consider adding a seeded and finely chopped jalapeno (or two) along with the peppers and onion. I served it with oyster crackers. Corn bread would be great, too. Top with sour cream or cilantro if you wish. 

Monday, November 09, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake!

Here's another quick wedding nugget. Our delicious wedding cake was created by Patty Cakes of Lockport, Illinois. It was a four-tier round spice cake with cream cheese frosting, decorated with piped-on outlines of maple and oak leaves and a smattering of sparkling colored fondant leaves (which appear to have begun to melt and run down the cake...oh well). A silver "S" sat atop the cake (and now sits on the mantle in our den). Guests were served a slice of cake accompanied by a scoop of cinnamon ice cream in a chocolate cup. I might be a little biased, but it was some of the best wedding cake I've ever tasted! Several guests agreed. Spice cake might not be traditional for wedding cake, but it was perfect for this fall wedding.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Under Construction

Hey there, friend! Don't be alarmed: yes, you're on the right blog. (Well, that's assuming you came to this page looking for your favorite blog about the life of Suz. If you didn't come looking for Suz's Musings, well who knows how you stumbled across my humble little blog, but as long as you're here...Welcome!)

After almost four years of blogging (next month will mark the 4 year anniversary of my first post!) and displaying my varied musings against an understated navy blue background, I've decided to upgrade to something brighter and more colorful. (And by "decided to" what I really mean is I finally got over my fear of messing with something that wasn't wasn't broken and running the risk of losing and/or having to replace content and having to learn and navigate my way around a new template with only my limited knowledge of HTML to guide me.)

A glance out the window just now at the ever darkening world makes me realize that it's probably no coincidence that the decision to lighten up my blog's look came the week following the transition to daylight savings time, which means that I'm greeted by darkness and a nearly navy blue sky when I leave the office at 5:00 each day. Perhaps the move to lighten up my blog was  a subconscious preemptive strike against seasonal lethargy?

I'll ponder that one for a while. In the meantime, I'm requesting your patience as I tweak some things around Suz's Musings (such as those tabs up there...they don't actually take you anywhere...yet) and figure out how to make this new template work for me. And as I catch up and get back into the habit of posting here semi-regularly. Thanks for stopping by!