Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Weekly Recipe Challenge

In the few weeks that we've been back in Grenada, I can already tell I'm in a cooking rut. We have a few meals that we really like, and tend to have them over and over. Some of this is attributed to our small selection of food items. But mostly, it's my lack of creativity. As I've said before, though, I'm blessed with a husband who is extremely easy to please, loves leftovers, and will eat anything. He still asks for spaghetti every other night. So yesterday I made him lasagna, because when you make a whole lasagna for 2 people, you get about 3 meals out of it!

But I realized that I need to branch out a little bit with my food choices. So I've decided to make one new recipe a week. That may not sound like a lot, and in a perfect world, I'd concoct elaborate, gourmet meals every day of the week. However, our budget (and my limited kitchen space and utensils) will not allow for that. I have a few recipes in the queue already. Some are family recipes that I've been eating for years, but never made myself. Others are recipes from magazines, friends, or online that looked yummy. I think this will be a fun way for me to broaden my experiences and get out of our meal-time rut.

The recipe for this week was Strawberry Cream-Filled Crepes. I've always thought crepes were the epitome of classy brunch-fare, so elegant and light. And I was a little intimidated at the thought of making them myself. Come to find out, they are basically a very thin pancake, and just about as easy to make! Thanks to my blender, I whipped up the batter in no time. The filling was simple as well: Whip 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, beat 8 oz. softened cream cheese, 1 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream. (On a side note, my new favorite utensil is the electric hand mixer we bought at Wal-Mart while we were home for just $6! I think I've used it 4-5 times already since we've been back.) I filled the crepes with the cream cheese mixture and topped them with fresh sliced strawberries. Now that I know how easy it is to make crepes, I can't wait to explore the many variations that are possible.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Passing the Time

While I was home last month, I tried to think of some activity or project I could bring back to keep me busy this semester while Ryan is in school. I remembered that I had learned to knit when I was 11 or 12 years old and thought that would be a good portable, time-consuming hobby. So I got to work compiling patterns (mostly free from the internet) and a couple books. My parents loaded me up with yarn and other supplies for my birthday.

I've completed a couple things already, but they are by no means perfect. I'm still learning the techniques and have a long way to go. But here is what I've been working on so far.

My first little project was actually completed while we were at home. I love the little crocheted baby headbands that everyone is wearing right now, and thought I'd try to knit one instead. It's actually a little too wide for a baby (the pattern was for an adult), but I think if it was on a little bigger baby, the headband would stretch and narrow out some. Either way, I'll probably make some adjustments for next time. But here is my first attempt at knitting, modeled by sweet Elliana:

The next item I completed was a little baby beret (pattern taken from Simply Baby by Debbie Bliss). Before I go on, let me say that there is no significance to the category of things I'm knitting. There is no baby on the way for us yet. I just think baby clothes are so adorable, and for the most part they are much easier to make than sweaters or things for adults. So I'm just starting small, and hopefully will progress to full-sized things eventually. My mom already has a sweater pattern picked out that she'd like someday.

Back to the beret . . . The pattern said it would be for a 9-12 month old baby, but it's hard to tell without an actual baby to wear it. It's also hard to take a picture of it without a baby wearing it, but here it is:

It's hard to tell, but there is a little pink stripe at the very bottom to match the little pompom on top. The pattern said to make the typical fluffy pompom, but I actually knit a little piece, stuffed it with scrap yarn, and sewed it together to make it look more like a covered button instead of a huge pompom. I love the colors, and if A.C. Moore still has that yarn in stock in December, I want to make a matching coat as well. Here is a picture from the book, so you can see how much better it looks on a real child:

Next, I made the sweetest little baby bootie (Erika Knight's free pattern found online). But the yarn I used was too stiff and I actually broke the size 2 bamboo needle I was using. In my defense, though, the needle is about the thickness of a toothpick. Given that I used the wrong yarn, and the bootie doesn't have the nice stretch that I would like, I probably won't make a matching one. I'm going to choose a different yarn and try again. But here's the one I made anyway. It needs a little button to hold the strap down.

Currently, I am working on a cream baby blanket with a basket-weave design (free pattern from www.lionbrand.com). I'm about halfway done, and plan on making a newborn-size hat to match as well.

I have so many more great colors of yarn and adorable pattern ideas that I can't wait to try. This has turned out to be a very fun way to pass the time without Ryan here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Our Apartment

Today I thought I would give you a tour of our little home. Actually, "dorm room" is probably more accurate, but I don't like to think about that fact. It is only 275 square feet, and that includes the bathroom and kitchen. In each set of before & after pictures, the "before" picture was taken the first night we arrived back in February.

As you can see, apart from adding a duvet to the bed and a few other pictures and things around the room, it really isn't decorated. Normally that would bother me immensely. In the apartment we lived in before moving to Grenada, I loved nothing more than getting to add curtains and paint and things to the walls. But down here, nobody really sees it, and it's probably not the best use of our money or luggage space to bring down sets of curtains and decorations. And surprisingly, I don't mind it the way it is right now. Plus, it gives me something to look forward to when we move back to the States in a couple years.

So here we go. Here is the kitchen, which is immediately in front of you when you walk through the door.


Looking back at the door.

Next, here is the bathroom. It is behind the kitchen. As you can see, there is hardly any storage in here. So we keep most of our toiletries in baskets on a shelf right outside the bathroom.


This is a view of the whole room while standing in the kitchen. Ryan's desk is in the far right corner.


Ryan's desk and the door leading out to the balcony.


Our closet and my desk.


I hope you enjoyed getting to see where we live. Feel free to stop by if you're ever in the neighborhood!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Summer Break

As I previously mentioned, we have just returned from a month-long vacation in Greenville. We stayed with my parents while we were there and just loved every minute of our time at home. My family spoiled us with our favorite meals, snacks, and trips to their new favorite Mexican restaurant. Not only did we enjoy the time spent with our families, but we were able to see all our dear friends from Cornerstone again. So many people were gracious enough to fit us into their busy summer schedules, and we had the best time with everyone. I tried to take pictures of some of our activities. I definitely didn't do a very good job with that, but here are a few snapshots and events from the past few weeks.

The weekend after we arrived at home, we had a (belated) 4th of July picnic at my aunt and uncle's house.

This is me with my youngest cousin, Martin.

And I wish I had better pictures of the rest of my family, but they are all in this one somewhere.

The following Saturday, our church had a pool party-themed ladies' fellowship. I was able to help Mom and my sister, Rebekah, with some of the decorations and dessert (white chocolate lime mousse with a crushed gingersnap crust). We had a wonderful time together.

During our time at home, I was able to meet up with Meredith Jenkins and Trish Campbell, a couple of my closest friends since high school. They were also bridesmaids in my wedding, and I was in both of their weddings. I love the fact that even though it may be months in between, we can sit down and pick up right where we left off. And getting to spend a few hours with each of them was one of the highlights of my vacation.

Ryan and I also enjoyed getting to spend many evenings with our very dear friends, Dan and Brenda, their adorable son, Carter, and newest addition, sweet Elliana.

One evening, the four of us went downtown to Sticky Fingers, one of Ryan's favorite barbecue places.

We just love downtown Greenville. And after dinner, we took a little walk and then stopped at Marble Slab for some ice cream.

Although our four and a half weeks at home went by much too quickly, Ryan and I could not be more thankful for our wonderful family and church family that made our vacation one of the best we've ever had.

Monday, August 16, 2010

White Coat Ceremony

The three days that we've been back in Grenada have been so busy that in some ways it feels like we never left. Our flight got in around 9:00pm Friday night. As we tried to find a taxi to take us back to campus, a couple friends saw us and offered us a ride. Back at our room, we waited for about 10 minutes for Security to come unlock our door, then began to unpack our closet and suitcases. (You can see a picture of our closet on the July 11 post.) Surprisingly, it took a lot less time to unpack everything than I thought it would. And apart from a container of nuts spilling in my suitcase, everything made it to Grenada just fine.

The next morning, Ryan registered for his classes and picked up his books for the semester.

Then we waited in line for about 45 minutes so he could pick up his white coat and get a ticket for me to attend the ceremony.

After waiting for a brief rain shower to pass, we headed to the grocery store. IGA was surprisingly well-stocked, and we came home with everything on our list. Of course, once we got home, I thought of about 10 more things that I wished had been on our list. And Ryan had to make a quick run to the convenience store on campus for a couple ice cream bars.

Later that evening, Ryan headed down to the soccer fields for the First Term Barbecue. I didn't go with him because the food was only for first term medical students - not spouses or parents or friends. So I enjoyed my first of many quiet evenings alone.

On Sunday morning, Ryan had orientation meetings starting at 10:00 and lasting most of the afternoon. When he came back home, we listened to one of my dad's sermons from a few weeks ago and then ate dinner. I enjoyed cooking my first meal back in Grenada. We had marinated chicken breasts, mixed vegetables, and garlic herb biscuits. I would have made brown rice as well, but I had a little less left in the box than I remembered. We ended the evening again by watching a couple pre-season football games.

This morning was Ryan's first official day of classes, although they were mostly just orientation meetings again. We had a cup of hazelnut coffee and scrambled eggs for breakfast before he left. While he was gone, I washed and ironed his white coat and my dress for the ceremony this evening. Then around 4:00 we headed down to Charter Hall for the White Coat Ceremony. I saved a seat for a friend, and Ryan sat in the student section with his friends.

The White Coat Ceremony is kind of like graduation, except it's at the beginning of school. The chancellor addresses the students, they have a special speaker for the occasion, and all the first term medical students walk across the stage and have their white coats placed on them. It sounds simple, but with an MC who liked to hear himself talk and over 400 students, it took about 2 hours.

One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was listening to the keynote speaker, Lord Walton of Detchant. He is at least 90 years old (literally), but one of the most interesting and eloquent speakers I have ever heard. He is a pediatric neurologist, a member of the House of Lords in England, and he previously chaired the Select Committee on Medical Ethics. At one time he was the president of the World Federation of Neurology, as well as president of the British Medical Association. He was responsible for isolating a certain gene that caused a severe form of muscular dystrophy in young boys. Because of his research, children that were dying from that disease by 16 years of age, are now living into their late 30's. I could have listened to him all day.

Finally the time came for Ryan to have his white coat placed on him. (Technically they call it "receiving the white coat," but I find that ironic since the students bring the coat on stage with them.) In these pictures, Ryan is second from the right putting on his white coat.

This picture is a little blurry, but this is Ryan walking past me on the way back to his seat.

Following the ceremony, we took some pictures on the stage and then headed to the reception.

This ceremony marks the first step in a long journey that is still ahead of us. But I am so proud of Ryan for his hard work in getting to this point.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Adventure Continues

I had high hopes of blogging about our time at home this past month. But as you can see, that didn't happen. It turns out we hardly had any down time at all, but that's the way we like it. We did have the best time these last few weeks with our wonderful family and friends, and I have a few pictures and stories to share (hopefully in the next couple days).

We had planned to be in Grenada by now, but the Lord had other plans for us today. The adventure began pretty early - at 5:50am to be exact. I checked our flight schedule before leaving for the airport, and saw that our flight to Charlotte was delayed by a couple hours, which would cause us to miss our connection to Miami. We decided to head to the airport and check in anyway and see what changes they could make for us.

The airline had no other flights they could offer us this morning, and so my Dad graciously volunteered to drive us to Charlotte. We left the house around 7:00am, picked up biscuits and coffee at McDonald's, and enjoyed a couple more hours of talking with him on the way to the airport. Once we got to Charlotte, it was smooth sailing (well, flying) to Miami.

However, we checked the screens in the airport after arriving in Miami, and saw that our flight to San Juan was delayed for about 3 hours, again causing us to miss our connection to Grenada. After walking for about 30 minutes to get to the ticket counter and talking to an agent for about 20 minutes, we ended up with a hotel and meal vouchers for an overnight stay in Miami. And we're scheduled to be on a flight directly to Grenada at 4:55pm tomorrow.

Although we probably wouldn't have chosen this little detour, it actually worked out quite well. We had a beautiful hotel room where we could relax this afternoon. And tonight we decided to explore a little of the city. We called for a taxi at 5:30 and made reservations at Emeril Lagasse's restaurant for 6:00. For some reason, our taxi didn't come until about 6:35 (we changed our reservation to 7:00) and arrived at the restaurant right on time. I wish we had been able to take pictures along the way, though. We passed the most exquisite waterfront homes complete with palm trees, manicured lawns, and luxurious yachts. I would have been content driving through those neighborhoods all evening. But instead, we enjoyed one of the best meals we've ever had.

The restaurant, located in the Art Deco district, is next to the beautiful Loews Hotel. We took a couple minutes to enjoy the scenery before heading in for dinner.

Inside, the setting was elegant, but comfortable. The kitchen was the main focal point of the dining area, but tables were also located in a couple private rooms and in the garden. We sat by a large fireplace against the wall opposite the kitchen.

While the main entrees were a little pricey (starting at about $30), we noticed Emeril's Miami Spice menu (available for only 2 months) where we could choose one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert for just $35! It turned out to be a great decision.

Our waiter served warm yeast rolls and sweet corn muffins throughout the meal. And the service was consistently prompt and courteous. The appetizers were probably our favorite course of the evening. Ryan ordered the New Orleans barbecued shrimp, and I had the rosemary roasted golden beets with arugula, bleu cheese, toasted pecans, and a tangy vinaigrette. The portions were quite large, and so beautifully presented.

For the main course, Ryan had the double-cut pork with caramelized sweet potatoes, and I had the grouper with heart of palm salad, rock shrimp, and watercress. Both were extremely flavorful, cooked to perfection, and too large to finish.

After dessert (lemon meringue tart and peanut butter chocolate mousse cake), we took another taxi back to our hotel. We spent our last night in the USA watching the greatest American sport - football. Tomorrow we plan on sleeping in, and then getting to the airport by 2:00pm. We're praying that our luggage (which went on to San Juan without us) will make it to Grenada tomorrow night as well.

This weekend will be quite busy as Ryan will be registering for classes and attending orientation meetings. I'll work on unpacking our room, grocery shopping, and organizing our life again. We're excited to begin this next chapter in our lives, and we look forward to sharing the journey with you!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...