Recipe of the Week!

I haven't made this yet, but it looks really really good.  I had the most delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup in Oklahoma when I was home this summer.  It was at a restaurant called El Tequila, and ever since then, I have been searching for a recipe for a similar soup.  It had avocados, tortilla strips, shredded chicken, and a broth base (not tomato based like a lot of tortilla soups).  I think I found it!

Delicious Fresh Chicken Tortilla Soup

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
vegetable oil for frying
corn tortillas cut into strips
15 cups water
15 cubes chicken bouillon
1 (14 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup dried oregano
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chili peppers
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
avocados - peeled, pitted and sliced

In a saucepan, cover chicken breasts with water and boil for 30 minutes, or until tender. Shred into small pieces; set aside. Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep-fryer or large cast-iron skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Fry tortilla strips from about 6 tortillas at a time, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

In a large stockpot, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the bouillon cubes and reduce heat to a simmer. In a blender, combine the can of tomatoes, onion and garlic. Blend on high until smooth. Pour the blended mixture into the stockpot and stir in the coriander, cumin, black pepper, chili powder and oregano. Add carrots, celery and diced tomatoes with chilies. Cover pot and simmer for about 25 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Stir in shredded chicken and cook 5 more minutes.

Serve hot topped with fried tortilla strips, and garnish with shredded cheese and avocado slices.
I know it's super hot outside, but I might just have to make this asap!


Ya'll x 3

Can you say Ya'll 3 times in one sentence?  Because at the local grocery store, we had a lady say this to us:

"Ya'll find everything ya'll need or can I help ya'll?"

I just stared at her while Dave smoothly said, "No we're fine thank you."

Dave is just all around really great.  Yesterday we went to Marie Callendar's for dinner (we were out shopping for a mattress for the guest room and got really hungry...like too hungry to go home and make something).  We ordered the salad bar.  There were at least 3 times during dinner that he said something so funny that I laughed out loud.  Loud enough that people stared at us...annoyed.  Granted we were there during the senior citizen discount hour.  They like it quiet.

While we were shopping, we had a discussion about why we have so many water bottles at our house.  I counted them all and we for real have 6 reusable water bottles.

a. Dave introduced me to the idea of carrying around reusable water bottles with you where ever you go. Ever since then I have been wanting to find the perfect one. Criteria for such a device = 44 ounce capacity, easy to remove lid, doesn't make the water smell/taste funny, dishwasher safe.  That's all I ask.  Have I found it?  No.  Hence the 6 (stupid) water bottles.  Have any of you found one like this?

b. This really stems from living in Utah and Colorado where the climate is so dry you have to drink water all day long to stay normal.  Now that I am back in the humid weather, it's just a habit.  At least it's a good one.

Dave endearingly teases me about my water bottle obsession.  Sometimes there will be 5 out of 6 missing because they are under the seats in the car.  Sometimes I complain about being so thirsty at work because, "I can't find any of my water bottles."  He just smiles at me and then hand washes all 6 of them and stacks them neatly in the cupboard for me.

Love that man.
I am going to stop by Target today to look for my 44 ouncer.  Don't tell him.


Spiderman and Batman

That's who they say they are.  Can you tell?

Some nice shots for their dad's birthday present:

Missing them already!

My Boys Came for a Visit

2 of my nephews, Isaac (6) and Alex (4) came for a visit this weekend.  They stayed from Thursday to Sunday.  Here's a short list of what we did:

1. Jumped on all the beds
2. Went to see Toy Story 3
3. Played Nintendo
4. Ordered pizza
5. Rented movies
6. Ate ice cream in bed
7. Stayed up late
8. Swam all day long

The first morning they were here, Alex noticed a spot on one of my windows in the kitchen and Isaac suggested that we clean it like window washers. We got out the Windex and paper towels and they made up a song about being window washers and washing windows all day long.

Then they noticed a path on the side of the house and wanted to explore (in their jammies).

A few minutes later, they came running back saying that they found a spider and a trash can. They were kind of disappointed that there was no treasure.

That day we went swimming, played "intendo" as they say it, watched cartoons, got some Kawaii's shaved ice (yum) and watched a movie with Dave when he got home from work.

Saturday was more pool time, we ordered pizza, went to a 3 year old's birthday party with a HUGE inflatable slide, and watched Chipmunks part dos.

Sunday was the day we had to drive them back to meet my brother.  We started out with a little Taco Bell for the road, but made sure they were nice and covered with napkins before they started eating:

And this was pretty much the cutest site...

When we got to the gas station where we did the trade off, we had a little surprise, baby Nathan (nephew #3) was there!  I wanted to steal him, is that bad?

I know this is blurry but I had to show you how Isaac was "helping" Nathan look at the camera.

I asked the boys what their favorite part of the whole trip was and they said, the slide at the birthday party!  Then I said, well what was your second favorite part?  They thought for a minute and said, THE SLIDE!!  The slide wins.

I took some better pictures of the boys (not on a cell phone) and will post them here later.  It was their idea to have a "photo shoot" for their dad's birthday present.  His birthday was yesterday, so we burned the photos to a CD and the boys gave it to him in a frilly pink gift bag (hey, it's all I had).


Updates from the Secret Garden

Ok it isn't a secret garden, but I loved that book when I was little so I call it my Secret Garden.

One of my favorite things about this house is the sunny front porch:

These hanging baskets are called Lantana.  They are so cheery and bright:
If you look closely you can see a little green bug right in front of the second bud in the middle.

Over by the front flower bed, I have a few potted plants, a few bushes, and some purple beauties.
A new bud on one of my Zennia plants.

When I am outside watering my flower garden, I usually love all things nature.  Except him...

I have major plans for a few trellises with climbing plants, a crape myrtle tree, and a yellow bush of some sort.  
--I heart gardening--


Back to School...

I remember back in May when I signed up to teach summer school. Why?  Why would I do that?  Right when I was enjoying the summer, going to the pool, painting the house, sleeping in...

My alarm went off at 6:00am this morning and all I said to myself was "Why?"

But today is the first day and the first day is always the hardest right?  So far it has been good, I have had a student who woke up on the street with a hangover and came to school without shoes on, and a student who thinks he's going to ask his girlfriend to marry him because she knows how to change out a transmission and that is, "so freaking hot."

But hey, at least they're here at school and not...other places.

In other news, Dave and I finished painting the family room and dining room in our new favorite color and guess what...it looks awesome.  We love it.  Bleeker Beige turned out to be a creamy taupe with tan and gray tones to it.  Basically perfect for decorating with any colors.  So happy that debacle is over, now what colors for the bedrooms...haha...


It's Like a Play Place for Grown ups

How many of you have every been to Ikea?  It is like 5 Costco's (or Sam's) put together.  Add more furniture, take away the groceries, add a cafeteria, a daycare for the children, and a huge warehouse were you get your own items off the shelf.  That is Ikea.

You think I am kidding about the size?  Check out this map (and this is only of the showrooms, not the marketplace, cafeteria, or self serve warehouse).

We love this place though.  Especially since a lot of the fun things we can do now that we have a house.  Here is a short photo list of things I want from there right now:

Butcher Block Counter tops to go with my freshly painted cabinets:
White TV stand
and I'll have you...
Vanity for the Master Bedroom
Oh and I have to tell you that we finally picked our family room/kitchen paint color!  Some of you know the battle we have put ourselves through to pick a color (see previous posts with 97 paint samples...not really but it felt like that many).  It is Bleeker Beige from Benjamin Moore and it is luscious and creamy and perfect because I say so and because I am sick of second guessing our color choice.  Also we are currently putting it on the walls, so it stays.

Bleeker Beige

And just FYI I am thinking the accent colors are going to be blue and yellow.  You have to see it to believe it, but I have some good feelings about it.  Wish us luck! :)


Bargain Hunting Craigslist Style

Ahhhh...Craigslist.  The only way that first time home owners and indebted student loan payers can afford nice things.

When we were looking for a house, we checked out new construction homes (where we could get things just the way we wanted...which come to find out is extremely costly) and existing homes.  We ended up going with a Traditional brick home built in the 90s.  We love the neighborhood, the trees, the mature lawn/landscape, the windows, and the price which gives us a little more room to customize.

When we first moved in to our house, we created a list of things we needed/wanted to do.  This was a stipulation we had set prior to buying the house.  We had to make a list, otherwise it wouldn't get done.  I am a closet list-lover.  Are you?

The List: 

As we wrote the list, it became more and more apparent that all money would go towards "fixing up" type things and not really the "fun" things that we had waited to do.  This isn't a bad thing, we just have to get the rooms the way we want them before we decorate or go out buying TVs.  Ha ha...Dave?  You reading this?

Anyway, on to the first item...we found a few really good deals on Craigslist.  A stainless steel fridge, gas range, and a washer.  All three together would be about the cost of a new fridge.  So the first week we lived in the house, we jumped on the opportunity and picked the items up.  But as most of you who have ever done a deal on Craigslist know, things almost never go smoothly!

The gas range was a cinch, except for the renting a Home Depot truck part, driving the central Austin, and not bringing any bungee cords or blankets (hey we've never bought an appliance in our lives)!

Here are some photos from the adventure:

Good thing they used an airtight form of security so no one can steal the Home Depot truck. 
Seriously though, who still uses The Club?

It was all worth it though and the people were really nice. They even let us use one of their bungee cords and blankets (Thanks Heather and Sam).  I just made that up.

  Here's the range we HAD (only LOTS more sticky) and here's the range we GOT!!

The fridge, we found on Craigslist as well.  Dave even bargained with the guy and got him to deliver for cheaper.  Here's a photo of it that I found online:

The Dishwasher we searched and searched for.  This is the most important appliance in the kitchen (in my opinion).  If you get a good one, you can save so much time.  We eventually got lucky with a Frigidaire dishwasher at Best Buy that was the last one since they were coming in with a new model.  It was also tax free weekend and we had a coupon, so it was a good deal.  We went from this:

To this:

Probably my favorite thing in the entire kitchen. 

We also bought a washer, which was actually a huge headache, but I really like it now and it was dirt cheap, so I guess it was worth it.  I'll just give you the shortened version of the story, the lady opened the door and immediately said, "I'm sorry honey I am so dizzy from ALL THEM MEDS I've been taking.  Who are you again?"  You imagine the rest.
Good times with Craigslist peeps.

So what did we do with the old appliances?  We sold them on Craigslist for a pretty penny.  And the cycle continues.

**Real photos of the appliances in the kitchen will be coming up when I do a post on the dramatic kitchen renovation my mom and I did a few weeks ago.