Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WAYYYYYY Back in June: Friends from Athens Visit!

WAYYYYY back in June, our friends Audrey and Alex Smith came for a quick visit to Augusta! We had lots of fun with them and I was so glad to get to spend some good quality time with them!

I met Audrey when I was a sophomore in college and she was a freshman and we were in Bible Study together at the Wesley Foundation. I'm so thankful that God led me to get involved in Wesley during my freshman year. I made lots of lifelong friendships, my relationship with God grew a lot, and I also got to experience lots of fun stuff like mission trips to the L.A. Dream Center and Jamaica. I highly recommend to any Christian in college to get involved in a strong Christ-Centered College Ministry.



I found out after we had moved to Augusta, that some of Audrey's family lives in Augusta. This works out well for us, since they are passing through Augusta a lot more than our other friends. Unfortunately, they will end up coming to Augusta a lot during the holidays - the very same times that we are in Atlanta or Mississippi visiting our family!

Well, back to our visit ---- Audrey and Alex came in on Friday night. I was having an EXTREMELY busy time at work and didn't make it home until later, so we decided to all head to the Polka Dot Pig to relax and have some dinner. We started off with some yummy "Cheese Grit Poppers" or something like that... they aren't on the menu anymore....:( This proves how LONG I have waited to blog about this!) Or maybe their menu is outdated...anyways....I'm not 100% sure, but I think that Audrey and Alex split some fancy-sounding pizza, like the "Duck and Goat Cheese Pie". I got the same thing I got the last time I went there with Carl and Stephanie from work, the "Fish Tacos" - they are absolutely delicious and I highly recommend them! Jason got the BBQ Pork Sandwich and fries - also delicious. Can't wait to go back there!

After dinner, it started POURING down rain, so we rain to the car and drove to Kroger to get a huge thing of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blue Bell Ice Cream (long title!). We pigged out on that and finished it off in the 2 1/2 days they were visiting us! Scary! That night, we just hung out and talked - my favorite activity with old friends!

The next morning, we each had random errands to run and Alex and Audrey also had lunch with her grandma. That afternoon we hung out again and grilled out burgers. We got to catch up on Audrey's past year of teaching and how her Masters program at UGA is going - I think she started this Summer. We also talked about life in general, fun memories, future plans, etc. That night, we went to see "Super 8". The movie was excellent. It was actually a little more sci-fi than I was expecting, and I did spend a fair amount of the scary parts with my hands over my eyes... but I really did enjoy it.


That night, we came back, hung out and played some scrabble. Alex killed us all and continues to kill me and Jason at Words with Friends...every time I play with him, I get motivated to memorize all the two and three letter words that start with "X" or "Z", but somehow I lose my drive after the game is over...

That next morning, Jason taught Sunday School and the Smiths joined us for church. After lunch at our house, Audrey had a baby shower for her sister and Alex, Jason, and me went to play frisbee golf at the North Augusta Greeneway. It was the first time I played a complete course and I didn't do so hot, but it was a lot of fun, and I definitely want to play again sometime. The course was really crazy, it had a lot of holes in the middle of the woods and we spent a lot of time trying to find and retrieve our frisbees!


After that, we came back and cooled down with my favorite summer snack - Luigi's Italian Ice - SO GOOD! Audrey came back from her shower, and we had to part ways. :(
Thanks for visiting Audrey and Alex! We can't wait to see you again! :) 

Baby Christian is Born!

Way back on June 27th, our good friends Paul and Shannon had their first baby - a little boy they named Christian. We were all so happy when he arrived safe and sound. Here's a photo of all three of them when they brought him home from the hospital:


We went to visit them in the hospital (after work) the day he was born. The only thing I can remember is that we brought them was some Lifesavers Gummy snacks - Paul's favorite.

Christian is now 2 months old. It has been so much fun to visit and watch him grow bigger and bigger each time we see him! Here are some photos of us with Christian during his first day of life!

 I was so nervous to hold him - given that he was only a few hours old at this point! 
 Paul, Jason and baby Christian
 No, this isn't our baby! lol 
 Paul swaddling baby Christian
 The swaddling continues...


Congratulations to the proud parents Paul and Shannon! We are so happy for you and can't wait to watch Christian grow up! You are already amazing parents! Christian is one lucky little boy! :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Haircut Should Jason Get?

So, here's a post that's a little out of the ordinary....

When I first met Jason, his hair looked something like this (sorry for the blackmail Jason!). Overall, it wasn't too bad except when it got too long.

Blast from the past: us in 2005 - sophomore year!
2005
 At a football game in 2006 I think. 

So being the typical girlfriend, I decided to intervene. My solution back in 2006 (or so) was to get it cut super short - and it's been that way ever since. With the new short hair, he also started to spike it a bit with some gel (sometimes) :

In Ecuador in 2011
 New Years 2011
 Family Beach trip awhile ago... 
 Spring 2009 - celebrating getting into PT school!

So, now's the fun part. After about 5 years with the same hairstyle, it was time for a change. After some time spent scouring the web for some decent guy haircuts, we found a few that we liked. In order to make it happen, Jason has been growing his hair out. Tomorrow, Jason is going to a REAL hair salon tomorrow to get his hair cut! I think this will be the first time he has gone anywhere except a barber or Great Clips! 

So, what's your vote? 

Option A: 

Option B: 

Option C: 

Option D:

We'll be back with pics tomorrow! :) 
________________________________

Update: Option A Won! Probably because Jason is OBSESSED with the Office and wants to be Jim Halpert... 

Yes, I documented by husband's first trip to the salon....
 And the BIG REVEAL! You can't really tell from this pic I took with my phone in Old Navy...but the hair cut is great! It is a lot more trimmed up on the sides! Mission Accomplished! :) 



Monday, August 22, 2011

What's Cooking? Cherry Cream Cheese Pie, Butterfinger Cake, & Fiesta Chicken!

*Before the summer ends, I must take a moment to remember the best Southern Plate recipes that we have enjoyed over the past few months. These three are winners because we have made them each more than once. I love that they are all SO delicious and SO easy to make!

First Up: Cherry Cream Cheese Pie
I made this for my sister Kristen's birthday in July. She is famous for from-scratch Cherry Pie, so she loved this! 

Ingredients:
  • 8 ounce pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (use the cheap stuff like me if you want, no shame in that!)
  • store bought graham cracker crust
  • 1 Can of pie filling of your choice (I love cherry or blueberry)
Instructions:
Make sure cream cheese is softened at room temperature to prevent pie from being lumpy. In mixing bowl, place cream cheese, condensed milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix until creamy and smooth. Spread into pie crust and cover. Refrigerate several hours. Top with pie filling and return to refrigerator until completely chilled. Serve cold.
*Note: This is a soft pie. It won't get firm so keep it in the refrigerator and serve cold.*


Next Up: ButterFinger Cake 
We first enjoyed this cake when my mom made it for Jason's 26th birthday - another post on that coming soon. It was so good we decided to try it ourselves and have already made it for others as well!
 Jason and S both have birthdays in the month of August, so we celebrate together!

Ingredients:
  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 bottle caramel topping
  • 1 can Condensed milk
  • 1 large tub cool whip
  • 1-2 Butterfinger bars
Instructions:
Prepare cake according to package directions. Immediately after removing cake from oven, poke several holes all over the top with a fork. Mix sweetened condensed milk and caramel together (it's going to seem like a lot - but this is what makes it so good!), pour over hot cake, spread it over the entire cake. Chill well. After cake has chilled completely, spread cool whip over the top and sprinkle crushed Butterfinger bar on top of cool whip.

Last, but not least: Fiesta Chicken (yes, we do eat real food too!) 
This has become my go-to recipe for when I take food to people (Babies born, sick, etc.) It is super easy and best of all, is made in the crock pot. I normally just set the crock pot out the night before, line it with Slow Cooker Liners (miraculous invention!), and set out the ingredients. Then in the morning, it's as simple as dumping in the ingredients, setting that bad boy on low, and you're done! We normally make some easy rice to round out the meal.


Ingredients:
  • 2-4 Chicken breasts (whatever you have on hand and however much meat you want to use)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (can use fat free)
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • cheese or other desired toppings
Instructions:
Place chicken breasts in bottom of slow cooker. Top with cream soup. On top of that add corn, black beans, salsa, and taco seasoning. Stir lightly. Cover with lid and cook on low 7-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours. When ready to serve, stir in your cooked rice. Serve with favorite toppings and enjoy! This heats up really well.

Thank You Southern Plate!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Favorite Cake of All Time: Red Velvet Cake Recipe

A few weeks ago, I had a very strong craving for Red Velvet Cake. Then, I realized I had never attempted to make my favorite type of cake from scratch myself! I searched high and low for an easy, yet delicious recipe. Most importantly, I decided that I was NOT going to hassle with layers, anyways, the easier this cake was to make, the faster it would end up in my mouth. So, when I saw Pioneer Woman's sheet cake version of Red Velvet Cake, I was sold. Up Next? Red Velvet Whoopie Pies.

BTW, our wedding cake was Red Velvet, top to bottom, with white frosting that looked like snow with snowflakes (we got married in December). We got our cake from Cecilia Villaveces Cakes in Athens, GA - famous for supplying the cakes at Last Resort. Here are some pics from down memory lane...




Oh yeah, and quick story about our wedding cake. After the wedding, my mom was really concerned because there was quite a bit of cake left, but when she asked the catering staff about it, they said they didn't know what had happened to it. For the entire week of our honeymoon we all thought the catering staff had eaten the rest of it without telling us. Well, the Vanishing Wedding Cake mystery was solved when we arrived back to our apartment in Athens (about 2 weeks after the wedding) to unpack our wedding gifts. At the bottom of the pile, was a white box with grease stains on it, when we opened it up, there was our cake! Totally gross, considering it was cream cheese frosting! We threw it away immediately, trying to forget the monetary value....Luckily, someone did get the top layer in the right hands and we enjoyed it about 1 month after our wedding.

So back to my attempt and recreate the un-recreatable... 

Here's my best attempt at photography while cooking, hopefully I'll improve in this skill! BTW- I love my Kitchen Aid, one of the best wedding gifts ever! I was astonished at how much red food coloring this recipe took - basically an entire bottle or tube. 
 And into the jelly roll pan!
 Finished, this is after I had my first slice. No, I wasn't patient enough for frosting...
 YUM!


Pioneer Woman's Red Velvet Sheet Cake
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Servings: 24
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Shortening
  • 1-¾ cup Sugar
  • 2-½ cups Cake Flour
  • 1-¼ teaspoon Salt
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1-½ teaspoon Vinegar
  • 1-½ ounce, fluid Red Food Coloring
  • 1-½ teaspoon Cocoa Powder
Preparation Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly spray a large (18 x 12) sheet cake pan (or you can use a slightly smaller jelly roll pan) with nonstick baking spray. Be sure to get in all the corners of the pan.
Sift together cake flour and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, stir together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and baking soda. Add vinegar and stir. Set aside.
In a separate small bowl, mix together cocoa and red food coloring. Set aside.

Cream together shortening and sugar until fluffy. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk/egg mixture until all combined. Pour the red mixture in and beat until combined.

Pour batter into prepared sheet cake pan. Use a large offset spatula or knife to even out the surface. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and allow cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Place a large cutting board on top of the cake pan, then invert the cake, allowing it to turn out onto the cutting board. Allow cake to cool completely before icing.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (I veered from Pioneer Woman on this...)

Ingredients:

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

ENJOY! 


Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Visit from the Elder Baareman's

So, we have been out of town since our last posts and then started working, me at Trinity Hospital for my clinical rotation, and Laura where she always works. But, we still were not able to recapture all of the July events before leaving for Hilton Head Island in the first week of August. So, without further ado...our last retro-post reflecting on July.

So I had just finished my finals and finished rehabbing our rental property because my parents were coming for a visit from Mississippi! They arrived on Friday night because they got stuck in Atlanta traffic (go figure). But it was good to see them because we hadn't seen them since May at our family reunion. So they got in that evening and soon Laura came home from work. We decided to try out this little Italian restaurant in town called Guiseppe's pizza. I had been there before with my brother when he visited, but we didn't get pizza. The pizza was excellent and we had a great time filling our bellies and solving all of the problems of the world. That night we came back and just hung out. Everyone was a little tired from traveling/working etc. So we all decided to call it quits on the day and grab some shut eye.

The next morning ushered in nice weather and yummy breakfast. It was a peaceful, relaxing morning without rush. However, Laura and I had to show the house that morning to some potential renters, so we had to leave my parents at home to fend for themselves for a little bit. After the morning showings we came back and had some lunch together. During our lunch of sandwiches and fruit and everything else I love for lunch, Laura and I received a few more phone calls of potential renters for later that afternoon. So we decided to squeeze in all the shopping that everyone wanted to do from after lunch to the showing. See, my parents live in Starkville Ms, which is a quaint little southern town, but there is just not much in the way of shopping for my mom. So when she comes for a visit, she gets super excited. So in like 3 hours we went to Target, Khol's, Babies R Us (for our friends Molly and Patrick - which we still have your gift!!), and the mall. Clothes and sunglasses and home decor was all purchased in our own effort to stimulate the economy. That evening we stopped by the The Fresh Market to pick some salmon and we grilled delicious maple salmon with steamed broccoli and rice for dinner. We capped off the night with several rounds of the game Phase 10, but had to finish it the next night.



Sunday rolled around and my parents came to Sunday School with us because I had to teach. We went to church that morning together and had a good time together. After church we ate some more lunch at home. Then we decided to head to Clarke's Hill Lake for the afternoon to do some hiking and laking which was fun...it was just blazing hot and humid. Eventually, giant thunderstorms developed and we heard the crackling of thunder of the lake. We decided to head back. On the way back though, my parents wanted to explore some of the neighborhoods of the area. That was no problem because Laura and I do the same things. So we took a very long detour from the lake back to the house, exploring all of these crazy new neighborhoods in Columbia County. We made it back in time for a dinner of leftovers and finished our game of Phase 10 in which I (Jason) was victorious!


Monday, was a very chill day. I just did some activities with my parents while Laura was at work. Then my mom wanted to have lunch with Laura for "girl time" so my Dad and I went to chick-fil-a and the hobby store. That night, the elder Baareman's treated us to a fantastic dinner at Frech Market Grille. We ate tasty food till we were filled to the brim. The next morning, my parents traveled back to Mississippi and we all fell back into our normal routines. It was a great visit and we had a lot of fun together. Now, finally, we have completed describing our life in the month of July and we can tell you about our fun vacation to Hilton Head Island with Laura's family! (we had to squeeze in all of the fun before we both started working which happened this past week.) Thanks for reading, and get ready for the Adventure's of Laura and Jason on Hilton Head Island!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Adventures on Hilton Head Island

So a few weeks ago, Laura and I vacationed on Hilton Head Island with Laura's family. The vacation came at a very welcome time because we had just rented out our rental house and I had just finished up my last academic semester of PT school. With the stress of all those big milestones done, traveling to the beach was much needed and very restful. But before we could get to the relaxing, we had to get there. Laura and I loaded up the car with our bags, games, outdoor games, beachy things, my kite, pretty much any fun thing that would fit in the highlander, and we topped it off with our bikes. We were excited to take the bikes because this would be the first time both of us would have our own bikes together to ride around the island on. It was awesome. With the closing of the trunk and the crank of the engine, we backed out of the driveway to take the 3ish hour trek to HHI. On the way to the condo we were staying at, Laura decided to stop at the Outlet Malls. This normally would have been ok with me on a normal day, but we decided to go during South Carolina's tax free back to school weekend. Ugh...traffic was horrible. I'll let this little video of me frustrated at the traffic speak for itself. I had to chuckle once the moment had passed.


After some shopping we headed onto the island to meet up with the fam. We stayed at a quaint little condo just a hop, skip and a jump from the beach. However, this quaint little condo surprisingly did not have any spoons, which made for eventful dining experiences. Also, 3 of the 4 burners on the stove were not working so we almost had to cook everything on the grill. Oh and there was no toaster. Needless to say, dining preparations took on a whole new level of calculation/preparation! So after dinner the first night, a Saturday, we just talked and hung out catching up on each other's lives. The next morning, we had a little family Sunday time and I had the privilege to give a little devotional. We talked about the story of Zaccheus, which the youngest sister quite seriously referred to as Ikea in her description of the story. Then the kids decided to sing a bunch of songs they sing in their kids church at home...which (shaking head in shame) I knew. You can never be to young right? That afternoon we all headed out to the beach to catch some waves, tan our hides, and cover our skin with sand. That's the one thing I don't like about the beach. The fact that sand just gets everywhere. Anyway, we had a blast, or should I say...a whale of a time;)


The rest of the week consisted of much the same routine. We would have breakfast, do some random things or decide what to do in the afternoon, and then do that activity. So throughout the course of the week we went to the beach, lounged and read our books by the pool. I was currently reading a book called "Preach and Heal" which has really impacted my life. If you are a healthcare professional who loves Jesus, I would highly recommend it. We all went on several bike rides together all over the island too. That is always fun, especially when we cross a street because it's like a mini parade. I'm sure it's quite a site to see 7 bikers all in a row from tallest to shortest. And of course the little ones are hilarious because the have to pedal around so much because their legs are small. Always a good time...except for the time that my sister-in-law lost control of her bike trying to protect a recently purchased starfish from the gift shop and crashed into a tree causing mild abrasions on the hand. Also, her recently purchased novelty dolphin ring to bent into her finger preventing it from coming off easily. Soap and water and a little brute force enabled the disfigured ring to be removed. But that was the only incident all trip! And I don't know if I mentioned it, but the whole week we were there, it was blazing. So after every activity, we were drenched in sweat and ready for the pool. The strenuous activities, even more so. For instance, one night we decided to play tennis. It was super fun, but I could barely hold onto the racket even with grippy tape and sweat would get in my eyes on every serve it seemed. But it's good to stay active even if you're on vacation right?

I call this one "The Vitality of Youth"
At Coligny Plaza
Intrepid Bikers

We did have one night of thunderstorms which was exciting. I always enjoy a good thunderstorm at the beach. I guess it's kind of cathartic to me except when your spouse has a super intense craving for ice cream. Yep, Laura, myself and Eric braved the harsh elements to reach Publix and purchase the ever precious and most important commodity of ice cream. Needless to say it was miserable. Lightning everywhere, sheets of rain, and loud thunder. Not to mention that we didn't have an umbrella so we got drenched on the way in to the store. And of course where did we have to go? The freezer aisle. Soaking wet. Brrr. And as we pulled in to the condo parking space, of course, the storm ended. It was an adventure though.

Another fun adventure was shopping with the kids for their souvenirs from the island. They were allowed to pick a souvenir to commemorate their trip to HHI. So we went to this very touristy area called Coligny Plaza which has a bunch of little shops full of overpriced Hilton Head novelties. And that is what kid's love. So they got random things like a pirate adventure set to seashells in a bottle. It brought me back though, to when my parents would do the same thing and probably bought the most ridiculous thing, thinking it was meaningful. So up to this point it had been a jam-packed 4 days of activities because Laura was going to be leaving for a friend's wedding in Colorado. So on early Wednesday morning (August 10) Laura packed up her things to fly to a completely different climate/region for the wedding festivities. I stayed behind and continued to vacation with me in-laws which was really fun. It's easy when you have awesome in-laws. I also got to spend lots of quality time with the kids and that means we played the card game "war" for hours and hours and went to the pool and even babysit so Eric and Karla could have a restful and peaceful date night. We also went to Savannah for a day!

On A Trolley
The clan by the Savannah River

After a week of vacationing, it was time to go home. We packed up the car. And we barely fit everything in because their was an extra person on the return trip...me. Fortunately, I didn't have too many things because we tried to pack most of our stuff in our car when Laura left for the airport. We squeezed it all in though and headed home. It was an eventful trip home with one incisor tooth being lost by the littlest sister around mile marker 137 (aka the middle of nowhere on I-16), one flat tire about 30 minutes from home, and one very excited dog named Roxy that was picked up from the kennel after the flat tire was fixed. We got back to Atlanta and Laura came home the next day, Sunday. That evening Kristen and Ben came over and we all had a tasty dinner of kabobs grilled by yours truly before heading back to Augusta to begin our normal routine of work and clinical. It was a good week. And Hilton Head is a fun place.

After Lunch at the Salty Dog Cafe
German Family Jakstadt plus an outsider who is Dutch




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