Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Swan Lake Christmas

So this was the year to spend actual Christmas up North at Tyge's parents home on Swan Lake. We packed up and left last Friday early afternoon and I was so excited to get up there! Something about being away from the cities and being at the "cabin" (it was their family cabin when they lived in the cities but his parents renovated and made it into their permanent home years ago) just relaxes me instantly. We arrived in time for dinner with his parents, aunt, and cousins who had brought Papa Murphy's by - perfect timing! Their home is just beautiful and Joen had it decorated for Christmas using all 27 of her decoration bins! I only have one large bin and one small one and keep threatening Tyge that mine will grow. :) Anyway, I snapped just a few pics of their home, though these don't do it justice:








Brian, Naomi and the kiddos arrived later on and we had some good time catching up before heading to bed for the evening. The next day was so nice - we got to sleep in (those of us without kids anyway!) and I loved coming out of my room there in my PJ's with no agenda for the day, well besides cuddling with sweet little Lark!




We took that time to open our gifts together and I loved watching our nephew JJ open his - the excitement of a two year old! He is obsessed with jammies and garbage trucks, so his joy in opening those gifts was so fun to watch. I got an awesome wok to cook in, a pretty sweater, necklace, a reflective running jacket among other things - spoiled again! So after we cleaned up our paper mess, Tyge, his dad Denny, brother Brian, JJ ,and I got our outdoor gear on and took the four wheelers down the road a bit to a park to play. We must have been quite the sight with Brian, JJ, and Denny on one four wheeler and Tyge, Keely, and me on the other! Keely was a good rider and looooved sniffing the air as we drove. We all played at the park and I loved pushing JJ on the swings as he said "I'm having so much fun!" over and over again - sweet boy! It was unusually nice out for late December so we took advantage and stayed outside awhile.

A very funny video Brian took of JJ swinging and us adults spinning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44a0UaQKXWM

When we got back we showered up and headed to Christmas Eve service at his parents church, followed by the traditional meal of ham, veggie pizza, potato salad and a million cookies at his grandpa and grandma's. We had a nice time chatting with his family there and stuffing our faces, which seemed to be the theme of the weekend for me. :)


Sunday morning we got up for Christmas Day service then had a quick break at home to snap some pictures.




We then headed to his aunt and uncle's across the lake for the family Christmas gathering. We had apps and drinks in the early afternoon and a full meal later on - I ate for 5 hours straight! I had some nice conversations with his cousins and family, we took more family photos, and we enjoyed playing a spinner game to hand out the gift certificates everyone bought to share.

 JJ won a chocolate bar!

 Spinner game in front of Ray & Suzanne's beautiful Christmas tree

The girls in their Christmas dresses (Lark and Adalyn - Tyge's cousin's little one)

Once home, we all put comfies on and watched the movie "The Grace Card" - a neat story about the grace and love of Jesus. After the movie we had a "family meeting" where we reviewed our goals from last year and set new ones for 2012 - it was great to connect that way and learn how we can support things that are important to each other in the upcoming year.

Monday morning we slept in again and the ladies hung out a but while the men had four wheeler races on the lake. Brian, Naomi, and the kids left early afternoon so Tyge and his folks and I went to Hibbing to see a movie. We saw War Horse, which I recommend - very good film! After that we met his aunt Jill and cousins Timmy and Travis to have a birthday dinner for Jill. Stuffed once again, we headed home and hung out for the rest of the night.

Tuesday was an awesome day starting with once again, sleeping in and breakfast, then we changed into outdoor gear to get ready for our hike! Tyge and his family leases 300 acres of deer hunting land that I've never been to, so we all (Keely included) piled into the Yukon and drove out there. We parked and walked around for a few hours - Keely had a ball! It was so neat to see the land he fondly talks about, and I so enjoyed walking around in the cool weather surrounded by beautiful scenery. Tyge got some great photos:

I'm having the best time, Mom!


 Wolf tracks - HUGE ones!


 Joen and me
(The bulge on my front is Keely's water bottle in my coat pocket, not the 25 cookies I ate - though it could partially be that...)


Pretty frozen stream


 My regal hunter girl


 Keely found a stick!




When we got back we cooked my yummy stuffed squashes for dinner and watched two more movies. I seriously wore the same red and white bottoms and red fleece sweatshirt every morning and night for 6 days straight - haha! We woke up Wednesday morning and had a delicious brunch ala Denny, worked from our laptops a bit, and packed up to head home.

Because this summer was so atypical with all they had going on, Tyge and I hadn't been up North since the 4th of July (together anyway, he had been for hunting). I really enjoyed the extended time we were able to spend there with his parents, brother and sister, and niece and nephew. Lots of laughs, plenty of QT, good food, too many cookies, mornings to sleep in, and evenings to count our blessings, of which there were many! Despite the tough year 2011 was for a few reasons (namely cancer and miscarriage) we all came out the other side more grateful, closer to Jesus, and closer to each other I believe.

Do we have to leave Mom? I love it at the lake!

Anyway, we're back at home now and have the rest of the week off. I'll work from home a bit, and have plenty to do before our NYE party on Saturday! Taking Christmas down (so sad!), cleaning the house, shopping for everything, end of year eye and dentist appointments, Notre Dame Bowl Game, dinner with another couple, then party time - lots to do in the next few days!


I'll be back to post in 2012 about our party - see you next year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas for Two!

We're home from a lovely six days up North celebrating Christmas with Tyge's family! It is good to be back home, but it was so nice to be up there with no to-do list, plenty of family time, relaxation time, fun time, outdoor time, just a great time overall! I'll be sure to do a post about it in the next few days, but for now I'm getting caught up on our Christmas celebration #3 - just Tyge and me!

We did "our" Christmas last Thursday night before heading up North on Friday. We started the evening off with a dinner I made of seared scallops (with EVOO, light butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice), oven roasted sweet potatoes (with EVOO, salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne) and pan roasted broccolini (with sesame oil, sesame seeds and a cool seasoning I got from my mom of crushed black and white sesame seeds, sea salt, and pepper). The scallops were such a treat and done just right - a yummy dinner!


After dinner we met Bridget and Ryan at our old church for their Christmas service - last year was awesome so we didn't want to miss this years! This church has some amazing musical talent and their Christmas service is more like a concert than your traditional service. For proof, here's a video of the final song - Little Drummer Boy, done Substance style:


When we got home we got to open presents, my favorite part! Not so much the getting but the giving - I got Tyge some cool things this year and couldn't wait to see his reaction! :) We started by giving Keely her present to keep her busy while we tore into the paper - a giant bully stick that she devoured entirely in the 30 minutes it took us to open gifts.



I'm in my Christmas PJ's, slippers on, hot cocoa in hand, tree lit, Christmas music on, read to open!


My pile to Tyge:



Tyge's pile to me - he wrapped them himself! :)


I got him some things he loved - an axe, range finder binoculars, a wild game cook book (I married a hunter!) and some boring things like new brown shoes. :) He did awesome with my gifts and got me a coat, purse, and he picked out a perfume for me! I love that he went to Macy's and sniffed around until he found one that reminded him of me - he decided on Burberry Body and it smells fantastic!


We had a great time opening presents together and having our own little Christmas celebration. I look forward to years to come when we hopefully have children to start new traditions with - that will make Christmas that much more special. However, for now I certainly enjoyed our Christmas for Two!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Two Thousand Decembers Ago

Happy Birthday Jesus and a Merry Christmas to all! I won't write a lot because the song and scripture stand for themselves. I love the following song because it illustrates what that night must have been like 2000 (or 2011!) Decembers ago.

2000 Decembers Ago
by Joy Williams
Did it feel like a night any different
Then at least a million before
Was there any rare expectation
Like there was some kind of somethin' in store
Did the sky have to hold back the thunder
Did the moon find new reasons to glow
Could the children somehow sense the wonder
2000 Decembers Ago

Were the sheep as amazed as the shepherds
At the new star that lite up the sky
Did the willow trees whisper excitement
To the rivers and streams passing by
Did the joy ricochet off the mountains
'Til it filled up the valleys below
Did all the world sense love abounding
2000 Decembers Ago

Was anyone able to look at the stable
And not see a child but a King
I wish I could hear back over the years
As heaven & nature sing, heaven and nature sing.
Did the walls of the barn start to tremble
With a glory they could not contain
Did anyone wake with the feeling
Of peace that they could not explain
Oh the love must have been overwhelming
As it warmed everyone in its flow
For all of the earth is still telling
Of 2000 Decembers ago

Was anyone able to look at the stable
And not see a child but a king
I wish I could hear back over the years
As heaven and nature sing, heaven and nature sing
Oh the love must have been overwhelming
2000 Decembers Ago

One of my favcorite scriptures from Isaiah, talking about the birth of Jesus and what it would mean for us:

Isaiah 9:2-7
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

And finally, the Christmas story, as told in Luke:
 
 
Luke 2:8-14
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

I hope everyone takes a moment to remember the reason for the season - the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. What an amazing and awe-inspiring thing - we are forever changed and forever blessed because of HIM!
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and gets to celebrate this special holiday surrounded by loved ones!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Company Christmas Party

One week ago today was my company's Christmas (Holiday? I celebrate Christmas so I'll say that) party - I'm just now getting around to blogging about it!

My boss plans the evening portion of the party (will get to that later) and does an awesome job! Our company is big on philanthropy and lets everyone take a "Volunteer Day" each year, so I thought last Thursday would be the perfect day to do that as a team and give back to our MN community. After doing some research, I found the organization Second Harvest Heartland and signed us all up for a shift there.

"Second Harvest Heartland works to reinvent hunger relief through leadership and innovation. As the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief organization, our goal is not only to help our hungry neighbors today, but to provide the means for everyone to be fed tomorrow. We’re known for distributing great amounts of food quickly and efficiently; in 2010 alone, we collected, warehoused and distributed more than 70 million pounds of food—but we’re also constantly pioneering ways to reduce waste and better use the abundant resources available in this land of plenty. Working with our network of partners, volunteers and donors as well as people like you, our 86,300 square feet of dry, refrigerator and freezer space is constantly accepting and distributing donations. Our fleet of trucks travels nearly half a million miles a year, picking up food donations and delivering them to local food shelves, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, senior community centers and children's after school programs."

We went to the nearby packing warehouse and the Director gave a small talk about who they are, what they do, and what our volunteer service means. He told a story of a letter he got from a local food shelf worker the week before that brought me to tears. Apparently, they got a overage shipment of Godiva chocolates one day and portioned those out to be deliver to the food shelters. The food shelf worked handed some out to an elderly lady, 80+ years old, and she excitedly unwrapped one, took a bite, and tears of joy streamed down her face. She said she hadn't had chocolate in 20+ years because it just wasn't in the budget, as she had to provide for her family and grandchildren first and couldn't afford treats for herself. As I sat there with my Coach purse on my lap, I felt so incredibly blessed - we really are among the richest in the world and have no idea how good we have it...

So we spend the morning until noon packing tortillas - there's a manufacturer in MN who makes McDonald's tortillas and drops the thousands of rejected ones (that were perfect in my eyes!) off at the warehouse every Tuesday and Thursday. The volunteers sort them, package them into bags of 12, seal them, and box them up to be frozen and delivered. As I was working, I just kept thinking about the families that would be receiving these and use them as a staple in their meal. I often don't eat tortillas because they're too "carby" but I felt so selfish when I realized how blessed I was to have that choice! I started praying over the food and praying for the families that would be making dinner with them. It was neat how everyone worked as a team doing something outside the office - it felt good to give back! After the tortillas were all done (thousands packed!) we sorted through some potatoes that had recently come in from a local farm and were going bad. We had to sort them good and bad, placing them in bins. Again, as we were saying that they were "gross" I was struck with the fact that, here we were complaining about the bad potatoes while the family who gets them will be so thankful. Around that time a warehouse worker there came over to say hi and commented that no matter how bad things are, they can always be worse, so we can count ourselves lucky to be where we are. Really puts things into perspective and I was grateful for the experience - I can't wait to do it again next year!

Me and Sus in hairnets (I had to wear two cause I have so much hair!)


The brave boys, Paul and Charlie, in their ugly Christmas sweaters

 
The team (Sus, Matt, Paul, me, Jeff, John and Charlie - missing Sarah, Sandi and Bryn) with all the boxes of tortillas we packed up for the food shelves

So we headed back to the office to work for a bit then got in our part gear and went down to the 508 to play Loaded Questions - my favorite! I love playing with our small and close team, it's really funny to see and guess what everyone says. A few rounds of that and Sarah told us to wait outside where our ride was waiting - a stretch limo! She had champagne waiting for us and we had a great time driving around the city for a few hours, looking at lights, laughing, and singing along to the radio. :)

 

Paul and I are excited to be in a limo!


Cheers in the limo


Pit stop at Tony Jaro's for Greenies

 
The ladies - recruiter Sus, boss Sarah, and me

 
Me and Charlie - good thing he has long arms!

After the limo tour, we ended the evening with dinner at Manny's Steakhouse where we all enjoyed steak, lobster, potato and veggie sides. We all commented on how it was quite the juxtaposition from the morning we had - packing food for those in need while we were stuffed with excess of the most expensive food! Paul made a good point when he said that the point of volunteering/service isn't to make you feel guilty for what you DO have, but to motivate you to do more with what you have, including your time! I think the morning impacted us all and I really look forward to serving with my team again next year.

It was a great day from morning to night and I was grateful to be able to give back and also celebrate the success of our team this year, while looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bridget's Chicken Parm

Poor Tyge has been working crazy hours lately so I wanted to make something yummy for him to enjoy at dinner last night, but also easy to make as I also got home late - enter "Bridget's Chicken Parm"! I call it that because my friend Bridget brought over all the fixings and taught me how to make it a year or so ago, and I've made it several times since (thanks, B!). I usually have all the ingredients on hand, it takes around 30 minutes to make, it's healthy, filling, and YUMMY!

Bridget's Chicken Parm
Serves 2 plus leftovers :)

Ingredients:
  • 7-8 thawed chicken tenders (or 3 breasts cut into chunks)
  • 1 egg
  • splash skim milk
  • seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • oregano to taste
  • minced garlic to taste
  • handful raw spinach (not normally used, but I added a handful before baking for some extra veggies)
  • reduced fat shredded Swiss or other cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, make the sauce mixture by combining diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, oregano, and minced garlic. Set aside.

                            



3. Whisk egg and milk together and spread bread crumbs on a pan. Dip chicken tenders into egg mixture then coat with crumbs on both sides.


4. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil a medium sized frying pan and layer the chicken pieces in the pan. Sear on high for 3-4 minutes per side, flipping only once. Before flipping over, mist a small amount of OO spray over the top of the chicken pieces.


5. If desired, throw a handful of fresh spinach on top of the chicken, then spoon the tomato mixture on top, making sure it is evenly spread throughout the pan.


6. Top tomato mixture with an even amount of shredded cheese and place in uncovered in the oven to bake. Let bake for 15-20 minutes so tomato mixture is heated throughout and cheese is brown and bubbly.



It certainly doesn't need an additional carb to the bread crumbs, but I served mine over whole wheat linguine with a small side salad. A quick and delicious dinner for two!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A South Dakota Christmas

Once again, I failed my blogging goals last week...I didn't post 4 times, didn't post a meal, AND didn't get to my March trip post. I started out on this thing writing all the time and I don't know what's happened! Oh wait, I do - the month of December offers me NO margin whatsoever. :) I hope to post a bit more this week but make no promises - I have a lot going on (again) this week before we do Christmas with Tyge's family. I love this time of year, I really do, I just don't have a lot of spare time!

Anyway, this past weekend we had my side of the family's Christmas gathering in South Dakota. We headed to my parents house on Friday and had a meal and opened gifts with them. Tyge got some really cool camera gear and I got some beautiful sweaters, perfume (plus some other awesome things) - my parents know us well! We spent the night there and got up early to drive to Sioux Falls for the early afternoon potluck gathering. We all drove together (Keely too!) in my Acadia with Tyge driving, Mom in the front, and Dad and I in the back. We were listening to Christmas tunes and chatting away, and an hour in Dad and I closed our eyes for a snooze in back. A bit later, we woke up in Iowa.

Now to get to SD we take 35E South to Interstate 90 West - Tyge had missed the turn and drove 40 miles further South before noticing. My mom and him were chatting up front and he really doesn't know the drive all that well, so it was an honest mistake. He felt horrible about it and I feel bad because my parents and I certainly didn't try to make him feel bad, but we brought it up a few times. Oops. We called my uncle saying we'd be a bit late and they said they'd hold the meal until we got there. The rest of the drive went smoothly and we rolled into SF just 30 minutes later than expected (Tyge hauled the rest of the way!). We were literally ONE block from my uncle's house when we ran out of gas. Yup, the gas light had gone off but we figured we were okay and just wanted to get there since we were already late but lo and behold, we ran out. Thankfully we coasted through the intersection and parked on the side of the road where we again, called and explained. We waited there a few minutes until we saw my other uncle (the farmer!) drive up in his pickup with a gas can to save us! Once again, we were on our way to the gathering and managed to make it the final block without problem. We walked in and were greeted with smiles and hugs, a glass of wine for me, and a whiskey for Tyge, haha! It was so great to see everyone and once we were there, the frustrating trip down there faded away.

We ate our share of food and did a fun activity where everyone went around and shared their favorite Christmas memory. It was neat hearing everyone's memory, and many of my favorite memories were with my 12 cousins growing up! We're all older now and many have their own families so we don't all get together much anymore, but when we do it is so special. We also opened the yearly monetary gift from Grandpa, which he insists we SPEND and not save, and let him know what we did with it. With full bellies and happy hearts, we all say around reminiscing, laughing, and telling tales. After everyone left for the night, Tyge and I went out downtown Sioux Falls with a few of my cousins. Again, we had a great time and stayed out a bit too late but it was worth it as I rarely see them!

Saturday morning Tyge and Dad got up to hunt at the farm, and Mom and I had a nice lunch with Grandpa. His apartment was decorated so nicely with all the wreaths and things Grandma picked out, and I can see her there even though she's gone. He had all the Christmas cards he's received proudly displayed on the table and it was neat to look through those. He was particularly chatty that day and told some stories from the war that I'd never heard before. For the most part, he can talk about Grandma now without crying, so we shared some memories of her as well. I guess holidays get easier each year without her but I still miss her presence, smile, smell, and voice and I can only imagine how Grandpa must feel...

So after lunch and visiting, Mom and I drove out to the farm to once again eat with the hunters. My aunt had made a pot of chili that we enjoyed and got to hear about the day. They only got 1 bird but hunting outside in 50 degree weather in DECEMBER is unheard of so they enjoy walking the fields! Weeks ago I was worried that Keely (not Tyge or my dad, but the dog) would freeze out there but it was as warm as the opener! My cousin also took Tyge and I around to the cattle fields to see all the new calves they were immunizing - what an awesome operation they have going! It was cool to hear all they do and we'd love to come back in April for the birthing season.

We left the farm and headed back to SF, where we retired to our hotel rooms for a nice long NAP - even the dog was passed out and exhausted. When we woke up, we went across the street to Buffalo Wild Wings for a few apps, then had plans to play games in the hotel before bed but were just so tired we went to bed. We got up at 6 AM yesterday and drove home in time for Tyge to work after lunch - it's a crazy time of work for him too! I cleaned and did some laundry, wrapped the rest of the presents, and had dinner ready for my hunny when he came home before chilled and watched the season finales of Dexter and Homeland (what will we do on Sunday nights now?!).

It was a nice weekend away and I can't say enough how much I love spending time with my family during this time of year. I also look forward to being with Tyge's side to celebrate the season a few days from now!

PS - Sorry for another long, no picture post. My mom took all the pics this weekend and I need to get them from her!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

3TT

Pinned Image

Three Things I'm Thankful/Excited For (in addition to Hot Cocoa):
1. My family's Christmas gathering this weekend - I love nothing more than being with family during this season season! Christ is the reason for the season, and family is who it's best shared with (for me anyway)!


2. My company holiday party this Thursday - we've had a great 2011 as a team and I'm excited to celebrate it! I've personally worked really hard this year and have had my best year yet (missing President's Club by ONE person...) so am excited to have a night with my team to have some fun and reflect on the good year, as well as look forward to the year ahead.


3. In general, I'm just so thankful for all we have - Tyge and I so blessed to not be in need or even WANT this Christmas season. In Boyd's sermon on Sunday he pointed out that if a family of four makes $50,000 a year, they are in the top 10% of wealth globally. While we may not always feel wealthy, we ARE wealthy by global standards. He also noted that when it comes to wealth, people want to compare themselves to the 5% that are richer than them and not the 95% that are poorer than they are. It really puts things into perspective on just how blessed we really are and I'm excited to share that "wealth" with others this Christmas season.

Three Things I'm Praying For:
1. Safety as we travel to SD this weekend - on the road and in the fields.

2. Health of family members - brother, nephew, mom, and husband have all had some health problems in one way or another this past week and I'm praying for full recoveries!

3. Layoffs at BSC - they are doing another round of layoffs tomorrow. Tyge should be okay but I pray for those who do get let go during this Christmas season.


With eyes on Him,
Kate

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Easy Egg Bake & Weekend Recap

Wow this weekend, and last WEEK, flew by! I can't believe I haven't blogged since Tuesday - oops! I have some ideas of posts to write and kept meaning to do it all week so I hope to get them out this week. Anyway, work has been too busy lately for me to blog over lunch and our weeknight schedules have been to busy for me to do it then, but thankfully I have a little downtime now. Aaaahhhh, Sunday evenings are my favorite. I'm sitting here in my cozy Christmas PJ's with just the glow of the tree, watching my lab play with the ornaments with her nose, sipping hot cocoa, and blogging a bit before Dexter comes on. Love.

video
I may have encouraged her just a bit. And the shooting noise you may hear in the background is Tyge playing Call of Duty in the basement - don't worry! :)


Anyway, I had a good weekend! Friday night was shockingly a quiet night in - no plans! I managed to get all 80+ Christmas cards stuffed, addressed, sealed, and ready to mail - so glad to have that done! Check one thing off the goal list (cause I'm not doing super at the rest haha). I also cleaned the house a bit for my ladies brunch the next day before heading to bed a bit early, as Tyge is starting to get sick. :-/ 

On Saturday I had Betsy, Maggie, Michelle, and Lori over for a ladies Christmas brunch. I love this group of ladies and I love how we all came to be friends! Betsy is my best friend (Hardcore BFF to be exact) of 26 years and the other ladies were her college roommates and friends. She introduced me to them and they just "accepted" me into their little circle and I couldn't be more grateful! I just love the time I get to spend with them - it is always so uplifting and FUN, and at the same time they challenge me to be a better wife and person.
I love these women! Pic from summer 2010 - we forgot to take a pic this weekend!


We all contributed to the brunch and the spread was amaaazing - egg bake (I made my go-to easy and healthy version below), bacon, fruit, homemade blueberry scones, homemade granola bars, juice and coffee. We enjoyed eating together around the table and just laughing and having great conversation. We also did a small gift exchange and I got a yummy new pine candle and festive red sparkly nail polish.

The spread!

Easy Veggie Egg bake
Serves 10

Ingredients:
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 potato
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 green onions, chopped (dark parts only)
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • goat cheese
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oregano
Directions:
  1. Preheat over to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash and slice potato using a mandolin slicer. Layer slices in a 9x13 inch glass pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 15 minutes until edges start to brown. Decrease oven heat to 375 degrees.
  3. While potatoes are baking, chop veggies and set aside. When potatoes come out of oven, layer raw veggies on top of potato layer and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl mix eggs and milk with salt, pepper and oregano to taste. Pour egg mixture over veggies and shake pan a bit to spread the mixture around.
  5. If desired, sprinkle goat cheese (I did) or other shredded cheese to taste.
  6. Bake uncovered at 375 for 35 minutes or until eggs are set in the middle and a toothpick comes out clean.

Easy, healthy, and delicious!

After the ladies left early afternoon, I fed Tyge some leftovers (he vacated while the ladies were over), cleaned up a bit, then got busy wrapping presents! Keely tried to help, which was distracting, albeit cute.

I recommend this pink paper here, Mom. It smells nice.

I got everything done and under the tree and made myself a quick dinner (chicken taco leftovers from Tyge's birthday dinner evening with friends!) as Tyge had left for an evening with some guy friends. At the last minute, my mom got her and me tickets for the evening to the VocalEssence Welcome Christmas concert in Stillwater. She came over and we drove to the church where they were performing - downtown Stillwater is so cute this time of year! The show was amazing - I forgot just how much I enjoy good choral music. It was mostly Christmas carols sung in French, and the choir and orchestra were so good. We had front row seats which was something I'd never done - such a treat to be that close! The highlight of the show was a female and boy soprano duet as Mary and Jesus - very moving and the boy's voice was seriously like an angel. After the concert, my mom and I had a quick bite and glass of wine at Luna Rossa in Stillwater and got to catch up a bit, which was nice.

Today Tyge and I went to church then had a meeting for our "mystery March trip" (that I promise to blog about this week). It went a little later than expected so I dropped him off at home before making my Sunday Costco run - poor guy is starting to get sick and when he gets it, he gets it bad. We relaxed for a few hours this afternoon/evening and are about to watch Dexter and Homeland before bed. I have a busy week coming up with work and fun Christmas social activities, so I better rest up! Hope everyone else had a nice weekend, too!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tyge!

In lieu of today's 3TT post, I'm posting about the BIGGEST thing I'm thankful for in my life day in and day out - my husband. Today is Tyge's 29th birthday so I want to say Happy Birthday to the man God created just for me! It has been so awesome to celebrate now five birthdays with him and I look forward to many more.

I don't need to do a recap of our story in this post, share a million pictures of his handsome face, or reiterate why he's so amazing, but I do want to say how especially blessed I've been by him since his last birthday. We have gone through some tough stuff in the past year with his brother getting (and beating!) cancer and our miscarriage. Don't get me wrong - we've also had many blessings, done some amazing things together, and made awesome memories since his last birthday, but he's really shown his strength throughout the trials we've gone through.

Simply put, Tyge is my rock. I don't know how I would have made it through any of this without him. He is the one who listens to me with open ears, calms me down with a loving hug, knows exactly what to say to say to make me feel better and knows when silence is the best thing. He has offered me some great advice and been strong for me when I wasn't able to be strong myself. He has been so patient in helping me go through the ups, downs, and in between emotions I've experienced throughout this trial. He always encourages me to look at the joy in all things, even and especially trials (James 1:2-4). He challenges me to be the best version of myself I can be and truly brings out the best in me.

So Happy Birthday to you Tyge - my travel partner, my dinner date, my confidant, my shoulder to cry on, my constant laughter, my biggest supporter and cheerleader, the best current pet parent and future kid parent I know, my comforter, my strength, my husband and my best friend! You are my true example of Philippians 1:3 and I do thank my God every time I remember you - which is often!

I could stare at that face all day long - he's SO handsome :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tyge's Birthday Dinner Date - La Belle Vie

Tyge's birthday is next week, so I took him on a surprise dinner date last night to celebrate! I've been trying to top his first birthday date I ever took him on and think I just might have with this one. I set the bar really high for his first birthday we were together in 2007 - I was in Boston for a work trip and he came out to meet me so I treated him to a 6 course tasting meal plus wine flights at Top of the Hub. It was the best meal I'd ever had and I have been trying to come up with something to beat that meal ever since - I think last night's did just that! 


We went to La Belle Vie in Minneapolis for their 8 course tasting menu and wine flight pairing (to be honest, I had hopes that I wouldn't be able to partake in the wine flight portion but was bittersweetly glad that I could). We got there a bit early and had a cocktail in their lounge - their drink menu is so creative! The ambiance there is very romantic and intimate and they were all decorated for Christmas. At 7:00 we went into the dining room and they greeted us with a prime table (they seat couples side by side - I love that!) and a menu that read "Happy Birthday Tyge" - how special!



 
The food was phenomenal - I didn't want it to end! The wine complemented the dishes and we found a few new favs. Our server was very engaging and knowledgeable which made the dinner that much more enjoyable. Overall, the three hour meal was just a treat from start to finish and I highly recommend it for a special date night! (Please excuse the crappy cell phone pics - they seriously do not do justice to the food! I wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible and didn't want a flash going off.)

An aperitif from the chef to start the meal


Course 1 - paired with a Spanish Cava
Nantucket Bay Scallops with
Pickled Persimmon and Radish

Course 2 - paired with a California Chardonnay (surprisingly my fav wine)
Sautéed Trout with
Glazed Butternut Squash,
Brown Butter and Sage Pesto

(The fav dish for us both!)

Course 3 - paired with a German Riesling
Pan Roasted Poussin with
Broccoli Rabe, Apple
and Braised Pork Belly

Course 4 - paired with a subtle Italian red
Duck Tortelli with Celery Root
Fondant, Foie Gras
and Black Truffle

Course 5 - paired with a heavy Spanish red (Tyge's fav wine)
Grilled Lamb Ribeye with
Morcilla, Yellow Turnip
and Brussels Sprouts

Course 6 - paired with a '97 French white dessert wine for me, red for Tyge
Chimay á la Bière with
Black Mission Fig Bread and
Candied Sunflower Seeds

Course 7
Haralson Apple Sorbet with
Brown Sugar Panna Cotta
and Apple Cider Gelée

Course 8 - paired with another French white dessert wine
Carrot Gingerbread with
Carrot Chiffon Mousse and
Cherry-Whiskey Gelée


We ended the meal with a latte for me/espresso for Tyge, and they brought us out a plate of assorted petit fours as a thank you for dining with them!



It was seriously one of the best date nights we've ever had and I am so thankful to have an adventurous husband who enjoys trying new foods and wine with me. The long meal afforded us some much enjoyed conversation and it was so fun to get dressed up for a nice date. Isn't he handsome?