Tuesday, July 16, 2013

28 Spoilers about my 28th Year {A Birthday Post to Me}

My birthday is today! 

I am turning 28 and it feels so old! A lot has been happening in my life lately and it has led to some reflection about the past year. I decided to write this list for my birthday. 

28 spoilers I would have given myself about my 28th year:


Dear Chelsea, 

This is your future self and here are a few things I wanted to spoil for you about the upcoming year. By the end of it, you'll have lived 10,227 days. Ready to hear some of what is coming?

This coming year:

1. You will take the bar exam for your second state during this year. It will be just as bad as the first time. You will survive. You will swear to never take it a third time. Dear Lord, please let that be true!

2. You will celebrate your second wedding anniversay shortly after turning 27. It will be the beginning of the toughest and most worthwhile year of your relationship thus far. At the end, you'll realize you love your husband more than you ever thought possible. You will also be more attracted to him than ever before..... at 28, this has not yet resulted in a pregnancy but you've been warned.

3. You will have the opportunity to assist your mom by offering her a place to rest and rejuvenate in the winter. This time will confirm the desires you have to use your home as a place for ministering to others and will lead you to explaining to a realtor why you need a four bedroom home but don't have plans for children. She won't get it.... pursue it anyways.

4. By the time you turn 28, your three oldest friends will all be mothers. It will make you love and admire each of them more than you ever thought possible. They will all be excellent at it and create incredibly attractive kiddos. It will make you cry to realize how loving them has brought so many other wonderful people into your life to love. It will be overwhelming and make you a weepy baby face. Just enjoy it.

5. Your high school boyfriend intentionally conceives a child this year. This will freak you out way more than number 4. 

6. Neither 4 or 5 will stir in you a desire to be pregnant yourself. You'll think about this a lot and sway back and forth attempting to determine what it means. You will try to convince Will of the extreme measures that should be taken to reconcile however you feel about it depending on the day. He will stay sane and refuse to give in your nutty ideas. He will love you for your craziness. He'll say things like, "Hmmm, let's talk about this tomorrow." You'll thank God every night for his normalcy. 

7. Remember how you used to be able to eat anything you wanted as often as you wanted and not gain weight... well, that ends this year. Bummer. 

8. You will reconnect with your little sister Dani this year, after missing way too many years of each other's lives. She will have the most adorable kids you've ever seen and her daughter will melt your heart with how much she reminds you of her mom at age 5. You will resist diving into this relationship out of confusion and some fear. Stop it. You're wasting precious time.

9. You'll spend your husband's birthday in Vegas this year. It will be an interesting trip. It will also make you feel too old for Vegas birthdays. 

10. You'll watch your Dad Dan make a brave career move this year and start over in a completely new field. You'll be so proud of him and the adventure he and Jenny will embark on. It will make you realize that life is long and experiences are vast. Who knows what you have to look forward to?!

11. You will embrace the local agriculture industry that surrounds you in Idaho and become obsessed with mobile butchering units, whole cow processing and other things that had I told you when you were 22, you would have laughed in my face. This does not help your food-hoarding tendencies.

12. For the first time in your life, you will begin to enjoy doing physical things that scare you. This will lead to diving into waterfalls with Scott and Will, jumping off a rope swing in Bayview and a new shocking roller coaster addiction. It will also increase your courage while skiing. But, just so you know, you're still being a giant baby about that last one.

13. You will observe and deal with some really tough things at work this year. A few defendants will leave a lasting impression on you because of their stories and case outcomes. You'll begin to spend a lot of your time in Court in prayer. You will also realize that to do this type of work for much longer, you need compatriots. Make it a priority to find this community in your next job right away. 

14. You'll have a conversation with your Dad Scott this year about grace. It's one of the moments you'll see later when your life flashes before your eyes. In other words, it's a good one, hang on to it.

15. Chels, this one sucks: You will have your first frenemy this year. It is horrible and decimates your self-esteem and trust in women. Fortunately, you have a life full of incredibly genuine and loyal women who will remind you what friendship with females can really be like. Hang in there. It gets better. Focus on the good ones and leave the rest behind.

16. For the first time in many years, you will have some disposable income again this year. This leads to you buying shoes... online.. when bored at work. Judging by the number of shoes you own by the time you turn 28, your job is not as challenging as it should be. 

17. You will get to spend a week with your in-laws in Idaho this year and your sweet nephew Wyatt. You will reflect several times on how lucky you are to have fit so seamlessly into the family of the man you love. They are like the best free gift with purchase ever created!

18. You get to spend a girl's weekend in California while your smarty pants friend Lauren attends a medical conference. You'll walk around like a proud parent all weekend because you can see how fabulous everyone else thinks she is and you know she is YOUR friend. You'll also get to find out in person that Bethany is pregnant! You will be there the moment LJ and Booth's babies meet for the first time, in utero. It's pretty awesome. On the downside, you'll be drinking alone all weekend.

18. You will get to spend Christmas with two of your nephews and send gifts to your other niece and 2 nephews. Christmas with little guys is the best. Lifelong spoiler alert: Being an aunt is one of the best things you ever do with your life. Makes being a sister even more awesome than before. 

18. You will travel to Seattle, Huntington Beach, Boise, Jackson Hole, Denver, Spokane and North Idaho throughout the year. All super fun trips with people you love. PS: Your husband owes you an international trip..... ahem. 

19. You will spend a lot of your time in Twin Falls this year playing tennis. Shocker.... you won't totally suck at it.

20. You will adore getting to dance all night while your husband DJ's. You'll have to dance alone a lot but you become a great hype man. Plus, he saves the last song each night to dance with you and that's pretty awesome. You find some pretty great buddies this way also.

21. This too fun DJing also usually ends with you both eating Jack in the Box in bed at 3 am. Let's keep that part between us.

22. You'll spend a weekend in Boise with just your hubby watching tennis and exploring. It will be your favorite trip of the whole year. Does everyone get lucky enough to marry their best friend?

23. You'll attend the centennial reunion at Gonzaga and catch up with law school buddies for the first time post-graduation. It will be the first time you genuinely take pride in being an alum of an educational institution and the gratitutde you feel to GU will be a bit surreal. Also, returning will make you realize you met some amazing people while in Spokane and that part of your heart still lives there. 

24. You'll temporarily decide to move to an island in the Pacific Ocean this year. You'll realize leaving behind so many people you love doesn't sound as fun as it used to. When your sister says she wants you to move home, it will literally gut you. Makes number 25 all that much sweeter.

25. You will be hired as a Public Defender before your 28th birthday. This one I really wish I could go back and assure you about. It will take 8 months. You will give up on yourself and your dreams 10 times over before it happens but it DOES happen. 

26. Number 25 will make you realize that the dreams and hopes that were birthed in Oakland 8 years before have come to fruition. This will leave you in a heap on the bathroom floor overwhelmed by God's faithfulness. It will also leave room in your heart for new dreams. I can't spoil what those are yet....ask me at 29.

27. Towards the end of the year, you'll be so excited about moving home to Denver you can't even stand it but you will be leaving behind some really fun memories in Twin and some very special people who made the time fly by. 
28. Hang on because year 29.... it's a good one. 

* Chelsea

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tomato Pie

How can these not be good for you? Oh right....
So I watched this documentary this weekend about how bad Americans' diets are and how we get plenty of calories but zero nutrition. It was very informative and afterwards I spent an hour researching masticating juicers, convinced that vegetable juicing could solve all of my personal problems, probably the entire world's at that. I almost bought one until I remembered I don't have $450 to spend on uni-tasking kitchen appliance. I then did our grocery shopping and bought enough fresh vegetables to make juice all week.... except we don't own the juicer.... not sure what my plan is there.

So after all of this juicing nonsense you can imagine Sweet Hubby's surprise when he came home to this not-pureed-or-juiced looker of a tomato pie for dinner tonight. I must have gone South last night in my dreams because it was accompanied with pork chops, coleslaw, and iced tea. I also apparently invested in mayonnaise stock.

But seriously.... TOMATO PIE people. Let me list off the ingredients for you, because you are clearly not excited enough yet. Ummm, tomatoes. Obviously. Sharp cheddar cheese. Mayonnaise. Green onions. Pie crust. And Bacon! Helllllllo calorie town. Also known as delicious-ness town..... and your documentary was informative but obviously not life-changing town.

Can you please come over and eat this so I'm not the only resident of the above town?
* Chelsea

Tomato Pie
Lightly adapted from Taste of Home

What you'll need:
1 cup Mayonnaise
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (use a good sharp one)
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 large beefsteak tomatoes (1-3/4 pounds), cut into 1/4-inch slices
4 Bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. 
2. Make a pie crust or use a store bought crust. Par-bake empty pie shell for 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
3. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, cheese, green onions and herbs. Arrange one-third of the tomatoes in crust; spread with one-third of the mayonnaise mixture. Repeat layers twice. 
4. Bake 25 minutes. Top with bacon; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until filling is bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Making decisions.... grown up style.

I'm taking a break from my food obsession today to talk about decision making. Let's tag this post recipes for a happy life!

Sweet Hubby and I are approaching a transition point and have some big decisions to make about where our life will head next. This post is less about the actual decision we'll be making and more about how we process decisions as people and as couples. Since being married, I've found decision making to take on a whole new weighty quality. Its not that I've ever been very impulsive or irresponsible, I mean I am the girl whose favorite activity on an iphone is list-making. But in my former life, decisions were focused on MY goals, my desires and my needs. Often those were somewhat altruistic as well, but when it came down to it, I went and did what I wanted to do because I wanted to do it. Then....

Helloooooooo marriage!

and it begins... 
You want to save up money for new tires and shocks for a CAR? seriously? You want to spend our honeymoon as far North of the Equator as possible? Arg. You want to go mountain biking instead of cleaning out the garage Saturday morning? What the what?!

But, y'know what? We did all those things. And Hubs has done a million and one things for me that I'm sure his unspoken response to initially included a lot of these: #*&@$. I come up with some crazy ideas people. Ahem, peaches.
But I want this doggie!!!
I think decisions like those above are about compromise and learning to value each other's priorities and letting each other pursue the things they love (sometimes alone).

But what about the decisions where there is no compromise and communal consensus is required? Like where to live, whether to buy a house or start a family. Those decisions have to be made together.

For us, at this time in our lives, it's been about speaking up and voicing what we really want and why. It has also been about finding common ground where we can both achieve what our hearts really desire and sometimes that has included re-envisioning how we thought life should look.

I'd love to hear how you all do it... how you build consensus in a marriage composed of two different people. It is definitely fun learning.. and scary... and exciting. But it does make me feel like a grown up.

Together forever and ever and ever and ever....

PS: I wrote this post a few weeks ago and just now got around to adding pictures and posting. Some of you reading this might feel like you just entered a time warp.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stuffed Taco Peppers

Are you getting as antsy for Spring as I am? I'm loving all the bright colors that are coming out this season and can't wait for the grass to green and flowers to bloom. I also look forward to Spring as my tastes in food begin to lighten from stews and roasts to salads and Mexican food!

These stuffed peppers were such a good find. I doctored up the recipe I found in my Taste of Home cookbook. My low-carb hubby loved getting to eat tacos without a tortilla or shell. They are super easy to make and look fancy and delicious.

Make them and let me know what you think!


Stuffed Taco Peppers

What you'll need:

4 large red peppers
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 can rotel tomatoes
1 can chili beans (or kidney beans if you prefer)
1 packet taco seasoning (or our favorite Penzey's bold taco seasoning)
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
2-3 green onions, chopped

What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Bring pot of water to a boil. Cut tops off peppers. If they are very large you can slice them in half vertically as well, like I did in the pictures. Remove seeds and membranes. Cook in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Drain and rinse in very cold water. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, cook beef with the taco seasoning and the amount of water as directed on the seasoning packet. I like to add the water and seasoning before browning the beef because we prefer the texture that way. However, the grass-fed beef we use is incredibly lean. If you are using a fattier blend, you may want to brown it first, drain the fat and then add the seasonings. When the meat is cooked through, add rotel, beans, and 1 cup of pepper jack cheese.

4. Stuff peppers with meat mixture and place upright in 9 x 12 pan to bake.

5. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and peppers are tender.

 6. Serve topped with sour cream, additional cheese and green onions. We also add hot sauce and cilantro!

Let me know what you are looking forward to this spring!
* Chelsea