And Just Like That, it’s Christmas!

Hello, my loyal blog readers!  Can I just take a moment to thank you for reading?  Okay, I thought so….THANK YOU!!!!!  I really do appreciate you taking a few moments out to read my random and rambling thoughts 🙂  Enough with the mushy stuff, and on to the Seattle Tree Lighting!

The day after Thanksgiving, it’s my roomie’s family tradition to bundle up and head downtown to hit up a few quintessentially Christmas spots – specifically the Gingerbread houses, the Teddy Bear Suite, and the main event, the Tree Lighting.  Aaaaaaaand cue photos!

Here’s the gang at our meeting spot – the lower level of Pacific Place.  This is the “we-don’t-know-where-we’re-going-so-lets-catch-up” phase.  I love it 🙂

Our first stop was the ginger bread houses at the Sheraton Hotel.  Each year has a different theme, and this year, it was trains!  Everything from the main Christmas tree to the movies playing in the background has some relationship to trains.  Polar Express, anyone?

A train station in New Zealand.

Melbourne, Australia!

And a lovely Canadian Station!

There were a few more amazing gingerbread creations (Kings Cross and the Island of Misfits!) but these were my favorites.  By the way, the display is up all month if you want to check it out!

Next, we made our way to the Fairmont Olympic Hotel to check out the Teddy Bear suite!  Imagine a hotel suite – sitting room, bedroom and bathroom – completely decked out for Christmas with possibly hundreds of teddy bears…and I mean DECKED out!  A large, cozy fireplace with decorations and stockings welcomes you in.  A family of child-size (and I mean the size of children) teddy bears ushers you to the inner room, and trees, a canopy bed, MORE bears, and extra-big decorations dazzle you  instantly.  The lights are low and red-hued, while the green decorations bring a little contrast.  It’s quite lovely!

 

I wasn’t kidding about the child-size bears!

After much photography, and oohing and ahing over the beautiful trees in the lobby, we were off to MOD pizza for an early dinner.  SO YUM!  I was so hungry that I forgot all about pictures…but I didn’t forget to take a picture of a lovely window display:

 

I think I love everything about this display.  The plaid, the old fashioned record player, the classy suit…sigh.  And the gifts!  How adorable!  Anyways……

Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…the TREE LIGHTING!  The program always begins with some music and short speeches – sing-along carols and professional performances.  They sounded quite good, but I couldn’t really see them…yay for being short…ha!  And there was this little issue of crowd smash.  It was chaotic.  Don’t get me started.  Just look at the pretty lights!!!

The tree (on the right) is slightly outdone by the super-bright Macy’s star and the fireworks.

But our smiles outshine them all…cheeeeeeeeese!  Couldn’t resist 😉

We waited till the crowd thinned out a bit, then walked across the block to Westlake Center.  Marisa and I were in serious need of chocolate.  Godiva to the rescue!

This is a creme brulee truffle.  Don’t tell anyone, but I paid *cough* $2.25 *cough* for this delicious little bugger!  But it was sooooo tasty!  This truffle – half milky chocolate, half white chocolate (or creamy something), dipped in white chocolate and dusted in sugar….ah-mazing!  Gotta live a little, right? 😉

This pretty well sums up the day!  After Westlake, we ventured to Macy’s to try on fancy, far too expensive dresses, and naturally, I fell in love with one.  What are the chances it’ll go on sale?  Sigh.  If you want to see it’s beauty, here’s the link.  So lovely!

All in all, I had an excellent Thanksgiving weekend.  And now, I’ll buckle my seat belt and take a deep breath…these next couple weeks are gonna be crazy!

I’ll leave you with what is perhaps my favorite verse of a Christmas song ever.

Then let us all with one accord

Sing praises to our heavenly Lord

That hath made Heaven and earth of naught

And with His blood mankind hath bought.

Amazing.

Blessings,

Beth

 


 



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A Happy Thanksgiving Indeed

I’m of the opinion that the holiday season (meaning Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years…not used as a politically correct term) are the toughest for college kids.  Not only are there projects and papers due, with finals looming, but many of us are away from our dear families during a time of year that emphasizes the joy and importance of being with your family.  This year, I’ve faced a particularly tough bout of homesickness which made me a firm believer that there really IS no place like home for the holidays.  However, the Lord is sovereign, and knowing how I would feel at this time, placed me right where I need to be.  I have family only about an hour away (although they were out of town for the holiday)  But also, I’ve truly been blessed with the most thoughtful and loving “Seattle Family”, and I had the joy of spending Thanksgiving with them this year!  Prepare for the photo montage with limited commercial interruption 😉

The beautiful table

Michelle on the right, then Nancy, Grammy, and Mandy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The professional gravy-maker, and efficient dishwasher

And the roomie who proves you’re NEVER too old to cuddle up with mom 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place cards and abundant food…joy!

 

And the star of the show!

(Great job, Joe!)

Ok, commercial break time.  This turkey was AMAZING!  You know how turkey so easily gets dry and you can hardly swallow it?  Not this one.  Bland?  Nope.  Gravy?  A nice addition, but not necessary.  SO GOOD!  Aaaaaannndddd moving on… 🙂

We feasted on turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, fall vegetables, (and a few other things which I can’t remember) until we could feast no more!  I very much enjoyed both the food and the wonderful company.  Our hosts were pretty great amazing too!

After dinner, we rolled ourselves down to the family room to catch the Raven’s game and (if you’re me) read a few cooking magazines.  Oh, and eat dessert!!!!!!!!

Here’s the spread – from left to right – homemade chocolate truffles, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie (with whipped cream) and apple pie (with ice cream).  Oh man!

My plate…I seriously cannot pass up the pumpkin pie…but the apples looked sooo tasty…and ice cream!!  And clearly, the chocolate is a given.

So there you have my lovely Thanksgiving spent with my lovely Seattle Family!  It was definitely the best alternative to actually being at home.  I’m extremely thankful for each of these people, so strategically placed in my life.  It’s slightly overwhelming…but in a good way 🙂

I hope your Thanksgiving held just as much joy and relaxation as mine!

Check back soon for my Day-After-Thanksgiving shenanigans!  (No, I did NOT go shopping at midnight!)

Oh, and in other news, I head home for Christmas break in 19 days!  So exciting!  So much to do….such is life 🙂

Take care

Beth

 

Obsessed?

Apparently, I like soup.  A lot.  But really, what’s a gal supposed to do in November when she needs a simple, tasty, and cheap meal?  Make soup. 🙂

Oh, and before I get started…you might notice that I’ve slightly changed the picture format, and now you can actually SEE the photos!  It certainly helps to actually read all of my photo posting options…    However, this might expose the sub-par quality of my aging camera.  (Hint-hint, mom and dad!)  Tee hee 🙂  Anyways…..

I made soup!  I used this recipe from recipe.com, which had been featured in the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  Now, the beauty of a recipe  like this is that you can make it as-is and be completely satisfied.  Or, you can ramp it up a bit…embellish and augment, substitute or remove.  The choice is yours.  But can you guess which I chose?

The photo in BHG didn’t quite look like this…and I do mean ingredients, not just photo quality 😉

So I started with this little gathering of ingredients:

We have (from left to right) shredded cheese, S&P, margarine, rosemary, broccoli, onion, 1 russet potato and 1 sweet potato (which I traded for a yam before it was all said and done), light sour cream and bacon bits (BACON!).

Here is my lovely yam:

I started by chopping the onion and sauteeing it in the margarine, salt and pepper for a bit.

I hate chopping onions.  Like a lot.  If you don’t believe me, click here.  Not that I’m bitter about that or anything.

Moving on!

After the onions are translucent, add chopped potatoes, water and rosemary.  Let that cook for awhile, until the potatoes are soft.

While the potatoes are cooking,  Chop up the broccoli.  I chopped some of it really small, and left some of it in bigger pieces.  Your choice 🙂

 

After the potatoes are soft, find a way to mash them up a bit…I used a hand mixer.

Now, add some more water, and the broccoli, then bring it back to a simmer.  Oh, and don’t forget the bacon!!!!!

After it simmers for a bit longer, add a dollop of sour cream.  Add more S&P if you’d like…I went lighter on the S and heavier on the P.

Now, dish up and enjoy this multi-potato creation! 🙂

Rosemary Potato Soup

Adapted from Recipe.com

The Goods

1 tbsp butter

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

1 large russet potato (or equivalent), peeled and cut in 2-inch chunks

1 medium yam, peeled and cut in 2-inch chunks

4 cups water

1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed

~1/4 cup bacon bits (or more or less)

small head of broccoli (1-2 cups, depending on preference)

dollop of sour cream, plus more for serving

shredded cheddar cheese for topping

The Plan

1. In a large sauce pan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onions, salt and pepper.  Cook until translucent (not brown), stirring occasionally.  Add potatoes and 2 cups of water and the rosemary.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.  Remove from heat.

2. Mash potatoes (use potato masher, hand mixer, or food processor).  Return to the pot and add remaining 2 cups of water plus bacon bits and broccoli.  Return to boiling, the reduce heat, simmering for 10 minutes uncovered, or until thickened and desired consistency.  Stir often to prevent sticking.

3. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.  Serve with additional sour cream and shredded cheese, if desired.  Makes about 4 meal servings…ish 🙂

Tada!  It’s quite good served up with some salad and toast…and the obligatory homey magazine 🙂

I’m really enjoying the leftovers of this soup.  It’s hearty, yet not too hearty, and the bacon flavor improves the longer it stays in the fridge.  You can replace some of the water with chicken broth, or use different veggies or potato combos.  The options are endless!  If you try a variation, would you let me know how you change it up?  Thank you!!

Blessings to you this Thanksgiving!  I don’t want to be all cheesy and tell you to go write a list of the things you’re thankful for, but do give it a little thought – ’tis the purpose of the holiday after all.

Have a lovely day!

Beth

A Lovely Evening

Hello friends!

Fun fact: you might be a college senior with projects and tests looming if…you take an entire week to get around to blogging your own birthday dinner, and even longer to blog your delightful “birthday-month” envelopes.  But such is life!  I’m hoping you’ll all forgive 🙂

I’m extremely blessed to have friends who have become family here at school.  During my sophomore year, I lived with my current roommate and her family in their home, which for me meant gaining a “Seattle Family”.  They’re wonderful!  They take me along on fun outings (Leavenworth!), invite me to share meals, and just LOVE me!  It’s great.  Why am I going on and on about my Seattle family?  Because they treated me to a delightful dinner in celebration of my birthday, full of delicious food and joyful surprises…have a look 🙂

Joce perfectly decorated the table!

Each place setting had been beautifully constructed

The theme certainly felt autumnal with charming leaves and rich tones of red and orange.

Beautiful.

And yes, I cut my hair 🙂  Do you like it?  Cause I do!

A little story from the evening: Marisa and I arrived a while before dinner, and it felt nice to just chill.  A friend, Megan, would be a bit late, so there was no hurry to get the meal on the table.  When the doorbell rang, I expected to see Megan…but I was in for surprise #3 of my birthday! (#1 – the “birthday-month” cards and #2 – the hockey game)  See, I had hoped a couple (another set of Seattle parents) would be able to come, but they already had plans to be out of town.  Except the plans fell through.  And everyone decided to keep it on the hush-hush.  So…..SURPRISE!!!!  I could hardly believe my eyes…but I was certainly happy to do so 🙂

A few minutes later, the lovely Megan arrived, and dinner was served!

Pork roast, sauteed apples, baked sweet potatoes, and roasted asparagus, with a salad on the side.  MMMMMMM!!!!!!

Sweet company plus delicious food is an excellent equation…I kinda like this math 🙂

After we could eat no more, Marisa, Megan and Joce cleared the table, then prepared dessert…with stifled giggles and mysterious sounds.  I pretended like a didn’t notice.  And then, this dish appeared before me….

Yes, that is a giant tower of fresh whipped cream.

Fresh raspberries, naturally.

And then, this.

This is a tower of brownies, with exactly 22 candles.  Which I blew out in one…ONE breath!  I kid you not!

All together!  Isn’t it splendid?  I forgot to mention the fudge sauce for drizzling…mmm!

Now that I was sufficiently sugared, the time had come for….

…presents!

A “Better Homes and Gardens” and “Martha Stuart Living”, Christmas editions from Marisa.  I ADORE magazines like these!

Between the cards, hockey game, and these magazines, I think Marisa truly outdid herself!  But I’m thankful 🙂

A bean-bag lamb (scented with lavender)…

…and a gorgeous scarf, both from Megan!

My surprise guests gave me a thoughtful gift card, and Marisa’s parents found the most beautiful lamp for my gift!  I forgot to take a picture of it earlier, and the lighting in my room is less than decent right now, so click this the link to see a photo of it!

This truly was a lovely evening.  I’m CRAZY blessed to have such a thoughtful “family” here.  Thank you Lord, and thank you Joe and Joce!

I’m off to get some work done…theoretically.  There’s always Sunday, right? 😉

Have a blessed weekend!

Beth

 

Food…a Gift From God

Have you ever had one of those days when God just fits pieces into place for you?  They’re wonderful.  Today is one of those blessed days.

I meet with a counselor weekly as part of my Eating Disorder recovery.  Today, we began talking about my feelings of being overwhelmed by all the beautiful words my dear family and friends were leaving for me today (it’s my birthday!).  I felt caught off guard by these feelings, and desperately wanted to explore them…dissect them to find the origin.  And God was faithful to put pieces together for me.

It came down to not feeling worthy of God’s amazing love, and therefore, I haven’t been allowing it in as much as I need to.  This prevents me from loving myself the way I ought to, and ultimately, from loving others the way I want to.  Let that settle for a moment.

We discussed all kinds of things around this topic, and how I might go about fully taking God at His word and believing He loves me as He says He does.  The big word was surrender.  Surrender to the fact that God DOES love me and nothing I’ve done or ever will do could possible change that.

After more conversation, something made me think of food.  Food as an expression of God’s love.  You see, He could have made food something simply to sustain us.  It could have been bland and boring…I picture dog food.  But He didn’t do that.  He made it colorful and full of flavor.  He made different textures and smells.  He made it something to enjoy because He loves us and loves to give us good things.

How beautiful.  And healing.

And to not enjoy and surrender to the love in the gift…isn’t that essentially scoffing God and His beautiful gift? (thought, courtesy of my roomie)

I saw this video on one of my favorite blogs, My Little Celebration, and I’ve been wanting to repost….I think this is the perfect opportunity!

 

What a display of the pure enjoyment of the gift of good food.

And a quote for your enjoyment:

“We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor.  If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.”

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Take care,

Beth

 

 

 

It’s like Gladiators…But on Ice

No, but seriously!  Hockey IS like Gladiators on Ice!  Now that you’re thoroughly confused, let me explain:

In my last post, I mentioned that my dear roommate, Marisa, would be taking me on a surprise adventure the next day.  My surprise adventure?  A trip to my very first ever HOCKEY GAME!!  It’s like soccer on steroids…but seriously!  It’s faster, more intense, and waaaaay more violent!  …I digress.  Would you like to hear the story?  Okay. I knew it! 🙂

We had the day off from school yesterday, so the day basically became a blank canvas with which to create something delightful…and relaxing!  It seriously felt like Saturday, which makes yesterday (TRUE Saturday) totally seem like a bonus.  Marisa and I were invited to a friend’s home for lunch, then we came home to do homework watch Psych and get ready for the evening’s mysterious events.  At 4:52 sharp, after much running back and forth to grab this and that (totally all me) we were out the door!  After a quick stop at the gas station, Marisa was left to stall for time…we were early!  The horror!…so we took the long way around to…Eastside Foursquare church?  Yeah.  I was confused.  Dark completely enshrouded the parking lot, and I was convinced Marisa would soon be selling me for drugs.  I mean, she did promise an adventure, right? 😉  But thankfully, such an adventure would not be had, although a mysterious car pulled up next to us….

….and out came Josh, our small group leader!  Moments later, another car pulled up…it was Tim, the 4th member of our 4-person small group.  Both gents hopped in the car, and we were off!  I was slightly surprised by the identity our adventure compadres, but hey…Marisa had it all planned out!  Jokes were made about our destination as we made our way North, going from I405 to I5.  And I was still clueless as to what the heck we would be doing.

Soon, we were exiting I5 into Everett…so maybe we were going to an Aquasox game?  But the stadium looked pretty empty, so maaaaybe not.  We continued into the Everett City Center, deciding that dinner would be in order before the revealing of the night’s activities, and seeing as Josh couldn’t stop talking about burritos, I decided on his recommendation, Gorditos!  Large amounts of Mexican food were consumed!

Josh and Tim decided to split the “Baby Burrito”, named for it’s baby-like size.  Bursting with rice, beans, chicken, lettuce, tomato, beans and beans, then drenched in sauce and cheese, this meal is NOT for the faint of heart…or the small of stomach!

Before…

…and after.

Good thing they split it!

Marisa and I were slightly more conservative in our choices, Marisa opting for a breakfast burrito filled with egg, chorizo and tomato, and I for a taco salad, piled high with lettuce, tomato, rice, beans, guacamole and sour cream.

For the record, Marisa, I like your guac better! 🙂

During dinner, Marisa decided to tell me where we were going.  She said “Beth, remember that church we passed back there?  Well, we’re going to a concert there!  A Gregorian chant concert!”  I responded with excitement, but somehow, I just didn’t think we were really going to a concert.  I mean, Marisa insisted I dress warmly, and this church didn’t look like it would be cold.  But what did I know?  However, using my best tact, I didn’t outwardly show my doubt…what if we really WERE going to a Gregorian chant concert?!?

After devouring a baby, erm, dinner, we headed out to the concert.  But we stopped in front of a big building, with lots of people wearing “Silver Tips” jerseys.  And Marisa said “Beth, I have a confession.  We’re not really going to a chant concert…WE’RE GOING TO A HOCKEY GAME!!”  And the poor girl…she was afraid I’d be unhappy with the hockey game after the excitement I showed over the concert!  But she wouldn’t have to worry…I was stoked!

We grabbed our tickets from will-call and headed in!

Josh picked up some pucks for me to throw during a fan game…with which I didn’t find much success.

Hey, they’re really hard to throw!

Well….???

Hockey is an exciting game!  The players throw and smoosh each other up against the wall for no apparent reason.  Oooooh and we saw a legit fight!  As in, a LOT of players ripped their gloves off and threw them on the ice in anticipation of an all-out war!  Only four dudes ended up actually fighting, but that was enough for us to say “we saw a legit hockey fight!”

At times, I began to wonder if the game isn’t more about the fans than the actual game.  They had a kiss cam (awkward camera-person focuses on an assumed couple and they’re supposed to smooch) and a dance cam (less awkward camera person focuses on people who are gettin’ their groove on).  Entertaining…yet slightly uncomfortable….

But we had fun anyways!  Marisa wasn’t really that scared…except for when we almost got beaned by a hockey puck!!!!!!!

Josh had become convinced that because there wasn’t a net in front of us, we were doomed to get hit by a puck.  “Yeah right!” we naysayers uh…nayed?  At any rate, we highly doubted we’d get hit…until a player hit the puck, and it went high…and right towards us!  It caught a lot of air which slowed it down, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was coming right for us!  But Tim saved the night and caught it.  No harm 🙂

The Silvertips lost soundly, but we all had a fun night anyways.  We didn’t even let the crazy-apocalyptic hail dampen our spirits (ah-ha-ha)!

But seriously….this was intense hail!

Marisa planned an excellent night!  The surprise stayed a surprise until the very end, and I very much enjoyed the free time with friends.  Thank you, Marisa!  😀

Check back soon for a recap of my lovely birthday dinner (last night) with Marisa’s family!!

Beth

A Few of my Favorite Things…

I have a lot of things I’d call “favorite”.  Things like family, heaters, ice cream, and The Sound of Music top the list.  Another that rates pretty darn high is simple food.  You know what I mean.  Food that’s easy to cook, tastes good, and just…feels good!  For me, this primarily means food that doesn’t give me a tummy ache.  There’s one meal in particular that I can nearly always count on to provide this for me.  I eat it often, but tonight it just hit me….why don’t I blog it!??!?  Duh.  So here it is – my favorite, go-to, simple, easy-on-the-tummy meal.  Perhaps you will enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

Tada!  Here it is.  Nothin’ too special or fancy, just tasty!

Our star – a piece of spelt toast, spread lightly with butter (yes, the real stuff!), and crowned by a scrambled egg that was whisked with a splash of milk, S&P, cheese and a slice of deli ham, then topped with a sprinkle of cheese.  Delish!  Comfort food at it’s college-cheap finest 😉

An eggy breakfast-inspired dinner just isn’t right with out the ‘taters!  A little bitty Yukon Gold potato, to be exact!  I TOTALLY cheated on cooking this, though.  2 minutes in the microwave, sliced, tossed in the pan to brown…but it works, and that’s what matters to me, friends!

Oh, and if you’re curious about my trio of sauces: sour cream, ketchup and some extra ranch…I will shamelessly admit…I like my dippin’ sauces! 🙂

If you know me very well, this element of my tasty, simple meal shouldn’t come at all as a shock…the salad.  I topped this one with tomato, zucchini and celery, drizzled on some Wishbone ranch (no high fructose corn syrup!!!!!) and crushed some tortilla chips for crunch (’cause this girl is too cheap for formal salad toppings).  YUMMY VEGGIES!

I enjoyed my dinner with a glass of water and this:

THE DECEMBER ISSUE OF REAL SIMPLE!!!!!!!!!!!

Not that I’m excited or anything…..

But I should definitely add it to the list, ’cause there’s NO doubt – it’s one of my favorite things!


I think I’m gonna call it a night!

Check back soon for a birthday-month update and a recap of a mysterious adventure I’ll be taken on by non other than my dear roommate.

Oh!  This has been encouraging me this week – perhaps it will do the same for you 🙂

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”

Philippians 4:19

Have an excellent day!

Beth