Thursday, January 23, 2014

Engagement

The last time I posted a blog was during the summer before I started law school. So I think a new post is long overdue. To begin, I survived my first semester of law school. It was definitely the most intense few months I have experienced to date. Those months were filled with new, amazing friendships, long hours holed up in the library, sitting on the edge of my seat in class, and of course, stress (and caffeine) filled finals weeks. Amidst it all, I made it through to my second semester feeling accomplished and fortified in knowing that I have made the right career choice. This past Christmas break was probably the most welcome break in the history of all my breaks. I would venture to say that all my fellow law students share my feelings. It is a crazy world we operate in- it is fast-paced, stressful, and intimidating at times. But also fun, exciting, and deeply rewarding. It was so nice to be able to fly home and share my experiences with family and friends who have been rooting for me the whole way. Although I'm sure by the end of the break, many were sick of hearing about it all. Not only did I have a great time with my immediate family, but something else occurred that will eventually gain me a new family... I got engaged! I went to visit Tyler during the break and had no idea that he had planned to propose. I'll admit I had my suspicions when I was whisked away on a "girls only" shopping trip with his mom, aunt, and cousins, but other than that whiff of mischief I caught, I was completely surprised! Some say that after four years of dating I shouldn't have been so shocked, but in my head, Tyler was so busy with the military and I was so busy with law school that I didn't think Tyler would have had the time to organize finances, select a ring, plan a proposal, all that jazz. But I think that is what made it all the more special to me. Even in the midst of our busy lives and crazy schedules, we never forget about each other and the goals we have as a couple.
The day it happened was December 30, 2013. Earlier that day, as I said, I went shopping with the girls. Little did I know that Tyler was finalizing things at the jewelers during that time. Later that evening, we had plans to go eat dinner at our favorite restaurant. So I went upstairs to make something of my hair and change clothes. Apparently, as I was doing this, Tyler and his brother snuck out of the house to pick up the ring and were back before I knew they were gone. We went to dinner, the food was amazing, I loved the Pinot Grigio I ordered, and we could see the Market Street Christmas Tree outside the window as we ate. As cliche as it sounds, everything really went perfectly that night. Towards the end of dinner I worked up the courage to timidly ask if getting engaged was even a possibility on this visit. Tyler look at me and said, "No, Holly. I'm sorry but it just isn't going to happen this visit. I wouldn't lie to you about something like this". Little did I know he was lying to my face right then and there! The ring was hiding in the pocket of his pea coat unbeknownst to me. So I sat there for a moment feeling a little sad... also a little part of me wanted to stab him with my butter knife! (just kidding...) After dinner, Tyler suggested a walk. As we walked, he said, "You know, I never officially asked you to be my girlfriend". I laughed and said, "Nope, you just introduced me as your girlfriend and I went along with it". Tyler replied, "Then I think it's time I officially asked you to be my wife" as he pulled out a beautiful ring. It's amazing how what I expected to be a simple date-night turned into one of the most memorable nights of my life. I'll never forget the words he spoke and the way I had to nod because tears were all that managed to come out.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Holly Days in the Kitchen: Ginger Pork with Udon Noodles

Recently my dinners have consisted of delicious varieties of barbeque of my Dad's creation. While fantastically tasty, last night, we all agreed that a change of pace was needed. So I decided to whip up an Asian Stirfry dish that turned out to be a hit! The menu: Ginger Pork with Udon Noodles. The recipe is fairly simple, provided you take the time to chop, dice, marinate, and make any and all preparations before you begin tossing ingredients into the wok. Asian cooking tends to be a quick process, and the last thing you want is to have one of your ingredients burning while you are trying to prepare the others.
Udon noodles are a Japanese-made organic noodle. They have a sort-of flat shape and cook rather quickly. Preparation is like most other pastas- simply place them in boiling water until al dente. These were tossed into the wok after the sherry and soy sauce-marinated pork had been cooked in some chopped ginger and green onions. All the flavors combined to produce a very satisfying, and not at all overwhelming, flavor.
Stir Fry cooking is delicious- not to mention, customizable. You may choose to follow a recipe exactly, or feel free to add in your own ingredients. For example, we chose to add in some broccoli with our dish. It brought some variety to the mostly meat and pasta dish and added a personal touch.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Who Took the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?

As I was sipping my morning coffee and reading some of my favorite blogs, I began musing over my new apartment and how fun decorating a new home can be. Then, for whatever reason, my mind popped over to thinking about my kitchen and how I never got around to finding a cute cookie jar! Sounds simple and a little silly, I know, but I had been on the hunt awhile back and ended up forgetting all about it amidst all the moving hullabaloo. So I began searching online. There are so many options for every budget, it seems. This sparked an idea for a blog post displaying a few different options I am considering. Small disclaimer: I am looking for a cookie jar that looks like an owl- which will become apparent very soon.

Hand Painted Folk Owl Cookie Jar

To the left is a cookie jar from Anthropologie. I am constantly loving items from this store, but, sometimes the price range can be a bit out of the budget of a broke law student. This particular jar is priced at $88.00. The fact that it is hand-painted might contribute to this.






Owl Cookie Jar





To the right is an owl cookie jar from Pier 1 Imports. It is priced at $39.95 and matches to other pieces such as salt and pepper shakers, spoon rests, etc. A bonus if you prefer your decor to match. The price is definitely easier on my wallet.
Set of 2 Owl Cookie Jars









 This next duo to the left is a set of two owl cookie jars for the price of $25.98 at World Market. I love that the price is lower than the others and you get two jars instead of just one. However, some may not agree with the overall look- the colors are more basic and neutral. I happen to like the colors and design of these jars, so that does not pose a problem for me. Sometimes too much color can be off-putting.






Hoot Owl Cookie Jar




 This next adorable jar is from Expressions. It is priced at $49.00. This happens to be one of my favorites because this jar actually has an air tight gasket seal to keep your treats fresh. Many cookie jars are pleasing to the eye, but not suitable for storing cookies. This little guy seems to have both aesthetic and functional appeal. Consequently, it is a top contender.








There are countless choices, and I'm still making up my mind, but I thought this post would help me to narrow my search. So, for now, I'll just enjoy my coffee. Maybe in the near future I will be able to pull some Ginger Snaps out of my new cookie jar to munch on with my morning coffee. I can't wait to see which jar will grace my kitchen with its presence!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sandy Toes and Salty Kisses


Every summer, going to the beach is usually out of the question- too far, too expensive, etc. But this summer, I was fortunate to be able to visit Ty in North Carolina, where beaches are just an hour or two away. We decided to take a day trip to Carolina Beach where the water was warm and the sea breeze was perfectly refreshing. 

Getting to visit Tyler after long months of separation was beyond great, and getting to spend time at the beach was icing on the cake. We got plenty of sun, sand, and salt, and as the sun was setting, we headed to a beachside bar for drinks and delicious seafood. 

There was a county fair going on near the bar and the neon lights of the ferris wheel somehow complemented the seaside perfectly. It turned out to be a fantastic weekend, even if it wasn't long enough. Of course, if I had it my way, I'd stay forever. Who wouldn't? Well, for now, Ty and I will just continue to plot more beach vacations for the future ahead. 

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net forever". ~Jacques Cousteau


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"May"hem

When I glanced over my last post written on Dead Day, my brain flashed through all that has happened since then. Holy smokes! Who knew so much could happen in less than a month? And where do I even begin? Well, as with anything, the best place to begin is at the beginning.

The first and biggest event was my graduation from Texas Tech University. I was beyond grateful to have so many loved ones travel to be with me on such a great occasion.

My personal cheering section at Graduation- the Ryans are behind the camera.
It was such a hot day that day, and my pretty red shoes began to become my enemy. Standing and walking around in heels for hours isn't exactly comfortable. But, I managed to smile and take a picture with my family. Glamour shots would have to wait until the next day when I was feeling a bit more glamorous.
We all had a chance to relax and visit later that evening at Outback Steakhouse. Delicious food with family and friends never fails to add to a great day.

Graduation was a momentous occasion in my life- a chapter I will never forget. I felt very loved and blessed that day. It is always humbling when people who love you come from all across the great state of Texas to share in the celebration. I cannot thank them enough.

As much fun as that day was, the next two days were filled with hard work and mishaps. The task was to get four years of accumulated belongings back to El Paso. Even though I had managed to pack nearly everything before my family arrived, packing up what was left and attempting to stuff it all into my Dad's truck proved to be a Herculean task. Believe it or not, our saving grace that weekend happened to be a Chevy Spark (aka the clown car). We needed one more vehicle to help us get everything moved- the truck and my small car were just too full to put one more item inside. When we rented a car from the airport, we had no idea we would be getting one of the smallest cars I have ever seen. Even though it became the source of much laughter and crazy gas stops along the way, it helped us get back the last bit of belongings without having to strap the twins to the roof of a car in order to make room. I think they were happy about that. In short, everything and everyone arrived safely in El Paso, and we were able to relax and kick off the summer. And what better way to do that than with consecutive weekends of delicious barbecued food?

Beer Chicken

Monster Steaks!
I was also surprised with a scrumptious congratulatory cake from my family! We made sure to wash it down with a bit of the bubbly- a fizzy treat to me from the Ryan Family.


All in all, these past few weeks have been an adventure- full of homemade foods, long nights by the fire, full moons, and good conversation. If all this can happen in a matter of weeks, I had better brace myself for the rest of the summer! It is sure to be unforgettable. It will be so wonderful to have so many memories to carry with me into my first year of law school.



Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dead Day Wednesday

So, "Dead Day" is what we students here at Texas Tech like to call the day after the last day of classes and the day before the first day of finals. Contrary to what the name might suggest, for me, today is anything but "dead". I like to take advantage of the time to make a list of things to get accomplished, and then scurry about making them happen. First thing on my list this morning was "shower and drink coffee". Sounds silly, but hey, it's an easy jumpstart to the day and it feels great to cross something off the list!

I did other housekeeping things like laundry and taking out the trash as well. There's something oddly satisfying about a fresh trash bag in the trashcan. No more icky garbage- at least for awhile. I have a few more errands to run too. Hitting the post office and possibly Hastings, just to name a few. Later will most likely consist of making dinner and working on one of my final exam study guides.

If I have the energy, I'll start packing up my bathroom as well. I have been packing up my apartment room by room and have made pretty significant progress so far. The living room and my desk area are all in boxes. A desk area doesn't sound like much to pack, but let me tell you... it was quite the challenge. It took several hours for me to go through the office things and paperwork I have accumulated during the two years I've lived here. But, I finally threw out all the old junk and packed away the essentials. Phew! This photo shows the boxes full of living room and desk stuff. I managed to downsize big time. Yay. The furniture will not be coming with me so that is one less thing for me to worry about. See that box full of books? Heaviest. Thing. Ever. Definitely going to need help lifting that thing into my Dad's truck. That's what Dad's and brothers are for, right? :)

Well, that's the update for today. Hope everyone has a fantastic Wednesday!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Taco Night at Holly's House

This post is a kind I've never done before, but I was so proud of my accomplishment, I just had to toot my own horn... Toot! The other night, I was trying to decide what to cook for dinner, and couldn't stand to eat the same meals I had been eating for quite awhile. When you're a broke college student, constantly buying tons of food and ingredients to cook with just isn't an option. Which is especially difficult for someone like me who just adores cooking.

Then, a light bulb came on as I found myself craving Mexican food from my hometown of El Paso. I could do a Taco Night dinner! Sounds like such a simple idea, like, duh right? Well needless to say I was proud of my idea and went to Walmart to buy the items I needed. I came out of that store with all the ingredients and a little something extra for dessert for only $9.77! How did I do it? Read on...






I bought Old El Paso Taco Shells and Taco Seasoning Mix. They are both unbelievably inexpensive and the seasoning tastes great. I believe the seasoning was only $0.78!

I also bought about three tomatoes and the small package of shredded lettuce. Both are also really inexpensive, and who doesn't love fresh ingredients? I already had some grated cheese in my fridge, but buying grated cheese is also an option- or buy a brick and grate it yourself. Either way, you won't have to spend much money.




 Quite honestly, this was probably the most expensive thing from this shopping trip. I prefer the Extra Lean ground beef because it is much healthier. Consequently, I had to pay $3 or $4 for a pound of ground beef. Which isn't a fortune or anything, but compared to the less healthy options, it's significant.

Lastly, I bought a small box of strawberries for $1.98. I love fresh fruit for dessert, and strawberries are an especially sweet treat. This meal was so easy to put together, and so inexpensive. The variety was more than welcome in my kitchen and there were plenty of leftovers for another night! So I got several meals out of this. Sometimes a change of pace is just what the doctor ordered. It also proves that even starving college students can eat well!