Friday, December 28, 2012

Birthday Peace.

I believe that no matter how old you become, there is one solid life rule: you reign on your birthday. You go do whatever you want to do, with whoever you want to do it with, and they must oblige.

Want to go on a shopping spree? It's your birthday- Do it.

Want to lie in bed watching two seasons of Law and Order while munching on a sleeve of Oreos? It's your birthday- Do it.

Above all else, you are in charge. that's what makes a birthday so special. No matter what you do that day, it's yours.

This year I wanted my day to be simple. And quiet. Just a day to relax from the hectic pace of our 9 to 5s. And it was my birthday, so I did it.

As I mentioned before, Torrey got me a Kindle Fire. He apparently had planned to get me one since last Christmas when he watched me read an entire book (a trilogy actually..) on my little phone screen. He even worked with my parents to have it delivered to their house so I wouldn't find it, had my mom wrap it, and took my dad out to lunch the day before to pick it up along with my gifts from my family.


So you can imagine how he felt when I opened it with the reaction, "...a kindle fire?"

I was caught off guard, you see. I had no idea he noticed my night time scrolling of The Hunger Games. Or that I even liked to read.

After a little explanation, and the supplemental gift from a sister of some Amazon giftcards, I realized how perfect and thoughtful his gift was. I downloaded a nice thick novel and was hooked.

So after a significant amount of time spent fiddling with my new device, we set out to LA. We did some light outlet shopping (which was packed on a Tuesday..what's up with that?) before we headed to Santa Monica Pier.



One of my most favorite things to do is to explore somewhere new. I had never been along the pier before, and one of my birthday demands was to watch the sunset on the beach.

Such a windy beautiful day ;)
 We spent a little time in the arcade so I could seriously school Torrey in some air hockey,

Little did he know the world of hurt he was about to get into..


and spent some time sipping some hot vanilla (yah, hot vanilla. Take that chocoholics!) and enjoying the scenery.



A happy birthday girl.

For dinner Torrey took me to my favorite Thai restaurant, Toi on Sunset.They have the best Thai food I've ever had, though the bathroom looks like the dark ally you would murder someone in..


A nice, peaceful birthday makes for a happy Noelle.

Thank you to all of you wonderful people for your lovely birthday wishes. My phone almost died from all of your love ;)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve!

Are you ready for Christmas? I can't believe how fast December has flown by! Nothing puts a skip in my step more than the holiday season.

This year was the first time we got serious with Christmas. Last year this season was such a blur ( I think it had something to do with the newly-wedded, working part-time and school full-time with two graduate level courses thing. Maybe.) So this year I wanted to do it right.

The outward expression of holiday spirit in our apartment complex has been someone lacking. We are the only ones in our section with lights! There might be a wreath or two, but I love my berry monogram. It makes me smile every time I come home.


We had a little dilemma when it came to a Christmas tree. We didn't want to use our giant fake tree since it takes up half of the apartment, but we also didn't want to buy a fresh tree only to toss it later.

The result:


 A small Christmas-esque rosemary plant. Not only is it the perfect size for our home, but after Christmas it will still serve a purpose as a fresh herb in all of my dishes! Perfect solution.

As you might've guessed, I have delved into some holiday baking. I made the world's easiest fudge for my Primary students, but my crowning achievement this year has been these sugar cookies.

Let me be clear- these aren't the world's easiest sugar cookies. They literally took me days to put together (chilling, baking, coloring, outlining, flooding, decorating..ready to kill yourself yet? haha.), but I was determined to do it. 



I'll have to post about them..one of these days. The cookie itself was a really great recipe. But I think I burnt myself out. These cookies are strictly an annual activity.

But don't worry, I've got other treats up my sleeve. I'll definitely post about this lovely salted caramel recipe I discovered soon. They were heavenly and a perfect stocking stuffer :)

I hope you have a very merry Christmas! Mine will be spent with my family making Christmas dinner and petting wiener dogs (though not at the same time hopefully). I'll be taking a small holiday hiatus to spend time with family and friends.

Happy Holidays from the Petersons <3

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Fudge.

There really isn't much to say.

You want to make fudge? Here.



This is the easiest fudge recipe in the world. It takes five minutes to put together and comes out perfect every time.

You'll give it to your neighbors/family/co-workers and they'll think you're amazing. And you are. Because you found a ridiculously easy recipe.

Think of this as an early Christmas gift from me to you. You're welcome ;)


Easy Christmas Fudge

from Red Barn Candle Company

 

Ingredients 

3c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
14oz can sweetened condensed milk
Dash of salt
1c. chopped nuts (I used toasted walnuts)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Line an 8 x 8 pan with foil.
In heavy saucepan, melt chocolate chips with condensed milk and salt over low to medium heat.
Stir just until melted and remove from heat. 
Add chopped nuts and vanilla and stir until smooth.
Pour into pan and refrigerate for two hours until set.
When set, turn onto cutting board and peel off foil. 
Cut into rectangles or squares.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Baby.

Today I turn twenty- three.

Can someone please tell me when the heck that happened?

That just sounds so adult- and as I play Angry Birds on my fancy new gift from Torrey, I sure don't feel 23.
A Kindle Fire!

I pride myself on my expert gift-guessing abilities. One shake of a box can tell me everything I need to know. But he really stumped me this year. I was completely caught off guard and totally impressed by his sneaky gift buying skills. Well played honey, well played.

So I hope you have a wonderful Tuesday. We took the day off to do whatever I want, but I think a good portion of my day will be wasted on fiddling with my new gadget.

Friday, December 14, 2012

USC Game date- Go Trojans!

A few weeks ago we had an awesome double date with our friends Chase and Darci- at a USC football game! Chase is a USC student so he helped get some tickets to the AZU game. Torrey just loves college football, and I have never been to any football games before, so we were excited to go!


My grandfather was a running back for the Trojans back in his day, so I'm a USC fan by birthright. It was fun to see all of the crazy fans decked out in cardinal and gold.


Someone gave us these buttons that said "Sparky is melting," AZU's mascot. haha. 


I really had fun watching the game. Since we don't have cable, the only football I ever watch is when Torrey plays his NCAA Xbox game. It was nice change from virtual players..

 We snacked on giant brats while we watched our Trojans win. I'll admit I couldn't tell what was going on some of the time..but hey that just means Torrey's got some work to do! We had a really good time cheering on USC and hanging with our married friends. Thank you for taking us Charci! It's good to know a Trojan ;)

Victory fingers!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

DIY Holiday Monogram

Can you believe it's Christmas time already? If my name didn't give you a hint, I am a December baby. And there is nothing I love more than the holiday season.

Cold weather clothes, oldie Christmas songs, twinkling lights, the smell of pine trees, cinnamon, hot apple cider..need I go on??

 The decorating at my house starts immediately after Thanksgiving. I've started a tiny tradition where I make a homemade decoration every December, and this year I decided on this holly berry monogram for our front door.
 I am NOT a crafty person (by choice. My mom is the queen of all things crafty.) so I was happy to find a great tutorial on how to make this little door decoration.

Materials needed:

A yard or so of burlap ribbon

Lots of berries

Wooden letter of your choice

Hot glue gun

I got all of my materials at my local Michaels.

I pulled clumps and individual berries off of their branches and glued them to the letter. You want to make sure there aren't any gaps, so keep gluing until you're satisfied with the look. It took me more berries than I expected to make mine feel full.

RIP to the J. Crew catalog that was my workspace.


Then I used the burlap to tie a bow for it to hang on. Luckily the letter P lends itself to being easily hung. For letters like M, that aren't so well endowed, I suggest stapling two pieces of burlap to either end of the letter in the back, creating a triangle when you tie the bow on top.

And there you have it. I am in love with mine. It adds an instant burst of Christmas to the front door, and is also a little more personal than the traditional wreath.


The Petersons are ready for Christmas!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Banana Cream Pie

So I've decided what I want to be when I grow up.

Well more like what I want to be after I grow up. Because if we're talking about a career I would say a chef, or owning my own bakery or something.

After I grow up, have kids, career, and all that jazz, I want to be the perfect grandma. The one that you can talk to about anything, that slips you a five spot when you say goodbye. The kind that you beg to have her make one of her legendary pies.

On holidays, I'll have my kids and grandkids make dinner, while I focus on what I do best. Cranking out pies. In order to achieve this lofty goal, I need to have an arsenal full of tried and true recipes ready to be used at any moment.



I've officially added this banana cream pie recipe to that list. To be honest, I don't really like bananas. I love their flavor, but I can't get past their mushy texture. I particularly enjoy this recipe because it doesn't just call for a layer of banana slices on the bottom, but also infuses the pastry cream with banana as well. So I get lots of banana flavor without too much banana mushiness. win-win.

Oh, you're waiting for that perfect slice of pie picture huh? Well, here we are:


Can you say yum? I was losing light and the pie hadn't fully set. Sad face.  At least it tasted amazing.

Banana Cream Pie

adapted from Cooking Channel TV

Ingredients

Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, chilled or frozen
4 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water
Pie:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and seeds scraped
3 bananas, sliced
Topping:
1 cup fresh whipped cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

For Pie Dough:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and vanilla; cut or work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a cold pastry cutter until you have large pea sized chunks scattered throughout. Alternatively, pulse the dough in a food processor, or mix in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed.

Add the ice water slowly while stirring with a fork, or in the food processor or mixer, until just combined. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Roll out one chilled pie dough to fit a 9-inch pie plate. Reserve the second pie dough disc for another use. Transfer dough to pie plate, pressing the dough lightly into the plate; trim the edges. Dock the dough with the prongs of a fork evenly over the bottom of the pie plate. Line the docked dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake the pie crust until the edges are brown and golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the weights. Return crust to the oven to finish baking for another 5 minutes.

For the filling:
In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, mix together the sugar, salt, cornstarch, and flour. Over medium-low heat, slowly whisk in the milk.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks. Once the pastry cream starts to boil, transfer 1/2 cup of the pastry cream to the egg yolks and whisk to temper. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Continue whisking until the mixture coats the back of a spoon and is smooth and thick. Strain.

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, and vanilla. Stir in 1 cup sliced bananas. Allow the mixture to cool.

Stir the custard to loosen, if necessary. Cover the bottom of the prepared crust with more sliced bananas. Top with half of the sliced bananas, then 1 cup custard, covering the bananas completely. Repeat layering with the remaining bananas and the remaining custard. Chill the banana cream pie until the filling is set, about 2 hours.

For the topping:
 In a medium bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, and vanilla and whip until stiff peaks form.

Top the chilled pie with the fresh whipped cream.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Our Turkey Day.

Hey there! Are your pants a little tighter this week? Then you must have had a good thanksgiving ;)

Just so you know, I didn't plan on taking such a long hiatus from the blog. In fact, I had a lovely little Thankful for post set up for Thanksgiving day. But I went to edit it and it disappeared. boo.
So don't think I left you hanging.

We spent our Thanksgiving this year in Southern Utah with Torrey's family. We road tripped our way up there the day before.

Roadtrip Breakfast

I have always loved our little road trips up and down the 15. Long conversations, lots of music, lots of Redvines, and discovering new places. Like this hidden gem in Vegas.

Crepes and puns. A classic combination.

I helped out my brother-in-law Andrew cook Thanksgiving dinner, and I have to say I love making huge dinners! Thanksgiving dinner especially, because its the one time you can toss pound of butter in the potatoes without question. The lack of calorie counting allows for a creative freedom of sorts. (I might have let a little too much foodie-ness out just now..) What we ended up with was perfect. And I have a few new recipes I can't wait to unveil on my family at Christmas (green bean casserole from scratch say what?)


The majority of our non-eating festivities were spent playing with our little nephews. They are just the cutest little things. And my heart melts to the floor when they ask "un-ko tor-wee" to play.

Watching Toy Story is some serious business.
Rough-housing.

To make good use of our time in Utah, we took a short hike through Zion National Park. I still can't get over how beautiful it is in there. Probably why they made it a national park. #obvious


It turns out that President Uchdorf was in the St. George Temple the same time as us! That's almost like meeting him right?


His "do you really need to take pics of everything?" face.
My first time trying frozen custard. yum.














Lots of eating, lots of sleeping, and lots of family time made for a great Thanksgiving. I hope you had a great Turkey Day too!

now onto the best holiday of all! let the Christmas countdown begin!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Eat well, travel often.

Our family motto.

The passports are in, The tickets are booked. We're headed to Southeast Asia!

We are going to visit Torrey's brother and his family, who are currently living in Singapore.
I couldn't be more excited.

As a geography major, I am always intrigued by new places. I love experiencing different cultures and cities. Especially cities.

Not to mention this is my first time out if the country. Never in a million years would I imagine my first international trip to be through SE Asia. But I am going. And I can hardly wait!

Here's some of the gorgeousness we'll be encountering:


 If I don't ride an elephant this trip will be for naught.



This is hopefully the first of many international trips for the two of us.

So in my spare time for the next few months I will be pinning many pretty pictures and Tripadvisor-ing myself to death. The longest flight I have ever been has been 5 hours, so I'm worried about the endless plane rides it will take to get there.

So blog friends! What's the longest flight you've ever been on? What the heck to you do for 10+ hours? You can only sleep for so long!



Monday, November 12, 2012

The Fact is.

Fact: As I type, Torrey is KO'd next to me. Someone's not adjusting to the time change well.. ;)

Fact: I voted! I hope you did too. Even if the election didn't go the way you had hoped, your vote is still counted and most definitely still matters. Especially for all of those little state propositions. Those don't go through an electoral college.

Proof of voting. And Tuesday tacos.
  
 Fact: When a man is elected (or re-elected) to the highest office in the country, I believe that office should be respected. Disagreeing with the ideals and actions of that man is all fair game, but at the end of the day, he is the president of our country. Which is the toughest job in the world. I am so disappointed with the way people have handled this most recent election. There is just no place for the kind of disrespectful comments I have come across. Your angry Facebook posts will not incite any change.

 (now that I've got that load off my chest..)

Fact: I love my husband because every time were in the car he will turn on my seat heater without question. Because he understands that Winter = wife is always cold.

Fact: I got a very much needed haircut. I love long hair because of all the fun things you can do with it, but my curly hair just gets so big. It grows like a weed on a mission to take over my head.

A tamed mane.

Fact: I don't believe in mixing friends with business. Unless you're cool with not being friends anymore. Recipe for disaster.

Fact: My most favorite Family Night as of late was a Monday night shopping spree at the mall. All the stores were empty, the sales racks nice and organized (of which I tried my best to keep that way for the poor late shift sales people), it was awesome! Monday night is the time to go.

Fact: I am one lucky sonofagun. Remember when I said I won a blog giveaway? Well I won another! (not grand prize but hey I'll take it!) This lucky streak is not something new. I've been lucky ever since I was a little kid. I've won contests, gotten picked at those sea lion shows at animal parks, all those good things. Not mad about it.

Best fact for last: My little sister has decided to go on a mission! She's already finished her mission papers. I can't wait to see where she will serve. She will be an amazing missionary who will get lots of food-related care packages from a certain older sister.
 
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