Happy Independence Day, Remember to Give Thanks!

Happy 4th everyone! Hope you all enjoyed whatever festivities you attended.  We had a really low key day.  Justin’s next CPA exam is tomorrow.  He spent much of the day studying while I did some things around the house and went to the grocery store.  Our highlight of the day was we made a killer dinner.  Filet mignon, grilled zucchini, and an awesome quinoa salad.  Justin said it was the best meal he ever had at home! We will definitely have to do it again.

Tomorrow after Justin’s test we are heading to Michigan to his family’s lake cottage and to also spend a night in Saugatuck with my in-laws.  Vacation here we come!  Can’t wait.

I thought for my 4th of July post I would remind you all to take a moment and remember why we have our independence, because of all the men and women who have served and are continuing to serve our country.  We are more blessed than we can comprehend.  Remember to praise God for the freedom we have in the United States and also our freedom we have because of Christ dying on the cross for our sins.

Special thanks to my brother-in-law, Boo, as he is currently serving overseas right now.  We miss him tons and pray for him often. Today, we are especially thinking of him and all the hard work he is doing out there.  We can’t wait to see him back home, which won’t be until next year 😦  Thankfully we have tools like Skype to keep our family connected. Also, if we think it’s hot here, it’s about 130 degrees where Boo is! Wowee!

Here’s a few photos in rememberence of Boo and all he is doing for us.  We miss you and love you!

Going away party before Boo left for Basic Training

Justin and Boo after he graduated Basic Training

Boo and his parents

Bikes Should Take Over the World

This biking meme was a must share…


Now go on, get out there, and ride that bike!

Our Wedding Quilt

So this weekend I went to visit my grandma out in the suburbs. She lives about an hour from our apartment in the city. It was a challenging but good visit. She’s been not feeling well lately because of the radiation she’s needed to beat her cancer. It has made her weaker and more tired but all in all she’s holding up really well. Like really, she’s a trooper. And I just love her. Let me tell you a little about my grandma, Martha, or as her friends call her, Marty.

She helped raise me when I was in grade school. My mom was in full-time graduate school at Northwestern and was working her tail off. My grandma used to take me to all my activities… Soccer, choir practice, acting camp, horseback riding, and the dentist (had to go there a lot because my teeth were pretty crooked). I was a busy little bee as a kid and she always got me from A to B.  She fed me lots of good food and treats and even let me sneak in some snacks before dinner. I also know that I get my major sweet tooth from her.  She makes the most amazing dessert, cookies, and bars, you just can’t resist. Another thing I distinctly remember about my grandma is all the sewing she used to do.  She used to make and alter tons of clothes. I think when she was younger she even used to make her own clothes and some of her children’s clothes (not 100% on that, will have to ask her… all I know is she had tons and tons of sewing patterns for all different sorts of clothing).  One years she made me and my cousins matching PJs for Christmas, I’ll have to dig out the picture from my mom’s house sometime, we look so darn cute. In addition to her knack for cooking and sewing she was really the backbone of the family. She kept everyone together and everything moving.

Grandma, Justin, me, and my mom
Roya Jade Photography

Over the past few years she’s gotten away from sewing clothes and has started quilting.  She made me a quilt before I left for college.  It got a lot of love over those 4 years. Now as I’ve moved on, grown up, and gotten married, she’s made me another quilt, for another stepping stone in my life.  A wedding quilt.  It’s absolutely gorgeous and not to mention it’s her most complicated quilt.  Something like 1600 pieces she had to put together. It was a very mathematical process and she said it took her back to her days of geometry.

I love it and it’s absolutely perfect.  And how well does it match our 2nd bedroom? She didn’t even know it was blue.

I can’t tell you how much I love and adore family heirlooms and traditions.  I hope that someday this will become a family heirloom and I can share this quilt with my children when they get married. I pray they will adore family history as much as I do.

And Grandma, if you ever read this post (which I don’t think you will because you don’t have the internet), thank you. Thank you x 1,000,000 for being you, for being funny and talented, for raising our family, for helping me be me, and for this lovely wedding quilt that I will forever cherish.  Love you. 🙂

What’s Cookin Good Lookin: Curry Shrimp with Mango Salsa

So the other night on my way home from work I was doing my normal blog reading on my Google Reader and I found some delicious summer recipes that I just had to try. These were the inspiration:

Spicy Curry Shrimp // Mango Salsa // Agua Fresca

I stopped at my now favorite grocery store, Cermak, and attempted to ride my bike home with grocery bags and all. Now tell me what in the world I was thinking. Guys, I bought a large, and I mean LARGE, watermelon and thought I could ride my bike with it in hand. I mean really. The thing weighed about 20 pounds. Here’s me pausing to think how on earth I would transport this baby home.

So what did I do? I tucked one of the grocery bags in my commuter bag, took the other and looped it around my handlebars and then wobbled onto my bike with the watermelon tucked under my arm, as if it were a football, but 15 pounds heavier. I made it about 10 feet until I fell over and the watermelon slipped out of my grasp and crash landed on my tortilla chips. It was a sad site to see. I gave it one more try before I decided I was going to kill myself with this balancing act. Note: I am no trapeze artist. So I ended up walking my bike all the way home, groceries in hand. It was a long 4 blocks.

By the time I got home I was exhausted. But I was determined to get curry shrimp with mango salsa in my belly. Here’s what I made…

Here are your ingredients:
Recipe adapted from Dinner: A Love Story

1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 bag frozen shrimp (I used precooked already deveined and peeled)
Top with chopped cilantro and lime wedges

Mix all the spices in a small bowl. I didn’t make enough spice for the amount of shrimp I had. So I used it sparingly. Use less than 1 full bag for better seasoned shrimp. Rinse shrimp. Dethaw them in a colander under cold water for 30 minutes. Skewer shrimp on to kabob sticks and place on platter. Instead of rolling individual shrimp in the spice mixture, I sprinkled it over the top of my skewers. Turned the shrimp over on the other side and sprinkled remaining mixture.

Justin preheated the grill to medium heat and sprayed Pam to prevent stickage. Since our shrimp were precooked they just needed a few minutes on each side to warm up. Really up to you how you like them done. After the grilling is finished. Serve with fresh cut limes and squeeze juice over top. Add cilantro leaves as your garnish. And now this is a must… Make sure you get a piece of cilantro in every bite.

For my mango salsa I used some of what I had in the fridge plus a a few extra goodies. I know my measurements aren’t exact but that’s how I cook sometimes. Plus you really can’t mess this up.

1 mango, diced
1/2 of a cucumber, diced
1/2 of a red onion, diced
1/2 of a red pepper, diced
1/2 of a jalapeño, finely chopped
1/2 of a lime, squeezed juice
Handful of cilantro
Salt and pepper

Dice and chop all your veggies and place in medium bowl. Cut like lime in half and squeeze juice over veggies. Add cilantro leaves and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now mix it all up and Voila, serve with tortilla chips, preferably crushed 🙂

We totally enjoyed this meal and the two dishes pair great together! It was darn near perfect until the part where Justin dumped too much salt in the salsa because I left it on the pour setting instead of dash. Whoops. Still tasted good. And they were great leftovers too.

We didn’t end up doing the watermelon drink that night but it’s next on the list. Hence the reason why I went to all the trouble to buy the 20 pounder!

Hope you enjoy!

Perfectly Messy: Part 1

So sometimes, things don’t always go quite as planned. And most of the time, it’s really okay. You figure it out, let it go, and move on.  Sometimes that can be difficult though with channels such as Pinterest, Instagram, and the blog world depicting DIYers, crafters, cookers, bakers, photogs, and fashionistas as stunningly perfect.  The photos you find can often leave you feeling totally inadequate and hopeless.  Your flaws scream black when everything around you is white.  It can make you want to crawl in bed and pull the covers over your head, or better yet shove your face in a pillow and scream for your momma.   You know you will never be that master crafter/baking goddess/stylish photog.  Doesn’t mean you can’t try.   But it’s probably better that you don’t.  Honestly, who wants to be that perfect anyway?  What happened to learning from our mistakes? Owning our flaws? Being vulnerable about where we are lacking?  I say no more dusting under the rug, no more playing dress-up, mistakes are a part of life. It’s what makes life exciting. And mistakes almost always add some comedic relief to daily life and not to mention they always, and I mean always, provide growth that you won’t find anywhere else.

Take a look at this Blogger’s stance on Pinterest here. I couldn’t agree more, but also have to admit I don’t have that kind of self-control.  I love Pinterest and it definitely motivates me and flows those creative juices. But it’s one of those dangerous things that’s only good in moderation.

So, the balance then?  Don’t let Pinterest, blogs, or photos become your ideal.  Let it inspire you and let that be all. It’s not realistic. And it’s most definitely not worth it to kill yourself over being that perfect or being ‘just like her’.  Be you. Be messy.  I’m messy.  My husband tells me I’m a little too messy sometimes, so I work on it.  Do I think I will ever be a perfectly put-together, fancy, clean, housewife, uh no. But I will do my best, and I will be better each day with practice and with time.

And believe me all this is not easy for me to say.  I struggle with it everyday.  I think especially being a newlywed it’s difficult to shake that desire to be the best wife, the best cook, the best gardener, the best decorater, the best laundry folder, and on and on.  Let me tell you… your husband does not need gourmet meals every night.  Leftovers are perfectly acceptable.  Whoever says they aren’t worthy of a dinner plate is wasting time and food! And trust me, I learned this the hard way.  Week 3 of marriage I was 5 pounds heavier and probably 10 hairs grayer.  Also if you really think about it, if your perfect by age 25, what are you going to do with the rest of your life?  There’s so much joy to be had with the time it takes to practice, grow, and nourish your skills and hobbies.

I can’t help to be reminded of my grandma.  She is a great cook, and I mean great.  But she didn’t learn everything she knows in one year.  She had to make all her recipes dozens and dozens of times to get it just right.  And her growth didn’t stop at ‘just right’ either, you pick up something else and work that next.  Heck, she learned to drive at age 50! Yahoo, keep the learning coming.

Remember, (and I have to tell myself this everyday) perfection is not worth the stress. Preserve your energy and strength and put it back into your relationships.

And to prove I am not perfect, check out the cookies I made last night with my best friend, Danielle.

Yes, those were supposed to be individual cookies.  Whoops.  You’re laughing right?  See comedic relief, just like I said.

Look for Part 2 on a spiritual look at what God says about perfection.

Friday Five: Camping Essentials

So earlier this week we were talking with a friend from our small group about potentially doing some camping this summer.  This got me so excited!  I absolutely love camping.  My mom used to take me a lot when I was a kid.  I used to ride in one of those kid packs.  Pretty awesome right?  I will have to dig out one of those oldie pictures sometime.

So I thought I would do a Friday post on five things Justin and I are in need of before we become expert campers. We literally have no gear.  So that means we better start saving up now, gear is pricey!  Or better yet we should do a gift registry for Christmas. Why we didn’t do a wedding registry at REI is beyond me.  We totally should have!

Begin REI wish list to myself…

1. Marmot Limelight 3-person Tent

2. For Her: Marmot Angel Fire Sleeping Bag in Abstract Green, 26° F temp rating, For Him: REI Radiant Down Sleeping Bag in Indigo/Ocean Blue, 17° F temp rating

3. For Him: Gregory Baltoro 75 Litre Pack in Cone Red, For Her: Osprey Aura 65 Litre Pack in Eggplant Purple

4. Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

5. Eno Doublenest Hammock in Orange

If only… For now we are stuck with what we got, which is pretty much just a mish mash of household items like blankets, handheld flashlights, and fold up lawn chairs.  I’m sure over time and as we do more camping we will accumulate more gear.

Hoping some day we can camp at Red River Gorge in Kentucky.  All I hear are fabulous things about it, plus they have some killer rock climbing.  Would love to dig back into indoor climbing and possibly take an outdoor trip next summer.

Photo Credit: JSH

Photo Credit: BSProductions

Justin and I have only been camping once together with our friends Carl and Danielle.  We had an absolute blast. We are hoping to go again with them soon.  Here’s a picture from our trip in southern Indiana.

And this is just a great shot.  I love him! And his outfit.

Do-Rite Does It Right

So I thought for today’s post I would tell you about Do-Rite Donuts. It’s one of the newer donut shops downtown in the loop. I rode to work with the hubs early one morning last week. He was meeting a friend at the shop and I was headed next door to the dreaded DMV (boo) to get a new license with my new married name on it (yay!).

Do-Rite is on Randolph just west of Dearborn. It’s one block north of Daley Plaza and sees a ton of foot traffic. The shop is open during weekdays and mainly serves the commuting crowd who pass by on their way to work. They are open at 6:30 and close when they run out. Interesting business concept huh? Creating your own demand essentially. (and just found out they are open Saturdays now too!) Anyways it’s a little tiny shop with a red awning. It’s got this cute vintage logo that I think really enhances the idea that donuts are the true all-American treat.

A big plus is that the line is not nearly as long as The Doughnut Vault (which sometimes is up to an hour, haven’t brought myself to do that yet). And what little line there is at Do-Rite, moves really quickly. They have a large array of donuts behind he counter that literally will leave you standing there with mouth open and drooling. There are wide variety of flavors and specials will leave you speechless. Let me inspire you…

Strawberry Rhubarb Bullseye
Pistachio Lemon
Chai Spice
Orange Rosemary
Coffee and Cream
Carrot Cake
Carmelized Pineapple Rum
Coconut Custard
Candied Maple Bacon

They also have your standard old fashioned (my hubby’s favorite, he claims Do-Rite has the best old fashioned he’s ever encountered), jelly (my favorite), glazed, and fritter. But wait it doesn’t end there… they have gluten free too! Which I think is genius. There are so many people I know who recently found out they are allergic to gluten. There is a definite market for more gluten free food options. They don’t come in as many sassy flavors but they have strawberry banana and blueberry almond… Hmm sounds healthier, maybe I should go for one of those instead something like candied bacon or coconut custard! 

On their homepage they mention that they make donuts fresh every hour to ensure you get the best tasting donut!  They also mention they only make 36 per batch which I assume is to make sure they are made to perfection.

They also offer $1 coffee with any donut purchase. I myself am not a coffee drinker, but for those who are, what a great deal!

Clockwise from top left: Maple Bacon, Lemon Poppyseed, Boston Creme with Toasted Almond, Cinnamon Crunch, Jelly, Carrot Cake

For my first donut at Do-Rite I chose the carrot cake. I absolutely love carrot cake.

Looks delicious huh?  The frosting was AHHH-mazing.  Like the real cream cheese frosting they put on actual carrot cake.  Then sprinkled with carrot shavings and walnuts.  I wasn’t all that impressed with the donut itself… at first.  Seemed like a regular cakey, tasty donut. I inspected further into the donut and noticed that there were actual carrots baked inside.  Blew my mind.  This is was probably one of the best donuts I have ever had! Yum!

I also got to taste the old fashioned.  And I agree with Just, best old fashioned ever.  I like it much better than the one I tried at Glazed and Infused (another new Chicago donut shop) because it’s not as sweet. You don’t want sugar overload because then you can’t enjoy all the other flavors it has.

I took a small bite of one of the donuts with a huge chunk of chocolate glaze on top. I don’t know the official name of it but I wanted to call it chocolate ganache. Gosh that chocolate was just ridiculous. Drooling all over again.


All in all, my review is MUST GO!  You have to check this place out.  It’s our #1 donut place right now.  And if you can’t justify eating a donut that early.  Jog to the shop.  That should cancel the calories out.

Here is hubs standing in front of the shop with Do-Rite’s large Donut statue.  So cute. So him.

I am hoping to review some more shops on the blog soon. Look for more to come!

Image source: 1/2/3/4/5/6