Friday, January 18, 2013

My Favorite Soup!

Today I'm linking up at Kelly's Korner to share my favorite soup with you!

I used to hate soup. That may sound strange to you, but I think it's because my parents are BIG soup lovers, and I just got tired of it. I have since found so many different soups that I LOVE and especially on a cold winter's night, there's sometimes nothing I want more than a warm bowl of hearty soup.

This soup was first introduced to me by a co-worker who served it at our weekly girls lunch. I instantly fell in love and asked for the recipe. I couldn't believe how easy it was to make! It's a regular in my rotation of meals. Sorry I don't have a picture of it, but I hope you'll try it!

Tortellini and Tomato Soup with Rosemary
makes 4 to 6 servings

3 tbls. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can dice tomatoes, drained
6 cups chicken broth
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp. dried
12 ounces fresh cheese tortellini
3 cups chopped fresh spinach (I use baby spinach and leave it whole)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 5 minutes or until softened.  Add tomato and cook for a minute.  Stir in broth and rosemary, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.  Add pasta, stirring to blend, and simmer 5 more minutes.

Add spinach, salt, and pepper.  Simmer, stirring often, until spinach is wilted and pasta is just tender.  Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Books of 2012- Part 2

Hello again! I'm back with another list of books for you! If you missed Part 1, check it out. It's all the books I read for fun last year. Again, I'm linking to the where you can purchase the Kindle version on Amazon, and again, I encourage you to check out your public library to see if you can read it for free!

I loved being a part of a book club and I'm hoping I can find one to join here in the area! For the one in Nashville, we read one book each month, switching out between fiction and non-fiction. We also gathered to watch movie versions or supplemental movies when applicable.

Books I read in Book Club:

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick- This book was my favorite type of non-fiction- one that reads as fiction. Barbara Demick is a journalist and she tells the stories of six different North Koreans. This book was absolutely fascinating. I blogged about this a while back after I first read it. I highly recommend it!

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand- Ugh. This one's a beast. We allowed ourselves two months to read this because of the length. Honestly, I'm glad I read it, but only so I can say I read it. It is such an influential book and because it is referenced so frequently, I'm glad to know what people are talking about. But I really didn't enjoy it at all. At all.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand- Wow. This book was gripping, heart-wrenching, surprising, powerful, inspiring. Maybe my favorite book of the year. It is another non-fiction that reads like fiction. I flew through it and although it was hard to read, it was definitely worth it. If you read it, just remember that survival is in the title. I heard this will also be made into a movie, and I'll be the first in line to see it!

Rules of Civility by Amor Towels- This novel is set in New York City in the 1930's. A fun read, especially if you've ever visited the Big Apple! I really enjoyed it, and had the pleasure of hearing the author speak at a book signing in Nashville as an extra treat!

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown- I didn't love this book, but I think it's a good read for anyone who has experienced shame, guilt, or low self-confidence. It was a bit self-help, but I did find it interesting how the author incorporated her research. Did you know there's a science to shame?

11-22-63 by Stephen King- My first Stephen King novel! I was not sure what to expect or if I would really like this, but I really enjoyed it! Basically, it's the story of a young man who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK. I'm not a fan of science fiction, but this was realistic (enough) that I was captivated and interested.

Have you read any of these? I'd love to hear your thoughts and if there are any you'd be interested in checking out! Stay tuned for the final list- books I read for work. It's a short list, but they were really good!

Books of 2012- Part 1

Last year, I set a goal for myself. I wanted to commit to reading one book every month in 2012. Little did I know I'd join a book club halfway through the year! I was really proud of myself for completing my goal and I thought I'd share my book list in case any of you are looking for some good reads! Because I exceeded my goal, I'm splitting up my list into three posts so they won't be super long.

If you are a reader, I'd suggest checking out Goodreads. It helps you organize your reading in lists- want to read, reading, have read, write reviews, and connect with your friends to see what they're reading.

I was inspired to do this post from my friend, Pam, who reviews her list of books every year.  I will link each book to where you can find it on Amazon, but I will say that most of these books I read from the library and I highly recommend it! Whether I picked it up at my local branch or checked it out to my kindle, I saved a lot of money! I can't wait to check out the public library in our new hometown!

So, without further adieu, here are the books I read in 2012:

Books I Read on My Own:
The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks- This was the first book I read on the iPad I got for Christmas last year. And that's pretty much the only thing I remember about it. I've read every single one of his books, and they are all kind of the same, but if you're needing a good "beach read," this should satisfy that craving.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini- I had wanted to read this book for a while, but I really had no clue what it was about. It was really, really sad. But also a powerful story of redemption. I also enjoyed reading about another culture so different from my own. The jury's still out on whether or not I want to see the movie version of this.

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore-  This was a really quick, non-fiction read about two young boys, both named Wes Moore, who grew up in the same neighborhood and the drastically different paths their lives took. It was interesting and inspiring, and (in my opinion) affirmed the importance of education and parental involvement.

The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson- This was another one I'd wanted to read for a while. I tend to think I don't really enjoy historical fiction, but I really enjoyed this story that takes place in Chicago in the late 1800s. It was a page-turner! I heard it's being made into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio!

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris- This was probably one of my least favorite books. I really enjoyed the first part of the memoir, when David was talking about his childhood. I stopped laughing as much and lost interest as the book went on. Some will find it hilarious- it just depends on your sense of humor!

Bossypants by Tina Fey- Hilarious. Need I say more? I read this in three days. Loved it.

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond- If you read The Pioneer Woman blog, you will definitely enjoy this telling of her love story. While she's mostly known for her cooking and photography, she's actually a great writer (and hilarious!) and this story of how she met and fell in love with Marlboro Man is a fun and easy read.

Have you read any of these? Check back tomorrow for part 2, all the books I read in book club!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gone to Texas

Hello? Anybody out there? Remember me? It's me, Alyssa. Your friendly sporadic blogger.

Man, it's been a CRAZY past few months. Most of you who read this are also Facebook friends, so you probably already know that Marcus and I are once again residents of the great state of Texas. It is a very bittersweet time for me. I am SO proud of Marcus, who finished seminary at Vanderbilt and accepted a position at Grace Avenue United Methodist Church. We are so excited to make our new home in Frisco and be closer to family. But I was devastated to leave my amazing job at Blood:Water Mission and all the wonderful friends and places we loved in Nashville. To be honest, I don't really feel like I was "done" with Nashville. It feels so surreal to be back in Texas and not have a job or a place of our own (yet!). But I am so confident that God has called us here and feel very blessed for His provision in our lives.

I suppose this little blog will need a makeover eventually. Hopefully I will get back to blogging on a more regular basis that warrants a new design! I have several things I want to post about in the next month, and while I'm on the hunt for a new job, I should have plenty of time for that! To hold myself accountable, I'm listing them here.

-Completion of my Nashville Bucket List
-Books I read in 2012
-Review and Resolutions for 2013
-Progress on decorating our new house

Yes, we bought a house! I could not be more thankful for such an easy house buying experience and I can't wait to share pictures with you. Praying everything goes smoothly until we close at the end of January!

And finally, to celebrate my return to blogging, I want to invite you to join me in a Valentine's Day blogging party! I'm a big fan of The Crowley Party and Alycia has joined with four other bloggers to host this swap. It should be fun!


It's good to be back, blog world! I hope you'll stick around!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Welcoming Baby Ian!

I was so so excited to go home to Texas this past weekend to throw a baby shower for my sweet friend Megan. She and her husband, Kyle, will be welcoming baby boy Ian Scott in November! I'm not-so-secretly hoping he will come a little early so we can share a birthday. :)

It was so much fun to host a shower with one of my other besties, Leisha. Megan's baby bedding has a cute little alligator, so we decided to make that the theme and go with the colors of her nursery. We found a little inspiration from Pinterest (of course) and Leisha got busy with her Silhouette machine, and I love the way everything turned out! Please excuse the quality of photos- one of these days I will learn to use photoshop and take some pictures on manual...maybe.

The spread (punch, sausage balls, spinach artichoke dip, and fruit pizzas)!
Candy coated popcorn favors
The mommy-to-be!
All of Ian's goodies! Isn't the banner so cute?

This is the quilt I made for baby Ian! I used this tutorial from the Moda Bake Shop and I love the way it turned out. I think it will go great with the nursery colors and I hope Megan loves it as much as I do!

All of us!
It was so good to see old friends and celebrate Megan. I can't wait to meet you, baby Ian Scott!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Wonderful Delights of Moda Bake Shop

Hello again! It's been a while, but if you follow this blog, you've probably come to expect my unannounced absences. But I'm back this week for a couple of link ups that I'm so excited about!

When I first started sewing, I started looking at as many blogs as I could to see what others were doing and learn more about the art of quilting! I was so happy when I stumbled upon the Moda Bake Shop. Moda is an amazing fabric company that's constantly introducing beautiful collections from some of the best designers in the biz! But what I love about the Bake Shop is that they show you what you can make using their special pre-cuts. All of the tutorials are free and take you step-by-step through the process of a quilt.

I was so excited when my dear friend Stefanie gave me a Moda jelly roll for my birthday! I knew I had to head over to the Moda Bake Shop and find the perfect tutorial. I decided to use this one and hopefully I can finish it by Christmas! You've seen this picture before, but this is the last one I took.

The fabric is Jovial by basicgrey for Moda
The Moda Bake shop is full of other tutorials that I can't wait to try. I can't wait to show you the one I'm working on right now...but it must remain a secret until I give it away!

I pinned this one a while back, but I think I'll need some more practice before I can master it.

The bake shop isn't limited to quilts though! I am in love with these little coin purses! And they have the cutest projects for babies and kids

Even if you don't quilt or sew, there is enough eye candy to keep you coming back for more. Have you ever checked out the goodies at Moda Bake Shop? I hope you'll stop by for a visit!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lunch Break Make: Pencil Skirt

Did you ever think you'd see a Lunch Break Make again? It's only been eight months since the last one! Honestly, I didn't even plan on this project being a part of this series, but I was pleasantly surprised that this came together so quickly! I found this tutorial on Pinterest and already had some fabric that my sister gave me so I ended up with a FREE skirt! Woohoo!

Easy and comfortable!
Like I said, I mostly used the tutorial on Pinterest, but modified it a bit so it was even easier. Be sure to use a fabric with a bit of stretch so you don't have to bother with a zipper or elastic thread. After measuring, I folded the top and bottom over two inches and made a hem and waistband. Then I sewed together the two ends, basically making a tube. I tried it on, and pinched the extra fabric in the back and pinned. Then I took it off, inverted the spots I pinned and sewed them to make darts (sorry there is not a picture of this). And you're done!
See through fabric is better with a slip under it!
I loved pairing it with my flats for work, but I first tried it on with some nude pumps and loved that look too. The possibilities are endless with this skirt! I hope you'll try it out, and if you do I'd love to see pictures!

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