Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Laura’s Loaded Potato Soup

I love this quick and incredibly satisfying potato soup. Andy and I slurped it down and immediately went back for seconds. I’m hoping to beat him to the leftovers, since I don’t think there will be enough for both of us!

A few notes: Prep time will go even faster if you cook the bacon ahead of time. It also doesn’t hurt to chop the whole onion while you’re at it and save the rest for a later use. I use an immersion blender, but if you don’t have one you can either let the soup cool for a few minutes and blend in a blender (working in batches and holding a towel over the lid). A potato masher would work fine, too. Don’t let the thought of canned potatoes turn you off! The soup tastes great and they’re what makes this recipe cook so quickly! If you decide to use whole potatoes, know the cook time will be longer.

Laura’s Loaded Potato Soup
serves 6
hands on time: 10 minutes
total time: 30 minutes

4 cans sliced white potatoes, drained
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped 
1 quart chicken broth
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup half and half (milk would do)
salt and pepper
3-4 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
3 green onions, diced (dark green part)
1/2 cup shredded cheese

1. Cook the bacon and chop yellow onion and green onions in between turning the bacon.
2. Place drained potatoes, yellow onion, chicken broth and butter in a large saucepan over high heat. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper, cover the pan and let the mixture come to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to a simmer (low) and continue to keep the pan covered. Cook for 20 minutes.
4. Stir in half and half and add the crumbled bacon.
5. Blend the soup to your preferred consistency. (I like it mostly creamy with just a few chunks.)
6. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
7. Serve topped with a tablespoon or so of shredded cheese and a pinch of green onions.

If you’re feeling wild and want to add a spoonful of sour cream, I’m sure it’d be delicious. But it doesn’t need it — trust me! 

Monday, November 28, 2011


have you tried Siggi's Icelandic style Skyr? It's strained yogurt, and it's delicious. Extremely thick, but delicious. Plus, it's only 100 calories, has waaay less sugar than most yogurts (it comes from natural agave) and it packs in a heck of a lot of protein.

I bought an individual vanilla-flavored yogurt today and spent half an hour spooning out small bites of the stuff. I love food that takes time to eat - I'm more likely to savor it, and I'm also more likely to get full. This was definitely filling. It's thicker than greek yogurt, but has a similar flavor (in my opinion). I'm regretting not buying more. Next time I want to try their orange-ginger flavor.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving at the cabin

The Rennies, Thanksgiving 2008 - Casey @ 6 months

Me + Dad, Thanksgiving 2011 - Casey @ 3 1/2

Holidays at the cabin are extra special. We've had the cabin for almost 20 years now, and each visit is just as special as the last.

Andy, my parents, and my sister and brother-in-law arrived on Wednesday. I don't know what they did on Thanksgiving, because I was at work. It was a tough day - I've never had to work a holiday before, and I've never been alone on a holiday, either! But I barreled through it and made it to the cabin around 9:30 at night. I attacked my husband with snuggles, put my feet up and buried my nose in "Mockingjay."

My family sweetly waited to have Thanksgiving dinner until Friday. We had an incredible homemade meal of roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, apple and cranberry crisp, corn casserole, asparagus and my sister's amazing butter rolls. For dessert my mom made pecan pie and -my favorite- pumpkin cheesecake.

Unfortunately, I never got any pumpkin cheesecake. Neither did anyone with two feet. 

my mom's face at the end is my favorite.

My mom had put the cheesecake on the screened in porch to cool. My dad didn't know this, however, and left the door to the porch open. Casey and Ellie (my parent's dog) licked the pie pan clean.

We don't think Casey ate much, even though she looked VERY guilty when my mom confronted the dogs with the pan. Ellie, on the other hand, acted like she had nothing to do with it, but got extremely sick. She took a trip to the vet and is doing much better. 

It was a great weekend. We had a fire, we watched Arrested Development, Thor and Captain America, the boys cut wood, my mom and sister cooked, the pups played, I finished "Mockingjay" and read "Sarah's Key," and we all drank cup after cup of coffee.

Can't wait to go back to celebrate Christmas/New Years! Hope it snows. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a little tuesday trivia

here are some quotes from different "girl-y" movies. you guess the movie. the answers are below each question in white type, so you'll have to scroll over them to see. Let me know how you do... I didn't make it easy. :)

"I Can't Have No Affair Because It's Wrong And I Don't Want Earl To Kill Me Pie... Vanilla custard with banana. Hold the banana."

"You're up, you're down, you're here, you're there, you're like a frickin' one woman circus."
How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days

"I'm going to get some eucalyptus candles 'cause it makes my apartment smell moss-ay!"
You've Got Mail

"I'm ugly and awkward and I always say the wrong things. I fly around throwing away perfectly good marriage proposals. I love our home, but I'm just so fitful and I can't stand being here!"
Little Women

"Happiness isn't happiness without a violin-playing goat."
Notting Hill

"All of you people, there is a big world out there... bigger than prom, bigger than high school and it won't matter if you were the prom queen, the quarterback of the football team, or the biggest nerd in school. Find out who you are and try not to be afraid of it."
Never Been Kissed

"We were up to our elbows in your underwear drawer. It was like touching the Shroud of Turin."

"I love Eggs Benedict, I hate every other kind."
Runaway Bride

Sunday, November 20, 2011

kid nation


Have you heard of or seen the show "Kid Nation? It aired in 2007 on CBS.
40 kids (ages 8-15) were placed in a stranded town called "Bonanza City" in New Mexico for 40 days. The town was set up to look like an old pioneer town, and the kids slept on cruddy mattresses, used outhouses, pumped their own water and used an extremely old-looking (and unsafe looking) stove. Four of the kids made up the town council and they each ruled a team. The whole goal was for the kids to create a functioning town.

We've been watching the show on youtube and DYING. We just finished episode three and I'm so hooked.

poor little jimmy!

this video makes me laugh every time I watch it

Thursday, November 17, 2011

sitting on my swing

I attended an event on campus last night (more on that later) at Taylor Down Under, a student lounge at JMU where I used to get coffee, play endless games of Clue and *try* to study. When you walk out of TDU you are looking out over Hillside Field, which is where the band and the archery team practice. On the left are three dorms - one of which I lived in freshman year. Right in front of you, overlooking the field, are several metal swings, like porch swings, only they aren't on a porch.

I used to sit on those swings and listen to The Shins on repeat, rocking back on forth, staring at the stars, wondering how long Andy and I would last. 

I hadn't sat on one of those swings in years. It was dark outside when I left the event, and not many people were outside. I plunked down on "my" old swing, not caring that my jeans immediately got soaked from the rain.

I looked over the field, and I remembered.

The nights Andy and I ran around the field with our arms out like airplanes, singing "Come Fly With Me." Gosh we were so cute.

The time I convinced someone (Kristen, was it you?) to climb up to the platform used for the band director to stand on. We stood towering over the field and screamed our hearts out, and I imagined I was in the scream scene from "Garden State."

The night it was sheeting down rain and Becca and I ran outside and thew ourselves into the mud, dancing and wrestling and smearing it on each other's faces and hair.

Hearing the band practice. I miss that.
Playing frisbee.
Watching the ducks.

I sat there, and I remembered.
And then I thought about where I am now. Six years later.

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

reading on a rainy day

What are you reading right now? I'm on book two of The Hunger Games series, and boy am I hooked. The trailer for book one gives me chills every time I watch it.

If you're not reading anything, why not read this article (it's short) from The New Yorker - my favorite line is  "my loneliness was toxic; the future was coleslaw, mop water..."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2011 gift guide

santa was at the mall on friday night. whaaaaat?
guess it's that time of year...

for the book lovers

any of the Penguin Classics books make a great gift
I'm especially in love w/ these book covers
(but I'm a bit ashamed to admit I haven't read any of these yet)
black beauty is from the thread collection, the three musketeers is from the graphics collection
and oliver twist is from the hardcover classics collection

A subscription to The New Yorker isn't cheap,
that's all I have to say.

these funny monster bookmarks are an easy craft
that wouldn't take much money to make.

for the coffee lovers
if the coffee lover in your love doesn't have a coffee grinder,
this little guy will change his/her life.

I love these Starbucks classic mugs - you can buy
a tall, grande or venti - or, be like me and buy all three (for yourself)
-I bought mine at Starbucks, but not all stores carry the same merch-
trader joe's chocolate covered espresso beans are outta control

for the fashionistas

this "saddle blanket" infinity scarf may be
from the juniors section at Nordstrom, but
no one has to know!
wouldn't this look HOT with a leather jacket
or a pea coat?
jewelry is a TERRIBLE gift idea if you don't
really know the taste of the recipient.
but this simple kate spade bangle would go with everything -
and come on, it's kate spade! it's an expensive-looking
gift that someone can wear every day
this sweet headband is only $10
I bought it for Chicago (you can see me wearing it
on the second to last pic in this post)
you could buy it for your lil sis or your big sis!

for the stylin' guys
this inexpensive, no-frills Timex is a classic for a reason!

these Legend of Zelda cuff links crack me up.
the etsy shop has tons of funky options to fit your guy's personality
(I'm also digging "the dharma initiative" links)
this wooden iphone case is SICK

for the next Food Network stars
grate cheese over soups, salads and entrees like a pro
with this restaurant-style rotary grater

this food pod keeps eggs/pasta/seafood/etc all together
for easy draining
plus, it's super fun to look at
presentation is key - and this stinkin' adorable
porcelain "basket" (aka pretend
berry basket) would be a piece the recipient would
want to use again and again

Thursday, November 10, 2011

adventures in journalism

if you haven't heard my
"take your dog to work day" story,
read it at the bottom of this post

so on Monday I took back my two week's notice. I'm going to continue working here until Andy and I know more about our future. Things are hazier than we expected. On the spot for tomorrow my calendar reads "LAST DAY" in big letters. Crossed out.

I got accused of "just wanting a going away party."
That's my coworkers way of saying they're glad I'm staying.

then I got an e-mail from a friend saying he saw a position opened up at the newspaper and he wanted to know if I recommended it.

"actually...that's my job. but I took my job back."

aaaand then today I found out that my position was being advertised as 28 hours a week. I currently work 33. Starting next week I'm not allowed to work over 28/week. Hmmm.

It's a blessing in many ways, though. More time w/ the pup. More time to clean (I've been slacking). More time with friends. More time to SERVE (one of my resolutions).

ALSO. I had a voicemail at work today that said, "I feel terrible. I've never been groped or officially harassed by Herman Caine."
that was it.
this is what my job is. listening to a bunch of crazies.

........... okay. here is what happened on "take your dog to work" day:
Casey HATED the office. She freaked out when her paws hit the linoleum floors. Her tail was between her legs the whole time. :(
I decided to take her outside and she did her business and seemed much happier. We went back to the newsroom and I let her off the leash to explore. When I went to check on her, guess what I found?
She had pooed right in front of the managing editor's office. It was not a small poo.
thank goodness he wasn't in his office...
I had to page the janitor and I felt SO bad. I took care of the poo and he worked magic on the carpet.
My coworkers were DYING. They thought it was the funniest thing ever.
When the editor came back he asked what the spot was in front of his office. My editor said, "Oh, one of the dogs had a little accident, but it's all cleaned up."

I just hope he never searches my name on Google and finds this post and realizes it was MY dog and it was NOT a little accident.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

some wednesday cuteness

this is the face we got to see all weekend. lucky us :)

(sooo happy to be in warm weather!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011 resolutions update - reality hits

I really did not want to write this post. I'm doing it anyway, because I read recently that it's important to review what accomplishments have been made and then recognize where you fell short and what you need to do differently.

1. Read 26 books, including 5 classics and 1 biography
        yeah... I don't think I've even read 15 books so far this year. Maybe I have. Definitely not five classics though, or a biography. we'll see how fast I can catch up on this one.
        I did read several of the books that I wanted to read this year, though, so that's something.
        I should probably have made this resolution easier to acheive. I normally would have reached this goal by now, but most of the books I've read so far have taken me weeks (instead of days) to finish.

2. Take a vacation with just Andy 
       didn't exactly happen.
       however, we DID go skiing with my family, went to the beach with a bunch of friends for a whole week, flew to chicago and saw the Bears win w/ our fav. Bears fans, and tomorrow we're off to Tampa to visit Kevin and Jackie. So, no "just the two of us" vacation, but lots of happy memories!
      I don't think there's anything we could or should have done differently about this one. We're so glad that we've gotten to do so many fun things this year, and we still got to be together!

3. Get my body bathing-suit ready for our beach trip in June
       YES. I did do that! whoohoo!

4. Become more involved in the community
       I did, but not nearly as much as I wanted to/could have.
      I think the big issue was that I felt like I had enough on my plate. I wish I had committed at least an hour a week to volunteering - I could have done that.
5. Memorize a verse or passage each month
      mmm... I don't think I've memorized ten so far.
      but I do read the same two passages every day at work so they'll be on my mind - 2 Peter 1:3-8 (which I have mostly memorized) and Psalm 119:33-40. I think of Psalm 63 on at least a weekly basis... "my soul thirts for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water..." and I quote Luke 18:13b constantly - "Have mercy on me, a sinner."
     I'm thinking about starting a new blog - a side project, you could say - dedicated to growing in the knowledge of God. Encouraging others in their faith should (SHOULD) help me hold myself accountable.

how are your resolutions going?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

google fail

I made Andy meatball lasagna on Friday. I didn't have a recipe, so I was going to browse some online before running to the store. I accidentally googled "meatloaf lasagna," though. Gross, right? I felt dumb and almost deleted my browsing history because I KNEW Andy would see it and make fun of me. Then I decided it would be funny if he saw my mistake.

Andy had just gotten home from Springfield when I walked in the door with my groceries. We didn't say much to each other, just a quick "hi." He helped me bring in some bags, I gave the dog a bit of attention.
Then it happened.
"Babe. I looked at your browsing history..."
It took me a second to get it. I blushed and wrinkled my nose in embarrassment.
"I know," I said. "Meatloaf lasagna?!"

Andy hooted with laughter and I started giggling and then we ran towards each other for a hello I missed you you are my favorite person hug.

I love us.

not exactly the recipe we used, but close

I can't find the exact recipe we used, but this one has the exact same ingredients - just different cooking directions. I would not agree that it serves 10. I'd say it serves 6, maybe 8.