More Fall Loveliness

Hi friends. I couldn't resist putting up some more fall pictures from yesterday. I walked to Trader Joe's (picked up ingredients for Rachel Ray's really easy and delicious Southwest Turkey Burgers, minus the bacon) and on my way back I passed a school with a ton of fall-y trees that had dropped their leaves all over the sidewalk. So, I stooped down and started gathering them up. I mean, you can't just ignore free decorations made by none other than the Creator of the universe. (And, really, what're a few moments of sheer embarrassment while everyone wonders why that girl is picking stuff up off the ground going to do, kill me?) Enjoy a few more pieces of Fall, from our house to yours!

Fall Yummy Things

You all know I've been excited about cooking at home again. Well, I went to Whole Foods and it gave me too many good ingredients to ignore so I got to make some goodness tonight. I got some free-range chicken sausages with basil and sun-dried tomato and some yellow and green heirloom tomatoes. And so I made pasta with the sausage and an heirloom tomato-based cream sauce, and of course some of our home-grown basil on top!

And I now have a new favorite thing... tea floats. Last night I was having some decaf english breakfast tea and it was too hot so I was just sitting waiting for it to cool, and then it came to me. What if I put a little ice cream on top and made a float? Oh my word. So very good. Vanilla bean english breakfast float. I must remember there's ice cream in it so I don't drink them every day. But now I know they exist so they'll be tempting me.

Now off to watch USC hopefully do better than last week...

Fall is Coming!

Fall is coming! The leaves are starting to change colors and the air is getting crisp (not cold yet, just crisp.) I went to an apple festival with some friends from our small group and saw some freshly harvested apples. I've been drinking tea. And all the stores think Halloween is tomorrow, apparently. It's fun to be in a place that can feel like fall. Everyone here says that fall is the best season, so we'll have to do our best to enjoy it!

This is the view out our window at the moment with some yellowing leaves. If you click on the picture and make it bigger you can see it better.

And, in another start of a new season, this is what I've come to dub our small-group-salad that I made for our first small group meeting on Monday night. (I'm pretty sure I also made it for our first small group meeting in San Diego with our great friends there... hopefully this group turns out just as wonderfully!)

Enjoy the cooling weather wherever you are!

This Is What We Got in the Mail Today

My friends at Orfila graciously shipped me all my wine so that I didn't have to transport it myself. Since it's been so hot in SoCal, they weren't able to ship it till recently so this was like getting to unpack stuff all over again!

This is all the wine we had sent... craziness... we really need a wine fridge now...

Detail of a bottle our artist on staff did and everyone signed for us (We were leaving on a jet plane to go to art school... pretty nifty)

And this was a "gift" from everyone at Orfila... a delicious looking blend of who knows what with floating bits everywhere... mmmmmm... funny guys....

Our New Church

So we officially have a church! We're really impressed at how smoothly God has made this decision go for us. Thank you to all of you who were praying. We truly loved Green Valley in San Diego, so we knew that our expectations were high for another church family. And I honestly felt like we may just have to settle for something not as great, or that it would take months to find something. But God doesn't ever work like we expect... shocking...

Walking down our street, I had passed by this little church building a few times and thought that we should try it out, since we were so close and all. I finally looked at their website last Saturday night to see if we wanted to check it out. Unbeknownst to me, the website was just updated a couple of days before I looked at it. And it's honestly God's timing that it was, because I'm of the generation that puts a lot of stock in websites. It looked pretty good, so we went the next Sunday evening to their only service.

First impression, it's a really small church. Second impression, they're talking about Jesus and the Bible in a way we like. Third impression, these are the most welcoming people we've ever met. Since it's so small, we certainly stood out as newbies, and I think every person in the church introduced themselves to us that first day. It was very warm and inviting. The pastor called Brad that week to try and set up a lunch, though it never worked out, and he e-mailed me to set up a time he and his wife could have us over for dinner. Another woman from the church who we'd met briefly e-mailed me to see if I wanted to hang out or go to a Bible study the next day with her.

Naturally we went again this Sunday (we almost felt like we couldn't not go after everyone was so nice), and we got to be a part of the family-style church dinner they do every month. It was great. We met two couples near our age who were both fantastic and friendly and interesting, and there was again a feeling of welcome and family. We ended up signing up for a small group the those two couples were also in, and it just felt so right. I left that Sunday so excited that we're finally getting a start on having friends in Chicago! And ones that love the Lord. Yay!

So tonight, we've just gotten back from dinner at pastor Tom's house with his wife Traci. It was wonderful. They have a beautiful home (I must confess coveting their range...), and a beautiful family, and we talked for almost four hours before we realized we should probably leave them to go to sleep. (It's their 10 year anniversary today, and they still wanted us to be there, that's pretty awesome). All in all, we feel great about this being our new church home. Both Brad and I have already found places in the church where we may be of service and where we can get plugged in.

Thanks again for praying. I think this is clearly where God wants us to be. (Yay for friends!)

Stuffed, roasted chicken

One more food post, then I promise I'll get back to our daily goings-on for a bit (wait, I have no job, these are my daily goings-on). But, as you know, we got our gas turned on yesterday! So I made Tyler Florence's Roasted Chicken with Herbed Mushrooms recipe to celebrate, and it turned out amazingly. I have roasted a chicken once before and it was good, but it's still intimidating since that's that thing that every chef is supposed to be able to do. So, with a little trepidation, I went for it.

Here's the stuffed bird, ready to roast (lemons, onions, thyme, smashed garlic and salt and pepper).
This is one trussed, stuffed, bacon-wrapped, herb-covered, ready-to-roast chicken!

And here's the final product. Moist meat, salty bacon adding a crispiness, and really good reduced-in-their-own-juices mushrooms. Mmmmmm. Best compliment of the night about it? Brad: "This is the first time I've watched Top Chef and not been hungry afterward." Success! Here's the link to the recipe if any of you want to try it out on your own sometime! Tyler's Roast Chicken with Herbed Mushrooms. Enjoy!

In Honor of our Gas Being Turned on Tomorrow

We have a gas stove and a gas range in our new apartment. And I'm really excited about a gas range, I've never really cooked on one and everyone says they're so much better. But having such things makes no difference when the gas company takes three weeks to turn your gas on and so leaves you applianceless. (PS - having a gas company with a complete monopoly on a big city likes this makes for truly awful customer service and heinous wait times). Since I can do nothing about the situation but wait, I've been waiting. And not cooking much. And getting antsy.

But tomorrow the day is finally here, and I will have an oven and a range again, yay! So tonight, I "cooked" us something to prepare for the real cooking to come. It was a simple caprese salad, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil (picked off my brand new basil plant!), but the special touch was roasted garlic (in the toaster oven). This was my second attempt at roasting garlic, and the first time something went horribly wrong, but this time it was great. All in all, pretty yummy.

And at the church we visited on Sunday, (which we think may be our new church home... right down the street, great people, preaching Bible and Jesus... but that's another post) one of the couples found out I'd worked at a vineyard and immediately started asking if I knew of any good cheap wines out there. I gave a few suggestions, but I realized that there are so few options that you can trust as far as good wine. So if Brad and I ever run across one, I will post it on our blog and let you know about it. So, cheap wine of the week: Masciarelli Trebbiano d'Abruzzo. We found this at a local wine store when they were tasting it. I was intrigued by it because Orfila grew Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, and this grape is from the same region. But it's a crisp, dry, slightly acidic white that is really nice. And it was only $9.99!

Sorry for the long post, I will probably do more food/wine posts because I really enjoy it, but I'll keep them to picture and little explanations.

Preliminary Apartment Pics

So, as promised, some pictures! Here is the dining room/Brad's workspace (look at the new huge table! We can actually have people over now!)

On to the tiny little kitchen, but with a really cool view of Graceland Cemetery across the street.

And our new living room, with our awesome tree-lined street and our huge bank of windows. It's been great with the beautiful weather we're having so far!

New Blog!

Hello to everyone out there! We've decided to set this up for so our friends and family can all be caught up on our every move. As soon as I get a bunch of boxes cleared away, I'll post pictures of our not-quite-finished apartment. Stay tuned!