Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ryan's 25th Birthday

I didn't take any fancy pictures this week, so it'll be a short post about life with the Merrills', which doesn't happen too often nowadays. So enjoy the peek into our simple little life :)

This past Wednesday was Ryan's 25th birthday. 25! Holy moly! For some reason him turning 25 is so weird. It was not too long ago when we were 20 and 21 and freshly married. And now he's 25! Okay, time for me to calm down. *deep breath*

Last Saturday, I told Ryan I would make him any breakfast for his birthday. He chose French Toast with a copycat recipe of the Magleby's syrup as well as homemade whipped cream and bacon on the side. It was a delicious Saturday morning and a good beginning to his birthday celebrations.



Sunday evening was the family celebration. His mom made chicken cordon bleu along with some tasty sides such as mashed potatoes, fresh *chilled* pineapple (the chilled part is a MUST for Ryan), and oven roasted broccoli. For dessert was his favorite, Skor Cake (or "better than whatever" cake as it's known in Utah. "Better than sex" cake to you secular-folk, ha!). It was a lovely dinner and presents were opened afterwards.

He got a ton of his favorite candy such as Hot Tamales, Good and Plenty, Swedish Fish, Reese's mini peanut butter cups, and Bottle Caps. He also got a gift card to California Pizza Kitchen, some new dress shirts, and a comic book/graphic novel from me.

This is what I got him. We're big Avatar nerds :)
 He also got...

an iPhone 6 Plus!


Well, not the real one yet. By the time we celebrated his birthday on Sunday, the phone was still shipping from China. So Craig put together a fake one, making sure to get all the specs right including size, width and weight! Ryan loved playing with it even though it wasn't the real deal.


the quarters were to make it the proper weight of the real iPhone 6 Plus. 

Despite the fake phone (or more actually INspite of the fake phone. He really loved that thing), we had a fun night.

The birthday boy with his cake. And a photo-bomb from Alan. Classy.

Wednesday was the real celebration. I asked Ryan if he wanted to go out for dinner and then see a movie. We went to Red Robin, a favorite of his, and then caught a 7:10pm showing of "The Maze Runner" since we had both just finished the book the night before. Dinner was delicious and the movie was pretty good, even though it wasn't much like the book except that they both contained mazes and they did run through it occasionally. That's pretty much it on the similarities. But it was still a fun movie.

Ryan at the theater, being nonchalant while I went to the bathroom.

My movie candy of choice

Ryan's movie candy of choice

All in all, it was a splendid day and a great way to celebrate a quarter century of life.

And now for the sappy stuff. I am so thankful that we were assigned the same family home evening group back when we lived in Raintree. I am thankful that he was persistent despite my initial distant demeanor. I am thankful that I listened to my gut and gave this guy a chance. I am so thankful that he showed his personality and made me realize we were very similar and liked similar things. I am so thankful he was patient with me while I discovered I loved him. And I am so thankful he proposed and I said yes.

Thank you, Ryan, for being alive and for loving me each and every day. I love you so much and look forward to your 30th, 50th, and hopefully we are both alive to see your 75th birthday. At that point, we'll have been married over 50 years! Wowza! Anyways, I love you and I'm glad we are together :)

Okay, sappy stuff over.

Ryan did eventually get his iPhone 6 Plus. It was the next day while we were at dinner with Ryan's parents. It's a MONSTER of a phone, but he couldn't be any happier.

Ryan's hand for scale. 

Well, hopefully I'll be back to practicing my photography next week. I'm a little ashamed of my hasty iPhone pics. But sometimes that's all one can do during a particularly busy week. Until next time!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Homemade Goodies

Last Sunday, I had a rare afternoon free (nowadays our church meets at 1:30, so most of the morning is spent being lazy and the afternoon is spent worshipping) and I had a baking bug that I needed to get rid of. So I made some delicious homemade white bread and used up the lemons I had in my fridge to make some lemon curd. Allow me to be a food blogger for this one post and share my creations. Plus, food photography is a tricky beast to tackle and I wanted to try my hand at it.

Crusty White Bread
Revised from a family recipe
Makes 2 regular-sized loaves

Ingredients
2 TBS yeast (approx. 2 packets)
2 cups water, warm (105-115 degrees, or slightly too warm to the touch)
2 TBS granulated sugar
1 TBS salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil (plus extra for brushing)
6 to 6 1/2 cups of flour
Butter/margarine for rubbing on finished loaves (optional)

Instructions
Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in sugar, salt, oil and let it sit 5 minutes until bubbly. Add 3 cups of flour and beat with the dough hook until smooth. If you're doing this by hand, stir it until smooth. Keep adding flour a half-cup at a time until the dough is easy to handle. If doing by hand, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic-- about 8-10 minutes. If using a mixer (like me), keep beating the dough on low for 8 minutes or until the dough no longer sticks to your skin and pulls away from the bowl.

Place dough in a greased bowl, brush the top with oil, cover and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes.

Punch the dough and divide it in half. Shape each ball into a loaf by tucking the dough in the bottom and smoothing the top out. Make sure the ends are sealed under the loaf.

Place loaves seam-side down in greased loaf pans (I use 9x5x3 inch pans). Brush them with oil and let rise until double, about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake about 35 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Take the loaves out of their pans and rub the tops of the hot loaves with butter/margarine if desired. Set them to cool on a wire rack or on the counter, whichever you prefer.

Eat and enjoy!




Lemon Curd
Recipe taken from Martha Stewart
Makes approximately 2 cups


Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1 TBS grated lemon zest
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
8 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (I used regular salt)
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Instructions
In medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, zest, and egg yolks; whisk in lemon juice and salt.

Add butter and place pan over medium-high heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until butter has melted and the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and small bubbles for around the edge of the pan, approximately 5 minutes (do not boil).

Remove pan from heat while continuing to whisk. Pour curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass bowl. Press plastic wrap against the surface of curd and refrigerate until cool.


The lemon curd was a little tricky to make. I had it on the heat a little too long and the bottom edges of the pan started burning the curd. So I have little flakes of burnt lemon curd in my jars, so I would recommend that whatever you use to stir the curd, make sure it can reach the corners of the pan. Also, the taste is a little on the intense side, so maybe a little less lemon than instructed. The next time I make curd, I'll see if I can find a recipe that uses less lemon or maybe less egg yolks. That is seriously a LOT of egg yolks! But I guess you can whip the whites into a merengue and make a lemon merengue pie.

It was a fun afternoon of baking. I can't afford to do that all the time, but when I do get a chance I always feel a sense of accomplishment. Plus, having the smell of homemade bread wafting in your apartment is SO worth the effort!

Well, today is Ryan's birthday celebration at his parents house. He's turning 25! I can't believe that when I first was married to him he was 21...time sure does fly when you're having fun :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Our State Fair

On Friday, Ryan and I made the trek up to the Salt Lake City fairgrounds to attend the annual state fair, an event I LOVE attending to cap off the summer. Ryan is very willing to embrace my weird obsession with fairs and carnivals and he even looked like he enjoyed the fair (except at the end when his feet were getting tired. To be honest, my feet were tired too).

I wanted to get some good fair pictures while I was there, but alas, I didn't bring my tripod so I didn't get a chance to try out some long exposure carnival ride photos. So for now, these will have to do. But doing long exposure is certainly on my "to-do" list!

General fair hubbub

An entertaining fire-juggler. He also cracked a whip around, which was cool.






Gosh, I can't resist a good ferris wheel picture. Even if I hate riding them.
Reindeer!

This one like licking metal.

Ryan insisted on poking some of the bunnies.

Here he is in the act of poking one now (sporting a really awesome rubber arm...)

A funky-looking bird. We couldn't stop laughing at it!

Another funky-looking bird. It looks like the head can go inside the body like a turtle!

Deep-fried oreos! So delicious!

More ferris wheel.
I told Ryan to look off in the distance. He's a very good, if not literal, model.


Attempting a selfie with the ferris wheel. I attempted this many times and this was the best we got. Not too shabby, though Ryan looks a little loopy and I look a bit manic. And so it goes at the fair.
And there you have it! Most of the time when I'm at a fair, the last thing I care about is good pictures. I'm more about being present and experiencing the smells and sights and sounds of the fair. But since these pictures weren't quite what I was hoping for, I'm going to make sure next year I get a good batch of photos before I dive into the deep fried goodness of the fair.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sneak Peek of the Apartment

Ryan and I have been living in our new apartment now since the beginning of June. And can you believe that it's STILL not all the way unpacked? Mostly this is because of a clear lack of effort. We got most of the necessary stuff unpacked within 48 hours of moving and even got the living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom all cute and presentable within the first week.

It's been the pesky computer room that has taken so much time to get situated. And I was waiting to post pictures of it when it was finally all organized and somewhat photogenic. Well, the room is still in shambles and so real pictures will have to wait. For now, I took some macro photos of things around the apartment that make me happy.

 So allow this to satiate your appetite until we FINALLY get everything unpacked (which hopefully will be this week!).
















So there you have it. The Foundations Trilogy and Peter Pan books were anniversary presents to each other (the theme for 3 years married was leather and that was as close to a leather-bound book that we could find with our limited resources) and I love how they look!

Look forward to actual apartment pics in the near future :)