Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Best Lentil Soup EVER!

Italian Lentil and Barley Soup

1 Cup Dried Lentils
1/3 Cup Pearled Barley (sometimes I have a hard time finding this -- it's often in the health food section of the grocery store)
1-2 Cups Carrots, chopped
1-2 Cups Celery, chopped
1 Cup Onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Dried Basil
1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
3 1/2 Cups Broth (I use Better Than Boullion vegetable base)
2 1/2 cups water
14.5 oz. can Italian-Style Diced Tomatoes
1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, finely chopped (optional)
2 Tbs. Cider Vinegar (optional)
Italian Sausage (I buy the Italian Sausage links that come in packs of five links and then break open the sausage casing and put the chopped up or broken up sausage in the soup--I normally put in most of the links)

Sort and rinse lentils. Add all ingredients to crockpot in order listed (except parsley and vinegar). Cook on Low 12-14 hours or High 5-6 hours. Discard bay leaf and add vinegar and parsley if desired.

I have been looking for a good lentil soup recipe for years and I got this from a neighbor a few months ago. It is absolutely delicious and goes great with homemade bread! If you try making it, I'd love to know what you think.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Happy Couple!

Last weekend we were able to go the wedding reception of a good friend of mine. It was so much fun to see her and I'm so glad she married a guy whose parents live so close to us (only a little over an hour away!). It's only been a month since I've seen her or any of our other friends out west but I already miss them all so much. It was so much fun to see you, M! Congrats on your marriage and good luck!
I heard the bride and groom did not dance at their reception out west. For those of you who are eager to see dancing pictures, they actually did dance to one song at the reception we attended. I believe it was a tradition among the groom and his friends. If I remember correctly, the line dance was referred to as the John Deere and was elegantly performed by the bride and groom, as you can see below.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Refinishing

The weekend after we moved into our new place Mr. Rochester's parents came up for a visit. Well, it wasn't actually a let's-have-fun-and-do-things type visit but more of a let's-help-the-kids-unpack-and-get-their-new-house-in-order visit. Mr. Rochester's dad brought all of his tools to help fix things that had broken in the move (he also brought us two new bookshelves he'd made for us!). Mr. Rochester's dad is a genius with wood and was really able to help us with so much. Yes, for anyone who is curious, he actually fixed our entertainment center that has been falling apart for the last few years. I think the entertainment center is now on its last leg but the doors have been put back on and hopefully they will stay that way for at least another two years! While Mr. Rochester and his dad were busy working on furniture items, Mr. Rochester's mom and I were hard at work unpacking and organizing things. We all worked hard the entire weekend to get things unpacked. By the end of the weekend, we were all exhausted.
A few years ago we bought a second-hand solid wood desk for about $20 that needed a little love. With the help of his dad and his dad's tools, Mr. Rochester refinished the desk. It sure was a dusty job -- check out all the dust in the air in our kitchen from where he sanded it down! We should have taken a picture of the actual finished product but it looks really good. No more scratches or dings and he stained the desk from a dark walnut to a dark mahogany. It's beautiful and he did a great job!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Superfriends: B.B. & Willie

Mr. Rochester recently had a birthday. For his birthday, I wanted to surprise him because he is always so good at surprising me. So a few months ago I got a tip from a friend that Willie Nelson and B.B King were going to be doing a concert together in the state we were moving to. I bought some general admission tickets and made reservations at a neat old bed & breakfast for us. Although it was ridiculously hot and humid outside (yes, the concert was outside in the middle of the hot summer!), we had a lot of fun. Mr. Rochester was very surprised. We took the picture above of B.B. & Willie -- it was a low light situation but despite the noise in the picture, I thought it turned out well. The next day the birthday festivities continued as we went to see The Dark Knight and spent the evening with friends (eating ribs, I might add). The ribs were fantastic too (and I don't normally eat ribs)! I've decided that someday we will get a grill and Mr. Rochester must learn how to cook ribs the way his best friend did because they were GOOD.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Big Move!

Although we have yet to unpack the final box (oh, far from it!), tonight I feel like we are finally beginning to settle into our new, little rental house, so far from where we used to live. The move went...okay. It could have been much worse. Like a crazy person, I decided to work the last week we were moving. Don't ever do that. Despite my being at work 8 hours a day that week, we got everything done with the help of my brother and some dear friends of ours. We couldn't have done it without them! Thanks to you all!!
To move all of our stuff, we rented 12 ft. of space in an ABF truck and it was packed!
We loaded our allotted space, put a partition up and then ABF picked up the truck and loaded it with commercial items. It took about four business days for our stuff to reach our destination. Once it arrived, the big semi-truck had to find a place to park because unfortunately for us, we didn't realize we had some low-hanging tree branches at the end of our driveway that prevented the truck from dropping off the cargo part into our driveway. After about an hour of trying to figure out with the ABF driver (he was great! how many people would actually help us try to figure this out for an hour when all they were supposed to do is drop off some cargo!) how we could unload our belongings from the truck, the truck driver left us to go find a pole saw to rent to saw off the tree branches in the way. Our options for getting our stuff included seeing if one of our neighbors would allow us to drop the truck off in their driveway (we tried knocking on all of their doors but no one was home), dropping it off in the middle of the street (that was a no go because it was a busy street and ABF did not want to do that), dropping it off up another street that wasn't so busy, or getting a pole saw to get rid of the branches. We were about to leave to go find a saw when our nearest neighbor came home. We ran up to introduce ourselves and asked her if she could help us with our dilemma. Like a saint, she obliged us with our request and we were able to call the truck driver who came back lickety split to drop off our stuff. We were so grateful for the kindness of our neighbor and the truck driver. We are also very grateful for the young men from our local LDS ward that helped us unload. I also had two good friends from high school that came to help us unload and it was so fun to see them! We unloaded everything into the house in under two hours and the ABF people picked up their cargo holder shortly after that. We are so thankful for all the people that helped us unload our stuff in the awful heat and humidity.
Me and my brother before we moved. Thanks for all your help, goob!
Mr. Rochester with our friend and HD repairman during the big move. Thanks for all your help, B. Deep down, we're all Dodgers fans. Mr. Rochester and I were completely exhausted by the end of the week and I can truly say I am glad we probably won't be be moving again for another two years.