Chicken Parm

I’m going to try to start sharing a few of my recipes on here. I love the idea of starting my week off with a great, home cooked meal.¬†I have always loved to cook and it really is a creative outlet for me. It’s also the perfect way for me to de-stress after a day of work.

Tonight I made chicken parm. There is nothing better than cooking a simple meal with ingredients you already have in your pantry.

I used my cast-iron skillet for this recipe. This most important tip I can give you about cooking with a cast-iron skillet, is that you always want to properly heat your pan. I set my skillet over medium heat for 5-10 minutes before I’m ready to start cooking. Once the pan is nice and hot, you can then add your oil.

Next, I crushed up the bread to use for the coating on the chicken breast. I mixed the bread crumbs with a little bit of Italian seasoning and parmesan. I wish I knew moe specifically how much of each but I never measure anything!

When I have chicken breast, I like to slice them in half or butterfly them so that they cook a little bit faster.

I made an easy egg and milk mixture and added a little bit of salt and cayenne pepper. We like spicy food in our house. I dipped each piece of chicken in this liquid and then moved them to the bowl of breadcrumbs. Once the chicken was nice and coated, I added some olive oil to my cast-iron began searing the chicken.

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In order to cook all the way through, the chicken needed about three minutes on each side. When I could tell that it was done, I moved the chicken to a plate to rest while I cooked down some cherry tomatoes. I dumped about 10 small tomatoes into my cast-iron and let them blister on medium heat for about 7 minutes.

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I then added the chicken back into the pan along with half a jar of store bought pasta sauce. While these ingredients got to know each other, I set my broiler.

Finally, I topped everything with some mozzarella and another sprinkle of parmesan and transferred the whole thing to the broiler for about 8 minutes.

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In my opinion, the finished results were not only delicious but also very pretty. You know what they say! Our phones always eat first.

Below you can find a list of ingredients and simplified instructions. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • 1 can of pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Pasta

Directions

  1. Preheat skillet on medium heat for 5-10 minutes (cast-iron is best because you can transfer directly from the stove to the broiler)
  2. Mix together two eggs and 1/4 cup of milk in a medium bowl, add seasonings to taste
  3. In another bowl, add Italian bread crumbs
  4. Dip each piece of chicken into the egg/milk mixture and then into the bread crumbs, making sure that the chicken is evenly coated
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet
  6. Add chicken to the pan and cook for three minutes on each side
  7. Transfer chicken to a plate to rest
  8. Add fresh tomatoes to the skillet and cook until the skin is beginning to blister
  9. Add chicken back to the skillet along with half of the jar of pasta sauce
  10. Turn on broiler
  11. Top with mozzarella and parmesan and transfer the entire skillet to the broiler for 6-8 minutes. The cheese should become slightly brown.
  12. Enjoy as is or over pasta

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Our Engagement

I’ve been wanting to write about our engagement for a while. Mainly because I am a memory collector and I always want to be able to peek back into this part of my life. It truly has been the sweetest time of my life so far. I am getting ready to marry the love of my life!

Quentin and I got engaged on December 16th, 2017, seven months after we graduated. We met at Rockhurst University in the fall of 2013.

It was truly the most perfect proposal. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better day.

That morning, I went with my mom and sisters to go and get my nails done. I was a little bit suspicious but my mom did a really great job of throwing me off. I got my nails painted Christmas-y red. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year.

That afternoon we got dressed and ready to head down to Top of the Rock (one of my all time favorite spots in the Ozarks). My parents, Paige and John-David all left about 20 minutes before us to go pick up John-David’s friend Joey.

30 minutes later, I was starting to get stressed. Claire was taking so long to get ready. I was beginning to think that we would miss our reservation. We finally left the house and just as we got to the highway, Quentin realized that he left his wallet at home. I was so frustrated! We were definitely going to miss out reservation.

Little did I know that Q was timing everything perfectly. We finally arrived at Top of the Rock. It was a beautiful, unseasonably warm December night. The sun was just beginning to set over the lake. Quentin and I strolled around looking for my family who had beaten us there.

We walked out on a patio with a stunning view of Table Rock. I realized that no one was around. Somehow, we were the only two people around. We took in the view for a few quick minutes. It was enough time for me to realize what was about to happen. I turned towards Quentin who was getting down on one knee.

He pulled the ring out from under his shirt. He drove the entire way to Branson with the ring hidden in the armpit of his sweater! Haha!

He said a few things that neither of us can remember, but I’m sure they were so sweet. And then finally the words, “Will you marry me?”.

I burst into tears and feel onto my knees. I was wearing huge shoes and was worried that I would trip from excitement. Quentin pointed up to a balcony above us. His family had traveled all the way from Kansas City to celebrate with us that night. Both families had a perfect view of the proposal. It was the best night of my life.

We had dinner in a small, secret room. You had to enter through a false bookshelf! I remember not being able to eat. I’ll never forget the feeling of gratitude I had that night; celebrating with the people I love, cozy in a small room lit by the fireplace.

We are getting married on June 15, 2019 at the same church where my parents were married 27 years ago. Quentin, I cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives together!

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Quentin timed everything so perfectly. I can’t believe the beautiful sunset we were blessed with that night.

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JD and his friend Joey we’re so cute. They Shirley Temples were flowing.
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Our wonderful family. So many emotions!
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Quentin and I and all of our sisters.
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One of my favorite pictures. Our “first time in public as an engaged couple”. We went to Target ūüėČ
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Drinks at the Chateau on the Lake later that evening. We we’re so excited. Christmas carols were being played on the piano. There was a huge Christmas tree near the bar. We ordered espresso cocktails.

 

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Another one of my favorite photos. Everything still hadn’t set in the next day. We were on Cloud 9.

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Books I’ve Read in the Last Few Years

Reading is one of my favorite past times. There’s nothing better than, for a few hours, escaping to someone else’s world.

For the past few years I have been keeping a running list of which books I’ve read throughout that year. It’s fun to look back on each one. It almost serves as a little time machine into who I was in that small phase of my life.

One of my favorite weekend activities is going to Half-Priced Books and browsing the clearance section. One time I left with 10 books for just $30.

Sharing with others is a such a huge part of who I am so I thought that I would release my lists out into the world.

2016:

  1. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
  2. Vision in White by Nora Roberts
  3. Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts
  4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  5. Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts
  6. Happily Ever After by Nora Roberts
  7. Bloom by Kelle Hampton
  8. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  9. A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway
  10. Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin
  11. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  12. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
  13. The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson

2017:

  1. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
  2. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
  3. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  4. Watermelon by Marian Keyes
  5. The Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
  6. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store by Robin Sloan
  7. The Language of Flower’s Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  8. Mr. Miracle by Debbie Maycomber
  9. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks
  10. Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews

 

2018: 

  1. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
  2. Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

 

If you have any book suggestions send them my way!

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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

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The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of year. There is nothing better than the pure joy that fills my heart when the season rolls back around like an old friend. So much joy in fact, that sometimes it can be hard to stop and enjoy- truly savor the most important aspects of Christmastime.

Tonight I felt that I had a lot on my plate. Which is silly because I only have 2.5 days of work until I get to head home for a (much needed) 11 day break. I needed to clean up my apartment, do laundry, cook my self a healthy meal, make a packing list for home and wrap up any last minute Christmas shopping (no pun intended!!), all while trying to soak up every wonderful drop of Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas in the glow of my Christmas tree.

I decided I had to make a choice. I could either allow myself to continue to be overwhelmed the rest of the evening, or I could prioritize and focus on staying calm. I don’t know about you, but the first thing I want to do when I’m feeling stressed is to curl up under my king-sized heated blanket and watch about 10 episodes of The Office.

I made a list that looked something like this:

  • Take a moment to relax. Breathing exercise? Bath?
    • I chose a pressure point technique that is perfect for clearing the head- place your fingers under your ears behind your ear lobes, tilt your chin upwards slightly and press your fingers into the small groove for about 30 seconds.
  • Prioritize! What is actually important and realistic for me to accomplish this evening? What can wait until tomorrow or even next week?
  • Make some time for myself to do something that I enjoy.

By being intentional with my evening, I was able to accomplish the tasks that I needed to in order to feel prepared for my trip home. This created the time for me to enjoy a Tank 7 and write this blog post ūüôā

I hope this quick read can serve as a reminder that the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, as long as we don’t pressure ourselves to get everything done perfectly.

Have that glass of wine, watch The Santa Clause for the 3rd time, and indulge yourself in the cheesy Holiday novel. Your sanity, and your family will be grateful!

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Morning Routine

As part of my Lenten goal for this year, I decided that I wanted to take a break from social media and really make an effort to live in the present moment. I didn’t know how this would effect my blog writing. I decided that, if I was feeling inspired, I would write. I did not want to push myself to meet any deadlines or stretch my self to live up to unrealistic standards that I tend to set for myself.

A large part of living in the moment began with my morning routine. I have never been much of a morning person up until this year. Mornings have since become my most cherished part of the day. A great morning makes for a fantastic day.

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There is something about waking up and having time to sip some coffee and watch the sun come up. I was blessed with an absolutely beautiful sunrise this morning. Even better than watching the sun rise over the rainy clouds, was opening my copy of Jesus Calling and reading this:

“Bring Me the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Take nothing for granted, not even the rising of the sun.”

Could that have been any more perfect? God is always speaking to us. We just have to take the time to listen.

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I love to take the time to journal and pray first thing in the morning before I have the chance to become distracted by my to-do list or my iPhone. Even if five minutes is all I have to offer to God, those five minutes have the power to influence the rest of my day. God knows exactly how to speak to you and what you need to hear. This morning I was reminded of how incredibly lucky I am to be able to see the sunrise.

Meditation is another great tool for staying mindful. Many people struggle with the concept of meditation. Sitting still with your thoughts, even for just a few minutes, can seem incredibly daunting.  The key is to remember that practice always helps. Stay positive and be patient with yourself. With time, meditation will become second natured.

Guided meditation can be very beneficial to a meditation practice. There are endless options for guided meditation on YouTube or on your smart phone. I use a free app called Calm. Guided meditations can help you to stay focused and in the present. Here is a quote from my afternoon meditation:

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We have the power to have a fantastic day, everyday! Let things go by giving them to God.

Finally, have fun with your morning routine! 

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I like to start my day with a big glass of lemon water. This helps keep me hydrated and the bright citrus flavor never fails to wake me up.

 

 

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I sleep with my curtains open to make sure I wake up with the sun. This makes hopping out of bed a lot easier!

Add things to your room that make you happy. Keeping fresh flowers or your favorite stuffed animal by your bed will never fail to put a smile on your face ūüôā

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House plants: A story of young love

I am coming up on a year of living in my apartment. Having been in college the last four years, I’ve moved around a lot. As in like, once a year. My apartment definitely feels like home and it’s somewhere I want to stay for a long time.

As a little gift to myself for signing a new lease, I decided I wanted to spruce up my room with a few new decorations. I did some research and got some inspiration from numerous talented bloggers on Instagram. I have been especially inspired by the style of blogger Lunar Over Linear. Check out her blog here ūüôā¬†I began to notice how popular house plants have become. That was exactly what I needed to add some life to my bedroom.

I set out to Home Depot having done no research on house plants. I was excited when I found that they had a huge section of indoor plants available. I was nervous that this would not be the case considering it’s the middle of February.

I scanned over the plants, judging only on price and appearance. I quickly settled on a large Majesty Palm. I took it home and found the perfect spot for it in my room.

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I was so excited about how it looked. I felt like I was at the beach. My room was turning into a secret little oasis and I loved it.

Now here’s the sad part of the story. I figured out that it would be pretty smart to do some research into the care of my plant. I googled “how to care for a Majesty Palm”. Disaster struck. Every website, every blog, every post I could find, strongly warned against buying a Majesty Palm for your home. Apparently, they are one the most high maintenance, dramatic, temperamental plants you can find. They also attract spider mites… gross.

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Sorry Majesty Palm, as majestic as you looked, my personal oasis does not include spider mites.

It was back to the drawing board. This time I decided to take my time and do my research. The unanimous opinion by almost all of the online sources I found, was that the snake plant is the best indoor plant you can get. Even researchers at NASA have said that the benefits of having a snake plant in your home are huge.

I consulted my good pal Kolt. He loves plants and is very knowledgeable on the subject. He recommended that I go to a little place called Soil Service on the corner of Troost and Gregory here in KCMO. They staff were so incredibly friendly. I worked with Caleb to find the perfect Snake Plant for me. He was not only incredibly knowledgeable but also so passionate about plants.

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I am in love with my new plant. And I actually mean it. It is the perfect size and so low maintenance. It only needs water about once a month!

At night while were sleeping, the Snake Plant works tirelessly to convert carbon dioxide into fresh and pure oxygen. It also removes toxins including formaldehyde and benzene from the air. This is so beneficial for creating an ideal sleep setting. It’s pretty magical.

I have to say, this may be my first house plant (with the exception of a few succulents I already have), but it won’t be my last. Everyone should consider the benefits of owning a house plant. Not only do they provide physical health benefits, but they can also provide mental stability and wellness. Being able to love and care for something in order to promote its growth and well being is always a great thing!

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Photography by Bill Lemery, my “Poppy”

Featured on the home page of my blog is a beautiful photo of a few delicate, white peonies. I love this photo. It is hanging in my bedroom above my desk where I do a lot of writing. Its simple and clean colors inspire me to clear my mind. Something about it is just so refreshing and classic.

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The most special part about this photo is that it was a gift from my grandfather, or as I call him, my Poppy. Poppy has a true talent for photography. All of his photos capture the light just right. They are absolutely beautiful and look absolutely professional. He has natural born talent that I truly envy! Maybe I’ll inherit it one day…

I was lucky enough to get to interview Poppy about his photos and he had some wonderfully insightful things to say…

  1. Poppy, tell me a little bit about yourself

    Well, let’s see…¬†Basically there’s three things I like to do, one is eat, two is play golf and three I like to take pictures. Its just so fun to have your phone as a camera and get pictures that are not really staged. I especially like nature pictures. You know, you just see different things in¬†different light so I really do enjoy doing that. If I had my life to do over I really think I would like to be a wildlife photographer. And I love to travel.
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  2. What inspired you to take up photography?

    Well, a long time ago, I got a bird book and I actually drew this bird that was on the front of this little book. And then I started doing some drawings and things that I really liked and that was kind of a slow process. So when these little cameras started coming out when I retired I got this little camera, olympus I think it was. It was really small but it took great pictures. I carried it with me all the time when I took walks. I liked to get pictures of caterpillars and trees. I just really like the different shapes, lighting and the way lines go and how they contrast. It was something that was free and you could do wherever you go.

    I read one time that Monet said it is all about the light. He would take the same picture and paint it on different canvases but at different stages of the day to capture the difference in the lighting.
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  3. What would you say is your favorite subject to photograph?[Specifically in nature]. . . You know I really like to photograph animals but I don’t have a camera capable of capturing them so quickly and so easily. I really like insects as well. You see these little bitty insects that you don’t even realize are right in your back yard. I just like anything with a lot of color.IMG_5499.JPGBrian 198.JPG
  4. Do you have a favorite photograph that you have taken?Yes actually! I have a big picture at home hanging in our exercise room. It was from our trip to New England and its of an oak leaf hydrangea; it was a blue one. I really like that.
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    Blue Oak Leaf Hydrangea, one of Poppy’s favorite photos


    There’s another one, one I took in Colorado Springs. There’s a big resort there and I took some pictures of these flowering bushes. They had pink flowers. I really like that one. Those are probably my two favorites.¬†

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    Pink flowering bush Colorado Springs, one of Poppy’s favorite photos
  5. Is there anything else you want to add? Any advice about photography or life in general?Just be aware of your surroundings all the time, any place you go. It could be a person, it could a place, you know an insect or an animal or a tree. Take several pictures and that way you can¬†eliminate the bad ones.img_0325Let me tell you. Your uncle Brian has taught me to live in the moment. I used to be so aggressive. I love to play golf and my idea of playing golf was to play as many holes as I could possibly play,¬†as fast as I could.¬†When started¬†playing with Brian, he had to take it so slow. And I realized “You know what? I enjoy this a lot more now than when I was just trying to hurry around.” But all of¬†life is that way. Everybody’s in a hurry to get some place. Just enjoy right now.
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    My sweet Uncle Brian has taught Poppy to slow down and live in the moment
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    My beautiful Nana and Uncle Brian

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