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Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Year Already?!

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Wow, I really can’t believe it.  Craig and I are coming up on our first anniversary!  How is this even possible?  Where the heck did this year go?  I mean, there were some days and weeks (especially those leading up to exams) that seemed to last FOREVER.  I thought they would never end.  Then all of the sudden it’s been a year?  How can days and weeks drag on and on but then months and the year absolutely fly  by?

Well, I figured I would make an update post since it has been (about) a year since the wedding.  I know that most of my posts on this blog are of recipes or about one event or another, but I figured I should also go ahead and fill in at least some of the space in between.

So yeah, Craig and I got married on June 18, 2011 at The Carl House in Auburn, GA.  It was a stormy day the moved our outdoor wedding indoors, but we were married at the end of the day, and that was really all that mattered.  Well, getting married was all that mattered, but having good dance music was definitely a bonus, because I like to dance.  🙂  The wedding and reception were absolutely beautiful, and I wish I could go back and do it over and over again!  I really could not have asked for a more perfect day.

We went to Melbourne Beach, FL for our honeymoon and stayed at a wonderful B&B called Port D’ Hiver in a room called the Mangrove Suite.  We had looked at different all-inclusive resorts for our honeymoon instead, but this ended up being a better option because of Craig’s dairy allergy.  The B&B was INCREDIBLE.  I would recommend it to anyone.  Unbelievably delicious food, beautiful rooms, and right across the street from the beach.  Craig and I definitely intend to go back in the future.

And of course, no honeymoon to Florida could possibly be complete without a trip to Disney World, so we made sure to spend a day in the Magic Kingdom.  I hadn’t been since the third grade, and Craig hadn’t been since he was really little, so we were both pumped!

The day we got back to Georgia from our honeymoon, we unpacked, did laundry, and repacked to leave the next morning to visit my grandparents in Ohio. They were unable to come to the wedding, and I wasn’t sure when Craig and I would have the opportunity to visit them again once he started med school, so we piled into a minivan with my parents, Craig, Alex (my twin brother), Jada, and Molly (my family’s chocolate lab) for a twelve hour drive to Ohio (my older brother couldn’t come).  We spent a week up there, and then we headed back down to Georgia to spend July 4th with my dad’s side of the family.

On July 7, 2011, Craig and I officially moved to Charleston, SC.  That was a rough day because anyone who knows me knows that I’m basically obsessed with my family, and I just couldn’t believe I was moving 6–7 hours away.  I mean I was definitely excited for the adventure ahead, but I was sad to leave my family and friends behind.  Of course, I realize that I can’t complain too much because if you do have to move 6+ hours away from your family, there is basically no more beautiful and exciting of a place to be the Charleston.  I really do love it here.

For the rest of the summer before Craig began school, I spent some time job hunting, but we mostly chilled and used the time to just be newlyweds before we had to become newlyweds dealing with med school.  We took the time to explore downtown, spend time at the beach, get our condo set up, and find a church home before our schedules got too busy.  We also spent one week split between visiting Craig’s family in Rock Hill, SC and spending time at a mountain cabin in Blue Ridge, GA with my family.  As I have mentioned before, I think family-time is WAY more important than a lot of people these days believe, and it’s something I hope to never take for granted.  I am so thankful that Craig and I got to spend a month together just being married without too many other responsibilities, because I think it was exactly what we needed before the realities of my work and his med school would kick in.

My parents came down to visit and help us decorate our condo the weekend before Craig’s orientation at MUSC began.  It was such a treat to have them down here, although I felt like they did nothing but work that whole weekend.  My parents do interior decorating stuff for “fun” (though they should make it into a business), and they never do anything halfway!

Craig’s orientation began that next Wednesday after my parents left on Sunday, and then Craig’s parents came in town for his White Coat Ceremony that weekend.  It was a fun and exciting weekend, and it was hard to believe that everything was really going to start up for Craig that following Monday!

This handsome guy is going to be a doctor.

When school did start, as expected, it went immediately into high gear.  Craig is one of the smartest people I have every met, and I couldn’t believe how much he was having to study.  During orientation, we heard over and over again from the doctors/professors that the amount of information you are forced to learn during your first year of med school was like trying to take a sip of water out of a fire hydrant.  What a great analogy.  It was so true!

I had been looking for a job for a little less than two months, and now that Craig was in school, I didn’t know what I would do with my time (or how we were going to survive) if I didn’t find a job.  Well, God listens to prayers and knows your heart, for sure!  I got an interview for an office manager position at Beyond Wellness Chiropractic on John’s Island that Friday of Craig’s first week of classes, and I was offered the position the next week.  Such a blessing.  This was a part-time job (the doctor had just had a baby, so she had lowered her hours), so it wasn’t going to be enough work permanently, but this was such a blessing and a great start!  (Side note: If you are looking for a chiropractor in Charleston, I highly recommend BYC!  Dr. Juntz is really amazing at what she does!  Not only can she adjust backs, but she’s also done training to adjust extremities, which is great for my terrible knee.  She has had training to be able to adjust babies and expecting mothers, as well!)

Throughout the fall, our weeks were mainly filled with Craig’s school and studying and my work at the chiropractic office and house work slash learning to be domestic.  The weekends were filled with more studying and more house work, as well as Craig and I becoming more involved at our church, James Island Christian Church, and us learning the lesson that if you live in a place as wonderful as Charleston, you are sure to get a ton of visitors.  Our think our record was having visitors somewhere around seven out of eight straight weekends.  I loved having all those visitors, but wow, that was exhausting.  I was so tired of washing the guest room sheets by the end of that period!  I remember telling my friend about all the company Craig and I had during the fall, and he asked me something like, “Well when do you guys get to be newlyweds?”  What a great question!  I’m still not really sure when we found the time to be newlyweds, but somehow we managed!

My friend, Laura, came to visit before she moved to Seattle at the end of the summer. Somehow, this was the only picture we got the entire weekend.

When my mom and dad came to visit in September, we spent one afternoon at the market. My mom and I got these awesome hats there.

Craig’s mom made a trip down to visit at the beginning of October.

We were so happy when the holiday season finally approached.  First of all, my mother has passed on her unbelievable love for Christmas to me.  I really do believe it is the most wonderful time of the year, and I know that I will go even more insane for Christmas once I have children.  We visited Craig’s family two weekends before Thanksgiving, and then we spent Thanksgiving with my family.  We went up to Greenville in December to take part in the annual McKinney Family Christmas chaos that is basically a Secret Santa gift exchange, except that you have to “present” your gift (via poem, song, story, scavenger hunt, etc.).  Craig, Jada, and I had our own little McKinney Christmas morning in Charleston, and then we headed up to Rock Hill to spend time with Craig’s family during the days leading into Christmas.  On Christmas morning, after gifts and presents, Craig and I packed up our things and headed to Georgia in time for our family Christmas celebration with my dad’s side of the family.  We were there for Christmas night and December 26th, but then we had to head back to Charleston on the 27th so that I could head back to work.  I was quite sad about how little time I got to spend with my family at home, but they ended up coming to Charleston for New Year’s, so that made it much better!

Our family friend, Kim, took Christmas pictures of us over Thanksgiving break this year. 🙂

This is Craig’s cousin, Caroline, presenting my Christmas gift with the help of her older sister, Sally. Melts my heart. Love them!

Craig and I had fun decorating our first Christmas tree together. 🙂

After New Year’s, second term started right up.  Plus, besides med school and work, Craig started volunteering with MUSC’s pediatric Heart Health Program, and we both started volunteering with the children’s ministry (mainly with the two-year-olds) at our church.  We have both really enjoyed volunteering, and Craig’s most recent interest for a specialty is Pediatrics.  🙂  He’s really great with kids, so that does not surprise me at all.  A lot of students tend to change their minds about specialties once they begin hospital rotations (during third year), so we’ll wait and see.

I also decided that I needed begin looking for another job.  I was hoping to find something that would have a schedule that was compatible with my job at the chiropractic office, but I knew that was unlikely.  I applied for a few positions, but nothing seemed to be working out for me.  I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I needed to be able to work more hours.  There were of course other components that could make the imaginary new job nicer, but I wasn’t going to be picky.  Well, God knows your heart, even when you don’t directly tell Him.  At the end of February, my dad called me with a question.  He said that the person who does most of their customer service work at his company, Your Brand Cafe, was needing to lower her hours.  Their company was growing, but if they didn’t hire someone fast, they weren’t going to be able to keep up with everything.  They needed someone with great customer service skills, who was very trustworthy and organized, and they needed that somebody ASAP.  They were hoping that this somebody could be me!  The job would start part-time, around 25 hours a week, and eventually become full-time.  I would work from home, so that would save money on gas.  Plus, provided I were still working there when Craig starts his residency, the job could move with me.  The best part was when Craig and I did eventually decide that we wanted to start having kids, I would still be able to work part-time.

I was going home to be in my cousin’s wedding at the beginning of March, anyway, so we went ahead and set up a meeting to discuss everything.  I spent the rest of the month working at both Beyond Wellness Chiropractic and Your Brand Cafe, and then I switched to only working for Your Brand Cafe at the beginning of April.  God’s timing was really crazy because I ended up having to take Jada to the vet hospital the day after my last day of work at the chiropractic office.  When we finally got to bring Jada home the next Thursday and realized how much of a full-time job it would really be to take care of her and nurse her back to health, I just could not believe the timing.  If I were doing any job, even part-time, out of the home, I really have no idea what we would have done about Jada, because she needed someone there 24/7.  It was God looking out for our little two person and one dog family, and it was truly miraculous.

So we spent April and the beginning of May with me adjusting to my new job, making a trip to Chicago, and taking care of Jada, and with Craig working hard to finish up the school year, and then all of the sudden here we are.  Craig is done with his first year of medical school, and we are about to celebrate our first anniversary!

So what are we up to during Craig’s last summer break ever?  Well, Craig is working at MUSC to help them change to a new program system called EPIC.  He is working four days a week and using the fifth day as a major study and volunteering day.  We will spend a few days in the mountains to celebrate our first anniversary, as well as some time visiting his family in Rock Hill and my family in Milton.  Besides that, we are finally going to finish going through all the boxes we never had time to go through when we moved in (I’ve said it, so now I need to be held accountable), and we are enjoying the fact that when Craig is home at night, he is here physically AND mentally (rather than being physically here but mentally somewhere in medical school world).  🙂

So that was my update!  I not much of an “updater,” because I don’t really know that people would care to read about everything going on in our lives unless there is something really exciting in particular.  However, this blog is about Craig’s and my life together and us learning what is really means to be married, and marriage is not only about the exciting things.   It’s about how we grow and change as individuals and as a couple.  It’s about the everyday things, because to us, it’s the everyday things that really make marriage such an awesome adventure!

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Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Lasagna

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Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Lasagna

A couple of years ago, Craig and I had a realization.  While he may have an intolerance to cow dairy protein, the proteins from goat milk are not at all the same thing.  That means that Craig can eat goat cheese!  Now don’t get me wrong, because this was obviously great news, but there is definitely a downside to it: Goat cheese is WAY more expensive than cheese made from cows’ milk.  So even with the knowledge that Craig can in fact eat goat cheese, we really don’t splurge on it that often.  It is mostly reserved for special occasions.  Luckily for Craig, I was a wonderful enough wife to put his 24th birthday into the “special occasion” category…especially since I made certain that my 23rd birthday was in the category.  😉

The truth is I’m really not what you would call a “cheese person.”  I mean, cheese is alright, and I like it on some things, but if I’m ordering a sandwich somewhere, I will most likely make a point to ask for no cheese.  For me, it really doesn’t add too much to life (except for macaroni and nachos!), and I’d survive just fine without it.  Craig, on the other hand, LOVES cheese.  He would have probably been more willing to give up just about any other food in the world than cheese.  So he was of course thrilled when I gave him a few goat-cheese-filled meal options that I was willing to try to make Craig-friendly, and he took his time deciding exactly which one would make the perfect birthday dinner.  Finally, Craig decided on chicken, roasted red pepper, and goat cheese lasagna.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it is from a blog called Closet Cooking.  Of course, as with most meals I prepare, I had to make some changes in order to make this lasagna Craig-friendly.  I was pretty nervous when I began, because I’m really not a big fan of trying “Ashley-edited” or “Ashley-created” recipes out for the first time for a special occasion…I’m still not entirely confident in my cooking abilities.  Thankfully, this turned out AMAZINGLY…I mean it was absolutely splendid!  I know that some people think that goat cheese tends to overpower other flavors in some dishes because it is so strong, but the spices and other ingredients in this recipe balanced it out perfectly.  It was so delightful, and I would absolutely recommend this recipe (regular or Craig-friendly version) to anyone!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken (cooked and shredded)
  • 1 handful parsley (chopped)
  • 6 lasagne noodles
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
    • I used almond milk, but I also think regular soy milk would probably work well.
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
    • I definitely say you should add it if you have it!
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 3 large roasted red peppers
    • I used two 12oz jars of roasted red pepper from the store, but if you are interested in roasting your own, you can check out some directions here from the original author of this recipe.
  • 1 cup feta (crumbled)
    • I just used a little extra crumbled goat cheese.
  • 1 cup mozzarella (grated)
    • I used the mozzarella type of Daiya Cheese Alternative.  It is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy -free.  It tastes good and melts pretty well compared to other fake cheeses…and I am quite particular about not eating nasty smelling, weird textured fake cheese, so it’s saying a lot if I am willing to eat this without a problem.

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Mix in the chicken and parsley and set aside.
  7. Start cooking the noodles as directed on the package.
  8. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it is bubbling and it has turned a light golden brown.
  9. Mix in the flour and let simmer until it returns to a light golden brown.
  10. Mix in the milk, nutmeg and goat cheese and heat until it thickens.
  11. Lightly grease the bottom of an 8 inch square baking dish.
  12. Place a layer of noodles* followed by 1/2 of the tomato sauce followed by 1/2 of the feta followed by 1/2 of the roasted red peppers followed by 1/3 of the bechamel sauce. Repeat a second layer in the same fashion and top with a final layer of noodles, the remaining bechamel sauce and top with the mozzarella.
  13. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbling, about 30-45 minutes.

* To form one layer of noodles in the 8 inch square pan, cut two noodles 2/3 of the way down and use the 2 1/3 noodles to make a full row.

I recommend letting it sit for about 15 minutes or so before trying to cut and serve it, or it will fall apart like this: However, it tasted equally good either way, and Craig and I were SO ready to eat by the time I finally finished (I got a late start on dinner that night).  Yum!

You have GOT to believe me when I say that my sorry camera did not even come close to doing this meal justice.  It was amazing! I also wouldn’t be surprised if Craig began making up a lot more “special occasions” in the future so he can have more goat cheese delightfulness like this!  😉

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