Thursday, January 31, 2013

Honeymoon @ Sun Palace

Originally Posted 8/21/11 - Reposted with pictures and other edits on 1/31/13

Photo taken by Autumn Skye Photography.
We're married.  & home from our honeymoon.  & in love completely.  I can't believe we've been married for a little over a month now.  It seems so much longer; in a good way!  I'm loving cooking new dishes and just hanging out with my husband at night withOUT him having to leave when it's bed time.  It's just wonderful.  Sometimes I think I might be a little strange by how much I love being a wife... everything about it is just wonderful and I feel so blessed to have such a beautiful life.
Photo taken by Autumn Skye Photography.
Photo taken by Autumn Skye Photography.
Our honeymoon was amazing.  If only it could have been longer! We went to Sun Palace all-inclusive resort in Cancun for 6 days and 5 nights.  The service at the resort was excellent and everyone was extremely friendly and helpful.
Just getting to the resort. So tired but so excited!
TIPPING: Tips were included but we tipped when we felt like a server went above and beyond others. However, we learned at the end of our trip how much the employees made from a fellow guest that had been there three times previously. So next time we go, we'll be sure to tip everyone at least a $1. They are definitely deserving of more with the amount of attention they provide to each guest.
LOCATION: The resort is at the beginning of the strip of resorts so it's the first drop-off and last pick-up for the airport transfer which was nice. (We booked with Best Days for $35 roundtrip transfer for two.) The best part about it being at the beginning of the strip was that it wasn't busy at all. It was just our resort, the one to the left of us and one that was pretty far down on the right. This made for a very relaxing time and a very uncrowded beach.

BEACH: The beach was incredibly clean, there were plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas that the beach attendants would set up immediately if there weren't any free ones.  There was service on the beach for food and drink and they came around about every 10 minutes which was wonderful. (Lemonade was so good! It's more limey than lemon but it's delicious!  Def try it!)

Our Room! Once inside, you place your key card in a thing to turn the lights on. How nifty is that!?
The Hallway. At the end there's a balcony that's open to everyone with lounge chairs.
There were 4 restaurants on site - Oriental, Mexican, Grill, American and Italian.  We ended up eating at the Oriental place twice cause it was our favorite.  (You could also eat at any of the other two Palace Resorts in Cancun, if you wanted to make the trip to another.) 
Breakfast the day we ordered room service. Not gonna lie, we were pretty excited about being able to order room service. ha
Breakfast and lunch were served in the main dining area (the same as the Mexican restaurant) and they cooked omelets, pancakes, scrambled eggs, different fried mexican dishes, chicken, and fish fresh when you ordered and everything else was buffet style.  
Dinner our first night. Those chips & fresh salsa were awesomeeeee. I think I ate more chips, guac, salsa & coconut ice cream than anything else while we were there. Coconut ice cream for breakfast? Ok!
 We also received a resort credit when we arrived to use for a variety of things.  Our credit was for $1500 but it can go from $300 to $2000, depending on the number of days you stay.  We used ours for zip lining, a couples massage, a room upgrade from our resort view regular room to an ocean view jr. suite w/ a jacuzzi in the room, and a day at Wet 'N Wild.
View from our balcony. Sigh.
The room upgrade was SO worth it.  Having the beach view with the balcony was wonderful.

If you're honeymooning, as we were, you receive a free bottle of champagne & a cake sent up to your room (it was good!), a Sun Palace shirt and a special romantic dinner.
Honeymoon Dinner
The resort in it's entirety was incredibly clean and well kept. Loved every bit of our stay. We are planning on making another trip there for sure.

xo - Kem

Monday, January 28, 2013

crepes. nyc. fondue. that sounds like a fancy week.

A little recap of the last week with some pictures.

Crepes for dessert on Monday... or Tuesday... someday earlier in the week. With Nutella & Strawberries & Bananas. Delicious.
NYC with some of my favorites for the day on Thursday. It was cold. And a long day. But it was great - good to see my friends. 4:45am-1:00am. AH. I was pooped.
Trying to sleep on the bus is impossible.
One lives in Oregon and made the trip to NYC with a friend to help her move and the others are from back home in PA. We went to Caffe Bene for coffee & snacks, stopped by FAO Schwarz and took pictures with baby dolls (ha) and played the big piano, browsed the M&M Store, shopped at Zara & had dinner at Dallas BBQ. Pulled pork sandwich & Pina Colada's were both SO good.

Oh. And we froze out bums off. Such a cold and windy day. I almost took a guy on the crosswalk because my hair whipped across my face and blinded me for a second. I turned our and said in his general direction, "Sorry. Wind. Hair." haha
How sweet are these lights at Caffe Bene!? Love.
Cafde Bene. If we have our own coffee shop one day, I hope it's very similar to this. Sweet.
Two of my beautiful friends posing with some baby dolls. haha
And Saturday we had a party with some friends in our Missional Community aka life group aka small group (for church). Fondue. And coconut cream pie. YUM.
Rice Crispies are the best in chocolate fondue! Strawberries. Apples. Bread. Steamed veggies.

And for date night, we tried out a local place, Floramo's - ribs & steak tips. Oh-Em-Gee. It was delicious.

It was a good week. & to top it all off, well, actually, to start the new week, Fab preached at church this morning. And he did GREAT. I love him.

Any fun or interesting tid bits in your week? Do tell.

xo - Kem

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Question-A-Day Sunday : Jan 21-26

Monday. What are you looking forward to?
- Thursday, NYC with the girls.
- Girls Weekend in May to Florida! (SO SUPER PUMPED!)
- Vaca with the Coblentz's in North Carolina. (We got a beach house that we're splitting with some friends for $400 a room for a full week. HOLLA.)
- Getting in shape and beach ready with P90. (Fab ordered it last week and it's here - we're starting it this week. Scared and excited.)
- Going back to school. (Looking at schools in Boston now!)

*Monday was also my littlest brother's birthday. The big 1-8. WHAT? When did he get to be 18! Insane. It really does seem like yesterday that he was leaving army men all over the house for us to step on and catching his trashcan & carpet on fire while mom and dad were out of town. Geesh. 

Tuesday. Are you seeking security or adventure?
Definitely security. I think I might always want security over adventure though.

Wednesday. Do you need a break? From what?
If anything, I need a non-break and more stuff to do. We were so busy before we moved to Boston and now we are just not and I am definitely needing something to get me out of the house. It's time to sign up for some volunteering.

Thursday. If you were going to start your own company, what would it be?
Coffee shop. With baked goods. And it'd be sweet to sell refurbished and DIY stuff. & pieces from local artists.

Friday. What makes "you" you?
Oh geesh... I'm terrible at these questions. I think serving and helping others is a huge part of who I am. Planning and taking care of things & people. My mama. She definitely makes me who I am... If you tell yourself you aren't like your parents, you're probably wrong. It's unavoidable. 

Mama & Me.
So tell me, what are some of your answers to this weeks questions?

Friday, January 25, 2013

that old french bread

Market Basket. oh, Market Basket. It's a killer of a place. Our go to grocery store... It has the best prices and pretty much everything I need. And despite it always being a mad house, it's super clean and everything is in order.
That's Market Basket on a typical Saturday morning. All 35 check out lanes open. All full. The later it gets in the day, the longer those lines get until they are being controlled by the store employees and going back into the aisles. Sunday, it's even worse. I would go during the week but we have limited usage of a car right now since ours was stolen in September shortly after moving to Boston... Welcome to Boston! :) I was more upset about the fact that my brand new iPod mini was in the car than about the actual car since we have my mother-in-law's car to use and public transportation. We were planning on getting a new one anyway. haha Anywho!

Back to the store. I do a circuit around the store and pray that I don't forget anything so I don't have to fight my way back through the crowds again. Usually, I am not successful. Dairy. Deli. Middle Aisles. Meats. Produce. Bakery.

At Market Basket they know how to get you... By the time I get to the produce, the absolute worst place in the store, I'm beat. Then I get to the Bakery. And they always have fresh and hot and super delicious smelling french bread. My defenses are down at this point so into my basket that french bread goes while I mentally re-arrange the weeks menu to fit french bread TONIGHT.

And french bread in the car on the way home. Since usually I shop on Saturday mornings and I can't be bothered to get up even earlier to have breakfast. Last week, the fresh fruit cups with fresh whipped cream lured me in, too.

This is why they tell you not to shop when you're hungry, Kem.

We are a little family. Three mouths to eat that french bread so it never gets finished. I hate wasting food so I decided to try a little bread crumb action last week. It couldn't be difficult, I figured. And it wasn't so go make some of your own!

Side Note: Little family = myself, Fab & my mother-in-law who we currently live with until we pay off some debts and get our own place.
I had pretty much an entire loaf of bread left. So I sliced it in half and had two of those babies. I heated up the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and popped them in there on a cookie sheet. Baked them for about 45 minutes until they were hard(er) and dry.
Grabbed my trusty Ninja blender and threw half in at a time and just blended until it was crumbs. Like bread crumbs, ya know.
I didn't add any seasonings - plain ol' bread crumbs will do. Then I stuck them in a plastic bag and sealed it up with the date. Next time I make meatloaf, I'll use these lovelies.
Gotta say, I was pretty excited not to throw this hunk of bread in the trash or to the animals.

Like, actually excited. Doesn't take much for me. It's the little things.

Do you have any ways of re-purposing ingredients to use them up?

Happy bread crumb making. It's time for date night over here. :)

xo - Kem

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Question A Day Sunday

This was our first Christmas here in Boston - away from my family & friends. My parents decided to go on a little road trip to visit some of their friends as a little anniversary trip to themselves. We went to PA and half celebrated Christmas with them two weeks before Christmas... half celebrated being exchanging gifts.

Then my younger brothers came up to Boston for Christmas Eve through the day after Christmas - a short visit but it was nice to have them here for Christmas.

Note to self: Invest in a good camera. It's on my list for the year. Hopefully sooner rather than later. I told Fab the other day that it needs to happen before our next vaca so we can have quality pictures.

Skyping with our parents during gift opening. That's Mike, the youngest of the bunch, over there.
We Skyped with my parents for gift opening and then had a Google Hang Out with our older brother and his fam (wife + 3 little ladies) when they opened our gifts to them. Technology is a wonderful thing.
Google Hang Out with the oldest of the bunch & his fam. Thanks for this gorgeous pic, Colton.
So the whole point of this post... one of my gifts and the beginning of Question-A-Day Sunday!

A post a week to give you a little more about me over the year.

On my wish list was a 5-Year Journal, Q&A a Day, 365 Questions, 5 Years, 1,825 Answers. And Colton fulfilled some of my wish list very well. He got me this book + Cooks Illustrated 2012 Annual Cookbook. Yes. One of my teensy weensy goals for the the year is to actually fill out the answers each day. So far, so good.

This weeks questions.

Monday. Are you a leader or a follower?
Typically, I prefer to lead simply because I like to know what's going on and know that everything is under control. BUT, I am find with following if I trust the person leading. I can do either.

Tuesday. On a scale of one to ten, how was your lunch today?
8. It wasn't all that special... cold rotisserie chicken on toasted bread w/ sliced tomatoes, provolone & rosemary-garlic mayo. That rosemary garlic mayo gave it the 8. So good.

Wednesday. Do you owe someone money? Does someone owe you?
My mama. She loaned us money for my contact appointment when we were there and I lost my contact in the grass. Whoops. Thanks, ma. & no one owes me.

Thursday. What's the oldest thing you're wearing today?
A loose burnout tee that I got from Target maybe 2 years ago... it's so comfy, my go to lounge around, sleep in shirt.

Friday. What was peaceful about today?
My own girls night, me time. Making delicious treats and relaxing.

What was your favorite lunch this week? What made your week peaceful? What's your favorite "oldest thing" to wear?

xo - Kem

Saturday, January 19, 2013

wait until cooled to lick the spoon

For Christmas I got my hubs Celtics tickets for last night's game - Celtics vs Bulls. Two tickets. And called up one of his bff's to see if he could go with him.
Fab and his Christmas Gifts. Happy Man.
So that's where they were last night. He was a happy man. Unfortunately, the Celtics lost.... in overtime... by 1 point... right at the buzzer... after a bad call by the refs. Suck. (Don't tell my mom I said "suck.") But it was a great game, nonetheless.

So - back to me. While he was at the game, I had my own girls night. I went to Marshall's and picked up some bath stuff to fulfill one of my New Years Goals (more on those in another post!). While there, I browsed the sale section... danger danger. But I kept it under control and only got a recipe book stand for $3! Holla. And some Essie Nail Polish for $3. Holla again. When Fab got home and I showed him what I got he said, "What else you got in your back of tricks there?" I love him and his silly humor.

Then to the grocery store for some crackers, chocolate and butter. Grabbed a Redbox movie, "What to Expect When You're Expecting." Picked up some Barefoot Sweet Red and headed home to make myself some treats, watch my movie and have a glass of wine.


A few weeks ago I recorded some shows on Food Network during their "Southern Belle Weekend." (I lived in the South up until 2003 and my mama cooks Southern. I hope you said that last part with a Southern accent... I did.) One of Trisha Yearwood's episodes featured this recipe and I added it to my "to make" list then. And then this week I saw it on Pinterest - it was calling my name. Obviously.

First, I tried for a while to get the cork out of my wine bottle. That took some serious elbow grease. And reminded me what a weakling I am. Then I poured myself a glass of red. (Note to self: buy a new wine bottle opener that does more of the work for you.)

Treat time.

Saltine Crackers. Butter. Brown Sugar. Chocolate. Easy breezy.

First things first - turn on that oven. 350 degrees F.

Grab a jelly roll pan... although, in my case, it was a baking pan because my jelly roll pan is in storage, so it was a tad larger than desired. I'd def recommend the jelly roll size, if you have it, because the crackers won't move around when you're trying to spread the chocolate on top.

Line it with tinfoil - this makes for incredibly easy clean-up. Spray it with a generous amount of cooking spray, butter flavored preferably. Then lay out 40 crackers, salty side down...yep, my pic is salty side up - whoops. That's one sleeve of crackers + like 4 from another. Geesh. Couldn't just put 40 in one sleeve?

Now get a medium sized pot and put it over medium heat. Throw in two sticks of butta. Two. Mmm.

And add some brown sugar. 1 cup packed.

Heat and stir occasionally until the butter has melted completely and the mixture comes to a boil. Stir, stir, stir or that butter won't get fully incorporated into the sugar. Boil it for about 1 minute then reduce temperature to low and simmer for 3-5 minutes. It's going to thicken up and get to be a caramel color.

Now pour it over your crackers, covering them evenly. After pouring you can move the caramel over a little to get to the edges and any spots it didn't make it to. Oooooo, yum. Resist the urge to do any licking of the spoon... at least until the mixture cools off... you'll burn your tongue like I did. Ouch.

Now stick it in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until it's just bubbly. Remove from oven and pour your 2 cups of chocolate chips on top, wait a bit for them to melt then spread, spread, spread. 

Now you gotta wait. Sorry. Just be patient, it'll be worth it. Since we didn't have room in our freezer, I just left them on the counter to cool off then broke them up and put them in a ziploc to put in the fridge. BUT if you have room then stick that tray in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes and then break them up and enjoy! 

They are delicious and so incredibly easy. Enjoy!

xo - Kem

Sunday, January 13, 2013

chili... now that it's not so chilly

This is Boston, right? Where it's supposed to be cold? Not 50 degrees in the winter. So strange.

So usually I cook up this chipotle turkey chili but I wanted to go the traditional route this time around. So I did a little research and found a recipe on my trusty All Recipes that I pulled spices from and then threw in the extras... beans, meat, tomatoes, corn, etc. 

One day, I'll be able to just throw all these things together like my mama. Until then, I rely on phone calls home and the internet. Unfortunately, my mom's big on "just a little of this" and "a dash of that" and "maybe a cup...or two, of this" and that's just hard to follow. One day. One day, I'll be there. 

So cornbread. It's taken me a while to find a recipe that I love and I think I've finally got it. The only thing I changed up was to add greek yogurt to my sour cream (b/c I didn't have enough) and I used about 1/2 cup sugar b/c we like our cornbread a little sweeter. 

Chili and cornbread perfection is found here. 

Like a dummy, I used what was left of my sour cream for this delish cornbread and didn't have any for chili toppings. If you've never had sour cream on your chili you should try that out. So all we had this time around was some shredded cheddar cheese.

Do you have a favorite chili and cornbread combo? Or a secret  ingredient that you want to share?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

a jazzy date night

One of the things that I look forward to every week is Friday night date night. That's Fab & I's set night for doing something a little different together that's focused on one another and no one else. Sure, it sometimes gets moved around a little but we rarely go with out our one-on-one date time each week. I love it.

Last night we went to a jazz bar & kitchen in the South End - Darryl's Corner Bar & Kitchen. They served up live jazz, great service, and delicious southern comfort food. Growing up in the South for the first half of my life, the Southern goodness made me a happy camper.

It was certainly very LOUD and we had to do a lot of yelling and stretching across the table to hear one another when the live music was playing but that's ok once in a while. The music was great. The place was fun. The manager greeted us several times, let us know how much longer we'd be waiting for our table, checked in with us during and after our meal & danced with the two birthday ladies celebrating that night.

It was small and we definitely waited a good 30-45 minutes but I think that is to be expected anywhere with live music on a Friday night and when you're listening to music and you can grab a drink at the bar, if desired, it's ok. (There's a $3 cover charge per person that's added to your final bill when there's live music, too.)

We were boring this time and both ordered the chicken & waffles after reading some good reviews about it on Yelp... Yelp is our guide to everything. Neither of us had ever had it before though so now was the time! I rarely fry food at home... so messy. 

It was DELICIOUS. Crispy and juicy chicken. Fluffy buttermilk waffle. Butter. Maple syrup. YUM. 

Look at that big hunka chicken. Never understood the chicken & waffles thing but always wanted to try it and see what all the fuss was about. Fuss understood.

And Red Velvet cake for dessert... with sweet, homemade whip cream. And layers of rich & thick cream cheese frosting & chocolate ganache between the cake layers. YUM. It wasn't my favorite red velvet ever... I prefer the fluffy to just on the verge of dense cake but it was very tasty.

Family Fun Fact: "Tasty" means bad in my family. Or at least that's the joke. Mom happened to make something that was just NOT good once, it's an extreme rarity for this to happen, and dad called it "tasty," jokingly... so now, anything that's not the greatest is deemed "tasty." Although, in this case... it was ACTUALLY tasty, the good way, not the bad.

Despite the rain outside and walking home from the blue line, in that lovely rain, instead of waiting 25 mins for the next bus, it was a fun and filling evening with my favorite man.

Do you have a date night scheduled in? How do you mix it up without spending a lot? (We don't always go to pricey restaurants on our date nights!)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

blog beginning & a yummy dinner

I've been wanting to start a blog for quite a while and semi-started one before I got married in July 2011.  It's 2013. WOAH. Time flies. I mean, I know it's only been a year and a half since we got married but it certainly seems like ... well, it seems like it was forever ago but at the same time yesterday. That makes sense....right? No. Ok.

Anywho. I've wanted to start a blog since then. Always felt like I wouldn't know what to say... wouldn't know how to say it... wouldn't have enough to say... wouldn't have any readers... etc, etc. Those still all ring true but who cares... I'll start and hope I have enough to say and maybe at least one person will read my blog... even if it's just my mom... or my best friend. Gotta start somewhere, right?

Tonight we had some absolutely deliciously moist Chicken Burgers from over at Cassie Craves. I've wanted to make these ever since I pinned them quite a while ago but the few times I've put them on our menu for the week, we ended up not making them for various reasons. So tonight, they've made it onto the grill pan.

How great do those look? And that Rosemary Garlic Mayo is so yum! And they are incredibly easy.

Rosemary Garlic Mayo
1c mayonnaise
1/4 c rosemary, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

Mix half of that mayo in with 1lb ground chicken along with 1/4 tsp ground pepper & 1/2 tsp salt. Form into 4 patties. Cook on grill pan. Melt provolone on your burgers. Almost done!

Now make those buns crispy. Add a thin layer of that delicious mayo onto your buns (hamburger buns that is... although, it'll probably end up on your buns anyway) and grill them face down for a bit until they are nice and golden. Pop your burger and bun together, add a slice of tomato and some more mayo and chow. done. You will be one happy kid. Deliciousness.

Chicken Burgers with Rosemary Garlic Mayo & a salad with leftover mustard vinaigrette from Christmas. mmmm... so good.

And this salad and vinaigrette. Delicious, as well. Just some romaine, chopped green apples, raisins, feta cheese & candied pecans. Ate about half of those candied pecans off the top of the salad while I was waiting for the burgers to finish. The vinaigrette is really what makes this baby though.

I made the vinaigrette originally for Christmas then again the following week and ate the leftovers today. We kinda like it. Pulled it from my dear friend, from Roquefort Pear Salad. I used regular mustard both times because that's what I had on hand though.

Oh deliciousness. 

That's all for now. All = a lot. Sorry bout that.