Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Style: ModCloth

ModCloth’s fab fashions are just my style, so I want to share the love! Get $20 off your first-ever purchase when you join ModCloth. Use THIS LINK to join, and I’ll get a little somethin’, too. Join today!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Life: The Muppets!

Once upon a time, there was a girl who LOVED the Muppets.

That's right folks. If you ever wanna cheer me up or put a smile on my face or make me laugh, show me some Muppets.

My friend at work showed me this video.


It really just doesn't get any better than that...

Till next time lovely blog,
Amanda Diane
If you haven't seen The Muppets Movie that recently came out yet, do. Now... or at least as soon as humanly possible.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Food: Spaghetti Squash Fail.

Once upon a time there was a girl who seriously damaged her cooking pride with the following ingredients:

red wine vinegar
brown sugar
spaghetti squash

I would tell you how much of each of these went into it, but I was kinda just throwing them in.

I started by following the instructions here from Emeril Lagasse on how to cook a spaghetti squash.  This was successful.  I recommend it.  The fail part comes in a little bit...

I was going to just follow the recipe and just add herbs and butter... but I hadn't experimented lately and I had been watching a lot of cooking shows lately.  The competition kind... like "Chopped" or "Sweet Genius"... So I was rushing cause my subconscious was screaming that cooking fast was the key to cooking well... Ha. ha. Yeah... Don't rush unless you're a pro.

So here's what happened...

I melted the butter in the bottom of a large pan.  To it I added a--far too large--splash of red wine vinegar (which I have never cooked with before).  After the sizzling and steam cleared, I took a big whiff of the pot and nearly got a nose bleed from the acidity of it.  Dumb move, I know. But I was really focused on looking legit for the "cameras".  Anyway... I then tossed in some frozen strawberries... Only once they were mostly thawed and quite sticky did I realize that I meant to chop them up first... so I spooned them out and chopped them.  I stirred this mixture for a bit.  Then I realized I wasn't sure what spaghetti squash actually tasted like.  So I tried a strand.  It was surprisingly sweet!  So I quietly muttered one of those later-after-the-incident-interviews that the cooking shows always have when something goes wrong in the kitchen... "Sweet?? I just made a strawberry sauce to go with sweet squash?? I felt foolish for not knowing that spaghetti squash had a sweet kick, but I instinctively reached for the salt to compensate".  And indeed I did.  Only after I mixed in a fairly large palm-full of sea salt did I decide to actually taste the sauce to see if it actually needed that much... Let me tell you... It didn't.  You know when you think you're about to take a huge gulp of water and it ends up being Sprite?  Imagine that feeling... but you're expecting sweet and tangy and instead you get a mouthful of salt.  It was bad.  So to compensate for failure number 675,382 I added brown sugar.  That didn't quite help enough... So I added more. And more. And more.  Still not doing it.  I added some vanilla extract.  It was good enough.  I let it simmer for a long time, attempting to reduce the strawberries.  And, I must say, I did a fairly good job with it.  The consistency was perfect.  And the color was so sumptuously red and great...  And the spaghetti squash was a luscious yellow; like daffodils in a meadow... Then I dumped it together and mixed it up creating an awful barf-tan color.  I realized my mistake just after it was too late to pull the bowl back and not let the spaghetti squash touch the red mess below.  So not only did I botch the flavor... but the presentation too.  Okay... so the taste wasn't awful... But I could just hear a judge saying, "It tastes good... but I feel like there's a lack of flavor depth..." [cut to Chef Amanda Interview] "Great.  Now I have to make it more deep. How can I deepen it while making it look appetizing...?"  I added basil. Loads and loads of basil. At least now it looked okay.  And it did add a lil sum'n sum'n to the flavor.  At this point I was fed up so I just let it simmer in there for a while with some freshly sliced strawberries with the lid on.  After about fifteen minutes I opened it up and took out the sliced strawberries.  I took it off the heat and dished it out.  I remembered I had some brie cheese in the fridge, so I sliced a bit of that to eat along with my creation.

It was decent.  I couldn't finish it because it was too rich for the massive amount I served myself.  This is what I wish had happened...

Red wine vinegar with chopped frozen strawberries with white sugar and salt (TO TASTE).  Simmer for reduction.
Melt butter.  Add fresh, chopped basil.  Mix with spaghetti squash.
Place baguette slices on baking sheet.  Paint with melted butter. Toast in heated oven.  Lay slices of brie on baguette slices.  Melt cheese.
Place small amount of spaghetti squash mixture on baguette and cheese.  Spoon small amount of red, strawberry mixture on spaghetti squash.  Place single, fresh basil leaf on top.

This would have been divine... instead... I'm a moron. haha. DEFINITELY retrying this in the near future. 

Till next time lovely blog!
-Amanda Diane 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Love: Catching up

Once upon a time, Amanda was a terrible blogger...
Yes... I have been slacking in the blogging realm... but I am cutting myself some slack because this past little while has been absurdly busy/exciting!

SO! Surprise! Andrew and I are engaged! But a few important things happened before that...

April went by in a flurry as Andrew and I each met the other's families for the first time.  His parents and brother came out to Utah for our church's (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints... more commonly known as "Mormons") General Conference.  I spent the weekend getting to know them and cousins and aunt and uncles and grandparents and everybody!  But don't worry, I had my paybacks. Just a couple of weeks later, Andrew and I flew out to Colorado to welcome my big brother home from his LDS mission in Houston, Texas!  This also was the weekend of Easter.  So, needless to say, ALL of my family was there.  Poor Andrew was shoved into family even more than I was.

Also in April was Andrew's birthday.  I struggled very much in trying to figure out what to get for him.  I ended up buying the last two tickets to Brian Regan, one of his favorite comedians.  The show was a few hours away in St. George.  Which, if you know anything about Southern Utah, is right next door to Zion's National Park... and also where one of my favorite aunts lives.  So we decided to make a trip out of it.  Though his birthday was in early April, the show wasn't until almost a month later.

Thursday, May 10.  That was when our tickets were for.  We planned on having dinner with my aunt, uncle, cousin, grandpa, and step-grandma.  Then we would go to the show and sleep over at my aunt's house.  Friday we would wake up early and go to Zion's to hike the big one:  Observation Point--the highest climb in the park.  So naturally, I (and all of my girlfriends) expected him to propose at the top of observation point.

Wednesday night comes around and I'm all anticipation, just waiting for Andrew to finish his night shift.  I was expecting him to get to my apartment around 8:30am the next morning.  For reasons unknown to me, I suddenly had an emotional break-down while getting ready for bed that night... I burst into tears when my dear roommate asked me how I was doing. "I'm fine! I just miss him all-sniff-thuuueettiaahhymme... Ahym so sahh rree... sniff-Ahym fahyn-sniff... reeelleee..." It was a pathetic site to see... Anyway... she came back with chocolate icecream just to find me crashed on the couch with "Cupcake Wars" playing on the TV.  I woke early with excitement... apparently recovered from the night before...  As I was getting ready, my boyfriend texted me saying that he had to stay late at work.  I asked when I could be expecting him.  He said around ten thirty... Ugh! Okay. Fine. I'll be fine.  He finally shows up around eleven and we head down to St. George.  On the way down he asks if I wanted to go on another hike at Provo Falls on Saturday because we don't have anything else planned.  Sure! Why not!  

At the Brian Regan show
All goes just as planned.  The show was hilarious.  It was wonderful catching up with everyone. Then, Friday morning, we hike Observation Point.  I struggle to the top while he is wonderfully patient waiting for me and being a gentleman and whatnot.  

We get to the top.  Look over the edge.  Take some pictures.  He showed me the marker saying that we made it, and I almost had a heart attack, because it would have been a perfect opportunity for him to kneel.  But instead he turns to another couple near by and asks them to take some pictures for us. Ah! Another great opportunity!  I'm dying inside as we take pictures.  But then we head over to a more secluded area for lunch.  Secluded area? Is this another perfect opportunity?? We eat our lunch and play with a chipmunk.  Then he says he wants to take one more look over the edge because the other hikers have cleared out.  So we go back to the observation point of Observation Point.  Alone? Looking over this amazing site? Opportunity? Dying inside with anticipation.  
The top of Observation Point

Andrew:  Well, I'm good! You good?
Amanda: dumbfounded ...Yeah! ...I'm good!
Andrew:  Wah Hoo!

As we were walking down the trail, Andrew sees a rattle snake.  My opinion of snakes is similar to Indiana Jones's opinion of snakes... Why? I hate them.  Andrew, however, has a crocodile hunter moment and goes after it with his walking stick.  Poor boy.  I was so disappointed with the lack of ring on my left hand that he got the brunt of my anger because of the snake... I'm sure he was very confused why I was so upset about it... I chalked it up to growing up in the desert and being taught to fear snakes... which is true... but mostly I was just upset.

We finish the hike down--with a few more small tiffs along the way.  We got to the car, took a few tired pics, and drove off.  I asked him if he minded if I slept for a bit... because I was so "exhausted" ...which was also true! But mostly I just wanted to hide my sadness and try to keep myself away from another emotional break down.

It's my turn to drive so he can sleep.  And as soon as he is asleep, I text my girlfriends and tell them he didn't do it... almost every one of them offered to beat the snot out of him. :)

So when we showed up to my apartment, he wasn't exactly warmly welcomed. haha

We watched a movie and then he left.  He spent that night at his grandparents house... which I thought was weird because they live in American Fork and he has friends with couches right here in Provo... But I didn't really think about it much.

That night after he left, I finally got to enjoy that chocolate icecream my roommate bought for me... and fell asleep once more to "Cupcake Wars". On the couch. Crying. With a picture of Andrew. Full screen on my computer.  With love songs playing quietly in the background.

I was supposed to wake up early Saturday morning to make lunches for our hike that day... But I had a rough night... So when Andrew got to my apartment, I was hardly awake enough to open the door for him.  I crashed on the couch again while he made lunch.  I vaguely remember him asking me if PB&J would be okay.  I requested H instead of J groggily.  I finally wake up, and we head out.

You might think Provo Falls is close to Provo. Ha. Haha... So did I.  It's actually a good hour and a half away... Ha.  So as we drove (and kept driving) we listened to Michael Buble love songs.

Okay.  Sidenote.  We have this cute little thing where he makes me cry just because I love him so much... not so much cute as pathetic... but go with it... But he never sees it.  It's always over the phone or when I'm missing him or whatever.

Anyway.  We were listening to these love songs when "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" came on.  While he was driving I was being all cutesy and doing all the things that Michael says to do in the song.  And I suddenly got completely overwhelmed with love for him.  And I knew then that no matter when he proposed, no matter when we got married, we would be together for eternity. And he would love me for far longer than forever.  I was so grateful in that moment for the love that I felt from him. And I couldn't help but love him back.  In that moment, there was nothing but the two of us, loving each other.  Then the tears started to flow like the water falls we were about to see...  He was very pleased with himself. :)

We get to Provo Falls and hike up a ways, trying to find a good spot to lunch.  We finally found a log a little ways away from the falls "so we can hear each other talk" said Andrew.  Strange request... whatever.  We sit down on our blanket covered log and opt to just sit for a while, since neither of us are too hungry yet.  There we are sitting.  I have my head on his chest while he has his arm around me.  Suddenly I notice his heart.  But I don't hear it... I feel it... beating out of his chest, hitting my face... I was reminded of the Grinch when his heart grows three sizes or whatever.  I sneak a glance at his face.  He's sitting with his eyes closed, breathing deeply through the nose. Oh crap... I think  He's gonna do it now!   And suddenly I'm nervous too.  I suddenly have an uncontrollable urge to put this off as long as possible and burst out that I'm ready to eat now!  So we pull out the food and I suddenly remember just how much I hate PB&J or PB&H sandwiches.  I try to deal with it... but he noticed me struggling after he scarfed down his sandwich.  I told him the tale of how I ate one too many of these bad boys when I was in middle and high school.  I tried to stomach it (so I could put off the inevitable as long as possible) but he convinced me to put it down.

So there we are... him trying to build up courage... and me wondering what on earth I'm supposed to do while I'm waiting for my boyfriend to propose... They don't teach us that in Young Women's or Sunday School...  I'm looking at nature and enjoying the breeze on my face.  And he's breathing deeply again. Finally he turns to me.

Andrew:  Sweetheart?
Amanda:  Yes, dear?
Andrew:  You know I love you, right?
Amanda:  Of course, dear.
Andrew:  moving to kneel
Amanda:  resisting to make him stop teasing because she sees his somber face
Andrew:  spewing many lines of cheesiness and why he loves Amanda  
Andrew:  Amanda Diane Wilkinson as he pulls out ring box Will you marry me?
Amanda:  before he can get the box out.  Yes!!! attacks him with one big strangling hug
Andrew:  But you haven't even seen the ring!
Amanda:  I don't have to!
Andrew:  after minutes of being squeezed Do you want to see the ring now?
Amanda:  Oh! Of course!

Throughout the whole thing I am laughing and crying and screaming and anything else you can imagine suitable to the situation.

We took some cheesy pics, carved our initials in a nearby tree, and then hiked back.  We called our family as soon as we had service.  My roommates gave him a much warmer welcome this time when they saw my huge smile and sparkly ring.
Officially our tree!

re-enactment. cheesy

happy tears

the ring!

and we've been busy wedding planning ever since!
finally engaged! (instagram pic thanks to our biggest fan #AshleyBliss)

I'm so very excited to live happily ever after with him. :)
so happy forever after

Till next time lovely blog <3
-Amanda Diane
Maybe sometime I'll let him guest-star and post his side of the story... :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Food: Kung Pao Chicken

Once upon a time, a girl and a boy had a special anniversary to celebrate.  Since he always did wonderful things for her, she decided she would take care of their night together.

And since I love food/cooking so much, the natural option was to make him dinner.  So I went to the store... only to realize that I hadn't figured out what I was making yet.  I texted his mom and she suggested Chinese.  Well, I don't know any home-made Chinese food recipes off-hand... I went with the obvious answer:  called my mother to find out what would be easy and delicious.

And boy did she follow through!!
She sent me through the store looking for the few ingredients I didn't already have for kung pao chicken on rice.  Here's the recipe!

Kung Pao Chicken from Colorado Collage

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb total), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 c. soy sauce, divided
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T sugar
2 t. cornstarch
1/4 t. crushed red pepper (you could leave this out)
1/4 c. water
2 T canola oil
1 t. minced garlic
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, coarsely chipped
1/4 c. roasted peanuts, (I add more cause I like them :))
cooked white rice

Combine chicken and 2 T of the soy sauce.  Chill 30 minutes.  In small bowl, combine remaining 2 T soysauce.  lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, crushed red pepper, and water.  In wok or large skillet, heat canola oil over med-high.  Add reserved chicken mixture and garlic and stir-fry 3-4 min or until brown.  Add bell pepper and onion and stir-fry 3 minutes.  Add cornstarch mixture.  Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened.  Add peanuts and toss.  Serve over rice.  You could also add carrots and mushrooms to this classic, healthful Chinese entree.

Well. Needless to say, it ended up absolutely wonderfully.  I actually didn't have cornstarch like I thought I did, so I just used 4 T of flour instead of the 2 T of cornstarch.  It worked just as well.  We both loved it and it made enough to fill us both and leave some for his lunch the next day.

Till next time, lovely blog!
-Amanda Diane

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Food: Mizithra Chicken with Honey, Lime, and Ginger Glaze

Once upon a time, there lived a girl.  She loved having adventuresome days.

Like today, for instance, I am going to have dinner and game night with Andrew and his sister (Alyssa) and her husband (Jeff).  I'm in charge of the main dish.  So a few days ago, Andrew and I decided on chicken.  I asked him if he'd rather have it with pasta or rice. He chose rice.  Ok.  Would you rather have it Mediterranean or Asian?  Mediterranean.  Ok.  ... think think think...

I think here is an appropriate time to interject with a somewhat related and completely necessary pic found on Pinterest...

This is my life. Thanks Pooh. We agree perfectly once again.

ANYway... After much think-think-thinking... I finally decided to not go off of a recipe, but to make one up.

So here goes...

Mizithra Chicken with Honey, Lime, and Ginger Glaze
  • 4 limes
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 T. ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup rice cooking wine
  • 1/4 lb mizithra cheese, grated
  • 6 chicken breast tenderloins 
  • about 1 t. cornstarch (really it's as needed)
In a mixing bowl, squeeze out lime juice (I used a spoon to get out as much of the juice as possible).  Whisk together with honey, sugar, oil, ginger, and the cooking wine.  Set aside.

Somewhere in there you're going to want to preheat the oven to 350­°. 

Thaw chicken.  Once thawed, place one tenderloin inside a gallon ziploc and pound it till it's flat.  Be careful not to puncture the chicken.  You want it in one piece.  Do this to all of the tenderloins.  

Put chicken in a 9x13 pan (I had to do this three at a time. If you have a pan that's big enough for all of them, by all means, use it).  Pour about half (only enough to cover the chicken) of the marinade into the pan.  Marinade for only 30 minutes (if you do it for longer, the acids with disintegrate the chicken).  

Remove from marinade and put on a sprayed baking sheet.  In the middle of the flattened, marinaded chicken, put a sprinkling of cheese.  Roll it up long ways... So it's long, not wide... Like a taquito... Hope that makes sense. 

Bake for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink and starting to turn golden.

While the chicken is baking, combine the sauce used for marinade with the rest of the sauce and the cornstarch in a sauce pan.  Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, till thickens to desired consistency. (Actually, the sauce never thickened when I did it... So we just used it runny... which was still delicious).

When chicken is done baking, cut into 1/2 inch thick pinwheels.

Serve with rice, smothered in the sauce, with the chicken pinwheels on top.

Sorry I have no pictures. I'm currently between cameras, and I forgot to have Andrew take some for me. Meh. Oh well. You'll have plenty more of my delectable delicacies to see in the future. :)

Till next time lovely blog,
Amanda Diane

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Life: Warm Winter

Once upon a time, a girl lived in Provo, Utah. She loved it there.  ...

And generally it's pretty cold this time of year... Like freezing cold... Like ice and snow covering the ground so you forget what sidewalk looks like...

But lately the weather has been weirding me out... Yesterday it got up to 60°.  Today we have a high of 55°.  Tonight, however, we are supposed to have two inches of snow... Only to be warm again by the weekend... I really don't understand it.

But whether I understand it or not is irrelevant.  The fact of the matter is I am absolutely loving it.  Aside from the occasional down-pouring of snow, Autumn jumped right into Spring.  It's been divine.

Today, for instance, I missed my bus home which was really a glorious thing because I got to walk home.  The sky was overcast and there was just the right amount of a slight breeze.  I just couldn't make myself walk fast.  I couldn't get my speed to accelerate much faster than a mosey.  And why should I? I had a four hour break ahead of me.

So as I was taking my usual route home, I noticed that there is a cute little corner shop on the way.  How had I not noticed before??  So, naturally, after making this discovery I walked right in!  I walked around for a time just looking at the packages, boxes, bottles, bags, and other miscellaneous items filled with goodness.

I eventually ended up at the cash register with a Lunchable, a Jones Soda, and a Hostess Fruit Pie.  In retrospect, I probably should have taken a picture of my loverly picnic makings before I devoured them... But I was hungry... So I apologize... This mashed up picture (supplied by Google Images and Paint) will just have to suffice.

So such was my walk home. And it was truly blissful.

One side-note... Just because I'm smitten and I think we're adorable and everyone should know about us... :)
Here's the text convo Andrew and I were having while my adventures home were ensuing:

Andrew:  My beautiful, sweet Amanda.  I beheld the most beautiful sunrise this morning that I've seen in quite some time.  The clouds above the snow capped mountains seemed to be ablaze with fire and the array of colors that emblazoned the sky astounded me.  At that moment  I wanted nothing more than to hold you in my arms and share with you in enjoying the beauty of God's creation.  Though I was not able to go through with this desire I know we will have many more times to hold each other, to see and experience amazing and beautiful things together, and have our love grow and develop together.  I love you Amanda , more and more everyday. :)

Amanda:  Oh my dear Andrew... How you captivate me so.  I am yours through and through.  Gush gush mush mush :P Haha

Andrew:  Hahahahaha I love you. ;)

Amanda:  Haha Right back at ya, stud! ;)

I told you we're adorable.

Till next time, lovely blog,

Monday, March 5, 2012

Life: Life thus far

Once upon a time, there was a girl from Colorado.  She loved it there, but there came a time when she had to grow up.  So what better place than at BYU.  Home of the cougars.  Her parents alma mater.  Full of her kind... The Mormons. And oh, how excited she was...

Well. I'm currently in my fourth semester at BYU.

[BYU campus entrance sign]

After MUCH deliberation, I have finally decided to major in Theater Ed. with a minor in English Ed. I am quite thrilled about it.

[a one-act I recently performed in]

Yes... It shall be fun. But I made the decision just a bit too late.  The program only accepts applications during Fall semester.  So this semester has been full of fun and games.  A lot of pinning. A lot of facebook.  A lot of dance class, voice lessons, acting class, and more fun.  Oh. And my boyfriend. Andrew and I are lucky that we got together when we did. Otherwise, my grades would be down the drain with how much time I spend with him. :)

[my wonderful boyfriend and me playing with laundry carts]

He's a cutie. :) We're complete goofballs in love.

Well, I do believe that about catches you up to my life's work.  Thrilling, I know. ;)
Until next time, lovely blog.


Check out my Pinterest here
Also, check out my roommates' blog here
I'm sure you'll love them. :)