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Crock Pot Chicken and Barley Soup

I’ve had a bag of barley in my pantry for some time now.  I kept meaning to make a chicken and barley stew recipe that I found online.  Late this week I came down with a cold, and here it is Saturday and I’m still feeling crappy.  I looked in my pantry and decided to give the barley a whirl.  I just used items I had on hand.  Here’s what I did:

–  4 cups fat free chicken broth

– 1/2 Cup organic pearled barley

– 1 bag frozen mixed veggies

– 1/2 bag frozen onions

– 2 cloves of garlic

– 3 frozen chicken breasts (thin cut)

– 1 tbsp basil

– 2 bay leaves

Cook the garlic and onions in EVOO till fragrant and translucent.

Assemble all other ingredients in crock pot.  Cook for 3 hours on low.  Enjoy.

Low in fat, high in fiber!

Merry Christmas 2011

The holidays were festive and fun around here!  We kicked off the holidays with a small shindig at our house the weekend before Christmas.  We had yummy food, wine, and cocktails (The Cranberry Kiss is a great holiday drink!).  The party really kicked off the week of Christmas appropriately!

On Christmas Eve we did the annual Day family gathering at my folks house.  Since we did a huge family Thanksgiving party, Brady’s First Birthday, and a family funeral all within a few weeks of Christmas, mom and dad decided to just do our small family on Christmas Eve (10 people vs. 25 people).   The party was great and mom and dad went all out with their menu.  After dinner we did the gift exchange, which is my favorite part!  This year my family used Amazon Wish Lists to help with the shopping and it totally worked.  Also, I was able to order almost every gift online…awesome.

On Christmas Day Ryan and I woke up at 6am to see what Santa had brought us.  Ryan got an XBox 360 and I got a Karaoke Machine and a new workout gadget called the FitBit.  We sang and danced using our new gadgets till 9am when we had to leave for DeSoto.

Ryan’s mom, Karen, was throwing a shindig in DeSoto, but it happened to be the same time as my Grandma’s party (so many parties…so little time!) so we arranged with Karen to come for brunch and leave around 12:30.  It worked out pretty good, we were able to visit with the outta town folks and open gifts with the kiddos.  From there we drove west to Everman, TX (south of Fort Worth).  My Grandparents have been doing this gathering since I can remember.  It’s an awesome lunch spread followed by a chaotic and fun gift exchange.  Each year we gain a few new family members (babies, husbands, wives, etc).  This year we added the new tacky sweater contest element.  I regret not getting any photos of the crew in horrible Christmas sweaters!

From there we drove back up north to Watauga, to open the wine and play with our new toys at my sister’s house.  We stayed way too late, but we were having such a good time!  Ryan had to work the next morning…sorry hun!

Overall it was a great Christmas season.  I got to see lots of family, ate delicious festive meals, and received some awesome gifts.  Below are some pics from the holiday festivities:

Mini Pumpkin Parfaits

A few months ago my sister and I were shopping at Pier One and came across their “Tasting Party” display.  Basically a bunch of cute tiny bowls, shot glasses, and spoons, for just a taste of dessert.  Ever since I saw them, they’ve been on my mind.  Earlier this week I went and purchased the 24-piece set for $29.99. Woohoo!

With it being the week of Thanksgiving, I thought it would be appropriate to attempt Mini Pumpkin Parfaits for my aunt’s Thanksgiving party.   I used this recipe from the Food Network.  The next challenge was how to transport the cute little creations.  Handyman husband to the rescue!  The morning of the party Ryan cobbled me up a carrying tray for my dessert.  Needless to say my family was impressed with my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner!  Pics below:

Gutentag! My Trip to Germany

Earlier this year I was given the opportunity to speak abroad about Social Media.  Even though I grew up an airline baby, I’ve never traveled across the ocean.  I’ve been to Mexico, Canada, Hawaii, and the Bahamas…but GERMANY?  Definitely a great opportunity.   I convinced a few friends to join me on the excursion and turn a work trip into a tour of the German countryside.

One of my travel buddies, Ashley P, bought Rick Steves’ book all about Germany.  She read it cover to cover and pinpointed exactly what our route should be.  We scheduled a few “working lunches” to plan out the itinerary.  We knew that we had limited time in Germany, and we wanted to see EVERYTHING.  Here’s how the itinerary shaped up, feel free to copy:

Day ONE: Depart DFW, arrive 15 hours later in Frankfurt.  Train it for 5 hours via ICE train south to the very southern tip of Germany…Fussen (you can also fly into Munich, and it’s only a 2 hour train ride).   Fussen might be the cutest, most scenic Bavarian town ever.  I honestly had no idea what to expect, but this tiny town really set the tone for our trip.  The town itself is very small, but it gives you great access to nearby Neuschwanstein Castle.   We checked into Hotel Schlosskrone, which we found after tedious TripAdvisor searches.   We were super happy with the hotel, it was perfect.

DAY 2:  We hop on the city bus to take the 15 minute ride up to the nearby castles.  We visited during the “off-season” but it was still hoppin’ with tourists.  We purchased tickets to tour both castles (they had an airline employee discount…sweet!) and spent the whole day exploring.   The castles were beautiful and it was time well spent.  The German countryside is scenic, green, and breathtaking.  Definitely great photo opportunities.   All the restaurants close kinda early in the tiny town of Fussen, and there are NO BARS that stay open late!  Kinda shocking.  We took the advice of locals and checked out Gerry’s Big Apple Discotheque.  10 Euros to get in, and that includes 2 drinks, fair deal if you ask me.  The dancing and music was great, and it was a fun way to end our tour of Fussen.

DAY 3:  Rise and shine, and off we go to Rothenburg.  Ashley thought we would love this town because of it’s medieval charm and of course the Christmas market!  It took us about 5 hours to get up north to Rothenburg.  We checked into our hotel, and wasted no time getting out to tour the city.  Lots of day-trippers were out and about visiting the various markets, shoppes, and city tours.  The town is surrounded by a wall, and the history is incredible.  We spent our evening with the Night Watchman on his tour.  The tour cost 6 euros (on the honor system), and he walks you through the town at 9pm sharing the great history.  Needless to say, after a full day of traveling, shopping, eating, and touring we were pooped.  We went to bed early.

Day 4:  One of the Ashleys leaves to head back to DFW.  The other Ashley and I continue our journey through Germany.  We hop on a train back to Frankfurt.  Once in Frankfurt, we catch a 1pm Air Berlin flight to Berlin.  My work obligation awaits us in Berlin!  We arrive around 3pm, check into our hotel, and then grab the Rick Steve’s book to begin exploring Berlin.  Berlin amazed me.  We happened to arrive on Unity Day, so the city was alive with energy and folks celebrating.  It blew my mind that the big festival in the middle of the city was FREE to get in, and once in…beers were only 3 euros!  No coupons or craziness like in America.  Just good, cheap fun.  We turned in early to get ready for work the next day.

Day 5:  Ready for work!  We head over to the Routes Worldwide Conference, the world’s largest gathering of airlines and airports.  It was an amazing conference.  I did a presentation on how we use Social Media at Southwest.  I had the opportunity to visit with folks that do my job at airlines and airports around the world, simply fascinating!

Day 6:  Early flight back home : (  We flew Lufthansa to Frankfurt, the Lufthansa non-stop to DFW.  The flight was awesome, but I was sad to leave Germany.

A few notes:  German engineering is no joke.  Everything over there is designed so well, with the user in mind.  The escalators, their use of cash vs. credit, and airport security all impressed me.  Germans were so hospitable and nice.  Almost everyone we met spoke English and thanked us for visiting their country.  The Germans also care about our environment.  Only in Germany can you get $.25 for turning in a used water bottle…pretty cool.

I now have the travel bug!  Where to next?  Here are a few photos of the trip:

Grapevine City Wide Garage Sale

Tomorrow, Ryan and I are setting up shop at the Grapevine City Wide Garage Sale. The sale is 7am-11am at 1175 Municipal Way, Grapevine TX.

For those of you remodeling a house or looking for a quick update, swing by our booth because we have a ton of light fixtures (all types) for sale…for cheap!

Here are a few pics of us packing up the truck to get ready for the big sale:

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New Owl Couple

Check out my new owl couple I bought over the weekend. I haven’t seen the real owl couple around in awhile. Maybe it’s the hot temps, the scary Blue Jay family that lives next door, or my 25 lb Cat…or maybe all of the above! Regardless, I hope they come back for Halloween! In the meanwhile, these little cuties will have to do!

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