CM-Ahmazing Awards

CMA Hosts Carrie Underwood & Brad Paisley

Carrie Underwood & Brad Paisley host the CMA Awards for the seventh consecutive year. Photo credit: Bob D’Amico/ABC

It’s Country’s Biggest Night!!! Absolutely loving the CMA awards. Like to the point I hope when you are reading this and the award show is over you can feel my love!!

Meghan and Miranda immediately after Kenny was like an amazing cherry to the ice cream sundae of opening sequences. Love country music, but for a girl with a few curves Meghan’s song ‘All About That Bass’ was my summer anthem and I can’t help but sing along. We might have also played it at our wedding while I danced and sang along! So yeah it’s pop, but I love that song so…shhhhh! I see why they included the song in the broadcast even if it is a wee bit controversial to most country fans.

Country music gets it. You don’t have to be from the country, just a country boy or girl at heart.

And, as usual Brad and Carrie are perfect award show hosts. When something isn’t broke you just don’t try to “fix it.”

Plus, love the little dialogue that was scripted for them to include up to date news, both serious and not so much. Ebola, Taylor Swift, and Election Day result jabs all in one? They do it in such a light hearted and amazing way!

…Plus the baby secret? Is it really a boy? Or was that a great decoy?! #bradblewthat

Now, if I could only keep my husband in the room during the CMAs…I lost him at Steven Tyler. #notmyproblem #hisloss

Miranda Lambert, Single of the Year for ‘Automatic’ and also one of my favorite songs of the year since it reminded me so much of growing up. Not that I didn’t also love the other nominees but something about Miranda always just hits close to home.

Now, I am happily married and at 8 o’clock on a Friday night you will find me at home snuggled close to my hubs, but I loved the next song with Lady Antebellum ‘Bartender’ since it’s a really catchy song and let’s be honest at one time or another almost all of us have been there.

Lady A was perfectly followed up by Florida Georgia Line (omg swoon, don’t tell Pete). Can’t wait to build a white picket fence around a house in our future. Keith Urban would make my mother swoon (his hair weirdly reminds me of Jon Bon Jovi) and as always a great singer and performer.

Now for song of the year, Automatic obviously felt like a favorite since Miranda won single of the year, but I was partial to I don’t Dance by Lee Brice since my husband and I danced to that song at our wedding…but the winner was….Kasey Musgraves! An amazing artist and newer to the industry with winning new artist of the year last year!

The Band Perry followed up with Gentle on My Mind. This song is one of my recent favorites since it has a balance of old school country with new. Not many songs mix that old school twang in anymore and when you hear it, it just makes you miss what once was!

After The Band Perry, Kasey Musgrave performed with the highlight of her performance being the Queen of Country Loretta Lynne performing with her. That was quite the juxtaposition, both visually and vocally!

As usual, the new artist of the year was announced next and went to Brett Eldredge! It was super cute how he mentioned that 3 years ago he was the most eager person at the award show and was sitting in an almost empty stadium just imagining being on stage and now he was and that all the hard work was worth it!

I seriously am in love with country music and the heart that they all have for what they do. Major props to all of them!

Now for a few minutes of my just being amazed by Carrie Underwood and her amazing clothing changes while looking like one healthy, fabulous momma to be. I have to admit Carrie preggo is probably in better shape than non preggo me, but you know what she rocks it and I am so happy for her!

…and of course as I typed that our cable went out for the second time tonight…but luckily I got it back because I want to see all of Carrie’s outfits!

Glad I got it back too…what was with the Glow Stick Ariana Grande and Little Big Town performance? Just seemed a little forced and a little too George Jetson/ Futurama and that is giving those outfits more credit than they were worth. Yikes!

Thank goodness for Tim McGraw to bring it back to a little more country! Honestly, most of us know country music now straddles the pop world, but there is a limit of how much pop before it is no longer recognizable as country music.

Cole Swindell, you are such a cutie and hearing bites of Chillin’ It just make me want summer festival season to be hear because that song screams summer. Just wish we had been able to hear all of it!

Drunk on a Plane by Dierks Bentley is soo catchy. I am currently planning our honeymoon and while we will be traveling together we may end up slightly buzzed on a plane and having just moved from where the 737’s are built I might have a partiality to that little line in the song too.  It’s too funny that he got his pilots license this last year too!

Album of the Year will be the last award I stay up for tonight and I will catch up on the rest of the awards and outfits tomorrow morning. Another huge congrats to Miranda Lambert and tots amazeballs on that sexy black number! I need to find out who makes that lace top!

And now, I hate to admit it, I want to stay up and watch the rest of the awards. That is one thing I loved about being on the west coast before. I could watch all of my must watches and be in bed before 10…east coast your killing me with this watching until 11/12 business. I want to love you, but I just can’t stay up that late!

xoxo,

Steph

Home is where the Heart is!

Transitioning to a new neighborhood is fricking hard. Like semi impossible to do even under the most perfect of circumstances.

Our move has had a few less than perfect circumstances, but we’ve rolled with it. There have been ups and downs and moments where I have questioned what we have done as I compare our new home to the old.  With my questioning I have learned one super valuable lesson… I need to stop saying/thinking “but in Seattle.”

Just like Dorothy was no longer in Kansas when she was in the wonderland of Oz I am no longer in Seattle and nothing in western Maryland is going to be like Seattle.

My comparing the two is definitely not going to make things easier and can lead to unintentional negativity.

So my mantra going forward is super corny and super awesome at the same time because it is so true.

Home really is where the heart is, and my heart is in western Maryland.

 

Month-a-versary!

I can’t believe it has been a month (and a day) since our wedding at Salish Lodge! So much has happened since then that it almost feels like another lifetime! My life had been nonstop wedding and moving planning, and now Pete and I are able to start settling into our house in Frederick. When you move it feels like the first few weeks after you have finally arrived are just filled with cleaning and unpacking boxes almost to the point of not wanting to ever see a piece of cardboard again.

Last night we took a minute away from the boxes and celebrated our month-a-versary at home with some delicious home made and modified beef stroganoff. Stroganoff is one of the few meals that just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside and definitely reminds me of home. Both my Mom and Dad made it for us growing up (now really only Dad), but given my new husbands picky eating habits there were a few modifications that I had to make.

Pete hates mushrooms, but mushrooms are a staple of a stroganoff recipe and I love them. Mushrooms also help impart a nice earthy flavor to the dish that can’t really be replicated by anything else. So, as a little cheat I made the gravy for the meat with the mushrooms, let it cook down and thicken, but before adding the gravy to the crockpot I strained out the mushrooms and onions and he had no clue that they were ever even there! Win! Really, I think it is the consistency of mushrooms that drives him crazy so I didn’t feel too bad about my fake out move. Below is the recipe as I modified it based upon our flavor loves and our desire for leftovers, next go around I will make sure to take photos!

beef -not quite- stroganoff 

serves: 6

ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs sirloin roast, cubed with obvious fat and tough parts removed

1 c. all purpose flour

1 tbsp. ghee

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tbsp. louisiana hot sauce

1 tbsp. french dijon mustard

1/2 tbsp. ground mustard

1/2 tbsp. worcestershire sauce

14 0z. beef stock

1 c. red wine

1 c. sour cream

8 oz. mushrooms

1 medium onion, chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

 

directions:

Prep workspace and pre measure all ingredients.

Clean and cube the sirloin roast. Make sure to remove as much of the gristle and fat as possible.

Lightly salt and pepper the cubed meat and dredge  in 1/4 c. of flour

In a large skillet quickly brown the meat in the ghee.  As the meat is finished browning, remove and add to your crock pot or dutch oven.

Once all the meat is finished browning, use the pan drippings to sauté the chopped onion and mushrooms.  The onion will caramelize in the drippings and once this process is complete add the cup of red wine  to deglaze the pan.

To the side, combine 2 tablespoons of the beef stock, and all of the worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and french dijon mustard. This step also helps make it easier to incorporate the mustard mixture into the gravy mixture.

Slowly add the garlic, paprika, and ground mustard to your beef stock and mustard slurry.

Now add the remaining beef stock and your slurry to the pan, heating the mixture thoroughly.

At this point, if you have a picky husband you can, very carefully, strain the the gravy mixture to remove the onions and mushrooms. This makes for a smoother gravy, but there is something lovely about the rustic quality to having the mushroom and onions in your gravy.

With or without the onions and mushrooms add the gravy mixture to your crock pot, stirring to incorporate the meat.

Now, it’s a kind of set it and forget it time. This is the inexact science of cooking that you can get away with in cooking, but not baking. I typically aim to get to this point about an hour before Pete is home, or two but it can be prepared earlier in the day and the flavors can be allowed to develop in the crock pot for longer. I just like to be able to get dinner on the table, or in our current case the couch, without feeling rushed.

Right before you serve the delicious gravy you just made stir in, and incorporate the cup of sour cream. If you want to be more traditional serve the deliciousness over egg noodles, or serve it over my personal favorite baked mashed potatoes.

Hope you enjoy this dinner as much as we did on our anniversary!

Unpacking the boxes

Before this adventure to Maryland I had never really moved before. Now, I had moved a few times in the past 10 years, to include a short lived adventure in Spokane, Washington, but for the most part my moves have been within about a 20 mile radius of where I grew up.

Executing a 20 mile move that can involve many, many trips with the back seat of a car filled to a brim does not prepare you for a cross country trip…even one where movers are hired to pack everything you own up into boxes and are in charge of getting it from point A to point B.

Movers are such a blessing, but they still don’t get everything organized to be packed up, and they aren’t the ones making a gazillion runs to Goodwill so you don’t end up moving junk. In the weeks up to the move not only were we neck deep in wedding planning, we were going through drawers, closets, all the nooks and crannies to make sure that we were only moving what we needed from our houses. Pete and I didn’t live together before the wedding and together we had the stuff to prove it.

To make it even more complicated all of our stuff was going from two homes of 1700+ and 1100+ square feet respectively to an apartment across the country that was just over 1000 square feet. Even with all of the purging that we went through on the west coast, now that we are on the east coast and I am nearing the end of the first round of unpacking way more purging is going to happen just so we can peacefully exist in our new home with out feeling like things are just randomly stuffed into closets!

 

Yes, I have already shoved things into the closet in the second bedroom. Sorry, not sorry at all!

As I go through the boxes though, there are so many memories that hit me as I unwrap each item from the thick paper that everything was packaged in. There is the elephant carved from wood that I found in a market in Ghana, the masks that I picked up on vacation with my aunt and uncle following my graduation from college, and so many other little details that make up the life that I have lived the last 28 years.

There has also been a lot of china to wash by hand and lovingly put into specialized storage. Since moving in I have discovered that our apartment sized kitchen won’t hold the extensive collection that I have inherited from my grandmother and been gifted by my aunt. I didn’t even register for china we already have so much!

Keeping busy has also really helped my homesickness. I have always been really close to my family, usually seeing them at the very least once a week, more often though two. It’s hard to really cry when you are trying to tackle a mountain of a mess from unpacking.

On that note, back to the boxes.

 

New beginnings.

New beginnings are never easy. A new beginning  often means the end of a chapter and the start of a new.

A Washington native, I never really thought I would leave. Here and there I would look at the work options that would prompt a move for a career change, but in the end I always stayed within the comfortable bubble of my family.  And then I met him.

Three years ago I messaged a guy on Match.com never thinking that I would end up married to him. He deployed for Afghanistan before we could actually meet and somehow in that year he was gone we managed to keep in touch. Once he was home we finally met, a year later we were engaged, and nine months later we were married. Less than a week after our wedding, to the dismay of much of my family, we had all of our belongs packed on a truck heading for the east coast. Knowing it would take time for our belongings to make it to the east coast we stayed in Washington a little longer and soon were off to our new home with our three kitties in the back seat and a driving schedule that would have us in Maryland in short order.

Our journey had some hiccups, some less than amazing moments that tested all our patience, feline and human alike, but it was also an amazing journey that we embarked on as husband and wife.

First we stopped in Jerome, Idaho.  That first day was interesting to say the very, very least. With plaintive meows coming from the back seat we had a chorus of unhappy kitty passengers which later required a stop to take care of a minor kitty accident  all over their new bed.  And later, after hours of washing their soiled kitty bed by hand and then machine the results of my trying to save the new bed were ruined once I put it into the dryer. A dryer that had obviously, once turned on, been previously used to dry something still covered in poop. By the end of that first day all I could really do was laugh and hope that the next few days went more smoothly.

Our journey from Jerome had us heading to Fort Collins, Colorado. When we were first planning out our journey across the country Pete told me that we were stopping in Fort Collins and I was immediately excited. Some of the best micro brews in the country come from Colorado and I was hopeful that we would have a chance to go out and try a few  once we made it there. Reality and fantasy are two drastically different things. Our journey to Colorado had fabulous views of the country, Utah and Wyoming truly are amazing places that I really hope we are able to go back and visit. Something about driving through this part of the country was just magical. Yet, once we made it to Colorado we realized not only were we tired, but we had three stressed out cats, and after two days of travel we were already getting sick of fast food and knew there were many days ahead that would include it. We ended up at the Olive Garden across the street from the hotel which really was only a step above our fast food journey.

By the morning of day three, we were incredibly tired, but we still got up before the sun to make sure we didn’t get stuck in morning traffic. A car trip across the country takes long enough without adding in being stuck in rush hour traffic. From the beginning we knew day three would be the longest day of travel due to difficulty finding a pet (specifically cat) friendly hotel.  Little did we know it would be the most trying of all our days.

From Colorado our next stop was Boonesville, Missouri. Our journey was through what I like to call the heart of America.  On one hand it is incredibly flat from Colorado to Missouri, but here and there would be slight changes in the terrain and it was just beautiful. Even with the changing scenery though we were now both incredibly sick of being in the car and hitting rush hour through Kansas City didn’t help anyones temperament. As the day dragged on we decided that we would start the next day later and sleep in. Even knowing we would get more rest that night, by the time we made it to our motel, patience had run thin. What’s amazing though is that even though we were not in the best of moods upon check-in once we were in our room, viewing the dirtiest room of our trip, and then having to find Small (the name of our obviously smallest cat) after she decided to hide we just had to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. We immediately decided we wouldn’t stay a minute longer than we had to and were up the next morning even earlier than we had been every day before so we could make it to the next hotel and take a shower.

Luckily our next stop was Huber Heights, Ohio which, although in a different time zone, with our early start we made it there by the early afternoon and quickly showered and went out to grab a bite to eat. The best part about this day was that it was incredibly uneventful! Sometimes the best thing about a day is that nothing happened!

After Huber Heights our next stop was our new home! Frederick, Maryland! The plan was to stay the night at a hotel and the next day get the keys to our new apartment (online house hunting for the win). When we showed up at the hotel we were to stay at, there was a hilarious moment when Pete just said, hell no. After our night in Boonesville even the outside of this place scared us. So sucking it up we called around and luckily found a new place to stay that was decently nice for the evening. Needless to say, we hope to never travel with the cats for this long again since pet friendly hotels are not necessarily the best hotels out there!

Up next time, our new home!