Monday, November 30, 2009

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving. Every time we go home, it is harder and harder to come back. Texas just feels like home. We always manage to squeeze in so much during our visits. This year included Thanksgiving lunch with Darby's extended family; going to see The Blind Side with John and Debby; shopping with my sister; Outburst with my family and Jeremy; dinner with Aunt Tere and cousin Corrie; a shower for my high school friend Krista; and decorating two Christmas trees, among other things. Here are just a few pictures from this weekend. I forgot my camera, so I had to rely on others' facebook pictures. I didn't get any of Thanksgiving at Darby's house. :( We can't wait to go back in just 3 weeks for Christmas!!

The fam after decorating our Christmas tree. My brother's in Uruguay, so we're all holding his picture. We missed him!!

My cousin Corrie. Isn't she precious? We were playing Pass the Pigs, and she was really into it.

My BFFs from junior high and high school. Me, Whitney, Krista, Jessica, Stephanie. We have so many silly, fun memories together. Hard to believe we're all grown-ups---getting married, getting master's degrees, moving far from home. We realized that this is the first time we've all been together since my wedding 2-1/2 years ago. Too long! We told Stephanie and Jessica they better get married soon so we have more excuses to get together. :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The ABCs of Thanksgiving

I stole this idea from my sister's blog. I thought it was a fun way to think of all the things I'm thankful for, some silly and some serious. Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving!

Apple cider—I cannot believe I spent the first 23 years of my life without this drink. It is amazing.
Babies—I love teaching Cradle Roll at church. It's so fun to see how much the babies change from the time they enter at 5 or 6 months to the time they leave at 2 years.
Church—We would be completely lost here without Philo Road. Everyone was so nice and welcoming when we arrived. Our church is such a blessing in our lives.
Darby—Obviously, I am so, so thankful for Darby. He is my best friend, my teammate, my encourager. I can't imagine my life without him.
Evenings—One good thing about being out of school (even though I often miss it) is that my evenings are my own. I love having time to cook, scrapbook, read, or just veg if I want to.
Friends—I am so thankful for the friends I've made in Illinois. But I'm also extremely thankful for my friends from college. I miss them so much. Being away from them has made me realize even more how special those relationships are.
Grace—I am so glad God's love isn't dependent on anything I do. If it were, I'd be in trouble. :)
Hannah—My sister is awesome. She has so much energy and always makes me laugh. She's a wonderful teacher and cares so much for her students. I'm so happy to get to spend time with her this week.
In-laws—I have been blessed with great in-laws. They have really welcomed me into the family.
January 1--New Year's Day is my favorite day of the year. It's such a nice day to just relax and make plans for the upcoming year.
Kitchen—I am so grateful to have a fairly large kitchen with nice appliances where I can do all of the cooking I love.
Laughter—There's nothing better than laughing until my cheeks hurt with Darby, friends, family, anyone.
Matt—My brother is so funny and smart. He gets along great with everyone, but he can also be very introspective and thoughtful. He's studying abroad in Uruguay right now, and I can't wait for him to get back.
Naps—My Sunday afternoon nap is the highlight of my week.
Olives—My favorite Thanksgiving food. Every year, my mom gets me a can of whole black olives. :)
Parents—My mom and dad are so loving, generous, and fun. More importantly, they are both excellent Christian role models. I don't like living so far away with them, but it does make me really excited about the time we do get to spend together.
Quiet—I feel like this is a relatively "quiet" time of life for me. I'm not too busy and have plenty of time to relax and think. I'm trying to treasure this season since I know it won't last very long.
Reminiscing—I'm glad that I have so many happy memories from childhood, college, etc. Most phases of my life have been very good.
Sunshine—I've always loved the sun, but now that we live in a darker, rainier place, I appreciate it even more.
Travel—I'm grateful that Darby and I have had the opportunity to take several trips together and that we're able to go home and visit our families fairly often.
Uniqueness—I'm thankful that God created each of us with different abilities, talents, and personalities
Vacuum—I'm thankful for a husband that does the vacuuming. :)
Women's Bible study—I started going to a college women's Bible study on Monday nights this semester. It has been so great to get to know some of the other young women from church.
X-rays—I'm grateful that I haven't had any this year. (X is hard :) )
Young Marrieds—This group at our church meets once a month, and it's always a lot of fun.
Zero debt—I am very grateful to mine and Darby's parents for paying for our ACU education, so we could start our married life debt-free. And I'm incredibly grateful for Darby's TA position that pays for his tuition now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One Chicken, Three Meals

I am in full-on soup-making mode. The weather has been rainy and cold for most of the past two weeks (for most of the past two months, for that matter), which means soup sounds good every night.

Last night I made chicken chili for Darby and me. This has been a favorite of ours since I first made it two years ago. It is so easy. It takes a while because of the amount of time it simmers, but most of that time is hands-off. The recipe calls for shredded rotisserie chicken. I normally don't buy rotisserie chicken, but I think I might start doing it more often. Darby and I can get 3 meals plus leftovers and 3 cans of chicken broth from one $5 chicken. It's a pretty good deal. Now, roasting my own chicken would be even more economical, but I haven't gotten that brave yet. In case you're interested, below is the process I used to squeeze every last cent out of that chicken. That sounds weird.

For the first meal, eat whatever pieces of chicken you want plain. After eating, pick off all remaining meat and place in container. At this point, it can be frozen for 1–2 other meals (such as the chili below). We can get 2 casseroles from the leftover meat, if I keep a pretty low meat-to-other-ingredients ratio, which I usually do.

Place chicken carcass (along with skin and fatty pieces) in Crock-pot along with roughly chopped carrots, celery, and yellow onion, a few peeled garlic cloves, and spices such as bay leaves, sage, thyme, and peppercorns. Pour 1-1/2 to 2 qts. COLD water over ingredients. (For a small rotisserie chicken, I'd stick with 1-1/2 qts.) Cook on low at least 10 hours. Let cool slightly, then strain into large bowl. Chill in the refrigerator several hours; then, skim the fat off the top. Divide among 2–3 freezer bags, lay flat, and freeze. This should yield close to 6 cups broth, about 3-1/2 cans worth. It might not seem like a lot but considering you would just throw the chicken bones away anyway, it's not too bad. Plus, you can use the leafy parts of celery and the tops of carrots. Next time you're using those vegetables, toss the scraps in a freezer bag and save until you want to make broth. Not to mention, homemade broth is much healthier and far lower in sodium than canned, and you can bask in your self-sufficiency and resourcefulness for days. ;)

I let the broth cook while I was sleeping, and—although convenient—waking up to the smell of chicken broth is not that pleasant. Neither is straining the broth and discarding the carcass before breakfast. Just FYI :)

Now for the chili recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Smoky Chicken Chili
From Southern Living (I think?)

3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (I'm sure you could substitute boiled shredded chicken, but it wouldn't have as much flavor.)
2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2–3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans chili-style diced tomatoes
2 cans beans (black, navy, or both), drained and rinsed
12-oz. beer (Any kind. If you are opposed to buying beer, you could probably substitute chicken broth, but again, it wouldn't be as flavorful.)
1 pkg. McCormick white chicken chili seasoning mix

Saute the peppers, onion, and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat about 8 mins. Stir in tomatoes, beans, beer, chicken, and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve with shredded cheese.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Well, after an hour on the phone/Internet with Comcast yesterday, I was told that they would send someone out that day to "fix" our cable. We still have all of the channels. I was kind of doubtful that someone would come out Saturday because it was already 3 p.m. when I called. We'll see if anything happens this week. I am not calling again, though. They've had their chance.

On Friday I went grocery shopping after work. We needed milk, but the price was higher than I normally pay, so I decided to wait and try a different store. When I checked out, I got one of those coupons that sometimes prints with your receipt. (I love those; they're always such a surprise.) It was for a free gallon of milk! I looked at it and my jaw literally dropped in disbelief and excitement. I am a huge dork.

I brought in our Christmas decorations from the garage this weekend because I wanted to see if I had any Christmas cards leftover from years past (I did---3 different kinds!). Darby and I are going to put up our decorations next weekend or early next week since he'll be off for Thanksgiving. I'm so excited!! I've bought several gifts already, so I feel ahead of the game. I'm also very excited because I know what Darby's getting me for Christmas (he told me): a massaging seat cover (one that has the little balls in it)! I've wanted one of those for a long time, but I teased Darby that the only reason he's getting it is so he doesn't have to give me backrubs anymore. He admitted that was partially true. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Voicemail fail

Well, from the comments so far on my previous post, it sounds like I should call Comcast and hope that they still don't do anything about it. :)

I had a frustrating experience with voicemail today at work. I was trying to call an organization to follow up on a request I sent to them for permission to reprint their standards in a textbook. I get very nervous when I make phone calls, so I always have a script carefully prepared. I was transferred to voicemail, so I began:

"Hi, this is Kayla Hewitt with ______ _______. I am calling to follow up on the status of a permission request I sent in September. It was for the ______ standards to be printed in a textbook, [title of textbook], by . . . "

The machine cut me off and asked if I wanted to add to my message or re-record. I opted to re-record, as I wasn't sure exactly where I had left off. I decided to abridge for my second attempt:

"Hi, this is Kayla Hewitt with ______ _______. I am calling to follow up on the status of a permission request I sent in September. My phone number is xxx-xx . . . "

The machine cut me off again! This time I opted to add on since it was looking like I'd never be able to record a full message.

"Hi. I got cut off. My phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx, and again my name is Kayla Hew. . ."

Cut off again! At this point I just gave up. I don't understand the point of voicemail if it's going to be that short. I understand that people don't want to listen to long messages, but wouldn't they like to know what you're calling about so they can gather the necessary information before calling you back? I sent an e-mail to the organization explaining what had happened (although the whole point of calling was because I hadn't received a response via e-mail). I felt like a huge idiot. It doesn't help that we have a community phone at work, so basically the whole office heard my 3 failed attempts.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Confession

Ok, so you know how a few months ago I posted about getting rid of our cable? Well, that was only part of the story.

When the guy came to shut the cable off, he took the box, but he also had to go disconnect something from the pole. The pole is behind our fence and the fence is padlocked. Neither we nor the owners of the house have the key to the lock. (I'm not really sure how it got there, but we don't ever use that gate anyway.) The guy who had set up the cable climbed over the fence to get to the pole. Well, this guy didn't want to do that. He said he was going to put a work order in and that it would probably be a couple of weeks before it got done, but he would go ahead and mark us down as disconnected.

That was in August, and we still have cable! We can't access OnDemand or the special cable TV guide, but we still have all of the cable channels. It's been awesome, but I'm starting to feel kind of bad about it. I mean, I know it wasn't our fault, but I still think we probably ought to tell Comcast. I didn't even consider this before the Mad Men season ended on Sunday. No way was I giving up cable before then! :)

What do you think—to tell or not to tell? I'm pretty sure I know the answer; I just need a shove in the right direction.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I am rebelling against winter by refusing to wear my winter coat. I don't care that it is in the 30s at night. If I don't wear my coat, it isn't winter yet. Actually, we've been having some beautiful weather during the day lately—highs near 60 and sunny. Unfortunately, because of the time change, it is now dark by the time I get off work at 4:30. I hate it! Seriously, it messes with me. I have been trying and trying to come up with reasons to like the early darkness because otherwise I feel like I might go crazy long before March. I did come up with two:
  1. I don't have to feel bad about being lazy after work. I mean, it's dark anyway. Might as well just go to bed.
  2. It is light when I get up in the morning.

That is all I could think of. This is very depressing.

On a happier subject, it is now the holiday season! I know this because Starbucks has their Christmas drinks available. Starbucks is my official calendar. And three weeks from today I will be in Texas enjoying the SUNLIGHT! (And family and friends, but seriously, the sun might be the most important thing to me right now; if it's rainy, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.)