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Passport Pictures: Bloopers Edition

Passports are one of those necessary evils when it comes to international travel: keeping up with them, making sure they're up to date, paying to have them replaced when they expire.

Yet, I thought I was ready to go with my passport: it didn't expire until late next year, and--since the UK doesn't have any requirements on how long the passport must be good for upon entry to the country--I had been more concerned with hotel bookings, ticket prices and train schedules.

Until I bought the plane tickets.

I was asked to enter the exact names of the passengers who would be using the tickets...which had to match the person's passport information. And then, I realized that I hadn't ever changed my passport to reflect my married (hyphenated) last name. Oops.

So, guess who had to apply for a new passport?

Guilty as charged.

On the fear that I wouldn't be able to get into the UK (or out of it) with a passport that didn't match any of the rest of my travel documents, I decided to pay for the replacement passport. Not a travel expenditure I'd planned on, but one that I absolutely need to make the rest of the trip happen.

So, for your viewing pleasure, the outtakes from my passport picture photo shoot:

And the one that made the cut:
(There's this ridiculous new policy that you can't smile too much in your passport picture...which is why I look like I'm sucking on a lemon.)

It's Official: We're Old

Our wild and crazy Friday night consisted of the following:

  • going to eat at a local place at 6 PM because we were both starving when we got off of work
  • returning lamp shades at Target that have been sitting at our house for a month, then...
  • deliberating over a conditioner on the Target shampoo aisle for close to 10 minutes (Landon conveniently went to hide in the movie section)
  • working on lesson plans for the upcoming school year
  • arguing over who's turn it was to clean the kitchen, then
  • cleaning the kitchen (neither of us won: we both cleaned)
  • passing out around 9:45 (Landon) and continuing to work on lesson plans (me, obviously, unless Landon has taken up sleep-typing)
We need to slow down with our bad selves. 

All we're missing is the cup of Fix-o-dent next to the sink. Who knew that your late twenties was the new eighty? 

The Years Keep "Roll"ing By: The Coolest Birthday Dinner I've Ever Had

A guest post by Landon on his 27th birthday:

A couple days ago, Natalie asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner. I said that sushi was a good idea since we both like sushi. This response immediately prompted her to say, "You get to open one of your birthday gifts now." I thought this was great because I have the patience of Phoebe, our super adorable puppy, which is to say, no patience whatsoever. Upon opening my birthday gift, I saw that I had received a make-your-own-sushi kit.

Yesterday, before going out to dinner with Natalie and her family, she and I stopped by Whole Foods and picked up all of the ingredients we needed for sushi except for the fish (and I got that after work today so it was super fresh). 

And then the fun began. I got off work early today because I had training today that I finished early. When I got home, I began to fix the rice. They call sushi rice "sticky rice" for a reason. By the time Natalie got home, I had the rice ready (and all up and down my shirt) and I also had most of the other ingredients cut into long, thin pieces. As Natalie walked up, I had just finished rolling up the first roll--a tuna roll. The tuna roll only had tuna, sesame seeds and wasabi paste in it, and it was a regular, small roll with the seaweed on the outside. I showed Natalie the roll, cut it and we both apprehensively grabbed our chopsticks. 

After hearing many horror stories about homemade sushi, I thought it might be terrible, but to mine and Natalie's surprise it was delicious. Natalie got the camera out and we began to make some new rolls. 

The California roll (our next roll) normally has wasabi paste, avocado, cucumber, Japanese mayo and crab meat, but since Natalie is allergic to crab (and since I didn't buy any imitation crab), we subsituted tuna. As you can see below, we went a little thick on the rice and the sushi rolls were about a wide as a can of soup. Oops. 

After nearly choking on the rice (not pictured), we decided to try our hands at the Philly roll, another favorite that has cucumber, tuna and cream cheese. We got the rice combo better on this one, and the rolls were bite-sized morsels of wonderfulness.

And for dessert, the chocolate-pecan cupcakes that Amber made me for my birthday. I had four.

Between getting to see my siblings and parents last weekend, dinner last night with the Vereens and our awesome adventure this evening, I can definitely say this is one of the coolest birthdays ever.

Garlic Crock Pot Chicken

Apparently, this week has been the one to try out new recipes. I found a recipe for this recipe over at Crepes of Wrath and couldn't pass it up. Landon and I both worked today, but he got off several hours before me, so he was nice enough to get everything in the Crock Pot. We both agreed that this recipe vied for the title of "Best Chicken We've Ever Had--In or Out." Seriously, I've had dishes at restaurants that didn't taste this good!

We pretty much used the recipe below--we used tenderloins instead of a fryer since it was only the two of us. Also, we had to add a tiny bit of flour to the sauce because it didn't thicken originally as much as we wanted it, and Landon sauteed some onions to add to the sauce. I whipped up some of my super tasty mashed potatoes and we served the chicken and sauce over that.

A definite MUST TRY!

3 1/2-4 pound fryer chicken (chicken cut into serving pieces)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
40 cloves of garlic, peeled but still whole (about 3 bulbs of garlic)
3/4 cup white wine (optional, but highly recommended)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon butter
1. Spray the inside of your crock pot with non-stick spray. Rub the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Place in the crock pot.
2. Heat your olive oil in a small skillet and add the peeled, whole garlic. Cook for 5-8 minutes over medium heat until the garlic is golden, then add the white wine and stir until the liquid has mostly evaporated, another 3-5 minutes over medium heat.
3. Pour the garlic and white wine over the chicken in the crock pot, and sprinkle the thyme and rosemary over everything. Add in the bay leaf. Turn the crock pot to low and cook for 3-4 hours. When ready, remove the chicken and place on a separate platter, then cover with foil to retain its heat. Set aside.
4. Pour the juices from the pot through a mesh sieve into a pot, then press the garlic through the sieve to form a paste. Cook the gravy with a tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat until slightly thickened, about 5-8 minutes. Serve over the chicken with potatoes, vegetables, or crusty bread and enjoy! Serves 3-4.

Uk Extravaganza 2011

Well, we finally set the dates! UK Extravaganza will officially begin the week before Thanksgiving, which means I'll be in London on my birthday!! The trip wasn't planned that way, but it is a nice little bonus.

We'll be visiting:
 Edinburgh, Scotland

Perth, Scotland

Stirling, Scotland

Falkirk, Scotland

Pitlochry, Scotland

St. Andrews, Scotland

Inverness, Scotland (and Loch Ness)

and we'll end our trip with a few days in my favorite city in the whole world:
London, England!

Keep up with our trip details on the "UK Extravaganza 2011" tab at the top of our blog. And if you've ever been to (or lived in) any of the places we're visiting in Scotland, let me know. We're always looking for fun places to go!

Chicken Puffs

Landon and I tried these for the first time tonight. The verdict? Double YUM. I was so excited about making it that I completely forgot about taking pictures. Oops.

I made this recipe just for the two of us, but you could always double (or triple) it if you need to serve more people.

1 package of crescent roll dough
2 chicken breasts (not frozen)
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 tsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
3-4 slices of bacon, cooked
1/2 small onion, minced
1 TB olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
a dash of salt
a dash of pepper
1 egg

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small sauce pan, coat the bottom with olive oil. Add onion to pan and cook on medium until translucent. Add garlic and cook no more than a minute or two.

In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese and bacon. When garlic-onion mixture is finished cooking, add to cream cheese-bacon mixture. Add in parsley and stir until well blended.

Make deep cuts into middle of the chicken breasts. Stuff chicken with cream cheese mixture.

Divide crescent roll dough into four squares (pinch edges of pre-cut triangles to form squares). Rub dough squares with onion power and thyme. Wrap each chicken breast with two dough squares, pinching edges to ensure that chicken is completely encased in dough. Brush each dough packet with egg prior to baking.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until pastry is golden brown.

More Pictures from Tim & Kelly Anne's Wedding

A few more favorites from the wedding we went to almost two weeks ago (I know--I'm slow on the uptake!):

The groomsmen and their dates
(L to R): Whitney and Shawn Corey, Heather and Riley, and yours truly

Landon and I. Note the very official walkie talkie that never left my hand!

My favorite picture of the entire evening. Nothing says fun like wacky glasses in a photo booth!
*I stole all the pictures above from the lovely Heather Watkins' Facebook page!

And a few of my own:
The venue was beautiful! If you're planning on getting married in the Roanoke, VA area, I would strongly recommend Sundara in Boones Mill.
A sunny, gorgeous day. Perfect for a wedding!
What a darling groomsman!
Shawn, Landon and Riley, and some guy who works for NPR whose name escapes me
The groomsmen and their adorable dates!