Monday, September 30, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday with Laura at Org Junkie

Upcoming week: 
Monday: Sun dried Tomato Pasta with roasted chicken and veggies 
I picked up two roasted Chickens at Costco for $4.99 each so that will make this an extra easy meal week. The two should be good for Monday, Wednesday and Thursday dinners. The pasta I'm making tonight will be invited by me, but something similar to this.

Tuesday: Costco Lasagna and Salad
We had tons of leftovers from the church dinner on Sunday - my aunt sent me home with 4 Lasagne's and lots of lettuce...and even some dessert! What a treat to have dinner made in advance!

Using some of that roasted chicken I will be making this very fun dish. 

We bumped this from last week and I'm stoked to try it, especially since I have that chicken ready! I love Thai Coconut Curry's.

Friday: Chicken Sausage, Orzo bake and roasted veggies
I snagged some chicken sausage at Costco USA and am stoked to have an easy dinner for Friday.  We will be leaving early for the Island on Saturday and want an easy and restful Friday. 

Saturday: YOYO (You're On Your Own) 
Paul and I are away on the Island for Crystal and John's respective Stagette and Stag. Our housemates are on their own for dinner. I'm stoked for this stagette - Crystal is one of my dearest friends, she planned my stagette as one of my bridesmaids and I couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of her wedding season.

Sunday: YOYO (You're On Your Own) 
Sunday we will be home mid day and will either make something easy or eat out - we'll be tired!

Reviews from last week:
Monday: Crockpot Chicken Cordon Bleu. This was a win! The whole house loved it. It was so easy to make Paul put it together for me. I cooked up some pasta to toss in with it and roasted some veggies on the side. After dinner I got to rest and do some house work - lovely...the rest that is. 

Tuesday: Greek wraps for 20 ppl: Using the sauce from this recipe and this easier crockpot recipe for the chicken. Man was it nice to come home to lifegroup dinner bubbling away in the crockpot! This was a HUGE hit. Everyone loved it. I also threw together some Greek Rice - Rice tossed with greek seasoning and Feta cheese. Mmm. On top of that Lifegroup was great and I'm getting more and more excited for Tuesdays. 

Wednesday:  Crockpot Creamy Chicken Tacos. Our house always likes this meal and tonight was no different. And after a nice filling dinner Paul and I went into our room to chat....we ended up laying on the bed for hours talking until we fell asleep. It was an excellent evening. 

I bumped this meal to next week - I was meeting with my personal trainer and headed straight to my sisters - Paul whipped up some noodles for him and Jessie.   

Friday: Spaghetti and Meatballs 
We had Chapel looming and it was a rainy day. Lyndsay brought over some na'an bread so I decided to make Butter Chicken instead. It was warm and tasty. Chapel that night was AMAZING - there were 500 youth there! Then we hit up a philipino birthday party and then a Chapel after party. Great great great night. 

Saturday: YOYO (You're On Your Own) 
Paul and I were up bright and early to head to America. We are hosting a few thanksgiving dinners so we bought a bunch of turkeys and a couple of hams while we were there. We picked up some work pants for Paul and generally stocked up on groceries. We also enjoyed a date lunch out at the Olive Garden. We were back home by 3pm and unpacked and in our PJ's by 4pm. We watched movies with Jodi and rested. It was perfect! Then at 7pm we got ready for my cousin Jonathan's 25th birthday extravaganza. Great times! 

Sunday: YOYO (You're On Your Own) 
Sunday we made a farewell brunch for Jodi and then spent the entirety of our day in our PJ's. Our family photo shoot was cancelled as it was pouring out. So we rested and did house chores and felt gloriously relaxed. We headed off to church for 3:30, then had a church members meeting, then a big church dinner and a night of prayer and hanging out. 6+ hours with our church family and we were as happy as can be!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Woodland Wedding and Pie Celebrations

I mentioned a while back being on the Island for a wedding - this was my first trip to Honeymoon Bay, just past Lake Cowichan. 
The setting was nothing short of gorgeous!

The house that the wedding was taking place at was the Groom's Mom's place - so we headed over there right away - she has a beautiful garden and woodland behind where the wedding and reception would be happening. 

The couple are fun and whimsical - Lord of the Rings themed wedding invites, complete with Calvin & Hobbes LOTR pop up.  Love it! For the Menu board and timeline board I mimicked the writing in their invites and kept it to their theme. I had such fun creating! 

The wedding took place in the back forest area and was gorgeous. 
The reception involved Bola - taught by the bride and was very casual and fun. 
I enjoyed myself from start to finish. 
I LOVE this "aisle"

Christina, the Bride Alex and Celene. 
Beautiful Bride, happy couple, great wedding all around.

Then it was off to catch a greyhound in Duncan and head to Nanaimo to see my dear friend Crystal and do wedding related stuff as her big day is quickly approaching! As I'm in her wedding we got to walk around the mall and check out shoes (no luck but it helped me know what to look for - and I eventually found them in America). For me it's always a treat to be at Woodgrove Mall - I love that place. They have the perfect stores and I know where everything is - I miss that over here. I had a coupon for Old Navy for that day only so I got a comfy black pullover and a sporty tank top  - both are soooo comfortable, I basically lived in them all week. I also found replacement flats for work - pointy toed flats are hard to come by! I found two great pairs though - one for work and one for at home and they were each $10! What up. 

We drove to Parksville to Crystal's house - we had an easy lunch and talked Wedding. I went through my giant Wedding Checklist with Crystal - basically this helps brides know that they know more than they think and are more on track then they realize - except for the times where this alerts the bride that they were way way way behind. Thankfully Crystal was ON TOP OF IT in a major way and her day is going to be perfect. I love doing this for friends at the best of time, but as one of her bridesmaids I was EXTRA happy to get to go over all the details with her. For the win!
Then it was time to tidy and get ready for a party - it was Crystal's 30th birthday party! 
To celebrate she was having a Pie making Contest - sweet and savoury. And man.....did people bring it! Amazing, amazing, amazing. 

First up, here are Crystal and I!

The spread, the winners and the birthday girl

Savanna, Crystal's sister, and I

The carnage

It was also one year since their engagement (and just over one month to their wedding)
Can't wait to celebrate with the two of you!!!

So glad our friendship has lasted all these years! We met when we were 19 and have been friends ever since - through college and boyfriends, through living together and living far apart - this is a friendship that keeps on ticking - and I'm so glad!
I'm also glad to say we've both ended up with guys who get along with each other! And who we both like - I love John and I couldn't be more stoked that they are ending up together. 

Then there was a quick dash to the ferry - managed to get onto the 9:30 ferry heading home (bought my ticket at 9:21, yikes) and was home in bed by midnight (thanks to the mercy of friends - Cora and Russell who drove me home, waaaaay out of their way, saving me hours in a bus commute) and was able to sleep in until 11 - and boy was that awesome. All in all a perfect weekend trip away.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

World cutest personal assistant and a Happy Birthday to my Dad

I don't know if you know but I'm a lucky lady - not only am I married to a very helpful man and have one of the best sisters in the world, I also have a 5 year old nephew who loves to be helpful. Now that Connor has turned 5 he's all about being helpful. A few months ago he told me that he could be very helpful - he said he could help with food prep or even grocery shopping. He said that now he was a big boy he could be very helpful. 

I'll admit, at first I was skeptical. I mean I LOVE spending time with Connor. He's cute and he's my first nephew, but I have been babysitting him since he was a newborn and it hasn't always made my life easier - sweeter, but not easier. But as he is older I thought, ok, lets give it a whirl. We've taken to hitting up stores together - Costco, Superstore, Winners/Home Sense....and we have a great time. He's super helpful - as we shop I push the kart and he sits inside - I grab items and he loads them into the kart - when we go to check out he passes me the items from the kart and I load them onto the conveyer belt. It's a great system - and it's super fun. 

Anyways - he's pretty awesome - here he is in Paul's apron helping me do some cooking and food prep. 

That's a seriously good helper. 

On top of that there is Austin, Connor's younger brother and my other nephew. Cute, though still young - he's learning to help. They helped me make a sauce to roast over some Ham for my Dad's birthday dinner. The two of them were killing me with cuteness with their long aprons. 

And let me tell you, the ham was the best part. Thanks boys!

Speaking of being blessed - I am also Jory Mitchell's daughter. This past week my Dad turned 62 and we had a big family dinner for him - we couldn't have it be too big or my mom would be overwhelmed so we stuck to our immediate family - Jenna's household (Jenna, Colin and their two boys, plus there three students Kayla, Xing and Finja), my household (Me and Paul, plus one of our students, Jessie), my parents and our joint friends the Chibota's - since everyone loves the Chibota's - Irene is one of my closest friends and TC & Irene are in my parents lifegroup and are close with them also. 

Celebrating my Dad is easy. He is kind and generous and always is thinking of how to love others - that's an easy person to want to celebrate. Growing up I always knew that my Dad loved me - each weekends we would get a date with one of our parents - Mom would take us to McDonalds or Subway and Dad would take us to Paradise Cafe. I grew up knowing that my Dad wanted to spend time with me. We would throw the ball around, go for driving lessons, drive around on his motorbike, play games, play cards, talk - he instilled in us the knowledge that he genuinely liked us. And know that continues - as grown women we still talk to him about life - we still want to do things with him. Now we're the busy ones though - but it's not hard to want to make the time for him - he always did for us. 

I'm thankful to have a father as awesome as my Dad - he loves my mom through her disease in beautiful ways. He shows me every day what it looks like to love and serve a spouse sacrificially. If you know my Dad and you're a praying person - would you mind taking a moment to pray for him? He needs energy and rest as he cares for my mom - he needs miracles. I pray for my parents a lot - and thank God for them often. Dad, thank you for all you do - I'm blessed to be called "Jory Mitchell's daughter."Love, your Tara Turtle.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fallin' for Fall Decor

I love fall. Love it. It's crisp and cool and I can wear sweaters and boots and feel cozy. I'm a warm person - I mean like I'm always boiling. So to have weather that works with me to keep me cool - and lets me wear the warm things I love - bring it on! I also love fall decorations. When I was young my mom would decorate the house for each season and it was always a big deal. In our family Christmas was the biggest of deals but each season had their own important tidbits - gourds played a big part of our family's fall decor each year - seeing dried out gourds still makes me feel nostalgic. 

This was my first fall in our new home - and with a mantle! I've been reading magazines and then blogs for years and feeling jealous of their mantles - or at least their ability to decorate their mantle. I used to use the top of my TV though someone would invariably tell me that it wasn't proper decorating whatevers to do that. Whatevs. I liked it. But I'm an adult with A MANTLE.  I didn't want to stray to far from the mantle decor we already have - Paul and I both love it, it brings in both of our personalities and likes - it's got a skull and a clock that looks like a branding iron for Paul, and flowers and candles for the femine side. I wanted to add something that would play off of what we already have in our home, decor wise. 

Please read this knowing that if you were at my house I would make you a cup of hot (or cold, you get to chose) chai latte and would most likely have some sort of treat around (chips or sweets of some form). We would probably laugh, because I'm super funny (right?!) and it would be nice. Just, ah, keep that in the back of your mind while you read, so you get the whole affect.  I bring to you, fall at the Morgans. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Menu Plan Monday & a girls trip to America

Menu Plan Monday with Laura at Org Junkie

Tonight I need to get some stuff done around the house so I wanted a fairly easy dinner - voila! 

Tuesday: Greek wraps for 20 ppl.
Normally I would make this recipe as is, but when cooking for 20+ people that's a lot of chicken! So I'm using the sauce from the favorite recipe and the chicken from this easier crockpot recipe. All served with a side of greek rice (rice cooked then tossed with greek spices and feta). 

This is a house favorite and another easy meal -  I don't use the Sante Fe cooking cream, just regular cream cheese with some tex-mex or taco seasoning added. Soooo good. 

I saw this recipe and felt drawn to try it. I think the household will love me.  

Friday: Spaghetti and Meatballs 
Classic.  We have Chapel that night so we need something fast and easy before heading out the door. We have been invited to two birthday parties and this youth worship service that night - I'm hoping we can somehow hit up a bit of everything but we'll see!

Saturday: YOYO (You're On Your Own) 
Saturday is a day to relax and be around the house OR it's a day to go to the states for the morning - not sure yet. Either way it'll be Paul and Tara time. Then it's my cousin's big 25th birthday party - fancy dress affair and I'm looking forward to it! 

Sunday: YOYO (You're On Your Own) 
Sunday we have planned a photo shoot with my family while my mom can still smile for pictures. Big day for smiles and looking good. Paul is going to HATE that day - that man is not a fan of photos. We get to sleep in first though, which will really help. Then it's a big church vision night, which we'll try to make if we get done in time. 

Weekend Recap:

Thursday night after dinner I was sleepy. I had to work late and then threw an easy dinner together and felt the need to cancel with my sister and spend all night reading in bed. Great life decision.

Friday was the start of my weekend now that I only work Monday to Thursday. I met up with my friend Lydia for a bike ride date. We rode down to 49th Parallel at Main and 13th. Best decision ever. 

Then I went out for a dress fitting for Crystal's wedding and then headed to my sisters house to hang out for a while. We had a lovely time and I'm glad we had the visit since I'd been bummed to cancel on her the night before. After that my friend Laura M came over for the afternoon - and that was a treat! Laura is a new friend and I'm very happy to have met her. And then the Whitton's came over, bearing dinner. We ate and laughed and talked and had a great time - and thankfully all felt tired at about the same time, which was good since 3 of the 4 of us had to wake up by 6am the next day! Paul was heading fishing and Ana and I were heading to America. 

Saturday we woke up bright and EARLY. I got up at 5:30am and was arriving at Irene's to pick her up for our trip by 5:55am. We got to Richmond to Lindsay's house by 6:15am to meet up with Ana and Lindsay. We all loaded up Lindsay's car with our bags (look how similar we are!) and headed out. 

[Our row of freezer bags]

I'd been in charge of our route for this trip as we had some very specific plans - this wasn't any standard costco/walmart/winco trip. No, this was for a purpose. A couple purposes in fact. 

Hobby Lobby. World Market. Nordstrom Rack. Need I say more? All of us girls have lived in America (only 8 months total for me and much longer for the rest of them) but we all have a deep love of America and it's shopping. We all miss certain stores a lot - and when I first went to a Hobby Lobby in Texas I was hooked. Also, all the bloggers I love love World Market, so it had to be good. 

Here was our route: I planned it by store cluster

1. Target (Alderwood Mall Parkway, Lynnwood, WA, USA) and Cost Plus World Market (Alderwood Mall Parkway, Lynnwood, WA, United States) were up first. Since Target opened at 8am and we would be getting there around 8:30am. 

Target was win win win for me - the turquoise lanterns I'd been wanting for months were on sale for $4.50 each! You can just see them in the photo below.
I also got two great cardigans to replace cardigans that I love and wore out. I found a black maxi dress for $15 and the other girls had similar good luck. 

World Market was an experience. I'm officially in love. Here are Irene and Ana, happy to be in America and WM showing off a sign I'd like to try recreating. 

I showed GREAT restraint though and just got things on my list: hook & bottle lid opener for the side of my drink stand and a replacement glass beverage jug since mine broke. I am in LOVE with this new one. 

2. Nordstrom Rack, DSW & Old Navy (Alderwood Mall Pkwy, Lynnwood, WA, United States). 

This was my first experience at Nordstrom Rack and DSW. Wow. NR is a bit overwhelming but can be super rewarding and DSW is like heaven. I needed to purchase wedding shoes for Crystal's wedding (metallic wedges) and a rain outfit - I wanted a coat that looked more grown up and not like a kids rain slicker, and boots that an adult would wear, not rain boots that look like I should go jump in a puddle. I always look younger than I am and could use any help. At Nordstrom Rack I found a great black rain coat down from $200 to $80 and fell in love. At DSW I found short black biker books for the rain and the perfect metallic wedges - both at 40% off of their last price ($55 and $35 respectively). Ana also found the perfect boots there - we were both super boot happy.

The metallic wedges are from DSW (Hot, hot hot)
The black wedges were a Payless purchase later that day
And Old Navy had their skinnies on for $19 a pair and I needed two replacement pairs of jeans, so I scooped those up happily. 

3. Olive Garden (196th Street Southwest, Lynnwood, WA, United States) & Tuesday Morning. Olive Garden is a must for all day shopping, $7.99 for all you can eat soup, salad and breadsticks at a sit down restaurant - restores sanity to the busyness. 

Olive Garden was a moment of sanity in the middle of the busy day.

After lunch we stopped in for a first visit to Tuesday Morning. Lindsay assured us we would love it and it did not disappoint! Irene had been looking for mason jars with handles for drinking and usually one is $4.99. We found sets of 4 for $6.99! We both got 2 sets. Now I have a set of 8 glasses that match my beverage container - and I'm midway through making a set of mason jar martini and cocktail glasses (more on that to come once I'm done) so I'll have a great party set. We all found a few "win!" purchases including an Oregon Ducks mug for me to take home to Paul - he was stoked. 

4. Hobby Lobby (60th Avenue West, Lynnwood, WA, USA) and Trader Joes. 

I had forgotten how magical Hobby Lobby was. OH MY WORD. I could have spent so much money there. All us girls showed remarkable restraint - I was pleased and surprised, though I did find a few things I want to figure out how to recreate at home.

We hit up a few "usuals" after that - Payless Shoes, Trader Joes and Walmart before heading home. By the time we crossed the border, unloaded and got to our homes it was 10pm. Paul was a walking Zombie but I was on a shopping high. I immediately set about unloading and putting things out. So happy.

Sunday morning we got to sleep in and woke up to a rainy rainy day with no power! It actually made it all that much cozier. Paul and I spent the morning tidying the house up and then just chatting and connecting. We spent the afternoon working on some projects (details to come on that shortly) and then headed off to church where we were having a church service visited by a bunch of Camp friends. It was great. After that we had a bunch of them over for dinner and it was lovely.  

I swear it was lovely, despite what Mike's face would have you believe.

And that brings us to Monday - what will you hold for me this week life?

Friday, September 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Volume 9)

--- 1 --- 
Paul's found a job! He is working part time as an Educational Assistant at a local Christian High School and part time helping a friend's business. Between the two he is full time, and has an opportunity to apply for a few teaching jobs in January. We're very happy and he's pleased to ease into teaching slowly - this gives him time in the classroom without being the one in charge. Last nigh though, I watched him help our student Jessie with her homework and I was reminded that he was born to teach. I pray/hope the right position comes along at the right time.  

Now Paul is working full time and I'm working 4 days at work, plus running the house and our students. It's excellent. We're entering into season "debt paydown" - it's an exciting time; we basically live like we still only have one income and put almost everything else onto debt. I've actually been looking forward to this season for sometime.

The other great thing about us both working is that mornings are so much easier when we both have to get up around the same time. If one of us gets to lay in bed, the other person struggles to be motivated to get up. When we both have to get up, we help motivate each other to be up and out of bed on time. So helpful!

--- 2 --- 
I've gotten a gym pass so finally after a month and a half of having no place to shower at work, therefore no way to bike to work, I've been able to start up again. I missed it a lot! I didn't realize how much until I started again. It's a half hour there, plus 20 minutes to change and walk to work and just over half and hour back, with 15 minutes to change. In the summer I get home around 5:22 and in the winter it's more like 5:30. The sun really does make the commute much faster/easier/safer. Not biking for the month helped me gain quite a bit of weight, so I'm back on operation "bike lots and eat better". We'll see how it goes - I quite hate the eat better side of it. 

{The view as I leave in the morning on my bike}
--- 3 --- 
I am on the Island for a wedding this weekend (wedding starts in 40 minutes!) and I rode to the wedding in the back of a SUV/Van thing. Since I wasn't in charge of the trip or driving I got to pull out my iPad and keyboard and write yesterdays and most of todays post. So thankful for restful time like that. I also rested and read a book. Happy Tara for the win!

When I was on the ferry I saw a sign that tickled my fancy when I went to Europe with my parents 10 years ago. The sign said "Step over Sill" by someone had added a "y" and for some reason, "step over, silly" as a command, makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. 

--- 4 --- 
As mentioned, I am typing this from the back of a Ford Flex as I drive up island from Sydney to Honeymoon Bay outside of Lake Cowichan. I am going to help with a friends sister's wedding - and being here has made me remember how much I love this Island. The Ferries, the scenery. I loved growing up here. As much as Port is my home, the whole island is in my heart too - we grew up travelling it up and down and back and forth, something I continued well into my adulthood. I wish there wasn't such an expensive ferry in between us. 

Oh the island highway, and the various familiar stops. There is such nostalgia all up and down this place. I hope to be able to bring my kids over fairly regularly - I want them to be raised with Vancouver Island as a family place, like I was with Vancouver. For Paul's sake we must tie in Portland/Oregan as well - yikes, so many places to let them fall in love with. 

--- 5 --- 
Travel day I came up with a great outfit. The weather was hot out - the sun hasn't gotten the memo that it's fall and I'm oh so thankful. That being said, air conditioned ferries and restaurants make picking an outfit tricky. I chose a tank top and short with a chambray pullover to add in the coolth. I felt comfortable all day. It's a winner!
--- 6 --- 
I am currently heading to wedding 9 of 11 since March. Today is the last "summer" wedding, the next two are both in October and are definitely more "fall"y. At some point I have a post brewing about weddings and such - like a "What 11 weddings has tuaght me" sort of post. We'll see. It's only brewing in my head so we'll see if it translates into a blogpost. 

But I will say, this season of weddings has been a blast. There have been some really hard parts, some really really awesome parts, many expensive parts, quite a few rewarding parts and a lot learned. Through these weddings I can say that by choosing to be involved in them and not just attending, I have grown so much closer to the women getting married and to the women closest to each bride and for that I wouldn't take back a moment of back pain, late nights and early mornings. I have been blessed to serve these women, and call them friends. 

So far this season: 
Ana's  Vancouver wedding (which started the whole time off) where I grew to love this woman even more than I had originally (Ana you rock!) and slightly coveted her wedding (that woman has mad skills)
Sara's Surrey wedding where I got to see family come together and learn a lot about my newest sibling in law
Sunshine's Vancouver wedding where I got to know this sweet lady even better and see her graciousness in full force
Rebekah's Peace Arch wedding where Canada met with USA and I got to witness a wedding where God moved and have the chance to grow closer to this friend of mine and understand where she came from and who she is
Sarah's Nelson wedding which was not only fun but gave all of us Vancouver friends a chance to see her and her new love happy together
Yhan's wedding where I finally got to get a glimpse of who Yhan really was - and how very loved she is by so many around her. 
Ereka's wedding was a reinforcement of all I already knew about her - she is amazing and loved and absolutely one of the best people I know. Love her TONS. 
Stef's wedding was a wonderful opportunity to grow closer to her and learn more about where she comes from. I'm so thankful for the time with her. 
Currently, I'm at Alex's wedding - I wish LeAnna, you could meet her. She reminds me of a mix between  you and your sister-in-laws. She says things like "Stupid Monkey" and a thousand other LeAnna isms that I miss and love about you. Alex is stress free and is so great to be around on this big day. Also? Lord of the Rings themed invitations, complete with pop up Calvin and Hobbes LOTR cartoon cut out. Awesome. 
 --- 7 --- 
This weekend I get to head to Parksville for Crystal's 30th birthday - I'm so thankful I'm on the island for this wedding already. It's a pie making competition night, so I'm stoked about that. On top of that I'm looking forward to Saturday with her at the mall - shoe shopping and dress fitting and general "girlyness". I love this friend and I'm stoked to get to spend so much time with her in the coming months. Just over a month to her big day and I feel so blessed to get to stand with her as she married her love, John. I won't say I called it (cause I didn't) BUT I will say I always like them together and was always pro-John. So this will be a great day. And now - time for a wedding, happy weekend!!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


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