Monday, May 21, 2012

Hello from Vienna!

Gruss Gott! I don't know a lick of German but I'm trying to at least get the basics - Hello, Thank you, Excuse me ( as I tend to cut people off as I read our travel book while walking... I'm pretty positive everyone I've attempted to say anything to looks at me absolutely confused and then gives me the "She's not making any sense but at least she's trying" sympathy smile. Oh well, I'll get better as we go! We are currently in Vienna, Austria and it is beautiful!! We got here yesterday at 10:30 am (It's currently 10am on Sunday... Seven hours ahead of Oklahoma). We had a little adventure when we first got here - no ATM would take our cards!! It wouldn't have been such a big deal if we weren't so ridiculously exhausted, but we were. Typically I book hostels via email but we didn't have 2 euros to pay to use the computer at the Internet cafe. So we just went to a nicer hotel that took credit cards and got a room. It was a little out of our price range but that's okay, we really needed to ditch our overpacked back packs!! We ended up exploring the beautiful St Stephens Cathedral first since it was free and, oh, words can't explain how amazing it was!! The sun was shinig through the stained glass so the room was covered in a rainbow of color! I took lots of pictures and even remembered to bring the cord to upload but didn't think about the fact that apparently you cant do that on an iPad. So you'll have to wait to see the pictures until we get back... Just google image it! We got a little turned around and stopped to check the map and while we were standing there we saw another ATM so we figured we might as well give it one more try and IT GAVE US MONEY! Praise the Lord!! Since then, our trip has been worry free and fabulous! It's time to check out of this lovely hotel so I have to hurry and get ready but I will try my best to keep everyone posted on our where we are! We plan to stay in Vienna again tonight then head to Salzburg. Hope everything back in the good ol' US of A is doing well! Is it bad that the first thing we did when we were able to use the Internet was check the Thunder game?!? Woohoo go Thunder! Be blessed, Raegan

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Recipe Monday: Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Kebabs

Good morning! On this Wednesday, I'm bringing you Recipe Monday because that just seems like the practical thing to do... I left Happy Mother's Day up on Monday and Tuesday for two reasons... 

Reason #1: My parents' internet has been down at the house (because we live in the sticks you can't just call the Cox or AT&T guy, it's MUCH more complicated) so I knew my mom wouldn't see it until she went to work on Monday...

Reason #2: I figured it'd take you at least two days to read the whole thing! Longest post ever, right?! I'm sure you all bowed out in the first fifteen points, and I don't blame you a bit, but I could go on and on and on when it comes to singing my mother's praises... And I knew she'd read every single word and to be perfectly honest, her opinion was the only one that mattered that day.

So thanks for hanging with me! In other news, have I mentioned that:
we're leaving on a jet plane in THREE DAYS?!

EEEEEK! We are so excited and I have sooooo much to do! But BK and I made a "Pre-Vacation To Do List..." Ok, let's not kid ourselves, I made a list and BK and I have been working hard to get it knocked out. BUT, there are a few things that I'm going to need YOUR help with!

Book Recommendations! Anybody read anything good lately? I'm definitely taking suggestions in a hurry. I'm not a big fan of sci-fi, I prefer real life or at least somewhat believable. Past that, I'm pretty much free game! Please send me your suggestions!!

Now, on to the good stuff:


It's been such wonderful weather that cooking on the grill has been a no-brainer at our house lately! We were a little burned out on burgers and grilled chicken so we thought we'd give seafood and sausage a try. I am so glad we did, because these kebabs were a-mazing! They tasted just like a Louisiana shrimp boil but no gigantic pot was necessary. Which was important to us because we don't have one! Anyway, this recipe is one of my new favorites because you cook the whole meal with one recipe, prep was a breeze and cook time was an whole whopping eight minutes! What more could you ask for really?!

Recipe Adapted From Everyday Food, June 2011

What you'll need:
1/2 Lb Small New Potatoes*
2 Small Ears Corn (Cut into 1 1/2 inch rounds)
1/2 Lb Andouille Sausage (Cut into 1 inch rounds)
1/2 Lb Large Shrimp (Peeled and deveined)
1/2 Stick Butter (Melted)
3 Teaspoons Tabasco**
3 Teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning**

*I used purple passion potatoes because that's what I had in the pantry and I'm trying to weed out anything that will go bad while we are on vacation... I love purple passions so I thought they were delish!
**You can alter this 1:1 ratio depending on how spicy you want yours to be!

What you'll get: This makes 4 skewers... enough for two people

What you'll do:

(1) Start by boiling the potatoes in salted water over medium/high heat for 12-15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Drain and rinse under cold water.
*Shout out to my Mom-In-Law for this little jewel of a stocking stuffer, the easy strainer! She probably had no clue how much we would LOVE this thing... It makes draining soooo easy (I'm notorious for accidentally dumping everything into the sink!) Unfortunately I'm not sure where she got it, but if you ever run across one - BUY IT! You'll be amazed how often you use the thing!

(2) Thread potatoes, corn, andouille and shrimp onto skewers.

(3)Heat grill to medium/high heat. (It's probably best to lightly oil the grill before heating it, we didn't and it didn't cause us any problems.)

(4) In a small bowl, combine the butter, Tabasco and Old Bay.

(5) Grill kebabs turning and brushing with butter mixture occasionally until the shrimp are cooked through and corn is starting to char. (8 minutes-ish)

If my dad had been here we would have wanted lemon wedges and I agree, it'd be a nice touch, but we didn't have any in the fridge so we went without... and it was still yummy!

We eat Uncle Ben's Ready Rice ALL THE TIME because it's so stinkin' easy and absolutely positively delicious!! Literally you crack open the bag just a little bit and microwave for 90 seconds and TADA!!  Yummy rice! Plus it comes in lots of different flavors so you can change it up depending on what you are paring it with. We chose Long Grain & Wild this time because, well, it's my favorite and I was the one picking! 

Be Blessed,

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

I've spent the entire day cleaning our house. Cleaning is a rather mindless activity, so my brain was free to think about lots of things. I made mental to-do lists, I stressed a little about our rapidly approaching vacation, and I thought about what I wanted to say in this post... After lots and lots of relatively uninterrupted thought I came to this simple conclusion:

Mothers must be the most under-appreciated group of people ever.
You can double the "under-appreciated" part if you are a really good mother
because your kids don't know how good they've got it.

I bet that wasn't where you thought I was going, was it? 

But I'm serious... Our mothers "mother" us every. single. day. Yet, we dedicate one itty-bitty-teeny-weeny day to showing them our appreciation. On top of that, it's a holiday much like Valentine's Day - everybody buys flowers, a card and and checks it off their list... If it's convenient, they might even buy lunch. Kind of depressing, huh?

Maybe I'm just feeling guilty because this year I won't be going home for Mother's Day. My dad won't pick me a vibrant red rose to pin on my dress, a southern tradition to signify that my mom is still alive.  I won't sit next to mom at church on Sunday. I won't help her set the table before a fabulous feast is served. I won't deliver a perfectly wrapped present and an extra card to cover for Zac, so it's likely she won't have any presents to open. I won't lay on the couch with my head in her lap while we talk about anything and everything. We won't walk around the yard discussing what flowers she will send me home with to add to my beds. 

"Guilty" isn't the correct word to describe my feeling, the true description would look much more like disappointed, or sad. I would feel guilty if I thought mom would be sitting around by herself all day, but she won't - she'll be up early to make flower arrangements for church, she'll teach ten or fifteen kiddos during children's church so that their mothers can enjoy the service, she'll hustle home to put the finishing touches on the amazing meal she will serve at lunch for my grandmothers, then, the odds are good that she'll clean it all up. 

Don't get me wrong - she'll be happy! My brother will be home, plus, she loves fixing the flowers and those crazy little kids will make her laugh multiple times in the hour she spends with them. She will happily provide a tasty lunch but I'd be lying if I said she enjoyed doing dishes. I mean, let's get serious, nobody likes the cleaning up part. 

Where am I going with this, you ask? Well, the point is this: 

MY mother may be the single most selfless woman I know and I don't ever, ever, ever want her to think 
that a day goes by when I don't hugely appreciate her.

My mom is a giver, in every aspect of the word. Her generosity is not limited to any one particular area - she gives her time, her possessions, her attention, her talents... the list goes on and on and on, she holds nothing back to keep for herself.

My mom always puts others first. Whether the "others" is me or Zac or my dad or a complete stranger, Mom never hesitates. Even if it means slaving away in the kitchen in order to present a gigantic lunch on Mother's Day.

My mom taught me that people will always appreciate my time the most. My friends joke that I'm the Queen of handwritten notes, but they are wrong. My mother is the Queen, I'm merely the apprentice. For as long as I can remember she's pushed me to send a handwritten card regardless of the occasion - thank you, congratulations, get well, miss you, or just because. She always says, "You would not believe how much a little note means to some people. It costs you virtually nothing - the cost of a stamp and a small card, but the fact that you give your time and effort make a little card priceless."

My mom sacrificed for my wedding. She sacrificed her time, her energy, her talents. Mom started a savings account when I went to college and every two weeks for YEARS she would put in a little money. She did this so that whenever it was time to plan our wedding, I would be able to have the wedding of my dreams. Even on the day itself she worked frantically behind the scenes and missed a huge portion of the reception to make sure everything was perfect. 

My mom led by example. I've grown up watching my mom take care of people. It's the thing I am most proud of her for. So many of us, myself included, walk around in our own little world caught up in the hectic chaos that is life, but not my mom. My mother has the gift of seeing people's needs. She is able to do this because she is always listening to others' stories, always watching for opportunities to give, always paying attention to everyone in the room, especially the people that might not be the center of attention. Now, DO NOT GET ME WRONG. My mother does not do anything out of sympathy, she does not befriend someone because she feels sorry for them... Her actions are done simply out of love. 

My mom speaks words of wisdom. I can't count the number of times my mom has given me the perfect advice - regardless of the topic. 

My mom passes out her time without thinking twice. If you've gotten married or had a baby in the past twenty years, chances are my mom helped plan your shower. If you've had a family member pass away, I would bet money my mom sent some delicious dish to your home. And those examples are the easy ones. When my brother's best friend's dad was diagnosed with cancer, my mom cooked for their family of five at least once a week for months. When the Math Facts volunteers at the elementary school quit, my mom signed herself up (as well as my grandmother and their dear friend, Phyllis) to help keep the Math program in place, as she knew Math was a subject our school system typically did not score so high on. That was almost twenty years ago, and even now, on Tuesday morning you'll find my Mom in the teacher's lounge grading away.

My mom gives when nobody is watching. I can't tell you the number of times, I've caught my mother secretly doing something kind or generous. We share on-line banking, it's not that hard for me to bust her. Most of the time she doesn't know that I know, but on the rare occasion that she has had to tell me for some reason or another, I've been forced into sworn secrecy. My mom gives for the right reasons.

My mom makes my dad look good, and lets him have every bit of the credit. My dad delivers a big apple pie to my Great-Uncle Bobby every year on his birthday. Dad grins from ear to ear and Uncle Bobby is so happy... Next time you see my dad, ask him what month Uncle Bobby's birthday takes place on. He doesn't have a clue! Mom is like his personal walking, talking reminder of all things important - birthdays, events, somebody is sick, the list goes on and on. And after dad swoops in and says or does the perfect thing, mom just sits back and let's him get the pat on the back. (NOTE: He knows this and always gives her credit as best he can. Dad will be the first to tell you that Mom makes him better.)

My mom spoils us. It's not just me, she spoils Zac and Brandon too! Every single time we come home we find a present on our bed. A new dress or something with a crown... Honestly, as much as I LOVE presents, the part I most enjoy is that even though I don't see her every day or even every few weeks or months,  I know she is always keeping an eye out for something I would like. She is pretty much my personal stylist... As for Zac, he gets desserts - for his birthday last year she took him strawberry cake, pumpkin roll, cherry cheesecake and apple pie. She said she knew he liked them all and didn't know which one he'd prefer, so she wouldn't risk getting it wrong on his birthday.  

My mom has always been "Mom" to all of our friends. My brother's friends call her Mama. My friends call her Momma Shawna. Anybody that's ever tasted her cookies, attempts to claim her as their own. Before every basketball game (mine or Zac's) mom cooked a huge meal for everyone. On away games, we loaded the bus with giant tupperware full of cookies. When she packed my lunch there was always two or three of everything, because she wanted to make sure that I had enough to share. But her mothering isn't limited to her cooking - she shares her wisdom, she covers her "kids" in prayer, she helps with resumes, she sends my cousins flowers at school, she is much more up-to-date on my friends' lives than even I am! She loves each and every one of them as if they were her own.

My mom has always been my best friend. There was never a stage in my life that I didn't want to be around her. She is witty and smart and so incredibly wise. It's not just my dad, she makes me better too. She has shown me what a loving wife looks like. She has taught me life lessons by just talking to me like an adult, not a child. She has always, always led by example and when, on the rare occasion, she messed something up she didn't make excuses. She swallowed her pride and admitted her mistakes so that I wouldn't make the same ones. She insisted I play piano and she was right, gymnastics and basketball came to an end and I wish I could play the piano better. She always made me use my best manners. She pushed me to be brave and adventurous and independent - qualities that have helped me avoid many of the peer pressures of life. She has spent hours and hours and hours praying over me - over my decisions, over my tests in college, over my love life, over things that were so unimportant to the rest of the world, but were big to me. 

On the day of my wedding, it was time for me to get in the dress. It was finally mom's turn for hair and makeup (she'd let everyone else go first), but when she saw that I was going to get dressed, she told the hair/makeup ladies they would have to wait, she wanted to help me. I had bridesmaids who could have done it, but mom insisted that it was a job she had prepared for my whole life. Just like she had done hundreds of times, she put a dress over my head. Just like she had done thousands of times, she zipped me up. And just like when I was a child she got down on her knees to fasten my shoes. As always, mom sacrificed her time of getting herself ready in order to make sure I was taken care of. The picture above is one of my favorites from our wedding, and it is a perfect example of the type of mom she has been for me. As long as I live, I will never outgrown my need for my Momma.

When questioned on which commandment was the most important, Jesus replied "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is this, Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39 How blessed am I that I have had the opportunity to watch my mother live out these commandments daily?!

So, for all the times I failed to say thank you, 
thank you Mom. 

Thank you for being such an amazing example of Christ's love to me and everyone else that you come into contact with. Thank you for covering my life in prayer. Thank you for loving daddy, even when it means working on the computer for him or staying the night at the lake when you have things to do at home. Thank you for always proofing my papers. Thank you for staying up extra late to talk to me on the phone so that I wouldn't fall asleep while driving. Thank you for loving Brandon. Thank you for always watching Rylee while we are out of town. Thank you for helping me convince Dad that we "needed" all those different things for the wedding - carriage, gigantic arch, pews, candlesticks... Thank you for working tirelessly to make my wedding day better than I could have ever imagined. Thank you for always being on standby when I go to the grocery store - there are so many things I would've spent hours looking for if you hadn't answered your phone. Thank you for going to Bible study on your one free day. Thank you for being patient with Zac, Lord knows it is difficult at times! Thank you for being so funny - you always make me laugh. Thank you for tubing with me even though you were scared. Thank you for sewing all those curtains for my first house. Thank you for teaching children's church and ensuring that another generation will know the songs and stories of Jesus. Thank you for teaching me to kill people with kindness and to not hold a grudge, even though it can be so difficult sometimes. Thank you for being a cool mom - always providing snacks, always watching ESPN and always makes everyone feel welcome. 

Thank you Mom. 
I'm sorry I don't tell you more often.

You, above all others, deserves to hear it the most. I love you and hope that someday I'm half the mom you are.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A New Adventure - BACK to the Law School

Well, obviously I've got lots to fill you in on this week. Like I said yesterday, I apologize for not being able to write last week but I was crazy busy and slightly overwhelmed by my new job! After much prayer, I decided to leave the OU Athletic Department and take a position at the OU College of Law.

The new office...

For starters, this has been a wonderful transition although, I must admit, it was incredibly hard to leave the ol' Sooner Club. My time with the Athletic Department was absolutely wonderful. It was a great "first job," but much more importantly, I made some friendships that I feel confident will be life-long. 

My co-workers were so ridiculously good to me. They welcomed me with absolute open arms from day one. They were kind, they were patient, and they were so, so, sooo much fun! It was an easy fit. 

This was taken on my first week of work for OUAD... Flag football at work, doesn't beat that!

So you are thinking, if your last job was so amazing, why in the world would you leave? Well, it's a good question. One I spent a really long time debating. Finding a job where your co-workers are your friends is very rare, I know that, but at the same time, I needed a little room to grow. I had extended my position as far as I could, it was time for a new challenge. 

I am a true believer that God shows you His perfect plan, you just have to ask for it and then listen. So when I found out about an opening at the Law School, I paid attention. I had literally started praying about what to do as far as my next career move a week before the Law School position somewhat fell in my lap. Brandon and I sat in our closet floor (for some reason, we have our best heart to hearts in the closet floor... no distractions I guess) and discussed our options. We prayed. The answer seemed obvious - the timing couldn't have been better. 

So with truly bittersweet emotions, I spoke with my boss, Matt, about the fact that I was considering the Law School position. He instantly broke into a smile and told me he had been trying how to figure out how to encourage me to apply for the job, without making me feel as though he was trying to kick me to the curb! Sometimes God even gives you confirmation that you are doing the right thing... I am so grateful for that! 

Sooner Club gang threw me a surprise wedding shower!

The next week or so was an absolute whirlwind - lots of work on the ol' resume, two interviews and a few phone calls later, I was hired as the new Director of Development and Alumni Relations for the University of Oklahoma College of Law. I broke the news to my office and we did are best to schedule in as many lunch dates as possible before my May 1st departure. 

When Day #1 on the new job arrived, I hit the ground running! I have much greater responsibilities in my new position. Virtually anything that touches alumni, I'm in on. The College's development office has taken some big strides in the last year by starting an annual giving program which I will now head up. Plus lots and lots of events that I will be either hosting or attending as the College's representative. It's going to be great fun and a wonderful opportunity to learn a new side of fundraising.

So, as of right now I'm strictly trying to keep my head above water... and I'm shopping for a few more cute suits! My NEW co-workers have also been incredibly kind and I am truly looking forward to this new adventure! Please pray for me as I adjust to a whole new ball game. 

Have you ever prayed for direction and God laid it all out in front of you? Did He take the path that you expected? Did it all end differently than you had planned? What did you learn along the way? I'd love to hear your stories...

Be Blessed!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Recipe Monday: Creamy Ranch Pork Chops

Remember me?! I'm that girl that asked for your advice on how to make my blog better and then after you gave tons of wonderful feedback... I disappeared for a week!! Nice, right? Everyone is at home wishing that instead of sending me sweet messages, they had sent more direct instructions on how to make my blog better, like "WRITE something, anything!!

Well, sorry about my absence folks... I'm full of surprisingly legitimate excuses this time such as:
I started a new job last week! 
(And I have been absolutely, positively slammed ever since!! More on that tomorrow.)

And there were other pretty decent excuses like, for some reason I have this overwhelming fear that my precious little white MacBook is about to crash and burn, therefore I have spent endless hours in the last couple of weeks backing everything up onto a portable hard drive. I don't really have a good reason for why I feel that the big crash is coming except that I was talking to an IT guy the other day and we were discussing my computer and he randomly asked me what color it was and when I said "white" he started snickering. 

Apparently they don't make white anymore... and by "anymore" I mean, Apple hasn't made a white laptop in the last 3-5 years. Who knew?! And now I'm paranoid, thanks IT guy. (That was partially sarcastic and partially sincere because I probably really did need to back everything up for quite some time but was too lazy until the death of my beloved white laptop felt a little more imminent.)

Aaaaand, the last (and definitely lamest) excuse, but one that I've been using to calm my inner panic about not blogging all week - I'm using any free time I have to try to get a little grasp on Austria and Switzerland before hopping on a big plane in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS!! Consider last week's absence like a practice round for the two weeks I'll be vacationing... Please don't ditch me, I promise I'll come back! (Pending any crazy mass murderers preying on cute backpacking/hosteling couples... Just kidding mom! Sort of.)

Now on to what you're actually here to read... 


Ever since Brandon went to the a-mazing Crest Foods meat sale and bought EIGHTEEN pork chops, I've been searching high and low for some yummy pork recipes. I've personally never been a huge fan of pork chops - they always seemed a little dry and bland - but you send your husband to the grocery story by himself one time and you'll be learning to love pork chops in no time! Because let's face it, my freezer is full and somebody has to eat them. 

Well, I came across this delicious recipe and I have made it twice in the last few weeks! It is ridiculously easy to make (we're talking crock pot here) and the pork chops are surprisingly juicy and full of flavor! Let's get started, shall we?

Recipe Adapted From: Six Sisters' Stuff

What you'll need:
4-6 Pork Chops
6-8 Medium Potatoes Cut into Sections*
2 Cans Cream of Chicken Soup
2 Packages Dry Ranch Mix
1 Cup Milk

*I used medium sized potatoes the first time and they were still a little hard after cooking for 7 hours, so the second time I tried the Tasteful Selections bag of Sunset Fingerlings and they were really good!! Plus it added a little color, so they even looked better! If you can't get your hands on this particular kind, I'd try new potatoes.

What you'll do:

First things first, I always put a Slow Cooker Liner in my crock pot! These little gems are wonderful! #1. They are cheap, otherwise I wouldn't use them. #2. They make clean up an absolute breeze!! You just pick up the entire bag and chunk it... Nothing sticky to soak or scrub. A-mazing.

Now enough with the infomercial, moving on:

(1) Fill the bottom of the crock pot with your potatoes. If you don't use the sweet liners, spray your crock pot with a little Pam first.

(2) Stick your pork chops on top.

(3) Mix together the milk, cream of chicken soup and Ranch mix.

(4) Pour it on top, stick the lid on it and cook for 6-7 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH. I stir it occasionally so that you make sure everything gets soaked!

(5) When you serve, pour the extra sauce over it like gravy! I didn't get a final product picture, sorry!

There you go - a surprisingly moist and flavorful pork chop recipe that comes with one side of potatoes ready to roll!! And the best part - it's easy as pie! (Why does that saying exist? Pie is not that easy...) 

Hope you all give this one a try - it's quickly become one of our new favorites! Thanks for hanging in there with me last week, hopefully I'll be a little more settled in this week and have  some more time to write because I have lots of exciting things to tell you!

If you have a favorite pork chop recipe, please share (as I have about 15 packages left in the freezer!!)

Be Blessed!