Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sneak Peak of My New Place...

Honestly, moving is exhausting.  I still have not recovered and we did the actual move on Saturday!  Sorry these pictures are sort of out of focus, I just snapped a few quick ones on my phone so you could get a little teaser of how it is coming together!  We are really excited and should be at 100% this weekend!

Bill came over on Saturday morning and brought us these lovely flowers and a sweet little card.  That boy was such a stud this weekend and did everything in his power to make sure our move went as smoothe as possible.  I love these yellows and oranges :)  Very summer and very happy!

This is my little corner of the world!  I love my bedside table which is newly painted (and was donated by Bill's aunt Gayle).  Something about the orange really does it for me.  There is a pictures of me and bill, a map of Baltimore, and a canvas my sweet little sister Joy made me for Christmas.  That Tiffany lamp is broken in 2 places, but it will never leave me.  Everytime I look at it I smile.  The base of the lamp was my grandpa's and I always think of him when clicking on and off the light.  This part of our apartment will always be dear to me.  It reminds me of people I love and places I miss.

Oh how much I love these little canvases.  They could not bring my heart mror joy!  Again, this picture is fuzzy, but the little pear and these little canvases add a little color to our lives and make both Mikaela and I so happy just to be cooking!

Sorry that is all I have for you today!  Don't worry, once everything is set up you will get more pictures and more details.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Plea to be Sincere and Genuine

There is no “Road to Happiness,” and I find it infuriating that people are always saying…”When I get this” or “when I do that”… “then I will be happy.”  I wish everyone knew that there is no key to happiness (outside of faith, which invites a whole host of other things to tackle).  I want to start by explaining my rather extreme opinion… anything can be conquered.  SO many people claim unhappiness, but I think happiness and unhappiness are equal decisions.  Contentment can be found in sickness or in health and for richer or for poorer.  No one deserves anything.  I am tired of hearing people say that they are not getting what they deserve.  What we NEED versus what we WANT has become a gray area. 

I am just as guilty as anyone else, but I never want to be the rich man who wouldn’t give up his possessions to follow Christ.  Our “stuff” must be meaningless to us.  It can make us smile and bring us back, but it should never be more important than the people in our lives.  This post is tough for me, because it is such an important topic.  Simple living is not something that is good for some people and not good for others, it is Biblically based and something more people need to take into consideration.  There is a HUGE difference between being comfortable and being wasteful.  

My heart hurts for people who do not enjoy meaningful conversation and quality time.  Why just co-exist when we can dig deeper?  When you ask someone how they are, listen to their response.  Don’t just do so out of courtesy.  In fact, do nothing out of courtesy.  Do everything with sincerity and be genuine to a fault.  If you live every moment with honesty at the forefront, you will never have to deal with damage control.  I pray that you find this fire deep within yourself.  God willing, you pour out your heart to those closest to you and get into what causes you to be the way you are.  We all have things to discover and unwrap.  I hope you make it your mission to find yours.  It is never easy nor does it happen overnight.  But know that I, honestly, believe in you.       

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Hope To Be Contagiously Wonderful...

Whenever I see a painting like this I try to remember how important it is to have my own style.  While I do have my own specific methods, it is absolutely difficult for me to have an idea in my mind that is 100% original.  This painting is a couple walking in the rain, yet it brightens your mood.  Generally I find inclement weather paintings to be dreary and calming (in a good way).  However, this one finds a way to be an upper and gives me energy from first glance because of the colors and general composition!

I can only hope someone would see something I created and think similar thoughts.  I hope someone will be blown away by something I created – although, I guess the point is to just create for me.  If it makes me smile it is worth it!  Maybe I should shift my desire to please others in all areas f my life, but then I wouldn’t be me.  So… I guess the lesson I am learning as I type this, is that everything comes back to my genetic predisposition to make everyone around me happy.  I just want to effect others.

You know what I mean… there are those people that are contagiously wonderful.  Their tea tastes better, their hugs are what you need, and they are the best listeners you know.  They always have an open door and they love to be available to you at the drop of a hat.  A few names come to mind for those people in my life.  I hope Bill and I are viewed as that couple and I hope I am viewed as that kind of woman.  How did this bright painting bring me here?  It energized me and got my mind going!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Food I Ate Friday - The Bruery

The Bruery is a lovely little establishment in the Orange circle - or as the older generation calls it - the Plaza.  Bill and a few of his fantastic cousins and I went here on Saturday evening and were pleasantly surprised with this little joint.  They had wonderful presentation of the beers in small belgian style glasses on wooden racks to hold a sampler of five.  It smells fresh and is really open.  The prices range from $3-$8 for a flight and each one is different and unique moving from lighter to darker beers.

I know this is called "Food I Ate Friday," but I guess today should be "Stuff I Drank Friday" because the only thing I had here was a tiny $2 bowl of black and green olives.  However, I wanted to give this place recognition.  They really have something special going on, but it is hard to put your finger on.  It is just relaxing.  The beers and wine selection are both great and the descriptions for each beer on the menu are long and give you a really good background.  You can take most of what you taste to-go, and there are tons of things not available to taste you can take with you as well.

What a joy this place was, and with wonderful company.  If you like good beer and ambiance bring a few friends here, split some cheese and taste some fantastic brews!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Love Sunflowers

I don't have a lot to say today, except that I love sunflowers.  I know this sunflower is a bit outrageous, but when I saw it from across the lovely home goods store, I had to run over and embrace it.  It made me so happy and brightened my day.  The huge smile on my face is not just for your sake!

I think it is extremely important to get excited about little things in life.  So, while this post may seem silly and even a little boring, I want to challenge you this coming weekend to do something just because it makes you smile.  Whatever your giant sunflower is, walk across the store and take a picture with it (figuratively speaking of course)!  

What flower do you love?  and What silly little thing made you smile this week?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Want to Hear Your Story.

I find something wonderfully therapeutic about writing memoirs.  I have entered a few memoir competitions (and haven't won YET - but don't worry you will find out when I do!), and been journaling and writing for years and years.  I do not think it is something in some personalities and not in others, I think it is a decision to get in touch with the emotion of an event that still effects you; whether that effect is negative or positive.

I would encourage everyone to write out and try to verbalize their emotions on paper when it comes to hurtful or life altering events.  It is healthy and motivating and something more people should do.  I wish there was a job that encouraged people to get in touch with what is doing on inside of them - with the exception of a psychiatrist.  I just want people to understand their worth.  I want them to know that they are amazing and that their stories matter.

What is your story?  Email me your memoirs.  It is a dream to publish a book of my own memoirs, and I have started a list of stories to include.  Honestly, everyone has stories to tell.  I want to hear yours.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Orange You Glad?

I love Etsy.  

Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers.
Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice.

Buy, Sell, and live handmade.

If you have never spent any time on the website, peek around it.  It has tons of wonderful handmade things, and even if that doesn't sound like your cup of tea - you would be surprised what people can make with their bare hands!  

I have been really into orange lately.  Maybe it is the summer and maybe it is the fact that the color lightens my heart a little.  Either way, I painted a dresser orange yesterday and I found this collection of items on Etsy that are all orange as well.  

Hope you love them as much as I do!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Here's to the Strange, the Fun, and the Smiles that they Bring...

Bill and I went curling for our birthday a few months ago, and when we did we realized that there are hundreds and thousands of people across the country and the world that are really into curling.  They have brooms, special shoes, and a specific technique to "pebble" the ice so people don't fall.  There a ton of little intricacies in so many facets to learn about this game.  That is always the case with all activities.  Avid people know all the details.  These people go every week and are in leagues and are professional curlers.  Have you ever gone curling?  Isn't it so random!  

There are a million sports and activities like that.  I want to highlight a few today, and try to remember how much joy they bring into different people's lives.  We were all created differently, and God has given each person something to bring a smile to our face.  

While I have no desire to collect autographs, there are millions of people who will buy autographs off people and have enormous collections of signatures laminated and posted all over the walls.  They can't wait to meet celebrities and rockstars and have evidence of that.  Their fascination with other peoples lives fascinates me.

Croquet is so fun!... And people are SOO into it.  There are tournaments and leagues and people who make it there biggest hobby in their spare time.  This game is good old fashioned fun and is so gender and family friendly.  I love something you can do in your own backyard!  

Maple Syrup tasting is a huge deal in some places.  I can only imagine it being similar to one of those infused balsamic and infused olive oil stores where you walk around a get the sample cups and taste a dab of oil or mustard or balsamic.  They each have their own taste and method and people love these events and plan their years around them!

War re-enactors are not something have come into contact with very much, although I did visit colonial Williamsburg and many a battle field with my dad growing up.  Many individuals enjoying re-living these pivotal moments in history in their free time and will do so every weekend as a hobby or a source of income.  A lot goes into these productions and it makes me happy to know that a man could really find this so enjoyable he wants to continue to do it over and over so others can understand the course of history.

In my opinion, I saved the best for last! I love love love Chinese checkers, but I can never find anyone who wants to play :(  It is so well designed and makes me so happy with the colors and the fact that you can talk the whole time you play.  I just enjoy this game, and I know there are millions of people out there who also do.  

What is your crazy hobby?  or Do you know something who has a crazy hobby? 
Tell me about it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Food I Ate Friday - How to Pick a Crab

One of favorite things to do in Maryland is a crab feast.  If you are not from Maryland, you don't know what's up with crab feasts.  You may think you do, but honestly it's a Maryland thing.  I will talk you through it in pictures here, but you really need the ice cold beer, old bay all over your hands, and piles of crabs on the table in front of you.  I pray you each can experience this at some point in your life :)

This piece of the crab is called the "key" by most.  Sometimes you need a knife to get under it, but you want to get under it and pull it towards you.

As you pull it towards you you will start to feel a little resistance.

Break through that resistance and use the momentum to break into the other half of the crab as you pull all the shell off the top.

It will look like this when the shell is off.

This is the part no one likes (as you can tell by Bill's facial expression), but you must clean out the crab.  Pull out the guts, the gils, and all the tentacles.

Next you will want to pull off one leg at a time.  Pull them carefully out at the base and try to pull a nice chunk of meat out.  If you miss it, no big deal, you will get it when you get into the bod meat.  Alot of people skip the little legs, but they have sweeter meat in the skinny legs.  

The bigger claws need to be broken into and the meat pulled out.  Once those are off you just have the body left! Break it in half and get in each little compartment.  Again, people have different methods for this part.  I like to eat a little as I go, but bank most of it and have nice little piles of crabmeat.  Some eat all as they go... it depends on what you like!

Here is my pile of fresh picked crabmeat, my mallet for breaking into the claws, and the vinegar and old bay dipping sauce.  It is something you really need to experience.  I cannot possibly explain the deliciousness in words.

And now, for other Crab Feast Pictures :)

Faith taking care of business...

My Pop-Pop picking crabs for my Grammy :)

Daddy with beers and crabs and a serious look...

You can see the boat and the pier in the background of this one!  Ryan and Bill loving the much anticipated crab feast!

Joytown and Billtown bonding town...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

C & C

Christian and Cristina... I love them dearly.  This is my twin and his wife.  Bill and I got to spend a lot of time with them while we were in Maryland and it was great to sit and talk and be the adults we are growing into.  Hearing about Christian's new job and being around for Cristina's promotion made me wish I could be there for more of the big moments in their lives.  

Cristina has become such a good friend of mine.  She makes me laugh and gets excited about hilarious things - like funnel cake and puppies and babies and more than anything, weddings!  She has a contagious energy, and when she is in a good mood everyone around her knows and feels it.  She really tries to meet me where I am with no judgement. I love spending time with her and I wish I could do so more often.  She makes me laugh and cries with me and is such a wonderful addition to the Wecker clan.  

I love you Cristina!

Christian's wisdom is undeniable.  His span of knowledge amazes people on a consistent basis.  His listening skills amaze me and he always really hears what I am trying to say and responds with great advice.  I love that he is genuine.  His sense of humor is phenomenal.  He cares so much and wants people to feel comfortable.  We do share a twin bond that is hard to explain, but I sincerely love just being around him.  I am so proud to not just call him my brother, but to also be able to call him my womb-ie.

I miss you all the time Christian.  You inspire me.

Thank you guys for letting us stay with on our trip and for opening your home to us.  Thanks for making an effort to get to know Bill better and for being patient with our crazy schedule.  

Love you both :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Leaders of the Pack...

There is no better example of selfless love than my parents.  They have made me the person that I am.  Both my mother and my father pursue God with their hearts and heads and life.  They taught me to lay down my wants to meet everyone else’s needs, as best I can.  The way they love each other is forgiving and understanding, while being honest and challenging.  I have learned so much from them over the years and continue to learn more everyday – from a distance and when I have the honor of being in their presence.

They have taught me every fruit of the spirit in different ways – love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Giving beyond measure, stretching to the point of exhaustion, and doing whatever it takes to ensure those you love are safe and fed are things they have instilled deeply in my soul.   They are the leaders of our family and they take the time to really understand each of us.  I am constantly amazed by the way they love us individually and treat us as separate unique adults.  They have taught us about raising children and about sacrificing all we have for those children.  It is truly amazing to really comprehend what they have done for all five siblings.

Mom and Dad, Thank you.  Thank you for selflessly loving me.  Thank you for always giving me the benefit of the doubt.  Thank you for understanding that I need to be here now, and that this is what God has for me at this point in my life.  Thank you for teaching me by example and for exercising patience with me during my adolescence.  Thank you for loving each other so me and the rest of the siblings would have an example of marriage that lasted through thick and thin.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fells Point and Federal Hill

In honor of my trip last week, this week is all things Maryland!  Fells Point and Federal Hill are two areas in the city of Baltimore that I love.  Pictured above is Fells Point and pictured below is Federal Hill.  They are full on wonderful book stores, home decor places, coffee shops, and little mom and pop restaurants and bars.  The people say “hon” and pronounce things in little nuances that you would never notice if you didn’t grow up around it.  They serve soft serve ice cream and there are Baltimore orioles t-shirts everywhere you glance.  People aren't trying so hard.

The bustle about the streets and the humidity causing beads of sweat to run down my back honestly do make me feel at home.  The cool breeze coming off the water takes the edge off and the smell of old bay and vinegar wafts through the air. I love it.  I breathe it all in slowly, realizing it is different in the winter time when I go home for Christmas.  The city takes on a different look, and it is bitterly cold. 

As I walked around, I missed it all for the first time since I had moved away 3 1/2 years ago.  I wanted to stay longer.  I always miss my family, but this was the first time I found myself missing the city as a whole.  I miss my old places, and I want to discover new ones.  I loved introducing Bill to little places and things, but there was so much I did not get to show him.  These two neighborhood reminded me of my love for Maryland, not just the people who live in and around Maryland that I care about.  I love that city and I love things that Maryland represents to me. 

Cheers to everyone I saw, even if just for a moment.  I miss you all and love you dearly. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

What's In a Name?

I am a girl named Ryan…
I am sure many of you know why, but for those who do not know me as well, let me explain... 

First of all, I have a twin brother.  I am sure 98% of people are aware of that fact, but we are separated by 3000 miles, so it is possible that someone may not be in the know.  His name is Christian.  He is awesome.  I will be writing all about him and his wife later in the week.

Aside from the fact that my mom always wanted a girl named Ryan, it also goes hand in hand with having my brother’s name be what it is.  Had we both been girls neither of us would have been named Ryan and if we had both been boys neither of us would have been named Christian.  It was about the combination of our names for my parents.  Ryan for a girl means “Passion.”  The obvious inclination of Christian’s name begs the question of what was intended with the dual name meanings.  My parents wanted us to have a Passion for Christ and named us accordingly.  I can say with assuredness we both passionately love Christ and are working to grasp who He is daily.

Being a girl named Ryan growing up, was never easy.  Christian and I had our names switched in the yearbook at a young age, and I constantly needed someone to back me up to verify that, in fact, my name was really what i claimed it was.  Adults and children alike teased me and gave me a hard time. 

However, as I grow into adulthood and learn the significance my name carries, it reminds me of Biblical times when peoples name held deep meaning and brought them into the rest of their life story.  They always exhibited the intention of their name, and I pray to fulfill the desire my parent’s had for the intention of mine.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Old Food I Ate Friday Posts

I am going to start posting Food I Ate Friday's on the main page, but in rememberance of everything that was on that tab, here is it all!

I know that it seems like I am excited about everything - art, books, people, love, life, and photography; but nothing holds a candle to my excitement about food (maybe too bold a statement, but it was for dramatic effect) – also, I AM excited about everything. 

I am a declared foodie and I have no shame.   I love going out to eat and trying new things, I love sharing food and experiencing a bunch of flavors and dishes at one place, and I really love a unique concept in the restaurant industry.  Every Friday I will post about Food – My goal is to get comfortable doing restaurant reviews, recipe posts (that’s right I cook too), and general posts about food depending on the flavor of the week (literally). 

This Page (like everything else on my blog), will get me more comfortable with my inclination for writing and also organize my passions into one wonderful place that I only hope others love even a fraction as much as me. 

May 20th, 2011 - Bruxie

I cannot begin to describe the unbelievable experience that this restaurant is.  I had my doubts...A waffle sandwich sounds simple enough... just take a Belgian waffle and use it as the bread.  However, I guarantee you it would not turn out even close to as good if you attempted this on your own.
The waffles are light and perfectly toasted - they are not too sweet and are amazingly light, while being filling.  The ingredients are fresh and a perfect combination of flavors and colors.  They have 2 menus - Savory and Sweet.  I tried some of everyone's at the table, and I have no complaints.  I can attest to the deliciousness of the Wild Mushroom and Argulua and Lemon Cream and Berries.  However, it was the Buttermilk Friend Chicken and Waffle that stole a piece of my heart.  The flavor was incredible and made me want to go back the very next day.  I love that the mood you are in can match the food that you get.

I plan on trying them all - I'm thinking the Bruxie Burger will be next!
Bruxie is right across the street from Chapman University in Orange, CA.  Do not miss out on this one.  Stop by and check it out for yourself - you will find it by the line wrapped around the building. 

May 13th, 2011 - 3 Heart Tarts

On Mother’s Day I spent time with my boyfriend and his family, which always makes me smile.  Time with them is wonderful, and good food is a common denominator.  I am instantly greeted with a hug and have a drink in my hand in a moments time.  We laugh and talk and catch up and genuinely enjoy each other’s company, and this past Sunday was no exception.  We sat outside, wrapped in blankets, and drank port out of wonderful little port sippers while closing out the evening.  As I looked around I realized how much I appreciate them all.  God has really blessed me with this West Coast family.

I could not handle the cold any more (I know I’m from the East Coast and there is no excuse for that!), and I went into the kitchen where a few other people had gathered.  We began talking inside, still wrapped in blankets, and someone pulled out a piece of a tart Bill’s aunt had made.  Someone asked me if I wanted a bite, so of course I said yes, but I was not ready for the deliciousness I was about to experience. 

The Lemon Marmalade 3 Heart Tart was the perfect balance of shortbread on the bottom, and sweet delicious lemon filling with a crumbly top.  For a minute I could think of nothing but how amazing it was.  I know it sounds like I am being dramatic, but I am still thinking about it and its six days later!  It melted in my mouth and was not too sweet or too tart.  Gosh, it was tart perfection! 

9 inch – $20.00
6 inch – $9.00
Tin of 8 Baby 3 inch Tarts – $19.95 (Choose any 2 flavors)


I would not hesitate to order one for yourself!  My roommates birthday is coming up and we are going to try blackberry or spicy peach chardonnay.  I will probably be getting tarts for any event that I can think of (I may even make up events for an excuse to get one)… and I hope you do too!

While you are at it, check out Gayle’s other project Shoppe at Gwedonlyne’s.  I highly recommend the preserves!

May 6th, 2011 - Chicken and Tortellini Soup

I love Soup.  While this may seem like a simple recipe that is not impressive or creative, everyone has to start somewhere.  I am excited to grow in confidence and branch out in my culinary abilities, but for right now I'm excited to have made this soup, loved it, and felt warm to my toes because of it.

4 Carrots cut into Bite sized Pieces
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
8 ounces cheese tortellini
1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
Kosher Salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1. In a large saucepan, simmer the carrots in the broth until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Add the tortellini and simmer until tender, 2 to 4 minutes.
3. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes more; season with ¼ teaspoon salt and sprinkle with the parsley.

Find this Recipe at Real Simple!

April 29th, 2011 - Maryland Crabcakes

Being from Maryland and living in California makes me miss Maryland Crab and seafood somethin’ fierce ;)  This Christmas, I gave my boyfriends family a Christmas present of a Maryland style dinner, and I think we more than achieved that!  Maryland Crabcakes are something that are near and dear to my heart, and this is my mom’s recipe!  I steamed corn on the cob and we had sweet potato fries and a lemon, garlic, cayenne aioli as the dipping sauce for those.  We paired a Dark and Stormy with everything (although Maryland Friends would probably drink a giant beer) and sat outside past the sun set.  I hope they can all get the full Maryland Experience and have a crab feast with a keg one day!
1 pound lump Crab Meat
1 Large Egg
2 tablespoons Real Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sour Cream
1 teaspoon spicy brown Mustard
2/3cup fresh Bread Crumbs
1 tablespoon minced Parsley
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
 Oil, for deep-frying

1. Combine crab, egg, mayo, crumbs, parsley, Old Bay and pepper.
2. Mix to combine and refrigerate 4 hours..
4. Gently roll the cakes
5. Gently deep-fry about 45 seconds or until golden.

Be generous with the Old Bay
Serve with steamed corn rolled in butter and Old Bay

Friday, June 3, 2011

Happy Friday Everyone!

I will be in Maryland Monday and Tuesday... upon my return I hope to have lots to share!  Sorry for the second week in a row of no "Food I Ate Fridays", but I promise a good one next week.  Thanks for your patience with me and I look forward to filling you in on my trip home with my boy to see my wonderful family and friends.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Birthday's, Boats and Beautifulness

For Mikaela's 24th birthday last weekend we rented a duffy boat for an hour and cruised around Newport Harbor.  From the very first inclination of the idea, I was excited, but I did not give it away.  I generally let my excitement be known, but this time I decided to hold in it and not get carried away.  As soon as we pulled away from the dock, I gave into it.  It could not longer be contained - this was SO wonderful.

We laughed, we toasted with mimosas, we answered hypothetical questions, enjoyed the freshest of air and we looked out over the beautiful clear day that God had provided us.  Afterwards, we enjoyed a fantastic dinner at The Counter and a Nerts Tournament to follow at our apartment.  Not to mention a blackberry 3 Heart Tart that everyone whole heartedly enjoyed.

The gloriousness and relaxing environment that we experienced as a group of eight cannot be expressed in words.  It was one hour and fifteen minutes of pure friendship bliss, and truly one of the most original and happy outings I have had in awhile.