Thursday, December 24, 2009

last christmas eve.

i was running around the streets of san francisco with some of my favorite cousins.

this christmas eve i've spent most of the day sleeping, trying to feel a little better than i have the last 2 days. welcome home to me!

luckily, i feel a little better today than i did yesterday. here's hoping to feeling even better tomorrow in time for christmas.

hope everyone's holidays are lovely and sickness-free :)


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

it's fun taking pictures of people you know really well.

exhibit a.

Friday, December 18, 2009

let it snow.


if you look really close, you can see little snow flakes in my hair.

the snow is actually all melting off of the ground, and it's sad.

yes, it is hard having such pretty roommates. i need to make friends with uglier people to help out my self-esteem.

we wanted to make a christmas card, and we took this picture outside our favorite family restaurant. j dawgs. it's a hot dog joint. i know what you're thinking... hot dogs are only acceptable at baseball games, camp outs, and when you're really hungry at a ward activity - but j dawgs defies all laws of hot dogs. it is honestly that good. our outfits actually coordinated very well, but it was so cold that the roommates left their jackets on and we decided this would do. we didn't make a christmas card, but at least we have a picture of the 3 of us.

i'm tired. tired tired. i didn't go to sleep last night. i have 2 finals today. and then i'm taking a deep breath. i swear, each semester is more and more stressful and i don't get it. i keep thinking my life will calm down, but then it doesn't

if i had a nickel for every time someone said "jana, things like that don't happen to people in real life" i would have a million dollars. really. i'm going to write a book about how ridiculous my life is. i'm pretty sure right now i'm living out the notebook. probably a little too much info for the blog, but whatever... nicholas sparks makes it look way too easy. 

i wish i was flying to california today. december 22nd please come soon.

i have a christmas dinner party every year with my girlfriends from high school. one of my favorite parts is handmaking and sending out the invitations. i didn't do it this year. and i'm sad. maybe i'll make some and mail them out tomorrow - they'll probably get to everyone the day after the party. hmmm. oh well. there's always next year.

when is it too early in the morning to drink diet coke? i didn't go to sleep, so 8am doesn't really apply to me, right?

my mom sends me funny things in e-mails. and then i'm bad at e-mailing back. but mom, i think you're funny. [blog posts are better than e-mails because everyone can read them, so this covers a few of my non-responses].

sometimes i straighten my hair specifically so i don't have to wash it for a few days but i know it will still look nice. i did that on wednesday. hello third day hair. it's finals week, lay off me.

i have been crying every day lately. every day. there is something wrong with me. i went a whole year without crying once, and this last month i have been a basket case. i remember that no-crying year though, and i thought something was wrong with me then too. no really, i remember sitting in my car one day after a track meet in high school thinking 'i want to cry. cry jana. i don't want to forget how.' i'm so weird. anyway, i wonder which is worse.

i've lost over 10 lbs in the last couple months. which is weird. one, because i don't know how. and two, i don't look any skinnier so i'm pretty sure i've just lost all muscle. but there's still something very fulfilling about seeing a number on the scale that's under 130.

i have to go do a painting and study and take 2 finals in the next couple hours. awesome.

dear 2010,
please come quick and bring me happy things. just saying.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

my little men.

aren't my nephews adorable? my future kids have some serious competition in the cuteness department when it comes to the beck grandkids.

if i've learned anything from watching these boys grow up, it's to start training them young. in front of the camera, i mean. really, how many 3-year-olds know how to pose in front of the camera with their hands in their pockets? way to go melissa :)


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

can i ask you a personal question?


i know there are a few married folks that read my blog. some of you i know, and others i don't. either way, i need to ask you something...

how did you know your mister was 'the one'? flash of lightning? tidal wave? pillar of light?

if you don't mind sharing, i would love to hear... you can consider it your small act of service for the day - helping out a 20-something-year-old girl with a lot on her mind.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

mike + carolyn


this is mike and carolyn. they're getting married next month. im pretty sure they're happy about it.

ps. just know that if you ever call me to take engagement pictures, i will make you kiss. you've been warned.


Friday, December 11, 2009

brunch at our house.

sometimes we have quiche and drink egg nog out of wine glasses.

it's romantic.

for the fabulous quiche recipe i used, go here. my sister is a culinary genius.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

dear fedex,


i know i shouldn't use the word hate, but i hate you for putting a hole through this painting.

you don't deserve x's and o's,

ps. my sister-in-law had me do this painting for her sister who is getting married this summer. she wanted with browns instead of the traditional black & white with a color background. pretty sweet.

Friday, December 4, 2009

oh baby.

no one can blame me for wanting babies when i take pictures of little pieces of heaven like this.

remember this giveaway? well the mother of this little angel won, and asked if she could redeem her prize after he was born. he's only 10 days old in this photo and i pretty much am in love with it. 

thanks so much for letting me come and take these, jessica! it was definitely worth skipping class for.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

christmas pajamas.

christmas_pjs copy

[i can't believe i forgot to put christmas pjs on the list]

it's 12:46am.

i can't go to sleep because there are things i need to do. like write a 7-page paper. wait. my roommate's paper is 7 pages. mine is 10. dang, it's worse than i thought.

thank you, target, for your one-piece pajamas. you've made my all-nighter bearable.


Monday, November 30, 2009

thinking december.


i spent 7 straight hours on campus today. and i forgot to eat breakfast, so i definitely didn't eat anything until i got home 30 minutes ago. no bueno.

after a quesadilla and a couple deep breaths, i realized that december starts tomorrow. the other night, my roommate and i decided that we want to do something festive every day of december, leading up to christmas. so we started making a list. [i love lists]. here's what we have so far:

see the lights at temple square
make and hang-up christmas stockings
drink hot chocolate with homemade marshmellows
decorate a christmas tree
wrap our gifts for a little girl in need
watch 'a muppet christmas carol'
make apartment christmas cards
build gingerbread houses
take a drive to check out the neighborhood lights
have a roommate 'christmas' dinner
write goals for 2010
make christmas sugar cookies
go to a christmas concert
make a wreath for the door
take 'family' pictures [our apartment family]
hang mistletoe
christmas caroling
serve food at the homeless shelter

so what am i missing?

what are your favorite traditions for the month of december?

suggestions are welcome :)


Saturday, November 28, 2009

thanksgiving for two.


dear alexandra's mom,
don't worry. we ate real thanksgiving food.


ps. really though, it was incredibly exciting to make a thanksgiving meal in it's entirety and not ruin anything. alexandra and i were pretty dang proud of ourselves.
baking our first chicken - check.
[don't shower and wash your face in said shower after chopping an onion and rubbing a chicken down with a clove of garlic. probably common sense, but we all make mistakes. mostly me though].
cooking stuffing for the first time - check.
[thanks for the help, dad].
bacon wrapped asparagus. yum.

we finished our thanksgiving off with 44 oz. diet cokes and julie & julia at the dollar movies.

bring it on december.

life is good.

pss. i brought the music back. if it's really annoying and irritating, feel free to tell me. i know the first 3 songs are probably old news, but i've been listening to them over and over again the last few days. in that order too. not sure why.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

the best things in life.


diet coke.

and season 4 of the office on dvd.

have a lovely thanksgiving :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

looking forward to...


lunch today with a friend.

glee tonight. and the finale of project runway tomorrow.

a very exciting sewing project i can hopefully finish up this weekend.

a few days without school next week. time to paint my heart out and dive into all the fabulous photos i took over the weekend. not to mention, sleeping more than 5 hours a night.

possibly hosting my first thanksgiving dinner. [or pre-thanksgiving dinner, which is just as cool and exciting].

december already. i didn't get enough kisses from these boys when i was home over the weekend.

attempting my first quilt.

egg nog and candy cane hugs.

snow [the looking at it, not being cold], christmas trees and lights and being able to listen to christmas music without feeling guilty. plus making my roommates and myself stockings and decorating the apartment.

a new nephew in february and another new nephew/niece [hopefully niece] in april.

a trip to new york in the spring.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

i love when pretty families ask me to take their picture.

wittmer1 copy

5 pretty families in one weekend. more where these came from.

what i don't love is that i have to go back to utah tomorrow where it is apparently going to be 13 degrees. no thank you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

southwestern chicken chowder.


the food styling in this picture is terrible. that's what happens when you have 5 minutes to snap a photo before you need to leave for the airport, and you know the rest of the soup will definitely be gone by the time you get back.

over the summer, i went to a friend's birthday dinner at the california pizza kitchen restaurant. i was so hungry that i ordered a bowl of soup to tide me over until my pizza was ready. they came out at the same time. but after one bite of the soup, i was not even mad. 

since the weather started turning cold, i started craving this chowder. so i tried to recreate it. i looked up their description on the internet, and then i found a few recipes that were pretty similar. 

attempt 1 = rice. good rice, but rice nonetheless.

attempt 2 = soupy rice. seriously! but don't worry. this time, i fixed it. and it was fabulous.

so if it's getting cold wherever you are and you feel like a spicy+creamy something to warm you up - here you go.

just a disclaimer before i start: there are 2 reasons why i will never have my own cooking show. 1) i am terrible at writing recipes - i apologize. 2) i always cut and burn myself in the kitchen. i did both while making this soup. moving along...

this is what you'll need:
2 T canola oil
1 medium white onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 or 2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1 can (4oz) fire-roasted chilies
3 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
chili powder
freshly ground black pepper
1-2 boneless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken broth
2 cups corn [i used frozen corn and it tasted fine]
3/4 cup white basmati rice
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup flour
1 lime
10 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
corn tortillas [optional, but awesome]

1. in a large pot, saute the white onion, garlic, and red pepper in the canola oil until vegetables begin to soften. add the chilies and jalapeno peppers. then add the spices: 1 t. paprika, 1 t. chili powder, 1/2 t. cumin, 1/2 t. ground black pepper. continue to cook until vegetables are heated through.

2. add chicken, turning the pieces until they are fully cooked. or cook chicken separately and add it to the sauteed vegetables.

3. pour in 1 quart (4 cups) of chicken broth and bring to a boil. stir in the corn and rice, reducing the heat to a simmer and let cook until rice is tender [30-45 minutes].

4. chances are, the rice drank up all your soup and there is hardly any broth left. so go ahead and add the other quart (4 cups) of chicken broth. then stir in the cream and flour to thicken it up. finally, add the cilantro and the juice of 1 lime.

5. then, add more spices. depending on how spicy you want it... i pretty much just added all the spices in a second time: 1 t. paprika, 1 t. chili powder, 1/2 t. cumin, 1/2 t. ground black pepper. then, add a teaspoon or two of salt, to taste.

6. if you feel like being really cool, slice a few corn tortillas into strips and fry them in a little pot of incredibly hot canola oil. these can go on top for a little crunch and a cute garnish. feel free to throw some extra sprigs of cilantro on top too.


feel free to ask questions and let me know if you try it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

the sun will come out...


because i'll be on a plane to see some of my favorite little people in the world.

and some of my favorite big people too.

can't wait.

ps. stay tuned for an awesome soup recipe tomorrow. it was actually soup this time :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

fall thoughts.


i'm not very good at photographing nature - i need people in my pictures. but the other day i tried anyway and got this one. i'm kind of proud of it.

i'm ok, i promise. diet coke works wonders. [my dad calls dr. pepper his antidepressant. we're related]. but thank you so so much for your sweet comments and e-mails. you guys are the best.

it's only 3:00, but today has been a really good day. reading my scriptures and working out in the morning is even more effective for happiness than diet coke. [no brainer].

i'm supposed to go home on thursday, and i have so so much to do before then. and i mean SO much. [ps. if you're in the bay area and want some pictures taken this weekend - e-mail me. it will be fun, promise].

i have a bajillion ideas for paintings bouncing around this little head of mine. now to find the time to translate those ideas to the canvas. i'm painting today. i mean it.

i think i'm going to try to make soup again today. keep your fingers crossed that it comes out soup this time.

the fall leaves in utah are starting to disappear. it's sad. one, because i love love fall. two, it's going to start getting colder real soon. i'm not so much a fan of cold.

does anyone watch project runway? because i am so so happy with the final 3 - definitely who i would have picked. i have a feeling irina is going to win. i know she is kind of a mean little woman, but you have to admit that she is good. i'm secretly pulling for carol hannah though - she doesn't really have the 'air' of a fashion designer - but i would wear everything i've seen her put down the runway. sigh. maybe one day ill be cool enough to be on that show. i am taking patternmaking next semester :)

i lost 8 pounds last month. i'm not being the least bit facetious when i say that i don't really know how it happened. especially after finding this recipe. but i'll take it. [by the way, if you haven't tried making these yet, you need to. you will thank me - i promise. i've lost 8 pounds. you can trust me. they're magic cupcakes].

this next one is really random, but it's my blog so i do what i want. i had never realized before today that there are specific washing instructions on the tags of certain underwear. true story. apparently the underwear i'm wearing today are supposed to be tumble dried and removed promptly. because heaven forbid my underwear sit in the dryer a little too long and wrinkle.

is it bad that one of my favorite things about thanksgiving is that you get to start getting ready for christmas as soon as it's over? poor thanksgiving. i really do love you for other reasons too.

i'm going to paint.

right now.

maybe i'll shower first.

or maybe i won't.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

i usually don't post on sundays.

but can we just talk about how much i love this picture?


Thursday, November 5, 2009

a diet coke kind of day.


[mom, don't judge me for drinking caffeine].

it was just one of those days...

you know what i'm talking about.

it was the kind of day that just didn't get off to the right start. you get up much later than you had planned, because the night before was terrible. and the last thing you want to do is get out of your warm bed and face the day ahead of you.

but you do.

and you put your pink robe over your pajamas, slip on your uggs, and make cinnamon rolls for your group project meeting. only your cinnamon rolls don't rise. of course they don't. and they're dense and gross and your frosting has chunks of cream cheese that won't smooth out.

and then it's time for school. and you spend 4-ish hours in the basement of a school building with no cell phone service and all you accomplish is getting your pattern cut out and a wimpy pocket sewn on. 

and there was probably 100 moments in the day where your eyes just started to well up with tears, without any provoking at all. and it takes every ounce of your self-control to keep those tears from falling. and all day long you wonder if last night you made a huge mistake, and all you can do is hope and pray that everything will just work out.

you make it home. to an empty apartment. because apparently your roommates have lives.

so you decided to change out of the sweats and tennis shoes you wore to school, and you get cute. because that should make you feel better. only you swear that last week you were so excited about the 5 pounds you lost, and today they all decided to come back.

but hey, at least now you're wearing mascara and you smell nice, so you decide to be supportive of a friend and go to his comedy show. only you drive all the way across town to find out you went to the wrong place. 

and that's when you need a diet coke. in the worst way.

thank goodness for the crest gas station's drive through and $1.10 refills.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

ryan. melissa + boys


this is my brother's family.

ryan is in school to be a chiropractor. melissa is really good at making cute little boys [i'm sure she's good at making cute little girls too]. their 3 boys are some of my favorite little people in the world. i love them. it doesn't hurt that they look great in pictures.

i took these in april. i even posted them in april, but i decided that it didn't do these photos justice.

can't wait to see you guys in a week and a half.











Monday, November 2, 2009

soup gone wrong.


i wanted soup last night for dinner.

so i decided to make some.

but i added too much rice.


oh well, people still ate it. and liked it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

pumpkin cupcakes.


[yes. this is my picture. i'm working on my food styling/photography skills - what do you think?]

fall is my favorite season. maybe it's because i love all things pumpkin.

the other night, my roommate and i decided to have a little bake-fest [she's my sous chef/cooking prodigy - i love it]. 

we googled 'pumpkin cupcakes', and martha stewart's recipe was the first to pop up. let me just tell you, martha does not disappoint.

there wasn't a frosting recipe, so i took the liberty of using a cream cheese frosting recipe that i now have memorized. excellent choice on my part, if i do say so myself.

[the recipe makes about 20 cupcakes. i had to make another batch so i could take some pictures].

martha stewart's pumpkin cupcakes
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. coarse salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ground allspice
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. line cupcake pans with paper liners. set aside. in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. set aside. [don't worry if you don't have all the right spices. we didn't have allspice, so i just doubled the amount of nutmeg].
2. separately, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. [i apparently can't read recipes, and just softened my butter instead of melting it - it still worked great]. whisk in pumpkin puree. [the recipe calls for 15 oz. of pumpkin puree, which is actually half of of the cans of pumpkin you find at most stores].
3. divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway to 3/4 full. bake approximately 20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. [in my oven it was almost exactly 20 minutes].

cream cheese frosting
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 t. vanilla
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. add vanilla. then add powdered sugar. it will be too thick to use regular beaters after you add the powdered sugar, just fyi. hope you have a kitchenaid. or you don't mind using your muscles. i pipe my frosting out of a re-usable featherweight piping bag i purchased at michael's. and this recipe makes exactly the right amount needed to frost one batch of these cupcakes.



ps. i weighed less the day after i made these. they're magic cupcakes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a sewing dilemma.


ps. i have not gained weight. contrary to what this photo might lead you to believe.

so what is this, you ask?

it's a low-quality photo, taken by my computer, of a zip-up hoody that i sewed. from scratch [i don't really know if you would say you sewed something 'from scratch'. oh well].

i'm taking a sewing class at school, and this was our first project. it's a little emo. the fabric has skulls. i finished it today. no tears were shed in the process [i came close], but there was some blood - that's a whole different story.

now i'm on to project number 2. which is where i need your help.

project 2 is a men's tailored shirt. 

i'm making it for the boy.

it will be a 20-ish hour investment. seriously.

my teacher told me to make sure and inform him that if we were to break up, i would need the shirt back. seriously, she did. [i told him, and he didn't think it was very nice].

anyway, here is my dilemma. i had wanted to make the shirt out of very high-quality fabric. if i'm going to invest that much time into constructing an article of clothing, i want everything about it to be high quality. that way, when the boy wears it, he will happily tell everyone in the vicinity that his woman made it for him. because she is awesome. 

but today, i went to the fabric store.

and the high quality fabric i had wanted was expensive.

and i mean expensive.

like $50 for the amount of fabric i need - that kind of expensive. 
[ok, maybe that doesn't sound like a lot, because you would pay a lot more for it in the store. but think about that + 20 hours worth of my time. that's a lot of value. plus, i'm cheap].

so here's the thing. the money is not the major deterrent in my not wanting to spring for the awesome fabric. it's more the, what if i mess up? or what if it doesn't even fit him well and he never wants to wear it in public? i would kick myself for splurging on the pique - that's the fabric that feels like heaven.

so then i thought, maybe i'll make the shirt out of a not-so-awesome fabric... and then, if i mess up, it's not a big deal. and if it doesn't fit him perfectly, it's not a big deal. and then i can know how to make a second shirt of perfection, which i can construct out of the fabric that better be laced with 24-carat gold thread for how much it costs. plus, i'll then have an instant christmas present.

but what if the first shirt turns out perfect? but i made it out of crappy fabric, so the boy definitely isn't going to want to show it off to anyone.

this post is way too long. and i have obviously put way too much thought into this.

so - for all you seamstresses out there [or you can pretend] - what would you do? have faith in your seamstress skills and go for the big girl fabric? or hope you have 20 more hours of sewing left in you to make the real deal after you do one for practice?

if you help me, i'll bring you a cupcake.

or mail it to you.

seriously, i have 40 sitting on my kitchen counter.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

winner winner, chicken dinner.

a random number generator told me to pick #6.

so i did.

Blogger Jessica said...

ooh, pick me please! I'm having a baby in December and would love for you to take some shots of him when he's still a newborn. I live in Utah too.

October 20, 2009 1:12 PM

yay for you jessica! e-mail me and we will make this thing happen. 

ps. i can't even tell you how excited i am to do some newborn shots. i thought i would have to wait until february when my newest little nephew will be born :)

pss. stay tuned for a wednesday recipe i will be posting later today. i'm baking up something right now. at 12:47 am.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

baked rigatoni.

remember how i dreamt about pasta?

well, after i woke up, i thumbed through the better homes and gardens cookbook my roommate left on our kitchen counter and found the pasta of my dreams. [and by pasta of my dreams, literally, i mean i found a pasta recipe exactly like what i had dreamt].

so i made it for dinner.

it was amazingly delicious for how simple it was to make. really. 

i have a fabulous cook of a friend who i wanted to try it so i could have an expert's opinion. he said he gave himself a stomach ache from eating it so fast - that's how good it was.

i also had the best intentions of taking some beautifully styled photos of the meal as well - which didn't happen. we ate it too fast. i was lucky i even got one. oh well, there's always next wednesday!

here's the recipe:
7 ounces dried cavatelli or wagon wheel pasta [i used rigatoni. which is why i changed the recipe name]
12 ounces uncooked italian sausage, sliced 1/2 inch thick
3/4 cup chopped onion [1 medium]
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 26-ounce jar pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese [or more than a cup. whatever]
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. cook pasta according to package directions. drain. set aside

2. in a large skillet, cook the sausage, onion, and garlic until sausage is brown. remove from skillet. drain. [my amazing cook friend told me that if you boil the sausage first, it is easier to slice before browning. i'll have to try that next time].

3. in a large bowl, stir together pasta sauce, 3/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese [or more than that], and the pepper. add the cooked pasta and the sausage mixture. stir gently to combine. spoon the mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish.

4. bake, covered, in a 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until nearly heated through [you'll know when it's ready because the edges will be bubbling]. uncover; sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese [or more than that - i like cheese. leave me alone]. bake about 5 minutes more until cheese is melted.

and voila - thank you better homes and gardens!

ps. you can still enter the giveaway below.