Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Barrios are London!

It's true!!! Dan and I are packing up our things and heading across the pond in January!!! What a way to kick off 2016! Betcha didn't see that coming did you? Neither did we!

I will be transferring with my company and will be working in the financial district in London. This is definitely one of those bucket list items and something that I didn't think would be possible this early in my career. However, when opportunity knocks and God nudges, you just go for it.

After careful prayer and counsel, Dan and I are excited to embark on this expat experience, pare down our belongings, and dive all-in to this adventure.

Moving internationally is...quite the task. We still have quite a bit of to-do's to check off our prep list, but each day that passes draws us nearer to our British invasion. I don't think I've ever read more governmental procedures and protocol than I have in the past few months. I've scoured the UK and US government sites, the UK and US travel sites, various blogs, various google searches and have asked quite a bit of questions of friends and colleagues that have made similar journeys. And do you know what I've learned? Nothing you can read will prepare you for the experience - and that's one of the greatest things about it. Dan and I are jumping in to the unknown and just saying yes to a life-changing move. And we couldn't be more thrilled!

Side note: I would never have been able to take this awesome opportunity if it weren't for the love and support of my wonderful fella, Dan. Thanks, darling! 

We are so thankful for all the support of family and friends as we make this big change in our lives!

If you have any pro tips for newbies like us on an international move, we are all ears! Please leave a comment below with any advice or resources you may have!

Cheers, mates! Now how do we get on House Hunters: International?! ;)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Reflecting on 2015

The popularity of the hashtag #2015bestnine along with Lauren's post {at Life Love Lauren} on the Little Things in 2015 had me reminiscing on 2015 today. And boy, what a year it has been.

It marked our 2nd year of living in Denver along with our 2nd year of marriage. It had it's shares of ups and downs - from starting this blog and taking many trips together, to learning to cope with loss.

I love what Lauren said about the year being made up of small moments that all come together to make our day to day life. Years from now I may not remember the big things, and I certainly will not remember the little things, but all of it played a role in the life we have.

So in that spirit, here are nine of my favorite {Big and Small} moments of 2015:

Adopting Dobby

Starting this blog

Growing deeper in my walk with Christ with the support of an amazing church family

Taking time to be creative

Exploring Mt. Rushmore, Chicago, Orlando, Sacramento, Yosemite, Sonoma Valley, San Francisco, Carmel by the Sea, the Grand Canyon, Durango, Vegas (multiple times!), Colorado Springs, New Mexico and everywhere in between together with Dan

Playing on a softball league for the first time - reeeeeeally got me out of my comfort zone, but was so rewarding

Learning to kayak

Celebrating big milestones with family

Exploring new recipes (and sometimes failing, but Dan still was a trooper and ate it!)

Since this is the time of year to both reflect on the year past and look forward to the year ahead, I will have some VERY special news in my post on Wednesday. Come on back to find out what 2016 has in store for the Barrios!

However, since this post was somewhat inspired by #2015bestnine, here is my best nine from Instagram this year:

Each one of these moments is so special to me and I'm glad you all could share in it too! Be sure to follow me on the "best of 2016" journey as well! ;)

I appreciate each and every one of you for following along and doing life with me.

Chips & Salsa: A Love Story

So..if you've read a bit about me and Dan {or know us IRL}, you know we are native New Mexicans and that we LOVE us some green chile and we LOOOOOVE us some homemade Barrio salsa.

And being the good New Mexicans that we are, we aim to get our fix as often as we can by stocking up the freezer with these babies. And although this recipe is not Hatch Green Chile certainly compliments any dish prepared with those little beauties.

I, of course, am referring to delicious salsa.

Dan's family has a bomb recipe and he is the salsa king in our household. I am here merely to record its awesomeness.

Here's what you'll need to re-create this awesome salsa:

1. 4-6 jalapeños 
2. 1 can tomato sauce
3. blender or food processor
4. water
5. garlic salt & table salt

Dan likes to eyeball a lot of this process, but the general breakdown is as follows:

1. Remove the stems of the jalapeños before bringing them to a boil in a pot on the stove; then drain

2. Add the jalapeños to a food processor/blender {we leave the seeds in for extra spice. If you are trying this out as an introduction to some spice, consider removing some of the seeds during this step}

3. Add the tomato sauce to the blender and blend the ingredients to a sauce-like consistency

4. Add half a can of water to the mixture along with any additional seasonings you prefer

5. Serve with chips

We gave some of these cans of salsa as Christmas gifts this year to our church group. What are some of your favorite dishes and/or homemade gifts?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas to All

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I'm enjoying a *surprisingly* white Christmas in New Mexico. This year must truly be a year of change because this never happens!!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas full of joy, peace, and love.

Now excuse me while I go fill my eggnog once more ;)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Favorite Things: Christmas Movies

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!

Christmas movies are some of my favorite things about the season. My family and I have our favorites that are staples in our household from the day after Thanksgiving all the way to the big day itself. So get your popcorn popped and twizzlers opened, because here are the movies that make the top of my list each year!

Holiday Inn: My favorite holiday movie of all time! Best songs, best actors, best all the things! I heart Irving Berlin.

The Santa Clause: This is probably one of the longest running traditions we have in our household. My sister and I know every word and have quote-a-longs each year.

Elf: Just so funny. And can we all agree it's the best version of Baby It's Cold Outside there is?

The Holiday: This has a sentimental place in my heart because it's the first movie Dan and I saw in theaters together...9 years ago on our first date!

Home Alone: Another classic that made me want to booby trap everything as a kid.

Christmas with the Kranks: This is up there with The Santa Clause - such a quotable and fun-loving movie. One of my mom's favorites.

White Christmas: Funnily enough, the most recognizable song from Holiday Inn is the namesake of this movie. It's another classic that is paired so well with Holiday Inn and Miracle on 34th Street.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas *original only please: Such a fun book and cartoon. It's one of those I have to have on while decorating or baking. And I just love Boris Karloff's voice. Best.Narrator.Ever.

Miracle on 34th Street *original only please: This is a great one to pop on right after Thanksgiving! Because Macy's amirite?

Honorable Mentions:
It's a Wonderful Life
Love Actually
Christmas Vacation

As you can tell, we are a big movie family. My dad is a huge old hollywood buff and can name directors, producers, actors, 2nd cousins of actors, and the list goes on. Many of these movies are some of my favorite just because he tells us the history and awesome behind the scene stories.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Dobby The House Cat

Yes - that's a reference to Harry Potter; Yes - we frequently give him socks {though for some reason, he lovingly stays in our house and chooses to be part of the family}; No - we haven't told him about Bellatrix; Yes - he's just as ornery as the house-elf.

I am, of course, referring to our beloved cat, Dobby.

Dobby's cameo appearance

I didn't grow up with cats and thought of myself as a dog person most of my life. But when you move to a new city, live in an apartment without a private backyard, both your husband and you work crazy hours, and yet still really want an awesome furry friend - a cat starts to become an appealing option. And let me tell you, I've been in love with our little guy since we adopted him a year ago {as you all probably couldn't tell given the amount of pictures I have #crazycatlady}. I can't believe how fast he's grown in his first year!

Dobby is a bit of a miracle cat - he and his siblings were found in a rural area north of Denver last winter. It was a feral litter and Dobby's sister was discovered by the foster family in the mouth of a fox, and Dobby looked to be the next one on the menu. Thankfully, the fox dropped his sister when their human rescuers came across the fox and this small litter of kittens. All kittens survived and all of the little fur-balls found loving forever homes.

So in honor of his first year of life, here are just a few of my favorite things about our little fur-ball:

1. The way he talks to us like he's peoples too
2. The way he massages our stomachs before laying on us
3. The way he still chases the same toy we got him when we first brought him home
4. How he knows exactly when it's food time and doesn't hesitate to remind us
5. How he wakes us up if we sleep too long by playing with the blinds, knocking over my desk chair, spilling his water, and running around like a mad-cat {ok, I don't LOVE that behavior, but he just has so much personality, I can't help it!}

If you are considering getting a fur-baby, please check out your local shelters/animal rescue organizations. We got Dobby through Good Samaritan Pet Center here in Denver, but there are SO many other humane options for finding pets #adoptapet

I'd love to hear about some of your furry family members in the comments below!

Monday, December 14, 2015

60 Beautiful Years

Last month, my grandparents celebrated their 60th Wedding anniversary!! It was great to have the family gathered to honor the two lovebirds. They are still the cutest couple Dan and I know, and have been one of our role-models of love. We spent an evening at one of their favorite Greek restaurants. My mom planned the evening and it was beautiful.

I wanted to give them something that showed how much we all love them. I asked for input from the family of what that they thought of when they think of our grandparents, and I made a word collage of all the words.

Aren't they the sweetest?! :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!

I fulfilled another one of my fall bucket list goals a couple weekends ago when Dan and I spontaneously decided to head to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta! Now, my dad is FROM Albuquerque and both sides of my extended family LIVE in Albuquerque, so needless to say, it's been a second home to me my ENTIRE life! Yet, even being a native New Mexican with so much family in Albuquerque, I had yet to attend a Fiesta in my 26 years on this earth!

This year, I decided I wanted that to change. It was something I've always wanted to do, but just figured I would eventually go. Well, inspiration hit last year when my very talented and creative uncle made his yearly self-made photographic calendar with the Balloon Fiesta as its theme! The beauty and colors of all the hundreds of balloons really reminded me that I needed to follow through with that goal. So, I added it to my fall wish list this year and we decided to act quickly upon it!

We drove down on Friday morning and stayed with family that evening. Then the next morning we got up at 3 AM to drive to the Fiesta Park where we were going to witness Dawn Patrol - a group of balloons who ascend before dawn to determine weather patterns and whether it's safe for the rest of the balloons to ascend. It was mesmerizing to have the only light coming from a handful of balloons who all rose together {along with everyone's cameras trying to capture the moment!}.

As the sun rose, so did the rest of the balloons. It was unbelievable to watch and I just stood there looking up in awe as 500+ balloons slowly inflated, did their tests and then ascended during Mass Ascension.

I kept trying to pick a favorite, but each time I thought I had it, another ascended and caught my attention! {A couple of the contenders, Darth and Yoda, are below}

This trio was just so adorable. They were all fun, unique balloons that almost made you forget that people were riding in baskets below them! You can also see Pigasus above their heads to the right! {one of three flying pigs that I saw - there could have been more, though!}

This was pretty much my view since the first launch.

And of course we had to capture Spider Pig and another flying pig. {Not pictured: Pigasus - seen in a previous picture}

Right afterward, we drove back up to Denver making for a whirlwind of a short trip!!

It was an unforgettable experience, and although exhausting, I think we will be going back again. The New Mexico skies are the perfect backdrop to showcase the sheer awe-inspiring wonder that is manned hot air balloon flights.

Now, when can I go in one of these?!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Green Chile & Cheese Stew

One of the things on my Fall Goals was to make this recipe.

It's a favorite in the Barrio household. It's been adapted from my mother in law's recipe {thanks, Dianne!} and it's really grown to be a staple of fall/winter. I wouldn't say this is a typical "stew" per se. But you know, whatever you call it, it's so darn delicious.

It's one of my favorite ways to welcome cooler weather and is one of my favorite comfort foods/party dishes - since it pretty much can feed thousands {although in our household, it probably only lasts for a max of 2 days}. Fair warning: this is NOT something to make if you are wanting to walk away with a little room on the waist of your pants ;) However, I guarantee it will put a smile on your face.

Here's what you'll need for our Famous Green Chile & Cheese Stew:

1. CrockPot
2. 4 medium potatoes, cubed
3. 1/2 package Velveeta, cubed & separated
4. 1 can Rotel tomatoes {or just diced tomatoes if you are in a pinch} 
5. 1 medium onion, diced & separated
6. Meat of choice {we switch between chicken and beef, but you can also leave out if you prefer}
7. 3-4 Green Chiles - or more!{anything from New Mexico, naturally. You'll thank me later}
Pro Tip: Rinse your roasted green chile under cool water to remove the seeds inside and remember to not touch your eyes after handling them!
8. Salt, pepper, & garlic powder {to taste}
9. Chips or tortillas

I like to layer the ingredients in the order above, but it's a CrockPot, so really there's no wrong way to do this. Toss all the ingredients (except the chips/tortillas) into the crockpot and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.

I layer the bottom of the crockpot with potatoes since they take the longest.

I add about half of the cheese on top of the potatoes and add the rest at the end

I add the tomatoes

I add about half of the onions on top of the tomatoes

I brown the beef with a quarter of the onion

I put these bad boys everywhere I can - brown them with the beef, layer in the CrockPot and sprinkle on top

Don't worry - I have a freezer full of those bags! {Thanks, Mom!!!!}

I add the mixture of beef and green chile

I top with MORE green chile

I add in all the rest of the "leftover" ingredients including the cheese, onions and any additional green chile!

If possible, about midway through, stir it all up {and make sure it's edible of course!}.

Serve with chips or tortillas & a cozy seat on the couch next to the fireplace. Then go back for seconds! Happy Fall Y'all!

Stay tuned for updates on the rest of my Fall Goals list!