Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sacred Heart

There are many things that can make a town special…restaurants, architecturally or historically important buildings, old homes, birthplace of famous writers, etc. All of those are present here in Augusta, but there is one that is shining this week. This Thursday, December 2, Augustans are celebrating the 110th anniversary of one of the most beautiful Victorian masterpieces in all of Augusta – the Sacred Heart Cultural Center. To make a long story short, Sacred Heart was built in 3 years by Jesuit priests as a Catholic church and a school for children of all denominations. They opened the doors on December 2, 1900 and 71 years later, the church closed its doors. For several years, it sat abandoned – plagued by vandalism and ruin. In 1987, Sacred Heart reopened its doors and has since served as a community center for weddings, proms, concerts, garden festivals and so very much more.

 If you’ve never been to it, but are here in town – or if you plan to come to Augusta to visit family or for the Masters, make sure that you stop by the Sacred Heart Cultural Center – it’s a wonderful piece of Augusta history.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shopping on Black Friday

In todays world, we often let our fingers do the walking, or in this case - the shopping.  However, there are some of us out there that prefer to go to a brick and mortar store to experience the thrill of finding good deals.  If you do prefer to go out and about this Black Friday, here are some tips:

- Dress comfortably!  Wear comfortable shoes and clothing!  That doesn't mean leave the house looking frumpy - still do your makeup, hair, take a shower....but wear shoes that you don't mind being in for a while - wear comfortable clothes that will allow you to bend and manuever.  You're going to be in loooong lines - so good shoes are a must. 

- Think about putting together a budget.  Say you've set aside $500 for Black Friday - make sure you don't go over that amount, and if you really want to push yourself...try to get all you wanted for under your budgeted amount.  That way, after you return home, catch up on sleep and wake up - you're not in total shock after you realize just how much you spent. 

Plan ahead - know which stores you want to go to, the order in which you want to visit the stores, and the items that you want to get from the stores.  Also, many store these days have all kinds of coupons. It might be worth it to go ahead a print those coupons out before you go to the stores.

- Remember, just because it's Black Friday doesn't necessarily mean that a particular item is at the lowest price it will ever be.  If it's not at least 50 - 60% off, make sure that the item you're after is something you really want.  Ask yourself - is this really worth getting up at at 3am, standing outside in the cold for an hour, getting smooshed by hundreds, standing in line for another 2 hours, only to save $10?  There are people will gather up a bunch of things, without really checking to make sure they are on sale, stand in line - and when they get to the register, they realize that they didn't save that much, if anything at all...but they buy it anyways, and grumble about it later. (I have actually seen that happen.)  Many stores realize that during the frenzy, not everyone will really pay attention - i.e., the box they're getting is not the one that's on sale, it's the one one that's red and black, not mauve and black, or that just because this table is 60% off, the other one isn't - and so on!  So be alert!  Make a plan, and watch for smooth marketing tricks!

- Be patient and kind.  Remember that there are long lines, a lot of people (quite a few of which will be grumpy) and overworked cashiers and stockers.  There will be grabbing, pushing, toe stepping and possibly some name calling.  Hey, it happens - but you can be prepared.  Eat a good breakfast, take a warm drink with you if you're waiting out in the cold, maybe even carry a snack in your purse if you think you might need it.  :)

- Enjoy Yourself!!  So many times, we can get wrapped up in what we're doing, we forget to simply enjoy ourselves and savor the moment.  Try it - you might not mind someone stepping on your toe (lightly of course), or taking the last box of what you were wanting to get.  And remember, smiling is contagious...do it and see!

- Last and definitely not least - be safe!  This is a time where people are in such a hurry that they misplace their money, or they think they put it up, but it accidently drops out of their hands without them noticing.  It's also a time where people will pick pocket and take your bags if you set them down.  Make sure that your phone is charged, and be aware of your surroundings - and the sales.

Here are some websites that have black friday ads listed on line for you to look at...also, go to the store websites, they might have other coupons and/or deals that aren't listed on the sites below.


Wishing you happy shopping, great finds and an awesome day!

The Young Couple

Monday, November 22, 2010

Turkey, Dressing and Christmas Presents?!?! Oh My!!!!

Of course we know that it is too early to really start in on the Christmas spirit of things, after all...Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet!  However, we do think that it's never really too early to shop for your loved ones.  We don't always know exactly who all we have to buy for - but we usually have a pretty good idea.  Every year, for his side of the family, we all get together sometime around Halloween and draw names, so we don't have to buy everyone a gift.  We also keep the limit to $25 per gift.  For my side of the family, we buy for everyone - which means 4 people and 1 dog.  Then of course, we also buy for ourselves and our own pups.  But, even with the few people we have to buy for, we get stressed trying to find the "perfect" gift!

My mother used to have what she called a "Pandora's Box".  It was a box that held a wide array of gifts, that could be used for any occasion.  So when someone's birthday came around that we accidently forgot - or an anniversary - or a housewarming party...we'd be prepared without having to go out in a  mad dash to find something.  She would also go into the box for the holiday parties where there was going to be "White Elephant" games.  (that's where everyone draws a number, and when it's your turn - you can either pick from the pile of wrapped gifts or take someone else's gift - it's usually kind of fun...but there are times where people can be very serious about "stealing" a particular item!)

As much as we would like to be that organized and on top of things - we aren't.  At this time of year, we usually go to http://www.gifts.com/ and look at their gift suggestions...that way we can see what they have - and sometimes we find it (or something similar) cheaper in a store in town - but it also throws ideas at us that we would never have thought of on our own. 

This year, judging by the amount of parties we're going to be attending - we might just have to start a "pandora's box".  So here are some ideas of what to keep in there:

gift certificates
all occasion cards (you can buy a 40 card pack, or just keep nice blank cards)
a couple of bottles of wine
kitchen items (towels, aprons, cute timers, coffee cups, etc.)
nice picture frames
crystal (glasses, frames, serving dishes, vases - we can usually find them pretty cheap at places like Ross or TJ Maxx)

We also thought about how many times we've been to different fairs, exhibits and even yard sales and flea markets and thought "oh that's cute, but what would I do with it?" - well, now we're kicking ourselves!  We could've been collecting for times such as these!

The point is - don't fret because it's the holidays - enjoy this time.  Live and Learn.  That's what we're doing - we've realized now that if we see something nice/cute and/or a good deal - buy it, stockpile it for any occasion.  And realize, that it's not the cost of the item you get - it's about the thought behind what you give.  Besides, I tend to use Thanksgiving as my way to sort of get info from the people I have to buy for.  Listen to the conversations, look around you - you're bound to come across something, someway that they want and/or need.

Hope this helps a little bit,

The Young Couple

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Hump Day

Ahhh...we have finally arrived at 'hump' day.  The day that's not quite as bad as Monday, no where near as good as Friday, and someone out there came up with the idea that if we can make it through Wednesday - we can make it through the rest of the week.  What they didn't think about, is how by Wednesday..you are so far removed from the past weekend, you can no longer muster a smile for that oh so great night out Saturday, but yet you're too far away from the next weekend to start imagining the fun you're going to have.  You've gotten into just enough of the work week to realize that wearing heels might not have been such a hot idea for the third day in a row.  It's the day where you feel stuck in the twilight zone of overhead flourescent lightbulbs and the incessant ringing of telephones.  Everywhere you look, gray takes the day.  From the sad faces you see, to the actual color of the sky outide, even to the suits you see people wearing.  And, to top it all off, you have received more than your fair shair of daily emails from your friends and co-workers telling you that you have to forward it to 10 people or you will: die, get sick, don't believe in God, aren't a true contributing citizen or that you'll be rich...and here's my reply to all of those people:


The Internet Soapbox! -- powered by flowgo.com

I can't make the sun shine, I can't give anyone a raise and I definitely cannot make the Wednesday of the real world: 9-5..a happier place.  I can however, give you some piece of mind that when you get those emails that say your neighbors - best friends - nephews' wife's  - ex sister in law's  - daughters - college roommate is going to die unless you forward the email to 10 people in the next 30 seconds....it just ain't true.  That doesn't make up for the rest of hump day, but it will hopefully make it a little bit less gray, knowing that you can trash (with the harshest mouse clicking you can muster) those emails to help vent your frustration and relieve some tension.

Wishing you a slightly more opaque shade of gray Wednesday,

The Young Couple

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cooking - French Onion Soup

Various onion soup recipes have been found in English, American, Roman and French cookbooks/collections for hundreds of years.  Onions have pretty much always been cheap and relatively easy to grow and gather for cooking.  For hundreds of years, onions were considered a food for the poorer classes, but in the 1960's french food grew in popularity here in America.  Along with that popularity came the resurgence of the french onion soup.  I have a very, very easy recipe for french onion soup - and you can make all kinds of changes to it, depending on what ingredients you have on hand.  The only ingredient that cannot be changed is, of course, the onion.



Simple French Onion Soup
6 large onions - I use yellow onions, but chefs such as Alton Brown say that you can use yellow and purple; you can also use vidalias, they would be delicious in this soup
3 tablespoons of butter - or you can use vegetable oil, if that's what you have
3-6 teaspoons of sugar - this is based on how sweet your onions are, if you use yellow, use more sugar, but if you use vidalia, use less
6 squares of beef bouillon & 6 cups of water - or 6 cups of beef broth, or even 4-5 cups beef and 1-2 cups chicken broth
splashes of:  worcestershire sauce, and either red wine, sherry, vermouth (I use Port more often than not because that's what I have on hand)
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Peel and thinly slice onions into half moon shapes

2.  Melt butter, or heat oil, add onions and start sauteing

3.  When the onions are soft, but not brown (should be translucent), sprinkle the sugar on the onions (this will help the carmelization start moving along)

4.  After the onions are carmelized, add your bouillon and water or broth and bring to a boil

5.  add in the worcestershire, red wine/sherry/vermouth/port, and salt and pepper

6.  simmer for 10-15 minutes

As you see, there are many things that you can add or subtract from this recipe.  Use what you have!  If you have bay leaf and/or thyme - use them!  If you have white wine instead of red, use it!  This particular recipe is very easy and relatively fast (some people like to cook their soups for hours, and you definitely can if you have the time!).

Now onto the BREAD!

Most of the time, you would add crunchy french bread, such as baguette or croutons and gruyere cheese to the top of the soup (after you've put it in a ramekin or oven safe bowl) and put it under the broiler to melt the cheese.  With my recipe, I don't have any ramekins and am really too clumsy to try to get hot steaming bowls of soup out of the oven so I do this:

- take a baguette, cut it into 1/2" slices
- spread butter on top
- sprinkle granulated garlic and fresh ground rock salt (or you can use garlic salt)
- top with cheese, we usually use swiss because that's what we have on hand - but you can use gruyere, cheddar, or any cheese you like - home cooked food is about what you like, not necessarily what the recipe says you should like
- place under the broiler for a couple of minutes
- put on a plate for every one to grab one, or two, or three to dunk in their soup!

Cooking doesn't have to be hard - just use your imagination and use what you already have.  If you are living on a budget like we do, you don't always have the money to buy the fancier/pricier cheeses and wines, etc.  but you still want a good meal.  Look around you, think about what you have, think about what you like - and you can find a way to make it work for you! 

We hope that you enjoy this recipe! 

Sending you wishes for happy and adventurous cooking from our humble kitchen to yours!

The Young Couple

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We salute Veterans, not just this day, but all days.

World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed.  However, before it was signed, there was an armistice that was agreed upon by the Allied Powers and Germany that took effect on November 11, 1918 at 11am.  Since then, November 11 has been a day where we as Americans have come together to pay homage to those who fought for our freedom, our country, and our lives.  Both of us have fathers who have served in the military, mine in the US Navy and his in the US Airforce.  And there is not a day that goes by, that we are not grateful for having such men as role models in our lives.  They are strong, they are just, they are fair, they are American.  They taught us how to respect those who deserve respect, they taught us how to clean up after ourselves and always accept responsibility for the things we have done wrong and/or right.  They held our hands when we were afraid and they healed our pain when we were wounded.  But most importantly, they taught us to love, respect and be proud of our land and the people who fill it. So we take of our hats to you, the marine, the pilot, the soldier, the sailor.  We also take of our hats to you, the nurse, the administrative assistant, the cook, the private and officer and all the way to our Commander and Chief.  We extend our most heartfelt thanks for all that you have done, are doing and will do.  Gratefully,

The Young Couple

Living Life...

What makes us unique?  What makes us 'shine'?  Absolutely nothing.  We are just two ordinary people - learning, exploring and enjoying our plain-as-white-bread life.