Monday, December 26, 2011

Virgin Turkey Tacklers

Don't you just love that title? It could mean so many things.... :)

This Christmas was the first Christmas for both Nic and I that we were away from our families. The way that we dealt with this possibly depression-inducing situation? We decided that we would basically cook and then eat ourselves into food comas. But have no fear, I had extra insulin on hand for us both!

I technically began weeks ago by baking about 15 dozen of three different kinds of cookies. Only two of those kinds made it to Christmas day. I took that as a compliment from my husband.

I woke up early Christmas Eve Day and made apple brown sugar and chocolate chip coffee cake for Nic. It was the definition of scrumptious.

Note: This very county patterned plate was my grandma's, and I think both she and my grandpa would have approved!

Nic then headed to work on Christmas Eve Day. I also worked...on plotting out the cooking time-line for the next 48 hours. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. With my time-line on the fridge, a cooking apron securely tied around my waste and a spatula in each hand, I was practically armored for battle. Let the cooking begin!

I spent 4.5 hours making, punching/kneading and watching my first ever batch of homemade dinner rolls rise. Seven cups of flour and several bruised knuckles (my dough decided to punch back) later and I had these beauties to serve to my husband...

We also had franks from Omaha Steaks wrapped in this homemade dough for dinner that night...unfortunately Nic was so hungry when he got home that I didn't get a picture of them before two of them met an early demise in the pit of his stomach.

On Christmas we started the cooking marathon early. Shortly after presents were opened I had the pumpkin pie in the oven. I was in charge of all sides and desserts while Nic took responsibility of tackling our 10 lb. turkey. We decided to make a root beer-glazed roasted turkey with rosemary, cinnamon and cayenne stuffed with apples and onions. My sole role in handling the turkey was denuding our rosemary bush for the 6 tablespoons of rosemary we needed. Our poor plant is very naked now. But its sacrifice was acknowledged with every "mmmm" that escaped our lips when we partook of this beauty:

Didn't Nic do a fabulous job??

The turkey was joined by sides of bacon-apple cornbread stuffing...

...and cranberry sauce (my first try and according to Nic the best he's tasted even though he doesn't particularly like the dish)...

...and of course we couldn't forget one of my favorite dishes: green bean casserole! I know, this very safe and canned side joins my love of hamburger helper...they just can't be explained amidst my love of everything exotic, ethnic, spicy and gourmet-fusion. Although, truth be told, we did mix it up a bit and use garlic cream of mushroom soup in the this casserole...

...and all together these dishes made the beautiful and boutiful spread that Nic and I shared as our first Christmas dinner together as a married couple...

God bless us everyone!

The happy couple (or, as happy as we could be with this sitting next to us while I insisted we get some pre-dinner photos together)...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Some of the Things This Wolverine Loves About Christmas

1. The moment when you realize that flour, sugar, and even some sprinkles are not only coating your kitchen counters and floors, but also your shirt, elbows, and hair. This situation is a natural result of cookie baking marathons. And trust me, having flour and sugar in funny places is WAY better than having sand in funny places!

2. The moment when you realize that you don't have enough cookie tins for all of the cookies you have made and/or received in the mail.

3. Having meaningful marital discussions over the proper way to decorate sugar cookies with your spouse.

4. The ability to know when your tree needs water by the more piney smell it gives off.

5. The chance to constantly rearrange the gifts under the tree for maximum aesthetic viewing pleasure.

6. The excuse to burn every candle in the house. At once.

7. The excuse to drink hot and sugary drinks at every meal.

8. The chance to show some Christian love to other harried customers in the post office. Also the chance to share a Christian smile while also showing that you will not lay down and die (or more accurately, be run over) by that crazy lady who just tried to steal a parking spot from you at the mall while visiting your husband and work.

9. Knowing every line in the Grinch song and always wondering why it's such a bad thing to have garlic in your one has been able to answer that one, by the way. It's right up there with the question of why store mannequins have very hard and prominent nipples. Sorry dad, I still don't have that answer for you yet!

10. The time and leisure to blow through 4 young adult novels in a week.

And there you have it, folks. Some of the things that have been keeping me ticking during my time off while my husband pulls 14 hour days at his two retail jobs. I tell yah, that Husker is a hard-working man! And I love him all the more for it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Duh, Monday is Red, the Number Nine is a Diva, and the Calendar is a Three-Sided Rectangle

It's official. I'm a synesthete. Promise we can still be friends? Even if I told you that the number 2 is a goody-two-shoes and that Friday is blue? Maybe I should define synesthesia and synesthetess for you first.

Synesthesia is a neurologically based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. For example, some synesthetes (those who experience synesthesia) smell different odors for each number, or hear sounds for the different colors. For a full explanation, check out Wikipedia's page.

I don't smell purple though. I have what's called ordinal linguistic personification and spatial-sequence, or number form, synesthesia.

My ordinal linguistic personification synesthesia takes the form of numbers having personalities. The basic personality traits are contained in the numbers 1-10 with subsequent numbers having personalities formed from the individual single digit numbers within them. Lemme break it down for you:

1 = Very mailable and easily influenced personality. No beliefs or convictions of its own.
2 = Goody-two-shoes to the point of wanting to slap it. Teacher's pet. Annoying perfectionist.
3 = Naughty toddler. Very mischievous but always claims it's too young to be responsible for its actions.
4 = The older mentor/version of 2 but minus the annoying part. A very law-abiding personality.
5 = Very unique and independent, like that person who can pull off wearing plaid with stripes. Marches to the beat of its own drum.
6 = Demure. Soft spoken. Feminine.
7 = My favorite number. Easy going and like #5. Very chill.
8 = The academic who wishes it weren't a single digit number. Wants to distance itself from the others, especially #7.
9 = The diva. Don't cross her because she can be a b*tch. 3 wants to be 9 when it grows up.
10 = The overseer of the lower numbers. Denies its identity as the lowest of the double digits. Conflicted.

Good so far? And so for me, the number 79 is a very strong personality number because 7 won't be manipulated by 9, but 9 isn't sure 7 is cool enough to be seen with.

My spatial-sequence or number form synesthesia is the strongest. To help you understand a bit better, here's a good video.

I see the days of the week laid out in an "L" shape with Monday at the top of the "L" and Sunday at the end of the horizontal line. But I'm always looking at it so that Sunday and the foot of the "L" are sticking up to my right and I read the days of the week side-ways (because they are written as if the "L" were facing like it is when you write it). The days of the week are in connected boxes and they are all colored. However, Saturday and Sunday are slightly longer boxes and part of Friday bleeds into Saturday. I think this is because I know I can stay up later on those days.

Monday = Red
Tuesday = Yellow
Wednesday = Purple
Thursday = Green
Friday = Blue
Saturday = Silver/Gray
Sunday = Gold/Brownish-orange

I also have a very specific spatial orientation to the months in the year. They are arranged in a 3 sided rectangle that is missing one of its long sides. I stand in place of one long side with December to my left, followed by January and February on the short side. March begins the long side opposite me followed by April-August with September beginning the short side to my right. The short side to my right stops with November and there I stand: in the corner of the short side with November to my right, a long gap and then December to my left beginning the other short side. Each month also has a color.

My number sequence is also 3-dimensional. It's at an angle to my left and continues at an angle going up and to my right in front of me. At 10, the line goes straight in front a bit, then at 20 it angles to my right again and stair steps up at each integer of 10 (20s, 30s, 40s, etc.). At 101 it turns the corner to the left at 90 degrees and each number thereafter is in that straight line to the left.

Years proceed in the opposite way. I see myself at the current year, with previous years stepping down to my left, with a slight kink at 1990 so that 1989-1900 bend slightly to the right. Then, 1700-1899 double back on the 1900-1999 line.

I discovered that not everyone has this spatial relationship to numbers, days, weeks, months, and years just this week when a colleague of mine, who teaches AP Psychology at the school I work at, described her lessons about synesthesia and mentioned these various kinds of synesthesia. I told her that of course my days of the week have colors and that I see them three dimensionally in relation to me when I think/talk about them. She diagnosed me on the spot in the cafeteria. I got to be her guest speaker the next day in her AP class.

Are you a synesthete? They claim 1 in 23 people are. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this....

No Charlie Brown Christmas Trees Allowed

Ah, the first Christmas as a married couple. When two people attempt to make 20+ years of two different family traditions into something new and their very own. This could be a very beautiful or a very ugly new thing, depending on the compatability of the respective traditions.

Friends and family, have no fear. You won't hear any bickering in our apartment over white or colored Christmas lights on the tree (they're colored, of course), no arguments about a themed tree or one with a menagerie of beloved ornaments (it's a menagerie of ornaments, no question), and absolutely no disagreement about real vs. fake tree (I did a fake tree last year and about cried. Every day. So it's a real tree this year.) All of this agreement means we obviously did our premarital counseling homework.

But Texas did not do its "Ariel's necessities for Christmas" homework. The list is rather long (and it starts with the lack of snow), but for this post we'll simply focus on the adventure of getting a real, live, fragrant, Christmas tree in the Lone Star state.

My loving and understanding husband promised that we could go pick out a tree two days after we returned from our Thanksgiving trip to Nebraska. I was going to have my tree up and decorated before the first day of December! Things were off to a good start!

First stop that evening was Walmart for a tree stand. We checked out the pre-cut Christmas trees offered there and were appalled to see a total of 6 Charlie Brown Christmas trees (and I mean the Charlie Brown trees before Linus put his blanket around it). Observe:

I promptly turned up my nose and Nic and I proceeded to a Christmas tree farm. In Michigan you can find a plethora of them. In urban Texas you have two choices, both of which are at least 30 minutes away from where ever you live. No matter, my Ford compact gets good gas mileage. Spring Creek Growers, the five-time winners of Grand Champion Christmas Trees of Texas, here we come!

As we approached the farm, I noticed the two "farm hands" helping to bind and load trees into people's trucks. They are in t-shirts. Because it's 65 degrees outside. I zipped up my jacket and pretended to shiver. It made me feel better.

The nice lady at the information shack told us that we could go cut our tree or choose from the freshly pre-cut trees. We decided to check out the cut-your-own trees.

Here is Nic with the measuring pole so you know how tall you are cutting your tree. Apparently, Nic did not see the height markings on the pole, so half way to the trees he asks me "What's this pole for?"

I told him it was for pole vaulting over the trees.

After doing a very scientific and thorough inspection of the trees offered in the field, I declared them unworthy. You only had two tree choices: Leyland Cypress or Virginia Pine. Wimpy trees with not enough branch strength to hold paper snowflake ornaments or fruity trees with swishy looking needles with a poor excuse for pine fragrance.

Back to the pre-cut trees.

And that's where we met "the one." A six foot Fraser with buff and toned branches and a strong pine scent to make you (or at least me) weak in the knees.

Nic might have called it "tree fondling" but I called it "tree love at first sight." It was ours, it was meant to be. We paid for it, had it shaken and bound. Then we took it to our car.

Remember my Ford Escort, my compact car that gets great gas mileage? That's right, that was the only vehicle we had to transport our tree home. Observe the result of determination and Nic's mad skillz.

An older Texan passed us as Nic was loading the tree into the backseat and promptly told him, "Son, ain't no way you're gettin' that tree into that there car." Pa-lease, sir. Just because we're the only ones in the parking lot without a Ford F-150 doesn't mean we can't engineer the improbable. I've seen way more ghetto tree haulin' arrangements than this.

But we drove home under 45 miles/hour, just in case.

The only other bump we had while putting up our tree was discovering that we only owned (and could afford after the cost of the tree, the tree stand, the gas to get the tree..) one strand of lights for our tree. Be honest, does it look that ghetto?

Of course it doesn't because the flash always washes out the lights. Perfect. We can pretend.

The last thing I must mention about our tree is how much love is hung around its branches. There are several personalized and "our first Christmas" ornaments we received as wedding gifts and the skirt was handmade by one of my aunts. Both of our families are with us this Christmas season, even if they are hundreds of miles away. We love you all.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween: A First

Nic and I have a pretty good track record when it comes to Halloween. Granted, this was only our second one together, but two for two is still a perfect record. Last year, he surprised me by deciding on Thursday night to drive the 12.5 hours down from NE to TX to be with me for the Halloween weekend. I love this about him, his romantic spontaneity.

This year, however, was our first Halloween as a married couple.

The Friday before Halloween, we had a small party at our apartment; the first shin-dig we'd ever hosted at our place. It was pretty chill and laid back: four friends from church, pizza, a friend's homemade pumpkin cinnamon bread pudding, and games. Nic and I were almost the champions of  90's Trivial Pursuit game, but were beaten by our friends who were both born much earlier in the 80s and can recall more events from the years 1990-1999 than either Nic or I. However, it must be said that we were the first to obtain a colored triangle in the game, and that I impressed the others by knowing what a FPS is...a First Person Shooter video/computer game, duh. (A shout out to my dad and brother for those endless games of Doom, which made my correct answer possible.)

The weekend was very quiet and the extent of our Halloween celebrations was a Ghost Busters marathon ("there's always room for jello!"). Then there was the Oktoberfest/Reformation Day cook out at church on Sunday, which came complete with a very tough trivia game about all things German/Lutheran/October.

On Monday, I told Nic that I desperately wanted to carve a pumpkin with him for Halloween. We always carved pumpkins at my house on Halloween. My parents have this great video of me as a toddler flinging pumpkin guts everywhere as I dig into my first pumpkin. Winning!

As soon as I got home from work on Halloween, Nic and I headed to Wal Mart. We'd seen pumpkins there just days before and figured we'd get a steal on a pumpkin and the carving kit as they'd most likely be on sale. I must say, this made me very sad to think that our only recourse for getting a pumpkin was to go to Wal Mart. My heart ached for the roadside pumpkin picking of MI!

Tragedy of tragedies, Nic and I walked the entire length and breadth of our super Wal Mart only to discover that THEY DID NOT HAVE PUMPKINS ON HALLOWEEN DAY. Oh, but they were 2/3 of the way set up for Christmas, complete with fake trees and ornaments. I think that this is one of Texas' greatest flaws, that because they don't have seasons, they just rush through them irreverently and without respect.

Luckily, we have a Kroger down the street and I KNEW they'd have them as I'd just been by there days before. But what did we find? That Kroger too had no trace of Halloween decorations, let alone pumpkins. At this point, panic was setting in for me. We had one last spot to check before despairing. The HEB across the street. Surly, if they had organic versions of every herb/vegetable imaginable, they'd still have pumpkins.

Well folks, Here Everything ISN'T Better.

They did have pumpkins, of a sort. They had "pie pumpkins" which were very small and barely worth their $5 to use for carving. But they did have these massive pumpkins, which would have worked just fine, for $25 each. Well, I was not about to pay $25 for an over-sized pumpkin, even if it was organic! I reasoned that with the trends of the other stores, there was no way that this store was going to sell all five of these giant pumpkins for $25 each.

Time to try out my mad haggling skills. I told Nic I was prepared to take these drastic measures for a pumpkin, but I'm not sure he believed me until I was dragging him to find a manager.

Two managers and a checkout girl later and I am trying to work my hard-earned Hillsdale rhetoric skills on a Latnio manager. I explain that we are willing to pay $10 for a pumpkin and that I doubt she will sell all of them for full price before they are rotten.

"I'm sorry, but I don't have that power" she tells me.

BS. I've worked in retail and know that for customer satisfaction you  can make these kinds of calls.

'"Fine. Then we're not getting anything" I reply and storm off with Nic. Perhaps I should have swore loudly in Spanish, then maybe she would have taken me more seriously.

Back at our apartment, I was pouting in the kitchen when Nic came to my rescue. He was holding this mini pumpkin, which was partially spray painted gold, that we had taken from my work's Golf Tournament weeks before as fall decoration. I mean, this thing barely qualified as an over-sized gourd. But, Nic assured me we could still carve our Harry Potter pattern into it.

Score, hubby!

Me, after my rum and coke and Nic's optimism has me feeling a little more...festive :)

 I'm a little over enthusiastic about the pumpkin seeds we're saving to bake. And check out the Harry Potter we had playing while we carved, yup, we're just that into themes ;)
Nic looks practically jolly as he disembowels our wittle pumpkin.
Our original pattern had Harry's whole torso with wand in hand...but we could only fit his head on our mini pumpkin
Despite this look, Nic did not partake in the rum and coke that night
Ta-da! Check out Harry's cranium! 

Thanks to my creative husband we were able to have a smashing Halloween together. We had an adventure that now makes for a fun story. 

Stay turned for a post about this weekend's trip to the Texas Renaissance Festival!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tip On the Tightrope

Balance. Scoot a little to the left, now shuffle what yo' mama gave yah to the right!

I think like most people, I strive for balance. I enjoy hard work, but I don't want to be a workaholic. I like slow Saturday mornings, but I have an aversion to the word "lazy." I think chocolate should be considered the 5th element of the universe, but I'm not of the buffet and 10,000 + calorie/day breed of Americans.

What kind of balance are you trying to keep, or find?

Mine is somewhere between new wife, young working professional, long-distance daughter and sister, future marathon trainer, and 20-something sizing up the possibilities of grad school. All those (and perhaps a few more) dreams to chase...I wonder how many tightropes I'm on? Or maybe it's one tightrope, but with each strand representing a different dream, a different goal.

Something to ponder as I fall asleep...well, if my mind had any room for it after the hubby has just read another chapter of book two of The Hunger Games. Why am I so addicted to young adult fiction!?

But back to my tightrope. My superbly tasteful hermano turned me on to this artist and song today. I think it will be my tightrope song, to be played whenever I've gotten too high, or too low.

Janelle Monae - Tightrope Music Video

I guess I'll just keep walking my tightrope...with a lil' bit of Funk.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Marriage: Curried Goat, Bag Cereal, Zombies, and Redneck Limos

The title of this post could easily serve as the title of my first two weeks as a married woman. It's a title worthy of Neil Gaman or Terry Pratchet, in my humble opinion, and although I'm sure my writing falls far short of their standards, I hope that you enjoy the humor and love Nic and I shared during these choice moments of our first two weeks together as man and wife.

After our fabulously fun wedding celebration, Nic and I flew to Jamaica at 6:30am the next day. That's right folks, we got up at 2:30 in the morning to catch a shuttle at 3:30am, to be at the airport at 4:30am to catch our red-eye flight. Now, if you are under the impression that we were robbed of blissful hours of undisturbed sleep that morning/night, then like us (until we checked into the hotel), you must have been unaware of the Kid Rock concert in town that night. If taking your first international trip with your new spouse in loving cooperation after all of that isn't a true test of yet untried married love, than I'm not sure what is. On the up side, we enjoyed extra slices of our wedding cake for breakfast and survived the sing-along show of our shuttle driver to his favorite country station. All of this now provides good fodder for laughter at this inside joke for Nic and me.

Jamaica was beautiful; we snorkeled, we scuba dived (dove?), did zip lining and a rope swing into a waterfall, and rode horses on the beach. I was also bent and determined on getting Nic to try bag juice, bun and cheese, and curried goat, despite our staying at an all-inclusive resort. My senior year of college, my family and I traveled to Jamaica to build a house as mission work. We became close with some locals and these three things are staples of native Jamaican fare, but they are culinary treats that tourists never encounter. Well, they never encounter because they never ask ;)

Nic and I quickly discovered that if I mentioned my familiarity and quest for bag juice, bun and cheese, and curried goat to any Jamaican working at the resort, that I became their new favorite guest (practically family). Unfortunately, I was told that none of these food products were available to guests at the resort. Psh, like that could stop me.

The first tour Nic and I took off of the resort, I pulled aside the tour guide and inquired if I could purchase bag juice or bun and cheese anywhere on our tour. She was kind enough to have the bus driver wait for us at the end of our excursion to stop into a native store (shack by our standards) and buy bag juice and bun and cheese. The famous curried goat dish persisted in eluding us the entire trip, but I have sworn to resume my quest for Nic to try it, should we ever visit Jamaica again.

Fast forward to our first weekend in Texas and our first grocery shopping trip as a married couple. Some things you should understand. Both Nic and I enjoy good food immensely, we also enjoy cooking together. However, my second marriage is to my budget. If anything should tempt me to cheat the budget, I cut it out of my life (aka grocery list) is better to loose a hand, kind of a mentality.

Before marriage, I could never take advantage of the "buy in bulk it saves in the long run" idea. If I had, the bulk of my savings would have prevented me from fitting into my wedding dress. There is just no way a single person can eat 10 loaves of bread and 12 lbs of chicken breast in one week before they go bad. I don't care how good the savings are! However, now that I am married, I can begin to think like those moms at Sam's Club.

The specific food to be purchased in bulk for myself and my husband: bag cereal. You heard it, two bags of should-feed-a-family-of-four-for-a-week-per-bag cereal is now being purchased and consumed by us. In one week. The only problem? Rationing one gallon of milk to all that cereal. Shiver. Mornings can be a bit tense. I was used to one gallon all to myself for a week (and it usually only lasted 6 days). Now I have to SHARE? How was this NOT in the marriage counseling sessions?

We're working on it.

Note: our newest cereal addiction are Blueberry Muffin Tops. It's basically the cereal version of the surgery muffin toppings on Pillsburry blueberry muffin box mixes. In reference to my new cereal addiction may be the only time I will be ok with being referred to as a "muffin topper." Just don't say it in the presence of my skinny jeans.

The other adjustment to my mornings: the Zombies which invade my apartment every morning at about 6:20am when I am in the bathroom getting ready for work. Nic is an avid player of Plants Vs. Zombies. An incredibly humorous and well-done video game by Pop Cap. There's even a music video:


I now know what kinds of zombies are invading my husband's lawn by the sound of the peas from the pea shooters hitting the unique zombies. The Yettie Zombie is the only one yet to attack. Perhaps Nic will be lucky enough to have one attack his lawn this week while I am brushing my teeth. We can only hope.

And now we are to the redneck limo incident. Nic has been dutifully and relentlessly looking for a job this past week. While in the business office at the club house of the apartment complex, he was speaking to the manager and she mentioned that her husband runs a limo service and that he is hard up for a driver. A few hours later and Nic is taking a 35-40 foot stretch Ford Expedition limo for a test drive. I've been told by Nic that it handles like it doesn't have power steering.

The guy liked Nic's limo handling well enough that he invited him to drive he and his friends around for the evening on Saturday night. Oh, and he could bring his wife with him. Score! I always wanted to ride up with the limo driver - almost as good as riding with the driver of the Disney monorail trains. 

So Nic and I show up Saturday night only to learn that we will be shuttling around a group of 10 very nice and well-meaning Texas rednecks for the night. Our first stop of the evening? You guessed it. Wal Mart. Apparently there wasn't enough Chardonnay in the limo. How un-classy. 

Nic then drove, and I helped navigate, the limo to the steakhouse for dinner while they pre-gamed it and rocked out to 80's music. After a nice slew of cocktails interrupted intermittently by mouthfuls of dinner at the restaurant, the group hit up a bar. Nic and I remained in the limo to digest our expensive dinner, they were nice enough to include us at the meal, and read a book together. The night ended with the group, all of them in their 50s and 40s, jamming to Kid Rock (oh leave us alone!), Tequila Makes Her Clothes Come Off, and Get My Drink On. Despite their dubious taste in music (well, ok I do think the Tequila song is funny), they were wonderful drunk tippers. Maybe Nic and I can get an extra 1/2 gallon of milk this week.

Ya'll ready for week three of marriage? 'Cause this little imp says, bring it on!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Down from the Door Where It Began

May was a month of anniversaries: of journeys started, of Roads followed, of things left behind, and of things still pursued...or chased if I'm being honest with myself :)

One Year Ago in May...

...I graduated from college, watching friends take their own roads and still hoping my feet would find my own.

...I had run my first half-marathon and now I have my sight set on a full marathon or triathlon in the next year.

...I was offered my first post-grad job in Houston, Texas. My loving and 200% supportive family packed me up and moved me down to Texas and into my first apartment in six days.

...I confessed to a young man that he had won me over and I would offer him my heart if he would take the risk with me. This young man, now my fiance, is a romantic and I think he was ready for a little risk and adventure in his life and he promised that he would pursue being my man even if I were to move to Texas and put down roots there. Did he know he was joining himself to a little warrior princess? A little warrior princess with a stubborn streak, a thirst for challenges, unlimited determination, and who likes to consider herself a force to be reckoned with, even if reality shows involving flash mobs and proposals make her cry? If he didn't then, I believe he does now. He still tells me he wants me to be his wife. I could not be more joy filled.

...I joined a church on my own, without the network of advice and shared joy that I left behind in Michigan.

All of these anniversaries, and other smaller ones that perhaps only I can appreciate after looking back and realizing I survived my first year on my own as an adult in this big world, bring to mind God's watchfulness and His love in that watchfulness. I could never have made it to this one year anniversary of those many things without His will, support, guidance, and grace.

I know I have the weak tendency to rejoice and have great faith in my own will and determination ...but let me assure you! I know and can see that this year, like every year of my blessed life, was the Lord's year. They were His triumphs. My prayer for this next year is that (Nic and) I would continue to seek a year following God.

Now! All of this happy reminiscing doesn't mean that this past month hasn't also been a big month for new changes in life.

New this May...

...I got an insulin pump! I am now officially connected to a mechanical pancreas which has changeable, artistic skins, better controls my blood glucose numbers and allows me to eat snacks guilt-free! I know, you're jealous. And if you're not jealous already, you will be when I tell you that it vibrates. A-huh.

...I  bought my first pair of sunglasses since I was 10 (remember those cheap Ray-Ban sunglasses in neon colors? yup, those). Better yet, I like these sunglasses and they look good on me. You may be asking, girl, how hard can it be to find a decent pair of sunglasses? For me, hard.. Thanks to my narrow face and current fashions, everything looks like bug eyes on me. I had resigned myself to having to fork over a serious wad of cash for some designer pair that would suite my face, or continue to squint and drive blindly into the rising sun on my way to work...but no, the pair for me was to be found at Target for $16.99. They would.

...Nic is officially starting to move his things into my, correction our, apartment! Even when he's not here, I like to share my space with his things.

...In a few short days it will be exactly two months from our wedding. You may have expected more blogging about the whole wedding planning, I haven't forgotten that my last post was back in February marking the engagement. But, I'm finding that I'm more of a keep-it-confidential/personal-I-don't-give-a-flying-fart-what-you-think-of-my-wedding-colors kind of a bride. That being said, I am very excited about the special day and lifetime with my two families and close friends. Of course, whenever I begin to feel light headed with bridal giddiness, I'm reminded of how many documents, government records, business cards, driver's license, and credit card papers I'm going to have to change and re register for with my new last name....but, but, you mean I have to go back to the Texas Department of Safety and stand in line for 4+ hours to get my new license/voting record? But, but I did that only a year a go!

But you know what? It's gonna be ok, it's gonna be ok because Nic will be standing there with me for those 4+ hours. And maybe he'll even help me with credit card service phone trees and government run-arounds by feeding me his amazing blueberry scones and hold my hand tight.

Yes, it will be worth it. It already is.

And I can keep singing, "The Road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can, pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Because I Can't Tell This Story Enough

Because nearly all of you are my close friends and/or family, I doubt you missed the texts, phone calls, or Facebook posts announcing that last Friday my boyfriend asked if I would do him the honor of becoming his wife and I said yes. But I know that many of you would like details on how the whole event went down - squeals, giggles, meatloaf and all. And because I get swept off of my feet everytime I tell the story, I'm gonna indulge us both. Nice how that works out, eh?

To begin.

Nic (my now-fiance) and I had planned for him to fly down last weekend to visit. I asked for Monday off as a personal day so that we could have a long weekend together. He told me that he had purchased tickets for a flight that would arrive at 8:24pm Friday night. I took a babysitting job that afternoon after work, partly for the money and partly because it would help kill time before he arrived. I know that if I had stayed in my apartment that whole time I wold have tested the durability of all surfaces to withstand the 100th time of me bleaching, cloroxing, or lysoling them. Yes, I am a compulsive cleaner. In the words of fair Bess, judge me. But back to our story.

Nic texted me throughout the day, as usual, reporting on the progress of his day and his whereabouts. He told me when he was at work, when he left for lunch, when he arrived at the airport, when he was about to board the plane - the works. I, in turn, told him when I picked the kids of up from school, when we went for a bike ride, and when I was headed back to my apartment.

Because Houston traffic on a Friday at 5pm is like molasses in winter, the mom was running late so I didn't leave their house until well after 6pm. I texted Nic that I was headed home, but first I had to pick up some drycleaning (which, by the way is wallet rape and next time I think I will leave the peanut butter stain on my skirt, thank you very much!).

I live on the third floor of my apartment building. I had just spent 3 hours riding bikes, playing soccer and basketball with youngsters. So, I arrived at my door sweaty, panting a little, and carrying at least six things up from my car.

Insert key.


Open door.

And see boyfriend dressed in suite and tie holding a rose and surrounded by candles? WHAT??

Oh, you better believe it sister. My romantically sneaky boyfriend had actually left Nebraska at 11pm Thursday night and had driven to Houston. All the while keeping up the pretense via text that the he was still in NE and then in the airport. He was aided by my mother, who knew all of this and played along as she chatted with my on Yahoo IM (should I be worried they work so well together in tricking me?).

Nic had arrived at my place a little after noon and began to set up his surprise evening for me. He rearranged and decorated my living room by buying new linens for my table and setting it with my grandma's wedding china, putting blue and green colored pebbles (the color theme for the night  - yes, there was a color theme) in small bowls with floating tea light candles, having roses in a vase on the table, and putting nine other candles (one for each month that we've been dating) in glass holders leading up to him as he stood waiting for me.

But that's not all folks.

He had also spent all day making us dinner. My favorite dinner.

He spent 5.5 hours on a chocolate cheesecake complete with oreo crust, he had gotten my mom's meatloaf recipe and made me meatloaf (a first time attempt for him), garlic mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and of course champagne to drink.

After letting me change and freshen up and just before we ate dinner, he  took me around the room to show me all of his decorating skills. Lastly, he handed me a few pieces of paper.

Hold up, I think ya'll need some history about us to understand this.

Before we were ever dating, we had made boyfriend and girlfriend resumes - just for fun. I thought it would be funny to write a resume mimicking the format of my business resume, but for a potential boyfriend. Well, it was a hoot and probably should have tipped us off that we were meant for each other when things started matching up on both of our resumes. Ok, flash forward back to the blue and green themed room with a dozen candles smoldering away....

He hands me several pieces of paper stapled together. The opening sentence:

Objective: To illustrate my love and admiration for you in the hope that you will do me the greatest honor of becoming my wife.

Yes, he had made a husband resume for me. Of course, I didn't get an further than the objective before I started beaming, laughing, hugging him and saying yes. Then he very loving asked me if I would wait and let him ask the question, where he then got down on one knee and asked if I would do him the honor of becoming his wife.

Well, I had already said yes but I repeated it for him, followed by more hugs (and maybe a few kisses) and he slipped the ring on my finger.

And hot damn, the ring! Well, in my honest opinion it's so wonderfully and beautifully "us" that I already feel it's an extension of me.

Some pictures for you:

My diamond and turquoise ring. Nic helped design in with the jeweler.

One of the engagement photos a friend took for us. This one probably won't make it onto any of the Save the Dates because it's showing a bit more of my leg than is prudent for such things....but I love it just the same :)

A fun side note to Nic's proposal: he joked afterward that he wanted to propose before we ate the meatloaf in case he ruined it...well, he did a superb job. I would have said yes especially after eating his cooking :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thank My Lucky Leg Warmers Wal Mart Still Believes in the 80s

This weekend I had the opportunity to do some fashion archeology. An activity that is right up my alley.

Saturday, there was a surprise 30th birthday party for the Vicar at my church. As he was born in '81, it was to be an '80s themed party and us party goers were encouraged to dress the part. A chance to dress up in vintage duds bordering on costume? I couldn't resist. The challenge combined some very Impish elements - I had to be creative on a budget, I had to delve into fashion history (I secretly still aspire to be an archaeologist and work for National Geographic...), and ultimately I got to indulge my theater side and parade around in a purposefully outrageous get-up.

I had two sources of information, "text books" if you will, on '80s fashion in mind when I set out to assemble my ensemble: VH1's "I Love the '80s" and You laugh, and I would have too if I wasn't afraid of the arms on the mothers who were doing serious shopping for their daughters right next to me.....but I'm getting ahead of myself.

As I strolled into Wal Mart and headed for the clothing section, I began to mentally assemble my ideal '80s throwback look: some stirrup pants or black leggings, leg warmers if they were to be found, a neon colored tank with an over-sized and possibly cut-to-pieces sweatshirt, some neon jelly bracelets and other, bulky, geometric jewelry. I was prepared to think of creative compromises in the event that I was unable to acquire any of these pieces. However, although Wal Mart regularly doesn't carry the basic spices, herbs and vegetables I need for my cooking recipes, the '80s are alive and well, thriving even, in their clothing department.

My fashion archaeological dig turned out to be a walk in the park. It was as if Tutankhamen's treasures were lying  atop the  local sandbox. No digging required.

As I picked out my leggings, shirts, and obnoxious jewelry, I was repeatedly overcome with the desire to turn to my fellow Wal Mart shopper and explain that I wasn't buying these things as a part of my usual wardrobe....they were for a party, really. But, I quickly noticed that most of the other girls in the young women's clothing section were selecting similar tops and bottoms but with the clear intent of wearing the items in all seriousness to school.

It was probably a good thing I kept back all of the cracks I wanted to make at Wal Marts "current line of fashion." I might have made someone cry. And it probably would have been me, after one of the girl's mothers decked me for insulting her daughter's wardrobe choice.

After making my selections, I quickly scuttled to the produce section of the store. Here again I felt prompted to explain what was in my shopping cart to every mother I passed in the isle....but these impulses, I think, were more justified. These were the mothers with the Prada purses, Lucky Brand jeans and Gucci sunglasses.

Only at my Wal Mart could I mingle with the fashion elite and the fashion backward at the same time.

I'll have you know that my ensemble was a success. I had a hair stylist friend tease my hair into rat's nest of a side pony tail and cake on the purple eye shadow.

                                                          A picture from the party.

                                     A later picture of the entire outfit. PS my camera adds 75 lbs to everyone. Seriously.

The party was a success as well. Vicar's wife is a great hostess and a great party-thrower. There was '80s music, '80s trivia, '80s decorations and even '80s candy!

The appetizer that won us all over was....wait for it....bacon wrapped bread sticks rolled in parmesan. Drool.

The challenge now will be to incorporate the separate elements of my '80s attire into my everyday style. Challenge accepted.