Friday, August 1, 2008

My Husband Rocks! Friday 8/1/2008

At the wedding shower my aunts Ola and Dot hostessed for me, all the attendees wrote advice on little pieces of paper for me. My aunts collected them and put them in a little book with each person's photograph from the shower next to their advice. I love this little book of wisdom from my family and friends, and I re-read it often. Doing this post each Friday reminds me of the advice my mother wrote, "Tell only the good, and forget the rest. No one needs to hear the bad." Or something similar, but that was the gist of the message. I don't have a perfect marriage or a perfect husband, but writing this post each week (even though I've only written one twice), helps me focus on the good things.

Last week, I told you all that he cleans, but I didn't tell you that he cooks, too. And not just grilling, he loves to make pasta dishes, homemade pizzas, different kinds of garlic bread, and soups, just to name a few. He's a whiz with grilling and barbecue, too.

In the last few weeks, he's been cooking a lot while I apply for jobs or take a nap or get a pedicure, and it's been great. He made a blackened chicken pasta with sun-dried tomato garlic bread that he saw Guy Fieri make on the Food Network, a seafood chicken alfredo that he dreamed up and a sour-cream/chive/garlic bread. He's discovered a love for basil, and has been mixing it into our salads--yum! Most of what he makes is just flying by the seat of his pants, tossing whatever he finds in the cupboard, fridge, or freezer together, and cooking it all up. It usually turns out to be delicious! He's not one for measuring or precision, but his kind of cooking is nice and fun for him and my tummy. It's nice to know that if I ever break both my arms, he can keep us fed without relying on Domino's, Taco Bell, McDonalds, and the Big Chicken!

So, my husband rocks for many reasons, one of which is that he cooks!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Betsy!

My precious, precocious first niece, my baby, is turning 6 today. I can't believe how fast she's grown. She was born 2 days after I got married, while I was on my honeymoon, so our meeting was delayed a little. From the moment I saw her, I was completely in love. She's a beautiful young girl, and smart and funny. She loves being the center of attention and being a big sister.

Until she was about 2, she was scared of MSH. He's so tall and has a deep voice and picks on her. Then, something changed and she decided that she loves MSH and loves for him to "get her". He is her jungle gym and a constant source of fun and amusement for her. She always asks to talk to him on the phone when I call. Daddy told me the other day that she loves to talk so much that when she runs out of true stories, she starts making them up.

She's such a sweet girl, too. Like I did with my aunts, she always wants to see what's in my purse, to have her face made up with my make up, and to use my lotion. Of course, I always let her, just like my aunts always did. This past Christmas, I took her Christmas shopping to buy gifts for her grandparents, sister, and parents. She picked out gifts with enthusiasm and real consideration for what each person would like. She picked out a French Soap for my mother, which I explained was soap from France. She later told everyone that she bought my mom "Soap of Ants". She even made sure to get something for her cousin Richard, even though he wasn't on our list.

Less than six too short years ago, she was my belly-baby in a bonnet. She still has the same big blue eyes, but she's lost the baby rolls. Now, she's a tall, slender beautiful girl, full of creativity and spunk. I can't wait to tell her that we're moving to Georgia and that we'll be able to see her much more often.

Happy Birthday, Betsy. We love you. From Uncle MSH and Aunt Me.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The imperfect wife

I'm terribly, terribly ashamed of myself and my husband. If you've read any of my blog or if you know me in person, you know I love my husband, and I know I love my husband, and I know my husband loves me. But yesterday, yesterday, I'll never live down yesterday. You see, I forgot and he forgot that yesterday was our sixth anniversary. I feel lower than low, lower than I've ever felt, terrible really because it never even dawned on me. I talked about it 2 weeks ago, then we spent 5 days in Georgia, looking at houses, and we forgot. I'm a week off, I keep thinking that it's last week, but that's no excuse. I'm just lame.

Yesterday afternoon, we're sitting at Firestone, waiting for an oil change, when MSH's dad emails him. MSH checks his blackberry and sees that his sweet father has wished us a happy anniversary. At which point he informs me that it is our anniversary, and I have to start laughing to cover the fact that I'm crying. I mean, crying in the greeting card aisle at Wal-Mart is one thing, but crying at Firestone without a huge repair bill looking you in the face is completely unacceptable. I can't believe it.

So, to celebrate, we had lunch from McDonald's. Later I made a peach cobbler, because peaches are MSH's favorite and I'm trying to use up all the food in the house before we move. And for our big anniversary dinner--frozen lasagna, well it was frozen when we bought it, I did heat it up before we ate it.

I think my need to explain things like that is my father's influence. He would have responded to that statement with "Why would you eat frozen lasagna? Was your oven broken? Even if it was, you could have let it thaw first. You must have been really hungry." or something similar. This type of thing usually resulted in a big eye-roll from me or my brothers, followed by a "Da-addy" and further unnecessary explanation, so in order to preempt this, we learned to fully explain every detail before he had a chance to get us. Looking back, I think it was funny, but at the time, I found it exasperating. But I've always been completely in love with my Daddy, exasperation and all.

OK, I admit, that was a little bit rambling and tangential, but that's just who I am.

This photo was taken on our honeymoon. I apologize for the quality, it's a scan of a low-quality copy of a snapshot from a roll of film that was x-rayed 17 times. But, you get the idea. It's one of my favorite pictures of him. What a handsome man I have. When my Granny met him, her first observation was, "Well, he's a tall somebody, ain't he?" Yes, Granny, he is a tall somebody. And six years into this life together, I'm glad to have this "tall somebody", everyday.

Today, I don't feel quite so bad, mostly because I'm an indignant person, and MSH keeps trying to make me feel guilty by pointing out that he remembered first. To which I respond that being reminded by your father is not the same as remembering. So, because he's trying to make me feel guilty, I actually don't feel as bad because I'm all about being a rebel, sometimes.
So, Happy Anniversary, MSH! I may have forgotten on the date, but I've never forgotten how much I love you. I am thankful for every day of the last six years and look forward to at least 60 more. And, I forgive you for forgetting our anniversary, and from this point forward, I'm going to chalk it up to living in the moment and not dwelling on the past because that makes me feel better about myself.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My Husband Rocks! Friday

I know I missed it last week, but we were up to our eyeballs in house-hunting. We did find one, but it's not quite a done deal yet, so I'll wait until it is to share. Plus, today is about MSH and another reason why he rocks.

The photos in this post have nothing to do with the post other than MSH is in them, and I love the way he interacts with our nephew, Richard, in these pictures. MSH had fallen asleep on the couch at my brother's house, and Richard, upon hearing him snore, had to go and investigate. So, he crawled into MSH's lap, waking him in the process, and they hung out for a little while.

On to why MSH rocks! He really helps me with so much. We both work, full time, so it only make sense that we divide the housework, too. It's not exactly always 50/50, but it's close, and there are days when he does more than I. I really started thinking about this earlier this week.

I mentioned something about him putting groceries away to one of my co-workers, and her response was, "You let him put the groceries away?" My response was, "Of course, he's perfectly capable of putting items into the refrigerator." This wasn't the first time we'd had an exchange like this. Then it sort of hit me, there are all these women out there who don't get help around the house, either because their husband's just don't do it or because they don't trust their husbands to do a good job.

MSH is an intelligent person, and he cares about our home being clean. Is it spotless all the time? Of course not, but we don't live in filth, and I don't spend all my spare time cleaning. Is everything done exactly the way I want it? No, but it's not all done the way he wants it either.

I mentioned to my mom a while back that I wanted to stop using the disposable Clorox wipes to clean the counters, so I had to get MSH to start using a dishrag on the nights that he cleans the kitchen. She told me that if I had a husband who would wipe down the counters, I should let him use what ever he wants. It just reminded me how lucky I am. (We did stop using the wipes, though, and he didn't mind at all.)

I recently started a new cleaning schedule where I do a little each day, Monday through Friday, and have nothing left but the dishes on the weekends. He's jumped on the bandwagon and never looked back. I've always appreciated how much he does at home and even brag on him every chance I get.

My husband rocks for many reasons, one of which is that he cleans!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And finally, we have lift off!

After spending the last 2 months wondering if MSH would be offered and accept the job in Georgia, then waiting for the Army to give us our Permanent Change of Station orders, then waiting for our travel orders to be approved, we're finally heading to Georgia tonight for our house-hunting trip. I know y'all just heard about the move last week, but this has been stressing me out since March!
MSH had to take off work today to meet with the folks who handle the moving, so I've left the packing for this trip up to him since we didn't actually find out that we're leaving tonight until this morning. Here's hoping I don't spend the next 5 days in platform heels and hot pants (not that I acually own any hot pants, but you never know)! See y'all next week!
Here's a little something to keep you smiling

Aren't BK & Ivey growing up pretty?

PS Have you noticed my love of the parenthetical expression(I think it stems from my love of sarcasm) and my fondess of the word "so". I am so going to have to work on that.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My Husband Rocks! Friday

I've joined the My Husband Rocks! Friday over at Katie Lin's blog The Great Adventure. So here's the first installment and a big announcement.

My husband rocks because he got a new job in Marietta, GA. This means that we're moving back to the real south August 15th! I'm so excited. This is the something I promised to tell you about a few weeks ago when I told that I was trying to keep MSH from climbing the walls and chewing his fingers to nubs. It's another government job, and the government moves so slowly. The main reason for my lack of posts lately is that the anxiety about this has been drinking all of my creative juices. That, and this is the only thing I wanted to write about, but couldn't lest some one in my office found out before it was official. I know he just took a new job a couple of months ago, and it really pained him to have to tell them that he's leaving so soon, but this is what we've been working for since we moved away in 2004.

So we will now be about 2 hours from our families. We will be able to buy a house with a yard maybe even one with a pool or on a lake. We will be able to send our future child(ren) to daycare if necessary for a reasonable amount of money. We may even be able to afford for me to stay home with our future child(ren) in a few years.

We're hoping to take a house-hunting trip next weekend, and that it all goes well because we will have less than 30 days to find, buy, and close on a house. So my excitement is tinged with a lot of apprehension and stress, but balanced with so much happiness and relief. Now, I just have to tell my boss.

So, my husband rocks for many reasons, one of which is that he's bringing me home.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, MSH

The previously promised photos are up!

This is the blog I intended for today, but the tomato thing was on my mind. But this one will be on top, so hopefully, it will get all the attention it deserves.

Today is My Sweet Husband's birthday! I love this guy more than I can tell you. He's kind and smart and funny. He has strong moral convictions and a big heart, oh, and he's cute too. Even when he does this:

Stepping in front of my camera while I'm trying to take a photo of a blooming cherry tree, saying, "Oh, what, were you trying to take a picture of something?". Butthead.

But, I love him because even though he does these things, they're funny and he's adorable. He's always been adorable. Just look at this and tell me I'm wrong.

This picture makes me want to have 15 babies that look just like this. I can't look at it very often because the neighbor upstairs calls and complains that the ticking of my biological clock is keeping her awake and scaring her cat every time I do.

Oh, and don't tell him, but I'm giving him a party as his gift this year. I've taken all the decorations and plates and cups and balloons, etc. and put them all in a big box that I've wrapped with a note inside telling him about the party. I'll give it to him tonight at dinner. I've had such a hard time keeping this a secret. It's not that I'm afraid that some one else will tell him; it's just that I get so excited that I want to tell him so that I can see his reaction. Hopefully we'll be able to dance at the party because he's always had killer moves. See.

I told you he's cute. And this picture makes me want to have 4o babies, so I never look at it. I wrote this whole post with my eyes closed so I wouldn't have to look at it. Because if I look at it, the seismic activity caused by the ticking would register on the Richter scale.

I love you, MSH. Happy Birthday!

From Me

Scary Foods

So, as you may have guessed from this blog, I love food. Especially, homemade, fresh foods. But, I just have to ask, what is going on with all the contaminations of fresh vegetables? Of course, I'm talking about the tomato scare that's going on right now and the spinach fiasco from last year. It breaks my heart, especially the tomatoes, my favorite of all the veggies--although technically it's a fruit. If it smells like a vegetable, tastes like a vegetable, and is grown from a plant, it's a vegetable in my book. But, I digress.

Vegetables are supposed to be a symbol of all that is healthy eating, a beacon of hope in the grocery store filled with sugary this and fat-laced that. In the last few years, we've seen huge beef recalls, E. coli infested spinach, and now tomatoes with salmonella. When will it end? Unfortunately, we don't have a yard to grow our own food in, and even if we did, my thumb is black as midnight--My Sweet Husband does all the plant-tending around here. Luckily, my favorite indulgence, the cherry tomatoes, have been spared, but how is a girl supposed to make a decent salad without tomatoes, and how is MSH supposed to enjoy his shrimp burritos without pico? The tomatoes growing on our balcony have started fruiting (is that the word?), but the tomatoes are still tiny and green and probably unfit for human consumption. So until this is all sorted out, I'm going to be encouraging our cherry tomatoes to act like big tomatoes and hoping that our tomato plants are bountiful and quick.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Recipe Review: Salsa Lime Chicken

OK, I know my posting schedule has grown a bit wonky lately, but I've been trying to keep My Sweet Husband from climbing the walls and chewing his fingernails to nubs--I'll tell you all about that some day soon.

At any rate, I do have a recipe for you--with photos--of a dish I made a week or so ago. It's based on Applebee's Fiesta Lime Chicken, formerly known as Tequila Lime Chicken. I never found out why they changed the name, and I worked for Applebee's at the time of the change. But, I was just a waitress and bartender; they didn't consult me about marketing decisions very often. MSH calls it "That Cheesy Chicken" which totally confuses me because the overwhelming flavor in this dish is not cheese, it's salsa, and I make a couple of other cheesy chicken dishes that have much more cheese than this one.

Here's what you'll need for 2 servings, but it's easy to increase for more:

2 chicken breast - or whatever cut you prefer
1 lime, cut in half and reserve 2 slices
1/2 cup sour cream or ranch dressing
1/2 cup salsa
1/3 cup shredded cheese, I usually use cheddar, but I had this Mexican Melting Cheese on hand
Spanish, Mexican, or Yellow rice
1 can corn, drained (I don't use this because MSH can't eat corn)
Tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips (optional)--We had chips & salsa as an appetizer that day, so I didn't bother with this, but I usually do for an additional texture.

Here's what you do with it all:

1. Start cooking the rice according to the instructions on the package.
2. Squeeze limes over chicken breasts. It helps if you poke holes in the chicken to increase the absorption of the lime juice. Set aside for at least 30 minutes. If you want it really limey, you can marinate this overnight.
3. Mix salsa and sour cream or ranch dressing.
4. Brown chicken in a skillet. You don't have to cook them all the way because we're going to stick them in the oven soon.
5. Transfer chicken to an oven-safe dish. Top with reserved lime slices.
6. Cover chicken with salsa mixture.
7. Bake at about 350 for 20 minutes or until chicken is done and no longer pink in the center.
8. Top with cheese and return to oven for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
9. If you're using corn, mix it with the rice and let it heat up while the cheese melts.
10. Serve chicken beside or over rice. If your rice is on the side, that's the perfect excuse to spoon the sauce over it. Top chicken and rice with tortilla strips.

Here's what it looks like when I make it.

Here's what I made while I waited for the chicken to bake, because "I like pina coladas" and it was about 150 degrees in my kitchen. I swear the kitchen is the hottest room in our home.

Make this, eat it, and enjoy, but be prepared for your family or significant other or cats or your own tummy to ask you to make That Cheesy Chicken at least once a week!

By request from my sweet SIL Amanda, I will be posting a review for a dish I made Friday evening next.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Swap-bot teaser

So here's a clue about the item I'm making for the Crafty swap:

That's all until my swappee receives it.
Also, I've gotten 9 of the 10 blog links. Once I get them all, I'll post them here because I'm all about broadening your horizons.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I joined and signed up for 3 swaps initially. I can already see how this can get addictive. I got the idea from visiting Suzy's blog and seeing her apron swap results. So, I searched apron swap on Google and found swap-bot. Now, I didn't find any currently open apron swap, and I still haven't gotten my sewing machines into working order, so I didn't sign up for anything too heavy. Plus, a lot of the swaps shun newbies, I guess because of the high flaking percentage of un-rated users, people looking for free stuff without ever returning the favor.

I signed up for the "Send some Blog Love" swap--easy enough, I just emailed 10 people my blog links and will receive 10 blog links to visit. I've received 6 so far, and I can foresee hours spent pouring over their archives.

I joined the "Craft lovers begin your crafting" swap and already have an idea for my swapee and have been contacted by my swapper. This was a no-brainer for me. I'm always making things with no purpose for it and no one in particular to give it to just because I like to make things. With a real recipient in mind, this will be more fun.

And, I enlisted in the "Ratings Booster #2" swap because it was the first one I saw for newbies. We haven't received our partners yet, so I haven't decided what to get/make for this one, but I'm supposed to mail 3 things to 2 people and receive 3 things from 2 other people.

The whole point, I think, is to share with people that you otherwise wouldn't meet, and to try to send them things they would like. I'll keep you updated on how things go.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ich Habe Genug

"Ich Habe Genug", the title of a cantata by Bach, it's a German phrase meaning, "I have enough". Although the cantata is about a disdain for worldly life and a yearning for death to expedite the reward of heaven, I've been thinking about all the earthly connotations since I read about it on a blog a few weeks ago. I've come to realize that I need to apply the philosophy of
"I Have Enough" to my life more.

I'm so caught up in the things I want, the things I hope for, the things I pray for, that I often forget to see the things I have.

I want to move back closer to our family, so usually I don't notice all the cool things that we can do because we live so close to DC.

I want to move into a larger home, so often I don't realize how easy it is to clean this one.

I pray that we have children soon, but I need to cherish this time I have with MSH all to myself.

I hope for a better job, but the one that I have provides a good income and little stress.

I have this list of desirables on the side of my page, but truly, I have everything I need. The things I don't have just force me to be more inventive in my approach to solving problems.

I should always remember, that despite all the things I want I have a loving, kind husband, a wonderful family-including my in-laws, a good job, a nice place to live, expendable income, more food than I need, more clothes than I can wear, beautiful days, a sharp mind, nimble hands, talents, creativity, and potential. Ich habe genug.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm Still Alive, I Promise

Just wanted to let you all know that I'm still here and alive. I'm working on a big post with lots of photos, and my laptop is fighting me all the way. So, hopefully, I'll have it up before 2090.

I've also been working on ideas for MSH's birthday next month. I've never really had a party for him, and our home is too small to host one. Therefore, I've been trying to come up with ideas on where to have an inexpensive get-together. I've also been researching cakes and found this flip-flop cake that I can make, but instead of flip-flops, I'm want to make it look like Birkenstock sandals. If you have any suggestions for candies that will look like the brown suede straps on sandals, please leave me a comment. I'm a little bit wary of trying to make them out of fondant considering I've never used it before.

MSH is settling into his new job, but he's had a run of bad luck lately. eBay canceled his auction for a DirecTV receiver because DirecTV told them that he was selling proprietary information. It took him most of the day on Saturday to get that straightened out. He was sick on Sunday and couldn't help me with laundry and grocery shopping and doing the dishes (okay, so that was my bad luck, too, but he was really suffering). Then, last night, he dropped his brand-new 15-day old Blackberry less than 3 inches. Unfortunately, it hit the corner of the table at just the wrong angle and cracked the screen.

I'm getting used to driving the 5 miles between his office and mine with only a couple of unfortunate incidents last week. It's been raining buckets here the last few weeks. There've been flood worries because the ground is so soaked, so I'm looking forward to some sunshine and 80 degree weather soon, even if I have to make it myself! So keep checking back for the big post--it's about a time that MSH surprised me big time, but that's all I'm going to tell you.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Recipe Review: Tropical Tornado

Summer's approaching; I can feel it. Despite the recent way too chilly temperatures around here, I know it's coming, and I'm longing for umbrella drinks. Recently, we stumbled upon a new one on the back of our Captain Morgan's Pineapple Rum bottle. It's called a Tropical Tornado, and it made me wish I had a hollowed coconut, an umbrella in my drink, and my toes in the sand.

Here's the recipe:

1 oz Captain Morgan's Parrot Bay Pineapple Rum
1 oz Captain Morgan's Parrot Bay Coconut Rum
Splash of Grenadine
Orange Juice

Fill glass with ice. Add rums, grenadine, and orange juice. Stir.

That's it. Now, I'm warning you about this drink. It's what I call a "sneaky drink". It tastes so good that you don't realize how fast you're drinking it or how much alcohol you're consuming until you try to stand up after your sixth one and your legs don't work. But, if all you have to do is sit on the beach all day and occasionally flip to keep your color even, then that's OK. If that's not your situation, then do like I do and keep a close count of what you've drunk. MSH loves 'em too.

**Please drink responsibly, even if you are on the beach with nothing else to do but flip occasionally.**

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reason # 854 Why I Love MSH

He's such a sweet nerd. I mean that in the best possible way. I'm a nerd and always have been, but he's grown into his nerdiness. This quality became quite apparent today when I saw an invitation he sent to some of his friends to celebrate his last day.

Subject: Drinks tomorrow after work?

I'll buy the first 2 rounds if you'll drink'em...with or without EtOH.
Your choice.
Thursday(tomorrow) 4:30 till 6
RSVP ASAP so I can call in reservations

EtOH = Ethyl Alcohol or booze. How adorable is that? Of course, the email went to a bunch of scientists, so it was appropriate. Just seeing that brought a smile to my face.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Recipe Review: Grilled Polenta with Shrimp & Escarole

Grilled Po-What? with Shrimp and Esca-Who? This was an early experiment using I had never tasted Polenta or even heard of Escarole, but it looked interesting so I decided to try Grilled Polenta with Shrimp & Escarole. I figured that polenta would be kind of like grits, and I love shrimp and grits, but I was a little wary of the escarole. Well, my wariness would never really be put to rest. My grocery store doesn't carry escarole, so I substituted collard greens. Otherwise, I followed this recipe to a tee, except I halved it since it's just MSH & me.

Well, my daring cooking style paid off on this one. The dish is fabulous. The only thing I'd recommend is salting the polenta. Also, the polenta is a little difficult to grill, so I've also made it by browning the polenta in a skillet. I feel that it would be easier if I'd used the George Forman Grill to grill it. I've made it with and without the olives, and it's superb either way. Now, we always have frozen shrimp and canned diced tomatoes and garlic (even if it is sprouting), so the only things I had to get especially for the dish were the collards and polenta. The earthy greens and sweet shrimp, tart tomatoes and olives with the creamy, slightly charred polenta was perfect, especially for seafood loving southerners like us.

If you can get escarole and try this recipe, let me know what you think of it. Otherwise, the recipe says that you can use spinach and I say that you can use collard greens. This dish was pretty easy and quick and required very little preparation. If you like shrimp and southern food, this is a great recipe for you, too.

Well, I think that's all the blogging I'll be doing today. I feel better now that I've typed up the things I've been longing to share with you all since last weekend.

Happy (Belated) Birthdays, Chip & Amanda!

During the week of sickness, I failed to recognize two very important events.

On the 6th, my brother, the middle child, turned 29. Chip is hilarious, and like most middle children, loves being the center of attention. Here he is below with our cousin Matt at our cousin Will's wedding this past February. Chip is the one making the monkey-face. I searched all over my hard drives and couldn't find a single photo of him making a nice face. So, here he is, in his natural state. Although he tormented me while we were growing up, we've become great friends, and I love him. Happy Birthday, Chip, from your favorite sister.

And Mandajo, Richard's wonderful mommy. Her birthday was on the third. She's married to my baby brother. She's the one of the sweetest women in the world and always has such a positive attitude. People tell me that the reason that Richard is such a happy baby is because he has such a happy mommy. Mandajo just started a new job with my mother-in-law, and it seems to be going great for her. This is a great career move for her and such a wonderful opportunity. Congratulations and Happy Birthday. Love you, bunches!

Happy Birthday you two, have fun celebrating with Mama & Daddy on Sunday. I wish I could be there, and I miss you all.

The Hoovers Come to Washington

As you know, the good doctor has been here for a couple of weeks, and last weekend, his wife and children drove up to visit. On Saturday, we agreed to show them the sights and take them to the museums on the Mall in DC. First of all, it was a gosh darn BEAUTIFUL day. Warm and sunny with a nice breeze, the only complaint was the pollen count, and the only complainers were the doctor and MSH.

We started by getting tickets for the Washington Monument and the Holocaust Museum. For some reason, the nine-year-old was very excited about the Holocaust Museum. After getting bumped to the special short line for members and government employees at the museum, we got tickets for 11:30; our Washington Monument tickets were for 12:30. We went ahead and toured the children's section of the Holocaust Museum and made our plans for the rest of the day. For some reason, we were all starving at 10:30 in the morning, so we walked down to the Old Post Office and had lunch. The kids found a photo kiosk where they could pose while shaking hands with George W. Bush, even the good doctor posed for a shot. They also found a little electronics/souvenir store. Somehow, their dad got out of there without spending ALL of his money.

Next we stopped by the Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaurs, then dragged the kids up to the top of the Washington Monument, through the World War II Memorial, and the Lincoln Monument. Their favorite part of this particular spot wasn't the huge statue of Lincoln or the interesting items posted on the inside of the building, but rather a portion of the top level where it looked like, when they jumped down to the next level only a couple of feet below, that they had actually jumped 20 feet down to the ground below. We also stumbled upon the newest memorial, the Korean War Memorial with the wall engraved with "Freedom Isn't Free."

Finally, we made our way back to the Holocaust Museum. On the 3rd floor, which is the second level of the tour, there is a video. MSH, the good doctor and Mrs. Doctor watched the video, while I tried to keep the children from seeing the more disturbing parts of the exhibit. Apparently, the video is so disturbing and graphic, the good parents decided not to subject the boys to the rest of what could potentially have been a traumatic visit for the children, so we hightailed it out of there and went back to the safety of the Natural History Museum to see the monkeys and rocks. After spending about 7 hours downtown, we headed back to the apartment the doctors have rented for the month and changed for dinner at Positano's, one of our favorite restaurants ever. MSH and TGD had the cioppino, Mrs. TGD had the chicken parmesan, and I had the best veal I've ever tasted. The chef made a special spaghetti and meatballs for the boys and we all shared appetizers of Eggplant Bruschetta and White Pizza. After dinner, we walked to the Ben & Jerry's for dessert.

All-in-all it was a wonderful, fun, beautiful, sweet day, but the best part of all was the J-boys. Here they are posing for me. See how blue the sky is and how cute those guys are? Oh, I just wanted to keep them.

This is J1; he's eleven, and he's totally one of the coolest kids ever.

This is J2; he's 9. He's so smart and kind.

And this is J3; he's 5. He's absolutely adorable and so sweet.

Now, I think that J1 connected more with MSH because MSH is cool and manly, but he was still really sweet to me and included me in all the fun. J2 & J3 became my attachments on the trip, each holding one of my hands, picking dandelions for me to wear in the button holes on my shirt, and wanting to sit next to me at dinner. J3 even gave me one of the rocks he collected on the Mall to remember him by. All 3 had the cutest stories, sweet dispositions, curious minds, and awesome personalities. They will all grow up to be heart-breakers.

Thank you to TGD & Mrs. TGD and the J-boys for sharing your weekend with us.

The Good News

So, a few weeks ago, I mentioned at the end of a post that I might have some good news in a few weeks. Well, I have it. It's not the great news I was hoping for, but it's the good news that was also a possibility at the time. We didn't win the lottery, get pregnant, or make plans to move back to Alabama.

But, I do have good news. MSH got a new job. It's basically the same as his old job, just for a different government agency about 5 miles from where we work now. The difference is a slight increase in pay, greater promotion potential, and a better work environment. He's really excited, and so am I, but I have to admit that I will miss working with him, knowing that he's just a short walk down the hill, being able to have lunch with him anytime I want. We'll still be able to commute together, as far as his office, but I'll have to drive the few miles between our offices by myself. Luckily, I'll be able to take mostly residential roads with a couple of local thoroughfares and won't have to try to battle the beltway on my own.

So, he starts on Monday; his last day was yesterday. We celebrated by having lunch together, then meeting some of his now former co-workers for dinner and drinks at a seafood restaurant where they sprinkled their hush puppies with *gasp* powdered sugar! MSH told the waiter that where we come from, some one could be shot for such an offense. I know that MSH will miss the friends he made and being so close to me, but this is the best opportunity for him. They've even told him that if he does well, they'll look to move him into the position to run the place in 5 to 8 years. I'm exceedingly proud of him; he's doing all the right things to put us in the best position to start a family and have a successful future.

So this is my big news. Later today, I plan to have a recipe review and a recap of our visit with the good doctor and his family, plus photos of those oh so cute & sweet J-boys.

Oh Blog, I'm sorry I've been gone so long

I'm sorry I've been gone so long. We went out to DC and Bethesda on Saturday with the good doctor and his family. As soon as we got home that evening, MSH and I fell straight into bed and went to sleep. I woke up Sunday morning, sick. Stayed home from work on Monday, sick. I went to work on Tuesday, sick. I really started feeling better yesterday, but MSH and I met up with a bunch of his co-workers for dinner and drinks after work yesterday and went straight to bed when we got home last night. So today, I vow to post two or three fat posts for you all. I don't have any photos of food to show you with my recipe review because I was too sick to cook all week, but I do have photos of the doctor's son's, the J-boys (their names all begin with J) and some good news. But, the biggest thing right now is, I'm not sick anymore!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Recipe Review: Tex-Mex Summer Squash Casserole

One of the first dishes I made from was the Tex-Mex Summer Squash Casserole with some chicken dish I don't remember which because this side stole the show. Now, I'm not really fond of spicy foods despite my Southern upbringing. So, I left out the jalapenos, but if you like that sort of thing, go right ahead and make them. MSH asked for seconds, and thirds. I was a little reluctant to make this because I was unsure about the combination of squash and salsa, but MSH said, "Woman, salsa goes with everything!" So, I made it.

If I hadn't, I would have missed out on a delicious side dish. The cheese and salsa are a classic combination, but the squash adds a freshness and a lightness that keeps the dish from sitting in the bottom of your tummy like a rock. And, the salsa wakes up the standard, sometimes boring squash casserole. It is a little time intensive, but if you have time to prepare and bake, it's a great side dish that'll knock your family's socks off.

Sorry, no photos of this one; I haven't made it in a while. This week was filled with leftovers and standards that I've posted before. Tomorrow we're heading into the city to guide Dr. Hoover and his family; his wife and sons are coming up to visit. Also, I found a new store today while out to lunch with my boss and office mate--Zara. My boss bought this shirt that I would have gotten had she not snapped it up first. I may have to go back and get and make sure that I never wear it to work. I may have created a shopping monster!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Another Shopping Confession

I have another confession about shopping for you. I have shopping cart OCD and conveyor belt OCD. I have to place all the items in straight rows in the cart as I shop. I also prefer to have everything in a single layer; I don't like to stack things in the cart, but I will if I have to. I also have to put everything in straight rows at the checkout stand, and if the counter has and angled arm that narrows the stream of groceries reaching the clerk, I have to make my rows as narrow as the narrowest part so that my rows are maintained up until the moment the clerk scans and bags the items. I hate seeing the person in front of me spread out along the entire width of the belt only to wind up with their bread smashed against canned peas. Shopping with MSH, who does not have shopping cart OCD, requires that I re-position all the items he puts in the cart. I'm sure it drives him up the wall, but he and most of the store clerks react by simple shaking their heads and chuckling softly. I just wish my OCD would manifest itself in other ways, like in my purse or closet or refrigerator or car and so on, and so forth.

This morning while I was scrolling through all the recipes in the comments on the latest Pioneer Woman contest, I caught a twinge of a new type of OCD--recipe OCD. I want to copy all the recipes, format and organize them, and publish and bind them into a book. It was all I could do to actually spend my day working and not making a cookbook.

MSH is obsessive about flossing; he even carries around a floss card in his wallet. It's the size of a credit card, but a little thicker and filled with dental floss. Unfortunately, his OCD only makes him more wonderful and the favorite patient of most dentists and mine makes the clerks at Wal-Mart laugh at me. What are you obsessive about?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Shopping Fun

Normally, I deplore shopping of almost every kind, but I had a great time on Saturday at Kohl's. Maybe my sense of style is changing, or maybe the clothes being made now are more like what I've been looking for all these years, or maybe I should have been shopping at Kohl's all along, but for the first time ever, I actually found more items that I wanted than I could purchase with a clear conscience.

I also usually have a rough time dealing with other shoppers and store employees, not with people in general, just with other shoppers and store employees when I'm shopping for clothing. I mean, I'm a nice, well-adjusted person, but something about shopping for clothes, turns me into a quivering mess. It makes me want to hide in a corner and suck my finger and cry. MSH usually has to pick out every item I try on because I just can't handle it. I don't know why. I wasn't always this way. I used to be able to go into any store, pick out what I liked, try on everything, make my selections, and check out. I also hate buying clothes online. If I can't try it on, I don't want to buy it because I am always, inevitably, disappointed. I never really LOVED shopping, but I could do it. Now, it's almost a phobia, or it was until Saturday.

MSH had flown to Atlanta to pick up some authentic Auburn jerseys of Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams that he bought (don't ask), and I was in need of some spring clothes. I had been wanting to go to Kohl's after seeing some of their sale ads and looking at their clothing online, so I just went. In the parking lot, I kind of started getting that dread, that realization that this always goes badly for me, that feeling that I should just go home and wait for MSH to return. But, I fought the urge to turn around, put in my earphones, turned on the music player on my phone, and ventured inside. I think I spent 3 hours combing the racks, trying things on, making decisions. I only called my mom once, and it was just to ask if I should get the green & brown or pink & brown dress. And I did it; I bought the dress, a skirt, 2 pairs of shorts, 2 shirts, a pair of capris, and tennis shoes. I earned $30 in Kohl's cash and couldn't wait to go back yesterday to spend it; I wasn't even upset that I'd have to exchange the shoes because the pair I bought only had one shoelace (exchanging or returning items is worse than the initial shopping for me). I wound up getting another shirt and let MSH use the rest of it on stuff for himself.

Here's what I bought, minus the Docker's khaki capris because I couldn't find them online.
Here's the dress: (I got the green)
A Shirt (in aqua)
To go with this skirt (aqua, too)
Another shirt (in pink)
To go with these (in mahogany)
Some shorts for the weekends
A fushia striped polo:
Also, new walking shoes, the mostly white ones. I bought them at Kohl's though.

I felt such a sense of pride and accomplishment. Isn't that crazy? Of all the things I have that I can be proud of, I'm most satisfied that I could complete one shopping trip. Unfortunately, I can't wear any of my new clothes until Thursday at the earliest. It started raining last night and has turned chilly. The next test for my new-found bravery--the outlet mall...Duhn, Duhn, Duhn.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Recipe Review(s): Cookies

Wow, I can't believe how un-bloggy I've been this week. From busy days at work to staying up late making cookies to participating in a medical study, I've just not been feeling like spending more time in front of the computer. I also don't have photos of the recipes for today's posts because I didn't start the cookies until 10 pm and didn't have time to deal with the camera and all the cookies.

So first I made a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Eating Well website. First, I was thrown off by the small amount of sugar in the recipe, then I saw that it had cream cheese. Cream cheese is one of my favorite ingredients. I can also eat it straight, but MSH usually insists that I at least put it on a Town House cracker. He says that it at least suggests that I have some class. The cookies turned out light, airy, almost fluffy and not very sweet. The 8-year old girl, GG, who came to our office for "Bring Your Child to Work Day" ate at least 8 of them, so the lack of sugar was not a bad thing according to her. I thought the were pretty good, too.

Next, I made an alternate version, Bev's Chocolate Chip Cookies from the same website. Now this recipe uses whole-wheat flour and ground oatmeal. Since it was almost 11 when I started this batch, I didn't grind up the oats. Well, because it was nearly 11 and because I love oatmeal cookies, I didn't grind the oats. Maybe because I didn't grind the oats, the chip to batter ratio was a little too high, so these cookies had a hard time sticking together when I dropped them on the cookie sheet and a few fell apart after baking as well. Despite their difficulty holding up, these were my favorite cookies. The whole wheat flour didn't make them heavy, as I had feared. Rather, they were crispy and buttery and a little sweeter than the first, but not overly so. Next time I need to clear the chocolate chips out of my freezer, I'll make these, but I'll increase the batter to oats and chips ratio. Yummy.

Finally, there where the Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips from The first batch out of the oven were too soft and a little undercooked, so I increased the cooking time to 10 minutes for the next batch. These were better, but still a bit too soft. The final 2 batches, I left on the foil to cool overnight. These were perfect, still soft, but not falling apart. This recipe also makes more than 36 cookies using my teaspoons to measure them out. I actually was so exhausted by the time I finished the last 2 batches, I put the remaining batter (about enough for 8 more cookies) down the disposal. These were good, and the flavor was very brownie-like, and they were a little too sweet for me. However, they were the favorites of GG's older sister HG and most of the other people in my office.

So, all 3 recipes were a hit, but I preferred the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip above all others. There was also an adorable little blond boy who broke my heart. When I offered him a cookie, he looked my offering, turned up his nose and said, in a cute Italian accent, "I'm quite sure that I hate choc-co-lot!" He couldn't have been more that 5 years-old. I almost cried, but then he smiled at me, and my heart melted, and I forgave him instantly.

Have fun baking!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


It's been raining since Sunday here, but they're saying it'll let up today. I'm really tired of all the grey around here lately, but at least the rain has turned everything a beautiful shade of spring green. Something about rainy weather saps my energy and makes me want to sleep. Is it because there's no sunlight to reduce my melatonin production in the morning or some left over instinct to stay in the dry cave during bad weather? I don't know, but I need some sunshine.

We've been busy the last few days. MSH's college buddy, Dr. Hoover, and one of his colleagues have come to town for a course at Walter Reed. They arrived Saturday evening, so we spent all day Saturday preparing for their arrival. MSH grilled steaks and made bacon-wrapped scallops, shrimp, and water chestnuts. I baked a few potatoes and made a peach cobbler (from a mix). After I had all the ingredients together and in the pan for the cobbler, MSH and I freaked out a little because of all the liquid in the pan, so we scooped a bit of the excess liquid out--mistake. It wasn't dry, but it wasn't as moist as we're accustomed to. Of course, that didn't stop us from eating it all. The guys rolled in around 8:30 or so, and we ate a late dinner and watched a boxing match. Well, they watched a boxing match; I mostly spun around in my chair and stared at the ceiling. I did catch enough of it to determine that Bernard Hopkins is a cheater, but he lost anyways.

Sunday, I got up and puttered around the house for a while, tried and failed to get MSH out of bed to make the Boston Butt we'd promised our friends, and generally waited for the guys to get it together. We met them for lunch at Fridays and headed into the city in the pouring rain. We had hoped that the rain would hold off so that we could go to the free concert on the Mall, but that didn't happen, so we settled for the Natural History Museum. Luckily, we were the only people with that idea. That was sarcasm, but I guess you can't hear it through the computer. We spent a couple of hours there, until it closed and headed back home while our visitors went in search for a reasonably priced grocery store near their apartment. We napped.

Yesterday, on the way home from work, My Sweet Husband decided to stop by the grocery store and pick up a couple of things (Cokes and toilet paper). I swear he was only inside for 34.7 seconds, but he came out with 3 bags of stuff, including Salt & Malt Vinegar Utz Chips, a box of lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, shredded Mozzarella and Provolone cheese, and a few other things I didn't see before he put them all away. He had seen the noodles on sale and decided that we should have lasagna for dinner, so he bought the other things we'd need. He also remembered that he'd promised Hoover & Windham that he'd buy the chips for them to try, so he got those, too. Who knows what else he bought or why, but he must just run through the store on his long legs (he's 6'2") and scoop everything into the cart like that show where the kids got to run through the toy store and fill as many carts as possible with all the stuff they wanted. Man, I wanted to be on that show! Does anyone remember the name of that show? Oh yeah, I go off on tangents a lot. Anyways, we got home and made lasagna and MSH cooked that Boston Butt. MSH also broke into the bag of Chips, but I can't really blame him, they are SOOOOO hard to resist.

With all this food prepared, I probably won't have to cook for the rest of the week, unless we can get the hungry doctors to come back. So, I may have to do a recipe review this week without photos. I'm waiting on the replacement part for my sewing machine to finish the napkins, so in the meantime, I've started back on the needlepoint poppy, and I'm crocheting a string bag for shopping.

The grey is slowly changing to blue outside my window, so my mood is lifting. Plus, the people I work with just gave us chocolate cake, and I'm a little buzzed from the sugar.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Recipe Review: Chili-Rubbed Tilapia with Asparagus & Lemon

One of our new favorite dishes that's perfect for these warm spring nights is Chili-Rubbed Tilapia with Asparagus & Lemon. It's light and fresh and easy, perfect for when you don't want to spend all night in the kitchen or eat a really heavy meal. I love fresh asparagus and just about any kind of fish. Sometimes, I leave out the lemon juice when I make this for a little bit of variety. Here's what it looks like when I make it. I halve the recipe and usually have enough for MSH and me with a few pieces of fish and some rice left for me for lunch the next day. I also cut up the fish into smaller pieces so that they don't fall apart when I turn them.

You may have noticed that I don't use the spice the recipe calls for either. I use this:

If your local grocery store doesn't carry this, you can buy it here. I suggest you do so because it's really good on most fish whether you saute, bake, or grill it.

Also, that side of rice, it's not rice, it's risotto, and it's evil; you should never make it. But if you do, you will dream about it, and your sweet husband or wife or whoever will beg you to make it over and over. I just follow the directions that come on the container we buy at the store. It's easy, but time consuming. It requires almost constant stirring for at least 30 minutes, but it's worth it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Today in Pictures

I have no excuse. I just don't have a decent photos of my new haircut. Maybe in 2011.

Today, I do have a chronicle of my day in photos.

First, after lying in denial for 20 minutes, I got out of bed before dawn. It's just not fair.

I decided that Spring is here, and I'm wearing sandals, finally, even if it is 44 degrees this morning!

Then, I rode into battle with MSH. Not that I helped; I put on my make-up, but I rode into it.

I worked.

I tried to take photos of my haircut on my lunch break.

It didn't work.

We rode back into battle again.

I wondered what kind of tree this is.

I bought a replacement part for the sewing machine my office-mate gave me since mine gave out.

I worked on this.

I cleaned up, watched TV, and went to bed. This is my typical work day. What's your day like?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Misconceptions of Youth

Sorry, I still don't have a photo of my new haircut; by the time I got around to taking a photo, I had worked all day, ridden home with the windows open, gone to the tanning salon, and eaten dinner. I no longer have photographable hair, but I do have this photo that I thought about while hearing the weather report this morning around 5:30 am. They were predicting a low of 29 tonight, and this is what flashed into my less than awake mind.

No, it's not a postcard or cheesy backdrop from Olin Mills; this is the actual view from my balcony when it snows. I don't know if I was hoping to wake up to this tomorrow so I wouldn't have to go to work or hoping that it doesn't happen because I deplore cold weather so much. In our home, "snow" is the 4-letter s-word. Either way, it's a moot point because they've changed the forecasted low to 41.

Last week a friend of mine posted a blog on her myspace account where she listed 10 random things about herself, then tagged 10 people to list things about themselves and tag 10 more people. So I put up my list, but I don't think that it was good enough to repost here. There were a couple of things that I couldn't seem to let go of, things about what I used to believe as a child. I'm not talking about the Easter Bunny or Santa or the Tooth Fairy; I'm referring to those beliefs that I came to using my own logic.

The one that I find most interesting is that I believed that airplanes caused jet streams and that if all those planes would just quit flying in the same places everyday, then we wouldn't have to deal with the bad weather caused by those pesky jet streams. I knew that jets were big planes, and I had seen the planes make jet streams in the sky, you know, those white lines of smoke or steam that sometimes trail planes. So when I heard Rich Thomas talk about the jet streams bringing the storms or the cold fronts, I naturally assumed that he was referring to the white lines behind the planes. It did occur to me that airplanes shouldn't really have that much affect on the weather, but there was no other reasonable explanation.

One of my dad's favorite things I got wrong is that I thought that a small amount of something was called a tab. That was around the time that I was still trying to find my verbal style, so I was repeating phrases I'd heard, and I'd heard, somewhere, some one ask another person if they wanted something. That's a really confusing way to say that I'd heard my dad, for instance, ask my mom if she wanted some water and she'd replied "Just a tad." I guess Tab soda must have been pretty popular at that time as well, so I believed that mom was saying that she wanted "just a tab", meaning just a little bit of water. So for a while, whenever any one asked me if I wanted something, I'd say "Just a tab."

I also believed the things that many kids do. I believed that my dad was the strongest man in the world, my mom was the prettiest woman ever, my Uncle Bob was 8 feet tall, and all my Pa-Paw's stories were true. I believed that brothers were put on this earth for the sole purpose of tormenting their sisters, that younger brothers (and most other people) should do as I said, that my brothers were the best in the world (I still believe that), and that my brothers were more spoiled than me. The fact that all those beliefs were contradictory mattered very little because I rarely believed more than one at any given moment. I may not have even thought to believe it then, but I believe now that I had one of the richest childhoods in history and that I couldn't have been more loved.

Leave me a comment with some of the funny stuff you (or your children or grandchildren or whoever) believed as a kid because I think this sort of thing is just too much fun.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I lost 5 pounds in an hour!

I got a haircut! So did MSH.

Unfortunately, my camera's battery is dead, so I can't show you until tomorrow. Technically, I could show you later tonight, but the charger is in the car, and I don't want to go downstairs to get it. Plus, I know that I won't be getting back on the computer tonight after I post this blog, and I'd hate to promise you a photo, then not deliver.

We got our haircuts (hairs cut?) on Friday afternoon at our local salon. Since we've started working together, we do almost everything together. MSH said that he felt like we were 60 years old because getting a haircut together is something like his grandparents would do. I could think of a million couples like whom it would be worse to be.

Not much else that I can tell you for now, but I may have more news in the next few weeks. We'll see.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday Crafts: Cloth Napkins

I know, I'm a day late with this, but my sewing machine decided to give up the ghost yesterday. Despite my pleading and cajoling, it just wouldn't cooperate, so I think I'm going to have to take it to a repair shop or break down and buy a new one. So, this project is not complete, but I wanted to share what I have done.

In my quest to become more environmentally and budget conscious, I've decided to make cloth napkins. They are quite simple. Just cut out squares about 1/2 inch larger on all sides than you intend the finished napkins to be, turn each side under 1/4 inch and stitch, then turn each side under 1/4 inch again, and stitch.

I cut out all my napkins. Here are four that are made from striped and patterned cloth. I'm just going to hem the edges and use these as they are.

On the plain cloth, I decided to embroider our initials on them. I haven't washed these to remove the markings for the embroidery because I haven't hemmed them yet. Once the sewing machine is back in order, I'll be able to wash away the errant markings. First, I made a set using a thread that is similar in color to the napkins for a tonal look. I used a stem stitch for these.

Next, I wanted to use some color, so I made a set in blue, still using the stem stitch.

Finally, I was tired of the stem stitch, so a made a third set in green using backstitching.

Hopefully, I'll get the machine fixed soon so I don't have to finish these by hand. I also have several other half-done projects that require the machine. Until then, I'll be working on the needle-point poppy I've been working on for ever.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Recipe Review: Pumpkin Bread

This past fall, we started entertaining friends a little more often, and to show off, I started making new dishes. One day, I made a White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake. After our friends left and we finished the cheesecake, I still had leftover canned pumpkin. So, I went to RecipeZaar to find a use for this pumpkin. I hated to throw it away. Well, I found this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Bread and decided to try it. Am I ever glad I did! This recipe makes 2 loaves, and I usually have enough batter left for a mini loaf for MSH.

First, it's easy. You just mix it up, pour it in the pans and bake it. Second, even if it didn't taste good, I'd bake it just for the way it makes my house smell. Third, it's delicious! It's like a spice cake with a hint of pumpkin; it's so moist and flavorful, perfect for a fall or winter, or even early spring treat. It's great just by itself, but if you put a little cream cheese frosting on it, oh man. It's Katy-Bar-the-Door good. Here's what it looked like yesterday when I served it yesterday.

Of course, there was more made than would fit on the platter, so I had to have a piece to make sure I wouldn't poison everyone.

I felt guilty about eating this whole piece, so I gave half of it to a co-worker. Then, I felt that I needed a reward for sharing, so I added some frosting. Now this frosting came from a can, but considering I was up until 11 the night before making the bread, I wasn't in the mood to try to make frosting, too. Plus, there's nothing wrong with store-bought frosting, sometimes I eat it straight from the tub.

Be still, my heart...

Now, go make this because it's easy and delicious, and if you share it with anyone, they will love you instantly!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Nannie!

Wow, another one. But, if you think this is a lot of birthdays, wait until January.

Today is MSH's grandmother's birthday. We call her Nannie, and she is one of MSH's biggest fans. Of course, MSH absolutely adores her, too. They always have something great to talk about. Nannie loves MSH so much that she attended our wedding against medical advice. She had blood clots in her legs, and the doctors wanted to admit her to the hospital. She flatly refused, saying that her grandson was getting married and she was going to be there. So, she told them, they'd better figure out something else. Once she makes her mind up, there's no changing it, so the doctor gave her some medication and strict instructions to take it easy and come back first thing Monday morning. If we had known, we would have insisted that she take care of herself, first, but we wouldn't have been able to convince her either. Well, maybe MSH would have; she does tend to listen to him when she won't listen to any one else.

MSH captured these shots from some old home movies they recently had burned to DVD. Each family member received a copy at Christmas this year.

Nannie has got to be one of the neatest women I've ever met. She married Papa and moved all over the world with him. They lived in Japan and the Caribbean and all over the US. They retired to Alabama, and Papa had a second career from which he retired years ago. When MSH was a little boy, he and his family lived just down the road from Nannie and Papa, and he would ride his bike to go visit Nannie. She's devoted to her family and friends and church and has a great sense of humor. And she's a beautiful part of our lives. We love you, Nannie.

MSH & Me.

PS Thanks to my new readers for leaving comments. They make me very happy. Also, I've put the recipe for the German Sweet Potato Pies in the comments for that post. Happy Baking! And tomorrow--Pumpkin Spice Bread.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How MSH and I became MSH and Me

It's been 2 whole days since I posted anything, but I'm here now. I was feeling a little under the weather on Monday, then spent all day Tuesday catching up. I'm sure you know how it is.

Yesterday, I posted a comment on Pioneer Woman's blog (she's my inspiration for starting this blog) hoping to win a William's Sonoma gift card (I didn't; Darn you random number generator for not coming up with 44!!). Anyways, as a result, I have had a flood of new visitors, or at least a puddle of new visitors, in the past 24 hours. I don't know why, but I've become obsessed with checking my account to see how many people visit my site and where they're from. I can't see names, but I can tell when my mom or two of my aunts visit because I know who their ISPs are and where they live. Also, since the three of them live in pretty small communities and use less popular ISPs, they are easy to spot. But the rest of the visitors are my mysterious audience, and I love an audience.

On to the topic for today: How MSH and I became MSH and me. Please note that all conversations recounted here are verbatim as far as I'm concerned. We were in ninth grade together, but we didn't know each other then. It was his first year at the school (it was Jr. High; 7th-9th grades), and he was one of the cool kids, and I was (am) a nerd. I wasn't even aware of his existence, and I'm sure he was not aware of mine. I don't know how we never met back then; the school was rather small, and we knew all the same people, just in different contexts. So we had to wait almost 8 more years before we'd have a chance to meet again. So, here's how it happened.

My beautiful friend Dalton and I were waiting tables at a restaurant in my hometown. We'd only met a few months earlier but were instant friends, just add water and PRESTO! She decided to have a housewarming party in August of 1999, so of course, I was there. She and MSH went to high school together, and once you're a friend of MSH or Dalton, you are never forgotten. So, of course, he was invited there, too. We were introduced and had several conversations throughout the night and a couple of card games with various groups. He was there with several friends, some of whom had names I recognized from my Jr. High yearbook, and they were involved with some of the conversations to varying degrees and in different combinations. Before too long, I knew, I really liked this guy, and I'd really like it if this guy would ask me out or something. He was tall and handsome and smart and funny and interesting. He looked so cool in his unbuttoned Abercrombie plaid shirt; somehow he pulled off long sleeves in August in Alabama without looking strange. But then, tragedy, the words "my girlfriend" fell from his lips like an atom-bomb on my hours-old crush. He had a girlfriend. I felt the hot sting of disappointment paint my cheeks pink and chastised myself for being so silly. I admit, I allowed the conversation to peter out, and we finished our card game. I left the kitchen to hide in the comfort of the company of my friend Dalton, never mentioned the event to anyone, and assumed it was over. As I'm sure you've guessed, it wasn't.

Two days later, at the restaurant, my friend Dalton comes in grinning. Dalton has a big smile everyday, but this one was different, bigger and sly. She had that I've-got-a-secret look in her eyes, and she was almost exploding with the prospect of telling me something. I thought she'd met a man or won the lottery, not that Alabama has a lottery, but never the less. She starts out, casually, "So, do you remember that guy, MSH, that you met at my party."

I'm thinking "Oh, crap, was I that obvious, how could he have known, I didn't say anything stupid, did I?" In that nanosecond between her question and my leery response, I replayed every moment with him and every word I said, searching for any clues that I may have let slip my irrational instant infatuation and my subsequent disappointment. Nothing. I answer, "yea", trying to sound just a casual as her. I don't think it worked. For one thing, I wasn't able to look him in the eyes after she mentioned his name, so the whole conversation is taking place while she looks at me in profile and I look at her out of the furthest corner of my eye.

She goes on, "Well, he called me the day after the party and said 'So, what's the story with your friend?'." I felt my whole head turn red; my ears burst into flames and started ringing; and I used every ounce of self-restraint I have ever possessed to keep myself from jumping up and down. Then I remembered the vilest words I'd ever heard, "my girlfriend", and died. Then I came back to life just in time to hear her say "I told him that you were a really great girl and he said 'Do you think she'd marry me?'." I fainted. Not really, I've never fainted. But, on this occasion, I did almost pee my pants, my vision grew dim, and the ringing in my ears jumped another octave and a half. She continued, "I told him that he should ask you out first." I was utterly stunned, nearly speechless, and didn't believe a word she said.

My ability to form more than one syllable at a time returned, and I uttered the only sentence my feeble brain could come up with at the time, "But, I thought he had a girlfriend." Her reply changed my life forever. "Oh, he does, but he's about to break up with her. The only reason he hasn't yet is that her birthday is next week, and he didn't want to be the jerk who dumps a girl right before her birthday. So, after he breaks up with her, he's going to ask you out, okay?" I managed to say "okay" and maintain consciousness throughout the remainder of my shift. Every day after that I looked for him to walk through the door, any door I happened to be near; I imagined seeing his tall figure, silhouetted by the street lamps, stroll through the restaurant doors. I half-expected to see him leaning against my car every time I left the place; I fantasized about him being behind every door I opened. Days passed, weeks. He never showed up. I didn't know what to do. I'd fixated on him so wholly that I couldn't imagine what would happen if he didn't come around. I was irrational; I felt like a crazy woman who builds relationships with people she's never really met. I could see how insane I was being, but I had no ability to stop myself.

Finally, on the worst possible night, he appeared, in the green room with a bunch of his friends to shoot pool. It was Parrot Head night, so I was wearing a sleeveless mid-riff bearing Hawaiian print top with my hair in two ponytails. When I saw him, I wished that I could turn back the clock and return to the time when our uniforms were flattering black vests over long-sleeve black button-down shirts and black skirts. I wished I'd done something more adult with my hair; and I prayed for a shirt that covered my belly button. None of those wishes came true. Instead, the prayer I'd prayed for weeks did. We talked for a little while, but I had work to do, so I had to keep leaving. Finally, he met me at the front of the room, away from his friends, and asked me if I'd like to go out with him. He was so calm and cool, and I had sweat huge puddles in the past few minutes. I, of course, accepted. I said something that I know was remarkably dorky, even for me, but I can't remember what it was. I do remember that my vision had dimmed again, my ears were ringing, and I'd made 5 trips to the bathroom to pee since he'd arrived. Whatever I said prompted him to explain that he'd waited so long to ask me out because he didn't want to be one of those creeps who asked me out in the restaurant, but finally he realized that there was no other place to ask me out because Dalton wasn't having another party until Christmas and just showing up someplace where he knew I'd be seemed even more creepy. So, that's how our story begins.

I'll tell you more of our story later, like how I knew I wanted to marry him, the time he kept that really big secret, and other important or insignificant tales.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Happy Birthday,Richard!

We have another nephew turning 2 this week. So, both our little guys are 2 now, no longer babies. They're both turning out to be sweet little guys who will drive all the girls crazy in a few years.

What can I say, I love this kid. He's such a ham. He loves to sing and have his picture taken and play with his cousins. He's going to visit Thomas the Train today and had is birthday party at Chucky Cheese last week. His mom and dad sent me a video of him singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", then he randomly breaks into saying hi to me and kissing the camera.

I told you he's a ham!

We love you, Richard! Happy birthday!

Uncle MSH & Aunt Me.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Saturday: No Crafts, Pies

I didn't make anything this week, so I was going to post photos of some small doilies and coasters I crocheted a few months ago, but then I found this photo and couldn't stop laughing. So, I decided to share it with you.

First, the intended subject is the two German Sweet Potato Pies I had just baked. They aren't made from sweet potatoes, and the recipe isn't German. They are made from a squash called German Sweet Potatoes. We grew the squash on our balcony from seeds given to us by MSH's grandparents. You cannot buy the squash in any grocery store that we've found in Alabama, Virginia, or Maryland, so you either have to grow them or obtain them from some one else who grows them. Our three plants only produced one squash, so our stock was supplemented by Nannie and Papa and a couple they go to church with. These pies taste like a custard pie with a slight pumpkin or sweet potato flavor and has the consistency of a sweet potato pie. MSH can eat a whole pie and still want more. They're THAT good; they're beyond good; they're SUPERB!

Unfortunately, I hadn't read Pioneer Woman's blog about photography, so I used a flash. I also wasn't paying attention to how I was framing the photo, so you can also see my kitchen sink and some dirty utensils and my laptop and my toes. The counter between our kitchen and living room is quite high, so I'm standing on a stool to get this shot.

Maybe I'm the only one who finds this picture humorous, but now it's up here for all to see. So, if it makes you chuckle, I'm glad I could bring a little smile to your face.

If you want the recipe (You can substitute pumpkin or sweet potatoes, but the flavor won't be quite the same), leave me a comment and I'll send it to you.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Recipe Review: Shrimp Creole

This is one of MSH's all-time favorite dishes. He calls it "That Good Shrimp Stuff" when he requests it for dinner, and he requests it often. I love the spiciness and buttery shrimp mixed with the acidic tomato sauce. It's very hard to show any restraint around something like this. I got the recipe from The Betty Crocker Cookbook: Bridal Edition.There are a million and one (or more) versions of Shrimp Creole out there, but this one works really well. I don't know which version of the cookbook it is; they release a new one every few years, but we got married in 2002, so it was the one that was on the shelves then. Thanks to MSH's Aunt Becky for the book!

Caution: Unsolicited Product Endorsement Follows. If you know anyone who is getting married or moving out on their own for the first time or might ever cook anything, this cookbook is the greatest gift you can give. The recipes are good, but the real highlight of the book is all the information it contains. There are directions on how to cook almost anything in many different ways. There are substitution recommendations and instructions on how to chop, dice, mince, how to de-bone a chicken, how to peel and de-vein shrimp. There are illustrations showing where each cut of beef and pork come from. I could go on and on and on about how much there is in this book, but you just have to check it out.

Now for the recipe--Easy & quick, but every one will think you're a gourmet chef.

2 lbs. raw shrimp, in shells *I use the ones that are 41-50 ct. per pound and cut each in half*
1/4 c. butter
3 medium onions, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 medium green bell peppers, finely chopped (2 cups)
2 medium stalks celery, finely chopped (1 cup) *I never have celery on hand, so I just leave it out.*
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup water
2 tsp chopped fresh parsley *I never have this on hand either, so I use dried or leave it out*
1 1/2 tsp salt *Since I never have celery, I use celery salt.*
1/4 tsp ground red pepper, cayenne
2 bay leaves
1-15 oz can tomato sauce
6 cups hot rice
**I also add white pepper and black pepper (about 1/4 tsp of each), and MSH dashes his liberally with hot sauce.**

1. Peel and de-vein shrimp (and cut them into smaller pieces if you want). Cover & refrigerate.
2. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender. (I forgot to photograph this step).
3. Stir in remaining ingredients, except shrimp and rice. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered 10 minutes.
4. Stir in shrimp. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are pink and firm. Remove bay leaves. Serve shrimp mixture over rice.

Not only is the flavor of this dish absolutely out-of-this-world delicious, it's really pretty healthy. To make it even healthier, you can use brown rice, but MSH hates the stuff! Since there are just 2 of us, and MSH has no self-control when it comes to this dish, I always make half a recipe. It's quite easy, I just halve the quantity of everything (except the spices) and cook it up!

Here's what it looks like when I make it.

Please disregard the drops of sauce everywhere. I'm a pretty messy cook.

Also, please don't be like me when it comes to your garlic. We love garlic in our house, but somehow we wound up buying some and losing it in the refrigerator, then buying more and forgetting that we lost some until one day, I was digging in the vegetable drawer and found this:

I almost fainted. Then I thought to myself, "Self, could you plant this and grow your own garlic? You need to Google that and see." Then I forgot about it, so this is currently living on my kitchen counter.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be garlic-neglecting cooks like me.