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!