Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tidbits

Round up! Here's the latest scoop. In my life. It's not all together the most interesting of things, but this is my space to share both the main events and the tidbits. This is my little .com space of self-expression. Come as you are and let's share some ice cream!

Anyway, here we are dressed as Brazilians for the Olympics opening ceremony.

Snowing in Brazil...

Why Brazilians? Well. I have no clear answer. It was a 'go where the spirit leads' kind of thing.

Secondly, my dear friend Natalie got married! We live t-minus 4 blocks from the church and reception venue - it was a treat to just walk down the road to her beautiful wedding. No cars, planes, trains or buses. Amaaaazing! She is currently in Greece with Mr. Hubby. I drool.

The Brains, the Beauty, and the Bobble Head




We also got to catch up with Becca and Joe and Molly and Lee J! It was such a joy seeing B and Mipster. Going through life with these women is seriously a gift I never stop unwrapping.

What do you do when you are the end person in a pic? Molly played it cool with the hand-in-pocket move. I had no pocket. So I've the got the "I dunno what to do with my arm" look. I remember intentionally thinking about not propping my arm on my hip because let's be honest, it looks contrived. But let's be honest again, I look weird. C'est la vie.  



Here was the dessert shared with my colleagues today to celebrate a momentous event at work. Something about the pink birthday cake. I just had to take a pic. I can't explain it.
Let them eat cake! 








In other news, today was day 23 of doing Jillian Michaels. Hold the phone. Hold. the. phone. I kid you not, I have kept it up this long! It was also the first day of doing level 3. I mean, it was certainly hard, but I think the whole point is to build up to it. Had I started on level 3 ten days ago, I think I would have crumpled into a huge pile of weak sauce. But now, I definitely feel stronger, toned, and kind of a bit proud of myself.

If only I didn't have ice cream tonight... after the cake today....but it was worth it to catch up with a dear friend.

Last but CERTAINLY not least, I give you:


SKIP RYAN IN A NASHVILLE HONKY TONK.  I never thought I'd live to see this day. WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE?!!?? I'll explain this later...

I can't believe that tomorrow is August. August?! That means Michael will be starting his 2nd year of med school. Proud of my man! We head to the beach next week with my fam dam, which I cannot waaaait for!

July, until next year, I bid you a fond farewell.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sisters



These ladies are my sisters (in-law). Our kids are going to be cousins. Watch out world! Little love nuggets running around!

I of course have always had my little sister Bekah (aka Smokey Pants, aka Petunia Brains, aka Crazy Legs, aka Bekah Bones, or just Bones, or the Bones), but as I have mentioned before, she is rather unique.


And by unique, what I really mean is CUTE AS PEACH PIE! When she wants to be. She can also be a bit cranky. Like a woman with a mean hangover and a splinter in her butt.

Or.....something....like.....that....

So, I didn't grow up fighting over clothes, or sharing a bathroom, or pulling out hair, or putting make-up on each other, or doing any typical sisterly things with Bekah. Instead, we jumped on the trampoline, went swimming, fed the ducks, walked around the mall, sung along to Wee Sing Sing-a-longs, Barney and Friends, Sesame Street, and Psalty the Singing Songbook, and played this stop and go game where you run down the sidewalk saying "run, Bekah, run!" and then "stop!" and Bekah thinking it was the funniest thing in the world. (For the record, it was funny... and quite fun.)

When I married Michael, I all of a sudden had Alisha and Lora, his two sisters who basically rock my socks. They are funny and sweet and (thankfully) younger than me -- I at least have that edge on them because otherwise they would so supersede me on the coolness factor that I would be shakin' in my boots anytime they were around. And Michael's brother Grant is about to marry quite a star of a woman. If this bookmark I found isn't an indication of how quirky and delightful she is, than shut my mouth and fly me to the moon.




All I can say is YES.

I feel lucky to have missed the bossy, clothes-stealing sister years (although it seems to me that those memories are the ones that end up getting the most laughs these days), and now have three beautiful and inspiring sisters to walk through life with. What a joy!

My suggestion: call your sister(s) and tell her that you love her to pieces. Despite the craziness of growing up together, most of my friends are super close with their sisters (Aves and Helen, the Warrick sisters, Sara and Virg, Allie and Audrey, Molly and Jennifer, the Johnson sisters, Amanda and Jessica...I could go on and on!) These women are in a unique position to offer advice and love and laughter and a real intimacy that sometimes doesn't happen with other friends (...but it can happen with the dearest of friends too... and THAT is a subject for a whole other post altogether!)

Goodnight Sistaaas!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Elevenses

Aragorn: Gentlemen, we do not stop 'til nightfall. 
Pippin: What about breakfast? 
Aragorn: You've already had it. 
Pippin: We've had one, yes. What about second breakfast? 
[Aragorn turns and walks off in disgust
Merry: I don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip. 
Pippin: What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn't he? 
Merry: I wouldn't count on it. 

I do love me some Pippin.

Just like I love me some hearty breakfast. Or second breakfast. We had some of those this weekend.
Eat your veggies

Anticipating love.
Match made in Heaven.

Don't fear the blue batter. 

Anticipating love, round 2.

Breaky of champions
Blueberry banana pancakes with a side of bacon scrambled eggs --This would probably be my last meal if I had a choice. Followed by Honey Bunches of Oats mixed with Life cereal. Followed by apple pie a la mode. Followed by a gooey brownie...

Geez louise, good thing I'm still doing Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. Today is day 14! I did about 8 days of level 1 and have moved on to level 2. At one point, Jillian says "you probably think I'm an insane woman right about now."

Why yes, Jillian, I think you are.

Alas, I have made a game-changing discovery: Mute the DVD and play electronica instead. It makes all the difference in the world. I know what you're thinking -- "no duh, Einstein." Hey now, go easy on ye fellow sojourner.

Twice, I've done 30 Day Shred AND gone for a run. Call me crazy. And a least 2/3rds of the time, Michael has joined me in my workout endeavors. Such a loving hubby.

We also had a great dinner with Amanda who was in town this weekend! Amanda is one of my oldest and dearest friends from Dallas. It was so much fun to catch up with her.
DC rocks the humidity. You can practically taste it. Yuck.




I'll leave you with a jam that is so good, but the music video is even better:



Dogs rock.

Happy Lord's Day!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Truth



Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by

Tempted and tried, I wondered why
The good man died, the bad man thrives
And Jesus cries because he loves 'em both
We're all cast-aways in need of rope
Hangin' on by the last threads of our hope
In a house of mirrors full of smoke
Confusing illusions I've seen

Where did I go wrong, I sang along
To every chorus of the song
That the devil wrote like a piper at the gates
Leading mice and men down to their fates
But some will courageously escape
The seductive voice with a heart of faith
While walkin' that line back home

So much more to life than we've been told
It's full of beauty that will unfold
And shine like you struck gold my wayward son
That deadweight burden weighs a ton
Go down into the river and let it run
Wash away all the things you've done
Forgiveness alright

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by

Still I get hard pressed on every side
Between the rock and a compromise
Like the truth and pack of lies fightin' for my soul
And I've got no place left go
'Cause I got changed by what I've been shown
More glory than the world has known
Keeps me ramblin' on

Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I'm free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I'll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levees and my bluffs
Let the flood wash me

And one day when the sky rolls back on us
Some rejoice and the others fuss
'Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
That the Son of God is forever blessed
His is the kingdom, we're the guests
So put your voice up to the test
Sing Lord, come soon

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cookies for...

Sometimes you just need to make cookies. Today was one of those days.

One of my sweet and wonderful friend's life was dramatically changed last night. I am broken hearted for her and her family. I cannot begin to understand how or why what happened, happened. My friend is a firecracker of a girl. She talks a mile a minute, she will do anything for a deal (including rummaging through my drawers while I am asleep to see if I have any bras from Victoria's Secret because she needed to know her size because of a huge online sale that ends at midnight), she fell in love hard and fast just like I did, she can make a mean pie crust (and thus a mean any-kind-of pie), she has a zest for life that honestly is incomparable to anyone else I know, and I had the joy of living with her for a year of endless laughter.

My heart is so heavy for her.

So among many coping mechanisms -- some healthy, some not, some are sometimes just needed -- I made cookies. And we ate them with relish tonight. Cookies on a heavy heart can certainly stimulate more tears, but at least they can be shared with others.

Both the cookies and the tears.

Cookies for the moment:

-Nestle Toll House cookie recipe. I recommend making half of the recipe unless you want to eat cookies for a week. And maybe you do.
-Make as directed, but instead of chocolate chips and nuts, add whatever you have on hand. Today, it was Heath Bar bits and a bar of milk chocolate.

I used 1/3 of the bag for half the cookie recipe.
Throw the bar in the food processor. It comes out in perfect, tiny, chocolate-swirled shavings.


A temporary reprieve from a world of sorrow.

But as a friend reminded me tonight, we have an eternal and heavenly reprieve in Jesus. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

Lo, it is naught, for He has conquered the grave. Amen.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pesto and Grinders

Yesterday, we cut down more of the babes.



I wasn't positive about the proper basil-cutting technique, but Cheesy Basil Man came to the rescue, thank goodness.

Now, I've done my research, and I think it's nearly impossible to mess up making pesto. The recipes are all more or less the same basic ingredients, with endless variations. I made a couple separate batches of pesto, and I thiiiiink I hit a great flavor combo.



The ratios above equal about enough pesto to fill two-thirds of the taller mason jar below.


I was trying to be artsy (typically always a fail) and took this pic, which I think is nothing special... but what really made me smile was what this picture represents! = Some of my dear friends who I love like sugar plums.
 


Love.

Also, we Michael made the most simple yet delicious meal for dinner last night. Our dear friends' baby boy is in the hospital for a few weeks so we took them a meal at Children's.


Do you know what this is?? This is not just any sandwich. These are grinders! A very special and unbelievably good sub sandwich that Michael's Grandma Lee made for us once at her home in Connecticut.

From Wikipedia: "Grinder (Italian-American slang for a dock worker)—New England. Called grinder because it took a lot of chewing to eat the hard crust of the bread used. In Pennsylvania, the term grinder refers to a sandwich that has been heated. In eastern Massachusetts a grinder is a toasted sub, toasted in a pizza oven." We don't have a pizza oven, but toasting them in the oven worked just fine.

So easy, super filling (like you could just eat half if you had a lot of self-control, but let's be honest, sometimes girl'z gotta CHOW DOWN), and so flavorful! Like the Italian version of a torta from Tortas Frontera that I beg you not to forget about if you ever find yourself at Chicago O'Hare. 

Last but not least, the 30 Day Shred challenge is coming along, slowly but surely. Yesterday was day 4, and I switched it up and muted Jillian and instead listened to some mellow tunes like this and this. It was amazing. I ended up focusing more on the music and not the workout. And today, day 5, Michael did it again with me and we listened to tunes. Feeling good! The chest flies kind of hurt, which is weird since they are typically the easiest thing.

Alright, off to cook dinner for these two lovebirds.


Happy weekend!!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

1-year Old Cake and Day 3 Report

Last July 2nd, Michael and I had a bit of a debacle on our wedding night in Charlottesville. When I say a bit, what I really mean is a full-scale FIASCO. Maybe I should just tell the whole story. Mmmm seems a bit ambitious to me right now but maybe I will do it later. Long and short of it is that we had such a strange night once we arrived at our hotel that I felt like I was in the movie The Shining, only slapstick style....

Yes. I know. Hard to picture. 

Alas, it is the truth. And because the hotel of course wanted to save face after that night, we received a free night's stay to be used anytime we so please. Well, thought us, what better time than to celebrate our anniversary! So we did. And IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! They honestly pulled out all the stops for us and treated us like the one-day newlyweds we were a year ago, instead of the one-year newlyweds that we are. 

One of the most unexpected surprises of the weekend was diving into our wedding cake. I didn't actually know it was a tradition to save some of the cake and eat it on your 1st anniversary, but I am certainly not one to turn down anything sweet. I honestly didn't even remember what kind of cake it was (the groom's cake was carrot, my favorite) and so I was excited to find out.

Don't eat the flowers.
My Virginia parents, Frankie and B, graciously saved the cake for a year in their freezer, despite repeated attempts to "make sure we don't leave town without it!" Let's be honest, that cake wouldn't have fit in our smurf-size freezer.


Turns out, it was three layers of heaven! Vanilla, dark chocolate, and some smooth, nutty, coffee-like cream in the middle. Wowza. I also thought that it would taste like... well, like a one-year old cake. Au contraire, it was better than I remember it (since I didn't remember it). It was delicious! I wanted to bring it back to DC to share it with friends, but the idea of melted cake in the car was a bit of a determent. Go figure. 


A little picnic in the room after lounging in the pool. This pic really isn't that bad, but I am my mom's daughter. "Gotta leave something up to the imagination!" - Barbie Ryan. Or even better, "less cleavage; more camisoles." You heard it first here, folks. 


A little bubbly. Ra Row.


I also have some big news, and if you are still reading at this point, then you must really be my friend so have the right to know that .... I am pregnant!! 

Ok just kidding. But it looks like it, no?



And of course, round 2. A little night cap before beddy by. 

It really did feel like we had a 2nd honeymoon, and we were only gone from DC for a day! I guess we are easy to please. I just need some cake and lots of sun. Combo of the Gods. 

Last but not least, here is the day 3 Jillian Michael's report (backstory here): I'm still on level 1, and the 'squat and press' killed me today. I think my arms forgot how to move. Oh the pain! I also was kind of in a bad mood and wanted to throw in the towel. Thankfully, I had a guest appearance today - Michael! He rox my sox. By the end, I was feeling strong and the final 1-minute abs felt good. Onward! 

And some questions: are you supposed to do 10 days of level 1, then 10 days of level 2, then 10 days of level 3? Or can you switch it up however you feel like? Can I build up to level 3 and then drop back down to level 1 to have a break? Jillian doesn't explicitly say what to do so perhaps y'all will know! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 2 Report

Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred - Day 2 report:

After coming home exhausted today, I took a nap for an hour and a half. No lie! I have no idea why I felt so tired. So it was with great determination and will-power (and honestly because I told the world that I was going to do the 30 Day Shred) that I got off my tush and shredded day 2. I kind of had a headache so the jumping jacks felt like my brain was hitting the roof of my skull. Weird. And the push-ups were rather difficult, but I think that's more because my abs were tired, not my arms.

I'm still feeling optimistic, and have some great friends who have volunteered to do the challenge too. So together, I'm getting the sense that...


Monday, July 9, 2012

30 Day Shred Challenge

Ever since the spring of 2011, I've been doing a little bit of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred here and there. What started as a pre-wedding quick workout (picture here), has now evolved into a "my wobbly bits are a bit too wobbly" kind of thing. And/or the kind of thing where "I just don't feel like going for a run so I'm going to sweat it out indoors today."


Until last year, I had never ever done any sort of work out except for running (I ran cross country at Highland Park...ahhh HP clap clap, HP clap clap). And let me tell you what. It's hard! Jillian Michaels is a beast and her workouts are not pretty. That is why I have been unable to progress decided to stay at level 1 for over a year. As a result, I can recite the entire 20-minute Level 1 workout. Here are some JM zingers for your perusal. Viewer discretion advised.

If you want results, they're not coming for free.

If you think you're gonna die, stick with Anita and shall carry you through. If you're ready for more, keep your eyes on Natalie.

You've always been told, just take the stairs -- THAT IS A FALSE MESSAGE OF LETHARGY THAT DOES NOT DO YOU ANY GOOD.

If I'm gonna make big promises to you, then you better deliver the results that you want and need.

You're arms are burning right now.

Are you feeling it? Are you? I am. And what I'm telling you right now is that you gotta stick with it. Hold on to it! In 5, 4, 3, 2, last one!

Would you look at those abs? I would kill for those abs. And there not coming for free people.

Anyway.... you get the point. So because I now have a couple of weeks where I can do 30 Day Shred everyday, and because I've been sick twice this summer and running is about as fun as eating pork rinds, and because it would feel like running on hot coals in this heat if I did decide to go for a jog, and because I find it rather scary that I can recite all of the Level 1 workout, I have decided to actually do the whole 30 Day Shred. All 30 days, all 3 levels.

Woooo! Just call me Challenge McGee.

The thing is, I can't do it alone. Michael does it with me sometimes (proof that it really is a good workout), but not always. Anyone want to do it with me?? Let me know! It cost $6 on Amazon and literally takes 30 minutes a day, that's it. Strength in numbers!

Day 1 report: My abs are always the weakest link, but today they felt strong like donkey kong. Holla. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Belated 4th of July Greetings

We stood, steady as the stars in the wood. 
So happy-hearted, and the warmth rang true inside these bones. 

Speaking of stars, I just read a very sweet book called The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It is a love story between two kids with cancer. So sweet, so genuine, often funny, always poignant, and tissues are of course needed. It's an easy read and definitely a page-turner!

I also want to share a recipe that we made last week. It was so good. Like candy good. Only not like candy because this dish is healthy!


Here is the recipe. Except I used brown rice instead of white, ran out of rice vinegar halfway through so used half rice vinegar and half white wine vinegar, accidentally bought sugar snap peas instead of snow peas but highly recommend this switcharoo, and chopped up the 1/4 cup peanuts in the food processor so the pieces were smaller. I seriously could eat this instead of ice cream. Seriously. The chicken was only just OK so don't go running for out for it, but you should SPRINT to the store to get the ingredients for the rice salad.

And last but not least, we are bursting with basil up in herrr. Here are two examples of basil-mania from the past two weeks: Spicy Thai Chicken with Basil, and tonight's dinner of pasta with sweet Italian sausage and basil on top.


Get it while it lasts. Go 4th and Shine!

Monday, July 2, 2012

1st Anniversary - Lived and Learned

One year ago today, I walked down the aisle to Michael -- my main squeeze, cherry on top, give me some sugaa, oh how I love him, apple of my eye, moon in my sky -- my now hubby of one year!




About a month after we got married, Michael started his first year of med school. Everyone said we had lost our minds to get married when we did (or they didn't outright verbalize it like that, but I could see it...take note: raised eyebrows hide nothing). But the truth was, we were young and in love. And the truth still is, we are young and in love. And that ain't changing, sweetheart. 

So, we have weathered some storms, but we survived our first year of marriage and Michael's first year of med school.
Literally weathered some storms: this is our street after Tstorm 2k12 rolled through DC on Friday night





And we have learned a lot. Here's a couple marriage victories, or at least tidbits of life, from the past year:

---I have a thing about doing the least amount of dishes as possible, so I try to avoid using... like...ummmm... anything in the kitchen. Which obviously and totally defeats the purpose of receiving kitchen-item wedding presents like a mixer or blender or food processor. Michael, however, has consistently proven what Jillian Michael's loves to tout in her "30 Day Shred" workouts: "If you've got it, flaunt it." If we own it, by golly, we're gonna use it. And, would you believe it, those appliances actually help! And even a simple spatula actually can be used for its purpose: to scrape the bottom of the Chobani yogurt container and get out a full scoop more of yogurt than I thought possible. Will wonders never cease. 
 
---Things are just things. Sit loosely in the saddle of life, as Robert Lewis Stevenson said. Translation: if you don't want things to break, don't get married and share a teeny living space. But if you do, than love your things loosely because THEY'RE GONNA GET SMASHED. Michael and I have a going average of breaking about one thing per week. Some highlights from the year have included: two mugs, two cereal bowls, one spoon rest, two plates, one candle, two wine bottles (one was unopened.... imagine that clean-up), one set of measuring cups, one mixing bowl, one cutting board, and one pizza stone. We are like children at the bowling alley -- we need bumpers. 

---Where words are many, sin is not absent. Oh. Gosh. What. A. Lesson. In. Love. And. My. Shortcomings. I have a firecracker mouth. And I knew it, but didn't know it like I know it now after one year of marriage. I am a living testament to the wisdom of Proverbs.

Proverbs: "A righteous man ponders how to answer."
Me: Thoughtless nuggets of pure stupidity roll off my tongue.

Proverbs: "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
Me: I'm about as soft as splinters.

Proverbs: "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion."
Me: You don't want to hear what I think??

Proverbs: "Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble."
Me: Oh brother.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. And I have this uncanny ability to be razor sharp with mine. And Michael has this uncanny ability to forgive me for it, again and again. One year of marriage has both shown me my wicked tongue and helped me control it. But I have light years to go.

---Love is blinding. No really, it is. As in, I can't find things. Or I give up trying too soon and think it's not there. This has happened too many times to count. I go to search for something, and after what I really do think is a legitimate search, declare that the item (the camera, the yogurt, the medicine) is not there. Michael will then ask me if I really looked, which makes me mad because he thinks I don't try (go figure), and then he will get up and come over and find whatever it is. In about 10 seconds. And then I sheepishly smile and reaffirm that I really did try to find it. And he does this thing where he kind of shakes his head and smirks at the same time. What can I say? I'm blinded by love.



I could write a novel about everything I've observed and learned this year, and maybe I will someday, but for now, it's time for bed. I'm excited to begin year 2 with my husband - Oh the places we'll go!