Tuesday, February 23, 2010

{ View from my Kitchen }

Last night I was washing dishes and realized how very blessed I am. Standing at the sink, I can look at the two men I love most in the whole wide world: My husband, doing homework on his laptop, and my Dad, relaxing with a book.
Dad is in town this week for work. He drove over on Sunday {the drive is 7 - 8 hours} and will be leaving on Friday. We're enjoying having him around, though I'm sure he could wish for a more comfortable bed than our sofa!

Friday, February 19, 2010

{ Good Things }

Joy is often found in the small nooks and crannies of life, in the details that I so frequently forget to notice, let alone enjoy, in my frenzied daily activities. Here are some happinesses I've found in my home over the past weeks. They may be small in size, but they bring sunshine to my soul. Thank you Jesus for the ability to enjoy Your good gifts to me!

Green smoothies are our new breakfast food: a banana, plain yogurt, spinach, two ice cubes, frozen mixed berries, and frozen blackberries. Our blender is loud...I hope our downstairs neighbors don't hate us!

Mmmmmm......delicious! {I think it takes a whole lot of manliness to drink something pink for breakfast. Thanks for going along with this whole green/pink smoothie idea, baby.}

A lovely rose from my husband, "just because."
{Postscript: He has given me flowers three times this week! This rose, a bouquet for Valentine's Day, and a single red rose with baby's breath this morning, on the seven-month anniversary of our wedding. He is the thoughtfullest husband!}

Cookies are almost gone!
Isn't a yellow stoneware cookie jar as cheerful as it gets?

Rachael Ray's Inside-Out Pizza-dilla Margerita for dinner last week...twice! I heart you, Rachael.

Making sweetie pies for Love Day, and my father-in-law's birthday on February 13 {thank you Fairlight for the link!}.


So the Mister and I have been cave-dwellers since the Dark Season began {a.k.a. winter}. We had a redneck lamp--it was Mike's and that is what HE called it!--as the only source of light for our entire living room. Apparently overhead light fixtures are so not cool these days. I finally had enough of it and went to a lamp shop. Golly gee whiz, light fixtures are expensive! And totally worth the money! We have replaced the redneck lamp with a bright and beautiful torchiere, added this lamp to the desk at the front door, and an identical lamp to the sideboard in the living room. And you know what? I'd never heard the word "torchiere" before and had no idea what it was. Mike started using the term as casually as the word "like" when we were in the lamp shop. I was so shocked that he know a term {a French term!} unbeknownst to me, and for something relating to home decor! I asked him how he knew it was called a torchiere. He grinned and said, "I have a mom."

Way to go, Mandy!
I have a mom, too. But she never used the word torchiere. That I remember.

I'm certain that the hospital gift shop is going to be the undoing of our budget, especially if they continue to have irresistibly cute lovebird figurines such as these. Aren't they perfect? I lusted over them in the shop window for months before buying them a couple weeks ago.

I have just finished listening to Focus on the Family Radio Theatre's production of "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis. This is an amazing full-cast dramatization of the book, and it is flat-out phenomenal. I'm not even saying that just because Lewis is one of my favorite authors. If you've never heard any of FotF Radio Theatre's audio productions, you are missing out. They are so well-done and faithful to the original books they dramatize. Love 'em.

I realize that this post makes it look like we are total gluttons and that all I really care about is food. What makes this so comical is that culinary skill is an area that was almost completely undeveloped till I started dating Mike. It's amazing how an appreciative, hungry man can make a girl venture forth where she's never gone before.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

{ Organizational ADD }

I've been feeling really productive and motivated. I've even begun tackling my side of the second bedroom, a.k.a. Mike's office/workspace, which has been the Black Hole of Everything for approximately seven months and six days. For those of you who like numbers, that's how long we've lived here. Pretty much any piece of paper--ahem. Pretty much anything that I don't have time/energy/desire to deal with ends up there. I've sort of rearranged the various masses on a couple occasions; once I even turned some of it into recognizable piles. That was a Big Step.

Last night I dedicated a few hours and made progress toward sanity. This involved deciding what to do with our Large Stack of Wedding Cards. I did the only thing a sensible-OCD-newlywed-housewife would do: I paired each card with its appropriate envelope {which took over an hour, but I realized I'm much better at recognizing handwriting than I thought} and put them in a box with all my other wedding memorabilia so that I can...you guessed it...deal with it later. But at least now all the wedding stuff is in one place, which will make the eventually dealing-with that much easier! {I can't believe I actually put all the cards and envelopes together. Seriously. Why? For what purpose? Who does that? I did it because I think when I'm 88 and thinking back on my wedding day, I'll get a huge kick out of the memory.}

I was also quite surprised to discover that when I say something like, "I'm going to clean my side of the office," what actually happens is something more like this:

~ Start to organize piles on my desk
~ Put some things away in bedroom
~ Completely re-organize the top of our dresser
~ This involves re-organizing of some of my stuff in the bathroom, too
~ Eventually make my way back to the office
~ Realize that random basket under desk is perfect for the bathroom
~ Decide to put some things in nightstand in bedroom; total re-organization of nightstand ensues
~ Remember that a load of clean, unfolded laundry is in the dryer
~ On the way from the office to the dryer, get distracted by thirstiness and go to kitchen {NOTE: the dryer is in the hallway between the office and the kitchen. Office --> hallway with dryer --> kitchen. Special, huh?}
~ Feel all kinds of crumbs on kitchen floor; sweep kitchen
~ Look at fridge and remember that I wanted to put some photos that I re-discovered on the fridge
~ Go back to the office, realize I'm still thirsty
~ On way to kitchen, remember laundry but decide it can wait

And so on. The crazy part is that, in my mind, all of this counts toward "cleaning the office!" And I wonder why it takes me so long to finish...

Am I the only person who gets the heebie jeebies from dirty kitchen floors? I can't stand feeling things on the floor with my feet. Maybe that's why this is taking so long!

Monday, February 15, 2010

{ Valentine's Day 2010 }

Valentine's Day, 2010. So much mellower and happier than V-Day 2009, which culminated with a fight {The Big One} that left us barely speaking for four days, and, on the fourth day, a conversation that totally transformed our relationship. After that conversation--which lasted from 10pm Wednesday till 3am Thursday--we both knew that we were going to get married. And a little over a month later, Mike proposed.

Heart Day this year included:

~ Enormous homemade breakfast

~ A lovely pink-and-white bouquet and a box of See's chocolates {apparently dropping hints works!!}

~A ferry ride to Whidbey Island ~ ferries are a big part of our story. While we were "just friends," I once mentioned in passing that I love ferry rides. Mike took note, and on our first date {that gorgeous, sunny, unseasonably warm March day} we rode a ferry to the cutest little waterfront village and ate crepes in a darling little shop. On several future dates we rode that same ferry over and back. There were beachcombing adventures, ice cream cones, strolls on the marina, and one very unfortunate episode involving a crow with diarrhea who perched in a tree directly above us--the lovebirds on a bench below who had just gotten coffee--just before his bowels let loose. It was a most memorable date, gentle reader. I assure you. Come to think of it, it's probably fortuitous that we are now closer to a different ferry. If I were Mike I'd never want to sit on that bench again...or wear those pants again...

~ Late lunch at Arnie's--their lime margarita is amazing!

{Looking at the lighthouse from the ferry}

~ Church

~ Trying to find a place to have dinner; both of the restaurants we went to were closed! At 8pm on Valentine's Day! {Hesper, whatever bad mojo we had in the past regarding our famous Rotic-Moments-Gone-Bad is definitely carrying over into Mike's attempts at Romantic Moments. Go figure.}

~ Chicken Caesar salad at home, after which the two of us singlehandedly consumed half the box of chocolates. Yum.

~ Drinking wine, playing Dutch Blitz, and laughing till our sides ached.

I hope your Love Day was full of joy!

{ Valentine's Eve }

When I left the nest at the tender age of not-quite-18, I moved in with a family that had been good friends of my Mom's for decades. I lived with them for the next seven years. Eventually their adult son, his wife, and their children {first just Marie, followed a few years later by Anthony} also took shelter under the same roof. It was a madhouse at times, I assure you!

Mike and I dropped by for a quick visit on Saturday. As you can see, Marie {who is now six} and Anthony {who is three and a half, but informed me he will be turning seven on his next birthday} have adopted Mike as one of their own. I don't know who had more fun, him or the youngsters!

My husband is going to make a wonderful daddy. You can see it too, can't you? I fall in love with him all over again when I see him skidding around corners, wearing a too-small camouflage plastic helmet and waving a toy sword at shrieking children, then holding Anthony upside down by the ankles while I tickle his tummy. {Our kids may end up with brain damage, but that's okay.}

{Just kidding about the brain damage.}


By the way, don't you love Marie's prairie bonnet? The ultimate in ladylike, protective headgear.

Now, I hadn't seen the kids since our wedding, but in December, I was talking to their mom on the phone and she put Marie on the line without telling her it was me. This is the conversation that followed:

Me: "Hi Marie, it's Kaka Nikki!" {Snicker away, all you Spanish-speaking folk, but their mama Neli is Bulgarian and Kaka means "young auntie" in Bulgarian.}

Marie {very long, drawn-out, loud gasp}: "KAKA NIKKI?!!!! DID YOU HAVE YOUR BABY YET?"

Me {unable to speak for about 30 seconds due to choking with laughter}: "No, honey, I'm not going to have a baby right now."

Marie {obviously flustered}: "But....don't you have a baby in your tummy?"

Me: "No, sweetie, I don't have a baby in my tummy."

Marie: "But you got married!!"

Me: "Yes I did, but people don't always have a baby right away. We're going to wait awhile. Once you have a baby in your tummy, it takes nine months for it to get big enough to come out."

Marie: "But hasn't it been one week, or maybe two?"

The conversation continued with a most entertaining exposition by Marie on how she had been a "bad baby" with her bottom down instead of her head, and how I should ask for medicine to make it not hurt when I have a baby.

So on Saturday, we hadn't been there five minutes when Marie ran up to me, patted my tummy, and said, "You have a little baby bump!" The truth is that my stomach is not perfectly flat {but I'm okay with that} and that I was wearing a tight-fitting shirt and that the lil' "bump" Marie was so excited about was nothing other than chocolate chip cookies and rainbow chip frosting. That girl is bound and determined that I am pregnant!!

Tony-baby has grown into the sweetest, funniest, snuggliest little man. Considering that I moved out when he was one and a half, I'm amazed that he remembers me and loves me so dearly--but he also remembers Mike each time we visit, and he positively lights up when we walk through the door. He is seriously the cutest little guy ever. Period.

Anthony is a creative and self-confident little mister. Last time we visited, he had a flashlight in his pocket. The flashlight was nearly as long as his legs, but he managed to stuff most of it in one of his pants pockets and Neli said he refuses to go anywhere without his "light." He is all about protecting his mom and sister from bad guys and shows us how he fights "ninjas" {lots of sound effects and karate-type swinging of arms and legs. Hilarious!}

This time, he was excited to show us his slippers, which he adores. As you can see, they are blue...but they have little bunnies on the strap. I just about died laughing. Such a tough boy with ninja moves and a pith helmet and a tiger shirt, with cute little bunnies on his feet!

Kids are the funniest things on the planet, aren't they? I'm so glad God decided to have people start out that way!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

{ Hope }

I hope
when I am a little old lady
in a hospital bed
that my nurse
and the respiratory therapist
who comes to help me
breathe easier
will say things about me
"She's so cute!"
"She's delightful!"
and you can tell
from the sparkles
in their voices
that they really mean it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

{ How did you spend Super Bowl Sunday? }

I spent it lounging in my pj's with my handsome husband. He ran to the grocery store for bacon and sausage and "starchy things" while I made coffee and cleaned up the kitchen. Lo and behold, he returned with pastries from Henry's Donuts! Henry's has a couple of locations, one very close to my work, and occasionally we'll get a box of goodies and share it at work. I was delighted to find a Henry's just a few minutes from our condo, and Mister not only remembered that I wanted us to go there, he telepathically sensed that maple bars are my favorite pastry! I was so happy. Combined with bacon, sausage, and fried eggs, we had a deliciously artery-clogging breakfast.

I also made Mrs. Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies. Same recipe as the one here, with the addition of 3 cups of chopped nuts and the stipulation that you only bake them for 8 minutes if you want them soft and chewy. FYI. Well, the recipe says it makes 112 cookies. Uh-huh. Not true. I made over 200 golf-ball size mounds of cookie dough, realized that after 3 1/2 hours I was nowhere near close to being done by the time we needed to leave for church, and threw a bunch of dough in the freezer. Not literally, of course: Nicely rolled in golf-ball-size balls and contained within a sturdy Tupperware dish. I've never frozen cookie dough before. Will it thaw and bake ok??

We go to the 5pm service at our church, smack-dab in the middle of Super Bowl time. So the pastor invited all of us volunteers who assist with setup and teardown {we're in a rented auditorium} to his home to watch the game on TiVo.

Well, Mister had the radio on when I jumped in the car after church, and unfortunately I heard the final score. He was on the phone and didn't notice. I found this actually made the game much more interesting to watch, since I knew the Saints would come back from their 10-point deficit!

One caveat: I am not a sports fan. I've never watched a football game all the way through. I've never even been to a live football game. True to form, I spent most of the third quarter talking to the pastor's wife about their trip to Italy last August. She made a book of photos from their trip--it was so drool-worthy! Who wouldn't want to visit here?

Or here?

Mister and I have been lightheartedly, almost jokingly, dreaming of visiting Italy and/or Greece someday. Their photos and adventures made me want to go so badly! It was all I could do to restrain myself from looking up ticket prices online this morning.

Tonight for dinner I'm making Rachael Ray's "Inside-Out Pizza-dilla Margerita." Super easy and very yummy. The first cookbook I bought {embarrassingly recently in the past--let's just say it was less than five years ago} was one of Rachael Ray's 30-minute meals books. I love it. Her recipes are so tasty! Even if you, unlike Rachael and myself, do not love pasta and cheese.
How is your week shaping up?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

{ In Process }

~ Folding four loads of laundry {I do not understand how we create such large quantities of dirty clothes every week!}
~ Pondering paint samples taped on walls

~ Singlehandedly consuming an entire box of day-old powdered mini donuts. This box went from full to this
on the ten-minute drive home from the grocery store. As I type, only two remain. I love powdered donuts!
~ Vacuuming
~ Husband's online biological anthropology class test {shhhhh, he's taking it in the office!}
~ Cleaning the bathroom--it's long overdue :-/
I didn't even take a picture of the paint samples taped on the bathroom wall. They look hideous next to the ruffly sea foam green shower curtain which makes me happy every single time I look at it, hanging from it's darling glass-knobbed Shabby Chic curtain rings {thank you, Target!}. That's what I get for going to Home Depot spur-of-the-moment without any fabric swatches to match. I'm really liking the process of elimination and figuring out what looks good, though.
Now I'm off to fold, vacuum, and clean before heading to lunch with girlfriends in, like, 45 minutes. Eek!

Monday, February 1, 2010

{ In Which My Antiquity is Revealed }

Last Friday, Dear Husband and I went on a date--a real, honest-to-goodness date--for the first time in weeks. It was long overdue and we were both a little silly with happiness to dress up a bit and spend time together, just the two of us.

It's hard to describe Z's Gourmet Burgers; it's a fun {and delicious!} experience. The burgers were great, the french fries were perfection, and the vintage Coca-Cola/Boeing decor somehow fits. It's a nostalgic spot for me since that's where I met my current employer for my first interview. I don't remember lunch at all, but I loved the open, beachy, laid-back vibe of the place: Two huge glass garage doors {the entire storefront} rolled up, retro memorabilia, a pleasant throng of locals enjoying what truly is the best burger in town.

Following an unfortunate incident with a loose mustard cap, necessitating a quick trip home and new jeans, Mike took us to Frost Doughnuts for some double-chocolate goodness and then to Starbucks. It was so nice to just hang out with him! I sat on his lap and if any bitter single people were there, we probably made them want to throw hot coffee in our general direction. Then Mike--who clearly studies my likes and dislikes--suggested window-shopping at Pier 1.

Oh the joy!

That store is delightful. On several occasions, Mike accused me of having "old lady taste," which apparently means riotous floral patterns are all the rage in nursing homes.

At this point we decided to go home and play Dutch Blitz. In case you have no idea what Dutch Blitz is {a travesty in itself}, it's a very fast-paced card game that was created by an Amish guy. In my heyday {read: when I was a homeschooled Idaho teenager} I was the queen of Dutch Blitz. My fingers were nearly as fast as my tongue, I tell you. I haven't played much in the past eight years or so, but someone gave it to us as a wedding gift, and I was eager to teach Mike to play.
We got home...super full of burgers, fries, doughnuts, and coffee...and felt a little too stuffed to play a rousing card game. Unfortunately we frequently eat to the point of feeling uncomfortable, so Mike suggested our usual fix: Lie down for a few minutes and digest.
The problem is that we laid down on the couch and fell asleep. It wasn't much after 9:00pm. And we had to take a nap! For A. Long. Time. I woke up at 11:45pm and we were both so zonked we stumbled to bed and slept another 9 hours. What is up with that?! We've only been married six months, and already we can't even stay awake all the way through date night! We crash at 9pm on a Friday night! We're too tired to play a card game! Gosh!! I guess marriage takes more energy than I thought.
Either that, or I have old lady taste because I really am old...