Today is the greatest day I've ever known

Friday, May 20, 2011

Okay, maybe not the greatest day ever, but it was an awesome day at work.  Hooray for new technology!!  So with that, I give you more random facts about me (and L) in this week's Fill in the Blank Friday.

1.  People always tell me I look like actually I rarely get this.  I used to get told that I looked like Jenna Bush.  L, on the other hand, looks strikingly similar Frankie Muniz in My Dog Skip (an excellent movie, btw, if you've never seen it).  I wish I could convey how much he looks like FM.  It's hilarious, especially when is hair is super short.  It's literally like the kid from MDS has just been stretched taller.  Except L does not have a bad Mississippi accent.

2.  Friends don't let friends go home with lame boys from the bar.  Or walk around with toilet paper on their shoe.  Or walk through the halls of their high school with their skirt tucked into their underwear (this may or may not have happened to me in the fall of 1996).

3.  A sunny day is perfect for being outside.  Duh.

4.  My favorite accessory is a tie between my CZ studs; a chunky, silver bracelet that looks like a braid; and a Moroccan purse I scored in Shreveport in 2004.

5.  If I could afford it, I would take the summer off to tour Europe with L.

6.  The cure for boredom is a good book.  Or movie.  Or catching up with friends or family for 5 hours on your cell phone.

7.  I am currently in "like" with a cute bra I bought earlier this week... blue gingham!!  Love!

For anyone who wants to play along, go check out the original here.

Single Ladies

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Last weekend was my first weekend flying solo in a loooooong time. Normally I dislike when L checks out for weekend trips, but this time I was excited. I had lots of things I wanted to do and a few that I needed to do but didn't want to do on a weekend when L was here because I knew they'd be best accomplished without him (for example, shopping for a bachelorette party gift).

On my list of things to do:
  • See Something Borrowed or Water for Elephants on Saturday morning (I really enjoy seeing movies by myself now for some reason.  I take this as a sign that I am old.)
  • Find aforementioned bachelorette party gift
  • Hit up either Eastern Market or Courthouse Farmers' Markets
  • Stop in at my favorite jewelry vendor before hitting up the produce
  • Weed in the front yard (if weather permits)
  • Dinner one night with my sorority big sis, her husband, and our mutual friends that they are staying with
  • Read a lot of my current book selection (Gone With the Wind - if you haven't ever read it, I highly recommend)
  • Watch lots of movies at home
  • Bake
  • Go to Target and experience the new Calypso line firsthand

It took me 3 malls and 12 stores over the course of 2 days and a combined total of roughly 9 hours of shopping to find the perfect gift, and I didn't even think I was being that picky.  I came to realize that finding lingerie for well-endowed women that is pretty and/or fun and NOT tacky or cheap is apparently not easy.  This is definitely an untapped area where someone could make millions of dollars.  ANYWAY, due to the time suck that was my shopping trip, I wasn't able to get much else done.  I did manage to check the following off my list: bake, have dinner with friends on Friday night (they were the recipients of my baking efforts), buying the bachelorette party gift, a bit of reading, a stop by Target, going to Eastern Market, and seeing my fun jewelry booth.  In my defense, it was super rainy all day Saturday and off and on on Sunday, so it wasn't a good weekend for yard work.  (Also, just a word of advice: the Target website is FULL OF LIES when it tells you that your local store has all the cutest items in the Calypso line.  Mine had 3 trees of stuff and it was the ugliest things.  Sadness and utter disappointment and frustration!)  I also managed to squeeze in a 5 hour phone call with my mom on Saturday night.  Yes, my life is so exciting at the ripe, old age of 30!  I stay in on Saturday nights sometimes and talk to my mom... for 5 hours.  L was shocked and wanted to know what in the world we talked about.  The answer: everything.  Literally, everything.  This is what happens when you live across the country from your family.

One of the things I decided to finally try while I was at Eastern Market was the fresh pasta!  I opted for butternut squash and goat cheese ravioli.  I made it for dinner on Monday night (hooray for a successful Meatless Monday) and used Giada's recipe for a brown butter and sage sauce.  It was good, but a bit too rich for either L's or my taste.  Next time I aim to try the crab ravioli and make a marinara sauce for it.  Here's a pic of our ravioli dinner:

At least it was colorful!  The green is sage and the red things are dried cranberries.  Honestly, I love that the ravioli is striped.  Different fillings have different color stripes on them.  Cute and appealing to look at!  It's a party on your plate and in your mouth.

So yeah, that was my weekend solo.  Good thing I enjoyed it while it lasted because this weekend is shaping up to be fun and games on Saturday and flight of the bumble bee on Sunday as we prepare for a Week of Parents.  That's right, we'll see 75% of our combined parents next week and they are ALL STAYING WITH US (albeit, not at the same time.  No overlapping, but no breaks in between them).  Hooray for a one bathroom house.

So you say it's your birthday

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

(For some reason, Blogger hates apostrophes, so no contraction in the title for me)

Today is L's birthday! This is the first birthday in a long time that we're able to have a "normal" celebration.  Last year we were in NYC (and celebrated by dining at Bar Americain and it was AWESOME); I can't remember what we did in 2009, although I'm inclined to think I was up here visiting him; and in 2008, poor L spent his birthday all by himself up here (he went to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall by all alone because he didn't know anyone up here yet).
Anyway, I'm excited to be able to go all out and make a big deal of it. L requested a yellow cake with chocolate icing ("Out of a box - NOTHING FANCY" were my instructions).  I literally cannot help myself or bring myself to do a boring sheet cake, so he's getting a yellow cake from boxed mix but I made my own milk chocolate buttercream frosting last night.  And then I garnished it with some fresh strawberries because we had them on hand. What can I say?  I show my love for others in cooking and details.  Hopefully this will get a good approval rating from my birthday boy.  Here's a picture of said cake:

We're also going to dinner tonight at one of his favorite places and then our REAL celebration will be on Saturday night.  I have fun surprise plans for him.  Woo hoo!  I do love good surprises!  And with that, I'm off the change for dinner.  Hope everyone is having a great week!

Camptown Races

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Unless you live under a rock, you know Saturday was Kentucky Derby Day. Who doesn’t love the idea of the Kentucky Derby?* Who doesn’t love an excuse to dress up, wear a hat, and partake in delicious cocktails while watching beautiful horses and some jockeys wearing awesome silks?? (Did anyone else notice this guy?) L and I had had grand plans to go to Gold Cup this year, but it didn’t happen for reasons too boring to discuss here. Instead, we had a low-key Saturday and watched the KY Derby from the comfort of our home and made a feast.

Our day started with L donning his favorite seersucker shorts and announcing he was off to get bourbon for the mint juleps we intended to make. I’ve tried to teach him no linen or seersucker til after Memorial Day, but he loves him some seersucker and felt it appropriate for a horse race, so he was off and out the door before I could stop him. I opted for a pink silk dress and headed into the kitchen to start on our Derby Pie. If I had a fun hat, you better believe I would have worn it while baking, but sadly, all I have are baseball caps and visors, so no fun hat for me. My grandmother apparently used to wear hats all the time. I really wish is that when mom cleaned out my grandmother’s house that she’d saved some of the hats because seriously, how fun would it be to have a bevy of fun, fancy hats at your beckon call these days?

While I was baking, L returned and brought me a surprise:

Blue Moon is one of my favorites to have on hand at home, and who doesn't love a sampler pack??

And then he made me the aforementioned Bour-blueberry Delight.

I know, it doesn't look like much.  The lighting was off so it really looks lame.  But if you'd like to make your own, here’s how:

Muddle some blueberries in your glass. Add ice and 4 ounces of bourbon. Garnish with a few extra blueberries.

If you’re like me, that will be WAY. TOO. STRONG. You can dilute it with water (still very tasty) or ginger ale (also good, but I thought the water was better).

So those were fun to sip on. Hooray for crafty husbands! I recommend that you make one the next time you have bourbon and blueberries on hand.

Now let’s turn our attention to Derby Pies, shall we?  If you've never had one, Derby Pie is basically a brownie in a pie crust.  Hard to hate that.  The recipe I used was adapted from Paula Dean's Kentucky Pie recipe.  Pictures are limited.  Sorry.


4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 cup sifted self-rising flour**
2 sticks butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup bourbon
2 cups pecans, chopped (optional - I left these out)
Refrigerated pie crust
Ice cream

Preheat your oven to 350.  Roll out your pie crust and place in a pie dish.  Combine eggs, sugar, and melted chocolate in large bowl.

Add flour and mix well, stirring in remaining ingredients.

Fill pie shell about 1/3 of the way (note that mine is a bit too full at this point, but I leveled it out).

Use the rest of your batter to make a second pie (pie shells come in packages of 2) or grease and flour ramekins and bake personal "pies."  Again, only fill each container about 1/3 of the way full. 

This is important, because your pie WILL rise and if you fill it too full, your pie will look like this:

I mean tell me you don't want to eat that.  Just kidding.  Those went in the trash.  Luckily I had my ramekins on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, so between that and the fact that I'd greased and floured each ramekin, the clean up was very minimal and very fast.  Anyway, bake the pie for 45-50 minutes.  Pie is done when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pie comes out clean. Serve your pie with a scoop of ice cream.

I got distracted by the ramekin mess so I neglected to take a picture of the actual pie.  Just know that it is: good and really easy to make.  What it is not: healthy.  That's where the gym comes in.

*Actually, in a twist of irony, the wife of the couple we know who actually attended the derby this year has said in years past that she does not love the derby for reasons that revolve around the age of the horses and humane treatment of animals. Obviously it didn’t stop her from attending, so who knows.

**If you don't have self-rising flour and you don't want to buy any, you can make your own. For every cup of flour, add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt and mix to combine.

Today was a Good Day

Friday, May 6, 2011

1.  What I love most about my home is that L is here with me.  Also I love the yards in the spring time- totally filled with color and blooms of all kinds everywhere you look.

2.  I'm excited because it's the weekend!  And I learned how to use PhotoShop today, so I'm going to try and dabble with it this weekend.

3.  My preferred method for blowing off steam when I'm frustrated is going to the gym (at least these days it is).  I'm also a fan of happy hours with friends, L, or both.

4.  Currently I am craving umm... not food.  I had a big lunch.  So I'll go with a non-food item and say a sunshine-filled weekend and a hammock.

5.  The thing I love most about my mom is (this is hard- too many things to choose from) that I laugh with her almost every time we talk on the phone.  I'm so glad I got to spend 4 days with her in Charleston.  I needed a little parent time.  I miss spending Easter and Mothers' Day with them  (I love my dad just as much but of the 29- soon to be 30- Fathers' Days I've been around, I literally spent 15 of them away, so the holiday isn't as sentimental).

6.  If I was going to write a book about my life, the title would be Where Did That Bruise Come From?  Actually I have no idea what I'd call it, but ever since I can remember, I always have gotten mystery bruises.  I just shaved my legs today and I mean they are BEATEN. UP.  I had no idea.  I'm pretty sure that's from last weekend's bike escapade, but I don't actually know for sure.  I assure you that my legs are quite colorful, though.

7.  If I were to eat one thing for the rest of eternity, it would be this is hard.  Maybe chips and salsa.  Or maybe tiramisu from Vespaio in Austin.  Or gumbo from Del Monico in New Orleans.  I could go on and on but that's what popped in my head first.

Go check out Lauren's blog here.  Have a great weekend! 

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What a weekend!  It started off with a royal wedding, it ended with the death of bin Laden, and in between... oh, in between!  In between, we had GORGEOUS weather on Saturday and I decided to ride a bike for the first time in 8 years with Mrs. FBI, who was recently accepted to become an FBI Agent (code: she is in peak physical form and can seriously kick someone's ass.  Seriously.  Self defense is part of the application process).

It was quite an experience.  I borrowed Mr. FBI's bike (he's currently on assignment in Miami and is recovering from ACL surgery, so he didn't exactly have plans to ride his bike on Saturday) and off we went.  There's a reason for the cliche', "It's like riding a bike," because it really does come back to you.  The hard part was adjusting to turns, gears (I've never owned a bike with gears, which should tell you something about how long it's been since I've been an avid biker), and the width of the bike.  I didn't fall, but I did check a telephone pole and a stone wall (that was scary).  Also, riding uphill is hard.  And sad when your super in-shape biking buddy breezes up the hills with no problem and you're left huffing and puffing in the dust.  In my defense, I think I should have raised the seat to make peddling easier, but that would have taken too much time.  Anyway, we rode roughly 9 miles round-trip and I was EX.HAUSTED. at the end of it.  Like, couldn't-ride-up-the-last-hill exhausted.  I definitely walked it up and totally felt like Phoebe in that Friends episode where Ross gives her a bike and she walks it around everywhere because she doesn't know how to ride it. 

I got home around 3:45 (after a brief stop to airbrush tan, of which I am an enormous fan- all the color and none of the UV damage, although I'm probably inhaling carcinogens, but whatevs- minor details) and luckily we didn't have plans for Saturday night because even if we'd had plans or wanted to do something, I wouldn't have been able to move.  Something about that bike ride made me feel like I'd been beaten with a bat all up and down my back.  Not awesome.  And the Bike Butt... OMG.  Bike Butt is what you get from sitting on a bike seat too long.  I had a severe case (still recuperating). Not cozy.  Or cute.  Lucky for me, L decided while I was peddling away that since he couldn't smoke something (I'd firmly put my foot down since we made a 7.5-pound ham for Easter, which at least was a half pound smaller than the 2010 Easter ham... baby steps, people) that he would grill, so he took care of dinner and we ended up watching Catfish.  All I can say about that is that people are weird and apparently some people are quite lonely and unfulfilled with their real lives.

Sunday brought some rain and a lazy afternoon.  I decided to celebrate the royal wedding by finally hanging our wedding pictures and removing some of the ones that we'd had in random frames in the living room, so now our hallway actually looks like people live here.  I also switched out the clothes in my closet (woo hoo!!  Adios sweaters, hello short sleeves!) and got the whole thing straightened up.  And I had the royal wedding playing the entire time I did all that.  You see, I opted to record the BBC coverage, which was a mere 6 hours long.  It was a little bit of wedding overload, especially in light of the fact that I was staring at 6 photographs of ours the whole time.  But on the note of wedding overload, if the thought of walking into someone's (okay, our) home and seeing some of our wedding pics clustered together makes you want to vomit, 1) wait til it's your wedding and see if it changes your mind, 2) we won't force you to stare at them, and 3) I promise you won't have to worry about pics of me and L frenching outside the church on our wedding day surrounding you as you try to sleep (and yes, pics that could be categorized as such do exist, although saying we're frenching is a bit extreme.  It looks more like I'm cornering him against a doorway and a bush and forcing him to kiss me, much like kids on a playground.  Shockingly, we did not choose to frame any of those).

All in all, a great (albeit sore) weekend.  And a picture, just so you have something to look at and so that this won't be a pictureless post:

That's our front yard today, about 2-3 days post-peak bloom (sorry I missed getting all the daffodils in bloom).  As I was coming in from work today, I was really taken by how pink the bushes by the front door, so I just thought I should share a picture.  Virginia definitely has one up on Texas in regards to springtime flowers.  I love all the azaleas; they remind me of spending Easter at my grandmother's house in Shreveport.  Her backyard was lined with azaleas and camellias and it was just so pretty.
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