Sunday, February 15, 2009

Our first Valentine's Day as husband and wife!

Our Valentine's Day this year didn't quite turn out as planned, but sometimes things just can't be helped. So, Anthony and I had our own celebration very late in the evening yesterday (think finishing dinner around 11:30 last night).

Anthony worked outside to get the grill just right.....
The picture doesn't do it justice....he was laying on the driveway blowing air into the coals for quite some time.
I know it looks like he's in pain, but he was smiling thru the smoke--proud of those flames!
While he was busy outside, I got to work in the kitchen trying to set up a nice table for us....only to realize that our only tablecloth is Christmas green. So, I improvised!
I covered the table with red wrapping paper, used the candlesticks Anthony gave me for our 3 year dating anniversary, and scattered conversation hearts on the table. I love a show on Food Network called Semi-Homemade, and one of the cool things that Sandra Lee (host of the show) does is what she calls tablescapes--fancy table settings, decorations, etc. While I thought it was just ok, Anthony said I did a nice "tablescape" (his word), so I guess it's not too bad!
Anthony's family treated us to some groceries for our special meal, so we had steak, grilled asparagus, and baked potatoes--yum! After we dined, we exchanged gifts in our PJ's....can't beat a quiet night at home that ends with presents! Who needs fancy restaurants and and expensive meals? :) Now, if we could just get those picture frames hung up....

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A weekend of firsts!

This weekend brought several firsts for us:
...first (post-honeymoon) trip as a married couple
...first trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico
...first (of many, we hope!) visit to see the Steed family
...first time on Route 66
...first (and hopefully only) trip up the world's LONGEST aerial tram (literally)
...first view of snow in 2009 (Yes, it snows in New Mexico!) first time driving a Jeep (as much fun as I thought, thanks y'all!)

Anthony and I flew to Albuquerque on Friday to visit with our friends, the Steeds, and we had a wonderful time! Julie and Caroline picked us up at the airport and whisked us away to visit Derick at the Air Force base for a tour of the flight line. Anthony was like a kid in a candy store--hanging on Derick's every word about all the features of these aircraft and climbing inside for a look at them all (Julie, Caroline, and I climbed up in one or two, as well).

Friday evening we hung out at the Steed's house for a while to visit with the girls, and then we adults set out for a nice dinner. Not just a nice dinner, a nice dinner at the top of a dang mountain...but wait--it gets even better--a nice dinner at the top of a dang mountain which is only reachable by riding up the world's longest aerial tram! Yeah...not exaggerating, look it up--it's true. I was not thrilled at the idea of taking that tram ride, but it was worth the ride and not nearly as scary as I'd imagined (might be because we went at night, though). There was even a little snow at the top of the mountain, so we saw our first snow of 2009 (no snowball fights, was on the ground below the walkway to the restaurant).

We had a good meal with great company--the best part!

After dinner, we went back to the Steed's house to relax for a bit, and Anthony and Derick dueled in the virtual air while playing a Wii game. I'm not sure, but I think the grin on Derick's face says he was winning! After that, Julie and I also got in on the action, and we all played the most hilarious and goofy Wii game yet, which Anthony and I will be purchasing soon.

I think we kept Derick and Julie up past their bedtime, but we had so much fun! Fortunately, our lodging was less than 5 minutes from their house, so they loaned us Derick's Jeep, and we headed back to the room. Anthony has talked before about wanting a Jeep, and I think he definitely has the fever now! I have to admit, after my turn driving it on Saturday morning, I do think it would be pretty cool to have one.

Saturday morning, we all piled in the van and headed out for a great (and HOT!) New Mexican breakfast and visit to Albuquerque Old Town. One of the things we saw there was this beautiful church, the oldest in New Mexico.

A stop by one of the stores gave us several wonderful photo ops! The girls, as well as Anthony and Derick, had a good time trying on some of the hats and posing for the camera.

Derick looks so serious, but he is the one who started all this mess in the first place!

Following our trip to Old Town, we stopped at the Route 66 Diner before heading to the airport. Route 66 actually travels thru Albuquerque, so we were able to add that to the list of firsts--a ride down the historic highway! The Steeds told us that the Route 66 Diner has the best milkshakes, and they definitely did not disappoint! Among them are the Pink Cadillac (Mattie's choice--strawberry ice cream with Oreo bits), the Elvis (my choice, peanut butter and banana), and an old fashioned chocolate malt. Um, can we say "yum?!" I think the photo says it all---the only time that all six of us were quiet at the same time all day! Anthony and I arrived back at the Albuquerque Sunport (they don't call it an airport, though I'm not sure why) on a sugar high and plotting our next adventure after having enjoyed a wonderful visit with great friends that was filled with lots of fun and laughs! At breakfast that morning Derick told Anthony it was too bad that we hadn't come during the week because they could've gone out to the end of the runway to watch the planes take off. Anthony's eyes got big, and when we told Derick that his normal days off are Wednesday and Thursday, I'm pretty sure I saw the wheels start to turn while Derick cooked up an idea for our next trip. I hope they were serious when they said we could come back, because somehow I think we'll be attempting to go back before they move to Kansas.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And one more for today....

Again, this is something that happened a few weeks ago.

I would just like to announce that I survived the first visit from my in-laws! My parents have been in and out of the house many times since I moved in...helping bring things over, helping me decide which piece of furniture goes where, etc.

Anthony's parents hadn't been here since we first bought the house, and I was ok with that *because* I wanted it to be JUST SO before they saw it again.

I tried to explain to Anthony over and over (and over and over) that I would always be nervous about their visits because I expect they will be holding me to quite high standards....being the woman that "took" their baby boy away and wanting me to take good care of him and all. I've told him how it's likely that no daughter in law is ever good enough for the in-laws and that I feared that if one tiny little thing was out of place or one speck of dust was shown, it would forever ruin their opinion of me and my housekeeping abilities...that they'd be convinced that their son was living with a terrible housekeeper and probably a terrible wife....

So, yeah, I was nervous about their visit.

Anthony and I slaved away for hours and hours several days in a row in preparation for their visit, and we still had to leave 2 bedroom doors closed because they weren't just "company perfect."

I think we were up until about 2 o'clock the night before, and I was up quite early the morning of their visit...spotless house (save those 2 rooms)...PERFECT Christmas tree...every piece of furniture in place...we were ready.

And they were late (which was important because Anthony had to leave for work) the more time that passed while we waited,the more nervous I got.

Did I mention that I was nervous?

They finally arrived, and I am quite pleased to announce that it was a nice visit filled with lots of compliments! Anthony had to leave for work shortly after they arrived, so I was here with them alone for a couple of hours. It was a strange feeling being in our home with Anthony's parents but without Anthony, but I think it went very well.

We had a very nice visit and lunch (no, I did not attempt to cook and burn something!), and they seemed to really enjoy themselves. They complimented us both on how much we'd gotten done, they complimented us on how nice the furniture looked, and they even complimented my Christmas tree!

I'm pretty sure I don't remember what happened after they left....I think I might've collapsed and lost a few hours of time there, but it was worth house was perfect (to the naked eye) when they got here, and Anthony told me how much he appreciated all my hard work for their visit.

Now....about those two closed doors.............

Kitchen failure, followed by success!

I actually wrote this a few weeks ago...this is the post that inspired the blog idea in the first place.

So, I haven’t cooked much in the kitchen in our house yet. Partly because the house is still far too much of a mess to try to get into anything accomplished in the kitchen, but it’s mostly because all my kitchen things (pots, pans, utensils, small appliances, etc) are still on display in my mom’s dining room. This being, of course, because we’ve been a lil’ busy since the wedding w/the 2 week honeymoon and the whole Christmas thing, and because I’ve not wanted to move anything until I had what’s here set up exactly how I want it. Somehow, I’m thinking this is going to get old soon- both for us and for my mom who probably wants her space back!
This morning, instead of getting up for our usual Sunday brunch at La Hacienda, we wound up sleeping in and fixing some breakfast at home. I thought, “OK, this should be simple enough. We can make toast in the oven, cook bacon in the microwave, and I can use my brand new egg cooker (received as a birthday gift) to poach some eggs! Easy!”
See, most of my friends probably have no clue what an egg cooker is, but I grew up using my mom’s and love it! With the handy-dandy little egg cooker, I can hard boil, soft boil, or poach eggs in just a few minutes and with a total lack of major effort! The egg cookers my mom always used had the shell piercer (is that even a word?!) in the middle of the egg rack, and measure marks for the water in the bottom of the cooker (up to this level for soft cooked, up to this level for hard, etc). This egg cooker, however, has a separate little measuring cup with the hole puncher on the bottom—which wouldn’t be so bad if it had a WARNING about that! I’m taking it out of the box and pulling the plastic off the cup, and- what’s that sharp thing in my finger?! Oh, the hole puncher! See, it’s clear and made of the same plastic that the cup’s made of…so you sorta’ can’t see it. Again, warning!? Would it be so hard?!
Ah, but this little cup doesn’t stop with being devious with the hole puncher, it also has tricky little marks on it, as well! Common sense would say they’d mark it “fill to half for soft boiled eggs, fill to top for hard boiled eggs.” But, no! It’s fill to line 1 for soft eggs, fill to line 7 for 7 hard eggs but line 4 for 5 hard eggs, etc. Seriously?
So, ok…I figure out the egg cooker and get my 4 eggs in for poaching (water up to line 4, thank you very much!). Then Anthony puts the bacon in the microwave to cook, and I turn on the oven. This particular oven has high broil and low broil. Hmm….I’m thinking high broil would just be a higher temperature and would toast the bread faster. So, on high the broiler goes (mistake #1), and I move the shelf up to the top rack (mistake #2).
As my eggs are nearing perfectly poached and the microwave has cut off, I stick the bread in the oven and close the door. I do not exaggerate when I say that I closed the door, turned around to close the pantry door, and turned back around to check the eggs when I already smelled that oh-so-familiar burn smell. “What the…?” I think as I throw open the over door to F L A M E S. (Now *that* would’ve made a good photo!)
I know that we all can embellish a story from time to time to make it better, but please believe me when I say that I am not exaggerating or forgetting time in this story. I *literally* had that bread in the oven for less than a minute when it erupted into flames! All 3 pieces were flaming, and I do not mean just a spark---I mean the full surface of each piece of bread was FLAMING! Complete arc of flame between the bread and the heating element! Did I mention FIRE IN MY OVEN!
So, um….how do we feel about grits with the eggs and bacon instead of toast?
Luckily, with failure comes some success, as well. Yesterday, I made some delicious peanut butter fudge! I grew up watching my mom make fabulous chocolate fudge, but I also love peanut butter, as well. This past week at work one of my managers brought in some peanut butter fudge, and it was great! I told her that I needed to get the recipe from her to try someday, and she said, “oh it’s easy, you just take the fudge recipe and use peanut butter chips instead of chocolate chips!” That easy?! Really? I can do that, and I did!!! And it’s good!!! Super super easy, and it actually is quite yummy! So, photo #2 is the results of my first “baking” in the house…delicious peanut butter fudge.
Next time, mint chocolate fudge with Andes Candies mint chocolate chips and low on the ol’ broiler.

My husband rocks!

See, this is why I'm not entirely sure I should have started a blog b/c I never update it! Maybe I can get better about it.

One of the many reasons my husband is the best (a long running joke between us in that we both always say the other is "the best").... When I cook really terrible food, he still finds a reason to say it's good!

About a week ago we both got a hankering for some cinnamon rolls. Given that my kitchen isn't completely set up yet and that I'm not quite that industrious, I didn't make them from scratch. I opted for the Pillsbury ones in a can as they hold childhood memories for each of us. My mom always cooked them in a round cake pan, but I don't have one of those here yet. So, I decided that I would just put them in a circle formation closely together...should be the same, right?

Eh...not so much. The middle ones didn't get quite done (which was fine w/me), and the outer ones were burned on the bottom. I don't exaggerate...they were burned. After I gave out my typical disclaimer of "if they're terrible, you will not hurt my feelings," Anthony takes a big bite and says "they're great! I like 'em crunchy!"

That is why my husband rocks!

He also rocks because he stops on the way home for things he hears me say we need....and tonight for dinner he's eating burned cube steak and telling me how good it is. :)

Honestly...despite this post and the one that will follow soon (which actually happened a few weeks ago), I really can cook....sometimes.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My birthday and our first Christmas

Approaching Christmas of 2008, my friends and I had been discussing how Christmas was so much more fun when we were kids--leaving out the cookies and milk for Santa, not being able to fall asleep until 4 o'clock in the morning because we were so excited, not being able to stand the anticipation of waiting at the top of the stairs when you know that Santa has left the best present EVER just down there, ripping open each box with more excitement than the last in anticipation of this present ALSO being what you always wanted, playing all day with your new toys...
Well, you get the drift. Of course, most of us having this discussion are the ones who do not have children, because those with kids say Christmas is just as magical for them as it is for the kids. BUT, for the rest of gets kinda' blah when you grow up.
To top off that discussion, a friend celebrating her 2nd Christmas as a wife told me that Christmas this year would be like sticking a pin in that prized balloon you got at the shoe store-a complete let down. She said that the first grown up Christmas (in our case, the first Christmas being married and out on your own) wouldn't be much fun because of things like the husband doesn't know what to do with a stocking (if he even knows that it's his job to stuff it!), that they never buy presents as good as our parents, and that you have to do all the planning yourself.
So...since I was already sort of feeling disenchanted with Christmas this year, that really wasn't what I needed to hear. However, I decided to trudge on and try to make this first Christmas magical--and it was!
My birthday is 5 days before Christmas, so if I'm not in the Christmas spirit by then, that usually gets the ball rolling for me. This year was no different, it did the trick! I was instructed to dress for a nice evening out and be ready to leave at 4 o'clock--no clue where we were going or what we were doing! Anthony surprised me with a wonderful evening out! I had no idea, but he'd gotten in touch with my dear friend, Brandi, and invited both she and her boyfriend to join us for my birthday surprise. We had a wonderful dinner at Maggiano's followed by a trip to the Fabulous Fox Theater to see The Nutcracker and a stop at the Varsity for dessert. It was an absolutely wonderful night filled with fun surprises, great food, an excellent ballet, tons of laughs, superb friends, and an amazing husband! Anthony plans some sort of birthday surprise every year, and he definitely topped himself this time--I can't wait to see what he comes up with next!
So, Anthony's careful and thoughtful planning got the Christmas ball rolling for us, and despite a slight melt down at the last minute because I wanted to get it all done and was afraid I couldn't, we had a wonderful first Christmas together as husband and wife!
Anthony and I are very fortunate to have our families living close by, so we were able to spend Christmas Eve with Anthony's family and spend Christmas afternoon with mine. However, in between those two events, we were also able to work in a little time to start our own tradition of Christmas morning together in our home! No, we didn't stay up until 4am with excitement, and no, we weren't up at the crack of dawn waiting to see what Santa brought, but we still had a great time.
Much too late on Christmas Eve, I realized that I hadn't done anything about stocking hangers and refused to let Anthony nail them into the mantle. So, what's that old saying, "necessity is the mother of invention?" Yep, we placed a chair in front of the fireplace and hung our stockings on the back of the chair.

So, on Christmas morning we opened our stockings together, and I was pleased that my friend was wrong--husbands do a GREAT job of stuffing a stocking! Bath goodies from Lush, gift cards to Sephora and Starbucks, DVD sets...he did great!

I think I did pretty good, too!

After that we sat down by the tree for an attempt at a "family" portrait (us with the cats), but they didn't think much of that idea.....

So, as much as I wasn't sure how this Christmas was going to turn out, it wound up being wonderful! I felt a bit like we were kids again while opening our gifts! Reading things like "to my wife, from your husband," or "for my husband, from your wife" on the gift tags didn't get old, and we tore into each package with anticipation of the next bit of fun. We have a Wii, and unbeknownst to each other, we each bought Wii games for the other. He gave me a Wii fit with a couple of different games to use on it, and I gave him the airplane controllers and a flying game and some other games.

So, all in all, once I got rid of my angst of thinking this Christmas wasn't going to be anything special and trying too hard to make it perfect, we wound up having a wonderful first Christmas as husband and wife. Yes, the fun of surprising each other with gifts was nice, and the fun of opening packages never gets old, but the best part was that we were together.

Do I have enough to say?

I'm not entirely sure.
I don't have children to tell stories about, and my life isn't really very do I have enough to blog about?
Well, I guess so.

I'm going to try, anyway.

I've decided not to try to post anything from the wedding and honeymoon but to just post a bit about Christmas, then pick up with the post that got me thinking I needed to start a blog in the first place.

We'll see how it goes....