Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Just sharpening the old noggin.
Please ignore me.
My personal training sessions run through January (which has been a great experience- lost a few pounds, got a lot stronger, got back in the gym period) but since I plan to take my physical fitness into my own hands after that, I need other interests to pursue.
The first class I signed up for is a series on The Bible: A-Z (that's what I keep calling it, it's really Genesis to Revelation I think), which will be taught at my church in Dallas and covers the story of the Bible. My Community Group and I will be taking this class together as a way to start 2010 together, learning about the Lord and continuing with purpose that which we started in 2008.
Purely for my own amusement, I have also signed up to take a continuing education course to learn calligraphy at Southern Methodist University (or SMU) here in Dallas. I like my handwriting- I'm a swirly cursive kind of girl, but I would like to learn different styles, adding a certain panache to my thank-you notes and invitations. I think it's such an interesting talent.
I like that I will be learning alongside people who want to be in the classes. I graduated college two and a half years ago, so learning is no longer obligatory but elective. I get to sit among people who desire more, beyond what they know.
I turn 25 next year (and by next year, I mean two weeks from now). One of my friends said she was ready to "wreak havoc" on 25, and I'm on board with the idea.
There is no time like the present to pursue things, people and places that interest or intrigue you. And while you're at it, buy some sparkly nail polish for New Year's Eve. I know I did!
Why the heck not?
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
It was cute.
Anyway, sometimes I falsely assume that I notice things about other people, but they don't notice things about me. Like I have some personality shield that makes me impervious to observation. This is wrong, as evidenced by the gifts I received from both of them.
Apparently they've been watching me.
KS gave me a 2010 Kate Spade planner as well as some accessories from Anthropologie. I love both of those places and could outfit my entire life from either one, if possible. KS has a good read on style, both mine and her own, and her gift was a combination of both. Her gifts bring out my more girly side. Both of my sides are actually girly but KS appeals to the ruffles-and-bows- and-headbands-oh-my side. She also gave MG and I cute luggage tags with our first initials on them and Kiehl's hand cream. Every product KS uses smells good, feels good and makes you look good, so her beauty recommendations are heeded.
MG gave me a booklet of sticky notes for the kitchen and cookbooks, which combines so many things I love about cooking and note-making. Since adhering to the instructions and ingredients of any one recipe is apparently against my moral judgement, I will use them often. She also gave me a blue Martha Stewart ribbon box. Who could give a gift like that save for someone who knows how much you love the Martha Stewart aisle at Michael's, would recognize the fact that it is the perfect shade of robin's egg blue for your room and would have knowledge of the seemingly ridiculous quantity of ribbon you keep around?
It's been a great seven months with these two. They're the kind to which you can say "hm hm hmm hm-hm-hm" with a toothbrush in your mouth, and they'll respond back to you "yeah, let's do brunch tomorrow at 10" like it's totally normal.
Because it is.
Sweet hymns of joy in
Grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us
Praise His holy name!
-O Holy Night, words by Placide Cappeau
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
I feel like I have been a bit detached from the blog world the past few weeks. I don't find myself at a loss for words, it's just that not every stream on consciousness forms itself into a blog post.
My friends and acquaintances have outdone themselves with the Christmas parties this year- so much so that KS, MG and I elected to wave the white flag this December and let everyone else entertain us instead. We'll have a party when people least expect it. You just wait. Our house does have nice holiday touches throughout, though as you may have guessed our stockings are literally hanging down below our T.V. on the media console because we have no fireplace. Santa will have to ring the doorbell.
I am currently chipping away at The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. The complexity of the story reminds me why the classics are the classics, and why they continually withstand the test of time. Knowing full-well that I could not read consecutive novels this engrossing, I am still enjoying it.
There is also this new application I have downloaded on my phone called Words With Friends, which is terribly addicting. It's more about strategy than actually knowing how to spell, which I'm trying to learn. I recommend it.
I cooked Italian over the weekend- first was eggplant parmesan with BF on Friday night, which MK came over and ate with us. I had honestly never tried it before, and as MK described it: it's one of those dishes that you see on a menu and you are thankful that vegetarians have it as an option, but you don't think to order it yourself. We cooked enough to feed an army and the man at the liquor store pointed us in the direction of a huge bottle of inexpensive red wine that "all of the old Italian people" buy in his store. I had no idea there were so many old Italians in Dallas, seeing as we have Mexican food on every corner, but the wine was good both in the dish and to drink, so he seemed to know what he was talking about.
So if anyone needs to eat this week, please let me know. Leftovers abound, though I cannot promise garlic bread because I'm fairly confident that BF, MK and I did a number on it Friday night.
After my snow report from last week I am pleased to say that the cold weather persists. I did not love it so much when our heat was out at the end of last week and MG and I had to sleep here in the 53-degree temperatures, but now that it's working again I can fully embrace the weather outside as being frightful. It must be my winter birthday doing the talking, but I do love it.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I cannot tell you how many mornings I woke up as a child after being lulled to sleep with promises of freezing precipitation on the news, only to wake up and find a bone-dry driveway out my window and not a flake in sight. Snow in Texas means that regular schedules cease completely. People don't know how to drive in it and we are ill-prepared for temperatures below 32 degrees.
I know better now than to dream of a day off, but if you think the possibility of an inclement weather day is not just as enticing now, as a full-time working adult, as it was when class was cancelled in elementary school, you are mistaken.
Last night the murmurings of "weather" started, but my friends and I went about our business, celebrating our friend KR's birthday unhindered by the rain and the freezing cold. This morning my mother called while I was still in bed and it was still dark outside, which would typically mean emergency because why on earth would anyone call before 7 AM? She reported that it was snowing at my parents house, 30 miles from me, and was it snowing at my house? I hopped out of bed with the enthusiasm of my younger self, only to find that no, it was raining.
I continued to get ready and did not open the blinds in my room, I was so annoyed by the false hope I had allowed myself. Keeping with my normal routine, I walked downstairs an hour later as usual, turned on the coffee machine as usual, and opened the blinds... as usual. Only then was I taken aback by the scene in the window above our kitchen sink: snow. Huge flakes of beautiful, white snow. Very few moments in life are poignant or breathtaking, but that was one of them for me- when a normal day was made surprisingly beautiful.
It was not sticking to the ground, so after walking in the backyard to be awestruck for a moment, an effect snow has always had on me, I had to leave.
Oh well, makes a normal Wednesday that much prettier...
Loralei Gilmore: The whole world changes color; flakes flurries swirls crystals. whatever form it comes in- I'll take it. We go back, snow and me, we have a beautiful history.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
MG emailed me yesterday to point out that we had exercised for three consecutive days, so why not keep the dream alive and go for four? Since I've actually been in a pattern of losing, rather than gaining weight (as would be typical this time of year), I was on board with the plan. Last night we (BF, KS, MG and I) went to a Pilates class. Other women were shocked at our age, after assuming we were in high school (which I took as a compliment), and after an hour of torture our instructor pointed the four of us out and said that we need to be sure and make it back next week. Something about inflexibility and inability to hold the plank position for very long... or maybe it was the pained faces we were making at each other the whole time. Not sure.
I gave myself a break last night and after we returned home from class (followed up with a stop at Chipotle, let's be honest), I watched Twilight and read some of KS's magazines while she made homemade pecan pie. She is supposed to be delivering it to a very lucky young man today but it did not escape without us sampling it. Had to.
While reading recent issues of House Beautiful and Real Simple, I realized that I really have not taken time to explore the designer haven of Etsy. I like the idea of people being able to start out small with an online storefront as opposed to investing in actual real estate. It makes starting a small business more accessible. I love that.
In my reading I found out about a similar website, Foodzie, and now my eyes have been opened to all sorts of amazing gift ideas and things to try. Who wouldn't want an assortment of cheesecakes in jars, or skillet bacon jam? There is even a tab called "Discover" which finds you geographically and tells which vendors produce things locally in relation to you.
I leave tomorrow night to go to Houston, where I plan to see a few friends, enjoy a Friday off then head to College Station, where I attended college at Texas A&M for four years. I visited once after graduating but am sad to say that I have not been back in over two years now. AV, BF and KR will be driving down on Friday, so I'll meet them there in the evening for dinner, drinks and a favorite tradition of mine: Midnight Yell Practice. I cannot wait. College Station holds great memories for me and fostered a group of friends that has continued to grow and stay close even 2 1/2 years out of college.
A near afterthought is the fact that New Moon comes out this weekend and I have friends all aflutter with the ongoing Team Edward vs. Team Jacob debate. It's very heated and there are many compelling Vanity Fair photos making the case for each.
With writing, I find, you can have all the right ingredients, give plenty of time and care, and still get nothing. Also true of love. Cooking, therefore, can keep a person who tries hard sane.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Most of what I cook is inspired by something I have had at a restaurant or someone's home.
I love to recreate dishes I have enjoyed and I search cookbooks and online recipe sources and menus for what I want. Even then I add and subtract ingredients as I see fit because I love herbs, spices and all things garlic-related. If you ask me for a recipe I'll be able to recite the ingredients but never the amounts- that's not how I operate. The exception to this would be baking, obviously, and anything my paternal grandmother made, God rest her soul, especially around this time of year for Thanksgiving. Homemade cornbread stuffing and broccoli cheese casserole are not walks in the proverbial culinary park, and I don't take liberties with her old recipes because they are sacred and already perfect.
In addition to enjoying time in the kitchen, I am also a cookbook junkie. I was at my friend LS and her husband's apartment recently and while she and other friends were whipping up chocolate peanut butter cupcakes for football-watching men-folk, I was pouring through the enviable collection of Williams-Sonoma cookbooks she received as weddings gifts.
I know you're thinking I need help but you've probably never tried truly delicious chilaquiles verdes, have you?
Anyway, in the interest of shelf space and reviewing my options, I also enjoy finding good online sources for recipes. For example, I recently discovered that the magazine Texas Monthly has a great online archive of recipes; many from Texas chefs.
One of my favorite online recipe sources for over a year now has been The Pioneer Woman's blog. KS and I made a variation of her breakfast burritos for a hungry crowd at literally four in the morning after our friend HA's wedding and the party-fatigued people were pleased.
Pioneer Woman has a huge following and just had a cookbook published, which I obviously took care of pre-ordering weeks ago from Amazon and received with glee from the hands of my postman on Saturday morning. Most of the down time I had this weekend was spent sitting on our couch with her cookbook in my lap, reading all of her hilarious commentary about her family and their life on a ranch in rural Oklahoma. I'm still deciding which recipe to try first and hoping that the Grocery Store Fairy will magically stock my kitchen with all necessary ingredients to make PW's great-looking lasagna. I'm getting over my fear of failure with recipes involving yeast and specific measurements, so hopefully I'll get to her cinnamon rolls one day soon as well.
The Pioneer Woman may never know this but she is a bit of a celebrity amongst Dallas girls my age. Something about being unfailingly funny and having a great husband and four kids; finding a sense of humor in everyday situations and loving food.
Yeah, suddenly her appeal makes perfect sense.
She probably also doesn't know that we'll be at her book-signing in Dallas next month, but if she's wondering about the 20-something clan of girls staring at her with star-struck awe and saying "you are my hero!" I can pretty much guarantee that's us.
Anyone hungry yet?
I hope you get a kick out of this book of mine. I hope it makes you smile. I hope the recipes bring you recognition, accolades, and marriage proposals. And I hope it encourages even the most harried urban cook to slow down, relish the joys of family, nature, and great food, and enjoy life.
-Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I called when I left dinner and she told me Lily was asleep and to come over. EL has twin siblings still in high school, and one of their friends was on the couch, holding the sleeping munchkin. She passed her over to me and I took her with the same carefulness I give my cup of coffee while walking to my car every morning, so as not to wake her up.
She stayed in my arms for quite a while and I talked to her closed eyelids about how much she looks like her daddy and played with her tiny hands which EL told me she likes to ball up at or around her face while she sleeps. I told EL that my dad always reminds me I would roll my wrists and ankles around as a baby as well as sleep with my arms above my head, and I still do both of those things as a 24-year-old.
Lily started getting squirmy and crying which immediately made me think I had done something wrong, but EL was unfazed, saying she was just hungry. She took her into her family's study and we sat and talked while the baby nursed for a half hour. I asked her a hundred questions about her labor and contractions and how much she's sleeping, if nursing hurts, how often you have to do it, how strange it is for someone to need you constantly, etc. Her answers confirmed that there is so much I don't know about pregnancy or babies, but even more so that things completely vary case-by-case.
It was a surreal experience to be in the room with her last night because we would sit around and talk in the same fashion when we were roommates our freshman year of college... only then it was on our twin beds with coordinating comforters. She was so calm; very much herself, just tired and with bigger boobs. (Crass and off-topic, but it's true!) EL's own mother is very calm even with four kids and she seems like she will be the same way. Lily sleeps fine on her own during the day but apparently likes to sleep on the stomach of a family member at night with her legs hiked up like a frog... a seven-pound, three-week-old frog.
Pretty stinking adorable.
I might just visit her again tomorrow to get a picture.
People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one.
-Leo J. Burke
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
The final wedding I will attend in 2009 is tomorrow. My friend HA is getting married in Dallas and as usual, our college pals are flying in from their various corners of the U.S. to be here. She and her fiance are the same age, had overlapping groups of friends and have been dating since college, so this will be quite reminiscent of a sorority date party.
New friends, old lovers... old friends, new lovers... me driving to the airport to pick up CC tomorrow, who is attending two weddings in two states on the same day...
Should be interesting!
Jane: You write the most beautiful things. Do you actually believe in love and marriage and just pretend to be a cynic or are you actually a cynic who knows how to spin romantic crap for girls like me?
Kevin: I didn't follow that at all, but I think the second one, the spinning crap one.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
My parents have a dog, Lucy, a 12-year-old Bichon who has been mistaken for a baby sheep by small children and Australian Shepherds in her lifetime. She's small and cotton ball-looking and not Lab-like at all.
I've mentioned before my roommate MG's black lab named Ruby who lives with us. Ruby is a two-year-old trained guide dog and she's great to have around. She is extremely active and likes to give subtle hints like "hey let's play fetch" by dropping a tennis ball into the refrigerator drawer when you're unloading groceries. She will carry newspapers, tennis shoes and even logs for firewood for you.
She also loves people food.
We have come home various times to find loaves of bread demolished, empty bags of tortilla chips and torn-open bags of powdered, white, brown and raw sugar. Anything left on the counter is fair game, but she can also get into some of the cabinets. One day she feasted on a pound of chocolate toffee, which was wrapped with a bow in a brown box, and there was also a bag of grape tomatoes squished and scattered throughout the downstairs area of our house. She likes rifling through the contents of the trash can from time to time too. She learned everything from her predecessor Belle, RIP, who was known to hide food throughout MG's family's house and once ate a squirrel whole while on a walk.
Last Friday morning I came downstairs to make coffee and found a new box of raw sugar sitting on the counter, unopened. I looked for the box I had already been using all week but it was nowhere to be found. Not up for mind games at 8 AM, I opened the new sugar and went about my day.
We spent the weekend at MG's family's lake house, and she realized she hadn't told me about the most recent sugar incident. Turns out, Ruby ate my raw sugar, a box of yellow packets of Splenda with fiber (yeah I know, fiber) and also managed to get some caramel rice cakes by opening the cabinet under our kitchen sink and pulling them out of a drawer with a small opening into the cabinet. I started calling her MacGyver after that.
Did I forget to mention that she ate a whole bag of Goldfish, a PBJ sandwich and a carton of yogurt while MG left her in her car while running an errand one morning? She also ate an entire bulk-sized bag of Frosted Mini Wheats cereal yesterday.
I learned at the lake that she's also a huge fan of swimming, seeing as she would drop a stick into the lake and launch into a full-speed belly-flop after it to get it. Her parents have another black lab puppy named Murray, who enjoyed waiting for Ruby to fetch the stick so that she could wrestle it away once she got back to the dock.
We also had a chocolate lab puppy, Sawyer, come to stay with us a few weekends ago while her owners were away for a weekend. Ruby was annoyed for a solid 48 hours and Sawyer gave my little basil plant a run for its money:
It now looks more like something in league with Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.
(This is actually Sawyer's sister Kenna, who belongs to a couple we know, but they look like twins so you get the idea.)
MG has taken some preventative measures and Ruby now has a shock-collar which works remotely, so we may or may not set her up for failure in the form of Halloween candy to deter her sneaky tendencies.
Can you really blame this little face for anything though?
"A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water log stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if your rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?"
- Josh Grogan, Marley & Me
Friday, October 2, 2009
I should really get out more...
Or not, since I'm driving a rental car sans-rental insurance.
While robed, checking Twitter and waiting for my appointment I realized I was the only brunette getting my hair done and found myself vastly outnumbered by Dallas Blondes. It was like being stuck in Austin Powers with a room full of femme bots- only I was in the Park Cities and there were women everywhere with frozen expressions, staring into mirrors or at magazines with foil all up in their hair. Someone needs to study the effects of peroxide fumes on the brain, no?
I left to go to KR and MK's place for Community Group, and it ended up being only MK, MG, CC and myself. With the majority of the group unable to attend this week, we sat around to chat, eat grapes and sample various flavors of Braum's ice-cream. Peanut butter and Snickers? Surprisingly good.
Conversation floated and I noticed that MG was making a list in her journal; creative writing courses, calligraphy class, living in Spain, teaching English in Latin America... Just things that had been on her mind making their way to paper. We discussed continuing education, classes we would consider taking and how we just miss talking about books and literary things.
Hi, welcome to life with English nerds. Non-stop fun.
We talked about ideas for the future, in a hopeful but directional sense. I see now that graduating college and working full time puts you in a position to realize your talents and what you really care about. And while my friends have goals and dreams aplenty among us, I don't see many examples in my own life of people looking simply to climb the corporate ladder or take a job simply to make more money. This manifests itself differently depending on the person but on some level we all want our work to have meaning and purpose.
I don't mean to paint my friends as pipe-smoking philosophers because that's not the case at all, but I do find refreshing the fact that our conversations have substance. Not gossip or idle chatter but rather honest questions and genuine interest in each other's lives.
We are women and I think that makes us dreamers by nature, but I also like seeing appreciation and "carpe diem" for the now...
The peanut butter and Snicker's ice-cream doesn't hurt anything, either.
Why do so many...settle for so little? I don't understand why they're not greedy for what's inside them.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
KS and I both responded that no, she didn't need to do that because her hair still looked good. KS also pointed out that she shouldn't look like she's trying too hard; look good but not too good, an understandable philosophy but one that confused us. When KS is the one going on a date, she's always dressed to the nines.
KS is our resident guru, mind you, concerning all things Male since they may as well be aliens as far as MG and I know. KS seems to understand them a bit better, on a non-extraterrestrial level.
Without missing a beat or looking up from her laptop, KS pointed a finger in the air and said:
Do as I say, not as I do.
Touché, my friend. Case. Closed.