Monday, May 23, 2011

kickin' it old world.

this weekend, we had the pleasure to celebrate the wedding of one of Mark's many college roommates. it was a renaissance-themed event, with bits of Scottish and other Celtic inspiration thrown in for good measure. Mark and I had decided way back when we got the invitation to try our best to dress to fit the theme. I ended up wearing a flowy dress with gladiator-style-looking sandals, and Mark probably could have passed for either a medieval peasant or a pirate. he was more theme-appropriately dressed than his other roommates who came wearing ties. (but only after they were told that making their own suits of armor and coming as tin-foil knights would probably not be a good plan) how do you think we did?

the ceremony was performed by the bride's father, also known for the day as Friar Tuck, in a small clearing surrounded by woods. the guests witnessed the nuptuals while seated on straw bales draped with swags of plaid fabric.

the bride was stunning in a floor-length, long-sleeved, cream satin gown with a plaid sash that matched the groom's kilt. they each wrote and read their own vows, which were full of truth and love and wisdom and made me go 'aaawwww'.

(this is, unfortunately, the best picture i have of the happy couple)

we sat for appetizers and dinner at long tables decked out with wooden plates and forks, mason jar mugs, and centerpieces of old books, colored glass jars, and wildflowers.

dinner was phenomenal. i mean really, when the menu includes everything from meat pies to giant turkey legs and even a dish called compost (for serious - it's at the very top of  my plate), how could it not be?

(i opted for the smaller portioned chicken leg)

it was all delicious and we ate until we were stuffed.

and then there was cake. pear spice cake to be exact. mmmm....delicious. and isnt it gorgeous too? just perfect for the day. oh and did i mention that they cut it with a SWORD?! just awesome.

we ended the celebration by learning a few Celtic line dances. we were not so good at the jig-step, but we made a pretty good attempt at it, even if to an outsider it might have looked a lot like random jumping and flailing. we laughed and danced until the generator ran out of gas (twice!) and we subsequently ran out of power for the stereo system.

all in all, the day was a lot of fun. we came away from it sweaty, sunburned, and bug-bitten, but also happy, laughing, smiling, and excited for the amazing things that God has planned for these newlyweds. i just love a good wedding!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

clarity in the fog.

this morning, i drove to work in a fog. and not the kind of mental fog that i spend almost every morning in, but a literal fog. it was the kind of fog that was more beautiful than scary as i drove through it, discovering each section of roadway as it revealed itself from the clouds in front of me. and even though i usually prefer sunshiney days, i found myself thanking God for the fog this morning.

because some days its good to have a reminder that even though we can't always see the way in front of us, God can. and He will show us exactly how far ahead we need to see to keep moving forward. no more, and no less. the whole plan is out there, just waiting for us to discover it as piece by piece it is revealed. some days the fog might be as thick as pea soup, or even like peanut butter, and those are the days on which we rely most heavily on God, trusting that he knows what he's doing.

may we learn to cling to Christ as if we are in the midst of peanut-butter-thick fog, even on the clear days.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

back in the kitchen again.

i am setting myself a new challenge. some might call it a resolution, or a goal, or even a *asthmatic gasp!* cooking project.

it will be nothing as crazy as the meal-planning adventures i have tried before, because i will be the first to admit that the week of cooking all new recipes three times a day back in January was a bit much. it left me stressed and burnt out, and once the week was over i was more than happy to fall into a mealtime pattern of pasta or pizza with a side of eating out. in short, it was the same old thing week after week, and required little more of me than boiling water or turning on the oven. (although remembering to take the pizza off its cardboard backing before putting it in the oven was a bit of a challenge, but we don't talk about that anymore) so i have decided that it would be good for our diets as well as my sense of domesticity to try something new every so often.

so here's the plan: every week, i pick a new recipe to make. just one new recipe a week. i think i can totally handle that. i'll probably blog some of them, most likely not all of them, because some things are more fun to share than others.

i started last night, with a pretty simple recipe from Jaime's Food Revolution cookbook: spaghetti and meatballs. i stuck with an industry standard for starters, because i didnt decide to do this whole new cooking adventure thing until after we had done the shopping for the week, and i didnt want to have to run out again mid-week because i think we all know how i feel about the grocery store.

the only ingredient i did not have was fresh rosemary. so i used the dried stuff i had in my spice rack. and since my only previous experience with rosemary made me feel like i was eating little twigs, i decided to chop it up into smaller bits of twig. except that apparently i have the mexican jumping variety of rosemary, and even though i kept one hand over the knife as i chopped it, i still ended up with half my kitchen covered in tiny rosemary twigs.

i mixed what was left of my attempt at chopped rosemary into the meat with everything else, shaped it into 24 perfect little meatballs, and forgot to take a picture of them. if i would have known that was the last time they would be perfect in any way, i might have been more diligent with my documentation.

it was at this point that things went downhill. i'm not sure if it was the pan i was using, or that my crackers were not beaten into small enough pieces, or if i under- or overestimated the volume of a "lug of olive oil," but i quickly realized after putting them into the pan that my perfect meatballs were on the fast track to becoming nothing more than fancy browned ground beef.

oh! the carnage!

after a change of pans, things went much more smoothly. and so what if my perfect little meatballs ended up looking more like oddly shaped little meat-cubes? a victory's a victory, no matter how small.

the recipe went on to tell me how to make my own sauce, but i already had that covered.

mmm... jar sauce!

so there you have it. week one of an indefinite journey of cooking new things equals a tasty success.

Friday, May 13, 2011

plenty of polyester with a 70's disco flair.

**I had this great entry written that i was going to post last night, as soon as i got the picture i needed. it flowed well, it was witty, and i was kind of proud of it. and then blogger crashed and ate it, along with all the great comments you guys left on my last post. so this is my best attempt to recreate it.**

the other day after work, i decided that i wanted to go to Goodwill. so i called up my friend (did you catch that? i have a friend in Maryland!) and we decided to meet up to hang out and do some discount shopping. i was in search of something to wear to a Renaissance-themed wedding next weekend. she was in search of a reason to not go running. we were not disappointed.

i think i managed to pull together some pretty good outfits for the wedding. hopefully we'll fit the theme and still look like we're dressed up for a wedding instead of like we're just dressed up for Halloween. i promise to post pictures of us all dolled up.

what i was not in search of was an item that could bring back happy memories of countless events in my growing up years while simultaneously have me imagining the same number of future events and memories to be made. and yet, thats exactly what i found.

anyone up for a picnic? cuz i have the perfect blanket!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

a random number of reasons my blog will never make me rich and famous.

1. i dont own a really nice camera. this really has nothing to do with anything. but deep down, part of me would just like to have a nice camera that doesnt have such a long delay between when i push the button and when the picture is actually taken. as it is, my photographic memories tend to have a Lassie-esque feel to them. but if my fortune and fame were dependant on the quality of photos i take, then i might be able to convince myself that i deserve a really nice camera.

this is where i was going to post a picture.
but i forgot to take one.
so maybe instead of a new camera,
i just need a new memory.
or maybe if i had a new camera,
i would remember to use it.

2. i dont update every day. i tried it once. remember? that one time i cooked? it was exhausting. why not try posting on a regular schedule, you say? like every other day or something? oh please. like i have ever been able to stick to any sort of schedule ever in my life. if i have learned anything about myself in my 24 years, it is that when it comes to organization i'm mostly a lost cause.

3. i dont have many interesting stories in my life, at least not any that my four faithful readers (who are also my family)(hi Mom!) don't already know, and sometimes even know better than me. and once those stories have all been told, minus the ones i dont know that i would be comfortable sharing on the internets, then i'm done. all out. kaput. and to be a rich and famous blogger i'm guessing that you should have enough material to provide for more longeivity (sp?) than that.

4. i'm not extremely tech-saavy. i'm more what you might call tech-mediocre. i'm fine with email and facebook, i work on a computer all day, i can teach my boss how to burn a file to CD, i shop online, and i would be lost without my iPod. but i'm not on twitter, i dont have a smart phone (mostly because i'm cheap, not because i dont want one), i still read books that are !printed on paper!, i have a site designer who takes care of all my blog-related issues, and if anything ever goes wrong with my computer my first reaction is just to cry (so dont even Think about asking about the external harddrive. its too bad to even talk about. consider yourself forewarned). so keeping up with stats and tracking down trolls and IP addresses and html traffic open source typeface comments bandwidth GPU phishing terabyte unitard hockey puck monkeymonkeyunderpants!

*deep breath*
... so moving  on...

5. i dont have any kids. if you want baby pictures, try my sister's site instead.

5a. i dont have a gimmick at all to keep people coming back for more.  i dont cook, i dont keep a clean house, i definately dont knit, i dont do crafts often enough to warrant putting them online, and i cant afford to take a year off to travel the world. all i have is me and my crazy. and really, i dont know that there's much of a demographic that is interested in reading about the inner workings of the sometimes off-kilter mind of a young wife in the suburbs.

6. i think that ads on blogs are just plain ugly. and annoying. especially those ones that EXPAND when you roll over them and cover half of the page you were trying to read a second ago but now will waste the next ten minutes trying to find the little hidden [x] in the ad that will make it Just Go Away but inevitably you will end up accidentally clicking the ad and be whisked away from the site you actually wanted to read to a new site that will tell you all the joys of Ranch Dressing or Hair Products or Gory Movies or Toothbrushes or some other such nonsense. and are you prepared to deal with that?!? i didnt think so. so why dont you just thank me profusely for not putting that stress into your life. and maybe send presents.

7. i am not a writer. i mean yeah, i had some pretty kick-butt english teachers in high school and i almost tested out of taking any english class in college (and then the one i ended up taking was a cinema class which hardly even counts), but lets be real here. numbers are my thing. they just make sense to me. (so do nerdy jokes and almost every episode of the Big Bang Theory) i appreciate the fact that when it comes to numbers, there is such a thing as a right and wrong answer. there are formulas and patterns and have you ever SEEN a fractal? there is just something comforting in knowing that no matter how complex a problem might appear, it can all be worked down to a concrete, definite answer.
but with words, there is subjectivity. there are people who will judge you for mispronouncing words like naked, epitome, and misled. and there is always a chance that no matter how many words you know or use, you may never be able to have a clear answer to complex problems.

8. i dont know that i really want to be a rich and famous blogger. i mean really, thats a lot of pressure. i write here because i enjoy it. i get a kick out of seeing my thoughts written down, watching the connections that happen so quickly and are so hard to follow in my head become fleshed out. and i put it out there primarily to keep in touch with my family as we're all spread out. and i leave it out there just on the off chance that someone else might find anecdotes about cows and crickets and the MVA as funny as i do and that it might brighten their day just a little bit.

so i hope your day has been brightened by my random outpouring of thoughts. and if this post didnt quite do it for you, then try back tomorrow.* there is no form or function to this space because there is no form or function to the majority of my thoughts, so you never know what to expect. so you can never get bored. so you always come back for more.

huh, maybe i do have a gimmick after all!

*and of course by tomorrow i mean whenever i get around to writing something new. see reason #2 that i will never be able to support myself with this blogging thing. complete and utter unreliability.

Friday, May 6, 2011

my morning: a story in four-part harmony.

i tried a new techie-trick today. i'm more than a little proud of myself. and i'll tell you all about it in a minute i swear. but first, there is a little backstory that needs to be told.

i slept in an extra five minutes this morning, because you know how there is always a chance that you got your days messed up and its really Saturday and you dont really have to get up and showered and to work on time? well that was not the case today. so i got up and showered and dressed. i spent too long making myself look presentable, blowdrying and straightening my hair (and did i REALLY need to pluck my eyebrows this morning? apparently so.)  and i pulled out of the driveway an extra five minutes late.

so i'm driving on 83, passing the typically obnoxious slow drivers and making good time, when all of a sudden around a corner up ahead i notice a GIANT cloud of smoke obscuring the whole width of the highway. so of course i grabbed my phone and took a picture:

and as i drove by (after the idiot car got done passing me on the right) i took another picture. because the car! it was ON FIRE!*

and from the looks of the scene, with no emergency responders, no flares, no traffic calming anything, it couldnt have happened very long before i drove by. maybe oh, about 5 minutes? funny how those things go sometimes, huh?

*sorry for the lack of actual fire in the picture. it was there i swear. i blame the idiot passing-on-the-right-while-driving-past-a-car-on-fire car for making me take such a bad cell phone picture while i was driving.

after i took these awesome pictures of the out-of-the-ordinary-ness of my morning commute, i was sad when i realized that i did not have the appropriate cord to connect my phone to my computer to get the pictures off my phone to share with the world. stupid phone. but then! in a stroke of genius! i decided to play around with the options on my phone, just to see what it could do. and i pushed a button that said 'Send to Online Album' and i got a little happy when it told me 'Message Sent'

and then i realized that i didnt really know where it got sent.

i found it on the verizon website, in an Online Album of all places! my phone might not be a smart phone, but its not a dumb phone thats for sure. i cant believe i haven't known about this before now! oh the pictures i will be able to share with you! without the hassle of cords and cards and oh my Yay!!! i am awesome techie-wonder-girl, hear me roar!

it just so happens that in my Online Album of wonder, i have options. for Fun Effects. two whole sub-heading's worth of Picture Enhancements and Fun Effects (way to be creative with your naming structure, verizon) so not only is it super easy now for me to share my awesome grainy cell phone pictures with you, but i can ENHANCE them too!

they can be in soft focus, adding a blurry kind of magical, ethereal feeling to any moment:

or antiqued, for that lovely sepia-toned feeling that cell-phone-picture-worthy events in your life actually happened a long long time ago:

as a Fun Effect, you can make your pictures look like a cartoon:

 or add a speech bubble, so now we can know just what that car was Really thinking:

and if you're feeling really giddily excited about your new techie discovery and still laughing way too hard at that last picture, you can even COMBINE the Fun Effects and wind up with gems like this one of a kind cropped black and white cartoon complete with thought bubble!:

all these and more can be yours for the low low price of whatever outrageous monthly fee my phone plan costs. try it for yourself today!

do not use your cameraphone while driving. Amidala is not responsible for car accidents, cars on fire, or making you laugh so hard at that talking car on fire that you involuntarily shot milk out of your nose just now. ok, maybe that last one. but seriously, drive

Monday, May 2, 2011

in need of motivation.

or Why I Am Going to Look Awful in my Bathing Suit This Summer.

i have a confession to make: i am extremely self-conscious and self-critical when it comes to my body. deep down i KNOW that i am not overweight, or really all that unhealthy, and my husband tells me all the time just how amazing he thinks i look. but somedays, i just dont see it in myself. instead, i see a massive breakout. i see unruly hair. i see the little bit of lovehandles that stick out over those-jeans-that-used-to-be-a-little-loose. i see the part of my gut that i cant suck in no matter how hard i try. i know what i want to see in the mirror, what i used to see in the mirror, and instead i have my comfort-food-winter-weight body looking back at me. and i want SO MUCH to get back to where i want to be.

but it is just SO HARD to be good, and to eat healthy, and to keep excercising. and since i am a lazy bum, instead of going for a run or something, i decided to spend my time making a list of things i can blame for why i'm having such a hard time toning back up and getting myself into bathing-suit shape.

1. Easter. not the part where Jesus rose from the dead (He is risen, INDEED!), or the part where i get a reason to dress up in a pretty dress* and fabulous new heels that took me three weeks to break in. i lovelovelove both of those things.

but whose idea was it to put the holiday with the sugar and the chocolate and the chocolate covered peanut butter and the JELLYBEANS right at the end of winter and the beginning of training for bathing suit season? you are mean and sadistic Corporate Easter Candy Man. and i would hate you except that i'm kind of on too much of a jellybean-induced sugar high to be angry.

2. cheetos. and donuts. and chocolate. and jellybeans. junk food just tastes too good!

3. my bathroom scale. i am scared of it. i have not weighed myself in well over a year. one time, i decided to be healthy. i bought a scale. it was pretty and glass and looked hip and trendy. (well, as hip and trendy as a cheap bathroom scale can look) and i think it told me my weight a grand total of ONE TIME before it stopped working. i bought it new batteries. it sputtered and died again. i gave up.
for our wedding, we registered for a new scale. one that needed no batteries. it has a slightly retro feel to it. i refuse to stand on it. because i know that i wont be able to blame the batteries or lack thereof for whatever number it will tell me. i kind of dont want to know.

4. my own messed up sense of a reward system. for example: on days that i am extra good, or i go to Jazzercise, or i go for a run, i feel good about myself. therefore, i feel like i need to be rewarded. with ice cream. sometimes topped with strawberrys if i'm still feeling a little healthy. but sometimes topped with oreos and chocolate chips. and always doused with a heavy helping of dark chocolate syrup. and if that doesnt cancel out any and all effects of my lame attempts at a healthy lifestyle, then i dont even know what.

5. my propensity for making excuses. because there is always something else to be done. something that needs to be cleaned. laundry that cannot wait. dishes to clean. toenails to be painted. books to be read. projects to think about starting. and really if i were to take time to work out right now, then none of that other stuff would get done and i would just be a big epic fail of a person and we cant have that now can we?

maybe this month will be the one where i start to get it together. maybe...

* yay for finding a way to post pictures of me and my pretty Easter dress a week late and still be in context!