Sunday, February 21, 2010

M's Haircut: Before & After

I hope I don't get killed for this post :) I married a man with a great sense of humor... so I'm thinking I'll be just fine! M got his hair cut last weekend and we took before & after pics. Check 'em out!

Oh, shoot!

I have really enjoyed having our new camera, but I was secretly disappointed that it seemed like I wasn't ever in any pictures! I'm so selfless, right? I *have* been enjoying being behind the lens, learning the SLR and about photography, in general.

But last night... Hubs made a discovery. Behold! The 10 second self timer. M has an amazing ability to "figure things out." It may take him some time, but sooner or later, you'll see him doing something you didn't think he could do. The ten second timer gives him a few seconds to set the shot and take the picture. And look who gets to be in front of the camera once again! :)

What's for Dinner: Garlic-Parmesan Tilapia

This week, things are looking up in the food department! Last night, I made Garlic-Parmesan Tilapia, with steamed zucchini and yellow squash (I had frozen it last week to save it from the trash can, that's why it looks all limp), rice pilaf, and garlic toast on homemade bread.

Question for my fellow cooks... what's up with this? My cookie sheet got all lop-sided in the oven! M says it's because of temperature change. But I can't imagine there's any way to avoid that... I mean going from the counter... into an oven, you're bound to have a temperature change, right? Help me straighten this out:
I also made my best bread dough, ever. It rose to the heavens! I baked one loaf yesterday, and froze the other loaf for later. We'll see how that turns out... I haven't ever frozen bread dough, but I googled it, so I'm sure it will be fine.

Isn't that some beautiful dough??? I'm so confident, haha! Guess I'm getting the hang of it, after baking bread pretty much every weekend for like 7 weeks now! The Frugal Girl will be so proud! :)

From Garden to City

Our church has just started a plan to read through the Bible in about a year. It's called From Garden to City, and the website is so easy to follow, you should really check it out. It's all planned out for you, what to read each day. We've only been at it since Wednesday. It all kicked off at that All Church Celebration I mentioned in the last post. Just a few days in, I'm already stoked to be in God's Word! We are so blessed to be a part of such an amazing church with such an amazing, creative staff! We had a great time Tuesday night, and we even showed up in some of the photos by Mud Productions!

Our Unhealthiest Food Week, Ever

We just wrapped up our unhealthiest food week, ever. Since we've been married, we've eaten fairly healthy, balanced meals. Even for breakfast, we generally do really well. I try hard to make sure we get fruit/vegetable(s) and protein in every meal. Well... last week: FAIL.

Monday: (actually, looking back, this was not bad at all!)
We had pork chops with roasted apples over whole grain brown rice, acorn squash with butter & brown sugar, and steamed broccoli.

Tuesday: We spent the evening in the city at NCC's All Church Celebration! Traffic was a nightmare getting there, but it was totally worth it! Before the service at the Lincoln Theater, we had dinner next door at Ben's Chili Bowl. We both had a half smoke and split a giant order of fries.
Wednesday: I worked really late and even though I had a pound of ground beef thawing all day to make spaghetti with when I got home, it was just way too late to cook and be in bed at a decent time, so Michael ordered dinner to be delivered. I can't even tell you how nice it was to come home knowing that I didn't have to worry about cooking! We split a Greek Salad (*yum*) and a steak sub. That was actually a very decent meal!

Thursday: This was my ultimate failure! I got home really late AGAIN, and that pound of ground beef that had great expectations... of being paired with fresh veggies and whole wheat pasta... ended up in a skillet with the contents of a box of HAMBURGER HELPER! Yes, that's right! I thought to myself as I sprinkled the powdered cheese product over the browned meat... yeah... this will NOT be photographed for the blog! Haha. It tasted pretty yummy, though, but we ate way too much, along with our side of frozen mixed veggies. I felt sick afterwards.

Friday: Um, yeahhh...... again, I didn't get home from work until like 7pm, and I was exHAUSTED! So, I stopped at Wendy's. #1 with cheese, please, oh, and of course, a DIET COKE! Haha.

I should have known this wasn't going to be a good, healthy eating week when our breakfast Sunday morning (or was it Monday?) consisted of... cupcakes and sausage. Ha!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day

I used to be one of those single girls who was pretty happy being single, most of the time. I enjoyed my time to myself, the way that I could travel at the drop of a hat, and own however many pairs of black shoes and black pants I wanted without the slightest hint of guilt. But... I did not like Valentine's Day! That was... until 3 years ago. I got to work on February 13th (I worked the overnight shift, so I would arrive at work at about 11pm on the day before) and there were flowers in the newsroom for ME! I was shocked. I was never one of the girls who had flowers sitting on her desk, ever! I thought, "how sweet... my mom sent me flowers!" Then, after a breath, I thought, "wait... my mom doesn't do that! Cards, yes, but flowers... no, she doesn't feel that sorry for me!" It turns out the flowers were from this guy, Michael. I was living in Pittsburgh and Michael was living in Texas. We had kept in touch for like 8 years via email, chat and recently, we had been talking more and more on the phone. We had talked about how we both had wondered at some point if our friendship could ever be more. But that was months before these arrived in the newsroom at WTAE:

I remember that for some reason, I didn't have my phone with me that night, and I didn't have his phone number memorized, so I sent him an email thanking him for the beautiful flowers. He said it was nice to have someone to send flowers to. And we were both floating for I don't know how long.

In many ways, these Valentine's Day flowers were the beginning of us! I'm so glad he took that chance three years ago! I never would have imagined at the time that the next Valentine's Day... we would spend together in Texas... sharing our first kiss... going out to a great restaurant and spending the evening wandering around a really cool art gallery.

That was V-Day, 2008.

Last year, 2009, we were engaged and saving every penny for the upcoming wedding, so we weren't able to be together for Valentine's Day.

This year, we celebrated our first V-Day as a married couple and it was so sweet! We agreed that in order to save money, we would MAKE eachother's Valentine's Day gifts. It turned out so well, we've now decided that's how we will celebrate each year.

We celebrated last Saturday instead of actually on the 14th, because Sundays are busy for us with church and everything.

Saturday morning, I did something I never thought I'd do. I actually made heart-shaped pancakes!

I realize how super cheesy this is, and a year ago, I probably would have made fun of myself. But it was actually really fun! Plus, now I have a super giant spatula and I love kitchen tools, so that's a good little bonus.

We almost never eat out, so as a treat, that evening, we had a little date night at Chili's - a favorite restaurant.


It was there that we exchanged our valentines.

I made M a list of 50 things I love about him. That was super easy. He made me a series of Bible verses, on business card size paper, so that I can carry them with me and memorize them. This was a great gift of love, because he knows me and my anxiety and how the Word of the Lord calms my soul. I love this man!

When we got home from Chili's.... I had a little something else I'd made for us to enjoy!

PAULA DEEN'S RED VELVET CUPCAKES.... made from scratch, of course! (we are not going to discuss how the red food coloring made my dishwasher look like a murder scene, mmkay?)

But. The cupcakes were lovely!

Here's a link to the recipe. Don't say I didn't warn you... there are two sticks of butter and literally a pound of cream cheese involved!

We set up the camera to take a Valentine's Day picture. So, here you go:

Yes, I'm wearing my wedding rings on my middle finger. They don't fit anymore and I really need to get them sized, but keep not doing it for some reason.

And, of course, a kissing pic, because if you know us... you know that's essential! I hope you all had a very special Valentine's Day as well! Love, love.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Snowmageddon Survivors

We ventured out last Friday before it got bad. We knew it would be pretty much impossible to get around once all of the snow hit the ground, so we went out to take some pictures.

We survived Snomageddon or Snowpocalypse or whatever ridiculous name you want to call it. It doesn't matter how you put it, 3+ feet of snow on the ground is just not okay. Michael and I definitely made the most of it, though. I usually get cabin fever really quickly, like, if we spend oh, I don't know, more than just a day at home! But, I actually enjoyed the time at home! From the top --

M was working the video camera while I tried to get a little artsy with the Nikon.

I made him my bokeh! Yay for me for learning new photography terms. Here are a couple other shots I got that day:

You know it's bad when they mark the fire hydrants so they know where they need to dig them out!

Friday, thankfully, I worked from home:

And, of course, baked. I made the chocolate chip cookies.

I used the recipe from the manual for the Kitchen Aid stand mixer. They were super yummy!

And, there was so much dough, I froze half of it, so we can enjoy it later.

Saturday morning, we woke up to 2 feet something on the ground. It was crazy!!! Instead of looking like everything had been dusted with sugar, it was more like someone spilled a bunch (a.k.a. too much) white icing all. over. the. place!

This was the view from our balcony. That's a school across the street.

This is what I'm talking about. These poor trees couldn't handle it!

And these are cars, not giant marshmallows. I feel sorry for the people who had to dig out their cars! They deserve archeological medals or something! Thank GOD my SUV lives in a garage!

We missed church on Sunday, but we had our own little service in the living room! We sang worship songs, and pulled up the webcast and watched it, and prayed together. It was actually a lot of fun!

Then, of course, I baked some more.

My goal was to make one loaf of sandwich bread for the week, and some pull apart garlic bread.

What I ended up with was one oddly shaped loaf of sandwich bread, and some fall apart garlic bread, but we're not going to dwell on that.

I also made some Turkey Chili for Super Bowl Sunday, even though we didn't watch the game. Just to be festive! I freestyled the chili, but it was a week ago, and now I can't remember everything I put in there, or I'd give you the recipe. Oops! Gotta get back into the swing of things.

We watched a ton of local news, it was quality entertainment!

Monday, the streets were still pretty bad, but I was able to make it to work. There was worry of ANOTHER huge winter storm! We could get 10 to 20 more inches of snow! Whaaaatttt??? My work was kind enough to book hotel rooms for several of us, so we could be sure to get to work on Wednesday.

Well, here's the deal. I don't generally take them up on the offer for a room, because I need/want to be home with Michael to help him get in and out of the bed, fix him food, help him get dressed, etc. etc. etc. He was welcome to stay at the hotel with me, but NOOOOO, Mr. Independent wanted to stay home to take care of the dogs. I was so incredibly nervous about this proposition because I am such a worry wort and I was worried that something would happen, or he wouldn't be able to get to something, or the battery in his chair would die, and who would help him? He was making a point that we needed to do this. So we would know that we can. So, reluctantly, I agreed to it. I made him like three sandwiches, poured coffee, tea, water, and orange juice into containers he could get to, set out the pet food (when I told him the small bites were for the cat and the big bites were for the dogs, he looked at me like, "Seriously??" I can get a little maternal, which I suppose is a good instinct, but isn't the best interpersonal skill when it comes to relating to your spouse, or so I'm learning) and I packed my stuff and headed for work. And you know what? EVERYTHING WAS FINE!! More than fine, I think we both enjoyed ourselves. Michael was so proud when I got home. And I was so proud of him, too. And proud of myself for letting go (for one night!).

It was actually nice to have a night to myself in a hotel, all expenses paid by my employer!

I slept in a nice, fluffy bed all by myself and got almost 8 full hours of uninterrupted sleep! It was heavenly.

I took a really, long, really hot bath/shower and used up almost all of my travel sized products. That, too, was heavenly.

I only had to worry about packing stuff for one person. I'm an OCD packer, can you tell? :)

Had horrible hotel room coffee.

Then... I looked out the window. Sigh. I trekked down to work for a few hours... then the official BLIZZARD hit! So, I got sent home. I took pictures on my crazy/scary/snowy/icy/blinding drive home. Don't worry, I think my maximum speed was like 10 mph, so it's not like I was flying down the highway snapping pictures left and right. Here's a look at my journey home Wednesday:

Aaaaahhhh. I have never been so happy to pull into a parking garage IN. MY. LIFE!

Thursday, I worked from home, and made a to.die.for Pot Roast, that of course I have no photos of :)

This morning in church, Pastor Mark said we should have t-shirts that say "I survived Snowmageddon." So true! I bet they do exist somewhere.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Days

Most days I work out of the house, especially with the crazy weather lately. The DC area has had record snow this winter. In December around two feet and in the past week around THREE! With so much accumulation, the streets, sidewalks, yards, everything has been a white mess.

Dana's work required her to be in the city Tuesday and Wednesday, despite the looming blizzard. They stayed in hotels overnight to skip the commute. I was invited, but knew the pets would do better with somebody at home. So we braved the night while Dana stayed in the city. Yesterday, with more weather headed their way, Dana's boss sent them home for yesterday and she took a snow day today to work from home.

So it has been nice today having my partner around the house. We got an extra couple hours sleep and have enjoyed just being around each other. Even though I'm working on my school and Web projects and she has her stuff, the house is a little less empty with her around. Looking ahead to eating some roast and homemade bread for lunch -- together.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What's for Dinner: Roasted Chicken & Potatoes

Last night, I kind of freestyled dinner again. I'm declaring it "Freezer February" and in an effort to keep our grocery shopping to a minimum, we are going to try to eat down some of the stuff that's in our freezer. We had a chicken in the freezer, so I cooked that last night, with some sliced up red potatoes and red onion. We had homemade bread on the side, and green bean casserole (I went with the recipe on the French's fried onions can for that).
Roasted Chicken and Potatoes:
1 chicken, mine was cut apart, but you could obviously roast it whole!
Red potatoes, halved/quartered (they varied in size)
1/2 giant red onion, chopped
A few shakes of the following:
A few tablespoons of the following:
Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
and a bay leaf
I mixed all of the spices and olive oil in a large bowl and tossed the potatoes and onion in the mixture. I spread the same mixture all over the chicken. Roast in oven, uncovered, for about 1 hour, 20 minutes at 400 degrees. *
*I googled and read that you should cook chicken to an internal temperature of 180 degrees, but in the end, we were starving and growing impatient and our chicken's internal temperature was only 160 degrees. It was done, and juicy and we are both still happy and healthy!

Funny side note: When we first moved into our apartment, I swear our smoke detector could SMELL. Seriously! Every time I would cook anything on the stove or in the oven and it created a scent, not smoke, just a scent! the thing would start beeping. We got maintenance to come out and they installed a newer, less sensitive, but still somewhat easily offended smoke alarm. Occasionally, it will still go off when I'm cooking. The funny thing is, Brokaw is so conditioned... to think that if I turn on the overhead fan.. that the alarm will go off. So, every time I turn on the fan over the stove, he completely freaks out!! He paces all over the apartment with his tail down between his legs and hides under Michael's wheelchair! Guess that's his "safe spot."

Leadership Retreat Reflections

Hi everyone. I am taking a break from swimming in the details of President Obama's proposed budget for FY2011. My brain hurts. I figure a quick blog about nothing of national attention, and also that doesn't include ANY numbers, would be a nice little getaway.

An update on us... it snowed AGAIN! I think this may be like the 4th time it's snowed this season, and that's just craziness! They were only calling for an inch or so, but we got wallopped again... I'd say about 4 or 5 inches! Michael and I were driving home from the Leadership Retreat Saturday night and were shocked to see the Beltway and Interstate 66 hadn't even been touched by the snow plows and salt trucks!

We had an AMAZING weekend, though. Such an honor to be a part of National Community Church. Our staff clearly has their eyes, ears and hearts tuned into what God has in store for 2010 and beyond, and we're just honored to get to be a part of it. You can read Michael's twitter updates from the weekend here.

My own personal reflections... well, I haven't totally digested them yet, but I will tell you that as we sang and prayed, I kept feeling this urge to think on the words "In Your Name...." I know I need to do a better job of praying in, hoping in, and trusting in His name. As a church, we are committing to reading through the Bible in a year. I'm excited for, and secretly intimidated by this goal. It'll start in Lent! I was also challenged in the leadership role we play in the Prayer Ministry at NCC. I want to be a better, more focused, more encouraging leader. I want to see people and love them and care about them like Jesus does.

Michael and I committed to each other that during this first year of our marriage, we would be 100% focused on our relationship and not take on any additional ministry responsibilities. I thought of this during the retreat. My marriage and my love and service to my husband is my #1 priority. Hands down. But, I definitely haven't thought of it as a "ministry."

I tend, by nature of a coping mechanism, I believe, to compartmentalize a lot. I like to keep my work stuff at work, my home stuff at home. My friend stuff where it belongs. Family stuff in its own place. But, boy!! Has marriage really stirred the pot up! No matter how hard I try, I can't keep all of my hats on their own hooks. You know, the wife hat, the nurse hat, the chef hat, the maid hat, the driver hat. And sometimes, juggling all of my new hats, in addition to the ones I had before I got married, you know... the daugher hat, the friend hat, the sister hat, the TV news producer hat, the blogger hat... I often feel overwhelmed. Or, as we jokingly say around our house "all the whelmed."

I am reminded of a simple truth that I often lose sight of. Colossians 3:17: "... whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Now, if I can just remember that!
Oh, how I do have this deep desire to really fall in love with the Word of God. To really have it written on my heart. I know that would help me, would center me, would calm the storms of worry and anxiety in my heart. I know this, in part, because sometimes, late at night (figuratively speaking, since we often go to bed before 8pm!) when I'm laying there... sometimes in tears because the day that's ending, or the one that we'll face tomorrow is full of uphill battles or to do lists or lots of hat switching... my dear husband will gently whisper God's word into my ears... and it. always. calms me down.

Someday... I do see us "in ministry." But, we are now, too. In our marriage. I am now re-framing... re-focusing... trying to really think of my role as a wife as a ministry role.