Thursday, April 22, 2010

Unsent Letters

Dear Mother Who Seems to be Fishing for Friendly Remarks about Your Demonic Son:

You won't be getting any from me.

The teacher who doesn't get paid enough to deal with your child's behavior issues and whose pregnancy has made her less inclined to pretend that she does

P.S. Last time I checked, your precious, irresponsible cherub is in tenth grade, not second. I'm not sure exactly when he missed that memo. . .

Dear Lower Back Pain,

I suspect you may be Sciatica. The fact that I had to brace myself against a table yesterday while teaching (to stop myself from screaming in agony) kind of made me think so. When I had to limp to avoid putting weight on my left leg, it only solidified the suspicion. I will be discussing this with the midwife at my next appointment. I don't appreciate the stabbing pain in my lower lumbar. I get that I didn't have to vomit for six months like a lot of women do while pregnant, and I know I should be grateful that this is my only real burden to bear (although becoming pudgy has not been too pleasant either). Even so, I would appreciate it if you stayed away for awhile. Let's try to have more days like today, when I didn't feel you at all.

The woman who has been forced to give up her heels for flats

Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

I am very excited to celebrate your birthday tomorrow. Just saying your name makes me long for an escape to the London theatre. Whether I am reading your tragedies, comedies, or sonnets, my thoughts and feelings for you never change.

The woman who wishes she was in London buying tickets to your plays, instead of teaching high school English

Dear Carnation Instant Breakfast,

I really have learned to "love you in an instant." Thanks for saving my life this week. It makes it so much easier to get some calories into my empty tummy while running out the door when all I have to do is add a package of your chocolate-y goodness to a glass of milk and stir. While I know I have been irresponsible by sleeping until 6:45 every morning when I know I can't get ready in 30 minutes, I appreciate you standing by me.

The epitome of the anti-morning person

Dear Recliner,

I apologize profusely for telling my husband I didn't want you. When he insisted you were the one article of furniture he wanted to inherit from his grandfather, I kind of thought you were . . . ugly. Or at least that you would look out of place in my house. I have seen the error of my ways. You are the only place I feel complete comfort while sleeping. After giving up sleeping on my back, being able to recline in your leathery, soft embrace is heaven. You have given me some of the best naps of my life recently, and for that I am grateful.

A woman who is contemplating sleeping in you every night

Dear Wonderful Husband,

I am sorry that I woke you up at 3:00 in the morning when I shattered a water glass on our bathroom floor. Before today, stumbling around in the dark on multiple potty trips during the night has worked pretty flawlessly. Thank you for coming to my rescue with a broom and dustpan without being asked, and for not complaining once. I thought it was really sweet, heroic even. I love you.

Your Dish

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring Break

Last Spring Break my family came to visit me. I spent my vacation falling in love with the city I would adore to someday call home (Charleston, South Carolina), paddling through alligator-infested waters, and devouring all you can eat crab legs at Captain George's in Myrtle Beach. This year, my family was 2,236 miles away, and I was here with no vacation plans and a rapidly growing belly. This was slightly depressing. I got most sad when I found out my aunt, uncle, and cousins were going to be in Salt Lake visiting my family at the end of my Spring Break. In fact, I think they're still there. This is how I feel about that:

(Photo taken today, at 24 weeks)

I even checked airline tickets in a state of desperation, thinking just maybe there was some $100 round trip deal from Raleigh to Salt Lake that could soar me out to the loving arms of my family.
About that . . . Didn't happen.

I wallowed for a few days but managed to have a relaxing vacation, and I even snuck in a little bit of near-home fun.

Chad and I shot a small wedding in Raleigh to kick off Spring Break. The bride is a coworker of mine whom I adore. She is a sweetheart and a half. The ceremony was very intimate, and the entire affair very casual. I think it definitely should go down in history as the wedding with the least amount of stress. It made photographing the event feel easy, and we had a great time.

We also started some projects around the house. I have been wanting to do something about my front door situation. If you don't know what a front door "situation" is, let me enlighten you. We live on a corner lot, and our house faces the corner. It does not face our driveway. You cannot see the front door from the driveway, and the "brilliant" landscape architects who owned the home before us chose to lay the brick path that leads to our front door not beginning at the driveway, but at the street. The busy street where no one would EVER possibly park. It was a brick path to nowhere, my friends. This means that everyone who ever comes to my house (the pest control man, the grandmother of the teenager who rear-ended us and wanted to check up on me, the person who I expect any day to come and tell me I've inherited a million big ones from some dead relative I've never met) comes not to my front door, which opens into my always-straight-and-tidy-living-room, but instead to my BACK door, which opens into my not-always-so-straight-and-tidy breakfast room and kitchen. There is nothing worse than having an unexpected guest show up at your kitchen door. Nothing like greeting someone with a sink full of dirty dishes. And let's face it, no one unexpectedly shows up when your kitchen looks great. It just doesn't happen. It's like an unwritten law.

So. Now that you understand the front door "situation," you understand why I wanted to move the brick path that leads to nowhere and have it lead to somewhere. People will probably still come to the back door, but at least we can try.

Enter my amazing father-in-law. Seriously. Have you MET the man? He is fabulous. He is like every daughter-in-law in the world's dream. I have complained about this path a lot, and he knew that we were getting ready to start landscaping our yard. I told him I wanted to move the path, but I needed someone to come help me map out what it should look like. He came to our house EARLY on a Saturday morning, and while we were slumbering in our beds, moved cement pavers from our flower beds (that we were going to move anyway, because they were stacked in an atrociously ugly manner--another of the "brilliant" moves of the previous owners) into a cute little outline for a brick path FOR me. I know, you probably think I am kidding. I am not. He didn't even wake us up, he just did it. It was like a little landscape fairy (a very masculine type of fairy, mind you) stepped in to save the day.

Then, he helped us move the bricks from the previous path, start digging the new path, and replace the grass with the sod we dug up (by me, I mean they. I have done no digging, but I did help move bricks.)

THEN, when Chad and I went to Raleigh to spend a fun day together at the Museum of Natural Science, he came to our house while we were GONE and dug some more. WHO IS THIS MAN? Seriously, I love my father-in-law. He is like a super hero. He is one of the most unselfish people I have ever met. He does nice stuff like this for us all the time. This is the progress we have made on the path thus far:

(Also, notice our beautiful, shiny black shutters. Chad and I repainted those a few weeks ago.)

There are going to be flower beds that will curve out around the house and meet the path. It's going to be really beautiful when it's all said and done.

In the spirit of home improvement, I went shopping with my mother-in-law (who is also amazing, like her husband, and treated me to lunch) and I bought these adorable plates to coordinate with our kitchen:

How fun, right?!?! Don't you just want to EAT something at my house, so you can use them? Come on over (just use the front door). I found them at TJ Maxs, which if you didn't know is a code word for the most amazing store ever.

I spray painted another free piece of wicker furniture, and put this baby in our breakfast room:

And I spray painted an old floor lamp (also free) and found a lampshade for $2.99 so we can have a floor lamp next to our recliner.

Perhaps it is because of my pregnant state that a lot of my vacation also involved food and feeling sentimental.

I was thinking about my Grandma Joy the other day, and I instantly wanted to make club sandwiches, so I did:

I know it's really silly, but I always remember my Grandma having amazing sandwich stuff at her house. If she made you a sandwich it was no bologna and processed cheese. It was a full-on cafe-style sandwich. When I was probably somewhere between 12 and 14 I worked for my Grandma helping her clean house. My great-grandfather lived with my grandparents and I remember eating sandwiches like this while I visited with him during my "lunch break." I love my Grandma and I miss her very much. She lives in Seattle, so I don't get to see her very often.

Then, in keeping with the spirit of Grandma memories, I baked bread over vacation, too. My Grandma Jensen always baked her own bread. I don't think I ever remember seeing store-bought bread at her house. I have always been really intimidated by yeast recipes, and it hasn't been until recently that I've really started to try to get better at baking things like bread and rolls. Whenever I have a successful encounter with yeast, I feel just a tiny bit closer to my Grandma. She died when I was a senior in high school, but I have a lot of special memories with her.

This bread is not one of my Grandma's recipes. It is actually one of my mom's, that I think she stole from Brenda Goodrich (that means it is good, people.) My mom used to make it when I was little. It's cracked wheat bread. I have been craving this forever, but I had no idea where to buy cracked wheat. Then, when Chad and I were in Raleigh, we went to Whole Foods and they had some. We bought a pound of it, and I came home raving about the bread and how I couldn't wait to make it.

About half way through the first rise, I started wondering if time had affected my memory about the bread. Maybe it was good, but not really amazing.

Time had done no such thing, my friends.

Even Chad had to admit that it REALLY was amazing. Bread is one of my weaknesses, so Chad is used to me raving about bread when he only finds it mediocre. This time, he said I was right. It was delicious. Man, looking at these pictures makes me want to go make two more loaves right now!

Then I made this little baby for Chad's Papa's 75th birthday party (which was a fabulous night filled with North Carolina-style barbeque--something I have craved incessantly during my pregnancy, which is weird, because I usually don't like it--and hush puppies):

There was no sentimental reasoning behind the cake choice, she just looked good. She tasted as good as she looked.

All in all, it was a good Spring Break. Although I think it would have been better if my family had flown out to visit me.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Remember that One Time . . .

When we talked about the wonder that is owning a food processor?

Yeah. About that. It turns out it also comes in handy in the beverage department.

While perusing my favorite cooking site, Our Best Bites, I came across this beauty:

What your eyes are devouring is a Raspberry Citrus Slushy, and it is divine. You can use your food processor to make the raspberry puree portion of the beverage. The recipe can be found here (as can the photograph, since I snagged it from their site so you could get a full mental image of what I'm talking about).

My favorite part of making them was when I got to the part in the recipe that says "Place raspberries, powdered sugar, and 2 T water in a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and add a little more powdered sugar if it's too tart still. If you don't have a food processor you could probably just smash them to a pulp!" Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh how it tickled my heart to realize that it would not be ME mashing frozen raspberries with a fork. (Thanks again, Mom!)

I froze the leftover slushy into our homemade popsicle molds, so I'll let you know how those go over.

This frozen treat was especially wonderful today, because Spring Break officially began for me this afternoon. Today was a beautiful eighty-something degree day in North Carolina. Yesterday I realized that the dogwood trees are blooming. I think they are the most whimsical trees, and I love it.

Happy Spring!
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