Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Twenty Seven

What does a 27th birthday look like?

Well...it looks like a few beers with friends on birthday eve.

Starbucks for breakfast courtesy of a wonderful team at school.

Corn dog nuggets at lunch!!! (This is my guilty pleasure lunch...someone must have told the lunch lady it was my birthday!)

A jillion super sweet facebook and twitter messages from the greatest friends and family.

An e-card of singing and dancing bears.

Dinner prepared by a handsome husband.

Dressing up to go see The Lion King (tomorrow night!) + a dinner out with that same handsome husband mentioned above.

Pumpkin Cake.

A roomful of precious 5th graders singing happy birthday to you when you walk in the room.

I don't think I could ask for more!

And because no post is a good post without some pictures...here's a few from J's birthday walk by the river on Sunday:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Menu Monday Birthday Week

After a week of being pigs and stuffing our faces with the yummy foods of Thanksgiving, we've got another glutinous week coming up. With both of our birthdays this week we have two nights that we have plans to go out. Once with friends and one night it's just the two of us. On the nights when we are eating at home, we've got some good stuffed planned...

My Meals:
Pizza Potatoes - this is a first...I am pretty pumped to try it!
White Bean Soup with Andouille Sausage and Kale
Steak Fajitas

J's Meals:
Shrimp Bog - I requested this for my birthday dinner!
Slow Cooked Hoisin and Ginger Pork Wraps with Peanut Slaw

Also...I have a cookie exchange coming up...any Christmas cookie recipes you have that are absolutely amazing? Share away!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

His Birthday

I have lots to blog about...friends, family, Thanksgiving, cute puppies, Harry Potter. But today I can only blog about one thing.

Today is this guy's birthday.

He's 26. And for forty-eight hours we will both 26. On Tuesday, I turn 27, so for two days, we get to share our age.

We started his birthday with a walk by the river, he played frisbee with friends in the afternoon, we had fajitas for dinner, ate Dairy Queen ice cream cake, played some Mario on the Wii, and then he opened his gifts. A very simple day, but a fun one.

{MUSHY GUSHY WARNING} I love this birthday boy to pieces. When you hear people talk about their "better half," sometimes that phrase seems silly. But that phrase describes exactly what he is to me. I am unorganized, he is the master of organization (our life is controlled in excel spreadsheets). I am always losing things, he's always telling me where I put them. I am afraid to try new things, he is Mr. Adventure. And above all this, he loves me unconditionally and he makes that clear on a daily basis. I am so grateful for him. So, so grateful.

Happy birthday, J. I hope your 26th year is a great one!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our newest family member...

Two months ago you all left some of the sweetest comments on this blog post where I told you that my family lost our beloved Sandy Dog. She was such a loved dog and we still miss her. We have always been "dog people" and while nothing will ever replace Sandy, my parents felt like something was missing. Which is what has led to this...

Meet Duffy...

He's a ten week old Miniature Schnauzer and he is one of the cutest little guys on this planet! I only got to meet him briefly when I stopped by my parents' on my way home from DC last weekend. Layla hasn't met him yet, so we're looking forward to their interaction at Thanksgiving tomorrow. Should be interesting to say the least!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas Shopping...for us?

This weekend J and I went Christmas shopping. While we did get a good chunk of our shopping done, we also made a few purchases for our own home...

Purchase #1 - A New Lamp

This may seem silly, but you people have no idea how happy I am to have this new lamp. For the past 2+ years of our marriage the lamp in our living has been a tall standing lamp that I think J bought at Wal-Mart in college for about $15. It was hideous and I am almost a little embarrassed to be admitting that that thing sat in my living room for over two years. And it was just one of those things that I've always hated, but it wasn't a top priority to replace since it got the job done. In the last two years we've gotten new couches, a coffee table, a rug...and now a lamp! I am so happy with it. And it was just $40 at HomeGoods. It's amazing how great it makes the whole room look...or maybe it's just the fact that the ugly college lamp is gone? Either way, I am pleased.

Purchase #2 - Sharper Image Humidifier

My entire life I have been prone to nose bleeds in the winter time. Gross, right? I remember spending many a days in the clinic as a child due to nose bleeds, and we won't even try to count the number of times I've woken up with a bloody nose. The dry heat just kills me. We STILL have wedding gift cards to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, so while out on Saturday I made sure to bring a 20% off coupon with me so we could go get a humidifier. BEST $50 EVER. Well, maybe not ever, but it's the best $50 we've spent in awhile. I've woken up feeling so refreshed the past few days. My nose and my skin is loving this little gadget. Can't believe I haven't bought one before now.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And on a totally unrelated note....I want to share this post from Raechel Myers. It's so beautiful. So, so beautiful. I read it over the weekend and haven't stopped thinking about it. What a wonderful picture of His love for us and the hope we have in the life after this.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Menu Monday + My first cheesecake!

You may have noticed that there was no Menu Monday last Monday. Oops! With my trip to DC the weekend before, our whole meal plan was all out of whack. And this week with Thanksgiving, we're going away again. So instead of posting this week's meals, here's the low down on what we've been eating for the past week...

My Meals:

J's Meals:

And now for my cheesecake! Two years ago (from today!) I starred this recipe from Pioneer Woman in my google reader. I even asked my mother in law to buy me a spring form pan for my birthday so I could make it. And here we are two years later and I have made my first cheesecake in that pan!

This recipe was a bit more work than I had bargained for, and while it didn't turn out "pretty," it was certainly yummy! My cheesecake was full of cracks and caved in a little in the middle, but who cares. It was tasty!

*I did see on The Neely's today that it helps if you place the spring form pan in a roasting pan full of water. This way the cheesecake is cooked more evenly and there are no cracks...interesting idea. I might try it on my next attempt at a cheesecake.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Feeling Fly Like It's Quidditch

As the whole world already knows, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out in theaters this week. Since I have a husband who wants nothing to do with ol' Harry (sad face), I have a date to see it with my little brother on Wednesday night when I get to Richmond for Thanksgiving with my family.

With all the hype surrounding the new movie, it's gotten me thinking about my long past with Harry and Hogwarts, and all the memories that go along with it.

I started reading Harry Potter in 2001 when my English teacher, a crazy Irish woman named Ms. Flanagan, let me borrow her copies of the first four books. I had heard about these books, but they sounded like something I'd have no interest in. But being the persistent woman that she was, Mrs. Flanagan wouldn't let up till I gave them a try. And here I am almost 10 years later thanking my lucky stars that she pushed these books on me. Some of my favorite memories from high school, college, and even adult hood involve JK Rowling's beautifully written books.

When the first movie came out in November 2001, my friends and I made a paper chain to count down the days till the movie came out. Each chain had a characters name on it. Days 5-1 went like this...

5 - Hagrid
4 - Hermione
3 - Ron
2 -Dumbledore
1 - HARRY!

Since then, I have been to the premiers of most of the movie and the book releases for books 5-7. The hype that lead up to the book releases was one of the greatest feelings. And dressing up for a movie premier...well there's nothing dorkier or more fun.

Movie Premiers:

Book Releases:

And now, just for fun, Classy Fab Sarah shared this with me on twitter yesterday and I have watched it a dozen times. HILARIOUS!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday Kick-Off...my excercise motivation

What motivates you to work out?

Last week, I got an email from my YMCA*. They are doing a 6 week program called Holiday Kick-Off. You sign up and if you work out three times a week between now and December 20, you get a free long sleeved t-shirt.

I am currently not at a weight that I'm happy with. It's not horrible, but it's not where I'd like to be. And I'll be the first to admit that I fear gaining weight over the next month and half as the holidays approach (hello PECAN PIE! I love you!). I decided to sign up for this program, not because I want the t-shirt, but because it's a great motivator to get my butt to the gym.

This was week one and today was my third trip of the week and I'm feeling great. I'm even considering throwing in a fourth day on Saturday. I'm feeling a little crazy, but I'm liking it (I typically go anywhere between 0-2 times a week). I've done two days of cardio and strength, and last night I did Zumba (which b-t-dubs, I could write a whole post on my love and laughter behind Zumba).

And the best motivator of all...they have put all the participants on "teams" and they have our teams listed on posters in the main hall of the gym. At the end of each week they will mark by your name whether or not you got your three workouts in for the week. That right there is an even bigger motivator. Now if I don't go to the gym, the whole world knows about it (and by the whole world, I really mean the gym members who walk down that hall). I don't want to be that kind of team member! And I don't want a big fat ugly red X by name if I don't meet my goal!

So here we go...let's hope that come January I'll have a VERY cool t-shirt to wear with pride and to share on the ol' blog.

*FYI...I love the Y here...love, love, love it! It is such a nice facility and they have the best staff. If you live in Hampton Roads and you're looking for a gym, I highly recommend the Y!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A first...

While in Northern Virginia this weekend, I experienced another first. I attended my first baby shower for a friend of mine. It's hard to believe that I've moved from that time in my life that's full of wedding showers onto the time of baby showers.

I met Megen during my sophomore year of college, and while we don't always keep in touch as well as I'd like, I consider her to be one of my dearest friends from college. Whenever we do get together we seem to pick up right where we left off. She is a very special friend to me.


This weekend her sister in law through a couples shower for her and her husband and baby Will. It was a beautiful shower and it was a lot of fun seeing some old college friends. J didn't make it to the shower with me since I'd already made plans to head to Northern Virgina on my own and he had commitments here, but it worked out okay anyway. He and I didn't go to college together so he doesn't share a bond with my college friends the way I do. But quick side note...before I started dating J, I drove one weekend to Vanderbilt to go a semi-formal with him, and Megen is the sweet friend who made the long drive to Nashville with me. We left at 6AM on a Friday and were back to JMU by 7pm on Saturday. And yes, that was an 8 hour drive. That road trip is one of my favorite memories with Megen!

ANYHOW, back to the baby shower. It was lots of fun and Megen and Dave got so many wonderful things for baby Will. I can't wait to meet the little guy in a few months!

I love Dave's face here. I am not sure he knows what to do with this CUTE toy!

The whole JMU crew

Emily and Me...Emily was a college roommate of mine for two years AND a great friend AND I found out this weekend that she's a blog reader...HI EM! It was fun catching up with her.

And finally, me and the super cute momma to be. She has always been precious, but she looks even cuter with her baby bump! So happy for her and her husband and I'm so glad I could make to the shower to celebrate with them. They will be wonderful parents!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Washington, DC

This weekend I went to Arlington, VA to visit my best friend Tyler. We spent Friday night enjoying dinner and drinks with her boyfriend, and afterward she and I went to see Morning Glory (so cute! I love Rachel McAdams!).

Saturday was our touristy day!

I have been to DC probably a dozen times in my life, but it had been awhile since I'd visited all the monuments and done the touristy thing in the city. And since Tyler and I are both elementary teachers living on a teacher salary, we knew we wanted to enjoy our weekend together without spending lots of money. All of these factors plus the gorgeous weather Saturday meant it was a perfect weekend to sight see.

We saw the White House...

The Washington Monument (which Tyler claims if you look straight up at it from the bottom, it looks like it's going to fall over)...

Honest Abe...

The World War II Memorial...

The Korean War Memorial. It is hauntingly beautiful...

And The Vietnam Memorial Wall....

It was so fun being a tourist this weekend...and spending time with one of my favorite friends!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

First of all, thanks for all your sweet comments on my last post. It's so encouraging to know there are others in my stage of life, or other stages, who feel just me. You all have no idea how much your comments mean to me!

Today is Veteran's Day and I am lucky enough to have the day off. We live in an area that is surrounded by MANY military bases. There is one about 2 miles from my house, and another just 3 miles from my school. Due to the high density of military and their families here, we have the day off. While I am thankful for my wonderful day away school and work, I am even more thankful for those who serve this country. I am feeling extra thankful for my grandfather today who was a Marine (who fought in Vietnam and served in many other places).

Since I had the day off, I spent it doing the following:

Drinking hot tea while watching morning talk shows, loads of housework, lunch out with J + a stop for frozen yogurt, some magazine reading, some puppy cuddling, some puppy walking, and some cleaning out my email inbox.

Pretty productive and wonderful day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My current "season"

One of my favorite quotes:

Everyone is given a place. You should be what that place needs. [Wendell Berry]

I have always heard people talk about "seasons" of life that they were going through, but that term has never really been a term I've applied to my own life.

But right now, at the young age of 26, I am seeing a definite season that my life is in.

I am currently in that married but not a newlywed or new mom stage. We're just married and happy. I have a wonderful husband and right now our future is kind of WIDE OPEN. I don't know where we'll be living a year from now. I don't know if we're going to stay local, move far away, or possibly just a few cities away. I don't know when we'll buy a house (or where we'll buy for that matter). I don't know if I'll be teaching forever. And Kids? Yeah, not ready or sure when we'll have those. I think I am ready sometimes, but then I sleep in till 9:30 on my Saturdays and I can't think of anything that would make me happier.

And as much as I want the "next big thing" to happen in life, I am learning to be content with where I am. Sometimes I have to remind myself of the blessing that is this time in our lives, because it's just that, a blessing. As much as I'd love to be a mom, I also love that my husband and I can go on an impromptu date to one of favorite restaurants on a Friday night for Mediterranean food and wine. And as much as I want to own a home to fix up and decorate and remodel, I am so glad that when it floods under our sink, we can call the landlord and he sends over a plumber and it's taken care of, free of charge to us.

It's amazing to me how the Lord uses these seasons to work in our hearts. While there are things I long for in life, He is teaching me that right now, I am right where I need to be. He is doing great things in my life, even if the future is kind of unclear and I'm anticipating what's about to come. I know that I need to sit back and enjoy this beautiful time that He is giving us and just recognize that this is exactly the place He wants me in.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Monday (with a little help from Ukrop's)

I'll be out of town for the second part of the week and poor J is going to be bachelor padding it up here in our home. This means just a few meals for the week...

My Meals:
  • Rachel Paninis* with sweet potato fries (but I might go the easy route and buy the frozen ones at TJ's...it's another crazy busy week in our home)
  • Jenna's Chicken Roll Ups with fresh green beans cooked in olive oil and lemon juice

J's Meals:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And now the Rachel Panini....
I grew up in Richmond and up until just a few short months ago, Richmond was known for their upscale, hometown grocery store, Ukrop's (pronounced You-Crops). A lot of my high school memories revolve around Ukrop's. We had one walking distance from our school and on days when we stayed after for hours and hours for play practice (I was kind of a show choir/theater geek), we'd grab dinner and snacks here. I have many memories associated with this place. About a year or so ago, the Ukrop family sold the company to a big chain and there are no more Ukrop's anywhere in Richmond. It's been a sad year as we've watched all the signs out front change...RIP Richmond's favorite grocery store...


ANYHOW...someone is getting sidetracked...one of the best parts of Ukrop's was their cafe where you could get all kinds of yummy things for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They make some of my favorite mac & cheese and their salad bar was AMAZING. Another favorite was their panini selection. One of their paninis was called the Rachel Panini. Not sure if this is something that they just make, or if it's a standard sandwich that other places serve, but either way, Ukrop's is the only place I've ever seen this sandwich, and it's one tasty sandwich!

Here's your ingredients:
  • sourdough bread (I buy mine at Panera)
  • cole slaw (I'm lazy and get the stuff at the grocery store)
  • sliced turkey
  • sliced swiss cheese

Throw ingredients on your bread, grill for a few minutes in a panini press, and voila! Tasty sandwiches ready to go!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Christmas Cards 2010

Have you thought about Christmas cards yet? Are you already ahead of the game with pictures and cards ready to go? Visit my review site for more details on some CUTE and AFFORDABLE cards!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

digging/not digging

This week I am really digging:
  • Zac Brown Band and their new music and their wonderful harmonies
  • When my husband cooks dinner
  • Going out to lunch on teacher work days and eating prosciutto and pear flat bread pizza
  • Coworkers who bring me Toffee Mochas from Starbucks
  • My bed and boxes of tissues. Allergies are trying to kill me this week.
  • Students who bring me in pieces of their Halloween candy because they have big hearts and they're generous and sweet
  • My new phone...it's still like a fun, new, shiny, toy!

This week I am not really digging:
  • ALLERGIES & my contact lenses
  • Working long hours
  • Teaching kids how to use a protractor
  • Dog hair that is all over the house and my life
  • Folding laundry and putting it away...such a pain
  • Junk Mail from every charity under the sun
  • Ignorance
...and that's that!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Menu Monday on a Tuesday

Life is busy at the moment. Very, very busy. And I am feeling a little like a crazy person who is running in eight directions at any given moment. But that won't stop me from cooking...no way, Jose. Without further ado, here's what we're eating this week:

My Meals:
J's Meals:

And the "We're kinda lazy and don't have the energy to cook meal":
  • Rosemary and Lemon Rotisserie Chicken from Fresh Market + a salad (this was tonight's meal after approximately 9+ hours of parent teacher conferences)

Monday, November 1, 2010

welcome november

Oh hello there, November. Where in the world did you come from? Weren't we just starting a new school year yesterday? How is the first quarter already coming to a close? Is that really possible?

This month I shall celebrate my 27th year on this planet. TWENTY SEVEN! How did that happen? Although I have to wait the whole long month of November, fun birthday plans with my husband are already in the works (we share a birthday week). I'm already dreaming of birthday cake...

Photo - November 1984 (I had to post this! I hate picture-less posts)

Also on the agenda for November: turkey eating, PECAN PIE!, meeting my parents' new puppy, writing up a gazillion report cards, wearing puffy vests, drinking hot tea, (hopefully) finish decorating my guest room, visiting my BFF, attending my first baby shower for a college friend, and last but not least - I'll continue to jam out to Taylor Swift's new cd...I can't stop!

What fun things are going on in your life this month?

PS...check back tomorrow for Menu Monday on a Tuesday!