Friday, April 27, 2007

Road Trip!

So, we're heading down South this weekend to Long Beach with Joe's parents to see brother Josh ( who is Joe's identical twin, and is in seminary down there at Talbolt, which is associated with Biola University). Joe and his dad are going to fix his brakes or something like that. It was all thrown together really fast, and the trip itself will be a blitz of visiting and shopping and eating. Fun, fun, fun!! The only stinky part is that we have to pick up Joe's parents at 3:30am, which means I have to kiss my Saturday sleep-in good bye. And I really hate to do that. But the big pay off is time with Josh, and the Lankfords! Oh, how I love the Lankford family. We have missed them so much since they moved back down to LB for Chris to be the lead Pastor at a church there. When they were here, their home door was always unlocked, they led awesome couples Bible studies, and we'd hang out talking with them till the wee small hours. You always feel recharged after spending time with them, and feel completely loved on. Hearing Chris preach on Sunday will be a treat! And Melinda, well, where to begin? She is so open and willing to share advice and listen. When I'm with her, I'm reminded that to be transparent is a good quality. To share struggles and joys, really connecting with people through those things...I usually tend to do the opposite. If you can't tell, I think very highly of them, and am thrilled to be seeing them. I promise to post pics when we're back home.

And on an unrelated note, I just have to say that I'm really disappointed that Prince William and Kate Middleton broke up. I truly hope its not the end for them. She seems so classy and together...and an "average" type girl (plus, her name is Kate - how could I not root for her?). I mean, I know that her family has money, but it doesn't have a pedigree and isn't "in" in the higher circles of society, certainly not the set that the royalty moves among. Meeting as they did in school, he was able to choose from a wide social range of people to date, and could focus only on the things that were important to him in a person, versus family pressure to continue dynasties, alliances, rank, etc. I think it very unlikely that he will date that type of a girl again...I'm sure that the types of girls he will be surrounded with now will have very, very blue blood. Too bad. I hope we haven't seen the last of her.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Kelly's Questions

So, these questions are from the funny and lovely's a little snapshot into the depths of "Kate"...

1. David Bowie or Mick Jagger as your husband for a lifetime?
I think that I would have to go with Mick Jagger...way cooler to be with a Rolling Stone than with a man who would probably steal your makeup and wear it. I dunno, David Bowie has always been kinda androgynous to me...and I would rather be with a man who you know is a man.

2. If you had to live outside of the US where would you live and why.
Jeez Louise, that is a toughie. How do you choose just one place? I think though, that I would have to go with London. It has everything that I love; history, culture, a language I already know, the hustle of the city with the country not far at all. About 5 years ago, we took a family vacation there and rented a little flat right off Trafalgar Square for about 2 weeks. It was my favorite vacation ever. I loved being within walking distance to everything; museums, the bakery, the grocer, pubs, great. I could easily see myself slipping into life there and loving it.

3. Would you have plastic surgery and what would you have done?
As of right now, I can't see myself wanting or having anything done. The idea kinda scares me. Although I definitely have things about myself I wish were different, I'm too scared that it would be botched and I would have something worse off in the end. However, some of my friends who have had kids and are done with childbearing sometimes talk about getting a tummy tuck or a breast lift. And these are not vain people. Soooo, ask me that question after I have 3 kids....the answer might just be different.

4. Favorite chick flick
Without a doubt, the A&E version of Pride & Prejudice (not the new version, repeat, not the new version). Hands down. The best story ever. Who doesn't love Elizabeth, and want to be her? And who doesn't love Darcy and his journey to show her who he really is?

5. most influential person in your life.
Well, there are Joe and my mom who obviously have a lot of influence on me. But, the person who has influenced me throughout childhood and adulthood is my Granny. She was the best playmate, and now that I'm a "grown up", I see what a wonderful example of a woman she has been throughout her life. All of my friends, old or new love Granny. They just can't help it. I think it is because she is genuinely interested in them and what they're up to. She has a real zest for life that is pretty infectious. She was the kind of grandma that when you spent the night would let you have cake for breakfast in the morning, always wanted to know what the new slang/dance moves were, and would play 2 square with you in the backyard. But she wasn't a pushover either - it was definitely a no spoiling zone at her house, and yet you always felt indulged. Because it was just me and my younger brother as the only grand kids, I got to spend a lot of time with her, and listen to all her wonderful stories of growing up on a ranch, meeting Gramps on a blind date during WWII and all her travels with him (they'll be married 65 years this July), raising kids, etc. All in all, she is who I want to be like the most and who I love best; there's no one else like her!!

My Feet Are So Sore, But My Heart Is So Happy

Number of hours we stood in line: 3.5
Cost of 2 cookbooks: $65
Number of blocks that the line wrapped around: 3-4
Number of screaming kids that their moms dragged along to stand in line: Way too many
Getting to say I saw and talked to Giada de Laurentiis: Priceless

Me & Marisa waiting...really glad that I had someone to geek out with - that made it way more fun

This is when we rounded the corner and were in the home-stretch...

This was really the only disappointing part. Giada was so nice to talk to - but her handlers and the security team were absolute nazis. No posed pics with Giada (majorly bummed about that one), no flash (in a poorly lit space), and you could only take a picture of her once she had signed your book and you were ushered to the side of the store, behind a blue tape line with people jostling into you. See that lady in the pink shirt? She was not nice, and acted like she totally didn't want to be there. I would've loved her job!! Unfortunately, this was the best shot I got...hopefully Marisa got a better one. We'll see. But who cares, really? I stinking got to talk to her, and I definitely won't forget that!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Super Duper

That's how I feel. Just good. Happy. Content. This whole past week went smoothly, and things got done. Ross and Monica from Friends used to say "check" when they either remembered or completed something, and that's how I feel inside too. Geeky, I know, but true. Taxes? Done. Jury Duty? Called in, didn't have to go, and done for a year. Grocery shopping? Taken care of. Cleaning the bathroom (which I hate)? Smelling good and lemony. Since all those things are now behind me, now I'm really looking forward to what's ahead of me...
So, I've been flexing my crafty muscles and honing in specifically on embroidery. I was taught really young by one of my grandmas, and for whatever reason, just kinda gave it up. I guess it got lost along the way of Girl Scouts, piano lessons, gymnastics, church stuff, life in general, you get the jist. I hadn't even though about it till I was introduced to the website Sublime Stitching and was amazed at what I saw. No geese or hearts or teddybear patters - totally awesome, retro, kitchy stuff, which I get a big kick out of. This little voice in the back of my head kept saying try it, give it a shot and why not? So I caved. I figured it would be a lot like riding a bicycle and getting back on, and all that. And if not, no one would have to know. Here are my first two (in like 17 years) dish towels. I love, love, love stitching! Already my brain is starting to formulate things to do. I have some ideas for Mother's Day presents, I would eventually like to participate in a craft swap, and the ULTIMATE goal is to have some things to sell at our church's Holiday Boutique this coming November that is headed up every year by my mother in law. All the proceeds go to missions, and I would really like to be able to contribute something. All fired up with my new found confidence, I hopped back onto Sublime Stitching and ordered up some more stuff, all the while telling myself , "this is really not an expensive hobby, especially compared to Joe's (hello- mountain biking? 4 wheeling? airsoft?!?!)", and "I'm really just building up my supply base now...I won't always order like this". Right. I should monitor myself though because I would hate to go into financial ruin via that website. So that's that.
On Saturday, I'm going to a book signing of Giada de Laurentiis!!! I am SOOOOOOOO excited!! I absolutely love her, and you should to. I think there's something wrong with people who don't. There is no way I'm missing this. I will probably be tongue tied and act like a goober in general, but I cannot wait. I love my foodTV girlies. I still kick myself that I didn't head to a book signing of Rachael Ray's when she was in Berkeley. I went to work like a schmuck. I'm grabbing Marisa, and we're heading down nice and early to San Jose where she'll be at a Sur la Table shop. Another reason why I shouldn't spend all my money on that stitching site is 'cause I'll want some to spend there too. She'll be at a really ritzy shopping center called Santana Row, and they have all kinds of fun stores like Anthropologie (a fave), The Container Store, Urban Outfitters, and the Cheesecake Factory. Yum!
Another thing on the horizon for me is I plan on going to this ginormous antique flea market that is held the first Sunday of every month in Alameda, right by the bay. How lame is it that I've lived here my entire life, and never gone to it? One of my mom's good friends goes religiously, and the things she finds there are unique and beautiful. Again, I'm really excited. I have a few things in mind that I'd like to find...some wall art (anything to alieviate the whitness of the walls), antique linnen, some old suitcases/ steamer trunks...did I mention that I'm excited? I also hear they've got great food there as well to munch on while you browse. May 6th, I'm there.
And perhaps the biggest news, is that it looks about 95% certain that Joe will get some time off before the next shift change in September, about 10 days we are starting to plan a trip to ITALY!!! Or maybe England. Or Spain. But Italy looks like the definite front runner, and either way, we are definitely getting out of the country. It's where we've said we would like to travel together even before we were married. My feet don't even touch the ground at that thought, and my heart rate majorly accelorates. It seems way too good to be true. I'll definitely post more details about it later, but it just seemed that there would be no way possible at first. Which was very discouraging. In the grand 5 year plan we mapped out during pre-marital counseling, part of the reason that we wanted to wait 5 years to start a family was to travel. A lot. But with vacation time routinely being denied to rookie cops, it was making less and less sense why we were waiting (since everyone and their sister is pregnant around here), if we couldn't even travel. When Joe injured his ankle in January, it seemed even more remote. All I have to say about that, is that God's timing is perfect, and it really is through Him that things are made possible. So, I've been to Rome as a kid, but would love to go back, and I also want to see Venice...but, any other ideas of must sees? I'll welcome any and all advice!
So with all these thought whirling around my head today, I was a very happy girl. But do you know what the best part of the day was? I came home from work to find MY HUSBAND MADE ME DINNER!!!! This may not be a big deal for some of you. You may have guys that love to cook. But Joe wasn't trained up like that, and it is definitely outside his comfort zone. Normally this is OK, because as stated before, I really like to cook. But with me working full time now, I'm wiped out a lot of nights when I come home...and right now, he's got Sat-Mon off, so it just makes sense for him to slowly branch out and take on Monday's cooking. We're still in the tweaking faze of that though...a lot of other things will have to be divided up too. But this was great. So here it is, Joe's first roast; a combo of chicken, potatoes, and asparagus with lemon and thyme. It was fantastic! Talk about giving me the warm fuzzies and proving to me once again why he is the cream of the crop.

Monday, April 9, 2007

He Is Risen!

I love it when during the Easter service Pastor Larry says "He is risen!", and the congregation responds "He is risen indeed!". Easter was good this year...although we didn't make it to the sunrise service under the crosses. Our church has three 100 foot crosses in the front of the main building, which is up on a hill so you can see out over the bay, and watch the sun come up. Even though its usually super windy and chilly, we love it. I missed going. Anyway, we did the whole family thing, you know, lots of food, dessert and laughing. Doubly so since we went right from one family gathering to another. Easter is so much more fun with kids around! The kids in the pics are our adorable niece and nephew, Emma & Ethan (7 and 2). So far, they're the only grandkids in the family. As I watched them scamper all over Joe's folks back yard, I couldn't help but wonder what Easter in a few years will be like -what new little ones will be added to the mix? Exciting!

Emma taking her job very seriously.

Got it!

So sweet!

Not bad photography for a 7 year old...she got us centered and everything.

Ethan & Uncle Joe chattin' it up about dozers.

Birthday girlies Megan & Emma. Thinking hard on their wishes for '07.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

so, so, so, So, SO MAD!!!

I walk out to my car this morning, and what do my eyes behold? My car was broken into last night!! CD cases on the roof, the back seats pulled forward with things from the trunk spilling out into the car. Instantly I felt creeped out - like, someone else was touching my stuff, and there was a dirty intruder in my cute little car. The worst, (or best depending on what light you look at the situation in) was that there was no broken glass, no forced entry. That's right folks. We conveniently left the car open to any and everyone. I was trying so hard to remember back to what the heck was going on, because I am an avid Car Locker. I was trained up by my father who is the Ultimate Locker. House doors, car doors (when they're parked in the closed garage), luggage bags, this man doesn't take a chance. Then it all came flashing back to me. Yesterday after work I went grocery shopping, and when I came home had Joe help me bring up the groceries to the apartment. The keys were handed back and forth between each other, and we each thought that the other had locked up. Apparently, neither of us did. Grrrr!!! I don't know who I'm madder at; myself, or the person who is crummy enough to do something like this in the first place.
At least they took hardly anything. In fact, at first glance, it didn't look like anything was gone. I mean, it isn't like I leave my cell phone or iPod in there so there was no major jackpot for them, but I was desperately trying to remember if there was a scrap of paper or anything that had vital info on it. I don't think there was. But they did take a bag of Joe's clothes from his academy days (jeans, polo shirt, tennis shoes). It was the clothes he wore home the day that they sprayed all the recruits with tear gas and other nasty stuff. So the joke is on them. I hope it burns their skin off. Then I noticed that my Smith sunglasses that I got for Christmas from my parents (that I love, love, love) were gone. I wanted to scream. Then, I realized that the 6 movies from Blockbuster that I had left on the passenger seat to conveniently remind me that they MUST be returned today (because they were over-due) were missing. That's right. The jerk stole the DVDs!
So this afternoon I had to schlep off to Blockbuster, where I meekly had to explain that the movies I had rented were stolen, and then I got the joy of paying $113.02 for movies that I didn't even like anyway. Suckey, suckey day. I am so over living in this apartment!! I mean carports offer no protection or privacy!! I know that things can get stolen from actual houses as well, but at least your stuff isn't so exposed. It makes me all paranoid, wondering of someone is noticing my habits, watching my car, and if they will try again. I would hate to walk out and see no car (see, that's where the positive thinking comes in - it could have been worse). Dealing with this stuff is the pitts though. About a year ago, someone scraped off my car's registration sticker. Did I mention I'm ready to leave this place? And now I have to go finish taxes. Fan-freaking-tastic.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Alphabet Soup

So, even though its technically spring, at the end of last week we had a bone chilling wind. I was secretly glad because I knew exactly what I would be making for dinner...alphabet soup!! It has been years since I had it...mostly because when I would go to the grocery store, I couldn't find the little alphabet macaroni. Sure, I guess I could've bought a can of Campbells, but I wanted the real deal! I don't know what brought on all the nostlagia, but I'd been thinking about it a lot; honestly, alphabet soup is some of my earliest memories with spelling. My Granny used to make it for my brother and I , and we would always fish the letters out and stick them out on the side of the bowl and see what words we could come up with. "K"s were always really hard to find and that used to frustrate me because, of course, the first thing I wanted to spell was my name. It really bummed me out that the tradition might stop there, and my future kids would never know the joys of spelling with their soup. So I did what any girl would do. I called Granny and told her my dilema.

Granny is a little 5 ft. dynamo (who claims she's 5'1), and probably one of the people that I love best in the world. She was tickled that I wanted to make something that to her, was so basic. She couldn't believe that I: a. remembered it; and b. wanted to keep it alive. Sure enough, next time I was at my mom's, there was a package for me from Granny, with none other than the alphabet macaroni.

Turns out, that the alphabet macaroni is actually in the Mexican Foods section of the stores. I don't know if that's just a California thing or what. Who knew? Now, when Granny would make the soup, she would use any old veggies and meat that she had left over. You never knew what combo you were gonna get. My recipe for it is really more the basic version of a Pasta e Fagioli, which Joe and I really love. In fact, its in the arsenal of Food to Tempt Joe, or Food to Get Joe To Do What I Want. Powerful stuff. So here it is, in all its glory, my version of Alphabet Soup:

3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 circles of the pan with EVOO (hey I'm a Rachael Ray fan)
2 or 3 strips of bacon
1 or 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium yellow onion peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 0r 2 stems of rosemary, left whole
several sprigs of thyme (I personally go lighter rosemary and heavier on the thyme)
salt & pepper to taste
3 cans (15oz each) chicken broth
1 can (15oz) cannellini beans
1 small can of plain tomato sauce, or any leftover marinara you have on hand
2 palm-fulls of alphabet noodles

Heat EVOO over medium heat. Chop the bacon into smallish pieces and brown in the EVOO. I like to add the heartier veggies first (celery & carrots), then the onions & garlic, herbs and seasonings. I sweat them all together until the onions are translucent and soft. Next, I add the beans, and leave afew in the bottom of the can. With a fork I mash them up before I add them to the pot. The startches in them thicken the soup a little. Stir all together. Add the broth and bring to a boil. At this point you can add the tomato sauce, just enough to make the soup a nice orangey-red color. But, if you like, you could omit it all together. Once you have a nice rolling boil, add in the alphabet macaroni. Cook about 8-10 minutes.

Seriously, so good and so easy!! And the leftovers only taste better and better. Is it just me, or is bringing leftovers to work the next day becoming a thing of the past? I almost always do, and it never fails to get responses from my co-workers. Mostly, they're just curious about what it is I made, although once, I did get the snide comment "so, do you cook for your husband every night?", like its a bad thing to do. We're the same age, but obviously, you can see where she stands on marriage and cooking dinner for my guy. Oh well. I truly do enjoy cooking, which I patiently explained to her, and although I don't cook every single night, I sure try to because its healthier, and saves us money. Instead of buying Starbucks and lunch, I can just do Starbucks and still come out ahead (just kidding Joe- I never do that). :)
So try it!! Enjoy!! Because this soup is m'm, m'm good.