Friday, February 26, 2010

Birthday face!

You've heard me mention my very best friend Kelly.

Kel is the best. Honestly, I don't think a person has ever met Kelly and didn't instantly love her. Heck, our hair dresser even told her, "Kelly, you calm my heart." I think anyone that knows Kelly would second that statement.

She is probably the most kind and genuine person I know, not to mention smart, beautiful, funny, etc
. She's just an incredible person - and an even better friend. She's one of those people that I think makes everyone else around her be a better/nicer person too.

But me and Kel are as thick as thieves. We chose the same major in college, took all our classes together, took jobs together, drove to school together, got internships/jobs together, networked together, etc. We just were always with each other. A lot of who I am is wrapped up in Kelly. So many of my favorite memories have to do with her. Kel is family to me.

And she loves wine just like me.


Well, tomorrow is Kel's birthday. And I wanted her to know that I love her big time.

And I'm glad she puts up with me.

And I hope this year is the best one for her yet! No one deserves it more.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mrs. Sunset

I totally hearts Mrs. Lilien today.


Love it. Love it. Love it all.

pic via.

Lean Cuisine Review: Roasted Honey Chicken

I'm doing it - trying a chicken meal AGAIN. I'm on a roll.

Let's bypass the normal backstory and get right into the review this time... Lean Cuisine's Roasted Honey Chicken.

LC describes this dish as: Roasted white meat chicken (I'll be the judge of that) in a sweet honey sauce with snap peas, yellow beans and whole wheat pilaf.

Chicken: Well there was a lot more of it than what was in my Chicken Mediterranean - and it was better than the chicken in most LC meals that are normally full of gristle. But it wasn't particularly flavorful. So all, in all, average chicken.

Veggies: Can I begin by asking what is a yellow bean?! I'm guessing it's just a green bean that's yellow... but it's not something I've seen before. And since there was only 2 of them in my dish, I can't be a good judge of it's flavor. But I will say that I'm impressed I had FIFTEEN snap peas (yes I counted) --- and I looove snap peas. They were still nice and crunchy, which was good. There were also a lot of carrots in this dish which were good - but I'm confused why they didn't include that in the description, but they did for the two "yellow beans." I guess it just makes it seem more "fancy" but really - is a yellow bean going to light a fire under someone's pants? I don't think so. "Hmmm... what LC should I get to punish myself this week? Oooh this one has YELLOW BEANS... I have to try it!" Next.

Sauce: This sauce really wanted to be something. I could tell that it wanted to be more exciting than it was in real life. I didn't really get any hint of honey... it was just a sweet sauce with a little bit of red pepper flakes, I think. But there was a lot of it to cover all the rice, veggies and chicken - so that's good I guess.

Rice: The rice might be my favorite part of the dish... with actual grains of wheat within the rice pilaf which gave it a nice crunchy texture. I can imagine the rice in this dish is kinda a snob... asking itself "Whyyyy do I have to hang out with this weak sauce and funky chicken? Can't I just be alone!?" The one downside to this rice is they have pieces of what I suppose is sauteed red onion in it... except that it looks like a translucent blue color instead which kinda creeps me out.

Overall: Eeeh... it was okay. Better than a lot of other LC's I've had that I've taken 2 bites out of and thrown away. I might try it again from time to time when I'm bored with other options. I give it two and a half out of five stars. I was originally going to give it three stars, but then noticed I gave Mediterranean Chicken three stars, and even though there wasn't a lot of it, Med Chicken was better than this one.

Twilight - the rehash

Let me start by saying you Twilight fans sure do come out in force! My readership literally doubled yesterday - crazy. Hopefully you Team Edwards and Team Jacobs will choose to keep visiting MPLT - despite our separate views on teen vamp books. We're currently accepting new members. Just click the little follow button on the right hand side, and you'll have sparkley vampire luck for a full year! And thank you for not sending me any hate mail about my anti-Twilight message... I was a bit worried I'd receive some.

So I was talking to Chad last night about my post (after he read it). He gave me the disappointed head shake and said I sounded condescending and judgmental in my post. I think that bothers Chad because he knows I'm not those things in real life. I guess I assume people who read my blog know me like my friends do - that you know my personality, how I talk, what I find funny. But most of you don't know me like that. So let me tell you - I write my blogs in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. I'm half-joking about most of my rants/irritations/etc. So please don't take anything I say so seriously - my goal is never to make any one of my readers feel bad or looked down upon. That is ne
ver, ever my intention. If you ever feel offended by something I've written, please email me at myprettylittlethoughts@gmail.com so I can apologize to you individually - or have a discussion about my stance. Blogs are tricky because a lot of times they are one sided. I get to say things, but other than leaving me a comment -you don't really have a chance to retaliate. But I do try to respond to all my comments!

So with that said, let me rehash my stance on Twilight - since I don't think I was clear enough in it yesterday.

Here's the thing: If you've read a couple of these books and watched the movies
and decided, "That is a great love story. I enjoyed reading/watching it." - that is just fine by me! Nothing weird about that at all. I think some Disney movies are sweet/romantic love stories... and those are obviously targeted to children.

My issue with Tw
ilighters (I suppose) is the grown women who are OBSESSED with this movie/book and its characters. I'm sorry - but I think that is just a little out there for me. I know grown women who wanted posters about these characters, calendars for their offices, and bring in magazines to show me pictures of one of their favorite characters. THAT IS WEIRD!!!!!!!!! It's like these women being transported back to their preteen/teenage years when they read Tiger Beat magazine and swooned over JTT (Jonathan Taylor Thomas - at least he was "the one" on all the covers during my adolescent years.) I can't think of any other phenomenon like Twilight that literally has 25+ year old women wanting posters/mugs/calendars/t-shirts of make-believe characters. Can you?

My other issue is women who are mesmerized by these sparkled vamps and they are MARRIED! I think if there was a book geared toward teenage boys that involved young, hot women in lustful situations, and grown men were obsessed with reading them, wanting to buy posters of said women, etc., us wives would be having A FIT. I just don't think its healthy to be lusting over anyone other than your spouse - I'm sorry. I don't think it is good for your marriage.

So that is my issue. It is not just reading the book and finding it enjoyable. It is crossing that line where you start acting like a love-crazed 13 year old over make-believe characters. That is where I find the behavior to be a little out of control.

And these are just my opinions. No one out there said I'm right. And me calling you Twilighters "crazy" is like the pot calling the kettle black. Chad calls me crazy every day. So take what I sa
y with a grain of salt.

So to recap:
1) I still think sparkle vamp books are weird.
2) If you aren't a crazy, obsessed Twi-hard, don't get all offended by this post. It's not really directed at you.
3) Despite notes I've gotten telling me to read the books, I'm not going to. I don't have any desire to return to my teeny-bopper days and I don't think Rob Pattinson pillows will match my new bedroom decor.
There. Friends again?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Twilight

Fact: I might get stoned for this.

Twilight - Okay I just don't get it.

Why are grown women obsessing about books that were made for tweens? Why are you reading about a sparkly vampire? Why are you so in love with said sparkly vampire?

If Chad had glitter make-up on and tried to bite my neck I'd backslap him. Not hot. And super weirdsies!

AND WHY DO YOU KEEP TELLING ME "OMG OMG OMG. Oh you haveeeeeeeeee to read it. It's like the greatest thing I've ever read."

Really?! A book about sparkle vamps made for 13 year old is seriously the greatest piece of literature you've ever read? You might want to join a book club.

I've known girls that actually get upset that their husbands/boyfriends aren't as sweet and romantic as Edward/Jacob. Ugh! I'm irritated that I even know their names! Do y'all not realize that ARE NOT REAL. Reading a book that makes you fantasize about what your life would be like if it was a massive romance between you and a fictional character is just weird too me. I don't need a sparkled vampire to make me swoon.

I have Chad. He buys me potted plants. Now THAT is romance.

So leave me alone about reading/watching/having anything to do with Twilight. Boo Hiss.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blog love.

I love blogging. It's a great way to get out my frusterations, spark my creative writing, and document the various happenings in my life. I think it's great to be able to go back one day and read these posts all over again. And I'm glad I get to share it with you, dear reader.

So in addition to blogging myself, I love reading blogs. I love reading in general - but blogs are so great because each one is so different and unique - and gives you a really great view of the individual who writes it.

I thought I'd highlight a few of my favorites - in case you aren't following them already, you should be.

Pioneer Woman - this you all already know. I heart her. I love how her personality shines through her writing. Okay, and I looove all her recipes. Besides, she does some really cool giveaways about once a week. I haven't won anything yet, but I have faith I will one day!

Passive Aggressive Notes - super funny blog. People write in with the crazy passive-aggressive notes they receive so we can all point at them and laugh.

Stuff White People Like - they don't update this one nearly enough anymore, but if you've never read it before, you can have days worth of reading. I cry I laugh so hard sometimes. So true.

Smitten Kitchen - y'all know I love food, right? Read this blog, and you will too.

Mrs. Lilien Styling House - I wish me and Mrs. Lilien could hang out and she could pick out my outfits. Once a day she puts together a look about a certain "Mrs." - Mrs. Mingle, Mrs. Downtown, Mrs. McNicey (me), etc. Make sure to not only look at the amazing looks she pulls together, but read the little poem below. She's super clever and amazing. I wish we were besties.

Martinis or Diaper Genies (MODG) - my guilty pleasure. MODG is crass, crude, but unbelievable funny and she has a fabulous blog. But not for the faint of heart.

CocoCozy - an interior design blog. She puts some beautiful stuff up - love it.

Little Fish. Big Pond. - My friend Amy's blog. I probably love it so much because I love Amy so much. She's just a fabulous girl and friend. So you should follow her blog and read about her fun adventures - planning a wedding and chasing around her crazy pup, Raleigh!

And if you're a reader of MPLT, please, please leave me a comment with the name of your blog! I'd love to return the favor.

Also, if there are any other blogs that I should be reading, but am not, let me know that too. I love clothes, cooking, interior design and laughing. If it falls in one of the categories, chances are I'll dig it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Holy House!

Guys, you wouldn't believe the changes in the house in just one week! It's amazing all the work they've done this week... the house looks so much further along. Very exciting!

Alright let me give you some pictures.

Front of house:



Foyer:

Dining Room:


Kitchen/tile work:


Living room/stairwell:



Master bathroom/tile work:


Guest bathroom:

Crazy, right? Not too much left anymore! They still need to finish the hardwoods, plumbing, paint, lighting, appliances, and the other huge undertaking - finish the landscaping! Ready to have grass, shrubs, flowers and trees for a some color in the yard! It's a lot of work but it looks like we'll be done in no time. Closing is right around the corner!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Friday Friday!

My mind is going in a lot of different directions today!

First, one of my good friends Whitney of Savannah Notions fame, had her sweet baby girl this morning - six weeks early! Emma Claire and mama are doing well - what a blessing. I can't wait to meet this little girl and love all over her! So congrats to Whitney and Kyle... they are going to be wonderful parents.

On a completely different note, Chad and I stopped by our house last night after work. Last week I was complaining because it didn't look like they had done anything all week. Well they made up for it this week! The shutters are on the house, all the trim work is completed (moldings, baseboards, door frames, window frames, etc.), the interior doors are in, our stairs are in (along with our balusters), the wooden beams are in the master bedroom, they completed the wooden shelving in the master closet and pantry), etc. It looks like a real house now (just not painted).

I didn't have time to take pictures last night, but I will this weekend and will post them on Monday! Next week they are doing all the tile work - so that's another big step. The weeks are just flying by, and we are beyond excited to move in!

I don't know about you guys, but I sure am excited for the weekend! I'm hoping to get some baby time in (with Emma Claire and my other love child, sweet baby Annabelle), Chad and I are volunteering with our church group at the Raleigh Rescue Mission, and then maybe measuring windows are the house for blinds --- and life doesn't get more exciting than that!

Hope you guys all have a great weekend!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who doesn't love cupcakes?

If you don't love cupcakes, just go ahead and stop reading my blog now. You are not wanted.

Just kidding, just kidding, just kidding - you are wanted. And loved. And appreciated. And pretty - gah you're pretty!

But seriously, what kind of person doesn't love a cupcake?! They are three bite pieces of perfection topped with glorious icing! Life doesn't get better.

Here's my favorite cupcake (and icing) recipe - courtesy of the world famous Magnolia Bakery in NYC.


Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Cupcakes (recipe from RecipeLink.com):

NOTE: Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. That includes the eggs, milk and butter. This recipe makes at least 24 cupcakes (it made closer to 30 in our cupcake tins).

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not over-beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.

Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Recipe for Magnolia’s Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (recipe from RecipeLink.com):

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


pic via.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I'm exhausted today...

...and distracted. But I feel guilty not blogging about anything today.

So will y'all still love me if I just put up some pictures?


Chad and I are going to the beach in March. I need this trip. A few days away from the world to just spend time together (mind you we've lived with parents and in-laws since late October) and unwind.


I love hydrangeas. I'm trying to decide between planting hydrangeas and knock-out roses in the new yard. Suggestions anyone?

I haven't looked at J.Crew in like 3 months. What is wrong with me?!

But I like this... (though Chad said I have too many cardigans already).

Not that I need anything right now.

See... you can tell I'm off my game. I used to be able to justify even the most outrageous purchase. Not anymore.

Where has my mojo gone?!

I've also been going back and forth with whether or not to pursue my Master's in Communication. Had a long sit down meeting with my director today - he said he thinks I should do it.

Thinking about going back to school exhausts me even more!

Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

So Saturday night we went to dinner with some of our favorite friends, The Fox's ... proud owners of this one, to this restaurant in North Raleigh called Cafe Capistrano.

Chad and I met them there after spending all day at a car dealership in Cary, and it literally felt like we drove to Mexico to go to this place... it was wayyyyy the heck out there. Chad, of course, was complaining... "This better be worth it."

Well Dave and Renee did not lead us astray. It was delicious.
Chad and I shared the Mahi Mahi fish tacos... which were incredible. We also all tried their chicken tortilla soup, since Renee said ahead of time that their soup was one of the best things she's ever eaten. We all ordered a cup to start (assuming that it would never live up to the hype). Well it did - and I've been craving it since.

Luckily, a reader from the News & Observer wrote in asking for the sam
e recipe a few months back and I found it!

So here you go...


Cafe Capistrano's Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

8 cups full-flavored chicken stock***** (see below)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (see Note)
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
yellow corn tortilla chips (about 3 or 4 per serving), shredded Monterey Jack cheese and freshly chopped cilantro for garnish
Additional cayenne for garnish

Directions:

Bring chicken stock to a slow simmer, then stir in garlic, cumin and cayenne. Add shredded chicken breast and heat for about 5 minutes to warm through and allow flavors to meld.

Ladle soup into bowls. Squeeze juice from one lime wedge into each bowl. To garnish, top with tortilla chips. Then sprinkle with a little shredded Monterey Jack cheese and chopped cilantro. If desired, add a light dusting of cayenne.

Chicken stock recipe:

Ingredients:

4 pounds chicken legs
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 quarts water
2 teaspoons salt (1 tablespoon if using kosher salt)
2 bay leaves

Directions:

Using a meat cleaver, cut chicken legs into 2-inch chunks.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it just begins to smoke, then quickly add half the chicken. Saute until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with remaining chicken, transferring to a bowl when browned.

Pour off the fat from the pot. Return all the chicken pieces to the pot and stir in onion. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes.

Stir in water, salt and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the broth is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes.

Strain the broth into a large container. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before skimming the fat. Remove the meat from the bones and reserve separately for use in soup or another recipe.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cause I'm a redneck woman...

...I ain't no high-class broad. I'm just a product of my raisin' and I say "hey y'all" and "yee haw."

BTW I hate that song.

But I thought it was a good intro into the fact that I now own a truck.

Okay, maybe its not really "my" truck - it's Chad's - but still. I never thought the day would come. The fact is I was tricked into this decision... and even I still haven't figured out how Chad played me like
a violin. I'm usually the one that does the playing in our pairing.

So here's how it started. A few years ago Chad mentioned the fact that the next vehicle he was going to get would be a truck.

I quickly said... in no uncertain terms... "Over my dead body."

Why, you ask? Because that would mean there are times when I'd have to drive said truck. And I don't do trucks. I wear skirts and high heels. I shop at J.Crew. I write blog posts about lemon pasta. Does that seem like the type of girl to drive a truck? Didn't think so.


So I had made a strong case to Chad why a truck would not fly in our marriage. He finally backed off the truck idea... so I thought... and talked for awhile about the sedan he would buy whenever it was time for a new vehicle. I secretly rejoiced in the fact that I'd be able to scoot around town not only in my lovely Honda Pilot... but maybe a hot little sedan. Best of both worlds.

Well then, a few weeks ago he brings up a "serious" conversation. He tells me that he wants us to have three vehicles. And since he already has a Camry... and I have an SUV... that he'll just get an old beat-up pickup truck. He said we "need" a truck as a third vehicle so that during bad weather, he'd still be able to make it into the office... and that it will come in handy now that we have a house with a yard.

So of course I begin picturing our beautiful new house on our nice tree lined street....

... with a nasty old pickup truck sitting in the driveway.

The idea made me cringe. I tried telling Chad that it was a horrible idea. He pretty much said, "Tough. I'm the man of the house. My decision." Okay he maybe didn't say that per say, but that was the gist of it. You see, in our marriage, Chad is the final decision maker. And that is fine with me - I think it's the way it was supposed to be. Chad definitely takes my thoughts and feelings into consideration... but at the end of the day, if two people have completely different ideas on something, you have to be in agreement on who gets the final say. And in our case, it's Chad.

So I knew this was going to be a losing argument. We were going to have an ugly old pick-up... wahhhhh.

Well the other weekend, Chad came up to me and told me that he'd thought some more and decided that instead of doing the old pick-up, he was going to get a newer, nicer truck that would be his primary vehicle... and we'd get rid of the Camry (giving it to his grandma).

Me, being overcome with joy knowing we won't have an old beat-up truck in the driveway, responded with enthusiasm about what a great idea it was.

It wasn't until a few days after that I was like "Hold on. What!?"

Chad got his way and got a truck. And he got me to agree with him on what a great idea was it. He just woman-ed me.


I've been had.

So here's Chad's new baby. We're still trying to decide on a name for her. But I will be honest - I've gotten to drive her around a few times now, and it is a pretty awesome truck... super nice and comfortable inside, drives very smooth, quick pick-up, etc. Dare I say I might actually embrace this vehicle. Who'da thunk it?


PS: Notice the crew cab... for baby Barnhill hopefully. BTW - after 6 weeks of going Facebook-less, I log on this morning and see three different friends have announced "Yay! I'm pregnant!" or "I'm going to be a mommy." I can't handle it right now.

I will knife you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

...what I got for Valentine's Day...




...what Chad got for Valentine's Day...




........... more on that tomorrow.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love + Respect

I know I joke a lot about things on this blog - but this one is serious.

Several months ago, our couple's small group was doing a study on marriage. It was a great study - and we got a lot out of it. Marriage studies are great because they give you the opportunity to discuss various things that you might normally feel weird talking about. I highly recommend them! You can do one in a group, or just buy a couple books to do solo with your spouse.

So this particular study featured various statistics, but one that really caught my eye. It said that something like 90% of men surveyed would rather feel respected than loved by their wives.

When I was doing my homework - and read that - I immediately dismissed it thinking there was no way... they must have had some bad data. Or it was a misprint. So during the session, I brought up that statistic, and we polled all the guys in our group (6 of them) with that same question.

Every single one (who are as different from each other as night and day - from the quiet and sensitive to the loud and strong-willed) of them said the same thing: "I'd rather feel respected." And there was no hesitation from any of them. No "Well, I could go either way" or "I want both." It was "Absolutely. I'd rather be respected."

I was blown away. When Chad said that, I looked at him and said, "Really?!?! Feeling loved by me isn't as important to you?"

And he explained that its not that he doesn't want to feel loved by me, but that he feels most loved when I respect him - stand by his decisions, trust his opinion, ask him for his input. Those are the things that make him feel the most loved. And that he felt least loved when I did something to disrespect him (i.e.: question his judgment, undermine his decisions, etc.).

What insight!

I know a lot of women are thinking to themselves "I don't need to show my husband RESPECT - this is the 21st century!" But hear me out. I'm not talking about a submissive respect. I'm not talking about you need to "respect" when your husband commands you to go fix him some supper barefooted. I'm talking about respecting (and most importantly, standing behind) the decisions they make on behalf of your family. And if you are in a good marriage - any decision your husband makes SHOULD be keeping your best interests in mind.

After learning this, it completely changed the way I think in terms of how I show Chad love. While I still do things that I'd consider "loving" - making him a nice dinner, surprising him with little cards, etc. - I am much more intentional in how I show him that I greatly respect him.

I let him know - frequently - that I appreciate how he takes care of me (our cars, house, finances, etc.). I try my best build him up and let him know that I am always on his side - no matter what. When we have alternative ideas of what the "right" thing is to do, I follow his lead and tell him I trust him in his decisions. And ladies - never utter the words, "My dad has always been able to do _____." or "Let me just call my dad and ask him." Your husband never wants to feel like he's not taking care of you the way he's supposed to... pulling the "dad" card is a big no-no.

And - most importantly - I try my very hardest to never undermine his decisions or... when he makes a mistake... to throw them back in his face. I know for a lot of us (myself included) that is our instinct. When our significant other does something "wrong," we want to call them out on it. But now that I know that my respect of him is so important - and that it makes him feel the most loved - I bite my tongue and show support. It's not always easy, but I promise you our disagreements are a billion times more productive than they used to be - and both of us leave them feeling good.

Of course, women on the other end of the spectrum - I'd wager a guess that 90% of us would rather feel loved than respected. We feel the most respected when our husbands show us love. It is the reverse. And since people usually project how they want to be treated, doesn't it make sense that women try to show men love and affection since that's what they desire, and men try to be respectful of women since that's what they want most? No wonder we often feel like there's something "missing" from our marriages. We're not meeting the other person's needs!

Isn't that kind of crazy?

So go home and ask your spouse this question - without any preamble to it that would influence their answer. And see what they say. And have a conversation about it.

Okay. Got all my serious out. Tomorrow I'll post something ridiculous to make up for it.

That's my Valentine's weekend challenge to you!

And I love you to my Valentine... thanks for being my buddy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Heart Holiday

Soooo, this Sunday is Valentine's day. I know a lot of people think it's hokey - but hey, I'm all for a day that celebrates l.o.v.e.

Usually Chad and I exchange gifts, cards, I get flowers and we go to a fancy-schmancy dinner.

Well, this year - I don't know if it's the state of the economy, the fact that we're about to move into a new place, or that I'm in the middle of a Bible study that is focused a lot on the materialism in the world, but we decided that we'd rather do a low-key Valentine's day. No presents and staying in and making a nice dinner. To be honest? I'm actually more excited about this Valentine's day then year's past. No pressure. Just being able to enjoy being together without all the "show."

But don't get me wrong - I ain't serving Kraft Mac n' Cheese and Hot Dogs. I'd still like to do a fancy dinner. Chad mentioned awhile ago wanting gnocchi (mmmmmmmm, my favorite) - so I was trying to figure out what else to serve with it. I know Chad loves (okay, fine, and I really love scallops), so I found this recipe online... and it might have to be a our V-day dinner!

Pan-Seared Diver Scallops with Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Ingredients
1-2 sweet potatoes or 1 Carolina yam (approx. 12 oz.)
4 oz. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. “kosher” salt
Pinch of pepper
1 egg
1lb. (approx.) of large, dry sea scallops (or 20 pieces)
1/3 cup cheffonade (chopped arugula or spinach)
4 oz. chopped mushrooms (white, shiitake and porcini – sliced thin)
2 oz. olive oil
1/2 oz. white truffle oil
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup water or stock
1oz. wine
1tbsp. parsley
Grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

For Pasta:
Microwave* (or cook in water) the sweet potato “in its jacket” (or unpeeled) and let it cool. Peel and mash it with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste, flour and egg and knead together to form a delicate dough. Pasta will be sticky so dust with flour as needed. Cut into strips and roll. Then cut into bite-sized nuggets. Pasta may be held for service or cooked in water and reserved until needed.
* Microwaving the potato helps to remove moisture so less flour may be used, resulting in a softer, delicate dumpling.

For Scallops:
Dry the scallops on paper towels and season with salt and pepper to taste. Roll in flour and pan-sear in a hot pan until golden on the outside but medium rare on the inside. Reserve until needed.

For Final Dish:
Saute mushrooms in olive oil and butter until lightly browned (approx. 2 minutes). Add salt, pepper, garlic and parsley. Saute further until aromatic and light brown. Add stock (or water), wine and gnocchi and toss together to warm thoroughly. Add chopped arugula, parmesan cheese and drizzle with white truffle oil. Divide amongst 4 plates. Divide the scallops into a star pattern around the gnocchi and serve at once.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ignore

Confession Time:

If you call me on my cell phone, 87% of the time I will ignore your phone call.

Reason: About 99% of the time, I really don't like talking on the phone.

I don't know why. It's just not my thing. If I'm calling you, I intend for that call to only be for a few minutes... and usually there is a practical reason for the call (ex. How did your interview go? What time are we meeting for dinner? What was that store you were talking about? You get the point.) I mean I have a very, very small group of friends that I actually enjoy having longer phone conversations with... but I have to be in the mood for it.

And since I'm rarely in the mood to talk, most of the time when people call me I ignore their phone calls. Isn't that horrible? It's not because I don't love the person... it's just that I'm not a phone talker. So whenever I'm in the mood to be on the phone, I'll do my rounds and call my friends that I don't get to see in person.

The problem is, until this past weekend, I didn't realize pressing the "Ignore" button on my BlackBerry sends my phone right to voicemail. I just figured it silenced the ring and the person on the other end continued to hear ringing until my voicemail picked up.

My brother Kevin informed me that no, in fact, it is extremely obvious to the person on the other line when you ignore their phone call. So I called Kevin's phone as a test and he ignored the call. Sure enough, it rang about 1.5 times and then the voicemail picked up.

Oops!

So now I feel the need to explain to all my friends that yes, I have ignored your calls hundreds of times. No it's not because I don't love you. It's because I don't love the phone.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Survey: Should I finish this table?

Awh, I know you guys miss my polls. No fear, I have one ready for you now!

So Chad and I bought this table at an antique store over the holidays. We both loved it, and thought it would be perfect *somewhere* in our new house. Most likely in the living room.


Originally, I thought it was perfect as is... but now I'm starting to second guess myself and wondering if I should have it stained. So I figured I'd open it up to you peanuts to see what you think.

Poll is at the top.

No way! It's perfect as-is.
Definitely! It would look much better stained.
Either! It would look good either way.

Please and thank you!

House update: Countertops are in!

So, the first bit of good news is that we found out this weekend we are closing on the house on March 31. So a little less than two months... I'm super excited. It's nice to have a date in mind, so I feel like I know we're moving toward something.

Last week, they put in our countertops.... very exciting.

Here's the kitchen:


And here's the master bath:


I'm pleased with how they turned out.

Also, we picked our wrought iron balusters... I had like 2 days to decide which is why I didn't make it a poll... sorry!


So that's that! We'll see what they do this week!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pet Peeves

So I was working an event this morning, during which I got to experience two things that drive me crazy.

One of them may be illogical, but the other one I think others will agree with.

1) People who just stand on escalators. Okay, I know a lot of people do this... and it's probably not a big deal... but it kinda drives me crazy. Are we that lazy that we can't walk down/up escalators? They are there to expedite your travel from one level to another... bu
t if you just stand there on a step, it can take even LONGER to go down/up than if you took the stairs. But sure enough, every person I was behind on the escalator this morning just stood there.

The one time I was on it solo, I made a point of walking quickly up the escalator to show onlookers "Wow, see how fast she got up a flight of stairs?! WE should try that next time."


So since this is a pet peeve of mine - you can make the logical jump that I also hate people that stand on those airport moving walkways. GRRRRRRRRR! Notice they are called moving walkways. Use your legs!

Okay, I'll let it go. I know it's not a big deal since obviously (from my rough calculations this morning) about 90% of people do not move on escalators. But it's how I feel.

2) People who insist on sitting at the end of a row.
So this event I was at today had 1,300 people in attendance. More than they were expecting, so they had to add additional rows of chairs in the back of the room to accommodate all the attendees. Wouldn't you know that EVERY person that walked to sit in the newly-formed row would park their behind on the end seat, so that the 8 people walking up behind them to sit down would have to crawl over each other to their respective seats.

SELFISH SELFISH SELFISH.

Would it really kill you to just move into the center of the row so all the 905430594 other people coming behind you could quickly get a seat? But noooooo... you are sooo important that you deserve the seat on the end. I actually watched an older woman with a walking cane have to crawl over three men to take a seat. They couldn't bother to just scoot down a freaking chair to let this poor woman take the place on the end. I was so angry I could have screamed. But I watched literally every person that went for a seat grab the end spot.

I don't really understand why people have this need to sit at the end of a row. Like at church: every week our pastor has to beg people to please scoot to the middle of the rows so that people coming in can quickly find a seat. Chad and I eliminate this by always sitting in the middle of the row to begin with. However, every other Tom, Dick and Harry sit at the end, and either ignore the call to FREAKING MOVE TO THE MIDDLE OF THE ROW or grumble about doing it. Why does it matter?!?! Does it really provide you THAT much more leg room? It's not like you need to be getting up and leaving in the middle of the service. I guess it's because people want to be able to quickly exit - but honestly, you sitting 4 seats away from me on the outside of the row will give you about a 15 second head start on me. And then I'll probably pass you anyway because you'll be the same person that refuses to move on the escalator.

Sigh.

I mean am I the only one that feels this way? Is there like a support group I can join? Please share.

Okay my blood pressure just went up about 15 points writing that post.

I need to go play an Ocean Sounds CD and light a candle.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Analyze THIS

Okay so I watched the season premier of "Lost" last night (a day late, I know)... which might explain why my brain was so screwy that I had this dream last night.

I have to share it.

If one of you is a dream interpreter (or know someone who is), you've GOT to send this to them. I need answers!

Okay get ready for it, because this is a doozy:

In my dream, Chad and I were getting ready to go to church (not our church) for some holiday like Easter or something (it wasn't abundantly clear in my dream.) I knew that at church that day, we were supposed to stick a pen (or some sharp object) into our pupils, because I guess that's something Jesus had done so we were supposed to do it to.

Well I was really freaked out about having to do this. And everyone was telling me, "Remember we did it last year and it didn't hurt!" And I vaguely remembered doing it, but was still not convinced. So I tried googling "sticking a pen in your eye" to see what they said, but I couldn't find anything.

So we got to church, and I was really freaking out. But then the pastor said, "Okay, we decided to not stick a pen in our eyes. Instead, we're going to put our contacts in scalding hot water and then put that into our eyes."

This sounded a lot better than the pen thing, but still didn't too safe to me.

So I kind of faked putting scalding hot contacts into my eyes.

And then I woke up.

Lost


So it just occured to me why they named the show "Lost." Because I have absolutely no clue what it is about anymore.

I started watching "Lost" when it first premiered in 2004. It was really, really good when it started. But over the last couple years, they've added so many twists and turns and additional questions (without ever resolving old ones) that you forget what you're supposed to be wanting the answers to.

I almost gave up on the show last season, but I felt that since I've invested so much time into that show, I needed to ride it out til the end. Isn't that sad? To not even like a show anymore but feel like you have to watch it?!

So this is the final season. I have no clue how they're going to tie up this series... and I feel like we're bound to be disappointed with the ending, because there is no way they'll be able to wrap it all up. But I hope they prove me wrong.

I'm going to be so glad when it's over. That show drains my brain.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shop til you drop

Let me start by saying that online shopping is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

It is convenient. It is easy to find what you're looking for. You don't waste gas money. You don't have to find a parking spot. And... you can usually get really, really good deals.

So a few months back I found an amazing site that makes online shopping even BETTER - Ebates.

Ebates is f.r.e.a.k.i.n.g. awesome. If you aren't using it yet - you will by the end of this post. Here is how Ebates describes themselves: Ebates is the pioneer and leader of online Cash Back Shopping. Joining Ebates is always free - you'll never pay us anything. And four times a year or more, we'll mail you a Big Fat Check, or transfer the money to your PayPal account if you'd prefer. We can even send the money to your favorite charity. All 100% free.
People often ask: "This sounds too good to be true, how are you able to do it?" It really is quite simple. Just like almost every other online shopping center, we get a commission from the stores when you make a purchase. Instead of keeping that money - like almost all other sites do - we share it with you! So as long as 1200+ of the world's top online stores are happy to pay a bonus to attract new, valuable customers we send their way, Ebates is going to continue to send Big Fat Checks to our satisfied customers across the globe.

So this is pretty much how it works:

You know there is a shirt at J.Crew (or a book at Barnes & Noble... or a rug at Crate + Barrel...etc.) that you want to buy. You go to the ebates Web site, login, and then search for whatever store you're looking for. All these different companies give a different percentage of cash back from your purchase (and they run specials sometimes when you get double cash back). I've seen cash back anywhere from 1% to 25%. On top of this, it lists coupon codes for various stores. So you go to the Ebates J.Crew store page, and click "shop now." It will transfer you to J.Crew's webpage but will keep a tracking number for your visit. Then, when you check out, Ebates will have record of however much you spent and will send you a check for the percentage cash back.

They send checks four times a year - which is awesome! I only started using Ebates in December and I already have $35 coming to me in my February check. Awesome, right? I mean it's not a massive amount of money - but it's money back that I get for doing the online shopping I would have done anyway! And while not every online store is working with Ebates right now, nearly everyone is! I think only like Pottery Barn isn't on there yet -- but pretty much every other store I've shopped from is.

So sign up - and when you do, use my email as your referral (caroline.beavers@gmail.com - my maiden name email account that I now only use for things like online shopping). When you refer me, they'll put an extra $5 in my account and $5 in your account! Also (not sure if they still do this), just for signing up, I received a $10 gift card for Barnes & Noble.

So it's super easy. You get cash back for your online purchases. You get $5 for referring me. You get a $10 gift card (you get to choose from a couple different places.) All for doing the online shopping you would have done anyway.

You're welcome! Love to help a friend. ;)

We Shoulda Known

So I mentioned in my post(ie) yesterday about how Chad and I should have known that we would have ended up together.

Example #1) I didn't like Chad telling me what to do - before the dati
ng even began. I mean, that should have been a red flag right there.

Example #2) Back when Facebook was new, and they didn't have many options of what you could do on it, Facebook "groups" were popular. So one of Chad's friends made the Facebook group, "When I grow up, I want to be like Chad." This group had various friends as "officers" and someone made my title "I'll probably marry Chad someday." Again - wayyy before there was any thought of us ever dating.

Example #3) One of Chad's ex-girlfriends didn't really mind when he hung out with our other female friends, but did NOT like when he hung out with me (I found out about this, of course, months after we started dating.) And I promise, it's not like I was t
he type to flirt with someone else's boyfriend. So her instincts saw it coming - again - before we did.

Example #4) Looking back at all our pictures from college - we have quite a few of just the two of us... more than any other of my other guy friends. Here's one of baby Chad and baby MPLT... pre-dating days.


Example #5) My other guy friends (from another social circle) would not like it when Chad would come along because they said "I acted different when Chad was around - and didn't talk to them as much."

Example #6) During a "bad" snowstorm in college, Chad called to ask if he could pick me, my bestie Kelly and my brother up to hang out with him and his roommates for awhile. Now we had a really big group of friends, but we were the only ones that got the special pick-up from Chad just to "hang." (Note: This could just as likely been that he wanted to hang out with Kel - who is also one of Chad's good friends - or my brother, who he also really liked. But I like to think its because he lurved me and didn't even know it.)

Example #7) And finally, after we started dating (secretly for a few months in case the realtionship didn't work out, all our friends wouldn't feel weird around us) and getting more serious, when we told our friends that we were together -assuming the response would be "WHAT?!?!" - the resounding retort was, "Oh. Yeah. We saw that coming a long time ago."

So pretty much, everyone knew it was coming -except us. I wish people would have clued us in earlier! But at the same time, it was nice to have such a strong friendship with Chad before we ever started dating... and I think that's what's kept us so compatible. We have so many memories of doing crazy/fun things in college with all our friends. We learned a lot about each other as people, before there was any pressure to think of each other in terms of something long-term. So in the end, it was the best thing for us!