Saturday, August 29, 2009
In my year and over four months of marriage now, I have learned that when it rains it pours. Actually, I learned that a long time ago in high school and college when exams, basketball games, and friendly duties all decided to coincide. And I have nothing to complain about, because I am not moving this weekend like Andrea Cherie. But this week was Goal Week at work, which means we are scrounging to get 30 events before the end of the week, and things can be stressful, hectic, and frustrating.
I usually try to do something nice for the employees, so I decided on Thursday afternoon that an impromptu Goal Pancake Party was in order. Coincidentally, I needed to pick up dry cleaning, clean out my car, put gas in my empty car, mail 293298 thank you notes, bake JT the choc chip cookies that have ruined us because he promised his coworkers some, and put up mountains and mountains of clothes from laundry and workout bags. Then, as I was on my way home from mailing my thank you notes, JT texted me and where was I? he wanted to take me on a surprise date.
Friends, when a man announces a surprise date, you drop everything you are doing to celebrate this monumental occasion. He took me to Carrabba's and pampered me. It was amazing. And somehow I got everything done anyway. When we got home, I got cookies in the oven, put up clothes whilst watching the first Harry Potter, cleaned out my car on my way home (while at stoplights, thank you very much), and filled up my tank and went to the store in the morning for pancake mix, butter, syrup, blueberries, chocolate chips and other things for the Goal Pancake Party.
Oh was it yummy! Today my eyelids are dragging. I signed myself up for a 945 Pilates class and sucked wind. It was bad. I didn't know whether to faint or throw up, so at one point, I ran to the bathroom and sat down on the floor in the dark, afraid I was going to see my pancakes again. Luckily, after a minute, the feeling subsided, and I was a-okay. I finished "strong."
My JT and I are about go help Andrea and Jason. I had every intention of bringing a plate of housewarming cookies, but I will just have to bring them with a meal later this week. My oven was all pre-heated when I discovered I'd run out of flour. I got some and some fresh watermelon to bring them today. We also might make an appearance at a concert my co-workers have been working hard on tonight. We shall see!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
While working on Love Better, love has been everywhere. Hillsong lyrics have great insights on Savior-Love. I am also reading The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, and who puts it better than him?
Our pastor is even conducting a sermon series on BEING the Church, and all I can think about is pouring God's love to others. I told him that I've been recognizing how unloving I can be to people: snobby, jealous, petty, manipulative -- the works. He agreed that perhaps the first step to Love Better is to recognize where I fall short. This Sunday is a Be the Church Sunday. We do them every month that has a fifth Sunday, on the fifth Sunday of the month. We cancel church service and go out into the community. I'm excited about it and can't think of a better way to celebrate the day before my birthday!
But I have enjoyed loving on my husband this week and lavishing in his love for me. I made him this beautiful cake he'd been craving and deemed it Love Lemon Cake to go with the theme, complete with lovely lemon icing from scratch.
Even though I used the wrong recipe for the cake, it turned out so well and it hit the spot for him. My mom even got to have some after our sushi class on Tuesday. Yes, we learned how to make sushi from a Japanese restaurant owner. (And by Japanese restaurant owner, I mean the owner was Japanese; not sure about the restaurant.) (PS: Still trying to get my mom to say Asian instead of Chinese or Oriental.)
I am bribing my fellow employees with GOAL Pancakes. If they hit goal today, I will bring my favorite 10-grain mix I still need to mail Miss Jessica and the shake and pour variety from Bisquick, which tastes so lovely, along with some fresh butter, blueberries, bananas, and honey and syrup. The cheap and yummy and morale-boosting way to make the last day before weekend more bearable! (And I will probably bring them anyway, even if they don't hit goal until tomorrow.)
Que tengan un buen dia!
Monday, August 24, 2009
Welcome (back) to Not Me! Monday, the blog carnival created by MckMama. It's time for me to share what has NOT been happening this week.
I did NOT sweep and vacuum the floor a combination of five times and still not have the power to get all of the mess off of our floors. I'm perfectly adept with the broom, and get it right the first try. My husband who has worked hours on our yard would NEVER have to pick up after his wife's "cleaning" jobs.
After writing a post (below) about loving people better, I would NOT immediately sneer at a man who almost ran me over in the parking lot and then roll my eyes at a group of ladies who stopped to chat whilst I was holding the 'vator for them. NO, almost immediately, I was a model of patience and virtue in my Project Love Better endeavors, especially pertaining to my husband.
And while embarking on Project Lean Bottom (coming to a post near you), I did NOT make the perfect batch of low-fat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, better than they've ever turned out so far, and so good that they have NOT ruined us and our cookie expectations FOREVER. (EDIT: Recipe can be found at Undomestic Kitchen!)
If I made cookies in a weekend, I'd NEVER make a lemon cake the next night, even if my husband was craving it. I would NEVER take a picture of said cake, in good humor, compose a new blog post titled "My husband eats like a pregnant woman," and then delete it because I was ashamed. NOT me!
Well that's what I HAVEN'T been up to lately. What about you?
Saturday, August 22, 2009
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars. Beat in the egg, followed by the applesauce and the vanilla extract. Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oats until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, flattening each cookie slightly.
Bake for about 10-12 min. Cookies will be light brown at the edges when done.
Let cool on sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Friday, August 21, 2009
But here are some earthly glimpses of this disaster and gift that haunts and lights as a whisper of God's love. And these are just examples I've seen this week!
admitting you're wrong.
spot in bed because you know you're
getting his side of the sheets hot.
because her son's t-ball coach
started practice without telling them.
projects on behalf of wife and home.
to feed him soup and let him sleep in
a warm bed
that does not belong to you
and putting faith in a new church
Stories from before their crash like her husband coming up from behind her to stop her dish washing so they could dance in the kitchen to their song, "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" with their children watching, and asking her while she's up to her elbows in sick kids and dirty diapers the top three things he can do for her, and singing the same song by her bedside faithfully when she's in a coma and covered in burns and bandages. And the latest was the look in each other's eyes in the first picture she's revealed of herself since her accident that happened a year ago this weekend. The fact that not even near-death experiences and complete physical transformations can touch their love.
So the first measure I will write about in Project LB is Project Love Better. Right now, I love when it's convenient for me. I love when I won't get hurt. I love if it's fair. I love if I get something in return. I love when I'm thinking about it. I love when it will make me feel good.
I need to Love Better. I need to live a life of prayer and enrich myself in the Word so that love is almost a natural reaction for me. I need to love Grumpy, Rude, Selfish, BadDriver, and my very very favorite, Demanding in addition to Nice, Generous, ComplimentGiver. I need to love without abandon. I need love to ruin me, starting with my handsome husband and extending to the people I work with, the lady on her cell phone in the 4-Runner who cuts me off in traffic, and that guy who says exactly what he's thinking whether it's rude or false or uncalled for.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
This is one of JT and my favorite recipes. The first time I made it, I was at the store, in the CHECKOUT line, when JT called and asked if I could make it. I was very hesitant. (Hey, the lines were long!) But am I ever glad I did? This is an Undomestic Kitchen staple now. JT even asked for it twice in one week once, which if you know him, means it's GOOD!
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast or chicken tenders, cut into (Bitesize) chunks
- 1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
- Coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons wok or vegetable oil, 2 turns of the pan (Rachael's preferred brand: House of Tsang)
- 1 tablespoon (a splash) white or rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
- 8 ounces (1 cup) prepared lemon curd
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1 lemon, zested
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced or 20 blades fresh chives, finely chopped
Coat the chunked chicken lightly in flour, seasoned with a little salt. Heat a large skillet or a wok-shaped nonstick pan over high heat. (I used EVOO because I wanted the chicken to stick a little bit to my pan. It's the best flavor in the dish!) Stir fry chicken until golden, 3 or 4 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan and return pan to heat. Reduce heat to medium.
Add a splash of vinegar to the pan and let it evaporate. Add stock or broth to the pan and scrape up any drippings with a whisk. (Like I said, this is the best taste in the whole dish.) Thin curd by stirring in a little hot water. (I whisked mine with a fork to thin it up) Add curd to broth and whisk to combine. Add chicken back to the pan and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to thicken sauce and finish cooking chicken pieces through. Remove the pan from heat, add the scallions or chives and zest, and toss chicken pieces well to combine zest and scallions or chives evenly throughout the sauce.
Rachael's Notes: Wok oil infused with ginger and garlic is usually available on the International Foods aisle in many markets.
Chicken broths and stocks are available in resealable paper containers, making storage of remaining product easy and on hand in the refrigerator; they are found in the soup aisle.
Lemon curd is a sweet lemon spread available in most markets. It is on the jam/jelly aisle. (I wouldn't have known!)
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
In spite of having all of my carefully collected music files, fiction I've written, and pictures from every digital camera I've ever had, all carefully preserved in their respective folders, I was a little disappointed to discover that all of my recipes I'd bookmarked were gone. I don't think you can fully comprehend it. It was pretty magnificent -- probably in the 200s.
The thing is, I'd been meaning to categorize them by course, flavor, etc, whatever I felt like, but never got around to it. I'm thanking my lucky stars right about now or else there would have been much weeping and gnashing of teeth. But I realize I'm sitting pretty if I'm lamenting something as silly as a collection of web pages I can easily research again when I'm hankering for a particular nosh.
What did you miss this week while my computer was in an infested graveyard? My brother lasted all of a day and a half at college before my mom had to pick him up. They think he had swine flu, so my dad put him on the medicine and gave it to every other member of the family for prevention. I cooked some awesome dishes.
Oh, and remember the torture device disguised as a Pilates machine? (Or was it the other way around?) I can confirm it is, indeed, a torture machine. I've taken three rain-inducing, muscle-shaking classes to date, and I've decided that despite its outrageous price tag, I am going to join for a few months. Plus, I'm thinking I'm going semi-vegetarian, so goodbye pork and red meat for now -- at least until JT orders a spicy sausage plate at our favorite Italian restaurant.
It's true: I'm in the market for a lifestyle change. I need those every once in awhile to break the routine and keep myself guessing. Plus I'm starting to gain a little weight and I'd love to look really hot just in time for dark jeans and sleek fleece. I've been in the mode of wakeupworkerrandsworkoutcookeatTVbookbed, with JT intertwined a little bit in everything.
So look for a new and improved LB soon. I'm myself, but it's like I need to shed some layers and armor and be all that I can be. My birthday is next Monday and my favorite season is coming up, so I can't think of a better time than now!
Friday, August 14, 2009
If you can get past the creepy bunny costume and look more closely, you can actually see a face in the bunny eyes.
This is how I will always remember my brother: innocent and enthusiastic and definitely not old enough for college.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Another friend of mine has a creepy classmate in his 40s (almost double her age, if not) who asks her to study with him alone often. He leaves his match.com site up and looks to see if she notices it when they are in class in the computer lab. And last week, he asked her to go to a Rod Stewart concert with him an hour and a half away. When she expressed that she wasn't interested whatsoever, he emailed and said, "Sorry for your misinterpretation, but I wasn't asking you on a date." So now, he is not only a creeper, but he's a liar as well!
I think realistically it takes kissing a few frogs before we finally meet Prince Charming. Major, major props to the girl who knows what she wants and finds him on the first try! I told my friend that dates like these are kind of like job interviews: they are good experience for learning what you like and don't like and help you be more comfortable talking to people -- even if you don't get the job.
So why is it so much fun to commiserate/laugh/gossip about dates, good or bad? Is it an unwritten code between women, a sort of mutual necessary evil that bonds us? I have to admit it... I want to hear your stories! To be fair, I will share first. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I painfully crushed more than I painfully dated. Until JT, my dating relationships were limited to two months, at which point some unseen automatic switch was activated and I was suddenly aware that this guy was not for me to the point that my stomach acted up whenever he was around -- and it wasn't butterflies.
Just a little background before I take the plunge: I'm not sure if this qualifies as a date, but I'd had a huge crush on this guy for months, and it was the first time he asked me somewhere alone. He was a youth pastor at a church about 30 minutes away from our college, and he wanted to use my life-sized Chewbacca for a Wednesday night sermon illustration. (!!!!)
I got so nervous leading up to it that I was running to the bathroom every few minutes. This did not bode well, but I took some medicine and a nice nap and felt fine when I woke up. So he picked me up, loaded Chewbacca in the back of his car. And we never made it to the church. Just one exit away from the school, I practically begged him to pull over at a gas station and a friend came to pick me up. If I were the type of girl to get embarrassed, admitting bodily (mal)functions to a hardcore crush would definitely do it!
So how did my first date with my husband go? Well, for one, we broke all of the "rules." You know which rules I am talking about. We did not "talk," "date,"and then "go out/steady/in a relationship on Facebook." We went on our first date after we'd already decided to become exclusive. He came to my parents' house after running into each other at a concert and we decided we wanted to be together. Then he went out of town. And THEN we went on our first date: coffee, a movie, a bookstore. And GASP! We held hands -- and HORRORS! -- kissed on the first date. We "took it fast," according to some, and we're still as crazy for each other as ever! We followed the Lord's lead, and did what felt comfortable to us regardless of what people said.
Dating horrors, dating successes, awkward encounters with an old flame or a new crush? It's your turn to spill!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Ancient Torture Device????
PS: I have four blog post drafts waiting for your eager eyes.