Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Lesser of Two Evils

Coming up with a name for the baby has been a hot and dangerous topic between me and Joe. We each have a different name in mind, and neither of us are willing to budge. To say we've been at a standstill would be generous. Today, however, Joe looked at me during church, smiled, and handed me this note: "You can choose the name of our firstborn baby boy if I can choose the name of our firstborn girl. And don't think I won't name her Renesmee." (As in from Twilight.)

Sigh...so now I'm forced to choose between swallowing my pride (and the superior name) or praying for only sons.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

No Fishing.

Today I asked Joe if my hair was ugly. He responded, "No. It is what it is."

Teaches me for fishing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Signs It's Happening

: Joe's been making some seriously lame jokes. He thinks they are hilarious.
: We watch Jeopardy almost every night.
: The other night I asked Joe if it was time for bed yet. We looked at the clock. It was 7:45pm.

We're becoming parents.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Good Day

Today:
  • Levin came over the spend the morning with me. He and I had breakfast together, took a nap together, and played with dominoes and a stuffed dog together.

  • Joe and I went to Taco Bell to get a free Doritos taco because someone stole some base in some baseball game.  Free tacos taste good.



  • We found out if the baby is a boy or girl. It is unquestionably a boy. You could have knocked me down with a feather...so much for mother's intuition. I've never seen Joe in such a good mood.
Not the picture, but a good one just the same.

  • We talked with every member of my family via Google+ Hangout to share the news. It was so great to see and hear everyone.
Abe is present via Skype on an iPad on my lap. Thank you Neighbor Jane for the picture.

Today was a very, very good day.







Monday, October 22, 2012

Why I Like Being Pregnant

  • Wearing spankies (leggings) instead of pants on a regular basis is acceptable. 
  • In yoga class it's ok to not do certain (usually more difficult and gravity defying) poses anymore and instead sip on my water bottle.
  • When Joe asks why I am crying the response, "I don't know," is now completely satisfactory.
  • I actually want to eat vegetables (a first). Though that is probably counter balanced by the french fries and jolly ranchers I always seem to want (though, to be fair, they were about all I could stomach for a few weeks).
  • A nap on most days is a legitimate need. Unless I want to be in bed at 8:00pm.
  • I've never been more hydrated in my life.
  • My finger nails are awesome. 
  • I felt it* move for the first time on Friday. I think.
I just thought you'd want to know.

*It will no longer be an it next week. Guesses and speculations are welcome.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Follow Up

I know many of you are wondering how I got Chewie to pose with a pacifier in his mouth. I'm here to tell you it's because he is a wonderfully obedient, thoughtful, and smart dog. Joe and I have begun to show our aptitude in parenting early by teaching our charge the importance of obedience and sacrifice for the good of the whole. Chewie understood this, and even politely declined treats when we offered them as a thank you.

Just kidding. I rubber banded his mouth shut.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Because Pictures Can Say it Better



This is not a baby.




This is a baby.


Coming April 2013.

Monday, September 10, 2012

I'm a sailor! I sailed on my very first try! Ahoy!*

I'm really good at making risotto. I don't mind bragging about it because it appears to be a completely natural talent...and a good recipe...and a mom who used to scold me as a little girl for not reading the chocolate chip cookie recipe all the way through before starting and not following it with complete exactness.

Back to risotto. I made it successfully--I might even say perfectly--on my first attempt. This seriously impressed Joe which has led to many batches of risotto, because, well, there are few things I can nail on my first try so it seems like something I should whip out as often as possible.

Yesterday in celebration of fall I decided to pair risotto with my favorite bird and try my hand at duck breasts. Turns out I'm not a one trick pony folks. I'm also really good at frying up some duck.

I just thought you should know.


video
(While the breasts were frying I called Joe over to the stove multiple times to to come see and smell the progress. I didn't know the site of fat bubbling could ever make a girl so happy.)


*If you correctly guess the movie you get 10 points. Which are equivalent to one Shrute Buck or seven Stanley Nickels.


Because I don't want this to turn into a recipe blog, but I feel like sharing, read on if you're interested:



Risotto:

3 Tbs butter, divided
1/3 Cup diced onion or shallot
3ish 15-oz cans of chicken broth or stock (I know there's a difference between the two, but I don't think it matters)
1 1/2 Cups arborio rice (Israeli couscous also works)
3 Tbs dry white wine**
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan cheese

In a sauce pan bring chicken broth to a boil, then reduce to low skimmer.

Melt 2 Tbs butter in saute pan over medium high heat, add shallot and saute 3-5 minutes (or until clear).
Add grain to shallots and brown for another 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add wine and stir until liquid is almost gone.
Pour in 1/2 cup of broth and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is almost gone (1-2 minutes).
Continue adding broth in 1/2 cup increments, stirring often. Do not let the grain dry out!
Do this until grain is soft, but still has a bite. It usually takes me 25 minutes overall. Remove from heat. (When put on a plate, risotto should spread out a little, but should not be soupy.)
Add salt, pepper, remaining butter, and Parmesan cheese.

I like to add mild fresh herbs at the very end, this time it was sorrel, which we couldn't even taste. I recommend parsley.

Another favorite add-in to risotto is caramelized pear. While risotto is cooking throw one pear, chopped, in a frying pan with a little oil and sugar. Cook until soft, sweet, and a little sticky. Add to risotto with the butter and cheese.

Joe likes when I add a tablespoon of squid ink to the risotto or Israeli couscous at the end as well.



Duck:

Ingredients:
2 duck breasts
Cayenne pepper
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Oregano
Salt
Pepper
Olive oil

3 Plums, pits removed and roughly chopped
1 Tb white wine
1 Cup hot chicken broth (there should be enough left over from your risotto)
Mushrooms
Butter
Lime Zest

Preheat your oven to 400.

Score the skin of the duck breasts into a checkerboard pattern, each square 1" or less.

Rub both sides of breasts with seasonings and spices. (Anne Burrell suggests that the average home cook should double the amount of salt in their cooking, I've taken her advice to heart (because she's Anne Burrell) and it has greatly improved my cooking.)

Place duck, skin side down, in a hot-hot pan with a small amount of olive oil. Sear on skin side for 7-8 minutes, or until skin is very brown, like the color of something really dark brown. If you're only at caramel color, keep going even though you think it looks delicious just how it is--it will just be flabby and you want crispy.

As the breasts are frying spoon the melted fat onto the side facing up, because that's how the French do it.

Flip the breasts and stick them in the preheated oven for 6 minutes for a medium-rare. Cooking duck over medium rare is just disappointing. I was almost fooled when I pulled the breasts out as they looked a little bloody, but once they rest on a cutting board for 5 or 6 minutes, all the blood and juices seep back into the meat. Cut on the diagonal.

For the Sauce:

While the duck is resting pour all but 1 Tbs of the leftover grease into a jar to save for another day (to fry potatoes in). In the same pan as the remaining oil add the wine, chopped up plums, chicken broth and some salt. I also threw in some kind of forest mushrooms we had leftover in the fridge (which is why I send Joe grocery shopping, he buys things like duck and forest mushrooms). Let this all cook down for a few minutes on high heat. Add a Tbs of butter and some lime zest at the end. Lick your fingers.

**Because I don't drink alcohol and only occasionally cook with it, when I buy a bottle of wine I freeze it in ice cube trays and once they are frozen put into a ziplock baggie and keep in the freezer. The cubes don't actually hold their shape that well so they're more wine slush, but it still serves the purpose of having cooking wine on hand without having to keep a bottle in the fridge (I just assume opened wine goes bad, or at least starts tasting like fridge).

Enjoy.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

To-Do

If my to-do list had things like:

  • Sleep in
  • Don't bother showering yet
  • Read blogs
  • Find new blogs
  • Check Pinterest
  • Look for some new dresses online
  • Do a crossword
  • Eat Salt and Vinegar potato chips for breakfast

Then I'd be done for the day!

Unfortunately it actually looks like this...


Wah, wah.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Don't You Just Hate it When...

You lock yourself out of your house?

Me too.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Day--Alone--in Tokyo


I tagged along Joe's last business trip to Tokyo. I tried to remember this was only a vacation for one of us and made plans to explore the city on my own. And then I realized how massive it is. And how much cab fare is. And how navigating metros while trying to decipher characters is really hard. So I stuck to exploring the area immediately surrounding our hotel.


I armed myself with a map, and even drew my course as my iphone wasn't going to be of much use. I decided to use the western stores as my landmarks as they were the only thing on my map not written in characters. Unfortunately I discovered that was a flawed plan as there is a Prada, H&M, and Apple on every other corner. 


So I relied on my skills learned from Sesame Street as a kid to match the shape of the characters from the map to the street signs. A lot of those characters were mighty similar to my Elmo-trained eye.


But Sesame Street trained me well, as I was successfully able to navigate the above in order to get the below (among other things).


(Unfortunately Washi tape is just as expensive when you buy it at the source.)


All in all I decided it's extremely empowering to navigate a completely foreign city (largely without Roman lettering or Arabic numbers I might add) all by myself. And I really liked Tokyo. 

Of course, it helped that a few of Joe's business dinners fell through so I got to go to some of the best restaurants Tokyo has to offer. It was incredible. 


(When in Asia...)



(mmmmmm Toro)

Along with discovering the empowerment of navigating, I also discovered the deliciousness of sushi! Up to this point I have been a roll-only kind of girl. What? You want to add cream cheese to sushi and then deep fry it and add mayo? Great! Upon Joe's insistence however, and the spirit of travel, I gave real sushi an honest try. Oh man. I think Joe created a monster. It's just sooooo good. Unfortunately I think I've got high taste and this level of sushi will not be afforded available on any kind of consistant basis.


But some things still remain the same. I do not like large chunks of Japanese clam. And when you are in a restaurant that uses cloth napkins and only seats six, and you are the only non-Asian who is clearly struggling to get a few things down, and it would be very clear who spit out their specialty clam, you wait until the chef goes in the back room to put your clam in your cardigan pocket.

And that's it. Unless you want to see one of the best souvenirs we brought back here.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Speaking of Finishing

This is a picture taken during my first month of collage. I was a contestant in a ward Halloween party rendition of The Fear Factor. (I was a Jackson Pollock painting. Obviously.)

My hair has a teased "bump," and I'm pretty sure there is a zig-zag part separating my braids. I tell you this so you can mark the time passed.


Fast forward four years and 136 college credits later....

And here I am celebrating with my family (on my birthday) my psuedo-graduation at Disneyland. Which was really the completion of student teaching since I still had half of an online class to finish.

Let me tell you. That was one brutal class. I'll spare you all of the agonizing details, just know that it was so brutal it took me three months after Disneyland to even get seriously motivated to finish my class and another two months after that until this...


A sushi dinner, courtesy of Joe, to celebrate finishing my last college essay.

And 25 days later...

I take my last final. See how far I've come?* 

Which is to say...I finished collage. 

*Actually, notice how my face is almost the exact same in the first and last picture?


Friday, April 27, 2012

Z--Zero

As in there are not many things to blog about that begin with the letter Z. I'm usually a quitter (although I prefer the term, "non-finisher-because-it's-not-going-the-way-I'd-imagined") and have been sitting on the letter Z for quite a while. I thought about just ignoring Z and hoping nobody noticed, but I'm trying to break my nasty non-finisher status. So here you go blog world and goals. I finished.


Joe and I found this Hey Girl especially rang true as right now one has to step over some empty (though spray painted!) frames to go up the stairs to the bedrooms and weave through some papier-mache bones to go down the stairs to the garage.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This is Not Z

Joe buys me fruit snacks (and other treats) when he goes grocery shopping (a treat in itself)…even though he knows I’ll leave the wrappers lying around. His biggest pet peeve*

I'm pretty sure that is true love.

*I’d like to assure everyone that I am not, in fact, a dirty person. I just find wrappers really annoying. No one likes to eat a bag of fruit snacks standing next to the garbage can.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Y--Peace

See, it looks like a Y

As in trying to keep the peace after a particularly nasty round of Canasta. Joe may have been tripling my score. He might have called me a poor loser. I possibly called him an excessive celebrator. I may have been genuinely mad. 

I thought about adding it to our list of banned games (unfortunately that list is growing), but couldn't do that to my favorite game. And I thought Joe and I should take this issue in our marriage head on. So before our next round of Canasta a few nights later, I decided we needed to read a little book together. I read the Berenstain Bears No Girls Allowed out loud. 

You can read my favorite page of this book, and the one I thought most fitting for me and Joe.


Brother Bear and his friends get so annoyed with Sister Bear they decide to not play with her anymore and build an all boys club. Sister realizes the errors of her ways (and builds a club house of her own--complete with tin can phones) and apologizes to Brother Bear and the boy and girl cubs all play happily together.

You can see in this next picture how Joe felt about all of this.

(Joe's middle finger, my thumb)

But! We had a very successful round of Canasta. Consider our home a place of peace...even on Canasta night. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Xenogenesis

Joe's Christmas present:
A labradoodle named Chewbacca. 

Joe has been itching for a puppy for a long time. Since-his-dog-died-while-he-was-on-his-mission-ten-years-ago long time. One time while we were walking around Ikea he even picked out a stuffed dog and carried it around the entire store in his arms, (when he thought I wasn't looking) periodically petting it. He even bought it and kept it on the couch with him while he was watching TV, petting it. It just about broke my heart. That is how bad Joe wanted a puppy.

My conditions were that it needed to be a designer puppy that didn't shed*, that was extremely calm, and would never weigh more than me.

We settled on a labradoodle in August. And my idea to give the best Christmas present Joe could ever dream of was born. But just getting Joe a puppy wasn't enough. It also needed to be a surprise!

So I began telling Joe that I thought we should wait a bit longer for a dog..at leasat another year. We'll talk about it once we've been married for a year. I wasn't ready yada, yada, yada. Non of this came as a shock to Joe as I'd been telling him the same thing since we were dating seriously enough to be talking about theoretical dogs in future homes. But behind the scenes I was making arrangements with a breeder in Yakima.

Fast forward to December 24th when Joe and I are driving out to my parents and I make the turn to Yakima. I didn't say a word to Joe other than we were going to get a Christmas surprise. He asked if it was a puppy. I told him he would be extremely disappointed if he thought he was getting a puppy and to set his sights a little lower. He settled on buffalo steaks (what I got him for Christmas last year) and that we were going to a buffalo farm. So you can imagine his surprise when we walk inside the breeders house and a fluffy puppy was put in his arms.

BEST SURPRISE EVER, RIGHT?!

Chewie has become quite the good little companion. I'm surprised how much we love and enjoy him. (Seriously, who thought I would ever be saying I love a dog?!)

A few facts you might enjoy knowing about Chewie:
  • If he hears a rustling bag he assumes it is the sound of treats for him and immediately sits and waits for you to recognize how deserving he is.
  • He is a big fan of socks. 
  • If Chewie finds something he likes, but knows he shouldn't have, (ie socks, shoes, incredibly large and dirty sticks from outside, hairbands, one of Levin's toys) he makes a mad dash to his bed in the living room. He thinks you don't see him or hear him if he goes really, really fast. Unfortunately for him the opposite is true. If you walk up to him when he has said restricted items, he lays on them quickly so you can't see them and pretends like nothing is going on.
  • He knows the difference between his right paw and his left paw. It is his favorite trick.
  • We almost named him Tatanka
  • Dad came up with the name Chewbacca.
  • He loves Joe and gets so excited when he hears him coming home at night.
  • He loves to take naps with on me.

I was extremely skeptical about getting a dog, but knew Joe would love it. Joe kept saying it was the best Christmas present he'd ever had. And you know, Joe might be on to something. Because there are few things better than coming home and seeing a wagging tail.

*True story: Chewbacca sheds less than Joe's beard.

Winning

I can no longer say I've never had anything won at a carnival for me before!


Unfortunately the frog didn't make it home. I didn't inherit many of my mother's "throw it out if I can't use it" genes, but I did inherit enough not to keep around carnival prizes...especially when they smell like cigarette smoke.

Friday, February 10, 2012

V

V--Vietnam.

While Joe and I were dating he once turned to me after doing something he found particularly funny and said, "I learned that trick in 'Nam!"


I think that inspired our honeymoon. 


Joe was in charge of our destination and true to his form, he chose something totally unexpected--Vietnam.


We went to Hanoi:



We found a really cool organization that offers free tours of the city to tourists given by students from the local university that want to improve their English. Win win.


We went  to a village outside of Hanoi that is famous for it's pottery. We tried our hands at making it, but decided that the stuff from the pros was much more worthy of lugging around for the rest of our trip and bringing home. 

We went to Halong Bay:

This is how Joe felt about our boat ride to and around Halong Bay.


Halong Bay is host to fishing villages made up of house boats selling fish still flapping. We  discovered that your ship chef will happily cook up your flapping purchase for you, making the most
delicious grilled fish and fish-head soup. Or so the couple who shared a dining table on our boat would tell you. We didn't know about this feature of the trip...but the couple was nice enough to share their fish with us--after we had already tried some on accident.


We took kayaks out around the bay. It was a major highlight of the trip.


I include this picture for a few reasons. 1. See how windy it is? We didn't even bring jackets to Vietnam. I frooooooze at Halong Bay. 2. I look hammered. A wedding and a 16 hour time difference (and forgetting your make-up at home) will do that to a girl. Joe looks awesome.

We went to Hoi An:


Joe found the most amazing spa for us to stay at on the beach in Hoi An. Like Ah-Mazing. All services were included in the base price, so we went crazy. We maybe spent an entire day getting massages, manicures, pedicures, and more massages. We took breaks from getting rubbed in most desirable (and totally appropriate) ways by walking 20 feet to the beach. It was unseasonably cold and this was the closest we got to being in the the water. And by we, I mean I. Joe stayed safely dry taking pictures (which is why he is rarely in any pictures). Joe said I reminded him of a little girl. I objected. He then showed me a collection of shells in his pocket that I had periodically run back from the waves to give him.

We went to Da Nang:

This woman gave us a boat ride around a lake. She was old and the boat and oar were heavy. Joe even took his hand at rowing for a bit and said it was hard work. We love going new places and meeting people like this woman, who have lives so clearly different from ours, yet is just another human being trying to do their best.


Da Nang is famous for their lanterns. I had to climb up some very rickety scaffolding to get this picture. That's why it's included.

Overall...if you get a chance, go learn some tricks in 'Nam.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

U--Understanding

Because you understand. Right? About my lack of blogging I mean. Student teaching was no small time-suck. Then my graduation celebration at Disneyland (because who likes Rexburg in the winter?). Then the Holidays. Then January (which is never as productive as I hope). And then...and then. Well. Here we are. Thanks for understanding.

Though really you should be grateful for the wait as it drummed up a new word for "U". My previous choice was "udders"...it was a doozy.