Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Life List: Cookbook Challenge Update

You may have noticed (or not, whatever) that I haven't gotten around to doing a wrap-up post in months and months. Mainly because I finished my Bluebell challenge and didn't have enough stuff going on to make a wrap-up post interesting.

But! I am still (very slowly) working on my Cook-All-The-Way-Through-A-Cookbook Challenge! Just as a refresher, I'm cooking through the "Bride and Groom First and Forever" Cookbook, which Matt and I got as a wedding gift. I have made many delicious recipes from it; Matt has cooked none. (Though when I get to the section on breakfast, you better believe I'm going to be recruiting his help. He's the king of homemade breakfasts!)

Thai-Style Corn Soup with Shrimp and Green Curry
The coconut milk-base broth was very flavorful, but probably could use juuuust a smidge less fish sauce. But that's a very small complaint, considering I ate three bowls for dinner. I wouldn't call this soup spicy by any stretch, but you can add more green curry to make it hotter if you'd like. Overall, once the shrimp was peeled and deveined, this recipe came together very quickly.

Summertime Marinara
This was much better than the last time I tried to make marinara! It turned out really delicious.

Edit: I wrote that description in August. It's now November. I don't remember anything else about the marinara, so I'm sorry that's all the description you get. I imagine it was similar to every other type of marinara you can make or get at the store. Use in-season tomatoes if you make your own!

Harvest Apple Crisp
This is the first dessert I've made in a very, VERY long time. I'm just not a dessert-maker. I'm a dessert-EATER, but I don't like to know how much sugar and butter are in what I'm eating, so I rarely bake anything. But this one's got apples in it! Healthy! It didn't have very many ingredients, so it was easy to assemble once I had the apples peeled — ya'll! peeling apples is a huge pain! — and it made the house smell deeeelicious when it was baking. I took it to a book club meeting, and then I brought the leftovers home and Matt demolished the rest of the pan.

Wild Mushroom Risotto
I had never cooked with cremini mushrooms before, and I couldn't imagine they would do THAT much to elevate a dish I've made several times before, but man! It tasted so much fancier with the expensive mushrooms than it does with button 'shrooms! This was quite delicious. Even Matt liked it, and he doesn't really care for mushrooms of any variety.

Rise-and-Shine Smoothie
This orange-banana-strawberry smoothie was pretty good, and I'm not really a smoothie person. (Why drink your meals when you can eat them instead?) And I guess you could say the smoothies turned out to be the best of both worlds, because after it was all blended together, it was almost too thick to drink. Matt and I ended up eating our breakfast smoothies with spoons.

Completed: 45 of 150 recipes

What have you been making for dinner (or breakfast) lately?

Monday, November 24, 2014

People In Virginia Don't Know How Salsa Works

On Friday, Matt's office had a Thanksgiving potluck meal. It was like the Pilgrims, every man bringing the food of their ancestors to the dinner table. Therefore, Matt made that awesome college salsa and brought tortilla scoops to share.

(I was not actually there for this story, which should tell you HOW HORRIFIED I was, and therefore I had to write this down immediately.)

Matt got home from work at the end of the day, and he still had one and a half of the two tupperwares full of salsa, which was weird.  I was surprised there was so much left.

Matt explained, "I don't think they knew what to do with it. One person called it a 'salad.' Some people put a spoonful or two on their plates, but…"

WHAT. HOW DO PEOPLE HERE NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH SALSA. Homemade salsa! Salsa made with love and beans and corn and cilantro and jalapeƱos! Salsa that doesn't come from a Pace jar!

Salad. Pshhhh. It's not leafy! It doesn't have mayonnaise or mustard in it! It's not like any salad — green, potato, waldorf or macaroni — I've ever had.

So, to drown my frustration and horror, I ate half a tupperware of salsa, scooped up onto delicious salty chips. AND THAT'S HOW IT'S DONE.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Coffee Date

Grab yourself a mug of something and let's chat!

A "Nutty Irishman" from Lucie Monroe Coffee Company, and Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

I'm still looking for a job in Virginia, and the other day, I saw a job listing that required a two-minutes-or-less video resume. Now, when I think video resume, I tend to think over-the-top and ridiculous, a la How I Met Your Mother. But the job sounded like it would be a really good fit for me, so I went about filming and editing and uploading my own resume. It was kind of fun, and I remembered how much I enjoy video editing, which then spiraled into me thinking I should do more vlogs. So maybe, if I remember, there will be more vlogs in EA's future.

Last week, I invited Matt to come with me to a percussion concert at one of the local universities. Apparently a famous-ish percussion guy was guest-performing, but I didn't know that until we got there and Matt was all, "You didn't tell me Michael Burritt was going to be here!" and I was like "Who?" But that's not what I was going to talk about, because the concert was good but did not inspire any crazy stories. Instead, while we were looking for a place to park, we drove past a pizza place that sold "pizza cones." And so for the rest of the night, we kept giggling about pizza cones. What IS a pizza cone? A slice of pizza rolled into a cone? A cone of dough with pizza toppings poured into it? An ice cream cone with pizza inside? We may never know.

You know how different identities tend to suit us better in different times and places? In Texas, despite the state having a reputation for big hair, I flat-ironed the crap out of mine every day. But since I got here? I haven't busted out the Chi even once. Instead, I feel like curly hair suits me better right now. And it must be true, because I just got my Virginia driver's license, and damn I look fierce in the photo.
I've been having a lot of good adventures with book friends lately. Unexpected book friends. That book up at the top of this post? Totally not the kind of book I would have expected to like, but after a little bit of a slow start, it got REALLY GOOD. And I'm listening to the audiobook of Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked, which is also really good (and well-narrated), and also something I might not have expected to like, since I'm not particularly musically inclined, and don't really follow any one artist or band obsessively.

Except Taylor Swift. I'm a little bit obsessed with "1989" right now. Have you seen the video for "Blank Space"? I kind of love crazy-eyes Taylor. Actually, I love all versions of Taylor, but it's especially fun to see her poke fun at her own reputation. (Also, if you haven't seen it, you should watch Saturday Night Live's "Swiftamine" commercial.)

Matt and I have made some friends! We met a couple that's our age when we went to a mini-golf meetup when I first got to town, and now I go and work out with the girl every once in a while, and they had us over for dinner a couple weeks ago. We reciprocated, and I prepared a proper Tex-Mex feast for them last weekend. They're semi-vegetarian too, so I did homemade salsa, mushroom-spinach enchiladas, and vegetarian tortilla soup, and it was amazing. (We've yet to try any Mexican restaurants in Virginia; this far from the border, is it even possible to do great Mexican food?)

HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART ONE is out today! Are you going to go see it? We used to do midnight premieres with friends, but since Matt has a job to go to — and we're old fogies — we probably will wait until a normal time of day. But I. can't. wait.

What's going on in your world? What's going on with your hair? (It looks fabulous by the way.) How's work going? What are you reading? What are you super excited about this month?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Life List: Once Upon a Time in North Carolina

It all started with a dresser.

A long, long time ago, in a land far, far away (Texas), Prince Matt owned this brown dresser that lived in his walk-in closet. It had begun to rebel, expelling undershirts and matched gold-toe socks every time a drawer was opened, as each drawer-bottom had partially capsized into the drawer below.

He put up with this dragon of a dresser until soon after his wedding to Princess Allie, at which point they figured, they had a walk-in closet, Princess Allie had a dresser big enough to allow him half the drawers, so they didn't really need this broken-down dresser anymore. It was valliantly slain and laid to rest at Goodwill.

And they lived happily ever after, until they moved to Virginia.

Now, their new castle did not have walk-in closets, and it would have been awkward to share such small spaces. Princess Allie took the master closet and still needed every drawer in her dresser, while Prince Matt took the guest room closet.

Prince Matt figured out really quickly that it was kind of a pain to walk from the en-suite to the guest room closet every time he needed clean intimates, so the royal family decided to make a trip to that glorious Swedish palace — IKEA — to find the prince a new dresser.

Except Virginia once again foiled their plans. The only IKEA in all the land was a grueling 4-hour carriage ride away, near Washington D.C., so instead, they decided to leave their kingdom to go to the only other IKEA nearby, which happened to be in Charlotte, North Carolina. They decided to make a day trip of it, and see some other local attractions while they were there.

And thus, Princess Allie got to cross another state off her Life List.

Friday, November 7, 2014

What I Whisper In The Dark

There are just some things that you can't say to someone's face.

I could give examples, but I'm sure you can come up with your own. Insert it here.

In my case, I try so hard, so much of the time, to be happy. To make the most of every situation. And it's hard for me to say that I'm not okay, because I desperately want to be okay, and to be content with what I've got.

I've never really had to start my life from scratch before. In the fifth grade, my family moved from one side of Dallas to the other, but I still had my friends and my extra curricular activities in our old city. When I went off to college, my roommate was a friend from high school, and another of our friends lived directly across the dorm hallway. When I graduated and moved to College Station, Matt had already lived there for four years, and had a solid network of friends we'd hang out with, and I made friends with their girlfriends, who eventually became their wives.

Moving to Virginia has been really hard. I got here and knew no one. Matt had only been here a few weeks longer than I had, and really only knew a few co-workers, most of whom were just acquaintances, not yet friends.

And then Matt's work schedule blew up, and he was working from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m., midnight, 2 a.m., 3 a.m. And I've done my best to get out of the house, go do things, keep myself occupied, but without a job yet, without knowing anyone very well, I am alone a lot.

In those few snatched moments together, he asks me if I'm okay. And I say yes, I am fine. I am happy you're here.

But things break. I was getting frustrated, and bored, and you know I don't do bored. On Sunday, he came home from work right before midnight, and I was busy screaming at him in my head so I wouldn't have to do it out loud, because I know it's not something he can control. I just wanted to go to sleep, for him to go away because it'd be easier than being honest. Because what I was yelling in my head was that I was ready to go back to Texas, that I'd be happy to leave everything here and just take myself home, where I belonged.

God, I miss home.

We were lying there, me with my eyes closed, when he asked if he could take me on a date. I cracked open one eye, and said the same thing I did when he asked me to marry him. "Really?"

It felt weird. Awkward, in a way that we never have been, even at the beginning. It was like there was a valley between us filled with all the things we weren't saying, all the things I couldn't bring myself to say to him. Things like, I am not doing very well here so far. That I would never actually go anywhere without you, that it's not your fault, but that I am hurting a lot right now, and don't know how to make things better for us here.

So I waited until the light went out after our date. Until the breathing quiet. And I told him in my quietest whisper, not even sure if he'd be able to hear me. And he already knew. But it was a relief to say it.