Tuesday, April 24, 2012

10 days and counting

We're down to 10 days and counting until the big day.

Rings have been bought. Fittings have been completed. Vendors have been paid. Church has been confirmed. Everything seems to be in place but that doesn't stop me, my mom and future mom-in-law from stressing over the fact that we don't have anything to do. The one side effect of our goal of having a small, simple and elegant wedding is that it's all over but the waiting.

I am happy that Brian and I have reached the point where we are just focused on having fun with all of our friends and family. We feel very fortunate to have found our DJ (thanks Tracy M.!). He seems to be on the same page as to our music preferences and the feel we want for dinner and for dancing. Brian has made me promise not to go around the reception and goad people into dancing. I'll keep my word. I'll goad you now- if you are coming to the wedding- get out there and dance!!! :-)

I'm heading back home tomorrow for a week of prep (picking up the dress, hair, etc.), hopefully a little relaxation and a "final fling before the ring" party. Can't wait to see all of my friends and enjoy downtown Lawrence. I'm a little nervous about the surprises that are apparently in store for me. But have faith that my bridal entourage won't embarrass me-- too much.

10 days left of being a single girl. Weird. Two years ago, I honestly didn't think I would ever get married and I was okay with that. I was being extra kind to my nieces and nephews, as I figured they would be in charge of what assisted living home I was going to be in one day.

And then that magic little computer delivered Brian to me in my inbox. Thank you magic computer.

17 months since that fateful email match, we are about to become one.  It has been really humbling to hear from friends and family that are driving two days or flying in for less than 24 hours just to be part of this special day with us. It has started to occur to me how overwhelming it is going to be to see friends from college, co-workers that have turned into wonderful friends and family, from near and far, in the same room. To quote George Costanza, "worlds are colliding!" and I can't wait to see it. And I really, really hope my make-up lady has industrial strength water-proof mascara.

So, 10 days from now, I'll be getting hitched to my best friend. My partner in crime. My traveling companion. The love of my life. And we'll march into that reception as Mr. & Mrs.and we'll get to celebrate our new beginning with our Louisiana and Kansas family and friends. And there will be dancing. Oh yes, there will be dancing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cat Show


This weekend is looking to be a busy one, so I figured I’d do a quick update on last weekend’s activities before the Jayhawk Mania begins in a few hours.

Last Friday – March Madness begins! We watched the Jayhawks, of course. The reality of living in an SEC town has never felt more evident then now. I’m not even sure they know what March Madness is down here. I do know that LSU spring football has begun. Ahh- the differences between Kansas and Louisiana continue. 

Please, no pictures.
Saturday was wonderful because we had no plans. We vetoed the St. Pats parade (which is supposed to be amazing down here) because we … well, we just didn’t feel like it. However, when we were looking at the weekend calendar, there was one thing we could simply not say no to—a cat show. Now, most of you know that I have two cats. The furry loves of my life. However, I’ve taken great measures to not be a crazy cat lady. You will not find any sweatshirts with cats on it in my closet. But, much like a car wreck, we couldn’t say no to watching what, we hoped would be, one of the strangest sub-cultures we’ve ever encountered first hand. So with the drum-beat theme song from the “Dog Show” skit on Saturday Night Live in our heads and hopes that we would be encountering endearing feline fanatics similar to those canine crazies in the great Christopher Guest movie, Best in Show, off we went to Gonzales, LA.

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.
First, we paid our $5 to enter, which was followed by a hand stamp of a cat! Awesome!!!  Let me set the scene- The cat show was taking place in one of those big metal buildings you find at any decent fair grounds. It had four aisles of tables holding up the fabulous felines in their amazing abodes. Not your typical kennel that I use to transport mine to the vet. NO- these were like mini tents with clear plastic sides so you could see the cats in action. And by “in action” I mean curled up and sleeping. Some of them were awake and trying to catch a feather on a stick that their owners were waving frenetically in their faces. 




I do think I should be honest and say that I did find myself geeking out a little. I mean the cats were so cute. There were old cats and young cats. Short and long hair. Even no hair- which oddly enough, Brian seems to like. They even had a curly haired cat, which according to his adoring owner is the most rare cat in the world. And I, of course, now want one.
After strolling up and down the aisles (and realizing that I may have a slight cat allergy), we headed over to the judging area. There were four. The cages were set up on tables in a horse shoe with the judge in the middle. Each cat sat in their cage, staring down the competition. Some were talking trash, trying to intimidate the cat in the next cage. Some were grooming, knowing that their time to shine was coming. And others just lounged back with a slight air disdain like that of … well, a cat. 

If he would have fit in my purse and if I didn't think his owner would tackle me before I made it to the exit, #90 would be my cat right now.
As we were watching the judging, the owner of the curly haired cat came up and stood next to me. He, too, had curly hair. Silver and styled in a modified mullet. It must be the kind, mid-western vibe I gave off because he started confiding in me. He had two cats in the competition. A father and a son. But the son didn’t have a chance against the father. The father had won several national championships. The owner went on to tell me that the judge does not know that though. It would not be right. They can’t have any pre-conceived notions about the cat. We watched the judge remove the “son” cat. Black and white with curly hair, he was adorable. Looked like a winner to me. She placed him on an elevated table. She held him on his chest with one hand and petted him down his back to the tip of his tail. He was handling it like a pro. It was at this point that I imagined my cats being judged on a table- out in the open. It would go something like this- the judge, after opening the cage door, would have to place half their body into the cage to reach my cat cowering in the corner. Once they had dragged Rosie/Simon out of the cage, meowing and hissing, the cat would have climbed up the judges shoulder and made a leap for freedom. At which point, we’d be off to the races with my cat doing their best impression of an Indy car, running laps around the building. Not pretty. 

So, just the fact that cat was standing still meant they got my vote. Once she evaluated the son, it was on to the father. Again, curly hair but this time orange and white. He did have the bored look of a cat who had been to this rodeo before. I didn’t notice a huge difference in the judges evaluation between the son and the father. But their owner whispered to me that the judge was clearly more impressed with the father. Once the judging was complete, the judge consulted her notes, gathered the ribbons and placed them on the appropriate cages. This is clearly the cats favorite part because now they have hanging ribbons on the front of their cages. Let the shredding begin! But wait- something was amiss. The owner was craning to see what ribbons had been placed on the cages of his cats. He informed me that he needed to go to talk to the judge because she clearly had made a mistake. Uh oh. Looks like the son had finally eclipsed the father. Brian and I decided to take our leave at this point. We didn’t want to be witness to what was going to mar a beautiful day of judging. 

What I need to avoid becoming.
We made our way out… until I saw the humane society table. NOT FAIR!!! They had kittens. Gray ones. They rubbed their little heads on my fingers poking through the bars. Brian started slowly making his way to the exit. I know it was the smart thing. We just moved here. We are getting ready to head up to Kansas for a few weeks to get hitched. We already have two cats and if I added one more I think I would officially cross into the crazy cat lady category. One last note- they did have a “house cat” judging category. Rosie’s training on the leash begins next week. I’m kidding. Maybe. (I took lots of pictures but the stupid app I used on my phone isn't giving them up. Sorry.)

How do we top last weekend? Two words- crab boil. We’re heading to Thibodaux for an authentic Cajun crab boil- with crabs that have yet to be caught. My cats are going to be so jealous. 

Go Jayhawks!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It's official....

I am a Louisiana resident.

After 3 very frustrating weeks (which brought me to the brink more than once), the Louisiana DMV has deemed it appropriate give me a Louisiana license plate and driver's license. Yes, it is possible that my procrastination led to some of the stress of having a car with expired tags for a couple of weeks. But I also found out that Kansas does things differently (shocker) when it comes to car titles, so I was at the mercy of two governmental agencies and their ability to communicate with each other. I will say, all of the people at the DMV in Baton Rouge that I dealt with, over the course of FIVE visits, were very friendly. I do think they need to update their website because the process to register an out-of-state car is quite a bit different (and more expensive) than they lead one to believe.





So here she is, my car with a LA tag. It just doesn't look quite right. But never fear- that Jayhawk isn't going anywhere!!!!













Go Hawks! (and Norfolk! How great was that!)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Going Home






It’s Pi day and I’m celebrating by baking… Mocha double chocolate chip cookies. You celebrate your way and I’ll celebrate mine. 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been meaning to sit down and update but for some reason have not been able to make myself. 

A stoller. On top of a car.
A lot has happened since last I posted. I went back home to Lawrence and had my wedding dress fitting (where after many prayers the night before and no carbs for two days- it fit like a glove! Whew!), solidified reception details, got an AWESOME chest cold, ate at Bo-Lings- TWICE! Hung out with my nephew and nieces, got to spend a lot of time with my mom (including a 7-hour search for the right strapless bra- good times!), worked on crafty little wedding details, saw a stroller on top of a car on Mass St. (no worries- there wasn't a baby in it.) and last but not least- had the most amazing bridal shower. 


Cute decorations!
Yummy food!

Cutting the cake under the watchful eye of my niece.

Mom and I


I honestly hadn’t really thought of the whole bridal shower “thing” when we decided to get married. There were actually quite a lot of “bridal” things I forgot about until reminded by mom, friends, sister-in-law, helpful vendors. So I really didn’t have any idea of what theme or type of shower I wanted. When I found out that Ashlee and Becki (because I’m really not a fan of the terms “matron of honor” and “bridesmaid”, I’ll refer to them as my bridal entourage) decided to make a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” shower, I realized my entourage is even more amazing and creative than I already knew them to be. 
Becki, Ashlee, me and Mark
Michele and I

It was a small affair held at my parents house. Becki and Ashlee truly out did themselves with the decorations and food (Ashlee’s husband, Mark, assisted as he is a very talented pastry chef and isn’t too bad with the savory items either. Stop by TheMerc and check out their bakery. All of that deliciousness is because of Mark!) My wonderful future mother-in-law sent up a King Cake for the occasion as well. 

It was really nice to see my friends and get dressed up in our little black dresses and wear tiaras (yep- I made everyone wear one- sue me- I’m only planning on getting married once and I’m doing it up right!) Becki even put together a “Brian and Heather” trivia game. Trivia! She knows me so well!

 


















I only lost it once. Among all of the amazing culinary tools that people were generous enough to give us, there was a gift that made me realize how much I love and am missing Lawrence. My thoughtful friend Michele hit the nail on the head with Jayhawk and sunflower candles from Waxman Candles and a Lawrence, Kansas brick. It was perfect. 

 

As I was trying to go to sleep that night (I had not yet taken the ever-so-effective Nyquil), I was trying to understand why Michele’s gift had made me cry. It dawned on me that I am finally from somewhere. All my life when people have asked me where I was from, I would always answer “Nowhere. I’m an Army brat.” Even after having lived in Lawrence for close to 20 years, I never claimed it as it being my hometown. Now that I’ve left, I’m more from Lawrence then I’ve ever been. And when people down here ask me where I’m from, it doesn’t even dawn on me to say “nowhere”. I am quick to answer “Lawrence, Kansas.”  Not Kansas, mind you. Lawrence, Kansas. There is a difference. 

I was home in Lawrence for 10 days. It was a nice long visit. I got to hang with my friends and family. Get me a dose of snow for the winter (of course I would come home during the one week of cold weather they had in Kansas this winter.) But 10 days was also a long time to be away from my Louisiana home and Brian (and the kitties). As I was waiting for my plane home, I realized that I was pretty lucky. No matter if the plane is landing in Kansas City or New Orleans, I'm going home. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

86 days and counting...

From my blog inactivity (sorry Mom) you'd think nothing was going on. Not the case! Things have been busy and about to get busier! We are 86 days away from the BIG DAY. Gulp. I'm getting ready to get on a jet plane and fly back for dress fittings, a bridal shower and countless other details that my mom and sister-in-law will remind me of.

But as for what has been going on in South Louisiana, here is a quick rundown.


  • Brian and I are continuing our day trips around Louisiana. We did another day in New Orleans but stayed away from the Quarter this time. We went to the New Orleans Museum of Art and saw a great exhibit on the past 100 years of the museum, including some beautiful pieces by Dale Chihuly. (If you don't like to buy from wedding registries, I know that Brian and would be open to any Chihuly works you would care to surprise us with. :-) )



Vanilla Gelato and the macaroon
We also walked along Magazine Street and went to some of its great antique and vintage shops. We also stopped in at Sucre. It is a very popular sweet shop and bakery. ( I think the main guy has competed on one of the Food Network competition shows that I can't get enough of.) It is adorable inside and I started salivating immediately. Unfortunately, I again, had order envy. Brian and I wanted to try several things to get a feel of what they offered. I got a S'mores cake (it came with vanilla gelato) and a salted caramel macaroon. Brian got an AMAZING Chocolate and Peanut Butter gelato concoction and a King Cake Macaroon. I've never had a macaroon but they always look so pretty on TV. In reality- meh. I don't know what I was expecting but I was bit disappointed. The S'mores cake was good but not great. So, when in New Orleans, definitely visit Sucre but stick with the gelato (or their handmade chocolates- we didn't get any but Brian vouches for them, which is good enough for me.) 

We concluded our day in a great jazz bar, DBA. It is just off the Quarter on Frenchman's street. We went to listen to John Boutte.He's a little guy with a great big voice. It was so much fun!  A lot of people have gotten to know him recently through the HBO series, Treme. Check him out!


Before 
After 
  • Brian and I got our office set up. The biggest task- assembling the desk. It took 5 hours. 5 long hours. And we're still engaged, so I think that's saying something!


  • A couple of weeks later, I was invited to a real English Tea by my future mother-in-law -Ms. Murray is what so many call her. It was completely charming and the food was delicious. But the best part was meeting the other women Ms. Murray invited to the Tea. They were completely charming and welcoming to me. They were funny and had great stories. It was like something out of Steel Magnolias.  They wanted to know all about our wedding plans ( I assured them my colors were not Blush and Bashful), how Brian proposed, how I was liking South Louisiana, etc, etc. It was great!


  • And I saw my first Mardi Gras parade- sort of. We went to the Mystical Krewe of Mutts parade in downtown Baton Rouge. Instead of the big floats, the stars of this parade were the four-legged citizens of Baton Rouge. There were so many dogs in costume (along with their owners)! It was great. They paraded through downtown (and it was a big parade!) Beads and dog treats were thrown to the crowd. The parade started with the King and Queen and was followed by the Prince and Princess (who paraded in absentia- for obvious reasons). It was a beautiful and sunny day and a lot of fun! The perfect introduction to Mardi Gras. 

That's about it for now. I'm sure there will be lots to share after this trip back to Kansas. I'll be sure to tell you What's Next.
 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Musings on a day trip- New places, old antique stores, too much cheese and the Mississippi River..


Ahh.. Kansas.
I lived in Kansas for 25 years. Having now left, I am beginning to understand how much I love it. I didn’t realize that I did. I always liked to make cracks about its politics and seemingly lack of culture. So, who would have thought that I would miss its rolling landscapes but I do. 

But also having lived there for a quarter of a century, there weren’t many day trips that were new. I’d enjoyed going into Kansas City or going to Abilene but I’d been there and done most of it. Now I’m some place new and I am in love with the fact that no matter what town we go to, it is brand new to me. 

One of our favorite things to do in Kansas was to just head out and drive. It was all new to Brian and I enjoyed showing off the state and seeing it through a newbie’s eyes. And now- I’m the newbie! A couple of weekends ago, we decided to just drive and see where we ended up. We ended up in St. Francisville. It is a charming little town with beautiful historic homes. There were antique stores and “antique” stores. We got suckered in by a couple of the “antique” stores- we should have known by the pink and cream and painting that they  weren’t going to be filled with grandma’s old kitchen utensils. Rather they were filled with jewelry, little bedside lamps for $70 and candles and lotions. Fortunately, we found real antique stores- the kind that aren’t pretty inside, make you sneeze in the first five minutes and have old 45’s mixed in with really old farm tools and headboards. 

Chicken Magnolia- yes.
We had lunch at Magnolia Café. It was a mixed experience. Brian and I split a cup of amazing gumbo. It was almost as good as Brian’s gumbo and this is saying a lot. He ordered the Chicken Magnolia sandwich. I got a Shrimp pizza. As soon as the plates were set down, I had order envy. (This is become an all too common occurrence since I met Brian. The man always seems to know what the best thing on the menu is going to be.) This was another case of serious order envy. 



Shrimp pizza- no







As with most things, it came down to a matter of ratios. The shrimp were quite delicious. The problem was the cheese. But, Heather, how can that be?? Cheese is one of God’s most amazing gifts. There are very few cheeses that I have met and not liked. And this was good ol’ mozzarella. What’s not to like?? Well, simply put- there was too much of it. Way too much. Probably twice as much as there should have been. And they didn’t cook it long enough to get the cheese a yummy golden brown in the middle. And the crust didn’t have much flavor. So, all in all, I was not a fan of the pizza. However, I will absolutely go back… and get the Chicken Magnolia and the gumbo. 

Spanish Moss
Live Oaks




















After lunch, we drove around some more and saw some amazing Live Oak trees covered in Spanish moss. Romantic and creepy. Did you know that Spanish moss is actually fungus and you don't want to get it on your trees. But the tourists like it. Tourists- sheesh.


Bridge to New Roads, LA.
Then we went home via a brand new bridge over the Mississippi River. Brian had not been over the bridge yet and he wanted to see it. He (and most people down here) have a love affair with Mississippi River. They see a beauty in the constantly moving brownish-gray water that I haven’t found yet. Brian says it comes from growing up here and having so much of your life revolve around the river and its ever-changing personality. Their lives and livelihoods are dictated by how high the river is and how fast it’s moving. 

The river also dictates the geography down here. City borders and streets are rarely straight, which can really be confusing for a newbie. Especially someone from Kansas, where the 1 mile square grids of country roads make it nearly impossible to get lost. In Kansas, you orient yourself by the sun and it’s easier to find north. Down here you orient by the river and you don’t always know where you are or where you’re going. But there is almost always something new around the bend. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

We are not alone.


blech.
No, I’m not talking about aliens (though I was a HUGE  X-Files fan back in the day and I do believe the truth is out there). I’m talking about the numerous creatures that call South Louisiana (and sometimes our house) home. Specifically, lizards.

You can say how cute they are and how they are an integral part of the ecosystem. I don’t care. I don’t like them. Scratch that- I hate them- especially when they invade my territory. I will concede the outdoors to them. It is just another point for my argument against the outdoors and solidifies my long held belief that I am an indoor kinda gal.

Let me set the scene for you. I was doing laundry. I loaded up the washer. I started the water. Next, (and this replays in my mind in slow motion), I open the cupboard over the washer to get the soap. As I do, something falls- right in front of my face- into the washer. It happened so fast the object was a blur. As I was still naïve, I thought “Oh, what was that?” I looked up and didn’t see anything. I looked in the cupboard in front of me. Nope, nothing there. And then I looked into the washing machine to see if I could see what fell in. Nothing. So, I leaned a little bit forward and…….

I need to back up and give you some background. A week and a half earlier, we had been up in Kansas for Christmas. Brian and I were sitting in the living room talking to mom and somehow the subject of lizards came up. Now, my mom knows me and she knows how I feel about lizards. She’s been to Florida with me and seen me put many a band leader to shame with my high kicking running through the gauntlet of lizards that sun themselves on Florida’s sidewalks. But Brian still really didn’t grasp this fear.
The scene of that fateful day.
Mind you, this fear of lizards is not irrational. It’s totally rational and started when I was 2. We were living in Hawaii (yeah, yeah- tell me how great it is when you finish reading this). When I would go to sleep at night, geckos (not the cute insurance commercial version) would come into my room and crawl on the ceilings and chirp. Even at 2 I realized how wrong this was and would not go to sleep until my parents got rid of them. This fear is very real and completely justified. 

My mom and I were relaying this story to Brian when he said “Boy, I’m really glad I didn’t tell you about the lizard I found in our shower in Ottawa.” The room fell silent as all attention turned to me. “WHAT?” I couldn’t really say more than that, as I started reliving every shower I took in that apartment. I can only imagine what I would have looked like running down the streets of Ottawa naked and screaming had I found a lizard in our shower. Brian tried to reassure me that the lizards in Louisiana did not want to come into our house and there wouldn’t be very many. “They don’t want to be in our house. Their food is outside. They eat mosquitos.” He also tried to reassure me that they wouldn’t come out until it got warmer in March or April. So I had a few months to prepare myself to deal with the image of my wonderful cats batting one of those evil and disgusting lizards around our living room.

So, now you have a little better idea of the weeks (and years) of lizard-fearing that had gone on in my life before I decided to do some laundry. 

(Back to the laundry room )I leaned over and looked in the washing machine and saw a white tail and two little feet. That was it. I ran screaming from the laundry, through the office, through the kitchen, through the dining room and into the living room where Brian was sitting. He didn’t realize what the noise was at first. It was so high pitched he said it didn’t sound human. It was me. I told him there was a lizard in the washing machine. He got a little smile on his face and chuckled. But only for a second until he realized ( I made him realize) this was not a joking matter. He sat there for  a minute and wanted to know what happened. I quickly told him. And he still just sat there. “Go get him! The water is running in the washer! Get him! GET HIM!” 

He went and got him. He had died quite a while ago- probably before we moved in. The motion of the washing machine and our opening the cabinet door had slowly moved him to the edge until that fateful day. 

If Brian had not been there, I can assure you that I would have closed that laundry door and started stocking up on quarters for the Laundromat. Because I would have never gone in that room again. 

The next couple of days had me opening cabinets and jumping back.  I opened the shower curtain and jumped back. I told myself this was silly. They are small and probably more afraid of me then I am of them. They eat mosquitos (which I’ve heard are as big as lizards down here). I am going to have to find a way to deal with this come Spring. I’m thinking of duct taping all the doors and windows.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Brian's Shrimp and crispy polenta in cream sauce- You'll thank me later.


Brian and I love to cook together. It’s one of our favorite things to do. Sometimes I’m the executive chef and he is my sous chef and vice versa. This recipe is all Brian. And I think it is my favorite thing we’ve made so far. 


We do try to cook healthy and have made more things out of our Weight Watcher’s cook books than any other. Having said that, this is not a WW recipe. Brian was inspired by a Shrimp and Grits recipe from “Uglesich’s Restaurant Cookbook” ( Uglesich’s was  an amazing restaurant in New Orleans). I say inspired because Brian is not a grits fan (gasp!). So instead of grits we used polenta. 


I cannot say enough how much we enjoyed this dish. The first time we made it, it was just the two of us. It was so good I felt like I needed to go grab some people off the street and let them try it. It was too good not to share. I snapped out of that overly generous mood and just had a second helping. The second time we made it, we shared it with our friends Toby and Andrea. Again, it was amazing. But it was also then that I realized that Brian had been seriously holding back on the seasoning so as not to offend my Midwestern palate (awww. He’s so sweet.) But the second time, I was out numbered 3-1 by South Louisiana natives. It was spicier.  It didn’t help that it was accompanied by green beans that were also spicy. I drank water and adjusted. It was still so good!


So, here it is Brian’s shrimp and crispy polenta. Enjoy! And when you make it- invite me over!

Brian’s Shrimp and Crispy Polenta in cream sauce (serves 4)

1 tube of polenta (usually found in the produce or dairy section of your grocery store)
1 T. of Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning (we use this a lot. You can find it in most grocery stores).
1T. of Worcestershire sauce
Ground black pepper
1 pint of heavy cream
1 lb of medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied
Canola Oil
2 eggs
Fine plain bread crumbs (Brian adds a little seasoning- salt, pepper, Tony Chachere’s)
1  Green onion, diced

Pour oil in to a frying pan- you’ll need about ½ inch of oil in the pan. Place over medium high heat. 

Crack eggs into a bowl and beat until scrambled. Pour bread crumbs into 9x9 pan. Slice the polenta into 12- ¼ inch slices. Dip in the eggs and then lightly coat them in the bread crumbs. 

Place coated polenta into the frying pan and cook until golden brown. When done, remove the polenta and let them drain on a cookie rack or paper towel.  At this point, I put the crispy polenta in a toaster oven or 200 degree oven to keep them nice and toasty. 

In a cast iron skillet slowly bring the heavy cream, Tony’s, Worcestershire Sauce, and Black Pepper to a nice medium high heat (you do not want a boil as this will scald the cream and affect the flavor!).  Add your shrimp and cook until done (done is a figurative term when cooking Seafood…you don’t want rubber, then again, no one likes a raw shrimp, except for my cats).  Once the shrimp are done, reduce to a low simmer.  

Place the crispy polenta on a plate and cover with the sauce and shrimp. Sprinkle green onion on top.  Serve with a salad and/or green beans (or veggie of your choosing.)
Sit down and enjoy a restaurant quality meal in the comfort of your own home!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I loved our house... before I found Pinterest


 
We moved to South Louisiana a little more than two months ago. We were pretty quick to  unpack the boxes and get all of our stuff in their new places. As an Army brat, I was trained to unpack quickly. 3 days and the boxes were gone. For the most part, everything is where it should be. The house was exactly what we wanted it to be. It was the perfect size- not too small, not too big.  It has hardwood floors throughout, areal fire place and built in bookshelves. The kitchen is not great but definitely workable. It was our new home and I loved it. Then Pinterest entered my life. 

It started innocently enough with a text from a friend. She said that “every time I go on Pinterest I see things for weddings and think of you.” I never heard of Pinterest but if it had wedding stuff, I’m in! I waited a couple of days and then I started to see mentions of Pinterest on Facebook. It was starting to show up in all of my friends posts. I had to find out what it was. So, I sat down, googled it and found it. Here it was- the latest and greatest on the Interweb. And I needed an invitation. Great! So, like an unpopular little third grader, I asked Pinterest- “Please, can I come to your party?” And I waited. A whole week went by before I was accepted by my new friend Pinterest. 

The doors opened and there it was- everything I was interested in- clothes, interior decorating, food, photography! This was awesome! I was going to get the inside scoop on what all the cool kids were wearing, thinking, doing, and eating. And then it really sucked me in. Minutes turned into hours. Hours tuned into more hours. And what was becoming painfully clear to me was that I live in a pit and have done nothing to turn our little house into something that was Pinterest worthy.

I had not found a pallet, painted it white, affixed it to a wall, put cute little hooks on which to hang cute little rain coats of children that I don’t have. I have not bought a single mason jar, let alone add some chalkboard paint and write “flour”, “sugar” on them and turn my kitchen into a country shabby chic culinary center. I have not made chair cushions out of fabric remnants that I have picked up at a second hand store. I have not created an organization center out of old boxes, fabric and ribbon. I have not made a rug by tying cut up towels through the holes of one of those grippy grid things that you put on the back of a rug. Oh my God. What have I done? Or, more importantly, not done? 

A do-it yourself suitcase chair. Really? I want one.
On Pinterest I have found no less than 10 different ways that I HAVE to decorate and accessorize our office which currently consists of a computer table, file boxes, several crates of offices supplies and artifacts from old jobs. We have come up with a very sensible and sound plan to slowly purchase the desk and office furniture we like at Office Depot. I also had plans to buy a rug and maybe (with our awesome landlord’s approval) paint the walls. But now, thanks to Pinterest, I know that our plan is completely wrong. We need to go antiquing and find an old door. Then we need to strip it, sand it, stain it, affix it to some legs. Then I need to make the afore mentioned organization center. And I need to hang a crystal chandelier (that seems to be the thing to do in unexpected places. I’m thinking we need one in the bathroom as well.). And then I see the next Pin and realize that the office I just saw was completely wrong and I need to go modern. Or country. Or Urban. Or Steam Punk. (What the hell is that, anyway?)

And then the reality sets in.  I’m not going to do any of that stuff. Why? Because I’m a consumer. I am not a do-it-yourself kind of girl. We’ll end up with an outstanding office that is filled with fabulous furniture and cute bulletin boards and a rug that really pulls the room together.  And we’ll buy it all. We’ll save up and we’ll buy it. It’s easier. And quicker- if I was actually making all this stuff, we wouldn’t ever get the office we want. I just don’t have the time to make all that stuff. I’ve got recipes and shoes to look at on Pinterest.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Why does the ring mean so much?



We did things a little backwards when it came to our engagement.   Brian was already in South Louisiana working at his awesome new job. I was still in Kansas wrapping things up. It was during a conversation with my mom when I realized what our dream of a Spring wedding meant. We needed to look at dresses- now. We needed to book the church, reception venue, flowers, photographer- NOW! So 20 minutes later, after consulting the church’s calendar, I called Brian and said “How does this day sound?” It was that easy. We picked the date we would become husband and wife.  And within the next week, my mom and I planned a wedding. I must say- it was pretty impressive. But one thing was missing- we weren’t “officially” engaged. 

A couple of weeks later, Brian surprised me and flew up to Kansas and proposed. Just the two of us. He got down on bended knee and made it official. I love him. He loves me. We are going to spend the rest of our lives together.  He hadn’t had time to get the ring. But it didn’t matter to me. But it mattered to others.

When we did the obligatory relationship status change on Facebook, it started. “What does the ring look like?” “Show us the bling.” “Where’s the ring?” To me it did not matter. I knew why there wasn’t a ring. Our timeline was truncated. He wanted to do it right and get the right ring. And bless his little financially responsible heart- he wanted to pay for it outright. He wanted the ring to be his to give, not Visa or MasterCard’s. That is just another reason why I love him. He’s smart. 

But that didn’t stop the questions from friends and family. They meant well. They wanted to see the ring. They wanted me to have everything they thought I deserved. But the questions started to get a little old. And they started to wear on Brian. The lack of a ring became such a “Thing.”  I knew a ring was coming. There was no doubt.  But I would be lying to say that all the well-meaning inquiries weren’t making me a bit anxious. 

After a trip to Kansas for Christmas, which included several “where is the ring already,” we were home in Louisiana for New Year’s Eve. We’d had an early NYE celebration with friends and we were back at home in our pajamas, sitting on the couch, trying to stay awake and watching Anderson Cooper. 11:59! Yay- almost time for bed! Then it happened. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him- again. And this time there was a ring. And it was gorgeous. 

It feels a little foreign on my finger. But I do love it and I smile a little every time I look at it. It feels important.  But why? He doesn’t wear one and no one doubts my love and commitment for him. But somehow I think people doubted his love and commitment for me. Putting a ring on my finger didn’t change the fact that we are getting married but somehow it took a ring for people to believe it.  Forget the fact that I had already ordered the dress, we’d met with the Priest, and I’d made my bridesmaids buy dresses that I’m just sure they’ll be able to wear again (seriously, they’re cute!) 

My ring.
Why does the ring mean so much? I guess people need to see physical proof of that most important commitment. But it’s not like the tradition of giving an engagement ring has been around forever.  In fact it didn’t really become widespread in the US until the 30’s and 40’s when, surprise surprise, a diamond company looking increase sales began to advertise the importance of the diamond engagement ring and how if he really loves you , he’ll put a big rock on your finger. 

I didn’t need a ring to know that Brian really loves me and that I’m going to spend the rest of my life with him.  But the ring sure is pretty and I’m keeping it. Because it means so much.