Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Several weeks ago we went to Memphis for our friends,' Emily & Joel, awesome wedding. Ben, despite, having lived in Germany for a summer and traveled Europe extensively has only been west of the Mississippi River once. I have just never been to Memphis.

We left Saturday morning from Atlanta, driving through 4 different states arriving just in time for Barbecue. We went to Rendezvous which is by far the BEST barbecue I have eaten. And just in case you are such a fool as I, do not ask for unsweet tea. They don't have it and I don't think they liked being asked. :) But it is a delicious dry rub and I highly recommend the place. Even, I, pseudo vegetarian, ordered ribs and licked my fingers.

We walked down Beal street and Ben sang, "Walking in Memphis" unabashedly on repeat for about an hour. Okay, we both sang it. :) We walked along the Mighty Mississip and then, just to say we did, we drove over to Arkansas to complete our five states in one day travel spectacular.

We went to Emily & Joel's wedding at the Memphis Zoo that night which was truly fabulous. I'll have to do a post soon on the homemade decorations which I plan on recreating and decorating our apartment with. (It will go with our 'stick art.')

The next morning we drove to Shiloh, Tennessee. For those of you who aren't married to a Civil War buff, the Battle at Shiloh was the deadliest to date in the Civil War. There is a national park in Shiloh commemorating the battle and we spent probably four hours retracing steps of the confederate and union troops. Mind you, this is after we had already listened to 6 hours or so of a lecture series in the car from iTunes U from a Yale professor. He made me wish I were still taking college courses so now I listen to him, Professor Blight, on my commute to work.

Things have been pretty busy around here. I don't know if I am doing something wrong or if this is just the way life is or just the way life is in your mid 20's without children living in a big city. I kind of just feel succumbed to this life, someone else's plan for my life. Hmmm. More on this later, or hopefully sooner. :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hello world

Where the heck have I been? Well, in Atlanta for starters since last month was NO TRAVEL month. What have I been doing? I'll give you the rundown in the following photos. Also, this blog is a good commentary on my good intentions in general. They don't always pan out the way I plan or desire. So goes round three of my good intentions of blogging weekly. A renewed commitment...once again :)

Hives...I went to the ER (after going to a full day of work). I looked SO bad that the woman behind the counter at the ER STOOD UP when I came in and called the charge nurse. I didn't even get to sign in. This picture shows me 95% BETTER! I looked like one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's vampires.

Minus the scary teeth

Then, Benny and I and Ben's sister--my sister :) went camping in N.C.

We played a ton of Settlers of Catan (love it...though I didn't...and hardly ever...win)

And ate lots of delicious camp fire food (s'mores and silver turtles!)

And even went to the Biltmore courtesy of my sweet Grandma.

And then visited Ben's grandmother's childhood home in Forest City, NC.

And then we exploited staying in Atlanta by:

Going to Chateau Elan with my parents and sister, Chelsea

Our wine guide even shared with us how to make your own port...delicious!

Going to a Drive-In movie:

Going to the local high school football game a couple of blocks from our apartment (for their homecoming) with an awesome view of the midtown skyline.

And going to a Brave's playoff game

I'll update soon about October: no running month.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

World's Best Brownies

I am NEVER making brownies from a box again.

This shows you how far I have come. When I was in college I thought the quality of your brownies was determined by how much fudge came in the box you bought at Publix. I didn't even know you could make brownies not from a box (isn't that absurd!) And lest you deduce anything about my mom or her cooking/baking from this travesty...don't. She was always inviting me into the kitchen but I was never interested in anything kitchen-related until I was a senior in college.

The learning curve has been steep.

Anyways, my mom has this AWESOME brownie recipe that I almost don't want to post. I sort of want to keep it for myself so that I when I bring brownies to your house you will ooh and ahh and invite me back just so I will bring more brownies. And then you will think that I am a FANTASTIC baker and you will tell everyone you know how fabulous I am...yada yada yada. All of those reasons really stink so I am going to post the recipe with altruistic goals. It is easy and SO delicious and you can then bake brownies and bring them to your friends and they will think you are fabulous :)

Chunky Chocolate Brownies (Serves 9)

2 T water
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c butter
1 (11.5 oz) package semisweet chocolate chunks (I use chocolate chips)
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 c all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine first 3 ingredients in a 3 1/2 qt saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1 c chocolate chunks until smooth. Let cool 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, stirring just until blended. Stir in vanilla. Stir in remaining chocolate chunks. Combine flour and salt in separate bowl then stir into chocolate mixture. Spread into a lightly greased 9 inch square pan. Bake at 325 for 23-28 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar (optional) and cut into squares. May freeze baked brownies.

The hardest part is determining when they are finished. Because of the chocolate chunks, if you do the tooth pick test, the tooth pick always comes back gooey. I tend to bake the brownies closer to the 28 minute side. I make sure that they are starting to pull away from the edge of the pan before I take them out. The good news is that if you under cook them (which I occasionally do) that brownie goo tastes fantastic with vanilla ice cream and if you put the ice cream on top, your guests don't even have to know :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No Cable Month Analysis

August 31st: 30 days without cable (We cheated one night and watched an hour of the US Open)

Going without cable might have been the best decision we have made all year. We have read books, talked over dinner, played cribbage, gone to bed early, stayed up late, watched some movies, gone on bike rides through the park, baked more goodies, so many things that we couldn't seem to find time for before.

This is a proper Sunday lunch after church. A novelty pre-No Cable Month.

And we're actually not going to continue it (Ben's watching the US Open right now). We're not going to promise to raise our children without TV's. We're not going to make you feel guilty if you watch 4 hours of TV per day. But we learned some really valuable information: like what a hold TV really did have on our lives, how it made me cranky when I felt guilty about it, how it made me believe that reading a book after work would make me feel exhausted...which as it turns out isn't true, that spending time together watching TV together still leaves me feeling like we haven't seen each other all week. So I know we will be watching a lot less TV from now on and we are both really excited :)

And now for this month's new subtraction: NO TRAVEL MONTH. Thank God...Really.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

And one more thing...

And one more thing I love about Benny...he sacrifices...whole heartedly. We have been lamenting all summer that we haven't grilled out as much as we would have liked. So Wednesday night Benny planned dinner and planned to grill. I knew that as he drove to our fabulous farmers market he would be salivating the whole way there thinking about the giant beef selection.

I arrived at home in the evening before he did. I open the fridge expecting to see a 20 ounce steak for Benny (probably a ribeye) and 6 ounce NY strip for me. However, there was no beef to be found--not even any MEAT. There was TOFU in the fridge. Yes, Benny, the man who LOVES a good steak and loves a good grilled steak even more had purchased and marinated and researched grilling tofu...all for me :)

And lest you scoff at the idea...it was delicious and even Benny really loved it! (And we both really loved the price)

He marinated the tofu in a little red wine vinegar, soy sauce, a dash of fish sauce, and honey. He served it with grilled corn on the cob and grilled Anaheim peppers with blue cheese crumbles. Yum!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Two days ago (a little late on my blogging) was our two year wedding anniversary! This November will be 7 years of dating. Whew! I can't even remember being an adult without Benny and I guess I wasn't...we met my freshmen year of college when I was a lowly 18.

We both always say that marriage is both the best and the hardest thing that we have ever done. And it's really true.

And I am so thankful for him for SO many reasons. Here are just a few:

He is a GREAT cook (much better than I am)

When I have to do laundry downstairs, he carries the heavy hamper down and back up.

He makes me adventurous (makes me try new things like Greek beer)

He goes to bed with me at 9:30.

He's brave (drinks out of water fountains in foreign countries)

He watches Enchanted, Jaws, Shakespeare in Love, and Elf with me over and over :)

He trained for (and ran) a half marathon with me last year even though he HATES running. And he had to cheer me on!

He makes the bed when I forget.

He's romantic.

He's really good with kids.

He wore my light weight pink robe all winter so I could wear his warm winter robe.

He makes really good coffee (and makes it for me every morning)

He's not afraid to act like a kid :)

He really loves me.

He's my best friend.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 1st: No Cable Month

Here are my upcoming blog posts: "Day of the Jobs," "Sleeping on the family room floor because it's 80 degrees in here," "Homemade German meal," and "Brand new bike." But first, because it is August 1st today, is "August 1st: No Cable Month." This concept has three real inspirations.

1) The store where I bought my new bike today has a postcard that quotes Ghandi saying, "The goal of life is not to increase its speed."

2) My friend Amanda and I were leafing through a book at Anthropolgie (since I can only leaf through books there and not try on clothes...$$$) about one woman's year long pursuit of happiness. Each month she had a new endeavor: exercise, friendship, etc. But it all sounded like a lot of work: a more fulfilling life via addition versus subtraction.

3) One of my favorite blogs, of which I made reference to recently, smallnotebook, discusses how she has a "No spend month" once yearly where she and her family remarkably cut down on their expenses for one month a year.

Well, Ben is back from Germany and we are both dreamy over the European way of life: biking for transportation, sitting down to dinner at a table every night and not at the couch where you watch Seinfeld with your spouse but don't really talk, rushing from church to the Farmers market to vacuuming the apartment, to weeding through the files for outdated documents...etc. What happened to cooking and eating a breakfast together, riding our bikes to church, coming home for lunch and reading a good book, to taking a 20 minutes nap (I know...we don't have children yet). I spend all week long exhausted, waiting for the weekend which usually wears me out. How did this happen? How did I get so busy? How did I get so busy with stuff I don't even care about? Like TV.

Which brings us to No Cable Month. This is what a typical Wednesday looks like for me: wake up at 6:45, shower, make coffee, make lunch for Benny and me (while I listen to the morning news show), make breakfast, leave the house at 7:45 and eat my breakfast in the car on my 1 hour commute to work, start work at 9:00, lunch break 1:30, end work at 5:00 (or later), drive one hour home, stop by grocery store for something I inevitably forgot on Sunday, get home around 7:00, promise myself I am not going to watch TV, kiss Benny, make dinner (or kiss Benny an extra time or two because he made dinner), turn on Seinfeld, eat at the couch, turn to Law & Order: SVU at 8:00, watch one episode (maybe two if I had a hard day at work), get into bed at 10:00, feel guilty for 15 minutes that I didn't read or pray or go for a walk or pet my cat but instead watched the TV bleary eyed for 2 (ALMOST 3 HOURS), go to sleep and vow never to do that again. Thursday: repeat.

TV isn't the problem. I am the problem...I keep choosing things I don't want to do over the things I do want to do and then feel guilty about it later. There are so many books I want to read, I have Rosetta Stone Spanish I want to use, kitty wants to be petted, I (now) want to ride my new bike. I so often don't do what I think would be most fulfilling and rewarding because it's new or different or seems like more effort (or just some effort).

So I don't want to watch TV in the evenings but I watch TV every evening. And I don't want to drive everywhere but I never ride my bike or walk. I don't want to travel every weekend but we are never home. It's amazing how easily I forfeit the way of life I dream about for a lesser version so I don't have to be creative or blow up the bike tires or suggest staying home for the weekend. Well, yesterday, Benny and I decided to actually do all these things...or rather NOT do them. Slow down. Read a book. Walk to church. Eat at the table and laugh with my spouse instead of at Jerry Seinfeld. So we made some commitments. August: NO CABLE (sorry brothers). Coming up: NO SPEND, NO TRAVEL, DO IT YOURSELF, etc.

I also just realized how challenging this was going to be this month when today I remembered...it's shark week!

Photo credit

So stay tuned and pray for us. We are treading on unknown territory (life without TV, and later...a car?)