Monthly Archives: November 2012

Random Moments of Happiness: Days 24-25

Day 24: Online DIY Crafts. What is it about this time of year that suddenly makes me want to make crafts? Eleven months out of the year, I have nothing more than the occasional fleeting thought about wanting to DIY anything. But as Christmas creeps near, suddenly I find myself stalking blogs and Pinterest boards and having an urge to raid the aisles of Michael’s or Hobby Lobby for hot glue guns, decorative paper, hole punches, and Xacto knives.  Last year, I made about seventy (give or take) gift bows out of magazine pages.

Most recently I’ve been lurking about How About Orange.  Who knew you could make tiny boxes out of paint swatches, or that paper snowflakes could look this good? And there might just be some other ones that I’m not going to share right now in case I want to use them for Christmas presents….

Day 25: Awkward Family Christmas Photo Shoot, 2012.Yep, it happened. We still have to design the cards and get them printed, but the hard (and fun) part is over.  I still can’t tell you very much. But I will tell you that my sister (our photographer) at one point said, “This just seems wrong.” And at another point, “I’m uncomfortable!”  Mission accomplished. Don’t worry, we compensated Emily for her time and discomfort. With chili.

 

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Random Moments of Happiness: Day 23

Earlier this month I talked about how happy it made me to go through our wedding photos. They led to another happy moment when the final products were delivered. We had purchased some Groupons (or one of the 20 other similar things) for canvas prints. I wasn’t sure how I felt about having a photograph of us blown up on a giant 18×24 canvas. I know that isn’t that big. But a giant canvas with my likeness just seems a little egotistical. It’s not like I’m Victor Newman.

Nick, however, made a valid point that we both looked pretty great that day. If there was ever a time to print a giant photograph of ourselves, this was the time to do it. It also helped that our photographer had some beautiful shots with us in them, but also plenty of landscape surrounding us. So it’s not like, BAM- Wow, check out Sarah’s nostrils or Huh, Nick really does have flawless skin. (He seriously does. I’m very jealous.)

The canvases ended up working out pretty well. And you can barely see my nostrils.

I’m even happier with the photo album we got. This was my first time using a website to make a photo album, and I was really impressed with the amount of control we had over the formatting and design, as well as the quality of the book and prints.

It looks amazing. I don’t even care if you can see my nostrils in any of the pictures. The downside- I now want to make photo albums of everything. Who wants a coffee table book of the kitties for Christmas?

(The correct response is, “I do! I do!”)

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Random Moments of Happiness: Day 22

Thanksgiving… Nick and I realized this was our fifth Thanksgiving together. Sixth, if you count the first year where he cooked dinner for me on Thanksgiving Eve. It always amazes me how when I think about things like that, I cannot believe we have been together that long, but at the same time cannot imagine my life without him.

Sorry for that little sappy tangent, but it has a purpose, I promise.

At some point in my mid-twenties, I signed up for eHarmony. Do you remember when dating sites were considered somewhat taboo? I remember being super-embarrassed to tell people I had met someone on Match.com. But now that I think about it, several of my good friends met their spouses through various sources on the internet. Nick actually happens to be the only boyfriend I didn’t meet online, although Myspace did facilitate a lot of our early communications.

Okay, now that tangent had less of a purpose.

I think what I was getting at was that on eHarmony, one of the recommended prompts for early communications with potential soul mates was something along the lines of “What would your ideal holidays with your partner be like?” I cannot remember what my exact response was at that time, but I suspect it would have said something about wanting a nice balance between quiet time with just the two of us and time spent with our immediate families. Nothing rushed or requiring too much running around.

The awesome thing is that Nick and I have pretty much achieved that. Our Thanksgiving morning consisted of Nick’s finest breakfast sandwiches to date (did you know they make giant sandwich-sized English muffins, now??), the soundtrack to a Muppet movie (Nick will have to tell you which one), and lazily hanging around reading (yes, on Thanksgiving, I was reading about Christmas cookie recipes in the December issue of Bon Appetit).

Then we drove over the Bay Bridge and through the woods (kind of) to Nick’s sister’s house for a low-key, but delicious Thanksgiving dinner with his family. I think I mentioned this last year, but I am so appreciative that we both have families who are very flexible and understanding about us having two families to spend holidays with. There are no demands about having to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day, or requests for us to eat two Thanksgiving dinners in one day. So, to all of our family members, thank you for not being crazy. At least in this regard.

Also, I am thankful for having in-laws who do not judge me for changing into yoga pants after dessert. (Not so much because I needed an elastic waistband… I was just tired of wearing a skirt and having to sit like a lady.)

Besides the good company and food, the other Thanksgiving perk was getting to see Bailey and Matilda’s cousins, Tigger and Katie. Tigger is like a short-haired, orange B-cat. This was our first time meeting Katie, and while she is still warming up to people, I did get a few head hugs.  Also, both of them have really cute white feet, which is one thing that B and Matilda are lacking.

The formula to a good Thanksgiving: family, food, and felines.

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Random Moments of Happiness: Day 21 (Thanksgiving Foods)

I have not been doing much cooking lately, especially not cooking that involves trying out new recipes. I blame a lack of time, energy, and motivation. I miss it though. I miss shopping for strange ingredients, chopping up veggies, and experiencing different smells as I’m sauteing a new combination of flavors.  I miss taking pictures and sharing them with you guys.

So having a day on Wednesday to devote to preparing some interesting sides for the next day’s Thanksgiving dinner was pretty exciting.

Even more exciting- going to Wegman’s at 9:30 am on Thanksgiving Eve, prepared for the worst, and finding the parking lot as empty as I have ever seen it.

My sister- and brother-in-law pretty much gave me full artistic freedom when it came to whatever I chose to contribute to dinner this year. I didn’t even give myself the option of looking through three or four years of old Thanksgiving features from Bon Appetit (and yes, I do have them all saved in a binder); I limited myself to the recipes in this year’s issue. There were plenty to choose from and I knew throwing more possibilities out there would just make it that much harder to decide. Do-ahead, transportable items were essential, since they’d be traveling with us across the Bay Bridge the following day.

The winners: Mashed Root Vegetables with Bacon Vinaigrette and Italian Mother-in-Law Dressing

Mashed Root Vegetables with Bacon Vinaigrette. I mean, come on- bacon vinaigrette?? How do you say no to that? I was also excited to follow their suggested blend of parsnips, celery root, and kohlrabi. I’ve only started eating parsnips in the last few years and I’m still warming up to them, and I have never prepared (or eaten, actually) celery root and kohlrabi.

Prepping the kohlrabi and celery root takes a little work.  In the end, they should look like this…

I followed the recipe directly, so just check out the link above. One thing I will suggest. When you are simmering the mustard seeds in the cider vinegar, resist the urge to lean over the pot to sniff the aroma. Ouch.

Italian Mother-in-Law Dressing. This was another one that had ingredients I just could not resist. Swiss chard, golden raisins, olives… with scents of oregano and rosemary. It’s also supposed to have pine nuts, but I skipped those due to nut allergies in the family. I can’t imagine that the addition of pine nuts would do anything but make this more delicious than it already is.

My suggestion for this recipe- when you purchase delicious bread, be sure to keep it out of reach from little cats. Good thing I bought two loaves….

BREAD?!!

A full day of chopping, simmering, and sauteing…. by the evening, my feet and back were achy but I was satisfied that my culinary mojo was still intact.

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Random Moments of Happiness: Days 17-20

Yikes- I’m falling behind!  Here we go…

Day 17: Ladiez Night. With a “z”. Cocktails and food, followed by a wine-infused viewing of Lincoln. On a semi-related note, baby Bota boxes comfortably fit in purses….

It looks just like its mommy!

Day 18: Sleeping in. With my husband.  Usually I’m wide-awake several hours before Nick and get fidgety hanging out in bed. But thanks to the previous night’s cocktails and wine, that was not a problem. I cannot remember the last time I slept until 11.

Typical morning scene at our place

Day 19: Catching up with my old roomie. For three years after college, I shared an apartment with a friend from school. There were a lot of margaritas and reality dating shows. Sadly with leading busy lives in different states has drastically reduced our contact with each other. This dinner date was a year in the making. Seriously. Finally we managed to set and stick to a date with neither of us needing to reschedule. It seemed fitting that it was a Monday, as much of our margarita drinking occurred on Mondays while watching Average Joe or Joe Millionaire. Of course, we were drinking red wine instead of margaritas. Because we’re older and more mature now. Or maybe it was just because we weren’t at a Mexican restaurant.

Day 20: The Voice results show. All my favorites – Melanie, Cody, Amanda, Terry- got through. And I was surprised that I liked Dez and Cassadee’s performances as much as I did. At this point, I don’t think I’d feel too disappointed about any of them winning, but I really want to see more of Cody. He’s just so much fun to watch.

 

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Random Moments of Happiness: Days 12-16

Day 12: Pushing through writer’s block. (For academic writing.) Even it was only for an hour.  Not exactly setting the world on fire, but compared to what I had been doing, it felt like progress to me.

Day 13: Pilates class. More specifically, being in Pilates class with my sister. Especially when she gets hiccups.

Day 14: Modern Family. Do I really need to say anything else?

Day 15: Fellow students. One of the things I sometimes miss about having an office job is seeing the same coworkers everyday (I worked with some pretty great people) and being able to stop in someone else’s office and chat for awhile. I remember missing that during my first semester, or maybe even first year, of graduate school. But this week in particular I’ve had a number of conversations with people that reminded me that I really have made some great friends here.

Day 16: My awesome mom who bought me this:

I’m not letting myself open it up until December 1st. The suspense is killing me.

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Random Moments of Happiness: Days 8-11

Day 8: An aggressively affectionate B Cat. It’s funny how cats go through different phases. I remember when Bailey was younger, I would watch him tear through the apartment (sometimes crashing into walls) and wonder if he would ever chill out and be a snuggly lapcat. Now, at least once a day, he plants himself on my lap, purrs loudly, and goes into an impressively intense kneading frenzy. This typically occurs when I’m trying to work on my laptop and he actually stretches himself out over my arms, essentially rendering me incapable of doing anything but providing a place for him to rest. But before I push him off, I usually just enjoy it for a few minutes, remembering how much I wanted a lovey kitty when he was younger and not so lovey. It also gives me hope that one day Matilda won’t be quite so offended by all the affection that Nick and I want to shower her with.

He wasn’t always so eager to snuggle…

Day 9: Nick’s Bedtime Music. When I was a kid, I loved having some sort of sound in the room when I was falling asleep. Apparently I went through a phase where I would request the Brandenburg concertos, although what I remember is that my favorite was the sound of the humidifier running. My parents actually made a tape recording of it for me so that my room didn’t turn into a rainforest. More recently, I’ve developed a love for ambient music when I’m trying to wind down at night. In particular, I love the recording that Nick made especially for me. Best way to drift off to sleep. Ever.

Day 10: Cooper’s wagging tail. I’m a cat person. There are dogs that I like, but I’d always choose a cat over a dog. There’s no way I could deal with everything a dog requires, at least not right now. So, in the same way that I’m content to be enjoying the babies that my friends are having, I like visiting with dogs who belong to other people. All the fun without any of the responsibility. Last weekend Em asked me to let out their dog, Cooper. (My nephdog? dogphew?) And I can see why people who have dogs like having dogs. Our cats will run to the door to greet us – sometimes – but most of the time I suspect they are just happy about the possibility of being fed. Dogs, on the other hand, genuinely seem happy to see you. Just for being you. When I came back upstairs I had to have Nick remind me of all the reasons we should not have a dog.

Photo courtesy of my sister, although she doesn’t know it yet.

Day 11: Organizing wedding photos. Finally. Nick and I both tend to be pretty relaxed about getting things done in a timely fashion. At times, it would be great if one of us was motivated to push the other one a bit more to get our taxes filed earlier or to clean the bathroom before it gets too nasty. But mostly, I think this is one of the reasons we get along so well. So yeah… one year, four months, and several days after our wedding, we finally got around to picking some photos to print. And really, the only thing driving us yesterday was the realization that the Groupons we bought for canvases and photo albums were about to expire. There is still more to do, but at least we’ll have an album and a couple pictures to hang soon. Plus, looking through all the photos of our friends and family from one of the best days of my life is a pretty great way to spend an afternoon.

Credit: Stevie T Photography

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