Category Archives: Love

Wise Words From Myself, Six Years Ago

Last January, my sister (who is far more organized and on top of things than I am) volunteered her time on a Saturday to be my moral support while I worked on cleaning out our office.  By moral support, I mean that she helped me from getting too distracted, or rewarding thirty minutes of work with a three-hour “break”.  And thanks to her guidance, one year ago, we had a functioning office where I could sit by the window and read, work on the computer, or clear out enough space on the desk to do some painting.

One year later, the reading chair has a two-foot-tall pile of books and random stuff on it, I choose to use my laptop in the living room, and while there technically is room to paint, the overall clutter and dust (oh, the dust…) makes it a less-than-inspiring space.  About the dust- the office unfortunately also serves as the home for the litter boxes (joys of apartment living).  Thus this room accumulates dust about 20 times faster than the rest of our apartment.  I try to keep up with it, but once the chair got reclaimed as a clutter receptacle in the fall, there was less motivation to enter that room for any reason other than cleaning the litter boxes.

I really didn’t intend to tell you all that. This is not supposed to be about my disorganization and questionable cleaning skills.

What it is supposed to be about is the fact that I do enjoy office cleaning and organization because of all the fabulous things I find. Today I decided to make some effort to get the room back in order.  So far, I have found the following:

  • a lock that Nick gave me two years ago so that I could safely stow my laptop while at school.  Only this past fall when I started teaching did I really feel a need for it, and of course at that point I could not find it.  And somehow between now and then I created a false memory that Nick asked if he could use it for something. (I have no idea what. Sorry, Nick.)
  • an X-acto knife that has been missing for several months but I gave up on because I created a false memory that Nick broke it and promised to buy me another one.  (Seriously, Nick, I’m really sorry. Don’t worry, I didn’t hold it against you.)
  • a book that one of my favorite friends gave me for Christmas several years ago. This wasn’t necessarily lost, but anytime something reminds me of Katie it makes me happy.
  • a card that another friend/former coworker gave me when we were both leaving our jobs.
  • a journal with two entries, presumably when I was wanting to start a new journal, perhaps one that focused more on personal growth instead of boyfriends. (Note- I have since returned to writing in the latter, about 4-5 times a year.  I’m happy to say there is a good balance between talk about personal growth and husband, but not boyfriends.)

The first entry is from November 2006, just after I graduated with my masters degree in psychology, got my nose pierced, and started what would be almost nine months of temping in the legal department of a national food distributor while searching for a “real job”.  The nose piercing lasted just about as long as the temp job- on the first day of orientation for my real job, I was quickly informed that the piercing had to go.

Anyway, this first entry is a list of goals, not unsimilar to about 100 lists I have made since then:

11/21/06   Things I Want to Work Toward:

  • Painting on a regular basis (That coming year I definitely did. Since then… well, see above about the office.)
  • Writing more often (Oh honey, I don’t think you meant scholarly papers, but yeah… you’re writing more often, trust me.)
  • Reviewing Spanish (Does our honeymoon in Mexico count?)
  • Finally reading the wine textbook I have (That hasn’t happened. I think it’s in a box in the basement. Also, you’ll be shocked to know that your wine consumption has decreased greatly.)
  • Reading more. (Not always, but probably averaging more books/year now.)
  • Taking care of myself: less time at the computer, more time outdoors or exercising; cooking more and eating less pre-prepared foods (Let’s start with the good news: cooking more and eating better? Yes, absolutely. Unless you’re talking about during finals. The computer vs. outdoors and exercise thing is still a constant challenge.)
  • Starting to review for the GRE’s in case I want to take them next year (Well, you don’t take them until 2009, but I can tell you that you rocked them.)
  • Continue expanding my social circle and maintain the positive friendships I have right now (Some of the friends are the same, some that seemed positive at the time really were not. And you’ve accumulated some amazing newer friends since then, too.)

The second, and final entry:

2/7/07

Enjoy right now. Enjoy having a job you don’t care about because it means you’re not tied down. You can take a day off in the middle of the week and sleep in, have a late lunch with a best friend and a bottle of wine.

(Yeah, that probably was not the best idea.)

Enjoy not feeling pressured to find someone to date and being content to be at home on a Saturday night. Enjoy knowing what’s ahead of you: A great job or an experience at another school;

(Done and done.)

A man (or a woman) who makes you forget the one who got away;

(Yes. Well, the man part. The woman part never happened, but nice to know I was open to possibilities.)

Fantastic trips and adventures that you can only imagine right now.

(Some, but still imagining others.)

Inevitably, there will be a time 5, 10, 20 years from now that you miss where you are in this moment. So enjoy it. Embrace the challenge (ok, fear) of barely living paycheck to paycheck. Embrace not having anyone else to worry about and getting to do exactly what you want to do. For the first time you’re checking off the things on your to-do list. And constantly finding new things to add.

It concludes with some cheesiness marveling about how it had been four years since I turned 21 and how time moves so quickly. Oh, 25-year-old Sarah, you have no clue. But despite that, you had some admirable ideas and aspirations. It’s good to see I haven’t let you down.

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Filed under Family, Life, Love, My Crazy Mind, Writing

Nick and Sarah’s (Almost) Conflict-Free Lasagna

(Or, A Very Belated Christmas Recap, Part 2)

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Nick and I both like to cook, but we don’t cook together. Generally our worldviews on food (foodviews?) are pretty different. Remember the Chicken Maryland argument of 2009?

Sure, sometimes we’ve divvied up a meal and each worked independently on separate dishes. And we have collaborated on pizzas but that usually involves a lot of compromise and more inner turmoil on my part than you would ever imagine. I just go to my happy place and smile and nod while Nick applies the cheese in a way that goes against all my culinary and aesthetic sensibilities. (And to be fair, it turns out great.)

Somehow, however, we can make a great lasagna together. And by together I mean absolute 50/50 effort, putting things into the same pan, and having to coordinate with each other.

We did this for Christmas dinner to take over to my parents. There was a moment when Nick got impatient with my meticulous layering on the spinach, one leaf at a time. But instead of making an issue of it, he just suggested that he work on the spinach and redirected me to preparing the next noodle layer. His impatience did get the best of him later on when he grabbed a spoon from me and dumped out the rest of the sauce that I was carefully pouring out. I resisted throwing a handful of shredded mozzarella at him and simply explained I had been trying to reserve some sauce for another layer, but no problem, we’ll improvise!

So we rode out those momentary glitches. In the end we still liked each other and we produced a beautiful lasagna for dinner.

It was a Christmas miracle.

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I was too excited about the lasagna to remember to take pictures until we had devoured the majority of it. For those of you who feel cheated and are terribly disappointed to not see the lasagna in its entirety, this is a different, but similar-looking and equally delicious, Nick and Sarah lasagna:

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Back when I started writing this right after Christmas, I had planned on including the recipe. Now… I don’t remember the recipe, since we kinda made it up.  I did not eat a lot of lasagna growing up, but I know a lot of people who are very picky about lasagna. Typically, the criterion for these individuals seems to be whether the lasagna was prepared by their mother, and if it was not, it’s no good.  I’d love to hear what others think makes or breaks a lasagna, but in my limited experience, it seems like if you have decent, fresh ingredients, it’s pretty hard to mess up.  We used Giada’s recipe in Everyday Italian as a guide, if you happen to be looking for a recipe.

Oh, I made an antipasti* platter for Christmas, too.  And since it looked pretty, I had to share it. Best appetizer ever- no cooking and the prep is limited to finding some yummy things at Wegman’s olive bar (which you might remember that I love), cutting up some cheeses and veggies, rolling up some meats, and making it look all fancy.

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*Okay, it is antipasti, antipasto, or antipasta? I came across all three when I was looking for ideas. Can someone who is familiar with the Italian language and/or cuisine explain this to me?

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Filed under Cooking, Family, Love

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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Filed under Animals, Life, Love

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: 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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Random Moments of Happiness: Day 0

Last November I took part in National Blog Posting Month (aka NaBloPoMo), where the challenge was to post an entry every day for a month. And I actually followed through with the whole thing.  I haven’t heard much about NaBloPoMo this year, but I like the idea of recommitting myself to blogging more regularly. At the same time, I have two major writing projects that I am aiming to complete by the end of the semester (which is a frighteningly close six or so weeks away) so I am hesitant to add something else onto my plate that might take away from time put towards more important writing. (By important, I mean that this blog sadly is not going to get me any closer to getting my PhD.)  And considering the existing levels of distractibility and procrastination I’m dealing with, I don’t think my advisor is going to consider, “But I had to work on my daily post for my blog last night,” as an acceptable excuse.

At the same time, I have to maintain things outside of school that keep me happy and fulfilled. Lucky for me, I have an advisor who understands this, too!

My compromise with myself was to come up with some sort of challenge that requires daily postings, but does not demand a lot of time. So each day in November, fitting somewhat with it being the month of Thanksgiving, I am going to post something from that day that made me happy. It might be a photograph or just few sentences. Or maybe I’ll feel like taking the time to go into greater detail. The best part: at the end of the month, I will have at least 30 things to reflect on that make me happy.

To give myself a head start, here is today’s random moment of happiness:

 

Finding a container of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream in the freezer. Not because it’s my favorite ice cream. I certainly won’t turn it down, but it doesn’t have enough chocolate and/or crunchy things to be in the running for my number one choice.

The reason Cherry Garcia makes me smile: it reminds me of the first night Nick cooked dinner for me. He showed up with two bags from Whole Foods to prepare a multi-course meal (with enough food to feed at least four people, if not more). I cannot recall what the main course was, but I remember dinner beginning with amazing bread (and cheese, fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar) and ending with Cherry Garcia.

 

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Filed under Food I Didn't Cook, Life, Love

My Cat is on Amazon.com

No, we did not decide to auction off Bailey to the highest bidder.

Although I suspect he would go for thousands of dollars.  Who wouldn’t want a cranky eight-year-old Maine Coon mix with a love of 4am feedings and a need for tranquilizers before vet visits?

You can, however, now purchase your very own Matilda.  Matilda and 12 others, that is.

Nick’s album, matilda and 12 others is now available for download at Amazon.com as well as iTunes. You can also listen to this debut from Bertling Noise Laboratories in its entirety on bandcamp.  If you like it, you can also purchase it directly from bandcamp for $7 (or more, if you like).

As I said in my last round of shameless spouse promotion, I’m not someone who is going to force feed my husband’s music (or any music I love) down someone else’s throat (or in someone’s else’s ear, perhaps).  But I will say this.  I have been listening to this album regularly for about a month now.  And there are a lot of times when I’m driving in my car, and thirty seconds into the first track I’ve already forgotten that what I’m hearing came from the man who lives with me. And every time, I am blown away by the fact that every sound you hear was produced by one man.

If I had to describe the style, I would start by saying this: Nick is a child of the 80’s who grew up on his parent’s music.  And while the songs on his album are pretty eclectic, there is still this sense of cohesion, because it’s Nick’s take on three decade’s worth of musical influences.

It’s an album for people who enjoy – really enjoy – good music, and if you fall into that category, I hope you’ll take a moment to check this out.  Because good music deserves to be heard.  And people who love good music deserve a chance to hear it.

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Filed under Entertainment and Pop Culture, Life, Love