Saturday, December 31, 2011

So Close - 2011 in Review

I came so close to posting at least once at month on the blog this year.  I skipped November, and I don't feel like I've really been that busy.  But looking back on it, we got one friend moved into a new apartment, had a seventy-fifth birthday bash/family reunion for my grandmother, and did the whole Thanksgiving thing.  In hindsight, it was a pretty full month, but I do wish I'd done *something* on the blog that month.  It mars an otherwise good year.

We planted a garden and had some measure of success.  I'll definitely be doing it again next year, whether it's at The Research Assistant's home or mine.

The Research Assistant got married to a wonderful fella we all love.  We spent a good chunk of the year working on that one day, and I think we did almost a good a job with it as she did when she chose the Pharmacist.
(Photo credit to Arden Ward.)

The Quad went on the annual beach trip again this year, but we had this little addition to accompany us this time.  Spock went everywhere with us, even to the movies, and it was fun taking pictures of him along the way.  Definitely one of my favorite memories of the year.

This little guy had yet another eye surgery.  I was devastated that the trauma had happened again, but Dr. Korsch saved his eye again.  The whole team there, along with the folks at Dr. Anne England's office in Vestavia, have our unending thanks.  Other than that and the embarrassing bow he had to endure for the above picture, he had an okay year.

This thing continues to have a life kind of like Mary Poppins: practically perfect in every way.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  She is one of the few bright spots in my life that never dims, even when I'm in the blackest of moods.

There was a lot of love from family.  
(Bottom photo credit to Douglas Photography.)

Jay and I are grateful for all of our many blessings, and we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and happy new year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

The Research Assistant found this recipe in The Fresh Market's monthly booklet...thing.  We baked it for the first time when we went camping, and I've been hooked ever since.  We were pretty faithful to the original recipe the first go round, substituting an extra quarter cup of brown sugar for the honey because the Research Assistant hates honey.

I decided I wanted to make it again, this time with a little more fall inspired flavor.  And thus one of my favorite new eats was born.

There are no pictures to accompany this post.  Let's face it, my kitchen is a mess, and oatmeal isn't exactly photogenic in a dim kitchen at midnight.  But trust me, it's tasty!

Baked Oatmeal - inspired by The Fresh Market and reinvented by FloCo.

3 cups old fashioned oats
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used a 1/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend to cut down on the Engineer's and my sugar intake)
2 cups almond milk
1/4 cup coconut oil (or any other cooking oil/melted butter)
1/3 cup applesauce
1 egg, beaten
4 small to medium McIntosh or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into bite size pieces

Break egg into medium bowl and beat until a gorgeous yellow color.  Add coconut oil and mix well.  Then add almond milk, applesauce, and brown sugar.  Mix.

Combine the oats, spices, and baking powder in a large bowl.  Add the wet mixture to this, and pour into a greased two quart casserole dish.  Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for twenty minutes.  Remove, add apples, mix, and return to oven for another twenty minutes.  Nom.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I bothered tidying up our room today, even going so far as to make up the bed.  Naturally, this means Edie and Bailey decide to jump on the bed to root around for a bit.  I grabbed my camera and made them sit there for a few minutes so I could snap some new photos of them.  They were....slightly more cooperative than usual.  Which isn't saying much.  (Also, sorry the color is so warm in them.  That's actually what it looks like with the terrible lighting in our bedroom at night.)

"Um, uh-what are you doing?  No."

"I'm still not looking at you."

"Wait, what? Pictures?"

"I will look you.  I am sweet and lovely.  Even if my hair is jacked."

"Fine.  Is this what you want?  Here."

"I'm starting to get crazy.  Let's do this."
"I really don't want to do this anymore"

"Look how far I can tilt my head?"
"Help me, man."

"This is insufferable."

Friday, October 28, 2011


The following is a true account of how my morning went.

Jay wakes me up screaming; he's having a nightmare that a snake is crawling up his leg.  I reach over to grab his hand to give him comfort and plan to go back to sleep.

This is a mistake.

More screaming.  I probably should have told him I was reaching for his hand before doing so; he just assumed it was the snake from the dream.

By this point, getting back to sleep is out of the question, so I decide I'm going to do ten or fifteen minutes of yoga.  Get good and stretched out and all that jazz.

Edie likes this plan.  A little too much, in fact.  Any time my hands got within a foot of the ground, there was an assumption that, yes, I reallreallyreally wanted to pick her up rightthatverysecond.  So fling herself into my hands she does.  I put her back on the bed.  She leaps back to me, unstoppable.  At this point I decide to just let her help out and entertain me.  Until we get to upward facing dog, that is it.  I'm all the way in the floor, and she realizes she can put her paws on my chest and stick her face right up next to mine.  Like, thisclose, y'all.  Then the running in circles happy dance commences, and I know there's no way any kind of exercise is happening this morning.  She's just too dang crazy.

Meanwhile, on the bed, Bailey continues to sleep.  Peacefully.  While Edie is running in circles on the floor, I walk calmly over to my sleepy boy.  I have great plans to gently lift him from the bed and wake him from his slumber.  And then crazy dog jumps into my hands as I'm lifting Bailey, which scares the beejeezus out of him.  So now he's wide awake, too.

I know!  We'll go for an extra long walk all the way down to the mailboxes at our apartment complex.  That'll be fun and Jay can sleep for an extra few minutes.  Awesome.  Except for the part where our housemate's dog is utterly dejected to be left inside and starts mournfully howling when we step outside.  And the part where they stop every few seconds to sniff or urinate on something.  And the part where Bailey poops not once, not twice, but three times, and I do not have enough baggies to pick it all up at this point.  Sorry, neighbors.  I end dragging them back to apartment because the fifteen minute walk has just been TOO MUCH for either of them.

As we approach our sidewalk to get back to our building, a very nice young woman is walking her eighty pound dog.  Who sees my eight pound dog, tucks his tail, and then back away.  Edie low growls at him.  Neighbor dog backs away even further, obviously frightened.  His owner tries to tell him it's okay, and I have Edie a safe distance from him.  But he's immovable.  And scared.  Since he's paralyzed by fear, we have to carefully walk around Neighbor and Neighbor Dog.  Thankfully, neither Edie or Bailey took to their usual barkfests, but Edie just kept with the low growling.  She had that big dog right where she wanted him, and he knew who was boss.  Poor thing.

We go inside, and both dogs proceed to get as close to the housemate's bed as they can.  It's naptime again. I go back in the bedroom, wake Jay up, and we get ready for work.  Two pairs of big, sad eyes watch us leave (housemate's dog and Bailey; Edie is too busy refusing to look at us).

And that's pretty much how it goes.  Not exactly a typical morning, but it definitely wasn't too out of the ordinary.  Wake up in a weird manner?  Check.  Canine insanity?  Check.  This is my normal.

Crap phone pictures ahead...



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why I Married Him #2

Previously, on The Courtney Life...

He eats my food.  And seems to love it.  Even the weird stuff, like the Kashmiri Kohlrabi.  He loves the smell of fresh garlic when it sizzles in the pan.  He appreciates the cooking as well, which makes it all the better for me.

He has the best work ethic out of pretty much everyone I know.  I forget this because, at home, he's generally distracted by whatever video game or video is on the screen in front of him, and you have to work hard to get his attention.  But when he's assigned a project, be it at work or school, he's on top of it and works his tail off.  I think that's why they seem to like him so much at work.  He gets it done.

He will let me sleep while he goes to Gamestop to wait for a midnight release of a video game we both want.  And then let me play the game when he gets back with it.  This is what TRU LUV looks like in the modern age, folks.

Our necks fit perfectly together. When we hug, I can pretty much rest my chin on his shoulder and worm my neck around so it's right next to his.  We match.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

GGA 2011 and Noodles with Chicken and Chard

The Great Gardening Adventure of 2011 was a mixed bag.

I obviously have no idea how to take care of tomato plants.  They got HUGE and barely produced any tomatoes.  This problem will be googled at some point and remedied next year.  We spent part of Sunday afternoon ridding our little garden of the eight foot monsters.  They were completely out of control, and they're season was ending anyway.

My other big problem with gardening in Alabama is the heat.  Not what it does to the plants, but the fact that I don't want to go outside and tend to them.  Or even water them.  Or even look at them because that would mean I would be outside.  I've got to do better next year.

However, it wasn't a total failure.  We did manage to grow some lettuce, kale, spinach, and rainbow chard, and, since we cleaned up the garden this weekend, we've replanted these crops for the fall.  They were easy to grow, and it was easy to tell when they needed a little TLC.  (They just get droopy or yellow...who knew!?)

This is one batch of the rainbow chard that I harvested.  (ME.  Harvesting things.  I die.)

This is the awesome dish I used it in.  Whole wheat noodles, boiled in well salted water.  Chicken cooked in a little olive oil with onion, mushrooms, and plenty of fresh garlic.  I added the chard toward the end to wilt it.  Then I took that, tossed it with the noodles and a handful of feta cheese, and voila.  It was so good.

The Jamesaurus does not want to share.  (But he did.  As he always does.  So long as you catch him before he eats it all.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nutty. Buttery.


I made homemade almond butter.  Okay, really, my food processor made almond butter.  But it was my diabolical plan.  Now, I'm not normally an almond girl.  I think they're kind of dry and hard, and they just don't have the same swoon factor for me as my beloved cashews.  We rarely to never have them at the house, but thanks to a sale at Publix (plus a coupon!), we've had a nice bag of roasted almonds in the pantry for a couple of weeks now.  My House Elves had cleaned out the peanut butter (well, THIS House Elf polished off the last tablespoon at midnight, but I digress), and we needed more.  I looked at this languishing bag of almonds and knew it couldn't be THAT difficult to make my own almond butter.

And no, it wasn't.  I just dumped the bag of almonds into the food processor.  Then I ground them to bits.  (Pro-tip: this is REALLY noisy at first.  Like, hold your hands over your ears and turn the food processor on with your elbow kind of noisy.)  Then I added three heaping tablespoons of brown sugar, a little salt, and a little vegetable oil.  (And then a bit more vegetable oil.)  And it was magic.  I'm officially an almond butter convert, at least as long as I can make my own.

This is what it looks like schmeared all over a some bread.

I love the grainy texture!

Jay obviously hated it.  I scraped every last bit I could out of the bowl, and I'm trying to think of a way to fit my head into the oddly shaped food processor bowl.  Because it's just that good.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I made a quilt!

Why yes, I am that excited about it that I have to use an exclamation mark.  I've been collecting the fabric bits for months; most are from the fabric scrap bins at Hobby Lobby, though the back is a sheet I found on clearance at Target.  (Some of the fabric was even bought at my old Hobbster Lobbster in Tuscaloosa that was blown away in the April 27th tornado.  It's still so surreal.)  Anyway, I knew if I didn't post this now from Tabby the tablet, it wouldn't be done for months. Eeep!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Around and About

Hi there, internet?  You missed me?  No?  (I know, Heather, you're the only one who reads this.)  Just thought I'd check in with a few links to other things around the interwebs.

I know I've told you all to go check out Will's blog, before, but he's made it to the Big Leagues now.  He's been featured on for his feats, and you should all click over there RIGHT NOW.  Just don't read the comments.  The internet is a wonderful place for the most part, but some people think that the relative anonymity of the it gives them license to say whatever they want.  Jerks.

Rick Bragg has written a fantastic little piece for Southern Living about the aftermath of the April 27th tornado in Tuscaloosa.  To quote Legolas, for me, the grief is still too near.  Go check it out now as well.  One of my favorite gems is this little bit: "As Southerners, we know that a man with a chain saw is worth 10 with a clipboard, that there is no hurt in this world, even in the storm of the century, that cannot be comforted with a casserole, and that faith, in the hereafter or in neighbors who help you through the here and now, cannot be knocked down."

One of my favorite new blogs?  (Well, new to me, not to blogland, but I digress.)  The Fitnessista.  I just love Gina's voice and how real she seems.  And upbeat!  It also helps that her dog, Bella, reminds me so much of my niecepuppy, Bella.  I'm not sure if Gina's Bella is a Bichon like The Brother in Law's Bella, but man.  They seem like the same pup sometimes.

As for me, I've been busy.  The Research Assistant (and Best Friend since Preschool) is getting married in TWO WEEKS, so needless to say, there's been a lot going on this summer.  Our garden is a wee bit neglected, and I hope it isn't entirely lost.  We've been stripping wallpaper and priming walls over at the Research Assistant's house, and I've finally started watching True Blood.  (BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL.  sookeh.)  Bailey has had another run in with eye problems and had another corneal graft, but I can report he's healing nicely and looking like a champ.  A champ in need of a haircut, but still a champ.  We'll start moving The Auburn Fan into her new apartment this weekend and finish up a few days before the wedding.  It's been a crazy busy summer, but it'll be one for the books for sure. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Puzzle Pieces

My dear friend The Musical Man stopped in Birmingham for a visit this weekend. It's been a year since I've seen him; he had just started a new job around Christmas and wasn't able to come home to Alabama for the holidays. I don't remember not knowing The Musical Man, but I do know that I got to know him better in middle school and that he was permanently etched into my heart and my tribe at some point during our high school career. He's made me laugh and he's made me cry, but he's always been such a force of joy and light in my life. Things haven't always been easy for him, but he's made the best of everything and has such a great attitude about life. I wish I could be half as upbeat as he is. After college (with a double major in biochemistry and theater!), he moved to Boston to be with his love. (...who, by the way, we all love as well, and who really does have the best hair ever. But I digress.) I don't see him near as often as I'd like, and it is to my great shame that I haven't visited him in Boston. But being with him and having him around is as natural as breathing, and this can't be said for all old friends. Some disappear from your life, and when they reemerge, you can never quite figure out where they should go or how they fit into your life in the first place.

The Musical Man is one of the puzzle pieces of my life. He fits in perfectly and is quite necessary for completeness. And when he's not here, his absence is keenly felt. There is a hole there, a space, where nothing but he fits. I was so glad to see him this weekend, even if it was for only a few hours. We fall right back into place, and I love him all the more.

He's leaving for Scotland in two months; he'll be there for over a year studying in a theater program. I'm so stinkin' proud of him, and I beam when I think of all he's done, all he's doing, and all he has yet to do. He is truly exceptional, and I can't wait to see what the rest of his life has in store for him. I love you, buddy.

I'll just leave you with this. Tania Kindersley in a post about friendship: "The thing that I adore the most is that nothing has to be explained. There is a shorthand in ancient friendships which is gloriously relaxing. Sentences often do not even need to be finished. Lines are easily read between. Stupid old stories and jokes and memories are resurrected as if we all saw each other yesterday. There is that lovely thing of picking up exactly where you left off, even if it has been months since you last saw each other. The very old friends get you in a way that no one else can, and sometimes I think all I want is to be got."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Kashmiri Kohlrabi

Last year, the one thing in my CSA share that I had trouble figuring out was the kohlrabi.  I tried the recipe they emailed out with that week's distribution (a kind of hash brown thing using grated kohlrabi), but it just didn't work for me.  I was dreading getting the kohlrabi this year, and it's distribution came my way yesterday.

Since pickup is midday, I always bring the foodstuffs with me back to the office.  While trying to explain to trusty coworker exactly WHAT kohlrabi is, I discovered that it is a commonly eaten food in the Kashmir region.  Trusty Coworker asked where Kashmir was, and when I explained, he pointed out that I would probably like it however they prepared it.  I found a recipe for Kashmiri Kohlrabi here, and I've reworked it for my more American palette and pantry.  (I don't keep asafoetida around and actually had to google it to find out what it was.  Fenugreek and clove also make the dishes a little sweet, and I prefer a savory, spicy taste.  Check out the original recipe if you think you'd prefer that!)

Kashmiri Kohlrabi

  • Heaping tablespoon Garam Masala (I am lazy and used the stuff from Whole Foods rather than make my own.  SHAME.)
  • Heaping tablespoon ground coriander
  • Teaspoon ground turmeric 
  • 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 medium kohlrabi with greens, peeled and cut into slightly smaller than bite-sized pieces, and the leaves chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, depending on size, crushed and finely chopped
  • Heaping teaspoon ground ginger (I used a little more than a tablespoon of fresh ginger because I love it, but I think it would still be good with dried)
  • 2 fresh green serrano peppers, minced with seeds (I took the seeds out of one and left the seeds in the other.  It would be quite spicy leaving seeds in both.)
  • Half bunch chopped cilantro
  • Two tablespoons of ketchup (I like the added tomato-y, vinegar-y flavor.)
  • Water as needed
  • Salt to taste
  • Rice for serving
Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin, garam masala, and turmeric; they should sizzle upon contact with the hot oil. Quickly add the kohlrabi and leaves and cook, stirring, 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat. Mix in the garlic, ginger, peppers, and half of your chopped cilantro.  Continue to cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add about a cup of water, cover the pan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kohlrabi is tender and most of the water has evaporated, 25 to 30 minutes. You may have to add a little water as it is cooking.  After the kohlrabi has gotten quite tender, add the ketchup and the rest of the cilantro.  Stir, cover, turn off the stove, and let it sit for about five minutes.  Serve over rice.

It.  Was.  So.  Good.  Surprisingly so, even.  I can't believe I didn't have the brains to do a little more searching last year and that Trusty Coworker was the one who figured out a way for me to eat the vegetable I lamented all last year.  /facepalm.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Community Supported Agriculture: A Love Affair

This is the not the best picture I've ever taken, but I sure am happy with it.  Why?

Because it's the first salad of the new growing season for our CSA.  I first read about Community Supported Agriculture in Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.  The gist of the book was to eat food, not too much, mostly plants.  Of "food", he was addressing issues with overly processed, packaged foods.  The "not too much" deals with our out of control portions, and "mostly plants" means just what it says, with an emphasis on eating more leafy greens.  My practice of these rules may not always live up to my practice (umm, that bowl of salad?  All mine.  So, leaves?  Check.  Portion?  Umm...), but I do keep them in mind.  And I believe he's got it right.  He also talks about eating seasonally and eating locally, and it's in that portion of the book that he talks about CSAs.  

I went to a website to locate local CSAs, expecting that there would be none in my corner of Alabama.  (This would have been Spring of 2009.)  Much to my happiness, there was a farm!  In Coker, Alabama!  That did Community Supported Agriculture!  (For those of you who don't know and won't google, Coker is just outside Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where we were living at the time.)  I emailed them, giddy at the prospect of engaging in this whole thing.  Disappointment arrived in the form of an "I'm sorry, all our shares have been filled for this season" and "we will put you on a list for next year if we have additional shares" email.  Devastation may be a better word.  My only chance at a CSA was gone.  I made do that summer with farmer's markets in Clanton and a brief stint with office delivery of certain vegetables via Katie Farms, also in Coker.  (If I remember correctly, a restaurant opened that wanted to use their produce, and that used much of their available supply.  We were happy for them, even if I did miss my blueberries and fresh eggs.)  

I nearly fell out of my chair the next January when I received another email from Margaret Ann at the farm about joining their CSA.  They had shares available, did we still want one, etc.  I trembled the way Edie and Bailey tremble when someone picks them up from a haircut appointment.  I eagerly filled out a form, sent in a check, and waited for mid-April to arrive.  That first pick-up was a dream.  It was just around the corner from my job at the time, and there was fresh dill.  Dill!  Everything smelled heavenly. And then there were these little bags of salad mix.  Beautiful green and purple leaves of all sorts, washed and placed into Amy sized bags.  I was in love.

The next week was when Jay and I decided to move to Birmingham full time, which meant I would be leaving my beloved job and community in Tuscaloosa.  I was excited about the move but still sad about leaving, and my biggest, most secret fear was that the CSA thing would fall through.  How would I pick up veggies from Tuscaloosa in Birmingham?  What would I do?  Turns out, they have pickups in Birmingham, too.  And one of them is maybe a mile from where I work now.  Things really do have a way of working out sometimes.

But back to the salad.  You don't get the little bags of mix every week.  You get them most often in the spring and fall, and I look forward to them each time.  (Early summer gets you different head lettuces as they've matured, and summer is just too hot down here to support much leafiness in July.)  I don't even really share them with Jay.  Most of the time I eat them at work, lovingly tearing the stems off any particularly stemmy bits.  Crumble a little feta over them and top with some Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar dressing, and really, that's all I need.  It is perfection, and there is no salad mix out there that can compare.  I've bought some bagged mixes, even gotten some at Whole Foods.  Not the same.  Not even a little bit.  I've been missing these little baggies of goodness now for months, and just the smell of the greens nearly brought to tears to my eyes when I was preparing the bowl this evening.  Things are back as they should be, and I'm still in love.  

If you want to check out my CSA, go to their web page!  My CSA is through Snow's Bend Farm, and I can't say enough good things about them.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Why I Married Him #1

I'm going to start a new, semi-regular feature for my husband, Jay.  The poor critter (and the rest of the world) generally only hears the things that annoy me (i.e. "Why do you stay up so late?! Did you really not do this thing I've been asking you to do for days?!")  It makes me sound and feel like the worst type of partner.  He really is a good man, and he really is quite good to me.  So he's getting some posts devoted entirely to him.  (And these are in no particular order of importance.  The numbers in the post headings are just going to indicate the order of the posts, not reasons.)

When we were freshmen in high school, we were walking down a hallway together.  A special needs boy in Jay's physical education class was a little ahead of us, and a group of rather obnoxious, arrogant boys came up to him and started teasing him.  He couldn't really tell they were making fun of him and just kept talking to them and answering their questions.  Jay and I saw this, and I was horrified.  But I remained inert.  I just kept quiet and kept walking along behind them.  Jay sped up away from me and walked right up to the boy and put his arm around him.  He said something along the lines of, "Hey, buddy, how was your weekend?" and quietly steered the boy away.  The others just walked off.  No scene, no nothing.  Just Jay, stepping into a bad situation, and handling it like a pro.  I'd never been so happy to be left behind in a hallway in my life, and I knew right then that the boy I'd been dating for about a year at that point was a keeper.  I kid you not.

He does not think I am crazy for the way I am about Edie and Bailey.  He encourages this behavior and engages in it himself.

He keeps me grounded.  I am prone to get caught up in a plan or a dream and spend so much time planning and dreaming that I don't follow through.  Or that I get mopey and sad when it doesn't work out.  He is a balancing force for me in emotions, daily tasks, and even finances.  I'm a bit of an impulse buyer, and my inner nature is to walk into Anthropologie and blow $200 on lovely home items.  (Every time I get paid.  Doing this occasionally, not a problem.  Twice a month?  It would be a big, fat problem.)  He keeps me from doing that, but not in a "Don't you dare spend that kind of money" way.  (I could never function in a relationship like that.)  I know that financial security is important to him, and that's how I keep it in check.  Not because it's something he demands of me.  (Again, that kind of control would be my undoing.  It's much better for me to control myself because I know it will make him happy, not because it will make him mad if I don't.  Do you see the difference there?  It may be a fine distinction, but it's an important one for me.) When I do have the occasional splurge (like the most perfect, albeit expensive, lampshade EVER), he doesn't bat an eye and generally likes the item, too.  Which brings me to....

He doesn't care if our home looks like some weird cross between a flea market, a pile of blankets, and the home section of Anthropologie.  He doesn't really care about how the place is decorated, which lets me have all my fun, happy stuff I've collected over the years just sit about.  Pewter pitchers and turquoise mason jars?  Piles and piles and books and picture frames?  One comforter, two lap blankets, a sheet, and a snuggie on the couch at the same time?  He's fine with it.  Happy, even.  And it makes me giddy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Things that Make Me Go "Ugh" and Why I Need to Settle Down

I had some car trouble a few weeks back and left my van at Home to be dealt with by the Cousin Mechanic, and even though the Van is fixed now (The Mother has been driving it some to make sure we're good), since gas prices have been up, I've continued to drive my father in law's old Focus.  That doesn't have a tape player in it.  Which means that I can't listen to my mp3 player.  (As for all you "Just get a radio receiver" naysayers...go away!  I would have to go purchase something to use that contraption, and that would be work.  This is my corner of the internet from which to complain.)  The first few weeks it wasn't a problem; I had some CDs from The Auburn Fan and then I bought the new Adele album. (If you haven't done this yet, GO.  Now.)  But my drive to work has been decidedly more droll, and I miss my random assortment of music. Ugh.

We moved last weekend.  About 12 feet or so up, that is.  Still, it was a pain, and the lack of sleep that came with the whole experience is something from which I'm still recovering.  Ugh. I knew my Trusty Coworker  had jury duty Monday, but since he's an attorney as well, I assumed no one would want him and that he'd be back in the office Tuesday morning.  WAS I EVER WRONG.  He can't talk about it (duh, he's a real live juror at this point), but they sure did want him, for some reason unknown to me.  And no worries, trial will last no more than THREE WEEKS.  But who did I feel sorry for?  Not Trusty Coworker, oh no.  ME.  The past twenty-four hours have been one giant pity party for FloCo, and it has not been pretty.  Ugh.

Then, on my drive home this afternoon, The Mother calls.  She says hello and asks how I am.  I dejectedly say I am fine.  Then, in a teary voice, she says, "I have some bad news."  I nearly faint on Highway 280.  "What?!" I cry.  "Is it The Last Grandmother?!  Is it one of the Canines?! WHO IS DEAD?!"  All I can think is that it's The Last Grandmother, and that I won't be able to attend the funeral because of Trusty Coworker's juror duties.  "I hit a deer with the Van," she says. 


All I could do was giggle.  Here I am, feeling sorry for myself, and my mother is nearly in tears about my blasted vehicle.  I ask, "Are you okay?  Did it come through the windshield?" "No, but it did crack it all the way across. You'll also need a new headlight." 

That's it?  Really?  More giggling.  Everyone is safe, and the Van may be a little worse for wear, but it is easily fixable.  There has been no death or need for tears.  I am humbled at the realization that I have been feeling so sorry for myself when, really, are three weeks alone at work so bad?  There could be a Canine in Peril, or a sick relative, or utter destruction of my parents' Home.  Three weeks?  I've got clients and a mounting pile of sticky notes to amuse me, and poor Trusty Coworker is trapped in a courtroom listening to litigation.  Bah.  I'd rather be the one at work than the one on jury duty, and I do think my attitude is better already.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Eggs Oaxaca-Style

As you may have seen already, Jay and I are trying to use up the food in our apartment so we don't have to move it upstairs.  We were perusing the contents of the fridge and realized that we had three serrano peppers that needed to be used, a bit of leftover cilantro, and a dozen eggs that could be utilized.  (Two eggs were reserved: one for cookies and the other for Cheesy Garlic Bread Swirls.)  Add some onion, garlic, ground cumin, chili powder, and canned tomatoes, and we had ourselves a spicy tasty dish.

1 large can diced tomatoes (or about eight medium sized tomatoes, chopped)
1 medium onion, diced
8 large garlic cloves, chopped, maybe even a whole head of garlic if its a small one
3 serrano peppers or other green chile, chopped
Large pinch ground cumin
Large pinch chili powder
10 eggs, beaten
Cilatro, chopped, to taste (I used about two tablespoons or so)

Throw the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and peppers into a food processor or blender.  Process/Blend.  Pour into saucepan on stove, add cumin and chili powder.  Heat.  Add salt and pepper as you think it needs.

Heat some oil (or melt some butter...) in a skillet.  Pour a ladleful of egg into the skillet to make a very thin omelet.  When it's done, put it on a plate and repeat, stacking the cooked eggs like pancakes.  When all are cooked, slice it in thin strips, and toss with the sauce and cilantro. 

It was So.  Good.  I liked it even better than I thought I would, and Jay seemed to really enjoy it as well.  His only suggestion was to add cheese, though I think it would mellow out the spicy flavors more than I'd like.  I wish I'd had the good sense to take pictures, but I was hungry and immediately set to nomming.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

So Much for Trying to Blog More Often

Sometimes life just has other plans.

At the suggestion of Jay's uncle, he and I started watching Eureka, a quirky dramedy from the SciFi channel.  (I refuse to call it "SyFy" or whatever unless compelled to under court order.)  While it is at times predictable, it's cute and entertaining and makes Jay stop to explain the general principles behind whatever scientific thingy they're encountering in any given episode.  All around winning.  So there's been a fair bit of Netflix watching around these parts. 

We've gone home a few weekends this month, and the weekends we have stayed in Birmingham have been rather uneventful.  (No garden planting or wallpaper domination this month.)  I did manage to score over 100 bowling last weekend, and if you know me at all, you know that this is a Big Deal. 

In unrelated news, it's that time of year again...we're moving!  Okay, so it's just into the apartment above the one that we're in.  And it's because they're planning to renovate ours and they wouldn't let us sign another year long lease.  And it's easier to just move upstairs than it is to move across town.  We have managed to collect even MORE books and socks, so something must be done about that.  I do plan on going through everything and taking it to a local thrift store, so that's one good way to get rid of some things.

Another "fun", moving related thing is the fact that I do not want to move a bunch of food upstairs.  It's just extra trips up the stairs I don't want to take, so we're just kind of making do with food in the pantry and freezer, which is making for some rather interesting meals.  One night this week, Jay and I are just going to have these awesomely delicious garlic rolls with some leftover marinara sauce for dinner.  I made cookies tonight simply because it meant I could get rid of the last of the chocolate chips and pecans.  My life is full of EXCITEMENT. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lessons in Crappy Wednesdays

Today was a bit terrible.

I woke up late, had to get ready in a rush, and left the house ten minutes late.  It was raining, so traffic was a nightmare. It took me an hour and twenty minutes to make it the six and a half miles to work.  When I got to work, our phones and internet weren't working.  And we had closings today.  When the phone and internet continued to NOT WORK, I had to go to the main office, where they very handily showed me how to access email remotely.  One of our afternoon closings continued to be delayed, and the Trusty Coworker had to leave for an out of county closing, which meant I had to deal with the other.  My hair was a mess because of the rain, and my thought-it-was-cute-at-the-store striped shirt ended up making me look more like I escaped from a hipster prision rather than passed the bar last summer.  Needless to say, I was not looking forward to the rest of the day.

And then, the settlement statement got approved.  A cable tech person came out and managed to FIX THE INTERNET.  The clients came by, and they were super sweet people.  The loan officer is one of our favorites, and it's always nice when we have a good closing with him.  Jay stopped by and took me to get Indian food, and the paneer pakoras were melt in your mouth good. I came home to two very happy dogs, and now I'm watching Arrested Development on one side of my 42" computer screen and writing this little love note to the internet in the other.  Things are not so bad after all, and I may have even learned a lesson about writing a bad day off.  Hope this finds the rest of the internet well.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Compost Bin

Okay, so it's a plastic storage box that I've drilled holes in.  But whatever.  I try!  This post from last year on one of my favorite blogs, Romesticity, made me want to have a compost bin and believe that I could.  However, good plans never materialized, and it wasn't until I found a handy suggestion in this book that I figured out how to do this at our apartment.  We don't have a yard, so a traditional compost pile or even a nice composter aren't really options.  Also, it was a relatively cheap way for me to try out something new.  I'm kind of pumped.  You want to see pictures?  No?  Well, you get them anyway.

The 'brown' matter, which for me, is a mixture of torn up newspaper and old leaves from our porch.  (That I *obviously* haven't cleaned off since fall.)

After adding potting soil and what few kitchen scraps I had tonight.

My improvised compost bin.  And yes, I did drill the holes in the top in the shape of an "A".  This is what happens when I'm left alone for long periods of time.

Sorry for the craptastic quality of these photos; I did all this about 10pm tonight and had to take pictures RIGHTTHEN.  I can't be the only person this has ever happened to.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On Gardens and Being a Senior Design Widow

Jay is in his last semester of his degree in electrical engineering and second semester of a senior design project.  Where he must work with a TEAM.  On their hours, which, as young, single men, generally means after 2pm until....after midnight.  Which means that I, as a nine to five gal, never see my husband awake.  Unless it is he waking me up when he gets home.  It is miserable, and I am pouty, but never fear.

The Best Friend since Preschool is coming to the rescue.  (She is a Pharmacy Widow in that her husband to be works out of town and only gets every other weekend off.  She has had to deal with far more separation than I and understands my irritability at not seeing The Boy.  But I digress.)  We are planning a weekend of various projects around her home, which include stripping wallpaper (how naughty!) and starting a garden (and dirty!) and cooking something delectable.  I believe she is especially excited about getting rid of the early nineties wallpaper in her bathroom, and I CANNOT WAIT to "help" her with "her" garden project.  (I guess this is where I confess that I want "her" to "have" a garden because I want to use her backyard since I, in an apartment, do not have one.  There.  Sorry about that.)  I won't get into any great debate over non-rural-area-house-and-garden-making (but go here if you are interested!), but I do want to try my hand at growing my own vegetables.

I've had an interest in growing things since I can remember.  My great aunt Nell always had these great catalogs where you could order seeds and seedling and sapling, and I was beyond fascinated.  I've tried my hand at growing things, and my most successful plant to date has been some Jasmine that I bought at the Biltmore Estate five years ago.  It is still alive, but that's only because it's been in my mother's possession.  The desert rose The Boy and I bought after we married died when we moved to Birmingham (he overwatered it...truth.)  Various flowers I've bought over the years died.  I managed to overwater what first looked to be a promising window box herbs.  Too much sun killed our St. John's Wort.  I let the rosemary freeze over the holidays.  The lettuce I tried to grow in boxes just didn't have the space to flourish, and I didn't know proper harvesting techniques to at least have the baby leaves from it.  My only minor success was broccoli.  I can remember steaming the biggest heads at the same time, and it was the greenest broccoli I'd ever seen.  I hope that having some actual space to grow things will yield more success, and that that hope and excitement will get me through the last few weeks of the dreaded design project.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Some Pups and a Recommendation

Hi there interwebs. Just wanted to touch base via a few adorable photos and one very awesome book and blog.

Why, what is this that is under the bed? 

Oh, it's just Bailey.  Lying on his back. Under the bed. With his feetsies sticking out. I DIE. 

And this, oh this, is the Beans. Asleep. On one of my favorite books ever, Backwards in High Heels: The Impossible Art of Being Female, by Tania Kindersley and Sarah Vine. It covers all manner of topics, from female beauty standards to aging to the different types of love. It's a great read written by two wonderful and witty women with gorgeous illustrations. Ms. Kindersley continues to work on a new book and, in the mean time, writes daily for her blog, She has a great voice and takes lovely pictures of her life in Scotland. Some of her favorites are the hill in front of her home, lichen, and her lovely labs (collectively "The Ladyships").  I look forward to her posts each day and am constantly surprised by the content. It could be politics, or cricket, or a particularly eloquent post on friendship, in which she says of her friends:

" was like falling from a great height into a deep, luxurious feather bed. It's a pleasure so profound and keen that I can hardly find words for it. ... It is the most luxurious, ineffable fondness, because all the flaws and foibles are known, and none of them matter a whit. In fact, the foibles and flaws are the whole point, because no one wants to be friends with flat white perfection."

Just go read the whole post, especially if you, like I do, have very good, very old friends who make life so much richer.  Trust.  And until next good. 

And if you can't be good at it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thank the Stars for Pictures and Pandora

I've spent the last twenty four hours getting the crap kicked out of me by a brutal stomach bug and the better part of the past three weeks battling a case of the blues.  I am happy to report that I am on the mend on both fronts.  Tonight's supper is on the stove, a tasty stroganoff that involves copious amounts of crimini mushrooms and can be eaten over rice, in a bowl, and with a spoon. 

(If you must know anything about me, know that I cook two to three meals a week that are something over rice, and my favorite foods are those which can be eaten out of a bowl and with a spoon.  I love spoons, and I'm not using a fork unless I absolutely must.  It's just a thing I have.  /endrant.)

I had my Adele station blaring on Pandora, and I am happy to report that not one unfamiliar song has played.  (This is my goal with any Pandora station I create.  I don't know.)  I left the computer long enough for the screensaver to pop up, which is just a slideshow of the 'my pictures' folder on my computer.  I ended up unable to stop watching the slideshow and sat there, entranced, for a good twenty minutes.  I came to the conclusion that my life is pretty good, and my friends and family are even better.   I am one lucky duck.  So here's a few of my favorites just to share with you, whoever you are, and wherever you may be tonight.

My grandmother, Edith (Edie's namesake), at a lathe during WWII.  She didn't wear dresses until she was a teenager wanting to go on a date with the man who eventually became my grandfather, kept a short haircut almost her entire life, and always let people know what she thought.

My granddaddy Bubba with a Corsair during the Korean War.  Even as he neared the end of his life and didn't quite remember everything as he always had, he could remember the day he took this picture with this plane, and even told my mom and me about where we could find it for him.

My great aunt Cora.  I just love this picture of her because, though she smiled plenty in life, there are hardly any pictures of her actually doing so!

My great aunt Nell and my Billy Pa.  I love everything about this picture.

These people.  This football stadium.

This night.  Oh, dear, this night.

This place.


THIS UNREAL ANIMAL.  I'm unsure how she's even real.  THAT FACE.

My buddy boy.

Why yes, I think there shall be an obligatory dog picture in every post.  Sometimes even repeats.  As you can see, life is okay.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snowpocalypse 2011

It's more like Icepocalypse 2011.  Many Birmingham area schools are going to be closed for the third day in a row, and my office was closed one day and opened late on another.  The World:  It is ENDING.  I just know it.

I made the most of my Snice Day by spending time with good friends, hanging seventeen various picture/diploma/certificate frames (yes, SEVENTEEN), and staying in my pajamas ALL DAY LONG.  I made a neat little silhouette from a picture Heather took of Jay and me when we were newly engaged and looking at ceremony sites.

Heather's Picture

My handiwork. 

Excuse the bad pictures...I don't feel up to doing better tonight.  That's because I used up all my camera skills taking Save the Date photos for Heather and Bobby.  (Heather, you know, my best friend that's getting married to a fantastic guy?  Yeah, her.  You can find her here.)

This is the 'official' postcard picture.

This is probably my favorite of the bunch.  It was FREEZING out there Sunday afternoon, and they still managed to look this happy to be there together.  /swoon.

I can't wait to see how the next sixty-odd years unfold.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Okay, so I haven't even logged into this thing since September.  Oops.  We have been busy.  Christmas has come and gone, and I have entered my twenty-fifth year on this beautiful planet.  It feels like a milestone, and I am quite lucky that I spent it in the company of so many people that I love.  By the way, this is what twenty-five looks like:

Goofy, yes.  Just like the other twenty-four years preceding this one.

I have actually been DOING things, not just writing about them.  I have made curtains for our laundry closet AND the kitchen window.  I have felted sweaters from the thrift store, and I have made the most lovely lavender scented salt scrub for the bath.  I just haven't told the internet about all this.  Again, oops.

My most recent project is a continuing work in progress.  For quite some time I've been collecting bits of fabric from the clearance bins at Hobby Lobby and cute pillowcases on clearance at Target to make...something.  Well, my friends, that something is going to be a quilt.  Here's where I am with the thing:

Yeah, wish me luck with THAT mess.  I had to move everything in my living room around just to plan the thing, and now it is all neatly stacked away waiting to be stitched together.  (And by "neatly stacked away", I mean in a lopsided stack, folded in half, tucked in a bag that is still sitting in the living room.  More "oops".)  The dogs are as blissed out as ever, the Lady nestled beside Jay in the recliner and the Buddykin sprawled out in my favorite chair.  (I told you I was lucky.)

One of my goals for the new year is to write on this thing more, even if no one reads it and it merely serves as a record of life in the Birmingham apartment.  At the very least, kids, I'm going to put links to some of my favorite blogs on here.  You get TWO today, simply because I don't know which friend to point you to first.

Will is a buddy first from undergrad that I got to know even better while in law school.  He has lost half of himself over the past year, and he's one of the smartest, most entertaining people I've had the pleasure to know.  He's the brain and the body behind Duct Tape Wedding Ring, and you can find him here.

I met Elizabeth at something I refer to as "nerd camp" the summer between my junior and senior years of high school.  We bonded over a mutual love of Harry Potter and reconnected when we both took Italian in college.  I love her blog because you can really hear her voice in her posts and her recipes are awesome.  I look forward to her near daily posts, as they could be about bread-making or finding a job as a librarian in a tough economy.  You can find her here.

That's all for now, but I'll try to be back soon.  Happy New Year!