Saturday, July 31, 2010

I could have made them from scratch by now. Twice!

Tiramisu is a pretty common dessert, right? I mean, tiramisu may not be something you eat every week, but at least you've HEARD of it... right?

So why, WHY, should finding the ingredients in my area be so, so difficult?

Is it because I live in the south?

I don't really want to make tiramisu. I want to make a chocolate torte - the

X-Treme Chocolate Double-Nut Caramel Ladyfinger Torte,

to be exact.

And for that, I need ladyfingers, or ladyfinger cookies, whatever the heck they're called.

(Excuse my French, please. I'm highly irritated.)

LADYFINGER cookies, which are the main ingredient in tiramisu. And I CANNOT FIND THEM. I have gone to four stores in my area, and please! I live in Raleigh. Not... oh, I don't know, Nowheresville, Alaska. Yesterday evening, I wasted an hour (time I DID not have to waste) driving from place to place, hoping that at the end, all my trouble would be worth it and I could justify the gasoline and unmade dinner on the counter. If I can only find some ladyfingers. That thought is what propelled me through rush hour traffic and that sick feeling in your stomach that you get from knowing you told your husband you were "just running out really quick to get something" when you knew that he wouldn't even care whether there were ladyfingers in his dessert.

Unfortunately, the only thing I came home with was a guilty, time-wasting conscience and a box of "Best Valu" graham crackers, which I threw into the cupboard with a scowl.

You see, if I'm going to take the time to make this dessert, I want to make it the right way. I don't want to substitute graham cracker crumbs or pound cake. I want LADYFINGERS, darn it!

I'm calling Whole Foods. And maybe EarthFare. My struggles have only made me more determined.

UPDATE: I was ecstatic. I'd called EarthFare (only ten minutes from my house) and... they had them! They had ladyfingers!

So immediately, I went and bought them. I told the manager (who helped me find them) how happy he'd made me. I told him I could have hugged him.

And then, when I got home and went to make the recipe, I realized there are two kinds of ladyfingers. Soft, and crunchy. Guess what kind the recipe calls for? And guess what kind I bought?

Yup! You guessed it!

Ugh. So now I've spent six bucks on stupid cookies that are kind of gross (I tried one) and absolutely useless in my recipe. Gosh darn it. I'll make it work.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Finding the joy.

I saw a blog post that stuck with me. It's made me think about what life really is.

When I think about having kids someday, I picture smiling faces and Christmas photos and running around the park together. I don't ever, ever picture cleaning up vomit three times a night, or doing two loads of laundry a day, or walking up and down the hallway at midnight with a baby who will start crying the second I stop moving. I don't think about the endless diapers, the tricky discipline moments, and stepping on pointy Lego pieces that someone left on the floor.

I picture all the good stuff, but none of the stuff in between.

And I realized that before I married Brian, I pictured marriage as a never-ending cloud of joy. What could possibly be better than spending every day with someone who loves you? And I couldn't wait to take care of our house and make him delicious meals and even do our laundry, thrilling at the sight of his clothes whirling around in the washing machine with mine.

In some ways, marriage has turned out to be even more wonderful than I imagined, but in other ways: surprise! Marriage and housekeeping are boring sometimes! I have realized that the really special moments are distanced from each other by commonplace experiences: toothpaste on the sink... dinner dishes to wash... a bowl of venison to grind up first thing in the morning. Not bad things. Just not exciting.

This morning, we woke up at 5:30 to go jogging and I took a couple minutes to make coffee and unload the dishwasher before we left. And folks, I was dragging, thinking of everything I had to do this morning... and this afternoon... and this evening. And as I put away the mugs and plates, I found myself inwardly complaining that there "wasn't anything to look forward to today." Meaning that the only thing happening today was the tedium of life.

And I caught myself, thank goodness. I prayed that the Lord would help me find the joy in every day. Joy didn't become my permanent houseguest when I got married, just because that's 'what happens'. And joy won't be automatic when we have kids. Joy is only found where God is, in his dwelling place. We have to ask him for it. And I reckon when I have little ones and morning sickness and then I'm unloading the dishwasher and making coffee at 5:30, I'm going to have to work a little harder to find joy.

And I also prayed that I wouldn't be so focused on the dreariness of what I have to do that I'd miss the brief seconds of what I love. Tonight, for example, I have to run to a neighborhood homeowner's association board meeting right after I fix dinner, clean up the dishes, and feed the dog. None of that will be particularly fun, but maybe somewhere in there, Brian will come up behind me at the kitchen sink and hug me and kiss me on the top of my head.

I hope I don't miss it.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I think today is Wednesday? Um, yeah. Wednesday! So, today: Wednesday Blog Update.

It's been nonstop fun, action, and excitement in real life! In my blog life, however - please, excuse the silence.

Brian and I had two friends visit last week. We had an awesome time and ate a lot of food. Brian complained about gaining weight the WHOLE time. Yes, amongst three girls, he was the one worried about his waistline. You'd think he'd be more concerned that his euchre game has lost its magic - he and I stunk up the card table with our sad partnership! He's had to accept that Kathleen and Becca will remain champions until their next visit.

On Becca and Kathleen's very last night here, my next-door neighbor went into labor! And less than a day later, she and her husband had a beautiful baby girl. Meanwhile, her son and I had fun decorating the church for VBS and shopping for his little sister, who unfortunately had to stay in the hospital a couple of extra days due to blood sugar levels. Despite her having to stay in the NICU, seeing her made me excited to have my own little girl (or three-year-old little boy) someday.

(In fact, I'm so excited that I made Brian pick out baby names with me the other day. Thus, I'm proud to announce that we're all set for our first four boys and our first two girls! Anything after that will require extra inspiration - and maybe some basketball jerseys. Because at that point, we'll have enough people in our family for a sports team.)

VBS at church is still going strong, and I'm so glad to be teaching the Pre-K class. For kids that age, nothing is corny or cheesy. It's all fun! scary! exciting! Though calling out the names of a dozen three-year-olds all night does some work on the voice. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it around until Friday. :)

Now, consider thyself updated on my fancy, fantastic life. (More creative posting to happen at a later date.)

Go forth, and have a wonderful day!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Great Physician

My friend Kathleen, whose husband was severely injured in a car accident months ago, has been faithfully blogging about his recovery despite the sadness and discouragement and exhaustion that she faces daily. Caleb has been assessed as a Level III on the Rancho Los Amigos Scale and the doctors have predicted he will not progress further than that. But Kathleen got some WONDERFUL news yesterday, and you've GOT to read it.

Please, please, follow her blog. God is doing - and WILL do - amazing things, and for us to be able to see the updates on a daily basis is a front-row seat to witness a miracle. I'm not kidding.

Please stand with Kathleen and Caleb, please pray, and please read. Despite the circumstances, their testimony is the most encouraging and exciting thing I read on a daily basis.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Guess what?

It's the middle of summer and I look terrible in a bathing suit.

In one sense, it doesn't really matter, because I don't plan on strutting around in a bikini in front of lots of pool-goers. We don't ever go to the community pool, and when I do go with my 'little sister' I wear shorts and a tank top over it. I just always feel too self-conscious to enjoy myself if I'm baring it all. Call me crazy, but whatever. That doesn't really matter.

HOWEVER, my neighbors recently asked me to watch their house while they were away, and they have a pool, so of course I said YES! (For the record, I probably would have been happy to do it if they didn't have a pool.) But it was perfect timing, really, because summer in the south means that This Horrible Heat is so bad that it's pretty much a good enough excuse to commit any crime you can think of. Anyway, to get to the point, I was swimming in the privacy of their backyard when I caught a glimpse of myself in their glass doors and I just about YIKES.

And I was pretty disappointed because I always figured that if there's ever a time in my life when I should look my best it would be in my early twenties, pre-children... right? And my time as a childfree woman is limited, really, so why have I let myself go like this?

It's not that I'm fat or feel fat, but let's just say I lack tone. Lack tone to the point that if my legs were auditioning for choir, they'd be booed off the stage after a single note. And I know this is because I've been destroying my body, nutritionally, by eating cookie dough chunks right out of the freezer to the tune of oh, four or five per day, as well as eating regular meals and going out for fast food with my little sister once per week. "I can do it," says my brain to the rest of my body, "because I've been working out."

Ha, ha, brain. Good one. It's not like I've been running marathons, so no, I don't really have the green light to eat lots of cookie dough - but thanks, brain.

Anyway, I'm going to get back to my 'diet', and I figured that if I blogged about it I could stay accountable. So please? Guys? Ruthlessly berate me if I fail. I know that the threat of an internet flogging will keep me towing the line.

I'll be following the No S Diet, which is simple and brilliant and every time I do it, it works. Only - how come I haven't been able to resume it? I've tried and tried to pick it back up, but this time, with the blog as my last resort, I hope to be successful. Basically, it's no sweets, no snacks, and no seconds except on s days (Saturdays, Sundays, and special days - Christmas, Thanksgiving, and days when I feel moody or feel mad at Brian or feel sad about being flabby okay pretty much just weekends and holidays). Three meals a day. And make them healthy, or else.

So today?
Breakfast: Herba-Smoothie and coffee with stevia and almond milk
(Incidentally, I'd much rather have sugar and cream in my coffee because that tastes WAY better. But this way is healthier, and it's fun to pretend that I'm living in a world where liberal hippies have taken over and only vegan and organic things are available to eat and drink.)
Lunch: Cup of homemade refrigerator-vegetable-and-chicken soup and a nectarine
Dinner: Venison steak and caprese salad

Please help me. When I get pregnant, I'll be beyond anyone's reach if I keep up this cookie dough habit.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Fourth of July! (Coming to you on the sixth of July.)

What a great weekend! I know it's Tuesday, but Brian had yesterday OFF! Man. Having an extra weekend day with Brian is a vacation in itself.

We swam, watched movies, made burgers and corn on the cob, ate summer tomatoes, and laid in the sun. Bo had a friend over on Saturday and the two dogs played for hours in the backyard and by the lake. Bo was so tired the next day that he didn't even wake us up. Which was nice, because I've always had a problem with that. There's a reason we don't have kids yet, and part of it is that we'd like to enjoy some peaceful sleep for a couple of years before we never get it again. But Bo is an early riser, and he whines incessantly around 6:00 on the weekends. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my husband? I do, because he's always the one that gets up and takes him for his walk. At 6:30. I love him.

In honor of the fourth, we had a fire on the deck, finally putting our firepit to use. When we first moved into the house, we frantically shopped for two things: a grill and a firepit, believing that we'd use both, often. Well, we use the grill all the time, but the firepit? Nope. We broke it in in February 2008, and henceforth have left it covered and neglected. With the summer heat, it seems like there's never a good time to use it - and in the winter, well, that's why we've got the fireplace. But on Sunday night, when the sun had set, we plugged in a box fan on the deck and sat in the artificial breeze while we roasted marshmallows over our blazing fire. And it was nice! Surprisingly nice. I daresay we'll do it again, and fairly soon.

When the fireworks began all around us, we shot our guns into the ground and cheered for our independence. Yay for redneck-style celebrations!