Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cutting Cookies with Boys

A couple nights ago our friends Drew and Jason came over for dinner. Drew and Jason were also on the Summer Project where Brian and I first met. Drew goes to Mines with Brian and Jason was in a small group with us this past year. They're two friends we're glad to kept in touch with.

Before dinner Brian and Jason put together a cookie recipe that I found for them over at Girltalk. We let them chill while we ate Erin's Balsamic Chicken with quinoa and rosemary potatoes. After dinner I floured our coffee table and gave the guys cookie dough. I should have known that they would make weapons and sci-fi characters out of the dough.



Monday, December 21, 2009

We Found Cows Downtown!


These cows are outside of the Denver Art Museum. Brian and I were so enamored with them that we didn't make it to the museum in time.
For Jerry :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Graduation!

As some of you may know Brian graduated yesterday. It's been a challenge at times, but overall has been a great privilege to be a part of Brian's last semester of his engineering degree. As I've mentioned before, Brian did the best he could to create a stable homelife for us by fitting all of his projects, homeworks, and classes into a 8-5 (which most days looked more like 7-5) work day. He finished up with the best grades of his college career. I'm so proud of the work he's done.

His family was proud too :) They came up from the Springs for his early graduation (9:30am) which means they had to get up WAY early. After one of the most genuinely interesting graduations I've been to, we went to Jose O'Shea's to eat some yummy mexican and then back to our place to have pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.

Brian made the crust:
1 1/2 graham cracker crumbs
5 T melted butter
1 T sugar

I made the filling:

3- 8oz.pkgs. cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup canned pumpkin

3 eggs

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. allspice

Mix crust ingredients together, just till coated and crumbly. Press onto the bottom and 2/3 up the sides of an 8" springform pan. Bake for 5 min. at 350. Set aside.

Combine cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl, mix until smooth with an electric mixer. add pumpkin eggs, and spices, beat till smooth and creamy. Pour into the crust. Bake for 60 min. or till the top turns a bit darker. Remove from oven and allow to come to room temperature, then refrigerate. After it has thoroughly chilled, remove the pan sides and cut

I also added a small top layer:
8-10 oz sour cream
1/4 c sugar
1 t vanilla

Spread this evenly after cake has been in the oven for 1 hour and bake 5-10 more minutes.

The cheesecake turned out to be good. I was a little worried since I combined three different recipes to make it ;) The time with family was even better though.
Congratulations Brian!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Young Married Life

I've been blogging over at YoungMarriedLife.com again. This week I make a confession that you'll want to hear.

And The Winner Is ...

Thanks to all 14 of you who voted on our whole sale club poll. I have to admit that what swayed me most wasn't the votes but the comments. I'm a sucker for healthy/organic foods and if Costco has the monopoly on them, that's where I'ma goin'. So Costco is the winner of the poll and the winner in my heart :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sleeping In

This morning is the first time ever that I did not get up with Brian to fix his breakfast and drink coffee with him before he went off to work. I was SO tired and he let me sleep in. But now that I'm up ... three hours later, I'm a little worried.

Was he able to make his own breakfast? Surely, he did it before we married and does it on Saturday mornings when we have pancakes. And there's a dirty knife in the sink where he spread peanut butter on his toast, so all is good on that front.

Who talked to him as he ate it? No one, he actually got to read the scriptures in peace this morning without his wife interrupting every five minutes to talk about Christmas lights or dinner plans.

So I guess it was a win-win. He had an uninterrupted quiet time and I got three hours extra "quiet time." But I'm a little sad that I missed out on our morning routine.

Making Brian's breakfast at 6am can be a drag some mornings when I really want to sleep, but it's one of the ways I get to serve him. Brian serves me all day long by working hard and preparing for his engineering career. His study habits and posture toward his studies have radically changed since we got married and I know he's making his work a sacrificial offering first to God and then to me. And on my good days, I can see that and I'm thankful for it.

Being a companion to Brian and caring for his more domestic needs is how I'm best able to sacrificially love him in this season of our marriage, so I probably won't make sleeping in a routine thing but it sure was nice this morning.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Quinoa

Ahhh. I love Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah). I made some last night in my rice cooker and added some chopped green onion, apple, carrot and balsamic vinegar dressing and let it sit over night. It's one of the few things I buy at the health food store because it's actually cheaper there and it's so worth the trip. I highly recommend this for anyone who packs a lunch and is tired of sandwiches. I gave Brian a turkey and cheese break today by sending this with some spinach in his lunch bag.

Here's what wholehealthMD had to say about quinoa:
Nutritionally, quinoa might be considered a supergrain--although it is not really a grain, but the seed of a leafy plant that's distantly related to spinach. Quinoa has excellent reserves of Protein, and unlike other grains, is not missing the amino acid lysine, so the protein is more complete (a trait it shares with other "non-true" grains such as buckwheat and amaranth). The World Health Organization has rated the quality of protein in quinoa at least equivalent to that in milk. Quinoa offers more iron than other grains and contains high levels of potassium and riboflavin, as well as other B vitamins: B6, niacin, and thiamin. It is also a good source of magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese, and has some folate (folic acid).
An ancient grainlike product that has recently been "rediscovered" in this country, quinoa has a light, delicate taste, and can be substituted for almost any other grain.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Humbled

I'm not the best cook or hostess on the block and I would never claim to be, but I can put together a decent meal and pull off a nice evening with people in our home. Or at least I thought I could. 

Last night was a failure of EPIC proportions. Our friend and Brian's former roommate Zach is in town for work so we had him over for dinner last night. I planned on using my leftover turkey to make a homemade turkey pot pie. A friend of mine had rattled off a recipe to me with no measurements or specific instructions but I wasn't fazed. I don't much like to measure anyway.

I found a simple chocolate cake recipe for a 9x2 pan and made it strictly following the recipe, put all my fixings for the pot pie in the crockpot to soften and told myself that I would take a shower while the caking was baking.

Twenty minutes into the cake's baking time it quite literally EXPLODED in my oven. Cake on the racks, cake on the bottom, cake everywhere. Burnt cake. About this time Brian and Zach open the front door and smoke starts BILLOWING from the oven. And I look like I've never cooked a meal in my whole life.

Nothing like this has happened to me before, so stupidly I turned the oven temp up to 400 to bake the pot pie. And I thought there was smoke before. We opened the balcony door and got a fan. I asked Brian and Zach if they would see to the damage while I ESCAPED took that shower I'd been meaning to take all day.

It's amazing what a shower can do for ya. I felt better after washing away some of the embarrassment and Bran and Zach had some shoulder-to-shoulder man time cleaning out the oven. When the pot pie was done we found that the veggies were not. Most of them were still raw. And by this time all I could do was laugh.

Hospitality is about much more than a meal. So even though the food was gross, we had a great time. Zach is a gracious guest and ate the overcooked cake and undercooked veggies. And once I shook off expectations for the evening, I was able to enjoy some of the sweetest fellowship I've had in a long time.

Lesson: Don't take myself or my amateur culinary skills too seriously.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blogging Again

I spent the morning blogging for Boundless and YoungMarriedLife. Unlike writing on this blog, I actually get paid for the other blogs. I know you probably thought Brian gave me an allowance to keep up our personal blog, but he doesn't. Go figure. Hope you'll check out those posts I wrote this morning as the snow fell on the cold, cold Colorado ground.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Weather Update

The HIGH is 24 degrees tomorrow. 

Just thought you'd want to know. 

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Poll

I added a poll to the blog. Nifty, huh? I've been contemplating joining a wholesale club for a while now. I hate going to the store every time I turn around for the same products and I think buying in bulk is a beautiful thing. 

I'd really like to make an informed decision, so I'd love your advice about which one to choose: Sam's or Costco. 

You can vote at the poll on the right there and you can leave me a comment. 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

This was my very first year away from home for Thanksgiving. I wasn't away from home so much as I was at a new home. We spent the holiday with Brian's people in Colorado Springs. His twin and her husband came up from Mississippi and brought their friend Bryan Christopher and their german shepherd puppy. Brian's oldest sister and her family and Brian's grandparents live in the Springs, so they were there and of course Brian's parents graciously hosted all of us. We stayed for three days and each day there was a smattering of different people dropping by to visit.

Matt and Michelle

Grandpa and Grandma Ramsey


I'm not used to such large crowd since we always had comparatively small holidays and since it's just Brian and me up in here in Lakewood. But even though I wasn't used to all the excitement, I really enjoyed it. We went to bed tired but not drained each night and looked forward to being with family again each day.


On Thanksgiving we went on group hike through Palmer Park. I wore my house shoes because I forgot my tennis shoes at home. I'm sure it was a very nice hike, but all I could think about was how much my feet hurt.



As glad as we were yesterday to be sleeping in our own bed and back in our own house, we were a little sad driving back that we wouldn't be waking up to a houseful of family and friends.

Today we are back to life as usual. Brian is at Starbucks cranking out heat transfer homework and I'm washing clothes and trying to organize our Christmas decorations.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Leatherheads

Last night Brian and I watched Leatherheads with Renee Zellweger, George Clooney and John Krasinski (The Office). Allstar cast right? I thought so, but even with a great cast the movie was a total waste of time. It was two hours long and very, very slow. When the movie was over I didn't like any of the characters. No one had integrity or likability.

So I write this morning to save you from wasting your 3 dollars for the rental and two hours of your life that you'll never get back.

On a less critical note, Brian and I are leaving this morning to go to the Springs to spend Thanksgiving with his family! We are really excited. Even though we live just a little over an hour from away we've only made it down two times since we've been married. It's hard to leave for a whole day when there's so much work to be done for Brian's classes.

I'm getting a hair cut today as well. It always makes me feel better to have a new hair cut and I've been feeling kind of yucky lately, so I'm hoping this will pull me out of my slump.

I hope that you have a great Thanksgiving wherever you are. If you feel like you have nothing else to be thankful for this year, remember that God's very nature is the believer's greatest source of joy. He gives us strength for today and hope for tomorrow!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pea Soup

This is the best soup. Ever. Seriously, ever. It's the only pea soup I've ever had because well, pea soup sounds kind of gross. A couple of weeks ago we had dinner at some friend's and this is what they made. I googled split pea soup for about a half hour before I found the exact recipe my friend used but it was 30 minutes well spent.

Pea and Basil Soup
1 1/2 cup (12 oz) frozen peas
1 onion chopped
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1-2 T EVOO
3/4 cup fresh basil chopped
1 can (12 oz) chicken broth
1 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnish: fresh sliced mozzarella and sliced roasted red peppers
(I used some jarred roasted red peppers and skipped the cheese)

Cook onions and garlic in EVOO in large sauce pan until onions are translucent (5 minutes) add peas and basil until peas are thawed (5 minutes). Pulse pea mixture and 1/2 can of chicken both in blender until pureed. Return to sauce pan add the rest of the chicken broth and half and half. Cook until hot but not boiling (boiling half and half will not turn out well, trust me).

This recipe is originally from Giada on FoodNetowrk but I've tweaked it so that it's less heavy

This next one's for Jerry and Emily :) Growing up my step dad added hot sauce to lots of things like french fries and pinto beans. And my friend Emily is even more lavish in her application of hot sauce. It's one of the major themes of her blog. So after years of exposure from Jerry and months of subliminal messages from Emily's posts, I bought some. Wasn't sure what to do with it, but I bought it none the less. And slowly I'm putting it on more and more things. Rice, eggs, beans. What's next?
Sorry, no Louisiana.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Health Food Stores

Brian has a theory about the difference between health food stores and regular grocery stores. He thinks that people are generally happier in the health food store (customers and employees). He says it's because the decor contributes to a better atmosphere and people like the food their buying more. I mean doesn't everyone love spending their kid's college fund on health food?

I vary going to Wholefoods and King Soopers and Safeway. I only go to Wholefoods once or twice a month to get a few essentials that I can't get in a regular grocery store. And without a doubt older women will find me and ask me about the items in my cart and where certain products are located in the store. People talk to other people in health food stores. When I tell them about my roasted red peppers or point them to the sundried tomatoes we end up chatting. Today I gave a lady my recipe for split pea soup.

No one has ever just come up to me in a normal grocery store like that. So I'm thinking maybe Brian's on to something. Or maybe, I look like a health food store employee?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Twilight

Okay folks, I'm going to be unedited and maybe even a little offensive today. I know some of you are Twilight lovers. I'm not talking about the time of day immediately following sunset. I'm talking about all this vampire non-sense. I don't think it's satanic or anything. I just think it's stupid. I read the first chapter of the book=not my style of writing. I watched the first 30 minutes of the movie=Fell asleep.

I will give ole what's her name credit for even churning out that many 400 page novels. my opinion aside, that's impressive. And she must know how to weave a story if so many grown women, teenage and elementary school girls gobble up her series. I'm not trying to bash this lady at all or her writing for that matter. I just don't understand what drives our culture to the bookshelves and box office to lap up dark fiction. (I do like Harry Potter and the previously mentioned LOTR, so that probably makes me a hypocrite.)

Tim Challies has a great blog where he spends his days reviewing books from a discerning Christian perspective. I don't know if he's done a review for Twilight, but today he wrote a parody chapter of Twilight meets the Beverly Lewis Amish series meets the Left Behind series. And if you read Christian fiction or have any knowledge of popular Christian fiction, this will crack you up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Forget E-Harmony

I meet more and more couples who met through an online dating service. We have two such couples in our small group and another who lives next door. A few years ago I was skeptical about the online thing, but as culture continues to go the way of passivity about marriage and hostility toward marriage I applaud those brave singles who intentionally turn to the web for like-minded folks.

I have friends who've shelled out many monthly payments for these online dating services and never found a match. Or worse found one who ended up being a total loser.

I have other friends who really love singles and want to see them marry well, so they are building a different kind of online dating community. Marry Well takes the principles of Biblical dating and incorporates them into the online scene. Marry Well will also remove some of the online pitfalls and risks. Meeting someone online can be like meeting someone in a bar or coffee shop: You have no way of knowing if the information they're giving you about themselves is true. There is no third party to vouch for his or her character. One of the features of Marry Well allows and encourages participants to have mentors and peers (like a pastor or small group member) provide appraisal of the participant's character.
My friend Candice explains a little more about Marry Well and the upcoming beta period here. And yes, this is a shameless plug for what I think is going to be a life-changing ministry for marriage-minded singles.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dear freshman Brian, pt. 1

Dear freshman Brian,

It's 2005 for you, fall to be precise, and I have words of wisdom to impart to you. I'm the Brian of 2009, so trust me when I say you have a lot of growing up to do. What do you think it means to be a man? What are you even living for? I know the habits, the broken perspectives, and the cowardice in your heart, dude. There are a lot of things you're going to need mentors for in the coming few years, especially thinking about school, work, relationships, and the Gospel.


Freshman Brian

Let me provide a little guidance for you to start. There's a prevailing myth that because you're "young" you can skate through everything without taking responsibility for your growth. Look at all your friends and classmates. Some of them slack-off, complain about everything, date more girls than there are days in a year, and veg out on video-games. That means you are excused for doing the same, right?

Wrong. I know the lies you're believing and how they affect you. I want to bring you the truth on some things with the hope of life transformation for you and so that you'll exercise Godly wisdom in your relationships with others. You already know Jesus Christ. You've tasted His love. You have a hope living inside you. I'll tell you just how deep the meaning of this goes. I believe you know some of these things already, but I'll remind you out of love. You've missed some major pieces of wisdom along the way. Let me tell you what that will mean for you...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sources of Tension and Relief

I haven't written a blog for a long time, partly due to schoolwork, partly due to rest. Certain days mean long periods of homework, labwork, and job-searching, and I like to rest with Ashley on the days when Mines lets up a little.

I'm sure everyone enjoys Ashley's blogs (as do I), but I figured I'd take a quick work break and contribute today since my name also appears as an author on this blog (--->).

The long days of work take a toll on Ashley and me. Being at Mines most days (and now at Red Rocks to take the Dietary Nutrition class on Saturdays) means that I spend that time learning hard and working feverishly to get as much time at home with Ashley as possible. A lot of days, I walk in the door just relieved to see her face. I also generally feel a sense of pride knowing that I worked long and hard. Not yet having a job lined up after my graduation this December tends to worry me more than anything else most days. There seems to be something at the core of manhood that prompts us men to have a plan of provision for our family. That's a good thing. It puts on the pressure when we're being lazy, and it gives us a great way to spend our time: working.

The other day I heard a sermon by Mark Driscoll talking about our prayers, that they arise to God like an incense, and he hears them whether or not we feel it. Some days knowing that God hears and will answer our prayers in time is the greatest encouragement of all.

I know that God will hear our prayers for:
- Ashley's neck and back pain relief
- A job so I can provide for my family
- Our friends and family to know God's heart and mind in Jesus Christ

I don't have an eloquent end for this post, but I ask for your continued prayers for Ashley and me. We trust in God for provision, not only of our basic financial needs, but in his continued presence and love for us. Jesus Christ is our bedrock, and we have a solid place to stand in the day of adversity.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Say Cheese ... Cake!

Cheesecake has always seemed too fancy and rich a dessert to make at home. Brian loves cheesecake and when we go out for dessert he typically veers toward it on the menu. But I stealthily manage to guide him to a less hip-widening sweet by saying something dramatic like, "Do you want me to be the size of our sofa!"

But not last night. It was his birthday, so he got cheesecake. Chocolate cheesecake. Drizzled with homemade chocolate sauce. I got the recipes from a local Cry-Leike cookbook that the Bank girls had floating around (hey ladies!).
It's called "Hershey's Best Loved Cheesecake," but I didn't use Hershey's chocolate and I don't love that name so I'm just going to call it:

Chocolate Cheesecake
3 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 c sugar
1 (8 oz.) sour cream
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 c cocoa powder
2 T all-purpose flour
3 eggs

Crust:
1/2 stick butter
1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
Preheat oven to 450. Combine softened butter and crumbs and press onto bottom of 9 inch spring-form pan. Beat cream cheese and sugar. Add sour cream and vanilla. Add cocoa and flour. Add eggs one at a time (I added two at a time. Why waste time?) Beat until blended. Pour into crust and bake for 10 minutes at 450. Turn heat down to 250 and bake 40 minutes. Cool completely and refrigerate 4-6 hours.
Before I forget, let me give you the chocolate sauce recipe too.

  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine in sauce pan. Bring to a boil for one minute. It wasn't too sweet or clumpy at all. And it refrigerated well. I will definitely use this one again.
Brian was so sweet. We went to a french place downtown for dinner. I had told them earlier in the week when I made reservations and requested a quiet table that it was my husband's birthday. I didn't think they would care, I just thought it might get me a table out of the way. Well, when our waiter brought the dessert menus he told us that it was complementary for Brian's birthday. They had written it down on the phone and even had a handwritten card for Brian with cards for complementary drinks the next time we came.

We were both really impressed, but even so Brian politely thanked the waiter for dessert and said we would pass because he was going to eat my dessert at home :) What a sweet guy to pass up free yummy french dessert.

And one last thing, I feel the need to confess something. As I wrote this post I ate a small piece of cheesecake. It's only 9:15 in the morning. Someone save me from myself!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Brian!


For those of you who are not Brian. I'm sorry to have subjected you to my singing and my unwashed hair. I tried really hard to compress this video so I could email it to Brian privately rather than embarrass myself on the blogosphere, but that proved to be an insurmountable feat. So laugh your little hearts out.

And, the dessert I mentioned after my enthralling rendition of Happy Birthday will be featured on the blog tomorrow. Trust me, you'll want to try this one.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dear Colorado

Dear Colorado,

The longer we're together the more my appreciation for you grows. The mountains are spectacular. The warm orange and pink rays that come through my blinds and onto the dining room wall as I fix breakfast in the morning are a really nice touch. The sun, well to be honest it burns my retinas but I'm learning the importance of sunglasses. The snow, it's growing on me. It helps that Brian knows how to play in it. I actually enjoyed the 2 feet that you dumped on us a couple weeks ago. Being snowed in has its perks.

But the weather fluctuations, that's why I'm writing. Today it's 70 and sunny. Yesterday Brian and I played frisbee in the park with our buddies because it was so pleasant. Tomorrow it's going to snow. The heavens are going to rain down freezing matter after a 70 degree sunny day?

What if I were a pioneer woman and I did not have weather.com to tell me how to dress in morning? I would just get dressed based on the day before and walk unsuspectingly out outside only to have to turn around and change clothes. I bet you got a lot of letters from pioneer women back in the day. I'm not sure how you could rectify this problem. Maybe be a little more consistent. You know how I like consistency.

Sincerely,

Ashley Ramsey





Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pumpkin Cake

I have made Laurie's Fresh Apple Cake for EVERYTHING lately. It's officially my go-to cake recipe now (but when Brian's not around to assist, I have to confess that I don't peel the apples). Sunday was dessert night at small group and they had previously enjoyed the amazingness that is the Fresh Apple Cake, so I figured it was as good a time as any to try something new. 

I went to my one of my dearest and safest cooking resources, allrecipes.com, and found a simple pumpkin cake recipe. 

Ingredients
2 cups white sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups canned pumpkin
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 12x18 inch pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine sugar and oil. Blend in vanilla and pumpkin, then beat in eggs one at a time. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in nuts. Spread batter into prepared 12x18 inch pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
 
I made an easy cream cheese frosting to go with by mixing:

1 8oz. box cream cheese (room temp)
1 stick of butter (softened)
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1-2 t. Vanilla

I thought I would be fancy and make a double layer cake. It fell apart a little and the top layer was wider than the bottom layer. But I managed to put them together just so that you couldn't tell it was a flop. But then I iced it. Have I mentioned that I'm terrible at frosting a cake? But Brian came home and re-frosted it. We make a great culinary team. Brian is wayyyy too meticulous to cook an entire meal. He can do it for sure,  it just takes him forever because he does everything exactly right. But when it comes to tedious finishing touches, Brian is the man. He has saved many a cake for me. 

And this cake was sooo good. At small group, I noticed that our leader's little girl who's about 3 or 4 was eating a piece. I asked her if her cake was good (because kids are painfully honest and she didn't know it was my cake) and she said yes, that it was yummy. So there you go. 

If you live close by, Brian and I have a portion of the cake left and neither of us need anymore. Please come eat a slice and save us from obesity ;)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Brian's Dietary Nutrition Class

This weekend was in Brian's words was "kind of a drag." He had to take up a one hour class at the local community college to graduate on time. Fortunately, the class is interesting. He's going to be taking Dietary Nutrition on Saturdays from 9-2 for three weeks. 

I have a love/hate relationship with this class. I love it because it's affirming a lot of my health-related nagging and it's allowing me to get away with more healthy lunches than ever! Brian's usual lunch bag contains:
  • sandwich (PB&J or turkey and cheese)
  • crackers or whole grain muffin
  • apple or banana
  • carrots
  • raw nuts (walnuts or a mixture of pecans and almonds)
Today's lunch contained:
  • 1 1/2 cup lightly crushed garbanzo beans with garlic, lemon juice, and cumin
  • plain organic yogurt with a banana and honey
  • apple
  • carrots
  • two whole grain pumpkin muffins
The beans had way more fiber and protein than any sandwich I would normally have made. Brian told me that we need more probiotics (according to his new found nutritional knowledge) so that's why I threw in the yogurt parfait. That's another reason why I love this class. Brian is starting to suggest that we are deficient in certain nutrients and observing how the foods we eat affect us.

Brian has been awesome about eating whatever I prepare without complaining, so I'm not saying he was hard to cook for before. But I am excited that we're even more on the same page about our health now that he's taking this class.

However,  I'm not such a fan that Brian has to acquire all this knowledge from 9-2 on our one free day of the week. But all in all, I think it will be good for us in the long run: Brian graduates in December and we have a healthier family.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Date Day

Friday Brian took a half day off from school work and we drove into the mountains to visit St. Mary's Glacier.

Parking was expensive.

And I was sleepy.

But Brian paid the fee and talked me down off the rock.


It was snowy and pretty.

But I had zero energy, so we turned back before we got to the glacier.

And went to Beau Jo's Pizza for an early dinner.

And rented 10,000 B.C.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lord of The Rings

So I like Lord of the Rings. I'm not obsessed and neither is Brian, but we've watched the trilogy over the last three weeks because we ran out of The Office episodes. And I've taken up reading the books because they are epic and while I have the time to read I want to read books that I'd like our (future) kids to eventually read. 

All that to say we've had a lot of LOTR going on at our place lately. As evidenced by how much we talk about it during normal conversations. For instance, the other day I was at dinner with my friend Denise. She's taking on old testament survey class at the local seminary. I told her that I'd started reading deuteronomy and I was really taken aback by how the nation Israel acted in warfare:

Ashley: I mean they went into cities and killed men, women and children. That's what the Orcs did Denise! God's people acted like Orcs!

And another example, last night at dinner I asked Brian if he could have been born in any country besides America which country he would have been born in.

Brian: Gondor. No, wait .... somewhere in Middle Earth like the Shire. Yeah, that's where I'd want to be born.

Ashley: Uh ... I meant somewhere that actually exists.

So there you have it. We are officially weird. After Brian's comment last night I decided to take a break from the LOTR books for a couple days. Sorry to our friends who haven't seen LOTR. You probably didn't understand this post at all.

Snowed In Part ll

I know yesterday I whined about the snow, and I'm not taking it back or anything because it is lame to be snowed in alone. But today I found out that being snowed in with someone else, someone being your sweet husband, is awesome. 


Last night Brian convinced me to go outside and experience the snow. I really don't like being cold or wet, but I did want to see if we got mail, so I agreed to braving the blizzard.



It was daunting.

And I was freezing.

But man was I fashionable. I wore my bathrobe with Brian's fleece overtop . Don't be jealous of my style.

See how deep! Brian's practically a giant at 6 '2 and it comes up to his knees.


All that adventure and no mail. 



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snowed In

I know I've whined about the snowed before, but today is different. Today the snowed has defeated me. It snowed more than six inches last night and it's still coming down. Brian just called to say I shouldn't even try leaving the house. Which if you know what today is, is very sad. 

It's Wednesday. On Wednesday I get my housework done in the morning and head to campus to sit with Brian while he works at the coffee cart in the campus library. I talk to his friends who stop by and write thank yous while he works. And I get a free white chocolate mocha. It's a good day. But not today. Today I am stuck in the apartment. I think I need a pet (insert Jerry's laughter here).

So as a consolation I busted out the old Andy Griffith reruns and watched a couple disks. I forgot how funny they were. And how good the morals of the show are. I saved a couple episodes for when Brian gets home. He says he doesn't like Andy but we'll see.

***Whining Over***

I made Shrimp and Grits last night for dinner. I'd never had grits until Brian and I went to Charleston. Shrimp and Grits is a big deal there so we decided to try them even though we didn't think we would like them. And they were awesome. I tried to recreate them using a recipe from America's Test Kitchen but as usual I ended up just doing my thing because I hate measuring and I didn't have their ingredients.

My own thing went kind of like this:

Toss thawed pre-cooked shrimp in 1 T EVO with salt, pepper, and lemon and let sit. Thinly chop 1/2 onion and saute with minced clove of garlic. When soft, add 1/2 cup of half and half and 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and add 3-4 T of quick (not instant) grits. Add a generous dash of hot sauce (that's for you Em!) and cook on medium-low for 5 minutes. Add shrimp and cook about another 2 minutes.

Brian, who does not like seafood, loved this meal. The proportions I used were too small for the two of us so we had to snack after dinner. Next time I'll make more and add some Cayenne pepper to the Shrimp.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Decorating

I want to decorate for the Holidays. But with this being my very first home, I've been unsure of how to go about it. I don't want to put a dent in our budget to decorate and I don't want to accumulate more things to pack should we move in a couple months. So I've just been sitting on my decorating desire and waiting for something to come to me. And it did. At Wal-Mart.


I don't much care for the Wal-Mart near our house (bad produce) so I've only been twice since we've lived here. But the other day I was close by and needing paper products so I figured it was as good a place as any. And as I pushed my cart up and down the aisles I remembered why we always shopped at Wal-Mart growing up: It's so much cheaper. Diced green chilies are at least .90 and sometimes a dollar at the grocery store but there were only .67 at Wal-Mart. I stocked up. Garbanzo beans were less than a dollar was well. Hominy was also much cheaper. With each aisle I felt certain I was in grocery heaven, so I decided to just check out the whole store.


Going down every aisle is not my style. It's never a good idea really because you buy way more than you need. But on this day it proved to be the answer to my Fall Decoration dilemma. On the holiday aisle they had faux suede leaf place mats for two dollars each. Another aisle over I found a square of brown felt for .25 and I knew I could make something seasonal out of my 4.25 find. 

I already had the tea light holder so I used it. I think a big fall-colored candle would add more dimension and look better overall but this will have to do for now. 


I got the leaf idea from my mother-in-law. She collected leaves and set them on top of a red table cloth and laid a clear covering over that to make a lovely fall table setting. On my Saturday run I walked the last 1/2 mile or so and picked up these leaves. A couple almost got away from me and I had to chase them down. One at a cross street and don't think the on-coming car stopped me from getting my leaf. Brian would've died if he'd been there. 

I'd love to get some more fall/winter decorating tips. Please send them on if you have any.

Hidden Art

My Mother-in-law has an enviable book collection. Every time I go to her house I make a point to scan the shelves for new additions. On my last visit I found a book that has no doubt been on the same book shelf since Brian was born: Hidden Art by Edith Schaffer. I'd heard some talk of this book over on Girltalk a while back when they were doing a fall decorating contest and it piqued my interest. 

Edith begins by pointing to the first and ultimate artist: God. Since we are made in His image and likeness we also contain the ability to create and appreciate beauty. I know what some you are thinking at this point "I don't have an artistic bone in my body." Stop it. Just stop. You are probably very much like me, not too crafty, not too artsy and not to in-tune with your own creativity. If that is the case, then you are overlooking potential that is yours by your very design. Consider with me the ways you could explore some inkling of your dormant creativity.

To be honest I felt pretty silly doing just that this week. My attempt to find my inner artist was spurred by our niece. I water colored with her a couple weekends ago. It was too bad we had to leave because I didn't get to finish my watercolor family photo. When we got back home I bought some watercolors of my own. At the time I had no idea what I would do with them.

Edith says that Hidden Art is making the space you live your own by using simple things (including things you already own and things that are naturally around the area you live like old candles or wildflowers from a nearby field). She suggests "redeeming" items you already have rather than throwing them out.

If you know me at all, you know I cringed at the idea. I hate keeping things we don't absolutely need. The Goodwill pile and the garbage can are two of my very best friends. So I opted for something we already have and and could use in more creative ways: Brian's blank note cards.

I recently bought a "Happy Birthday" stamp so we could make our own birthday cards. Rarely can I find a decent store bought card and when I can I swear they cost upwards of 4 dollars. (I know my mother is shaking her head and thinking "how cheap.") About the time I bought the watercolors I came in need of a sympathy card. And again, it's not that I don't want to spend the money on a card for a loved one but most cards just don't suit me. So I decided to paint a sympathy card. And it was so much fun I painted another and another. And you get the point. I got a little carried away.

And in getting carried away I came across my artistic limitations. You see those small tulip-looking flowers? That is all there is to my Hallmark career. In suggesting that we explore our creative potential I am not suggesting that you plug away doing something you are absolutely bad at. Move on and see if you have some hidden talent elsewhere.

I think I will keep painting even though I do not have much room to improve apart from some kind of instruction. It's a calming thing and nice way to put a personal touch on my friendly correspondence. Let me warn you of one of the dangers of water coloring. Don't use the same looking cup for your water and your coffee. I had to pour out a couple cups of coffee before I chose a different cup.