Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Couple Side

We finally met all our immediate neighbors.  By immediate, I mean the neighbors living in the three apartments closest to ours.  There are couples living in each, so I'm going to call our side of the apartment building "The Couple Side."  Let me give you some first impressions of the Couple Side residents.

Our most immediate neighbors, namely the ones living behind the door that's one foot from ours are J and M.  They've been married since February, so we've already found common ground with them talking about newly-married life and the fact that J graduated from Mines!  I wish I knew the names of their two small dogs.  Dog 1 is a light-colored chihuahua thing (this is probably inaccurate), and dog 2 is similar in breed but with black hair.  We've seen those two dogs being walked more times than I can count, so clearly J and M have a commitment to being good owners.

Yesterday, we met N.  N and his girlfriend, A, live in the apartment right below ours, and their balcony is like a functional greenhouse.  Since moving in I've found the plant-life draping from their porch beautiful and abundant.  As Ashley and I were on our way out of the complex for date night last night, we passed poor N, locked out of his apartment yet smiling happily.  He's an art major, and he'd allowed some other artists to stay at their house overnight, then came home to find they'd left without remembering to return the key.  We're hoping to have them over for dinner sometime.

The last apartment on the Couple Side will be affectionately dubbed "Party Central."  This dating couple has apparently lived here for several years (according to N) and built up quite the collection of loud music and empty beer cans.  Ashley and I often have to remind ourselves that our goal is not to get them to turn down the music, but to help them know the love of Christ.  Surprisingly, I've had quite a few short conversations with them as they've sat on their balcony.  Usually, our deep conversations go something like:

"How's it going?"
"Great!  How're you doing?"
" Real good."
"Awesome.  Later!"

Now that you're in the know, please be in prayer for us.  We are tempted to come home in the evenings and hole ourselves into our apartment, cut off from the neighbors around us.  But, we really want more than that.  Our hope is to develop relationships with all of our neighbors and have lasting connections.  Maybe we can even bless them and talk about God's love and grace.

Thanks for reading!  I'll keep you updated about the Couple Side.

I wonder if N ever got in...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Roundup

One of my favorite blogs Girltalk does a Friday edition called "Friday Funnies." I love their weekly blogs but I usually skip the Friday Funny, not this week though. This story will make you cringe with horror and laugh with delight. It's worth a read. 
I've spent more hours than I wish to count in chiropractor's offices this week. My right side is significantly higher than my left due to misalignment and my neck is so tense that I have 0% curve (a healthy neck should have 30% curve). I'm taking breaks from the computer more often and doing some stretches Dr. P gave me.
At the pounding my friend Chryl gave us Snap peas. They are my new favorite snack! This is coming from someone who cringes at raw broccoli and celery. If you haven't tried these pick some up the next time you're at the grocery.
It's Date Night! This week we are going to the movies. We don't go often. In fact, we've probably only been to the theater together 3 times since we started dating. Brian has high media discernment (aka he doesn't put up with over the top language, crude humor, or sexually graphic material). I really appreciate Brian's leadership in the kinds of entertainment we choose.

We're planning to see "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" by Tyler Perry. I like Tyler Perry films, but I don't think Brian has ever seen one. I wasn't sure I wanted to see it until Bob Waliszewski gave it a good review and he's tough!

I'll let you know how it goes. Hopefully we can get there early enough to get a seat that won't hurt my neck :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Asparagus Victory

Brian has always said he doesn't like asparagus. I love asparagus; it's one of my favorite vegetables. I've tried to convince Brian that if he had my asparagus he would like it, but he insisted that it didn't matter how it was cooked or who cooked it.

Until last night! He ate every bite. One olive oil-coated skillet + a little kosher salt and fresh ground pepper + fresh asparagus = asparagus-loving husband. I felt like a very victorious woman.

May I say Impressed?

I have read a blog post Ashley wrote for the new Young Married Life blog on Focus on the Family's website several times and I am impressed.  I am impressed first of all with Ashley's writing.  Sometimes she is overcritical of her own writing (which I've noticed is common among writers.  Even C.S. Lewis thought himself unqualified at first.)  Then, I look at her work and can confidently encourage her that she does a great job writing about all kinds of things.  Her humor, insights, and style flow well, and I find myself checking our website often to see if she's been posting while I'm on campus.

The second person I remain impressed with is my Mom.  In the blog Ashley wrote you can see her loving compassion and deference to Ashley in all the ways that matter most.  Ashley and I have both felt a sincere effort from our parents to remain unobtrusive, yet still expressing genuine interest and love.

Thanks Mom, and thanks to Dad, and Ashley's parents as well!

The last one I'll say I'm impressed with in this post is Jesus Christ (feels like I'm accepting a Grammy, doesn't it?).  In all seriousness, he's been our close companion, teacher and comforter.  Spending time in the Word in the mornings has given Ashley and I insight into His words and love for us and every other person.  Lately, I've been challenged thinking about how Jesus was right when he said we'd experience many troubles in this life.  The troubles we've found being married and working and studying and trying to know Him are great, but His joy is present even greater for us as a result.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mexican Mishmash

Now that I have the meat from a whole chicken I have to figure out what to do with all of it. I've found use for about half of it today with two new recipes. For both recipes I included the leftovers we brought home from the Pounding.

We have a lot of veggies like pepper slices and celery sticks that Brian and I eat in meals all the time but haven't acquired the taste to eat raw and by themselves. (As a side note, you should have seen us yesterday eating raw broccoli and grape tomatoes for dinner. We had them and by golly I was determined we were going to eat them. Since I can't handle another night of raw broccoli, I had to to do something with them!)

Mexican Mishmash

1/2 chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red and yellow peppers
2 cups (ish) pulled chicken (dark or white is fine, I used mostly dark)
1 can rotel
1 can diced green chilies
1/2 packet of enchilada seasoning
6-8 corn tortillas
refried beans
1 bag of boil in the bag rice prepared (I had boil in the bag on hand from the pounding but I would normally make long grain brown in my rice cooker so whatever you have is fine)
shredded cheddar or mexi blend cheese
1 thinly sliced roma tomato

Cook onion and pepper in skillet with lightly coated olive oil until softened and add the next five ingredients and continue to cook until well heated and softened.

While that's cooking, line the bottom of a casserole dish with corn tortillas and spread refried beans on top of them (there was also leftover bean dip from the pounding that I used for this). For the next layer add the chicken and mixings from the stove top. for the next layer spread an even layer of rice and top with shredded cheese (however thick you want, I kept it on the light side). Place thinly sliced tomatoes on top.

I made this in the morning and refrigerated it until the evening so I had to bake longer that you would if you make it fresh. So I bet you could bake it at 375 for a half hour covered and 10 minutes uncovered.

This was so good! I served it with fresh corn (like I do most meals since corn is so cheap right now). I know I alluded to a soup recipe but I don't have time to put it up right now.

I've got to jump in the shower and head to the chiropractor. Relief is on the way! (And Sarah, don't worry they specialize in muscle work not violent cracking-- very homeopathic. I think Bobby would approve.)

Today is one of my favorite days of the week because I get to work with Brian at the coffee shop this afternoon. I'll work on my computer while he makes drinks. I always get a free drink: white chocolate mocha with an extra shot (for flavor not caffeine).

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Whole Freakin Chicken

First of all, am I allowed to say "freakin"? If I have offended any of my more sensitive readers, please let me know and I'll more be mindful of my slang from now on.

Yesterday I cooked a whole chicken. My friend Emily is quite the homemaker. I always feel like less of a woman when I read her recipe blog posts and the all time low was when I read about how she can feed her and her husband with a whole chicken for a week.

A week ago I bought a whole chicken and put it in the freezer for when I was feeling brave or bored. And since yesterday was another homework catch-up day for Brian, I thawed my chicken.

I skinned the chicken (mostly)

I accidentally let some of the skin fall into the disposal. I figured it would be fine but when I turned it on the whole sink shook. Brian came to the rescue and fished the skin out of the drain. Brian = good husband.

Every website I found to read up on cooking whole chickens said to remove the giblet but none of them told you what that was. Lot of help they were. Brian tried to figure it out with me but in the end he was as clueless as I was. The chicken is cooked, pulled and in the fridge and I still have no idea what a giblet is (if you, dear reader, know please leave a comment).

I washed it and patted it dry. Then covered it with paprika, pepper, salt, rosemary and oregano and put two crushed cloves of garlic in the bottom of the crock and cooked for a little over five hours. All the recipes said to slow cook for seven but it was plenty done.

I'm planning on using the darker meat for an enchilada casserole tonight. I'll let you know how that goes!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Pounding

(Warning: This post will not flow naturally from one subject to the next.)

Yesterday Brian and I were pounded. Not with rain or rocks or anything like that. With groceries! Sandy hosted a Colorado party for the relatives and friends who couldn't make it to our wedding in Tennessee. She had the idea of making it a "pounding" where you pound the couple with food for their pantry that starts with the same letter as your last name. We got Almonds from the Allens and sugar from the Snells and Vegetable stock from the Valentins.

My mother-in-law (the afore mentioned Sandy) is a gifted hostess. Not only does she have a knack for party planning but she exudes true hospitality by making her guests feel at ease and at home. In the times that Brian and I have been able to have people over I've noticed my tendency to put the primary emphasis on presentation and the comfort of our guests secondary. Sometimes the most comfortable thing is not the most "presentable."

For instance, a couple weeks ago we went to dinner at a couple's house who've been married about a year. The husband finished up array of Indian dishes while his wife gave us a tour. (This couple is just as American as Brian and me, they're just more adventurous.)

When it was time to eat he spread out a bed sheet on the living room floor and placed all the pots and pans on pot holders right there in the middle of the sheet. We sat cross legged and ate all of the different dishes out of a rice bowl. It was the most relaxed I'd felt all week. After we finished eating no one jumped up to clear the ... sheet, we just continued to enjoy each other uninterrupted. I have not felt more loved and truly served since we've moved to Golden. I aspire to the kind of people-centered hospitality that both Sandy and our adventurous friends have modeled.

Back to the pounding ...

I met Brian's family's friends from church and his neighborhood. It was great finally putting names with faces. Quite a few of Brian's friends from Mines and my friends from Focus came.

All the different groups meshed nicely and enjoyed the spread. To the right is the dessert table. (I'd never heard of pistachio desserts until I met the Ramseys. I had my doubts in the beginning but now I love pistachio cake.)

Brian and I left the Pounding feeling very full of both food and love. And we're still trying to find pantry space for all our new groceries :)

On a crazy note, tomorrow the high here in 80228 will be 44. That's right Southern friends, say it with me forty-four degrees. The temperature as I write this post is 74 and it is sunny outside. I plan on going through my winter clothes bin as soon as I'm done here.