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.