Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Help Getting Out of Bed in the Morning

Sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) I have a hard time getting up in the morning. This is particularly a problem when I have to wake up to catch an early flight, or something similar, because usually I'm going to bed late and I have the added anxiety that I'll sleep through my alarm.

What works for me is to set my "water alarm" in addition to my regular alarm clock. Chuk makes fun of me for this, but it totally works. I drink a full glass of water right before going to bed and then when the alarm goes off I have extra motivation to get up and out of bed quickly rather than hitting the snooze button.

When you can't get a full night's sleep, how do you make sure you get up on time?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Two Years

Because we celebrated on Sunday, our actual anniversary was low-key. We ate some Five Guys burgers at a park over-looking the Potomac. We read our marriage ceremony aloud to each other after dinner. We went to Trader Joe's and bought flowers and cheesecake. We went home and exchanged gifts. Then we ate cheesecake and watched The Amazing Race.

And of course, we made up. I think re-reading our vows helped Chuk to recognize his wrongs. Reading this helped me realize mine.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Weekend

Tuesday and Friday nights, we had a friend staying with us as he house hunted in the area. He took us out to dinner Friday night to celebrate him finding a house perfect for his family and Chuk getting into grad school. After dinner we came back to our place and I made strawberry shortcake for us all.

Don't let the fact that nobody ever makes strawberry shortcake trick you into believing it's hard because it's not. You know I'd never do anything difficult, right? Just make batch of biscuits and add a little sugar to the batter before baking. I don't even cut them out; drop biscuits are fine. While the shortcake is baking, cut up your strawberries, sprinkle them with sugar and stick them back in the fridge. The whip your cream. Again, not a lot of work if you use a mixer. By now, your shortcakes should have finished baking. Layer the cooled shortcake with the macerated strawberries and whipped cream. Let everyone ooh and ahh over your labors; don't tell them it only took you 20 minutes.

Saturday, we went to Rebecca's game night. The food was delicious and the games were so fun. We brought roasted asparagus and a Caesar salad. There was so much food I can't even begin to tell you what all there was. Then we played Taboo and Smart Ass, which were both big hits. (Some tips about Smart Ass: The box lies. This game is lame as a two player game. For a crowd, it is way more fun to play without the board.) Rebecca also invented another cocktail. It tasted like red hots. Yum! I'll share it soon. Sunday, we walked around the Tidal Basin to look at the cherry blossoms then went out to a pre-anniversary seafood dinner. (Lobster, shrimp, scallops, crab cakes, oh my!)

When did I get crows' feet?!?!

Don't let the pictures fool you; Chuk and I have been in a fight since Thursday night. He made me so mad, but we already had plans for the weekend, so we still hung out even though I'm giving him the cold shoulder. Our anniversary tomorrow should be interesting. Let's all hope he comes to his senses, begs my forgiveness, and then gives me the best present in the world. (Because, you know, that happens so often.) Oh marriage! It's not fun every second of every day, but don't get me wrong, it's still worth it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Free Download: Cherry Blossom Photos

Cherry blossom season (all one week of it) is my favorite time in Washington. Everything is beautiful and smells good. It is truly one of the best things about living here. I love it so much that I got married during cherry blossom season.

If you feel the same way about cherry blossoms that I do, you can download free cherry blossom pictures from National Geographic. We all agree NatGeo employs some of the best photographers in the world, right?

I'm thinking about printing some of the photos out and framing them and putting them on the shelves in our dining "room".

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sometimes I'm Nice

We all want to show our loved ones how much they mean to us, but often we don't have a lot of time or money. Here are some ideas of what I do to make Chuk feel special every now and again.

I make him a big lunch and write a sentiment on the napkin.
(Clockwise from left: Banana, PB & J, celery sticks, strawberries, chips, salsa, napkin)

Write a thank you note to him (because really he's nicer than me.)
This is an index card I folded in half and drew a heart on with crayon. It doesn't have to be complicated to be thoughtful. He must like it because I made it months ago and it is still sitting on his desk.

Last week, I made him brownies from scratch. (They're not pictured because they're long gone.) This recipe really doesn't take very long. There aren't very many better ways to someone's heart than through baked goods.

Do you have any ideas for cheap and quick ways to let someone know they're special?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taking the Sting Out of Sunburns

I'm not going to lecture you; I know you wear sunscreen, but sometimes $h!t happens. The best way to take the burn out of a sunburn is to rub white vinegar onto the burn with a cottonball. I know it sounds crazy, but it totally works. It works even better than aloe.

The second day we were in Florida, Chuk and I both got sunburns that we didn't notice until later in the evening after we had gotten back to the condo. We applied vinegar and slept with it on. We were stinky, but we didn't hurt the next day.

Highlights from Our Florida Vacation

Meeting baby Callie and visiting with dear friends.

The view from our screened in balcony.

Shrimp dinner

Bike ride

Setting sun


Plus lots of family time, swimming, pina coladas, board games, ice cream, rest, and quality time with my love.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Good Deal Alert

Today, Living Social is having a deal where for $10 you can get a $50 Vistaprint gift code. I have bought Vistaprint products for years and have always been extremely happy with their quality. (No one has compensated me to write that, though I wouldn't mind if they did.)

I used Vistaprint postcards as my Save the Dates for my wedding. I used Vistaprint brochures for my wedding program. I use their return address labels every time I send snail mail. We have ordered photo calendars from Vistaprint as Christmas gifts for my dad and father-in-law. Everything I have received from Vistaprint has been of the highest quality and looks very professional.

Chuk and I are already discussing how we could use this deal for gifts. Monogrammed polo shirts? Engraved pens? Personalized stationary? Certainly more calendars.

If you are planning a $100 holiday, looking for frugal gifts, have a small business, are planning an event, or simply like having all your office supplies customized with your picture or monogram (hello, self!) I would highly recommend taking advantage of this Living Social deal.

Spring Brunch

This was not our usual Sunday brunch, but delicious just the same. Perfect for the first day of spring. It's made me look forward to picnics. I can't wait.

Will you think less of me if I tell you the two of us ate all this by ourselves? Would it make a difference if I told you Chuk had gone on a 16 mile bike ride before this? (I'll leave out the part of me sleeping in while he was on said bike ride.) Hey, at least the strawberries were healthy.

Favorite Regional Foods

One of my favorite parts of traveling is getting to eat things I can't get at home. I love food. (Who doesn't?) Here is a list of the foods I make a beeline for when I'm in the places I visit most.

Sourdough bread (Colombo is my favorite.)
Mint It's It
Dungeness crab (preferably in a crab louie salad)
Al pastor burritos
Chicken garlic gourmet pizza

Drive-thru daiquiris
Fried shrimp po-boys
Blue Bell ice cream

Rou jia mo (I loved in Xi'an.)
Biong biong mien (I think I spelled this wrong. It's long noodles in broth with mutton and bok choi.)
Deep fried mushrooms
Broccoli in garlic sauce

What are your regional favorites?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Are You Freaking Kidding Me: Personal Edition

Dear Period,

WTF?! The next time you decide to be six days late (and counting!) there better be a reason.


P.S. You owe me $13. Pregnancy tests are expensive.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's My First Time

Hey! I lost my guest posting virginity. Go check out my recipes for beef stroganoff and vegetarian stroganoff at Lauren's blog, Pineapple Pizza.

As a bonus, here's a memory about pineapple pizza. I grew up in California with health nuts for parents. We rarely got pizza, but when we did, my siblings' and my favorite kind of pizza was Hawaiian, which is ham and pineapple.

Once, when we were visiting family in Louisiana, my mom took us kids out for pizza in New Orleans, which was cause for major excitement. When the waiter came by we ordered a Hawaiian pizza.

He said, "Ya'll must be from California," in the thickest southern twang.

We kids all thought he must be a magician or psychic or something. We were amazed that he had guessed right.

My sister asked, "How did you know?"

He said, "Only people from California order pineapple on their pizza."

For the record, I still like pineapple on my pizza, but the husband, weirdo that he is, doesn't, so I hardly ever get it anymore. Hmmm, now I've made myself crave pineapple pizza.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Easy Dressing

I'm a lazy dresser. I used to really try to look cute, but that's when I had more money and when I was single. Lest you think I'm neglecting my husband, he has made it very clear he likes it when I look a little scruffy. In his ideal world, I would wear jeans, an oversized tee, and a baseball hat every day. To each his own.

The problem with this is that it's a slippery slope from this to pajamas all day. This winter, I've bought a few dresses on clearance and have happily discovered it is easier to wear a dress than it is to wear pants and a top. It's just piece and I don't have to worry about matching.

I've even managed to overcome the leg shaving problem that comes with wearing dresses: cable knit tights. I'm voluptuous and can't wear cable knit sweaters because they make me look chunky, but on my legs, they're fine. They're warm and you can get away with at least a week's worth of leg hair growth.

Shift and wrap dresses in jersey or ponte knit are the most comfortable. It honestly feels like I'm wearing a night gown. I am tempted by sweater dresses, but so far I haven't been brave enough to try one on yet. I'm worried it would cling in the wrong places.

I have this dress and love it. I'm thinking about getting it in another color. I have dresses similar to this and this. They are all very comfortable.

I still wear plenty of jeans and tees to keep my husband happy, but if I have to go out, I feel more pulled together and confident in a dress than I do in sweats and a ponytail.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Off to Florida

We're driving to Florida in a few hours. I painted my toenails for the first time this season. Fun! I also tried on my bathing suit for the first time this season. That was somewhat less fun.

Posting will be light next week.

Roasted Chicken

Chuk had been asking for roasted chicken for a week. For whatever reason, I didn't get around to it until last night, the day before we are leaving for vacation. Smart, I know. (After dinner I just stuck it in a gallon Ziploc bag in the freezer. I'll deal with it when we get back.)

The secret to moist roast chicken is to cook it hot, like 400 degrees. Don't baste it; keep the oven closed as much as possible. Also, put pats of butter under the skin of the breast.

Another tip, for those with small kitchens, I don't have a roasting rack. I use vegetables to elevate the chicken from the pan. It works great and makes the drippings richer. If you use a small pan, like I did above, you may have to drain the drippings once during the cooking process to keep from boiling the chicken in it's own juices. (The key is once. See above about not opening the oven a lot.) Use the drippings as a base for stuffing, gravy, or stock.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fantasy vs. Reality

Since I haven't been feeling well the last couple of weeks I've had this little daydream running in my head. It's totally embarrassing, but thankfully I have an anonymous blog so I can get it off my chest.

Here's the fantasy: I'm pregnant. I am brave and secretly confirm said pregnancy by myself. (Meaning I don't force my husband to go to CVS in the middle of the night to buy me a pregnancy test.) Then, on our second wedding anniversary, at the end of this month, I tell Chuk I'm pregnant. We're overjoyed and I've given the perfect anniversary present I'm so desperately seeking.

We don't tell anyone at first. We keep it just our special little secret. Then we send my mom a Mother's Day card and Chuk's dad a birthday card (his birthday is on Mother's Day) saying something like, "It's hard to find a gift for someone who has everything...but we were able to think of one thing we knew you wanted..." and then have an ultrasound picture in it.

Everyone is happy; I have an easy pregnancy; baby is born on 11-11-11; we all live happily ever after.

Here's the reality: We've stopped using contraception but Chuk is taking a medication that reduces his sperm count meaning it's unlikely I'm going to get pregnant, but each month I have hope that is later dashed. It sucks.

I'm thinking about asking Chuk to consider taking an alternate medication that wouldn't have the same effect on his sperm count. (Sperm is one of the worst words. I'm a little upset I've just used it three times, but none of the alternatives are any better.)

We've also agreed to not "try" to have a baby, which for us means no fertility treatments or taking my temperature every morning. However, I am thinking about tracking my cycle better and maybe initiating at times I think could be optimal. I don't know though. I'm still kind of scared.

I think maybe I just want to have a baby because I'm not doing anything else with my life and I'm trying to give it meaning. Is that a good enough reason to make a person? They are really cute though and I do like them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wish You Were Here

Today is:
1) My mom's birthday
2) International Women's Day
3) Mardi Gras

After weeks of sickness, I woke up in the mood to celebrate. I've spent the afternoon having my own private dance party in my living room drinking a margarita. Then, inspired by my Rad Parties post, decided to send the following email to seven friends.

Do you guys want to come over tonight to play games and drink margaritas?
Awesome! Me too! Let's say after dinner, or 7:00-ish.

P.S. This was a this afternoon brain storm so my apartment isn't company clean and I may or may not be wearing make-up. If you're feeling judge-y or fastidious, maybe you should just come over another time.
I don't think anybody is going to come, afterall, it was like three hours notice on a Tuesday, but at least I'm putting myself out there.

I'm having a great day. I hope you are too.


My pants are thankful girl scout cookies only come once a year and are as expensive as can be.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rad Parties

This first party is one I'm actually invited to. My friend, Rebecca, sent a mass email to a bunch of people that read:


I am hosting a Game night with Mediterranean meze dinner on
Saturday, March 26 at 6:30pm.

I am going to make a least one meze from
every continent that touches the Mediterranean Ocean some here’s my menu:

Greece: Fried Chickpeas
France: Lemon Tart
France: Goat Cheese Tart
Spain: Ham & Mushroom Croquette
North Africa: Almond filo Snake Cake
North Africa: Lamb Kefta
Middle East: Lamb filo Fingers

I am asking you to bring various well known Mediterranean dips, croquettes,
breads, veggies, cheeses, and fruits.

Please bring the games you’d like to play as I have none.

My addy:

My phone:


(I took out her address and phone number.) Rebecca lives in a small apartment with two roommates. Her bedroom doesn't even have a door, for goodness sake. Her kitchen literally has two square feet of counter space. Yet, she finds a way to entertain because strengthening friendships is important. This isn't the first time she's done it either.

Here's how she's making work for her:
1) She came up with a menu that she can manage because many of the dishes can be made ahead. (I couldn't manage it, but we all have different talents.)
2) She's asking her guests for help. She doesn't have a partner to help her, so she's asking her guests to contribute food and games. Personally, I think it's awesome (not to mention brave) to have a game night when she doesn't even own any games.


This next party I was not invited to (presumably because I don't know them, but that is neither here nor there) but I wish I was. Sara and Matt were preparing to have their first child so throwing a party at home was a little too overwhelming for them. Instead, they decided to invite all their friends to Ikea for a scavenger hunt.

I can't even express how much I love this idea. It's cheap; they don't have to clean up before or after the party; it's fun; it's original. AND, it took place at my second favorite store. I'm trying to convince Chuk that we should steal this idea for his birthday in June. You have to click over there to see their scavenger hunt tasks and the AWESOME clue sheets they made for them.

I'm sharing these party ideas with you to demonstrate how other people have overcome common challenges to hospitality and still manage to create a fun time for their friends. I hope that these ideas inspire you to let go of your excuses and to throw rad parties of your own.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Great Minds Think Alike

You know how I've been working on slipcovering my sofa? Melissa, from the blog I Still Love You, used the exact same fabric to recover a bench in her bedroom. I admire her hip style and the ease with which she tackles projects, so I feel great that we are slipcover "twins".

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cotton Anniversary

My second wedding anniversary is at the end of the month. Let's not even get into how fast the last two years have gone. That's a nervous breakdown for another day.

So I've been thinking about what to get Chuk for our anniversary. He has an online wish list, but I don't want to get him anything off it. According to tradition, the second anniversary is the cotton anniversary. Part of me thinks traditional gifts are kind of silly, but part of me really likes them as a prompt to see how creative I can be within the category.

Well, I've been pretty creative. We travel a fair amount. It is hard for Chuk to pack light because he is a big guy and he sweats a lot, so he can't re-wear his clothes and his clothes are big. This is an issue we were already talking about with our upcoming trip to Alaska. Chuk thinks he may have to check a bag on the flights to and from Seattle.

This is a lot of preamble to tell you that last night I bought my husband two pairs of travel underwear for our anniversary. (They're on sale at Amazon.) On the one hand I feel super smart for thinking of such a useful gift, and on the other hand I feel like the most unromantic, lame wife in the world for getting him such a practical, unsexy present.

I think I need to get him something else, but I don't know what. Clothes? Underwear for me? Something bicycle-related from his online wish list? Do you have any ideas?

I have a hard time shopping for men. Do you?