Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2008 started pretty early in the morning for me. I had trouble going to sleep on New Year's Eve. We had a party and then I just couldn't go to sleep. Our house was filled with girls in the wedding party and I had about a million thoughts running through my head. Not only did I have my wedding the next day, but we also were about to leave for Bulgaria and we didn't have our visas yet. I had a crazy two weeks coming up.
We started off New Year's Day with pancakes that my Daddy made for the girls and me. Then, we all hustled to start getting ready for the wedding. We needed to be at the church at noon and there was a lot to do!
The rest of the day flew by. Our wedding was gorgeous, our reception was loads of fun and we might have stayed all night if it had not have started snowing around 7:00. My mother kicked us out of our reception so that our guests would feel free to leave.
I cried a little bit during the ceremony, but then held it together until I had to say goodbye to the Princess before walking out of the reception. My mother broke that up too because I was a bit heartbroken at not being able to see her until her wedding in June.
We finally made it out, I smiled for the cameras and we drove off and forgot all of our stuff. We had to secretly drive back to the reception and have a bridesmaid bring our luggage to us.
The rest of January is sort of a blur now too. We went to San Diego for 10 days, eventually received our visas, ate a lot of Moe's queso (leftover from our rehearsal dinner) and flew to Bulgaria on January 13th. I freaked out a lot in Heathrow and Nathan got sick almost instantly upon arriving in Bulgaria.
In February, I was really hungry and was accepted to graduate school in Boston. At the end of February, we flew to France.
March began with 10 days in France. I loved, loved, loved France, y'all. I can't wait to get back. We also spent a very long night wide awake in Rome. In Greece, someone asked me if English was my first language. I had a Red Letter Day when I got accepted to another grad school, received a tax return and my brother secured our apartment for us all in one day! I went on a day trip to Melnik a famous Bulgarian winery and ate lots of mish mash. We went to Istanbul for the weekend and saw a lot of machine guns and ate a fish sandwich that left me without an appetite for a week. My parents came to visit and we explored Phillipi and Kavala with them. March was a busy month. I'm tired just reliving it.
April was decidedly calmer. Early in the month, Nathan had a most unpleasant wake up. Every time I tell this story, I start laughing uncontrollably. I started reflecting on the future. A shiny, new, German grocery store opned up next to us and I was a lot less hungry. I really missed everyone back home, so I posted a lot of wedding photos. I wrote a travelogue for The Blue Banner. At the end of April, we celebrated Easter Eastern Orthodox style.
May was a great month! We said goodbye to Bulgaria and we flew home. One of the Absolute BFFs got married and we had a blast at her wedding! We packed and packed and packed some more.
June 1st we moved into our apartment in Boston. Oh, and I got a job! Also, our best couple friends got married. It was beautiful!
In July, we celebrated Independence Day downtown and took some, um, crazy pictures of ourselves. The big news of July was that Nathan got a job!
In August, we went to the Cape. My Sorority Little Sister came for a visit. I tried out a knitting group that wasn't for me.
In September, I coined a word--Bostontacious and Yankee BFF came to visit.
In October, we went apple picking, A and C came to visit, and we went to the Head of the Charles regatta.
In November, we voted with few choices, I turned 23, Baby Girl turned 6, and I made fondue in a pumpkin and after Thanksgiving we decorated for Christmas.
We closed out 2008 in December with soul searching, ranting, and lots of snow and bagels.
I'm so glad that I have a written record of this year. It was quite a doozy--lots of traveling, learning how to be married, moving to a new city, getting our first jobs. Here's to a more settled, less crazy, but still fun 2009!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
This is one of my favorite Christmas ornaments. Our serving dishes are the Arthur Court Magnolia pattern and this is an ornament from that collection:
Here's one of our Alma Mater ornaments.
This is for southern girls like me who didn't know snowflakes actually looked like snowflakes! I had never seen flakes this big before.
Another Alma Mater ornament. This one with our lovely mascot Rocky on it.
A close-up of the wise men and camel in our nativity set.
And here's the shepherd and donkey.
OK. Now, how to make bagels. I use the dough hook on my KitchenAid. You can definitely make them without a large mixer, but I never knead by hand anymore. It's so much easier and less messy with a Kitchen Aid!
Combine 1 1/2 cups warm water, 3 Tbsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. yeast in the bowl. Let is sit and froth for a while. Then add 4 1/4 cups bread flour and 1 Tbsp. salt. It'll look something like this once it is all combined:
Cover the bowl with a towel and place it in a warm, draft-free place. It will double in about an hour and look something like this:
Make little balls of dough and let rest for 10 minutes while you boil 2 quarts of water and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Then, you form the dough balls into bagel shapes. I like to make a hole in the balls with my thumbs and work out from there. Nathan likes to roll the dough into a snake and join the ends.
Drop the bagels in the boiling water and boil 45 seconds on each side.
After the boiling, put the bagels on a wire rack to drain (I put my rack on top of a cutting board).
Brush the bagels with an egg white and add your toppings (salt, cheese, sesame seeds, etc).
Nathan wanted parmesan bagels for his birthday. Yum.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. As you can see, this recipe yielded 9 bagels that we in-between a regular bagel size and a mini-bagel size. You could probably make a dozen mini-bagels (1 bread serving each) or 6 regular size bagels (2 servings each).
And now for the snow! It snowed and snowed and snowed this weekend. Saturday was bitterly cold, but yesterday was around 32 degrees so we ventured out. Here's the view out of one of the windows yesterday at church.
And here is our church surrounded by lots of snow. It didn't stop snowing from Friday afternoon until Saturday night and then it picked back up again yesterday morning and snowed all afternoon!
Here are some pink snow people on Boston Common. It was so beautiful on the Common. I loved it.
Here is Boston's ginormous Christmas tree all covered in snow.
And here are Nathan and I on the Common. Isn't my hat crazy? I bought it a few years ago on the streets of New York. Right after this picture, we went inside Starbucks to warm up a bit and then walked around downtown for about another hour. It was so beautiful to see everything covered in snow!
Oh, and here are pigeon tracks in the snow. I hate pigeons more than anyone else I know, but these tracks were adorable.
Our family birthday plans were canceled yesterday because the snow turned to sleet and the roads were not too clear, but we'll celebrate tonight at UBurger. Then, only one more work day until my fabulous Christmas break. I won't be back in the office until January 5th!
Friday, December 19, 2008
Actually, I haven't seen anything yet, but word on the street is that we're out of here at 11.
I'm so excited I'm practically vibrating.
I am going to clean, drink some mint sipping chocolate Nathan got for me, snuggle with Miss Marple, watch the 90s remake of Christmas in Connecticut, whip up some yummy pasta for dinner, bake some bagels for Nathan's birthday breakfast and maybe him bake him a birthday cake.
As soon as I get home, it is going to be a great day. Apparently, getting home is the hard part. Last year it took about a million hours for people to get home from the first storm.
I promise to post pictures of snow, bagel making, and birthday celebrations! Hurrah!
Also, in a totally unrelated note, Nathan's co-worker (who is actually my friend too!) and I just had the following conversation:
Alicia: your husband = hilarious
biega asked him if he wanted a lanyard with an id holder on the end
and his reply was "do you even know me?"
Rachel Ann: Haha
Did he accept or not?
Because apparently I don't know him.
Alicia: he put it around his neck
i was confused about what he meant, too
i don't know him
Rachel Ann: Me neither.
Alicia: yeah, oh well
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Our first storm arrives tomorrow with the first flakes around 11am. The heaviest snow looks to fall from about 2pm until 9pm. In fact, this storm look eerily familiar to a storm last December--the one where it took 6 hours to go 5 miles. So if that was you last year, heads up, it may be very similar. Any holiday shopping/dinner dates planned for Friday evening might want to be bumped to this evening. By late Friday night most towns have 6-10" of snow---lightest north, heaviest south.We were supposed to watch the Baby Girls tomorrow night so Bro and Sis-in-Law could go to a Christmas party, but now the party has been rescheduled. Guess I'll be cleaning the apartment and making lots of yummy food for Nathan's birthday.
Get excited! 6-12" of snow....that won't melt until April.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I am totally okay with saying "Happy Holidays!" or "Season's Greetings!" when you are in a situation where you don't know if the person celebrates Christmas or not. I'm okay with that. As a side note, I get giddy if and when someone wishes me a Happy Hannukah. I love it.
What really upsets me though is when people say holiday and you know they mean Christmas. For instance, I just got an email that said I had two more days to order gifts to guarantee holiday shipping. Um, Hannukah starts Sunday night, so I doubt I can order gifts until Friday and have ground shipping get them to me by Sunday. They totally meant Christmas and didn't say it!
Last night, Nathan and I made all kinds of Christmas goodies to take into work. I was searching everywhere in the store for bags of Christmas M&Ms. I finally found them in a separate display at the front of the store, but they were labeled holiday M&Ms. Um, it seems to me that holiday M&Ms should be red, green, blue, silver and maybe even brown and orange** if we need to include Kwanzaa (but, seriously, a TENET of Kwanzaa is that you don't buy the gifts!). I was so upset that they actually meant Christmas M&Ms but wrote Holiday M&Ms that I wouldn't buy them. I bought two bags of regular M&Ms and sorted out the red and green ones.
What bothers me is that I actually celebrate Christmas, baby Jesus and all. If you don't, then I feel you shouldn't have ownership over my holiday and get to decide things about it. If you don't want baby Jesus involved, then you should tell people you celebrate beginning of winter gift giving. Make up a better name if you want. Then, come up with colors and ask Mars to market M&Ms to you. That way, we can buy Christmas, Hannukah, Beginning of Winter Gift Giving Holiday and anything else you want M&M blends.
**I think this mix of colors (except for silver which would be an awesome standard color) is a regular bag of M&Ms. Maybe we could solve this by doing away with seasonal blends all together?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Our spend very little money on food in December challenge is going well. Tonight is my company's fancy dancy Christmas party, so no spending money on food tonight! I'm wearing a Lilly wrap dress and my new kicky boots.
Hopefully, I'll remember to take some pictures of the two of us to put up here. I took some fun photos this weekend, but forgot to load them on BabyMac, so you can't see those yet. I really want a Digital SLR, but I'm having so much fun playing with the ISO and macro settings on my point and shoot digital that it's not too big of a deal. Who knew my tiny little Kodak EasyShare could do such fancy things?
Friday, December 12, 2008
Unfortunately, I had to leave the house today. It is pouring buckets in Boston and, frankly, my commute was less than stellar.
Thankfully, I have a space heater under my desk so I was dry and toasty within a matter of minutes of arriving at work.
I have a headache, but it doesn't seem to be too big of a deal. I mean, it's Friday. Isn't that reward and pleasure enough? I'm wearing my absolute favorite outfit of the moment: trouser jeans and this jacket I found in Old Navy clearance for next to no money that looks like a million bucks. Seriously--people who have never commented on my appearance EVER made a point to tell me I looked nice when I wore the jacket for the first time. Love it.
Last night after watching Christmas in Connecticut (a gem my parents and I stumbled upon last Christmas), I showed Nathan all of my home design inspiration pictures. Well, not all of them. He could only handle about 15 or so kitchen pictures before he gave up and told me to decorate absolutely however I wanted--for the rest of our lives! Nathan hates change and so resists whenever I try to bring some changes into our home decor. I think it finally clicked for him how this is one of my biggest passions, so he decided to let me do whatever I want. He becomes used to changes quickly. In fact, I'm not sure he could describe to you most of the things I've done in our apartment. He just lives there, you know. It's very different from me.
Compromise is such a funny thing. I used to be terrible at it. I know I sound like a broken record talking about how much I've changed since I was married last year (almost one year! whoa!), but it's true. I think I'm a much better person. Much easier to live with and be around. Marriage has most certainly changed me for the better. I'm actively investing in a relationship that I used to just let be. I give up a lot more. I actually agree to compromises and I'm a lot less passive aggressive. I'm happier about everything in my life more. I truly think that being married, more so than any other event in my life, has changed me for the better spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally.
I think this might be one reason why I don't miss college the way other people do. I really don't miss the person I was in college. I was self-centered (to the max!), materialistic, petty, gossipy. Not that I don't fall prey to all of those things still, but I'm at such a better place now. The friends I talk to regularly (and the ones I don't talk to you regularly but still love with all my heart--that's you P and EC) are the ones who actually inspire me to not be so base. Leaving the country right after getting married helped a lot with this. I had almost no contact with anyone from school except for some emails between my Absolute BFF and the Princess. I learned a lot about rolling with the punches, being my own person and making do with what I have.
I've been missing Europe a lot lately, but I think we've done a pretty great job at retaining a lot of what we learned about ourselves in Bulgaria. For one thing, I never order a drink larger than 12 oz. at a coffee shop. Thank you, Bulgaria, for shaving thousands of calories out of my diet. We still don't have a car and, in fact, I think it would be a bigger hassle for us to have a car at this point in our lives. We live in a cozy little place with just enough space for us. We don't lose each other. I have about a 1/4 of the clothes I had at this time last year. I learned to live with walking in the rain, with public transit and with getting lost on foot.
Nathan and I always joke that are the best Christmas present that either of us have ever received, since we started dating in December, were engaged Christmas morning and were married New Year's Day. He's certainly the best gift I've ever received.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Cari tagged me to list ten things you might not know about me and five obsessions I have. Here goes...
Ten things you might not know about me...
1. I once correctly guessed the number of pickles in the giant jar at the NC State Fair and won 12 free jars of pickles.
2. Nathan and I will celebrate 6 years of dating on Sunday.
3. I only drink soy milk. I cook with milk and use skim milk on my cereal, but I can't drink it plain.
4. This is because milk ALWAYS smells bad to me. Always. I think the smell of milk is disgusting.
5. I am very much a morning person. I like to wake up, get on with my day and then relax after 1 pm. Unfortunately, this pretty much never happens since I work 8:30-5:00.
6. I have a nasty habit of buying the wrong size shoe. It's totally illogical. Totally.
7. I always have to have one foot peek out of the covers at night or I feel like I'm suffocating.
8. I worry more about Miss Marple than I should. Way more. I'm always worried that she resents us for leaving her during the day and that maybe, at her core, she's really sad. Nathan always reminds me that cats actually enjoy being alone and he points out that she doesn't show any signs of depression, but I worry anyway.
9. I love Coffeemate creamers (the refrigerated kind). My favorite part of orientation leaders' retreat in college was coffee in the morning with that creamer. I have never bought it to have around because it contains about 3 million calories and unidentified chemicals per teaspoon, but it is so, so, so yummy.
10. I have a 5-year natural living plan, but I'm not sure when I'll actually see it to fruition. Right now, I do what I can that doesn't make Nathan squirmy. We'll see what happens.
5 obsessions I currently have:
1. Origins Ginger Essence perfume. I've been wearing this perfume since I was 16. It's the best. I love it.
2. Fiber One Caramel Delight cereal. It's amazing, y'all.
3. Looking at pictures of other people's homes. It's pretty much my favorite thing to do. Whenever we are downtown, I get Nathan to walk with me down Comm Ave so I can try and see inside people's houses. Flickr works for this too (and is less creepy).
4. Trying to spend as little money on food as possible. It's a fun challenge we have going this month. We're have some spendy dinners for Nathan's birthday and our anniversary, so we figued we'd cut back on other things.
5. Formatting and re-formatting our schedule for the few days we're in NC for Christmas. I'm tired already. No joke. I made tentative plans yesterday for an early morning (emphasis on the early) December 26th breakfast before one of the Absolute BFFs has to drive back to Wilmington. At least it will all be worth it AND I don't have to go back to work until January 5th!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Thankfully, the winds have died down again and Monday night I entered into a stage of boundless optimism. Seriously--I can't stop smiling and all my thoughts have turned from worry to excitement.
I'm not really sure what triggered the change, but I'm hoping it stays like this. The good news is that many, many things are contributing to the continuation of my happiness:
Swap packages are so fun to open!
Usually on my workouts, I do 3.25-3.5 miles on the elliptical. Yesterday, I did 4 miles in the same amount of time. I was jazzed.
Watching Christmas in Connecticut (one of my favorite Christmas movies) with Nathan and Miss Marple while sipping cocoa.
It is 60 degrees here in Boston. 60 degrees!
I'm wearing green shoes. Doesn't green just make everything better?
We're in the Advent season. Christmas is coming. People are actually nicer, it seems, and everywhere you turn you are constantly reminded of just how blessed you are.
The optimism is for real, y'all. This morning I hopped on the wrong bus, ended up at a different square than the one I work in so I had to hop on the T, ride that for a while and then walk a bit to work. It didn't phase me at all. In fact, I was so excited to have this time to walk around in the 60 degree weather. I just soaked it in.
I have absolutely no idea what's coming up on my horizon, but I'm excited and I hope I stay that way.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
It snowed yesterday or, rather, it flurried heavily. Being from North Carolina, I was so delighted to find out that snowflakes can be big enough that they actual look like snowflakes. Like you cut them out of paper, y'all! I took pictures of them. I was fascinated. I actually cried at how beautiful it was to see my hair decorated with what looked like little stars.
Let's call that science lesson number one.
Lesson two is that cats have belly buttons or, at least, something similar where the umbilical cord was attached. In attempting to Google this after Miss Marple would not let me find her belly button, I learned way, way, way too much about cat birth. Gross, y'all. I will never breed cats--that's for sure.
What's crazy is that I'm absolutely fascinated by human birth. Completely fascinated. I read books about midwifery and whatnot, but I can't handle the cat birthing descriptions I stumbled upon.
Anyway, not much else of note happened this weekend besides my emotional outburst at the T stop on the way to church over snowflakes and my disgusting venture into the realm of cat birth. Oh yeah, and my husband making fun of my lack of scientific knowledge about snowflakes and the fact that all mammals have an umbilical cord involved in their birth process.
Friday, December 5, 2008
I feel the need to share the news that as seriously added to my mindless entertainment. Netflix now offers watch instantly for Mac users!
This is fabulous. Our free internet paired with our $14 a month Netflix now gives us all the entertainment possibilities of cable.
Last night we watched a documentary on the font Helvetica. Don't make fun of me. I love design. It was awesome.
A whole new world just opened up. I predict a good number of 1950s movie musicals in my future.
This week has been insane. I haven't cooked at home one night this week, but we haven't been going out to eat either. That's right--we've been eating toast and salad.
I'm hoping to do a little cooking and a bit of baking this weekend. We're trying to spend next to nothing on food this month. We're frustrated by the fact that people whose families are much larger than 2 people spend more money on food than we do. It's been great so far. We actually have some food in the pantry that we've been eating.
Still, I'm sure we'll find ourselves at Bagel Rising tomorrow morning for our Saturday morning bagels. This place is amazing! We both get bagels, Nathan gets OJ and I get chai for less than $10. Seriously! Love it. It's also a certified eco-friendly restaurant which we think is stellar.
Our other big plans include hitting Bazaar Bizarre after church on Sunday. It's like real-life Etsy. I'm so pumped!
Oh, and you here's a fun deal for you. Today the Daily Deal at Calista Cove is L.Erickson bow headband. L.Erickson headbands are the best headbands I've ever worn. Absolute BFF was skeptical of its comfort, so wore it for a day when she came to Boston. She agrees with me--you could nap in this headband. They're wonderful. Anyway, today only they are $22 a piece, so snatch one up if you can!
While you're there, you could enter the card contest going on. If your card receives the most votes, you win a $100 gift card to the boutique. Wow!
Anyway, my dears, I'm off to a have a wonderful day. How will I know it will be wonderful? Well, I woke up when I supposed to leave for work. I didn't have time to do my hair so it is fuzzy-looking and pulled back with a bobby pin. In my haste to leave, I forgot my gym bag. I was hit on this morning in the lobby of my building. When he found out I was married, he kept saying "You is married? You is married?" You see, there is nowhere to go but up. Have a great weekend!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I also purchased and wrapped Nathan's birthday present. I have already started planning what I'll be baking for him and where we'll go out to eat. Speaking of that, does anyone know a good wing place in Boston? That's what he wants for his birthday dinner. As a bonus, it would be great if the restaurant served something I could eat too.
As an aside, I have still not received my birthday present from Nathan. Whatever it was, it arrived broken and had to be returned. He's having trouble finding another one AND won't tell me what it is.
If I don't receive it until February, then this might turn out to be the longest birthday ever (measured of course from the time you receive your first gift/celebration to the time you receive the last).
I didn't bother finding someone to cut my hair up here because I made it through college with every 5 month haircuts and I figured I could keep it up.
The end is in sight. Really. It is. The Saturday after Christmas I'm having my hair cut and my eyebrows done. I'm thisclose to counting down the days.
I'm had it up to here with my hair. I always get haircuts that grow out nicely over 5-6 months. Believe me, it can be done. My hair rarely, if ever, looks awkward.
My problem is that I'm sick of having my hair this length. I want it short again. I need it short again. It looks better short.
23 days, y'all. 23 days.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Last year, he tried to go the practical route (sans list from me) and he bought me a fanny pack. An honest-to-goodness $40 fanny pack with a bike chain running through it. It weighed about 5,000 pounds and was bought with the sweetest of intentions that I would wear on it on our 6 month European honeymoon.
The boy needs a list. He craves a list. Without a list, his logic takes him to fanny packs. Needed? Maybe. Top of the line? Definitely? A good Christmas present for your soon-to-be wife? Not so much.
I'm making him the mother of all lists. Since I like the idea of a handmade Christmas, I'm trying to fill the list with handmade wares and etsy stores.
So what's your favorite etsy store? Do you have an etsy store I should check out?
Let me know!
Preppy Holiday Swap
I was completely blown away by her package. It was incredible, y'all! I have two colors of ribbon that say Happy Holidays from Rachel Ann on them. Amazing!
Last night I was reading this month's Better Homes and Gardens and they had an article about really practical gift baskets that are easy to put together. One basket is for the person who loves to wrap. How cute would some of Kristen's customized ribbon be in such a basket? You can see and buy her wares at her etsy shop, Taylor Made Designs.
Thank you, thank you, Kristen!