Tuesday, January 26, 2010

About Marriage

I have been married for a little more than four months. Every day is not perfect. Sometimes, our new life is not as exciting, or adventurous, or inspiring as I imagined each day would be.

But I have discovered some things in four short months. Some new and special things. Some little things about marriage that make me laugh, smile, embrace the day, and look forward to the next one.

Marriage is almost always about sharing.
Even if you don't realize you're sharing until you kiss your husband and smell your (expensive) organic vanilla conditioner in his beard.

Marriage is sometimes about compromise.
"I can't stand Jay Leno. He's so cheeezy."
"Well I can't stand Conan, he's so nerdy."
"Fine then, we'll watch Letterman."

Marriage is about spending quality time enjoying activities together.
Sometimes that activity is you struggling to jog your ample "pear" bottom uphill, while your husband drives alongside you on a ATV, drinking a cup of coffee.

Sometimes the gifts are small. Sometimes they come wrapped in funky paper. Sometimes, they're wrapped so discreetly, your might not recognize they're gifts at all. But I love unwrapping them. And on every day of this newlywed journey, God has not failed to leave one on my doorstep.

I'm linking up with Tuesdays Unwrapped at

Chatting at the Sky

"A place that encourages reflection and discovery of meaning in the midst of the mundane."

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Food We Eat When We're Alone

What would you do if your husband left you, for the third weekend in a row, to go to his hunting lease?

The first weekend, you might go visit your dear friend who just had a baby and help her around the house. The second weekend you might put up Christmas decorations. The third weekend, you might begin by cleaning the house, and then through you hands up in the air and say, "SPICY THAI PEANUT CURRY!!!"

Well, that's what I did. With Tanner gone, I decided to treat myself to one of my favorite recipes that Tanner just so happens to strongly dislike. We won't even get into how he has never actually tasted it or really even seen it. He just decided that he hated it when I described it to him. And, well, that was that.

But guess what? Tanner wasn't home last weekend, so I made my all-time favorite peanut curry. And you better believe I ate it for 6 straight lunch and dinner meals. (I had to take a break for breakfast.) After 6 meals of curry, I ingested a bottle of charcoal pills and gained 40 lbs, but that's beside the point.

I first made this when recipe when I lived alone in my temporary apartment in hell on earth Amarillo. It was my respite from constant hurricane-force winds and the lingering smell of cow manure. Most people wouldn't think of curry as a comfort food, but I do. And it was my litle single-life reunion for the weekend since the rest of my lease-widow weekends were decidedly domestic.

What do you eat when your husband's out of town? Pick up some sushi? (Another one of my favorites.) Down nothing but popcorn and coke? If you don't have a go-to yet, and you love peanut butter, try this:

Spicy Thai Peanut and Chicken Curry
2 Tbsp peanut oil
3 Tbsp red curry paste
1 Tbsp sambal oelek (chili paste, looks like this)
1.5 lbs chicken breast cut into chunks (I used leftover turkey last weekend)
2 cups coconut milk or light coconut milk
2 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp brown sugar
4 Tbsp cream peanut butter
3-6 cups cooked white rice (depends how much rice you like with your curry)
crushed peanuts
cilantro, green onion, cucumber slivers, bean sprouts (whatever green you have on hand)

1. Saute peanut oil, curry paste, and sambal over medium heat for a few minutes.
2. Add the chicken chunks and cook through.
3. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, and peanut butter.
4. Simmer for about ten minutes, stirring every once and a while.
5. Serve over white rice, and top with crushed peanuts, lime juice, and
cilantro, green onion, cucumber slivers, bean sprouts or whatever green things you have around the house.

You can adjust the curry, sambal, fish, sauce, brown sugar, and peanut butter up or down about a tablespoon or two until you find the combination spiciness, savoriness, and peanutbuterygoodness that suits you. I like it extra peanutbuttery and medium spicy.

I had no crushed peanuts, but trust me, they make it sooo much better.

This recipe was adapted from HeidiSue's

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How NOT to Spend Your First Married New Year's Eve

How NOT to Spend New Years Eve

Taking self portraits with your dog.

And drinking champagne with your imaginary husband.

How TO Spend the First Moments of the New Year

Shake your sleeping husband at midnight, force him to kiss you, and make him take a self portrait -- with a flash. Enjoy punishing him.

Drink more champagne.

And then some more.

Untwil you decides to go outshide in your bur feet and take pitchers of the moon.

Become convinced your dog is turning into a werewolf. And discuss with him how dog -> werewolf transformations are less impressive than human -> werewolf ones.

(As you can see, I'm a little behind with downloading my pictures from my camera. I won't even try to do a Christmas review post. That's soo 2009.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My "Baby's" Belated Birthday

So, this is a little belated, mostly because I haven't quite gotten in the swing of regular and timely blogging. But, last Thursday was Tanner's 26th birthday. I'll save the post for how the reality of turning 26 cripples me for my own birthday, in March.

Tanner's birthday is really important to me, and I'm pretty sure I care more about it than he does. But for me, it is a heartfelt celebration of a man that I love so deeply. It's a celebration of one of the greatest men to ever live (second, obviously to Jesus and tied with my Dad and all that). January 14, 1984 was one of the most important days of my life, and I wasn't even born yet (I was, however two months from being born, 9-some-odd pounds, and kicking the $&!* out of my mom). I would live 21 years before I even knew this man, who would change my life, existed.

So, I love January 14th. Despite some of the grand things I've planned for Tanner in the past, this year we kept it pretty low-key (to save $ for our early anticipated Canadian vacation). I made him breakfast and his favorite "Tanner Cake," called him 234234 times through out the day, refused to call him anything but "birthday boy," gave him presents, and took him out to dinner at a great place in Weatherford -- my treat.

The things boys want for their birthday...

My favorite part of the night was when Tanner and I sat down and looked at some of his childhood pictures. The first time his mom shared these pictures with me when Tanner and I were engaged was a life-changing moment for me, and permanently altered the way I see Tanner. To see his childhood pictures took me to a new level of loving Tanner that I could never have imagined possible, and can't exactly explain. But, I'll do my best.

Seeing that twinkle in his eye as a baby when he mischievously rummaged through Mom's cabinets; that big toothy smile he flashed before he was self conscious enough to realize he didn't like his smile; that overwhelming expression of excitement over dad's knife collection laid out on the floor or his new GI Joe; that radiance of pride in his baseball uniform; that tender hug with Grandma; that glow of independence atop a horse all alone -- seeing all those things in the pictures gave me the chance to know Tanner and appreciate him more deeply than I could have before. Through those pictures, I was able to understand who Tanner is at heart in a new way, and not only celebrate those past moments, but in a way experience them, which makes me feel almost impossibly close with him in mind and spirit.

The pictures show me that Tanner still is that boy, playful and sweet and vulnerable. But, they also remind me of how much he's grown and changed into this man I know now, responsible and honorable and strong. In 26 years, he's evolved from a child into a man who loves and protects me, provides for our family, plans our future, and strives to do right. And he's managed to maintain a childlike joy and carefree spirit, while also developing integrity and selflessness. OK, my cheeks are all soggy, so I'll just share some pics with you and tell you how I desperately hope I have a little boy someday who looks just like this one.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Random Thoughts

OFFICER -- "Watch your speed. It's a holiday weekend so there are a lot more cops out."
ME -- Why didn't you tell me that before you pulled me over? Like, maybe with your bullhorn?

ME -- (Fighting back tears.) "Tanner, I got a speeding ticket. It's such a stupid waste of money. I'm so sorry." (Sniffle.)
TANNER -- (Laughing amicably.) "Oh, don't worry about it! It's OK. No big deal. I've done it too, and gotten my fair share of tickets. It happens to everyone."
ME -- Huh!? Why didn't you tell me that when I backed into the closed driveway gate with my truck, destroying our rental property?
TANNER -- Because I've NEVER done that.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Eggcellent Way to Say, 'I Love You'

Tanner and I don't often get to enjoy the mornings together, because (when I'm on time) I leave for work a good hour before he does. Which is a shame, because we are both morning people, and really enjoy piddling and puttering around the kitchen and TV room together in the morning.

This morning was an exception, because I went in late to work, and I was able to "make" us some Williams-Sonoma croissants (which means I just put them in the oven). We ate together while we chatted about world news, financial planning, literary criticisms, and apple butter vs. raspberry jelly (he's all butter, and I'm all jelly, which sounds like it should be a Beyonce song).

In the past, on normal mornings, I've made my decaf, eaten a bowl of cereal, and left Tanner to fend for himself. Lately, however, I've really been trying to serve Tanner in little ways -- doin sweet little things just to show him I care. I especially like doing things for him in the morning, since he's still snoring away as I leave at the bootie crack of dawn, and we don't have much interaction. Even though we can't enjoy quality time together most mornings, I still want him to start his day off knowing I care. SO, I've been setting his coffee pot each morning so it's brewed at the time he would be getting ready to head out the door, and leaving him something to eat for breakfast.

Lots of times, though, Tanner takes his breakfast with him in the car, because he's running late or because he's not quite hungry yet. So, I leave out a croissant or a toaster pastry or muffins.

Today however, I found some Hungry Girl recipes in my inbox. They're for mini egg casseroles that seem like a super-quick and easy way to prepare a savory breakfast that's just as easy to take on-the-go. It's all in the microwave, which means no pots and pans to clean, and when you're done, you can grab the mug of yummy, warm eggness and head out the door. I'm thinking I can do most of the work, and then leave Tanner a note to microwave for the final 45-60 seconds to set the eggs. Plus, it's a super easy way to make breakfast for two if you and your spouse don't like all the same fixin's in your eggs.

Here are the recipes, below. I'm also curious to know if any of you marrieds have morning routines, and how if they developed and changed over time?

Chicken Fajita Scramble Mug
PER SERVING (entire recipe): 163 calories, 0.75g fat, 583mg sodium, 12g
carbs, 1.25g fiber, 5.5g sugars, 26g protein

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 oz. cooked skinless lean chicken breast, chopped
1 tsp. dry fajita seasoning mix
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)
2 tbsp. shredded fat-free cheddar cheese
1 tbsp. fat-free sour cream

Spray a large microwave-safe mug with nonstick spray. Add veggies,
chicken, and fajita seasoning. Stir well to evenly distribute seasoning.
Microwave for 1 - 2 minutes, until veggies have softened.

Add egg substitute and microwave for 1 minute.

Add cheese and gently stir. Microwave for an additional 45 - 60 seconds, until
scramble is just set.

Allow to cool slightly. Top with sour cream.

Denver Omelette in a Mug
PER SERVING (entire recipe): 122 calories, 0.75g fat, 702mg sodium, 6g
carbs, 0.5g fiber, 2.5g sugars, 21.5g protein

1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tbsp. chopped onion
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)
1 oz. (about 2 slices) 97 - 98% fat-free ham, chopped
2 tbsp. shredded fat-free cheddar cheese

Spray a large microwave-safe mug with nonstick spray. Add veggies and
microwave for 1 - 2 minutes, until softened.

Blot any excess liquid from veggies. Add egg substitute and microwave for 1

Add ham and cheese and lightly stir. Microwave for an additional 45 - 60
seconds, until scramble is just set.

Veggie Eggs-plosion Mug
PER SERVING (entire recipe): 130 calories, 2.25g fat, 495mg sodium, 10g
carbs, 2g fiber, 5.5g sugars, 17g protein

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
1/4 cup chopped asparagus
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)
1 wedge The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese
Optional seasonings: black pepper, garlic powder

Spray a large microwave-safe mug with nonstick spray. Add all veggies and
microwave for 1 - 2 minutes.

Thoroughly blot excess moisture from the veggies. Add egg substitute and
microwave for 1 minute.

Add the cheese wedge, breaking it into pieces. Stir gently, and then
microwave for an additional 45 - 60 seconds, until scramble is just set.

Allow to cool slightly. If you like, season to taste with black pepper and garlic

These recipes are all courtesy of Hungry Girl. You can find additional egg mug recipes here and here. And, you can sign up for her newsletter, here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

From the Date Night Archives: Horseback Picnic, Part Two

If you missed Part One of this enchanting tail (haha, like a horse's tail, get it? cheeseball), you can read it here. Or, ya know, just scroll down a lil bit.

This whole idea for a romantic horseback picnic originated with a wicker picnic basket I received at my bridal shower in Katy. So, really, this whole resulting mess of a date can entirely be blamed on the Gwaltneys. It's one of those old-fashioned looking wicker baskets, lined with fabric and closed with a metal clasp. For some reason, I always imagined a perfect picnic would include homemade fried chicken, potato salad, and pie, all wrapped in wax paper and tucked away in such a daahhling basket as the one I was now a proud owner of. But, then again, I think my brain is all a muck with cliches because my mental picnic also involves a parasol and Laurie putting combs in my hair before I tell him I'm going to marry Fred Vaughn. Anyways... none of the above manifested in the reality of this date. And because the picnic basket came already packed with assorted cheeses, crackers, wine, and other goodies, that was gonna work juuuussst fine. Sorry, Laurie. Next time, chicken fry.

Tanner and I (well, mostly I) had been talking about this picnic for a while, but actually decided to do it on the spur of the moment one boring evening when we realized that it would be winter pretty soon and picnics are not so fun when it's 38 degrees. We were hoping to time the actual picnic for sunset, cuz duh that's soooo romantic, so we rushed outside to get the horses ready. Things seemed destined for perfection, because instead of running around the pasture in a infuriating game of "catch me if you can," the horses waited patiently while we haltered them and tacked up. I stuffed my saddle bag full of multiple blanket choices and an assortment of gloves, sweater, vest, and jacket options; ya know, in case the plates shifted and we were thrown into alternating hemispheres at random. I rolled up a pallet, mounted up, had Tanner tie on the picnic basket, and we headed off down the road.

That, is when I realized that with every step Stetson took, that precious (and surprisingly heavy) picnic basket was going to whack me not so gently in the leg. That is when I began wondering if wicker crosshatch motifs imprinted in the skin might come in fashion. That is when I realized Stetson and I could go no faster than a walk, to prevent my shin from breaking in half. And, that is when I realized that Pepper and Tanner were doing everything BUT walking at a leisurely pace.

You see, the last time Tanner rode Pepper, Britney Spears was dating Justin Timberlake. Despite the fact that Pepper has thrown us both, breaking my pelvis and nearly dislocating Tanner's shoulder, Tanner just kinds hops on him with that foolish fearless male attitude and heads off down the kaliche road. Did I mention it's a road made of hard, jaggedy little rocks? Did I also mention that Pepper seemed to not recall how to steer or maintain a consistent speed? Hand holding as we piddled down lovers lane was apparently not an option. Instead, as we headed down the road toward our neighbor's pasture, I was left in a cloud of kaliche dust, as Tanner and Pepper waged an epic battle of man vs. animal. They zigged, and zagged, and circled, and gallopped, and backed, and side stepped, and all the while, Tanner artfully painted the dimming sky with his colorful expressions -- none of which I will repeat here. I sensed the romance dwindling as Tanner's face, red with frustration, led our mismatched party through the pasture like a beacon. Me plunking along on my antisocial, Eeyore of a horse, who was trying repeatedly to yank the reins out of my hands so he could snatch grass, and Tanner and Pepper rapidly burning a trail trail straight to.... well, ya know.

So we trespassed down to our neighbor's pond (well, they told us about a year ago that we were welcome to ride there, and we decided to belatedly take them up on it), because I thought that would be a romantic spot. We all made it there in one piece, unpacked out gear, and hobbled the horses (which involves tying their front two legs together so they can only take tiny little steps).

It was looking like things might calm down. Tanner had exercised the limits of his vocabulary, and was starting to cool off. So we plopped down at our spot and opened up our treasure trove of goodies. After taking turns screaming at the dogs, begging them to stay out of the pond, and then after they didn't listen, employing mixed martial arts techniques to keep them from tracking muck all over our blanket, we uncorked the wine and started eating.

That's when I realized that we were not the only lovers who found this particular picnic spot enticing. We were joined by hoards of mosquito lovers, and apparently all of their resulting offspring. While biting into an olive, I notice a dingy halo hovering above Tanner's head.
"Ummm.... Tanner. Is that a thought cloud?"

"Are there a bunch of mosquitos circling my head?"
"Well.... there's like a whole mosquito situation thing going on above your head."

Although he claimed he was not being bitten, the little bug cloud stayed perched above his head, and only his head, for the rest of the evening.

As it turned out. We perfectly timed unpacking the picnic basket with the sun setting. It was a beautiful sunset. Magestic. Awe-inspiring.

And it lasted about 2 minutes.

Then, it was pretty much dark. I mean, we could see, but barely. I could see just enough to witness Pepper's head pop up in the air, ears alert, eyes buggin', nostrils flared, etc. Who knows what he saw, or thought he saw, or might have heard. But he was gone in a flash. Stirrups flapping at his side and tail in the air, he took off like, well, like he always does. This time, though, he was three-legged.

If you've never seen a horse run with hobbles on, it's a morbid combination of hilarious and terrifying. Their two front legs become one, and they paw forward in an awkward plop, with the hind following behind. And since horses carry most of their weight on their front end, when you give them one leg to balance on as they run, it's a lumbering, frightful spectacle to say the least. And Pepper wasn't just hopping along, I mean he was booking it, clodding up and down uneven terrain in the dark, teetering on the verge of falling and breaking his neck. And of course, Stetson had no choice but to follow suit. I'm not sure why, but Tanner retrieved the horses, brought them back closer to our picnic site, and sat back down, hoping to continue our picnic in the dark. Of course, they thundered off again a few minutes later, running even deeper into the farthest corners of our neighbors' property.

So, in the dark, we stuffed our faces with the last of the hummus, gathered up all our junk in our arms (including my wardrobe options), and trekked through the hay looking for our trustworthy mounts.

On the way home, Pepper exerted the last of his engery, again going about a million miles a minute down the trail. There was a fleeting moment, between Tanner running Pepper in circles, when we crossed paths and shared a kiss. And maybe that's why, after it all, when we had returned home and I had ungrafted the seat of my pants from my skin, I started planning our next horseback picnic.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I'm NOT Dead

Dear millions of people who read my blog Mom,

I am not dead. I was not electrocuted through my laptop while blogging during one of the North Texas thunderstorms I am convinced will produce a twista (said like Hickory in The Wizard of Oz) in our backyard. I did not suffer a heart attack during the resulting panic attack that ensued, when I realized we do not have an interior closet large enough to hold myself, my husband, the dogs, the cat, and the horses. I did not slip on my greasy kitchen floor and knock myself unconscious while making an oversized batch of snickerdoodles to calm my nerves after the terrifying ordeal.

Nope, I'm still alive. And I promise I have a very funny Part 2 to the equally HILARIOUS post dated December 14. That was weeks ago. Weeks before I tried to prove to the world that one person can single handedly produce a Christmas dinner from scratch in a kitchen the size of a pill box. Ooops. I have a lot of catching up to do.

And I promise, I will delight your minds and entertain your... yeah, minds again, (humor me), this very night, when I post the eagerly anticipated, "From the Date Night Archives: Horseback Picnic, Part Two."

If I don't post tonight, someone please come to my house to check on me. Because any of the above tragedies definitely may have have ensued.

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