Wednesday, October 29, 2014

it's only a matter of time until i get my own show on the food network

Well, I'm coming to you live with the news that tonight I made the best dinner of my life.  Stuffed peppers, which sounded easy enough when I was planning meals on Sunday, but when I took a good look at the recipe today and saw that it was twenty seven steps long and rated FOR THE INTERMEDIATE CHEF, I got nervous.

 (Despite the clock on the oven, it was not 11:25 when I was cooking this.  We are not nocturnal.  It's just that the power goes out here so often that we've given up resetting the clocks.)

I pressed on and when Matt walked in the door after work the house smelled fantastic.  I was on the edge of my seat as he took his first bite.  "This is delicious," he said.  "In fact, it tastes just like my grandmother's."

Well, HOT DOG.  This culinary success could not have come at a better time because I am currently angling for an early retirement so that I can become a stay at home wife.  So far Matt isn't on board with that plan because we want to buy a house someday and will therefore need a pesky down payment, but imagine GOURMET DINNERS EVERYDAY.

Also, I needed to redeem myself from a very unfortunate kitchen incident that occurred a few weeks ago, that I will now explain in great detail.

We had a family event to go to at Matt's parents' house, and we were in charge of dessert.  I decided to make a pound cake, because they are delicious but simple to make.

Or so I thought.

The party was at noon so I woke up early to start baking.  I was just about to pour the batter into the pan, but before I did, I added some chocolate chips to jazz things up.

And by some, I mean an entire bag.

Listen, I blame the spontaneous artistic license on my Kitchen Aid mixer.  I put that thing out on the counter and suddenly I fancy myself a gourmet pastry chef who can alter recipes on a whim.

I dumped the chocolate chips in, gave everything a good stir, plopped it in the oven, and asked Matt to take it out when the timer beeped as I headed for the shower.

This is where things went south.

When I got out of the shower, Matt reported that the center of the cake had not cooked one bit, so he put it in for another five minutes.  Well, I checked that cake every five minutes for the next half hour, until the outer edges were completely burnt and the middle was still completely liquid.

I threw the pan onto the stove top, slammed the oven shut, and went into the living room to ask Matt if he could go to the grocery store and buy some premade cookie dough so we didn't show up to the party empty handed.

There may or may not have been tears accompanying the request.  I've never seen him leave the house faster.

He returned a short time later with four packages of cookie dough and got to work slicing and baking. I finished drying my hair (a girl's gotta primp) and walked out of the bedroom to see the kitchen counters covered in cooling cookies, and Matt on the patio, grilling my pound cake.

He still had hope that he could save it.

When he accepted that it really was a goner, he brought it inside to throw away.  As he dumped it out of the pan, he said, "Lady...did the recipe call for these chocolate chips?"

"No," I said, "I added them myself to make it a little jazzier."

"Okay," he said as slowly turned the pan over.  "How many did you add?"

"The whole bag!"

"You can't just add a whole pound of chocolate chips to a cake with such a light batter.  The chips probably all sunk to the bottom which means that this thing would never fully cook."

Sure enough, upon further inspection of the ill-fated pound cake, that's exactly what had happened.

Also, wow, that's a lot of chocolate chips.

We packed up the cookies and went on our way to the party, and as we walked in I said, "Okay Matt, don't tell A SOUL about the pound cake incident."

"It never happened," he responded.

Not only does Matt's family consist of great cooks who love good food, his uncle is a PROFESSIONAL BAKER.

I'd never live it down.

When dessert time came around, people flocked to the cookies.  They were a total hit.  And then, they started asking who made the cookies.  When they found out it was us, they started coming up to us REQUESTING OUR RECIPE.

I hated to tell people that they were premade cookies because SHOW SOME EFFORT, SISTER, so finally, after the third request, I said, "Okay, fine.  I have to come clean about something."

I looked at Matt across the table and his eyes widened.  He couldn't believe I was going to do it.

And then I admitted to everyone about my culinary crisis and the reason we brought premade cookies.

And oh, the story made their day.  They thought it was hilarious.

That's me, impressing the in-laws since 2014.

As it turns out, we are spending Thanksgiving with the same folks, and they've already requested that we bring our famous cookies.

But maybe this time I'll bring my stuffed peppers too.

Friday, October 24, 2014

just your typical friday

When Matt got home from work the other night, he went into the bedroom to change and came back out a few minutes later in his bare feet and said, "Hey Laur, would you mind looking at something on the bottom of my foot?"

Oh, marriage.  You are full of unexpected situations.

I managed to get out of the extremity examination, but it turns out that Matt's dress shoes were a little too small, so he decided that he would stop at the store after work last night to look for a new pair.  He also had to buy shotgun shells because he and his dad are hunting tomorrow and he volunteered to bring the shells (not called bullets, as this non-hunter has learned), and DSW and Dick's Sporting Goods happen to be in the same shopping center, which is basically retail jackpot.

Matt called me as he was leaving the shoe store to see if he should start dinner when he got home.  I was just heading out of the gym and running into the food store because we needed apple juice and yogurt (SO MANY DETAILS).  Since he would probably beat me to the house, I told him the dinner plan.

(Leftover chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans.  This is fascinating.)

Before we hung up, I asked him what kind of shoes he bought.

"Hush Puppies," he said.

Well, this morning I put on my sensible new sneakers with orthotic inserts for a follow up appointment with the podiatrist, and Matt broke in his Hush Puppies.  If you need us Saturday night, we'll be at the diner for the early bird special and then at the bingo hall because evidently we are 100.

I told Matt I was just about to run into the food store and asked him if he needed anything else.  "Nope," he said.  "I've got my Hush Puppies and a few boxes of shotgun shells, and what more could a man really need?"

Go ahead and embroider that on a pillow.

For the first six months of our marriage, Matt pretty much handled all dinners.  But now, since he doesn't get home from his new job until much later, it made sense for me to take over in the dinner department and IT IS TURNING OUT TO BE A LOT OF WORK.

When I was growing up, every night as we finished eating dinner I would ask my mom, "So, what are we having for dinner tomorrow?"  If there are two things I love in this world it's a good meal and a schedule, so it was a totally sensible question in my mind.

However, God bless my mom for never saying, "YOU'RE GOING TO WANT DINNER...AGAIN?" because that's what I wanted to say to Matt this afternoon when the dinner topic came up.  But I maintained my wifely composure and said, "Don't worry about it Matt, I'll definitely figure something out."

Well, Matt knows me pretty darn well because tonight at 6:15 he walked through that front door holding a hot pizza in his hand which was very convenient since I HAD NOT FIGURED ANYTHING OUT.

After we ate our pizza, Matt disappeared into the bedroom and came back out in full hunting gear for what turned out to be a dress rehearsal of sorts for tomorrow morning.  He was a little bit concerned about temperature control- he didn't want to wear a heavy coat and be too hot, or a light coat and be too cold.

So I stood in the closet and looked through his outerwear options while repeatedly suggesting I thought he should wear his leaf suit so he'd blend in with the elements until he finally said, "LADY, IT IS NOT CALLED A 'LEAF SUIT.'  IT IS CAMOUFLAGE."

You say camouflage and shot shells and I say leaf suit and bullets.

I'm learning.

Matt eventually finalized his wardrobe, which he carefully laid out in the dining room so that he can change out there when he wakes up at 3:30, and doesn't have to wake me up because he has apparently learned I do best on eight plus hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I am kind of high maintenance.

Also pictured is Matt's toolbox (don't know the technical name) of hunting supplies and a box of latex gloves to clean birds.  He bought several hundred in a fit of unbridled optimism despite the fact that there is a two bird limit.

Really, I sure hope he shoots a pheasant (or two) tomorrow, mostly because he will be totally thrilled and it will absolutely make his entire hunting season.

And also because, well, dinner.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

a lesson in humility

Emily has now been living it up in college for eight weeks.

I haven't seen her since August, and the other night I was thinking about how this is approximately seven times longer than we've ever been apart before.

And then it dawned on me that I too went away to college.  And we survived those four years just fine.

In any event, our cousin is getting married on the 31st and Emily will be making her grand return to town for the wedding.  Last week, I saw a post of hers pop up on Instagram, and the caption loaded before the picture did because HAVE I MENTIONED OUR POOR CELL PHONE SERVICE?

This was the caption:

A goof that she is so excited to see in fifteen days?  Well naturally, I figured that the picture, when it loaded, would be of me.

And now, the picture:


Obviously I sent her an urgent message expressing my displeasure, and then she posted this one to appease me.  It was nice, but it was definitely "prompted" and what some in the biz may call "too little, too late."

(The biz? I have no idea.  It sounded good so I went with it.)

And then, yesterday.  Yet another post to Instagram with an enticing hashtag referencing three countdowns.  I waited on the edge of my seat for that picture to load, and in turn, her countdown to me.

Please feast your eyes on the countdowns:

The royal baby.  The dog.  And Christmas.


Hey Em, it's now nine days.  You know, just in case you're counting.


Monday, October 20, 2014

this time, my car trouble involved law enforcement

Well, now that this Monday is just about over, I can officially say that it was better than the last one. 

Last Monday morning, I woke up feeling pretty lousy.  I stayed in bed for an extra half hour and had a surprisingly involved internal debate with myself about whether or not to take a sick day.  In the end I decided that I’d feel better once I got moving and I had a lot to get done (you win, work ethic) so I made myself get up and go into the office. 

Which turned out to be the wrong decision.

On my way to work, while I was driving along a VERY BUSY HIGHWAY, I saw large pieces of metal bouncing around the lanes ahead of me, and before I knew it, I felt something hit my tire.  I knew right away that it was a pretty forceful impact, and ten seconds later my low tire pressure light lit up and an alarm started dinging.
I pulled onto the shoulder and hopped out to take a look at my tires and see if I could make it to the next exit, since it was just a mile away and, you know, being in a disabled vehicle on the side of a three lane highway during rush hour is not the most ideal situation.  Unfortunately, my right tire was already COMPLETELY flat, so I got back in the car and called my BFFs over at roadside assistance to tell them, HEY, IT’S ME AGAIN WITH YET ANOTHER CAR PROBLEM.

I honestly feel like I should invite the roadside assistance operator over for dinner, I talk to her so often.

I looked around while I dialed the insurance company, and I counted at least ten other cars and trucks pulled over with flat tires.  Evidently I was not the only one who fell victim to the metal debris in the road.  And a few minutes later, I saw cop lights in my rear view mirror.  Normally that sight would fill me with dread, but in that moment I stopped just short of hanging my head out of the window and screaming PLEASE OFFICER, PICK ME.  

The state trooper came to my window and when I told him that roadside assistance gave me an estimate of an hour before they would arrive, he rolled up his sleeves and changed my flat tire for me.

I could have kissed him.

Once I was all set, I rolled very slowly to the nearest auto part store and bought myself two new tires and an alignment. Which brings the current total for Matt and me to EIGHT new tires in eight months of marriage.

This week, we are going shopping for bikes.

Or personal chauffeurs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

i just keep telling myself i'm young at heart

Well, I have aged thirty years in the last five days.

Let me explain.

On Friday, I paid a visit to the podiatrist and left with some sweet new orthotics for my shoes.

On Sunday, I was doing my hair when I discovered a big gray patch right in front.  After a few moments of panic and a desperate text to my sister, it occurred to me that the gray may have been the result of an overenthusiastic application of dry shampoo. However, I haven't used the dry shampoo in two days and I haven't noticed a change, so I'm not feeling very optimistic about this development.

And then today, I walked into my office at work only to discover this on my desk.

Way to kick a girl when she's down, AARP.

I guess the least I can hope for are some discounts on orthotics and hair dye.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

i'm not typically high maintenance when it comes to hotels

I was on a quick work trip for a few days last week.  The day before the trip, a group of us received an urgent email from an administrative assistant letting us know that there had been a mix up with the hotel reservations.  Our hotel was being changed from the fancy Holiday Inn Express to the not quite as fancy Quality Inn.  Not only that, but there were ten people going on the trip and only nine rooms available.  And since there were no other rooms at any other hotels in the area, she pleaded for two people to volunteer to share a room.

Since I've been  workin' girl, I've learned that being on the good side of the administrative assistants can be worth its weight in gold.  So I sent a quick email to tell her that I would be willing to share a room if she still needed a volunteer.

Which is how I ended up spending Wednesday night in a hotel room with someone I've never met before.

The rooming situation turned out to be fine, but the pillow situation?  

As you can see, The Quality Inn promised me a Q bed with NOT ONLY 200 thread count sheets, but also a generous supply of fluffy pillows.

I know what you're thinking.  How lucky can a girl get?

Well, it would seem the Quality Inn and I have a different interpretation of the word "generous."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

that time i got sentimental

Matt and I have been married for seven months today.  Not eight months, as I initially thought the other night when I burst dramatically into the kitchen and proclaimed, "This month is our GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY! Eight months on the eighth!"

And Matt thought for a moment and then said, "Actually, March to October is only seven months."

Listen. Time flies when you're having fun.

Also, perhaps we should rethink who handles the budget.

Anyway, I know this is going to sound so cheesy but when April ended, I remember thinking, "April was my favorite month of marriage yet."  And then I thought the same thing about May.  And June.  And every month since.  I feel like we have settled into our routine and even though we have been friends for TEN YEARS (we calculated the other day, we are old) and dated for five, we are still learning all sorts of new little things about each other.

For example, I have learned that Matt does not utilize the sleep button on the alarm clock, loves to keep me up to date on the weather forecast and if I will need an umbrella/sweater/ice scraper, and sleeps with a flashlight next to our bed "just in case." And he makes me laugh all the time.

And I love funny.

Just this morning I was up at 5:40, an hour and a half earlier than normal (unlike Matt, I am a big fan of the sleep button), because I had an early meeting two hours away.  I was grumpily drying my hair and I could hear Matt humming cheerfully in the bathroom as he got out of the shower and brushed his teeth.  When he came into the bedroom, his humming got louder and quite impassioned, and after a few minutes, he said, "Well, have you noticed anything different about my humming recently?"

Unfortunately I had to tell him that no, I hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary.

"I've been humming Christmas carols the past few days!" he said.  "I'm just trying to ease into the season."

And at 5:40 this morning, that made me so happy.  Partly because he knew it would make me laugh, and partly because that is so Matt - a well thought out procedure for everything.

I even got a text from him this afternoon asking what I'd like to do for Valentine's Day.  It would seem that someone has holidays on the brain.

In honor of our seven months of marriage, here are seven wedding pictures.

(Actually, it's way more than seven.  But I'm not the math person, remember?)


Monday, October 6, 2014

in summary, i have a new computer

About a week before I started eighth grade, my dad started telling my brother, sister, and me that we would be having a “dry run” before our first day of school.  It was my mom’s first year back to work as a teacher, so she was going to be very busy in the mornings, and he told us that we would have to set our alarms, wake up on time, get dressed, have breakfast, and walk to the bus stop just to make sure that the schedule worked perfectly.  My sister was in kindergarten that year, so the idea of a dry run was ACES to her, but my brother and I just laughed and rolled our eyes because surely he could not be serious.

And then came the day before the first day of school.

And as we trudged across the street to the bus stop at 6:45 am, backpacks on and Dad waving from the front porch, we realized that he was serious.
Dad loves a good dry run.

And last weekend, I realized that I married someone who shares my father’s philosophy on dry runs.

Matt started a new job last Monday, and the weekend before we woke up, got ready according to the 
proposed time schedule, drove to the train station, and even PARKED THE CAR in the spot Matt would be parking in.  We stopped just short of inserting a few quarters into the meter and actually boarding the train.

It was like 2001 all over again.

In addition to a new morning routine, Matt’s new job also required a new wardrobe.  We spent a few hours in Macy’s last week picking out some fancy new threads.  I immediately got lost in the racks of dress pants and ties and OH, THE OPTIONS FOR BUTTON DOWNS and at one point I looked over and saw Matt just staring blankly at a mannequin (or, as he calls it, a dummy).  “Are you okay?” I asked him.  “Oh I’m fine,” he said, “just getting used to the type of outfit I will be wearing every day for the next forty five years.”

Hurry it up, retirement.

Matt had a great first week at his job, and his new position oh-so-conveniently coincided with the death of my laptop.  Matt hasn’t had a computer in years, so once mine died we were totally without one.
We have been researching new devices for a few weeks, but it was difficult because I am not a fan of large purchases.  If something costs more than about thirty dollars I will hem and haw for ages before biting the bullet.  And Matt is the same way.  Which is why I think we will never buy a house because SEVERAL HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS? It took us six solid months to decide on a SOFA.  

And you should see us try to commit to buying the Value Pack of chicken at Wegman’s.

And so, after EXHAUSTIVE research and many debates between the iPad camp (Matt) and the laptop camp (me), we decided to purchase a laptop this weekend.  We drove to Best Buy bright and early, only to discover that the doors didn’t open until 11:00.  We went next door to Petsmart to kill some time.  We checked out all of the hamsters and fish and watched puppy class for a little while, and then I went to check out the dog clothes (why on earth would a dog need a down vest, ANSWER ME THAT), while Matt perused the reptile department.

When we met back up, he was holding a piece of orange plastic coral and a King Tut fish tank decoration.

What are your plans for those?” I asked.

I thought they would look really cool on my desk in my new office,” he said.

Whoa boy.

Luckily the clock struck 11:00 so we put down King Tut and the coral TOOT SUITE and went next door to Best Buy.  And do you know what was outside the Best Buy doors?   A GIANT CROWD OF PEOPLE.  I thought people only gathered outside of Best Buy on Black Friday, so color me surprised.  

I was dying to push past people and run inside and scream, “WOOOO HOOOOO, WE’RE GONNA BE FIRST, GOTTA GET THIS AMAZING DEAL” but Matt wasn’t so much on board.  And so instead, we walked in very sensibly and maturely and purchased a sensible, mature, computer.

From which I am now typing.

So, long story not short at all, oh Laura Darling is back.

Now all I need to make this one hundred percent official is a desk.

Preferably with a piece of decorative coral on top.