Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Amazing Revelation

So Monday evening when I was driving home from work, I called my husband like I always do to let him know I'm about 10 minutes away. I hung up, and had this thought:
Woah, I just called my husband to tell him I'm coming home.
I know, shocking, right? But I think back to a year ago (heck, less) when we had NO CLUE where we would be living, where Matt would have a job, if I would be in graduate school (for an example, click here). I just could not wait to be married. Now, we had an amazing wedding and are enjoying our first year as husband & wife. He has a great job that he loves, we live in Texas which was our number one choice, and I got into an amazing graduate program where I am also employed as a TA/RA. We are involved with an amazing church, have some family members up here, and are mostly happy with our apartment. 

To be honest, it is more than I could have hoped for. Totally shows that God provides. Anyway, as I was having these thoughts, it also occurred to me that I really should not be anxious for anything. He is in control. He put us here for many reasons, He has a plan. 

It also occurred to me that I should enjoy where I am in life. Yeah, life gets stressful and crazy at times. I spend more of our weekends together doing homework than I would prefer. I dream about having an actual home, where I can't hear my upstairs neighbor play fetch with his dogs right when we climb into bed. Regardless, life is still so good. 

And that to me is a huge comfort when life seems to be more than I can handle. I look back a year ago and think about how much I wanted where I am now. It is very hard to be negative when that is my perspective!

What about you? Have you ever had such a revelation where things just clicked?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Amazing + Heartbreaking

That about sums up the movie Matt and I saw this weekend-- "Act of Valor."

If you haven't heard of the movie, let me give you a brief description. It basically covers several missions of a Navy SEAL team, including their leaving and coming home. There are several things that make this movie quite unique, unlike something that has been done before or ever will be done again. First, it uses active-duty Navy SEALs. Second, it portrays missions that are based off of real-life special forces missions. Third, it uses live ammunition + actual Navy tactics + actual Navy weapons/transports/etc. 

Seriously, those portrayed as Navy SEALs are the real thing. It doesn't get much cooler than that. It does get graphic at parts, but if you've seen other 'war' movies, (i.e. Black Hawk Down), it isn't worse than that. It is also very emotional and I wish I had brought some kleenex. However, I cannot wait to see it again because I know there are things I missed, both in the cool technology side as well as the dialogue.

I know, it is a more man movie than a chick flick, obviously, but I get this weird guilt complex when I make Matt watch chick flicks. Plus, without actually being in the military I know I wouldn't have seen a lot of these things. Hollywood ain't got nothing on the real thing.

I highly recommend this movie to everyone. In a time such as this overrun by politicians and their campaigns, it is so good to be reminded of those fighting for our freedom and safety, those that have fought, and those that paid the ultimate price. 

[This movie is rated R, for very good reasons. It is graphic. There is harsh language. Just consider that when thinking of if you want to see it or who you want to take with you.]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday + A Recipe

My mom and her side of the family are all New Orleans natives, so I have a particular attachment to that city and its unique culture. Of course today marks the official day of Mardi Gras, being Fat Tuesday and all. Since we couldn't go to New Orleans to celebrate with the family (in a clean fashion, no Bourbon St Mardi Gras for us!), Matt & I made my grandmother's recipe of red beans & rice! 

I've never made it before but it is so easy, so delicious, and makes tons of leftovers so I count that as a win! It's best to let the beans soak overnight, so you may not be able to make it for today, but that shouldn't stop you from trying an easy New Orleans recipe!


-1 lb dried red beans
-1 onion
-1 bell pepper
-stick butter
-salt, pepper, sage, rosemary, bay leaf
-1 lb smoky sausage, sliced, or a ham hock (we used smoked turkey sausage)

-Rinse the beans then put them in a pot and cover them with water, filling the pot to about an inch or so over the beans. Cover and let sit overnight.

I must give a shout-out to my amazing photographer, Matt :)

After sitting all night... definitely a different color and the beans grew! Like magic...
 -Next day, drain the water from the bean pot and refill it with even more water. Set it on the stove over medium heat to start boiling.

-In the meantime, slice your bell pepper, onion, and sausage. Saute the veggies in butter while waiting for the water to boil

-Once the water is boiling and the veggies are soft, throw the veggies & sausage into the pot and stir well. 

-Add your seasonings, stir it around, then let it cook for 5 minutes. Taste it and adjust your seasonings accordingly. What kind of taste are you looking for? Whatever is good for you :)

-Cover the pot and let it cook for several hours, at least 1.5 to 2 hours. Once the beans are soft and the broth has turned the color of the beans, you have 2 options to get the broth thicker:
1) Add 1/4 to 1/2 stick of butter and stir every 5 minutes to let it cook
2) Smush several beans (about 50-100 or so) up against the side of the pot and mix well, again stirring every 5 minutes

-Let it cook 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally (in 5 minute intervals), while you prepare your rice.

-Serve over rice and enjoy!

I was quite happy with our first solo attempt at red beans, I was just missing having some king cake for dessert!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Obvious

So, since it is Monday and we are all thinking a little slowly today (man, that alarm went off early!), I'm going to state the obvious.

Graduate school is hard.

Last semester pales in comparison to this semester, which honestly isn't saying a lot as I rarely had to work on weekends last semester. Not the case this time. But not only is it difficult in terms of school work, it is seriously hurting my life. It severely cuts into my quality time with my husband, I have next to no social life (unless you count office hours with the other grad students), and it isn't letting me go anywhere for spring break. Boo, woe is me, I know.

I just have a hard time shutting off my brain once I get home from class, making it very hard to have a good conversation with Matt in the evenings. When I put an article down after reading it, it's a very similar thing. Grad school basically makes it harder to have a good marriage.

But not impossible. We just have to make the effort to do fun things, to carve out that quality time with one another, to ignore email/phones for 60 minutes to have a conversation. And that would be true with any relationship where someone's job can't be 8-5 and then they're done (which seems to be more and more jobs). 

One of the little things Matt & I do is something we started while dating- we alternate planning dates. That used to include paying, but obviously that doesn't matter anymore. Every other Friday, I get to plan our evening together, starting from about 4:30 onward. The only requirement is that food be involved in some manner. We also occasionally challenge ourselves to keep it as cheap but as healthy as possible (harder than one would think!).

Some of our dates have included:
-Take out Pakistani food that we eat at home, then go out later for dessert and coffee. This one is definitely fantastic for quality time and trying new things!

-Getting Freebird's burritos and eating it at a park where we can watch the big commercial airliners take off and land. We're into aviation, if you didn't know. Come home and have game night with Yahtzee or something similar.

-Driving into one of the big cities and eating someplace new then end the night with drinks or something. 

-Dinner & a movie is of course always a classic.

You get the idea. I share this because it is a huge part of my life. Both of us so look forward to these Fridays-- we know that no matter how hard the week was, how busy it was, how demanding school/work was, we will have this guaranteed time together where it is just us. So needed and so crucial for a marriage. 

What do you do with your significant other to help keep the relationship strong? Any fun date ideas you want to share?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Candy, Sleeping, and a Proclamation

So yeah, it's been a week since I last posted! I apologize. It has been quite busy with grad school, and when I'm done with work my brain's creative juices are not really flowing or I want to spend time with Matt, hence the lack of writing.

Happy Valentine's Day! Even if you don't celebrate it, hope you have a good Tuesday! Matt and I decided to do a joint date-a-versary + V-Day gift, budget of under $10 each. We got fun things for each other, like each other's favorite candy, and a cheesy card. We are doing real gifts for the wedding anniversary, so all of that works for me! I got not one, not two, but THREE packages of Peanut Butter Twix which I have slowly been rationing off. Seriously, I ate one bar Saturday, another bar yesterday, and still have 2 unopened packages. Talk about self-control!

I was all excited last weekend, though, I thought I was going to have an amazing blog topic. Matt was going to take me to this really cool Christian concert, but then we decided not to go. Why? I hadn't slept well the night before and ended up falling asleep at 9 PM. I know, we lead very exciting lives. The rest of the weekend consisted of hanging out, getting stuck in traffic, reading, and cooking.

In our nice little cooking adventure, in which we made this, Matt made quite the proclamation. 

Setting- he had just finished defrosting some chicken breasts and was cutting it into bite-size pieces. 

Matt: If I was single, I would be a vegetarian and eat meat only in restaurants. Meat is not worth this.

It's amusing to me at least, especially since it is so difficult to convince him to eat some of the vegetarian meals I've cooked.

Anyway, I think that's all I have for this Tuesday. I hope you have an amazing day! Also-- let me know if there is anything you want me to blog about. Any questions you have for me? Let me know in a comment! :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Four Years

Four years ago today, I got myself ready and met a boy downstairs in one of the  foyers of our freshmen honors dorm.

We awkwardly said hi, then walked to Potbelly's on Northgate (popular bar/restaurant area outside A&M) for a quick bite to eat.

As it is a counter service place and I wasn't sure if it was a date, I ended up paying for my own meal. (I had asked him to dinner, after all.)

We sat down and started talking. I found out he was from Austin, but not a Longhorn fan (thank goodness!). He found out I talk way too much and ask a lot of questions.

Then we walked back to our dorm, said goodbye, and went back to our rooms to study (him)/attend a Bible study (me).

All that night I was thinking about why he didn't hug me. Did he really not think it was a date? I wasn't sure, so being the typically impulsive, can't-keep-my-thoughts-to-myself kind of girl, I messaged him, bluntly asking what that dinner was to him. Date? Just friends? 

I know, so many rules broken, but it worked for us. 

He messaged me back saying he would meet me outside my room in a few minutes.

Then he hugged me. With one arm.

Um, no. Not acceptable. And I told him as such.

So he hugged me with two arms and life was good.

Obviously that boy is now my husband. And I am so grateful for that quasi-awkward first date :)

Us at a dorm dance a few months later
Us at a different dance a few years later 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fun Friday Find

OK, I have something for you. It will totally make your day. I mean it should already be a great day since it's Friday. But this will extra-make it. 

This week was quite difficult for me, especially the early half, so I can relate to the panic attack. I am glad to know I'm not the only one with crazy emotional reactions!

Hope you have a great weekend! Our weekend plans consist of reading and preemptive exercising before our Super Bowl feast. What about you?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How Pinteresting!

Dude. It's February first. I literally cannot believe it. As this semester is particularly crazy, I need to start doing a lot of my cooking on the weekend. Otherwise it is every recipe gets thrown in the slow cooker. I like those recipes, but sometimes I want to actually cook. You know, with a skillet or something. Plus I can cook with Matt, which makes it 10 times more interesting fun. 

So I've been on the lookout for some fun and tasty recipes we could make in the coming weekends, and here are some I've found!

Strawberry Balsamic Pizza with Chicken, Sweet onion and Bacon... Om nom nom
Twice-baked stuffed spaghetti squash
Chicken gyros
Healthy spinach lasagna rolls
And because no food-related post is complete without one from the Pioneer Woman...

Short ribs in tomato sauce
All of these come from my pinterest board. And of course link-up with Michelle at the Vintage Apple so we can see your finds!