Monday, January 31, 2011

Au Natural

Inspired by the post of Melinda, and following Katie, Kate, Carly and Kim. (and others)
here is the real me.

Last weekend when we were dealing with The Disaster, I showered, but opted not to do makeup or hair because we weren't going anywhere. It was the perfect opportunity to snap a few photos to unapologetically post to the world.

It was a great reminder I don't have to wear make up. In fact, this past weekend I didn't put any on, and didn't realize it until hours later!

Here is me:


Picnik collage


I do feel like my morning transformation makes me feel prettier (and styling my short-ish hair is essential!), but as with many things, less is more. The real thing that would make me feel prettier is losing all the weight off my face. But hopefully husband encouragement (and Jenna's TWLC) will help!

Would you ever post pictures au natural? When do you feel prettiest?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Whenever it gets hard to be away from Chicago and friends, I just convince someone to come out here and see me!

My friend Kim is coming to visit for a long weekend. She gets in tonight and I'm so excited to spend time with her. For a year we were Sunday lunch buddies and cooked together at her apartment after church.

of all my friends, she the most beach-loving, so we'll be heading there at least a couple times.

Oak Street Beach, Chicago

Tonight, we're going to C-level to eat and watch the sunset. Then heading over to the Old Globe to see Emma, the musical.

Also planned for the weekend: brunch at The Brockton Villa, La Jolla shopping, Orfila wine tasting, Elfin Forest hiking, and lots of laying in the sun.
(the weather looks like it will cooperate)

I love planning these visits, because they're all different depending on who comes.
What do you do when friends visit?

Monday, January 24, 2011

unexpected weekend disaster

I wrote my last post Saturday morning just before disaster hit.

Little did we know that instead of the 2 hours of cleaning/chores we wanted to do Saturday afternoon before playing outside in the beautiful 78 degree weather, we would spend 14+ hrs over the weekend cleaning.
Our predicament might not strike homeowners as too terrible (I'm always really impressed with how much the Nodakademics can tackle in their house!), but we are renting, and were certainly not expecting to have something like this happen.

On Saturday morning we discovered an unwelcome substance in the closet: Mold.

E had an old belt on the floor of his closet that was just coated in it. It had turned green and white, and was so disgusting we were gagging. You guys can all thank me that we threw it out so fast I wasn't able to take a photo of it.

Commence freak out.
And begin to empty entire closet. and find more mold.
(if you don't want to see any of these pictures, you may want to skip the rest of this post)

We ripped out the carpet pieces laid in the closet (our closets are about an inch raised off the bedroom carpeted floor and extra pieces of carpeting were cut for the closet floors and just laid in them), only to find this:


From then on it was just like a bad movie. We started pulling out things from our other closets, in our bedroom and office. And wouldn't you know. Every single closet was infested.
Things we don't often pull out--like luggage, old school books, board games, and old clothes. Everything smelled gross and musty, and a lot of things had mold spores on them.


Somewhere in the midst of this, we called our landlord. He said he'd have an inspector come out early this week (hopefully today?) to see if he could figure out where moisture was getting in.

Most of this mold has to be somewhat recent because it wasn't all on old/unused stuff.
Bu it just seemed like once we started looking, we found in places we couldn't believe we hadn't noticed it before (inside a kitchen closet, on the baseboards).



E's blazer


E was pretty upset that so much of our stuff was ruined, and wondering how it could have happened (we are sure it is nothing we did) and how we hadn't noticed it.
I got into "I'm a big girl, we can handle this" mode. E started unloading the contents of every closet, inspecting items. We started throwing things in piles: garbage, try-to-salvage, just needs a wash, and seems ok.

Anything that smelled I set out in the sun.


I started the laundry, adding baking soda and vinegar to each load, and hung things to dry:

(SO thankful for a sunny day!)

Then I made a bleach and hot water solution and we started sponging down every surface in the closets. Looking back, we probably should have gotten gloves and a mask, but I just wanted to get it done. Every fan on in the house, every window open.

I can't believe I'm going to share these pictures, but this is what the house looked like in process.




5 hours of emptying, scrubbing, bleaching, laundrying, sunning.
I had done about 6 loads of laundry at this point and sometime after dinner (E's mom brought us In 'n Out--life saving!) we just quit.

Which means yesterday was left to put our lives back together.

Apparently you can't find dehumidifiers in SoCal (who would expect humidity?) so we stocked every closet with cedar blocks and moisture absorbing crystals something like this.

I did more laundry and we started to carefully restock (it was a good opportunity to purge!), leaving the floors clear, doors open, and still running fans. Not everything is put back together, but we're getting there.

I imagine we'll be paranoid for a while(even if it turns out to be a fixable problem). E rotates the fans every night and leaves the ceiling fans on all day.

I feel like this is only a tiny taste of what home ownership will be like.
Have you had major home disasters recently? I would love to hear stories to make me feel a little better about ours!

under control?

E and I have had a really good system of supporting each other in terms of managing our lives/house for the past year and a half. Normally, my schedule is fairly easy: I work a low-stress 9-5 while he is pretty intensely involved in study 10-12 hrs a day in class/studying.
So during the school year I'm in the supporting role handling a lot of the household stuff including making dinner, laundry, schedules, etc.

During the summer E had an internship that required some time, but not as much take-home work, so my responsibility felt a little easier as he took on more household stuff.

This semester my schedule has gotten a lot busier with work + my Greek class (which takes up an additional 10 hours-ish a week), but E's schedule isn't any lighter, so I've been thinking about how well we function when we both are in need of a little extra support, but neither in a position to do that.

I'm sure we'll be fine, but the third week of coming home to dishes piled up, clean laundry unfolded, an ironing pile, neglected garden, is making me feel a little out-of-control (and the fact that I've cooked only 3-4 times this month--bad time to change our eating habits!)

have you had a time in your marriage where both of you were spread too thin to manage both home and work/school?

ps. another post on this topic by Beka

Friday, January 21, 2011

its all greek to me

I've hinted at this before, but I recently started taking a class at the theological school where E is studying.

I got curious about Greek after hearing him talking about how insightful and exciting it has been for him to be able to read and understand the Bible in its original language. After thinking about it for a few months, I finally took the plunge and signed up for Greek I.
I've taken some other classes here before out of general interest (as a future pastor's wife! eek), but this one I'm taking for credit because I really want to be able to use it.


Grad school is no joke and I have a lot more respect for the students doing this full time. Class is Tues and Thurs evenings and I have to spend about an hour every day studying to keep up. So far its going really well and I'm so excited to see how much we cover this quickly(I'm already translating phrases)

Sadly, this won't help me much with modern Greek, because Hellenic Greek is a dead language. (I will only be able to recognize letters and sounds) But with E's future job, I'll still get to use it quite a bit.

I also hope this will be a launching pad for when I take up learning Dutch sometime in the distant future. (It's been a long-time dream of mine).

Besides high school spanish, have any of you attempted to learn a second language? Or did you grow up knowing 2+ (if so, I'm jealous!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Call me oblivious, but last week when we planned to go to Disneyland, neither E or I had any idea it was MLK day. E always has off on Mondays (no class) and I was just taking the day after a crazy week.

We realized this on Sunday and debated going to D-land at all, since we were really looking forward to a quieter day there (as it would have been on any other Monday in mid-winter). We decided to go anyway.

E is a D-land genius, so despite it being insanely busy with people off of work and school, we were able to keep our line waiting to >20 minutes at every ride.

We left our house at the crack of dawn and got there just as it opened.
First headed to Tomorrowland where we grabbed a FastPass (which is the best invention ever) to Buzz Lightyear and then got in line for Space Mountain.

While there, E noticed that Captain EO had returned, in tribute to Michael Jackson. He's a big MJ fan anyway, and loved Captain EO as a kid, so this was a highlight.
I loved it too!


(I hate carrying around a lot of things at Disney, so all these photos were taken on my new htc hd7)

Buzz Lightyear is always a highlight, although I'm totally embarrassed by our scores (it's been too long!)

The castle

E and I both love Fantasyland and we hit up all our favorite story rides: Pinnochio, Snow White, Peter Pan and Mr. Toad.

Picked up a funnel cake and espresso from the French market in New Orleans square and got in lines for Pirates.


I forgotten the two drops in this boat ride and E and I got splashed sitting in front. I would have been annoyed if it wasn't such a perfectly warm day!

Then we were able to Fastpass Indiana Jones (always insane lines!). I am amazed that people could tolerate 45-60 minutes waits for a 5 minute ride.


Right next door is Tarzan's Treehouse. I've never climbed up, so we did. I allowed myself a brief moment of daydreaming that we had a little one (or two) and how much fun they'd have up there.

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One of the best slower rides, IMO, is the jungle cruise. The guides have a really hilarious and corny script. We bust up laughing every time.

The Tiki Room. It's amazing how despite what has changed between E and I in my first D-land visit to now, the Tiki room was exactly the same as it was 3.5 years ago!


We always have a late lunch at the golden horseshoe while watching Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.
Chicken fingers and fries always hit the spot after walking all day!

We left in the early evening to have some time to recover before going to back to work/the books.


Are you a fellow Disney fanatic? What are your favorite rides?

Monday, January 17, 2011

For cooking and baking

The general theme for most of the gifts I receive this year were kitchen related. I couldn't have imagined a better theme!
I've been daydreaming for months about a Le Creuset. (although I just took her out of her box today!)


Without red meat this month I am not sure what to make in it. This post on The Kitchn might just get me started.


My brother-in-law picked my name for Christmas and got me this beautiful book:


I can't stop flipping through the pages and reading the stories--The intro really grabbed me " This is about food and women and listening".
The pictures take me right back to our honeymoon.

I'll blog any recipes I get brave enough to try (braised rabbit! truffle lasagna!) This is a cookbook I can definitely see myself opening again and again.

I'm making it a resolution to use cookbooks more often and not rely so heavily on the interwebs for recipes. It requires more planning (usually I do a search for 1-2 ingredients I have on hand and then modify a recipe to use what I have. I'm so lazy.) But there's something about a messy book on the counter while you're cooking (Julie and Julia anyone?) and I've been gifted some good ones.

I also received a huge baking stone, a chop2pot cutting board, and some folding chairs for when we have guests (when my family was visiting they sat in camp chairs!)

Did anyone else receive kitchen gadgets for christmas? What are your favorite things to use in the kitchen?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Our happy place

This week is my busiest week of the year at work. I generally have a pretty chill 8-5 job, but this week I work long days, 6 days this week, plus a class I've added to the mix. It's all a little stressful.

I'm taking a comp day Monday to recover and figured on just lazing around and getting some chores done, because E has a heavy load of school work right now and not much time.

But I opened my email yesterday to an iCal invitation from E to spend Monday at Disneyland together :-)

We haven't been in over two years, and I can't wait. I'm so thankful he's going to rearrange his schedule (including working a few late nights this week) to make it work.

I love this place, and we've already made some really sweet memories at D-land.
Here a few pics of E and I at the happiest place on earth over the past few years.

Sep '08

March '08

july '07

Maybe next week I'll get back to our love story and talk about the first time we went to Disneyland!

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Years and boys' toys

A few months ago a friend showed E the compound bow he hunted with. He brought it over and a couple of guys shot at a target in our side yard.

E had mentioned interest in archery before, but after using the bow several times he began talking about it. a lot.

When I was last in Chicago for work, I was able to see some family, and shared E's interest with my cousin (who is into bow hunting). He just so happened to be selling his old bow for a newer model.

I made arrangements to purchase it, and got a bunch of accessories from a local sporting/hunting store, and gave E the whole package on Christmas.

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He was pretty surprised, but excited about it. My cousin came over and showed E a few things about the bow and they practiced shooting into a hay bale at my parents'.

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also pictured: my parents' quaint country chicken coup. (my mom raises free range chickens for eggs)

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I'm glad I have these few pictures of snow, because the next day the temperatures got SO warm and all the snow melted and wasn't seen for the rest of our trip!

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Then we headed to Wisconsin to celebrate New Year's with E's best friend Alex and his family, who are basically E's second family.

While there, we engaged in more outdoorsy activities and went to a shooting range.
However you feel about guns, (and I'm not sure I'd ever want to own one), I have to say that learning how to use the gun correctly made me feel safer and more respectful of them.

(Feel free to skip the next few pictures if you don't want to see guns in use)

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(it was a pretty foggy day, but we were at 10 yards, and the only people on the range)

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not bad for my first time shooting a handgun in about 4 years!
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we had lunch at the cutest small town cafe

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New Year's was spent with games, good food and great friends.


(clockwise, from top left) an old fashioned, bananas foster (SO fun to make!), port wine Merkts, and gold-flecked chocolate

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Happy new year, indeed.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Family-filled Christmas

I spent more time with family this year than I have in many years, even though I used to live much closer to them.

I got to visit home for personal and work reasons far more than I planned. (6 times since I moved out here 1.5 years ago, plus a family visit out here and family reunion!) But there's something about the distance that made me appreciate and value the time we had.

My relationship with my siblings--all very close in age and very different--has matured a lot. I I wondered many times over the last 5-6 years if we would ever really click together. Lots of hormones and teenage angst later, and it's a lot more fun to be around my siblings (+ 2 husbands) again. Christmas was no exception!


games and dramatics
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lots of smiles and jokes


my baby sister just turned 19!

While home, we also captured as much time as possible with grandparents as a continual reminder, they won't be here forever.


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While family was priority, and we also snuck in some of our favorite quick eats from back home.
The Carraig (an irish pub we frequented in college)

We ended the week by going to my family's favorite German restaurant, Chef Klaus' Bier Stube
No photos at the restaurant, but here are my leftovers of Natur Schnitzel and red cabbage.

I realize that doesn't look appetizing to everyone. But if you like schniztel, this stuff was fabulous.

Food + Family = feeling very merry!



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