Friday, April 27, 2012

What's next?

Last weekend I was stamping and stuffing E's graduation ceremony/party invitations and realizing it will all be over in just four weeks. My identity as a student wife - more specifically, a seminary wife - will disappear. Along with the late library hours, Greek and Hebrew flashcards, and lunch hours spent with E. In some ways it feels "finally!" and is some ways it feels foreign.

I can hardly imagine what our lives will look like in a few weeks, because the student life has been our normal since day one. I can hardly believe it's almost over - E has been a student for the past 21 years straight! His time in seminary really has been a really unique and incredible experience for both E and I. A degree from the seminary E attends is definitely more involved than a lot of graduate degrees; because of the nature of the study (preparing to be future pastors), the spouses and families of the students spend a lot of time together. Some of my closest friends out here are married to E's classmates. It has not just been an education, it has been a community.

Typically what happens with most seminary students who graduate with their Master of Divinity degree is that they'd start a paid, year-long internship or a full-time pastoral position. E and I decided around the beginning of the year that we wanted to hold off on looking for either of those positions immediately after graduation for some practical reasons involving our recent church change, and a desire to pay down some student loans.

A secondary reason why we decided to stay is simple - we're not quite ready to go! While many of E's classmates moved away from their hometowns to attend school for 3-4 years and are anxious to get back, we feel very settled here. We live about five minutes away from my in-laws and have a lot of friends in the area. We're not anxious to leave the San Diego area if we can help it. Realistically we know we probably won't stay here forever, so we want to soak up every minute of living in southern California before our future plans firm up.

All this means for us now is that E will looking for a 'regular' job' to last at least the next year. My lunch breaks won't involve seeing him (as I work on campus), and there won't be any more evening homework cramping our style. The next year may look like a bit of a holding pattern, but it is one that feels more like a plan.

What big or small life changes are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Long Overdue: Blogger Map Update

When I created The Blogger Map Project for some blog friends I wanted to meet up with, I didn't know how many people from all over the world would find it! I've found a bunch of great new blogs from near and very, very far. Well over 300 of you have joined so far, and I thank you.

However, I owe a few of you some sincere apologies. I got very behind on updating the map in February when I was doing some travel (over 100 people joined in a two week period!) and I got overwhelmed. I was finally able to catch up last night. Thank you all for your immense patience on this project!

You can see the updated Blogger Map here:

A few notes:

There will probably be a lot of you checking out the map and not finding your blog. Unfortunately, there have been over 100 incomplete submissions. If you're wondering why you didn't make it, here are the most likely reasons:
  1. You didn't post the button on your blog or I couldn't find the button.
    You posted about it a blog post, but you didn't send the link to the blog post and I couldn't find it.
  2. You didn't specify where you live. As mentioned in the directions on the form - I need at least a city to pinpoint your location, even if it's a major city near the city where you live. Those that submitted their forms with "Canada", "California" or no location at all will not show up on the map.
  3. You blog url wasn't valid or it has been closed down, you linked to a shop or online store instead of a blog, your blog has explicit content.

I understand that due to the length of time it took me to add you, a few of you may have checked the Blogger Map and not seeing yourself on it, you removed the button from your side bar. I truly am sorry! But in order to keep things as organized as possible, I'm going to delete all the forms of those who didn't make, and start over.
If you don't see yourself on there now, please follow the directions here to resubmit your form.  I promise to have you added within a week!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at latteloveblog(at)gmail and I'll do my best to answer questions or make clarifications.

Thank you all, again!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's always something (Tucson, instagram edition)

Despite all my best intentions to get back here more regularly, life keeps happening. In the latest case - a nasty bout of food poisoning which had me worshiping at the porcelain throne for 10 hours straight getting the best ab workout of my life. And then being paranoid for the next 48 hours to consume anything of substance for fear it would start again. I felt pretty drained last week, but now somewhat back to normal.

The aftermath of food poisoning, sipping water and starting downtown abbey

For my day of recovery, I started season one of Downtown Abbey, got completely sucked in, and then realized the seasons are only 7 or 8 episodes long! What kind of a cruel joke is that?...

Before all that, E and I had a fun Easter weekend visiting my grandparents who winter in Tucson, AZ. They have a place in a top-rated RV resort and it was just about as nice of a place as any resort I could imagine, minus the poolside drink service.

We spent a day of adventuring, walking through some ghost mining towns, visiting a crazy rattlesnake shop,  and stopping in Bisbee and Tombstone.


The rattlesnake large property with dozens of rows of trash-heap antiques. I was dying over a few of the items, and nothing was for sale! This couple just goes dumpster diving and keeps a collection of every antique pieces you can imagine from farm equipment to cooking supplies, cameras and typewriters.

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They make their money selling stones and rattlesnake skin paraphernalia like keychains, headbands, knife sheaths, etc.

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Bisbee was a really interesting place that E and I may have enjoyed more on our own. (My grandparents are wonderful, but very different travel companions) It has an old mining history and buildings, a lot of leftover hippy people and stores, and a bunch of artsy boutiques, shops and galleries.

Tombstone is a ghost town turned tourist trap that I enjoyed despite that fact. There were a lot of jewelry and leather shops and E found a really cool belt. We enjoyed strolling through the saloons and watching the horse-drawn carriage tours roll through.

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My grandparents love breakfast so we went out a few times. The last morning to a dive called Bobo's, which was memorable, if not recommend-able. The pancakes were twice the size of the plate they served them on, and take it from this non-pancake fan, they were good.

IMG_0579 Me and grams. (from last week)

I'm so thankful to have such young and active grandparents, and for the chance to see them in the winters!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cooking, and a great lasagna recipe

I love to cook. 

This statement makes both my mother-in-law and my mom look at me quizzically and say "It won't last long!" or "why?!".

I grew up in a household with a reluctant cook. My mom isn't at her best in the kitchen, and while she made dinner most nights of my childhood, she never has really enjoyed it. (And she admits this freely. and has lots of other wonderful talents! love you, mom.)
Anyway, I grew up with a pretty limited cooking repertoire, mostly casseroles and dishes with minimal ingredients and boring spices, which left me with a blank slate when I entered my own kitchen. Early on in my marital cooking adventures I discovered,, and The Pioneer Woman, and from there - dozens of food blogs. A whole world was opened up to me and as I began to see food as a creative expression rather than just basic sustenance, I started to love it. I bought and used spices and ingredients (and cheeses!) I'd previously never heard of, cooked all kinds of ethnic foods, and *gasp* even started experimenting without using a recipe.

Now when I get home from work I kick off my shoes, put on an apron and start chopping, sauteing, or roasting - it's easily one of the most relaxing times of my day (even more so with a glass of wine for company!). The kitchen has been my haven, my retreat after a long day.

Before you roll your eyes at my waxing poetic about my love of cooking - please know that I fail often. Oh, the flops. E and I have worked out a system for avoiding hurt feelings in those situations. When he loves a meal, he asks me to save the recipe for a repeat. When he doesn't love it - he still eats, still thanks me for dinner, but doesn't suggest holding on to the recipe for future dinners. This works well for us.

We had a friend and classmate of E's over for dinner last week (as we do almost every week) and I made lasagna that was save-worthy. It was so good I had to share the recipe, which was adapted from The Bride and Groom First & Forever Cookbook.

Homemade Meat Marinara (this is my best guestimate as a lot of the seasoning is 'to taste')
4 - 14 oz cans of sliced tewed tomatoes
8 oz of ground beef
8 oz of hot Italian sausage
2 tblsp olive oil
2 sweet onions, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, miced
2 tsp oregano
1 large handful of fresh basil (or 2 tsp of dried basil)
2 tsp of sugar

Crumble and brown the sausage and ground beef together in a heavy bottom pot for 8-10 minutes. Strain out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add 1 tblsp of olive oil to the pot over medium heat and cook onions for 3-4 minutes, then add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
Pulse the stewed tomatoes in a food processor, two cans at a time, until lightly blended. Add to garlic and onions, with oregano and sugar (and dried basil if you don't have fresh). Stir for a minute, and then add the cooked meat to the mixture.
Simmer over medium low heat for 5 minutes, remove from heat, and stir in fresh basil  and another drizzle of olive oil.

Homemade marinara and three cheese sauce for lasagna. #dinnerwinner

Lasagna  (adapted from The Bride and Groom First & Forever Cookbook, which I cannot recommend highly enough)
Serves 6-8

8 oz cream cheese
12 oz ricotta cheese
3/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 c. pesto
1 pkg (8 oz) of no boil lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Blend cream cheese and ricotta until well combined, and stir in parmesan, pesto and 1/4 tsp pepper.
lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan and then layer as follows.

1 c. meat sauce
noodle layer
1 1/2 c. meat sauce
1/2 of the cheese mixture in spoonfuls
noodle layer
1 1/2 c meat sauce
other 1/2 cheese mixture
noodle layer
1 1/2 c meat sauce
noodle layer
rest of meat sauce
mozzarella cheese

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40-45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 10-15 minutes to brown the cheese. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Verdict on lasagna: outrageously good. Recipe to come

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