3.31.2010

Mt. Kilimanjaro, among other things

Last weekend, I came to somewhere in the middle of Coleman Boulevard and realized I was on the front end of a 10k foot race to the other side of town. Up until that point, I think my brain was still in my nice, warm bed at my parents' casa. I'm not sure if it was some sort of defense mechanism my body whipped up to make sure I actually got out of bed and crossed the starting line, or the fact that I skipped my morning cup o' joe. Either way, the frigid wind (thank you, March, for being total crap) and the thousands and thousands of natives, transplants, and tourists made for a seriously startling morning. Two miles to the bridge, a half a mile straight up the slant side of Mt. Kilimanjaro, a mile or so running with wobbly legs to the pavement downtown, and a few miles left to the finish line where the Kenyans had been chillin' for an hour or so. There's nothing quite as demoralizing as a well rested African munchin' on Chick-fil-a as you cross the finish line almost on your death bed. But, I finished. And I didn't stop. So, check that off until next year.

So....I have some big news. I don't necessarily have a job yet, but I had an interview at UNC yesterday and my impression was that it went very, very well. The "New Graduate" Clinical Nurse I positions don't orient until July and August, but they asked me to come on as a CST for a few months prior--I'm not sure what that technically stands for, but it's a dual role of unit secretary and nursing assistant. Not at the same time, per se, but a few days a week as a nursing assistant and a few days as a unit secretary. Basically, it's a huge opportunity and I'm taking hold of it with both hands!! It will be challenging, no doubt, but I'm ready for a challenge. Thus far, (aside from job searching) my greatest hurdle has been finding my way around town. I don't want my brain to turn to mush. Bring. it. on.

In light of the latest distractions--being out of town and preparing for the interview of a lifetime--our apartment has gone completely to pot. It's gross. I'm embarrassed. I would probably not even crack the door for a delivery man, just implore him to leave his goods on the door mat. The laundry is piled to the ceiling, we've been surviving on pickles, cereal, yogurt, and peanut butter, and the bathroom is giving me the heebie-jeebies. Today, my job is to put on my super-wife cape and welcome my husband home to an apartment rivaling a stepford wife's mansion. It probably (definitely) won't stay that way, but a girl can dream.

Happy last day of March everyone! Don't be fooled tomorrow!

3.25.2010

All things bright and beautiful

It's amazing to me how nature continues to mirror God's character: how He is completely simple and pure, yet so infinitely detailed and genius.



I spent breakfast, lunch and dinner yesterday, and breakfast and lunch today on my porch with these sweet, smiling, blooming trees waving at me in the breeze. All kinds of birds and honey bees were twittering and buzzing back and forth to each other, all heralding the arrival of this present season. What a glorious thing, Spring!

Each little flower that opens

Each little bird that sings

He made their glowing colors

He made their tiny wings


All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all!

3.23.2010

Full swing in Spring: a vernal check up.

As the saying goes, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb...I'm hoping we're in the lamb days, for good! Here's a little list of springtime made manifest in our household. I'm sure you all want to know. ;)

1. As previously posted, our Easter tree is still displayed in all it's pastel splendor on the kitchen counter. I'm seriously trying to avoid Easter candy, however, namely JellyBelly jelly beans, Reese's peanut-butter eggs, and Cadbury eggs of all kinds. But I won't be mad if I receive any or all in an Easter basket. If I'm not too old for that sort of thing. Which, I'm not. Because I just decided I'm not. So....there.

2. The heat and/or air-conditioning is OFF and has been for at least a week now: hooray for a low bill! Windows are frequently down during the day to freshen the air and get rid of the stuffiness of winter!

3. Our bedding has been changed and laundered; the extra blanket is back in the closet where it belongs.

4. My New Year's resolution is still rockin' on: vitamins swallowed daily!

5. All of my hanging clothes have been rifled through and clothes too small/too big/out of style/haven't been worn in a year(s)/bought in 8th grade have been gifted elsewhere.

6. Herbs are all present and accounted for, and thriving. Basil is a bit tricky with the weather still a little on the cool side at night. It needs lots of water because of the terra cotta pot (very breathable). I usually set it outside in full sun during the hottest part of the day and then bring it back inside at night. I try to talk sweetly to all of them, too, so they grow to be kind, smart, well-rounded plants. I haven't played any classical music for them, though (yet). If you find me someday in my yard reading the newspaper to the bushes with Beethoven blaring in the background, please have a Come-to-Jesus with me. Again, I will thank you, kindly. Anyhoo...Who knew a few stalks could be so high maintenance?

7. I've been using Jergens gradual tanning lotion on an every other day basis on account of my serious pastiness and the upcoming Bridge Run where I will bare my bare legs for all the world to see. I'm trying not to get to the orange-y, certain-areas-are-still-pale-and-obviously-fake-stage. I'm also trying to actually achieve a non-pasty hue by this weekend, so it's kind of an uphill battle to stay somewhere between pasty and orange...which would be somewhere around creamsickle. I'm trying to be a creamsickle.

8. The back porch (like we have a front one) is cleaned, re-staged, and readied for warm evenings of grilling out and feasting al fresco!

9. I have drooled over all of the beautiful Spring clothing lines being revealed in stores and online, like Target's Liberty of London...but when your shopping budget is approximately zero dollars and zero cents, drooling is about as far as you can go.

10. My toenails are a cheerful shade of OPI Cajun Shrimp, (a staple, kids), and I've worn sandals every day for almost a week. Just try to wrap your mind around that. Glory.

Baa-aa-aa. (That was supposed to be a lamb. In reference to "going out like a lamb". Use your imagination.)

3.18.2010

An egg bearing tree for me!

I haven't dyed Easter eggs since...elementary school?? We used to always have an Easter tree, dingle-dangling with beautiful colored eggs, varying in color, shade, and sometimes crazily dipped and drawn on with wax crayons--you know, quintessential 7 year old artwork. Delightful. Well, this year, I decided it was high time I dyed some eggs again. I still had some branches from my fall foliage days so I just arranged them in a pitcher on the counter and hung my eggs on them. That was the easy part. Getting the egg out of the shell without breaking it to smithereens? A tad harder. Anyway, 14 eggs and near-respiratory arrest later, I had an Easter tree. Voila!
A little bit of warm water, a splash of vinegar, a few drops of food coloring: Hello, Springtime!


Pastels really aren't my fav to wear, necessarily, but pastel eggs? Pretty!



Hot glued some twine on each egg--super easy.

Easter loveliness!

(I used leftover nuts from the nut wreath for vase filler at the bottom. Scoooore.)
It's finally warming up here--so exciting! The bridge run is in about a week, and Easter is the week after! Holy cow--see ya later, March!

3.17.2010

Before she left Killarney, did your mother kiss the Blarney?

If you don't know that song, you should. An oldie, but a goodie! Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all my fellow Iri'men (and women)! 'Anybody seen the leprechaun say, "YEAAAHHH!"'


Andrew and I went to see John Mayer: Battle Studies on Monnnnday!!! It was amazing. It was thrilling. It was like we were in 8th grade again. Seriously. The average age was probably 15. I mean, no worries, we weren't the only adults there--lots of people were suckin' down their ginormous Bud Lights and gettin' in the mood for a lil' 'lectric guitar, but still. There was definitely shrieking and jumping up and down and sign waving from the middle school sector. But the guy can shred, I'll give him that.



And for your listening pleasure:



video


Yehhh, I have a gh-etto camera, so that's all you're gonna get. But it was awesome. It really was.

3.14.2010

Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

With black soil and shards of pottery and pretty pots all in a row. :)
Ok. So. My past gardening experience pretty much peaked at growing a lima bean plant in a Styrofoam cup in elementary school. And I don't even like lima beans. But, I'm trying my hand at growing herbs as I mentioned in the previous post. Please note, my experience and/or terminology is that of a newbie, so if I am not quite a Gardener to the Starz, pardon me.
First things first: Here's what you need. Four terra cotta pots, four herb plants of your choice, potting soil, un poquito de extended release fertilizer pellets, pieces of broken pottery, H2O, and two nimble hands.

Um, I already planted the mint. 'Cuz I done stoled it from my parents' front yard. Did you know mint is a vine?? Yeah, those suckers will take over your yard if you let 'em. Anyway. I clipped a few leaflings and planted them before we left Charleston, so I kinda had a head start on this whole endeavor. The leaves are to keep moisture in. Just so you know. It ain't cute but it does the job. (Not sure why I've switched into Grungy Farmer mode...must be the fertilizer...juss kidd'n'.)


Moving on. Potting soil, pieces of pottery. And a large kitchen spoon thingy. In case you lack a spade like I do. I ended up using my hands, so it was kind of superfluous.




Step numero uno: place pottery shards in the bottom of each pot over the drainage hole. This will allow for oxygen to enter and water to escape more easily once the plant and all it's tangly roots get in there.




Fill each pot with a little bit of potting soil and then sprinkle some fertilizer over that. Mix it all around, if it makes you happy.



Tap each herb plant out of it's temporary home, being careful not to mangle it's beautiful foliage with your nubby hands. If you find that the roots have grown through the holes in it's plastic container, (like I did), do your best to perform emergency surgery causing as little damage as possible. Bottom line: get the thing out. Place the plant in it's new and permanent 3 bedroom/2.5 bath home. Fill in the sides with potting soil.


Rinse and repeat. Water the plant enough to saturate the soil and enough so that water drains out of the bottom of the pot. You're actually supposed to have those plate thingies to catch the water, but beggars can't be choosers. And I stole these pots from my parents. (Aren't they nice?) Repeat this process until all of your plants are lovingly nestled in their new pots.



Bonus: I also received a flippin' sweet valentine strawberry pot from my dearest friend Lauren. It had this little pellet of dirt that you add water to and then sow the seeds. Amazing. And realllllly cute.


Yep. It's tiny. If this thing grows, I'll be amazed.


From left to right: Bernice, Alma, Gertrude, and Myrtle.
Siiiiike.
Mint, thyme, basil, rosemary.
Yummy, yummy, in my tummy.


And that is how it's done.

3.12.2010

Here, there, and back again

Whew. I just flew in from Charleston and boy are my arms tired! Seriously though, we drove. Beeecause flying would be a little extreme. Last Thursday I returned to our home sweet home in Durham only to unpack, launder, and repack my clothes to head off to Hendersonville for the weekend. And what a weekend it was! Gorgeous weather, precious family time, and yet another spectacular fitness event. We also filed our taxes, but then, so did you, right? Right. Sunday we made the trek back down to Charleston to visit with my parents and so that my Engineer could meet with the folks at Water Missions International about his summer internship. Yes, that would be South Carolina. Yes, we are in North Carolina. Talk about Engineers Without Borders. I married one.

Anyhoo, something I have been begging my Daddy-o to take on over the last, say, 10 years is mapping out our family's genealogy. And he's finally done it. He started his anthropological investigation about a month ago and since then I have been helping a little bit here and there when I am in town. I know it sounds super dorky, but genealogy is SO FUN! Finding ancestors and branches of your family you didn't even know existed is quite a thrill. And it also opens things up for creative family baby names (*wink wink* ...don't panic--no babies here. Just keeping mental notes)! So far we have an Addelaide, Quinlan, Blair, Asa, Josslyn, Imogene (totally the best), O'Neal, Hines, Whitner...but we also have Lazarus, Abraham Moses, Pheobe Magnus, and other grotesque combo platters. The list goes on and on. It's exciting! And this is only my family--not Andrew's--so obviously our kids will have a whole other section of their tree. Coolio. Everyone should do genealogy. Aside from learning how to spell "genealogy", you learn a lot of things. Hey, I bet we're related, you 'n' me.

So, I haven't really told y'all this, but Andrew and I are doing the 2010 Cooper River Bridge Run this year. I have done it a handful of times before but I will be the first to tell you that I am not a runner. A runner I am not. But apparently, this month, I am. The aforementioned fitness event?? Running around the track and Andrew's high school alma mater, (which in Latin means "nourishing mother". No, we did not jog around Andrew's mom. In case you were confused) . Training, if you will. It's a 10k/6.2 mile race with a half-mile uphill portion, i.e. the bridge. (Hence, the name of the race.) I ran five miles on Saturday around the track in Hendersonville, and then in Charleston from the starting line of the race in front of Moultrie Middle School (word) to the apex of the bridge and back, which is also five miles, more or less. Wanna know which one was harder? Yah. The bridge. Oy vey. And that, plus another mile. When we were on the slant side of the bridge, I seriously thought my heart was going to pop off of it's arteries like a water balloon pops off the spigot when it gets too full. Yowza. I'm still going to do it. Andrew says, I just need to get my head right. Mind over matter. Mmm-hmm. More like gravity needs to take a mini-hiatus while I'm running up the bridge. Anyway, it's in a coupla weeks. I'll let you know how it goes. Chances are, if you're a Clemson Tiger, a Charlestonian, or somewhere in the vicinity of the lowcountry, I might see you there. And if I'm on a stretcher please refrain from pointing and laughing.

In other news, I planted my herb container garden just now and will be filling you in soon! I've got mint, basil, thyme, and rosemary. I just pray that somewhere in my ancestry there was a talented farmer whose "growin'" chromosomes got passed down. Here's hoping!

3.04.2010

Wham! Bam! Thank-you ma'am!

I went to Charleston on Tuesday to see my three verybestfriends and did not take a single photograph. Maybe it was the hulking lenses the aforementioned bosom buddies were toting compared to my minuscule gold Olympus point n' shoot. Maybe it was the French Onion Soup and Verdi champagne. Maybe it was the OPI rainbow scattered across the countertop. Maybe it was the colossal list of engagements we were stalking on Facebook. Who knows? But I was there, even if I have no proof. The proof is in my heart. *Sniff.*

What a glorious thing it is to go home. And not in a figurative way, but in a literal way. To really know that the little lurch your heart makes when you accelerate over the crest of the Cooper River Bridge (the Second) is not caffeine overload from that last cup of coffee, or exhaustion from making the drive and pressing the radio "scan" button 6,000 times--it's because you've come home. Home. It's funny, too, how I can be sitting in my childhood bedroom and be homesick. Or chatting at the breakfast table with my parents and miss them terribly. It's almost as if I didn't realize how much home meant to me until I really left--not for college, which is transient, a false reality--but when my license changed to another state and my last name changed to one that was not my own, one that I still have trouble scrawling prettily on supermarket receipts. Don't get me wrong--I wouldn't change anything. Not one thing would I alter. Despite all of the changes in my life, Andrew is bar none the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. But I loved my mini-vacation/BFF pow-wow over the past few days. It was wonderful. Rejuvenating, even. I got a little girl time and a little salt air. Good for the heart and the soul. Home, where my thought's escaping/Home, where my music's playing/Home, where my love lies wating/silently for me.

We're off to Hendersonville for the weekend tomorrow afternoon. I got back around 6:30 this evening, did a load of laundry and put it all back into my bag. That was easy. :) To bed for me.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

3.01.2010

This soup is soup-er good

Heh, heh. Ha, ha. Ho. Ha, ha. Clever, I know. This delectable "Lentil and Bulgur Soup" is featured in this month's Martha Stewart Living. I've already mentioned this issue in a previous post: trust me, it's that good. Anyway, this soup is easy, cheap, nutritious, and tasty. You can't beat that. If you've never tried lentils or bulgur wheat, I'm telling you--you can't mess it up. It's yummy. Sorry the photograph is terrible. I had no natural light, throw me a bone.

Here's the recipe:

2 tablespoons-ish olive oil

1 or 2 medium carrots, finely chopped

1 or 2 celery stalks, finely chopped

1 shallot, thinly sliced

6 cups high quality H-2-O

1 cup green or brown lentils, "rinsed and picked over" (whatever that means...I just tossed 'em in the pan. Na-na-na-boo-boo.)

1/2 cup bulgur wheat (don't be afraid!)

Optional: 2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar for drizzling (meh, kind of a money waster)

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Saute carrot, celery, and shallot until tender--approximately six minutes. Add water and lentils, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.

2. Stir in bulgur. Cook, partially covered, until bulgur is tender but still a bit chewy--approximately five minutes.

3. Season with salt and pepper. Optional: drizzle with vinegar and/or more olive oil to taste.

That's it and that's all! Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Bon appetit!