There's a snake in my boot!

Just saw Toy Story tres with my lovely amiga Abby. If you're wondering why I'm inserting occasional palabras de espanol, you'll just have to see the movie to find out. It was quite precious, actually. Aside from the little girl behind us asking if every character was sad in almost every scene, and the infant crisis down in front, it was quite a care-free and enjoyable movie-going experience. I highly recommend it.

Now. If my allergies would just take a chill pill, I might be able to tell you about the beach. There's just nothing quite like a span of two or three days of soaking up the salt air and the sound of the crashing waves. As much as the beach comes with it's own innate set of unpleasantries, (you know, the sweating, the repetitious sunblock application, the sand in the crotch of your bathing suit that is amazingly on the inside of the lining), it really is one of God's greatest masterpieces. Andrew and I drove down on Sunday morning and met the whole clan at the campground--everything was in it's place, the "mamas" had each site laid out to be most organized and user-friendly, but to also provide the most community fostering atmosphere--the "git-the-sand-off-ya" showers were rigged up, and the shared mini fridge was stocked with waters, juice, and just about anything else cold and wet. The sun was shining bright and the only thing between us and the edge of America was a quick costume change. The next handful of days were filled with games, (Corn-Hole, Sequence, Cranium, and Fishbowl, to name a few), laying out, playing in the water (or cooling off), going out to eat, hangin' around the campsite, cheering on the Tigers, and an assortment of brownies to tempt even the most disciplined of dieters. It was quite the vacation.

On this week's docket, there's laundry, grocery shopping, work, sleep, and sweating off the brownies. Oh, and I almost killed my plants again while we were away. Leave it to me to abandon my garden on the hottest span of four days this summer. I'm still willing them to live.

In other news, next weekend is the Fourth of July!!! My second favorite holiday next to CHRISTMAS, of course. I don't know, there's just something about America that just makes me smile from the bottom of my heart. There's a part of America that's trademarked by tiny flag pens on expensive lapels, million dollar campaigns, I'll-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine and then there's a part that's more jorts than Jaguars, more "count on me" than count my votes, more nose to the grindstone than nose in the air--that's the part I'll sing about with my hand over my heart. God bless America, land that I love.

And with that, I leave you this.


The Saturday Morning Post: take 2

Andrew is finally HOME!!! Oh, you didn't know he was gone? That's because I didn't tell you. Want to make sure and keep the creeps out. Anyway, he's HOME HOME HOME from Ecuador--and I spent what was probably the longest week of my life alone here in good ol' 'baccy country. Except my mama came for a few days. But other than that I was alone. Destitute. Heart-broken. And not even a puppy dog to keep me company. Okay, okay. It wasn't that bad. But it was.

ANYWAY. While mama mia was here we went to see two movies: Killers (LAME), and Letters to Juliet (CUTESY).

See 'em if you wanna. Your life would still be complete if you skipped them, but if you're at a loss and don't really feel like seeing Splice or some other freaky-deaky dutch sci-fi movie, then go right ahead and purchase your ticket with your semi-current college ID. (I mean, you still feel like a college kid, right? right.) And Andrew and I watched Nine (THEATER/MUSICAL) last night.

Depends on who you are/what you like, but I thought it was good. Lots of chicks in underwear/bustiers, which I didn't quite understand--in all honesty, Chicago and Moulin Rouge were way better, but I will say that Daniel Day-Lewis (Last of the Mohicans, There Will Be Blood) is a great actor. And he is in Nine. His character's name is Guido Contini. And they sing about a million songs with his name in it. It gets in your head.

ANYWAY. We're going to the beach tomorrow! Yippee! A whole three days of oceanside delights. I am making this to take with us. Don't be jealous. I'll have to take 64 walks every day to counteract the calories in this thing. But that's ok. It's vacation. Vacation is code for "pig-out". Which is a hilarious saying.

ANYWAY. When Andrew got home from Ecuador, I made the most American dinner I could think of: hamburgers, corn on the cob, fruit salad, and brownies. Martha has an excellent "recipe" for grilling corn and it goes a little something like this: submerge ears of corn in husks in cold water for one hour. Grill in husks for 20 minutes, let cool, remove husks and silk, and serve with salt and pepper and butter. And floss. (I added the floss part. I think it's a necessary addition). It's delish. Last night I also made raspberry sorbet, (also from Martha). It's super duper easy and a great summertime dessert! All you need is a food processor, 12 oz bag of frozen raspberries (or three cups fresh berries, frozen), 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water; and 1/2 cup whipping cream and another tablespoon of sugar. To make your sorbet, pulse frozen fruit in processor until just chopped, stir water and sugar together in a bowl until sugar is dissolved, then pour into processor. Puree until you've got an ice-cream-like consistency, then transfer to airtight container and freeze for 30 minutes. When 30 minutes is up, whip your 1/2c cream and tablespoon of sugar until stiff peaks form. Serve in cute, summery glasses! YUM! drop a few blueberries on top and you've got yourself a 4th of July dessert that's sure to be a crowd pleaser. God bless America. I would add a picture of the sorbet--it's so pretty!-- but I don't have one and I can't find one online. All I know is that it's in the July issue of MS Living. Check-ch-check-check-check-ch-check it out.

ANYWAY. Now, I've got to go climb Mt. Kilimanlaundry so we can pack, head 'em up and move 'em out. And by the way, only 188 days until CHRISTMAS!!!


Shake, shake, shake, shake-uh-shake it!

I should take a shower. But I'd rather blog. I've had about 87 cups of cranberry juice this afternoon, so I'm really hopped up on the Q. Or hyped up on the Q. (What is Q, by the way? I hope it's nothing bad...) Either way, I'm pretty sure my urinary tract is in tip-top shape. My glomerular filtration rate must be off the charts. I mean, but still good. Moving on to another drink, however. Anyone ever heard of a Queen's Park Swizzle? Anyone know what a swizzle is? Yeah, it's not a dance move or something a rapper uses to cleverly rhyme with words he made up and then trademarked to go on to make millions and influence thousands of unsuspecting young children. It's not. I didn't know what a swizzle was either until a few weeks ago when I went home to see my brother, Noah, who had flown in to visit my parents for a few days down in the Chuck. By definition, a swizzle is "any of the various tall, frothy mixed drinks made usually of rum and lime juice and sugar shaken with ice" or "a tall, traditionally rum based cocktail filled with crushed ice. A stirring rod or swizzle stick is quickly rotated between the palm of the hands to form a frost on the glass." Now, I'm no lush, but... it's AWESOME.

Granted, we were working in less than perfect conditions with less than all of the proper tools, but we made do. Noah taught me how to make a Queen's Park Swizzle and a Bourbon Smash. Annnnd boy did we make some super sippers. They dance on the tongue and sing in the belly. I'm talking about my fav, though. The QP swizzle. I'm no NYC bartender, but through my research I've discovered that a perfect Queen's Park Swizzle would be in a Collin's glass, (tall and skinny, like me. Not.), with true Demerara sugar syrup or "sugar in the raw"--not the white stuff you plop in your tea--a nice 8 year rum, (like a nice sea bass), fresh squeezed lime juice, fresh mint leaves, real crushed ice, (think Sonic ice), and a few dashes of Angostura bitters. {Bitters is "a distillation of aromatic herbs, barks, roots, and plants, steeped in alcohol." It's approximately 45% alcohol, so not something you want to drink outright, but just used in small amounts to add flavor to a drink or food. Much like vanilla extract. Angostura is made from roots. And some other stuff. It's good, don't worry.}

So. First things first. Equipment: tins, jigger, muddler, swizzle stick, Collin's glass or the next best thing, straw. Ingredients: crushed ice, lime juice, mint, Demerara syrup, 8 year rum, Angostura bitters, magic. Numero uno, you have to make your syrup. Two parts sugar to one part water, and depending on how many people you're planning on serving, adjust accordingly. Stick that puppy on a stove top and give it a good stir until all the sugar has dissolved and you've got, well, syrup. It keeps in the fridge, so don't be afraid of making too much.

Next, yank a bunch of mint leaves off your stalk, wash them well and shake off the excess water. Drop 'em in the bottom of your tins, (you know, the shaker thingy). Measure 3/4 oz of your Demerara syrup in your jigger (excuse me?) and pour it in. Don't worry if all of it doesn't go in. You'll be pouring in lime juice next so it will get the rest of it out. Now. This step is very important. At this point all you've got is mint leaves and syrup in the bottom of your tins. You need to muddle the mint leaves so as to bring out the peppermint oils and infuse the syrup with the flavor of the mint. I said muddle not crush into oblivion. So. Take your muddler and gently, but firmly, press down on the mint leaves. There. Now you've done it. Next, measure 3/4 oz of lime juice in your jigger (say what?) and pour that into the tins. See? Got all the leftover syrup. Then measure 2 oz of rum in your jigger (who dat?) and pour that sucker in. Now, close up your tins and shake the ever-living life out of that thing. You should feel it in your triceps. If you don't break a sweat, you're not doing it right. You're basically trying to incorporate everything into one delicious, inseparable liquid--like pouring two cylinders of sand into a box during a wedding ceremony. Except not. So, then, you grab your Collin's glass with your swizzle stick at the ready, pour in the drink from the tins, making sure to get all that delicious mint out, fill that glass up a little over halfway with ice, stick your swizzle stick down in the ice (pardon me?) and quickly rotate it between the heels of your hands until a frost forms on the outside of the glass. Once you're there, now you've REALLY done it. Add more ice to the top of the drink, three or four dashes of Angostura bitters, a sprig of mint and a sexy black straw and you are good to go. Seems complicated? Do it a few times and you'll be taking orders in no time. Or getting mentioned in the New York Times. Ahem, Noah, ahem.

Here's mine. Disclaimer: this was probably the second one I've ever made, it was not in the proper receptacle, and the straws were more like Coca-cola-in-a-glass-bottle straws instead of swanky-NYC-bar straws. Oh. freakin'. well. It was still delicious.


As SK would say, "YEAR WON!"

As some of you might've noticed, whether in pictures or in person, my dear husband's hair is getting rather long. As in Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer long. As in Justin Bieber long. As in he desperately wants a certifiable ponytail before his youth has waned and the sun has set on the "it's my steez" excuse long. Why? I assure you I cannot figure that out. I tease him and try to embarrass him into shaving his head, but he will not have it. I think this might be one of those "pick your battle" moments. At least he bathes regularly.

Last weekend, Sunday to be exact, was our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY! Hip, hip hooray! Whew. And what a year it's been! Many ups and downs, highs and lows, but we wouldn't trade a day.

{Photograph: Brian Tropiano} Here we are, June 6, 2009. What a blessed day. So. In light of our Bob Cratchit finances, we were blessed with some hotel points from Mike and were able to take a mini-vacation for one night to a fancy hotel. In Raleigh. That's right. 30 minutes away. Hey, vacation is a mind-set, people. We had it all figured out: we'd leave straight from church, have lunch, go to the hotel and act like we just arrived in the Florida Keys. It was SO MUCH FUN! And just for the record, when I walk in to a hotel room, I run around into all the areas of the room exclaiming over how great everything is. And then I tamp down the urge to drop everything and jump on the bed. And BONUS, ol' Robert, the concierge, UPGRADED us to a SUITE that went for $500 a night. (Um, thank you Lord?) That's more than 2/3 of what it costs us to rent our apartment for a month. Yowza. Needless to say, we were totally stoked out of our minds.

Sittin' on the couch. Yep, it's a self timer. Documentation is my purpose in life.

The living room area. Soaking up the square footage.

The bathroom was bigger than my kitchen and had his and hers sinks, a huge jacuzzi tub, and a shower with approximately 87 shower heads. And a TV behind the mirror in front of the sinks. Yeah. I know.

The bedroom area--behind me was the balcony to the front of the hotel, and, obviously, the bathroom was connected to the bedroom as well.

The screen behind the mirror. I know it looks weird--but the mirror is in a frame if that helps to see. The picture was faint, (like it was behind a mirror, doiii), but it had great sound and it was easy to change the channels and everything. Snaaazzzyyyy!

I meannnn, you can't go on vacation without snacks.

The view from the balcony to the front of the hotel. Please, do me a favor and scroll up and compare Andrew's wedding hair to his current hair. Pray for me.

I'm a little bit shiny, and a bit winded, but it's probably because I had just finished running around the room and jumping up and down. {Dress: Target; Belt: J.Crew; Necklace: Buckar/my amazing, thoughtful, loving, doting, extravagant husband!}

Right before the rain, walking back to the hotel after dinner and ice cream. Perfection.


Rain "Orr" shine, they tied the knot!

Looorrrdy do. I've got to sit down. The last six days have been a crazy whirlwind. Andrew and I have been to Hendersonville, Clemson, and Charleston--all in the name of fidelity, family, and friendship. The first leg of our trip was to Hendersonville, to crash for the night and to see Zach's new digs, (and what shiny and spacious digs they are), and catch up with old pals that we haven't seen since I-don't-know-when. Andrew and I went our separate ways on Saturday morning--him to Lake Wateree for another friend's nuptials, me to Pendleton for a sweet, sophisticated bridal luncheon with Jamie and Friends. I left with moments to spare and only took one wrong turn, (even though I had the GPS--hey, sometimes you can't really tell where the purple line is. Geez). Still, I had to shimmy out of my shorts and into my skirt on the road, tempting the Fates and testing my flexibility and concentration. I made it in time for mimosas and excited chatter and the powers that be were none the wiser of my tardiness.

Saturday afternoon, sans husband, the Girls 'n' I made our way to the amphitheater at the Botanical Gardens at Clemson, just in time for the first raindrops to splat on the stones and drive us inside to the Madren Center to rehearse for the Big Day. We dined in style at The Galley with friends and family surrounding Jamie and Kent with kind words, encouragement, laughter, and advice. I'm pretty sure anyone with a propensity for tears was boo-hooing, Yours Truly included. I just can't take it when grandfathers, dads, or brothers get choked up, man! And then, of course, Steph with her life altering friendship with Jamie--I was a goner. For sure. It was one for the books. And for a few, one worth a "To-Go" box.

Sunday fun-day was Wedding Day and all the girls convened in the Bridal suite at the Martin Inn, dresses, shoes, and earrings in hand. Oh, and bobby-pins, hairspray, and waterproof mascara, too. It was a morning of finger foods and up-do's, cameras clicking and champagne glasses clinking, peals of laughter and a few crocodile tears, too. A quick change of ceremony venues because of the deluge outside--not without careful consideration--and we were set to see Jamie and Kent get hitched in a few short hours. The ceremony was beautiful--heartfelt and bursting with Truth, reminding us of our purpose, marriage's purpose, and Christ's heart of love for his people. Jamie was absolutely. STUNNING. I'm so serious. I've seen some beautiful brides in my time, but Jamie was just magazine picture perfect! We partied the afternoon away, and saw the freshly minted Orrs off with Clemson orange pompons (yes, I mean "pompons". Look it up.) and glow-sticks lighting their way.

Then. Andrew, Chris, and Jennigray and I began the arduous journey back to Charleston. Jennigray rode with me until Orangeburg and we giggled and chatted until she had to make the switch. The rest of the way home, I had to blast the radio and slap my leg in time to keep myself awake and alert to make it home. I was "le tired", as the French say. Andrew and I made it home safely, a little after one AM, and were greeted by my parents and my Big Brother, Noah, who is a hot-shot bartender in New York City. No, really. He is. We all hung out for the first part of the week until I had to get back yesterday. Noah taught us how to make some yummy cocktails, but more on that later.

Last night as I was driving back to the Triangle, a hurricane whipped up right above Stella and me and dogged us for about 50 miles. It was terrifying, to say the least. To say the most, I could not see but a few feet in front of my car, (there's a reason they call it "blinding rain"), water covered the road, and Lightening reached her bony, spindly fingers into our atmosphere every few minutes, with booming Thunder as her hair-raising side kick. I wanted to pull over and ugly-face cry. But I didn't. I gripped the steering wheel and squinted into the distance, cursing every 18-wheeler that sped by me, totally disregarding Stella's and my fragile state. We made it, though. A bowl of Multi-Grain Cheerios later and I was in bed, a-snoozin' away.

And I will leave you with this...moments before becoming Mrs. Jamie Blackwell Orr!