Saturday, November 27, 2010

And so this is Christmas

Or at least the start of it! 

Since it's too late at night (or I'm too lazy, you decide.) to get the T-day pictures off the camera, I'll go ahead and fill you in on what we did before we left. Robert and I made the decision to decorate the apartment for Christmas before we left for Virginia, so that when we got back we could jump right on in to the Christmas spirit. My fourteen year old self would have been horrified with this idea (I used to think it was an insult to Thanksgiving if you started Christmas before it had even happened), but when we came home to a sparkly and festive apartment, I knew it was an awesome decision! 

 The Piggies enjoyed listening to Pandora's Holiday station while they hung their stockings by the outside of their cage with care...

 ...and Robert and I took to trimming the tree! Decorating the tree gives me the chance to go back through so many memories, and it's really thanks to my sister. When Robert and I had our first Christmas together as a couple back in 2006, Angela suggested we start the tradition of getting each other an ornament every year to commemorate our time together. I guess she could tell how serious we were about one another, and I am so happy to have the memories. As we were unpacking the years, I got the idea that our ornament tradition would make a fun blog post, but we soon discovered that Robert's half of the ornaments are missing. Therefore, you'll only be seeing my half of the tradition, and I'll put his up later... whenever he remembers to get them from his parents. (Peggy- if you read this and think about it, could you grab them and/or remind us to get them when we're home? Thanks!)

2006- Our first Christmas as a couple. This little chihuahua (my chi-hooo, as I refer to it) was aptly named "Puppy Love." Gag worthy, I know, but you have to admit he's cute. Don't tell the others, but I think he's my favorite.

 2007- Continuing the dog theme, Robert chose this "Snow Buddies" ornament. We didn't actually have our first snow day together until 2009; I think he just liked the dog to be honest. :)

 2008- We were engaged during this Christmas, so I think I had a bit more say in the ornament this year. I have a small obsession with birds, so I'm happy Robert noticed how much I LOVED this ornament when we went looking that year... See babe? You do pick up on my hints sometimes!

 2009- Our first Christmas as a married couple. We didn't actually buy ornaments separately last year. It was an odd month once we decided to move to a new apartment less than a week before we went home for break. The Christmas tree was purchased, put up, then taken down and put away within the same week. Add to that the addition of a dog, and pre-Christmas ornament hunting was not a priority. We ended up shopping for our ornaments on the clearance racks after New Years. 

 Since we were together, we didn't see the point of buying separate "First year married" ornaments. So for our second ornament of 2009, we went back to our puppy theme in honor of the new addition we had just made to our family- Quincy Tate. <3

 Our tree is tiny, fake, cheap, and resembles the end of the toothbrush contraption I used to use to clean out my braces, but I love it. It's ours. Having a real tree in a real house will come later. Until then, this will do just fine. 

I hope your holiday season starts off right! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

As American as... first apple pie!!! This Sunday was the area-wide pie social at Blount Christian, and Robert volunteered me to make a pie. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to use my Better Homes and Gardens subscription and made TWO pies... 'Cuz that's just how I roll, mkay?

Bear in mind- the extent of my pie making consists of frozen pies, store bought pie crust, and one little bitty home made graham cracker crust that was part Fiber One cereal (Thank you, Hungry Girl) and just ok. But for these pies, none of that was going to be good enough. I wanted to make a real pie. I wanted to make apple pie. And a pumpkin pie.

So I did, discovering some things along the way. 

Such as- Pie Crust has a lot of butter. LOTS of butter. 

Not sure how I managed to get all of that butter worked into the flour, but it involved both hands, a butter knife, and sore biceps. 

The end result looked something like this. Not the most beautiful creation ever, but the article said "if your crust is lumpy and ugly with butter bits the size of peas, it's perfect." Ok... If you say so... 

Now, if you've been a regular reader, you know my baked goods don't always turn out. (Burnt Olive Bread and Angel Food cake for example.) Since we were four hours out from the social though, there was no turning back despite my fear of the Ugly Baked Goods crown rearing it's ugly head. I dumped the crust onto my very squeaky clean table, and went to work. 

I also discovered that rolling dough is not easy, but I was successful. I managed to get the pumpkin pie's crust blind baking in the oven while I worked on the apple pie. My apple recipe called for pastry cream in the bottom of the crust. I have no idea why, but I'm so glad I didn't skip it. The cream was amazing! 

After that, I re-discovered that my favorite type of cooking is hands on. 

And Robert discovered that his wife could hide a pile of apples the size of his head under a lovely blanket of pie pastry. 

And he said it would never work... Hater. :P

In fact, not only did it fit, but I had enough leftover to make a dough heart for the top! Here she is, all glazed and ready for the oven. 

While my apple pie was baking, I went to work on my pumpkin pie. 

Then after coaxing both pies into my decrepit oven, I cried huge flour coated tears into my brand new Thirty-one apron when I saw what my kitchen looked like. Luckily I married a man who LOVES to do dishes. Well, love is a strong word, but he certainly doesn't complain... no I take that back too... He doesn't complain so loudly that I can't drown him out with a blaring radio in the other room. That's practically the same thing, right? RIGHT?!?

Don't feel too bad for him though... As Robert cleaned the kitchen, I cleaned the bathrooms. I think that's a fair trade. 

Finally after several hours, and I mean HOURS, of work, the fruits of my labor were ready. I made home-made whipped cream to go with them, and managed to wait until we had sat through the speaker (Former UT president, Joe Johnson. UT and Auburn jokes for twenty whole minutes? Please don't.) before I started hunting for the knife. We ending up spending the entire pie social eating only my pies, and I even surprised myself. They are better than I ever could have imagined. Seriously. 

I have a feeling Thanksgiving back home will hold even more to be thankful for than usual- especially if you're thankful for elastic pants, like me. 

After the noms, courtesy of the cell phone. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Six Reasons to Get Excited About the Holidays...

1. Liam Ross

2. Kaycie Smith

3. Brant Smith

4. Kenleigh Smith

5. Eli May

6. Paisley Murray

I love my babies! I really can't wait to see them all. Even if at least one of them is contagious at all times... <3

P.S. The Smith children's photographs were taken professionally by a wonderful photographer named Adrian Hart. She took my bridal portraits, and she's amazing. Check her out if you live in the Christiansburg/Blacksburg, Virginia area. In fact, there are three bridal photos of me in her weddings gallery on her site. See if you can find them!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Who I Am

"This is your life, are you who you want to be? This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be, when the world was younger and you had everything to lose..." 
- This is Your Life by Switchfoot

I was thinking about home today while walking the dog, and I thought back to some of my most favorite memories. Today's recollection was about my cousin Ashlee and the games we used to play when she came over to my house. We loved to play "house," and we really got into it. 

We had these amazingly life like Lee Middleton dolls that served as our babies. I remember that I had a little auburn haired boy named Joseph Tyler after my daddy. We did more than just play with dolls though; we would invent entire lives for ourselves to act out in my backyard. Most days, I was a famous writer, and my blue bicycle was actually a BMW Z3 convertible. I can't remember what Ashlee's profession used to be, but she always drove a really random type of car. Ha! I do remember that much... We would kiss our imaginary husbands goodbye in the playground clubhouse where we lived, and then we'd go off to work on our bikes. Our office was in the garage, and we'd run errands on the way home. We even had a special spot next to the drive way that served as the "bank." How we could pretend to be grown-ups for hours, I don't know. I certainly don't have that kind of attention span for "playing pretend" anymore, but I love imagining how my nine year old self would think of my twenty-three and a half year old self...

I'm not a writer (yet). My BMW is actually a spiffy little Corolla named Caroline that is much more practical yet still just as loved by me. I married the man of my dreams, but I don't have that little baby at this point and don't plan on one for a while. My real life is not the one I made up years ago in my parent's back yard, but you know what? I think if I could go back and tell her about it, nine year old Liz would be stoked about her life. The song that I quoted at the beginning could be extremely painful to listen to if I allowed myself to be burdened by regret. However, it's not hard to listen to. In fact, it is one of my absolute favorites because this IS my life, and I am EXACTLY who I want to be. Not that I can't be improved upon, that's always going to be true. However, I'm very happy with who I am and who I am becoming. And I'm thankful that I can say that; I imagine a lot of people can't. 

What would your nine year old self think of you today? I truly hope yours would feel proud of you. Even if they aren't, it's never to late to make a change. Remember who you are. Remember how special God made you. There's only one you in the whole wide world, so be sure to represent yourself right.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just Call Us the "Crayolas"

After the craziness/business of the last few weeks, Robert and I decided to make a mad dash to Martinsville for a 27 hour long visit to attend my niece Paisley's 3rd birthday party. It was possibly the fastest trip we've ever made home, but it was worth it to see my... err... colorful (read: quirky) family. :)

Colorful moment number one: my brother's custom made sweatshirt does NOT show a picture of Zach Galifianakis. Nope, that's my cousin, Josh. He's pretty awesome, he's been making me laugh since I was nine-ish, and I'm quite jealous of this bearded piece of pure epic-ness.

 In honor of the party's "Under the Sea" theme (Paisley's mom is a marine biologist), the kiddos dressed up as their favorite oceanic animals. Colorful moment number two: Here my niece Kenleigh (dressed as Nemo) sympathizes with aquarium bound fish the world over. Poor Nemo's face...

Little Red grew four more legs to become a petite, toddling, blue octopus. Colorful moment three (and a random fact): the plural of octopus is indeed, octopuses. Not octopi as I have been saying in my Marine Ecology class for a year. My ability to be moronic never fails me.

Colorful moment four: Brantley, dearest- find a dentist a.s.a.p. 

And Eli made one shocked looking lobster. Those eyeballs remind me of the Prawn from the muppets. Remember those Long John Silver commercials with him? Hilarious! I need to look those up...

Here's the birthday girl dressed as a shark who has let herself go... Note the strange, spare tire-esque padding around the middle... Yeah, I don't get it either. She's still a pretty cute birthday girl though! 

Kaicey, stripped of the octopus costume, showed off her newly acquired walking skills. Colorful moment five: This pained me, and I shed a single tear for her quickly disappearing baby fat. So long jowls! I'll never forget you!

The party took place at a really cool children's museum, so we got to goof off a bit... as if we ever need an excuse to goof off. Colorful moment six: Here's Robert showing you his healing finger in front of the incredibly appropriate (and insanely grisly) scab display.

And lastly, colorful moment seven: my brother-in-law Johnny couldn't resist sending me a picture of the stuffed beaver in the train station/taxidermy extravaganza building across the street. The fact that this fuzzy, double-entendred rodent is my high school's mascot still gives my family fits of giggles. 

And colorful moment number eight: I wouldn't change anything.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

More Scenes from the Weekend

Despite Robert's accident, we still managed to make the most of Halloween Weekend. Right now though, I'm very distracted by the Georgia Tech/Va Tech game, so this will be a quick run-through with really adorable pictures. :)

Saturday night, we went for a historical ghost tour through the Blount Mansion Visitor's Center in downtown Knoxville. It was pretty decent. We got to go inside one of the houses briefly, but the speaker was not the best and this rude guy kept putting her on QT about her stories. (By the way, QT = quiet time. As in saying things to make her look stupid basically.)

After the tour, we decided to just do a walk through market square, but ended up going to see Frankenstein adapted for the stage by Roan State Community College. It was a really fun surprise for the evening, and not a bad way to spend ten bucks... Mom and I used to go to those little local college productions all the time, so I really enjoyed it. And if Robert's vicodin had not worn off, I think he would have liked it just as much as I did. 

The next day was the church's annual Trunk or Treat. Robert and I rolled with our Ghost Buster's theme, and Quincy made her debut as either a squirrel, a dog being eaten by a squirrel, a two-tailed and eight-legged dog-squirrel mutant, or a headless squirrel monster depending on the angle. She was such a good sport, and only tried to eat her acorn once or twice. :)

Robert's Trunk: The ghost buster mobile with flashing blue light and ghostbuster's theme song on repeat all night long. (Surprisingly we did not get sick of it.)

And her was my trunk... errr... table? Robert wasn't allowed to drive, so without his car, we had to make do. We made a giant ghost out of a chair, table, and a sheet. It looked pretty awesome if I say so myself!

Back to the game and chewing my fingernails out of worry! Bah- Come on VT!!! Go! Go! 

Hope you all had a great Halloween! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Hubby doesn't know how to K.I.S.S.*

*For those of you unfamiliar, K.I.S.S. is a method for completing tasks. It stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid.*

I know my updates have not exactly been regular, and I'm sorry about that. Truth is- not much exciting happens to me unless you find working all day and coming home to collapse at night exhilarating. Either I don't have anything to blog about, or I'm too busy to even look at the computer that day. I'm trying to rectify this, but in the meantime bear with me. I have a wonderful story for you today. :)

So this weekend was Halloween, and dare I say it was an exciting one? If you're a regular reader, you may have been expecting a race recap on Saturday as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was listed in my upcoming runs on my race page. However, you can't do a race recap when you didn't even run the race. Yes, I missed a race, and there was a reason. I will give you a recap of that... Enjoy!

So Friday night was spent at the last KHS football game of the season, drinking hot chocolate, trying not to freeze, and dreaming of my warm bed. On the way home from the game, Robert dragged me to Wal-Mart because we needed some last minute touches for his Halloween costume. The plan was to be a ghost and a ghost buster for the 5k we were running in the morning and make everyone laugh as we ran past chasing each other. I was the ghost, and I am lazy, so my costume was easy. I have the KISS method perfected to an art: Buy white sweatshirt. Buy clearance aisle ugly curtain. Cut hole in ugly curtain and stick head through. Done. As soon as I realized my costume was finished, I collapsed in my race clothes and fully intended on just going to sleep as you see me above. Robert didn't like that, so he made me put PJ's on while he finished his costume in the kitchen. I kept saying to him that he didn't need to put that much detail into the costume, but my husband is ambitious to the point of recklessness. His costume, especially the "proton pack" had to be awesome. 

So there I am, minding my own business and drifting off to sleep when I hear Robert yell from the kitchen, "Liz! Get in here quick!" I, annoyed at being woken up, thought that he wanted me to come in and see the dog dance on her hind legs or the guinea pigs jump through hoops. When I asked him why he wanted me, his reply was just five words- "I cut myself. It's bad." I could tell by the tone of his voice that this was not going to be pretty, so I hopped up and ran to see how much damage he had done. 

In the kitchen I found my husband pale-faced and clutching his left hand. Apparently he had been cutting dryer wires with our kitchen shears and ignoring my voice in the back of his head saying "Stop this Robert... You're going to get hurt! Keep it simple stupid!" (Although, I'd never think he was stupid. Ambitious to the point of recklessness? Yes. Knows better? Absolutely. Stupid? Nah. Just an occasional maker of bad decisions. That's all.) The scissors slipped with a terrible amount of force and caught the tip of his left pointer finger. I asked him how badly he cut it and he told me that he thought he might have "cut it off." GREAT! This being the same finger his dad cut off with a table saw some years ago, I wasn't exactly surprised. I asked him if he thought he could find the stump, deciding in my mind that we were going to the emergency room if he did. He picked it up off the floor about two seconds later. I grabbed the half inch thick chunk of only skin and nail (thank goodness), threw it in a baggie of ice, literally tossed the dog into her bedroom, wrapped a jacket around Robert, and hurried off to Parkwest ER. 

I didn't really know what to expect at the ER, but I was calm and Robert was... relatively calm considering the circumstance. I misspelled about eight words on the intake form, fumbled sleepily for my insurance card, and tried not to let Robert see how grossed out I was when I finally got to look at his finger. The CNA's at Parkwest weren't so subtle. Robert quickly became the "man with the finger," and I swear we had 3 or 4 different aides in there to "check his wound" in about a fifteen minute period. I especially enjoyed the younger blonde female CNA that gasped in obvious disgust every single time she saw the wound. She was also the one that disinfected the cut with about eight extremely painful saline packets, so I don't think Robert was quite the fan. My efforts to bring in the stump were in vain however, because the doctor couldn't reattach anything. He covered the wound in what can only be described as an "Instant Scab" called Surgi-seal to stop the bleeding, and he did this with no anesthetic. Robert almost passed out and/or threw up from pain at this point. We thought we were home-free! Not. Right before being discharged, we discovered the Surgi-seal did not work and my husband started to bleed big fat drops of blood on the hospital floor all over again. That was when I almost passed out and/or threw up. 

 After two more layers of Surgi-seal and a compress from an ER nurse, we finally got out of there, grabbed Robert's Vicodin prescription for pain, and managed to make it home by 2am. A 3.1 mile race in 5 hours? No. Not happening. 

So we forfeited our race entry and decided to "sleep in" for the cure instead. Robert got up the next day and went right back to work on his proton pack proving in my mind that he never learns, but the finished product looked pretty awesome. I guess it was almost worth the 4% of his finger that got dumped in the trash at the hospital that night.

My costume though was equally as awesome, didn't require much effort, and left me with all ten fingers intact. 

Clearly I am a good K.I.S.S.-er.