Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Physical Manifestations of Stress

So, kids - buying a home, changing jobs and getting married within 4 months is no joke. Serious. But I'm learning a lot of adult things and a lot about myself, like the fact that my left eye twitches when I'm under severe stress. And I'm experiencing some serious stomach discomfort that I think is another physical manifestation of my stress. Or maybe it is lactose intolerance (yesterday's macaroni and cheese?).

But in this week before Father's Day, I'm really appreciating my Dad. He's been a voice of reason and of encouragement. And he has single-handedly turned my hellish morning around with this little gem that he included in his email to me a few minutes ago: "P.S. I'm taking the "Harrassment In The Workplace" CBT ... ann'l requirement by Thrivent. I've learned that I can't pro-long a hug."

Thanks Dad. You are truly the best!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Raise the Roof Friday

Though I've got my fair share of things to be stressed about right about now, I'm going to focus on a few things that are definitely worth raising the roof for:

1. Our offer on the house was ACCEPTED!? Wow. Still trying to wrap my head around that one, but how amazing is that? We are out of our minds with excitement, anticipation, stress and paperwork, and we're just hoping that all goes smoothly. Sparkly, kickass DC rowhouse! (Raising the roof)

2. Its Friday and this weekend is going to be quite remarkable: future sister-in-law in town, SOFT ROCK party at Asylum (yes, there will be REO Speedwagon, Journey, Hall & Oates, Amy Grant, and much much more), my star-of-a-sister Alison's 24th birthday (!!! holy crap I can't believe she's turning 24!), and hopefully a break from the daily thunderstorm madness that has been terrorizing DC!!

3. We got a very special, belated engagement gift in the mail yesterday. It's a book from some awesome family friends of ours back in Illinois, and the book is entitled, "His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage"! Now that's something I can get behind, and I am quite sure there are some gems to be found in that book that I can pass along to friends - "Congrats on getting married; now its time to affair-proof that shit!".

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our DIY Save the Dates

When Daniel and I decided to send Save the Dates, we knew we wanted to send something fun that would set the tone for our wedding.  Inspired by the DIY projects seen on wedding blogs*, we decided to go the photo strip/gocco route.  Here's the play by play of our craftiness:

1. Buy paper/envelopes at Paper Source.  We went with the "cement", as it was on sale and crafty-looking.

2. Take fun photos with your Macbook and then spend hours in photoshop trying to put them into strip-form and balance lighting so that Daniel's face is visible and mine isn't glowing white. We may be crafty, but tech-savvy we are not.

3. Print photo strips on your home printer on photo paper. Cut em out.

4. Cut paper-source paper into whatever size backing you want (we wanted them big enough so that we could gocco our wedding info onto the bottom).

5. Get your gocco on!  We chose red ink because it would pop against the neutral paper and the black/white photo.  

6. Trim the paper so that it fits nicely into the cute envelopes you bought.

7. Put the photo strips into the little black photo corners, adhere to the paper, and admire your crafty product.

To finish it all off, we typed up all the names/addresses and printed em out on clear labels. We took 'em to the post office, dropped 'em in the mail, and just waited for the compliments to roll in. And they did. :)

*many wedding bloggers refer to Save the Dates as STDs but not even my devoted love of efficiency will get me to refer to our wedding stationery as an STD. no way, jose. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

They may be right, We may be crazy

(name that reference!)

SO. With so much of our wedding planning done, I've found the perfect way to occupy our time and (my) obsessive-compulsive energy: buy a house! Yep, putting most of the money we've saved up to pay for our wedding (with cash) into a downpayment for a house does seem slightly insane, but so does not putting an offer on a totally renovated rowhouse with brand-spankin-new everything that is in our price range (because, you see, DC rowhouses that are beautiful and move-in ready are quickly scooped up, leaving only the serious fixer-uppers with fatal flaws). We'll be fine if we get rejected, but we'd hate to look back at this sparkling rowhouse and think "what if...". So thats why we decided to write up an offer at 11pm last night. Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Mexican Holiday

It all started with this place called La Santanera. Daniel excitedly mentioned one day in November that he may have a DJ gig at this bar La Santanera owned by someone he knows here in DC, and this bar happened to be located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. He said they'd pay for two tickets and could set us up at someone's condo, and he asked if I'd be down to go ("um, yes please"). His gig would be on Friday December 12th, and he made all the arrangements with the people down there.

This was strange for me, as I'm always the travel planner and arranger...but it was delightful not to worry about it. The only thing I semi-worried about was all the travel I was doing that December: a wedding in Chicago the first weekend, Mexico the next weekend, Philly for Christmas, then departing for Liberia (!) December 28th. It was a bit overwhelming but completely awesome.

So, early that Friday morning we boarded a flight to Cancun, and I listened to a few Spanish lessons I'd downloaded to my iPod (sadly, my knowledge of Spanish is limited to the names of my favorite Mexican foods, beers and tequilas and what little Spanish I picked up while nannying for a little girl who loved Dora the Explorer). Arriving in Cancun, we boarded the bus to Playa where our condo contact, Jay (this blonde Minnesotan who relocated to Playa to take advantage of the growing real estate market), showed us our place which coincidentally had been upgraded due to their mistake in doublebooking our original spot. Stepping into this penthouse condo, my jaw literally dropped to the gorgeous tile floor. It was a lofted penthouse with three bedrooms, three baths, a spacious kitchen and dining room, a jacuzzi, and a freaking ROOFTOP POOL and patio. Whaat???

Dumbfounded as we were, we were also starving, so we walked down the street to find something to eat. We happened upon this cute Argentinian place and got a table for two:

So, here we are, margaritas (con sal) in hand, hanging out in Playa del Carmen, staying at an immaculate condo...I'm slightly suspicious. It went like this: "So, Daniel - 'fess up. How much is your DJ gig actually covering?" Daniel replies, "Um...there is no gig...(yadda yadda yadda)...I brought you down here to ask you to marry me. Should I get down on one knee?" I laugh; I cry; people look at us like we're crazy; and we're engaged! Wahoo!!! We ask our confused server to take our photo and eventually he obliges. Check. It. Out.

As it turns out, Daniel worked with a Brooklyn jewelry designer to design the ring (which is perfect, if you ask me), and he called my Dad the night before we left for Mexico to ask for permission. Apparently, my Dad didn't say anything right away because he was jumping up and down and overcome with emotion...I love my Dad.

So, Daniel didn't have to DJ at all that weekend, so we celebrated, relaxed, hung out on the beach, and celebrated some more. It was an AMAZING weekend, and Daniel was the mastermind behind it all. I am one lucky girl. A few more photos:

Fusion Cafe and Hotel where we spent lots of time:

Makin it official in T minus four months, y'all.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Delicious Lemon Risotto

Yesterday, I dug up one of my favorite springtime/summer recipes to cook for my sister and fiancé: Lemon Risotto. It is light, fresh and delicious...and pretty simple to make. I'm not sure where I found my recipe which I've altered, but there are similar recipes on epicurious.com. I'm partial to mine. Sorry I forgot to take a pretty photo of it! Here 'tis:

5 c. vegetable broth or bouillon

1-1/2 T. EVOO (I'm not a huge Rachel Ray fan, I just really like acronyms)

2 shallots or half of an onion, finely chopped

2-2/3 c. risotto or arborio rice

1/4 c. vermouth or dry white wine

1/2 c. fresh-squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons)

2 T. parsley, chopped

zest of 2 (washed) lemons

1/2 c. plain nonfat yogurt

salt/pepper to taste

optional: grated parmesan and/or avocado slices to garnish

In a sauté pan, bring broth to simmer. In large pot (or fancy risotto pan thing), sauté shallot/onion in EVOO until softened. Add risotto and stir until grains are coated. Add vermouth/wine and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add lemon juice and ladlefuls of broth, stirring until it is absorbed, so on and so forth until all liquid is added and absorbed. At this point, the grains should be tender, but sometimes I find another splash of wine/vermouth doesn't hurt! Turn off heat, stir in parsley, lemon zest and 1/2 c. yogurt. Garnish with parmesan and/or avocado slices (mmmm), and serve! This should feed 4-6 people.