Sunday, March 28, 2010

Now everything is... technicolor.

Let's start off by saying... if you can name the song/movie that the title of this post is from then I will love you forever.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've taken up some hobbies.  Baking is by far the tastiest hobby, but painting has been surprisingly relaxing and at times rewarding.  At work we use painting as a healthy coping mechanism sometimes.  We have a woman come in and teach our group members how to use watercolors and the two hours allotted for group tend to fly by- it's pretty amazing.  After messing with watercolors in these sessions I realized I really enjoy doing it, so for Valentine's Day Joe bought be a box of watercolor tubes, paper and brushes.  He's started painting with me and it's a really nice way for us to spend time together.  We've set up a (formerly used for beer pong) table in our family room so we can sit at a real table but still watch epic shows while we paint- like hoarders, inside 9/11, etc.

Joe has been massively showing me up with his watercolor skills but I go on unimpeded!  My main focus has been trees.  I told a client that last week and she asked why and I realized, I really have no idea why, I just love trees.  I think they symbolize all of nature's beauty in one thing- they reach deep into the earth to gain stability, and then they stretch for the sky... they're just beautiful.  My first tree attempts left much to be desired.

Trees seemed so easy, trunk, branches, leaves, done.  False.  The branches can't all look the same, each branch breaks into a bunch of little branches, the trunk isn't a straight line and no tree is perfectly round up top.  Not as easy as I had hoped, but I kept trying to make one large tree and with a lot of horrible and some decent attempts I made one I was kind of happy with.

It wasn't great but I was happy with the way the leaves looked and the trunk was a little more defined.  It looked like a tree.  After realizing that maybe I needed to start smaller I came up with some trees I was happier with.

My favorite one!

Everything looks so easy when you just look at it.  "Oh sure, Dexter is made up of squares and triangles and circles, I can paint him... oh wait.. he's all black and furry and I suck at this."

So we went to the library on Saturday and we picked up a few books on watercolors.  I flipped through and started copying some sketches and then painting them with my own color ideas and ended up pretty happy with what I had done.

I wasn't born with any real artistic ability so this is a big struggle for me, but I'm learning.  Every time I paint I get a better idea of how to use the paints and how to shape the structure I'm sketching.  I'm learning, and I'm so glad that I can share this process with my husband (even if he is way freaking better than I am).

Bread makes the world go round

I've taken up a lot of new interests recently but my absolute favorite new hobby is baking. I've made cookies and Joe and I have created fun rice krispie treat concoctions, but my focus has been bread. Joe made a batch of bread back when we had all the snow, but we didn't love the recipe. It came out with a really tough crust and didn't rise as much as we would have liked. I found a really simple recipe a few months ago and started working off of that. The first batch was really tasty, kind of flaky crust, soft insides, etc. After that came out well Joe and I started thinking up fun bread concoctions. We started with olive bread. It was pretty tasty, but nothing crazy awesome. After that we made FETA olive bread, but I was a little wussy on the amount of feta I put in. Still, tasty. Next I made cheddar, jalapeño and it was pretty darn good, but again I was wussy with the jalapeños. I also tried a garlic, rosemary bread but it was way too much rosemary and I really wasn't a fan.

Cheddar-Jalapeño Bread, you can see why I like using cheddar.

My sister finished her national boards this week which is a HUGE deal. She and I celebrated with a trip to Love of Jesus (an amazing thrift store), DSW and Melting Pot. Amazing. I promised her a special treat and she chose some form of cheddar bread. I added in some garlic powder to give it a little kick. I didn't get to try this batch but she claims it was tasty.

After making this loaf for Maggie, I felt badly for teasing Joe with the scent of rising bread all afternoon so while we were at the store I picked up a block of kroger brand "chipotle white cheddar" cheese. Joe likes spicy. So I grated up the whole damn block and threw it into the bread mix. Let's just say... you know a bread is good when you don't even need butter.

Needless to say, I'm pretty proud of my new baking skills. I'd love some bread suggestions since I'm a little stuck with cheese and... anything. Not that that's bad! But I'd love some fresh ideas =)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Uh Oh...

I'm already failing at blogging!  However, it's been a super busy few days so I'll use that as an excuse!

So on Friday I turned 26.. I know, that really isn't that old... but all I keep thinking is "oh my gosh that's the downward slope of my 20s..."  not cool.  Luckily I have quite a few amazing friends who have also celebrated their 26th birthday in the last few days, so I'm not alone- we're ALL getting old!

So in honor of my birthday Joe and I had an adventurous weekend!  We headed to Arlington (after a nap) on Thursday evening and had Chinese food with the Costlow family and then just hung out for the rest of the evening.  On Friday I was lucky enough to get to spend the entire day with my favorite little sister, Miss Audra.  She, Joe and I went to Rock Bottom for lunch because I'm slightly obsessed with their mashed potatoes.  We stuffed ourselves and then I bought a bright blue purse at Payless- fabulous.  After that we ran home to say goodbye to Brian who was leaving for Seattle and then the three of us headed out into the beautiful weather to wander around.  Joe got his hair cut while Audra and I went in some really cute little shops.  As soon as we got back we took quick naps and then went to dinner at Boulevard Woodgrill which was fabulous.  We sat downstairs in the bar area where they had half price apps which we totally took advantage of by order ceviche, calamari and firecracker chicken or something.  The chicken was super spicy (just the way Joe likes it) and the calamari was pretty good but the ceviche was suprisingly amazing.  Now, ceviche is a recent food obsession for me.  A few years ago Debbie brought it to a party and I was terrified.. but she convinced me to try it and the rest is history.  It's a pretty scary dish consisting of fish, onions, and a lot of lime juice which kind of "cooks" the fish.  You can understand my fear.  Needless to say Joe makes awesome ceviche but what we had at Boulevard was suprisingly tasty with cucumbers and tomatoes mixed in.  For my entree I had a ribeye with mushroom butter, broccolini and roasted potatoes- fabulous.  Jeff had nachos and everyone else had some form of seafood which everyone raved about.

After dinner we headed home and Joe ran to Carvel to get a Cookie Puss cake.  For those of you who are not familiar with Cookie Puss I strongly suggest you take a look at his wikipedia page- it's fascinating reading.  This Cookie Puss seemed to be a leftover from St. Patty's with some creepy green icing... however his face tasted fabulous.

Joe ended up covered in green icing- not a great look for him.

On Saturday we devoured some Italian Store subs and then headed to Fredericksburg for a Tobin-family gathering.  It was great to get to see my aunt and uncle who live in Massachusets for the first time in too long as well as my Maryland relatives and my MA cousin who happens to be going to school at Mary Washington right now.  We had more steak for dinner and apple pie, carl's icecream and red velvet cake for dessert.  When Joe and I finally folded ourselves back into the car we were stuffed to the gills to say the least.  We got home late on Saturday and went right to bed.

I spent Sunday afternoon at Old Navy with my sister shopping and saving over $100.00 thanks to a 30% off coupon!  Joe spent the afternoon developing blisters from raking our front yard... he's a good man.  We had Cici's for a late lunch and then went to The National to see Ben Folds.  Ben Folds is by far my favorite person to see live, he never fails to amuse the HELL out of me and the show on Sunday was no exception.  Apparently he and Nick Hornby (High Fidelity author) teamed up to write some songs.  Nick did the lyrics, Ben did the music, and together they made magic.  He played a couple of those songs including "The Levi Johnston Blues" which was a hilarious musical ode to the father of the coulda-been-VP's grandbaby.  Amazing.  Ben also spent about 20 minutes on ChatRoulette improving songs about everyone we came in contact with.  Towards the end he admitted he was a bit addicted and would have to be cut off after the next person... who ended up being a dude drinking Jose Cuervo from the bottle while wearing a viking helmet, complete with horns.  Again, amazing.  Joe had never seen Ben perform and I was glad to see that he enjoyed himself thoroughly.

We crashed when we got home from the show and made it to work on time on Monday.  However, the excitement did not end there!  We had a brief visit from one Miss Ashley Belyea and her lovely boyfriend.  It was really exciting to see Bella for the first time since Christmas and to finally get to meet Keith who proved to be as great as she claimed =)  They both commented on our new blogging experiment and suggest we blog about their totally rad visit- so here you go guys, BLOGGING!  We went out for Thai food (our first Thai food in Richmond I think..) which was pretty good, and then we went home to share some drinks and desserts (yes, the leftover red velvet cake as well as Guiness gelato).  I shared some lovely pictures of Ashley during some of her more awkward times (and of course my more awkward times but I was not the focus of Keith's attention) with Keith, which he loved and I think made Ashley want to strangle me.  At one point I confessed that we have most definitely known each other too long.

We also reminisced about some good times- the 911 call in Medford when we were sophomores in high school, the 7th grade fight when she told my the my "twisted sense of justice includes cruelty"- yes, a direct quote, and discussed the fact that people we know are getting married and having babies- a terrifying thought.  All in all, it was a great visit that was, as always, too short.

I also had the chance to talk to Leanne, one of my best friends from college, for a little while this morning.  She's currently living in Australia and we havent spoken since Christmas I think.  It was great to catch up and share our mutual distaste of our current professions.  Talking to her reminded me just how much I miss her.  It's amazing how not seeing or speaking to someone keeps you from acheing from missing them, but seeing Bel and talking to Le this week has been both lovely and also rather painful.  I do miss my girls.

So that's a way-too-long update on my birth-weekend and all of the totally interesting things happening in my life- I hope you've enjoyed =)

p.s.  I totally don't re-read these before I post them... excuse any typos or incomplete thoughts....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Ok, I'll admit it...  I'm enjoying this blogging thing way too much.  I was just telling my friend that I kind of wish I hadn't told anyone about it because I just want to keep typing random crap.  She says that that is even more of a reason to share it with people.  Hearing that got me thinking...  I'm horrible at keeping in touch with people, I always have been.  I had amazing friends when I was in high school and somehow managed to lose them all by the end of college- not because of falling outs or disagreements but just because I never made an effort.  The only two I really maintained were my best girl friends who happen to be on a similar page as I am when it comes to keeping in touch which makes it possible for us to stay close.  We email when we can, sometimes we chat on the phone, but put us in the same room for a couple of hours and it's like no time has passed at all (especially if you fill us up on some butterbeer....  *gag*).  So like I was saying, I'm horrible at keeping in touch with people, so maybe this blog can be a way to keep people up to date on my totally interesting life.  Perhaps it will facilitate more communication between myself and the people I miss.  Maybe it will be a path back into the lives of those I love.

So here is an open request to all those with whom I've lost touch-  come back to me.  I'll make an effort this time, I'd like to change =)  And if that isn't heart warming enough, I hope maybe this picture will remind you how totally amazing I am and make you realize just how much you've missed me.

This is me, probably about 7, hanging out in the middle of the sidewalk with a giant hunk of cheese, a husband pillow, a doll table, and one of the original cordless phones because apparently I was awaiting a phone call.  Amazing.

OMFG I'm Famous!

Ok maybe not "famous" per se... but our friend Sarah came to visit us this weekend after an extended stay in France.  We ended up spending an extreme majority of her time with us eating- but I don't think any of us would have had it any other way.

When my sister moved to Richmond back when I was in highschool I could not understand her interest in living here and I swore that I would never even consider Richmond as my home base.  However, after 5 months in Woodbridge I realized that it was either move... or murder the masses at Poto Mills, and I wanted to be close to family so Joe and I packed up and headed south.  I am lucky enough to have both my sister and brother and their families (including my amazing and beautiful nieces) within miles.  In fact, my dad apparently tracked the mileage and my sister and I live exactly one mile apart- a rather frightening thought for some of you I'm sure.

Wow that was a tangent.

Anyway- now that Joe and I are in Richmond I can't imagine being anywhere else.  We live about 15 minutes from absolutely everything (except my job which does pretty much blow) and although we don't take as much advantage of our city as we should we do venture out sometimes.  Most of our "adventures" involve food since it is by far our favorite thing and luckily Richmond is the place to be when it comes to food in Virginia.  What is it Joe?  Richmond has the most restaurants per capita in the country or something totally ridiculous?  Needless to say, we spent our weekend happily with a good friend and good food.  Sarah wrote it all beautifully on her blog The Damned Mountain

I must add that Joe was the one brave enough to down an entire cup of guinness gelato.  I had amaretto and chocolate hazelnut- my usual.  And my homemade pizza had tomatoes, mushrooms, greek olives, artichokes, mozzarella and parmesan on top of a garlic, red pepper, olive oil mixture. Always amazing.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Dexter, asleep in the car on the way to work.

We got a puppy back in November when he was only 6 weeks old. I had been wanting a puppy for... well for forever... but Joe wasn't so convinced it was a good idea. Eventually I got Joe to agree to let me have a puppy as my Christmas present with the understanding that I would be bringing him to work daily and training him to be a therapy dog. We spent some time hunting through the various local SPCAs to find the perfect pup which proved a little harder than I expected. See... Joe's dream dog is a newfoundland... I mean... really? My dream dog (besides my beautiful rat terrier, Taylor) is a corgi... can you see where there may have been a few disagreements regarding what kind of puppy we wanted? Beyond that, when you're shopping for a puppy through rescue agencies your options are pretty limited. I kind of had to tell Joe we could get a bigger dog in order to get him to even let me think about a puppy... so eventually we found "Big Head Todd." Yes, that was his name. Big Head Todd was part of a litter of about 8 black lab/ border collie puppies. We agreed we wanted a male dog since Tay has had some trouble with girl dogs in the past, and Big Head Todd was the most interesting looking of all the pups. Fortunately, Big Head Todd was spoken for but his brother, Rocky, was available.

Annnyway... we got Rocky, now known as Dexter (yes, he is named after the amazing serial killer Dexter Morgan), at the beginning of November and I started bringing him to work immediately. He settled in really well and was surprisingly calm for a puppy (I worried he had worms but fortunately he was just docile). Now Dex is about 7 months and still sweet as pie. I had him at work today and there was a 2 year old there who was terrified of him. I got him to lay down on the floor on his back and eventually she was giggling while he wagged his tail and his tongue lolled to the side. He's a sweetheart. I was so proud of him when we got home and I told Joe all about it... but then while we were making dinner he started lunging at Taylor and pouncing at her repeatedly. We let him outside to work off some energy and I started hearing weird noises. When I looked out the window I saw Dexter carrying around a large piece of wood from our (unfinished) deck and nearly taking out our grill while prancing proudly. Later I found him with a long piece of black tubing just running back and forth across the yard.

Long story slightly short... Dexter may be as much of a lunatic as his sister Taylor.

So it begins...

It seems like everyone has a freaking blog these days. My husband and I have been joking about creating our own blogs but it always comes back to the real questions at hand- What do I have to write about? Who cares what I have to say? Is my life really interesting enough to merit writing about it publicly? And when it all comes down to it the answers are consistent- nothing, no one, and no. But here I am- with a blog.

Honestly, I think my life is pretty amusing. There never seems to be a dull day whether it's dealing with the interesting people I work with, attempting to maintain some semblance of sanity with my ridiculous dogs, or just spending time with my loon of a hubby. I’m lucky. I love my life, bad days and all. So maybe I need to look at this blog not as a public platform to share something witty or useful with the world, but as an easy place to amuse myself… because I sure do think I’m funny.

So here we go… on a magical trip… I’m sure it will be epic.