Sunday, July 27, 2008

Happy birthday to my Mommy!

Today the lovely lady who birthed me celebrates her fifty-second birthday.

My mom is a wonderful person and mother--kind, other-oriented, nurturing, giving, self-sacrificing, encouraging, loving, the works. I've put her through a lot, so it's a good thing she's so awesome. Case in point: I was a giant baby. After a long day of labor, my head got stuck on the way out, making it necessary to slice her down the middle to pull out my fat infant ass. I've been similarly inconvenient ever since. For some miraculous reason, she loves me anyway.

She has been there for me through it all. How she dealt with eighth grade math, the ages of thirteen and sixteen, and my epicly bad taste in boyfriends, I will never know.

Even now she gives up what she wants in order to accomodate me. We spent the day together yesterday to celebrate, and instead of going out to dinner and a movie as we had planned, she said we should order Chinese food so that Jason, who was on call for work and had to stay by his computer, could have a good dinner too. When I gave her my old digital camera (that she bought me for $500-some back in the day) as a present, she thanked me profusely--even though she bought it! When it was bedtime, she perched herself on the edge of our tiny spare bed so as not to disturb the Lola cat, who was nestled right where her feet ought to have been. My whole life she's told me that people (and cats) are more important than things. After 50 years of selflessness, she'd be well within her rights to want more of a celebration, but she always practices what she preaches--even on her birthday. If I am ever a mother, I hope that I am even half as good at it as she is.

I took her to the airport this morning for a trip home to visit family in Michigan, where I hope she gets that dinner out. As for me, I love you Mommy, and I'll take a rain check.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Treat of the day

I had planned to make these for dessert after our Indian dinner the other night, but by the time we were done eating we were full and ready to head to bed. Not to worry, they also make an excellent after-work refresher.

Mango Shakes
2 ripe mangoes, pits and skins removed
1 large banana
10-12 ice cubes
2/3 cup plain soy milk
1/3 cup orange juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender (put the ice in first). Serve immediately. Makes two 16 oz. servings.

If using frozen mango (I prefer fresh ones because they're so juicy, even though they're a pain to prepare--I'm also kind of a neanderthal and really like to suck all of the leftover fruit off the pit), omit half the ice. For a more fruity drink, use 1 cup orange juice and omit soy milk.

I rolled $49 worth of coins today. Who needs a job when Jason the coin collector regularly donates to any open patch of tabletop?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Food items of interest

Tonight I cooked a real dinner for the first time in a while, and I haven't done a food post in a while, so that's what you're getting today. (Do salads count as cooking? I chop a lot when I make salads, but there's not any actual cooking involved. I did bake special cornbread to go with a salad the other night, but I didn't take a picture of it, so I'll have to make it again and write about it some other time--it was good.)

It was fun, although I'm dreading the dishes in the sink. I do enjoy cooking, but not so much cleaning up after myself. My stovetop is filthy with splatters and crumbs. Nobody needs to see a picture of that. Besides, my mom's dirty daughter radar would track it down on the Internets and then tell me I should do a better job of cleaning up or else I'm going to get bugs (trust me, whatever kind they were, they wouldn't last a second in here with our cats--the other night they were eating june bugs, and when we were living in Virginia Beach Jacob and Jasper ate cockroaches).

We did not have bugs to eat tonight, however. I made an Indian dinner: Patak's Sweet Peppers and Coconut Jalfrezi sauce, Morningstar Farms Chik'n Strips, a can of okra sautéed in olive oil with a medium-sized diced organic white onion, three spoonfuls of chopped garlic (from a store-bought jar), and one medium-sized diced organic red bell pepper. We had store-bought naan (egg free, but it does have dairy ingredients--boo) and jasmine rice on the side, with tall glasses of soy milk to wash it all down. It was so good, even Jacob wanted a taste--he had his eyes on the naan. He got his claws into it at one point while I was plating the food, but I caught him before he dragged it off the table. Indian food is one of Jason's favorite dinner genres, so it went over well.

I also discovered a special heart-shaped potato chip the other day, in a bag of Cape Cod chips that my mom bought at the actual chip factory when she was on her East Coast Tour of 2008. (I have been to a cereal factory--the now-closed Kellogg's Cereal City USA in Battle Creek, MI--and a GM plant in Ohio, but never a chip factory. Perhaps, if taken at gunpoint, I too will tour the chip-making place.) I am saving the Holy Grail of fried and salted potato slices in a plastic bag so Jason can eat it the next time he has a sandwich. Isn't it lovely? That is how much I love my husband--I save him interesting chips out of the bag. I know--you're wishing I were your wife right now.

Maybe tomorrow I'll find him a piece of cereal shaped like a nice round rack. He'd like that even better. Or maybe I'll just flash him every once in a while.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Anniversary fun: Maine mini-moon and Dropkick Murphys concert

What an exciting couple of weeks we've had, filled with new things and adventures.

Jason and I celebrated our second anniversary (second of being married, third of being together) on July 4 with a spur-of-the-moment long weekend trip up to Old Orchard Beach, Maine--our first real vacation together! Of course, I documented the trip with my anniversary/early birthday present: a new Nikon Coolpix S550 camera! I love this baby. It's tiny, fast, and a lovely step up from my previous Coolpix 800 (circa 2000). It was high time for an upgrade, and the excitement I felt when Jason took me to the store to pick it out was eclipsed only by the high of hitting the road in our freshly-washed Corvette, beachbound.

Beaches are a special place for us. Our first date was a trip to the oceanfront in Virginia Beach on July 4, 2005. We've been together ever since that day, and we got married on the same beach a year later (made legal at court the next day). So this year, we decided to make it a beach three-peat.

Old Orchard Beach is gorgeous, in a charming, non-commercial Maine way. It almost reminded me of going up to the UP. We caught the fireworks on the 4th, and spent the next day having fun in the sun, reading in the sand, walking along the beach, and sticking our toes in the waves. We had a beautiful, romantic dinner out that night at Pepperclub, a restaurant in Portland known for its vegetarian food. Getting dressed up for dinner + going to a restaurant with multiple veg options = a very happy Heidi! They even had egg-free key lime pie--swoon! The next day we did some outlet shopping before heading back home. Not even the thought of all the cat poop we'd be returning to could wipe the smiles off our faces.

The whole thing was perfect. I don't think I have smiled so much for three straight days in my whole life. Even the waitress at our special dinner commented that we just kept smiling at each other. We're just so happy to be together, be married, and enjoy some quality time together. I think that's the most important part of marriage--to always have fun being together! Maine definitely brings out that side of us--and it's only two and a half hours away. OOB, we'll be back.

Thursday night we continued the celebration with my surprise present for Jason: tickets to the Dropkick Murphys concert at the minor league baseball park in Lowell. Well, it was supposed to be a surprise, but he let his curiosity get the better of him and he searched online until he found out where we were going. He admitted it a few weeks ago while we were out to dinner. I kicked him under the table and gave him shit the rest of the night... at least it gave us the opportunity to be excited together. I had to tell him to reserve the evening for me. Since he travels so much for his job, I had to make sure he got permission from his boss to work in house that day, to guarantee that he'd be in town for the evening. So all he had to do was look up July 10 events in Lowell, that nosy bastard.

Jason introduced me to The Dropkick Murphys. They're a Boston punk band, plus bagpipes. (And who doesn't love bagpipes? I freakin' love bagpipes! Maybe it has something to do with studying abroad in Scotland?) They're one of the few punk bands he likes that I've listened to and legitimately liked every song I've heard. So when I saw that they would be coming to town, I knew we had to go.

The opening act was a girl punk rock band that I had never heard of and didn't particularly like. We sat in the stands and had pizza and hot pretzels during their set. Then we headed onto the field to check out the merch booths and get closer to the stage. The co-headliner was the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, who, Jason informed me, are a ska band. This meant nothing to me until they started playing the third song, "Where'd You Go," which is on the Clueless movie soundtrack. Cue the lightbulb over my head. I thought they were cute all dressed in coordinating plaid suits, and it turns out that I like ska music more than I expected. They even brought this couple on stage for a song--and he proposed! She, of course, said yes. The icing on the cake was their final statement before leaving the stage: an Obama banner drop. Right on!

The Dropkick Murphys took the stage preceded by a corps of bagpipers. The ballpark was full by that time, both on the field and in the stands. Everyone went crazy! It was a great show, despite all the smokers and drunk people who appeared down by the stage as soon as the sun went down ($7 cups of watered down Bud? No thanks.). We managed to snag a spot on the fence (keeping people off the grass), so we stayed away from the crowd surfing and moshing. Highlights of the show were the three sets of fireworks they set off and the little girls they brought out to do Celtic step dancing (à la Riverdance). For the encore they let people come up on the stage to dance to "Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced"--and lots of people certainly were. Jason said he smelled marijuana, but you know me, I've been in the presence of people smoking pot exactly once in my life (in Scotland on study abroad, wouldn't you know--is there some link between bagpipes and weed that I missed?), so I couldn't identify that smell if my life depended on it.

The two of us were just shitfaced with happiness.

After a week-long celebration, I rate this our best anniversary yet. I can't wait until next year!