Thursday, May 21, 2015

Life List: I Fully Support Your Avenging

I've wanted to go to a drive-in movie for literally years. YEARS. There was one in Oklahoma City when I was living there, but for some reason in four years of college, I never once made the trip up there.

I'm not even totally sure why I was SO into the idea. I mean, the only time I'd ever even seen anything about drive-in movies was this:

Why was there a swingset in front of the movie screen in Grease?

It just seemed so quaint! Like going back in time.

Anyway, we discovered that there was a drive-in theater nearby, and so Matt suggested we go see The Avengers: Age of Ultron when it was playing last weekend.

We got there pretty early and there was already a line of cars pulled along the side of the road waiting to get into the gates before they opened. Once we got in and got our tickets, a sign directed us to park in the back three rows because we were in a truck.

We picked the first of the back three rows to get closer to the screen.

Once we parked, we made for the snack bar. Typical snack-bar foods. I can't say I was super impressed by the options, but we had brought a small cooler's worth of food in with us too, so we had plenty of snacks for the movie.

You can see in the photo above that they even had those audio boxes you hang on your window! I tried to use the one next to us, but it wasn't working. I'm not sure if they're supposed to work, or if the theater stopped using them since you can now play the audio over your car speakers by tuning into a specific radio station.

They didn't show any previews, which was fine by me, but there also weren't any cute, old pre-show snack-bar ads like Grease had, either. Oh well.

I hadn't seen the first Avengers movie, nor any of the movies of any of the other superheroes involved, with the exception of the first Iron Man. So I didn't really have any expectations for the movie. But I thought it was pretty good. There were a lot of explosions, and you had to ignore the reality of some pretty big things like gravity and science, but it was entertaining, and I was just excited to be there. :)

It was a lot of fun, and definitely a different experience! Matt thinks that once we trade my truck in — likely before next winter, because there were times I thought I might die in Esmeralda this past winter — if I end up with a smaller car, we should come back and park in one of the rows further up. Even though there weren't that many rows, we were still far enough back that he had some trouble seeing the details of the movie, with his bad eyesight. (I thought it was fine where we were, but I would have liked to sit closer too.)

Have you been to a drive-in theater? And here's my real question: Who would win in a fight, the Avengers or the X-Men? (I had this conversation with Matt the other morning. He said Thor would destroy the X-Men because he was basically all powerful. I said Magneto would destroy Thor, and Iron Man and Captain America too. He said Magneto wasn't actually one of the X-Men, but either way, Hulk would destroy Magneto. What say you?)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cookbook Challenge: Ogres Are Like Onions

I would say that a good amount of my conversations with my husband involve us quoting our favorite TV shows. The bulk of the quoting is from Friends or How I Met Your Mother, but I am also decent at quoting The Office and various movies that I've seen several times.

I am much better at remembering obscure quotes from things than Matt is. I wonder, if my brain wasn't so full of quotes, what kind of knowledge I could have. I ask Matt this all the time, most recently when I knew every word to an NSYNC song we heard at a baseball game, despite having not listened to the song in years. You can't really help what sticks and what doesn't, I suppose.

That said, my spectacular ability to quote things has nothing to do with the fact that I've finished some more recipes from the Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook. Other than that I've thrown in a Shrek reference or two for good measure.

Warm Artichoke and Green Onion Dip
I love artichokes. I love green onions. But I did not love this dip. It had WAYYYY too much Parmesan cheese in it. The Parmesan cheese overpowered both the artichoke and the green onion. They should have just called this one "Put Some Parmesan On Your Triscuits And Have A Nice Day." But I made it on a dreary, cold and rainy day, and my book club loved that it was a warm dip?

Tuna With White Beans, Artichokes and Black Olive Tapenade
It rained all week, so instead of (asking Matt to help with) grilling my tuna steaks, I seared them on the stove. Based on all the stuff that was topping the tuna, I was expecting that Matt was not going to like this one at all, but he surprised me and thought it was really good! It had a dark, earthy flavor. I don't think Elliott realized that it was tuna, since it didn't come out of a can, so she did not harrass us for any.

Confetti Coleslaw
I've never been a huge coleslaw fan. Whenever we've eaten at barbecue restaurants (this was in my pre-vegetarian days) I've stayed away from coleslaw because it kind of has this reputation for being mayonnaise slop with a little bit of cabbage thrown in. So I was thrilled when this recipe used minimal mayo, and left all the flavor to a sugar-vinegar mixture. The coleslaw was delightful — crunchy, tangy and light. Next time you throw a barbecue, invite me and I'll bring some.

Classic Lasagna
No photo for this one. I should have taken one when I prepped it the night before, but I wanted to take one of the finished product in all its cheesy, melty glory. But then we had company and I wasn't going to be weird and make them wait while I photographed their food. I made this meat-sauce lasagna (ground beef and Italian sausage) when Matt's parents were in town a few weeks ago, and the three of them all said it was very good, and then polished off all the leftovers over the course of the weekend. (I made plain ricotta lasagna rolls for myself.)

Yogurt Granola Parfaits
"What about parfaits? Parfaits have layers, everyone loves parfaits!" These were a good and quick option when I needed a treat to take to a friend's house because we were having a Queen Elizabeth movie marathon (the Cate Blanchett versions). We wanted to be fancy. Also, why does this cookbook have so many recipes that are literally just "throw X, Y and Z in a glass/bowl/plate and call it good"? It's kind of weird. I'm not complaining though. It's making my life really easy.

Grilled London Broil Fajitas / Guacamole
Knocked out two recipes with one meal! I made homemade guacamole (I should have added more salt, but otherwise it was delicious), and I prepped and cut the fajita meat and Matt grilled it. The meat smelled amazing, the pepper/onion mix was delicious, and the salsa recipe that was included with the fajita recipe was good (though not as good as my college salsa). We had a friend over on May 4 and had a pre-Cinco de Mayo fiesta with ¡fajitas y bebidas!

Completed: 82 of 147 recipes.

What is your favorite summer barbecue food?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Virginia List: Our Trip to Charlottesville Went Off With Basically No Hitches

We went to Monticello! Matt took a nice panoramic photo and I photobombed it and ruined it.

For our belated dating anniversary/early wedding anniversary (who knows anymore, we've started calling the months of March through May "anniversary celebration months"), we planned a trip out to Charlottesville, Virginia. The ultimate goal was to see Monticello, the house/plantation/estate that Thomas Jefferson built that also kind of doubles as his presidential museum. We didn't really make any specific plans outside that.

When we were looking for a place to stay, Matt went on AirBNB and found this guest house on the outskirts of Charlottesville that looked really cute, and it was on a little farm! I was really excited to see some goats. They also had chickens and a rooster and a little pond full of tadpoles and fish, and some cute puppies.

Goats named Nutmeg and October!

Isn't this place just the cutest? The dogwood trees had just bloomed. (Those are the white ones.)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Livin' The Dream

I've been trying to live the crap out of life. That's the short version of where I've been the last few weeks.

The longer version? You know how when you've been in and out of town or had people coming in to visit, how suddenly all your routines get thrown off and then you feel hopelessly behind for the rest of the week? I've been totally overwhelmed because not only did Matt and I take a little weekend trip a few weeks ago, but the following weekend his parents and a few other relatives came in to visit us, and we had a blast exploring new things in Virginia. Especially breweries. There were a lot of trips to breweries over those two weekends.

I'll be sharing more about both of those trips over the next few weeks, hopefully. The photo above is from Monticello, in Charlottesville. The tulips were blooming, and I took about a thousand photos of the flower I love so much I named my business after it. What up Thomas Jefferson. (I mean, I'm no longer actively running that business, but still.)


The other long version is that sometimes I just get really overwhelmed, and then blogging starts to feel like a frivolous, pointless obligation instead of something I do for fun. I know it's not. I love looking back at things I've done and felt and tried, and my family loves seeing what kinds of stuff I've been doing, and I love the outlet of getting things out of my muddled head and onto the page. I love reading other people's stories too, though when I disappear from my own space, chances are good I'm not commenting either. But I'm always reading.

I'm not the best at taking care of myself, allowing myself rest. I always want to go go go, get more done, see more things, be all things to all people. 

So I'm going to try harder to cut myself some slack when I get overwhelmed, maybe not try so hard to stick to a writing schedule (you're laughing right now, going "what schedule? pah!") and just post when I have something to say or a new adventure to share.

But if I disappear again, know I'll always come back. Unless I get hit by a blimp or eaten by a bear or something. (Apparently there was a bear that went running through downtown a couple years ago. I hear the best stories from my co-workers. I don't know what happened to the bear, but I hope it's okay. And that no one was hurt.)

What do you do when you're overwhelmed? What things do you find restful?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cookbook Challenge: What's In Your Liquor Cabinet?

After a little bit of a break, I'm back to working on the cookbook challenge. I'm probably not going to finish by the end of 2015 now unless I fo' real hustle, but I needed to cut myself some slack on something, and well, sometimes I'd rather put priority on other adventures. Or, you know, real life. (We had a lot of episodes of The Voice and Amazing Race to watch.) Anyway.

One of my favorite parts of the Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook is cocktail recipes! I'm going to have to buy a good amount of hooch to try all the booze-y recipes (and some other recipes that also use liquor as an ingredient), because it turns out a bottle of vodka, two half-empty bottles of triple-sec, a mostly-empty handle of rum from our undergrad days and some mini bottles of German schnapps does not a "liquor cabinet" make.

Sauza Margaritas
As you can see, I did not purchase Sauza tequila. Because I don't like tequila and Sauza only came in large bottles, so I bought whatever non-off-brand I could get in a flask-sized bottle, which happened to be Jose Cuervo. (I suppose whatever is left of it can be donated to a good cause, like my sister's wedding. She is having a dry wedding, kind of against her will, and is already talking about us bridesmaids carrying flasks.) I am typically very "meh" about margaritas, and I felt approximately the same about this one. However, Matt actually does like margaritas, and he said these tasted good. P.S. You should listen to this song while you drink Cuervo margaritas.

Daddy's Oatmeal Cookies
I'll admit, I'm not the biggest oatmeal cookie fan. And I have been wrong all my life for not liking them. These were the most delicious oatmeal cookies I've ever had, and I ate a lot of them, because it made a humongous batch. Also, I cheated a little and didn't actually make these myself. Matt made them. For himself. On his birthday. Because I'm a bad wife.

Lemony Tarragon Crab Dip
I used imitation crab, because that was all I could find at Kroger. I made this dip for a book club potluck, and it was super fast to assemble, and pretty tasty to boot. Only downside is the cookbook said to serve it with salt and vinegar chips, which I don't particularly care for, and apparently none of the people at my book club do either, so now I'm stuck with a big bag of gross chips.

It doesn't look like it, but I did make the layers pretty even. It was just hard to get to the edges.

1-2-3 Mexican Dip
Another day, another potluck. This one was a Mexican-food-themed church potluck, though, so I went to town making this cookbook's version of a seven-layer dip. (It only had three layers, though: beans, sour cream and salsa, with various spices and onions and peppers mixed into the main components of each layer.) It got many compliments, and then Matt was disappointed when I took all the leftovers to work with me and left him with none.

Bow Tie Pasta With Asparagus, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Boursin
I love asparagus, and so I am glad it is spring because the asparagus is fresh and fat and relatively cheap. This pasta dish was good — both Matt and I liked it — but as I was eating it, I thought, "This is not a pasta dish that I will remember a week from now." It's not anything spectacular, but if you're looking to get more veggies in, it's hard to beat the ease of asparagus in pasta. Just boil your pasta and throw the asparagus into the pot for the last two minutes.

Mary's Bloody Marys
I don't like celery, so I didn't garnish these. (The book said you could also garnish with a dill pickle or pickled asparagus, but by the time I got around to making these cocktails, we had just gotten back into town from a weekend away and it was just too-bad-so-sad.) Even so, the celery salt on the rim was tasty, and the drink itself was pretty good, tomato-y with a little bit of a spicy kick at the end. Matt made pancakes and eggs for brenner, and it was lovely. Though I didn't finish my cocktail, and Matt didn't like them at all.

Completed: 75 of 147 recipes.

What's in your liquor cabinet? Do you like salt-and-vinegar chips? What's on your DVR/in your Hulu queue/on your Netflix list?