Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas at the Greshams' House

The weekend after Thanksgiving, Cole and I got our first tree together. Yes, after 4 and a half years of marriage, this is our first Christmas to have a tree.

We picked it out with very little trouble and brought it home.
Then Cole put the tree stand together.


And viola! It was up!



It took a while to find the right lights and the right tree topper. And it was hard to motivate myself to decorate it, but it is finally finished.


I'm pretty proud of our efforts. I think it's a great first tree. We even found the first ornament we got together on our honeymoon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Aaand we're back!

Wow...sorry for such a long absence. I know you've been waiting with bated breath for my return. The wait is over!

A lot has happened since my last post. My internship ended. We went to Monroeville for Thanksgiving and my best friend's wedding. I went to Auburn to celebrate my grandfather's 90th birthday, and Cole's head almost exploded as Alabama won the SEC Championship.

Since finishing my internship, I have been trying to become a better homemaker. If you know me at all, you know that cleaning and organizing aren't exactly my best things. My new role is helping me figure out what systems work for me and also how to motivate myself to do the things that I really don't enjoy doing at all. Last week was my first full week at home, and I think it went pretty well. I cooked dinner every night and tried a couple of new recipes. I cleaned a lot, especially the parts of the house that had been neglected for a way too long.

Today I finally finished unpacking all of our china. I have washed almost all of it and put it in our new buffet in our dining room. It was very exciting!

Now that I'm home full-time, I'm going to try to get our house and our lives more organized. I've been working on a cleaning schedule to keep me on track, and I've been scouring my cookbooks for new recipes to try. I think I'm going to make steak fajitas and oatmeal cream pies tomorrow. Yum! I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Oh, and Christmas tree pictures are coming soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Trivia Thursday

Did you know there is such a thing as Gresham's Law?

Yeah, me either. But there is. I found it in the dictionary this week while I was looking something else.

If you're interested, Gresham's Law, according to the dictionary, is an observation in economics that states when two coins are equal in debt-paying value but unequal in intrinsic value, the one having the lesser intrinsic value tends to remain in circulation and the other to be hoarded or exported as bullion. Broadly, it is any process by which inferior products or practices drive out superior ones.

Since this discovery was so enlightening and exciting, I've decided I may undertake reading Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary cover to cover. I'll let you know how that project goes...ha!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mexican feast and an experiment

As I think I've mentioned here before, I am enjoying trying new recipes for dinner every night. Cole loves variety, and I like not being in a rut. Cooking in Tuscaloosa often wasn't fun because I made the same things over and over. Instead of being excited about dinner, I just grumbled while I made the same ol' thing and threw it on the table. I've been trying lately to take more pleasure in making a nice meal for us each and every night. And it's been working.

I find new recipes mostly from internet searches, but sometimes I'll dig through one of my cookbooks for a new idea. Many times I'll stumble upon a good cooking blog that has several ideas to choose from. Cole is always up for whatever I want to make, so I find something that sounds good to me, get the ingredients, and get cooking. Sometimes I even combine several similar recipes based on my tastes.

My most recent successes were the Mexican feast we had last night and the chicken we had tonight. Last night I made homemade guacamole to snack on while dinner cooked. It was VERY easy. Chicken enchiladas and Mexican rice were for dinner. I used Knorr Mexican rice, but it wasn't my favorite. Next time I'll probably just use yellow rice. I used this recipe for the enchiladas, but added Mexicorn and sliced olives to Cole's enchiladas. They were very tasty, and really easy too.

Tonight I made chicken with Laughing Cow cheese (kinda tastes like swiss, but it has the consistency of cream cheese) and pesto. You pound out the chicken breasts, spread on the cheese and pesto, roll them up, dip them in a little light mayo (thinned with water), and bread them in panko breadcrumbs (regular will work too). I added a touch of garlic powder to the mayo and to the breadcrumbs. Then stick them in a baking dish and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Delish. I served it with homemade macaroni and cheese and a baby romaine salad.

We will definitely make all of these recipes again. The chicken may even be company-worthy.

Stay tuned for more tales of my culinary endeavors!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Memories...

Five years ago today, Cole asked me to marry him. It's really hard to believe that it was so long ago because I remember everything as if it just happened.

I had been expecting a proposal for over a month, and every time we went on a date I knew he was going to do it. But it never came. He kept telling me he didn't even have the ring and would have to get a ring over Thanksgiving, then he would propose. I didn't believe him at first, but after so much time went by I started to believe him. I accepted that we wouldn't get engaged until after Thanksgiving, and I was trying to be ok with that.

The whole week before he proposed, he had been acting funny and was distant. He blamed it on being preoccupied with school, and I was dumb and believed him. We went out with friends on Friday night, and he took me back to my apartment. We were sitting there talking, and his parents called. He was cryptic on the phone and hung up quickly. I asked him what they were doing, and he said something like driving home from dinner. Shortly after the call, he said he wasn't feeling well and needed to go home. I told him to call me when he got to his apartment. He didn't want to lie to me, so he went to his apartment, called me, and then left to go downtown to his parents' hotel. They had come to Greenville to bring my ring to Cole.

The next day (Saturday, October 9, 2004) we had plans to go downtown for Fall for Greenville (a big event downtown where they close streets, have food, bands, etc.). Cole picked me up for lunch, but he smelled like food. He played it off and said he had gotten the shirt out of the dirty clothes pile (not too unbelievable). Little did I know, he had gone to breakfast with his parents just an hour before picking me up. We went out to lunch, and Cole barely touched his food which, if you know anything about Cole, is quite odd. He claimed he still wasn't feeling great. We went downtown and walked to the bridge over the river. I was looking over the edge of the bridge down onto the river and talking about something silly. I turned around and saw Cole on one knee. He said something like, "Will you marry me?" And I just couldn't believe it. I didn't say yes. Instead I was saying, "Is this for real?" over and over. Finally I realized that I needed to say yes, and I did.

We decided to walk up Main Street while we were calling friends and family. I should've noticed that Cole didn't call his parents, but I wasn't really thinking clearly at this point. As we're walking up the street, suddenly I feel an arm around me. I turn around and see Cole's dad. He and Marcia were there and hugged and congratulated us.

That night we went out to eat, and Marcia put together a small engagement party for us after dinner at the Hambys' house. It was a great day.

And here we are, five years later. Still very happy and very much in love.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Whoa!

Newsflash: Is is October!

When in the world did this happen? This summer flew past and now fall is passing quickly. It's almost time to start thinking about Christmas presents! Yikes!

I thought by now our lives would have settled down a bit by now, but apparently I was wrong.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dry Cleaning Conundrum

I have a question and need your help.

What do you do with clothes that need to be dry cleaned? Do you take them to the cleaners one at a time when each piece is dirty? Do you have a pile of clothes in your room? Do you hang them back up and hope you remember that they're dirty when it's time to go to the dry cleaners?

I'm really struggling with this. Right now I waver between a big pile of clothes and hanging them back up. The pile bothers me a lot, but I always forget a dress or pants or something critical if I hang them back up.

So, what is your system?

Monday, September 21, 2009

No power = surprise day off!

I got up this morning, got out in the rain, and drove to work only to find that the power is out. Apparently a tree fell on a power line, so I was told just to stay home today.

Hmmm...what is a girl to do with an unexpected day off? I'm hoping I'll continue my productivity streak from yesterday. After church washed the dishes, cleaned the fridge, and swept and mopped the floors. Then I went to the store to get stuff for dinners this week and even made it to Wal-Mart for a few essentials. Plus, I got a workout in before we went out to dinner.

Today I am going to do laundry and deal with the master bedroom and bathroom. We've been pretty good so far about keeping the rest of the house clean, but our bedroom looks like a bomb went off...yikes! We'll see what else the day brings. A trip to Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond might be in the cards too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My newest beauty finds

For a while now I have needed some new lotion for my face and mascara. I always hate getting new beauty products because I wonder if I'm getting something that's going to be even worse than what I have. This weekend, though, I picked out some winners (with some help from Mary Alice).

First, the lotion. This purchase made me more nervous than the mascara. I didn't want to buy something that smells bad or that would make my face oily. I also didn't want to spend $20 on it. After thinking long and hard while staring at all of the lotions at Target, I decided to get the Target brand of this Neutrogena lotion.


After the lotion decision was made, I wandered over to the mascara section. Thankfully, I had called Mary Alice before going to Target to ask her what kind of mascara she uses. I always like to get recommendations for stuff like this. The last time I got some, I just picked up some random stuff, and it was AWFUL. It was clumpy from the first day I opened it, and it just didn't do anything for me. Mary Alice recommended Lash Blast by CoverGirl.



I love this mascara so far. It goes on evenly and doesn't clump at all. That's pretty much all I ask of my mascara. Hopefully it will continue to impress me.

If you're in the market for mascara or lotion, I highly recommend these.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Church Shopping

Finding a church is an interesting experience. This is the third church that Cole and I have had to find together, but it's really not any easier than it was the previous two times.

We are very blessed to live in an area with tons of great churches around. However, that makes the decision even harder. We know people who attend many of the churches in the area, and they, of course, all love their churches. So, recommendations don't really help all that much.

The most difficult thing about choosing a church is that you basically have to base your decision on the Sunday morning worship service. Sometimes that seems to me like choosing a spouse based on his or her hairstyle. It's ridiculous.

So, what are we supposed to do? We have pretty much narrowed our search down to two churches. Both are the same denomination and have solid teaching and theology. Both have ways in which we can get involved. Both have people we know and love in the congregations. It seems like we can't really go wrong, right?

In my heart I know that both of these churches will be good for us and allow us to grow. BUT, I just hate having to choose. In case you don't know me very well, I'm usually painfully indecisive. Especially when it comes to big decisions like this. We will just continue to pray that God leads us in the right direction.

We want to commit to a church soon because we're ready to dive in. We're ready to be purposeful about building a community in Birmingham. We know we'll find the right place to be.

Weekend Recap

Whew...we made it. This weekend was seriously busy.

Friday night we had a party for Brian and Emily at our house to celebrate their engagement. It was so much fun to see the girls and meet some of Brian's friends. We had a great dinner and fabulous desserts. Preparing for it was definitely a team effort. The girls and I planned the menu and tried to iron our all of the details. It's interesting planning a party when you really haven't ever planned one before. Also, my aunt Ty and mother-in-law Marcia were champs. Ty let me borrow four card tables and 16 folding chairs. This party would not have been possible without them! Marcia let me borrow tablecloths and made an appetizer for me and even delivered it right before party time! My mom brought up some of the centerpieces used for my wedding that we were able to use for the party. I still haven't downloaded the pictures, but they're coming.

Saturday morning (after not a ton of sleep) we headed to Troy. Sara's birthday was Monday, so we celebrated the weekend before. My parents even came over for the shindig. We had a fabulous time visiting and spending time with each other. We even took our Christmas card picture, which you know my mother loved. That night Rob grilled hamburgers and Mary Alice made macaroni and cheese - it was all delicious. Sunday morning Sara, Cole, and I went to the PCA church in Troy and enjoyed it. We grabbed a bite to eat and then hit the road. It's so nice to relax and spend time with family.

This week's going to be just as busy as the weekend. Last night we had dinner with the visitors' group at a church we've been going to lately. Tonight we're eating out with Cole's family since his sister and her husband are in town. Thursday night we're having his family over to our house to watch the first football game of the season (I may retire to the back room and watch something I want to watch...I'm a little depressed that it's already time for football season). Then Saturday morning Cole is leaving for Atlanta for the UA vs. Virginia Tech game. And I get to breathe again. I can't wait.

Wow. Typing all of that out made me remember why I'm so tired. Although life has been busy, I've really enjoyed spending time with our friends and family. Hopefully we'll continue to make it a priority to spend time with others.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Waiting

I hate waiting on the DirecTV people. It's so inconvenient. And it's frustrating that they tell you they'll be here between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. Can you not narrow it down at all???

Thankfully I have a fabulous mother-in-law who is going to sit here from 9-11:30. If they haven't come by then, I'm going to take an early lunch and come wait. Hopefully they'll show up shortly and it will be a quick fix.

A girl can dream, right?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hmmm...

The blog is having technical difficulties. I'll work on them later today, so hopefully it'll have a background again soon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

For Valentine's (VERY belated)

I just found this post tonight. I wrote it as Cole was making my Valentine's meal, and I'm not sure why I never posted it. So, here it is:

For Valentine's day Cole is making what smells so far like a wonderful meal. I, as usual, haven't made it to the store to get him anything. Yes, I'm a terrible gift-giver. Every now and then I have a good idea, but the follow-through is really hard for me. I have a good excuse this year (I just finished my thesis yesterday), but even so I probably wouldn't have done much better without the thesis hanging over my head.

This year I've decided to get off my high horse for good. Since I started grad school (at the beginning of Cole's second year, Fall 2007), I have always given Cole a hard time. I've said, "You don't understand how much I do around here. I cook, clean, go to work, AND go to school. All you have to do is go to school." It has always seemed as though he has had an easier life in Tuscaloosa. I've been killing myself trying to do it all, and he's leisurely just rolling along without a care in the world except law school. This feeling has caused many tense moments in the Gresham house.

Since this semester, though, I've sorta gotten a taste of what it might be like to only be in school. No, I'm still working 20 hours a week. And I'm taking 12 hours of credits (9 hours is considered full-time in grad school). But Tuesday is my free day. I scheduled it this way so that I could spend all day Tuesday in the library doing my work. Ha! That's funny. I haven't spent a Tuesday in the library all semester so far. For some reason, it's so hard for me to get up, get ready, and go to the library. I always find some reason why I can't do it. Sometimes I have a legit reason, like a doctor's appointment, but mostly I just don't want to spend all day there. It's ridiculous.

One Tuesday I was thinking about my extreme dislike of the thought of spending all day in the library, and I realized that Cole does it every single day. And he has done it every single day since August 2006. He doesn't love it. He would much rather be doing 1,000 other things, but he does it because he knows it will be worth it later. His first year he made himself get up at 7:00 a.m. (even though he's really not a morning person), sit in the library all day studying, and he didn't come home until around 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. That's dedication. And to top it all off, he packs his lunch almost every single day.

Yes, I've dont a lot the past 2.5 years, but it's been easier for me to do all of that than to make myself spend all day in the library.

So, as of today, I'm stepping off my high horse.

(Added: I'm not sure that I've stayed off my high horse since then, but I've been quick to repent when I've whined about my life being harder than Cole's.)

Good news and bad news

The good news is we finally tackled the miscellaneous room. My aunt emailed me after my last post about this room and told me to just think Nike (Just Do It!) and that gave me some motivation. Cole did most of the unpacking and moving around, and I was in charge of finding a new place for things or deciding to give it away or throw it out. We still have some random stuff in that room, but you can now walk through it without risking your life.

The bad news is that I still feel like we have a ways to go before we're ready for our shindig next weekend. I made a list today of everything I need to do this weekend, and it's frightening. Hopefully we'll get a cabinet to go under our TV and maybe even another end table for our couch. Then I just need to focus on really organizing all the junk that's everywhere else in the house. The office is especially cluttered.

I'm also going to test out my green thumb this weekend. I'm a little worried to do anything in the yard (let's face it - I'm not the most outdoorsy girl or the most handy with tools), but something must be done! My parents were here for about an hour today, and my mom gave me some suggestions for our front porch area. Hopefully I'll make her proud.

I promise pictures of the new house are coming.

Seriously. Just be patient.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I must be sick

Between Sunday night at 6:30 and Monday night at 8, I ate three salads.

Who am I???

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bad, bad blogger

Yikes! It’s been so long since I last updated. Life has just out of control lately. Cole took the bar, bought a car, and then spent a week at the beach with his entire family. I got to spend a couple of days at the beach with them (which was lovely), and then came back to Birmingham to see my sisters.

Mary Alice and Sara spent the weekend here, and it was so nice to see them. I’m so glad that we’ve become friends and that we genuinely like each other. Growing up, we had some rough times together, but Mary Alice is nicer now so all is well. (Just kidding, Mary Alice…mostly!)

Our TV was delivered Sunday morning which caused a bit of drama. You can read Mary Alice’s version of the story on her blog here. It was a shocking and hilarious way to begin the day. We had lunch, and then sadly they had to get on the road.

Miles came over to help Cole hang our mirror and to get our TV hooked up. Cole loved getting to finally watch his new TV, and I was glad our mirror was on the wall.

Monday night we had Liz and Allen over for a farewell dinner. Of course I forgot to take pictures, so I have nothing to show. They brought their adorable daughter over. She is the tiniest thing ever. She is almost a month old, and she still weighs less than Baby Miles did when he was born. Anyway, we had a lovely time together, and it made me even sadder that they’re leaving Thursday. Ugh. I’m trying to tell myself that it just means Cole and I will have a good excuse to visit DC.

This week will hopefully be filled with getting organized. Our living room is shaping up pretty nicely, but the rest of the house is struggling. I know, I know…it takes time. BUT, time isn’t going to unpack all the stuff in the “miscellaneous room.” I’m just going to have to get my hands dirty and deal with it. This could get ugly…

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 2

Well, Cole has made it through two of the three days of the bar exam. So far, he's felt good about everything. I think tomorrow is going to be hard for him. I think he said the material is harder and also he's going to be tired. BUT after the test he gets to come home! Thankfully, the last few days have passed much more quickly than I thought they would.

Last night I got to have dinner with my dear cousin Julie. We had such a good time catching up on each other's lives. I always cherish the time that we get to spend together not only because she's fun to talk to, but also because she challenges me and makes me think about various things. She's a really neat person, and I'm so glad she's my cousin and my friend.

Tonight I had some girls over for dinner, and we had a great time. Marlee, Stefanie, Catharine, and Haller are all from Monroeville (Catharine moved in 5th grade, but that's a technicality), and it was fun spending time with them. Dinner worked out pretty well, even though I have a ton of leftovers. Tonight was the first night I had cooked for a group in our new kitchen. I even used some of my wedding presents for the first time - four years later!

Cole should be home by about 7 tomorrow night, and I can't wait. I'm glad I planned activities this week while he was gone, but it's still hard to sleep without him here.

Ok...I'm off to wash dishes...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Good food and great company

Tonight I had the pleasure of dining with the Howells. It was a fabulous dinner, and we had fun discussing their recent trip to Jackson Hole, among other topics. It is so weird and wonderful how integrated our Birmingham worlds have become because now we know so many of the same people.

The rest of my day was great as well. Cole and I visited a new church this morning and really enjoyed it. The message was great, and everyone was so friendly and welcoming. There are still a lot of churches that we'd like to visit, so I'll keep you updated.

To pass the time this afternoon, Cole and I went to Best Buy to drool over TVs, and then we went to a couple of open houses. Since we started looking for houses, I have been obsessed with real estate. I love looking at listings online and looking at open houses. There is always a little part of me - very, very, very small - that wonders if I will find something I like more than our house. Fortunately, that hasn't happened. This is not to say that there aren't better houses out there; we just feel that for what we need and could afford, we got a great house and couldn't be happier.

Cole left for Montgomery tonight to take the Bar exam this week. He will take the first part tomorrow, the second part on Tuesday, and the final part on Wednesday. We made sure we got everything that he might need together, and he was off. I don't think he's worried about not passing; he just doesn't want to take it, and I don't blame him. Who wants to take a 3-day test?? Yuck! I know he would definitely appreciate prayers this week.

Even though this weekend has been really nice, I have a lot of fun things planned this week that I'm excited about. I'll try to take a picture or two and post about all my fun this week.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The state of my inbox...

is very similar to the state of my life right now...out of control. I have a ton of unread messages, a ton of messages I need to reply to, and even more that I need to put in a folder to get out of my inbox. My life is out of control too. I have no real home routine to speak of. I have yet to find all of my clothes since the move (maybe they're packed somewhere with my brain!). And we still haven't gotten into a good cooking rhythm. Finding normal life is taking a lot longer than I thought it would.

While all this unsettledness is frustrating, we have a lot of things to be excited about. The mirror I got at market finally came in today. I can't wait to hang it! Since it weighs about a million pounds, though, we're going to have to be careful how we hang it. I think we'll be consulting Cole's dad about that one. Here's the mirror:





I also ordered two lamps, but they haven't come yet. Here is a bad picture of them:

Our rug came in today too. We got it where we want it, but I can't get a good picture of it since the mirror is laying all over it. I'll try to post one soon though.

I went to market with Cole's mom and sister-in-law about two weeks ago. It was amazing. The prices were unbelievable. They got a dresser for us a couple of years ago. We saw it in a store in Birmingham for twice what we paid for it. I love getting a deal.

In other news, work is going pretty well so far. It's weird starting a new job, but I like the work. Cole has been studying for the bar, and I think he feels pretty good about it. He leaves for Montgomery on Sunday and will be there until Wednesday. He will be testing half of Monday and all day Tuesday and Wednesday. I don't think he's nervous that he will fail or anything; I think he's just dreading having to take it. He starts work August 17, and I can't wait. I think it will bring a sense of routine to our lives that I so desperately want.

For now, I guess I'll just have to learn to live with craziness. It could be worse.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Argh...

Cole and I have finally moved to Birmingham. Woohoo!! Packing and moving went as well as could be expected. It was super hot the day we moved, but we made it. We have since hosted my mom and Mary Alice. Mom helped me put away a lot of our wedding presents and get some other things settled. Mary Alice and I spent the weekend shopping for house stuff. It was so much fun to have both of them up here.

We have not unpacked any of our kitchen stuff, because I was planning to paint the kitchen cabinets. I loathe the paint and antique finish on there now and wanted to spruce it up with some creamy white paint. So, I read tips and how-tos online. I went to the paint store to ask about sanding and types of paint. I talked to other people who have painted their cabinets. I knew this would be a big, big job. But I was ready. I wanted that nastiness out of my kitchen.

BUT, when I tried to take the doors of the hinges, they wouldn't budge. The last time the cabinets were painted, the hinges were completely painted over. Each hinge has three screws on the inside, one of the three screws was totally stripped on the first four cabinets we tried. Ugh.

Not wanting to give up yet, I went to Home Depot to ask what to do about stripped screws. A helpful man told me to get a screw-like little tool. I did and brought it home, thrilled that for less than $4 my stripped screws would come loose. Nope. They didn't budge. After that failed, we decided that it would be best to just leave them alone.

Unfortunately the story does not end there. Once I realized that I would not be painting cabinets, I knew they needed to be deep cleaned. I started with some 409 in an inconspicuous place. That took off the ugly antique finish. I was quite tempted to keep going in hopes of taking off all of the finish, but the fear of having half white, half antiqued cabinets kept me from trying that. I thought Dawn and some warm water might do the trick. Wrong. It takes off the finish in some places too.

So, now I'm left with cabinets that are nasty on the outside. What is a girl to do????

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Blasts from the past

Cole and I are busy packing up our townhouse and have found several interesting things. We found our lease for our first apartment, his Starbucks "Partner Handbook," Cole's schedule for his first week at Starbucks, my first paycheck from UA, Betsy and Mark's wedding invitation (from December 2005!), Miles's outline from a class his first year of law school (spring 2004), and many other funny/random things.

Even though I hate packing with a passion (and I'm not very good at), these findings make it almost worth it.

I'll post pictures of the packing in progress soon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...

Hot air balloons! Cole and I left one night to pick up a pizza for dinner and saw this as we were coming out of our neighborhood. Apparently everyone else in Tuscaloosa knew this was happening, but we had no idea.




Here's a link with more information if you'd like to read about it. Oh, and you should be able to click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Floors

Today Cole and I got to pick the color of our floors since we're refinishing them. We both thought this task would be super-easy, and maybe even fun. Boy were we wrong. Ok, it was a little fun, but it was much harder than we thought it was going to be. We thought one color would just jump out at us, and none really did. It was also stressful to choose because these floors are throughout the ENTIRE house! Yikes!

In the end, though, we found a color that we're both really pleased with. I think it'll look great once it's all done. Here's our color - Jacobean:


Here are the samples that the floor guy did for us. He said the most he's done for someone is 15. I can't imagine having 15 different stains on my floors to choose from. Talk about overwhelming.

This is our living room without a finish on the floors. Cole is looking out of our new windows.
And this is the back room off of the kitchen. There used to be nasty - really, really nasty - carpet back here. We decided to pull it up (I don't think there was any hope of cleaning it) and put down hardwoods. I think they're going to look great.
That's the end. We're hoping to be able to move into the house the week of June 22! I'm so excited!!! Now I've just gotta start packing up the townhouse.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Brat Anna

Yikes! I am way behind in posting! Quick recap of the last week: We sold our townhouse!!! We were so excited and will close (pending a good inspection) July 20. Our new house is getting new windows, and they are almost finished. Cole has been going by the house everyday to check on the progress. He and his parents have done a lot of work since last week. Miles and Marcia spackled and cleaned for a while on Saturday. Then Cole and Miles painted Tuesday night. We aren't changing the colors, several places just needed to be touched up. I can't wait to see it!

In other news, I've been a brat lately. The home-buying-and-getting process has gone much differently than I anticipated. I naively thought that we would close (just as we did Monday, June 1), and then we would take possession of it easy-peasy, just as we were supposed to Thursday, June 4.

My poor mother-in-law had to go to the house Thursday morning only to find the previous owners just beginning to pack up their stuff. There was some back and forth about what they thought was happening and what was actually in the contract. In the end, we did not take possession of the house until Friday. I had planned to go sit in our empty house Thursday afternoon, but that did not happen. I turned into Brat Anna and unfortunately didn't even realize it until a few days later. I fussed, pouted, and even cried a little. And I most definitely took it all out on Cole. Poor guy.

Cole and his parents have done a ton of work on the house. They cut the grass, trimmed the shrubs (By the way, what's the difference between shrubs and bushes?), killed the weeds, spackled the holes in the wall, and touched up almost all the paint. I am incredibly grateful and thankful for all of their hard work.

Brat Anna, however, is sad that I missed out on all of it. I didn't know the yard work was happening until I had already gotten to Birmingham without my yard work attire. Ok, so maybe I don't really have "yard work attire," but you know what I mean. Also, Cole has met a lot of our neighbors, and his family has even met them, but I haven't. I'm worried they think he's just a pathetic guy making up a wife to make himself feel better! I just feel like I'm missing out on a lot since I'm in Tuscaloosa and Cole's basically living in Birmingham. I feel like we go weeks without really talking, so we have not been on the same page at all lately.

Brat Anna was in particularly fine form on Saturday when I pouted through furniture shopping and then almost asked Cole NOT to come home that night. Thankfully, he did come home. We went out to eat and hashed out all of my emotions about this process, and he, lovely husband that he is, understood my frustration and feelings of being left out.

This week has been much better so far. Brat Anna didn't come out at all yesterday! Today after work I'm going to Birmingham to see my house again, and hopefully Brat Anna will stay away.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Manic Monday

Today we finally closed on our new house in Birmingham! We had the walk-through and then got to sign a ton of papers (thrilling!). Unfortunately we couldn't go back to the house after closing because we don't take possession until Thursday. But, you can rest assured that I will spend most of Thursday afternoon at our new house.

Here are a couple of pictures of the house:





After lunch to refuel, we ran around town looking at furniture. We found a table we like, but we're going to wait a while on that. We want to get in the house and figure out what we want. Although, we did buy a couch last week that got delivered today. It was delivered to Cole's parents' house so we could save some on taxes (and since it can't go to our house yet). I really, really like it and think it will look great in our den.

In other exciting news for today, we have three showings of the townhouse scheduled for tomorrow! We are so anxious for it to sell. I know it will sell eventually, I just don't like being patient. Fingers and toes crossed that an offer will come tomorrow night!! I'll keep you posted.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Disturbing news

Today, my little sister Sara shared some disturbing news with me.

She deleted my mii from Wii Fit. I couldn't believe it when she told me. She thought I would be okay with it, and Grace thought I would freak out a little.

Grace was right.

So, Sara is moving to the top of my bad list for a while. Well, at least until she moves to Birmingham so I can create a new mii and new high scores. Then all will be right in the world.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oops

You gotta love when Verizon sends a text to your husband because you've almost used 1000 minutes this month. He called me to tell me about it and accused me of talking to my boyfriend too much. :)

The worst part is that I have no idea how I managed to use so many minutes. Guess I'll have to keep a closer eye on it this month.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Graduation recap

Graduation weekend was absolutely perfect! I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Mary Alice and Sara came to Tuscaloosa on Friday night, and we all ate pizza and ice cream. Then Mom and Dad got here around 10:30 a.m. Saturday. My graduation was a little long, but we all made it (Dad and I even snuck in a little nap!). Instead of going home between my graduation and Cole's, we got a snack at the Arby's near campus. Then we sat through a second graduation. It was exciting, though, to finally graduate and be finished with school.

Dinner Saturday night was so much fun for both Cole and me. Both of our families were there (minus Rob, Miles, Emily Joy, and Baby Miles), which is the first time that has happened since our wedding almost four years ago!

My co-worker and friend Connie got us a private room at her country club AND she got a beautiful arrangement of flowers for the table, 2 bottles of wine, and cards for Cole and me. We were shocked and incredibly thankful for her thoughtfulness.

Sunday morning, my family came to our house for breakfast/brunch to celebrate Mom. It was great. Mom felt really good all weekend and looked great. We were just all so happy to be together.

I think this weekend just reinforced for me how blessed Cole and I are to have such wonderful families who support us in everything we do. We could not have made it through the last three years (or the last 25 years!) without their love and support. Seriously. And just recently I've realized that not everyone is blessed with such an amazing network of people who love them unconditionally. I hope to never take it for granted.

Now if we can just sell this house...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Stick a fork in us...

WE'RE DONE!!!!!

I turned in my final portfolio Wednesday night, and Cole turned in his last exam this morning. We are both officially finished with grad/law school and couldn't be happier. Now we're just waiting for Sara and Mary Alice to get here to complete the day!

Graduation is tomorrow, and my parents will be here in the morning. I can't wait!!!

Graduation pictures to come...

Friday, May 1, 2009

A question

When looking at houses, have you ever stepped into the shower or the bathtub?

I ask because I've been watching shows on HGTV about finding a new house, and I feel like the majority of people DO get into the bathtub or shower. It's kinda creepy. I have never done this and will never do this. What about you?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Look what I did today...


That's right...I got my cap and gown! I graduate in a little over a week, which is still totally unbelievable. I can't believe I don't have to take another class, revise my thesis, or write another article for class ever again. Crazy.

Cole and I are really glad that our both of our families are going to be together for our graduations. We realized recently that this will be the first time that his mom and my dad have seen each other since our wedding almost four years ago. That's ridiculous. But, we all know that it takes a lot to get my dad out of Monroeville.

I did other stuff today too, but this was by far the most exciting.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's hot.

I am not a fan of summer. I miss my sweaters, turtlenecks, scarves, and winter coats. Shorts, sleeveless shirts, and swimsuits don't excite me at all. In fact, they depress me. I like to have as many layers on as possible. Also, I feel like I'm always gross in the summer - always sweaty, hot, and sticky.

Plus work clothes are so much harder to figure out in the summer. I have to walk from my car to my office, and I would prefer to not be sweating by the time I get to the office. Sometimes this is difficult in Tuscaloosa. We have determined that Tuscaloosa is the hottest place on earth. Even if the temperature isn't as high as other places, it feels so much hotter here for some reason.

Oh well. I guess I need to get over my dislike of hot weather. After all, I do live in Alabama. And the seasons will change regardless of what I want. That's life.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Second showing

We had the second showing of our house on Thursday. For some reason Thursday is a popular day to look at our house. The most recent showing, however, was MUCH calmer and way less stressful than our first.

Before I describe the morning of the first showing. let me preface by saying that I had a full day planned for last Thursday. I had a phone interview scheduled for 9:30 a.m., and then I had to write an article for a class that was due at 5 p.m. that day.

At 8:45 a.m., my phone rings. Since it was an unknown 205 number, I let it go to voicemail. I checked the voicemail and got this message, "Hi Anna, this is Ann from Hamner Real Estate. A realtor just called to see if she could show your house between 10 and 11 this morning." WHAT?!?!?!? Was she serious? Since it was our first showing, we didn't want to turn it down. I called Ann back while Cole ran downstairs to clean the carpet. (We bought a Woolite Rug Stick the day before, but we hadn't used it yet.)

We were both running around like crazy people, and I was mad. Really mad. I thought I was going to have at least a few hours notice. I wanted to have flowers for my kitchen table. I wanted to have time to obsess over every little detail. Instead, I was trying to shower, get ready to leave the house, and clean my bathroom all at the same time. Ridiculous. Then I had to call the professor I was interviewing for my story. The phones at Furman were doing something weird, so I couldn't reach her. Ugh.

We got the house clean and left before the realtor arrived. I went to the public library and called my mom on the way. I was so mad. I was probably mostly yelling at her about how ridiculous it was that we had pretty much no warning. I spent my time at the library writing my article, and got home about 11:15.

I packed a quick lunch and was about to leave for class when I got another phone call. It was Ann again. The same people wanted to see our house again that afternoon. After hearing that, I was sure we would get an offer soon...nope. We haven't heard anything. We had another showing this past Thursday, but we never heard anything from that either. Hopefully it'll sell soon. I'm ready to not have to worry about it anymore.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter weekend

I have always loved Easter. It is so humbling, happy, and hopeful. The fact that Jesus Christ died for my sins is completely overwhelming and freeing. Jesus has overcome death and now lives, and we will live eternally with him in perfect community...pretty amazing.

Cole and I had a great and spontaneous weekend. We decided around 6 p.m. on Friday that we wanted to go to Birmingham. We threw a bunch of stuff together and hit the road. We drove straight to Bottega and used the gift card Ty gave Cole for Christmas. It was delicious! We ran into several people that we know there which was really surprising. I always think we will see people when we eat out in Tuscaloosa, but we never do. I never dreamed we would see people we know in Birmingham.

We spent the rest of the weekend in Birmingham at Cole's parents' house even though they were at the beach. We stalked our new house (I still absolutely love it and can't wait to move in!), and drove around our new neighborhood. I now know how to get to the house. Woohoo! And I think I can get to most places from our house. I'm sure I'll stalk it many more times before we close in June.

Saturday night we had dinner at Liz and Allen's house. We haven't seen them much this semester because we've all been really busy, so it was nice to catch up. Sunday we went to a couple of open houses just for fun and then went to church with Cole's parents. It was a nice service, and we got to see Liz and Allen again. We went to see Baby Miles after church. He is absolutely adorable and had a lot of new tricks to show us. I can't wait until we can see him more regularly. After dinner with Cole's parents, we came on home.

We still haven't had one person come to look at our house which is disappointing. I know it will sell eventually, but, to be honest, I HATE having to keep it spotless all the time. I am not a neat person by nature, so it's really hard. Cole has done a great job of cleaning the kitchen every single night before we go to bed, and he takes out the trash, makes up the bed, and tons of other things around the house. He's been great. I've been trying, but it's hard. We're hoping that these habits will follow us to the new house, so it'll always be clean.

More likely, though, we'll just get tired of keeping it so clean and then totally trash the new house. Who knows though? Maybe I'll magically turn into my mom.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A hymn for Easter

It Is Finished - Part II (Hark, the Voice of Love and Mercy)
Taken from the Gadsby Hymnal #93

Hark, the voice of love and mercy,
Sounds aloud from Calvary!
See, it rends the rocks asunder,
Shakes the earth and veils the sky!
"It is finished, It is finished,"
Hear the dying Savior cry.

"It is finished," O what pleasure,
Do these charming words afford,
Heavenly blessings, without measure,
Flow to us from Christ the Lord.
"It is finished, it is finished,"
Saints the dying words record.

Finished all the types and shadows,
Of the ceremonial law;
Finished all that God had promised;
Death and hell no more shall awe.
"It is finished, it is finished,"
Saints from hence your comfort draw.

Tune your harps anew, ye seraphs;
Join to sing the pleasing them;
Saints on earth and all in heaven,
Join to praise Immanuel's name.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Glory to the bleeding Lamb!



Words: Attributed to Jonathan Evans, 1784 and Benjamin Francis, 1787.
Music: Jeff Koonce, 2005.
2006 Red Mountain Music
www.redmountainmusic.com

Friday, April 10, 2009

A favorite hymn

Be Still, My Soul


Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In every change, He faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.


Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake

To guide the future, as He has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;

All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know

His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.


Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,

And all is darkened in the vale of tears,

Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,

Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.

Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay

From His own fullness all He takes away.


Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on

When we shall be forever with the Lord.

When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,

Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.

Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,

All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.


Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise

On earth, believing, to thy Lord on high;

Acknowledge Him in all thy works and ways,

So shall He view thee with a well-pleased eye.

Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine

Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.



*Public Domain. Words: Katharina A. von Schlege (trans. Jane Borthwick). Music: Jean Sibelius.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Back to the real world

In the midst of writing and editing for class, I decided I needed to update the old blog. I have officially conquered jet lag. In fact, I don’t think I ever had any bad effects from it. Since coming back from France, I have been going to bed around 10 p.m. most nights (which is unheard of for me!) and getting up with very little trouble (which is definitely unheard of for me!!) around 7 or 8 a.m. depending on if I have to go to work. I’ve decided maybe I should go to France every few weeks to ensure that my body clock stays on this system. The only weird thing I’ve been doing is waking up at 5 every morning thirsty. I get up, get water, and wait about 20 minutes and then hop back into bed. Strange.

It’s so nice to be back to my life and my routine. This week has been insanely busy, but I’ve handled it all pretty well I think. I’m mostly on top of all of my work, and I’ve been fairly pleasant to be around – although you’d have to ask Cole to see if that’s really true.

When I got back on Saturday night, I fell into bed and just slept. On Sunday Cole and I had a good lunch and then worked on the house a good bit. We listed it today, so we needed to get it in good shape. Then I planned out all of our dinners for the week. In case you don’t know this “secret” about me, I’m not naturally gifted at organization. When it’s really important (like at work) I try to stay organized, and I do okay. But, if I’m not super-focused on staying organized, my life tends to move toward disorder. I tell you all of this just to brag on what an amazing thing it was to plan our meals for the week. I have been to the grocery store only once this week. It’s been fabulous. So far this week we’ve had poppy seed chicken, oven-fried chicken with macaroni and cheese and salad, and spaghetti. Tonight I have a meeting so dinner is whatever we find, and tomorrow night we’re having ravioli with pesto. These dinners are all fairly easy and fast to prepare, so I’ve had no dinner-related stress this week. I’m already working on my menu for next week.

As of today, our townhouse is officially on the market. If you know of anyone who wants a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom townhouse in Tuscaloosa, let me know! I think I’ve gotten my hopes up that it’s going to sell quickly which is a bad thing. I always get my hopes up about stuff like this, and the results are never good. We’ll see though.

This weekend Cole and I are going to Monroeville, and I can’t wait! It seems like I haven’t seen my parents in forever. AND I get to meet little Miller Rogers finally. I was worried he would be driving before I finally got to meet him. It should be an exciting weekend. I’ll try to take lots of pictures.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Last post from France

Here is a picture from this afternoon of me and my roomates - Katie and Jen. I think I have a lot more to share with y'all, but they are a bit unorganized at the moment. I'll try to collect my thoughts and do a trip recap when I get home. We leave tomorrow morning and get to Atlanta around 6:30 tomorrow night. I've had a great trip, but I'm ready to get home to clean clothes and my bed.





Hope y'all are well! Can't wait to get back to the land of free internet and unlimited cell phone minutes!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Life in Paris so far

The last couple of days have been busy. Yesterday I had an interview with a wedding planner. No, I am not planning a wedding to a French man (unfortunately!), nor am I planning a vow renewal ceremony. I was interviewing her for an article for Alpine Living (the magazine we’re publishing this semester) about little-known romantic spots in Paris. She was really nice, and we had a great time. She told me about several great places. A photographer and I are going to go around town tomorrow afternoon to shoot photos of some of them. It should be fun.

After I left her, I met up with some of the UA group, and we went to Versailles. I had been looking forward to Versailles, but it was a little disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite grand, but it didn’t live up to my imagination. Perhaps it wasn’t possible for it to live up to the image in my head. We started by walking through the gardens which was less than thrilling. First, it was freezing outside, and the wind was unbelievable. I actually had to brace myself to keep from being blown over. Second, it is winter; no flowers, no pretty green, no nothing. The gardens were quite bare, and it looked like the grounds crew was everywhere (with their big equipment) getting ready for spring. The fountains were turned off and filled halfway. Not a great way to start the visit. Then we had trouble getting back in. We finally made it back in and walked through. There were parts that were interesting – particularly the hall of mirrors – but overall it wasn’t my style. I’m glad I can say that I’ve been though.

Last night we went to see the Eiffel Tower and to do a boat cruise on the Seine River. I was worried that the boat cruise was going to be unbearably cold, but I sat inside the boat so it wasn’t bad. We got to see the city at night which was cool. Also, we got to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle three times. Here’s a video that I took (sorry it's sideways):


video

Today I had the day all to myself which was wonderful. I have realized that I like my me time. I like to be quiet, and I like to do what I want to do without consulting anyone else. I walked to the Sacré Cœur this morning.


A view of the city:A view of the Eiffel Tower:


I got a jambon et fromage crepe (ham and cheese crepe) and a Coca-Cola Light for lunch and headed toward the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe. Before I made it to either of those, though, I had to stop in Ladurée, a famous French macaroon shop. There was actually a film crew in there when I went in. I got a few macaroons and went outside to eat them. I only got the hot pink one because it was pretty. All the flavors I thought I’d actually like were a little ugly. From left to right: chocolate, two vanillas, caramel, another vanilla, and the hot pink one (I think it’s raspberry). They were pretty good. As Cole predicted, vanilla was my favorite.


(Sorry it's not turned right...technical issues.)


The Arc de Triomphe was really cool. If you come to Paris, you must go see it and climb it. Here are some photos:


Then it was on to the Louvre. The Louvre is a museum that I’ve always heard of and have always wanted to visit. I think it’s a little like Versailles though and can’t live up to my imagination. It’s almost like I half expect to fall down and cry at the beauty of these places, and that definitely did not happen. The Louvre is massive. There are TONS of people all around. I felt like I just couldn’t get a handle on exactly what was going on. Some of the art was impressive, but some stuff just doesn’t really do it for me. I had to go see the Mona Lisa, of course. And the crowd of people around it. And then I had to see the Venus de Milo. And the crowd of people there too.

I came back to my hotel after that to sit down for a bit. I tried to do homework, but that didn’t go well. Instead, I sent emails and wasted time. Since dinner, though, I’ve been researching the romantic spots we’re going to visit tomorrow, and I’ve been trying to get excited about putting the finishing touches on my thesis. I have to submit it electronically by Friday. Cole was fabulous today and got the signatures I needed from my committee members and the department chair. Without that piece of paper, I would not graduate in May.

Tomorrow morning we’re planning to head to Notre Dame. After the pictures, we’re going to go to the Musee d’Orsay. Cole said Orsay was his favorite. I’ll let you know my verdict tomorrow.

I will post a link later to the rest of my pictures, including the ones from the Louvre.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The last stop

We finally made it to Paris today after an almost six-hour train ride. Tonight Katie and I are going to take it easy and actually sit down to eat. Then we're going to plan her schedule for tomorrow. I have an interview tomorrow morning, and then I think I'm going to Versailles. I have no idea what else I'll be able to fit in tomorrow, but I'm going to try to do as much as possible.

I'll post pictures as soon as I can. I miss everyone!!!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nice and Eze

Click here for pictures of our trip to Eze and some pictures of Nice. We had a good time. We wandered around, and it was almost like walking through a castle. Shops were like holes in the wall. Last night we ate at the restaurant at Chateau Eza. I had foie gras. Yes, you read that right - foie gras. I was a little grossed out at first, but I decided I just needed to do it. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I also ate tomatoes. Pretty soon I'll be able to eat onions and all kinds of vegetables!

I got to talk to my mom last night which was really good. I realized I hadn't talked to her since Monday. All my days seem to run together, and I forget how long it's been. Also, trying to think about when I can call because of the time difference sometimes makes my head hurt. :)

Tomorrow morning we're leaing for Paris. I'm really excited about going, but it's a little sad that Cole will leave right before I get there. We have less than a week left in our trip which is hard to believe.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More from Nice

I forgot to mention that Cole was really nice and let me switch suitcases with him. He packed all of his stuff for New York and Paris into a small carry-on bag. He let me pack my stuff in there, and he took the bigger bag so it would be easier for me. Since I'm traveling with about 20 other people, we have a lot of stuff. It makes getting on and off trains quite interesting. Traveling to Nice was so nice because I didn't have to deal with a big suitcase.

This afternoon a few of us are going to Eze, a town right outside of Nice. It should be pretty cool. I'll try to take good pictures and get them on here for y'all. I'm sorry I haven't been uploading the pictures into my posts. Sometimes it can take a while, and time is important since I don't have unlimited internet access.

It's strange that we have a week left until we get home. Sometimes it feels like we just got here, and sometimes it feels like we've been in France forever.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What a week!

Wow…there is a lot to catch up on. Cole flew into Paris on Monday and had a full day there. Then he met me in Avignon on Tuesday. We had a fabulous time together in Avignon. On Tuesday, we had a lazy day and wandered around the city. We walked the Pont d’Avingon (the bridge of Avignon) and enjoyed the sights.

Wednesday we had a wine tasting which was pretty fun. It was totally different from what we thought it was going to be, but it was still interesting. Cole enjoyed a lot of the wine we tasted, so we got some to take home. That afternoon we had lunch outside with the whole group. I had my first Croque Monseiur in France which was really exciting. Cole asked how it compared to Frank Stitt’s at Chez Fonfon. They are both very good, just very different.

Wednesday night we had our first dinner out. Dinner was pretty good, but dessert was FANTASTIC. I had hot chocolate cake which was essentially molten chocolate cake, and Cole had a delicious frozen some-kind-of-fruit and cream dessert. Yum! Thursday we toured the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) and bought a few pictures for our new house. That night we got a bottle of wine and some sandwiches and went back to the room to have dinner on our balcony. Well, it wasn’t really a balcony. We had French doors that opened up, but there was no balcony to go out on, so we pulled our chairs up and pretended we were sitting on a balcony.

Unfortunately this morning Cole and I had to part ways. He went to the train station to head to Paris, and I had to go to the bus stop to get back together with the group. The group made it to Nice without incident this afternoon, and a small group of us went to the Musee d’Art modern et d’Art contemporain (Museum of modern and contemporary art). Some of the paintings and sculptures were really interesting.

Sorry I’ve been so bad about updating. We’ve had some really full days, and I have to pay for internet. Click here for pictures of the last few days. I tried to add captions to them so you have some idea of what they are. Sorry there are some really random pictures and some that aren't rotated, but I'm dealing with limited time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pictures

Click here to see pictures of the ski resort Meribel that we visited today. It was gorgeous. A picture of Mont Blanc is in there somewhere, but I don't remember which one right now (yes, I know that's terrible...it's been a long day).

Well...

I'm not doing such a great job so far of blogging. I've had two really, really long and full days. If you'd like to see some stuff from the past two days, click on Brett and Jessie's blog on the side. Jessie is in my class and is in France with me. She has clearly done a better job than I have keeping everyone informed.

Pictures to come soon.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

France!

We made it! It seems like we've been traveling forever, but we finally made it to Annecy. We flew into Paris, then flew to Geneva, then took two trains to Annecy. It was definitely a full day. I've now had a good dinner (ham and cheese sandwich and a chocolate croissant), a shower, and my internet fix. The only bad thing of the day was my phone. Since Cole and I are both traveling this week, we decided we should have phones. We went through a bid ordeal to get them (including Marcia meeting me halfway between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa), and now it's not working. I couldn't even call the 1-800 number for Verizon. Finally I borrowed two phones from people on my trip to call Cole. I instructed him to yell at the Verizon people and to make my phone work. He's supposed to call me at the hotel shortly to let me know what's happening. If it doesn't work, his first case as an attorney might be to sue Verizon. I'm very unhappy.

Anyway, here are some pictures I took of the trip -
My friends Katie and Jennifer and the view from the plane coming into Geneva:

More to come later!!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Last post from Tuscaloosa

We're leaving this afternoon for France. Everyone has been asking if I'm excited, and I don't know exactly what to say. This week has been busy to say the least. I have had a ton of work for school, work was pretty busy on Wednesday, I successfully defended my thesis on Wednesday, we bought a house on Monday (just because we didn't have enough going on!), Cole left for New York for a moot court competition on Wednesday, and I think something else happened too...I just can't remember. So, I am excited to be going to France, but I haven't been able to focus on the excitement too much since I've been so overwhelmed with stuff. As long as I get on the plane with most of my sanity in tact, I'll be good and will have a great time.

We're flying out of Atlanta tonight. I think we'll get to Geneva around 2 p.m. or so, and then we catch a train to Annecy. Hopefully I'll be able to maneuver my bags when we are getting on the train and getting around.

That's all for this post. The next time you hear from me I'll be in France!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The productivity continues

Yes, I have continued my productive streak. Yesterday we ran errands, and I got some stuff that I need for France. We went to a party last night for my best grad school friend Jennifer. It was a lot of fun. I finally got to meet her fiance, and she got to see Cole for maybe the second time ever. Aren't we cute??


Today we went to church together (which doesn't happen regularly because one of us is usually out of town). After church we went to Birmingham to look at houses. I LOVE looking at houses. It's so much fun. We finally got to look at one that I've had my eye on for a while, and we saw another that we really like too. We still have a little while before we have to do anything, but it's exciting that it's getting so close.

Riding the new house high, I came home and started cleaning out our bedroom. It was amazing how much stuff we had stuffed into our room. Wow. We are giving away bags and bags of clothes and had tons of junk to be thrown out. We hadn't even looked at a lot of it since moving in almost 3 years ago. I am determined not to take junk to our next house. I'm trying to be ruthless about what stays and goes. It's tough, but I think I'm doing okay so far.

France is in 5 days. I can say that now without wanting to cry or run away, so I think that's a positive sign. I think I can get everything done by then. Especialyly if the productive streak continues this week. I'll let you know.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Umm....what?

I was sitting in my international journalism class today talking about our trip to France, and our professor mentioned that we are leaving one week from tomorrow. 7 days. I started having trouble breathing, got light-headed, and wanted to run away.

I have not done one thing in preparation for this trip. I have to figure out what in the world I'm going to pack and about 742 other logistical things. To top it all off, Cole is leaving for New York on Wednesday for his moot court competition. Yeesh...too much to do!

The good news is I'm going to France. The bad news is I may lose my mind before I get there. Oh well. I guess that's a small price to pay for a trip to France.

On the bright side, I have been super-productive this week. I have accomplished a lot at work. I turned in my application for an internship starting in July. And I have heard back from a lot of my contacts for my freelance article and my France articles. Woohoo!

To top all of that off, I just paid our bills! I don't know how people did it before you could pay bills online. It's so much easier to keep track of what needs to be paid in my inbox rather than on the piles of paper we call our kitchen table and coffee table. Maybe one day I'll be organized.

You know, my mom claims that when she was younger she was as unorganized and messy as I am.

I think she's lying to make me feel better.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

PSA

The phrase "full as a tick" is disgusting, and no one should ever say use it in conversation. Ever.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Identity Crisis

Last night I pulled the milk out of the refrigerator for my cereal, opened it, and realized something was wrong. There was ice in our milk. And it wasn't just a little bit of ice; there was an almost solid block of frozen milk in my milk carton. So not cool.

I think our fridge thinks it's a freezer. Our drinks are regularly slushy (which I kind of like), but the milk was the last straw. I don't have the heart to tell it that we already have a freezer. We need it to cool our food, not freeze it. I guess I'm going to have to break the news to the fridge soon though. Frozen milk is not acceptable in my house. It's a tease because it's almost like a milkshake, except gross.

Come on, man

It makes me laugh out loud when I hear the words, "Come on, man. This is the 90s." on a TV show. What do you say now? This is the 2000s??? This is the new millennium? Hmm...we need to work on that a bit.

If you really want to laugh, though, you can watch the movie Maid to Order. In that movie you can hear, "Come on, man. This is the 80s."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

My good friend, Stress

So, earlier this week I was about to post about my stress level and how it's counteracting my overeating (seriously, I never quit eating junk...it's bad). However, yesterday I put on an outfit that should fit, and it definitely did not look good. I could still zip the pants and all, it just looked like it was a size or two too small. Not good.

Since discovering that stress does not serve as a substitute for a good diet and exercise caused me to think about what stress really does do to me. Obviously it encourages my overating. It also makes me shut down in a way. I just pretend that stuff doesn't need to be done and then I don't do it. For instance, there are several emails in my inbox that I need to read and respond to, but I just don't want to. Our house is an absolute disaster. I need to work out. I need to sleep more. I need to do so many things, but the stress paralyzes me to some extent. If I ignore all the things that need to be done, maybe they'll go away.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like anything is going away. I'm just going to have to face all the yucky stuff that I don't want to do and just do it.

Ugh.

I hate being a grown-up.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What does it all mean?

I am convinced that having a father who is a dentist is making me crazy. I have a recurring dream in which all of my teeth rot out of my head. I wake up scared that my teeth will crumble if I touch them with my tongue. I'm pretty sure this is not normal.

Maybe on the nights I have this dream I haven't brushed before bed. Maybe I've talked to someone that day about the fact that my dad is a dentist. I don't know. I can't find a connection. I really wish it would stop though. It's quite disturbing to dream about your teeth rotting. Repeatedly. And not all that infrequently.

Perhaps I need a therapist. I have to have repressed something to cause this dream.

Update: Therapist Cole says that I must have a fear of disappointing my dad. Hmmm...I don't know what to think about that.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Publix makes me smile

The tag line for Publix is "where shopping is a pleasure." They could not have a better slogan; it is so true. I LOVE shopping at Publix. Everyone is always nice, the store is clean, and the Publix brand food is cheaper and reliable (unlike some other store brands). They also tend to have most of the weirder ingredients we need for certain recipes.

Earlier this week, I was checking out, and the bagger bagged all my groceries just like I like them: the meat was in its own bag (or it can be wrapped in its own bag and placed in other bag with other groceries); all the "soft" items were bagged together (bread, chips, etc.); the cold items were together; and the rest of the groceries were put together. I am so anal that I actually load my groceries onto the conveyor belt in the order in which I would like them bagged. I know that's really, really weird, but I don't care. This bagger understood my bagging preferences, and then he practically begged to help me to my car. I declined his help (I tell myself that carrying my own groceries to my car counts as my exercise!), but I really like when they offer to help - especially when I have particularly clumsy or heavy items. So nice.

Tonight the Publix down the road from us was having Italian Night. The manager was out by the front door. All the assistant managers were wandering around making sure everyone was taken care of. There were tasting stations set up throughout the store with well-dressed employees manning them. It was a very nice experience, until...

I got to the pharmacy. There were two customers who were flipping out. One lady was livid about something and taking it out on the pharmacists. Then one girl was having a nervous breakdown/panic attack/freak out while waiting for her prescription. It was insane. She was crying, cussing on the phone, and practically gasping for air (you know when you're crying and trying to breathe too). Basically she was a mess. I was glad to grab my prescription and get out of there and away from the crazies.

Even with that episode, the Publix experience is always lovely. I like to shop at Wal-Mart or somewhere similar for toilet paper, paper towels, etc., but for groceries Publix is by far the best place to go. It is, after all, where shopping is a pleasure.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New recipes

In case you haven’t noticed yet, Cole and I thoroughly enjoy cooking. We like to find new recipes and see how they turn out. Cole is typically more adventurous than I am. However, I’ve been trying to step outside of my comfort zone more.

Early in our marriage, we realized our differences regarding meals, besides the obvious (my pickiness). For instance, I could eat a turkey sandwich with cheese and a side of skinny chips from Jimmy Johns every day for a month and not get tired of it. Cole would hate that; he likes variety. This used to be hard for me because I was the primary meal planner and cook. Lately, though, I’ve been trying to experiment more. One week I went crazy and kind of “made up” two recipes – a white lasagna with ravioli instead of lasagna sheets and chili – that were mostly successful. Last night, I found a recipe online and decided to go for it. Since my palate is limited by my pickiness, it’s sometimes difficult for me to tell if a recipe will taste good or not. But, I found a good one last night. It wasn’t exactly life-changing, but it was still tasty.

I made pork chops with a balsamic-honey glaze. It was so easy and fast! The glaze has balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. I changed the recipe a bit (based on what a reviewer had suggested) and used center-cut pork chops instead of the tenderloin. I browned them in a little oil, salt, and pepper, and then added the glaze to the skillet. I turned the heat down, put a top on, and let it simmer while I made the sides. We served it with orzo (with parmesan, salt, and pepper) and a roll. It was quite delicious. Cole was very impressed (which is sometimes hard to do!). I was pleased with my find. If you want to do it, the recipe is here.

When I find a recipe online, I like to read the reviews to see what other people thought about the recipe and how they may have changed it to make it better. Many times I read a change that sounds good, so I do it too. Cole and I have an agreement that if something we try to make isn't edible, we'll just go out. So far, we've only had to throw out one meal (a breakfast casserole disaster...don't ask). Some of the things we've made haven't been good necessarily, but they've been edible.

I've been wanting to try a recipe for red velvet cake cookies with cream cheese frosting-ish filling. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to try them yet, but I will. I'll try to take pictures so I can share.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A special dinner

Last night Cole made a special dinner for us. He thought a lot about it and tried to recreate my favorite dishes from Greenville, Tuscaloosa, and Birmingham. Taylor gave Cole a Soby's cookbook for his birthday, and he used the crabcake, cheese biscuit, and garlic mashed potatoes recipes from it. From Tuscaloosa, he got my favorite salad, a caesar salad, from DePalma's. From Birmingham, he made the apple turnovers from Bottega. Everything was a delicious success...except maybe the turnovers. We think our fryer smells/tastes like fish, so it added a funky flavor to the turnovers. We decided we'd try them again, though, because I think they could've been amazing. Here are some pictures from the night:







The finished dinner on our fine china with my present next to it:

My gift - one of our NYC photos framed! (Thanks Marcia!)




Sunday, February 8, 2009

You snooze, you lose

I'm in the library and working on my thesis, but I had to share this story. I was taking a break to check the news (shhh...don't tell Cole!), and I found this article about how Starbucks changed this man's life. You can click here to read the whole story. Basically, he was a big-shot at an advertising agency and was suddenly fired. He now works at Starbucks and says his life is much better.

The part that's bad for me is that he's written a book on it. That was supposed to be my idea - writing about Cole's time at Starbucks while I was finishing school and how it helped him in law school. Oh well....you snooze, you lose.

I might have to read that book, though. It looks like this guy and Cole did things in the opposite order, but it could still be an interesting read.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sweet treat

For some reason, I got really excited last weekend about making a fruit pizza. I honestly have no idea where this idea came from and why it stuck, but it did. I had a false start the night before I made this successfully (the sugar cookie crust wasn't working for me that night), but here it is in all it's glory.





No, it's not healthy at all. But, if you know anything about our eating habits, you know that's not a problem in our house. It has a sugar cookie crust, cream cheese and sugar as the icing, strawberries with sugar with a few blueberries on top. And, just for good measure, we topped it with a little homemade whipped cream. Yum.

Amazingly we didn't eat it all ourselves. My friend Jennifer had a piece, and there's still some left over now. (Yes, I know we need to throw it away. I'm working on my thesis, and that's my excuse. It's just too much work and too time consuming to let it slide off the tray into the trash.)

Countdown to turning in the thesis: 7 days! Woohooo!!!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Multiple personalities

It's tough being a grad student and an employee at UA. It's even more complicated now because I can only park in one parking lot. So when I'm walking to school, I see a lot of people I work with.

That doesn't really sound like a big deal, but I look awful when I'm only going to class. I have usually showered, but I probably don't have too much makeup on and definitely casual clothes.

Today while I was walking to print stuff for class, I ran into my boss. For this story to really be understood, we need to talk about my boss first. I wouldn't be surprised if he never wore casual clothes (jeans, t-shirt, etc.). He is always dressed up. I have seen him outside of work, and he is dressed up. That's just how he rolls.

Today I was wearing workout clothes - t-shirt, tennis shoes, cropped athletic pants. My hair was a mess. I had no makeup on (and these days that is not a good idea).

So, I ran into him. I saw him before he saw me. I thought about keeping my head down and hoping that he wouldn't see me, but then I thought that might be a bad idea. I was mature, and I made eye contact and said hello.

He looked at me and said, "Well, hello Anna. You're looking..." He pauses, looks me up and down, and says, "...very much like a student today."

Hmmm...whatever could he have meant? I look awful? I probably shouldn't be seen in public like that?

I wanted to reply, "Yeah, I know I look hideous, but too bad."

Instead, I was nice and said, "Yes sir. I just wanted to blend in since I'm a student today." I laughed and kept walking. Quickly.

Ahh...awkward moments with the boss. So much fun.