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Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Fall Y'all!

Wow! It's been waaaay too long! So, it's now fall; time is flying by!

Justin and I now have hardwood floors throughout our entire house; they are beautiful. Over Thanksgiving break, I also plan to paint our bathroom off our bedroom. I'm going to see about putting up some chocolate molding and painting the walls khaki.

I have been dying to get a sewing machine and a woman from my hometown has recently moved to Wilmington and brought me one she no longer uses! I have to go pick it up, but I am soooo excited to get to work on some fun crafts. I may just want to have another work-less summer. I've really enjoyed decorating the house for the holidays as well; I'm super excited about Christmas around the corner! In fact, last night, Irie, Justin, and I carved our first family jack-o-lantern! To feed my crafting appetite, I've become officially addicted to this site I just found called, Tip Junkie. Its a fantastic blog that shares other peoples' craft ideas. I am a big fan and am already stealing some great decorating ideas to use as wedding gifts!

Irie is growing bigger and bigger all the time. She is almost to 30 lbs. now. She loves chasing leaves and going for walks. Justin recently took her on her first golf outing. He said she loved riding in the golf cart and was very friendly and considerate when others were hitting their ball. The front 9 she would run along side the cart and the back 9 she wanted to ride she was so tired! I wish we had pictures from it; I'm sure it was adorable.

I've got some great new recipes I stole from some friends in PA a few weeks ago that I'm going to try out at Thanksgiving this year. And my friend, Mindy, is sharing peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes with me from the box that we shared all summer long. So, my next big venture...mushroom risotto. I'll let you know how it turns out and I'll be sure to include pictures of my crafting expeditions!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Puppies Don't Care...

The past few days have been miserable for me. I've been sick since noon on Sunday and I am just now starting to feel better. Thank God! There is absolutely no food in the house, I did 2 loads of laundry today in between sleeping, and Irie has zero sympathy for a sick mommy.

I intend to go back to work tomorrow (thank God it just so happens to be a half day) and hopefully life turns back to normal. Its amazing how much a fever can throw your world off.

With all that said, I haven't done much cooking, but I was in PA over the weekend (yes....I was stuck there for an additional 48 hours contrary to original plan and drove home sick Monday - although, I had my good friend Alicia and her mom taking care of me while there) and I learned soooo many quick and easy recipes! I can't wait to try them and share them with you!

First and foremost, I must say, if you don't yet have a crock pot and you think you can't cook....go out and buy one. If you can, invest in one that comes with a meat probe, a timer, and will automatically shut off/on when you want it to. I promise you....people will love your food. Justin even claimed my roast was better than his mom's! I begged him not to tell her...

Looking forward to a better week now that I've kicked the fever and will be happy to share more then.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Words of Wisdom

Prior to getting married, my best friend told me that she made menus each weekend so that she knew what she was cooking for the week. I've stolen this advice from her and I must say its the only way Justin and I get a decent meal on weeknights! I read cookbooks, make my grocery list, and therefore have a menu for the week! If not, it would be chicken nuggets and frozen pizza. Blah.

However, I have discovered some amazing, organic, and vegetarian frozen quick fixes that I love! And Justin will eat them - even after I told him they weren't real meat! That's quite an accomplishment for those of you that don't know my carnivorous hubby. Morning Star is usually in with the breakfast food and makes amazing tofu nuggets among other frozen delicacies. Amy's is an organic product and some of the food is even lactose free (I am lactose intolerant so this is exciting!). We particularly like their burritos. And just last night I introduced the in-laws to edamame; a fancy word for soy beans. We prefer to steam them in the pod and add some salt before squeezing them into our mouths. Delish!

A few weekends ago, we had dinner with our cousin (he's mine now, too!) Adam and his girlfriend, Mandy. She made the most amazing salad ever! It was full of spinach, tomato, onion, avocado, you name it! Many and her brother manage Samson and the Lion in Asheboro. I am still one of the unlucky few that haven't visited the store, but fully intend to once payday arrives again. It is organic and very healthy, but best of all...tasty! Before me, Justin would have never believed a salad could be a meal. I taught him different with spinach, tomato, feta cheese, bacon, onion, and vidalia onion dressing. Greens.....its what's for dinner!

Our house has been tore up for the past week as we have had hard wood floors installed so cooking and groceries were on hold. Next week I'm planning a big trip to Sam's Club with my mother in-law (MIL) so we can get back on track with some big kid meals again! Looking forward to that.

Exciting weekend ahead of me - getting together with one of my best friends to go wedding dress shopping and meeting up with some other good friends from college! Short weekend, but yet, very much worth the sleep deprivation.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No Snooze for Me

So all summer long I've heard nothing but how horrible this group of kids is coming up to 8th grade this year. All I gotta say it, this ain't nothin'! Last year, I struggled to get out of bed in the morning, hit snooze multiples times before dragging my feet to the shower. This year, total opposite. On top of all that, I'm super excited about my masters' classes and all the fantastic ideas they are giving me to try with these kids!

Already this year, we have started reading The Outsiders (if you haven't read it, shame on you and go pick up a copy). The kids are loving the 1960s setting and this Friday will start working on our "graffiti wall" where the kids will include quotes/pictures/etc. in a graffiti type format all relating to the book. Little do they know the connections they are making and the higher level thinking involved.

So many wonderful things are happening in our lives right now (thank you, Jesus!) Last weekend I completed my second half marathon with my wonderful friend, Alicia Walsh. I shaved 13 minutes off my first time with a finish of 2:17 - so happy with that! Justin and I are currently getting hard wood floors throughout the house and they are already looking gorgeous! And....dun dun dunnnnnhhhh.....football/tailgating season is here!!!

ECU is off to a fantastic start of their season winning their first game last Sun. (yes, I am crazy and yes, immediately after my half marathon I showered and jumped in the car to drive from VA Beach to Greenville, NC to watch the game) 51-49 with a touchdown with 24 seconds left on the clock. One of the most exciting parts of every football season is the tailgating and this year, Justin Squared (as I lovingly call my Justin and his best friend, Justin Shaw) have acquired a brand new grill just to get the job done. We are already conjuring up all sorts of goodies to create while pregaming.

We have had various "trial runs" (a.k.a. excuses to hang out) at respective houses and have quite a solid menu thus far. I must say the more we experiment, the better the food tastes! I took a wing sauce that I concocted and coated shrimp skewers with it - awesome! All it took was some butter, Texas Pete, and some minced garlic. Slather it on the shrimp and grill on each side for about 3 minutes each. Mmmmmmmm! We've also mastered tuna kabobs with homemade mango salsa, steak, mexican sausage, and camp potatoes - a North Country staple.

Ahhhhh.....life is good.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Time Flies...

Time flies when you're having fun....
or you're too busy to realize the difference!

School has officially started; kids and all. So far so good. A wise man once told me teachers get through the school year one of two ways...."the book or the bottle." This ones gonna have to use a lil bit of both!

Irie has now been with us a week and a half and has gone 3 straight days with NO accidents! Hallelujah! The small things in life to be grateful for... She is very much the puppy and continues to nibble on everything from phone chargers (yes, we now share one charger) to pinky toes. The sleep deprivation and pin-size bites are all worth it. She brings so much happiness to us.

ECU football season is right around the corner and Justin and I could not be more excited for that! I have officially become and ECU football fanatic since we started dating and going to the games. I even made the cutest flowers to put in my hair this year out of purple and gold fabric. Very easy to make, by the way, and from one of my favorite websites: www.bobbie.com She has some amazing ideas on there.

So, the other night while laying in bed, Jus rolled over and said, "This is the most we've hung out in a week." Sad. But true. This week has been hella hectic. However, our sweet niece, Elizabeth and her husband have invited us out Sat. night to see Brad Paisley in concert with them and we are looking forward to that.

Some more "small things" to be grateful for right now: wonderful neighbors (just brought over homemade apple bread!), free masters classes, our health, Breyers ice cream, and DVR...without it we would never get to watch tv together!

Anyway, the cooking has been put on a brief hiatus until I get back into my school schedule. Justin and I are still in search of a cooking class for couples and are considering looking at the local community college. I found this fantastic website I can't help but share with you that is particularly clutch when you have little in your fridge to work with: www.supercook.com You type in what you do have in your kitchen and recipes automatically pop up out of nowhere - its amazing! We have come up with some creative concoctions using this site.

Okay, I'm very scattered in this post because I feel as though its been forever since I last wrote and my brain is in 500 different places. I apologize. For now though, I must sign off - 10 miles last night means ice cream and an early bed time tonight!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Where Does the Time Go???

Having a puppy is like having a 2 year old. I don't care what anyone says....in fact, it may even be worse. At least you can bring a toddler with you to the movies. No puppies allowed. Getting ready in the morning - close to impossible. At least one eye must always be on Irie. Now, don't take this as complaining...its not. Although...the alarm and coffee maker go off earlier now since she is around.

School has started back up - the hooligans come back Weds. Its bitter sweet; there have been times this summer where I've been rather bored, but I'm not sure I'm ready to go back. I've rather enjoyed being a housewife, especially now that I have company during the day.

Anyway, so life is hectic as ever and I'm sure its bound to get worse before it gets better, but all I can do is smile. Through the madness, we're happy, healthy, and blessed. We are a happy family.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Feeling Irie

Life in the Gaines household is pretty darn good right now! In the popular Jamaican phrase, we are feeling "irie." This is why we decided to name our new puppy Irie! (pronounced Eye-ree) Irie is a Rastafarian word for "positive emotions or feelings, or anything that is good. Specifically it refers to high emotions and peaceful vibrations." So, in Jamaica, on our honeymoon when asked how we were feeling...we answered, "Irie!"

So far, the first 24 hours of life with Irie have been great. However, I do think she will help deprive us of some sleep. First lesson: crate training is just as much torture for us as it is for the dog. Irie started the night asleep in her crate in the living room while we were watching tv. When she realized that we had moved into the bedroom, she immediately started whining. Problem solved: we moved the crate into the bedroom right beside the bed and she instantly fell back asleep - she just wanted to be near Mommy and Daddy. Around 2 a.m. she woke up and started whining again - smart girl knew she needed to go outside to peepee and poopoo.

I've already realized that I can't take my time doing things like laundry until Irie is asleep. Luckily she naps throughout the day. She needs at least one eye on her at all times.

Unfortunately, tomorrow is back to school for me. The excitement you hear are the voices in your head. I'm not looking forward to it; its been nice being home this summer although some days got a tad boring. I think, most of all, Justin will miss the small luxuries of having me at home each day. He particularly enjoyed having lunch waiting for him each day.

It will be back to the once-a-week cookbook reads to make the shopping list and early morning workout sessions. And the (moan) all dreaded alarm clock wake-up call. I try to read the cookbook once a week and make my grocery list accordingly; this means no random purchases at the grocery store and a menu for the week.

Alright, I'll close for now - Irie wants to play!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Love & Marriage

So many people have given me friendly "advice" on marriage since finding out we have just celebrated our one month anniversary a few days ago! Cheesy yes, but when you're in love you find any reason to celebrate it. We chose to do so by getting out some frozen wedding cake, grilling a steak, and washing it all down with a leftover bottle of reception wine.

Most of this "advice" has been unsolicited and therefore, I must put it in my back pocket until I get home to throw it out with the daily pocket lint. "Welp, some last, some don't." "It's not easy, it's the hardest thing you'll ever do, you know how most marriages end..." Wow! Thanks for the power talk, folks! (This typically coming from people who know nothing about me or my hubby, but apparently have the authority to deem our marriage typical.) I'm here to tell you - we're atypical. I can honestly say I have married my best friend. Cheesy, mushy, predictable, who cares! Blessed.

Justin and I have fun doing just about anything! Just last night we went to our first party as a married couple and had fun tracing each other in the street with sidewalk chalk. So silly - and traffic free. There have been nights we have stayed up way past bedtime playing Rock Band together (thanks to my brother - wedding gift). We are one rockin' couple with him on guitar and me on drums.

I'm going on and on about how happy we are with each other and with marriage because some of the other comments I've heard from people have allured to the "fact" that this is all going to some day change. Apparently after just a few, short years of marriage you stop wanting to do things for each other or together. Can you hear the inflection in my text? "Just wait, cooking will get old." "You know, give it a year and you won't do that anymore." Why the heck not?! If Justin and I have this much fun doing these things together why in the world would we let that change?

Yes, I know, marriage is work. Fortunately for me, I've just signed up for my dream job.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I can't do this...

Being recently married and feeling an unprecedented expectation to keep house while working as a school teacher fulltime, getting my masters degree, coaching middle school basketball, and having a life, I've found that this whole domestication thing is not nearly as time consuming as once feared. Okay, so I'm still learning A LOT, but I thought, what more fun way to learn than to share it with the world one crazy step at a time?! Plus, maybe someone else needs to have the same *smack on the forehead* aha! moments I'm having and I can share.

Anyway, as a new homeowner and wife, I've learned a few things right away about life: 1) get a coffeemaker with a timer so that its ready as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning, 2) small jobs are quicker and less time consuming than large....any large job can be made into a small job (eventually), and 3) whistle while you work - it makes it more fun/bearable.

With that said, I must say there are sooo many things out there these days that help to make our lives a tad bit easier as working women. One of those such amazing things that I've recently encountered in the Triad Area of NC: www.theproducebox.com If you live in the area, go to this site- INCREDIBLE! You literally pick a box of fresh fruit and veggies and for $22 a week they deliver right to your doorstep! I love not having to stop by the grocery store on Friday afternoon after a long day's work. I also love knowing I'm eating homegrown produce and not something thats been on a truck for days on a voyage across state lines I've never even visited!