Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Song of the day

I love music. I listen to it 80% of my day. I listen to my iPod while I'm getting ready in the morning (if Markus isn't asleep), I listen to Pandora Radio at my desk, and then I usually have my iPod on in the house while I'm doing chores, cooking, reading, etc. Music is such a personal thing and you can usually tell my mood by the type of music I'm listening to. Not many of my friends have the same taste though. There are a few, one of them being Jenny. We worked together a few years ago in an office where it was just the two of us and sometimes our boss. We'll call him satan. When satan wasn't in the office Jenny and I would crank up the music as loud as our computer speakers would go and jam out to all kinds of tunes. That was one of the only things I liked about that job.

This week has been a diffucult week for me. I'm adjusting to being back at work after vacation, Markus being gone, and work is kind of sucking at the moment. So on my drive back from lunch I decided to randomly pull a cd out of the case and pop it in without looking. I like to do this every once in awhile to mix things up. I'm crazy, I know. The cd I pulled out was perfect for my mood today; Coldplay Live 2003. I love the live rendition of Politik on this album. It opens as soft music, then after a minute it sounds like Chris Martin is banging on the piano with a hammer. I saw them live a few years ago and in person it looks like he is humping the piano. And the louder the music, the better. So I cranked it up and listened to it as loud as my little speakers would go and I'm feeling a little better now.

What do you like to listen to when you're having a bad day?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bon Appetit

Markus' one request after being gone for 15 days was a home cooked meal. He was tired of airport food and eating out and I love to cook so I was happy to oblige. But as I mentioned in the earlier post, it's been 90+ degrees the last few days. Who wants to stand in a kitchen and cook when it's that hot outside, especially in April! So last weekend I dug through some cookbooks and came up with a few recipes that didn't require much heat. I thought I would pass them along in case you are in the same boat. If you happen to be in a part of the country that is experiencing normal April weather, save these for late August when it's nice and hot.

I can always go for cold gazpacho when it's hot out but wanted to try something different. I came across a cold cucumber soup in Ina Garten's latest cookbook that sounded delicious so I thought I would try it. It was very refreshing and went great with a cold glass of white wine. The fresh dill on top came from my new garden!

I made Mediterranean Farro Salad from Giada's Kitchen as our main meal. It's the perfect cold pasta packed with veggies, olives, and parmesan cheese. The recipe calls for farro pasta, which I couldn't find so I used orzo. I think any small pasta would do the trick. I also had some red onion left over from the cucumber soup so I threw that in too. There are endless possibilities to this recipe. It's great as a vegetarian dish but next time I might add shrimp to beef it up.

And for dessert I served the pound cake my grandmother and I baked on Sunday. I topped it with berries and homemade whipped cream. The perfect ending to a semi-healthy meal!

If you would like recipes for any of these delicious foods please let me know. I would be happy to pass them along!


When we left for vacation just over a week ago it was barely spring. The trees were just starting to get their buds, the bulbs were the only thing coming up, and the Azaleas still hadn't turned their vibrate pinks and white. When I came back everything was in full bloom and it was 90 degrees! Spring literally happened in one week. I'm hoping the hot, sticky weather is temporary and spring comes back. I would hate to miss a whole season!

In preparation for spring I went to the greenhouse the Sunday before our trip and bought all kinds of things to plant in our yard. But I didn't have a chance to get anything in the ground because it was too cold. The night after I bought all my flowers it dipped in the 30's then rained for 3 days straight! So off I went to California with no garden. Here is how everything looked before we left for vacation:
I came back and was amazed at the transformation to our yard. Meme and mom were hard at work while we were lounging in the sun! They planted flowers, watered and cut the lawn, and even put a brick walkway down. Granddaddy also helped by fixing our porch light that has not worked since we bought the house. Here is a sneak peek of the transformation. All this stuff should fill in and get really bushy and tall. I can't wait!

Mom put the flamingo in the garden as a joke but I think he is a keeper! One won't hurt ;)

See the baby grass? It makes me so happy!

And my planters are starting to spill over with gorgeous colors!

I can't wait until our next trip to see what kind of things happen while we are away! Thanks, guys!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Whale's Vagina

We headed south for the 2nd part of our Californian vacation, stopping in Laguna Beach for a quick peek around the now infamous town before heading to San Diego. Laguna Beach was just as pretty as Malibu, except it had more of a sleepy beach town feel to me. There were lots of art galleries and canyons on the drive in, making it seem like there was more to do than just hang out on the beach. We popped in to some shops while making our way to the public beach access. I couldn't resist seeing if the townies were like the reality tv show. They live up to the stereotype. I went into a boutique where there were 3 teenage girls (working) lying on chaise lounges discussing how they were "over" being outside. Tough life. Who would want to be inside with views like this?

This picture was from a little lookout and the banister had this on it:

And leading to the beach I saw the most adorable front door. I could live here.

Next we headed down the PCH to San Diego. Fantastic views and no traffic, it made for a great drive. We drove through La Jolla and Mission Beach but decided to travel further south to the island of Coronado. Markus' dad had recommended checking out the historical hotel located on the island. The Hotel Del Coronado, or The Del, was built in 1888 and has had many famous visitors throughout the years, including a ghost! Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe was even filmed there. It was a beautiful hotel and had plenty to do without ever leaving the premise. We definitely enjoyed our stay and would love to go back one day. I especially enjoyed lounging pool side took advantage of the on-site ice cream shop! Here is a picture of the hotel from the beach and me with my bug glasses. Markus laughs everytime he looks at me with those on. I live to entertain him.

The last night we were in San Diego we ventured off the island and headed to the Gas Lamp district, which is located downtown. Markus did some research and found a very trendy hotel with a roof top bar overlooking the Padres baseball stadium and all of downtown San Diego. Luckily for us the Padres were playing away and we were able to get a seat and watch the sunset.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a big fan of long and/or tall bridges. The bridge in the background of this picture takes you to Coronado Island and it's loooong. I drove over it without getting a panic attack, huge accomplishment. Maybe it was the view that distracted me? You can see Coronado in the background of the picture below. One side of the island is residential and the opposite side is owned by the Navy. We could see all kinds of planes and helicopters landing, some Markus didn't even know the names of. Pretty cool to see while lying on the beach!

Our last day in California was spent driving back to Los Angeles and sight seeing. First stop was Pink's Hot Dogs for lunch. They call themselves "the hot dog to the stars" and have been featured on The Food Network. They have all kinds of toppings, making it a very interesting hot dog, but still a hot dog! After lunch we drove by the "LA Ink" tattoo studio. For those of you who don't know, its a TLC reality show about tattoo artist, Kat Von D. Markus has a small crush on her, which I think has now escalated since coming so close to her presense. We parked across the street to get a better view and while stalking looking for directions we noticed a film crew coming out the door. You would have thought Kat walked up to the car and invited Markus inside. He got so excited knowing that she was probably there. He would have sat in the parking lot the rest of the day if I had let him. But I didn't. We had more sites to see before our red eye that night. Next time we are in LA Markus can combine his two loves by getting a tattoo of the Finnish flag on his pylly.

*Markus read this & asked where the picture of Kat's studio was. Here ya go, babe.

Our last stop was the Getty Museum. Located high above LA, it offers breathtaking views of the city as well as the Pacific Ocean. We didn't make it into the actaul museum, except to use the bathroom. I was too impressed with the architecture and gardens. A tram takes you from the parking gargae to the museum and the first thing you see if this, minus Markus, he was only there last Wedensday.

White stone is everywhere and it creates a very zen-like vibe. There are also manicured lawns and gardens, offering great stopping points along the way. Here are some of the many pictures I took. I couldn't get enough!

If you can't tell from my professional quality photos, it was well worth the trek up. I would put this at the top of my list of destinations to visit. And if I ever visit again I will be sure to check out the inside. I hear Vincent van Gogh's Irises is on display.

We both really enjoyed the trip and I'm looking forward to seeing more of the state. I even think I could move there if I could convince Markus. Maybe one day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

California Dreamin' Part 1

Markus and I just got back from a vacation to California. It was wonderful. He has a ton of friends from New Jersey who now live in Southern California so we decided to visit Los Angeles and San Diego. Chris, who was Markus' Best Man, lives in Santa Monica where we stayed and acted as our tour guide. He was awesome! We saw so many things that we wouldn't have found on our own and got to hang out with him and his girlfriend, Alexa, in the process. They were both at the wedding but I was so busy I hardly got to spend time with them. It was great getting to know Alexa and spend more time with Chris. Here is Alexa and I in front of Chris' apartment:

The first day in LA we walked around Santa Monica while waiting for Chris to get off work. Being my first time on the West Coast, I was amazed at the landscape. I have never seen ocean next to mountains. The water was so dark set against the white sand, mountains and cloudless blue sky. This was my first glimpse from our hotel:

And here is my first touch of the Pacific Ocean:

Ice cold! We went shopping along Third Street Promenade and I got a really cool pair of jeans that you will probably see in every picture after this. Here is Markus carrying the bag. It looks like he went shopping in the ocean. That night we picked Alexa up from the airport (she lives in San Francisco) and headed to Hollywood for dinner at Mario Batali's Mozza where I saw my first famous person, Seth Rogen. But the highlight of the evening was the food. It was the best pizza I have ever had. Thanks, Chris and Alexa!

The next morning Markus and I ventured out on our own and ended up in Larchmont Village for breakfast and site seeing. This is where my 2nd star crossing occurred, Ross The Intern walked right past us. For those of you who don't know who he is click here.

After breakfast we met Chris and Alexa and headed up the coast to Malibu where we saw breathtaking views from the PCH. One of the nicest drives I've taken with the exception of the 2 hours it took to get back to LA. We stopped at Malibu Seafood on the way and had lunch. It was the cutest place, set just off the main road with picnic tables overlooking the Pacific.
Then we headed further up the coast to a beach off of the main road. This is when I realized I was meant to live in Southern California. Imagine waking up everyday to this everyday!Malibu was everything I expected and more. I still can't get over the ocean/mountain/sun/sand combo. It makes it worth the traffic and smog that comes with living in the city if you are within driving distance of this:Oh, and there are wildflowers everywhere you look! All of the flowers that I have tried growing in my yard that don't get enough sunshine grow in abundance in Southern California. It was like someone from the heavens opened their hand and sprinkled seeds in every direction. It made me very happy!
And for people who want more than just wildflowers but don't have the yard? They have community gardens! What a lovely idea. So every once and awhile you would be driving through a neighborhood and see one of these:

How clever of those Californians!

The next day we did some more investigating of Santa Monica and stumbled on some great coffee shops and a Farmers' Market. I forgot my camera that day and was bummed because the market was so cute! It had all kinds of organic produce, live music, and really good people watching! Since we couldn't take anything back with us we got some cherries and raisins to snack on. They were delicious! Afterwards Chris and Alexa took us to brunch for Dim Sum. It was yum yum! I don't have any pictures but imagine every kind of dumpling you could every want and then some. We were pretty full after lunch so we decided to lounge by the pool for the rest of the afternoon. We even ran into another one of Markus' high school friends, Vinnie, hanging by the pool. Some of you might remember him as Adam Banks from the movie The Mighty Ducks. I guess I can count that as my 3rd star sighting!

Sunday night we headed to Long Beach for pickled eggs, hot dogs, and a mini Madison High School reunion. I even got to see my friend, Devyn, who used to live in Richmond and now lives in LA.

Thanks, Devyn for coming out!

Anyone who knows Markus and his group of friends knows that there is a strong bond of friendship and also a lot of silliness that goes on between them. It amazes me how close they have stayed throughout the years and I hope their friendships continue because I really enjoy this group and their significant others. And I say this in the most loving way possible but most of the time they revert back to High School when they get together. Not a side many people get to see of Markus. As seen here:and here:
Nipples and tongues aside, the place we went to was pretty cool. It's what you would call a dive bar and they serve hot dogs, beer, and their specialty, pickled eggs. Imagine a hard boiled egg that has been pickled. They were delicious, I had 4! I also had "The Special", a hot dog on rye bread with cheese and pickle. If you're ever in Long Beach, check out Joe Jost's. Thanks Dan and Casey for the invite!

Part II of our trip coming soon.


Taking the plunge

I set up this blog in January but have been too afraid to post anything. It's a little scary putting yourself out there but I love reading blogs and think it's a great way to journal your life in the present. Recently I read a fictional book called "Still Alice" about a woman who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease at the age of 50. I had no idea Alzheimer's struck at such a young age. It got me thinking about all the memories my brain has collected over the years and how precious they are. All the little details that make life so special and especially the way you are feeling at that particular time are so hard to hold onto. I am terrible at keeping up with photographs in a systematic, chronological order. Markus and I have a joke whenever we go somewhere meaningful to collect things and "put it in our scrap book". I have been collecting these things for four years now with the intention of making some sort of memory box or scrapbook but doubt it will ever happen. I haven't even uploaded the pictures from our wedding because there are so many and the thought is overwhelming. So this blog with be a virtual scrapbook of our lives from this point forward that we can share with our friends and family and hopefully one day look back on and remember what we were like as newlyweds. I wish I had started it sooner but there's no time like the present!

*Disclaimer - I am terrible at grammar and spelling. I had to Google a few words to make sure I was spelling them correctly. I like to type as if I were having a conversation, not writing a term paper. I am also from The South and use words a little different than most. I see this as a positive characteristic and hope you do, too!