Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'm Engaged ... So Now What?!

It's funny, because I remember A regularly mentioning us getting married early on in our relationship and me kind of freaking out. He was very superior when he would say, "well, clearly, you're just not ready for that yet," but I think he was always a little relieved. Well, now we're engaged and all the things that used to freak me out have faded out for a new batch of OMGs.

How to announce our engagement, for example...his parents were traveling with us when we got engaged and I called my parents right away. His parents took on calling his extended family and I'll get around to calling mine sometime...(see?!) After my parents were notified, I told A he could put it online if he wanted so many of our friends found out through Facebook, which seems pretty weird, but which, I was reassured, was fine. I asked a married gal pal how she did her announcements and she said that no matter how people find out, the important part is that we're engaged and that people get to share our happy news. But also, do I tell people who probably don't care? It's weird talking about it at work in front of people who don't care without including them...but I also don't want to force them to congratulate me or listen to my romantic sap. And does sending an announcement, even an informal one, automatically construe an invitation to the wedding?!

I also get a case of the heebee-OM-geebees from the rock on my finger. I'm very conscious of it and my hand feels like it's suddenly reached ginormous proportions. I think everyone must notice this sudden sparkly new addition to my usually nonexistent accessories, but no one really does. So do I shove it into people's faces with the announcement? That seems gauche, but seriously, it's gorgeous and I want people to see it! A did such a great job finding me a vintage ring. When I think about it, I really sent him down a rabbit hole with that request. It wasn't that I specifically wanted a vintage ring, but that I did NOT want a blood diamond, so new diamonds were out and after we went to Malloy Jewelry, we knew I really liked the vintage 1920's styles. But I'm also really afraid of hurting the ring and am always checking to make sure the diamond is still in there.

Lots of questions, few answers. When? Where? Engagement party? I told A that we should just enjoy being engaged for a little while before we start making these major decisions, but then he came back with a proposed location for the wedding, so I guess we're starting planning sooner than I expected. Whew, it's been a nice week enjoying the engagement - time to get down to business! Here we go...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This Week From the CSA

This week's bag contains and was used to make:
  • rhubarb - Rhubarb Daquiri
  • edible pod peas - eaten raw as snack
  • lettuce - used as a wrap for garden burgers, perfectly sized small leaves
  • onion - saved for later use
  • dry mixed beans - saved for later use (maybe chili?)
  • beets - steamed greens and beets (not very successfully); plan on finishing beets cold in salad
  • broccoli - steamed greens and ate with macaroni cassarole; ate "tree" part separately
  • cauliflower - Broccoli Bisque soup from Blossoming Lotus cookbook, modified for cauliflower
  • a potted marigold flower - needs to be re-potted, still sitting on my windowsill dying

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It may be New, but it's still Mexico

Traveled with A and his parents to New Mexico and found New Mexico charming. I was pretty enthusiastic the entire trip and found myself exclaiming about how "cute" everything was. There are a few words I dislike, among them and high on the list, are cute and stupid, so I felt pretty stupid blathering on about how cute everything was.

At any rate, I loved New Mexico. We landed in Albuquerque Sunday afternoon and spent the day with our friend D who showed us the sights of Albuquerque including old town, the plaza and Tingley Beach. She explained that many of the towns in New Mexico are centered around a plaza and church, which shopping a restaurants all around. We saw a lot of life in these plazas including tango dancing, choirs, Indian vendors and even just locals having a lunch break. Shopping around the plaza in Albuquerque had better prices than around the plaza in Santa Fe, but there is ever so much to see in both places.

I learned that barter is still practiced in New Mexico when a pair of earrings we were looking at dropped quickly from $120 retail to a special offer for a pretty lady at $25. I'm cheap, but I think even spendthrifts will find that they don't need to spend more than $5 to get some great turquoise and silver earrings. One great place to shop in Albuquerque is the Blue Portal (2107 Church St NW) which is a craft shop for seniors. It's run as a charity, so the seniors who's work is sold get 100% of the price you pay and there is no tax on the items. The prices were much more reasonable than at other shops as there is no mark up, but the selection was somewhat limited.

Monday morning, we picked up A's parents in our rented Prius and drove up to Santa Fe by way of Madrid, New Mexico. Pronounced mad-rid like "mad hatter," Madrid is the cute artsy town featured in the movie Wild Hogs. It was a great halfway point on our drive up the turquoise trail and we were delighted with the galleries and boutiques. I especially was drawn to the works of Ms. Liz Falkoner, a local artist in Madrid who's gallery Tombo is an old train car with a couple of dogs to welcome you out front. I also loved the gourds by Carol Lee and was especially intrigued by Liz Paterson's white clay pots and sculptures. I left Madrid with the feeling that I want to resume my own artistic creativity!

When we arrived in Santa Fe, we were pleased to check into the Villas de Santa Fe where we had a 1 bedroom condo - I'm sold on the idea of a condo for traveling - it's so nice to have a kitchen and a place that feels like a home. A and I even headed out to the Santa Fe farmer market Tuesday morning for some fresh produce. The prices seemed steep, but we later realized it must be hard to grow fresh produce in those local environs. We picked up some tamales for dinner that night and salad fixins. My only regret is that I didn't get the local kombucha I saw there - I thought I would see it around, but I never found it again and would have loved to try it as the flavors, like Sangria and Mojito, sounded fantastic!

Lots more galleries in Santa Fe - including the Mineral and Fossil Gallery where A purchased an interesting 150 million year old fossilized squid piece. We didn't even get to see that much of Canyon Road as we started out near the plaza. The drive by we took later was just enough for A to know he needed to go back for photos the next morning and me to know that I could happily return to Santa Fe another time in the future. Our other explorations included churches: San Miguel Mission and Loretto Chapel; food: Upper Crust Pizza (whole wheat crust! yum!) and Bumble Bee Baja Grill (squash quesadillas are my new favorite!); and chocolate!

Oh, the chocolate! A sweetly put together a list of the best chocolate places in Santa Fe for my tasting pleasure. It was catch as catch can and we nabbed chocolates whenever we could find them, but were surprised at the dearth of chile inspired chocolates. At Todos Santos, we tried the red chili and tangerine cream truffle - it was good, but not quite spicy enough for our local adventure. At Kakawa, we were put off by the incredible focus on elixirs, but tried a couple of truffles and elixirs anyway. From the mildest Marie Antoinette to the strongest Aztec Warrior, we decided that cocoa elixirs were not for us. We did enjoy the truffles, though. Number 1 for us was the Peach Pink Peppercorn truffle which neatly combined the sweet peach and spicy peppercorn flavors. The Gorgonzola truffle was also quite good, but we are biased to our own local smokey blue cheese truffle. Another interesting taste that we didn't love, but which is worth a taste was the paprika truffle. Basically a chocolate truffle rolled in paprika, it's strange at first because it's a whole lot of paprika, but once the flavors blend in your mouth, it's actually quite good. After that, we were on a mission to find chili chocolates.

A wrong turn put us at Chocolate Maven, but we were in no mood for distraction, so it was back into the car until we finally found our original destination of Chocolatesmith. Next time, it would be worth taking time for Chocolate Maven, but every time, it's worth taking lots of time for Chocolatesmith! Both were featured on Food Network which will make them popular tourist spots, but you don't get on Food Network for nothing! Chocolatesmith was generous with their tastings and we were able to try many things, including a white chocolate lavender lemon bark and the mountain bark (with cherries, coconut, toffee and white and dark chocolate!), both of which we loved. In our excitement over the green chiles, we even forgot to try or purchase any red chile chocolates, so those are on my list for when I go back! We walked away with dark chocolate dipped ginger; pistachio, cherry and green chile bark and a single spat all of which were consumed with great delight. It's hard to say if I liked the bark or the spat better - the spats are "Pan Roasted Tamari PiƱon (pine nut!) in a bed of Buttery Home made Caramel trimmed with Dark Chocolate" and were DELICIOUS! The sum of our chocolate tasting - yes, there is good chocolate to be had in Santa Fe!

We also spent some time in Bandelier National Park after which I welcomed the highlight of our vacation: a trip to the spa! A booked us a room at Ten Thousand Waves, but not just any room, the best room they have, the romantic Ichiban private bath house. It was an amazing place to relax and rejuvenate and an even more amazing place to receive a marriage proposal. Yes, A asked me to marry him while we were relaxing together at the spa and I said yes. This vacation and this place will therefore always hold a special remembrance in my heart.

Must do's next time I'm in Santa Fe:

  • Try local kombucha
  • Canyon Road art galleries
  • Chocolate Maven: breakfast and baked goods
  • Chocolate Smith: more spats, red chile chocolates
  • More authentic New Mexican cuisine
  • Ten Thousands Waves, again and again

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This Week From the CSA

A and I are excited to have purchased a share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farm. This means we paid a fee to the farm up front and receive a share of the harvest each week through the growing season as well as free seconds, discounts at the farm stand and a few open farm days to U-pick. A has charged me with making sure that we don't waste our CSA dollars and that we eat up all the yummies we get each week, so I'm going to be blogging about what we get and what I make with it each week. Bon apetite!

This week's bag contains and was used to make:
  • lettuce - Taco salad, mmm...
  • rhubarb - Raw Strawberry Rhubarb pie
  • strawberries - gifted to a friend
  • pinto beans - dried, on hold for later use
  • onions - saved for later use in soup
  • bok choy - didn't get to this until it was already turning; edible peices cut up for dog food
  • a calendula plant - gifted to a friend
So far, so good. Hope we get bigger bags as the summer goes on.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What a Morning

It's only 8am and it's already been quite a morning...woke up very early. Not sure why - maybe the 2 cups of coffee I had at 9pm last night? Didn't seem to affect my sleep, but I'm certainly a little extra jazzed this a.m. Found out that the dog had peed on the carpet at some point in the night - did we forget to take him out for his before bed pee? Yes, we did. Oops - mea culpa. Something has to change for my poor dog. He's not happy and I'm not happy about his current quality of life. And "staying in the garage" would most definitely not be an improvement.

After many "I'm sorry"s to A for the carpet, it's on with the day, including a raw breakfast: soaked oat groats blended with cinnamon and dates with sliced apples - yummy and preparing lots of other raw foods for the next couple of days. The raw agenda: sunflower and sun dried tomato pate, not tuna salad and ranch dressing from Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People. We got tomatoes (for stacking or for slicing onto sandwiches and in salads), romaine lettuce (for sandwich "bread" or salads) and avocado. I think that gives us several options and will be quick and easy since I pre-prepped onion, celery and lemon juice. I mostly just have to process things together this morning. I might even splurge and mix up a raw cheez if I have enough lemon juice.

This morning, I also cleaned out my email inbox, created several useful Google Documents and emailed "collaborators" to join me, found 3 new old friends on FB, added a travel map to my FB page and added every city I've ever been to, using the criteria that I had to have actually done something in that city, not just drove through or flew through. I'm getting a little OCD with my FB page.

I've also recently added "weRead" in which I can keep adding books that I've read. I should have just started where I was at that moment, but it's very tempting to just keep adding books that I've read. I've already added more than 150 books and I keep remembering more authors and books and that's all fiction! One thing that's holding me back is that my aunt, all of who's books I've read, is a historical romance writer...many of my other favorites seem to be pretty sexy books and some are even categorized as erotica ... yeah, there's really not much more I want to say about that, but I just don't want people to think I only read sexy books. I remember dog sitting for a couple weeks once and reading all the crime dramas on my hosts shelves during that time frame - I just don't remember those books.

Quite a few other tasks on the list today, but most of those have to do with mailing or faxing things before I leave this weekend, especially getting my medical claims sent in so I can be reimbursed. Another appointment with the chiropractor and maybe something social this evening as A and I haven't been out to see our friends in a couple of weeks.

Whew. Tired already. Think I might have to take a nap.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ack, My Back

Haven't been able to sit down and catch up my thoughts for the past week, because I haven't been able to sit down. I herniated a disk in my back a week ago and have been in a world of hurt since then.

I find myself remembering when my dad did this in his 40's. My mom told me that was the only time she'd ever seen him cry and it wasn't about the pain - it was about not being able to take care of his family. Well, my dad ended up having surgery and was fine not long after. I'm going to be fine, too, sans surgery.

It's great having chiropractic, naturopathic and acupuncture at my fingertips. I'm taking fish oil and enzymes to fight the inflammation and am having soft tissue work, adjustments and physical therapy to recover. While I've been down, I've been watching all kinds of raw food videos and wishing that's what I was eating, but instead, I've made do with take out since I didn't want to be more of a burden on A. I do think raw food would have helped speed my recovery along, though, if for no other reason than that I wouldn't have been consuming so many pro-inflammatory foods.

I've been out for a week, hoping that workman's compensation is going to cover this time off, but needing to be off regardless, because sitting hurts and standing for too long also increases my pain. I'm bored, a little cranky, also hopeful and glad that I have a personal vacation scheduled next week.