Archive | October 2012

Mini Monday: Hurricane Time

Mini Monday: Hurricane Time

Although I am not a fan of weather disasters such as Snowmaggedon, Hurri-quake Week and now Frankenstorm (who is?), I can’t complain about the extra time they allow me to spend with my husband. Particularly when he makes me cinnamon toast “donuts” for breakfast—in the shape of a heart. Too cute.

Taking a Sick Day

Here was my workspace today… not too pretty (although fairly soft). It’s a good thing I’ve been to Costco recently and stocked up on tissues, because I’m pretty sure that this box is practically empty already. It’s just my luck to get sick when it’s fabulous outside (nearly 80 today) and I’ve only got one week left to spend with my hubby before he departs on his big work adventure.

While it’s clear that I am having a little bit of a pity party for myself today, I’m trying to be optimistic that when I wake up tomorrow the combination of water, juice and tea I’ve chugged along with some super awesome drugs (thanks in advance mucinex) will have me on the road to recovery! My poor little red nose sure hopes so!*

* Any typos, grammatical errors or other crazy statements found in today’s post should be blamed on my confused, mucus-filled sinuses.

Mini Monday: Beauty in the Backyard

Mini Monday: Beauty in the Backyard

Although fall is upon us and the weather will be colder that I’d like sooner than I’d like, we (and I use the term “we” loosely) added this lovely planter to our backyard in late September. The local hardware store had these great half barrel planters that I knew that my husband would love, so I took him to check them out — that’s the big role I played in this home improvement project. Thanks to my mother-in-law’s green thumb it now contains an attractive array of foliage.

Happy Three Year Freelance-Aversary!

It blows my mind that I have been working as a publications freelancer for three years. That’s 36 months of building a client base, of establishing wonderful relationships with colleagues, and expanding my self-employment status to include not only my publications day job, but also my evening Jazzercise instructor gig.

I never thought I’d be doing work like this. Although my dream job of singing my way through one Broadway hit after another hasn’t come to fruition, I’m pretty grateful that the twists and turns of life have led me to freelancing.

It’s been quite an adventure and (thankfully) my business has grown with each passing year, allowing me to continue this journey. I spend each day helping different clients with their varying needs. Due to the variety of projects I have to come up with new ways of approaching my work to ensure each client has the very best result. Always doing something different is one of the greatest perks of my job.

And 8 weeks of vacation in 2012 is a pretty close runner up. Although being my own tyrant has meant that at least half of that “vacation” includes time working. But still, I can’t complain. And I will never go back to the grocery store on a weekend, that’s for sure. Through freelancing I have found a work/life balance that I don’t think I ever realized was possible. I mean, I love my job, but I also very much love being able to have a life.

I am forever thankful for my husband’s unending support. From the first few months in the fall of 2009 when I didn’t know if I could earn enough to cover our groceries through surpassing this year’s income goal three months early, he’s been there telling me that he knows I can make this work.

The Big Freeze

In less than two weeks my husband will begin working in Afghanistan for a period of six-ish months. Although I have to admit I am not jumping up and down in excitement over here, it is a wonderful opportunity for him. One that he has been anxious to take on for quite some time and, because of that, I am happy that he will have the chance to embark on this adventure.

Top shelf: shrimp, tilapia, multiple containers of enchiladas; second shelf: jars of carrot ginger soup, hummus, grilled chicken, more enchiladas, and jars of French onion soup; Third shelf: ice cream (that needs to be eaten to make room for more dinners!), leak and potato soup, more hummus. In the door: more jars of French onion soup.

For me it means a few things in my routine will definitely have to change. Beside not seeing my favorite person at the start and finish of every day, I’ll have to make some other adjustments as well. I will definitely have to work harder to incorporate face-to-face human interactions into my daily life this winter. Between working from home and, well, living here if it wasn’t for jazzercise and my love of pastries made by other people I’d probably never speak to another human being. Thankfully we have lived in DC long enough that I have many lovely friends who won’t let me turn into a complete hermit — right everyone?

While my husband prepares to leave he has a lot of things to take care of on the work front, but he also is making his way through a very lengthy list of projects around the house. My favorite part of this list is the food portion. That’s right, his list has a food category. As readers may recall from previous posts, my husband typically does the cooking so getting used to making dinner for myself on a regular basis will also take some getting used to (and I am sure you will hear all about it).

Thankfully my darling spouse has filled our freezer with a variety of meals I can eat while he isn’t here to cook for me. He’s pretty much completed this section of the list based on how full the freezer is of soups including carrot ginger, french onion, leek and potato, and split pea, as well as with curry, hummus, and a few containers of chicken and black bean enchiladas. Can I just say that my husband totally rocks for doing this for me? Knowing that I will be able to eat a meal that he has prepared will help me feel a little closer to him despite the vast physical distance that will be between us. Now let’s just hope I don’t empty the freezer out during the first month!

French Double Chocolate Mousse Cake

The past few days were super social. We played host and attended multiple dinner parties, went to an open house, and provided the post-service coffee hour for our church on Sunday. All of these activities required desserts meaning the time had come to get serious about fall baking. While my husband tackled Friday night’s dessert — chocolate mousse with homemade whipped cream — I devoted my Saturday morning to creating sweet treats.

For our Saturday night pizza party I wanted to try something new so I decided to go with one of the many mouth watering dessert options in my favorite cookbook  Around My French Table. I settled on the double chocolate mousse cake and got to work.

While only having six ingredients I am pretty sure I got every dish in the house dirty whipping up this amazingly dense cake. Despite not having a double boiler, I melted down the 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate using our homemade version — a large soup pot and with a vegetable steamer as the base for the bowl of chocolate to sit over water. It worked well and the rest of the dessert came together without trouble.

The next trick was deciding which of the many baking options I wanted to go with — double bake and serve warm (didn’t seem practical for taking to someone else’s house); bake the first round, top with remaining mousse and chill before serving; or double bake and serve chilled. As this final option was the author’s preference it seemed like the obvious winner to me. (Sidenote: If I have the chance to make this again I think I will try the “bake then top with mousse and serve chilled” option in order to really distinguish between the two layers.)

I was a bit worried that the spring form pan I had available was bigger than the recipe called for since I was only supposed to bake 1/3 of the mousse concoction on the first go and ended up putting nearly 2/3’s of it in the pan to ensure that the bottom was covered, but based on all of the “mmms” that came around the bonfire on Saturday night, I’d say it was a success.

From left to right: The first baking, the cake being served, and a single slice topped with homemade whipped cream.

Bloggity Bloggity Blog Blog

Well hello there faithful readers (ie my dad). It’s been awhile. In fact it’s been about 6 months since my last post. What’s been going for all that time you may be wondering (or not, but I’ll tell you anyway):

Continued Home Improvements: These have focused mainly on our basement, which is starting to look like a real living/guest space (except for being sans bed). The bathroom is quite lovely now that my husband and father-in-law re-tiled the floor, put in a new sink and fixtures, and applied a fresh coat of paint. The main room has also been painted and we’ve finally put up a few things on the walls—mostly “pubby” things like pint glasses from England, a dart board (at regulation height mind you), and a rowing oar. Ironically we mostly drink wine in our basement, so we haven’t been acting terribly “pubby” ourselves.

More Foster Pups: We’ve also had quite a hiatus from fostering. We took a break from March to May and then from May until September after our experiences with Timmy the Terror. He was a sweet, but insanely neurotic guy who hated stairs, the backyard, other dogs, and sometimes my husband. It was a rough two weeks for us and the poor guy. Our most recent doggie house guest, Sophie the Sweetie, was a much better visitor. Despite her good manners, a puppy hiatus has been imposed as my husband prepares for some extensive overseas work travel.

Speaking of Travel: We were away almost as much as we were home this summer. First, we spent two weeks of July in California where we attended weddings in Pacific Grove and Sonoma and where I celebrated the big 3-0. During our California getaway my husband and I also had a chance to head back to where we honeymooned — St Orres in Gualala — and belatedly celebrated our fifth anniversary. In August we crossed the Atlantic the old-fashioned way (with a stop in Iceland) on our way to Norway. Being abroad meant two weeks away from the states, away from work, and away from everything that is part of our daily routine. We visited Oslo, Kristiansand, Trondheim, the Sognefjord area, and Bergen, and our getaway included spending time with old friends and making some new ones. On our return trip we spent two days exploring Iceland, including enjoying a delicious break from the frigid air by spending our last morning soaking in a thermal pool. The weather was amazing and we enjoyed the chance to catch up with friends, see the beauty of both countries and unplug from reality for a bit.

Garden: Despite all our time away our backyard garden still did pretty well in its first summer season. My husband hooked up an automated watering system and we ended up with a decent amount of tomatoes (and a freakishly high water bill…). Our peppers and jalapenos finally took off in September. In fact we still have so many jalapenos that we’re using them in everything. We’ve also harvested a good haul of green beans, salad greens, herbs and potatoes. Turnips, green beans, beets and carrots are still growing — along with the jalapenos, of course!

Jazzercise: To top it all off, I spent the spring preparing to be certified as a Jazzercise instructor. I was grateful to pass my audition in June and jumped into teaching classes around DC in July. I’ve been teaching between 6 to 8 classes a month and it’s going well. I’m feeling healthier and enjoying helping others have fun exercising. This has been made extra easy by the inclusion of some of my favorite summer pop hits in the recent choreography — who doesn’t want to rock out to “Call Me Maybe” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”? This week I am teaching every night. It will be interesting to see if I can move on Saturday!

With all the changes and diversions this summer, it’s been hard to blog. I’m hoping that this fall I can get back into the swing of it.