Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Sorry, no eloquent post from here. We're in Idaho at Eric's parent's home and I feel bad occupying too much computer time. But wanted to tell you all that we love you and hope you have as joyful a Christmas as we are having! Remember the Reason.

saranghe, Elisa

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One Week and a Bath

Sunday marks Gwen's one week birthday... funny, seems like she's been with us a lot longer than 1 week! I guess the decreased amount of sleep makes the days longer. And they all run together too. I have the hardest time now keeping track of what day it is... Tuesday? Friday? Aren't they all the same?

At her pediatrician appointment Gwen's stats were:

  • height: 20 3/4 inches.... 90th percentile
  • weight: 7 lbs 8 oz.... 50th percentile (but 1 full oz more than when she was born!)
  • head circumference: 35 cm.... 50th percentile
Looks like she might have Eric's tall skinny genes afterall! :)

she hates it!
nah, this isn't so bad.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"I Saw God Today"

Gwen Elizabeth Allan

born: Sunday, November 9, 2008 6:26 am

7 lbs 7 oz
19 inches long

more on the story when I can sit down and type with a lil more gusto... :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

still here

Well folks, if you thought I would go 2 weeks early... I didn't. Of course, if I went into labor today I would still be closer to 2 weeks than 1 week, but I'm not feelin it. Looks like baby girl Allan is going to obediently wait at least til after Eric's test on Friday. Just wanted to update you all!

I'm almost finished with the baby's room, so stay tuned for photo updates in the next couple of days! :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Poll: When Will I Go Into Labor?

37 weeks today. Wow. (This pic of our lil buckeye baby belly is actually 36 weeks and 5/7, but that's close enough, right? Can you see that she's dropped?) Okay, so here's the fun part where anybody's guess is game: when will I actually go into labor? If you believe the whole 'like mother like daughter' thing or that you can get a good feel for maternity trends by looking at Mom and sister stats, here ya go:

My mom was 2 weeks early with her first baby, my older sis. Then pretty much right on time with me, my bro, and my younger sis. My older sister was 2 weeks early with her first baby and right on time with her 2nd. Keep in mind that my mom and I have very similar body shapes and my maternity pictures are strikingly similar to hers when she was expecting. But, both my mom and my older sister are shorter and more 'petite' than I am. Especially my sis. She's teeny and thin, so we really don't look anything alike physically and I can't honestly anticipate that our bodies would respond all that similarly in labor patterns.

One final detail. I'm dilated to a 1 now. (yes!)

So, will I go into labor 2 weeks early during week 38 (which would be NEXT week-- and a test week for Eric. Not extremely convenient timing...), 1 week early during week 39, pretty much right around my due date on Nov 17th, 1 week late, or more than one week late (pushing towards a Thanksgiving baby! Please don't let this be the case!)? Cast your votes in the poll to your right! :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Beautiful Sleep

I had a roommate my freshman year at BYU named Jessica who was a budding self-taught photographer. She really had an eye for capturing people when they appeared the most pure, the most peaceful, and the most innocent... and her FAVORITE time to snap a photo was while someone was blissfully asleep. At first I found it perturbing because one cannot possibly consent to said photo if one is catching up on Z's (and I didn't enjoy having my photo taken without being aware of it). But I have grown to appreciate what she described as "a moment when there are no cares or worries creasing the forehead or filling the eyes with tension". She thought people looked the most beautiful when they were asleep. What do you guys think? Are YOU or your loved ones the most beautiful/handsome when blissfully asleep? I think Eric looks pretty dang cute in this pic...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Taking on too much... But isn't it worth it sometimes?

Apparently, this is one of my talents. Taking on too much, not realizing my own limitations, going above and beyond expectation... I've done it for as long as I can remember. Ask my mom or my friends from Elementary school... I did it then too. Is this really a talent/gift or a weakness? I'm not really sure. Maybe both, depending on what I do with it. I guess if I get overwhelmed and stressed out about something, that is definitely a sign that I've gone too far... but if I just make some activity or project turn out REALLY great, then that's a good thing, right?

Well, I took on a normal project yesterday and blew it up into a huge production. The Pumpkin Pallooza I was hosting for Gardening/Food Storage Club at church was a smashing success with a great turnout (15 people! Wow! That was so exciting to see all the new faces! And I know so many more would have liked to come!), delicious food (I'm admittedly proud of how the pumpkin pie turned out since I've never made one, let alone from real pumpkin rather than canned--and that cake was all that I could have hoped it would be!), fellow-shipping time for new ward members and some visitors with whom I used to work, and I learned a TON in the process! That would make the 'over achieving' worth it, right?

But did I overdo it? I am feeling exhausted from sitting at the computer too long typing up info and recipes (seriously, like a 10 page document!), have a pervasive back ache that began after being on my feet ALL day yesterday cooking, and it took almost all night with windows open to the brisk October air before I finally cooled off and stopped sweating from being by a hot stove/oven baking all day...but I wasn't stressed, or anything. Just physically tired. (Which I guess is a big deal when you're 36 weeks pregnant. I forget that I can't do as much with my body as I could normally...). I had so many offers of help-- I probably should have taken people up on it-- but could we all really have fit between my table and the oven and baked all day without just having 'too many cooks in the kitchen'? I don't know... I did take Julie up on her offer to come over for about 2 hours and help with the stew. I was pretty tired by then and she was great! So, realistically, should I have asked more people to come help out?

Did I take on too much, yes. But wasn't it really worth it?

Baby Shower

What a great time! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to both Nancy and Heather for throwing such a great shindig, just for me! Sorry there aren't any better pics, I totally got too involved in enjoying myself and forgot to get any more. I sure wish I had taken a big group pic to capture all the wonderful friends who came to share in our joy over the pending arrival of Baby Girl Allan! Thanks to all of you! We're much more prepared now for the arrival of our lil one. Seriously, it is really humbling to realize how blessed we are to have such great friends out here... ya'll are more like family than I ever realized friends could be. It really makes a big difference when family lives so far away.

Enjoy the pics of a few of the gals 'becoming pregnant' with balloons! :) I'll leave them nameless for their own privacy... but ya'll know who you are! :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Naming an Elephant

Eric loves his younger brother Collin. They have this 'brotherly affection' thing goin to which I guess I don't completely relate (since I've only got 1 brother). Collin is "Coll-Dawg" on Eric's cell, they love to have lively debates/political bashing sessions every Sunday, and mercilessly tease each other about superfluous things whenever the chance arises. (Thanks Mama Allan for making such a nice scrap page of pics of Collin that I could steal from your blog and post here! :)

Yesterday I was sharing from my National Geographic magazine reading about a group of Elephantologists in Tanzania that get to name each elephant they observe whatever they want. Really cool, random names like "Genghis Khan" or "Marley" or "Babylon". I thought that was pretty fun to think about, sky's the limit, ya know. So I asked Eric what he would name his elephant if he found one. He looked up from his cardiology reading and immediately replied:


then a pause for brief contemplation...

"But only if he was AWESOME...."

another pause...

"If he was a wuss, I'd name him 'Collin'."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can Anyone Explain Airline Costs?

I just got off the phone with one of my dear friends in Korea who is trying to find cheap plane tickets to visit various friends in the US when she arrives here in December. Can anyone explain to me why it costs almost 400 dollars to fly from Washington D.C. to Columbus, OH (a trip roughly 1.5 hours) and THE SAME DAY it would only cost her 260 dollars to fly from D.C. to Salt Lake City? I just don't get it...

A Pretty Meal

I think I'm a good cook. Really, I can count this as a talent of mine. Recipe following to a 'T' may not be my strongest point, but I can improvise and substitute with the best of them! I rarely make the same meal twice unless it was just an ABSOLUTE winner because I love to experiment and try new recipes. Some yield more success than others, but for the most part, I think I've got a cooking gene.

I've never, however, been able to get my meals to turn out as beautifully as the pictures in books... (maybe because I don't do EXACTLY what they say, I don't know. Or maybe they're all really plastic-- like in fast food advertisements.) Eric assures me my food is attractive, not just tasty. (we were discussing Elder Uchtdorf's talk in the Relief Society Broadcast and I commented that I can never get my food to look as good as I think it tastes.) He didn't agree, bless his merciful eyes and tastebuds!

I made this Thai Halibut (don't worry, I didn't eat the Halibut) curry meal this week (even made the curry myself from whole spices! Very pleased with my new birthday mortar and pestle! Thanks hon!) and he immediately got out the camera to document the "pretty meal" with a

"see, Hon? You make pretty food!"

I love that boy!

btw, there was rice and curried butternut squash to go with everything. Just didn't make it in the picture. I don't know why I'm telling you that... like anyone really cares... but I guess I don't want you to think the meal is unbalanced. (I'm so silly! Why do I care if you think I made an unhealthy meal? We already ate it all anyway!)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Baby Budget 2009

So Eric and I have been working on a baby budget for 2009, just to make sure we will have enough funds to cover all the new expenses. We might need to cut back our entertainment/miscellaneous fund to take care of diapers, ya know? :P It is kind of funny trying to look at national averages for things like food, diapers, and health care and then just kind of guess how much we think WE will be spending in each area. Really, we're trying to be 'generous' with our baby fund but not extravagant. Frugal. I still think we'll be surprised by how much things end up costing us. So, a quick poll for all the moms out there: what was the most surprising new baby expense that you encountered? (and may I ask how much it actually cost you?) Also, if you'd rather answer this question... what item did you purchase that everyone told you was 'essential' and then you realized afterwards there was a much cheaper route? Are there more expensive items that you think are actually WORTH the extra expense for some reason instead of getting the generic/cheap kind?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pregnancy Thoughts and Shots

Well, we had our 34 week check up yesterday. Everything is looking great!

What will I miss most about being pregnant?

7- stronger nails and beautiful hair!

6- feeling justified to sleep in a little

5- being first in line for food because no one wants to impede the pregnant lady from getting her edibles!

4- how nice everyone is. Seriously, so accommodating!

3- imagining what she's doing or thinking right now every time I change activities

2- watching Eric press his nose into my belly begging for her to "give us some kicks"

1- feeling those sweet wiggles, kicks, and hiccups inside me during the day when I'm pleased to know she is awake too.

I've just been thinking so much lately about how beautifully miraculous it is knowing that she is so much a part of me right now. I'm going to miss that, I think. There are definitely things for which I'm grateful.

32 weeks

33 weeks

34 weeks! 6 more to go!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Delaying the Project...

No picture to go with this one. I'm just kind of postponing getting started on one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) projects for baby: sewing the bumper and matching valance.

don't get me wrong. I'm THRILLED to be making it myself and excited to have the finished product so cute with all the hand appliqued animals and bugs, and all... and the ears and wings that flap freely instead of being tacked down... I mean, these things are going to be ADORABLE! And I really love using my hands (and Jenni Harris's sewing machine) to do it, and I've got the time since I've finally gotten all the furniture finished, and I've eliminated the excuse of a cluttered room since I've finally finished organizing and tidying everything....

so why don't I want to march upstairs and get started?

I think it has something to do with knowing that once I get started, there is no going back til I'm completely finished. I'll no longer have nice, neat stacks of cute material folded up on my desk... I'll have a big work in progress.

it is kind of like that feeling you get before you start typing your huge research paper or thesis. you know. Like you've done ALL the prep work, all the compiling and quote selections, and all you have to do is dig down and commit to sitting in front of the computer for a dedicated 20+ hours or so just to put it all together and crank out the rough draft. But you don't want to do it. Don't want to start because you know you can't do it in 1/2 hour spurts: it has to be HOURS and HOURS to get it done. Does anyone else know what I'm talking about? Am I the only one who ever feels this way?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What Wakes you Up?

So, lately I've been plagued with light sleep. This is HIGHLY unusual for me, as any of you that ever lived with me will verify! I am a HEAVY sleeper and regularly oversleep an alarm unless a physical person helps me wake up. (Jordan, you remember those good times, right? :P) Funny thing is that I won't hear any mechanical sounds in my sleep, but will startle awake if someone says my name. Don't know why that is.

When Eric and I were engaged I was really busy with a full load of spring/summer classes. He had a much lighter schedule. Naturally, despite my workload, we were the usual engaged couple that stays up WAY late every night just having a great time. especially since it was summer! So, I had Eric call me every morning to wake me up for class. I thought this would give him adequate warning about my difficulty waking up. Turns out, he was still surprised when we got married. Apparently, he thought I just wanted to talk with him every morning and used the 'wake up call' as a ploy to squeeze more Eric time into my day. Boy was he surprised to discover my morning wake up troubles! But I digress. I was telling you about my recent inability to sleep.

Sometimes it is because I have to use the restroom (pregnancy does that to you). Sometimes it is because I wake up hungry (pregnancy does that to you too). And sometimes it is because our sweet 33 week baby is awake and would like to play games in my tummy (pregnancy definitely did THAT to me!). Whatever the cause, despite my exhaustion during the day, I find I've become a light sleeper in the mornings. I get up and stay up at ridiculous hours (3:15, 4:30, 5:45, 6:15 on a Saturday...) and even have trouble taking naps. I just lay there. Restful, but kind of frustrating when I'd REALLY like to be in a deep sleep dreaming or something! This morning I got up early after laying there for over an hour and made omelettes with fresh tomatoes and peppers from our garden, sauted mushrooms, salami, and raspberry-peach yogurt/OJ smoothies for our breakfast. At least I did something productive, right? :)

So, what wakes you up in the middle of the night? What wakes you up in the morning, and would you prefer to wake up some other way? Let's hear some stories, eh?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What Were You Like in High School?

Kendall, this is for you. Actually, it is the very first tag I've ever received. :) So I can honestly say I don't normally do these! :) P.S. Brianna, I know you only read short entries, so I won't be surprised if you skip this one. There aren't any pictures, after all.... hey, I should scan some and put them in here...!

1. Did you date someone from your high school? No. I went on a total of 3 dates in high school. And I asked for all 3 and they were all prom.

2. What kind of car did you drive? I drove an 82 white Firebird for a week... til I totaled it in a 3 car accident. The long snout saved me from some serious injury. I'll share the story someday, I guess. It was pretty traumatic. I didn't drive again for a while, actually. When I did, I drove a white Honda prelude with a stick. That was a lot of fun! Finally I ended up with a 96 red Mitsubishi Galant... which some of you may recognize as the car I still drive now!

3. What is your most embarrassing moment in high school? hmmmm.... I dunno. I don't really get embarassed that easily. Not that embarassing things didn't happen, but I probably just laughed and pretended I didn't care. One time I did mistake a gal in my class for a guy. We had known each other for almost 3 years and that whole time I thought she was a guy. I totally tried to correct her when she was going into the girls' restroom. That was pretty ackward when she told me she WAS a girl.

4. Were you a party animal? I was a social creature, that's for sure! I was involved in EVERYTHING! That is NOT an exaggeration! But I don't think I was QUITE crazy enough to call a party animal.

5. Were you considered a flirt? nope. I don't think I really knew how to do it very well. That is probably why I never had a boyfriend or dated much. I had this bad habit of going out of my way to MASK the feelings I had for guys rather than letting them know it. It took me a LOOOOONG time to get over that tendency!

6. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? Yes. If you count 9th grade as HS, I was in band/orchestra then. clarinet. I was pretty good, and my dad was SUPER disappointed that I opted to only do choir after that. I figured I could either be good at both or great at one! I was in choir ALWAYS. I think I lived in the choir room during certain times of the year! Especially during All-Region or All-State tryout times. I'd go in right after early morning seminary for the morning practices. Usually I was one of the only ones there. I enjoyed that one-on-one coaching time with our directors. Then when I was in Unity my senior year we had all those rehearsals. It was crazy trying to balance things with soccer and all.

7. Were you a nerd? Well, I was blessed with the ability to get along with all kinds of groups of people. I was definitely friends with all the nerds, but also with all the preps and sporty types and music folks and artsy folks and, well, everybody. I think my 'floater' style of associating with people spared me being labeled a nerd. But I DEFINITELY took my classes seriously. I was all about the A's, man! I think, personality wise, I'm a nerd. I claim the title with pride! :) I STILL love to study and check out documentaries from the library to watch for fun! :)

8. Were you on any varsity teams? yes. I played Varsity soccer all through HS. LOVED it and still crave that kind of unity that you get from training hard together as a team! There is NOTHING that quite compares to organized, competitive sports!

9. Did you get suspended/expelled? are you kidding me? I can't even fathom HOW to get suspended or expelled!

10. Can you still sing the fight song? I don't think we had one.

11. Who were your favorite teachers? My 10th grade English and also AP Comp teacher Mrs. Rossetti (coincidentally, we have the same birthday), my 10th grade science and also AP Enviro teacher Miss. Banning, my algebra II and calculus teacher Mrs. Burlingame, my Spanish teacher Mr./Bro. McWhorter, and finally my choir teacher Mr. Erwin. Actually, this was hard to choose because I truly enjoyed MOST of my classes in HS.

12. Where did you sit during lunch? In the choir room. It was fun to hang out there!

13. School Mascot? bulldog. RED ones, to be exact. That is important to note because, for some REALLY strange reason, our rival HS was also bulldogs. they were purple, though. "sissies". ;P

14. Did you go to homecoming and with who? nope, never.

15. If you could go back and do it again, would you? I loved HS, I really did! I had a blast and feel like those were awesome years! I don't know about repeating them, though... would I ever want to repeat ANY years of my life? It might not be as much fun the 2nd time around. Would all my friends ALSO be repeating it with me? Would we do anything different or would it just be the same? If it was different, would I still love it as much... and if it was the same, what would be the point?

16. What do you remember most about graduation? it was long, the choir sang, my family all went to the Blue Bird of Happiness sculpture garden and restaurant in the boondocks afterward to celebrate. It was cool!

17. Where did you go senior skip day? If we had one, I don't remember it. I think I went to class. :) I told you I was a nerd.

18. Have you gained weight since then? Most DEFINITELY! There's no way I can compete with my HS self for being in shape. Holy cow, I was running around for 3 hours every afternoon at soccer practice and drinking a protein shake with fruit for 2 meals a day! Even if I managed to squeeze a run into my schedule every day now, there's no way I'd be in as great shape as I was in HS. Especially now. I've got this belly, ya see... ;)

19. Who was your prom date? Juan Carlos, Pongsak Jituatrakoon, and Tommy Lowden.

20. Are you planning on going to your 10 year reunion? Sure, why not? I miss my HS friends. Most of them are still in touch with each other bc they stayed close to Arkansas. I'd love to see everybody and show off my awesome family! :)

21. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself? I wish I had been more confident in sharing the gospel with my closest friends while we were REALLY close. It would be more ackward now. Like I was emailing them just to preach to them or something. I'm not very good at keeping in touch.

You're it: whoever wants to do it.
I want to hear what ya'll were like in High School.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

From Bug to Butterfly

Apparently, these beautiful, fat, black and green caterpillars that we found demolishing the foliage of our carrot tops are Black Swallowtail caterpillars! They prefer a diet of parsley, dill, or carrot tops... go figure, we already saw that!... and are DEFINITELY voracious eaters!!!!

When you upset them, they stick out these bright orange horns. Scent glands. They are called osmeteria. Apparently they are supposed to surprise predators as well as have a nasty scent. I can't smell anything though. Guess I'm just not as sensitive as something that might actually want to eat them. Cool, eh?

Eric and I are holding on to 4 of them as 'pets' because we want to see them make their chrysalises. (Before you start thinking 'cruel and unusual treatment of animals', remember that we have huge jars, plenty of cheesecloth, and access to fresh caterpillar appetizers daily!) It can be a hassle to go out there and harvest fresh carrot tops for them to eat, but we are so excited to see what happens. Blame it on the entomologist in each of us... we're just science nerds! What about you guys? Any other nerds out there that enjoy this sort of thing?

Monday, September 22, 2008

3 Dollar Bookshelf Makeover

Just wanted to give you all an update! The room is slowly coming together. It is quite a process, mostly because I'm determined to do it 'right' rather than shove things in boxes or corners for organizing 'later' like I would normally do. Still trying to find a dresser. Anyway, here is the bookshelf! So happy to be finished with it! The pictures don't do the colors justice, really, but I'm glad that it no longer looks like an "Easter egg" as Eric commented while I was working on it! :)This is the 'before' pic. I neglected to get a TRUE before shot because this one is already a few hours of work into the project. It used to have orange, yellow, brown, and avacado colored foam jungle animals glued ALL OVER the white panels of each shelf. Even after I ripped them all off, the glue had to be first scraped off and then sanded off. I had to wear a sweaty mask and gloves for protection... just in case there was any lead paint under there that I didn't know about. This photo is post sanding, prepping for painting.
Me in my glorious painter's mask. Specially designed to keep all the bad fumes and what not away from me and baby... and to keep in all that sweat and condensation! :)

Finished Product! The colors aren't quite true to life, but it isn't a bad photo. It was a lot of work, atleast for my pregnant belly. I could only work on it about 2 hours every day because my lower back just got too sore from bending over to paint the stripes. Labor of love, I guess. Definitely worth it, though! I got the stripes I wanted and we don't have to repaint a wall of the room! Not a perfect job, but I'm pleased! 3 dollar bookshelf with a makeover!

Ever Realize How Much You Depend on Electricity?

Well, for those of you IN Ohio, you all are probably tiring of the "big storm that hit us" blog posts. Sorry. Mine won't be extremely creative either. Let's just say Eric and I were really fine with the resulting week of no electricity. Really. We were so well taken care of by friends with power, it is very humbling. I think there is no more appropriate way to comment on the experience than to publicly thank each one of you.
Thank you:
  • Thanks to Brianna and Justin for feeding us delicious grilled pork with strawberry sauce! I DO want the recipe!
  • Thanks to Nancy and Jarin for a) feeding me such a healthy lunch, b) helping me for 12+ hours to can all the poultry meat that had thawed from our freezer, c) feeding us dinner, and d) giving us a key so we could take hot showers on Sunday!
  • Thanks to Heather and Ryan for the absolutely delicious spaghetti dinner and the fun entertainment with friends and LIGHTS!
  • Thanks to Marie and Kurt for feeding us yummy chicken fajitas and soft brownies!
  • Thanks to Joe and Megan for a) storing our deep freeze in their apartment (along with the freezers of other people without power!), b) feeding us chicken sandwich and salad lunch, and c) keeping some perishable groceries in their fridge... mostly because I dislike warm liquids so much! :)
  • Thanks to Everybody else who invited us for food but we had to turn down because we were already eating somewhere else! Also for all the hot shower offers... you guys are all AWESOME!!!
  • Thanks also to the ward for being "Inspired" to have the barbeque while we still didn't have power. The food was great, and it was extra motivation for our neighbors to come since they still didn't have power either!
  • Thanks to Mama and Papa Allan for giving us such a wonderful Christmas present last year of a Coleman Stove and lantern... we cooked on it Sunday night and were lucky to not have the dilemma of many others: we had both the food storage AND the means with which to cook it. Atleast it worked for one big meal.
  • Thanks to Julie and Robin and Jenni and Vaughn for sharing our "trial" with us... it helped me keep my own thoughts positive when I saw how smiley you all were every day! Our daily walks reminded me that we weren't alone without power. Especially kudos to Julie and Robin for taking care of Eliza without electricity! Diaper changing in the middle of the night with a flashlight and being forced to use hand-washed burp rags because newborns have no concept of convenience really kept me grateful for our gal's current still-in-the-womb status!
  • Thanks to the power company crew members... I was so happy to see them on Sunday! I know it must have been hard for them and their families to have to work around the clock like they did. I'm glad they were willing to sacrifice so that we could get our power back.
  • Thanks to my dear Eric for his positive attitude, lack of complaining, and reasonable nature. He kept everything in perspective and we still had fun in the evenings, despite lack of electricity! He also reminded me to drink fluids, recharged my phone on campus, took care of our fish, moved the deep freeze (with help), and suffered through daily cold showers in the dark without a word of complaint. What a stallion! :)
  • Thank you to Heavenly Father for making the weather so agreeable. We had overcast days and cool breezes... I hardly even noticed the lack of air conditioning! :)
All in all, I'd say we are better off for the experience! I learned how to pressure can poultry, how to roast a duck, had time to organize some closet space, and have been given a VERY good excuse to finally clean out the fridge! What an experience, eh? Thanks to ALL of YOU!!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

By Popular Request... but you all understand this is a SECRET, right?

Well, it USED to be a family recipe... kept in the FAMILY... but lately I've seen it being shared more openly. Thing is, and I know you're going to think this isn't that funny, but it is really hard to share the recipe and have people like it. I got the gene from my mom, I guess, but I'm not very consistent in measuring things. I always put in what the recipe originally calls for, but then I'll just add a lil here and there of ingredients until it tastes like I want it to. So my disclaimer/advice on this recipe is: adjust it til it tastes like you like your salsa! If too spicy, add more tomatoes. If too bland, throw in some more garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, and cumin. And of course we all know what to do if it is too mild. :) So anyway, here it is.

Valladerez Guatemalan Salsa

  • 56 oz tomatoes, chopped. (be sure to put EVERYTHING from the chopped tomato in the bowl! Can be messy and time consuming because tomatos don't food process well)
  • 16 oz tomatos, blended (or if you prefer chunkier salsa, add these to the chopping block group).
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, rinsed and finely chopped (tradition dictates ONLY the leaves are included in salsa. I'm here to tell ya that pulling off all those leaves from the entire bunch can be time consuming and tedious. If you don't want to waste the stems and could care less about Guatemalan tradition, then be sure to food process them so noone gets a 'woody' bite.)
  • 1 BIG onion, finely chopped (again, pulsing on food processor helps speed things up and cuts down on crying).
  • 4 big cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (or leave the seeds for extra spice. I like to blend the jalapenos at the same time as the onion or other ingredient so that noone gets a big spicy surprise bite!)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • *pinch of red pepper flakes- optional
  • *1-2 Tbl lemon juice- optional
well, there you have it. simple. basic. Hope ya'll enjoy. Also, if you want to make this salsa with canned tomatoes instead of fresh, you can do it. (better fresh, but I'm biased.) Just use 2 cans 28-oz peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped instead of 56 oz fresh and 1 can crushed tomatoes, drained instead of blending 16 oz. If hosting a party of some kind, it is tasty to put a block of cream cheese right in the middle of the salsa bowl. Delicious combo! :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Salsa from our Garden!!!!

Eric thinks I'm a salsa snob. I think he might be right. I love a good homemade fresh salsa... I think perhaps I'm spoiled because even homemade CANNED salsa doesn't quite have the same appeal to me. Nothing beats a fresh salsa! Any kind is good: green roasted tomatillo, tomato and cilantro, yellow tomato with lime juice, mango or pineapple... I love it if it is FRESH! Well, the kind I usually make is a family recipe from Guatemala (for those of you who aren't aware, I'm 1/4 Guatemalan). Very basic, nothing too challenging-- like roasting the peppers or tomatillos-- and no exotic/expensive ingredients like mango to complicate things. It is also easily made less spicy, perfect for those of us who can't handle the fire right now--I'm not turning into a tastebud wuss, I promise, I'm just pregnant! I don't want heartburn. Just delicious salsa goodness!

Well, this year I'm pleased to announce that our lil 7 foot by 7 foot garden has yielded more than enough roma tomatos, various peppers, and large onions to create a huge batch of homemade fresh salsa with garden produce!!!! :) YAY!!! Only the cilantro, garlic, and cumin (well, and salt, sugar, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes) isn't from our own hard work. Okay, so that means only 3 ingredients are from our garden rather than the grocery store, but hey, they're the MAIN three, right? :)

The jars sure look nice all lined up and pretty, ready for sharing with neighbors and friends. Hurray for a bountiful harvest! :) I'm looking forward to eating a big chipful already! And probably putting fresh salsa on things it doesn't really belong on... just cuz it is THAT good! :) What food or product are you sort of "snobbish" or "spoiled" about? (I had a roommate who was a self-proclaimed toilet paper snob. Keeps things interesting...)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Nesting: Making a Nest?

According to my Korean dictionary, nesting is building a nest. Mostly using feathers. But a second meaning of 'to nest' is 'to dwell' and I suppose that is what I'm doing. Creating a dwelling for our lil baby. I ought to show you pictures of the room in progress, but honestly, I'm so embarassed by its current state that I don't dare. Shout out here to my dear Father-in-law, Papa Allan, because I think Mama Allan (hi! *waving*) might compare the current state of things to his trophy room. You know how birds collect all kinds of trash for putting in their nests? String, discarded candy wrappers, shiny gum foils, etc? I promise I'm trying to prevent this nest from looking quite THAT eclectic... but it is taking some time. Right now I'm working on refinishing a 3 dollar baby bookshelf that I collected from a garage sale last year as well as a particle board 3 drawer 'thing' that I pulled out of the dumpster pile right outside our front door (perfect size for lil baby socks and onesies!). Hopefully I'll finish both of these today so that I can have a place to put the baby items we're receiving and get them OUT of the boxes taking up space on the floor. Then the crib needs to be assembled (we got it off of Craigslist-- it is lovely!).

After that we get into the 'fun' things that I'd like to do just to make the room soft and cute. The plan is to sew a cute baby bumper for the crib (adorable pattern... you guys just WAIT!) and a matching valance for the window. We don't have any window treatments right now, so I'm planning on taking care of that. I'd like to have a cute shelf/valance rod combo piece that I can paint to match the bookshelf and other furniture that could also be functional storage space for lil stuffed animals or knick knacks. Then some cream curtains and the valance will tie everything together. We are debating painting one wall a nice green... but haven't decided yet because it would have to be mostly Eric's project and he is so busy with school. We still need to get a changing table... but I've heard that you don't REALLY need one and can just change the baby on a pad on the floor. Any opinions here? Since I've never been there, obviously, I'd sure benefit from your experiences. Either way, I'm keeping my eye on Craigslist things... just in case!

And then, of course, after I get the fun projects all taken care of in the baby's room, there are projects like cleaning out the laundry chute that we are currently using as pantry storage, cleaning out the bathroom closet to make room for baby bathing supplies, reorganizing the closets in her room so that they accommodate more than just my arts/crafts, our holiday storage, and our outdoors/sports paraphenelia... so much preparation for our lil nestling! Good thing I'm officially finished with full time work, eh? Pictures of the FINISHED PROJECTS soon to be forthcoming! (fingers crossed on the 'soon' part).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

2 Years!!!... and the Shoes that Started it ALL!

It is INCREDIBLE to think that Eric and I have been married for 2 years now! We celebrated our anniversary yesterday... and it doesn't seem that it has been a whole year since the last time we reminisced and walked down marriage memory lane! Wow, we've had some good times!
Since I did a 'top 10 things I love about Eric' post on his birthday, I think I'll just share a tiny tidbit of our story for those of you who may not already know it. I'd like to talk about the shoes that started it all.
Eric and I were "just friends" and REALLY that's all we were from August 2001 til April 2006! We were in the same ward, went on friendly dates, wrote each other consistently as we each served missions, came home and took an awesome class together, and continued to go on dates just to keep up with each other and have a good time together. But it was always clear in both of our minds that it was only friendship we were cultivating here. We dated other people, crushed on other people, and shared those details openly. Until I had a dilemma.
I had my first big crush since my mission. He was handsome, witty, and popular (apparently), and he was giving me mixed signals. Finally I came to the conclusion that he was struggling to make up his mind because we worked together (at the MTC)... and he only saw me in missionary attire... and couldn't disassociate me from Sister Missionaries who are definitely not "pursuable". So when he invited me to a party, I determined that I was going to look HOT so that he would get over his mental speed bump and decide I would make an awesome love interest in addition to friend and coworker. My roommate and I went to the mall and found the perfect outfit... complete with 4 inch black heels. These heels had a black strap that wrapped around the ankle and a slender band that went across the top of my foot. They were AWESOME and I felt GORGEOUS in them! Well, I'll leave out the details, but this guy made it clear that night that he wasn't interested. I was pretty frustrated. Afterall, I'd hoped that when he finally made up his mind, he would be deciding to date me, not discard me.
The next weekend was General Conference. (There's more story there about how Eric and I ended up going together, but I'll leave it for another post.) Suffice it to say, I talked his ear off on the way up to Salt Lake about this 'dufus' and how could he decide he wasn't interested when I looked THAT good? I think I planned to wear the shoes that day JUST so I could look really good walking around at General Conference just to spite him. Eric is a very good listener. So by the time we got to conference, I was already feeling very validated and supported. Since I was driving, I wore other shoes on the way up (4 inch strappy heels are tough) and stopped to change when we arrived. Of course I pointed out to Eric that these very strappy sandals were the ones I was wearing and asked "aren't they hot?" to which he could only reply "yeah, they are!"...
So the story goes from here that he looked at the shoes at my request... and then had to look again... and then couldn't stop looking the entire time we were out at Salt Lake. Somehow these sassy black sandals helped Eric to see me in a different light. I felt the change too... somehow indescribable, but flirtatious in a way we had never been before. The day was wonderful, and I knew something had changed. (I would only find out later the important role the shoes played in it all. :) He later told his roommates and described the shoes as "bikinis for feet" and determined he had to ask me out again when I WASN'T wearing the shoes just to see if the connection we had both felt was legit or whether it was just the shoes. Thus began our new adventure as our friendship was forever altered into something more! Turns out the shoes didn't work their magic on the person I originally wanted them to...but even better! They worked on the person I love more than anything in the world!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On Being Pregnant...

Well, it is interesting that I wanted to show SOOOOO badly, and now that I finally am, I have to stop myself from being too self-conscious. I LOVE being pregnant and LOVE knowing that this lil growing belly is home for our lil gal... but I can't say I love feeling heavy, slow, cumbersome, and fat. The back aches alone are not that big of a deal, but combine that with the on-your-feet type of work I do right now... and you get the picture. I'm already tired. And I'm not even technically in the 3rd trimester yet!

However, I am thrilled to report the athletic activities of our lil girl! She is so cute when she wakes up. She kicks and squirms for a good hour, delighting me with her budding soccer skills (during the day), and keeping me awake (at night or early morning)! Then she'll be quiet and peaceful for a good 3-4 hours before deciding it is time for communicating with Mommy or "playtime with Daddy" as Eric likes to call it. Last week he was trying to talk to her through my belly (he delights in waking her up) so he pressed his ear down to try and hear her squirm or a response of any kind... and she full on KICKED HIM IN THE FACE! Our lil gal doesn't take kindly to being woken up, I guess!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wedding Flowers!

Making Amber's wedding flowers was quite a production! I'll spare you the long, detailed, and somewhat stressful story about ordering the flowers, supplies, etc. online in an effort to save money by getting wholesale prices... I don't think we actually saved that much in the end! Oh well. I definitely learned a lot and have lots of tips to offer anyone who is a non-'professional' trying to do wedding flowers themselves. I'd do several things differently if I ever got asked to do another wedding... first off, I'd probably decline doing flowers for a wedding in a state other than the one in which I live unless I could be there for atleast a week before the wedding!
Amber's colors were 'earthy' natural blues and greens. I knew immediately I wanted to use a blue or blue/green Hydrangea and Stephanotis with blue pearls in them. The Jade roses circling the Hydrangea and the Salal leaves followed that plan easily. The Dutch Spiral hand-tyed method worked out beautifully and the details only made the design more satisfactory to me. I loved the ribbon I found: it had light green edges and unified the entire design by running down the length of the stems. I was very pleased with how beautiful the bouquet looked! The boutennieres were also lovely, especially the day we made them.

Anyway, with a TON of help from Aunts, parents, and my dear friend Mo, the flowers turned out lovely! After the lil Hydrangea accents in the boutennieres started to warm up, they got pretty limp. Overall, everything looked much better the day before and quickly began to wilt in the Manti sun and heat (and we DID have some disasters, but luckily you can't tell that from the wedding pics)! So, here are a couple of photos.

one of all the immediate siblings... and Justin. I include it because Ambie looks so lovely, despite how goofy Spencer looks or the fact that my eyes are closed! Tamara is normal, atleast. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quick Catchup!

Wow! Soooo much to talk about! We've been so busy with various out of town excursions and trying to keep on top of our normal work and research schedules... that posting has not been a priority. Sorry to disappoint you. Here I am now, sort of catching up on all the news.

1. Most important news of all! We're having a GIRL!!!! She's healthy, 4 days larger than average, and quite a little wiggle worm! Eric and I are thrilled and can't wait to meet her! Things I'm anxious about raising a girl:
a) what about when she becomes a teen? I'm really anxious about having her be so stubborn and sarcastic...what if she hates us?
b) dating, dating, boys, dating, boys, etc. Here's where Eric comes in handy as a fiercely intimidating father... :)...he'll keep those dates respectful! Ever heard that country song about the dad cleaning his gun til the boy brings his daughter back from their date? I think he really envisions himself doing something like that...
c) supposedly girls are more calm...but I know I was a very ACTIVE kid! I won't be surprised if she is too, considering both my history and Eric's. I hope I have enough energy to keep up!
d) I don't want her to be prissy and totally "girlified" so that she wears frilly pink all the time, doesn't want to get dirty, and ends up spending hours in the bathroom doing her hair... but I also don't want her to be "butch" and not very feminine so that she doesn't want to dress up nicely, burps all the time, laughs like a hyena, or doesn't care for having good manners. There's a Tom-boy balance there I'm looking for...
e) I hear lil girls are more sensitive, that hey hold grudges. I think Eric is anxious about how to build a close bond with her since he grew up with 4 brothers...Elise didn't come along til he was older. He's already remarked that he doesn't understand how to get girls to do things that need being done... ya know, with boys you just say "you need to feed the dogs. go on, get yourself out there and do it unless you want a spanking" as a final ultimatum. But that doesn't work quite as well with girls...

2. We've had some wonderful trips! photos forthcoming in future posts of these individual trips
a) Had a Hart family reunion in Idaho and went camping, to Yellowstone, and to a gourmet pizza place
b) Had an Allan family gathering in Idaho and went to the unfinished cabin, horseback riding, fishing, and the Twin Falls Temple Open House
c) Had a beautiful time with Amber in Utah for her sealing to Justin in Manti and made tons of salsa for the reception, flowers for the wedding, got our nails done, and took lots of pictures at the temple

Friday, June 13, 2008

What kinds of things embarrass you? I was amused recently to have someone I know describe Japanese seasoned fried bean curd pockets called "Inarizushi-no-moto" as a rather embarrassing/inappropriate body part. While not the most polite way to refer to this delectable treat, anyone who's eaten this dish can attest to the aptness of the description... the anatomy analogy makes it obvious to what food is being referred! Crass, yes, but helpful in getting the point across-- especially since the name is rather long and foreign to non-Japanese speakers! I told the story to others afterwards... and was surprised to have the individual request that I not tell anyone of the opposite sex what was said because it would be too embarrassing. So, herein lies the question of "what is embarrassing?"... it wasn't the story itself, the crassness of the title, the bluntness of the creator, the potentially offended Japanese associates, or even the thoughts of the anatomy involved that chagrined the describer. It was only the idea that someone of the opposite sex was going to hear this story that embarrassed the individual!

Are you more easily embarrassed by things in the presence of the opposite sex? Certain family members? Certain co-workers or peers? What situations are least embarrassing to you, regardless of embarrassing content in discussion or actions? Stories, please, because I'm looking forward to hearing what you all think!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Quilts and Gardens: Aren't We Domestic?!?!

The last time I completed a sewing project of any kind was in Junior High when I made two of those felt sewing kits: a red race car for my brother and a computer with keyboard and mouse for my dad. And I think I even sewed a bunch of mini red stockings for some Christmas project at church. As an artist, I am attracted to fabrics... and I'll admit that I have a stockpile of some beautiful material with which I haven't done a thing except run my hands over it every once and a while! When I was in High school I was inspired by my best friend Jennie's t-shirt quilt and I cut up a bunch of raggy old shirts of mine for use in a similar project... those cut pieces are still in a nice neat bag in my craft closet. Somehow I forgot about the part that I didn't know how to sew when I began going at it with the scissors. In college I got excited about making a cute green quilted purse for my lil sister's birthday. You guessed it, I still have all the pieces, buttons, thread, and even lime green zipper... but no purse. I wanted to make a paint brush holder that rolls up and protects your brushes. I got everything cut and laid out... and broke 2 sewing machine needles in the space of 1 hour. My brush holding project rests next to all the other incomplete projects and failed attempts at being "domestic-seamstress-Elisa" in the craft closet. Hmmm.... Something had to be done about this!

So, I joined the quilting and sewing Enrichment group in our ward. Not because I'm really skilled in this area (as detailed above), but precisely the opposite! I borrowed a sewing machine and was flustered that I couldn't get it to work... and then embarassed and chagrined when I realized that the bobbin had no thread on it. Go figure. Well, I think that my ineptitude prevented me from completing the red, white, and blue rail fence project in a timely fashion, but it didn't keep the completed blocks from looking pretty darn good for a first try at quilting! I was admittedly proud that the center lined up on my second block. Now to do it again with a cute pink and green pinwheel pattern... and maybe I'll be brave enough to add my name to the drawing to take all the completed blocks and actually make a quilt with them!

Eric's man-version of domestic bliss this week has been his successful installment of a lovely 7x7 garden plot! He spent 8 hours digging up a previously weed-ridden portion of our backyard (after securing permission from management, of course) and trying to eliminate the plentiful rocks claiming that spot of soil as home. After removing 3 5-gallon buckets worth of rocks from such a small area, he has been hypothesizing that perhaps previous residents had a Zen rock garden there! In case you're wondering why I'm only taking pictures rather than helping to dig a lil, let's just say we have stray cats around here who are most likely carrying Toxoplasmosis.

Well, since we (when I say 'we', I really me 'I') successfully slaughtered all our tomato and pepper seeds that we started in our kitchen in March, Eric and I purchased some Roma tomato, Jalapeno, Bell, and Sweet Chili peppers. Don't they look nice in the soil? We've also got onions, carrots, beets, peas, cucumber, green onions, and herbs either already planted or on the schedule to be planted this week. What a great lil garden! Good job Eric!