Friday, December 31, 2010

The Holidays

I keep waiting for a blog post that doesn't begin with a confession of negligence, but I have no one to blame but myself. However, I don't feel too bad about not writing because I've been celebrating surrounded with family. We started our first married Christmas holiday extravaganza with Sam's family and exchanged gifts with his immediate family. We were reminded just how adorable and verbal our niece has become, and we were fed very well. We had some time with his extended relatives as well as they came into town a day and a half before we headed out to my parents' house.
After reloading the car with a fresh set of presents and clothes, we drove on Christmas Eve to the Metroplex. Our traditional Bailey celebration commenced, with Mexican food and gifts on Christmas Eve, followed by immediate family Christmas the next morning. Sam and I received a TV, so our brains have just about turned to mush since we returned home. We've been thoroughly enjoying our new toy before we go back to school. Christmas lunch was with the Baileys, and it might have been the best I remember. Everything was delicious, and we managed to end the day with True Grit, leftovers, a group game, and the Cowboys.
Early the day after Christmas, we reloaded my mom's SUV and headed west to visit her family and exchange a few more presents. We had a good day in Abilene and headed back to the Metroplex for bedtime. Our last couple days involved taking my youngest cousins to see the latest Narnia film and a little shopping with my mom while Sam visited a dear friend in Denton with my dad.

The holidays have been replete with more joy and blessings than I can type, and thus far we have been able to see both sides of our families for major celebrations. I know that can't continue forever, but I'm grateful that the transition has been made easier by enlarging the family I celebrate with rather than forcing tough decisions. We have extravagant reservations at the Melting Pot tonight, and I'm thrilled to celebrate the New Year with my husband! More on that later. May your holiday memories be as rich!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another Semester Complete

My loving husband pointed out the other day that it has been almost a year since I finished my undergraduate degree. That still seems unreal. Last Christmas is a blur in many ways because I walked across the stage, received a diploma, opened lots of presents, and ate tons of food, then moved all my stuff to a new city to start a new degree program and finish planning a wedding. That sentence is disgustingly long and there are several tense shifts to emphasize how crowded the holiday season was last year.
Sam and I intentionally didn't spend any holidays together before we were married, so all the big events this year are that much more special because they're the first I'm sharing with him. (We celebrated before or after the official days, but we were never together on the calendar events.) We had a fantastic Thanksgiving, and I'm looking forward to his semester ending so that I can monopolize his time for a couple weeks. Naturally, the weeks will be filled with family and festivities, and I'm almost finished Christmas shopping, so there might even be a few presents. But the things I enjoy most about the holidays are the little things like being in an overheated house and the glow I feel because the kitchen and living room are filled with people I love.
I decided I could marry Sam while watching a Christmas movie with his family. (Well, by that time I was pretty much madly in love with him, so I probably would have said yes anyway, but for the purpose of the anecdote, my previous statement stands.) Family is so important to me, and while watching a movie with his immediate family after a meal of Chinese food, I decided we could spend many holidays this way. I could see myself participating in his family's celebrations, and I could see him joining in my traditions.
So, for many reasons, this Christmas season is a special one for me. I've been married for half a year, and I'm halfway through my Master's program. But the things I'm most anticipating are eating peppermint cookies, playing overly competitive board games, and maybe even watching a Christmas movie with people I love. May your holidays be filled with joy and love as you spend time with people you hold dear.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thanksgiving and Beyond

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. We put more than 1,000 miles on my car and saw lots of people we love. Also, one of Sam's many "cousins" gave haircuts in the kitchen, so I got a free style. The food was abundant and delicious. Therefore, we are dieting until Christmas when we expect to be fed well again by different sets of relatives. I have yet to purchase any Christmas presents (other than materials for the ones I made) but I think I've decided what pretty much everyone will receive. Once I turn in my term papers this next week I can begin buying and wrapping.

For now, our home is decorated for the holidays, and Sam and I watched Elf last night and sipped cocoa. Today it's hot again, but last night it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I'm learning to celebrate fall and winter without the weather accompanying the holidays that I had grown accustomed to in Arkansas. Here are some pictures since people like those and I've been negligent lately.

We got this ornament on our honeymoon in Cancun.

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Design

Being sick and staying in bed all day is bad.

Having an opportunity for a job dropped in your lap is good.

Seeing your niece and hanging out with a sister-in-law you don't have to pretend to like is priceless.

In other news, I'm working on the brevity of my writing style. I have a job offer, so keep your fingers crossed, and I am feeling much better today, although I did still sleep inordinate amounts of the day away. Tonight is date night to see Harry Potter with the husband! We're treating ourselves to popcorn and everything since it's such a momentous occasion. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving and having a break from research paper-ness. That's about all. Hope you like the new design. It's much more me.

Update: Harry Potter on the IMAX screen was definitely worth it. There were more humorous moments than I expected, but I figure you need those to maintain such a dark plot for 4+ hours. I know the book too well, so any deviation from it caught my eye. Overall, they did a good job capturing the spirit of the book, if not the minute details of it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

'Tis The Season

Well, not really yet, but I am attempting to organize our Christmas budget and gather gift ideas for the various family members we need to buy gifts for. Both sides of my extended family have drawn names, so now that I know who I'm looking for, I've decided to dedicate some time to the effort. I am a staunch believer that Christmas decor should stay hidden until after Thanksgiving, but gift buying can be a year-round pursuit. As my first Christmas as a married woman approaches, the list of people to find thoughtful and budget-conscious gifts for has more than doubled.

I've received wonderful suggestions from some family members, and I've already decided what others will be receiving, but now the challenge is to reciprocate with helpful suggestions as to what I would like to receive. Keeping in mind that my husband and I live in an amply furnished apartment and I just received everything on my wish list for my birthday, picking out requests is a challenge. So, as I surf the Web to find inspiration for gifts to give, I'm hoping to stumble upon some small items I'd like to receive.

Here are a few fun finds:

Book Cover Postcards

Initial Necklace

Ticket Stub Diary

Leatherbound Classic Books

How do you approach Christmas shopping? Is it a joy, a challenge, a last minute sprint? All of the above?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Once again, I've been busy, and until my term papers are turned in the first week of December, that won't change. However, most of my presentations and smaller papers are complete, so I took the weekend off to visit friends in Searcy. It was a wonderful weekend, filled with food (seems to be the emerging theme of this blog) and relaxed visiting. I was reminded how blessed I was to attend Harding and how many awesome friends and experiences I have there.

I stayed with one of my bridesmaids, and since I didn't feel like I got to really visit with anyone at our beautiful, yet monstrously huge wedding, we had LOTS of catching up to do. While watching movies, sipping coffee, and working on a puzzle, I was able to casually see almost everyone I wanted to see. There are notable exceptions, such as Cara and Alexis, but the relaxed atmosphere and the sheer number of people I casually visited with was fantastic.

Obviously I missed my husband. Well, maybe it's not obvious if you don't know our long distance background, but after almost five months of marriage and being together uninterrupted it was difficult to be away for a few days. It made me thankful that our long distance phone-dependent relationship days are behind us.

I suppose the theme of this post and my last weekend was a sense of the overwhelming blessings in my life and an appreciation for the past and how God has brought me to where I am now. Friends, Husband, undergraduate experience (club, roommates, newspaper, Italy, major, etc.) all made me who I am, and thankfully I can look back fondly at the events and still have the people in my life.

Maybe someday I'll post something less reflective and start writing about everyday stuff rather than big events, but the title is "My Musings," so if you're reading you should have taken that as a warning of the sappiness quotient. Especially if you've followed my blog from its inception, which, if you have, thank you for reading. Readers like you are just another of my abounding blessings. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Very Merry Birthday

Happy Fall!

This week was another crazy busy one. Sam had his first orchestra concert of the year, I had my first paper due for the semester, and we dressed up for Trunk or Treat at church. (We went as a hippie and a mime. The hidden connection: Peace and Quiet. We're so clever.) Needless to say, I didn't have time to blog about my wonderful birthday weekend, so I'm playing catch up.

We had friends over for a small party Friday night, and it was so much fun to play games and visit with them. I also got to enjoy getting together food and decor for the party, and I treated myself with mini pumpkins to paint. My husband bought me several gifts, and he was so excited for me to open them that we stayed up until after midnight so that I could open them on my actual birthday.

The next morning we got up and headed to Starbuck's for coffee cake and a cinnamon dolce latte. My mouth is watering thinking about it. I then coerced him into going shopping with me to spend birthday money on the way to visit his parents, sister, brother-in-law, and niece. More presents, delicious homemade pizza, and some more shopping made the visit extra nice, and of course we got in some quality play time with Kate.

Then, we headed back to our side of town for dinner at Carino's. Once again, my mouth is watering. And I played my final "birthday card" to see a chick flick. Thankfully, we both enjoyed Life As We Know It, although the ending is a bit cheesy.

Sprinkle the day with calls from family members and several birthday cards, and you have my idea of happiness. Thanks to my husband's gift of the Pioneer Woman cookbook, which reeks of her fabulous personality, we are having bacon-wrapped meatloaf and homemade mashed potatoes for dinner. (Can you tell from the rest of this post how hungry I am?) Maybe he had an ulterior motive in giving that gift, but I get to indulge my loves of reading and cooking, so I'm willing to believe in the nobility of his intentions.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Funny Story

Once I got old enough to be one of the "big kids" who thought the "little kids" were precious and hilarious, it became a ritual for me to ask my grandmother for cousin stories whenever we talked. These stories were labeled by name, so I would ask for a "Connor story" or a "Rainey story" or whoever was the funniest (read youngest) at the time. Well, Rainey is growing up, so she doesn't make as many comical comments or confuse things, and I guess I can grudgingly admit that's the way it should be. However, my favorite story from our Abilene trip a few weekends ago is a "Rainey story," and because it might be one of the last of its kind, I'm treasuring it.

I wish I could share it with you, but it takes too much background, and my comic timing has yet to be perfected in writing. Maybe I'll tell it the next time I see you. It involves a painted goat and a mistaken twin; all the elements of a great story.

The point of this post is that I value shared history with people, and I love that I share so many memories with the people I love. While in Abilene, Sam and I also got to spend some time laughing with several members of my mom's family and reliving some of our crazy antics. I'm sure he's heard some of those stories a hundred times already, but he's a good sport. And I'm looking forward to writing new stories with him that we'll laugh at while sitting around a living room someday.

I'm also looking forward to experiencing more shared stories with Rainey and all the people I love. They might not be centered on childlike naivete, but I'm sure some of them will be funny. After all, it's been a charming 23 years filled with love and laughs, and I'm still writing my life.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Reasons Why I Haven't Been Updating My Blog

I've become one of those people who doesn't blog regularly, but I have hope that it's just a temporary issue. These are a few reasons why I haven't had time to type and edit.

1. We went to Abilene to see my grandfather honored as Alum of the Year at ACU and Tahoka to visit Sam's Grandma Claudia.
2. Along the way, we got to eat amazing food and catch up with many people who I love and happen to be related to in one way or another.
3. I had a massive pile of books to read, a massive pile of laundry and dishes to wash, and a bibliography project to do when we got home.
4. I bought plane tickets to and from my alma mater! That didn't take much time, but I'm excited about it, so it makes the list.
5. I am currently writing a bibliographic essay, reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, slow cooking orange chicken, and baking Pioneer Woman cinnamon bread.

I'll let you know how those last two turn out. They're new recipes that I've been wanting to try for a couple weeks. Hopefully you can look beyond my excuses for not blogging and view this post as a summary of the past week and my re-entry into the blogosphere. More interesting posts to come. Don't give up on me yet.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Busy Week, Wonderful Husband

This week is especially busy with my classes, and we're going out of town this weekend, so all the chores and homework that I would have done then have to be packed into this week. I'm super excited about seeing family in Abilene, so it's all worth it, but I've been pretty busy. Last night, Sam volunteered to make dinner, and when I got home I could immediately smell lasagna in the oven. As I looked around, I found some other delicious smelling presents as well. Needless to say, I have a wonderful husband, and despite his own busy week, he took the time to make me incredibly happy and remind me how blessed I am. Hope your week is going well and you have people to lean on when you're busy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Few Of My Favorite Things

In honor of The Sound of Music I'm going to list a few of my favorite things. On a side note, if you're ever in Salzburg, Austria I recommend the official movie tour.
And for those family members who read my blog, take note because my birthday and Christmas are fast approaching. Just kidding, but really, Mom, read carefully because I won't be sending you a birthday list this year. :)

Real Simple magazine

I was originally drawn to this publication because a good friend praised the graphic design, but I've also found the articles entertaining and useful. When I had a subscription, this was the one magazine I read cover to cover every month.

ELLE brand clothing at Kohl's

I love the simple details of these clothes, and when Kohl's has a sale, they have really great prices for quality clothing. Needless to say, I own several ELLE shirts, but I wouldn't turn down another one.


There's no link for this one because you can buy a variety of games at a number of stores, and I support them all equally. Sam and I registered for several games when we got married, and we've already had so much fun playing Catch Phrase with friends and The Game of Life together. Pun intended. Many memories are yet to be made, and I love that we can spend time together without any electronic interference or recurring monetary cost.

That's all for now because I should be reading (I also love books, but currently have no time to indulge in reading for fun) and grocery shopping. I could add several other "things" to my list, but the title implies a select few, so maybe later I'll talk about recycling, coffee, and scarves. Hopefully a few of my favorite things might become yours, or maybe the list will just help you think about the little things in life that make you happy. Feel free to comment and share what some of those things might be so that I can share in your happiness.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dessert Weekend

If you don't know who The Pioneer Woman is, stop reading this blog immediately, and go to her blog to be inspired and charmed into adoration.

Many thanks to my sister-in-law for introducing me to the witty writing and recipes of The Pioneer Woman.

Anyway, now that you've perused her cooking blog (and the rest of her blog), you know how she presents her recipes with full step-by-step instructions and color photos. I had good intentions of doing just that before I started this recipe for Mocha Truffle Tartlets, but then I got distracted by actually making them.

I did at least manage to take some pictures of the final product, and I can endorse these as easy to make and a crowd-pleaser. I took them to a surprise birthday party. Happy birthday, Alexis! Sam liked them, too. His ringing endorsement was, "They look like quiche, but they're dessert!" (The exclamation point was not evident in his tone of voice, but I used creative license to spice up his quote.)

I didn't use the full amount of the cream cheese topping, so don't make as much as it tells you to make, or do a better job of evenly dispersing it than I did. Also, these are really rich, so one or two per person is plenty. If I make them again I might half the recipe.

I love baking and making desserts of all kind, so this weekend is super fun for me because I get to make an Italian chocolate cake (from Giada's latest cookbook) for small group Sunday night, too.

I try not to make full sized desserts for just the two of us, so when I have the opportunity to bake for a group, I indulge my culinary creativity. And, maybe when I make the cake I'll try a bit more to emulate The Pioneer Woman and have a post full of pictures. For now, enjoy looking at the tartlets, and consider making them yourself.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Last night I started reading Moby Dick for the first time. That's right. Feel sorry for me and moan a sympathetic "poor you."

Secretly, I'm kind of excited about reading it because it's one of those pieces of literature that unites our culture. It's "in the canon," so no matter how many generations of students complain about it, we still read and discuss it frequently. As a good English major, if you had prompted a discussion about this book a week ago, I could have kept up and thrown in my comments of "Melville," "whale," and "Call me Ishmael," but after this next couple weeks, I'll officially be a member of the club of people who have read (and possibly loathed) Moby Dick.

Confession time, dear reader(s). I assume there's more than one of you based on my stats. What other books can you quote perfunctory facts about but have never actually read? Comment about it. Go!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Christmas Craftiness

Sometimes I get a burst of creativity and want to design something crafty. This is the result of a sale at Hobby Lobby, several weekends, and a love of the holidays.

Don't worry Mom, my new friend will stay hidden until after Thanksgiving, when all educated people decorate for Christmas. :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Word Power

So...I considered posting pictures of an awesome baking feat for my second entry because the Pioneer Woman so inspires me, but that will have to wait because I've been too busy thinking about other things this week to bake anything awesome. I did make some yummy cream cheese brownies last night, but that was stress baking, not a blog-worthy culinary feat.

Instead, I thought I'd ruminate about the power of the word. I've been pondering this for a while now. As a self-avowed lover of language, words have special potency with me. But my respect for the Word goes beyond my appreciation of well-crafted literature. I believe that Jesus is the Word, who became flesh and lived among us, and the metaphors used throughout the Word of God to describe how God exists in paradoxical proportions ring so true. Maybe it's a personal bias because of my obsession with language, but the words justice and mercy, righteousness and love provide such a multifaceted picture of God that gives me faith that He is not created. He is the Creator.

Communication is everything in relationships, and without intending it, I all too often lash out at people with my words. Rather than carefully choosing the right epithet, I become careless or intentionally select a word with a negative connotation. I could write a whole other entry about the mysteries of connotation, but for now, I'll leave you with a challenge to remember the power of your words and choose them wisely.

Maybe my next post will have a picture of something homemade just to redeem my blog from becoming too "preachy."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Welcome to My Mind

Should I be blogging right now? Probably not. I have several other things on my plate, but as an English major who has developed an aversion to writing, this is my foray into the digital world in which everyone feels the need to know everything about each other. Facebook statuses and term papers have failed to fill the need I have to explore my writing voice, and I enjoy reading other peoples' thoughts, so here is my contribution to the blogosphere. Although I do hope someone can enjoy reading my ramblings, this experiment is mainly one to satisfy a personal desire to find my voice. I promise not to divulge too much of myself in this blog. If you seek a deeper relationship with me, you will have to be what might be considered passe and actually spend time with me in person. And, along that vein, I will promise a few more things to any potential readers this project might attract.

1. I promise to edit my writing and minimize typographical errors.

2. I promise to be honest and keep what I consider to be a somewhat entertaining flow of thoughts.

3. I promise not to post every day because I am busy interacting with people through venues other than the world wide web and my cell phone.

On that note, here's a brief list of facts about me:

I am a newly wed graduate student whose ideas of fun are somewhat old-fashioned. I love to cook, play board games, and read. All of those activities are more fun with my husband. Maybe in a later post I'll share some thoughts about my studies, living on a budget, baking experiments, or whatever I feel passionate about. We shall see together, how this experiment in writing develops, my potential reader(s). Hopefully, future posts will have more coherence and follow a less scattered train of thought. No promises about that, though. :)