Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Project Don't Go Grocery Shopping: Day 1

We are about a month out from the end of the semester (somehow 2 cases, 5 projects, 3 finals, a dance performance and myriad other small tasks are supposed to be completed in that time! awwwwesome.). We are both leaving for the summer (hopefully--please someone let me be your intern!) and our fridge, pantry, and freezer are VERY full.

So today we are embarking on a journey in which we only go to the grocery store for daily-needs items like milk, juice, bread, lunch meat and cereal. All other meals will have to be made creatively and/or with us both eating separate Lean Cuisine meals that I bought before I remembered that there are two people in this mini household-within-a-household so making frozen meals for one make no sense.

Yesterday I will consider day 1, and it was a very good success. We had a Chicken, Apple, Cheddar Spinach Salad.

Cooked up a frozen chicken breast on the stove, sliced some apples and cheese (Raw Cheddar from Trader Joe's which is PHENOMENAL) and tossed it all with some spinach and dressing.

Now, about the dressing:

Ladies and gentlemen, we have all been collectively duped by the people at Newman's Own. You should never buy salad dressing! My mom taught me this, and its maybe the most valuable thing I have learned from her (Just kidding, mom! You taught me many many important things!). It is SO EASY TO MAKE. You take some olive oil (just like a teaspoon), put in an equivalent amount of citrus juice (lemon, orange, whatever), add some dijon mustard (trust me), some garlic if you want, and whisk with a fork. Done! Also, it tastes delicious and with only teeny amounts of each ingredient (read: cheap) you have a fully dressed salad. You can adjust the ingredients as desired, depending on your salad ingredients, so long as you always have the olive oil and the citrus. Takes a bit of finagling and tasting and trial and error but ugh, it's so good, I don't know why anyone ever uses anything else.

Tonight: Pancakes and eggs. I doubt it will require as much explanation :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

News, and a long story to go with it

Okay so one day, far in the future, I will post about India.

But for now, I have more pressing news. If you read this blog you undoubtedly know this already, but it's fun to announce so I will do it again:

I'm ENGAGED!

In caps again, so you know I mean it for real. A couple of people have requested the engagement story on the blog, and I am glad for the opportunity to tell the story in writing. When people ask me "how did he do it?" I always tell some abridged version because they probably don't actually care about every detail. But I would like to remember every detail, and I've found that when you tell a story, the way you tell the story becomes how you remember the actual event, and I want to remember the actual event just as it happened, because it was perfect.

So while I was in India, Eric told me he was looking into some cabins in Brown County (which has a lot of getaway cabins and is close to here) to rent for when I got back, to have some fun coupley time since we were apart for three weeks over break. The best weekend we could book was last weekend.

I guess that's not really the beginning of the story. The real story actually begins when Eric was on Jeopardy last year. When I went to see him shoot his episodes, I wasn't able to see him that much, because he was kind of busy winning the money that would one day buy me a ring. (Thanks Jeopardy, by the way!) And there was something about being so close yet so far away from him that tugged at my heartstrings or something, like I missed him but I could see him at the same time. I dunno. That, plus the fact that I was there to watch him tape his episodes as his girlfriend, and I had to introduce myself to people that way over and over again during the weekend. But the word "girlfriend." It seemed so insufficient. I was his girlfriend in March 2006 too, but we were so much more than that now. I wanted the world to know that we were more than that. On the way home on the plane (I flew alone), I had a lot of time to think, so I thought about this epiphany that I wanted a promotion from girlfriend. I realized that I had just seen him win a lot of money and be on TV and I wanted to make sure that it wasn't coloring my decision too much. So I really tried to think about all the fights we'd had, all the things that bug me, all the worst of it. And from that negative place, I still thought, yep I want to marry that man. I went home and we talked about it and he didn't want to get engaged til he had a job, some degree of settled-ness. So that was that for a little while.

Then in August we went to look at rings. I found some that I liked, one in particular. I still knew we weren't getting engaged for awhile because we wanted to wait until I graduated next May to get married and I didn't want too long of an engagement. Then January/Februaryish of this year rolls around and I had started to get a little anxious. Mostly because Eric seemed totally nonchalant. I couldn't detect any shadiness or secret-keeping-ness, so I naturally assumed that he had no plans to propose whatsoever, and sometimes I thought maybe he forgot he was supposed to entirely. I started thinking I was a ninny waiting around like this for a man to propose when we both know we want to marry each other and shouldn't I just propose. But I always knew deep down that he did have a plan and I didn't want to ruin it.

Then the week before we were going to go to the cabin, Eric told me he had some surprises for me as part of the cabin weekend. At this point the wheels in my head went pretty off the rails. Any repressed thoughts about wedding colors, how to tell my parents we were engaged, who would be in the wedding party, were totally unleashed. I tried to keep it under control, but it was pretty much a lost cause.

The cabin was gorgeous and super fun. There was a hot tub and a sauna and pool and foosball and darts and just all kinds of things. Then Eric told me he made a CD--it had a bunch of "us" music on it. Wheels spin more. Then I get a present. It's Good Night and Good Luck. This was the very first thing we did by ourselves as friends--we went to see a screening at school together when we just barely knew each other. Wheels. I saw a disproportionate amount of cheese in the grocery bags we brought for the weekend. He told me he had found a recipe for Queso Fundido--the best dish ever at one of our favorite restaurants (Noche in Atlanta. Seriously, order the queso.) Even if you hadn't read at the top of this post that I am engaged, you could tell where this is going, right? The next surprise was gingerbread and pumpkin pancake mix from Kerbey Lane, a certain breakfast place we just happen to love in Austin Texas. But THEN.

He told me that was the last surprise. And he seemed to really mean it. And then cursed myself for letting the wheels spin and the whole thing and was generally sad for a while, but I soldiered on in a mindset to enjoy the weekend, because it was really a great weekend regardless. This all happened on Friday. It was an emotional day.

On Saturday, we decided to take a hike out to Lake Monroe. As I went to look in his suitcase to see if there was any sort of shirt he had I could wear (I packed atrociously for this trip--two of the shirts I thought I brought I in fact did not), he told me not to go through his stuff. He never says anything like that. Wheeeeeels! The hike was a bit of an adventure, since we started off going against the flow of the river in an attempt to find the lake until Eric decided to clue me in that this probably would not lead us to our intended destination. And then we had to go off the trail, and on the road, but we made it. It was frozen over and snowy. Neither of us expected this because it hadn't been THAT cold recently, and we are warm climate people who know nothing about how lakes freeze or don't. But it was beautiful. I think pure, untouched snow, is so beautiful and there were miles of it. We stood there for awhile and enjoyed the view, and then we went to sit down and rest on this root that formed a bench of sorts, and I saw a red little box in his jacket pocket.

I don't remember too much of what happened after that, except that I was nervous and nervous for him, and then we were standing at the lake again, and he was hugging me from behind, and then he goes "Okay, you know what, Natalie...." He said somethiing cute neither of us remember. I turned around and he was on his knee (and it was muddy and he was in nice pants, so you know he loves me for real) and he asked me to marry him. I said yes about a thousand times and jumped up and down a lot. The ring was the one I liked in particular, and I still can't stop staring at it.

We made dinner for ourselves later that day, called our families, and had a truly fantastic day.

And that. Is the whole story.