30 June 2009

F you, clothes!

I'm pretty tidy. I'm not the cleanest person on the planet, but I'm nowhere close to the dirtiest. I'd say that I'm in the 78th percentile of tidiness. If I didn't have a big furry dog who insisted on building new dogs with the fur he sheds, I'd be in the 85th percentile of tidiness.

I actually like cleaning, for the most part. I'll wipe baseboards, my ceiling fans are usually pretty clean, I dust, we sweep almost daily, etc. There are a couple of household chores, though, that I absolutely loathe. One is mopping the floors. The other is putting away the clothes.

I don't even mind doing the laundry, but for some reason I can never seem to muster up the drive to put clothes away. They just sit there on the loveseat in our bedroom (formerly the couch of bad dreams, the one I put in our room thinking to myself, "Oh, wouldn't it be nice to have a sitting area in my bedroom. . .I'll just relax and read." Yeah, right.) mocking me. They laugh at me. I hear them heckling and cackling like the characters on Lost hear voices in the jungle.

They've been like this for, oh, three weeks or so. When people have come over I've closed the door to our bedroom to avoid having them see my embarrassing clothes-splosion.

This guy isn't a fan of the task, either. Here he's saying, "Hey, mama. Can't we go to the park or the bank instead of putting clothes away? I'm bored."

Another reason that the clothes never get put away is that there always seems to be more laundry to do. If I let it go just two days, then there is at least another load. And, shucks, I shouldn't put the clothes away if I'm just going to be adding to them.


Last night I told Matt that if I didn't put the clothes away, I wasn't allowed the eat cookies. So today, even though I have an echo in my ear and have other things to do (like perfect my outdoor eating area, the Carport Bistro), I DID IT! I PUT THE CLOTHES AWAY!

It's pathetic how proud I am of myself at this moment. I should lay down and read. Yeah, right. Lay down and eat cookies, maybe.
Tomorrow I will mop that dirty, dirty kitchen floor.

Mexican Mondays!

Matt and I have added a new tradition to our Monday Fundays at the beach--margaritas. Margarita Mondays with Matt and Mandy. . . Mmmmmmmmm.

Yesterday we wanted a dinner that would complement our beverages, so I searched ole Martha's website for a fajita recipe. We ended up using a modified version of this fajita recipe, and it was both fun to make and fun to eat.

First, we needed lime juice. If you regularly juice limes, I highly recommend one of these little juicers. I'm not usually a fan of kitchen gadgets that have only one purpose, but this one is great, saves your hands, and doesn't take up that much space. It's definitely worth the $5-10 you'll spend on it. (And get a metal one instead of a plastic one--way better.)

What makes this particular recipe special is what Martha calls the "mojo de ajo". Apparently that's Spanish for "garlic sauce." The sauce was delicious and I want to try it over pasta next time.
You'll need some olive oil and fresh minced garlic. Let them simmer together. Mmmmm, smells so good. . .
After about 8 minutes of simmering, add red pepper, lime juice, and salt. Remove from heat. I want to drink that with a straw.

Here's where our modification came in. We wanted to grill the chicken and onions, but the recipe instructed to cook it all together in one pan. I used half of the mojo de ajo to marinate the chicken, and saved the other half for eatin' time.
I let the chicken marinate for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I cooked up the fatty parts for a dog named Mitch. There are starving dogs in Africa, you know.

Matt "The Master of the Grill" whipped up his famous grilled onions. (Toss them in olive oil, kosher salt, and cracked pepper--then grill with fancy grill wok.)

And then, when the time had come, he started to grill our chicken.

Last, heat up some fajita skillets, toss chicken and onions in remaining mojo de ajo, and go to town.

We served ours with sour cream, guacamole, cheddar cheese, and warm tortillas. Oh, and frozen margaritas. Maybe you didn't know this, but frozen margaritas are a remedy for sunburn.

28 June 2009

Farewell, Friends!

Above: New Year's 2008

Our good friends Cassie and Hugh moved away yesterday, and I'm even more sad about it than I thought I would be. Even though they're only moving 2.5 hours away, and Cassie will be in town once a week for work, I am really bummed.

For the last two+ years, Cassie and Hugh have been our closest friends in Savannah. They lived only five streets away, and we spent almost every Friday night (and many a Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday night as well) hanging out with them, talking, eating, and boozin'.

I think that what's making me so sad is the knowledge that they're no longer right here, that I won't be able to pick up the phone and have instant company at Mexican or at Blowin' Smoke, and that the spontaneity of our friendship is gone. (Or so they think: I'll be showing up at their new house randomly for wine and chili cheese dogs.)

One thing that I love about Cassie and Hugh is that they are really in love. They have mutual adoration for each other, but not in an annoying way. Whether it is a glance, or just the way they talk about each other, or a handwritten note on the refrigerator, it is always clear that they love each other and that they feel like they're better when they're with each other.

I first met Hugh at school, on my very first day of teaching. Hugh and I slowly became friends, and after a few months I knew that he was super cool--even friend-quality cool. Hugh (along with many others) helped to guide me through the hell that was my first year of teaching.

Hugh is one of the smartest people I know. He is currently leaving a career of being a kickass English teacher to go to medical school. He's seems to be good at everything, from painting a room to giving advice to running. (Occasionally Mitch and I would see Hugh at the park when we were on a walk/jog. While we got around the perimeter of the park just once, Hugh would lap us approximately 12 times.)

During those months when I only knew Hugh, he would often mention Cassie. I learned several things about her: she likes Bert's Bees, she wouldn't let him pick out his clothes for the first day of school by himself, she is an amazing cook, she wanted a dog. Even though he always spoke positively about her, I had no idea how cool she'd turn out to be.

The first time I met Cassie was at the Shipley's Superbowl party. What I didn't know was that Cassie was more nervous than she had let on and had consumed an entire bottle of wine in about 40 minutes. I didn't know she was drunk. So when she made a comment about something called a "hanging uterus," I didn't know that it was out of character. It was at that "hanging uterus" (an odd remedy for gastrointestinal issues) moment that I decided that Cassie was cool. Months later when I brought it up, she was horrified to learned that she had shared such embarrassing information.

Cassie is a great friend. She's loyal, she's funny, she's just the right amount of bitchy. She's thoughtful, she gives great advice, and she's the best cook I know in real life.

She's also threatened to steal my son and rename him Smitch.

Many of my Savannah friends have moved on in the six years that Matt and I have lived here. This time is especially painful because I'm losing not one but two friends. Cassie and Hugh will be sorely missed, and our Savannah family will not be the same without them. Sad face.

27 June 2009

My Muffin Tops

My blueberry muffin baking endeavor started off fine this morning. I had my fresh blueberries. . .

And I started to reduce them to make some jam. . . (This is a Cook's Illustrated recipe, so it's involved.)

And then I don't know what happened. Maybe it was because I shouldn't bake when I'm tired, or maybe I shouldn't bake when I'm sad. Maybe it was the tiny bit of water on the fresh blueberries I added, or maybe I need to replace my baking powder. One thing is for sure: I took the instruction "batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly" to the extreme.

This is what I got.

Siamese-twin looking blueberry muffins.

At least they're delicious.

Turn that frown upside down!

Since Hugh and Cassie are leaving today, I will watch this 100 times to keep from crying.

26 June 2009

Fancy Grilling Recipes

Cassie and Hugh are fancy, so for their send-off, we had a fancy grilling theme. The food was incredible. Here are a few of the things we made, and the links to the recipes. I was too busy shoving my food into my face to take pictures, so these are stolen from their respective websites.

First: Manchego Cheese and Garlic Dogs. These were my personal favorites. Those are roasted red peppers. Mmmm. I'm hungry now.

We had one of our all-time favorites: the chili cheese dog.

And because man cannot live on hot dogs alone, Romaine, Avocado, and Corn Salad.

Now I am going to go elipt for approximately 12 hours.


I like to have a dance-off to a Michael Jackson song as much as the next girl. But, lest we forget, the guy was a freak and a child molester. My favorite MJ joke:

Q: Why does Michael Jackson like twenty eight year olds?
A: Because there are twenty of them.

24 June 2009

Ask M Cubed

Dear Mandy,

I was reading a blog, and the author decided to write an intimate note to his/her spouse ON THE BLOG!! I was quite nauseated. I do not believe it is the appropriate place to be writing your spouse a note, especially when it is a shared blog. Buy a Hallmark card. I was just wondering what your thoughts/feelings were on this. I believe they should be stripped of their blogging privileges.

Nauseated in Nashville

Dear Nauseated:

I'm a little torn here. On one hand, the blog entry you're referring to (and we all know people who are guilty of this) did make me want to throw up in my mouth and then spit it all over the author. On the other hand, I did elect to read the blog; nobody forced me.

I'm as sentimental as the next girl, yet in the time before I was in a relationship and the time since, I've often been annoyed by people who feel the need to broadcast their loving feelings toward their spouse. To me, it's comparable to couples who make out in public. I've never been a fan of PDA, and this just seems to be blogging PDA. It's also irritating because, in my experience, those couples who are determined to convince us that they're happy are often the ones with the most issues.

It also seems that pointing out a specific trait that you love in your spouse (i.e., "My husband's really thoughtful. He did ____________ for me today") is much less annoying than some cliche line like "________, I love you more today than I ever have." And if the gushing comes from someone who is a master of the English language (Shakespeare, Pioneer Woman, etc.) it's much less offensive. The blog you sent me also contained the line "Your an amazing father." I may be even more offended by the author's inablity to use the correct forms of "your and you're" than I am by the verbal makeout session.

There's a time and a place to subject others to the super mushy stuff. Weddings. That's it. Anything more than that is poor form.

Final verdict: yes, they're annoying. People should learn how to use the English language. However, if we really don't want to see it, we don't have to visit the blogs. (Even though they're like train wrecks, and they do provide a self-esteem boost.)

Hope this helps!

A Brilliant Piece of Meat Cookery

About a year ago our friends Brian and Ann gave us a life-changing gift, ribeyes from Fresh Market.

The first time we ate these steaks--and every time after--we were in awe. If God was going to eat a steak, these are the ones he'd choose. This has become the meal we cook for every special occasion. And since yesterday was our anniversary, it was Fresh Market steak time!

Per the recommendation from friends, we've also learned a great steak-cooking method. We've stolen this from our friends, who stole it from The Week, who stole it from Men's Journal. You might want to steal it from us.

First: buy some good steaks. That crap from Kroger isn't going to cut it. These are 14-oz. ribeyes from Fresh Market.

PREPARE IT. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Salt and pepper the meat all over, preferably with kosher salt and cracked pepper.

Heat a cast iron skillet on a burner and "let it get scary hot." Pour a thin layer of olive oil on the skillet.
SEAR IT. Wait until the oil's "so hot it's shimmering and sort of waving a little, maybe even giving off a first wisp of smoke." At this point, lay down steak and sear for a minute or two.

Flip over and let it brown on the other side.

ROAST IT. Pick up entire skillet and put into the oven for 6-10 minutes, depending on the degree of doneness you want. While the steak is cooking, we like to cook up some garlic and onions on the grill. Mmmmmm.

Remove your steak from the oven, and check the temperature with an instant read meat thermometer. Be sure to remove the steak from the skillet since the skillet will continue to cook the meat. Here's a link to a steak doneness chart from Food Network. You may want to cook your steak more or less than we did. We do ours medium rare.

LET IT REST. Remove the steak from the skillet and let is sit for at least five minutes, "so the muscle relaxes and the juices can spread around again."

Enjoy your meal!

Now I'm salivating, and I may need to go back to Fresh Market while I'm running errands today.

23 June 2009

Two Whole Years!

Today is our second wedding anniversary. We'll probably have a low-key, sleeping in, talking, Fresh Market steak-eating, wine drinking day. It's going to be awesome. Oh, and we'll be buying Punch Out for the Wii. I will win.

I don't really feel like subjecting you to all of the reasons I love Matt and why we're so happy and blah blah. Instead, I'd like to reflect on our kick-ass wedding. I planned it for a year and a half (For those of you who are doing the math--yes, I was planning the wedding before Matt had officially proposed. I'm sure that seems obnoxious, but I had lots of planning to do, he's a procrastinator, and we had already had long discussions about when we would get married.)

Some highlights:

My mom did all of the flowers. I'm now completely obsessed with hydrangeas, and will be going out later tonight to cut blooms off of my neighbor's impressive bushes. Below is my bouquet. It also had a gardenia in it. Mmmmmmmm, gardenia. . .
We had both the ceremony and the reception at my grandma's house. It's like a fairy country wonderland.

Nobody tied up Mitch. He walked down the aisle in front of my dad and me, and during the ceremony was finding sticks and people to play fetch with him. It was awesome.
I also wanted to apologize to my bridesmaids for making them wear yellow. I'm not sure if this is better or worse, but if I could do it all again, I'd have them in hot pink.
My old roommate from college, Becky, got ordained online so that she could perform the ceremony. She now insists that we refer to her as Reverend.

See, we love each other.

My dad did all of the food, which was especially impressive because we had 180 people, and the food was delicious.

My dad also rented a cotton candy machine. Badass.

Our wedding served as a bit of a JMU reunion. We shared a special moment when the DJ played "Country Roads," and we all pretended we were back in college.

Chloe caught the bouquet.

And what's a wedding if it doesn't end with a heated game of flip cup?

And as great as the wedding was, being married is even better.

22 June 2009

Matt, Mandy, and Miley go to Tybee.

Today was the first official Matt and Mandy Monday Funday of the summer. We--along with what seemed like half of Savannah--headed out to Tybee for the afternoon. What we did not realize was that Miley Cyrus would be filming her latest movie about 100 yards from us. (Matt claimed not to know, but I've seen all of the Hannah Montana recordings on our DVR, so I think I know what's up.) There were hordes of people trying to catch a glimpse of Miley. We, however, preferred to focus on these babies. I kept catching them with my toes.

Then the boys played bocce ball. Matt says I should add that he won.

And drank lots of beer.

We sat under our new umbrella and read.

Although we didn't really care about the Miley excitement, it was pretty cool to listen to the director shouting throughout the afternoon: "Background! Action!"
Below: if you look really, really closely, you'll see Miley. Not really, but that is where they were filming the movie.

Right now I've had my post-beach shower, I changed the sheets on the bed (no more dog dirt!), and I'm gearing up for another day of fun. We're celebrating our second wedding anniversary tomorrow!


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