Something new for this midwesterner

During my morning weather check, I discovered that I am currently as close to a hurricane as I think I’ve ever been.

What, East Coast, you’re not impressed by my proximity?

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7 Quick Takes: The Planned Ahead Edition

— 1 —

By the time Friday rolls around, I’m usually struck by two dilemmas: first, that I can’t think of any material for this post, and second, that lots of things happened and I just can’t remember them.  They go hand-in-hand more closely than a couple of love-struck highschoolers, so I’m trying something new and starting this post on Monday.  Hopefully the results will be worthwhile.

— 2 —

It’s entirely possible that at some point in the next seven months my roommates will come home and find me sitting around the house wearing my wedding veil.  I just love it so much.  It’s silky and lacy and I should seriously make them to sell because the materials cost under $20.

— 3 —

Mr. Wonderful and I did our diocesan-sponsored marriage prep on Saturday.  Overall, it was not too bad; we could’ve tested out of it if that was an option, but it was far from heretical and we even took some real notes!

Of course, we took far more non-real notes.  A few of my favorites:

In response to the Theology of the Body presenter’s statement that “Christ came as a lover”:

Okay, I don’t remember what occasioned this one:

His brilliant idea for a telenovela based one of the “how (not) to communicate” videos:

Lo! God’s will has never been clearer:

Not counting my eyerolls at the presentations, but at his commentary:

— 4 —

Our engagement pictures are this evening. Not that I’m obsessive or anything, but I may have tried on all of the above lipsticks the other evening and somehow still failed to decide on one.  In fact, I only really ruled one out. I guess I’ll just bring them all to work with me and see what kind of mood I’m in by 5:00.

— 5 —

Here are the results of last week’s hair dye adventure.  Okay, so it wasn’t so much an “adventure” as it was “paying a licensed professional to do something relatively tame.”  Personally, I think it looks just super.  Before picture?  Sorry, you’ll just have to use your imagination and take my word that we both used to have pretty much the same hair color.  Here’s hoping that this makes us look a little less…cousin-y in our engagement pictures.

— 6 —

I’ve spent the last day or two combing through job postings for soon-to-be lawyers, and I’m beginning to think that the problem may not be so much a lack of jobs as a lack of jobs that anyone wants to do.  We’re not exactly picky (heck, Mr. Wonderful is applying for a job in Ketchikan, Alaska), but I found lots of positions that would probably send him running in five minutes or less: Animal Legal Defense, Reproductive Freedom Lobbyist, any of the seemingly thousands of positions the ACLU has to offer, Department of Health and Human Services, etc.  As far as that last one goes, I guess it would be awkward for your boss to be sued by your bishop.  Yeah, I’m glad we can afford to be a little discriminating.

— 7 —

Finally, check out these amazing World War II photos.  A Dutch historian found a bunch of negatives at a garage sale, digitized them, and then superimposed them over current photos of the same location.  There are so many layers of labor and research that must have gone into that, it boggles my mind.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes: No Pictures

All of my pictures are on my other computer, which I lent to someone, so this will be a very non-visual post.

— 1 —

I have a very important announcement to make: I am the newest member of the campus division of University Faculty for Life.  Okay, it’s not really that exciting; I filled out a little form on their website and paid my dues (only $10 because I’m not actually faculty!).  Anyway, I feel like I accomplished something this morning.

— 2 —

Day 2 of the Year of Faith, and I’m not behind on my Catechism-of-the-day emails.  Yes, that’s right – I’m bragging about the fact that I’ve managed to read two emails in the last two days.  Can you tell I’m celebrating the small victories this week?

— 3 —

Is there a name for the rule of the universe that no matter how far apart you space book requests from the library, everything will come in at once?  I went yesterday to pick up two cookbooks, and found 5 waiting for me (I hadn’t even been notified yet that they had come in).  Amazon doesn’t seem to be working right now, so I can’t link to what I got, but there’s the one above, another Cook’s Illustrated book, and a few Italian cookbooks.  I had put Baking Illustrated on my registry, but I haven’t decided yet if I’ll leave it there or go for something with a broader range.  I skimmed over it yesterday and it struck me more as something that you should just sit down and read, rather than actually use.  Maybe that’s just a sign that it’s a sturdy and indispensable reference work, I don’t know.  I’m going to read it with more depth and make up my mind.

— 4 —

Speaking of reading, I’m still slogging through The Battleground.  Fifty pages in and we haven’t gotten to a single name or date yet.  I realize that the world has come a long way since 1936, but so far all I’ve learned is that

  • It’s impossible to know how old fossils are.
  • It’s impossible to know why air gets colder as you go up in altitude.
  • There’s no way to define a desert.

I’m still working on it, but I have to admit that this is not accomplishing what I had hoped.  I’ve read one Belloc book before (Joan of Arc, in high school) and didn’t like that one either, though I attributed that to the fact that it was very French-heavy, and well, I didn’t know French.  If this one is also a bust, I may be forced to admit that his style just doesn’t work for me.

— 5 —

I’ll be spending much of tomorrow in the car, alternately driving and working on my current knitting project, which is mindless enough that I hope to make a lot of progress.  I’m motivated – it’s getting cold quickly!

— 6 —

I’m dying my hair on Monday, which is the boldest thing I’ve done in a while.  Since I’m growing it out for the wedding, I’ve been getting a little restless, and this seems like a good solution.  There’s a whole blog dedicated to pictures of red hair – who knew? – so after much browsing and a little bookmarking, I settled on the picture above for inspiration.  We’ll see how it ends up looking on me.

— 7 —

Hey – I did find a picture to add! This is from the last engagement session I did.

Another thing I’ve never done (obviously!) is have engagement pictures taken, but that’s looming too.  I’m much more accustomed to taking pictures than being in them, so it’s an interesting exercise to be on the other side.  In the past, when people have asked me what they should wear, I’ve given pretty vague advice.  Well, the tables have turned and I have no idea what to wear.  Our photographers have a portfolio of very hip, Pinterest-worthy photos, and I’m feeling the pressure to cuteify myself.  I took a little tour through Mr. Wonderful’s closet yesterday to see what I have to work with, and came up with…blue.  And grey.  Our conversation about it went something like this:

Me: I don’t have anything cute enough to wear… and maybe you should get a new tie.

Him: Well, should I just wear a suit?

Me: No, I don’t want our pictures to scream “Young Republicans.”

Him: Holly, we are the Young Republicans.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Canning 2012: Pear-apple butter

I’ll start by saying something that I mean as high praise: this wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. All the apple butter recipes I found came with a grave warning that it’s very very time-consuming, and so I was a little wary to try it.  With a few tricks, though, the whole process was actually quite efficient.  I followed this recipe pretty much exactly, using a little honey for sweetener.  I used mostly pears, which didn’t have to be peeled, so I was able to save a lot of time there.  An immersion blender made quick work of pureeing the sauce, and then I just left it in the crock pot on low for 12 hours or so while I was at work.

Don’t ask how I know this, but be aware that a small 4-oz jar is the perfect diameter to slip down the garbage disposal while you’re washing it.  Luckily, there’s just enough room to pull it out with pliers.  20 minutes of processing and 12 little lid poplater, and voila!  Complete canning success.

Tomato Goodness (if you’re into that kind of thing)

I’ve never been a big fan of raw or plain tomatoes, although I’ve been making a real effort to eat them more often (it helps to have a fiance who eats tomato based meals at least 4 times a week).  Then I saw a recipe on Smitten Kitchen that extolled the virtues of slow-roasted tomatoes, and I decided to try it because it seemed like the kind of thing grown-ups eat.  Finding these beautiful little ones at the Farmer’s Market didn’t hurt, either.

I went through 4 different knives before I figured out that a serrated blade was the only way to go, but then it was as simple as cutting them all in half and drizzling them with olive oil.

Three hours later, my three pounds of tomatoes had turned into this:

I was excited to try one, but realized immediately that it did not taste like “someone snuck into your oven and doused them in both vinegar and salt” (I love Smitten Kitchen, but this is just wrong).  No, it pretty much just tasted like the tomato flavor had been greatly concentrated, which is not a selling point for me.  They’re currently in the freezer, waiting to be used in a recipe rather than as some kind of stand-alone delicacy.

Amazing what can happen on a bye weekend

Oh, the things I accomplished this weekend!  I wrote out a pretty lengthy to-do list on Friday afternoon, and yesterday evening, I crossed off the last item.  I also forgot to transfer pictures of my projects over to my computer, so those will have to wait.  For now, though, I would like to brag that I:

  • Sanded and re-stained an end table (note to Mom: my problems with the sander were user error; apparently it works better if you don’t push down so hard).
  • Went to the Farmers’ Market, where I got a really lovely bouquet of flowers and 3 pounds of cherry, grape, and pear tomatoes.
  • Roasted the above-mentioned tomatoes for three hours, until they had reduced to about 10 oz. and tasted much more tomato-y.  Unfortunately, this is not a selling point for me.
  • Cleaned much of the house very thoroughly (including washing the kitchen floor!).
  • Started a new knitting project about which I’m very excited.
  • Cooked 4 pounds of pears down into sauce, which is in my crock pot right now, (hopefully) reducing into pear butter, which I will then can in the jars that I got on sale and with a coupon.

Pretty much all of these items deserve a post of their own, so I’ll be back to do that when I’ve got photo evidence!