Thursday, February 25, 2010

Puzzle Pieces.

Question: Do you believe in "the one"?
I think people are like puzzle pieces. There's a lot of people out there that fit with you, even if your patterns don't match. There are a lot of patterns out there that are like you, but the pieces don't fit (ever seen people who you think are MADE for each other, but don't work out?). Sometimes there are pieces that don't fit, but you gently wedge them in until they do. And then there's one person who matches your piece and your pattern.

I could make a marriage last with a lot of people - maybe not the one, but there are a lot of people that I could marry. People who have the same ideals, who have the same personalities, interests, etc. We COULD make it work. It might end up being the perfect marriage, but there might always be that little gap when the pieces don't fit perfectly together.

I don't know if Sean is the one. I don't know if he's my perfect puzzle piece match. But he matches my pattern, and we fit - whether it's fate or if we just wedged and warped each other, we'll never know. And frankly, I don't want to know. I like it the way it is smile

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Two Hundred Sit-Ups

When I was in eighth grade, we were encouraged to not only give something up for Lent, but make a commitment to do something to better yourself in those 40 days. Ever since then, I've always given something up, and made the effort to do something - whether it was donating clothes, cleaning my room, or eating healthier. This year, I've made the commitment to myself to complete the Two Hundred Sit-Ups program.

The program lasts for 6 weeks (perfect for Lent), and works on building your stamina for sit-ups. Because I started karate with TCKA when I was 13, I don't remember a time when I couldn't do sit-ups. I know exactly how my muscles (even when they're practically non-existent) work in my abs, and it's a very satisfying feeling when all of them are contracting for maximum effort. It's a 3 day a week program, and so far no workout has taken me more than 10 minutes, so it's pretty simple for me to do in the evenings. I started a week early, so tonight marked the first day of week 3 for me.

Tonight also marked what I was dreading - the point where sit-ups get hard. Back at TCKA, Sensei was a fan of 100s, which included doing 100 sit-ups - straight. Tonight, I did a total 111. They were broken into 5 sets (no way could I have done them straight - I was having problems with the 30 set), but man. I started on the middle section because of my history, and for a while I could have easily done the third section, but I knew this day was coming. Tomorrow, I'm going to hurt.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Easy King Cake

Today is Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. While secularly celebrated, the origins of the holiday are Christian, so here's a little background:

In the Catholic church, Mardi Gras marks the end of ordinary time, as Lent begins tomorrow. The origin of Fat Tuesday comes from baking goods in order to use up all of the fat and sugar in the household in preparation for Lent, because in older days, these foods weren't consumed throughout the Lenten season. Nowadays, Mardi Gras has become synonomous with Carnival, and is celebrated with masks, beads, and parties, in addition to sweets, fats, and alcohol.

One tradition that comes with Mardi Gras is the King Cake. Originally eaten between January 6th (Epiphany, when the kings came to visit Jesus) and Mardi Gras, this cake is deliciously sweet. It's made from different ingredients in each country that celebrates Mardi Gras, and generally no two King Cakes ever taste the same. They're baked with a baby figurine inside (though it was originally a bean, pecan, or coin), and whoever gets the piece with the baby inside is said to have good luck for the next year (and the "privilege" of providing the King Cake for next year's celebration). The cakes are topped with purple, green, and yellow icing - purple to signify suffering, green for hope, and yellow (or gold) for the rewards of leading a Christian life. However, there's many different traditions and fables surrounding King Cakes, because everyone has different beliefs and celebrations. Whatever your beliefs are, these cakes are delicious!

A traditional King Cake can take 10-20 hours to make from start to finish. Because I don't have a stand mixer, or that much time, I decided I would make a "Cheater King Cake"
(original recipe here)

2 rolls of cinnamon rolls
1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz of cream cheese (softened)
2 tsp of flour
2 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp of milk
Green, Yellow, and Purple food coloring
1 baby doll (totally optional, I didn't use one)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1. Unpackage the cinnamon rolls, setting aside the icing for later. Knead the cinnamon rolls into one big ball of dough, and then flatten. Shape into a rectangle about 5" wide, as however long you can get it - I managed to stretch mine to about 24".

2. Blend powdered sugar, cream cheese, flour, vanilla, and milk until creamy. Spread onto cinnamon roll dough about 4" wide (so 1" will have no spread).

3. Roll the dough up into a tube from the side with spread, you should be able to use the last inch without spread as a seal to keep the tube closed. Form into a circle, joining the two edges - I used tooth picks as an extra precaution to keep mine together.

4. Place dough ring onto a cookie sheet, bake for 25-30 minutes.

5. Divide icing among three bowls, and color each one purple, green, or yellow. Drizzle onto finished cake.

Pretty easy right? I didn't include a baby, simply because I couldn't find one. The cake is delicious though! Make sure you let it cool before you eat it though, or it turns into a gooey mess...

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Hunt is On - Finding Sean's Ring

I've blogged so much about my ring (I can't help it - I love it!). While my ring has been set in stone (no pun intended) since October, we haven't actually given Sean's ring much thought. I'm thrilled to start looking though. I mean, my ring is shiny and showy, but I feel like the bride's ring is always talked about too much.
Because it's generally the prettier of the two rings, everyone always asks to see the girl's ring - I look to the guy's. Is it plain? Does it have diamonds? Is it two-toned? Guys don't generally wear jewelry, and I find it fascinating to see what they choose to signify their love and (ideally) life-long commitment. Obviously, they go into the ring-choosing process assuming they'll be wearing this ring for the rest of their life. In contrast, the average girl has no idea what her ring will look like until her boyfriend proposes with it (a tradition which I hate by the way - I knew the general idea of my surprise ring even). Generally, she assumes that she has no choice but to fall in love with it - not because of the design, but by the meaning behind it. Girls can be sentimental with the ugliest of things sometimes (a face only a mother could love?). While some will choose to change their ring, most simply diligently wear the ring that was given to them, despite whatever their gut feelings may be. Guys have more of a choice in the matter. Often times they simply go for feel, with a plain gold band. However, it's become more common for guys to have something a bit different.

Sean wants something different. Or should I say difficult? Just kidding. He should have a ring that he loves, just as much as I love mine. He wants a white gold band (or rather, just not yellow gold). He doesn't want a plain band - he's very adamant on wanting a design. He also doesn't want any bling - which of course is the style right now.

This weekend we set out to look at rings. We only had the chance to visit Shane Co, which is where Sean bought my first ring. It's also where his brother got his ring, so Sean really thinks highly of them. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of looking the day before V-day, so the place was packed. Not the best idea. Being the picky bugger that he is, he only actually tried on two rings. I keep trying to tell him that he needs to try on more, and that he might love a ring he didn't think he would like otherwise, but he's very stubborn. I think he's actually worried that this might happen. Oi.

Here are the two rings he tried on:
 (both from the Shane Co website)
The first ring he felt was too thin. It was 6mm, whereas most standard men's rings are 8mm. He did like the design though - the center has a pounded metal look. This one costs $650, and is made of white gold.

The second one is made of tungsten. He liked the width, at 8mm, but both of us thought it was too "tribal" for Sean's tastes. He does however, like the method of etching (it was actually different levels of brushed metal). He also thought it was too dark - he wants a lighter toned ring. This one costs $327. 

In my opinion, I think a simpler ring would suit him better. However, it's his ring. I've voiced my concerns, and I think he knows that I just don't want him to buy something he doesn't love. We'll definitely be looking around though.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We have a Table!

That's right folks. We have a table. Not just any table either - we have a solid oak, heavy as all hell, gonna last for years kind of table.

I'm very excited about it. I grew up in a family where food = love = family. Dinner time was highly stressed, and we never ate until everyone was there (unless you knew theyweren't coming). This tradition continues for us today. For example, every Friday, my family eats dinner together. On Friday nights, this family includes my adopted grandma, my grandpa, my step-grandma, my dad's 3 sisters, their husbands, their kids, and our family (including Sean). That's a total of 23 people, all gathered together, all eating together (though admittedly, we're spread across three tables now). Needless to say, my childhood memories nearly all surround kitchen tables - not only my parents', but my grandparents' tables as well. Now that my family is older, I generally only get back to Friday night dinners once or twice a month, but I still enjoy them immensely. It makes me realize how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful, close-knit family.

Between the two of us, Sean and I have almost everything we could ever need. However, until last month, one thing we didn't have was a table. We had no intentions of buying a table until after we moved. We didn't want to have to deal with the hassle of moving it, because we knew that we wanted a nice table. And trust me, Gram (Sean's grandma) wanted to buy us one desperately. Then...we stumbled on a table. Not just any table...a free table. Our best man's parents had bought it for their daughter, who ended up not taking it. Needless to say, they were looking to get rid of it (and a china cabinet, which we also took). While it's not exactly our style, it was free, and who were we to argue? We needed a table, and they were giving one away. Match made in heaven ;)


What do I love about this table? First of all - it's HUGE. It easily seats six, though with smaller chairs, it would sit eight. Plus, there are two more leaves - each adding 8-12 inches. Second, it's heavy. It's a great quality table and will easily last us many, many years. comes with a bench! Who can tell me that they never dreamed of having a bench seat at their kitchen table growing up? I know I sure did. I love it. 

It does have some drawbacks though. First of all, it's HUGE. We plan on moving into an apartment...this table could easily take up a disproportionate amount of room. It's also heavy...Sean and his brother Pat struggled to move it, even when they took the table top off of the pedestal legs. Sean and I will never be able to move it by ourselves. It's also beaten up and worn. It's been in a garage for several years, and who knows where before that. The wood doesn't match at all either (as in, the maid part doesn't match the ends, and the leaves are a third color!) Thankfully, neither of us are crazy about the color (we like dark wood), so Sean is going to sand down the table and we'll re-stain it when it gets warmer. I'm not overly crazy about the chairs, but Sean seems to love them...maybe we'll replace them somewhere down the line...

Speaking of refinishing...Sean's already started! He has a lot of time on his hands now that he's done with school for a while, so he's already getting down to business (though he hasn't gotten very far).

(Yes, his lamp is on an old music stand - we're band nerds)

Sean loves me enough to feed my blogging habit...since he's sanding back in StP (which is 100 miles away), he took pictures and e-mailed them to me. He hasn't gotten far, like I said, but the wood looks so gorgeous! It looks like it has a really great quality, which gives me a huge sense of optimism for the finished product. We're not overly attached to the grooves, so it's not a big deal if they're not as pronounced in the final product either. 

Oh, and as promised, pictures of our china cabinet (which will also go through a major transformation one day):
The hutch will get sanded and refinished as well, we're going to change out the old, eighties style handles, and figure out something to do with the tin plate in the middle. We're thinking about punching a new design into a new piece of tin...maybe a fleur de lis or part of our wedding scroll. I'd also like to paint the tin black or a brighter silver, but we'll see what happens. Maybe we'll do something completely different there.

But they're works in progress!

"You're SO lucky"

You know the one phrase I hate the most? "You're so lucky to have Sean." It sounds like a strange thing to hate - it really does. But it's true. It's not just one thing that I hate about it - I hate it for several reasons.

First of all, what am I supposed to say to this? "Aw gee, thanks"? Or, "Yea, I think so too"? Or even worse, "I hope you're lucky enough to find someone one day too"? All of these lead to awkward silence at the end (though, admittedly, I think the third one might get me smacked more often than not). The sentence and reply have no way of leading into any other conversation whatsoever. So I sit there, rocking on my heels, attempting to make some fumbling comment about something they're so lucky to have too - which is particularly hard when I know nothing about their life.

Then comes the inner turmoil. I'm not lucky to have Sean. And speaking of, I don't have him. He's not a possession. He's a PERSON. In any case, a relationship is hard work. It's not something you fall into, and it's not something you're lucky to have. Others may think differently, but I don't feel as though it's lucky. I feel like it's something that I have based off of our hard work - it's not like it's something that just happened to keep going for the last 4 1/2 years. We've both made sacrifices. We've driven more miles than we care to think about, we've skipped out on parties, and we've missed entire sections of our lives. I'm not saying it's not worth it - but it's definitely a b*tch ton of work. He's a great guy, and I am lucky to have found him, but luck isn't what has kept us together.

I also hate how people have a tendency to define me by my relationship. I'm not just an engaged girl. I love crafts, knitting, coffee, sappy movies, sushi, and being constantly busy (by the way, none of which Sean likes). I hate how it's assumed that I'll just do things with Sean, when I'd like to hang out with others too. We're not recluses. Yes, we've been together for a long time, and yes, people generally meet us together. But it gets really frustrating to just be "the engaged ones," as if that's our only purpose in life. I wish I could find a balance between wanting to be a bride and being only a bride. I would, after all, still exist if we weren't together. He might be my fiance and my best friend, but he's not my definition. 

It's strange how I'm so angry about this comment. I supposed it's a frustration that's been building for a while though. Around V-Day, everyone gets so sappy about having a relationship, but they don't realize what it takes to have one. There are times when I don't want one, when I don't want to have to worry about someone else, and how every decision I make effects him. But I love him, and I could never do that. Too many people don't know what the meaning of love is, and all they want is someone to hang on their hip. It's not all sunshine, rainbows, and luck. It's the hardest thing you'll ever work at.