Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cherry Blossoms

The Cherry Blossom Festival is in full swing, and the tulip magnolias have come out to play too. Here's some of the gorgeousness....

A Hoorah with the Holts

The Holts came to visit us this past weekend, and with the blossoms in full bloom, we all had a great time! Kristy and I have known each other since we were 8 year old piano partners, and we've been close friends since 7th grade, so it was a blast showing her a taste of the capital. Colby, her husband, knows all kinds of fun facts about history, is hilarious, and was like a little kid in a candy shops most of the time, so I guess it was ok having him around too! :) ha ha ha

We visited the museums, the archives, Arlington Cemetery, the Pentagon--and they even helped break me into gluten-free dining out. :) All in all, it was a great time! Brian and I both had lots of fun. Thanks for the visit!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The weren't just "Nearly Normal"...they were SCRUMPTIOUS!

So, I am going to start a separate blog to talk about all the Celiac happenings of my life, so you all don't have to constantly hear about gluten, and xanthum gum, and why flaxseed in bread is so darn exciting...but since that blog won't be created til tomorrow, I had to share this. Sooooooo exciting. :)

I spent forever researching gluten-free flour blends that can be used in place of all-purpose, normal flour. Every Celiac seems to have their favorite blend, and I wanted the best one gosh dang it! Finally I came across one that sounded really promising to me..."Nearly Normal All Purpose Flour". The body, tastes and textures of the flours just sounded promising, and Jules Shepard (the recipe creator) seemed to be quite the chef. So, Brian and I spent 2 nights at 4 different grocery stores buying all kinds of fun ingredients like corn flour, tapioca starch, xanthum gum, potato flour, white rice flour, cornstarch... yes...all for one all-purpose flour mix. I mixed up a batch, and last night I set out to make my favorite gooey chocolate cookies. The ones I grew up on. The cookie of all cookies. Nice and crisp on the outside, gooey and soft on the inside. Everything a chocolate cookie should be. We measured, mixed, and baked...Waiting waiting waiting for the timer to go off. I was actually nervous...butterflies and all. Ding...pull them out. And guess what? SO NORMAL!! Taste, texture, shape...all normal, normal, normal. I was so excited I was literally jumping around the kitchen. Brian was laughing, and hugging and thrilled to be eating yummy baked goods again. It was like a scene from...I don't know...some super cheesy Disney movie...the kind that plays in slow motion with heroic music in the background. :) he he he. LOVE it. My baking life is far from over. Thanks Jules Shepard!! :)

PS...For all you inquiring minds who want to know, the rest of the diet--not so bad either. I won't say it's not an adjustment, but definitely do-able. Dinners have been fairly normal. I still make the same recipes, adjusting ingredients here and there, experimenting when needed. Shopping is more time consuming--checking labels and finding gluten in places you'd never think is always an adventure. Lunches were tricky at first with no sandwiches and limited canned soup, but I started buying string cheese, and cottage cheese with fruit, and nuts. All in all, doing well! Thanks for all the concern and questions!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Honeymoon Book

Can you believe it's almost been a year since we got married? When we started planning our anniversary trip (we're going on a cruise to the Caribbean!!!!!!), I decided it was about time to finally sit down and design a digital book of honeymoon photos. I was up til 4am a couple weeks ago doing it because I had a printing coupon that was going to expire...still haven't recovered. Apparently I'm not a freshman in college anymore! ANYWAY, I promised so many people that they could see our pictures, and then I left the state! So I thought I'd post a slide show of the book pages for those of you who are interested. I love looking back through them--I know I was there, but I still feel like the photos were done at one of those Vegas booths that photoshops you into a cool scene. Crazy! Doesn't feel real! Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Partying with the Palmers

Brian's sister Alisha came to town this past weekend with her husband, Matthew, and their two adorable girls. We had an absolute blast showing them around and hanging out with them.

Who would've thought that the girls' favorite part of DC would be the "Go Fish" game sitting in our closet? Or that birds will eat right off your foot in front of the National Archives if you hold still enough? Or that someone can beg and beg and beg to go on the Merry-go-Round, and then thoroughly hate every minute of it? (And I'm not talking about Matthew...he did ride, but I think he secretly liked it! :)) Or that we could find a discontinued, but very favorite, kind of pacifier at the local Magruders? Or that Amber is probably the worst Hearts player on the face of the planet? Or that a cute little 2 year old singing "Me I want a Huuuuuula Hoop" in a very chipmunky way everytime she was happy could be the funniest thing EVER!

That doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of all the fun times we had! Here's the pictures!

Friday, March 13, 2009

She's Crazy

So, I thought I'd share two funny stories that had me laughing pretty hard. (Then again, I AM sleep and gluten deprived, so I'm not promising too too much!)

Yesterday I was sitting with one of my new first graders while he worked on his reading comprehension test. He's pretty bright, and was cruising through it, so I was a little surprised when he suddenly stopped and started giggling, then laughing, then laughing his head off. He started mumbling something to the other kids, and so I asked him what was so funny. I could barely understand his answer because he was laughing so hard.
"There's a girl in this story named Dora!"
Still not knowing what was so funny, I said, "Oh yeah?"
"Yeah!" Laughing, laughing, laughing. "We know a girl named Dora. I don't like her."
Trying to change the subject before things got mean, I said, "Oh. The only Dora I know is the one on TV."
He said, "Yeah. That's the one WE know too. She's crazy."
I was intrigued! A little kid who didn't like Dora? WHAT! "She's pretty silly, huh?"
"No...she's CRAZY." He was pretty serious now.
"Crazy? What do you mean?"
"Well, she sits and talks to you, and then she asks you lots of questions...and even if you don't answer, SHE ACTS LIKE YOU DID!"

Ha ha ha ha ha... speaking of crazy, my second "Kids say the darndest things" story:

Brian and I are the "Child Care Specialists for the Ward Choir". (BEST calling EVER. No question.) So, our first week, the only kid there was an oh-so-cute 4 or 5 year old little girl named Lizzie. Her and Brian instantly hit it off, and she didn't really want much to do with me. She was perfectly content showing Brian all her My Little Ponies (and I think he was pretty into it too...:) ). I wanted to be part of the fun, so I kept asking her silly questions to try to draw her out and get a little bond going. (Ya know...the type where you put the pony on your head, and say, "OOOOHHH...I get it...this is a hat, right?" :)). She would give me a very patronizing smile for a 5 year old, patiently answer, and then go back to playing with Brian. Finally, I said something so silly that I had Brian laughing, and he turned to Lizzie shaking his head and said, "She's crazy!"
The next couple of weeks, Lizzie completely turned on me. She wouldn't sit by me, answer me, or even look at me. I didn't understand what in the world was going on. All I knew was that she wanted nothing to do with me. So, I let her play with Brian and took care of the other kids. Finally, on like week 3, Brian was busy with a baby, and I had to be the one to entertain Lizzie. She was sitting at the table coloring, and I went and sat with her. After kinda scooting away, she went into her usual mode of ignoring me. But I persistently talked to her about her pretty dress, and the picture she was coloring, and her new little sister. She finally started warming up, and by the end of the hour I felt like we were on track to being friends.
I still wasn't quite sure why she'd been so strange with me the last couple of weeks, until she ran over to Brian during clean-up time and said, very seriously, "She doesn't SEEM crazy."
Brian laughed and said, "What?"
Pointing in my direction Lizzie repeated, "She doesn't SEEM crazy."
Yah. My husband had a little girl actually thinking I was literally off my rocker. We got a good laugh out of that one. But really, was she that far off? :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Working Girl

Well, kinda sorta. :) I was puttering around on the internet Monday, and randomly came across a craigslist post for a part-time teacher in Alexandria schools. I've always wondered off-and-on why I didn't go into teaching...I remember herding my sisters into our playhouse every day when we were little, where we had desks and a chalk board, and giving them full days of "school". I'd prepare lessons, and homework assignments, and I even made lunch and library cards. (Yes, I've always been a dork.) Anyway, I sent an application on a whim, the next day I was meeting the director at a Starbucks, and the next day (yesterday) I was starting my first day of after-school tutoring, assisting another teacher with 4 students as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. Pretty cool, right? The pay is great...which is good, since I only work 2 days a week for one hour a day! And she assures me that getting time off for an anniversary trip won't be a problem. The school is like 3 mintues from our apartment. How's that for an awesome little set-up? I will say this, though...children these days are not quite as...sweet as I remember second graders being. :) It'll be an adventure.

I thought that extra mula would come in extra handy since we anticipated management hiking our rent by leaps and bounds when our lease expires in a couple months. We've been hearing horror stories, and have been a little stressed about the thought of having to leave our cute little home. We love it here. Well, the same day I got the call about the job, I got a letter from management, offering us a VIP Discounted Rent for current tenants! I was literally jumping around the living room with excitement. It's been a pretty good week.

All this happened the day after I started my diet (which hasn't been too bad!). I told Brian that the gluten-free diet must be good luck. :) Actually, we're just really, really blessed. Someone always seems to be looking out for us and taking an active interest in our lives, and we couldn't be more grateful.

Anyway, that's all from "Miss Amber" for now!

Monday, March 2, 2009

SnoW SNow sNow SNOW!!!!!

So, I guess occasionally (very occasionally) it DOES snow here!!! (The little flurries people have been calling snow just haven't counted!) We woke up this morning, and this was the view from our balcony! Woooooo hooooo!

Look how cold Tink looks in that second picture! (Yes, that's her covered with snow!) The temperature was 21 degrees with a real-feel of 4 degrees! You're not in Kansas anymore Tinky! (Not that you ever were...unless...was that one of the states we hit in the drive across country? and geography...never a good combination... ANYway...)

I must say, winter just hasn't quite been winter until today!