Saturday, February 26, 2011

To Lighten or Not to Lighten

So I've been thinking about going lighter for a while, lighter as in my hair.  It's been brown for a while now, but there have been times when I've had it a little lighter.  I was actually a real blonde until I was four years old when it turned brown all by itself.  So therefore I feel like I have the right to be blonde again.  :)


Me at two or three years?

My hair usually gets lighter in the summertime or when I've been out in the sun more.  


After just getting engaged!  :)  It was a happy time!

I played around on Photoshop the other day to see what I might look like now with blonde hair...


And well, this one looks like a plastered on bad wig.  So let's try again...


Looks a little more natural, not quite as platinum.  I'm really liking that "bronde" shade-- where you really can't decide if it's more brown or blonde.  Let's go to Jennifer Anniston for inspiration.


I'm having trouble fully committing to this decision, because I know it's a lot of upkeep and that gets expensive.  But I think it will be fun to try for at least a time in my life.  What do you guys think?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Little Mattress That Could

So... ever since we got married (which has been almost six months already!) my husband and I have been sleeping on an air bed.  Since these beds are pretty much made of vinyl plastic and air, a hole can easily be created.  We've gone through four beds since September.

This last bed we've been on since November had gotten a tiny hole in it sometime in December.  My resourceful husband had this idea that instead of buying a whole new air bed which are pretty costly after a while, to try and cover the hole with a bit of candle wax and Scotch tape.  Well for two months, it worked.

It's kinda funny to think that this is how we've been sleeping every night for months, inflating our bed multiple times a day and feeling like you're constantly on a water bed.  Recently though, God has truly blessed us financially and Israel just got a promotion at work.  So we were prrrreeettty (beyond) excited to buy a real live mattress, one that doesn't move and is solid.

We found one out at a very good price at Mattress Giant and just picked it up last night.  However, since we didn't really have a way to transport it and we didn't want to rent a U-Haul, this is how we carried it back to our house:


We prayed that we wouldn't fall over like a little beetle on its back!  Praise to God, we made it safely home, us and the mattress intact.  Before we took it inside we were pretty (beyond) excited to do this to our old bed:


And this... 


And this!!!

 

I know we'll look back on this time later and just laugh.  We got our new bed all set up, and it's solid and doesn't jiggle and it's awesome.  We were both surprised when we sat down and didn't sink at all.  We spent our first night on the new bed and in the words of my husband, it was like "sleeping on a cloud."  I will never take a real mattress for granted ever again.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fun with Groceries

I've been borrowing the car a lot more recently and I'm definitely getting more comfortable driving in Miami.  I've decided to set a slow driver example here, and go exactly the speed limit whether I get tailed or not.  I've never seen such impatient drivers before!

Anyhow, when I just go alone to buy groceries I find myself spending lots of time at Publix, scouring every aisle.  I remember going to the store a lot with my mom when I was a little girl riding in the cart, and now I'm the one picking out items for our household.  I've had to buy groceries before when I was single and living with some other girls, but I didn't actually plan out meals.  I often ate cereal and toast for dinner, and chicken very occasionally.  I knew barely anything about cooking then.

Now I love discovering new things at the grocery store and looking at different cuts of meat, Cuban specialty items, and sauces.  It really feels like a treasure hunt to me when I'm browsing the spices aisle, where I probably spend the most time.  I've been experimenting with different marinades lately with chicken and pork chops, and my new favorite is a whole ton of Worchestershire sauce, a bit of soy sauce, garlic salt, oregano, pepper, parsley and chives.  So delicious!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Onion Strings and Justin Bieber


Last night, I decided to make onion rings, or onion strings, in this case.  Onion strings complete with homemade burgers.  As I began chopping onions I remembered that Glee was on, so I tuned in and immediately caught Chord Everstreet's version of Justin Bieber's "Baby."


The Biebs is everywhere these days.



Now to the onion cutting.  I've never been very good at it!  So instead of thin perfectly-sliced rings, I came out with onion "things."  I dipped them in a flour mixture combined with cayenne pepper, dash of salt and pepper, and plunged them into a pot of 375 degree canola oil.  It was terrifying.  

They fried up pretty quickly after a couple of burnt fingers and almost setting off the smoke alarm.  Our tiny apartment was soon full of smokey air and the overwhelming smell of fried food.  The pot of oil looked a big black abyss so I decided to dump it outside.  And leave it there.  Forever!  


Until my kind husband took it out of the cold and gave it a thorough wash.


"Are we an item?  Girl quit playin', we're just friends, what are you sayin'?"


Must get Biber out of the head.  These are the finished onion strings.  They had a lot of flavor and tasted surprisingly good, but I am now vowing never to make them again.  It was a fun experiment, but they're far too messy to make in a tiny kitchen. 


I dream of abundant counter space...


I usually love hamburgers filled with all kinds of yummy things like Mayo, lettuce and tomato.  I went for plain this time, and these burgers were juicy and flavorful!  So good.  First time making hamburgers at home, too.  Next time I'll try them with Feta!  Yum!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cookies n' Cream Brownies

I have never put frosting on brownies before, but when I saw this recipe on HowSweetEats, I just had to try it!  It literally tasted just like cookies n' cream ice cream on top.  Mama like.

I couldn't help but think of the story my mom likes to tell about my older sister Renae when she was just a little girl.  They were in the middle of the grocery store, and Renae kept asking my mom to buy this ice cream, but my mom would not succomb to Renae's wishes.  As they were about to get to the checkout, Renae started screaming, "I WANT COOKIES N'CREAM!  I WANT COOKIES N' CREEEAAAM!"  She knew what she wanted.


Renae is on the right and I'm on the left in the onesie

Back to the brownies... 

They have crushed Oreos both in the brownie batter and in the frosting!  Not to mention that the frosting is pretty much just butter, powdered sugar, a touch of vanilla and lots of Oreos... you know it can't be too bad!

I spent so much time looking at HowSweetEats' recipes because all of them look soooo yummy!  I was looking for a good dessert to take to our new friends' house, Zach and Jenn, and came across this brownie recipe... and I just couldn't resist.


I had fun crumbling all the Oreos, first with my fingers and then crushing them with my favorite glass from IKEA.


Crush, crush, crush!


It did get a little messy, and I may or may not have licked my fingers clean...


This is not a paid advertisement for Kitchen-Aid!  (Although I do love them)


Finished product... the frosting literally tastes like the ice cream.  My sister would be drooling.  They turned out gooey, crunchy and super sweet-- just what I like in a brownie.

Cookies n' Cream Brownies:

2-3 semi-sweet baking chocolate squares
1/2 stick butter
2 c. sugar
5 eggs
1 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
8 oreos, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or 325, if using a convection oven like me).

Melt butter and baking squares in a microwave-safe bowl.  In the mixing bowl, cream melted butter and chocolate mixture.  Add in sugar and vanilla, beat until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add in eggs, beating one at a time.  Add flour and stir just until combined.  Fold in cookie crumbles.

Pour into greased 9x13 baking dish (I used an 8x8 square cake pan).  Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until just barely done.  Cool before frosting.

Cookies n' Cream Frosting:

2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 T. milk
10 Oreos

Mix butter and powdered sugar together, adding sugar gradually to the mix.  Add vanilla.  Mix in milk, adding more if needed.  Continue to add milk and sugar until it reaches desired consistency.  Crush Oreos and fold them into the frosting.

For the record, don't eat too much of the raw batter... or you may have a terrible stomach ache.  Not that I know from experience or anything...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I have always liked Valentine's Day, however cheesy that might seem or however much I protested it in my single days (calling it Black Tuesday or Black Wednesday and wearing black).  But the truth is I always wanted a real valentine... someone who I truly loved and who truly loved me back with the same intensity.

For those of you who don't know how I met my husband, we met through my previous blog and began an online/long distance romance before we met in person almost a year ago.  Last year, since Israel and I were still apart and hadn't met each other yet, we had a Skype date every night so we could at least see each other.  For Valentine's Day, he sent me a different thing during the week for our virtual date... a bouquet of tulips, a CD we would both listen to during our dinner date, and a candy bar for dessert.


From my end of the computer


I kicked my family out of the house and Israel went to a friend's house to set up a romantic dinner.  


He had chocolate covered strawberries prepared and a whole table decorated in Valentine's style.  


It was unique and it was really special.  But I prefer in person worlds more:


We celebrated our Valentine's over the weekend, since Israel works a long day today.  We went to a movie, did a little shopping, had dinner at Macaroni Grill and went to this place I've been dying to go to called Bahama Breeze for dessert.  It was lovely spending the whole day together.


I love my hubby!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

This made my day


Israel's homage to Harry Potter


Receiving this beautiful scarf in the mail from my mom


Lava Crunch Cakes from Dominoe's... it always comes back to chocolate


I can hardly ever get a clear shot of Christopher, he is literally always running around, but he's such a precious baby!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Superbowl Sunday

Israel and I are not avid sports fans.  We don't normally watch sports, but we both enjoy watching an occasional game live.  I like traditions, festivities and really any opportunity to celebrate, so when the Superbowl comes around I give football its annual chance to somehow charm me.  We didn't even know who was playing until the day of or the day before, but we decided to go for the Packers, because you have to go for the underdog.  Also, it turns out Jordy Nelson is a native Kansan!  That's reason enough for me to root for them.

We went over to my mother-in-law's house to watch the game with the rest of the Cubans.  A plate full of yellow rice and barbeque ribs later, I was surrounded by people shouting in Spanish while watching the game.  Btw, Cubans are very loud. :)  That was an interesting experience all by itself... watching the ultimate American football event with a bunch of people speaking Spanish, heh.  But then I got to witness a whole new side to my normally mild-mannered husband.  I had been warned before about how he really gets into the game, but didn't know he could get so excited (since we had never watched one together).... and then it happened....

It was like time stood still as the Packers scored their first touchdown and I turned to my husband to high-five him (we were the only ones rooting for them), and my husband jumped off the couch in a classic Tom Cruise manner and screamed the loudest I've ever heard before:

"Yeeeahhh!  That's what I'm talkin' about!  This is my house!!!"

I think he might have spun around, too.  I couldn't decide what I felt more in that moment-- shock or laughter.  I definitely laughed a lot about it later when I saw his brother make a whole facebook status about it.

I have seen a new side of football-watching Israel.  This is what happens when you're married to the Cuban.

On another note, today is the last day of popping antibiotics!!  Soon, I will be free of all my kidney infection restraints... though I might wait a few days still before I drink coffee or soda again.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Most Perfect Brownies

I've been researching different cocoa brownie recipes and came upon this one from Smitten Kitchen.  This seemed to get lots of great reviews and it just looked delicious so I was really excited about making them!  But then I came down with a kidney infection... and it delayed my plans a little bit, but a few days shy of my antibiotics being done, I've decided to start incorporating other solid foods into my diet.  I was going to wait on chocolate until I was all done taking my pills, as a reward of sorts.  But I just couldn't wait!


I decided to surprise my husband with a batch of brownies and got started right away.  This is a very easy recipe to follow, but I did have to make a few modifications.  Having only 3 tablespoons of butter, I had to supplement a 1/2 cup of shortening and I did add a little more sugar than the recipe calls for.  But in the end, these brownies aren't supposed to be the sweetest thing, but it's the rich cocoa that comes out and makes it a very deep flavor.


My mom sent me this shortly after I moved here.  She knows what's up.  

I put the brownies in my little convection oven at 300 degrees (but for regular ovens it's 325), and let them bake for about 25 minutes.  The end result?  Fudgy, moist and almost cake-like.  Divine.  Not overdone or underdone (the way I usually prefer my brownies), but just right.  


You know you have a good thing when your husband's immediate reaction is "Mmmmm!"  and gobbles down all four of his brownies in about 14.5 seconds.  I ate about four pieces too, and felt my thighs expand in my skinny jeans.  But oh, it's worth it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Today

Today was:

- Dreaming about anacondas, lions and cheetahs
- Running from said lions in dream
- Waking up feeling tired from all the running

- Watching part of a Glee marathon on TV while:
    a.  Writing thank you notes (yes, still from our wedding)
    b.  Painting my finger nails bright red (for probably the first time since seventh grade)
    c.  Removing nail polish, remembering that I'd have to use my hands later
    d.  Baking a batch of the most delicious cocoa brownies... recipe to come soon!
    e.  Curling my hair and then putting it in a new updo


- Teriyaki noodles with scrambled eggs with garlic, chives and parsley for dinner... yum!
- Watching an episode of I Love Lucy with the hubby (the mother-in-law episode I mentioned a few entries back... hilarious!  It's just like me and my mother-in-law).
- Skyping with these two:


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog's Day!

For those of you who actually have winter, it looks like Punxsutawney Phil has given you an early spring!  I was explaining to my husband about the significance of this day last night, and I thought, What an odd holiday.

In Kansas and in much of the Midwest, a blizzard has come through, swept through the streets and houses, living it in a Winter Wonderland.  It looks something like this:


This photo was taken two Christmas's ago at my aunt and uncle's house when we got a massive blizzard.  It's days like this that I know I'm living in another country.  I went for a walk this morning in 80-degree weather wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  Here's a view from my side of the country:


Sunny and actually hot.  I still can't believe I live here.  


Ducks are a pretty common sight in our neighborhood, and I spotted this little guy on my walk.  Due to my last encounter with a duck who looked a little too happy to see me, I was a little apprehensive about approaching this one.  But when it comes to getting the good shot, you gotta take one for the team.

On another note, I'm pretty sure I made the best chicken of my life last night.  I wish I had taken a picture of it now... it was monumental.  I mixed some bread crumbs with garlic powder, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and used that to coat the chicken.  I then mixed up some noodles with sesame, soy and lemongrass.  Although I'm not really supposed to eat pasta or lots of salt, I did have a small portion.  I couldn't resist.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

You know you're living in the tropics when...

A tiny frog somehow gets into your apartment and starts a panic attack.

Last week, as I was walking into the bathroom I thought I saw something move on the rug by the door, but I wasn't sure.  When I came back to the kitchen and picked up a dish to start washing a load, I spotted this same thing hopping.

Looking down, I noticed that it was a tiny brown frog.  I'm not sure why this scared me so much, but I started screaming as if it were a mouse.  Frogs had never scared me before, I'm not sure why this time was any different... but I've also never had one in my house.

I shouted for my husband to come catch the little critter and save me, but as it hopped closer to me, I reached an all new level of hysteria and cried out:  "Get out of here!" to our tiny intruder.

Things are not well when you're found talking to tiny frogs.