Sunday, July 31, 2011

the HP73D grudge

This weekend has been absolutely fantastic.

On Friday after work I met up with my good friend, Tessa, at Chipotle for dinner. We talked for 2 1/2 hours and it was exactly what my soul needed. 

Saturday was mommy/Danielle day and we went all over the place. Homegoods, Hobby Lobby, Giant Eagle, West Side Bakery, and to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt II in 3D. Not gonna lie, I was a little miffed at the fact that my 3D glasses weren't shaped like Harry's, as I had previously heard. I begrudgingly sat through the entire movie with a sassy expression as a result. Except not really. And I only cried when (spoiler alert) my favourite Weasley twin died. I didn't even cry when it was all over!!

Around 6 Jon's parents came over and Jon got off of work so the 5 of us had dinner together. Jon and I made potatoes, corn on the cob, and chicken with Jon's secret dry rub all on our grill. My mom contributed this gorgeous cake and her famous red velvet mini cupcakes for dessert:
Chocolate cake with strawberry creme filling
I liked it because it reminded me of a watermelon.
Jon's parents contributed a wonderful beverage selection. We talked until about 8 or 8:15 and then the parents left. Today Jon woke up early (and I got to sleep in a little) to go on a bike ride. Then we checked out a new church with some friends. This weekend was definitely much needed and I am so glad we are surrounded by such giving, loving, fun people.

Friday, July 29, 2011

mickey's parade & parenting advice

When my sister and I were little, we lived on a busy corner. As such, no ice cream trucks ever graced our street. Our grandma, however, lived in a trailer park where ice cream trucks were commonplace. So naturally, every time we were over there we pigged out on ice cream truck novelties, right? Wrong. (And yes, I am still bitter about the forthcoming story).

You see, young Jacqui & Dani had no idea these mystical trucks sold ice cream. Parents, pay attention and you might learn something here: our parents told us that those trucks that drove around gram's neighborhood blaring music were simply music trucks. They existed for the mere entertainment of the neighborhood. That probably saved them $5000.

We eventually discovered the truth. And we were pissed. I'm pretty sure that warranted ice cream truck novelties whenever we wanted.

Where am I going with this, you ask? I recently rediscovered a Mickey's Parade image and memories of my youth overwhelmed me. A quick Google search and I discovered Good Humor no longer makes these products.
Image Source

Image Source
I don't know about you, but I don't think I want to live in a world where my boy Mickey cannot be consumed in delicious ice pop/ice cream bar form. So I need your help. Yes, this is another cause I'm advocating for. Head on over to Facebook and search for the page "Bring Back Mickey's Parade Ice Pops and Ice Cream Bars". Once found, "like" the living daylights out of it and send it to all your friends.

I'm hoping enough likes will warrant Good Humor to re-evaluate their current product portfolio and bring back arguably the best frozen treat line to grace the planet.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

lazy [wo]man's fried rice

A few days ago one of my coworkers brought Chinese food into our office for lunch. One whiff and I knew that I simply must have some or serious bodily harm was imminent.

The only problem is that Jon's car needs new tires, we just paid the leftover balance on Jon's tuition that isn't covered by loans, and I need to buy a $225 parking pass for the fall semester. Translation: we're broke and I simply cannot justify buying restaurant food right now.

So I rushed home to see what we had in our cupboards and I concocted my own version of chicken fried rice. The results were so delicious that we devoured it within 24 hours and decided it would be a good recipe to make again (and share with my lovely readers!).

Before you start, cook a batch of white rice. I used 2 cups rice+4 cups water.
Next, cut up whatever you have in your fridge.
This is a good place to explain why the recipe is lazy. I used rotisserie chicken that we had in the fridge to turn this into chicken fried rice. It was so simple and so delicious. It shortened the clean/cook time of this recipe significantly.
Add oil (I used peanut, but sesame would be great too), jalapenos, and rice to a frying pan. 
After a few minutes, add raw ingredients (carrots in my case).
Add more ingredients. We had corn and frozen baby peas burning a hole in our fridge.
Add the rest of your ingredients. In this case it was bok choy and chicken.
Add soy sauce, stir fry sauce, and ginger powder to taste.
These are the stars of the show tonight.
The end result is delicious.
Now you just need to wait 15 minutes for your husband gets off of work to indulge.
The first time I made this, Jon had cooked the rice before I got home from work. I had never made rice before, so apparently I overestimated the recipe. That basically just means that we'll be eating chicken fried rice for breakfast, lunch & dinner the next week or so.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

la familia

On Sunday we journeyed out to Youngstown (or as Jon's Puerto Rican grandma pronounces, and me too by default now, "Joungstown") to visit with Jon's aunt (Titi, if you will) and his cousins.

We were spoiled rotten with plantain chips, burgers, etc., not to mention some much needed quality time with that side of the family. I stole the following pictures from Titi:

2/3 of the flower girls from our wedding with the cutest watermelon I've ever seen.

Cousins!
It was REALLY sunny on the deck. Hence squinty eyes.
I really wish Youngstown was closer, but since we moved it's probably only a 45 minute drive. Methinks we'll have to venture that way more often... especially since I know I will likely receive a plantain chip doggie bag for the ride home we have ridiculous amounts of fun when we're with these people.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

taking back sunday

Last night I had girls night with my friends Ashley and Amanda. We started the evening at Olive Garden and then headed downtown to the Chocolate Bar for dessert.
After Chocolate Bar we walked over to the House of Blues where we watched a concert featuring New Regime, Colour Revolt, Thursday, and Taking Back Sunday.

Despite the fact that by the time TBS got on stage it was virtually fogging in the venue from the heat/humidity, they killed it. It was hands down the best live show I've ever been to. The lead singer engaged the audience the entire time, going so far as to walk off the stage and around the entire venue during a few of their songs. If you've never witnessed a live TBS show and are given the opportunity, run, don't walk to buy tickets. You won't regret it. It was totally worth every penny and missing my 9:30 bed time by about 3 1/2 hours. Promise.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

garage sales

Jon and I discovered our newest bad habit: garage sale hopping.

This morning we easily went to 7 or 8. We walked away with 6 records, 2 ties, 1 men's dress shirt, an owl trivet (that I'm going to be hanging on our kitchen wall), and an owl candle holder (that will be adorning our dining room table as a centerpiece).

Here are pictures of my two favourite finds:

So what was the grand total for everything? 6 records=$2. 1 men's dress shirt = $1. 2 ties=$2. Owl trivet and candle holder = $2. We spent $7 and walked away victorious (and officially hooked).

We have since spoken with Jon's mom to arrange a garage sale at their house sometime in August. I'll probably end up buying half of their stuff. It's an addiction.

Friday, July 22, 2011

the bra welt

In my last post I mentioned there being a story behind the bra that I had line drying in my kitchen. Brace yourselves because this is a bit of a doozie.

A while back I found the cutest tank top-type shirt on sale at Banana Republic for $9. Actually, to me the top is kind of weird but Jon said it looked "amazing" on me and demanded I purchase it. Well, of course the straps are awkward so I needed to buy a special bra to wear with the shirt so that I don't look trashy.

Enter Soma Intimates. I had never been there/heard of it so we checked it out. The sales girl helped me find the perfect bra (well, I felt more or less backed into a corner and I'm not one to say "no") and my $9 shirt turned into a $55 bra plus a $9 shirt.

The bra largely sat unworn in my drawer for the better part of a month. I did wear it once but only for an hour or so. This past weekend was my future sister-in-law's bridal shower so I decided to wear the bra to that. I ended up wearing it for most of the day and when I got home and took it off it almost felt like a piece of my skin got pulled. It hurt when I sat down on the couch but I just figured it had been on too tight and would feel fine later.

Jon got home from work about two hours later. It didn't take long for him to notice that I had welts on my back. WELTS.
Try as you might, boys, but you will see no boob here. Jon made sure of it. Sorry.
You see, the bra is a convertible bra and so they placed (what I later found out to be) some water-based silicone rubber along the back of it in order to prevent it from slipping down when worn strapless. I've been known to have very sensitive skin and very odd allergies (nickel, latex, the sun) so I'm just going to assume I had a reaction to it. One long phone call and a trip to Soma later, they were extremely helpful and let me return it (which I ended up exchanging for some much-needed underwear and a much cheaper bra). So what could have been a nightmare turned into a pleasant shopping experience with a very helpful employee. The end.

...Okay so that story kinda sucked. I'm sorry. But at least it's Friday!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

salad summer

As most of you are aware, we are in the midst of a heat wave.

It currently "feels like" 110 degrees. Our AC at work can be pretty shotty so it was about 85 in our office today. As a result, we had an impromptu ice cream sundae bar at lunch and therefore my lunch was an ice cream sundae. At home, we have both window AC units going on full blast but it's still toasty. Far too toasty to cook. So I ran to the store to get a rotisserie chicken and salad pieces. Ice cream for lunch made me feel pretty crappy so a salad was much desired.

The end result was colorful perfection:
Then I enjoyed this salad the way any self-respecting person who felt like their face was melting off would: in my underpants.

Later on, I ate a peach (also in my underpants). The end result was that I dripped peach juice on my bra. And this bra happens to be a "hand wash only" bra. So I washed it in the kitchen sink. But then where was I supposed to "line dry" it??? Obviously in my kitchen:
There's a story behind that bra, but I will save it for another time. Perhaps next time. It involves welts so you know it's gotta be a good one.

In between the bra-washing and the underpants salad, I enjoyed myself a (literally) 45-minute ice cold shower. I currently have an ice pack down my pants. Help.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

heartline

I follow a ministry called Heartline in Haiti. They do a variety of things for the Haitian people, but one of the things I admire most about their work is what they do with expectant moms.

They believe that while adoption can be a beautiful thing, it is always better to try and leave a child with his or her biological parent. To support this, they support expectant moms. They teach them the importance of breastfeeding in a culture that is ripe with misinformation (newborns are often given water because their mothers believe breast milk will not hydrate them). They have a maternity program that builds a relationship with these women and provides them a safe place to go to and learn how to care for their children. And when the time comes, trained midwives deliver the women in a safe and welcoming environment.

However, sometimes emergencies arise and they have to pass their expectant moms over to hospitals because they do not have the appropriate facilities for emergencies. That could all change with your help though (no monetary donations necessary, so don't stop reading now). With the simple click of a button, your vote puts Heartline in the running for a $50,000 grant that could give them the emergency facilities they need.

All you need to do is click on this link and then click Vote. That's it. And if you want to know some of what Heartline is doing in their maternity program, you could follow either Heather or Tara's blogs. More info about Heartline can be found on the voting link, so I encourage you to check out their work. It's amazing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

paid

I am proud to report that as of today, both of our cars are officially our cars:
It took a lot of penny pinching (and a transfer from savings to checking to the loan) but we did it! Our goal was to have the cars paid off by the time we start classes August 29 so that the only debt to our name would be student loans.

We did it, so now we just need to start throwing down on our student loan repayment... sigh.

Friday, July 15, 2011

brisket

Jon and I went out on a date tonight to this little BBQ joint near our apartment. I got the beef brisket and Jon got a pulled pork sandwich.

It was delish!

I also insisted we get a picture of the two of us together to commemorate the occasion because it feels like the more time that passes since we got married the less pictures there are of the two of us. The picture went a little something like this:
"I don't want my eyes to be squinty." - Jon

"Babe, why did you do that!?" - Me

"Let's both do the big eyes!" - Jon
Well, I tried.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

pies and wet babies

Marsala has needed a bath since before we moved. Jon and I were grilling our dinner in the backyard tonight when the baby sat in our bedroom window and mewed longingly at us. I went upstairs, got her leash, and brought her outside. This re-affirmed her need for a bath.


Now we're not on speaking terms. Which was fine with me because I had a very important task at hand:

This was 2 lbs and cost $4.50. There were 1-lb cartons at 2/$5. That makes no sense!



We followed this recipe. It was very easy to do (and yes I lazed it up and used a store-bought pie shell). It has to cool in the fridge for several hours and Jon is NOT happy about that. Truthfully, neither am I.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

on growing up (part deux)

I talked slightly about how friendships change as you get older. As an advocate of all things anti-change, growing up hasn't always sat well with me.

A few weeks ago we went to lunch with two of our friends. After we left Jon and I were talking about how nice it was to go out to eat with friends and I remarked that I couldn't remember the last time we did that. We reminisced about how one of the ways we got to know one another was over half price appetizers at Applebee's with a huge group of our friends. Then Jon said the words I had never thought about, nonetheless believed could ever be true:

"We don't even stay up late enough for half price appetizers anymore." *Gulp*. 

Do you people know what time half price appetizers hit?? 10. One-zero. (Courtney and Mike have since informed us that there is an 'old people' version of half price appetizers M-F from 3-6 pm. Win!) We are in bed by that time.

Then I started thinking about the good ole days. On Mondays we would all go to a local coffeehouse for open mic night then hit up the 'Bees for appetizers. We were just a group of friends, not a care in the world. 3-4 years later half of us are married, a quarter are engaged or in a serious relationship, and several have kids. We rarely talk during the week, let alone see each other as a group and catch up. I don't like it. But I guess it comes with the getting older territory.

I also used to go to shows at least twice a month when I was younger. Music has always held a very special place in my heart and there is a certain rush in seeing a band you adore playing live. The last big show I went to? I can't remember. I think it was a We the Kings show in '08 with Jon in Chicago. I'm slightly making up for this in a week and a half when I go to see Taking Back Sunday with my good friend, but I can neither afford nor do I have the time to do this on a monthly basis. I prefer organizing and staying in rather than shopping. York Peppermint Patties are a sufficient substitute for an ice cream shop sundae. [Insert hashtag about being older beyond my years here.]

marsala

When I got up to get a glass of water this is what I stumbled upon:


"Oh you know, I'm just taking a nap. On my back. LIKE A HUMAN"



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

when in rome...

I learned something new last night. Apparently there is more to the saying "when in Rome" than just "when in Rome." Jon told me the second half of the saying is "...do as the Romans do." He then asked me what I thought that expression meant without the second half.

My response? "I don't know, do whatevs." O.F. city schools--you failed me.

In unrelated news, while I was nesting (read: going on an organizing and re-organizing binge) this weekend I stumbled across my old digs:
I probably won't accomplish anything over the next two weeks.
Also, I've decided that grilling should be a year-round thing. It's healthier, tastier, and there are half as many dishes to wash...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

anti-guacamole and bad cats

mentioned that Jon is anti-onion. He is also anti-tomato. However, he is a big advocate of avocado (I think it comes with the territory of being half Puerto Rican). 
Given these constraints, I was forced to find (and then perfect) a recipe for guacamole that would make us both happy. I initially found a recipe for an avocado spread for sandwiches. This was our jumping off point about two years ago.

It has evolved into a recipe that includes avocados, vinegar, salt, lemon juice, lime juice, cilantro, and a hint of jalapeno hot sauce. I just mix, add, and mix until Jon gives his approval. It's always a hit with him. I don't necessarily classify it as 'guac' though. It's kind of anti-guac.

While Jon was at work yesterday I heard a crash in the kitchen. This is what I found:
The crash was her jumping up where our dishes were drying, thus knocking a cup onto the floor. I love her blatant disregard of my presence. I'm not much of an enforcer though, so I don't entirely blame her. Also, I loathe the way my voice sounds on video.

Those chives lived on our balcony at our first apartment. They endured a waterless summer and a particularly fierce Ohio winter. They appeared entirely dead when we moved but we brought them inside anyway. I'm pretty sure that beanstalk is a tower of basil (our basil pot failed to survive the winter), but I'm too lazy to tear a leaf off and smell it to confirm.

Friday, July 8, 2011

fridays are for pizza

The title is somewhat deceptive. We actually made this pizza for dinner last night. But I feel like it perfectly represents our marriage:
Left half: Jon. Right half: Dani
Jon is VERY anti-bell peppers and onions. I think bell peppers and onions make the world a better place. This is a very important marital issue, obviously. I either have to exclude onions from my cooking all together or at least make them large enough that he can clearly identify and remove the offending culprits. But we are finding the compromise and making a meal that we can both enjoy without stepping on each other's toes.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THIS DOESN'T LOOK DELISH??
I do declare (said in this voice), my husband has a lame palate. 
I forgot to mention that earlier this week we went for ice cream. My staple is superman ice cream with hot fudge. It's odd because typically I'm a chocolate/peanut butter ice cream advocate in the home. Welp, this sundae disappointed. Luckily, Jon had mercy on my finickiness and traded. But then I couldn't finish his so he finished off both. I say it was a win-win.

In unrelated news, I've noticed that in excess of 40 views of my blog this week have been from China. Not entirely sure what my appeal is to anyone outside of my immediate family, but I hope my new Chinese readers find humor in this little space of mine (and that I don't offend you ever in the future).

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

on growing up

In middle school I had 0 friends.

Okay, that's being a bit dramatic. Between 6th and most of 8th grade, I had 2 friends: my sixth grade science teacher and Sally (who happened to live in Virginia).

I met Sally at Ligonier the summer between 5th and 6th grade--we were tribemates in good ole cabin 2. We instantly clicked. I was probably borderline oppressive in wanting to be her friend. She was a grade ahead of me and she was plum cool. After the 2 weeks of camp had passed, we kept in touch via AOL instant messenger. It wasn't long before we made plans for her to fly out for a visit in Ohio.
Camp: the later years. From left, me, Sally, Jen, Emma, and Emily
I think she cried the whole weekend due to homesickness.

After that visit, we would alternate. One of us would go for a visit in the spring, we'd see each other at camp during the summer, then the other would fly for a visit in the fall.

Truthfully, looking forward to our visits (and camp in general) were the only things that gave me joy during those tumultuous years. Lonely isn't a strong enough adjective for what I felt during that time. If it hadn't been for her friendship I'm not sure I would have made it this far.

And just over a year ago, a friendship spanning a decade was reunited for one of the most important dates in my life so far:
June 5, 2010: the day I became a Mrs.
Our friendship has definitely changed since I was ten. We talk far too little. But when we do talk, it's like no time has passed. I view her family as my family. There are definitely days I wish we could go back to camp and pretend like we're thirteen again. We were (one of us still is?) oddballs. I think we went and saw Napoleon Dynamite in theaters three times during the week I visited her. We cracked up just as much the last as the first viewing, if not more. And while there are approximately 7 hours/475 miles between us, I'm just grateful for her friendship to a lonely and confused kid from summer camp. That doesn't mean I don't miss her though.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

potato chips are my weakness

So sorry for my negligence. I know I told you I'd be better to you. I'll make more of an effort this time. Promise.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend packed with the three F's: family, friends, and fun. I shudder at my own cheesiness. But at least I have excuses for being negligent!!!

Here's a quick play-by-play:
Friday: Went to Heather's after work to visit with her and this sweet babe. Heather made us a delicious dinner- she put fresh mozzarella & cilantro inside a chicken breast then sauteed it in a skillet with honey, fresh lemon juice, and pepper. I'm normally very anti-mixing sweet and savory, but this chicken was the bomb. I also introduced Heather to one of my favourite Youtube addictions:
Sorry, Paul. I can guarantee you she will be scouring the depths of Youtube for the next several days, soaking in every surprise pregnancy announcement she possibly can. These things come in phases: first is wedding proposals, then military homecomings, then pregnancy announcements. It's the cycle of life.
Saturday: Helped one of my best friend's family move from one house to another in the morning (and consumed way too many donuts, "breakfast bars", and pizza slices in the process). In the evening, our friends Courtney & Mike had us over for dinner--grilled bbq chicken. Always a delicious win. Not to mention great conversation.
Sunday: Church then lunch at Metro Burger with Court & Mike*. We got spoiled - two days with them in a row! After that we headed over to Jon's parents where we spent the rest of the day.
Monday: Cookout at my parent's with a good chunk of our fam & Jon's parents/grandmas. I probably ate half a bag of potato chips and dip by myself.

I intended on taking pictures of many of the aforementioned festivities. But then I dropped the ball.

I intentionally didn't do my weekly weight check this morning because I totally failed in the "junk food in moderation" department this weekend. I figured a week of serious dieting before the next weigh-in would probably be best for all parties involved. Especially Jon. Don't want him to feel the wrath of self-loathing Danielle.

*Jon said to me, "I really like hanging out with Mike and Courtney." I think it's because Courtney is just like me (down to the ADD but neurotic OCD) and Mike is just like Jon (down to the adoration of dressing up and being super laid back about pretty much everything). I told him he likes hanging out with them so much because it's basically as if we were just hanging out with ourselves. Is that vain?