Marcus and I were blessed with an unexpected date night on Saturday. We'd arranged for a sitter and made plans to see the one-act play festival at the college. All five plays were directed by students that one or both of us have in class this semester. The festival was in our small black-box theatre, which only holds about 50 seats, so you have to get there early if you're going to get in. We had faculty seats on reserve, but when we went to pick them up, we noticed one of the actors' parents at the box office. The parents had driven in from out of town, but hadn 't made it there in time to get tickets. So we gave them ours and made arrangements to attend on Sunday.
Armed with a rare dose of free time, we headed to the movies. Everything we were interested in seeing had already started, and we weren't about to stand on the sidewalk any longer with every young girl in town waiting to see OMGHANNAHMONTANA!!!!!!!!!, so we jumped on our internet phones and found ourselves....a mini golf course!!! I cannot believe I've lived in this area for 8 months and had NO IDEA there was a mini golf course just a few miles from our house. A little history: I LOVE MINI GOLF. I am also VERY BAD at it. But it's fun and Marcus humors me when we go on vacation and always finds a course for us to play. It was so much fun to do something goofy like that, leaving our day-to-day business behind and laughing together. I even got a hole in one (miracle of miracles) on hole 17, which earned me a free game! And even though Marcus kicked my butt as far as scoring was concerned, he has let me gloat endlessly about my miraculous hole in one.
I realized recently that a chapter of our lives that I enjoyed very much has come to an end. Marcus and I are both planners. A lot of our early days together were spent talking about where we wanted to end up in our lives. Once we got married, we talked constantly about where we wanted to live, the babies we would someday have and the stable jobs in academia we longed to find. We have now reached the point where we have the baby of our dreams, we're in a town we love and we have the jobs we've always hoped for. We don't daydream about those things anymore. It's a little sad to let that go, but so sweet to have it be our reality. (Gah, with the bad grammar...actually, wait, I think my grammar's ok. Nevermind.) Now our daydreaming revolves around vacations, home-improvement, work-related goals, golden retrievers and sometimes, retirement. We've come a long way from those college students we used to be.
I'm not sure I've ever told my blog audience about the first time I was pretty sure I loved Marcus. We were in college in tiny Ruston, Louisiana, where there is nothing wholesome to do after dark but go to Super Walmart and Huddle House. So, off we went. After stocking up on pasta and ramen, we stopped off in the music section of Walmart to peruse the discount CDs. Marcus picked up a collection of Jose Feliciano covering tunes like "Light My Fire" and "Ain't No Sunshine." When we got into the truck to head to Huddle House for some late-night breakfast action, he popped in the CD. I politely tolerated it. Then, suddenly, I heard the familiar strains of "La Bamba" start. "This might be ok," I thought to myself. Suddenly, Marcus burst into song, singing the lyrics in PERFECT SPANISH. (He doesn't speak Spanish. At. All.) He did his best Mariachi dance while driving and sang the entire song. I almost piddled on my seat, I was laughing so hard. When we arrived at our greasy destination, I asked "How in the world do you know those lyrics?" Apparently, Marcus had sung "La Bamba" as a solo in show choir. SHOW CHOIR. And he had done so wearing a mariachi shirt with RAINBOW SLEEVES. (Please, oh, please, let there be a video of this floating around my mother in law's house...) That same year in show choir, he also sang George Michael's "Father Figure," which I still require him to perform each year on my birthday.
How could I not love this man?
Goofiness makes even the 23rd Street subway stop bearable.
I leave you with some of the most beautiful song lyrics I've ever heard, from a musical I worked on several years ago. Chay Yew wrote The Long Season, a story of a Filippino immigrant coming to Alaska to start a new life for himself. There, he finds and loses love. My favorite song from the show is called "If You Are Not Mine." My favorite line, which very much applies to my own marriage, is this:
You're the one, the one I require
You're the one, my heart's only one desire
You are my one.
You may now close my blog and gag from the sappiness. ;)
Breakfast casserole is a staple here in the deep south. Do people in the north eat these, too? I never saw one while living up north, unless it was made by a southern friend. Down here, these casseroles show up at everything from bridal showers to funerals, church dinners (or breakfasts, haha I'm funny) to pretty much any social event that happens before 11am. (2pm on the weekends) Marcus had a friend in college who made them after late-night parties, but he just really liked sausage a lot.
ANYWAY, this week's recipe was inspired by the fact that I'll be making a couple of these bad boys for a brunch on Tuesday, along with some banana bread and a spinach and mushroom quiche. I told my class at the beginning of the semester that if they all made A's on their arts management projects, I would host a brunch at my house on the day of our final exam review. Talk about incentive!
Here's the recipe I'll be using. You can also do it with bacon, though it tends to be a funny texture after you bake it. I'd recommend ham if you're not a fan of sausage, or you can just leave out the meat!
1 package (roll) sausage
2 cups milk
4 cups grated cheese, flavor of your choice (I use sharp cheddar or colby)
6 slices white bread
Black pepper and salt to taste
Brown sausage as you would ground beef. Butter a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Cut crusts from bread and place bread slices in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle sausage over bread, then sprinkle cheese over sausage. Pour the egg mixture over all. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until eggs are done. Serves 6-8.
Over the years, I've come to realize that I'm a bit of a "rose-colored glasses" person. Part of my job is assuring people that things will get done. For example: "I know our show opens tomorrow, Mr. Director, and that half the set isn't built, but it'll be OK! The crew has it under control!" Then I go and cry in a bathroom stall.
Even in my real life, I tend to paint pictures that are often better than what they really are. "Yeah, I'm a little sick, but I'm fine." (What I said every day of morning sickness when I just wanted to be passed out in the bed or even slung out on the floor of a nice bathroom to vomit in peace.) "Oh, my c-section wasn't THAT bad." Sure it wasn't. Unless, of course, you count the fact that I literally felt like I was sawed in half, didn't get to see my baby for a full 24 hours after he was born and then pulled a muscle in my side that STILL hurts. Not bad at all.
I tell you all this for a reason. Every single time the seasons change, I get nostalgic for places I've lived before. If I mention this to people, they are like "Oh, I bet you really miss New York." And I pull out my stock answer of "Well, sure, it was good to us while we were there, but MONTEVALLO is SOOOOOOOOOOO great and is the PEEEEEERRRRRRRRFECT place for us!" Which is true. I love my new home and wouldn't trade it for the world. It IS the perfect place for us. BUT, I miss my old home(s). I miss watching the leaves change in Ithaca as fall begins. I (rarely) miss the sight of winter's first snowfall and watching the Cornell students sludge their way to class in parkas. I miss Central Park in springtime. I MISS NEW YORK PIZZA. And I'm done apologizing for it. My life is exactly what I want it to be right now. Marcus and I are in a place we've worked to be for years. BUT to get here, we had to be "there." Marcus was so burned out by the time we left NYC that he has just now started to be able to talk about things he misses about living there. He was frustrated with his job, frustrated by our teeny tiny apartment, worried about money. But when I look back, I guess I wear my rose-colored glasses and see the good times.
Some days I wake up and my mind immediately takes me to a location I've been to before. Sometimes it's in NYC, sometimes Ithaca, sometimes Oxford, where my family lives. The smell of someone grilling hamburgers immediately transports me to my mom and dad's patio. Hazelnut coffee immediately reminds me of my favorite bagel shop in Ithaca. Starbuck's lattes take me straight to Lincoln Center. I know that soon enough, I will develop these "sense memories," as we call them in the theatre, based in my new home, Montevallo. But for now, I'm embracing my nostalgia, enjoying thoughts of where I've been and how I got here.
Mooooooooooooooooooooom, I want some New York pizza, too! Is it better than the ones you make for me? I doubt it...
The secretary of our department, Ms. Pam, gave me a University of Montevallo Centennial Cookbook this week. I was thumbing through it this morning and got really excited when I found the recipe for spinach balls! My grandma used to make these every Christmas Eve. They sound weird, but are so, so good. Speaking of spinach, anyone ever had fried spinach? O'Charley's used to have Chicken Florentine on their menu and they served fried spinach with it on the side. My husband recently had it as a side dish at a steakhouse. If anyone's ever made it, let me know how. I imagine it's pretty simple, but am not sure if there are any tricks.
Ok, spinach balls. First off, I recommend using Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix. It's the best-tasting. These are great as appetizers, finger food for parties, a side dish or to sit and eat on your couch while you watch tv. (And better for you than Ruffles chips!) I will always associate these with Christmas, though I'm thinking of making some to go with our dinner either tonight or tomorrow, just because I am now craving them.
1-10oz. package frozen spinach
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cup herb stuffing mix
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Cook spinach as directed on package and drain very well. Add other ingredients and mix well. Form into balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Serve warm.
Mooooooooooooooooom, I'm totally telling Grammy you let me eat berries in her living room while she was in the hospiddle!
PaaaaaaaaaaPaaaaaa, gimme some of your steak!
CARROT CAKE COOKIES
1 box carrot cake mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
Mix well, roll into balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 approximately 15 minutes or until done. Let cool on pan for one minute, then transfer to wire rack. When completely cool, frost bottoms with cream cheese icing and stick together. (Also tasty without icing!) YUM.
Those cookies made my mom quite popular with the nurses. Except for the one who came in and said they looked like poop, which I didn't particularly appreciate.
Moooooooooooooooooooom! Did you see all the neat snacks Grandwillie gave me in my Easter Bucket? Too bad you're such a bad photographer and cut her head outta the picture...
Dean am movie star! I like my Batman glasses. They will look good with my cape.
Dean: No way! Another Easter bucket???
Mommy: Yes!This one is from the Easter Bunny. Mommy and Daddy helped him put it together for you!
Dean: Cool! Hey, how come there's not chocolate in here?
Mommy: Uh, never mind about that...(wipes chocolate smear from lips) Look at this neat moneky puppet! And hey! A new toothbrush!
Moooooooooooooom, I'm gonna be a stagehand on Daaaaaaaaad's show, mkay?
The internet community is an amazing thing. So many of us have "friends" we don't know in person, but to whom we feel so connected because we read their blogs. I have a group of blog friends that I've followed through pregnancy, birth, the first year of parenthood and so much more. We chat in comments. We've become friends on Facebook and followed each other on Twitter. We are often as involved in each others' lives as our "real life" casual acquaintances. I've said it before: the internet community is often a huge comfort, especially for a new parent. There are others there who are going through the same thing you are and may have a word or two of advice just waiting in one of their blog entries, and it's accessible at any time of the day or night.
This week, two members of our community have suffered the most tragic loss imaginable. Heather and Mike Spohr lost their precious daughter Maddie and Shana and Rich Myers lost their baby boy Thalon. I cannot even begin to imagine what these parents are going through. Please join me in sending them lots of love and prayers.
But alas, I am too tired right now (you will soon see why) to give you much more than a brief update. It will come, though, complete with pictures.
I got to Oxford Thursday evening, where Dean and I enjoyed dinner and a fun evening at home with my dad. The next day, I got to spend a good amount of time with my mom in the hospital. Her hip surgery went really well. She was in some PAIN at first, but once she got up and started walking, the pain started to get better. She kept improving and was told she'd be set free today. She was happy because hospital food is very, very bad. I took her some carrot cake cookies yesterday. I'll give you the recipe in the next day or two, since I missed Comfort Food Saturday this week. Yesterday, Dad, Dean and I had dinner at the new and improved Chinese place. Dad gets excited when I'm there and will eat Chinese food with him because Mom's allergic, so she can't go. After that, we tried to do a little shopping, but didn't find anything much, so we headed home. About an hour later, Dad came down with what can only be described as a stomach-bug-food-poisoning-stress-induced phenomenon, which sent him packing to the ER around 9 last night. (BIG shout-out of thanks to my parents' friend, Debra, for taking him to the hospital. I had to stay with Dean. And I can't handle vomit.) It was an eventful weekend! I am so glad I got to go. I needed to see my mom. And she needed cookies. Dean was a perfect gentleman. He was a dream in the car, sleeping most of the way there and home. He got to hang out a lot with my grandma, who we have recently dubbed "Grandwillie" (her first name's Willie), while I was at the hospital with Mom. They had a lovely time together.
Given the fact that Dad got home from the ER around 5:00 this morning (that's 7 hours, for those keeping track of how long he was there), I didn't get much rest last night. And I have a doctor's appointment of my own at 8:15 in the morning, so to bed I go. More soon. I missed you, blog friends.