Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Falafels and King Cake

Sunday night we had some friends from church over for dinner. A few weeks ago Mr. Rochester and I found a mix for Tabbouli salad and another mix for falafels at the store. We made them successfully and enjoyed them together so we thought we would share these delicious items with some friends who had never had falafels before. I thought I would be adventurous and attempt to make some Baba Ghanoush from scratch to spread on the falafels. The recipe seemed to take forever but this it actually turned out okay and I was pretty proud of myself. (I should have taken pictures of everything but by the time I was done cooking, I was exhausted!)

Next, I decided to try making a King Cake from a recipe Mr. Rochester recently found in the newspaper. It turned out to be like one of those Pampered Chef recipes where you use the crescent rolls to make the bread. And I never remember the correct way to position the crescent roll points so Mr. Rochester ended up fixing that for me after I'd already put the filling in and realized the points were all wrong. Mr. Rochester saves the day! Despite his saving the day, our little King Cake turned out kind of sad-looking but I'm going to attempt to make another one someday, this time from SCRATCH!

After the King Cake came out to be so sad looking, I thought, "Oh, I'll try making Nasser's donuts from when I was in Jerusalem--that would be an awesome dessert!" The last few days I'd been really wanting to eat these donuts (which I have never attempted to make before). So, I started on the donuts which were going to take a long time because they have yeast in them and have to rise several times. After I left the donut dough to rise, I began falafel making, unsure if I would have enough energy to actually finish the donuts later.

The falafels weren't supposed to take long at all. It's one of those just-add-water recipes. So, I read the directions and then added the water. Unfortunately, I misread the directions and added way too much water! Luckily, we had another box and Mr. Rochester came in and saved the day AGAIN! He intervened by making the other box (correctly) and frying up some delicious falafels. We were afraid we wouldn't have enough food so I just added a bunch of flour to the falafel mix I had drowned until we had a consistency that was fry-able.

All in all, the dinner went well and I thought it was delicious. Oh, after everyone left, I did end up finishing the donuts. Mr. Rochester came to the rescue again and fried them all up for me and they were delicious...we still have a ton of them too. Donuts, anyone?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reminiscing youth dances...

Saturday, Mr. Rochester and I had the opportunity to chaperone a stake youth dance. Okay, I was given the opportunity because of my calling in Young Women and I made Mr. Rochester go with me, but of course, he didn't mind. It was actually fun to attend because we started remembering our experiences at stake dances and how we used to really look forward to attending them when we were in youth. We even remember dancing with each other!

I think attending stake youth activities was really the highlight of my month when I was a kid. It was so fun to get together with other LDS kids that I only got to see every now and then. I loved dancing at the dances, and even though I know I looked ridiculous, I didn't care. It was just fun to be around friends and have a good time. So, on Saturday Mr. Rochester and I just sat back and watched the interaction between all of the teenagers. It was kind of painful to watch a teenage boy wander around for a bit trying to get up the courage to go and tap a young woman on the shoulder and ask her to dance. We were actually surprised to see that on several occasions, guys were turned down. I don't think I ever turned down anyone unless I was on my way to the bathroom or something. Most of the teenagers we saw slow dancing just looked really stiff and awkward but I'm sure I looked just like that when I was their age!

Times haven't changed too much either when it comes to the music played at church dances. Although the songs played at the youth dance we chaperoned on Saturday night were definitely more modern, we still heard the "Cotton Eyed Joe" song twice, witnessed a familiar Electric Slide line dance, and out of necessity, actually participated in a "Snowball" dance. The "Macarena" dance, however, did not make an appearance.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Valentine's Dance - Funny Story

I forgot to mention this funny story in my post about our Valentine's weekend. While Mr. Rochester and I were attending the dinner/dance at our church, we decided to dance to a few slow songs. The setting was actually kind of romantic--the lights were low and the gym was decorated with plants and little white Christmas lights, Mr. Rochester and I had just eaten a meal that neither of us had to prepare or clean up, and we were slow dancing. I actually don't remember the last time Mr. Rochester and I have slow danced in public--it was probably on our wedding day! Actually, I do remember attending a BYU dance put on by our married student ward shorly after we were married and then we went dancing on our one year anniversary...Well, anyway, since then Mr. Rochester and I have become much more, um....comfortable around each other. On several occasions, we have slow danced by ourselves in our home just because it's a sweet, romantic thing to do and I feel like Mr. Rochester and I are still big on romance. The night of the Valentine's Day dance, Mr. Rochester and I were slow dancing, and I think I just forgot where I was because somehow my hand found it's way from Mr. Rochester's shoulder to squeeze and rest on the seat of his backside while we were dancing at a church dance! He gave me this incredulous I-can't-believe-you just-did-that look and then I burst out laughing because I couldn't believe it either! Soon, we were both just dying laughing in the middle of this slow song with all of these other couples just giving us funny looks. I don't think anyone noticed my little mishap but we sure thought it was funny. So moral of the story, whenever you go to a church dance, remember where you are when you are slow dancing!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Test Number TWO

Yesterday I received an email from the Board of Examiners for the Foreign Service and I have been selected to participate in the next step of the Foreign Service Officer selection process, which is the Oral Assessment! Hooray for me! This means that I have to go to Washington, D.C. sometime between May 4 and June 30 to participate in the Oral Assessment. If any of you are curious what all the Oral Assessment entails, you can click here to get a detailed explanation. I think I'm going to have to read this document many more times before actually going to take the test. When I read the email telling me I was okay to go for the Orals, I got really excited and nervous. For one thing, I never thought I would make it this far in the selection process. Another reason, I don't personally know anyone who has actually passed the oral examinations. So to be perfectly honest, I don't expect to pass but I'm going to try. Reading over some of the sample interview scenarios made me a little apprehensive because these questions are really difficult to answer! I'm excited about making a trip to D.C. and want Mr. Rochester to go with me for moral support although I'm not quite sure how we're going to afford the trip but I'm sure we'll figure it out! Anyway, I can register for the Oral Assessment in March so I'll keep you in the loop. If ANYONE has any advice on taking the Orals, I'd love to know it!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

O Happy Day!

Every day Mr. Rochester drops me off at work in the mornings and picks me up at 5 pm (we only have one car). Our schedule rarely changes. Well, Friday, he was over 10 minutes late picking me up. I wasn't upset, it was just unusual because he's always picked me up right at 5 although once he did lose track of the time and was late getting me. After I got in the car and chattered on a bit about my day, I started to tease him about forgetting me. Without saying much, he gave me this sheepish look that said to me, "I'm sorry, I was taking a break playing a video game and lost track of the time." I just laughed and said something like, "Wow. I bet you got distracted by cleaning the kitchen!"

When we got home, I noticed that Mr. Rochester obviously had not been spending his time on the kitchen, but I didn't really think about what he had been doing all afternoon that would make him a few minutes late coming to get me. Mainly, I was thinking about getting ready for the Valentine's Day dinner/dance being held at our church building in a few hours. Before I could make it to our bedroom to start getting ready, Mr. Rochester rushed ahead of me, closed the door to our bedroom, and told me I couldn't come in until he told me so. After he few moments, he gave me permission to enter and this is what I saw:

Mr. Rochester had spent ALL afternoon putting up curtains, hanging a bed canopy, and hanging pictures (he rushed ahead of me so he could hide the remnants of his work). Ever since we moved last July we've been talking about getting curtains for our bedroom but we kept putting it off. The windows in our bedroom already had blinds but they looked so bare and our neighbors lights always shone in the windows at night. We'd seen the bed canopy before and talked about how fun it would be to get one of those but again, we never got one. He also picked up some flowers for me from the store along with a candle that smells like fresh cut roses. I was just blown away and absolutely loved what he did to our bedroom!

Later that night, we attended the Valentine's Day dinner/dance and had a really nice time. The people who put it together did a great job! The youth were the waiters and dressed in black pants and white dress shirts. One of the youth was even dressed as a maitre d' in a tux and he showed us to our "reserved" tables when we arrived! I say reserved because when I got to my seat, there was an envelope addressed to me from my husband! All the men had previously written notes to their wives and the notes were preset on the tables. Here we are before going to the dance (don't mind the smirk on Mr. Rochester's face--we were having trouble getting a good picture):

The next day, I spent a few hours making heart-shaped sugar cookies for Mr. Rochester while he was at a service project. Although the sugar cookies were a small token compared to our lovely bedroom, they sure seemed to take as long to make! Mr. Rochester is a huge fan of sugar cookies and appreciated my efforts. Here is a picture of some of the cookies:

All in all, we had a great Valentine's Day weekend!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Homemade Egg McMuffins

I don't know why I love these things so much. They are just so delicious and SO easy to make. We made them on Sunday for lunch. I know, it's a breakfast type food but it sure was good for lunch. When we make them, we use whole wheat English muffins, (which we toast) then we cook up some turkey bacon, fry some eggs in the bacon grease, and slap on some American cheese. I know, it doesn't sound like the healthiest thing to eat but every so often, I think it's okay. I think the best part about this dish is the fried eggs. I always make Mr. Rochester cook the eggs because he fries them so well on both sides. If I cook the eggs, I usually end up breaking the yolks and I just love getting the egg yolk good and fried on my little breakfast sandwich. The picture really doesn't do it justice (I'm still learning)!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another success!

Mr. Rochester has been needing a haircut. Since I've already had one positive experience trimming his hair, I offered my services once again. Of course, I also extracted a promise from him that if he didn't like the job I did, he wouldn't get mad at me. I'm a beginner still! After all, this was only the second time that I've cut anyone's hair in my entire life! I think the cut turned out alright. It's definitely not perfect, especially in the back. But I don't think I butchered it and it's not too shabby for only being my second attempt at haircutting. What do you think?

Just for fun!

At first, Mr. Rochester seemed pleased with the cut. However, he's been talking about how he's tired of doing his hair the same way so I'm not sure what's going to happen to his hair next! At first, I wondered if he was saying that because he didn't like my haircutting skills but he reassured me, he's just tired of the style. So far, cutting Mr. Rochester's hair has been a good experience for me. It makes me feel good, like we're being frugal and saving money.

Monday, February 9, 2009

BBQ Ribs

I love southern barbeque but I've never been much of a "ribs" kind of girl. Usually, I order a pulled pork sandwich or loaded potato with pulled pork on it or something like that. Whenever I've tasted or ordered ribs from a southern BBQ place, they are always a little fatty. Oh, I have this weird thing about meat and textures. The texture of fat, gristle, or anything else that isn't a normal "meat" texture grosses me out and I can't eat it. Often when I've tried eating ribs, I just haven't been certain of what I'm biting into. Rib meat, yes, but there are all these "other" textures in there as well. So, mostly, I've steered clear of ribs.

Let me tell you about these ribs I ate that were out of this world. Several months ago, (I figured out how many months--it was last July--and I briefly mentioned the deliciousness of these ribs in a July blog!) Mr. Rochester and I visited our friends Mike & Desiree and Mike made the most fantastic ribs I've ever had in my life. When I first heard we were having ribs that day, I was a little worried that I'd have to nibble on one and just eat whatever sides we had because I was thinking "Gross. Ribs. Fat and gristle." After I nibbled on one, I scarfed down several more and cleaned them to the bone. I'm not really sure what Mike did to the ribs that made them so good--perhaps he is just a professional chef! The ribs weren't fatty and they were cooked to perfection (in my opinion). I think he told me that he used babyback ribs and grilled them for some great length of time basting them periodically in Corky's BBQ sauce. I want to tell you, Mike, I've been thinking about those ribs ever since we ate them at your place 7 months ago. Mr. Rochester can attest to that fact. I think we should have another rib-fest soon because I have not been able to get those delicious ribs out of my head!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ice Storm 2009

We survived last week's ice storm, probably a little too pleasantly. Although we did lose power, we only lost it for a total of 12 hours. I was so happy too because I've decided that I really LOVE electricity, especially in the winter when it is freezing outside! There were a lot of people in this area that lost power for the entire week and some them just got it back this week, so we were very grateful to only have lost power for such a short time. The university closed for 4 days because of the electricity and all of the tree damage. Mr. Rochester and I really enjoyed being home together. We really didn't leave the house for those four days. We slept in, had a Lord of the Rings marathon, and were just lazy most of the time. Here are some pictures we took.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tin Man

Recently, Mr. Rochester and I rented this mini-series from Red Box. We'd heard about it before but I think we'd just forgotten about it until Mr. Rochester saw it at Red Box one day. We were both interested to see this new "take" on the Wizard of Oz. To be honest, I actually liked it. This story is quite different from just the normal story of the Wizard of Oz that most people are familiar with but, of course, it has many parallels to that story. In Tin Man, they never actually use the same names used in the Wizard of Oz the musical. Like, the characters always refer to the Land of Oz as "The O.Z." Mr. Rochester and I thought that probably had something to do with copyright issues. To me, the title of the mini-series was creative but perhaps should have been something different since the series wasn't really all about the Tin Man. Anyway, we enjoyed watching all 4.5 hours of it (and believe it or not, we watched the whole thing in one Friday evening!).

For my birthday last year, Mr. Rochester got me a book that contained all 15 books of the Wizard of Oz. You didn't know there were 15, did you? I didn't either until several years ago. And the Judy Garland musical you grew up watching is only the first one! I haven't been reading the books as faithfully as I'd like to but so far, I have really enjoyed them. They are mainly written for a younger audience. What I don't get is why some movie producer hasn't gone on to create the whole series of the Wizard of Oz movies? Tim Burton, for example, would do a fantastic job with those movies. Again, maybe it all has something to do with copyright issues.