Monday, November 11, 2013

another "cumplemes"

We have a tradition at our house.

(Note: I love being able to say that. I think every family should have lots of traditions. They're just repeated moments of meaning and fun and goodness. The repetition aids memory, and I want Chris and I -- and our someday kiddos -- to look back on our life together as a really, really good thing.)

That tradition is to celebrate our cumplemes. That's our "month-iversary," except that we've adopted the much tider Spanish translation.

So on the eleventh of every month, we have some form of ice cream and some sort of pizza, and we make sure to spend it together. I've cancelled plans at least once because I realized that it was our cumplemes, and there was no way I was going to miss out on that special bit of one-on-one time with my husband.

Well, today is our cumplemes, independent of the fact that we are both fighting off colds and deadlines. We ordered this pizza....

Chicago style, baby!
ate some of this ice cream....

how much of it we ate is not open for discussion...
and hung out on this couch....

a better look at the pattern on the ottoman and pillows 
because we have spent the day coughing and schlumping in PJs, two things that are discouraged in places of any greater respectability.

Happy 15 months, Chris. Even when we're sick, being married to you is something worth celebrating.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

chiles rellanos casserole

Chris and I have been eating vegetarian dinners every other day for about a month and a half now. I love how much more cheaply we eat, how light the meals are, how much variety we have in our meals, and how creative I have to get to keep it that way!

I made this recipe tonight for the first time and we all raved about it. The original recipe can be found here, but I made enough alterations that I thought I'd post my own version, too.

1/2 pound fresh poblano peppers
1/2 pound fresh anaheim peppers
1 1/2 cup colby jack cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon chipotle pepper

1) Preheat oven to 450; grease a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.
2) Quarter peppers, then remove stems, seeds, and veins. Immerse in boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain and allow to dry a bit on paper towels.
3) Place peppers, cut side up, in the baking dish, and top with cheeses. It's okay to layer if you have too many peppers for the surface of your pan.
4) In medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Pour egg mixture over peppers.
5) Bake, uncovered for 15 minutes or until egg mixture is cooked through (test with a knife or toothpick.) Let stand for 5 minutes before serving with corn tortillas and a salad.

SO YUMMY. My word.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

happy halloween

Some pretty crazy things happen when you invite the missionaries over for Halloween.

In all seriousness though, it was a fantastic experience. We had two sets of elders over for dinner, then the sisters came over after they finished their dinner appointment. Everyone got their own hat to wear, but two of the missionaries surprised everyone with headgear of their own. One of them was the above wig -- very punk-rocker Ariel if you ask me. The other was a chicken. Not a fluffy, feathery chicken, but like a chicken you're going to cook, and then decided to put it on your head.

I love these people more than I can say.

The lot of us played Dixit and Bananagrams while we shared candy and snacks and even a veggie-and-cheese tray from yours truly. We even had one trick-or-treater despite the pouring down rain. My friend Deidra brought over her toddler, who knows every single one of the missionaries (and me) by name. There's just something unspeakably adorable about hearing a 3-year-old say, "Mommy, that's Sawa!" Not to mention "Ewder Melchior" and the rest.

As soon as they left, I almost turned to Chris. "Babe, can we do this every year?"

And I think he would have said yes.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

la viaje a Nauvoo

Last weekend, Chris had to work. Nothing really new there. 

What was new, however, was that the Spanish branch asked me to come with them to Nauvoo. Two families were getting sealed and several members were receiving their endowments, and the whole branch decided to make a big trip of it.

I didn't mind driving and was excited about the prospect of going to Nauvoo. I've only been there once, but that was a "get there, go to a wedding, eat dinner, drive home again" sort of thing for Josh and Katie's wedding. Delightful, but not very touristy. The branch promised that we'd see Carthage as well as go on a carriage ride specifically meant for sightseeing around the Church historic sites. I was totally game.

My one request, however, was that I have someone in the car who could speak passable English. My Spanish speaking skills are tolerable at best, and my listening skills...well, let's just say they have a long way to go. So I ended up with Yali, who is a few years younger than me, along with her toddler and baby. 

Early in the trip, the toddler declared she needed to go to the bathroom. So I pulled off, breaking from the caravan of cars, and we found a place to stop.

Shortly thereafter, I received a phone call. "Hermana Hagmann, esta bien?" 

"Si! La niña necesite el baño, pero esta bien. Yo tengo direcciones," I assured her, grasping my printed directions a little more firmly in my hand.

"Oh...okay, bueno."

"Pero gracias, hermana."

"Claro. Vemos pronto."

"Si. Ciao!"

As soon as I hung up, the phone rang again. It was Teandra, my fellow native-English-speaker friend in the branch. That conversation was comically similar.

"Hey Sara! You okay? I saw you pull off on the exit."

"Yep, we're great! Yali's little girl just needed to use the bathroom. No worries though, I have directions." 

", okay. Just checkin'!" 

"And I appreciate that! We'll try to catch up, but no big deal. See you there."

"Okay. Bye!"

Yeah stinkin' right. Thank goodness Yali's mom let her borrow the smartphone, or we'd still be out there, wandering the highways of rural Illinois. We finally got there almost two hours after everyone else, which also happened to be when they were leaving Carthage. I held it together pretty well until everyone wandered out of my car. Then I called my husband for a good cry. Turns out that the idea was that we'd call up to the lead car and let them know we needed to stop, and then the whole caravan would take a break, no big deal. I guess I missed that part!

Beyond that hiccup, it was a lovely trip. I hung out with Teandra and her husband (and their sweet baby!) and feel like that friendship was definitely strengthened. I can also sense a more warm and generalized acceptance from the branch. I'm so grateful they're persistent with their invitations. I think I'll have to go to more things in the future.

It was also fascinating how different it was to do temple work in another language. I could focus on such different things as a result, and it was a wonderfully spiritual experience. 

Moral of the story? You can't get that lost if you're on the way to the temple.

Friday, November 1, 2013

alone but not lonesome

Chris is not at home today. Currently, he's off in Ohio somewhere with his advisor, checking out a real-life warehouse and thinking of ways to make it more efficient. Or something. I dropped him off at 6 this morning and promptly went back to bed. He probably won't be back until midnight.

So I've been keeping myself company today. I just came in from a delightful dusky autumn walk to the library and back. Since I was going by myself, I brought along my iPod for company, to fill in any lonely blanks of my walk with some music. I also brought along my phone, mostly because I'm a girl walking by herself alone. It just seemed like the smart thing to do, much like carrying my keys in my fist, weapon like.

I failed to take into account, however, just how many pictures I would want to take on my walk. Someday I'll remember this, and have my camera at the ready, but in the meantime, my phone and I are unlikely pals in my adventures. (Some peoples phones are better for pictures than my camera. My phone is not of this camp.)

Wouldn't you know, three or four pictures and three or four blocks later, my phone informed me that it was out of space for the gorgeous and interesting photo-ops all around me. I grumbled internally, slowing my pace to frown at my phone. What on earth is on here, anyway?

So on my walk, I alternated between deleting (or gawking at) pictures and taking new ones. And sometimes I'd just stop and look, a grin spreading across my face and my eyes going wide.

we live near the historic district, so there's all sorts of details like this!
I was born in the autumn, and I take pride in that. I love cool weather and bright colors and warm drinks and school supplies and probably anything else you can think of that is associated with the fall. I've always wondered if it's a bit morbid to love the time of year when the year itself is dying, but maybe I just have a morbid streak, running deep.

Even with that deep-seated adoration of all things autumn, going through all those pictures ended up being one of the sweeter parts of my walk. There were several pictures of toddlers I've babysat, and a couple of stunning scenery and architecture pictures I'd forgotten I'd taken. And there were so many random little snapshots I'd sent to Chris, mundane little updates on our life together.

my favorite picture from the walk
By the time my two-mile round trip was ending, I was fill to the brim with love for this life of mine. I love that I have someone to send happy, quirky little pictures to, and eyes that find beautiful things everywhere, whether babies or trees or buildings. Today, I just loved being me.

It could have been a desperately lonely day, honestly. Having Chris around just makes everything in my life calmer and sweeter. But instead I wrote for a long time. Then, when it got too quiet, I played the piano. Then, when I got too restless, I went for a walk. Next, I might read, or practice Spanish, or tidy up the bedroom a little bit. It doesn't really matter what. My life is filled with important, special, beautiful things, and I am so grateful for that.

Being alone can be a terrible burden. But sometimes, it's a unique and distinct form of pleasure, too.