Tuesday, October 23, 2012

that question, two years ago

thank you for asking that question two years ago, baby.......what an adventure it's been!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

chipotle pork recipe

i had a dilemma - mike had told me recently that he was not a fan of the salsa i usually buy.  it is no problem to switch to a different brand, but i had an unopened container left.  throw it out, eat it all myself, continue to serve mike something he doesn't like.....none of these ideas appealed to me.  what to do??

the flavor of my go-to pork recipe relies heavily on the salsa used.......so at first, i thought that recipe was out.  thankfully, there's no law against taking liberty with recipes - i tweaked what i usually do, and mike really enjoyed it - in spite of the salsa!  actually, the salsa deteriorates entirely in this recipe, so you really don't taste it at all.  the recipe is below, with notes following:

chipotle pork

4 pork chops
3/4 cup of salsa
2 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
2 1/2 tsp cumin
3 cups black beans (pre-cooked or canned)
1 1/2 cups frozen corn (optional)
cooked rice
sour cream (optional)

- lay the pork chops in the bottom of your crockpot - i put mine in while they were still frozen.
- dust the chipotle powder and cumin over the pork, then pour the salsa on top.
- cook on low for ~8 hours.
- shred pork with a fork (mine fell apart at this point), then add the beans and corn. i also added ~1/2 cup of water, as i wanted a little bit of sauce.
- once the beans are warmed through, serve over rice, with sour cream.

- i believe i used 7 pork chops instead of 4......mike was in heaven, having such a meat-heavy meal! however, if i were making again, i really don't think it needs quite that many.
- similarly, i used fewer beans than listed above - i cook and freeze our beans in bulk, and used half a freezer bag because a whole one seemed like too much. if making again, i would use the amount listed above since i feel like we could have had more.
- we didn't use corn or sour cream, but i think they would have complemented this nicely. we DID, however, pair it with yuengling, which added a nice touch. ;-)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Rome, Part 1

our trip finally came!  and, it's already past!  let's relive through the pictures.  :-D  mike and i went on a mediterranean cruise with my family and some close friends - it had been my parents dream and goal for years and years to take their kids to europe, and this was the realization of it.  we are SO, so blessed!!!

our boat left rome on sunday 9/22, sailed around the mediterranean, and returned the following sunday.  the majority of the group left the US friday, to arrive in rome saturday morning.  mike and i wanted a little bit extra time there (i mean, how often do you go to rome??), so we flew out on thursday, and had a day before everyone else arrived.  here's the pictures from that "just us" portion of our stay in rome:

 we flew from baltimore, to NYC, to rome.  sadly, our flight in NYC was delayed by 3 hours - which in turn, meant that our bus tickets from the rome airport to our hotel expired.  we had an upside down time getting euros to buy new tickets, locating the new bus, and then walking to our hotel.  we were tired, hungry, fussing at each other, and more focused on our messy logistics than our scenery.  not everything in the trip can be storybook happiness, right?  :-)

but we made it!!  i believe it was about 3pm at that point - we dumped our bags, asked for the nearest grocery store (the lady at the front desk was shocked that we were asking for a grocery store rather than restaurant or historic site), and headed out.  during my class in italy during college, my friends and i would go to the grocery store after touring all day, to stock up in bread, cheese, and wine, and bring it back to our room to feast.  mike was down with honoring this tradition, except that the champagne and olives begged to be added to our loot.  ;-)

rejuvenated by  food and champagne, and once again happy to be married to each other, we changed into our least tourist'y clothes, and set out!  here are pictures we took during our walk:

(i knelt in the alley to take this one, while mike teased me that my clothes may not proclaim me to be a tourist, but my actions certainly did!)

mike quickly got used to the layout of rome, but i did not.  however, this fountain kept coming up during our walks, sticking in my memory in the midst of many notable sites - partly because he's a memorable looking guy, and partly because seeing him meant an end to the sidewalk!  ;-)

i couldn't get enough of the way the streets looked, slanting down and down - i wish the camera could have captured the feel!  i felt like we were walking from one painting to another. 

he was definitely the most attractive italian in the city - i'd suspected this before, but was glad to have it proved. ;-)  and i think it's funny that my vehicle love (smart car) is behind me, with mike's vehicle love (motorcycle) behind him.

there were rooftop gardens all over.

here we are, at the top of the spanish steps, looking out.

like tons of other tourists, we sat on the steps, and rested our feet, of course documenting our view again.
and documenting our sore feet.

rome, with my husband, with his hand over mine, on the spanish steps.  i closed my eyes and tried to memorize the feeling of that moment.

i love him, so dearly.

we were interrupted several times by guys trying to sell us roses - their method didn't win mike over.  they would try to hand me a rose, telling me i was beautiful, or that they loved me, and then if i took it, they would whisper the price to mike.  mike indignantly said that if another man has the audacity to give his wife a flower, the least he could do is foot the cost himself.  sadly, they cut our romantic enjoyment short, so we wandered down, and took this picture looking back up the crowded, crowded steps.

trevi fountain!!!  we got some gelato, and worked our way around the crowds.

we spotted one guy in the hotel next to the fountain, chilling on his balcony and crowd watching.  given how packed it was that night, it seemed like that was only way to get a clear view!  however, mike seems to have caught some great pictures - the lights in the water really highlighted the different levels of the fountain.

sleepy faces in front of the fountain.

different angle, though sadly still very little of the fountain.

there!!!  third time's the charm.  

after the trevi fountain, we pretty much raced back to our hotel.  i remember lying in bed, looking at the clock in our room, and trying to do the math to figure out what time our bodies thought it was, before passing out.

we woke up fairly early, in a hurry to maximize our time.  i love the next set of pictures because it was so much less crowded early saturday morning than friday evening had been.

we stopped into an illy bar (similar to our starbucks - they're everywhere) after wandering for a while.  we'd strayed away from the tourist sites far enough, that the owner of this illy was pretty surprised to see americans wander in.  he was busy making drinks for 2-3 other guys when we came in, all of them talking quickly to each other.  mike and i each ordered a cappuccino, and settled into a table in the back, enjoying the morning feel.  we were in ROME!!!  there was no hurry to rush this, or any other experience!!

after the owner brought over the drinks, he so far forgot that we were there, that he took down his secret money stash to lend some to his friend - they both whirled to face me mid-transaction, which made me burst out laughing.  it's ok, guys - we are much more interested in savoring your coffee than in taking notes of how to rob you!  ;-)  

now, bear with me here.  you know how complacent pigeons look as they wander around parks?  it has long been on my bucket list to give one a firm nudge with my foot.  my friend reka warned me before we left to NOT kick any roman pigeons, as the italians would definitely take it the wrong way.  after we finished our cappuccinos, we went back to the spanish steps, and i saw this self-complacent chubster.  reka, i heeded your words, and this picture is the closest i got to this guy!!

remember the picture from this spot the night before?  i'm so glad we came back the next morning - look at how BEAUTIFUL the steps are when you can see them!!!

some other tourists asked us to take they picture in front of the steps, so we asked them to return the favor.  any chance to hold each other tight!

more pictures from our wandering:

our group was supposed to arrive ~11:30 a.m., so we eventually headed back to the hotel.  naturally, we felt it was time for another cappuccino.  we had a few postcards to write, too - one to mike's parents, one to his coworker who collects postcards, and one to each other.  we wished that we had brought more addresses along!!

another roof top garden view, snapped while sipping my drink, before we hurried back to the hotel to await the rest of the cruise crew.

in the next post, i'll share our saturday afternoon and sunday morning jaunts.  it's lovely to remember all these moments again - thank you for your interest in us!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

what if it does?

i saw a lovely quote on pinterest, and thought it was worth sharing here:

"It is a risk to love.
What if it doesn't work out?
Ah, but what if it does."
~Peter McWilliams

i loved this quote because it shows the theme of many conversations through mike's and my dating relationship - featuring me, full of pessimistic what-ifs at every turn, and mike, full of faith that heart-break wasn't a given.  i am such a rich woman to have him, and am so grateful for the ways God has allowed "us" to work out.

(hahaha - i just glanced at the date, as of today, we've been married 16 months! time flies!)

and yes, i know, what you really want to see and hear about is the mediterranean trip!!  :-)  soon, i promise.  hopefully, we'll upload the pictures this weekend, and i'll start posting them here on the blog next week.  hopefully!!  in the mean time, below is a picture taken by anita on mt. etna, which was arguably the highlight of the trip for me....thank you for capturing this, anita!!!