Monday, August 31, 2009

Goldilocks

I've been trying out new pillows the past few months, and I feel like the pickiest woman in the world (which I'm totally not) because it's been impossible to find one that didn't give me a neckache in the morning.

I'd been sleeping on a pretty crappy pillow since we moved into this house. Micah had bought me a Tempur-Pedic Swedish Neck Pillow for my birthday last year, but it just didn't work for me because I'm not a consistent sleeper. I start out on my side, so the neck pillow felt GREAT at first! But in the middle of the night, I switch to sleeping on my stomach, and the neck pillow does NOT work well for stomach sleepers.

So I thought a feather pillow would be perfect.

First, I tried a mid-grade feather pillow. It was waaaaaay too soft. My head went straight through the pillow to the bed, so the pillow seemed fairly useless.

Next, I went for a nicer feather pillow. It was waaaaay too hard(you're understanding the title of my blog post now, right? ;)). I felt like I was sleeping on a brick.

I then decided that I'd try another Tempur-Pedic pillow. I chose the SymphonyPillow, which is supposed to suit all different kinds of sleepers because one side is akin to a standard pillow, (better for side sleepers) and the other is slightly arched (better for back sleepers). It took forever to find one, but it finally came in, and I was supremely disappointed. The foam wasn't soft at ALL! And the elevation was not good at all for stomach sleepers.

After all that searching, I was worried I'd NEVER find a pillow I liked. But I FINALLY found a winner.


The Tempur-Pedic ComfortPillow. It's OH so soft, but firm enough to support my neck. It doesn't have the traditional foam in it. The pillow almost feels FLUID because the little "microcushions" (as TempurPedic calls them) are independently moveable, but you can't feel the individual pieces. It's amazing. I've slept really well the past few nights.

So... Goldilocks finally found a pillow that was JUST RIGHT! Thank goodness... all that shopping was driving me crazy!

Recipe Time!

I found this recipe on a friend of a friend's blog, and I'm excited to share it with you because it was SOOOOOO good and ridiculously easy. Perfect thing for a Sunday afternoon meal.

Creamy Crock Pot Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (trimmed)
2 cups sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 package dried onion soup
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the chicken in the bottom of a Crock Pot. Mix all other ingredients together and pour on top of chicken. Heat in Crock Pot for 8-10 hours. When the chicken gets soft, break it up a little. Serve over rice.

Now, the recipe didn't specify whether to heat on high or low, so I cooked it on high for around 8 hours, just to be safe, and it was perfect.

Definitely don't skip the rice, because that was the best part - pouring the extra sauce all over the rice. It would probably be REALLY good served with some caramelized onions or mushrooms on top (thanks for the suggestion, Lauren!). We just did the chicken and rice, and then I roasted some asparagus, which was a yummy combination.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just a few words of wisdom... not mine

Earlier this summer, my stepmom recommended that I read Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon. With work and moving back to Dallas, I didn't get around to it until last week. But I'm SOOO glad I finally read it.

It's a very moving story about a preacher's journey home after he'd been away for 38 years. I definitely recommend it. But I really wanted to just post a few quotes from the book that stuck out at me and made me think.

First, a quote from Dwight Moody.
"Character is what you are in the dark."
Isn't that clever? I mean, it's SO easy to be good when everyone's watching. It's much harder to do the right thing when no one is there to give you credit for your good decisions or to condemn you for your bad ones. Just something to think about

Second, a very eloquent way of looking at the existence of God.
"Let us weigh the gain and the loss, wagering that God is. Consider these alternatives--if you win, you win all. If you lose, you lose nothing. Do not hesitate, then, to wager that he is."
I love that. I have every faith that there is a loving God who died for me on a cross and whose grace allows me to live a full and satisfying life. But, even if there isn't, I've lost nothing by making my life one of peace and love and forgiveness. And those who don't believe are risking eternal life. I'd bet on my odds over theirs any day.

Lastly, a numerical representation of the wonder of love.
"There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one."
This is SO SO SO true. My life is two thousand times better with Micah in it than it would be without him.

Hope you guys are having a great week, and God bless. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Birthday in San Antonio

I turned 24 on Saturday (yay!), and, to celebrate, Micah and I spent the weekend in San Antonio. We both went when we were kids, but neither of us remember the experience very well. And since I'd spent the past three weeks sitting around doing NOTHING, I wanted to do all the typical touristy stuff while we were there. Here's a rundown of our vacation... and a few pics. :)

Friday
After a teary farewell to Lilly at the doggie hotel, we left Houston around 12:30 and got to San Antonio around 4:00 or so. We checked into our hotel, the Crowne Royal Plaza just north of the Riverwalk, unloaded our stuff, and headed down to the Riverwalk to explore. I loved the Riverwalk, although I'm sure it's MUCH more enjoyable when it isn't 100 degrees outside. I just love water. Period. So we paid for a boatride tour of the Riverwalk, which I think was WELL worth the money. I loved hearing all the historical quirks of the city.

(Random picture of one of the MANY bridges we passed under)

Then we had some Mexican food at the Iron Cactus, which was recommended by the concierge at the hotel. It was pretty good, but I've definitely had better food for cheaper. I'd give it a B+.
After that, I'm ashamed to admit, we came back to the hotel and watched the Cowboys game. Let me rephrase, actually. Micah watched the Cowboys game. I finished reading the last Harry Potter book for the MILLIONTH time. Then we went down to the hotel restaurant and shared some chocolate cake for a late-night (does 9:00 count as late night?) treat.

Saturday
WHEW! Saturday was BUSY! We started out with some Italian food for lunch (which was YUMMY!) and headed to the mall on the Riverwalk, where I made an embarassing purchase. I, Ryan Hargrave, am the owner of a pair of Crocs. You probably can't appreciate the enormity of this revelation. Let's just say that I DETEST Crocs. I absolutely and completely abhor them. But I needed SOMETHING to wear to Schlitterbahn the next day, and I draw the line at watershoes. I just can't do it. So Crocs were the only reasonable alternative. Here's me, a little freaked out that I had just spent $30 on the most detestable shoes on the planet.Anyway, I digress. We bought the awful shoes and went to the IMAX theater to see "Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure" in 3D. Can I just say how AWESOME the IMAX theater is?!? Especially with these cool 3D glasses, which make you feel like sharks are swimming at your face. I definitely jumped back in my seat a few dozen times throughout the movie.



Naturally, we also made a trip to see the Alamo. That was DEFINITELY worth our time. It felt very humbling to be there, and I teared up more than a few times. I'm sure you all know what the Alamo looks like, so I won't post pictures.

After the Alamo, we headed to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, which purported to offer an "African Safari in Texas." Honestly, we weren't disappointed. There were giraffes, zebras, elk, deer, rhinos, ostriches, antelope, and several other kinds of animals I can't remember. The animals roamed free throughout the ranch, so they'd come up to your car and look right in your window. I fed an elk out of my hand (which I wasn't TECHNICALLY supposed to do, but oh well), and we took a ridiculous amount of pictures. Here's one of some really adorable zebras. :)

The tour ended with a petting zoo, which really just had a few baby goats. This guy wanted NOTHING to do with the food in my hand. He went after the whole bag, and I was apparently a little freaked out. :)



After the wildlife ranch, we went back to the hotel and got ready for dinner. It's kind of a tradition for Micah to take me to Benihana for my birthday. He took me there for my birthday on one of our very first dates, and we try to go back when we can. So we went to Benihana on Saturday night. It was SOOOOOO good. Plus we told them it was my birthday, and they brought out some REALLY yummy orange sorbet and did the whole birthday song routine. Always fun. :) Like the night before, we headed to bed early. Although that was definitely a smart move considering our plans for Sunday.

Sunday
On Sunday morning, we got up and headed to Schlitterbahn, a waterpark in New Braunfels (about 30 miles northeast of San Antonio). I hadn't been to a waterpark in YEARS, and I was SOOOOO excited. It definitely did NOT disappoint. Most of the rides were SOOO fun, and the lines weren't bad at all. I got flipped out of my inner tube about a billion times, and I'm pretty sure a substantial number of people saw me lose my swimsuit bottoms. Almost lost the Crocs a few times (although, clearly, I wouldn't have been terribly disppointed about the loss). We didn't get any pictures, though, because I didn't feel like carrying around my waterproof camera.
Although I generally don't feel older after birthdays, I was definitely feeling my age this morning when I woke up to some VERY sore arms and legs. All that flailing about must have taken its toll on my aging body. :)
Sunday night we headed to another Mexican restaurant on the riverwalk. The chips and salsa were GREAT, but the cheese enchiladas we ordered were AWFUL. The tortillas were stale, the chili sauce was definitely off, and it was barely lukewarm. Oh well. It gave us an excuse to grab some dessert afterward: Haagen Daaz ice cream!
After dessert, we headed back to the hotel and hit the sack. That sun wiped us OUT.

And then we headed home this morning. I had a GREAT time in San Antonio, but it was nice to be back. I definitely missed my comfy bed and my adorable puppy. Judging by the reception we got at the doggie hotel, she missed me too, but she definitely missed Micah most. Look at her giving ALL my love away.


So there's a (long) summary of my little mini-vacation. I had a BLAST, and it was just what I needed to get motivated to start school tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm officially a coupon-er

I've been getting into shopping with coupons. Yes, I am the annoying one at the checkout counter with seventy million coupons taking up your precious time. But I'm also saving precious money, and I'm pretty sure that's more important. :)

I've been reading this blog, which posts really great deals! She had a few great ideas for Target this week, and I took advantage.

Here is everything I bought today.


Guess how much I spent on all of it?

$5.41.

And I could have actually gotten it for $3.41, but I accidentally left two $1 coupons at home.

And it doesn't take much time or effort to save all that money. Apparently, there is a KILLING to be made at CVS, and I'm starting to figure all that out too. I'll try to remember to post my finds here. :)

My "Wednesday" Letter

I've been writing Micah a love letter every Monday for about the past month. (I explained why here.) So far, I've been pretty diligent about remembering every week. Every Monday night Micah comes home to a letter on his desk, usually handwritten and sealed in an envelope. This past Monday, things got hectic with school stuff and us buying the truck, and I didn't get to write his letter. Yesterday was similarly busy, and last night we had to go BACK to the dealership to get his temporary license plates.

So here I am, on Wednesday, and he still doesn't have his letter. I think it worked out perfectly, though, because today is the seven year anniversary of the day we started dating. When I agreed to be Micah's girlfriend on August 19, 2002, I had no idea that I was making one of the most profound decisions of my life. I had no idea that seven years later, I'd be married to the love of my life and writing him this "Wednesday Letter."

Micah Lee -

I remember the day you called me, out of the blue, like it was yesterday. It was the summer before my senior year in high school, and I was sitting on my bed next to Courtney Morris, and the phone rang. She answered it, and her mouth dropped open in shock. She handed the phone to me and silently mouthed "It's Micah."

It was honestly one of the most shocking moments of my life. I hadn't spoken to you in a really long time, still bitter about you breaking my heart my freshman year. We still went to church together, but you were so very quiet, and you had just gotten out of a relationship. I had actually kind of forgotten about you. Plus I had a boyfriend, and I just couldn't believe you'd have the nerve to call me knowing he might be there with me. But you did. You asked me if I ever thought about you, and because I'm honest to a fault, I told you that I really didn't.

But you were on a mission. And you called me the next day. And the next. Until you became one of my favorite people to be around, and I wondered how I could feel so strongly about someone when I already had a boyfriend I was supposed to be crazy about. And then my relationship fell apart, and you were there to pick up the pieces, and I started to realize that I couldn't live without you.

And on August 19, 2002 you asked me to be your girlfriend when we were driving around on backroads in your old white Chevy. And I said yes.

It wasn't long before we were saying "I love you" and making plans for the future. Plans I'm sure no one thought we'd ever follow through with because we were just kids and because high school sweethearts almost never last. Almost never.

Now it's seven years later, and I'm sitting in the house we own together, wearing the ring you put on my finger eight months ago, writing you a letter. I just wanted to remind you of that wonderful day and how happy I am that you called me. It was the beginning of my very favorite love story. Ours.

Love,
Ryan




Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Impulse Purchase...

Micah's been whining about this vibration in his truck for awhile now. And he also hated that it wasn't a full crew cab, just a cab and a half. Plus, his power steering fluid was leaking, which was going to cost between $400 and $500 to fix. AND, since this economy presents the perfect opportunity to get a great deal from desperate car dealers, he's been looking around at trucks on the internet.

He found one he wanted to go check out. "Just to look," he told me. I was kind of surprised that it was a Chevy, since he's been driving a Ford for the past three years. But I was secretly excited because he drove a Chevy when we started dating, and I'm definitely a Chevy truck girl (even though I drive a silly Ford).

We get there to check it out, and it's love at first sight. Micah couldn't stop grinning, and I was actually pretty impressed, too. It's clean as a whistle, the engine looks great, and it's decked out on the inside -- the nicest truck model Chevy makes. The price looks good, but it's still too much for us. So I say as much to the dealer, and he tells us that he'll make us a deal.

So we go inside and negotiate (my skills as a law student came in handy, I think). After the salesman makes about three trips back and forth from his manager's office, we finally get them down to payments we can afford (not much more than Micah had been paying before) and a lower interest rate than what Micah had on his other truck.

And then we signed the papers and became the owners of this pretty truck!


It's a 2007, and it's SO pretty. Check out the inside. Pretty snazzy for a Chevy. :)



And it's definitely got the comfiest seats of all the trucks Micah's had (four and counting :)).

We've GOT to stop making impulse purchases, though. This past year, we have bought a new TV, a very expensive mattress, and now this truck. I'm pretty sure that's going to have to be it for 2009. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Something sweet...


One of my very favorite things to do is to bake. Almost every Sunday, after Micah and I get home from church, I get the urge to get out my KitchenAid mixer and bake something sweet. Today it was a homemade chocolate chip cookie cake with homemade buttercream frosting. (And let me tell you, the frosting is perfection. I could drink it, but I resist the urge.)

I'm not sure why I prefer baking to cooking. Or why I get ridiculously happy when I get to refill all of my baking canisters with fresh flour and sugar.

But I'm pretty sure it's in my genes. My aunts and grandma are bakers, too. They can make some of the most delicious desserts imaginable, and even when I was little I recognized the pure joy they got from baking yummy goodies and watching everyone scoop their creations up at family gatherings. Before I got married, I could get by at holidays by just bring something simple, like fruit salad, or nothing at all. Now that I'm practically a grown up, it looks like the pressure's on for me to keep up the tradition.

So look out everyone! I'll be trying my hand at a yummy treat this Thanksgiving. But no pies. I don't really like pie. :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Like Mother, Like... Puppy??

If you had seen me anytime during my childhood, you would have noticed two things right away: (1) I sucked my thumb with no shame and (2) I carried a raggedy, white blankie everywhere I went.


I eventually quit sucking my thumb (thank goodness!), but I carried that blanket until the satin lining was all that was all that remained. I'm pretty sure my mom still has the lining somewhere. :)

So when I came home after spending the summer in Dallas and away from Micah and Lilly to find that Lilly had taken a liking to an old blanket we had lying around, I thought it was hilarious. This dog LOOOOVES her blankie. She carries it everywhere. She sleeps on it. She plays with it.

And the wear and tear is starting to show. But I'm pretty sure I'll let her play with until she tears it to pieces. It's just too cute.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I have the BEST husband...

Since I'm not doing anything during the next three weeks before school starts, I get to sleep in every day. It's glorious! Today was even better, though, because Micah left me this note before he left for work.


Isn't he wonderful??

Super-Dog

So one of Micah's favorite thing to do with Lilly is play frisbee. We bought one at target a few weeks back and made the mistake of letting Lilly "play" with it. (In other words, she demolished it in less than 10 minutes). So we bought another one and keep it out of her reach when we're not playing with it. So I thought I'd share a little video of my amazing puppy (and a couple of pictures, as well). :)

It normally takes her a few minutes to get warmed up, but then she's pretty good and catches almost everything.


video

After we came inside... she just wanted to REST! :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Home is where the heart is...

I'm FINALLY back in Houston for the remainder of the summer. I finished working on Friday around noon, ate lunch with some of the other summer associates for the last time, got my car loaded to the brim (thanks to my Dad), and got on the road to Houston as soon as I could.

The drive went just fine. Fluffy just slept in my lap most of the way, and I was jamming out with my iPod at maximum volume.

But the feeling I got driving into Houston and into my garage was just... indescribable. It's so strange, because I definitely consider Josephine to be "home." It's where I grew up... my family is there... Micah's family is there. But if home is where the heart is, then my home is wherever Micah is. I've always said that Micah and I could live in a cardboard box, and I'd be happy as long as we're together. And it's true. As hard as it has been to be away from everyone these past two years while I've been in law school, this summer has been even harder being away from Micah. But now I'm home with Micah, and life can get back to normal. :)

One other thing. Have I written about the book I read this summer called "The Wednesday Letters"? It was really a wonderful book, and I got a great idea from it. The book centers around a couple who had been married for 30-40 years. On the day they got married, the husband promised to write his wife a letter each week for as long as they lived, and he did. The book starts with the couple's death, and the story unfolds as their children read all of the letters. Anyway, so, as I'm sure you can guess, I've started writing Micah a letter each week. Except I write my letters on Monday instead of Wednesday. It gives me something to look forward to each Monday. Speaking of... I've actually got to write his letter before he gets home tonight. :)
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