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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

On this day, a certain number of years ago (I'm not telling!), my mother was born.  Today I'd like to celebrate everything she is to me and to the rest of the people she loves and who loves her.  Mom, you've been there for me through practically everything, and I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart that you are still willing to put up with me and the rest of us kids after all we've put you through!  I love you, and I hope you have a fantastic birthday!!

Picture of my mommy and me, taken by KL

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Spicy Chicken Tenders

For some reason, I suck at taking pictures when I'm cooking.  I guess I'm just too busy fluttering around the kitchen to bother actually getting a camera out.  I think I'll need to change this behavior in the future, but for now, you're stuck with a crappy "after" picture (after meaning after Mr. L already raided the goodies to take for dinner).

So today I made a modified version of Giada de Laurentiis's Spicy Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard.  Basically, I nixed the honey mustard since Mr. L isn't a fan, and I added a bit more flavor to the cornmeal breading mixture the recipe calls for.  Here goes!



Ingredients
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (I actually just used leftover frozen chicken breasts)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
Breading Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a heavy baking sheet liberally with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.

Breading: In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and 1 tablespoon salt. In a second medium bowl, whisk together the eggs (here it calls for hot sauce, but since Mr. L's hot sauce from his bachelor days was going on two years old, I had to chunk it).  In a third medium bowl, mix together the cornmeal, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika and cayenne pepper, and add salt and pepper if desired. Dredge the chicken in the flour and then into the egg mixture. Allow any excess egg mixture to drip off and coat the chicken in the cornmeal mixture. Arrange the breaded chicken in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, to taste. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 15 to 17 minutes.

So our additions were garlic powder, paprika, no hot sauce, some black pepper, and a little more salt than the recipe calls for.  All in all, it was spicy enough for me as it was, and I'm glad I didn't add the hot sauce.  But that is purely a personal preference since I'm not too fond of a lot of heat in my food.  I definitely enjoyed cooking them, and I hope you do too if you decide to give it a whirl!

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mmm, fish.

So I tried a new recipe today while I was determining what to make for Mr. L's take-to-work dinner.  His new schedule, eves, is pretty meh, but I'm getting used to it, I suppose.  I found a recipe for "Fish in Foil", and I ended up altering it just a tad to suit my tastes.

Fish in Foil
(modified for two people, original recipe found here)

Yummy!

Ingredients
  • 2 fish fillets (of your choice)
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic salt
  • Black pepper
  • Dill weed
  • Sliced green onions
  • Lemon juice/slices
Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and pull out enough aluminum foil to make two packets.  Place the fish in each packet and rub with olive oil, garlic salt, black pepper, and dill weed.  Squeeze lemon juice on the fish, add the lemon slices and green onions, and seal up the packets.  Bake in oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the fish fillets.  Serve with side dishes of your choice (I went with rice and corn, staples in Mr. L's diet) and enjoy!

The cleanup was SO easy.  I love foil recipes!  I'll post Mr. L's verdict later...I'm thinking I needed to be a little bit more liberal with my seasoning, so we'll see :)  And obviously, since it's an easily interchangeable recipe, alter to your tastes!

VERDICT:  "It was very tender with a distinct, zesty lemon taste.  Delicious, two thumbs up!" - Mr. L

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yay Tradition! ...Wait, what?

Over the past year or so I've done my fair share of reading wedding blogs, forums, and other sites dealing with this massive industry.  Lately I've realized, now that I'm already married, I don't read them for new and awesome ideas anymore.  Why do I keep going back?  Probably because wedding forums are about more than the new way to present a guest book or the best earrings to wear with your dress -- they're also about relationships, the bread and butter of marriage.

I find people fascinating, particularly when it comes to cultural/societal norms and how these norms change over time. (I was a Sociology minor, what can I say!)  I love to examine human behavior, and it is so interesting (to me at least!) how sometimes these behaviors clash between the traditional and non-traditional.
I'm an avid reader of Weddingbee (by avid I mean daily, even now, 57 days after the wedding!) and I recently came across a post written by a woman under the moniker of Miss Octopus (the post can be found here).  At first, I mulled through her words, nodding to myself and understanding her frustration.  In a nutshell, Miss Octopus wrote that she enjoys the control that she is normally able to establish over her life, but when it came to getting engaged, she realized she literally had no control over the situation since traditionally, it is the man's responsibility to propose to the woman, and she wanted a traditional proposal.

At that point in time, I didn't really have much to add -- I kept on reading other posts by other Bees as is my usual routine.  But today, I stumbled upon a particular post on the Weddingbee forums (found here) and it really got the gears turning in my head.  Why exactly do we (as in women) feel so compelled to honor this tradition?

I am not going to lie -- I was most definitely in this same position in the months before Mr. L's proposal.  I saw other friends getting engaged, and I was upset.  Every time I read that someone on Facebook had gotten engaged (and it happened a LOT!), I'd mention it to him, and we'd end up in an argument.  It wasn't exactly pretty.  But this post isn't about my behavior, Miss Octopus's behavior, or anyone else's.  I'm merely asking the question, why?

I like to think that in the past few decades, women have moved forward and made lots of progress in the department of independence.  It's normal now (and actually preferred!) that a woman be strong, secure, and independent in her life, particularly in the area of employment.  However, things remain pretty shady when it comes to relationships.

The wedding world is filled with an incredible amount of rather strict traditions that demand a proper way of "getting married."  For instance, as I was catching up with two old friends at dinner tonight, the topic of engagements came up.  One of my friends is on the verge of getting married, with her boyfriend already saying they are engaged, but at the moment she lacks an engagement ring and a "real" proposal.  We agreed with her that the ring and the proposal together are very important steps her boyfriend needed to make happen if they were going to take this commitment seriously.  This situation is remarkably similar to Miss Octopus's, and it goes back to a woman waiting for a man to assert control over said woman's life.  Why do we do this?

Honestly, why can't the woman proposing to the man be a viable option?  To a lot of guys (my husband included), the thought of a woman proposing is quite laughable.  There was a point in our relationship where I seriously asked Mr. L what he would do if I honest-to-God proposed to him (this was during the few months I was a little nuts before he actually did propose, but I was completely serious about the proposition).  He looked at me like I was crazy and laughed it off.  Why is this laughable?  Why can't a woman proposing to a man be a serious consideration?

Take me seriously, dangit!
I will admit that I say this with a bit of generalization.  It would help to explain more about the area in which I live -- the South.  Oh yes, the Bible Belt.  Specific "traditional" traditions and guidelines and rules that absolutely must be abided by.  Obviously, one of these traditions include the man taking the reigns of the proposal, so I am surrounded by people who are incredibly strict about honoring these particular traditions, whether they realize it or not.

I suppose we can chalk it up to our "traditional" attitudes not yet catching up with our "liberal" lifestyles.  We've made so many advancements in so many areas of a woman's world and opened up completely new doors that didn't exist before.  But we're now dealing with a lag of human attitude -- people simply don't change their beliefs as quickly as society changes and develops.

I just hope that relatively soon, people will change their attitudes on this topic, because quite honestly I don't like this it one bit.  I don't like the way it reduces women to "crazies" who freak out about engagements and marriage when they feel like they aren't getting commitment due to a lack of proposal.  I don't like the way it generalizes that women are overly emotional and therefore irrational.  Miss Octopus wrote, "I mean, in my defense, I had been fully 100% on board and waiting for marriage for nearly a year at that point, but for God’s sake. Would you want to propose to someone who cried, and hassled, and (cringe, again) yelled at you about it? Would anyone?"

The consensus in the comments of her post made me realize how widespread these feelings of craziness are among women of the "almost engaged" variety, and honestly, how sad it is.  Women should be able to take control of this area of their lives, regardless of what tradition states is appropriate or inappropriate, instead of waiting on their boyfriends to get around to it.  I hope a new tradition of a person of any gender proposing in a relationship will begin.  And I applaud not only all of the women who have taken the initiative and proposed to their significant others, but also all of the men happily willing to accept those proposals as reality, and all of the loved ones who honored the commitment and rejoiced in the couple's happiness.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I've Got the Fever.

I'm just going to come out with it.

I've been consumed -- I'm overcome with Puppy Fever.

It's SO STINKIN' CUTE!
I'm convinced that it accompanies immediate life after the wedding.  I seriously just cannot help myself.  I browse Petfinder.com like crazy, and I'm constantly in the hunt for breeders on Google.  Gah, what is wrong with me?!

I've theorized that it's probably because Mr. L and I are nowhere near ready to start a family that involves actual children, but at the same time, I'm having an urge to nest.  Unfortunately we just can't afford a dog right now (or the two dogs that I would much rather prefer), and we've estimated that we probably shouldn't get one until the start of the new year.  I'm just hoping I can hold out until that long!

Anyways, even if we can't get a dog or two now, we can still daydream about it!  Well, I think I'm doing most of the daydreaming, but regardless, we have a couple of breeds in mind.  Our guidelines are kind of strict, meaning that whatever we get, it must be a low-to-no shedder.  My poodles have utterly spoiled me in that department, and I would so prefer not to have to worry about dog hair.

So the two breeds in the forefront of our minds at the moment are the Miniature Schnauzer (or Standard Schnauzer, depending), as pictured above, as well as the Italian Greyhound:

I'm so in love!
The Miniature Schnauzer is Mr. L's clear favorite, and I think they're so cute.  But I also love the Italian Greyhound breed as well.  Unfortunately the closest IG rescue to us is in Missouri.  However, the closest Schnauzer rescue is actually about 3 1/2 hours from us in Birmingham, AL, so there's a great opportunity!

I guess it will come down to which dog will be available for which price at the right time.  Until then, I suppose I can get my fix scouring the internet for breeders and rescue operations...<twitches>

Post-Wedding Review

I loved my wedding day.


It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by such love, not only from Mr. L, but from our entire families and our friends, and I will always hold wonderful memories from this special day.  Everyone (seemed) to have a good time, and to me, that's what mattered the most, aside from the whole marrying my best friend thing :)  It did not go exactly "as planned" or "just as scheduled", as of course is the norm in the wedding world, but in my eyes, it was beautifully perfect.

This is not to say that there are things I wouldn't change.  I suppose in these areas is where I have a tinge of wedding regret.  My photographer was the main one.  He was so unfriendly on my day of, and literally threw a temper tantrum in front of Mr. L and me during our family/couple pictures.  I will never do business with that man again for as long as I live.  So I do regret that I didn't do my homework better and pick a completely awesome photographer whose personality clicked with mine.

Otherwise, honestly...I don't believe I would have changed a thing.  Except maybe get a better quality bridesmaid's dress for my matron of honor since her dress's zipper completely jammed up and failed miserably to do the only thing it was made to do -- zip.  Why couldn't I have discovered J. Crew a few months before the wedding, ahh!  But regardless of that tiny mishap, it was a beautiful, albeit warm, spring day that I love to relive over and over in our wedding video :)

So here's a full vendor review:

Venue: Kirk House and Gardens -- http://www.kirkgarden.com/

Lovely location, and the owner (Ms. Ruth) was an incredibly accommodating, sweet person who never seemed to be fazed by my mother's million questions.  A




Photographer: J. Havard Photography -- http://www.jhavard.com/

Although he seemed to know what he was doing and produced some nice engagement photos, his demeanor on my wedding day was terrible, and my wedding pictures were sub-par (not to mention no photography rights release or a CD of all of our images!).  Not at all what I was expecting.  D

Videographer: Shawn Sullivan and Ian of Atlanta, GA (Freelancers) -- http://studiosivisuals.webs.com/

Friends of my sister-in-law's family, these two rescued us at the last minute from using J. Havard's brother for videography.  They only do wedding videography on the side for now, but I love love love the video they made for us.  I only wish it was longer!  A

Florist: Belle Bouquet -- http://www.bellebouquet.com/

A favorite around my area, Belle Bouquet did a fabulous job with the flowers for my wedding.  Lana understood my visions of bright colors (hot pink, orange, and yellow!) and really made those dreams a reality.  Great customer service and willing to go the extra mile.  A




Cake Baker: Cakes by Judi -- http://www.cakesbyjudi.com/

This was another instance of being saved at the last minute!  Ms. Judi was so warm and welcoming when we came into her shop a mere two months before the wedding, and we were incredibly lucky she still had a slot open for May 15th!  The wedding cake was divine (we chose the most popular flavor, butter cake, with alternate cream cheese and lemon fillings) and she really shined with our special groom's cake request -- Boba Fett's helmet of Star Wars fame (chocolate cake, Mr. L's favorite!)  I would absolutely go to her again in a heartbeat!  A



Caterer: Tyner's Catering -- http://www.tynerscatering.com/

Tyner's really did a great job with our wedding food, and our servers seemed genuinely happy to be a part of our occasion.  Their wonderful prices are the reason we chose them -- around $12 or $13 a person for us!  We chose the hot chicken casserole, the sliced roast beef with peppercorn au jous, Italian flat green beans (they made me fall in love with green beans all over again at the tasting!), buttered whole corn, and the twice-baked potato casserole.  Salads and dessert were also included, as were drinks.  At the end of the evening, they even packed a take-home basket for Mr. L and I with a sweet little note included.  It definitely came in handy since we were STARVED when we got to our hotel!  A




DJ: JD the DJ Entertainment (John Daniel) -- http://www.jdthedjentertainment.com/

John Daniel was really easy to work with and did a wonderful job showcasing my and Mr. L's personalities through music.  He was always very polite and courteous, and I would happily choose him again.  A

Basically, I was very satisfied with the level of service my vendors provided for my wedding, and I would choose all but one of them if I had to do it all over again!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Having a Blast

Mr. L and I were fortunate enough to be able to go home for the Fourth of July holiday and spend time with our families.  We cooked some delicious food, ate said delicious food, fell into food comas, blew up cupcakes, shot rockets into the pond, had a fireworks rumble with some folks down the street, and of course, spent time with our loved ones.

I'll leave you to judge just how much fun we had with fireworks:




(Video courtesy of Smalls Productions!)

Happy (belated) Fourth of July!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Whirlwind!!!

Yes, that title is for you, Mr. L.  And so are these pretty kitties.
The past few months of my life (who am I kidding?  More like the past year!) have indeed gone by in a whirlwind.  I was relieved to graduate from the University of South Alabama and receive my Bachelor's degree in English, hours and hours of arduous wedding planning finally reached its culmination on one beautiful May evening, Mr. Landrum and I finally got to take our incredible trip to Europe for the honeymoon, and I packed up all of my belongings and left the sanctuary of the parents' nest for my new home in Florida.  Separately, each of these things would've probably been much easier for someone to handle, but when you mush them all together like I happened to do, it becomes quite dizzying.

For the past few weeks, Mr. L and I have had some precious time to breathe, relax, and fully enjoy the time we spend with each other and the rest of our loved ones.  It is certainly a blessing that his job has been so lax at the moment and we haven't had to deal with the stresses it will soon bring.  But I won't lie -- it has been difficult adjusting to living with this person I've technically only known long distance for the whole of our relationship (about three and a half years of being 7 hours apart + 2 years of being one hour apart).  We have by no means reached the light at the end of the tunnel, and we know that living together will continue to be a challenge for our strong-headed personalities.  But we also know that all the work is completely worth it.

For now, we're settling into a routine of sorts that we probably shouldn't get used to.  Mr. L is working day shifts (whoo!) and I'm trying my hand at this housewife thing until I'm able to find some sort of suitable job, hopefully with my degree.  We're able to go to Mobile every weekend (yep, every weekend since we've gotten back from the honeymoon, to be exact) to see our families and soak up as much quality time as possible before we move again in a year.  It's going to change soon though, and right now, I'm left to ponder how exactly this next year will pan out for my husband and myself.  I hope you decide to join us for the ride!