Monday, January 30, 2012

we've emerged.

Cori and I have some dear friends, Katie and Aaron, who while they started dating a few months after us, got engaged and then married several months before us.  Katie and I really bonded during this time period, and I loved having someone be just a few months ahead of me because she was able to speak wisdom about what to expect in these new life stages.  (Ironically, Katie and Aaron also moved away from New Orleans a week before us.)  One of the things that Katie told me about was 'the newlywed hole.'  Basically, it's just the concept that when you're newly married, you kind of hole up together for a couple months and are not super social.

This turned out to be incredibly true for us.  We moved to Tampa a month after our wedding, so the newlywed hole was actually a very natural place to be.  We didn't have any friends to hang out with, but we didn't care because really, all we wanted was to be at our new home together, cuddling and hanging out and watching movies.  As we slowly made friends, our weekends would occasionally include one plan.  I remember early on feeling like I was sacrificing something to share Cori with other people for just an hour or two!

Well, we are slowly but surely emerging from our newlywed hole, and thankfully have made some friends here in Tampa along the way.  This weekend was probably our busiest yet!  (And yes, you can laugh, because especially for you extroverts, it might not seem super busy.)

On Friday we went to the Holy Hog for dinner.  Our neighbors are in love with their barbecue, and when we went with them several weeks back we noticed that their special on the 4th Friday of the month is shrimp and grits.  Of course, we went!  The shrimp and grits were delicious- different from in NOLA though, more southern as opposed to cajun/creole- and Cori is officially addicted to their barbecue pork sandwich.

On Saturday we went to Gasparilla Fest.  We have been planning on going to this parade since the moment we heard about it, and we loved it.  It actually exceeded my expectations; I honestly expected it to be way lamer than Mardi Gras, but it was a legit parade.  I mean... the city didn't shut down, there were no king cakes, and it was only an afternoon, so definitely not quite as amazing as Mardi Gras, but it's as close as I'm going to get this year and I was so thankful for this opportunity.  I screamed (just a few moments of my Mardi Gras yell), I said, "Hey mister!" (even though no one else did) and I got some fun beads.

 These are our neighbors who we absolutely love.  Poor Jude was definitely ready to go home by this point, but it was so fun to be there with them.  Whereas I yelled and jumped and waved my arms and got a few beads, the boys just stood there and all these people would just give them beads.  Nick's wife, Shera, was actually part of the parade.

Pirate ship!  The whole pirate theme was so fun.

Love this picture.  Husband + beads + parade + sunshine = happy Becca!

I got fleur-de-lis beads!  Haha, I actually have this exact one from a Mardi Gras parade, but I was SO excited.  

We stopped by Popeyes on our way home (haven't been since we moved!) and it was just as delicious and I remembered.

Saturday night we hung out with some of my co-workers at a comedy show.  I really like the people I work with, but when you're in a classroom with children all day you don't always have the opportunity to get to know them as well as you'd like.  So it was definitely fun to hang with them.  The comedy club also happened to be right next to a Doctor Who convention, which was hilarious and amazing all at the same time....

a Dalak

If you've never seen or heard of Doctor Who, I'm sure you think I'm incredibly dorky, and that's okay. ;)

Sunday we went to our church, and then (after stopping at Einstein's to satisfy my craving for potato bagels- I picked up two and have already eaten them both!) had a spontaneous lunch with our friends Cam and Sarah Beth.  Cori and I both really enjoy and respect this couple, so the chance to hang with them and get to know them better was just wonderful.

After that, it was back home to get a few things done (me, getting ready for the new week, Cori, some bills and grocery shopping) and relax (me, reading, internet, and bath, Cori, playing the second Zelda game made for Nintendo on our Wii).

It was truly a wonderful, full weekend.  I'm already ready for another weekend to come our way. :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

a long way from buttered noodles...

My (former) roommate Laura is a wonderful cook.  She's the cook for the Crescent City Cafe, a monthly volunteer opportunity I was a part of in New Orleans, and if you go to their facebook page and look at any of the pictures of the food, you'll start salivating.  On any given day, I'd come into the kitchen and see Laura cooking something delicious, usually sans-recipe.  She's not only a great cook; she also loves cooking.

But for me, cooking has always been a thing of necessity, not enjoyment.  It simply doesn't relax me, and I always struggled to find motivation to spend an hour or more cooking something when I was just going to sit by myself in front of the tv or my computer and eat it.  My first year teaching, when I was working ridiculous hours and pretty much ran on adrenaline [and I'd say that adrenaline was 50% Holy Spirit, 50% fear of failing my kids and my job], I picked up fast food on the way home from school multiple times during the week.  [Popeyes, I love you!  Thanks for helping me survive my first few years as a teacher!]  My typical meal those years was mac and cheese [I still have a special spot in my heart for the Kraft boxes that come in the shapes of different cartoon characters] and buttered noodles, with my fanciest meals being the addition of chicken or shrimp mixed in with the noodles.

But when I started dating Cori, things started changing.  We would cook dinner together, and somehow I knew that buttered noodles weren't going to cut it for him.  I gradually improved during our first 6 months dating, and kicked it up another notch when we started talking marriage and the thought of being a wife began playing around in my head.  Now that we're married, I've found that I take real delight in looking for recipes and creating meals that we both really enjoy.  There have been a handful of complete failures, and plenty more that, while tasty, were not ones that we were dying to repeat.  We are slowly but surely forming a list of recipes that we would eat every night if we could:

*Shrimp Roban
*Pork Marsala
*Shrimp and Grits
*Any of the mixes we stocked up on before we moved- jambalaya, shrimp etouffee being my personal faves
*Garlic Parmesan Chicken [recipe from my friend Lisa- super easy and delicious! What really made it a win for Cori was when I added extra parmesan on his and served it over spaghetti and marinara sauce.]
*Emeril's Breakfast Casserole [while Cori definitely enjoys this one, it's me who would eat it all day, every day, if I could]
*Cod saute with citrus bearnaise [We sub tilapia for the cod- we've found that it's cheaper and we personally prefer it.]
*Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto [I take the easy way out and use pre-made pesto.  Also, can you tell I'm obsessed with shrimp?]

Our newest favorite came from this week: Pesto Pizza

We made a few changes on this one- left out the olives since neither of us are big fans, added chicken, and then personalized our sides a bit... Cori used sun dried tomato basil pesto on his,  plus some italian cheeses and mozzarella.  He also added sun dried tomatoes and pepperoni.

You'll notice that all the recipes are fairly simple- I tend to search under categories like, "15 to 30 minutes or less"- although they always take me twice as long as that!  But I'm certainly a far cry away from the girl who survived on buttered noodles and Popeyes! :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


In so many ways, my husband and I are complete opposites.  There's the obvious- I mean, c'mon, we have trouble fitting in pictures together because he's so much taller than me!- and then there are a million other things.  I hate tomatoes, he'd eat pizza and spaghetti every day if he could.  He's super science-oriented and I'm just glad that I passed all my science classes in high school and college.  He's calm and steady, I'm crazy and all over the place.  He's also an internal processor.  It took me a while to figure this about him- not because he hides it, but because it's just so foreign to me.  He can actually think through a situation in his brain and come to a logical conclusion- without saying a word!  In serious conversations, I've had to learn how to just sit and be quiet and wait for him to determine what he wants to say.  I'm sure that every internal processor is thinking I'm being Captain Obvious over here, but it really was a profound realization for me because I just don't work like that.

Needless to say, I'm an external processor.  I'm also OCD- which for me means that when my brain is left to its own devices, it tends to go in one of two directions: either absolutely all over the place with no real focus, or obsessing over one [usually unimportant, but at the time feels huge] thought.  I've had to learn to force my brain to focus, to logically think through situations, and not get distracted by thoughts of what I'll wear tomorrow or how far I need to run later or when I need to shower next or that email I need to send or... [get the point? I'm crazy.  Lovable, but crazy.]

I realized in high school that praying can be hard for me for those reasons.  I'd sit down to pray but just wouldn't be able to focus.  It was hard to seriously sit down and process my life with God when He couldn't come over to my house and sit on my bed and talk with me.  I don't remember exactly when or how, but I [thankfully!] learned that having a prayer journal was the perfect solution for me.  Writing is a way for me to externally process without needing to have an audible voice responding to me.  It allows me to quiet my mind and pour out my heart, sorting through different issues, and in the midst of that, connect with Jesus.  I loved writing my monthly prayer letter during my 2 years doing relief work with Cru for the same reason.  It forced me to sit down and think through the last month, to evaluate what God had done in both New Orleans and in me.

When I started this blog [over a year ago? it seems like a lifetime ago that I was living in New Orleans, teaching first grade, and dating Cori] it was for that reason.  A chance to externally process and share my life and heart with friends and family.  Yet somehow I haven't kept up with that.  So that's goal number 1 for 2012.  Yep, no resolutions- sounds too cheesy, to0 much like something I'm going to grit my teeth and do, instead of real life changes that I'm praying God will help me make.  So for 2012, it's goals.  And in no particular order, here they are:

*blog more
*journal more consistently- because that's where my heart really meets with Jesus, and I haven't been good about that.  I miss Him.
*RUN again- consistently!  1/2 marathon?
*invest more in life and people in Tampa... and in the same vein, let go of New Orleans some.  I've been realizing that I'm so stuck on being in love with New Orleans that I haven't let myself love Tampa.  It's just not healthy.  I love NOLA- always have, ALWAYS will- but Tampa is my home now.  I have to remember that.
*spend less time on the internet [really, I'm just fabulous at stalking people online, but what do i really gain from doing that?  I'm not talking about getting off Facebook or anything- just spending my time a bit more wisely.]
*be intentional with Cori- it's so easy to get lazy and just 'hang out' without actually having real, meaningful conversations
*take at least one trip back to NOLA!  [and Virginia too, but that's a given]
*eat healthier.  For the love, this has been my goal for years.  It helps to be away from the amazing food of New Orleans- and from Popeyes, [sigh] but still.  A girl's got to eat more vegetables and less fried food!

I'm sure there's more, but my guess is the only person still reading this is my mom [hi!] so I'll stop.  Here's to making a more consistent appearance in the blog world.