Foodie Friday: Who likes Mexican?

I do! But I only like certain Mexican food. I like super authentic Mexican, like taco stands, and baja beef chalupas with no tomatoes from Taco Bell, but one of my favorite comfort foods is found in the sit-down, all Latino staffed, huge portion-serving, family restaurants. When I was growing up, my family often chose El Porton in Yakima as the special occasion dinner location. I have many warm memories of hot, colorful plates of rice, beans, and enchiladas. The cheese mixing with the shredded beef or chicken inside the soft tortillas, the way the beans and rice mix together with the perfect combination of texture and flavor, mmm baby. I could eat it all day.

So when it was up to Kurt and me to pick a restaurant for Christmas Eve lunch with my family, who drove up all the way from Cowiche, I didn’t take much time to ponder. I’d already been to Azteca with Kurt’s parents in the summer and loved it, and I knew my parents would too. So I made a reservation. The big day came and we ate well. It was a grand reunion. The above picture is the plate that Kurt and I shared. Delicious! And now here’s a picture of my whole family on Christmas afternoon, just before the drove back home.

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I’m so glad they got to visit and so glad that we got to share such a comforting meal that has always meant happy memories for us.

What’s one of your family holiday traditions?

 

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Webster’s Wednesday: Spoiled

There are kids who are spoiled with gifts, spoiled with beneficial circumstances, and kids who are spoiled rotten. I prefer to think that Kurt and I have been spoiled in only the first two ways, respectively. Well he has in both the first two while I have in the second. At first, I felt embarrassed that his parents showered us with gifts every time Christmas or a birthday came around, but now I understand. When you are well-off and comfortable, and you’ve never had a daughter to spoil before, it probably just seems natural to bless her just as much as you’ve blessed your son for 25 years. Makes sense to me. I enjoy it. My humble beginnings at first caused me to receive their generosity with awkwardness, but I soon realized that they give gifts the same way that my parents give gifts. The same love and thoughtfulness goes into the gifts I get from my parents as the gifts I get from his parents. And so, without further ado, my gifts! Let’s hope I remember who gave what!

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Knit tights, watercolor paints, and oil paints from my parents. So excited to start painting again!

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These were in the pinata my parents brought. Yes, they brought a pinata. We strung it up in the backyard after finished Settlers today and took turns swinging at it.

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From Kurt, his parents, and Eli. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I will definitely start making videos more often now!!

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From my Grandma Shirley. Kurt got a mug too, with a different design. Can never have too many mugs!

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From my parents. Fuzzy socks! Yay!

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From Kurt, his parents, or Kelle. Unsure. Can never have too many pairs of fuzzy socks.

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Sweater-dress from my parents, socks from Kurt, and shoes from Kurt’s parents. Love!

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I love them so much! Cute shoes for work at Victoria’s Secret!

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Sweater and belt from Kurt’s parents. I picked it out for work at VS. Looooove!

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From Kurt! He found this at Classic Consignment, where Kelle works, and it’s really a gift for both me and Kelle, as we basically share closets and we both loved this!

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Scaaaaaaaaaaarves. 🙂

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From Kurt’s parents. Super comfy.

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Also from Kurt’s parents. Super cozy.

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Aaaaand this is from (guess who!) Kurt’s parents. Like I said, they like to spoil us. Super classy.

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Terry cloth wrap-around from Kelle and blanket from my Grandma Grace. Super soft! You can never have too many blankets!

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China set from my mother, who got it from her paternal grandmother when she moved to assisted living. Really, it’s a late wedding present. These pieces are part of a 45-piece set. So beautiful!

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From Kurt’s parents! Still haven’t had a chance to play it! They know us so well!

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We got a second TARDIS teapot! The first was from Kurt’s parents last year, and the second was from Lorene’s parents this year. Lorene was a foreign exchange student from Germany many years ago, and that’s how she met Kurt. They’ve been friends ever since. He calls her his “German sister.” Can never have too many TARDIS’s. We also have a Bluetooth speaker that’s shaped like one. We used it for our blues dance.

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From Kurt’s Aunt Dena and Uncle Ross. So pretty! They also gave us gift cards for Olive Garden and AMC theatres! Thank you!

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Definitely from Lorene’s parents. Awesome!

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Forgot to flip this one. Don’t care. They’re from Kurt’s parents and they are yummmyyyy!

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!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! FSKDFJSDFNLKSJADILSJFKDSSJFLKAS?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?! (From Kurt’s parents! Thank you soooo much!!)

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Kurt’s grandma Lois, whom we call Grams, gave us the devotional “Jesus Calling.” My parents gave us one too, so now Kurt and I each have a copy. 🙂

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So many socks! Who knows whom these are from.

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These were in the pinata too! Yum!

And that’s everything! Well, Kurt’s parents also got us a new bedframe with a headboard and a nightstand for me. Yay! They are so beautiful! I am so grateful for how much I was blessed this Christmas. I got everything I asked for, and more, and I had a wonderful time spending the holidays with both families. I hope everyone else had as wonderful a Christmas as I did. 🙂

Marriage Monday: The Kid Question

Kurt and I were still planning our wedding when my mom first asked me, “So when are you having kids?” I’m sure she was at least half joking, but it still threw me, as I knew it would be the first of many times I would be asked that question. For a while, I thought I was hearing it from everyone, but after a few months, I realized that there was a pattern. Everyone who asked about kids already had their own. I have plenty of young married friends, and none of them have asked me about kids. I have never asked them about kids. Because we already know the answer:

“I don’t know, maybe when we’ve had plenty of time just being a couple together, and when we’re not broke…” I haven’t exactly shouted to the world that Kurt and I were struggling in the beginning and only just now doing better, but I have off-handedly mentioned it a few times, so I don’t know how anyone would think that we’re in any position to be able to afford children right now.

I mean, we literally just got married. We are still getting used to living and interacting with each other. We need to get to know each other better first! But (more importantly?) there’s also the money issue. We are only just now getting to the point where we have money left over at the end of the month after all the bills. Who can think about kids at a time like that? I’d rather get my student loans and credit card debt paid off first. This is why I chose a form of birth control that lasts for three years, with literally no thought at all. It was around $1,000 but was covered by my insurance completely. It was hardly an invasive procedure, and I don’t have to remember to take a pill everyday, wear a patch every week, or get a shot every month. August 2015 will be six months before the method becomes ineffective, and that is when we will start talking about it seriously. The hope and the plan is that, by then, we will be financially stable enough to not only pay for our own living, but also pay for at least one child to grow up happy and healthy.

I intend to do everything in my power to make sure that any and all children I have in the future, whether I have one or five, are cared for in the best way possible, and if can’t afford to do that until I’m 30, then I’ll have my first kid at 30. I don’t think that parenthood is the end-goal of marriage. I don’t think raising children is the singular purpose in my life. I never have. I would love to have kids. I dearly want to have kids. Tons of kids! Kids who sprang from my loins and kids who didn’t. But I think I can still have a fulfilling marriage before kids. I’m in no rush. I want it to be the right time, because I want to be the best mom I can possibly be. I want to be ready.

Blog break

I guess this notice is a little late. Kurt’s parents came into town on Tuesday night and left this morning to return to Missouri. I haven’t been blogging because that was our Christmas with them and I’ve just been way too busy. Over the course of three days, we had homemade beef stew that Kurt made, had breakfast together, decorated the tree, made peanut butter fudge, went out for lunch, watched The Book Thief, shopped together, opened tons of presents, and said goodbye. Kurt got more time with them, as I had to nanny on Wednesday, but it was still a great time for everyone. I would post about all of my gifts like I have the past two years, but I got seriously spoiled and I don’t want it to look like bragging. Which it is, I guess, but no one’s complained so far. Maybe on my personal blog. If you want to see what I got, let me know and I’ll show you, but if not, I won’t. I will be back to posting on Monday, possibly with some different themes for different days. See you then! 🙂

Marriage Monday: Housewifery

I have a confession: I used to look down on the idea of being a housewife. I’ve always been very independent and very “no man will control me” and “I do what I want,” and just didn’t understand how you could be a housewife and still be your own person. I pictured a cute little 50’s wife in an apron, cleaning all day, having dinner ready when her husband came home from work, depending on him for all of the income, asking for money and spending it, not necessarily wisely, and just generally living life solely for her husband and not for herself at all, like a little servant who doesn’t have her own life. Boy, was I judgmental.

I have since changed my thoughts on this concept. I have a friend, Bethany, who is a housewife. We went to the same church several years ago, and reconnected recently through our blogs and Facebook. She even lists her occupation as “housewife” on Facebook, which honestly made me cringe a little, because I couldn’t personally see myself not having anything to do all day and just waiting around for my husband.

But we discussed it a little bit through comments, and I have changed my mind. Since getting married and starting my two jobs, I have discovered that I would LOVE to be a housewife. Between my two jobs, I am barely home, and when I am home, I have no willpower or energy to make time for photography, writing, painting, anything I enjoy doing by myself. I put things off because I tell myself I don’t have enough time to do what I want in one sitting. I used to think I would be bored all day if I didn’t have a job (and didn’t need one), but it’s not true! I remember what I do on my few days off. I have so much fun! I may sleep in several hours too many, but I can go out and spend time taking pictures and researching for future blog posts, clean the house, and so many other things. The house is so hard to keep clean! But if I had all day, every day to do it, it would be so easy!

As soon as we are out of debt and Kurt has a salary job that allows me to afford to quit my jobs, I want to be a housewife. I want to stay at home (or take a bus to town and shoot photos) and just do my own thing all day. Keep the house spotless, experiment with food, actually continue writing my books, write quality blog posts, start freelance writing for magazines. Ugh. It would be amazing.

What’s an opinion you changed when you got older?

Thrifting Thursday: Ugly Christmas

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I went Christmas gift shopping today. It was tiring, the bus got stuck in traffic, and I didn’t cross off everyone on my list. But I did get some cool things. Everything was on sale, of course. And I wore this sweater. I got it at Goodwill for $5 last year for an ugly Christmas sweater party, but I actually really like it. The red letters say “Merry Christmas” and the teddy bear has a holly wreath around his shoulders. Addison thinks it’s “sooo cute!” It goes well with leggings or black skinny jeans and boots, or really anything in my closet, for that matter.

Did you ever buy something you ended up liking more than you thought you would?

Webster’s Wednesday: Fairies

This post is brought to you by Addison, the 4-year-old I watch 20 hours a week. I asked her what word I should write about this week and she said, ” Christmas! No, fairies!” So fairies it is. I am writing this on my phone while waiting for her to finish her lunch. (1:30 pm)

I’m back. (4 pm) She’s napping now. Have had time to look up  a definition and do a little research. So without further ado…

Definition:  a mythical being of folklore and romance usually having diminutive human form and magic powers

Origin: Middle English fairie fairyland, enchantment, from Anglo-French faerie, from fee fairy, from Latin Fata, goddess of fate, from fatum fate

First Known Use: 14th century
Just from this definition, it is clear that most early folklore dealt with fairies being powerful beings that could interfere with the lives of humans. This idea has manifested in a plethora of ways. Even before “fairy” was the commonly used term, the concept had been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. In early Celtic stories, fairies were either short, wizened trolls or tall, radiant beings. Later, they were illustrated as tiny humanoid creatures driven into hiding by invading humans. Today, the typical depiction of a fairy usually had insect-like wings, but they weren’t always like that. Early folklore has fairies flying on the backs of birds or on little sticks, using magic. Magic has always been the binding theme, no matter what other elements change.
One theory of the origin of fairy stories is that these creatures were worshipped as gods and goddesses by pagan cultures. Of course, when Christianity spread across the world and quelled the pagan beliefs in many areas, this idea faded away. The church then regarded fairies as “evil beings” and worked hard to change the general attitude toward fairies to fit its agenda. Later, Celtic stories told of fairies showing themselves as the dead loved ones of those who stumbled across them. They are described as ghosts in several stories. The church also perpetuated the idea that fairies are demons on Earth, angels who were caught between Heaven and Hell when the angels revolted and God shut the gates of Heaven. Apparently they were not good enough to be let back into Heaven and not evil enough to Hell, so they were forced to stay on Earth and pay a debt to the Devil, which accounts for their habit of taking children from humans or collecting gold and other trinkets.
The storehouse of knowledge about fairies and related lore is so incredibly expansive that it would take a week to write all of it down! So here’s a beautiful painting by John Anster Fitzgerald:
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Newsday Tuesday: R.I.P Nelson Mandela

I swear, I didn’t want to write on deaths two weeks in a row, but I simply couldn’t honor Paul Walker without also honoring Nelson Mandela. Hopefully next week we will have some happier news!

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What is there to say about Nelson Mandela that hasn’t been said? I’ll admit, I never studied him in school (my high school didn’t teach me a lot of things), but because I do not live under a rock, I know who he is and vaguely what he did. Before I commence research, this is what I know: He lived in South Africa, was the president of said country for a term, and helped liberate many, many people from oppression and apartheid. After research, I am astounded at all the things this single man accomplished in his lifetime. If I wrote about everything, I’d just be copying from nelsonmandela.org, and if I tried to put it all in my own words, it would take all night. So let’s summarize, shall we?

Nelson Mandela was born in 1918, in South Africa, to the principal counselor of the king of the Thembu tribe. His father died while he was still a child, and it was the stories of his father as a valiant war hero that inspired Mandela to join the fight against his oppressive government.

He attended six universities in his lifetime, but only completed two bachelor’s degrees, a result of being a self-professed poor student.

He was married three times, in 1944, 1958, and 1998.

He and Oliver Tambo established the first black law firm in South Africa in 1952.

Also in 1952, he was banned from South Africa for acts of “treason” against a corrupt state. Unfazed, he came back, of course.

After coming back and organizing uprisings against the state, urging for a reform of the government system, he was charged with leaving the country illegally. You know something is wrong when your government won’t let you stay nor leave, simply because you want to make things better. Over and over, he fought to free the oppressed black South Africans from their corrupt leaders, and over and over, the government arrested, convicted, and banned him. He never gave up.

In the trial that led to him being imprisoned from 1964 to 1990, he said this: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” 

But die, he didn’t. He was released from prison 9 days after the unbanning of the ANC (African National Congress, which he had joined in 1944, while becoming increasingly politically involved) and the PAC (Pan Africanist Congress). While he was in prison, Mandela’s supporters had paved the way for a new government, one that kept the best interest of its people in mind. In 1991, he was elected ANC president, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, and in 1994, he voted for the first time. Also in 1994, he was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected president. He only served one term, as he intended, and set up numerous charities that still thrive today.

Nelson Mandela’s story is one of perseverance and determination, of fighting for what’s right no matter what gets in your way. His actions saved countless lives and inspired others to save even more. His story continues (and will always continue) to inspire those who stand against oppression and racism. I know it inspires me.

Marriage Monday: Oh Christmas Tree

I guess today’s post isn’t entirely marriage-centric, but it’s what I have right now. Today, we set up our Christmas tree. It was an artificial tree, the thought of which initially made me blanch, but Kurt’s justifications were reasonable. 1. It’s actually cheaper than cutting down a live tree or even buying one in a lot, because after while the initial price is the same, you can use an artificial one year after year. 2. Up-keep and clean-up is way easier. 3. It comes pre-lighted!

Ours also came with artificial pine cones and holly berries. It came in three parts and was very easy to put together. Kurt and Kelle got it while I was on my way home from work and waited for me to get home to start assembling it.

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I did help a bit, but didn’t want to bother with the tripod to get a picture of myself assembling.

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Once it was all set-up, we got into our pajamas, waited for Kurt to make mac and cheese, and watched “The Aristocats.” Then we took this picture: 

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I always grew up going into the woods with my family to fetch a tree for Christmas. We put on our snow gear, bought a tree-felling pass, drove for about an hour into the mountains, tromped through the snow until we found an adequate tree, and all took turns chopping it down. It was always hard to find full, symmetrical trees that were also less than 6 feet tall (my parents’ house has low ceilings).

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My brother Noah with our tree for Christmas 2010.

Our trees often looked like Charlie Brown trees, but bigger. Our ornament collection was an amalgamation of gifts, family sets that were passed down, and handmade ornaments made by my brothers and myself. Decorating was a family affair. We had to all be together to do it.

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2010.

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2011. Some years were better than others.

 

 

Last year, when Kurt and I flew to Missouri to spend Christmas with his parents, was the first year that I didn’t decorate the Christmas tree with my family, or any tree at all for that matter. This year is our first Christmas as a married couple, so I’m glad that we have our own tree, even if we didn’t go the route of Westbay family tradition and chop down one in the mountains. I’m sure one day we’ll do it, because we can’t just use Morrison traditions all the time. Except for socks. Always socks. But that’s another post. Kurt’s parents are sending a box of decorations they don’t need anymore, including Kurt’s reportedly very nerdy ornaments, and it should be here tomorrow! Hooray! More decorating!

Are you pro- or anti-artificial Christmas trees in your house? What’s a Christmas tradition in your family?

 

A Note

Marriage Monday post will be a little late today. I didn’t plan a topic ahead of time, and I figured, something’s happening tonight when I get home from work that I can blog about, so I can just wait until then. 🙂 Also, I am doing away with Science Sundays for the time being, as they are the hardest for me to get passionate about, and why write about something that doesn’t get me excited if I’m not even getting paid for it yet? This blog was my choice, so it’s entirely up to me what I post. If anyone wants to me to bring back Science Sunday in the future, by all means, say so, and suggest a topic for me! Thanks! Sorry I forgot Foodie Friday last week. Poor planning, very little time.