Monday, January 31, 2011

Sushi. Check.

In lieu of going out to eat for a date night this weekend, Phil and I decided it was high time we attempt to roll our own sushi. Our adventure started at Publix as we bought all our ingredients. A little tip: don't be afraid to look like a dork and ask the deli person where the smoked salmon is. (And for those faithful Publix-goers, the smoked salmon is across from the sushi area on the end of an isle with other seafood delicacies). Somehow, our smoked salmon didn't make it in the ingredient picture--oops.We opted for a phili roll with salmon, cucumber, avacado, & cream cheese--one of our favorites!

Ingredients: cucumber, wasabi, wine (not actually a sushi ingredient, but key to a great date night), sushi rice, sesame seeds, cream cheese, avocado, & seaweed)

Next, we made the rice. This was actually the most surprising part of the process because it involved extremely wordy directions in paragraph form on the back of the box and over an hour of prep & cooking time. However, the results were perfect, sticky rice, so the madness worked! While I worked on the rice and sipped my wine, Phil worked on his project: hand making a sushi rolling mat (I'm sure there's a word for it, but I don't know it). The mat allows you to compress the roll as you roll it so that it's tight and stays together. Since we didn't have one and didn't want to buy one, my innovative husband improvised with some wooden skewers and duct tape. Not bad, huh?

Next, we chopped up all the ingredients and had the assembly line ready to go:

And then we were ready to roll 
(and I in no way mean that in the Alabama sense):

I told Phil he had to roll the first one since he made the rolling mat, so here he is in all his proud "I-made-something-from-scratch-and-it-works" glory:

In a matter of minutes, we made four rolls:

And they were DELICIOUS! 

Now, Surin's Yummy Yummy and Super Crunch rolls are hard to beat, so they weren't quite that good, but they were fresh and flavorful and tasted a lot like sushi we eat out, which I think is pretty great, especially considering it was our first attempt. 

We're thinking it'd be fun to have a bunch of people over for "roll your own sushi night." Any takers? Also, this is my first official item to cross off the 30 before 30 list, so I'm hoping my other goals will be met with as much success!

Monday, January 17, 2011


Since Ashley was the winner of the "replacement goal" contest, here is my tribute post to her. Far from her self-described "boring ole self," she's a fascinating woman that I can't wait to introduce to you!

Writing about Ashley is a little like writing about a lovely place you've visited. While we went to college together, I only knew Ashley from afar, and, to be honest, she was so beautiful and put together that I assumed she was snobby. I should know better than to assume, but I did. Her husband, Daniel, has been one of my husband's biggest supporters through college, medical school and now residency, so they actually knew each other much better than Ashley and I ever did.

Right before they moved far, far away, we had dinner with Ashley & Daniel, and it was really the first time I was able to have extended time with them. And can I just tell you, my assumptions about Ashley couldn't have been more wrong! She was so down-to-earth, funny, honest, and sincere--qualities I value most in my friendships. Weeks later, they moved away. Years of friendship-by-association and one dinner later, I found that I was missing a friendship that never had time to develop.

Thankfully, I've continued getting to know her through her blog, which is such a precious chronicle of her life with her husband and daughter. So, without further ado, here are my

Top Ten Reasons to Love Ashley (in no particular order):

  1. She's an amazing photographer and should totally consider doing children/family photography on the side at some point in the future. 
  2. She's creative. I always look forward to seeing their Christmas card and/or reading about the latest innovative idea she has. 
  3. The girl can throw a party! I admire her attention to detail, her efforts to make her home welcoming, and her ability to make each guest feel honored. Check out pictures from her daughter's birthday party here. Absolutely amazing. Ashley, can you come to my house when I have kids one day?
  4. She is an incredible mom. If there's one thing their daughter knows without a doubt, it's that she's loved. Ashley and Daniel are such admirable parents in their patience, discipline, fun, and creativity. While it isn't always easy, they genuinely enjoy parenthood, and it shows.
  5. She has a heart for adoption. We share this passion, so I love hearing anything she has to say about it. 
  6. She's a model wife. If their daughter thinks she's loved, she don't have nuthin' on Daniel! Ashley's support, commitment, encouragement, prayer, and JOY in her marriage are qualities I've always admired.
  7. She loves Jesus. Right now, I see this most in the way she's teaching her daughter about Him, but I also see it in her humility, her decisions, and the way she leads her life. She makes me want to be more like Him. 
  8. She has a great sense of style. Seriously, I have yet to see something on her that I don't like. Do tell, Ashley, where do you shop?? (And feel free to put more pictures of yourself on your blog!)
  9. Her writing is fun to read. After years in the marketing industry, she knows how to tell a story and tell it with humor!
  10. Speaking of, she has a quirky sense of humor. And by "quirky," I mean all the good stuff that comes along with that word: a funny-witty-cheesy combo that brings lots of smiles my way. 

Thanks for your friendship, Ashley. One day when we don't live quite so far apart, I look forward to picking up on our face-to-face friendship. To tide us over, though, we may just have to plan a trip to Oklahoma soon! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

And the winner is...

On the night of the Golden G's, it's only appropriate that I give the award for "Best Replacement Goal" to...
 (insert swelling, emotional music and beautiful women in breasty beautiful 
dresses and outlandish hair walking onto the stage)

with her suggestion to: 
"Write a letter to someone who has greatly influenced your 
life that has no idea the impact they've had." 

I'd like to thank Ashley, the Hollywood Foreign Press, and my most faithful blog readers, Melissa, Molly, Christen, Erin, & Virginia for all their inspiring ideas and kind comments. I'd also like to thank any blog-followers that I may have forgotten as well as all list-makers everywhere. Ashley, be on the lookout for a glowing review of YOU in the near future!

In case another goal on the list becomes unattainable, I did choose a runner-up, which is...

 Molly's intimidating but inspiring suggestion to 
"unplug for a weekend" 
(which I took to mean unplugging from the TV, computer, phone, etc.). 

Now that that's taken care of, I can get on with those goals! I'm off to a slow start, but have started reading through the Bible and am planning to journal tomorrow. Who knows? Maybe I'll even write one very special letter. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Remember that 30 before 30 list? Well, I really tried to make it realistic, but I'm thinking that "learning to snow ski" might not actually happen before March 2012. Don't get me wrong--I hope it does, but the chances are pretty slim considering where we live and how little off time we have.

SO, I'm in the market for a replacement goal. And I need your help.

What should I add to my 30 before 30 list that's more realistic? If anyone gives me an idea that I actually use, I'll write a blog all about YOU (don't worry--I'll write about only the good stuff!).

Let those suggestions fly!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Movie marathon

I spent the weekend catching up on several movies--all recommendations from my friend, Jessica. I had to get them in before starting work again tomorrow! They were all outstanding films, and, of course, the special features (my favorite part) did not disappoint.

Then She Found Me (2007) With a star-studded cast (Helen Hunt, Matthew Broderick, Coin Firth, Bette Midler), this movie was surprisingly enjoyable and unpredictable. Helen Hunt directed, produced, and starred in the film, which is about a woman (Hunt) who finds herself "on the other side of the biological clock," whose husband (Roderick) leaves her, and who meets an equally undone person (Firth). It's the story of betrayal, trust, and longing, and includes a really positive commentary on adoption, which I love. Beautifully written and powerfully performed, this film is a must-see!

Last Chance Harvey (2008) Starring Academy Award winners Dustin Hoffman and  Emma Thompson, who are friends in "real life," this movie had depth and a human quality that was particularly appealing. In his interview in the special features, Hoffman claims that he and Thompson acted as much like themselves as possible, giving them an accessible quality rather than an unattainable ideal that so many actors leave us with. This film tells the story of two people who have given up on love and find it, by chance, in an unexpected place. While the story line is a bit far-fetched, the script is smart and meaningful and the acting, of course, brilliant. Another winner.

{Proof} (2005) I had never heard of this movie before, and discovered that it's a film adaptation of a play that Gwyneth Paltrow also starred in. The movie version also has a strong cast including Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal. Hopkins plays a mentally ill former math genius whose mind is reduced to gibberish in his later years. His daughter (Paltrow) shares his genius as well as his tendency toward mental instability, and she quits school to care for him in his final years. In the process, she meets one of her father's students (Gyllenhaal) who provides her great love and great pain. The title has multiple meanings--something that becomes clear as the movie progresses. Don't be intimidated or turned off by the math part of the movie; it's minimal and serves as a perfect backdrop for the deeper themes of doubt, belief, relationships, loyalties, and sanity. A phenomenal movie!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

30 before 30 List

Inspired by a new year and the fact that I'll turn 30 in 14 months, I've decided to list 30 things I'd like to accomplish before age 30. Here goes (in no particular order):
  1. Publish something I've written.
  2. Read through the Bible (or at least be in the process of doing so).
  3. Take another big trip with Phil 
  4. Work up the guts to sing karaoke in public.
  5. Journal weekly.
  6. Plant a vegetable garden in our back yard.
  7. Roll my own sushi.
  8. Finish typing my grandfather's WWII letters to my grandmother.
  9. Learn to change a tire.
  10. Donate platelets.
  11. Find some new teenage girls to invest in since all mine are graduating this year.
  12. Take more pictures.
  13. Invest in a bookshelf for our bedroom.
  14. Volunteer.
  15. Go to a Broadway show (doesn't have to be in NYC)
  16. Actually use my yoga videos.
  17. Shop at Whole Foods from time to time.
  18. Try at least 4 new restaurants in Birmingham.
  19. Invest in at least one more piece of art crafted by a friend or family member.
  20. Snorkel.
  21. Get a massage. Or two.
  22. Dance at wedding reception (call me crazy, but I hate dancing in public).
  23. Watch a sunset. Or two. Sad that I have to put that on a list.
  24. Play volleyball.
  25. Go camping again with Phil.
  26. Ride my bike.
  27. Help a stranger.
  28. Learn to snow ski.
  29. Cook a five-course dinner using all new recipes.
  30. Paint our bedroom a color I like.
Items that I almost put on the list out of guilt/obligation but didn't because I don't actually want to do them:
  • Run a marathon
  • Learn to sew
  • Make homemade pasta
  • Sky dive
  • Eat vegetarian/vegan for any amount of time
Consider this 30 before 30 list a little preview of some of my blog topics for the coming year. Happy New Year!