Thursday, August 25, 2011

free pizza and some more birthdays

We went to my parents house this past weekend and realized on our drive home that we pretty much had no food in our house. So what did we do? We called up Susie (who currently doesn't have a kitchen due to remodeling) and begged her to feed us dinner. "Uh...sure," she said, "I'll figure out something." Thank goodness. Next obstacle, Brad's lunch for Monday. Luckily my dad had sent us home with a whole rack of BBQ ribs. So I whipped up some veggie dip and sent my dear husband off to work with some meat and carrots. I babysat all day Monday, which meant no grocery shopping for me. Hmm...dinner? Brad is currently playing on a soccer team, and they wanted to practice downtown Monday night in preparation for their game today, Thursday. Perfect, I thought. I have a 50% off coupon for a pizza place down there.

After an uneventful and quite boring soccer practice we headed to Max's Coal Oven Pizzeria. Max is a little boy from the oldest class at the preschool I worked at last year. His parents own this pizza place downtown, and for his birthday they took his whole class (about 30 kids) to their restaurant. Upon their arrival back to school, they gave all the teachers coupons. Well, I love pizza, so naturally I took about 5. We've been wanting to get down to this pizzeria for some time now, but our plans never seem to work out, so we were happy we were finally going to get to go.

We walked in and were seated and immediately served drinks. Water for Brad, Sprite for me (hey, we're getting 50% off, I figured I could splurge a little). I handed the waiter our coupon to which he responded, "I've never seen one of these before." I explained where it came from and why I had it. He said, "Awesome. We'll take care of you guys." We never ever ever order appetizers...ever, but we figured with our coupon and all it would be a nice time to do so. Plus I really wanted those yummy sounding garlic knots. Our fantastic waiter brings out not one but two orders of garlic knots and an order of lobster fritters. "On the house. We just doubled you up." "Wow. This is really cool," we thought. I quietly whispered to Brad that I didn't even know Max's last name, and they were treating us like we were really good friends of his family. But I definitely wasn't complaining.

We order a 16" pizza (we're splurging, remember?) - on a side note, do you know how insanely ginormous a 16 inch pizza is? It's huge. We didn't even eat half of it. As we're eating, the waiter comes up and sits down beside us. He was a seriously cool guy. We really liked him. Well, he started talking about the preschool and Max. So, I told him that I was a teacher in the youngest class and didn't really ever get to associate with Max's class. I told him that I had never met his dad and only talked with his mom a handful of times. I even told him I wasn't working there anymore. Well, come to find out, Max's dad (still don't know his name) owns everything in Atlanta that Ted Turner doesn't. He's worth some 250 million dollars. This waiter is the go-to man when Max's family comes in. He is always the one to take care of them. He eventually decided he'd probably better get back to the rest of his customers, and told us to enjoy the rest of our meal. And did we ever. Delicious.

Well, remember how we still had over half the pizza left? He kindly brought us a box and put the rest of the pizza in it for us. "You guys are good to go," he said. What? We hadn't paid yet! "Are you sure?" asked Brad. "Absolutely," he said. So we left him a $20 tip and a nice note and jetted out of there before they could change their minds. This was seriously one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me (I know, exciting life). I have never gotten free food anywhere. Especially somewhere like this, where we ordered a ton of stuff and should have spent a lot of money. I was so excited I called my sister to tell her all about it. (Sorry you have to hear it again BB.) I'll probably still be awing over it for a few more months.

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On a completely different and unrelated note, I have yet again missed some more birthdays. August is like a giant birthday on crack. I swear someone is having a birthday every single one of the 31 days in August. Just yesterday was Valeri's birthday.
Photo courtesy of Neil Andersen. Great job Neil.

Valeri is my sweet, down-to-earth, and amazing sister-in-law. Every time I'm around her I'm smiling. I feel like we've been friends forever, even though we've only known each other for 3 years. She's the first one to tell you all about her mistakes and how to avoid making them yourself.  She's the first one to tell you about how hard and yet fantastically wonderful her life is. I've told her several times, but I absolutely love reading her blog. Unlike many of the other family and mommy blogs out there, Valeri tells it like it is. She doesn't sugarcoat anything. She doesn't pick out only the great parts of life and tell you about how wonderful they are. She also tells about the hard parts and how difficult they are. She is great at relating to everyone. She's a perfect writer and is constantly making me laugh as she tells stories about how hectic life can become with two children. She's extremely talented and has been blessed to be able to do what she loves. This:

Aren't we just adorable.

Lend her children out to other people when she tired of them. Just kidding :-) She's an excellent photographer. In fact, more than half of the pictures we have hanging on our walls right now were taken by her. Sometimes I feel like I'm a walking advertisement from her, and I'm sure my friends have gotten tired of hearing about how "my sister-in-law Valeri is a really great photographer...do you have any friends in California?" But she really is great. And I'm not just saying that because we're related. See for yourself and check out her website or facebook page.
We love you Valeri and seriously cannot wait to see you in three weeks at Lake Powell. (Oh, and just for the record, we excited to see everyone else who is going also.)

My father-in-law David also had a birthday recently on the 19th.
David is the most kind and well-meaning person I have ever met in my entire life. He would do anything he possibly could to help anyone out. I've loved living so close to him and getting to know him better. In fact, just the other day I went and surprised him at his house. Just because it's close, and I could. Although I wasn't able to stay long, I enjoyed just sitting and talking with him and hanging out. He is always quick to compliment and is constantly asking about how Killer is. Silly, I know. But I think it's great he cares about our little pup and likes her so much. He's always playing with her when he and Susie come over.

So, here's to free pizza and birthdays!

Love, Brad & Courtney

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Another Year, Another Birthday

This is my mother-in-law. She's pretty great. And today is her birthday!
 Happy Birthday Susie! We love you!

And while we're at it, let me just throw some shout outs to the birthdays I've missed recently.
 Jeff: May 9
Baby Todd: July 12
Allison: July 30

I think I got Lori, but just in case:
photo courtesy of Valeri Andersen Photography
Lori: June 19

Brittney (with kitty Yuki): July 6

Thomas: July 8

Happy Birthday One and All!

Love, Brad & Courtney



Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's All About Killer

I haven't posted about Killer for quite a while, so I think it's probably about time. I know you're dying for an update.

Killer is pretty much in love with summer. She loves being able to go outside all the time. She's just as obsessed as ever with her ball, and summertime means lots of ball-throwing outside.




Doesn't that just look like the life?!

Summertime also means swimming. Lots of swimming. We take her to the river at least once a week, and she swims until she's completely exhausted.


 She'll swim for a bit then go find a good pile of dirt or sand and roll around in it until she feels she sufficiently dirty and then she'll jump back in the water.




Killer will always love her ball first and foremost, but she's recently developed a new obsession.
Bubbles.

She's found out where we keep them in the house, and when she wants to play she'll go to that spot and bark and bark until we get them out. When we first brought them home she wasn't very keen on them.
video

But she quickly warmed up and now bubbles are all she thinks about.


We sure do love our pup.

Love, Brad & Courtney

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

On August 4, 1984, my parents were married! For those counting that's 27 years! Yeah...they're a pretty big deal. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

And because I love old[er] pictures, I will subject you to a small portion of my parents' plethora of wonderful pictures. I have no idea when these were taken. (Mom just leave a comment with the dates, and I'll go back update this post.)





Aren't those dress fabulous! I wish she had kept them for me to wear!!

Love, Brad & Courtney

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Domestication

I recently canned some jam. That's right - I made strawberry jam and then I canned it. If that isn't just the definition of domestic, I don't know what is. It all started when Brad and I were grocery shopping one day. We go to the Cobb International Farmers Market to get all our produce and meat because it's so darn cheap (and delicious). Right as we walked in the door we saw strawberries. Two containers for $1! That's unheard of! You can't even find one container for $1 normally. Turns out it's because they were super ripe and were going to start rotting soon, but still 2 for $1! I quickly crossed off Jam from my grocery list and bought 4 things of strawberries, determined to go home and make something yummy with them.
When we got home, I looked up tons of recipes and finally found one I liked. I halved and hulled all the berries per the recipe, and right as I was warming up my sauce pan on the stove I realized that in order to can strawberry jam I would most definitely need CANS! So I placed my berries in the frig and was off to walmart. I got home with my cans (and fruit pectin) and was so excited I could burst. But wait, how do you can things anyways? I found this awesome intro to canning that was totally written for people just like me who have never before in their life canned anything. But it would also be just peachy for those of you who have done this a million times and just need a little refresher course. Are you ready for it....drum roll, please....

Oh, and by the way, here's the recipe:
5 cups crushed strawberries (approximately 3 pounds), hulled and halved
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
7 cups sugar 
1/2 teaspoon butter
1 packet fruit pectin
Combine crushed strawberries and lemon juice in a sauce pan. Still in fruit pectin and butter. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Return mixture to full boil. Boil for one minute and then remove from heat.
Fill jars.

Let's begin.
The very first thing you need to do is wash all your jars and lids in HOT, soapy water. I had Brad complete this step for me. My poor little hands just have such a low pain tolerance when it comes to super hot water. Thanks hun :-)!

The next step is to keep your jars warm. If you let them cool down to room temperature and then put scalding hot jam in them they'll most likely break. (Vice versa as well...Brad once put a glass dish hot from in the oven into the sink and ran cold water over it without thinking and it shattered...oops!) So I just heated up some water on the stove to a simmer and put my jars in there until I was ready for them.

Now for the fun part - preparing the jam! The strawberries don't have to be perfectly crushed. You can still have a few bigger pieces. It'll taste great no matter what.


7 cups of sugar is seriously almost a whole 5 pound bag. Lots and lots of lots of sugar.

The next step is to fill your nice and warm jars with your toasty jam. You'll want to fill them up to about here. Apparently, according to my handy dandy canning guide, the jam will expand in the jar during the canning process, so you need to give it plenty of room to do so. Wipe any extra jam from the sides of the jars and put your lids on. Not too tight though - "fingertip tight" - in order to let the air inside escape while canning.

I don't have any pictures of the next couple of steps...sorry.
So I didn't have many of the essential tools, but everything worked out just fine. You need a pot that is deep enough to cover the jars with at least one inch of water. (I don't have a pot that large, so I used the biggest one I had, which only covered the jars with about 2 centimeters of water. But I definitely suggest using a bigger pot if you have one. In fact, I'll be buying one before my next canning adventure.) Before you put the cans straight into the water, put them on one of these things:
A canning rack. This would have been lovely to have, but if you don't have one (like me) you can still can without it. (But once again, I'll probably buy one before next time.) 
So once you've got your jars in your pot, cover the pot and boil for 5 minutes (I didn't cover the pot because all my extra water would have spilled out and everything turned out fine). P.S. the canning guide I linked to earlier has a chart with altitude adjustments for cooking time.
Next, I had a second pot filled as high as I could with simmering water. I [Brad] moved the jars from the boiling water to the simmering water and let them sit for 5 minutes. Then you place them on a towel or cooling rack and leave them alone for 12 hours.
Sorry for the blurriness.

I baked some homemade bread and we enjoyed our DELICIOUS strawberry jam on fresh warm bread. Yum.

Love, Brad & Courtney