Day 843–Happy Birthday Bruce

Apparently today is Batman’s birthday. Kinda cool, eh? He’s 74 and still tearing people up…and he’s got 26 years to be as awesome as my great-grandpa. Suck it Dark Knight.

In life news, we’re moving again. But this time it serves a purpose…we’re going to downsize to a smaller/cheaper apartment for a little while and then (hopefully) get a house!  The new place is closer to Sugar Land so we won’t have to burn as much gas going back and forth all the time and we’ll save almost two days’ worth of pay each month. I call that a win/win…we’re really excited about it!

I also got my bike today, and its AWESOME. Even riding it around the parking lot before I put it up tonight was fun. I’m looking forward to using it the next couple of months, because once we move it’s not as feasible for errands and stuff…we’re going to live right off of a highway for a while, so that’s no bueno. But in the ‘burbs it’s so so nice. I’m going to take it out for a spin tomorrow…I kind of feel like a kid before Christmas. My wife is amazing.

Breakfast/Lunch–I think they call it brunch. Clearing out some leftovers, I threw some grilled onions, beans and rice, and then leftover Lupe Tortilla in a skillet with a splash of chipotle chicken broth to heat up, then dumped it all in a bowl of deliciousness. Really good stuff.

Snack–A shake from Sonic. Such a bad idea…tasted so good.

Dinner–Raising Cane’s! I shipped the bike to the REI down where we used to live (its the closest one…not many outdoorsmen in Houston. Because the air will kill you) and conveniently, there’s a Cane’s right across the street.  So we indulged in a little chicken goodness for dinner, and it definitely lived up to expectations.

Hanging with the thugs tomorrow, then substituting on Friday, and Youth BBQ stuff all weekend. Gonna be a blast!

Have a good one.

Day 840–You Musn’t Be Afraid to Dream a Little Bigger Darling

A very interesting phenomenon has been occurring on a weekly basis at Sugar Grove.

I teach the Juniors and Seniors of our youth group, and thankfully we’ve been supplied with (generally) very good curriculum courtesy of the good people at Simply Youth Ministry.  Every week a new lesson pops up, I download it, edit it, print it, and away we go.  It takes a lot of the stress out of planning and, especially when I’m teaching in a classroom during the week, means one less “lesson plan” to deal with.

However, every so often, I’ll look at the guide for the week and just won’t feel it. It’s either a weird lesson or a stretch or a gross misuse of Scripture–one of my giant pet peeves–and so we move along to plan B: my brain.  Every time, since we’ve moved back, that I’ve come up with a lesson off the top of my head the sermon has matched it. Every. Time. It’s kind of amazing. I told Mark about it this morning and we both laughed about how cool God is…when He wants something done, He comes out in full force through His Spirit.

Today’s sermon/lesson topic was essentially about dreaming big. Mark’s was focused on building bridges to the surrounding communities, and mine was about building bridges within our youth group. We have to be willing, as a group of believers joined together in community, to throw off the shackles of convention and hope for the absolute best case scenario in all that we do.  I challenged the Jrs/Srs to dream big for the summer: what can we do, as a youth group, to make this the most exciting and engaging thing we do all week? How do we immerse ourselves in the community and the Spirit to the point where “Next Sunday just can’t get here fast enough?” And then the next step: how do we make it a daily thing, not just Sunday/Wednesday?  It wasn’t much of a conversation–the kids aren’t really big into, you know, talking–but I hope the seeds were planted for a bright and exciting summer.

We musn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger.

Breakfast–Chocolate chip cherry torte Larabar.  It was good stuff…held me over until lunch. And yes, we’re out of bananas.

Lunch–Guru Burgers! I had a regular Japaneiro burger, which is essentially a 6 oz patty with chimichurri sauce, plantains, caramelized onions, lettuce, and an egg twist bun.  It needed a kick of heat and some acid, but it was good stuff.  The funny thing about Guru is that they have such a solid concept, but there’s always one or two things wrong.  Perfect burger, except this. Great fries, just need to add this. That crepe was excellent, but I’d switch this for this. They need someone to come in and give them guidance. And if they’re reading this, I’M TOTALLY AVAILABLE.

Dinner–Life Groups! We had pizza. And cupcakes. So…it was healthy? Happy Birthday Abby Mathis!

My starter appears to be wounded, potentially to a fatal extent. I’ll keep working on it, but…yeah.

Have a good one.

Day 839–A Tale of Two Noahs

My day was wildly uneventful.

I got up, started finishing off another batch of Dolce Bars, realized I was out of chocolate, and therefore went to HEB to pick up some more, along with another bag of flour since I’ve used most of mine on my starter.

When I got there, it was kind of cloudy. I thought to myself, “It’s going to rain. But I won’t be in here long enough for it to matter, so I’ll park out in the boonies like I usually do.”  And you know what? I was right. There was a light sprinkling coming down when I left and that was about it.  Little did I know that about two hours later it was going to start raining in earnest. And NEVER STOP.  It’s literally been raining, with some hail/lightning/thunder mixed in for good measure, for the last eight hours. The bayou out back is completely flooded (Noah #1), as are the roads. We were going to try to have dinner with the Gutowsky’s tonight, but the flooding meant it took Kim over two and a half hours to make it the last 15 minutes home.  But she’s safe, and that’s awesome.

Since I was basically stuck inside all afternoon, I was flipping back and forth between the Rangers (boooo…) and the Draft (Cowboys…booooo…) and trying to not fall asleep.  Then Cole texted me and told me I needed to be watching the Bulls/Nets game.  Now, Cole doesn’t really like basketball. So for him to endorse a game, its gotta be a doozy.  HOLY CRAP PEOPLE. It had three overtimes, a double-digit comeback, Nate Robinson deciding he was tired of missing shots (so he stopped), people fouling out, buzzer beaters, amazing team play, great defense, terrible defense…it was nothing short of an instant classic. The best part for me was watching Joakim Noah (Noah #2) running up and down the court, gutting out a double-double, all with plantar fasciitis. If you don’t know what PF is, consider yourself lucky. The tamed version is that there’s a muscle sheath of sorts in your foot holding all the tendons/muscles in place.  Sometimes it gets inflamed. Sometimes it gets inflamed and slightly tears. At that point, your walking is severely impaired, much less running. So Noah was literally taking one step, then twisting his shoulders and throwing his other leg forward so that he could move up and down the court. I’ve had PF. It SUCKS. That dude is irritating, but he played a gritty, impressive role for the Bulls in that game, and they don’t win without him.  Well done sir.

Breakfast–Another banana and chocolate peanut butter. Creature of habit.

Lunch–Wendy’s, before the deluge. Spicy chicken sandwich, lettuce only, and a medium fry. Moderation?

Snack–Another banana and chocolate peanut butter. Yep.

Dinner–Lupe Tortilla with Abby.  Had the mixed fajitas, and they were delicious as always. Would have been even better with the Gutowsky’s though!

Church tomorrow, but no basketball. Sad day.

Have a good one.

Day 838–What the What?

Abby didn’t like the dinner or dessert I made tonight. Since I’ve apparently lost my one source of usefulness, this doesn’t bode well. But I’ll cover all that down below.

In other news, Jerry Jones is still a moron.  He might be (obviously is) a very good businessman, but he has no clue how to construct a football team.  The draft hurt my head and my pride as a Cowboys fan.  I think this might be the year I become a Broncos fan full-time. Ugh.

Breakfast–A banana with some dark chocolate peanut butter. We got these snazzy little single-serving packets of PB at World Market…they’re obviously hella expensive (they were on sale when I bought them, no worries) but they sure do make good breakfasts.

Lunch–Another omelet, this time with three eggs, and then the last of my leftover taco meat.  We had a good run, you and I. I’ll miss you dearly.  I also had some Way Better snacks chips.

Dinner–I handmade chicken pot pie people. HANDMADE. And I’ll even claim it was all from scratch, even though the pie dough I attempted was a bit of a debacle given the warmth in our apartment and that I didn’t have any chilled shortening.  Alton Brown has this great trick where he keeps his shortening in a bowl of ice water to keep it cold before use, and I remembered that little trick as I was scraping pie goo out of my food processor.  Next time I’ll do better.  But I browned/roasted some chicken thighs, added my mirepoix, made my own gravy (from a roux!) and then covered it all in puff pastry I always keep on hand.  It looked good, it smelled good, it tasted phenomenal…and Abby didn’t like it. At all.  So I ate like half the dang dish by myself. Booooooooo.

Dessert–I made raspberry-lime meringue tartlets to take to the gathering of the thugs on Thursday, and Abby was “So full, she couldn’t eat one, but she was SOOOO excited to try one on Friday…” and then she took a bite and wasted the rest of it.  Said the (amazing, store-bought) key lime curd tasted funny.  IT TASTED LIKE AWESOME TASTES LIKE. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

So there you go.  More dolce bars tomorrow.

Someone buy some desserts from me. Don’t use Abby as a reference. She’s weird.

Have a good one.

Day 836–B is for Graduate

Trust me…the irony of that title is not lost on me. Contrary to what may happen on here, I really am quite smart. And funny.

The fact of the matter is that I got my grade back on my “missing course,” and it was a B. I’m totally okay with that, given it took me five years to finish it and I did the final work in about a week.  If I can manage an A in my Conflict Resolution course (not a given, since I haven’t seen a single grade yet and I have no idea how this guy grades) then I’ll finish strong and raise my GPA up to a pretty solid level.

And that wasn’t even the best part of the day!

Our anniversary isn’t for another three and a half weeks, but REI-Outlet decided to have a ridiculous sale on something I’ve wanted for a while, and I had a coupon…so on May 2nd I’ll have a brand-spanking-new city bike to take to the grocery store and run errands!  It’ll cut down on gas, it’ll get me some exercise/fresh air, and it’ll cut down on the amount of groceries I buy at one time, which should help with freshness and quality.  I’m really pumped to get that bike!

Breakfast–Finished off the scones. Stop judging me.

Lunch–Omelet with leftover ground beef and peppers/onions from our empanadas the other night.  Two eggs, one cup of delicious taco filling, and lunch is served.

Snack–Chocolate chip cherry torte Larabar.  I did a pretty decent job of keeping the meals down on calories, but it meant I needed to snack a bit.  Not a bad thing in moderation.

Dinner–Pork chops with homemade chipotle-peach glaze and sauteed green beans with shallots and garlic.  And yes…it was just as good as it sounds, especially when the chops were finished with a little minced cilantro from my balcony.

Dessert–Graham cracker mini tart shell (store bought…I have to get rid of things I already purchased before making my own) with a dollop of raspberry curd, fresh raspberries, and all topped with chocolate whipped cream. It was pretty awesome, and we didn’t have to spend money/gas going out and getting dessert.  Use what I’ve got!

Lunch tomorrow with some friends and then time with the thugs.

Have a good one.

Day 835–Rustic Living

I’m in love with the farm-to-table concept.

I think this is potentially bad news, especially since the air quality in Houston seems to kill plants before they have a chance to live (They’re just children! WHYYYYYY?) if the funky blackened spots on my basil seem to be any indicator).  Yes, that’s right…my basil is turning black, my cilantro is turning yellow, and my jalapeno is actually doing just fine.  Granted, when planting the cilantro it suffered a three-story fall off of a poorly constructed hanging system (totally my fault) but still…yellow? Ugh.

Anyways, when coming back from Abilene a couple of months ago I had a chance to talk to Grant Willis, our resident FFA genius.  He was talking about hydroponics/aquaponics (a dream of mine…) and farming and raising animals and basically being completely self-sufficient. It was fascinating and made me incredibly jealous.  Therefore…here’s my summer project.

If I can help it, I don’t want to buy any groceries that I can make.

There are going to be exceptions to this, obviously.  I’m buying dried pasta, because its easy and cheap enough to offset the amount of flour/eggs it would take to make it all.  I bought raspberry curd today, because, well…who the heck wants to make raspberry curd?

But if I want ice cream, I’m going to make it.  It’ll taste better, and the effort I’ll have to go through means I have to REALLY WANT ICE CREAM.  I’m making my own tomato sauce now, because its freaking incredible.  And I want to start making my own bread…which so far has been kind of weird.  Sourdough starters are strange beasts.  In a week I’ll either have bread or “world’s greatest ticky-tack/starting point for the zombie apocalypse.”  I’ll keep you all posted.

Breakfast–Ironically, white chocolate raspberry scones. From a bag mix.  In my defense, I made this decision after breakfast. They were really REALLY good though.

Exercise–Quick two mile walk around the lake because Abby had boot camp tonight and we didn’t want to make it worse than it was already going to be.

Lunch–Genghis Grill.  We were going to get fish, but the stupid place didn’t open until 4. Who does that?  I had my usual bowl, only with chicken instead of shrimp. Nice change up…I enjoyed a lunch date with Abby very much.

Dinner–A smoothie!  Abby’s idea.  Two cups of cherries, a cup of pineapple, a cup of strawberries, and cherry yogurt.  Amazingness.

Snack–I finished off the proscuitto alongside a handful of dates.  It was gooooood, and added a nice salty element the smoothie obviously lacked.

Cooking dinner tomorrow and hopefully getting word on degree/job stuff.

Have a good one.

Day 834–Out on the Town

My one goal for today was to keep the mojo from the weekend going.  I’d say I succeeded.

My first stop was to World Market, on the recommendation of Casey Toy. BOO CASEY TOY.  Apparently there’s a reason I’ve never been in that place before…I would never want to leave.  I described it to Abby as a mini-mart version of Pier 1, Whole Foods, and Sur la Table all rolled into one.  There was good food and fun cooking tools and wicker baskets. Which is why Abby will never be allowed to go there. Abby has a weird weakness for wicker baskets and putting things in organizational containers.  I think she might have containers for her containers.  It makes me uncomfortable. I, on the other hand, got some wicked awesome scones and a mesh strainer.  It’s the simple things that make me happy.

Next stop was lunch. So I’ll talk about that later.

After that I got my hair did.  It’s amazing how, even with my lovely hairline that’s running away faster than I ever could and male pattern baldness getting all up in my business, I can still be shaggy as heck in just a short time.  I look better now. Which isn’t saying a ton.

Pretty solid day in Katy I must admit.  And tomorrow is Abby’s day off, so it’ll be even better!

Breakfast–Last piece of blueberry buckle. I’ll miss you, mediocre blueberries.

Lunch–Mission Burrito.  I’ve heard good things about it…and it was decidedly “Meh.”  Chipotle is still the best.  And Freebirds is still a solid second. And Qdoba and Mission and all the other knockoffs not named Sharky’s are decidedly third.  I had a beef fajita bowl with cilantro-lime rice and veggies and corn and cilantro and lettuce and what I think was the tomatillo salsa.  I’m sorry I cheated on you Chipotle.

Dinner–Pasta! Whole wheat penne with roasted broccoli, chicken-apple sausage, caramelized onions, homemade tomato sauce, and basil FROM OUR BALCONY.  Boom.

Dessert–Creme Brulee.  Figured it was time to finish it.

Have a good one.