Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I Heart the Midwest

Most of you know by now that Ben, my brilliant husband, recently got into a post-graduate program at Northwestern.  As elated as I am about this fact, I can’t help but feel a little heartbroken at the prospect of at least 2 more years in the cold, dreary Midwest.  Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely proud of Ben, he worked his tail off to get accepted and I am bursting with pride.  But I am also bursting with pride at his acceptance to University of Washington, University of Texas Austin and University of Colorado Boulder, and am just a tad bit morose that I will not be living out my dream of shopping at Pike’s Place Market every other day for fresh seafood and veggies.

So, in order to become more excited about the idea that we are going to be here for yet another two years, here’s a list of things that I actually do like about living in the Midwest (for once, sarcasm aside…)

  1. Being only a short drive (and hopefully some free tickets) away from going to any Notre Dame home game
  2. Being the same short drive away from J.W. Chen’s, the best Chinese food place on the planet
  3. The El and the Metra – reminds me of the ease of commuting that I once loved in Germany.  If only we lived closer to Chicago to actually utilize them like we want
  4. Strawberry fields in the summer and apple orchards in the fall
  5. IMG_20140429_080302IMG_20131013_104123
  6. Day drinking in Milwaukee
  7. Sailing on Lake Michigan
  8. Summer street festivals in the city
  9. Scarves!  And the valid excuse to have so many of them
  10. The leaves changing – more specifically, sending pictures of the leaves changing to my mother who loves it even more than I do
  11. IMG_20131003_175602
  12. The pretty, quietness of the first snow fall (If only it all melted immediately afterwards and never came back)
  13. A true and total appreciation for the great star we call The Sun, something an Arizona girl never had before
  14. Family – after living so many places in the middle of nowhere (ahem, McAllen, TX and Terre Haute, IN), it is so wonderful to live near family again.  They may not be my blood relatives, but we’re all in-laws now and I couldn’t ask for better people
There we go.  12 real reasons that I will actually look forward to for the next few years.  And once these April Showers go away (May Flowers have been promised, you know), I plan to enjoy number 5 as soon as is weather-permitting possible.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Return to the Land of the Living

We have cable again.

I gave up cable about a year ago when I finally got fed up at the exorbitant prices that Comcast had the nerve to charge me for *basic* cable and internet.  I pulled the cable plug and we have been Netflix only devotees ever since.  That was until Tuesday.  On Tuesday, we rejoined the land of the living.  That's right, cable has reentered our lives.

I didn’t really realize how much I missed cable until we were on our honeymoon.  Immediately, I was hooked again.  Before you freak out and worry that I spent our entire honeymoon glued to the TV, let me reassure you that was not the case.  However, I watched so much more Food Network on our honeymoon than I personally care to admit.  Basically every time that Ben got in the shower, I immediately plopped down on the most comfortable bed ever and flipped on the TV.  I had the Food Network channel instantly memorized (channel 33, if my memory is worth anything).  And my eyes were glued to that glowing screen like a toddler discovering Barney for the first time.  I had quit cold turkey, and just like that, my addiction found me.  Even after Ben rejoined me, clean and dry, it took a little bit of convincing to get me to turn the magic box off.  And, if Chopped was on, forget it – we we’re watching to the last basket.

Ridiculousness aside, once we return to the good old Midwest, Ben also realized that he also missed the opportunity that flipping through channels with a remote afforded him and after a mere 12 hours on the phone to Comcast (and 1 trip to their actual place of business) – side note, I have a burning hatred for the cable company, but another post, another time – TV has returned.  It was a joyous occasion in the newlywed household.

And, do you think my loving husband decided that maybe we should have Food Network?

No.  It’s almost as if he realizes that 50% of the reason that I go to the gym on the weekend is to watch Cutthroat Kitchen…

Friday, April 25, 2014

Goodwill Run #14

Ben moved into my apartment the week before the wedding.  Luckily, I have (now we have) a two-bedroom apartment and absorbing his one bedroom apartment was relatively easy.  For the first four minutes it was lovely and happy and all “yay, we live together!!”  Soon after, however, we got down to the dirty details.  To make a prolonged argument short, the next month basically boiled down to: “If I’m donating this to Goodwill, what are you willing to give up?”

Numero uno on the list of items immediately being taken to Goodwill was Ben’s forest green, faux leather Laz-Z-Boy reclining sectional.  What I did not expect was having to donate the ridiculously comfy, late 1980’s burgundy lounge couch that I had inherited from my sister, who had inherited it from my aunt, who had inherited it from my grandparents.  In all fairness, it did give up its living room floor space to a beautiful, heirloom hutch, but I was inconsolable for a good half of the afternoon, wallowing over the couch shaped hole in my heart.

It is a really pretty hutch.
It went back and forth like this for a while, both of us slowly giving up on things we had once held dear.  Finally, this weekend, in a bout of spring cleaning, I cautiously approached my closest.  It was time to share the space equally and give 38% to Ben (He’s a boy, that is a fair amount).  This was a big step. 

First to go was the dress that I wore for both my Senior year homecoming and the first college dance that I went to with husband dearest (aahh….).  Next, were a few other dresses leftover from high school dances, one poor summer dress choice that I only wore once and the dress I wore to a junior high Christmas concert.  I was only 3 garments in and even I had to admit that maybe a good closest cleansing was long overdue.

The next hour was spent removing somewhat questionable choices from my wardrobe.  In my defense, most of the bad decisions were made in my teen years.  Why I am still hanging on to them 8 years later may be another bad decision entirely.  Garment after somewhat neatly folded garment landed in the Goodwill bag: at least 2 shirts with hoods, 3 “Henley” shirts, 1 shirt with thumb holes in the sleeves (for those cold AZ afternoons?), too many way too see-through shirts. 

AE Women's Skinny Henley (Olive Jar)
Remember these? Unfortunately, I do too well.
The Goodwill bag soon became over-flowing, my closet was looking slimmer and more grown-up and Ben excitedly received his newly vacated chunk of closet real estate. It was a win-win situation. Except maybe for Goodwill, but who knows… short sleeve t-shirts with hoods could totally come back in style.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ending the Night with Piano Man

I initially was going to start this post off with “One of my favorite memories from our wedding day…” but then I realized that there were no less than 26 moments before then that were also favorites and at least 3 moments afterwards too and saying one of my favorite made it seem like there were only maybe 3 favorite moments, when basically the entire day was completely baller.  And so I decided to start this post with a nice little rambling paragraph and then proceed to tell you about a moment during the wedding day that was utterly fantastic. 

View More:
The First Dance

It wasn’t the first dance, but rather the last.  A slightly imbibed sort-of quickstep to the Billy Joel’s infallible classic.  Like many college bars around the nation, there was a bar near the Notre Dame campus that followed the unwritten, drunken collegiate statute that the last song to be played before the lights go on and the crowd gets kicked out is Piano Man.  I don’t know why and it doesn’t quite make sense to me, but it is a law that is strictly adhered too.  Understandably, when our DJ asked what we wanted our last song to be, we knew we’d be ending the night with Piano Man.  It looked nothing like the classy picture above.  Classy could be the last adjective on earth, and it still couldn’t be used to describe the spin Ben and I took around the dance floor to the last song.  To paint a picture for you:

 The bottom half inch of my dress was dirty and the bustle was basically completely torn out by that point.  I was barefoot and bounding as much as my fluffy, white skirt would let me as Ben swung me around the circle of singing, swaying party goers.  Everyone was singing.  My feet were barely able to find the actual dance floor, but were instead slipping on layer after layer of tulle, even though it felt as though I had half of my poofy skirt gathered in the crook of my left arm.  My right hand was desperately clutching at Ben’s hand, letting him know that he was the only thing keeping us both upright and not in a sad heap on the dance floor.  It was exhilarating and terrifying, mostly the latter.  And I’m pretty sure I was giggling manically.  Ultimately, even though I felt like Belle, spinning around the grand ballroom in Beauty and the Beast, I’m sure it looked more like the failure montage from Save the Last Dance.

Fritsch Wedding-Liz and Ben Reception Part 1-0460
This is what fear looks like in a wedding dress
It felt like it lasted 10 minutes, but when Ben and I finally paused to catch our breath and help me find my feet, Billy Joel was only just singing about the waitresses practicing their politics.  We finished the song off in a less-frenzied mannered, everyone coming together and belting the final “we’re all in the mood for a melody” with the gusto only capable of the truly elated (or for some, the truly inebriated).  And then it was over all too soon.

I cherish this moment so much, simply because while I was being whirled around and fearing for my life (ok, I’ll be honest, fearing for my dress…), I was able to sneak in a few glances and have those thoughts I am told everyone has at least once on their wedding day.

I looked at my now husband, whom at that very moment I was entrusting with my terrified life, the man who I had had a crush on since the moment I meet him in the hallway our Freshman year.  I saw his happiness and his joy, twirling me around and showing off one of the best things about us as a couple, our ability to be silly with one another (you didn’t think I was going to say our dancing ability, did you?).  I felt my complete and utter trust in him, to not let me fall no matter what, even if all we were doing at the moment was true acrobatic dancing.

I looked at our family and friends.  Between all 160 of them, thousands and thousands of frequent flyer points, many highway miles and quite a few hotel rooms, all there to celebrate with us and what our relationship had become.  I’m sure the warm weather encouraged a few to make the trip, but they were there through it all.  From the hectic rehearsal dinner to the sparkler send off the next night, they were there: happy, excited, present.

I know that the next time I hear the iconic harmony of piano and harmonica, I will happily remind myself of these lucky few facts.  A strong, supportive (literally) husband with whom I can be my silly self and our friends and family who want nothing but to see these two silly kids happy.  And with any luck, I’ll be at the dive Notre Dame bar surrounded by the world’s best singers of Piano Man.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

It’s All in the Name

As might have been gleaned from my first post, I used to have a cooking blog.  It was called, drumroll please, The Big Green Cookbook.  It had nothing to do with eco-friendly ways of cooking your morning egg or any other similar lofty goal.  Rather, I had bought a green photo album from Target and was subsequently working my way through cooking magazines and Smitten Kitchen’s entire recipe archive trying to find delicious nuggets that I could fill the cookbook with.  Even now, I believe in theory that this is a good basis for a blog.  Well, a good basis if you aren’t me.  I kept at it solidly for a good year and a half, but then it started to taper off.  Long story short, I was damn tired of taking pictures of my food instead of immediately eating it and therefore, after two and a half years and 151 posts, The Big Green Cookbook was dead.

No one really was that sad.  Maybe no one even notice.  Case in point, just a few days ago my own mother mentioned that she needed to go out to my blog to catch up on it.  I almost didn’t have the heart to tell her that I hadn’t posted anything since September 25 of last year.

Obviously, the entirety of the failure was due to the fact that for a cooking blog, “The Big Green Cookbook” is a terrible name.  I mean, what I was thinking?  Not only did I decide to randomly start a blog one arbitrary Thursday night in late March, but I also immediately gave it the death blow by naming it Big Green Cookbook.  I was bound and determined to not let that happen this time around.  So I thought about a good name for about 2.5 days.  Here’s the basic rundown of what my thinking process looked like:
  • Initial suggestion, made during the infamous lunch where the idea for another blog was started, was “I Do, We Did”.  My first thought?  “And We’re Done!”.  Not a positive blog title.
  • “Waxing Witty”, “The Witty Wife”, “Wholehearted Wit”.  I’m great at alliteration, but not wit.  Not sure where I was going there.
  • “Happy Wife, Happy Life”.  I am warning you once, but I will put it in bold letters because it is that important.  Do NOT Google “Happy Wife Happy Life Blog” at work.  It is decidedly inappropriate and, sorry if this is slightly judgmental of me, but just straight weird.  Don’t do it.
  • And finally, after a brain-storming session with loyal blog reader #1 (aka, my college roommate), “Life Tweaking”.  Which lead to “Life Twerking”, which obviously lead to “Twerking through Life”.  Believe it or not, that was the front runner for about 7 hours, even if I’m not 100% sure what twerking is (a dance move that is tactless when performed in public and should only be done on one’s husband?)
Inevitably, it took a hot shower one day after working out to realize I should probably be somewhat serious and do something that is uniquely me.  And, seeing as I’m about 29% straight nerd and overly proud of the fact that I am a chemical engineer, something chemical engineer-y seemed appropriate.  Obviously the Peng-Robinson equation of state was my first thought (actually, I’m pretty sure I only solved that correctly like maybe twice, and was so proud of it each time), but it was already taken on Blogger.  So, I decided to go back to day one, Cheg 101: Energy In always equals Energy Out.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Energy In = Energy Out

I was at lunch a few Fridays ago with some of the girls from work (sushi… yum) and the conversation turned to the two newly married gals and what life was like now.  We shared the typical “it’s not all that different” stories and then I launched into how it was great actually, since Ben has basically taken over doing the laundry.  I told an anecdote about his sorting system, how we now had 4 hampers in our bedroom, how I still wasn't quite sure what clothes went into which one and how I get yelled at when I put my work shirt in the dark colored good clothes hamper and not the light color good load hamper where it belonged (I’m still confused about that one…).  We all had a good laugh and someone proposed that I start a blog about life as a new married couple.  I shrugged the suggestion off, citing my failed attempt at a cooking blog, and returned to my miso-ginger salad.

But the idea festered. 

It would be easier than a cooking blog.  There would be no need to stop sautéing the mushrooms in order to stand on a chair and awkwardly lean over a hot stove, just to get a picture.  No guilt that I should be trying new recipes, when really all I want to make is the same recipe I've made 4 weeks in a row because damn it, it’s the best pizzacrust ever.   And, most importantly, no denying myself and the significant other the pleasure of actually eating hot, delicious food instead of trying desperately to get the perfect, finished shot before the sun disappears and hey, would you look at that, the food’s cold, again  (coincidentally, the worst thing about food blogging ever).

Adding more fuel to the “maybe I should do this”, I love writing.  I think of things to say and then spend half my afternoon enjoying ruminating on the thought until I’ve found the right words to express it.  Plus, I've convinced myself over the years that I am, in fact, pretty witty and clever.  And apparently, between our newlywed antics and my fabulous story telling ability, The Husband and I are funny.  Maybe.  And maybe this could work.

So, with Ben’ full support (which I have it in writing, thank you Gmail!) and a handful of potential writing topics, I’d like to welcome you to Energy In Equals Energy Out, a place where I basically get to ramble on in the name of ever increasing entropy.