Try It Tuesday: Monogram

I received one of my favorite pieces of jewelry as a high school graduation gift.

I wear this bracelet almost every day. There are many reasons why I love this piece: 1. it’s fairly flat so it doesn’t bother me as I type on the computer at work, 2. it’s silver (my preference between gold and silver), 3. it’s a classic, timeless piece, and 4. it’s got my initials on it.

Monogramming a gift not only personalizes it, but allows the gift to serve as an identifier. It also gives it a bit of preppiness. I’ve come to love this bracelet even more now as I realize that I will be changing my initials in a few short months. This bracelet has the potential to be passed along throughout our hypothetical family and means that even though I’ll soon be Mrs. JA, this small piece of me will always be JAJ.

Call me narcissistic, but I’d like to think that this monogram is preserving a piece of my family’s history.

Like this post? Check out other things I recommend on my Try It Tuesday page.

On Communication and Unconditional Love

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I went to Mass and while I was there I saw a family: a mother, a father, a young son and a baby daughter. The kids were being kids – chatting away, trying to read, interacting with their parents and, in general, being distracting.

The parents did their best to keep the children subdued and it got me thinking. My siblings and I are three years apart. Meaning when I was seven, my brother was four and my sister was one. I can’t even imagine how much of a handful we were when we were that age (and younger). It’s not like Dad wasn’t around, but I’m sure there were times when it was just one of them parenting by themselves.

Having that revelation led to another one – I haven’t exactly been great about telling Mommy and Daddy Janks how much I appreciate them. While saying ‘thanks for dinner’ or giving a hug is great, I’m sure it’s nice for them to hear how much I appreciate all the sacrifices they made (and continue to make) to make sure each part of our family, including their future, is as strong as stable as possible.

All of us have regrets. Whether it’s something we said/didn’t say or did/didn’t do, if we’re lucky, we have the chance to rectify the situation. I think more than the flowers, card, and dessert, the fact that I told my mom the same story I told you and then acknowledged how great of a job she did in raising all three of us went further than any material object. Her unconditional love has supported me through highs and lows. She has successfully made the transition from my caretaker/disciplinarian to my friend and, with every friendship, deserves the right to be unexpectedly acknowledged for her awesomeness.

So here’s to all the wonderful people in our lives – mothers or not. Thanks for those who love us unconditionally, who treat us better than we sometimes should be treated and who see things in us that we can’t see ourselves. For those who push us to be better, who celebrate with us fully and who, unfortunately, are sometimes overlooked. You rock!

Another Year (Almost) Gone

Last night, I was out late – but not like you would think. It was Mother/Son Dinner at school and I decided to help out. It’s one of the end-of-year activities for the boys and it was great to be able to treasure some of their last nights with them. Additionally, it’s wonderful to see/meet the Moms. In some instances, it was my first time meeting the mothers of the boys who have been in our office all year!

HOWEVER, being on my feet all night serving and chatting with over 66 mother/son combos has me beat.

Yet, the world doesn’t stop. Next year-end activity – prom tomorrow night 🙂

Hope you have a great weekend!

Chick Lit

After reading 13 Reasons Why, I needed something a bit lighter to read. I finished last month’s Book Club book, The Night Circus, but was still yearning for a book with less substance.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a book that challenges me, changes my point of view, or to which I am emotionally invested. But sometimes you just need a piece of mindless chick lit.

Enter, Queen of Babble Gets Hitched. It’s written by Meg Cabot. She also wrote the Princess Diaries.

Judge away. I drank that book in like a cool sip of lemonade on a hot, humid summer day. It was awesome. Perfectly mindless chick lit. A palette cleanser, if you will.

Alas, I finished it yesterday and am now looking for another book to read.

Any suggestions of books that should be on my list?

Lovey Dovey

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. Last night, when I got home from work, I came home to find this in the mailbox (in an envelope, of course).

It’s the USB drive with our engagement photos on it! Not gonna lie – even though I had already seen the proofs, I ran back to my place to view them in all their glory without the word ‘Proof’ written on them.

The JA and I are so pleased with how they turned out. (He actually uttered the phrases, “Holy crap!” and “I think these are some of the best pictures I’ve ever taken.”)

Extreme thanks go out to Ariel Lewis, for her great job on my makeup, and our photographer, Helen, with Maria Linz Photography. We had a blast during the engagement session and can’t wait to see what you capture at our wedding!

Try It Tuesday: Texas Chilie Dip

Whatever you have planned for the rest of the week, put it off. Make this dip. You can thank me later. My good friend (and co-matron of honor) Pouchoey made this dip last year for a tailgate and was kind enough to pass along the recipe. I completely forgot about it until I offered to host Book Club and was in need of a somewhat healthy snack. I dug up the recipe and, let me tell you, it was a hit.

In fact, this dip is so good that I’m making it again this week for when the JA has friends coming into town. The ingredients are in my house, but I’m putting off making it until mid-week. Why, you ask? Because I know the minute it’s finished, I will have a chip in hand ready to taste test a little (or a whole heck of a lot).

Without further ado….

Texas Chilie Dip

Mix together in a bowl:

2 cups frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 cup chopped red or green pepper (I use red for color, and generally put in one whole medium sized pepper)
1 small can jalapenos, drained
1 bunch green onion, chopped (all white and green parts) – OPTIONAL

In a sauce pan, bring to a boil:

1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Boil ingredients until sugar dissolves. Let cool. Pour liquid mixture over ingredients in the bowl. Let marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Drain liquid off. Serve with chips!

You’re welcome.

Hey! If you liked this recipe, check out other delightful things I’ve made on my Recipes page.

Dead or Alive?

Last week, I was listening to a radio show and the hosts were having a conversation about whether chivalry was dead or alive. It got me thinking about gender roles, women’s independence and how the dissemination of information – especially police activity, have impacted the idea of chivalry in today’s society.

The DJs talked about two separate situations: the first being at a gas station where a man was sitting in a car while the woman pumped gas. The DJs said that the guy should have gotten out and pumped the gas. The second situation occurred on the side of the road. The male DJs had gone out for food and saw a lady in need of help with her car on the side of the road. After pulling over and asking if she needed help, the woman refused. The male DJs left the scene baffled as to why someone clearly in need of help would refuse it.

Here are my thoughts on the two scenarios: Situation #1 – I have no issue with pumping my own gas. What if it was the woman’s car and she wants to pay for gas herself? The JA and I often go places together and have to fuel up. Especially if I’m driving my car, I have no issue with paying and pumping my own gas. Situation #2 – When I got a flat tire on the highway, I called my Dad (the geographically closest trusted male) to help me out. If he wasn’t available, I would have called AAA. (One of the best investments I have, not only for the roadside assistance, but also for the hotel discounts.)

The DJs then took calls from the audience. Before I arrived at my destination, the main consensus was that women nowadays aren’t opposed to the idea of chivalry. However, with the spread of information and the increase of knowledge about men attacking women in a vulnerable position, women would much rather handle some situations themselves than accept the help of a stranger.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. What do you think of chivalry? Is it dead or just subdued?