Thursday, September 30, 2010

autumnal bliss

i REALLY love fall. yeah, i know, it ain't happenin' in TEJAS - but i can dream. and i definitely catch myself thinking about turning leaves, homemade applesauce and everything pumpkin! my only attempt at fall related decor so far this year (i'm kind of proud, i won't lie. silly, i know!)













it's been nice around here. a slow start to the semester, which i am thankful for. and aside from the pesky demand of my violin scale class to memorize a new set of scales and arpeggios (which equal many hours of pain and frustration for me) i am doing quite well with the happiness factor. it's amazing what a slow start to a year can do for your demeanor!

somehow i feel like this year is one of new beginnings. i understand last year with a, i don't know, MARRIAGE?? was a new start. but this year is a different kind. a cleansing of sorts. and that cleansing has shaped up to be apartment related, spiritual and also very much phsyical. in fact, Greg and i are currently on day 11 of the Maker's Diet (although he cheated once with Chic-fil-a!) the Maker's Diet is a 40 day cleanse intended mostly for those of us with chronic diseases but a lot of Americans have been using it to lose weight as well. i have been feeling funny lately and have been really convicted about changing my eating habits. i have done the diet once before but didn't keep it as a lifestyle like i should. at first, all i could think about was donuts and everything flour and sugar related. but recently, i have been a little more inspired in my meal preparation.

and can i just say? if you don't love butternut squash, you have GOT to try it like this!!! my new favorite for sure. found it on the greatest blog, thanks to amanda zambrano!

we eat a lot of salads and fresh vegetables and splurge on a salad with a few dried cranberries in it.

my new project will be to make homemade whey to ferment my own vegetables (never knew how good THAT could be for you!) and i also need to locate some sprouted flour or learn how to make my own. it's a ton of work - but ridding our bodies of the awful preservatives in everything EVERYTHING on the shelves, is so crucial. we both feel a lot better already.

now, i leave you... to prepare for the extravaganza weekend celebrating my birthday. ok, fine, nothing crazy is happening but i am going to be 25 on monday and i feel like this is the last birthday i have to look forward to for a while and i just really like the number.

special thanks to the Luce clan - and my beautiful new lamps for our night stands. LOVE THEM <3



happy birthday to me :D

Saturday, September 4, 2010

the most wonderful surprise

i write this post, still dumbfounded by the events that took place approximately a week and a half ago. let me start from the beginning:

on a drive home from colorado to delaware, monica and i were sitting at her friend's house. monica is on her computer and sits up for a second and says " DID YOU SEE THAT?" when in reality, i had no glasses on and saw nothing. this short conversation made me quite curious about what she was up to. sidenote: monica is a really bad liar, so i knew it was maybe something special.

once i am in delaware for a few days before leaving for finland, another suspicious event takes place. my dad asks me to show him how to check his messages on facebook and when i did, i happened to see a message entitled "Let's Surprise the Luce's!" - but by God's almighty power, i for once in my life, had self control. it was the strangest thing. women in my family are just snoops. it's what we do, if given the chance :D so instead of reading it, i tell my mom to HURRY UP and read this secret message so that i can know what it is about! at the time, my dear mother lied to me and said "awww honey, it's sweet BUT don't get your hopes up." and there it went. i figured it was something nice but small and i let it go.

fast forward about two weeks to august 22 - our first anniversary. it was quite an emotional day for me with Halo happenings. because of this, when my dear friend Christian played "beauty" to me in our improv. session (which happened to be the song Greg and i danced to) i LOST it. the day came and went and i thought - hmmm where is that little surprise? no sweet notes from anyone? no nothing? c'mon, guys!! and again, i let it go.

well that was sunday. monday was a rough day also. we were all preparing for our concerts beginning on wednesday, so the few days leading up to these concerts were jam packed. being in charge of the food for 20 people took up every spare moment i had and left me pretty darn tired at the end of each day. so monday night, when jess subtly suggested that we have a "dress up, feel good day" - i was reluctant to say yes. and in the morning when she reminded me to look good and feel good about myself, i thought about it and said.......... NOPE.(bad choice, btw.) so on the 24th of august, i set out in my mostly homeless attire with ratty hair, no make up and hardly brushed teeth. while most had the morning off, my constant grocery companion daniel perry, set off for grocery ritual with me(which includes a lot of sweat, somehow) with a rehearsal to follow.

the rehearsal went well and we ended with a run through of the copland (appalachian springs.) during the middle of the run through, i noticed that jess was tearing up. i mean yeah, she can be emotional sometimes. so i thought about getting her a kleenex then realized i was supposed to be playing and hoped she would be alright. but after her sniffles, laura started up, too! at this point i am thinking "ok, i know we sound better. we sound good even... but NOT that good!" and before i know it, the run through is over - and james is asking for my violin (thanks to pauliina who realized what an expensive surprise it could have been had i dropped my instrument....) and bewildered, i look up - and see the impossible. Greg, walking towards me like a ghost. and my honest to goodness first thought is - crap, we all died and we're rehearsing in HEAVEN? DANGIT. NOT IDEAL! this is the point at which i shut up and hugged him for what seemed like an eternity. to make that even better (which isn't actually possible) we had a clean sheet to sleep on thanks to our friends AND a night in a hotel!

i am still completely overwhelmed and thankful for the gracious generosity of our friends and family. i cannot fathom the love and selflessness that you all have. you have truly touched both of us to the core and we wish to do something as great for each of you.

after not being able to have a honeymoon and then getting to go on a great getaway and being sick, this wonderful surprise made up for any of the sadness i had about those things. time and time again, you all show us how much you love us. and each time, i don't know how to respond. i just love you all. thank you, from the bottom of my heart <3

Sunday, August 22, 2010

anna.versary.



hello world.

i really stink at blogging, apparently. which is too bad. because i think i would like to remember what has gone on in my life - since it goes by at the speed of light.

but i can only deal with the present at this time. so, i will stick with that.

i am in FINLAND! and today is my very first wedding anniversary. these are both exciting things. so you get to hear about both :D

i left delaware, after spending some quality time with family and friends <3 on august 16 - to travel with seven others of the Halo Ensemble to finland. after a delayed flight to detroit, a three-fold departure attempt to amsterdam and one missed flight later, we finally reached helsinki. after a few buses and a subway, we were finally at Pauliina's house on an "island" off of Helsinki. it is really just separated by a small channel.

Pauliina lives with two guys, her brothers, she calls them. they are both super amazing people who have kindly given their home over to over 20 insane musicians. one of them even moved out, so that we could use his room. (please pray for him. he has been in the hospital with meningitis for a few days now from the place where he was staying. we are praying for a quick recovery for him!!)

so far, we haven't seen any sights. by day, we have been rehearsing in a church about 15 minutes by foot. we come back for lunch and finish before dinner. both meals are at P's house - she has a tiny kitchen, which we destroy and clean up at least three times a day. this says nothing about her living room. but thank goodness her blessed roommates built us a table for 20 in the back yard. at night, all of us for the most part, walk a few blocks down the road to sleep in a different church. every evening the girls move their "mattresses" upstairs and make our beds, only to wake up at 730 and move them back down before the day care people arrive. it's quite an event and pretty tiring at times. oh, by the by - ALL of us shower here:


the dynamic here will change after tomorrow. so far, two of Pauliina's friends and Halo's prayer team, Kaisa and Valtteri were here until last night. and also, an improv. instructor from Germany leaves tomorrow. with Kaisa's departure, the role of food making became mine entirely. hopefully we will survive :D so far, i have only burnt one pan of baked french toast - it was still edible. with our improv. leader leaving, we will hopefully have time for more rehearsal...

and now, it is time to prepare the afternoon snack. thankfully, today has been a slow one for me, which i am so thankful for. it is really difficult to be away from Gregory today. but it worked out so that i was actually able to sleep until 930 AND i was able to go on a run by the lake and through the woods of Finland. and NOW i even have time to blog. really happy about that.

so, instead of moping around missing my boy, i am fondly recollecting all of the wonderful memories from exactly one year ago today.

i truly felt very beautiful. i was so happy to be getting married, it was the least stressful day of my life (which is surprising, considering every bride i have known has been a wreck on wedding day.) my bouquet had really cool pods in it. i had amazing blue shoes. i was completely ecstatic about having the best bridal party, musicians and friends in the world. my parents were the biggest blessing to me. i married in to a wonderful family. couldn't ask for more, really. those were all just added bonuses to the obvious- Gregory Raymond Luce!

here's to many more!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

r&r




what is a perfect day?

one that involves good sleep, great music and delicious recipes. and this Easter proved to be just that! in fact, the last couple of weeks have been filled with many joyous occasions.

spring breaks around the nation just kept on giving for me this year, starting with monica's in florida and after mine, katelyn's! she set out on her first trip to the great state of tejas to enjoy some vintage shopping and the occasional ray of sun.

back to Easter... the past weekend was the first non-wedding gig weekend in FOREVER. we are so thankful for wedding gigs (they pay rent yeeeaaah!) but they are really stressful to me and make me a little grumpy at times. so you can imagine the relief i felt this weekend with the break and Greg not having rehearsal on a weekend in austin for the first time since the wedding!

my recipe experiment this time came from a tomato craving. and i decided to do a little side experiment with the focus on our camera.

as all ladies should do when embarking on cooking endeavors, set aside the bling :



the recipes i made weren't anything super special. i did a sun dried tomato baked chicken, a favorite orzo recipe reminiscent of my days living with Monica and Jarcy [and really Dan, too :P] from Giada - can't find a link to it but it is boiled orzo with a simple vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, green onions and feta MMMMM! somehow, HEB ( our lovely, albeit not so diverse grocery store ) did NOT HAVE CHERRY MATERS?!?!? but they DID have strawberry tomatoes! seriously... the BEST tomato i have tasted in a very long time (and my dad used to can them, so i consider myself a bit particular with the fruit!) i strongly suggest picking up some of these if you can find them!





that's all i have for now :D when i start taking better pictures, my blog will be more interesting, right? so i'm going to work on that!

Friday, March 12, 2010

oh the things you never thought you would do

(written on tuesday. posted now! :D)

As I am flying back to Austin with an hour and twenty minutes of flight time left, I have just finished reading through some articles in Women's Running in an attempt to waste time. I picked up this magazine as one of the freebies at the Disney Half Expo this weekend and it is just now hitting me that I CAN read a running magazine (something I NEVER thought I would EVER do) because I just ran my first race. Some people aim for a 5k or even a 10k for their first race. But not me. For some reason,when Monica called me up in October and semi-seriously/semi-jokingly told me that it would be SO FUN to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon with a bunch of our girlfriends,I JUMPED on the idea. I have no idea what possessed me to do so.

My running history is as follows-
Junior Year of College(2006/7) : attempted running for 3 blocks (failed)
Summer of Junior Year : attempted a half mile of running, ended with ankle in air cast and needed an MRI
Summer of 2009 : second real attempt at running, MAYBE struggled through 2 miles (still had ankle issues)
Fall 2009 : decided to run HALF MARATHON, threw on an ankle brace and started running

I am not sure if my logic is always this flawed, but for some reason I decided that I needed a non-musical, anti-academic, physical goal - even one that seemed completely impossible to achieve. And of course it was greatly helped by the fact that girl time at Disney is an inspiration too strong for me to resist.

All of that to say - I called the necessary girlfriends to see who would be interested, and after we all decided to go for it, I started looking at training programs and decided on the one my sister-in-law used. I must admit that I didn't do an ounce of strength training and only made it through the 3 major runs per week. Although next time, I would like to train a little harder (YEAH, NEXT TIME!!) the fact that I increased my mileage like I was supposed to was a miracle. And I have to say I am pretty darn proud of myself for working through each road block that was put in front of me. I struggled with pretty much every ailment known to female runners, and somehow (mostly by coaching of my marathon running friend and the sound advice of other runners:) was able to push through and make it to race day.

After my last long run, which was wildly unsuccessful, I resigned myself to the idea that I just might not finish on race day. But lo and behold when it came to 3 am Sunday morning, I threw on that race bib, my tiara and stuffed immodium in my bra and set off for the shuttle. I have to admit that I have always believed that Disney was the most magical place on earth and even the happiest, but the start of this race was less than that. Smelling like a port-a-potty, freezing in the back fields where Disney keeps the broken ferry boats, and facing the possibility of injury and illness, isn't such a good time. But when the sun came up and the fireworks went off, the overwhelming flood of tutus, tiaras and glitter was enough to get anyone and everyone (14000 people) moving. Perhaps early morning races are the best because you are delirious for about the first 8 miles :D Not to mention the occasional Jack Sparrow, every prince known to mankind and running under Cinderella's castle provided some motivation. With each mile, it was so hard to believe that I was still running, was not in any way in jeopardy of being anywhere near too slow, and that I felt no real physical pain until mile twelve. What a miracle! I was so happy about the whole thing that I shed a little tear at the finish line. Or maybe I was just super excited about the shiny medal :D Either way, I am so glad I had this experience and that I have now been thrown into the running world and can't wait to keep going. If I can do this - SERIOUSLY - anyone can. SO GO RUN :D


Monday, February 22, 2010

around these parts

frequent participant in "dog on table in laundry"

paper eater

but just too cute


alongside her insatiable desire to tear up paper, gatorade caps and toilet paper rolls, this pooch also enjoys dancing on laptops and posters, licking couches and singing along with cell phone ringers, harmonicas and melodicas.

she provides many hours of entertainment and is more so my baby than ever before. she is a little nuts but i love her.

BUT about a week ago, the little rascal decided to throw up all over our dry-clean-only comforter. it was beyond the spot cleaning point and instead of washing just that one area? i decided that the whole thing needed a washing anyway.

Gregory is doing an excellent job with managing our finances and it is very comforting to know that we can still EAT while being students and having no actual income. but it takes a LOT of penny pinching. so, in my frugality, i decided taking this giganormous comforter to the cleaners was absolutely not in the budget. my solution?

-bathing suit
-scoop of GAIN
-tub
-bucket

THE RESULT?

complete and UTTER DISASTER.

-soaked comforter, that not even "grape stomping" could help
-hurting hands from attempted wringing
- wet carpet
-puddles in the dryer and surrounding areas
-about three nearly broken appliances

lesson learned.

thankfully, everything is back in order now :D

THAT WAS A CLOSE ONE.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

make art part 2




i take so much joy in home related things. things that don't involve studying or practicing :D

1. i have been reading pride and prejudice (thanks to a great gift of three austen books for Christmas from my new sister-in-law JANA!!) it is like reading it for the first time! i can't put it down! i try to read during class... whoops?

2. more art projects. this one involves toilet paper rolls. GOING GREEN!!! cut them up, glue them together ET VOILA:







[above idea : thanks to the craftiest person i know, katelyn :D]

i also hung the birdcages from our wedding centerpieces above our bed. i feel like there needs to be something behind it, but no brilliant ideas yet i need blogging friends so i can receive advice on such things. hm!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

babies!



Here she is! GRACE OLIVIA!!! My new niece :D :D :D What a little joy. Can't wait to meet her, although in trying to plan a trip to do so, a professor was very mean to me at school and because of that - it's just been a messy week already. BUT Gregory is bringing home a mcflurry and Harry Potter 6 - YES! We can share gross food (especially after an hour run today, right?) EEEE! My escape continues to be in the kitchen!


Last night's culinary endeavor was a very simple dish that I found on this blog :
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/05/baked-lemon-pasta/

Paired with it (and for some protein) I made a simple salad with vinaigrette and bacon. But not just any ole bacon. Bacon with brown sugar on it! Only bakes for about 10 minutes : p.s. I didn't have a rack to put the slices on and ruined a cookie sheet SO don't do what I did! This is about how much:



The vinaigrette is very simple, too and can be made with the following :


Super typical but very tasty! And this little salad went super well with our piece de resistance!!!




I suggest trying it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

around these parts

this week is a happy week.

despite the fact that i had to endure an awful, awful (but necessary) medical procedure yesterday, i have successfully distracted myself from the unpleasant situation and have found a great deal of joy in many things.

since we have been back, i have been experimenting with different recipes. i'll share the succesful ones with you a little later. (and more for my own documentation! it always stinks to have to go looking up something i found last month!)

aside from the general food planning, monday (the day before the procedure of death) i did massive overhaul cleaning. it is surprising HOW LONG it can take to clean one less-than-800-sqft apartment!! but it took me an entire day! however, there is nothing better than a clean apartment. and in this one right now? a new herb garden! i am so delighted! ok... i shouldn't jump to conclusions. i bought one mint plant and planted 5 herbs on my own... but the pots are cute all by themselves- keeping my hopefully green thumbs crossed for sprouts in the next few days!!

something about live plants! love them! i was so sad this winter that i lost my hanging plants and my hibiscus :( my dear husband, however, had flowers waiting for me when i got home last saturday. and the one lily had 3 blooms, now on it's last one - that's totally the way to make flowers last! i still have a bloom and a half left! AWESOME!

ok the other thing that is making me really happy (that probably shouldn't) is this half marathon training. it's grueling! but so fulfilling... and i am looking alot more toned (PTL) i have never been overweight but i have not been healthy and skinny at the same time, either. so i'm kind of looking forward to that. hoping my body heals really quickly this week so i can get back to running.

ok so while in delaware, i had little to do - and ended up watching a TON of food network shows. the result was an insatiable desire to make dishes by people such as Giada deLaurentiis, Ina Garten and others...

my new cooking plan of attack is to make THREE (count em, ONLY THREE!) meals per week. each of those meals will be made x 2 so that they will be stretched out over two nights. and the SEVENTH night is date night - which for us, is chic fil a or terra burger, usually (which is fine with us!)

but since i had a little more time last week, and in preparation for my impending doom, i mean down time from this procedure : i ended up making the following :

meal one :

salmon with citrus salsa verde (giada) look it up if you care to
the BEST part was that she suggested rubbing Agave on the salmon before pan frying. it made it SO crispy and delicious - with the mix of citrus and herbs, a real hit!!

if you don't know about agave, be enlightened! it's delicious and nutritious! for about the price of honey, too. and minus the adverse affects of sugars. ban the white death and adopt the agave nectar :D




another protein-packed awesome find is quinoa. throw some herbs/ lemon juice and chicken stock in this to be cooked like rice, and reap massive health benefits. it's like a filling carb but it ISN't a grain! delightful. and gluten free.



the other part of the meal was a citrus salad with grapefruit, oranges, fennel and a vinaigrette. i must admit, fennel is too much like licorice - so not my favorite at all.

i also tried my hand at a satay and another salmon pomegranate deal. satay is satay, so it wasn't too special. and i just assume throwing pomegranate seeds on anything is a good idea.

salmoned out for this week. on to... scallops? maybe.


i've worn myself out. time for more medicine and sleep. :D

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2/4

here we go!

another semester.

not sure how i feel about it yet. i have been doing alot ALOT of thinking. i realized over the last few weeks of glorious break, that jumping into a new life (new marriage, new state, new school) took more of a toll on me than i realized. last semester was nothing short of stressful and although i wanted to be happy, and had many reasons to be - if nothing else, an incredibly wonderful husband!! - i still found myself unhappy on many occasions.

i started to worry that something was terribly wrong with me. that i was becoming some sort of uncontrollable ingrate. and obviously, that isn't something anyone really wants to admit, right? but the longer i was away from austin and the first few months of our new life, the more i realized just why life was so stressful. all of that to say, i think i have it figured out now. and i KNOW this semester will be better.

negative thinking patterns are so easy to fall into. but as much of a battle as they are, i need to try even harder to overcome them. i don't really "do" new year's resolutions, but i am going to go ahead and claim that one: so that when Gregory wants to play video games with his friends, when his quartet takes up 7/8 of his day, when i have health issues, when i spend three exhausting hours trying to make dinner.... it's not the end of the world. in fact, although i never like to underestimate the problems of any dear soul, it's REALLY not the end of the world.

in fact...my best guy friend from growing up and a bridesman in our wedding :), Noel Thomas, has started an incredible organization called Redeem the Shadows... which, with God's help, will free many of those trapped in sex slavery in India. it's a heartbraking situation. and one which i would definitely like to help with... so much so, that i have decided the purpose of me pursuing a career in the arts should be to put on concerts whose proceeds will go to organizations such as Noel's. this is a baby idea in my head, but one i really believe is going to come together in some shape or form. and when i stop to be bothered over my own problems or slight inconveniences, these thoughts will help me get over myself - and focus on the future.





in the meantime, i am still nesting in our little apartment. since school doesn't start until next tuesday (and even then, that is biopsy day so i won't go - prayers appreciated for that!) zoe and i have been spending a good deal of time deciding where to put various pieces of art :D

i'm really getting into this painting thing. i'm not very good at it. but i do like it and it is a great stress reliever. i did a landscape for my friend dan and a peacock for my niece annabeth.




and that's that.