Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Across the Finish Line!

The semester is finally over! To be truthful, I really enjoy much of law school—except for finals! I liked most of my classes this semester, and it was a lot of fun being in Immigration Law with Sheila at Case! In particular, Legal Responses to Terrorism was particularly interesting. We read a fantastic book—The Dark Side, by Jane Mayer—and had several stimulating discussions about torture, politics, policy, the War on Terror, and everything else in between. It was like 2004 all over again! Additionally, we had a mid-semester switch of professors in Employment Discrimination; the new professor was phenomenal, and he allowed us to have very stimulating debates about discrimination and policy in the workplace. I came across looking like a complete leftist, which is funny because some of my views on certain issues have gotten slightly more moderate since undergrad.

Finals, though, suck the fun right out of law school. There’s something about knowing your entire semester’s performance depends on a three-hour exam; I suppose it’s like pro football, in which a team can have a perfect season but then lose in the final minute of the Super Bowl and turn into history’s most accomplished footnote. Anyhow, when the semester began, I took a look at my finals schedule and got pretty nervous because I had two sets of back-to-back finals on consecutive days. However, God was good (as he always is) and two of my finals evolved into take-home finals throughout the course of the semester. Unfortunately, this meant that I ended later and I had a final welcoming me back to Cleveland when I returned from Michael and Kalina’s wedding weekend. After taking two take-home finals, I’m not sure if they’re better than taking in-class finals though…both in-class and take-home finals have advantages and disadvantages.

This was definitely a hard semester for both of us—Sheila had a ton of work, I had to submit my Character and Fitness Application for the Ohio Bar Exam, and we both had swine flu! However, God blessed us both abundantly during the semester. I hit a super-low point in December during the last week of classes in which I was so frustrated with law school that I couldn’t fall asleep that night (which subsequently kept Sheila awake too…), and the next day, God completely turned my outlook around and filled my sails with enough wind to sail through the rest of the semester. There were so many random blessings—from giving Sheila the opportunity to meet great friends in her Mandel classes and helping her with her difficult Business Associations class to giving me a much-needed blessing regarding the submission of my last final—that I have emerged from this semester with much more faith than I had when I began the semester back in August. We had a boatload of car issues come up over the past 2 days, and it was such a blessing to be able to confidently know that God was going to help us get all of them resolved so we could safely travel to DC—I’m not sure if I would have been able to be as calm if we hadn’t gone through the struggles of this semester.

I’m very excited about this break—not so much because I’m done with school for the semester, but moreso because I am grateful to have the time to pursue hobbies that I don’t have time to pursue during the school year. Here are several things I’d like to do between now and when we leave for our cruise:

--SEE MOVIES! There are so many great movies in theatres and on video that I’ve missed over the past year. Who’s up for seeing any of the following movies with me? 2012, Invictus, Precious, More Than A Game, the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, Avatar, The Princess and the Frog, Sherlock Holmes, Up in the Air, Inglorious Basterds, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Couples’ Retreat, The Blind Side, Saw VI, Up, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Julie and Julia, and man…there are so many movies I’ve missed!

--WRITE! I started a story based on Samantha and Smith Jerrod last year (no joke) and of course I did not have time to finish it during the school year. I also have been throwing around various novel ideas over the past year that exist on scraps of paper and in my imagination, and I’d like to take ‘em out for a spin and if they turn into anything decent.

--Have fun times in the DC area! There is a killer ice sculpture display at The Gaylord Hotel which looks awesome. We’re supposed to see some old friends from Case too, and hopefully we’ll get to see the old Churchill crowd as well. I know we’ll have lots of great meals and fun times with Sheila’s family too; unfortunately, the weather isn’t nice enough for me to grill! Closing out the summer on their deck by grilling with a Corona in my hand was great, except for when I made that salmon…ugh, it was so bad that I don’t think a cat would have eaten it!

--READ! I started reading The Emperor’s General by Sen. Jim Webb while I was waiting for our car to get fixed and I can’t wait to finish it. I am going to take a book containing stories about families affected by welfare reform on our cruise, as well as hopefully a James Michener novel and perhaps Twilight too.

--Apply for jobs! It was such a relief and blessing to wrap up my job search early on in the spring last year; here’s hoping lightning will strike twice!

I hope that all of you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! The winter weather has been pretty crazy as of late, and I hope that all of you have safe travels and blessed times with family and friends!

Monday, December 14, 2009

BBQ Chicken Pizza!

As many of you know, Joe and I are kind of obsessed with the food network. I'd say 80% of our recipes are from the food network (often with slight modifications/personalizations!), 10% are from cookbooks, magazines, friends, or my mom, and 10% are self-made recipes. I feel like I learn a ton of techniques and make "scary" foods when I'm using food network recipes, but it's exciting to cook something totally on my own - especially if I'm successful!

My favorite self-made recipe is pretty simple.

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

-1 onion, roughly chopped
-1/2 bell pepper, roughly chopped
-1 chicken breast
-paprika
-thyme
-cumin
-garlic powder
-s & p
-hot sauce
-barbeque sauce
-pizza dough (preferably trader joe's herbed pizza dough)
-1/2 cup pepper jack or monterey jack cheese

1. Chop onion and pepper & saute in large skillet on medium heat with 2 tbsp of oil.
2. Season chicken breast with paprika, thyme, cumin, garlic powder, s&p. (However much you'd like!) Cube chicken breast and add to skillet.
3. Saute until onions are soft and brown and chicken is fully cooked.
4. Add a few dashes of hot sauce (depending on how spicy you like it) and about 1/3 cup of barbeque sauce. Stir to combine.
5. Preheat oven and roll dough out based on package instructions. Add chicken mixture, top with cheese, and sprinkle with cilantro.
6. Bake based on package instructions.

You can adjust the heat by omitting or adding hot sauce or by using a more or less spicy cheese. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

I just had one of the biggest scares in quite some time. Sheila has been working on her take-home final exam for Environmental Law. It’s a 24 hour test; she began it at 12PM Thursday afternoon, making it due at 12PM Friday afternoon. She worked hard on it all day long today before we went to see A Christmas Story at The Cleveland Playhouse and to have dinner at Lolita following the performance. For awhile, it appeared as if she wouldn’t be able to get enough progress done to justify going out, so I offered to reschedule our date to a different time (I swear that this was not a ruse to allow me to watch the Browns game!), but as it turned out she was able to get enough work done. We got home, and after marveling at the Browns’ victory, Sheila went to go work on her final. Unfortunately, she could not find her answer sheet on the computer at first and it appeared that it may have been lost. As it turned out, her answer sheet was saved in the temp directory. Fortunately, Mikey G had defrosted following his frigid experience at the Browns\Steelers game and helped us identify the file’s location!

In between the initial discovery of the possible loss and the finding of the file in the temp directory were some of the most harrowing moments I’ve had in a long time. I feel rather selfish writing about it, considering that she would have had to redo all of her work if it had indeed been lost and all I would have had to do is chug energy drinks to stay awake with her and pray for her, but it was incredibly scary. Honestly, it was scarier than the car accident from this past summer—nobody was hurt, the facts and justice were completely on our side, and I knew that insurance would pay for all or most of the cost of the damages. This was much different—had the answer sheet been lost, Sheila would have had to redo all of her work and complete the rest of the exam—which is worth 100% of her grade—in less than 12 hours.

Being a powerless husband who cannot help your wife is one of the worst feelings that I have ever felt in my entire life. I felt it tonight when I couldn’t help her find the file and I have felt it many other times during our marriage. During premarital counseling, Pastor Joe stressed the importance of the man being the leader of the home, and when I can’t help Sheila and am forced to sit there watching her cry, I feel as if I have failed her as a leader and a husband.

However, I believe these situations prove to be beneficial in the long run because they force me to rely on the true Leader of our home and our marriage—Jesus—and to encourage Sheila to do the same. As much as I would like to provide everything that our family needs, I need to realize that I am an imperfect human being who needs the intervention of and blessings from a perfect and loving God in my life to survive and succeed in life, and that I should humble myself and admit that I need God’s help, guidance, and assistance to be a good husband and provider. Tonight, when this happened, I felt a brief twinge of anger towards God—why was He allowing this to happen? Did He really allow the file to get lost, knowing that Sheila had already put so much work into it and only had a small amount of time to finish it? However, I quickly caught myself and began praying hard that God would work this situation out and that He would give me the courage to trust and believe that this problem could be solved. I also reminded Sheila about how God had helped us through tough times and worked out solutions to other serious problems in His perfect timing. When it was solved, I felt as if my faith was stronger than it was when I woke up this morning, a fact for which I am very grateful. When calamities like this happen again, I believe that experiences like the one we had tonight will help me face these calamities with faith, courage, and strength because they helped me to remember that we worship a God who works all things for good in the lives of those who love Him.

I originally wrote this immediately after this incident occurred but didn’t post it before I went to bed since I wanted to marinate on it a bit. As it turned out, I had an opportunity to put this stronger faith into practice the next morning; we overslept slightly and woke up at 9:00 A.M. instead of 8:00 A.M. Needless to say, this put both of us in a panic! However, the events of the past evening gave me a sense of calm and I had no doubt that Sheila would get the final done, and done well, before 12:00 P.M. In fact, not only did she get it done well, but she even finished a few minutes early!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Fells of Walmart

Okay, so I'll admit, we went to Walmart yesterday to get something to wear to an Ugly Sweater Party today. (We were, of course, succesful.) Two funny "People of Walmart"-esque things:

1. We told an employee we needed to find something to wear to an Ugly Sweater Party. She goes, "What?! We don't have nothin' ugly in this store!" .. and then she and her coworker started roaring :) Even Walmart employees make fun of Walmart!

2. I did not look for any "People of Walmart" (after looking at the site a few times, I read a comment that compared the laughers to childhood bullies and I felt really awful... Although, I mean, seriously, some people just need to be fully clothed). But, I did see something interesting.

I went to the bathroom and in my stall to my right was the little bin for trash from sanitary products for women. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. Gentlemen, just know that all we put in these bins are sanitary products or tissues or things like that. Every once in awhile you'll see a wrapper. But this... this, you never see. What was in this bin?




Why, that's right, a completely empty bottle of....
Only at Walmart.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Internet Fail

Look to the left column of this page. Scroll down to where our tweets usually are. Those aren't ours. Bizarre, huh? Some poor, sorry soul's tweets got somehow linked into everyone's blogs and now everyone is yelling at him for ruining their blogs. His twitter name? "Undefined".

See here...


I am hoping this will fix itself before I decide to take the whole app off. So far, my faith in the internet is unfounded... this problem has been ongoing for at least a week...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

C is for Cookie

Baking is really a challenge for me. Messy, exact, time-consuming, and creates tons of dishes. But these things are welcome when the rest of your day is (in theory) entirely devoted to studying. So I decided to make some fairly simple cookies with a twist to them. Next time I'm trying something harder!

On the Left: Butter and Jam Thumbprints
On the Right: Rachael Ray's Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

Finals studying is going okay, but it really all kicks into gear this week. Joe just finished up a huge paper and has 5 finals ahead, and I finished papers for 3 classes last week and have 3 finals ahead. Prayers for stamina, patience, wisdom, and time management would be great :) We've got a long few weeks ahead of us, but a great few weeks ahead of that!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving

Well, the results are in and it looks like #3 is the winner! If you still want to add a vote, please add it to the comments since blogger made me close the poll early. :-(

We had a very nice Thanksgiving (3 of them to be exact). The first was a fundraising dinner with the Christian Legal Society benefiting the International Justice Mission! I was really proud of our exec team for getting this off the ground in a single week with a full meal from Boston Market, decorations, and a raffle. (*Note to reader: If you ever decide cater from Boston Market and bless your party with rotisserie goodness, you will receive the food cold, straight out of the fridge... Not a good thing to discover half an hour before a big party). We raised enough for 2 care packages for victims of slavery and human trafficking!

Next, we had Thanksgiving dinner with Joe's grandparents in Kinsman, OH, about 2 hours southeast. As always, we loved playing with Ginger the dog, and the food was delicious! Finally, we went to Joe's cousin's house, where his mom, aunt & uncle, cousins, and their children all got together for a very nice dinner and some fun. We enjoyed talking and playing some scattergories, and of course, I was showered with love and affection by Joe's little second cousin, our flower girl!

We are thankful for so many things... for God's guidance and love, for each other, for family and friends, for a roof and food and safety, for our jobs this summer, for the opportunity to go to school even through rough times, and for so many other things... Movie nights, little getaways, visits to and from family & friends, the library's unfailing forgiveness of our late fees and excessive checkouts, the food network and its contribution to our palates and tummies, finding great deals, a second car, weddings, babies, our home group, and so much more...!

Now is time for finishing classes, studying profusely, endless pots of coffee and nights at Starbucks and the library, Christmas decorations and music to keep us warm & fuzzy, and, of course, final exams.

Speaking of music, we've been listening to Christmas music from the library and from AOL radio. Anyone have any suggestions? What is your favorite Christmas album/song/artist?

I'll leave you with a shot of Joe with the Christmas tree...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas Card!

We're picking a photo for our annual Christmas card, and we're having trouble deciding. Help us! You can either comment an answer or you can take our poll to the left! Just let us know if you do both so we don't double-count the votes ;-) You can click on the pictures to make them bigger. Thanks!! And of course, you will all get Christmas cards!


Contender Number 1


This photo was taken by the lovely Stephanie and the Thanksgiving Feast. I loved the fuzzy white chair and the green wall, so I thought it'd be fun for a pic - plus I dressed us up in hopes that we'd get a good Christmas shot! Thanks Steph!

What we like: Beautiful colors and a nice, happy-looking shot. I think we look best in this pic.
What we don't like: Indoors and not particularly 'winter-y'. And the shadow on my hair makes it look like I have very large hair. I asked Joe whether he noticed the shadow, and he said he didn't... so I asked him if he really thought my hair was that big ;-) (He did.)



Contender Number 2

This photo was taken outside a vineyard in Niagara Falls. It was so much fun to play around in this vineyard and taste the grapes right off the vine!

What we like: The gorgeous greens and the lovely memory.
What we don't like: Sorry, hon, but the sneaks aren't doing it for me. Also, that vine looks like it's about to wrap around Joe's neck and strangle him!



Contender Number 3

This photo was taken outside another vineyard in Niagara Falls that had a great view of the lake.

What we like: Love the green and the slight view of the lake. I think this looks happy and not as staged as the last pic.
What we don't like: No sneaks this time, but I still don't think our outfits are entirely flattering. I wore this jacket in last year's Christmas card. I think I've oversaturated everything because I just love the green!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Updates from the Mrs.

Wow, it's been a crazy few weeks! From both of us getting sick to a wonderful visit with my mom, to a busy school week... we've had no time to update! So, let's see... what's new...
  • We're only a week or two away from finishing classes! I say a week or two because Joe and I have different schedules and my nonprofit schedule is even different from that... Either way, we're well on our way to reading days and finals week! I really like this time of the year because I can make my own schedule, stop worrying about professors badgering me, and I can start listening to Christmas music to get me through the days! We also get to study together a lot, and with some Starbucks gift cards from my mom, we're all set!!
  • Joe has started volunteering at the Youth Jobs Partnership Mentoring program with our church. It's great to know he's getting back to working with young people again, because it's really one of his gifts and passions. I'm volunteering in the Nursery, which is a big stretch for me since I am really intimidated by children! So far, it's been a lot less scary than I thought - even when one adorable little boy wouldn't stop crying, it was the cutest crying ever :)
  • I realized that I overcalculated my required hours for the year. This means I only have to take 13 credits next semester, compared to my 18 from this semester! I am planning on seeking employment, but either way, it'll be great not to have so many classes and I'm so glad my last semester will be manageable.
  • Tonight is a lovely Thanksgiving Feast party, hosted by Julia, Theresa, Joyce, & Stephanie! (I think?) :-D What great hostesses :) I know there'll be some awesome food there. Joe decided to make Guy Fieri's Mac-daddi-roni Salad (I know... what a ... wonderful name) - all by himself! I made Sandra Lee's Cornbread Stuffing - a hit from last year - and Eenie's Famous Holiday Chesnut Soup! (Eenie being my mom's nickname.) It's my first Thanksgiving away from home and my first attempt at recreating my mom's famous, delicious soup.
  • I've gotta post a picture and mention this great recipe. My mom found a good deal on a filet tip tenderloin (I think, I don' t know my meat cuts...) and gave it to me LAST THANKSGIVING. I finally cooked it... this October. I was so intimidated that I just didn't know how to cook it. Turns out my mom was right - there's really no way to mess it up! I pan-seared it with onions and mushrooms, then cooked it through in the oven, then made a roux with the leftover juices and added some beef broth and red wine. Mmmm... It took us like a week to eat through this baby!

Maybe I'll post some pictures from tonight later on. So many exciting things are coming up... from Thanksgiving to Kalina & Mike's wedding to Christmas break and vacation! I am so ready for this insanely difficult semester to be over.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Swine... or No Swine???

The Frolicking Fells are no longer frolicking :( We both came down with something over the past few days, and we're not sure what it is! The symptoms (coughing, chills, fever, drowsiness, headaches, nausea, etc.) are quite H1N1-esque. However, I started feeling sick on Sunday night (while writing my 25-page paper on Form Based Zoning... thrilling, right?), my fever broke by Monday night, and now on Tuesday night, I only have a slight cough remaining! This sounds really short to be H1N1... either that, or I am just awesome at fighting the flu!!

Joe has pretty much been groggy-ing the day away, so I have no report from him... He seems to have a cough and chills, but he doesn't really even tell me his symptoms - he just stares endlessly into space in silence and says how tired he is. He is just not himself!

So what's the consensus? H1N1 or just a little virus?

Either way, we gotta beat this bug before my mom comes into town this Thursday night!!

Sheila

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vote!

Don't forget to vote tomorrow - it's a big election in Ohio! A lot of the issues are really complicated and take a lot of thought and consideration, especially for Cuyahoga County voters. This site gives a helpful, nonpartisan review of the issues on the general Ohio ballot.

Halloween

Hope you all enjoyed Halloween! Just some quick pics ....

John & Kate

Our best pumpkins ever!



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cleveland Sports

I'm waiting for Joe to post about the Browns game this past Sunday. We were blessed with free tickets from Pastor Joe, and it was Joe's first regular season game and my first game ever! Since I have now seen baseball, basketball, and football live, here's my votes for live/at-home (please note the strategic use of color):

Baseball: Always better live. A snooze on TV unless it's the playoffs/World Series, plus, most people can afford a $7 game so you can draw a big, fun crowd on a sunny day.

Basketball: A draw. Live is always fun and pretty simple to follow, but TV viewing is great because you can get a great crowd to enjoy it together that wouldn't all attend a game otherwise. Plus, the food at the games is way expensive. Not so at the average Cleveland restaurant/bar. :)

Football: Better on TV. The occasional live game is exciting, especially because football games draw such large crowds. It's nice to feel a part of something big. But as far as watching and understanding the game, from tiny scoreboards to incoherent refs to nonexistant replays to opposing fans cheering at the wrong moments, everything is unclear and confusing!


I think I'll ask Joe to vote on this as well. Your thoughts? While I'm at it, I have to repost this awesome link Joyce put on FB: Cleveland Clothing Co.! This guy at the Browns game was wearing a shirt with a picture of Ohio - inside the state, it said "Worst State Ever". Grrrrrrr! He was obviously a Packers fan. And Wisconsin is soooo much better than Ohio.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Niagara Falls!

At least once a year, Joe and I take a trip to Niagara Falls, Canada. It's about a 3 1/2 - 4 hour drive, which is pretty easy for an overnight trip, and we can always find a really affordable place to stay and plenty of fun things to do. We had a great time as usual this Fall Break! Although it's pretty freezing, the Falls and the foliage are gorgeous this time of year. It makes the drive up feel really quick and it sort of takes the bite off of the cold when everything's so pretty. We even saw SNOW on roofs on the way up!

View of the American Falls from the Skywheel

Anyway, we stayed at the Days Inn By the Falls. We usually stay at the Days Inn Near the Falls, but it was recently renovated and the rates went up :( Unfortunately, the room we booked wasn't so great - it was pretty small and the bathroom felt like a closet! (I'm pretty sure it was a closet at some point) But we did get a king-sized bed, a nice view, and a ton of pillows for an amazingly restful night of sleep! If you're planning on going to Niagara, I wouldn't recommend it, even for a cheap price- but if you have some extra cash, rooms at the Days Inn Near the Falls start around $65-70 CAD (less in American dollars) before taxes and fees.

The first night, we went to Wild Wings and tried such fascinating flavors as Maple Honey Mustard and Chocolate Barbeque!! Absolutely delicious, and we had a fridge so we could bring home leftovers :) We got drinks at the Rainforest Cafe, which is always fun, but I was really stunned that the waiters had no idea whether any of the proceeds of this enormous, money-pumping restaurants went to actualy help the rainforest. Apparently they do, but I was likewise stunned that there were no automatic hand dryers...?! At least their tabletops are made from sustainable materials...

Anyway, the next day, Joe put a little sports bet in for fun at the Casino Niagara (where they had those Dyson hand dryers you see on TV that "wipe" your hands dry with air!!). Then we went shopping and I picked up a cute pair of boots, went to Tim Horton's and took a trip on the SkyWheel, visited Stonechurch and Konzelmann wineries, went to the House of Frankenstein, stopped at our fave Chinese restaurant, Lotus Garden (people literally drive across the border for this cheap and delicious place!) and headed home.

At Stonechurch Vineyards

It's always a really busy time, no matter how much we've seen and how many times we've gone - there's just so much to do there! As for the rest of the weekend, we're going to see Young Frankenstein tonight at Playhouse Square and then having a dinner date at Bricco! I am a big Mel Brooks fan, so this was part of my birthday present from Joe. Plus, I had to write about an arts event for my class on Nonprofit Leadership of Arts & Cultural Organizations, and Joe gets discount tickets because CSU has a partnership with Playhouse Square - so it all worked out quite well!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Three Years Ago...

Three years ago tonight, I proposed to the love of my life, Sheila, with the city that we love in the background.

To be honest, I don’t completely remember exactly how I selected what I would do for the proposal. I do know, though, that I gave away a great proposal idea before Sheila and me were even dating! What can I say…I needed something to reel her in! I’ll never forget it—she had asked me to come along to see an improv performance, and I was thrilled because I liked her at the time but I was not sure if she felt the same way. Anyhow, we were eating dinner afterwards at Siam CafĂ© and somehow the topic of proposals came up. I said that I thought a great proposal idea would be to take my girl out in a rowboat on a lake on a nice, moonlit night and slip a bottle containing the engagement ring and a note asking her to marry me into the water while she wasn’t looking and then point it out to her and have her open it. I can just imagine if the bottle wasn’t fully sealed or if there were some waves on the water…

It took me a LONG time to find the ring; I went with at least 4 different people at various points to look at different rings over the span of several months and went to 3 different malls! I almost bought one early on in the search process that completely blew me away, but Mike and the store staff dissuaded me from doing so; good thing, because Sheila hated it when she later saw it! Anyhow, I finally found the right one at a great price at Fred Meyer Jewelers at Beachwood Mall—guys who are about to get engaged, don’t stop reading and run there to buy your girl a ring, because it’s sadly now closed. I had a feeling that she would like the ring, and this was confirmed a day or so before the proposal when I stumbled upon a recent drawing in one of her notebooks that had a sketch of pretty much the exact same ring!

Eventually, I decided to make a fairy tale storybook detailing our relationship—we called each other Prince and Princess from pretty early on in the relationship, and we still do—with the ending leading into my marriage proposal. Throwing all caution to the wind, I decided to make the book on my own by hand. I have no idea what I was thinking, given that I am not very artistic at all and had no idea or sample to use as a guide! I decided to give her the storybook at Voinovich Park in downtown Cleveland, where we had gone on a Friday night when we first started dating and wound up staying until 3:30 A.M. or so, talking and getting to know each other better while admiring the skyline and marveling in everything that had happened between us. I also decided to take her to dinner at Pier W beforehand.

On the day of the proposal itself, I awoke to a steady pouring rain. Needless to say, this was pretty disconcerting, and when I went to purchase all of the supplies needed for the proposal and encountered snow, I felt awful. However, God answered my and many other people’s prayers and cleared up the weather by the evening! There wasn't a drop of rain in the sky and although it was windy, it wouldn't have been a fall evening on the shores of Lake Erie without some wind! Laura and Ken set up a picnic with the storybook, chocolates, champagne, flowers, and a stereo playing “All I Ask of You” from The Phantom of the Opera for us at Voinovich Park while we were dining. Both of us were pretty surprised when we finally got to Voinovich Park and I told Sheila to go and look to see what was on a blanket on the grass—Sheila was surprised at what I had planned, and I was surprised that everything had gone off so perfectly without any complications! Anyhow, Sheila read through the fairy tale storybook and then I stumbled through a proposal speech. Much to my joy, Sheila jumped up in the air and screamed “Yes!” several times! We then enjoyed champagne and basked in the happiness of the moment before returning to Bellfield to celebrate with our friends. God was indeed good to us that night, and still continues to be good to us many years later!

Joe

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Introducing Mr. Fraynaaaa...



You may have seen him in such classics as "Rock Band", but here he is, with a real drum set! Well, electric drum set. Anyway, he's awesome :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Scleroderma

I’m so proud of my mom for going to Congress to ask her representatives to support H.R. 2408, the Scleroderma Research and Awareness Act! As some of you know, my mom was diagnosed with Scleroderma several years ago. Although she has suffered a lot over the years, she was blessed to be healthy enough to walk all around Congress to support this bill!

If you're the political type, here are some advocacy suggestions! I'm trying to see what I can do to help, but I was just informed that Sen. Sherrod Brown is a big supporter. :)

Sheila

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

More Culinary Adventures

Best (Real) Recipes of the Week:


One of Bobby Flay's Throwdown Pizzas, complete with Red Pepper Sauce and Goat Cheese
(found here)




Followed by Ms. Deen's Bananas Foster... (Burst of Flames Attempted)



Savory Pumpkin Potato Pie














And last but not least, a side-by-side comparison of Rachael Ray's and my Pumpkin-Caramel Pie! She grated chocolate over the top. I massacred my Easter Bunny's ears with a cheese grater. Close enough.

Now back to studying :-(

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Just a couple shots from Olivia & Thomas' Wedding...


My personal favorite. They look beautiful.


Dancing at the Reception


The Gents

(courtesy of www.AestheticEmotions.com/oliviandthomas © 2009 Kenneth Clunk)

Culinary Adventures with Joe

For some reason, I felt rather culinary on Friday. I decided that I would give into this urge by trying to spice up some boxed macaroni and cheese for Sheila to eat while she was doing her Business Associations midterm. I planned on throwing in some extra cheese in order to make it more flavorful. When I cook (which doesn’t happen often) and when I grill (which doesn’t happen enough), I like to do stuff ahead as much as possible so that I don’t rush around and make mistakes when things need to be done. Accordingly, I tore open the cheese powder packet so that I could just dump it right in. The entire process was going well and I was excited about making something good for my sweetheart! Unfortunately, I forgot that I had opened the packet…and when it was time to put it into the pot, I shook the packet and sent cheese powder all over the kitchen. Needless to say, I was bummed…fortunately, the final product turned out to be a killer base for fried macaroni and cheese, which will hopefully be consumed tonight during the Steelers\Chargers game!

The evening went much, much better! A few weeks back, Sheila and I were watching Paula Deen on Food Network. Paula made bananas foster, which is quite good; the reason that this particular episode sticks out in my memory is because Paula had a very reverent, solemn, and bliss-filled expression on her face when she bit into her bananas foster once it was done. I felt as if I was peeking in on a very intimate moment…the entire set was dead silent for at least 10 seconds. Anyhow, after we enjoyed a fabulous roasted red pepper and goat cheese pizza that Sheila made and washed it down with some wine that we bought from a local winery last weekend, I suggested that we make bananas foster. We followed Paula’s recipe and it turned out very, very well in my opinion. Best of all, we even have some leftovers. We even set it on fire, using a long candlestick candle…watching the fire shoot up from the pan was great!

Joe

Friday, October 2, 2009

Welcome, October!

Ah, the "weekend". I've been hacking away at my Business Associations midterm all day long while Joe hacks away at a practice bar exam for class. I can't wait until we are no longer students, but Joe feels otherwise. Perhaps I'll ask him again after he's done with his practice exam ;-)

Anyway, we're working hard to get this all done so that we can enjoy a Haunted House this weekend! Who doesn't love the joys of the fall? I've got most of my decorations up, we're looking forward to attending an Oktoberfest, and we're thinking about dressing up as the Gosselins. :-p Who'd like to see me in a reverse mullet?! Or worse, who'd like to see Joe in an Ed Hardy shirt? Blech.

Anyway, this link on Cleveland.com has a great list of haunted houses, hay rides, and pumpkin patches in the area! However, nothing beats this hilarious haunted house website - The Haunted School House and the Haunted Laboratory! Apparently it's the oldest haunted house in the country! Let's hope it doesn't rain tomorrow.

If we can't go, we will likely comfort ourselves with a horror movie and I'll make this double-decker pumpkin-caramel pie. Wow. Mine won't look as good as Rachael Ray's.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Clintons

Ah, we just love Bill & Hill Clinton!! I love the little forehead kiss he gives her during this Clinton Global Initiative Ceremony. Funny to think - they were once a picture of an unhappy marriage, but they stuck it out through all the pain and drama, and still made choices to serve the world in the meantime. Look at how proud they are! I hope we can be like them one day :)



Sheila

Friday, September 25, 2009

First Movie Review - The Visitor

Since our dear friends enjoy meeting once or twice a month to enjoy "moooovies" in a 'book-club-esque' setting, we thought we'd review those movies here as we have the opportunity. Since we watched a film in class together, we thought we'd review that as well! It's spoiler-free!


Joe's Take

As some of you know, Sheila and I are taking Immigration Law together at Case Law. I enjoy doing this because I haven’t taken a class with a close friend for a long time.

Our professor wasn’t able to make it to class this evening, so he decided to have a showing of The Visitor, which was released last year. Our professor said that this movie’s depiction of the immigration process was very realistic, and I was hopeful that it would help us make sense of the rather confusing processes detailed in the statutes. I had never heard of this film, a fact about which I was somewhat ashamed when I learned that the lead actor earned a Best Actor nomination (along with the dynamite male lead performances in Benjamin Button, Milk, and Frost\Nixon…and I’ve yet to see The Wrestler!).

I hadn’t watched a movie in a classroom for a long, long time; it made me miss the good ole undergrad days when I watched films like Metropolis, Black Robe, and many others in my classes. In fact, I even took Apologetics in high school because the teacher told us that we would be watching Contact! When I taught, I was always big on movies as a teaching tool; I believe that watching the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan can give people an idea of how D-Day really was moreso than reading about it in a book. Anyhow, it was definitely an interesting experience—people were on computers, eating, walking in and out, sleeping, etc…

…fortunately it did not detract from the viewing experience too much. I’m grateful for that, because this was a fantastic movie. The male lead was fantastic; I have not seen such exceptionally nuanced acting in quite some time. Although there were a few points at which I felt the movie slightly dragged, I kept my interest the entire time. The ending was also quite different than what I had expected, but in a good way—it definitely didn’t ruin the whole movie like it did for me in Mamma Mia. What I liked most, though, was that the movie had several different plots intertwined amidst the various characters. It takes a talented writer to pull that off!

I would definitely watch this one again, and I hope that we are able to discuss it in class next week!

Sheila's Take

I also really enjoyed The Visitor. Taking Immigration Law has really opened my eyes to the difficulties of the immigration process and has helped me to grow in understanding and empathy for those who have spent so much time, money, and emotion on this long and challenging process. While the class has certainly helped me in the technical areas, this film helped to show a human side. Not every bit of turmoil is simply due to delays and expenses. The costs of immigration can be much higher - the splitting of families, the marginalization of culture, the loss of belonging to something you once believed in. I would recommend this movie to anyone who has had a family member immigrate to the US or to anyone who knows very little about this issue - it's clearly an issue that becomes more and more relevant each day, and the more we know, the more we can understand and advocate proper immigration reform!

Monday, September 21, 2009

24!

Tonight, we enjoyed a night out with friends at Zocalo, a Mexican restaurant downtown, to celebrate Sheila's 24th birthday (this Sunday)! The location was great - we typically frequent restaurants on the East side around Cleveland Heights or Shaker Heights or on the West side around Tremont - so it was nice to enjoy downtown for the evening. (Added bonus - the Indians won after an 11-game losing streak!) The food was good - although the portions were small, they seemed to incorporate some unique flavors. We'll likely Yelp about this place soon!




We finished off the night with some delicious Mocha-Hazelnut cake, courtesy of L&E, and of course some Rock Band! I was blessed with some great friends, sweet cards, and even some fun gifts (including this french press from L&E)!

Up for tomorrow - double date @ wineries in Avon Lake. We're trying out John Christ Winery and Klingshirn Winery. These sorts of places usually have really affordable and delicious wine, so it should be enjoyable - let me know if you want us to pick you up a bottle!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Welcome to our world :)

Friends,

How do you like our fresh new blog? We thought we could use this new outlet in a variety of ways - updating family and friends about what's going on in our lives, posting interesting thoughts and articles from school and life, reviewing restaurants we've been to, movies we've watched, food we've eaten, trips we're taking, pictures from parties and visitors, etc. It'll be a work in progress, but hopefully this will document some great moments and help us to enjoy & appreciate our many blessings :)

Keep checking for updates!

Love,

Joe & Sheila