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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Making of Meaken, chapter 3.

The Proposal.

Exactly one year ago, The Boy Who Would Become The Fiance and I were making plans for New Year's Eve. We had been invited to the annual party at a friend's, but since TBWWBTF was also taking one of his many financial license exams that morning, he requested a more laid-back evening. We decided to take games, the fixings for dinner, and our dog to my family's cabin and spend the holiday just the two of us.

He was nervous, but I thought it was because of his test in the morning. Now, a little over a year had passed since our first date. We had been shopping for houses for over two months and since he had been given the "no roommates without a ring" ultimatum, I had my suspicions. Who can blame me? We had been ring shopping months before and TBWWBTF had let it slip on Christmas Eve that he had asked for my parents' permission to marry me. He was like a little kid on, well, Christmas ... he couldn't contain himself. So yes, I knew The Big Question was coming. Did I know it was that night? No, I swore it was going to be Valentine's Day. Or Closing Day when we finally found a house. Or sometime just Later.

So that's why I put on a dress (at TBWWBTF suggestion), packed up a bunch of food and our Wii, and headed to the lake. TBWWBTF spent the evening teasing me about a present he had for me at midnight, something he said he didn't give me for Christmas. I love presents and I'm really bad with surprises, so I spent the evening quizzing him about it. Not gonna lie, once when he was in the bathroom, I weight-tested the gift and it was way too heavy to be a ring box. That was enough to put me off the trail, in spite of the signs. TBWWBTF had posted a facebook status update announcing that he was planning on popping the question, but told me his phone wasn't getting a signal in the Middle of Nowhere Cabin, which meant I couldn't check mine or spoil the surprise. He was blatantly nervous, and received an obscene number of text and emails from friends. That annoyed me, didn't they know we weren't coming to the party?!

Instead, we had an otherwise quiet night together.

We made dinner - steak, twice-baked potatoes with pesto, roasted asparagus, and cake for dessert. TBWWBTF "let me" win at Wii Boxing (twice) and we watched all of the silly NYE coverage on television.
Tucker Bear spent the whole night holed up in a chair like this. He could have cared less about the tension building in the room.

We drank champagne all night. A cheap one and an expensive one. I don't remember being able to tell the difference.

Finally, it was a minute to midnight! TBWWBTF refilled our glasses and hit play on my ipod - he had put together a special playlist for the moment. Frank Sinatra's "Let's Fall in Love" started. This is when things started to dawn on me, and I started getting a serious case of butterfly tummy. I remember thinking, "This could really be it!" We sat in front of the fireplace, counting down starting on the television...

3... 2... 1 ... HAPPY NEW YEAR! TBWWBTF and I kissed to commemorate the end and the beginning. And then I tore into my present.

Why, a martini glass. The kind I collect. But wait, what's that painted all over it? Are those wedding rings? My head started spinning and I could feel the nervous giggles start happening somewhere between my stomach and my throat. I looked at TBWWBTF ... he was on one knee and there was a little grey ring box in his hand. He was smiling, shaking a little, and trying to say something. The words were not happening. He was able to get out the simple question,

"Will you marry me?"

I wish I could say that I cried sweetly and said yes right away. Nope. Instead, I started laughing hysterically and completely inappropriately. Instead of "yes" there was a dozen or so, "ARE YOU SERIOUS????" And more laughter. And falling off the couch on top of TBWWBTF . And more "ARE YOU SERIOUS???" And putting the ring on. And laughing more.

I know that eventually I said yes, and after several calls to family and friends, the general shock wore off. I could not stop staring at my hand. I couldn't believe we were engaged. The Fiance's nerves had dissipated enough that he was finally able to tell me the words he had planned, but hadn't been able to get out in the moment. He said that he couldn't wait another minute of another year to ask me to marry him. He couldn't wait to plan our lives together. That's when I started crying. I don't remember ever feeling so happy.

That's how The Boy became The Fiance. 2009 started well for me, and turned out to be an amazing year in my life. 2010 certainly has a lot of potential to beat it, and I can't wait to see how this all turns out.

Have a safe and happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Making of MeaKen, chapter two.

The First "Date."

When I first moved to St Louis, I spent most of the first summer being single and having fun. I dated a bit, made some questionable decisions, and pretty much enjoyed myself a lot ... all of which culminated on Halloween, which I spent downtown with a couple of girlfriends, dressed as a flapper in a bright red wig. And also where my purse was stolen ... including ID, camera, cell phone, and favorite lipgloss. I flounced home in tears, lamenting my bad luck the entire way. It was the last in a series of bad luck occurrences that had left me wondering if taking the leap and moving to the big city had been the right choice for me. I was at a crossroads.

Who knew the answer I needed would come via Facebook? I posted an all-points bulletin to my friends for cell phone numbers to replace the ones I had lost. Who should be one of the first responders but The Boy Who Would Someday Become The Fiance. He suggested a dinner the following weekend to catch up. Harmless, no? The night of the meet-up, I called a friend frantically, a friend who also knew The Boy Who Would Someday Become The Fiance.

Me: I think I am going on a date with The Boy Who Would Someday Become The
Fiance.
Her: Nooooooo, it's not a date. Surely not. You're just friends. No date there, no sir. No how.
But I was still nervous, so I agonized over an outfit and changed my shoes three times. The Boy Who Would Someday Become The Fiance was right on time and we headed out ... to no where. Neither of us had planned on a particular destination. We ended up just about as far from my apartment as you can get and still be in St Louis county, at an Italian bistro. Dinner went well, no breaks in the conversation and no real signs of flirting, just what you'd expect from old friends, right?

Well, then something changed. The Boy Who Would Someday Become The Fiance suggested a drink before heading home, and we ended up at a Japanese restaurant closer to my apartment. Of course, being the super fun single girl that I was, I suggested saki bombs. We actually high-fived over it. Who high-fives on a date? THIS GIRL. The shot gave me just enough courage, I suppose, and I turned it ON. I flirted my pants off. I tossed my hair. I put my hand on his leg during a story. I laughed at all of his jokes. I smiled, giggled, batted my eyelashes. I pulled out the big guns, folks.

And then he drove me home. We said good night ... I smiled at him, leaned over ... and received the most awkward one-armed in-the-car-with-a-seatbelt-on hugs ever. Epically awkward. He promised he'd call. I went home, still in the Friend Zone, obviously. Flirting FAIL.

I called my friend before I even got in the door.
Me: Yeah, I think I just went on a date with The Boy Who Would Someday Become
The Fiance.
Her: *gushes* OMG I know! He's so in love with you! He always has been! I've been hearing about this for YEARS! He has such a HUGE CRUSH ON YOU!
Me: But then WHY DIDN'T HE KISS ME???
So that's nice and confusing. Apparently he has big mushy love feelings for me, and yet no kiss. Flirting, yes, but a platonic good night at best. Subtlety is lost on me, obviously.

But guess what? He did call, the very next day too. He was genuinely pleased to talk to me, in spite of being at a Mizzou football game with a friend. He wanted me to hear the cannon that's fired off after a touchdown. And he wanted to make plans to hang out again the next day. I actually jumped up and down silently in my apartment. A movie date was made.

He brought over Knocked Up, quite possibly The Most Awkward Date Movie of All Time. We sat 3 feet apart on my couch, laughing uncomfortably at the sexy bits. After the movie was over, he got up to leave. We're still in the Friend Zone. I felt my friend had mislead me. I am not a patient person, so I decided to find out for myself. No more waiting for The Boy Who Would Someday Become The Fiance to make a move. As he put on his coat and went to leave, I grabbed him and planted a kiss on him. By the look on his face, you'd have thought I shot him. But then he kissed me back.

"I've been waiting to do that for a long time," he said. And we've been together ever since.

How was your First Date? Did it go as expected? Were there sparkles and fireworks?

Chicken Broccoli Braid.

Baby, it's cold outside. And when the weather gets like this, I automatically crave comfort foods. My most favorite meal is a recipe my mom always makes. It's a family staple now. She even made it for The Fiance recently, so he's officially in the club now too.
Chicken Broccoli Braid

2 C chicken, cooked and cubed
1 C broccoli, chopped fine and cooked
1/2 C red pepper, diced fine
1 C shredded cheddar
1 garlic clove
1/2 C mayonnaise
1 tsp dill
1/2 tsp salt
2 pkg crescent roll dough
1 egg white, slightly beaten
    Preheat the oven to 375. Mix chicken and broccoli in a large
    bowl. Add red pepper, cheese, garlic, mayo, dill, and salt. Mix
    until well combined. Unroll crescent dough on top of each other on a
    cookie sheet. Roll dough to edges, making sure seams are closed and
    thickness is even. Spread filling, longways, down the center of the dough, leaving several inches of exposed dough on either side. Cut exposed dough from filling to edge in 1 1/2 inch strips (leaving attached). Lift strips and braid down length of filling, making sure that the filling is completely covered. Tuck ends to seal and brush with egg white. Bake 25-28 minutes, or until crust is a deep golden brown. Adapted from Pampered Chef
    Enjoy!

    Sunday, December 13, 2009

    Dilled Chex Mix

    Party season. I can think of few things that make better party food than Chex Mix. The catch, however, is that I don't really like the stuff. Call me crazy, I know. The Fiance looked at my like I had three heads when I told him. There are a few exceptions: puppy chow (or muddy buddies if you're southern) being the first and Dilled Chex Mix being the second.

    Back in college, Bridesmaids Katie and Adrienne were still Roommates Katie and Adrienne, we would have weekly Family Dinners and watch marathon sessions of The OC and Grey's Anatomy. I experimented and came up with this and it was a big hit ... even I liked it!
    Dilled Chex Mix
    1 C butter
    1 tsp season salt
    4 tsp dill
    2/3 C grated Parmesan
    1 12oz package Rice Chex

    Melt butter, add seasoning. Toss with cereal until well coated. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake until the Chex are toasted light brown. Drain on paper towels and cool.

    Enjoy your holiday parties!

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    The Making of MeaKen, chapter one.

    Now that we're closing in on the one-year anniversary of our engagement (and my wedding planning is somewhat paused for the moment - we're in a stalled out phase) I've decided to take an ole strolleroo down memory lane. It's no Black Heels and Tractor Wheels, but I want to share the story of how the Him and the Me became the Us.

    So we'll start at the beginning: Once upon a dorm room...

    I was chatting with my little baby cousin yesterday about studying for her first round of finals at the University of Illinois. Oh how it brought back the memories. I loved my freshman year of college - I loved the dorm I had been assigned to and made some amazing friends. It made me quite nostalgic ... that was, of course, when I met The Boy Who Would Someday Become The Fiance.

    I lived on an all girls floor of a co-ed dorm. A friend of mine from high school lived upstairs, so as soon as the boys moved in (I was there a week early for formal sorority recruitment) I went to the Second Floor. My HS friend and the half dozen guys who lived in the rooms around him soon became known as the Second Floor Boys ... The Fiance included. There were three other pledges in my sorority house in the same hall, and we all power-bonded.

    The Boy Who Would Someday Become The Fiance was the prankster of the group. Early in the fall semester, he showed up at the door of my dorm room with a master plan to steal my roommate's mattress. I wish I could say that I tried to stop him. At the time I thought he had a crush on her. Ohhhh I was wrong.

    (taken right after finals, just about 8 years ago, when we were "just friends.")
    Freshman year, we all got so slap-happy studying for finals that it dissolved into an all-dorm midnight game of sardines. I ended up hiding in The Fiance's laundry basket. He was in his closet too. I remember giggling like idiots for about 20 minutes. I survived that finals week on Kitkat Bites and Diet Coke, if I remember right.
    So that's how we met. It was a series of meetings - over illicitly purchased margaritas, over late-night res hall fire drills, over insanely large stacks of notecards, over Political Science 101, over trying to fit 10 freshmen in the back of a blue Mustang ... I guess that's what happens when you start out as friends. There wasn't ever any big moment. We clicked immediately, that's for sure, but neither of us had any idea that it would ever be more than that.
    I tell my little baby cousin now to enjoy her freshman year. It's a unique experience, and a lot of fun. I love hearing her stories - it sounds like she is making the same kind of friends I found, which means she is a very lucky girl. Besides, you never know when the funny boy upstairs with the sweet smile and an affinity for pranks will turn out to be the man you'll spend your life with.
    So how did you meet your fiance?