{A Royal Breakfast}

Who else woke up at 3:50 this morning to watch the Royal Wedding?




Well, The Finstads did. What makes early mornings just a little bit easier? Breakfast. And what makes breakfast just a little more fun? Themes.

Crown-shaped pancakes, bejeweled with chocolate chips.

Yep, I went there.

{Homesteading in Action}

We recently needed a few good, recent pics for my work, so we asked our photographer friend Eric to come over for dinner one Friday and bring his equipment. We didn't really get too many that will work, since we spent so much time being silly, but it sure was fun! I thought I'd post some here since they are of us in the kitchen making dinner (homemade pizza Friday, of course!). Enjoy!

Ugh...I should NOT have worn such a 'blouse-y' top. I look huge!
And seriously, if this were just another Friday Pizza night, I certainly wouldn't have been wearing white.

Stirring the bloomed yeast for the pizza dough...

Kissing break, 'cause we like to make you gag.

A good cook tastes EVERY step! So do fat kids...

Pulling the pizza crust dough...


Sauce McGauce. Homemade, 'cause that's how I roll.
Check out the cool motion technique E-dawg used on the ladle. Ooh...like a ghost...

Show this to me if I ever complain that Jean's not a good sport.

Handwashing the dishes. It's as much a part of cooking in our house as garlic, or carbs.


Happy Friday, y'all!

Who's a pimpdog?! Emmett is, that's who...

Emmett enjoys being on the couch (no-no!)...

...sticking his tongue out and looking possessed...

...playing - and peeing - in the snow...

...and watching his dad play.

He also sleeps a lot, particularly under the bed (one way or another)

He may be weird, but nothing, NOTHING beats this face :)

Except maybe this guy:
Pimpdogs Extrodinaire!

{A Very 'Special' Birthday}

Happy Birthday to me,
We went to NYC,

Then when we got ho-o-o-me,
Duke Special came to me!

OK, so I'm no songwriter, but that pretty much sums up this year's awesomesauce birthday celebrations. I've had some pretty fantastic birthdays as of late. March 31, 2009 was spent in Ireland, 2010 was spent just back from Ireland and newly engaged to the JeanBean, and 2011 was spent surrounded by Duke Special love. For those of you who don't know me, A) How are you reading this blog?, and 2) I heart Duke Special. Now, I don't spread myself super thin, and I'm not typically half-assed when it comes to things I like or believe in...

Case in point: I (and Jean) believe in a traditional 'home first - family first' approach, so I quit my job when we got married (a month before, actually). We have no kids and we rent a teeny shoebox, yet I left the workforce, including health insurance and a higher-and-more-steady salary than Jean was making in order to serve my husband and my home.

Case #2: Our good Lord above started dropping stutterers from the sky and into my life one day, and I listened to every blocked and repeated word He was using to get to me. I joined the National Stuttering Association at the same time Jean and I started dating, even though he was not even a member. For months I volunteered and busted my butt and got us to the 2010 Annual Conference in Cleveland. I pushed, I prodded, I wrote, and I did a hell of a lot of editing and social networking, and now I work for the NSA, one of very few paid employees. I believe in it, I love it, just like I love my stutterers. (Check out the animal growing on Jean's chin!)

So it's plain to see that when something comes along that I take a liking to, or believe in, I give it my whole self. One of those somethings is Duke Special. I came across this unique musician in a roundabout way, as most do, when listening to the Culture Northern Ireland podcast several years ago. His name kept coming up, and once I finally checked him out, I was hooked. From then on I've traveled up the Eastern Seaboard and across the Atlantic multiple times to see him perform live, and they've been some of the greatest experiences of my life, and helped me to meet some of the most generous, loving, people in my life through his fanbase.

Birthday week saw us traveling up to Manhattan to see a one-off show of his at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and to meet up with several other fan friends who were coming over from the UK for the show. Duke (aka Peter) had been working tirelessly for months writing 12 original songs based on photographs from The Met's photography exhibit 'Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand'. For the days before and after the show we were able to meet new friends, catch up with old ones, see some sights, and eat a lot of pastrami.

Leaving a Duke Special show always leaves me a bit...sad. They are always such moving experiences that a return to normalcy seems so...normal. This time, however, I knew that I would be seeing him and some of our UK friends (Woot, woot Fizzys!) in just a few short days when they traveled down to DC for another show. God must have been smiling on me, because despite their hectic travel schedule, the rain, and the unfortunate task that is driving in the Northern VA/DC area, they drove out after Duke's gig to attend Jean's gig and my birthday party. They even brought pie.

Happy Birthday to the Luckiest. Girl. Ever.

See Duke Special perform all new songs inspired by photographs from the exhibition Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand at The Metropolitan Museum of Art here:

{Grill Love}

The Finstads have officially been bit by the summer bug! We are so anxious for the warmer weather we've been showing some...unusual... behaviors lately. How about you?

5. Do you wear flip-flops, shorts, and skirts, albeit UNDER wool coats?

4. Have you spent $18 on 46 pounds of charcoal at BJ's?

3. Are you sleeping with the windows open at night, and just adding an extra down comforter to the bed?

2. Would we catch you driving with the windows down and the heat blasting?

1. Are you also grilling everything in sight?

Summer bug!

Grilled BBQ chicken, kielbasa, potatoes (sweet & white), and avocado

{April Menu}

Well looky there, The Finstads didn't fall off the face of the Earth! We did, however, go to New York City (post forthcoming) which might as well be another planet... Even with all of our worldly (and by 'worldly' I mean 'East Coast') traveling, I still managed to squeak out a menu for April. After all, we'd be lost...and hungry...without it. So, without further delay, here she is!

1- Lasagna
2- Crock*Pot Creamy Italian Chicken
3- Steak (Thanks Mom!)
4- Coconut Curry
5- Enchiladas
6- Mustard Pork Chops
7- Pizza
8- Turkey Burgers
9- Sausage Subs
10- Cordon Bleu
11- Spaghetti
12- Cube Steak
13- Manicotti
14- Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
15- Lasagna
16- Cheeseburger Casserole
17- Meatloaf
18- Cheesesteaks
19- Passover Seder (Brisket)
20- Leftovers
21- Paninis
22- Broccoli Alfredo
23- Beef Stroganoff
24- Ham (EASTER!)
25- Baked Potatoes (w/ ham)
26- Ham & Cheese Subs
27- Jean in DC (Leftovers)
28- Sausage Subs
29- Pizza Bread
30- Eat Out