Thursday, November 29, 2007


Well folks, the inevitable has happened. Finals. They're rapidly approaching. Jess only has one class left, and his first final is on Tuesday. So I'm sure that most of you expect that he's spending quite a bit of time studying, right?

You're right.

Yesterday, he got home from school while I was at the fitness center working out. When I walked in the apartment, I gave him a hearty hello. I got barely a nod in response. Oh great. The cramming has begun. He was bent over the table, furiously writing as he glanced from the computer to his calculator to his paper. Clearly I was of little importance at the moment. He barely noticed that I had grabbed his camera to snap pictures of this. (Seriously.)

I cautiously approached him. I thought maybe I'd ask if I could help in any way. And that's when it all came together. He may have been studying, but it didn't have much to do with the law. That's right, Jess was calculating the statistics of his players. His players? His players on his fantasy NBA team, of course.

Later that day, he told me he needed to study "really." He laid out several stacks of papers (legitimate law papers) in a half circle on the floor, placed his computer in the middle, and hunkered down with a real serious look on his face. However, I looked over moments later and noticed that serious had turned to sly. That's right, checking his team again.

Here's his mathematical calculations as proof of his study habits.

NOTE: Jess actually has been studying, and quite a bit. I'm supposed to tell you that he studied for like FIVE HOURS today! But let's just say that his team(s) haven't been neglected either. :) )

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gal's Best Friend

My sister's best friend in this whole world is her pup, Chamine. Chamine has stuck by Danielle's side through thick and thin for several years now. She's the best friend a girl could ask for. Just last year, Chamine disappeared into thin air. For ten days, our family experienced some serious mourning as one of our best friends was simply gone. Then just as quickly, she reappeared, making one girl in particular the happiest of girls. I love this dog almost as much as Danielle and love that she's Danielle's friend, always.

This year, Danielle was lucky enough to have her birthday here in Durham. So for her belated birthday party in St. George, she's having a joint birthday party with her best friend, whose birthday is next month. Danielle just sent me these pictures of Chamine's party outfit. If you're a dog lover, enjoy. If not, maybe you can still appreciate the tolerance of a dog in a tutu. :)

Happy Birthday Gals!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Buddy the Elf, Barbeque and Birthdays

Well, we just bid the Christensen clan goodbye. It seems like they just got here! We had such a good Thanksgiving break with them, and we’re so glad they were able to come. It was nice to have a little bit of Utah here, and we hope they enjoyed seeing some of our world here.

It was a bit of a whirlwind, but we were able to cram a few activities in. Thursday was a lazy day with a grand Thanksgiving feast prepared by Momma Christensen (with the assistance of a few look a likes) in a substantially smaller kitchen than she’s used to. That evening, we shared our most favorite episode of Dirty Jobs (on the Discovery Channel) with them, as well as enjoyed a little time with Buddy the Elf (“I'm singing, I'm in a store, and I'm siiiiiingiiiiing!”).

We also visited Duke University, the Museum of Life and Science in downtown Durham, shared some quality ESPN time, celebrated two birthdays (Mom and Danielle), ate some Southern BBQ (and experienced the aftermath of Southern BBQ), picked out a Christmas tree, and did LOTS and LOTS of shopping. (To their credit, the men were very patient with these shoppers.)

Sure love you guys! Thanks so much for coming. We wish you’d just turn around and come back. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'll take this one. :)


Who will it be? Who will it be?*

*Fine Print That Jess Hasn't Read: Loser has to buy winner a puppy. :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Chocolate Bliss

Hello all! Hope Black Friday brought you all the shopping deals your heart could desire.Things are going well with the Christensens in Durham, although the weather took a crazy turn over night, going from the mid 70s to, ahhhhh, the low 50s. My sister is begging us to turn on the heater. I told her I had some extra scarves and gloves if she needed them. (You know me and being hot. Low 50s is quite ideal if you ask me.)

Pictures are forthcoming, but more importantly, I have some news to report regarding chocolate. Today's my mom's birthday. (Happy Birthday Mommy!) This blessed woman not only gave me my eyes, my piano fingers, and my love for words, but also, her penchant for chocolate was pretty much directly injected into my DNA code. So here's the recipe for the incredibly delicious chocolate cake we had. It was a first try for me, but it was divine. Pure bliss.

Crockpot Chocolate Molten Lava Delicious Easy Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons butter
2 ounces semisweet chocolate (or 1/3 cup chocolate chips)
1 cup sugar (2/3 cup & 1/3 cup, added separately)
3 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup brown sugar
11/2 cups hot water
Whipped cream or ice cream

1. Coat the inside of a 2 1/2- to 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. (Note: the cake's cooking time and final appearance will vary depending on your crock's size.)

2. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water and mix well.

3. Whisk in the 2/3 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of cocoa, vanilla extract, salt, milk, and egg yolk. Add the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed.

4. Pour the batter into the slow cooker and spread it evenly. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, cocoa, and hot water until the sugar is dissolved.

5. Pour the mixture over the batter in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 1 to 2 hours (I did it for 1.5 and let it sit for a while and it was about perfect), depending on the size of the crock pot.

6. Even when done, the cake will be very moist and floating on a layer of molten chocolate, but you'll know it's ready when nearly all of the cake is set and the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pot. (As you check, try not to let the condensed steam from the lid drip onto the cake.)

7. When it's done, turn off the power and remove the lid. Let it cool for 25 minutes, then serve it in bowls topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

So if anyone's got a hankering for chocolate, give this a go. Mmmmm!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

This morning I’ve been running around, getting ready for the big day tomorrow. And I’ve been thinking. I’ve been thinking about the many things in my life I’m grateful for. I can’t begin to name them all, but here are a few.

CRUNCHY LEAVES – My achilles tendon is still rehabilitating, but if it weren’t, I’d be outside running through those crunchy leaves. There’s something about the crunch measuring each carefully placed step that keeps my thoughts organized.

DIET DR PEPPER – This is beyond addiction. We’re pretty much in a relationship. I just love the stuff.

CHOCOLATE – Much like air, I cannot live without chocolate. It’s just simply a necessity.

RUNNING – When my achilles was all busted up, it was as if I’d lost one of my best friends. Granted, I found a new friend in biking, but it’s nice to be getting reacquainted.

FAMILY – Mine will be here tonight. And we’ll see Jess’ in less than a month. With every passing year, family seems to mean a little more. They are the people who accept me and love me no matter what, even when I walk into walls and other such disasters. And they’re the people who helped make me who I am. And how lucky I am to have recently acquired such a wonderful second family.

UGG BOOTS – I never said they were cute. But actually, if you wear them long enough, they become semi-cute. I love my Uggs because they mean it’s winter time (my favorite season). And they keep my feet just warm enough. (Not too hot, not too cold.)

BISCUITS - Don't ask me why, but right now, biscuits are my most favorite food. The kind from Pilsbury's kitchen. It's strange, but I absolutely love them. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. It works for every meal.

MICROWAVE – We just got one yesterday. You don’t know what you’re missing until you’re missing a microwave. However, I did get very good at thawing things out with hot water, thinking ahead and putting the butter out a few hours ahead of time. But reheating leftovers (I have issues with leftovers as it is) without a microwave is basically an impossibility.

JESS – For his never ending patience with me, his love. For his goofy antics that few have really seen that make me laugh so hard I cry. I love him so much.

And there are so many more, but I’ll stop the list here. Thank you to each and every one of you reading this. And Happy Thanksgiving wishes to all. To those of you who aren’t here with us, know that we’re thinking of you!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Leafing in the Morning

So yesterday morning, at a time when sane people are still in bed (7:30 a.m.), Mr. Jess Cheney jumped out of bed as if he had already had his morning Diet Dr Pepper (oh wait, that's me...). I was a tad bit confused as he slipped on his slippers and ran to the front room. A sudden urge to get up and make his wife breakfast in bed?

He ran back in the bedroom and started bundling up. Why? He needed to take pictures, of course! The sun was just perfect! So all in a bustle, he packed up his gear and headed out to snap pictures of the red tree he had seen walking across campus the day before. (I felt it wise to stay home and keep my purple toe safe. And to sleep for another hour.)

He returned only when his battery died, a happy little camper with a camera full of pictures. Because he was so cold, he promptly jumped back into bed to warm up. And because I wasn't able to join him in his adventures, he brought back some adventure with him.

Apparently his pants were cuffed. And as it turns out, some dirt collected there as he traversed the land. But don't worry, he left some sand in the bed. Just for me. What love. :)

Below you'll find (a portion of) his adventures in Leaf Land.

Look closely at this one. It's a trick photo. Can you see it?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Toe Jam

Lest any of you should feel as if we’ve left you out of our lives here in Durham, I’ve included the below rather graphic photos, with this accompanying description. Sensitive eyes should not scroll down. :)

When I was in middle school, I went through a phase where I was essentially growing into my body. I would cut corners and bruise my hips. Almost every day, I’d trip over my toes. My big toes survived several sprains during those rough years.

Well, folks, I’ve got to say that there’s some of that middle school air here in Durham. Ever since I got here, I’ve gotten progressively clutzier. Okay, yes, fine, some of you are saying that I was already clutzy (please recall that I once tripped while running and got 13 stitches in my knee), but really? It’s gotten pretty bad. I can’t put away groceries without dropping at least a few items on the floor. This morning when I went to itch my face, I somehow gouged Jess’ nose on the way. (Morning Hon!) I burn myself at least once every night when cooking.

But yesterday was a real doozie. I went to walk into the kitchen, but somewhere between turning and moving my foot, my left foot jammed into the wall. I crumbled to the floor holding my toes, fighting back tears, then limped around all night as it swelled in my Ugg boot.

This morning we surveyed the damage and started laughing hysterically. So here it is. The purple toe in the middle.

If anyone has a cure for newlywed clutziness, I’m listening. Because my toe is killing me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Raleigh Temple

© 2004, Leslie Gore Honeycutt. All rights reserved.

Tonight we made the "trek" to the Raleigh Temple. It was a little strange taking all sorts of roads to get there. I realized how lucky I've been all my life to basically just be down the street from any one temple. :) The trek was interesting though - we got to see a sunset (which isn't common as there are virtually no high places here to see sunsets from) as well as an entirely dried out lake. Some of you might laugh at this, but this area is currently experiencing a drought (ignore the plush, greenery you see in our photos - we really are in a drought!).

This was my first visit at a mini temple. It was beautiful, just as all temples are, and it was so good to spend some time with my red head. I kind of like him! Also, when exiting the temple, I glanced to my right and saw a vaguely familiar face. It was Margaret Engstrom, one of my good friends from high school. So fun to see her and to realize what a beautifully small world we find ourselves in at times.

Oh, in other news, I actually scored a job interview! Yippee! (Everyone cheer! Because this is the slllloooowwwest moving job market ever!)

Love to all!

NOTE: The above photo is not ours. We had "small fry" (the old camera), but it was a bit too dark by the time we left to get a clear photo. This is straight up stolen from the Raleigh Durham Temple site. :) )

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Helpful Husband

So usually, I make the bed after I go running and while I'm getting ready. It's a little routine I've developed over the years. And anyone who knows me knows that my bed making habits are quite precise, just like the rest of my habits. As I've heard recently a few times, I'm very "picky," and my bed design is no exception.

Well this morning I got up early and went running, leaving a red head to sleep a little more. I made it back just in time grab him and take him to school, as per our Tuesday/Thursday tradition (class starts later on these days so parking stinks). I ran him to school, and upon arriving back home, I found that my helpful husband had already made the bed.

(Yes, that is Jess' sleeping bag on top. We refer to him quite affectionately as Coleman. When I make the bed, Coleman finds his place under the bed.)

Now some of you might think that I immediately tore Coleman off, reorganized the pillows, fixed the blanket, tucked in the sheets. But something about this just makes me love that red head all the more. The pillow tower remains. :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans Day in D.C.

We had the very good fortune of being able to visit our nation’s capitol this Veterans Day weekend. Much like visiting D.C. on the Fourth, it was a humbling experience to be there. The monuments and memorials become a little more beautiful and meaningful with each trip I take there, especially on occasions such as this.

Jess was like a small child on Christmas day with his camera. Just when I thought he was done taking pictures, I would turn around to find that he found another (better) shot by turning his tripod two inches to the right. :) He took some amazing pictures, and when I got the hankering for a spat of shots, he was more than willing to let me shoot away as well. (On this trip I realized that’s it’s my total and utter lack of patience that led to my abandoning the dream of being a photographer. The setting up, the number changing, the minor adjustments, oh my!)

I've debated how to share these (we took lots of pictures), but I think I'll try by site. Scroll fast if you're in a hurry. :)

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

World War I Memorial

World War II Memorial

I also caught Jess staring into a crystal ball (at the Museum of Natural History in the Gems Department).

“Do I really have to study to get through law school?”
“Will she ever stop eating chocolate?”

Oh, and for those of you who had the extreme privilege of visiting D.C. with us in July, gone are the days of clinging to your popsicle as though your life depended on it. Actually, I was more like a human popsicle for the majority of the time. Let’s just say Saturday evening ended with thermal socks. On my hands. :)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Heal the World

So at our apartment complex, there’s a garbage dumpster that the entire complex uses. As such, it is regularly overflowing with garbage. Its backdrop is a wall of trees, in which a few cats have taken up residence as there is an abundance of free food to be found.

Now, I don’t like cats. Never have. I’m definitely a dog person. Even though they bark and yip, even though they might smell bad and shed from time to time, I love dogs. They make such good friends. My dog at home actually curls her mouth up in a smile when she sees me. How can you not feel good about that? But cats? Not only do they smell bad and shed, but they’re not even nice. They just arch their backs and rub up against you. Ew.

However, although I don’t like cats, I do have a very tender spot in my heart for any living creature, especially those that are cold and hungry. There's no snow here yet, but the humid air makes the dipping temperatures feel pretty chilly to me. And last time I tried it, burrowing a hole in dead leaves for a bed wasn't too warm. Not to mention uncomfortable. So, yes, I've been feeling really sad for the cats.

So tonight when Jess and I deposited our garbage and recycled goods, my husband, probably tired of hearing how sad I was about the poor, cold cats, suggested that I make them a home. He helped me find a box, suggested I water seal it with plastic and duct tape, and off I went.

(Oh, I'm sorry, did someone not put on makeup today? Or do her hair? Lovely. :) )

So although I may not be a cat person, it makes me feel a little better that the cute little (snobby) cats have a warm place to curl up if they want to.

(And if that doesn’t work, Jess said I could buy a plastic crate and chain it to the ground. I love him. :) )

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Four Weeks

There are days, and not many of them, that stay vibrant forever. They seem essentially perfect. And the more you think of them, the better they become. Those days remain imprinted on the pages of your mind without effort. Those days are simply that good, good enough to be endlessly recalled without tiring of the memories.

Four weeks ago today - October 10 - represents one of those days for me. The day was simply wonderful. Despite the fact that I had little more than four hours of sleep, despite the wedding wind that blew my veil right off my head, the day was basically perfect.

And it was perfect because the people we loved were all an arm’s length away. It was perfect because every detail, including chocolate at every turn, was just right. And it was perfect because it marked the beginning of no more goodbyes for me and Jess. Here’s to the perfect days. And a big thank you to those of you who made October 10 so.

NOTE: All photos by Casey Niederhauser, pretty much the best photographer ever. :)


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