about
Alisa. 37. New Hampshire. Married for almost three years to this wonderful, funny, smart guy. Previously married. Went through in-vitro fertilization to have my five year old magical son Keegan. Stepmother to the charming Isabelle (6). Gushingly in love with our baby boy Harper(1). Policy Wonk and dreaded bureaucrat. Lover of fine cuisine, honeybees, truly romantic moments and the underdog.
cooking
Curried Beef Short Ribs

Note: I found this was more realistically four servings.

Finishing this dish with lime zest and juice brightens its rich flavors.

Yield 6 servings (serving size: about 3 ounces ribs, 2/3 cup rice, and about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce)

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 pounds ...continue reading

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Wink

It is date night so I am giving myself the night off from posting.

Once We Were Barefoot On A Beach

Yesterday was our actual anniversary. The big 2. Which feels kind of silly to say but it feels like more. Not in a bad way. I just feel like we have been through so much in such a short time. Plus it seems so unfair that we have only gotten to be with eachother for that long.

Our babysitter arrived and we decided to do a reasonably priced dinner at local Italian place that is actually in the Holiday Inn. Hotel based restaurants aside it was a nice place with good service and a varity of menu slections. We shred a brick oven pizza with carmelized onions and portabello mushrooms that was quite good. In fact the service was so good and we were so hungry we finished way before time to head to the movie. When we asked our waitress if we could just stay for a while she asked us if we had children. Ah the joys of uniterrupted adult conversation. And ours ranged from sustainable food systems to the desensitization of the American people. Can tell I am still hopped on everything I am learning from "Omnivore's Dilemma" and my own research? I am like a religious convert.

Speaking of religion, after dinner we went to see Religulous the new film by Bill Maher. Jeff was funny when he asked if since it was our anniversary did I need to see a film where a woman gets kissed. Meaning we would be going to the Duchess. I let him off the hook this time. It was very interesting film, funny and thought provoking. But like many of those types of films you almost feel bad because they only seem to interview people from the opposing position who come off like idiots. I am sure there are many religious scholars who could have done a better job defending themselves.

The Wind In My Hair

This past weekend Jeff and I went away for one night to celebrate our wedding anniversary (which is tomorrow). We decided to go somewhere not too far away so we didn't spend all of our time in the car or on a plane. We left Saturday morning after Keegan's soccer game. I found a place in Ogunquit so we could enjoy the beach and the foliage. We stayed in the Honeymoon Suite complete with fireplace and jacuzzi tub. We did lots of walking and some shopping, especially for the kids for Christmas. That night we had dinner at Arrow's, one of the best restaurants I have ever been to. I had gone three years ago and Jeff had heard all about it ever since. After it was all over he agreed it was wonderful. I think he fell in love with his tenderloin. And I am loving parsnips as long as they are turned into a creme brulee. There was duck and honey and chocolate and smoked mussels (not in the same dish) that made up my other courses. I wish I could remember the name of the wine because it was really nice too. The next day I got to sleep in until 9 and then we did more shopping. We got some treats from the local candy store, some for now and some for later in the holidays. Jeff bought me a bracelet from an artist we had admired before. I love when people use natural elements. I am wearing it today and it looks gorgeous. My mom did a great job with the boys and they were well behaved. She said she was exhausted at the end of both days. I guess we don't really notice how much running around we do.

My Favorite Times

Life has changed a lot here at our house since Harper's arrival. Not as much as a first baby does but we made some adjustments. It most effects our evenings. We used to put the kids to bed and then have time to talk, watch TV and be a couple. Now after the older kids go to bed it is Harper time for most of the evening and then I go to sleep. But we have found ways to preserve that couple time. During the last feeding before his bedtime we sit in the nursery. While one of us feeds him the other hangs out in the room too. We spend this time talking. About the kids, the day, work, playtime, plans for the summer, still learning new things about our lives before each other.

My other favorite times is right before we go to sleep. All the kids are tucked in and quiet and we lay in our bed talking. This is why we don't have a TV in the bedroom. Sometimes he reads me interesting things off the internet or from his Schott's Miscellany. Last night he tested me on my knowledge of Yiddish. And often we wrap our arms around each other and talk about our relationship. How we fell in love. How much we love each other. How we can't believe it has only been three years. How lucky we are.

Kissiversary Continues
Friday after our appointment we decided we should finally go out for fondue.  I had been to "The Melting Pot" in the DC area and they finally have them up here.  We drove down to Mass and it was worth it.  They gave us this little private booth and we felt like we were completely secluded.  Instead of sticking with my usual favorites we ordered the special "Big Night Out."

Caribbean Cheese Fondue
Gouda and Gran Queso cheeses blended with fresh garlic and sweet and spicy Peppadew peppers
topped off with scallions and a zest of fresh lime.

Tropical Salad
Crisp romaine and field greens, fresh tomatoes, mangos and hearts of palm with a light
creamy citrus dressing and a touch of coconut encrusted cashews.

Fondue Feast (In the Mojo Style - Caribbean-seasoned bouillon with distinctive flavors of fresh garlic with a citrus flair!)
Filet Mignon Medallion
Jerk Seasoned Sirloin
Vanilla Rum Chicken
Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Zesty Peppered Shrimp
Butternut Squash Ravioli
Fresh Vegetables

Bananas Foster Chocolate Fondue
Silky, white chocolate swirled with bananas, brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon, flambeed tableside.

Needless to say we were very happy and very stuffed.  For a dose of reality we stopped at B*bies R Us on the way home to pick up a few last minute things.

Saturday we slept in a bit and then headed to Portsmouth for our spa day.  We went to a Moroccan themed place for massages and pedicures.  My toes were done in An Affair In Red Square.  After being completely spoiled we went downtown for some shopping.  We spent money at two different kitchen stores and  picked up a house warming gift for my parents at a gallery.  I can't wait for their house to be done in July so we can give it to them.  Then we had an early dinner at a place we had not tried before, Brazo.  The website is worth it just for the music :)  We loved it there.  I can't wait to go back when I can try one of their fabulous sounding cocktails.  We had:

Wild Mushroom & Goat Cheese Empanadas
Blue Crab Salad
Chile Rellenos
Mariscada
Dulce de Coco Cake with Caramel (Incredible)
Tres Leches (Also amazing and apparently went very nicely with Jeff's 15 year old Scotch)

I waited out front while Jeff got the car from the garage.  We went home and watched a movie and I slept like a dream.

Sunday we spent the day re-organizing the basement, taking things to the attic and sorting things to sell or freecycle.  My parents brought Keegan back around 4pm.  He had spent the whole weekend with them in Maine at the building site for their house.  Fortunately there is another little boy up there for him to hang out with.  And judging by his pockets lots of rocks and acorns to collect.
Seeing Forever
Today is our 3rd Kissiversary.  That is the anniversary of our first date and first kiss.  (Pause for gagging sounds).  Say what you will I love that we take time to celebrate things. Particularly such important days.

Last year we celebrated with a couples' getaway and massages.  Two years ago he proposed.  This year we are going out tonight for our regular weekly date (dinner & a movie).  On Saturday we will have spa day and a nice dinner.  I was going to book us at a B&B but this pregnant I would rather sleep in my own bed.  It should be a nice mellow day to celebrate all we are and what we have to come.

I wouldn't be able find enough words to explain what the night three years ago really meant.  To think I had nothing left of my heart, to not believe in true love and to be in protection mode to defend against hurting again.  But then to have dinner with him, hold hands in a movie and the kiss.  The "World's Best First Kiss Ever."  That is how we have always referred to it.  Even mere minutes after it happened.  We called each other on the way home and talked about what happened and how we felt.  We have been on the same romantic page ever since.

It is not hard to remember to be grateful every day for this kind of love.
Happy 32nd Birthday Jeff
Happy birthday husband.  Right now you are coming home after going out to celebrate with the boys.  I am supposed to be packing for my flight to Nashville tomorrow.
Tonight I write about the last thing for your birthday posts.  And that has to be the passion.  I won't say much about the physical side because that is private.  I can assure that I never watch a love scene in a movie anymore and wish it was me.  I want for nothing in that department.  This is about the romance.  How you wooed me through our courtship and continue to do so.  The waking up with your arms around me.  Telling me how much you love me and how beautiful and sexy I am.  I can feel your love when you are across the room your eyes following me.  I am so lucky.  We're so lucky because this kind of true love is so very precious.  I have a drawer with all the letters you sent, notes you left and postcards I received.  All where you didn't hold back on how your feel.  No wonder we knew in a matter of three weeks we would spend our lives together.  I remember by the tree in Prescott Park when you looked at me and said, "You're it for me."  And I felt exactly the same. And all my friends know about the text messages and text haikus.  Every time I go on travel I still get a morning text each day on my phone telling me "to get the danish."

"Her eyes twinkle-shine - rested head upon my chest - I've found my new home"

"This precise blue sky - begs for a chance to appear - beside your bright smile"

"Nature might not make - a better curve than yours from - breast to waist to hip"

People tell me I glow from happiness.  I can tell you that is because of you.  Because of you I have survived the hardest days of my life.  Because of you I have created some of the happiest days.  Because of you I have worked harder, pushed myself more and realized success.  I knew that you were there all the time no matter what.  And  there is just so much more to come as we have our first baby, raise our family and grow ourselves.  I love you.
Oral Satisfaction
Jeff appreciates the finer things.  Art, theater, music, travel, decor, beverages and food.  Most importantly food.  I was fortunate to be raised in a military family.  What we lacked in stability we made up for in experiences.  You don't spend nine years in Europe without picking up a varied palette.  It wasn't until I started dating Jeff that I met someone who wanted to share new and old food related experiences with me.  We are happy to cook our own, cook for others, eat at an expensive place or find some average priced local cuisine.  It's about the experience.  Savoring the social element of it.  And that man loves cheese.  He loves cheese like I love cheese.  A deep abiding love that borders on spiritual.  I could spend the rest of my life just trying new cheeses and revisiting old favorites.  But enough about me.
I like to say that Jeff and I have been cooking since we first got together.  Both romantically and literally.  He brought back my love of cooking and then a healthier lifestyle.  It's no coincidence I lost 40 pounds after we met.  Jay says our foreplay is cooking.  That may be true.  After all isn't intimacy directly influenced by spending time together?  Especially when it is with something as pleasurable as food.  Speaking of food, we were supposed to go out to dinner tonight for his birthday tomorrow.  But our babysitter is having an issue with her pregnancy.  So we're doing Thai takeout instead.  So I'll have to rain check taking him to the surprise new place.
I have to thank Jeff for bringing flavor back into my life.  For being right next to me during menu planning and recipe prep.  For understanding the value of really nice knives.  For giving me a lifetime of new tastes to look forward to. 
Heartsong
Tonight's pre-birthday post about Jeff is about something that has always been a big part of his life.  Music.  He was raised going to all different kinds of concerts and shows and has great stories and memories. My dad played guitar when I was young and was also a singer so we had lots of music in our lives too.  But I never got beyond playing clarinet.  Jeff has a beautiful voice and is always singing around the house.  He has sung to me since we first started dating.  We all sing together in the car.  After a few months of dating he made a special CD complete with cover art.  Not your usual love song mix it was filled with songs that told me something about how he felt about me.  He had hidden it for me to find when he left after the weekend together.   I remember calling him after listening to it and telling him, "I'm going to marry you."  He puts music on whenever we are doing activities or hanging around the house. I love that the kids enjoy music too and sing and dance and play instruments.  He also keeps exposing me to new people I haven't heard before.  Every few months he makes me a few CDs of new music to listen to in my car.  We don't agree on everyone we like but it's good to give it a chance.

One new to me group that really caught me is Ha Ha Tonka.  See the video for my favorite song.  Jeff says he knows I like to rock out sometimes.
"This glimpse of brilliance is better than a long look at mediocrity."

Another new to me group is Great Lake Swimmers.  You hear this song here.

"I was lost in the lakes
And the shapes that your body makes
That your body makes, that your body makes
That your body makes

The mountains said I could find you here
 They whispered the snow and the leaves in my ear
I traced my finger along your trails
Your body was the map, I was lost in it

Floating over your rocky spine
The glaciers made you, and now you're mine
Floating over your rocky spine
The glaciers made you, and now you're mine

I was moving across your frozen veneer
The sky was dark but you were clear
Could you feel my footsteps
And would you shatter, would you shatter, would you

And with your soft fingers between my claws
Like purity against resolve
I could tell, then and there, that we were formed from the clay
And came from the rocks for the earth to display

They told me to be careful up there
Where the wind blows a venomous rage through your hair
They told me to be careful up there
Where the wind rages through your hair"


Kaleidoscope
I just got home because I had a late meeting up at the medical school.  Nothing makes you feel old and lazy like a room full of med students.

Jeff's birthday is this Thursday so I am going to post each day up to it about him.  Tonight's post is about one of my favorite of his qualities.  He is a wonderful parent.  I remember when we were dating I told him that single dads are hot.  Nothing sexier than seeing the squishy side of guy with his child.  And he loves kids.  You know those people, maybe you're one of them.  Although I have to be away sometimes frequently for work (like tonight) he always enjoys spending that time with one or both kids.  Jeff's specialty?  Craft projects and science experiments.  He makes them up, finds them on the internet or discovers them at craft stores.  We had brought the kids back geodes from Alaska.  After we cracked them open Jeff decided they need special display cases.  So he bought plain wooden boxes which the kids painted, glittered and lacquered.  Then he lined them with black velvet.  Voila, treasure boxes.  He took all of the extra crayons we get from eating out, shaved them down and  had the kids decorate wax paper.  Then he ironed them into sun catchers.  They also did the sun catcher kits I did as a child.  Last weekend they made beaded bracelets with their names in alphabet beads.  And this past weekend he found a kit that compliments their love of super balls.  They made their own power balls in molds out of powder, dipped them in water and after they dried they were off and bouncing.  Sometimes they just all sit at the table and use the box of markers or the barrel of craft supplies.  Either way they love the time together and I get pretty stuff to admire.
He's a keeper for sure.
The Kiss That Stopped the World

Today is our two year Kissiversary. I have already gotten a phone call and a text haiku from Jeff this morning.

"Kissiversary day - long, lingering, passionate - now as it was then."

This weekend's celebration was wonderful. On Sat afternoon we drove up to the lake and had a sandwich and soup at a local deli. Then we stopped at a candy store because I was looking for chocolate dipped strawberries. They didn't have any but we found other yummy things and he gave us lots of samples. We checked into the inn, walked along the lake and checked out the restaurant and other floors. It is such a beautiful place. I had never stayed there before but had been to conferences there. We went back to our room around 5pm and stayed there until 11am the next morning. It was the biggest bed I have ever seen. I needed the stool to get into it and Jeff is in love with feather toppers so I will ordering one this week. Dinner was brought to us and we ate on the floor in front of the fireplace and had the balcony door open onto the lake.

I had:
Sweet Potato Ravioli - Maple cream, candied hazelnuts.
Haddock - Oven-poached, lemon cream sauce, lobster honey dill crumbs.
Sugar Shack Baked Apple - Baked in a puff pastry, warm caramel sauce, Common Man-made vanilla ice cream.

Jeff had:
Lobster Corn Chowder - Maine lobster, corn, sherry and cream, served with warm corn bread.
Boston Bibb Salad - Spiced apple cider vinaigrette tossed, toasted almonds, dried cherries, goat cheese.
Mixed Grille - Filet - cabernet demi-glace, Grilled Chicken - gorgonzola grape tomato relish, Crab Cake - chipotle aioli.
Chef ’s Cheese Sampler - Three selections with crackers, fresh fruit and berries.

We checked out at 11am and went for brunch. They had a chocolate fountain so I had my fill of chocolate dipped strawberries. We went for our spa treatments afterwards. First it was the two person healing waters soak and then we went over to the two massage tables. It was nice having a massage in the same room together and we both felt amazing afterwards. Then it was time to head home. It truly felt like we were away for more than 24 hours. And last night was the first time I haven't gone to bed exhausted in I don't know how long.

The kids spent their time at my parents' house. They went fishing both days, played in the yard, blew bubbles and ran my mom ragged. But they all agreed that they had a great time. Jeff went to drop Isabelle off and Keegan and I took his bike around the block. They are just non-stop energy. Today I pick up the dogs from the kennel and we're back to normal.

So many reasons to be grateful.

My Husband Rocks

And not just because he finally posted something, even if it is only music.

He is awesome at his job. I don't know what he does really but I hear he is good at it.

On Sunday while filling my car with gas he opened my door to lean in and kiss me. Then he looked at me and said, "You're one hot woman Mrs. Druzba."

He has unlimited amounts of patience with kids.

He supports my need to mourn my ex-husband's death and is never threatened by it.

He is one of the most honorable people I have ever known.

Thinkin'

Sometimes when we are just hanging out I look at Jeff and I can't believe he is really my husband and that I get to spend the rest of my life with him.

Smells As Sweet

Cross two more off the to-do list. I went by SSA to change my name and then to the DMV to get a new license. The license I needed anyway because it was up for renewal and god golly my old pic was hideous.
I decided on hypenating my last names. I knew I wanted both I just wasn't sure if wanted to tack Jeff's on the end or hypenate it. My birthday cards came both ways and I decided I liked the hyphen. The decision on which names to have I made many months ago. I want to match Keegan and I want Jeff's name too. I have no interest in going back to my maiden name. No offense to my family. I am not that person any more. And to answer the whole "taking a man's name" thing, my maiden name is my father's so it was already a man's name. This way at least I got a choice in the matter. It takes forever to write but I think it is worth it.

A Sample

Edited: I fixed them for formatting problems. Click to see pictures.

Before
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During
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After
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The Here And Now

We're back. We're still a little tired. But we're happy. So amazingly happy. Trust me people would puke if they had to be around us. Marriage has made us giddy. Everything is the same but totally different too. Same job, house, routine. But we're married. He is my husband and I am his wife. I love that. We can hardly believe our luck.
The wedding was perfect. Absolutely beautiful. So very us. There are pictures to share once we get them back from the lab. We spent Saturday out on a boat and snorkeling a reef and strolling a pristine beach. No better way to spend the day before the wedding. On Sunday we waited for the sun to start setting and all walked down together to the beach. We had a ceremony that we helped the officiant write and then we said the vows we wrote for each other. We did not share our secret ring inscriptions until later at the resort when we were alone. We had a fabulous meal all together and then our friends dropped us at the resort. They upgraded our room to a marble suite right on the water. A basket with champagne, fruit and cheese greeted us. When I went to chill the champagne I found another bottle with a card from Erika, Jay and Sammy. The next day we spent three hours in the spa. We ate dinner at the resort and danced our first dance right by our table to a singer in the lounge area.