Saturday, May 31, 2008

Our Bloom is Your Bloom!!

My mom is an amazing woman. She knows so much about so much. Does that make sense? If you talk to her for even a few minutes, you're gonna walk away knowing some kind of interesting factoid, whether you wanted to know it or not. I picked up Soraya for a bike ride this morning, and while I was waiting on her to come outside, my mom gave me a 2-minute lesson on hydrangea planting and care. Unfortunately, our little townhouse yard isn't really suited for a hydrangea bush, mostly due to the scorching sunshine. My sweet mom had this beautiful bouquet awaiting me when we got back from our morning ride.

Can you imagine a bush about 4 or 5 feet high and maybe 8 feet long absolutely covered in this bloom? Gorgeous.

I love my mom, and "Thank you for the gorgeous hydrangeas!! Our home is happy!" :)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Unbelievable, Indeed!

Voila! The spinach calzone was, indeed, unbelievable! :) I followed the directions to the "T," also adding the meats and jalapenos, then brushing the tops of the calzones with egg whites and Italian seasonings just before baking. Baked in only 20 minutes!

Russell was delighted, and he's pretty picky! Sooooooo, we highly recommend the recipe!

Note: The Italian seasonings sprinkled atop just before baking make a very tasty difference!!

Post-Baking. Picture perfect! Well, to me! :)

And, of course, topping it off just the "wright" way (or maybe just the "Shireen" way????) and from the kitchen of Betty Crocker herself...Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies...

Sharon, thanks for that yummy dessert idea! YUM!

Off to a movie with my hubby! Have a great Friday night!!

"Unbelievable Spinach Calzones" - It's What's for Dinner!

1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
salt and pepper to taste
Refrigerated Pizza Crust or Crescent Rolls
Spaghetti Sauce for dipping
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, eggs, Italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and spinach. Set aside.
Divide the bread dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece out to about an 8 inch circle. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the ricotta filling onto each circle, fold over and seal the edges. Place onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until nicely browned on the tops and bottoms.
Serve with warmed spaghetti sauce for dipping and a salad!
Yield: 8 servings.

I went onto and found this yummy calzone recipe! It's what's for dinner tonight! I think we'll add some Pepperoni, Genoa Salami and maybe some jalapenos! Russell has to have his MEAT! :)

I'll post our "review" after the taste test!

Have a great weekend!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Thanks, Rest, A Little of This & A Little of That...

First of all, thank you to all who have and do serve our country. We do not recognize you enough, unfortunately, but we esteem your hearts and efforts to protect our well being. Thank you!

We've really enjoyed this 'off' day! It's actually been quite productive, yet also restful:

We're both reading our books - Russell's into C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce (recommended at church last night), & I can't put down Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns - in between chores and snacking throughout the day! :)

Russell's already changed the oil in my car, rotated his car's tires, checked the air pressure in all of our tires, and I've cleaned and tidied inside the house.
Later, we'll get back to working on our bikes! Off with the road tires, on with the mountain tires! YEAH!!

For now, back to reading...well, I'm about to be after posting this blog. ;)

Hope you're having a great, restful day!!

Out with the Old, In with the New!

We've just re-decorated our upstairs spare room! Out with the old, in with the new! Well, new to us, anyway! The Lovoys, my boss' family, gave us some great furniture just after we decided to convert our spare bedroom into an 'official' office. This should make for a much more productive work environment for Russell! He really likes it! "Thank you to the Lovoy's!"

P.S. "Ryan, thank you for helping Russell!!!"

Just a Walk in the Park...

Oak Mountain, a beautiful testimony to God's creation!
I am SO grateful to live in such a great city as Birmingham! Among so many other wonderful aspects, we have some beautiful parks and attractions!

Russell and I just bought season passes to Oak Mountain State Park because we go there all the time! You can do ANY kind of activity there! Hiking, running, road & mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boating, lake swimming, golfing, etc!! There are lots of fun races out there, too!

We decided to go hiking yesterday, so we packed our gear, our energy gel packs, a picnic lunch and plenty of H2O and Gatorade and headed out! It was pretty neat...we learned that Russell enjoys a slower pace, taking in all the scenery, while I enjoy a much quicker, cardio pace. We mostly went his pace, since our packs were pretty heavy, especially his at about 20 lbs! Next time, we'll just carry our camel backs and go for speed! :)
Russell's so cute in his "boonie" hat! :)

I picked up a walking stick for part of the hike...felt like a real, genuine hiker!! ;)2 hours & 4.5 miles into our hike, we were more than ready for our picnic lunch!

We had a great time! We did, however, run low on energy toward the end. I stopped on the trail, bent down and rested my hands on my knees, looked up and said, "Honey, I'm tired!" I had no clue how much further we had to go...later to learn we had 5 more miles ahead of us! UGH! We got back to our car, went and bought me some mountain bike tires for our next Oak Mountain expedition :) (YEAH!!), went home and crashed for a nice, long nap before church.

More pics here!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

COMPLETION: My first Triathlon - a mini, but still very much a triathlon :)

Want to boost your confidence level? Do a race! It's an exciting and fulfilling experience!

I signed up for the
YTri Triathlon two weeks ago, on Ashley's recommendation. "Thank you, girl! SO glad I did it!!" I've been anticipating the race these last couple of weeks, super excited and not one bit nervous, for which I absolutely praise the Lord!

Last night, Russell and I went to the beginners' pre-race meeting, which seriously lasted from 6:00 until about 7:30. It was great information on endurance, pacing oneself, swim/bike/run tips, etc. Then, I looked over at Russell, all smiles :), and asked if we could drive the bike course on the way home, to which he said, "Of course!" We rode it, and I'll save you a long description of the course by simply saying, "It's Mountain Brook...what can you expect? HILLS!"

Anyways, long story short, God gave me the strength to be up at 4:00 this morning, eat, get to the race location by 5:00, rack my bike, set up my transition area and get my body painted with black permanent marker :) by 6:00 and then the ominous waiting period began!

The first event was the the outdoor pool of the YMCA. Being #181, I waited about 50 minutes until I could jump in and do my 200 yard swim. My turn came, and I jumped in! I did the swim in 3 min. 56 sec. I even passed 3 people! Not bad at all!

Next, the 8.5 mile bike ride! The biking is my favorite and strongest event! So, I quickly run back to my transition area, wipe my feet dry, put my socks and shoes on, my helmet and shades, and unrack my bike. I'm off! Breathing so heavily, too, with excitement and just from getting out of the pool! Everything was going great...pacing myself, passing other cyclists, remembering cadence and gear shifting, when all of the sudden, I'm going up the steepest hill of the ride, and my pedals are spinning at top speed, yet I'm not going anywhere...soon to be drifting back down the hill? So, I look down, assess the situation and discover that my chain's disconnected. Bummer! So, I hop off and start pushing the bike up the hill...actually going about the same speed everyone else is going on their bikes. I'm telling you...steeeeeeeeeeeep hills! I pray, I reach the hilltop, I readjust the chain on the gears, and I'm good to go, praising the Lord all the way back to my transition area.

Final leg of the race: the run. Only 2 miles, but still 2 miles! Ugh! All I can say is somehow I got through it. I was even able to sprint the last bit to the finish line!

My goal going into this race was to finish it in 60 minutes. My final time was 1:00:31! So, I was off by 31 seconds! YEAH!!

I still can't believe I did it! Russell asked me later today if I enjoyed the race, and I really had to think about my answer...we realized that I enjoyed the pre-race and post-race stuff more than the actual race itself. It was hard, definitely a mental challenge. I'm certainly glad I've done it, and we'll see what it leads to. One of the best aspects of this whole experience, however, was "partnering" in it with Russell. He has been the BEST "support crew" I could ever have...right there with me the ENTIRE time...leading up to the race, cheering me on (calling out my name among the crowds!! :)) and taking good care of me post-race! "Thanks, Hun! I want to do an adventure race with you next!"

6:00am, my bike is racked, my transition area perfectly set up to my liking :), ready to roll!

Just passed the finish line! GREAT FEELING!

Brooke Chamblee, a friend through church, and I are champions! I'm darn proud of my medal! ;)

More pics here!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Book Recommendations

I was encouraged to read The Kite Runner by several girlfriends. It was a quick read, very eye-opening, and I highly recommend it! It will give you a new perspective, particularly culturally.
Now, I've been encouraged to read A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author, Khaled Hosseini. I just started it, and I have a good feeling I'll be recommending it, as well. This author's writing style is so easy to follow, and you almost feel like you're able to read Farsi, the native language of Afghanistan, as you're reading...the way he weaves the Farsi into his writing is subtle but poignant in effect.
Let me know what you think if you pick these up! Or if you've already read them!

Monday, May 19, 2008

What do YOU do after Bible Study???

On my way home from Bible study tonight, I called Russell to let him know that I was planning to come home and go for a walk, that I'd be home in 10 minutes!

Well, my car, definitely the culprit, took me to Western Supermarket, and my body forced itself out of the car, into the store, directly to the ice cream aisle, and I literally watched my hands reach out for not just one and not just two but THREE flavors of ice cream!

So, that's what I did after Bible study! Yep, the walk flew out the window right after I hung up with Russell. Ice cream. It does a body good.

Plus, Russell was happy...that's important!

Please, take time to notice how much we ate in about 10 minutes, or less. :)

YUM! The Cake Batter rules!

Thanks to Blue Bell, I'm going to bed much more satisfied, and my workout tomorrow should be much stronger! Well, I hope so, anyway.

P.S. This is not the first time we've done this, and it will not be the last. Highly recommended to try this at home.

Grateful for the Sabbath

Gosh, I don't have any pictures for this particular post, but I just want to share that I am so grateful that God gave us a specific day to rest!

We've all heard the old saying, "Work hard, play hard, rest hard." I lived that out with intensity last week through yesterday. I try to work diligently each day at work, and then I've tried to be diligent about doing some chore(s) each day in the house. The real intensity comes in the playing and resting...

I'm training for my first triathlon! Yeah!! Now, it's a mini, but it's still a triathlon! I've been swimming, biking and running, trying to figure out my best times, so that I can have a good idea of what my realistic goal should be for this Saturday morning's race. After a week of go-go-go training and keeping up with the rest of my schedule, I hit a wall on Saturday morning, while on my bike, about 2/3's through a 20-mile bike ride. I just kept thinking to myself, "Am I really up for an afternoon of golf after this? No, but I can't let the girls down!" So, I just kept digging and climbing, finally reaching my car, loading up the bike, and a couple of hours later, I found myself standing on a golf course, re-fueled on food and caffeine. Now, this was my first golf game ever, and I and a couple of other girls planned for a 9-hole game. It took us 3.5 hours!

I was hot, exhausted, dehydrated and wanting my bed at the end of the game. Hence, gratefulness for the Sabbath. What did I do all day Sunday? REST! REST! And did I mention REST?!?! So, yeah, I'm still recovering from the intensity of last week, knowing to not push myself quite so hard this week, especially with the race this Saturday morning!

Pray that I do well, guys! That I would enJOY this fun first of what I hope will be many adventures!


A Year Ago Today!

May 19, 2007 was a life-changing day for me & Russell!! I can hardly believe it's already been a year since he proposed to me! Indeed, as the saying goes, "Time flies when you're having fun!"

Here's the story for those of you who might be interested!

Here's a picture of the "message in a bottle."
Of course, I would not convey the romantic and sweet message itself...that's for me. :) I'd say, it sure worked! "Way to go, Hun!"

To say the very LEAST, it's definitely been a FUN year!!

Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12

Friday, May 9, 2008

Lots Goin' On...Fun Times!!

Last night was so boring in the Wright household...well, for me, anyhow. Russell cleaned his guns - pistols, revolvers, shot guns & rifles (he gave me his gun lesson 101 this morning...the only reason I know all these manly gun terms! :)) - from 3:00 in the afternoon until 9:00! He just got started, was on a roll, so I let him be. He's a man...he must be fulfilled in his hobbies, and I fully support him! So, I read all night! I've just started The Kite Runner, and I got to page 140! It's a fast read, and I highly recommend the's an eye-opener. I won't let myself watch the movie until I finish the book, but the movie's next on my list.

If you know me, you know I'm a go-go-go kind of girl. I love to be moving and doing at all times, until it's bed time, then I appreciate my sleep. This is why 'down' nights are hard for me, but after today, I'm very thankful to have had that down time. I see the Lord in it...He knew I'd need some rest before a go-go day like today!
I was up at 5:45 this beautiful Saturday morning, got my coffee in hand and spent some time in the Word, just before joining my sweet friend Cori Dillon at Jemison Parkway for a good-paced walk and talk. :) Then, I went home and cleaned up, just to get all sweaty again with some girlfriends at Oak Mountain's driving range! My sweet husband bought me a cute, pink :) set of golf clubs and all the "bells and whistles" that go along with the game while we were on our honeymoon last August. He even got me some cute golf shoes, or are they called golf cleets? So, we practiced on the driving range for about an hour.

Ready to play! Emily Doss & Sarah Dunn on the putting greens. These girls have great technique & form on the driving range! I'm excited to learn!!
Emily Doss, Sarah Dunn & Lynn Dunn (Sarah & Lynn are cousins)
A little flirtsy goin' on!

Then, Russell picked me up and took me orienteering a bit deeper into the woods of Oak Mountain! I was like a little kid in a candy store! "Show me! Show me! Teach me! Teach me! Oh, I even get my own map and compass!?!? Fun!!" He gave me a little 101 on orienteering/land navigation/terrain association one afternoon this week, so we got to put it into practice today. He highly complimented my skill and quickness in learning! Yeah! I navigated my first orienteering course of 8 check points!

Russell's mapping out our course.

Tomorrow, we're going back out to Oak Mountain to do a more difficult course! We'll see how we do!

So, now, we're resting at home, in preparation for tomorrow's adventures!!

Well, Russell's grilling our dinner on the new charcoal grill I just bought him!

Thanks, Hun! I know it's gonna be yummilicious!! ;)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sunday Mornin' Cruise with My Sis!!

Sunday morning was such a treat! I got to ride 20 miles through the quaint villages and residential areas of the over-the-mountain area with my sis! It was perfect, cool weather and sunny skies! We did 20 miles in 1.5 hours! It's confirmed...Soraya is a stud! She amazed me with her cycling and leadership skills. We started our venture at the bottom of a hill...if you're familiar with the Homewood residential area parallel to Brookwood Village, you know the inclines to which I'm referring! Yeah...exactly.

So, as I'm climbing that first hill, my chest and breathing are in overdrive, and I'm shifting those gears and wabbling up that hill, pedaling like a maniac, trying, but definitely failing, to keep up with Soraya. (Was that a run-on sentence? :)) I'm thinking to myself, "Great start, Shireen." Soraya peers over her shoulder from the top of the hill, making this look oh so easy, and asks me, "Doin' alright?" "Doin' great!" I respond, "Right behind ya!" Thankfully, we did not hit another crazy hill like that one for the rest of our ride. Oh, and great leadership skills on Soraya's part, too! She was great at letting me know if we were about to go left, right or straight, and she didn't hesitate once with the patches of traffic we'd pass through.

Can y'all tell us apart? :)

"Soraya, you're really cool! ;) I'm thankul to be your sister! Already looking forward to our next cycling adventure! Love you!"

Graham's Gratitude Gathering

Graham Holmes is our realtor, and he may be yours, too! :) Several of our friends have bought and/or sold homes through him, and he's wonderful! He was highly recommended to me, and I'm passing along the recommendation! 90% of his business comes from referrals, which means he barely advertises! He entrusts his business to people, and his reputation and our word of mouth sells his services! It's really amazing, but I know this is because he is blessed! He and his family truly seek to honor the LORD in their lives, and it's evident. I appreciate that Graham appreciates his clientele because that includes me! :) I want us to buy another house just to go through the experience with him again!!

Graham treated his clients to a sweet dinner at Olexa's on Saturday night, and we had so much fun! I got to see some great friends, eat some great foods, play a fun trivia game and laugh a lot, which is always a good thing!

Our yummy menu consisted of the following courses:

Appetizers: Bruschetta & Cheese-Smothered Crispinis
Salad: Caesar Salad & Sesame Seed Crackers
Main Entree: Chicken Parmigiana smothered in Italian tomato sauce, pasta & perfectly seasoned, steamed squash, zuccini & onions, served with parmesan & buttered slices of Italian Bread

Dessert: A martini glass, brimming with chocolate cake, whipping cream & not-too-much chocolate sauce ;), topped with a fresh strawberry! Perfect completion to a beautiful meal!


Dan & Ashley Matteo

Jeremy & Michelle Long

My date: Marcie May :)

Russell missed a good time, but I'm proud of him for serving our country at drill this weekend.

This is only one of Graham's many gatherings of thanksgiving for us!

"Thank you, Graham!"

Bon Apetite to a Month-Long Birthday!!

So, if you know me well, you know how much I LOVE birthdays! They should last and last!! :)

Ashley & Dan,
Thank you for treating me and Russell to a fun birthday dinner with a gift certificate to Olive Garden, one of our favorites!! We love Italian!
We enjoyed it so much! We shared a yummy spinach-artichoke dip as an appetizer, their signature salad (my personal fave!! ;)) and The Tour of Italy main dish - lasagna, alfredo pasta & chicken parmigiana!

Oh, my, I feel like I'm speaking Italiano! :)

We treated ourselves to a yummy Limoncello, too!

Grazi! Grazi! ;)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Yeah!! A New, Cool "Do!" ;)

Startin' out summer right with a new "do," y'all!!! It's shorter, which means curlier!! :)

Several people - guys and girls!! - have asked where I get my hair cut and styled.

So, here you go...

Diana Baker was highly recommended to me by several girlfriends with CURLY hair!! :) She can cut ANY type of hair! And she does color, too! (although I've not needed to use that service yet ;))

Fringe Hair Salon
2225 Arlington Avenue
Birmingham, AL 35205
Phone: 205.933.1888

And I highly recommend Diana, too!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sweet-And-Sassy, Anyone???

Many of you probably have no clue what I do as far as work each day, so here's an opportunity to share!

I 'manage' the accounts receivable and accounts payable for Infomedia, a web-development company, based out of Birmingham, AL. In layman's terms, I make sure Infomedia gets paid by its many customers and that Infomedia pays all of its vendors in a timely fashion. I enJOY what I do because I 'get it.' I also praise the Lord for the job, as well as praise Him for the people with whom I get to work...even when some co-workers decide to bring their 'mood' with them to work! ;) Truly, the job is such a luxury, and, most importantly, the staff is encouraged to see God glorified and present in the business, in the production all of it, and we genuinely seek to give all glory to Him. It's high-caliber!

Our customers are great, too! They appreciate our hard work in creating their web sites from start to finish. This includes design & graphics, programming, constant communication with the client and launching the site as soon as possible. Our goal is to launch a site within 4 to 6 weeks from start, and God has given us a great team to get this done!

One of our very kind customers, SAS Cupcakes (aka. Sweet-and-Sassy Cupcakes), is ecstatic with the site we've just completed for them! Their business is so cool! Got an intense sweet tooth? Or perhaps a special occasion coming up? Order some gorgeous & delicious cupcakes! That's right! They ship them to you! SAS was so pleased with their site that they treated Infomedia with two dozen richly flavored and decorated cupcakes, which are really like mini-CAKES! One is too much! :) Check out some of the flavors!!

Click on each for pics! Try not to drool on your keyboard! :)
Bananas Foster
Chocolate Chip Mint
White Chocolate
Triple Chocolate
Red Velvet
Chocolate Amaretto
Cinnamon Toast
Peanut Butter
Chocolate Chip
Frangelico Hazelnut
Kahlua Mocha
Bailey's Irish Cream
White Chocolate Pretzel

Here are pictures of what they shipped us!Couldn't you just reach out and grab one?!?!
They were gone in no time flat!!!
Highly recommended!! ;)
"Thanks for the cupcake delivery, SAS!!"

Parents for a Night!!!

Yeah!!! We got to be parents - even if only temporarily - last night!!

Ryan & Jenn let us keep Rollins while they enjoyed a date night! It was so good for me and Russell. Rollins was a sweetheart. At first, we just took turns passing him to each other. He just kept reaching out for the other when in our arms! :) Then, we realized, he was reaching out to the one that would take him outside! Ahhhhh! So, I took him outside! He did sweet barking dogs responded; he reached out to the bbq grills - just like a man! ;); he was just wide-eyed, being in a new back yard, trying to take it all in! Then, we went back inside, and we all played! Well, mostly, I took pictures, while Uncle Russell and Rollins played...

"First thing's first, Uncle Russell! Let's go climbin' on all this fun, soft furniture!!"

"Come on, Uncle Russell! You can't stop now! We've got more to climb!" Russell had to say no to climbing over the back of the chair!! Good thing!

We were so proud of Rollins!! We know Mommy & Daddy are teaching him to climb down feet first, so we kept cheering him on..."Feet first goin' down, Buddy! Feet first!"

Then, they played this sweet "I see you!" game with a see-through, frisbee-like toy. Russell's going to be such a wonderful daddy!

Yeah!! Rollins wanted ME to hold him, too! I literally prayed for this earlier in the day, and he kept reaching out to me through the evening! Thank you, Lord!!

Of course, all good things come to an end, and we had to put Rollins down to bed. He was fast asleep and made not one little peep!

Mommy & Daddy had a great date night, and we did, too! "We're ready to keep Rollins again, guys! Love y'all!"