Thankfully, February brought slow improvement and eventual healing from the awful sciatic pain in my left leg. Due to a great massage and continued physical therapy, by mid-month I had no more pain beyond occasional twinges when standing too long. Praise the Lord! My joy in feeling better was sadly overshadowed by getting sick for over a week with an upper respiratory infection, but with antibiotics and rest I was back to normal within a week.
I had the opportunity to cook quite a lot this month, including a cooking lesson with a dear friend and a baking day with my best friend. The cooking lesson included making a lunch of poached chicken and vegetables for lunch with molten chocolate cake for dessert, going over a few additional recipes and time to chat about spices, basic cooking skills and the proper peeling of a pommelo. She also brought me a huge bag of delicious oranges (made AMAZING fresh OJ!), pink lemons and pommelos from their backyard citrus trees. Baking day is a fun tradition with my best friend that usually occurs around Christmas time, but due to work issues and travel, happened this month. We made an absolutely yummy Pumpkin Walnut Cake with homemade whipped cream. For lunch I made quick crocque monsieur sandwiches based on a recipe from Melissa d'Arabian and they were sooooo good! It was a great opportunity for best friend time and I'm glad we could carry on our tradition of baking together at least once a year.
There were several other delicious new recipes this month as well - a delicious buffalo chicken dip for Super Bowl Sunday, a vegan chocolate cake with chocolate tangerine frosting that I made for some dear friends as a Valentine's day surprise, and an amazing recipe for Barefoot Contessa's Lemon Chicken with Croutons. It was a simple roast chicken with lemons over a bed of onions which carmelized deliciously - so deliciously that friends who came over loved them even though they HATE onions! :) The croutons are freshly made and served with the chicken with pan drippings over them to soften....yummy! That night I also made an Aarti Sequeira recipe - Moroccan Carrot Salad with Carmelized Lemon. Ultimately, I really did not like it at all (cinnamon/ginger flavor of the dressing is not my taste), but thankfully my friends LOVED it and had seconds and happily took home all the leftovers. :)
Artistically, I didn't do much myself, but I was finally able to give my painting of Cayucos to my good friend Jeff and he really liked it. I also had the opportunity to do school with my niece Katelyn and one of the things we did that day was her Art & the Bible lesson which involved drawing. With some direction from me, she was able to draw a camel, donkey, and goat surprisingly well. We also learned about the color wheel, warm and cool colors, and what happens when you mix colors together. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn with her and remind me how much I love art.
I'm currently in the middle of about 4 or 5 books, but am most obsessed with Pioneer Woman's Black heels to tractor wheels which details her falling in love with her husband Marlboro Man. I love her writing style and this book is great so far. So far this year, I've read 12 books and considering my goal of 100 books by the end of the year I need to start reading more! :) In February, I read 5 books and of those my favorite was a book called Split: a memoir of divorce by Suzanne Finnamore. It was sad, but very honest. In January, I read 6 books and my favorite was The Help by Kathryn Stockett which was amazing and I can't wait to see the film version.
I watched a lot of movies this month, both at home through rentals and at the theater. I was able to rent and watch the film version of the book The Virgin Suicides - it was a sad book and the film was a decent interpretation. It's not a film I would want to see again, or really recommend, but I'm glad to have seen it. We also rented the new version of Robin Hood which I was initially against seeing since I truly dislike Russell Crowe. But I had heard it was really good, and it was something we could agree on renting. I have to say that it was a wonderful film - a very different interpretation of the Robin Hood story, but it was very good and the relationship between Russell Crowe's Hood and Cate Blanchett's Marian is just lovely. I won't say that this changed my opinion of him, but he was great in this film. Josh & I celebrated our nine year anniversary of the day we met with a movie day. Using 3 gift cards, discounted movie tickets and one free ticket we were able to see 4 movies (Unknown, Hall Pass, Gnomeo & Juliet and No Strings Attached) for no money out of pocket. This month we also saw The King's Speech which was incredible and even though Josh initially thought it sounded boring and didn't want to see it, he ended up loving it and we both agreed that it definitely deserved all the Oscars it won.