Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thrill Ride

Hubs and I took a weekend trip again. We went to Kansas City to 1) house sit, 2) have a weekend away, and 3) go to Worlds of Fun with some of our new friends.

I hadn't ridden a roller coaster, or thrill ride for that matter, in over 5 years. It didn't feel like that long ago, but as I walked into the theme park I started to get nervous. I have never really been a dare-devil with it comes to rides; I only went on my 1st upside-down ride 5 years ago. Imagine my shock when Hubs suggested we ride the Patriot first: dangling feet, upside down, and corkscrew turns.


I made up lots of excuses: my head bangs against the shoulder harness (true); I have a headache (true). But, I ended up on the ride. And, I ended up having fun (with my eyes closed).

Actually, it felt really good to conquer that fear. Every ride after that became easier and easier. Hubs even got me in the 2nd to front car on their newest roller coaster. By the time we had to leave, I was ready to keep riding! It was also good to spend some time getting to know some new friends.

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Ransom took a little thrill ride of his own. As Hubs and I were inside Saturday morning, I noticed something strange outside.

Hubs, I think Ransom is in the neighbor's yard.

No. He can't be. He would have had to jump the fence.

I went to investigate. Sure enough; Ransom was chilling out in the neighbor's yard. Correction: Ransom was trying to climb the neighbor's tree and get the squirrel that was dropping nuts into the yard.

I called Ransom back, thinking oh great, he is not going to know how to get back over and I am going to have to crawl over and lift him. To our astonishment, Ransom leaped over the fence without a hint of hesitation or difficulty and came over to me excited as can be over his new trick.

Not only was he excited, but he wanted to do it over and over again. And those squirrels kept taunting him the entire trip.

Note to self: We have a new requirement for a future home - at least a 6-foot fence.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another success x2

The last two evenings have consisted of successful, yummy, and healthy meals. The first was a brisket roast. Combine 10 hours in the crock pot with 2 packages of Lipton Onion soup mix and you can't go wrong.

But last night's dinner was so good, I dreamt about it. Not really, but it was very yummy.

I got the recipe off of Tasty Kitchen. If you haven't browsed those recipes, I would suggest you do. They have some great ones.

Last night we had a basil pesto sauce over multi grain farfalle with some grilled chicken mixed in. And an extra plus was that I got to use my fresh basil that has grown like crazy. The recipe below is perfect for 2 people, but that is because I halved the real recipe.

Ingredients:
8 oz pasta (I used multi grain farfalle, but anything would work)
2 chicken breasts (or whatever kind of meat you prefer)
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 clove garlic (I totally forgot to put this in and it was STILL good)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
salt and pepper to taste
reserved pasta water

Start cooking the pasta and then drain, reserving some of the water. Also, start cooking the meat of your choice. I grilled the chicken.

Put the basil, Parmesan, sunflower seeds, garlic, evoo, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender. Process until its all chopped up. If it looks gross; that is how it is supposed to look.

Mix the noodles and the pesto together in a bowl. Add some of the reserved water to the desired consistency.

I cut the chicken up and put it on top of each of our servings, but you can do whatever you want with it. Not gonna lie, typing this makes me want to make more of it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Our first and last trip to the pool this summer



It is so very sad that the first time to the pool this year was also the last. It is even more sad that the trip was not so I could swim, but so that Ransom could.

Each year after the pool closes, they open it for one evening so that dogs can come swim. They get rid of the chlorine and suggest that children not get in the pool, but adults are free to get in at their own risk. The zero-entry pool got pretty murky by the time we left - gross.

Our hope was that Ransom would love the water. Being a lab, swimming should come easy for him and he really should love it - it's in his genes. So, as I walked with him into the zero-entry area, I was delighted that he was walking right behind me. As the water got deeper, he slowed; then, he wouldn't budge.

Not easily put-off, I lifted him under his belly and walked him into the deeper section. Slowly, I let go of him to see what would happen.

What happened was a bunch of panicking - splashing around like he was going to drown. Then he realized that he could swim if he calmed down. And he started swimming...straight to the side of the pool to get out.

In panic-mode.

Normal doggy-paddling.

And, that was to be the trend. We went into the water with him, and he swam for the nearest ledge as soon as he could get away.


After I knew he could swim, I took him to the lap pool with the "big" dogs - the ones who loved the water and could hardly stay out of it. They would jump in, retrieve balls, toys, and whatever else was thrown out. I thought, Maybe Ransom will join in.

So, he got kind of excited about a ball and I tossed it about 2 feet away. He leaped to go get it and completely forgot about the water drop-off. He went completely under water and when he emerged, he swam straight for the side and took off running as soon as he got out.

Like any good parent owner, I took him right back into the pool determined for him to get over this silly fear. Once Hubs joined us, I was able to take pictures and Hubs was able to get into the lap pool (too deep for little me) with him and kept him swimming for a long time. Hubs would walk backwards calling Ransom to come and Ransom would follow for the whole length of the pool.



One thing I did not count on was how extremely hyper he would be the second he got out of the pool. He wanted to chase and wrestle with every other dog, run fast and hard, and spin in circles and go crazy. I am not kidding.

I think Hubs and I had more fun than Ransom, but I am already looking forward to next year!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Oh look! There's a dog outside.


Sometimes A lot of times I bring Ransom along with me when I run errands. The windows in the backseat only go down halfway, so I leave them rolled down and he just chills out while I run into human only stores.

Yesterday, I went into blockbuster to look for a movie and left Ransom hanging in the backseat. Windows make up three of the four walls in Blockbuster, and after I was inside for maybe 4 minutes, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I moved slightly to get a better look at what was out there, thinking that it looked like a dog.

What I saw was a dog. A black dog. A black dog with a hunter's orange collar. Ransom!

I turned and tried to run (in a jean skirt and flip flops) out the building. Of course the nearest door is only an entrance, so I shuffle around the cashiers like a dork saying, My dog is running around outside!

As I round to the back of the building, debating whether I should just drop my purse so I can go faster, I see Ransom checking out the manual car wash next door. Of course he won't go near them, though, in fear of getting a drop of water on his fur.

Okay, how do I do this so he knows it is not a game of chase, but that he should really come. I bent my knees slightly and bent a little and said, "Ransom, come!"

He whipped his head around to see me, his ears perked up at the excitement of finding me, and jogged over with his crazy tail wagging to one side. He comes right next to me, ready to go on another adventure with me.

Note to self: Ransom has realized he can jump through the car window - don't roll them down very much.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My little piece of Hawaii



One of the best parts of Hawai'i was the vegetation. Such beautiful flowering trees and plants. I just wanted to take them home.

Last weekend, I saw this plant that reminded me of Hawai'i and I just had to buy it.


This color just mesmerized me. The petals looks so soft and pure. And the color of our house is so boring, that it just brings some much needed brightness.


This morning these flowers opened up and I think they were the prettiest ones yet. I don't know how or why, but looking at them makes me so happy.


Now, if I could just get a plumeria tree to grow in our yard...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fresh Herbs

We have not only been using fresh veggies and fruits in our cooking lately, but also fresh herbs. I think they have a lot more flavor than the dried stuff. A few of our favorites are Parsley, Italian Parsley, Basil, and Cilantro. I can buy them cheap enough at the grocery store, but I get a huge bunch of them that go gross before I use them all.

So, thought I, I should plant my own herb garden!

On Saturday, I dragged my mother-in-law all the way out to a small town in Kansas that happens to have a really great greenhouse. They have great flowers and I knew I would be able to find someone to help me get started on growing herbs.

August isn't the best month to start - there weren't a ton of herb plants to choose from, but still I picked out a few to start my little indoor garden.

First we have Stevia. If you eat one of these leaves it is just like putting a little bit of sugar on your tongue. Stevia has been ground up and crystalized and is used as a sweetener now - you probably have heard of it marketed as "Truvia." I really only got this one to fill up some space, but if I ever have a sweet tooth I might chew on a leaf.

Then, we have a lovely smelling plant called Chocolate Mint. Ha! I couldn't believe it. It tastes very much like spearmint to me, not chocolate, so I will use it in iced tea.

Next is sweet basil. They also had another basil that smelled yummy, but I don't use it that often. We use basil in our italian dishes. Oh, one recipe I really like is to take a slice of tomato, top it with some chopped basil, then a slice of fresh mozzarella, and then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh black pepper. Now you have yourself a caprese salad and a yummy snack.

Last are the garlic chives which will be great on baked potatoes and in salads. Both of which are popular at our house.

So, I didn't get my parsley or my cilantro - the whole point of starting an herb garden - but, my mom had an ingenious idea of going back and buying the seeds. Since my garden is inside, I don't have to wait for next spring to plant!

Now, I just have to remember to go use the herbs instead of going straight to the cupboards!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You know you're in Kansas when...

...everything weather-wise is subject to change in a matter of five minutes. Calm air to tornadic winds. Sunny to stormy skies. Cool to absolutely unbearable temperatures. Even dry to humid heat.

...when you discover "tornadic" is actually a real word and you officially add it to your vocabulary.

...when the answer to "so, what are you going out to hunt?" is "aw, pretty much anythang that moves."

Monday, August 17, 2009

I spoke too soon


I asked for it and it did "bring it."

I had good intentions of being so productive with my day off. Lots of overdue, put-off projects to work on as well as the everyday chores.

What I didn't count on was the migraine or I would have made sure to replenish the Excedrin. Nor did I think that while suffering through my headache the car would break down, while I was driving. But I was thankful the storms let up while I walked to Hubs's office to get the truck. And, that Hubs's office was close.

So, I didn't get any of the overdue, put-off projects done. I only got a few of the everyday chores done. The migraine is gone and the car is in the shop. The mess on my desk isn't going anywhere and life goes on.

Tomorrow will be interesting. I'll take Hubs to work. Then I'll drive to his work and walk to my work. Then he'll go home for lunch. Then I'll walk back to his work to drive home. Then I'll go back and pick him up. Ha - did that confuse anyone besides me?

My first thought is to just go jump into bed and sleep until tomorrow makes me get up again. But, I'm going to read my Bible first and spend some time with God because 1) I know Sarah will ask if I did, and 2) because I know God is the one who gives me strength to greet tomorrow with a new, fresh countenance - whatever it may bring.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bring it.

It is just like us to have 2 months of calmness and then cram everything we can think of into 1 week. The theme of last week: Bring It!

It had been 2 months since Hubs or I actually and truly worked out. We were feeling pretty blobby, so last Monday we started our new, intense workout regime. It's very structured - 6 days a week. It's planned - we do they workout that is planned for us. It's intense - the hardest workout I've done in a long time ever. We are sore. We are tired. We are worked. But, we do feel better working out again.

Don't laugh. I took "before" pictures. No, I won't be posting them. End of discussion. But, I did want to see if there will be any noticeable changes in a few months.

Along with the workout, came a new diet. We are eating healthier, fresher foods which means there is lots of prep-work. Chicken to cook the night before, veggies to chop and store in the fridge, and thinking when it comes to deciding what to eat. But, we feel better, we enjoy the food, and it compliments the workout.

It had been 3 months since I had any sort of schedule, routine, and job. Monday was my first day working again. And even though it was for a few short hours a day, it was a change from being a bump on a log. It was good to talk to people and interact again.

Weeks ago, I committed to baking cookies for a conference at church. The conference was this week - the week we started our 1 hr workouts, the week we started eating food that needs considerably more work than popping it in the micro, and the week that I started leaving the house for 6 hours a day. SEVEN HUNDRED cookies later - bagged and tied with raffia - the conference is over and everyone got their cookies.

Once the cookies were bagged, Hubs and I set off cleaning the house for our guests! We love having people stay in our guest room and Hubs's parents made their first stay this weekend. I am happy to say we got the house cleaned and odor-free by they time they arrived.

Add in there hanging out with friends, coffee with family, a trip to the dog park everyday, dog play-date at our house, and getting caught in the hail and it was an eventful, busy, exhausting week.

So, I have no clue what this week will bring our way, but all I have to say is, "BRING IT!"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Because you asked.

Here's the recipe for our new-favorite Italian Meatloaf. I'd be really good with a side of whole grain pasta and a little extra marinara sauce...

Ingredients:
1/2 cup onions, diced (green onions work too)
2 tablespoons fat-free chicken broth, low sodium
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast
1/2 cup sourdough bread crumbs (it took me 15 minutes to find the regular bread crumbs so I just used those)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons marinara sauce (I used Newman's Own)
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons italian parsley, chopped

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Saute onions in the chicken broth until lightly browned.
3. Add the garlic and cook 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the onion mixture with the ground turkey, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup marinara sauce, basil, and parsley.
5. Form mixture into a loaf. Shape and place in an ungreased loaf pan.
6. Brush with the remaining marinara sauce and bake until cooked through, 30-45 minutes.
7. Drain off fat and let cool 20 minutes before cutting into 8 slices.

Nutrition info (per slice):
297 Calories, 3g Total fat (8% calories from fat), 45g Protein, 20g Carbohydrate, 106mg Cholesterol, 410mg Sodium

New foods

Hubs and I have begun a new workout/nutrition plan this week. Which means we are both putting down some new foods.

I knew this would be a different type of eating when I bought 75% of my food from the produce section, 20% from the meat department, and only 5% off the regular shelves. This food is fresh and yummy.

Tomatoes
Hubs has never "liked" tomatoes. I just found out this week that he hasn't ever HAD a tomato! He's had them for lunch each day this week.

Avocado
I've never been an avocado fan (I like guac, but that is different). We have both put avocado on our burritoes this week - can't even taste it!

Amount
We are both eating, what seems to be, a lot of food. However, we are just eating good food and the right food to replenish our bodies from high intensity workouts. Our diet consisted of lots of processed foods and carbs. We are eating more protein and veggies right now.

Meatloaf
We have lots of new recipes to try. My first new recipe was "Italian Meatloaf." I have always thought that meat made into a loaf is wrong. But, the ingredients to this meatloaf seemed good, so I gave it a try. Hubs was game for it since the substance that holds it together is marinara sauce rather than the traditional ketchup.

When it came out of the oven, I was very, very nervous. We tasted; it was DELISH! We both ate it up and Hubs has been eating the leftovers, too! But, I didn't tell you why I was even more nervous about this meatloaf. It was made with ground turkey instead of beef; and still, I have never had such a great meatloaf.

Salmon
People keep telling us how wonderful salmon is, especially on a cedar plank. As a rule, I have never eaten pink fish - I like the white ones better. So, I bought salmon and a cedar plank. I covered it in spices and tried not to gag while doing so.

When it came off the grill, it looked reasonable enough. But the more I thought about actually putting it in my mouth, the more I gagged. I didn't even take the whole fillet; I just cut off a portion to try. I tasted my first bite and maintained the same opinion - eww. Hubs gave me some of his potato and I forced my salmon down my throat, covered with potatoes.

Hubs didn't like it, but he didn't think it was horrible. He ate half of his fillet before the gag reflex hit. At least we tried.

Salmon isn't cheap. We have been considering putting Ransom on a salmon-based dog food to help with his itchy skin. So, we cut off the seasoned edges, cut the salmon into bite-sized pieces, and put it in Ransom's food bowl. He licked the bowl clean for about 5 minutes after he gobbled it down; then he searched the house to see if he could find anymore of that stuff.

At least someone enjoyed their omega-3 fatty acids.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mmmm...wood.

Life is busy again. I'll get you caught up some other time.

Ransom loved my parents house. A whole backyard complete with squirrels, smells, digging spots, and a pond with bright colored fish! What he really enjoyed, however, was the wood pile.

video

He spent hours pulling out the wood and chewing on it. The next morning on our walk, I got to see all that wood come out the other end.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The details

That was awesome. I leave out key information in a post and I get a flood of comments!

I was sitting at home one day, thinking about what I should do when a phone call came in. I had no idea who it was and debated about whether I should answer. It had been a downer of a day and wasn't in the mood to talk. I picked it up and it was a job offer.

I am now the secretary at our church. Well, one of them. It has been a full-time position and I was only interested in part-time, so it has been split.

The hours are great, the job is right up my alley, and I have room to be creative in my own little way. I love to be in the midst of it all, and that is right where I will be now. Ransom is doing well in his crate and we have no fears leaving him there for the hours I am away.

Before I knew I would be working, I volunteered to help out for a conference. My job? Baking at least 600 cookies and putting them in little bags with cute ribbon. I thought, I won't have anything else to do that week. Why not? Little did I know that the week of the conference would be my first week of work. Eye-yi-yi. My life went from uneventful to crazy busy!

Thanks for all the inquiries. It makes me happy that people do read.

Back in the Saddle

Today is my first day back in the workforce of America.

What?

Let me back up. You may not know it, but over the past 2-3 months I have felt at a complete loss. It is really hard to describe, but I have had no direction, no purpose, no structure in my life and therefore my brain had turned to mush. I couldn't have a serious conversation without crying; I couldn't make up my mind about anything; and I waivered on what I wanted to do with my life every day. It was messy.

So in the crisp, clear air of Colorado I discussed my new found plan with Hubs and resolved to find a part-time job. My goal in working again is to 1) have a structure/routine/schedule - it is very apparent that I cannot function in any other way; 2) have conversation with other human beings during the day; and 3) have a purpose. Wait. You're wondering what the purpose of a part-time job is when you still are unsure of future plans?

I know 1 thing right now: I want to finish my degree. Therefore, while I am working not only will my brain return to it's normal squishy gray and white matter, but I will also help put money towards finishing school. And as my brain starts functioning, I hope to research and find a school that meets my needs completely.

Honestly, when I first got the job, I was scared. Not of the tasks. But, I have been without a job for 3 months and trying something new is a little nerve-racking. I have had 4 days to process it, however, and I am ready and excited.

Not to mention that this job will be a near-perfect fit for my strengths.

And what is even more comforting? That God knew I would take this job. I just needed to trust in Him, and looking back, I could have done a much better job of it.

So, today I am back amongst the working. Speaking of that....I gotta get going!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Then and Now

I tumbled upon an old photo of me while spending time with my grandparents. Actually, I stumbled upon a lot of old photos and brought them home to add to my ever growing catalog of photos.

Anyways, here I am on July 21st, 2006 - 3 years ago.


And here I am more recently.


I feel like I look a lot different now.

First of all, the hair. Whoa, was it blonde. And long. And fluffy.

The second thing I noticed that has changed is the smile - a change for the better. These pictures give a good depiction of how narrow my smile was before. Now, those gaps on the side of my smile are gone.

I could go on about my tan skin, my eye color, and my complexion. I could point out how you can tell I have a headache in one picture by the way my eyes are shaped. But really, I want to get to the shape of my face. It has gotten wider, which is a nice way of saying fatter. I was probably more active then, probably ate better, too. Going from walking back and forth across campus for class to sitting at a desk all day for a few years is bound to change your body. But this if the first time I noticed it in my face.

Good thing I am starting a new workout regime on Monday. Goal: skinny face. And legs. And butt. And, oh you get the point.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Backpacking

It's the time of year when kids are getting their school supplies together, loading up their backpacks, and shopping for new stuff. My favorite item to get was a backpack. I was always interested in how many compartments where there and where I would put all my new school supplies.

Our pet is not our child. Nor is he going to school. Nor does he have any need to school supplies. But, he did got a new backpack!

I feel like this is one of those first-day-of-school pictures. You know, where you stand on the driveway with your backpack on?

But Ransom's backpack is not for school; it is for our walks. As you know by now, Ransom has a lot of energy - more than we can expend with just one walk a day. But, we can't be taking him on 3-mile walks a couple of times a day. The backpack, when loaded, allows us to walk him a shorter distance and he is still getting some good exercise.

We can load him up with up to 20 pounds. Today we just started with a gatorade on each side.

The backpack is also supposed to give your dog a sense of purpose, a job to do, and a reason to follow us. I am happy to say it works really well. Ransom doesn't seem to mind it and is definitely more focused on walking, instead of all the other distractions.

And, it allows Ransom to carry around his own poop, instead of his owners.

There is another plus to this backpack, though. We can't wait to take Ransom hiking. There are some local trails, and we plan to camp this fall and hike. Someday, we hope we take him to Colorado when we hike. He can now be a part of our adventures.

And, not only is it great exercise for him, but he can carry our water!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Photo Op

The family get-together this weekend was an opportunity to take some family photos. This is always a difficult task. Getting my family to stop talking, stand still, wait, move positions, and wait some more is not simple.

First up, the original family unit. It turned out nice - everyone smiling and looking at the camera. However I must point out that I am not really that short; we are standing on a hill.

Here is the question, though. I think I was told that I look like each of my parents and both of my brothers at some point on this trip. Who do you think I resemble?

Next up, the family unit plus the in-law, the fiance, and the girlfriend. Hubs is the tallest. I am the shortest. And I have no hair. It was hot, so I pulled it back. Bad idea.

Next up, the grandparents. They have had so many adventures in their 50 years of marriage. That's right - 50 years this October!

And then it was time for our little family unit. Imagine all of those people in the above pictures standing behind the person with the camera calling Ransom's name, whistling, trying to get his attention in some form - to no avail. Then comes the problem that he is so black that you have to get him at the right angle to even see his face. This was the best one (of many). Once again, I have no hair.

What a day.

It is stormy outside; overcast and dreary. I've got some coffee made and chick flicks on the TV. Now it's time to bake some cookies.

Did I tell you that I am coordinating getting about 600 cookies baked and bagged up for the women's conference next week? I recruited volunteers for baking some of them.

One batch down...many more to come!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Flappin' in the wind

Ransom loves car rides. Ransom loves hanging his head out the window during car rides. It gives Hubs and I a good laugh because his jowls and his floppy ears flap in the wind. Of course, this splatters drool all over the window and car, but we're over it. It seems like the faster the drive, the more he likes it.

But when those jowls get a-flappin' it is pretty amusing. But I can't explain it; I must show you.

video

Monday, August 3, 2009

Togetherness

This weekend was one consumed with family togetherness, and it was a blast. We've come to the stage where, at the end of this month, each sibling will live in a different state. From there, who knows where we will all end up. So, we all came to town on the same weekend to have some fun. My grandparents from Texas came, too, which was a real treat.

The newly engaged couple, and dad. The wedding is in May!

The two Bobs. I've told you about Pop-pop - he can fix anything. Oh yeah, the first thing Ransom did when we came was put a hole in that screen door.

Dad and his dog.

Me and mine. They aren't best friends, but they can coexist. - more on that later.

Notice I am wearing a hoodie! We spent Saturday evening at the campground and it got chilly. I loved it.

We ate so many s'mores. And cheesecake. And pie. And krispy creme donuts. And ice cream.

And just when we thought we couldn't get more "together," we added some more family and squeezed ourselves onto the deck for lunch.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pinch me.

It was 60 degrees this morning and I will definitely be wearing a hoodie to a camp-fire tonight. I must have been transported to a different part of the country cuz I KNOW this ain't Kansas!