Monday, November 30, 2009

Novembers Past

I got this idea from Marie over at Life in a Tiny Town where she shared some of her old November photos. I've already shown you my photos from South Africa, Nov 1999. Here are some other photos from the years between then and now.

November 2008
Blog photos from Disney

November 2007
Lots of Blog Photos - American Girl, self-inflicted haircuts, etc.

November 2006
Kate, Jack and Coco having a picnic in cohousing a few days after a huge snowstorm
Kate - 2.5 yrs
Jack - 20 months
Jack looking at a toy catalog - he still loves to do that!
November 2005
Our first year in Colorado
My sister and I with the kids in Austin
Kate - 21 months
Jack - 8 months
My mom and Kate feeding ducks at her house in Dallas.
November 2004
Back in Indiana
Kate's (9 months) first Thanksgiving
I'm about 5 months pregnant with Jack and already SO puffy!
November 2003
With my grandma - I'm about 6 months pregnant with Kate and starting to swell.
Grandma and I had matching feet!
November 2002
In Cabo for a friend's wedding
November 2001
Hiking at the ranch in Arizona
I think that is Mexico in the background
November 2000
Just a few months after we got married we adopted Kelso from the Humane Society
Sadly, Kelso isn't with us anymore.
I was going to go back into the 90's, but then I got side tracked and wasted a good hour+ looking at photo albums and getting nostalgic! Maybe for next November I'll go further back...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Red Mountain Trip - Day 4

On the final day of the trip which was also Matt's birthday, we opted to go canyoneering. We had a guide take us through Yankee Doodle Canyon. After all the hiking, we finished up the trip with a massage at the spa and another early bedtime. Ah, the luxury of a good night of sleep!


First rappel


Biggest rappel
Hiking through the canyon

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Red Mountain Trip - Day 3

Last Friday while on our trip in Utah, we again slept in a bit. Had another tasty, healthy breakfast. Picked up the brown bag lunches we requested and headed towards Zion National Park. We didn't have much of a plan (this was the first time for both of us and we knew we didn't have time to truly explore the park. We'll go back when the kids are a bit older), but knew we wanted to do at least one good hike. The Angel's Landing hike had been recommended, so after a quick drive through the valley to see the highlights (the valley is open to car traffic this time of year - usually you can only get in via shuttle bus), we started off.


Two turkeys
Now neither Matt nor I really knew what to expect on this hike. We had been told that there were some steep parts (not recommended for those scared of heights) and that there were *some* chains at the top. So up we go, and I am snapping photos thinking we are getting pretty high.
And we get to an area that we *think* is basically the top. We see a few chains, but it doesn't seem to lead anywhere much higher. So we took some photos.
We admired a condor (#31 of only 170-ish in the wild!).
Then we decide to follow the chains to what we assume is the top.
Until we realize that we have to go all the way up there, and, let me tell you, it looks much steeper and much more narrow in real life! (I consider myself a moderately adventurous girl, but I almost chickened out...)
There were signs up all over about how hikers die when they fall from this trail. In some spots, it was a LONG way down on both sides.
I was pretty nervous at times.
(I giggle when I'm nervous so don't let the smiles fool you!)
But we made it to the top and to an amazing view.
Someday I'd like to see a sunrise or a sunset from here.
And safely back down (going down the steeps was harder than getting up!).
See where I'm pointing? That's where we were.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Red Mountain Trip - Days 1&2

Finally getting around to recording our journey...

Arrived in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Drove to St. George, Utah. Checked-in. Ate dinner - I had tomatoes stuffed with quinoa, olives, mushrooms, peppers and cotjia cheese on a bed of sauteed spinach and bread pudding with caramel sauce for dessert. Went to sleep early. Slept in on Thursday morning. Did a 3+ mile trail run from resort and down Johnson Canyon to an arch in Snow Canyon State Park (which the spa/resort borders). Breakfast - I had soy-oat-quinoa pancakes plus other goodies. Relaxed a bit (I took a nap... yes, less than 2 hours after I woke up, I was asleep again!). I went to a cooking demo on "Spicing Up Your Grains." Learned a bunch from the chef. Ate lunch - I had an elk burger with potato wedges and green beans. Did a 5+ mile hike in Snow Canyon. Showered. Dinner- I had stuffed green chiles with a sweet potato sorbet and a cranberry sorbet for dessert . Attended a meditation class (Matt opted to skip the class and sit in the hot tub). I really liked the instructor and wish I could have gone to more of his classes (they do an evening yoga session in Snow Canyon which looked amazing! Next trip...). I did get his meditation CD. Then we fell asleep early.


Snow Canyon
Matt exploring a lava tube
Me taking silly photos of my shadow in the lava rock
More silliness
I loved how the red rock striped the white limestone
Matt in the Whiterocks Natural Amphitheater

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Thought

Maybe not your typical Thanksgiving quote, but...

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meaness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whomever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.



-Rumi

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Candy Turkeys

Making something like this is so unlike me! I tend to give out "healthy" treats. For Jack's preschool Halloween party, I signed up to bring the veggie tray. Jack's teacher reported that when talking about the Thanksgiving party, Jack had said a bit despairingly, "I hope I don't have to bring the vegetables again!"

I guess there is some status to bringing the "yummy" treats for preschool parties.

So here is our contribution to the preschool Thanksgiving party. Candy Turkeys! I originally thought about doing something similar with rice cakes, cheese spread, and veggies, but somehow veggie turkeys just aren't as fun as candy ones! The base is an Oreo spread with chocolate frosting. A malted milk ball is the head. Mike & Ikes make up the feathers, and I cut up some random, yellow gummy candy for the beaks. (I had planned to do the feathers and beaks with corn candy, but couldn't find any...)
The kids had a ball making them, and I guess it is good for all of us to sometimes stray from the norm.

*Note to self: do not plan a fast on the same day you plan to make candy turkeys with Oreos...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Interview

I kinda hesitate to blog about this in case it doesn't work out, but I have an interview this morning. It is *only* a volunteer position, but I could still use some good thoughts. I'm not sure what to expect in the interview. I certainly hope it is more informational than interrogational as my interview skills are a bit rusty. I'd really like the opportunity to be a good fit for me and my life situation. I think it will give me a bit of fulfillment that I've been missing lately. If it all works out, I'll give more details.

Update - It went really well. Mostly an informational interview. Just a background check and a volunteer orientation away from doing something a bit more beneficial with my free time. As an added bonus, I might even get to help with the organization's social networking.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Between a Rock and a Soft Place

We're home! Yup, we were gone. For 4 nights. Just Matt and me. Sans kids.

I surprised Matt last week with a trip to the Red Mountain Spa* in St. George, Utah. He had NO IDEA until the night before we left. His mom and her S.O. had arrived for what Matt thought was a short visit. At dinner that night I came out with a birthday cake, and we all sang Happy Birthday. Matt was a bit confused and asked why we were celebrating so early at which point I informed him that we were celebrating early because we won't be here for his birthday.

We quickly packed that night and took off the next morning while his mom watched the kids. I'll try to post more details and photos soon.

*I know that taking my husband to a "spa" for his birthday sounds sorta girly, but this one is a a great place for guys with tons of outdoor activities and healthy food (plus he had mentioned a few times that he wanted to go there).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

40th Birthday

Happy 40th Birthday to my husband Matt. My goodness, that sounds OLD. I think I am having a harder time with Matt turning 40 than he is. How can I possibly be old enough to be married to someone in their 40's?!? Fortunately I have many, many more years as a young 30-something. I can't wait to share with everyone what we are doing to celebrate, but I don't want to ruin the surprise...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So Much For That

So I missed blogging on Sunday and then didn't really see the point of keeping up NaBloPoMo. Oh, well! This is a really crazy and very exciting week for us. Can't wait to share the details. Now going back to enjoy it!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Warm Spot

It is cold and rainy/snowy today. Good day for staying inside. I think this afternoon we'll make some treats in the kitchen. This is Nina's favorite spot in the kitchen... sitting on the heater vent!

Friday, November 13, 2009

South Africa

This is where I was 10 years ago today.
That's me and my friend Elizabeth. We were camping with her husband and a few of their friends on a beach in South Africa. The best camping spot ever.

Fall 1999 was kinda a crazy time for me for lots of reasons. I needed something, so fairly last minute I arranged time off work at the hospital and took off to South Africa for 3 weeks. A truly unforgettable trip. Exploring the Capetown area was great, and our trip to Krueger National Park was absolutely incredible. Partly because of the sights, mostly because of the company.

You might hear more about the trip in another post. Some other photos of the trip that I've scanned...

View of Table Mountain from our hike on Lion's Head
Beach
Cape Point
Blyde River Canyon
Krueger National Park
(see the croc sunbathing in the bottom left corner of the photo?)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Learning Young

It makes me smile to hear my 5 year old ask me to put her apple core in the compost bin and to hear my 4 year old ask me if he should put something in the recycling bin or in the garbage can. So silly, yet so gratifying.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lucky Day

11-11
My lucky day.
Wondering what unexpected wishes are coming my way...

This is a photo of the four leaf clover my grandma found this summer. She is amazing at finding four leaf clovers!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Southwestern Risotto

This is the recipe I mentioned yesterday that we had for dinner last night. Yum! I adapted it from an old Cooking Light* recipe. I think I've mentioned before that I make my risotto in a rice cooker. Probably won't win any awards, but since I can't stand over the stove and stir constantly, it works for us.

Southwestern Risotto
4 cups vegetable broth
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice (I usually use short grain brown rice)
1 roasted red pepper, diced
2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1 can black beans (I usually use the equivalent amount of homemade, frozen beans)
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I use the pre-shredded Mexican mix)
1/4-1/2 tsp hot sauce (I omit because of the kids - Matt and I use it in our individual bowls)

Heat oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Cook onion and garlic until soft. Add cumin, coriander, and rice. Saute a minute or two. Put mixture in rice maker. Add broth. Cook for about an hour or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in red pepper, corn, beans, cheese, and hot sauce. Cook until heated.

*BTW, you can get a one year subscription to Cooking Light on Amazon right now for only $5!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Roasting Green Chiles

An exciting Monday in our house... school for both kids, vet visit for all three animals (we use a mobile vet who comes to the house - the best thing ever!), and some pepper roasting! A friend gave me some green chilies over the weekend, and I decided to roast them today even though I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with them. Either dice them up for Chile Blanco, make Gretchen's Green Chile, or freeze them for later.

First, I slit each pepper and took out the seeds.
Then I roasted them black on the grill (up until about 2 months ago, I was totally clueless about the grill. I always let Matt do it all. I didn't even know how to turn the silly thing on! Finally I got tired of delaying meals because of Matt's work schedule and learned to turn it on. I'm still learning the art of grilling, but so far it is pretty darn easy. No wonder it is traditionally a man's job... oops, I didn't say that out load did, I?).
I covered them with a damp towel (a "greener" way to steam them than using the plastic baggie approach) for a few minutes. I also roasted some red peppers for our dinner tonight - Southwestern Risotto.
And slipped the skins off. The smaller peppers didn't have much meaty pulp, but I'll make it work.
Just have to figure out what to do with them now.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

On Love

A couple more favorite bits from Simple Truths. These from the chapter On Love. I could quote the whole chapter (actually, I could quote the whole book!) but that is just too much typing for me.

Love is more than the sum of the interests and attractions and commonalities that two people share. And just as life itself is a gift that comes and goes in its time, the coming of love must be taken as an unfathomable gift that cannot be questioned in its ways.

and

Remember this and keep it in your heart. You don't choose love. Love chooses you. All you can really do is accept it for all its mystery when it comes into your life. Feel the way it fills you to overflowing, then reach out and give it away. Give it back to the person who brought it to you. Give it to others who seem poor in spirit. Give it to the world around you in any way you can.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

On Possessions

Getting this post in under the wire...

One of my current favorite books is Simple Truths by Kent Nerburn. I read it over and over again. There is nothing in the book that I don't already know, yet something about the way it is written continues to inspire me. Here is a favorite bit from the chapter On Possessions.

We must always remember that possessions have no inherent value. They become what we make them.

If they increase our capacity to give, they become something good. If they increase our focus on ourselves and become standards by which we measure other people, they become something bad.

When we seek a possession, we should ask ourselves if it will make us better people, more able to share, more willing to give, more capable of doing good in our daily lives. Possessions that increase our own sense of self-importance are empty in comparison to those that help us contribute something of value to the world.

Friday, November 06, 2009

After School Snack

Day 6 of NaBloPoMo, and I'm already struggling. Where in the world did I find the energy and time to blog everyday when I first started?!?

Thought I'd also share one of our favorite after-school snacks (although I don't usually make balls - just use as a spread)

Speaking of school, Kate was the star student for her class (something about being kind and respectful to other students) and got to be recognized on the school's Friday morning TV broadcast this morning.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

November Blahs

This article made me smile.

Blah is how I feel lately as I struggle to find motivation to get out and run as the weather turns cold. In my very short running career, I've always been a fair weather runner and basically stop running every winter (hmm... maybe that is why I've never gotten any better...) This year HAS to be different since I've tentatively committed to running the Austin half marathon in February (one of my college roomies - Keahi for those in the know - says she'll do it with me! ). I will still slow down the number of runs I do this winter partly because I'll be adding in some winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing (I'm even doing a 5K snowshoe race in Nov!) and partly because I am going to be following some guidelines from the book Run Less Run Faster thanks to the recommendation of my friend Dimity.

A bit of a motivator was recently upgrading my winter exercise wardrobe to accommodate my plans to run all winter. Nothing like a new clothes to get you moving! One of my favorite places to shop for workout items is Lucy. They are running a 20% off special, and you can get the code/details here - Lucy 20%.

I ran my longest run EVER on Monday, and yesterday I got out and did the incline with a friend despite the packed ice/snow near the top. And today I have no excuse for the blahs as it is expected to be in the 70's!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Tipsy Stitchers

I hosted my crochet/knitting group last night. The group is sort of an evolution of what was once playgroup for the kids, but older kids and busy moms make it tough to coordinate playdates now. There is usually some stitching happening, but mostly it is just an excuse to drink wine while eating chocolate and other yummy snacks.

I did get a few rows done on a scarf that I am making for myself. It is my first creation for ME since I learned to crochet.