Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Planning for our Departure and Arrival

I have some plans in the works. I have come to the conclusion that I am a busy body. I have recently noticed that my husband and I work well together because we motivate each other. I've been racking my brain over things I can do to improve my life and my overall situation. I recently was pressed to try something new, and take a chance to do something I love: Cook.
Well, I do love to cook, but I also love to entertain. And, I'm taking on a challenge by hosting a home cooking class at my house (that is still in the middle of a remodel). I'm opening myself up for people to see my life, but I'm also trying to move to do something that I love. I have been cooking for a long time. I don't have cooking credentials, but I do have experience. I have been published twice for my recipes as a child: 1. Zucchini Spaghetti and 2. High-Hat Lobster Bisque.  I have been ravenous through cookbooks and read many magazines with which I experiment. I have read thousands of cooking blogs, and I own many cookbooks. The biggest thing that I have discovered since we've been travelling is that I don't even need cookbooks anymore. I'm sure that my repertoire of recipes was essential to me finally discovering my ability to find textures and flavors that I love.

On November 4, I am hosting a home cooking class at my home. It's a super cheap way to have a meal, but also to encourage those who cook every night to try new, interesting recipes. I had mentioned this idea to my husband months ago, but he seemed to think it wasn't a good idea at the time.  As a result, I decided to wait, and I have found that this  is the right time for such an event.

I have taken several cooking classes. One of which was from the Viking Culinary Institute in Memphis and the others have been in various locations. The most significant experience that I draw from often is my travel. When traveling, I go to local markets, prepare food inside or outside on little equipment, and devour delicious meals. I have noted these meals and chronicled the cooking I have done in Chile, Europe, and across the United States. I hope to encourage others to continue to have family meals and to spend time together around the dinner table. This is something I am very passionate about since I did not grow up having meals around the home dinner table. And I am very opinionated about it because currently in my life it is so important.

Some of you may be reading this and not live in the St. Louis area- I hope to post the recipes that I use on the November 4 cooking class here. If you have questions, email me or facebook me. I'm a huge believer in NOT spending all day in the kitchen, but I do believe in healthy, accessible meals with whole food ingredients... no HFCS, no highly processed foods.

Thanks for reading, y'all! It's going to be a good November.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Things I love about Dubois, Wyoming

 1. Every time I look out my window, I see snow covered Slate Mountain.
2. Best story time: drop your child off for 5 bucks, and they get lunch.
3. It smells like sage everywhere.
4. People are still close to the earth in that, gardens are close... and we use up everything we have. Groceries are darn expensive here. Except bananas- $0.29 a pound.
5. Sundays are sundays- nobody is open.
6. Anywhere you walk, you feel like you are still in the wilderness.
7. The wind river twists like 8 times in the middle of town.
8.There is a cool playground, and they have bikes for anyone to use.
9. The aspens.
10. The opportunity shop is the best thrift shop in the whole world because of the FREE box.
11. Yoga at Wind River Yoga.
12. It's colder- not humid at all. Wood stove kind of weather. Awesome.
13. Cinnamon Italian Sodas from Kathy's Coffee Shop.
14. The library has free books all the time.
15. People are really friendly here. Genuine.
16. Cowgirls and Cowboys thrive here.

It's a beautiful, fun place. And, it's a small town like where I'm from. It's nice to be thankful for these small wonderful things here in Dubois, Wyoming.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lake Louise

It's been a while since I've written. I feel a little guilty about it, but I think I needed a vacation from the writing of our daily do's. I just did it. There are a couple of things that I do want to remember, so I'll document them today. We've been in Dubois, Wyoming since October 3, and the night that we arrived, there was a huge snowstorm. We got about a foot of snow here. We hiked through town and grocery shopped and enjoyed the fireplace here at our cabin. Ryan and I were already missing Adam. We made the week fun hanging out with friends and meeting new ones. We had some really nice weather after this thunder snow.
So, I figured we should do some hiking (!) and we did. I wanted desperately to try again to Lake Louise that we attempted and failed in late May. I grabbed our accouterments+ and we headed down the Fish Hatchery Road to the Wind River Trailhead. And, Ryan and I spent an afternoon on the trail. We hiked for a good while up and down some hills, rock scrambling, and enjoying the scenery. We listened to the wind blow and the waterfall over tons of rocks. The torrey creek lead us up some steep passes and through some tight canyons. Luckily we didn't see any bears or other wildlife. We had been going for about 2 hours, when we reached this beautiful rock walled area, and Ryan and I were both spent. She's heavy in a back pack on a moderately strenuous hike. Alas, we failed in this attempt to get to the Lake. Again. I felt so beaten.  We had a light snack next to the waterfall area, and then we headed down. Along the trail, I took a photograph of this big beautiful mountain protruding out of the ground covered with snow. It was an incredible view, and I couldn't leave without a photo of the view. We continued heading back to the trail head over 2 major hills, and I notice that my favorite hat, and the first gift Adam gave me is missing. I'm not sure where we lost it, but I've got to find it. I walk back a distance to look, and no luck. I put Ryan down and walk as far as I can while I can still keep her in eye distance. Still, to no avail. I decide we're going back until I do. I couldn't part with it- yet. We get back to the point where I shot this said photograph, and there it is. Lying a few feet from that stopping point.
My legs are shaking, and I'm sure that we've been walking for 3 hours. Ryan is doing well, but I'm a little anxious, and I'm tired. I encourage Ryan to encourage me. I have her tell me, "Step by Step, the closer we get to the Volvo." And, she does. It helps tremendously. And, she's so well-behaved. We trudge back after the grueling hike- spent and hungry. I'm sore already, but I feel good we made the attempt albeit failed.

I decided that it was probably good that I didn't see Lake Louise without Adam, but I was unsure if we would attempt it again. Adam and I spoke one evening about going over Google video chat, and he wanted to on the day he came back to Wyoming.

Yesterday, we picked him up in Riverton, and we decided we would still try a small hike- maybe not to Lake Louise, but to the bridge that overlooks the waterfall.We took the drive back down the road to the trail head, and at 4:40pm, we started our hike. Ryan was on Adam's back, and I was hiking in front. We made it to the waterfall overlook on the Glacier Trail, and spent a few minutes there. We talked about our next move. It was a short hike, and we both wanted to go to Lake Louise. So, onward we hiked. And, after what seemed to be a running pace- because we wanted to try to not hike in the dark- WE MADE IT! We climbed the beautiful rock walls that Ryan and I picnicked at on our previous attempt, and not a 1/4 mile later were we at this beautiful vista where the mountains formed a hole where Lake Louise filled with water. The sun had already moved behind the mountains, and we just enjoyed the beautiful hour glass shaped lake. Snow twinkled around it and the sky gleamed purple. The moon rose above the mountain to our left as we stood at the pinnacle of our hike while the lake and mountains were to our right. It was an incredible moment in my life. It's one that I'll never forget- and one that I don't want to forget. We dropped the backpack off at the bottom of this rocky area, and I didn't bring the camera. It's almost fitting how that happens. I just want to remember the view-and I surely will.

Now, Ryan is getting cold. It's dusk, and we're hauling butt back to the car. Shortly after our turnaround, I ask Adam to look at the backpack that I'm holding- We notice that Ryan's coat has fallen off. (This trail wants our items, huh. Not to mention that Ryan's hat fell off at the top, and we had to find it. ) Adam runs for a good 6 minutes to retrieve the coat- and we keep moving. By the time we get back to the waterfall bridge, it's dark. Ryan is miserable by this point, and she has layers of clothes on, but refuses to put on her coat.  I'm wet from the camelback spilling down my back. Adam steps in a huge puddle of water and soaks his foot. We are the crazy family that just desperately needed to see Lake Louise that we are hiking in the dark, in the wilderness, with a single child's headlamp. We do have all of our necessities, but I feel like we might have over did it. It took us 3 hours to go up and down. It got dark at 7. We were at the Volvo at 7:40.

You know what though... It was totally worth it. The day we had was unmatched. And our sunset over Lake Louise...majestic. I'm so glad we finally made it- Third times a charm, right??

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Elephant Back

It was one of those mornings I couldn't pass up. Snow on the ground, the husband off of work, and a babysitter. It was a morning for a hike. No more than a quarter mile from the dorms is Elephant Back Trail that overlooks Yellowstone Lake.
We were the first people on the trail. We were definitely worried about grizzlies since there is one particularly big one that is hanging out around Lake Hotel. We fortunately came prepared with bear spray, hiked in a group, and when we were winded (I'm still adjusting to the altitude) we made plenty of noise. The snow almost felt magical, especially since it's only September. The hike climbed 800 feet, and once we made it up to the top, the snow was deeper. The trees were covered with a blanket of snow, and it is a hike I'll likely never forget.
The best part of the whole hike (3.6 miles total) was the point in which we first saw the view. On a switchback the trees open up and the silvery sky, lake, and trees appear. The white is snow, the sun glistens when it hits the slivery landscape like a shiny nickel. As we climb higher, the trail flattens and trees surround us. The sky is blue through the canopy. It's beautiful... but it's not winter. Or so I thought.
It was a good morning. A wonderful hike in the snow. I only wish we would have some sunshine. I miss the sun. I haven't seen it in a couple of days.

The next day we took a drive to Gardiner, Montana. We drove to the nearest grocery store, and for being really rural it was a nice store. We planned for the next weeks dinners and we turned around through Teddy Roosevelt's Arch and headed back to the lake. We stopped at Norris Geyser Basin and took a short hike through the geysers and springs. It's amazing how beautiful hot water and thermal areas can be. Beautiful blue crystal bubbling water is incredibly smelly though as well. The earth is obviously a living, breathing thing, and when in Yellowstone- it's a clear fact.

Not all about this traveling scenario is ideal. I'm easily entertained, but this weather is not ideal. I need some sunshine... Will you all in the South send me some please??

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This is crazy

This life is an amazing adventure. My life is so different than it was just a few months ago. We're on the move. We're a traveling family when I was so stable and went to a job everyday of the work week. What I remember seems so distant, and still yet I have my own schedule and I still get a lot of "work" accomplished.

When we left this last time, it was definitely bittersweet. I do miss my home, but the exchange for this landscape is worth it. We had quite the adventure, and I'll start with our attempt (yes, attempt) to leave St. Louis. Our goal was to just drive a couple of hours, so that we could camp. And, we left, ate dinner, and filled up our sweet old Volvo with gas. Then, the old girl (the Volvo) wouldn't start. We have known there's been a bit of an issue, but we weren't worried.  When she didn't start for 30 minutes, we decided once she did we would go home.  Our efforts foiled, we were a bit discouraged, but the Volvo started the next morning, and we headed west. Yes, despite the fact that we could be in the same predicament again. The whole day, we never turned off our car. And we made it to a campspot called Sheridan in western Kansas.

This lake was in a valley, filled with rocks and trees.  To our east, the ridge was higher than our line of sight, so when the night fell upon us, the harvest moon- brilliant orange and beautiful, rose from behind it. Our night included making dinner and Adam and I having some adult time while the moon glistened on the water. It was one of those things that just doesn't always happen. It felt like a good omen, and we were going to make it west.

We had a lovely morning. I've learned something about myself  when I camp. I'm a morning person. I don't try to stay up late at a campsite... I'm usually tired and I often like to watch the sunrise. Considering this, we were right on the line for the time change, where, it wasn't until 7:20 that the sun finally rose. It rose beautifully just as the moon had done so the night before.
I had time to gather wood, start a fire (which I'm proud to say that I used the coals that were still hot from the night before), make coffee and breakfast. These tasks were done all while my daughter and husband slept in. It's a lovely thing to enjoy these small joys. I haven't always been able to "camp", but it's just like cooking a meal. It's all a process, and it becomes second nature after you do it a couple of times.

We had a quite a few tasks to complete while in Denver. Adam had a job... which took the entire evening, and we had to pick up the part for our Volvo. We also so our sweet sister who just started college in Lakewood, CO. It was a long day in the car, and we also didn't turn the car off unless absolutely necessary.  That evening we made it to Dubois, Wyoming. It was a full day to say the least.

Monday we grocery shopped and left for Yellowstone. It's been pretty nice. We're in a dorm room, and we already settled in well. We have food and a menu- so that's my job. I'm the cook. Yesterday we had chili (wonderfully comforting since it is chilly out.) And, tonight we're having Saucy chicken thighs with prunes and raisins.

Yesterday (Tuesday) we saw a GRIZZLY bear. Oh. My. Word. Those creatures are fierce. huge. scary. We were on our way to the hike, and right outside the dorms-- the grizzly stood scratching and looking for food. We headed to the ranger-led hike, and we were late... so I'm nervous and hiking mad-fast just to try to catch up to the group. I finally did, but we met up with some Europeans and they weren't all about listening to the ranger. It took us an hour (that's it) to hike 2.5 miles... and I had Ryan on my back the entire time. I didn't even take a break. It felt good. The weather was beautiful, and we could see the Tetons from Storm Point, which I didn't get to see the last time.

What to hear one other thing? We're still (UGH!) trying to potty train Ryan. And, it's almost there. Still... she peed in her pants 2 times yesterday. Any advice?

Hope you all are well! I'm loving the snow-- it's coming down right now!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

It's one of those days

I got up today and all is well. But, you know what, I thought I was pregnant. Sadly, it was a reminder of my loss.

I think it's always a process, and I know that I would have been pregnant, and I should be trying to get pregnant again. I just felt such a blow. I am doing fine. I just have a bad day every now and again. It makes me remember how precious life is.

It might be silly to contemplate too long on this, so I'm finished. Just saying I'm remembering the life, but I'm not remembering it silently.

Let's Get Honest

I've been seeing a lot of overlap in my personal life... big "ah-ha" moments. Things that I'm reading all around have been paralleling each other. I've noticed some differences happening in my life and I know that God is working in my life.

I'm doing bible study with my sisters, Adam's sisters. And, it's Beth Moore's A Woman's Heart. It's really incredible, and she is an incredible speaker.  The reason I mention this is because I have noticed that we as humans are problematic. We all have problems-- I have problems... it's just the way it is.

I notice that a lot of my facebook feed is filled with articles and posts on the problems we have as women and the things that we analyze and over analyze. I myself am guilty of that. I find myself happy with other people and their lives while I find myself comparing mine to them. And, it isn't healthy. I spent quite a lot of time away from facebook for the first two years of my daugther's life. I was not in the right place to be looking at other's photos etc. I have a problem in that I start comparing myself/my life to others instead of embracing the beautiful life that I have. I admit this here. I confess it here. And, it's probably something other people can identify with.  I gave the good ol' facebook up on purpose, and it was good and refreshing.

This realization came to me after reading an article directed toward women and how our nature makes us do that... or our society makes us compare in this way. We do it constantly. We, as women, watch other people and the way they walk and dress and act. And, facebook is just one other way for us to perpetuate that. I thankfully have found a way to be in control and make good ol' facebook a positive outlet.

I am on facebook regularly. I think I've finally figured out how I can use my facebook visit positively. I keep what I need to do on my mind and I have a purpose in what I post...The reason I use it now is for the right reason. I'm writing (like I am right now). I'm identifying with others and trying to contemplate our problems. I'm attempting to start a cottage industry on etsy with my little shop... that I pray to God succeeds. It isn't easy- it's hard work. 

My life is changing all the time. I simply am writing this to you today to encourage you. I hope that with whatever you are struggling, that you find peace about it. I pray that you have realization and open your eyes to the beautiful wonderful things we are given by God. I realize that I'm not perfect and that I have problems too, but I want to be better!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A sweet memory

I write a lot. I use my journal. I type things here. I spend a lot of time in my head, and most of the time that's good. I have an awesome memory. I hardly ever forget the good moments, and I try really hard to forget the ones that were less than desirable.

Saying that, I was driving somewhere recently, and a memory of my husband and his friends when I first met popped in my head. I know a country song was playing, and the words went something like, "I wanna write you a song." I thought about that  in my life, and this memory came upon me. It surrounded me and over took me. I simply had forgotten this moment when Adam WROTE and SANG me a song.  God love my husband, he's got a different kind of voice. But, it was so romantic.

I'll tell you the who's, what, where, and when.

It was the first summer we met. We'd been hanging out for a few weeks. We had probably just became boyfriend and girlfriend. I didn't cook at that time much because I was the guest at the house where he resided at the time. He lived with two buddies, Noah and Mush. So, a typical evening at the tan house (lava mountain lodge) included dinner, cleaning up, and Adam making cookies. I usually picked up dish duty, as I should, for the boys making food.  This particular night was a little different.

Music was often playing around. There were guitars and one of those bongo drums around the house. A harmonica wasn't hard to come across... It wasn't unusual for someone to be playing some type of musical instrument at any moment.

I was cleaning and one by one the boys started playing these said instruments, and soon after, Adam serenaded me with a song in his own flavor. A song that I couldn't ever forget... but, did.
I should write out the lyrics and try to attempt the rhythm, but how do you portray this image in my mind? They had set this stage. This one moment in time, one night in Wyoming. And, Adam sang.

Well, my baby called me up
She said, I'm comin' down tonight.
I said, well, come over baby,
I'm gonna make it right tonight.

Cause she's my baby,

She's my honey.

She's my girl.

And, there were more lyrics, and Adam definitely has them written somewhere.
I was blushing. I felt so special. I'd never been treated with such a fantastic gesture. It wasn't one of those things that happen any more to a girl. It's like one of those scenes in a movie that we all secretly wish still did. It was so unplanned, but it was perfect.

Does that make you smile? A little romantic gesture. Let me tell you. That is something that I love about my sweet husband. I sure am thankful for God blessing me with a husband that loves me. And, I'm so thankful for the time that we had to get to know one another.

I decided that I should write about this. In case someone is a hopeless romantic and smiles about sweet nothings like this.

Future Plans

Life is crazy busy while at home. We have lots to get prepared before out next stent out west. We'll be gone for several weeks again. Wyoming is our destination (again!) and I am stoked. Hey, maybe I'll even find Lake Louise this time around!

We're leaving a few weeks from now, and although I love traveling, it's been really wonderful to be at home and to be with Ryan. I still don't have a schedule- we have days that are kinda the same where as we do a lot in the mornings- come home for nap time- and prepare meals at home. It's been wonderful this week in particular.

My dad and an old friend of his stopped through while on the way to Columbia, Missouri. I made some new things- out of my regular scope of recipes. It was really hot the day that they made it into town, so I made a cucumber juice. Now, this is a treat. I adapted it from Sunny Anderson's Mean Green Cucumber Juice recipe on the food network. If you look it up- definitely use less sugar. It's really sweet and delicious. I would try it first just as the recipe calls! It's wonderfully fresh and delicious especially on a hot, sticky day.

The other things that I made for our meal were firsts too. I made an almond encrusted tilapia- from a repertoire of  other fish that I have created. And, Brocolli and cheese quinoa.  It was a delightful meal- wonderfully summer.

Almond Crusted Tilapia:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond slivers, pounded into a coarse grain (I did this in a ziplock bag with a dough roller)
1/4 cup corn meal
1/2 cup panko
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. cumin
1-2 eggs
fresh lemon slices
salt and pepper
as many tilapia filets as you think you can eat! I made 7 large filets

Heat Olive Oil in a iron skillet to medium high to high.  Once oil is hot, place dipped fish in hot oil. Pan fry for about 3-4 minutes each side until golden brown. I set up a cookie sheet covered with cornmeal once they were finished frying, and placed them in a warm oven at 350 degrees so that I could complete the other filets. As to not crowd the pan, I did two filets at a time. Once the oil is good and hot,  some of it may be soaked up in the fish, so I did have to add more from time to time.
Tilapia is not a flavorful fish, so this is a well seasoned recipe. The lemon really brings out the flavors of the fish and the almond crust! I used lemon liberally! Another suggestion to add or have at the table is a lemon garlic aioli sauce.... a simple mayonnaise with lemon and garlic... YUM!

The broccoli cheese quinoa is easy and indulgent. I used steamed broccoli, Colby jack cheese, 2 cups cooked quinoa. My one trick here is stone ground mustard added in to the mixture. I added one tbsp. of that zesty stuff and it was delicious. Use the amount of broccoli and Colby jack cheese to your taste....

Brocolli Cheese Quinoa

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 bunch steamed broccoli
1/2 block of Colby jack cheese, shredded
1tbsp stone ground mustard
1tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix together cheese when quinoa is hot to make sure it melts!

I hope you enjoy these recipes. I did. It was a wonderfully satisfying meal and perfect for a summer night.

I've been a busy bee. I opened my etsy shop! I have a few other items to post for sale, and I've been running to get prepared for our next stint in Wyoming! I gotta be in tip top shape to hike with Ryan on my back! I know it's getting close to winter there, so I've got a lot of packing to do with warm clothes.

Still, I'm excited!

One last piece of information. The disposable camera I had from Leidy Lake was damaged at Walgreen's. So, I have no pictures from that lovely day at the first of the summer. At least I wrote it down! A verbal image is almost as good, right?

I'd love to hear from you! Comments and suggestions on anything you'd like to see on the etsy store, or things I should create on my trip, paintings, etc. This is my 89th post, so I'm thrilled! That's pretty good, right?

Happy Thursday!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Things don't go my way

Things can get difficult sometimes, huh? What is the best way to fuel this issue we have as humans? Our mouths. I am quite concerned about what I say or don't say most of the time. I'm very happy when I don't have to speak. And, I'm often overly conscious about what I should or shouldn't say. Why are our mouths in so much control instead of our brains. Why do we fly off? Why must we constantly keep our mouths in check?

Probably because what we say can be so hurtful and so foul. It's a devils workshop if you ask me. I am pretty sensitive. I work hard at using encouraging words and I also have a "sponge" for a daughter. She hears everything. And, we have to always be conscientious about that.

Ultimately, I don't always effectively control my mouth or my words, and sometimes, I hurt others. It's a flaw, but know that I am constantly trying to correct this muscle of mine that seems to be out of control periodically.

A harsh word stirs up anger... Anybody ever heard of that? Man. It's a killer.

The zoo was nice today though, and Ryan and I saw the new Sea Lion Sound! It's incredible. The tunnel walk goes under water allow you to see the sea lions swimming above! The tunnel is so cool! I loved it probably more than Ryan did.


I've had my creative juices flowing a bit lately, and I'm looking for 2 long term projects to do that require few tools. I made that painting last week, but I'm in the need for a muse for my next painting project. I'm a watercolor fanatic. I'd like to try some flowers or animals again. Any suggestions?

Also, I'm interested in Finger weaving/Finger crocheting. I'd love to make a huge blanket out of extra large yarn. Does anyone have suggestions on where to start? I'm going to youtube it later.

I would also like a pair of leg warmers, extra long/thigh high so to scrunch down for camping. I'm not don't knit or crochet, so I'm always looking for assistance.

My palate is bored right now with food. And, that is so terribly unusual for me. I'm under a spell... I guess from that stomach bug- things just aren't back to normal.


We went to Art Outside last night and heard some amazing bluegrass homegrown right here near St. Louis in Belleville, Il.  Check out the song, Where I stand by Old Salt Union. Youtube it, right now, You'll love it!

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be surrounded by family that loves you. It's refreshing. It's special.

My family is small, but they are dear to me, and last week we saw both of my parents, Adam's siblings and parents, and my sister, and distant Sterling relatives. It always amazes me that family can be so welcoming and we can find shelter in them.

Our visit with our loved ones are always cherished, and we sure squeezed them all in! It was fun too.

What wasn't fun was puking all the way home. Ryan and I got a stomach bug, and we both hurled a couple of times on the drive home. I'm finally feeling better, but there's nothing like a quick gastritis to knock you down. My stomach still isn't quite right, but I'm coming around slowly.

As to other news, I'm healthy. I did go to the doctor for my annual checkup, and all of my womanly tests came back negative which is fantastic. That is an answer to my prayers.

Today's post is short and sweet! We have lots of work here in St. Louis, and I am prepping for my etsy shop to open within 2 weeks. I have some cool stuff to sell! When it's up an running, I'll let you know!! For those who love beautiful vintage things, my shop is for you!  I'll share the name with you soon!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Swimming and Labor Day!

One big thing has been missing from my life this summer. Swimming! Sadly, I wasn't able to do so- then the weather wasn't really cooperative in that it was chilly. In South Dakota, it wasn't summer at all yet. The same for Yellowstone and North Dakota. In Texas I got to swim once.
Last Summer we had a pool membership, and we were there daily! I love the pool most of the time, and it's a nice way to cool off.

I'm being reminded of this fact today. It's warm outside. We've already been on our errands and to the park, so that we wouldn't have to melt our faces later today. The other thing is that since we're going to be in Tennessee and Arkansas for the next few days, I'm thrilled I'll be able to swim! Hallelujah!

We're going to Tennessee for a quick hello to my sister (who I can't wait to see), my mom, and my dad. It's only been since June, but I'm so happy that I get to see them again. We may not be able to do this again until Christmas or Thanksgiving, so I'm going to soak it up.

Then, the big weekend in Searcy, Arkansas with my husband's side of the family will include more fun,water (swimming), and boats. I'm really excited. I don't waterski- (What?) sadly, so I'll be soaking up the sun and hanging out.

I hope that Ryan has a blast with everyone. I'm even probably going to attend my high school's football game this friday. Holy cow. 10 years since I've been there. I can't wait to see my sister play her drums. I've never seen her! She's in the tenth grade, and she's darling. I'm so stoked to hang out for a hot minute with her!

Happy Labor Day all!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hot Weather, Hard Work

Well, Summer's here, huh? We had such a mild summer, and it was needed. I can handle this... or so I thought.

We're planning the next couple of moves, and we've been home and plan on staying home until the end of September. With the exception of visiting some family in the South for Labor Day.

It's been a good couple of weeks at home, which I spoke about in my last post. The last week, though, I have been working under the direction of my husband at a real professional job. I'm the painter. Let me tell you- I'm putting a lot of effort in to it, but I'm not a professional. I do my best work, yet I'm so slow.  I worked outside, Wednesday,  Thursday, Friday, and yesterday. I've been painting french doors. They are my favorite type of door, but not to paint! So, again, My husband and I were working on a project together, and I was there for work support (well, some), and moral support, too. I'm obviously not a paid employee, but I keep painting and helping while taking breaks. The heat just saps my energy. That, and I'm climbing up and down a ladder all day... drinking water during breaks. I've been reminded that I'm not exactly a laborer by trade. I'm active, but every morning last week, I woke up sore. The kind of soreness that fades once you get moving, but definitely sore. It's crazy how the body will adapt and get ready for it. Also, I have to psych myself into it too. I get up and get ready, so I don't lolligag around and talk myself out of it.

Ultimately, it's just another reminder of how thankful I am for a husband who has just an outstanding work ethic. He's not afraid of hard work or a hot day- or a crap ton of work. He just does it. Wow. I'm impressed. It reminded me that I should really be more appreciative of him and his gifts. Adam is a provider- and of course, his gifts come from God. There's just no other way to explain it. And, I'm thankful for it!

A few other fun things have been happening too. Ryan successfully made it through Church on Sunday, and she had fun. We'd been battling that after we returned home, she was a bit uncomfortable and she cried so much they had to call us on the monitor during the sermon.  Another thing that we've been challenged by is bedtime... Ryan's bedtime, that is. Ryan has been having a breakdown before bed, and she screams and cries. It hasn't been pleasant since we got home. We tried leaving a light on. We tried doing the same thing as we did before we left.  She's feeling separation anxiety. It can get pretty ugly though. And, it has upset me.  Adam and I got on the same page, and we made a plan. Ryan is more likely to go to bed with Adam. With me, she just wants to cuddle. And, I have a lot of trouble with that at her bedtime. I get impatient. We turned the light off, now, and Adam puts her to sleep. And, it's working!! After all, we just keep persevering.

Since I haven't written much in a while, here's a list of a few other happenings in the last few weeks:

1. I hammer-drilled out the old morter in the exposed brick of our bathroom- single-handedly.
2. We had a cookout on Sunday- and I made quite the spread. Southern Hospitality at it's finest.
3. I made another peach pie and banana bread.
4. We've watched Monster's Inc. ALOT since it's Ryan's favorite movie now.
5. I started Beth Moore's A Woman's Heart Bible Study, and I'm being seriously enlightened by God.
6. I'm trying to plan out some final hikes for when we're in Wyoming in Sept or October.
7. I've made more of an effort to walk/bike instead of drive to the closest places of interest, like the library, Kmart, closest restaurants.
8. Ryan and I have been talking about "stories" (she'll make up her own), and her language continues to amaze me.
9. Life is so precious. I'm so thankful for my life.

And Lastly, My husband cut his hair!!!! After 5 years of dreadlocks... and, man, I love it! I got to cut it and wash it, and brush it out. It is so different! It's the shortest I've ever seen it, but I managed to keep it pretty long! I like looking at him lately!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Saint Louis is Home

There's nothing like being at your own home, sleeping on your own bed, and enjoying all that is yours. Our house isn't extravagant, but it's ours, and we've put our mark on it.

We didn't have much of a plan on what to do when we returned home, but I definitely wanted to make some headway on a project that started the day after we closed on the house. Our downstairs first floor bathroom. It's been unusable since then. We had demolition to do, and we needed to work on our idea of what it would look like.

For 2 full days, we demo-ed the plaster and lathe walls. We were sweating profusely, debris falling from all around covering us with a layer of grime. We finally reached the framing and the brick wall. We exposed the guts of our house. We saw the reminats of a fire. We saw a man's work. These walls are old. Our house was built in 1927, and I'll never know all the stories.

There are little hand and feet prints in the concrete of our garage floor. There are wheat pennies falling from the walls. We are changing an old girl of a home. She's getting a make-over!

Once the demo was completed, we framed up what once was a pantry to our kitchen to add space for the bathroom. We swept and mopped the floors everyday after our work was completed because of the dust and stuff flying everywhere.

We finally reached a point where we had small projects that were tedious but necessary. We installed a fan with a light fixture. We ran the duct work. I cleaned and sanded our claw foot tub. We cleaned the exposed brick wall with muratic acid. We put up drywall on the ceiling and walls. We started the walls with the first full coat of mud. We prepared the floor and leveled it for tile. We painted the claw foot tub. Black. We discussed the wall sconces. We moved the toilet, and changed the layout of the bathroom. We did new plumbing work. For a good week, we worked diligently on the bathroom. 

We are seeing change. And this is the kind that is rewarding. The kind that has a remarkable feeling because we did it. The kind that when people walk in to one's home, they ask "did you pay someone to do this?" And the answer is no. It's the way we want it, and even though it can feel tedious, it will be completed correctly. 

And, we are blessed to be able to invest in this whole-heartedly. It's a home, and it's for my family. It makes me feel thankful that I'm healthy and able to do work with my hands. I may not always remember that manual labor is the way of life for many people, including my husband, but it makes me appreciative and grateful for those artists who are able to do so. Jesus was a carpenter. And, although it's hard work, it's humbling to do it one's self. 

So, amongst all the other "must-do's" in a day- like make food, take care over our daughter, sleep, run errands that are required for the other must-dos, we were busy. I watched a little girl for 4 days one week, and work went slowly. But, we were able to help those who helped us during a time of need. And, I was able to bake homemade wheat baguette, prepare lovely meals for those we love, and catch up with some friends. 

The weather for us in St. Louis has again been incredible. We have had our windows open, wind blowing through our linen curtains, and we've played outside. Picking peaches at dusk in Illinois with our daughter was just one way we made the summer memorable while at home.

Adam and I also had a date which is so necessary if you have children!! I decided that I wanted it to be fun, and not so dressy. So, we played tennis at the court near our house- we rode our bicycles there and played. Then we rode to Maplewood on the bikes, and had a light dinner at Boogaloo on the strip. We rode back to Schlafly in the night air, and continued on our way to Failoni's Bar. A St. Louis classic Italian bar. It was such an amazing evening- we were just concerned about having fun and being together. It wasn't about getting dressed up- it was about being ourselves and talking. I hope I never forget that night. 

Ultimately, I'm glad to be home. I always worry about the fact that I'm not working, but I pray that my hands to good work. And, they do. I made meals for friends that I delivered. I made 2 homemade peach pies as thank you's for people who bless us. I gave a working mom of 2 a meal to go, and I felt great about it. And, I don't expect anything in return. I even feel guilty mentioning it here because I'm not bragging. It's a good thing to do those small things for those-- and it is rewarding for me. I'm glad to do it. 

I'm glad to be home. We're working hard. And, there's always something to be completed. A task at hand. I hope that you enjoyed reading this today. And, thanks to all of you who follow and read! 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Work It Out

Bummer! I haven't been able to hike like I was at the start of this adventure. I forgot the carrier at home, and this is more of a biking community. I can see why since they have 400 miles of bicycle trails around the Metro Des Moines Area. Pretty sweet, but not when you don't have a bike.

However, there's a gym at most every hotel where I can keep fitness a priority. I do have a weakness for ellipticals, but they don't do any different motions (obviously), and it doesn't really change the workout. But, I have a new favorite workout. Youtube! Oh man, my sister in laws introduced me to Tracy Anderson, and I'm impressed. She's amazing. I love her arm workouts, and I already see improvement.

On my post "A short story of weight," I confessed I have jiggly arms. Well, let me tell you, that is quickly, and I mean quickly, changing. There's no requirement for equipment other than your computer or your phone, and her workouts are usually filmed in 8-10 minute segments. The segments are perfect for a mom with a needy child...You can choose one to do and then it's over.

Her rhythm is different, and she's got some interesting moves. I've done her leg segments, and they aren't easy. I'm going to keep doing them for a while, and see what happens.

I would also like to do a 5k again soon, so I'm going to look and see if I can find one to do in the next week and a half.  I'm down to 9 minute miles- which is getting pretty good. I'm worn out, but I can slow it down for 3 miles I think.

I do wish I was hiking in the mountains some days, but this has its own fun. I can hike in Missouri pretty much any weekend, so I'm embracing the change-up for the moment.

I just wanted to give those of you who want something different in your workout something fun to try. And, my arms are changing every day! I love it!

Extended Weekend

Oh My Gosh! I love Italian... culture, food, traditions. I've been to a few Italian festivals, and I love that Americans celebrate with festivals. I'm not so sure what Italians who still live in Italy think, but the festivals are entertaining events.  We had some local brews and enjoyed some music on the lawn right near the Western Gateway Park. Our meal included Toasted Ravoli and a Grinder (pork) Sandwich and Tiramisu.

The music included some big band style songs and oldies like the "Girl from Ipanema." We attempted to swing dance with Ryan, and other people loved watching us. It was a valiant attempt, but it was really just for fun. I took a swing dance lesson a LONG time ago, and I remember a few moves. It was so fun to just play outside in glorious 70 degree weather. The live music was fun to watch, and the bocce ball was just as fascinating.

We had our dessert in the Sculpture park. I wanted to see it lit up. We had Tiramisu, which I happen to like a great deal, while Ryan walked an showed her Daddy the art. We made it to the "Nomade" which it just incredible to see anytime, and people watched. That piece of art is pretty famous, and even teenages made their way to see it and have a photo op. I met a bachelorette, and Ryan and I took a picture with her. I love seeing that.  (P.S. The people in Des Moines are unusually friendly.)

On Sunday, Adam had to work, and we decided to plan a fancy dinner for our hardworking man. Ryan and I made a day of it. I decided that I missed Smoked Salmon, and I got some inspiration from Epicurious. I made my own little recipe which requires little cooking- obviously because I only use the electric skillet.  It turned out simply divine.   Here's the recipe:

Mini Polenta Cakes with Smoked Salmon, Honey Mustard, Sour Cream and Dill:


1 pre-made package of Organic Polenta (I used Melissa's Brand)
1-2 packages of wild Smoked Salmon- not the pinky lox flat kind. Real filets of Smoked Salmon Peppered preferred
1/4 red onion, sliced paper thin
1 container of sweet hot honey mustard/ or plain honey mustard
1 container of sour cream
1 organic baby dill package
good Olive oil
Organic Butter

The key to good fried polenta cakes is enough oil. I used enough to have about a quarter inch at the bottom of the skillet, and I added a hefty tablespoon of butter for flavor.
Cut the Polenta into 1/4 inch patties.
Heat the oil/butter to high. Add polenta patties.
Cook until crispy, far golden brown.

If you prefer cold salmon, there's no need to warm it. Otherwise, I microwaved it for 15-20 seconds max- just to take the chill off.

Once your polenta is cooked, while it is still warm salt it moderately. If you have the peppercorn salmon, there's no need to pepper it too.
Time to assemble:  Top the polenta cake with a slather of honey mustard, slivers of red onion, a piece of smoked salmon, a dollop of sour cream and garnish with a heaping pinch of fresh dill.

It's beautiful! Voila! Enjoy.

L'hotel delivered Sunday night! We shared with some of the guys Adam works with and I got a 10, and a 9.5. That's pretty darn good, if you ask me.  We sided this small plate with a tomato, cucumber, and avocado salad. (just add a teaspoon of olive oil and salt & pepper- and you have your salad.)

Monday, was a rest and housekeeping day. I washed clothes, and we made a trip to the thrift store. I've been trying desperately to find a bicycle to rent with a burley/chariot or a child's seat. Well, that's one thing that Des Moines is lacking. I went to the Disabled Veteran's Thrift Shop, and they had some bikes, but they were lacking. Childs seats too for 10 bucks. I almost got the seat, but I couldn't bring myself to spend a pretty penny on a not so good bike. So, we found a tricycle!!
It's a kiddio brand, made in Germany, traditional trike in primary colors. Ryan loves it! It was going to be her first real biking adventure, so we went to Copper Creek and I walked while she rode her new trike.

We had a great weekend, and we're going back home to St. Louis soon. It's not completely set up for date of departure, but we're close. It'll be nice to see the ol' homestead, and we'll probably work on our house. It'll be a good August.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

High Five, Des Moines

Wow, what a Farmer's Market! This thing is huge, and they have everything organic... beef, chicken, jerky, veggies, honey, take n eat food... It's sweet! Even the flowers were amazing. The flowers were 50 cents a bloom, and they looked picked right out of the garden- native, indigenious flowers... none of those flowers that are forced.

Ryan and I got there right at the stroke of 10am, and it was booming. The radio had a van playing music, and on every other corner there was a musical venue. I have never seen anything like it. And, I thought Soulard was like the best... well, I must say, it's different. It has it's own flair. But, genuine farmer's bringing their stuff every Saturday from all over the state. THIS is a farmer's market.

It's on Court Avenue where we were for the Ragbrai, starting at the bridge and headed all the way west to the court house. To give you an idea, it's 2 football fields at least with each side street swarming too. We had a blast. Steel Drums, Country Music, Jazz, Oldies, and lots of family friendly draw. One of the bands had musical instruments for the kids to play along. Others had hula hoops to hoop. We had organic lemonade from a wheatgrass stand, and we saw some hand dyed tablecloths next door. Ryan made friends with lots of dogs around the way, and I enjoyed people watching.

Organic Root Beer sold by the growler, I think so! Free Cantaloupe for haggling over 4 bucks per cantaloupe. I think so too! One dollar for 2 peaches so sweet we had to enjoy them there, yeah, buddy! And, homegrown cucumber for 75 cents... of course!

I would have bought more, but the cantaloupe took up most of the room in my bag, so we moved on. Besides I somewhat felt like I was cheating on my home Market. Soulard is where we buy essential oils, some of the best chestnuts, organic herbs, and other sundries. The only thing that they don't have which now after seeing I wish they did- organic meat.... It looked good!

Ryan and I went without Daddy, but we're going to the Italian Festival tonight. Yum! I'm going to have to find myself some Tiramisu for sure. Or Affogado. Bike Ride in Grey's Park as a family prior... I have to say, Des Moines has it going on! Active, informed, outside-lovers... I saw a shirt today that claimed it the Greatest City in the World.... I'll be contemplating on that.

High Five, Des Moines!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Something that hasn't stopped

Yeah, I'm still  cooking in a hotel room. Did you all forget? Well, I haven't. I've been planning meals for a while now. And, that also should include camping meals too... that's without regular cooking accoutrements.

But, we have less that what we had in SD, WY, and ND. We only have an electric skillet and microwave. I used the crockpot a lot before, but this trip after we had a week in St. Louis at the beginning of July. I left it at home. That's okay. I will use it when I get home. And, I'll probably take it again when we know our next schedule.

So, Here's a quick list of some of the meals I've made in the hotel. I made those oreo truffles, yes.  I also made:
Celery and Garbanzo Bean salad (with currants and pecans)
Stir fry with brocolli, water chestnuts, scallions, and carrots.
Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin
Roasted Carrot, Zucchini, and Squash Pasta with Garbanzo Beans
Gnocchi with peas, baby bella mushrooms, and shrimp
Italian Chicken with Rattlesnake pasta (Tricolor peppers and a homemade alfredo sauce)
Chicken Salad with Grapes, Cucumber, and Pecans
Tonight, we're having Tacos.
Tomorrow, we're having StirFry with Pork. I might even make them lettuce wraps.

Here's what we did camping:
(this is not my forte)

Oatmeal for breakfast with all kinds of toppings (currants, raisins, pecans.)
Pita with feta, honey, grapes and nuts (breakfast)
Apple, Carmelized onions, and Sharp Cheddar Cheese Quesadillas
Kebabs with veggies and beef (these are the ones that were chewy.)
Pork Tenderloin on the BBQ
Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary Foil Pack
Salads with any fresh veggies we had
Cowboy Grillers from MN (which were chicken breasts wrapped with bacon, filled with Ham n Cheese)

So, I still make most of the meals. We pack out lunches most days. For the Ragbrai Concert event, I made a picnic dinner with the chicken salad I mentioned. I bought a wheel of Farmer's cheese, crackers, and some cut veggies and fresh fruit. It was delicious sitting out on the grass.

I feel somewhat accomplished when I think about what I've prepared in a electric skillet. That's pretty sweet! At least we're eating healthy, whole foods...


I have a large appreciation for art. I love impressionism. I also love modern art. I like not understanding what I'm seeing and getting a feeling from what I'm seeing. It started at a young age. I can remember being in the Dixon Gallery with my Dad fixated on the tiniest paintings that were so detailed. I was probably 5 years old.

As I have grown up, I've visited many museums. And, I like seeing studies of other larger pieces of works. I get to cross reference and try to remember where it is that I saw "the big one." So, today I went to the Des Moines Art Center. It's main focus is modern art. The center had one particular exhibit that I wanted to see, E'Stamped Originial. These are the old standard lithograph/printings of artists mainly from France. Manet, Degas, Delacroix aka Cross, Pisarro, Matisse, as well as some others. The prints were in poster format and they were just incredible. I  particularly enjoy reading the excerpts, but Ryan doesn't really enjoy that so much.

I also saw a Picasso today, and it was a lamp. They had one painting from his black and white exhibit which I saw at the Guggenheim last fall.  The lamp was intriguing because it was a woman's face, bulbous around the girth of the base. It was comical. I laughed when I saw it.   On our honeymoon, we stayed a block from where Picasso's apartment was, and we didn't go see it. I wasn't a huge fan of Picasso- still get a dark feeling from most of his work... but it's growing on me. He had very different periods; some with color and some without. Ultimately, I just don't know how to feel from what I see.  However, he's so widely known. He made so many paintings that it's rare for someone to not recognize his work. That is impressive.

On our honeymoon we stayed in downtown Paris near the Centre de Pompidou. It's also an modern art museum. There is graffiti outside the building, and the center itself is crazy colors with an industrial feel.

I find myself gravitating to see those things where ever I am. And, I seek out free ones. Today was no different. Minneapolis has a sculpture garden and we visited- the Cherry and Spoonbridge. Des Moines has the Western Gateway Park. I posted a picture from there yesterday on facebook.  St. Louis has Laumeier Park and CityGarden. In the winter at Christmas time, CityGarden is one of my must go places.

I was fortunate to have parents that influenced this love of art. It's fun to look at and to contemplate. Why does that look that way. Why is that art? St. Louis Art Museum has a particular piece that is a color wall. It's single, huge canvases painted one color lined against the wall in the ROYGBIV fashion. It's not the art that's impressive- it's what happens to you when you watch it start to move. Oh, wait, you are moving... you are the one walking by it.

I do hope to instill a similar love of art in the other members of my family too. Adam loved the Louvre. We have been to many exhibits at the SLAM (St. Louis Art Museum), and he's been fascinated by most of the ones we've made a priority to see. The japanese screens (ancient art) visited a couple of years ago, and that made a lasting impression. I can usually get him to come along with me.

So, If I make it seem fun... Can I get Ryan to think it's cool too? I'd love to own some famous art work, but for now, I'll just appreciate it when it's available to me. Go to an art museum... see if you like it. I surely do!

Here's an artist I saw today-- She's pretty fantastic.... Phyllida Barlow. She uses fabrics, steel, paint, rocks... Check her out on wikipedia.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On the Hunt

I stayed up too late last night. We slept in until 9 am, and we didn't find our Farmer's Market this morning. But, instead we did find another sculpture park. I'm fascinated by sculpture. It's so mind boggling how people think up these 3 dimensional structures and actually make them.

We saw the letter person sculpture today. I don't know it's official name yet. We also saw these two horses made from drift wood, and they look so real. They have definition... almost like skeletal structures. I was intrigued. The weather has been perfect here- 81 degrees today with beautiful blue skies.

Speaking of the weather here, we went to an awesome event that I had never heard of until we arrived here. Ragbrai. What ever it means, I have no clue! But, it's a bunch of spandex wearing bicyclists cycling across Iowa.... for days.  Partying every night and riding everyday. And, last night in Des Moines on a bridge, no less, they listened to some seriously 90s bands. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was just an incredible reason to hangout outdoors, listening to some music, and watch some crazy bicyclist walk around drinking in their spandex.  Des Moines looks good in spandex... ha.

Either way, our daughter is a music lover, and we all danced. Can you think of some popular Live and Everclear songs? They are great lyrical songs. I miss that. Kinda sad, alternative, dark, rock n roll. Took me wayy back to 8th grade. Bands like Soundgarden, the Cranberries, Train, yeah... they all were awesome back in the day.  (And still are!) Oh well... I guess I'm getting older.  (not old, that is.)

Also, on a even more outstanding note... Did you see that Full Moon last night? The Full Moon rose right over the stage, and it was so big a bright. It brought a whole new level to being outside with perfect weather. Ryan has a new saying too, and she came up with it all on her own.

"I'm going to take my horse, go up to the moon, put in my pocket, take it home, and show it to my Daddy and Mommy." She's in this stage where she likes making up stories, and this story is my favorite.

I have to say- Des Moines is pretty sweet in the middle of the summer, especially if the weather is moderate like it has been. And free live music that I know... Bonus!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Selection of Photos

Well, I've tried several times to upload photos and video, so I think I am probably going to upload to Facebook. Blogger isn't my friend when it comes to photos, even though  I'd really like to include them here.

I'll do some descriptive photos... memory photos.

Ryan finally goes to bed early while we're camping. Mommy and Daddy get some alone time. We're in the thick of the woods. The campfire is lit and the woods smell of evergreen and pine.  It's not hot or cold. We're talking and sitting on a big boulder. It's summer, and it's just around the time 6 years ago that we would have been doing exactly the same thing. Chatting, telling stories, and getting to know each other under the bright moon. Now, we're in Minnesota when previously we were in Wyoming. But, it took me back to the place where it all started. The summer that it all began. We were two amongst a beautiful backdrop of landscape. And, we explored it.

We still love to do the same things, and we still don't know everything about each other. We never will. But, I love to ask Adam to tell me stories, even though I hear some of them more than once. I hear new ones too, but I sure do love when we talk- and it's not about bills or responsibility. It's true we have a lot of that now, but I try to forget about that often.

Minnesota camping was a really good reminder of that. That being in the moment with the one I love is just incredible. It makes me thankful again for this adventure.


Swimming is something that I love to do. and, refraining from it was a real challenge. Especially the chance to indulge in swimming under a waterfall. It was a little like torture. And, in the middle of summer, the idea of jumping into a cool pool of water is like a slice of heaven.

But, I watched the water fall and remembered that there's always next time.  The sound of the water falling is unlike any other. Gooseberry Falls is loud, and they are walkable/accessible. Unlike Niagara Falls, which you can only watch, these falls you can climb around, through, over, and swim in. It's able to be experienced and enjoyed. I've been to Moose Falls in Yellowstone, and they are pretty similar to Gooseberry, however, it's one spot  and you can only swim... I never jumped off the rock- seemed too scary.

I happen to have a fascination with waterfalls. I have seen quite a few, and I think my top choice is the Bridal Falls in Chile, or the waterfall off the wettest part of the island in Kauai.  They tie. This summer in particular, I've seen many. Artist Point in Yellowstone is breathtaking at dusk. And, there are tons of others in Yellowstone too. But, the accessibility of Gooseberry is unmatched.... We were right there!


I love the city and I love the outdoors. The art, music, food, and culture in cities attracts me. I love St. Louis and the free activities that I have written about before. A different city always opens my eyes something fresh and new.  Minneapolis is so different from St. Louis. The downtown is so different. It's  not like Washington Ave... its 10 times better.
Before we left St. Louis the last time, we spent quite a bit of time downtown St. Louis. For the fourth of July, we went to Fair St. Louis under the arch. Then we have a friend that lives in a loft downtown and we went swimming on the rooftop of a building on Washington. We overlooked the City Museum.  And, it is a taste for what a big city is really like.
I like St. Louis because it's bigger than Memphis. Yet, it still has a small town feel. It's not a metropolis- Minneapolis/St. Paul.  It's funny that I notice this: When we were in Buffalo, The Boston Bombings happened, and I watched a city that I was not apart of watch it happen. And, in Minneapolis, we watched people peacefully protest the Trayvon Martin verdict. Our country is so beautiful that we can speak individually, and mourn together. I just wish that we could get along. We're so opinionated that we can't agree to disagree... it's our nature.
I include this because I observed a protest in Minneapolis. I don't think I've ever been that close to a march-  I saw a union march in Chicago, but this was different- It was seeing something that was happening all over our country. It was moving.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Two Posts in the Making

My husband had a birthday while we were on the road, and I wanted to make it special since we were away from family. He always gets plenty of phone calls and still feels loved, but birthdays are a big thing for our family.

So, we were leaving Worthington to go camping, so I made a decision to celebrate it a bit early- that, and I really don't know what date it is ever anymore. (I love that.) I knew I couldn't make a cake. I knew I already bought his gift... but birthdays just aren't the same without a cake. I decided that I would turn to pinterest. And, it was a good decision.

We made it a family event, and I bought all the ingredients to make those oreo truffle balls. I even bought sprinkles for it. And, Ryan, Adam and I made chocolate oreo truffles. I tempered the chocolate in the  microwave. We made the smashed oreos in a ziplock bag, and mixed the cream cheese with it in one of those ice bags. Great idea! Adam loved rolling the balls, and I had a really hard time covering the balls with the melted chocolate. But, it still worked, and they were a perfect birthday treat!

Ryan and I used dry erase markers to write birthday notes on the mirrors, and we sang Happy Birthday. And, his gift!! Those devil sticks that Cirque du Soliel have.... yeah, Adam can do that. He has an old set, so we upgraded him to the better, bigger set. And, he loves to use them while camping. He was thrilled.

So, we made a birthday out of town special. It was a fabulous day, and my sweet husband turned a year older. Although, he looks young already. For us, age is just a number.

Do you have ideas on what to do for birthdays? especially when you can't do the normal things? I think we made it special.

What do you think about those oreo balls? Any suggestions on how to make them better? I used regular oreos, cream cheese, and semisweet chocolate.  Any better ingredients? Any better mixes?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Let's go on vacation! And Some!

Oh wait, Weren't we already on vacation? Adam picked up a job in Worthington, Minnesota. We drove there in one evening- just a quick 10 hours. It's a little town closer to Iowa than anything interesting in Minnesota. But, I liked it there. It is a little resort town on Lake Okabena. It's known for the windsurfing Regatta in June. Pretty cool, huh? Pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

From there, we went 40 minutes away to Spirit Lake and Lake Okoboji. We camped here for two glorious nights, and we were right on the lake at Marble Beach State Recreation Area. We set up fort. We cooked and played. We went to town to the park and we went hiking. We hiked at Gull Point State Park on the Interpretive Trail. Ryan loved it. And we passed a small chapel- ideal for a wedding in the woods.

Most people here spent time on the water, but renting a boat for 1 hour didn't seem logical, and 3 hours was over 300 dollars. I couldn't swim- obviously because of my previous post. So, we just played in the sun, and made the most of our time until we knew our next move. On Monday, we got word that we wouldn't be needed in Des Moines, Iowa until the following Monday, July 22. Therefore, we'd go North. There wasn't really any other choice. We could go home, but then, we'd just have to leave again. So, We made Adam, my sweet, hard-working husband, take a real vacation. And, we did!

We grabbed a hotel room on Expedia. And, we had our arrangements for Minneapolis... a metropolis! It was so great- a beautiful, clean, excellent city that is walkable if your right downtown. And, we were. Radisson on 7th Ave. We walked to the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. How Cool is that? Huge sculptures in an urban setting with a garden like feel. I was totally impressed. We saw the Spoonbridge and cherry sculpture- while sitting in white adirondack chair, under a canopy of trees full of hanging chimes. It was a garden of senses...smelling flowers, hearing water fall, listening to the wind move the chimes. We soaked it up. From there, we walked to Rock Bottom Brewery and ate a lovely meal. It was a nice break from camping in Iowa.
And, we had a true minnesotan visit to Hell's Kitchen. They had Walleye Hash. And Mascoutah Porriedge-- with wild rice. I want some right now just talking about it. dried blueberries, butter, heavy cream and wild rice... soo good.  I'm going to order some wild rice when we get home since I missed our real chance to buy some while we were up north.

We made our choice to head to Lake Superior and the North Shore. That part of our country is so different. It's like nothing I've ever seen. So, there's tons of places to camp along the shore, but we got to the parks so late that they were already full. We stocked up on food at Two Harbors, and then tried two parks on Lake Superior. No luck. We got off of the shoreline, and we west a bit to Sullivan Lake. Mosquitos galore, buddy! Holy Cow! It was still cool though. The water is like almost red that it's so brown. We later learned that the color of the water is from bogs. (Bog water, I would assume, is the water that is so nutrient rich that after it makes its way from marshes and watershed areas it remains this color. It was so unique.)We spent one night here, and went to Gooseberry Falls State Park. It was an ideal spot. The location had plenty of entertainment... Gooseberry River that dumps into Lake Superior, Gooseberry Falls- an incredible waterfall accessible to climb around on and swim in and all. And, hiking too. We went to the Lake and the water was so crystal clear aqua. The access to the water was full of rocks down to the water, and the shelf  drops off where someone could jump off the cliff to the water. Well, my husband did-- into 40 degree water. He loved it, but he had about 30 seconds to get in and out. He loved it. We spent a good two days here. But, we decided not to camp there a second night. Instead, we went to Indian Lake in the Pequwyan Lake Area.  And, it only got better. The lake had a sand beach, a lovely campground, and a swim area. We spent the afternoon in the sun swimming. Well, my two favorite people did anyway. I walked up and down the beach-- I ran on the beach too.

In the aforesaid paragraph, I gave the basic narrative-- the good parts. Here's the not so good parts.... We had rain- twice. During one, I even got a bit scared. And, unusally for me, I was uneasy by the thunder.  The other rain was moderate, but we had to go to bed early at 8:30 because we had to stay in the tent.
We made skewers of meat at the camp in Iowa, but I bought the wrong kind of meat. It tasted okay, but it was so chewy. It just wasn't a good mouth feel.
We gotten eaten alive by mosquitos... everywhere except Gooseberry Falls.
Ryan faceplanted on the hike to Gooseberry Falls. Busted Lip and all. It was pretty bloody. And, the really sad thing is that she was waving to another little girl who was hiking as well. Bummer.
Adam didn't catch any fish. Double bummer.

We made it back again to Minneapolis, and we checked in early to the Hilton Hotel. It overlooked the city, and our view was of another building that had dune buggy races on the top of it. Cool, huh? I'd probably be scared to death to do that! Wow.
We walked alot that evening, and we ate at Brit's Pub. I had a fantastic burger with tomato bacon jam. Have you ever heard of that concoction? I love it! We walked around the town and when we got back to the room on the 15th floor, the building diagonally from us had that huge LED top with firework images exploding. Ryan was mesmerized. Being at that height in a big city makes the world seem so different. We enjoyed our stay and we felt celebrity status.

Mall of America. Wow. It's somewhat sickening. Disheartening. And, if there is a stark difference between two places- it's camping at Indian Lake where there's so few people compared to the Mall of America where there's so many people looking for materials that have no real value. Stuffed Animals... toys, Legos, etc. What can I say? I bought a shirt! On sale for 10 bucks. And, it's this season! How hip am I?  I bet you thought I was going to say that I had no part of it, right? Well, I had to. Ryan met Dora the Explorer-- She loved the Lego store, and we ate some pretty amazing lunch. I have to say, it's fun to indulge.

So, we're in Des Moines. There's lots of activites this week, and I'm so thrilled. We're going to go hiking too! Bonus! It's not mountains or anything, but it's somewhere new and exciting. Des Moines has a beautiful skyline, and we luckily found a room for pretty cheap. Uh. Oh. And, It was terrible. I am going to be penning and letter to Motel 6. I won't tell you much about it, but never ever stay at the Motel 6 Airport. It's in shambles.
There! the final bad part of the trip! Oh well... we survived... but, we'd just been in luxury.  It reminded me that there's nothing more important than family, and it was okay because we were together. And, it was. We made the most of it---

I'm so glad we went North. Hopefully I'll have pictures and video tomorrow!

One last thing, thank you for the love and prayers you all sent me after my last post. We're recovering, and I learned so much from others. Women are incredibly strong, emotionally, physically, and mentally.  To the women that shared their stories with me, thank you. I can't tell you how much you helped me, and that's something I hope to do for others-- to help and be helped.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I carried you your whole life.

I started miscarrying. I'm not pregnant anymore. I was so excited. And, now it's over. There's so many lovely sweet kind people around me that I've been doing just fine. It's still a loss. And, I'm sad.
I would have been due in February. It could have been a boy or a girl. 

It's not a viable pregnancy anymore, and it's over. But, I'm changed after this. I'm sorry for the loss any woman has had. It's hard. It's sad. I'm working through it myself. 

Ultimately, I know God protects all- the born and unborn. We are safe and well. 

This is why I haven't written lately. I wanted to write about this. It's hard, though. People either talk about it or they don't. I have to. It's part of our life. We were sad-- and we were able to talk about it. 

I'm doing okay, though. Thanks for reading. More on adventure side tomorrow- We're in Minnesota now. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I look at these photos and my heart just swells! It's such a beautiful world, and I'm living in it. We're blessed to be together, and we're blessed to know the love of many friends and family. Here in this little montage of photos, I'm able to document a few sweet moments in my life. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

TN, AR, and TX

It's been quite a while since I've written and I have quite a few memos to make today. The last time I wrote was 10 days ago. And, while that isn't an incredibly long period of time- life has changed.

In Tennessee, I found out I was pregnant. Adam was in Texarkana, and I away from him with my sweet daughter and family. I knew it. I could feel it. It's an amazing change that happens when all of a sudden you feel this life in your body. It's got wonderful good parts, and hard challenging spots too. Either way, a new baby, a new life, a human is growing inside of me. I love it already. The only thing I don't love is my stomach. My stomach constantly hurts or is uncomfortable. I'm hungry but somewhat uninterested in food. It's a crazy thing. This pregnancy is going to be different from my last. And, I'm going to keep it that way. No sickness... no vomiting...just getting better everyday. Dear, God, Please relieve my pain and give my body strength to do this. Amen.

It's hard to be away from the person you love and hold on to such a big important secret. I couldn't. I figured out a cute way to fill Adam in on the phone. I had Ryan tell him that "She's going to be a big sister." It went right over his head, but I tried. So, he was elated. thrilled. so happy. Our plan was to get pregnant this year, so we met that goal in a hurry. We're having another baby!

So, we played with family and friends in Tennessee. Ryan and I went to the zoo with a sweet Christian woman that I went to high school with. She's lovely, and Ryan and her girl played well together. It was a hot summer afternoon good for picnicking and seeing animals. All of us girls laughed and played and made it a memorable afternoon. I pray that we can keep our friendship up whenever we're in each others city. I think it will be wonderful to watch our children grow together and talk about all things related to our life that is good--- we shared the fact that we love being happy and working for the betterment of our families.  I loved it.

We also spent time with my sister--- and Ryan loves her auntie! They grew close and I'm glad we had the time to spend together. It's special and I'll never forget it.

Ryan and I found a ride to Searcy to see my sister in law and her children. We spent a couple of nights there and explored that part of Arkansas. She and I were pregnant together the first go round and her baby was born first.... CKM. They are about  8 weeks apart. She and Ryan had a blast playing and laughing. We sang songs and the baby girl (ZAM) and I spent sometime giggling and watching each other.  Amongst all the family time, I wanted to fully dedicate myself to that, and I did. It's wonderful that we spent so much time with family when we have the opportunity. And, I know Ryan loved playing with someone other than me!

And, we caught a ride with my other sister-in-law to TEXARKANA! And, we got to finally reunite with my husband. And, I missed him! For a family outing we saw Monsters University in 3D, and we enjoyed it. It's a nice thing to miss and be missed!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fireflies and Sunsets

I am so surprised by my visit home! I can't remember the last time I ran into someone from my high school. Yes, I grew up in a small town and everybody know my mom. I've come home for holidays primarily to see family. Last night, my little family and a I (minus Adam) went to the music in the park for Logan-Jenkins Band. And they played some awesome songs. I have to give them credit for being awesome themselves too. Warren Haynes, OCMS, Cash, and their own songs too- it was stellar. I recorded a song that I plan on posting FB because it is a true southern boys' heart felt song. Lyrics that pull at the heart strings- it was so good! And a nice time to see old friends from school- people that are dear to my heart even though I don't see them often. Today is the Summer Solstice and it means that every day gets shorter from here on out. It also reminds me that I should look around and enjoy the view. Last night we had a spectacular sunset outside my mom's back door and fireflies abundant. They lit up the meadow filled with rolled hay bales. Their flicker is just mesmerizing and the sudns that fill the air seem beautifully orchestrated. It was a good warm night with a huge waxing moon rising to the East. I smiled and thought of my husband- we love looking at La Luna. We've been apart a week now and I miss him! He's working hard in this heat, making himself meals, and calling us when possible. I know he would have loved the live music and I would have liked to have him in my little town to see our girl dance and play the way I used to. She wanted to dance as we love dance parties, but I have to admit it wasn't the same with out my dance partner, Adam. We still did dance, but it made me miss dancing with him. And under the sweet Southern sunset would have made it even more memorable. Anyway, I love seeing people doing well, and these fellas (Logan-Jenkins Band) that played last night- they are going to do well. i'm glad I could witness them in their early stages!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Luxury Life

I call it luxury because I have tan. I get to rest and cook as I please. We are having fun just playing. My sister and I have been bonding and working on other projects that I will share later. Today my sister and I made a day of a swimming outing. She had Vacation Bible School and I made a picnic lunch to go. We had fruit, BBQ chicken and bisuits, chips and drinks. It reminded me of growing up and being at the pool with other kids who spent all day there. We didn't do that since my mom worked full time though. But,today, I got to be the cool mom with food and snacks. It may not happen often since I'll got back to work but for one day I was! We also used the invention of floaties too and my little girl is a swimmer! She's seemingly been pretty acclimated to the pool since we were members of Maplewood pool last summer. My little family and I would ride almost dailyto the pool on the bike and swim. We have a nice wave area and big slides. It was a memorable summer of 108 degree weather. And the bike ride was work- the reward was the pool. And then, we would ride home. What I love though, and miss now while write about it, is biking through downtown Maplewood. Cute little shops and restaurants, people watching, and the feel of a small town. I recommend driving through it and sampling Schafly's Brewery and Foundation Grounds for coffee. Other stores that I love included on the strip are Vom Fass, Penzey's Spices, and Cacao Chocolate. It's a lovely area. Back to my point, it is a luxury to have things available like pools and specialty shops. It's a luxury to play with my child. And I'm soaking it up. We are playing in swings, riding see-saws, sliding slides, and swimming- passing away the dog days of summer. It's such an life to be able to have this chance to live the luxury life. We are headed to the Somerville Sqaure for music in the park- and the band members are fellas I grew up with in elementary school. And since I love live music, I'm in. I'm going to enjoy this night.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


A very wise friend would say: "Your family is where you came from, your home is where you came from, but it's all about where you go." And as I grow up, it rings true.I do love my home- its southern. There's the people who'll always know your name. And those people who never forget you, no matter how long you are gone. It's always home, and this time around it is refreshing.

 I can get pretty nostalagic- the road I drove home during my high school years looks exactly the same. The back yard at my house is lush and green. The fields high with corn remind me of what summer really looks like. It even makes me want to walk down to the lagoon near the country club to go swim. A childhood friend of mine that passed spent many hours there. The trees are oak and big. The warm winds blow and never cool off. It's cliche to say that the tea is sweet, and the people are sweeter. It just never leaves me, and I carry pieces of my home with.        me where ever I go. I love it- to be southern is to be blessed. Blessed in social graces of yes ma'ams- blessed in the gift of hospitality- and blessed in the thought of living close to the Earth. Now I can't say that midwesterners or coast dwellers don't have the same feeling, but I know we do it with flair. It's just that talk- the twang and the slow speed. I just love it. It makes me miss my accent cause it's faded a bit. I hope it returns with this visit. Have you seen big rolled hay bales? Oh man. I have a weakness for them. And open air churches? And old barns?

 I'm home.

We went for a drive today- listlessly for once. We drove down Raleigh-LaGrange road. It's beautiful. Big white stately homes line the road. Farm land abundant. We drove to LaGrange which holds a special place in my heart. My granddaddy is buried at the cemetery there. It's been a long time since I'd driven through but we did today. It's so old and unique. It's also an official arboretum. Trees so big around and loving the good untouched soil. It was a nice spot to remember him- especially since I recently wrote of him and it was published in the 2013 National Field Trial Review.

So I came full circle- I see it. I've been traveling a good while now and it always means more when you have family to love. Remember your home and keep carrying on.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Walking in Memphis

It's been a long week. It's been a great one though.
We left Jamestown, ND and camped in Iowa. We camped out in 78 degree weather, watched a glorious sunset... slept under huge ancient Aspens. We flew our kite by sunset- we ate steak by candlelight. We had another lovely camping spot at Lewis and Clark State Park.  It was a clear night so we star gazed with Ryan on a blanket, and told stories about mythology. It was pretty memorable.

Then, we made it to St. Louis. We saw our house really quickly. Adam and I had a sushi date, and after a month of being away- we left again. Ryan and I are in Tennessee and we're loving it. We had fathers day with my dad, and we called sweet daddy Adam in Texarkana. It's hard to be away, but it will be a good reunion.

Ryan and I have been swimming and we've seen my side of the family. We had a cookout and I made asparagus "green machine" risotto. It was pretty good. We saw my cousins and my uncle... some dear close friends and we fellowshiped as good friends do.

It's raining today, so we've read lots of stories: Miss Rumphius which is now one of my very favorite and Three Billy Goats Gruff. And the poem Wykin, Blyinkin, and Nod.

We have had some good family time, and I'm hoping we work out our plans for the next week. It'll be good either way.

Here's a quick update... sorry there's not more exciting yet!