Posts tagged ‘family’

July 1, 2013

Ten Things to be Happy About 7/1

I need a healthy dose of gratitude today. It’s been one of those days where every nerve in my body seems to be agitated. From large life issues to the post office changing their lunch hour, everything I do today seems to challenge me.

So I think it’s time to sit back and find a little thanks. Life is beautiful and often far too short to be taken for granted.

 

1. Tomorrow is my last day of work this week! I’m very excited about this. Short weeks are the best!

2. Wednesday, Husband and I head to Alaska to celebrate a birthday, a wedding and the 4th of July! Below is a photo of beautiful Prince of Wales Island.

alaska1

3. I got pretty new rain boots for our trip! I just hope they fit! Cute, right? You need rain boots on the boat. It’s wet and miserable if all you have a tennis shoes.

rain boots

4. My freezer will soon be filled with fresh, wild salmon, halibut, shrimp and crab! The best part about having a family fishing lodge in Alaska is you pretty much have access to really good quality fish whenever you want it, all year round.

5. We have so many tomatoes on our plants! And we harvested two cucumbers and two jalapenos this weekend…oh, and one strawberry last week that went right into my mouth! These were the first tomatoes that popped up on our Early Girl. The plant is full of them now!

tomatoes

6. I get to see my mommy this week! I haven’t seen her in almost a month.

7. I have the most amazing husband ever! Just saying… )

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8. I am alive. I’m going to stop at number eight today. Because what more matters? I have this day. I may not have tomorrow, but I have today and I’m going to stop writing now, and go out and enjoy the heck out of it!

June 11, 2013

Two Months to 30

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. And without going into my entire complicated train of thought, I’m going to give you what it all boiled down to: It’s finally hit me that I’m going to be 30 in two months.

Now I’ve never been one of those people who fears birthdays. To the contrary, I LOOOOOVE my birthday. I have a policy of no driving myself anywhere and no doing dishes on my special day. It’s the only day I make ridiculous demands (like this year I NEED H&H Bagels from New York for breakfast. NEEEEEEEED, people!)…granted, my husband would disagree. Despite the fact that my wedding and subsequent events made me feel self conscious, my birthday is the only day I love being the center of attention.

And this year is the big 3-0. Which is fine with me. I’m kind of excited about it actually. And up until just the other day, it wasn’t that big of a deal.

So what happened the other day, I’m sure you wonder. Well I was on the elliptical machine at the gym and I was scanning the eight or so televisions lined up hanging from the ceiling, each broadcasting a different program, and my eyes landed on a commercial. I think it was for an iPhone, but I’m not 100% sure. It portrayed these 20-somethings in different scenarios: on a college campus, in different landmark locations around the world, hanging with friends, at the gym, blah blah blah. And I realized it: I’m not one of them anymore. I’ve passed that phase of my life.

And it sort of took me to this concept of time, and I spent a few minutes feeling sad, like my opportunity to go after my dreams had passed.

Of course, that’s not true. But I feel like I spent my 20’s stagnant when I should have been out having adventures and trying new things and being a little more carefree. And then I think about all that I went through in my 20’s, all the growth and all the change and, as Jim reminds me, all the adventures I DID have. I mean I traveled to Europe and New Zealand and Hawaii and to all 50 states. I worked for a professional sports team. I got a bachelors degree. I wrote a novel. I got engaged…and broke off a six year relationship with a man I thought was my forever only to find an even better one waiting for me a few years away. I married that better man. I started writing a blog. I started a photography business. I bought a house. I’ve done a crap-ton of things in the last decade, probably more things than a lot of people my age have done.

But among the things on that list are not: living in another country…or living somewhere else in the US. Publishing a novel. Ceasing to work for my parents. … … thinking… … thinking… … I guess that’s it. I guess those are the major things I haven’t accomplished that make me feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. Wow, I’m kind of a whiner, aren’t I?

By the way, I literally just figured that out for myself. See? Writing it down does help you figure out life’s problems.

And since we have some more time in today’s regularly scheduled program, let’s check out my list of 30 things to do before I turn 30 and see how I’m doing with a little over two months to go.

Ok, so I simply copied and pasted the exact list from the “30 things to do before my 30th birthday” page.

1. Try (or create) 30 new recipes

             End of Summer Stuffed Squash

            Carrot and Fennel Soup

            Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

            Granola Balls

            Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

2. Buy a house

So excited to finally be a homeowner! Photos to come!

3. Write a(nother) novel

I’m working on this one. It’s about half done, and I’m pretty excited about it. It may be THE one! 🙂

4. Go to a storage auction (like Storage Wars only I’ve wanted to do this since I was 7 and my friend’s parents brought home a whole crap ton of treasures from one!)

– I still want to do this. I suppose I could call the place where we had out unit from the apartment and see when they do them.

5. Read 30 books

            Where we Belong by Emily Giffin  – Not her greatest, but still entertaining.

            Girl Walks into a Bar by Rachel Dratch – I have never been a fan of SNL and maybe that’s why I didn’t get this book, but it was really not very entertaining to me. I wouldn’t recommend it.

            The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – This book was so hard to get into. The whole first section was a bit confusing, but by the time the second section began, I couldn’t put it down.

            The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – I enjoyed this one enough. It was sort of strange, but it kept my attention throughout the whole book. I wanted to know what was going to happen.

            The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – For the seventh time, I adore this book!

            The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – It was good..and it was not my favorite at the same time. 

            The House at Riverton by Kate Morton – I enjoyed this book far less than The Forgotten Garden, but it still kept me interested through the end.

            Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr – This book was amazingly enlightening. It made me rethink my entire life starting with what I put in my mouth on a daily basis.

            Marrying Daisy Bellamy by Susan Wiggs – Susan Wiggs is one of my favorite authors. Her stories are relatable, yet always end happily, which I love.

6. Sell one of my photographs

– I need to try harder here. If I don’t put them out there, no one is going to buy them, right?

7. Paint pottery

This one is just a matter of doing it. There are two pla

8. Create my own signature cocktail

– Again, just need to do it. Get in the bar and mess around with some stuff!

9. Throw a party (in our new house!)

– Technically we threw Jim and 30th birthday party and we had a housewarming party. I guess that counts, but I sure want to throw a really good party still!

10. Learn to be happy with my body

I’m trying. It’s hard, but I’m getting there. Maybe not 100% in two months, but it’s a work in progre

11. Revamp my wardrobe (get rid of crap I don’t wear, update my style a tick)

Began this by getting rid of a ton of clothes, and slowly I’m building it back up with new stuff. It’s hard to save money for things like windows and vacations AND build up a new wardrobe, so this is slow going.

12. Figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life

-The neverending challenge for me. I’m getting there, though. Again, slowly. One year was a bit of a small time frame for such a goal.

13. Learn to be happy in Roseville

-Again, getting there. I’m trying to be as involved in town activities and such as I can, and it’s helping. It’s also helped that we now own a house here instead of just renting. I may never be 100% happy, but I think I can be content here…for the time being.

14. Get rid of everything I don’t need (We finally had our yard sale! So nice to have all that stuff gone!)

15. Find my perfect lipstick (inspired by my good friend, Jenny, who feels lipstick is a necessity in life)

-Another one I just need to do. Note to self: text Jenny and go to Sephora.

16. Find the perfect little black dress

– I got A black dress. It’s not THE black dress. So I need to go for take-two on this one.

17. Pay off all debts (excluding house from item 2 and car)

-Getting there! By my birthday our wedding rings will be paid off as well as almost everything that we charged before I wrote this. Since then we’ve had to make a few large purchases (mattresses and appliances) that we’re not going to be finished paying on by late August.

18. Try one of the crafts I’ve pinned on Pinterest

-Still need to do this.

19. Take a photo that really makes me go “wow”

-I take a lot of photos of people. And a lot of them catch my breath, but the one I’m thinking of isn’t going to be of a person…see? I might just be too critical of my own accomplishments…how many times now have I written “I did this, but it wasn’t good enough to cross off the list”….oy. Gotta work on that.

20. Go hiking in Yosemite

-Probably not going to accomplish this one, but hey, I’ve got two months!

21. Purchase a nice (non-Ikea) piece of furniture 

master bedroom3

22. Read a whole book in one day

-Oh, to have time for stuff like that these days…

23. Learn the live completely in the moment (starting with practicing mindful breathing and meditation)

-I think this is going to be another work in progress item. It takes time!

24. Take a class with Jim (maybe a cooking class, maybe a photography class or a tennis class, to be determined)

-Just gotta do it…

25. Learn how to fold a fitted sheet

-Jim learned how to do this one and showed me…although I have yet to do it for myself.

26. Compile a cookbook of my most-cooked recipes

-I’ve been doing this on the blog, but not in a book format

27.  I need to come up with something new because I couldn’t donate my hair to Locks of Love

28. Get a dog This is Katie!

29. Take a yoga class My sister-in-law and I have been going to yoga for about two months now and we love it!

30. Have an amazing 30th birthday

 

So there you have it. Progress for the most part. I haven’t really given up on any of them, and I sure have a lot to do in the next two months!

Is anyone else turning 30 this year? Do you have a list like this? Does anyone turning a different age have a list?

May 30, 2013

Ten things to be happy about 5/30/12

I haven’t written one of these posts in a while. I’m not really sure why. But I thoroughly enjoy them and it’s a good practice in gratitude, which everyone can use a healthy dose of every now and then.

 

1. My  brother is bringing me Starbucks! I can’t wait. I am seriously dragging today.

2. Tonight is yoga! When we started, I was nervous about the heat because the place we go to basically only does classes with some amount of heat. It’s been okay, though. I’ve actually been really enjoying it.

3. This weekend is my friend Stephanie’s bachelorette party! We rented a house and we’re spending the weekend relaxing, eating delicious food, and doing all sorts of girly fun stuff.

4. I am almost finished editing photos from Jim’s dad’s wedding! And they turned out pretty great. I’m happy with them. This is one of my favorites so far.

jim and nancy

5. My friend Reanna and I are Costco shopping for the weekend today. I know maybe that makes me kind of lame, but I love Costco!

6. Jim and I are going to Alaska this year! We’ll be spending the 4th of July there as well as attending a wedding of close family friends of mine. I’m beyond excited! Below is one of my favorite photos from our last trip in 2009…too long ago.

alaska1

7. I joined a new book club! Two might be a bit to keep up with, but that’s okay. Just another excuse to read more! And I’m really excited about meeting and getting to know a new group of girls. You can never have too many friends…or read too many books!

8. We got a new juicer! Not that there was anything wrong with our old juicer. We’re donating it to a friend, and we upgraded. Our new one can do more greens and also can make almond butter and ice cream, which is really exciting!

juicer

9. I made a really yummy quinoa salad two nights ago. We’ve been eating it for dinner the past two nights, and I have it for lunch today. Just another hour and a half! P.S. I’ll be posting the recipe soon!

10. I got my wedding ring cleaned yesterday! And its so shiny and pretty today.  It’s an amethyst, so it’s purple, and when it’s clean the stone turns to such a dark color. It’s almost like a different ring.

Your turn! What are some things you’re really happy about today?

May 6, 2013

Summertime White Sangria

I love sangria. Jim loves it too, and whenever we go to Mexican restaurants that serve it, we get a glass…or a pitcher, whatever.

I’ve always wanted to try making my own, but never have had the patience to let it sit overnight and all that. But when we decided to have people over for fish tacos for Cinco de Mayo, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.

I searched through our wine “cellar” for a relatively inexpensive bottle of red that I didn’t mind sacrificing (of course there was the potential that this would turn out horribly and waste an entire bottle of wine), and unfortunately I came up short. I didn’t have a single bottle of red wine that I wanted to turn into sangria. So I switched gears. We had TONS of bottles of white because we both enjoy red just a little bit better (until summer comes around anyway), so I decided to make some sangria out of white wine instead.

We popped open a bottle of Rome Valley Vineyards‘ Chardonnay and started making magic!

sangria1b

Summertime White Sangria

The beauty of sangria is that you can pretty much put whatever fruit into it that you want. I mean sure there’s a traditional recipe, but you can make something completely delicious and unique to your own taste just as easily. I used a handful of different fruits we already had on hand.

2 oranges, sliced

1 lime, sliced

5 strawberries, cut in half, tops removed

5 thin slices of rhubarb

2 shots of triple sec

I bottle of chardonnay (you can use whatever white wine you like or have on hand)

Sparkling water (Mine was lime scented, and I used about 36 ounces, but you can taste as you go. It’s not a science)

Pour your wine into a pitcher. Add fruit and triple sec. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight or for several hours. The longer, the better. When you’re ready to serve, pour in the sparkling water. Serve ice cold in your most beautiful glasses, garnished with extra fruit.

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It turned out pretty dern delicious, if I don’t say so myself. Originally I wanted to use limes, raspberries and peaches, but they only had limes at our local grocery store…you know, the only one open at 10:30 when I decided I wanted to attempt this endeavor. I think I’ll try that combination next time. I’ve also heard people use ginger ale instead of the sparkling water and it gives it more flavor. I didn’t want the added sugar (or high fructose corn syrup. Yuck!), so I will probably always stick with the water.

sangria2b

Also this weekend, I finally got to play around with my new camera. It does a pretty good job, eh? Here are a few of my favorite shots of Katie that I took. She’s a hard dog to photograph, let me tell you! She’s like my brother when it comes to taking her picture. She always turns away from the camera! So the fact that I got these ones was a miracle in and of itself!

black lab

Isn’t she cute? Just chilling in the grass.

katie2b

This one I made a funny sound at her, so she tilted her head as if to ask “what the heck was that?!”

I hope everyone is having a happy Monday! Or at least a not-sucky Monday as Mondays can be pretty challenging.

Have you ever tried making sangria before? If so, did you use a recipe or did you just wing it like I did?

April 12, 2013

Life Altering Change

Jim and I have been making some major changes over the past month. I told you a little bit about our juice reboot, but it’s gone beyond that. We’ve decided we need to overhaul our entire attitude toward food and change what we put into our bodies while we still have the chance to make a difference in our own lives.

It all started on St. Patrick’s Day as we sat down to feast on processed food and plenty of beer. I was scrolling through Pinterest during a commercial on tv and the following image popped into my screen.

fat sick and nearly dead

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. “Interesting,” I thought, and checked Netflix to see if they had it. They did. And we watched (you can watch on Netflix if you have it, or through Amazon, free with prime or a $2.99 rental).

It’s about Joe Cross, an Australian who suddenly realizes he needs to make some changes in his life. He goes on a 60-day juice fast while traveling around the USA promoting healthy living. For whatever reason, this film struck a chord with us and we embarked on our own 4-day juice fast the very next day.

But somehow that wasn’t enough and through the “Reboot with Joe” website, I learned about a new documentary, Hungry for Change, that was showing for free for a limited time that week (also available for rental through Amazon).

hungry for change

This one was huge for us. Not only did it tell us a lot of stuff we already knew was bad for us, but it explained why, and that’s huge when you’re talking about stuff like diet soda, which I knew was bad for me (sadly, other people think it’s good for them), and I already stay away from, but did you know that it causes blurred vision, headaches, nausea, vertigo, memory loss and seizures and for those reasons pilots are not allowed to drink it while or prior to flying? Holy Cow! I won’t go into all of the details of the movie, but I highly recommend it. It features many prominent figures in the health/wellness world and Jim and I both found it to be insightful and eye-opening.

Along with these two videos, I read a book.

crazy sexy dietThe word “diet” turned my head the other way when I first saw this one. I didn’t want to read a diet book, but after reading the first few sections of Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen, a book devoted mostly to recipes whereas Crazy Sexy Diet is mostly information, I decided I needed to read Crazy Sexy Diet too. Carr never thought she was going to be a diet guru. She was an actress and photographer and when she learned she had cancer, her entire life changed. Doctors gave her a prognosis and she said screw that! From there, she transformed her life, started following a plant-based diet and claims she’s never felt better, cancer and all. But that’s her story, and you should get her books and let her tell it. Check out her website too. It is an amazing source for information, recipes and community support.

But back to Jim and I, because we don’t have a book and if you want our story, you’re going to find it here. Granted, our story isn’t that long yet, and you’ll have to keep coming back if you want to learn more, but here it is so far.

As I mentioned, we did a 4-day juice fast just after St. Patrick’s Day. I felt more energy after the second day of that fast than I have in so long. But then we had a crazy Napa 30th birthday party to go to, and we needed to quit the fast so we could have some fun (also, we weren’t so sure about fasting for longer than that at a time. We want to be healthy, not crazy and dangerous with our bodies). Having fun, by the way, is okay. We also went to the Food Trucks event in Roseville last night and had Po’Boy sandwiches from the Cajun truck. It’s okay.

We did another juice fast last week and we plan on doing one next week. The weeks between, we’ve been replacing one meal with juice and eating healthfully the other. We have smoothies for breakfast (usually filled with fruit, spinach or kale, protein powder, chia seeds and spirulina…it’s a seaweed) when we’re on the fast and when we’re not, and sometimes a little snack like a handful of walnuts and raspberries if we need it. We’ve also been kicking up our workouts, and by kicking up I mean doing them. We take Katie for long walks or go to the school down the street and play basketball. We both kind of hate working out, so we try to make it fun.

We’ve had very few desserts in the past month. We cut our added sugar down to almost nothing (okay, sometimes I have a few chocolate chips with my walnuts, but again, its okay!), and in the month we’ve been doing this, I think we’ve had caffeine twice. We’ve almost completely cut out dairy products and eggs and started eating more quinoa, wild rice and tons and tons of vegetables!

Mostly, I feel amazing. I have energy (except when I can’t sleep at night, like last night…argh!), I have a positive attitude toward the world. I want to get outside and do things. I want to cook. When I find myself craving something, it’s not tater tots or ice cream, it’s walnuts or carrots or oatmeal (oatmeal, people!). I was on such a tater tot kick before I started this and they don’t even sound good anymore!

As I mentioned before, though, this doesn’t mean we won’t partake in foods we’ve enjoyed in the past. Jim fully intends to continue eating meat when we’re out with family or friends or on special occasions. And I don’t see myself passing up roasted figs with goat cheese and honey come fig season. But we’re no longer okay with putting so much crap into our bodies. There’s increasing research that concludes that filling up on fats, simple white foods like pastas, breads and sugars and the plethora of lab created, chemical “food” products on grocery store shelves these days causes cancer and chronic diseases, and we just don’t want to risk it. It’s like stepping into a fire and just hoping you don’t get burned. We’ve seen too many people we care about…and so many people those people care about get diagnoses of cancer and heart problems that it seems stupid to us not to do something to stay off that increasingly long list.

So stay tuned for more tidbits and tales of our journey to health. I’m sure it’s going to be a bumpy ride, and it won’t always be easy, but we’re going to make the trek and hopefully come out on top as a result.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go enjoy my “lunch.” I’ve got carrots, oranges, fennel, red cabbage, baby kale, spinach and sweet potatoes today all wrapped up in a pretty purple juice. As Tucker would say, “Aaaaahhhh.”

If you find yourself intrigued, please ask me about our experience. I have tons of information, recipes, opinions, and advise if you’re interested in making a change like this in your life.

April 11, 2013

On my second yoga experience

I like yoga. I haven’t done a ton of it because it’s kind of a “luxury” I can’t justify paying for on a regular basis, so when I found a groupon for ten classes at a local studio, I lassoed my sister-in-law and we went to our first class on Tuesday.

As I previously mentioned, this was my second yoga experience. Of course I’m not counting doing poses from magazines and the Jillian Michaels dvd I picked up as experiences. I’m just referring to classes. And this one sort of scared me.

The first time I took a yoga class was with my other sister-in-law, and it was lovely. The poses were challenging enough, and I left the class feeling calm, relaxed and refreshed.

This class had one fundamental difference: heat. And humidity. Which I wasn’t aware of when we showed up for the class. And I felt like I was going to die about 70% of the class. I got dizzy and slightly nauseous and definitely went through all of my water way too fast. But I’m kind of proud of myself because I stuck it out and finished, even though I (and sister-in-law!) sat out several of the poses.

I’m not sure what I think about going back. I mean sure, we’ll go because we have nine more classes, but I think next time we’ll try one of the two classes they offer without heat.

And may be we’ll go back to heat….eventually.

 

April 4, 2013

Getting away for a weekend

This past weekend, Jim and I were finally able to take a long weekend and do some good relaxing. Even though it meant missing Easter with the families, we took Monday off and spent the weekend at my family’s house on the coast in Northern California. It’s about the most relaxing place I’ve been. The house is beautiful, the view is unparalleled and there’s nothing like the sound of waves crashing against rock to release life’s tensions.

shelter cove2

Of course, we had to overcome a few obstacles before we could actually do any relaxing.

Like find a way to get propane to the house.

We arrived late on Friday night to a little blue card on the door that said the propane tank had been capped off because the account wasn’t current. We called them and apparently the card on file had been declined (we later learned it was because of a fraud alert), and of course, there was nothing they could do until Monday. So we had no heater, no stove, no HOT WATER. Until Jim came up with the brilliant idea to buy a 5 gallon tank and attach it to the line to the house.

So we went down to the cove to find propane.

And walk around the tidal flats a bit.

shelter cove1

And get a delicious fish burger.

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We LOOOOOOOOOOVE our fish burgers!

sc2

Fortunately for us, the general store sold 5 -gallon propane tanks. Full. It looked pretty funny sitting next to the big tank, like it was the little brother tank learning to warm the big house.

shelter cove17

That problem finally under control and we were darn ready for a shower, so we go upstairs to this beauty and turn on the tap. It’s cold. Wait for it. Still cold. A few more minutes. Still like ice. So now we need to find the water heater. But there isn’t one to be found anywhere. We deduce the following: it’s tankless. So we look around some more, and finally I point to the crawl space panel on the ceiling in the master bathroom. “Maybe up there?”

Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Except it’s dark, so I go back downstairs for a flashlight. Armed with the light Jim, who is the only one tall enough to even touch the panel let alone get his head into the hole, takes a peek. There are no lights on. It needs to be reset. But it’s quite a ways in there. Jim can’t reach it at all. I told him I’d go find him a poking device, head back downstairs and return with a pool cue. So Jim’s standing on the bench with the flashlight in one hand, the pool cue in another poking at a hole in the ceiling. If he’d been sufficiently clothed I totally would have taken a photo! Instead you get the tools out of place in the bathroom.

shelter cove14

So we take our shower and it’s amazingly luxurious. This shower is Jim’s number one reason for wanting to come to this house. We each get our own lovely shower head, plus body jets. It’s pretty amazing.

shelter cove16

Once we’re done with our shower (it’s about 3p.m. by this point), we’re ready for a snack, so we go back to the kitchen where we left our food on the counter only to find ants crawling all over the dirty pancake batter bowl from breakfast (I left it because it had raw egg in it and I wanted to wait to wash it until we had hot water) and heading for the rest of our food. We quickly moved it all to the kitchen island, checked everything that was open and bagged it all in freezer bags so they couldn’t get in if they found it again. Then we went about killing all the ants we could find and putting traps (which we found under the kitchen sink) by the window where they seemed to be getting in.

Ok, so we’re halfway through the first of our two full days of relaxation and finally we can sit down.

We brought a puzzle, which we put together while partaking in “adult coffees.”

shelter cove7

Katie lounged around the house, being lazy and trying to sneak upstairs whenever she thought we weren’t looking.

shelter cove6

I spent a lot of time reading Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr.  I am thoroughly enjoying it. I bought her Crazy, Sex Kitchen book a few months ago, and was so intrigued by her philosophies that I decided I needed to read Crazy, Sexy Diet too. Initially I turned away from this book because I hate the word “diet.” It’s so unfriendly. But I took a peek inside the book on Amazon, and decided it wasn’t really a diet book, so to speak and bought it anyway. It actually outlines exactly how I want to live my life in regards to what I put in my body and what I expect from it in return. I’ve been a vegetarian for eighteen years, but I feel like I’m ready to take that next step and cut out dairy, eggs and processed foods as well.

Ok, so back to the weekend. One of my favorite movies was on: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Even Jim thinks this movie is hilarious! We sat down with our “nosh” dinner and watched the movie.

shelter cove11

The sunsets up there are absolutely gorgeous, and we were fortunate that the clouds didn’t completely block our view either night.

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Sunday morning we again cooked breakfast on the griddle. We had propane, but we weren’t sure how for five gallons was going to get us, so we didn’t want to waste it where we didn’t need it. After breakfast we took Katie down to the black sand beach. It was really really foggy, but she enjoyed running in the sand and trying to avoid the waves, sniffing around at everything she saw.

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She was a happy pooch.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging, being lazy, doing that relaxing thing. We watched a Friends marathon, followed by a marathon of our favorite show of all time: Monk.

We made sausages (meat for him, veggie for me) on the griddle and ate them with a big salad for dinner.

After dinner we took a bath, one of my favorite parts of this house. Technically it can fit three people and has amazingly relaxing jets and changes colors and makes tons of bubbles and the freaking works. It was amazing. A glass of wine, a few chocolates and we were in heaven. Well, at least I was.

shelter cove15The blanket is up over the window because people finally moved into the house next door. The other window has the sun shade down.

Someone thought it was appropriate to light off fireworks for Easter. We weren’t complaining. They were small, but they were pretty.

shelter cove13

The next morning we packed up and headed home, feeling much more refreshed than when we started. I could have used a week. Maybe not there because there’s so little to do I’d get bored, but a good week vacation definitely must be in my future, hopefully sooner than later.

March 26, 2013

Playing Catch Up

It’s been over a week since I’ve posted. I know, I know. It’s not that weird. It’s sort of what I do. Erratic posting is what I’m all about. And I’m learning something: that’s just who I am. I’m messy and uncoordinated, unorganized, and I’d rather spend my time playing that cleaning.

I’m not even going to apologize about it.

katie helping

Although I must do some cleaning, because here’s an adorable photo of Katie “helping” me fold towels. The pink one is hers.

Anyway, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do, so I’m going to just get to it.

The past week has been amazingly busy, sort of intense and completely filled with fun.

I think I left you just before St. Patrick’s day. Jim and I have a tradition of Irish Car Bombs. The drink AND the cupcakes. He makes the drinks; I make the cupcakes, and we enjoy too many of both.

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But we have a lot of fun. And somehow I managed to get plenty of photos of the drinks and none of the cupcakes. I guess that’s why we should start with cupcakes?

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Sometimes I make him corned beef and cabbage. But not this year.

st pattys day3This year we had a “nosh” of shamrock shaped ravioli, tater tots with my special “tot sauce”, jalapeno poppers, spinach dip and some sliced tomatoes….for good measure. And, of course, more Guinness.

And while eating this pile of fat, carbs and calories (except for the tomatoes, of course) , we watched a documentary. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Have you ever watched one of these food documentaries? They kind of make you feel terribly guilty about the way you eat. This one was about an Australian named Joe Cross who comes to the US to do a juice “reboot” for 60 days. Over the course of the movie, and under close monitoring by doctors, he looses close to 100 lbs from drinking just juice.

So as Jim and I sat there and ate our greasy feast, something clicked. We looked at our plates, listened to our bellies and decided maybe Joe had something. Of course, we weren’t going to go 60 days on nothing but juice, but we decided to try a week. I may end up writing a separate post about our juice experience, so I won’t tell too much about it right now, but I will say I was really happy with the way it turned out. Not just because I lost a few pounds, but because I feel so much better than I have in a long time.

Our last juice day was Friday because Saturday we celebrated Jim’s sister-in-law’s 30th birthday in Napa. And there was no way we were sipping juice while everyone else sipped Pinot!

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Two of my sisters-in-law. Natalia, on the left and Stefanie, the birthday girl on the right.

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On the bus, getting the day started right! (Like my beautiful forehead in the bottom left?)

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Jim found the only lemon cupcake in the box. He’s probably going to kill me for posting this photo.

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At one of the wineries.

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The whole group of us. They rented a party bus and we spent the day touring different wineries followed by dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant in downtown Napa. Overall it was a pretty amazing day. Jim and I even managed to sneak away for a little while to visit our favorite Napa winery, Gustavo Thrace. This is the one we did the grape stomping at back in October.

March 11, 2013

Officially Moved In

This weekend we finally had our yard sale, sold or donated the rest of the crap we didn’t need or want and left a big, deliciously empty space in the garage. I figure that, even more than having our housewarming party, means we’re moved in! Of course, now we have to finish organizing what’s left in the garage. But that part’s easy.

The yard sale took up most of our Saturday, and I even remembered to take some photos to post (which I still haven’t really gotten used to doing), but my camera was going whacky on me yesterday (the reason why the rest of the photos in this post are of the lovely cell phone variety). But it’s okay. So is life sometimes. But seriously. It feels SOOOOOO amazing to have all that junk gone. I hate clutter. I hate messes. I hate extra junk. I need to have clean and tidy and put away and that mound of junk was bringing me down.

Anyway, Saturday night we decided to go out to dinner instead of cooking. There was no way I was going to be able to come up with anything besides tater tots and frozen pizza, so we went to sushi instead.

Popcorn Shrimp Temaki

Popcorn Shrimp Temaki

We have a new…I hate to use the word “favorite” because while their Popcorn Shrimp Temaki is probably my favorite hand roll of all time, the rest of their rolls are…well…eh. In fact I almost yacked on the spider roll we ordered. I had to spit it in my napkin. Gross, right? Jim told me to. I wasn’t going to. It’s kind of rude (but then again so is yacking at the table in  a restaurant, right?). Then he held up his left hand, palm toward him, wedding ring toward me, and said “and that’s why it’s okay.” He’s so funny. And he’s right, of course.

Sunday we woke up a bit later than Saturday…and then an hour later than that because of the time change. Stupid time change. I made breakfast, which I usually do. But I have this problem. I can spend one day at home and then I nut up. So since we were home almost all day Saturday, Sunday morning came along and I had a serious itch to get the heck out of the house.

We have a favorite bike trail that we like to ride. It’s about eleven and a half miles around Lake Natoma. There are usually a lot of people…joggers, walkers, people on strange contraptions (like the elliptical machine thing we saw one guy on…wish I’d taken a cell phone photo, but I was about to die about that time), horses along with the bikers?…cyclists? The folk who ride the bikes. Us.

Lake Natoma

However, we decided we wanted to bring Katie. And since she’s not terribly fabulous on the leash yet, and she certainly has never done an 11 mile jaunt attached to a bike before, we chose to walk it instead. (This is the part of the weekend where my camera decided to stop reading the card that was in it and I almost threw it off the bridge into the lake).

Can't believe I had to facebook jack my own photos

Can’t believe I had to facebook jack my own photos

It was a beautiful day. About 70 degrees, warm, a little wind coming off the lake. The trees were green and those that bloom were doing their thing. It felt really good to be out there….until it didn’t. Until we got almost halfway around the lake and realized, hey, walking might be a bigger pain in the ass that bike-riding, not to mention we’re trying to train a dog to walk on the leash here. By the time we finished, four hours later, we were both so beat all we could do was fall into the car. Katie even slept the entire way home.

It was a good thing I already had dinner in the slow cooker (it’s a Cuisinart, not a Crock Pot), or else we would have been going for those tater tots and frozen pizza.

We had a nice evening, though. We watched an episode of Property Wars (anyone else love that show?!) and an episode of…uh…can’t remember the name….they fish for tuna? Jim? Are you reading this? What’s that show called? Anyway, we watched, we ate, we had some ice cream in bed and then we were out.

Unfortunately a bird outside our bedroom window wasn’t aware that the time change didn’t mean he was supposed to sit and squawk at 2 am. Between him and the nice little sunburn I procured on our little walk, I probably didn’t sleep more than three hours all night. And we went to bed early! Hopefully he gets with the program tonight!

January 4, 2013

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate for Christmas

This year, Christmas was hard. I already told you that part. I wasn’t in the spirit at all and we were short funds because of the house. But we still managed to give everyone something…something I thought was pretty dern awesome. And we made it ourselves.

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We made salted caramel hot chocolate! Jim made the caramel sauce and I made the hot chocolate mix and we wrapped them up together. I even stamped the little cards myself. It was a lot of fun, working with Jim and creating something special to give to all of our friends and family. And honestly, so much less stress than your usual shopping forever, wrapping late into the night and then stressing some more than people won’t like their gifts…or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, I thought this hot chocolate was to die for. The caramel sauce was smooth and rich and the hot chocolate was creamy and with the addition of a little something extra, it was more than your average packet of Swiss Miss.

Hot Chocolate Mix

1 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

3 cups powdered milk

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Before dividing the mix up into whatever containers you’re using (if you’re giving this as a gift), make some up and taste it. Before I got mine right, I tasted it a few times and added more cocoa powder because I like my stuff less sweet than most people, I think. Also, you can add more or even omit the cinnamon. Try other things, too. Pumpkin pie spice would make this a more spicy cocoa. I think it might be delicious to grind up some orange zest to add in. Or maybe some ground up chocolate chips to make it more chocolatey. You can also add more things as garnish.

For the salted caramel sauce, I used Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe. I’m going to just send you right over to her page because she does such an amazing job of instructing you on the process, complete with photos. I chose her recipe because she doesn’t use corn syrup. Since I had that issue with corn last year, I’ve tried to stay away from the stuff as best I can. We’ve made this recipe twice now and it has come out magnificently both times. And it’s delicious to boot! I also consulted her recipe (among others) for the hot cocoa mix when I was researching how to make it. Check that out too. That girl is amazing in the kitchen! You can always trust her recipes to come out (which cannot always be said, by the way) and be as delicious as they look in her photos.

Anyway, back to our gifts. We added cinnamon sticks and mini marshmallows as toppers, but as I said before, you can add pretty much anything that strikes your fancy. The hot chocolate powder (minus the cinnamon) would go with tons of different options: peppermint, orange, I might even try pumpkin because I love pumpkin that much.

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A little late posting, but that was our gift to people this Christmas. I think we’ll do something similar next year…making something, I mean. It was fun and I think people enjoyed it.

Does anyone else do this for Christmas? Make something for each family and/or friend?