Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To Do Lists and Projects

I've just been exhausted lately! A month ago I would sit down each morning (or once a week if I felt really ambitious) and write a list of everything I wanted to accomplish that day. From cleaning, to cooking, construction to crocheting, I had a plan as to how long it would take and what should get done that day.

I've refinished the living room pillows that have been dyeing to get done since we moved in a year and a half ago. We painted the living room walls green, and the red and black pillows that came with the couches just didn't do the trick anymore. Four or five months ago I collected the material to change up the fronts (mostly left over from other projects), but just haven't had the time to put it all together. They used to look like this:

Not only do they look better, but I also crammed these new ones full of extra stuffing, so they should fulfill our pillow needs for a while. Here's the completed project:

I did two of each of these designs and one additional that isn't quite done yet. Three of the five are hand sewn  shut, and I'm just waiting  for a movie night to finish hand sewing the last two. We've been a little preoccupied with painting and holiday activities. But I'm sure we'll have some time over Christmas to finish these! my family tends to

Friday, December 17, 2010

Finals Week!

This week was a rough one for Dave, it was finals week... He's been so stressed out about it that he hasn't been sleeping. I think there was only one night this week where he didn't toss and turn so much that he ended up moving to the couch in frustration. Then yesterday he came home from work with an intense stomach ache.

When I asked him if he was sick he said it was from eating too much junk at work. "But they had summer sausage and cheese, nuts, candy and cookies. I just couldn't stop eating the sausage or the nuts by the handful." My question is if he's already sick from overeating, how in the world will he survive the holidays? I guess I'll have to monitor his sausage and nut intake for the next week!

We're pretty much ready for Christmas. We put up our tree on Sunday and have all our presents wrapped and waiting to be opened. The house is relatively clean, and we're both just chomping at the bit for a break! We're planning on painting my office over the long weekend, and I've prepared everything so it shouldn't be too much work.

The intercom has been removed from the bedroom and is waiting to be patched, everything has been pulled out of the bedroom or moved to the center of the room. and we've picked out what color we want to paint the walls! Next we'll need to remove the trim (Dave feels the need to replace it while we working), and get to work! It won't be half as hard as any of the other construction work we've done, but it will be nice to have a fresh coat of paint in there.

Dave's already planning to paint his room next! We have a left over can of green paint from the living room that he just loves and wants to use as an accent wall. He's also hoping to use the leftover tan color I've picked for my office for the rest of the room (so we'll probably just buy an extra can of paint for him). I'm trying to convince him to wait to paint his room until Spring Break. I don't want to cram painting two rooms into one weekend. Especially since it will be so much work to move all his stuff out of his room... We'll see if I succeed!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Salmon Vegetable Bake

A few weeks ago Dave and I tried out a new salmon recipe and I've been meaning to post it! It was fabulous! Not super fishy, and extremely healthy. My mom stopped by as I was finishing it, and I jokingly told her I'd make her taste it (because it has mushrooms in it).

1 lb salmon (fresh or thawed)
2 c carrots (thinly sliced)
2 c fresh mushrooms
1/2 c. onions
2 t orange peel (finely shredded)
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
4 garlic cloves (diced)
4 T olive oil
1 med orange (sliced)

Cut fish into 4 serving sizes and set aside. In a small saucepan, boil carrots in a covered pot for 2 minutes. drain and set aside. Tear off 24 inches of foil and fold in half.

In a large bowl combine carrots, mushrooms, onion, orange peel, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic.

Divide vegetables among the four pieces of foul, placing beggies in the center of the piece. Place one salmon piece on top of each, and drizzle with oil. Top with orange slices.

Fold up the foil, allowing a small space at the top for steam to build up. Place packets on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes (or until the carrot is tender and the fish begins to flake). Serve with wild rice.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Holidays call for creativity

Check out this killer awesome hat I finished crocheting during the Snowtorious B.I.G.!

I'm pretty proud of it because it's the first crochet item I've made while following a pattern. I guess technically the flower the pattern called for was ugly (I made it before I decided this). So I ended up eyeballing this flower from a headband my sister Sheila made for me... and I had to add 4 extra rows to make the had big enough for my head (what can I say? I take after mom), but all in all I consider it a "learn to read patterns" success.

Which is a good thing because a sweet little lady in my ward decided she didn't need the vast majority of her crochet patterns any more and has given them all to me! I've gone through them and pulled out the patterns I want, Sheila's gone through some of them, and I'll bring the remainder to Thanksgiving this weekend to offer to Dave's mom. Anything that is left I'll donate to DI so they can find a new home.

So I've got my work cut out for me in future blankets, pot holders, pin cushions, bags, baby booties (good thing I have a niece and a nephew!) and one not 70's sweater. I'm super excited, and have several balls of left over yarn that will work for a few of the smaller projects (old yarn = free project). Now if I only had some more time on my hands...

Now that the hat is done, I've started making a blanket for Dave's Birthday. A few months ago Dave found out one of the blankets at my parents house not only had I made, but I had made it for an ex-boyfriend. When we broke up I had given it to my parents, so Dave has felt entitled to that blanket. So he took it! So we can give that blanket back to my parents, I'll do my best to complete this blanket quickly!

I've also finished a robe I was making for myself for Christmas. I wanted it to be super warm (what can I say, I'm a cold pansy) so I lined the top half with two layers of fleece. It turned out pretty well if I do say so!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dave's Exciting News

This week Dave had an interview for an internship with Struck Axiom . They met for about an hour, reviewing Dave's portfolio, discussing his plans for the future, and his improvements over his time in school. At the end of the meeting Dave was offered a summer internship!

He's so excited because this is his first choice company. They have offices in Utah, California, and Washington, and work with companies like Dream Works, Adidas, Quaker, and my favorite TCBY. So this is the kind of company that will really help build his portfolio and bulk up his resume. And it just seems like a KILLER environment. Also, it's half a block from my work, so we have the potential to carpool a few days a week during the summer.

The same day as Dave's interview we attended my company's Christmas party. While speaking with my co-worker Liz, and her boyfriend Kyle, Struck Axiom was brought up. Kyle works closely with Graphic Designers, and is even on a Salt Lake City creative board. He said when his company is looking for Designers their first choice is to try to get "anyone" from Stuck Axiom. The company has that kind of reputation in the area.

We're really hoping after working for them for the summer, they will see what a hard worker and great producer Dave is, and they'll want to hire him on for the fall. We'll pray hard, and Dave will work hard so that can be the case!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Survived the Snowtorious B.I.G.!

As I was driving to work yesterday I turned on the radio to hear all about a blizzard warning that was going into effect at 3:00pm. Upon arriving at work everyone was freaking out about it and they convinced the owners we needed to go home early for our safety. So we "worked" until 2:30 and all headed home to make sure we were safely in before the "worst storm in the past 7 years" hit. Dave got home at 5 for similar reasons.

Periodically throughout the night we would stick our head out the back door to see how bad it had gotten. Nothing. We went to bed figuring it would hit us over night, or early morning. I woke up and still... Nothing. Well, maybe 2 inches of powder, but nothing earth shattering. And the roads were already plowed. So we headed out to work and school.

I was a little disappointed it wasn't worse. Not that I wanted it to be so bad that our power was out or anything. But I was hoping to have a snow day so I could bake a peach pie and crescent rolls for Thanksgiving. Maybe clean the house a bit, just get ready for the holiday. Since I don't have the day after Thanksgiving off work, I was already feeling a little gipped, and thought having Wednesday off would some how make up for it.

As a word of gratitude during this holiday season: I'm so grateful for my best friend and husband Dave, our families, our beautiful home, that we can rent out our basement apartment, my awesome job, that Dave will be done with school next year, enough snow in the mountains that we can go snowshoeing Saturday and for so many more blessings that are too numerous to list.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Christmas is in the Air!

I swear the holidays start sooner and sooner each year! This year it's mostly my fault, I've started a few Christmas projects that hopefully will be completed by Christmas... we'll see what I can get done by then! One's for Dave (which I can't disclose at this time, since he has a tendency to find his gifts and use them prior to Christmas). The other will be a new robe for me. I have looked for one in the stores, but haven't been impressed with the prices or options. In the end it's going to be far cheaper to make one than it would have been to buy one that I really liked. Hopefully it turns out!

We're not doing major Christmas gifts this year, since we went to North Carolina, so I've actually completed my shopping already! Well, except something for the Plastow side's exchange. I'm not sure what we're going to do this year (in the past we've drawn  names to buy for), and as soon as we've figured that out I'll take care of that one. Oh... and two stinking white elephant gifts for my work Christmas party. I hate white elephant gifts, they really are crap, and I just don't want to spend $20 buying something nobody will want, let alone buying two pieces of crap nobody will want. Oh the joy of the mandatory holiday party!

Dave has spent the past month or more working on a project to create an outdoor company and put together all the needed paper products for the company as well as a guide to explain how the logo and brand should be used. He finally completed the project and it looked absolutely awesome! His teacher said he could see how much time Dave had spent on it, with all the details in the paper work, embossing, and binding. If he doesn't get an A, I might have to find the teacher and give him a piece of my mind!

I have two vacation days left this year. They're just burning a hole in my pocket! I want to use them at least once a week, but I also could save them, as they roll over and can be used next year. I keep telling myself I'll get Thanksgiving off in a few weeks, and I'll be taking a half day on the Friday after. I can survive two more weeks without time off, or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gospel Doctrine: Rough & Rewarding

For the past year I've taught the Old Testament class at church. We have people from all walks of life, that contribute all kinds of perspective. It always makes for an interesting hour, and I almost always walk away saying to myself, that's definitely not what I prepared, but it's what the people needed to discuss!

There are a few frequent contributors that at first I had difficulty figuring out how to handle the comments for. All of them are older (70 - 80's), and are pretty set in their ways. Some are crazy funny scientific comments about how there was a layer of water circling the atmosphere before the flood which is why it could rain for so long during the 40 day flood.

One gentleman in particular always asks very blunt extreme questions. I've had such a hard time trying to figure out how to answer him, and not end up being offended when he asked on my second week "What's the point of this lesson? It seems like you're just giving a history." (sometimes you can't understand the true depth of the doctrine until you understand the history behind it)

Sunday I finely got to the point where I could say "it doesn't matter what he thinks, if I'm testifying of the truth and backing it up with Scripture and doctrine, that's the best I can do." He had several questions this Sunday, I answered to the best of my ability and class members chimed in to back me up. The lesson was an over all success.

After class this gentleman took me aside and thanked me for such a great lesson. He continued to tell me he always appreciates how I take time to answer his questions and don't just shoot him down. He then explained about his years of inactivity and how he's only come back to church recently when his wife passed away. 

This conversation really made me think! I had no idea the struggles he had gone through, nor did I realize his questions were genuine. Although week after week it felt like he was playing the devil's advocate and just giving me a rough time, he was truly looking for answers. I'm grateful for the patience I was given until I was given the understanding. I hope I can always be patient with those around me. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Baby's first Glamor Shots!

My sisters and I got a little carried away at the family dinner on Sunday with our niece, Andrea. She was so mellow with all her costume changes!

Oh man! We thought we were just hilarious... hopefully she thinks so too when she's old enough to look at these!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Reflections on the After-life

My Aunt Debbie (Dad's side) died this morning. She wasn't really old, nor was she in particularly bad health. She just went to sleep the night prior feeling under the weather, and didn't wake up in the morning. I suppose it's a peaceful way to go, but it's still a big surprise and hard on the family.

She was always kind to me as a child, crocheting Barbie clothes that matched the ones she had made for her daughter, buying us nail polish and lipstick (my first tube and it was candy apple red). She would take us shopping and didn't care if we completely destroyed the bedroom with toys and games.

I didn't really have a relationship with her as an adult, although she did make it out to my wedding two years ago and met Dave. I know she went through some tough times, and she made it through. It makes me wish Dave and I would have driven the 5 hours to visit her when we were in North Carolina a few weeks ago, and build some sort of adult relationship.

My Dad's side of the family is communicational-ly challenged. They're the kind of people that speak their minds, see their opinion as the truth, and are easily taken in offense. Some of them are manipulative, even though they don't see themselves as such. Although I never knew Debbie to cause any drama, I'm sure she experienced it, being a member of the family.

My Aunt's death has brought all kinds of questions to my mind. Does she see everything clearly now that she's dead (free of drama, manipulation, etc)? Will she have to work through forgiving her family for the drama, or will it all be wiped clean by the atonement? If she learns new info about family members previous manipulation or drama, will it upset her? Or will she be completely at a different level of mentality that it won't even offend her.

I know in the resurrection we still have our attributes and tendencies, and we are still learning and growing. But... do we have to work through this kind of situation? Not that it's important to my eternal salvation, but what I've been thinking about today.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Christmas in October: our Outer Banks Trip

Dave had last week off of school for Fall Break. Since we found super cheap air fair to North Carolina, we decided to celebrate Christmas early and splurge on a trip. Dave called it his last trip of freedom (ie, the last big trip we'll take before we start having kids). We've been anticipating this trip since we found the tickets a few months ago, and were so excited to get to relax and enjoy a new region of the country together.

A minimum of a few hours every day in the ocean! Monday we drove down to Ocracoke Island, and camped on the beach for two nights. We swam, boogie boarded, surfed (not very well on my part), collected sea shells, had a bonfire on the beach... it was just all around great! Wednesday we woke up early to watch the sun rise yet again over the ocean, packed up and headed north. We slowly wound our way back up the coast stopping wherever we were inspired to stop.

We stopped at four light houses on our way back to Kathryn's Currituck, Bodie Island, Cape Hatteras, and Ocracoke. All were impressive, and I'm glad we got to see them. Cape Hatteras was moved in 1999, so it was weird for me to see it not on the beach but further inland. but I'm glad they moved it instead of loosing it to the ocean.

Shipwreck was on the list of must do's. Although it was WAY more ghetto than I remember it being as a kid, they sold some really cool shells super cheap. They still sold all the same trinkets that I bought as a kid (from the shell jewelry boxes, to the unicorns Heather would always purchase, to the weapons Mike always wanted). It was fun to relive that part of my childhood, and I'm pretty sure we will be decorating our bathroom in ocean theme now. The $10 I spent on shells will look great on our neutral tan bathroom walls.

We also got to go to Busch Gardens (no lines + nice weather = better than I expected) and on the only rainy day of our trip the VA aquarium. Both were a little pricy for my taste, but you only go on a real vacation once a year, so it was worth it.

We also stopped by Jockey's Ridge and the Wright Brother's National Monument, which was tons of fun to check out.

One of the highlights of the trip was getting to know Kathryn, Emil and the family. We would return to their house between 5 and 7 each night, eat dinner and either play games, watch a show, or just chat with the family. Because I've lived out west for the past 10 years, I haven't really had the opportunity to get to know this side of the family as well, and I was really glad for the opportunity to become friends with them.

The dangerous part of the trip... Kathryn is a great baker. She made doughnuts, bread, cakes, brownies and cookies for us! I now have this insane desire to bake everything under the sun, and buy absolutely everything from a website she introduced me to, kingaurthurflour.com. Since I got home I've made sun-dried tomato bread, english muffins, have a recipe for apple pie filling to try out and I just want to make some cookies so bad!

It was a great trip! Great Christmas Present! Fabulous way to spend Dave's fall break.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Basement has Officially Paid for itself!

We've officially come to the point where renting the basement has paid for all the renovations we've had to do to make the basement a usable apartment! We thought we would reach this point a lot sooner, but the kitchen ended up costing us twice as much as we planned for (oh the naive calculations of someone that has never before paid for construction). Then we added on a bedroom with a closet and a storage closet which pushed back the break-even day a few more months out.

I'm so glad it's all done! The place looks so much more attractive and updated than it did when we moved in. No more wood panel walls! No more pink wheat-like textured wallpaper! No more super long living room! No more laundry room with ghetto tile left over from the 60's! No more dimmer switch that causes a quick death for energy efficient bulbs! No more not working golden intercom from the library upstairs to the living room downstairs (although due to Dave's fascination with it, we still have it)! No more peach ceilings!!!

We really didn't mind most of it, but it's nice to have everything more up to date. Our upstairs area was updated and completely renovated by the previous owner a year or so prior to our moving in. So it's like we now have a brand new house. We probably wouldn't have made these changes for another 10+ years if we didn't find family to rent to, so that was a blessing!

Monday, September 27, 2010

We leave in 11 days?!?

I realized Dave and I take off for Fall break in 11 days! What?!? Where did September go to? I haven't started packing, or even made a list of items to pack. I have moved my swim suit to my dresser as a constant reminder to pack and have two borrowed wet suits in the coat closet just waiting for the suit case. I haven't put together a schedule of what things we definitely want to do while we're out there (but when the beach is so close, do you really need to plan?).

We found killer air fair to North Carolina a few months ago. Since my Aunt Kathryn and Uncle Emil live 45 minutes from the beach, we decided to make a trip our early Christmas present this year! My friend Kirby works for Enterprise Rent a Car, so we're getting a discount on the car rental, and with room and board being covered by staying with Kathryn & Emil, everything is completely manageable.

So far I have a few must do's on the list: Visit Nag's Head, Cape Hatteras, Jockey's Ridge, Ocracoke (over night camping trip on the beach), and for Dave Busch Gardens. I can't believe that an amusement park is his #1 thing to do, but what can you do? It would also be nice to see if we could find the Shipwrecked (a cheesy tourist shop we would always stop at when I was a kid for beach souvenirs), and maybe even "get myself a Dune Burger". Just to say we did. I've also been toying with the idea of buying a hammock while we're out there, because they have the best ever... but I remember them being expensive... so we'll see if it fits into our budget or not.

So this week? I have big plans to finish the shelves in the basement, Conference this weekend (party at the Browns)... and next week pack for our trip at the end of the following week!!! By then we'll definitely be in need of a break! I'm really hoping it all falls into place...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September is just flying by!

Life has been so hectic and fast passed lately that I just can't fathom it being the end of September! Already! Tomorrow is the first day of fall. I have no idea where all the time went to... but it's gone, and I've got to prepare for October. I planned on making a new Halloween costume for this year, but it's a good thing this ward hasn't seen my Alice in Wonderland costume yet, so I can get away with wearing it once again.

So many things that should be done! I have a new crock pot recipe book that I haven't even tried out (if Dave knew I was sitting on that pesto lasagna recipe it might just end our marriage). The closet in the basement should be done (but due to problem after problem it's still not). I haven't canned salsa or apple sauce, and I wanted to do something with our nectarines... but just haven't had the time yet!

But I did help host a baby shower for my sister-in-law. It went well and was actually pretty fun! Maybe it has something to do with how laid back her and her family are. Maybe it had something to do with all the food. But mostly I'm sure it had to do with the lack of silly games and cheesy decorations. I'm just not that kind of girl, and fortunately neither is she! So bring on the baby! She's due October 10th, and we leave for a trip to North Carolina October 8th (happy early Christmas to us). So we're hoping she's a week early!

Now to plan the trip to NC... at least it's a more fun "to do"!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Roam Around Around Around Around!

We've been doing a lot of travel lately. I think it has something to do with Dave trying to squeeze in as much summer as possible before he gets deep into school work. Two weeks ago we were out at the Great Basin National Park in Nevada. It was a nice break! We arrived around 10:00 at night (we would have gotten there a lot sooner, but I had work emergencies). It was raining and we couldn't find a ranger or a map to direct us to the camp sites.

Finally we turned onto a residential "No Trespassing" road and ran into a ranger that gave us directions. So we set up camp in the rain, lit our pillow on fire, and knocked over our propane lantern messing up the little burner pockets. We were grateful for our air mattresses, because even if our tent leaked we probably wouldn't have gotten too wet. The night was filled with thunder and lightning, but we were snug and didn't get soaked after all.

The rest of the trip was great! We explored the caves (guided by a park ranger with a group of 20), we got ice cream at the lodge, hiked up to a glacier, summited Wheeler's Peak (aka Death March, the tallest one on the right of the picture below), and did every hike that didn't require us to do over night backpacking. The verdict? The cave was gorgeous and definitely worth the trip, but the hiking trails in Zion's is better.

Which leads me to our trip last weekend. We headed down to Zion's with Dave's family! Since everyone's interests are a little different we all participated in various activities including: The Narrows, Emerald Pools, Angel's Landing, Peach Days (in Hurricane), visiting Grandma and Grandpa Yoder and Great Aunt Dorris, having fires in the yard, and just relaxing. 

Also there was a farm by Grandma's house that was letting people come pick 200 lbs of free peaches per family. I guess they were done with their harvesting. So while I helped mom clean up the house, some of the family went to pick and got some for us. So we will spend this weekend canning, freezing, and eating peaches! I've decided I want to do peach slices, and I told Angela I would teach her how to make jelly. Sheila and Alison borrowed my canning water bath yesterday to make peach slices themselves, and both Dave's mom and my mom plan to do some canning as well.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Is Life Moving at a Fast Forward Pace?

I realized last night I never posted a picture of our painted fire place! It was off white brick before with red mortar. Not very attractive to say the least. So Dave primed and primed and primed the thing (with colored primer). When I was in New York he painted a final coat and textured each brick slightly different so it had a more natural brick appearance (instead of looking just painted). We got this idea from Mike and Allison. They painted their brick fireplace white, and it turned out really nice. Since Dave's wanted an accent wall in the living room and I didn't, we decided a darker accent fireplace would be our compromise.

Over the next two weeks I'm working on finishing up the closet in the bedroom (installing a closet rail, building a top shelf above the rail, installing a few shelves inside the closet), finish painting the closet and bedroom doors, and finishing the bookshelf in the bedroom. I've made a list of all the supplies needed (I'll buy most of them tomorrow night, and the rest after we get paid on the 15th), and I've have several picture game plans set and ready to implement! After that all we have to do is build shelving in the living room storage closet, but I've decided that will have to wait until next summer. We're completely out of money with Dave's tuition coming due this month on top of construction bills.

Sunday night we picked up our year supply of wheat! Mike and Alison found a killer sale at Macey's grocery store (50 lbs for $8), so we asked them to purchase enough for us to make 2.5 loaves of wheat bread a week for a year. That's more than we currently eat in a week, so it should be enough for us and for a few kids. Now we just have to purchase a few crates to put it in! I buy the large tubs and the unscrew-able lids for storing all our grain. They're the best! The lids are $6 a piece, but well worth it. I'm thinking these tubs will end up being a Christmas gift to us... We're on a super tight budget right now, so we can wait until December!

I also started writing my life story about a month ago. I decided to put it in blog format, so if I get something wrong, people can tell me before I finalize it (for example, I can't remember when Heather was born what was wrong, I only remember she was sent to a special hospital). Eventually when I'm old and senile I'll probably have it printed and bound for my kids or something. We'll see when the time comes! I'm not great at keeping journals, so this will be the story of my life in replacement of the journal. Read it and let me know if you remember something differently than I do http://aplastowpast.blogspot.com/.

In other news... I had a company retreat Friday night to Saturday up at Snowbird. The company had a speaker come out in the morning, a service project in the afternoon (building bikes for the underprivileged in the Salt Lake area), our families came up for dinner, and the company paid for all of our hotels for the night and breakfasts in the morning.

The most exciting part of the trip? It's probably a tie between being stuck in an elevator for 20 minutes and having it drop 3 times (a total of 1 floor worth of drop-age), or heading down to the hot tub after dinner in our swimsuits and having the CEO and CFO and wives join us on the elevator. I've never been so embarrassed in a while. Maybe awkward is a better word for it. But Dave shoved me in the corner and stood in front of me so I wouldn't be easily visible (good job Dave). It wouldn't have been so bad if we weren't in our swim suits!

We're heading to Zion's with Dave's family for the Labor Day weekend. Since none of them have hiked in Zion, we're excited to get to share one of our favorite vacation spots with them! It should be a nice, relaxing weekend.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Don't you want to feed us tomorrow?

We received a weird phone call last night. Technically we didn't even receive it, Dave's brother Blaine did, but I'll explain the background first. Dave has wanted to invite a family from the ward over for some time now. He thinks the husband is a great guy, and wanted me to have the opportunity to get to know the wife as well. He mentioned this to the husband a few weeks ago, although due to our INSANE schedule recently we haven't had the time to extend an actual offer.

Last night Dave's brother Blaine knocks on the door saying this family was calling and wanted to know if they could come over for dinner the following day, or would Friday work better? What?!? Because they are a family of 6 I probably wouldn't have invited them to dinner in the first place. We don't have a kitchen table big enough to seat all these people. I probably would have invited them over for games and dessert. AND because they called Blaine rather than us they now have invited them too and I'm supposed to feed 8 people the following night... oh, did I mention that I've been out of town (on business followed by a camping trip) for the past week? We don't even have milk in the house, let alone enough of the same one dinner for 10 people!!! I can't just skip work so I can shop for food and create a culinary masterpiece.

So I told Blaine to tell them we couldn't do Friday (I have a work retreat we've already committed to) and they could come over for games the following night (tonight) if they wanted. They're coming over soon and bringing treats. Now I just have to clean up the tornado that is our house so we have somewhere to play said games. Not that I want to entertain when I should be grocery shopping, cleaning, etc... but I feel a little forced into this. I guess I'd rather just get it over with than have it looming over my head until I feel obligated to invite them over or until they feel like inviting themselves over again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Basement is almost DONE!

We've been working like crazy to get everything done before Dave goes back to school on the 23rd. Since I'm currently sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to take off for New York City, and right after we get back we'll be heading out on a camping trip in Great Basin National Park, what that really means is we wanted to be done by today...

The length of the hallway you can see in the picture is the length of the bedroom closet and the living room storage closet. We want to put shelves in the storage closet in the living room, and hanger space and maybe some shelves in the bedroom. We'll see. We're going to take a little break before we decide what exactly we're going to do in there. I'm so exhausted right now that if I had to decided it would just end up being a clothes hanger pole and that would be it! So better to rest and decide later.

We're not entirely done, but we're pretty dang close! We painted, installed the trim, and put in the Living Room closet doors this week. The trim still needs to be patched (where we shot nail holes into the wall & at the corners), the edge of the trim needs to be caulked, we need to paint the existing door trim, paint the closet doors, install a piece of trim above the closet doors (to cover the device that moves them), and finish painting the fire place.

Dave decided the old off white brick with red mortar between them was not the best look for our new room. Now that I've seen the primed base, I agree that a medium brown does look better with the room. So he will be working on these things while I'm at Affiliate Summit in New York City Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully he can finish them up so we don't have to stress over them while Dave's in school.

I'm so proud of all the work we've done, and can't wait to show you pictures of the fireplace when it's done and the bedroom. The color in the bedroom was supposed to be a light tan color, but ended up looking like a light gray on the walls. Not what we expected, but it still looks good!

One more picture because it makes me happy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happy Annaversary!

Sunday was our second anniversary! I  made Dave breakfast in bed (lemon poppy seed  muffins), and he picked out a fabulous dinner for us to make together! We did Steak Gorgonzola with Alfredo sauce and linguine with asparagus and fresh bread dipped in oil and balsamic vinegar. And we have leftovers that are calling my name.

Our time together has been the best! A few of the highlights are:

1. We survived our first year together in an apartment that never really cooled down, even in the winter. That's what you get for staying in a place that is heated with a boiler and cooled with a swamp cooler.
2. We spent our first Christmas together in Hawaii! Nothing says Christmas like palm trees and snorkeling.
3. Our first house was purchased a year ago, we immediately added a kitchen to the basement and started renting it out to Dave's brother and sister-in-law (renting to family is the best!)
4. We got to visit Glacier National Park. We could happily move there some day, maybe when we retire.
5. We had a dog in the family for two weeks. It was enough of work that we realized we're not ready for that kind of commitment at this time
6. We planted our first garden (tomatoes, green peppers and raspberries). Although we didn't get as many fruits, veggies as we had hoped, it was fun and we'll try again next year.
7. We got a free barbecue! Dave's loved entertaining this summer with it
8. We're in the process of adding a bedroom and a large storage closet to the basement apartment! Not only will it up the value of the home, but if we rent it out to non family we can charge about $100 more a month for it (bonus)!
9. We've been to Zion's more times than I can count and enjoyed every minute of it!
10. We're better friends and more in love than we were when we got married

Here's to the next 2 years being just as great!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Basement is Coming Along

Our lives are completely consumed by construction right now! Every night we get home from work, eat, and put in at least a few hours on the bedroom in the basement. Dave spends half a day every Friday by himself working on the basement, and we both put in at least 8 hours every Saturday in.

Two weekends ago we installed all the drywall between Friday (we both had off work), and Saturday. This week has been the week of mud. Next week might also with that title... Mudding takes a long time! It didn't help that we pulled off the wood paneling that covered one of the walls, that we found nothing behind it. We had to drywall the entire wall and mud it together. We've also completed the electric this week, which is so good to have done. We put in a light, moved the light switch to the other side of the new doorway, and replaced all the off white plugs with white ones.

Next we'll have to sand down all the mudding we've done, prime the walls, paint the walls and the ceiling, install the bedroom and closet doors, paint and install the trim... and build out the closet shelving (which might just wait until Christmas or even next summer). At this point I'm just so exhausted that I don't even want to think about the closets! I've already revised my idea of what we want to do for the bedroom closet so we don't have to do so much work. 

I just can't wait for everything to be done! I'm so tired of construction.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Project Begins!

We started our basement bedroom this weekend! We're planning on adding a bedroom with a closet, and a storage closet for the downstairs living room so Blaine and Angela will be more comfortable with a study for now, and maybe some day a future bedroom for a kid or two. We started by cutting holes in the carpet so we could secure the framing to the floor rather than to the carpet. It was a pain, but didn't take too long.

After that we pieced together 4 different walls (one in two pieces). The biggest challenge we came across was that the ceilings and walls not exactly being level... We found when building the walls it was best to measure both sides and the middle and they would be a inch to two off from the rest. But we made it work! It took about 10 hours to put it all together, and we both walked away with sore muscles and war wounds to show for it, but it was worth it.

This week we'll start on the drywall and move one of the lights from what was the center of the room (now the center of the closet), to the new center of the living room. We're hoping to get this project done before Dave goes back to school (or at least all but the painting). We'll see if we can get it all done in time!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Attack of the APE in Strawberry Fields FOREVER!

 Yes, these beauties are our jars of jam! They make me so happy

A few years ago my brother Michael and my sister Sheila decided ape was an appropriate nickname for apricots. I don't know where it came from, but we had a grand time labeling all the bags of apricots in the freezer "APE". A few weeks ago we noticed our 40 foot tree in the back yard had started to grow some kind of fruit on it. We had no idea it was a fruit tree, it didn't have anything on it last year when we purchased it in the end of July! But this has been a really weird weather year for Utah, so I can see why the timing of everything is a little off this year.

Dave and I headed out for a walk Tuesday night, only to have the largest apricot known to man fall out of the tree in front of us! It was the size of a small peach/nectarine, but it was definitely the smell and taste of an apricot. Looking up at this 40 foot wonder, we realized there was no way in this world we would be able to pick the ripe, top fruits! So we headed off to Home Depot and purchased a fruit picker. It telescopes to about 20 feet, which covers a decent amount of our tree. So we got to work picking.

We probably have picked 30 apricots a day since! That's a lot of fruit for two people, so we made a plan... I decided I wanted to try my hand at apricot jelly, and Dave decided Apricot fruit leather was the way to go. So I found a recipe for each online and started blending and freezing the ripest of our fruit. Dave's mom graciously agreed to teach us how to can jelly on Saturday, and happens to also own a fruit drier, so I did the shopping for the supplies, and off we went!

I remember doing jelly when I was really small, but my mom has since converted to freezer jams. Since Dave and I don't have the freezer space to even add a bag of veggies, I decided the old fashioned canning way would probably be the best choice for us. I found a coupon for $3 off jars, so I used that to purchase a few packs of jelly jars. I debated trying the larger size jars, but there is no way just Dave and I could consume an entire huge jar before it goes bad! So even though the jars cost the same as the big one, we opted for the smaller size.

My dad ended up coming over to pick the top apricots at the same time as we were heading out to can the jelly, so I headed over to Dave's house, and Dave stayed behind to make sure my dad didn't too carried away climbing the tree and fall out (or just to help him)! The canning went well, and the apricot jelly set up nicely!

So I headed home exhausted and laid down for a nap. About an hour later we got a call from my dad asking if we wanted to come pick some strawberries from his patch. They had been out of town all week, and had TONS of berries that were just going to go bad if someone didn't pick them. So we picked about 2 buckets full, and decided to whip up some strawberry jam too!

The strawberries were about the size of grapes for the most part, so it took forever to hull them all... but it was worth it! We made 12 12oz jars, and 10 pint jars worth of strawberry jelly, and still had three cookie sheets of berries left over to freeze for future ice cream and smoothies! And we made the best strawberry waffles with home made whipped cream on top... it was fabulous!

When we got done with the Strawberry jelly Dave asked me to promise we would NEVER do this again... If only he knew this is only the beginning!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

4th of July weekend!

Wall paper removal... do those three words just make you shudder? They were pretty intimidating to me until Monday when we took this first step in adding a bedroom to the basement. We got up at 7 and headed to Home Depot to rent a wall paper steamer. It  made the process so easy! I would recommend the $30 for a full day worth of rental to anyone removing wallpaper. Dave's brother Blaine and his wife Angela helped, and we really figured out a system to remove the top coat, steam the under layer/glue, and wipe down the walls.

For some reason only two of the 4 walls in the basement living room had wallpaper, one has wood paneling (curses!!!), and one is painted a neutral color (not exactly sure what to call it, but it's not white). So we spend Monday morning tearing off the wall paper, removing the nails from the walls, and the random trim box from the ceiling... We're still not sure why there was a random trim box, but we will paint over the affected area when we get into the painting.

Now we're trying to finalize our plans for the bedroom in the basement so we can start putting up the wall and building out the closets. One closet will be for the bedroom, and the other will be a storage closet for the basement living room. Can you ever have too many storage closets? I think not!

Besides our wallpaper removal we had a BBQ, went to the drive in and toured Mt. Timp caves. Since I'd never gone, and Dave hadn't been to the caves since he was about 7, we thought it would be great to see. It was very beautiful,  interesting and informative. I would say well worth our $7 a person. Going to the drive in really isn't my thing (especially because you pay for two movies and are up until 2:00 am to see the last one because you just have to get your money worth)... but the movies were pretty good (Toy Story 2/Prince of Persia).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nothing says Father's Day like a BBQ!

Dave and I are pretty casual when it comes to Father's/Mother's day celebrations. Right now we hit up one of our parent's house a week early, and the other parent's house the week of. But since we are yet to be parents we don't do much as far as our immediate family goes. All we really do is use it as an excuse to buy something frivolous for each other. And it's always nice to get something you don't need at all :)

So for Father's Day this year we worked on fixing up Dave's BBQ. Dave's been desperate for a BBQ since we moved into our house. We have a killer Gazebo that has lights, a ceiling fan, and everything needed for one awesome bbq experience. A few weeks ago my co-worker offered us her BBQ free of charge because she was moving, but it needed a little work (possible gas leak, needed some cleaning and didn't have a propane tank). So for fathers day we bank rolled the fix up project!

It took us around 2 hours to deep clean it (we're very grateful for oven cleaner), and it now looks awesome! Dave did the technical work to fix the leak; he says everything is running smoothly now. We added lava rocks to the inside (not sure why, but I'm told it was necessary), attached the propane tank, and I got some grill utensils and a scrub brush. So Dave was ready for his Father's Day grilling extravaganza!!! All we needed was guests. So we invited Dave's family over for a Father's Day BBQ.

It worked out well, and thanks to our free craigslist picnic table and our $15 DI table and folding chairs (yes, that's $15 total) we had seating and table space enough for everyone! I have a feeling this gift will lead to a plethora of BBQ's this summer. I think the next one due is a Brown family BBQ... Maybe the weekend of the 24th, we'll see!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My 1st Week at Neutron Interactive

My first week working for Neutron Interactive is over! The company is just great, they treat their employees like gold. There are even more benefits than I was aware of when I accepted the job. Not only do they pay your entire families medical bills, they also do dental and basic eye coverage as well. The HR lady said only about 4% of companies now days have this kind of coverage free to their employees. After a year they also will put 5% of your salary away into a 401k  each year. You don't have to match or anything, it's just done for you.

I've never wanted to work after I had kids, but this kind of company makes me wonder if we can work something out so I can work from home full time, or even just go into the office a few days a week for meetings! I know I could pull it off, but it's a conversation that we'll have to have when that challenge arises.

As far as the work, it's good. I love that we're selling post-secondary education! It's something I believe in and advocate, so it's a far easier sell than internet dating was for me. Our Affiliate program is so small right now (only around 7 active affiliates), but that means there is tons of room for growth. I've got some good leads, have had some great conversations, and hope to get traffic flowing soon.

I've also been riding the train to work (since the company will pay for our Trax pass). It only takes a little longer than driving, and I drive a mile east to hit the station. I love that this morning my odometer showed that I had driven 15 miles this week rather than 400 miles (what I was previously driving). Not only will this help the environment, but also our finances! No more filling up twice a week for us!!!

Also this week we got a surprise from Blaine and Angela (Dave's brother & sister-in-law living in our basement). They are pregnant! We promised them when they have a kid we would build out a second bedroom for them, so we've started brainstorming what we want to see. Because the living room space is so huge, we are thinking this bedroom will be the biggest in the house. We want to make it nice so one day it can be our bedroom if we want. Also, we'll probably add a storage closet to the basement as well. We'll keep you posted on our plans and the construction! It feels like we always have a construction project in the summer...

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Yoder Reunion

Last weekend Dave and I headed down to Zion's for my Mom's family reunion (the Yoders). I had been off on a business trip* the night before so I had packed prior to the trip. At the point of packing the weather was supposed to be 80-90 degrees... When we left on Friday morning the whether was threatening to not even get up to 50!

*side note: on the business trip the hotel accidentally gave away my room so they had to upgrade me to a 2,300 square foot suite with 2 living rooms, 2 bathrooms, a jacuzzi tub, 8 flat screen tvs... the works!

Dave and I decided to carpool with my parents (since we were both going and leaving for home at the exact same times), so we all carefully watched the temperature rise as we headed south. By the time we reached the Cabin, the weather had reached a pleasant 70 degrees. So we decided to have a quick jaunt up Angel's Landing with my Uncle Emil, and cousins Emil Michael and Noah.

Even with the 10 year old (Noah), we still made it up and back in 3 hours! We really trucked it, and it was great to get to know them better in the process. It's been great getting to know the aunts and uncles as an adult (a little different than our relationship growing up).  We planned to do some canyoneering over the break as well, but couldn't due to flash flood warnings.

Over all the whole weekend went well and was a great opportunity to get to know the relatives better. I had many conversations with cousins/uncles/aunts that helped me understand them better and grow closer to them. It was a great trip, although I wish we would have taken a day between starting and going back to work. It was rough to jump right into a new job. But the Job is going great! I'll write more about it later...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Business Networking

I’ve been thinking a lot about business networking lately. Because of connections I found out about my current job. Networking helped me in more ways than one procure the job I start in 2 weeks. In the business world it’s all about who you know and what they can do for you/you can do for them.

When I got my soon to be job I sent thank-you cards to my references. Since one is a really busy lawyer I included a Starbucks gift card in his thank-you card (because his time is money). It only took me 10 minutes to write out a thanks, but I can’t believe the responses I’ve received from these people! From Facebook words of encouragement along the lines of “Thank you for taking the time to write and send a hand written letter. I'm very happy to hear that things worked out for you...You totally rock at what you do and deserve the best for it!” to text conversations asking if I would contact the referral once I get settled into my new job to start up an affiliation.

I think what it comes down to is everyone likes receiving mail, and everyone loves being appreciated. Going that extra mile really makes a difference and will help you procure relationships that last beyond the company they were cultivated in. I still receive emails and questions from affiliates I worked with two companies ago, and I still answer their questions to the best of my ability and point them to the person at that company that could better help them. In return I know when the right offer comes my way, these affiliates will be more than happy to try it out.

Also, treat your top partners/business relationships like they are kings/queens. They are what drives your business and bring in the revenue. I’ve sent affiliates $100 Christmas gifts, flown them out to see the company campus, and taken them to expensive restaurants/skiing/snowmobiling, etc (all on the company bill of course). This helps foster more than just a business relationship but also helps the affiliate have a greater commitment to the company and to you.

With everything going on with the economy companies are cutting corners left and right and the schmoozing is one of the first things go. I’m not saying you have to go overboard, but even a Christmas/Holiday card/congrats on your wedding/baby card hand written telling the company/person you appreciated their business and look forward to another year of success will be well received.

Maybe some industries aren’t as inbred as the affiliate world is, but in my industry everyone seems to know everyone else. People can tell when you truly care and go out of your way for them. So if you’ve worked for and impressed some of the big names, your name will go a long way.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A New Job for Me!

Today I was offered a job at Neutron Interactive! I’ve been interviewing with them for almost two months now. I met with 8 different people, some more than once. I even attended a company party to get to know everyone. I’m so excited to get to work with them!

They are an education company (ie, they purchase leads from affiliates and sell them to Universities and Tech schools). I will basically be starting up the affiliate program. They currently only have a spattering of affiliates that send traffic. They are extremely open to new ideas, and I have a ton of ideas already that I want to try out.

I’ll be starting on the 15th (the day after my Mother’s side has a family reunion), but I’ve also been asked to attend a conference the Thursday prior. I guess it’s the biggest education event of the year, and they want me to go as an introduction to the industry and the company. So I’ll be spending one night in Vegas and get to hear Bill Clinton speak (no joke, although I can’t say I’m excited to hear him). I am so excited for the job though!

As far as great perks besides working for a super awesome company… They pay 100% of our medical insurance (didn’t even know that when I accepted), they buy the company lunch every day (hopefully this doesn’t make me gain weight), the commute will only be 15 minutes if I drive (which will cut down on the $40 in gas I’ve been paying weekly) but I plan to take Trax (since another perk is they pay for our Trax passes) and they almost always work 9-5  (as opposed to my current 8 – 5:30). I’m just too excited!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's a bird, it's a plane... nope, they're kittens!

Dave decided that this weekend he was going to power wash off our gazebo and vacuum out the car. He decided this before the weather presented itself a miserable windy rainy forty degrees. But he was determined so he braved the weather to get the job done (as I sat cuddled up in a blanket reading on the couch). When he started spraying down the gazebo he was met with loud cries of protest which he thought must be birds.

He was surprised to find the cries coming from below the gazebo rather than from above. He realized they were kittens, and since getting under the gazebo would be quite the feat, we unscrewed and pulled up one of the boards to get down into the poor miserable little guys! when we finally got in, they were huddled together shivering in a puddle. They were so young that their eyes weren't even open, so they couldn't see to get away from the water.

We pulled them out, dried them off and tried our best to warm them up. We asked the neigbor across the street if they could belong to their cats (which was quite the feat since they are both deaf), and called Sheila to get some cat advice. Fortunately when I went to Petco to get some milk and bottles to feed the little guys I fortunately ran into a lady that runs an animal rescue facility.

She could clearly see I had no idea what to do with these cats! She said if I donated the food and bottle to the agency then she would take them off my hands. I was so grateful especially since I found out you have to feed these little guys every 2 hours day and night! What an adventure for us!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Planned Parenthood is kinda like the Gospel...

I was in Planned Parenthood today picking up what I’m hoping is my last set of birth control before we start our family. I won’t tell you how many months I got, so you can still be surprised when I make an announcement. I went to the Orem/Provo office this time because it’s down the street from my work and I didn’t want to the Sugarhouse (Salt Lake) location this weekend. I should have expected a different dynamic going to the Provo office  than to the Downtown office, but I was caught completely off guard by what I found.

When I go to the Downtown office it’s always packed full of adults (mostly women). It’s always an interesting experience because someone always seems to want to talk to me in the waiting room and discuss their situation and ask for advice (weird, but I try to set a good example). When I walked into the Provo office the waiting room was completely empty. As I filled out my paperwork and waited, slowly a few people trickled in and out.

First a group of three MAYBE 15 year old girls walked in chatting and having a grand time. One girl approached the desk and proceeded to fill out the paper work. From the bits and pieces of their conversation I couldn’t help to overhear I gathered that one was hoping the test wouldn’t show up positive (don’t know if for pregnancy or std’s). I was shocked about how unconcerned these young girls were! I was in Provo for heaven’s sake.

The other group that really caught my eye was another younger girl (certainly in High School) that lined up with a woman that was probably her mother (she looked that age anyway). They were so happy standing in that line waiting for birth controll. I did a ring check and the young woman didn’t have an engagement ring on. I couldn’t help in both of these situations feeling horrible for these girls! What could have gone wrong to lead them here? Why wasn’t the mother of the High School-er freaking out (as I’m sure my Mom would if any of her daughters approached her in High School and asked for a Planned Parenthood escort).

It made me think of the Gospel Doctrine lesion I’m preparing for Sunday. I’m sure you’ll have the lesson yourselves, so to keep it brief there are four “steaks” that hold up a person (like steaks that support a fragile tree from strong wind). What was missing from these girls lives? Was it family example and support? Good friends? How do you get so calloused to a situation that at that age you can appear to not care at all?

As I drove away I was able to think of the positives in this situation. At least there was a place these girls could go to for help (STD and Pregnancy testing, birth control at a reasonable price). At least they had someone they could confide in and could support them through these hard times. Because I was in Provo I assume they are Mormon (which I shouldn’t), but regardless of Religion High Schools in Utah teach only abstinence as an option. So I’m glad that if these girls aren’t living morally clean they at least know they have the option of not bringing a child into this world into their difficult circumstances.

As a side note I’m not condoning abortion, but I do think the other services Planned Parenthood offers are necessary. I avoid the Gyno at all costs (thus the Planned Parenthood trips), so I can’t imagine a High Schooler having to hurdle that obstacle to get help. Even if they shouldn't be having sex, at least they have cheap/free access to contraceptives.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beans in a Pot 16 hours old

I wanted you to see how much these bad boys grow! HOLEY COW they got big. I added a cup, and they looked so lonely in the bottom of the Crockpot, that I added another bag full. They turned out well, and considering how much they grow/how many beans you get for a dollar, a steal of a deal (1.5 bags = 8 cans worth)! I will be doing this again to substitute for the canned ones.

Here's how they're cooked... Remove all shriveled, split or generally gross looking bean. Rinse beans thoroughly with cold water. Add  to the Crockpot bowl. Fill with water 2.5 - 3 inches above the bean line. Let the beans soak for 8 hours (I put them in before I left for work so they probably got 12ish hours of soaking). If you live in a warm climate, place in the fridge to soak so the beans don't grow bacteria.

Rinse out beans and pour out all soaking liquid. Pour back into Crockpot and fill with water 1 - 2 inches above the bean line. Cook beans for 8 hours on low (I did this while we slept, because I knew I would need to use these in a recipe the next day). You can freeze these for up to three months, and I'm told 1.5 cups is the equivalent of 1 can of beans. So I divided these out into 1.5 cup ziplock bags and stuck them in the freezer.

We've used these bad boys to make Black Bean Salsa Chicken, Chicken Enchiladas, and so many great and inexpensive recipes! I would highly recommend crocpot beans to anyone that eats beans.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Stelthy Food Storage Project

In October Dave and I started working on our food storage. I felt we should have something for some reason, and a month later got laid off! Perfect timing, right? But for the first time in our married life I felt the need, and so we started to store. We now have a pantry full of canned food and pastas (being my mother's child, those will probably last us 2 months if needed), and about 6 months worth of the number 10 cans that will last 10 – 20 years (dehydrated will last 10, freeze dried will last 20).

When we stop renting our basement out we can store these easily in the basement kitchen, but for now fitting these boxes of #10 cans in our 1,100 square feet has presented a challenge. I settled for placing them behind the large couch in the living room. Only one person has noticed them since we moved them back there, so I feel pretty good about our stealthy hiding place. See, they’re not noticeable from the front, just from the side.

But from the side you can see that we're stealthily hiding  6 months worth of food for 2

We also have huge tubs of flour, wheat kernels, brown rice, sugar and some jugs of water chilling in our kitchen. For the longest time I just had them sitting in the corner. But last week I got out the leaf for the kitchen table to have guests over to dinner and afterward had a grand idea. What if I used the leaf to make our tubs look like a table/side counter in the kitchen? I don’t usually bake except on weekends, so it’s not like I need to access these supplies regularly. And the only time we need our leaf is when guests eat with us.

So I placed the leaf on top of the tubs, and rummaged through my material to find the curtain I picked up for $4 at Bed Bath & Beyond on clearance (intending to re-cover our living room pillows). The results? Not too shabby if I do say so, and definitely better than tubs chilling in my kitchen! Here’s the finished results, what do you think?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Food Storage is Our Friend

Food storage has really been on my mind lately. Now that we’re gathering it, I’m worried about how to use it. Let’s be honest, if emergency arises I have no idea how to cook dried beans! We very well may starve before I figure it out! And even if an emergency never arises and we don’t need the food, I would like to eventually use it so the money we spent doesn’t go to waste.

I started by learning how to bake bread. Dave’s Aunt & Uncle gave us their old bread maker when they bought a new one, so I felt a little more comfortable with the idea than just going at it. I’ve now perfected the art of white bread, learned how to make pita bread and after 4 gross attempts I’ve finally tweaked a wheat bread recipe to be fabulously light and fluffy just like a white bread. It’s moist and everything. We’ve actually stopped buying bread at the store because this is so much better tasting and health wise since we’re grinding the wheat fresh.

So my next food storage challenge, dried beans! I’ve been putting off the beans for a while because, well they’re beans. I don’t love beans. But they make up a good amount of our food storage, so I better learn to use them, right? I’ve searched the internet for how to cook them, and the reason I haven’t tried before now is because everyone and their dog recommends a pressure cooker for this process. I don’t have a pressure cooker, nor do I really see the need. What will I really use it for besides cooking dried beans?

But while I was browsing a Crockpot Recipe site Sheila recommended to me for dinner ideas, I stumbled upon how to cook your beans in the Crockpot! This lady even tell you how to make re-fried beans (we actually eat these). And the directions just seemed too simple to not try. So I’ve purchased a bag of dried beans, and I’ll let you know how it goes! I have high hopes for our food storage if this works out. Just don’t ask me how we’ll use our food storage if the power goes out. I don’t want to think about it!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Books, Books and More Books!

I’m addicted to books. Buying, reading, storing, really anything having to do with all of the above! I just love taking a reading break and finding myself in places and situations that I will never have the opportunity to experience in real life. I love the twists and turns that plots take and how the characters have to step up to the plate or the world could end.

Last weekend was the Salt Lake City Public Library book sale. I was up at 5:30 on a Saturday because I was too excited to sleep anymore. So I hit up the book sale and walked away with $20 worth of books. Which isn’t so bad, until you realize the books were $0.50 for paper backs and $1.00 for hardbacks.

We don’t have room for these books. In fact we already have our shelves packed two books deep, with a huge stack of books on the ground in the living room. So why did I insist on buying more and increasing the problem? Because I have a dream of Ikea bookshelves!

Dave and I (mostly the latter) have a dream of having a wall of bookshelves in the Living Room. I want the ones that have cabinet doors on the bottom to keep little hands from one day messing with things. I’ve picked out the color and the handles, even the lighting that will stretch across the top to illuminate these wonders. And so I keep buying books and one day will have a place to put them!

Friday, April 16, 2010

In which we discuss how crunchy I am

Only recently I’ve realized I’m a little crunchy. You know granola? Don’t worry, I still shower and shave my legs, but I do little things to conserve energy and the environment. Here are a few examples:

  • I wash and re-use our ziplock bags until they get a hole,  slice through them, or until they are used on meat
  • Our trashcan is the same size as our recycle-can, and they’re right beside each other in the kitchen
  • We bought an energy star fridge for the basement apartment, and when our upstairs fridge dies, we plan to replace that with an energy efficient fridge
  • When we moved into the house we replaced all our inside bulbs with energy efficient bulbs
  • I bake all our bread so we get the raw nutrients in the natural wheat that I grind myself
  • We use organic brown rice for everything
  • We plan to grow our own tomatoes to make our own salsa
  • I’m excited to make our apricots into Apricot Jelly this fall
  • I want raspberry bushes so we can make raspberry jelly too
  • We shop at Thrift stores and like it
  • I plan to put our kids in cloth diapers
  • I lust after my Grandparent’s water saver washing machine, I think about it at least every time I wash clothes

Which leads me to my next crazy/granola idea: I want to put up a clothesline on our gazebo. Now I know that the best clotheslines are in direct sunlight, but I don’t want one in the middle of our already small yard. I also thought it would be convenient to have it under the gazebo because all we have to do is put in some rings, string it up, and it’s done! No installing poles in cement. Also, when it rains, I don’t have to freak out and quickly pull down all the already wet clothes. It just sounds like a great way to save a little more energy.

I don’t think I’ll put this project into effect until I’m no longer working, but we’ll see. I would love to save power now, but I don’t like the idea of hanging them up after washing on Wednesday nights and leaving them up until I get home from work the next day. But then again, it’s out of the way, it probably won’t be a problem, and I don’t think the bachelor neighbor next door will want to steal our clothes!

Also, eventually I need to decide how many rungs I’ll need to install to have enough space for all our clothes, and how much clothesline to buy. I’m thinking 6 on each side will do. I’ve read all about this on different sites, so I’m feeling pretty confident. It would be great if we could stop using the drier all together, but we’ll see!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Fish Experiment: Fillets and Spinach with Balsamic Vinagrette

I lost a lot of my fishy steam over the past few weeks. I decided Sunday it was time to dive back in again. When I went to the freezer I discovered that we only had 3 pieces of fish left! I thought it was rather fishy (I kill myself) since we should have had 8 pieces left. I think Dave and Cheyenne must have secretly cooked the fish Fridays while I was at work.

This recipe is FABULOUS! The Balsamic Vinegrette dressing hides almost all of the fishy taste, and is fabulous in and of itself. So fish lovers and haters, give it a whirl!

1 lb Fresh or frozen tilapia filets (cut 1 inch thick)
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves 1/4 medium onion (cut into wedges)
1 medium red or yellow sweet pepper (cut into thin strips)
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. honey

In a large skillet cook 1 onion in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, or until tender and slightly golden. Add sweet peppers; cook and stir for 1 minute more.

Remove from heat, blot with paper towel, and mix with spinach in 4 separate bowls. Meanwhile, sprinkle fish with salt and black pepper.

In the same large skillet cook fish with remaining 2 tablespoons hot oil over medium heat for 4 minutes. Carefully turn fish. Cook fish 3 minutes more or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork. Place fish on top of spinach mixture.

For vinaigrette, in a small bowl stir together balsamic vinegar and honey. Add to skillet. Cook and stir until heated through, scraping up any browned bits. Spoon vinaigrette over fish and spinach mixture (I cut up the fish before hand, because it sounded more eater-friendly).

So that's the last of the fish experiments. I've decided although I don't like fish in the least, I probably should eat and cook it more often. It is healthy after all... So eventually more will come. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Rain gutters save the day!

We had our rain gutters installed yesterday (horary for tax returns to finance them)! I feel so old and responsible when I get excited for something like rain gutters, but I really am ecstatic. Several problems were occurring because of our lack of gutters that this magically cured. First, when the rain falls off the roof it has been digging a trench in our flower beds on both sides of the house. This means I haven’t been able to plant our bulbs that we purchased yet, because every time it rained a trench would mess everything up. Second, at the far right side of the car port the run off rain was flowing down our only section of wooden fence causing it to grow mold. Gross, and not very good for the fence. I’m sure eventually we’ll have to take this wood out and replace it, but why not wait until later if possible? I called three places to come out and give us bids, Dave walked through the bid process with the contractors and selected one.My Grandparents just had their rain gutters installed in Hurricane, so we asked them around what price they had paid to get a feel for what we were getting ourselves into (their house is larger, so we were hoping to pay less than the $1,000 they paid for theirs). I was surprised with the different approach to this process. The first bidder gave us the best price ($530 for the whole house and car port), but he failed to plan for the electrical wires coming out of the back of the house, thus the need for a spout off each side of the back of the house. I mentioned this need when I called in, so he clearly should have been aware of it, even if he happened to not see the monstrosity of electric wiring. His lack of judgment kicked him out of the war for our money The second man’s bid was about $100 more than the first, but he not only mentioned the need for two rain gutters on the back, but also pointed out a need on the car port that we didn’t recognize ourselves. The final bid was $200 more than the second man, seemed equally competent, but couldn’t install for two weeks. Needless to say we chose man #2. What interests me the most, is that the economy is doing bad right now, each company has acknowledged that not only is this a slow time of year for them, but they’re doing especially bad for the season. You would think we would get competitive bids, and that they would be chomping at the bid to give the best assessment and do the best job possible! Oh well, we got our gutters and that’s what matters

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Easter Husky has come!

A week ago Cheyenne became our foster-dog! My Uncle James and Aunt Rebeccah Brown were re-stationed from Colorado to Washington, and won’t be able to start renting a home with a yard for the dog until their house in Colorado sells. So Dave and I agreed to take care of Cheyenne for a while. It took a little time for her to adjust, but now that she’s gotten used to Dave and I she seems a lot happier.

Dave and I are at work or school for the majority of the day, so Cheyenne spends the most of her time in the back yard. I’ve opened up the kids play house for her to seek shelter from the rain and snow. She has a queen size feather blanket in one corner that I found for free on Craigslist, food, water, and toys. But her favorite part about the back yard are the neighborhood cats!

We have two that live across the street along with two other dogs. Since they’ve been around dogs they are curious enough to keep coming back. When I come home and Cheyenne won’t come when I call chances are she’s watching one of the cats up our tree, on top of our shed, or perched on the play house staring down at her.  They like to watch each other (Cheyenne doesn’t bark, so I’m sure that helps the situation).

We’ve taken her over to Dave’s parent’s house to play with their black lab, Bailey. They seemed to enjoy tearing around the house and yard together. Every once in a while Bailey would bark because Cheyenne wasn’t paying enough attention to him. Oh dogs! What a mess they can be.

We purchased and installed some baby gates to keep her out of places she shouldn’t be in, and keep her out of trouble at night time. Here’s a picture of Cheyenne in our front entry way converted into Cheyenne’s bedroom. She likes her bed and will just go lay down if it gets too late at night and we haven’t gone to bed yet. She’s really good about laying down and not being too loud when the time comes to go to sleep.

Here comes the challenge... She periodically likes to dig in the yard! Any suggestions on what we can do to get her to stop?!? We've trained her to stay off the couches, keep out of the bedroom, even stay with me in the front yard when I'm weeding or head to the car or back yard by herself... but where to start training her not to dig... I think she's bored because we leave her home alone Monday through Thursday from 7am to 6pm. Any recommendations would be very helpful!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

One Man's Trash is Amy's Treasure!

Two weekends ago I went Antiquing with my Mom, Aunt Rebeccah, sister Sheila, Dave, and two of our friends that got stranded at the airport (DeLenna and Brandon). DeLenna and Brandon didn’t really have a choice but to come, because the shop was on the way, and Dave wanted to help me pick out a stained glass window. So I had much help in our search for the perfect window hanging!

My Mom and Aunt arrived first and scouted out the place. Sheila and I arrived second and really got to work! I was climbing behind dressers and wardrobes and sifting through broken glass and other items just to find the perfect piece for our kitchen. I was completely covered in dust and dirt, but in my insane pursuit I was able to find about 15 smaller stained glass windows that I liked. By that time Dave, De and Brandon arrived to help make the final decision.

Because the prices were so low (and I had unknown money from missingmoney.com), we ended up getting one for the kitchen and one for the bedroom.

After we brought them home we decided if we were going to put up curtains (which we’ve been wanting to do for privacy since we moved in), now would be the time. So last weekend we went out and bought curtain rods for the kitchen and bedroom (thanks Ross for selling $7 a piece curtain rods, even if they’re not the cutest!), and curtains for the kitchen (we had the bedroom curtains from our apartment, we just hadn’t hung them up). Yesterday we got the one in the kitchen up! Here are the killer results:

For the kitchen I wanted it to match the green paint which the green, yellow, and blue glass does exactly!

I’m completely in love with both of these windows! Don’t they just complete the room? And to think, in England they're tearing these windows out because they want a more modern look! What are the British thinking?!?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

To Eliminate Stress - 1 part good food, 10 parts ZION's!

Zion's was just the break we needed! Dave thought it would be nice to cook all kinds of fabulous dinners while we were down there, so we came with the fixings for Chicken Enchiladas, Pesto & Pasta, Chicken Parmesan, and eggs with sausage (for breakfast one day). I convinced him that we could eat leftovers for some of the nights. I had to work a half day, so on the way home I picked up In-N-Out (Dave's FAVORITE fast food). We ate that, packed up our stuff and hit the road!

Mom & Dad came down that night as well. They needed to prune the apple trees at the cabin and get a little work done around the house. Saturday morning Dave helped  my Dad with the pruning, my Mom worked on some inside projects, and I worked on a few projects of my own. We hiked the Watchman Trail after lunch. Neither Dave nor I had done it before, and we were impressed by the view. We plan to do it again some time when the plants are more green (well, as green as the desert can be). Here's a picture of the view from the top:

Sunday we headed down to Hurricane for church, lunch, and some serious hearts! It was great to see Grandma & Grandpa: they're looking great, and we had tons of fun. Dave just loves my grandparents, and enjoys getting to know them better. He hasn't been very close to his Grandparents, so it's nice for him to have that type of relationship with mine.

Monday we hiked Emerald Pools and the Overlook Trail in the morning. I think every time we go to Zion's we hike Emerald Pools, but the Overlook Trail was new to us. It's right after the tunnel and goes up, through a cave and again has a great view! As you're heading up the trail you can see one of the slots below (I believe it's Pine Creek, but it's been a while since I've done that one). It was just what we needed to get out there and hike like crazy!

Tuesday we tried to hike the Sand Bench. It's about a 6 mile trail that should take 4 hours to complete. Most of the trails in Zion are clearly marked, when you come to a fork in the road. Sand Bench is not. We got an hour into the hike and the trail split into 3 paths. I said the middle one looked correct, Dave chose the one veering right. I'm still not sure which trail was the correct one, but after following the right trail for 3 HOURS without finding the loop around that was described in the guide book, we decided we had picked the wrong trail.

This path lead us up hill on a completely sandy trail. It's tough to hike up hill in sand! It really made our calves burn, but the view at the end was beautiful! Because the snow is melting right now you could see a waterfall at the top of the mountain in front of us, and if you turned around you got a up close view of the Court of the Patriarchs. Beautiful, but not what we thought we were getting ourselves into!

It was just so beautiful and so relaxing!!! We needed a break from school and work so bad, and this gave us exactly the break we needed. Thanks Zions!