31 July 2012

July Chronicle

I never thought I would say that I'm happy this month is over, but I'm happy this month is over.  It started off in the thoroughs of our second business and the pace never faltered.  Although the list this month isn't exciting, there was always something going on.

  • I wasn't home much through the 4th.  Late nights and early mornings, but we had a good year.  I woke on the 5th and cleaned house and then headed to the casino for a little entertainment.
  • We planned on hosting a fireworks party, but it got rained out, I'm happy to say.  
  • Checked out the lake again and found a few potentials.
  • Took my favorite girls to the farm for a picnic and to ride the ranger around.
  • I booked our excursions for Alaska.  When first asked what my grandmother would like to do in port her response was bungee jumping...and she was dead serious.  
  • Found a new local Thai restaurant.
  • Took friends out for dinner and celebrated the purchase of their first home. 
  • Had a pool party.
  • Spent a lot of time cleaning and preparing for travel this month. 
  • Road trip to Nebraska to spend time with parents and my brother. 
  • While on said road trip, I tubed with my mom. 
  • Took an Alt Summit class.  Very impressed with this resource.
  • Had my six month check up at the dentist.  I passed.  No cavities.  
  • I did not host a July 4(for) Green Acres challenge this month.  I was just too exhausted to get it pulled together.  
  • I did start several projects, but my favorite were making friendship bracelets.
  • This sweet girl, who stayed with us at the beginning of month, sent her mom to to stay with us at the end of the month! We had a great visit.
  • I started training someone at the office to take over my position.  I'm working on number 12 on this list.
  • Movies: People Like Us
  • In the garden - I'm doing my best to keep everything from roasting in the sun.  My garden is about finished for the summer, but I'm already thinking about what I'll be planting for the fall.  

30 July 2012

Road Trip || Through the Great Plains to Home

{Sign reminiscent of a road trip to Colorado}
Last weekend we drove home.  That is, I mean, to my parents house in Nebraska which will always be home in my heart.  The trip is about 14 hours, give or take.  We decided to road trip it because, let's face it, TSA is a nightmare and who really wants to be seen naked or groped by a stranger?  With a little extra time on our hands we hit the road for the back country and avoided all interstates.  I have a yearning to see the belly of this country before it completely surrenders to Wal-Mart and Dollar General.  
{windmill museum somewhere in Oklahoma}
We started out heading west first and then North.  This took us through the cotton fields of Texas, the oil fields of Oklahoma, the plains of Kansas, and finally the sand hills of Nebraska.  This country is beautiful.  Despite the drought, which we heard about on every stop, the friendliness of the people and the slower way of life makes me question living in the burbs.  There seems to be a secret I'm missing out on here.

{vintage washing machine}
We leisurely meandered through lazy little towns, some vibrant and others on the verge of extinction.  We practiced our one finger wave. We stopped at the old Nocona Boot Factory, antique shops in Oklahoma, and sped on past the multiple CAFO's in Kansas.  I'm sorry to say this Kansans, but the western half of your state stinks.  

With the convenience of technology, we read up on every point of interest on my iPad.  Driving for us is also an education.  I look forward to sharing some of our finds in the next few weeks.

{Wauneta Roller Mills}
After resting our heads in Garden City, Kansas, again smelling like everything but a garden, we finished the trip and started to see familiar points of interest from my childhood as we rolled into Nebraska.

We met my parents for lunch at the stock yards.  Strange place for a cafe, I know, and after being repulsed by the CAFO's already, I opted for a non-beef option.  A side note of plea:  Eat beef that isn't manufactured in a feedlot. 

{Lake McConaughy}
My parents were the reason for our road trip.  Although I've been back to Nebraska on several different occasions, I hadn't been to my hometown or spent time alone with my parents in quite some time.  They recently purchased a 1985 Cheetah boat and we decided to camp at Lake McConaughy on the beach.  Already avid campers, they set up the Montana right in the sand, 10 feet from the water.  The perfect place to rest and catch up.     

The boat is in phenomenal shape.  Almost as if it hasn't been touched.  I almost thought I need to be wearing one of these just to ride in it.

My parents have gotten adventurous with age.  My mom and I ended up tubing!  Yes, my 50 something mother got on a tube, behind the boat.  I have the coolest mom ever.  No doubt her grandchildren will feel the same. 

My parents were not the only family I wanted to see while I was in the area.  I also had plans to visit my brother and my two favorite boys.  It's hard watching his family grow from a distance and I cherish the time I do get to spend with them.

Preston is a fan of John Deere so when I found this bike in April I knew he would love it.  Aunts are supposed to spoil their nephews, right?  This is his first bike and I don't think he's gotten off of it since I gave it to him. 

Tucker boy is walking and talking, and I'm amazed at how much he has grown.  He defiantly loves his daddy, and so do I. 

A farmers job is never ending, and so during our visit we headed out to help my brother do a little irrigating.  Ok I just took a bunch of photos and watched him work, but I think he was still happy I was there. 

{oreo cow}
Unfortunately the trip had to come to an end.  I'd had about all the sand I could handle and work, house chores, and my cats were anxiously awaiting my return.  The drive home didn't go without adventure however. 

{Dodge City, Kansas}
{Turner Falls, Oklahoma}
We stopped in Dodge City, Kansas and Turner Falls, Oklahoma.  Two very interesting places to visit if you ever get the chance.  I want to leave you with a quote cc sent to me the other day.  Although it speaks of international travel, it's relevant to road tripping because I do believe that we are slowly moving away from the heart of our fundamental values.  Convenience and bulk buying have taken over our culture and in a way, has made us forget what a simplistic life looks like.  And by simple, I mean full of value, close to home.  I encourage anyone to get out of the airport, and off the interstate to see what we are founded on.  It may just change your perspective.

I beg young people to travel. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Take a summer, get a backpack and go to Delhi, go to Saigon, go to Bangkok, go to Kenya. Have your mind blown. Eat interesting food. Dig some interesting people. Have an adventure. Be careful. Come back and you’re going to see your country differently, you’re going to see your president differently, no matter who it is. Music, culture, food, water. Your showers will become shorter. You’re going to get a sense of what globalization looks like. It’s not what Tom Friedman writes about; I’m sorry. You’re going to see that global climate change is very real. And that for some people, their day consists of walking 12 miles for four buckets of water. And so there are lessons that you can’t get out of a book that are waiting for you at the other end of that flight. A lot of people—Americans and Europeans—come back and go, Ohhhhh. And the light bulb goes on.

–Henry Rollins

26 July 2012

DIY Quick and Easy Summer Bracelets

Summer is for celebrating friendships.  One way I like to express friendships is through bracelets and necklaces that you make and give to another person.  

When I went through my grunge stage as a summer camp counselor I wore every gift of friendship I received, as you can see in the photo above.  I had friends from Brazil, New Zealand, and Austrailia that made me something to wear.  Campers and friends expressed their love and respect through bracelets and necklaces and I adorned my body with all of them.  

I still love friendship bracelets, although my tastes have changed.  I will no longer wear a bracelet on each arm or ankle, but they bring back memories of a few really great summers with very beautiful relationships.  The process of making them holds a special place in my heart.  

When this beautiful girl came into town for a visit, I decided I'd teach her how to make friendship bracelets since she was special to me.  There are a variety of methods, but we went for quick and easy.  I especially like the idea of using old buttons.  There is no knot tying or technique and they are easy to change out.  

Using this visual tutorial we made these bracelets using charms.  She had a circular charm and I went for a hammered, industrial looking bar.  I chose to knot mine on the end versus making a loop to take it on and off.  I knew I would wear it all summer as a reminder of our friendship.  Get inspired to make one by checking out other ideas from Pinterest.  

20 July 2012

Make Coffee Cubes for a Caffeine Perk

Coffee has its perks.  Not only is a cup of coffee a morning ritual for most people, it surprisingly has healthy benefits when consumed in moderation.  The problem is, this time of year most people are experiencing a major heat wave, and the thought of a hot cup of coffee sounds uninteresting.  It's possible to enjoy your energy boost by making an iced coffee, but traditional ice cubes will only water down your joe.  

Instead of throwing out what coffee you have left in the pot, simply pour the remainder in an ice tray and freeze.  When you're ready to make your iced coffee you'll be able to drink it chilled without losing any of the robust flavor. 

Still need a reason to drink coffee?  Here are five.

1|  Sore muscles from exercise or yard work?  Caffeine from two cups of coffee has been found to reduce muscle soreness.  

2|  Daily coffee (without sugar) drinkers are about 25% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

3|  Need help with short-term memory?  Caffeine boosts brain power and helps to increase memory.

4|  Forget berries, coffee is a great source of antioxidants that help protect your body from deadly diseases such as stroke.  

5|  It may help reduce your risk of developing some cancers.  A study has shown that coffee drinkers are 50% less likely to get liver cancer than non-coffee drinkers.

**information based on consuming 2-3 cups of coffee daily

18 July 2012

Seasonal Frittata


Ever since I read Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle frittatas have become a staple in my meal plan.  Kingsolver writes about year in the life of her family when they relied solely on what they could grow or find locally.  Meals had to be creative.

What I love about the frittata is its versatility and simplicity.  It can be made for any meal with any ingredient.  It's perfect for meatless meals because the eggs are so filling.  This is the best time of year to make them and I'm really looking forward to using my zucchini, peppers, and onions for this spicy version I found in Whole Living.



2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh corn kernels
Coarse salt
8 large eggs


Heat broiler. In a medium ovenproof (preferably cast-iron) skillet, heat oil over medium heat and cook onion and jalapeno, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and corn and cook until tender, about 7 minutes more. Season with salt.

In a bowl, whisk eggs with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pour into skillet with vegetables. Cook until sides are just beginning to set, 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer skillet to oven and broil until just set in the middle and lightly golden and puffed on top, 2 to 3 minutes.

*recipe directly from Whole Living

16 July 2012

Mid Year Review

January always brings excitement.  There is a fresh year in front of me and the slate is clean.  I am a planner, list maker, and big time dreamer so at the beginning of every year I sit and make a list of all the things I want to do in the 365 days ahead of me.  Some of my goals are lofty, others ridiculous, and several uninteresting, but I do it without fail.

This year I posted a 12 in 2012 list and chose ACTION as my word of the year.  I intentionally chose a verb because I needed a push move beyond musing.  With that said, I'm forcing myself to return to the list with 6 months of the year  left to go in order to gage my progress.

1| Attend brand camp with Hey, Sweet Pea - When I created this goal this class was more in theory than practice and it turns out, I'm not ready for this jump yet.  However, I've found really valuable classes here and I've registered for a few of them, and have plans to take more in the fall when my schedule frees up.
2| Squam in the Fall - registered!
3| Take a homesteading class - completed in April
4| Take a trip to Lincoln for a non-agenda weekend with my sister  - completed in May
5| Return to yoga - I could cross this off the list because for the first 4 months of the year I attended yoga weekly.  As usual, I realized how much my body needs the flexibility, but life got busy and I stopped.  I think this will be a goal I am constantly working on.
6| Write 5 lines of gratitude daily - Same as #5, I got off the bandwagon and need to get back on.  I've got a project in mind you'll probably see show up soon that I hope will give me motivation.
7| Get my garden going at the new house - It's not perfect, but it's there, and I'm working towards rebuilding the nutrients in the soil for a great fall garden.
8| Make a date with the specialist I've been putting off - completed in January
9| Run the Tour de Fleurs 10K in the Fall - Sadly, this race is the same weekend I will be at Squam so I am searching for another run.  I have neglected my running routine and this will be a physically challenging goal to reach, but I'm determined to get one race in this year.
10| Go on vacation - looking at October
11| Work on my personal style - Talk about a work in progress!  I'm trying to step into my own and finding out what that looks like is similar to walking through a maze.
12| Do one thing this year that scares me - News coming soon...

11 July 2012

Inspiration can always be found on pinterest.  This is my mantra these days.

10 July 2012

June Chronicle

I'm emerging from summer vacation, albeit slowly.  While July will still show little activity I have some great new things in store for you this fall.

I wanted to wrap up June even though we are half way through July!  This is the busiest time of my year, but full of life.
  • Since cc had the flu on my birthday I celebrated the first weekend in June with a dinner at Sauce and a homemade German Chocolate Cake.
  • After a reading hiatus I picked up Wild and devoured it.  I also entertained my commute with the last two of Stieg Larrson's audio books.  The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. 
  • I spent lots of time with my favorite girls this month. 
  • When one thing falls apart, it is inevitable that others will follow.  After the refrigerator water line debacle I had a plumber come out to fix it only to find the oven door panel fall off the next day.  I wish my dad lived closer.
  • Date night at Top Golf, and I won.
  • I stayed out past 10 PM for a birthday party.  I got home at 1:00 A.M.  I haven't done that in while.
  • I've been putting energy into my dream of living near water by looking at lake houses with our realtor.  Possibly a little fixer upper.
  • Documented an entire day on video to show our friend's daughter that we were awaiting her arrival.  She video messaged us back from Kansas City the entire day as well. 
  • Made my favorite meal of the season - summer vegetable gratin and it was as good as I remember.
  • I got an appointment for a massage for my birthday and I used it!  
  • Celebrated Fathers Day.
  • Worried about the fire danger in Colorado and Nebraska.  I have family in both places.  My brother has been busy fighting grass fires and ended up in the emergency room for heat exhaustion. 
  • I made my first ever corn polenta with local corn meal.  It was a little sticky, but the flavor was indulgent.
  • I made a canvas print from one of my instagram photos for my sister.  She loved it! 
  • Discovered printstagram and ordered several of my favorite prints.  
  • I made stationary envelopes from recycled paper.
  • I've gone to the pool at lease 3 times.  That's some kind of record, but it does help to have it across the street. 
  • I got busy decorating with the music stand and locker baskets that I found.  
  • I did not take a single photo aside from my phone the entire month. 
  • The aforementioned Kansas City girl came to visit for 8 days. 
  • We made friendship bracelets. Something I haven't done since camp.
  • Spent a restless night in a camper on the side of the road.
  • And the biggest event of all is our second, seasonal business started on June 24th and so I spent most of the month working on marketing, mailing, and ordering supplies. 
In the garden and around in nature
  • We have been blessed with a little rain this summer.  It's not much but it does help with June's water conservation challenge.
  • I harvested carrots, green beans, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, black eyed peas, and more onions.  
  • With all those peas comes a lot of shelling.  I don't even like them that much...
  • I prepped the beds for a fall planting with compost and mulch.  Believe it or not it's time to start thinking about the fall garden. 
  • Besides harvesting, watering and weeding have been on my garden chore list for the early morning hours.