Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Our New Life in the Northwest

Well, here we are in Idaho!  We actually made it!!  After two grueling weeks of packing and notifying our friends and co-workers we were abandoning them, we set off on August 18th.  We were lucky enough to have Suddath (my employer) move us, so they loaded up our stuff on the 17th, and that night, we slept on the floor of our empty two-bedroom apartment.  We got up at 5 AM on the 18th, packed up our dog, Zack, and our cat, Emilia, and we were on the road!

Sweet Emilia was content to sit in my lap for half the trip, and sleep in her kennel for the other half
Day 1 was our longest day.  We drove all the way to Castle Rock, Colorado!  We were blessed enough to stay with my childhood friend, Angie, and her husband and little boy.  It was great to catch up with an old friend.

Day 2 was... torture.  Okay, it wasn't that bad.  But I pre-warned RJ before the trip.  I do NOT like Wyoming.  My sister and I drove through it once before when we moved from Idaho to New Mexico.  It is a sad excuse for a state.  What if I had to live there?  I shudder at the thought.  The best part of Day 2 (and possibly the entire trip) was when we crossed over the border into Montana, and suddenly we were surrounded by plush, green beauty.  Lovely!  We stayed the night in a fabulous, rustic cabin in Columbus, MT.  We walked Zack along the river and felt like we were in Heaven!

Our serene cabin in beautiful Montana
Day 3 was the home stretch.  We only had 9 hours of driving, so we took our time.  We were able to stop in Bozeman (which has the coolest downtown) and Helena (where we found an amazing Irish pub, and RJ declared lamb stew to be his favorite food).  The last four hours were spent on Lolo Pass, and the subsequent downhill drive.  It was beautiful, but we were so incredibly ready to be home by that point that it was tough to enjoy God's country.  

RJ and Zack - finally in Idaho!
Finally, around 7 PM, we made it to Lewiston!!  I cannot tell you how good it felt to pull into the driveway of the house I grew up in.  We poured ourselves some red wine and enjoyed my mom's mashed potatoes.  (I know she made some other stuff too, but all I can remember right now is the mashed potatoes!)

Since the night of our arrival, we have begun to settle in nicely.  The goal is to live with my parents for 3-4 months, then buy a house.  We have just begun the process of looking for a house, and I am actually meeting with our real estate agent tomorrow.  (Yippee!)  RJ started his new job and loves it so far.  We have had the opportunity to see my brother's awesome band, Seven Devils, play twice, including once at Hot August Nights.  They are really, really good!  We also attended a party for my friend Alison, who is getting married in less than two weeks on Orcas Island.  Other than that, I've just been looking for jobs, helping my mom out at the office, and whatever else comes up!

I'm so happy to be able to share all the joys of the Northwest with RJ.  He's like a kid in a candy store.  I think his favorite thing (besides living on two rivers) is FRY SAUCE.  Oh my goodness.  That alone is worth living here for.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Moving Back to the Motherland

Anyone who knew me 8 years ago before I left Idaho knows that all I wanted to do was get out of there.  Not that it's a bad place to live.  I guess I was just ready to spread my wings and fly.  I spent close to 4 years in California, and then another 4 in Texas.  And now I'm going back to where it all began....  RJ got a job in Idaho!  And not just anywhere in Idaho - in Lewiston, the town I grew up in!  He will be working as an Information Systems Specialist at Pathologists' Regional Laboratory.  We are leaving in Texas in 9 days!  The last few days have been an overwhelming mess of packing, giving our two weeks notice to our jobs, selling things, fielding questions about whether we like potatoes, and trying to squeeze in a last visit with all the Texans we love so dearly.  Good-bye, Texas!  I'll miss you!

RJ & me in one of our favorite cities - Fort Worth

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Mexico

Early in July, RJ and I got to take a week off work and traipse over to Las Cruces, New Mexico to see my sister, her husband Brian, and their three little kids - Jack, Kate, and Maggie.  Maggie was just born in June, so it was our first time meeting our precious little niece!  She is wonderful, of course, just like the other two.  Lis had her camper set up for us next to the house, so we got to have our own little home away from home.  

Some of the highlights of our trip:
Dance parties with the kids in Kate's bedroom
Going to the local 4th of July parade
Eating my sister's delicious cooking
Visiting White Sands and playing in the sand with the kids
Going to church with my sister
Holding little Maggie
Taking a side trip out to Ruidoso and Cloudcroft
Eating at Chope's (New Mexico Mexican food is quite different than Tex-Mex)
Visiting the Farmer's Market and trying some yummy green chile cheese bread
Watching the two older kids share the responsibility of saying grace before every meal - Jack does most of the talking, but Kate mumbles along with him and occasionally says "Uncle RJ" in the middle of the prayer
RJ's fun birthday celebration
Kate and Jack wanting to be wrapped up in wrapping paper and blankets
Relaxing, hanging out, and just getting to spend time with my sister and her family

And here are a few fun pictures:
Kate and her new microphone
Jack and Kate having a boxing match
Quiet Maggie and Silly Kate
Jack dragging Mommy & Maggie around at the Street Fair

Proud Uncle RJ

Enjoying the Street Fair

My brother-in-law Brian with the kids at White Sands

Me & my hubby

Frosting the birthday boy's cake

"Wrap me up"
A budding musician

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Survival Weekend

I meant to write about this a month ago, but time sure has been flying!  In May, just before it got incredibly hot, RJ & I decided to do a Survival Weekend in our apartment.  What is a Survival Weekend?  It’s a planned weekend (or in this case, 24 hour period) where you deny yourselves any amenities that may not be available in case of a local crisis (e.g. tornado, nuclear explosion, etc.)  So that means we holed ourselves up in our apartment with no electricity, no running water, and no perishable food for 24 hours.  Call us crazy!  (I’m pretty sure we are.)   

The purpose of the experiment was to try out some of the supplies that we keep for a real crisis and get a feel for what we could have on hand that would make things easier for us.  For example, we cooked MRE’s on our Coleman stove.  We made one right after the other, and one thing we realized is that a rubber spatula can really come in handy, unless you want to rinse out your dishes constantly.  Another thing we definitely wished we had was hand sanitizer.  Do you know how annoying it is to repeatedly wash your hands with bottled water?  One thing we did do well was plan out lots of electricity-free entertainment.  We read books, played cards, and RJ schooled me in Simpsons Monopoly.  Although it was far from being an enjoyable weekend, I recommend that everyone give it a try.  Everyone always thinks a crisis won’t happen to them, but you never know.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Video Fun

Check out the video that RJ & I made with my co-worker Jeff.  Jeff & I work for Suddath Relocation, and we entered this in a company-wide contest.  The goal was to promote our moving services.  We won first prize!!!!  Enjoy :)

Take a Load Off Danny

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Covet

I don't consider myself to be a very materialistic person.  I never have had a desire to drive a fancy car or own a closet full of Coach purses.  But lately, I'm having some trouble with coveting.  For about a year now, RJ & I have been focused on bearing down on our debt, and we've made tremendous progress.  Even during our engagement, while we had all kinds of wedding expenses coming in, we were consistently paying off debt too.  Paying off debt is rewarding and motivating, but it's also a huge challenge!  We have had to deny ourselves many things that we see our friends and co-workers enjoying.  Examples include frequent eating out, new vehicles, cute clothes.  (Cute clothes applies to me, mostly.)

Anyway, I'm getting tired of denying ourselves these things.  I’m feeling like I want to be selfish.  I want to go on a shopping spree and buy tons of clothes!  I want to eat out every day for a month!  I want to go to Austin with RJ for the weekend and stay in a hotel and do whatever we want!  But most of all, I really want a new mattress.  Is that too much to ask?  Our mattress is old (I got it used three years ago), and it caves in the middle.  So we both find ourselves rolling toward the middle of the bed.  And it’s affecting my sleep.  I wake up in the middle of the night uncomfortable, and sometimes my back and neck muscles ache mildly throughout the day.   I know it is bad for a person to have a bad mattress, so I don’t feel like I’m being overly demanding here, but mattresses do cost money.  And we can’t afford it right now.  *Sigh.*  Oh well.  I will do my best to obey the Bible and not covet for now.  But man, when that day comes when we decide we can afford a new mattress…I am going to be sleeping with a BIG SMILE on my face.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Liquid Diet

On Wednesday, RJ will be having dental surgery.  In order to save one of his bottom teeth, he has to have a skin graft taken from the roof of his mouth and placed on his bottom gum.  He will be taking three days off work, and I hope it won’t be too painful for him!  One dentist told him it will only feel like a “bad pizza burn.”  We’re praying that’s the case!

For at least a few days after the surgery, we’re expecting he won’t be able to eat solid foods, so I’ve come up with a few recipes that I will be fixing.  Ingredients and instructions are listed below.  The quantities may not be precise.  I’m horrible at measuring when I cook!  Also, if you are concerned about fat/sugar, don’t bother trying these recipes.  I never cut out either one.  When I want to lose weight, I try to just eat less food.  Not less fat/sugar.  And I never, ever use anything that contains artificial sweeteners, but that’s a whole other blog.

1.)           Cheesy Vegetable Soup
This is one I’ve made several times before.  It’s delicious, healthy, and it will be easy to blend into a perfectly smooth consistency.  I prefer all the vegetables to be organic, as well as the broth, half & half, and butter.
Ingredients:    ½ cup butter, chopped onion, 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, ¼ cup all purpose flour, 2 cups half & half, 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, ground black pepper, 1 cup of each of the following vegetables, chopped:  broccoli, cauliflower, carrots
Instructions:   Melt butter in a large pot & sauté onion for 5 minutes.  Add broth; bring to boil.  Add flour and veggies; simmer until veggies are tender.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Simmer (do not boil) until cheese is melted.
2.)          Blended Mashed Potatoes with Broccoli & Cheese
I found a blog that listed many recipes like this one.  It was written by a girl who’d had dental surgery and had to drink her dinner for several weeks!  She had lots of great ideas, which I was able to tweek to fit our preferences.  Again, most of the ingredients are organic.  It is especially important to buy organic potatoes, because regular store-bought potatoes contain more pesticides than any other food.
Ingredients:    Potatoes, half & half, block of cream cheese, stick of butter, fresh chopped garlic, broccoli, cheddar cheese, whatever other cheese is in the fridge (I will probably use feta and smoked gouda because that’s what I have)
Instructions:   Boil and drain the potatoes.  Melt butter in the pot and sauté garlic for about 5 minutes.  Put the potatoes back in the pot, add half & half, cream cheese, and cheese.  Mix.   In a separate pot, steam broccoli for 6-7 minutes.  Drain and add to the pot of potatoes.  Blend all ingredients with a hand-held mixer.  If it is too thick, you can add milk or vegetable stock.

3.)          Berry/Banana Smoothie
We make these all the time!  It’s a delicious way to get your fruit servings for the day, if you’re not a fruit fan (and I am not).
Ingredients:    Bananas, berries (any kind – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.), milk, ice cream (we like Blue Bell), and just a touch of ice
Instructions:   It’s pretty easy.  Blend it all together & sip with a straw!

4.)          Chocolate/Peanut Butter Shake
I found this on the same blog as Recipe #2, and I really don’t know how it will taste.  But it sounds worth trying!
Ingredients:    Ice cream, milk, chocolate syrup, 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter
Instructions:   Blend it all together & drink.  I’ll let you know how this one turns out.