Monday, December 12, 2011

Garage Gift

Kept secret through Rob’s deployment was my plan to finish the garage. Putting up insulation in the sunroom made me realize how easy it was and my friend’s boyfriend is a handyman with electrical and sheetrock tools… so the garage project was born!

The cleaning out was a formidable task, considering that when we moved in, all our stuff went into the garage and it still had some of that, plus regular garage accumulation stuff. Ugh.

After the wiring and lighting

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With insulation (that I did mySELF!) with the pneumatic stapler that the roofing guys let me borrow!

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With some taping and mudding

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And primed and painted, ready for Rob’s arrival!

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There’s still insulation in the ceiling to be done, but it’s a beautiful, considerably warmer workspace! Yay me!

Catching Up

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In case you missed it, Rob is home!!! He arrived in early November and I’ve been pretty much blissed out ever since. Rob is so dreamy, in case you didn’t know.

My amazing photographer friend came to the airport with a small group from the squadron and took some wonderful photos! Joice Ruffing Photography.

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He got two weeks of R&R and we spent it mostly enjoying each other’s company. But since the weather was still pretty nice, we got out for a hike in the hills, a hockey game, a drive to the Badlands, and a visit to Mount Rushmore.

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Our trip to Rushmore was quite a bit cold and it was quickly followed by the first big snow of the year – over 9 inches!

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We spent Thanksgiving with another couple and our goal of having an enormous amount of food ensuring loads of leftovers was certainly exceeded. We fried a turkey and mourned the fact we hadn’t bought a turkey fryer until this year because YUM!

Oh, I also want to brag some more about my amazing husband because look what he built!

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He just whipped it up! I told him I was going to get a pre-made one from Lowe’s for the downstairs bath reno and he just scoffed and made this gorgeous one instead! I love him! So rejoice potential houseguests! No longer will you have to suffer the faded linoleum, gold-flecked sink, wonky cabinet, and ugly 70s shower…. soon, very soon there will be a beautiful bathroom instead!

And one final little detail… Oh happy day! My crowbar shall longer dwell on the kitchen counter waiting to open my dishwasher! We stalked Black Friday and got a dishwasher!!!! Hooray!!! I’m completely in love. This is the first appliance to which I want to pledge devotion! It’s SO quiet! No more turning up the TV or NEVER washing when guests come over! It cleans so well and has got lots of neat settings! Plus, look how shiny!

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Hope your Christmas season is wonderful! Just remember Happy Holidays… is what terrorists say. Merry Christmas from McKay and Rob!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Adventures in Crossfit

My workout journey started with squadron spouse socializing. Apparently, a bunch of the ladies go to this class on base that is amazing and fun and the best workout ever. In the words of one spouse it’s “horribly awesome.” So I tried it.

As advertised.

But I kept going for the social aspect. Then, I started going three times a week when I realized how much Rob’s workouts were getting him in shape. I imagined how fun it would be if my husband and I could workout together and this class seemed to have elements that we both could do.

I learned it was crossfit.

After a month, I was hooked. The workouts have the ability to be exhausting and fun at the same time and I adore the variety. I get a challenge and a success every time; and it’s very rewarding to see oneself progress and then to see my body get more toned and to notice heavy things are not so heavy anymore.

So I kept going.

I wanted to keep up my workouts while in College Station, so I contacted one of the crossfit gyms in town. It turns out, it is owned by a high school friend of mine. He is also an ex-Marine and looks and talks like one, which made me a little intimidated… and also made me want to make fun of the fact he was SO Marine-ish.

Anyway, one of my first workouts gave me a nice dose of humility. We were doing one of the weight-lifting moves where you take the bar all the way from the ground to above your head in one big heave.

Well, I knew from my previous crossfit experience, that I am not capable of doing this lift without grace. Years of dance, yoga, and a natural tendency to move smoothly are deeply ingrained in my muscle memory. Graceful movement is completely unnecessary for lifting heavy weight… in case you didn’t know. The trainer kept looking at me practicing with the PVC pipe saying, “more thrust” or “more jump” or “really get under it.” Finally, I started to get better and we moved over to the barbells.

She passes me a barbell with tires on the ends of it… TIRES. Umm, yes, I am intimidated. I begin my lifts. This weight seems really heavy. I mention that this might be on the upper end of what I typically lift. The tiny little trainer who brought the weight over with one hand replies, “it’s 35.” Which, by the way, is the lightest weight they have…. AND yes, in fact, it is the MOST WEIGHT I HAVE EVER LIFTED. Oh. My. The lightest bar is the most I’ve ever lifted. Humility, anyone? Yes, I’ve got some right here…

The last workout I did there was on their outdoor obstacle course, which is done in the military style. You run and jump over logs, roll under some, climb over many, climb a rope, run over tires and across the finish line. The first guy who did it (an Army guy) made it look SO easy. He was amazing. I found out just how amazing when I attempted it next.

Jumping over logs – oo, kinda fun. Rolling under, climbing over – also fun. Running up the tire – like a playground. Climbing the rope – ….. climbing the rope – ….  Umm, yea. I haven’t attempted climbing a rope since middle school PE and even then, I was not at all successful. The trainers gave me some good techniques, but even with those, I could not manage more than one pull up. So… I had to do burpees instead of climb the rope. Poo.

Moving on. The next series of logs was the biggest challenge. You had to go over and touch down from each of five logs, the highest at 7 feet. I was simply thrilled to find that I was capable of doing it!! Of course, my method was a little unconventional. Lacking the upper arm strength to launch my body onto the highest log, I stretched my leg over from the next highest log, almost doing the splits until I could grip the next log with my leg. Effective, but the trainers said they hadn’t seen it done that way before. I’ll just take that as a compliment…

Then, running across the tires to the finish line. Yay!! I did it!! Some perspective: the Army guy did it in 57 seconds. I did it in 2 min, 17 seconds. Yea, I’m that awesome.

The chunk of the workout had us going through the course taking the first obstacle, then running back to the beginning; first and second, beginning; first second third, beginning, and so on.

It was long. And hard. sts. But I completed it!

And that kind of sums up why I like crossfit. Whether you’re fit or not, each workout is challenging (that Army guy was still challenged). And since each person is in a different place – maybe you’re lifting different weights, maybe you started at different times, the competition is indirect – just enough to make you want to push a little harder and friendly enough that everyone is rooting for you to beat your personal best. I really like it.

If you’re thinking of starting crossfit, be prepared to be intimidated. The weights look heavy and everyone looks like they’re working really hard (as opposed to holding fabulous yoga poses with looks of tranquility in super cute outfits).

But if you look closer, you’ll probably also notice that everyone is really friendly, helpful, and encouraging. If you’re lost, ask for directions. If you notice someone is especially good at that warm-up footwork, ask them for some tips. And you won’t have to ask before people are dishing out the encouragement. Sometimes rather loudly…

So have fun and remember to stretch… and do yoga… ‘cause it’s the best.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Finding the Best Chocolate Cake in Houston

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I came to Texas for my brother’s wedding (last weekend – Congratulations!) and while I was here, my other brother and his wife Ashley planned a cake sampling of the great cakes of Houston. Can you say YUM?

They used the chocolate cake from Cheddar’s as a constant – because let’s face it, Cheddar’s chocolate cake is Goood.

Also sampled was the Chocolate Bar, the Palm, and Taste of Texas.

Ashley make scoring sheets and everything. As this was a worthy quest (finding the best chocolate cake in Houston is no trivial matter), we decided to take it seriously. She cut slices of each piece and we scored them on overall taste, depth of chocolate, texture, icing consistency, icing flavor, and icing to cake ratio. Yes, we are super awesome.

There was some debate about whether or not to serve said cake slices cold or at room temperature. I prefer room temperature as I like my icing soft and gooey. Someone else preferred cold, but that person is just wrong. ;-)

We’ll start with Cheddar’s: taste – 4, depth of chocolate – 3 (light but good, more like duncan hines, comfortable and happy), texture – 5 (seriously, this is one good cake and so cheap too!), icing consistency – 4, icing flavor – 5, icing to cake ratio – 5. Final score: 26.

Chocolate Bar: taste – 3, depth of chocolate – 4, texture – 2 (very very dense, too much so), icing consistency – 2 (again too dense), icing flavor – 4 (very chocolatey), icing to cake ratio – 4 (needs more icing). Final score: 19

We were all quite surprised at how poorly the Chocolate Bar cake showed against the others. It was a dry, dense, and although it was very chocolatey, Ashley summed it up best, “I was left wanting more from the cake… not more bites of cake.”

The Palm: taste – 4, depth of chocolate – 4 (very cocoa-heavy in a good way), texture – 3, icing consistency – 4, icing flavor – 4 (deeeep chocolate), icing to cake ratio – 2 (as the cake is very very tall, it is impossible to get a good icing to cake ratio unless taking some icing from the top with each bite and I just want a little more from my cake than that…). Final score: 21

Taste of Texas: taste – 4, depth of chocolate – 5 (I needed fewer bites there was so much chocolate flavor!), texture – 5, icing consistency – 4 (smoooooth!), icing flavor – 5, icing to cake ratio – 5. Seriously, I had a hard time finding anything about this cake to count off for! Quite simply, it is amazing. Final score: 28

The two standouts were definitely the Palm and Taste of Texas. If you love cocoa and more cake than icing, I would refer you to the Palm. But, if you love the perfect balance of cocoa, cake, icing, comfort, and sweet, then you definitely must try the Taste of Texas the next time you’re in Houston.

I highly suggest chocolate cake testing for your next dessert. We ate a small yet substantial meal beforehand just so our blood sugar wouldn’t jump off the charts; and even with no whole pieces of cake, we all felt a little woozy from chocolate overload. Okay, a lot woozy. But so worth it.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Season Change

Background: I’m from Texas.

So, I’m FINALLY understanding four seasons! You know in elementary school where the four seasons are displayed on the school calendar in class. Well, I guess I never thought they actually looked like that. I figured it was in some era or place far gone and we were keeping history or fantasy alive by displaying fall with brilliant leaves, winter with snow and ice, spring with melting snow uncovering flowers, and summer… well, I understood that one pretty well.

But, there are four real seasons in Rapid City. And they actually fall close to the calendar season changes! How novel. September, October, November is fall here. It’s been (Texas friends don’t read this part! Or at least don’t be jealous) in the 60s and 70s and sunny. Personally, 60s is a little chilly for me, but other people seem to think it’s an ideal range of temperatures. I haven’t turned the air conditioner on since mid-August. I know!! Who does that??

Winter is not that bad here – I’m (kinda) looking forward to the times when a new blanket of snow covers the brown slushiness of previous snows melted. I also love the sun shining brightly on fresh snow when everything feels very still and quiet.

Spring leaves a little to be desired. From day to day it changes – there’s a sunny comparatively warm 50 degree day, then an overcast rainy not-quite freezing, just wicked-cold day. Snow melts, flowers bloom, rain pours, and sun shines. When it came around to May I had a growing concern that I would NEVER be able to wear any of my Texas warm weather clothes as it was still a little too chilly for flip flops. By this month in Texas, I’ve broken out the tank tops and shorts and joined my fellow Texans, boating in the sweltering heat over Memorial Day weekend.

But, then FINALLY June came! And I felt like my muscles and bones could finally relax. When I’m finally warm, it feels wonderful! Like a cozy blanket, or a warm fire, or a sauna except happily it’s all around me! I can’t NOT be warm! I LOVE IT! I joyously broke out the warm weather clothes and found myself enjoying an entirely different wardrobe. NOW I get it! I would sometimes hear of people in far off worlds who put their clothes away each season and when they brought them out it felt like all new clothes. For those of you who don’t know: in Texas one does not put away any clothes any season because you can pretty much guarantee that you will need that tank top at some point in the winter and that sweater at some point in the summer (if only for the freezing air conditioning at the office).

Summer, obviously, is my favorite season in South Dakota. It is beautiful! The weather is the kind of weather that makes you want to be outside. We have a few of those days in Texas, but not with enough consistency to spur the state on toward all the outdoor activities that Rapid City does. Really, the majority of summer events is scheduled to take place outdoors. So, in case Mount Rushmore hasn’t made the case enough for a visit to this underrated state, perhaps escaping the summer heat in Texas will draw you here.

Then, you’ll finally understand the answer to the question I asked January through April – why do people continue to live here?? Now I know.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What My Husband Misses

Over the months, I’ve been accumulating a list of things Rob has mentioned that he misses and have chosen to share it with you today. For fun.

The cafeteria sounds like it tasted good the first few months, but now that he’s been there a while…

Rob misses:

  • pork cooked by people allowed to eat pork
  • real mashed potatoes
  • blanched vegetables
  • steaks cooked rare
  • eggs cooked easy
  • crispy bacon
  • sausage that doesn’t float in grease
  • beer
  • pizza
  • peanut butter and jelly that’s not made by Heinz
  • sandwich bread that’s not white
  • shrimp that’s not as hard as a rock
  • fish that’s baked, not slathered
  • turkey products that actually look tasty
  • real dessert (pies, cakes, cookies, brownies) that are not overly processed and will survive as long as a twinkie.
  • overall brilliant, rather than subdued flavors
  • metal utensils
  • eating off real dishes
  • Saturday mornings
  • good coffee
  • drinking from a glass

Rob misses:

walking somewhere he doesn’t have to salute at least 14 people between his room and the chow hall (he swears his left arm is getting stronger carrying all his stuff so the right can be free to salute every few seconds).

things that are soft

walking into a bathroom that doesn’t smell like poo.

showering without shoes

showering without fear – fear that the water temperature will suddenly change, fear that the shower head will explode, or fear that a hand will reach into your shower to turn off the water because you’ve gone over your 5-minute “combat shower” limit (not Rob, but definitely happened).

rational perspective with the uniform – because seriously? will the taliban win if your shirt is untucked? your socks too tall? or your reflect-y belt not properly adorned? I don’t think so.

And of course, Rob misses: ME!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Stages of Deployment

I should have guessed earlier, but there’s apparently seven emotional stages a spouse goes through with a deployment. Yeah. They’ve done studies.

Stage One: Anticipation of Departure

Stage Two: Detachment and Withdrawal

Stage Three: Emotional Disorganization

Stage Four: Recovery and Stabilization

Stage Five: Anticipation of Return

Stage Six: Return Adjustment and Renegotiation

Stage Seven: Reintegration and Stabilization

Interesting, huh? And while the psychiatrists may disagree, I haven’t found my deployment emotions to follow the “typical” stages… Mine went a little more like this:

Stage One: What’s an MC-12?

Stage Two: A couple all-nighters finishing the upstairs bathroom before Rob and I left for Atlanta and his training, arriving on Christmas Day. Not much time for detachment or withdrawal, just lots and lots of tile cutting.

Stage Three: Recovery and Stabilization. I know it’s supposed to be stage four in the pattern, but I was pretty fine with the whole thing.

Stage Four: Emotional Disorganization. I’m not entirely sure what this stage is meant to encompass, but I found that as the squadron we’re still technically a part of began to deploy, my emotions about the whole thing came a lot closer to the surface. I described it to Rob like this:

Me: You know how I am capable of compartmentalization? Rob: Yes. Me: Well, I’m discovering the walls of my compartments can be a little thin – you know, maybe like Japanese rice paper walls? Rob: OH YEA! Me: Oh. You didn’t have to agree SO heartily… cute.

And then, I guess I did Stage Four again with Recovery and Stabilization. I LOVE all my new friends who are newly singled and very often ready to hang out, go out, or just visit!

Then, I discovered I missed testosterone a little. And guys are WAY funnier than girls. No offense. It’s just girls are not that hilarious. I miss laughing from the gut.

Now, I’m on to Stage Five: Anticipation of Return. I can totally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Not that it’s been a dark or horrific time, I’m just excited like a birthday, or a wedding, or a big graduation trip. It’s got magnitude. But, I’ve noticed I’m a little more unstable than I’ve been in any of the previous stages. I don’t say this to gain pity or to say in some sort of subtle way, “Help me.” It’s not that. It’s simply observing, almost in a scientific way – hmm, that’s interesting, I didn’t expect that.

Some of my more random unstable moments come while driving. Perhaps I’m simply not used to driving this much without Rob. I miss him in the seat next to me. I love it when he drives and I get to ride. I haven’t been in the passenger seat of my car for 9 months.

Another moment when my paper-thin compartment walls were compromised was when my very good friend had a baby and I teared up as she was describing how hard it was for her husband to watch the labor because he felt so helpless. I guess I empathize. Is that it?

I can nail this one down a lot easier: You know the pie that I love. The pie that merited its own ode and entry in the blog. The pie that gives me comfort each week throughout this deployment. Well, I’ve been without pie now for over two weeks. She wasn’t there last week and I missed her this week. I learned this because I called the store in Pierre and she said there was a rush this morning and they ran out early. I’ve been tearing up all day when I think about how I don’t have pie.

I think this one’s a little more obvious – pie = comfort. duh. Then, the very sweet yet sometimes a little “I told you so” Holy Spirit reminded me that my comfort should lie in God. Me, ever a little bit petulant, said I still would like some pie, but thanks for the reminder. If I have to live without pie for two weeks to be reminded that the Holy Spirit is my comforter, that’s okay. … But I have ordered three pies for next week.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the next two stages of deployment emotions – the ones that occur when he comes back!! YAY!!!! Really, there’s not enough explanation points to convey the excitement (and apparently a little bit of instability… ) that comes with this stage.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Day in the Life

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My days without Rob are coming to a rapid end, and now that I’m more than halfway, my thoughts have gone from “6 whole months will take a while,” to “I only have two more months left to prepare for Rob coming home!”

I have attacked my workouts with renewed vigor, shooting for the hottest bod that can be attained in the remaining time.  I’m actually enjoying the crossfit class on base as well as yoga in my schedule.

The garden is much more high maintenance now as things are ripening and weeds are sprouting.

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My project list is getting smaller (but still formidable) – although the basement is STILL my Everest and I would love to go through more boxes down there and unpack books and find a place for the more “random” items. And my awesome stackable storage boxes still need doors to hide their contents and not make the basement look cluttered and busy.

The days are also broken up with walks for Gus and any friends staying with us, trips to the dog park, calls to contractors for home repairs from the recent hail storm (see pic below for proof of egg-sized hail in late June), a bit of retail therapy always makes me happy (and now I have a good excuse with deployment), and throw in a couple weekly evening get-togethers among the spouses and you’ve got yourself a fairly busy lady.

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Some more pics

Instead of tiling the step, I tore off the nasty vinyl tiles and simply spread some grout over it.

Before

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After

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Tomatoes

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Peppers

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Eggplants

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And figs, oh my!

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I’m so happy the little fig tree made it! I almost thought he was a goner at the end of the winter, but look how well he’s pulled through! Go figgy!

Three Seasons Room

Before

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After

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I LOVE IT!

This was: wall panels, insulation, ceiling planks, granite tiles, grout (lots and lots of grout), paint, trim, threshold, doorstop, and caulk. Very gratifying.

I don’t know if anyone else who’s remodeled a house has this problem, but I really don’t like filling the room once it’s done! This happened with the bedrooms upstairs. As our clothes went in the closet and the dresser, bed, etc filled the space, I was saddened to see all my hard work covered up with furniture. That is why I have left the second bedroom upstairs mostly empty (except for stuff in the closet and a yoga mat on the floor) – I adore looking at the shiny, clean, still freshly painted, uncluttered purity of the redone room.

And this is also why I predict that the patio furniture I was thinking of getting for this room might end up waiting until next year – I love looking at the empty, open room! So clean, so pretty… anyone else experience this phenomenon?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer Food

I LOVE cooking in the summer! I love all the… well, all the FRESH! Fresh greens, tomatoes, herbs, peppers, everything feels so clean and light on my palate. I love FRESH!

Here’s a couple fun items recently cooked that I thought were stellar enough to share with you.

A group of squadron ladies got together every week to watch the Bachelorette. Not normally my cup of tea, but the socializing was wonderful and the food was delicious! The B-1 squadrons are full of amazing cooks! One of the latest themes was “tropical” and since I wanted to use my greens from the garden, this just kind of morphed and it’s DELICIOUS!

I call it Almond Joy Salad.

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Fresh greens, toasted coconut, toasted sliced almonds. The dressing is the basic olive oil and balsamic, but sub coconut oil for half the olive oil; and add a little cocoa and honey until it tastes good (maybe 2-3 tablespoons of each). I’m sorry I can’t give more specific directions on the dressing, but that’s how it happened. You want to have the ratio of coconut (from the dressing as well), almonds, and chocolate be about the ratio of an almond joy candy bar. Trust me, it’s yummy.

Smitten Kitchen is absolutely my favorite cooking website! Instead of food network when I want to find something to cook, now I navigate right to Smitten Kitchen and search her sight. I made these for a girls night recently and VERY tasty – a little pleasantly odd mix of flavors that result in goodness. I love these as an appetizer with a glass of wine on the patio. Perfect.

Flatbreads with Honey, Thyme, and Sea Salt

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And this next one turned out to be a wonderful way to use venison with a fresh summery twist.

Skirt Steak with Bloody Mary Salad

The salad I would totally bring to a pot luck and it would be a big hit. Made this one for a girls night and the ladies took home tupperware.

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And finally, because no meals are complete without dessert! This rice pudding (or rather arroz con leche) was a HUGE hit last night at Ladies Bible study!

Arroz Con Leche

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Pie Lady

The Rapid City Farmers’ Market is only NOW beginning to pick up with the actual produce offerings. It’s AUGUST! I can’t believe the crazy short growing season! But I digress…

One thing the market excels at during all the months that it’s open is the baked and canned goods. Jams, jellies, salsas, breads, rolls, and pies. One booth in particular… the Pie Lady. Oh, I can’t even write about the pies without swooning. They give out free samples of the particular pie that day and my first sample was mixed berry (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries). It kind of went like this: “Oh, that’s nice – free samples. Thanks so much.” Tasting that one bite, all the latent happiness inside me melted and gloriously filled up my insides while my brain lost all other consciousness and focus, time stopped, and there was only pie. Delicious, wonderful, pie. I was hooked.

Since then, whenever the Pie Lady has been at the market, I have purchased a, to some overly priced, pie, knowing that it’s totally worth it and the most amazing treasure of a treat I have ever tasted and would therefore probably pay twice that and more for its delicious goodness.

I have enjoyed mixed berry (often), strawberry rhubarb, and fruits of the forest (rhubarb, apple, strawberry, and raspberry) and they have all been the best pie in the world.

Some caveats: I love filling. I love it. I love the fruits, the sugar, and the blending of the two that miraculously results in exquisite pie filling. And even though I’m not a crust girl, this crust blows my mind. I eat it all and scrape the bowl for crumbs. It’s buttery, flaky, firm, and soft all at the same time and accentuates the filling with poise and style. Perfect synergy.

Today, I bought my pie and headed home to a breakfast of scrambled eggs and a slice of pie. Awesome. And even though I just bought it this morning, it’s sadly already over half gone. …although I did give a couple slices to a sick friend. I know. I’m a saint.

So, if you’re ever driving through Pierre, South Dakota (as that’s where their little pie restaurant is located and don’t think I haven’t considered driving almost 3 hours to Pierre just for pie, because I absolutely have) you simply must stop and have a slice at Vivian Junction Restaurant. You won’t regret it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

When Spouse is Deployed, Things Break

There’s an old military spouse adage that says “when he’s away, things will break”… okay, I don’t know if there’s an official adage and if there were, I’d like to think it has a much better ring to it that what I just wrote… ANYway…

Happily, I haven’t had anything major like a basement flood (3 people I know) or windows broken from the recent egg-sized hail storm (3 more people I know).

Mine started with a flat tire.

Thanks to my dear father for teaching me how to change a flat when I first started driving (he also always has me keep jumper cables in the car – used them WAY more than once), I was back on the road in a respectable 10 minutes. The next day, I had errands to run and places to be but I heard the voice of my dear father saying, “the spare tire is ONLY to drive you from your flat to the tire place!” So I went to the tire place and an infuriating FOUR AND A HALF HOURS later, I had four new tires.

Very soon after that, the latch on my dishwasher broke. I learned this when I needed to get to the clean kitchen aid mixing bowl for about three days, and in slight desperation, I pulled out one of my top ten favorite tools… the prybar! And miraculously, it opened without harming anything! Prybar moves up the list of favorite tools!!

Perhaps I’ll find a good deal on a new dishwasher for the kitchen remodel, but for now, this is how I begin my dishwasher-emptying… very carefully.

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So, if you come over and notice the prybar on the kitchen counter next to the paper towels, just politely look away. Thank you.

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And while I simply love my new sunroom floor, the grouting was no small job! It’s taken its toll on my body – in particular, my poor nails. They kind of remind me of a zombie apocalypse movie…  ARRGHHH!

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So, at the suggestion of a friend, I sought out some dark nail polish and have found a very nice brown. However, it didn’t stand up to the furniture-building I did the day after I put it on, but at least I don’t look like I’ve been cast in Shawn of the Dead.

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Speaking of furniture building… here’s the latest in my project list. I LOVE IT! It will go behind the sofa and will function as a desk for the laptop, a buffet table, or just a table for behind-the-sofa decorations. The plans are here at AnaWhite.com.

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In progress

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

How to Act Toward a Spouse of a Deployed Military Member

So, I’m learning that civilian people say odd things when they know your spouse is deployed.

I very often get the sympathetic head tilt accompanied by “So, how’re you doing?” with a facial expression that says “it’s okay to cry.”

I halfway want to reply with the “I’m okay Head Bob” but usually simply say, “Umm, I’m fine” and just change the subject. I haven’t just come from a funeral, divorce, or learning I have terminal cancer. Can we please lighten up?

My latest favorite is my neighbor’s reply (and other variations of this). Talking of his being overseas, separated from me, “Oh isn’t it just terrible?” 

Okay, how am I supposed to reply to this one? “No, it’s not terrible. I love having him gone. I dance myself to sleep every night in celebration” Or “Yes, it’s terrible and I blame the evil military for taking him away from me without me knowing that it’s his job or anything.” I usually reply that it is, in fact, his job to go overseas and we expect and prepare for this. Both our “sacrifices” are part of being in the military.

Please be kind to your friends with deployed spouses. Ask them what they’re doing while he’s gone. Anything interesting? You can ask them how his or her spouse is doing over there. Maybe they’ll have a lot to say or maybe not.

The main idea is to be open. Please do not assume everyone feels as you would. Military spouses have more preparation. They know their spouse will be deployed. It’s not a surprise (usually). It comes with the job. I prefer to be proud of his service and while it may not be the most awesome thing to be separated from your favorite person in the world, I love that he is dedicated, skilled, a wicked-good pilot, and does his job well wherever he is in the world.

One of the nicest things you can do is thank the spouse of a deployed military member for serving as if you were thanking their spouse.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Latest

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At the end of May, I went to the beach in Mexico! Ahh, I love the beach. You may ask what I did with my time in Mexico… well, I laid on the beach, shopped, laid on the beach, ate tropical fruit on the sea-view balcony, laid on the beach, and drank fruity drinks delivered to my lounge chair… while laying on the beach. It was AWESOME!

Flying back through Dallas, I always stop at the USO (lounge for military personnel) and this adorable man was playing the banjo outside the door. It just put a smile on my face.

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I stopped in College Station to visit family and attend sweet Janine’s wedding. It was SO wonderful! The ceremony was so sweet and it was a joy to catch up with some College Station friends! Her new husband a firefighter, Janine arrived in a fire truck to walk down the aisle!

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This picture was too adorable not to take – father and grandfather with my niece!

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When I got back to South Dakota, the plants had exploded with growth! It was very good timing because the Moores followed me back to help me plant the garden.

A lot harder work than anticipated, Ken tilled the ground, we took out the grass, added compost, planted, and arranged drip hoses. All done now, it was worth the effort! And a BIG thanks to Rob’s parents for helping me plant!

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During

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After

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THEN, as if all that manual labor wasn’t enough, these two energizer bunnies decided to go ahead and help me do the ceiling in the sunroom.

We chose to do tongue and groove pine planks and they look SO good!!! We also added insulation to the ceiling and the remaining wall (that I hadn’t yet completed) and it makes a HUGE difference! The sunroom is much more temperate now – not too hot and (hopefully) not too cold.

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We also attended the air show and it was exciting to see a B-2 bomber on the ground (I’ve only ever seen them do a fly-by). Of course the B-1 showed off (you know, because it’s awesome) and the Heavy Metal Jet Aerobatics Team was the stunt show for the day.

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And that’s the news from Lake Woebegone South Dakota.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Tools

Yes, you can start singing from the Sound of Music… :-)

First, my new favorite – the Bosch orbital sander.

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This little baby makes sanding SO much easier! What was I THINKING when I hand sanded?? That was just plain crazy. Not only does it sand smoothly and effectively, but there is almost NO dust! It’s filtration system is so awesome that I sanded in my living room and one could hardly even notice there had been a project!

My first favorite – the Ridgid shopvac.

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It makes cleanup so rewarding – to watch all your sawdust, leaves, and dirt be immediately erased is nothing short of bliss.

The miter saw.

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While the table saw is still a bit intimidating (although we are much better friends now that we interact often), the miter saw is so easy to use. There’s no big ado when you just need to make one little cut. I used this one a lot making legs for the bedside tables.

The air compressor/nail gun.

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SO fun! Putting up wood paneling, nailing trim, and nailing faces to cabinets or storage boxes is amazingly fast and easy. Plus, the ker-CHUNK sound it makes when it nails gives you that “yea, I’m using a power tool” feeling.

What are your favorite tools?

Latest Projects

This chandelier was just screaming for a makeover.

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After

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After

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Eventually, that wall will come down, making way for a breakfast bar in the great room. But for now, it’s a pretty green accent wall.

And the sunroom looks much sunnier now! Special thanks to the ladies who helped me cut wood paneling! We have a bunch of very talented Air Force wives!

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After

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Eventually, we’d like full windows, but this is a nice solution for now. I’m thinking of painting this room – but what color? White? Pale grey-green? Pale blue? Pale yellow like the outside of the house? Or just leave the wood paneling…

And check out what I made yesterday!

My new entryway bench is now nicely painted (finally!) with an upholstered top. The long-wise stripes were a mistake in retrospect, but I like all the colors in the pattern.

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And these boxes are assembled (minus doors) and almost ready for implementation in basement storage. Thanks to Dad for his help!!

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And lots of flowers are coming up! I love all the splashes of color in the yard now!

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And I have rhubarb! I didn’t even know! I love living in a house previously owned by a gardener! Pie, anyone?

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View from the guestroom window – tulips, daffodils, rose bush, and lilies.

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South Dakota is pretty, huh?