Monthly Archives: December 2010

Amateur at the gun club

What the difference a day can make…

Yesterday I woke up to groggy, foggy and plain ol’ unpleasant weather.

Although that didn’t seem to stop the cats from swarming me while I was attempting to take pictures.

(And when I say “swarm,” I mean swarm!)

I don’t blame them too much. It was a delicious bowl of oatmeal.

Consumed: 1/3 C oats with 2/3 C water, mixed with half of a banana and topped with a scoop of almond butter, granola and the other half of the chopped banana.

Anyway, by the next day, the sun was shining and the temperature was already up past 50 degrees by the time I woke up at 8 o’clock!

First things first, I had another cat-swarm free bowl of oatmeal.

Consumed: 1/3 C oats mixed with 2/3 C water. Topped with a scoop of peanut butter, some granola and half of an diced, baked cinnamon apple.

I would have loved taking advantage of the warmth with a run outside. However, some heavy gusts of wind deterred me. Instead, Dan and I went to the local gym where I logged some time on the treadmill as well as some leg work with the weight machines.

The reason Dan and I both work up “so early” was because there were big plans for the rest of the day: We were going to the gun club with the rest of his family!

The only problem was that if I thought the wind was going to be a problem for a run, it was definitely going to be a problem for shooting. Fortunately that was no problem for Mr. Sharp Shooter.

(Yeah, I’m talking about him.)

He was nice enough to pass some tips along to me…

For the record, Dan’s not a hunter and I’m certainly not into killing. However, shooting is about way more than those aspects. Just like golf, it’s an enjoyable hobby when practiced safely. My favorite part of it is going after clay pigeons. Can you spot it?

After some basic target practice, we went out to the actual course, which has 11 stations. Each station had two (in my inaccurate phrasing) pigeon slingers. That means that the pigeons can come from any direction and at any speed. The shooter just has to be ready for it!

For being an amateur, I was actually a pretty good shot.

Dan’s even taken to calling me “Annie Oakley.” No big deal.

Although I must give a great deal of credit to his coaching…

After hitting all the stations, I came in dead-center of the group. I sure felt good… Although my shoulder is sore from all the gun kicking!

Dan and I made a quick turn-around after the gun club to head into Lawrence and look at possible reception sites. I think we’ve decided on what we want to go with, but no final decisions have been made.

The drive to Lawrence was actually multipurpose, because Dan and I both had separate plans with friends for dinner. While he split for burgers and drinks over some games of pool with friends, I met my friend Mandy for dinner at Esquina, a fantastic Mexican place in town.

Consumed: Three small tacos. One was “Peruvian Potato,” one was with tofu and one was with pumpkin and butternut squash.

My favorite part about Esquina is how inventive and successful the flavor combinations are. Pumpkin tacos? Delicious! Who would’ve guessed?

During dinner I learned that Mandy had never been to 3 Spoons before, so I knew that much be immediately addressed. I know: I’m such a good friend.

After frozen yogurt and girl time, Mandy headed back home so I met up with Dan and his friends for a little while. No one stayed out too late, because tomorrow’s the big New Year’s Eve!

Questions: Have you ever shot a gun? Do you have New Year’s plans?

Although I am excited about the New Year, honestly tomorrow’s not going to feel like much of a holiday; Just one year ago, my dear, compassionate and wonderful cousin James died suddenly of an aneurism. He is in my heart all day, every day.

 

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Clueless

After a lazy, sleepy morning, I was pretty clueless about what to make for breakfast. Ultimately I went with a combination of almost everything in the pantry. (Note: I left the black beans behind. I didn’t think those tastes would mesh.)

Consumed: 1/4 C oats cooked with 1/2 C water. Topped with frozen blueberries, Great Harvest granola, almond butter and a side of non-fat blueberry Greek yogurt.

I don’t know whether I should blame it on the sleepy haze I was still in or just my own weirdness, but I’m also clueless as to how I ended up with two spoons…

I spent the remainder of the morning watching Dan and his dad chop a bunch of wood outside. For the record, that’s really not a bad activity as long as I get to watch from the comfort of indoors…

I also worked on my continual scanning of possible venues for the wedding. Believe it or not, I already have the church booked and my dress bought. Still, with a quickly-approaching July 16, 2011 date, I really need to stay on top of the planning.

Whew.

But, I’m taking the same approach with wedding-related stress as I do with any kind of stress: I get in a good workout and sweat it out!

Today, I talked Dan’s sister into going to the local athletic club with me. One of the greatest things about small towns is that there is a lot of generosity floating around. For example, I got an unlimited winter break pass for just $10. I would have expected to pay that for just one visit!

The only problem was that there were some unfamiliar machines, so I was clueless about what to do. I went with the easy options of some time on the elliptical and treadmill.

It was pretty late by the time Dan’s sister and I made it back home, but instead of getting lunch, I hopped back on the computer for some more wedding research. Somewhere along the way, I ended up eating an easy lunch of an apple and some flatbread with hummus and cheese. I’m just clueless as to why I didn’t snap any pictures.

Here’s the truth: If there is one main thing I’m really, really clueless about, it’s planning a wedding. I’ve never been to a wedding before, let alone had a hand in planning one. Now, with my own wedding at stake, I’m just a little stressed out about getting it all right. I’m not the type to sweat the really small details, but I also want it to be reflective of Dan and me.

So far, I’ve been really lucky to have the support of my mom and Dan’s mom. Still, I know it’s going to be a big learning experience for me… Only I don’t have the chance to get it wrong!

I did step away from it all for a much-needed relaxing and mostly wedding-talk free evening.

Consumed: Vegetable tortilla soup with fresh tortilla chips, cubed avocado and cheese. Served with a side of spring lettuce, hummus and almonds.

To round it all out, I went with some delicious Great Harvest rolls. I swear that place makes no bad products!

After dinner, Dan and I challenged his parents to some card games. In other words, there was a lot of laughing, a lot of good spirits and a lot of fun… All things that remind me why the wedding planning is worth it.

Even if I am clueless about it all.

(BIG, SERIOUS) Questions: Have you ever been to a wedding? Have you ever helped plan a wedding? Do you have any advice?


Clean eating

I can always depend on the holidays for providing a few things: time with family, ample relaxation and a lot of rich food.

This year, I certainly didn’t go overboard on sweets. Sure, there were the occasional bites of sugar cookies and slices of red velvet cake. But it wouldn’t be the holidays without indulgence, right?

Still, there is a point where I feel ready to get back to a bit cleaner, healthier eating habits. Apparently that point was today, because I opted for wholesome, nutrient-rich foods in almost all of my meals. The funny thing is this: I truly feel more energized and satisfied with these foods than any dozen slices of cake.

Breakfast:

Consumed: Great Harvest‘s Honey Whole Wheat bread with a sliced apple and a wedge of Laughing Cow Swiss cheese.

Dan’s sister got a few Jillian Michaels workout DVDs for Christmas. Because I was eager to do something with my legs, Dan’s sister offered to let me try out one of the videos. I opted for 30-Day Shred, Level 2 for a short, intense workout. Intense it was, too! That Jillian is a certified slave driver.

More than anything else, it just felt good to sweat a bit.

After showering up, Dan and I headed into Kansas City to take care of one big errand: getting my ring re-sized!

Apparently when Dan was buying my ring, he based the size on the old wives’ tale that ring size is usually equal to shoe size. Impressively that myth held pretty true, because the ring was only slightly large for my finger. Besides, I would much rather have had it too large to begin with than too small. I would have been sad if it didn’t fit on my finger during his proposal!

Lunch:

We knew the ring re-sizing would take some time, so we planned on dropping it off and then going for lunch. The jeweler was located near Houlihan’s, the restaurant we ate at the nigh before the half-marathon. We knew the food was good, so we decided to give it another go.

I went with a lunch combo of a salad and some veggie slider burgers.

Consumed: Spinach salad with blueberries, strawberries, kiwis, chopped hazelnuts and poppy-seed vinaigrette.

Consumed: One black bean and chickpea slider with cheddar cheese. Served with a side of asparagus.

While my meal was more than enough for my appetite, Dan’s portion of flatbread pizza was just a little too small. He was kind of disappointed about that…

No big deal, though, because I had enough to give him one of my sliders. By the time the waiter asked if we’d saved room for dessert, we were both able to confidently say that we were full…

Regardless, Houlihan’s gives away freshly baked chocolate chip cookies at the end of the meal. I’m certainly not one to turn that down no matter how many sweets I’ve had these past few days!

Serious recommendation to all future restauranteurs: If you give away cookies with every meal, I’ll love you forever.

Post-lunch, Dan and I still had some time to burn before picking up the ring. We decided to go by Cabela’s, which is where I gave Dan a gift card for Christmas. Even though it’s a definite “man store,” I also enjoyed looking at the displays.

One big thing that Dan and I have in common is that we’re both pretty outdoorsy. In fact, we are planning to go north for our honeymoon to do some hiking (although no real camping). With that in mind, it was fun for us to look through some of the hiking tools.

Finally, we got a call from the jewelry store that the ring was ready. For only having had the ring on my finger for a few days, I’d really grown used to it. I wanted it back!

My little bit of patience paid off, though, because the newly-sized ring fit much better. Although I missed it for a few hours, I’d miss it much more if it slid off my finger and I totally lost it!

Dinner:

By the time we’d finished all of our errands, it was getting late in the afternoon. We planned on meeting Dan’s family in Lawrence for dinner, so we decided to drive straight there and spend our spare time in town. Before we knew it, dinner time had rolled around and it was time to meet up.

We all decided on Zen Zero, a local Thai restaurant that also happens to be one of my favorites in town.

Consumed: Some kind of tofu, veggie and rice dish.

I can’t even describe all that was in the dish, but it all tasted amazing.

After dinner, we all walked down the street to see “Black Swan,” which I had long anticipated. Unfortunately, it was a bit more graphic than I expected. I wanted to see what would happen, but I didn’t want to sit through a bunch of uncomfortable scenes to get there. Ultimately, we decided to leave. I’ll look up the ended online and save myself the discomfort.

Besides, after a long day on the town, it was nice to get back to Dan’s and relax. Plus, that’s where the Moose Tracks and red velvet cake was. I’m not totally off sweets, after all!

Question: Do you wait until after New Year’s to “get healthy” or do you get back to healthy eating right after the holidays?


No limit on blessings

Two days before Christmas, I got the best gift I could ask for: official engagement to the man of my dreams.

I couldn’t dream to ask for anything else. Yet, my blessings didn’t stop there.

That is because my days have been filled with eager wedding planing, card game playing…

Eggnog drinking…

Gingerbread-Christmas tree decorating…

Cheesy photo taking…

Ring admiring (and more cheesy photo taking)…

“Pancake of Love” eating…

Fireside warming…

Church going…

Note: That’s where I’m getting married!

Country road walking…

Fiance talking…

Present opening…

Note: In addition to a ton of cookbooks and an ice crusher from the future mother-in-law, I also got the boots and laptop case I wanted!

And ample relaxing…

So, the basic lesson is this: If you don’t think you can possibly feel more blessed, just wait. God has his ways.

Question: What have been some of your Christmas blessings?

 

 


Christmas blessings

Merry Christmas!

As if these past few days haven’t served to show me just how blessed I am, this Christmas has sealed the deal. I’m just so overwhelmed with how lucky I am to have amazing, supportive and loving people in my life!

I truly, truly missed spending this time away from my family. My mom, dad, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were in my heart all day long (as is the case almost everyday). Nothing can replace real time spent together, giving hugs and sharing laughter.

However, if I’m going to be away from family, the only place I’d chose to be is with Dan and his family. In the comfort of their home, all I feel is love…

Dan’s mom even knows me well enough to get me an ice machine and stacks of vegetarian cookbooks for Christmas gifts!

Speaking of love, the Cowboys game is on and my fiance is downstairs watching it… I’m off to join him!

In parting, here is one of the pictures I got emailed to me from the professional photographers we happened to bump into after the proposal!

I am so blessed that I will get to spend my life with the greatest man I know.

 


Luckiest girl in the world

Once upon a time, a journalism-studying girl went to an engineering party. Suffice it to say, she was pretty lost on what was going on…

Eventually, she found her way up to the kitchen where she also found a loaf of bread and some slices of cheese. Quickly, she did what was second nature: She got cooking. (For the record, the homeowners were happy about this!)

Before too long, a cute, pharmacy-studying boy also found his way over to the kitchen. Apparently he felt just as lost at the party as girl, but he seemed to also feel comfortable with her in the kitchen. So, the boy and girl got talking while some grilled cheese was cooking.

Even when the cheese ran out, the girl and boy kept talking.

Fast forwarding through a few dances, an exchange of phone numbers and a few dates, the girl and boy soon became inseparable.

Along the way, the girl learned that they boy had a rugged side…An adventurous side…

And a very dedicated side; He was even willing to complete a half marathon with her!

With more and more the girl learned about the boy, the more and more she loved. The funny thing is that, apparently, the boy also kind of liked the girl.

This became especially obvious to the girl one December night.

The boy asked her to go to dinner near the place in Kansas City that they had finished the half marathon together. She figured the date would just be like most others: wonderful and special. But it was more than that…

It was a proposal.

After finding words to accept the proposal, the girl couldn’t stop thinking one, singular thought: “I’m the luckiest girl in the world.”

She also couldn’t stop thinking about how much she wanted to shout, “We’re engaged!” Instead, she managed to remain a bit more civilized and just ask a group of people to take her picture with the boy.

“You asked the right people,” said the man she asked. “My fiance here is a wedding photographer…”

Once again, all the girl could think is, “I’m the luckiest girl in the world.”

So the people took a picture on the girl’s camera.

Unfortunately that didn’t turn out too well. Fortunately, the people offered to take a picture on their fabulous camera and email it to the girl later.

“I’m the luckiest girl in the world…”

The next hour was filled with happiness and phone calls. Lots and lots of phone calls.

The hour after that was filled with an excited recounting of the events to the boy’s family. Then there were more pictures…

And certainly more thinking, “I’m the luckiest girl in the world.”

And the funny thing is, that was very, very true.

I’m the luckiest girl in the world.


Gift of biscotti

I’ve professed my love for biscotti before.

I’ve also professed my love for Dan (many times) before.

I’m not sure, however, that I’ve professed my love for Dan’s family. His mom, dad and younger sister are so kind, welcoming and generous — Within a matter of hours of meeting them, I was talking to them like friends I’d known for years.

For those reasons, I am really looking forward to spending this Christmas with them in Kansas. Although I will certainly miss my parents and sister, it’s good to know that I’ll still be spending time with people whom I also consider to be family.

I only wish that I had more to repay their generosity. But, as a college student, my budget is fairly limited. Fortunately, there is one gift I know will enjoy: Biscotti!

Actually, it’s a tradition for me to bring them biscotti when I come for visits. I think this is a win-win, because they get some small token of my appreciation, while I get to try out new recipes. This time, I went with my current favorite combination of flavors…

Cranberry, White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C macadamia nuts
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1/4 C white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 C dried cranberries
  • 2 T milled flax
  • 6 T water
  • 1 t vanilla

Note: You could probably swap the flax seeds and water for two eggs, but I haven’t tested that.

Directions:

  • In a small bowl, mix together flax seeds, water and vanilla. Set aside.
  • Using a food processor or blender, grind the macadamia nuts until medium-fine.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flours, ground macadamia nuts, sugars, baking powder, chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
  • Scoop a well in the center of flour bowl. Pour in the flax-seed mixture in. Stir or knead everything together. It should be crumbly, but sticks together.
  • Divide dough into two sections. Grease a cookie sheet and form each section of dough into a rectangle on the greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Remove and slice into long, thin cookie strips. Flip the cookies on their sides and space apart. Bake for another 20 minutes in the oven.
  • Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before moving them to a cooling rack.

I just had to restrain myself from snaking on them all before getting to Kansas!

For as much as I love biscotti, I must admit that my gift was overshadowed by the one that my mom sent with me to give to Dan’s family: a Great Harvest gift basket. I would live on that bread if I could.

Question: Do you have any traditional snack/drink combinations?

I’m not really one for milk and cookies, but I do enjoy dipping this biscotti in coffee!