Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Our Life the Past 5 Weeks--In 40 Pictures or Less!

Man, life has been hectic around our house!  I can't wait until the holidays get here and things slow down some...yes, I did mean to imply that the holidays will be slower than our schedule as of late!

Our weekdays have been crazy and our weekends full...but we did manage to do a few fun and/or interesting things during the past 5 weeks!  Here are the highlights, in 40 pictures or less...

On September 25, we celebrated our 1-year wedding anniversary!  We went to church, spent the afternoon at home, went out to supper and caught a movie...

I did something I never thought I would do--at least not within the first year of marriage--I bought my husband a self-serving gift...wireless headphones for the TV in our bedroom. He can stay up as late as he wants watching TV (if he even stays awake...) and I can sleep without being disturbed :-)

The other half of my present to Justin was tickets to Bill Cosby's performance here at Kansas State University on October 9.  Bill is not the "young" Heathcliff Huxtable that he once was, but he's still just as funny!  Ironically enough, most of his "stand-up" (if you can call it that, considering he sat down the whole time!) was about married life...

Historically, Justin isn't a creative gift giver.  In fact, he's more the type to give you money and let you pick out the "gift" yourself.  Not that I'm complaining but it's not always the most romantic/considerate way to go about gift giving.  So when he surprised me with a band to go with my wedding ring I was quite shocked!

Here is my engagement ring that then became the wedding ring:

And this is what it looks like with the band...we had to have the band custom-made but it turned out gorgeous and looks like they were meant to be together!  For a girl who didn't want any diamonds to begin with, I have to admit I was pleased with Justin's taste ;-)

The following weekend, we removed a tree from my late grandparents' farm house.  Justin was in charge of climbing the tree and doing all the cutting; I was responsible for running the porter wrap, lowering the limbs down to the ground and dragging the brush away.  I kinda knew what I was doing...but donning a bright yellow Hard Hat definitely convinced everyone else that I was a pro at tree work ;-)  The only part that made me nervous was at the very end.  Justin was getting ready to "notch & drop" the main section of the tree down to the ground...and I had to hold onto a rope tied around the tree.  If I didn't hold on just right, we ran the risk of the tree falling onto the garage or even worse, onto Justin.  Talk about nerve-wracking!

Then the weekend after that, we dog-sat my sister's wiener dogs!  It was a hoot!  They had a hard time accepting that their parents weren't coming back right away...

Poor Bennie spent most of his time laying in his crate...

While Rudy just made himself comfortable...

But after a while, they were finally okay letting Mitzi chase them around and attempt to stir them up!

Then last weekend, we decorated the outside of our house for Halloween!  It had already been decorated for Fall....

But it just wasn't scary enough for Halloween...So we wrapped our front porch in a giant cobweb complete with spiders (that really move!) crawling in it; our flowerbed was transformed into a graveyard and; a rising skeleton can be found awaiting visitors by the front steps.  Then to top it all off, Mom found my motion-activated motorized "swaying" broom that cackles like a witch--it will be going right by the front door come All Hallows Eve!  If you can't tell, I get just a tad excited for Halloween...

And FINALLY, this past weekend, we celebrated the marriage of our friends, Ryan and Joanne, in Wichita!  Ryan and Justin met when Ryan started working for Asplundh in Manhattan--the two of them are like two peas in a pod!  Ryan has since been transferred to a different city but there's always fun to be had when Justin and Ryan meet up. Or, as I like to tease the guys, near-death experiences to be had...that story might require its own post!  But back to the story--we wish Ryan & Joanne a lifetime of happiness together and we had fun catching up with everyone.

It's crazy to think that next week will already be November...and our weekends in November are already full of church activities, meetings, a baby shower and our annual trip to Louisiana.  I know the month will fly by and to me, that's a good thing.  Because come December, my new niece or nephew will finally be here!  I just hope my brother and his wife are as ready for the baby to be here as I am :-)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What We Ate Last Week

Monday:  Mini Meatloaves* with cheesy cauliflower

Tuesday:  Shredded beef burritos in a chili sauce with Spanish rice and black beans

Wednesday:  --Left-Over Night--

Thursday:  The Pioneer Woman's Asian Flat Iron Steak* over Thai peanut rice noodles with Green Giant "Healthy Immunity" vegetables

Friday:  El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant

Saturday:  Our friends, Ryan and Joanne, celebrated their wedding at the Fox & Hound in Wichita...lots of Caesar salad, southwest egg rolls, boneless wings, traditional wings (they ROCKED) and ribs.  Needless to say, our friends know how to throw a good party ;-)

Sunday:  Rotisserie Chicken plus cheddar broccoli rice and more BROCCOLI!

The Learning Curve(s):
*Mini Meatloaves...I saw this RECIPE online and was curious about it--it had rave reviews but simple ingredients.  It almost seemed too simple to be edible.  I mixed up the ingredients and it was pretty milky...but I went ahead and put the "meatloaves" in the oven and they turned out DELICIOUS! The sauce was incredible--who knew that ketchup, mustard and brown sugar would be such a great combo?!  Thankfully, I was brave enough to double the recipe so we'll have a batch of meatloaves already prepared for another meal. 

*Asian Flat Iron Steak...this RECIPE was originally created by Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman.  The marinade reminded me a lot of my mom's go-to marinade for steak but the use of Sesame Oil (yummmmmmmmmm) intrigued me.  It turned out really well--but I think it would have had even more flavor had we decided to brave the "elements" and grill the steak...rather than pan fry it.  However, the marinade was a great match for our Asian-inspired sides!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What We Ate Last Week

The weather has been BEAUTIFUL this weekend!  It's safe to say that I do not want this weekend to end!  Justin raked up all the leaves that had fallen into our yard and I put out our outdoor Halloween decor.  Plus, K-State beat Texas Tech last night.  The Wildcats are now 6-0!

Monday:  Slow Cooker Meatballs in Peanut Chile Sauce with steamed rice

Tuesday:  Chicken, Corn and Rice Casserole with mixed veggies

Wednesday:  --Left Over Night--

Thursday:  Hunam Delivery

Friday:  Mexican Lasagna with green beans

Saturday:  Chicken Strips and Oreos*

Sunday: Tilly Soft Tacos* with pinto beans

The Learning Curve(s):
*Chicken Strips and Oreos:  If the deli person ever offers to make you a batch of chicken strips because you're buying several pounds, ACCEPT her offer!  I was impatient and chose not to wait--turns out, the chicken strips were like rubber!  What a sneaky way of telling me that I should get fresh ones ;-)
*Tilly Soft Tacos:  We love these!  The recipe comes from a family friend and they're scrumdidliumcious--plus, you will usually find that you have the ingredients on hand to make them.  And I must mention: they make awesome leftovers.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Introducing...Coach Justin!

Back in May, I "announced" that my husband was going back to school.

As I explained in the original post, it was not a long-term commitment.  Rather, he would be taking a Summer Intersession class at Kansas State University to finish up his coaching certificate.

July 5 was finally here and Justin was ready to be a student again!

1st Day of School...Not the best picture, but at least you can see the straps of his backpack!

The month of July went by fast...Justin went to class Monday through Thursday and reported to work on Fridays.  The weekends were spent studying and preparing his major projects.

That is...except for one particular weekend.

The weekend that Justin finally met Frank Martin...in person!  Justin had accidentally called him earlier in the summer and had quite an entertaining conversation with Frank.  When their conversation wrapped up, Justin made sure to mention to Frank that he'd be seeing him later...

Long story short, the time finally came for Justin to spend his weekend assisting Frank at his Father/Son Basketball camp.  Ironically enough, two of K-State's current assistants had recruited Justin when he was playing Junior College ball in Illinois.  At the time, they were both at different schools and both fighting for him.  Obviously, they didn't win as Justin ultimately chose K-State...but now they're both coaching here.  Talk about a small world! 

Speaking of a small world...small town...whatever...Frank couldn't figure out how Justin has been in Manhattan this whole time and Frank didn't know about him.  After all, it's kinda hard to miss a nearly 7-foot tall, athletic black man walking around a predominately white, normal-stature, not-necessarily-athletic community.

It proved to be an exhausting weekend, but I haven't seen Justin so excited in a long time.  He loved Frank.  Some of Frank's buddies from Miami were in town to help and were super fun to work with.  One of Justin's former teammates is now the Graduate Teaching Assistant for the team so he was able to catch up with Darren...and a bunch of the current members assisted with the camp, allowing Justin to relive the "good old days" for the course of a weekend.  Even more exciting, at least for the kids, was the guest appearance by Jacob Pullen as he came back to help with the camp.

But do you want to know what REALLY tripped Justin's trigger?  Frank and his coaches told Justin they wanted him to come up to Bramlage and practice with the guys!  Justin was PUMPED!  You may be wondering, "How often does he practice with them???"  The answer: never.

I could kick him.  Not gonna lie.  Now that all the guys are back in town and practicing, Justin comes home from work and is beyond tired.  Maybe when things slow down at work this winter, Justin will have enough energy to go shoot some hoops and do some drills!

However, that really doesn't matter.  What DOES matter is that Justin finally received his coaching certificate in the mail!  It took a while but nonetheless, the credentials are all there and he can start coaching college ball shall he ever decide to! 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Eating School Lunch--The Past 2 Weeks

As you may remember, I have volunteered to eat lunch with some of my students every Thursday for the remainder of this semester.

So far, I have three meals "under" my belt!

The first week, I posted about the carb-laden meal of mac & cheese; hashbrowns; dinner rolls; chocolate milk and green beans or coleslaw.

Last week, it was spaghetti!  I'm not sure where the sauce had gone, but maybe the red flecks on the noodles was the remnant of some previously existent sauce???  The kids didn't seem too put off by the meal...but they sure got a kick out of how the noodles stuck like glue to their silverware!  To my surprise, though, they were offered the left overs and the kids were RUNNING to the table to get more spaghetti...

Google images...

But then came today's lunch:  Chili Soup.  I love chili soup...but the school's was fairly unappetizing.  The kids were loving it, though!  The portion was itty-bitty but I guess the kids are kind of itty-bitty so it makes sense.  They served it with corn chips, a cinnamon roll, peaches and cut *fresh* vegetables.

Google Images

I have to admit, had this meal been made at home, I would have been in heaven!  Thanks to all the days of eating school lunch as a child, I now expect cinnamon rolls to be served with chili.  Is anyone else that way???  Justin doesn't understand why I'm convinced we HAVE to have cinnamon rolls whenever I cook chili...but then again, his school district never served the two items together in the same meal.  Old habits die hard!

Even though I've only "eaten" school lunch three times now, I've already noticed several things.  The kids only have to take the main dish and one other item.  Wth?!  We never got away with that!  And if they don't want the main dish, they can request pancakes (out of a bag, of course).   Most kids pick the chocolate milk (go figure) but they don't have to drink it.  Again, wth?!  We never got away with that!  Finally, I've also noticed that the same little girl has managed to sit by me each and every time...I don't know how she's managed it considering there's 75 students trying to sit with me.  Someday they'll wake up and realize it's SO NOT COOL to eat lunch with your teacher!

Monday, October 10, 2011

What We Ate Last Week

At the beginning of last week, I was super excited...it looked like we weren't eating out AT ALL for an entire week--talk about great news for my stomach and waistline!  But then, company and a "night out" happened.  Oh well!  The only warning for this week:  I have lots to say about our food!

Monday:  Barbequed chicken wings* with herb-seasoned roasted potatoes and mixed veggies

Tuesday:  Roasted chicken with mashed potatoes* and green beans

Wednesday:  --Left Over Night--

Thursday:  Bierock casserole*

Friday:  Shredded beef enchiladas with cheese sauce and salsa verde*, dirty rice and Green Giant Healthy Weight veggies (carrots, black beans, sugar snap peas and edamame)

Saturday: Royal Thai with my brother, sister-in-law, sister and brother-in-law

Sunday:  Hibachi Hut before Bill Cosby's performance at K-State!

The Learning Curve(s):
*Barbequed Chicken Wings...I made a simple marinade of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce, Sriracha sauce and apple cider vinegar.  The chicken was super tender with just enough sweetness to crisp the skin and a hint of heat to make them "buffalo-like."

*Mashed potatoes...I made a double-batch of roasted red potatoes the night before using the "herb" seasoning blend sold next to the potatoes at Dillon's.  Come Tuesday, I reheated the leftover potatoes, added your milk and butter, plus some sour cream and mashed away.  They turned out delicious and now Justin realizes I really CAN make mashed potatoes!

*Bierock casserole...oh, how I love this stuff!  I saw a different RECIPE for it the other day and decided to try it.  The addition of caraway seeds made it a little more authentic tasting than the usual cream-of-mushroom based recipe.  Being the end of Oktoberfest, you should try it sometime!

*The enchiladas...Right before school started, I made a bunch of shredded beef taquitos (RECIPE) and froze half the batch.  I pulled them out of the freezer Friday night, put them directly in a baking dish and they baked up nice and soft like an enchilada.  I smothered them with Velveeta queso-cheese and salsa verde once they were done cooking--and they were uh-mazing!  In fact, they were better than the taquitos!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Craigslist "Deal" of the Day

If you know much about me, you'll know I'm a Craigslist junkie...and I mean JUNKIE!!!  I even have an app on my phone that allows me to enter what I'm looking for and whenever someone posts the item, it sends me an alert.  Awesome!

As of late, I haven't had much time to cruise Craigslist...and that's really the only way you get the good stuff.  The whole "early bird gets the worm" phrase couldn't be any more true when it comes to Craigslisting!

Not long after we moved into our house, I spied an incredible vintage yellow metal glider on a porch just down the street from us.  I may have even made Justin drive by it one time just so I could show him...with the intent of maybe trying to talk him into asking the people if they would sell it.

It didn't work.  He thought it was kinda creepy to go ask someone to sell their porch furniture.  He was probably right! 

Months later, Mom saw the newest Grandin Road catalog laying on our dining room table and she mentioned she really liked the metal gliders as well.  Guess it's true--like mother, like daughter!

Fast forward to yesterday and guess what I saw on Craiglist...this beautiful--but worn--metal glider!

The seller was in Junction City, about 20 miles away, and was asking $75 for it.  It needed repainted (obviously) but they lost interest in the project and wanted to free up some space.

I called right away and I'm not kidding--they had JUST sold it.  More proof that the early bird gets the worm!  If only I had known I was in the market for a metal glider, I would have updated my app ;-)

At $75, whoever went home with the glider is a lucky person.  What would I have done with it???  Paint it, of course, and put it on our back patio!  Or, maybe with the holidays coming up, I would have given it to my mom for Christmas.  Some people aren't too keen on giving "used" items as gifts but hey--it would have beat her Mother's Day gift from about 23 years ago...washcloths and bars of soap FROM her own bathroom.  As a broke 5-year old, it was the best I could do :-)

Anyhow, to wrap things up--my "luck" didn't lead to a deal of a day...but rather the deal that got AWAY!

With a fresh coat of paint, the glider could have looked like this sweet baby!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Great Idea to Eat School Lunch

I may be crazy.

Or just slightly crazy.

I have volunteered to eat lunch every Thursday--for the entire semester--at one of my elementary schools.

Keep in mind, I have not eaten a single school lunch during my 18 months of employment with our school district.  And I had no problem with that!  The smells aren't appetizing, the food looks gross and the styrofoam bowls/plates don't help the "wow" factor any.

Google Images

That being said, I quickly modified my plan.  I decided I would EAT with the kids, but I wasn't eating what they're eating.  It was time to bust out my lunch bag and Thermos!

Last week was my first school lunch of the semester and the menu was a flashback to 20 years ago when I was a kiddo at Morganville Elementary:

*Macaroni and Cheese with Little Smokies (they still only give ya 4!)
*Hashbrowns, McDonald's style
*Dinner roll
*Green beans or coleslaw (the old people kind)
*Chocolate milk

Can you say holy carb overload?!  Some of the kids loved the meal, others hated it.  Had I personally gone through the line, I would have gotten the green beans and maybe, MAYBE the little smokies.  Being the wise adult that I am, I don't know if I would want to consume the "meat"...but I don't know if I'd want to go hungry, either!  I have to give the kids credit for eating this stuff.  Now I just get to wait and see what they decide to serve this week :-/

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What We Ate Last Week

Monday:  Balsamic Herb Pork Chops with Green Giant Steamable Potatoes & Sugar Snap Peas

Tuesday:  Sloppy Joes* with Broccoli, cauliflower and carrots smothered in cheese

Wednesday:  Left-Over Night

Thursday:  Spaghetti* with garlic bread and green beans

Friday: Date Night at Tup Tim Thai in Topeka...this is Justin's favorite place to eat in Topeka so whenever we're in town, we have to go there!

Saturday:  Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Corn and Green Chile Rice casserole (check out the recipe HERE)

Sunday:  Snack-Out Night at Hy-Vee...we had just gotten back into town and I had forgotten to plan a meal for tonight so we wandered around the Hy-Vee deli and frozen aisles until we had enough random odds-and-ends to count as a "meal" :-)

The Learning Curve(s):
*Sloppy Joes:  Growing up, I had a huge aversion to Sloppy Joes.  My dislike for them was equal to my aversion to coleslaw...if you missed my rant about my hate-turned-love for coleslaw, feel free to check it out HERE.  It seemed that anytime we went to a farm sale, there were Sloppy Joes served for lunch...ick.  Everyone else would get super excited but I'd rather go hungry than eat one.  That lasted until Mrs. Polson made us cook Sloppy Joes in our junior high Home Ec class.  Trust me, I didn't want to go to class that day but I did...and I fell in love with her recipe!  To this day, it's the only Sloppy Joe recipe I will eat.  Lots of tomato sauce, worchestershire sauce, chili powder and brown sugar makes for a great Joe :-)

*Spaghetti:  This was the first--and probably last--time that I ever tried "rice" pasta.  I don't know if I over-cooked it but it was mushy and the noodles were really thick...we went ahead and ate it and honestly, it tasted fine.  But it looked nasty. I would rather eat regular wheat pasta and have raging stomach and sinus problems for several days than look at such unappetizing noodles!