Saturday, June 30, 2012

St. Joseph County Fair

For the N-boy's first day home I suggested we spend some time at the St. Joseph County 4-H Fair.  I'd never been to a 4-H Fair until we moved here, but now I've gone every summer. 

The fair actually opened today, which apparently meant that almost none of the animals were in yet. Although the pigs were in, and we did get attacked by a wild boar almost run over by a very unhappy piggy who did not want to go into his little pen. So although that was a little disappointing, there were animals in the petting zoo area. 

A goat!! He looks suspect...

Pretty sure we need to get chickens. Don't tell the N-Boy that's my new plan.

Note this is not the wild boar tame piggy that tried to run us down. 

The only thing cuter than a llama is a baby llama.

Skee Ball. The midway game of champions. 

The candy prize for Skee Ball champions.

And then there were ducks. I REALLY want ducks in the office now. 

We also spent a little time just walking around, taking in the festive summer atmosphere before splitting a lemon shake up on the way back to the car. One of our shorter trips to the fair, but it was the only day we could go so I'm happy we were able to. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Festive for Friday...He's home.

After 299 days. 9 months, 25 days. 7176 hours. 430,560 minutes. 25,833,600 seconds.

The N-boy is HOME from Russia! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Last Meal.

The N-boy comes home tomorrow after ten months of dissertation research in provincial Russia. I get a lot of people asking me why I didn't go with him. Just read that first sentence again one more time: "ten months of dissertation research in provincial Russia." I love my husband and I love Russia, but that would not have worked for either of us.

So instead I've been at home with the cats. The N-boy does most of the cooking in our house, so his absence has been a challenge for me in terms of eating. I lost about 13 pounds the first month he was gone. My weight has gone back up some, but meals are probably one of the hardest things I've had to deal with in theses ten months of living by myself.

I've eaten a lot of cereal. And frozen waffles. And bagels. And my personal favorite, pizza rolls. Purchased 150 at a time from Sam's Club, I just opened opened my fourth and final bag of 70 little pieces of happiness. Or at least of calories.

I know this won't last after he gets home. Oh sure, it'll be nice to have home cooked meals again, but I'll sure miss my little pizza rolls.

And lest the Momcat worries, don't fret; I had a salad with dinner, too.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Weekend Rundown

Shopping with Jane.

Farmer's Market Festiveness. 

Friday is convinced I purchased fish for him. Sadly, he is mistaken.

Catcat looks down with disdain at Friday, knowing that there is definitely no fish in the bag. 

Yes, my cats evaluate and judge my life. I'm ok with that.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Festive for Friday...Not far and not fast, but enough.

I've felt a bit blah this week. Stress about an upcoming conference I'm planning at work, trouble sleeping [it's like my brain wouldn't turn off this week!], adjusting to some changes I've made in medication, the countdown until the N-boy gets home from Russia (13 days!) just lots of things. But I did have an aha moment on Wednesday.

I'm working really hard at keeping to a fitness schedule. Wednesday is a running day. I don't run very far and I don't run very fast, but running is good for me. It helps me clear my mind and I feel less stressed. But when I'm feeling blah it's sometimes super hard to get out the door and do anything, much less something that takes actual effort.

Luckily for me, BabyBrother has been super supportive of, well, pretty much everything lately, even though he's three time zones away. So we were chatting online and he kicked me off and said to go for a walk. So I shut the computer and walked to the front door and literally could not get myself out the door. I don't know what it was. Finally I realized this was silly and that if I didn't want to go outside I didn't have to, but that I could go down to the basement to Floyd the treadmill instead. Where I ran two miles at an 11:00 pace. Not far and not fast, but it was enough.

So this week my festive comes from realizing that I do have choices when it comes to my health. Festive is making healthy choices even when I don't always feel like it at the time, because I know it will make me feel better in the long run. Festive is know that I may not be fast like my new running shirt says, but knowing that putting on that shirt and going for a run is sometimes enough.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Social new frontier.

So I went to a conference for work two weeks ago where two of the sessions I attended were about using social media in international education. And they were amazing. I came back home with SO many ideas on how we can incorporate various types of social media into our office. I've literally been buzzing about them to every poor soul who makes the mistake of wandering into my glass walled cubicle. I seriously pulled up my Pinterest account to show off my "Flamingos are Festive" board in a meeting today to try and demonstrate the untapped potential that exists within the expanding world of social media.

Feel sorry for my coworkers.  

But in addition to that I'm just learning how much fun it is on a personal level. Last night, for example, I participated in a Twitter Party hosted by Tina of Carrots'n'Cake, one of the healthy living blogs I read. It was all about the new OikosFroYo. I love froyo. I love her blog. And I now love Twitter. So to me, this was super fun. I got to follow along and respond, working on other projects in other windows. 

I've used Facebook since it first came out , but now I'm getting comfortable with Twitter, too. I feel excited and relaxed and looking forward to finding more ways to engage socially with my every day life. 

What do you think about Social Media? Love? Hate? Don't really get it (I'm looking at you, coworkers!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Starbucks Gold Card.

I reached a new high last week. Or a new low depending on how you look at it. I received my Starbucks gold card in the mail.

And I know you're wondering how I received this high honor. Basically it's a tangible demonstration of how I have been subsisting on skinny vanilla lattes, non fat caramel macchiatos and, my new personal favorite, caramel frappucinnos for the last nine months. It says, "Congratulations! You've been to Starbucks at least 30 TIMES!"

See. It literally says "Congratulations." And they gave me a gold star!

There are worse crimes in life than getting gold stars.

And I'm pretty sure that my Starbucks habit is what can be held accountable for me NOT continuing to lose weight at a highly rapid and unhealthy rate for the last six months. (That and my pizza rolls, of course).

Look at all the nice things they said! 

So now I'll get a free drink on my birthday, a free drink every 15 drinks and free refills on coffee and tea when I'm drinking in the store. Which hey, sounds like a reason I should take my computer and work on stuff in the store. So really, thank YOU Starbucks, for giving me inspiration to be more productive.

Or at least more caffeinated.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Raised Vegetable Beds

In this third year of home ownership I decided to again try my hand at a vegetable garden. We planted a garden the first spring we were in the house, and I learned some very VERY important lessons about reading and believing the information printed on seed packets.

Lesson 1: If the seed packet says that the acorn squash seeds need to be 3-5 feet apart, it is serious. It is not an attempt to deceive you. Do not plant the seeds one foot apart.

Lesson 2: If you fail to follow lesson one, you cannot use tomato cages to corral fully grown squash plants. But your husband will get a kick out of watching you try.

Lesson 3: Gardens have to be weeded, not just watered. That same water you give to the plants is also a favorite drink of the weeds. Your husband will not get a kick out of coming home after a week away for research and discovering that you have adapted the mindset that if you ignore the weeds they will go away.

Last year because of some crazy uncertainness about what our plans were (moving or not) we didn't do a garden. But this year we decided to give it another go, this time with raised beds. Our house sits on the side of an old railroad embankment, so even though the trains and tracks are long gone, a lot of bricks, glass and other debris remain in the soil. My friend Bob helped me build the beds [this adventure, aka Laura's Adventure with Power Tools, will be elaborated on in a separate post], and then the MomCat volunteered herself to fill them with soil when she was here for an extended visit.

Daddo started the seeds and then sent the seedlings out with the MomCat. Here is how they looked when I planted them on May 14.

Note the tape measure. Yes. I really did measure. 

Daddo sent me a several types of each vegetable, so I buried the cups next to the plant so I'll know what's what. 

I'd like to raid Pinterest for cute little plant markers. Maybe this weekend. 

And here is how they look on June 11. I can't believe how much they've grown in less than a month! 

I've got broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, eggplants and tomatoes. So far I've only lost one of the tomato plants, and he was sickly looking to begin with so it totally doesn't count.

What are you growing in your garden this year? Any tips for a successful garden?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Weekend Recap

This was literally the first weekend since April 19 that I wasn't traveling or entertaining. And it was glorious. I love how busy I've been this spring, but I was definitely ready for two days of hanging out at home.

Here are a few highlights of my weekend:

Used my grill and didn't catch the house on fire. 

Went to Target with Jane. 

Mocha Coconut Frappuccino. 

Took a long walk along the river on a beautiful day. 

Yes, these taste as good as they look. 

Add in sleep, a SUPER successful run, and reading outside in the sunshine, and I'd say it was a pretty darned good weekend. Here's to hoping this week is equally as good!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Farmer's Market Haul-June 9

We're full swing into the Farmer's Market season here, which means most of my weekly groceries come directly from there instead of the regular store. I don't get everything there, but do get as much as I can.

This week's haul included coffee, peppers, grape tomatoes, peaches, strawberries, baby spinach, snow peas and a steak!

Picture of the goods, minus one peach that I couldn't resist eating on the walk home! 

I cannot wait to eat these!

Now I just have to figure out how to cook the steak. I can try and figure out how to use our Weber grill (which involves a lifeline of either phone a friend or find a youtube video) or use the George Foreman (which seems sacrilege since it's a gorgeous summer day!).

Suggestions? Inspirations? Links to helpful youtube videos that tell you how to not set your steak on fire? 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Festive for Friday...Cotton Candy For the Win

Why, yes. It is Friday. Thank goodness.

A picture is worth a gazillion words this week. I bring you a one of my favorite coworkers from the university wide staff picnic this week. The theme was "Under the Big Top."  Cotton Candy for the Win.

What made your week festive? 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Calendars and lists and schedules oh my!

A few weeks ago I was inspired by Cassie over at Back To Her Roots when she shared how she uses a cute little homemade PAPER calendar to help keep her on track for some of her fitness goals and Google Calendar to (micro)manage her day to day tasks. (I should note here that I've never met her, and hope she doesn't mind that I've taken her system and run with it.) Color Coding? Cute little pictures? Technology? How could I NOT be inspired and awed by her system. Especially since my motto is clearly

The N-Boy and I were already using Google Calendar, and I even had it set up to sync to my work calendar and Audrey the iphone. But one of my frustrations had been the lack of ability to color code different types of events. Cassie's solution to simply create different calendars for each category of event was brilliant! Not only is each category color coded, but I can also show or hide each calendar as I wish, so that if I only want to look at my workout schedule, I can!

It's still a work in progress, but I'm starting to feel a lot more organized and able to find a balance between all of the things I want to accomplish each day.

My other struggle lately has been avoiding the inclination to plop down in front of the TV or computer when I get home from work, so that the next thing I know it's past my bedtime, lunch isn't packed, dishes aren't done, and I haven't done anything except for make my way through four episodes of Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior on Netflix. [You'll be pleased to know that I've now finished the first season and have moved on to rewatching Dollhouse.]

I really liked Cassie's idea of also using a paper calendar where accomplishments can be physically checked off. So I used a blank printed calendar (from a app on my printer) and chose eight categories of things that I want to get done each day:
  • Get up with my alarm
  • Exercise (yoga, run, walk)
  • Read at least 30 minutes
  • Sew or quilt
  • Do some kind of writing, blogging, or engaging in Social Media <---newest obsession! 
  • Work on something for our Etsy shop, Prairie Sewn Companion
  • Do Kelly's Daily Mission
  • And Shine my Sink before I go to bed
Most of these tings take only a few minutes, and the ones that take longer are things that I genuinely WANT to do, but sometimes have a hard time getting the momentum to start. Enter-the happy chart-because sometimes grownups need gold stars, too.

So it's only day four, but so far so good. Now I just need ideas for what I get as a prize when I fill up my chart at the end of the week. Yes, this reminds me of a three year old earning stars for good behavior, but I'm ok with that.

So tell me, what should my prize at the end of the week be? 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Eating Out(side)

At the beginning of every summer I get the urge to create a summer bucket list. All of the things that I should do during the summer to truly enjoy the long days, warm weather and general happiness that comes in stark contrast to the month of February filled with lake effect snow and frigid temperatures (please, ask me how I feel about February). 

I'm still putting the 2012 list together (and possibly writing it down this year so I don't forget!) but I know there is one thing I've already started trying to do more of: eating outside. 

We have a nice patio in the back of the house, with a door leading directly onto it. With a wrought iron table and chairs set that is also quite nice. So there's no reason that when the weather is this gorgeous (look at that sunshine in the background!) that I'm sitting on my butt in front of Netflix eating pizza rolls. Summer calls for sitting outside, with SALAD (I hope the MomCat doesn't pass out when she read that), and with Caprica the Computer so that I can catch up on blogs. Huzzah for Summer!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Huzzah for Summer!

I know I've been lax about posting when BabyBrother starts to send text messages requesting a blog update. Thanks, BabyBrother, I didn't realize you cared so much about my quilting and crafting! You're the best! ;)

Although, to be fair, BabyBrother has a valid point. I got super wrapped up with the rest of the Momcat's visit after our grand Paducah adventure that I didn't even finish posting about that. Top that off with our second craziest time of the year at work (leading up to graduation, second only to the mind numbing chaos that is new student orientation), beautiful weather and lots of travel and I'm just a bloggity blog fail.

Thus we kick off the first full week in June with a(nother) attempt at getting back on the blogging bandwagon. So for all of your faithful readers out there (which seems to consist solely of BabyBrother), thank you for hanging in there.