Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zoo Life

We decided to go to the zoo today. We had tried to do this one other day, but got there after the zoo was closed. So, today, we arrived around 11am. We headed right over to the baby elephant viewing. Last time we went the line to see the elephant was at least an hour long; today, you could walk right up to it. The elephant was pretty cute trailing after his momma. From there, we headed to see the very exciting prairie dogs (note the tinge of sarcasm). We avoided the rest of North America. Jeremy likes it; I find it a bit repetitious since we live here. Instead, we viewed the aquariums with fish, the manatees, the gorillas and bonobos, the reptiles, and glimpsed the alligators and flamigos.

I must say that one of the highlights of the visit today is the Zoo Show we watched. They did a great job at entertaining during this 25 minute performance. There were animals coming and going from all over the place. There were wild things - skunk, tapir, porcupine, parrot, pigs, etc But the coolest thing was they had adopted over 100 animals from the local shelters to train. So there were all kinds of dogs and cats running in and out and doing all kinds of tricks. It was such a cool idea to bring new life to those animals abandoned or surrendered. Anyway, if you are at the Columbus Zoo (the #1 zoo in America!) at 12, 2, or 4, stop and see the show; it'll be worth your time.

Granola

I had another adventure in the kitchen... making granola. I had been putting it off thinking it would make the house smokin' hot because the oven is on for an hour. On the contrary, it didn't because the oven is only at 250F instead of the normal 350F for many other baking projects (like the banana bread I just made that baked for an hour!). I tried the Simple Granola recipe from the More with Less cookbook. Anyway... I gathered my ingredients: wheat germ, oatmeal, honey, salt, vanilla, wheat flour, oil, and sunflower seeds.

I mixed together in large goal and poured onto two cookie sheets. I started them baking in the oven (see left).

Finally, I was able to pull it out of the oven for the last time. I put it in my new container I had bought for a car ride home. It fit perfectly; so exciting.

And that's that. The granola would have been better with significantly less salt. I put in what the recipe called for, but it was waaaaay too much. I'll just make sure to tame the saltiness with ice cream, milk, yogurt, etc.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Painting

So, with all our free time home together, Jeremy and I decided to do a little painting upstairs. When we first got married, my mom and I worked on painting the whole downstairs and up the staircase. (Jeremy was a working man, and I was on summer break.) So, the only remaining white portion of our house (the entire house was white when I moved in) was the upstairs two bedrooms and bathroom. This was the week to conquer at least some of that. We painted the bathroom the same color as the downstairs bathroom - spiced vinegar. We had leftover primer and just had to purchase the top coat in semi-gloss. The 2nd bedroom we painted a green - bella grove moss, to be specific. The bathroom actually took the longest as there were very few open walls and a lot of cutting in. We primed on Wednesday and top coated on Thursday. On Friday night we worked on assembling a new closet storage system. It took awhile to put in the top hang rail - very confusing because somehow our closet had no studs in it.. Jeremy had a construction explanation, but I don't understand it well enough to explain. So, here are the before and after pictures for your enjoyment; I don't know how well the color will actual tranlate via picture, but it is the best I can do: (oops, apparently, I didn't take before or after pics of the bathroom... it was white, it is not white anymore)
.................Before







After....................

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Done

My bread is done. It doesn't look as perfectly shaped as a loaf should be, so if you have any tip on how to round out the edge to look like an actual loaf, please post it. I have yet to eat a slice as these pictures are right out of the oven and too hot to slice. It smells good though. Have a great day.

Baking Bread


Today I woke up and instead of procrastinating, I walked first thing. I don't love walking anymore - mostly because it is easier to just not do anything. At any rate, I walked. Then, I worked on paying some bills and recording some transactions. Finally, I decided I should go ahead and try to make some bread. I had been eyeing the Oatmeal Bread recipe in the More with Less cookbook. Its been awhile since I have baked yeast bread that required multiple risings, generally because I think it takes so long... and it does, but it gives you time to rest and be "stuck" in the house. So, it is started and rising in the warmth of the oven right now; we'll see how it turns out.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Travellin'

This past week seemed a bit hectic to me. We dog/housesitted for friends of our the first part of the week, so we were between two houses. Then, on Wednesday we headed to Wayne County. We had a small party for Jason to send him on his way with some of the extended family - hot dogs, brats, pizza, salad, angel food cake, bread pudding, potato salad, chips and salsa. (Strange assortment of food in some ways, but all of it was delicious.) I went to my parents house and Jeremy stayed at his. Mom and I stayed up talking til 11pm. It was late, but it isn't often I get her alone without small grandkids running around wanting grandma's attention! So, it was nice. I slept in my old room which is like a cave now that there is a room darkening shade for when babies sleep in it. It makes it very difficult to get up in the morning.

At nine o'clock, Sandy and I headed to Goshen to visit our friend (and my former college roommate), Rachel. I hadn't seen her since going out to Colorado 2 years ago. We had a great - and crazy - weekend. Thursday we hung out, caught up, and bonded with little Josaiah. We had a great meal from Simply in Season cookbook, veggie burrito bake with zucchini brownies for dessert. (It's a great cookbook, by the way.) On Friday, we went apple picking, visited downtown Goshen's sidewalk fun, and began dealingn with a puking child. Something went wrong with Josaiah's food intake. I felt so bad for him because he looked so sad and weak by a few hours of this. That evening we switched our plans from eating out to ordering in. Sandy and I went to visit other friends from Bluffton. While there because of strange circumstances, they had a visit from the local police - very mild stuff, but nonetheless.... Then, Friday evening we had a desparate call from Rachel's brother who had locked his keys and his girlfriend's luggage in his car at the train station in Elkhart 40 minutes before the train left. We rushed to his house, grabbed a spare key, and drove frantically to the train station, arriving minutes before the train did - whew! Saturday, we went out for breakfast, browsed the Farmer's Market, chatted, and had a sandwich before Sandy and I headed out. We picked up two girls from Camp Friendenswald and drove 5 hours to home. I hung out with my parents in the evening, went to Salem Mennonite Church on Sunday morning, and had a pancake lunch with my parents and various other family members who were around. It was good.

While I was doing this, Jeremy was helping his brother, Jason. On Thursday, he did some packing, painting, and miscellaneous stuff. Then, on Friday, they headed out of Wooster in a Penske truck with car trailer attached for Madison, Wisconsin. They stayed in some hotel with a lot of truckers, had a root beer float at A&W, and squeaky cheese. (I love squeaky cheese by the way. It is cheese curds that squeaky when you bite into them, so as a kid I called it squeaky cheese.) The next day, they left for Minneapolis, Minneasota - their final destination. Apparently, the place Jason is staying in is a large house which is shared by 7 guys - kinda like a frat house and not living by the motto "Cleanliness is next to godliness." It will be good motivation to find a new place sooner. In the evening, they went to the Twins vs Whit Sox game in the Metrodome. It was followed by a Jars of Clay concert because it was Faith and Family night. Jeremy came home on Sunday morning by plane. I picked him up in Columbus around 4pm.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Conference and more

I am hoping most of you had time to read the three consecutive vacation posts I wrote and are ready for the next dose. Don't worry, it will only be one blog. Jeremy and I attended Mennonite Conference (national conference that happens every two years in the Mennonite church) on Thursday because it was being held here in Columbus. I am a conference junkie, and have pretty much attended every one since 1992 (with the exception of two - Orlando and Charlotte). (Side note: that means I have been able to go to Sioux Falls, SD, Wichita, KS, St. Louis, MO, Atlanta, GA, San Jose, CA... and I love to travel.) I like gathering with other Christians to worship, learn, and discern God's will not only for my life, but for the Mennonite church as a whole. Jeremy had never been, so we went together. We went to a seminar on farming practices that are sustainable and sufficient for the world. It was interesting to hear the varying opinions about using genetically modified crops, growing only organic, and more. Adult worship followed - lots of acapella hymns mixed with some contemporary music. The speaker was Shane Claiborne. He was very easy to listen to. He talked about the fact that we often complain about what the church is (or is not), and we should just try to be the church we want. In other words, make the change. I went to a few more workshops during the day. Jeremy joined me for dinner that night. We met up with our friends from La Jara MVS unit (where we were two years ago) - David and Emmy. It was really good to see them again. We went to combined adult-youth worship that evening. Good skits, rocking music, impromtu songs by Ken Medema, and a good (but not as dynamic message) by a mother-daughter team. We met up with more people that evening and were home at 11:30pm ... whew, late night!

We are dog sitting this week for friends of ours. It is interesting how you look forward to the opportunity to housesit when you are a) a college kid, b) a MVSer sharing a house with 3 other people, or 3) homeless.... When you are residing all alone with your spouse in your own house, the thought is not nearly as enticing. However, we also know how difficult it is to find a dogsitter and wanted to help our friends out. So, we play fetch with Lucy, medicate her with Benedryl for allergies, feed her 3x a day, and stay overnight so she is not lonely. Oh yeah, there are also two cats who love to rub on you. It has been good to be with animals again, but not so good that we want one. That's it. Jeremy is working on painting the deck today. I have book club tonight. And the week rolls on....

Friday, July 3, 2009

Vacation: Part 3

My Mom's Side....

So, Friday morning was the transitional moment where we moved from my dad's family to my mom's family. We did a little swimming and hanging out. Then, after lunch, a group (which included Jeremy) headed to watch Transformers 2, and another group (which included me) headed to see The Proposal. Jeremy said his movie was good, but not amazing. I say my movie was a great one - for guys or girls. Ryan Reynolds is hilarious, as is Sandra Bullock who I always enjoy. It was good. By the time we returned the others were arriving. For supper, we had sloppy joes and funeral burgers (hard to explain, but one of my favorite sandwiches!) along with some sides.

On Saturday, it was back to chatting, the pool, and the picnic pavilions. It was hot every day of our trip - I mean hot, like 100 - 110F every day!!! In the evening, we had a party to celebrate my Grandpa's birthday back in March. We had this one catered as well - bbq brisket, pork, party potatoes, green beans, rolls, and delicious cake. We also took a picture, but the wind was blowing a bit more so it wasn't as excrutiating as before. There were 54 of us in attendance (missing 3 due to a tiny baby). We played frisbee, hung out, kids were on playground equipment, and there was a softball game started. It ended with a gorgeous sunset, reminding me a commercial where they sang (back in the 80s) "Ahhhh, Ahhhh, Kansas!"

On Sunday, Jeremy and I went to say good-bye to my dad's dad one last time. It was a good time with him because it was just us and he seemed to be a little clearer. He held my hand the whole time and wouldn't let me go. It was hard to leave and see him sitting all alone in the chair in his room. I am sure he was fine, it was just a sad picture to me. We left around lunch time, carpooling with my parents to Emporia to eat at Braum's. Braum's is the absolute best restaurant ever! I eat there every time I go home - their hamburgers are amazing, they make cherry limeades (I don't like them, but many do), and they have a great ice cream selection of premium ice creams. So if you are ever in Kansas/Oklahoma and there is a Braum's near you, I recommend stopping. We met my brother about an hour east of St. Louis at a hotel. We swam a bit in the pool before going to bed.

Monday, we left around 9ish for home. We got home around 6. It was good to be home and out of the car. My dad is staying with us this week because the Mennonite Conference is here in Columbus this year. We ordered pizza and made a salad for supper. At some point we went to bed. And now, it is Friday, four days later, and at some point, I need to post about our day at conference and add pictures. Until I do this, I am sure you have kept yourself busy reading three separate new posts. Sorry for the onslaught of news and writing. I hope it was not too boring, but I like to have put it down somewhere. Have a great weekend and be safe with your fireworks.

Vacation: Part 2

My Dad's Side....

On Thursday, Jeremy and I went to visit my Grandpa in the home. He had a stroke in April (I think) and has been receiving care in the home since then. He was overwhelmed by the people visiting - two of my brothers had already been by. He knew who I was, but didn't know my name. He was my Grandpa without the ability to get full sentences out all the time. I think he knows what he wants to say most of the time, but has a hard time getting it from his brain to his mouth. That's okay, I could tell he was happy and that was important.

In the late morning, we took all the little rascals to the splash park near our picnic pavilion. It is a real fun place. It is just a large cement pad with various water features - buckets that drop water on you, giant squirt guns you can aim, posts that spray water at you, and more. Some kids loved it, others were unsure of it and went for the swings. It was hot! I think the bank temperature display said 110F by afternoon. Sunny and hot, whew! After lunch (hot dogs and sandwiches), little kids went down for a nap, and older kids and some of us adults went swimming in either the hotel pool (near sleeping kids) or an outdoor pool near my aunt's house.

Thursday night was the official gathering time. A photographer came to take a family picture. I think there were 42 of us attending (3 were missing due to the upcoming birth of a baby). The picture hopefully turned out okay - it was so, so hot. I don't know how to describe it. We were all tucked in beside each other to fit in one picture, the humidity had moved in, it was still about 100F, and the wind was not present. The photo was finished and the feasting and fun began. This was one night where food was catered - bbq chicken, mac and cheese, potato salad, cole slaw, and delicious cake. After dinner, kids played in a baby pool (naked!), older kids played at the playground, and we old kids, played sand volleyball and sat and talked. It was a good night.

To be continued....

:Vacation: Part 1

I wanted to post something about vacation. I will have to go get the memory card from the camera for pics, so I'll see if I'm motivated to walk up the stairs to do this... yes, I am being lazy this Friday of summer vacation! At any rate, we left on Monday morning around 7:30am. We had a hotel reservation in St. Louis, so that was day 1 destination. It was a good trip, only about 7 hours of driving time. Our hotel room was.... a bargain find by Jeremy. He is really good at finding these, and they are usually great. Today started off a bit shaky however. Outside the temperature was probably about 95F and humid! Inside the room was about 105F and humid! Yep, no A/C had been turned on prior to our arrival. I am all about being green and conserving energy, but this was not what is normal in American hotels. Naturally, we turned the A/C up to its highest setting and let it blow. Sounds great, right? Well, it took a good 2 hours for the room to actually cool down to a place where you didn't feel like you needed to lay there without touching anything. After that, the hotel was not so bad. We me up with Jeremy's aunt and cousins at the hotel. They were traveling back to Texas and needed a stopping point, so we all stopped together. It was fun to spend a little more time with them. We went to eat at Johnny Rockets and watch the movie, Night at the Museum 2 which was a great movie. It made me laugh like the first one had.

We headed out the next morning after stopping by Cabella's around 11:30am. We only had about 7 more hours to travel before arriving in Hesston, KS. We made it in time for a great supper at my aunt's house with my cousin's family and my parents. It was good to see everyone. I went for a walk with my aunt, my mom, and my cousin that evening. I needed to get moving a little after being basically sedentary and strapped to a car seat for two days - I wonder how small children do it?? Then, I crashed into bed in the freezing cold that is my aunt's basement. It was wonderful.

On Wednesday, we did some cooking - well, I did very little, and my mom and aunt did a lot more. They were preparing for the two family reunions coming up that they were basically cooking all meals for! Crazy! My brothers and their families arrived sometime during this day. We all met up at my uncle's house for a pre-reunion meal - hamburgers, pasta salad, mac and cheese, fruit salad, and pudding dessert. It was delicious, loud, and good to see everyone. I say loud because of all the little children that had descended upon us :)

We moved all our things to a local hotel where we were housed for the rest of the week. That way when all my mom's side came in, we could all be together in one place. It was a nice hotel with an excellent breakfast every morning, a pool, and pre-air-conditioned rooms!
To be continued....