Friday, May 29, 2009


So it's 3:30pm on Friday afternoon. I get to go leave work in exactly one hour. The way this last hour has been, the weekend can't come soon enough. Seth just happens to be taking a nap right now and I'm really pissed off and I need to gripe to somebody so you all get to listen.

As many of you know, I'm an x-ray technician. I work in the R & D department so I get to help build and test all the new x-ray equipment before it goes out to regular production. So about an hour ago I was working really hard trying to make the rest of the day go by fast. The thing I was working on was a radiator-like machine called a heat exchanger. This particular heat exchanger weighs about 70 lbs. It's not easy to handle.

This heat exchanger runs on oil, so when I first build it, I have to fill it up with oil and make sure there's no air bubbles in it. That's because when it gets hooked up to an x-ray tube if there's bubbles in the system, it'll make the x-rays look bad. It'll make the doctors think you have a big tumor. The oil filling process is not fun. There's long hoses flying everywhere and I have to man-handle the heat exchanger to rotate it and shake it to get all the bubbles out. It's not a pleasant experience on a normal day and today was worse.

There are 2 oil connections. One is for the oil to go in, one is for the oil to go out. I got the "oil in" hose connected and was in the process of connecting the other hose when the stupid connector got stuck open and began gushing oil everywhere. ARGH! I finally got the damn thing shut off but not soon enough. The heat exchanger and cart it was sitting on were covered in oil as was the floor. My clothes were somehow spared, but at that point it wouldn't have made any difference. I wanted to scream really bad words and smash everything on the floor.

So, I've spent at least the last half hour trying to clean up the huge mess. I was hot and sweaty and tired and pissed and then I got paint thinner on my jeans and I just want to go home. I finally got the heat exchanger filled up all the way which was no easy feat. For some reason (I wonder why...) today it felt like it weighed 500 pounds and things just weren't working. I decided I'll finish it on Monday when I've had time to forget this unpleasant afternoon.

I need a vacation.

Today's Special: May 31-June 6th

Ok so I missed last week. Big deal. I took a short break from planning. Now I'm all refreshed and ready to get back into the saddle of domestic goddessness. In case you're wondering I did make a couple meals last week. I ended up making Chicken Pineapple Stir-fry, which was pretty good. It was a new recipe. Then I also made some of that Mrs. Grass Homestyle Beef Vegetable soup (I added ground beef and a few extra noodles). I have to say I was surprised at how good it was. I actually really liked it. Other than those two things, I didn't make anything. Although I did order a couple pizzas. Does that count?

But aren't you proud of me? I'm totally posting this like 2 days early! I had to because I'm doing my grocery shopping tonight or tomorrow morning. Probably tonight. I'm sure Seth will think it's the funnest date ever :D

Sunday: Grapefruit Marmalade Marinated Salmon with rice pilaf and asparagus

(The recipe actually used orange marmalade but I have grapefruit that I want to try. This is new.)

Monday: Creamy Spinach Mushroom Pasta (New recipe, see below.)

Tuesday: Skillet Turkey, Broccoli, and Bulgar (New recipe, see below.)

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Hawaiian Haystacks This is a Hanson family thing. I thought it sounded weird the first time I had it, but it was pretty good. I like to use brown rice.

Weekend: Vegetarian Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and steamed carrots (this is a tried and true recipe... I actually really like it!)

Creamy Spinach Mushroom Pasta
1 tablespoon Olive oil
2 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 ounces Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
8 ounces Fresh fettuccine (or other fresh pasta)
4 cups fresh spinach
1/3 cup (about 3 ounces) Light garlic and herb spreadable cheese
¼ cup Low-fat milk
¼ teaspoon Salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. When done, reserve ¼ cup of water, drain the rest, and set pasta aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until just soft and fragrant. Add mushrooms, stir, cover, and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until mushrooms are soft.
Add spinach to the skillet and stir until just wilted. Reduce the heat to low and mix in the garlic and herb cheese and milk.
Turn off the heat and add the pasta to the skillet and toss until well-mixed. If pasta dish seems dry, add reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until creamy. Season with ¼ teaspoon of salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Serves 2

Skillet Turkey, Broccoli and Bulgar
2 teaspoons Olive oil
2 Garlic cloves, minced
½ pound Turkey breast, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup Reduced-sodium chicken stock
½ cup Bulgar
¼ teaspoon Dried thyme
1 cup Broccoli florets
8 Cherry tomatoes
¼ teaspoon Salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Fresh parsley, chopped

Directions: Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Then toss in turkey and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in chicken stock, Bulgar, and thyme. Top with broccoli and cherry tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 7-10 minutes, or until turkey is cooked through and Bulgar is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Serves 2

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The City of Trees

For Memorial Day Seth and I drove up to Boise. Who do we know in Boise? Well, a couple people actually, but specifically we went to see our new friends, Heidi and Paul.

Paul & Heidi

I met Heidi because of this blog actually. She's the one who leaves me deliciously long comments. What's not to like about that? Heidi knows Collette, Seth's wonderful older sister and has been friends with her since they went to Albertson's together (the college, not the grocery store). They are both phenomenal piano players. So anyway, Heidi began reading my blog because she loves everything "Hanson" and originally was interested in learning about Seth. Long story short, we've been emailing and calling each other for the past few months.

Isn't she cute?

We eventually decided it would be fun to meet in person so Seth and I found some free time over Memorial Day weekend to drive up to Boise. We got to Heidi and Paul's house just after noon on Saturday and immediately felt welcome. It seemed like we'd known Heidi and Paul for years. We all have so much in common with each other from liking Psychology, cooking, and gardening to fancy cheese and hiking.

Me & my new gooder friend

The first night in Boise Heidi and Paul had a BBQ. It was so much fun! Paul made us tuna steaks, brats, fruit salad and potato salad. It was so good! He's an aspiring chef like me! Seth and I invited Cory, one of Seth's old friends to the BBQ as well (don't worry, Heidi and Paul approved first). He lives in Boise too and we thought it'd be a good way for Seth to spend some time with him while we were in town. Heidi and Paul invited Grandpa Dave, an amazing 90 year old man who has been taking piano lessons from Heidi for the last couple years. That's right, he's 90. And he fit in perfectly with our group of 5 30ish year olds. Grandpa Dave is an artist and he has a great singing voice and is one of the most interesting people I've ever met. We all talked about everything from Star Trek to obscure scientists and philosophers. (Ok so they were telling jokes about scientists and philosophers and I had no idea who the people were so I just laughed really hard so it would look like I knew what was going on.) Later on Heidi gave us a short piano recital and she and Dave did a piano/singing performance of "What a Wonderful World." It was so cute. Oh and before I forget, we had the BBQ out on the patio and Paul's garden was amazing! Seth was sitting out in the yard on a bench earlier in the day and said he was pretending like he was in a mental institution and the yard was his sanctuary where he could just go and sit everyday. Anyway, it made us really want a house.

The next day we went walking around this shopping district by BSU (Heidi and Paul live like 2 blocks away from BSU). We looked in a couple stores and then who did we run into? Cory! It was kind of weird. Seth's other childhood buddy Nick was with him too, so we stopped and talked to them for a while before heading off to eat some Mexican food. After dinner we stopped off at this little icecream/candy store and got some chocolates for dessert. Then Heidi and Paul took us on a driving tour of Boise and we looked at all the cute houses. Boise is such a beautiful city. We really liked it there. That night we just hung out at the house and talked and ate fancy cheese and chocolates. It's a hard life, huh?

On Monday morning Cory came over to the house again and we had a nice big breakfast, after which it was time for Seth and I to go back home. We took some pictures together with our new friends and then said goodbye. Heidi and Paul are the most amazing people. Seth and I are both glad to have met them and really enjoy having them as friends.

On our way home we ended up stopping at Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls. It's the Niagara of the West! Actually, Shoshone Falls are taller than Niagara, which I didn't believe at first but it's true. The Internets said so.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Round 2

It's raining. I can't do it by myself. I should have started 2 months ago, it's too late now. I need to clean the bathrooms. I just ate dinner. It's getting dark. I can't find my pants. I don't want to carry my keys. I'll have to start all over.

That last one. That last reason is the one real reason I knew I didn't want to run today. All of those other things were reasons my brain came up with to try and talk me out of it in a "it's not your fault" kind of way. I have a lot of will power, just not the kind that gets me to do things. My will power is great at talking me out of stuff.

So here I am, a mere what, 6 months later? Six months ago I ran my first 5k race. Six months ago I was on top of the world. Six months ago I told myself I'd keep running. Six months ago I quit.

It really is depressing. It's amazing to me how many excuses I can come up with. You know why I didn't keep running? I told myself it was too dangerous to run outside in the winter. There was too much snow. "But you could run inside," I thought. But I HATE the treadmill. I'll just do workout videos during the winter. But I didn't. And as the weeks went by I kept thinking I should run again before I waste my efforts, but then there was this nagging voice in my head telling me it was probably too late and I'd have to start over again. Looks like another self-fulfilling prophecy.

So here I am six months later. Seth sent me a text today daring me to guess what he'd just done. For some reason I immediately knew he'd gone running. Maybe it was because we'd driven past Brigham City the day before and Seth said, "Remember when we ran our 5k?" Yeah I remembered. I'd brought our running shoes with us on our trip to Idaho this weekend. Not to use for running... just to have in case we needed to do lots of walking or something. Seth unpacked the car when we got home and handed me the pairs of shoes to put away. I saw a certain look in his eye when he gave them to me. I felt a twinge of guilt and pretended not to notice.

After Seth told me he'd gone running, it immediately gave me a little nudge of motivation. I thought maybe I should go running when I got home. But on the way home it was raining. Ok it was barely sprinkling and by the time I got home it had stopped. Then I was hungry. So I made dinner. Then I wanted to watch my shows. So I did. It's definitely too late to go out now. I'll do Muscle Motion again. In fact by that time I'd given up on the idea of doing any sort of physical activity for the day. My plan was to watch more tv. Then Seth sent me another message suggesting maybe we sign up for another 5k. I cringed at the thought. I'd have to run again if we did that. But then something clicked in my brain. YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO START. YOU WILL NEVER RUN IF YOU DON'T HAVE TO. YOU WILL NEVER START WORKING OUT AND YOU WILL ALWAYS BE OUT OF SHAPE.

For some reason that woke me up. I knew I needed to sign up for another race because otherwise, I would never accomplish my goals. It worked last time and I knew it would work again. So, before I even signed up for a race, I put my running clothes on and walked out the door.

As I began to walk down the street to warm-up, I thought, "Maybe it won't be that bad. Maybe I'll still be able to run good." But, after about a quarter mile of running, my chest and throat hurt too much to keep going. At that point I realized I was going to have to start all over. I would have to start at the very beginning. Run for 1 minute. Walk for 4. Upping my running gradually one week at a time. I'd finally procrastinated for so long that I'd made myself start all over.

At this point I should have been congratulating myself. You're finally doing it! You're running! You're outside and you're trying! Seth isn't here to cheer you on and you're still doing it! You're doing it all by yourself! Look at this beautiful place you live with the green grass and blooming flowers and towering mountain views! You did 40 minutes of physical activity! But all I could think was how much I'd lost. How far I'd fallen and how far I was going to have to go to get it all back. I told myself I'd never get back to this point and here I was. Sigh.

It's no wonder I've talked myself out of running for so long. Who would want to with this brain throwing out guilt and belittling comments for a whole 2 miles? I know I'm not going to get very far with this attitude. So I'm using this post as a way to vent my frustrations. A way to get rid of all these negative feelings and to just start over. Again.

I can do it. I know I can. I've done it before. This time is going to be harder. I'm on my own. No Coach Seth around every night to make me get off the couch. It's all me. But I can do it. And I'm not going to quit this time.

Friday, May 22, 2009


So last weekend we went on yet ANOTHER adventure. Can you believe it? We've been trying to take advantage of the times when we have an extra long weekend. Plus, camping season is only so long (unless you want to freeze your butt off in the snow! Psht, yeah right).

We'd been wanting to get up to Scofield Reservoir as the ice was coming off because the fishing is supposed to be really good around that time. Unfortunately, the ice was already gone when we got there, but we still did ok.

Seth and I drove down to Scofield on Friday afternoon and found a camping spot way up on top of one of the hills in the national forest area. It was a huge area way back off the road surrounded by quakies and covered in bright green grass.

Oh yeah, the last time we were out camping we realized we needed another table for cooking. We only had one small table that would fit the stove, but nothing else. So, we stopped off at Cabelas on the way down and picked up a Camp Kitchen! We got a flier in the mail saying they were on sale so it was a great time to get one. It fits in the tent really well and isn't as wide as our other table so it saves room. Plus it comes with these shelves that are awesome for organizing all the cooking stuff. I forgot to take a picture of it, but this is the one we got. It folds up into a carrying bag too, so it doesn't take up tons of room.

Seth in his ghillie coat at Cabelas

So now we can use our other table to eat at! And while we're on the cooking tangent, last time we went camping I made pancakes, but I'd bought some Krusteaz Wheat & Honey pancake mix that you just add water to. It worked alright, but I wasn't super impressed with the taste. This time when I went shopping for camping food I found that Bisquick Shake 'n Pour pancake mix that comes in a plastic jug so all you have to do is add water to it and shake it up. It was SO much cleaner and easier and I didn't have to wash any dishes! It still isn't as good as homemade pancakes, but I liked it better than the Krusteaz stuff, it was cheap, and much better for camping. I also liked it because then you have somewhere to store the extra batter. One jug was enough for two days worth of breakfast and it was less than $2.

Ok enough with the cooking stuff. Seth's parents just happened to be down in Huntington that weekend visiting Daddy Hanson's parents so we thought it'd be fun to meet up with them. Mama Hanson ended up staying at the house with Grandma who wasn't feeling too well, but Daddy Hanson, Grandpa and Seth's Aunt Leslie all came out and met us on the East side of the lake. They weren't able to stay for very long, but it was nice to see them anyway.

Seth and I fished by ourselves for another hour or two until our friends, Ramona and Gabe came. They were only able to come for the day, but we had a lot of fun. On the East side of the lake we all caught at least one fish which we all let go. They were pretty small, no more than 10" at the biggest. And we managed to get checked by the Fish and Wildlife Officers, AGAIN. Just about every time we go out fishing with Ramona and Gabe we get checked. I think they're magnets for those guys. We were all legit though so they went away after checking all our licenses.

Gabe showing us how big his fish was.

We fished on the East side until about 4:00 and then decided to head over to the West side to cook up some food on Ramona's new grill. It was a pretty fancy little thing. Seems Cabelas sucked them in on their way down too. Anyway, those guys were nice enough to cook up some hamburgers and brats for all of us after which we took a long walk around a point to fish in a more secluded spot. We all caught a bunch of small pan size trout including a few rainbows, tiger trout, and cutthroat hybrids. We kept a few of them this time around which Seth and I ate for breakfast the next morning with our pancakes.

We saw some cool stuff while fishing over in that spot. Twice, a huge military cargo plane flew really low right over us. I don't know what they were doing, probably some sort of training, but it looked pretty awesome. And on our walk back to the cars we saw a fox running after some geese. He ran away and hid as soon as he saw us, but once we got back to the cars he came out again. Seth had his binoculars so we took turns passing them around to watch it.

On our drive back home the next morning, we took a bit of a detour off the highway in order to get to Strawberry Reservoir. The road wasn't marked very well and we must have made a wrong turn somewhere, because we never did make it. We weren't lost, per se, just weren't exactly on the road we wanted to be on. We ended up coming down Diamond Fork Canyon which was beautiful. We stopped half way down and had a picnic by the river and then thought we'd better break out our fly rods before the trip was over.

It was the first time I'd fished with my fly rod since winter was over and guess what?! I caught a fish! The first fly fish of the year. That story is probably going into my Fishing Blog, so I won't go into details, but that fish made me the happiest of all the fish I caught all weekend. And he was by far the smallest.

So it was a great trip. The weather was perfect for the whole time, not even windy or anything. It was great getting to hang out with Ramona and Gabe again because we don't get to see them as much anymore. Plus we caught some fish. Something that hasn't happened for a few months.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

The other day I got to wondering how long it'd been since I started this blog. And guess what? It just happened to be my one year blogiversary! (Isn't that the cutest word ever? I made it up myself.) So I thought I'd just do a quick post to acknowledge it.

Since last year a lot has happened. 70 posts worth to be exact. I originally started this as a way to write my life story. Although I do try to write things that would go into a typical life story, I've used this blog as a lot more than that. This has become a great outlet for me to express myself. I've used it as a sanity saver when times get a little slow and boring, and a way to tell everyone good news and fun stuff. It's my way of showing the world a side of me that not many people get to see at a glance. All of these things are a part of my life story. Writing about stupid things and cooking and adventures is all part of my Karen World. It all mushes together to make Me. And we all know there's much more to Me than just a sack full of memories. Or at least I hope you know that by now. And can you believe how my readership has grown?! I mean, I must be up to like 5 people! That's almost enough to get syndicated, right?

I hate the word "blog" but I can say that I've really enjoyed "blogging" much more than I thought I would. I wasn't really even sure exactly what a "blog" was when I started. I thought I'd write for a little while then get bored with it and quit, but looks like I was wrong. Thanks to everybody for reading this, it's part of what makes me like it so much. Getting comments and reading other people's blogs is one of my favorite things. So, if you have a blog, and you haven't commented on mine yet, I guarantee I'll start reading yours if you let me know you're there.

Thanks again everybody!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Today's Special May 17-23rd

So for those of you who didn't get a chance to vote on whether I keep my menu postings, TOO BAD! That survey was up since last week. If you haven't visited my glorious blog since then, you don't deserve to voice your opinion. At any rate, I received a lot of positive votes in lieu of my menus so I will continue to post them.

I get more and more behind on this meal planning thing every week! This week is extreme slacker week. We were out of town on Sunday and will be gone again this Saturday and Sunday. I'm boycotting the grocery store this week because I hate going and I spend too much on food. So, the meals I've planned are bare-bones, scrape the bottom of the barrel, cheap as dirt kind of things. But hopefully they won't make us throw up.

Sunday: Seth ate the last gyro from last week and I finished up the extra Greek pitas by dipping them in leftover yogurt sauce. We were tired from camping ok?

Monday: Southwest Vegetarian Bake - This was a new recipe which sounds not so good, but surprisingly was. I even reviewed it already if you follow the link. I changed it up a bit, which I also noted in my review.

Tuesday: Curried Lentils and Rice - This is also new. I don't think I've ever really made curry anything so I thought I'd try this. Plus, it sounds kind of healthy. I need to make sure all my Muscle Motion efforts are enhanced by my diet. UPDATE: See comments.

Wednesday: Tuna Casserole an old family favorite.

Thursday: Jo Mama's World Famous Spaghetti There's a container of this in my freezer already so all's I gotta do is throw it in the microwave!

Weekend: Heidi and Paul are going to show us the wonderful world of food in Boise! Wahoo!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

War and Peace: An Update

Well, it's been 3 months since I started War and Peace so I thought I'd give you an update. By my original calculations, I should have been to about page 630 by now, but alas, I've just reached page 400. My goal was to finish it by my birthday (July 23rd) but it looks like I'm headed towards New Year's 2010. Sigh. Oh well, at least I'm still at it, right?

War and Peace hasn't been an easy book to get into. It seems like we're just barely getting past the intro, which makes sense. It usually takes 1/3 of the book or so to really get into the meat and get to know the characters and such. I think I'm just beginning to get all the characters straightened out. Which in itself is tough. There are like 50 different characters who each have 5 different names that all end in "-ov."

But, I'm actually starting to like it I think. I don't fall asleep as easily as I used to and I tend to get sucked into reading "just one more chapter" on a somewhat regular basis. There's more twists and turns and drama going on to keep things lively. Can you believe Rostov lost 43,000 roubles in a poker game? Yeah me neither. He never knows when to say "when." Ok, I have no idea how much 43,000 roubles is. That's part of the problem with this book. I don't know what half of the things are that these people talk about. Even if I did know how much 43,000 roubles was, it doesn't mean anything compared to today's equivalent. And they use all these words that aren't even in the dictionary. I know because I look up words all the time. About 50% of the time they aren't in it. Granted I use a small general purpose dictionary, but still. There's a unit of distance measurement they use all the time called a "verst." It's used in the way we use "miles." No idea how far a "verst" is. I'm sure I could find answers to all these questions using my friend the Internets, but if I stop to look up every single thing, it's going to take me til New Years 2020 to finish this thing.

So, it's slow going. I'm not sure I understand everything I should, but I'm giving it my best shot. It's like reading the King James Version of the Bible. It's English, but it's not. My wonderful friend Heidi was nice enough to give me her made-up version of "Cliff's Notes" for War and Peace. They were very helpful.

Heidi's Cliff's Notes for War and Peace
(slightly edited for sensitive audiences)
"There was this War and then afterwards there was this Peace. And Tolstoy said Blahbiddy blah blah blah. Some hot air. THE END. In Russian."

Drowning Worms

Note: I've had this post in edit mode for a while because I haven't been feeling very enlightened as far as good fishing writing goes. But, I figured I might as well finish this and post it because I haven't done a new post here for a couple months. It's not my best work, but it's something. Maybe now that Spring is here and things are warming up, my brain will thaw out along with the fish.

For the first time in a long time, Seth and I went out fishing with our spinning rods. We hadn't used a spinning rod since Thanksgiving weekend and our personal rods hadn't been used since the summer.

We set out to go fish a sweet looking spot on the Ogden River. We bought some worms at the local gas station and headed up to the spot we'd been eyeing for the past few weeks. We had talked about going to this one particular spot for a while and now we actually were going to follow through and do it.

Much to our dismay we found the river had dropped significantly and no longer was the perfect worm drowning spot. So, we decided to go to a new spot on the lower part of the Weber River that Seth had heard about. It was at the base of the canyon, just as you get onto the highway. Somehow we missed the turnoff and instead of making a huge loop to come back to that spot, we just kept going and thought maybe we'd hit up the Devil's Slide area again.

The river was very busy that day and all the good spots were too crowded. So, we ended up going way up to Lost Creek Reservoir. We were disappointed to find the reservoir was still completely iced over except for a small patch on the southeast end. There were just a couple other guys there, but it was a big enough piece of open water that we could go on the other side of the lake and be far enough away.

On our way over to the far side of the lake we had to jump over a small brook. Seth made it over ok, but because it was so muddy, my feet kept getting sucked into the muck and I couldn't push off the bank very well. I made a futile attempt to leap over the water and managed to clumsily fall into the mud on the other side. My left foot landed in the water and my hands slapped the mud on the bank. I sat there for a moment, my hands covered in mud and foot slowly getting wet until I decided I'd better climb out before I made matters worse. The damage wasn't really that bad... it turned out I only had a wet sock and the mud could easily be washed off my hands. Then Seth asked a question that made my ears prick up, "Does the mud smell bad?" "Uh I don't know, I can't smell anything, can you?" I said, holding my mud covered hand out for him to smell. Just as I'd planned, Seth leaned in to smell it and I bumped his nose. "What did you do that for?!" he said, shocked. For a moment I thought he might kill me... but I think I laughed hard enough that he somehow forgave me. I couldn't help it... I HAD to do it.

We fished for a short while with Jake's spin a lure and didn't catch anything. Then we switched to worms... throwing them out onto the ice and making them jump off into the open water. It didn't work either. We never did catch anything. We didn't see any fish though. I think they were too smart and were still hiding under the ice way over by the dam.

Drowning worms was still fun though. I think maybe it's my crappy fishing pole that makes me take it down a notch. That thing is a piece of junk. Ok, it's not that bad, but it really makes me mad sometimes because it goes all crazy and my line gets tangled up. But aside from that, bait fishing has become my go-to fishing method lately for the days when I just feel like relaxing. I can set up my fishing chair on the bank of a lake, throw a bubble and a worm on and just sit. The longer I go without catching a fish, the longer I get to look at the scenery and suck on a juice box. Not that I don't welcome the intermittent surprise of catching a fish...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Today's Special May 10-16th

Ok so I always wonder if anybody reads my menu posts. So, I'm going to take a survey... how many of you out there want me to keep doing this? I put an anonymous survey on my page so you can vote! Isn't that fun?! Feel free to leave me regular comments too.... i.e. Is it useful to you? Have you ever made anything I posted? Is there something that would make you like it more? I'm going to make up a menu each week whether I post it or not, but I figured if nobody really paid attention to it, I wouldn't spend the time. So be honest. Would you rather just look at my Recipezaar account for ideas? Is this easier for you? Do you want me to quit my whining?

Sunday: Dinner at Annie's house for Mother's Day/Mom's Birthday. She & Eric made us turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy and beets. It was very good. I brought Rolls and Strawberry Cream Cake.

Monday: Enchiladas Verdes (this was a new recipe, it was VERY good. I'll be posting this on my Recipezaar account soon. I used canned tomatillos and chiles in this instead of roasting them myself because I'm a busy woman on the go. Ok I'm just lazy.)

Tuesday: P.F. Chang's Mongolian Beef with Moo Shu Noodles (Both new recipes, but both were recommended by Annie).

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Gyros (I'm getting the gyro meat from Snider's Family Meats in Ogden) with Tzatziki (the white yogurt sauce- got this from Annie too). Bought some Greek pitas and got onions, tomatoes and feta cheese to put on them.

Weekend: Grilled Pork Loin (don't know what recipe yet, just wanted to grill something). Might get one already stuffed/seasoned from Snider's or maybe I'll try this recipe Grilled Pork Loin with Apple-Cherry Filling with Caraway. We'll probably steam some zucchini squash to go with it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Girl's Gotta Do What a Girl's Gotta Do

Do any of you know what this is?
No, it's not THAT. {Blush}

Well I know what it is. It's called a flapper and all of you have at least one. You've probably never seen it, or haven't had a close enough view of one to realize that's what this picture is. But, why would you? The flapper lives in your toilet!

That's right my friends, there's a flapper living in your toilet. It's the thing that lifts up every time you flush so the water can get out of the tank and into the toilet bowl. If you don't believe me, go take the lid off the tank and flush your toilet. There it is! It's waving at you! HA!

Why am I doing a post about toilet parts? Well it just so happens that the plastic chain attached to the flapper in MY bathroom broke off last night when I flushed. Stupid piece of junk. Who uses a plastic chain? Cheap apartments, that's who. So, I had to stick my hand in the tank to lift up the flapper in order to get it to flush. No big deal, but I definitely didn't want to have to do that forever.

So at this point you're probably wondering why I didn't just call the apartment maintenance guys to come fix it and stop my whining. I could have. But I didn't really want to. There are several reasons why:

#1 I hate calling people.

#2 I don't like strangers coming into our apartment.

#3 I figured it'd be a pretty cheap fix.

#4 I kind of wanted to see if I could fix it.

So I'm a sucker for home repairs. I know that sounds really weird. Not that I'd attempt anything huge, but simple projects I'm totally game for. I've installed shower heads and light fixtures and such, so I figured this wouldn't be too bad. It's not like the toilet exploded and there were parts everywhere. It was just a simple flapper replacement!

When I got home from work today, I turned the water off behind the toilet, flushed it one more time to get the water out, and took the flapper off. Simple enough, right? Then I cleaned the thing off because it looked disgusting, and put it in my purse. I always hear stories about people having to go back to the hardware store ten times because they don't get the right parts, especially for plumbing projects. I figured if I took it with me, I'd up my chances of not having to go back and forth a million times.

I headed down the street to Lowe's and found their plumbing department. There on the wall were all the toilet parts. And there they were... flappers. All new and sparkling in their plastic packages, just waiting for me to bring them home and put them in my toilet. But, only one would be chosen. I picked a beautiful red one that was just under $5. It was the cheapest one and looked just like the one in my purse, only this one had a metal chain attached. Classy.

I went and paid the lady and took my brand new shiny flapper home. Gracie met me at the door and followed me back to the bathroom to help install our new found friend, Flappy. Gracie sat on the toilet seat looking into the bowl while I trimmed off excess parts and installed Flappy. The first time I hooked him up, the chain was too long and it didn't let enough water out to flush. But, after taking it up a couple links and trying again, my toilet was back to normal. Gracie was very impressed.

All of this took less than 30 minutes, and that included driving to Lowe's and back. It only cost me $4.88 and there wasn't even any cursing involved! Plus it was kind of fun. Does that make me a plumber? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure I have a good enough crack to qualify. Anyway, welcome to the family, Flappy, it's nice to have you here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Are You Ready for Adventure?

I first want to start by congratulating Seth. On April 30th he finished one more semester of school! Not only did he finish, but he was able to maintain a GPA of 3.59 while taking 19 credits AND working full-time. I like to call him Professor Hanson because he's such a genius!

To celebrate finishing the hardest semester ever, we decided to take our first camping trip of the season to get away and relax. No work or school to worry about, just nature and relaxation.

We decided to go to Buckhorn Wash down in the San Rafael Swell. If we'd been there before, neither of us could remember it, and it was a somewhat close, fairly people-free spot. I got all our stuff packed up and ready to go so we could leave in the morning on Friday, May 1st. Seth got a brand new big 2-room Cabelas tent from his parents for his birthday so we were pretty excited about trying it out. Plus we'd decided to splurge and get a 3 burner Coleman camp stove (with accompanying griddle!), so we stopped off at Cabelas on the way down to pick one up. Wahoo for camping stuff!

We couldn't believe how beautiful the drive was. It felt like we were driving through an Irish Spring commercial when we went through Spanish Fork Canyon! Maybe they should make a new soap called Spanish Fork Spring. Ok maybe not.

When we got to Buckhorn Wash we decided we'd better go pick out a camp spot before all the good ones were taken. We found a place near the far end of the wash, nestled in a cove below a towering sandstone cliff and started to set up our new gear.

I'm used to setting up tiny dome tents and Seth wasn't too familiar with our tent style either, but somehow we managed to get the thing up. It was huge! It has a 10x16' floor so we felt like we were in an outdoor mansion!

After getting all our gear organized Seth gathered up a little wood and made a fire for us. We sat around the campfire and talked and admired the scenery. Not too long after roasting our hotdogs and oatmeal creme cookies, it started to sprinkle. Luckily it was starting to get dark by this time so we headed into the tent with our chairs. We also decided to bring in our campstove, cooler and anything else we wanted from the car. We had so much room inside that tent!

This is the rock face above our campsite. Seth dubbed the figure "Spirit Man."

Another rock face at our campsite. There's two figures in this pic, but they didn't have names.

The next morning it was still raining pretty good and I was glad we'd brought everything into the tent the night before. We spent the morning figuring out our new camp stove and cooking a leisurely breakfast of pancakes and bacon. I ruined a couple pancakes trying to get used to the griddle, but that's to be expected, right?

Our tent had a little awning on the front which we'd just rolled up out of the way when we put it up, but we decided to put it up while we were making breakfast so we could open the screen door (to ventilate for the stove) without getting wet. Surprisingly enough it stayed strong too and after a couple adjustments, we found a way to keep the water from pooling up on top. It was a great morning just relaxing and watching the rain.

The famous 3 burner Coleman stove!

Well, about the time we were done with breakfast the rain stopped. We cleaned up the dishes and then headed out on a designated route to try and find some petroglyphs and pictographs that were scattered along the wash. It turned out to be a bit of a hide-and-seek game as some of the features weren't exactly easy to find.

Our first stop was a huge wall of pictographs and petroglyphs. It's right along the road so they're easily seen. Apparently the drawings are from two groups of people. The pictographs (paintings) are from an older civilization about 2000 years ago. The petroglyphs (carved pictures) are from a civilization from about 1000 years ago. They aren't sure exactly what tribes of Native Americans they were from or exactly what all the pictures mean. Seth has a theory that the people drawn in the pictures are representations of figures they saw on the rock walls. If you look at the markings on the rock walls just right, they look just like people. I think Seth is onto something! Who needs scientists and anthropologists when you've got Professor Hanson?

The next stop was a signature on a rock wall from Matt Warner, dated February 17, 1920. I guess he was some guy who used to run around with Butch Cassidy. It took us a minute to find it, but eventually we did. Maybe we should've parked at the pull-out right in front of it and followed the footpaths. Eh, we'll make our own pathways! Anyway, you could tell why Matt became an outlaw. He must not have been the brightest of guys... he spelled his own name wrong (Mat) and his "9" was backwards so it looked like a "P." Stick with what suits you I guess.

The next stop was another set of pictographs. I used my deductive reasoning and decided it'd be best to pull over in the parking area and follow the man-made trail (the pictographs weren't visible from the road). Seth headed off in the other direction towards another large rock wall. In his defense the instructions told us the pictographs were on the East side of the road (they were on the West side) and we'd seen 3 climbers up there the day before. Plus there was a small trail. I followed my woman's intuition up the trail on the west side and found the large group of pictographs (not to gloat or anything...).

After this stop we drove to another smaller group of pictographs. It was easily found by spotting a set of initials someone had shot into the rock next to it. They must have been using some sort of bazooka though because those bullet holes were huge! You could have put a stick of dynamite into those suckers!

Our next item was a bit tougher to find. There was supposed to be a dinosaur track up on this sandstone ledge, but there were no signs or anything to show where it was. We wandered around for a little while before finally climbing over a big bunch of rocks onto a second sandstone ledge. I was looking everywhere for the thing and was about to just call it quits when Seth found it. It was under a rock! I think people cover it so it doesn't get ruined, but still. A sign or something would be nice. So, we did what anyone else would've done... we took pictures and then put a giant rock on top of it again. To our credit we drew a big "X" on the rock and wrote "The track isn't here." Come on, people would totally look there anyway!

Right across from where the dinosaur track was located, was a camp spot with a small canyon behind it. We decided to stop and eat lunch at the mouth of the little canyon (pre-assembled tuna salad kits from the store are the best!) and then began hiking. We walked a little ways to were the 4 wheeler tracks stopped and ducked through some bushes. The trail wound around for a short distance and then opened up into a little alcove where the hike ended. It was this beautiful shaded room with high rock walls on all sides, probably no more than 10 feet across. And what did we find? Secret petroglyphs on the wall! We didn't know they were there, as I'm sure many people didn't, and we found them! We had talked about finding our own secret pictographs and we found some on our first exploration! I'm sure we weren't the first to see them, but I bet there aren't many people who have.

When we got back from that hike, we decided to find another place to explore. There was a short hike mentioned on our little guide paper so we decided to go check it out. That hike wasn't much farther than our first one, but it was still fun. We probably could've gone farther, but it involved a little climbing and I wussed out. Seth was able to climb up the place where we stopped and found a magic brown sparkly rock. We're not really sure what it is, but it's probably worth A LOT.

We decided to go back to camp after the last hike and just relax for awhile. We went for a little walk around our campsite and found this rock that looked like a giant butt. It was so funny. We even climbed in there! There was a lot of prickly pear cactus around and I mentioned to Seth that I'd never tried any but that for some reason it looked really good. With that, he whipped out his pocket knife and cut off a chunk so I could taste it. It wasn't as good as I thought it'd be, though it wasn't necessarily bad. I thought it tasted like spongy cheesies. I'm sure you've eaten cheesies before, all kids have. If you don't remember what they are look here.

Come on, it totally looks like a giant butt!

That evening turned out to be really beautiful and clear so we stayed up late and star gazed and talked around the fire. Oh, I forgot that a bunch of people wussed out after the first night and ditched their campsites so me and Seth went around to all of them to raid their firewood. Maybe THEY should've gotten a fancy Cabelas tent too! Crazy City Slickers with their Walmart tents and Barbie sleeping bags. Don't they know this is the WILDERNESS? Not just anybody can survive out here!

The next morning we ate another lovely pancake and bacon breakfast (much better this time... I think I got that griddle all figured out!). It had rained a bit early that morning so we hung out and cleaned things up while we waited for the tent to dry out. Then with sad hearts we took down our desert mansion and put all our stuff back in the car.

Doesn't he look so happy with his plate of bacon?

I told Seth he had to "Steamroll" the tent to get the air out.

Before we left we decided to go for one last hike in the canyon across from our campsite. We thought maybe it'd turn into a slot canyon or something. This hike had a lot of big boulders and things to climb over and under so it made it a bit more exciting. The hike only went for about a 1/2 mile or so before we hit a big wall that was too tall to climb over. Oh well, maybe next time.

Seth decided from this trip that it'd be fun to take up canyoneering. We would've been able to go a lot farther if we'd had a rope and some basic gear. I think canyoneering could be fun. It doesn't seem quite as death-defying as rock climbing (I don't want to fall 1000 feet to my death, thank you very much!). Maybe we'll get a book or something and learn some of the tricks.

Just outside the wash is the Wedge overlook. The Wedge is like a small scale Grand Canyon. It was amazing! We couldn't even tell there was this magnificent canyon there until we were right up next to the cliff! So beautiful! We sat on the edge of the cliff in the warm sun and ate another lunch of tuna sandwiches before we got back in the car to drive back to civilization.

It really was tough coming back to real life after such a great weekend. Seth and I wanted to thank Mom and Daddy Hanson for the awesome tent (without which we surely would have been miserable), Annie and Eric for checking on Gracie the cat while we were gone, and Cabelas for allowing us to purchase their fine merchandise. Without all of you, this weekend would not have been possible. Oh, and thank you God, for creating nature without which we wouldn't have had a place to camp.

You Look Just Like Your Mother

That's the line I've heard from friends and strangers alike my entire life. I always saw it as compliment and a secret one-up on my sisters. At least I looked like I belonged to the family. For all anybody else knew, they could be the mailman's kids or cousins visiting from Novascotia.

It's so funny to see so much of yourself in someone else. I think of my mom whenever I look at my pasty white legs or my poochy belly or my ski-jump nose. I even occasionally catch myself displaying her mannerisms like putting my hand on my hip when I brush my teeth or sighing a lot.

Today as I was trying to jog my brain and think of my favorite memories of Mom, I realized one thing: my mother showed she loved us by her generosity and service. All the memories I could think of were of my mom serving us in some way... making Sunday dinner, driving the carpool, taking us to doctor and dentist appointments, going to dance recitals and band recitals. She is always taking us out to eat and volunteering to do this or that... no matter how much of a pain and hassle it would be to her. She's always done a lot of the hard work and boring things so the rest of us could have fun. Looking back I finally realize how much she has sacrificed for her family. How much she does for us without much in return but a "Thanks, Mom."

The memories that stick with me most about Mom were from our one-on-one time. Back in my college days, we used to go out to lunch together at least once a week. I think we had a go-out-to-lunch day. It was back in my dating hey-days and I'd tell her all about my boy troubles and she'd listen to me and give me motherly advice. I think I kept my sanity because of her. I'm sure she just laughed to herself about all the dumb things I worried about. Listening to a young twentyish-year old girl that much should bump her up to sainthood. Not that she needed another reason to be considered for the position. She probably qualified for that over twenty years ago.

I want everyone to know how much I love and admire my mom. She's an incredibly smart, talented, loving person and I hope I can always make her proud to say she's my mom.

I stole this picture from my mom's Facebook page... I think it's actually a good picture of her. I'm pretty sure she took it with a webcam which always makes me smile for some reason. Not as professional as some of the other pics of her... but this one is more Mom.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Today's Special May 3-9th

Man this is really tough to keep up with all these meals! I keep getting more and more behind. Oh well.

Sunday: We ate at Carl's Jr. on the way home from camping. I had a Six Dollar Guacamole Bacon Burger... Delicious!

Monday: Tuna Patty Hamburgers (I never got around to making these last week!)

Tuesday: Homestyle Mac & Cheese AND Prep for tomorrow's meal

Wednesday: Nogales Steak Tacos (this was supposed to be for Cinco de Mayo but I didn't realize I had to let stuff marinade overnight!)... this is a new recipe

Thursday: Pressure Cooker Split Pea & Ham Soup

Friday: Lime Chicken Kabobs with Grilled Veggies (New recipe see below-Thanks Steph!)

Chicken Kabobs:

6 T Key Lime Juice
6 T Soy Sauce
6 T Orange Peach Mango frozen juice concentrate
2 tsp minced garlic

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and marinate for two hours.
Put onto skewers and grill until cooked thoroughly.


Yellow Squash
Red Onion
Parmesan Cheese (about 1/3 C, but depends on how many veggies you have)
Olive Oil (about 1/4 C, you want to lightly coat all the veggies)
Key Lime Juice (about 2 T, you want to lightly coat all the veggies)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Cut the veggies into bite-sized pieces and place into a big bowl. Coat lightly with olive oil and key lime juice. Cook on the grill in a vegetable basket, adding the tomatoes half-way through. Once cooked, place into your serving bowl and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.