I own you.

Have you ever spent all morning craving a food, are bound and determined to make it at home and then are thrilled with the results? It almost never happens. That last criteria is always the clincher. But not this time. I made about 40 crab rangoons and R & I positively devoured them. It was wonderful.

I feel sick now.

Birthday Squared

We celebrated two birthdays this weekend. R and S’s (who’s bday was technically last week, but who’s counting.) S & L are our K-State friends, if we had met them while at K-State. We met them 3 years after graduating, but it feels like we met while in college. Maybe it’s because L wore KSU clothes all weekend. They’re also our golfing friends. S brought me clubs that her mother was exchanging out for some newer ones. I was absolutely thrilled and (am) so grateful. They’re a huge step up from the $3 set I got at a garage sale with my parents. Now I can’t blame my bad game on the clubs. Damn.

I packed up a picnic and took them for (what turned out not to be) “just a ten minute jaunt up the hill” as I had originally marketed the lunch to them. After rolling my eyes through a 30 minute detour because the two guys were jabbering like two women in a sewing circle (when R has someone in his midst to talk sports, he doesn’t let the opportunity pass) and missing our turn, I became even more determined to get to our end destination. It would have been a 45 minute detour if the two youngests (of a family) convinced the two oldests to just cut across the highway. R and S about had a heart-attack as we drove slowly past the “do not turn around in median” sign. We also noticed storm clouds following us like we were Schleprock on the Flinstones. All the more reason why it had to be a ten minute jaunt.

We braved the weather and went up. And up. And up. I kept yelling that it was only “40 more seconds” and L would mutter “40 more seconds until we start the 40 minute leg.” He says he would’ve, but I don’t think he would have made it if we went any further. Look at his footwear. Oh, no big deal. We’re just going to climb up to an overlook bluff, I’ll just throw on some sandals.

Luckily, we remained dry and popped into a cave for a photo-op.

Later that night, we headed down to Fayetteville for some birthday drinks. The majority of our conversation revolved around, what else?, ourselves. R and S both married the youngest of a family, with them both being the oldest. They have birthdays within a week of each other and cannot break a rule. It was interesting to disect both our relationships and compare similarities. However, I soon realized that the oldests had the most to say and so changed the conversation before S & R really ganged up on us. It was all in good fun though.

S survived the dinner even though we were certain the waitress had put some sort of toxin into her margarita. I compared it to aspartame so I could segway into my “i’m never going to drink diet anything again” vendetta. Okay, not you Diet Mt. Dew. Okay, not you Diet Dr. Pepper either. Alright alright, I just like talking loudly about things. Following through is an oldest’s job.
We got home and sang happy birthday to the kids. 28 years! Yowza.


Meet Shady. You’ll never forget her. She’s R’s parents’ adopted dog of their son, N. Did that make sense? Anyway, there are two things I get excited about when traveling to my in-laws. The first is what type of nut/dried fruit/candy mixture will be on their table and the second is Shady. She makes you feel all warm and cozy inside.

She watches you unpack.

And watches you wake up.

And watches you tickle her.

And watches you read.


Life. Blah.

Yesterday was a hard day to get through. R and I woke up to an already dreary day in a funk. We have put so much effort in the past 6 months trying to attain some personal financial goals. Spreadsheets have been created, budgets have been tightened, and you know what, we’re tired. Tired of putting things back on the store shelf, of foregoing dinner & a movie, of making any sort of self-limiting decision period. It is a daily struggle to make smarter choices with our money. . And we’re only 6 months into a 3 year plan. To top it off, we’ve made the decision to not buy a car to replace the one that unofficially died a few days ago. We will share R’s car and make it work (as I try to channel Tim Gunn.) We’ve also decided to move into an even cheaper place in the next town over. These are self-inflicted choices. So even though I know that I have a limited number of “I feel tied to this Quicken spreadsheet and so want to complain” cards to play, yesterday was a good day to use at least one. I mean, even our very last Consumer Reports magazine showed up, that’s how much we were slapped in the face.

On the plus side, we hammered out the travel portion of the budget and I’m pleased to say that there is major wiggle room where that is concerned. Life started to look up.

…but that came later on in the evening. Beforehand, we were grumpy. So I made R pick out a game to play. He chose, what else?, LIFE.

..here’s me: tired of brushing my hair, of putting on make-up, of reaching across the board game. R was tired of taking photos.

And so if we could have lived another life, if even for a half-hour, we would’ve. So we did. And we laughed and smiled and joked and it was the brightest spot of the whole day.

We both started out side by side. I pretended I was from England and could only drive on the right-hand side of the car…. driving to my new college. Coincidentally, both times we played (we had a back-to-back Life session), I landed on the “Study Abroad” tile. It made me smile.

We both married and ended up at the stop sign next to each other. R said he didn’t like the way my husband was looking at him and wanted to fight.

R picked his salary card and did really well for himself. He ended up having two girls and yelled at them in the backseat throughout the game. But the clincher was when he came upon a fork in the road and had to choose between taking his family to see a physician for $5000 or buying a high-definition TV for the same amount.

He chose the TV. And life was fun again.


Stove-top popcorn. Such a simple change and one that is hardly noticeable. I’m trying to make things from scratch and although this isn’t necessarily a “new” recipe, it still cuts down on all of the packaging from microwave popcorn. And the price is literally cut in half. I bought two bags of popcorn kernels for maybe at most $2 and store them in a storage container. And to my surprise, only had to cover the bottom layer of the dutch oven to get a few days worth of snacking. I just keep the lid covered over the pot and found that the popcorn kept as well as those Christmas tins you buy. 

I know I’m late in the game on popcorn, but when I start to notice these small changes, it really opens my eyes to the other major things I can do to live simply, cheaply, and with less waste. Keeps me motivated.

Saturday Morning Hike

In my first few months living here, I’ve gone through waves of emotions.. and I think a lot of it had to do with it being wintertime and us being closed up inside. The ice storm didn’t help either, although it was nice having the time off from work. But you can stare at the same four walls for only so long before going stir-crazy.

Well, the ice has melted. The sun has come out. And I am re-connecting with the state again.

R and I went on a guided hike. This time it was Hobbs State Park and met with (no kidding) Bob Ross, our extremely knowledgeable guide.

Bob told us to stretch. I looked at the 75 yr-old woman next to us (not stretching) and figured we’d be okay. R took him up on it though.

As we were waiting for others to arrive, Bob showed us remnants of the ice storm as well as the blooms of various trees. I was just getting used to everyone else getting used to my face sans make-up, when a man pulled R and me to the side. He asked for our names and then for our permission to be used in a news article. Why? WHY? I sucked it up and forged ahead.

I didn’t ask for his permission, but I still took a photo of him.

I learned so much on this hike. Bob was patient while everyone yelled out plant names for him to validate, and answering detailed questions about the footprints left by the Native Americans in this forest. I spent most of the time trying to remember the flower and trees and whispered them to R throughout the hike. We were right on the cusp of everything blooming and it really was a special feeling, being in the middle of the Ozarks and seeing new life forming. I was happy.

Below is the photo chosen for the online newspaper. I look pretty mad. I was probably memorizing plant names.

Chronic(what?)les of Narnia

Wait! Before you read on, you must watch this video to understand. It’s only a couple minutes long, but will bring you many hours of chuckling when you sing it to yourself throughout the night.

We met our friends L & T (from the Once a Year Dinner group) in Eureka Springs for the weekend. None of us had been to the town before and didn’t know quite what to expect. I knew it was almost an all Victorian town, but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of ornate homes, hotels, and shops we saw. Simply cool. Or should I say, ornately cool? Anyway, we were going to spend the whole weekend together there. But then I thought, I’m sure L & T would like some alone time (two littles one at home) and because Eureka Springs is less than an hour away, I suggested that R & I meet them the next morning. R & I were going to break out our new 3 person tent — downscaled from a 7-person one, did we think we were the Brady Bunch or something? — and found a neat city park with hiking trails & a lake. Come mid-week, a snow storm was a-brewin’ and I was feeling under the weather. Long story short, it turned into a dinner date. (Well, a dinner + night cap date).
We showed up in the late afternoon and drove around town for a quick unofficial tour before meeting up with them. I found my future home, which was actually the smallest one there, nestled into the side of the mountain. Look how narrow this place is.. and the detail! Ah, it called out to me.

Before we had even pulled the phone out to call L, R spotted them driving in the downtown area. So we tried to catch up to them and creep them out. They hadn’t noticed, which makes me wonder if I’ve ever been stalked.

We followed them to their B&B (they were staying in the actual carriage stable) and condensed down to one car. L said they had slept almost all day long, which made me feel really good about not coming up earlier. There’s nothing like a lazy day, especially when it’s cold outside. The original plan had been to go to a Kite festival to a) let me sing Mary Poppins songs and b) enjoy a picnic outside. That was shot, but I’m of the belief that, if it’s going to be cold, bring on the snow! Warm company over dinner and drinks beats any spoiled plans.

Before we headed out, L stole some homemade lavendar cookies from the B&B and passed them out in the car. It was like eating perfume, but with a better aftertaste. So good.

We grabbed some coffee and T asked where the Crescent hotel was. Be sure to check out this picture of the hotel. The photo is old, but it looks just the same. The shop owner suggested we drive… And actually one customer in the store offered us a ride… and so when we declined, he gave us directions. He started off with “The simplest thing you can remember is…. ” and R said that was the last thing he heard. It was too confusing.

Every so often, we would see random stairs leading up into trees. Finally, L got the courage to go up some and we followed suit.

They opened up onto a gravel-type pathway lined with snapdragons trying their best to survive this sudden turn of weather. You could see small stone steps up ahead and had no idea where they would lead. It just felt surreal and off-kilter. But that also could have been my cold medicine. Or maybe that wasn’t lavendar in the those cookies??

Further proof that we were in another world, R found the lamppost. I was waiting for a faun to appear.

You’re supposed to be able to see the big statue of Jesus in the background and so when a stranger offered to take a photo of L & me, he asked if we wanted Jesus behind us. L laughingly said, “Oh, He’s always behind us.”

We found a room in the hotel to watch the bastketball games and have a few cocktails. L & T are so easy to talk to. We joked about how serious we get, but it’s refreshing to have conversations of substance, if you will. Not that we never cracked a smile, but our topics ranged from politics to religion to human nature to parenting to me trying to recruit them to live in a cave with us. Wait, what? Yes, we need a hunter position filled. You all saw me holding a gun in that Six Flags episode. We need someone with skill.

As we were walking back to head out to dinner, I mentioned how I thought this felt Chronicles of Narnia-esque. Then, L mentioned the SNL skit on it and I squealed. R & I had just watched the skit the night before on hulu.com and was actually singing it on the way to Eureka Springs. So we had to get our rap bits in and then later, L came up with an encore verse for it. L, if this is copyrighted, I’ll pay you later: “Driving down south in my kid-trashy car… Sedalia to Eureka didn’t seem too far…. our good ol’ friends fight the snow to meet us… God was on our side and so was Giant Jesus!” Ah, cleverness.

We left around midnight to go home, but neither R nor I wanted to! We had so much fun. Good friends, good food, and good conversation. All in toasty old buildings. Can’t beat it.

Boot Camp Day 3

I would very much appreciate it if someone strapped me into a dolly a la Hannibal Lector. I fear that by merely walking, I will permanently hurt myself.

On the plus side, I feel like I’m back in high school. Doing windsprints in the cool weather and chugging my ice cold water. The only difference is my seriousness this time around. During high school track practice once, a group of us ran out of our coach’s sight into a strip mall area, and popped into a shop for cookies. Then we ran back pretending to be winded. Having a coach yell at us to “catch up to him!!” is all the motivation R and I need during the hour session. Some may say it’s Daddy Issues, but I really like having a male voice yell at me during my workout.

At one point, R was running and out of his hoodie fell a black sock. We had been looking for that guy! R pretended it was a towel and wiped his face with it. So far it has been really enjoyable, but four weeks feels a long way away at the moment. We’ll see how it goes.