A Productive Weekend.

Over the last few months, our weekends have been less that productive around the house.  We’ve traveled some and had other commitments, so that slows things down considerably.  Plus, with it being summer, the last thing we want to do is be cooped up inside all weekend, when we get so little free time during the week.  So, with that said, we’ve made zero progress on the Master Bathroom remodel **hangs head in shame** so I have nothing new to share on that front.  However, this past weekend, we were able to make some progress on the house, overall!

Last week, I finally reached the point where I was fed up with our garage door opener.  There is only one car remote, that we share between two cars, and the garage door opener itself makes a horrible noise when you raise the door.  It has woken me up a few times when J leaves early for work, so I was fed up and done with it.  I realize this is totally a “First World Problem”…but dammit, I was finished.  So, I told J that our ONE priority this weekend was to replace the garage door opener with the new one that we’ve had, for months, sitting in the garage.  He agreed, and we decided to do it Saturday, since I had a band concert Sunday afternoon.

Saturday rolled around, and we woke early.  Had some breakfast, then J asked if we wanted to go for a walk/go to the gym and grocery, or just get started on the garage.  Oh no…I knew how this movie would end.  I wanted to get started first thing.  So, we backed out the cars, got all the equipment, and got started.  Surprisingly, it went well!  J and I do not normally do home repairs together, because we’re both “take charge” type of people, and both think we’re right…which can lead to arguments.  But, this time, it went so smoothly!  It took a bit of time (we had to rewire a few electrical things in the garage at the same time), but we finished it and everything worked!  SO QUIET!!  Plus, I also managed to weed the entire front yard landscaping, which was starting to resemble a jungle more than a front yard!  I was so glad to get those two things finished up and off our list…and who knows, maybe this jump started us on a new wave of home remodel productivity!

Much love,
K.

A New Endeavor

A few years ago, J and I switched to bar soap from liquid soap in our shower.  For the longest time, I would use a loofah and liquid soap, and be happy as a pig in mud.  Then, I read an article on the number of germs those loofahs hold, and was immediately grossed out.  So, back to bar soap I went.  In addition to the germ aspect, I did more research on the plastics involved and the environmental impact of liquid soap, and was really disappointed.  The amount of energy spent turning the soap to liquid, plus the chemicals included to keep the soap in its liquid state are terrible for the environment, not to mention the amount of plastic involved in the packaging.   So, the environmental impact, combined with my germaphobia, made it an easy choice to go back to a bar soap.

However, bar soap is NOT cheap!  At least, not if you want something that isn’t chock full of chemicals that I can’t even begin to pronounce.  And, frankly, the idea of spending $4-$5 per each bar of soap (and I shower twice a day, so that stuff doesn’t last) is enough to make me want to cry.  I’m environmentally friendly, but I’m also cheap.  So, with the help of Pinterest and my awesome googling skills, I have determined that I’m going to make my own soap!  I think I’ll start with a simple melt and pour recipe, so that I don’t have to jump right in with the lye.  Plus, it’ll give me a chance to see if I enjoy making the soap at all, before really buying a ton of stuff I might never use.

I’m hoping to order a few things this weekend, and get to start on it before our 4th of July holiday!  I’ll be sure to update with my finished product and process, and I’m hoping to have some fabulous new soap to show off!

Much love,
K.

J’s Birthday

J’s birthday is coming up next month, and it’s a bit of a big one.  He’s turning 35 this year, and I know it has him a bit down, as he feels like he’s getting older and things are falling apart (“they” always say wait until you’re 40, then it really goes downhill with your body, but I think J might be feeling it early).  So, I’d like to plan something fun for him, that will take his mind off the everyday stress, like work.  I know he enjoys outdoors things, and loves water parks, so I was trying to find something that would keep him entertained and busy, while still being fun and pseudo-relaxing.

Then, it came to me…we’re always talking about how a trip to Cincinnati (only a few hours away) would be a nice short weekend trip.  So, I booked it!  We’ll be taking Friday off work, and driving straight to King’s Island.  After a day spent riding the roller coasters and going to the water park, we’ll go back to Cincinnati and spend the night in a hotel.  Saturday morning we’ll wake up, then drive to Kentucky to see the Newport Aquarium and have lunch at the Hofbrauhaus (delicious German food!).  Saturday night we’ll stay in the city again, then Sunday we’ll explore Cincinnati a bit before driving home!  Maybe even a side trip to IKEA or Jungle Jim’s, if we want.

I hope he likes it…it’ll be hard keeping it a secret, but I think a surprise will do him some good!  Less than a month away, and I’m excited!

Much love,
K.

Quarter Marathon, Check!

Last weekend, I participated in the inaugural Indiana Women’s Trail Run at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis.  I’d never done any sort of trail running before in my life.  I mean, sure…I’ve ran on the road, and I’ve hiked on the trail…but never both of those, combined.  I had been wanting to get back into running ever since my knee surgery last year, but the recovery took a bit.  And then, I was focused on weight loss through changing my diet, and our winter here was absolutely miserable, so running took a back seat.  Then, an email for this race came through my inbox, and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to get back into running shape!  So, I started running on the path that goes through our housing complex (3 mile loop), but wasn’t able to really get any good mileage out of that because my knees kept hurting.  I was really hoping that, after losing 50+ pounds, the knee issues would ease up…but apparently not.

So…for the past month, I’ve gotten in a few run/walks.  Nothing really significant, but I wasn’t too worried because the trail run was a walk or a run, depending on what fitness level each person was at.  So, no big deal, because I could always walk some of it if it became too much.  Which was highly likely, as this wasn’t a road run, but a trail run, and a lot of different muscle groups would be engaged that weren’t normally.

raceSaturday dawned quite dark, seeing as how I had to get up at 0500 to get to the race in time.  I was definitely rethinking this whole idea to up and do a quarter marathon (6.55 miles) that early in the morning, but I managed to drag my sorry ass to the race, if only for the cupcake that was promised me at the end.  (The Flying Cupcake gave each lady a free, full-sized cupcake for completing the race…WELL worth it!)  And, of course, I was FULL of energy once I got there, so it didn’t make much difference anyways.  There’s something about the few minutes before a race that will get the energy moving, the heart pumping, and the adrenaline racing…it’s such a heady feeling!  Once the race started, we were off.  And by “off”…I mean that most of us were walking due to the bottle neck at the start of the trail.  It took awhile for the pack to thin out and get moving, but about a quarter-mile in I was able to start jogging and get in stride.  And, surprisingly, I kept going, and going, and going!  I made it just past the second mile marker before I had to slow it down a bit, then at around 2.5 miles I moved to a fast walk.  I kept that up until mile 4, then ran another mile, the slowed it down to a jog, then a walk, until mile 6.  At mile 6, I kicked it into gear and finished the race at a run!

Trail running was SUCH a better experience for me than road running.  The ground was far more forgiving for my joints, and it was a constantly changing scenery, which really helps with my focus.  I kept my iPod running with my favorite mix of music (Pitch Perfect was the headliner for my race), and was able to push through the hills really well.  At the end of the race, I got my medal and my cupcake, and I was a VERY happy lady!  It was a fantastic experience, and I’ll definitely do it again next year.  I was telling J about how I think I’m going to start trail running instead of on the road, going forward, so I’m hoping to make it over to the local state park a couple of times a week to hit up the trails and get moving.  I still really love other cardio workouts, but there are times when nothing beats the feeling of feet slapping the earth.  This weekend was definitely a kick-start to a new wave of exercise!

 

Much love,
K.

Internet Friends…Internet Loves.

One of the coolest things about my living abroad experiences were all the friends that I met via the internet.  Before J and I moved to the NL, I joined an internet board devoted to ladies living abroad.  Tons of great women on the board under a myriad of circumstances:  some moved due to work, some for love, some for school.  All incredibly diverse, and all sharing a wealth of information on what it was like to live outside your comfort zone.  Before we packed our bags, I frequented the board quite regularly, picking the minds of those who had gone before me, for any tidbit of advice I could get.  And tidbits I got!  Information on local customs, on what to bring and what to leave home, information on having children abroad, and personal experiences…it really ran the gamut!

Then, we got to the NL.  And it took a little while to settle in and really get a feeling for what we’d got ourselves into.  And the first few months, I was working from the apartment, and studying for the bar exam.  So, I was pretty busy.  But after that, I ventured out a little further…started meeting these women in person.  A lot of people would think I’m crazy.  “Meeting people OVER THE INTERNET?!” my mother would say…”Are you crazy?!”  And, there was a smidge of concern in the back of my mind, but nothing too overwhelming.  But then, I met T for the first time, in a train station in her town.  I was looking around for her, the only picture I had of her were shots from her Facebook profile.  And there she was!  This tiny little scrap of a woman, 5+ months pregnant at the time, barely skating past five feet tall.  We met up and talked for HOURS!  It was amazing, to find someone who you connect with so closely, on the other side of the world.

Over the next three years, I’d find many more dear friends that I initially “met” on the internet prior to meeting in person.  And I love them all, dearly.  T continues to be one of my best friends, to this day, and I still keep in contact with a few of the other ladies, either by phone or internet.  And though I’m now back in the US, we all still have this bond born of shared experience (and nurtured through genuine enjoyment of their company) that holds us all together still.  It was, and continues to be, the biggest bright spot of my time spent overseas.  I mean, don’t get me wrong…the travel was amazing, the foods were fabulous, the work experience was invaluable.  But the biggest thing?  It’s always been the people…the people are what are, and will continue to be for me, unforgettable.

So thanks, ladies.  Thanks for picking me up when I needed it, smacking me around when I deserved it, and holding my hand when I was scared.  I hold you all in my heart, and can’t wait until I see you again.

Much love,
K.

Growing up.

picstitchIn a few short weeks, it will be a year since we brought two more kittens into our home.  They were born the first of June, so we got them at around eight weeks or so.  But, the other day, I looked at my two “little kittens” and realized, they’re now cats.  Hard to imagine (well, not really, Hana is fat)  but I guess everyone grows up at some point.

Last night, they were snuggled up next to me in bed, purring away while I scratched their head, and I could help but think back to when they were so tiny.  When we first got them, I could carry both of them in one hand with no effort.  Now…carrying them both at the same time in my arms is a feat!  But, they’re still my babies, no matter how big they get.  And…they get along fairly decently with Lily now!  Which is exciting, in and of itself!

So…happy birthday, my little furbabies.  I can’t explain the joy you’ve brought to our lives, and I look forward to several more birthdays with you.

Much love,
K

A Father for all Days

When I was five years old, I thought my Daddy hung the moon in the night sky, just for me.  When I was ten, I thought he was the best baseball coach out there, always ready to pitch me another ball for practice.  At fifteen, I was convinced my Dad was out there to ruin my life, and I’d never be able to wear the clothes I wanted or see the boys I liked.  Twenty came and went, and Dad was always there…no real angst in our relationship, but nothing spectacular either.  When I was twenty-five, he was walking me down the aisle and giving me away to the man who would now become first in my life, the slot that Daddy used to hold.  A few years ago, when I turned thirty, I really came to terms with Dad’s mortality.  He’d just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and I knew it was only a matter of time before he wasn’t around any more, so I had to make each moment count.

Today, I celebrated my Dad.  I went home to my parents’ place, spent time with them, and took my dad out for a good ol’ fashioned steak (lunch was his choice).  We talked and laughed, and I tried to ignore when he called me by my sister’s name, or when his hands shook too much to cut up his meat.  And on the way home, with J behind the wheel, a tear or two might have slipped down my face, hidden by my sunglasses.  Dad is still there, for the most part, but there are times when he’s just a shell of who he was.  I console myself with the fact that, overall, his quality of life isn’t terrible.  It’s nowhere near where it was, and I’m sure it kills him to have me help him out of the car like an invalid, but I think we could both agree that it would be worse.  A LOT worse.  And “worse” might be right around the corner, or it might never come…we really don’t know.

So…while today might be Father’s Day, and I wish the best to all the father’s out there, I am making a conscious decision to celebrate my father ALL days.  Because, sadly, we never know how many days we have left.  And I’d hate to look back on my time with him and have regrets that I didn’t do enough.  Didn’t tell him I loved him enough, didn’t hug him enough, or laugh with him enough.  So, starting today, I’m going to go into every day making sure that he knows that he’s always going to be my #1 Dad, no matter what.

Wedding 11-25-2008 7-03-37 PM

Much love,
K.

Our Nation’s Birthday, at our Nation’s Capital!

Often, J and I try to plan our vacation around days where we get automatic holiday vacations at work.  The 4th of July is one of those “long weekend” type dates at work, depending on what day the 4th falls.  Since it’s on a Friday this year, we get the Friday off work, but that’s it.  That said, that’s what we get vacation days for, so we’re going to take an extra one and head out on Thursday for our 4th of July holiday!

I’ve always wanted to spend the 4th at Washington D.C.   Something about the Nation’s birthday, at the Nation’s capital…just seemed like so much fun!  Thankfully, J loves D.C. as much as I do, so it was an easy sell to get him to agree to this year’s 4th of July holiday in D.C.!  Last night, we booked our flights and hotel, and I’m currently looking at the various options for activities while we’re there.  Sadly, it’s a bit too late to schedule a tour of the White House or the U.S. Treasury, so we’ll have to leave that for our next trip over there, but that’s ok…more reason to go back!

Another good thing is that our good friend from the NL, also our Dutch teacher, now lives in D.C. with her husband, so we’ll get a chance to see them too!  Overall, it’s looking to be a fantastic trip, and I can’t wait to go and tell you all about it!  If any of you have any recommendations for D.C., I’d love to hear them…we’re always looking for something new and different!

fireworks

Much love,
K.

Graduation weekend, recap.

Last weekend, J and I watched his nephew graduate from high school.  I always love this time of year, dustinbecause it’s always filled with such hope and excitement.  Hope for what the future holds, and excitement for all the experiences out there, just ready for the grabbing.  It’s electrifying, even though I’m far beyond that stage in my life (though I guess, no one is ever beyond having hope for the future…maybe I need to rethink this “old” feeling).  Anyways…it was nice!  It was strangely reminiscent of my own high school graduation…small rural school, lots of pick-up trucks, and a ceremony that lasts less than an hour because there really aren’t that many students to get through.  Honestly, the Salutatorian and Valedictorian speeches lasted longer than the roll call of students.   It was just like my own graduation, some odd years ago.

And now, if you’ll permit me, my digression:  the next day was the graduation party that I had made a blue million servings of macaroni and cheese to serve.  And I wanted to take photos to show you all exactly what 125 servings looked like, but fate was once again conspiring against me.  Part way through the final batch, the electricity at our house went out.  Now, we have gas for cooking, so we should have been able to cook regardless…except the pilot light is lit using electricity.  And we don’t have matches or a lighter, so I was stuck until the electricity decided to make its appearance.  As such, when the power finally came back on, I was in a mad scramble to finish up the last of the goods, get them packed, and then jump in the shower to look somewhat presentable prior to the party.  Sadly, photos were the last thing on my mind…suffice it to say, it was a sh*t-ton of macaroni and cheese.  More macaroni and cheese than I’ve ever seen in my life at one time.  Epic amounts of macaroni and cheese.  Make a mental picture in your mind of a field of macaroni and cheese that spreads across the plain states of Nebraska, Kansas, and parts of Oklahoma, and that will give you an idea of the sheer mass of cheesy deliciousness.  See, photos only prevent you from using your imagination…you’re welcome in advance.

So, after all that, we get to the graduation and get set up, and then guests start arriving.  It was great to catch up with family and friends, and it appears that the graduation guy had a good time!  All in all, though it was a lot of work, it was a good turn-out and I think fun was had by all.  And, it was a nice chance to really sit back and reflect on my own graduation and where my choices have taken me from high school to now.  And though it’s been a long road (as I’m sure it’ll be for the newly graduated), I wouldn’t change a minute of it.  So far, it’s been a good ride.

**Digression Over**

congratsSo, congratulations graduates of 2014.  I wish you all the very best in your future and hope that you take every experience as it comes, and embrace it all.  For each new step you take will push you to be the very best “you” possible, if you let it.  Never be afraid to take chances, for those chances can be the difference between a lifetime of looking back with “what ifs” and a journey incomparable to anything you’ve ever imagined.  Make good decisions when you can, and strive every day to go to sleep having learned at least one new thing.  Remember that mistakes are par for the course, and while they might be humbling and angst ridden, they are designed to teach a lesson that, hopefully, you learn well.  Don’t be afraid to make them, and remember the advice of “Make Better Mistakes Tomorrow.”  Good luck, and God speed.

Much love,
K.

Macaroni and Cheese for 100…or “Life in Excess”

So, my task, should I choose to accept it, is figure out how much I need to buy in order to make macaroni and cheese for 100 people.  It all started a few weeks ago…

As many of you know, it’s graduation time in the United States, and J’s nephew is graduating on Friday from high school.  And, as is tradition, with graduation comes the often grudgingly enjoyed Graduation Party!  So, because I love to cook, and apparently have a knack for feeding the masses, I volunteered to help with the food.  Of course, when I volunteered, I was thinking, “oh please…how bad could it be?!”  HA!  Well, I asked how many were invited.  125 people.  WHO INVITES 125 PEOPLE TO A GRADUATION PARTY?!?!?!?!?!

Cue epic freak-out.

Waiting…

Waiting…

Waiting…

 

Ok…epic freak-out over.

Once I picked my jaw off the floor, and self-medicated with a martini and a Valium, I got down to business.  How in the world does one make enough macaroni and cheese for 125 people?  Without a commercial kitchen and commercial equipment.  And, sitting here today (and writing this blog post), I still have no clue.  But…I figure, at the end of the day, it’ll work out.  People won’t eat JUST macaroni and cheese, even though my macaroni and cheese is awesome, and there will be plenty of other food to eat, so I’m not going to stress myself out.

That said…I will be SURE to update you all with photos, documenting the massive amounts of deliciousness I’m about to prepare!

 

Much love,
K.