Weekend Recap

Chris spent the weekend working on a big project, so I spent some much-needed time around the house doing fun (and some not-so-fun) projects.

I finished all of the chair cushions for the dining room (so exciting!), and the table is all finished, with the exception of some wax I need to polish it with before we use it.  And I made a teeny bit of progress on the actual chairs.  They became quite the pain to paint, as they have a lot of great detailing.  It really made me wish I had a sprayer to paint them with.  Or someone who could do it for me!  Kidding.  Kind of...

So the dining room is coming together.  I have a few more small-ish projects I want to do in there before I do a before & after post.  Stay tuned!

I also spent a lot of time in the kitchen this weekend.  Cleaning and cooking!  Since Chris had to spend the entire weekend working, I decided to make it as pleasant as possible for him by making some tasty treats.  

For dinner on Friday, I made mexican chickpea tacos, which were a huge hit!  Though I will not take credit for the recipe, as my friend, Claire, introduced me to it from a blog she follows.  I did mine slightly different than the recipe on the blog, and really liked the simplicity of them.  Of course, I forgot to take a photo of the chickpeas once they were in the actual tacos, but here is a look at them marinating.  Yum!

{ click here for the link to the recipe I used/adapted. }

I used regular taco shells, as opposed to making them into lettuce wraps, though I may try that in the future. I also only added guacamole, lettuce and tomato.  The marinated chickpeas are so delicious that I wanted them to have the spotlight, rather than add a bunch of other flavors that would drown them out.

Saturday, we had leftovers, while I slaved away on the dining room, and Chris continued work on his project.  Then I made dark chocolate covered strawberries as an afternoon treat!  I think I may have been more proud of my clean kitchen, then my strawberry efforts, as you can barely see the strawberries in the photo!  Ha!  A clean kitchen island is definitely my happy place, though it doesn't look like this as often as it should!

Sunday, I made a delicious (faux) chicken salad on top of a bed of spinach.  I have shared the recipe before, but here it is again.  So simple!

Beyond Meat (lightly seasoned "chicken")
0% fat greek yogurt (I like Fage)
diced celery
grapes, halved
pepper, to taste

Use the combination that you like best (I like extra grapes!), pour on top of spinach, and enjoy!

And for dinner last night, I made a great vegetarian chili with corn on the cob (even though there is corn in the chili as well...

It was a bit of a random assortment thrown in to make the chili, but it actually turned out pretty good.  The nice thing with chili, is that it doesn't need to be a precise recipe.  Just know your key ingredients, and throw them into the pan to simmer away all afternoon.  Here is my rough recipe.

2 cans kidney beans
2 cans black beans
1 diced white onion
4 cans fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies (medium)
1 16 oz can tomato sauce
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 package frozen corn

Combine all ingredients, simmer until beans and onion are tender.  Enjoy!

All in all, it was a great weekend!  I got some great exercise in, and spent some much needed time at home, tackling several "chores" that have been neglected the past few weeks.  

Although we were disappointed that Chris had to work, we are looking forward to the long weekend so we can get out and do some day trips exploring more of Colorado!

What did you do this weekend?  Any big plans for the holiday weekend?

The Dailey Method

A little over a year ago, when Chris and I moved to Colorado, I had to give up a very beloved form of exercise: The Dailey Method.  I had been doing it in the bay area for 4 or 5 months and knew that I had found my thing.  Unfortunately, Boulder (where we lived when we first moved to CO) didn't have TDM, but they did have The Bar Method.  I figured it couldn't be that different, so I gave it a shot.
{ what is The Dailey Method, you ask?  Click here to learn more. }

To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement.  

When you look at the "poses" of each class, they are strikingly similiar, but for some reason TBM just didn't click for me the way the Dailey Method had.  I found after just a few classes of TDM, that I craved going to class.  And for me, that is very rare to find in a form of organized exercise.  I prefer letting my hair blow freely in the wind on a hike surrounded by beautiful scenery.  Not four walls and 20 other women.  But for whatever reason, the Dailey Method spoke to me.

A few months ago, we bought our house nearer to Denver, and I spotted a Groupon for a month of unlimited classes at the newly opened Dailey Method in Denver.  It was a bonus that it happens to only be about ten minutes away from my house!  Meant to be?  I think so.

I enlisted my bestie to try it out with me, as it would be her first time doing TDM, and let me tell you, I forgot how HARD that first class is.  No matter how much you work out, the poses you hold in The Dailey Method seem to challenge even the strongest of women.  Our first class was a little over a week ago, and when I woke up the next morning, literally every muscle in my body ached.  I had a nice long stretch and waited a week to go back for more!  This past Saturday I went again, and when I woke up Sunday morning, I craved more.  So I went to another class on Sunday.  

{ thigh work - a lot harder than it looks! }

The crazy part?  I want to go again after work today.  After a few classes, you find your muscles remembering the poses, allowing you to move deeper into them, and hold them for longer.  And the shaking finally starts to subside while holding said poses.  And I already see the results of the fine toning!  What other exercise delivers such immediate results??

The down side, is that the classes are quite expensive, when you don't have a groupon, so I am already trying to figure out how to afford more once mine runs out.  One thing is for sure, I will find a way to get myself back there for more classes.  It's not everyday that I find a form of exercise that I can't possibly get enough of.

If you have a Dailey Method studio near you, and you haven't tried it out, I highly recommend it!  Let me know how it goes if you give it a shot!  If you don't have a studio nearby, there is a DVD you can get to be able to do it at home.  Though this is great if it's your only option, I think going to at least a few classes at the studio first is best.  They make sure you are getting the proper "tuck" and "neutral spine" positions, and just that you are generally doing all of the poses correctly.  I think I speak for all TDM-ers when I say that they are not quite as easy as they look, but when you get into the correct form, you definitely feel a difference in the pose.  Meaning it is usually a lot harder!!

Do you have a form of exercise that you just can't live without?  Tell me why in the comments below.

Dining Room Update

Well, last night I got hit by the DIY bug again, so I dove into the dining room project hoping for more progress than last time.  My goal was to finish more of the chairs, but when I realized I was out of the required spray primer (and far too lazy to go to Home Depot), I changed tactics and decided to re-cover the cushions of the chairs instead.

{ work in progress, don't mind the mess! }

I realized when starting the cushions, just how much work all of these "easy" DIY projects actually take.  It wasn't just a matter of cutting the fabric and stapling it on, there is more prep work involved than I allowed myself to think about.  Like ironing the fabric.  For someone that only breaks out her iron for special occasions (if that), I was not thrilled at the idea that the fabric was wrinkled, but I did what had to be done. I really want this space to look nice when I finish.

After four cushions, I realized I may suffer from ADD, because I spotted the dining room table out of the corner of my eye and decided to start priming the table!  It gave me a really good idea of how nice and bright the table is going to look when it is finished, and got me really motivated to get everything done!

So much motivation, in fact, that I got a brilliant (I think!) idea for a chandelier makeover that I hope will finish off the room nicely.  I also spotted a cheap rug (thank you very much, IKEA) that goes so well with the vision I have for the room.  I see an IKEA trip in my near future.  I seriously love that place.  Except having to put together my own furniture.  Not cool.

All in all, I think it was a successful DIY evening.  So what if I only finished four chair cushions and the top of the table?!  Every little bit is progress, even if I don't do things in a very logical order.  Or at least that's what I keep telling myself.  :)

My goal for tonight is to finish the remaining chair cushions.  I just have one question.  I used one of the chairs for my "office" upstairs, painted it white and gave it a fun coral cushion.  Should I make one other chair (that will not be stored at the table) with a coral cushion, so that I have 8 gray and white striped and two coral?  Or leave the remaining 9 the same gray and white striped with only one coral?  It will only really matter if we have 10 people sitting down to dinner, which I doubt will be very often...  Decisions, decisions. Let me know what you think!

Hopefully I can post an update with a finished room soon.  I feel like I have so many "works-in-progress!" Stay tuned!

DIY Newbie

As the title suggests, I am just starting to break into the DIY world, and while I consider myself fairly handy and capable, I am learning that there is a lot of patience needed when tackling any DIY job.

Case in point?  Our dining room table and chairs that we got for a bargain on craigslist.  The character of the table and chairs is really great, and the table is literally four feet wide, providing plenty of space for guests to dine over with ten chairs!  The set is from the 60s and has not had any part of it updated since then, so although I loved the character of it, I knew it needed some freshening up.

{ a before shot of one of the chairs. }

We are sort of going for a beach cottage type theme on the main floor of our house, without being over-the- top-annoying-beachy (very technical terms, I know...).  So I figured painting this gorgeous table and chairs a nice, bright white, would fit in nicely.  And then when I re-cover the cushions as well, it should bring them into this decade!

{ a work in progress... }

What I didn't realize is that priming ONE chair would take me nearly an hour!  With a total of ten chairs, that is a lot of time, and that is only for the first coat!  I have four chairs done, and hope to finish the rest of them in the next week or so.  Then, I can tackle the giant table.  It is a risky piece of furniture to paint, simply because of the amount of traffic a dining room table will see, but I have faith in the tips I have found online that it will all work out fine.  Fingers crossed!  

Stay tuned to see the final product once I finally get around to painting the table as well.  I am really excited about this room coming to life, as right now we very rarely use it.

Language Barrier Monday

A few years ago, about this time, Chris asked me if we were planning on going to a fancy dress party.  I have to admit that I had no idea what he was talking about.  So I responded confused, "you mean like a black tie-type party?"

"No, like for halloween!"

"You mean, a costume party??"

Haha, that is a funny one to me because something that seems to simple can be completely misunderstood.

The memory of this conversation is a great reminder that I need to actually prepare for this Halloween if I plan on going to my own fancy dress party this year!  Fall will be here before we know it.

Sustenance Sunday

Today's SS post is a new one for me as well.  When Chris and I went to the English pub on Friday evening, he ordered Bubble and Squeak.  I'm sorry, but that might just be the cutest (and most obscure) name for a dish I have ever heard of.  :)

Basically, I learned that Bubble and Squeak is traditionally known for combining any leftovers you have for Sunday roast (dinner).  The two consistent ingredients (according to my research) are mashed potatoes and cabbage.  

Chris got the vegetarian version on Friday, but it can often include sausage or other various meats depending on what leftovers there are available.

Though my experience in England is not extensive, I was surprised that I found a dish that I had not yet heard of.  Though I suppose if it is traditionally known as a leftovers dish, restaurants would likely not serve that on their menu.

Also on our taste tester menu for Friday?  Vegetarian pasties and chips and curry (fries and curry sauce for dipping).

Looking forward to a return in the near future to try out their English afternoon tea menu!  Complete with crustless sandwiches, scones and delicious creamy black tea.  A perfect afternoon in my opinion.  

Happy Sunday!

A True English Tradition

One thing I have grown to love since I began visiting England with Chris 4 years ago, is what is commonly known as "pub atmosphere" at English pubs.  It really is a unique, friendly and inviting atmosphere.  We have our own version of this at various sports bars, where you can make friends (or frenemies?) over local and national sporting events, of course.  But for some reason, it isn't quite the same.  Maybe it also has to do with the British sense of humor, as I have actually experienced a similar feeling when Chris and I have attended a British Expat event at a local pub here in Colorado.  (And I would know... just ask Chris' uncle who confirmed last time we visited, that I have a great sense of humor... for an American! Haha, love him. )

Whatever it is, when people refer to "pub atmosphere", I know I like it.  And we hope to do our best to replicate that experience tonight, as we try out a local "English" pub for the first time.  It is owned by a British couple, so expectations are high, I'm not going to lie.  

{ from the photos, it doesn't have quite the charm of a traditional English pub, but I have a good feeling about the place... maybe we will even meet some crazy locals... }

The menu promises the best British pubs have to offer, or at least the cheesy things we expect when dining in our very own English pub splendor.  Like what, you ask?  Cornish Pasties (yum!), bangers & mash (double yum! If I still ate meat, that is..), fish & chips, chips & curry (that's fries with curry sauce to us Yanks!), shepherd's pie, & scotch eggs (eww, not for me... but Chris loves them!).

{ enjoying a pasty for the first time! don't let that look on my face fool you... I loved ever last bite! }

{ side note: when I first met Chris, and he would refer to the "local," I had no idea what he was talking about. Local what?  Local pub, of course, but the pub is a given there I guess.  :)  On an even more random side note, the song by The Script refers to "my local down the street," and had I not already known the meaning behind this, that part of the song would have been lost on me.  Funny how I notice myself picking up on things like that now...  Sorry, end randomness. }

The verse from the song, in case you are wondering what I am talking about...

Am I better off dead?
Am I better off a quitter?
They say I'm better off now
Than I ever was with her
As they take me to my local down the street
I'm smiling but I'm dying trying not to drag my feet...

They say a few drinks will help me to forget her
But after one too many I know that I'll never
Only they can't see where this is gonna end
They all think I'm crazy but to me it's perfect sense...

Oh, and the beer menu doesn't look to shabby either.  How could I have left out one of the most (okay, the most!) important part?!  I could go for a pint... who's with me?!

Summer Bucket List Update

As I am doing an okay job of accomplishing things on my Summer Bucket List, I thought I would share my progress with you so far.

I put 24 things on my bucket list, and have currently knocked off the following:

1.  Rafting Trip (post coming SOON!)
2.  Buy a vintage sewing machine (still need to learn how to use it!)
3.  Establish some creative space in our house for my crafts & writing
4.  Pick a project on Pinterest and do it! (Will share the details in a separate post)
5.  Attend a meditation class at Buddhist Center.
6.  Enjoy a romantic dinner for two with Chris on our back deck. (sounds easy, but it is crazy how easily we glaze over this option in the craziness of busy lives.  We did this last night, and it was delightful.  Nevermind that it was not a home-cooked meal, but an Indian "takeaway," as they say in England...)

In addition to those that have been successfully checked off, I have several more in the works!

Soon to be #7 -  I have ordered my rental violin (lucky Chris!), hopefully it isn't completely painful learning. I'm not kidding myself that I will be some superstar violinist anytime soon (or ever!), but it's something that I have said I wanted to try to learn for YEARS now, so really, there's no time like the present.

Soon to be #8 -  Monday I will be checking off another one as I attend a hot yoga class.  I got really into this in the bay area and have fallen off the wagon the past year, so I hope to make it a regular part of my fitness routine again soon.  If you haven't tried it, you definitely should!  Sounds a sweaty, disgusting mess, but I have never gotten such a "high" from exercise as when I have done hot (Bikram) yoga.  It really gets those endorphin's pumping!

Soon to be #9 -  I have started a book club to achieve two results really.  One, I am a total book worm. And proud of it, thankyouverymuch.  And two, I really want to continue to make an effort to make new friends.  Having lived in Colorado for almost a year now, I have made a few friends, and quite frankly feel like I hit the friend jackpot here.  Don't you just love it when you make a new friend and you feel like sparks fly and you are going to be friends forever?  Cheesy, I know, but I have also learned over the last few years how much friendships enrich our lives, so why would I ever stop trying to add to my already amazing group of friends?!  

{ buy it HERE! }
{ our first book club selection, thanks Lindsay for recommending her blog to me! }

Our first book club meeting is TONIGHT!  I am so looking forward to it!

Soon to be #10 - Tomorrow night Chris and I are hoping to go to the drive-in theater.  This was a no-brainer for my bucket list because it brings back fond memories of doing this with my aunt and uncle growing up.  We would sometimes ride in their VW convertible bug and sit up on coolers in the back seat, snuggled up in the best blankets, of course.  I seriously LOVE drive-in theaters.  I only wish there were still more of them around.  Fingers crossed that we make it out tomorrow night!  :)

Another one I am excited about, but currently have no firm plans to do?  Wine tasting!  There is a really cute local winery to us, that offers mellow live music on Fridays and Saturday evenings.  Sounds like the perfect combination to me!

How are y'all doing on your Summer Bucket Lists?  There's still more than a month left of Summer, so you have plenty of time to get those things in that you have been putting on the back burner!  Make yourself a priority this summer!  It's totally worth it.  Even if it means you have 2 weeks worth of laundry and a sink full of dirty dishes.  And, no, I'm not speaking from experience. Purely hypothetical.

Happy (almost) Friday!

Meditation Download

Success!  We went to the meditation course last night and I got exactly the result I was hoping for!  

During our first foray into meditation, our instructor told us one of life's lessons: "expectations reduce the joy in life."  So with that sentiment, I went into it with an open mind, knowing that whatever happened, I just wanted to feel better afterwards.  And I am happy to report that I did!  I still do!

This particular course is only $5 and starts with a 20-25 minute "lesson" on meditation, followed by a 30 minute guided meditation.  Last night's talk focused on how well-known Colorado is for being one of the healthiest states.  Physically.  But that we don't always do the necessary "exercises" for our mind.  Insert meditation.  We focused on the importance of being able to control our minds when toxic or negative thoughts threaten to take over.  Sounds so simple, but in all honesty, I think we allow these types of take-overs more often than we may realize.

Our instructor gave a very simple example, and again, it sounds so obvious.  Yet, I have found myself in this situation more than I care to admit.  Say your car breaks down on the side of the road.  You have a problem.  If you allow this inconvenience to take over your mind, you now have two problems.  And the one you added to the mix does nothing to help you.  

These are welcome challenges for me.  As I have mentioned before, Chris is so much better at this than I am. The first time we traveled together, I remember getting in late to our destination after missing our first flight. Chris called the rental car company from the terminal to figure out how to get to the rental pick-up.  He was so polite and nice to the person on the other end, thanking them for their help before hanging up.  I looked to him for direction, asking which way we needed to go.  His response?  "They're closed. We can't get a car." You never would have been able to guess that this was the answer he was given on the phone, because he was still so positive and happy.  

This continues to be a lesson for me, one that I call on quite often.  It is easy to let things bring us down, but how much better will we feel if we roll with the punches and laugh our way through it?  I have some really good friends who are pros at this.  My hope is that I can continue to learn from their example.

I left last night's class feeling more calm than I had in recent memory.  Peaceful, really.  It was a welcome surprise for me, and I hope I can continue to make this a priority in my life.

Well, another thing checked off my Summer Bucket List!  Feeling energized and motivated to continue my journey of self-growth.

Buddhist Meditation

One thing that has been on my to-do list for a while is to attend a Buddhist temple and try a meditation session.  Although I have done a similar form of meditation in the past, I have been hesitant (nervous?) to go on my own. So in an attempt to actually make it happen, I added this to my 2013 Summer Bucket List.  And the form that is at the top of my list is Loving Kindness Mediation.

{ from our visit to Hong Kong last year }

I think many people turn to religion in hard times, allowing their faith to pull them through.  I have never been a very religious person, though that does not mean I do not have my own beliefs.  I find that Buddhism calls to me in a way that traditional religion does not.  To me, Buddhism is more a way of life.  A life practicing wisdom, compassion and awareness.  I appreciate the ability to see the good in any situation, and although I do feel like I an fairly good at this, I want to challenge myself to follow this path even in hard times.

I also appreciate that with Buddhism, it is not about convincing others to follow the same principles, but is more about leading by example.  Those who choose to follow certainly can, but it is never pressed upon anyone that they should believe what you believe, when it comes to Buddhism.  

In my endless attempt to continue to grow and evolve, I hope that this is an area that I can make some real progress.  It is so easy to allow the negative things that surround us to take over, and I hope that in times of struggle, this meditation can be my solace.

The result of my desire for growth?  I am going to the temple tonight!  I am very much looking forward to it, and am happily dragging Chris along with me.  Hey, haven't you ever heard of safety in numbers?!  Luckily, Chris is just as interested in all of this as I am.

Have you tried meditation?  Do you feel like it had a positive impact on you?

Wish me luck!

Language Barrier Monday

When we were in Washington for our American Wedding, I was reminded of yet another British term that is commonly misunderstood here in America.  

The subject we were talking about eludes me, but it had to do with the cost of something.  The high cost, to be more exact.  But Chris' mom used the term most obvious to her, saying how dear it was in England. 

I feel like I have reached a new level of acclimation, because this almost went unnoticed by me.  It probably would have if I hadn't started the Language Barrier Monday series last month.

Happy Monday!

Sustenance Sunday

A "classic" staple in all American versions of English Tea Rooms is good old-fashioned crumpets.  These tasty little treasures are likened to an english muffin, though they have a more chewy, spongy texture than your average english muffin.  They are often served toasted and topped with butter and/or various types of marmalade.

{ side note, I have never actually seen these on the menu in England, only at American knockoffs of the traditional English tea room. We love a good English 'tradition,' don't we? }

Do you have an English Tea Room near you?  Have you ever tried a crumpet?  What do you think of them?

Colorado Beauty

As we head off on our rafting adventure, I thought I would share a few photos from the canyon we will be rafting through.

Happy Saturday!!!

Mid-Summer Blues?

We were so excited all Spring for Summer to finally arrive so that we could get out and explore the beautiful Rocky mountains that are literally on our doorstep.  But now that summer is in full swing, I find my mind drifting to Fall.  Feeling excited at the thought of warm sweaters, tall boots, and the changing colors of the leaves that are especially beautiful here in Colorado.  

I've been trying to live in the moment a bit more and enjoy where I'm at right now, as opposed to where I want to be.  In all aspects really.  And luckily I've got just the ticket.  Literally.

There really is no cure for mid-summer blues quite like live comedy.  

Back in February, we went to see Tom Papa here in Denver with some friends, and literally had the best time!  If you haven't seen him live, I highly recommend it!  (or just look him up on Netflix... his Live From New York show is fantastic!)  So as Chris and I began chatting about plans for the summer, we knew we wanted it to include more comedy.

My sister and brother-in-law introduced us to Brian Regan a few years ago (on Netflix again!), and we really took to his clean, but hysterical jokes.  So when we saw that he was performing at Red Rocks Amphitheater, it was a no-brainer!  Non-stop laughing in the most scenic venue you can imagine? Yes, please!

The months have flown by since we booked the tickets, and the day is finally here!  We get to see him perform tonight!  And as beautiful a location as Red Rocks is, I am aware that we might also get caught in the thunder and lightning storm that is expected later today!  One downfall to outdoor performances in the Denver summers!  Oh well, we will take an umbrella (wait, do umbrellas attract lightning?!), grab a cold beer and enjoy whatever mother nature throws our way!

We are off on our rafting adventure tomorrow... stay tuned next week for what is sure to be a fun and exciting story from this round of rafting!

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

I think that is the second time I have referenced Mr. Rogers in my very young blog, which I must admit, is a bit weird, even for me.

Moving on...

I have to say that although Chris and I are still "new" to our neighborhood, we are feeling incredibly fortunate to have the neighbors that we do.  And not just our immediate neighbors, but the whole cul-de-sac has been so warm and welcoming to us.

{ I found this snow-covered photo of our house from just after we moved in earlier this Spring... Funny to see it with snow, when it has been roasting hot here this summer }

Two weeks ago, as we slaved away in the front yard on Operation Rock Removal, several more new neighbors, and some we already know quite well, came over to introduce themselves and offer up any tools or equipment that we might need.

From the hilariously sarcastic neighbor who is an original owner in our development, to the 70 year old woman who introduced herself by saying it was her husband that mows the lawn with his shirt off.  To which Chris responded, "Oh yes!  I know the house!"  {awk-ward!}  When we told her that it was our first house and that we are still figuring things out when it comes to landscaping, she responded, "well, we are 70, so this is our last house.  They'll be taking us out by the feet!"  I told Chris I can't wait to get to know Jean better so I can invite her over for tea.  She seems like such a sweet and funny lady.

Chris and I have made a point to introduce ourselves to new neighbors whenever we get the chance.  We know how strange it must be for them to have a new family on the block, and we want them to know that they have nothing to worry about.  Okay, almost nothing.

Our (law enforcement) neighbor... you know the one?  He saved the day during the toilet fiasco.  Anyway, he told us over the weekend that he really appreciates how good we are at communicating with them and being so friendly.  This is a welcome compliment considering we are new to the whole home ownership thing (or at least I am, not so much Chris), and are doing our best to put ourselves out there and be 'neighborly.'

I can't think of a better way to sum up our efforts so far, than in the words of George W:  
Mission Accomplished.

Operation: Rock Removal

I want to start by saying that I consider myself to be a pretty hard worker.  When I set out to do something, I tend to work really hard at it until it is done.  This is something that Chris constantly teases me about, because I will skip all meals without even realizing it when I get wrapped up in a project.

However, two weekends ago, as Chris and I began the back-breaking project of removing all of the rock from the front of our house (aka Operation Rock Removal), I realized that I draw the line at serious manual labor.  Or at least, serious in my opinion.  First world problems, I know.

Spending a total of 15 hours (over two days, don't call my union rep...) hunched over shoveling rock into a wheelbarrow is not my idea of fun, to say the least.  And on top of that, we encountered well over 250 spiders and bugs as we scooped and raked the rock around.  

{ side note: as sad as it may seem, I would like to pat myself on the back for how calm I stayed despite all of these bug encounters (though I assure you, it did give me nightmares...)! }

We finished one side of the house (though we will have to go back over it once we go over it with a rototiller because some of those rocks are really wedged down into the ground), and had planned on finishing the other side this past weekend, but we just didn't have the energy or motivation.  This is a problem, because I am not sure when the motivation will appear!

Ever since we bought our house earlier this Spring, I keep saying that I don't mind putting a little sweat equity into the house. But after this past weekend, I have to admit I was trying to figure out a way that we could afford to have someone else come finish it, without having to win the lottery first!

And to top it all off, the small, but significant amount of weed (& ivy!) removal we had done earlier this summer in our back yard, has all returned (and then some!) because we haven't had the time to spend back there in several weeks.  Sigh... where can I sign up for an hgtv save my yard contest?  I'm so embarrassed by the back yard, that I won't even post photos!  That's when you know it's bad...

My family is probably thanking the lord that we don't live nearby right about now, or I would seriously be recruiting some help!

Rafting Nerves

It's hard to believe it was only last summer that the craziest rafting trip of my life happened.  I ride a thin line in my life in that I definitely consider myself adventurous and up for (almost) anything, but the moment something goes "wrong," I can often become a big baby about said adventure.  Case in point: rafting.

July 2012, Chris and I went on a rafting adventure with two of our great California friends. We woke up early one Saturday in July and made the trek up to Middle Fork American River where we were promised class III and IV rapids as we journeyed through a beautiful canyon.  

Having been rafting once before on the Deschutes River in Oregon, I had absolutely no fears as we headed out onto the river, though I wonder if my subconscious mind harbored a little bit of fear, because I chose the far back seat in the raft.  (for some reason that seemed like a safe seat!)

 We paddled through a few insignificant rapids soon after we pushed offshore before our guide warned us about the first major rapid: Tunnel Chute Rapid.  He said it was a class IV and would drop straight into a tunnel through the rock cliff, just as we hit the bottom of the rapid.  He then reiterated safety protocol, should you fall out of the raft (blah, blah, blah) and assured everyone that they would be just fine.  I will admit that I tuned him out half way through his warning, because I thought, 'there's no way they will take us on a super hard rapid where we have potential of falling out and getting hurt.'  Right?

Naive? Probably, especially considering we had signed a waiver before jumping into our raft, but it wasn't until we reached the top of the rapid that a wave of fear washed over me. My feet were hardly wedged in, let alone the fact that there were no handles on the raft. I had no idea how I was going to get through this huge drop safely.  

As we started down the rapid, our guide shouted for us to "paddle, paddle," though I cannot recall if I actually did or not. I will say (with a bit of shame) that as our raft started to head towards the rock wall on the right hand side of the rapid, I was grateful to be sitting on the left.  The shameful part? My husband and friend, Stephanie, were sitting on that side, and all I was worried about was my own safety.  

A little thing called karma punished me for my selfishness though, because as we hit off the rock wall on the right hand side, everyone came flying over to the left (my) side of the raft.  Chris flew directly into me, causing my worst fears to be realized. I was going to have to free ride the last part of this rapid as well as the dreaded tunnel.

{ pretty sure my husband knocked me out of the raft... }

Sheer desperation kept me reaching (literally) for any means of staying on that raft, even if that meant my friend, Ryan, was coming with me.  

{ I love the look on Chris' face here... }

And just when Ryan thought he was finally safe, I reached out for one last ditch attempt to save myself. Because I'm selfish like that.

{ Desperate times call for desperate measures! I love how all you can see is my arm! }

I quickly started remembering bits of the safety information our guide had relayed to us while I was tuning him out in favor of the beautiful scenery. Feet forward, lean back, you can do it, you're okay, oh my gosh are there rocks in this white water that I might hit my head on and get knocked unconscious?

What? I panicked.

{ "breathe, you're fine, feet forward, lean back..." }

I made it through the rest of the rapid, pushing off the rock walls with my feet and into the darkened tunnel. When I emerged from the other side, another thoughtful guide pulled me out onto his boat, exclaiming "welcome to the club!" I had no idea what he was talking about in that moment, and am sure I looked a hot mess, but somehow my sunglasses had stayed intact despite going overboard in the hardest rapid of the day. I found this intriguing.

I will be forever grateful for these photos the rafting company took, as they made us all laugh with tears over dinner and beer on the journey home from our adventure.  I live for those funny stories that, no matter how many times you tell them, they never lose their ability to stitch you up with laughter. 

The timing of this post is not random, however.  We have our first Colorado rafting adventure planned for this coming weekend and I am mixed with excitement and nerves for what will come on the journey.  I think it's someone else's turn to fall out. Girlfriend's had enough excitement.  Thank you very much, Universe.

Wish me luck!