Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Food for thought

When a food item is pickled in a brine we call it by it's name, but add "pickled" to the beginning. Such as: pickled eggs, pickled beets, pickled pigs feet, etc.

However, when cucumbers are pickled we don't call them pickled cucumbers. We call them pickles.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This one is for Julie

I've been thinking for several days now that I should really post something because the post at the top of the page for over a week has been a picture of Andy's disgusting, improvised dinner. Then yesterday Julie posted on my Facebook wall confirming exactly what I was thinking. So, for her I'll post something new because I need to and I've been meaning to post this for a long time.

When Robert and Allison were here a few weeks ago, we were cruising through Wal-mart and found a clearance gingerbread village kit. Allison and I thought it looked like fun and so I bought it for us to put together one evening.

We were so busy the whole time we didn't get around to constructing the village. I took some video of the construction, or rather, I had Drew take some video, but the evening quickly went from silly to inappropriate, so I'm not going to post any of the video. Sorry. You'll just have to use your imagination and look at the pictures.

Laying out the panels for each house

Well on our way to a fully constructed village

Decking the halls

Fully constructed and decorated with sugar

Something funny: Drew, who is somewhat challenged in the kitchen, said something about molasses while he was filming us putting the houses together. When I asked what he was talking about he said that he was referring to the "stuff" we were using to build the village. He thought it was molasses because he knew that was used for gingerbread houses. I guess he wasn't too far off. Molasses is a main ingredient in gingerbread after all.

Also, these things are NOT tasty, in case you were wondering. I recommend making some gingerbread to eat while you're doing this kind of kit because it's kind of like eating cardboard smothered in sugar.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I can't win them all

I may be making an effort to eat better, but I can't force Andy to do the same.

This was his dinner tonight:

Contents: Ramen noodles, canned chili, cheddar cheese and sour cream.

We have real food in the fridge. He ate this by choice.

When he gets a stomach ache tomorrow he's going to have to go somewhere else for sympathy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tis the season to blog about health and weight loss

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I'm not a dieter. I believe that diet is what you eat. Plain and simple. If you are eating food on a regular basis, regardless of what that food is, you are on a diet. I'm a cheerleader for the "eat what you want" movement. However, I believe that if you're going to have an open and unrestricted diet you need to be aware of what is going in your mouth and attaching itself to your midsection.

It's pretty simple. All you have to do is look at the food pyramid. I'm not a fan of counting calories or fat grams, but if you just pay attention to that pyramid you see that the largest sections on it are for vegetables, milk products and grains (carbs! you should eat carbs!), with the fruits section not far behind, but slightly smaller because of the sugar content in fruit.

I'm not trying to be preachy, you can interpret the pyramid any way you choose. I'm pretty sure they have an interactive pyramid now that allows you to customize it to your own lifestyle and needs. However, when I look at it and think back on the last two months, I know I have failed miserably & my body has been letting me know it.

Y'all, there are so many restaurant options here. I mean, on our main street alone there has to upwards of 15 places to eat. I haven't counted, but that is a low estimate. I'm not talking about chains, oh no, we aren't big fans of chain restaurants in our house. We like cute little hole-in-the-wall, undiscovered, but incredibly tasty places & this town is riddled with them. In the last two months of living in Colorado we have eaten out more than we did in the previous ten months living in North Carolina. Not only is it sucking all the money out of our bank account, but it's sucking out all my energy as well. Then throw in all the restaurant food with the rich & unhealthy, albeit delicious, food from Thanksgiving and Christmas, and you have a recipe for a very unhealthy me.

It has become very cliche for people to start watching their diet in January. How many of you made a resolution to make 2011 the year you take off those extra pounds and finally start eating right? There is a reason the number one new year's resolution is to lose weight & get fit. It's because we have spent two months over indulging and generally feel like crap because of it. If the new year started in September after we were all fresh off the vacation bandwagon the number one resolution would be to wear more sunscreen.

Anyway, the point is, if you listen to your body it will tell you what you need. And what I need is more vegetables. I said so to Andy a couple weeks ago, "I think I need to eat more green things. I haven't been eating enough vegetables." This was confirmed for me on our latest trip to the grocery store when I kept going back to the produce section because as I shopped the aisles of prepackaged and prepared foods I kept thinking of another fruit or vegetable that sounded so good to me I had to have it rightthatsecond. Honestly, if I could have, I would have just gathered up one of everything in produce and started eating it right there in the store. If that isn't a cry for help I don't know what is. A plea from my body to stop shoving all that crap inside.

Then, one day last week, I was watching a morning show on television and they said that statistically every woman gains an average of eight pounds over the holiday season. Eight! Pounds! And I'm pretty sure I'm above average. Of course, I'm above average the one time that isn't a good thing.

That brings me to the second part of the number one new year's resolution, exercise. Or if that's a dirty word to you, movement. You don't have to sweat like a farm animal to exercise, just get out and move. Pull your rump up off the sofa or out of your desk chair and take a walk. Take advantage of all the winter sports that are available. Too cold for you? Go window shopping at the mall. Just move your body, that is the most important thing and the first step in making exercise a habit.

I'll be honest. My life has been dismally lacking in exercise lately. When we first got here it snowed non stop for about two weeks. I don't run in the snow. Mainly because I've had a broken ankle once and that was once too much for me. I tend to go cautiously and not tempt the conditions when it comes to outdoor exercise. However, Andy and I did walk a lot when we first moved because every where here is so walkable. So I didn't feel so bad about the lack of running.

Then Andy's job started to get more demanding. It took him some time to hire the rest of his management team, so he had to fill in the gaps. Then the first busy spurt hit with the onset of the holidays and he had to be at work for all that. Basically he was lucky to get one day off a week and he was so tired all he wanted to do was sleep. We only have one car and I'm not familiar enough with the trails around here to get out on my own yet. I've started to venture out more and more, one day walking my legs off around the local outlet mall, but mostly I've just been sticking close to home, and my sofa.

But lately I've been feeling like crap and I haven't had to search too hard to figure out why. Not to mention that I haven't really slept well since we moved. A friend suggested I try yoga as a sleep inducer. At this suggestion I remembered that I have a PM Pilates DVD that is actually a good little workout and has always worked to lull me off to sleep. I pulled it out on Friday and the last two nights I haven't had any trouble sleeping. It's been great.

So, yeah, not only am I guilty of slowly killing my body with take out, I've been doing it with laziness too. I'm not sure what the point of this post is other than just putting it out there. If I admit it to someone other than myself it makes me feel like I can't keep avoiding the inevitable. Also, I want this to be an encouragement to all of you who did make a resolution to change yourself this year. Even if this has been your resolution for the past five years, let this be the year you stick with it.

I wouldn't say that I have made a resolution or goal to change my diet and start exercising. I was a vegetable freak before, trying my best to make sure that Andy and I both ate something green daily and peppering in other colors in as wide a variety as I could get him to eat. Also, I know I have exercised on a regular basis before. That isn't something new to me and I know I feel better when I do it. So I guess I need to resolve to get back on track. Yeah, that sounds right.

So here's to making 2011 our healthiest year. Happy resolving!

UPDATE: I took a walk on Main St. this afternoon & counted all the restaurants. There are 21. Plus one tea bar, one coffee shop and a natural foods market that boasts a deli. So if you count those 24, and not a single one is a chain. Crazy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


After we watched the fireworks on Friday night, we decided it was time to head home, but first I wanted to stop and see the chocolate alpine village. I had read about it on the resort website and thought it might be fun to go check out. A whole village made of chocolate? Who wouldn't love that?

I love baking and candy making and one of my favorite things on television is anything pastry related, so I was really excited to see this thing. Chocolate is something I have only dabbled in and it never ceases to amaze me what people can do with it. I had an image in my head of what the village would be like. I mean, I knew it would be really cool to see little houses and things made of chocolate, but nothing could have prepared me for the awesomeness that it was, or the scale at which it was executed.

Every time I looked I saw something different. I was completely blown away. Awesome is the only way to describe it. The whole time I did my best to act like the 28 yr old that I am, but inside? Inside I was jumping up and down, just like a kid, yelling, "OH MY GOSH! WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT?! HOLY CRAP! THAT'S ALL MADE OF CHOCOLATE!" Every time I looked I saw something different and honestly I could have stood there for several hours taking in all the details.

I can't really describe it all. Luckily we took a lot of pictures and I even shot a little video in order to show you the moving (MECHANICAL!) train and gondola. Also made of chocolate.

"This is so awesome!" That's all I could really say for a few minutes.

Click photos to enlarge. 



Monday, January 3, 2011

A rediculously long post about my hair

It's been a year since I chopped my hair off. 2010 was the year of the pixie and now I've decided to grow it out again.

For a while I toyed with the idea of going even shorter. A la Emma Watson's new doo:

I love, love, love this hair cut. Andy was less than enthusiastic when I asked his opinion, but you know what? It's my hair.

Ultimately, I have decided to put this uber-short style on the back burner. You see, last spring my hair developed a new identity called "getting older" and it has caused me to rethink my hair choices. What started out as three gray hairs on the top of my head has multiplied and spread to other parts of my cranium. I studiously refused to pull out any of my grays, and threatened bodily harm to those who tried, for fear that pulling them out would cause more to appear. Alas, my tolerance of the original squatters did nothing to deter others from joining the party.

What does all this have to do with cutting my hair or growing it out? Well, I'm just not ready to start coloring my hair. I like my natural color and while there are a couple specks of silver in it now, there aren't enough for me to consider covering them up. With a short cut like the one above, though, you can see, including the gray ones. It's a lot easier for a gray hair to get lost in longer hair. If it's short? There's no covering the gray unless you're using color from a bottle.

My decision has been made and my last hair cut was three months ago. Usually, if I were going to keep up my pixie, I would head to the salon about now. Instead I've been having battles with the flat iron every morning trying to work my shaggy mop into something respectable. A couple days ago I knew the battle was over and I was going to have to get a trim. If you've ever grown out a pixie you know it takes regular trims to keep it from looking like you've turned into a character from Fraggle Rock. With my trusted hair dresser 1600 miles away, in North Carolina, and my hair staging a revolt every morning, I had reached a crossroads; deal with the mess until it got a little longer (possibly another three months) or fork over the cash to someone I've never met who could potentially ruin all my hard work.

It would have caused me physical pain to pay $50+ to someone for a trim. And then what happens if they suck and screw up my hair? Generally I don't trust a new stylist with a lot of layers & if my hair has anything right now it's layers, upon layers of hair. On the other hand, it was in no shape to grow for another three months untended. Something had to be done, as I was looking more and more each day like I had a mullet. In truth, my hair is healthy and only needed an inch taken off the bottom in the back. Just to make it look a little more like a bob and less like a grown out pixie cut, which is exactly what it was. I would have just done it myself, but I'm not a contortionist and I can't take my head off or turn it around, so I was at a loss.

In a moment of desperation last night after dinner, I bought some trimming shears and a mirror. Then we came home, I gave Andy a quick tutorial on what to do and I turned him loose. I enlisted the help of our house guests and roommate to make sure it was straight and that he wasn't cutting large chunks out of the back of my head.

After it was all over and I could breathe again, I looked in the mirror and you know, he didn't do a half bad job. It got the extra inch off the back and while it certainly isn't a pro job, it will pass for another three months until my hair has more growth and I feel comfortable letting a stranger cut it.

Have you ever grown out a pixie cut? How did you deal with it & keep yourself sane?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Predictions for 2011

Happy New Year!

Wow, yesterday was a whirlwind day, to say the least. I was going, going, going from sun rise to well past sun set, but it was so much fun and well worth the exhaustion.

Several years ago I read (or heard of) an old wives tale that what you do on New Year's Eve is an indication of what the upcoming year will be like for you. On New Year's Eve 2008 and 2009 Andy and I spent a quiet evening alone in our apartment in North Carolina. We were living in a town we loved and knew well, somewhere we had made a home and community for ourselves. There were any number of people we could have spent time with, but we chose to just be a couple, not a group. It was cozy with our fire going and the curtains flung wide so we could watch the midnight fireworks display from the comfort of our sofa.

I can certainly see some truth in the New Year's Eve superstition. We haven't been alone for the last two years. I don't mean that. We have always been surrounded and bolstered by our family and friends. However, we've been on a journey these last two years in which we were sort of alone. Despite all the support in the world, these years have been a test and trial that we could only tackle together. Each of us experiencing it from a different perspective, but still being the only person to know what the other has experienced. I don't mean to say that our loved ones haven't been there with us, but Andy and I are the only two people who have lived this nightmare, day in and day out, for two years.

I don't mean to be pessimistic. The whole point of this tirade is to say that in the last couple of months we've been able to see a change. There is some hope - a small light at the end of the tunnel, and as the new year grew closer I started to feel more and more peaceful about it's coming and excited about the possibility of a new beginning. I don't expect 2011 to be free of heartache or hardship, but the older you get the more you realize that both of those things are just a part of life. I just have this feeling, deep down inside, that this year is going to be good for us.

So, if New Year's Eve really is an indication, and we spent the last two years surrounded by love, but ultimately alone, then 2011 should truly be a landmark year for the Steele family. Because NYE 2010 couldn't have been more different than the last two years, nor yet any year since we've been married.

All day yesterday was spent with old friends in this new place we call home. I think that will be the tag line for 2011: "Experiencing new things and places with old friends." I like it.

Our friends Robert and Allison came into town on Thursday and they are staying with us until Tuesday. I can't tell you how nice it is to see some familiar faces.

The morning started with fresh brewed coffee & warm cider, from scratch breakfast including spinach quiche and sweet potato hasbrowns. The in between was a blur of activity and I'll have to let the photos do (most) the talking for that. We ended at home, in our pajamas eating leftovers and drinking hot toddies. We watched "When Harry Met Sally" (my favorite NYE movie & a yearly tradition), which ended exactly at 10pm. At which point we said, "Happy New Year, East Coast!" and went to bed because we were all exhausted from the day.

Here are the photos (most of them) from the day. Some are kind of grainy and poor quality due to the fact that it didn't get out of the negative temps yesterday and we were just trying to take the picture as quickly as possible, sometimes shivering.

Micro brews are a big deal here, so on top of the list was to go to some local pubs and try out a couple of the local specialties. 

First was Dillon Dam Brewery, named after the dam, which is huge and if you ever come to visit me I'll take you over the dam road, which I have yet to get a satisfactory photo of. The view and the ride are really something to behold. I guess the beer is alright too...

Next, we dropped Robert and Allison at the Backcountry Brewery in Frisco. Andy and I went home for a little rest before the evening's festivities. 

The resort did a 6:30 fireworks show and a later show around 10. We opted to go to the earlier show to help avoid the crowd and because we didn't really want to stay out too late. 
We parked across the highway and walked through this underground tunnel. The mural was all the way through the tunnel and in the stairwells leading up to the resort.

The fireworks were set off on the lake, which in the winter serves as the ice skating rink. 

There were several ice sculptures around the lake. Andy was making fun of me at this point for taking so many pictures & acting like a kid in a candy store, but this is all new to me. I'm still kind of a tourist and in a way it feels like we're on a really long vacation. So, until it sinks in that I really live here, I plan to enjoy everything around me.

Santa's sleigh made of ice. I wasn't going to sit. Jeans aren't water proof and it was something like -10*. No amount of long underwear was going to make me sit on that block of ice.

These were in front of the sleigh. The trees are carved from ice too, in case you can't tell. 

We tried to warm up around one of the outdoor fire pits,
but eventually gave up and went into one of the shops.

I fell in love with this purple tree.

 We were going to ice skate, but it was kind of expensive. If we'd been willing to spend a couple hours on the lake it would have been worth it, but like I said, it was so, so cold and we just weren't going to fork over the cash to call it quits after 10 minutes. So we just hung out in the shelter next to the lake and watched the fireworks display. 

  Here's a video I took of the fireworks. You can hear the carols playing over the loud speaker. That was a nice touch.

Once we got home we started a fire and just relaxed. It was a really nice way to end the evening.

There is one more thing we did at the resort before coming home to relax, but that deserves a post to itself. I'll get it up soon.

I hope you all have a joyful new year!

P.S. My resolution this year is to just enjoy life and to make the most of what this year has to hold.

P.P.S. The red hat I'm wearing in these pictures was my mom's hat from the 70's. I always get compliments on it and it just goes to show that if you wait long enough, everything comes back in vogue.