Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from us and Gromit, the “Happy California Cow”!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Deliciously Vegan Fridays

For years I have been trying to live a healthier lifestyle. I’ve exercised, eaten well, took my vitamins, and have done a number of other interesting things all in the name of “being healthy”. So far, nothing has stuck - at least not for more than a couple of months at a time. I have been looking at other ways to be healthier and for some reason I keep hearing things about being vegan. Everywhere I look I seem to come across more and more things leading back to a vegan diet. Hmmm…

So I decided to really look into what this was all about. Veganism is basically eliminating all animal products from your diet including meat, eggs, milk, cheese or anything else that comes from an animal. The focus is on consuming only things that are plant-based. Some people take it as far as not using any products (clothing, toiletries, household goods) made from animal products. People have different reasons for choosing a vegan diet and/or lifestyle - for dietary, ethical, or environmental reasons. But there is actually some great health-related benefits which come from a vegan diet.

Since a vegan diet consists of only plant-based items, foods have fewer calories, less cholesterol, higher fiber, and less fat. Vegan diets can promote weight loss, increase your energy, reduce body odor (really?), and make you hair and nails stronger. Of course I don’t know if all of that is true, but I don’t see the harm in trying it out.

Dave and I have talked about it and we have decided to try making at least one vegan meal a week. I am not claiming to be a vegan, only to be eating a vegan meal or two each week for the health benefits. I love steak and hamburgers and bacon, I love eggs and cheese and yogurt, and I will continue to eat those things. I guess I could be called a casual vegan. We just think that eating at least one meal a week that is higher in fiber and has less calories and fat is a good thing for us, and that following vegan recipes to achieve this will work for us.

So, I am introducing…

Deliciously Vegan Fridays!

Every Friday I will post a vegan recipe that we tried in the past week and host a link up for others who had a vegan meal (for whatever reason motivates them) to share their recipes. My intent is to 1. hold myself accountable for making a vegan meal each week, 2. to share recipes among other people who choose to follow a vegan diet (however strict or casual and for whatever reason), and 3. for fun!

If you are interested in joining me in preparing a vegan meal a week, or if you are a hard-core vegan, or somewhere in between, check back here on Fridays. I will post a vegan recipe and host a link up for anyone else who wants to share a vegan recipe they have tried. Be sure to include ingredients, directions, credit if you found the recipe online, and your review! And feel free to use the Deliciously Vegan Fridays image above in your post (just copy the image location into your blog or grab the button in the side bar).

Happy cooking!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day trip to Napa Valley

Today we were invited to Napa Valley by the brother of one of Dave’s best friends (it was Eric, Mark’s brother, in case you wanted to know :-)  ). Eric is a member of a few wine clubs out there and so we joined him and some of his friends to pick up his member packages and do some tasting! Isn’t Napa beautiful this time of year?


We visited four wineries and tasted at three of them. We took a tour at one of the wineries and at another winery we were able to see the beginning process of processing grapes. It was fun to be able to see this part of the wine making process… and it was even better to taste the end product.


Some of the wine was so good that we came home with a couple of bottles. Anyone care to come cork them with us?


We are so lucky that we live close to so many different areas with so much to see and do! It was a great day with new friends and we hope to do it again soon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sacred Marriage, Chapter 4

I have linked up with Jenn to do an online study of the book, Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas. Every two weeks we will be posting our thoughts and reactions to a new chapter in the book. This week, Chapter 4.

Chapter four talked abut the need to respect and honor others - and how marriage teaches this to us… or at least presents a million opportunities for us to practice.

“The difficulty with honoring our spouse is that it calls us to adopt attitudes and actions that go far beyond merely saying that we won’t dishonor him or her… Honor isn’t passive, it’s active.”

I think this again calls us to go above and beyond for our spouses. Like Gary pointed out in the last chapter, it is not about us but about sacrificing our needs for our spouse’s. It is not enough just to not do something to annoy them or dishonor them, I think we should try a little harder to do something to show them that we honor and respect them.

“We’re not married in a carefree Garden of Eden. We’re married in the midst of many responsibilities that compete for our energy.”

Working at honoring and respecting our spouses is hard work, but “the real world” can drain us of energy and enthusiasm and sometimes we fail or are just too tired to put in the extra effort - or any effort at all. As spouses we need to remember not to be too hard on ourselves, but also remember that our spouses are human and may not be able to live up to our expectations. Understanding this gives us empathy for each other.

“If we assume that our spouse has the hardest road to travel and that we miss the mark most frequently—and then act accordingly—we’ll find a mix that’s just about right.”

When we try our best to put our spouses needs above our own and we act accordingly, it seems that things seem to work themselves out. I know this is easier said than done, but I think it is doable.

I’m looking forward to chapter five!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Winning runs in the family

Well, we have a winner! Dave placed second in the professional division in the Colorado Balloon Classic photo contest! Hooray Dave! Here’s his winning entry:


If you’re not familiar, Dave and I have a friendly rivalry in this photo contest. Dave went to this event as a kid and placed in the photo contest every year that he entered photos. Every year. I think they even gave him an award for being the person who won the most awards. Ha!

Once we were dating I started going to the event with him. Then we both started entering the photo contest… and the rivalry began! In the four years that we have both entered the photo contest I have won, twice, last year neither of us placed, and this year Dave won. I’m happy he won, and I have to admit that it is a pretty cool photo - but the rivalry will continue next year. Its on!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Making friends

After a month of living here my prayers have been answered - I’ve started to make some friends! Being alone all day in a city where I don’t know anyone has gotten to be a little bit lonely and I was really ready to meet some people. I mean, Gromit is great company and a fantastic snuggler but he doesn’t really contribute much to our conversations. Go figure.

Dave and I have gotten more involved with our church and we have started going to a Young Families class on Sunday mornings. A couple people are our age but many of the group members are a little older and have a few kids each. Last week one of the gals in the  group invited me to a women’s bible study on Thursday mornings by one of the gals in the group.  So yesterday I went. I met some other gals my age while I was there and then I was invited to eat lunch and hang out with them at one of their houses! We spent the afternoon chatting and getting to know each other and I really enjoyed spending time with these women. I was even invited to a young couples bible study (married five years or less) that they are starting on Sunday. Talk about perfect timing! Dave and I are going to go and check it out. I can’t wait to get to know them better!

Then, last night the gals in the young families class had a girls night out event at a local corn maze. I went and got to know some of the other women as we walked through the maze and ate dessert afterwards. It was so fun! It is really starting to feel like we fit in here.



Friday, October 14, 2011


We have now been in California for four weeks! Can you believe it? I can’t! We’ve been settling in and adjusting to our new life here, and I think we’re figuring most things out. Here are a few things that we have had to do or get used to since moving to California:

  • Getting registered - After two visits to the DMV our cars are officially registered in the state of California and I am a licensed California driver! While it was sad to let go of our Colorado plates and licenses at least we look like we fit in here now… sort of. Please ignore the terrible driver’s license picture.


  • Four stops for groceries - Apparently I was spoiled in Colorado by choosing to go to two stores to get my groceries; Walmart and King Soopers (Kroger). Those two stores were reasonably priced and had everything I would ever need for my weekly meals. Now I go to four stores every week to get groceries. I guess I have a choice, but if I chose to go to only one store that has most everything, I would be paying bouku bucks for groceries. Here’s my new route.
    • Stop 1: Walmart. Walmart has pretty low prices on everything, but the nearest Supercenter is 40 miles away so I am stuck with what the regular stores carry for groceries. If I can’t get what I need at Walmart (like meat, dairy, produce and certain variety or brand names of products) then I go to…
    • Stop 2: Trader Joe’s. I love Trader Joe’s but if you are looking for name brand items you won’t find them here. Their prices are great, their produce is wonderful, I love their milk, they have fantastic snack foods, and if you are looking for anything natural or organic this is your store. But the meat department in limited and so are the personal care items so anything on my list that I still can’t find I look for at…
    • Stop 3: Lucky’s. I have never heard of this grocery chain before and I know nothing about it but they have a lot of what I need, at a slightly higher price than I am used to paying. I am not used to paying $6 or more for a pound of sort of lean ground beef. Still, they have a small frozen section, a lot of their own brand name items that I am not familiar with, and no freshly baked french bread - which is so yummy. For anything left on my list that I don’t have by now I end up going to…
    • Stop 4: Safeway. This is by far the most expensive store. For example, ice cream = $6. Velveeta = $8.50. Salad in a bag = $4. It is my last resort for getting what I need and even then I still haven’t found a few things that I’m used to finding like Mexican Velveeta and frozen Pillsbury biscuits.

I still haven’t been into stores like CVS or Nob Hill foods. I’d hate to have to add other stops to my list ;-)

  • Three bins - I’m used to the idea that you throw trash away and recycling or composting was a lifestyle choice. Here it is not really a choice. When we moved in I found three trash cans on the side of the house labeled Recyclables, Organics, and Garbage. Two were huge and one was small. Can you guess which one was the small one? After some Internet research I figured out what exactly goes in each can and that the size of your garbage can affects the price you pay for trash service; the bigger the garbage can the higher the cost. Guess we’ll be recycling and using the organics bin more!


  • The kitchen pail - In an effort for the trash company to make using the organics bin a little easier to use, they have provided us with a small kitchen pail in which to place our food scraps and food soiled paper. It lives under the sink and you are to empty it into the organics bin when it gets full. I found some compostable garbage bags which I use in the pail to keep the smell down. That helps… a little. This is taking some getting used to.


  • CRV - From Wikipedia: “California Refund Value is a fee paid on purchases of certain recyclable beverage containers in California. The consumer pays CRV on the purchase of beverages with aluminum, plastic, glass, and bimetal containers and can be reimbursed if the containers are brought to a recycling center.” So, if you buy a 12-pack of soda you will pay an extra $0.05 per can to take it out of the store. To get your money back, you have to take the empty cans (or bottles or whatever) to a recycling center where they will weigh the items and give you some money back. If you just recycle the items in your big recycling garbage bin that it picked up at your curb, you won’t get any money back. So I have to pay an extra $0.05 per recyclable item that I won’t get back unless I take the extra effort to sort and physically take the items to a recycling center. Lame.
  • Hands free - In California you can’t talk on your cell phone in the car (while driving) without a hands free device. I am not used to this at all so I went out and bought a Bluetooth headset and I am trying to use it all of the time so I get used to the idea of having it in the car. And since I spend a lot of time driving around to grocery stores, it is quite useful. Ha!
  • Nighttime visitors - The other night we were eating dinner and Dave said he thought he heard something outside. We looked outside and saw two raccoons on top of our fence in the backyard! Eek! The flashlight light seemed to scare them away and we haven’t seen them since. Facebook comments told me that raccoons are a bit aggressive and may attack Gromit so from now on we go outside with him at night to go potty before bed. I hope the raccoons don’t come back!

Well, that’s just about all that is going on here. Looks like we’re on our way to being real Californians! I hope you all had a wonderful week.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sacred Marriage, Chapter 3

I have linked up with Jenn to do an online study of the book, Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas. Every two weeks we will be posting our thoughts and reactions to a new chapter in the book. This week, Chapter 3.

I’ll keep with my theme of sharing some quotes the stood out to me and then comment. Sound good? Here we go…

“God doesn’t command us to get married; he offers it to us as an opportunity. Once we enter the marriage relationship, we cannot love God without loving our spouse as well.”

If we can’t love our spouses, how can we uphold Jesus’ calling to love the unlovable and our enemies?

“There are legions of books published every year that teach us how to care for ourselves. As our society becomes increasingly fractured, there is a virtual obsession with looking out for ourselves, standing up for ourselves, and bettering ourselves. This emphasis on meeting our own needs can become ridiculous. You need only consider the book I once saw advertised that was titled, Sex for One: The Joy of Self-Loving. While our society has become expert in self-care, we seemingly have lost the art of caring for others. Sacrifice has taken on such negative connotations that people fear being a “codependent” more than they fear being perceived as selfish. And yet Scripture says in effect, “Make your wife happy. Sacrifice yourself daily. You’ll find your life only when you first lose it.”

I’ve heard people say that “you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else”. That may be true to some degree, but what if when we were feeling down or crappy or in need of “me time” we refocused and did something for our spouse? What if our efforts to take care of them first was reciprocated and they, in turn, did something for us? How awesome would it be if “me time” turned into “we time” and we could do things for each other, together? I admit I am totally guilty of putting myself first far too often, but I think I’ll try harder to purposefully do something for Dave first and then see what happens. Care to join me?

“We need to be called out of ourselves because, in truth, we are incomplete. God made us to find our fulfillment in him—the Totally Other. Marriage shows us that we are not all there is; it calls us to give way to another, but also to find joy, happiness, and even ecstasy in another.”

This just reminds me of the tagline from this book: “What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?” Maybe if we strive to be more Holy and serve God through out marriages we will be more happy. Hmmm…

I am really loving this book! Can’t wait for Chapter 4! Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What I’m Loving Wednesday

Its been a while since I’ve been up to doing What I’m loving Wednesday but I am finally loving enough to have something to share! Be sure to link up with Jamie and let us know what YOU are loving today!

I’m loving our new house! There is plenty of space for us, guests, and room for any future family members ;-)

I’m loving IKEA. We have been there twice since moving here to get all sorts of stuff for our new place. TV stand, bed frame, sheets and comforter, DVD cabinet, bar cabinet and desks have been in our hauls. And I love how relatively inexpensive it all is! And I love how all of the finishes on the furniture match from department to department (like the finish on the TV stand matches the bed frame, if you want it to). Yay IKEA!

I’m loving California and our new town! There’s so many new things to do around here and we are loving exploring the area.

I’m loving Skype. Since I can’t see family and friends in a short car ride I am relying on Skype to keep me up-to-date with what in going on with everyone. Thank goodness for video chat! Moving would have been a lot harder before it.

I’m loving this cute dog who is loving hanging out in his new backyard.


I’m loving my husband who is working hard at his first week at his new (and first) job! I so appreciate all that he has done to finish grad school and get this awesome job that is so good for our family and our future. I love you, Dave!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

First day of work

Dave had his first day of work yesterday! I was compelled to take a picture before he left for the day and I felt like a mom sending her son off to school for the first time. Oh well, its all about the memories, right?


The best part of his new job was that he came home at 5:00 p.m.! That hasn’t happened in, uh, ever I think. I’m used to grad school hours of working from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 or later in the evenings (with no consistent ending time) - six days a week. This new schedule is going to take some getting used to but I’m so excited to be able to spend some more time with Dave in the evenings. If you have a spouse in grad school, hang in there! The end result of your spouse having a great job is worth the horrible schedules now, I promise!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Vineyards and beaches

This weekend, we took some time to explore our new state before Dave starts work Monday morning. We had a great time visiting new places and doing new things all while getting to spend more time together - a luxury that we haven’t had while Dave has been so busy finishing his PhD!

On Saturday we checked out some vineyards and did some wine tasting. It was really interesting to taste new and different styles of wine. I never knew so many different kinds existed! By the end of the day (and after a few too many glasses of wine) we joined a wine club at a vineyard. We will receive two cases of reserved wine a year and get free tastings and other perks all year-round as members of this club; so friends and family come visit soon! We even got to go to a members-only party that day with (more) free wine and food - we even got to pick up our first case of six bottles of reserve wine. I think that will hold us for a while ;-)


On Sunday we went to the beach after church to see what that was all about. We’ve been to the beach in the past with other family members who live in California, but never by ourselves and never with Gromit. I’m not the biggest fan of the beach and don’t like the sand, but I was willing to give it another shot. We packed up a small picnic lunch to take with us and headed out to a beach that Dave found online. We enjoyed our relatively sand free lunch and then took Gromit out to the water to see what he would do. At first he was scared as the waves came towards him and he would jump back and run away as they got close to him. After a while he got more comfortable and was having a blast running along the water edge and playing in the water! When it was time to go he wouldn’t leave - he just sat down in the sand and refused to move. Silly dog! It was a great time, even if I did end up with a sandy dog ;-)



We had a great time exploring parts of our new home state. While we still love and miss Colorado, we are certainly having a great time here in California. Hopefully Dave’s new work schedule will allow us to have some more weekend adventures soon!