Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday #25-August 29, 2009

Melissa, Amy, Terri

Once upon a time, three women set out on a journey to the mountains of Wyoming. Their quest was for peace, quiet, and a little relaxation--which they got--plus a bit of adventure along the way

Our destination was "Z Pines", a few acres of peace and beauty in the Uintas owned by Terri's family. Z Pines has beautiful pine and aspen trees with the comforts of a bunk house and bath house (with flushing toilets). But...before the flushing toilets will work, we had to fill up the holding tank with water. And since there isn't a well at Z Pines yet, we had to drive down the mountain to the water station to fill up buckets of water. And before we could drive down the mountain to get water, we had to change the flat tire on my Rav4, which I got dodging jackrabbits on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere on our drive to Wyoming. And since there was a flat tire and no water and no flushing toilets in the bath house, we utilized the facilities of a good, old fashioned OUT HOUSE

So, here are a few interesting bits to the story about the flat tire. Just a week or so before going to Z Pines, I had a conversation with a friend where we both admitted it's been years since we've had to change a tire on our cars. I should have "knocked on wood" 'cause the little fairies heard me and consequently the opportunity presented itself. Then, as I was loading up the car with all my camping gear, I came across my favorite "work gloves". The gloves I use to protect my hands whenever I do heavy/dirty work. And when I saw the gloves in my car, I literally thought to myself, "Better keep those handy in case I need them--maybe to change a tire or something." I guess I wasn't so shocked when we arrived at Z Pines and I realized I had a very flat, very dead tire! We all were a little worried we'd be able to get the lug nuts off the car. But after a prayer and a little muscle power from Terri (it's a good thing we've been working out at the gym lately!) we were able to get the flat tire off and the replacement tire on.


That was our first adventure! Once we fixed the tire, we got water, got the bath house toilets working, and finally enjoyed our Dutch oven mountain man breakfast. By the time breakfast was over and cleaned up (at noon!) I was ready for a nap. And while I snoozed (for 2 hours thank you very much) Terri and Melissa enjoyed a little R&R too...


Our second adventure started with an afternoon walk down up the road. We happened upon this sign "Open House". Well, it's odd to find a sign like this posted in the Wyoming mountains, so we decided to follow it to see where we ended up.

We followed the signs to a beautiful mountain log cabin (castle!)...a ten year project of the owner, Kristy, as she built a home honoring her family and heritage. Claw foot bath tubs, pistol shaped door handles, cowboy boots, and old style cook top ranges. The house was beautiful and the open house was all about Kristy sharing her home...not "showing" her home.

Okay, so it's not my style (I'm not into Buffalo heads, Indian drums or pine tree stair railings) but, the house was amazing! Obviously a lot of time (and money) has been spent in the details of creating a beautiful and comfortable home. Kristy consulted with a guy who helped her do things to minimize maintenance and no closet doors, no 90 degree corners in the showers, and nightstands mounted to the walls so vacuuming is easier. I'm so glad we followed the open house signs and had a chance to tour Kristy's home. It was beautiful and quite the unexpected treat for my Saturday of Fun in Wyoming.

We hiked back to Z Pines and got started on our third adventure--dinner by the campfire! As an appetizer, we munched on chips and homemade salsa (Terri, I need the recipe!). And for our dinner: corn on the cob, green beans from Terri's garden, and BBQ Dutch oven chicken. For dessert? S'mores of course! After our meal we sat around the campfire and visited. The perfect end to a perfect Saturday o' Fun.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Saturday #24 Bon Appétit

Today was a very important day...take a look at this cute girl! My beautiful niece was baptized today! I don't want to sound like a proud aunt... however, I truly have the most adorable nieces and nephews in the entire world... yep I do. Congratulations Anna!

So after a spiritual, uplifting morning with my family I decided to do something extraordinary. My definition of "extraordinary" is putting on an apron and turning into a domestic goddess. Because being domestic for me is EXTRAORDINARY -especially when it comes to cooking. Oh.. the dreaded word.. "COOKING." I don't think I can actually say it without flaming knives of terror shooting from my eyes. Talk about SCARY! ek,ek,ek. It's my life-long dream to become a gourmet cook, or should I say, a good cook. To go where I've never gone before, to turn on appliances, to beat meat with wooden hammers, to cook with exotic spices while I throw them over my shoulder, to make pie from scratch, to place peach cobbler in my kitchen window for the neighbors to sniff.

Okay, okay... relax. I simply decided to make a delicious looking dessert I found in a Julia Child's cookbook. Yes, I did see the movie "Julie & Julia" the night before.. and yes, I did watch the movie with envy as I gazed at two domestic queens bustling around their kitchens while devouring glorious food. And yes, I did say to myself, "I can be a gourmet chief like Julia within a short time frame (sometimes I overestimate my abilities, then I later cash and burn). However, I truly believed at that moment that I could cook like Julia Child, that I would be the envy of all my domestic idols in the neighborhood. So I thought I'd pick something basic to start with like... Soufflé glacé à l'orange (I can't even say it). It's Deep-frozen orange soufflé.

Doesn't this look mouth-watering? Yum!

Here are the "coordinates" in case you want to make this... all my yourself.

2-1/4 teaspoons granulated gelatin (I recommend orange gelatin)
4-6 tablespoons of water (tap water is okay)
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar, divided (I don't know what "divided" means here)
zest and juice of 2 oranges
3 eggs, separated, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream, chilled.

(I'll post the directions in the comments section)

I began with combining the water & sugar in a saucepan. "Bring to boil until softball stage." The first try my "softball stage" went to "hardball stage" within seconds. I turned to zest my oranges after I turned off the stove and within seconds my sugar water turned into hard, flakey snowflakes. So I cleaned out the pan and tried it again. Next I was told to whisk the egg yolks and orange rind.. then pour my beautiful sugar syrup into the same bowl while I "folded in" the gelatin. "Fold in" what does this mean? I can fold towels, my pj's, pants.. I couldn't figure this out with gelatin. I did my best and later found that the gelatin was fairly chunky in sections, aah.. short, even folds next time? In a different bowl I tried whisking the egg whites "until stiff." I beat those whites by hand with my whisk as fast as possible until my wrist throbbed. However, the whites remained just.. simply whites, nonstiff. So I pulled out my blender and blended them to a stiff stage with pretty peaks. Then folded them into my orange mixture and WHALAA! Orange Soufflé, Jennifer style.

My little dishes don't look as lovely as Julia's, however my soufflé was delicious, very tasty. I'm sure Julia would have given me two thumbs down but I was glad to wrap it up, fold it in, and simply taste it. Today, it was all about taste.

au revoir

Saturday #24-August 22, 2009

My Saturday started really early...12:45 a.m. actually. That is when I picked up Angela and Athena from the airport. They came up to Utah for a quick (but fun filled) visit.

After sleeping in (can you really call it sleeping in when you got less than 8 hours of sleep anyway) we got up and headed to Orem for a little weeding project. Brian came over too and helped edge the lawn. My dad would be so proud...his kids, doing yard work on a Saturday morning.

I gave me camera to Athena (6) with instructions to take pictures of us doing stuff. Here are a few of the shots she took...

...including a self-photo. How can you not love this face?

(As promise, Angela, I did not post the picture Athena took of your back side! I'm such a nice sister.)

We put Athena to work harvesting the strawberries. Here's her bounty...

And earlier in the morning, we harvested some of the bounty from my little backyard garden. I've been waiting for my tomatoes to get red. Apparently I planted the yellow variety. When Athena saw the zucchini, her eyes lit up with thoughts of Zucchini Bread. Our last activity of the night was grating up the zucchini and making bread just for Athena.

But, before the Zucchini Bread and after all the yard work, we rewarded ourselves with a visit to Pirate Island Pizza--a new theme restaurant in Orem. Brian was thrilled to be there, where his true pirate self could run free!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Year-To-Date Review, August 2009

Well, we’re not quite through half a year of Saturdays O’ Fun. But we thought it might be well worth the time to review our blog and the reasons behind it. I went back to the very beginning and looked through all our postings to date. Wow! We’ve sure had fun! And the fun’s not done. We’ve still got so much more to do and see and share with all 6 of you reading our blog! (Oops! 7…I forgot to count my mom!)

We started this blog as a motivator to make the most out of the last day of the week. We wanted to create memories and to do things “out of the ordinary”. At the end of a year, we didn’t want to look back and wonder what we’d done with our time. Not because we are bored and have nothing to do. Oh no! Far from it! In fact, that’s probably the main reason for the 52 fun Saturdays challenge. If we don’t take time for ourselves at least once a week, we’d find ourselves over scheduled with work, our church callings, our extended family commitments, cleaning our house, doing laundry…pretty much the same things which fill up any women’s time.

And while this blog is based on “fun” please don’t equate our activities to “frivolous”. To us, our Saturdays are precious, nigh on sacred, and really the only day we have to do our own thing. We don't want to waste even a single one! So, with all that said, off we go to do more fun things. Surprisingly, we’ve got more activities on the list than we actually have Saturdays left in the year!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday #23-August 15, 2009

HOORAY! Saturday is finally here!

After a long, hard week, it's nice to have fun things to look forward to. Even when you wake up to freezing cold temperatures in your house (okay, only 65 degrees, but still) and SNOW (that's right folks) on the mountain. Did anyone happen to notice the date on this post? Snow in the middle of August. How dare Mother Nature!

Our original Saturday plans included water, friends, and wave runners. But given the forecast, we opted for more weather appropriate activities. Like weeding...

But luckily our friend and neighbor, Samantha, rescued us from our Saturday chore fate and offered another alternative--LUNCH! And not just any lunch mind you. But a gourmet lunch--featuring Tyler Florence's Grilled Cheese Sandwich. YUM! The perfect comfort food on a snowy summer day.

Here's a link in case you want to try your hand at a scrumptious sandwich.

Of course we documented our fabulous lunch for the blog. Here's Jen before at Samantha's beautifully set table. Please note the real pink/red roses.

And here's our chef preparing our meal. Oh yeah, Samantha didn't want to be in the photo. But believe me, she's there slaving away! Notice the yummy salads in the front left of the photo. When I say gourmet, I mean gourmet.

We even had fancy mixed drinks. Don't worry Mom, no alcohol!

Notice our plates are practically licked clean! So, many thanks to Samantha for a fabulous lunch and for doing the dishes (although we offered to help). Cafe Sam gets five stars and two happy faces!

On a slightly different, but related note...
We saw two movies on Friday night: The Time Traveller's Wife and Julie & Julia. Both were great! We also saw 500 Days of Summer on Saturday afternoon. Again another pretty good film. Who wouldn't love 500 days of summer, right? Who wouldn't love 90 days of summer (hint, hint Mother Nature!)?

Anyway, we were inspired by the movie Julie & Julia and a challenge was issued! Watch for an upcoming Saturday blog where we attempt to cook (and eat) a recipe from Julia Child. Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday #22-August 8, 2009

Slept in!
Played with Madeline!
Unpacked boxes!
Played with Madeline!
Played with Madeline!
Unpacked boxes!
Played with Madeline!
Played Scrabble on Facebook!
Decorated Madeline's room!
Played with Madeline!
Hung-up baby clothes!
Baby-sat Madeline while Max & Brityn went on a date!
Played with Madeline!
Gave Madeline a bath!
Started a movie with Madeline!
Put Madeline to sleep!
Ate yummy Avocado Eggrolls from Cheesecake Factory!
Finished the movie with Max & Brityn!
Listened to my iPod (The Story of Edgar Sawtell-excellent)!
Fell asleep!

That was my day and it was great FUN. Surprisingly, I still didn't get my fill of spending time with Madeline, Brityn & Max. I'm sad to leave them. Road trip to Vegas anyone?

P.S. Don't you love the picture of Madeline on the box? She wanted to play with the box more than her toys--typical kid!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Saturday # 21. Too expensive to be able to wrestle an alligator?

I finally signed up to meet with a personal trainer at the gym… well, I signed up for a "free consultation" anyway. "FREE" is one word that always captures my attention. The statements "2 FOR ONE" or "BUY ONE GET ONE FREE" usually snags me in too.

This time I was roped into a 30 min sit-down consultation to discuss my fitness and nutrition goals. If I agreed to this consultation, I would get a "FREE" 30 min weight training session with a personal trainer. "Yep, I'll do it!" I was tired of the strange looks from the PT's as I lifted weights. It was obvious I didn't know how to properly do an ab curl without my neck getting whip-lash, and I was a floor magnet during squat routines. Balance issues! I'm sure the PT's have been eyeing my exercise talents for weeks, just waiting to get their claws on me to throw out their sales pitch.

I sat down for my 30 min chat with a huge muscular guy. He asked me what I wanted to accomplish over the next 6 months.

"Well.." I said, "I'd like to fix up my house and maybe take a few art classes..."

“Ah, I mean what do you want to accomplish in the areas of nutrition and fitness?”


I told him I would eliminate sugar and starchy foods for 6 months. How realistic is that, seriously? Completely eliminating sugar? I would walk a mile for a Pop Tart sometimes.

"I will also drink more water!" I told him.

Turns out what he wanted me to say is something like.. I will run a marathon in 3 months, or I will train for Iron Woman or Tour de France... or I will scale a cliff with my bare feet or wrestle an alligator in the Florida Keys.

"You need to begin with baby steps Jennifer."

We then walked over to a machine where he threw on a 75 pounder. I put my shoulders under the padded cushion and raised the bar for a few reps. Next.. 25 squats around the gym and then a few reps on the ab machine. Finally, he told me to sit down and push abt. 90 lbs forward for a "little shoulder exercise." I couldn’t even budge the bar on my first try. When I finally pushed it ahead 2-3 inches I said, "This is way too heavy for me." I think he was trying to be a macho trainer because he said, "You can do it. I have faith in you. Reach for the gold Jennifer!" Huh? This isn't the Olympics! I then pictured myself trying to push the weight just to please this guy as both of my arms snapped in half.

I tried it one more time... my arms shook violently and I’m sure my face looked like a red balloon ready to pop. I felt my checks completely inflate as I tried to move the bar forward while holding my breath. I then let out a huge grunt and the air blew out of my flapping checks. I did it! One full rep! Now I can qualify for the Olympics! I was totally shaking and sweating as I let the weight back down.

The trainer stared at me with bulging eyes. "I guess he's probably not going to ask me on a date after seeing that," I thought.

“Well.. maybe one rep is enough Jennifer.”

"Ha! I told you." I said. "Remember the 'baby steps' talk?"

Needless to say, I wasn't able to walk normally for 3 days due to the squats and my arm muscles have been twitching on and off. It was actually a good workout, except for the 90 pound push. I’m realizing my body has been in “off mode” for years.

My free session ended with a 10 min talk about costs, etc.. $999 for six months! I'm sure the benefits are worth it but for $999?

The oxygen was slowly starting to come back into my brain... “How much did you say this package is?” I said.

"It's a steal!" He said.

Ahh.. "No thanks, but... thanks for the free workout!"

Maybe I can create my own plan for $9.99?