July 26, 2010

30-Before-30: Dr. Pepper Picnic

Because they're fun, I wanted to have a picnic for one of my 30 things - but when I made the connection that it's not going to get cool outside again until after my birthday has passed, a Dr. Pepper picnic was the next best thing.

While visiting my sister in Waco we stopped by our family-favorite, the Dr. Pepper Museum, for a fresh soda-fountain creation. We even enjoyed our tasty drinks at a picnic table on the patio to make it official.

29 down, 1! to go...

July 24, 2010

29/52 Photowalks: Rangers



A win at the Ballpark in Arlington.

July 21, 2010

30-Before-30: Expand our Art Collection

Starting on our honeymoon in Santa Fe, we've collected small art pieces as souvenirs of all the places we visit or live.  As one of my 30 things, I wanted to buy one piece of unique art to add to our home and ended up with several new special pieces.

A hand-painted image of the Dallas skyline by Marianne Gargour purchased from the artist at Taste Addison:

A fine art photograph of aspens in the fall from the Illustrated Light Gallery in Fort Collins, Colorado:

And, a wonderful gift from my mom and dad - four new book-inspired art prints by Matt Hinrichs of LitKids to display at work:


I can't wait to see the book art in the library, there's only a month until school starts so it won't be too long until it all comes together.

28 down, 2 to go...

30-Before-30: Pimento Cheese

After several tries, I just couldn't give up TV for a week for one of my 30 things. It was just more fun to make a tasty new dish instead. Guess I should have tried giving up TV on a week I was busy, it's too tempting when I'm home on summer break. :)

I had never thought of pimento cheese as something you could make at home until my friend Ruth mentioned it.  It's super easy and something I'll definitely make again - I didn't even know Matt liked pimento cheese, but it turns out he likes it even more than I do!


"Healthier" Homemade Pimento Cheese
Adapted from Macaroni and Cheesecake's Party Pimento Spread.

Ingredients

2 cups shredded 2% sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded 2% medium cheddar cheese
4 ounce jar diced pimentos, undrained
3/4 cup light mayonnaise

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir, adding more mayo if desired.

Refrigerate until cold, storing in an airtight container.

Enjoy!
 
27 down, 3 to go...

July 16, 2010

Mountain Vacation 2010

For our big trip this summer we got smart and headed north - where the temperatures are cooler and we don't have to worry about sunburns 24/7.  

We enjoyed almost all 3,156 miles of the trip; Colorado and Wyoming are amazing states full of everything we like: scenic views, cute towns, tasty food, and lots of green.  If you haven't been, make your way to Wyoming ASAP.  PS - everything in the park books a year in advance!

The itinerary is below and more pictures are here.
Day 1 - Monday, July 5th
  • Drove from DFW to Colorado Springs, after only planning to make it to Amarillo!
  • After originally planning to leave Tuesday, we took it easy Monday, packed, and left at lunch to get a head start on the trip - somewhere along the way Matt got the driving bug and 11 hours later it was bed time in Colorado Springs.
Day 2 - Tuesday, July 6th - Colorado
  • Left Colorado Springs after breakfast and headed to Fort Collins, Colorado
  • First stop of the vacation - a tasting at the neat New Belgium Brewery, complete with fat-tire decor and hippy families everywhere
  • Toured Old Town Fort Collins, the cute downtown complete with food, shops, and galleries, and bought our first art piece of the trip - a matted photograph of Aspens yellow in the fall
  • Made our way to Wyoming and stopped for the night in Rawlins, a tiny town off the highway somehow filled with tons of hotels and almost nothing else
Day 3 - Wednesday, July 7th - Dubois
  • Drove from Rawlins to our cabin southeast of the Tetons - a fabulous scenic drive with views of rollings hills, mountains, and green fields
  • Stopped at Independence Rock and hiked to the top (with a few busloads of Mormon tourists traveling the route of the Mormon Trail to Utah and dressed in prairie clothes)
  • Stopped for lunch in Riverton and made a big grocery run, including supplies for Matt's famous chili as our main cabin food
  • Arrived in Dubois and made ourselves at home at our cute little Tie Hack Cabin right on Horse Creek, a historic spot once used by Scandinavian woodsmen who worked in the area cutting railroad ties, a common job in this area during the railroad boom in America
  • Walked around downtown Dubious, a neat little town at the edge of the Shoshone National Forest with just the right amount of touristy-ness
  • Visited the local hilltop scenic overlook and found out the Prius is pretty good at gravel roads and mountain driving
Day 4 - Thursday, July 8th - Tetons
  • Drove from Dubious to Jackson Hole - a two-hour tour on a scenic byway that was absolutely breathtaking, stopped at several scenic viewpoints and saw bison by the road on the way
  • Explored the square in Jackson (which was way too touristy) complete with restaurants, shopping, galleries, and way too many t-shirt shops, and enjoyed a tasty brunch at The Bunnery
  • Enjoyed more scenic driving as we made our way through the Teton Village ski resort and arrived at Grand Teton National Park - and promptly saw a moose calf eating bushes just a few feet from the road
  • Hiked the Taggart Lake trail and were rewarded with a stunning view of the mountains above the pristine lake
  • Made our way back to the Tie Hack Cabin and relaxed after a long day with chili and ice cream
Day 5 - Friday, July 9th - Dubious
  • Relaxed and rested up at the cute cabin
  • Hiked the pretty Glacier Mountain Trail in the nearby Shoshone National Forest and enjoyed scenic views until we got overrun by mosquitoes
  • Explored Dubois and had a great dinner on the patio at Piya, a neat pizza shop downtown
Day 6 - Saturday, July 10th - Yellowstone
  • Woke up early and drove from Dubois to the park, a scenic hour and half drive that went through mountains and parts of Grand Teton National Park
  • Made it to Yellowstone and stopped first at the West Thumb Geyser Basin and walked the boardwalk on the shores of the lake (my favorite stop)
  • Joined at least 1,000 other people at the crowded but cool Old Faithful, watched it erupt and explored the area, had a quick lunch at the Geyser Grill
  • Drove the park road north and stopped along the way at more geyser basins, Mammoth Hot Springs (and ice cream break!), Historic Fort Yellowstone (encountered a West Texas-style dust storm here), Petrified Tree, and more and ran into a little rain too
  • Stopped to rest for the night at our Roughrider Cabin in the Roosevelt area of the park, just a few miles from Montana.  Relaxed on the cool porch and had dinner at the Roosevelt Lodge - along with a big school group of high schoolers and teachers from England and German tourists
Day 7 - Sunday, July 11th - Yellowstone
  • Left the cabin early and drove southbound through the park with stops scenic at Tower Falls (complete with a bus full of Japanese tourists), the Mud Volcano area, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (Matt's favorite) and Lake Yellowstone along the way
  • Spent the rest of the day driving the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway from one side of Wyoming to the other, stopping only for dinner in Cheyenne before heading on into Colorado and stopping late for the night in Fort Collins
    Day 8 - Monday, July 12th - Manitou Springs
    • Drove from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs 
    • Took flowers to Matt's Grandma Dottie's grave in Colorado Springs and enjoyed a pizza lunch at Giuseppe's in the depot area - one of the places Matt enjoyed most when visiting family in Colorado as a kid
    • Explored the nearby Garden of the Gods and downtown Manitou Springs - complete with cute shops, live music, lemonade and funnel cake, and an arcade
    • Had a late dinner on the patio at the Red Mountain Bar & Grill, a neat restaurant in The Cliff House at Pike's Peak, the fancy historical hotel where we stayed in Manitou
    Day 9 - Tuesday, July 13th
    • Enjoyed a gourmet breakfast at The Cliff House then jumped in the car for a long day of driving back to DFW
    Wyoming Wildlife Spotted...
    Pronghorn Antelope
    Chipmunks
    Deer
    Ground squirrels
    Moose calf
    Bison herds
    Countless rabbits and birds

    July 15, 2010

    30-Before-30: Take a Hike

    Hiking always brings back good memories of time in Girl Scouts as kid so it was an easy choice to add as one of my 30 things. On our mountain vacation in Wyoming last week we got to take several wonderful hikes, all over the top compared to Texas trails.
    My new favorite hikes:

    Taggart Lake Trail at Grand Teton National Park (3.2 miles) : an easy walk through an alpine forest with beautiful views of the snow-covered Tetons ending at a small pristine lake tucked in the hills
    Glacier Mountain Trail in the Shoshone National Forest (2 miles) : a vertical trail through pretty red rocks and trees with fabulous views of rolling hills and mountains - plus we had to drive 7 miles on gravel through the Fitzpatrick Wilderness to get to the trailhead, which ended up being an adventure in itself.
    Tower Falls Trail in Yellowstone National Park (1.2 miles) : a steep but easy walk through thick trees and down a valley along the Yellowstone River
    26 down, 4 to go...

    30-Before-30: Give to Someone New

    I give to several charities regularly, but wanted to donate $100 someplace new for one of my 30 things. Even after searching Charity Navigator, with so many great causes out there I had a hard time picking just one. The right fit ended up being close to home and I gave to a local family going through a lot.

    Though I don't know her directly, Katherine Parker often consults at the school where I recently worked. On March 26th of this year, she and her husband welcomed their first baby, Maxwell Allen, 16 weeks early at 1 pound 8 ounces. Baby Maxwell has been in the NICU for 100+ days now and has grown to over 7 pounds. I've been following his progress on their blog and I can't even begin to imagine what they all must be dealing with daily. Keep growing Maxwell!

    25 down, 5 to go...

    July 14, 2010

    28/52 Photowalks: West Thumb



    Fishing Cone Geyser in the West Thumb Basin on Lake Yellowstone.

    27/52 Photowalks: Big Sky Country



    One of the many favorites from our recent mountain vacation, a view from the highway while driving through Wyoming.

    July 5, 2010

    Food for the 4th

    Since the best perk of not living in a real city is the availability of fun fireworks, we've been the go-to party location for celebrating the 4th of July since we moved to Crossroads in 2006.



    This year Matt made burgers and I made several new recipes for sides as we celebrated with a few friends.  Plus - since I cook healthy foods 90% of the time this was a good chance for me to make a few things I've had my eye on that I don't usually eat.

    If you want something new for your next BBQ, try one of these tasty recipes ASAP...
    Barbecued Beans
    Black Bean Salsa
    Cheesy Corn
    Chocolate Crinkles
    & Lemon Burst Cookies
    Marinated Tomatoes
    Pineapple Rose Sangria



    July 2, 2010

    30-Before-30: Exercise 7 Days in a Row

    Inspired by my many hard-core fitness friends, as one of my 30 things I hit the gym 7 days in a row back in June. I actually ended up getting 8 daily workouts in without a break, of course they were mostly yoga or pilates so I wouldn't get too sore to go the next day. This was a nice challenge, I think I might even try it again soon.

    24 down, 6 to go...