Friday, May 27, 2011

Sprouts have emerged!

I haven't given much of an update since planting the garden, so I thought you might like to know how thing are growing going.

So far I have officially only killed one plant, and that's because I bought a jalapeno plant at the farmer's market on Saturday and didn't plant it until Tuesday. Oops! I guess they don't grow well while lying on the kitchen counter in a plastic bag.

You may remember from the previous 'planting plan' post, but here's what I planted:
- sweet corn
- broccoli
- cauliflower
- green beans
- snap peas
- carrots
- green onions
- yellow onions
- tomatoes
- peppers
- herbs
- watermelon
- cantalope
- pumpkins
- cucumbers

Sounds a little bit ridiculous, but I assure you, it all fit very nicely and there is well-defined space between each row! It's actually looking pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

Some of the things (carrots, green onions) haven't done much but sprout, but I'm still holding out hope.

Here are a few pictures of my progress so far. Excuse the pictures if they're terribly composed, but I'm working on my skills.


Can't wait to eat the goods!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cupcake Stand

For a few weeks now, I've been (unsuccessfully) looking everywhere for the perfect cupcake stand. I'm not a huge fan of those wire ones they sell at Target and Hobby Lobby, and I don't think the plastic ones are very classy. I just haven't found one I love. So I did what I do every time I can't find what I'm looking for  -- I looked online. Still, not much to be found.. especially not in my price range. Then it occurred to me. Maybe I could just make one. I'm crafty, right? Sort of.

I finally found one that was appeased me and was pretty simple at Annie's Eats. If you haven't already, check out her blog. She's one amazing woman.

I picked up the things that I'd need, and I got to work. (Yes, at 8:30 this morning. Over a cup of coffee, sitting next to Molly as she blogged about her engagement. What a wonderful world!) Here's a run-down of what ensued:

Hot glue gun
Two 8-inch cardboard rounds
Two 10-inch cardboard rounds
Two 12-inch cardboard rounds
Two cans from your pantry (of something that's been there for a substantial amount of time)
Sheet of cardstock

Once your glue gun is pre-heated, take each pair of cardboard rounds and glue them ugly-side-together with their partner (the 8-inchers together, the 10-inchers together, and the 12-inchers together) so that you have three more sturdy circles of cardboard, white on both sides. Or gold if you splurged and got the fancy cardboard rounds.

Hot glue the ribbon around the circumference of each cardboard round. You don't have to glue all the way around, just every couple of inches so the ribbon stays in place and doesn't droop. If you have more transparent ribbon, you might need to go around the circumference twice.

Next measure your cans and cut the cardstock so it will go around each can to cover the label. My cans were 4 3/8 inches tall, so I essentially cut my cardstock in half lengthwise. Wrap the paper around the can then hot-glue it in place. (Sorry Mom, not eating those green beans!)

If you're using your cupcake stand soon, you could glue the cans & rounds together to make your tiers, but if you're transporting it you can leave them separate and put them together once you're at your destination.

And voila! Here's my finished product. You can obviously use any ribbon you want, but I thought this would be pretty versatile. And I think I might put another stand underneath the whole thing so the bottom tier sits up off the table a little.

And since this cupcake stand will initially be used at a friend's baby shower, here are the cute new-baby-boy cupcake papers I found. It's a lot of polka dots, I know, so I might have to revamp things a little. But for now.. So Super Adorable!

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm a Triathlete!

After 20 long weeks of training, the triathlon is finally complete!

The Omaha Women's Triathlon took place yesterday at the brand-spankin-new Lawrence Youngman Lake in West O.

Kate was the one who got me into this mess... it was her idea from the beginning to challenge ourselves and do this triathlon. It wasn't ever something that was on my bucket list, but it is now a write-in that has been crossed off. Thank you for pushing me, Katers.

Here is my journey....

Kate and I arrived at the lake at 6:15am to get all our things into the transition area, get set up, and get rid of the nerves before starting the race. We got our uber-huge Sharpie markings on our arms and legs (By the way, why is it necessary to graffiti us with SO MANY numbers? I had 5 numbers on my 4 extremeties). We got our time chips, and got our transition goods all set out. And then we spent an hour and a half freezing. People started putting on their wetsuits -- using PAM to get it on (yes, cooking spray. NO JOKE!!), and there were Kate and I in our minimal swimming gear. I guess maybe we should have realized that 60 degrees really was going to be chilly. The lake was freezing cold. Talk about a shock to the system. It was even colder than the practice swim two weeks ago. (I didn't know the tri was going to include a polar bear plunge.)

But regardless -- off we went. The swim. People were grabbing, swatting, pushing, kicking... it was vicious out there. I even got jacked in the side with a kayak paddle at one point. I think I swallowed enough water to hydrate me for the whole race.

22 minutes and 31 seconds later, I emerged from the water. The volunteers were helping people get their wetsuits unzipped while getting out of the water and into the transition area, but when I got out he looked at me like 'Ok... Interesting... Great Job!' and instead helped me to not fall on my face on the algae-covered cement of the boat ramp. Thanks dude! Into Transition #1 I went....

I attempted to dry off my feet and my dripping wet hair, put on my tank top with race number, my shoes and bike helmet, and took my bicycle off the bike rack. My muscles were still in shock from the 60 degree water, but no time to waste. Let the adventure continue!

Onto the bike route I went. It began with an uphill and (nearly) ended with an uphill. Killer. Especially with no low gears. 56 minutes and 20 km (12.5 miles) later, my legs felt like Jell-o. (With added Knox gelatin for extra rigidity to hold up the rest of my body.) However, no stopping now! Only three miles to go!

Back onto the rack my bike went, off came the helmet, and running I went. Again, it started with an uphill. My legs were wondering what on earth I was doing to them. So badly I wanted to walk. But I told myself I wouldn't. I did the cool-kid yog (that slow jog that doesn't get you going any faster than a power-walk) and pushed up the hill. In agony. Only.Three.Miles. However, in training and in past 5K's, 10K's, and a half marathon, I have never NOT used an iPod to pass the time and diminish the mental struggle. But I had dropped it during the bike, so I had to resort to singing songs to myself. Not an enjoyable thing outside of the shower. I gave out a lot of "You got this, girl!"s and received a lot in return, and that's what kept me going. On my way up the very last hill, I wanted nothing more than to walk. Well, except for magically transporting myself to the finish line. But since technology hasn't gotten there yet, again I powered up the hill. All the way up I was thinking of Kayla, my 33-week pregnant friend who always does these stupid miserable races with me. Way to go and get pregnant Kayla. I needed you on that last hill. And I didn't want all those people at the top of the hill to see me walking. My cousin Suzy and her hubby Jason had been at the top of that hill earlier, and I wasn't going to walk in front of them! I had made it almost 3 miles without walking, and I wasn't going to do it now.

A few minutes later, I was finally approaching the finish line. I could hear the finish line music, so I didn't have to sing to myself anymore. Hallelujah! I looked at my watch, and I had been biking/running for 1 hour and 28 minutes, so I picked up my pace. I didn't know how long my swim had been, but I had to finish the rest of it before my watch hit 1:30. It's amazing what adrenaline can do for you. People cheering you on (for a minute, my name was 'Number 33' and I was ok with it), loud music, and the finish line in the distance. And a downhill finish. Genius, the man who planned that. Genius, I tell you.

I saw the clock time, which read 1:59:47... and I sprinted (as much of a sprint as these short chunky legs can do). Let me tell you folks, that was not a pretty sight. Check out the picture. And be glad it wasn't a full-body shot. Thanks, Photographer Mike. But I made it! My official chip time was 1:55:37. Under 2 hours. Not quite my original goal, but my time nonetheless. Mine. An accomplishment no one can ever take away from me, and something that most people can't say they've done.

It took 20 weeks, many hours on the treadmill, many instances of nappy chlorine hair, many sore bicycle butts, and Finally -- I'm a Triathlete!

After Kate finished, I attacked her with a "WE DID IT!!!" embrace. She doesn't look like she enjoyed it so much, but I'm telling you, she did.


And I didn't even need water wings!

Special huge thanks to everyone who came out and supported me --
Mike, Kayla, Brett, Suzy, Jason, and Diana.
You all ROCK!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

German Chocolate Cake

With my growing list of “I want to make this!” recipes, I asked Mike what kind of dessert he’d like. He’s probably growing to hate this question. He isn’t really all that interested in sweets; he would prefer Round 2 of dinner over dessert most days, so I was really impressed when he actually suggested something. (He has way more will power than I have.) German Chocolate Cake. Hmm, ok, I’ll try that. So I found a recipe here. There were many to choose from when I searched, but this picture looked the best.   


And the recipe called for cocoa, melted chocolate, and coffee. Sounded great to me!

 So here it is...

The finished product!

I made a 6-inch cake, so of course there was batter left. Cupcakes for tea time at work!

I've never been to Germany,
 but if this is any indication of what to expect...
I think I could go there!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Garden Progress

After days of the strong winds and persistent rain that accompany spring thunderstorms, I was worried for my garden. How much rain can one garden take? So I went to check it out. It doesn’t appear to be flooded, but let’s hope the seeds underneath think the same. Here’s the progress:

The tomato plants are growing.

The pepper plants are looking strong.

There are even sprouts popping up! 

                      Some flowers Bea had planted years ago are still thriving.

Some asparagus survived the tilling process, and apparently this is what happens if you let asparagus grow… an asparagus tree!

Some tulips I planted in a pot several weeks ago. I wasn’t sure if the bulbs survived the winter on my balcony, but it looks like they’re going to grow!

My problem now?
I don’t know what’s a weed and what’s a seed!
I don’t know which ones to pull!


After 19 weeks of (fairly consistent) training, I felt quite prepared for this triathlon. Until yesterday.
USAT, the organization that sponsors triathlons, held a practice swim last evening at the lake where the triathlon will be taking place in a mere nine days. I was nervously excited going into this, and becoming more nervous on the ride out there. But Kate had enough excitement for both of us.
As we were walking down to the lake, we were literally the only two people not wearing wetsuits. USAT had offered wetsuit rentals for those who wanted to pay an extra $50 and look *cool*. Kate and I, the cheap-o’s that we are, decided against this. However, with a 64* water temperature, we were definitely second guessing that decision.
But we powered on. We put on our swim caps and goggles, sported our swimming gear, and headed for the water. The serious, time-qualifying triathloners were the first to get in. Kate and I hung back so we wouldn’t get run over swam over.
We started with the look-where-you’re-going, head-out-of-the-water crawl stroke, which by the way I have never been good at. And then I panicked. I started hyperventilating, and I couldn’t catch my breath. In my freaking-out state, I swallowed a substantial amount of gross, green, fishy lake water. This was clearly NOT what I had been training for. I was used to a pool of clear water, with no wake, a black line to see where I’m going, a side to push off of with my feet, and the security of a floor that I could stand on if I absolutely had to. Now, I had none of this. What had I gotten myself into? I have never, in my 25 years of life, felt so over my head.
I was definitely overwhelmed. I wanted my 24 Hour Fitness pool back. Or a floatie. Maybe waterwings? Perhaps just a shallow lake. But I had none of those things. I had a half-mile of water in front of me, and no way to turn back.
But Kate, the amazing, supportive, encouraging friend that she is, kept me going. She got me past the first two buoys until I knew I could do it on my own. I finished the majority of the swim doing the backstroke (not cool, I know). But it was working for me, so I continued with that. After finishing, catching my breath, and analyzing my problems, Kate and I went back out for more. Kate helped me figure out what would work for me, and by the end I felt much more comfortable in the murky water. I felt like I could do the whole swim again with my new plan of attack. But the fishing boats and the USAT man were ready for Kate and I to get our buns out of the lake.
I guess this is why they have practice swims. And why I have great friends. I literally could not have finished the swim yesterday on my own. And without Kate, I would not be looking forward to race day. So to Kate… Thank you. Gracias. Danke. Merci. You are an amazing woman.
Here's the lake. That orange buoy was about 1/4 of the way through the swim. You can't even see the two yellow ones they're so far away! Ha.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Easter Dinner

This year I didn't have a good chunk of time off work around Easter, so I didn't get to go home. Both my Mikes were staying in Omaha too, so I decided I'd make a yummy Easter dinner to enjoy. I never really paid much attention when my mom was making Easter dinner in years past, so I just kinda went with it. I figured a ham, cheesy potatoes, and green bean casserole couldn't disappoint. Here's a quick recap (don't judge the foil pans.. I don't have many casserole dishes in my cupboard):

Sprial-cut Honey Ham
The only way to go. Purchased Sunday morning after church because Saturday night they didn't have the right thing. Tip: procrastinating really does pay off. They had lots of new hams out Sunday morning... but this was the last spiral-cut honey ham! Just wrap in foil and bake for 2 hours. Couldn't get much easier!

Cheesy Potatoes
 I wasn't sure how my aunt used to make them, but this recipe was super simple, so I didn't figure I could mess it up. Stir together hashbrowns, cheddar cheese, crem of chicken soup, and sour cream. Then bake. Fool proof!


Green Bean Casserole
This was always one of my favorites, but my mom didn't make it very often. I used French's classic recipe and just added some extra green beans (extra veggies never hurt anyone!). This one was Mike and Mike's favorite!

After stuffing our bellies, we went for a bike ride to try out the triathlon route. Hills. Bricks. Hills. Definitely worked up an appetite for round two!

Not bad for my first attempt at Easter Dinner!