Thursday, December 16, 2010

30 for 30

So...I've decided for my 30th year, I need to try 30 new things.  Bring on the suggestions...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Where has the time gone?!  Tomorrow is the first of December already, and it seems like it was just August and I was starting school!  Finals next week, and then a very looooong winter break---although without snow, it doesn't seem very wintry.  Considering we had to turn on the air conditioner yesterday (it was over 80) and then today it was a brisk 47 degrees when I got to school...the heat got turned on.  I feel like a total weenie, especially because Spokane now has almost two feet of snow.  How quickly I have adapted to the warmer climate of the south...

Which brings me to the holiday season.  Unfortunately, I'm not feeling very Christmas-y for several reasons.  First...there's no snow here.  I can't believe I miss snow.  Let me clarify.  I miss the IDEA of snow, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day...maybe New Year's, too.  But...there's something so refreshing about a blanket of snow, a fire in the fireplace, hot coffee, warm pajamas and blankets, and a good book or movie marathon that makes December so much more bearable!  Second...for the first time in a few years, I won't be in Spokane for the cookie decorating.  Yes, I realize I can and will have my own day here in Austin, but it's simply not the same.  Have I griped about it in the past?  Of course, especially when my days off were few and far between.  I'm sure I'll speak with everyone, but it's definitely not going to be the same.  Finally, this is the first holiday I will ever have spent away from my family.  Over the past few years, yes, not everyone has been together, but this is the very first holiday that I won't have celebrated with my parents.  And that makes me sad.  I know I'll get to see them later in January, but looking at the pictures from last Christmas makes me wish I could be at my house on Willowell, cooking in my little kitchen, fire in the fireplace, and celebrating with my mom and dad.

Enough moping around.  I need to think positively because I'm heading BACK to the podiatrist to see if I'm officially released to start running again.  PLEASE.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Not gonna lie....

I love the fall.  And I miss a few things about the Inland Northwest this time of year.  I know, I make it sound like I've been away forever, when it's really only been about five and a half months...but still, there are a few things I miss.  In no particular order, here they are:

-Greenbluff: The pumpkin patches and apple orchards, the smells of kettle corn and yes, even hot dogs on the grill...
-Leaves changing color:  Nothing is better than a cold, dry fall morning with crunchy, multi-colored leaves under foot.  Sigh.
-Cold mornings, with warm afternoons:  So I complained about it when I lived there, but I do miss having a cold, sunny morning only to have it warm up in the afternoon.

September and October were always my favorite part of the year in Spokane, because there truly are four seasons.  Plus, my dad's birthday was Monday and we weren't around to celebrate.  Last year, I was home over that weekend and had the opportunity to cook his birthday dinner for him!  This year, a Skype appointment had to suffice.  But...we're fortunate to be able to host Thanksgiving this year for my parents and brother/sister in law.  Not only that, but my dad will be a pro at baking pies after his birthday gift---a cookbook, pastry mat, rolling pin, and pie plate---so we can bake simultaneously and share the experience (or at least I hope!).

Things that are awesome:

-William lined the fence so Felix and Oscar can't run through and out to the sidewalk!
-Our intermediate training class for the boys is going well, and we can definitely tell a difference.
-Cheese is a great motivator to "control yourself" for the boys. :)
-Pretty much all Scandinavian thrillers.
-Pastry Queen cookbooks...that I've checked out, oh, about 15 times since we've moved here!
-The new kitchen sink faucet William installed last weekend.
-Pumpkin carving this weekend!  Pictures to follow...

And a few pictures...

 Finished product---Splenda Apple-Pear-Cherry Pie, made with no sugar and suitable for people with diabetes...or anyone watching sugar intake.  Baked with Granny Smith apples, and Bosc pears (probably would use D'Anjou next time, as Bosc are better for eating---very juicy, don't stay as firm when cooked).
What's up?

Later, friends and family!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Midterms! School! PIE!

It's official....I'm halfway through my first semester in culinary school.  Surprisingly, this is way tougher than I thought it would be.  In fact, my sanitation and safety class is MUCH more difficult than I thought it would be for a two credit course.  The instructor is the head of the culinary program, and I find myself working a lot harder in this class (especially on the assignments) to prove myself.  Is this surprising to any of y'all?  I didn't think so. :)

I was thinking to myself the other day, on my way to class, "How could I EVER have thought that being a full-time student wasn't the right path?!"  Rather than beat myself up about it, I'm going to fully embrace this opportunity and let myself enjoy (and dread) the process. 

Next semester, here are a few of the courses I'm hoping to take (Chef Hay opened spots for me, which is how you have to register in the CULA program)---

-Fundamentals of Baking (YESSSSSSS!)

-Basic Food Preparation

-Meat Identifying and Processing (where I will be CARVING MEAT!!!!)

-Dining Room Service

-Nutrition for the Food Service Professional

So clearly you can understand why I'm so excited?!  Once we get through the prerequisites, we get to take the fun classes with labs.

Tomorrow, William's sister and niece are coming over and I'm going to bake some cinnamon rolls for Marie's little boy's flag football game Saturday.  I'm also going to bake a pie for the group for tomorrow night, and some friends of ours, Kent and Sabrina, are also owed a pie for Sunday. :)

One of the things I'm so excited I have the time to do now is READ!  I just started Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith.  If you're interested, here's a link to Amazon:

Aaaaaannnnnddd, one more cookbook I am currently coveting:

Obviously, I've loved baking since I was younger, but the movie Stranger Than Fiction, with Will Ferrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal, where she owns the bakery?  That was when I realized, "I want to do that."

Awesome ways to wake up---with your 18 lb dog curled up behind your knees. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Not the greatest news I could've hoped for....

But I'll take a stress fracture over a break any day, I suppose.  William finally made an appointment (well...I say finally, but he made the appointment immediately after I told him I'd been having foot pain for about six weeks) and the verdict yesterday was a stress fracture in my fourth metatarsal on my left well as this fun little condition: running, lunges, squats, presses or plyometrics because with where the fracture is at, I can't be putting additional stress on the weakened bone...

Luckily, I have the ability to train the rest of my muscle groups, and can even train legs as long as I'm not training anything below my knee!  Extensions and curls are going to be plentiful, I'm sure, but I'm excited to try Spinning and swimming.  We have lots of friends at the gym who are triathletes, so I know I have many resources to turn to.  Plus, an added bonus---this means I'll be one step closer to a triathlon!

So...I'll admit, I'm a pessimist by nature.  It's not something I'm proud of, but it IS something I own up to.  I'm going into this with a positive attitude.  My training is going in a different direction, I'm loving my nutrition plan (more fresh veggies!!! less red meat!!!), and I'm going to add some much needed variety into my training regimen! 

Side note---I made up my mind on school versus work and am happy to say my heart is in the right place---Austin, full-time, with my husband, puppies, and as a full-time culinary arts student at ACC-Eastview.

To close, I found this quote this morning....I am tempted to print it out and put it on my mirror!
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
--- Winston Churchill

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Where, o where....

So...I realize it's been a while since I last wrote.  A lot has been going on in my life, and I'm kind of at a crossroads right now. 

I started school in August, and loved it immediately.  I know that it's going to help me pursue my passion to become a pastry chef.  The week before I started classes, however, I received an email about a possible job opportunity in Texas, working for a supplement company.  Not believing that my background and skill set would match what they were looking for, I submitted my resume.  I didn't hear anything for several weeks, and then things started going full-speed ahead.  I had a phone interview on a Friday, flew to Chicago for a face to face the following Thursday, and received a job offer immediately after my interview.  I took the weekend to think about it and decided that it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. 

From there, I flew to the Olympia the last Thursday in September...home on Saturday for Felix and Oscar's graduation from puppy kindergarten on Sunday, and back to Chicago Sunday night for training Monday and Tuesday (which meant I missed Intro to Foods and Sanitation and Safety).  Back Tuesday night, home until Sunday afternoon again, and then flew back to Chicago for another three days of training, which brings me here, to a lovely hotel about 15 minutes from the office.  The time alone has given me ample opportunity to think about what it is I want out of my life, and I'm beginning to realize that there's more to life than money and career advancement.

If anyone out there is reading this....what are your thoughts?  I often feel guilty because one of my biggest goals is to be an amazing wife and pastry chef...but that leaves my husband being the sole income in the home, and I feel terribly about not contributing financially.  This is a conversation we have had often, and I'm fortunate that he puts up with the constant worrying that keeps me up at night, and my tummy churning. 

This feels a little bit "Dear Diary" -ish, if I'm being completely honest.  Is it not lofty enough of a goal to want to go to school and eventually own a business where I supply local restaurants?  I mean, right now I'm not earning anything, but a lot of people I'm going to school with are in the same boat.  Why is it not good enough for me?!  Ugh.  Stomachache, go away.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Playing catch-up!

Holy smokes!  I can't believe it's really been almost a month since I blogged last.  We had an incredibly busy month of August that included a trip to WA for Siobhan and Dave's wedding, as well as the beginning of the school year for me!

Our time with Eric and Jennifer was way too brief, but we're very much looking forward to spending some time with them during the week of Thanksgiving!

I'm going to keep it brief today, because I have a pile of new books I'm excited to dig into....ooohhh, and a snazzy new haircut!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Whole Lotta Bakin' Going On.....

This weekend I decided to try my hand at baking with yeast again.  I think the last yeast-based bread I made was around Christmas time, and we had all the ingredients in the house, so I figured....why not?!

I made a loaf of challah bread from the Joy of Breakfast.  I have to say, it turned out even more beautiful than I thought!!!  It did, however, take several different rises and an all day process to turn out the way it did. :) William toasted some of it and used some raspberry preserves, and then brought it over to his dad's for sandwich the time we left, there wasn't much remaining, so I think it's a pretty good indication it was a hit.

I also baked a maple pecan pie out of the new pie cookbook with some pecans I received, and some Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies for Tristan as payment for house-sitting (paying kids in baked goods is AWESOME!).  Plus, Friday I baked Martha's Ne Plus Ultra cookies.  I finally broke down and bought some beans to use as pie weights for the partially pre-baked crust the pie called for....

I couldn't believe it myself.....I rolled out a perfect :)  This pie crust is a little different than my Grandma's...this one uses half butter and half shortening for its source of fat. to the gym I go!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What's New?

I'm officially a charter member of a new book club here in Austin! :)  It's called "Mystery Books and Interesting People, Too"...our first meeting is August 31st, and I'm thrilled to share my love of literature and mysteries with other people in the area!  I was part of one in the past, but found that rather than discuss the books, it turned into a social event and airing grievances....I loved books too much to continue and ended up leaving!

Currently, I'm reading Remedies ( ) and Girl in Translation ( ) .  I just finished reading Mixed Blood ( ) and I positively LOVED it.  It was really fast paced, and I found myself not wanting to do anything but plow through to the end.  I had to look up a few words, due to the fact that the author is from South Africa and used slang words with which I wasn't familiar.  In any case, it was a great read....a bit graphic, but not without reason.

Cookbooks I'm coveting:

-The Craft of Baking

-The Perfect Finish (written by the executive pastry chef for the White House!!!)


We're going to need another room at the house just for cookbooks!  My collection has already taken over the pantry....

I can't forget this one:

-Sky High

For now, I'll have to settle for checking them out at the library....that's usually how I figure out whether or not I want to own them.  Pictures....the more the better!

Last weekend's culinary experiments:

-Pistachio Lemon Drops       


                                                                                       -Langues des Chats
Both from Martha's Cookie Cookbook....the langues des chats have a great, vanilla scent to them.  They're more of a wafer that's meant to accompany ice cream or something like that.  The pistachio lemon drops looked to have a more chewy texture, as the majority of the cookie is made up of brown sugar and ground pistachios.

I think this next weekend.....these are the recipes I'm considering:
-Pecan Bars
-Oatmeal Bars with Dates and Walnuts (I've never cooked with dates before, so that should be interesting....)
-Raisin Bars
-Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Side note:  Martha's looking a little worse for wear....pages 170-178 have made a break for it.  Maybe it's a sign I should be baking Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies?  White Chocolate Chunk?  Double Chocolate Coconut?  Or the Macadamia Maple Sticky Bars?  (mmmm....those sound yummy! Anything with a description like: "Layers of texture---crumbly shortbread and a chewy toffee-like topping---balance these indulgent nut bars"  sounds like it's alright to me.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Seems like....

A two cookie recipe kind of weekend!  I have just enough of the ingredients to make a batch of Martha's Ne Plus Ultra Cookies this afternoon while I wait for William to head to the gym, and then I'm thinking I may try something a little different, like the Cornmeal Thyme Cookies, or finally...the Pistachio Lemon Drops.  Sounds kind of yummy!

Oh, and I believe I said it before, but I'll say it again.....parchment paper revolutionized my cookie baking.  Seriously. :)

I'm also reading like crazy, trying to read the books I want before I start school....I'm currently reading Father of the Rain, which is decent, but I disagree with the 4.5 star rating on Amazon.  I just finished Still Missing (really really great!) and Sworn to Silence.  I've been on kind of a mystery kick these days....and Alexander McCall Smith has a new series starting.  I never could get into the No.1 Ladies series, but I've enjoyed some of his other books.

Hopefully, we'll get some time out in the sun this weekend!  With sunscreen and hats, of course...and...I'm not a blonde anymore!  I finally took the plunge and went dark and LOVE it!  I keep cutting my hair off shorter and shorter, and I'm thinking eventually it's going to be old school Posh Spice at some point....which makes wearing a chef's hat that much easier!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Beginnings

August is a month of new beginnings for me, most importantly....the beginning of my life as a full-time student, once again!

As most of you know, I'm enrolled in the culinary arts program at Austin Community College-Eastview Campus.  I start classes on Monday, August 23rd...starting with Intro to Foods, a class that includes both a lecture and a lab.  I received my uniforms and knives via UPS yesterday morning, and have to admit I got a little teary-eyed knowing that this is a reality!  In addition to my Intro to Foods class, I'll also be taking a Sanitation and Safety course, Intro to Hospitality, and one other chef course.  Three of my classes will be on campus, so Monday through Wednesday I'll commute to the college, and my hospitality course is distance learning, so I'll be completing all my work at home. 

I'm anxious to get started, as I LOVE studying....and the fact that what I'll be studying----COOKING---is something I'm looking forward to even more!

I've also decided to train for either a half marathon or a full...I haven't decided yet, but I'm thinking at least one of the races I'll do will be in November in San Antonio---the Rock N'Roll Half!  William is going to be competing in a natural bodybuilding event in October, and it will be nice to support him, while being able to enjoy my own training and not have a deadline in mind.  I'm looking forward to getting back to building some more shoulders off season, and enjoying some good food here in Austin!

A few things I've learned over the last few months...

-never underestimate the power of good A/C in a car
-I dislike Las Vegas just as much as I thought I would
-buffets are alright for variety, but the quality is not good!
-it's important to have hobbies, but not to let them control your life
-a good dog-sitter is hard to find....but we found one and a half :) and the half can be paid in chocolate chip cookies
-despite missing family, I've become used to the weather here in Austin (i.e. spoiled by warm summer nights) and would find it difficult to get adjusted to cold nights!
-the DMV is just as horrible in TX (or worse) than anywhere else in the US
-road-tripping is a great experience, but would be even better without a deadline!

Martha Stewart's Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies....mmmmm....more butter, less sugar makes for a cakey texture and fluffier cookie.  You know they're good when your trainer sends you a message that says "I want more cookies!!!" 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Doubt. With a capital D.

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

While Eleanor Roosevelt may have been the first to say this, my dad was certainly the second....and every time I hear or read this quotation, I have to remind myself that I and I alone either give or deny permission to make me feel inferior.  As of late, I feel like I've been giving permission to make me feel inferior.  I'm not quite sure where this self-doubt is coming from, and quite frankly, I don't like it.  I am being a first class weenie about life right now.  

When I think about all the great things I have coming up---culinary school, house decorating, making new friends, discovering Austin---I get excited.  But then that stupid, self-doubting voice whispers in my ear, "What makes you think you're special?  Or that you'll stand out from anyone else at school?  Are you really going to fit in in Austin?"  Ugh.  

Anyway, on to happier things....

I baked my first blueberry pie on Sunday!  I have to say, I was really pleased with how it turned out, and after letting it sit in the refrigerator for a bit, it ended up looking very similar to the photo in the cookbook!

I'm still getting through the Martha Stewart Cookie Book, slowly but surely.  I made Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti last weekend, as well as an Iced Applesauce Oatmeal Cookie...this past weekend, I made Sand Tarts, which reminded me a lot of the cookies I seem to remember having when I was little at my Grandma Bernie's.  It smells like a cross between a snickerdoodle and a sugar cookie, but has the consistency of shortbread.  Whatever it is....they smelled YUMMY!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New meaning to Iron Chef....

After going back and forth on deciding what I want to be when I grow up, I finally decided Monday afternoon on culinary school!!!  I'll be starting at Austin Community College's Eastview Campus on August 23rd!  When I called Texas State to cancel my advising appointment, even the administrative assistant said, "Oh my gosh.  THAT is AWESOME!"  I realize not many people are fortunate enough to pursue their dreams and make a living doing it.  I've been blessed with a husband who supports me in everything I do, and want to do, with my life.  When people find out I'm doing this, obviously they want to know what I plan on doing with an AAS in Culinary Arts.  My hope is to do a few different things---pastry arts, personal chef, and cooking classes.  I've found lots of inspiration in the industry.  I know this isn't going to be easy, but I've never chosen simple things to do with my life. ;)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Brand new me....

Quick post...

After a melt down over a molasses cookie recipe, courtesy of humidity and too little a/c, William and I made our way up to Salon Aqua Blue where our friend, Misha, is a hairdresser.  Having grown up with a hairdresser for a mom, there's pretty much nothing I won't do to with my hair....and after having grown it out to be something that other people wanted me to be, I finally decided to take the plunge and be MYSELF again!!!!  Thank you thank you thank you Misha for your amazing work!!!  New attitude! :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lazy Sunday....

After spending most of the last few weekends living at the gym or on the road, we finally got to enjoy a lazy Sunday yesterday!  William got up and worked out and I finally slept in past was GLORIOUS!  I didn't, however, get around to posting pictures from my culinary adventures two weeks ago, nor did I get around to baking everything I'd intended....but William reminded me, it's not a contest, and I shouldn't put pressure on myself.  It SHOULD be fun, right?  Right.  Even if it's not a competition, I'm competitive with MYSELF.  In any case, we had our reception in Austin Saturday night and had plenty of leftovers, so I restricted the baking to one type of cookie---Peanut Crisps.  Will I make them again?  Probably not.  They got good reviews from my taste tester, but...meh.  I didn't like the way they turned out.  NEXT! I'm thinking....oatmeal raisin and maybe some shortbread!  :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Perfection. Far from it.

I'm a perfectionist.  I freely admit it.  Which is why, after committing myself fully to training for my last show, it hurt so badly to end up where I did.  With a physique that was much improved over last season.  Unfortunately, I put everything else after my training, including 1. my new marriage, and 2. getting settled into my new home.  Can I do it over?  Of course not.  Can I change what I'm doing going forward?  Absolutely.  A few things I learned last weekend...

-Wherever I end up in the placings, judges can't take away the kind of person I am.  I'm a lot of things, and defeated by opinions shouldn't get me down.

-I have the world's most supportive husband, who would do anything and everything to make me happy.  And I, sadly, have yet to return the favor.

-My relationship with my brother and sister in law is vastly improved from a few years ago, and going to Milwaukee and visiting after the show was the highlight of my weekend.

-Eric is dead on at sacrifice flies on the softball field. :)

-When buying a "joint gift," it's better to wait until closer to the one recipient's birthday...ha know who I'm talking to! :)

-Training needs to fit in with life, and not the other way around.

-I'm still the same person, regardless of where I end up.  And I have a lot to offer, things that some people will never have a chance to see, nor care about.

-My team and coach set a new precedent when it comes to support.

-I'll always be my own worst critic.

With that...

If I had permitted my failures, or what seemed to me at the time a lack of success, to discourage me I cannot see any way in which I would ever have made progress. Calvin Coolidge

Here's to making progress.  They can knock me down, but they can't take me out.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”--- Robert Fulghum

Martha/Ryan doesn't have quite the same as Julie/Julia....nevertheless, I'm going to borrow the idea from the author of the book in order to complete my pursuit of cooking every cookie recipe from the Martha Stewart Cookie Book.  With modifications, of course.  I won't be baking cookies every day, nor trying to make it through a cookbook with over 500 recipes in a year's time.  This goal seems a little more reasonable, and like Robert Fulghum'd be a better world if we had cookies and milk, right?  So if you're in the Austin area, and it's the weekend, chances are if you swing by our place, there'll be a few different varieties of cookies available for the taking!

First up, which I've made before (and smell DELICIOUS!) are Chunky Peanut, Chocolate, and Cinnamon Cookies.  I'll post a finished product picture tomorrow...because I'll also be baking the Pistachio Lemon Drops and Peanut Crisps.  Super excited!  I'm also going to try baking a cranberry walnut bread with a yeast mix, which will take a bit longer for the entire process....and mixing in one last leg workout before Chicago!  Also...treating myself with a trip to two different libraries---the best, Bee Cave, and APL, which is currently holding the first two Agatha Christie novels....short and sweet!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Home Again!

There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again. Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

So....Aunt Penny called me out this weekend. :)  She said she happened to notice I hadn't posted much recently!  I suppose, then, that this is dedicated to my little Penelope. ;)

The purpose of my visit was to drive into Wenatchee with my parents to Siobhan's wedding shower, and to see my Aunt Patsy.  Coincidentally, Riley, Ben, and Abby have birthdays near each other, so I was able to celebrate their birthdays on Sunday afternoon!  Friday and Saturday were both jam-packed with activities (or driving) and Sunday was no different!  Luckily, Monday was an opportunity for my parents and I to relax and catch up.  I even got a little cooking and baking in! 

I had an entire early Father's Day menu planned, but my dad decided he was craving spaghetti.....which happens to be one of my favorite things to cook.  Granted, it's a super easy recipe and I add a few extra ingredients, but it leaves the house smelling yummy and tummies full.

I also tried out a new ice cream pie recipe from Taste of Home's summer magazine....Dark Bottomed Ice Cream Pie.  Gingersnap crust, chocolate, chocolate and vanilla ice cream....I heard a lot of "mmm..." from my parents!

Mom and I got to do some of the things we used to do---hang out at River Park Square, run out to Target, stop at Starbucks with Dad on Sunday morning---and the only thing that could have made the trip better was having my husband there to share some of the moments with! fortunate am I to have TWO homes?!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Scaredy Cat

“Fear of failure must never be a reason not to try something."
--- Frederick Smith

Yesterday was the first time in a long time I've had negative thoughts in my head, directed at my ability to complete a task.  I know this may sound a bit silly, but it rattled me!  As I was sitting at the dining room table, figuring out how to put together a sewing project, that little voice in my head said, "Wow.  That's brave of you to do for your first project in a long time....without any help.  Maybe you should have picked something a little....simpler?  One that you won't quit?  Or maybe you'll just quit that project like you've quit the others?"  See...I'm not a quitter.  Or at least....the things that are most important to me, I refuse to quit at.  I've stayed in relationships past their date of expiration just because I didn't want to quit.  I've stayed up til the wee hours of the morning trying to get papers done, or projects, or baking, and ended up getting run down and sick because of it.  More recently, I've allowed myself to stop reading a book if it hasn't captivated my attention within an hour or so, but even that has been a struggle for me lately....I look at at the reviews and think to myself:  "If everyone else enjoys it, why am I having a hard time?!"

My attention span these days is very short.  I tend to start and not complete tasks when I get closer to a competition, not because I don't want to complete them, but because I simply don't have the energy to do it, or I start in on something else.

I know that there are so many things that I've accomplished and that I haven't why am I focusing my energy on the things that I have a difficult time with????

I've been baking up a storm, lately.  Sunday included peanut butter cookies, made with whole wheat flour and honey.  Root beer bundt cake.  Cranberry pecan bread.  Monday was bran-blueberry muffins, and this morning, I baked two loaves of banana walnut bread.  Our house smells AMAZING!

On a positive note, I'm traveling to Spokane for the first time since we moved.  I make it sound like I haven't been there in months!  In reality, it'll have been about 5 weeks?  Hee hee.  Time flies when you're dieting and living at the gym!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Really. Great. People.

"Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Mark Twain

I'll make this brief tonight, as I'm running on fumes....and 3 oz of flank steak with 6 asparagus spears. :)

Thanks to the really great people in my know who you are, and if you don't, I'm going to do a better job letting you know.

I love you all!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


"The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend."  ~Henry David Thoreau

When did friendship have conditions placed upon it?  It's silly to me that because of who one may or may not associate with, or one's social status or upbringing...a picture album on Facebook, or whether or not someone is no longer the "fun single one" in the group should put conditions on a friendship.  This seems a little....juvenile to me.  There are friendships I've given up on, and friendships I could have put more effort into....but the way I see it, true friends can pick up after years, right where they left off.

Given that the majority of my practical work experience is in sales, I'm all too familiar with the acronym WIIFM---What's In It For Me?  Unfortunately, there are people in our lives who seem to subscribe to this theory on a daily basis.  I know that I had a blog entry about this last week, but it seems like these "friends" are popping up a little more frequently.  I'm thinking that this book may be added to my "Must Read" list:

I know that there are friends with whom I need to do a better job, and I'm going to challenge myself to become a better friend and not a WIIFM type of friend, either!  I challenge you to do the same.

"A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be." ~Douglas Pagels

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Little Miss Martha....

My new motto is: When you're through changing, you're through.   
 ---Martha Stewart

One of the things that I'm most passionate about is baking.  I'm not sure how or when or why this started, but one of my favorite ways to show someone I care is by baking.  Maybe it was the yearly Christmas tradition of baking cookies---Grandma's Sugar Cookies, and the chocolate crinkles---that took up the better part of two days during the holiday season.  Or right around Thanksgiving, when Aunt Penny, Mom, Stefani, and I would bake Grandma's Apple Pies.  One of the lessons I remember hearing from my mom while I was experimenting with baking as I grew up was, "A good cook always cleans up as they go."  Has this always been the case?  I wish!  But when you're busy dirtying every pot, pan, and measuring utensil in the drawer, it's nearly impossible!

I think the very first cookbook I remember having is the Mrs. Field's Cookie Book.  For my mom's 40th birthday, I baked a German Chocolate cake and a carrot cake....both from the cookbook.  I even remember that I didn't have parchment paper for the bottom of the pans, and turned the carrot cake upside down to get it out of the pan while it was still warm....amateur mistake!  I found myself having to perform a little cosmetic surgery on the cake with the homemade cream cheese frosting...luckily, no one knew the difference!

I've made silly baking mistakes, such as forgetting ingredients until the last minute, or using the wrong size pan.  The one thing that never changes, though, is that every time I bake something, I bake it because I care enough to find a recipe that I'm confident someone will love. Will it turn out the way I want it to all the time?  Probably not.  But that's the beauty of baking.  You try a different recipe.  Throw it away.  And start from scratch.  

In the last two years, I've become very fond of baking pies.  My favorite book from the library is Pie, Pie, Pie:

You'd think I'd own it by now, but alas....not the case.  I'll have to track down a copy sooner or later.  :)  During the summer of 2008, when the only thing I knew with certainty was that my life was in shambles, I baked my way through that cookbook.  Inspired by the movie, Waitress, I chose a recipe and just started baking.

I'd never, until this past Sunday, baked my Grandma's Apple Pie on my own.  Sure, I've baked apple pies before, but never this special, family recipe.  Here's a picture of my first effort:

I must say, I was pretty pleased!  I used one of my cookie cutters from my Christmas cookie cutter assortment, and VOILA!  I also tried a recipe for Peanutty Candy Bars that I found in an old Taste of Home magazine....

I suppose this probably isn't fair unless y'all have the recipe?

If I shared it, though, how would I surprise you?!

William sent out a text to a bunch of his guy friends, offering my baking in the next few weeks, I'll be baking banana nut bread, bran muffins, peanut butter cookies, cranberry nut bread, oatmeal raisin cookies....and probably a few pies here and there. It'll keep my mind off of the food I want (which is basically anything that's not currently on my diet) and the house smelling like something other than fish, steak, or chicken!

So...I'll leave you with this:

I can think all I want, but it's not going to bake me a cake, or make me the universe. All I can do is get up and live.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Contagious yours worth catching?

I came across this quote tonight:

Misery is a communicable disease.  ~Martha Graham

I remember when I was younger, my dad always used to tell me that my bad moods were contagious.  It wasn't just my day I'd be ruining, but everyone else's day.  Do I still have days where I'm crabby and downright unpleasant to be around?  Of course.  Will I try harder to not let it have an effect on others around me?  Absolutely...because I found this quote as well:

Happiness is an attitude.  We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong.  The amount of work is the same.  ~Francesca Reigler

I'd rather not look back at my life when I'm older and see that I made myself miserable, but rather happy and strong...and can only hope that I've left each person whose life I've touched better because I chose happiness instead of misery.


Monday, May 17, 2010


"True happiness consists not in the multitude of friends, but in their worth and choice."
- Samuel Johnston

I've always been the type of person who would rather have a few close friends than a lot of casual acquaintances, and at this point in my life, I realize this statement to be even truer.  The friends who know me best are the people with whom I can pick up where we left off, even if it's been months or years.  At our wedding in April, an old family friend flew to the west coast on Friday and left on Sunday....just to be at the wedding....and it was like no time had gone by.  We talked about old memories and created new ones.  Jennifer taught Brandi how to dance, and we had specifically requested an En Vogue song that Mom, Jacquie, and I rocked out to on Whitehouse Drive.  Why, then, does it seem convenient and easy for some friends (and friendships) to so quickly place blame and not take ownership for their part in a friendship deteriorating?  The last time I checked, both people have to be commited to the relationship to make it work.

I'm not quite sure how I want to respond to an email I received from someone with whom I used to be close.  Are there things I could have done differently? Of course.  But I also know that I'm not the only one who could have done things differently, and that's the part I find most bothersome.

Anyway...enough venting for now.

On to happier subjects....the most awesome library I've ever been to:  Bee Cave Public Library.  Seriously.  Their selection of new materials is the best I've seen, and it's a small library in an incredible shopping center!  I can't wait to spend more time there.  William and I both started cards there on Saturday afternoon and spent the better part of an hour or so just hanging out and I was finally able to find a few more books to enjoy!  Speaking of which, I just finished Chris Cleave's Little Bee and it was one of the better books I've read in a while, but the end....argh.  Seriously?  Here's the link to Amazon: 

Prior to that I read Colum McCann's Let The Great World Spin which was a decent read, if a little confusing at times when I was trying to figure out which narrator was narrating!  The link to McCann's book: 

I think I'm going to give this one a try next:

My Aunt Patsy got me started on a Scandinavian thriller kick last summer....I OD'ed a bit at the beginning, so I had to lay off for a bit.  When I walked into the Bee Cave library, though, on the end cap....THERE THEY WERE!  So...going to give it another shot!

And also this one:

My new rule, for myself and books, is that if it doesn't capture my attention in 40 minutes, it's going back.  Life's too short to read books that bore us, right?!

And...William's reading the first in "The Girl" trilogy...

Imagine how excited I was to find that Hollywood is going to be doing a remake of the movie that was originally done in Europe????  SO EXCITED!!!  Check out the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly and you can see a few of the actresses who are being considered.

And hairdresser on Wednesday!  Excited and nervous.  Kind of considering this hairstyle:

I'm so over long hair. :)


Friday, May 7, 2010

Training....kicking. My. BUTT.

One thing you need to know about me, I don't quit, until something tears or pops.
---Dwight Schrute

What a great episode of The Office last night! of it, at least...especially at the gym.  And the Morse Code between Jim and Pam was also brilliant. :)

What Dwight said, sort of how I've always felt about competition.  I seem to remember when i was younger hearing my dad say, "If it's not near your heart, you're fine" and also, "Rub some dirt on it."  I don't regret for one second being as fierce a competitor as I was raised to become.  This has translated to all parts of my life, and I feel it's served me well.  I think I've earned the respect of managers and teammates in being both fiercely loyal and a hard-core competitor.

A competitor will find a way to win. Competitors take bad breaks and use them to drive themselves just that much harder. Quitters take bad breaks and use them as reasons to give up. It's all a matter of pride. Nancy Lopez

And just as Nancy Lopez said, it's all a matter of pride.  I don't quit...whether it's a photo competition, training for a show, a relationship....I. DON'T. QUIT.  Sometimes, I probably should have, but I have to believe that I have always learned something about myself in the process.

I need to remember Nancy Lopez's words next week as I head out to Orlando to train with Jason and Catherine.  This experience will help me grow as a competitor, both physically and mentally.  I have literally trained my ass off this off-season.  There were times at the beginning after my surgery where I found myself asking William, "Is this worth it?"  I think that the time off helped my body, but set my mind back.  I'm now officially in the zone, and can't wait to make my teammates and coaches proud as I step on the stage this summer.  I can honestly say when I leave the gym that I have absolutely poured my heart and soul into every single workout. 

So...thanks, Dad, for teaching me that I can get out there and play even if I've gotten knocked back down...and to Mom, for making sure to not let me go to sleep if I've gotten a head injury.  "I just need to check your eyes again...."

I love you guys!  Thanks to everyone who's reading!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Do work, son....

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. Jim Rohn

So....this morning I FINALLY got all of my clothing unpacked.  I know.  I've been in Austin since Sunday and had my clothing still in suitcases!  No wonder I felt a little....out of sorts.  Kind of like I was on vacation, or working.  We made a much needed trip to Target last night and I picked up a few things to organize my closet.

What's standing in the way of my accomplishments?  Definitely figuring out what I need to do and sticking to the plan.  I do it with my training, so why would it be any different with anything else?  While they're not daunting tasks, I do have a bunch of little things that need to get done....

  • trip to the DMV for my Texas license
  • trip to the library for a library card (YES....this is VERY important!)
  • unpacking the garage
  • THANK YOU CARDS (yes...I haven't forgotten)
  • trip to the bridal store
  • laundry
  • cleaning the house
  • cooking food for the week
I know.  These are small insignificant tasks.  I live here now.  I have NOTHING that is urgent, with the exception of getting a driver's license (here).

Okay.  This was more of a venting than anything else.  And ....I'm signing off to actually accomplish these things I'm griping about. ;)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Quotes, quotes and MORE quotes!

I love this quote that I came across this morning:

The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.  
~Ayn Rand

What it means to me....I don't look at it in such a way as "Ohhh...look at me!", but rather to remind myself that sometimes, the only person standing in my way is ME!  I have historically had a tendency to sabotage my happiness with negative thinking, and just in the past year have I tried to change this!  

I started 2010 with a list of goals, and I am confident that I'm doing everything I can to achieve those goals.  Some of them aren't goals that are ....finite.  I know I'm a work in progress!  I can't be the BEST wife or the BEST figure competitor or the BEST student RIGHT THIS SECOND!  (Which....if you're reading this, you know I lack patience, but will never lack perseverance, dedication, or loyalty!)  I know that success at all of these will be determined over time.  Wedding vows aren't taken just for the day.  I can't finely tune my physique in one workout.  And each class I take toward a degree in nutrition is going to be just that....ONE class.  One hour at a time.

Instead of solely focusing on "The Long Run" (can't wait to see the ink, Dad!)...I'm going to figure out what it is that I can do, day by day, in order to achieve these goals that I set for myself in 2010...and for the rest of my life!

I'm confident that with the support of my family, friends, and God's guidance I'll be everything (and more) that I've set out to become.

Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
--Galatians 6:9

Have a blessed day!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Is this gonna be forever????

So...maybe I borrowed this line from what is, quite possibly, my favorite YouTube video of all time...David after the dentist.  Is it cruel?  Totally.  Would my parents have done it when I was his age?  Knowing my dad?  Probably.'s funny.  And I'm reminded of that when I look at a picture my mom took of me after having FOUR teeth pulled.  Love ya, Mom. ;)

Looking around me in our new (to me, anyway) home, I'm surrounded by boxes and chaos.  Little by little, I'm trying to unpack and find myself getting overwhelmed.  I'm a little on the ADD side of cleaning.  I'll get bursts of energy and start cleaning and putting something away, and then find myself getting distracted by something else...only to come back to the cleaning later, discovering that I only got half finished what I started!

I had great intentions to blog on the road, but two late nights (after 10pm Friday night and 2am Saturday night) left me little time to log on and collect my thoughts.

I find myself wondering when it's going to feel real!  I was speaking with William earlier this morning about where to put some of my craft supplies, and he said, "This is OUR home."  You know what?  IT TOTALLY IS!!!!  I'm so excited, I can barely stand it.  Was it difficult to say good-bye to my mom and dad on Friday morning?  Absolutely.  But you know what?  We now have Facebook, Skype, email, snail mail, texting, cell many ways to communicate that it seems like we'll be in better contact than we were before.  The only difference is that I'm not going to be able to just tell my mom to drop by to pick me up on her way out to the valley so we can shop at Target, or set up a puppy play-date with my dad and Frank and Mookie.  Does that part make me sad?  Completely.  I think, though, that some of my relationships will be stronger as a result of me being here.

So....I guess I'd better get back to what I was doing in the guest bathroom putting things away....or was I in the kitchen? :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

BBQs, good-byes, and lots of photos...

When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.  ~Joyce Brothers

I found this one, too, that I really like:

You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.  ~Desmond Tutu

God has gifted me with an amazing family.  How else can you explain ongoing traditions, like Christmas cookie- baking parties every December....with chocolate crinkles, Grandma Bernie's sugar cookies and frosting, chili and cinnamon rolls, mimosas, and most of all, great company?  Or summer BBQs....that started before I can remember, way back when Eric and I were the youngest, and watching Geoff, Chris, Stefani....all of Uncle Joel's kids...Aunt Beth's kids...playing badminton, or volleyball in the backyard?  More recently, a time when Uncle Joel and Aunt Laura have made the drive from Gillette, WY to Spokane to spend some time catching up.  Thanksgiving.  Christmas Eve traditions, which have changed a little from what they used to be---but haven't lost the meaning or importance of family getting together and enjoying the company, some cold cut sandwiches, and most importantly...sugar cookies?

Last night, Aunt Penny and Uncle Bill hosted a going-away BBQ for William and I...even nicer, since neither one of us can eat right now, but EVERYONE was able to be there.  As usual, I came armed with my camera and took plenty of photos...enough to drain the battery (but that's not surprising, as the camera is dying a slow death...and will be replaced very shortly!).

 I know how much I'm going to miss being only a short drive from my aunt's house.  Or being able to drive up the hill to watch a soccer game, or a karate graduation.  But the truth is...I think I could have done a better job at all of it.  And my hope is that my relationships with my family will be strengthened as a result of me being away.  I want to get to know my cousins better....and what they have going on in their lives.  I want to hear about Miranda's prom, and see how Adam excels at athletics.  I want to see more drawings and stories that Matthew creates, hear about how school is going for Andrew,and hear about Molly talking up a storm...I can't wait to hear from Abby about her ballroom dancing, and softball, and how running is going.  I'm excited to see more pictures of the handsome young men that Max and Ben are becoming.

I think one of the most difficult things for me right now is that just when I've really started to get to know Madison and Riley better....I'm packing up and moving.  Madison is one of the most beautiful, caring, thoughtful....just simply amazing individuals I know.  Not to mention the fact that she owned William on the dance floor at our wedding reception....I have no doubt that Madison is going to grow up to become whatever it is she wants to be.  And Riley....where to begin?  Our connection is a little different, as I started taking care of Riley when he was about 7 weeks old.  Taking care of Riley was the first time I discovered the capacity of love for another human being.  I'm not a parent yet, so I don't "technically" know what the Mama Bear instinct is...but being his nanny gave me an idea of how much love I can have in my heart for someone.  Plus, we had a lot of dance parties (which showed on April 10) and trips to library story-time...I hope that he always knows how much I love him, and if I haven't done a good enough job of showing the kids what they mean to me, I will spend the rest of my life trying.  Strangely of the first things I thought about when we decided to move is....but what about the kids?  

I'm tearful, now, as I finish writing this entry.  I'm sitting in a dining room full of chaos, in a house where I realized, for the first time, that I could do anything I set my mind to....including becoming a homeowner, surviving losing a job, discovering the love of my life was there all along, and that I could be....amazing.

To my friends and family who are reading this....I love each and every one of you for whatever support you've provided me over the years and I can't wait to see what this next chapter of my life brings us.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nerves? Check.

Anxiety is the space between the "now" and the "then." Richard Abell 

I found this quote this morning.  Another rough night of sleep, teeth clenched, waking up with eyes puffy and swollen. The list of things to do today includes:

  • meet my parents at the bank to switch my name to theirs on the long Element!
  • change my name on my bank account
  • sit at the DMV to get a new license
  • pack up the kitchen
  • donate the loveseat and desk that got me through some very difficult times
Started the morning with updates and 40 minutes of stairmill with William.  Now THAT'S love. :)  Getting your butt outta bed early to do cardio on an empty stomach?  Followed by a full day of work AND packing?  I love you, Mr. Behr. :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Anxious.... we are.  Tuesday, April 27.  My last Tuesday in Spokane...and I know I need to be packing right now, but I hardly know where to start.  I mean, I know it's not like we're never going to be back here.  I shouldn't be stressing about this, right?  It's just....material things.  And if there are a few things the last two years have taught me, it's that when all is said and done, it's the people and the memories that matter.  Some of my favorite people will actually be in the same time zone!  Eric and Jennifer....I miss you guys.  A lot.  So don't be surprised if I'm calling or emailing you a lot because I'm homesick...mmmkay?  Cause I know you've been there.....right?

Why, then, am I so anxious?  This is the first time in 29 years that I've lived, permanently, somewhere other than Spokane, WA.  I feel like I'm in the first grade.....all over again.  I worry about the same things I worried about when I was six, and I can't help but wonder where this is coming from! I going to make new friends?  Will people like me?  What if I get lost?  Where's the nearest library? What about my parents?  And my friends?  And the rest of my family?

I know that some of these anxieties I have seem silly.  I know it. doesn't change the fact that they exist.  They're real.  And I hate them.  I wish they'd disappear.  I wish I could focus on the fact that I have a new and exciting adventure waiting for me in Austin.  I get to go back to school in August!  I get to discover a brand new place!  I get to compete again, soon, and then...I get to enjoy amazing and tasty food!  Like...take a moment to peruse this style.  Oh, yes.

Or maybe you want something for breakfast instead?  This place is on my list, too!

I wish I could say that I haven't studied the menu yet, but I've decided the first time I'm going to have two full stacks of gingerbread with blueberries, and one buttermilk with chocolate chips.  Maybe a bowl of oatmeal, too, and a portobello mushroom omelette (no red onion, no jack cheese, add shredded smoked turkey).

Don't even get me started on this place.....oh. My. GOODNESS!!!

I'm going to need to hit the Walmart for some special "Eating Pants"....or....maybe just a muumuu. :) YUMMY!!!!

Okay.  Now that I've worked some of this out online....and am enjoying, er...eating 4 oz of baked tilapia, I'm motivated to start packing again.  After all, I can't get a Hut's buffalo Dagburger in Spokane, WA, can I?!

Monday, April 26, 2010


Anyone who knows me well knows how much I LOVE to read.  With the amount of stuff going on in our lives right now, which includes and is not limited to:

  • training for my first figure competition of 2010
  • moving from Spokane, WA to Austin, TX which is about a 30+ hour drive
  • moving locations WITH two puppies
  • figuring out how much we can pack into a 5 x 8 UHaul
  • selling the car to the parents
  • deciding what to take with, what to donate, and what to leave behind
So....I suppose it makes sense that I'm having a really difficult time deciding what to read.  Plus....I have to leave my libraries behind. :(  Fear not, as I've already scouted out the libraries and which book clubs I'm going to try to join.  Phew!  Crisis averted....which doesn't explain what I'm going to do for 30 hours, but thanks to Eric and Jennifer, I have two seasons of "Friday Night Lights" to start. 


And....I've started this one.  We'll see....

The Behr Necessities Welcome....

So.....for those of you who don't know, William and I are moving down to Austin, TX! Very exciting, nerve-wracking, and a little chaotic all rolled into one. Plus...I've never lived anywhere but Spokane, long-term, and am a little anxious about everything.

I'm hoping that we can share our adventures---on the road, our new life, competitions, newlywed stuff---on here and keep in contact with friends and family. It'll give me a chance to pursue one of my passions---writing---and venting (not that that's a passion....)

Anyway, welcome, and thanks for joining us! I'll try to blog from the road....starting Friday, we're heading out!