Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Don't Post-Christmas Shop

I really like this article on MSNBC today...we will have to be careful now that we bought an HVAC unit for the house! (Not that it was a small splurge of luxury.)

The gift giving season has come to an end and you might be thinking it’s time to permit yourself one little luxury — a small purchase, not anything that would break the bank. It might be an exotic end table, some designer shoes, or perhaps a fancy throw pillow.

Bad idea, scientists say. Just as a tiny bite of chocolate cake can dash a dieter’s will-power, the purchase of one special item can spark a shopping spree, a new study shows.

In a revealing series of experiments researchers discovered that the acquisition of one high end item can spur us to spend lots more if the original purchase turns out to be a lot nicer than our other possessions, according to the report published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

“When we buy something with unique design elements and it doesn’t fit in, it frustrates us, says the study’s senior author, Henrik Hagtvedt, a professor at Boston College. “This is because the design has intrinsic value. Rather than returning the item, we actively seek ways to make the item fit, often by making complementary purchases.”

So, has Hagtvedt found the shopping equivalent to the “gateway” drug, where a pair of designer shoes leads to a complete wardrobe makeover or a bite of cake leads us to consume the whole thing?

Kind of, says psychologist April Benson, author of “To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop.”

“It’s even worse than taking a bite of cake,” Benson says. “Once the cake is consumed, you’re not looking at it anymore. With a purchase, you keep seeing it.”

That doesn’t mean we can’t ever buy anything special, Benson says. We just have to be aware of the menace of mismatches.

And, before buying, we need to know whether we can enjoy our one nice piece of furniture or whether we’ll get frustrated because it makes the whole room look shabby in comparison.

“You have to know what you’re getting into,” Benson cautions.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas in Sioux Falls

Yay! We had a GREAT time in Sioux Falls...Christmas at the Hartman's, a little time with the Kienow's and Steineke's, baby Madeline's dedication...and SNOW!

Photos will be coming soon. As soon as Jeff comes home that is :). He stayed in SF to help the Hartman's purchase a new car and hopefully will be home on Thursday. Problem is, he has the camera with all my fun photos.

So you are just going to have to wait!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Look what Santa brought!!!

I must have been very good all year. Plus, our new basement locale at work has no coffee maker, and rumor has it our 4th floor digs will not either...

THANKS SANTA!!! See you next year :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

White Christmas

We made it to South Dakota! After a few false starts yesterday, Jeff and I both ended up in Omaha (within a few hours of each other), rented a car one-way, and drove to Sioux Falls.

After a fun Papa Murphy's pizza dinner with Jeff's folks and aunt, and his sister's family (including 2 boys and the baby), we hung out the rest of the night.

Now today, I am sitting in my PJ's (hey it's 10:30!), watching giant snowflakes come down outside. It's beautiful - and will be a VERY White Christmas.

It's great to be home!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ireland, I'm Coming Home 2

Blogger won't let me put so many photos in one post so here is the rest of our trip!

We stopped for lunch at a pub in Hollywood - totally authentic. Moms yelling at their kids, a couple was fun!

After lunch, we continued driving towards Kilkenny. Here we stopped to see this castle...but it was already closed (hence sad face). Good thing the Christmas market was in full swing. We shopped into the evening instead.

Our final stop for Day 2 was in Waterford, our overnight city. Many restaurants were closed since it was Sunday, but we found this amazing Italian place...super cute, authentic, delicious! After some wine and beer, things got pretty funny. For instance, my mom crying out, "Randy, your calzone is HUGE!" as they brought out our food. We all got the giggles pretty good about that one!

Nightcap at a pub on the way back to the hotel. I saw the bottom of 2 Guinnesses.

Monday morning brought a trip to Waterford Crystal. If you didn't know they basically hand blow and cut everything with artisans on site. Amazing!

Of course I bought a little something...

We came back to Kilkenny to tour the castle. It was open! And probably my mother's favorite was renovated to be decorated as a Victorian household. Cool!

A hustled drive back to the city, with a quick stop at Avoca (handmade shopping store from the mills of Wicklow), and we made it in time for the last tour of Jameson. Dad's hand shot up so fast to sample all of the different whiskeys. He picked Jack Daniels...uck. Our new family drink just may be Jameson and Ginger Ale.

By Monday night, we were pretty tired, but back in Dublin - and HAD to see an authentic Irish band and some Riverdancers...

Close enough to get kicked!!! We had such a great time - thanks Mom and Dad!

Happy Potluck

It's 8AM and I am ready for our holiday potluck at work today!

The midwestern transplants are keeping it real with crock pot central. We'll take care of the hotdishes, salads, and dessert. All others need only bring chips, plates, and pop. (That's right, Pop. Not Coke.).

Happy almost Christmas!!!

UPDATE: here's the lasagna recipe.

Crock Pot Lasagna
1 lb ground beef or turkey
2 Tbsp dried onions
1 tsp garlic powder
1 or 2 jars spaghetti sauce (for the big crock pot I used 1 jar of the Bertoli’s Tomato and Basil and one jar of Spicy Tomato and Basil)
1 small can mushrooms (optional – I didn’t use)

16 oz box uncooked lasagna noodles (normal noodles, not the no-cook variety)
12 or 16 oz cottage cheese (I used skim, small curd)
16 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup fresh parmesan cheese (I buy the bags)

Brown the hamburger, onion and garlic. Add jar(s) of sauce and warm.
Spoon a layer of the meat sauce into the bottom of the crock pot.
Add a double layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (break to fit).
Layer in the cottage cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan on top of the noodles.
Repeat with sauce, noodles, and cheese until everything’s gone – or the crock pot is ¾ full.
Add in ½ to ¾ cup water over the top for good measure and to keep from drying out.

Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours (that’s what I did today), or low 4 to 5 hours.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas baking

Every year Jeff and I make "Grandma Hartman's Spritz Cookies" and "Peanut Butter Blossoms".

Raise your hand if you know what both of those items are, ok? Because if you were in Georgia, you'd be in the minority.

We went to 3 different grocery stores, asking about Brach's chocolate blossom candies...none to be had. Further investigation led to the bakery ladies' lack of knowledge of 'peanut butter blossoms'...even when described in detail of their deliciousness.

FINALLY - after a major meltdown at Kroger, we last-chanced it at another Publix. I tentatively walked up to the bakery and asked (with tears in my eyes)...and she knew what I was talking about. FURTHERMORE, they had bulk candy in stock!!! I cleaned out the old chocolate (it was a little white) but I didn't care. SUCCESS!

The prep of our labor:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ireland, I'm coming home 1

Yay! Photos from our trip to Dublin and surrounding areas...

Our first venture out after a morning of flying - we arrived to Dublin around 7am, napped, then ventured out through St. Stephen's Green to find lunch somewhere.

Yay! Shopping in Grafton Street - totally decked out for Christmas and one of the busiest foot traffic streets in Europe.

We took a hop on / hop off bus tour throughout the city and saw St. Patrick's Cathedral. Then...Guinness. This is me at the rooftop bar, waiting for my drink.

Ahhh...pretty good start to our first evening out in Dublin. We had a great view before the fog rolled in and the sun set.
Trotting around Temple Bar, pub hopping. We stopped for dinner at Quay's Restaurant, with authentic Irish cuisine...I had a lamb stew, Dad had Guinness stew, Jeff with fish and chips, Mom with smoked salmon. I swear, Mom had smoked salmon every meal in some form (even on the plane ride home).

The next morning, our driver picked us up bright and early for a drive along the coast, heading south.
Somehow, Jeff got put in the back during this first leg. We saw Powerscourt Estates, but did not get out since it was snow-covered. Our first stop was in Glendalough, an ancient monastery Jeff crawled out of the back the van, sweaty and pale. No barfing though!

Walking through the icy, quiet, and magical graveyard at Glendalough.

Dad holding up some ancient ruins

Friday, December 17, 2010


Just in time for Christmas...

Red Velvet Cake Truffles
1 box red velvet cake mix (bake as directed on box for 9 X 13 cake)
1 batch cream cheese frosting
1 package white chocolate bark
Green or Red sprinkles
wax paper

Cream cheese frosting:
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
2. Mix crumbled cake thoroughly with batch of cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50. You can get even more if you use a mini ice cream scooper.)
4. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)
5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package. Note, only melt a few pieces of chocolate bark at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It’s easier to work with when it’s hot.
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)
7. Sprinkle with green or red sprinkles.


1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
1/2 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
6 ounces caramel ice cream topping
3 (1.4 ounce) bars chocolate covered toffee, chopped
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Bake cake according to package directions for a 9x13 inch pan; cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Poke holes across the top of the cake.

In a saucepan over low heat, combine sweetened condensed milk and caramel topping, stirring until smooth and blended. Slowly pour the warm topping mixture over the top of the warm cake, letting it sink into the holes; then sprinkle the crushed chocolate toffee bars liberally across the entire cake while still warm.

Let cake cool completely, then top with whipped topping. Decorate the top of the cake with some more chocolate toffee bar chunks and swirls of caramel topping. Refrigerate and serve right from the pan.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jessica's Favorite Things

Sorry for the lack of posting, internets! BUT - we had a WONDERFUL vacation beginning last Friday until Tuesday in....IRELAND!!!

And I promised my dad I wouldn't post anything until we got back. This resulted from a previous Facebook post in which I mentioned the parents and us were looking for recommendations for our Ireland trip. Which apparently got the word back to my Mom and Dad's friends that they were getting ready to go vacationing...and they hadn't told anyone yet. OOPS. Anywho, we're back! Look for photos tomorrow.

In the meantime, did anyone see Barney's Favorite Things on "How I Met Your Mother" on Monday? I LOVED the spoof on Oprah (because I love all things Oprah), and it gave me the idea to choose 5 of MY favorite things this Christmas.

1. Smartwool Socks. What??? Where did these come from and how did I miss the train? They are warm but don't let your feet get sweaty. Amazing! But at $17 a pair a little pricey - try to find them on sale.

2. Coco Mademoiselle perfume gift set. YUMMY. Other acceptable items are Lancome's Hypnose, or other bergamot / spicy scents.

3. Costume Jewelry. Big. Bold. Borderline Gaudy. MINE!

4. A year's supply of Jameson and Ginger Ale. Hey, I am still in vacation mode :)

5. Sour Cream Cutout Cookies. These are my favorite all-time Christmas cookie - but with this recipe only! And if I can eat, like maybe 100, and don't have to make them...that is my favorite present, I think!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Disconnected politicos from people

This is totally worth reposting from one of my favorite blogs...what do you all think? Should the government fund programs like those from the Great Depression?

The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent today, and one well-respected economist said we can expect it to go to 10 percent soon.

So, what are lawmakers doing to boost job growth in this country? Not much.

The Democrats are pushing an extension of unemployment benefits as a way to fix the problem, and Republicans seized the report as a chance to fight, yet again, for an extension of tax breaks for the wealthy as the answer to the dismal job market.

Michigan Democratic Representative Sander Levin said in a statement that: “Today’s news underscores the moral and economic obligation facing Congress right now to extend unemployment benefits for those struggling to find their next job opportunity in this slowly recovering economy.”

And House Republican Leader John Boehner urged Democrats to stop “wasting time with meaningless votes” and avert all tax hikes, according to Fox News.

I’m all for extending jobless benefits because the unemployed need all the help they can get. But that’s not the way to significantly grow jobs in this country. And while tax breaks are a good thing in a booming economy, there’s little compelling evidence that letting rich people keep more of their money will mean jobs for the average working stiff.

Neither side seems to be standing up for the workers in this country. Have they ever stood on an unemployment line? They just don’t get it.

At times like these I always check in with former Labor Secretary under Clinton Robert Reich who seems to have his head on straight.

In his blog today he said:
"Only 5 percent of those with college degrees are now unemployed, while more than 20 percent of everyone else is without work.

Maybe that’s why Washington doesn’t get it. The Washington echo chamber is filled with college degrees.

The Big Money economy on Wall Street and in corporate suites doesn’t get it, either. They’re doing marvelously well because they’re tied to rapidly-growing markets in China, India, and Brazil.

But the Average Worker economy on Main Street continues to wallow."

His answer:

"Not only do we need extended unemployment benefits. We need a new WPA, modeled after the WPA of the Great Depression, to put jobless Americans to work. We need a national infrastructure bank to rebuild our crumbling highways and water and sewer systems, thereby putting additional people back to work.

We needed it in the Great Depression but few think such a move is necessary now."

I was having dinner with some friend recently and we all talked about how we didn’t know anyone close to us that was jobless and struggling. That from a room full of college graduates who don’t rely on manufacturing, construction, or retail for our paychecks, at least not directly.

But indeed, people are struggling. Thanks to what I do, I was able to inform my friends that millions of people are going to bed worried about what tomorrow will bring.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A very Potter weekend

Well, ABC Family did it again. They sucked up random 30 minutes of my life, bit by bit this weekend, by showing all the Harry Potter movies back to back.

Of course, then we had to watch the most recent movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, to get psyched up to go to the new Deathly Hallows movie part one.

Did we ever make it to the movie theater? No. We got caught up with more Christmas decorating and baking. (Photos are waiting for a sunny day. Literally. The weather here SUCKS right now!) Guess HP will wait till later this week!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lutheran Airlines

This will be the funniest thing you hear all day. I promise. Even if you are watching Chelsea Handler tonight, this will trump her and Chuy all the way.

Post a comment - what was your favorite line?

(Mine is...Rows 1-6 bring rolls...)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Favorite Breakfast

I love breakfast foods more than any other kind. Eggs, english muffins, waffles, omelettes, juice...woohoo!

My latest?

Stoneyfield Oikos Greek Yogurt with Blueberry, Strawberry, or Honey on the bottom, topped off with a 1/4 cup Bear Naked Original Granola.

YUM-O. Look it up at your local store!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Recap

This year's super fun Thanksgiving checklist with the Kienows in Aberdeen:

Successful non-revving. Check...mostly...we landed in Watertown. We got out in the first try all the way through to ATL. Not bad.

Freezing temps of minus 5 windchill. Double check. BRRRRR!!!

Pheasant hunting. Check. Yes, I walked. No, I did not shoot.

Extended time with the Steineke's. Check. (AND A SHOUT OUT!!!! HI FAMILY THAT READS THIS!!!!!!)

Double colds for me and Jeff. Check. We barely noticed after DayQuil and wine :)

Talk of decorating. Check. I think I might get hardwood floors in the bedroom out of it.

Catch Phrase. Double Check. I laughed myself stupid this year!

Nikolas family time. Check. I think it's been 2 years, and wayyyy too long :(

Babies. Awwwww, Check. Hello to my newest 2nd cousins, Dylan (Tyler and Kate's) and Gideon (Josh and Lauren's).

Food!!! Check. Taco Johns, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, soup, beef, pizza, pork, jerky, brats, there any food group we did NOT cover in 4 1/2 days?

Extended Mom and Dad time. Check. I wish I could stay forever!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Getting ready!

We always feel like there isn't quite enough time to enjoy our Christmas decorations. Because inevitably, we get back really late the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and don't get anything put out until the next weekend which is the first week of December. Then there are only 3 weeks to enjoy it!

So this year we decided to be early birds. As of November 21st, we are almost done! Our 7 outdoor lighted wreaths, complete with ribbon and poinsettias, are hung. Our lighted snowman is 3/4 working (his tummy went out). Our luminaries are lit in every window. Our tree is up (with no ornaments yet though). My Snowbabies are out, the nativity is set, and my buffet is decorated with laughing santas and funny snowmen.

It's beginning to look at a lot like Christmas!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Travel for work has slowed down for me (yay!) but this week I did take a trip to the great state of Oklahoma.

I say the great state of Oklahoma because the whole trip, Tuesday through Thursday, covered from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, with a 2-hour road trip in the middle.

I can't say that the OK state was much of anything - windy, rolling hills, chilly, and windy. And windy.

But the people were nice, the food was normal, and the trip was a success!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My new non-gay crush

Ok, so on Glee he is playing the friend / potential love interest of Kurt...

In real life, in my heart, not so much!!! Welcome to the Glee family of superfans, Darren Criss!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Guess who's home...

Ok, enough of the heavy-handed politicalness...why? Because Hubby is home!!!! And all of a sudden...he is all that matters to me again :).

Kienow Harvest 2010 in South Dakota has finished successfully - no serious injuries of people or equipment. That is a success in my book!

I picked him up around noon after his direct FSD-ATL flight on Thursday morning, and took the rest of the day off to hang out.

We had a "welcome home" lunch at La Hacienda, our favorite Mexican place in Peachtree City. We followed up with a quick tour of my VERY CLEAN house, and petted our kitties like crazy - they really missed him too! We did some (a lot) of fish tank maintenance and plotted what fishies we might buy next. After a quick nap, we settled in to watch a few old (to me) episodes of Glee, then a yummy dinner and an early night in.

WHOOPEE!!! I am so glad to have my partner home again!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No winners

I keep waiting to hear, "WINNER WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER!". In Georgia, for this girl, it's not happening.

I think for almost every vote I cast on Tuesday, the opposite person won. With the exception of a few amendments that I DID agree with the majority on, everything else went the opposite way. I feel like my voice may never be heard in this state.

It's weird to have been so aligned with my friends and neighbors, first in Brown County in SD, then later in Minnesota (sorry Rapid Citians, Pennington County and I also did not agree), and now to be so misaligned with the leaders of my city, county, and state.

I think at its core, and what I did not fully realize until now, is that I have a fundamental worldview difference from others around me. I think that the government should provide a social safety net to the poorest and most disadvantaged citizens. Others do not.

I was shocked - shocked, I tell you - that Amendment 2 did not pass. It called for a $10 annual registration fee on all regular vehicles, to provide funding to the state's trauma care centers. In 2007, a state legislative committee declared the trauma centers to be in crisis, and that many rural areas are without this service. In 2009, the state Senate passed legislation to provide funding, but it failed in the House. This fee would have bypassed those needs and provided much-needed funding.

My shock was that Georgians would not pay $10 PER YEAR (which is like, a meal for 2 at McDonald's) to ensure that if they get in a wreck in the southern part of the state, they won't have to travel 120 minutes - 60 more minutes than the critical time frame - to get to a trauma center.

The arguments I have heard around the office against the amendment are "balance the budget and find the funding", "go through elected officials", "this should be privatized anyway", and "I live right in the city, I don't need it" could be valid in their eyes - but I just don't agree.

All I can say is people better hope they never drive to Florida and on the way get sideswiped.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fun with AMY!!!!

Look who came to dinner...check out my photos on Facebook!!!

We had so much fun. I picked her up on Friday night, and we picked up some wine on the way home. Gabbing over wine, cheese, grapes, and crackers was so fun - we stayed up until 1:30AM!

On Saturday, we woke up late and had a quick workout in our bomb-diggity workout room - she on the treadmill and I on the elliptical. A quick shower and we were off to lunch at Thai Spice in Peacthree City. Our appetizer was for basil rolls, and I had SPICY green curry while she had pad see ew...super yum. (I NEVER GET TIRED OF THAI FOOD!!!)

We walked around in the sunshine of the outdoor shopping center for a long time, and eventually stopped into Ann Taylor to check out the sale racks. I bought her a super cute top for $6 and of course bought myself an awesome bracelet for $21.

A quick trip to Tea Fusion for some snowflake tea (a black tea combo of coconut, cinnamon, and chocolate) and found a park bench to watch the trick-or-treaters go from store to store and pick up candy.

Over the course of the next hour or so we saw LOTS of Disney princesses, Iron Mans, Spidermans, and even some pirates. My favorite kid costume? A little girl, maybe 1 or 2, dressed as a CUPCAKE - complete with a cherry-on-top hat and squeak-squeak-squeak shoes. My favorite adult costume? A bona fide Storm Trooper. Awesome.

A quick trip back home for some relaxing, then we headed to Midtown to visit Fat Matt's Rib Shack, a dive BBQ place with arguably the best food in Atlanta. And live blues!!! Who can resist?

Sunday went way too fast - we just hung out, ate our leftover Thai food, and took Amy to the airport by 1:30PM. I am so glad she came to visit and can't wait for the next one!!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Amy's Here

Guess who decided to ditch Chicago for Atlanta this weekend? My sister, one Ms. Amy Lee!!!

We have lots of do nothing...

But I bet there will be 1) wine, 2) talking, and 3) laughing!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Wedding!!!

Congrats to the happy couple...

Of course, I mean Jason and Bobbie!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Meatless Mondays

A recent National Public Radio story has one of the original Mad Men type characters, Sid Lerner, advocating going to Meatless Mondays.

He claims a diet free of meat, red meat especially, will help your wallet, your health, and your carbon footprint. And doing it just once a week is not a huge lifestyle change, just a minor dinnertime adjustment.

I realized that I was doing that since Jeff has been at harvest, without even realizing it. Today's meal? Here it is ~

Breakfast - greek yogurt and blueberries

Lunch - Kashi Mayan Harvest frozen dinner (vegan), 100 cal cheez its, and cake (hey, it was in the break room!)

Dinner - Macaroni and Cheese with a giant side of frozen vegetables in olive oil

Ok, admittedly this is probably a wee bit too many carbs but I can see with just a few tweaks (mostly by adding beans), that it would be totally possible. Anyone else going to try Meatless Mondays?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We are the #2 Champions!

Thanks to my new neighbors, I was taken out to MELLOW MUSHROOM for a night of pizza and trivia.

There are 20 trivia questions and each team has 3-4 minutes to answer. Bonus points happen every question if you get the singer of the song that is on while you wait. The last question is like "final jeopardy" in which you can wager against your current score.

Of course, my team was really competitive and got second place!!! Woo hoo, a $20 gift card to another trivia night will come in handy...hopefully I will get invited back after meeting so many new people :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

For what purpose?

That is my new favorite saying because, today, everything is irritating / baffling me. More specifically, people saying stupid things or making stupid decisions or asking stupid questions are irritating / baffling me.

Like not fully reading an email I just sent and then asking a question that was already answered in said email...for what purpose?

Like offering up something you think is awesome but I don't care about, and then getting disappointed when I'm not impressed...for what purpose?

Like yelling at a poor hourly worker with no power...for what purpose?

Like complaining about waiting for ANYTHING for 5 or 10 minutes...for what purpose?

I suppose most of these, I just need to have an attitude adjustment about. Right now, I will be practicing tolerance!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A new recipe

The other night I made baked chicken in a fancied-up kind of way. But I 'think' it was probably still pretty healthy. (Maybe a little sodium heavy though.)

Layer in as follows ~
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large chicken breasts (turn chicken once in the pan to coat with OO)
small jar sundried tomatoes
1 tbsp capers
1/4 cup feta cheese
sprinkle parmesan

Bake at 350 uncovered for 20-30 minutes. Serve over orzo pasta with green beans on the side.

Then today, I was sick of the leftovers (again) from this meal (with Jeff gone, the leftovers go REALLY SLOWLY), so I prepped myself a little salad.

I took mixed bagged greens (with spinach and raddachio) and plopped most of the leftovers into a rubbermaid, with a little orzo and green beans on top. For lunch today, I topped it off with 2 tbsp light balsamic vinaigrette, mixed it up really well, and ate it cold. A totally different take, and taste, on the leftovers!!!!

Let me know if you try it and what you think...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Good Airline Service

I love this article from today. Most of the time when I tell people who I work for, they can't WAIT to tell me their most recent horror story. It's nice to hear some of the really great stories that are out there, and that happen every day.

4 Top Airline Service Moments of 2010

ATLANTA (TheStreet) -- Guess what? As recent under-the-radar stories from Delta(DAL), American Airlines(AMR), US Airways(LCC) and United(UAL) show, airline employees often get it right.

That is a little known fact, because the airline industry suffers from an advanced case of crummy image. Most of the news you hear about airlines focuses on complaints, with airline fees a favorite topic.

By contrast, you rarely hear much about the industry's enviable safety record or its ability to transport about 750 million passengers annually, most of whom get to where they want to go at the time they want to get there. While good service alone does not move airline share prices, it's fair to say that passengers prefer to book on airlines where the service has been good.

Read on for four recent incidents of beyond-the-call service at the four biggest network carriers.

US Airways' Teddy Bear Tale
One day in February, a four-year-old girl named Georgia was flying from Phoenix to her home in Boston with her dad and her teddy bear, Bubba.

This is where it gets sad: Georgia lost the teddy bear in flight. "My daughter cried and cried night after night because Bubba was lost," her dad wrote in a letter to US Airways. "It was heart-wrenching to watch our darling little girl struggle to be okay."

Dad wanted the airline to find the bear, and his request came to the attention of Pat Chilton, executive assistant to the station manager of the Phoenix hub. For several weeks Chilton made inquiries, but she could not find Bubba.

The father wrote: "This weekend a package arrived with a return address from 'Bubba's Aunt', saying that Bubba is now traveling around the world and could not come home," he said. "Instead Bubba's cousin 'Buckley' was here to stay with Georgia and take Bubba's place. Georgia was so happy and smiled for the rest of the day walking around with Buckley tucked under her arm. Indeed, she has slept with Buckley every night since."

Delta's Help in Tracking Down Mom
In April, a western Kenya resident named Sophia got on an airplane for the first time in her life so that she could attend her daughter Agnes' university graduation in Nova Scotia.

No doubt the trip was an exciting cultural experience, but one thing neither Sophia nor Delta anticipated was that volcanic ash would shut down Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport soon after she arrived. Sophia, "who does not speak or understand English, was lost in the airport with no way to contact her family," said Delta CEO Richard Anderson during a weekly telephone message to Delta employees in April. "Caught in the fray of cancellations," she could not get on a connecting flight.

Agnes sent a plea for help via the Internet, and it was read by George Bourgias, Delta service manager in Amsterdam. He asked Agnes to send a photo of her mom to his telephone.

With the photo in hand, "George made a special trip to the airport and searched face-to-face among the many customers waiting there," Anderson said. "He was able to find [Sophia,] use his cell phone to put her in touch with her daughter, and get the customer rebooked on a flight."

American's Gracious Fleet Service Clerk
Following completion of a flight from Chicago to New York LaGuardia in May, a passenger named Don left his top-of-the-line Bose headphones on the plane. That's where Joseph Rota, an American fleet service clerk at LaGuardia, found them.

Rota also found Don's business card in the case and immediately called the cell phone number, then volunteered to bring the headphones to the taxi stand where Don was waiting for a cab.

In a letter to American, Don wrote that Rota than refused to accept a $20 tip. "When I said I was going to drop it on the ground if he didn't accept, he still refused," Don wrote. "Then I asked for his favorite charity so I could make a donation and he said that wasn't necessary. He said he was just doing his job and thanked me for flying American Airlines."

The Small Favor from a United Flight Attendant
Historically, flight attendants are employed to assure safety, not to serve drinks and try to stuff your oversized bag into the overhead bin. Once in a while, we are reminded of this primary responsibility.

In July, a passenger named John wrote to United(UAL) to praise Denver-based flight attendant Wayne Hickey, who saved his life.

"I was choking on a piece of meat that I did not chew correctly before swallowing," John said. "This young man responded quickly and performed the Heimlich maneuver when I was down to some of the last oxygen I had left in my body. He then checked on me frequently during the flight to make sure I was OK.

"I owe my greatest gratitude to this young man and your company for preparing him so well for a situation that doesn't happen every day," John added. "This young man saved my life, plain and simple."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Flu Shots

It's that time of year!!! Did you get yours? I got mine today :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Blanket Disaster

Grrr. Last night my hobby got the better of me. I sat down to stitch together the LAST STRIP of a giant, complicated baby blanket for my little niece, Maddie.

It was too long.

No biggie, I thought. This has totally happened before. I'll just snip a corner and pull a free string, and it will start unraveling. Apparently this pattern had other ideas. Every snip gave me a free string, one that immediately knotted itself.

An hour later, I had made several cuts and realized I didn't have enough yarn in the yarn ball left to "do over" and I better not destroy the rest of this. yarn So I pulled from the other end, totally UN-did the entire strip, and balled it up.

So much for finishing. Turns out I will have to re-crochet that strip to the correct length and THEN I'll be done. I guess that will be my project tonight!

Oh, and my Maddie is adding her own special touches to the blankie:

(I'll wash it before I give it to my niece in a few weeks. I promise!)

Friday, October 8, 2010


Savannah is all about the food. Seriously. Even on a business trip. Who cares what I DID, let me tell you what I ATE.

Wednesday night: Parmesan crusted fresh snapper with whipped sweet potatoes and green beans. And 2 glasses of Malbec.

Thursday lunch: Catered at the Mulberry Inn, a three course meal of tomato bisque soup, chilled beef tenderloin with apple, celery, and walnut salad on the side, and pecan pie drizzled with chocolate.

Thursday dinner: Alligator Soul restaurant - located beneath a shop on a side street, the only indication anything is down there is the alligator-adorned awning marking the stairway entrance. Once below ground, the most charming, and delicious food ever. I had a seasoned pork chop stuffed with an andouille sausage mixture, apple and cinnamon struedel, and roasted veggies.

Friday lunch: The Distillery, a new brew pub in town, with a to-die-for roasted turkey sandwich and sweet potato fries. Oh, and fried pickles.

Friday afternoon: A free hour along River Street led me to Savannah Candy Kitchen, where I bought goodies to send home. And sampled fresh caramel popcorn, pralines, and fudge. Hope the harvest crew enjoys this! Yahoo!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bye bye

Well, Jeff is off to Harvest 2010!!! Due to the wet year, a lot less acreage was planted, and hopefully it will be dry enough to bust tail as well and make a short year this year.

I know everyone's memory is still fresh of combining well into January last year. Hopefully this year will be done in advance of Thanksgiving!

Meanwhile, I am still here and holding down the fort with many items to focus on:
1) Work out
2) Eat healthy (for one, it's tough!)
3) Play with kitties and change their catbox
4) Maintain the saltwater tank
5) Clean the house at least once ;)
6) Chiro once a week
7) Allergy shots twice a week
8) Skin appointment / facial / health

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fall chores

Today, we put out our Halloween flag! Who doesn't love friendly pumkins and a Maddie-looking Halloween kitty?

I also got my fall decorations out and bought a cinnamon scented broom thing, to make my house smell like fall. Oh, and I bought bruised and dented Honeycrsip apples for $2.99/lb (still worth it). I know it will never live up to the bushel we picked ourselves in Minnesota and made lots of apple crisp with, but it works.

Jeff did some last minute yard work: trimmed up our bushes, threw down Weed B Gone, hauled some potting soil up from the shed, and helped me plant 2 pansy pots - a big one for the garage, and a smaller one for the back porch. I can't wait to enjoy them all winter (haha, Midwesterners!).

Just a few more chores to do before harvest...but in the meantime we are enjoying the end of a perfect fall day!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Clean teeth

After years of delinquency and neglect of professional oral hygiene care, Jeff and I have finally made a trip to the dentist. My teeth feel great!!! And we are both cavity free, which is bonus. We weren't really sure if both of us had zero cavities, because it sure does hurt to bite down sometimes.

Turns out gum disease and early gingivitis can expose nerves which can cause almost as much tooth pain as a cavity. Who knew? Now, after the through cleaning, we are both on a once every 4 month schedule. Soon, hopefully we'll be improved enough to do it twice a year like normal people.

Now, to modify my routine to floss more than just once in awhile and add on a mouth rinse. As if there isn't enough to do in the morning for a grumpy not-a-morning-person!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tad and Kelli got hitched!

Congrats to our friends Tad and Kelli!!! Jeff and I made the trek to Spearfish, SD this weekend to help them celebrate. We had so much fun - Jeff told me it was maybe the best time he's had since our own wedding 6 years ago (really? even more than Paris? or Ft Lauderdale? oh well.). Here's a rundown of events...

Wednesday - Jeff left Atlanta in the wee hours and made it to Rapid by noon (miracle of miracles). He hung out with Jason for the day and then had dinner with Jason and Bobbie (our soon-to-be sister in law). After dinner he went over to visit with Tad and Kelli and stayed until 1:30AM, chatting and finalizing centerpieces for the reception.

Thursday - More chilling with his little brother and preparing for the bachelor party. The party was Thursday night...and went until closing time. Jason's favorite quote from the evening after picking Jeff up outside the Brass Rail: "Do I smell like strippers?" "No." "Well, I should. I earned it." Meanwhile, I was making my way from Atlanta to Minneapolis to...Aberdeen (finally). Couldn't get to Rapid, but had a really nice detour with my parents and of course chatting with my Mom until 3AM.

Friday - Dad and I left for the 6-hour drive across the state in order to make it to the rehearsal on time. He was going anyway to winterize Iron Horse Campground with Rick, so it worked out well. Plus, we had some real "quality time" in the Caddy (thanks Dad!!!!). Finally arriving at the cabin, I rushed around getting ready, kissed my daddy-o goodbye, and headed out in the Wrangler with Jeff through Spearfish Canyon to make it to the rehearsal by 5pm. After the rehearsal was a really nice hamburger and hot dog picnic in the park, followed by decorating the Pavillion for the reception - until 10:30PM. Back to the cabin for a full night's sleep.

Saturday - GAME TIME!!! After a little sleep-in, we headed once more through the Canyon to get to Spearfish, grab some lunch, and check into the hotel. Jeff headed over to the campground and get into his tux with Tad, Jake (Tad's bro), and Pat (Tad's stepdad). Meanwhile, I went to pick up some wrapping paper and a card, and a goody bag for the newlyweds' room (Gatorade and bananas were major components).

The wedding was really lovely, and totally "them". It was in the park, accented with a rushing waterfull backdrop and fall leaves floating around them. After the ceremony, we headed to the Pavillion for a wonderful meal catered with love by their families, many toasts, an open bar, and much dancing!!! Towards the end of the evening the crowd thinned and karoake broke out - Ike, Tad, and Jeff did "You Lost That Loving Feeling", Tad's brother did Alice in Chains and Rage Against the Machine, some girls did a song they didn't know, I did "She's in Love with the Boy" and "I Could Not Ask For More". The after party was back at the hotel and consisted of more scotch drinking, reminiscing, and a little barfing (not by us, but by a couple others!). Also, we tried to call the newlywed room to remind them "It's not a party until Tad pukes!" but they didn't answer.

Sunday - Breakfast at 9:30AM with the old crew, followed by a tux return and a drive back to the cabin ended our time in Spearfish. We had lunch at Cheyenne Crossing with Bobbie and Jason, and then drove up to Terry Peak Summit to see the colors from that vantage point. Another hour of relaxing and then we were off to meet Tad and Kelli at the Firehouse for dinner and a couple beers. After recapping the day before, we fell into bed back at the cabin at 11PM.

Monday - Um, no, we did not make it back on Monday. Mostly because the only flight from Rapid with availability was at 6:40AM (which meant getting up at 3AM) and we were pretty sure we wouldn't be able to get out of MSP anyway. So...bonus day in the Hills!!! We had an early lunch at the Stampmill in Lead (I love that place), then did the *free* walking tour of the old Homestake mine grounds where they have put in a memorial park. It was so fun to see the bright blue sky, 75 degrees, and South Dakota wind on our backs for the tour. A nap and dinner at Latchstring restaurant rounded out our actual vacation day.

Tuesday - 3AM wakeup call. 6:40AM flight from Rapid. 11:10 flight from MSP. 1 hour delay. Lunch in ATL's Concourse E at Qdoba. Home by 4pm. YEA!!! What a great trip!!!!!!!!! Photos will be forthcoming, once we actually unpack.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My new favorite album

Sara Bareilles gets fun and funky on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

South Dakota Bound

Jeff made it all in one shot today from Atlanta to Rapid City for our friends' wedding (he's soooo waiting in MSP)!!!

The countdown to see me in my new super-mod dress and Jeff in a tux is ON!

We're Gonna Win, TWINS

First into the that a good omen to be first in the World Series????

What an awesome way to ring in Target Field...with an ALCS Division Win!!! (The 6th time in 9 seasons, for those of you counting.)

From the AP: The Twins had 39,580 fans in attendance on a cool night. It was the 73rd straight sellout and 74th in 75 games this year. From the Jessica: I WISH I COULD BE IN MINNESOTA!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yay! My Sunfire

In efforts to keep our wonderful, beautiful, perfect 2008 Impala in good shape, and under 20,000 miles, I am going to drive the Sunfire to work again.

Jeff and I got the Impala in February with 11,000 miles on it. Right now, it has 19,500. That is over 1200 miles per month...or 40 miles per day! Not surprising, since I typically commute 4-5 days per week the 60 miles from home to work and back.

But the Sunfire had just one problem - after about 5 minutes, if you didn't keep your foot on the gas, that sucker would die. It made slowing down to turn and braking for stoplights interesting (think, gas plus brake at the same time). So the Gold Beast has been parked for a couple months until we figured out what to do with it.

Our neighbor is a Car Nut but has recently lost his sight. So after Jeff described the symptoms, the neighbor offered to talk him through some options. So a throttle body sensor, air filter, and fuel filter later (plus the fun of driving a '67 Corvette off the lift to put our little Sunfire on the lift), the Gold Beast lives again!!!

Thanks Jeff and Jerry!!!

Yet another reason

Passing this article along chiro cleared me for hopping back on the elliptical and I can't wait. No weight-lifting, pilates, yoga, and minimal walking (for impact) but I am totally ready to get started. I am stalled at 22 lbs lost and have a LOT more to go.

By LAURAN NEERGAARD vis AP WASHINGTON — Obesity puts a drag on the wallet as well as health, especially for women.

Doctors have long known that medical bills are higher for the obese, but that is only a portion of the real-life costs.

George Washington University researchers added in things like employee sick days, lost productivity, even the need for extra gasoline — and found the annual cost of being obese is $4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man.

That is far more than the cost of being merely overweight — $524 for women and $432 for men, concluded the report being released Tuesday, which analyzed previously published studies to come up with a total.

Why the difference between the sexes? Studies suggest larger women earn less than skinnier women, while wages don't differ when men pack on the pounds. That was a big surprise, said study co-author and health policy professor Christine Ferguson.

New drugs stir debate on clinical trials Reality TV serves up 'Freaky Eaters' Researchers had expected everybody's wages to suffer with obesity, but "this indicates you're not that disadvantaged as a guy, from a wage perspective," said Ferguson, who plans to study why.

Then consider that obesity is linked to earlier death. While that is not something people usually consider a pocketbook issue, the report did average in the economic value of lost life. That brought women's annual obesity costs up to $8,365, and men's to $6,518.

The report was financed by one of the manufacturers of gastric banding, a type of obesity surgery.

The numbers are in line with other research and are not surprising, said Dr. Kevin Schulman, a professor of medicine and health economist at Duke University who wasn't involved in the new report.

Two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese, and childhood obesity has tripled in the past three decades. Nearly 18 percent of adolescents now are obese, facing a future of diabetes, heart disease and other ailments.

Looking at the price tag may help policymakers weigh the value of spending to prevent and fight obesity, said Schulman, pointing to factors like dietary changes over the past 30 years and physical environments that discourage physical activity.

"We're paying a very high price as a society for obesity, and why don't we think about it as a problem of enormous magnitude to our economy?" he asks. "We're creating obesity and we need to do a man-on-the-moon effort to solve this before those poor kids in elementary school become diabetic middle-aged people."

A major study published last year found medical spending averages $1,400 more a year for the obese than normal-weight people. Tuesday's report added mostly work-related costs — things like sick days and disability claims — related to those health problems.

It also included a quirky finding, a study that calculated nearly 1 billion additional gallons of gasoline (3.8 billion liters) are used every year because of increases in car passengers' weight since 1960.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tyrone Founders Day

Happy 99th Birthday to the celebration of our town's formation!!!

Jeff and I headed out around 11:45AM this morning to take in the booths, food, and people and Handley Park. Little did we know we joined the unofficial 'tail end' of the parade that ended at noon...we were just trying to get cash and look for a parking spot!

The celebration had most traditional fair ware...of course no mini-donuts, but I have stopped looking for them (the only place I've seen them in the south is at the Delta Block Party when the MSP folks brought a booth down). I had a BBQ chopped chicken sandwich, Jeff had chicken strips and homemade chips, and then we shared a funnel cake. YUM!

We watched the awards celebration for all the best floats, the winners of the 5k Fun Run, and the announcement for all the pageant winners (5 categories from preschool to high school). Then we walked around to the booths and saw churches (lots), face painters, purses, tree removal services, and even stopped to chat at length with the Premier folks who can come and put in a new a/c for us.

But, when the thermometer hit 90 today and we were out of water, we decided it was time to head home before we both had heatstroke. But our hands are stamped to go back for fireworks at 9PM tonight!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lunch Recommendation

I just had a seriously delish frozen dinner. As of late, I have veered away from these, opting more for either leftovers or Healthy Choice microwavable soups (low in sodium and calories).

But Kashi is totally changing my mind. Today's Mayan Harvest Bake was awesome! Sweet, spicy, crunchy, and a wonderful, I highly recommend this one. It's got plaintains, black beans, sweet potatos, pilaf...and more!

At 340 calories, it's not the lowest cal option but it is really filling. Just watch the sodium the rest of the day...they must not have figured out how to add spice without also adding 380mg of salt (16% DV).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pulled apart

So my chiro thinks that I have a bulged disc. Or maybe a herniated disc. It can be confirmed with an MRI but I am seriously not paying for that. Either way, he wants me to start something called "decompression". It is just a funny word that stands for "being pulled apart".

I went for my first session today and got strapped in an extremely tight vest just under my boobs and another one just around my waist. The straps by my chest were hooked to a table while I laid on my back, and the straps around my waist got hooked to something below my feet.

And then, it pulled by my feet. And pulled. And pulled. And then relaxed. And then pulled again.

I *think* it felt good and better, but I am totally not sure. I have at least 5 more treatments of this to see if I can get back on the road to recovery. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Braves Game

Yay!!! I attended the Braves vs Nationals game in the Delta Box Suite...all you can eat hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, soda, and beer!!! (Yes, heartburn is guaranteed.)

My team at work has a big meeting on Tuesday with our pilot friends and we kicked off the 'official' business with some 'unofficial' socializing over brews and baseball. A preface to the tar and feathering, if you will.

It was great to get together with everyone and kick back before getting into the nitty gritty...I think all major meetings should kickoff this way!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Welcome, Fall

I read on "the internet" that trees begin losing their leaves as a result of dwindling daylight, and not necessarily a function of temperature.

In the Midwest, leaves falling to the ground are accompanied by light weight sweater sets, maybe a fleece jacket, crisp air, and visits to the apple orchard.

But down here, our leaves are falling already, some in major waves. Plenty of trees are turning yellow and red already as well. And yesterday it was 90 and humid.

This time, I think "the internet" was right!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Yahoo!!! Our household now has ZERO car payments!!!!!!!!

We FINALLY paid off our Jeep. We have diligently paid $430 per month for six years. Yes, longer than we have been married.

People, listen to me: Do Not Purchase A Vehicle With A Six Year Car Loan.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Walking in Memphis

I have just returned from a quickie 2-day trip to Memphis, TN. And I am in love.

Memphis is definitely on my list to do a weekend trip now - the city of blues, rock and roll, and barbeque has stolen my heart (but New Orleans is still my #1, I think. Maybe.).

I ate ribs, slaw, and beans at Blues City Cafe (featured on the Travel Channel, Bobby Flay's show, and Bon Apetit Magazine), Rendevous (famous "dry ribs"), and Neely's (as in, Down Home with the Neely's on the Food Network). Oh, and I had a pulled pork sandwich too.

Memphis is home to Graceland, BB King, Kings of Leon, and Justin Timberlake. I mean seriously...there are about a million ways to hear good tunes any night of the week. Beale Street, to me, could go on forever!

Memphis is the home of FedEx and it was super, super cool to see all the GIANT FedEx cargo planes at the airport. (Especially if you are a little nerdy.)

Memphis in May, Bike Week, Beale Street Blues Festival, the Liberty Bowl...the list goes on!

Pack your bags and get ready, Kienows...this may be our next family destination!!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Funny Little Town

Jeff and I took a Sunday drive to a little town called Serenbe.

This is a Farm to Table rural community about 20 minutes from our place. It has some amazing little shops - including stores featuring local artisan work, the most delightful antiques place, a specialty wine boutique, several kitchen and clothing shops, and some great food.

We had a snack at the Bakeshop, which featured gourmet sandwiches and salads, a huge breakfast, and seriously delicious homemade goodies. Jeff and I shared a slice of chocolate cake and our friends had a peach and blueberry pie and oatmeal cookie.

There are also some neat stables so we petted the horsies. They were so beautiful!

We tried to drive up to the front of the working farm but it was gated off. I think a Saturday farmer's market is in my future!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dinner and a Movie

Yea, date night on the eve of a 3-day weekend!!!!

Jeff called me today at work and said, "Hey, do you want to go on a little date tonight?"

Of course I said yes - it's so rare after 5-1/2 years of being married that we declare it a date.

So he took me out to Chili's (we NEVER eat there) and then we watched Prince of Persia with some super yummy popcorn and snacks.

Ahh...just me, Jeff, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Who could want more?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A little rest, and grief

Well, after having some pretty serious pain and soreness for a few days in the low back, I decided to take it easy at home today. I have kept up with all my emails and phone calls (for the most part) so hopefully life will not be too hectic on Friday.

After resting, then walking, then resting, then walking, I have determined this: Work makes me feel worse.

I think this is why: 1) my chair is super uncomfortable, 2) I don't probably get up often enough to walk around, and 3) I hate my coworkers seeing me as a chubby gimp.

But after this day of rest, I can definitely see light at the end of the tunnel...things feel a little better and less ibuprofen is required!

Also, being home today gave me a little time to grieve for my college friend, Colleen. She and her husband just lost their 4-week early baby, Regan. Please send up a little prayer for them and their two other children during this extremely difficult time.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Moving to ATL?

I know this is not a forum for seeking or posting job opportunities. But an ex-colleague (but still friend) of mine has some people he knows in the A-T-L that are in need of REALLY GOOD procurement folks.

So - 3 companies in Atlanta are seeking procurement managers...let me know if I can provide the contact!!!

And, in case you are thinking of relocating, there is a house on our street for sale, so we could be neighbors!!! (In pretty much the exact same floor plan, hehe!)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Death by Firewood

Occasionally, I am known to complain on this blog. Today, I TOTALLY am going to complain a lot, so just close your browser if you don't want to hear about it.

Jeff and I decided it was time to finish up the wood cutting project he and Jason started a few weeks ago. Halved up logs were still in a hefty pile in the backyard and were just getting grosser and grosser with the more rain we got and time that passed.

It started out great - I would set up the logs on the chopping stump, Jeff swung, and then we chucked them towards the stack. After awhile, he convinced me I should try to swing the axe. I did. I was awesome at it (not). That crap is hard! And takes more practice than I want to do!!

Break time. I decided to continue to make myself useful instead of plopping in the chari, and begin stacking up the logs. Then, WHA-BLAM! My low back gave a big ol' pop and tears sprung to my eyes. I involuntarily began weeping and was immobilized because it hurt so bad; I didn't know if standing up, sitting down, or walking was going to help.

Finally I began pacing circles around the fire pit to try and keep things from tightening up. I alternated pacing and sitting for the next hour or so, then went inside (Jeff was still lumberjacking). I put some ice on and sat in my chair, which really took some nice pressure off. I got myself showered and dressed...which was no small feat.

The rest of the weekend was taken up with alternating walking and sitting, lots of ibuprofen and ice. THIS SUCKS!!! And now today at work it hurts SOOOO bad I think I am going to have to go home really early this afternoon. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Birthday!

YEA!!!! I love birthdays...and those people who brought me into the world are having one. Another one (thankfully!).



Have a great August 28th in the Black Hills during Hot Deadwood nights, and have a Lord and Diet for me, will ya!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An Apple a Day

Do you know why "they" suggested to have an apple a day to keep the doctor away? Fiber.

Recently Jeff had some health issues (severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) and the doc thought it was either gallbladder related or possibly an obstruction (or something) in the colon. Before requiring gallbladder surgery, he advised Jeff to try and get 25 grams of fiber per day to see if he could get more regular and possible pass whatever was causing him angst.

That's like 25 pieces of whole grain bread. Or an entire box of brown rice. Or 12 apples. Not feasible.

So Jeff tried Fiber One Honey Cluster cereal. And found he really likes how it tastes and the energy he gets in the morning. Not to mention it is like 12 grams of fiber already, so he is well on his way by 10AM.

BUT - you know what ELSE is coming by 10AM? The first BM of the day. Followed by a second. And a third, sometimes. Add in plenty of flatulence in between, and I barely recognize the man I married. He previously disappeared but once a day for 10 minutes, regular like clockwork.

I think we are both ready for this fiber "experiment" to be over!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Best night ever, courtesy of Maroon 5

On Saturday night, Jeff and I trekked over an hour to the northern part of the city to go see Maroon 5 at the Verizon Amphitheater in Alpharetta. Yes it was outdoors. In Atlanta. In August. But it was soooooo worth it!!!

We have both concluded this was the BEST concert we have ever been to (sorry Garth). Garth's big stadium show was likely as awesome as Maroon 5, BUT we saw his up close and personal show; which while so very very cool, was not sweating your butt off-electrical sexuality-crazy music-guitar shredding experience that Maroon 5 brought to Atlanta on Saturday.

Adam Levine, their lead singer, must get a lot of tail. A LOT. Because believe me, every female in attendance, from 15 to 55, wanted to take him home. Jeff at some point looked at me and said, "If sex walked around playing a guitar and wearing a wife beater, it'd be Adam Levine." (BTW, Adam started out with a wifebeater, shirt, and another shirt. It rained right before the concert, which just adds humidity to the air so you can taste it, feel it, see it. Over the course of the night, it was so freaking hot and humid he just ended up with a completely soaked wifebeater.)

The opening song, "Misery", was their new single off the yet to be released album, and probably you have heard it on the radio. And the concert seriously got better from there...Harder to Breathe, Seven Miles from the Sun, She Will Be Loved, Sunday Morning, Makes Me Wonder, Shiver (Jeff's favorite), Won't Go Home Without You, This Love...which I definitely need to share a clip of here.

This clip is really similar to our concert - the same setup and audience energy / participation. And our seats were pretty good - front section, stage left, probably 25 rows back.

2:32 is my favorite lyrical part. Oh yeah. He is totally my freebie.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Doubletree Cookies

Raise your hand if you have ever had a Doubletree Cookie. Anyone? They are seriously sinful and delicious. And we regularly get them in the office and I bring them home and share with Jeff.

As a matter of fact, here are my top three food items that I suspect also have crack in them:

1. McDonald's Fountain Coke. Seriously. What is better than that? I don't even like Coke normally (I am a Coke Zero person).

2. Doubletree Cookies. Duh.

3. 100-calorie Cheez-Its. One packet is NEVER enough. Unless that's all you packed in your lunchbox and are forced to only have one. (Obviously that's my methodology.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cool Dude Dog

So I got new specs!!! They are super cool - kind of square shaped, half rimmed "gunmetal color", with pink bows. And Dior (of course). And I can see a lot better - bonus!

But that is not the most exciting part of the story. After picking up my glasses, Jeff and I were driving away, following a pickup. Now, new glasses should mean better eyesight. Right?

Jeff says to me, "Hey, did you see that dog in the back of the pickup? I think it was wearing sunglasses."

Me: "You have got to be kidding me. I know I have some depth perception issues, but I CAN still see."

Jeff: "No, seriously. That dog was wearing shades."

Me: "There is no dog! Leave it alone!"

Enter - we stopped at a stoplight. Sure enough, a mutt dog pops it head out of the back of the truck. Wearing sunglasses. And hops up on the toolbox of the truck like the fact it is wearing WRAPAROUND SHADES is the most natural thing in the world.

I love the south. Enjoy laughing your butt off at that visual the rest of the day!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mexican Fiesta Chili

We tried a semi-new recipe...this one is kind of convoluted but try to follow along.

Put the crock pot on low for 3-4 hours with 3 chicken breasts (about 1.7 lbs) and a half cup water

Then shred it, adding 1.5 packages Taco Bell taco seasoning plus 3/4 cup water

Ok - now, Jeff just puts this in a taco shell with lettuce, cheese, salsa, and rice. But here's one step further:

Dump in a pan a can of black beans, a small can of corn niblets, a can of diced tomatos, the remaining half packet of Taco Bell Seasoning, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup salsa. Heat to simmer for 10 minutes and then put in your taco!!!!!!

Leftovers are super yummy with rice, then shredded chicken, then "mexican chili" on top. OOO-EEE!!! Have fun :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Break Point

I do not understand mainstream news media. The story bothering me today is how someone wants to build a mosque 2 blocks from the World Trade Center.

Ok, who wants to build it? And why is it an issue to build it - because it is a mosque, or because it is a place of worship, or because there is no memorial yet built? And then, why is there no memorial yet built?

So all of these questions are burning in my mind...let me add one more. Why don't journalists get the complete story and report THAT? Why do I only hear one set of facts with nothing to string together the whole picture?

(PS. I personally don't see what the big deal to build a mosque there is. Obviously those folks have decided they need a place of worship where one does not exist. Can you imagine, southerners, the opposition to another Baptist church going up? Come on.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back on the Wagon

Well, I am back at it this week. Finally! Some normalcy to my life returns. Items to accomplish in the front part of the week:

Grocery shopping, including perishables which I will actually have time to eat
Watching the latest True Blood and Drop Dead Diva
Cleaning the bathrooms and kitty box
Working out 30 minute cardio for 3 days, and 2 days of weight training
Petting my kitties!!!!
Spending quality time with my honey bear

Who knew ordinary life looked so appealing?

Friday, August 13, 2010

NBTA Conference!

Spent the whole last week in Houston at the National Business Travel Association conference. With 6,000 of my closest friends, we were educated, entertained, and enlightened about all things business-travel related.

I personally had a great time networking with my hotel partner contacts, other airline professionals, and met some wonderful people who bestowed their knowledge on me. I attended 5 or six hour to hour-and-a-half educational sessions and learned everything from international security recommendations at hotels to strategic meetings management to leadership characteristics.

Some really fantastic speakers attended as well - highlights were Condoleeza Rice, Richard Branson, and Lance Armstrong each giving keynote addresses during lunch.

Every day started at 8:30, and went till after midnight. There were also at least 3 to 4 hours of expo time during the day, and then the evenings were also jam-packed. Happy hours, dinners, and parties abounded - and of course my group had to make an appearance at all of them to avoid looking like were playing favorites. (Of course.)

The highlights include: a Studio-54 themed party, complete with martini bar, live band, Cher impersonators, and professional dancers in cages, and really great dancing; and another party with 5 levels of fun including a pulsing floor to DJ beats, contortionist and fire throwers, living art via a naked guy in a bathtub of olives (!), henna tattoos, star in your own music video, and more!

Thanks to all my new friends and colleagues for a GREAT conference! (But boy does it feel good to be home. Trip was Sunday till Friday.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


From one of my favorite blog writers, Seth Godin, wrote a post today that I had to share...I work mostly with internal customers, which I think this perfectly applies to, as well as even family members and friends.

Train your Customers

Yes, you can train them. By rewarding some behaviors over others, by keeping some promises not others, by having some expectations instead of others, you get the audience you deserve. Some things you can train customers to do:

Be respectful
Be patient
Keep their satisfaction to themselves
Be selfish
Be focused on a superstar
Demand personal service
Be calm
Never settle for the current iteration
Be cheap
Embrace acceptance
Spread the word
Expect pampering
Demand free
Be eager to switch brands to save a buck
Value and honor long-term loyalty
Be skeptical

The customers you fire and those you pay attention to all send signals to the rest of the group.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Two Hartmans

We sent Jason (Jeff's brother) on his way back to South Dakota today. He has spent the better part of this past week at our house (yes, even while I was gone) and I think Jeff got every honey-do off the list that he had been saving up for the tall, skinny kid.

They did a perfect job manicuring the lawn, even mowing the opposite way, while also trimming like crazy, and pulling weeds in all my beds. (Jason actually mowed twice while he was here, the first day and the second to last.) They hauled up probably 5 or 6 wheelbarrows full of mulch to add to my gardenia bed, my rose bed, and the front mailbox bed of dwarf plumbago and dwarf bamboo (which is not really bamboo).

They "played" in the backyard...although I guess once you are older you graduate from swingsets to chainsaws. They cut up a ton of wood and even chopped down a full tree (I was told that was extremely exciting and a bit of a rush). Then they tossed the logs into our backyard, chopped it into firepit worthy quarters (this part took several mornings), and placed it into the newly built firewood holder. They re-landscaped my mulch pit so it's not so squishy and evened out another path to my new garden bench. They also put up markers for all my new plants so we don't accidentally Round-Up them in the fall.

Keep in mind, last week there was a heat advisory all week. Because the Heat Index was around 110 every day - it was in the 90s and just about as humid as I've ever seen. Literally all the windows in our house were dripping just like a bathroom window after a shower would.

I guess they cooled off in the afternoons and evenings by playing STARCRAFT 2! I am not a computer gamer, but after purchasing the game they decided both the computer monitor and the video card needed upgrading (this took 4 trips to Best Buy).

Do you think those boys had fun? I think Jeff will miss his buddy ;)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Marlboro Country

Well, I spent 2 great days in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Did you know you can buy cigarettes practically ANYWHERE?

NC is a lot like GA - hot, humid, sweet tea available by the gallon. It was a quick trip but now I can say that I've been there!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

God's Country

I have been homesick. Like really bad. And not just for family - I have seen them several times over the last few months. I needed to be HOME. In South Dakota. Here's from our 2 days of fun!!! (Click on any individual photo to make it bigger and enjoy the detail of God's Country.)

LOOK AT ME!!!!!!!!!! This is the new tractor with quite the cockpit inside. Very high-tech.

The dream team...missing Uncle Keith of course. Jeff was not prepared to work that day (notice the nice shorts and shirt). Of course he did anyway.

Dad's purple rig and his ever present companion, Mason

This is in the plot just behind the house, nearest the drying bins.

I climbed up another bin to capture this shot - looking west from the farm, along WBC23

Bonding time with dad is better with a 2 was putting a ginormous propane tank up on blocks. Two payloaders, 5 guys, and one girl later, we got it done.

My favorite part of the Toy Shed (in addition to Lord Calvert)

The farm from down the road

Ahhh...prairie. Driving up to the north farm.

I love this shot. You could HEAR the corn growing.

Nothing beats straight from the stalk sweet corn. YUM!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back on schedule?

The Household is off schedule. Ever since that tricky 3-hour time difference in Las Vegas a month ago, we have been struggling. After that trip I was back for a week, then it was a 3-day holiday (aka sleep in). Then a week on German time (+6 hours). And here we are now.

The past month has been too much. I am tired all the time, but then can't sleep when I need to. Jeff snoozes when I am awake. I nap while Jeff is up. It just isn't working!

To top it off, our next Workout Challenge has been a semi-failure. Not a collossal failure, but we are not making the 5 days a week of working's probably been 3 days a week, at best, during this last month. Which is less frequent than the first Challenge. And that is depressing as well.

So the answer is easy, right? Just be disciplined to go to bed early, even if you're not tired, and wake up early and work out, just to get back on track.

But WHY IS DISCIPLINE SO HARD??? I would much rather watch an episode of NCIS than go to bed. And that snooze button is abused in the mornings.

I think discipline must be easier when you are on schedule. And schedule is easier when you are disciplined. So which one comes first? And how do I grasp it?

Friday, July 16, 2010

My last German post

I am on board the plane, getting ready to depart for JFK from TXL.
Hopefully this 9 and a half hour flight will go quickly. I tried to go
to bed late and get up early to facilitate readjusting to the time

I of course shopped at duty free and ALMOST purchased a new fragrance
- but I could not convert the price of 48 euro to find out if it is
more or less than the 67 USD. Oh well, at least I smell nice for the
flight ;)

I have a repeat flight attendant on this trip back who I talked to at
length during the trip over. She has brought me a bunch of extra water
and I think will be a great help during this long flight!

Well, I have just received a USA Today (and another water bottle) so I
think it is time to sit back, relax, and enjoy my flight. TA TA

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Berlin Canal Cruise

Last full day today before leaving tomorrow morning to come home. I
hate to admit I am homesick...for Jeff, my girls, American a/c,
salads, bigger toilet seats...

Anyway we made the last day worth our while and had it packed full
again with work till abou 1630. Then, a canal cruise (one-hour tour)!
This cruise went through the "old" city center, most which had been on
the East Berlin side of Alexanderplatz. A LOT of the commentary ended
with "this has since been rebuilt as it was destroyed in the war".

Some of the highlights we toured in further detail after the cruise:

Berliner Dom also known as the Berlin Cathedral. Protestant church and
home to one of the oldest organs in Berliner. The dome was bombed with
a fireball in 1944 and as it collapsed it damaged much of the inside.
Restoration was not completed until 2002.

Museum Island - most of the museum space, including 5 museum
buildings, are found here.
Television tower - overlooks the city and has a rotating restaurant.
When Germany hosted the World Cup in 2006, it was decorated like a
soccer ball.

We walked a bit more and stopped at the Block House where I had a
filet mignon. Not very German, I know but I couldn't handle any more
rich food!

Tonight I am sad to pack up and leave Germany. I think I will plan for
my family to return before Christmas to see the traditional St Nick,
decorations, and shop at one of 63 hand craft Christmas markets.

Guten nacht!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tiring out

Wow. We have been working SOOO hard and I am totally exhausted today.
Between the jet lag, the job duties in general, and the heat, I hate
to tell you I didn't even leave the hotel tonight when we were done
around 1730. We did walk around Alexanderplatz a little before
heading back but my heart was not in it. My colleagues braved more
walking tonight but I took a nap, then shower, then dinner at the

Tomorrow will be interesting as one appointment includes a tour of a
hotel still under construction - those are always kind of fun to see
in process. Hopefully tomorrow on our last full day, after working,
we will do either a city bus or boat tour. I'll tell you more later.
Bye for now :)

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Water, please

Today, I paid 8 euro for water. I am still thirsty and it seems like a
bottle does not even fill a tumbler glass. I have decided water from
the bathroom sink must be fine and have filled and refilled my
reusable purple one. Hopefully that will help as it has been sooo hot
and humid and I have barely peed today!!! (TMI? Tough. It's my

After a full day of work, my team and I went to see more sights tonight.

Land of the churches
I love looking at beautiful old churches and in Germany you can find
lots. We had the pleasure of touring 2 today, or really two in one.
Kaiser-wilhelm-Gedachtnis-kirche, a very old structure with beautiful
stained glass and whose steeple is missing from Allied bombings during
WWII, and Schuke-Orgel chapel built in 1962 and today was hosting an
organ concert which we were able to sit and enjoy for 15 minutes.

And shopping
KaDeWe is full of fun surprises! We walked Germany's most famous
shopping district where high end stores abound. Chanel, Louis Vuitton,
Gucci, Bulgari, Tiffany, Tod's etc were nestled together and
surrounded by stores like Zara, Benetton, Esprit, and Diesel. Heaven
for window shopper like me!

And the gays
Not quite like what you can see on the streets of Amsterdam but all of
a sudden we found ourselves by the Axel Hotel and where every store
contained a rainbow art photo in their storefront. Oops, we went a
little off path but got some local flair!

Food, again
Dinner was sauteed (fried) pork with mushroom sauce and Spaetle, plus
2 glasses of Mueller Thurgau. Best meal so far. I even went to the
supermarket to look for wine to bring home (no luck. Must go to
Reichenau for that I suppose).

After a short 10 minute walk it was back to home sweet hotel home for
the evening. A workout plus sleep will be perfect for the night

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