Friday, December 21, 2012

Bayou Fish Foil Packet

Folks, the weight loss has not been good around here.  The same 5 lbs keep coming and going - since about August.  UGH.

And it's the holidays.  So that 5lbs has come...and hopefully not more but I am personally completely out of whack.  (Hello confessional.)

It's not like I've been making "horrible" decisions, or fallen "completely off the wagon"'s just that sneaking 1 cookie every day, or sometimes 2 (or 3 or 4 times) a day while at work is really derailing my sense of ROUTINE.

So, in efforts to get back to it a little, I've tried a few new recipes lately.  This one - Jeff and I BOTH loved!!!  So, feed it to your picky eaters, it passed our test!

Oh, and it's completely a Hungry Girl recipe, so if you don't get her daily emails - sign up now!!!

Woohoo! Bayou Fish Pack

PER SERVING (1/2 of recipe, 1 fillet with seasoned beans): 270 calories, 2g fat, 592mg sodium, 32.5g carbs, 9.5g fiber, 8g sugars, 31g protein -- PointsPlus® value 6*
1 cup canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning, divided
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic (or 1/4 tsp dried)
1/8 tsp. ground thyme (optional)
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
Two 4-oz. raw flounder fillets (or other white fish, I used tilapia)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place beans, bell pepper, onion, and celery in a bowl. Mix well and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine tomato paste with 1/4 tsp. Cajun seasoning. Add garlic, thyme, salt, and black pepper, and mix thoroughly. Transfer seasoned tomato paste to the bean-veggie mixture, and stir to coat. Set aside.

Lay a large piece of heavy-duty foil on a baking sheet and spray with nonstick spray. Scoop seasoned bean-veggie mixture into the center of the foil, and spread it out a bit. Evenly sprinkle remaining 1/4 tsp. Cajun seasoning on both sides of each fillet, and lay the fillets side by side on top of the bean-veggie mixture.

Place another large piece of foil over the whole thing. Fold together and seal all four edges of the two foil pieces, forming a well-sealed packet.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the fillets are cooked through and the veggies are tender. Cut packet to release steam before opening it entirely. (Careful -- steam will be hot.)

Serve each fillet with half of the bean-veggie mixture.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Jeff and I have developed several Christmas Traditions in the 8 (!) years we have been married.

A few years ago, when we were within driving distance to our families, and winter was bearing down on us, and the house was freezing and cold, we used to bake tons and tons of Christmas cookies.  Peanut Butter Blossoms, Spritz, and Sour Cream Cutouts were our specialty.

This year we have been so busy we have had to pick and choose what Christmas activities we completed - so my two favorites (which are both healthier) made the list!

1.  Christmas letter and card writing - but to a pared down list AND

2.  Neighboorhood light looking

Jeff completely knocked the light viewing out of the park this year - we saw million dollar homes with both home-made and professional decorated lights.  This one was by far my favorite - and most impressive!

Add to that we stopped by TCBY for a make-your-own soft serve fro-yo treat, and it was a completely successful Christmas preparation!

It makes me *almost* forget about Sour Cream Santas.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

This year Jeff and I decided we would stay in Georgia for Thanksgiving.  We had just seen his folks, and aunt, my parents were scheduled to come the weekend after, and we are going home for Christmas.

So what better way to spend Thanksgiving (and our anniversary) than on a mini-vacation to Savannah!  With our camper!!

We had a perfect little spot at the Savannah South KOA - right on the lake, at the end, with a great view of all the swans and other waterfowl.

After heading out post-workday on Wednesday (and a super-fast setup, as promised), we spend Thanksgiving morning hiking at Skidaway Island State Park.

We watched little crabs play in the salt marshes, as the tide was out (but coming in) during our hike.  We also got the BEST geocache trackable ever...a GIANT geocoin!  I cannot WAIT to move it on.

After that, it was back to camp for showers and to relax a bit before Thanksgiving dinner.  We went down to the common area where the KOA had prepared a turkey feast!  If you wanted to participate, you just had to bring a dish - we brought pumpkin pies...mmmm....

On Friday we headed into the Historic District in downtown Savannah.  No shopping for us!!!  Just a really great "trolley" tour with a fun narrator, telling us all the history, architectural highlights, anecdotes, and jokes along the various squares of the city.

After our trolley tour it was finally time for lunch.  We had lunch at the super yummy riverfront, reveling in the day's catch.

If Jeff looks super excited and distracted, it's because this is going by:

More walking around, having candy, seeing geocachers (!), and then time for dinner again - this time celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary!!!  LOVE YOU POOKIE

The next day was slated for Tybee Island.  The ocean was BEAUTIFUL, even if a bit breezy and cool.

We wrapped up our day with a visit to the historic lighthouse.

Back to camp, then headed home on Sunday.  What a great holiday weekend!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I have been extremely negligent in my posting, and for that, I am so, so sorry.  Jeff thinks people stop checking my blog if I don't update it every couple of days, so my goal between now and the end of the year is to at least post every other day.  So, please, please keep coming back and commenting and reading!

Now, I am going to list below everything that has happened in the last 40 days and 40 nights - and you will see why the blog has been a bit wayward!
  1. Oct 12 - Lois arrives! 
  2. Oct 13 - Catch up / errands / big Lowe's and Home Depot trips for project supplies
  3. Oct 14 - Bunco Preparation / Paint the kitchen a new (beautiful) Blue and set up Bunco
  4. Oct 15 - Bedroom and Bathroom painted / Choir rehearsal
  5. Oct 16 - Host Bunco at my house for the first time
  6. Oct 17 - Huge presentation at work
  7. Oct 18 - Weight Watchers
  8. Oct 19 - Southern Crescent Chorale Annual Fundraising Gala concert event
  9. Oct 20 - Shop for camper, eat lunch in Midtown, visit the Atlanta Botanical Gardens & Jake's Ice Cream
  10. Oct 21 - HIKE INN Day 1!!!
  11. Oct 22 - HIKE INN Day 2!!!  11 miles in 2 days!!!  WOO HOO!!!
  12. Oct 23 - Met my new boss
  13. Oct 24 - Preview a used camper we found online
  14. Oct 25 - DAY TRIP TO DALLAS :) and Lois leaves :(
  15. Oct 26 - We bought a camper!!!  Allen and Gail arrive!!!!
  16. Oct 27 - WEEKEND TRIP - Dahlonega and Amicalola Falls, enjoying fall colors
  17. Oct 28 - WEEKEND TRIP - Brunch at a Lodge, Ellijay apple orchard, and antiquing
  18. Oct 29 - WEEKEND TRIP - More antiquing and head home
  19. Oct 30 - Free time.
  20. Oct 31 - Halloween!
  21. Nov 1 - Weight Watchers
  22. Nov 2 - Stately Oaks Plantation tour, Six Feet Under restaurant, the Cyclorama, Jake's Ice Cream
  23. Nov 3 - Free time.
  24. Nov 4 - Free time.
  25. Nov 5 - Allen and Gail leave, met new boss's boss, Choir Rehearsal
  26. Nov 6 - President Obama is re-elected
  27. Nov 7 - DAY TRIP TO CLEVELAND :)
  28. Nov 8 - Big meeting at work, Weight Watchers
  29. Nov 9 - Pack the new camper
  30. Nov 10 - WEEKEND TRIP - First camper trip Day 1!
  31. Nov 11 - WEEKEND TRIP - First camper trip Day 2!
  32. Nov 12 - Cat-sit for a friend, Choir Rehearsal
  33. Nov 13 - Bunco at the neighbor's
  34. Nov 14 - Free time.
  35. Nov 15 - Weight Watchers and catch up with my friend Megan
  36. Nov 16 - Maddie went to the vet and might have kitty cancer or might just be gastrointestinal :(
  37. Nov 17 - Free time.  (SLEEP)
  38. Nov 18 - Free time.  (SLEEP)
  39. Nov 19 - Thanksgiving week!  Grocery shop, pack camper, pick up keys
  40. Nov 20 - Finalize all Thanksgiving preparations
Now, dear friends - when the hell do you think we will slow down?  I'm hoping for January 5th.  But you'll be with me every step (or at least every other step) now that I'm recommitting to the blog :).

But I am so, so thankful for all of this time with family and friends.  I'd gladly trade sleep for hours and minutes with those that I care about. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Security Cameras

I just had to share this article from Safe Harbor Security Cameras (written by Jeff).  It's about some less expensive options for security camera equipment - although the drawbacks are also clearly listed, it might be a good option for those of us that need a slightly cheaper solution.

I'm so proud of the work and research he has been doing to grow their business!  It's a great feeling to be able to walk into an establishment, assess their needs, and provide a customized solution for a client. 

Keep up the great work!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Practice Hike + Endurance Trail Running

Lois is here!!!

She arrived late Friday night, and we headed out bright and early on Saturday for a practice hike (4 miles) at FDR State Park in Pine Mountain.

We were just about to pull into the park when guess what we came across?

The North Face Endurance Challenge Atlanta!

What a super cool event!  They were hosting trail running of everything from an ultra marathon (53 miles on backwoods trails) to a 5K.  So, so, so cool - tents up, runners everywhere, was a cross between outdoorsman athelete and nerd fitness heaven.

But anyway - after oohing and ahhing - it was time to get OUR training on!  We did a pretty nature loop with moderate hills, at a fairly reasonable pace...but we HAD to stop and cheer RUNNERS on as they passed us in both directions.  SOOOO FUN!!!  They had on running gear, trail shoes, and maybe a water bottle hand-thingy.  WE had on full backpacks, poles, hydration packs, etc (granted, we didn't stop at water stations AND we were training for our Hike Inn weekend, so I'm going with that...).

I loved saying..."GOOOO NUMBER 5413A!!!  KEEP IT UP, YOU'RE DOING GREAT!"   It definitely inspired me to hike faster :).

NEXT YEAR...maybe we'll volunteer at a hydration / refueling station...I would LOVE it.  Or maybe I can even try a 5K?  Who knows.  But all I know, is I won't miss it next year - I'll be there in some capacity.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Fun

Last weekend we crunched all of our fall fun into one weekend - we went apple picking at our favorite orchard, R&A Orchards in Ellijay, and picked up 2 GIANT pumpkins at Burt's Farm.

We started out leaving nice and early (ok, 9:30AM) for the 2-hour drive up into the mountains.  (But, I made us a big breakfast of scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and banana nut muffins, which was the cause for the delay!) 

By the time we arrived, it was lunchtime!  A lunch buffet at Amicalola Falls Lodge was PERFECT...a huge salad bar and some other yummies...and an equally huge dessert bar (hello, first piece of pumpkin pie for the season!!!).

It was even better because there was a big wedding being set-up for the afternoon, and most everyone at the Lodge was part of the wedding.  So we got to see lots of decorations and people all dressed up (no bride though, she must have been getting ready!).  What a beautiful venue - fall colors changing, cool breeze, bright sunny day - reminded me of our wedding almost 8 years ago...What a romantic way to start our date.  :)

Anywho, first stop, WORLD'S LARGEST PUMPKINS.  They had lots of things to look at in the gift shop, and other fun things like hay rides and barn tours...but I am kind of fundamentally opposed to hay rides (they make me itch) and have seen tons of barns.  So we just proceeded to pick out the biggest pumpkins we could find that were less than $30 each.

DONE!  Jeff may or may not have quasi-tore a bicep loading these bad boys into the Acadia. 

Next stop, orchard.  We bypassed all of the uber-commercial operations (petting zoo, pig races, milk-your-own-cow, corn maze, etc) and went to the orchard we found last year. 

R&A Orchards is a family operation, with everyone working on the weekend.  Grandma directs parking, Daughter runs a register by the door, Granddaughter (maybe 12 years old) makes the delicious caramel covered apples and keeps the samples tended.  They also have a fabUlous kitchen, with deep fried pies and sandwiches and BBQ...oh my...(I only had a BITE of Jeff's fried pie but it was seriously delicious).

We also picked our own apples - Stayman Winesaps and Granny Smiths were ready, so we filled a "Peck" of the yummiest ones we could find, and then came back inside to pick up a "Bushel".
I immediately started singing to Jeff, "I love you...a bushel and a peck...a bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck..."  Do you guys know that song?  I love catchy nursery songs.

Anywho, FINALLY time to head back home...2 hour drive ahead of us...of COURSE I had to nap...and of COURSE Jeff took a picture (while driving)...Happy Fall Y'all!

Friday, October 5, 2012


Thursday morning I woke up REALLY EARLY (4:30AM!!!) to meet my friend Megan at her new gym, BodyPlex of Newnan and go to her favorite new class, Body Pump.  It was Bring-A-Friend-For-Free week and I love to try new things, and support my friends, and get free it was perfect (other than the 4:30 wakeup call).

Wow!  What an experience...a group of folks going for 60 minutes of high-repetition, low-to-medium weights.

Although I have been weight training a little at my Muscle Meltdown classes at work, I was nervous to put too much weight on my bar.  Which was a good thing, since we were going for "MUSCLE ENDURANCE".  Wasn't sure exactly what that meant, but Megan told me, "Put 2.5's on to start."  So I did (thinking I was being a bit wimpy but she knows best).

Enter 800+ repetitions over 60 minutes. 

I couldn't WAIT to get each exercise done because by the end of each set, my muscle (bicep, shoulder, hammie) was completely fatigued and screamin' at me. 

After one million squats, we went down to the step to do chest presses.

I literally could not get back up off the ground.  Due to my shaking legs.  From the previous exercise.  We were about at minute 22 of the workout.


The music, the vibe, the workout...I WANT MORE!!!  Good thing the Bring-A-Friend-For-Free week goes through the weekend!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How Do You Think About Money?

Did you see this article last week?  It was on Yahoo Finance: 21 Ways Rich People Think Differently.

Basically - their point was that most middle-class folks approach money from a place of fear, instead of looking at money as an opportunity.

This is maybe for me, the most interesting quote in the article:

"The masses have been brainwashed to believe it's an either/or equation," he writes. "The rich know you can have anything you want if you approach the challenge with a mindset rooted in love and abundance." 

Is it really that easy???  I'm not sure.  But it's worth thinking about.

Below I'm copying some of the most thought-provoking points (for me) from the article...what do you all think?

2. Average people think selfishness is a vice. Rich people think selfishness is a virtue.

"The rich go out there and try to make themselves happy. They don't try to pretend to save the world," Siebold told Business Insider.  "The problem is that middle class people see that as a negative––and it's keeping them poor," he writes.

"If you're not taking care of you, you're not in a position to help anyone else. You can't give what you don't have."

3. Average people have a lottery mentality. Rich people have an action mentality.

"While the masses are waiting to pick the right numbers and praying for prosperity, the great ones are solving problems," Siebold writes.

"The hero [middle class people] are waiting for may be God, government, their boss or their spouse. It's the average person's level of thinking that breeds this approach to life and living while the clock keeps ticking away."

6. Average people see money through the eyes of emotion. Rich people think about money logically.

"An ordinarily smart, well-educated and otherwise successful person can be instantly transformed into a fear-based, scarcity driven thinker whose greatest financial aspiration is to retire comfortably," he writes.

"The world class sees money for what it is and what it's not, through the eyes of logic. The great ones know money is a critical tool that presents options and opportunities."

17. Average people focus on saving. Rich people focus on earning.

Siebold theorizes that the wealthy focus on what they'll gain by taking risks, rather than how to save what they have.  "The masses are so focused on clipping coupons and living frugally they miss major opportunities," he writes.

"Even in the midst of a cash flow crisis, the rich reject the nickle and dime thinking of the masses. They are the masters of focusing their mental energy where it belongs: on the big money."

20. Average people never make the connection between money and health. Rich people know money can save your life.

While the middle class squabbles over the virtues of Obamacare and their company's health plan, the super wealthy are enrolled in a super elite "boutique medical care" association, Siebold says.

"Some even pay a substantial yearly membership fee that guarantees them 24-hour access to a private physician who only serves a small group of members," he writes.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall Clean-Up

If you are lucky (or maybe if you're not), you have a room in your house that is your catch-all.  You know, the room where things "land". 

You're not sure where something goes, or you're not quite ready to get rid of something, or you're holding onto something for goes in this room.

We have 2 catch-alls: The Pink Room and The Basement.

The Pink Room is one of the extra bedrooms upstairs (painted Pepto-Bismol pink by the previous owners) and has recently been home to 2 beds, a sofa table, books, photos, training guides, instruments, yarn, extra clothes, camping get the picture.

The Basement is the basement.  We put up 2 sets of row-shelving, resembling a poorly stocked hardware store.  We had several shelves that were unorganized or stored in un-ideal ways (think boxes instead of Rubbermaid containers)...and also just had stuff we didn't need anymore.  Like a coffee pot, baskets, contemporary flower vases, mismatched pot lids, unusable fish stuff, shoes (where did those come from?), boards...

Guess what - all that stuff is GONE!  Jeff is taking a HUGE load to Goodwill today and we have several folks lined up to take our extra furniture. 

We worked really hard this weekend to get the physical junk and clutter out of our life...and it feels good.

Friday, September 28, 2012

1.2 Per Week

1.2 lbs per week.  That's all it will take to get me from where I am right now, to 20 PERCENT LOST by New Year's Eve.

I think I can do this thing.

Side note - anyone out there walked or run a 5K?  I hate running.  But I think it would be good for me.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My New Favorite Kitchen Gadget

I can't make hard boiled eggs.  I have tried like, 10 times.  I always have to look up the instructions on how long to boil, to sit in hot water, to sit in cold water, etc.  And they never turn out!

They come out overcooked.  They come out runny.  They come out gross.


Enter my new microwave egg cooker.

It's a NordicWare Egg Cooker that I bought off Amazon (off a recommendation from my mother in law).


Fill the bottom part of the plastic with water "up to the line", put the tray in the middle, place 4 eggs in it, slap the top on, and pop it in the microwave for 10 minutes.

Take the eggs out (careful, they're hot) and put them in an ice bath until you're ready to peel them (like when Modern Family is over).

Voila.  Perfect hard boiled eggs.

PEOPLE!  If you are egg-cooking-deficient like me, but also love eggs like me, you have got to try it!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Best Intentions

After a WEEK LONG CONFERENCE in Long Beach...

full of food, wine, drinks, cheese, olives, chef competitions, etc...

and on my feet for 12 hours a day...

and traveling from coast to coast...

it was foolish to think I would be able to do what I intended this weekend.

My intent was to go to Tyrone Founder's Day, participate in the Zumba demonstration, walk around the booths and people-watch, and finish up with a firepit get-together on Saturday.

Then on Sunday we were scheduled for another practice hike.

Guess what.  ONE of those things happened.  (We went to a firepit on Saturday.)

What really transpired?  I spent a lot of Saturday sleeping in, napping, going out to lunch, napping...see a trend?

On Sunday - boy oh boy - had a BAD allergic reaction to 'something' (any guesses) and spent the afternoon and evening drugged up on Benadryl...which creeped into Monday...did you want to see the funniest thing ever?  Just video me while taking Benadryl, apparently I'm hilarious.

Anywho, still feeling REALLY rough today but trying to get back in the saddle!  The saddle may leave the building without me though.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Additional Training is Necessary

Our big hike of 11 miles in 2 days is coming up in 5 weeks.  We need to get our training on!!!

We haven't hiked since the weather got hot in June.  I've been working out regularly (usually 3-4x per week) but not outside and not on inclines and not for more than 30-45 minutes at a time.  Jeff's been super active at his job, but that is not the same as training for a hike.

So...we decided we ought to get back to it this weekend and get some miles under our belt to prepare.

We decided to go to FDR State Park, one of our favorites, and try a new loop off the Pine Mountain Trail.

Our planned hike was of the Dowdell Knob Loop Trail - a combination of the Pine Mountain Trail and various connectors to make a nice 4.3 mile loop.

Yikes.  Here are the things that made the hike a really tough pill to swallow:

1.  A tornado came through about a year and a half ago - so most of the downed trees are cleared from the trail but it was SUNNY and HOT and EXTREMELY WEED-COVERED in two major spots (aka, the beginning, and the end).  (Usually my Georgia hiking is in full shade with minimal undergrowth - good for fair-skinned redheads who are extremely allergic.)

Turns out, there was a warning on the website, which I totally did not see till today:
NOTE: The April 2011 tornado impacted the area west of Mile 14 (for 4,485 feet) and east of Mile 15 (3,800 feet). The trail is back open but just to make you aware you will be hiking through areas that the tornado hit hard, but the trail is cleared for hiking.

2.  Hiking at a constant right-turn around a mountain made my hip and right oblique very sore.

3.  A nice 45 minute workout class or 30 minutes on the elliptical is NOT the same as up-and-down hiking 4.3 miles.  UGH.  My puppies were really barking by the end.

There was one nice part - before we got to the 2nd weedy portion - where I was like, YES...this is fun!  It was about the 2.2 mile mark - I felt good, it wasn't too hot yet, and the birds were singing.  I'm choosing to remember that moment, in order to get psyched to keep training instead of running the other way.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Happy Fall Saturday!

After a bit of a chaotic week, Jeff and I are having a GREAT Saturday.

Well, for sure - I am.  I sometimes love these Saturdays (as long as I can force myself to wake up).

I went to my favorite Zumba class at 9AM - 40 minutes of dancing, followed by 20 minutes of weight training / ab work.  I used to hate this class because I could literally do almost NOTHING during the last 20 I can do most of it (but not always as fast as everyone else -- hello, leg raises).

I dropped off some too-big clothes (YEA) at Goodwill, followed by a gas fill-up and a 'clean out the car so it doesn't look like a hobo lives in it' time at the station.

I came home, made a cup of coffee and let it sit, let the kitty outside to the backyard - and then watered all my new pots of mums and purple salvia, cleaned up and re-filled the bird feeders, cleaned out and filled up the birdbath, repaired squirrel damage to my windowbox of lettuce, watered my herbs, and finally got around to drinking my cup of coffee and reading the local weekly newspaper.

The weather here is BEAU-TIFUL - high 70's, sunny, only about 50% humidity...about the best you can get in early September.

Meanwhile, Jeff had been working on installing our transition pieces from our new floor into the kitchen.  As always, DIY projects take longer and are more difficult than you think (I'm beginning to boycott HGTV by the way)...but he got it done!

I heard him say, "Gosh, I just don't have enough things for weights."  Ha!  I had an idea...time to re-purpose my Zumba weights!

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Blogger is working again!

I am horrible at IT.  Not horrible at the action / fixing / utilization of it...but horrible in the patience space.

I have no patience.

Therefore, my IT problems linger on...and on...and on...until they magically get fixed (thanks Jeff).

But today's magic was not fixed on purpose, I don't think - my laptop / connection wasn't working for the past couple weeks for blogger.

I could read feeds, but couldn't write or edit any posts (it would just spin, and spin, and spin).  Who knows.  Maybe an IT update push fixed it.

In any case - I'M BACK!

And would like to say a BELATED BLOG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the 2 most awesome people I know (hi Mom and Dad).  So glad you enjoyed yourselves and had a great Labor Day as well!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


We saw Sugarland on Thursday at Verizon Amphitheater in Alpharetta!!!!

It was so worth the 75 minute drive from our house.  We missed both opening acts - but got there about 8:30PM with enough time to buy a Bud Light, popcorn, and find our seats.

We sat next to some folks who had driven from Fayetteville, down our way.  We thought we came a long ways, but then 2 fans were called up on stage from Chicago and Tampa!

Look how great seats our were!  You could definitely feel the energy all night - and see Jennifer's 6-month baby bump!!!

This tour was called "In Your Hands" so the fans got to pick the set list.  Luckily, all my favorites were included - Stuck Like Glue, Stay, Little Miss, It Happens, Already Gone, Baby Girl...

And my all-time favorite (super alto envy) - Tonight.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Great Cool-Down

At what point do you start to think - oh, YEA!  The weather is changing!  It's going to be fall soon!

For me, it used to be when school started.  So, after Labor Day.  But Georgia schools are already in session and it's still August.  I think it's too early.

But, the temperature today FEELS fall-like.  It is 83 degrees. 

Wait, did I just say that was fall-like?  Isn't fall supposed to threaten snow?  Isn't it supposed to be light-to-heavy jacket weather?  Shouldn't the pumpkins be ready?

Not anymore!  Now, the temp drops below 80...and I have turned on my little space heater in my office.  It gets chilly, peeps!  And the tree at the entrance to my development is dropping leaves.


When is YOUR start date for fall?  And what triggers it?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Eating Styles

I am a bored eater. 

And a procrastinator eater.

Figuring these two things out are the first steps to managing it.

Will someone help me figure out how to manage it?

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Top 10 Olympic Moments

The Hartman Household is FRENZIED over the Olympics.  WE LOVE THE OLYMPICS!!!

We have stayed up well past midnight - ALMOST EVERY NIGHT - over the last 2 weeks.  Last night they showed the "highlights" reel prior to the Closing Ceremonies.

Jeff and I grinned at each other: "Yep, we'd seen those already."

I don't think we missed a single 'highlights' moment this Olympics during the coverage.  And we also caught lots and lots of 'not-highlights' moments by virtue of Tivo-ing through 16 hours of programming per day.

So - although NBC has already done this I'm sure - without further ado, here are MY Top 10 Olympic moments. 

1.  McKayla Maroney's impeccable vault to literally vault the US Team into a great position on their first rotation.

2.  Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian ever.

3.  Misty and Kerri win their 3rd beach volleyball gold medal.
4.  USA Women's Swimming ROCKED.  Missy Franklin, Dana Vollmer, Rebecca Soni, Andrea Schmitt, Elizabeth Biesel, Katie Ledecky, Natalie Coughlin...I could go on but that's all I remember off the top of my head.

5.  USA Women's 4x100m Relay sets a new World Record.

6.  Kiran James exchanging bibs with Oscar Pistorius.

7.  The almost-upset of the American girl over the Chinese girl at Table Tennis

8.  Every match of the Indoor Volleyball team except the last 2 sets.

9.  Equestrian events are beautiful.  Even though I don't understand how to win.

10.  Gabby Douglas' triumph, wonderful story, her wonderful family and adopted family, and wonderful coach.  If only every 16 year old had a support system like that!
What was your FAVORITE moment?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Summer Vacation

After we returned from summer vacation at the end of July, it's been a whirlwind!  It was sooo nice to get back to the prairie. 

I just need to see wide open spaces.

And family.

Family from both sides.

And to see everyone come together to visit the farm :)

A once-a-year summer trip is ALWAYS necessary...back to South Dakota roots.  Because you can't get the dusty, windy, beef-eating, beer-drinking, good old Midwest America out of your soul.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Happy August

Sorry for the lack of posting in July.  I apparently decided to take a summer break and forgot to tell you all! 

While I was gone, here are the things you missed:

Fourth of July celebrations
Preparing to go on vacation
Returning from vacation

Ok, I know it doesn't seem like a big list, but Jeff and I both had an INCREDIBLY hard time preparing to be away from our offices for a whole week. 

The week before we left we both worked like crazy people.  But it paid off - neither of us had much of any email follow-ups or emergencies arise while we were spending quality time with our families.  So grateful!

The week after vacation was also crazy...both of us working well into the evening to 'catch up'. 

So I apologize for not writing.  I have also not tracked as well as I wanted to, not grocery shopped on time, and definitely have not been cooking at home much.  Or exercising much.  Or petting my kitty much.  Time to get back on track!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hello ACADIA!!!

Have I mentioned how hot it is?  Just kidding.  I know I have.

But you know who is NOT hot as much anymore?  Jeff.  This is because he has replaced this

With THIS!

I know they look similar (um, can you tell I like RED) - but believe me, they are not.

1.  The Acadia has air conditioning and a driver's side window that rolls down.
2.  The tires are not scary.
3.  It has a 3rd row of seating.
4.  The backseat has 2 full bucket seats.
5.  It's ready for any length road trip!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Overnight Oats

Since it's been SOOOO hot, who wants to have scrambled eggs, omelets, english muffin breakfast sandwiches, or hot oatmeal every morning?  Not me!  (But my original list sounds yummy, right?)

I've been making a cold version of oatmeal that requires zero cooking.  (I'm a master at this type of recipe.)

Enter Overnight Oats...

1/2 cup Silk Light Vanilla Soy Milk
1/2 cup Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
1 scoop chia seeds (Mila for me)
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 banana

Dump.  Stir.  Let sit in fridge overnight.  Stir again. EAT!

Obviously, you can modify with other fruits but it's a great way to use slightly ripe bananas...and no sugar.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My take on the heat

Remember when I said I don't mind the heat?  I LIED.  Atlanta is sucky hot.  It's so HAZY and HUMID and HARD TO BREATHE.

It makes me not want to do anything except stay inside, watch tv/movies, read, and play on the computer. 

Actually, it's kind of like winter in South Dakota.  Except with less snuggling under a blanket.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Busy Morning

I went in for my annual physical this morning.  I feel like I got put through the ringer!  Here are our the topics and things we went through:

Fasting blood work - including insulin resistance to see if it's improved (as well as PCOS).  Hopefully I'll get those results next week.

We discussed my Weight Loss and Exercise Plan - and the message was "keep going!!!!".

Referral to a real OB/GYN...since it typically takes 6 months to get in as a new patient.

And then after my physical I went in for my allergy shots (UGH they are itchy) and teeth whitening...

WHAT A MORNING!  No more poking and prodding for me for awhile (thankfully). 

What do you discuss with your doctor at your annual appointment? 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Crack Hos

I mean that in a totally positive way.  I mean, not a positive way FOR ME personally on my weight loss journey, but...ok, let me explain.

I am love with these 2 products.  I seriously CANNOT stay away from them if they are placed in front of me. 

Jake's Ice Cream Thrillah Vanilla

I ate like a whole cup of it today.  Without even blinking.  And then I went back for seconds.  And just a bit' o thirds.  I am estimating at least 6 points for this.

Why, why, why does this have to be such Kryptonite?  Another confessional.  I ate six - SIX - of these cookies today (granted, at 0.7oz per cookie) and that was like another FOURTEEN POINTS.

I feel AWFUL tonight.  My stomach and head hurt and I have felt yucky all afternoon.  And TWENTY POINTS OF JUNK later, I know exactly why.  But I'm telling you, these are delicious.  But for me, moderation is NOT possible therefore, I need to just say no next time.

(PS - Jeff says I have been writing about food too much so I have committed to not writing about food every day.  But I just had to share this one.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Recent Trip

I just had to share...I bought clothes at Dillard's yesterday.  A real, bona-fide department store.  And I bought more than just purses and make-up.

Guess what else.  I bought clothes.  That fit.  And were cute.  And fit really well.  Really, really well.

My favorite item purchased?  A bright, sunny, super cheerful yellow top that is shiny crochet with ponte sleeves.

Jeff's favorite item purchased?  A boatneck Ralph Lauren lavender knit top with cuffed 3/4 sleeves.

Those items, plus a few more tops, and two pairs of TWO SIZES SMALLER THAN THIS TIME LAST YEAR...means I'm ready to go on vacation in July!!!

When I actually get everything laundered, I'll post a photo.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bad Fiction

Do you ever pick up a book (or download it, in my case) and although you're pretty sure it sucks after ready the first 10 pages, you can't put it down?

Enter Fifty Shades of Grey.  I'm sure if you're female you've heard of it.  Men, you can stop reading here. 

The dialogue is clunky, the characters are only sort of developed, and there is an inordinate amount of time spent on things I tend to skip over (you know what I mean).

Also, my pet peeve is present - REPEATED PHRASES.  I hate that.  Especially in a trilogy.  Just because it's a new book doesn't mean you can repeat a phrase.  I WILL remember it from the book I just finished.  Ugh.  Annoying.

Anyway, for some reason, I have devoured the first 2 books of the Fifty Shades series even though I don't really like them.  I am just so curious about what will happen to the 2 main characters (will Leila find them and shoot them? will Jack make a pass at Ana? will they have a huge fight?). 

It's kind of like a train wreck.  Or an episode of Real Housewives.  So I guess I keep reading. 

I have a feeling that when I finish the final book I will still be unimpressed, yet probably glad I particpated in a pop culture phenomenon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On The Road

Guess what!  I get to travel today!!!

My new job (started March 2011) is WAY less travel than my old job which at first I was excited about...but that I've been away a year...I could travel a bit more.

Today's trip is to ORLANDO.  A fancy dinner tonight followed by a trade show tomorrow should be fun!  It's gonna be god-forsaken hot but I'm used to it by now.

And FYI, I will wear my ugliest - but comfyest - shoes.  At trade shows, even flats won't do.  I have lace-up, black leather, Rockport orthopedics.  And I'm not ashamed.

Bring it on, WBENC!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Time Management Confessional

I have been working out at the gym at work (!) 2-3 days a week over the lunch hour.  There are several classes I am in love with (hello Muscle Mayhem), and they are scheduled for 45 minutes.  This is perfect because you can change, go to class, and shower in an hour TOTAL and it's just like you were "out to lunch".

The problem is that I have never been a "lunch-taker".  Ever since entering the real world in 2004, I almost always, every day, bring my lunch and eat at my desk while working.  Occasionally, I'll go out to eat with colleagues for a special occasion or if we just need a break, but by and large I am a desk-eater.

Jeff helped me see that by going to class 2-3 times per week over lunch, I was really losing 2-3 hours of productvity I had previously depended on. 

Add that to the insane amount of workload and projects and special events and demands and everything else happening at work right now...and I'm behind.

I'm not majorly behind, but NOT performing at the level that I'm used to.

And I have a hard time saying no.  (Who's with me?) 

(By the way, my reasoning for saying "yes", is if I say "no" - the person is still going to do what they were going to do anyway and I will be STUCK WITH THE CONSEQUENCES without having had input.)

But I DO like my lunchtime ritual and break from work.  It's become really important to me.

The only options are to go to work earlier or stay later.  Staying later sucks (I already get home around 6:30PM), so I need to go work earlier.

So I made the decision.  I am committed to coming in early on Mondays and Thursdays. 

Guess what.  Today is Monday.  I came in 30 minutes early.

Eesh.  Not exactly what I had in mind.  But I guess I had to start somewhere?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Creative Substitutions

Here are some creative and not so creative food substitutions that I have found and really like - and incorporate into my routine pretty often! 
Coke -- Coke Zero -- Berry LaCroix Sparkling Water

2 cups of coffee -- 1 cup of coffee and 2 cups of Japanese green tea

Cracker Barrel cheddar cheese planks -- Reduced Fat Sargento cheddar cheese sticks

Betty Crocker brownies from a box -- Peanut Butter and Fudge Vita Tops

Coffee Mate French Vanilla liquid -- Light Vanilla Silk Soymilk

Ranch Dressing Veggie Dip -- Sabra Hummus 2oz cups

Microwave bacon -- Microwave TURKEY bacon

BBQ Kettle style Chips -- BBQ PopChips

Regular sliced bread -- Sara Lee Delightful Wheat Bread

I hope you consider one of these next time you're at the grocery store!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

This Week's Meal List

Plan, Plan, Plan.  It's just about the only way to REMAIN successful at this healthier-eating thing.

I have been making (mostly) hot breakfasts and fresh sack lunches in the morning for Jeff and me, but the dinners present a challenge.  I usually get home between 6 and 6:30PM and am STARVING and TIRED and think it's much EASIER to go out for dinner.

But, it's not as easy on my points, or on the wallet, to eat out that much.  So this week my goal is to cook at home all of our dinners.

Here's what's on my meal list this week, and I am preparing to go to the store to pick up ingredients for:

- Pulled Pork Sandwiches in the Crock Pot, with Tator Tots and Green Beans

- Beef Tacos with Fajita Fixin's & Rice

- Curried Chicken, Peas, and Potatoes (made with Greek yummy and easy)

- Baked Mahi Mahi with Mangos (for me) & Rice (for both)

- Moussaka in Minutes (NEW RECIPE!!!)

- Turkey Pepperoni Calzones

Pretty much everything on this list is between 7 and 12 Points Plus for one serving.  Hopefully I can get them all cranked out this week and meet my goal this week of COOKING DINNER AT HOME!!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Crock Pot Jerk Chicken Soup

Can't wait to share this SPICY and HOT Jerk Chicken Soup recipe!  It was originally a Weight Watchers recipe - but you know me, I always have to modify recipes to make them both easier and faster.

The original had a lot more combos of spices and was made with turkey...but mine still turned out yummy.  I will make a few modifications - so I'm sharing the modified-but-not-yet-tried version as I'm sure it will be better than my modified-first-try.

Crock Pot Jerk Chicken Soup
Serves 4: 5 PPV per serving

3 tsp McCormick Jerk Seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (I buy the large ones and it's about 2 pieces)

1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 medium uncooked onion
1 medium uncooked red bell pepper
1 medium uncooked green bell pepper
1 regular can of diced tomatoes (undrained) (fire-roasted with chilies if you like the heat)
1 regular can of lower sodium black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 cups lower sodium chicken broth

1 cup water (if want more soupy / less hot)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro from my deck herb garden :)

Coat the 2 whole chicken breasts with 1 tsp Jerk Seasoning (more if you like heat).  Let sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop up the 1 onion, 2 peppers, and garlic clove.

Spray or use 1 tsp Olive Oil in the bottom of the crock pot.  Place coated chicken breasts on the bottom, layer in the onion, then peppers, then garlic.  Dump in the black beans, then tomatoes, then chicken broth, then the remaining 1 tsp of Jerk Seasoning and pepper.

Cook on low 5-7 hours.  Shred the chicken before eating and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to soak up the brothy flavors. 

Garnish your bowl with fresh cilantro and enjoy!!!

If you want, you can add 1/2 cup rice 30 minutes before eating, but be sure to add the extra cup of water if you do that.  This will then be 7 PPV for the recipe.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Turn a Watermelon into a Keg

I love this whole article on Lifehacker.  So much, that I am posting it here in its entirety.

The perfect drink dispenser for your summer cocktail parties may actually be a watermelon. Serve punch, juice, or a real fruit cocktail in that giant melon.

For your watermelon-to-keg transformation, simply cut a lid at the top and scoop out the watermelon, then attach a spigot (available at beer making supply companies) via a hole you either drill into the melon or make with an apple corer.
KegWorks offers a watermelon sour recipe along with the keg-making instructions from The Food Network, while the National Watermelon Promotion Board has somewhat more detailed instructions.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

#1 Tip for Feeling Rested

I came across an article recently that had some great tips for feeling rested.  They were all great grab a coffee, take a walk, distract yourself with chit chat for 5 minutes...

But none compares to my recent experience.

My #1 Tip?  Take a nap.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

We had such a great time this weekend - started camping on Thursday at Vogel State Park and didn't come home till Monday.

Our favorite campsite is at a secluded area of the park, at the end of a 4-campsite cul-de-sac with Direct Trail Access.

After grocery shopping and packing the car on Thursday morning, we finally got started on the 2.5 hour drive to the North Georgia Mountains.  After arrival, we had our pick of campsites - people didn't really start pouring in until Friday so it was a blessedly quiet Thursday afternoon and evening.

On Thursday night, we did have a bit of a mis-hap.  I had to pee in the middle of the night (of course).  One of the reasons I like our secluded spot is it allows for NOT walking down the hill to the bathrooms (ie, peeing outside).  However, I did not remember there was such a STEEP DROP OFF behind the tent...I put my leg down to step and all I got was air. 

By that time I was already off-balance and tumbled down the hill (NO, we do NOT have a picture of that)...but not before twisting my ankle, bruising my leg, and landing on my knee (it swelled up big time). 

But - I was not SO injured as we couldn't do our planned actvities on Friday.  Which included hiking the Bear Hair Trail. 
Let me explain to you the premise behind Bear Hair: it goes up, then it comes down.  Two and a half miles up, two and a half miles down.  Simple, right?

Except I had BAD BAD BAD memories of it from last year. 

This was the first trail I ever hiked.  Now, being a kid from the farmland prairie, I thought hiking was akin to walking down a gravel road.  Flat-ish, straight, not too hard.  So last year my prairie naivete strapped on my Asics and said, "Yeah, let's try it!"

In short, I was ill-prepared.  I had to take like a thousand breaks and my freaking feet hurt so bad because tennies are not made for hiking on rocks and oh my god I hated it and it sucked so bad and it was hot and I got bit by a million mosquitos and I was not having any fun at ALL.

But after many hiking miles behind me, months of training, and 50 lbs lighter on my feet...look how much fun I'm having!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I KICKED IT'S BUTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (Actually, after later reflection - and time for my muscles to stiffen up - I would call it a draw.)
In any case, we still had energy to go swimming in the lake on Friday afternoon, and had a huge fire on Friday night. 

We did have the worst camping neighbors next door though.  A huge group with 15+ kids came in and were noisy until after midnight and began clanging pots at 6am.  I was SO NOT IMPRESSED.  It's the first and only time we have ever complained to a campground host about reinforcing the quiet hours. 
And then my air mattress got a hole in it.  I woke up on the ground.  We did not have a repair kit.  Nor an extra.  Jeff fixed it with duct tape and it kind of worked till around 5AM. 
Since Friday night's sleep was not super long or restful we nixed our hike for Saturday morning...and went to Wal-Mart instead for a new air mattress.  On the way there was a really cute arts & crafts fair (Mom, they had those bears you've been eyeballing) that we just had to swing by.
Our busy morning was followed by an afternoon of swimming!!!  The lake was super busy but it was fun...except Jeff and I BOTH got nipped by a FISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sunday we had more hiking - did almost 3 miles into the Coosa Backcountry Trail and came across this PRIMO photo spot. 

Jeff rigged up a set of hiking poles to serve as a camera tripod so we actually got a photo together!!!!!!  Then we had to hike almost 3 miles back out.  (Our "after" shot was not so cute.)

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Faux Healthy

This product is on my SHIT LIST.

Mostly because they (the company) have TRICKED me into thinking they are HEALTHY when they are NOT.

I like to call this the beginning of my FAUX-HEALTHY list of f*ckers.

Odwalla Chewy Nut Bar White Chocolate Macadamia

Packaging says "crunchy nuts & hearty oats" and "Good Source of Five Essential Vitamins & Minerals including Antioxidant Vitamins A, C, & E.

Guess what folks.  TWO HUNDRED AND TEN CALORIES.  That sucks

Guess what else.  TEN GRAMS OF FAT.  That sucks even more.

And - only 3 grams of Protein and 2 grams of Fiber. 

Here is what I should have had instead: Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie.

Why?  Because it's delicious.  And incredibly indulgent.  And I am making a CHOICE to be unhealty (not a sneak attack of unhealthy)...and even still, it's 170 calories and 7 grams of fat...BOTH LESS than the Odwalla bar.

Consider me smarter than yesterday.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

We Played Too Hard.

This weekend's report:
Friday night - worked late, then Domino's, then John Carter of Mars
-- We stayed up way past our bedtime.  Not a great way to start a busy weekend, being tired, but awesome to relax for a night!

Saturday morning - not an early morning as planned (got up at 8:30), then left for the Delta Block Party
-- The Block Party is really like Delta's "Company Picnic"...if you were to have a picnic for 10,000 people.  It's really more like a fair - bands playing on the center stage, Chick-Fil-A / BBQ / Hot Dogs / Ice Cream / Mini-Donuts / Veggie Trays / Apple and Pineapple on a Stick...and on and on.

-- It is usually incredibly hot.  It's held in our giant parking lot.  On asphalt.  Next to the tarmac.  And it's HOT.  This year not as much as other years but...still sunburn worthy (Jeff, not me, because I put on SPF 100). 

-- The Block Party is also known as "The Easy-Bake Oven Party" and also "The Delta Stand-In-Line Party".  Everything is free - food, swag, entertainnent, beer, whatever.  As long as you will stand in line for it.

-- It was super awesome to meet a lot of my coworkers families...and I still would never miss it!

Saturday afternoon - COOL OFF, rehydrate, recoup, nap

Saturday evening - Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean concert at Lakewood Amphitheater
-- Dude.  Two Georgia boys playing for the hometown crowd plus an outdoor venue that's a freaking free-for-all of lawn seating (ie, no chairs)?  Wow. 

-- Dude part 2.  Can we say D-R-U-N-K????  Not me of course.  I held it down to a respectable 2 cans of beer (seen below).

--  Yes, they were 24 ounces each.  No, I am not drinking Bud Heavy on purpose.  It was either lukewarm Bud Light (because they ran out!?!?) or cold Bud Heavy.

--  Also, I am wearing my new outfit for summer.  Aren't I CUTE (and 50 lbs smaller)????

Sunday morning - holy crap, exhausted and slept till 9:30, then mowing, weed-eating, fertilizing, tending vegetable garden
-- One, yard work after a late night kind of really sucks. 

-- And two, I'm glad Jeff and I were both doing it together.

Sunday afternoon - neighborly chat, Mexican fiesta lunch, and a few errands

Sunday night - pet the kitty and Game of Thrones
--  I'm spent!!!  I need a vacation from my weekend.  Bring on the work week.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Something like sickness

Bleh.  Caught a cold.  And it's moved into my chest.


2 and a half days of missed work - it's sacrilege.  And there was even an overnight work trip to Chicago I had to miss (sorry Amy).

Here's what I have learned in my delirium:

1) Life at work will go on without me (although it may be painful for those still at work, picking up my slack).

2) Slurping NyQuil and DayQuil to make symptoms go away does not actually mean you are getting better.

3) Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup are NOT overrated, AND can be made points-friendly.

4) Tazo Green Tea is not real green tea.  Do not be tricked.  (My quest for real Japanese green tea continues.)

5) Spouses still love each other when they're sick, but much slack must be given to the non-sick one...they are, after all, trying NOT to catch whatever you have.

Points-Friendly Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Cold Cure
3 points - 1/2 can Progresso Vegetable Classics Hearty Tomato Soup
2 points - 2 slices Sara Light Delightful Wheat Bread
2 points - 2 slices Kraft Free American cheese (sliced)
1 point  - 1 tbsp Country Crock margarine spread

Total Lunch: 8 points...full tummy + DayQuil = NAP TIME

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Hike Inn

Did I mention hiking is our new "Thing"?  We got last-minute reservations last weekend at the Hike Inn outside Dawsonville, GA.  I have been wanting to go for over a year, but never though I was in good enough shape to do it.  After losing almost 50 lbs, we decided to try it!

After starting at the top of Amicalola Falls, we split off for a moderate 5.5-mile hike with 1000 feet of elevation change.  Our destination was the Hike Inn, a Gold LEED facility (think composting toilets, solar panels, and worms that eat kitchen scraps). 

And here is what greeted us at the end:

This wonderful little gem had hot showers and yummy meals waiting for us after a fun day outdoors...much better than sleeping in a tent in the backcountry!

The meals were AWESOME - roast beef, mashed potatoes, buns, salad, roasted veggies, cherry cobbler at dinner.  Then scrambled eggs, bacon, peach bread, grits, OJ, and coffee for breakfast.  WAY better than what we can do while camping.

Our bunkhouse room had single bunk beds, hooks, a fan, and a little stool - that's it.  Oh, and you re-use your mug and cup the entire time (see, it's labeled with your name!).

There is a Sunrise Room, a common room with games, books, guitars, cards, etc.  Jeff and I tried to play checkers.  We couldn't remember the rules though - and since it's a no cell phone facility, we had to give up (normally you would just Google the rules, right?).

 Star Base was constructed so the spring and fall equinox shine directly through that little hole into the back of the cave.  Very cool.

All the buildings - bunkhouse, bathhouse, mess hall, sunrise room, and check-in area - are all connected by covered walkways.

Which was a good thing - because although you can't see it here, we are getting ready to take off on Sunday morning for the 5.5-mile hike back.  In the absolutely POURING rain.  And 55 degrees.

Thus, this was our last photo of the trip as we didn't want to get the camera out in the rain!!!  We set a personal best time to hike 5.5 miles - 2 hours and 45 minutes...guess a little rain incentivized us.

We've already booked some rooms for the fall colors in mid-October.  Lois, and a few of her friends will be joining us...let us know if you would like to do it too and we'll add you to the block!!!