Tuesday, December 29, 2009


My 28th birthday started out with lots of pain as my lower back has decided that after 2 years of not having severe spasms it was time to start again. My back has been hurting for a few days, but last night and this morning were unbarable. I've left my prescription meds at home, so Dave thought that one of those wrap around heat things that stick to you might work...and it did! I've had one on for 8 hours and it's still hot! I'm super impressed and am thinking of buying stock.

Anyway, I'll give you the full b-day update along with pictures of the Romans baths soon!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

We had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend! We had these lovely people over for Thanksgiving dinner and games - speed dice Monopoly is the best!

From the left: Vicky, Warren, Dave, Reece, and Grace.

And we got out our Christmas decorations and spruced up the house with Noel in every corner.

This picture doesn't do the tree justice, but what's a girl to do.
While gearing up for the holiday season it has become abundantly clear that Dave and I have very different ethos when it comes to decorating a Christmas tree. Dave is incredible picky about the tree and all decorations MUST match (this is a bit of a shocker as he is laid back and generally doesn't have a strong opinion on decorating, but apparently Christmas decorations get him all worked up.) and I think that a tree should reflect you and your families history. I want personal decorations almost exclusively and Dave would rather have the tree in the store front window. There were some tense moments at the store and a few at home as well, but we have come up with a solution if our tree decorating needs become more incompatible in the future: we're getting two trees - one for me and one for Dave. It was his suggestion and, though I was slightly offended at first, I've decided that it might be the way forward.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thankful on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in England is a small affair.

Actually, it's non-existent.

Everyone goes to work as normal and no one eats turkey.

This year I'm not having Thanksgiving dinner until Sunday so that a couple of friends could come over and we could eat our way through the day, but on Thanksgiving I took pumpkin pie into the office for everyone to try. It is a hit and everyone loved it! I added some maple flavoring to the whipped cream and it was amazing!

Even though it didn't feel like Thanksgiving everyone at work tried to make it special. On Wednesday I went out with a few girls after work to celebrate birthdays and Thanksgiving. I made them a quiz all about Thanksgiving and they loved it! And then they gave me a card and a little gift to help me celebrate. How sweet is that? And then at the office on Thursday I got another card and everyone stopped by especially to say "Happy Thanksgiving".

So even though it wasn't a "normal" Thanksgiving, it was still lovely. It makes me thankful for where I am and who God has given me as friends. And I got to talk to the fam on the phone and wish Jon a happy birthday. All in all, a pretty good day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Apple Cinnamon Candles

I love the smell of cinnamon in the fall. It's warm and cozy and makes me want Christmas to come even sooner.
We have an apple cinnamon candle and I'm slightly obsessed with it.
I kind of want to eat it.
Is that bad?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I have cute sisters

We had an absolutely wonderful time together and here are a few pics to illustrate!

Amy, Corrie and I outside Shakespears house.

Warwick Castle

Corrie can't get the sword out of the stone.

I miss them. Come visit again soon!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

They're here!

Corrie and Amy arrived safe and sound this morning! Yippy! The passport control man did NOT want to let them in, but eventually they pursuaded him that they were NOT illegally immigrating and he let them in.
I kept them awake all day and we ended up walking down Ecclesall Road to the Botanical Gardens and then had a drink at Nonna's. It was an absolutely beautiful day for them to arrive! The drink over Snake Pass from Manchester was gorgeous. Though, on a side note, we did see a car that had driven off the road into a pond and was just sitting there with its nose in the water. No one was in it and it looked like they had just decided to leave it there.
Corrie and I made pizza while Dave and Amy played some Mario Kart. I sort of got Amy to eat vegetables on her pizza, so I feel like we're making progress!
I kept Corrie awake until 8pm when she went to bed and Amy stayed up and watched the X-Factor with us. They are sleeping soundly now.
Tomorrow we're heading down towards Warwick and Stratford. I'm really excited!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beautiful Sunday Afternoon

It is absolutely gorgeous today! And I'm so happy I'm not at work and actually get to enjoy it.
We went to church and out to lunch with Kat, Chris, Clare, and Jenny and then came home and worked outside. I cleared out a bit of the garden and worked for quite some time to get a few giant parsnip out of the ground while Dave vacuumed out the car in anticpation of Corrie and Amy's arrival on Saturday. I think I might have caught a little bit of sun!
I've convinced Dave to go running in a little while and it's now time to enjoy a wonderful Sunday afternoon.
Oh, and the last of the audition show of the X-Factor is on tonight! I can't wait!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm a sucker for the X-Factor

At the moment, I cry every time I watch the X-Factor auditions. Seriously, I cried twice during the show last night. I'm pretty sure Dave thinks it pathetic, but he has told me it's okay since they are real people. And apparently it's okay to cry when the stories are real - fortunately, we haven't watched any sad movies recently. There are only 2 more audition shows before the live performances, so I should be okay after that. Luckily, Britain's Got Talent doesn't start again until next year, so I'll have a break from crying at reality television shows for a few months. I need it!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Food and Run Fun

I made whole wheat bread last week and it turned out to be the best loaf I've made yet! I like making bread, but it takes more time than I would like. I should convince Dave that we need a bread maker.

These are the first tomatoes from our garden. They were fantastic!

I also make a quiche and it turned out pretty well. It was a tomato and zuccini, but I think if I make it again I'll change it a bit.

The Great Yorkshire 10k Run was today and it went very well. I hadn't been training for it specifically, but I paced myself and finished in about 50 minutes. I'm going to check the official results tonight! This is post race in the Peace Gardens in the city center. The atmosphere at this run was really great! There were 8,000 people participating and then a load of people cheering us on. Everything was buzzing and that made it a lot of fun! There were also about 5 or 6 bands playing along the route! The music was uplifting and it was fun to see what the next band would be. All in all, fantastic!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Summer Foods

I love food in the summer! Everything is fresh and has so much flavor! This has become my new favorite meal: Baked Salmon, Corn on the Cob, and Brown Rice, Feta, and Broccoli Salad! Love it! The recipe for the salad is easy and it makes a really good lunch for the next day.

Brown Rice, Feta, & Broccoli Salad
Serves 2 - prep time is about 20 minutes
1 cup dry brown rice, cooked & cooled
A good handful of broccoli (and I added sugarsnap peas because they were on sale!) steamed and cooled
1/3 cup of pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 handful of parsley, roughly chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 green onions, finely sliced
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP lemon juice

Once the hot ingredients cool, stir together along with feta, pumpkin seeds, herbs, tomatoes, and green onions. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

It's super easy and really good! Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I have recently moved jobs and offices at Sheffield Hallam University and there is a sign in the bathroom is causing me some confusion.

It reads:

"Please wash your hands before and after using the toilet."

Why in the world do I need to wash my hands BEFORE using the toilet? In this day and age of conservation, it seems to me that this is a bit of a waste not only of resources but of my time.

What if you're pressed on time? Surely washing them after using the toilet is the key hand washing time.

So far, I have NOT heeded the advice to washed my hands before using the toilet, but I'll let you know if I do!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Snail Hunting

Dave and I planted some celery and zucchini in our garden. A friend at work gave me and I planted them about six weeks ago. I was super impressed because they were growing very quickly and looked nice and green. I am quite attached to them and check on them on a daily basis.

You can imagine my horror in discovering that snails were attacking the celery and ate one of them entirely! Why my celery? Why not the beautiful weeds growing next to them? Growing up in Kansas I don't remember ever having snails. Do we have snails, mom? I obviously don't know how to get rid of them. And they are slimy and they spit juice at you when you try to pick them up. Sick!

The morning I discovered one hanging from the leaves of my zucchini plant, I knew something HAD to be done.

My plan: hunt for snails and keep hunting for them until I wipe them off the face of the earth.

(On a side note: I have decided it's okay to wipe them off the face of the earth because so far I haven't found anything that they are actually good for. If you know of something they are good for, please let me know quickly before they are gone forever.)

The first hunt was an overwhelming success! Dave and I plucked at least 100 large, medium, and baby snails from underneath rocks, the bottom of leaves, and the side of walls. I hate touching their ugly shells, but at least they have something hard to pick them up by. It was oddly satisfying to go dump them far away from my garden and tell them never to return. I have gone hunting a couple other times since and always come up with 20 or 30 more snails to relocate to a place that doesn't grow vegetable.

You'll be happy to know that my celery has made a stunning recovery except for the one that was entirely devoured by the evil snails. Though this is good news, I am staying vigilant as their seems to be a never ending supply of them. I don't understand. How do they reproduce? If anyone knows the answer to this question OR has any good tips on keeping snails away, please let me know.

For now the hunt continues...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Whole Wheat Pancakes

I love these pancakes! Mostly because I don't feel bad about eating them, but also because they are good!

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 1/3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Mix the egg, milk, salt, and brown sugar together. Then add the flour and baking powder and mix just until the flour is mixed in. If the batter is too thick, add a bit more milk but stop before it gets runny. Add blueberries, bananas, nuts, or anything that strikes your fancy!

Makes 6 medium sized pancakes or as I made this morning...3 medium and 2 large pancakes!

Lovely Rainy Saturdays

Don't get me wrong...Sunny Saturdays are much better than rainy ones, but there is something nice about a rainy Saturday. There isn't as much pressure to get up and do things and get outside because the sun might disappear. Why do a load of laundry when it won't dry inside for about 3 days? Why mop the floor when the next time you walk in from outside it will just get all gross again? You might as well catch up on some good ol' R'n'R.

Today is a perfect example:

- Got up at 9:30am which is the latest I've stayed in bed in months.
- Made whole wheat pancakes and eggs and drank 2 cups of coffee.
- The finished it off by sitting on the couch reading for 2 hours before doing this!

And the best part about it is - I don't feel guilty at all about not doing the laundry, cleaning the house, and going running! The sun hasn't made an appearance from behind the clouds yet and it is still raining quite steadily, so I am obliged to enjoy it!

I do think that the next few hours will involve an exercise video, a shower, and figuring out what to wear to a wedding reception this evening...but that is about it.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Thankful...for hand-dryers

It has been pouring rain all day and all night.
I was dreading my walk to work.
30 minutes in the rain...gross.

But hand-dryers make all the difference! I got to work with jeans that were soaking wet and spent 10 minutes in the bathroom drying myself with the hand-dryers! I got some weird looks, but I was dry by the end of it!

So, whoever invented hand-dryers...I thank you!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Who needs falafel when you've got this?

This is my new summer favorite! It's light but filling and sometimes we have new potaoes on the side too. I've made it 2 weeks in a row and it will probably stay in my weekly line up for a while.

Mediterranean salad with chickpea patties: serves 2 - 4

1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp cumin
kosher salt and pepper
2 TBSP floor
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup low-fat greek yogurt
3 TBSP lemon juice
mixed greens
grape tomatoes
small red onion thinly sliced
pita chips

> In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, cilantro, garlic, cumin, salt & pepper just until coarsely chopped and the mixture comes together when gently squeezed. Form into eight 1/2 inch-thick patties and coat with flour, tapping off access.
> Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the patties, turning carefully, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
> In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Divide the greens, tomatoes, onions, and chickpea patties among the plates. Drizzle with dressing and serve with pita chips.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I would like a side of nerves wtth that, please.

Sheffield Half Marathon...13.1 miles full of hills. Eek!

I'm sure everything will be fine. I'm good at hills. But I am super nervous.

I'm afraid I'll get caught up in the whole atmosphere and take off running fast and then I'll get to 10 miles and collapse. How awful.

Or what if I take off too slowly and then I'm hours behind my target time and I cross the finish line crying? Ugh.

I'm sure it will be fine...I hope.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I Gave My Sea Legs Backs

I have an unfounded fear of the sea.

I've never had a bad experience in the water. I love lakes and rivers, but the ocean scares the living daylights out of me.

It's so big. The bottom is so far down. It has high tides and low tides. Things like tsunami happen in the ocean. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night freaking out about living in England because it's an island. Ahhh! Kansas is so safe from the ocean. I can handle tornadoes, floods, and other land based weather phenomenons. But the ocean is more than I can handle.

My in-laws live right on the edge of the sea. They find it hilarious that I am scared of the water. My father-in-law, Chris, loves to sail. His dad was a commander of a naval ship, so the sea is in his blood. It is funny that with my deathly fear of the ocean I married into a family that loves it.

Chris and Dave put the sailboat back together over Easter after it spent the winter in the shed. This meant that we had to have an maiden voyage of 2009 while we were visiting. I force myself to get out on the water despite fearing a tsunami every time I'm out there. My last experience of going out on the water made me seasick for 4 hours after we were back on land, but the weather was calm and Chris assured me that the water was too.

We were out for what seemed like ages. Eva and I engaged in meaningful glances that conveyed our desire to be on land once more, but the boys were oblivious. I gave steering a go which distracted my from my dramatic feeling that I might never walking on land again. My fingers got cold while steering and I couldn't cross them. I feared that this might be permanent if I didn't get to land quickly. Only Eva seemed concerned.

Finally, after 4 1/2 hours of being out on the open water, Dave dropped Eva and I off at the pontoon and we shakily made our way onto stable, wonderful land.

I've decided that though I am losing a bit of fear of the ocean, I don't love it.


Monday, April 6, 2009

I Love Bran Muffins!

This is my new favorite snack! They are amazing right out of the oven and they stay fresh for 3 -4 days.

Classic Bran Muffins (from Allrecipes.com)

1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or applesauce!)
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 - 1 cup fruit or nuts - fresh cranberries are fantastic in this recipe!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
Mix together wheat bran and buttermilk; let stand for 10 minutes.
Beat together oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and add to buttermilk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, until just blended. Fold in raisins and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Competitive? Nah, I just like to win.

I have always been under the impression that everyone is competitive.

Growing up in a family that cheats at Spoons and having a husband that would chew off his arm to win has led me to believe that this is normal.

As I walk 25 minutes to work everyday, I encounter many of the same people and I play a little game to keep things interesting. I try to pass as many people as possible. Normally, I pass quite a few people. I think this is due to them not understanding that there is a game going on around them, but it might also be because I'm faster.

Every once in a while, I encounter someone who plays the game with me.

Last week is a prime example...

I first caught up to this woman on a flat part of my walk after walking up a long hill. She seemed like someone who would be easy enough to pass and I sped up that little extra to pass her. She must have sensed someone behind her because she sped up as well. I followed right behind her, but this woman was flying! How annoying. Just let me pass you. This is my game! I'm meant to win!

She stayed ahead of me until we reached a crossing and had to stop to wait for the little green man to give us the go ahead. I would have gone before the green man showed up, but there was a lot of traffic. When he did appear, I sped off and made it across the street before her and started down the hill.

Then, to my horror, she passed me!

If she wanted a race, I would give her one.

But she flew down that hill and I couldn't catch up. I walked as fast as my silver flats could carry me, but it wasn't enough to catch her. Luckily, we reached Ecclesall Road and had to stop. I cut across the first lane of traffic while she went to the crosswalk, but we met again in the middle as traffic was too thick to make a run for it before she caught up to me. I was close to work and only had one last hill to beat her. I was ready to race!

I flew across the road and started practically running up the hill. I wasn't looking back. I had to win! It would be a shame to lose at my own game!

When I made it to the top of the hill, I saw her half way down and smiled with satisfaction. I still hurried that last 100 yards to work just in case, but I had won. Hill sprints had finally paid off. Never mind the fact that I arrived at work red in the face - I had beaten her!

I shared my success story with my fellow student support co-workers wanting their congratulations, but found that everyone thought I was the weird one.

It was then I realized that not everyone is as competitive as I am, but maybe they should be.