Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Snapshot - State Fair!

I've been shamelessly trying to get Lexi to fall in love with Minnesota. We've had pretty good weather so far - if not a little hot and sticky - so that is a bonus.

This weekend I dragged took her to the Minnesota State Fair. Now I love the fair, the people, the exhibits, the animals, the food--oh the food. Every year. Even if I have to go by myself. I admit I'm a little crazy. But it is a great fair. And I got to introduce Lexi to her first deep fried cheese curds (from the Mouse Trap in the food building, of course) and some amazing mini donuts. We also found some animals, both in the barns and on the midway :-) and listened to Rush from outside the Grandstand. My timing was off and we missed the butter heads and milkshakes in the Dairy building but there's still another week...

We also scored tickets to the Vikings preseason game against the Seahawks. Seats were upper deck but pretty good and we won! It wasn't as loud as the end of the season games. Hopefully we can go to one of those games to get the full effect of the Metrodome.

Today we got to sleep in, well ok, she got to sleep in and I got to get up to let Princess Riley out (and in, and out, and in). Then a nice walk for coffee and then some browsing at Target and the Container Store to see what kind of storage options one has for a tiny living space. Lexi moves out on Wednesday and I'm very excited for her! We only had a few weeks to live together and I'm definitely going to miss her being here. Her new place is going to be perfect for her, I hope she loves it!

Check out the other snapshots over at Ni Hao Y'all...

Ni Hao Y'all

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Snapshot - 8/22/10

We needed to record the proof that we are doing well and not having just popcorn and cereal for dinner!

Today Lexi and I picked up some great produce at the farmer's market. We mixed up some red potatoes, carrots and onion with garlic and rosemary. I marinated a flank steak with Dave's tri-tip marinade and grilled it. We also mixed up some of Kathleen's mango habanero salsa (although we use a bit less pepper than she does).

We will shortly be enjoying a rustic berry pie with the last call blueberries (amazing), raspberries and strawberries. And ice cream of course.

It's a fitting celebration meal I think as tomorrow Lexi starts college. You rock Lexi! Now I need a nap...

Check out the other snapshots over at Ni Hao Y'all...

Ni Hao Y'all

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Before/After Blog Hop 8/19/10

I spent some time in the garden last weekend. Quite a bit of time actually. My fingers are still sore from pulling out ground cover. For this week's Before and After, I've got two sets of photos.

The first shows my existing hosta garden, which had some weeds and shadows and crud in the bird bath (can't seem to keep up with the crud!).
So I took to Photoshop and brightened, added some saturation and weeded! Love that virtual weeding!The second set of Before and After is not a virtual one. I neglected to take a before shot so the first shot is from last fall. The ground cover has dramatically taken over since it was taken so it's not a real comparison. You get the basic idea anyway.
In the after shot, it sure doesn't seem like much but that whole hill was covered in green until I started pulling. It took a few hours and six bags of mulch but I carved out the beginnings of my reclamation of the hill for planting. Whew. I've long been a hater of hosta, knowing only the sad, overgrown, plain versions lining the sidewalks of neglected houses nearby. Lately I've discovered they are pretty cool! So many interesting varieties to choose from that I think eventually that hill will be a good showcase for them.
Here's a close up of the new and old hostas in the new plantings. I picked up Ivory Coast, Francee, Paradise Power and one other I can't remember now at Savory's Gardens which is a local place that I discovered recently. It's not the cheapest place to buy a hosta but WOW do they have a cool selection! And be sure to check out the garden in the back. Amazing.
Check out the other Before and After photos at Pixel Perfect!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One Year All Clear!

Today I visited my wonderful oncologist for my one year checkup following surgery, chemo and radiation. Technically I finished on the August 23rd, 2009 but what's a few days among friends, right? I tried not to be stressed out about it but it's pretty difficult to not think about what could happen. Even though I know there's a very good chance nothing bad will happen. I guess I'll never look at a doctor's visit without a little more butterflies than I did before it all went south.

But without any fanfare and only one little needle poke for lab work, I heard 'normal, normal, normal'. Gotta love being 'normal' for at least something in life! Looking back, it was a long summer of doctors and driving and needles (ugh) and then it was over. Just like that. In the blink of an eye. I wish I had started my blog before treatment because I've forgotten so much about what it felt like to go through it all (yes Susan, you're right again). But then again, I'm not sure I could ever be as eloquent as others I've followed like Suburban Matron. I remember bits and pieces. Like wondering how bad it was going to get and then finding out it wasn't as bad as I had imagined in my head. Not that it was wine and chocolates but it wasn't months of bed rest either.

I remember feeling off. And so tired it was like someone opened a hole in the bottom of my feet and drained every ounce of energy out. Not sleepy, just not. I remember driving. a. lot. Not only for doctor's visits and chemo treatments but 35 days of radiation (but not on the weekends because cancer doesn't grow on the weekends, duh) and the nice lady who ran the ticket booth most days. She tried to learn all of our names and usually got it right! Sadly, her name is one of the things I've forgotten. Also, all of the wonderful nurses who swept in and got me breathing again when my body decided that Taxotere would just. not. do. Debra, who came over with groceries and Connie who drove me home after said non-breathing chemo event. And all my friends who walked, ran and biked for the cause, you rock!

My treatments were all done at the Frauenshuh Cancer Center which had just recently opened. The treatment rooms all look out onto what was to become a healing garden. When I was there it was dirt. Then it was dirt with a tree. Then trees, shrubs and still dirt. Finally, right around the time of my last radiation treatment it was done. It's beautiful and I hope that it helps the people in those same treatment chairs rest a little easier. I took some pictures today because it was too nice of a day to forget.

And now, my one year all clear happens to fall on the same day as my five month marker of wait time for my referral. Two very good reasons to celebrate I think! It's all about getting on with life and man am I ready.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Snapshot - 8/14/10

For the past week I've had a wonderful house guest. My beautiful cousin Lexi has decided to venture east from California to attend college in Minneapolis. While she gets her housing situated, she stays with me. I'm so happy to have her here and so excited for her to start this grand adventure! She's already found a place to live and today is her first day on her new job. School starts next week so she'll be busy! I hope she comes to love Minnesota as much as we do and maybe even decides to stay on after school. It's a lot to ask of a native Californian, I know.

Congratulations Lexi, you rock!

Check out the other snapshots over at Ni Hao Y'all...

Ni Hao Y'all

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

National Night Out

So I was too busy talking to the neighbors I never seem to see on regular days that National Night Out passed by without any pictures. The cupcakes weren't all gone but some were eaten. (the remaining ones were devoured quickly at work this morning though) Here's the recipe from The Cake Doctor or more specifically The Cupcake Doctor...

Lemonade Angel Cakes with Creamy Lemonade Frosting

1 pkg (16oz) angel food cake mix
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup thawed frozen lemonade concentrate
Creamy Lemonade Frosting (below)
16 lemon drops, crushed

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. IMPORTANT NOTE: Use light colored pans because dark ones will burn and your house will smell like burnt sugar for days! (that's what I heard anyway)

2. Place the cake mix, water and lemonade concentrate in a large mixing bowl (note the 'large' - the mix expands as it mixes together). Blend with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. Place pans in oven.

3. Bake cupcakes until golden and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 20 to 22 minutes. Remove pans from oven to wire racks, cool 5 minutes. Remove cups from pans and place on racks, cool 15 minutes before frosting.

4. Place heaping tablespoon of frosting on each cupcake and spread with spatula to cover top completely. Sprinkle with crushed lemon drops. Makes 24ish

Creamy Lemonade Frosting

1 package (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter
3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
3 Tbsp thawed lemonade concentrate
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Place butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Blend with electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Add sugar, lemonade concentrate and zest. Blend on low speed until sugar is incorporated, 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more.

Doesn't that sound easy?

My frosting came out a bit more glaze-like than I liked but it could be because I substituted reduced fat cream cheese. Or I could have added more sugar I suppose. In any case they were delicious.

And maybe everyone who makes cupcakes knows this trick but the ice cream scoop is perfect for portioning out the cupcake batter! Just the right amount and the little metal lever drops it out without a mess. Why didn't I know this sooner?

Next time I think I will use margarita concentrate or maybe some other fancy lemonade flavor. Yummy.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Snapshot 8/1/10

Getting ready for National Night Out on Tuesday with Lemonade Angel Cakes with Creamy Lemonade Frosting. I hope they are as good as they sound!

**update: They do taste delicious, if you don't look at the bottom of the cupcake. Yes, dark pans really do make a difference. Unfortunately the house smells like burnt sugar and the bottoms of half of the cupcakes are black. ugh. The ones baked in the light pans are great!

Check out the other snapshots over at Ni Hao Y'all...

Ni Hao Y'all