Starting Out 2015

I’ve never been good with resolutions. Hell, last year I made a massive list to accomplish, places I/us wanted to go, and habits I wanted to acquire. It was a ridiculous list! I don’t know if I did a single one of the things I typed up, printed off, and then proceeded to lose in my mess of an office. Way to start 2014.

All was not lost. I did knock out a 5k on New Year’s Day on 01/01/14, the Commitment Day Race organized by the gym I used to attend. And I froze my beautiful plus-sized booty off that day. It was 22* outside with wind howling…I swear I saw snowflakes. I almost broke my ass on a piece of ice on the trail as well! I finished the race, my feet were killing me (plantar fasciitis), and I felt great when I was done but I couldn’t feel my cheeks–either set.

New Year 2015

 

So what am I going to do for 2015?

I’m calling it 2015 Changes instead of resolutions because resolutions are just meant to be broken, right? Live healthy and live well. That’s it! Do more, move more, and cook more. Very general, but that’s what it is.

Do More

I’ve been working on a list of places to visit here in our new part of the state and can’t wait to explore them. One of those places is going out into the forest with the animals, and crazies that may run around, and go camping. I’m a little freaked. I’ve been told by many to not worry, it’s beautiful, it’s quiet, and I’ll enjoy it. But I can’t get out of my mind that there’s a mountain lion stalking us from the brush or we’ll happen upon some mountain hermit who thinks we’re with the government and he’ll go ape shit on us. Yeah, I’m paranoid. Fact. And I’ve watched too many of those Dateline/60 Minutes type shows about freak incidents, murders, and disappearances.

Move More

So if I make it out of the woods I’ll continue my healthy life changes that I’ve made. Since moving into the new house in November I’m down six pounds and my pants fit better. I have a long way to go, but I’m taking it ten pounds at a time. There’s no other way to do it. A recent find was a free app I use in the morning to get myself up and at ‘em. The 7 Minute app is put out by the New York Times and I love it. Very basic, you set up how long you workout, and when you use their recommended setup you’ll have a mini workout done in seven minutes. Will this shed all my weight ha no, but it will set up a routine for myself that I need.

Cook More

I’ve cooked up a storm in this new house and I thoroughly enjoy it. Throughout most of our marriage my husband has been the one who cooks. He’s good at it, doesn’t need recipes due to his own little mental cookbook, and it comes easy to him. Me, not so much. I never actually learned to cook as a youngin’ and have tried to dabble a little over the years; however, I tend to get extremely frustrated. Burned the garlic, over cooked the pork, ingredients not ready when you need to throw them in, or I simply didn’t read the recipe ahead of time and missed certain ingredients. All very easy to fix, but I put so much pressure on myself and I don’t know why. It’s just food! A few years ago I even took cooking classes, which were great, and I’d keep at it for a few weeks and then I’d taper off.

So what about baking? I’m better in that department. Homemade croissants, frangipane tarts, cinnamon rolls, breads, I have made a lot of them; however, due to a sweet tooth of ridiculous proportions I keep baking to a minimum. My ass thanks me for it.

So where do I stand on the cooking front?

  • Homemade chicken stock
  • Pork wontons (with extras to freeze)
  • Lentil and Italian sausage soup
  • Seared pork chops finished in the oven with stone ground mustard sauce
  • Wonton and bok choy soup
  • Roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and dijon new potatoes
  • Sweet cherry pie
  • Sicilian chicken soup

And those are what I remember off the top of my head that I made recently.

My tummy is grumbling now.

How are you starting out 2015?

Chilly and Chili

On Christmas Day the weather was gray skies, tiny peeks at the sun, and fat snowflakes you could catch on your tongue. The snow fell all day, but never amounted to a blanket of white. The fact that we were even receiving snow on Christmas here in our part of Colorado, or Colorado at all, is super special. In over 10 years I’ve lived in this state we’ve had snow on Christmas I think once.

And while I know it’s better to keep blinds closed in the winter to keep out the cold, I didn’t care, I opened all the blinds so I could watch the snow fall as I watched all the Christmas classic movies: A Christmas StoryHome AloneChristmas Vacation, and one of my newer favorites, The Holiday. The day felt special!
image

So to my surprise, when I woke up the day after Christmas, and found a good two inches of snow on the ground, I was thrilled! During this time while I’m looking for a job I keep hoping for a blizzard. A two footer! psh So far we haven’t seen that much snow yet, but by the end of that day we had around six inches on the ground. My poor dog, Chester, was not enthused. As a small 10 pound fluffy priss he hates going in snow that swallows him up to his chest. I don’t blame him, but that meant the husband had to snow blow a “pee path” for the guy. Spoiled.

And with a cold snowy day I decided a chili was in order. Enter The Pioneer Woman’s White Chicken Chili. The house smelled amazing as the soup cooked on low for two three hours. The white navy beans, turns out, expired a year ago and we’re a little, uh, stale. Oops. So what should have been two hours turned into three, but it was worth it. With green chiles, onion, garlic, and cumin in the pot–delicious. Thankfully the aroma of the end result pushed out the boiled chicken smell previously wafting around….funky stink.

The chili was so delicious my husband had two bowls and set aside “his portion” to take to lunch the next day. I had to tell him that three bowls worth is not what a lunch makes. ha

During the chili chow down I proclaimed myself the Queen of soups/chili (I’ve been making a new soup or chili each week for the past month and a half) and I forgot to take a photo of the end result. Oh well. Go see The Pioneer Woman’s site, she did a good job over yonder with the photos and make sure you cook up a pot of white chicken chili!

As for the snow, my husband was excited to get home from work and finally use the 1970-something snow blower he was able to take off his dad’s hands years ago. In the five years we owned a home he only used the blower…maybe twice. When we lived in Colorado Springs we never seemed to get much snow all at once to justify using it! If we did get enough to use the blower then my husband was usually still at work and our very nice neighbor would already take care of the driveway for us by the time we got home.

I’m happy to report since I started this post we got another six inches of snow on New Year’s Day!

Definitely feels like we’re living in Colorado with all the snow on the ground. I love it!

How’s winter where you are?

Our Adventure

adventures

Back in 2012 I started this blog. Then in mid-2013 I just let it simmer to barely a bubble and did nothing with it; however, lately I’ve felt the pull to start writing again. Lots of changes have occurred this year, so many positive changes, and with that brings the desire to start posting again; however, I fear my English teachers from high school may read some of these posts (I share it on my FB page) and they will wonder when all their effort to fix my writing “skills” went out the window. hehehe Oops.

If you’ve followed me on the various blogs I’ve held over the years, you know that I got married several years ago, lived in Colorado Springs for the past decade (minus six months), my cooking skills are at the beginner level, and I have struggled with my weight for a long time. Well all of those are still true, except one…..no, no drama in the marriage department(!), my husband and I have moved. We sold the first home we ever owned and we no longer live in a city of almost 400,000 people.

And it feels wonderful to have breathing room.

colorado fall road

Driving down the mountain pass on moving day.

We still live in Colorado but in a much smaller town. When I say small town I mean it basically feels like the country, to me, due to pastures of horses and cows only two blocks away and wildlife wander through the yard like it’s no big deal. Living in Colorado for the past ten years I’ve seen my share of deer, sure, but never in my yard. I know when it comes to growing flowers in the front yard that will be a challenge, but I love it so far.

I’d actually go so far to say that it brings me joy.

sunrise

Just the other day I was sitting at the stop light and watched the pasture full of horses while I waited for the light to change. And I realized how happy I am living here. That’s when I noticed this lone horse standing at the fence line, resting his head on the fence post, and he was watching the traffic drive by. That or maybe he was hoping a walker on the trail in front of the fence would toss him an apple? I don’t know, but since then I’ve seen that same horse standing at the fence line almost every day! I’ve decided to name him Larry.

I have so much to share about what I’ve been up to, the hopes I have for the new home we just bought, and plans with my husband.

When I come back next time I’ll share some photos of the home we sold and delve a little into why we moved and how we ended up in a small Colorado valley town.

Until then, Merry Christmas to you all!

If you’re new here, read about why I chose the name Sunflower & Spruce for this blog.

Summer is half over?!

Just like last summer it feels like the days are whizzing by instead of rolling through on a nice summer breeze. Oh wait, what breeze? The weather has been so damn hot lately I don’t want to go outside between 11am-4pm!

Black Forest Fire

Black Forest Fire

And unfortunately, just like last summer, Colorado Springs was all over the news due to a local wildfire. Talk about a heavy heart around here. The Black Forest Fire just north of town killed two people, burned 511 homes and 15,000+ acres. I love Black Forest. My husband and I actually got married out there, such a beautiful site. Fortunately, the building is still standing, but everything around it went up in 2,500 degree flames. We know one family who lives out there and their home is still up and unscathed; however, that wouldn’t be the case if their neighborhood hadn’t heavily mitigated the brush, trees, and landscaping around their homes—and it saved the neighborhood. Just across the way other homes weren’t so lucky. But they also didn’t mitigate.

View from our yard of the Black Forest Fire

View from our yard of the Black Forest Fire

Nothing but dirt, scorched pine trees and damaged foundations stand from what I hear. I haven’t been out there. Why bother. Let those mourning the loss of everything they held dear and knew be to themselves right now. No need for an outsider to go driving around to see what’s left. I’m all too familiar due to the Waldo Canyon Fire last year.

Waldo Canyon Fire : June 2012

Waldo Canyon Fire : June 2012

The Waldo Canyon Fire last year sent dense, gray smoke into our neighborhood and thankfully we didn’t have to evacuate. Felt way to close for comfort though and I even made sure we had the necessary documents and some food for Chester ready to go in case the town decided to burn down. Which it started to when it burned all 346 homes in a matter of one evening. Just awful. I didn’t drive up to get close to see the area until about a month ago. And even then I didn’t drive up all that close. I could see the mountain side where the fire ran a marathon and the former pine trees turned to black toothpicks was enough for me. Tears puddled in my eyes so I turned around and went home.

Yup, Colorado Springs has had two crappy summers in a row with many people losing their homes and now four people have died.

I’m ready for fall damnit.

So what else has gone on? My husband’s been working on our deck. A glorious deck. We no longer have to take the dog out the front door, around the corner, through the gate (which doesn’t like to shut correctly) and then let him go in the backyard.

(Love the new gallery setting on this theme. To see bigger photos just click on each one and hover to see captions.)

I cannot tell you how excited I am have the deck done and sit out there on a Saturday morning. One of my favorite things during nice weather is to sit on the deck and watch my dog romp around the backyard each morning and evening. So peaceful, so quiet.

The deck is thisclose to finished now. Just a few more balusters and some stain and my husband will be officially done. Then comes what to put on the deck. I cannot tell you how much I have fretted over the cost of dining tables and chairs for a patio. So many are beautiful and they’re all so expensive I just can’t bring myself to spend the money. We might just make do this summer and tackle the matter next summer…once I have a full year to scour Pinterest for ideas and can truly make up my mind.

This weekend I’m off for four days. One holiday for the Fourth and a vacation day for Friday. Definitely didn’t want to return to work for one stinkin’ day to finish off the week. Besides, no official vacation this year anywhere so I’m going to have a mini staycation at home.

How’s your summer going?

2012 Autumn Bucket List

A bucket list, not a new concept, but I’ve also never created one. Life bucket lists, seasonal bucket lists, accomplish by X age bucket lists, etc. I love to read other people’s lists, it’s fascinating! Yet I have never managed to get around to making one of my own. Typically I manage to miss out on the seasonal stuff I want to experience because I let other things get in the way, don’t make time, life happens or I flat out forget.

Well, this fall, in an effort to get some things done and experience what I’ve managed to forget to do or skipped in years past, I’ve made an autumn bucket list!

2012 autumn bucket list

After I completed my list I realized most of my items involved food. But how can you not think about pumpkin flavored everything, warm cozy soups/chili, crisps and cuddling under a nice blanket eating any of these is a nice cool day in autumn for me! But then again these healthy ideas are all fine in my book and I should have remembered carving pumpkins!

Is there an activity or ::ahem:: food item you would add to my list that I might have forgotten? If you wish to use the above graphic or post to Pinterest, go right ahead, just make sure to include the blog address!