While Andrew is Gone

Andrew left at 5:30 this morning to go to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. He will be gone until Friday enjoying views like this...

I get to stay here and try to come up with things to do so I don't get too bored. It is amazing how long the nights seem to be when he is gone. I feel like I have all the time in the world to clean, watch movies, read, whatever...but sometimes, I get a little sick of all that time. So this week, here is a plan of a few things I am going to try to do to keep myself busy.

1-Visit the library. Our library isn't big compared to what we are used to...but, they have movies and of course, plenty of books. Fortunately, we live very close, so I can go visit whenever I want. I don't sleep well when Andrew is gone, so I usually watch a movie at night hoping that it will make me tired. Actually, I just got back from the library and I have a book and a movie, so I'm set for awhile.

2-Write in my journal. This wasn't really on my list of things to do, but when I was discussing this blog post with Andrew last night, and asking him for ideas of what to do this week, this is the one he offered. I don't know that I will get to it, but I do need to write an update.

3-Start a quilt. I've always wanted to make a quilt, but I am not a great seamstress. When I was a teenager, I made a skirt...and I was always a little nervous that the sewing machine was sewing too fast and I was going to sew my finger or something. I still don't like to sew that fast. Anyway, last year, for my birthday, my mom bought me a quilting book. It is supposedly an easy quilt, the Irish Chain, and according to the book's title, you can make it in a day. You can but I'm not even going to attempt it. But, I would like to start it...at least my practice one. I need to buy some fabric before I do the real thing.

4-Make at least two meals. This probably sounds weird because I love to bake and cook, right? But when Andrew is gone, it always seems like more of a hassle. Do I really want to make something just for me? And wash all those dishes? It is a lot easier to eat eggs, or sandwiches, or leftovers, but you know what? A week is a long time, and we don't have that many leftovers.

5-Get my hair cut. Really. I am actually a little worried about this one, but I already have the appointment scheduled, so I guess I can't back out, right? I need a haircut and haven't had one for almost a year, but I never know how to get it cut. Let's just hope it looks good because Andrew says usually I don't like it for about a month afterwards, because there is always something wrong with it. And usually, there is something wrong, but it is just my hair...it likes to flip out on one side, and flip in on the other. But last time, it wasn't my hair I was complaining about...it was the person who cut it; she didn't do so well. Don't worry; I am not going there again!

That is about it. There are plenty of other things I will be doing to keep myself busy, but I don't want to go overboard and make everyone think I am an overachiever; especially if I don't end up getting some of them done. But it should be a good week...although I already can't wait until Friday when Andrew comes home!


Five Great Years!

Five years ago today, this was happening:

Happy anniversary to us! We are so glad we get to be together forever!



Some of the time we feel like we live in the middle of nowhere. We don’t really…but we do seem to drive a lot. And, when you drive a lot, we sometimes get sick of searching for good radio stations, or just any radio station that will play something besides country. Then, we started listening to books on cd; go to the library to see what they have. Most libraries also have an online selection where you can download books for free. That is a great way to go! Now if we are ever going to have a lot of driving or we are taking a trip somewhere, we find some books to read and we are set.

So, do you have a trip coming up? Here are some options that we liked, at least a little bit:

-Harry Potter (all 7), by J.K. Rowling

This is Brianna, and I love the Harry Potter books! When the first movie came out, a friend and I wanted to see it, but we decided we should read the book first, so over the Christmas break, we both planned on reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I couldn’t stop and I read the first four (that was all that was written at the time). I was home from BYU, and my family was kind of annoyed with me for reading the whole time, but I couldn’t help it. They were so good!

Anyway, fast forward a few years to 2005, and Andrew and I were taking a trip to Nevada, and we decided to get a book from the library on cd. This was the first time we had ever done it, and what a success! Andrew had never read any of the Harry Potter books (and hadn’t until we listened to them, although I did give him lots of details when I was reading and re-reading them), so we started with the first one. It was great and really made the trip a lot more exciting. But then we stopped. And we didn’t actually start listening to the rest of them until more recently. We finally finished the whole series together in the fall of 2009.

They are great books, and the narrator does a different voice for every character, so it is like you are watching an extended version of the movie blindfolded. But don't blindfold yourself because you will be driving, anyway, the narrator is great! But, these books are also longer than most; they are around 24 hours, so you better hope you have a lot of driving to do, or else you will want to start listening to them as soon as you get off work, when you are eating dinner, doing dishes, and so on. We speak from experience.

-Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne

We read this book last year and we thought it was pretty good. There were a few slow parts, but most of it was pretty enjoyable. We have seen one of the older movies of this and we found that there were some parts that were left out, obviously. But anyway, one was actually pretty funny to us because on his trip around the world, he was going by train through the state of Utah, and it even talked about the Mormons. It was entertaining to us, but that is because we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and well, we were surprised to even hear about the Church in the book, regardless of what was said.

-Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

We just read this one on the way to Utah earlier this month and it wasn’t at all like we thought it would be. It was good, but different, and sometimes the narrator got a little dull. We think this version must have been copied over from a tape, because occasionally they would repeat a line and sometimes the narrator’s voice would change and get a little slower or faster.

But actually, those things have nothing to do with the book, so we still recommend it. Just know that there are parts where it goes a little slow and you wish they would move on with things. Then again, did you ever know that Frankenstein is not the name of the monster, but actually the last name of the scientist who created him? Yeah, weird, huh? Also, the monster has read Paradise Lost and various other classics, he speaks French, is more agile than an Olympic gymnast, and he is not green at all.

-The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis

I read some of theses books growing up, but I didn’t remember much at all. They were actually pretty good, although there were a few that were a little slow. We wish we would have read those first, but we started reading them in the order they were written, not the chronological order. Next time, we would do the chronological order, because some at the end (like The Silver Chair) were really good.

Oh, and just in case you’ve seen the movie Prince Caspian know that the book is very different, and better. We prefer the book because there is a lot of drama in the movie that never existed in the book. Also, after reading the books, you notice minute details in the movie that are part of the book as well, but we never would have known or noticed them if we hadn't read the book, like the bears sucking their paws during Peter's fight with Miraz.

-Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne

On our way back from Utah, we started reading this book, and it was much more exciting than Frankenstein to us. It was amazing that it was written in 1864, because, although there are a few different things, it really seemed like a book that could have been written last year. It was very entertaining and interesting.

Oh, and isn’t it kind of amazing that Iceland just had a volcano erupt right after we read this book about going to the center of the earth through the extinct volcano Sneffles, which also existed in Iceland? Actually, when we were talking about the volcano eruption Andrew told me it was the same volcano…and I believed him for a second. I said, “I thought that volcano was fake,” and then he informed me that it was and just laughed. But actually, I just found out thanks to Wikipedia, that it is a real volcano in Iceland; actually there are three of them with the same name, spelled Snæfell. The one that just erupted is Eyafjallajökull. Try saying that three times fast…or even at all!
Out of all these books, here is our recommendation from most exciting (I don't want to get out of the car) to least exciting (when is the next rest stop?):
1-Harry Potter
2-Chronicles of Narnia (even though some are a little slow, some are really good, so they make up for it)
3-Journey to the Center of the Earth
4-Around the World in Eighty Days


Have you ever had cobbler in a dutch oven?

Today was a beautiful day so we decided to break out the dutch oven! It has been awhile since we last used it, but now that we have it out, we don’t want to put it away! Have you ever used a dutch oven before? Do you know what one is? Basically it is a heavy cast iron pot with a lid and little legs it stands on. Anything that you can cook inside an oven or on the stove you can make inside a dutch oven.

We didn’t want to just make anything, like some chili; we wanted something that tastes really good…cobbler.

But, before you can eat something tasty, you have to do some work. The way a dutch oven cooks is by lighting some charcoal briquettes and getting them nice and hot. Then, you put a few underneath the dutch oven, and about twice as many on top of the lid. Actually, there is a little formula that explains how many briquettes you need to use, but we aren’t going to go into that. All you need to know is that you put briquettes under it and on top…and that is what heats it up and cooks your food.

So we got the briquettes going and made the peach cobbler, and started the cooking process. Then we realized we were going to have a lot of cobbler on our hands, so we called some friends to see if they would take some, because we didn’t want to eat all of it we knew we shouldn’t eat all of it, since it was probably enough for 10 people.

Lifting the lid and peering in at the cobbler is always fun because it smells delicious. In fact, our neighbor’s dog could even smell it because soon after we would open the lid, he would pause, sit up straight, and looked like he smelled some of our delicious cobbler. He even came over and stood right by the edge of the fence. Unfortunately for him, our friends wanted some, so he didn’t get any. It was really good, even if the picture doesn’t look like it.

P.S. The little stand that the dutch oven is on was part of Andrew’s Saturday project. He got the barrel from a guy’s ranch around here; the barrel used to have a cow’s vitamin lick inside of it (Andrew said the vitamin lick didn’t taste very good…just kidding), but now it is empty and makes a perfect portable fire pit. He put some legs on the side of it that can be flipped around to make it a fire pit raised off the ground or a dutch oven table. When cooking with a dutch oven it is nice having a raised working surface.


Road Trip

Twice a year for General Conference, Andrew’s family gets together at a hotel in Park City, Utah to hang out, eat lots of food, and watch Conference. They have been doing this for a long time and it is a lot of fun. Since we moved to Colorado, we’ve been joining the family every April conference, so this last weekend, we got in the car, drove for hours, and had a great weekend!

It takes about 9 ½ hours to get from our place to Andrew’s parent’s house, so we left Wednesday afternoon, and despite the snow got there later that evening. On our drive, we passed through Nebraska and Wyoming; saw a helicopter so close to us (but it is really hard to photograph a moving helicopter in a moving car); stopped to take pictures of a tree growing out of a rock and Abraham Lincoln’s head, and we stopped at Little America to get 50 cent ice cream cones. When you are driving through Wyoming, there are so many signs for the hotel Little America, and a few of them advertise these 50 cent cones, but we’ve never stopped to buy them. This time, we did! Well, Brianna’s blood sugar was high, so Andrew got the ice cream cone. He ate it, wearing shorts, with a snowstorm outside!

When we got to the Utah border, it was really snowing, but fortunately Andrew is a very safe driver and doesn’t mind driving in the snow, so we made it safely to his parent’s house and slept well that evening! The next day, we were able to visit Brianna’s sister, Elyse and her brother, Shilo. He just got back from his mission for the LDS Church in February, so this was the first time we had seen him in over two years! We went to In-N-Out for lunch; there is a new location in Orem, and although we were eating at 2 in the afternoon, it was packed! We ordered, and saw a group leaving, so we ran over to the table as fast as we could. After that, we visited for awhile, and then headed back to hang out with Andrew’s family and watched Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The next day was Friday and that is the day we always pack up everything and head to the hotel. Because they’ve been going there for so long, they can usually get an earlier check in, so we were ready to be there by noon. Unfortunately, the hotel wasn’t ready for us…so we waited and finally left at about 2:30. One of the rooms was ready, so we brought up everything to that room, moved some of it to the second room soon after (so we could start cooking dinner), and eventually, had to move everything to the family suite. After all that work, we were ready to relax!

Andrew and I did the dinner that night; we do this meal that is supposed to be like Costa Vida’s salads with chicken, rice, beans, and jalapeño ranch dressing. And we made some salsa, which actually is kind of a funny story. Well, first, this is Brianna, and I am a really big wimp when it comes to anything spicy. Mild sauce is spicy to me, but Andrew loves really hot and spicy things, although growing up, his family never had spicy food! I tried out this recipe for salsa awhile ago, and he really liked it, so we decided to make that. I double the amount of jalapeños for him, but when I made it for his family, I did the normal amount. I’ve been told that the jalapeños with scratches on them are the hottest ones, but I usually pick out really mild ones. This time however, I think I picked the hottest ones in the store! The salsa and ranch dressing were hot! Everything else was perfect though, so all in all, it was a great meal.

Although a timer is a helpful invention on a camera, it doesn't always work out the way you want it to. We figured it would be better if I took the next one.

Even though it was a long drive, it was nice to get out of town and see family! Surprisingly, the 9 hour drive didn’t seem as long as we thought, probably because we were listening to books on cd. As with all trips, it is always nice to get back home, sleep in your own bed, and try to get back in the swing of things. So that is where we are now, sitting here, trying to get back in the swing of things!

Enjoy the slideshow!