Oct 31

Cooking On The Rocks – Halloween Menu (disclaimer – I’m taking the night off)

I’ve been known to combat holiday’s demand for junk food. For example, when my kids were in elementary school, on Valentine’s day, they’d bring home droves of heart-shaped candy – I’d just serve up a platter of broccoli. I’ve done it a time or two where Halloween is involved as well.


Our menu board in the kitchen confirms I’m a total sucker. But that I can still make my O’s into Jack-O-Lanterns. Yeah, I still got it.

But this year, the kids aren’t trick-or-treating. They are too old for it, way to big for it, and I offered up to let them have a party and watch scary movies while they handed out candy this year.

The negotiations ensued, and before I knew it, I agreed to give their pals, the party attendees bags of candy in lieu of them “hunting” for it at strangers houses while they hip checked little kids running to get there first. The other negotiation was best as well: I’m not allowed to serve broccoli. I tried to sell steamed baby carrots, but those kids are firm in their negotiations.

You can imagine my turning to the darkside of junk food to serve kids when I see an ad for Sonic corn dogs for 50 cents on Halloween.

The kids and I agree on this luxury item for party food. It fits their party budget, goes against every nutritional principal I can think of, and I’m doing it anyway.

A few years ago, Ricardo stopped at Sonic with the kids. Max explained he didn’t want mini corn dogs, he wanted a full-sized corn dog. So, when Ricardo went to order, and the kids continued to be loud and he couldn’t hear to clarify if all they had was mini corn dogs or regular ones, he eventually shouted at the speaker, “Do you have corn dogs, like, with a stick?” We’ve been making fun of him about it ever since. And so, since it’s Halloween, and I’m not cooking today, here is our menu:

Corn Dogs (With Sticks)
Popcorn (maybe popcorn balls if I get around to it)
Organic Sodas

Have a Rockin’ Halloween!

Song of the Day: Duh, Thriller

Oct 28

Swimming On The Rocks

Well, swimming on rocks seems hard to do, but if anyone is going to do it, it’ll be me. For sure.

My happy work out place.

My happy work out place.

Remember my friend, Korten and her motivation to run? Well, she lost almost 100 pounds running. She loved running. She needed running. Her kids needed her to run. And then she was devastated to discover she had Rheumatoid Arthritis. Her doctor literally forbade her to run anymore. The one thing she needed for her health was now working against her health. That she couldn’t run anymore crushed her.

In the time it took for Korten to love running, I apparently Forrest Gumped it, and just quit running one day. Someone asked me what hurt when I ran, and when I surprised us both by saying, “Well, it starts with my teeth…” I knew it was time to stop. Running is just not for me. And also, I just don’t wanna.

My last few full triathlons, I’d get out of the water, feeling accomplished with a fairly good time. And I’d be all excited about the swim and then I’d remember I’d have to still bike and then run. Dammit. Two thirds of the triathlon suddenly was ultra-sucky.

Turning 40 has been so liberating to just suddenly have the unabashed freedom to do what the hell I want. As it turns out, I love swimming. So, I just swim. Maybe it’s a phase. Maybe I’ll Forrest Gump swimming one day and move on to Bocce Ball or something. But the workout for me now is to swim. It works with my schedule. Swimming burns the most calories in a set time frame for a work out. And I love my gym’s pool accessibility.

On top of it all, and once again as it was working with Korten to run, it is now our connection to swim “together.” At least weekly, if not daily, we send a text or a picture of the pool that we’re about to jump in to, or if she’s lucky, I send a picture in my swim cap. Because there’s no faking a workout that involves the commitment of putting a swim cap on.

It's stunning portraits like this that I send to Korten for proof that I'm swimming with her. Inspiring, I know.

It’s stunning portraits like this that I send to Korten for proof that I’m swimming with her. Inspiring, I know.

But trying swimming is different than trying running. It’s daunting for a new adult swimmer. There’s a constant concern A) that you can’t breathe and 2) if you’re doing it right. Also, putting a speedo on is never fun.

And chances are you’re not doing it right. There’s how to turn your head and breathe, or how many laps you should do. Don’t get me started on how to not bonk your head doing back strokes or flip turns.

How to breathe:

How to do it right:

If the conversations and texts about running were fun and funny and motivating between two friends, imagine conversations about speedos and breast stroke. All kidding aside, once again, I find our friendship growing even strogner with this common ground. I swim because I love it. Korten swims because she has to.

When I was back in Texas, Lucy and I had the pleasure of meeting up with Korten to swim. When I go swim, I drop my kids off at school and go swim. After I finish, I usually hit the steam room. And then I take a nice long shower. Korten works full-time though. So, when she swims, she leaves work, picks up her kids, and heads to the gym. She gets her three young angels out of the car and grabs the swim bag for her kids and her own – both she’s packed early that morning. She herds her kids into the locker rooms, but her boys aren’t allowed in the women’s locker room, so she takes the two boys to the family changing room, gets them in their swimsuits and with their floaties on. She then has her daughter (and today, Lucy) get their swimsuits on and meet the boys in the pool. Once everyone is situated with their goggles and pool toys, THEN Korten can go get ready to swim. She lugs everybody’s clothes back to the locker room, crams it up into a locker, and gets her swimsuit on, goggles and swim cap. Now we can swim.

Korten assures me that’s not her everyday adventure to get to the gym. And even if it is, she’s happy to do it.

Another pic of proof that I'm at my gym, ready to swim.

Another pic of proof that I’m at my gym, ready to swim. That’s my lane on the left- because it’s wider than the others.

And in between a couple of time outs, between us in the lap pool, and the kids in the fun swim pool, we manage to swim together. It’s hard to laugh and not choke on the water.  Not only did I realize how easy it was for me to get to the pool, but we also discovered something else – my gym is better than hers. Because my gym posts accurate distances! Her gym has a sign that says “66 laps = a mile” So, she’s been swimming what she thought was a half mile in just under an hour. As it turns out, she’s been doing just under a mile in an hour!

We giggled over my attempt to do math while treading water.

Korten works hard to get in the pool. When she was running, she’d lace up and go. Now, it’s more of a challenge to swim, and some days to just get to the pool. I remain inspired and motivated.

Swimming with Korten is like a whole new sport, and I love it. I am so proud of her for so much more than her perseverance to get in the pool and swim. And I’m so honored to swim with her.

Keep on Rocking.

Song of the day: Call Me, Maybe

Oct 27

Monday Funday! ***Halloween Double Feature***

Hope you are all having a fun time getting geared up for Halloween! May all of your kids bring home a bountiful supply of your favorite candy! Here’s two funny videos to kick off your week. Then crank up the song of the day – especially if you’re in a shared work space.

I’m pretty sure this one was done after the Twilight series took off…

If you haven’t seen this one, you should. And if you’ve already seen it, you should see it again. Good old fashioned fun at someone else’s expense.

Song of the Day: Monster Mash

Oct 24

Foodie Friday on the Rocks – Tortellini Soup

Tortellini, Greens, and Bean Soup. Hint - just tell everyone you're having Tortellini Soup. The "Greens" apparently turns them all into foodie snobs.

Tortellini, Greens, and Bean Soup. Hint – just tell everyone you’re having Tortellini Soup. The “Greens” apparently turns them all into foodie snobs.

Last night I made a yummy soup from a recipe book my Yallison gave me. It wasn’t my favorite but everyone else raved over it. I love a warm meal. Cold salads and sandwiches are dumb. A hot soup, when it’s chilly out is brilliant. I prefer my soups to be cheesy and salty and thick with ridiculous spice, kick, and rich flavor.

This recipe was too tame for me. But I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone else liked about it.

So the cookbook is called Soup Makes the Meal – 150 Soul-Satisfying Recipes for Soups, Salads, and Breads by Ken Haederich. Click here for the Amazon link to it.

Yallison sent this one to me because she knows my heart and love of a good cookbook. I read them like other people read novels – completely encapsulated and drooling. And the pictures are always good too. Isn’t that y’all others read? As much as she knows my heart, she also knows my hands and feet. They are cold. Like all the time. And so this book is the next best thing to her coming and snuggling with me during Fall, Winter, and most of Spring too. Continue reading

Oct 23

Texas Roadtrip Part Two: I’m kind of a big deal, Lucy.

alwaysrememberThis is really really long, and I refuse to apologize for that. I have a column with a word limit. So, I wrote freely on this one. Grab your coffee and have a read. And please, post a comment. I’d love to hear what you think, how you relate, or your own special college memory.

Lucy and I had a great time driving down to Texas. Since we had 12 hours to talk about our feelings, and since she made the mistake of asking, I told her my entire college volleyball experience. I told her the reality of the story, that I was a redshirt, then a benchwarmer. I told her how oblivious I was until much later, almost too late. I told her about the practice when I figured out what all of my teammates had already known – I sucked. And that I’m not just saying that – I was super tall, and really not great at volleyball. I certainly wasn’t good enough to have deserved the scholarship I was on. Continue reading

Oct 22

Texas Roadtrip Report – Part One: Greeeeeen Acres is the place to be….

If time travel is possible, it happened, and I was a part of it. It’s been 10 years since we moved from Amarillo to Omaha. I’ve made all of these pics full size for your enjoyment…

Look at this view! Lucy and I went to see my brilliantly talented cousin, Jeremy perform with the Amarillo Symphony. He's the Tuba Principal (aka - he's kind of a big deal, y'all.) Just look for the Tuba on the right. We had the coolest seats in the house, and even though I got the "Spirit Award" in choir, I could still appreciate the beautiful music and what it takes to bring all of these people and their talents together.

Look at this view! Even the guy’s bald shiny spot is elegant! Lucy and I went to see my brilliantly talented cousin, Jeremy perform with the Amarillo Symphony. He’s the Tuba Principal (aka – he’s kind of a big deal, y’all.) Just look for the Tuba on the right. We had the coolest seats in the house, and even though I got the “Spirit Award” in choir, I could still appreciate the beautiful music and what it takes to bring all of these people and their talents together.

Our first stop was at my friend, Will & Shannon’s house. Will offered to let us stay at their ranch house. Will has inherited the “Family Reserve” as they call it. It is now their second home or maybe it’s his first home, I don’t know how that works. But he and his beautiful wife, Shannon, and their baby boy don’t live there full time. So, he offered to let us stay there. He knows me well enough to know this may not be a good idea. But he’s a good enough friend to offer. Besides, what damage could I possibly do? Oh God. Continue reading

Oct 20

Monday Funday!

This year, the kids aren’t trick-or-treating. We’ve promised them candy though. So, don’t turn us in just yet.  But you might want to consider a few of these guys. I never had the heart to do this. But, apparently enjoy watching other parents make their kids cry. I couldn’t pick between two videos, so I’m posting both.

Happy Monday!

Oct 15

Mother Daughter Roadtrip!

This is my view for 700 miles.

This is my view for 700 miles.

Today, Lucy and I are hitting the open road to go back to Texas. WTAMU is having a Volleyball Alum gig, and I don’t know what I’m more excited about, to see all of my friends and WT family, for Lucy to meet them, or for them to get to meet my extraordinary daughter.

I know our 10-hour roadtrip will be a fun bonding experience. We’re both conspiring on coffee stops and road trip food. French onion dip and potato chips are high on the list. We’ll have some much needed and cherished time together on the road.

Max and Ricardo are staying home for Max’s basketball practice and a game. I hesitantly pulled out of the driveway when I heard the phrase “Mancation” mentioned.

Continue reading

Oct 10

Friday Foodie on the Rocks – Zucchini Boats

FullSizeRender-7I’ve been back to cooking again. Like, a lot. I love to re-interpret recipes, and since I’ve switched to the Food Network over HGTV, everyone seems to be fed well lately. And whoever came up with the concept of merging a talk show with a food show, God Bless Your Soul. I am in love with The Chew. Don’t get me started about the joy Rachael Ray brings me. And I was watching Chopped the other day, while making mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes, y’all. They were frikkin delicous. Let me be clear that I never write my own recipes. What I do is I find one, and I change it based on one or more of the following things: Continue reading