Summer Recap

February 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

Back when I blogged often, before I lost ready access to internet for the summer, and before Practice Court stole my soul and so much of my free time that 5 hours of sleep was a luxury, Tuesdays were Travel days.

I travelled all summer, really. Lived in a different culture than most of us are accustomed to. Woke up amazed by the grandeur of Electric Peak every morning. Dozed off listening to the river running mere feet from my open window.

Today, I just wanted to share with your a few of my favorite memories of the summer I’ll always look back on as one of the best in my life.

Parked along the road in Yankee Jim canyon, watching rafting.

The summer was arguably the best years for whitewater on the Yellowstone River. So almost every evening, we put boats in the river, loaded up and paddled down the canyon. Occasionally, I didn’t feel quite up to the effort of wiggling into a wetsuit or soaking in the tropical 40 degree water if we flipped. So, I grabbed a camera, drove the bus, and took pictures as the rafts came by.

Hiking with my mom, dad, and Paul

The trail to my favorite waterfall was closed most of the summer because the trail was covered with snow. Looking back, hiking comprised some of my favorite memories of the summer. Hiking near the hoodoos with the girls and coming upon a Grizzly sow and two cubs just a couple of hundred yards away; hiking across from our dorms and deciding to sit on the mountain top and have “girl talk” for an hour; hiking LaDuke alone and singing loudly, bear spray in hand, because I was in bear country; hiking 7 mile hole (which is about a 9 mile hike, oddly) with a huge group and enjoying lunch in the grand canyon of the Yellowstone; hiking the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone for about 13 miles back out to Gardiner with the guy I was completely interested well before he was interested in me, which means I tried desperately to play down my attraction all day long; and ultimately, finally hiking to my favorite waterfall with the guy, once he’d finally become interested in me, with my parents when they came to visit. It was a beautiful day in the summer sun, surrounded by wildflowers as I tried to control my klutz tendencies and not fall all the way down the steep, switch back trail, while Paul laughed at me and took every wild berry before I got a chance.

Grand Prismatic

When your back yard is Yellowstone National Park, you never run out of places to explore. On days off, we often loaded up a car and drove various areas. Stopping along the way to hike to some of our favorite places like Trout Lake, or Mystic Falls. Doing the Old Faithful thing just because we had to. Walking around the boardwalk at Norris Geyser Basin. And stopping at the Fairy Falls trailhead to scramble up a little mountain to gaze upon one of my favorite places, Grand Prismatic.

My memories from the summer far outnumber those listed here. They include playing capture the flag up a mountain with Mammoth Hot Springs in view. Learning to Western swing. Dancing at “The Sonic Boom” every Thursday. Soaking in Chico Hot Springs. Cooking family dinners. Hanging out with customers on their overnights and camping in the teepee.

Keep a look out for further recaps. : )

Sausage and Apple Braid

February 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

You know I love breakfast food. There is nothing like a brinner (breakfast for dinner). I loved it as a kid and I love it now.

Thankfully, so does my fiancé. So we’ll celebrate his birthday with a brinner. I’ll bring the Sausage and Apple Braid, and probably some of these pancakes.

I wish I could give someone credit for this recipe, but it came from my mom. She’s been making it, and making us kiddos happy with it, for years.

Now, I pass along this braid of goodness to warm another soul on another special day.

Ingredients:

-1/2 of a 17×25 frozen puff pastry, thawed.
-10 ounces of pork breakfast sausage, cooked and drained.
-1 egg, beaten
-1 yellow onion, finely chopped.
-2 apples, peeled and finely chopped.
-3/4 cup dries heb stuffing mix (the kind you only think to buy on Thanksgiving).
-1 egg beaten (for glaze)
-2 Tblsp. sesame seeds.

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Roll out pasty to rectangle and let stand. Cut 3 inch long strips, half an inch in width, along each side of the puff pastry. Leave 2 inch on top and bottom and at least 4 inches in the middle.
3. Mix cooked sausage, egg, onion, apples, and stuffing together in large bowl. Spoon down the center of the puff pastry.
4. Fold the strips over the stuffing and fold each strip over the other a few times, to created “braid”
5. Bake for 30 minutes until golden in color.
6. Brush the braid with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Back Again.

February 1, 2012 § 3 Comments

So I haven’t posted since May. Which, in terms of time, doesn’t seem like that much. But, as I know well, things can change, life can change in a very short amount of time. Mine has.

In May, I was in Gardiner, MT. I was working for a whitewater rafting company and I was having the summer that I’d dreamed of since hearing my family tell stories of their summers in Yellowstone. And it was even better than the images and expectations in my head. I met new people, did new things, learned about myself, relaxed, and fully lived. I hiked, and rafted, and rode horses. I cooked, and photographed, and cleaned. Mostly, I loved. I loved the place, the river, the mountains, the sky, the flowers. I loved the people I worked and lived with. And I fell in love again.

A month after my last post, I began dating someone. And in the next two months, we both fell more in love than we thought we could. We left Montana together, to take him to med school in Indiana, and then I would continue back to Texas to finish law school. As we drove through the vast expanse that is most of South Dakota, we decided we wanted to be married. About four months, 3 trips to visit each other, and innumerable hours on Skype, he dropped down on one knee and proposed.

I finished Practice Court. The Baylor Law program that earned Baylor the nickname as “the bootcamp of American law schools.” I read, and read, and read, and put on trials, and got yelled at and humiliated for the sake of my education. I ate little and slept less. But I made it. And after a 3 and a half year long law school career, my life has changed in more ways than I could count. If law school was supposed to be teaching and shaping me over those years, it worked in its way. But, what I’ve learned and who I’ve really become is almost entirely attributable to Life over those few years.

This time last year, I would’ve told you that I’d be looking for a job in Texas when I finished law school. I would have said that I worked hard to make connections who could help me. I would have said that even in the declining legal market, I knew I could go home and find a job. But, at that time, home was with my parents in Texas. Home is now with my fiancé in Indiana. So, this Texan girl is becoming a mid-westerner. I have no intention of leaving behind cowboy boots, real Mexican food, and “y’all,” but I’ll be a Hoosier nonetheless.

So yes. When we look at life as just the months, weeks, and days that have passed by, then my last post was not that long ago. But I look at life as more than that. I measure the tears shed, the laughter shared, and the hugs exchanged. Measuring that way, it has been an eternity since my last post.

I’ve missed sharing experiences here. There were a lot to share. Expect some catching up.

Paul and me.

Neverland

May 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

I never want to leave here.

No. Seriously. Maybe not specifically here, but Montana for sure. Yes, it gets cold in the winter, yes the snow is ridiculous. No, I don’t care.

At all.

This is my happy place. My neverland.

Not in the sense that I don’t ever want to grow up here, but in the sense that I want to grow up here. I want to make this home.

I love the mountains. I love the people. The laid-back attitudes. The nonexistence of the rat race. The small town feel.

There is something particularly meaningful about meeting people through the tourist industry, too. Everyday, I meet people who are escaping their everyday lives, looking for a little fun, a little adventure. Conversations with them are easy; the basic “where are you from,” leads to stories and shared experiences. Subtle bonding.

Right now, there are about 8 people (3 girls and 5 guys) living at our dorms and we’re waiting for everyone else to arrive. The weather has been a little cold and dreary, so we’ve been taking as much advantage of any good weather we have as possible. Four of us toured the north loop of the park the other day and hiked to a few waterfalls, saw some wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, a bald eagle and a grizzly with 2 cubs.

Brogan, me, Angie, Tyler at the Lower Falls

And the people I work/live with are the best. Hands down. The group is a great size for “family dinners” right now so we’ve spent a lot of time together, all sharing the kitchen, the huddle around the fire after we eat, drinking PBR and sharing stories. We rafted a couple of evenings ago and the water was freezing. It makes me a little worried for raft guide training! And if we go into town to the bar, we generally go as a group. The group is full of college students, or kids taking a year off between college and grad school, or the occasional person just taking a break from their normal routine. Level-headed people, who know how to have a good time; somewhat different than your normal impression of a “raft-guide.”

The boys grubbing for brinner

Yesterday, was beautiful and I got to hike a little and enjoy a leisurely morning, reading on the porch. We had planned on bouldering in the evening, but the rain set in. So, we watched A River Runs Through It instead. Obviously, perfectly fitting for a night in Montana, curled up in sleeping bags in our movie garage.

Pardon me...

There is snow everywhere right now. Its crazy. When it melts, the river should be at about a 70 year high. Right now, that means, I’m really anxious to hike, but most of my favorite trails and taller peaks are snowed over. It also slightly increases me anxiety over guide training. Fun….

Norris Geyser Basin

(Road) Trippin’

May 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Well, I made it to Montana for the summer. The Jetta and I made our first solo 25 hour road trip. We’re pretty close these days.

Texas to Montana. My own personal Lonesome Dove.

I took off from Texas early in the morning Monday. I tried using the GPS on my iPhone, but I kept thinking it was wrong and veering off the charted course for a more scenic route. I’m so glad I did. I was so excited about the beautiful drive I discovered through central Texas that I didn’t even stop for coffee until I’d been on the road for at least 2 and a half hours.

I read somewhere that listening to music you know well will actually make you sleepy while you drive, so I had bought The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and the 2 books that follow it in the series for the drive. They had me on the edge of my (driver’s) seat. Loved them. I’m probably going to have to sit in my dorm and listen for no apparent reason just because I’m too enthralled to stop.

In Fort Collins, I stayed with a girl I met last summer. She’s a college youth minister and I love her. It was such a blessing to end a 15 hour day on the road with a conversation with her. She is one of the most loving joyful people I know. I always leave her inspired to grow in my faith, love, and joy.

We had coffee the next morning, and I took off again. I made sure I got to drive through the Tetons and Yellowstone just to check them out. I’ve never been here this time of year and it was unbelievable how much snow was on the ground. My head was on a swivel checking all out…with my head phones in my ears so I could listen to my books on my computer (my ipod got stolen last week. I had to make do). I was quite the sight.

The park has had about 170% of its normal snowfall. When it melts, the river will be at a 70 year high and we’ll have to close to commercial rafting for awhile. But it’ll really be something to see and experience.

The decision to drive through the park was a smart one. On the whole 25 hours on the road, I saw white tail, pronghorn antelope, buffalo, elk, bighorn sheep and a grizzly bear. My mom taught me well how to spot wildlife (its her favorite thing) and I didn’t want to let her down. She surely appreciated my constant messages about what I’d seen.

Last night, I got all set up in my dorm. I share my room with a couple of other girls who aren’t here yet. But four of the guys and a girl were there and helped me settle in. About our dorms: we don’t have septic, only a tank that needs pumping weekly. So, showers must be short or rare. The sink doesn’t have a drain, it just empties to a bucket that must be tossed when full. We have a fridge, stove and cabinets, but they have to be shared by the whole group so can’t be overstocked. It’s gonna be quite the summer for this obsessive cook!

No phone service or internet where I’m living and I could be more excited about it. It’ll be a media detox.

I learned some lessons on the road: Books on tape, great idea. Fill up when you hit a quarter tank and save yourself the fear of running out. Don’t be scared to take the scenic route (this applies to life too). Friends are saviors; I appreciated every message I got checking on where I was, how I was doing, and even better, how I was feeling (excitement, nervousness, tired, anxious). Salads aren’t easy to eat in the car. Stick to the sandwich.

The roadtrip back with my friends will have even more lessons.

Sorry I was traveling through my travel Tuesday post. I’ll be a little sporadic this summer. But expect to see some adventure tales! I’m off to pick up the company camera from its annual cleaning and tomorrow I’ll be on the river taking pics. Can’t wait!

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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

May 12, 2011 § 5 Comments

Why, pray tell, is pumpkin only an fall food?? I mean, the canned stuff on the shelf year-round. And it tastes good year-round. And by good, I mean amazing. I love pumpkin. Nom nom nom nom nom. Get the picture?

I’ve love starting the morning with a smoothie. They don’t take long, they’re filling, nutritious, and easily adaptable.

Pre-blending. Not so pretty.

Since I’ll be gone all summer, I’ve been trying to use of a bunch of excess stuff I had in my pantry. So most recipes I’ll be posting will be part of a “cleaning out my pantry” series. I had a can of pumpkin in the pantry so I figured I should use it. Why not?? Just because its spring? Pshhh….bring on the pumpkin.

Recipe from: Oh She Glows

1 Tblsp Ground Flaxseed
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1 Cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 heaping tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 tsp Molasses
1/2 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
4-5 Cubes of Ice

Overcoming Hurt

May 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

“We have been created for greater things, not just to be a number in the world, not just to go for diplomas and degrees, this work and that work. we have been created in order to love and to be loved.
” -Mother Teresa

How often do we compliment each other?

I mean really compliment. Deep compliments. Sincere. Spur of the moment. Unpetitioned. Maybe in a letter, an email, a text, a facebook post.

Probably not often enough.

But how often do we take them and remember them? Probably less often.

I spent last weekend with some of my high school friends and all of the mean things that girls said growing up came back to the surface. It was like a tidal wave on my already dilapidated confidence.

The “friend” who drew a picture of my zits in 6th grade and made fun of me because my shoes were from Payless. The girls who laughed that my nose would be bigger than Dallas when I was older because it was so big in 7th grade. The girl who told my date for an 8th grade dance that I didn’t want to go with him so that he would uninvite me. The girls that insisted my first boyfriend only wanted to “get some” (high school freshman terms) and he only danced with me because he was drunk. He couldn’t really be interested. (We dated for a year and a half from age 15-17.) The friends who put me down in front of the more popular, pretty girls so that they looked even cooler all through high school. The girls who told me my feet were so ugly that it would be a terrible freshman initiation for the girls on the basketball team to make them think they’d kissed them. The girls who told me I was “like twice [their] size.”

The list goes on and on and on.

Why do I remember these things? Why do they still hurt? Why do I still feel insignificant when I’m around these girls?

The funny thing is, is that after the hurtful things were said or done, somehow, it negates every nice thing that person says after that. Somewhere in my mind, I feel like people only mean the hurtful words. The kind words, the compliments are meaningless. Meant only as white lies.

Part of that is likely because of my family’s belief in brutal honesty. I love it because we know that we say what we do out of love. Yes, its often said in a way that comes across unnecessarily hurtful, but they love me anyway. So we say that an outfit isn’t flattering, or admit “yeah, you gained a little weight,” or tell each other we should opt for the apple instead of the cookie. I grew up in a family that said things that many would consider hurtful, in a way that was meant to help and backed by love. But with that background, a background of sincerity in criticism, I took all of the things everyone said seriously. Never able to blow them off as just girls being mean.

And so even when they’re corrected, the words hurt. They sting. They leave scars on my soul and bruises on my heart.

More than 10 years later, I still feel insignificant. Unwanted. Ugly.

Its these feelings that lead to my not eating through an intense basketball season and volleyball season in high school and getting up early to work out extra. Its this hurt that lead to the subsequent binge eating that packed on at least 40 pounds. Its these feelings that still lead me to pints of ice cream and bottles of wine when I feel upset. Overcoming these feelings will help me stop abusing myself through the cycles of eating, and not eating.

How do I overcome this? How do I foster enough self-love that what they thought, or still think, doesn’t matter?

I’ve decided I should write down the compliments. I need to reread them when I feel unwanted. I need to love myself. I need to compliment myself. Sincerely. Maybe if I reflect on the good things that others see in me, focus on the good things they say instead of the bad, I can learn to appreciate these things in myself; value you myself and treasure myself.

I need to discover reasons to love myself. When I get down my best friend makes me find at least one thing and say it out loud. I love her for this.

Even more, I need to notice the beauty in my friends and the people around me. Send them letters, emails, texts just to let them know.

Why aren’t girls uplifting, encouraging, inspiring. Perhaps if we noticed the beauty in ourselves we wouldn’t need to put others down to make ourselves feel better.

I found Operation Beautiful. I realized that I’m not alone in this. And as I read stories that others have posted, I notice how beautiful these girls are. Every one of them.

I realize that I love the shape of my eyes and the fact that I have 2 dimples on one cheek. I love that my body carried me through a half marathon, a duathlon. I love that I really am a pretty good cook. I love hair. My skin that tans easily. And the smile on my face that I just can’t get rid of…not that I really want to try to lose it.

I love myself. I will overcome the hurt that has been left from years of holding on to all of the mean things that girls have said.

An Operation Beautiful note.

What do you do to overcome the hurt? To love yourself?

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