Friday, May 29, 2009

Better in the Oven

It's Friday and I've been home since Monday night, but I've just barely had time to go through my digital files from our long Memorial weekend trip to Southern Utah. I haven't even scanned my Polaroids yet, nor have I dropped my film off for developing. I've been so busy this week with work, it's been almost maddening. I am hoping to get my Polaroids scanned tonight. I just need an hour!

So, the trip, because that's much more interesting than how busy I've been... We drove to Panguitch last Thursday night and Travis spent Friday hiking 15+ straight-down/straight-up miles in Bryce Canyon National Park while I did a lot of summer job work. Friday night we stayed at the world's finest KOA in Cannonville. We absolutely loved it there. The owners were awesome, the location/scenery were stellar, the pancake breakfast cheap and delicious. We can't wait to go back. Saturday we visited Kodachrome Basin State Park for the first time and although it rained most of the time, we loved it. It was beautiful and no one was there. I bet we saw probably 30 people in the six hours we were there, and most of them were in the parking lot where we ate lunch. We stayed at the awesome KOA again that night and drove to Torrey and Capitol Reef Sunday. We'd never been to Capitol Reef and fell in love. (Clearly, we loved the whole trip!) We got a Zion feel but with lots of history and a much smaller crowd.

Just one of 40+ Polaroids I have to scan, Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Bryce Canyon at Rainbow Point in post-rainshower/almost-sunset glory.

We were treated to an amazing rainbow outside Capitol Reef Sunday.

Fruita schoolhouse built in 1896 in Capitol Reef.

You know how all vacations end up having catchphrases? My last trip to Moab with the girls resulted in "Awesome!" and "Take a picture, it'll last longer." A trip to Mission Beach when I was 12 had us kids saying (in terrible English accents), "Rollerblades are like rancid beasts with wheels." We were dumb kids. I can't explain it. On another trip to DC when I was 18, my sister and I heard someone at the Vietnam Memorial say, "Too many folks in my way!" and we alternated between that and "Three little kittens went to the beach." Can't really explain that one either. Anyway, are you with me? So this trip, we came away with two good statements. The first from a couple who backed their RV into the campsite next to us at the Cannonville KOA. They spoke not a word to each other except when the husband was backing in and his wife stood behind the motor home guiding him in. She motioned to him to stop, annoying said "Stop." and he put the beast into park and then it rolled another six inches back, like most large vehicles do, and she annoyingly yelled "STOP!" That's all we heard from them the whole night.

The second phrase was from another woman who was traveling with her husband, small child, and her husband's parents. The father-in-law and husband were playing horseshoes for quite some time when the wife, who you could tell was annoyed with her travel situation (being stuck with her mother-in-law and her attached-at-the-hip neurotic Italian Greyhound), walked to within about 20 feet of the horseshoe pit and started yelling to her husband to come light the oven in the RV. We were sitting not five feet away from her loud mouth, playing cards on the front porch of the KOA's office, and busted up laughing. This is the yelled conversation:

Wife: Hey! ...... HEY!
Husband: WHAT?
H: OK!
H: OH!

And then she walked away in a huff, and he kept on playing horseshoes for another 20 minutes. We were laughing the whole time, and she was not happy. We have been yelling their conversation back and forth since. I hope the wife's vacation got better and that her pasta got cooked, but I'm guessing that our vacation was much better than hers.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Our latest post is up over at Words to Shoot By, and thanks to the word we chose this last time, I was able to kick start another project I've had on my to-shoot list for a long time. "Camp" is a summer-long Polaroid project of motor homes, campers, and trailers. I love camping although I'm a tent person, and hopefully the thought of this project and these first eight images (the other five are coming soon) will inspire me to get outside this summer and waste some Polaroid film! I've made a set on Flickr so be sure to check back often for more. Happy summer!

Hello, New Favorite Burger!

Not to channel Martha Stewart or anything, but Sunday was filled with good things. We had a relaxing morning of watching The Office on Hulu, and for breakfast, fresh-baked pumpkin muffins. Around lunchtime, we went to Lowe's (Lowell's as we call it) for ant traps, a yellow jacket trap, Miracle-Gro, and corn and pumpkin seeds. Travis cleared a nice rectangular patch of dirt in our backyard for our first garden where we planted giant pumpkins, zucchini and sweet corn. The pumpkins are just for fun, the zucchini for bread and grilling with olive oil and cracked pepper, and the corn is for devouring with every meal because in the summer, that's all I ever want. Fresh corn on the cob.

After planting and watering, we decided we needed something to grill for dinner. A couple of quick Googles and a trip to the store later, we ate possibly the best meal we've ever made: turkey burgers with feta and olives and fresh Tzatziki sauce. I added a clove of minced garlic to the burger mix and a bit of chicken stock, and used Athenos feta with sundried tomatoes and basil, and diced black olives instead of calamata, and let the whole mix kind of marinate in the fridge for about a half hour before Trav started grilling. I served them in whole wheat pitas with baby spinach, thinly-sliced cucumber and red onion, and some of the Tzatziki sauce. Amazing. And the sauce is even better today. I've been dipping carrots in it and munching away as I've been writing.

After dinner, we sunk into our Adirondacks out on the back lawn and admired our fresh patch of wet garden dirt and talked about what a nice day it was.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just Me and the Birds

I started my new summer job Monday and this was my office. 8AM, Big Cottonwood Canyon, just me and the birds, the Dogwoods, the creek, and all the fresh mountain air I could breathe.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Gate

Last Thursday was our one-year mark in our new house, and it's hard to believe a whole year has gone by already. We loved the house when we bought it, but we've fallen even deeper in love since that day we signed the papers and breathed a huge sigh of relief that our days (and months) of dealing with real estate agents, interest rates, and lenders were over. This house has been so good to us and for us, and we owe a lot of our love for this place to our neighbors, who are the best in the world. I never expected to live on such a wonderful little street, let alone on a street full of friends.

Funny story. When we moved in, Travis decided that the gate on the south side of our house was going to be like a slice of cake from our wedding. It's tradition to save a slice of cake and eat it on your first anniversary, which we did, and it was freezer burned and not nearly as good as we remembered. So, the gate. Trav made an unwritten rule that no one was allowed to open or pass through the gate until our first anniversary in this house, and since that was last Thursday, we invited our pals Wendy and Troy over to celebrate with us. A couple of months ago, Travis mentioned it to our next door neighbors, who we had a nice chat with over the fence Saturday afternoon before dinner, as we dug out Bishop's Weed.

Wendy and Troy came over a bit later, and we ate an amazing meal that I'm very proud of (even though all I did was roughly follow a few recipes). I made gaucho steak with four herb chimichurri, jicama slaw, and garlic and herb grilled sweet potato fries. My mouth is watering just typing it. We used a 2 lb. flank steak instead of the skirt steak; I had no basil so I left that out of the chimichurri, and I used dried oregano; I couldn't find rice wine vinegar so I used white wine vinegar in the slaw; and I used half regular potatoes, half sweet potatoes. It was all absolutely amazing, and I can't wait to make it all again. I'm actually making more jicama slaw for a picnic dinner tonight.

After dinner, we went to the park around the corner and played whiffle-ball baseball, frisbee, and soccer with one of those giant balls from the metal bins at Target, the $3 swirled white-and-blue ones. We had so much fun running around, cheering, hollering like kids, getting grass stains and "sports" injuries. Afterward, we lit a fire in the pit in the backyard for the first time since we bought the house, and as we roasted marshmallows in the almost-dark, Trav pointed at the gate. Our next door neighbors had tied festive balloons to the latch to make it special for us. I got a tear in my eye. It made my heart so happy. Like I said, we have amazing neighbors! We ate s'mores and Travis and Troy lit the ends of two sticks on fire and we walked through the gate with our torches, cheered and walked backward back through our newly christened gate. We made it!

Trav ran through the gate yesterday just because he could. I've left the balloons there, swaying and bobbing in the breeze because they make me so happy. What a wonderful year it's been, and what a perfect way to celebrate it.