Friday, October 30, 2009

My Challenge - Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2010 Wii Game

This year I have started to watch the Biggest Loser. I had caught a few episodes in the past so I get the basic premise and know who Bob and Jillian are but I had never followed the entire season. Now that they are at week 8 I am hooked, rooting for a select few, and motivated to get my butt back in shape.

I am not so good at working out consistently and my exercise of choice is always Yoga and I do that in my office more than a few times a week.

After watching the show I think I would benefit from a personal trainer, someone who will tell me exactly what to do and give me feed back.

We have a Wii Balance Board with the Wii Fit Plus game but my problem with that is you get to pick what you want to do and how many times you will do it. This enables me to say "wow, that was hard, I am not going to do that again."

I simply do not have the time to join a gym. I have run through this in my head so many times.

What time I would have to get up to go, get in a good workout, and be back before Shawn went to work - 4:30 am.

Go to the gym after Heidi goes to bed? I would not leave the house until after 9 pm.

Work out after work or after dinner? I already only see Shawn and Heidi for a few hours each night. I am not willing give up time with them to go to the gym.

I had belonged to a gym in the building where I work. I would go down at lunch and run on the treadmill or join a yoga class a few times a week. After my company purchased another company and I am lucky if I even get to leave my desk to get water. Going to the gym for an hour is out of the question.

I feel my only option is to work out at home. Since I am not at all a night person, it will be morning.

I have had moderate success with DVD's in the past. My complaint is there is no variety, unless you have 7 DVD's. There also is no feedback. Sure, the instructor tells you what a good job you are doing but she says the same thing if you are sitting on the couch or actually doing to work.

Working out with the Wii games gives you constructive feedback using the positioning of the Wii Remote or the Balance Board. They offer suggestions on how to correct your posture. Sure, you can fake the motions or only do have the job but it certainly is better than a DVD.

I went looking for a Wii game that would make me happier than the Wii Fit Plus game I already had and found the Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2010 game.

Since I know who Jillian is and I know she will wip me into shape, I picked it up.

I plan to work out each morning at 5:30 am, in my living room, with Jillian. After I complete my first week, I will let you all know how we went!

Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What's For Dinner? Italian Roast Pork with Rosemary

Again, I didn't take a picture but I did make one heck of a port roast the other night.

One of my favorite things to do is cook. I took some cooking classes at the Kitchen Window a few years ago and was able to focus some basic skills. My one goal from in class was to try everything we prepared and I learned that I like some things that I would never have tried (salmon and asparagus) and I confirmed I don't like other things (beets).

I don't have a lot of time to cook from scratch but with a little planning I am able get something in the oven on the weekend.

I had Friday off and a Pork Roast that needed to be cooked which netted this awesome Italian Roast Pork.

2 1/2 to 3 pound Pork Roast
2 tbsp Rosemary
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 small onion
1/4 cup olive oil

Heat oven to 350.
Finely chop rosemary and garlic together.
Make 8 to 10 deep cuts in the roast - about 2 inches apart
Insert small amounts of garlic and rosemary mix in the cuts
Sprinkle with salt and pepper

Melt butter in shallow roasting pan
Sprinkle onion over the butter
Put pork in pan and drizzle with oil
Roast uncovered 50 to 60 minutes until the internal temp is 155 degrees
Remove from oven and tent with foil. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes until the internal temp is 160 degrees.

I served this with boxed scalloped potatoes and steamed Broccoli.

YUM! Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

I love fall! It's one my of four favorite seasons.

Living in Minnesota we get the best, and worst, of all seasons and I love them all for different reasons.

Fall is wonderful because it's normally a relieve from the extreme heat of August. This year August was cold and the colors are not changing as they normally. And with Halloween being the fifth weekend in the month everything is a bit off.

We had planned on going to the Pine Tree Apple Orchard and Pumpkin Patch like we do every year but due to the rain and cold we didn't get out until this weekend. By this time Pine Tree had packed up all their pony's and all the pumpkins were rotten.

Jess found this place on the Internet. It's called Anoka County Farms. They were a bit different but in a good way. This place pulled all their pumpkins into rows in the yard so you did not have to search through the field. I liked this because you can walk for acres and acres before you find even one good pumpkin.
They also had a ton of cut outs to take pictures with. Heidi really liked this Witch Cat.
I had never seen a white pumpkin before. They had a few sitting around. A quick google search says that they are just called White Pumpkins.

This place purchased the Snoopy bowl and dog bone bench from the Mall of America when it turned over to Nickelodeon Universe.
The filled the bowl with pumpkins.

We put the kids up on this wagon and I gave each of them a gourd. I don't know what Heidi is holding but it is really cool!

It was a little cold out but one of the nicer days we have had in the last few weeks. We needed to wear coats but hats were optional.

The line for the pony ride was crazy long! Shawn waited in line for over an hour while we went off and played.

He was not very happy about it but the things you won't do for your kids.

And is sure was worth it. Heidi had a blast. She just loves riding ponies and horses.

This was a fun place but we did miss the apple orchard and all of the apple treats. Next year will be a toss up to where we end up!

Sneezy Pete

Pete and Heidi are getting along famously! He slept in her room last night and they both made it through the entire night. If I knew that putting a cat in her room would keep her in bed all night I would have done it years ago!

Pete has been moved from the extra bedroom in the basement to Heidi's room. Litter box and all.

Heidi thinks this is great and is really enjoying taking care of him.

He will be going to the vet today for his first check up. We are taking him to Camden Pet where we take all the others. They are wonderful there.

He is sneezing a lot so we need find out if he has a cold or just do not like the dust in our house.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Newest Kuykendall

Shannon and I enjoy visiting the Humane Society's website and looking at all the cats and dogs that are for adoption. She sends me links of the cats and tells me that she wants the cat. Since she is allergic the cat would have to live with me.

This has never worked. I have never adopted a cat because Shannon said she wanted it. Until yesterday.

I had been looking a pictures of peoples puppies on facebook thinking about how nice it would be to have a new little pet in the house.

We lost our cat, Tiger, last April. I have missed him a lot this last 16 or so months.

Shawn pointed out that Eddie, our 10 year old cat, sure seems to like being the only cat in the house. That was really the only thing that kept me from adopting as soon as we were sure Tiger would not be found.

Yesterday, just before we were going to head home from work, Shannon started to send me links to kitties on the site. First was a puppy. Then a little black kitty.

My heart belongs to Orange Male Tabby Cats. I can't resist. I have had two in my life and I am smitten. Tiger had a lot of white but he was mostly orange as well.

When she sent me a link of a orange tabby with white feet, I fell hard.

She called Shawn and talked him into letting us get this kitty, Jack. We drove out to the St. Paul Humane Society to get Jack.

But when we walked in the door we saw this little all orange tabby playing with the cat in the kennel next to him. He was so playful and full of personality. He was not Jack.

I looked for Jack and found him sleeping with his litter mates. He was so small, not even a pound, and only about 7 weeks old. I took him out and he was so needy. Trying to suck on my ear, climbing up my coat. Our bulldog was removed from his mom at 6 weeks. I know what an animal who has not been properly weaned looks like and I am not going to do that again.

By now, the little orange cat we saw when we first came in had bonded with Shannon. He was trying with all his might to push out of the kennel so he could play with her.

He got so excited that he would flip over and stand on his head.

He was perfect. We took him out of the kennel and he promptly jumped out of my arms and ran off.

We chased him into the Visitors room. I think that was the moment we knew we would be taking him home.

He is so full of personality and knows how to get out of the way when he is nervous. Those are required traits in this house - with the two very large dogs and our crabby old man cat!
His name was Lil' Boo. We changed it to Sneaky Pete because Pete goes really well with Eddie!

He is Heidi's cat and she is so very happy to have him.

Pig, Daisy, and Eddie were not the most welcoming welcome home party. They were very excited and Pete was very nervous.

Shannon and I both have the scratches to show for it!

He spent last night in the extra bedroom with his food, water, and liter box.

I hope to let him wander out today and we are planning on relocating him to Heidi's room for tonight.

Join me in welcoming our newest addition to the family!
I just hope this big guy forgives me soon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First Night of Skating

Heidi started skating lessons last night at the New Hope Ice Arena. This is her second session but she has not been in her skates since last February so we expected her to be a bit rusty. Not so! She picked up right where she left off last year.

She started out wanting to wear the knee pads that came with the helmet. But once she stood up she quickly changed her mind. They must have been to hard to bend her legs in.

Last year, when purchasing her skates, we found a pair of recreational skates at Dave's Sports Shop. Recreational skates are more like a Rollerblade - very warm and supportive.

They were pink and super cute but cost about $60. Then we came across these used ones, same skate, just in boy colors. We got them for $20 and this is her second season using them! I think that forgives the fact they are not pink.

She was so excited to get to her lesson she could not stop moving for the picture.
She finally stopped for two seconds just to make me happy!
They had to line up and wait to be let on the ice.
They do two very simple tests at the beginning to determine which class they will be in. In her group there are 4 classes.
1. Can't stand up, can't skate.
2. Can stand up, can get off the ice after falling, can shuffle across the ice.
3. Can glide across the ice a little bit
4. Can glide across the ice and are ready to move around freely
When the kids first enter the ice they are asked if they have skated before. If they fall as soon as they hit the ice they are carried over to group 1. If they can move the are sent to the wall to determine which group the end up in.
Last session Heidi was in group 1 but made marked improvement through the year.
Not only was she able to stand when put on the ice, she got her self over to the other kids without help. Pretty good since she hadn't been skating in the better part of a year!
But then she plopped her self down in group 1 because that's where she was last year. She has a great memory and follows directions to a T. When no directions are given she will default to her comfort zone. This means, last night, she was in group 1.
And spent the 30 minutes learning how to stand. Something she is very good at.
And she was the first one across the ice every time.
This is not because she is an awesome skater (though she is already better than me). It is because the teacher did not say "Heidi, please go to group 2."
Next week she wants to go to Group 2 so we will ask them to move her up. Her goal is to skate circles around Shawn. I think that is a good goal!

Monday, October 19, 2009

What's for Dinner? Beef Stew

The leaves are all turning color and the air has become colder. That means it's stew time!!

Last night for dinner I made Beef Stew and it was fantastic! I don't have pictures but here is the recipe - Adapted from the Betty Crocker website.

This recipe fed 3 adults and 1 preschooler dinner and there were left overs for Heidi and I to take to lunch.

I paired it simply with french bread - it really hit the spot. Do not be intimidated by the three phases, it's not that bad. It takes about 20 minutes (depending on how fast you chop) and 3 to 3.5 hours to cook.

Ingredients for Phase 1:
2 tbsp Olive Oil
About 2 lbs beef stew meet or beef roast cut into 1 inch cubes
6 cups water (next time I will try 3 cups red wine and 3 cups water or beef stalk or broth if I have it in the house)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Ingredients for Phase 2:
2 large carrots - cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large potato - I used 1 large (minus the parts that Heidi dropped on the floor and 1 med so it probably was closer to 1 large and 1 small or maybe 2 mediums?)
1 med green bell pepper (I used 1/2 large and that was enough for me)
1 med celery stalk (mine had very large leaves on top so I used 2)
1 small onion - I like yellow (I used 1/2 large but I could have used the entire thing)
2 tsp salt (I used sea salt for cooking)
2 bay leafs
1 lb bag of mixed frozen veggies

Ingredients for Phase 3:
1 cup cold water
4 tsp flour

Phase 1:
In dutch oven (or any large pot that has a lid) heat the oil over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. (Instead of measuring I just lightly coat the bottom of the pot)

Add Beef and cook about 15 minutes - meat will be brown on all sides.

Add water (wine, broth, stalk... whatever liquid you are using), 1/2 tsp salt and the pepper. (I don't like to measure salt or pepper so I just put a bit of salt in my palm and then grind the pepper over top of the pot.)

Heat to boiling

Reduce Heat to low and cover (on my gas stove with my large pot, if I actually turn the burner all the way down to low it does not heat the pot so I am just below medium)

Simmer for 2 to 2.5 hours. The beef will be almost tender so the timing will depend on the cut of beef you are using.

Phase 2:
All all ingredients listed in Phase 2 above. You can change out any of the veggies for other or use only fresh or 2 lbs of frozen, whatever you like!

Cover and cook for 30 minutes or so - check the veggies, if they are all cut about the same size they will cook evenly, move to phase 3 when the veggies are how you like them (firm or soft)

Phase 3:
Put Flour and Cold Water in a tight container and shake well.

Gradually stir into the pot.

Heat to boiling and stir (this will take about 1 minute) and will thickens up liquid so you have stew instead of soup.

I don't know the caloric content but since this can modified in so many ways I am not even going to guess. If you trim the fat from the beef it will be healthier, frozen veggies will have more sodium than fresh... In any case it's...

Yum! Enjoy!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

October Snow

We woke up on Saturday morning to a covering of snow. It melted shortly after the sun came up but is was a beautiful sight.
It has been a very cold October so far. We should be in the 50's or 60's right now but it's snowing! This morning, Monday morning, we woke up to heavy, wet snow. With the promise of more coming until the afternoon.

It is so lovely but I am left to wonder what happened to fall?

This shot is of my favorite tree. It may be the only time we see snow on this tree this year. Half of it fell in a wind storm last year and we are going to take it down over the winter. What a shame. It has to be 50 years old and provides shade to the entire north side of our house and our driveway. It also covers a large part of the neighbors yard and provides shade to the south west side of their house.

I love when snow is so wet and heavy it just sits where ever it falls turning ordinary object like a gate into something wonderful to look at. Then when it starts to get to heavy it falls off in huge snow ball like chunks.
Wish us luck on our commute today. I am very comfortable driving in the snow. But like most other things in life, it's not how careful or competent you are, it's how careful and competent the people around you are.
Happy snow every one and best wishes for a white Halloween!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Again With The Little Things...

When Heidi was about 18 months old Shannon was caring her out of a Target Store. Heidi was wearing a dress but she didn't have on one of those diaper cover things.

Outside the store they have these big red balls. They are used to deter people from driving their cars through the front of the store or on the sidewalk.

Shannon put her on the ball and Heidi thought it was the best thing ever.

When we were walking to the car Heidi kept saying "my butt is falling out!"

We didn't know what she was talking about until we got to the car and realized that when Shannon picked her up off the ball her diaper had come undone and her butt was hanging out!

Now, every time we walk past one of these balls Heidi wants to climb on it.

One night, after enjoying dinner at the Olive Garden in Maple Grove, we walked across the parking lot to whatever that sporting goods store is.

These were really cute. She is cheer leading on the basketball.
And on the soccer ball.
And now she is practicing her karate. Hi-ya!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A New Critter In The House

A few weeks ago Shawn's brother Tony found a very large caterpillar at work. He brought it home for Shawn and Heidi to take care of.

That night we put it into Heidi's butterfly house for safe keeping. She wanted to show it off to Grandma and Grandpa and to take it over to Pat's house. Since it was already late we told her we would do all of that the next morning, put the butterfly house in her room and went to bed.

When we got up the next morning it looked like this:
It cocooned so quickly we were not able to show it off or take pictures of it. I am not sure what kind of moth it will be if it ever does hatch.

The night it was a caterpillar it was very large, bigger than a man's middle finger, and it was green. It did not have hair and I don't recall what the legs looked like. But it's size was amazing. I kept thinking of the Very Hungry Caterpillar book.

Heidi brought it to school for show and tell at the end of the first week. Her teacher said that she had caterpillars like this before and they never came out of their cocoons. She also said that her sister had some that came out after hibernating all winter.

Now I am wondering how long we should keep this thing before we decide it's not coming out. If it hatches before the winter is over we will not be able to put it outside. Looks like we will have it until the spring and then have to figure out what to do with it.

Oh, the joys of having a insect loving daughter and a biology loving husband... :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

To a 4 Year Old... It's The Little Things

A good friend of ours is having a baby so she is turning her crafting room into a baby room. Since she needs to purge her crafting supplies she send this big box of paper over to Heidi.
It is stacked full of different kind of paper. I assume it was for scrap booking but Heidi has other ideas.
She had a great time digging through it. She only made it 1/4 of the way down before she was inspired. I think this box will hold a lot of inspiration throughout the winter!

Heidi loves to make birthday cards for people. Now she has a lot more options!
She spent about 45 minutes working on her project. So much thought went into each cut and each paper decision. She was also very excited to realize that colored paper is what white crayons are made for!
She hardly even knew I was taking the pictures. So intense for a preschooler! Oh, and if you look closely you can see some of her play room that is slowly coming back together.
This is her first project. It's a butterfly for her aunt Briana. Great job Heidi, Briana is going to love it!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

And Here is What 11 Tons of Sand Looks Like Part 2

And here is what 11 tons of sand looks like in a sand box. It took Shawn about 8 hours to move all of this from the driveway to the back of the yard by wheelbarrow. For the first four hours he had some help.

Heidi and I raked the sand when he dumped it. Jess and Ryan came over to help also. Jess pulled weeds from the dirt and Ryan delivered a few loads of sand.

We started Saturday night and by Sunday it was done. Then it started to rain and get cold so play time in the sand has been limited but we will certainly enjoy it next summer!!
And here is a picture of Daisy Mae because she is a ham when the camera comes out.

How can you not love that face!!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's Time To Nut Up Or Shut Up

October 2nd was our 10 year anniversary so as most couples would we celebrated by seeing a Zombie movie. I am a firm believer that there should be a genera called Zombie-Comedy.

Here starts my lame attempt at a movie review.

YOU HAVE TO GO SEE Zombieland. It is a freaking laugh riot.

After Patient Zero is infected with a virus from eating bad gas station food the world is taken over by zombies. There are only a few non-zombies left.

A college student, known as Columbus, is making his way back home to Ohio to find out if his parents have survived the zombie out break. On his way he meets Tallahassee who is also a non-zombie. To make character development even better - Columbus has IBS and Tallahassee has a heck of a craving for a twinkie.

On their adventure they meet only a few people who are non-zombies. Telling who would count as a spoiler so you will just have to go see the movie.

My only complaint - it feels like the roll of Columbus was written for Michael Cera.

Trust me on this one, it rocked! And if you liked Shuan of the Dead you will love Zombieland.