Cookies and Orange for a Pie

Today I spent about 5 hours making three different kinds of cookies. I made raspberry thumb print cookies, chocolate chip and pecan cream cheese cookies and chewy chocolate cookies. Two of the three recipes came from Cooks Illustrated magazine and they are awesome! Anything that I've made from Cooks Illustrated has come out great. I highly recommend it to anyone who is not familiar this magazine.

This evening we have our annual block Christmas party. Everyone brings an ornament and a plate of cookies. We exchange the ornaments and then everyone takes some of the other cookies home. It is a nice, relaxed get together and this year my cookies are actually going to be good! I also made cookies to bring back home to MI for my relative Christmas party. I need to stop typing the word cookies.

Yesterday Dave & I celebrated our first Christmas as a married couple. I bought dinner from Whole Foods, we gave the dogs bully sticks and then we exchanged gifts. My awesome husband got me the Sex & the City ultimate series DVD collection! I also got a Red Wings decal to put on the back of my car, some DVDs, an ornament, and Trivial Pursuit. The inaugural game was won by yours truly! Dave got some t-shirts, books, DVDs, and a beautiful wedding picture to put on his desk. I like that we always know what the other person wants but forgot to put on their list.

Well, I have to go get ready for the party. I hope everyone has safe travels and a wonderful Christmas!!


I made candy!

Of course it isn't to eat. I bought a candy thermometer over 3 years ago with aspirations of broadening my culinary horizons. I opened it yesterday to make fake glass for my science class today. Sad. However, the fake glass turned out great and I am debating which one of my 5 boys I get to break it over their head. That will be tough decision!

I may just try my hand at making something yummy and edible next time!

(this picture was taken after I had only been awake 40 minutes hence the slightly dazed look)


My two dogs

When we first got Dewey back in February there were some very intense moments between the two dogs. I would cry sometimes because I was afraid they would never get along. Now, over 10 months later, we have two dogs that still wrestle but do so without malice. They play together at doggie daycare, try to outsmart each other for their treats and sometimes they cuddle. Usually I am unable to get the camera in time, but not so today. Here are some adorable doggie cuddling moments!


Christmas is around the corner...

It is Friday (now it is Saturday). I have never been so thankful to discover that fact half way through the day. It hasn't been a particularly rough day. However, after standing in line at the post office for over an hour and overhearing a person say something about it being Friday night I turned from weary to happy very quickly. On top of that, I only have one work week until I get a two+ week vacation!

Can I say how much I love Christmastime? I love it! I am not a particularly religious person although I do believe in God and I think religion is a wonderful thing. What I love about the holidays are the people I encounter and the people I love that I get to spend bonus time with. People always talk about crazy holiday shoppers, but in my experience shopping during the holidays is like an unspoken camaraderie. We all know that lines are going to be longer and aisles more crowded. Haven't you ever struck up a 5 person conversation in a checkout line during the holidays? If not, I recommend that you try it. People can surprise you!

Another thing I love about Christmas is well look at my list! Lights on the house, in the house, on a tree, pine scented candles, cookie baking, Christmas card holders, wreaths, wearing green & red, vacation, the dinner table spread, spending time with friends and family, the Sprague party and gift exchange, Sharon's vegetarian minded Christmas food, Sharon's baking, Sharon (!!), the 3 hour long phone call to Grandma, shopping for gifts, receiving gifts, Christmas songs (especially Carol of the Bells) and listening to my kindergarten class sing Must Be Santa. I suppose I could continue this list for another 3 paragraphs, but Dave is patiently waiting for me to finish so we can head up to Boulder for the day.

In less than a week Dave & I will be back in Michigan so you better get ready! See you soon!


What is wrong with people?

In the last 2 days I have seen at least 5 stories that were big enough to make it on the top U.S. stories on cnn.com. All of these stories had one thing in common-animal abuse. What is wrong with people? Why in this country, more so than any other, are animals needlessly abused? There are stories about an owner leaving her dog outside in below freezing temps that he actually froze to the cement. A dog being stabbed with a 10" knife. 110 animals being removed from farms in VT due to neglect. It goes on and on.

I will admit, animal cruelty is not the reason I became a vegetarian over 10 years ago, but it sure is a big factor as to why I still am. Animal abuse happens all over the world, but this country has come of the worst offenses of legal and illegal animal abuse. Our standards for animals fall far below that of much of the rest of the developed world. They are part of our throw away society and it is sickening. People getting a puppy b/c it is cute and then when they don't spend the time or money to train it, they get rid of it b/c of the "behavioural" issues. Animal shelters are overflowing because people are to stupid to get their animals spayed or neutered. Living conditions for animals waiting to die for your dinner are appalling and their deaths are far less humane.

I don't mean to stand on a soap box, but I just get so frustrated with the way so many animals are forced to live and die. There are a lot of people out there who are doing good by these animals. There are farms that go above and beyond what the law mandates, people who volunteer their time and money to rescue organizations and people who live their lives in ethical ways to promote animal well being.

Then there are people that suck...


The week in review

Christmastime is among us and I cannot believe how not on the ball I am. Usually I have already sent out my Christmas cards and mailed my packages by this time. Did you know that we received 4 Christmas cards on Friday? That got me upstairs on my computer writing my annual Christmas letter. Now most of my cards just need stamps and are ready to go. I won a package of holiday cards from our wonderful wedding photographers Smith Gallery Photography so the rest will be sent out when those arrive.

I put up our tree on Thursday, but sadly we only had about 6 or 7 ornaments. Yesterday Dave & I went to Target and Hobby Lobby and bought about 12 more. Now the tree looks much better according to Dave, but I think it is only because all the presents under the tree are for him so far. The outdoor lights also got put up yesterday by Dave. Since he did most of the prep work last year, it only took him about 30 minutes. We didn't put any lights on the 2nd floor b/c we don't have a ladder yet.

After our Christmas themed day, we took the dogs for a walk. They are slowly getting used to their gentle leader harnesses and walking them has progressively become much easier. At first they would constantly try to get the harnesses off by rolling around on the grass and rubbing their snouts against our legs. Now they only try to remove them intermittently. If you ever get a dog that pulls on his/her leash so much that you are afraid they are hurting themselves I would strongly recommend the Gentle Leader. We tried a few harnesses before this one, but this is the only one that really discourages pulling and doesn't hurt your dog.

Not a very eventful week here at the homestead. Oh well! All you Michigan friends and family - I will be seeing you in 2 weeks! Happy Sunday!


San Francisco and 'Turkey' Day

The joys of working in the school system. My a.m. job has a 2 hour delay today and my p.m. job is closed. It started snowing as we were driving home from the airport late Saturday night/Sunday morning. It took us 2 hours to get home when it normally only takes 1 and the snow kept coming all day Sunday. All this means is that I have time to blog this morning!

We spent Thanksgiving week in San Francisco with Dave's parents, my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and their newly born twins. It was nice to relax, get to know my new relatives better and hang out with the little ones. I always forget how tiny newborns are. It has been over 6 years since Nick & Sabrina were that small! Hopefully in the next year or two Dave and I will have a little once, but until then we are super happy to be Aunt and Uncle to such great kids!

Stephen and Marissa live a nice part of the city, granted I do not know much about San Francisco but I liked their neighborhood and felt completely safe walking around. One day, Dave and I walked to the ocean from their house and it was only about a 20 minute walk. The waves were spectacular and the view of the bridge and cliffs with monstrously large houses on them was amazing! While in the city we also took a family trip downtown on the cable cars. We walked around, had sundaes at the Ghirardelli store, and I went into Tiffany's for the first time! I pointed out to Dave what I wanted for Christmas...maybe next year or in 2025!

Thanksgiving day was relaxed and very yummy! I made a mushroom, goat cheese, red pepper bread pudding that was pretty good. We also had stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, brussel sprouts with nuts, turkey (for those who eat it), homemade apple pie, and pumpkin dessert with dulce de leche. It was all very delicious and I was grateful for not having to cook everything myself! One day I will be the mother or mother-in-law in charge of providing that meal for my family, but until then I will enjoy being the daughter and daughter-in-law!

(Dave and Peter, his soon-to-be godson)

(In middle of THE dinner)

(Post-sundaes at Ghirardelli)

(Guess where I am)


Congratulations Kelly & Andy!!!

Some of our good friends from college expanded their brood early this morning and we are more than thrilled for them! On top of their cats and each other they have added a beautiful baby girl into the mix!

Congratulations Kelly & Andy! You are going to be such wonderful parents and we are happy that everyone is healthy and maybe just a little tired!

Mt. Cutler hike

Sundays are usually lazy days, but when you are bored by 10:00 a.m. something needs to happen. Dave decided it would be a good day to take the dogs for a hike. Since they are still slightly unused to trails we needed to choose a shorter hike. We drove to Cheyenne Canon towards a trail we had taken them on before, but decided last minute to go to Mt. Cutler. Dave had hiked it before and said it was an easy, but nice hike.

On the way we encountered a fox sauntering down the road with a recent kill in its mouth and then a buck almost ran in front of our car, but then swerved off to the left. We hadn't even reached the trail head and already it was an exciting day! We parked, put on the dogs harnesses and we're off. The trail is about 1.1 miles to the top, but it was a slow and steady incline so it wasn't too bad. Piper freaked when we walked over a bridge. She slunk low and did not know what to make of it. Dewey on the other hand just pranced along. I have decided that if Dewey could talk he would do so with an English accent. It's very fitting.

When we got to the top the dogs drank a ton of water and actually behaved long enough for me to take some great pictures! Earlier in the year we took them to Petco for professional pictures and they apparently were very rambunctious. Fortunately I was in WA with my sister so Dave got to experience that on his own! On the way back down Dewey tried desperately to take the lead from Piper but mean mommy held him back. She cannot walk that fast! Once in the car the dogs both tried to sprawl out on the back seat, but with Piper being bigger she usually ends up pushing Dewey off. Eventually they found a comfortable position with Piper laying her head over Dewey's. It was too cute and I have about 20 pictures to prove it!

Once home, the dogs slept for the remainder of the day and Dave and I watched most of season 1 of Veronica Mars. For those of you not familiar with this smart, short-lived television series then you are missing out. Even Dave proudly says that he is a fan! Well I have to go run errands and get ready to leave for San Francisco tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving!


I'm now a Mrs. R...

...and I've done the leg work to prove it!

For anyone who has ever legally changed their name, I feel your pain! Especially now with women getting married later in life. I was on my own for nearly 10 years before walking down the aisle, or through the garden in my case. That is 10 years of signing up for catalogs, establishing credit, working, taking out loans, and joining clubs. I have a feeling that I will be encountering my former last name in weird places for years to come.

I also find it interesting what some places require. In some cases I just needed to make a phone call. Others required a fax or mailed in copy of my marriage license. Other required that I make an appearance and possibly wait for up to 2 hours. What I find most ridiculous is getting your passport updated. If you got your passport over 1 year ago then you have to pay $75.00 to get it updated with your new name. Whereas most people who never change their name pay about $100 every 10 years, however, if you get married before then you are forking over another $75. As if the government doesn't already get most of you money anyway!

Now I am just waiting for the massive influx of documents and cards that have my new last name on them. At least I like getting mail!


The Impossible Quiz 1 & 2

I have discovered "The Impossible Quiz" and I am hooked.



Have fun and get ready to be frustrated!

Snow, Cold and Panda

This past week has been pretty low key due to me getting sick. After only 3 weeks of working in a Kindergarten classroom I got a cold. I cannot wait until flu season... The boy I am working with has not yet learned the art of covering your mouth when you cough. In fact, most Kindergartners seem to lack this skill autism or not. I have a worksheet all about covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze that I working on with him. We'll see.

We got our first significant snowfall this past Friday. There wasn't much accumulation, but I determine the first significant snowfall by the amount of car accidents I hear about on the radio. The roads were not even that icy, but people forget that you just need to slow down and keep some distance between you and the car in front of you. Hopefully by the time we actually get some real snowfall people will have remembered how to drive in the winter.

Right now Panda is visiting us in Colorado. Panda is my niece Sabrina's school project. He gets to spend all school year traveling while the rest of us have to work and go to school. Slacker. Yesterday Dave and I took Panda to Garden of the Gods and Manitou Springs. The same two places we take every guest. It never gets old especially when we go out to eat at my favorite restaurant, Adam's Mountain Cafe. They have a ton of vegetarian and vegan options and I have never had a bad meal there. If you ever get chance order the sesame tofu with your salad. It is only a thousand times better than the stuff that Whole Foods passes off as sesame tofu. Seriously.

(Me & Panda at Garden of the Gods)

(Panda enjoying my Green Mountain Polenta)


What have we been up to...

It has been a whole week since I last blogged. I either have given up on my pursuit of not-another-fly-by-night blog, or I have actually been busy!

As you can probably tell from my last blog, I am thrilled about the outcome of the election and am looking forward to this change that is in the air. I cried tears of joy last Tuesday. My generation has lived through some pretty crappy historical events so it is nice to witness good history in the making. This is something I will be proud to tell my future children about. Hopefully I will one day get to tell them that I was there when equal rights for ALL became law...

My new job has been going really well. I like the people that I work with and the kids have pretty much gotten used to me. I get random hugs from 5 year olds everyday! The boy that I am there to oversee constantly surprises me. He comes up with unique ways of saying no without actually using the words. He is not allowed to say no and when he does he loses points towards a reward. He is so smart and keeps me on my toes. I thought getting up at 6:15 am everyday was going to be hard, but I look forward to going to work! I am still teaching with Science Matters as well, which is great because I enjoy that work too.

Around the house we have finally painted the laundry room. We bought a nice blue paint before our wedding, but kept putting it off until this past weekend. I brought all the supplies upstairs and told Dave that we were just going to get it done. It was the last all white room in the house and it drove me nuts walking past it everyday. Our laundry room is right next to our bedroom so there is no avoiding it. I got a 5 x 7 rug from Kmart to cover the ugly brownish orange linoleum floor and painted the trim a 'french white' I do believe. It looks a thousand times

I am not sure what project we are going to do next, but I'll keep you posted!!!

..and just because I think they are adorable I will leave you with a few pictures of my dogs.



Today is such an exciting day for this country. The world is watching to see how this election is going to pan out. We have a real chance to make a difference in our lives, the lives of those around us and in the eyes if the world. This is my 3rd time being eligible to vote in the presidential elections and this is going to be my 3rd time voting for whom I think is the best candidate.

Dave got to the polls 30 minutes before they opened and said there was already a line. Do you know how great it is that people are really amped about this election? It gives me hope that our young country might not be as dense as previously feared.

It is going to be a long night for many people around the world and I hope that tomorrow morning, though sleep deprived, that I am smiling for change!


1 week in!

I started my new job this past Tuesday. Unfortunately, the boy I am going to be working with was sick my first two days. However, this gave me an opportunity to familiarize myself with the classroom and the daily routine. I will admit I was a little nervous. No book can actually prepare you for working with autism. On Thursday I finally got to meet my new pal and he put a smile on my face from the first second! I stooped down and said hello and he smiled at me big and bright and said hello back.

In just one day I learned to not fear autism and I threw all I thought I knew out the window. Here is a kid who needs to learn things that every other kid needs to learn. He just learns them a little differently. There are so many things that he already understands and I can tell just by looking at his face what kind of mood he's in. I can certainly tell when I am annoying him, but, as the adult, I am supposed to make sure he understands and follows the schedule and rules. There were a few moments that I was not sure exactly what to do, but there is a strong support system at the school for both of us. Every day someone new would introduce themselves as a person that I can rely upon for help. It is a very supportive working environment.

I think I have found a job that is going to teach me a lot about myself. It will be challenging at times, but it will also be more rewarding than any other job I have ever had. I also get to spend my days in a kindergarten classroom. Is there any better working environment? I get to dress up for Halloween and play games and have recess and experience true joy in the little things that are so monumental in the mind of a 4 and 5 year olds. I am now way more excited than nervous to arrive at work everyday.

Bring on week 2!!

(Tourist Sara off to work on Halloween)


Para Sara

Last week I submitted an application on the District 20 website. I was hoping to start my career working in a non-certified position in an elementary school. This was a path that I slowly realized over the last year while working for Science Matters. I love the whole elementary school environment. The people that work there are doing it because they care. The kids are still young enough to respect authority and besides K-5 is such a fun time for kids!

The very next day after I submitted my app, I got a phone call requesting an interview as a Special Ed Paraprofessional. I had already researched paraprofessionals and knew that most are in a special ed environment. I have never worked with kids who have special needs, but I do know that I up for the challenge and I care which is a good starting point. The interview took place the next day and there were 3 interviewers and 8 questions. I am good with people, but I did get a little nervous. I tried to answer the questions as honestly as I could while ignoring the fact that I could feel my face getting red. 12 minutes later, it was over.

The next day while out running errands I got a phone call offering me the job. I cannot believe that my new career path is starting so soon! I learned that I would be working one on one with an autistic kindergartner. I went to Borders and got a book called Embracing Autism and spent the weekend reading. What I learned is that I should learn to expect the unexpected, avoid teaching him learned helplessness and to throw all my expectations out the window. Basically, this is a job that you really cannot prepare for. I am excited but also scared that I will inadvertently mess up his educational plan. Here is a kid that we are trying to prepare to live a world that is our norm, not his. I have a feeling that I going to learn a lot about myself, society and autism this upcoming year.

Here I go....


A week in the life...

Day by day our lives aren't very exciting so if I sum up our week maybe, just maybe, it might sound more dazzling. We'll see... Here is goes in no particular order.

The vet. Any pet owner should be familiar with their vet. Any multiple pet owner should personally be supporting their vets family with how much money they drop there. We didn't take on more than we could handle though. We got rescue dogs and cats because we know that we will give them a good quality of life. That quality of life includes annual and bi-annual vaccinations, teeth cleanings, grooming, nail clippings, boardings, and the random semi-emergency that labs seem to get themselves into. Fortunately we love our vet clinic and they love our animals, although Ivy does test their patience!

Yesterday we had to take Dewey in to get blood drawn so we could continue him on Heartguard. He is now a big, short and stout boy of 40.6 lbs! Today I am taking Piper to get a myriad of her annual vaccinations. Piper does much better at the vet than her brother. When Dewey is intimidated he growls. When Dave took him last time apparently he wasn't a very good boy. I don't have too much trouble with them at the vet though.

I had a job interview yesterday for a PT position as a Special Ed Paraprofessional. It was actually my cousin Steve who suggested that I check out being a Teacher's Aide. Paraprofessionals are more common since the No Child Left Behind Act and it sounds like exactly what I want to do at this point in my life. I knew I wanted to work in the elementary school system in a classified, but not certified, position. As a paraprofessional, I would be part of a team and would be helping a child work towards their educational goals. I don't have much experience working with special needs kids, but I am willing to learn. Even if this position falls through, I live within 20 minutes of 3 school districts so I have options.

The other morning we woke up to about an inch of snow on the ground. We knew it was coming, but that doesn't mean I was ready to see it yet! Dave lit a fire in the fireplace two nights in a row, but the 10 day forecast now predicts sunshine and 60s. Winter in Colorado is so weird. Here is a mental image for you though - Dewey in a foot of snow! Dave and I laughed for quite some time at Dewey's expense. Isn't that we have pets and kids? Entertainment value!!??

I have been driving Dave's car this past week and vice versa. I know Dave likes that my car is more sporty and he can drive like the Jersey boy wind in it! I like being able to sit higher up in the Jeep, but I do miss my little car. Maybe we can each have custody of the opposite car every other week. We'll see. Once it starts snowing more habitually though, I am taking the Jeep every day! My little wonderful car lacks 4 wheel drive.

I have been reading a ton lately. I have always been a fast and voracious reader, but there are times when I just can't stop. My vice are romance novels! My sister Mary introduced me to them 15+ years ago and I have been a fan ever since. There are certain authors I prefer more than others and I absolutely cannot stand the ones with weak female protagonists. If a woman is willing for forgive a man willy nilly for infidelity then that is not the book for me. I like flawed but redeemable characters. Currently I will read any Julia Quinn or Susan Wiggs novel. They are wonderful!

Well I am just about done with our ever so exciting week. Yippee......


Basket Case

I have fallen in love with baskets. They always held a certain appeal to me and no trip to Michael's is compete until I have perused the basket section. I never really had a real use for them until I started organizing our house. Now I have baskets for magazines, for closet storage, for kleenex, purses, and even for potpourri! I can't stop with the basket lust. I want wicker baskets all over the house, but the suckers can be expensive so it is just one at a time. I hope my house doesn't turn into a kitschy country basket abode.


Cats rule!

I love that even after 5 1/2 years I can still walk into a room, see my not-so-little Madison and everything else just melts away. I have 2 cats and 2 dogs and I love them all equally but each one has different personalities and Maddy takes the cake for sweetheart of the pack. She is the most adorable, loving cat - almost equal to my sister's cat Enterprise!

People who say they are not cat people have never had a cat like Maddy. It is the assumption that cats are aloof and you can just leave them be and all will be okay. That is so not true. Cats need to be loved, talked to, brushed, and reprimanded (by spray bottles only!) Dave once read that while dogs need to see you as a member of their pack, cats view you in a maternal/paternal light. So I really am Maddy and Ivy's mom and need to treat them as my "kids".

What I really hate is the question, are you a dog person or a cat person? Why don't they ever leave room to be both? If you happen to be a dog AND a cat person I think that just makes you more adaptable and well-rounded. I am a bit biased on the topic though.

Here is a picture of my sweet Madison that I took last night. I just want to go hug her now.


November 4th

It doesn't matter if you are Green, Independent, Democrat or Republican, we all know that the upcoming election is very important. The economy is in the crapper (Dave's words) and now more than ever Americans need a President they can believe in.

What I cannot abide by though is other peoples intolerance and ignorance. If you know me then you already know who I am voting for so this next part should not come as a surprise. My Dad gave us an Obama yard sign to bring home with us after our wedding. I proudly displayed it in our front yard until earlier today when somebody stole it. We called the Obama campaign office to see if they had more signs, which they did. We drove there straight away and had a nice talk with the volunteer. She said that sadly many people have been victims of the Obama sign thief.

Seriously people.

First of all, by stealing my sign you are not deterring me from voting for whom I think is the best candidate. Second of all, I am just going to go right back to the campaign office and donate more money and get more signs. In the end, these sign thieves are just helping Obama's campaign. We bought four more today in anticipation of a few more sign thieves before November 4th. I have also taped one inside our window. I am not afraid of voicing my opinion and if people disagree with my views that is their prerogative, but don't be lame and steal from me. It is against the law and is not what this election should be about.

Vote on November 4th!! Just do it!

Please Don't Stop the Music

Almost 4 years ago now I dove headfirst into the land of music and have never regretted it. I have always liked John Denver, Neil Diamond, Gordon Lightfoot, and Elvis because of Mom. Later on, my sister Marlene introduced me to The Cure, Depeche Mode, and The Smiths and I have Amy to thank for Erasure, but I had never really explored much beyond that. Winter of2005 was a pretty low point in my life. I had for the first time in my life really, truly had my heart broken and it hurt. My first tattoo followed shortly thereafter, but I realized that probably wasn't the best hobby to get help me get over my hurt. Don't get my wrong, I love my tattoo and have never regretted getting it, or my 2nd one for that matter, but it isn't the way to heal a broken heart. Bridget Jones chose vodka and I chose music.

I am a list maker and going through my old notebooks I have pages upon pages of songs and bands that I discovered during this period of my life. Woxy.com became my bible and Pitchfork became my news. I always had the latest issues of Filter, Under The Radar and The Big Takeover. Music was my life during this time and it really did help me through a tough patch. Before I knew it my heart was on the mend and I had a great knowledge and love of the music that surrounded my life.

Arcade Fire, Artic Monkeys, Bauhaus, Bjork, Bloc Party, Bright Eyes, Broken Social Scene, Camper Van Beethoven, The Concretes, The Detroit Cobras, the Doves, The Elected, The Fall, The Flaming Lips, Franz Ferdinand, The Futureheads, Hard-Fi, Holly Golightly, Hot Chip, Husker Du, Interpol, Iron & Wine, James, Jenny Lewis, Joy Division, Kaiser Chiefs, Keane, LCD Soundsystem, Le Tigre, M. Ward, Magnetophone, The New Pornographers, Of Montreal, The Postal Service, Queens of the Stone Age, Rogue Wave, The Rosebuds, The Shins, The Sights, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Spoon, Stereolab, The Strokes, The Sugarcubes, Underworld, the White Stripes, and XTC are just some of the artists who helped get me trough. They remain some of my favorites today. I love music. I love hearing a song and the radio and actually get excited for more!

I am currently making a new car Cd. I make a new car Cd about every 3 months and rotate out one of my old ones from my 6 Cd changer. Dave usually gets the one I rotate out and then he gets to enjoy them like they were new. So far on my new car Cd I have these songs:

  1. "X amount of Words" by Blue October (I am really enjoying this band right now)
  2. "I Don't Remember" by Peter Gabriel (How can you not like Peter Gabriel?)
  3. "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" by Cake (A classic song by Cake)
  4. "Black Betty" by Ram Jam (This is just a fun song)
  5. "Sissyneck" by Beck (Odelay is the best Beck album in my opinion)
  6. "For Reasons Unknown" by The Killers (First heard the Killers on my way to work when their first single "Somebody Told Me" from Hot Fuss was released. I have loved them since)
  7. "Overweight" by Blue October
  8. "Sex on Fire" by Kings of Leon (I've had a Kings of Leon cd for awhile, but really didn't get into them until their new song "Sex on Fire" was released)
  9. "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay (I like Keane better than Coldplay, but I love this song)
  10. "Mercy" by Duffy (This song was used for a routine on So You Think You Can Dance? and it was great!)
  11. "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis (She has an amazing voice! Her music is a bit commercial, but I cannot get over how pure her voice is!)
  12. "Beverly Hills" by Weezer (Oldie but goodie by Weezer)
I still need about 6-7 more songs for this Cd, but I need to think about it for awhile. A good car Cd can't be made in a day.

Any recommendations????


Matron Sara

So I am the Matron of Honor in my best friends wedding on July 18th. I am thrilled and excited and cannot wait to be there for her! I love Becky and miss her so much.

Today I started thinking about the bridal shower and bachelorette party. I live 1300 miles away and do not know the other bridesmaids. I just e-mailed Becky for their e-mail addresses and I am hoping they will be super helpful and awesome since I can only do so much living in CO. I will be in MI for Christmas and then again for the shower and the wedding. Most of that time will be devoted to Becky and I am hoping it will involve at least one trip with a bad karaoke version of a Mase or Shania Twain song!!

I don't really know why I am writing this blog. I guess I just want to be a great Matron of Honor for her and I want her wedding and the events surrounding it to be all that she has ever wanted. Becky has such a big heart and is always there for the people in her life so she deserves to have the people in her life give back tenfold.

Yesterday I looked at houses for sale in Ann Arbor. Sometime I wish we still lived there near family and friends. I am glad that we moved though. My life needed a little shaking up and this time together has really helped strengthen mine and Dave's relationship. I would really like to end up back in Ann Arbor though. I have never felt more at home then when I lived there. Only time will tell. Until then I will be the best long distance friend, sister, daughter, aunt and matron of honor that I can be.


I can't stop redecorating

I have been on a huge redecorating/organizing kick lately. You've already read the blogs about the pantry, basement and dining room, but I have yet to tell you about our bedroom and living room.

I have been wanting nightstands forever! How convenient to have a light right next your bed and a place to put my glasses and most recent romance novel. Ahh nightstands. At Target last week they had tall, black nightstands on clearance. Our bedroom set is black and our bed is tall. Sounded like a no brainer. I brought them home, set them up and decided that our bedroom needed to be rearranged. I waited until Dave got home since the bed is HEAVY and then we went to work. We moved the dogs crates to make them not so dangerous in middle of the night, the crates not the dogs. Moved the bed about 2-3 feet to the right (made a huge difference) and moved some lamps around. Nothing drastic, but it look and feels great.

Moving on to the living room. We really don't spend too much in our front living room unfortunately. All our nice stuff is in there and we do not trust the dogs enough to not destroy everything. Anyway. We bought another set of bookshelves since the one we currently have has long been overflowing. I got new, uniform photo albums and severely edited the pictures I previously had in albums. I used to throw all my pictures in album regardless. I had pictures of people who I don't even remember. They are gone. I only kept the pictures of people I know and the photos that make me smile.

Once all this was done and our new china cabinet arrived, the bay window area of the living room looked unfinished comparatively. My sister-in-law gave us some light green curtains last time we were in Michigan so I decided to incorporate them into the schema. I went to Target and got a few accessories and now our front living room is complete...for the time being!

I love decorating!!


China Cabinet

We finally got a china cabinet so all my pretty stuff now has a home. We got a ridiculously great price, plus it was delivered two days later! Without further ado, I introduce our newest addition!

"and somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringing"

I have probably posted this before and I will probably post is again, but I absolutely love Sunday morning. I don't know where or when this love started, but I feel like it has always been there. I have worked on Sunday morning, gone to church (a long time ago), woken up married, dealt with tenacious puppies, snow storms, baked muffins, slept in and missed the entire morning, and enjoyed many first sips of Sunday morning coffee. All these mornings have been great and I wouldn't trade in a single one them. Regardless of what happens on Sunday morning, the trill and the luster is still there. I hope my marriage is one, big, long Sunday morning. Wouldn't that be lovely?

This particular Sunday morning I woke up early with the dogs and let Dave sleep in. While they were outside I made a pot of Green Mountain Rain Forest Nut coffee and got their food ready. Then I snapped the cutest picture of the two of them being sweet!

When we first got Dewey, he and Piper were not exactly the best of friends. In fact, there were times when I would cry because I thought we were going to have to give Dewey back. They gave each other scars and growled and bit and snapped. They both wanted to be dominate. Fortunately though, they both saw Dave and I as the pack leaders which was promising. Fast forward 9 months and you would not believe that these two could have killed each other before. When we take them to doggie daycare, the staff won't separate the two. Even though Dewey should not be in the big dog pen, that is where Piper is and so that is where Dewey goes. When we look at them on the web cam (it is a yuppie doggie daycare) they are always next to each other. Two dogs are just so much better than one!

We are getting a new china cabinet later so I will post more then!

Happy Sunday Morning!!!



When I Googled "basement organization" all the articles that came up were about basements that had suffered years, if not decades, of neglect. That thought terrifies me. One day walking into my basement and then turning right around b/c I can't even stand the sight of it. So I went straight to Lowe's and got two pairs of shelves and lots of little clear Rubbermaid containers. On Saturday Dave and I went downstairs and did not emerge until it was up to my standards...well almost.

Our basement wasn't really messy. We haven't lived here long enough for that, but there was not enough storage and a lot of stuff was just hanging out on the floor. The basement is also my crafting area and I have a hard time working in a cluttered space. About 2 hours and a car load of stuff for Goodwill later, we were done!

(The shelves from Lowe's)

(Our new wall of organization)

Next projects are the backyard and laundry room. Dave just fixed one retaining wall in the back and we are going to buy more of the bricks to create a flower a bed along the back fence. The laundry room is going to have a massive transformation. New paint, bead board, flooring, shelves, the works! I am so excited!!!


Marlene Rocks!

Getting the mail is one of my favorite things. It is like getting a present everyday, even though I usually end up recycling my "presents". Oh well! Yesterday when I got the mail there was an large squishy envelope from my sister. Even though I did not know what was inside, it made me smile! Once I opened it, it made me laugh. I love how well my sisters know me.

(My favorite candy!)

Thank you Marlene! I love them.

Pantry Reorganization

So I have been bored, bored, bored lately. I am currently applying for a 2nd part-time job so that will help alleviate some of this boredom, but until then... Wedding planning was so time consuming that now I have oodles of time to fill everyday. If you were me, what would you do? Let me tell you what you would do - clean and organize!!! I started with an area of our house hat literally gets used daily - the pantry. Anyone that knows me is probably thinking there is no way that Sara has an unorganized house, but there is always room for improvement!

I went to Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond to get ideas to make the pantry a little more functional. I ended up getting some Rubbermaid baskets, some square, cloth baskets and two of the wire shelves that you can put stuff underneath and on top of. Then I cleaned out our IKEA recycle bins that formerly held plastic and tin in one and glass in the other. We just got a new, HUGE recycle bin from Bestway Disposal (our trash collector) that doesn't require sorting. Woohoo!

Next up was the fun part! I removed everything from the pantry, cleaned the shelves and moved some stuff that didn't belong there to the current resting places. I put some of our new wedding gifts on the top shelf, mostly serving dishes, and then worked my way down. I must say I am very pleased with the results. My favorite new feature of the pantry are the two cloth boxes that now house our shopping bags. Before they were just thrown on the bottom shelf and looked really cluttered. Now they look great!! Of course I have pictures of my new, lovely and organized pantry!

(The boxes from Target that house my shopping bags)

(The orange Rubbermaid baskets, and wire shelves)

(The finished product!)

Next project: The Basement!!


Sara's Top 10 signs of fall

10. The leaves on the few deciduous trees we have start changing.

9. You start pulling out your favorite sweaters to warm up the chilly nights.

8. My birthday has come and gone

7. The flowers in front start browning and not due to my lack of a green thumb.

6. You go the store and see pumpkins and apple cider.

5. I get to pull my thick smartwools out of hibernation.

4. The Holiday cooking issues of magazines hit the stands.

3. I start thinking about Christmas cards and my annual Holiday letter.

2. The down comforter goes back on the bed.

and my most favorite sign of fall

1. Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice coffee is back!!!


I can't stop writing

I finished my thank cards today. I've sent 5 packages in the last 2 days. Prepped for my first Science club that started this morning. Sent numerous e-mails. Still, I have the need to be writing. I guess I could bore my journal, but instead I'll bore you.

This past Sunday we drove down to Penrose, CO with the dogs to go pumpkin picking. Dewey almost made it the whole trip without losing the contents of his stomach, but that last mile really got him. He's getting better though. Anyway, at the pumpkin patch we let them wander with their leashes still attached and they stayed pretty close. There were a lot of kids around so didn't let them run off leash, but I wish we could. They are still just a little young for that. We got three pumpkins and can't wait until it gets closer to Halloween so we can carve them!

I started teaching again this morning at an elementary school in its second year. The art room in which I taught has floor to ceiling windows with the most incredible view of Pikes Peak. I guess I to would be inspired to be artistic with a view like that. What happened to small, rectangular windows 5 feet off the ground? Kids today don't know how good they have it.

Our lawn is looking the best it has all summer. I am so proud of Dave for not giving up on it and making it look beautiful. I think he is somewhat relieved to know that he has a landscaper in him after all. He mowed it today and I actually want to go sit on it. I haven't said that about our lawn yet.

Honeycrisp apples are in season so get to the store and buy them while they are delicious! I got some organic ones at Whole Foods the other day and have to go back and get more. They also had concord grapes from MI. They are either pre- or post season, but I had to have them. Concord grapes, white peaches, and honeycrisp apples are the absolute best varieties of fruit at the peak of their season. I am nearly salivating just thinking about them.

Since this post has been pretty scatter-brained I am just going to through some photos in here for the heck of it.

(Dave & the dogs at the pumpkin patch)

(my handsome boy Dewey sleeping)

(Pretty Piper looking coy)

(Putt-putting in August)


Excuse me Matron

Yesterday my best friend and Maid of Honor in my wedding asked me to be her Matron of Honor for her wedding on July 25, 2009. Yeah!!

For those of you who read my wedding planning blog you already know how important she is to me and I am touched and honored that she wants me to be an integral part of her wedding. Becky is my sister without the whole same parents thing. We talked on the phone yesterday for over an hour and it was nice. Even though we live 1300 miles apart she is still right here with me all the time.

My only grievance would be that she had to wait until I got married so now I am a Matron. That makes me feel so old!



We're back!! We arrived back in Colorado on the 25th after traveling for about 20 hours. Tired, but content is a good description of how you feel after a trip like this. Ireland was beautiful! It did not rain once while we were there. Locals kept saying it was the nicest they had seen it since May. My Mom says the weather was courtesy of my Grandpa Sprague!

Anyway. I could write pages about our trip, but I will just write a summary for now. FYI - a summary written by me may be as long as some peoples entire view.

Wednesday, September 17th - My birthday and the first official day of our honeymoon. We flew from Denver to Newark and stayed the night at my new in-laws. Joan made brownies for my birthday and they were delicious!

Thursday, September 18th - Our flight didn't leave Newark until 7 pm so we ran some errands in NJ and hung out with Bob & Joan until it was time to leave for the airport. Once at the airport, we realized that our seats weren't next to each other and the guy working the desk did not care. Fortunately, the gentleman sitting next to me switched with Dave. Unfortunately, they were exit row seats that didn't recline. It was a long flight and we didn't sleep very much. At least the destination was worth it!

Friday, September 19th - We arrived in Dublin around 7:3o am, got our luggage, went through customs and picked up our rental car. We decided to get a GPS for the car, which was the best idea ever. We had brought along a road atlas and that would not have cut it with those roads. We went to our hotel and then caught a bus into downtown Dublin. We were tired but wanted to try and make it through the day. In Dublin we saw Trinity College, walked around some shopping areas and went to the Guinness Store House at St. James Gate. This is the original Guinness factory and it is stil brewed there today. After the tour you get a free Guinness in a round glass bar on the top of the building. It looks out over Dublin city and is amazing! Then we went to the hotel and slept for a long time. Did I mention that the hotel had two single beds? Awesome first night of the honeymoon!

(Dave at Trinity College)
(Me at the Guinness Store House)

Saturday, September 20th - We left the hotel and Dublin behind us to drive across the country to Ennis, Co. Clare. Along the way we stopped at our first of many OPW (Office of Public Works) sites. We bought a pass for 21 euro that allowed us entry to all OPW sites. This first place was called Emo Court and was beautiful!! There are over 1,000 different types of trees on the property, which has plenty of paths. We also took a tour of the inside of the house. It was very informative. Then we continued our drive and went to the Cliffs of Moher on the west side of the country. It is a popular tourist attraction and had gorgeous views of the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean. We walked around for a bit and then headed to our first B&B, ate dinner in Ennis and went to bed.

(Me at Emo Court)

(Me and Dave at the Cliffs of Moher)

Sunday, September 21st - We left our B&B and started towards the Dingle Peninsula in Co. Kerry where our 2nd B&B was located. This was probably my favorite day in Ireland. We stopped first in Adare, Co. Limerick where we saw the Adare castle and some of the beautiful town! Adare Castle is another OPW site. It was built in the 13the century and is just ruins now, but it was a very nice tour and offered great photo-ops. Then it was off to the Ardfert Cathedral in Ardfert, Co. Kerry. The Gaelic Games All-Ireland Final between Co. Kerry and Co. Tyrone was going on so all the roads and sites in Kerry were virtually empty.

The Cathedral was pretty neat, but the lady behind the desk recommended we go to the old Friary about 1/2 mile away and we figured what the hey. So glad we did!! The Ardefert Friary was my favorite part of the whole trip! It is completely unattended, there is no admission and you can walk through and explore without boundaries. We were the only people there and had a blast! We walked up stairs, through corridors, into dark rooms and rooftops. So cool! From Ardfert we drove to Dingle, Co. Kerry, found our B&B and then had dinner in town.

(The Rusek's at Adare Castle)

(Dave exploring the Ardfert Friary)

Monday, September 22nd - From Dingle we drove towards Killarney, Co. Kerry to see Muckross House and Gardens in Killarney National Park. The house is really more of a mansion with most of the original furniture. There are some really nice pieces that were built specifically for Queen Victoria's visit in the mid-19th century. The gardens around the house are also very nice and well manicured. From there we headed to Blarney Castle in Blarney, Co. Cork. It was definitely a tourist trap, but I would still recommend it because they castle is very beautiful and you can walk through it and imagine what it would have been like hundreds of years ago. I almost didn't the Blarney stone because you are perched over an opening like 5 stories high, but I closed my eyes and just did it. After the castle we headed to Kinsale, Co. Cork to our B&B. Kinsale is the culinary epicenter of the country and we had dinner at a very yummy restaurant called Man Friday.

(Me & Dave b/w Dingle and Killarney)

(Kissing the Blarney Stone)

Tuesday, September 23rd - We decided that after driving so much we were just going to stay around Kinsale on Tuesday. We went on a historical walking tour of the town with Don. It was so informative and Don was just the cutest old Irish man! After the tour we went to Charles Fort, a star shaped fort used until WWII. There were a lot of ruins and great views of the Atlantic Ocean. I think Dave liked this place the best. I got tons of great pictures! The sun was working in my favor this day. After Charles Fort we headed up the Blarney Woolen Mills to get our obligatory Irish wool sweaters! Then we went back to Kinsale for dinner and to our B&B for sleep!

(Me in Kinsale)

(Dave at Charles Fort)

Wednesday, September 24th - This was a day of a lot of driving. We drove about 140 kilometers to Waterford, Co. Waterford and then another 12o kilometers to Ashford, Co. Wicklow to our B&B. We toured the Waterford Crystal Factory which was pretty neat. We got to see glassblowers in action and then people carving the crystal. Our B&B was only 12 km away from Glendalough which has some great monastic ruins along with some great mountain views. We walked for about 3 hours along the many paths around the two lake in the valley, went to dinner and then back to the B&B.

(Me at the Waterford Crystal Factory)

(Dave at Glendalough)

Thursday, September 25th - We woke up at 6 am so we could head to the airport for our 10:55 am flight to Newark. We got our VAT taxes back and then waited for a plane in which we got not only seats with extra leg room, but they reclined!!! We had about a 3.5 hour layover in Newark so we ate and read then hopped on our plane to Denver, drove home and slept for about 10 hours. We picked up our dogs the next day and now life is back to normal.

I hope you enjoyed my super long summary!!