Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Look at my awesome new pants!

The sole purpose of the post is to show all who are interested (and who wouldn't be) how great Keith looks in his new pants/sweater combo. I am proud to say that for the first time in weeks he was actually too hot at work, and this allowed him to shed his sad, worn-out, and full of little lint balls hoodie. Yay, long skinny pants!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The worst thing about eczema

This winter has been incredibly cold (-30 w/wind chill the other day). What is perhaps worse though is how dry it has been. Over the years I have been annoyed on and off by a tiny patch of eczema on the lateral aspect of my middle finger. With this extra dry weather coupled with having to wash my hands umpteen times a day to rid them of germs and doggie stink, my eczema is spreading. Now the whole middle digit is red and cracked and stinging like crazy. I'm also getting textbook antecubital fossa involvement. So, to treat it I have taken to wearing a glove on my right hand at night in order to get the steroid cream and emollient to absorb better. This is the worst part of having eczema -- operating my laptop mouse with a glove doesn't work, so I am forced to navigate left handed. Difficult. Yes I realize that if this is my biggest concern, then I have a nice life indeed.

With the cold weather hitting this weekend and Keith being on call, I spent most of the weekend baking cookies. This crazy cookie lady motivated this madness, which will likely never be repeated in this house. Co-workers are getting a variety of delectable cookies though, and I too made biscotti, and it is awesome. It was so hard to wrap it up and not eat half of it in the process.

Tomorrow I will try to post pictures of Keith in his awesome new, long enough and not too baggy and super good deal cords and nice wool sweater which will hopefully keep him from complaining so much about the cold weather. These were his early Christmas gift. And kudos to Kat for helping me find the handful of places that actually sell Gautreaux sized slacks.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Born To Hand Jive

If you had a special talent would you show it off every day, seeking attention and praise? Well if you were smart you would save that special talent for a very special day in which you could shock your peers, stun your wife and win a $50 prize. What I am speaking of friends is Keith's dance, hand jive and gymnastics talents. Who knew he could cartwheel?

As you can see Keith and I dressed as Greasers for Halloween this year. As it turned out another couple tried to steal our idea and they too showed up as Sandra D and Danny. Big mistake for them. Their costumes were obviously unmotivated, cheap internet versions while ours were creative, homemade duds. For some reason though, the judges seemed torn between the two duos for the "best couple costume", and they decided to have a dance off to determine who would get the prize. Poor other vinyl T-bird jacket greasers. They simply did not stand a chance. You see, not  only did Keith and I just have our first country swing dance class (easy enough to embellish into a fifties style swing), but 6 foot 4 inch Keith has also got some mad cartwheelin' skills. Needless to say, we departed victorious with some fancy T-shirts (mine has a topless hula dancer on the front) and a $50 gift certificate. 

Hand Jive!

Here's a picture of some other best costume winners: our neighbors kids won "scariest" and "most original" for their zombie and Oscar the Grouch costumes. So cute!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kirby's Kluckers

The more you know about food and where it comes from, the more paralyzing shopping is. My ideal shopping cart would include food that is grown locally, without antibiotics, and is nutritious. It should be from animals that are raised with all their original parts, natural habitats should be minimally impacted to grow and harvest the food, it should be packaged in environmentally friendly packaging, no workers should be exploited in the growing and harvesting process, and minimal oil should burned to transport it. Oh, and I would like it to be delicious please. Is that too much to ask?

There is a guy at our local farmer's market that sells chickens. From his sign I can only infer that his name is Kirby, and I have been buying his Kluckers for the past several weeks now. I was so excited when he showed up at the farmers market because the chickens in the local supermarket are barely passable as meat. They are generally droopy and fatty, and I shudder to think what the conditions they are raised under might be. I am always looking to shop locally, but ironically our nation's heartland doesn't produce much beyond corn and soybeans (which you can't find in the supermarket btw). So, when I saw the local Kluckers, I excitedly bought as many as would fit into my freezer. Kirby's sign also has messages scrawled on it about "natural" and "no antibiotics, no hormones". Wow, that's all great I thought.

Well more recently I have thought to ask Kirby the details of his chicken operation. He tells me that he raises about 70,000 "birds" a year, and he raises them in 9x12 roofless buildings each containing about 80 birds.
9x12: that's how big our new patio is. When I imagine 80 birds living on our patio, it is not a paradise that I am envisioning. The birds are obviously cramped. And unlike "free-range" chickens these chickens do not have access to the fields around them (although I understand most free-range birds aren't smart enough to venture outside anyway).

"Well, do they all have thier beaks?" I ask
"Yeah, they have their beaks" says Kirby.
I explained to Kirby that I had read somewhere that people who raise chickens will frequently pull off thier beaks so that they don't peck eachother all up while they're mashed together in thier ridiculously undersized cages.
"I feed 'em lots of protein, and when they have enough protein they don't peck"
"I had understood that they pecked because they were stressed from the tight living quarters, but you're saying that their trying to eat eachother?" I asked.
Kirby turned to me in a nice, but pitying, special ed teacher kind of voice and said:
"Well did you know that meat has protein?"
"Yes, I did know that" I say.
"Well if they get protein then they don't peck.
Apparently the tightly packed birds are actually trying to gobble each other up.

Whatever. All I know is that I have basically 3 options for poultry at this time.
#1: buy floppy, fatty Tyson birds from the supermarket and feel terribly guilty while eating moderately edible chicken.
#2: buy Kirby's Kluckers and know the pea-brained birds aren't exactly living the dream, but at least they have their beaks, and also know a ton of fossil fuel wasn't used to get them to my dinner plate
#3: Don't eat chicken -- no way!

While I am disappointed that buying food in an environmentally and socially responsible, and animal-friendly way is all but impossible in America's heartland, I am comforted to at least know that my fried chicken never knew the displeasure of going beakless.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Look at our awesome new patio! I know this has been much anticipated by the general public what with all the hype and all. It has been much anticipated by us as well, since we actually started the project about 3 months ago. The funny thing is, the actual project only took two days, but we managed to spread it out over an entire season. That does not deter me from planning further projects though. I think the patio is awesome, and I am already drawing up plans for more landscaping and general backyard beautification. Of course I will wait until next year for that since it may snow any day, and that way our blisters will have healed, and hopefully by then Keith will have forgotten how much work this patio was.

Action Shot

Finished result

I think we may even have a few nice evenings left this year for enjoying margaritas outdoors.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This Week In Merle

Sunday Keith and I drove down to Kearney in order to drop Merle and Braedon off at the airport there, thus concluding their week long Nebraska adventure with us. I think a decent time was had by all. We tried to show the duo some of the finer things Nebraska has to offer including ankle deep rivers, copious dog walks, kite festivals in scorching heat despite concomitant wind storms, and of course a visit from Keith's mom and grandpa.

Merle claims the reading time and "gentle breezes" were relaxing, she seemed to get along well with our children, and she didn't seem too freaked out by ginormous bugs that exist in our back yard.

Keith and I were glad for our first (and in all likelihood last) visit from someone in my family, and we are happy that travel went well for them.

Since most of you have likely already seen the above pics on Keith's blog, let me close with some lovely shots of a perfect golf swing. Go get 'em Tiger.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

GQ Golfer

I never could have predicted this: I never thought I would ever pick up golfing. I guess I just don't see myself in that stereotype. Golfers are pretty much made of time and money aren't they? Golfing happens to be a great distraction from a hectic lifestyle though, and it's a lot easier on your aging body than a lot of other sports I can think of. The game is oddly easy to pick up, but very difficult to master. I say that with only a total of 36 holes under my belt, but I feel confident in my assessment.

I also never could have predicted Keith's interest in the sport. As most of you know Keith is not much for spouting off information about himself, so it wasn't until just recently that I even knew what a die hard golfer he had been in his youth. He's still pretty good, and he looks awfully good sporting a bag of clubs.
He's working on replacing his hazardous, head-flying-off clubs with new ones. We used the new irons today, and here is Keith transferring them to his new, less torn up and duct taped bag.

I'm off to watch some olympic volleyball: Go May/Walsh!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This Just In

I now have my cell phone back (or at least a very close facsimile with the same number). Feel free to resume sending me pointless and distracting but much appreciated text messages. Or if you are my family, feel free to continue to not ever call me unless you have a medical question.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Bounty

It is official. My garden has borne food, therefore I am a gardener. Look at all the different tomatoes I made! I also grew some huge zucchini, but that was sort of an accident. Although the tomatoes have boosted my gardening confidence some, I also had a small blow when I recently tried to harvest some carrots. This is the stuff no one tells you. How in the world can you tell when a root is mature? I figured since carrots were showing up at our farmer's market, then mine must be ready too, right? Wrong.

While I only planted 2 zucchini seeds, the zucchini has, of course overtaken our small garden plot. At first I was overwhelmed by the rate of their growth, but I have since learned that if you pick them small, they are much more manageable and they taste better too. I really like the recipe idea published here for pasta with zucchini ribbons (scroll to bottom for the recipe). I have actually made all three of the recipes there. The pancakes were also delish, the squash goat cheese bean thing, not so much. While I'm on a roll with zucchini, let me share another simple, but great little recipe, courtesy of Mollie Katzen.

Heat some olive oil and pressed garlic over medium heat until the garlic is soft.
Use small zucchini, about 5-6inches long. Cut them in half length wise then place them cut side down in the pan. Cook about 5 minutes.
Turn them over. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Cook 1-2min more, then place the pan under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly and brown.

Seattle Trip

Keith and I recently got back from an awesome vacation in the Seattle area. Summer is such a lovely time to visit. We went to not one, but two fantastic weddings. We enjoyed countless gourmet meals, time with friends, a reunion with my step-dad and amazing scenery. Here are some pics.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I'm pretty much a hermit

Today I made a spectacular dinner, or supper for you mid-westerners. It consisted of almost all garden fresh ingredients and farmer's market finds: potato, rosemary, leek, and smoked gouda frittata; cherry tomato, mozerella and fresh basil salad; and fresh from the oven organic wheat bread. Since Keith was on call, I proceeded to cook the meal starting around 6:30pm thinking he would either be home soon, or I could cart a plate down to the hospital to him. Little did I know that Keith had already had a fantastic supper all his own! He had eaten at the annual JMMMMC (way too many Ms) picnic! Why did I not eat there too you ask? Because I forgot! And no one could alert me to the event because I am a hermit! I have been without cellular communication for 3 full weeks now. Being the cheapskates that we are, we also have no land line, so here I sat, alone, happily cooking leeks until they and I were both sweating.

I finally found out about the picnic when I bounded across the street to Dan and Amy's house and asked them to use the phone so that I could check on my husband.


Still, I bet my supper was better than his. And I had a lovely glass of Pinot Noir to boot.

I wonder if this is how farmer's wives used to live. Always a step behind. How did they ever get along without the dear cellular?

I am hoping that the 3 weeks less of cellular waves beaning my brain will be just enough to keep me below the tumor threshold.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cute Doggies

Not much going on around here this weekend. Keith is on call 4 days straight, and I am beginning to think he doesn't live here any longer. Me and the dogs have been chillin out by ourselves this weekend.

Here is Lucy enjoying her new summer wading pool/mosquito incubator.

It makes Thena oddly jealous. Here she is attacking Lucy while she bathes.

Lucy relaxing in front of the lilacs - which have already lost all their flowers btw. It seems like they just bloomed for crying out loud. Those bushes are a heck of a lot of work for 2 weeks of flowers, that's all I have to say.

The most exciting thing I did today was to go over to the neighbor's house and help them grout their new kitchen tile. Living the dream.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Got Worms!

They came in the mail in a brown USPS box. Keith and I spent a couple of hours making a home for them. It may look like a simple garbage can, but it's actually a simple garbage can filled with cardboard and rocks. Here they are at home in their new compost haven. Don't they look happy?

Actually the worms and worm-bin making progress have been a little more difficult than I had bargained for. The little rascals keep trying to escape. Apparently I lack the necessary skills to make their bin homey enough that they never want to stray outside of it. They like it damp, but not too damp you see. After just one day in the bin there was a massive jail break attempt. The crafty worms had climbed up the sides of the pail and squeezed themselves out of every air hole and lid seam they could find. I found them stretched out across the porch attempting to make their way to the lawn (I guess that's where they were headed -- where else would they be trying to go?). I painstakingly picked up each slimy, grimy little guy and tenderly tossed him back into the scraps.

Since then I have experimented with varying levels of dampness, food, light and air mixtures until I thought I had finally achieved the perfect state of zen for my worms. And they seemed to be staying put, for a time. Then last night we had a huge storm. Somehow the elements managed to soak my bin once again, and when I came home from the ER at 2 am last night, what should I find, but wads of soggy worms scattered all over the porch, glistening in the moonlight. So, I once again performed the labor of love of returning them to their unnatural domicile.

This episode coupled with my recent gardening experiences has left me wondering if I am just not good at things. It seems there was a time in my life where all things came easy. What could have happened? Is it age? Mental slowing? More challenging projects? Did too much focus on medicine and a lack of regular exercise and healthy diet finally squeeze all the practical neurons from my brain?

I guess it doesn't really matter. I'm still quite enjoying the wiggly little bastards. Also, I have little green bean buds and zucchini leaves sprouting out of my tiny backyard garden plot. Who says you need talent or skill to enjoy life?

Keith fashioning boards for the worm-bin.

Oh, and it was Keith's birthday! Can you guess how hold he was?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Here is irrefutable evidence that I am a true Nebraskan -- a Cornhusker in fact. Nobody has to know that we left in the bottom of the ninth and were glad about it when we found out later that the game went to 16 innings and didn't end until past midnight. We enjoyed the game with other Gautreaux/Rinne types, and the weather was fine. Shirley was there, of course, and wouldn't you know that a good 15% of the crowd were old students of hers with a few of Keith's old classmates bespeckled in. Small world Nebraska is!

Being the special mom that Shirley is, we spoiled her by giving her the best: a Perkins Mother's day brunch. You can't beat it. No pictures of that, but here's another of us at the game. Hi Grandpa Rinne!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Trees are Better Than Yours...

Damn right, they're better than yours.

So what if I am a terrible gardener and I will never make a strawberry grow. I have awesome trees. Lots of them. They're starting to bloom, and they are super cool. We also have loads of lilac bushes which are a favorite of mine. So who cares if I live almost 5 hours from an airport or an Anthropologie, my little neck of the world is quite nice in springtime.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

World's Worst Gardener

I have a hunch that no one can kill plants faster than I can. Exactly one week ago I left my local garden center full of hope and excitement about my first gardening experience. I busily and lovingly potted fragrant herbs and cute little flowers. Knowing full well that gardening may be tricky for me I had the nice garden lady steer me towards only the hardiest of plants. "This is easy to grow right?" I kept asking. "Oh yes." She would reply. Now, I am not a total gardening moron. I know most plants can't live out in the freezing cold. In BB the last frost is usually around May 10th. So, I asked nice garden lady what I should do with my plants. She replied that they should be outside in a sunny place, and if it was expected to freeze overnight then I should bring them in. Okay! easy enough. I was on my way.

So, how come just a few days later my poor little herbs were so droopy and sad? I went back to the garden center again and asked them what could be wrong. Nice garden lady #2 looked horrified when I told her the herbs had been out overnight. "It was 35 degrees last night!" she exclaimed. Since when is 35 degrees freezing? I want to know. I was not deterred. Even more determined to nurture my plants, I developed a rotation system by which they would receive full sunlight at various windows and patios throughout the day, then spend the night inside. Then Keith and I drove to Kearny. When we left it was 70 and not a cloud in the sky. My plants would be so happy, I thought. And then it hailed. Not just little gravely kind of hail. I'm talking big marbles and gobstoppers falling from the sky. There are tiny decapitated flower buds scattered all around the veranda. The basil plant looks like a fallen soldier. I am left wondering if there is any hope for me.

On a cheerier note, Keith and I used our cute new dessert plates the other night. The shortcake was delicious.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Happy Birthday Shaleah!!! You're 32 years old! And as Keith tells me, I don't look a day over 31. To celebrate my birthday, I am hanging out by myself and composing a birthday blog. That may seem sad to those of you who partied until 4:30am on your recent birthday (Valerie), but for me it's kind of par for the course. I cannot remember the last birthday I had where either Keith or I were not on call. Tonight is no exception with Keith still at the hospital at 9pm. Lucky for me, doggies and the Decemberists are excellent company.

Actually, I have had some good times today. Always friendly neighbor Amy had me over for birthday lattes, and nice clinic staff rushed out over lunch and bought me a last minute cake. The biggest highlight today, though, was when I went shopping in B.B. and I was actually successful in finding some stuff I need. I went to the library and found a not from the 1970s green home and garden makeover book (yippee!), and I found out that my beloved garden center sells all the supplies I will need to build a patio (Yay!). I also bought mattresses for our new trundle daybed. Those of you who can drive a few blocks to a Home Depot and Target and fill all your domestic desires may not appreciate that, but trust me, it was exciting!

Also, I've gotten lots of stellar gifts. I got a fancy dutch oven, and cute apron to wear while using said oven, and a cookbook. I'm sensing a theme here. The 17 year old Shaleah would be rolling her eyes in disgust if she could see 32 yo Shaleah raking in a bunch of cooking stuff, but 32 yo Shaleah seems to like it. I also got a lovely assortment of coffees and hot chocolate which I have been enjoying all week (thanks mom!).

Friday, April 11, 2008

"Spring has changeable weather."

So states my Nebraska: Guide to the Cornhusker State (nice book, thanks uncle Tim). They ain't kiddin'. Last week Keith and I spent a warm evening lounging in these chairs with our laptops. This week they're buried in snow! Nebraska spring, you tease me with promises of long weekend bike rides only to dump 8 inches of snow on my front lawn.

We had been expecting a visit from members of the Gautreaux family this weekend, but perhaps that will not happen after all.

In other sad ironies, Keith and I finally upgraded our television only to find we couldn't get the big game (or any channels for that matter). This is how we watched it instead.

Not much else new going on here. I am starting to deliver a few babies, which is always fun. And I continue to make small, slow improvements to our home decor. It looks as though flying will never be a part of my future since the one instructor in B.B. has left town. Instead I am seeking out more domestic hobbies like gardening, interior design, and shopping for a myriad of baby showers.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Desert Flowers

Here are some pictures from our vacation this week. For the most part the fun-having was done during the first few days. For Keith and I, the second half of the week has been spent sitting in a large, overly air-conditioned auditorium for nearly 10 hours straight listening to people talk about various medical topics. The talk on pap smear updates was good, the one on aerospace medicine, not so practical. Truth be told, I love a good CME. I love sitting around and drinking coffee while soaking in what really smart people have to say about the studies I've been reading all year. I love pontificating about various medical practices. It's amazing how much difference in opinion and practice style there is between various clinics and communities. Keith thought I was crazy when I was actually more excited to go the the conference than I was about sight seeing or sitting by the pool. Anyway, enjoy the pics from our "Kat almost died hike", as well as our trip to the botanical gardens. More pics will eventually be available on Flickr as usual.