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June. Already?

There’s something about the nicest months of the year – time speeds up and weeks feel more like days. It’s a hilarious juxtaposition from my childhood when it felt like Summer lasted for pretty much half of the year. If only.

How was your Memorial Day? We did the usual fun and games starting with the parade Monday morning with my family and following it up with an early cook-out. Bratwurst, an assortment of deli salads, homemade guacamole, and fruit.

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There’s something wonderful about eating summery foods in the summertime. You could eat this same plate in January and it just wouldn’t be as good.

The day before all the festivities I had been sitting at the gas station waiting for Ben when I noticed this weird flaky stuff coming into the car. A few minutes later I smelled smoke and by the time Ben returned to the car we could see a large bloom of smoke coming down one of the main roads. Off to investigate.

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Turns out it was an apartment building that caught on fire. We arrived and there were a bunch of fire trucks but no one was doing anything, which I thought was odd. It was a good 15 minutes before they started spraying the water. You could see the smoke coming out through the entire length of the complex’s roof line.

The water coming out of the house really ripped apart the roof. It made the roof look like it was made of cardboard or some other flimsy material because of how easily it blew off.

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After a while some of the firefighters went inside to check things out. They returned with one of the tenants’ cats.

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I have a really hard time with house fires. I remember watching one as a kid and it made a lasting impact. People probably thought I lived here because I was crying and everyone else just looked mildly interested.

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I hope all the spectators have renter’s insurance!!

That’s as much as I could watch. It started feeling weird gawking at someone else’s misfortune. If it were me, I wouldn’t want all the people setting up their tripods and video recorders to capture it all for Facebook or whatever. We left.

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The news said they were still investigating the cause but that everyone had been out at the time it started and they rescued 4 animals. No injuries, thankfully.

Even though I’m not posting as much (and I need to work on that), life is pretty much the same as any other year. We’re working on transporting rabbits off our property (caught 3 but I spied another one last night, so time to re-bait the traps!!!).

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I’ve been out walking more and taking pictures of flowers I like. I lost a few of my new shrubs over the Winter and that was frustrating because of the lost time/money. So now I need to start again.

I definitely want some daffodils like these, but I think the bulbs need to be planted in the Fall… so I’ll have to hold out a bit.

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I also like these irises. They have smaller leaves that aren’t as thick and I think they look really pretty.

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I probably need to head to a nursery and have them help me. Ideally I’d like to pick things that flower at different times so I have something pretty to look at from early Spring to mid/late Fall.

My front yard garden bed is prepped and waiting! The little columbine I planted last year survived along with some flowers from my flower pot that re-seeded themselves.

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But, I REALLY need lily of the valley. I’m just not sure where to plant it where it would get ample shade and how I’d prevent the bunnies from snacking on it all day…

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One of me favorite smells!!

Well yesterday was pretty much perfect – the temp was in the mid 70s with a light breeze and low humidity. Sigh. Let’s repeat that for another 3 months, ok? Today it might hit 80 but I’m hoping the humidity is still low. Maybe I can get some more yardwork done. I’ve weeded my vegetable garden THREE times and can’t seem to get it to a spot where I can start planting, so I’m a bit behind there. Maybe I can get one of the beds done today so it can take advantage of the rain that’s supposed to come all weekend? We’ll see.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

A Walk Around the Yard

JULY, JULY – the month of cook outs, pool parties, sunshine, and beer. How is it already here? Last night we met with our wedding officiant – who now no longer can make our wedding date. So here we are, about 2 months away from W-Day, and we don’t have anyone to marry us. Any guesses what I’ll be working on this weekend?

Anyways, not wanting to dwell on any more wedding terrors, let’s take a walk around my yard and see what’s blooming. I’m so excited to show you some stuff!!

I am noticing some severe pruning that needs to be done on the back of our shed. That entire large tree/shrub/bush thing I’m thinking of ripping out. I’d love to put a flowering trellis climber up instead – something with some color – but I don’t want to put too much energy into it since it’s the side of the house we never see.

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But the spread of the bush is really starting to choke out my day lilies…

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Speaking of lilies (eeeeeeek!!!!!!) My pink ones are going STRONG! I absolutely love them and am so excited we were able to keep the chewers away from them this year.

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Even better – the next cropping popped up as well – and they may be even prettier!

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Isn’t that just stunning? I love the deep red color and they are such a bold and bright pop of color in the back of the yard. Plus, flanked by two day lilies, they really make a pretty contrast:

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I hate to even touch them, but I’m thinking I should probably divide them. I’m a bit nervous to do that since I never have before, but I’d like them to continue to flourish and not choke one another out.

These random white flowers are on the North side of our shed and I think they are so delicate and pretty. The rabbits had a field day with most of the plants back there and now only a few remaining plants are still alive. I think I need to give them some good soil and a bit of fencing so they stand a chance to harden up and grow out.

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After clipping the first blooms off my rose bush, I have a ton of new blooms to admire (and smell). I seriously can’t get enough of them! I’m a total slacker and NEED to get this in the ground but I have to make the time to do it. This weekend???

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I can’t get over the outrageous smell. So perfect, so fragrant, so amazing!

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I went out to check on the strawberries – and every last berry is now gone. 😦 In fact, some of the plants look like they suffered quite a bit of abuse in the process…

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Obviously bird netting has to become a priority or we’ll just be providing food for the local fauna (and I’m getting kinda sick of that). I’m also suspecting the birds are eating the flowers off my tomato plants too – do they do that? Yesterday I had tons of little flowers but when I went to take a picture today – nada.

So there you have it! I’m considering removing all my wedding gifts from our Bed Bath & Beyond registry and instead just asking for an electric fence, a pellet gun, and miles of bird netting. 😉

PS Traps have been re-baited. THREE furry rascals were spotted sniffing my plants this morning!

Setting the Rhythm

Snow is on the way. It was supposed to start around 3am and wrap up early evening but it’s shifted/slowed/whatever and now is starting around 8am and going until 6am TOMORROW. Ugh. I’ll admit though, I fully enjoyed how perfectly clear and clean the roads were yesterday. One day of delightful driving conditions is a lot to ask for around here. 😉

There’s tons of people taking advantage of it too. As I’m writing this, there’s people out running. The shoulders are clear and the temps are hovering just a touch under freezing – you don’t get weather conditions like that often in January. Personally, 5:45am is too dang early to be outside running in the dark. That or I’m just lazy. Ha ha!

We went out for dinner last night and my charming date was excited for dinner time. He was starving. We went to HuHot which is pretty fun. I tend to get one big plate loaded with all my favorites but Ben does two trips with smaller plates and mixes the sauces up a bit more.

Plate ala Ben:

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chicken, black beans, broccoli, carrots, green pepper, weird hot sauces.

I’m supposed to point out “all” of the vegetables on Ben’s plate to you guys. Hee hee. Ben was very proud of himself!

I tried their asian salad and it was absolutely delicious! The dressing was a kind of balsamic and along with the mandarin oranges, it was a really nice combo. I haven’t done much with balsamic but now I’m thinking I should try.

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Plate ala Ali:

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chicken, sausage, green peppers, potatoes, chinese noodles, bean sprouts, mango (had to try it!), carrots, celery, onion, and regular mild sauce.

Somehow in there I forgot broccoli. The chow mein noodles on top are mega-sized. I’m used to ones maybe half that size. Either way, the plate was delicious but I think I will give Ben the gold star for having the healthier entree. That doesn’t usually happen. 🙂

We went out to the store to buy some large garbage cans and smaller buckets to place over my shrubs. They are getting completely decimated by the return of the rabbits. We went months this Fall without seeing any and now, suddenly, they have returned in full force. I’d rather they nibble in the Spring when the plants are better able to protect themselves…

Now that I’m back into the school schedule, it’s amazing how strict I have to be each night in order to get everything accomplished! I had really wanted to wait to fully get back on the exercise bandwagon until the semester is over, but that would only give me two months to whip myself into shape before I need to get my wedding dress fitted & altered – so that won’t work. I think I’ll need to just schedule it out on the calendar so I have a better chance of getting it in. Any tips for finding time to exercise when you’re swamped?

Where have all the rabbits gone?

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Good morning and happy Tuesday-that-feels-like-a-Monday!

I’ve always found Memorial Day and Labor Day to feel particularly decadent. The three-day weekend always hold so many possibilities. Even if you just need some extra downtime, it’s hard to complain.

I’ve got a new bouquet of beautiful flowers. Those are my 30# flowers. 🙂 Even though I won’t officially weigh-in until Friday, I told Ben I hit that milestone and he went out and got those beauties. It’s a fun visual reminder.

What’s funny is how I’m seeing the changes. You would think having lost 30# I’d really notice it, but I’m not at that point yet. I take measurements weekly and oddly enough haven’t lost even 1/2 an inch on my arms. I did run to the store over the weekend and find a smaller pair of pants for work. The ones I had before were getting so baggy it was ridiculous! I’m thinking once I hit my 40# goal I’ll be at the point where I’m noticing it myself. It’s harder when you see yourself every day – you don’t notice the gradual changes as much.

Yesterday Ben and I kept super busy and yet the day was relaxing too. Ben tackled mowing the lawn and cleaning the garage, while I sorted, organized, and bought new plastic storage bins to help store my unwieldy supply of wrapping paper. It was much colder out – the high didn’t even hit 70 – and the overnight low was in the 40s. Brrr

It seems like it turned to Autumn overnight. Even my garden feels like it’s in the final stages. My zucchini and squash plants have started turning yellow even though they are still producing flowers and veggies.

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I did, finally, get some broccoli to grow but it never was enough to pick and so I left it to see what would happen. The small amount just fanned out and is now turning brown. Whoops.

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Another smaller one:

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I’m not too concerned. At least I can say I grew broccoli, right? Plus, everything else in the garden did so well that I suppose it’s not too concerning that the broccoli wasn’t a total success.

Meanwhile – I’m still fixated on my tomatoes!
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I love the little pops of red I can see from across the yard and there’s nothing I’m enjoying more than walking out to the garden and eating a handful of sweet tomatoes right there. Delicious! I’ll be very sad when tomato season is over. I’m getting addicted to those little guys!

Plus, we have TONS. I’ve been filling baggies and giving extras away to family and friends.

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We still have tons of large tomatoes and I need to get started trying my hand at some fresh salsa. That’s the ONE thing Ben wanted from the garden, so I can’t disappoint!

The other day I mentioned to Ben that we haven’t caught (or seen) a rabbit in weeks. I KNEW there were two more lurking around but I couldn’t find them and nothing was being caught in the trap. Well, mystery solved! Ben was mowing the lawn and our next door neighbor walked by and they struck up a conversation. Apparently THEY have been catching rabbits all year too! Each were delighted to hear the other was helping as well. So together, we’ve drastically reduced the rabbit population in the area (at least for now). Hurray!

Meanwhile, we have a busy and fun week ahead. Tomorrow I’m meeting past co-workers for our monthly get-together, Friday is Alex’s birthday and we’re taking him out to dinner, and then Saturday Ben is swamped because his office is moving to a brand new building next weekend and he’s been busy setting up the server racks and all that technical stuff. 🙂

Have a wonderful short week!

Oh What a Day

Wow – if only there were more hours in the day.

Although to be fair, if I had extra hours yesterday, they would have been spent in the office and I’m not sure that would have been a good idea. 🙂 It was one of those days where nothing seemed to go very well and I was behind on everything. I’m hoping to be off on vacation next week and so the week before and after is always absolutely ridiculous as you try and get things situated and settled. In a word: chaos.

Today, believe it or not, may actually be worse. I have back-to-back meetings until 3pm. Eeek. But if I can hang in there and make it through today, I have a light schedule tomorrow and should be able to get things wrapped up. But the stress, oh Lord! If only it were easier to take vacation! I was thinking maybe I should just take a day here or a day there (we have nothing much planned for my week off) except I like being away from the office that long. I enjoy many leisurely days where my mind can un-fragment itself and I can recharge. It’s important.

Plus, I have serious wedding planning to do!!!!

Last night we came home and found rabbit #10. It’s definitely taking longer to trap these last ones – which is good because it means there are fewer around. I know there’s at least one more guy prancing around. Hoping he is not a “she” with a litter about to be born. Even the guy we just caught was looking pretty large:

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I didn’t feel like doing much cooking and we had some ground chicken that needed to be used up – so I made soup. I had purchased a leek last weekend when we were doing our weekly grocery shopping and decided to cut him up and put him to use!

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I never use leeks so they seem exotic to me – and I mentally have been congratulating myself on all the different veggies I have been eating lately.

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There wasn’t much we could add that we normally would have used to flavor the soup. I can’t have carmelized onions or carrots – so we loaded it up with fresh garlic, the leek, some scallions, celery and then steamed some cauliflower and whirled it through the processor to “thicken” up the soup.

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It made it look a bit more creamy. Probably could have added even more. It was the first time I used cauliflower this way. Makes me think cauliflower mashed “potatoes” might be something to try soon when I’m looking for some kind of fake starch during this diet.

I’m missing my potatoes. And my baked goods. My waistline is not missing them though!

Ben has another day trip to Madison and I have some ground turkey/beef blend I’m thinking about making into meatballs for dinner. No breadcrumbs but I’ll season them up and add an egg and see what I can come up with!

Here’s hoping I make it to dinner though. It’s going to be a long and crazy day!!!

Shhhhh: A Confession

Shhh, get close to the computer screen everyone. I’m whispering so my Ideal Protein coach doesn’t overhear…

I cheated on my diet!

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As you know, I’m on the 4th week of my diet and am trying to lose some weight I gained a couple of years ago through a round of nasty steroid meds. I needed to buckle down and get cracking so I can wedding dress shop this Fall. Anyways, this diet is very low-carb and low-fat. In fact, fat is pretty much discouraged except for 2t of approved oils each day.

So I’ve gotten used to(??) my baggie of raw cauliflower or broccoli at lunch and slugging down my protein shakes using water instead of milk. Unlike Atkins which allows dairy, IP does not – with the exception of a measly ounce of SKIM milk each day. My coach explained: you want to remove the fat from your body, so why would you want to eat fat and put it back in??

Now, I’m not afraid of fats and feel they play a critical part of a balanced diet. I also am not so disillusioned to think this is a super healthy and fabulous long-term weight management plan. I’m not eating several food groups and heavily supplementing. So the plan was to be 100% true to the diet and get this done as soon as possible.

A typical dinner for me would look something like this:

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lean protein and 2 cups of approved veggies

Now, in theory, once you enter ketosis you aren’t supposed to be hungry and actually get a lovely rush of energy. This typically happens within 3-4 days of starting the diet but for some can take up to a week. Well I’m on week 4 and I’m still hungrier than I’d like. One day I came home and was wondering how the wood on the kitchen cabinets would taste…

Knowing that adding carbs would throw everything out of whack, I turned to fats instead. I added a little butter to my vegetables (wow was that a treat after weeks of eating everything plain!) and last night when Ben finished his last piece of birthday pie and left the whipped cream out on the table, I flipped the can around to check the carb counts and added a little whip to my evening decaf.

In a word: Heaven

Delicious, creamy – I never have allotted milk left for an evening cup so I’m drinking it plain and for a girl who almost drowns her coffee in half and half, it’s been hard to slug down and enjoy.

Oh, and I’m already feeling better. Much better. The hunger isn’t clawing at me the way it was before and I’m feeling more even with less blood sugar swings. I’ll monitor my weight loss to see if it’s having an adverse effect but, for now, the fat is my friend.

Now I’m not saying this to gloat about how I can’t stick to a strict diet for more than 3 weeks without cheating but more as a reminder that every diet doesn’t work for everyone exactly as-is. I’m not saying to adjust a diet because you have to have your diet coke or absolutely need cream in your coffee – I’m saying make sure you’re getting the nutrition that your body needs. Be mindful. Don’t use it as an excuse but also take care of yourself. I knew constant chewing at my stomach wasn’t a good thing and with just a little extra fat, I’m feeling like a new person.

We caught rabbit #9 – Mr Sleepy – the weekend of all the wedding chaos.

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I think there was a little too much chaos, a little too much heat, and a bit too much going on. We’re not sure when he was caught or how long he was in the cage but when we let him loose, he just sat on the gravel.

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Ben grabbed some gloves and moved him into a shady spot in tall grass. We watched him slowly scamper away so we knew he’d be OK. It’s been hot and muggy lately. I’m glad he had ample carrots in the cage and was in the shade to start with!

I’m also seeing some beautiful summer sunsets. I miss living further North and seeing the Northern Lights. They were such a beautiful sight!

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The Rabbit Front

It’s Friday for many of you but Wednesday for me. I have a feeling it’s going to be a long day at work. Since it’s been a while since I’ve reported on our rabbit-catching extravaganza, I thought I’d do a quick recap of where things are.

Rabbits #1 & #2 were caught within hours of each other:

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3 days later… we caught #3 & #4 (also on the same day!)

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We’re learning that it takes about 3-5 days after baiting the trap before the smell goes away and we catch a rabbit. It’s too coincidental that we’d catch the first 4 at the same time unless it had to do with the smell. (Yes, I am smelly – muhahaha!) 😉

#5 – Goliath was captured all on his own

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He ended up being really wound up when we let him free and smashed in part of the cage. We had to use pliers to bend it back into shape so the side doors would function correctly again. The first rabbits we caught all had to be forcefully evicted from the cages but the last ones have all gently walked out on their own. Much easier for all!!

#6 was caught the day after tons of rain – again strengthening the idea that they need a few days for the grocery store and hand smell to leave the veggies

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#7 – also caught alone. Before we started baiting, we had seen up to 5 frolicking around the yard at a single time, so we knew there were at least 5. Once we caught 5 and checked the yard, we knew there were at least 2 more. I was hopeful 7 would be the max number. This guy I named Mr Plump because he was absolutely HUGE. I have no idea how he fit into the cage!

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Mr Plump:

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The rabbits typically get caught overnight and we see them in the morning. I will then move the cages to a shady area by the house (ok, that’s a lie – I freak out when the rabbit start jumping all around in the cage and make Ben do it!!!). We make sure there is grass under their feet and no direct sunlight so they’ll be OK while we’re gone at work. Then we come home and drop them off in the countryside. Far, far away.

When we saw Mr Plump captured, I noticed another rabbit sniffing by his cage. Mr Sniffer was rabbit #8, caught just a couple days ago.

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I’ve seen some new rosebush carnage and lily damage and have seen a small guy lurking around. So that means there’s at least one more – but with the amount of chewing, I’m suspecting probably two. Cant figure out where they are coming from! Argh! You would think that they could find tons of stuff to eat this time of year and could leave my prickly roses alone. Not so. But, I’m taking solace in the fact that a whopping EIGHT beasts have been removed from the premises. I’m sure our next door neighbor is greatful because now there are no rabbits in his yard eating his plants.

I am now taking guesses for how many rabbits you think we’ll capture this year. Then we’ll see who comes the closest at the end. Place your guess in the comments.