Indulging Myself

Do you ever read something you wrote and think “Oh my gosh, this would make an amazing book?” I love to read through my old journal and blog posts and inevitably by the end of the reminiscing, I have a new file on my computer titled “Novel?”

I’ve written about my life, in one way or another, since about fifth grade. It started in a little penguin-shaped journal, in which I documented the first of our many, many trips to Hawaii (my home). This journal also held my thoughts about my favorite TV shows at the time: Hannah Montana and Friends. 

Then it became all about The Sims. That’s right. I was one of those girls who would spend hours on end creating families with my crush-of-the-moment. The families always needed biographies! (Side note: Not too long ago, I found out that my mom actually filed away one of those stories…embarrassing.)

As I hit my teenage years, it was all about fights. Fights with parents, fights with friends, imaginary fights with parents and/or friends, etc.  I would email these big, long, rants to myself (and, admittedly, sometimes a friend or two…) so they would never be lost. I wanted to have a reason to be upset when I felt like it.

Eventually, I did level off somewhat and started writing about more normal things. Most of the time, it was at the end of a day where a million little things amazed me and made me feel overwhelmingly grateful. I figured that those things were what I should be focusing on when I want to be introspective, not the negative things.

One Direction was in Minnesota for a concert a few days ago and it triggered my memories from the weekend of the Chicago concert I attended last fall. I knew that I had written about it, so I went into my journal and read the very lengthy passage.  Then I started reading the next passage (from nearly four months later) and those magical little words crossed my mind:

This could be a book.

So, I’m indulging myself. I’m actually retyping it all and letting myself work through this. If it works, yay! If not, I have another document to add to my “Novels?” folder.

Incredible Salad with Ginger Dressing

This past weekend was a daddy-daughter weekend while my mom was off being a good person and offering her services to people who can’t afford good dental care. But that’s not what this post is about. Oh, no no no. This post is about the one real meal we had in the three days she was gone.

We like to take advantage of the fact that we can have pizza and takeout every day (and night) that she’s gone so for the most part, that’s what we had. (Although we did make our twice-a-year-favorite spamwiches, but I would hardly call that a real meal!)

I had been craving a good salad with ginger dressing for about a week, so I convinced my dad to go to the grocery store. While we were there, we saw some nice filets on sale. We love filets. It was a perfect combination.

My dad is usually not a “fancy” salad guy, but he had three helpings of this one! It’s that good.


I started by making the dressing. I did this about three to four hours before I threw the rest of the salad together to give the ingredients a chance to combine and form this magical substance.

I started by adding 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a jar.

Then I added 2 tablespoons of soy sauce…

…1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar…

…1 tablespoon of lime juice…

…1-2 cloves of minced garlic (I used 1 large one) and 1-2 tablespoons of the all important ginger (also minced).

I gave it a few shakes and put in the fridge until it was time to assemble the rest of the salad.

When I was ready to assemble the salad, I browned about a cup of bean sprouts…

Then I cut up some lettuce and added 1 green onion, 1 stalk of celery and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds that I had chopped and combined about an hour earlier.

Then I took out the amazing dressing and poured half of it over the greens…

…And added the browned bean sprouts.

I drizzled on the rest of the dressing, mixed it together and topped it with some sliced almonds.

This salad completely rocked my world. It is simply heavenly with beef.

It even won over my simple-salad father!

The Best Minutes

No photos today.

We had a biggish family party yesterday. Including my immediate family, 59 of the many many *insert mom’s maiden name here* relatives enjoyed a fun (and hot) and relaxing (and hot) afternoon at our house. The zip line was loved by kids and adults alike. I was feeling extra prideful because I made a good amount of the food we served. I didn’t have time during the preparation process to photograph it and I completely forgot to get a picture of all of my creations lined up on the buffet table. I made lots and lots of pulled pork, macaroni salad, lemon bars, sangria punch and helped with german potato salad and ooey gooey peanut butter bars! Mmmm, so good!

But, as has been the case for the better part of the past nine months, the best part of the day was watching my niece experience so many new things.

She shared her water table with some of the other little kids and even got to go swimming in our pool with her daddy for the first time!

But the best part of my day (and life) was the bouncy house.

We rented a bouncy house, as we do each year, and I was so excited to see her jump for the first time. She’s loved to jump ever since she realized she could do it herself. I had a feeling she would go crazy for the bouncy house, but there was always this tiny part of me that knew that there was a chance that we would get her in there and she would just bawl.

My mom laid down and bounced her on her stomach a few times and, oh my gosh, I’ve never seen that little girl happier. Then it was my turn to bounce her. I let her stand on my stomach while my mom jumped around us. J would always find someone to look at before squealing with delight and doing her cute little baby giggle. Most of the time, that lucky recipient was me.

Now, I’m not a fan of big parties. I don’t like being the center of attention and normally, when the adults enter the bouncy house or there’s squealing coming from it, everyone looks.

I didn’t even care.

At that moment, my world consisted of that giggly little girl above me, my mom behind me, my brother and sister-in-law on one side of me and my dad on the other. But mostly, the giggly little girl. I swear I could have cried. I felt this overwhelming gratitude sweep through me.

I feel so blessed to be able to love someone this deeply and be able to express that love so freely.

Those minutes in the bouncy house, looking up at that sweet baby girl and her radiant smile and hearing that little baby giggle, were the best minutes of my life.

We (I) Did It!

Well, we did it! We got the zip line up within 48 hours of it arriving!

One of my cousins and her family were here for the night and she has a very adventurous son who loves helping us get ready for our big family party (which is in a little over a week–yikes!) every year.

It worked out really well, actually, because we had plenty of helping hands and he was willing to climb up in the tree on one end to hook everything up. So, of course, he got the first ride!

We played around with a lot of different options for just about everything (my parents are out there adjusting the height again right now) including how to a) protect the trees and b) make sure the wire actually stays where it’s supposed to be.

This was about the third idea we arrived at (and the final version is being nailed down right now, as well!).

We didn’t have any kind of platform made the first night, so we were launching right off the ladder, which wasn’t very safe. In my mind I was thinking that there was no way I was going to let party time come without the perfect platform made.

So two days later, we started constructing that perfect platform. My dad was basically envisioning something about a foot by a foot and half wide just hanging off the tree. (He would’ve made sure it was supported and safe, but that’s the size he was thinking of) I, on the other hand, was envisioning a platform big enough to hold at least two people that would feel perfectly comfortable while trying to maneuver a plastic disc between your legs. So our platform was born.

All we needed to accomplish the next day to finish the zip line experience was a ladder of some sort to get up to that amazing platform. This was where I was really picky, because I’m not a fan of ladders and I wanted it to be as much like stairs as possible. But I didn’t want to go through the process of actually making stairs. So my mom and I figured out how to make exactly what we were thinking of and did it all by ourselves. We didn’t need any help from any men! The most impressive thing was that we made it through the day without any cat fights! I painted all of the raw wood showing, we put it together, got our brake finished up and I took the first ride on our completed zip line.

I love it.

And, as my mom keeps boasting about, we didn’t buy anything but the kit for it.

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We just happened to have all of the material laying around. We had some extra deck boards that we used for the top of the platform and the stairs. The trees on the end are pieces of a tree that we cut down a few years ago (I’m blanking on the name right now, but it’s not birch). The rest is just leftover wood from various projects that was sitting in the wood corner of our shed.

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Before the zip line even arrived, my mom and I were brainstorming ways to make sure people didn’t just slam into the tree at the end and I half-jokingly suggested bubble wrap. She fell for it and that tree is now covered in it.
This is our very complex braking system. It came with a stopper and bungee cord, but we wanted people (me) to be able to ride it without anyone else there so we just tied it up to another rope that was tied around a nearby tree.
The view from atop the platform.
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All of her runs so far have been the same. Her first face is this…
…which turns into this…
…which turns into one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen on her face!

As we started putting all of the tools away, my mom turned to me and said, “Well, none of this would’ve happened without your drive.” That’s one of the nicest things she’s ever said to me.

I did it.