Monday, July 25, 2011

Quit Smoking

My husband is a wonderful man. And when he gets excited about something you'd think he was six years old and waiting for Santa to deliver something to him. Couple that with the fact that after what seemed like endless research, if a new toy is the RIGHT toy, it had better be in stock.

Saturday afternoon, Chris' new Smokenator 1000 was delivered. The Smokenator 1000 is a contraption that turns any standard Weber grill into a smoker and looks like it was invented by some determined ole' chap in his California garage who's wife said "You absolutely MAY NOT spend $400 on a fancy smoker. You have enough grilling toys as it is." Hence the birth of the Smokenator.

My husband is also a stringent rule-follower. Just ask my family about a board game last Christmas where there were subjective guidelines as opposed to rules. Chris almost ended up needing a sedative and a straight jacket!  So for the Smokenator's maiden voyage, Chris obeyed EVERY last rule for smoking the chickens.  Even though I was in the background reminding him of altitude challenges, conversions and recipe alterations that we have learned the hard way in the past.

The instructions said to cook for 4 1/2 hours.  And we did.  Then another 2 1/2 hours.  And at that point, the Weber wasn't even getting to 225 degrees!  We decided to roll the dice and hope that the oven will actually turn on...and it did!!  I preheated to 400 and stuck the thermometer in it.  Although the oven never got over 300, the chickens were finally finished.  2 hours later.

So here's the math on the Smokenator 1000:  4 1/2 planned cooking time + 2 hours more + 2 hours to finish in the oven = chickens so smoky that I could barely tolerate them. 

I'll bet the ole' chap who invented the Smokenator saved up the sales revenue until he had enough to buy the $400 super fancy smoker. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ikea is coming! Ikea is coming!

The metro-Denver area has been talking about this day for FOUR years now. And finally, after eighteen months of construction, Ikea will open its doors on July 27! And it's in my town (or close enough!). People will travel for hours and hours and miles and miles to get to an Ikea. But not me! I run farther than the distance to my Ikea on Saturdays. Within 6 miles of my house I will have my very own Ikea and I am very excited about it.

Not that they make the best furniture in the world or have this special "thing" that I cannot live without. It's the experience of the store that I love. It's all so organized and there is a traffic pattern to be followed using HUGE arrows painted on the ground. And the millions of cuppies for super cheap! I love Ikea because I love organization in a store. No thing out of place. And everyone moving in the same direction ( I must have been in the military in a previous life). And the plethora of colors. And I love to change my mind about colors and things like pillows and blankets. Tragically I don't have the budget to change pillows and blankets as often as I'd like. But with Ikea, I totally can!

And starting Wednesday, July 27, every time I have a pretty plain glass serving bowl chip, I'll just go buy a new one at Ikea for $3. Or maybe I want to replace all the tomato stained storage containers. I can get a set of 12 for $5 at Ikea. I think you know where I am going with this.

The only sad part is that people are being permitted to start camping outside of Ikea this weekend. The place will be a ZOO for a few weeks. I will have to wait for my inaugural Ikea run for at least a month. For as much as I like the plan, layout, brightness and colorfulness of that store, I don't like crowds of people pushing gigantic shopping carts full of cuppies, pillows and blankets while trying to corral their toddlers by using terms like "I'm not going to tell you again" when really they will. Nope. I will patiently (and gladly) wait my turn. Mid-September should be safe. Better watch out, Ikea. Denver's been waiting for you!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lessons in Silence

What a perfect weekend. No plans left lots of time for us to just be us. Saturday was spent on our back porch in the shade, cooking a brisket and dodging thunderstorms. Two of them to be exact. But between storms we had some cocktails with chips and hummus and enjoyed quiet minute we had together. There was some talking, but more just gazing into the sky and scenery and appreciating the sounds and smells of a summertime neighborhood coming to life on a Saturday afternoon. It was perfect.

Sunday brought more quiet time in my head. I cleaned the house and enjoyed it so much I also cleaned out the pantry, under the bathroom sinks, under the kitchen sink, inside the freezer and refrigerator and any other closet that was on the "that's really starting to bug me list." No music, no TV, and no husband (he mowed the lawn then hibernated in the cool basement while I cleaned).

Being alone in my own head made for a perfect weekend. I made some to-do lists, appreciated the smells of cleaning, and just let my mind wander wherever it wanted to go until it just didn't want to go anymore. All that silence exhausted my mind and I have been sleeping like I haven't slept in weeks. Finally rested and starting the week off running! Who knew all I needed was a little mind-wandering time!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I win.

If you know me well, you know that there are very few sports I haven't played. At one point or another, I think I've played a bit of everything, except maybe soccer. That's not to say that I played the sports well, but all I need are the basic guidelines (others call them rules) and I will give it a shot. And I am better at some things than others.

As an adult, "sports" have been more like games to fill some free time. I would much rather pretend to know what I am doing on a tennis court than throw a smackdown in a game of gin-rummy. BOOOOOORIIIIING! I think I inherited some gene that makes it difficult to sit still indoors if the weather is sunny...regardless of temperature.

Ironically, I married a man who likes movies and books. He played hockey when we first met, but it's difficult to put that sport down and pick up where you left off. It's a vicious cycle really. He also says he likes volleyball, but I bruise pretty easily and just don't understand why you would want to hit a ball with your body (other than a foot) on purpose (no offense to those of you who love the's just not my thing).

Recently, hubby informed me that he used to love playing racquetball in high school and college and he'd like to play again but wanted me to play with him. SURE!! That's one I've never tried, but how hard can it be to get a racket, some ugly white shoes and safety glasses and knock a super bouncy ball off some walls for an hour.

I got the gist of the rules, put my gear on and we hit the court! Here's what I learned about myself, the sport, and the importance of skill in 60 minutes:
  1. I am competitive but don't expect to win on the first try
  2. Trying a new sport for the first time, I should have put the competition aside and learned the art and technique of hitting the ball.
  3. Super bouncy balls bounce where you hit them (assuming you know how to actually AIM where you want the ball to go) the ceiling, the light fixtures, the floor, and ideally the walls. I masted everything but the walls. (insert long sigh)
  4. The walls are ROCK hard and when you run into them swinging a racket like you're swatting at a swarm of bees, it's going to hurt.
  5. When running from side to side and all over the place swinging at the ball if it's anywhere close to where you are is not a great strategy for winning at racquetball, but it sure is a good workout! And obviously amusing to the punks waiting for their turn on the court.
  6. The object of the game is not "just hit the ball before it hits the ground twice, no matter what it takes." There's actually form and strategy. I guess I'll work on that next time.
I think I must have looked like one of those giant inflatable thingies with flailing arms outside of cell phone stores. Only with a racket in my hand and running around chasing a super bouncy rubber ball. Even I can appreciate a missed YouTube opportunity when I experience one!

Monday, July 11, 2011


I am thoroughly deflated for many reasons. Some good and others are not quite as awesome.

The Good Deflation:
  1. Vacation Deflation: This is a good one! Vacations can be go-go-go. And with an infant, a toddler and four more children, not to mention 12 adult McFarlane's, the noise can reach volumes Helen Keller could hear. Between the activities, altitude sleeplessness, a few extra adult beverages and noisy toddlers, there wasn't a lot of extra sleep happening in that house. Being home in my own bed, eating non-vacation foods and being back in my very comfortable routine is what I am calling Vacation Deflation, and it's a wonderful thing.
  2. Food Deflation: It's so great to be eating normal foods after a week of eating lots of chips and chocolate. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE chips and chocolate, but if I am not going to be running, I shouldn't be eating those things. Bringing home a bunch of mini-candy bars from the vacation and promptly tossing them in the trash was a bit of food deflation. It makes me sad and happy all at the same time. Oh, and I am still running...just have to undo what a week in the mountains did! But I loved every second of it! Especially learning about a smear of peanut butter on my s'more. Oh. My. Gosh! They were AWESOME!!!
The Not-as-Good-But-Still-Not-Bad Deflation:
  1. Weather Deflation: It's Monsoon season in Colorado. Afternoon rain and storms to fill our reservoirs for the dry end-of-summer and early fall is always welcomed. Except by those of us who have decided to take up golf. Standing around with thunder and lightening while holding a golf club is a VERY bad idea. And it sure deflates my excitement to be finished with a work day and headed to the driving range. On the upside, we've decided to take up racquetball and our first court reservation is tomorrow night! We even went and bought rackets, balls and safety glasses...oh and special non-marking shoes. I didn't even know non-running shoes existed. These are true "tennis shoes." Chris has played before. I am clueless. My goal is to run around and hit the ball. Who needs rules anyway?
The Totally-Not-Awesome Deflation:
  1. Savings Deflation: And this isn't about the economy. It's about our savings account. We've done a pretty good job of paying off debt and building our "just in case" savings account. We've saved enough to pay 2 months of bills and groceries. Three weeks ago we paid $60 to have the thermostat on our oven fixed. The technician has been back two more times to fix other problems with our range, including replacing the $350 brain of the dumb thing plus the $120 for him to walk in our front door. Thanks to our home warranty, we have only had to pay the initial $60 copay (it works like insurance for your house and I HIGHLY recommend it). However, the brain failed again. And there seems to be some discrepancy as to whether or not our warranty will provide the full price of replacement or it's depreciated value. To replace our current range with a comparable range will be approximately 2 months of living expenses. That's money deflation for you. It sort of makes us cringe at the thought of going to Seattle for our anniversary. If the warranty won't pay the full replacement costs, all extra money will be used to either replace the range or replace the money we spent to replace the range. Awesome. Oh the joys of home ownership. And it hasn't been a year. But on the up-side, at least if we have to replace it, I can pick WHATEVER I want...and this may be the perfect time to get that gas stove I've always wanted (just need to run a gas line...). I just paid the $26 annual fee for Consumer's Report so that I can find something that won't fail so quickly on me!!
On a side note, do yourself a favor, NEVER EVER EVER google for reviews of your appliances. My final deflation came when I learned that our appliances are some of the most unreliable and poorly made appliances on the market and a few have even been discontinued. I didn't pick them, but for what the previous owner paid for them, they should be lasting for decades!!!