All-Time High!

I glance at my blog stats every once in awhile and today got a lovely surprise.

The number of site visits has reached an all-time high!

Way to go readers!

What's next?

My last day of working for LMP was yesterday. It's bittersweet. I was finally in a good swing and feeling really good about what I was accomplishing and providing. I do know, though, that moving back to Decorah is exactly what Gary and I need right now. We need to live in a community where we will be the very best versions of ourselves and where we can grow as a couple - that place is Decorah through and through. Of course I'm nervous about what the future looks like but I am also excited for the unknown. We've had a tough year so far but we've been able to bounce back. I have a new resolve that I haven't had in a super long time. It's not purely based on lofty dreams and excitement that I usually have. It's got a firm grip on reality AND lofty dreams and excitement. It'll be important to remember that yes, we both quit our jobs in a really tough economy and we may not find exactly what we're looking for right away. BUT we'll have Decorah. At the end of the day, that is the most important thing.

We are building our life in Decorah and not somewhere else.

V to find a job
G to find a job
V to volunteer**

Find a starter home
Move out of the in-law's home

**I keeeeep forgetting to blog about this: I volunteered for DecorahReads! It's a program at the Decorah Library where a 7th grade class picks out a book to read. I, then, come in to pick a book that I'd like to read - that's how we're paired up. Then each week for three weeks, we both read 1/3 of the book, right down our thoughts, and meet to discuss what we've read. I am really excited to do this! [And I thought Amanda would be proud :-)] We pick our books on November 8th. Can't wait!


What's for Dinner {4}

Gary craves chicken tacos, I crave meatballs. I've been DYING to try this recipe for months and finally got up the courage the do it. The thing holding me back? The mozzarella. I've never been a fan of the little or big balls of fresh mozzarella but I had to take the plunge. They aren't bad when cooked so I'm not quite sure what I was afraid of.

Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs

The other reason why I wanted to to make these so badly was because of the ingredients list. I make a mean meatball but this recipe took it to a whole other level. Gary doesn't like a few things in the ingredients but I made sure he wasn't around when I was combining :)

Ingredients (I adapted the list a bit):

1 lb ground chuck
1 lb ground turkey
1 large egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 T minced garlic
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T dijon mustard
1 T Tabasco
Salt and Pepper
- to taste
Mozzarella balls - I used the small pearls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place beef, turkey, egg, bread crumbs, Parmesan, garlic, Worcestershire, mustard, Tabasco, salt, and pepper into a large mixing bowl, stirring until combined. Make 16 meatballs and press into the center of each with your thumb to make room for cheese ball. Place cheese (or multiple pearls) in middle then enclose the cheese, making sure the cheese is completely covered. Place meatballs into prepared baking dish and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until cooked through.

Serve over top your favorite pasta and spaghetti sauce.

For the record: GARY LOVED THEM. every bit of them :)

What's for Dinner {3}

This What's for Dinner post was inspired by Leta. She had written on my Facebook that October 17 was "National Pasta Day." I know it's crazy, but I didn't have any pasta that day. I HAD to make up for it somehow.

October 18 - Tuna helper
October 19 - White cheddar chicken pasta
October 21- Mozzarella-stuffed meatballs with linguine

I'd say I definitely made up for it (and gained a few pounds!) :)

Here is the details on the White Cheddar Chicken Pasta I found on Pinterest. Gary and I had our doubts throughout the cooking process but surprisingly we LOVED it! And it made excellent leftovers.

For the chicken:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts - trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp dry mustard
1 T fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 T extra virgin olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix together mustard, thyme, salt, and pepper and sprinkle over chicken pieces. When pan is hot, add chicken and brown about 3 minutes per side until cooked through. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.

For the pasta:
1 lb rotini
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 T Dijon mustard
8 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, cubed
2 cups milk
1 T fresh thyme
1 T fresh oregano
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste

Heat water to boil in a large stock pot for pasta, add salt and pasta and cook to al dente and drain according to directions. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine. Add wine, garlic, onions, and mustard. Cook about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Reduce heat to low and slowly add milk, stirring to combine. Cook about 5-7 minutes more until mixture begins to thicken. Add cheese and stir to melt. Add chicken and pasta and toss to incorporate sauce.

Add thyme and oregano and serve topped with crushed red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese.

**The picture certainly does not give this recipe justice.


Here is an updated photo from 5.31.13

What's for Dinner {2}

Gary has had cravings for chicken tacos for quite some time. Really, he's had cravings for all the foods his mom can make for quite some time. Clearly, my cooking skills don't quite add up :)

We've had chicken tacos a few times so thought that even though anyone can make these, it deserved it's very own What's for Dinner blog post.

Let me begin by saying - THEY ARE SO GOOD.


1 lb Chicken tenderloins, left in strips or cut down to whatever size you want. I usually cut them down a bit.
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
Goya Adobo All Purpose seasoning - Lemon & Pepper flavor - TO TASTE
Salt & Pepper - TO TASTE
Tortillas - I prefer the medium size but you can use small or large too
Shredded cheese - we usually get a blend
Shredded lettuce

Guacamole, if desired
Sour cream, if desired


Put evoo in skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken. Top with Goya seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook chicken on each side for 3-4 minutes or until cooked through.

Heat tortilla (I do mine in the microwave). Create your taco. Gary and I do this completely different so I'll leave that up to you guys. Really, who wants to ruin a taco with guac and sour cream???

Top with lime juice and enjoy :)

**Gary's taco - he's weird and puts his chicken on top of everything :)


I put socks on this morning.

Boy was I cold this morning!

I woke up because I was cold, took my time in the shower because I was cold, checked to see if we shut the window last night because I was cold, put a blanket on myself as I was dinkin' around on the computer because I was cold, PUT SOCKS ON because I was cold, drove to work because I was cold, told myself it's time to pull out the gloves because I was cold, AND have yet to take off my coat and boots because I'm cold. BRRRRRRRR.

I go in to the bedroom to sit next to Gary while he's still sleeping like I always do and thought, "he must be cold too! Why is his knee not covered? Why are his feet sticking out?" Of course, I must be right so I moved his blanket around to fully cover him and he says to me: "I'm not cold."



Can Do Attitude

After several conversations around this subject, I've decided to wholeheartedly attack my lazy, defeatist attitude. Why not? It's really all about motivation and having the mentality to NOT be lazy. There are MANY things about myself that I'd love to change and the only thing holding me back is my laziness. I vow to work on that.

Starting yesterday, I've made it a mental note to think about what it is that I want to accomplish and then making the decision to do it, no questions or but's allowed. And? It's working!

Here are some of the things I wanted to do:
1. catch up on my crunches and push-ups - DONE!
2. take our checks to the bank - DONE!
3. buy stamps - DONE!
4. do the dishes - DONE!
5. get up to open the window/shut the window - DONE!
6. brush my teeth before going to bed [yes, sometimes I am too lazy, NOT GOOD!) - DONE!
7. start reading the "Five Love Languages" again - DONE!
8. blog :) - DONE!

These things sound easy enough, right? I'd agree but most days, I'd just let them slip on by as I watched TV or checked my email or watched a movie with Gary. It's so easy to do things that we want to do in the moment and let everything else fall behind. No more :)

In the spirit of not being lazy, I want to offer something to everyone as a Christmas gift. I highly doubt Gary and I will be able to buy gifts for any of you [perhaps only Milly Joyce ;)]. I am offering my services to each and every one of you guys. Is there something you need help with? A big project that needs some tackling? A room that needs painting? Book work that needs to get done? Do you just want a buddy to do something with - exercise, read, sew, cook? Anything. I want YOUR help to stop being lazy. Let me know and we can figure something out :)

Perhaps I should have told Gary about this first... Oh well!

Oh Baby!

What a lovely weekend. The Oelrich-clean reunited for a SEX REVEAL! I can't believe I spilled the beans to Bridget and Drew but the actual reveal was super adorable and great to see. I myself would never do it but it was fun to see someone else's genuine surprise after finding out the sex of the baby.

Congrats, Amanda & Neil! I can't wait to be an auntie!


Bucket List {1}

I would LOVE to say by this time next year that I accomplished these things:

1. moved back to the 52101
2. successfully completed couchto5k
3. ran in the Nordic Fest 5k
4. lost those stubborn 12 pounds
5. lost at least some of that under arm flab :)
6. paid off LOFT credit card
7. tried at least 50 new recipes
8. created high school photobooks
9. created a Decorah Flood '08 photobook
10. created a Bridget & Drew wedding photobook
11. created a Amanda & Neil wedding photobook
12. finished Emma's quilt
13. bought a house
14. bought a Pruis
15. got my bike tuned up
16. went on several bike rides over the summer/fall
17. went on walks 3-4 times a week
18. blogged 3-4 times a week
19. went on a honeymoon - doesn't matter where
20. did 10,000 crunches & 10,000 push-ups
21. learned how to use photoshop/Adobe design software
22. read 7 daily habits of highly effective people
23. made a delicious cheesecake from scratch
24. made an apple pie
25. found a recipe for and made the perfect chicken pot pie

This is all I can think of for the time being but rest assured that more will follow. I want to become a new and improved wife, sister, daughter, friend, professional, and human being. My evolving bucket list will accomplish this goal :)

It's official.

Gary and I have officially decided to move back to Decorah. We have been having a rough time here in the cities and frankly, just don't like it. Through all the tough times we've been having since losing Emma, we've realized just how much we miss our home and being close to family.

We will be returning on October 31 and I c.a.n.n.o.t. wait.


Gary and I went to a wedding yesterday for two Luther friends. It was a really lovely day outside so I was super excited. There's nothing better than a wedding on a nice, sunshine-y day. I was also excited for the fact that we didn't have to rush back to anywhere:

Aimee & Ben's wedding - July 1: I was pregnant and working long hours for LSM. We didn't make it past 8:45pm before driving back to Decorah from Rochester.

Marissa & Chad's wedding - September 17: We wanted to get to Strawberry at a relatively decent hour so we left the shindig at 10pm-ish. I was having sooo much fun so that was kinda a bummer.

Kirsten & Taylor's wedding - October 8? IN the Twin Cities and no other event preventing us from staying the ENTIRE time.....

.........we didn't make it past 10:30pm, the fault lying squarely on ME. and the beer :) I didn't get sick, but by the 6th or 7th beer, I was experiencing a wee bit of spins. If I was moving, I was completely fine, but at that point I didn't want to do anything but sleep. So we went home. At 10:30pm. Almost made it :)

The absolute best part of the day?

The Showdown with Geese. It.was.hilarious. You know how in movies, you'll see cows in the road, preventing you from continuing? That's what it was like with these geese, but they were walking sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo slowly. And then, one goose stopped, turned straight towards us and stared. And stared some more before the whole lot of them flew away.


Waitress: "What would you like to drink?"

Me (matter of fact-like): "Guinness."


This is a recap of our trip to the Irish Bar. I was so excited to eat some fish and chips that I kinda forgot that I most certainly do NOT like Guinness. Gary and I both didn't catch it because we're awesome like that.


To top it all off, Gary ordered a well-done burger. It came back rare.

The only amendable moments of our trip to the Irish bar? The "chips" were delicious. Oh and the waitress felt bad about the beer and the burger so we got the beer free.

I'll allow it. :)

First Friday {5}

October's first Friday has come and gone. It's crazy to think about how fast a month goes by. Gary and I didn't have any lofty dreams for this day with the exception of:


We FINALLY mustered up the motivation to go. Since Gary arrived in Minneapolis, he has wanted to go. Back in May, June, July - I was much too tired to want to walk around for hours. August was a bad month and neither of us felt like going. September - we'll go ahead and blame Gary for that (he sure loves his sleep, but also, I was able to work on my photobooks all.day.long. AND watch the complete 6th season of HIMYM. Best way to spend a Saturday!)

October 7 was a weird fall day - hot, windy, and bright. I made the mistake of wearing a long-sleeved non-breathable shirt. I was definitely sweating those pits. Gross.

Worth it? Yes. The animals were cute. Here are some of my faves:

Trip to the zoo = success. AND Gary got his hot dog.