Thursday, April 26, 2007

Girls night in

Oh, and by 'girls' I mean 'me'. And by 'in' I mean 'by myself at a hotel in Flagstaff eating a burrito from my favorite Mexican place from college times, drinking a beer, and missing my husband'.

I'm in Flagstaff for work right now. Usually when I come up here for work I drag Ryan along, he rides his bike through the forest while I'm in meetings, then we hit the town at night. But this time I'm flying solo. I was excited about getting my favorite food and vegging in the hotel, but now that I'm here? Its really not as exciting as I expected. I miss my man.

I imagine there are some people who think Ryan and I are a bit off in how much we just love to spend our time together, but I think we've been like that since we met. And now that he's in a job where I don't see him all the time, our time is that much more precious. So when I travel for work, even for a few days, its hard.

That's why I'm halfway dreading Sunday.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, or you've looking back through my archives into the summer of 2005, you'll know that in May of 2005 I was sent to England for work for 2 weeks. 3 months later I was allowed to go home.

So you can imagine how reluctant I am to get on a plane this Sunday for two weeks ("Let's just leave the return date open, just in case..."). That's right kids, I'm back to England next week. I really do think its only going to be two weeks, but I've already prepared myself for the fact that they'll probably ask me to stay until June 1. Um, no, but thank you. I don't care that you're in a bind man. I love my life and 2 weeks away from it is too long...

I guess what I'm saying is, expect pictures and sad posts from England coming to a blog near you soon. Yay. Boo.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Good Citizen

What is wrong with people?

I had written a post a few days ago about a guy I saw deliberately throw a soda cup in a parking lot planter. I was pissed. I was going to write to you about it to see if that pissed you off too. Someone thoughtlessly throwing trash on the ground in a parking lot when they were going to pass by a trashcan on the way into Best Buy anyway.

Then today happened.

Our day started off lovely. We decided to take the Jeep up 4 Peaks. Here, here's a picture of what 4-Peaks looked like a few months ago, just for reference in the story. Oh wait, what? Blogger is being stupid AGAIN and won't let me post pictures?!

So anyway, our drive was gorgeous. All the desert flowers are in bloom right now (again, can't post pictures, but I assure you they're lovely. Visit my Flickr account later) and the weather was perfect. We drove for about an hour and a half, then turned around and headed back towards home. The mountain was pretty busy by then so travel was a bit precarious. And most of those dirt bikers and quad-riders were under-aged and stupid, so we went extra slow. Before we were all the way off the mountain, we decided to pull off on a side road for a little lunch. The dogs were happily chasing huge ants, we were munching on sandwiches and enjoying the breeze and the view... Perfect end to the trip.

Next thing we know, we're hearing gunshots from over the little hill we're parked next to. That was enough to get us packing up quickly. THEN we heard bullets zinging by us and the car. FUCK! I'm freaking out, we're both yelling, but the guys shooting can't hear us through the hill, the gunfire, and their hearing protection.

I should do an aside here to say that it is not illegal to shoot in the desert where we were. It is, however, the responsibility of said shooter to CHECK THE FUCKING AREA HE'S SHOOTING INTO.

I'm screaming, Ryan's yelling at me to calm down, the dogs are confused and running crazy, I'm yelling at Ryan to run down the road and make them stop. He high-tails it down the dirt road and I'm alone trying to get the freaked out dogs in the Jeep. Then there's even MORE bullets zinging past us. I can hear them ripping through the air! ZING! So then I'm ripping the dogs out of the Jeep and running for cover behind some rocks.

Excuse me for the cusing, but I was f'ng scared as sh*t at this point.

Ryan finally got their attention, and just in time because he'd already reached for his gun to fire into the ground to get their attention.

I'm telling you people, once they stopped shooting I was shaking so hard and I was LIVID. I've never felt so mad in my whole life.

I am all for people's rights to bear arms. We have guns in our house for protection and often go to the range to keep up with our skills. But for the love all things! And to make matters worse, those assholes were with THEIR TWO SONS. Now what lesson are they teaching their children here? Shoot where you want without checking to see if its safe first? I hope they were MORTIFIED that they had been so stupid and irresponsible in front of their children.

Man, its been like 3 hours and now I'm all worked up again just writing this.

When I finally got back in the Jeep I was shaking so hard and I was so mad that I physically had to cover my eyes with my shaking hands when we drove past them so I wouldn't be tempted to jump out of the car and freaking wring their mother fing necks.

Again, all for guns. USED RESPONSIBLY. Assholes.

THEN, after Ryan and I spent the WHOLE way back talking about how no matter how you try to be a good, responsible person, some idiot can always come along and do one stupid thing and it affects your life...... this happened:

We decided to blow off steam by doing yard work. Again, an aside: I live in a pretty decent neighborhood where the neighbors are so friendly to each other that often I'll get home on a Saturday and someone has already kindly moved my trashcan back into my yard after pick-up. ANYWAY, I'm cleaning up dog stuff and find that our backyard neighbor's punk ass kid has had a party and one of his dumbass friends has thrown a freaking beer bottle into our yard and it shattered in our rocks.

At this point in the day I'm just so DONE with people. Ryan, who is the calmest person I know, is too evidently. He marched over there, picked up every piece of broken glass in his bare hands and leaves the yard. I have to yell after him and run to keep up to figure out that he's going around the block to confront them. And when we got over there, the kid (maybe 18-19 years old) opens the door and pot smoke comes rolling out. No his mom isn't home, and no he has no idea who could have thrown the beer bottle. Oh and by the way, not a single person in the house drinks beer and his friends WERE drinking last night, but not at his house. The fuck? The kid freaking lied to our face! The other houses around us are owned by MORMONS you moron.

Seriously, I'm telling you, I can't understand people. Why can't everyone just be respectful of others?

I have no good way to end this. Its a vent, I know. But seriously...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More Than Meatza Pie!

Oh my goodness folks. I just made the meal to end all meals. My Aunt from Florida sent me this hilarious cookbook for Christmas this year called Eat, Shrink and Be Merry! I'm convinced they spent as much time on the recipe names as the recipes themselves. A few examples: "Salmon and Garfunkel", "Touched by an Angel Hair Pasta", and "Hakuna Frittata". Its also got great tips for healthy eating and random fun stuff like the following: "When you apply for a job at Coca-Cola, do they give you a pop quiz?" and Q: What do you call cheese that doesn't belong to you? A: Nacho cheese!

This book is entertaining and informative, and as I found out tonight it has some damn good recipes! Tonight I braved "More Than Meata Pie". They describe it as "Bacon-double-cheeseburger meat loaf pizza". That sounded like the perfect thing for my Ryan! Meat, meat and more meat. Picture first:

See that crust? Its not a crust at all! The crust is the meat of the pizza. I'm telling you people, this was DELICIOUS and if I had kids I'd make this all the time. My big kid certainly liked it, even said it was the most fun thing I'd ever made.

More Than Meatza Pie

1 1/4 lb extra lean ground beef
8 oz light ground sausage (I used hot)
1/3 C. Italian-seasond bread crumbs
1/3 C. minced onions

1/3 C. + 1/2 C. pizza sauce
1/4 C. grated Parm. cheese
1 egg
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1 C. shredded light cheese (cheddar)

1/2 C. diced tomatoes
4 slices bacon (I used turkey)
cooked and crumbled
2 Tb. chopped green onions

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Combine beef, sausage, bread crumbs, onions, 1/3 C pizza sauce, Parm cheese, egg, garlic, salt and pepper in large bowl. Mix with hands. Divide in half and press divided mixture evenly over bottom of cake pans, spreading to edges. Bake 25 minutes, until meat is no longer pink.
3. Remove pans from oven and drain off any liquid. Carefully transfer 'crusts' to a cookie sheet. Blot tops dry with paper towels. Spread 1/4 C. pizza sauce over each 'crust'. Top with cheese, followed by tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and green onions.
4. Bake another 10 minutes until cheese is completely melted. Eat! Mmmmm.

I'm telling you, this was amazing and a sure do-over for my house.

I was going to leave you with breathtaking pictures of Monterey Peninsula and Pebble Beach, but Blogger just stopped behaving. I know, you're so sad. :-) Another day. I'm off to watch Shrek 2 with my hubby. Yay for his new job that has him home every night!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In the air

I don't know what's gotten into my husband this week. I'm guessing its either because he's rested from our vacation, or he's got a new exciting job at work, or maybe its just spring. I don't know, but he's a different, happier guy this week.

This afternoon he showed up at home from work carrying three movies. Shrek 1 and 2 because we just did the Shrek 4D at Universal and he was thinking about the movies. And Lady in the Water because I'd been talking about renting it for months. Then he sat still for an entire movie with me! Never happens. And now? He's in the
other room playing his saxophone. He hasn't done that in ages. Don't know what's gotten into that guy...

I choose to think it was the vacation. Speaking of which, let's have some more vacation pics, shall we? We drove to Monterey for the 2nd part of our trip. If you haven't been, you MUST. Its like this magical place filled with wildlife. Our first stop was the Aquarium which was amazing. If you've got kids, this is a must-do while they're still young. They've got so many great exhibits for kids, but adults will find tons of fascinating things to look at. They have mammoth aquariums filled with
sharks, giant fish, and the strangest thing we've ever seen: the sunfish. I swear to you we both went "What the?!" and decided at first it was a fake thing in there. We got to pet bat rays and play with decorator crabs (they decorate their shells with things from their surroundings!) They have penguins that are fun, a magical jellyfish exhibit, and the best part? The otters. They had sea otters, but our favorite were these Asian small-clawed otters. They were a riot! They were collectively tearing apart their enclosure and wrestling together.

The best part about Monterey is that you can sea the wildlife from the shore. Every time we looked out to the water we could see otters and seals playing amazing. Here's a few more Aquarium pics:

Guess I had a lot of pictures to share. I'll save the rest of Monterey for another day, but before I go, I'll leave you with one more Aquarium picture. It is us drinking beer. Shocker, I know. But look at the labels! Until tomorrow!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Its What's For Dinner

We interrupt our regularly scheduled sharing of the boring vacation to bring you..... our dinner.

Now that Ryan's teaching the fire academy I'm under the gun to have something to eat around here every night of the week. Gone are the days where I stick a burrito in the microwave for myself or secretly make a box of sinfully delicious, utterly non-nutricious, Mac 'n Cheese. Nope, now I'm like a real housewife with a husband who has a real Mon-Fri job. To make things easier on us, I actually sat down on Sunday and planned out the week's meals. It made shopping easier, but also more expensive (i.e. ingredients like fresh basil, Itallian sausage, turkey bacon.... things I
wouldn't normally buy).

Up first is our old stand-by stuffed bell peppers. Its one of Ryan's favorites so I wanted to have something for him to look forward to when he got home after his first day of academy. This recipe is SUPER easy and you can make it as healthy as you want. I should preface any recipe I make by saying I feel strongly that when cooking, unlike baking, it is encouraged to play with the ingredient sizes to your liking and convenience. OK, here it is:

Stuffed Green Peppers
2-3 large green peppers
3/4 lb ground beef (I actually use more for my growing boy)

1/3 Cup chopped onion (if you don't already have a Pampered Chef chopper,
you're missing out!)
7 1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes (I use more of this too)
1/2 Cup water
1/3 Cup long grain rice
1 Tb. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dried basil or dried oregano
1/2-1 Cup of shredded cheese (your choice)

1. In a large skillet cook meat and onion till meat is brown and onion tender. Drain
fat. Add undrained tomatoes, water, uncooked rice, Worcestershire, basil/oregano, 1/4 tsp salt (like I ever measure) and 1/4 tsp pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Simmer, covered, for 15-18 minutes (I go on the high end so the rice gets cooked). Stir in 1/4 Cup cheese.
2. While all that's going on, boil water in a big pot. Cut the top off the green peppers and clean out the guts. Drown these in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
3. Preheat oven to 375F. Fill peppers with meat mixture and place in a square baking dish along with any remaining meat mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. In the last 2 minutes add the rest of the cheese to the tops of each pepper. Done!

More vacation blogging tomorrow! A girl's gotta save blog post ideas when she's got them. But until then, here's another few pictures from our wine tasting adventure near Santa Barbara.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Oh vacation, how I miss thee

Ahhh yes, here we are. Back in the real world. Getting back from a vacation feels so strange, like you're getting to know your real life again. Sadly, we're both back to work tomorrow, and for Ryan it means 3 months of 12 hour days Mon-Fri teaching the fire academy. In a way, we both think this was a last hurrah before hell.

But before we get all doom and gloom, a few vacation pics for you. I swear there's only a few. :-) We went to three areas while we were there, so today is about the first: Santa Barbara. Strangely, I went to SB with my family when I was 17 and remebered loving it so much I cried when I had to fly home. I was so excited to share that with Ryan. And Santa Barbara? Disappointed. Yes, it was beautiful like I remembered, but
it was littered with begging homeless people and after 6pm it was like a ghost town. Complete with closed restaurants. On a weekend.

Good thing we had other things planned besides hanging out in SB itself. Our first day I'd arranged for a Jeep tour of the wine country. Right up our alley! We shared the Jeep with 4 20-somethings who worked "in the industry" in L.A. I swear, they actually said that's what they did. Three of them worked producing television (we heard all about the inside of Paris Hilton's house) and one worked in "PR" which I gather means she plans parties for famous people. They were the types who fully did
not take advantage of the dump pot on the end of the bar. They were fully lit by the end of the trip. DU-runk. Yikes.

We LOVED the first winery we went to. It was just gorgeous. And, the inside 'cellar' was designed by the same guy who desinged the original Pirates of the Carribean ride. Awesome. Here was the view from the patio:

Oh, and us with the view, of course (one of two times I had some take our picture on the whole freaking trip. Note to self...)

We had a good time on the trip but it was really freaking freezing cold on the way over the mountains to the vineyards. Brrrr. The L.A. "industry" people also didn't account for the fact that 'open-air Jeep' meant their hair might get messed up, so we had to take time at each stop for hair-fixing.

The next day we took a boat out to the Channel Islands of the Coast to go kayaking. Sounds like a nice, tame day, and it really did look that way when we woke up that morning. So neither of us thought we'd need to even consider motion-sickness meds. Cue music of impending doom.....

There was this huge swell in the ocean that day which mean people were getting sick all over the boat. Ryan and I were both miserable and barely made it out without using the side of the boat to get rid of our breakfast. When we got to the island our guide told us the swell was going to make it rough for our kayak trip. The trip was supposed to include paddling in and out of sea caves and such, but it was so scary rough out there. At one point we went around a tip of the island and I couldn't see the other kayaks over the swells. Then we went into an area that the guide told us later was called "The Washing Machine" in the spring. Thanks for the heads-up dude. I've never felt so much like I might die. The waves were coming from every direction! I'm freaking out, and of course Ryan (who I'm sharing a kayak with) is
loving every minute.

We finally turned around and went the other way down the coast. We saw some seals and a rock covered with hundreds of birds (and corresponding shit), and even a huge blow-hole. Then the guide tested out a sea cave and decided it was safe for us and the other kayak to enter. And we did and it was kinda cool. THEN, we started to feel ourselves getting sucked out the entrances. You know what that means......

The next thing we know, a HUGE swell comes crashing in, throwing the other father/daughter kayak we were with against the cave wall, then throwing it over. Ryan and I got caught in the way and thrown up on a beach in the sea cave with no way to get off. Everyone finally got back in their boats with a few scratches, but it was
terrifying. Again, this was Ryan's favorite part of the trip. Boys....

Here's us before we went kayaking. That is, before we knew we might DIE....

I don't have any other pics to share just yet because we took a disposable camera w/ us on the kayaks, so that's all folks. Only two more posts for our Cali trip!

Welcome back me!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


That's right everyone, I have just completed my first paying photography gig. My girlfriend Mini shoots 4 or 5 weddings a year, only for people she knows and with the understanding that this is not her primary occupation. Regardless, she is a naturally gifted photographer, so I was thrilled when she asked if I would assist her. I pictured myself hauling gear around all day, and I was happy to do it for the experience. So imagine my happiness when I figured out that I was expected to take pictures.

I feel like we worked really well together. But above all, I have a new-found appreciation for people who do this for a living. I had no idea how hard it would be, and two days later my calves and the bottoms of my feet are still killing me, and I
haven't slept in 3 nights beause I am so stressed about doing well by this bride. I cannot imagine doing this on a regular basis! And you'd think that the work ends after 8 hours on your feet, but then there's the editing.

Oh the editing.... I took about 750 pictures. Half of those were crap. Of those that weren't immediately trashworthy, half of those wanted to be good pictures but were either out of focus, underexposed, or totally ruined by the fact that the wedding was in an outdoor space that was basically the frame of a building, meaning there were these criss-crossed shadows all over everything.

And did we ever make a pair! One of us is 4+ months pregnant, wearing a jacket in
the 90 degree weather, and sporting wedges on her feet. The other one of us (me) decided that in order to save my sprained ankle, I'd wear flip-flops instead of shoes with heels. 8 and a half hours of running around in flip-flops. Stupid. Oh and also? If I were to do it again I would make sure that my pants covered my undies when I had to crouch on the ground. But we made it through and I'm so thrilled to have had the opportunity.

I'm also really proud that at least a few of my pictures look like something that could hang on the new couple's wall. I can't post them yet because the couple hasn't seen them, but I figure it can't hurt to show ONE, right?

This weekend we're off on a vacation to celebrate our 5-year anniversary. We've got a whirlwind trip planned through California including kayaking in the Channel Islands, backcountry Jeep tour to wineries, Monterey Aquarium, more kayaking, Disneyland, Universal Studios and more. I'm frantically trying to process wedding pictures, pack, and run a million earrands before then. Hopefully I'll have lots of fun pictures to show you all when I get back!

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    Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

    I'm Amanda. I'm an engineer in an industry full of men, a professional wedding and family portrait photographer, a firefighter's wife, a traveler, and a dogMa.

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