Thanksgiving in Minnesota

We went to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. We stayed 8 days and it was very relaxing and much needed. Of course, I forgot my anti-anxiety medication. So it's good that it was very relaxing instead of just plain old regular relaxing, because I made it through my accidental cold turkey-ment just fine. Scarlet tried pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving--she loved it! And she tried soda pop for the first time--leave it to Grandpa to corrupt the taste buds of all his grandkids! Right, Katherine? :) We got her first pop (root beer) experience on video. She loved it (for those of you receiving this by email, click HERE to view the video:)

We had a lot of fun. We mainly just relaxed. We played some games, watched a few movies, and just hung out together. The Browns (Chuck and Jill--Mike went to college with Chuck) came down for Thanksgiving with their son, Christopher. Jill has been so excited to meet Scarlet! The guinea pigs enjoyed the Browns' visit because Christopher liked to hold them so they got more attention that day than we would've been able to give them. And I gave them the apple peels from the apple pie--yum yum! They were in their small travel cage for the trip--it's 1/4 of the size of their house here at home. Poor guys. :( It only fits one hidey house so this is them sharing it when Kati (my dog in Minnesota) came to explore the cage for the first time. After this first encounter, they realized they were safe inside their cage and they'd just taunt Kati by prancing around while she whined at them.

Scarlet had her first playdate while we were in Minnesota! I got to visit my friend Nicole, and she has two daughters--Kael and Olive. Olive is 9 months old so she and Scarlet are definitely gonna be good friends. :)

Jeremy and my mom went shopping at the Mall of America while I was at Nicole's house. Jeremy said they have a new Microsoft store. Across the hall from the Apple store. And wouldn't you know, the design of the new Microsoft store is strangely similar to the design of the Apple store. ;)

Jeremy and I went on a date while we were there. We went to Whiskey River, where they have my absolute favorite Minnesota Wild Rice soup, and then we went and got a Butterfinger Blizzard at Dairy Queen. Mmmm. It was nice to get out, just the two of us, and not have to keep a baby entertained in between conversations. But of course, we both missed Scarlet pretty quickly so we headed back!

Here are a few pictures from our trip!

Scarlet, as Darth Vader; the catalog for ice cream cakes at Dairy Queen--notice "The Wedding's Off"--who gets a custom ice cream cake to announce that they broke their engagement?!; Scarlet in her new boots, hat, and mittens

Playing Crazy 8's with Grandma; Staring down her Sophie giraffe

Play date with Olive! Gotta get one of those Bumbo seats for Scarlet here at home. Notice her two different shirts. We had a spit up incident. And I think she's a little freaked out by Olive playing with her changing mat. :)

Hangin' with Grandma and Grandpa


Jeremy v. Sara: The Weight Loss Edition - Update 1

We didn't really get started until a couple of days ago on our weight loss competition (winner by Disneyland gets $50; minimum weight loss to win must be 10 lbs), so here's our first update.

This morning, Jeremy wakes me up with a kiss and says, "1 1/2 pounds. Boom."

Well, dearest husband, 2.7 pounds!

I'm so gonna win.

Tonight, Jeremy and I are going to see Breaking Dawn, the new Twilight movie. The actors are really terrible, but we've gotta see all the movies now that we've started it. Secretly (but not so secretly), I am excited. It's a fun story.

Tomorrow we leave for Minnesota. We'll be there for a week. I'm looking forward to a week without house work.

Other than that, there's no real news going on around here. I need to go and make some cookies to smuggle into the movie theater. ;)

Here's some pictures from the last week or so:

I kind of like this hat; Shopping for a new coat for Scarlet

Playing with Dad; Playing with Mom

The boys, waiting for a clean cage


The Boys' New Digs!

Same house, just Christmas-ified!

Today Scarlet and I went to Joann's to pick up some Christmas-themed fleece so they could have a festive house for the holiday season. They always get excited when they get new fleece--they popcorn (jump in the air in a spastic, happy way) all around the cage as they explore the new pattern.

Before we put them in their new digs, they got a bath. They dread that, but we need to give them one about once a month to keep Jeremy from being allergic to them. After their bath I always blow dry them on a low, warm setting. This is them being mad at me during the blow drying process:

After the bath, it was time for nail trimming. A bath and nail trimming all in the same night is a bit much, but it had to be done. Poor guys. I offered what I call a "Carrot of Peace" to make it easier for them.

Darwin chowing down on the Carrot of Peace--Einstein was finished with his and once again turning his back on me

Einstein ran and hid under Darwin when I accidentally trimmed one nail too short. He got extra cuddles tonight because of it:

Einstein hiding underneath Darwin

But there's nothing better than coming back to a new clean cage and being clean little guinea pigs!

Einstein, scoping out the fresh hay and checking out the Christmas trees underfoot

Running around checking out the change in environment


Happy Birthday To Me!

I had a great birthday with Jeremy, Scarlet, and my mom today. First off all, I had an awful nights sleep.

....Happy birthday to me.

Scarlet didn't get the whole "fall back" concept of daylight savings time. (Seriously--let's just get rid of that system. Arizona and Hawaii haven't fallen off the face of the United States and they don't have it. Follow suit.) So, after not being able to fall asleep until 3 a.m. pre-Daylight Savings Time time (as in, my phone turned from 1:59 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. while I was playing Solitaire in the dark in bed and just full-on confused me for almost a whole minute until I remembered DST and then I was up another hour), Scarlet woke up at 4:45 pre-Daylight Savings Time.

1 hour and 45 minutes after I fell asleep. Got back to bed around 6 a.m. pre-Daylight Savings Time. Then got up at 9:30 Daylight Savings Time (10:30 pre-Daylight Savings Time). So I slept...who knows. Daylight Savings Time math is ridiculous. Somewhere around 7 hours total probably, but when that 7 hours total is broken up into 1-3 hour intervals, that 7 hours is not the same 7 hours as 7 hours straight.

But after we all got up, my mom and I made some more grape jelly (this batch worked out). I'm keeping the last three jars of un-set grape jelly to use as grape syrup. I can mix it with powdered sugar or something to use as a glaze, I can use it as a syrup on ice cream or pancakes or mixed with club soda. The possibilities of the mistakenly made grape syrup are endless. It's nice to have both--I really do love my grape-flavored anything. And now that I know jelly is so easy and cheap to make, I really never need to buy it again. Next up: Apple Cinnamon Jelly! Yum. Great for Christmas presents for acquaintances and stuff, too.

Then Jeremy gave me three of my presents (the ones he bought in New York and a picture of the one that is still coming in the mail). The first was a Gonorrhea stuffed animal because I love the little virus and bacteria and medicinal dudes that you find at science stores and at the Medical College where he works. He said he picked the cutest one he could find. I've gotta admit, the little Gonorrhea dude is pretty endearing. Glad it's just a stuffed animal, though!

Scarlet got me a ladybug necklace. It's so cute! We're going to add the ladybug charm to the charm necklace I bought at Anthropologie yesterday!

And she loved playing with the matching ladybug box after I took the necklace out.

Jeremy also got me a large Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree print! I haven't decided whether to put it in Scarlet's room or my room. I do love my Winnie the Pooh. After we made the grape jelly and I got these presents, my mom left to go back home to Minnesota.

Later this evening I got my other presents from Jeremy that he got using all my "Happy Birthday from (insert store here)!" store gifts. Ann Taylor Loft, Express, Victoria's Secret. He got me a gorgeous scarf from Ann Taylor Loft (in metallic silver), two pairs of earrings from Express, and a take-along purse eyeshadow and eyeliner from Victoria's Secret (if you haven't tried their make-up, do it!) Then he made me ham and cheese quesadillas for dinner--they were tasty. And we're having Cinnabons for dessert. We also had Milwaukee Cupcake Company cupcakes for our birthday party last night. We've decided it's time to give up on the Milwaukee Cupcake Company. They're nice people, but their cakes are too dense, the cake flavors are too subtle, and their frosting is too sweet. "You say it's raspberry white chocolate, but all I taste is sugar on top of a hearty cake that tastes a lot like bread..." Cupcakes are supposed to be fun and fantastic and frilly and fluffy. Not dense and crumbly. I'll just have to hold out for The Sweet Tooth Fairy when we go back to Utah--or perfect my own cupcakes, which is probably what I'll do. I'll let you know how it goes.

Since Harry Potter is not going to be sold in stores anymore (the movies) after December 29th, I pre-ordered the blu-ray set of all seven years this evening (the set comes out on November 11th). Woohoo! Happy birthday to me!

Also, I got a $5 check yesterday from Advantage Research here in Wisconsin for participating in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation travel study for a day. I logged in and told them where I drove for one assigned day (no where, but Jeremy went to work). So I got $5. Adding that to the fund! Saved so far: $1121.74.

Here's some other pictures from this weekend! Have a great Monday everyone!

Me and Scarlet, modeling her new Hello Kitty sunglasses; Scarlet with her new pal, Sheckey the Frog

One of Scarlet's many faces; Scarlet and Daddy playing

Birthday cupcakes from Milwaukee Cupcake Company--my mom kind of forgot she had them on her lap so they all smashed into each other; Grandma and Scarlet

Me, Scarlet, and Sheckey the Frog

Also, here's a gratuitous video of Scarlet (if you can't see it because you're receiving this by email, click HERE):


Birthday Dinner at Texas Roadhouse!

Tomorrow is my birthday, but my mom is leaving tomorrow so she took us out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse for my birthday. I had my favorite Ft. Worth Ribeye with applesauce and a salad. Mmmm. Jeremy got back from New York this afternoon around 3:15, so he was able to go with us!

...then they made me sit on a saddle on a sawhorse and wave a napkin like a lasso while they told everyone in the restaurant I was turning 27 and to give me a big ol' "ye haw!" I made Scarlet sit with me.

Today my mom and I went to Anthropologie so I could use my 15% off coupon for my birthday. They have new necklaces that let you pick a chain and any charms you want--they're gorgeous. So I picked up the necklace on the right. I was trying to find an S for Scarlet, but I figured H for Harris and Hypatia (Scarlet's middle name) worked well, too. We also cleaned the house. Ahhh. A clean house for my birthday tomorrow. This makes me happy. Scarlet has been extremely happy and cooperative all day, too! Yesterday we went back down to the Muskego area to go to the good Wal-Mart and I took some pictures of The Gingerbread House that we went to earlier this week. It's such a pretty area and they've got some really pretty hens and roosters and geese walking around there.

My mom cut my hair this week. She's officially the best hairstylist I've found in the Midwest so far. We only took a couple of inches off, but it feels much better--it was getting dry and didn't have enough layers so it was flat. I told her to go wild with the choppiness of the layers, and it's perfect. We also put in some pink streaks! They'll only last about 4 weeks, after which I'm going to bleach them out to a pale blond, but it's fun for a few weeks! And Scarlet loves to look at them because they're so bright. She really enjoyed it while I had foil on my head, too. I told her it was to keep the aliens out (and the MLB, according to The Simpsons).


Couponing to Disney: More Added to Our Fund

It was pay day this week, so that means money got added to our Disney Fund! Added to the fund this week:
  • $50 birthday money
  • $200 to Disney Fund
  • $84 excess from car payment transfer
  • $5 back from automatically paying a bill with our credit card (Netflix)
The odds that all of this money will be staying in the Disney Fund throughout the month are somewhat slim. But I'm hoping we can leave it all in there! Let's cross our fingers, since with these deposits, we're less than $110 from our goal! But I do still have two Christmas presents to purchase, so I might be taking about $40-$50 out of there to get those, and chances are we'll need a tank of gas right at the end of the month, which will take another $50 out--but I decided it was better to be optimistic with my deposits this month.

But being so close to our goal takes a lot of pressure off because we still have one more pay day (December 1st) between us the trip so we should be able to make our goal and then some so we're not too stressed while we're there!

Goal Total:

Saved So Far:


Failure Cupcakes, Grape Jelly, and Scarlet Giggling

I made some cupcakes. I got an email the other day in my inbox from Skinnytaste.com. They have all sorts of healthy recipes. They had Super Moist Low-Fat Chocolate cupcakes. And they looked delicious! Here's the recipe:
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1 box instant fat-free, sugar free chocolate pudding mix (not prepared--just the powder)
  • 1 box of chocolate cake mix
  • 1 1/3 cup water
Don't try it. They don't cook. You're supposed to cook them at 350 for 25 minutes. 50 minutes later, they still weren't even close to being cooked anywhere but the very outside of the cupcake. And if that was actually how they were supposed to turn out and they were cooked--then that's a very loose interpretation of the word cupcake. And they don't release from the cupcake liners because there's no fat to keep them from sticking. The taste is good. The texture makes me gag. I'm thinking I'll stick with just the regular entree recipes from SkinnyTaste and leave my desserts up to my Nestle Tollhouse book and our stellar family recipes.

Yesterday we also made grape jelly. We have yet to see if it worked out...we'll see if it's set up by this afternoon. If not, we'll be addressing the "If your jelly doesn't set up..." section of the pectin box instructions. Right now it's looking like we just have really sweet grape juice. We added the sugar before the pectin. Oops! We were supposed to add the pectin to the grape juice, get it boiling, then add the sugar. We added the sugar and then realized our mistake so we added the pectin, too. If it doesn't work, we'll fix it tonight.

My mom is here in town this week to celebrate my birthday with me and because both of our husbands are out of town. We had a Jack-o-Lantern pizza from Papa Murphy's again and we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas on Halloween. We didn't have one single trick or treater...such bad news for my waistline. All our lights were on, our pumpkins were out, our window was decorated. And I didn't even hear any trick or treaters walking around outside! Disappointing. On Tuesday we went down to Muskego to visit The Gingerbread House. It was a really cute shop! They had hens and roosters and pretty geese walking all over the grounds (I had to stop in the parking lot for two of them to cross the driveway), there was a cafe downstairs and a cute boutique upstairs. Kind of like a mini Gardner Village. I forgot to take pictures, we we'll probably head down that way again to go Wal-Mart. We're gonna go wild and put some coca-cola red streaks in our hair this week because we're both bored with our hair, and Wal-Mart is the only place around here that sells the kit, so I'll be sure to stop and take some pictures of the Gingerbread House when we head back down there. We had lunch at Applebee's afterwards.

We got a great video of Scarlet laughing last night! Here it is (for those of you receiving this blog by email, if you can't see the video, click here: Jeremy & Sara's Blog):


Jeremy is in New York!

Jeremy is in Cold Spring Harbor, NY (a few miles outside of NYC) for a bioinformatic conference this week. It's gorgeous there! He's sent me some pictures of where he's at:

The area around Cold Spring Harbor Labs--his view

Some DNA artwork on the grounds - I want this!

The beach, with Connecticut in the background

He and Brandon (his co-worker) also went out with a friend of ours that lives in NYC last night and they had a great time--her name is Deb. She bought Scarlet a new sleeper and gave it to Jeremy. It's really cute. He found some seashells and cool rocks and sea glass for me while he was at the beach today.

He had to make a poster for this conference about his new software program, GapMine. This is what it looks like (it'll be printed out at about 4' x 4' for the presentations tomorrow evening):

I'm so proud of him! That bottom "Conclusions" slide is about the only part that I can satisfactorily explain since I don't have a bioinformatics background, but the gist is that his program, GapMine is compared against UCSC's gap data and both are visually shown against the actual rat genome. The UCSC data identifies some of the gaps in the rat genome; Jeremy's GapMine identifies all of the gaps and lines up with the sequenced rat genome! His is the first software program written that is able to accurately identify all the DNA sequence gaps and the actual length of the gaps. (Jeremy, if I explained anything wrong, feel free to email me and set it straight and I'll fix it.)

So proud of him.