Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from the Austad Family!

Ryan and I carved pumpkins this year and we couldn't be happier with the way they turned out. A welcome pumpkin and one with a spooky bat, moon and casket. Can't wait to have our very first trick-or-treaters tonight! Are you dressing up for Halloween and handing out candy? Or going trick or treating yourself!? Whatever you do, enjoy the nice cool weather and the sugar rush from all the Halloween goodies!

The Before Shots
And After

Happy Halloween

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A New Friend

I've been working on a few projects as of late, which I can't show to you quite they have not been given to the recipient. However, there is a new addition to the Austad household. She's only a few weeks old, and weighs only 3 pounds!

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaww- isn't she wonderful?
A brand new sewing machine! YAY! As I was working on some of the aforementioned projects and my Halloween costume, I decided hand-sewing was just not going to work this time. I had researched portable sewing machines from many different sources, and basically needed something that would straight-stitch and get the job done. Nothing Fancy. And I had posted about a possible new hobby back in May, so I figured it was about time.

Enter my trip to Big Lots. You all know I'm a bargain shopper, and when I find a good deal on something I shout for joy! When I was browsing the aisles a few weeks ago I saw this beauty on the bottom shelf and was shocked at her unbelievable price tag. $14! Woweee, did I luck out? I would've probably paid at least $14 to take my Halloween costume to a seamstress, so it was a no-brainer. Wish me luck in my sewing adventures!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brownies Sans Eggs

From the look of this post's title, I can assure you I'm not going on a health kick. I promise. It just so happens, that some of my seemingly useless knowledge has come in handy after all! Haha! I knew it would happen someday!

Here's the story. This past Saturday, the Rubin family invited us over to watch the Husker/Texas game (sadly our brownies turned out better than the game). Mike and Sara made some yummy brats for dinner and Mike's sister Michelle, and her husband brought over some spicy smoked wings. Dinner was so good, we decided dessert would have to wait a few hours. So we played a few card games and let our stomachs settle until our sweet-tooth started to ache for something sweet.

Sara whipped out the brownie mix and started putting together the gooey concoction. Until we realized that we had no eggs! Sara and I had just been to the store, so going back yet again wasn't in the cards. And then I remembered something! It seems like these days there are always substitutes for ingredients in any recipe. How about a can of Coke? So instead of the 2 medium eggs the brownie recipe called for, we used about 3/4 of a can of good ol' Coca-Cola.

The brownie mixture frothed a tad more than usual while mixing, but as the brownies baked the smell was fantastic! The Coca-Cola brownies were a success! They were a tad on the sweet side, but with the addition of ice cream, nobody really minded.

Sara showing the wonderful brownie batter before baking.

Ryan and Sara assess the no-egg situation

And then we waited.

Voila! Brownies a la Coca-Cola!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Getting the Worm?

So they say the early bird gets the worm, right? Well...if that's true then I should have buckets of worms by now. To prepare for our upcoming dance showcase, my varsity dancers have decided that they would like to add in some extra practices. I am quite proud of their tenacity and willingness to improve, but at 6:00AM? In all fairness, I asked the girls which days/times would work best for them. Here's how that conversation went.

"OK, so we have our regularly schedules practices from 5:30-8:30 on Wednesday nights, what other days/times will work best for you girls?"
"How about Tuesday and Thursday nights?"
"No...that means we'll have 3 nights of dance in a row, and some girls are in swim and baton on those nights."
"What about Monday mornings?"
"No, that won't work either, some of us have band practice on Monday mornings."
"How about Tuesday or Thursday mornings?"
"Half of us are in show choir, and we meet at 7AM on Tuesday/Thursdays."
"Well, what if we meet before show choir?"
Crickets may have been heard at this point in time in the conversation.
Thankfully, one very bold and brave girl said, "Yeah, let's do that, 6AM practices on Tuesday and Thursdays."
And so it was.

The past two weeks of 6 AM practices have thankfully gone pretty quickly. And I guess I can't thwart a dancer's determination to practice. I am also amazed at the amount of activities these teenagers are involved in. Not that I didn't also partake in many activities in high school as well, but I guess when you've graduated from college and work all day long, you really do appreciate hanging out at home, in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Headbands and Rhinestones and Flowers, Oh My!

I really enjoy crafting. Whew...there, I said it. When taking a look at my banking transactions the other day...Hobby Lobby, Michael's and JoAnn's Fabric top the list for most frequent trips. (sorry Ryan) I would like to credit my love for crafting from my days as a little one at Vacation Bible School at St. Bonaventure Catholic Church. You see, they would have this wonderful week of "VBS" every summer, where kids learned bible stories in their classrooms, had music class (with my mom), and even had a special part of the day devoted to making crafts.

There it is, the main reason for my infatuation with all things bright, shiny and iridescent. I remember the craft ladies putting out stations for each crafter. A pool of Elmer's glue would sit on a paper plate along with brightly colored foam board, glittery star stickers and special tongue depressor sticks. We would all wait in a neat line until the craft ladies led us to our "special spot." My little palms would sweat and I would poke my head in to see what fantastic item we were making for the day. The excitement for my 5 year old self was too much.

I remember taking home bright pink crosses, paper butterflies, and a special peanut butter pine cone for a bird feeder. I'm not sure if it was the sense of accomplishment that made it so exciting or the look on my mom and dad's face when they saw the masterpiece I had created. Either way it was pretty awesome.

I still get excited about crafts today, and when it came to the option of making headbands for my dancers lyrical piece or buying them from a department store, I opted for the handmade version. With a standard plastic black headband, clear rhinestones, a glue gun, black chiffon, and silver beads in tow, I created a one of a kind look that no other dance team is going to have. I was a little nervous to bring them to a very opinionated group of teenage girls, but thankfully they loved them! And I can't wait to see them perform.

Here are a few pictures. Sorry for the blurriness, our stand in camera doesn't have quite the crispness that our Canon had.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another Austad Date Night

Since Ryan was very successful in planning a fun and exciting date night, I thought I'd try my hand at it. However, I don't have a very good poker face. For the last couple of weeks I had been deciding what would be part of our surprise date night, and once I finally knew what we were going to do, Ryan was adamant about finding out the details.

I did my best to steer him in the opposite direction, but when we saw a preview of the movie "The Social Network" Ryan had a feeling he knew we were going to see it. As my face turned red and I vehemently denied that possibility, I knew I had been figured out. I simply cannot lie. Thankfully, that was the only part Ryan figured out. I had also planned for us to have dinner at a cozy little place called Ryan's Bistro. Which I thought was fitting. We had these wonderfully yummy steak bites as an appetizer, Ryan had a brisket sandwich and I ordered the full rack of ribs. Yes- we finished the whole thing.

Our dinner reservations were for 7:00, but since we were seated right away and the food was served so fast, our dinner only last half an hour. The next leg of the date was to go to Brix Wine Bar for a few drinks before our movie. But since we had so much time in between dinner and our 9:55 movie, we would've had a few too many at Brix to stay awake. So we enjoyed a few drinks and a dessert at our own bar, at home. :)

"The Social Network" is a GREAT movie! We would highly recommend it. As we were walking out of the theatre we were both pretty amazed that the whole facebook phenomenon happened the same years we were in college. I remember getting an invite my freshman year for "The Facebook" from my friend Kelly, who was going to college at KState. The first few invites I had ignored (sorry Kelly) thinking this facebook thing was just going to be a waste of time. Until I had received even more invites and decided to join. Back then (insert me in a rocking chair here) facebook was nothing more than a status, your interests and activities. It really is amazing to see what it has become. night was a great success!! Looking forward to the next one.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dinner with the Bryants

Last weekend we were lucky enough to have our good friends, Todd & Jeannine Bryant up to our place for a dinner date. Jeannine and I met while both working in Student Involvement, and have been great friends since. It was so nice to have another get together with this wonderful couple- who is expecting their first child in January. A little girl!!

Sadly, I didn't find our spare camera until after our dinner date, so we don't have any pictures of the fun night. But here's a lovely shot of the Bryant family and their adorable dog, Dax.

Thanks again guys for the great time, we'll be seeing you soon. :)

(photo courtesy of Jeannine's facebook)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Our Trip to Montana-A Pictureless Post Part 4

Part 4

It was a slow motion experience- one you hope that you never have to tell. Everyone in the raft stood up as we neared the tree. Ryan and Pete shoved out their legs to try and bounce off of the tree, and Dustin was yelling at Rachel to row faster. It probably lasted no more than 20 seconds, but it felt like a lifetime. The raft bounced off the tree and flipped completely over. All 5 of us were thrown from the raft in a moment's notice. The ice cold water hit and the panic set in. Ryan remembers thinking about what Bear Grylls would do and he swam diagonally towards the bank of the river and grabbed onto some tree roots. After hitting my head under water, I floated down the river helplessly...the rapids were too fast to stop myself. I kept going under time after time, and I heard someone yelling in the distance. It was Ryan, and I looked back to find him, "Hold on to something." "Grab ON!" His voice was loud and I got the point. I swam towards the bank and grabbed a muddy vine, pulling myself up from there. A wet hug reunited me and Ryan, and we counted the heads of our friends. Ryan's right shoe was missing. Our sunglasses were gone. And so was our camera.

Our adrenaline was firing at rapid speed and two nearby fisherman in a boat ahead of us saw the entire thing. They grabbed what they could find of ours floating down the river, and started walking towards us. They had seen the whole thing and were already on the phone with 911. We had hit so hard, they had figured something very bad must've happened. The rapids were still at full force on the small island inlet we reconnected on. So many ideas of how to get our items back ran through us...Dustin was going to swim across, no, that was no good the current was too strong, another idea!- the girls would get in the raft and all of the boys would walk us across. No, that was no good either, we had only one oar to guide us- we'd be like sitting ducks in the water and would probably tip again. The fishermen still had their wits about them. They would cross the river in their boat and meet us on the other side. I ran to the other side of the bank and met them- thankfully they had found our other oar, our cooler, our dry bag, and a few miscellaneous things. The adrenaline continued as we gathered our items and got back into the raft. We were all ok, thank the lord we were all ok.

A silent yet playful ride back reminded us to keep our humor intact. Remember when Pete belly flopped out of the raft to get the oar? And when we began this float with four life jackets- and now there was only one. We cruised to the end looking for anything of ours that might be floating down the river. A few cans, a Gatorade, and a fly fish case later, we were at the end of our rafting adventure. We piled back into the vehicles and headed back to town to get items for dinner. That's when the next emotion hit-and I finally cried. The realization of it all finally hit me- I could've lost Ryan, I could've broken my leg, or someone from our group could've been severely injured. But we were all ok- I know for a fact that our guardian angels must have been with us.

The evening soon blurred into a dinner party with many versions of our story being told to Pete's various friends. The bruises and cuts that we didn't have time to notice on the river were now evident from our warm showers, and we left Montana with a few battle scars. I would be lying if I said "I wouldn't change that trip for anything." Because there may have been parts, like actually wearing a life jacket. However...hindsight is 20/20. Our trip was eye-opening and amazing, beautiful and exhilarating, relaxing and peaceful. And now you know why this post doesn't have any pictures, there are none to show. But aren't some of the best stories you've heard, are the ones people tell from memory? I imagine myself and Ryan telling this story to our kids someday (and probably making a point about how safety is a number one priority) and having them imagine their crazy parents on this rafting adventure.

Ryan and I do want to thank our great friend Pete for this wonderful trip. We had an amazing time and Pete, you were such a great host. Good luck perfecting your mocha recipe, we think you have it down already! Thanks again!

Our Trip to Montana-A Pictureless Post Part 3

Part 3

Saturday came quick, could we really be on our third day of this trip already? We were enjoying the mountain landscape and surrounding so much. Pete suggested we go for a hike on the mountain where the house was located. So we shimmied on our hiking shoes, and out the door we went. The mountain air that morning was cool and dry, I was able to keep my hair down and my jacket on for most of the hike. Pete and Ryan enjoyed some good conversation as I tagged along in the back listening to nature sounds, or lack thereof. We hiked for a while until we reached a clearing that showed us a view of the mountain's summit. It was breathtaking. The hike back to the house seemed to go twice as fast, and then we heard a crack in the distance, and saw movement in the trees. I may have panicked a little bit, as I thought it was a bear, but Pete was the first to investigate and said it was a moose. The moose moved fast, and we did too...back to the house we went!

After lounging for just a moment, Pete said it was time to head into town and meet Dustin and Rachel, the couple that would be taking us on our float on a raft down the Yellowstone River. Rachel is Canadian, and she had the accent to prove it. As Dustin prepared the raft for our adventure, we made sure that we had the necessities- popcorn, beverages, and chips. We were good to go! However, there were only 4 life vests instead of 5. Dustin decided we'd bring the 4 they had, but we could ditch the Canadian if needed- Rachel rolled her eyes.

We piled into our vehicles and headed down to the Yellowstone River. A lot of people were loading rafts and boats into one of the starting areas- surprised that snow hadn't yet fallen in Montana being that it was October 2nd, the Montanans were taking advantage of the beautiful weather. Ryan and I helped push the raft into the water and shivered as our feet hit the water. We were definitely in the mountains, the water was ice cold. Our rafting adventure had begun. We floated along the Yellowstone lazily as the rushing water of April snow melt wasn't a concern for another 6 months. Enjoying a few beverages and the mountain views, I felt like I was in a movie or at least another world. I smiled at Ryan and he suggested we take a few pictures. Out came the "dry bag", which Dustin, Rachel and Pete informed us would survive if it happened to be floating down the river, a good place for a camera for sure. The water was so clear you could see the rocks and fish pass beneath us. We changed hands at the oars and Pete was going to steer us for a while, however when Dustin stood up, one of the oars decided to take a dip itself. Pete lunged himself out into the water and grabbed the oar as we all hooted and hollered. Pete really did a belly flop into the water and was soaking wet. It was the highlight of our trip.

About 3 miles into our 5 (ish) mile float, we had discussed almost every topic under the sun. Dustin decided it was perfect time to fish and grabbed his reel and let Rachel take the oars. Life was good and we were enjoying every bit of this lazy Saturday. The water started to pick up coming towards a bend in the river, and we could see white water rushing against the rocks. Our raft was cruising at about 15 maybe 20 miles per hour it was hard to tell. Then, we spotted it- a down tree in the middle of the bend straight ahead. Before I could yell "Iceberg straight ahead" we had flipped.

Our Trip to Montana-A Pictureless Post Part 2

Part 2

It's Friday, and since not everybody gets to have Fridays off when their friends are in town, Pete recommended we head to Yellowstone National Park. Ryan had not been to Yellowstone since he was younger and I had never been at all, and since it was only about an hour away we figured it was the perfect opportunity. Pete gave us a Yellowstone fact book, which we of course read almost cover to cover during our drive. When we arrived at the park we immediately hit the Mammoth Hot Springs from the North Entrance. A bevy of white covered rock and trees showed us the beauty of what the molten hot lava was doing underneath the surface.

We were hoping to cover the entire park in 6.5 hours, so after marveling for 20 minutes we were back in the truck. Along our Yellowstone journey we saw bison in their herds and one random bison away from the heard. We called him Frank, because Frank would roll around in the dirt and then stare at the rest of the herd...we figured Frank was a very special bison. :) We saw Bull Elk, and we both thought we had bear-sightings as well. But those turned out to be false-a tree trunk and a rock. Our original plan was to have lunch around the Lake Village area, but after hearing that October 1st was the last day of the season and everything was closing at noon, we settled for Cheddar Pringles, a water and a candy bar instead. Making it around the Lake seemed to last forever, but before we knew it, we were at Old Faithful. An outer ring of benches was filled with people, which meant we were just in time. After waiting about 20 minutes, good ol' faithful showed its true colors. It was really neat to see something like that occurring in nature, no pyrotechnics or silly technology-plain old nature.

Our trip to Yellowstone ended through the West entrance and we headed back to Bozeman, where we met Pete at the McKenzie River Pizza Company for dinner. Bison pizza was on the menu and you know we had to try it-poor Frank.

Our Trip to Montana-A Pictureless Post Part 1

Part 1

1 Shoe, 2 pairs of sunglasses, 1 camera and its carrying case. These are the items, we so kindly donated to the Yellowstone River. (disclaimer- this post is in 4 parts. Read if you have the time.)

Let's backup. Ryan met Pete Sveen in college, where he learned that Pete is the ultimate out door enthusiast. He's from Aberdeen originally, but could probably backpack around the world with Bear Grylls. Pete was a groomsmen in our wedding, and we all have fond memories of Pete and Ryan's apartment back in Lincoln. It has been 3 years since Pete moved out to Montana, where he is living now. So a little over a month ago, we booked our flight and headed out west.

If you've never been to Montana, you really should go. It is GORGEOUS! Immediately when we stepped off our plane in Bozeman, the lodge-like airport and fresh mountain air filled us with western nostalgia. Pete had informed us that we were in for a treat for our visit, the weather was unseasonably warm.

Pete had to work on Thursday after he picked us up from the airport, so Ryan and I decided to peruse downtown Bozeman. The shops were pretty empty for 11:00 AM, but as the lunch bustle picked up we noticed that all Montanans sported 3 things- a beard, a dog and some sort of sporty outdoor gear. We purchased a bear ornament throwing snowballs to remind us of our Montana get away and talked to various store-owners who were ridiculously nice and welcoming. Most everybody was happy to hear we were from Nebraska/South Dakota, apparently nice Midwestern folk get along with everyone.

After a fun lunch with Pete, Ryan and I decided to try our first hike. We decided on the "M" Trail, a 2 mile popular college hike located at the mouth of Bridger Canyon. There were 2 distinct trails we could take to the top of the "M", a steep trail that said "continue at your own risk" and one that meandered back and forth within the mountain. We chose the latter. The views were astonishing, and as we continue to climb in elevation the city of Bozeman spread out before us. It was breathtaking, quite literally because we weren't used to the altitude. After stopping a few times to catch our breath, we saw a 70 year old couple headed back down the trail and decided we could definitely make it. About 45 minutes later we reached the "M" and thought we were on top of the world. Ryan decided we should hike to the top of the "M" so we could look down it, so we did, but after he headed out to the middle and noticed the steep incline wouldn't allow me to attempt it.

We felt refreshed and so proud to have finished our first Montana hike. Since Pete was still at work and the hike didn't take as long as we had expected, we looked for a place to rest. I think Ryan might kill me here...but the "Dollar $pree" had a very large and vacant parking lot. So we thought we'd take a snooze in the truck with the A/C on, of course. Classy, we know. It only took us 20 minutes to realize how ridiculously ghetto we looked and we drove over to Barnes and Noble for some better civilized rest and reading time.

Pete joined us and we picked up groceries for a yummy grilled cheeseburger dinner in the mountains, and some pumpkin ale to keep it festive. We were staying at Pete's parents place for the duration of our visit, so we headed up the mountain following Pete all the way. At one point and time I figured we had already reached the top and were heading back down we had ascended so high. But a wooden sign with the words "The Sveen's" told us different. The Sveen residence in Bozeman is really amazing. It looks out over another mountain and from there you can spot elk and sometimes moose. Our room was just as amazing...the entire North and West walls were covered with windows for the view of the mountains. After marveling at the gorgeous views, Pete asked if we'd like to take a 4 wheel ride to one of the open summit areas. Of course we did!

As the sun set on our first night in Montana and the stars came out in droves, we sat outside near the crackling fire and enjoyed a beverage or 2. God really outdid himself here in Montana.