Sunday, April 29, 2012


...she might be my car, but she's RCC's baby. 

RCC has always been a gearhead and has done cool things with his vehicles.  Like building Tinkerbell...
Tink is on the left, The Bitch on the right
The Bitch is a full-sized Dodge Ram and Tink dwarfs her
Tinkerbell started life as a Chevy step-side thingamabob; she ended up an incredible rock crawler (hence the name RockCrawlingChef).  The Bitch has been modified, though her mods are mostly to the engine and not visible.

Lil Blue BoX, his Jeep, got well loved, too...

Water crossing at Onion Creek Trail in Moab
He sold Lil Blue BoX and parted out Tinkerbell and then was left with idle hands.  And while the saying, "idle hands are the Devil's workshop" doesn't necessarily apply, it does mean that his little gearhead hands have to be kept busy on a car project, which just happens to be Ripley.

He's become friends with one of the salesmen at the Kia dealership and often takes Rip over as soon as he's finished a project on her.  Because of the modifications done to Ripley and RCC showing them off at the dealership, she's pretty widely recongized there.  She had to go in for her annual physical and while RCC was there with her, he met the owner of the dealership, who told him to bring her back on Saturday to get her picture taken with Hamstar, the hamster from the commercials.

What commercial, you ask?  The Party Rock commercial...

We were assured Hamstar would look just like the one in the commercial, so we made plans to stop by the dealership after our Steel Challenge match, on our way to get Rip's "new" rally stripe.

Well, he looked more like a bear with a pig's snout than Hamstar,
but it was still pretty cool :)
Sadly, we didn't get to see Hamstar do any shuff-ff-ffling, but then I don't know how the dancers in the commercial pulled it off - with costumes that big, every move had to have been completely over-exagerated.

We ran off to my friend Stein's house, and after a couple hours of BSing, the boys got to work on Ripley's rally stripe while Wife Stein and I hung out and drank Strongbow.  After a while, we decided to check in on the boys and see how they were coming.
Initial placement

Getting started

Removing bubbles

Hood is done!

Wife Stein checking on hubby's work

Laying the roof stripe

Manly men doing manly things

Tailgate stripe
Ripley's mostly done with her new rally stripe.  There are a few "problem areas" that we (by we, I mean the manley men)  need more time for: the area under/around the spoiler; the small spot between the windshield and the sunroom; and the two inches on the front and back bumpers.  Stein, RCC, and Mez would have finished them last night had we not run out of warmth and daylight.

I pretty much love her sporty new rally stripe!  It's the one modification I've been dying to get and we've had the stripe in the closet for soooooo long, I was beginning to think it would never happen.

Next up, RCC has designed and ordered me some body decals that will declare Ripley a "1911 edition" Kia Soul.  You know those body decals will call for more entries into her baby book.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Hate My Sister

No, really.

Nebalee came home from the hospital and I demanded Mom take her right back. Mom refused! That pretty much set the tone for our lives as sibs.

She's more photogenic; she got the bigger boobs (which, even after breast feeding three kids are still located where they belong); hell, she even got the volleyball set I asked for for her birthday.

She runs half-marathons for fun. When we were at her house on Sunday, she mentioned that she'd run six miles at a nearby open space, Coyote Ridge. She said it was a "nice" run and it'd be a great place to go for a horseback ride. Mom showed some interest and talked about trailering the horses.

Fast-forward to today. I'm on week two, day two of Ease into 5K and given the choice of running on the treadmill or running outside, I chose to run outside. Specifically Coyote Ride, which my loving sister said was a "nice" run.

"Nice", my ass! Have I mentioned that my sister is a lying bitch and that Mom should have taken her back to the hospital when I told her to thirty-seven years ago?

The trailhead is at and elevation of 5,150. About the same as my house. From the road, the trail looks like a nice, flat loop. Well, it isn't. In the span of one mile, the trail gained approximately 200 feet in elevation. Now, that doesn't sound so bad, does it? 200 feet, what's 200 feet? Most of the 200 feet gain was done in about 1/4 mile; the rest was "gradual".

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Taco Beans

It's been a while since I've done a food memory.  Like, over a year, I think.

Last week, groceries were a little "lean" in our house and so RCC had do scrounge something up for dinner for himself. 

Sidenote: don't you think Chopped would be so much better if the chefs had to cook out of a typical end-of-the-month cupboard?  You know, half a loaf of bread, moldy cheese, milk that's not quite bad, and a cupboard full of stuff that still in there because no one likes to eat it?  Not *that* would make a good show!

Anyway, he made himself some canned refried beans with spices in it and ate them with cold corn tortillas.  He made a joke about it on Facebook, saying he was eatin' like a poor man.  But when I came home and saw the beans he made and smelled the cumin, I knew I had to make some Taco Beans.

It took me a couple of days to get around to it, but I finally had my taco beans (alternatively called bean tacos or fried bean tacos, depending on who in the family you're talking to) today for lunch.  Truly, a poor man's lunch, but fabulous.  Grandma Mary used to make us taco beans when the larder was bare.  We always had beans and tortillas and spices, so we could always make taco beans.  I don't think she necessarily loved them, because she told me that Little Lita (her mom) would always make them when the beans went sour, just so they could get another day's meal out of them.

She may not have loved them, but they rank right up there with fried tacos for me.  And fried tacos are pretty much my all-time favorite Grandma Mary food on the planet. Top three Grandma Mary foods:
  1. Fried Tacos
  2. Taco Beans
  3. Potato Enchiladas
The thing is, with the exception of fried tacos, they're pretty much poor man's meals and I love them.  I've been craving Taco Beans since RCC made his bean thing, so when I came home from work for lunch I broke out Grandma's molcajete and went to work.

If you're interested, here's the recipe.  It's quick and easy and you can feed a fair number of people (remember, it's poor man's food).

  • garlic
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • onion powder
  • pinto beans (already cooked or canned)
  • tortillas
  • lard
  • cheese
  • onion
Grind up the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and onion powder in the molcajete until it's a paste.  Add the beans and continue to mash/mix.  Season to taste.  I like my beans to take on a red hue from the chili powder and the cumin.

Once the beans and paste are well mixed, spread on one half of a tortilla with the back of the spoon, no more than 1/4" thick and fold in half.

In a skillet, heat the lard until hot enough to fry (about 1/4" or less should coat the pan).  Place the "tacos" in the hot lard.  Flip once to cook evenly on both sides.  It should take a minute or less on each side to cook through.

Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels.  Gingerly pry open the tacos to add shredded cheese and chopped onion.

It's probably not the best thing on the planet to eat, but it's a whole heap healthier than a Big Mac, I'm sure.  I'm a big fan of lard, I make no apologies for it.  I don't cook with it often, but there are some dishes that *have* to be made with it.  If you wanted to make this a more healthy meal, I suppose you could substitute olive oil or something, but it won't taste as good.  But then, if you've never had taco beans, you wouldn't know the difference between cooking them in lard or olive oil.

My belly's happy and I've got a smile on my face - Grandma Mary may be gone, but I can still enjoy the memories of cooking my favorite foods with her.

What are your favorite comfort foods or food memories?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mother's Day is Coming!

And do you know what you're going to get for your mother?  Or the mother of your children?

What about one of these?

Yes, I know, shameless promotion.  But they're about the coolest things I've seen.  It might be that I have a "thing" for our designer (and the design).  Honestly, though, I can't describe how cool it is to see these in real life after looking at the mock up for what seemed like forever.

AnyshamelessGunDiva, if you want a cool gift for someone, just click here.

Ok, ok, I'm done pimping RCC's phenomenal work out.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Volunteering - Just Do It

You know I love "my" 9HealthFair.  It's an amazing community-based health fair that helps approximately 95,000 people annually in Colorado. 

The 9HF is always an amazing source of stress for me because I invest so much time and effort into it.  Each year from February until the end of April, my life revolves around the 9HF.  I spend every Saturday in February and most of March training RN students to do phlebotomy, holding community refresher courses, and - of course - training my own students.  The RN student coordinator estimated that I've trained almost 500 RN students over the past five years.  All of those RN students are spread throughout the Northern Colorado fairs.  Northern Council is the only council that doesn't face a shortage of volunteers, phlebotomy or otherwise, which makes me so happy to live here, where so many  people are willing to volunteer their time to help others in their community.  Working with the 9HF is the reason why I'm pursuing my Master's in Public Health - with such an amazing model to follow, how could I not?

All of the stress and loss of weekends pays off once April begins - that's when my RN "chillins" are sent out into the real world to ply their trade and practice on real patients.  They are out of the nest and it's up to them to fly - it's hard, because I can't be at all of the fairs with them, though I desperately want to be.

My MA students, who I have for twenty months over the course of their program, really do become surrogate children and I'm so proud of all of those who worked this weekend.  They put in long hours without complaint, went out of their way to help wherever they were needed, and in general made everyone's life easier.  For many of my students, this is their first time volunteering; they've never felt the joy of helping other people out just for the sake of it.  I hope it becomes a life-long habit for them like it has for some of my grads.

I had four of my MA grads who are currently working in the field come back as proctors to help the new students and they were amazing. The two grad on the left are working multiple fairs this year.

Grads (L -> R) 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2011

I even have some of my grads who are part of the "core team" that travels from fair to fair helping out all of the new students.
Our core team:
the four blue shirts immediately around me are my grads,
the one to the left of the green shirt is an adopted grad.

I hear over and over again from their site coordinators how wonderful it is to have the students at their fairs - that the students are always professional, friendly, and willing to help wherever they are needed.  I can't take any credit for that - it's who the students are - but it makes me happy that those students will soon be working in medicine "for real" and I hope that their attitudes never change, that they will always face their career with the joy and sense of wonder with which they face their volunteerism.

My actual children, Digger, Ashinator, and Monster, have all volunteered at the 9HealthFair and for our local fire department's Public Education department.  We started volunteering because I could never afford to donate money.  My apologies, I have some amazing pre-digital pictures of the kids working the 9HF, but, of course, I can't find them.
Monster, Digger, Ashinator
2008 FlameOut5K race

We even got their friends in on it.
This year, even Autobot got into it.  Last year, she and Kyzzer helped behind the scenes with set-up of the phlebotomy area, but this year Nebalee and Mr. Nebalee agreed that she could skip school to come work the actual fair.  She put in about twelve hours of volunteer time over three days.

Giving kids clothes and food is one thing but it's much more important to teach them that other people besides themselves are important, and that the best thing they can do with their lives is to use them in the service of other people.  Dolores Huerta

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.  Margaret Mead

Sunday, April 15, 2012

SAVING SCOTT by Terry Odell

This morning, I finally made far enough down my TBR pile to read Terry Odell's SAVING SCOTT.  I've had it in my TBR for a while and after reading it, wondered how on earth it could have gotten so buried in the rest of my reading.  I "met" Terry through her blog and then got to meet her and her husband in person at the Writers' Police Academy a couple of years ago.

So, sorry Terry it's taken me so long to get to your book(s).  SAVING SCOTT was amazing and I devoured it in one sitting.'s post isn't really about the book, but about something I found in the book. Terry's main character, Ashley, is fixing to open a bakery so she bakes throughout the entire book.  In one scene she's making a chocolate cookie with cayenne pepper in it.  Yep, cayenne pepper.  In a chocolate cookie.  Sounded intriguing.

Even cooler, when I reached the end of the book, Terry had included the recipe for the amazing-sounding Spicy Aztec Chocolate Drops.  Yes, she did.

And I had to make them.  Well, me and Nebalee with some help from Kyzzer and Asset.
Butter and sugar

The dry ingredients, including cayenne

Starting to come together

Asset rolling the cookies in sugar

Kyzzer did about three cookies to Asset's one

The cookies were even more amazing than I thought they would be.  I can't even adequately explain the deliciousness that is this cookie.  Moist chocolate drops with just a touch of heat in the back of your throat to finish.  Especially perfect with a tall glass of cold milk.  I'm fairly certain I ate most of a dozen.

Definitely worth a try.  Click on over to Terry's Place to get the recipe.  And while you're at it, click on the link for the book and buy that, too.  There are a whole lot more recipes at the end of the book that I might or might not try.  And the story's pretty darn good, too.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

RCC's Favorite Hobby..., of course, buying things for Ripley.  He loves to buy that girl presents and recently came up with a present of his own design for her.  An engine cover.  Serves absolutely no purpose at all except to look cool.  But, boy does it look cool.

By day:
the backer plate is Alien green to match her body color.
By night:
the cut-out is backlit with green LED lights.
He also installed new silicone heat-dissipating radiator hoses, which are supposed to do something good for her.  He told me, I pretended to listen.

His second favorite hobby is to take pictures of Ripley, and because of that, she's been featured in the Soul Hamsters' calendar.  I love this picture he took of Ripley - it looks like she's winking at him.

Look at her headlight - the starburst looks like she's winking.  In kind of an inanimate, Disney sort of way.

In two weeks, she has her appointment to get her rally stripe (we've only waited about eleven months for our schedules to mesh with Stein's <--- not only is he great at helping me with my guns, but he can lay vinyl, too).

RCC also has new shoes on order for her.  Flashy wheels and tires.  Which will be great.  Pretty soon, I'll look like a middle-aged GunDiva rollin' in her kids' car.

You know, it dawned on me - my kids' baby books aren't as thorough as the documentation I've got on this blog for my Ripley.  Sorry kids, I really do love you.  There just weren't any blogs around when you were little.  That's what you get for being born before the digital age. *smooches*

Monday, April 9, 2012

Only RCC

From Google Images
I wish I was half as quick with witty comments as RCC is.  We've been watching a lot of Top Gear, the UK version, not the US version.  And we've been learning a lot of colorful phrases.  I mean, if you were to walk up to someone and call them a "cock", well, it wouldn't be very pleasant.  But for the Top Gear guys, calling each other cocks is the norm.  Heck, on one episode, they even had a cock-o-meter, to see who looked more like one driving a car.

But one phrase just cracks me up every time I hear it and it's "wedding vegetables" or "wedding veg".  If you don't know what wedding veg is, it is also known as the "gentleman parts" or "gentleman vegetables".

So last night, just as I'm falling off to sleep after another marathon of Top Gear on Netflix, my sleepy little mind wonders, "if boys have wedding veg, what do girls have?".  And since I was just on the verge of falling asleep, my brain/mouth filter didn't work and I thought it might be a good idea to ask RCC the same question.

Me:  "Hey, honey?"
RCC:  mumble
Me:  "So, if boys have wedding veg, what do girls have?"
RCC:  "Wedding vag."
Dang, I wish I could be half as witty wide awake as he is half asleep.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Cupcake Happiness

You know how last week I posted about things that make me happy?  And I included pictures of the prettiest cupcakes I've ever seen?


Last night, I got a wild hair up my butt to give those cupcakes a try.  I mean, afterall, today is Easter and all things colorful, right?  So why not?

  • Two boxes of white cake mix
  • Gel food coloring
  • Liquid chickens
  • Vegetable oil
  • Water
  • Patience.  Lots of patience.  Lots and lots of patience.
I made the boxes of cake mix according to directions and split it between four bowls, then I added approximately half a tube (no, I'm not kidding - I wanted bright colors) of gel food coloring.

Looks like a painter's palette, doesn't it?
Mixing up the batter was the easy part.  Next came dolloping (is that a verb?  Well it is now) the batter into the cupcake tins.  This is where I really needed by patience pants on, because I'm generally *over* baking projects at just about this point.  I'd rather eat raw dough/batter of pretty much any kind than have to go through the whole process of baking.  I donned my patience pants and went to work.  It took me an entire half a season (five episodes) of Fringe on Netflix to complete the dolloping and baking.

Three colors done, one to go

And...the first two dozen are ready to go in the oven
While the first batch was baking, I was prepping the asparagus for today's feast.  I couldn't find any of the small, pencil-sized asparagus to wrap in bacon for today, so I had to peel a bunch.

The timer finally dinged eighteen minutes after the cupcakes went in and this is what I got...
Yay!  It looks like it worked!
I'm not very good at dolloping the same amount of batter into the tins apparently, as I ended up with some really big cupcakes and some not-so-big cupcakes.  I couldn't wait to lay them out to cool and get the next batch in.

Aren't they pretty?

It worked!
And tasted good, too.  We had to try one.
The next batch went in and eighteen minutes later, I had a dozen and a half more little pieces of happiness wrapped in cupcake liners ready to be frosted.  Unlike the Bionic Cowgirl, I'm super lazy and bought my frosting in two of those easy-to-use tubs.  I dumped the frosting in a bowl and added the last half of the green gel, which didn't make it very green.  So I added the last half of the blue and yellow gels too, mixed it all up and went to work decorating the cupcakes.

Can we say "sugar high"?

The decoration is pretty run-of-the-mill boring stuff, but I can't wait to see the looks on the kids' faces when they bit into their cupcakes and find all the pretty colors.  It's kind of like a reverse Easter egg, with the colors on the inside.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Things That Made Me Smile

I've been kind of a sad panda lately and not much has made me smile.  But in the last twenty-four hours a few things have made me smile.

Last night...Frito Pie...
So yummy, I had two bowls

Today, between classes, I came home for a couple hours and the kitties made me smile.  They're six weeks old today, only two weeks until they go to their new homes.  Today, they found the sun beams in the middle of the bed and took a snooze with me.
Gizmo (the mommy) and Toes enjoying the sun

Thing 1 in her sun worship pose while Scout snoozes

Kitty cuddles
Thing 1 and Scout

Toes: "Oh, hi Mommy"

Toes posing for the camera
I got a little worried that Thing 2 wasn't up on the bed with us - she's a bit of an introvert and is often off by herself, but she doesn't usually miss a cuddle puddle.  I found her in the hallway cuddling with Scamp, her daddy.  I was too slow to get a picture, but they sure were cure.

I headed back to work to give my finals.  We had planned a potluck to bribe thank our volunteer patients.  One of my students is a flipping baking whiz.  If the whole medicine thing doesn't work out for her, she should open a bakery.  (But she's a damn good medical assistant, so I doubt she'll open a bakery any time soon.)

The prettiest cupcakes I've ever seen

Not just the frosting was pretty,
the inside was almost too pretty to eat.
In addition to being beautiful, they were the lightest cupcakes I've ever eaten.  My cupcakes are always a bit dense and these were light and moist.  When I asked my student how on earth she made them so light she told me that she had to whip the color into the batter forever, much longer than she would usually mix the batter, and she's pretty sure that's what the difference is.

Who knows?  Who cares?  All I know is that, hands down, those were the best cupcakes I've eaten.

That's what made me smile in the past 24 hours.  What made you smile?