Monday, November 29, 2010


Mondays after long weekends stink. Since this isn't PA you do not get off of work. In PA the Monday after Thanksgiving is the first day of buck season, so in PA, you get off. The students are even off. This is because most people in PA over the age of 13 will be hunting, and even if they weren't, I'm pretty sure every single bus driver in PA is also a hunter. Anyway...

We do not live in PA, so I had to go to work today and it wasn't any fun. Tomorrow will be better though, the first day back is just rough.

This past weekend we traveled north to visit family and friends. Due to traffic it took us 5.5 hours instead of 3. There was a lot, a lot of traffic, but we made the best of it by listening to Christmas music, talking about previous Thanksgivings, and stopping for fuel and hot drinks. I borrowed a neat little video camera from work to recored the events of the 5k, but the 5k was postponed a year due to pouring down rain and 35 degree temperatures. I did manage to capture the inside festivities here you go.

I hope you liked it, more to come in the future.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving -- Hip Hip, Hooray!

Today we are off to Dan's sister's house so we don't have a crazy hectic morning tomorrow, what with the 5K and all. I volunteered (or was asked?) to bring pies and rolls, so I've been preparing since Monday.

I made two different kinds of rolls on Monday. First I made potato rolls, melt-in-your-mouth delicious and a reminder of the Fredonia establishment The Upper Crust. Later in the day I made oatmeal rolls, complete with some white whole wheat flour (love that King Arthur brand!).

Yesterday I made pie crusts and put them in the fridge, and this morning I finished up the pies. Chocolate pecan pie and apple with a crumb top. My motto is that cooking/baking ALWAYS takes longer than you think it will. And I was right. The kitchen looked like a war zone even with that step out of the way, and I spent all morning making the fillings for 2 pies.

Now they are cooling on the counter (and the kitchen is cleaned up), so I have some time to reflect on the past few Thanksgivings.

In 2007, our first "married" Thanksgiving, we went to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving #1 and then to Fredonia for leftover Thanksgiving #2.

In 2008, the first year we were in Wisconsin, my parents and my sister made the long drive out to Williams Bay, and we celebrated with my Aunt Faith and cousin Frankie, too. That was the first Thanksgiving I was somewhat in charge of, although my parents brought a turkey, stuffing made and frozen, and some other Thanksgiving essentials (including recipes, which I now have safely tucked away). I made cornbread stuffing (I think?), Dan made mashed potatoes, and I also made the most amazing crescent rolls, if I do say so myself. It was also the first year we tried Chocolate Pecan Pie, and I fell in love.

In 2009, we did a pre-Thanksgiving celebration at Halloween with Dan's family because my student-teaching break far too short to drive all the way to PA. It was fun to have Thanksgiving with everyone and then go trick-or-treating. I loved it.

Then, for the REAL Thanksgiving, Andrew & Shelley drove out to WI to celebrate with us! They got totally lost in Ohio, but made it out to Williams Bay. It was my first Thankgiving without any parents, so I was (overly) prepared. I made a list of the menu, complete with what dishes the finished food would go in. As I was student teaching, I had to go to school on the day before Thanksgiving, and Shelley and Dan did most of the prep work for the big meal. It was like having a sous-chef.

On the day of Thanksgiving, we were joined by our friends Ryan & Virginia (and her amazing sweet potato casserole) and Jay. It was awesome -- I absolutely loved everything about this Thanksgiving, and apparently had so much fun that I didn't take a single picture. Of course we missed the family members who weren't there, but it was great to have friends and family to share the day with.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. You spend lots of time making delicious foods, which are laced with memories of years gone-by. You get to sit around eating and talking and laughing with family and/or friends. And then you can relax for a few hours, only to get out the leftovers to enjoy them again. So excited for the memories that this Thanksgiving will create.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks #16

My friends from college are as dear to me now as the day that we graduated. (An appropriate picture to insert would be one from graduation, but I am unable to find any. ANY. We took like a billion pictures, jumping in our gowns, and yet I have not a single one. Digital pictures are great, but I need to start printing them and filing them in an organized manner. So as a substitute, here is some of my wonderful friends at Kate's wedding. But I digress from the real topic at hand.) Our lives have taken unexpected twists and turns, and we've grown more unique in the years since our time at Houghton, but I still rely on their words of wisdom, their encouragement, and their own stories of growth and change.

These words are from the journal I kept freshman year, when college was still new and terrifying and exciting and overwhelming. I think I can be forgiven for the bit of drama infused in this entry.
My memories of summer fun, of laughter, of joking around and of camaraderie are haunting reminders that everything is different now. And I'm scared I'll never have that again, that friendships like those were for one brief moment in my life. It is so foolish, but I am afraid I will never have friends again. Who is Kate, then, and Adrienne? Sure, they are my friends. But are they the same friends as I had in high school? Am I expecting them to be the same friends? No, but I think I am longing for the closeness and ease of jest and the fun we shared.

Friendships are not made in a day, or a week, or a month or even two months. But I wish they were.
Even then, the makings of amazing friendships were underway, with more to be formed in the months following this entry. I could write an entry on each of these women and how they have impacted my life, but suffice it to say I am abundantly grateful to God for them.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Giving Thanks #15

I'm not burned out of being thankful, but I am tired of making a daily post giving the details on what I am thankful for. That's why I skipped yesterday.

Today on Facebook I declared that I was thankful for a healthy body and to celebrate, I was going to run! And run I did, my hair blowing in the warm breeze, dog pulling me onward.

On the topic of running, I am super excited for Thanksgiving. Dan has organized a Family 5K. Here's the reminder email he sent out today:

Dear Registered Racer,

Race day is only a few days away, so are you ready? Have you been running? Walking?

I wanted to take a moment and cover all the basics so that you can arrive ready to go. If you have been looking at the weather you maybe thinking, "maybe I'll just stay inside and not go to that race", but before you make any crazy rash decisions, think of probably won't remember the day you staying inside on Thanksgiving morning, but you will probably remember the day you got up to move yourself 3.1 miles with friends and family. The race director and his staff have also gathered supplies for the race and made beautiful finisher medals last night, so please come.

Cold water will not be provided anymore, so please bring a water bottle for yourself. Hot chocolate will be at the finish line instead of cold water.

WHEN: Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25, 2010. The race starts at 8:30am. Don't worry about showing up too early but we will start promptly at 8:30. The racers meeting will be about a minute long and it will start at 8:29. The race goes at 8:30!!!!!

PARKING: Parking is available at the Cuyahoga Valley Towpath Trail, Brecksville Station parking lot.

Directions: For most of us....go North on Route 8, turn left onto Route 82. Go 3.8 miles and turn left onto Riverview Road. In .2 miles turn left onto Valley Parkway. Parking lot is straight ahead.

COURSES: The 2010 5k course is an easy, flat out and back route.

Follow the link below in order to see the route.

AWARDS: Finisher medals will be awarded to all finishers.

RACE RESULTS: Race results and photos will be posted online at following the race.

If you have any questions email me or call me.

Looking forward to seeing everyone!


Thursday, here we come!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Giving Thanks #14

Dan is a pretty cool guy. I think he already got his own "thankful" post, but what is to stop me from giving thanks another time for him? (I'm such a rebel.)

Interesting facts about Dan:

1.) He likes pottery. He purchased a birthday mug today -- thanks Grandma B! This is good for me, as he has too many mugs to use on a daily basis, so I get to use parts of his collection for my morning cup of tea.

2.) He is more artsy and creative than he would seem on first acquaintance. Again, this works in my favor when he helps me when I bite off creative art projects that are larger than I can chew.

3.) He does fun things like take footage from our adventure today in order to share it with others. (There's a moment of bike lust in the middle of the footage. Can you spot it? I think it is a common trait shared among cyclists.)

So that was a taste of mountain biking at John Bryan State Park. If you chose to watch, I do feature in the video, going very slowly. My previous mountain biking trips have resulted in scarring and bruising, so I decided that I needed to focus more on staying upright than going fast. I'm still working on that steering thing...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Giving Thanks #13

Today, I am thankful that I got a phone call from a school, asking me to be a long-term sub for a 7th grade math class. Woot woot!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Giving Thanks #12

Dan has a job. It was a long search to find the right one, and I am so glad that he persevered through the waiting period, actively searching for a good fit, not giving up even when he didn't have much hope. We are so glad to be where we are.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Giving Thanks...

I'm glad my conscience was clear this weekend: my previous post covered me for the weekend. I had no time to blog while at my parents' house! However, even though my posting was absent for the weekend, I had an abundance of joys.

1.) Lots of giggling with my sister. And boy, did we have time to chit chat. Chocolate covered animal crackers take some time to make! (We were so amusing that we distracted my mom from her first batch of chocolate cupcakes. Whoops!)
2.) Jo and I were roommates this weekend, too. Nothing like staying up for a half an hour talking about the doo-dads of childhood that still decorate her shelves.
3.) Seeing my brother and sister-in-law, who are pregnant with their first child. They are going to be excellent parents. Seriously. And Shelley looks so cute!
4.) An amazing shower to welcome Baby Ben into the world. It was also a lot of fun, with family, church family, and friends to share in their joy!
5.) Spending time with my wonderful parents. I had such a great time that I teared up when I left Fredonia. (True story.)
6.) Sunday afternoon: lunch with my aunt + uncle and my favorite mother-daughter-sister activities of reading magazines, pointing out silly ideas/products (Real Simple wins the prize for that one) or things we like.
7.) Visiting with friends from Houghton! They were really Shelley's friends first, but I got to join in on the friendships during my time there at college and in the year following.
8.) Watching Mama Mia with my amiga Ashley. Ashley has overcome so much in the past 3 years (and I don't say that lightly). Her attitude and sense of humor are remarkable.
9.) Walks around Fredonia. I love small towns. Multiple people at church said, "Oh! I saw you walking yesterday!" So great.
10.) MEAT. My parents have a meat emporium in their basement, and until you've tasted Brautigam Bacon (raised by an uncle) you haven't LIVED! :) Not to mentioned the other cuts of fantastic meat that I brought back with me. We're set for a few months now. Not only do they give it to us (so kind) but it's all raised locally (well, local to Fredonia). I'm fairly sure that the farmers, 4-H students, and nearby meat processing plant all provide conditions that are much more humane than the industrialized meat farms, so my conscience doesn't have to suffer either.

I had a wonderful, fantastic weekend, but I was also so happy to come home to my sweet husband Dan. I missed him this weekend, but we were able to celebrate his birthday (the big 2-7!) together when I returned home. Excited to enjoy another piece of blueberry buttercream cake tonight for dessert.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Giving Thanks Ten

This is Dan. Hil is off at her parents house this weekend. I have no new photos, so I will describe my thanks w/o pictures.

Hil left Thursday morning, so I have been doing meals on my own since then. Tonight I made salad, and it is that which I am thankful. The order of making things if you wish to copy...Dan style.

grab a skillet, start heating it up. Pour 3 full gobble fulls of veggie oil in that skillet. Grab a large potato and wash if it off a bit. Take your sharp knife and cut that guy down into fry size shapes, long style. When the oil starts smoking drop all those little guys in there and let em' cook. In the meantime, get out all your salad fixin's. Chop up the lettuce or whatever green you have. Add a chopped pepper, carrot, and cucumber. Stir those fries a bit, flipping them over to get them browned and evenly cooked. Grab a large happy glass bowl and put all the fixin's in there. Now take those fries you just made and put them on a paper towel so some oil gets soaked up. Grab the chicken breast you had marinading all day in the fridge and cut it up and put it in the hot skillet. Let that cook while you salt, season, and sample the fries. Dump the rest on the salad and cover with your favorite dressing. Once that chicken is cooked put it on the salad and pour yourself a large glass of milk. Sit down and enjoy it, knowing you only have to wash one knife, one bowl, one skillet, one fork, and one cutting board, all because you remembered to cut up all the salad parts before the chicken. Booyah.

Add a BAM of allspice if you want, or whatever seasonings make you smile like a Halloween night trick-or-treater.

THAT was my dinner and it was awesome. You know what Hilary will find funny though? I totally forgot to put cheese on my salad, and I always get grumpy when Hilary doesn't put cheese on salad. Growing up cheese was ALWAYS on salad in the Sahli house, but not so in the Brautigam house. I knew something was missing tonight...I missed the cheese, but I miss Hil too.

Tomorrow will be Macheese w/ meat and something green.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Giving Thanks #8

This "thankful" post will probably last through the weekend. I'm going to be visiting my hometown in order to help throw a friends-and-family shower for my dear sister-in-law, who is pregnant with their first kiddo. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be busy. Thank goodness that I currently have 5 nieces and nephews I'm thankful for, so that should last me through Sunday.

The oldest is K. She is full of sweetness and loves to give hugs to anyone who is deemed a friend -- and most everyone is. She is intelligent and enthusiastic and most definitely a people person.

Our other niece is E. E can be quiet and shy around strangers, but she is charming and goofy with the people she loves! Dan particularly loves how she can look like an angel but say tomboy-ish things.

Then we have the three holigans, described in age order from left to right. C is a super athlete and he loves school. I mean LOVES. He also is a talented artist (I think he can draw better than I can) and would play outside all day if he could.

V is one of the funniest kids I know. His mom tells me that he is most commonly described as daper. He has personality coming out of his ears! When there aren't other kids around, V will entertain us all day, but if the cousins are together, I'm lucky if I catch his attention to say hi!

C is the littlest of the guys, but does his best to keep up with his various buddies (Pap, V, the uncles, etc). He loves monster trucks and loves to pretend. I think that a cartoon character could be based off of him -- he has the perfect mix of big features and adorable chubbiness.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Giving Thanks #8

Back in August, when the call came offering Dan a job in Dayton, Ohio, it gave us some pause. We were on the way back from picking up the textbooks at the school where I would be teaching. He had four job interviews lined up over the next two weeks, some in more exotic locations. He had done the interview over a month prior, so he was a bit fuzzy on what the job entailed. And last, since his interview was via Skype, he -- and we -- had never visited Dayton.

But after we weighed our options, we made the decision to move to Dayton. Dan arranged a visit to his job site in order to get some of the formalities out of the way, and we decided to kill two birds with one stone. I'd come along and we'd find an apartment together. We knew it was optimistic to hope that we'd find a place to live in one afternoon, so we decided to spend the night and continue searching the next day.

So we arrived in Dayton and had a whirlwind tour of the city, driving around the hip and trendy Oregon district, driving over the dam, and stopping for ice cream at Graeter's (the highlight of my trip). After our three-hour-tour was over, we drove to a grocery store to change, grabbed a free paper with only a few housing options listed, called one or two places from the car, and then realized we needed to drive around looking for the FOR RENT signs.

Keep in mind that Dan and I were at the end of a long period of limited employment, so we were attempting to be as frugal as possible. To that end, we had hardly any minutes left on our cell phone, but we were wary of bumping up our plan. We also had noticed the air conditioning in our car dying, but it's not exactly a necessity. And we decided to camp outside for free instead of stay in a hotel.

After we drove around Dayton and surrounding suburbs for several hours, making phone calls and being astonished by rent prices, we decided to drive up to the park where we were camping out for the night. There we also made dinner. Yes, so frugal that we brought our own food to cook. We were a bit discouraged, but we knew we had an entire day in front of us in which we would certainly find something, or at least have several decent options.

The next morning, full of optimism, we headed out after eating our cereal in lukewarm milk (yum). Today was the day! We drove down to the city of Dayton. And drove. And drove. And drove. The temperatures soared toward 95, and our car's a.c. would work for 5 minutes at a time and then putter out for 15.

The entire day is now somewhat of heat-soaked blur. I know that we looked at several sub-par apartments on the edge of a great neighborhood, one apartment in a bad neighborhood, and the upper apartment in a good neighborhood on a busy road. Somewhere in the middle we made ourselves pb & j, the makings of which were also brought from home.

After lunch, it was my turn to call the number on the sign, and boy, was Dan lucky! I spent 15 minutes on the phone with an elderly woman. I learned about her pets, her husband, and the things she expected from her tenants. I finally got off the phone with her, after extracting a promise that she'd show us the apartment later in the afternoon.

I'm not sure what Dan and I did between the phone call, but we were sitting on the steps of the apartment at the designated time. We waited. We waited some more. Dan called his mom. We watched cars go up and down the street. I eventually called the number again to see where the landlord was, and her husband assured me that she had left the apartment at least 20 minutes ago. Eventually, a Saab put on its right turning signal and ever so slowly pulled into the driveway. A slight, withered elderly woman ever so slowly got out of the car. (It probably took her 2 or 3 minutes to get out of the car. No joke.) She then pulled out a baggie of keys, which she handed to Dan, saying that she was not good with keys. So we made small talk as Dan attempted to open the front door. After every key was tried and some were retried, she declared that we could go through the back door and while we were at it, look at the downstairs apartment.

As Dan and I had been there for 45 minutes with nothing to do except look at the outside of this house/apartment, we knew someone was occupying the downstairs. We informed the lady of this, and she was shocked!

"Well, I told him he needed to be out of there three weeks ago," she said, as we stepped over filthy plates, clothes strewn all over the floor, and sidestepped between the couch and the door leading up to the second floor.

We admired the older apartment the best that we could, but both Dan and I knew that this probably wasn't going to be the best situation to become entangled in. So as politely as we could, we told her we'd call her if we decided to rent it and made our way out into the hot safe-haven known as our car.

Then, dejected and overheated, we decided to find a hotel, get some dinner, use the Internet, and resume our search in the morning. We cranked up the a.c. in our room, ate enough to go into a food coma, and attempted to search the internet for additional options. Eventually, we made a game plan, which included looking further outside the city and in big apartment buildings.

So the next morning, we set out again, still hoping that something would open up. This time, our game plan (differing from the previous day by having actual places to visit instead of just driving aimlessly around the city) showed a bit more promise. I had been watching the addictive channel HGTV, and especially the show House Hunters, far too much in the weeks and months preceding this move, so the options of the third day were narrated by Susanne Wong, with a script that went something like this.

Do they want the older town home outside the city in the need of some adjustments?
The trendy loft inside the city, but without parking?
Or the basement apartment with unique features in an old school building?
Find out when we return.

And our choice was... #3!

I am so grateful that we found something during our whirlwind trip, and I am even more thrilled that it is working out wonderfully for us. It's a great location for work and a really neat apartment.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Giving Thanks #7

Thank goodness for sunshine in the morning again! I'm much more cheerful when there is sunlight streaming into our apartment while I'm eating breakfast. I also didn't mind the nice long morning on Sunday -- made the whole day feel very relaxed.

What made Sunday even better was that Dan and I were able to spend some quality time together. We drove to the town of Yellow Springs in order to hike in John Bryan State Park. I love spending time outside on Sunday with Dan.

Dan is all about teaching Lander to jump up on things, although he has to put himself in the same positions to convince Lander to follow.

Fun day in the woods!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Giving Thanks #7

I am abundantly grateful that we found a church on the second Sunday we were here in Dayton. We were immediately drawn to the welcoming atmosphere. As the pastor said, "We want to be a place with sticky on our hands," and we are evidence of that goo.

The second week we attended, we decided to take the plunge and sign up for a small group. Our life group has just started recently, and while we're not all in the same places in life, almost all of us are new to the church or the area. It was a bonding experience to share our stories and learn that all of us are searching for connection, from one of the new pastors on staff to two military families to other transplants. We've only had three meetings, but since we've started getting together, we've seen friendly faces every Sunday. It's so great to know names to put to those faces and a little bit of their stories. I am thankful for this community.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Giving Thanks #6

Last night I planned on what to be thankful for today: deep dish pizza.

We've recently joined a small group, and we've been reading John Ortberg's The Life You've Always Wanted, on spiritual disciplines. One of the chapters is on the discipline of celebration, and in that chapter, he encourages us to practice having joy, giving thanks for simple pleasures. So yesterday, when pizza was on the menu, I decided to amp it up to Deep Dish Pizza, which makes regular pizza pale in comparison. It was, as always, delicious -- stringy cheese, crumbled sausage, a crisp and flavorful crust, and we even had a bottle of Henry Weinhard's to share. Then we rented a movie -- The Ghost Writer -- because we had listened to the book during one of our car rides from Wisconsin to PA or NY and really enjoyed it.

I'm happy to say that we practiced the discipline of celebration to the best of our abilities yesterday. I'm thankful for good food, an enjoyable movie, and the company of my husband.

P.S. I'm even more thankful that there are leftovers for lunch today!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Giving Thanks #5

Dan recently ran a 1/2 marathon. I was so proud of him!

A short list of some of the things I have loved about my husband in the last 24 hours:

1.) He washed the dishes after I made dinner.
2.) He covered me up with another blanket after he got up this morning.
3.) He generally comes home for lunch.
4.) He suggested that we have a big breakfast on Saturday (one of my favorite things!).
5.) He laughs out loud at t.v. shows with me.
6.) He gladly eats all the sweets in our house so I don't have to.

I'm thankful for my sweet husband.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Giving Thanks #4

Several years ago, I was home from college on Christmas break and, as with every break, I was hanging out in the living room, going through all the issues of Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens, and Martha Stewart (affectionately called Martha Stew-Stew in our house) that had arrived since I'd been gone. I was fascinated with the December issue of Martha Stewart and the knitted items featured. Dan knew that his mom knew how to knit and offered her services. The next time I was in PA, his mom graciously showed me (and showed me and showed me) how to knit and purl. I was smitten.

The number of items I knit fluctuates from year to year and season to season, but it is a hobby I enjoy. I think it stems from my favorite phrase: I can do it myself! There is such satisfaction in creating something usable out of a couple of sticks and a ball of yarn.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Giving Thanks #3

Yesterday I was issued my Ohio Teaching License! It is a huge relief to know that I am able to teach in our new home state. The certificate is in the mail, arriving in the next few days.

Now I just need a job to go with my skills. I can hope that that will be a thankful post sometime this month.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Giving Thanks #2

One of our apartment-neighbors has taken the responsibility of beautifying our apartment building with gorgeous planters. They have been breathtaking since we moved here, and I've enjoyed them daily while outside with Lander. I was worried that they would be left to turn brown and die in the cold, but fortunately, she moved them indoors, with two of them in close proximity to our apartment door!

This plant has large, light pink flowers and perfumes the air with its scent. In fact, that's how I knew the plants migrated inside -- I could smell it. The neighbor told me that they are native to Jamaica, so I guess that tells you about our summers if they bloom and grow here!

And this plant has astonishingly large leaves. Dan likes to say that they'd make good group T.P. (Outdoor guy, obviously.)

I'm thankful for this neighbor and how she adds beauty to my life, and I'm thankful that the Creator wasn't satisfied with one or two flowers, but created the stunning variety of plants, some of which I enjoy daily.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Give Thanks #1

I've been inspired to give thanks for something every day this month. It's really something I should be doing every day, regardless of the month, but somehow it seems especially pertinent during November. So while we work our way up to Thanksgiving, I'll be posting a daily thanks.

Today, day #1, I'm thankful for energetic walks with Lander on crisp fall days.

(So this picture actually just shows Dan + Lander (boy + dog = bff) in our backyard, but I wasn't up for faking a picture of me walking Lander.)

Walking a dog makes me more open for greeting the people I meet while outside. I'm not freaked out that they'll harm me, as I do have a rather uncontrollable dog whirring around me, and I've exchanged more pleasantries with my neighbors about Lander than I would have by myself. It also gets me out of the apartment, which I need. Fresh air and Vitamin D have become part of my morning routine. I might not be so thankful for this come snow (if we get any), but for now, with these beautiful crisp mornings, it's something I enjoy.