How Could I Forget?

Friday was my sister Amy's birthday! I adore my sister! She is wise, kind, and hilarious! And even though she has yet to forgive me for the Barbie Incident of 1989, she is by far one of the best people I have ever known! Here is to number 27, hot stuff!!!!
This is a picture of the card I made her. I also sent her a fabulous wool and felt bag (that almost didn't get packed into the box because it is so adorable), a tambourine, some Mexican Pumpkin candles, some bubbles that you blow out of a squeezey rubber fish, an ice pack in the shape of Mr. Bump (from a children's book we used to read), and some other goodies!

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Some Things I Love About Fall

Pots of warm, tastey soup on the stove.

Yummy fall clothes!

Pulling out the delightful quilt my grandmother made for me!

Warm, rich colored Mums!

Cozy beverages to fill heavy, comforting mugs.

And don't forget . . .
The crisp cool air that feels good on your face but still warms your skin and smells hot.
Pumpkins to decorate the porch.
Wearing your favorite jacket, hat, or scarf for the first time since last year!
Pumkin, cinnamon, and vanilla candles!!!

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I LOVE my new . . . .

HOT PINK GLASSES! Life has never been so good! All of my 11-year old dreams have FINALLY come true!

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In the past 10 years my mom has tried a lot of new things that would have previously been outside of her comfort zone. It is cool to watch her push herself. This summer, she went on a mission trip to an orphanage in Russia.

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Attendance Record

Thanks to those of you who answered my "roll call" this weekend. It is fun to know who is out there and reading! Enjoy reading . . . because I enjoy writing it.


Attitude Check and The Best French Onion Soup Recipie Ever

Around 12:30 this afternoon, I decided to make a menu for the week, complete with grocery list. The idea was to then go to the grocery store and get my supplies for the week so that I will be prepared and perhaps even a bit more relaxed this week. Just think, when I leave the hospital at 4pm, I can be home by 4:15pm instead of stumbling around the grocery store trying to think of something to make for dinner. Lovely.

And yet, it is 3pm and I have just completed my list. It is like I can't let myself do something useful to give myself a hand up for the rest of the week. I could have been to store and back by now. I could have already done the one other task I set out to do today and be reading or doing something creative. But here I am. Still on the couch. And now I will rush around to get all my goals completed before we go to church in 2 1/2 hours.

I can still go to the store. And I can still be prepared for the week. I mean, I have a great menu planned . . . french onion soup and flank steak, fish tacos, and this yummy concoction of chicken, artichokes, mushrooms, kalamata olives covered in a yummy red pepper cream sauce - and the best part is, it is a Cooking Light recipe, so I can feel good about pouring the half and half into the food processor because the elves at CL have found ways to let me use yummy ingredients while watching out for our health at the same time! Bless 'em!

When I was single, I think I probably fantasized about Sundays like today. I would have loved to have a second person to plan meals and cook for. Going to the grocery store while he was snug on the couch with the football game as the backdrop of his dreams would have sounded like heaven to me.

But here I am. It is reality now. And while I enjoy planning meals and going to the grocery store, I don't feel all that different than I did back in my basement apartment, sitting on my hand-me-down fouton - wishing I had a partner to share life with. I still feel discontent sometimes. I still wish I was different - you know, less sensitive and more disciplined. I still get "stuck" sometimes . . . unable to do things I want to do in exchange for widdling away my time and then rushing around later.

I have been studying certain women around me lately. Some live nearby, others are friends far away . . . some are strangers whose blogs I "monitor" on a regular basis. What I am learning is that circumstances inform our experience of life much less than I would like to give them credit for. I have always thought that if circumstances are the barometer, then when I don't feel the way I want to, I can just daydream about different circumstances that might someday bring me the experience and emotions I want.

But I know better than that! I am a therapist, for goodness sakes. I knew in the back of my mind that marriage would not solve all of life's problems . . . my mom told over and over again that a man was not the answer to any pain I might have in my heart. And I replied with an indignant, "I KNOW that mom! But I still want to be married!" But she was right. I hate it when she is right. But she is right . . . a lot . . . especially when it comes to me.

I have the man now - a great man! - but my heart still feels empty sometimes . . . okay, more often than I would like to admit. So I won't.

The point is: the women I have been studying have a variety of circumstances: some are single, others have had tradgedy, some have sick children or struggle with their own health, some have awesome marriages, others struggle financially. But they all have something in common: a strong faith in Christ and a daily choice to look for the positive and enjoy what they have.

So, I will stop my pity party and my daydreaming about being a different person and go put MY shoes on. Because really, despite a few scuffs and the fact that I trip and twist my ankle when I wear them sometimes, they are good shoes. Then, I will kiss my sleeping husband on the forehead. I will go to the store. And I will be thankful.

And now, the soup!

Frech Onion Soup

1/4 cup unsalted butter
6 large onions (about 5 pounds), thinly sliced (**** I find my food processor cuts the prep time for this recipie in half!!!)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup brandy
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
6 cups beef broth, homemade or canned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 (1/2-inch thick) slices French bread, toasted
3/4 pound coarsely grated Gruyere

Heat the butter in a soup pot over moderate heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until caramelized, about 40 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and add the brandy. Return the pot to the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost dry. Sprinkle the onions with the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. While stirring, slowly add the broth. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, with the cover slightly ajar, about 20 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper.

Arrange a rack about 4 inches from the broiler and preheat.

Arrange 6 ovenproof crocks or deep soup bowls on a baking sheet and ladle the hot soup into them. Arrange 2 slices of toasted bread on top of each soup and sprinkle with the cheese.

Broil the soups until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve immediately.

(***This soup can be made the day before - it tastes even better after it has been around for a while!)

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Roll Call

Last week I met up with an old friend who has been reading my blog for months. Now, in reality, I knew she was reading it but only because a mutual friend told me. She, on the other hand, thought she had just been anonymously stalking my blog. I know I have stalked other people's blogs and never commented either.

It got me thinking, "Who else reads this thing?" SO, come out come out wherever you are . . . who reads this little old thing, anyway? Let me know who you are - even if you comment all the time . . . Look, I will even give you a fun question to answer AND I will change my settings so that you can post a comment without creating a username and password . . . but if you do sign on anonymously, at least sign your name, would ya? It will be fun.

What was your favorite game to play at recess as a kid?

Still The One

Two weeks ago, Latonya and Kevin Still graced the Harjes Haus with their presence.
I liked it a lot!

Kevin drank a little bit of beer.

Latonya and I got lots and lots of girly pampering throughout the weekend.

And Herb got to wear an apron.

So overall, I think the weekend was a sucess!

In all seriousness, I LOVE Kevin and Latonya Still. This is not that unusual of a response to have about the Still Family Band. They are not hard to love. But it really must be said - they are refreshing, joyful, loving, kind, authentic as they come people. I need them.

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My Inner Afro-Cuban

There is a small Afro-Cuban woman that lives inside my belly. She often gets trapped by my two left feet. But she is in there. And last night, Mr. Chuchito Valdes called her out and led her around the dance floor of the Boulder theatre like the Pide Piper. If you don't know this man's music, go to i-tunes now and become acquainted. Run along now.

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Everything South of Park Meadows Mall is Beautiful!

The First Harjes Haus Road Trip with the Beloved Valty

Day 1:
Departure City - Denver, CO
Arrival City - Taos, NM
Route - I-25 South to Hwy 64 West

Highlights -
* Just the right ratio of clouds to sunshine
* Top down 4 out of 5 hours
* Got to experience Herb's first ever trip to Sonic . . . but they just don't make the Limeaid like they did in Kirksville, MO!

* Ate lunch in the sex change capitol of the country (Trinidad, CO)
* Relaxed in a hammock next to a babbling brook
* Stayed at Adobe and Pines Inn . . . very lovely and full of charm!

* Shared a bottle of lovely wine with my hubbers (he says I can only call him hubbers if I don't finish it off with a "hubberson". I used to call him hubber-hubberson. didn't go over that well. But hubbers seems to fly okay)

Day 2:
Beautiful man waiting for me while I hack around with the camera.

Departure City - Taos, NM
Stops - Chimayo, NM
Arrival City - Jemez Springs, NM
Route - Hwy 64 South to Hwy 68 South to Hwy 75 (at which point we realized that we missed the highly acclaimed scenic route on Hwy 518 & 76) and took Hwy 75 east to Hwy 76 South to Hwy 30 South to Hwy 502 West to Hwy 501 South (after about two miles we realized that we should have taken the advice Herb got from a local who in fact DID know what she was talking about and take the "longer" way). Turned around and got onto Hwy 4 West all the way to Jemez Springs!

Highlights -
* A quick drive to see the Rio Grande Gorge. We are convinced that the gorge is filled with the skulls of dead cowboys, explorers, pioneers, and all of their horses. Seriously, you are trotting through this huge valley and then all of a sudden BAM!!! there's a huge crack in the earth! We didn't even realize we where near the gorge until we had already driven about a 16th of a mile over it.

* Saw a beautiful valley housed in a crater that is outside of Jemez - the result of a volcanic explosion a few million years ago.

* Ate lunch at the Rancho de Chimayo restaurant. And while the food does not live up to it's reputation, it was fun to go back to a place my family visited years ago, during happy times.
* Celebrated Courtney and Dave at their rehearsal dinner
* Stayed at the Canyon Del Rio Inn - what a wonderful place to relax!

* Took a dip in the hot tub with my hubbers. It was HOT! 107 degrees!

Day 3
No travel

* Courtney got herself married! What a blessing to see this beautiful woman be found and loved by a man who sees her heart and her soul and loves every bit of her!

* Enjoyed talking with some good people
* Had a delicious whole wheat carrot muffin with breakfast.
* Please enjoy this new picture of me looking like my celebrity look-alike.

Day 4
Departure City - Jemez Springs, NM
Arrival City - Durango, CO
Route - Hwy 4 West to 550 West

Highlights -
* Ate breakfast at the Inn with a lovely pair of probably-lesbians (almost 89% sure they were a couple)
* Sat and read by the river in Adirondack chairs
* Beautiful drive through northern New Mexico
* Breathtaking scenery and clouds so thick they looked like they had been painted and hung in the sky for a high school production of Oklahoma!

* A crispy flash fried slice of avocado with salsa
* Arrived at Apple Orchard Inn. I loved it (the highlight). Herb hated it (not the highlight part)

Day 5
No travel

Highlights -
* Herb suggested we play miniature golf. If you know herb, you know this is funny (and oddly out of character)
* Making up after a long, stupid day of miscommunicating and crying (mostly me crying)
* Eating pizza in bed in our underwear
* triple chocolate chip cookies made by our innkeeper, Celeste
* The following conversation:
Cara: "If you had any supernatural power what would it be?"
Herb: "I would be able to communicate with wild animals!"
Cara: "What? If you had ANY super power in the world you would choose to be Dr. Doolittle? That's not a super power!"
Herb: "I would summon the grizzly bears and they would help me fight crime."

Day 6
Departure City - Durango, CO
Arrival City - Denver, CO
Route - (after revising herb's proposed tour around the entire perimeter of the state, we settled on this) Hwy 550 West to Hwy 92 East to Hwy 133 North to Hwy 82 West to I-70 East to 6th Ave . . . etc. ending at Corona St.

Highlights -
*The most splendid tour of Aspen trees EVER! A big thing out here is to "Go see the Aspens" in the fall; something neither of us in a combined 13 years of Colorado citizenship have ever experienced. It was phenomenal. They are beautiful in the fall!
* Driving the Million Dollar highway with it's sharp turns and NO guard rail! This was Herb's favorite day of driving, by far!

* Driving into Ouray, CO after a long decent off of Engineer Mountain. The views are the most breathtaking I have ever seen in Colorado!
* Herb teaching me how to drive like a racecar driver. I was actually accelerating (opposed to screaming with my eyes shut) as I sped around downhill mountain curves!
* Crawling into our own bed!

Total miles traveled: 1,222.7
Days of driving: 4
Days with the top down: 3
Total number of fights: 1 (HUGE thanks to those of your bathing this trip in prayer! We really enjoyed each other!)
Total number of dips in the hot tub: 2 . . . 3 if you count our whirlpool tub in Durango.

Overall, a wonderful time with my husband in the glorious western states! We enjoyed each other immensely!

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