Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Isn't life funny?

Hello all! How is life? Crazy as ever I'm sure. :-)

Well, to catch you up, Casey is traveling again- going to Kansas this time. Not so far away but it is a really busy case and it keeps him hopping. I am seeing the last my Secretary days- I turned in my two weeks and my last day is May 5th. Then Casey and I are heading out to Utah for the St. George triathlon! At this point I still don't have a bike for my triathlon but Casey and I are still looking and keeping our fingers crossed. I went to a bike shop to get measured the other day and they were really helpful in teaching me what to look for in a bike for myself. Today I did the biking and running portion in 1 1/2 hours and I felt really good afterward so I think I will be able to add the swimming with no problem.

I did decide to do Pampered Chef- I have my first show tomorrow (Thursday) and I'm really excited for it. I hope it turns out well. I am expecting about 10 people which I think will be a good amount. I got my New Consultant kit full of products a couple of weeks ago and I had a blast- I spent at least two hours playing with everything and reading all of the recipes and care instructions that are included with them. I'm really excited to be able to show them to other people.

Last Saturday Casey and I made the most AMAZING cinnamon rolls. It was a recipe for the bread maker though so when I figure out how to translate it to be made without one- I will post here. :-)

So, I really wanted to buy a big professional camera to take all our pictures and to shoot some of the wildlife around here- but I'm now giving up that hope in exchange for a new laptop! Then Casey and I will both have one and mine will double as our home desktop which I am super excited for since our desktop has been acting up lately.

Well, that is about all that is new here- just surviving and taking life one day at a time. I hope you all had a Happy Easter!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy Coming to Earth Day!


Yay! A new baby is born!

On Thursday, February 19 the doctor discovered that Mike and Gracie's baby, Ryan was breached. It looked to me like Ryan was stubbornly refusing to leave the warm safety of his mommy's tummy by flashing his bum at the world and refusing to turn around and be born the proper and easy way (looks like he has some of his Daddy in him!). So a C-section was set for the following Wednesday, February 25. Apparently, Ryan was not so keen on this plan and decided he wanted to be born- breeched or no. When he decided he was ready to enter the world he gave everyone a little surprise. At 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 21st Gracie's water broke. At 7:30 p.m. she went into labor.

On Sunday February 22, 2009 a beautiful baby boy, Ryan Lee Montrose, was born at 01:01am, weighed 7lb. 11oz (which is ironically Michael's birthdate: 7/11) and is 20.5 inches long.
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY RYAN LEE!

Saturday Adventures! Mar. 7, 2009

This weekend Casey and I had a little adventure together- we discovered a new park by our house with really big sidewalks for people to run, ride bikes, rollerblade etc. and it follows a river for some of it. It also connects to a mountain biking trailhead that Casey thought I would like. I was a little nervous because I tweaked my knee this week and its been giving me some trouble on the bike but it turned out fine for the ride.

So Saturday we had it all planned out- we got up early, made yummy waffles and we were just sitting down to breakfast when I got a reminder text about a big stake enrichment activity from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. that day. I couldn't believe I had forgotten! The Relief Society has been reminding us for about 3 weeks! But I weighed my options and was thinking about things that had been going on in our lives and I decided to stick with our original plan and I'm so glad I did. We got all packed up and rode our mountain bikes 8 or 9 miles to the trailhead and then did the 7.5 mile trail. Casey was really awesome- very encouraging and helpful, he was super supportive and gave me tips and demonstrations so I could learn how to handle trail riding better. We had an absolute blast together and I think it was just what we needed.

We were planning on getting Greek for lunch at this place, Ali Baba's. Casey went there for lunch one day with his team and really liked it so we've been trying to go; it turns out that the only day they don't serve lunch is on Saturdays!!!! So we settled for some leftovers in the fridge and Casey ran errands with me which ALWAYS makes them go by faster and they are always more fun. Casey also got a cute haircut but I didn't get a picture of it so I'll have to take one when he gets home. We ended up going to Five Guys Burgers with some friends for dinner. It wasn't the greatest hamburger place- but really not too bad- the fries were disappointing though. For dessert we walked to a little gelato place in the same shopping area- a first for Casey and I. It was good- I'm not quite sure what makes it different from ice cream. As far as I can tell it is milk based and doesn't contain gelatin although the name might make you think otherwise. I guess the main difference is that it has less butterfat than ice cream which makes it melt faster. I think I liked it more than Casey did, although I do agree that the amount of cookie dough chunks in our chocolate chip cookie dough was highly disappointing. :-)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Australia Top 50

Hey guys-

Thank you for all your support and for watching my videos.  The top 50 were short-listed yesterday and I didn't make the list.  The total number of applicants was over 34,400 so its understandable.  :-) 

I just want to say thanks again for all your support and love- love you guys

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cookin' Tips

Ok. I've been doing a lot of reading of recipes and have noticed that there are a lot of misconceptions about basic cooking that need to be rectified. Here is my list:

1. When cooking pasta- you do not need to add oil or salt to the water. Salt will give it a little flavor- but usually you are just going to cover the noodles with a yummy sauce anyway. If you don't want your noodles to stick- putting oil in the water is not the way to do it. All that does is make it harder for the sauce to stick to the noodles and sauce will make them less sticky anyway. If you are using pasta not covered in sauce or you are saving leftover noodles and don't want them to be a hard clump in the fridge- add a little bit of oil after the noodles have been drained and are back in the pot- then stir it around with a big spoon to coat them. They will not stick together but its also possible that nothing else will stick to them either.

2. When cooking- you do not need to use expensive extra fine virgin oil, regular cheap olive oil will do just fine. Everyone wants to eat healthier and olive oil is one of the healthiest oils we can have in our diet, so it is understandable why everyone wants to buy the very expensive extra virgin olive oil and it can be worth your money- if used wisely.

Olive oil is rich in polyphenols, antioxidants and lots of other big words that most of us don't know. These big words have health benefits like lowering cholesterol, protecting cells against heart disease and cancer and can help slow aging. Whether olive oil is extra virgin, virgin or 100% olive oil depends on how many pressings the olives have gone through. Extra Virgin oil is made from the first pressing of olive oil and contains a higher portion of plant extracts- that is why it is healthier and, of course, more expensive. It is best to save this kind of oil for use in foods that will not be exposed to high heat. The compounds that make this oil so healthy will break down when exposed to high temperatures and what you are left with is pretty much the same as the cheap, basic 100% olive oil- so why not use that kind to begin with? Save the expensive stuff for salad dressings and Italian dinner night (imitate Macaroni Grill and pour some Extra Virgin in a dish, grind up some fresh cracked pepper and use it as a dip for warm chewy bread. Then you can savor the flavor of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and you get all of the nutrients that you pay for.)

If you don't want the strong taste of olive oil in a dish that you are making- try canola oil. It has better fats than vegetable oil (mostly monounsaturated which are healthy fats- the body can easily break them down for nutrients) and has a very neutral flavor. It is great for things like browines or other sweets where the olive oil taste might be undesirable or make it taste a little off. I use a canola and vegetable oil blend so that I still get the richness of vegetable oil- but its not so bad for you.

Well that's my diatribe! :-) I hope it was educational and helpful to you. If you guys like what you read then I can keep posting tips like these as I continue learning through my classes. And if you have any cooking questions I would love to learn more and answer your questions.

All my love and Good Eating!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Spiritual Thoughts

I had a really great day at church last Sunday. I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you all.

My good friend Katie Walker gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting on the Saviour's ministry and one of the stories that she told was of Mary and Martha. You know the story- Martha is encumbered about with serving the Lord while Mary sits and listens at Jesus' feet. Martha get frustrated and asks the Lord, "Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me." and the Lord tells her, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10: 40-42). She then shared a story that she remembered from one Relief Society lesson. She was sitting in class and the lesson had taken a turn for the worse- namely male bashing. One sister innocently commented, "It doesn't matter how many times I tell my husband to pick up his socks he never does! And I ask him and ask him and I always end up doing it." and a woman, who had been recently widowed and was sitting in front of Katie, quietly turned to the sister behind her and said, "I wish I could still pick up my husband's socks."

This story was very powerful and Katie used it to make the point that we should always be looking for the better part. Even if you didn't have time to get the house clean for some friends coming over, at least you are sharing a meal and fun with some friends; so what if your husband's weak spot is picking up his socks, or in my case, I've recently developed a tendency to leave open my dresser drawers (pobre Casey when he bumps one!)- at least you have an eternal companion and best friend. Then Katie shared this inspirational poem:

Wait
by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, "Wait."

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

"My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
Or even a 'no' to which I can resign.

"You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply."

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?"

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

"You'd never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

"The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.

"So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait."

© 1980 Russell Kelfer. All rights reserved.

There is a purpose in having trials- it is an opportunity to grow closer to the Lord. He weeps with us through those trials because he loves us and doesn't want us to have pain, but the pain is a necessary part of life- trials do have purpose.

The other thought I had came during the Relief Society Lesson. The teacher asked us how we could combat our own apostasy and the standard church answers were given; read scriptures, pray, go to church and it all of a sudden struck me why we go to church. This may seem obvious to most of you but thinking about it in a metaphor somehow made it more meaningful to me. It's kind of like going to a gym. You get on a work out routine but after doing that routine for awhile your muscles will eventually plateau (they will get used to the exercise routine) and you won't continue to progress. It is at that point that you need to go to a personal trainer who has the experience, the knowledge and the research to help you to further your development and move you onto the next step. Speakers and church leaders are like our personal trainers. I know most first-time teachers or Sacrament Meeting speakers would blush and oppose such a comparison, but they have done the research and put in the time to qualify themselves as our spiritual personal trainers for the time that they teach us. They are the source from which we can get the ideas and help we need to continue our spiritual progression. They give us tips on how to better study the scriptures, insights to talks and scriptures that we never would have thought of and they can strengthen our testimonies by sharing theirs. They are valuable and irreplacable parts in our continued spiritual growth. That is why we are instructed to attend our meetings; to be spiritually trained so that we can be stronger warriors of God.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day

Hello Hello everyone! I hope you had a fabulous Valentine's Day or, as I would say when I was single, Single's Awareness Day! Last night, Casey and I went out to eat at a really great little Italian restaurant called I Fratelli. While we were there I saw 5 young girls all sitting at a booth together, dressed to the 9's and having the time of their lives. That got me thinking about the meaning of Valentine's Day and I think that I have had it all wrong in past years.
Valentine's Day is not just a day for celebrating love between a man and a woman, it is a day to spread love to everyone. I remember when I lived at home and I would wake up for Valentine's Day, come downstairs and there would be a big vase of roses and a can of those Chocolate Pirouette things for me and my mom. My Dad always left us a little Valentine's Day card and I remember feeling so special- even though growing up I never had a significant other to spend the day with. Valentine's Day is about being with people we love in general. It can be spent with all the family, your spouse or with a bunch of girlfriends- it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that we take the opportunity to show someone we care.

Well, that's my thought for the day! lol. After I Fratelli's Casey and I came home and I made up a FABULOUS fruit and cheese platter- I think Dad and Papa Zaugg would have been jealous of our spread- I know how much you guys love cheese! We drank Martinelli's from our wedding glasses and picked from a box of chocolates while laying on a bunch of pillows on a blanket on the living room floor. Frank played quietly in the background and we lit a bunch of candles for light. Then we watched "Chocolat"- an awesome movie! And had a really great time. What did you guys do for V-Day?

Going clockwise we had Grapes, Goat Cheese with Cranberries and Cinnamon (awesome!), sliced pears, brie (great melted), apple slices and a new one for us, Halloumi cheese- you can grill it or put it in the pan and it becomes a cross between the rubberiness of Colby-Jack and the crumbliness of Parmaesan. Casey wasn't a big fan but I thought it was good with the fruit. :-) We also had Ritz and Wheat Thins, which were a good complement.

"Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important--and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know...We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us. Send that note to the friend you've been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug and say "I love you" more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved." ~President Thomas S. Monson

Friday, February 13, 2009

Driving me INSANE

I am essentially a social creature. The problem of what to do with my life has been a source of much irritation to me lately. What am I going to do if I am not chosen for the Australia job? Yes, I have things to look forward to like my triathlon and Casey is wonderful- I couldn't ask for a more wonderful best friend- Relationships are not the object of my concern. It's my career.

Most of you probably know that I am a legal secretary for a private lawyer in my Ward. This job was frustrating to me at the beginning but I thought it was just the learning curve- it wasn't. :-) Sometimes when my boss, Larry, hands me a stack of papers to file I just want to throw the papers up in the air and run out of the building screaming- never to return! Triumph! But somehow that feels like quitting... probably because it is.  Larry is a funny man, the other people that work on my floor are really nice and the work really isn't bad; I'm sure lots of people would like it- it just isn't my cup of tea. I am a social creature and spending all day in a cold office with only one other person popping in to give me work doesn't give me the energy that being around a lot of people does.

Pampered Chef is the other option I am looking into. I'd be my own boss, I'd interact with people, I'd get to cook and and get lots of cool kitchen gadgets that make me excited. I would also have to sell products and, if any of you remember when I worked at Kamp Kreatures, you will know that I am simply not a salesperson. I don't like pushing people into buying things they don't need. However, the Consultant that I talked to said that she feels the same way and she never feels that she has to be a saleswoman. Mostly because there is not boss over her telling her to sell, sell, sell. She picks her own hours and how many parties she does. Also, she loves the products (as do I) so her belief in them sells them to others who can also get great benefit out of them. I do see the use of the products- They help save time which can encourage people to make dinner at home which would be healthier and it would ultimately save them money. So I think I could do it.

I don't think I could earn as much money as I do here, as a secretary (it depends on how many parties I have), but I think I would be much happier. Also, being a secretary is the more stable job in an unstable economy.

Casey thinks I should wait until I am at least finished with my two classes because doing classes, secretary, trying to start a new business and training for a triathlon would be too much. But the longer that I continue the routine I am in- the more frustrated I will probably come. Plus, if Casey gets staffed on another travel case, which it sounds like he soon will, I will have a lot more free time nights.

Maybe I will start a poll and see what you guys think I should do. Either way- I know that God has a plan for me and as long as I am trying to do the right things and be in the right place, he will guide me to where I am supposed to be. I know he just wants me to be happy- the hard part is figuring out the path that will lead there. :-)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Australia

So, there have been a lot of questions about this Australia job that I am applying for- hopefully this will clear up some of the confusion. It is in Queensland, Australia, more specifically Hamilton Island. The job includes delivering mail by air, feeding the fish, keeping the pool clean, eating at restaurants, trying out spas and reporting back to the world about your experiences via video blog.

Here is the dates: March 2nd they pick 50 applicants for the "short-list." People vote on the person that they think would be best for the job. Queensland Tourism picks 10 people, plus the person who got the most votes, the "wild card candidate," and flies them out May 3rd for additional interviews, psychological and physical testing etc. May 6th they announce who they have chosen to the be island caretaker of Hamilton Island!

Now, there are over 14,000 applicants right now and there are still 9 more days for people to submit applications. But Casey and I have put together a really good video and I'm really hopeful. I would LOVE to go. If I was chosen Casey would try to transfer to the BCG office in Australia.

We made two videos, the first one we submitted but I really wasn't pleased with it. Casey and I talked about it and decided that it wasn't up to "Casey-Courtney standard" so we made a new one that is much better. We are in the process of submitting it to the the site now. I've posted both of them for you guys to see. video video

The First One

Here is my first attempt at blogging! I got to thinking about how far away we are away from all of our family and how hard it is to keep touch with everyone. We have so many pictures and things are happening really quickly for us- how to keep everyone up to date with everyone's busy schedule?? Then some of my friends introduced me to blogging. I can post pictures, videos and everyone can visit our site at any time they want. You can comment on pictures and if everyone really likes it we can create another website where everyone can write their own blogs about the stuff going on in their lives! Great idea huh?

Let me know what you guys think- meanwhile, I hope you have fun exploring our website and seeing what we are up to.

Love you all so much!
~Courtney and Casey