Saturday, December 30, 2006

Big City Travels

Catching up...Our trip to New York was magical... We have to thank my uncle Erik and his friends, Howard and Gilette for their generosity. Howard helped us out with all the restaraunt recommendations and we were also introduced to a wonderful woman, Gilette,with whom we stayed in her wonderful guest quarters. We went on our first night in the city to a wonderful Italian meal at a neighborhood restaraunt on the Upper East Side. Overall, we enjoyed some of the best New York has to offer-- great food, good conversation and a warm crowd of people.
On the new day we walked the city seeing all the holiday sights including those in the windows at famous stores. My husband is wonderful to travel with as he has no unrealistic goals for seeing all the sights, but rather wants to enjoy the moment and the scene around him. We enjoyed lunch at Dean & Deluca, relishing their hot soups and sandwiches to sustain us through our special day. We decided in the fall that this would be an early celebration of our first anniversary--and what could be better than ice skating in Rockafeller Center and then going to dinner off of Madison Avenue?
We skated around as dusk was falling and then untied them to hurry uptown to change for dinner. We had reservations at my uncle's recommendation at a little elegant place called Alto. We enjoyed a wonderful four course meal of inventive dishes (there's another story there..but it will have to wait) including an appetizer, pasta, meat and fish, and finished off with dessert. It was definitely a meal to remember and the nicest place I've ever dined at. But I must confess it was the company that won my full attention.... We ended the evening with a trip to Times Square to finish our Midtown Tour. We know it is one of many trips we will take to New York City-- we already have a list of the things we would love to enjoy together like museums, Ruebens, more chocolates, and of course, shows. We'll try again next year!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

We just wanted to wish our dear friends and family Merry Christmas and God's blessings on your celebrations! As we enjoy our other family here in Maryland, we have realized God's goodness to give us TWO wonderful families. We are enjoying ourselves in the midst of all the flurry of activities and seeing many old friends. Travis and I also enjoyed our pre-anniversary trip in New York City....more details to come! Much love, Travis & Nora Shank

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Last Morning

Last morning at the Ranch before we head East. The laundry is running, the cappacino has reached the bottom of the cup and the rooster is crowing. The sun is rising here into a cloudy sky and the cool weather of fall has finally reached us, changing all the deciduous trees into bright yellow and oranges around us.

We will miss all of these things while we are gone. But the anticipation of Christmas cheer with our other family, the Jansens brings joy to our hearts. As I lay in bed this morning anticipating our return there, I thought of the little things I love about my family: my dad's chuckle when he laughs, my mom's tiny hug, my sister's ferocious activity, Brett's happy-go-lucky piano jingles, and Peter's famous slouch and zippy sarcasm. There are many other things Travis and I look forward to, like conversations without phones or interruptions and memories to be revisited from our times together out East. We also look forward to all the new memories we want to make.

As I sit here facing the slowly dying grassy backyard and listen to my ornery rooster going at it again, I rejoice in my heart that He has blessed me with so much. Travis and I are the recipients of so much in this one year-- jobs, new job for Travis, generous family and friends, new friends whom we've built our lives with, a spacious house furnished to comfort, many chickens, many stories and much laughter. One of our greatest joys has been that we are more in love with eachother than we were one year ago. As we depart we realize that we head to a place where we were married. It stirs up the expected nostalgia, but it also makes us realize how much we've changed and grown in our first year of marriage. We are so grateful for all God has given us. It is certainly true that God has crowned the year with overflowing bounty.

And to top it all off... my two hens-- old faithful Tina and her daughter-- are laying again. We're counting these eggs in our very full basket.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Walking Wonders

Lately Travis and I have been going on power walks either at night or in the morning. He doesn't like to run as much and yet we like to workout together. So, a compromise is reached in the speed of our accomplishment over the same distance I would run. We have had some interesting occurences as of late...
The other morning we were rounding the loop on the other side of Sossaman and started come down on the east side of the road. All of the sudden, I looked over and I saw a horned steer on the west side.

Now, tons of our neighbors have steer in their backyards. This is not an unusual sight. But this time, I couldn't tell if this cow, who was facing right at me like the ones below in the photo, was behind the fence or in front of the fence. So I asked my husband Travis: "Which side of the fence is that cow on?" He answered me:"This side". So we chased the steer off the side of the road over to its owner's house, and went and knocked on their door to let them know their cattle were running about during rush hour traffic. They weren't home. Just as we were about to leave, because we couldn't find any open gates, someone pulled over in a white truck.

She was a neighbor girl and apparently did what everone does: CALL DOUG.
He's like the neighborhood grandpa around here for Rancho Jardines. He crossed the street (he lives right across from the owners) and knew how to open their gates and chased the cattle around.

Good thing we cityfolk didn't have to herd the cattle. You should have seen Travis' face when I was going around the steer to find the fence hole. They are big animals for sure. But not something a good ol' Dutch farmer girl would be scare of, right? The only question that puzzles me is why I don't like little pets but find my heart tender towards large stinky steer and cattle???? Maybe they can tell you.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Good Day

For those of you who were wondering-- Travis scored almost exactly what he wanted to on the GMAT (the graduate admissions test). He passed!! Yeah! 6 weeks of studying is done!
Travis got two paychecks from his new job. I got paid.
And we got a suprise $200 refund in the mail from the State of Arizona.
Makes our celebration dinner all the more amazing.

Monday, December 04, 2006


The other word for it is: SCORCHED. No. I didn't get burned by sun tanning here in Arizona. Our weather has been colder than the East Coast. But I did a little "experience", shall we say, I had yesterday.
Some people think I don't have kitchen distasters. Well, yesterday wasn't my best day. After a late lunch, I put some beans I had been soaking to cook on the stove. I went and sat down at the TV to watch a little for a rest and promptly forgot them. Travis asked me about an hour later: "Honey, are these supposed to be boiling?" And I assumed he meant "simmering" but told him to crack the lid off so they didn't spill over.
But then about another hour later, I started to smell something. At first I thought it was, well, let's just say, an "odor". Was it the trash? Was it Travis? Was it me??? I couldn't figure out what the unique odor was.
And then Travis said: "Were you "refrying" these beans here on the stove?" OOPS. Guess it wasn't me that was the beans that had absorbed all the water and were cooking, or shall we say, burning on the stove. The pan is still soaking on the stove.
Then later after we went on a walk, I put some cookies in the oven. Forgot those too. Good thing they were on my baking stone. They didn't burn (usually I always burn one batch of baking items). They were just Travis' favorite: CRUNCHY.
As you can tell, there is no room for culinary superiority here. I burn things with the best of them.
(thanks to for the picture representing culinary excellence in Arizona from another random blogger...)

After those fiascos, I'm off to repair myself at the spa all day. No joke; we're going to the Willow Stream Spa all day. More details later.

Friday, December 01, 2006


This post is to commemorate many who have gone Europe. Jordan leaves today on his 17 day extraveganza through many countries and cities with his best friend Jordan. No, you read that right. The "Jordans" will be backpacking through Europe together-- riding the trains, navigating the countryside and sleeping in hostels. We can't wait to hear how the "Ratio" went... and he knows what we sisters were talking about. Or, he'll soon learn. We wish him luck and clean laundry. And we promise to keep the J's posted on the important news through our blog. This picture is from Thanksgiving where he "suprised" me by using the disposable camera I've had since Christina's wedding and was trying to finish.