Airstream Travels: Texas, New Mexico, Utah

We were so sad to leave Arkansas and our family there. We had a great time visiting with them while staying in our happy little condo on wheels and sleeping in our super comfy bed but still spending meals and morning coffee and dog walking with them. It was a great visit and over way too soon.

Our Aunt took a picture of us and Twinkie before we headed out and so far it’s the only picture of us AND the Airstream we have.

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Driving from Arkansas, we headed west again on part of the old Route 66 highway. And it was a really beautiful drive. When it got dark, we found a little old RV Park along the highway probably dating from when Route 66 was the only highway in existence. We stopped and parked in a pull through spot near Shamrock, Texas for the night. It was a big grassy, overgrown field and a well worn down park, but when we were woken by the sunrise — it was simply lovely.

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After this stop, we took the shortest road and drove up through New Mexico to Nevada — to our park for the week of the conference. On the way there, we stopped for lunch at a Luv’s gas station with a restaurant in it. In the parking lot, we spotted two other Airstreams on the back of a truck being towed somewhere. Wes was fascinated and stopped to talk to the guys for a minute. Pretty cool

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In New Mexico, we spotted some lovely flowers in a field running by the highway, and I tried to take a picture while moving at high speeds. It ended up looking pretty neat.

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Finally, we crossed the state lines into Nevada. Mountains! We were near Henderson when I took this photo.

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Finally, we were nearly at our destination!

WordPress Anniversary!

Happy 8 years of blogging! So, ya’ll. I’ve actually been blogging on WordPress for 8 years! WOW. I didn’t realize that. I’ve been blogging in general for about 12 years. A girl’s gotta write, I guess. I started over at LiveJournal. Do you guys remember that site? It was blogging before blogging a) got popular and b) became a profession. I started up a blog on Livejournal my Freshman year in college and that’s actually how I met my husband (when I was a Freshman, yep, but we were just friends back then)!

So I actually graduated from my second degree program in 2008, which is when I started my first WordPress blog over at lillight.wordpress.com.

Here are some major milestones I shared on my blog. First is one of my first weddings post-graduation, Kim from swim team’s wedding. (Where I hung out mostly with the other swimmers and my good friend Lynsey.

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In July, of 2008 I was a paralegal intern with Colorado Legal Services (an internship I LOVED! I would’ve stayed forever if they could’ve paid me a little bit…) I made my first ever presentation on disability rights and services to the attorneys at CLS for their annual conference in Glenwood Springs. I loved it and I had so much fun! I also really enjoyed being able to teach. My favorite thing ever– teaching and disability rights.

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In September of 2008, me and my college roommate Christi drove across the Rockies for the wedding of our other roommate, Casie, in Cortez, Colorado. It was about nine hours of driving and I came home with a horrible unidentified illness (they never identified it, just called it FUO Fever of Unidentified Origin). ANYWAY– the wedding was awesome and I am so glad I got to go even if I barely got to enjoy it!

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I got my first real job. A paying position as a government contractor, but a job nonetheless in a very difficult recession.

A few months later, in June, I was a bridesmaid in a friend from high school’s wedding. I had bangs and flipped hair. I forgot how annoying those bangs were! And her colors were lavender and yellow.

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Shortly after the summer, my hand-me-down-through-the-whole-family Oldsmobile started breaking weekly. We fixed four or five separate things and finally threw in the towel. (Also, I finally had enough savings from my new job to put a payment on my very first, very own Honda Civic).

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Shortly after that, I took my first solo vacation — traveling to NYC to visit college roommate, Christi, this time in her new home of the Big Apple (actually Brooklyn, but she worked in Lower Manhattan).

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In April of 2010, I was awarded the Quotation Award by the Fort Collins chapter of Quota International. This is an award for service by a non-chapter member to the club as a volunteer. I spent a lot of time photographing for them and volunteering whenever they had something going on.

In May of 2010, I met Wes for the first time — we’d been talking since 2002! We had our first date and then we dated long distance for three months. He moved to Colorado in August.

In September, he invited me to fly out to Seattle to meet his good friends and see the city while he attended the Penny Arcade Convention.

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In October, I competed in my first triathlon after hiring a coach. The Fort Collins Club Sprint Triathlon was SO much easier this go round even though I froze and my bike was a heavy clunker.

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In November, I went to Thanksgiving in Texas with him to meet the family. I met his mom’s side of the family at Thanksgiving dinner in Corsicana Texas, and he met my freshman college roommate and her husband at the Galleria in Houston.

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By the spring we knew this was it. (Well, apparently, as I found out much later — both him AND my mom knew he was going to marry me when they met in August of that year. It took me about a year to figure it out).

We got engaged in April of 2011, (April 1st, actually, I kid you not). And we were married on September 25th, 2011.

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My Becoming Brown blog chronicles our married life in Atlanta, GA. We loved our dog JJ. We added Nones to our family. JJ died last July, we added a new family member in Holes. Our cat is getting old and cranky. She stays in one room in the house and her arthritis is making it hard for her to jump and climb.

We took dance lessons our first year of marriage. And then life dissolved into the work my husband did for a living. He worked all the time. He loved his work and eventually it allowed him to accept a new job at a company in Baltimore, MD.

We traveled to Southeast Asia twice, Las Vegas once, Arkansas three times, NYC enough times we have lost track. We went through hard times — and we went through good times. We bought a truck, an Airstream, and now we are working on buying a house. We went to Dragon*Con all three years we lived in Atlanta.

We found a church. We joined a Sunday School class and Wes began teaching on Sundays– finding the calling he knows he will retire to. We grew really close to Wes’s Aunt and Uncle. Wes went with me to visit my family twice in Colorado and my family came out to Atlanta twice as well.

We have grown closer, fonder, happier, healthier, wiser, and smarter in our three years of marriage and I cannot wait to keep growing and keep sharing our love and our travels with all of you!

Airstream Travels: What I Read

Over the last two months, we’ve spent a lot of time on the road. And when we weren’t on the road, I was left to my own devices while my husband networked at an industry conference. Because I didn’t have the greatest internet connectivity or my barre studios or even access to a gym a lot of the time, I spent a TON of time reading. I read a book a day when we were enroute and sometimes a book a week– depending on where we were and who with.

Books I Read

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles) – Marissa Meyer

I really enjoy books that are a twist on the princess stories. Cinder — obviously a space opera twist on the classic Cinderella story. Cinder is a cyborg and property of her stepmother, reviled by her step sisters. When her life becomes entangled with the Prince Kai, she finds herself in the middle of an intergalactic struggle. Loved this book so much that I read the whole series!

Scarlett (Book #2 The Lunar Chronicles) – Marissa Meyer

In the second book of this series, Cinder returns only now she’s in prison as the story begins, she makes her escape and then spends the book as the galaxy’s most wanted fugitive. Another major character joins the story, named Scarlett — and her grandmother has just gone missing (think a melding of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood stories). Awesome fun. A great escapist read.

Cress (Book #3 The Lunar Chronicles) – Marissa Meyer

In the third book of this series, Cinder is still a fugitive on the run. Now she has a whole team on her side with Captain Thorne, Scarlett and Wolfe. Their best hope to overthrow the queen of Luna and her army lies in a girl trapped in a satellite, named Cress. Really fun book as well and it wrapped up very nicely. I HATE cliffhangers, which is part of why I read the whole series in a few days.

Columbine – Dave Cullen

This is the first complete coverage of the 1999 Columbine high school shooting that’s been published, with information on the journals and videotapes seized by the police, on the survivors and their families, on the political changes in the town, on the school before and after. It debunks the jock revenge and heavy metal theories that the media generated in the information vacuum after the shootings and gives the information that proves there was no conspiracy. Also — really hard to read as I grew up in Colorado and was in school when the shootings happened.

Blue Diablo (Corrine Solomon Book #1) – Ann Aguierre

I think this book is a love it or hate it kind of book. After reading other reviews I can get why others didn’t get into it. I personally am a huge fantasy fan and Urban Fantasy with magic overtones is exactly the kind of stuff I enjoy. I love how Aguirre writes characters that are really believable — with real personalities and the ability to miss what is right in front of them. I was annoyed by the romantic interest character, Chance, but he gets a lot more likable in the rest of the series. Corine Solomon is a handler. When she touches an object she instantly knows its history and its future. Using her ability, she can find the missing, which is why people never stop trying to find her. Like her ex-boyfriend Chance, who needs Corine’s gift to find someone dear to them both. But the search proves dangerous… demons, sorcerers, witches, witchcraft, and zombies abound! I also read all five books in the series but I cannot possibly review them all! (I can’t actually remember them as distinct books, it was just one long story that I wanted to find the resolution to!)

  • Hell Fire (Corrine Solomon Book #2) – Ann Aguierre
  • Shady Lady (Corrine Solomon Book #3) – Ann Aguierre
  • Devil’s Punch (Corrine Solomon Book #4) – Ann Aguierre
  • Agave Kiss (Corrine Solomon Book #5) – Ann Aguierre

The Jewel – Amy Ewing

ARRRGH! I hate cliffhangers. This is a dystopian book along the lines of The Selection (which I haven’t had the pleasure of reading, but the synopsis sounds right) and The Handmaid’s Tale. And also a little bit of The Hunger Games in the world building. I really enjoy Ewing’s writing — the style sucked me right in. The premise is Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring. Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life. Personally — I really appreciated the plot twists in this book. Was horrified at what happens to Violet’s best friend further on in the story. And was SO ANGRY at the cliffhanger. rawr. And I have to wait a full year to find out what happens next! (Yes, I endorse read this. Especially if you like YA fiction).

Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthood – Edward Hallowell 

My husband has ADD and this book was vital in helping me figure out that a lot of things that were driving me crazy in our life were not me being crazy, exactly, but things that we had to work on as far as his ADD is concerned. It’s SO therapeutic to read accounts of how ADD(/ADHD) has affected others’ lives–those who have it and those around them–and it’s quite refreshing to discover the positive aspects of ADD, as well as what things help an ADD child/adult to thrive. I highly recommend it to anyone with ADD or anyone who interacts frequently with someone who has ADD. However, be sure to follow it up by reading the next book written by Edward Hallowell: Delivered from Distraction, which offers a hopeful view of how to thrive with ADD. And, after that, read The ADHD Effects on Marriage–essential to keeping your closest relationship not only intact but flourishing.

Saturn’s Children – Charles Stross

Sometime in the twenty-third century, humanity went extinct – leaving only androids behind. Freya Nakamichi 47 is a femmebot, one of the last of her kind still functioning. With no humans left to pay for the pleasures she provides, she agrees to transport a mysterious package from Mercury to Mars. Super interesting read. I really enjoyed the fembot (or AI) perspective — they all had the ability to assimilate the personalities/pasts of their other family types. So whenever a ‘sister’ was decommissioned or died or something, another bot would receive her persona chip and spend time assimilating it. I got lost in the world and the mission of Freya.

Neptune’s Brood (Book #2 Freyaverse) – Charles Stross

Krina Alizond is a metahuman in a universe where the last natural humans became extinct five thousand years ago. When her sister goes missing she embarks on a daring voyage across the star systems to find her, travelling to her last known location – the mysterious water-world of Shin-Tethys. I haven’t entirely finished this book, it got a little slow in the middle, but currently Krina is being chased by an assassin who has taken on her specs (i.e.: looks and acts exactly like Krina); and she’s in the middle of a pirate takeover of the ship she was working aboard– and the pirates are trying to locate the sister Krina is also in the process of trying to track down on Shin Tethys.

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) – Ann Leckie

My husband loved this book and the world building in it. The whole thing got really tiring for me halfway through so I didn’t finish. This is great if you love a world building epic read that’s more about the world and the war and the fight. I personally need something with a lot more personality! The book itself takes place on a remote, icy planet. The soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren – a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance..

All my reading for the summer! What was your favorite read this summer? What genre do you generally gravitate towards?

Airstream Travels: From Atlanta to Arkansas

After spending time in northern Atlanta with Twinkie, we packed it up and packed in the puppies and set off for a big conference in Las Vegas for my husband’s industry. The first leg of our journey had us leaving Atlanta really later than we preferred so we stopped in Alabama at a Wal*mart to park for the night. We had plenty of company with a semi-truck also parked at the perimeter of the parking lot with us — it’s engine running all night long as a background to drown out the nearby highway noise.

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Wes’s favorite thing about staying overnight in a Wal*mart is that there is usually also a Chick-Fil-A nearby for breakfast when the dogs wake us up at sunrise (because nobody wants to cook breakfast after only 5 hours of sleep!). After breakfast, we were back on the road, driving with hopes of making Arkansas by the evening. (We drove about 8 or 9 hours this day and we realized we really couldn’t keep up that pace of driving).

We found our way into Arkansas, but both the navigator in the Dodge AND the iPhone navigational maps told us to take this squiggly line (which apparently natives call the “Pig Trail”) to Fayetteville as it was the shortest way. The maps neglected to take into account the fact that the whole trail was switchbacks with steep grade and a mph recommendation of 10mph in places! So it took us much longer than we hoped. It was also pouring rain the whole time, and I was white-knuckled.

Wes was glad though, because it made him very sure of the trailer and the truck and knew we would have no problem getting over the Rockies and Loveland pass. So finally, we got to Wes’s aunt and uncle’s house and we parked for the night.

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Airstream Travels: Florida Part 2

We had to wait a week to pick up our new Airstream at the dealer and so we drove up to Atlanta and then back down to Orlando the next weekend. We got into Winter Park, Florida just in time to spend the night on the lot in our new Airstream checking it out for any major issues. (I don’t think they generally like it when customers ask to do that, but it’s well within our rights.) So we went from there over to a vegan restaurant for dinner. My dear carnivorous husband actually ate a vegan pizza for me, and we split a vegan milkshake out of soy milk and soy based ice cream.

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I really enjoyed eating vegan though Wes barely tolerated it. Afterwards we took our dogs on a walk around Winter Park and we bought a few nighttime necessities at a CVS nearby. Slept all night and the next morning, after a quick driving lesson, we were off to spend a week at the Wilderness Lodge and Campground area at Disney.

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We spent the first day wandering around Epcot. We really enjoyed eating at a bunch of different ‘countries’ trying food at Morocco and then later on getting a snack in the Mexican quarter. We were really irritated by Disney’s representation of Africa, however, a whole continent was reduced to ONE little hut. Mind-boggling.

Wes in front of a fountain in the Morocco section.

Wes in front of a fountain in the Morocco section.

Me in front of the waterfall at O' Canada.

Me in front of the waterfall at O’ Canada.

An indoor depiction of the Mayan temples.

An indoor depiction of the Mayan temples.

Sunset over the lake and Epcot.

Sunset over the lake and Epcot.

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The both of us waiting for our bus on the last day there.

The both of us waiting for our bus on the last day there.

Airstream Travels: Florida

When we decided to buy our new Airstream, we went down to Florida and stayed a few days shopping. And we spent a few days touring Disney World. We didn’t do much other than see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Hogsmead as Diagon Alley wasn’t open yet. (We missed it by about a week.)

Marvel Super Heroes too! We love Marvel comics. (And Wes loves games too).

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We had fun taking pictures with some signs around the parks. LOL!

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My first view of Hogsmeade. I am pretty sure I’m talking in this picture too. (Wes is great at getting me while I’m tired of him waiting for me to smile at him.)

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If you know Wes, you know I married an eleven year old. He LOVES trains.

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We tried butter beer. Yuck. It was super sweet — to the point I couldn’t even drink it! Wes had to finish the cup.

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This is a really lovely photo of the Hogwarts sign and pointing to the school.

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Wes in the middle of Hogsmeade with a refillable drink. We were thirsty! It was so much warmer in Florida than in Atlanta.

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And we saw the Dr Seuss world at Universal Studios as well. I LOVED the portrayal of the Lorax.

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Truffula trees! The Lorax “speaks for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”

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We ate brunch (our current tradition is to go out to brunch on Sundays if we’re not a church, which is usually when we’re traveling.) We found a cute little spot called Keke’s Breakfast Cafe.” Yep, that’s a plate of potatoes.

After this we went home for a week until we could come back and get our Airstream.

A Very Belated Update: New Airstream!

Hello hello! I have apparently fallen off the face of the earth again lately. A lot of big cool things have happened to us, and we have made some decisions, and I have wanted to share so much! But we are in travel mode, currently residing in Las Vegas for a while as husband is attending a Security Conference (if you don’t know which one, you’re probably not in computer security). ANYWAY! Wanted to write about this so much for a long time but since our internet connection is fussy, I can’t upload photos and that makes me saaaaad. But I’m super behind, so I’m going to write for now, and upload the photos when I get somewhere I can do so.

Right. So we’ve been traveling on and off since July. I wrote a little bit about how we went to Orlando and Disney World. We went there for a much needed vacation, but also with the side purpose of looking at Airstream trailers and trying to decide if we wanted to go the route of purchasing one at this point in time.

We stopped at a dealer outside of Orlando for our first glimpse of the various models of Airstreams — first the Flying Cloud, then the International, and then the snazzy 2013 Opal or some such with bright purple accents.

We liked a few but we weren’t sure yet so we went onward into Orlando itself to another dealer. There we found an International Serenity style trailer and we decided — after quite a lot of debate, to buy it.

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Our exact model is the 2014 28′ International Serenity, below is what you will see upon entering the front door, and look to the left.  You can see the dinette, which can seat four in relative comfort, but is usually used as the traveling office.  There’s the kitchen with an oven, a three burner stovetop, and a pretty full sized fridge where we can store produce gleaned from farmer’s markets.  The blinds in the kitchen open, to a pretty green view.

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Looking at our office from a six and a half high perspective, you can see the large windows that let in a lot of light.  The upper curved windows have their own blinds, which is nice for letting in light at specific times while still maintaining more privacy.  The dinette table also makes a nice stowaway for the crate, of which you can see the open door peeking out.  Holes likes that cave in particular.

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The lounge also can convert into a fairly comfortable bed — a little more comfortable than most sleeper couches.  Incidentally, the dinette also converts into a bed — so we can theoretically sleep six people in Twinkie.
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Turning around, you can see the bedroom with the queen bed — which was originally a trailer queen, we replaced it posthaste with a true queen bed so now there is less space in the back. But really it’s more of a sleeping room for both us and the dogs.  To the left is the bathroom.  And to the right is the stand up separate shower.  If you look up, you’ll see one of the two skylights in the Airstream — it’s actually pretty rare that we have any lights on in the daytime as so much natural light is let in.
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Stepping into the bedroom — below, you’ll see that I stitched a panorama to show the amount of light and windows that the bedroom has.  There’s a small closet to either side of the bed, along with nooks and magazine racks.  Incidentally, every cabinet in the Airstream also lights up!
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June: Instagram Month in Review

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Some cool things that happened this month, as seen on Instagram.

I am sure many of you all are on Instagram, as the photo taking and sharing feature has become more and more prevalent in our lives. I thought it would be fun to compile a review of the last month’s photos for all of you. Starting in the top left:

We decided to take a little trip to Florida, Orlando to be more specific. We had ulterior motives, but we also spent a few days exploring Disney as adults. Quite different from my memories of it as a very small child. This picture is Wes at Hogwarts. We decided to go test driving trucks one day when Wes realized trucks had come a very long way since he bought his Dodge Ram in 1998. We drove a lot of other Dodge trucks, but we were specifically looking at an ecodiesel. Our puppies were in bad need of a haircut in June, so we took them to the groomer before we left for Florida. We enjoyed a fun date night at Game-X, an arcade in downtown Atlanta. I got most of the middle part of my quilt done. Hooray! I took a month’s worth of barre classes at Pure Barre Virginia Highland, and I LOVED it. Went almost every day. Tried to get to the pool at least once a week, with Wes in tow. Looking out over the water at Universal Studios. Holes and Nones came with us in the back of the new truck, we got them a cool sling/hammock so they didn’t fall off the seat.

More Pure Barre, one day my running capris split right before I was going to class, so I had to buy a new pair of capris at class as you’re not allowed to wear shorts (and fortunately I had shorts in my bag because the capris I was wearing came unsewn all the way down the butt.) Wes and I were fortunate to attend the 5 year Anniversary (#atlactiversary) of Atlanta Activewear. We had a lovely date night out at Agave (pictured, chocolate torta dessert and flan). Wes pretended to be the Incredible Hulk at breakfast in Winter Park, Florida. I got my picture taken at Hogwarts as well! Our puppies said they were hot, and they spent a lot of time flopped in the front rooms on the wood floor. We brought the Dodge Big Horn Ecodiesel home with us to stay! And another picture from Pure Barre, because I just couldn’t get enough this month.

 

Clean: Orange BBQ Pulled Pork

So, we are in the process of cleaning out the fridge and freezer, this means that I get to be really creative with what we have and come up with recipes out of almost nowhere. We had a boneless pork loin hanging out in the freezer from when my parents came to visit and brought us lots of food. It was about two pounds. So I took that out to thaw.

Then I noticed a tupperware container of meatless cacciatore I had made a few weeks ago when I was trying to eat more veggies — obviously, I failed because these were frozen and needed to be used up too.

And there was also a container of orange zest frozen from when I was juicing a lot. Back when we had the ability to buy lots of extra produce each week.

So, throw all those things together into the slow cooker for five hours on high, and what do you get? Orange BBQ Pulled Pork!

Ingredients
2 lb boneless pork tenderloin

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup ketchup
1 large onion, sliced
2 peppers, sliced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons mustard (I used brown, you could use pretty much anything)
zest of one small orange
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon Basil
salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients except the pork into the slow cooker, and mix them up well so you have a serious looking barbecue sauce. Add the pork to the middle of the slow cooker, and put the lid on. Set it for four hours on high, or eight hours on low. When the slow cooker is done cooking your meat, remove the pork from the pot and shred it up using two forks (or you could drop it in your Kitchen Aid while it’s still warm and beat it up with the regular mixing attachment, if you wanted to clean that…) I put the pork and veggies on these awesome onion rolls I made from a recipe at Real Simple (No-Knead Onion Rolls), for Wes, and on Hearts of Romaine for me. Yum yum. I didn’t get a picture of the final product all plated because it got eaten so fast!

Here’s the pork as it looked without the rolls or the romaine.
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Whole 30: Ranch Dressing

clean and whole 30 ranch dressing recipe. (keep in mind it won’t taste exactly like brand salad dressing — but is much better for you and as your taste buds change, it’ll taste great! it tastes awesome to me!)

Ranch:
5 tablespoons dried minced onions
7 teaspoons parsley flakes
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Mix together and store in an air tight container.

For dressing: Mix 2 tablespoons dry mix with 1 cup homemade or clean mayonnaise (a good recipe can be found on The Clothes Make The Girl and 1 cup lite coconut milk from the can from Trader Joe’s.
For dip: *clean recipe only: Mix 2 tablespoons dry mix with 2 cups greek yogurt.
Mix up a few hours before serving, so the flavors all blend.

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