Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You Make Me Smile

One of my favorite quotes is "If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans." I feel like this has applied to my life so many times.  I wanted to go to grad school in Champaign, and I ended up in Iowa.  I said I would never move further north, and I end up working in Minnesota.  I've had so many plans change, and 99% of the time they have worked out better than I ever could have planned for. 
Life has changed for me once again. I don't know who actually reads this random rambling blog of mine, but some of you already know this but to some it might come as a surprise.

A very nice boy from Nebraska has been coming around again.  Remember him? The one with the strange name who shares the strange love of meat judging?  Yep - Ace.  The story of how this all came to be is long and somewhat complicated and doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. What matters is that I'm super happy and he makes me smile everyday.  He is now living in South Dakota working on his PhD in meat science.  We're a little over 3 hours away from each other but we're making it work. 

He's been requesting to be back on the blog so this post is for him :)   If he starts making regular appearances now you won't be surprised.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Meaty Halloween

Happy Halloween!! 

I hope everyone has had a great weekend! I've had a blast!  Halloween is a big event in Austin. Mostly, because my friend Katie goes pretty overboard about it.  We've been having weekly "committee" meetings for about the past month.  Really these were just an excuse to get together.  Last week we carved pumpkins, and this week we decorated cookies and cupcakes for Katie's party last night. 

I wasn't sure what I was going to dress up as this year.  It was going to be hard to top the tacky tourist of last year.  Then Lady Gaga gave me the most perfect costume! If you didn't hear, Lady Gaga wore a meat dress at the MTV Video Awards this year.  It was made of actual dried meat, complete with meat shoes, a meat hat, and a meat purse.  She had some weird political reasoning behind the dress, but being the meat lover that I am, I loved it for the mere fact it was made of meat! So I set out to recreat the meat dress.  I actually found a do it yourself video on youtube.  Sadly, my costume was not made of actual meat.  We had talks at work about how I could use real meat, but I figured it would be too messy :)  So here is the finished product. It turned out awesome! I'm not sure the pictures do it justice. It looks much better in person. 

What do you think compared with the real deal??

Katie the Lady Bug, Joni the Donkey, Lady Gaga, and Holly as Pippi Longstocking

Katie's boyfriend Brad as a Gnome, if he turned his hat around he also doubled as a wizard
 KISS Army

 Kim Jong-Il

 Pumpkin Carving!!

 My cute front porch (there's an orange mum between the pumpkins

In other news, I caught a second mouse.  I'm really really hoping that's the end of the mice.  It's too stressful getting rid of them...

I'll also be home this weekend for Katie Steber's wedding.  I'll be home late Thursday/sometime on Friday for the rehearsal dinner then I'll have to go back on Sunday.  It will be a quick trip, but I'm excited to be home for a few days! Mom and Dad recently bought a hot tub and I'm excited to try it out! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I caught a mouse today.  It was a major triumphant, and my mother was not supportive.

I discovered this mouse on Sunday after being gone all weekend.  My loaf of bread had a large hole burrowed in it.  So Monday I went a little overboard and bought six mouse traps.  I decided I would only set four of the traps and keep the other two.  Tuesday went by with no mice sightings.  I came home today from being in Osceola for work overnight and found this.

He was stuck, but still alive.  The stuff in the middle is the large glob of peanut butter I smeared on the trap to lure him in.  I discarded of my house guest with minimal screaming/freaking out.  I've decided to leave the other traps out in case he has any friends.  Thanks again for being supportive, Mom.

In other news, it's cold.  Winter has caught up to me once again.  Ugh.

That's all I've got for now.....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's a brand new car!!!

Like I said in an earlier post, I bought my first brand new car a few weeks ago!!  I must say the whole process wasn't as painful as I thought it would be.  It doesn't hurt that I somewhat fell in love with my salesman, Dave.  He was really straight with me, and didn't try to sell me something I didn't need.  I just got a letter from Dave thanking me and how much fun he had during the process. I know this is probably standard operating procedure at Rochester Toyota, but I like to think that I'm Dave's favorite customer of all time! I now have all the fun things that come along with a brand new car like the new car smell, it's shiny, everything in it is clean, it starts everytime (the Solara is starting to have an issue), and debt. Ok, so maybe the debt part is not so much fun, but now I suppose I'm like everyone else in the country! I also forgot how much work it is to keep a dark car clean.  I've had my gold car for long that I've been oblivious to just how dirty cars can get.  So far, I've had my new car for about 3 weeks, and I've taken it through the car wash 3 times already.  It doesn't help that they have my road completely tore up and the dust from the construction is horrible.  I've started driving completely out of my way just to avoid it! I'm becoming quite obsessive about keeping it clean.  I feel like this is going to be a problem once winter gets here and it's covered in salt all the time.  Ugh! However, at least the car is all wheel drive so hopefully I won't have to worry about being stuck in snow drifts this year!  Thanks Dave!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I realize I’m behind the times again. Here is a quick list of new happenings in the world of Rachel:
1. I bought a new car. This is maybe the most exciting news. It’s a 2010 Toyota Venza and I love it. It’s black, with leather, and a sunroof. I also currently have a 2000 Toyota Solara for sale if you’re interested……

2. I ran a half marathon. Yes, I’m crazy. I ran 13.1 miles in 1 hour and 59 minutes. I was pretty excited, because I set my goal as 2 hours 10 minutes. I was extremely excited to come in (barely) under 2 hours!

3. Cody took me to see Wicked for my birthday in the cities and it was awesome! We also ate at this Ah-Mazing restaurant called Fogo De Chao. It’s a Brazilian steak house where they bring you all the meat you can eat to your table. I highly recommend it!

4. We also went to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival the weekend of my birthday. There were all these people dressed in costumes and a lot of food stands and shops. It was really unique and fun.

5. I traveled home for 5 glorious days over Labor Day weekend. I need to get on the ball and update with pictures.

6. I traveled to Iowa City, IA to visit Adam and Jessie and tailgate for the Iowa vs. Iowa State game. They recently moved into a house in the country and are finding out about the joys of country living and the critters that come with it…..More on this later.

7. Then, I traveled to Kansas for work for a week. I’m glad those tests are behind me. Working in a different plant for the first time is always nerve racking. I’m thankful when there are such helpful and nice people in plants that help tests run smoothly.

8. It’s fall which means that it’s almost winter. This makes me sad.

9. I may never learn to wear gloves when handling liquid smoke at work. My hands are going to become permanently orange colored if I’m not careful.

10. My legs are sore (see #2) and I’ve been walking around the office like an 80 year old lady.

I think that about does it. I will get pictures of the new car and such up soon!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

By the time you read this....

....I will be on the better side of the Mississippi.  Where the sun shines a little brighter.  And the grass is just that much greener.  Yes, I'll be in Illinois tonight and will stay there for 5 glorious days!!  And that my friends makes me very, very, ridiculously happy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Back To The Future

I was going through posts on my blog today.  I'm really trying to be better about updating it.  Last summer when I was an intern, our apartment had horrible internet connection.  I spent about an hour writing the following post and lost connection when I tried to publish it.  I thought I had lost the entire thing.  Well, I came across that post today.  It wasn't lost, just hidden in the draft section where you edit posts. I thought about deleting it, but I'm just going to post it. I think it's fun after being here a year to see what I thought about Hormel when I first started.  So enjoy this blast from the past!

Hello all from beautiful Austin, Minnesota! (a hint of sarcasm may be included)..

But, while Austin might not make the cut for the most exciting of towns, it's been really good here so far. After my first full week of work I think I'm really going to like it. I'm getting to help with some really cool projects they have going on, and I really like the people I work with. Everyone at Hormel is so friendly and helpful. They are always willing to answer my questions and explain what's going on. My roommates are really nice, and so are the other interns. It's really nice because they plan events for us to do and we all live at the same apartment complex so we can all hang out together. The only downfall of the job is that I'm probably going to gain 50 pounds this summer because there is always food around! I won't ever need to buy groceries because I'm never hungry by the time I make it home. So I've been running extra miles to cover it!

In other news, I made a flying trip home this weekend for my cousin Matt's wedding. While I was home, I stopped by Grandma Betty's to visit for awhile. While I was there Clayton discovered a little lizard that had wondered into the house and was screaming about an iguana in the house. Of course we all thought he was full of it until it came running out and sure enough it was a lizard! I didn't even know we had lizards around home. Janette, Justin, Clayton, and I bravely tried to catch it and we failed miserably! So it's still in Grandma's house somewhere......

But, I was so glad that I was able to make it home even if it was a short trip. Since Matt and I are the same age we grew up doing a lot of things together, but since I've been in college I don't get to see much of him. Matt and Lori have been dating since high school so this has been a long time coming. Congrats Matt and Lori!!

That's it for now. My defense is one week from Wednesday, and my boss set up a practice defense for me at work on front of the entire R&D group! Gulp! Wish me luck!!

*The Lizard - it may look small but it was very scary :) *

*Dad and Rob stopped planting just long enough to go to the wedding and take this picture*

*Lori & Matt*

*The slideshow had a picture of us like this when we were probably 5 and Grandma wanted to re-enact. The old one was much cuter. Lol!*

*Trevor - Best looking guy at the wedding*

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Move over Betty Crocker!

Since I've living on my own for the past year, I really feel like I’ve been channeling Betty Crocker, or probably more like Grandma Betty Smith, (and it's not so much channeling as it is calling her and asking her what to do- Thanks Grandma!). I’ve branched out and tried cooking much more than I did in college. I attribute this to the fact that I have more time now, and I also cook a lot for Cody. He gets to try out my new dishes I invent. However, he will eat pretty much anything.  I could make him a cheese sandwich, and he would declare it the best cheese sandwich he’s ever had. The first thing I made for him was lasagna, and when he came over he was confused as to why the lasagna was not frozen and there were mixing bowls involved. Poor kid, he didn’t have a Grandma Betty. Anyway, I’m proud to say there have been many successes, very few failures, and nothing that has been truly inedible. I’ve been really impressed with my ability to make stuff up on the fly. I’ve also made conscious efforts to eat more vegetables. Much to my family’s disbelief I’ve even started to eat green beans. I’ve also grilled a lot of asparagus. However, many of my failed dishes have to do with some sort of vegetable….

Some of the failures include:
  • Green beans – Maybe it’s because I still don’t really like them, but I can’t ever cook them to where I think they’re right. The texture is always off.
  • Stuffed green peppers – These weren’t bad, but not that good. I went through a “cream cheese would be good in everything” phase, and I thought that if I filled a hollowed out green pepper with some cream cheese, cheddar cheese, ground beef, and a bunch of spices it would be really delicious. It was just really weird, and I need to look up an appropriate recipe for stuffed peppers and try again.
Luckily, the success list is much longer!
  • Cuban pork sandwiches – my mouth just waters thinking about it. I’ve really come to love mustard and pickles lately.
  • Pie Crust - although it still needs some tweaks
  • Baked Pasta - This is frequently called Rachel’s Surprise because I usually end up using leftover meats/cheeses/whatever is left in the fridge, but it’s always been yummy!
  • Mayonnaise bread – this sounds completely disgusting but believe me it is the most delicious cheese bread I’ve ever sank my teeth into. I started out trying to recreate cheese bread I have had before (Corineah if you read this, I was trying to make your bread). I couldn’t remember the ingredients. so I just guessed. It started with cream cheese, because it seemed like that should work (plus it was during my cream cheese phase). It was good, but just not quite right. Thanks to The Pioneer Woman I came across this recipe and found the missing puzzle piece was mayonnaise! Who woulda thunk? Make it if you have a few extra calories to spare…..
  • Whiskey cream sauce – another Pioneer Woman recipe, but I tweaked it some, and it’s soooo yummy on a nice, thick ribeye steak.
  • Alfredo sauce – so delicious and yet oh so bad for you
Wow it really sounds like I’ve just been loading up on calories doesn’t it??
  • Banana cream pie – I don’t know if I’ve ever had banana cream pie, but it is Cody’s favorite so I attempted it for his birthday. He said it was good. I think it could be better.
  • Enchiladas - again thanks to Pioneer Woman.
  • Shrimp pasta - Maybe my most favorite dish lately. Just cook up some shrimp in some olive oil and then toss with peas and pasta.
  • Beef Brisket - in my crock pot
The list goes on. My most recent successes happened a few weeks ago. I had a lazy Sunday and decided it was the day I would tackle homemade rolls. I had only tried this completely on my own a few times, and the previous tests had not turned out well. This time I was determined to be triumphant! Cody had also never had ham and noodles so I made those as well. The food was as good as my kitchen was dirty….

I bet Betty Crocker never made as big of a mess as I do though, and she probably remembers to take pictures of the final product. Making bread and noodles was an all day affair, and by the time both were ready to eat I was much too hungry to be bothered with pictures. I also demonstrated just how much like my mom I am. I had flour everywhere, complete with two flour handprints on my behind. Thanks for teaching me that, Mom. The rolls were definitely a success this go around. The only thing I would change next time is that I made them much too big and they spread into more of a loaf than a roll so they didn’t raise as high as they should have. This did not stop the two of us from eating 4 pans (small pans) in less than a week. I definitely ran a few extra miles that week!

Sunday, July 25, 2010


As a good friend of mine recently pointed out, I lied.  I promised a blog update over a month ago, and I still haven't delivered one.  I'm sorry.  I don't even have a good excuse only that it's summer time, and I've been trying to soak it all in.  So here's a quick update.  I would promise to have another post with pictures soon, but I can't guarantee that I'll be able to deliver.

1. It's been hot in MN.  I love it, because it actually feels like summer to me.  People from Minnesota like to complain about the heat.  I think I probably sound like them in the winter when it's snowing, so I suppose it's even.

2. My house has been like the Austin Hotel lately.  Dallas was here for the 4th of July, the following weekend Rachel and David made a quick pit stop, and I entertained Adam and Jessie this weekend.  Cory and Petey will be here next weekend and my parents the weekend after that.

3. I love visitors.  If you would like to come visit please make your reservation right now!

4. I'm now training to run a half marathon in September.  I'm not sure what kind of crazy thoughts have taken over my brain.  I'll be running with 3 other Hormel girls so it should be a fun time (well minus the running 13 miles part).

5.  I cooked all afternoon, and I'm now covered in flour.  I'm definitely my mother's daughter judging by the flour handprints that were on my shorts...

6. I've eaten my weight in mashed potatoes the last couple of weeks at work.  It's becoming a problem.  See #4.

7.  My cousin Clayton was baptised this morning at church, and I am so proud of him! I really wish I could have been home to see him give his life to the Lord.  Congrats Clayton!

8.  Did I mention that I love summer and hot weather??

9.  I played in a sand volleyball tournament last weekend and ended up with a wicked mystery bruise on my hand.  I should have taken a picture of it, but I forgot.

10.  Watching the latest episodes of Deadliest Catch where Captain Phil dies makes me cry everytime.  I'm such a baby. 

11. I've been living off of strawberries for the last month and a half.  I bought some at the store last week and ended up throwing half the carton away once I got home because they were starting to rot.  It made me very sad because it means strawberry season is over.

12.  The same day I threw away strawberries, I bought my first bunch of sweet corn.  This made me feel much better.

13.  Cody has now met almost all of the important people in my life and has passed the inspections.  I knew he would :)

14.  I need to go to Illinois soon.  Chauncey, Illinois to be specific.

15.  I'm more tan than I've been in the last few years. I love summer!

16.  Getting engaged seems to be the thing to do these days.  Congrats to Sarah and Matt, Jessie and Adam, and Christine and Travis!! I'll throw in Bethany and Blake and Sug and Robert too even though you've been engaged for awhile :)

That's all I can think of for now.  Off to enjoy some more hot summer weather!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An update....

is coming soon.  I promise.  I didn't realize it had been a month since my last post.  I've been slowly climbing my way out from under a project at work for the past 3 weeks.  I finally made it out today.  The sunlight kind of hurt my eyes and I had to adjust to not feeling exhausted when I got home, but it's nice to be back.  I have no plans this weekend so I will work on an update. I promise.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hola! Como estas? Muy bien!

Well after 5 days in Mexico that's still about as much Spanish as I know.  Add gracias and una mas and that is the extent of my vocabulary.  Luckily that didn't hold us back!  Cory, Amanda, and I had a great time in Cancun!  The resort we stayed at was called the Riu Caribe, and it ended up being really nice.  The whole concept of 'all inclusive' is a genius one.  It was great to walk around and not have to carry any money or anything around.  I could eat ice cream everyday and eat steak - fo free! (ok so not really free we paid for it but still it seemed free!)  We spent most of our days laying around the pool or on the beach doing absolutely nothing but soaking up the sun.  I finished 4 books and got some pretty sweet tan lines. 

We planned a couple of extra activities as well.  One night we went on a pirate themed cruise ship. Out of the probably 40 people on the boat, we were 3 of 5 who spoke English as our only language.  The main pirate emcee would explain things in both Spanish and English, but we feel like we missed out on a lot of the story.  We figured this only enhanced the experience as it was probably pretty corny otherwise.  We cruised from Cancun to the Isla Mujeres where we saw a pirate show, had dinner, played some games, and had a mini dance party. While on the island I got called out to come on stage to play a game. It was a scavenger hunt and we had find certain items in the audience and thing bring them back to the pirate - the last person back would lose. It was interesting because he would explain what we were looking for in Spanish first, so I just took off running not knowing most of the time what I was looking for. I was the last person standing and won a t-shirt for my efforts.  It was extremely windy that night and it wasn't long until our boat ride turned into a scene straight out of Deadliest Catch.  The boat was rocking so hard that I was convinced we would end up having to swim back to shore.  This also only enhanced the experience, because the crew had people up dancing around the boat and soon the scene changed from Deadliest Catch to Titanic.  As the boat rocked everyone dancing would scream, cling to the railings, and topple on top of each other.  It was epic and hysterical!! 

We also went on a club hop which took us to 3 of the hot spots in Cancun: Congo, Senor Frogs, and Cocoa Bongo.  We had an extremely good time.  Senor Frogs was by far my favorite.  It was really laid back with a beach theme and even had a water slide running through the place.  Cocoa Bongo was a disco like place and they put on shows of famous singers such as Elvis, Beyonce, and Michael Jackson.  The people really looked like the singers and they would dance and lip sync along to their music videos which would play on these huge screens.  It was a blast!

We sadly left on Wednesday and went from 90 degrees in Cancun to a very sad 40 degrees in Minnesota.  It was really disheartening.  I started feeling better when Cody welcomed me home with a small Dairy Queen ice cream cake!  I'll leave you now with a slide show of some of the pictures of our trip.  I feel like there is more to say, but it's late and my clever blogger writing skills just aren't clicking (as if my blog posts are ever that clever anyway!).  So good night!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Workin hard, or hardly workin?

Like I said, I've been on the move a lot. I've spent the last three weeks on the road. The first week I spent 3 days in Topeka, KS. If you haven't heard, Hormel recently bought the Country Crock line of side dishes. I've been assigned to work on Team Tater (what the operations guy decided we should be called - clever, I know) and all the items are made at a plant in Topeka. I didn't mind going there since it was 80 degrees there that week. Last week I spent Tuesday - Friday at our plant in Atlanta, GA. I had been looking forward to this trip for awhile. It had been rescheduled a couple of times. I usually travel by myself, but on this trip we were running a couple of different trials so myself, Nate - who also works in R&D, Russ - operations manager, and Brett - marketing manager all made the trip down south. I've learned that traveling with Russ is the way to go. He arranged for us to do some fun things after our work in the plant was done. On Wednesday night, Merle (superintendent at Atlanta plant) took us out on his boat. The lake we were on was a huge resevoir and there was a lot of money on that lake! We saw house boats bigger than my actual house. Merle told us that one of the boats which was appropriately named "More than you know" is frequently featured on the travel channel when they do shows about house boats. It was incredible looking. We spent about 2 hours cruising the lake and only made it about half way across it.  Even thought it was only in the lower 70's, it was still a great night.  The lake was calm, and there were a ton of sailboats out on the water.  We got to watch the sunset, and after we docked, Merle took us to a little restaurant right on the lake.  We spent Thursday in the plant again, and then we were treated to an Atlanta Braves game that night.  I can't remember the last time I had been to a pro baseball game.  It was probably at least 10 years ago.  We had really great seats, however the game couldn't have been worse. The Braves were playing the Phillies and they got beat pretty badly.  Good thing I'm not a Braves fan! We sadly flew back to MN on Friday and back to the real world.  I'm hoping I can get more projects that take me back to Atlanta.  I think I belong in the south..... This week I'm on the road again.  I'm back in Topeka tonight for a meeting tomorrow and then it's back to Austin and I'm on a plane to Cancun Friday morning!!! I'll be sure to write and share pictures from the trip when I get back. Until then enjoy some of the sites from Atlanta  - tootles!

*Merle's boat the Z-Amore*

*More Than You Know*

*Captain Brett, Skipper Nate, and Gilligan Rachel*

*If Merle is back there who's driving the boat??*
*That's right - they let me drive*
*This picture is for Grandpa Joe - what sailboats do besides sit in the yard :)  *

*Turner Field*

Sunday, April 25, 2010

On the go

Busy busy busy. That's how things have been going lately. Work has been going good, and I've been traveling a lot. I think I might have gypsy blood in me, because I love to be on the move. Don't get me wrong, I love a good lazy weekend of laying on the couch, but many times I'd much rather be going places and visiting people. Maybe it stems from all those weekends spent going to cattle shows on the weekends as a kid?? Anyway - it's been a pretty busy last couple of months. I spent one weekend at the end of March visiting Mallory with Jessie in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is definitely a fun city. Ironically, we spent almost the whole weekend pretending like we were in college again and spent all of Saturday laying around watching a marathon of America's Next Top Model. Sunday Mal gave us a driving tour of the city which included the Pabst Mansion, Marquette University, the place where serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer used to live, among other Milwaukee sights. The highlight of the weekend had to be riding a mechanical chili pepper at a Mexican restaurant. It was more like a kiddie ride than a mechanical bull, but it was hilarious. The weekend was epic for sure ;)

*Me, Mallory, Jessie*

Last weekend, Cody and I made the trip down to Ames to take part in VEISHEA. If you want to learn more about what VEISHEA is click here: Basically, it's a celebration for the university. This year was the first time I actually walked around on campus on Saturday. I didn't realize how many family events took place. Each college puts on different events to show the public a little about their program. I ran into Dr. Lonergan at the livestock pavillion and was able to catch up with him for a bit. The spring scrimage game was Saturday afternoon so ISU 911 was out in full force for tailgating. Sunday we had lunch with my other family - The Andersons. Lily is getting so big, it's hard to believe that she's 8 months old! Mark and Katie even dressed her in the Illini shirt I got for her. She is the cutest baby ever!! Overall, it was a great weekend spent catching up with my Iowa State peeps.

*Cody getting his first taste of Iowa State tailgating*

*Jessie, Mallory, Leah, Amy, and I*

*Lily is well on her way to becoming an Illini fan!*