Thursday, January 5, 2017

Just Finish Strong is moving!

It's a new year!  And it's the year of a blog redesign, including a new host!

Stay tuned for a new look, and a new domain.

But never fear, your "Just Finish Strong" content will remain unchanged.

See you soon!!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Traditions: Cinnamon Roll Edition

I am a sucker for Christmas traditions.  So I thought I'd share one of ours with you.  Because I steal others traditions from their blogs sometimes.

We're starting off with cinnamon roll making with Bethany. I have a short cut cinnamon roll I make all year long.  But that's not this one.  Now we didn't mean to make this a tradition.  It just became one.  We are on year 4.  We meet at Bethany's house, feed the kids pizza and get her dining room table super messy.  The recipe is none other than The Pioneer Woman's.  But I'm sure you already knew that.  Ree, thank you for your delicious contribution to our Christmas traditions.

I'm just going to leave these pics right here and let you imagine how amazing they smell and then decide you must do this next year with your bff.





This is a very precise process, so you must measure.  And if you can't find your measuring tape you use the pencil you bought from The Mercantile in Pawhuska that has measurements on it.


This is a compilation of melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon.  
This might be my favorite combo in the entire world here.



Bethany always rolls the dough tigher than me.  It's annoying.




You end up with this, a nice long log of ooey goodness.  And don't be scared that the filling oozed out all over the table. We scoop that right up and put it on top.





Let them rise......


Then bake.
Then they look like this.  But we're not done yet.



You have to add the maple flavored frosting.


                           





 And there you have it.  A whole lot of cinnamon rolls. 
Next year, we're doubling it.  Because, after all, it is better to give than receive. 









Thursday, December 8, 2016

Saying Goodbye

I don't have a lot of experience when it comes to death.  The only personal experience I really have is my grandfather who passed away after a heart attack when I was in high school.  I have a horrible memory so I don't remember much more than kissing his bald head for the last time in the hospital and the sadness of the funeral.  I, of course, still feel the loss though.

This week has been a bit of a hard one for me, as my 92 year old grandmother, who hasn't known me for a few years due to dementia, has taken the descent from this earthly place, to the ascent of her heavenly home.  She is blessed to be in her home, comfortable, peaceful, and quiet.  I gave my kids the option to go see her.  The only one who took me up on it was Neely.  She was nervous, but really wanted to see her.  Neely is sensitive that way, and has always had a special place in her heart for the aging.  So we visited her over the weekend to spend some time with her.

While her dementia has left her not knowing the people or places around her, she still has a love of music.  Looking into her empty eyes has been hard, but if there is music around, we see that glimpse of the spunky Grandma Thompson we know and love as she moves her feet, hands, or head to the music.  So during this visit Neely played the piano for her. She didn't say anything, but her eyes focused and she tapped her feet in the hospital bed in her living room to the music her great-granddaughter was playing for her.  We sung to her as well.

I have had a few more visits with her this week.  I rustled her out of a far away stare with my voice and got a few small weak smiles.  I will cherish those smiles filed away in my fondest memory file.  I have been blessed with the longevity of my grandparents.  And have been thankful for the time I've had with her.

So in a day or so we are saying goodbye to Grandma Thompson.  If you knew her, you loved her.  If you didn't, you missed out.

                                             


It's a busy week in heaven - as I know of others who have joined the ranks.

During this holiday season find the time to visit those you love.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

On Rollerskating and being over 40

Our family got invited to a friend's 40th birthday party at a skating rink...80's themed.  Now I don't know about you but those 2 things bring the memories back.  Phrases like shoot the duck, couples skate, and bathroom stalls etched with bad words fill my memory.  My mom may have even dropped me off at the skating rink....by myself.....can you imagine doing that now with your kids!?!?!?! Heck no!

I was super excited to show my kids my skills and enjoy some nostalgia. I guess these days everyone skates on inline skates because I happened to look down and notice my brown skates with 2 red wheels on each side were in the minority.  Carson chose to "not skate".  WHAT?  Andy took a few turns around the rink in his inline skates and called it good.  So it was just me and my girls.

I was happy to find that roller skating was a lot like riding a bike!  You don't forget!  I did decide to however, sit out the limbo, and leave that one to the youngsters.  And when the DJ said it was time for the fast skate, I shuffled off the floor.  I watched Karly take a few times around and thought, well if she's out there, then I can do it.  And the draw of Def Leopard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" was just too much.  So I sped onto the floor.  I was cranking it, my friends, even crossing over on the turns - I sped past all those little kids.  My girls even said "Mom, you're really good!" I beamed with pride. Then it happened.

As I was doing my signature move of the cross over with my feet while turning, I felt myself slowly lose my balance, and there was no stopping it.  I was falling, backwards, and my tailbone was going to break my fall.  My large hoop earrings went flying and I heard a collective "Ooo" across the rink.  When I went to get up, it was apparent to me my skating for the night was over.  I managed to get up as the birthday girl skated by and asked if I was ok.  I ,of course, said yes, and painfully took a few more laps with her, in hopes of shaking it off.  There was no shaking it off.  And I promptly turned in my brown skates.  

When I got home, I could see I was a little scraped up, but it wasn't anything the naked eye could see.  As I laid down to go to bed, and couldn't even lay on the side of my spill, I felt over 40.  The morning revealed a purple bruise the size of a football starting at my lower back and extending downward.  And any type of sitting was painful.  

It's been a few weeks now, the bruise is gone, but there is still a tinge of pain every now and then.  So this is what I want you to learn from my misfortune.  Even when in your head, you feel like you're still 18, you're not, and your body might tell you otherwise.  

And...pride goes before a fall.  

Monday, November 7, 2016

You gotta try this - Indoor Skydiving with IFly

So some people like adventure.  And some don't.  I feel like I am someone who hasn't quite tapped into my adventure capability.  Neely got the adventure gene too.  We've talked about how we are going to go skydiving once she is old enough. I can't wait.

So when I had the chance to go try out IFly indoor skydiving - I knew I had to take her with me.  It's for all ages from 3 to 100! I'm not going to lie..once we got there - we sat in the car and talked about how nervous we were before we went in.  But adventure called.



IFly opened in OKC in February of this year.  It was started in Austin for professional skydivers to practice their tricks.  Then they decided to open it up to the public so everyone could see what it might be like to fly.  And we were lucky enough to go try it out!  They do team building events and birthday parties too!

When you arrive you meet your very knowledgable flight instructor, and watch a 4 minute video giving you the basics of hand signals that will be used, and the position you need your body to be in.  Once you've gone through the boring stuff it's time to suit up!  Your gear includes a flight suit, earplugs, goggles and a helmet.  Then you're ready to go!

                                           

Before we went into the tube...

                                
                                

(Neely told me never to make that pose again....wha??)

We filed into the glass waiting area and anxiously awaited our turn.  Neely and I were in the middle of a group of 10.  We each got two, two minute flights.  And on your second flight you had an option to take the high flight, where they take you to the top of the tube.  Of course we both said yes to that.

Neely went first.  She was a natural.





Then I was up.  And it's harder than you look, I promise.







We did level one, which were the basics.  If you decide you like it you can go back and learn things like flips, twists, and maneuvering up and down.   Neely and I are already planning our second visit!

Trust me, if you are wanting to do something different for once, this is your place!  Family night, birthday parties, date night - Check out IFly!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Pioneer Woman, her store and two super fans.

About 10 years ago I stumbled upon this food blog called "The Pioneer Woman".  It just might be where my interest in blogging was peaked.  The author, Ree, lived on a ranch in rural Oklahoma and cooked food I wanted to cook. I had my hands full with 3 kids under the age of 5 and I needed to get lost in photos of  pretty food and ranch life a few minutes of the day.  A couple of my friends and I quickly became "fans".

Fast forward to today.  I met the author of that food blog.  I've met her before, at a book signing a few years ago, but today was extra special because it was the opening of her new store, The Mercantile, in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

                                                

And, Bethany, who also shares the love of all things Pioneer Woman dropped everything and went with me
                                             



Now, before I give you the recap, I want you to know I fully realize there is an annoying amount of "selfies" from myself and Bethany.  We got a little caught up in it all. But you have to understand, this is Food Network Royalty here.  We had to document ourselves with them on this momentous day.  #sorrynotsorry



Upon our arrival one of the first people we saw was Ree's super cute father-in-law.  He is cowboy to the bone.  (I secretly heart cowboys.  Like a lot)

                                          


We arrived around 10:30 to find no line at the deli, and 30 minutes left of the breakfast menu.  Now listen closely.  When you go, you have to go for breakfast, and you have to order the Crunchy Croissant French toast.  This is not optional.  I'm not kidding.  Heed. This. Advice.


You can also eat things like the Cowboy Burrito and wash it down with a pretty lavender latte.


We lucked into watching some filming of some sort where Ree's daughter was giving a tour of the Deli.  She just happened to start right at our table and was kind enough to indulge us with a photo. (Thats right, annoying photo bombing lady in the back, I'm getting my picture with Paige.)


Then onto The Mercantile!  The store is adorable, with something for everyone. I could have spent Andy's entire paycheck, but I refrained.  We stood in line to get our pic with Ree and say hello.  Then we painstakingly narrowed down our purchases and headed upstairs to check out the bakery and second floor.

                                       

We spent quite a bit of time right here, watching the bakers in her bakery making up a batch of her delicious cinnamon rolls.  I could have pulled up a chair and sat there for hours.

                                       

But alas, we had to bring our visit to a close. And as we were about to leave, we ran into Ree again!  So what did we do?  We scooted right behind the two women who beat us to her! I, of course, apologized for double dipping in the "to see Ree" line, but she told me there were no rules at the Mercantile so it was alright.  And she happily signed my cake plate.

                                         

We are kindred spirits I tell you.

                                          

If you don't know who Marlboro Man is, I'm surprised your reading this because it means you are not up to speed on all things Pioneer Woman.  But I'll fill you in.  He's The Pioneer Woman's husband, Lad. Anyway, we ran into him and Bethany snagged him for a pic.  

And then on our way out to our car, we saw her youngest, Todd, who was happy to join us for yet, another selfie.
  He's as cute in person as he is in this pic.


It was a perfect day for two friends who have talked Pioneer Woman recipes for 10 years.  We made memories, and plans to go back.  
Thanks Pioneer Woman!  For the amazing food, cute purchases, and pics!  




Friday, October 21, 2016

Checking out OKC and IFly

Its a shame I don't get around more in my city.  OKC has a lot to offer by way of entertainment.  Thanks to Oklahoma City Kids Guide I'm going to take Neely and check out IFly.  Neely and I have this deal that we are going to sky dive as soon as she is old enough.  Turns out we don't have to wait until she's old enough to see what it's like!

They describe it like this:
When you come to iFLY get ready to be blown away - literally. It's thrilling. It's amazing. Experience the feeling of freefall as you float on a smooth cushion of air. There's no parachute, no jumping, and nothing attaching you to planet Earth. It's just you FLYING in the air. Super fun, super safe and super cool
I'm an adventure junkie and I birthed one too.  Neely and I will check back in with you here and let you know how we fared!

Till then...