Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm not sure where to begin ...


I hope you don't mind if I ramble on for a bit! 

What an adventure we've had ... and until yesterday we couldn't get online to share the adventure with you! Our old laptop is limping along until we can get a new computer, but we are just so thankful to be back in business and able to keep in touch through e-mail, catch up and keep up with online classes, and read our favorite blogs again!  Of course I have over 600 e-mails to sort through, but I'm getting there!

So, I'll try to make this make sense for you, but it's been quite a roller coaster ride so hang on!

The last week of September I got a message on our answering machine that I was a finalist in the Johnsonville No Ordinary Burger Contest which was co-sponsored by the National Pork Board and WalMart.  I was so astonished!  Jen from Balancing Beauty and Bedlam encouraged her readers to enter for a chance to win free groceries for a year form WalMart and so I had entered a recipe months before that ended up being selected as a finalist! I was super excited about the prize!!!! Not so excited about getting on an airplane and having to cook in front of strangers ....

That call began a flurry of activity! After I stopped panicking, I decided it was a good idea just calm down and pray for direction. I didn't know if I would have the stamina to travel to the cook-off, the know-how to grill burgers on the Big Taste Grill, or the gumption to even try! I wrote to Jen and asked for her advice, and as always she was so encouraging! She calmed my fears with some good advice and shared her experiences with me, which gave me much to think about!

 I decided that though I was terrified, it was a unique opportunity and a chance for some Mother/Daughter bonding, and I felt peace about deciding to go and see what it was all about.  Our Dreamer was an enthusiastic travel companion and ready to pack her bag, but there was a lot to do to get ready! Wading through paper work and reading fine print - sending off certified affidavits and making travel arrangements!  Whew! 

Well, and then there was the little matter of

You see, my dear Historian is the grill master here - he has been from the start!  It was part of the marriage contract you know, right along with making Saturday morning pancakes (his job) and not putting flannel sheets on our bed before November 1st (I've kept my word, but it hasn't been easy!). It's been quite a happy arrangement for these many years, but we had to cross the lines a bit - I had to learn how to grill my recipe, and not just throw it together for the Historian to grill to perfection!

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, Dad and Mum came for a special visit! 

Together we celebrated Dreamer's 14th birthday!!!!!

Of course there were lots of hugs to share! 

After we came to grips with our sweet girl being 14 year old *sniff* and said a sad farewell to Poppa and Grammy, we got serious about contest preparation.

Well, I tried to get serious, but by that point our computer wasn't working and all of the research I hoped to do before we left didn't get done.  I did practice grilling my burgers though, and had our new neighbors over to taste test and critique them for me.  I made a few method changes to eliminate a soggy bun problem I was having, and gained more confidence as I practiced my recipe!

Storyteller was in sausage heaven ...
'I wish we could have Johnsonville Brat Burgers every night Mama!"

So the rhythm continued with school, AWANA, church, ballet, baseball, piano and everyday life along with helping our new neighbors unpack, learning how to grill and muddling our way through the carry on luggage regulations for air travel. 

With just a smattering of nervous anxiety and a bit of worry along with 
a trifle of sheer terror thrown in for good measure. 

And lots of prayer.

Oh, and the little matter of our 

20th Wedding Anniversary
 and if that's not the craziest thing I've ever heard, I don't know what is because I am almost sure it was just a few years ago that we were dating ...

God is so good ... our journey has been so challenging, but God has been faithful, 
and we have learned to trust Him.
Our love has endured the tests of time, and it is sweeter for it! 

We didn't do a single thing to celebrate because it was time to pack up and go!

Dreamer and I got on an airplane and traveled to Bentonville Arkansas! Two planes actually - what a ride! Dreamer has decided against pursuing a career as a flight attendant, and I, well, I was just happy that the feeling to my hand was restored after each take off and landing! 
Dreamer was ghastly pale, but brave - I was so proud of her.  

I don't know what to say about the contest - it was just an amazing experience and nothing like I have ever done before!  It was amazingly well organized and they just overwhelmed us with thoughtful Johnsonville goodie bags and perfectly lovely accommodations! We met some really important business people and of course the other contestants and their travel companions. We really enjoyed our trip and we both had so much fun! My recipe didn’t win, but we were given wonderful consolation prizes.

I am the type of gal who either hides in the kitchen or holds up the wall at parties, so it was such a huge stretch for me to be up front talking about my recipe in front of strangers and cooking in front of so many cameras on the HUGE Big Taste Grill! I was terribly nervous but determined that I would just do my best and enjoy the experience – and I did! 

The hardest part of the whole experience was getting up at 5 am to start the food prep and grilling outside in the cold darkness of the WalMart headquarters parking lot in the early morning! We could hardly see what we were doing, and I could barely think for being so cold and nervous! I think I got a sun tan from the camera flashes, and I am totally not comfortable in front of a camera! I didn't burn my burgers and the judges seemed to really like my recipe, though I felt sorry for them having to taste test Brat burgers and Italian sausage burgers at 8:30 AM! They didn't seem to mind at all.

The funniest part of this is that both of our children have caught the ‘contest bug’ and want me to enter every recipe contest they find online! I am not so sure … but I do know that I’ve learned a lot and wouldn’t be quite so scared another time! As in everything, we saw God’s provision and care in giving me the courage, strength and relatively good health to travel to the contest, to participate and then to get on home! It was a blessing and quite a memorable experience for Dreamer and I!

Now we are home again and back into routine - though I sort of lost last week. We muddled through school but I think my old whiplash injury from our hit-and-run rear-ending a few years ago was aggravated by our final landing - the landing was smooth enough but the pilot had to really lay on the brakes and we all kissed the seats in front of us briefly!Ouch!

Last weekend I over did it a bit and put the whole garden to bed in one day! I was so thankful to be able to do it that I pushed too hard and by Sunday morning I almost couldn't get up the stairs at church! 
I know - crazy!

Tomorrow the guys are headed to Man Camp with the men and boys from church! 
It should be a great time, but I am afraid it will be very very cold!
Dreamer has soccer on Saturday, and I am planning on some more fall housecleaning!

It's so good to be back and back online - lots of catching up to do, but it will all get done ... eventually!

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  1. Heather! Congratulations - on being chosen for the burger contest and for your 20th anniversary! You've had quite the exciting week. :) Thank you for sharing it with us! I thoroughly enjoy your writing. Have a blessed day.

  2. I loved reading about your adventures as a contestant at the Burger cookoff. Thank you for letting us all share in the excitement, just wish we were the judges. Bet you'd have won, then!!

  3. What fun that you got to cook in a contest!!! And how nice that you and Dreamer could go together. I'm sure it will be a fun memory. Glad to catch up a bit on your lives. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


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