Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Yup, I'm late. and yup, I've been a terrible blogger.  Maybe my cute little snow dog and a pretty decent picture of me & B will make up for it?

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Good Stuff: November

Another month down. One to go for 2010. Seriously, where does the time go?
  • Re-connections - I had been feeling pretty awful about myself lately for my lack of contact with a lot of people.  Not talking to the people you spent almost every moment with for four years in college is weird. And yes, I've been out of school for a while now, but it was really starting to bug me.  So, I've been working to make more phone calls, send more emails, and set specific plans.  It's been great to talk to some of my best girlfriends more regularly, and even see, or plan to see, a few of them :)
  • Engagements - I guess I missed the memo that November is the month to get engaged.  Two of my best girlfriends from college got engaged in the last two weeks. The three of us all started dating our significant others around the same time and I've been anxiously awaiting them to join me in the old married woman category.  They're both planning weddings for this upcoming summer, which means lots of girl time in my near future with showers, and bachelorette parties, etc etc etc.
  • Christmas Decorations - I know, this is about November, not December.  But who doesn't break out their Christmas decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving?!  Yup, our stockings are already hung, and the garland has been strung!
  • Thanksgiving - I didn't do a whole post on Thanksgiving.  My apologies.  I was busy spending time with family and friends :)  It's a fantastic holiday that is all about spending time together and being thankful.  No worries about shopping and presents.  Just good quality family time.
  • Planet Fitness - So I joined Planet Fitness.  I have joined, and re-joined Gold's Gym multiple times, and back in the day was a member of the YMCA.  The Y had too many pre-teens, and Gold's had too many 'body builders'. So far, I am extremely happy with PF.  Neither of the aforementioned groups frequent PF, and although there's also the old ladies that think walking around naked in the locker room is acceptable, its been my kind of place.  They don't have group fitness classes, which is really the only drawback I've found.  Plenty of cardio and weight machines, plenty of TVs, and my location is fairly new which means its clean and things still work!  They also have a 30 minute express workout area, which includes weight machines alternated with cardio - which in this case is a step.  It's great for a quick in and out, and makes me feel like I got a real workout.  It's not too expensive (19.99/month) and I can go to any location (ANY), bring a guest with me whenever I want for no charge, and I get unlimited tanning and haircuts (the first of which I don't ever do, and the second is just a little weird).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kitchen Renovation: Let There Be Light!!

Bet you didn't expect a kitchen update from me, did ya?

Yea, it's been a while.  But a few weeks ago, the lighting situation was completed.

First, you may recall the old chandelier:

Awful huh?  Well, I like to think this is much better:

Yea, that's better.  When we did all our shopping for the kitchen, we also purchased some pendent lights to hang over the island.  It was a busy summer and we hadn't gotten around to getting them installed.  But, they have finally been hung!

Here's the (messy) before.

And, although not quite the same angle I think you can still get the idea, the after:

Finished the room off, don't you think?

I have a plan to paint the kitchen before Christmas, at which point I'll also clean it and have a whole bunch of final pictures (hopefully).  Of course, the cabinets still need to be straightened and the slow close thingys still need to be put on.  But, one thing at a time...not like we've been working on this since... ya know, MAY, or anything.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I'm alive. Life is good.  I've got lots to say and update.

And I'll get to it, I swear!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Freedom Don't Come Free

I honestly do not have the words to properly honor those who have served this country.  I appreciate and admire each and every one of you, not just today, but everyday.

*And I will always do my duty no matter what the price

I’ve counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice

Oh and I don’t want to die for you, but if dyin’s asked of me
I’ll bear that cross with honor, cause freedom don’t come free.

I’m an American Soldier an American

Beside my brothers and my sisters, I will proudly take a stand
When liberty’s in jeopardy, I will always do what’s right

I’m out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight

American Soldier, I’m an American, Soldier.*

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mistaken Identity

Anyone ever had their identity stolen?

Well, this story is probably nothing like that.

Apparently there is another person running around with the same first, middle, and last name as B.  It was a little funny at first, the day I came home to a country sheriff in the driveway, attempting to serve him a subpoena for a lawsuit involved a company he's never heard of.  B kindly informed the sheriff that he had never even heard of the company that was supposedly suing him.  Checking the paperwork, the sheriff admitted that B does not in fact look 45, and that was that.

This was 2 years ago, just after the last elections.  And we mostly let it go.

Then there was the time we thought a friend was playing a joke on us when a conservation officer showed up to question him about a deer he had checked in, since he supposedly checked one in a few towns over around the same time.  Strange.

That was last fall.

Late summer I came home from work to a very angry voicemail from an older lady, demanding we pay her husband for the entertainment he provided at our event.  Uh.... I called her back and she was nasty to me at first, as I was asking questions about who her husband is and what event it was that she was speaking of.  See, this guy happens to part of a political group, which can easily be discovered via Google.  And I recognized the name of the group from previous research I'd attempted on this deadbeat.  I explained there's another guy with the same name and it was not my husband she was looking for.  She told me that was the only number information gave her. (Apparently Google is beyond her, because the first hit is NOT us.)

A few weeks ago, we received a bill in the mail. From a printing company.  For over $400.  Associated with that political group. Again.  B called and left a message for the printing company, but they never called back.  Which was too bad, because I'd like to know if he gave them our address, or if they found it through public records.

But no folks, that is not all.

Yesterday, B showed up at the polls, prepared to exercise his right to vote.  And was promptly informed, he had already done so.

Excuse me?

Once again, situation explained, they said they would take care of it and let him vote anyway. Which, itself seems a little ridiculous, because he SO could have lied. (He didn't, and wouldn't, but they don't know that.)    But what the heck?! When I voted earlier in the day, they asked me to confirm my address.  He heard them say "Oh maybe we should verify the addresses."

So, we once again have no idea if this guy is using our address, or if people just keep assuming he is B.  First issue, what the heck do we do now!?!  I ran both our credit yesterday, and thankfully, nothing was out of place.  But I don't exactly want to sit around and wait for it to happen.  We have considered going to the police, but I don't know if he's actually done anything illegal (at least against us) or if other people keep screwing up.  For now, I guess we wait.  Maybe try and get ahold of this printing company again. I don't know.

Second issue, who the heck decided there is no verification necessary for voting?  I was asked my address.  I also filled out a new voter registration for changing my name.  Which required no verification whatsoever. I know other people were provided their address and asked if it was correct.  And B? Well, he wasn't asked anything besides his name.  Doesn't something about that seem wrong?  I can't talk to a customer service representative about my cable bill without answering 15 questions, but cast a vote for the leadership of our country and no one thinks it might be a good idea to take a peak at a license?

I sincerely hope this is the end of it. But something tells me it's just getting started...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Good Stuff: October

Another month already? Sheesh.

  • Birthdays - I know way too many people born in October it seems.  Most notably, my darling husband.  We had some friends over and some "fancy" pizza to celebrate.  Always a good time.
  • 10Ks - Yes, that is plural.  As my last few posts have mentioned, I ran 2 10Ks in the month of October.  I'm thoroughly impressed with myself for pulling off one, nevermind doing better by over 4 minutes in the second one with minimal training.  I will still not call myself a runner.  But I will admit, I am capable of running.  And apparently I'm capable of running 6.2 miles without stopping. Who knew?
  • Down Comforters - It's fall.  Which means I've broken out the down comforter again.  And purchased a nice new duvet cover (for 19.99 at Target! Amazing!).  I am a happy camper (sleeper) these days.
  • Overtime - Maybe I should say Overtime Pay.  Overtime itself is not so great, as it means I'm spending time at work, when I could be at home doing other things.  But, time and a half is pretty sweet, and makes me grateful to be an hourly employee.  It also makes me feel like I can shop more (which may or may not be true) kind of like how you justify eating that extra piece of cake after going to the gym.
  • Midterms - Uh I know, I'm stretching it.  Midterms themselves are not good.  The fact that they're over now, and I'm more than halfway through this term IS in fact good though.  So go with it.  I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel... June 2011 can't come soon enough (at least as far as school goes...)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

10K Race Report: Santa Fund Run 10/31/10

10K Race #2: Completed.

The Santa Fund is a charity run by our local newspaper that works "to give area needy children a happy holiday."  Who can argue with that?  The Santa Fund Run is the kickoff to the fundraising season and for the first time I was a participant.

Almost immediately after the first 10K, C suggested we do another.  So just a few weeks later, we arrived at a local high school and lined up on the track for our second race.

I felt incredibly unprepared for this race.  After the first one, back on the 10th, I didn't run for a week.  And then I only half heartedlt trained for the next two weeks, the last few days of which were on the treadmill at the gym I joined (story for another day).  I was nervous and had low expectations of myself.

I had a serious issue deciding what to wear, changing my shirt at the car when we arrived, but it turned out to the be perfect day for some running capris and a long sleeve tech shirt.  This was a much, much bigger race than the Pumpkin Festival.  There were over 500 people running between the 5K and the 10K.  And lining up on the track with all of them was a little overwhelming.  Just getting across the finish line was a challenge, so many people funneling through.

The first mile flew by.  I was running with C, and my college roommate aka Spaz.  We were dodging in and out of people, trying to find a comfortable pace.  For the next few miles the race was on wooded trails along the river, which is really pretty this time of year.  I evened out my pace pretty early and felt strong through a majority of the race.  It helped that it was mostly flat too.

At mile four we ran through a back parking lot in the "millyard" and continued on a paved trail back through the park.  My knees weren't quite ready for that pavement.  There was a slight... and I mean slight and short, decline, and I wasn't totally confident both my knees wouldn't buckle completely.  But they didn't.

Mile five was spent telling myself I did not need to walk and to just keep going.  I followed behind a woman going about the same pace and tried to space out to my music.  At mile 6 my knees wanted to be done. Totally and completely done.  But I was soooo close.

And then Spaz and her boyfriend popped out and started cheering for me. (They had run the 5k). Fine.

I hit the track and gave it everything I had left.


To refresh your memory, the last one was 1:07:17. That's what... 4 minutes and 22 seconds faster?  Something like that.


C also had a PR (personal record) cutting her time by around 30 seconds.
Spaz had a PR in her 5K, which is also awesome.
Oh, and Spaz's boyfriend won his age group in the 5K.

Yea, he's good.

I had a good time, and surprising felt really good through most of it.  Just have to figure out what to do with these knees... they seem to be acting twice their age, and it's getting old...

Next scheduled challenge? PR the 5K on Thanksgiving.  "Training" to begin as soon as my knees stop aching.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10-10-10: 10K Race Report

I'm only a few days behind on my posts, no biggie.

Anyway, 10-10-10 was the big day. The one we spent 2 months training for - 10K Day!!!  The race was held in conjunction with our town's annual Pumpkin Festival and included both a 5K and 10K.

I made sure to get everything ready the night before, and get to bed at a decent hour - since the race started at 9. C and I drove to the high school to pick up our numbers together, and then had some serious time to kill.  We walked around the track a few times, stretched, and tried not to psych ourselves out with the fairly fit people walking around.

There was a significantly smaller number of runners for the 10K, but as my friend K says, that's because 10Ks are the worst distance and no one likes them. Figures.  We started near the back and let a majority of the pack go out ahead of us.  No use tiring ourselves out in the first half mile.

Frankly, we both felt like crap.  We kept a steady pace and were keeping up with a couple in front of us for a while, but lost them around a turn at one point.  And then there was this young girl, maybe 12, who was running the 5K and would go really slow right up until we were about to pass her, and then she'd take off.  She did this for about 10 minutes until I decided I couldn't take it anymore and sprinted by her. On a hill.  Poor decision.

By the time we split off from the 5K group, which was around 3 miles for us, I was seriously wishing we had run the 5K.  As we ran by the track, and woman started flailing her arms and whipped out her camera.

(All photo credit to my awesome mom)

I was not nearly as happy as this picture portrays me to be.  But seeing my parents did put a smile on my face and gave me a decent push to keep going.  The next mile was pretty awful.  About half of it was downhill and then flat, but then it was up, up, and then straight up.  My strategy in these cases is to put my head down, and turn my legs over as fast as I can, because otherwise, I won't make it.

The woman holding the sign at the top of the hill to turn was bubbly and encouraging, even though we knew we were the very back of the pack.  There was only one woman behind us.  Once my knees survived the steep downhill, I hit my stride.  Apparently my ipod knew just what I needed:

For whatever reason, this is my current favorite running song.  No idea, don't ask.  And it gave me the push I needed. For exactly the next mile and a half.  With about 3/4s of a mile left, there's a some short, but steep, uphill on the sidewalk.  I was able to run up it, but then was pretty sure I was going to throw up.  So there was some walking involved.

But then, I saw a person in front of me. Crap. My competitiveness got the best of me and I decided she needed to be passed.  The last half mile or so wraps around the middle school, and the takes you down this hill of drainage rocks - which I thought was just plain mean - and then across the field and back onto the track. About halfway across the field the woman who was in front of me and I were right next to each other. We exchanged a few encouraging words and I continued past.

So at this point, I just want to stop. Lay down. And take a nap. But you've gotta go around the stupid track.  And all the little high schoolers that had finished their 5K probably like, a half hour ago, were loitering around in the center field, and migrating ONTO THE TRACK.  Hi, please move, I'm freakin' tired get out of my way kthanks.

The announcer comes on and says "Here comes S - coming in strong! This is her very first 10K, great job!"  So my mom used to work for the middle school in town, and my stepdad for the school district - so they knew the announcer and had him throw in the part about it being my first 10K.  Sweet.

Much more accurate representation of how I was feeling.

Coming in, I could see the time.  I wasn't thrilled, but it was better than I thought.  See, even though I had "gotten everything ready the night before" I still forgot my watch.  So I wasn't sure were I was at.  About Mile 5 my playlist ended, and I have an approximate idea of how long it is, so I had estimated how I was doing.  At this point, I was just glad to be done, and not last.  (39 out of 42 isn't that bad right!? haha)

Official Time: 1:07:17 (Mom was a little early on the picture)

Good enough to be proud of, with enough room to improve.  Which is hopefully exactly what I'll do this weekend.

Oh, did I not mention we're crazy and are running another 10K on Halloween? Yup. With not nearly enough training having been done in between the two.

And I've also signed up for a 5K on Thanksgiving.  And have half committed to a 5K next weekend too.  Who am I?!!?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Anniversary Adventure

We're not very traditional about some stuff.  We opted out of the common beach or island vacation for our honeymoon and went to Glacier National Park for a week, and then spent a week at a dude ranch, riding horses, hiking, etc. - and it was "wine week", so we drank *alot* of wine as well.

And it was awesome.

For our first anniversary, we decided not to go away or anything for the weekend, and stick around locally.  Our actual anniversary was Sunday the 5th, but Saturday we traveled about an hour away to the Nashoba Valley Winery.  For only seven bucks a piece, we got a tour, a souvenir glass, and 4 tastings during the tour, with two additional ones of our choice after.  If you're looking for a fun date, I suggest checking out a local winery.  We left only buying two bottles, but if it had been up to me, we would have bought a lot more :)

We finished up the day with dinner at a nice restaurant in our town (although we weren't overly impressed with service).

The next morning, on our actual anniversary, B woke up early, apparently to go finish up some shopping (men!). I was instructed I was not to leave the bedroom. Hmm...  eventually, I was able to exit the bedroom, and found this in the kitchen:

A dozen red roses, and yes, a Lightening McQueen toy car.

I won't call it our first date, but it was the first night we stayed up and talked until 3 in the morning, and Cars was on.  I always call it "our movie".  Life is a Highway (the Rascal Flatts version) from the movie was the song the wedding party walked into at our wedding.  So yea, it's like our thing.  Don't judge.  Anyway, on the back of Lightening McQueen was a note that instructed me to go to the basement and look under the stairs.

Now, I don't think I've shown you any recent pictures of our basement.  But let's just say, since the kitchen was redone, it quite literally looks like a bomb went off.  Wires, ceiling tiles, insulation, etc everywhere.  So, I wasn't thrilled to have to go in that room, but I did it.  Hiding down there under the stairs?

A brand spankin' new 32 inch flat screen LCD TV.

We've been talking about getting a TV for the bedroom for a long time.  So this was a very welcome surprise!  Which I'm lucky I even got.  See, Friday I was at work and went into the purse to grab something and pulled out a set of keys.  And then another one.  I had taken B's keys when I left for work.  Luckily he works from home on Fridays.  Unluckily, he had been planning to finish his shopping.  He ended getting to spend some quality time with my mom who took him to the store, so it all worked out :)

What did I get him, you ask?  Well, I'm a little more traditional - or at least tend to be more creative when I have a theme.  The traditional 1st wedding gift: paper.  The "modern" 1st wedding gift: clock.

I ordered custom made coasters with maps (paper!) of some important towns in our relationship: where we currently live, where we went to school (and met), where the wedding was held, and Glacier National Park where we went for the honeymoon.  I also got him a "hunting" watch that has things like sunrise and sunset, vital information for a hunter.

Eventually we hit the road and headed up north where we took a tram ride (kind of like a gondola, but bigger) up to the top of Canon Mountain - a place where we skied together in the first few months of our relationship.  It was early September but had still be summer-y out.  I had one a sweatshirt and shorts.  Well, it wasn't quite so summer-y at the top of the mountain.  More like something like 35 degrees.  And windy.

Oh well.  There was a great view, and it was a neat experience, as B had never been up the tram before.

We grabbed lunch at the top of the mountain - which was surprisingly tasty - and then headed to "The Flume" which is pretty much a big gorge with wooden walkways.  I can remember going when I was little, and reminded us of some of the incredible sights we saw in Glacier last year.  There was even a glacial boulder!

It was a fun little date day.  And course there was this giant moose in the gift shop area:

We got home mid afternoon and after taking a look at the corner of the bedroom, we decided it needed another addition.

So, we headed out to Lowe's, then Home Depot for some price comparisons, and ended purchasing ourselves a nice little electric fireplace for the corner of the bedroom.  A great way to spruce up the room while providing a better solution for the TV.  AND, its been really helpful in keeping the bedroom warm, without having to turn on the whole house heat.

We finished up the night with some, surprisingly really good, year old wedding cake and some delicious wine.

It was the perfect, not too expensive, first anniversary celebration.  The next day, which was Labor Day, we both had off and headed up to my grandparents lake house to see my Nana for her birthday which was a few days earlier, and help get the camp closed up for the summer.  When we got home, some friends stopped by for an impromptu BBQ.  I couldn't have imagined a better weekend.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Good Stuff: September

  • Our Anniversary.  I have a whole post half finished devoted to what we did on our anniversary (which was, ya know, a whole MONTH ago now... yea.) so I won't say much about it now.  But it was awesome, although it feels totally crazy that its been over a year we've been married.
  • DD Pumpkin Coffee. How did I miss this last year? SERIOUSLY! So good. Addictive. And even though we only just recently started having what feel like actual fall days, its the absolutely perfect start to the day. Or midday treat. Or pick me up before night class. You get the idea. It's good anytime. I like it hot. But they have iced too.
  • Football.  I love football.  More specifically, I love the New England Patriots. Despite Tom Brady's current hair cut.
  • Old Friends.  There's nothing like reminiscing with two of the people who have known you the longest, and still know you the best.  Love them, and grateful the three of us got to hang out for bit Labor Day weekend.
  • And um THIS SONG.  I love it. It gets stuck in my head. I had to hear it SO BAD the other day on the way to class that I YouTube'd it on my cell phone in the car. (Yea, I know Mom, that's not safe, sorry.)  It's amazing, and reminds me how awesome Keith Urban really is. (There's a video out... but I couldn't find it on YouTube.)

What wasn't so good in the month of September?  My blogging.  I've realized that many days the last thing I want to do when I get home from work, after sitting in front of a computer all day, is to sit in front of the computer - sorry.  But, like I said, I've got a half written anniversary post, as well as some others, and have done some sprucing up around the house I'd love to share :) So, hopefully I can get myself back on track!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Don't Ask Me How I Know: Memory Cards

If you're going somewhere that you'd like to take pictures... like a wedding, a party, some sort of adventure... you'll remember to charge the camera.

But, remember to check to make there's a memory card in there.

Especially if you have a husband who likes to take your camera into the woods to check his game camera.

Because if you don't, you might go to take a picture of your friend at her surprise anniversary party...

And realize you don't have a memory card.

But you're in luck! You brought the back up camera!

Oh wait... someone took the memory card out of there too...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never Forget.

I don't remember many days from 9 years ago vividly.  I bet you don't either.  But, 9 years ago today is etched in my mind, and I'm willing to bet, yours too, and will be forever.

It was a few weeks into my junior year of high school.  I was in Ethics class with probably 15 other people, when a guy from our class, who had been researching in the library, threw open the door and said that a plane had crashed into a building in New York.  We all sort of looked around, probably not thinking much of it, but our teacher was able to bring a TV in, and just as it was turned on, the second plane hit.

Another class came in to watch.  We watched, whispered to each other, and tried to understand what was happening.  There was a line outside the main office, students and teachers making phone calls to loved ones.  Our class schedule continued as usual, switching rooms every period, but all the could be heard was the shuffling of feet and occasional whispers in the halls.  At some point during the day, screaming and crying could be heard, and any of us that experienced it, know it still sends chills up our spine.  The second plane was a flight out of Boston, only 40 minutes from our school.  The pilot was a father of two girls at our school, and they were just finding out he had made his last flight.

Living close to Boston, and also Manchester, NH, both of which have large international airports, and having a small airport in our town, the constant hum of planes and their presence in the sky was just part of life.  On September 11, 2001, gym class was still held outside.  We didn't do much.  Most of us stared at the cloudless, beautiful sky, that did not hold a single airplane.

One teacher tried to get us to take a test.  Every.single.person. in class refused.

Soccer games were cancelled.  Many of us didn't want to go home to empty houses while our parents were still at work.  No one wanted to be alone.

It's been 9 years, but everyone I know can still recite almost every motion they took that day.  And I don't doubt we'll all still be able to do so for the rest of our lives.

Take a moment today, forget about the war. Forget about the controversies.  Forget about the hate, the violence, the fear.  Forget about political parties, religions, and differences.  And remember where you were.  

Remember those we lost.  Remember those who willingly risked everything, and those who lost everything.  Remember the innocent.  Remember the heroes whose stories will never be told.  Remember the families forever altered.  Remember those who are still fighting.  

And remember how people came together.  Remember how you felt to be an American.  Remember the patriotism.  Remember the tears that would well up in your eyes when you saw a convoy of fire trucks returning home, covered in American flags.  Remember.

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time.
None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wedding: Reliving a Year Ago

September 5, 2009: The day I married the man of my dreams, my best friend, and the only person who can make me laugh through tears.

This is going to be picture heavy, and narration light.  I have a heard time picking my favorite pictures, because with over 800 professional photos, and probably thousands from friends and family... I love them all. It feels like almost every moment was captured, and I couldn't be happier about that.  So enjoy the wedding eye candy.

(All photos credited to Whitney of emilie inc.)

My bouquet was gladiolus, and other stuff I can't really remember. Non-traditional, loved it. Our rings are white gold.

Must have for my dress: Corset Back.

Lady bugs are lucky, in case you didn't know. This one landed on me within minutes of leaving the church...

We love our bridal party.  So much.  Family and friends we can't imagine our lives without.

Custom painted unity candle with a quote from our first dance song.


I love this picture. And I love my grandpa, so much.

Freakin' beautiful huh?  I could bore you with the details of the florist dilemma when they didn't arrive at the church on time.  Or how the organist didn't arrive until 5 minutes before the ceremony, not 30 like he was supposed to.  And I could fill this post with even more pictures, easily.  But this is all you get for now.

We're thoroughly enjoying our anniversary and will be sure to share our adventures in the next few days :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wedding: Rehearsal Day

The three days leading up to our wedding were probably three of the craziest days of my life.  Last minute phone calls, airport and bus pickups, confirmations, getting directions out, making sure the men actually got their tuxs.... I totally get the bridezilla thing.

The Wednesday before the wedding my (5-months pregnant) sister arrived with her husband and then 3.5 year old and 1.5 year old.  The Thursday before the wedding my maid of honor arrived via bus, after flying in from Mississippi. (For the second time in two weeks - the weekend prior was my bachelorette party - such a trooper she is!!)  The day before the wedding, I woke up pretty early, to find my brother, his girlfriend, and their 1.5 year old in our driveway.  Yes, all of these people stayed at my house.  I'm crazy.

I rushed to drop M off at doggie daycare, where she would be boarded until Sunday.  I hated her being boarded, but she really wouldn't have gotten NO attention in my house, or my parents house.  It was better for her this way.  We then wrangled everyone into cars and headed down to where the reception was going to be.  The tent had been put up on Wednesday, and Thursday we moved some tables and put out the chairs, etc etc.

Some point later my sister - the matron of honor, and my maid of honor headed back up towards my house for a nail appointment I had made for a few of us.  We relaxed, got pampered for a little bit, and our fingernails were done.  And we waited.  and waited.  And finally realized they didn't intend to give us pedicures.  BUT they were nice enough to call another place in the area for us, and we headed to the bank quick and then to the other salon.  When we arrived at the next salon, we were promptly informed by a very agitated Asian man that we were late and he lost business because he was waiting for us and now he couldn't help us.

So, I will proudly say, that I got my wedding pedicure at no place other than Wal-Mart.  I have no shame.  But whatever, I think they did a pretty darn good job, don't you?

(photo credit to C&J Photography)

Of course, by the time we were done and got back to the house, there were like 20 people in my kitchen. Uh, you've all seen my kitchen, its not that big.  Also, it was like 100 degrees in there.  Not.Cool.  This is about when I started to freak.  I had checks to write and make sure we brought.  I have bridesmaids and grooms-mens gifts to organize.  And we had to be at the church in ooooo 20 minutes?

Anyway, the rehearsal went well, everyone was mostly focused.  And we didn't cry. Although I must admit its a lot more intense than I expected.  My favorite last minute decision: Once the bridal party was done their entrance, I wanted to doors closed before I came in.  And who better to close and open the doors than my amazing brother and brother in law?!  PERFECT!  So, they were the doormen.

The rest of the day went off pretty much without a hitch.  Yummy dinner at a local place near our house, B and I said our goodbyes and each headed to our parents for the night (leaving my brother and sister and their families at our house).

I tried not to stay up too late with the girls (we had a sleepover at my parents) and fell asleep surprisingly easy, for it being the night before one of the biggest and best days of my life...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

And The Tent Was Up

A year ago today, I watched this beauty get put up.

White Sailcloth.  Totally awesome.

It was the start of one of the best weekends of weather of the year, and oh yea, our wedding weekend.

Stay tuned. :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Good Stuff: August

I'm still in disbelief that it's already September.  I mean, I still feel like it's July, how did August just skip on right by?  Despite what felt like an extremely short month, there is definitely some Good Stuff to share.
  • Concerts.  Particularly country concerts.  On August 13th we attended the Brooks & Dunn: Last Rodeo tour.  It was supposed to be in June, and was a Mother's Day present I got for my mom, but got postponed due to Dunn being sick.  Although we could tell that he still wasn't feeling 100%, they put on an awesome show.  And it's their last tour as a duo.  So I'm pretty psyched we got to see them.

I'm a total sucker for concerts, and really wish we had the time and money to go to more.  I'm always keep my eyes peeled for shows in the area.
  • Finishing School.  Ok, so that's an exaggeration.  I finished the summer term.  And one of my master's degrees, Master's in Operations and Project Management.  I've still got 4 more classes to go until I have my MBA, but it's nice to have one under my belt, and to be soooo close to the end.  Also, it doesn't hurt that I have the next few weeks off.  And that I got an A.  But really, June 2011 can't come soon enough!
  • BBQs. We had a BBQ at our house with friends this month, something we hadn't done all summer.  I mean, what's better than breaking out the grill, having a few beers, and playing ladder ball with a few of your favorite people?  I'll tell you.  All of that, plus gummy worms soaked in coconut rum. Uh, yea. Delish. And dangerous.
  • Finding New Music.  It's been a long time since I've fallen for an artist I've never heard of before.  But, it happened.  At work, when the ipod is dead or I forget it, I'll listen to Yahoo! or AOL radio, and usually tune it to New Country, since I feel like any of the other country ones have all the same music I hear all the time.  And I heard a couple of songs from Brantley Gilbert.  Well, feeling impulsive, and ignoring the fact that maybe he should consider changing his last name, I came home and listened to some snippets on iTunes, and then coughed up the $9.99 for "Halfway to Heaven".  100% worth it.  Might even buy the other album.
  • This Picture.

I rarely have pictures of myself, since out of myself and B I'm the "photographer", and even when I do happen to get in a shot, I don't usually like it.  Our friend snapped this one at a wedding (congrats H&D!) and shockingly, we both look pretty good.  LOVE it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Foodie Friday: Sweet & Sour Chicken

*As this is a more complicated meal than the Salsa Turkey Burgers, I feel the need to remind everyone that I do not in fact have any idea how to cook.  I scrap by, making it up as I go along.  I do not know the proper terms for hardly anything, and I am the definition of Learning As You Go.  And I will write this recipe in the exact fashion that I try and do that, and in a way that probably anyone, could follow. Enjoy.*

This is probably the most complex meal I have ever made. And for most people, it's probably really easy.  We have it every week to two weeks.  It's pretty incredible that just by putting some stuff together I can create something that tastes so darn good.  We've made it for friends and family, and I've shared the recipe with co-workers who loved it as well.

So, here's a rough ingredient list:
  • 1 lb. boneless and skinless chicken breast
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup green bell pepper strips
  • 1 cup red bell pepper strips
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/4 cup Kikkoman lite soy sauce
  • 1 8-oz. can chunk pineapple
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Seems like alot right? It's really not bad.  This is what was listed on the original that I found when I discovered how to make this.  Now, a few modifications I make... I buy almost exclusively green peppers.  They're cheaper. I have no idea why and don't really know what the difference is.  It's way more fun to have the red in there too (and maybe go crazy and get a YELLOW pepper!), but, I'm totally cool with a little less flare for a little less $$. 

I also always buy the crushed pineapple.  I did it the first time by accident, but I've loved it that way since.  If you want more...chewing? I'm sure it would taste just as great with the chunk, or any other version you find.  All personal preference.

Also, I've never once used ground ginger. I don't own any, and I tend to not buy spices I don't think I'll use alot, cause those things are expennnnsive.

I start by "cubing" the chicken. And there may be a proper cubing technique out there, but for me, it just means cutting it into bite(ish) size pieces.  I buy, pretty much exclusively, Perdue Chicken Breasts, and since I buy multiple packages of said chicken (as well as our beef and ground turkey) when they have 2 for 1 sales, sometimes, the chicken is frozen when I cut it.  Yes, I know what defrosting is, and I take it out of the freezer the morning of and leave it in the fridge, but it's still pretty solid by the time I get home. (There is no where in the house I would feel safe leaving it out with M running around by herself all day...imagine the massacre!)  Easier to cut frozen, takes a little longer to cook.  Whatevs.

"Brown" those cubes up in pan with some olive oil.  You can measure the oil if you want to be precise. I used to. I've gotten lazy and just drizzle it on. *shrug* (but not too much)  And by "brown" its really "whiten" with some hints of brown, when you don't mix it up to get all the sides cooked fast enough.

While the chicken is "browning", I chop up my veggies, moving the chicken around on occasion.  Once the chicken is "browned" I put it on really low heat, just to keep it warm, and saute the onions and peppers - in a different pan.  Which is, for me, pouring a little oil on them and enjoying that sizzling sound, again mixing them around so they don't get burned or anything.

While the veggies are sizzling, I gather up my ingredients, and mix the cornstarch and soy sauce.  Don't let it sit too long, cause it starts to look funny.  Once you feel like the veggies have sizzled alone long enough, move the chicken into that pan.  Add the cornstarch/soy sauce mixture, the brown sugar, vinegar, garlic powder, pineapple (with juice) and the ginger if you're using it and mix it all up til the chicken and veggies seem like they're pretty well coated.

Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to low (or if you have a fancy schmansy cook top like, get some use out of your "simmer" setting) and let stand for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce thickens. You'll be able to tell.

While it's simmering, I typically cook up some Minute Brown Rice as well to serve it over.  And do the dishes.  Favorite part of this meal... makes me feel like I can get the dishes almost all done before we even eat. Awesome.

I promise, it may sound complicated, but if I can do this, on a regular basis, its easy.  OH and the best part, it's pretty darn healthy :)

If you prefer more straight to the point, not quite so rambling directions, you can check out the recipe here: Sweet & Sour Chicken.

Try it, you might like it. :)  And come back and let me know how it went and if it made you feel like a real chef!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Running... a 10K?!

So, I still won't call myself a runner.

But I'm in training for another race.  My neighbor, good friend, and morning running buddy, C, and I decided that we wanted to set a goal, rather than just run for the heck of it.  So here we are, in week 2 of 10K training.

That sounds so far, doesn't it? 10K. It's twice as far as a 5K! A total of 6.2 miles.  Now, if anyone reading this is like, a real runner, yea I know, you probably knock out 6 miles on a random Tuesday in bare feet. With your eyes closed. Whatever. I think it's far, and more importantly, an achievable, yet challenging goal.

We're following the 10K Training: Novice program from Hal Higdon.  My friends who are training for a marathon (yes, they are crazy) are using one of his programs, and it looked simple enough, so here we are.  So far, so good. It's not JUST running, so its nice to mix it up and little and be *forced* into some strength training, since I otherwise always say I'm going  to, but then never do.

My awesome shoes are still... awesome.  And I've added some sweet bling to my work out attire.  Since it's still pretty dark these days at 5:45am (omg so early), and it's been raining this week making it even darker, I'm trying stay safe and have been wearing two of these bad boys:

(No, that's not me. Image taken from the website. I purchased mine at Sports Authority)

I've been putting one on a wrist and one on an ankle.  It was annoying to have one on my wrist with my watch... but this morning the one of my ankle was acting up and being all pinchy, so back to the wrist it was.  As it cools down I plan to get myself a running jacket that is even more reflective, but, these work for now.

Anyway, the 10K is October 10th - the weekend of our town's annual Pumpkin Festival.  Of course its Sunday morning, when they have a beer tasting on Saturday night... figures.

This Friday or Saturday is our first real "long" run - 3.5 miles - which should be interesting.  For the most part I'm enjoying myself so far... even tho the four letter words in my vocabulary have been getting a workout.

I've got a delicious (and healthy!) recipe coming up on Friday, and hopefully will be able to get caught up on all the stuff I've been wanting to share since I turned in my last paper of the term for grad school tonight!! Ooooh I'm going to enjoy this month off before the next term starts...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bathroom Organization

I am the last person in the world that should be giving out organization tips.  Anyone that has ever lived with me would attest to that.  I am a messy, messy person.  In my blog travels I've tried to be inspired, tried to get organized once and for all.  Cause I mean, I want to.  I really do.  But UGH, its so hard, and boring.  And there are so many *other* things I'd like to do with my time.

So maybe, I'm actually the best person to give tips. Because if it works for me, It.Will.Work.For.Anyone.I.Promise.

My new favorite thing? (If you couldn't tell from the dead space post with the new book shelf...) is BASKETS!  Freakin' fantastic creations.  Because they give the illusion of organization, but really, you can just throw everything in there if you have to.  And no one is the wiser.  So far it's worked well for the bookcase, as its helped keep clutter to a minimum on the kitchen counter.  But it's also been a godsend in my bathroom.

For whatever reason, after driving 18 hours straight back from Wisconsin and taking a 4 hour power nap, I decided this mess had to go:

Uh yea. Can't believe I just posted that to the Internet for the whole world to see.  I really hope you appreciate it.  Let's play a game.  It'll be FUN!
  • How many different moisturizers can you find? (Seven.)
  • Contact lens solution bottles? (Three.)
  • Writing utensils? (Cause everyone needs at least TWO of those in their bathroom, for goodness sake)
  • And let's not even try and count the amount of... TRASH.
Nasty.  Seriously, what is wrong with me? How did I let it get like this?!

(Oh, and if you're really observant you may notice the reflection of our bidet. Yes, it was here when we moved in, no we haven't used it, and no I wouldn't even really know how to use it. Please stop talking about it, it makes me uncomfortable.)

Here's what I told myself in order to turn this awful, frankly disgusting, mess into something more pleasant and manageable that I would not be embarrassed about any more in less than a half hour:

Step 1: THROW AWAY THE TRASH - tags from clothes, concert tickets, receipts, empty bottles of whatever.  Seriously, throw it out.  It's trash.

Step 2:  Take everything off the counter. EVERY.LAST.LITTLE.THING.  Stick it on the floor.

Step 3: Wipe everything down with a damp cloth first, to get rid of things like my hair that never stops falling out and those stupid little plastic things that end up everywhere when you snap a tag off clothes. I know you know what I mean.

Step 4: Use Counter Magic! No, really.  That's the name of the cleaner.  It was suggested by the previous owners and works... like magic.  It's available at our local hardware store, and that's about all I know about that.

Step 5: Make sure to get around the faucets and edge of the sink, gross little grimies get in there.

Step 6: Don't forget the sink.  Even though it has water in it everyday, it gets nasty.  Nasty enough that even the strange color and flower designs can't hide it forever.

Step 7: Find sweet basket left over from our wedding that just happens to have some green in it to match the bathroom.  Put basket in the corner on the counter.

Step 8:  Fill basket with only the things I use on a somewhat regular basis.  Put everything else in drawers, under the counter, or the trash.

Step 9: Allow certain items to be free from the basket.  Such as tooth brush and paste, hair brush, glasses, contact lens stuff, etc.  Stuff I use multiple times a day, you get the idea.

Step 10: Be wicked proud of myself and show B, who is not nearly as impressed as I am, but I'll let myself believe it's because he's just tired from all the driving.

Isn't that better?  There's still alot of *stuff*, but not as much, and its so much more organized (and uh, CLEAN).  And over a month later, I'm proud to say, it still looks relatively the same, give or take some stuff moved around a little, and some earrings all over the place (jewelry organization... maybe that should be my next trick...HA)

And here's a close up of the contents of the basket, just for kicks.

Now, I'll say the contents of this has changed.  I don't need 3 perfumes in there. I haven't used hair spray since that weird stint in dance club our rugby team decided to have (story for another time), and I think that headband may have ended up on my desk at work (because lord knows I can't keep one of those things in for a full day).

So, there you have it.  How a really messy person is able to find some organization in her life.  I plan to tackle different areas of the house over the next few months (I mean jeez, don't want to wear myself out doing too much at once or anything...ha!) and I'm sure there will be more baskets and who knows what else. I've got a linen closet to tackle, a hopeless second bedroom, a third bedroom that I don't even know what to use for, a dining room that needs to stop being a storage area, and um, we won't even talk about the basement...