Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is Christmas Over?

It must not be.

Tonight I did laundry and I didn't lose a SINGLE sock! THAT, my friends, is a Christmas Miracle!

In all seriousness, Christmas is over, unfortunately. I spent time with my family up north and it was great. It was filled with all the essentials: people, food, and gifts. Let me tell you more about all of these things.

People: Great. Lots of them.

Food: Great. Lots of it.

Gifts: Great. Lots of them.

That about covers it.

So, it was great.

I hope I never forget how fortunate I am. I love that people, food, and gifts are part of my Christmas, but the real reason we celebrate is Jesus. And if there ever comes a day that I don't have copious amounts of great people, great food, and great gifts in my life, I want to be just as joyful and content solely in the fact that Jesus came to save me from my sins.

That's right. God sent his Son to save me from my sins.

Now that's a Christmas Miracle.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Can't Decide What's More Annoying

How I totally procrastinated EVERYTHING and I have a TON to do in the next two days before I get out of town.....

OR

How I have to cheer for the Packers tonight because the Vikings absolutely REFUSE to win the division when it is totally in their control.....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the "Must Do" List

Well, I missed a really awesome date night. With the boy (you know by now that "the boy" means "the dog").

The Riverview Theater hosted a "take your dog to the movies" night on Tuesday. I heard about it after the fact, otherwise I totally would have been there! The movie was Marley and Me - a movie that I would like to see. I've heard it's a tear-jerker, especially for dog lovers.

The thing is, I've lived in this neighborhood for two years and I have yet to do some very "neighborhood-y" things. The Riverview Theater is less than ten blocks from me, but I've never gone. I've heard such good things about it - popcorn with REAL butter, cheap tickets (HELLO, THREE DOLLARS), and so on. But I just haven't made the effort to head over there.

Well, now I know that they do all kinds of cool things at the theater (in addition to using real butter). I was wishing I would have known about the dog/movie night, so I went to the website to sign up for the email alerts. If I wasn't already busy this coming Sunday I would ABSOLUTELY be going to the day-long Lord of the Rings Trilogy Screening - with two of the three extended editions. Oh man, I can't think of a much more fun day of being at the movies!

Anyway, if you live in the area, you'll probably want to check out the theater as well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Whiny Blog

I was about to write a post about how much it stinks to have my job at this time of year. You know - the time of year when it feels like THIRTY BELOW OUTSIDE. It's also not the best job to have at the height of summer heat, but at least the heat doesn't cause the MOST OBNOXIOUS TRAFFIC ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET like the cold and snow do.

But, I'm reconsidering a post like that. I get the feeling that my last few posts could come off as whiny (oh, the deficiencies of non-verbal communication), and I don't want this to be known as the Whiny Blog. So instead of detailing how I got up early yesterday and went out in the freezing cold for a tennis match that ended up being cancelled, and worked in terribly cold weather for two days, and topped it off with a terrible commute this evening, I decided to make a list of the great things about the last few days.

Here goes:
  • Last night I made Chicken Tortilla Soup. So cozy. It didn't turn out super tasty (even after I doubled the garlic and quadrupled the chili powder), so I am still in search of a great, creamy, easy, tasty tortilla soup recipe, but it was still very fun to hang out in the kitchen for awhile and make some food for the week.

  • I finally got a bonus at work. It is nothing near what I've made in the past, but at least I will be able to tell when it hits my bank account.

  • My roommate is gone this week, so that means the boy is sleeping (and cuddling) with me! Please, let me remind you how adorable the boy is:




mmmmmmmmm.........love him

  • My GPS probably saved me an hour on my commute. I had only moved one block in twenty minutes, with over 30 blocks to go. I hit "detour" to take me onto the side roads - and I was home in 15 minutes. YES!

  • The house is CHRISTMAS-Y! I decorated tonight in anticipation of hosting a party this weekend. I really love Christmas lights and nativity scenes. Now the house has them both.

  • Speaking of that party - I CAN'T WAIT! I'm excited to clean (finally. I've been putting it off until right before the party), bake, and see people (and BABIES!) that I haven't seen in awhile.

  • Heated seats in my car. Never been so happy about that.

  • The Vikings are genuinely playing well and the last two games of the season are very important for our chances to make the playoffs. It's fun to hope for the best in the next few weeks (while maintaining my status as a true Vikings fan by expecting the worst).

So it's been an okay couple of days after all.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Alone, But Not Lonely

The following quote got me thinking:

"I am no more lonely than a single mullein or dandelion in a pasture, or a bean leaf, or sorrel, or a horse-fly, or a bumblebee. I am no more lonely than the Mill Brook, or a weathercock, or the north star, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw, or the first spider in a new house." -Henry David Thoreau

Fact: I am alone. This weekend I went to three Christmas parties...alone. I went to church...alone. I went to small group...alone. I watched the end of the Vikings game...alone.

Fact: I am not lonely. This weekend I went to three Christmas parties! On Sunday I had Welcome Team at church, small group, and I watched the Vikings! It was a full weekend.

The problem is that sometimes I feel lonely. I know, it doesn't make sense. Objectively I am not lonely - I have a lot to do, and I have a lot of people in my life. But feelings are weird like that. I know very beautiful women who feel ugly; thin women who feel fat; smart women who feel stupid. If you let them, feelings will take over. And feelings are not always right.

When these feelings start to creep in, it is important to think about the (capital T) Truth. Feelings are fickle (the Truth isn't). Feelings are deceptive (the Truth isn't).

Most importantly, feelings change (the Truth doesn't). So when I feel lonely, I remind myself that my feeling is subjective and is not really true.

I've never really had a problem doing things on my own - I'm pretty independent in that way. In fact, I usually prefer to do things on my own (it's much more efficient). But the older I get and the more I desire to be in a relationship, the more I notice that I come and go alone.

Alone, but not lonely.

Only recently has my loneliness started to matter more to me. And that's because I start to dwell on it more than on the Truth. So if I can capture those thoughts (feelings) more effectively, it will do a world of good.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ingredients

I am dog-sitting for a few days again.

When I gave the dogs their treats today I realized that the treats smell suspiciously like Ramen.

No, seriously.

I wonder how many of the ingredients are the same.....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Waiting For A Man

If you see me driving my new car, you’ll notice that I have yet to put the license plates on it.

Because the last thing I want to do is be outside in this weather, close to the ground, using a screwdriver (a size I’m not sure I own anyway), putting the license plates on.

It’s not that I can’t do it; it’s that I don’t want to do it. In my mind, it’s a man’s job.

If I had a man in my life I would smile sweetly at him and ask him if he could please do me a favor and put my license plates on. It would only take five minutes.

It would also only take me five minutes, but again, I don’t want to.

On the other hand, I also didn’t want to fix the leaky faucet last week, shovel the sidewalks yesterday, scrape off my car every morning, and take the trash out. Because those are man’s jobs. I’m realizing now how spoiled I was in high school when Dad scraped my windshield everyday (and even started up my car most days). And not that every man does these chores for their women (I could hardly believe it when a married friend of mine said that she shovels the sidewalks! The look I gave her must have screamed “get your MAN to do that!”), but these are the chores that totally annoy me and I would love for a man to take care of.

So, in protest of being single, I refuse to put my license plates on. Wait – can I get a ticket for that?

*SIGH*

Well, I’m going to hold out at least one more week for a man….

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hallelujah!!

My favorite chore around the home is laundry (by the by, my least favorite chore is doing dishes...) BUT I HATE FOLDING FITTED SHEETS! What a mess they become. In fact, I don't even fold them, I just ball them up.

I saw this tutorial on a blog today and it MADE MY WEEK!! Check it out. Maybe you all are geniuses who have already figured this out, but I am not, so this will seriously help so much!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Don't Judge

Confession: The truth is that I don’t eat Ramen because I have to, I eat Ramen because I want to.

There is absolutely no part of me that wants to eat healthy. I am no parts granola, all parts Ho-Ho. My favorite ingredients are refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. My favorite food groups are grilled cheese, mac and cheese, hot dogs, pizza, shakes, candy bars, malts, French fries, chips and salsa, ice cream in general, meat, and cookies. Did I mention cheese, chocolate, and ice cream?! I’m not five anymore, but I’m pretty sure I eat like I am.

You’ve heard before about how much I like McDonald's. This weekend I had pizza for four meals – and I don’t feel guilty about it. I liked - nay - LOVED it.

But the truth is that I’m not getting any younger. I’m gaining weight and something’s gotta give. I’m afraid it’s my diet.

GRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!

Good thing I have lots of friends at church who seem to like eating healthy (although I’ve always thought they are big liars….or that they’ve been brainwashed into THINKING they like eating healthy but deep in their soul they know they hate it….).

We’ll see. I’m starting by mixing in a yogurt here and there, along with drinking more water.

But don't think I'm not going to splurge at Christmas parties, per usual. That's how I roll.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Two Years

I moved to Minneapolis two years ago this weekend.

I'm sure there is something profound to say in reflection on the last two years.

Maybe not.

[Insert something here about how so much has happened in the last two years.]

[Insert something here about how you wished so much more would have happened in the last two years.]

[Decide that you don't have much to say at all and that you'll post something reflective at year's end instead. Maybe.]

Friday, December 5, 2008

Winter Cure

"he looks fierce mainly because he hates the beginning of winter & the only thing that seems to help is gritting your teeth" - StoryPeople

I get the email of the day from StoryPeople. This was today's, and it is a very appropriate way to describe me this week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Open This Box

If you love music, and love discovering new (to you) artists, you MUST STOP READING THIS BLOG RIGHT NOW and get an account at Pandora.

Pandora is internet radio. When you make an account, you can create your own "radio stations" by entering an artist's name or a specific song title. I currently have about twenty artists as radio stations. When you select a certain station to play, it will play songs by that artist as well as similar artists (hence the ability to discover new music).

For instance, one of my stations is "Ingrid Michaelson". When I played that station the other day, songs were also played from Sara Bareilles, Colby Caillat, Feist, The Weepies, Yael Naim, and Missy Higgins. Some of these artists I am familiar with, and some I am not. As songs play, you can give them a thumbs up or thumbs down, and then that song will play less or play more.

I'm probably late to the game on this, because I usually am on things like this. My sister brought this up to me at least a month ago and I delayed making an account because I thought it would be time consuming. It only took five minutes, and I wish I had done it months ago! It is so great!

Especially if you are a big fan of music - you MUST get an account at Pandora!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Forgot to Mention...

...that I'm GOING TO HAWAII!!!

I just realized that I wrote about Hawaii in my last post, but I haven't said anything about it here! It doesn't exactly fit in with my Money Challenge this month, but oh well. I'm GOING TO HAWAII!!!

I'm going at the best time of the year (the first week of February) and I'm going with some of my favorite people (my two sisters and one of our best friends from Camp).

I seriously can't wait.

Oh yeah - we'll be staying at the WAILEA BEACH RESORT AND SPA. Apparently doctors prefer to hold their conferences at five-star resorts in tropical locations. Fine by me! So glad my sister is letting us tag along!

On January 30-February 8, 2009, I can be found at any one of the five pools between the hours of 10am-4pm (if I had to guess, I'd say that I'll be choosing this one). I'll probably take in a sunset or two from one of the oceanfront lawns, as well.

If you have any good ideas of what we should do while on Maui for nine days (OH YES MA'AM I CANNOT WAIT!!), please let me know!

Holy Cow: Money Challenge Finale

Well, I saved a ton.

Actually, I don't know that I technically "saved" a ton, BUT I spent a WHOLE LOT LESS than I did in October. And September, and August, and July.....

I've been keeping a detailed budget for years now, so when I saw how much less I spent in November compared to October, I thought that October maybe wasn't the best month to compare with, since I had so bought so many gifts and some new clothes (which I don't buy that often). So I took a look back the months before that as well. Turns out I have a chronic spending problem.

For my challenge I totaled up what I spent in the following categories: food, clothing, gifts, entertainment, home, toiletries, exercise, travel, and gas. Not counting the ticket I bought to Hawaii, my total in November came to $368. I was REALLY surprised it was that high, considering I was making so many efforts to save money. Well, it turns out this total was literally a drop in the bucket compared to previous months. In October, the total in those same categories was $1577! Like I mentioned, I thought that was unusually high, so I looked to the months before that. September was $1116; August $1015; July $1145. So it seems like these totals are more of a trend for me, but still - they are MUCH higher than $368!

I can hardly believe it. Just by thinking twice about purchases, staying away from Target, and eating at home a few more times than eating out, I really cut down on my spending. I absolutely needed to stop my crazy spending and I hope that I've set a new standard for myself. December will be interesting with Christmas, but I am very glad I put the time and effort into this Money Challenge during November.

Lesson learned. I like to spend money. But I don't need to. As much....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It Pays To Go Home. Literally.

I am leaving my hometown after Thanksgiving weekend with $110 dollars and three gifts in hand. And it's not even Christmas! Pretty fruitful weekend, if I must say so myself.

I can't remember the last time I was in my hometown. I used to go there a lot when I worked "up north" - mostly because my parents still lived there. Now my parents have moved away, and any time I spend north, I spend at my cabin. I just realized right now that the last time I was there was for Mother's Day. That's a really long stretch for me. And it made this weekend all the more sweet to be "home".

I cried myself to sleep last night because I felt so loved. I was wondering where all my emotion was coming from when it dawned on me that I don't have people expressing their love for me so openly as I did this weekend on a regular basis. I think that's partly due to being single where I don't have a spouse to be deeply affectionate with (although I'm sure there are married people who also are in my same situation, but that is sad for other reasons). I do have friends in my life who I am very appreciative of, as I assume they are appreciative of me, but we don't always express that to each other regularly other than on birthdays and holidays - and sometimes not even then.

But it was impressed upon me this weekend how well I am loved, and I am so thankful for that reminder. Apparently I needed it more than I thought I did. So I cried because I am so happy to have this kind of love in my life (of which I am about to tell you), but so sad that I don't have it, or something like it, everyday.

I always tell people that I have four Moms. And not in the annoying, nagging way - in the really great, love you lots way. There's my Mom, of course, and then there are two of my aunts who treat me like a daughter in the way that they would do anything for me and they always buy me lots of stuff. And my Mom's best friend has always been, and will always be, a part of my life in a way that it feels like she's family.

And this weekend I was reminded of even more people in my life who love me unconditionally. I stopped over at my Mom's best friend's house while they (relatives and old college friends) were doing their cookie-making-marathon. We laughed and cried as we told stories and caught up. Throughout our conversations they were reminded of gifts they had bought for me over the last few months - "Oh that reminds me of these dishes that I got to match your kitchen...."; "Oh I made extra pecans for you because I know you like them so much..."; Oh I remembered how you are throwing so many showers lately, so why don't you just have my cupcake stand...". I love these women lots, and they love me lots. It was such a nice reminder. I left with a few gifts and more advice than I know what to do with.

Later today my aunt showed up with a sign I had mentioned I saw (but didn't buy because I am saving money) that would fit nicely at the cabin. I had only mentioned it in passing and never thought about it again, but she went and searched it out to buy for me because I am "so sweet". (Now you are all convinced that I have everyone in my hometown totally fooled...) She proceeded to insist that I also take some money from her because I helped her work some this weekend. I insisted that I was working for free, but I found a check in my purse tonight anyway.

I just loved catching up with so many people who have known me so well for 26 years, but are eager to see and hear how I have changed and grown since I saw them last. I am eager to hear about what is going on in their lives as well. And to make new memories with them. And to talk about old memories. I know they are thinking about and praying for me even when I haven't seen them for a long time. It is such a sweet reminder.

I know that leaving my hometown after this great weekend will make my life in the cities feel.....kinda.....empty, but I am motivated to show more people how much I care for them. I hope you are too. I think we probably don't know how much it means to someone when we do.

Friday, November 28, 2008

That's Different

I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life and I still don’t think I’ve mastered how to speak Minnesotan.

For Christmas one year, my former employer took us to see the show “How to Speak Minnesotan” at a local playhouse. Of course the play talked about “you betcha”, ending sentences with “then”, our passive-aggressive and indirect nature, and how things get “froze up”. They also mentioned “come here once”, “uff dah”, “ya, ya, ya”, and talking about the weather.

The phrase that I’ve run into the last week a lot is “that’s different”.

Now, “that’s different” can be a simple statement of fact. Something is, indeed, different. Like the way my new car can make call just by pushing a button and speaking through the rear-view mirror. Different. And AWESOME.

Also, “that’s different” can be a way to say you disapprove, or that you have an opinion - but aren’t willing to give it. I ran into “that’s different” a lot this week as I wore a new pair of glasses that I bought (for $10 – my one “fun purchase for me” of the month). I don’t technically wear glasses, so yes, they are fake. And I got some people who told me they loved them, some people who said they did not, and a lot of “that’s different”.

I’m not sure how to interpret all the “that’s different” – it could be just that the glasses actually are different (which they are), that they are interesting (not sure about that), or that someone disapproves. Whichever way it is, I especially like that the glasses give me an entirely new look, so they are keepers in my book. I’ll wear them less often than I don’t wear them, but they are a nice change of pace.

And I needed a change of pace.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to acknowledge my thankfulness today. The things that come to my mind immediately are:
  • Dad = cancer free! (The bone marrow test came back yesterday, and even that showed NO CANCER! Amazing!)
  • My church. Hard to believe that I've only been a member for a year. I feel very "hemmed in" and cared for. It's great. Plus the teaching has really pushed me forward in my spiritual maturity.
  • My family
  • Good friends
  • Health
  • Extended (and not-actually-family-but-they-might-as-well-be) family
  • Plenty of needs met above and beyond.....

And my last point brings me to this: I saw this video today and put it together that my sister met the guy who made this video on her way to Africa this fall. Please watch it! Especially if you are headed to the mall tomorrow...



It's astounding, isn't it? Especially since I have been trying to be more frugal, I've realized how much I spend unnecessarily. I usually don't like being convicted by videos about how I'm such a terrible consumer, but every once in awhile I need that reminder, especially heading into the next month. Plus, it's a pretty cool, well-done video. Their website is Advent Conspiracy.

And my final Thanksgiving thought. This card makes me laugh my head off every year. Not sure why, but I think it is absolutely hilarious!

So, Happy Thanksgiving! I am so enjoying the time with family, the food, and time away from work!

P.S. I figured out how to post videos from YouTube! Aren't you proud?!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Struck Gold

I had the best ice cream ever.

Black Hills Gold from Grand Old Creamery.

It is vanilla with carmel, oreo chunks, and pecans.

YUM!!!!!

My boss was with me this week, so I took full advantage of her buying me treats. I simply LOVE Caribou but I haven't had any this month with my money challenge (I usually only treat myself to it on Sundays anyway - I learned how expensive that habit can get long ago). So each morning she was riding with me, we met at Caribou and I got the biggest drink I could handle. Ugh, I just love it.

On our last day together she said she was craving ice cream, so we went to the Grand Old Creamery. I decided to try a new flavor and it was SO AMAZING. I even bought a pint of it with the little money I have left for food this month, it was that good.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

That New Car Smell

I got a new car today!
There it is - a white 2009 Jeep Patriot.

Me likey.

I finally ordered a car that isn't red. I think I will like the white. When I picked it up it had 19 miles on it, and it has heated leather seats. I also love that I get free satellite radio for one year. The only thing that gets to me a bit is the new car smell. I've never had leather interior before, but I think it amplifies the smell and leaves me with a mild headache. But trust me, I can deal.

Especially since I did my detailed budget for my financial class, I am reminded how extremely thankful I am that my work gives me a car (a brand new one!) for free, and also pays the insurance, repairs, oil changes, etc. What a blessing! I only pay for gas on weekends. Awesome.

In other car news: This month marks THREE YEARS since I've gotten a speeding ticket (knock on wood)! That is HARD TO BELIEVE. There was a time in my life where I (completely legitimately) feared my license would be revoked and I would lose the awesome job that gives me (nearly) free transportation. But alas, my foot is not made of lead after all, and I've embraced the safety and freedom that comes with abiding by traffic laws (almost all of the time).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Entitlement

I always say that people who think they are entitled kinda sorta bug me. I want to say "get over yourself" to some of those people. Well, watching this video made me realize that I am one of those people! It is a clip from Conan and it is funny. It made me stop and think, too.

Take 4 minutes to watch this.

(Sorry, I don't know how to post YouTube videos yet. I shall try to learn by week's end.)

I once had a boss who said that his favorite thing about me was my "ability to get really excited about very ordinary things". I can see how that is true in some ways, but I hope to live up to that statement even more and be amazed by the many things that I take for granted.

And not just to learn to be more thankful and happy, but also more full of joy. And not just joy about "stuff" and "things", but real joy.

HT: Vitamin Z

Monday, November 17, 2008

Committed

In college, I basically managed to totally over commit myself constantly – like most everyone. When I started my job 6 months out of college, I had all I could handle with getting used to a demanding job and preparing for Miss Minnesota all at once. When I came to the cities two years ago for a promotion, I did nothing but work – flying twice a week and working my brains out.

Then last year I was put into a new role and had to get used to not being so busy. I went from working all the time and doing nothing else to working like a normal person and not having anything else to do. So I started looking for things to do. I got more involved at church and I found a basketball league. That was a good amount of things to do and it left time for spontaneous fun with friends.

Over this summer I found myself getting a little bored (church commitments go down and basketball was on break). So I prepared for fall by signing up for TOO MUCH! I looked forward to basketball, and decided to also sign up for tennis. I signed up for an intense Bible study. I looked forward to being on the Welcome Ministry at church, but was also still needed for Children’s Ministry (and just recently I’ve been asked to help at the youth meetings). Church also started a financial class. Add in small group meetings, a few extra work meetings here and there, babysitting now and then, and I am spent!

This past weekend I had only two plans: a movie with friends and the youth meeting at church on Saturday night. I had a chance to sleep in on Saturday, enjoy coffee and a magazine in bed, get my entire “urgent to do list” (along with some of my “non-urgent to do list”) done, clean the house, go to the grocery store, watch the Gophers, and head off to the meeting. It was a WONDERFUL day! When I slow down like that, I realize what being over committed does to me. It makes me….snippy. And cranky. It makes me rushed. The first thing to go is exercising. The next thing to go is devotional time. It’s not good.

I’m glad I had the weekend to assess things. I don’t think at this point that I need to drop anything I’m currently doing (though it will be amazing to have my Wednesdays back when the financial class is done), but I do need to prepare for the Holiday season. Hard to believe that next week is Thanksgiving. Just like everyone else, my schedule gets busier this time of year. So I’ve committed to myself that I’m going to need to say “no” (GASP!) to some things this year, because I am at my max level of being busy.

The trouble is that I really WANT to do it all, and I really ENJOY doing it all! But strange as it seems to those who see me at all these activities, I am an introvert (GASP AGAIN)! It’s true. My family and most people who have lived with me for any amount of time can tell you this. I am a very OUTGOING introvert, but I definitely don’t get charged up by being around people – I get EXHAUSTED! I need time to myself to recharge my battery (my older sister has no idea what this is like – she is what we call an outgoing extrovert. If you think I am the life of the party – you should meet her!).

My mom and a good friend of hers used to say that the Devil just loves how busy we are. And I think there is truth to that. Even if you are only busy with ministry “things” – you are nonetheless busy and sin starts to creep in when you get tired, or you let your guard down at all, or you skip your quiet times. So we’ll see how the next six weeks go, but I’m glad I realized that I will need to use the “no” word more often before I got ahead of myself…..again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Money Challenge: Halfway Point

Two weeks down, two to go. Some thoughts thus far:
  • I have spent more than I thought I would have at this point. Most of it is on food ($82 already this month!). But I know of many, many (many) times that I have spent less (or none at all) in situations where I wouldn't usually think it through. So if nothing else, this challenge is making me much more aware and causing me to at least pause.
  • Even though I've spent $82 on food, I think I can stay under $100 for the month (most of that money was grocery shopping which I won't need to do again until December). $25 a week for food is reasonable for me when you throw in eating out here and there (which I had to do on our weekend up north).
  • I wanted to stay away from buying things I don't need just because it seems like a really good deal, or because it creates some great coupon. For instance, there was a sale on Coke products at CVS where buying four 12 packs created a coupon for $4 (maybe $6). I could definitely use the coupon, and I do drink pop, but I think four 12 packs would last me until next summer! I don't have the room to keep something like that in my kitchen and I just don't need something like pop sitting around. There were other circumstances like this, but I think I've done a pretty good job of staying away from things I don't really need, just to save on something else.
  • I didn't want to TOTALLY restrict myself and have absolutely no fun this month just because I was trying to save money. The nature of many of my friendships puts me in positions where I spend money - eating out mostly. So far this month I've been on a trip up north, gotten a massage at the Quilt Retreat, went to dinner and a movie on Saturday, and still only spent $50 on entertainment and gas combined. Pretty reasonable, considering the fact that I've been on the go. I've also made some less expensive entertainment choices (like watching movies online instead of renting) this month, which has helped.
  • I've saved the most in toiletries. I've only spent $3 and I've forced myself to be creative with what I have when I've run out of hairspray, mousse, and face wash (although I did break out this weekend....time to go buy that face wash after all - so much for being frugal).

I think that's it for the halfway point. Two more weeks.....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mister Mouse

I babysat last night for a little boy who LOVES to read. It was so fun to snuggle with him before bedtime and read from his favorite book of short stories.

We read about Pierre chasing the robber. We read about the sly fox who outsmarts the crow. We read about bunnies, and colors, and birds, and shapes.

But my favorite story was the one about Mister Mouse.

You see, Mister Mouse was lonely. Then one day he got a letter from Mistress Mouse. She was lonely too, and wanted him to come to her house. Even though he had no idea where Mistress Mouse lived, he set out to find her. Along the way he ran into Mister Cat, Mrs. Hen, and Mister Lion, but he eventually found Mistress Mouse. And they got married – on the spot! They went on picnics and car rides and were never lonely again!

What a great story. I just had no idea that is how it all worked.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a letter to write.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend Review

I had a great weekend!

Friday and Saturday were spent at Quilt Retreat. My sisters and I go every fall on the opening weekend of deer hunting. It is very fun to catch up with all kinds of friends and eat tons of treats. Oh, and quilt some, too.
This was my fourth year. I had little things that I needed to finish on each of the quilts I had made the previous years, so I just took them all and worked on finishing them up.

This is the first quilt I ever made. I didn't really do much to it this weekend other than add the binding that now needs to be finished.

I finished the binding on this next quilt that I made for my sister who is a doctor. You can't see it well, but there are band-aids and stuff on it.

I also finished the binding on a quilt I made for my other sister who is a nurse. Again, it is hard to see, but the panels on this one are of sassy nurses.

The next quilt is my all-time-favorite-that-I've-ever-made. I started to work on the binding this weekend.

This last quilt I barely started last year, but really hadn't gotten that far. I did quite a bit on it this weekend, but I was being really sloppy. It still needs all the "b"s: borders, batting, backing, and binding.


You can't tell from the picture, but that is definitely what I call a "quilt with character". There are a ton of mistakes (it for sure would never win a ribbon at the Fair)! But I still think it looks pretty good from a distance, so I'm okay with it. I really got a lot done this weekend amidst all my chatting.

So.....would it be odd to write about quilting and football in the same post? Because I'm about to.

I have diverse interests, to say the least.

We finished off our weekend by going to the Vikings/Packers game at the dome. And the Vikes WON! In thrilling fashion, nonetheless. The Packers could have won the game with a field goal with less than 30 seconds left in the game, but they missed! The dome was SO LOUD! It was a very fun game to watch - you hardly ever see a safety in a game, and there were two yesterday. Crazy. We hadn't beaten the Packers in the last five meetings, so it was definitely time to do so. Mom, Dad, my sisters, my aunt and I all went, and we really had a great time.

I am exhausted, but the weekend was more than worth it!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Stir It Up, Lord

My philosophy on winter: if it's going to be cold, there might as well be three feet of snow on the ground so at least it's pretty.

One of my favorite songs at this time of year is Real Good Storm by Peter Mayer.

The lyrics are so great. I LOVE winter days where you are stuck inside and forced to spend the whole day in your pajamas playing board games, reading books, watching DVDs, and then ending the day with a romp in the fresh snow followed with a hot cup of cocoa.

I say "Stir it up, Lord! Send us a real good storm!"

Here are the lyrics:

This winter, please, dear Lord
Send us a real good storm
One where we’re all snowed in
That makes people neighbors wave and grin
Stranded in our own yards
We might as well play cards
And get out game boards
So send us a real good storm
We who get so uptight
Need a good snowball fight
And should be forced to ski
To rent a DVD
So heap it up to the window sill
Make the mad world stand still
Bury us Lord
Under a real good storm
We’ll pile onto the old wood sled
Scream when we see a tree ahead
Make a man with a carrot nose
Then come back in and have hot cocoa
We’ll cheer when the radio
Says that our school is closed
We’ll make a big snow pile
Dig it out and crawl inside
Decorate it with Christmas lights
Laugh and sing songs all night
And we’ll stay warm
Inside of that real good storm
So stir it up, Lord
Send us a real good storm

Friday, November 7, 2008

Blog Stalker

So.....I follow a lot of blogs.

Like, over-100-a-lot.

You'd be right if you said that not all of them are worth following, so I really only skim most of them. Don't worry, I really don't think I have an official "problem". I do try to limit my time and not become obsessive.

So anyway. If you also follow blogs, you probably use something like Bloglines or Google Reader. I wanted to tell you that I made the switch this week from Bloglines to Google Reader and I am LOVING it. Here are the top reasons I like Google Reader over Bloglines:
  • Google Reader loads faster. Sometimes Bloglines wouldn't import new posts for a LONG time. Google Reader gets them there in minutes.
  • In my opinion, the format of Google Reader is more aesthetically pleasing.
  • You can see previews of all the new posts on your home page of Google Reader
  • Not only can you keep posts that you have read as unread, you can star items and keep all your favorite posts in one place, no matter what site it was from.
  • Overall I have found that Google Reader is more user friendly. I am not a computer whiz, so I know there is much more I can do with Google Reader, but I was able to pick up on basic (and very useful) features very easily.

If you have no idea what I am talking about and would like to know more, check out this informative post.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Great News!

I was a bit blubbery today.

Dad called this morning to say that his PET scan results came back with great news – the intermediate level of his cancer is GONE!

WOO HOO!!!

Tearing up just thinking about it.

The last five months have dragged on and on. I can hardly believe that Dad has reached this point. I wondered when it would come and how it would feel.

Well, it feels AWESOME!

Cancer sends you on and emotional roller coaster, to say the least.

I’ll never forget the moment Dad called (Friday, May 30) to say that his doctor was fairly certain he had cancer. More tests were needed, but cancer was the only thing the doctor thought would turn up. I pulled off to the side of Highway 52 and screamed and cried.

The next few weeks were hard – a lot of waiting and praying and crying.

When you first find out about cancer, it feels overwhelming. It feels terminal – even if it isn’t. It feels like the world stops spinning. When it feels like the world didn’t stop spinning, you wished it would. You want things to do – anything – just to keep busy. You want nothing to do – nothing at all – just so you can lie in bed and cry. I knew in my mind that hope was there – hope in Christ – but my heart didn’t always feel that.

Today feels like an amazing relief. I was just telling a friend a few days ago that I had gotten to the point where thinking about Dad’s cancer doesn’t “dominate” me anymore. I still think about it daily and pray about it a lot, but it used to feel all consuming. I had moved past that point to a point where it felt more manageable. I didn’t feel like I was grieving anymore, like I had felt at the beginning. Now I feel like it is time to celebrate!

Of course, with cancer, there is a caveat. Dad has more tests next week for his bone marrow, where he had a low grade form of his cancer. He may need radiation, too, but those things are greatly overshadowed by the great news from the PET scan.

I’ve learned a lot in five months: about cancer, about myself, about my family, about my friends, and about my God. I can’t really put much of it into words because….it’s all….messy. So that means I’m still learning about all of it. And I always will be, I hope.

But if I could stop learning about cancer, that would be just fine with me!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What I Did With My Vote

I got free coffee and ice cream!

Starbucks and Ben and Jerry's were giving out free coffee and free ice cream to voters today. There was a LONG line for ice cream, but I LOVE ICE CREAM, so I stood in line to get my Sweat Cream and Cookies. YUM.

Apparently I didn't actually have to vote to get the freebies, though. According to law, there can be no monetary incentive for someone to vote, including getting free food items. I guess it prevents partisan groups from bribing people to vote with food and other goodies. It doesn't really matter to me. I was going to vote either way, but the free ice cream was an added treat for the day.

So I hope you all went out and voted! And possibly enjoyed some treats as well. I think I will head over to watch the returns with the most politically active couple I know. Should be an interesting evening. Even if the Presidential election is decided early on, the Senate race in MN might go down to the wire.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Money Challenge

Becca has inspired me (along with some sermons at church and the financial class I am taking). I decided that for the month of November I am going to spend as little money as possible. In Becca's challenge, her goal was to spend less than $125 in an entire month for her family of four. I thought about what dollar amount I might challenge myself to, but I couldn't come up with a good number, so I'm just going to see how it goes...sort of shooting to be under $100 for the month (not including regular bills).

November is a good month to do the challenge, seeing as I won't need to buy any clothes due to the fact that I practically bought an entire new wardrobe in October (not really, but close. Oops). Also, I imagine that December will see me spending all kinds of money on gifts, so I am going to try to abstain from gift-buying this month (plus, most of my friends are done gestating, so I don't anticipate spending $200 on baby gifts like I did in October).

I haven't been to the grocery store in over three weeks, so I literally have no food in the cupboards. In other words, I will be spending a little money on food this week. To make up for stocking the shelves, I am going to avoid eating out as much as I can. I also am going to take advantage of my new CVS card where I can shop for some food items and other everyday "stuff". If you don't know about how to save money at CVS, read this very informative post that I discovered thanks to Becca.

I got myself a card and I've already started saving. I bought Vitamin D, which was the extra-special-coupon-creator-deal-of-the-month in October (and ironically, the exact vitamin that a doctor told me might help my sleeping problem). Then I got two boxes of my favorite cereal for buy one, get one free. Using the coupons I earned with those purchases, I got milk and coffee for a total of $3 (normally $7.50)!

Sorry to bore with my grocery list! I do have more to buy, but I need to go to an actual grocery store for the rest.

But you get the idea. Trying to be frugal this month. I really don't need a lot of what I think I need. Not that it will be easy. I only really decided to do this on Saturday and - sure enough - I saw a friend at church today with the CUTEST top from my FAVORITE store and she said it is on MAJOR SALE. Ugh. Normally I would run out and buy it, but I don't really need it. Really.

Really.

So, I'll keep you updated (not that anyone is all that interested...more for my own accountability, I suppose). BUT if you see me in a REALLY cute new denim top with short sleeves and buttons and snaps and buckles and total CUTENESS.....don't give me "the look".

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fall Colors

Took the dog on a walk on one of our GORGEOUS fall days this week.


Here are the leaves I collected on the walk:



I dried them (easiest way: put them all in the microwave between two paper towels and nuke them for about a minute, or until nice and crispy) and made a little center piece for the dining room table. I love fall and the colors, and the season never seems to last long enough! I hadn't been on a walk in a long time, so I was glad to get out to enjoy the glorious day and wonderful colors!


Another way our neighborhood has gotten more colorful is through some new murals on a model train museum across the street. The museum used to have a white exterior which would be graffitied now and then, but now the neighborhood association came together to improve the building with some train murals. Residents were given sketches to paint and the finished projects were hung last week, after the building was painted an awesome green. Here is the mural my roommate painted:

Pretty awesome, huh!?!


Another pic of the workers hanging the murals:


The building looks really great. Just add it to the list of little things I love about where I live!



Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween!

Brought to you by....



THIS HOUSE!



This house is down the street, and they LOVE Halloween! I took this picture last year, but I think they have added more now.

They actually decorate with big-blow-up-things for every holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines, Easter, Memorial Day/Fourth of July, etc...). Halloween is certainly their favorite, though. Obviously.

I certainly hope these people can afford their health care and food and gas. I mean, otherwise they wouldn't spend money on these kinds of things, right? RIGHT?!?!?!..............(can you tell the election is on my mind? Only for a few more days though, THANKGOODNESS).

Anyway, enjoy the day - those of you who "celebrate" it. And be safe.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Virus

My body has a virus.

So does my computer.

The virus in my body hasn't really caused any embarrassment, but there was some discomfort as I tried to restrain my hearty cough while sitting in the fifth row of a Broadway play.

The computer virus was extremely embarrassing. My Facebook account sent all kinds of annoying (and inappropriate) messages to people who are my Facebook "friends". Some of them are real friends of mine and some of them are....."friends". So that was weird.

It is taking over a week to fix my body.

It should take two days to fix my computer.

My cough, cold, virus, etc. has cost me about 20 dollars in Sudafed, Tylenol, and Kleenex.

My computer virus cost me over 500 dollars. I'm hoping to hear back from the Geek Squad that it hasn't cost me much more in lost documents and ....DUH DUH DUH...PICTURES! (ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseNO!).

'Tis the season for a virus, I suppose.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Prepare to Bawl.Your.Eyes.Out.

For someone who doesn't like Oprah's show that much, I sure do mention it a lot. And I am SO glad I caught the last bit of it today.

I actually only turned it on in time to see the last minute of this video, and I was SOBBING at just that. So please, take the six minutes to watch this video......and get the Kleenex.

What an amazing couple. What amazing faith. What amazing creativity. I'm so thankful to see the Lord's many blessings in their lives, even through their immense pain.

I'm also so thankful to see this story on Oprah. Their video speaks to the miracle of life, the preciousness of life, and the sanctity of life.

The couple was on the show via Skype and they are two weeks from delivering another baby. I pray they will be showered with many blessings again.

My favorite lines from the video:

"The logic of medicine says you shouldn't be alive, but you are."

"An underdeveloped lung, a heart with a hole in it, and DNA that placed faulty information into each and every cell of your body could not stop God from reveling Himself through a child who never uttered a word. Not a pulpit, not a slick presentation, not a best selling book. But a six pound boy with Trisomy 18. God found great pleasure to take a lowly thing in the eyes of the world and show truth."

(If you have trouble with the link, search for the video "99 Balloons" on YouTube)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Power of Words

The video in this post uses the song I posted about last month.

It reminded me to go back and read this post now and again.

I needed it last week.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Whirlwind

I haven't posted in the last 10 days, but I have been in three states in the last 10 days.

A lot of what I've done was unplanned and super fun, but it makes life feel like a whirlwind. I'd like to think that I could make it through three more days of work (and two evenings of activities at church) and look forward to a weekend of catch-up, but alas, I will be headed to a fourth state instead. Definitely not complaining. I'm having too much fun. Minus the nasty cough slash chest cold I get when I fly too much and sleep too little. Oh well. Totally worth it.

Here is a list of things I recommend you do that I have done in the past week-ish:
  1. Drive along the southern MN/WI border when the fall colors are peaking. Beautiful.
  2. Play Rook.
  3. Watch football while eating the Best Burger Ever.
  4. Go to a costume party. With your dog - in a matching costume. Yep, I was *that* girl.
  5. Decide last-minute-on-a-whim to fly cross-country to see a BFF and her new baby.
  6. Get your ticket for aforementioned trip for 37 bucks (and 25,000 flier miles).
  7. Fly first class.
  8. Hold a tiny baby who loves to cuddle up and sleep on your chest.
  9. Buy tickets to see Wicked. Again.

Now a list of things I don't recommend you do that I have done in the past week-ish:

  1. Attend a week long meeting in Houston where even the October weather makes your hair poof up like cotton candy.
  2. Walk the streets of Houston at night - SC. AIR. EEE.
  3. Allow yourself only 30 hours to return from Houston, decide to take another trip, plan said trip, buy the ticket, pay your bills, unpack, repack, work a nine hour day, have dinner with a friend and catch your next flight. Oh, and sleep. Sort of.
  4. Catch a nasty cough slash chest cold.
  5. Fly with nasty cough slash chest cold. NOT fun for the ears!
  6. Read a book you were really looking forward to - only to be disappointed.

Oh my, it has been a good 10 days.

And the tickets for Wicked are for this coming weekend. There is NOTHING I like more than a good musical! Except for maybe a good road trip. And I like my sisters even more than either of those. So when I combine all three on Saturday, I will pretty much be in hog heaven.

OINK!

Friday, October 10, 2008

100 Things

A perk of my job: reading tons of magazines.

I really love reading magazines - I have five subscriptions myself. I also like to catch up on all kinds of magazines as I wait for doctors all day every day. I especially like to linger longer in the fancy-schmancy offices that have the really expensive magazines that I would never buy myself but love to peruse. I especially like the magazines about the Twin Cities - like Twin Cities Metro, Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, etc.

I saw an article in the most recent Twin Cities Metro Magazine on 100 Reasons to Love the Twin Cities. Well, I love the Twin Cities, so I definitely wanted to check out what others had to say on the subject. Though my top 100 would definitely look different, it was fun to see what things on this list I am familiar with. I bolded things I have done/places I have been/etc.

100 Reasons to Love the Twin Cities


1. The Blizzard (as in Dairy Queen’s Blizzard). Apparently it wasn’t even invented in MN – and neither was the Dairy Queen brand (which I thought it was. It was actually invented in IA). Anyway, I have some kind of personal goal to have a Blizzard each week. Especially in the summer. My favorite is the French Silk Pie, but my tried-and-true-standard is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. MMMM. And I don't care what anyone says - Dairy Queen Blizzards are better than ANY other restaurants' ice cream. This would probably make #1 on my list as well.
2. Louise Erdrich (novelist)
3. Wing Young Huie (photographer)
4. Dr. Mambo’s Combo at Bunker’s (band)
5. Experimental College
6. Tanpopo Noodle Shop
7. SS Billiards
8. The Electric Fetus - Been in there, looks pretty cool from the outside, too.
9. Grand Old Day
10. West Seventh - (St Paul) I have a bunch of clinics along West Seventh. I also like a bunch of the restaurants in the area.
11. The weeHouse
12. Team Diarrhea (MN Dept of Health)
13. Broder’s Italian Cucina and Pasta Bar - Some friends took me once, and it was delicious!
14. Charles Baxter (writer)
15. Peace Coffee
16. MN Historical Society and Press
17. Art Car Parade
18. Allen Christian and the House of Balls
19. Land Stewardship Project
20. Intermedia Arts
21. MinuteClinic - Not a huge fan, though I frequented MinuteClinics while in college.
22. Theodore Wirth bike trail
23. Radio K
24. Paul Douglas - I used to watch him on the news all the time, but I also met him on the roof of WCCO when I was 18. I was in a group that was on a weather segment with him and we all shook his hand, but that was the extent of the meeting.
25. Michael Anschel (architect)
26. Michelle Gayer (pastry chef)
27. Magers & Quinn Booksellers
28. American Swedish Institute
29. Northrup King
30. United Noodles
31. Minneapolis Central Library
32. Bill’s Guns
33. MCAD Student Art Sale
34. St Thomas Academy’s eSum
35. DJ Jake Rudh
36. Farm in the Market
37. MacPhail Center for Music
38. High School Hockey Tournament
39. Macy’s Christmas Show
40. The Bundt Pan - I've used one
41. The Twin Cities Free Market
42. The Humidity - NOT A FAN. Can't imagine why this made their top 100.
43. Art in Bloom
44. Rhymesayers Entertainment
45. Clancey’s Meats and Fish
46. Steven Brown (chef)
47. Ralph Burnet (art collector)
48. U of M Veterinary Medical Center and Equine Center - I have a friend in school there now. Kinda a stretch....
49. Mini burgers at Lurcat - BEST BURGERS IN TOWN! I had them at a Bachelorette Party once. AMAZING.
50. Freewheel Midtown Bike Center
51. Burlesque of North America
52. The Minnesota Lynx - Gone to a bunch of games thanks to a friend who had a sister working for the team at one point. I even caught a shirt at a game once.
53. Cinema Lounge
54. Minnesota Orchestra - I've only gone once - on an assignment for a class in college. But I really liked it.
55. Museum Adventure Pass
56. Midsize Theater Scene
57. Corn Pancakes at Maria’s Café
58. Rebuild Resources
59. The Depot Coffee House in Hopkins
60. Aamodt’s Apple Farm
61. Uptown Theatre
62. ACME Comedy Co. - Been there a bunch of times.
63. Sisters’ Camelot
64. Al Milgrom (film expert)
65. Bumbershute
66. Blueberry Mojito at B.A.N.K.
67. Adult Milkshakes at Town Talk
68. 112 Eatery
69. Jeffrey Hatcher (playwright)
70. Mary Jo Copeland (Mary’s Place/Sharing and Caring Hands) - Went to Mary's Place with the contestants for Miss Minnesota. We played with the kids and had a good time.
71. U of M Academic Health Center
72. Stacia Rice (actress)
73. Minnesota sur Seine
74. Foshay Tower - I have a clinic there
75. Lakewood Cemetery
76. Battle of the Jug Bands
77. Seven Corners Ace Hardware
78. Our Lady of Lourdes Church
79. Priscilla’s of Boston - A friend of mine works there and I met her there for coffee once. It's a gorgeous place!
80. ReUse Center
81. Taqueria Los Ocampo
82. John Gordon (Twins announcer) - Listened to him many times - especially with my Grandpa
83. Hazelden
84. Dinkytown - Is it bad that my favorite thing in Dinkytown is the two-story McDonald's?
85. The Bakken Museum
86. Light Rail - There's a stop four blocks from my house, so I take it downtown quite a bit. Pretty much like it a lot.
87. Peter Ostroushko (fiddler)
88. Coastal Seafoods
89. The Wedge
90. National Sports Center
91. Ayd Mill Road - Best short cut in the cities
92. Pulled Pork Sandwich at Be’Wiched
93. Shaker’s Vodka
94. Chain of Lakes - Fer Sher one of my favorite things about the cities!! I live very close to one of the lakes and I enjoy walking the dog around it.
95. Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus
96. Artists’ Quarter
97. First Avenue
98. Twin Cities Marathon - I only ran the 10 mile, though. But I really love watching the marathon too!
99. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
100. Cloud Cult (band)

There you have it. I'm only familiar with 23% of the list, but now I have a few more ideas of things to do in my spare time!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Anti-Dentite

I went to the dentist today.

I can say absolutely-beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt-one-hundred-percent that going to the dentist is just my least favorite thing. EVER.

Hands in mouth, drool, bad tastes, nasty-feeling scraping, bleeding, mouth-open grunted responses. It is just all awful. But my aunt is my dentist, so I go. With a major chip on my shoulder.

Except for those six years when I went....never. And ended up with six cavities. I think somewhere in the Bible it talks about a curse for each year you neglect something. It's probably in Numbers (but I know it's not, because I am studying Numbers right now and you would be surprised at all the cool stuff in there! Seriously - check out the Old Testament! Yes I'm talking to you - person who never reads anything but Paul's letters - go read it!).

Anyway, dentist = hate. Add to the aforementioned "reasons to hate a dentist" the fact that my TMJ is apparently much worse than I thought it was, and you have one very bummed girl. My aunt recommended I see an orthodontist (the same guy I ignored eight years ago when he said he wanted to break my jaw). When you say "let me break your jaw - you won't have those headaches anymore" I say "I don't really know what it's like to not have a headache anyway, so athankyouverymuch, but you will not be breaking my jaw". I guess that in some cases it is more than just a headache-relief-procedure and bad TMJ could have to do with functionality (or lack thereof) down the road, so this referral is something I will actually have to follow through on and see what is up.

*SIGH*

So in light of that part of my day, I decided to make a list of 10 random things that have made me smile (like, big smiles) in the last 24 hours. It is so much more pleasant than thinking about the dentist. (sorry, Aunt)
  1. Dots (the candy)
  2. The Planet Earth Series (saw 5 minutes at a friend's house last night and I wanted to WATCH ALL 6 DISCS IN A ROW. Seriously. A-MAZ-ING)
  3. Third basketball league win (undefeated this fall season!)
  4. Sharpies
  5. Electric blanket
  6. Howie
  7. Happy Hour at MASA (oh-just-the-best-Mexican-place-in-town)
  8. Two free meals in one day
  9. New phone
  10. Root Beer at lunch (a surprise for me from a nice, thoughtful doctor who shares my love of RB)

So really, when put in perspective, my 30 minutes at the dentist was just a blip on the screen, but still. The fluoride on my teeth feels GROSS.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Recipe for Living in the Moment

I am happy to say that I am doing pretty well with my goal to cook once each week. I've only missed one week, due to the mishap with the dogs. So I've tried new recipes, enjoyed some time to myself, improved my diet, and learned a lot (mostly about spices).

Most cooking and baking comes pretty naturally to me. I grew up around it, with my mom being an EXCELLENT caterer. Cooking doesn't really intimidate me since it really comes down to just following the instructions. Plus, if I have any questions, I have my mom - the walking encyclopedia on cooking - just one call away.

Not that it is all going perfectly. I would definitely be sugar-coating the situation if I didn't mention the fact that I am a complete scatterbrain. COMPLETE. I think it has something to do with the fact that I am an obsessive list maker, wiping out my need for any memory, thus creating a perpetual scatterbrained state. But that is another post.

This week I decided to make meatloaf. I only needed to buy the meat - which is thrilling to me, seeing as I am trying to build up the "pantry" that was previously completely bare! I actually have cooking basics in the house now! If you came over unannounced, I might not have to send you to the Tom Thumb to scrounge up some dinner! Yay! But I digress....

I bought the meat, rushed home, and put the meat on the stove. 15 minutes later, once the meat was browned, I realized my mistake. You don't brown the meat before you put it in the oven to cook into meatloaf! DOH! I figured there must be something I could make with 2 lbs of browned meat, but I didn't have the energy to look anything up, so I just called Mom. Of course she knew right off the top of her head that I should make Sloppy Joes, and she told me the recipe right then and there. Again, I had all the ingredients, and these are the most DELICIOUS Sloppy Joes ever (it's the brown sugar...)! I had forgotten how much I love Mom's food.

So now I'm tweaking my plan a bit. I will still cook once a week, but I am going to start with Mom's recipes. I want to know how to cook the standards I grew up with. And the best part is that my aunt wrote two cook books (like totally-legit-sold-millions-of-copies-cook-books), so I know exactly where to find every single recipe.

Plus, I'm really trying to live in the moment and not be living in a state of waiting for something to happen. Like "when I get married, then I'll (fill in the blank - "start cooking")". I do that a lot, and I can't always be waiting for something to happen, because I just don't know if I'll get married, or get a raise, or live somewhere else. I am single, living in this place, right now, with this job, these friends, going to this church, so I need to make the most of it.

And I'll start by mastering Mom's recipes. Married or not.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Was Right

Can't believe I haven't posted since last Thursday. The weekend got busy. But I was right...Thursday was AWESOME! The Twins game I went to ended up being probably the best game of the season! Totally amazing comeback from being down 1-6, it went into extra innings, and we beat the hated White Sox! So great. The fans were going crazy and it totally made me want playoffs! Too bad that dream has now been squashed. And by the White Sox, nonetheless. Rawr.

I came home from the game and I still hadn't heard the final baby news, so I stuck in The Office and watched the season premiere while I waited for a call. Very funny. I have some new favorite lines.

Just as I was finishing The Office, I got baby news! It was so awesome to hear about him. Now I will spend everyday until Christmas break wishing I could see him in person. Until then, I am very thankful for cameras and email!

The rest of the weekend was also great - my sister was in town and we went to the Desiring God Conference. We learned and also laughed. I love being around her because she really appreciates my humor. I think she is the only person who could and would laugh at comments I make while listening to Sinclair Ferguson.

Sunday was great with baptisms at church, a picnic, a baby shower, and finally some relaxation. The only bummer was the Vikings loss.

And now it is October. Can't believe it. Things are definitely more busy around here, and that has made the time fly!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Have a Feeling...

....that today is going to be AWESOME!



  • I was up every hour last night with the sick dog, but now I am done dog-sitting!

  • Just talked to Dad as he waits for his chemo - he missed last week's treatment due to an infected incision site, but this week he is feeling great and ready for chemo! Not loving the idea that he is having all those drugs pumped into him, but loving the idea that the drugs are working and he is hopefully getting back on schedule!



  • Twins won again last night, making tonight's game very important and exciting. And I will be there with fun friends!

  • The Office is FINALLY on tonight! Definitely will be taping and watching it after the game! Oh man, I LOVE THE OFFICE!
  • Most importantly, my best friend just sent me a text that SHE IS IN LABOR! Oh man, oh man, oh man. Even though they are hundreds of miles away, it will be SO exciting to welcome their baby into the world. And to finally find out the gender!

I know for sure that I will cry hard and laugh hard today. And it will be great!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On Dogs.....and Gag Reflexes

Don't be confused. There is a connection. And of course, a story. Or two.

First: I have a strong gag reflex. Is strong the right word? I gag while doing dishes, brushing my teeth, and when I smell bad things.

Second: I am a "small dog person". I love my roommate's dog, Howie. Please, indulge me and admire his cuteness:


No, that is not a stuffed animal. He is a real, living, breathing dog. To prove that he is very alive, very cute, and very tough, check out this video:


video


Okay, I'll stop. For now.

On to the story.

Now and again I dog sit for my manager. She has a BIG dog and a normal size dog. Here they are:



Ginormous. GI-NOR-MOUS.

She also has two cats. I am very-much-so not a cat person. But whatev. I deal.

Last time I dog-sat, she was gone for two weeks, so that meant picking up the poo in the yard, cleaning out the litter box, etc. INSERT GAG REFLEX HERE! I did okay while I was outside cleaning the poo where I had an ample amount of fresh air, but in the small room with the litter box, I was really struggling. I kept gasping for air and gagging, gagging, gagging. I thought it might be a good idea to put my shirt up over my nose so that the smell wouldn't bother me as much. That worked for a few minutes until I didn't respond fast enough to a very strong gag and I THREW UP INSIDE MY SHIRT. I could have simply pulled the shirt down and thrown up into the litter box, but no. I simply threw up in my shirt. Try getting that shirt off without making a mess all over your face. Yeah. Ugh.

This week I am just dog-sitting for a few nights, so I don't need to worry about the litter box. Good. But then came this morning. Fynn woke me up early with her barking, and when I opened my door I was greeted with a rancid smell. I walked downstairs to find doggy-diarrhea and throw up all over the living room. I spent the next hour and a half cleaning (and gagging). I wasn't really sure what to do for the dogs, but I hoped the sickness had passed and I headed to work.

Well, the sickness returned. I was greeted with more diarrhea and throw up when I got back from work. Poor puppy. Poor me.

To review: I really love these dogs and I love to dog-sit, but I am more pleased each day to have my beloved Howie. And his little, clean poops.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I've Got Nothin'

Nothing I have to say is quite as inspired as my sister's postings about her recent trip to Africa.

You should probably read some of her poems here and learn more about her trip here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ever-expanding Lists

I have an ever-expanding list of lists that are ever-expanding. It includes, but is not limited to:

  • To Do
  • Books to Read
  • Movies to See
  • People I Need to Catch Up With
  • Places To Go
  • Boy Who Aren't Interested
  • Games the Vikings Should've Won (thankfully I didn't add to this list today...)
  • House Projects

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Turning Leaves....and Turning Over New Leaves

I spent time in Brainerd last weekend and….the leaves are turning! Fall is here! I also am realizing that I need to turn over some of my own leaves.

The two biggest reflective times of the year for me have always been the New Year (for obvious reasons) and Fall (again, for pretty obvious reasons). Everything gets back “into swing” in the fall, so it always feels like a really appropriate time to reassess things as I jump into a more “scheduled” season.

Lately I have been feeling really, super unhealthy and just…..BLAH. About so much. Everything, really. Which is so not me. So I took some time at the cabin this weekend to really think about some changes that need to be made. And I came up with a list, made some action plans, and set some goals.

Here is how I want to turn over new leaves:

Eating habits: I have a TERRIBLE diet. The drive-through lady at McDonald’s KNOWS me. Ugh. I don’t ever eat fruits (allergic to them) or veggies. I never cook unless I have company, and I rarely have company. This just needs to change. I will feel so much better. GOAL: Cook one dinner a week. This way I will probably also have leftovers for another meal, so I will have at least a few healthy meals a week. (Bonus for another area: Saving money on eating out)

Sleeping habits: I don’t have a bed time. I watch TV while I go to sleep. I can’t fall asleep when I do go to bed (sometimes for hours. ANNOYING). I hit snooze for over an hour (no kidding). I am tired and lethargic the whole next day. I am now waking up multiple times a night. In other words, I need a pattern. GOAL: In bed by 10:30, asleep by 11. Step one was to move the TV to the den. Step two is to stop bringing my computer into bed with me to watch The Office. Step three is to start heading for bed at 9:30 (sounds early for a 10:30 bedtime, but I get DISTRACTED EASILY. I currently head for bed at 10:30 and usually end up lying down after 11, falling asleep after Midnight or 1). This may be the most difficult thing to change for me, but I have to try. (Bonus for another area: more energy to work out)

Exercise habits: I’ve mentioned before that I have a bum knee, so that has made working out difficult (although I should have been swimming all along…). GOAL: Exercise five days a week. I am currently exercising no days a week, but a few things will make this very attainable: I am in a tennis league on Mondays and a basketball league on Tuesdays. So that’s two times already. I also have physical therapy starting this week, so that should make the knee situation better and hopefully eliminate that excuse. (Bonus for another area: working out makes me not want to eat crappy things and undo the work I just did. And it helps me to justify my lethal cookie habit)

Money habits: My money is so tight. Almost two years ago I moved to the cities and started paying rent. Living in the cities in general is more expensive than Brainerd, and living around my friends has certainly made things more expensive. Add rent and entertainment money on top of a huge mortgage payment for the “cabin” and I am strapped. I’ve already made some changes this year with putting a little money away each month, but that doesn’t keep up with general house repairs, boat repairs, summer fun, etc. This is the one area where I haven’t set goals and I don’t really know what to do. I already don’t spend extravagantly, but I know I can make some up in the eating out area. I don’t buy many new clothes and I don’t get everything I want at Target. But the good news is that my church is offering the Financial Peace University this fall. The announcement was made on Sunday (after I had already made this list), so it was an easy decision for me to sign up and see what I can take away. I’ll keep you up to date. Interestingly enough I was also contacted on Monday (TOTALLY out of the blue) about possibly renting my cabin through the winter to a family needing to relocate to Brainerd. Praying about that possibility.

Last, but really most important: Devotional habits: I am so sporadic with my devotions. I know that I need to be in the Word each day but it doesn’t happen. GOAL: Devotions each day (preferably in the morning). I’m not a morning person (UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY), so that will be a stretch, but if I save it for the end of the day, it doesn’t happen. Again, I have some things in place that will help this along: I am starting a Precepts Bible Study with women at my church. From everything I’ve heard about it, the study is intense and time consuming, so you have to really do your homework. That will force me to put my time in. Also, the study is on Numbers, so it will force me to the OT, a place where I don’t spend much time. My small group at church is memorizing Galatians 5, so I will also have a place in the NT to spend some time.

So there it is. It’s a lot to change and I know that not all of it will “take” right away. I am a perfectionist and if I don’t live up to my standard of what “perfection” is for that day (usually it means getting the to-do list done) then I can be pretty hard on myself. Ultimately I know that my joy in getting a list done is not God’s joy. I need to remember to simply accept each day for what it is and be satisfied in Him. "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him" (not “when HB completes her list of things to do”). I hope I don’t become too legalistic with this list, but rather that it cultivates more discipline and a more healthy lifestyle. If you have thoughts and input, I am interested and open to ideas!

Happy Fall! I love the turning leaves.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I feel....lighter

After basketball games my team goes out for apps and drinks. Each time I get teased relentlessly about what my team has dubbed my “Mom wallet”. My wallet is…..well…..full. It is well organized, but it has a lot in it. I always just brush off their comments and embrace my Mom-ness (trust me when I say this is not the only area where I display Mom-like characteristics…) but lately I have just felt very cluttered. And not just with my wallet. I’m kinda obsessed with organization, yet I feel like I need to do a major purging of my dressers, closets, car, storage unit, purse, shelves, etc, etc, etc. So I decided to start with the Mom wallet.

I found out that, truly, my wallet was out of control. 64 cards. I HAD 64 CARDS PEOPLE! Credit cards, reward cards, membership cards, ID cards, etc. Out of control. I did some downsizing FER SHER. Cancelled some credit cards, tossed some useless cards, and moved everything out of my wallet besides cash, one credit card, driver’s license, and an insurance card.

And I somehow feel lighter. I got a sleek new clutch-thing to put those essentials in and I will keep my other cards in a coin purse. I feel so organized and, yes, lighter.

I saw something on Oprah once about the book Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? The premise is that the way you live affects all of your habits, including eating, exercising, etc. In general, people who take care of their home and possessions also take care of themselves. I can see the logic of it. I haven’t read the book, but it was an interesting show and I might page through the book sometime.

All I know is that I've only just cleaned out my wallet and I already feel lighter. Maybe tomorrow I’ll put down the chips and actually get to the gym.

Baby steps….

Saturday, September 6, 2008

One Half Hour

That's the exact amount of time I have been out of bed today.

I either got food poisoning or the flu. Either way, I AM SO SICK! Not fun.

And now it is back to bed. I'm bummed I was sick on a Saturday, but I'm just glad this wasn't Monday when I am headed to Green Bay for the Vikes/Pack game (have I mentioned that I am excited about that?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!).

Here's to hoping it was a 24-hour bug.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Seriously?!

Q: Have you ever been non-stop busy for four straight days and been very productive only to see your to-do list get longer and longer?
A: Yes. Very much so. Uh-huh.

I have just had an incredibly busy week. My work computer crashed, so I am recreating every report known to man, and I am still catching up on other things from being gone on vacation. I haven’t done any socializing at all, and work has just seemed to dominate my whole week. Even though it was a short week, I was SO looking forward to Friday. But then it came. And things seemed like they were unraveling.

It started with me waking up late (I was supposed to leave the house at 6:30 and I woke up at 6:37) and showing up late for a very important appointment. I was also unshowered. There was also no food or coffee in my belly. This, dear friends, let me tell you, is a person you do NOT want to encounter at the end of a long week. But alas, things went all right and I was off to pick up the lunch I ordered for another clinic.

As I went to get out of my car, I grabbed the door handle and it fell out. I tried every way I could, and there was no way to reattach it and get out of the driver’s door. All I could think was “Seriously?!” How does that happen?! I had a very busy few hours coming up with many appointments, so that meant getting in and out of my car many, many times. And it’s not like I have a car where I can just slide over to the passenger side and get out. Oh, no. I have an SUV. So that means literally taking all six feet of my body (in a suit) and climbing over the console to get out of the passenger side. Quite the scene.

It wasn’t until I had performed this act four times (and frantically called my service station to get a new handle before the weekend set in) that I realized there was nothing wrong with the handle from the outside of the car, so really all I need to do is roll down my window and open the door from the outside. Again, all I could think was “Seriously?!” I must have really been out of it and frazzled to not think of that. How stupid.

I ended up getting to the service station (they’ll fix it next week) and I got most of my appointments and errands done. Then it was back home for some Chinese delivery and watching movies while I do more work. I’m hoping to get most of my work done tonight so I can really enjoy my long weekend. I won’t be going back to work until next Wednesday, seeing as I’ll be going to Green Bay for the VIKES/PACK game on Monday night. I CANNOT WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I mean, really. I’m still chuckling that I didn’t figure out to roll down my window. Seriously! I wish you could have seen it.