Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Blessings

We had a great Christmas holiday and I feel so blessed. We flew out to Salt Lake for a couple of days and then headed up to Idaho to spend a week with Jared's parents. I feel blessed that I was able to take 7 days off work even though I just started in November. I feel blessed that there were no delays or complications on our flight out to Utah (although Jared and I did have to run full speed through the airport to catch our flight as they were announcing "last call" for boarding). I feel blessed that we were able to see several friends and family members, go skiing/snowboarding, and have a merry time. I feel blessed by the generosity of others. I feel especially blessed that a bird hit the plane we were supposed to fly home on and there was a convenient and remarkable delay that allowed us to spend a night in Dallas with my family, whom I did not plan on seeing over the holidays. Of course I feel blessed for the gifts I received, too, but most importantly, I'm grateful for the gifts of life, health, marriage, family, and the Savior.

I hope all of you had an equally Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

No Grinches Here

Sometimes I feel like Thanksgiving and Christmas come and go so fast, I forget to pause and enjoy it. There's all this anticipation for Christmas Day and then - poof! - it's over before you know it.

That is why I like to start listening to Christmas music in November. The more you get to celebrate Christmas, the better! I don't get the nonsense behind waiting for a certain date to pass before it's acceptable to start celebrating. Ridiculous! Also, since there's no such thing as Thanksgiving music, I'm a fan of letting the Thanksgiving holiday share Christmas' music. Which is why I sometimes (like this year) start listening to holiday music in October. It gets the Thanksgiving spirit flowing! And anyone who says otherwise is a grinch! ;)

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we spent this year in Miami with some of Jared's family, which was great. The only picture we have to show for it is this one, in which I look completely ridiculous. Enjoy.


We don't have a Christmas tree this year (we'll be out of town anyway), but we went shopping today and got a poinsettia and some awesome elf stockings for our mantle. Our first Christmas decorations! Speaking of elves, I have a little elf in the kitchen today making sweet treats like peppermint patties, chocolate-cinnamon-chili ice cream, and roasted banana ice cream. I love that elf.

My elf friend at my apartment about 4 years ago. I still can't believe that the man I'm married to now is the same goofy guy that used to come visit wearing spandex and thermals.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week one

My first week of work has come and gone. Turns out I am not used to actually doing something every day. Or waking up at 5:45 AM. I've been pooped this week. But at the same time, it feels so good to be doing something! My week was filled with orientation, reading stacks of policy and procedure manuals, and trying to navigate the labyrinth halls of the hospital. I can now successfully find my way from the bus stop to my office. And from my office to the bathroom. That's about it. I've got a lot of orienteering to do. I feel like a freshman in high school all over again. Give me a few weeks (or months?) and I'm sure I'll be used to it, but right now, that place is BIG.

Speaking of the bus stop, the hospital is so large and has such limited parking, that pretty much all employees have to park at a park & ride and take the city bus to the hospital. It sounded like a huge hassle and sucker-of-time at first (especially since I have a 30 minute commute just to get to the park and ride), but it's not that bad. It's about an hour total (my drive + bus ride), but riding the bus at least saves me from having to drive through the awful campus traffic myself. Did I mention it's a university hospital I'm working at? It is. University traffic + hospital traffic = incredible congestion.

Since I've been doing boring orientation stuff all week, it's hard to tell just yet what the job is going to be like. But I'm pretty sure I'll like it. I'll be working primarily on the adolescent psych unit and the eating disorders unit. I'm excited to learn to practice recreation therapy in a hospital setting.

Hooray for jobs!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Graveyard frights

Turns out Jared's blinking red bike light is perfect for jack-o-lanterns.

video

Happy Halloween!!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Good vibes are in the air

I want you all to know something...

Dreams come true. Prayers are answered.

I got a job!

Not just a job, but the job. The job I have been trying to get for over a month. The job that I thought eluded me when my first interview seemed to go horribly wrong. The job for which I endured an all-day interview. The job that is actually in my field and pays more than minimum wage (take that, Staples!).

As of yesterday, I am now officially licensed to practice as a recreational therapist in the state of North Carolina. (That is an answer to prayers, too. NC is picky and initially gave me grief about my transcript, saying I didn't meet the educational requirements to be licensed. Psshh, I showed them.)

So I start on Monday. I'll be working in the adolescent psych unit of a large hospital. With a large, respected, and well-established recreation therapy department. Which is awesome in nearly all regards. Only problem is, with my measly 2 years of experience, I feel like a kindergartener that just enrolled in college - it's amazing that I got in, but holy cow, now that I'm in, I'm scared.

.............................

In other news, Jared and I went camping last week. We got lost on the way there and didn't arrive at the trail head till well after sunset. But not to fear, we had 2 headlamps. When both lights started to fail and it started to rain and we still hadn't found the campsite, we decided to just stop right where we were and set up camp there. But we talked ourselves into looking just a few minutes longer and thankfully, we found it. Which was good because there was a firepit and building a fire just makes me feel better.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mawaige, that bwessed awangement, that dweam wifin a dweam

As I popped on over to CNN.com for the fourth time today (I'm still unemployed, what can I say?), I immediately noticed this headline.


I was reading along, generally disgusted by the degradation of morality in our world, when I read the most shocking paragraph of the article.

People seeking shorter, more secretive dalliances now have more opportunities than ever online. One example: The Ashley Madison Agency, a dating Web site for married men and women, which claims 4.5 million members and greets visitors with the motto, "Life is short. Have an affair."

My jaw dropped when I read that motto. Sure, it's not too dissimilar to the famous Las Vegas motto, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," but at least the Vegas motto leaves the specifics to your imagination. This dating service is blatant about their purpose. It disgusts me.

Besides disgust, the other feeling I get when I read things like this is gratitude. I'm grateful that I'm a Mormon. Why? Because I know that marriage between one man and one woman is not just "a useful social convention" as this article would tell you. Marriage is meant to last forever. Not just this lifetime, not just until you get sick of each other or someone new comes along. Forever.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Good Things Only

I have so much to be grateful for, I am rededicating myself to focus on the positive things in my life. Which really shouldn't be hard, considering I have a safe place to live, food on my table, knowledge of Jesus Christ, and a loving husband and family. What more do I need?

Besides, the past week has been awesome. Let me tell you why.

1. Vacation!!! Jared and I went to Miami last weekend to visit his sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. We had so much fun! It was great to hang out with them, go to the beach, see some sights, play the wii, and just relax.


Jared, Sarah, and baby A at Miami beach


On Sarah and Josh's balcony, overlooking the bay


1) Can you believe I'm holding a Burmese python?! 2) Jared and baby A looking adorable in their matching church clothes 3) downtown Miami

2. I had a second interview for a recreation therapy job. It would be an awesome opportunity, so I'm very grateful that I even found this open position. Since I'm only focusing on good things, I won't go into detail about the anguish of an 8 hour interview. I'm just glad it's over. ;)

3. Fall is here and I am inspired to do what I consider to be Fall cooking. I recently made pumpkin cheesecake, sweet potato soup, and spaghetti squash. Today I am going to make chicken pot pie for the first time. I love warm, hearty dishes and they are especially fun to make when the weather is cold and rainy (like it is today). Also, Jared made an absolutely perfect batch of peppermint ice cream last night. Ah, the simple pleasures of life.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Flash Mob

Ever heard of a flash mob? It's when a group of people secretly organize an event (on the internet), meet at a predetermined place, execute the action/event, and disperse as if nothing ever happened. I knew of them happening at BYU when I was there, but never actually participated in one, though I thought the idea was pretty neat.

But this....

THIS is the flash mob to beat all flash mobs. Ever.



Read this article for more details.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Woes of Unemployment

There's nothing like getting an interview for an awesome job to make you feel confident and optimistic.

There's nothing like botching an interview for an awesome job to make you feel small and hopeless.

I just finished a 2 hour phone interview. I've been studying and preparing for this interview for 2 days straight. I've spent 10-12 hours in the past 2 days studying Recreation Therapy books from college, trying to remember all the diagnoses and medical terminology and psychological theories that I learned. I wrote down 4 pages of possible questions and answers to common interview questions, including situational questions, and practiced them over and over.

And then I wasn't asked a single one of those questions. I wasn't asked one single question about my knowledge of therapeutic recreation. I wasn't asked what skills I have or what my strengths are or where I see myself in 5 years or what my philosophy of recreation therapy is or what activities I would use to treat a 10 year old patient or how I resolved a conflict with a supervisor.

The interviewers used behavioral interviewing techniques. As soon as they told me that's what they were about to do, I silently groaned. Besides the fact I find these interviews terribly uncomfortable, Jared just attended a conference last month in which a behavior specialist said that behavioral interviews are worthless.

The basic idea of behavioral interviewing is that past performance will predict future behavior. Instead of saying how you would react to a certain situation, you have to explain how you actually did react to a situation. This is supposed to guarantee more honest answers, because the interviewer will pick apart everything you say to make sure your story is complete.

Anyway, I think I realized after I got off the phone why I find these interviews so difficult. I have a terrible memory. So when I'm asked a question like, "describe a time when a negative situation could have been avoided by identifying a risk earlier," I kind of freak out. I hope the interviewers don't think I'm lying when my story seems a bit flaky. I just can't remember! Also, I don't think behavioral interviewing questions are necessarily applicable to every job. For instance, I was asked the question, "describe a time when you were working on a major project for a supervisor and the focus of the project changed, but the deadline remained the same." I think I can honestly say that I have never been in this situation. But I can't just say, "oh that's never happened to me. Next question, please." So I have to come up with some distantly related experience and try to cram it into the parameters of the question. Does that really help predict my future behavior? Or does it just demonstrate how well (or poorly) I can manipulate the question?

I'm so tired of job hunting. Please, someone just let me work!

.................

The optimist in me cannot end this post on such a pathetic note. I'm sure something will come along. Hopefully before we go broke.

Also, don't you love fall?

Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm squealing with delight!

Sorry if you think animals in clothing look ridiculous, but isn't this cute? I love the pigs!!!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Also, you're causing me to lose my hearing

Not that I retract any of my statements from my last post about the annoyances of cigarette smoke, but I think I might actually prefer to be subjected to cigarette smoke than to extremely aggravating, loud motorcycles. Yes, I think this may be my very biggest pet peeve EVER. Let's make that loud vehicles in general, whether it's the revving of an engine that splits my head open or the thumping of bass that rattles my windows, excessively (and pointlessly) loud vehicles are #1 on my hate list. At least today.

We've been dealing with the annoyances of Loud Motorcycle Man for over a month now. His piece of junk motorcycle takes at least 3-5 tries to start, so I get to hear that beautiful revving approximately 6-10 times per day. Today, it never would start. But he kept at it for a constant 10 minutes. Several times, it popped so loudly it sounded like a gunshot. This is it, I decided. No more. I'm not putting up with this. Problem is, while I have no inhibitions complaining about this on my blog, I'm way too non confrontational (er, chicken? but mostly non confrontational) to say something directly to him about it. Lame, I know. But I just can't. (I doubt it would make a difference, anyway. I've actually seen our sweet 80 year old neighbor complain to him already about disturbing the peace, and it hasn't changed a thing.) Instead, I'm thinking of writing him a letter and putting it on his door. Or making a complaint to our apartment manager. Or to the city. Or county. Or whomever else could possibly get him to shut that thing up.

Anyway, while researching our local noise ordinances, I came across this article that points out negative effects from loud noises. Of course, there's the potential for hearing loss. But what I really found interesting was the other possible problems. These are all warning signs that noise is affecting your well being.

If you can't hear consonants you can hear people talk but it sounds like they are mumbling. - Yes! So maybe Jared isn't mumbling after all! I just can't hear his consonants!

If you hear ringing in your ears a long time after you've been exposed to a loud noise. - Check.

If you feel an overwhelming sense of anger toward the person causing the noise. - Overwhelming enough to blog about it.

If you fantasize about violent reactions to the noise. - Um, check? I don't fantasize about me being violent. But I wouldn't mind if the motorcycle was damaged in a mysteriously violent way.

If you feel stressed, or if your heart beats more rapidly, at the onset of loud noise. - Um, yes. But that could be from the anger, right?

If you find yourself feeling less friendly, less charitable, or less communicative after being exposed to loud noise. - Check. All I want to do right now is complain.

If you get upset just thinking about loud noises and their origins. - Like right now?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Excuse me, but you are killing me

There are 2 dirty words I'd like to talk about today.

Secondhand smoke.

I have had this subject on my mind for a while now, but have refrained from writing anything for fear of sounding like a complete jerk. But I just found
this new article that shows that the American Heart Association is on my side in this argument, so I will proceed.

1. I was lounging at the pool one day when I overheard (eavesdropped?) a conversation between an older man and a woman about my age (I feel weird calling myself a "woman" - sounds too old. Let's just say girl.) So this man and girl strike up a conversation and the man mentions that he smokes. The girl goes on to tell him that he should definitely quit - she did, and it was hard, but worth it. Then she climbs up on her soapbox and starts ranting and raving about how nonsmokers have no
RIGHT to complain about people smoking because they just don't know how hard it is to quit.

Ok.

I will concede that one who has never smoked does not know what it is like to try to quit. Also, I do not question whatsoever how hard it is to quit. BUT, do not tell me I don't have a right to complain about people smoking around me. Regardless of whether or not it's a hard habit to kick, it does affect other people. It makes my apartment stink when my neighbors smoke. It is bad for my lungs. It is filthy to have cigarette butts on the sidewalks around my house. It makes my food taste funny in restaurants. So yeah, I think I will go right along complaining. Because I'm not ok with other people's bad habits intruding my life.

2. Shortly after the pool incident, I saw a woman smoking in her car. With the windows rolled up. AND A BABY IN THE BACKSEAT. I'm sure this happens all the time, but it really makes my blood boil to see it. I feel so sorry for those tiny babies and their tiny lungs.

3. Let's talk about this article I mentioned earlier. Basically, it reiterates what has been said before, but with new data. There is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke. Even a few puffs of a cigarette, OR breathing someone else's secondhand smoke increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
"Those exposed to air pollution* and secondhand smoke had a 20 percent to 30 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to those without exposure."
4. Besides the increase in risk of death from cardiovascular disease, secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, lung infections, asthma attacks, reduced lung function, and inner ear infections. Plus, it may be linked to breast cancer and puts babies at an increased risk for SIDS. This is all secondhand smoke we're talking about here. People who don't smoke are dying of cigarette smoke related causes! That is unacceptable!

So, what is to be done about this? Easy - smoking bans. Strict ones. Thank goodness, North Carolina just passed a bill to ban smoking in bars, restaurants, and government buildings. But it still doesn't include workplaces (or my neighbors' apartments, dangit). Without even looking for it, I actually just ran across an article in USA Today this morning about smoking bans. It says that 2 separate studies show that heart attack rates fall 17% within a year after smoking bans take effect. To put that into perspective,
"Given that there are about 920,000 heart attacks every year, the studies suggests that public smoking bans could prevent more than 150,000 of these, according to the Cardiology paper."
There's also this article on CNN, which reports the same new statistics, but also tells that secondhand smoke can affect your heart in as little as 20 minutes!

Sadly, smoking bans aren't going to help those children (or adults) who live with smokers. To give those nonsmokers a fair chance at health, smokers are going to have to be dramatically more responsible when it comes to where and when they smoke.

I don't mean to sound unsympathetic or judgmental. It is every individual's own prerogative to choose to use substances that are known carcinogens and have a great chance of leading to their untimely and completely preventable death. But it is not acceptable for people to use those substances in a way that contributes to the preventable death of innocent associates.

The end.

(Whew, that felt good.)

*While the issue of air pollution contributing to our possible death is equally disturbing, I am choosing to ignore it right now so I can more fully exert my wrath on the issue of secondhand smoke.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children...

and the heart of the children to their fathers.

I have been wanting to do family history research for a while now, but kept procrastinating getting started. Most of my excuse was the fact that the new family search website (new.familysearch.org) was not yet available in Utah when I was living there and I was just going to wait until that became available and made things easier. I've been in North Carolina since January though, so I've obviously procrastinated a bit. BUT, I just started looking up ancestors last night and today and it is so exciting! I have found out that many of my ancestors were born, married, or died RIGHT HERE in my county in North Carolina! This is extraordinarily exciting to me for some reason. I want to go find their graves and...I don't know...take pictures of them?

Seriously, if you have not already done so, check it out: new.familysearch.org.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A very round about way of saying "look at my new blog!"

I started out college as a Broadcast Journalism major, initially hoping to be a news anchor. Along the way, I discovered there were aspects of broadcasting I really enjoyed and others that I really hated.

Enjoyed: shooting and editing video. LOVED editing video. Even though we received little to no instruction on how to use the software (we used Avid), it was so fun to play around with and figure out.

Hated: everything else about reporting.

Needless to say, I did not stick with it. But the whole point of this introduction is that I was able to learn some cool things along the way and have some great opportunities. One of those opportunities was working in the newsroom. BYU did (still does?) a live newscast at 4:00 PM every day. (When I was working there, we aired only on campus channels, but were in the process of getting onto Provo cable.) Anyway, I really didn't know anything about this opportunity, but I was interviewing for a TA job and told my professor about my interest in the technical side of things more than the reporting side. She then proceeded to tell me that they were looking for someone to be the graphics editor for their newscast that started airing live in one week and would I be interested? I said sure, and was immediately hired. Keep in mind, they did not ask me anything about my graphics background or abilities - I think they just needed someone, anyone. And that is how I accidentally became the "graphics editor" for BYU Daily News.

When I started, they gave me about an hour of training on the program they use to produce the show (basically, it's what allows you to choose which camera angle goes live and when, and which graphics to put on screen and when). I didn't need to know all the ins and outs of this program, because that was the producer's job, but I had to be familiar enough with it to get all my graphics on screen at the right time. For instance, when the weather person was talking, I had to follow her cues and change the graphics from the nationwide map to the 5 day forecast at the appropriate time. In addition to the whole hour of training I received, they told me I could/should use Photoshop to create/edit graphics and pointed me in the direction of a Photoshop manual. So I had about a week to figure out how to create quality looking graphics for over-the-shoulder shots (when the anchors are talking and there is a graphic over their shoulder), CGs (character graphics - names and titles that appear below reporters and sources during a story), and weather. It was quite intimidating at first, and never really stopped being nerve wracking, especially when something went wrong during the newscast and a graphic didn't load properly and I had to scramble to find something and put it on screen manually. While I appreciated the trust they placed in me, I hated that I received basically no training, because I could have done such a better job if I had known more about Photoshop and the other program (I can't remember the name).

Anyway, fast forward to today. I don't remember anything about Photoshop. Seriously, what are all those layers about and how the heck do I work with them? I have such a terrible memory. BUT, I use a simple program called Photoscape to edit photos sometimes and even though it is not nearly as capable as Photoshop, you can get some decent results if you play with it long enough. I've been trying to figure out how to make my blog look better and finally decided to download a free banner and background. I used Photoscape to edit the banner and make it my own.

Here was the original banner:

And here is my new banner!


I'm kind of excited about it. ;) So for any of you who feel like you aren't quite up to the challenge of Photoshop, I recommend Photoscape as a great way to get started on photo editing. I also just downloaded paint.net which I've heard wonderful things about, but I haven't really used it yet. What do the rest of you (non-techies) use?

Monday, September 7, 2009

I am SO grown up

I am in the market for a sewing machine. I need something that is easy to use since my entire sewing experience involves making one very ugly wrap around skirt (leopard print, even....what was I thinking?) and a lopsided pair of pajama pants (which I happen to love). But I also want a machine that will grow with me. Meaning I hope to improve my sewing skills and don't want to regret buying such a cheap machine that it no longer fits my needs a couple years from now. Make sense?

So...who has suggestions? I'll take any advice I can get: recommendations for specific models, useful features I should look for, things I should stay away from.

Thanks, y'all!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Backyard Nature Walk

Today I went on a walk. I like taking walks, but I tend to freak myself out if I go alone. Initially, it's the fear of rapists that gets me. But then I hear things creak and see things move and start imagining how I'm going to get back home if I get bit by a rattlesnake because you're supposed to minimize movement so the venom doesn't spread. Don't get me wrong. I love the outdoors. But when I am alone in the woods, I start to get a little irrational.

So when I stepped on a leaf today and nearly gave myself a heart attack at the sound of it, I told myself to quit being a sissy. All I've seen today is a rabbit, a lizard, and a giant butterfly.

Nothing to be scared of.

But then I started to notice an extraordinary number of spiderwebs. Not only were they extraordinary in number, but they were extra extraordinary in size. We're talking 10-15 feet across, easy. I sometimes like to venture off the path a little bit, walk down by the stream, have some alone time. But after nearly walking into a giant, big-enough-to-catch-a-human spiderweb more than once, I decided to stick to the trail.

Nice and safe on the trail. All I'm seeing are flowers...


bugs...


mushrooms...


and then, right there in the middle of the nice safe trail: the giant beast of the forest, Aragog! Now I know what kind of monster was making those larger than life webs! This thing was dead and it still freaked me out.

Ugh.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wanderings around the northeast

Did I mention that Jared and I went to Niagara Falls/Palmyra/Kirtland this summer? We did. It was about a 9 hour drive from where we were in Greenville, Ohio. At first, I wasn't really looking forward to all that driving (and in such a short time period...we left on Friday and came back on Sunday), but I'm really glad we went. It was a lot of fun and I was glad to be able to see some places I had always wanted to see.

First, we went to Kirtland, Ohio and saw the historic Kirtland temple and community. Did you know the Kirtland temple doors were originally green? At some point, they must have been painted white, but once it was discovered that the doors were initially green, they were restored to their original color.


Next, we went to Niagara Falls. We got there Friday night just in time for the weekly fireworks show. That was pretty cool. We had missed the fireworks on Fourth of July because our poor dinky town got their fireworks confiscated, so we were excited to see an even better show than Greenville could have put on. We camped in the area and went back the next day to see the falls in the daylight. It rained really hard while we were there. Plus, we went on the Maid of the Mist boat ride, so we were pretty much soaked by the time we left.


But it was warm, so we still had a good time. And we went to Canada. We parked on the American side and walked across the bridge to Canada. I thought it was hilarious that the Canadian border patrol asked us "what is the nature of your visit today? Where are you going? Why?" I was tempted to say, "I don't know...we're really into natural landmarks...is there anything like that around here?"


But to Canada's credit, getting into Canada was a bazillion times faster than getting back into America. Those people were SLOW.


After a few hours of getting drenched at Niagara Falls, we headed to Palmyra. We went to the Palmyra temple...


...took a tour of the printing shop where the Book of Mormon was published, saw the Smith farm and the Sacred Grove...


...and then we headed to the Hill Cumorah pageant. It was great for the first 40 minutes, but then the sky unzipped and started pouring. Apparently rain doesn't usually stop them and they rarely have to cancel the show, but there was lightning in the area, so it had to be done. So I only got to see the first half of the show. I was really looking forward to seeing Jesus come in on a zip line, but alas, maybe some other time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why I Love Harris Teeter

Harris Teeter is not my new boyfriend. It is a grocery store. And it is awesome. It's hard to explain exactly why Harris Teeter is so superior to other stores, but I can honestly say I enjoy grocery shopping when I go to Harris Teeter. The best way to illuminate the supremacy of Harris Teeter is to compare it to the ultra crappy Food Lion.

  1. Harris Teeter and Food Lion both do the membership card thing, which I hate. BUT at Harris Teeter, you are not scorned for forgetting your card. You can just enter your phone number and still get your discount. At Food Lion, you have to pretend you didn't know you had to bring your card and give the cashier innocent eyes and hope that they scan their own card for you. Also, at Food Lion, sometimes the cashier might just forget to ask you for your card altogether (on a day when you actually have it) and you end up paying twice as much for your groceries.
  2. Speaking of cashiers, the ones at Harris Teeter are always nice! Food Lion apparently does not conduct interviews before hiring people, because their cashiers have terrible people skills. They hire the type of people who refuse to make eye contact and don't say a word to you except maybe to tell you your total.
  3. The customer service at Harris Teeter is so far above any other grocery store, it is impossible to even compare it to another. The other day we were buying a clearance item that did not have a price listed on the item or anywhere on the shelf. So…we got it for free. Yep. A free marinade injector. The cashier that was helping us was also training a new employee and explained to her that it was better to just give it to us for free than to hold the line up and make people wait longer. Can we say GREAT customer service one more time?!
  4. Harris Teeter has a way better deli and bakery than Food Lion.
  5. Harris Teeter carries awesome exotic fruits that I have never heard of but enjoy trying. Food Lion? Yeah right.
  6. To Jared's immense delight, Harris Teeter sells raspberry chipotle sauce, unlike Food Lion or any other grocery store in all of North Carolina (all the ones I've been to, anyway).
  7. Harris Teeter has "customer-in-training" shopping carts, which is definitely the most adorable service a grocery store has ever provided. They have these tiny shopping carts with a flag that says "Customer in Training" that little kids can push around. I love seeing little kids following their parents around like little ducklings with their own shopping cart.
  8. Harris Teeter does double-coupons every single day and triple…yes, TRIPLE! coupons on a regular basis. I saved $35 in coupons in one trip this week.
  9. Jared and I were not able to shop at Harris Teeter all summer since we were gone in Ohio. But good ol' Mr. Teeter noticed our absence and sent us 4 coupons for $5 off a $25 purchase to encourage us to come back. And that is why I will never shop anywhere else.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Edible things

The National Air Force museum is in Dayton, Ohio and it is huge and awesome. Jared and I went there a month or two ago, but were only able to spend an hour there. I figured that we must have seen about half the museum and assumed that if we went back, we would only need another hour. But when we decided to make another trip to Dayton, Jared insisted we needed 3.5 to 4 hours at the museum. I said fine, but I'm taking a book. Because there is no way a museum can keep my interest that long.

As it turns out, we had only seen 1 of the 7 exhibits in the hour we spent there. So we spent another 3+ hours there last week and it was actually really fascinating...even to me! Jared ran around drooling over the planes, while I was more interested in stuff like this:

SPACE FOOD! Those astronauts are serious about cutting down on weight.

Ok, so Jared was actually the one to point out the space food to me, but seriously, he was like a kid in a candy shop when it came to the planes.

Speaking of candy shops, we went to a chocolate factory last week to take a tour and see if we want to become chocolatiers.

Jared was the only male on the tour, but he held his own. He made a pretty awesome chocolate tulip and even challenged the ladies on the tour to try to top his.

Here's how you do it. First, you dip a small inflated balloon into tempered chocolate and roll it in your desired pattern.



Then you let it dry. Pop the balloon, peel it out, and voila! You have a tulip. Then fill it with chocolate mouse and garnish with more chocolate.



We took this picture just for you, Sarah H. Jared thought you would like it. It's made entirely of chocolate!



Friday, August 7, 2009

As promised

Since we just celebrated our 2 month anniversary yesterday (and by celebrated, I mean we worked in the corn fields), I figured it was about time to post some wedding pictures. So here you go.

Temple pictures

Luncheon and reception pictures

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I’m looking forward to…

-having a kitchen again! Can't wait to be able scramble eggs and bake bread. My summer without a kitchen has convinced and motivated me to cook more often and make more homemade (not from a box) meals. I'm super excited about my cooking magazine subscription Renae got me for my wedding!
-the pool at our apartment complex! And weather warm enough to swim!
-the gym at our complex! Even though I walk a few miles a day at work, I still feel like a lazy bum and can't wait to get back to the gym. (Ha! I say that like I'm a gym rat or something. Jared usually has to drag me to the gym, where I end up pretending to bike while actually reading magazines. But it's going to be different from now on!)
-having a shower that doesn't take 15 minutes to get warm. (The other day, we got home from work, turned the shower on, walked to the bank to get a form notarized, walked home, and the shower was still not hot enough to get in. This is a true story.)
-taking walks and slacklining in the park next to our apartment. We have an amazing and beautiful trail system that begins right at the edge of our complex.
-going mountain biking again! We've biked around town quite a bit here, but we haven't found any trails nearby.
-restaurants where they season their food. We've tried to not eat out too much, but when we don't have a kitchen and there's not much else to do in town, we've succumbed to the temptation quite a few times. Unfortunately, the food here in our neck of the woods has been disappointing. We've gone to: (1) the favorite local fast food, Maid-Rite, which makes a sloppy hamburger that people seriously line up for. But we both thought it was very bland. (2) the "best restaurant in Greenville," the Bistro off Broadway. Several people have told us this is the nicest restaurant in town, but we weren't impressed. The food tasted like it was frozen and reheated and there was honestly not a stitch of seasoning on my chicken. (3) the "best restaurant in the county," The Inn at Versailles. This place is supposed to be as fancy as it gets around here, so we made the 30 minute drive there for our 1-month anniversary. When you live in the country, your idea of fancy apparently gets a little skewed, though. For starters, the hostess was wearing shorts and flip flops. I got chicken marsala, which I usually LOVE, but it was so disgusting I couldn't even eat it. Jared finished it for me and I picked at his dish, which was only slightly better. I really like going to original, non-chain restaurants, but after these disappointing and overpriced experiences, I'm ready to go back to the city where I can find some good chain food restaurants like On the Border, Cheesecake Factory, and Carrabbas. And we can't wait to try this bbq place in Raleigh that we've seen featured on the travel channel on 2 different shows!

Oh! But I have to mention that we did find a wonderful ice cream shop in Ohio called Graeters. Sadly, the closest one to us is an hour away but they have awesome ice cream - some of the best mint chocolate chip I have ever tasted. Score one point for Ohio!

No offense to cute little Greenville, Ohio. It really is a quaint little town that could be quite nice if it fits your style, but I just can't wait to get HOME to the good ol' South.

Countdown to North Carolina: 11 days! Hooray!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My life as a migrant worker

So I figured since I was here in Ohio, I may as well work in the corn fields and earn a little bit of cash. I started working for Monsanto, the company Jared is interning with, 2 weeks ago. My job title is corn pollinator. Sweet, huh? Basically, I walk up and down miles of corn rows and shake off the pollen from the corn tassle (male part) into a paper bag and stick it over the female part, the shoot (what becomes the ear of corn). Pretty exciting stuff, no? There are about 60 of us seasonal workers and we pollinate about 12,000 - 16,000 plants a day! That's over 200 plants per person every day...more if not everyone shows up. And that's really only half of what we do. The other half is getting the plant ready for pollination, but you don't need those boring details. My job may not be glamorous, but it is impressive.

Overall, it hasn't been as bad as I was expecting. It has been raining a ton, so that makes for very muddy, wet working conditions. My feet are prunes by the end of the day. The last few days have been gloriously sunny though, so that has been nice. The biggest surprise/pain has been getting what they call corn rash. This is basically the poison ivy of corn. It's common for most people who wear short sleeves to get a slight corn rash on their arms from the pollen falling on their skin and mixing with their sweat. It manifests itself as redness and slight itching. I already knew I was allergic to pollen, so I have worn long sleeves in the field every day to try and prevent this, but got it anyway. For me, it turned my arms and hands and neck into flaming red bumps filled with pus. We're talking hundreds of bumps. And every day, I would just get more bumps on top of my bumps. I've never had poison ivy, but I can't imagine it being much worse than corn rash. I would take a Zyrtec every morning before work and 1-2 Benadryll when I got home, lather myself in hydrocortisone and collapse into an antihistimine-induced coma for a few hours. This seemed to be the only routine that provided any relief. After several days, it got so miserable, they let me switch to a different task in a part of the field that didn't have as much pollen and my rash got much better. Thank goodness that is over.

The best part of the job has been being able to go to work with Jared every day. We're not always in the same part of the field, but I definitely get to spend more time with him than I would if I was staying home. So on the whole, it has been a good choice to go work in the fields. But the work will end this week and I can go back to reading blogs and biking around town full-time. =)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

They're here!

I got my wedding pictures and I do plan to post tons of them on facebook, but here are a few for now! BIG thanks to Big Lou for taking these beautiful pictures! And thank you again to everyone who came to the wedding, gave us a gift, or helped in any way to make our wedding day so wonderful. It was perfect.

I put the pictures in an collage because it is just so much faster to upload. Click to enlarge!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Guess what I just found out!

I've known Jared for 4 years and somehow the fact that he can juggle has eluded my knowledge until last week. How did I not know this?


video

Friday, July 17, 2009

This is way too cool

I've been watching quite a bit of the Tour de France this year...well, more than I ever have before anyway. I think it's such an interesting event. I am fascinated by the dynamics of the competition. For hours, a group of riders may be working together, taking turns riding in the front or back of the group (like a flock of birds!), and then BAM! one rider takes off and leaves the rest behind. They change so quickly from a symbiotic relationship to a predator-prey relationship. Fascinating stuff. Add in the super-human speed and endurance and way-too-low-for-normal heartrates of these amazing athletes, and you have yourself one of the greatest sporting events in the world.

But that's not the point of this post. The point is the Chalkbot. The Chalkbot is the robotic child of the Livestrong Foundation, created to paint biodegradable chalk messages on the streets of the Tour de France. Anyone can submit messages to the Chalkbot on this website. You can basically write whatever you want. I think the idea is to write messages of hope, both for the riders and for people battling cancer. Supposedly they don't screen the messages, but I'm not sure how they choose which ones get printed. At first I thought I read that they would print all the messages they received up to 100,000. But recently, I read another article that said they would just email you if your message was chosen and send you a link to picture of it. Sorry I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but it's such an incredible idea, I had to share! Go submit your message right now! And let me know if yours gets chosen. I'm really curious to find out exactly how you get notified, see the picture, etc.

Monday, July 13, 2009

And the story continues...

The police found our car.

Hooray.

NOT.

I actually wish now that they had never found it, or at least they had waited until we officially mailed off the title to the insurance company and gotten our check. We were so close to having this headache resolved. Like, so close we could taste it. So close we had already planned how we were going to spend every dollar we received from the insurance company (all very wise expenditures, like paying off my car). Jared even flew home to North Carolina to pick up the title to his car (so we could sign it over to the insurance) and pick up my car so that we could eventually get home to North Carolina once we leave this wretched state.

But oh, the timing. Monday - the insurance company is ready to pay out. Just need to send them the title. Wednesday - Jared flies home to get said title. Thursday - Jared drives my Jeep back to Ohio, with said title in hand, ready to mail off. Friday - police find car and ruin everything.

Granted, this is exactly what we had been praying for - for the police to find our car. But the past few weeks have been so crazy, all I really want is for this to be over. But now that the car has been found, we have to deal with *picking the car up from the impound lot, **getting it repaired, and ***ordering new license plates from North Carolina (the plates were stolen).

*We drove the 2 hours to the impound lot today to see the car. We had to pay $55 just to retrieve our few personal belongings from the car. Seriously? I have to pay to get my own stuff out? We were not allowed to take the car, though, because it has no license plates. But it needs repairs anyway, so we got a tow truck to take it to the shop. As far as our belongings, they pretty much cleared us out. Seriously. They even took the emergency food (granola bars) Jared had hidden underneath the floorboard of his trunk. I had no hope for finding my phone or camera, but I was hoping to at least find my clothes or shoes or Jared's tools. But no, all gone. Even Jared's bike rack on top of the car was gone. Oh, but what did they leave for us? My Nalgene (filled with alcohol), our library books, and some cassette tapes. We felt pretty vindicated to find a $20 bill that we had hidden in the car. They may have stolen thousands from us, but we got our $20, suckers!

**Damage: We knew there would be a broken window because we saw broken glass where the car was stolen. Other than the window/door, there wasn't too much visible damage. The ignition is damaged - they obviously used a screwdriver or something to fiddle with the ignition to start the car. When we first tried to put the key in, it wouldn't fit. We finally got it in, but it will definitely need to be fixed. The antenna is also messed up, but that's minor. Mostly, the car was just trashed. It was filled with bottles, fast food wrappers, glasses...just trash in general. And the floorboards are soaked with alcohol. We were also disgusted to find that they actually used the ashtray as an ashtray. When Jared noticed that, he said, "don't they know what an ashtray is for? Storing coins!" All in all, not too bad. But I am not sitting in that vehicle until it has been sanitized.

***If any of you plan on having your car stolen, try to have it happen in the state where you live. Because having your car stolen out of state makes everything harder. Like trying to get new license plates. I called the NC DMV today and they said it will take 3-4 weeks for us to get new plates! We're only going to be in Ohio for 4.5 more weeks, so hopefully we get the plates in time to actually drive the car home. Because we are so not coming back.

The end...for now.

:)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

This is Awesome

Read this post. And watch the video.

Love it. Makes me feel better already about dealing with big, nasty companies. Next time I get mistreated, I'm going to hire someone to write a song about it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

UPDATE: T-Mobile sucks. Even more than I thought before.

Yesterday, we decided to make the hour long drive to the T-Mobile store so I could get a phone before Jared left for North Carolina (he is flying to NC today to pick up my Jeep which we left there). Originally, I had bought a prepaid phone at WalMart, but I found out there was a better prepaid phone at the T-Mobile store, so I took the WalMart one back. I knew the T-Mobile salesperson probably wouldn't be happy about me buying one of the cheap prepaid phones and getting a replacement sim card, but I didn't expect to get the load of crap she gave me: "I actually can't sell you a sim card for a prepaid phone...that is fraud...I could lose my job...blah, blah, blah." Lots of other crap ensued, including finding out I had to pay $20 for a new sim card AND the store refusing to sell me a sim card because I didn't have an ID. Finally, after I became very frustrated and may or may not have cried a little in exasperation, we figured out I could add Jared on to my account and then he could show his ID. But goodness gracious, was it a mess of an experience. In the end, I went back to WalMart and ended up with a phone from the 1990s. It's actually quite small, but it's got one of those old, terrible screens that hurts your eyes to look at.

Don't know why I felt the need to share so many boring details, but I get so frustrated with companies that claim to be all about their customers, but try to screw them at every corner. And by screw, I mean suck out every last penny.

On a positive note, I'm really grateful that I have a phone again and that all the other issues from having our car stolen are being resolved. We've pretty much got everything worked out with the banks, my new license is in the mail, and we should be getting the check from the car insurance in the next week or two. If only I could get my hot red high heels back...

Life really can be a mess sometimes. I was out with the missionaries tonight teaching a woman about the gospel of Jesus Christ and we started talking about why Heavenly Father allows bad things to happen. I was reminded that "it must needs me that there is an opposition in all things" because we can "[have] no joy" if we "[know] no misery." Isn't that so true? It's after something bad happens that we realize how good we have it. Not to be cliche, but I really think I am seriously, so blessed. ;)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What the Cell Phone Providers Won't Tell You...

...and why I hate them.

So, my phone was stolen as all of you are probably now aware, and I have found myself in a predicament. Right now, my service is suspended so the thugs who stole my phone can't use it. T-Mobile will only suspend my service for a maximum of 30 days. If I don't buy a new phone and call T-Mobile and ask them to reactivate my account within 30 days, they will automatically (without contacting me) terminate my account and charge me the astronomical early termination fee. I don't want to sign another 2 year agreement with T-Mobile because I plan on switching to Verizon and getting on Jared's (and his family's) plan as soon as my contract is over in a few months. Waaay cheaper.

So basically, my only option is to buy a phone at full price. But have you ever looked at the full prices of cell phones (i.e. - the price without a 2-yr service plan)? They are ridiculous. We're talking anywhere from $150 - $2000. I called T-Mobile and asked them what the absolute cheapest phone they have is and it was $80 for a piece of crap brick phone. I might not mind spending a $100 or so - or even more - on a phone if I would be able to use it for a long time. But Verizon uses a different network than T-Mobile, so their phones are not compatible. That means I will need to get another new phone in a few months when I switch over. (By the way, if you want to know more about cell phone providers and which ones have compatible networks, this is a great resource.

BUT, I am lucky enough to have a brother that used to work for T-Mobile and has all sorts of insider knowledge that the salespeople will never tell you. Maybe this is old news to some of you, but I had never hear this/thought of it before. My brother told me that I can just go to Wal-Mart or any other store that sells prepaid phones, buy one of those cheap phones (we're talking under $20), and ask T-Mobile to send me a new sim card (or go get one at a T-Mobile store...unfortunately I live in the country and the closest T-Mobile store is over an hour away). Just pop the new sim card in the admittedly-piece-of-crap-but-way-cheaper-than-full-price phone and you're good to go. My brother told me to make sure I get a T-Mobile prepaid phone, but you could try getting a phone from another provider as long as it uses a compatible network. Sometimes, providers "lock" their phones so they cannot be used with other service providers, though. In that case, you would have to get someone who works for your provider to unlock the phone for you. Again, reference this website for more info on that.

Is this news to anyone else?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Anniversary

Today is our one-month anniversary. Hooray! It's been a good month, despite the horrible things that have happened (our car being stolen, along with my identity and thousands of dollars, our hotel being infested with bedbugs and having to move rooms FOUR times). But hey, at least I have a husband to go through these things with. Anyway, I still don't have my wedding pictures, but here are a few more honeymoon pictures. I totally forgot all my makeup at home when we left for our honeymoon, so I wasn't too keen on taking lots of pictures. It was a beautiful place, though!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Feeling a bit...space-y

I have weird dreams. As random as they are though, there are usually a few constants:

ONE, if I am hot while I'm sleeping, I have a scary dream. This usually involves me running from a rapist, murderer, or kidnapper. Without fail, when I wake up from a scary dream, I find that I have way too many blankets on and I am sweating. You could say that my warm temperature was caused by the scary dream, but I am adamant that it is the other way around. My being warm causes scary dreams.

TWO, when I have to use the bathroom, I dream that I cannot find a usable toilet. The setting and the people may change, but the scenario is always the same. I run around searching for a toilet and eventually find one (or many) but they are all unusable, either because they are occupied, extremely filthy, overflowing, or more often, right out in the open...like in front of tons of people. Last week, I dreamed that I finally found a toilet, but it was a squatter like the ones Sadie told me about from China. Except this one wasn't even a hole in the ground; it was a grate. And it was in the middle of a train station or some other crowded, very public place. This really concerned me because I did not want to leave a mess, so I couldn't go.

Ok, so 3 nights ago, I had a dream that was just way more bizarre than my normal dreams. I had a dream that I went on a SPACE VACATION. Yes, a vacation to outer space. Don't know if we were on our honeymoon or what, but Jared and I boarded a spacecraft to head to the planet Violet where everything was violet - not ultraviolet, just violet...as in the color. It was a really long flight, but the spacecraft was very roomy and luxurious. Our seats were full length and reclined back to a near-horizontal position. Also, the flight attendants gave all the passengers Kindle readers to keep us occupied. Except I don't think there were any books on them. Just the internet, which I don't think Kindle readers actually have, but hey, this was my dream. So anyway, after what seemed like a couple days, we finally landed on Violet. I don't remember actually getting out of the spacecraft, though. I think maybe we just looked out the window. At this point, the flight attendants told us to take our seats again because we were heading back home. I remember dreading the long return flight and wishing I had had more time to explore.

I was pretty weirded out by this dream, but the next night it was back to normal with a running-from-a-creepy-man-peeing-in-a-glass-room dream.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pictures of Us

I realized I haven't posted any pictures in a long time, besides the dilapidated buildings. I don't have my wedding pictures yet, but here are some honeymoon pics.

Here is my handsome husband giving a thumbs-up to the hotel in North Myrtle Beach. It was a suite on the top (19th) floor with a full kitchen and balcony. It was bigger than the place we're staying in Ohio all summer. In fact, it rivals our apartment in North Carolina.

This is the view from our balcony. On the left side, you see the marsh, which is actually a lot prettier than I was expecting and on the right, of course, is the Atlantic Ocean. I LOVE the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike the Pacific, the water is WARM and the beachfronts are clean.

There are several Ripley's attractions in Myrtle Beach. Besides the Believe It or Not museum (which was actually kind of lame), we went to the Mirror Maze. Basically, it is just what is sounds like. A maze of mirrors. In this picture, you can see 2 reflections of me, but neither of these are actually me! Props to Jared for taking this picture.
And here we are looking slightly ridiculous at the beach right in front of our hotel. We had a really good time playing in the ocean. I especially enjoyed laying on my float and letting the waves lift me up. I think I'm going to take a float every time I go to the ocean from now on. Kept me way more entertained than just swimming in the water or trying to body surf.

And here is a picture of M&Ms with our faces on them! My dad surprised us and had these made for the wedding. The bottom white M&M is a picture of the bridge next to the gazebo where Jared proposed to me.

P.S. - No news on the stolen car yet. We made a list yesterday of all the things that were in the car and it turns out we lost a LOT more than we thought at first - about $2000 worth of belongings. It didn't seem like we had much in the car, but it adds up quickly because we had some pricey things - blackberry, waterproof digital camera (which I am very sad about), bike rack, tools, several shoes, gift cards, cash. We are still hoping and praying for a miracle.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

You know what sucks?

When you move to a tiny little town in a faraway state where you don't know anyone and then you travel 2 hours to get to a city that you think might be interesting to explore and then you go to an overpriced exhibit and come out to find that your CAR has been stolen and then you remember your purse and phone and credit cards and social security card and basically your whole identity was also in the car so you call the credit card companies and talk to a bunch of dumb people who put you on hold 18 thousand times while you're standing outside in the sun getting yet another sunburn and then you remember your ipod was in the car too and your expensive cycling shoes and your husband's only church shoes so now he has to wear tennis shoes or Chacos to church tomorrow and you have no way to get home and there's no one to call because you don't know anyone so you finally rent a car which is way, way overpriced and drive 2 hours home and all you want to do is curl up in bed and finish reading Confessions of a Shopaholic which you checked out from the library but you realize you can't because your library books were also in the car that was stolen!

Yeah, it sucks.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Tourist's Guide to Greenville

Should you ever decide to take a trip to the lovely Greenville, Ohio, here are some things you could do to entertain yourself. This may or may not be the actual list of what I do every day while my husband gets to go to his exciting job where he walks up and down rows of corn and counts plants (jealous!).

1. Walk around town aimlessly.
2. Bike around town aimlessly.
3. Go to Walmart.
4. Go to Goodwill.
5. Go to the library and get mobbed by employees (librarians? volunteers? I'll play it safe and call them employees) who are super-excited that they have a patron.
6. Walk around aimlessly.
7. Bike around aimlessly.
8. Take pictures of dilapidated buildings and then post them on your blog.
9. Walk around aimlessly.
10. Eat a nectarine.
*Here is where my husband comes home and our evening activities ensue.*
11. Drive up and down every street in town. This should take approximately 10 minutes.
12. Go to the "famous" sandwich shop in town and order the "famous loose-meat sandwich" which is actually just a messy hamburger that really is not that good.
13. Drive around aimlessly.
14. Go to bed early.

Who wants to come visit??????!