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...



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.


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 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. =)