Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Camping Prep

We have decided to 'upgrade' our life experiences and re-try something out that we used to like to do.


We have not done it since before we were married - likely it's been 7 years. Which also means for 7 years we have hauled around all the gear required to go camping but haven't actually done it.

That's changing.

Tent, tarp, camp chairs, extension cord and fan (it's Georgia after all), air mattresses, sheets and blankets, camp stove, cooking pots and utensils, pie iron and roasters, groceries, bug spray and sunscreen/hats, hiking clothes and toiletries, swimsuits...

We're ready! Watch out Vogel State Park, here we come!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bird of Prey

Look what Jeff caught on camera in our backyard! No birdies chirping today - they were all hiding...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fly versus Drive

Well, it's always cheaper for us to fly back to SD than drive - since it takes 3 days to get there in the car! But it might not be so clear for you - a report from MSNBC:

There are several major factors that influence the cost of a trip, including how fuel efficient your car is, how far you're traveling, how many people are traveling with you, and whether or not you can find good airline prices.

Here are the four things you'll want to consider as you do the math:

Step 1: Determine your vehicle's gas mileage.
You probably already have a good sense of what kind of gas mileage your car gets, but if you want to be really precise, a good resource is the EPA's car comparison calculator, which provides miles-per-gallon estimates for city and highway driving.

Step 2: Check gas costs.
Determine how much it will set you back to fill up your tank on your trip. The best source for this is AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report, which provides detailed gas prices in hundreds of markets across the U.S. Just punch in your origin, destination, and your vehicle's year, make and model and the website will churn out an estimate on fuel cost for your trip.

Step 3: Factor in the cost of tolls and hotels.
Don't forget to consider the amount of money you’ll be spending on tolls and, if you're traveling long distance, any hotels you might need along the way.

Step 4: Check airfare costs and compare.
Last but not least, check how much it will cost for your party to fly to your destination and do a cost comparison. Start your fare search with sites such as Kayak or Expedia, but keep in mind that not all airlines share their data with online travel agencies...and always check Delta.com.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Glee Season Finale

New York, New York!

Who loved the season finale of Glee? I DID!!!!

(Although the prom episode may have been stand-alone better. Just sayin. I loved the dresses. And the drama.)

We invited some friends over for the (one-hour later) finale, complete with chips and dip.

My awesome chip dip recipe:

1 lb hamburger
1 packet Ortega taco mix
1 lb Velveeta, cubed
1 small jar Tostito's salsa
1 small can green chilies

Brown up the hamburger, then add the taco mix according to the directions. Place into medium size crock pot (not the huge soup or whole chicken kind, and not the mini-wiener kind) with the cheese, salsa, and chilies. Wait 30 minutes and voila!
A Scrumptious snack.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Eat, Drink, and Be Married

Our friend Heidi got married this weekend!

We would not have missed their wedding and celebration for the world, so we made sure we got to Minneapolis early on Friday. We spent the day in a rental car - breakfast at Brueggers (mmm...I could really go for a bagel right now), visiting friends at our favorite fish stores, staking out our old house and apartment, lunch at Pino's (best pizza around), naps, and catching up with old friends in the evening. What a trip down memory lane!

On Saturday, it was pouring and cloudy...but the sun came out just in time for the wedding and reception! Our group had 'quite a showing' for being so many years removed from college...Kansas City, Tucson, Peoria, Apple Valley, Atlanta...what a great reunion.

The ceremony was beautiful for the words they said and the promises they made - I don't think I have seen two more seriously committed, or happier, people.

And...best use of Hallelujah Chorus ever as they walked down the aisle.

Best wishes for a long and happy life!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Japan, in 3 days or less

The only way you can do this:

fly out for 13 hours on Monday
arrive Tuesday night
work Tuesday night
work Wednesday all day
go out Wednesday evening
work Thursday morning
fly back 14 hours Thursday afternoon
arrive Thursday afternoon

We had time on Wednesday evening to visit Akihabara, the electronics district in downtown Tokyo. We SUCCESSFULLY navigated an hour long bus ride from Narita to Tokyo, then Tokyo Station, then 2 train stops to get there (GO US!!!) Sidenote: In other European countries, if you know a few bits of other romantic languages you can usually figure out signs / postings / directions. But Japanese symbols are another matter!

Our schedule was soooo busy working
...I did not have time to see Mount Fuji (about an hour from Narita as well), any temples, or any Japanese gardens with bonsai or koi ponds. Or any fish stores (the Japanese are crazy about their fish tanks).

I think I need to go back for vacation!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Growing Vegetables

Jeff looked at me yesterday and said, "Do you want to put in a vegetable garden?"
It was like he forgot I was my Grandma Kienow's granddaughter and Uncle Bob's niece..."YES!!!"
Our only problem was measuring our enthusiasm against our time and effort...
The Stats:
2-2x8 green treated 16 footers
Assorted screws, saws, drills, and workbenches
15 40-lb bags of topsoil (it was red, not black, but still topsoil)
6 wheelbarrow of composted dirt from our backyard pile
3 wheelbarrows of clay (regular dirt down here)
2 Celebrity Tomatoes
2 Better Boy Tomatoes
1 Red Pepper
1 Green Pepper
1 Jalepenos Plant (I am sensing salsa...)
1 Eggplant
Green beans from seed
Green leafy lettuce from seed
Basil from seed
Oregano from seed
Cilantro from seed
Rosemary from seed

And I'm so happy!

Jeff and I definitely stopped and smelled the gardenias on the way in after our crazy day. I wish I could bottle them up and sniff year round. (Wait, maybe that's already been done in a perfume. If anyone has suggestions, I'll take them.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Latex Foam Saved My Sleep

We got our new bed. It's awesome.

Jeff and I opened our eyes this morning, looked at each other with clear eyes with no rings underneath, and said, "Wow."

Our other bed had broken down into 2 pits of despair, with a mountain in the middle. We replaced it (thanks warranty) with 2 new box springs and a Sealy Latex Foam Mattress.

We decided to go with latex foam versus memory foam for a couple reasons:
1. Coolness: Latex foam is proven to be much cooler than memory foam
2. Sleep style: We are both side sleepers and it is easier to flip around on latex foam
3. You sleep "on" latex foam instead of "in" memory foam

I think our lives just got a lot better. At least 33% of our lives did!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Amy's Birthday

Happy Birthday (a little early) to one of the best ladies I know!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

To Heck With The Wedge

Thanks to my awesomeness (I got a gift card for good performance at work), we went out to Ted's Montana Grill for dinner.

What a surprise!

First of all, the decor made us feel right at home...dark wood chairs, tables, and booths and big bar. Just like something you might find in SD (or Wyoming, or Montana for that matter). Very Minervas-y or Mavericks-y.

We had to wait for about 30 minutes for a table and picked the perfect spot to relax in the meantime - 2 chairs directly between the front door and patio door. This way, we could people-watch and check out every appetizer and entree that went out the door. And there were TONS of monstrosities out the door that looked like a pile of lettuce.

Have you ever heard of The Wedge?

It's a quarter head of iceberg lettuce, covered in bleu cheese, bacon, and creamy dressing.

Now praytell - if you are at a restaurant that features BEEF and BISON on the menu, why would you get The Wedge?

Not us. I had the best steak I've had in a long time - better than any small town grill can do back home even. It was generously seasoned and perfectly seared with a bright red center - not even possible to recreate, I am sure. Completed with a side of roasted asparagus and mashed red potatoes...heaven.

Jeff had a burger with jalepenos and spicy cheese and Ted's sauce, fries, and a malt. Not just any malt, but the kind that comes with ice cream chunks clinging to the side of the frozen silver cup that is served on the side (since it doesn't all fit in the cup). Wow.

To Heck With The Wedge! We eat meat.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hummingbirds and Habaneros

My birthday week rounded out with a SUPER surprise from Jeff - he got me a hummingbird feeder! How cool is that?!?

If you've been to my house, you KNOW I love to feed the birds. Last year I was totally bummed that the hummingbirds did not stop at my house. Now they will!

We went out for a delicious Mexican lunch, followed by a shopping spree - including a new purse purchase.

And - I was not at work and did not check the Blackberry for work-stuff all day!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pre-Birthday Pensivity

It is the eve of my 30th birthday. I have been looking for this day (note, not exactly looking forward) all year.

When I turned 29 last year, I was extremely depressed. At some point, you have to "grow up"...and once you are 30, there is no leaning on your youth or innocence anymore.

No more "I don't know any better." Because you do.
No more "I am just too new." Because you're not.
No more "I will get around to it." Because time is ticking.

I have goals. And when I turned 29, I could clearly see that I had not set myself up for succeeding at all of them (or even half of them) before I turned 30. And that milestone - subconsciously - had been the end point / beginning point for me.

As the year progressed, I gained some perspective.
- I realized that I am much smarter - about a LOT of things - than when I was 22.
- I am better at navigating the world (I don't mean geography) than when I was 23.
- I am more confident than when I was 24.
- I am a much better wife and relationship-maker than when I was 25.
- I am in a much better emotional state than when I was 26.
- I am much more financially sound than when I was 27.
- I am more settled and secure than when I was 28.
- I am coming into my own while I am 29.

After this list...30 is going to be great.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Death to Remember

Happy Death day to Osama bin Laden.

I know he was a terrorist, the mastermind behind many other people's deaths, one of the causes of war...

yet it feels strange to me to celebrate someone's death.

Am I glad we found him and he can no longer cause terror? Yes.
Do I think detaining him / having a trial would have ignited further tensions? Yes.
Does this logic lead me to being glad he is out of the world? Yes.
Was justice served? Probably.
Do I celebrate? No. I just can't.

But I am glad he is gone.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Airplanes and Sunburns

Our first flight of the spring / summer is complete!

After many times of practicing on his simulator, Jeff flew his remote-controlled airplane yesterday with great success - 2 takeoffs and landings in pretty windy conditions.

A few loop-dee-loops and low passes pleased the crowd (me). About 30 minutes later, we left the high school parking lot / landing strip for home.

About 30 minutes after that...I noticed I had a sunburn. And it got progressively worse as the day went on. Today, it's blistering.

SERIOUSLY??? We were outside like, 30 or 45 minutes and my shoulders and arms are blistering??????

I had it on my face like I do every day BUT...I guess it's sunscreen season!