Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Can Do It



I've been living in my house for a couple weeks now. I closed about five weeks ago and have been having a random problem. My garage door has been coming open on it's own. You might think that I'm crazy.  That I leave and just forget to close it, and while that might occassionally be true since I'm not used to having a garage door....this is typically not the case. I sometimes sit in the driveway after I shut the door for about five minutes, checking email, sending texts, checking work voicemail. After I'm sure that it's really shut, off I go.

I thought that I'd fixed the problem about two weeks ago, because I was no longer coming home to an open garage door. I pushed some button on my wall opener. Wahoo! And yet, just to be safe, I continued to lock the door between the garage and my house. So today, I'm sitting in my dining room, wrapping presents, when suddenly, up goes the garage door. WTF??? I run downstairs, throw open the door to the garage look out, to watch the door going up. And then 20 seconds later it's going back down again. Clearly someone else is on my frequency.

So, I decided I'm smart enough to figure this out, right? I dig out the manual, read it over a few times and head downstairs, step stool and manual in hand. Move the car out of the garage. I begin my search for the "Learn" button. The picture in the manual only showed and extreme close up of a button. Clearly, no one has ever seen a button before. Hmm...not on this side, not on that side, or that side. Why wouldn't it be inside?  I have to pry the cover off of one end, hold this button in and wait. The button looked nothing like the picture FYI, thank God it was labeled. Then reprogram the remotes. No big deal, been there, done that. And then moved the car back inside. But here's the thing. I still have no clue if this actually worked. I like to think it did. Otherwise, I have to move all the stuff in my garage inside my house before I leave for trip to Iowa.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday baking

Don't you just love holiday baking? Amanda came over on Sunday and we make pretzels dipped in almond bark and covered in red and green sprinkles. And then we made candy cane cookies. Photo to come later. We found the recipe on allrecipes.com and decided to go with it because it got such good reviews. It was okay, but a bit awkward and if you were going to go with the five star review recipe, I'd recommend doing the following. Instead of waiting until after pulling the cookies out of the oven to put the sugar and crushed peppermints on top, pull them out halfway through and add it - we figured this out on the third sheet of cookies. Other suggestions involved glazing with Karo syrup but that still had a mixed result.
Today I made some caramel puff corn, it's in the oven RIGHT now. This stuff is awesome! It's so much better than caramel corn because the hulls don't get stuck in your teeth.
I've also got dinner in the crock pot - Baked potato soup, courtesy of IowaGirlEats.com. It smells great and I'm getting so hungry.
I have a lot of baking yet to do before I hit the road on Thursday to start my trek across Iowa - peanut butter balls, fudge, hot chocolate on a stick, gingerbread cookies on a I still have to work this week. Details, details. :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Not my kids, but still cute.


My sister had her friend, Kristin (she's my friend too), take Christmas pictures of Ethan and Anna, my niece and nephew. Kristin recently started her own business.  My nephew would wear sweats every day if he could, but obviously my sister wasn't going to let him wear that for the photos, hence the sweater and slacks. Ethan told Elizabeth he'd never worn a sweater before. I thought that was hilarious, that he can't remember the last time he's worn a sweater. Since he only had the sweater on for like 30 minutes, she asked him if he wanted to wear it to school the next day. His answer, "No, kids will make fun of me." HA!

Horrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Week

Have you ever read this book with the similar title? I've kind of felt like this was the week when nothing would go right.
Here's a quick laundry list:
-The Direct TV guy took an enternity to install my cable on Sunday (after he was 1.5 hours late). I really wanted to take a nap as I was coming down from a sugar high. Amanda and I had been baking.
-My furniture got delivered on Monday from NFM. YAY! Except the boxspring wouldn't fit up to the third floor. So their customer service contacted me, I ordered a split box, and was told I would get a $100 credit and free delivery. It's going to come on 12/29.
-Two days later in the mail, I received a charge for basically a second bed and a charge for delivery. Um, Hmmm....Still working on this.
-Qwest was supposed to come on Wednesday to install my internet, and a package would be delivered for my wireless. I did not need to be home. I was not home. I got done with my afternoon appointments and had a phone call that told me I needed to be home to install my internet. WTF??? Don't know when I'm going to get this done. Maybe next Wednesday.
-And last night, I locked myself out of my house. Pure genius.
-Tonight, when I was making dinner was a minor mishap (they have been getting smaller since the NFM issues), I set the smoke alarm off with my cooking. Which normally wouldn't be a big deal, but I was worried about the sprinkler system. It's only now that I'm remembering that those are heat sensored.
So yes, this week cannot end fast enough. Thankfully tomorrow night is a party at April's. :) And things will get better. I keep saying that, over and over.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Be back soon

Tomorrow I get internet....and then I will get back to blogging. Promise.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pack it up, Pack it in...

I've lived in my apartment for almost three years. This is the longest that I've lived anywhere since leaving home in 1997. Every semester in college, I would move to different room in the sorority house and then move out over the summer. So over time, I got to be a packing pro. And then I lived in a few apartments in Ames, did a 3 month at Elizabeth and JJ's (where I didn't unpack much) and moved in with Nikki for 18 months.
Since then, I've had an apartment for six months in West Des Moines and when it came time to leave there, professional movers packed and moved me. Really, really nice. And then when I left Lansing, just under three years ago, the professional movers came in again and packed up all my stuff and moved it again. They raced to see how fast they could pack it since there were four of them. They were done in an hour and a half. I haven't accumulated a ton of "personal stuff" since then, but I have picked up quite of bit of work related material. I have half a closet full, a filing cabinet and rolling cart. Seriously, several trees have been sacrificed on my behalf and in the name of insurance.
I feel so disorganized with this move and it's very frustrating. I typically just box my stuff up/or have it boxed up and run down my list of to do's. Then I'm off to destination B and settle in. I'm tired of having stuff at two places and just want it to move itself the 20 minutes across town. Hopefully in 24 - 36 hours I will feel much better about all of this. Or at least I'll have a box city on my hands. :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Walgreens trip


This post takes my couponing skills to the max. I love a bargain, and I like to get things for free. Who doesn't? On Black Friday, I went out to Walgreens, I go there a lot to get stuff for cheap. I didn't do as well as I would have liked because I messed up on my second transaction due to being in a hurry.

Edit: Clarification - Register Rewards are a "catalina" like item that Walgreens provides on certain items every week. They print after you pay for the item on a seperate machine from the receipt. If you've ever looked at an ad you might notice the price might say "Toothpaste $2.99 but with $1 in Register Rewards it's like getting it for $1.99." All of these Black Friday items were Register Rewarded at the actual price of the item. So, if you have an actual manufacturer coupon, you're making money after the first transaction because you're just rolling the rewards back and forth. CVS is another chain drugstore that has a reward program, but we don't have them here in Omaha.
Also, Walgreens, occassionally provides in store coupon books. This use to be a monthly thing,

First Transaction:
Infusium 23 Conditioner  = $4.99
Johnson & Johnson Soap = $5.99
Total before coupons =  $10.98
Infusium 23 coupon = - $ 2.00
Total with 6% tax   =    $9.64 (out of pocket). And I also received $11 in Register Rewards(RR).

So I went to the next store and picked up three Dove Deodarants:
3($3.99) = $11.97 - $11.00RR = $0.97 + $0.72(tax) = $1.75 out of pocket
And since I screwed up, I only received $4 in RR and $1 Dove coupon. (Instead of $12 in RR and $3 in coupons)

Third trip:
Johnson bodywash - $5.99 - $4RR = $1.99 + $0.36 (tax) = $2.35 (out of pocket) and $6 in RR.

Fourth and final transaction:
Aquafresh toothpaste $1.99
Dove deodarant $3.50 (I don't know why it was cheaper)
Puzzles as filler 2 for $1
Total $6.49 - $6 in RR + $0.39 cents in tax = $0.88 cents out of pocket plus $6 in RR for later and another $1 dove coupon.

Total out of pocket: $14.62. I did some minor price checking at Target and managed to save about $20 (including tax) not including the $6 in Register Rewards that I have to use for a future purchase, so not too bad, but I could have done better. I also really wanted to get some 64 packs of crayons that were going to work out to be 99 cents for my CASA bags for this spring, but they weren't in any of the three stores I visited.

Holy Housewarming!

I traveled back to Iowa for the Thanksgiving weekend and was incredibly grateful by how generous my family was with housewarming gifts. My mom had sent me a few emails weeks ago asking a few questions  about my current kitchen items. After hearing about my cheapo pots and pans and how the handles smoked in the broiler decided I needed something of a bit "better quality."  So, she and my dad were kind enough to buy me a set of 10 pots and pans with lids. With the impending mortgage, I am going to be cooking at home a LOT more and it's going to be nice to have a good set of cookware to use.

Here's the skillet, as you can see the sticker is still attached. And in the back, you can see the new paint for the 2nd floor.

As if that wasn't enough, Friday my aunt asked me if I wanted my Grandma Pugh's stoneware. My maternal grandmother died when I was five, so my memories of her are somewhat limited and unfortunately I missed out on a few traditions. I felt bad that I didn't even offer up the stoneware to my sister before saying yes. However, when I talked to Elizabeth today, she said, "Well, you never got a quilt, and everyone else in the family has one of those." The family tradition you're supposed to have a quilt made for you. I've pretty much given up hope that I will ever see this quilt. So basically, the stoneware is now my quilt. Here is what my new stoneware looks like - considering that it's at least as old as I am, it's held up well. Twelve place setting, and only two cups have chips.

Salad plates

Dinner plates, normally not a big flower fan on things, but I think Grandma did a good job on the pattern.

So after that, I'm already thinking I've made out like a bandit. Saturday morning, my aunt announced that she was going to buy me a housewarming gift - and that she would buy me a mixer - she gave me a price range. I was floored and after trying to tell her it wasn't necessary and getting nowhere... I hopped online and did some bargain shopping. Younkers BF prices were still in effect, plus they had a $30 mail in rebate. I got an awesome mixer for an insane price. It's new and shiny and black, technically "caviar." It has the dough hook, wire whip, flat beater and a pouring shield. Just in time for holiday baking. Normally Amanda and I do holiday baking and make fudge. Our arms get so tired from mixing that we go back and forth. This year, we'll just set a timer. :)


New mixer, better view of the new paint color, raffia ribbon.. It looks lonely. I need to add my toaster.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday Fun

Today, I didn't really do traditional "Black Friday" activities, but I don't typically shop either. I'd rather do something like Cyber Monday. I went to Walgreens and got a bunch of free/practically free things and will probably return tomorrow to finish it off. Once I'm done working that deal, I'll take a picture, with my results, I'm guessing I should end up with about $30 - $40 worth of stuff for about $15. We'll see.
Anyway, my sister and I were emailing and decided test run a Christmas baking project: Hot Chocolate on a Stick. I'd found it via a message board that linked this blog: http://giverslog.com/?p=3290 So, we checked out the ingredients, the only thing we didn't actually have - the popsicle sticks. A month ago, they would have been everywhere. Now, I couldn't find them to save my life. I showed up at my sister's after hitting Walgreens and ended up taking Anna to Hobby Lobby. "Shopping!?" Anna asked excitedly. She ran to get her shoes and coat. We improvised with lollipop sticks as that is what we could find.
My sister didn't own a double broiler so we created a makeshift one with two pots and it worked fine. We used baking disks from Hobby Lobby that I already had on hand and brought from Omaha. Melted those and then added the dry mix. And then my sister exclaimed, "This is so not going to work! We made fudge!" This stuff is thick. I was bound and determined to make this work. I'm patient, but I'm stubborn as hell. "It'll work, put it in the ziplock bag." My sister transferred it in the bag and I cut off a corner. Have you ever tried to pipe frosting? It works fine because of it's consistancy. Have you ever tried to pipe fudge? Elizabeth was laughing to the point that she was almost rolling on the floor. Which in turn made me laugh.
And after about two cubes, I decided it would be quicker and easier to just spoon the mixture into the cubes. After I spooned a row, I smoothed it, and then added the sticks. We let them set for about an hour or so and then they popped right out. That was my biggest concern, getting them out. We microwaved some milk and then proceeded to stir. And then we ran ito Elizabeth's biggest concern - the lollipop sticks are cardboard. Milk is hot. The chocolate came off the stick, and then we needed spoons to stir.
This hot chocolate was a-maz-ing!!! Seriously!!! Way better than Swiss Miss or any other powder. Elizabeth, Walker, Cyote and I all tried it and thought it was great. I'll take a couple pics of it tomorrow, when I head over to drop off Walker's birthday present.

Monday, November 23, 2009

One Bathroom down, one almost done....


This is a picture that I took last year in Lisbon, that I plan on blowing up to either 8x10 or 5x7 and framing. It's Lisbon's twin to the Golden Gate bridge.


The bathroom pulled together with a couple towels from Target. My sister did some touchup painting on Saturday. When I was doing some packing, I found my old Tiffany's box from a vase I received from an ex-boyfriend a few years ago.


Photo print from the Des Moines Art Festival a few years ago.


Shower curtain, also from Target. Need to find a liner that fits it yet, but it'll be a good week before I'm going to use it so I should be okay. I almost bought a black one, but thought it would be too dark. I'd also like to say that I almost lost the battle with the shower rod. There were some choice words used. I'm debating if I need some type of curtain for the window. It has blinds, but I'm also pretty close to an intersection.

Food Inc


Over the weekend, I rented Food, Inc. I found the movie interesting and it gave me something to think about regarding where my food comes from and my involvement in the process. After sleeping on it and giving it some more thought - I'm sad and disappointed in myself. Why? The way that I participate currently and the way that I was raised don't exactly match.

Let me explain.  Growing up my dad brought our milk home and I don't mean from the store, yes, I know this is not common. Up until I was about 2 and a half, he worked on a farm and just brought the milk home from the farm. After that he hauled milk for the almost 25 years and brought home almost every dairy product imaginable. The benefit? I knew where my dairy products were coming from, who was producing them, what their farms looked like, and how the process happened. I'd been on the farms when I'd traveled with my dad, met farmers, even been offered pets and I'd seen the processing plant. I also remember how often my dad tested this milk for bacteria and other issues - daily. So while I wasn't directly involved in the process, I imagine my parents felt comfortable about the start to finish of the dairy I consumed. And given the opportunity, I still will jump on the chance to get the products from them because I think the quality is better than anything I can find in the store. I'm also well aware that a lot of milk comes from the happy cows of California. Easily the number one producer of dairy in the country. Nowadays, when I go to the store, I have no clue how my milk gets there. None. It magically arrives on the shelf, I buy it and drink it. And repeat. I've switched to organic milk since the kind that I drink is local (by that I mean it's only a few hours away, and chances are good I could actually drive by their operation). I was encouraged to find out that Wal-Mart is no longer selling milk with rBST. While I don't shop at Wal-Mart, I can only imagine that other retailers will follow suit.

I could go on for days about different things from the movie that I'm concerned about - ammonia being used to "clean" or "purify" 70% of our meat from e coli and mad cow disease. Which after driving by some of the feed lots that I do, I somewhat understand. The entire segment on the larger chicken manufacturers/producers made me ill, but I feel pretty good about where my chicken comes from: http://www.smartchicken.com/ My reason for feeling good about this type of chicken is because Market to Market (Iowa produced PBS show) did a piece about this Nebraska based business a few years back and the owners gave the producers free access to anywhere in the factory from production line to kill floor. Nothing was off limits. That tells me that they are comfortable with their operation. I was so dismayed when I moved to MI a few years back and Smart Chicken wasn't available there. I looked yesterday and they now sell at the local Meijer's. I was also quite surprised to learn that the majority of soybeans come from only one manufacturer. How can that be legal? Wouldn't that be a monopoly?

One of the things that really frustrated me was seeing this overweight family saying they could not afford to eat healthy food. It's cheaper to do the dollar menu at the local fast food place. Come on. Give me a break. Heck it'd be cheaper to make a box of mac and cheese. (Healthier, no.) Or buy a loaf of bread and some lunch meat when you average the cost out over a few meals - amazingly, I can do math. I didn't exactly grow up in a weathly family as a kid, but my parents were smart enough to figure out how to plant a garden.  A packet of seeds doesn't cost that much and could yield quite a bit.  Also, call me crazy, but if you don't want tons and tons of something, maybe you and a friend could split a package of seeds? Or if you're like me and don't have the space to plant a garden, try container gardening. Here's a quick list of some of the stuff I remember us growing over the years: grapes (annual), raspberries (annual), tomatoes (annual), rhubarb (annual), plums, peppers (annual), corn, potatoes, watermelons, carrots, radishes, green beans, peas, cucumbers, and lettuce. And then there's two crazy processes called canning and freezing. OMG! Also, eating out when I was growing up was a luxury and was pretty rare.

p.s. Do you like the photo? It's from a local place called Brewburgers that was on the Food Network. And no I didn't eat all that cheese.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Moon

Up until my birthday at the end of July, I had never even opened a Twilight book. And then Amanda decided I needed to be part of the hysteria that is Twilight and gave me the first book as a a birthday gift. I then purchased the second book to read on work trip to Michigan. (Please note, that since then I have not read the 3rd or 4th books.)

So, with the upcoming release of New Moon, there's been lots of discussion about going to see the movie, and I will be seeing it Thanksgiving weekend in DSM unless something happens. But, my friend Jessica decided to assemble a group to go see it on opening night at midnight. Here's what's funny about the group that I went with....I was the youngest person in the group and I'm 30. The oldest person was about 38 or 39. Most of them also had kids. We met up at 94/95,  a bar and grill that Jessica's husband has part ownership in for drinks and snacks and then headed to the theatre around 11. The theatre was nice enough to convert our tickets to one screen since some people had 12:01 other 12:02, 12:04 and 12:05 shows.

In addition to the usual snacks, Kona grill and Coldstone were also there serving food. What cracked me up was that we were also dressed in jeans, cute shirts, cute shoes, make up etc. Almost all the teenagers that were there looked like they had rolled out of bed - pajama pants and Uggs? I'm not even kidding. We were hoping for some crazies. After securing our seats and getting snacks, there wasn't a whole lot of wait time left, the theatre even did a trivia contest in our theatre where you could win prizes. Someone in our group one free movie passes.

As for the movie....MUCH better than Twilight. And I've always been split between Team Edward and Team Jacob - somewhat Team Both of them. I'm leaning toward Team Jacob after this. Kristen Stewart kinda annoys me, I think it's her expression more than anything. I thought this stayed pretty true to the book though, as best as it can in two hours. Oh and I picked up the third book - thanks to Barnes and Noble for giving it to me for 50% off.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

exterior shots

Here are some exterior shots of the house:

The little window is my kitchen window, over the sink. I'm excited to go from, no garage to two car attached garage - just in time for winter. :)


This deck is a pretty good size. My realtor told me that if I want, I can put steps down to the grassy area, though right now there really isn't anywhere that I need to go. Maybe if the commercial lot gets developed into something like a strip mall, or if I frequently start walking to the strip mall on the next block over I will see a need for adding steps.


Amanda and Ellie came to visit on the night of my closing and brought me this flowering plant. My green thumb is pretty brown, but I've managed to keep this alive for almost a week now. My problem is that plants don't talk, so I forget to water them. We'll see if this makes it through week two.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Splash of Color

Friday, I woke up, got dressed and headed to Home Depot to buy paint. I'd done enough research to determine what colors I wanted the bathrooms painted. I figured that I could get both bathrooms painted on Friday. I grabbed my paint chips and headed to the paint counter and talked with the woman there about what I wanted. She told me with a bathroom, I might be able to get away with a quart per bathroom. SCORE!! While she was mixing up my paint, I assembled my supplies - Killz, brushes, rollers, trays, drop cloth, tape, edgers, etc. I grabbed my paint cans picked up my ladder and left the store
I also decided that I need to not go to Home Depot looking like complete and total crap. There were hot guys everywhere and I looked homeless in my old, paint-friendly attire. Okay, I probably didn't look homeless, but I certainly didn't look cute.
So, I after a stop at Target for snacks, it was off to the new home to get to work. Um, yeah, I forgot about how long it would take to tape off the room. The amount of time to tape everything off....forever. All the stupid corners. Once I got that done, the Killz went on quickly. Next I moved on to the paint. For this bathroom, I was going to use asparugus. Hmm...things turned out less than spectacular and I've decided that I need another coat of this paint before I'll be putting pictures up. I finished around 4 and headed back to my apartment so that I could shower up and head to Urbandale.
I got started on the third floor bathroom a bit later today than anticipated. I attended a going away party last night for Kaylen. (She works on the play 101 Dalmatians - if it's coming to a city near you, go check it out.) I was moving with the speed of a sloth this morning. Once I taped off the bathroom this afternoon, I added the Killz. It was time for the paint. One big bonus of the upstairs bathroom - it has a window. I was getting such a headache on Friday from the fumes that I kept having to stop and leave the room. I cracked the window during when I was applying the Killz. For the upstairs bathroom, the paint color is called "Embellished Blue" but it's practically Tiffany Box Blue. Love this color, and can't wait to get some accents. I almost got this completed with one coat before running out of paint. Just need to finish the corners and such and behind the stupid toilet. I realize I should have removed it, but that would most likely end poorly for me. I should have some more photos in a few days. :) And I have some pics of the exterior, but my camera is in my car, and it's FA-Reeezing here, so you'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So today i bought a house


Today I closed on my new home, which was very exciting!!!  I took the day off, which turned out to be very smart, because my closing got moved from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Since I had the morning free, I decided to kill some time by heading to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to check out their goods. If you've never been to a ReStore before, it's kind of an adventure, you never know what you're going to get. They have a collection of items that have been donated from both your average homeowner as well as contractors and businesses. So, if you want say, beige, but don't need it to be a specific shade of beige they may or may not have enough of it for you depending on how much you need. They also have some appliances etc. I was mainly going to check out their paint supplies and also see what kind of ceiling fans they had. I got lost on my way there. I thought I would be super cool and not use Carmen the Garmin to get there. I knew it was near the CASA office. So I got a bit lost, which was okay, I had time. Plus, I got to see some of Omaha that I don't normally see, and eventually busted Carmen out to find my way. The store ended up being a bust for what I was looking for, they had a crapload of wood stain, but since my flooring is fake wood, no dice. I texted my sister in an effort to convince her to buy a couch that would match the one that she owns and probably doesn't like much. She declined. So I headed home to kill some time.
And then finally, two rolled around and it was time to sign my life away. Paper after paper, document after document. They probably could have snuck something in there and said, "Here's where you give us your 401K." and I would have just said, "Where do I sign and initial?" After all that, I got the keys!!!! Yay! I made a quick stop at my friend Jessica's and then headed over to my new townhouse. Which I apparently forgot to take a picture of the outside. Doh.
Tomorrow I begin the painting of the bathrooms. And next weekend is the painting of the living room/dining room area.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The marker incident

My sister had to work for a few hour on Sunday because she missed most of last week since my nephew, Ethan, was sick. Sunday, when I left their house, my brother-in-law, JJ, was hanging out with the kids. Anna had been put down for a nap, and Ethan and JJ were going to play some Wii after I left.
At some point during the afternoon, JJ fell asleep, Anna woke up and located a blue marker. JJ was not asleep for long and woke up to discover his two and a half year old daughter had covered her hands and face in blue marker.  Elizabeth asked if I was still there for this, like I would have let my niece marker the daylights out of herself. I laughed and said, "No, but given her OCD, I can imagine what she looked like. JJ had a heckuva time getting her to take her shoes off for her nap." Apparently it wasn't just a few marks her and there, Anna had managed to cover her face with the marker. Which does and doesn't surprise me, considering what a neat freak she is, but she also likes things to be very exact. JJ looked at Ethan, as if to say, "How could you let your little sister do this?" And Ethan basically had a look that said, "You and Mom always say I'm not the boss of Anna." Luckily it was a washable marker and not permanent and it all came off. Still very funny to me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A little clarity

So growing up, whenver I'd start complaining about something or try to throw myself a fantastic pity party, my dad would always remind me that there were people in the world who had situations who were much more dire than mine. And I've tried to keep that in mind throughout my life, but at times, frustration gets the best of me.
Over the weekend, one thing after another seemed to be going wrong, things that would normally seem trivial and insignificant, the dryer ate my quarters and didn't dry my clothes, I had to work until 6:30 Friday night delaying leaving town, I got a massive bill from my doctor, the milkshake from Culvers basically exploded all over me in my car. Saturday, I ripped a contact and managed to lose my car on one of those supercurvy streets near the stadium. Nevermind that my stupid team couldn't locate the endzone with a road map. Seriously nothing really huge, but I've been letting work stress me out way too much lately which doesn't help and  I'm buying a house, which is just a bit stressful so I lost it for no real reason over the weekend.
I had a great Sunday morning/early afternoon with my sister, brother-in-law and Ethan and Anna which reminded me how lucky I am to have such a great family. After playing a little Wii, I left for Omaha, stopping to get a cup of coffee for the trip.
And then an email hit my blackberry from my mom. One of my dad's cousins had been killed around 6 a.m. Sunday morning in a car accident. My mom stated early speculation was that the other driver was drunk, which surprised me because of the time of day. He was only 41 and his 18 year old son had been with him as they were on their way to go hunting.  News spreads quickly even though we have a large family and everyone had heard by evening.
My great-aunt has been so amazing about everything. I guess that's what happens when you're in your 80s. She has incredible compassion toward the other family. And after hearing about everything that had happened I felt so childish and selfish over everything that I was whining and moaning about. My great-aunt had just lost her son, four of her grandchildren lost their father and she just took it all as part of God's will, accepting it as a part of life. I just don't know that I could be so calm, so at peace with all of this if it was someone close to me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lists, Lists, Lists

I am more than willing to admit, that I am perpetual listmaker. I'm probably a bit OCD about it if I were to be completely honest. Back in college, I used to seperate my lists into quadrants - school, Theta, personal, misc (random category of the moment). Now, when I've got a long to do list, I break it down into - home/around the house, work, financial, personal (i.e. gifts to buy, pick up drycleaning, etc.)
Currently, I've got a growing list all about moving. Things I need to start thinking about getting done. I'm very excited that with this move I don't need to get new doctors, normally that's always an item on my list.
Yesterday, I called and got the new utilities at the house switched into my name so that the cleaners could come in and clean in exchange for a $50 gift certificate.
I'm up to about 20 items with my list. A  lot of it involves changing my address, switching and canceling service from one location to the next. And then packing, cleaning, and getting rid of things. When you move, what's the thing that you always forget to do?
And now, I'm off to look at paint colors.

Girls' Night In

Back when I still lived in Des Moines, a group of us would periodically - (between monthly/bi-monthly), get together to hang out. It had started when someone was hosted a Pampered Chef party, then a Tastefully Simple party, then a Body Shop party. Then I think Abby suggested maybe we could get together and not have a sales person be present. So, each time one of us would plan the event, and we'd get together and we just took turns. It worked out great. And then, I moved to Michigan. Oops. But then I moved to Omaha. And so did some other Thetas from ISU. Kim moved away and then returned. Since Amanda and I were familiar with the concept, we thought it was time to bring it to a new city. Kim organized an event a few months back at a great little Mexican place (Senor Mateas - it's like Tasty Tacos with margaritas) and since then we haven't gotten back together as a group. So I took it upon myself to get us together again since many of us had mentioned.
Everyone agreed that Monday we'd meet up at my house for dinner. I'd make the main course of lasagna and everyone else would bring something - bread, salad, appetizer and dessert. Kim arrived first followed by Amanda with Ellie and April. So now we're just waiting for Salsa to arrive. And we're waiting, and waiting. Kim and I joke that she's probably napping again, like Saturday night when she overslept - so Kim calls Becky. Nope, she forgot. HAHAHA! All in all though the food turned out great, even though we didn't have salad. Everyone seemed to have a great time and our next get together is set for Monday. We're going to be checking out a place called SmashBurger since I guess Jenn Jenn is going to be in town. Should be good times

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Little Bit Sad

So if you want something not depressing, stop reading.
On Sunday, one of my former co-workers passed away. I've known him for five and a half years, he's been battling cancer for four and a half years, yes, almost the entire time that I'd known him, Bruce has had cancer. Bruce was an incredibly upbeat and optimistic person. Almost always happy, smiling. You'd have no clue that he was battling a stage four cancer and making regular visits to the Mayo Clinic. Up until mid-June 2008, he was still working full time, how, I have no clue. The treatment he was going through was intense and he had no feeling in his feet as a result.  He realized that he just couldn't keep up with the day to day demands that a job like mine has, I put in around 50 hours a week, easily and there's all the driving. So, he went onto long term disability.
A few weeks ago, the Mayo Clinic told him that there wasn't anything more that they could do, gave him 2 -3 weeks to live and sent him home. I've been mentally preparing myself since then. I knew it was coming. Quite honestly, I've been trying to prepare myself for a long time. I'd always hoped it would go into remission, that there would be a miracle, but the cancer kept spreading. So I think Sunday, I went a bit numb. Yesterday when I talked to my friend, M, who'd known Bruce since the days when they worked at Farm Bureau, I stayed strong, she was a wreck, rightfully so. She'd known him for 25 years.
And tonight when I was heading out for a dinner meeting and running down a list of to do's - buying a sympathy card was on the list and I lost it. And just bawled for about 10 minutes. Tomorrow (Wednesday), I travel to Carroll for the funeral. We'll see how that goes, I'm not big on crying in public, but I'm generally a mess at funerals.  Here's his obit: http://www.carrollspaper.com/main.asp?SectionID=3&SubSectionID=3&ArticleID=9010&TM=21.238

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Favorite Websites of Late...

Oh yes, I’m a Facebook addict as much as the next person. I hit up my news pages on a daily basis, and http://www.pandora.com/ has basically become a staple in my life. But here’s list of five other sites in the past couple months that I’ve started frequenting on a regular basis.


http://www.sporcle.com/ Trivia and Quizzes all in the same place. This site is hours of mindless or maybe I should say somewhat mentally challenging fun. For the trivia geek like me, it’s fantastic. And there’s quizzes on every topic – I avoid certain areas, I will not be naming the periodic table of elements any time ever. But I can name all 50 states, all the presidents and entirely too much pop culture.

http://www.1000awesomethings.com/  This is such a great feel good site. Yes, it’s indeed cheesy. I don’t care. Sometimes when you’re having a total crap day, cheese like this helps.

And when that doesn’t work...there’s always, http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com/ . My favorite of the week is an entry from October 26th. Sarcasm and passive aggresssive honesty at its finest.

http://www.iowagirleats.com/ – I’ve also recently discovered this site and realized that I’ve become really lazy and complacent with my cooking. It’s not that difficult or time consuming to do some cooking. Plus I think it’s pretty cool that she’s located in Central Iowa, so I should if I choose to make something that she’s making, I should be able to find it here in Omaha. I’ve decided to look past the fact that she roots for the wrong team.

I’m a big fan of couponing. And love sites that do the work ahead of time so that I know where the best deals are ala http://www.slickdeals.net/ . Last year at Christmas, I got my brother-in-law Aerosmith Guitar Hero with a Guitar for over 50% because of this site. Considering I doubt he uses it much, it was probably a good deal. Since then I’ve also discovered http://www.hotcouponworld.com/ , which I like because they will have info about my local grocery store. It’s because of sites like these that I sometimes leave places like Walgreens or Target and only pay $1 for $20 worth of stuff. I love saving money, who doesn't?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween

Seeing all of my friends' kids dressed up for Halloween has made me think back to when I was a kid. Getting dressed up and heading out door to door. There are many things that I didn't like about living in a small town, but Halloween was awesome! There was only between 90 - 100 houses and by the time I was eight, I was out going to every participating house in town. Loved it.

I wish I had a scanner because I'm pretty sure I have a picture of my favorite costume of all time. Smurfette. I loved the Smurfs as a kid and I was Smurfette for two years. And I'm not talking store bought costume either. And yet my mom went all out on our costumes, just like with baking, there is no halfway. My mom painted my face blue and bought a yellow string mop for my hair,  I wore white top like dress and blue pants. And blue gloves. Hilarious. I had to have been about four. What I want to know is how on earth I went for two hours without getting that make up everywhere.

This year, I'm going a bit more lowkey, I'm wearing some purple scrubs with a stethoscope, and I might pick up a surgical mask. I hope the scrubs fit, I bought them when I weighed a bit more. What was your favorite Halloween costume ever?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bacon Mac and a Kitchen Mishap

So last night I decided to make Bacon Mac. I'd been reading another blog online and this woman was talking about how fantastic this recipe from Cooking Light was for Mac and Cheese. I decided three things: I like Mac&Cheese, I like bacon, and I like Cooking Light. So in theory, this should be great.

If you're interested, the recipe is located here: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1918488
So, I bought the ingredients that I didn't have at home - green onion, bacon, cheddar cheese, hot sauce and got to work. I will tell you that it took forever for that milk to boil. I was getting hunnnnnngry.

So finally everythings ready to go into the broiler, which at my house is actually just my oven. The directions say, 'In a broiler safe dish..." I thought why wouldn't my cheapo set of pots be broiler safe? Seven minutes later, I open the oven door and pull out the dish, it looks fantastic by the way. Not quite as pretty as the picture in the link, but the handles are smoking. Yes, SMOKING!! And I can tell that they are warped and swollen for lack of a better term. Apparently they were not oven safe. I probably should of used a casserole dish. So, I'm guessing it's time to upgrade the pots and pans to something not so cheap.

On the upside, the Bacon Mac tasted delicious - bacon, cheesiness, little bit of cruchiness on top.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Theta related

Last night, I hosted the monthly Theta Alumnae board meeting. I decided that since it was so close to Halloween it should be a Halloween themed event. I’m pretty certain this is due in large part because of the time I spent living with Nikki. So....I had Halloween plates, napkins and cups. Who knew that Solo now made orange (and black) cups? You may remember these as keg cups. I made some pumpkin bars, bought some cider, wine, candy corn, peanuts and M&Ms. I didn't say this was going to be a healthy party.
So the first SNAFU happens - nobody can find my apartment. I'd said on the evite that if people needed directions to let me know. Nobody asked - so I figured since everyone was a native Omahan (but me) they all knew where they were going. Negatory, everyone got lost, I'm getting calls. And to make matters worse the light right outside my building was out. Seriously?!?!
So once people finally found my apartment the next problem happened - only ten people had RSVP'd, I had seating for nine and figured I'd sit on the floor. My living room area is small. It's probably the smallest of any apartment that I've ever lived in. For as "big" as my apartment is, the space is very poorly proportioned. But then only nine people show up, problem solved, until the other three people come and we're now at 12. Um, hmm...
And then, when I'd been getting my wine glasses out, I discovered I only had seven. I knew my diswasher attacked one. But I thought I had 12. Did four of them run off? Eh, no one seemed to care.

Plus, we're changing up our silent auction this year (Thank God) to a raffle of stuff that people will actually want to buy. In the past, we've done a silent auction where people buy stuff (or get it donated), bring it to our event and then bid on it, starting at about half of what the item is worth. The organizer of this year's event was frustrated with how little we raised for CASA and our scholarship fund last year and decided maybe having a handful of bigger items would be better. People can put all their raffle tickets toward just the item that they want and we're opening up the purchasing of the tickets to the general public. I think it should turn out well, since ALL the items were donated this year. And they're all group together in categories - i.e. golf package, wine package, beauty/spa package, dining package, party package. Hopefully we'll raise more money than last year.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Four weddings...

As many people know, I come from a large extended family. My dad is the oldest of 12 children. All of his brothers and sisters got married and had 2 to 3 kids. I'm the third oldest grandkid. Growing up, many years of my childhood were filled with the annual family wedding of the year. It was an event. In 2010, there will be not 1, or 2, or even 3, I am now up to FOUR family weddings. OMG!!!1!! A wedding in May, June, July and October.

I'm just hoping that next year doesn't turn into the Hugh Grant movie, because I really don't like the flipside of that idea.

Back to happier topics, I was recently involved in a online discussion about getting the father's permission/blessing for marriage. Both times that my sister has been engaged, her fiance has asked my dad for his permission/blessing, so I guess I just naturally assumed that someday when I got married, the guy I would marry would ask my dad too. That said, I'm also now 30. And while I talk to my dad several times a week, it's not like I get to see my parents very much. It's not like my parents support me or have in about 10 years. I just think it would be a nice gesture. Is this an antinquated tradition or do people still do this? Thoughts?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October weekends! :)

October has been a fantastic month for weekends! It really has - I had a great time down in KC hanging out with Kati, Stacy, Kim and Jenny and partying like I was in college the first weekend in October. Kati was such a trooper, even though she was uber pregnant. More than I will probably ever be. And I discovered just how much of a drinking amateur I was compared to Justin and his all of his Pike fraternity brothers. Yeesh! I finally made it to the Power & Light district. Caught up with Sara & Justin for a bit during some cold tailgating on Saturday. The sun forgot that it was invited as did ISU's kicker. But all in all a great weekend with lots of fantastic memories.

The next weekend, I went to a party where I again, forgot that I AM NOT IN COLLEGE ANYMORE. Jeez. Drinking games? Really? Up until like three or so? I had a great time, but needless to say, I was quite useless on Sunday. I think I slept until noon!

And the following weekend was Homecoming. I LOVE HOMECOMING! I always have, it's one of my favorite things. I mean, come on, I was Homecoming chair twice. You don't do that unless you're crazy or you really love something, or both. Probably both. My regular tailgating crew had gone AWOL, so I hooked up Salsa and Eric and their crew around 12:30 with plans to head over to Megan's around 3:00. It was cold. Despite having a tent and heaters, I was still cold. Yes, I'm a wimp. I don't care. I'm blaming the washers, and my poor ability to play washers despite a summer of practice. And ISU pulled off a big win, without much problem. And the next day was Nikki's baby shower. It was great to catch up with everyone I hadn't seen in forever.

And then this weekend, Salsa's cousin, Eric, was hosting a gamewatching party at his house for THE game. I'd been offered tickets on Thursday to go to Lincoln and even though Steph was coming to town, I decided I didn't need to witness what I figured would be a blood bath in person. I had easy access to a keg - and donuts and a turkey and a 60 inch TV. I'm going to stick with that and not be tormented, thanks though. The party started at 7:30 a.m., but we didn't get there until about 8:15 or so, which was great because the donuts were almost coming out of the fryer. We arrived and Kyle told us that Arnaud was out and so Robinson. Suddenly, having easy access to a keg seemed like a great idea. I was trying to remain optimistic, but really, the leading rusher in the Big 12 is out? YIKES!
For comedic relief, Eric and Kyle prepped the turkey. They weren't trying to be funny, but it was hilarious watching get the insides out and also cutting the handle off since it was going into the fryer. I'd never had fried turkey before, it was awesome! Plus, Couch brought buffalo chicken dip. If you've never had this stuff and you aren't lactose intolerant, I highly recommend making it sometime. (The recipe is on the foodnetwork.com) YUM!
The ratio of Cyclone fans to husker fans at the party ended up being about 4 to 1. AND then, it happened....ISU beat Nebraska in Lincoln for the first time in my life. It was unreal! I kept checking my phone to make sure it wasn't Christmas. :) I also realize more and more each game why I like Paul Rhoads. He seems like such a good person. Genuine. Real.
Yet another great weekend.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reusable bags


So, since I live in an apartment, I can't do a whole lot of recycling which annoys the daylights out of me. I heard that the average American uses between 250 and 300 plastic bags a year. That statistic about makes me want to throw up. Sometime last year, I started using recyclable bags and made it my goal this year to end up with less than 20 plastic sacks from the store. I admit that I periodically use them as trash sacks in my bathroom, but I have such a stockpile already that I really don't need more. AND as a bonus Hy-Vee gives me five cents per bag. I've gotten into the habit of just keeping a few in the car.  For months, I'd almost always ended up being checked out at Target by this little old lady who said, "We love green
people. I wish we gave a discount."

And then, the first week of October, I was at Target picking up a few items and the guy checking me out said, "And now, you get five cents off because of your bag!" Wahoo! While I appreciate the positive reinforcement and the extra savings, part of me wonders, would people be more apt to switch to reusable bags, if they were going to be charged for plastic sacks? I think Ikea charges for plastic bags, and i doubt it's hurting their business.

PC party

I made a last minute decision yesterday to attend a Pampered Chef party at my friend, Jessica's house.  She's in the alumnae group with me. I say last minute because she posted that she was having one on FB and I thought, what the heck, I can always use something. So I figured I'd go and get the pineapple slicer. It's similar to the apple slicer, just a lot bigger. I didn't end up getting this item. Instead as a group we ended up making three chicken recipes (which were all fantastic) and a dessert. I ended up getting some new measuring items (spoons and cups) and the most awesome knife ever!!!! I'm such a dork.  Seriously I never realized how awful my knives were until I used this knife!
In related news, I'm trying to figure out what to make for the ISU-Nebraska gamewatching party on Saturday. It will either be Stuffed French Toast from Cooking Light.
 http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=521691
Or, Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole from Cooking Light
http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1723431

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm almost a Homeowner....

So, my realtor and I got back together today to go over the counter offer. The owner of the construction company agreed to everything except the internal warranty. My realtor found a warranty to cover all that stuff through Service One for a decent price, so I'm good to go. I accepted the counter offer and signed the purchase agreement. And on November 12th, I will be a homeowner!!!! WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Saga Continues....

So, this morning I contacted my realtor and expressed my concerns about the financial stability of my builder. Or lack thereof.
She assured me that things were fine and that she would email over a letter from builders's bank stating as much. She said that what had happened was that builders's financing had been with one bank and their loans had then been sold to a bank in Australia (in the past year) who then called the loans due. Still not sitting well with me at this point. She said the owner had secured financing thru another bank - okay that's a bit better, but I'd read about a bunch of liens on the properties with the builder from contractors and wanted to make sure that those had been resolved as well. After everything that had happened with Regency Homes in Iowa and Benchmark in Omaha, I'm definitely concerned. The complex/area that I made that offer at has four units that are currently under construction (I've never seen any work being done on those units - basically it appears to be the outside is done, don't know about the inside) and then a LARGE open lot where another 40 or so units will go.


So, I asked for documentation that everything was good with their bank and my location. I've currently received a letter about another complex in town, but not my complex. My realtor called earlier tonight and said that there wasn't one for my complex and asked if it would make me feel better about this because the other realtor would get one if needed. I said I wanted one. My offer has expired. So that's where things are at this point.

This is fun.

Mad Men

I love this show! If you aren't watching it, you're missing out - it's on AMC on Sundays. It's set in the early 60s and the clothes that they wear are awesome. I love the dresses. On top of that the stuff that you witness happening is hilarious. I'm not talking about plotlines and such, I mean things that nowadays would be socially unacceptable.  The show centers around an ad agency. Ah, big account coming in for their presentation and they're doing a Hawaiian theme? Then they serve mai tais and hog roast (okay maybe not a hog roast) but definitely the alcohol and sandwiches that would relate. Everyone has alcohol in their offices, and so what if it's only nine a.m., they just might need a drink.  Of course the women drink when they're pregnant and smoke. Heck, everyone smokes. A LOT. And drinking and driving? No. Big. Deal. Oh and I just remembered my favorite thing from a few episodes back - grandpa letting the granddaughter drive. Which sounds innocent enough - if she wasn't eight!!! With her brother in the backseat and she was driving them to school. The wife, Betty, of the main character, Don, had a baby recently and of course he waited in a room. All the phrases that they used is so entertaining. LOVE. THIS. SHOW. There's a reason it's won best drama two years in a row.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And then I went for it...

So I decided to go with the "more expensive one." While I didn't like that it had been lived in before (biggest downer for a new complex for me). I did like that I'd get a little bit of a yard, and a bigger deck. And I liked the dining room area, and that it comes with blinds - which apparently aren't cheap. (So I'm told, I've never bought them.). I requested in my offer that it be cleaned. And then put some other junk in my offer.

The place comes with a 1 year interior warranty and 10 year exterior warranty. I had lunch today with my boss and some agents. I mentioned that I was going to be making an offer on a townhouse tonight and the one agent mentioned my builder and that they were having money problems. YIKES!!! I should start reading the newspaper or really watch the news everyday or something.  Um, hmmm....that's not cool. Chances are good that my first offer will of course - be rejected. And that's making me question what I want to do. Not because it'll be rejected but because I now have addtional information that I didn't previously have which I feel gives me more room to negotiate. I really like this townhouse, but I can walk away. There's other options out there in my price range. Sucks though, thought that I was done looking.

Monday, September 28, 2009

And then there were two...

So the search for "the place" has come down to the final two. I've decided on a townhouse development out west. Within that development I'm trying to decide which one of two places I want. Both are three stories, with two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and two car garages and have the same square footage. Oh, and all my appliance (washer, dryer, fridge, stove/range, dishwasher and microwave) are included. Both kitchens include a small island area. The first floor - bottom level is the garage, the second/middle floor is the kitchen, living room, pantry and a full bathroom. And the third floor is the two bedrooms (same size) with another full bathroom and the laundry room.

So what's the difference? Well....price of course and several other things.

On the plus side of the cheaper one:
-It's cheaper
-New, never been lived in before
-Larger pantry
-Larger kitchen
-Lots of nearby parking if people come to visit - not really a big plus, kinda minor.

On the negative side of the cheaper one:
-It's part of a 10 plex, so there's only windows on one side
-Smaller deck, overlooks the garage and currently open lot which will eventually be other townhomes.
-Lower grade carpet    
-Uses non-oak laminate in the kitchen, bathrooms, entry and laundry rooms. I'd rather have tile in some of these areas - that's not an option in either. I see this as a plus/minus

On the plus side for the more expensive one...
-Designated dining room area alcove
-Larger deck
-Only part of a four plex, so only neighbors on two sides and windows on two sides.
-Slightly upgraded carpet
-Comes with blinds
-My realtor also told me this one would have better resale value, not really a big concern for me since most likely my company will eventually move me and purchase my townhome.
-Oak laminate - I'm not really sure how crazy I am about this stuff, but apparently this is a plus, again, I'd probably want to replace some of this again, maybe plus/minus?

On the negative side for the more expensive one:
-Previously rented, i.e. not new
-Smaller kitchen
-The deck looks out onto an open lot which is going to be commercially developed
-The stovetop appeared to have "something" on it - i.e. near the burner it looks burnt - I can't explain it.

Ah, decisions, decisions...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pumpkins - another sign of Fall

So later this morning, when I'm taking a quick break, I'm going to whip up some pumpkin bars for tomorrow's tailgating festivities. I'm just using a recipe from allrecipes.com. It should be quick and easy and I make them using a can of pumpkin puree stuff. My sister likes to jokingly ask me if I'm using a real pumpkin or pumpkin from a can. She uses pumpkin from a can. What's so funny?

Well, back when I was living in MI, I had this boyfriend that decided we should make a pumpkin pie from scratch because "it would taste so much better." So we headed to the grocery store that was by my house, which mainly sold fresh produce and bought a baking pumpkin. Then we spent hours prepping this freaking thing - you have to oil the outside, soften it up in the oven and then you have to put it in a food processor or blender, use a colander and beat the bejeezus out of it to get it into a puree. We added all the other ingredients and stuck it into the oven to bake and then cool. Guess what?!? It tasted exactly the same! I was expecting this cosmic experience. Nope. And we'd spent the entire day doing this project. So moral of the story - save yourself some serious time and just use the canned stuff. Unless you have a day to kill - then have at it.

I hope no one at my tailgate tomorrow cares that I used a canned pumpkin. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I spend way too much time in my car

So I pretty much live in my car.  Seriously, I left home at 6:15 this a.m. and got home at 6:20 tonight. Hopefully the next car will have satellite radio. :) Anyway, as someone that spends way too much time in a car will tell you, you find ways to occupy your time. I sing. A lot. I notice random landmarks. And yesterday I finally found the number five gas station for my "Top Five Dumbest Gas Station Names." Some of these you'll recognize. These, by the way, are in no particular order.

Kum & Go - all over the midwest: Don't think I need to explain why this is on the list.
Almost Always Open - Ames, IA: I've thought this was the most random name for a gas station for ages. Why not just call it "Closed from 2:30 - 5:30" or  "Closed Sometimes" or something like that.
Infinite - Omaha, NE: When did gas become infinite? I've been under the impression that it was going to run out eventually, maybe they have a special source?
Tobacco & Phones 4 Less - Omaha, NE: Seriously, why sell gas? Why not just be a tobacco store? or a phone store? I've never actually been in one of these.
Dickie Doodles - Columbus, NE: I don't see why I need to explain this one either. I just hope it isn't some poor person's name.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weird recycling

So, in the summer of 2000, I called home to chat with my parents and they told me that they were tearing down my childhood home to build a new house.  They recycled a bunch of the brick from the 100 year old house, which was used on their basement/garage, reused some ledges from the windows as thresholds for doors and kept the stained glass. Additionally, they kept three inside doors. One for them, and one for my sister and me. I don't currently have my door in my possession and I've been trying to figure out what on earth I'm going to do with it. For the longest time, I was thinking coffee table. But it would be the longest coffee table ever.
But here's the thing. The dining table I have now I'm not really a fan of, it was passed down from my sister's friend (well, mine too), Kristin. I appreciated it at the time and I love free stuff, but not really me. So I was surfing the internet and thinking. These are around 7 foot doors. And then I found this link: http://designspongeshop.com/tablediy.pdf. That doesn't look to difficult. The door shouldn't need a ton of rehab work. The hardest part is going to be getting the hundred year plus old handle off. OH and attaching the legs. Minor detail, right. But should be a fun project in the future. And then I can get some fun chairs to go with it. Woot!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fun times....

So yesterday, one of the agencies I call on had their annual golf outing for the first time in my 2.5 years in the territory I was able to attend. Last year, I was in Portugal and the year before, the outing was the day before the Iowa-ISU game. About a month ago I decided I would attend and then I tried to remember the last time I'd even picked up my golf clubs....pretty sure I still lived in West Des Moines. Yikes. I had every intention of getting to the driving range before the outing, or a few lessons. Neither happened. Thank goodness it was best ball and I had some good golfers on my team. The weather yesterday afternoon was fantastic. Lucky for me, the course was just down the street about a mile or two from my house. I only lost one ball, that I hit into the water. And by some small miracle we won! Wahoo - free gift certicate to a local restaurant for me! Maybe I'll take a few lessons before next year. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Payback time....

So, my boss thinks he's really funny. The type that's always pulling a practical joke on someone. Almost a year and a half ago, on the Friday before Nikki's wedding, I was the lucky recipient of one of his practical jokes. Along with the help of the other Nebraska marketing rep, Nate, and the branch underwriting manager, Cory, he had a Husker license plate holder installed on my car. We were holding marketing meetings at the West Des Moines branch. That day I left the branch in a complete rush - I was getting a haircut at 3:30. We were supposed to be done at 2. I ran out of the office at 3:25 and hauled it to my stylist (yes, I still get my haircut in WDM). I then ran out to my aunt's house and changed and met a friend for dinner. The next morning, I went to get a pedicure before meeting up with Jason and Amanda. I walked out of the pedicure to the almost empty parking lot and looked around. Hmmm...there's a car like mine from Nebraska, but it can't be mine, it has a Husker license plate holder. WTF?!?!?! I called Amanda to ask if she had a screwdriver. This problem had to be remedied and soon. The screw up with the practical joke was that a) my boss had mentioned a long time ago he'd had this Husker license plate holder and b) he put it on the back.

And so I waited for the right time. And waited and waited. I think my boss thought that I just forgot. My boss is a HUGE Ohio State fan and Nate is a Husker fan. I thought about doing something when I was trapped in the office last summer. I didn't have anything else to do. I considered decorating my boss's office. But there would still be the problem of Nate's car. So when the reminder about our trip to Rochester came along, I asked Nate if he wanted to carpool. Check. And did he want to drive? Check (Not that I didn't have a back up plan in place). My boss would of course drive up too. Check. I ordered a cheapo license plate holder from the U of M. Packed my screwdriver. And on Tuesday night launched my assault. The lovely ISU and U of M license plate holders are now on the front of their cars. Neither of them have said a thing. Yet. I'm thinking if I can get thru the weekend without them noticing, it'll be great.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Weekend

I had a great weekend - despite the massively disappointing performance of my beloved Cyclones.
Friday night I was able to hang out with my sister and brother-in-law, niece and nephews. I have three nephews: Walker, 12, Cyote, 11, Ethan, 6 and my niece Anna is almost 2 and a half. What she lack in age and height Anna makes up for in attitude. Elizabeth had told me that they'd be having board game night which meant I stood half a chance of winning - I get schooled at Wii everytime I play. So after a healthy dinner of pizza and chocolate milk, it was time to put Anna to bed - teeth brushing, book reading, singing - meanwhile the boys were downstairs roughousing like boys apparently do - I didn't grow up with brothers. Then we settled in to play some Blokus. I really liked this game - not incredibly long, fast-paced. pretty easy to figure out too. And I love a good strategy game. After a couple rounds, it was time for the boys to brush their teeth and head to bed. Elizabeth and I chatted briefly and then I went to bed - I was getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturday.

Tailgating on Saturday was great. My friend, Jenny, has a spot in C4 and along with her good friend, Andrea, had prepped a bunch of breakfast burritos that just needed to be reheated on the grill. Not to mention the fruit salad, and smores brownies they'd made.YUM! I made Andrea a cookie cake for her birthday, even though she cheers for the wrong team. After meeting up with Steph and Matt, I showed up at the tailgate shortly after 7, and enjoyed my healthy breakfast complete with OJ and vodka. I did horribly at my bag playing yet again, but I question the scoring as I think some shady things went on. Steph and I also wondered over to see Salsa and her cousin, Eric who also lives in Omaha. AND I got to drink a beer from one of the cool ISU Bud Light cans. Yes, Bud Light, your marketing has worked on me.

And then we headed into the game The first quarter was going well, we scored. Steph and I went to the bathroom and came out to buy another bottle of water - total time - maybe 3 minutes in real life. Then we hear, "First and goal, Iowa," we looked at each other so confused and looked at the TV in the concourse as iowa scored. When we returned to our seats the guys let us know about our brilliant decision to do an onside kick. Well, I think people know what happened from there. The sights and sounds for me included watching an older Iowa fan getting arrested from our section during halftime. I don't think I've seen anyone get arrested since I sat in the student section. We toward the end of the third quarter. It was hot, we were tired. I was sunburnt. Naps were needed. I was so exhausted I fell asleep around 10 or 10:30.

Sunday, Ethan and Cyote both had soccer games, but since I needed to pack for a work trip, I wasn't able to go to both. I went to Ethan's soccer game. This is Ethan's first year of playing and considering he's just getting started, he's pretty good. His team is pretty good - my sister said they practice twice a week. He scored a few goals, made some good stops and had a few good passes. He told me earlier this year that he hopes to be as good as Cyote someday. Cyote had to try out for his team and plays in a competitive league.

So minus the part were my team sucked and I was sick the entire time, it was a great weekend - full of friends and family.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

WebMD

So I've been coming down with a little bit of a cold, or seasonal allergies since Monday morning and I went out to WebMD to plug in my symptoms. If you've never used the symptom checker thing you plug in a bunch of symptoms and it returns your potential diagnosis. So I plugged in sore throat, coughing, headache, little tired/rundown, runny nose - 20 things came back - most of them were things like a cold, or allergies or things along that line and I figured it was just a run of the mill cold. But, the best one - I could just be nearsighted. Huh? I didn't put anything in about my eyes. PLUS, I'm already nearsighted. I'm freaking blind as a bat. I keep a pair of old glasses in my car in case I'm a couple hours away from home and rip a contact.
Thanks WebMD! I realize that using the internet to diagnose my illnesses is not the best idea, but I figured I should start somewhere.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Let the Games Begin!


This is my favorite time of the year, I love fall and I love college football! In another week or two the leaves will start turning and the weather has already begun to get cooler. Iowa State's home opener was on Thursday and I took the day off, so that I could have lunch with my sister before hand. The day started off a bit poorly because it was pouring at home, some weirdo old lady cut me off at the coffee shop and I got half an hour away from home only to discover my tickets were on my kitchen counter. AAAGGGHHH!


So after those minor setbacks, my sister and I sat down to a late lunch. Heading up to Ames, I called Steph and stopped at Hy-Vee to pick up my contribution to our tailgate and get our beer. As I was waiting to checkout the guy ahead of me clearly knew the clerk checking him out and the two of them were discussing bars in town, which ones were good, which ones sucked. It was decided that Whiskey Creek (where I never went in college) was only good if you were looking for cougars. I'm thinking to myself, am I seriously listening to this? I thought maybe I was on some poorly produced TV show, so I only smirked and didn't laugh.


After that tailgating began where some bean bags were played, beer and food were consumed. Oh and some entrepreneur tried to sell us cigars! Which he assured us were genuine Cubans. And then, it was game time.....


I LOVE OUR SECTION!!!! We could technically move, but we opt to stay where we are because we like the people we sit by. The "Minnesota boys" one of whom once introduced himself to Steph as her future brother-in-law. (He was already married, he just decided she would marry his brother.) They're always fun. The perpetual optimist who sits next to me, and always has faith - though she doesn't always make it into the games (tailgating gets in the way). There's the couple who sits behind us and he said exactly what the rest of us where thinking the other night - "Um, no huddle offense? Seriously, my high school quarterback was play calling faster than this out of the huddle." And his wife his hitting him and telling him to shut up. Everyone else was laughing. The "I-S-U Cyclones!" guy, who, after every time we score, he leads our section in a cheer - though he was really slacking Thursday. And the new addition this year - three couples who look like they're about 25, who yell like hell - or at least the guys do. The boyfriend/husband of the one couple was trying to explain some of the yelling/clapping fundamentals to his significant other - which was also entertaining. Apparently he majored in cheering in college.

The other great thing about our seats is that we have a great view of the student section and I'm amazed at how syncronized they have become. Seriously, I don't think we were ever that together.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Reality Check

So over the weekend, one of my friends that I've known since 1st grade posted a photo trip down memory lane. There's some superswell pictures of me at age eight if you're interested on FB. She also posted some photos from our junior prom. And as I looked at the pictures, I realized just how out of shape and lazy I'd gotten with my workout regime since high school. I only weigh about 10 - 15 pounds more than I did in the photo and I'm only one dress size larger. The difference maker: in high school I was playing sports or working out five to six days a week, probably almost fifty weeks out of the year. Including camps and sports like track that I did just to keep in shape in the off (basketball and volleyball) season.

I make the lame-o excuse that right now, I just don't have time to work out, because I work too much. I put in around 50 plus hours a week of work, but seriously, it's not like I was sitting at home knitting in my free time in high school. I was pretty active in high school activities and since we lived 17 miles from the school it took an eternity to get there and back. My parents would occassionally ask me who I was when I walked in the door. So now I'm hoping that I can just convince my mom to come over every week and make all my meals for me because while I enjoy cooking, that's my other major timesuck. Chances that she's going to make the cross Iowa trek for me - not good. Maybe when she retires in the January.

One of my birthday gifts to me, was a sweet pair of running shoes. I just need start USING them. In the nice neighborhoods by my house. I'm not going to join a gym until after I buy a house, since I don't want to be driving across town to a gym.

I did realize that I hope I never have an awesome updo like I did in 1996 ever again. It was huge. (I'm wondering if there were any animals hiding in there.) And lots of curly trendil thingys. My hair for my senior prom was much better. I looked kinda like the "Pantene girl." Which probably makes no sense and I don't own a scanner.

Cake Ball recipe

Here's the cake ball recipe, per request. I've also added a few comments at the end because of my personal experiences...

Ingredients:
1 (18.25-ounce) boxed cake mix plus ingredients called for on box
1 (16-ounce) can prepared frosting
Almond Bark Coating or Confectionery Wafer coating (I used about a pound of almond bark per box mix).

Bake the cake according to package instructions. While warm, crumble the cake into a bowl with a hand mixer to a fine texture. Mix in frosting to make a paste, using 3/4 to a full can of frosting, according to taste. Chill the mixture for at least 2 hours.
Using a melon baller or your hands, form the mixture into 1 ½ -inch balls. Place the balls on wax paper; freeze at least 6 hours.
Working in small batches, remove the balls from the freezer and dip the balls into warm, melted Almond Bark Coating or Confectionery Wafer Coating, using toothpicks or forks to manipulate the balls. Remove the balls. Place the balls on wax paper to harden. Makes about 30 cake balls.

My notes: I only used about 3/4 can of frosting with each kind, but you can use more if you want. I made three different kinds, it's pretty much up to you what kind you want to do. If you do a google search, you'll find all kinds of flavor ideas. I used a melon baller, but I wouldn't make them as big as they recommend above, I think mine were about 3/4 to 1 inch. I ended up with about 40 balls of each kind. The red ones were confectionery wafers which I'm not used to working with and it was a LOT thicker than the white almond bark that I'm used to dealing with when making candy coated pretzels, etc. I did use melted dark chocolate confectionary wafers as the garnish type on the chocolate balls I made.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

CAKE!!!


I'm a big fan of baking. It's fun, it reminds me of so many happy memories from my childhood - making chocolate chip cookies with my mom when I little, decorating cookies for the holidays and all the awesome treats that my mom used to make for us back when we'd have treat days for school. Baking is almost a therauputic thing for me, but at the same time, if I bake stuff, I have to eat it, and I have no need to have an entire cake sitting around my home.

So, this summer, on of my many cousins got married and one of the foods available before dinner were cake balls. After doing a little internet research, apparently cake balls have become quite popular over the last couple years, for all kinds of occassions. Guess I'd been missing out.

So this past week, I decided to bake some up - I wanted to see if this was something that would be easy to make and also be something that I could give out to certain agencies. The end result, they are pretty easy to make, a bit time consuming, but easy. I mean, you use a boxed cake mix, and around a can of frosting. Seriously. The cake balls allow for a lot of variation, you can pretty much put any cake and frosting combo together that you want. I made three different kinds: yellow cake with buttercream frosting mixed in them, funfetti cake with vanilla frosting and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.
After mixing those two parts together and letting it set in the fridge for few hours, I got out my Pampered Chef scoop and scooped them on to wax paper and then put them into the freezer for six hours. Then the cake balls get dipped in almond bark. Here is where I made a bit of a mistake. I'd gone to Hobby Lobby and purchased some red confectionery wafers. I'm not used to working with them, and probably should have thinned them out a bit. I was dipping the yellow cake into the red mixture and after it set I noticed that it was seriously thick. I used white almond bark for the other two, turned out much better. You can see the photo of the end result. I'll probably make them again, maybe experiment with some different mixtures, the chocolate one is really rich.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's the big deal?

Is anyone else a bit annoyed about all the hub-bub the universities are causing over the "school colored" themed cans currently being sold by InBev, aka Anheuser-Busch aka Bud Light? Here's a link to a DM Register August 26 article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20090826/NEWS/908260360

I find the whole thing to be a bit annoying. As far as I can tell nowhere on the cans does it say, "Iowa State" or "ISU" or "Iowa" or "UofI", so what's to say that I wouldn't be buying those cans to support USC instead of ISU or Purdue instead of Iowa or heck, perhaps my sorority of choice? Do the universities not have better things to waste their time on, budget shortfalls? Will binge drinking at ISU and Iowa among underage college kids plummet once these cans return to normal colors? Has it spiked in the past couple weeks - as opposed to this time last year? Hmm...who are these 19 and 20 year olds drinking Bud Light anyway? Shouldn't they be drinking whatever is cheapest? Keystone Light, Natty Light, Busch Light, insert some fantastic crap light beer here.....

When I was a kid, I remember that my dad has some vintage looking ISU beer cans, that were gold and had a picture of Cy on them. I always though they were pretty cool. (I'm sure my dad still has them around somewhere, trust me, it's my dad.) I did a google search to see if I could find the manufacturer of these cans. I could not. What I did find, was that the back of the can said something like, "Not part of Iowa State University." Perhaps that was InBev's faux pas.

I guess what it all boils down to is that I'm going to be a bit annoyed if I can't purchase some of these cans for tailgating when I'm well over the legal drinking age.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What matters most...

So my job takes me all over the eastern part of Nebraska. Days like today I spend four to five hours in the car heading down the highway wanting the slow a.k.a. "Sunday drivers" to get the heck out of my way because I have places to be and people to see. Most likely my previous appointment ran long, I ended up grabbing Subway and I'm trying to make up time to get to my next stop. But Monday, I stayed in town and was checking out prospective offices, one of which was in a less than safe part of town. A place that I sure as heck wouldn't be hanging out after dark. The office that I visited wasn't in the worst of the worst but it was on the edge and to get to the next stop, I essentially drove through one of the worst parts of town, not by choice. My friend, Carmen the Garmin directed me that way.
It made me realize that one of the things that matters most to me when I'm looking for a new home is safety and security. If I live downtown, I definetly want to be in a secure building - like the one that I checked out the other day - it had key fobs, required a key combo to operate the elevator and required a key to get into the building. So pretty safe and secure. I feel pretty safe and secure in the building that I live in right now. Ever since I was robbed twice back when I still lived in West Des Moines, I don't live in basement level apartments - I make the thiefs work for my stuff. Yes, I realize that safety and security should be a no brainer, but when I was making my list of things to have, I didn't have it on the list. So, living in the 'hood, definitely out. Surprisingly I don't think that will eliminate that many townhomes that I was previously considering from the list.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

On the Hunt


I headed out to a few open houses today in a few different areas of town. Mainly what I'm looking for is either a townhouse or condo. In a perfect world, it would have at least two bedrooms, 1.5 (or more) bathrooms and a two car garage. The amount of garage space is the most flexible thing. I also want a bigger kitchen than my teeny, tiny kitchen. I found out a few things in the process:

a)I need to get a realtor, these people can practically smell me coming and want my money. I realize that they work off commission and while they may be well intentioned, I'm just getting started - but some of them were really agressive. Almost creepy. I also need to get a realtor because the place that I've been watching online for awhile has never had an open house and I want to find out what the heck is wrong with it - Why hasn't it sold? Why is it so much cheaper than the other places in the complex? I've hypothisized that someone was murdered in the unit - though it doesn't really go with the neighborhood. I have an incredibly active imagination.

b) Just because it says "townhouse" don't assume it's actually a townhome. One place was listed as a townhome, but it was half a duplex and would require me to maintain the yard, exterior of the building (roof, siding of the home), and do snow removal. The only bonus was that there was a small annual fee for some commons areas as opposed to monthly dues. My job isn't really condusive to all that kind of stuff - which is why I want a townhouse/condo in the first place! ARRGH!!!

c) Need to remember to keep an open mind. I went to check out a place downtown, completely for fun and ended up liking it. It'd be fun to be able to walk to bars, restaurants and concerts. The kitchen and bathroom could use a little bit of updating, but it came with parking (bonus) and a secure building (bonus).

Friday, August 21, 2009

30 going on 13?

So for the past few months my face has been breaking out and I can't get it to stop. It's driving me nuts. I have always been somewhat lucky that while I'm the pasty kid, my skin has been relatively clear. Occassional zit, sure. Explosion across the face. Not cool, not cool at all. Suddenly, I've got acne worse than I did in high school. While it's still not awful (thank goodness) I'm annoyed as all get out. I've tried about everything I can think of.... I changed my make up - I had switched to Bare Escentuals and I switched back to Clinique. I was using a liquid cleanser and went back to wipes (so much for the enviroment and trying to do one little thing to help). I even stopped using my beloved Tide laundry detergent thinking maybe I was allergic to my pillow case and switched to a dye free version.
I'm starting to wonder if the re-addition of caffiene to my life is the culprit. I quit drinking pop about four years ago and have recently picked up the wonderful latte drink habit. I'm working on cutting this back from the medium to small size. If this is the cause of the break out then my latte days are numbered. I'm also thinking I just might have to break down and go see a dermatologist. I'd just like to go back to looking like this, thanks. Okay, enough complaining.