October 29, 2009

The One with the Prayers

God is taking us on a faith journey once again.
He is whispering, "Trust me. I will provide."
There is too much to explain right now.
But I would ask for your prayers.
That we might be obedient.
Intent on walking in the will of God.
That He would be glorified.

Tomorrow begins are 4 day trip together.
Just the two of us!
As I've mentioned previously, we'll be in Cincinnati.
Staying in the incredible Millienium Hotel.
Sitting side by side as we soak in the worship.
The workshops.
The camaraderie that is being a youth worker.
And having an intensive 24 hours a day together.
Reflecting on what God has done.
Is what He is about to do.
Two years ago, our friend Matt came back from the NYWC.
He had this awesome bag as part of his "souvenirs" from the convention.
I mentioned how much I loved it.
Later that day it appeared on my desk.
A gift from him.
And little did I know (in fact I would have never guessed) that two years later my husband and I would attending the very same conference.
With a passion for teenagers.
You can't imagine how thrilled I am about this weekend.
The opportunity to rub shoulders with those who truly understand.
Understand the blessings and the upsets.
All that is youth ministry.
The chance to learn from those more experienced or those with different experiences.
To be open to what God has for us.
Where He wants us to go in this ministry.
Please pray for us these next 4 days.

And now for something completely different.
We are looking into pursuing photography in one capacity or another.
I would love to learn and improve my (lacking) skills.
We could make this a shared "hobby."
There are so many possibilities.
But at some point we have to start with a camera.
And I figured that YOU are the best people to ask.
Those of you with any photography skills.
What is your favorite camera?
What would you recommend for beginners?
I can't think of other questions to ask right now, so any other helpful information you can throw at us would be most appreciated.

:::the adorkable one.

October 28, 2009

The One with Hotwire

I live for a good deal.
It's hard for me to fork over payment for anything without being 100% certain I am getting the lowest possible price.
Even if the difference is 15 cents.
This philosophy of mine definitely comes into play when I'm booking hotels for various trips.
I have had success with Expedia.com but my favorite hotel and flight site is Hotwire.com.
Kevin and I will be heading to Cincinnati this Friday for a 4 day conference.
I can hardly wait!
Nearly two months ago I set out to find us a fabulous hotel for a great price.
Hotwire wasn't really coming through for me at that point.
So I ended up booking with Expedia.
The hotel seemed nice enough.
Something along the lines of a Comfort Inn.
A two-star hotel, which is the "class" I am used to.
However, I started getting worried as I read and re-read "traveler reviews" of this particular hotel located 15 minutes from the Convention Center.
I knew it would be fine for a night, but three?!
I wanted to be especially comfortable.
This was going to double as some fantastic time away with my husband too.
I kind of wanted a hotel a step up from my usual choice.
Luckily, Expedia allows for cancellations so I wasn't afraid to check around.

Sunday night I headed to good ol' Hotwire.
Sure enough I found what I wanted.
A three and a half star hotel 0.0-0.7 miles from the Convention Center.
When booking through Hotwire, you don't know the exact hotel until you've confirmed your trip.
Nor is your trip able to be cancelled or changed in any way.
That's how they (claim) to keep prices so low.
After looking at the available hotel amenities and Google mapping the possible hotels this "3.5 star" was referring to, I booked it.
For $57 a night.
Even lower than the 2 star 15 minutes away.
The total cost (with all fees) is just $6 more than that slightly shady find on Expedia.
When I had finally clicked "confirm" I discovered the name of our hotel.
Just wow.
What a great find.
This hotel just happens to be connected by a walkway to the Convention Center.
It looks amazing.
I can't wait to settle in.
Now, the only problem about downtown hotels is parking fees.
But we were going to have to pay for a parking garage if we were commuting.
So I figured we could handle a couple extra dollars in exchange for proximity and pure comfortability.
(Is that even a word? Did I totally botch the use of it? meh.)

Hotwire.com works for me.
No where else can you find 3 and 4 star hotels for a lower cost than your 2 stars.
I have used Hotwire to book great hotels for our teen trips to Dare2Share.
Last year everyone was so impressed with my find.
A Hilton hotel for $39 a night?!
And for this year's trip in February a Sheraton for $46 a night!
And back in May I booked a round trip flight to Orlando for $139.
But, as I said, be certain in your decision before confirming.
Because there's no going back.
But it's so worth it.

For other great tips check out the blog carnival over at We Are THAT Family.

October 26, 2009

The One with the Red Peppers

Are you ashamed that you wore your sweat pants all day?
Hoping no one saw you pick that wedgie?
Wishing you could stop yourself from demolishing an entire bag of popcorn?
Well, don't be! Join MckMama and many others as we are brutally honest about our recent antics.

I most certainly did not watch Twilight last Sunday with my husband.
We would never borrow a movie from a teenager.
A movie that has had exceedingly too much hype.
Nope, we would never feel the "need" to catch up with America and watch the movie after not having read the Twilight saga.
And there's definitely not a part of me that wants to own the collection.

It was not my guest bathroom toilet that was found by a guest to be mold ridden.
I am always aware of the extra bathrooms our home has.
And always always clean them thoroughly before hosting.

And I was certainly not disappointed to have my dinner plate taken from me.
On Saturday.
With my family.
Out to dinner.
After not finding a hair on top of my half-eaten fries.
Nope, I would never be wishing for a second order of those grease laden "vegetables."

What about you?

I've got the itch.
I don't know where it came from.
But I suddenly have a strong desire for these shoes.
Maybe that just makes me a "follower."
But I don't really care.
I think they're swank.
But I could also go for a different color.
Something fun.
Like bubble gum pink.
Or slate blue.
Or navy. I'll always be a navy fan.
Or these cutesy girly classic white ones.
And I wish I could fit into these.
Oh, and I must confess.
When I think of these tennis shoes in my head, I know they are called "Chuck" something or others.
But I always go with "Chuck Norris."
Which really isn't it at all.
They're Chuck Taylors.
But I think CN is appropriate as well.

As I was in the middle of my late Monday morning routine, I heard a noise.
The garage door. Open. Close.
Kevin was home at 12:40!
I had already given my second piano lesson.
(which went wonderfully. I'm gaining confidence.)
I was one and a half loads into my laundry.
I had, of course, worked out and showered.
I printed the monthly youth group newsletter & calender and taken it to church.
My "plan" for the day tends to completely fall apart when Kevin comes home.
He may just be doing his own thing on the computer, but my mind is just so happy he's here, I can't remember what I was going to do.
So we ended up doing the grocery shopping I had missed this weekend.
And needed to do in preparation for our trip to Cincinnati for the National Youth Workers' Convention.
We are totally pumped about that.
But that's a story for later.
At Aldi's I needed a couple items.
Well, they are getting bombarded with seasonal baking items and gifts.
Which meant browsing.
And happening upon items that really were on my "to purchase" list.
Two cookie sheets. For $2.99 each. EACH?!
I was almost desperate for extra with all my cookie baking.
And my mom noticed my current baking sheets and asked if they were new when I received them.
Yes, they were.
Just 18 months old.
And they look about 25 years old.
One silicone brush like these. For $1.99.
A new rubber scraper (spatula). For $1.99.
Both of those items have great thick wooden handles.
A silicone baking mat. This was a bit more at $5.99 but I couldn't not get it!
It will make baking so much easier. And transferring my pizza dough a near cinch.

After we returned we played frisbee for nearly 45 minutes.
It's the one activity where we're fairly evenly matched skill-wise.
And we both love it.
I've improved tremendously.
In the areas of accuracy and distance.
When we're on the same ultimate frisbee team we're almost unstoppable.
At least when we're playing with teens. :)
I think the "marriage connection" helps too.

I then started on our dinner plans.
I had bought five red peppers for $1 last week at the market.
An amazing deal.
I have learned the red pepper roasting techniques in all my Food Network watching and I was excited to try a roasted red pepper soup recipe.
I saw a simple recipe on The Today Show and it turned out wonderfully.
It was fun to make and de-double-licious to eat.
If you like peppers that is. :)

Now I'm hoping to get rid of this migraine--my second in 3 days.
And enjoy House.
And the Frosty we bought while we were out.
Our Wendy's was advertising Frostys as 50% off so we made a quit u-turn.
And we both noticed that the texture of the Frosty has changed.
It's creamier. Frothier. Whipped almost.
I'm loyal to the classic chocolate Frosty.
But it's different.
And I'm not sure if I'm ok with that.

October 25, 2009

The One with the Salve

What a blessed weekend.
I am simply in awe at the work God did right in front of me.
Though I wasn't always in the brightest of moods.
Which is lame of me.
But it happens.
I cannot lie.
I had been praying hard for this weekend.
I had asked many to pray with me.
Plans were laid precariously.
I was anxious.
A month ago I booked a family photo session with Smith Gallery Photography.
Having such a fantastic photographer capture my most beloved family has been a dream of mine.
I've always been obsessed with "family pictures."
Not sure why.
I guess the photo is just a representation of an unbreakable bond.
So I booked with Emily.
I knew this would mean having my parents visit--which is always great.
And my sister.
My favoritist sister in the world.
I hadn't seen Ash since December.
Of last year.
How awful is that?!
It wasn't on purpose.
It's not like we hate each other.
In fact we have a crazy awesome bond.
But she's all grown up and living in Columbus.
And we're all married and living in Michigan.
With one car. And incompatible schedules.
So when I say this was "precariously" planned I mean it.
Ash could have cancelled for any number of reasons.
But she didn't.
She came through.
I was absolutely, positively thrilled beyond belief to see her walk in our front door.
She was at our home.
For the first time since our wedding she was seeing us as "married."
Seeing the house we have spent the last year making a home.

The half hour photo shoot went fabulously.
I absolutely love Emily to begin with.
And she's an even greater photographer than I had imagined.
She's quick. Efficient. Kind. Fun. Precise. Fantastic.
In so many ways we had a blast, the five of us did.
Thank you, Emily & Cassidy, for a memorable experience.
I can hardly wait to see the results!

After our chilly fall photo session, we headed back to our home.
Where we greeted the other half of our family.
Kevin's side.
Four grandparents.
Two cousins (one on mom's side. one on dad's.)
A brother.
Mom & Dad.
Then the 14 of us carpooled over to Pete's Garage--Kevin's choice for birthday dinner.
Besides having to wait an hour for food...
and the loud atmosphere...
and the hair in both mine and my sister's food,
we had a great time.
Our food was fantastic (except when I discovered the hair near the bottom...)
(They took our plates off the bills. Good!)
My family and I laughed together like we haven't laughed in years.
It was good and healing for our hearts.

After that we drove back to our house to enjoy the boys' antics while they opened their gifts.
And then there was their requested desserts.
Everyone raved about both of these desserts.
They were made by moi on Friday.
The cheesecake was a first for me (to bake that is.)
As was the graham cracker crust, believe it or not.
You have got to try these recipes.

Sunday morning was blessed as well.
My entire immediate family was sitting beside me in the pew.
My heart soared.
It's been years since that last happened.
Something so simple.
Yet so touching.

Thank you, Precious Jesus, for pouring out your healing salve on our hearts.

October 22, 2009

The One with the Cakes

I may or may not have had a complete breakdown this morning.
Well, it was actually afternoon.
Since I slept in till 8:45.
[Thank you, husband, for nudging me to let my sick body rest.]
And then I sat around for...uhh...2 hours.
Trying to figure out if I was more or less or as much sick as I was the night before.
And whether or not I should workout.
And which workout I should attempt.
Given my sick-ish state.
And then I baked a cake.
So it would have time to cool before being frosted and taken to our church secretary.
My workout with Jillian started at 11.
Which is waaaay later than I like to "start" my day.
But it was necessary.
This meant I didn't finish showering and such until almost 1.
That was insane.
But I think the extra rest really did my body good.
I feel almost 100% tonight.
I'm so ridiculously excited that our awesome family weekend won't be ruined because of me.

Ok, wow.
So all that was background information.
Now onto the freakout.
As I was toweling off from my delightfully warm shower,
I decided it was time to clean my jewelry.
So I found my jewelry cleaner.
Removed my wedding ring.
And my diamond lever back earrings from my parents on my high school graduation.
And my diamond studs from my husband on our first Christmas.
But...there...was...only...one stud.................
One of my precious diamond earrings was MISSING!!
Immediately, I starting hyperventilating.
Because most of the time if an earring falls out, I know when it falls out.
Like when I'm brushing my hair or something and it gets ripped out of my ear.
Still a freaky moment until I find the earring again.
But nothing has ever been this traumatic.
I had no idea when this irreplaceable gift had left my ear.
I had been all through the house by this hour.
It could be anywhere.
It could most certainly be gone forever.
Down a drain.
Or deep into the heating vent.
Or simply lost for all eternity.
I started weeping.
Sobbing even as I was on my hands and knees in the bathroom.
Searching through the tears proved difficult.
I tried to wipe them back as I looked in the tub.
On the rugs.
In my clothes.
In my towel.
Down the vent.
Now I really really starting freaking out.
I thought I should retrace my steps.
Starting in bed.
I was hoping beyond hope that it had fallen out during the night.
This has happened before.
Probably because I unknowingly remove an earring that is bothering me while I sleep.
I was praying aloud that I might find this gift.
As soon as I looked into the bed I spotted the earring back.
Oh thank you, Jesus! I shouted.
I carefully pulled back the covers and discovered the beautiful little diamond.
I would have been totally broken hearted over losing that present.
And I would have hated having to tell my husband.
I am unbelievably thankful.

Now for another happy note.
I have never seen anyone as thrilled with a birthday cake as the church secretary was today.
I heard from someone who heard from someone else that Glenda's birthday was Friday.
She doesn't attend our church, and she often feels under-appreciated by our congregation.
Most people don't even know her or realize all the work she does.
So when she saw me at the door with the cake she said, "Oh you just missed Pastor Dale."

Immediately I said, "Happy Early Birthday!!"
She was absolutely stunned.
"What?! How did you know it was my birthday?
I haven't had a birthday cake in years!
Oh I could just cry.
Thank you so much!
This is so wonderful!"
*Hug. Hug*
It was a fantastic feeling making someone's day so bright.

And speaking of cakes, I had to run to Kohl's tonight.
You see, Kevin encouraged me to buy a doomed cake platter 2 months ago.
I bought it for $23.
It was lovely.
From Food Network.
But it wasn't exactly what I wanted.
I was hoping for the 4-in-1 version.
Where you can use it as a punch bowl. Or as a serving platter with dip bowl.
But I took what they had.
Only to find out that the plate had a huge piece of glass broken off.
And of course I didn't discover this until I wanted to use the cake plate.
It's hard to cover a cake without destroying it's loveliness.
Hence the cake plate.
So tonight I returned it.
And ended up having to call in my order online in order to purchase the platter I really wanted.
And I used a 15% off coupon.
And it was on sale.
So I found the plate I loved for $18.
The only downside is, I won't have it by Saturday for the cheescake I'm making for Kevin & Brian's birthday party.

October 20, 2009

The One that Works for Me

One of my cold-weather trends has to do with my love of tea.
I never used to like tea.
In fact, I found it repulsive.
Then I started enjoying blueberry tea, fixed by my Britt.
Now, I love a variety of teas.
Black. Gingerbread. Chai. Peppermint. Vanilla. Earl Grey.
Pretty much anything.
My hands are always freezing so I love having a hot cup of tea to wrap them around.
The "works for me" part of this monologue enters with my frugal approach to the teabag.
Because I make a cup of tea every hour or two during these cold months,
and I figure drinking this form of a liquid can't do anything but help my body,
I reuse my teabags.
Over and over again.
Until there's no flavor left in them.
Some people may find this habit disturbing.
I, however, do not see any reason not to reuse they flavorful packets.

So, heat up a mug of water.
Add your teabag and steep 2-3 minutes.
Remove teabag and place in a ramekin or other small dish.
Rinse and repeat as desired.
You may not agree, but saving money works for me!

Check out That Family for more great tips!

So apparently a girl riding her bike is a strange site in this town.
When riding your bike to the bank you should be warned.
People will honk at you.
Turn 180 degrees in their seats to get a better look at you.
You--the bike rider. The anomaly.
They will snicker.
And wave in an attempt to get you to wave back and make a fool of yourself.
It's ridiculous.
Really, it is.
I had this experience as I road this 2.35 miles to the bank.
It was a beautiful afternoon/evening.
I needed to go to the bank.
(Which I was annoyed about because the ATM wasn't accepting check deposits last night forcing me to return.)
But I couldn't be too mad.
I was getting bonus exercise.
And getting out of the house.
AND enjoying the last bit of fall.
(By the way, Michigan apparently has two seasons.
The transitional seasons in between--fall and spring--are almost non-existent.
Which is really disappointing.
Because it is the mild temperatures and cheerful changes of these seasons that I adore.)
In any case, I deposited my checks.
And ignored the ridicule that is evidently inevitable for a bike riding girl in her twenties.

Before that lame early evening activity, I had a wonderful afternoon.
A good friend from college, Karina, came for a long overdue visit.
Not that she was "supposed" to visit me at my home.
Just that we hadn't gotten together in over a year.
And even our last year at college wasn't quite together.
Though we were housemates.
We had crazy schedules and rarely talked.
And before that we had been in a small group together.
So, you can imagine, I really missed this girl.
We had a beautiful afternoon together.
It was so refreshing to talk with someone who really knows me.
Really cares.
Thank you for being my friend, Kari.

October 19, 2009

The One with the Specifics

I came across another wonderful blog.
She happened to be having a party.
So I joined in!

1. What is your favorite thing to snack on while you're blogging?
Almonds. Dry Roasted. and maybe some chocolate.

2. What is one thing you wouldn't want to live without?
My husband. He is my rock. And he makes me smile from the inside out.

3. Beach, Mountains or Farm? Where would you live if you had a choice?
The majestic mountains. That's my dad coming out in me.

4. What's your least favorite chore/household duty?
Mopping. I put it off till I can't stand the filth anymore.

5. Who do people say you remind them of?
My momma. I look like her, talk like her, act like her.
Or Pam Beesley. Some youth pastor thought I looked just like her.

6. Prefer parties and socializing or staying at home with the fam?
Home. My life has forever defined the term "home body."
I like it that way.

7. What's your all time favorite movie?
Remember the Titans. I know every single line. I still cry every time.
I've probably seen it 265 times.

8. Do you sleep in your make up or remove it like a good girl every night?
Take it off. 8 times out of 10.

9. Do you have a deep desire to learn something that you've never had a chance to learn? What is it?
Photography. I'm not sure why I never picked up after.
After all, it was a childhood passion.

10. What's one strange thing you're really good at?
Flaring my nostrils. Don't know why. Just am.
It grosses people out. Or enthralls them.
One or the other.

11. What first attracted you to your spouse?
The way he talked. He drew me into his conversations.
It was magnetic.

12. What is something you love to smell?
Cinnamon. I've always love anything and everything cinnamon.
Also, on a note that may sound weird...my husband's head/face.
It's just a comforting "him" smell.
I love it.

13. Tell something about you that you know irritates people.
Getting uptight. Stressed. It happens. More than I care to admit.

14. When you have extra money (HA!) what's the first thing you think to do with it?
Buy a second trusty Civic.
Re-carpet this house.
Take a grand vacation with my love.

15. Are you a silent laugher or a loud laugher? What makes you laugh the hardest?
Loud all the way. People mock me sometimes. But I'm used it it.
I squeak. And kind of sound like a dolphin.
And if I'm on a roll, you can't stop the madness.
I laugh the hardest at Kevin. He says (what I think are) the most hysterical things.
Either that or AFV.

16. Where is your favorite place to shop?
Kohl's. But only on the 80% off racks.
Thrift stores.
Garage sales.
I'm so proud of my finds.

17. What's one thing you'd do more often if you had more time?
Visit my family's home. I thought I'd get to stop in more after college.
Not so much.
I miss them.

18. Are you a big spender or frugal?
Frugal. If you don't know this about me, then you don't know me.

19. Who is your favorite character of all time (from a movie or book)? (Can't be real)
Lorelai Gilmore. Just plain genius of a character.

20. Would you want to be famous?
I don't suppose I'd mind being famous.
At least I don't mind the prospect of it.
If I were famous for something I love.
Like if I wrote a book or became a speaker or authored a Bible study.
Anything to do with my life in Christ.

The One with the Hobbitses

It's that time again.
Time for the glorious experience of divulging my innermost secrets.
My most embarrassing imperfections.
And my most hidden quirks.
Won't you join MckMama and myself in this quest for brutal honesty?
And if not, at least laugh at (with) me.

I am always a big proponent of fairness.
Therefore I would never be totally stoked at the sheer amount of luck given us during our ultimate frisbee game last night.
Nope, it certainly wasn't me who was pumped that my team consisted of the five best and most experienced players.
Against the younger, newer players.
I may or may not have cherry picked numerous times for my husband.
Who would throw the frisbee from one end of the field to the other while I was running quickly to line up the perfect end zone catch.
Nope, not us!
We are never excited about WINNING.

When it comes to manicures, I am most certainly queen.
Whenever I get around to...errr...uhhh...when I faithfully keep up with my nails' good looks I would never be found picking off the nailpolish at the first sign of chipping.
Nope, not me.
I definitely have more self discipline than a five year old.
I would always use nail polish remover, never other fingernails, to remove polish.

I was definitely not nervous at the prospect of teaching my first piano lesson.
I am always brimming with confidence.
There were no thoughts of doubt or worry whirring around in my thoughts.
Nope, I was cool as a cucumber. Ready to take on the world.
Or at least whoever chooses to trust me with the piano education.
I would never second guess myself or the people who, for some reason, have loads of confidence in my abilities.
Which is why I would not call up my husband five seconds after the first lesson and proudly exclaim, "I did it!"

It is definitely not me who loves reading The Hobbit aloud to my husband.
I would never be caught bring Gollum's character to life.
With some freakishly awesome slash disturbing voice renderings.
Nope, I would never love to entertain him.
And myself.
With what may be one of the greatest writers of all time.
Well, we love Tolkein.
How have I not read his works before?
I am an avid reader, right?
Therefore, I would never leave out such prolific works.

And I may or may not be super excited to blast up this little room with our new space heater.

October 16, 2009

The One with a Hole in My Wallet

I hate spending money.
Always have.
Probably always will.
I love buying things for other people and even getting new things for myself.
But when it comes to walking to the cashier.
And handing over my debit card.
Not so much.
Today I was tested and tried pretty hard core.
According to my husband, I succeeded in remaining calm and not totally freaking out as the deductions piled up.

It was rough.
But it all needed to be done.
We had a 9:20 eye appt to check my contacts and to order his glasses.
That was $78.
Then we went to TGMaxx to find him a new winter coat.
We found a great deal on a Columbia jacket that looks quite stunning on him in my personal opinion.
It was $50. Regularly $175.

Then we walked into the massive hardware store known as Lowe's.
There we filled our cart with supplies to plastic our windows.
They are extraordinarily drafting.
And our house is 3 times too big for us, but impossible to close off everything "unused" to save gas.
So we have quite the project ahead of us.
Besides that $37 we picked up a great little room heater from Walmart for $35.
I am SO. EXCITED. to not be freezing my fingers off this winter.
So excited.
You don't even know.
Yes, we could turn up our heat.
And that would require more money.
And I'd rather my phalanges break off from frost bite then spend extra money.

Then there was a stop at Great Cuts for two matching haircuts.
Or not.
Just two haircuts.
Unique to each of our heads.
That was $18 for both of us. Not bad.
And considering we're getting pictures with my family next Saturday we figured it was necessary.
I can't wait to have Emily photography my beautiful family.
It's been at least 7 years since our last professional photo.
And for some reason I've always been obsessed with family photos.
Just ask my mom.
Most of my childhood was spent setting up backdrops for my babydolls.
And insisting the four of us needed to get "family pictures!"
Why am not a photographer, again?
It is something I would love to learn.

Finally, we drove through the Express Care for our oil change.
Which comes much too quickly when you drive 100 miles a day.
And on top of that there was a needed coolant flushing.
And extra $80 on top of the $35.
But we know if we don't maintain this trusty little Civic then it will die.
And if it dies we have to spend thousands more on its replacement.
I dread the day.

Now we get to spend the rest of Friday together.
As Kevin's lab is at an RNA conference that he didn't need to go to.
As he's quitting at the end of the semester.
And his PI apparently deems him "not worth the money."
In any case, he's here.
And I'm happy.
Well, honestly I wasn't happy this morning.
We were both in fairly sour moods.
Which was lame.
But I'm pretty sure we're past that now.
The fresh baked chocolate chip cookies probably didn't hurt.

Now I'm going to have myself a bowl of the most amazing homemade applesauce in the world.
And I'm not just saying that cause I think I'm awesome.
We both love this stuff.
And it's made in the crockpot so it can't be that hard.
You should try it!

October 14, 2009

The One with the Trouble Free Zones

I just got my tail kicked.
Last week I received my order from Amazon in the mail.
I was so excited.
I had ordered three new workout dvds.
In preparation of the cold weather which necessitates indoor workouts.
If I had an extra $700 to spend on an uber awesome treadmill I would.
Or an extra $300 a year for a gym membership.
And a spare car to drive myself to said gym.
But I don't.
So I figured I would need some variety.
I have loved my Jillian Michael's Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism.
This is an intense cardio exercise that keeps all hope of breathing far from reach.
Muscles burn for days afterwards.
It's good stuff.
I have recently "mastered" this workout in the sense that I can still walk comfortably the next day.
My muscles have settled into the routine.

After reading many reviews, I settled on three new workouts.
Two of them are from the 10 Minute Solutions series.
I came to love this series when Angie let me borrow a Pilates dvd from her.
Over two years ago.
Ooops. I totally forgot that wasn't my dvd.
Do you want that back, Ang?
I chose a second Pilates dvd: Lara Hudson's Rapid Results Pilates.
For something fun and different I added Jennifer Galardi's Fat Blasting Dance Mix.
And because I couldn't help myself...
because I'm like a bug to the light which is Jillian Michaels...

It's great to have a new pilates workout.
Just for something new and different.
It's perfect for my weekends where I like to "take it easy."
And I really like Lara.
She's a great instructor.

The Dance Mix was fun.
I would never ever ever allow anyone to witness me in action during this workout.
At least not without a great improvement in my choreography-following abilities.
It was a bit tricky.
I got lost frequently.
But Jennifer adds the moves little by little in each segment.
So after another day or two on that dvd I think I'll have it down.
But surprisingly enough when it was over I was like, "Wait, what?! It's over already? That can't be right."
But it was.
It had been 50 minutes.
So the workout wasn't as aerobic as I would have liked.
But I think that's mostly because I wasn't able to keep up with her instructions on the first time around.
And therefore I wasn't focused on strengthening particular muscles.
I was just trying to catch up.

And then there's this new Jillian dvd.
Just wow.
Though not as focused on snatching every last bit of oxygen from your lungs as Banish Fat is, it's still ultra aerobic.
I end up out of breath and sweating like crazy.
As per usual.
But that's not the hard part.
The entire 40+ minutes you're working with 3lb weights.
Which aren't that big of a deal.
At first.
But today my shoulders and triceps and hamstrings and quads are SCREAMING.
Yet I tried the workout again today.
She combines muscle toning with aerobic movement.
And I don't think there's one exercise that isn't incorporating more than one muscle group.
It's great.
I highly recommend it.
If you want to torture..errrrr...tone yourself.
but seriously it's great.
It's low impact compared to high impact ballistic movements in Banish Fat.

So there's my review for the day.
I like the variety and I recommend each of them.

Do you have a favorite workout dvd/instructor?

October 13, 2009

The One with the Lesson in Finances

This is me waiting for my husband to get home.
And hoping the dinner I prepared is as delicious as I've been imagining.
I baked a loaf of Kevin's favorite bread.
And there's a large pot of black bean soup simmering on the stovetop.
I love black bean soup.
Especially Panera's.
So this is me having really high expectations for
1) the new recipe.
2) my culinary abilities.
I'll let you know how it turns out.

Here's something I've been meaning to talk about for quite some time.
The premise is this: never pay a bill unless you are 100% certain it is correct.
Though utility bills ebb and flow, you still ought to be aware of the total before paying.
ATT, Comcast, or other phone/internet/cable companies increase this charge or that all the while hoping you won't take notice.
ALWAYS take notice.
Compare past bills and figure out with the fees are being added on.
And if it doesn't make sense or if you were quoted at, say $90, and your bill is now $125 there is a problem.
And you need to call.
And give them heck.
Be prepared to threaten to cut off service with them.
That'll change their tune.
I'm pretty sure I have the lowest three-fold bundle plan in America thanks to my rigorous efforts with customer service.
Automatic payments are, in my opinion, not the best idea in any of these cases.
Having money automatically removed from your bank account without checking over costs can get risky.
And just plain expensive.

This was the case with a bill I received in the mail back in April.
I had gotten (what I thought to be) routine blood work done.
I was told this was a necessary precursor to my endoscopy.
I didn't question the doctor.
Soon I found a bill from a laboratory in California stating that my insurance had denied the claim and I owed them $295.
WHAT did you just say?!
Ummm, that is so not gonna happen.
Something was seriously wrong.
I called the lab.
I called the insurance company.
I called the lab again.
I called the insurance company. again.
None of which were enjoyable phone calls.
I finally found out that the lab used for this particular special blood indicator was not covered by my insurance.
Ok, great.
Now what.
Please, lady, tell me how to appeal this.
I found myself writing a detailed account of my story to the director of complaints.
Or something like that.
I received a letter back asking for my medical records to be released.
I faxed those in immediately.
I finally received notice that the insurance company was going to cover this cost in this instance only.
(Aka. Don't make that mistake again. Or you're paying.)
I had succeeded.
I had pleaded my case and I had won!
In the mean time I have received 3 more letters from the lab telling me to pay up.
The final letter said if you don't pay NOW we're sending our collectors after you.
This freaked me out for a moment.
But I called the lab and they had just received my insurance payment.

The moral of the story:
Don't ever give up.
Don't ever pay more than you have to.
Don't ever hand over your money unless you know exactly what it's going for.

The end.

October 12, 2009

The One with the Third Place Trophy

A great, busy weekend.
Friday evening the youth group had committed to serving dinner for the MonARC banquet.
(MonARC: Advocacy. Rights. Community. Serves the developmentally disabled of our county.
The DD population is more dense in our area than in most.
This is a great service.)
But before that could happen, FriDAY had to be reckoned with.
That morning, Kevin and I went to our optometrist appointments.
Our insurance will be changing soon.
And it had been years and years since either of us had been re-examined.
The doctor was not at all what I normally picture when I think of eye doctors.
Typically, images of old somewhat malodorous men fill my mind.
But this doctor was just reaching 30.
She was gorgeous. And trendy.
The not the least bit awkward or smelly.
That was nice.

Turns out, Kevin's prescription hasn't changed in 7 years.
Lucky for him.
So he ordered new contacts and can keep using the same glasses.
(We have to pick one or the other for our insurance to cover. Lame.)
My eyes, on the other had, had been over corrected for the past three years.
How uncool is that?!
I'm hoping this is the cause of the recent onslaught of headaches.
We go back this Friday to make sure all is well.
And I need to decide if I want new lenses put in my current frames or not.
I wear contacts 80% of the time.
But I really love having glasses as an alternative.
Whether it's just because I feel like it.
Or because my eyes are tired.
Or allergies.
Or ripped contacts.
Or whatever.
And they match Magan's, so you can't go wrong there. ;)

After that appointment, I immediately set to work on a batch of cookies.
I had one already prepared for the Sunday bake sale, but Friday afternoon was my last opportunity to make a second.
Halfway through a new recipe for Mocha Cookies, I realized it was a potluck on Sunday.
Which means no cookies necessary.
Boo, forgetfulness. Boo, overpreparedness.
Right at that moment the phone rang.
It was a lady I hadn't heard from since April.
The one who called every day for months and would talk and talk and talk and talk and talk.
Like you've never heard anyone talk.
I was just fine not having heard from her.
But I picked up the phone without knowing the caller id number.
I freaked out for a moment when I heard who it was.
I knew she was calling for a favor.
Her friend's dad was in a life threatening condition in the hospital.
I was dreading to hear her request: most likely babysitting her little adorable faced demon child.
Turns out she wanted me to bake something to send to them.
I agreed.
Within the hour I had 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies packaged and ready to go.

I spent another 3 hours at the desk working on filing.
Paying bills.
Online banking.
Checkbook balancing.
THREE hours.

I proceeded to change into my "uniform" for the dinner.
White shirt.
Black pants.
I waited for the Pastor to pick me up (since Kevin was getting home late.)
I stood in the living room for 20 minutes before I heard from him.
He had left late.
And forgotten he needed to pick me up.
I arrived at the hall 25 minutes later than I had instructed the students to be there.
I simply do not appreciate tardiness.

The rest of the night was quite eventful.
Extremely fun.
And very tiring.
Some photos:

::we're professionals::

The catered meal was open to us servers but I never ate.
It was either "illegal" (filled with flour) or it was just not my picture of culinary deliciousness.
Box mashed potatoes. Ummm, no thank you.
"Salad"--naked ice berg topped with thick ranch or french. Not so much.
So when we got home, I had a leftover stuffed green pepper.
It was my third try at stuffed green peppers, and I finally nailed it.
The first time was too hard.
The second was too mushy.
This was juuuuust right.

Saturday came all too early.
We left the house at 6:30am to pick up the three Bible quizzers.
We drove north an hour or so and arrived right on time to our first ever Bible quiz.
The teens were nervous.
Not knowing what to expect.
But they rocked it.
I was so ridiculously proud of them.
They had never quizzed before and on their second round they were tied up to the last question!
They ended up snatching a trophy.
For third place!
But you don't have to know there were 3 teams in our division.
We all had a blast.
It's fun to meet new friends.
See old ones.
Hang out with my awesome brother.
Throw a frisbee around.
And keep score for the quiz master of the top room.
Yeah, that's my husband.
He rocks.

All three student were out cold on the ride home.
It was adorable.
Though I felt a little bad for them being cooped up in our tiny Civic's back seat.
Kevin and I enjoyed delving into The Hobbit.
He's read it before and brought it along for down time.
I had never read it and he really encouraged me to get into it.
So I read out loud.
And I think we'll keep reading it that way. Together.
I like being all animated and laughing together at the British humor of esteemed J.R. Tolkein.

Sunday brought sword drills for Sunday School.
Revelation Song for worship.
Our friends, Josh & Amanda, visited the service.
And a potluck afterwards.
Can't beat that.
Youth group hour rolled around quickly (after my hour long nap, that is).
We played ultimate frisbee.
Perfect weather for that.
Ate popcorn.
Had some good discussions about what wisdom and foolishness have to do with our friendships.
(As our 3rd week on the topic of wisdom, they are finally getting it.
How it applies to them.
Not just answering my questions.)

And that brings us to today.
I'm waiting for Kevin to pull in the driveway so I can jump in the car with him.
We're heading to Goodwill.
Per my rather forceful request.
After we realized he had left his coat,
his only coat,
more than an hour from home.
At the Bible quiz host church.
It'll be a month before he sees that again.
And it's October.
It's cold.
And it won't hurt to have two jackets.

I am totally loving this excuse for a Goodwill run.

October 7, 2009

The One with the Scrubbing Bubbles

As previously mentioned, I love fall.
It's my favorite season and my favorite form of weather.
I'm not much of a summer gal.
I prefer "warm" to "hot."
I love bundling up.
And snuggling in bed under layers and layers of blankets.
I also like having the option to wear something other than long underwear and sweatshirts every day.
I like to took cute and "put together."
But our house simply does not allow for anything less than layers.
The windows are quite drafty.
And given the 2000 sq ft with full basement it's easy to waste heat.
Most of the footage is wide open--unable to be closed off.
I plan on hibernating this winter in our office/den.
Which is where we spend most of our time anyways.
Especially since we moved the ellipse and that outdoor loveseat down stairs.
And brought two comfy lounge chairs up.
I plan on finding a great space heater and keeping this room nice and cozy.
And unfortunately keeping the rest of the house at near freezing temperatures.
This is a problem for guests.
Boo water heaters.
I wish we had a wood burner like our neighbors.
Even their floors are warm.

But I still love fall.
And winter.

In past news, I had to take care of a gross bathroom situation.
I clean weekly.
I wipe down the shower walls daily.
But our shower curtain is a bit too long for the ultra short shower we have.
And I don't wash the tub itself unless necessary.
Which is normally when I notice it's getting moldy and grimy.
Which is just not cool.
Sure enough, that's what I found last Friday.
Well, that, and a moldy shower curtain.
So I had to do an extra load of laundry.

I don't mind doing laundry at all.
I do, however, mind spending the money to do a load of laundry.
The water.
The electric.
The heat.
Boo, utilities.
So I try to keep my laundry day limited to Monday.
And we normally have one load.
And I plan on enjoying this small amount of laundry while it lasts.
I realize it definitely won't be this way forever.
Assuming it's not just the two of us forever.
Two if I'm doing those items that are bulky and don't need (or don't get) washed as often.
Bed sheets.
Bath math.
Yes, I admit it.
I only wash towels once a week.
And sheets once a month. Or so.
And the bath mat is white so I can't throw that in with our one load if it has brown towels in it.
So the bath mat only gets washed every other week or so when I have to do two separate loads and divide colors.

Yes, I know some of you are cringing.
"What?! She doesn't separate her loads by colors?"
"Didn't her mother teach her anything?"
Why yes, she did.
And she's probably the one who's appalled right now.
But I've learned that using cold water keeps colors from running.
And after 4 years of using quarters for dorm laundering I had to learn to compromise and combine.
"Wait?! She goes a week before washing bath towels?!
How gross is that?!
Imagine what must be growing on those moist towels by that point."
Yes, I realize this isn't optimal.
And I feel a little guilty because my poor husband has a heightened olfactory system and can smell mustiness from a mile away.
I can stick my face in the towel and not even notice, unless I'm checking on purpose.
And even then, if it does need washed it must wait until Monday.
That's just the way it is.
But when I spotted the mold that was that.
It needed washed then and there.

I'm ashamed.
And embarrassed.
But apparently not enough to hold back such confessions.

What about you?
Do you have certain cleaning projects that get pushed back on the "to do" list?
Yeah, I didn't think so.