Friday, December 30, 2011

Good customer service exists?

In an age of consumerism, it's nice to know when your voice is heard, and a company is willing to provide good customer service to retain you as a loyal customer.   My mother in law mentioned in one of our early conversations that she writes to companies that provide her with a good service, and many times they respond in kind with coupons.

I've done this a few times with a good return but I was never as loyal of a customer as I am to Martinelli's.  You know, the company that makes those green bottles of sparkling cider for those of us that like to look like we are drinking without actually having to imbibe alcohol?  Sugar is a better drug, but that's beside the point.

About a week ago I bought 8 bottles of Martinelli's from the Safeway down the road from me because they had a sale which made them cheaper than buying them at Costco, which is where I always just buy the packs of four that my husband will consume far too quickly.  I happily got them home and later we opened a bottle. My husband mixed it with a little pomegranate juice and eagerly held it out for me to taste.  Expecting something wonderful I was grossed out when I tasted...vinegar? What the hell? I told him that I thought something was wrong with his drink, but I don't think he has a particularly sensitive palette because he couldn't really tell.  We opened another bottle...same vinegar.  Then I realized that they were the same lot.  I decided to write to Martinelli's expressing concern that an entire lot of their juice might be spoiled and being sold.

What followed was a lovely conversation between a representative of Martinelli's and I, who informed me that the juice wouldn't make anyone sick, since it had been pasteurized. I realize it just turned into apple cider vinegar...which is great in salad, but not so much in my glass.  Last night, after pulling out all the bottles from the first 'sell by date' we opened a bottle from a different date. I made the husband take the first drink.  He didn't have an issue with it, so I tasted...and spit it back out. SAME thing.  So, apparently all of Safeway's juice had gotten too warm and was turned.  I would like to mention here that after this incident, I had some Martinelli's from a bottle purchased at Costco with no issue.

Martinelli's is sending me a refund, since Costco, where I generally buy it, doesn't accept coupons.  I'm conflicted over contacting the store where I purchased the juice to begin with, because they don't care if I am a loyal customer, and they just want to move their stock.  I contacted Martinelli's, not because I wanted them to furnish a refund (I actually didn't know they did that), but because I wanted to make sure people weren't getting sick off of mishandled bottles.

Moral of the story--write to companies. It is worth it for them to send you a refund if they can keep you as a customer.  I just went and bought 12 bottles of cider for my party this weekend (from Costco, the other amazing customer service provider). I'm a loyal customer, and their kind treatment ensured that I would stay that.
Here is a pretty picture I stole from google:)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Magfest preparation--lots of earrings!

Earlier in the year, one of my friends asked if I'd like to share a table at Magfest to sell some of our geeky wares.  Around this time I bought a bunch of beads out in Oregon and started working on researching better techniques, practicing techniques and looking online for different designs.  I killed a lot of head pins learning how to make my wraps better, but my jewelry looks much more professional as a result of all that practicing.

A side effect of all of this is the realization that making jewelry relaxes my mind, and puts me at ease. I'm not sure if it is concentration needed to do it leaves no room in my brain for anxiety, or if it is the creation of something tangible that is left behind.  I'm one that generally gets frustrated when I screw something up, but with jewelry, I have no issue cutting up something that took me a half hour to make, simply because now I see a better way to make it.  

Here are some pictures of the earrings I've been making--comments and such are greatly appreciated. Please e-mail me for costs, because I would love to sell and support this jewelry making habit!  I was really enjoying taking pictures using my favorite stoneware mug, so that's why there are birds in the background of some of these!

Crystal and amethyst

The first three are crystal and amethysts. On the right is
gold stone--my new favorite!

Some chainmail done with jumprings. Fun to make, but
inevitably annoying.

Pearl with...agates, I think. I did a long wrap
on these.

Crystal bicone and chain. They look better
in person...

Wrapped amethyst. Fun to make!

How many jump rings can one person go through?
A lot!

Part of my pearl/cloisonne bracelet. So pretty!

Crystal and sodalite. 

Crackled CD's that I am making into coasters!

No two are the same! My husband was ecstatic to get to put CD's in
the microwave. I wonder why...
I have lots more goldstone earrings, since I was on a kick the last week and made a bunch of different designs. I am also making coasters out of the middle of vinyl records, and bowls out of records. I'm currently running outside with the coasters to spray them with waterproofing every time the weather is clear, but I'm thinking of just picking up hodge podge for the rest of them, which I can do inside and NOT fumigate myself. I've also got dozen hats, and some mario type mushrooms. At this point, I need to stop making new stuff, and finish all the different projects that I've got started! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Crafty Pictorial

I am LOVING crocheting. I have a couple of fabulous friends that, last year, helped me learn how to read patterns, so now an entire world of easy to intermediate crocheting is open to me!  I have made, so far, a bunch of hats, handwarmers, and now I'm moving onto headbands.  If you would like to buy something, please email me (or just write it in a comment below) and I will contact you. Prices are below items and include shipping.  Also, I'm on paypal.  Thank you in advance for helping to support my yarn habit!

beanie style hat, and handwarmers.  The material is incredibly soft. and flexible.  Prices,  hat  $18, hand warmers $25  (they take forever to make).  

I'm loving the new headbands!  This one has a two colored flower attached.  You simply tied it behind your head as tightly, or loosely as you please so it is perfect for people (like me!) that wear glasses.  This can be made in a variety of colors.  Price $15

Multi-colored beanie.  I can make them smaller, or bigger and in  whatever color thread I have on hand.  They warm, stretchy and so comfortable! Price $17 

3 strand headband, without a flower.  Price $8
 If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And our winner is..............

is....number 7
11b_hooahlove of  who requested these lovely holiday tags!

Our lovely jewelry makers will be contacting you shortly about your prize.  Congratulations!

Thanks everyone for entering this give away!  Maybe I'll do a hat/jewelry give away of my own stuff in a couple of weeks. It looks like people like to win things around Christmas time!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blog Giveaway! Unique Jewelry for Unique People!

I love supporting new and creative shops.  My friends (sisters!) started making unique jewelry to sell. Their jewelry is made with polymer clay and some amazing talent.  The food items look good enough to eat!

Here--this is how they describe themselves:

We create jewelry for a unique taste. It's not your traditional kind. Each piece has a personality of its own. We have created a wedding topper and even gamer-related pieces. If you have something in mind, we can make it work.

How to enter the give away!

My favorite earrings! They look so incredibly realistic that my mouth is watering.

Go to their etsy shop and pick something out you love (except for the ceramics because of how hard they are to ship) and write it in the comments below.
Etsy Shop

For an extra entry

go to their facebook page here and like them (and mention it below)
Facebook Page

I'll close the give away on November 1st, and pick a winner with a random number generator.  Please make sure that your email is included in your comment!

Peace Tags

Monday, October 10, 2011

Weekend Fun!

We had lots of fun this weekend, so I think I'll just show you the evidence :)
First we hit up the Maryland Renaissance Festival. 
Newton was 'helping' Aaron get dressed. He decided to eat the belt while Aaron was trying to fix it. 

My favorite group, the Pirates Royale are first to preform.  I had their CD long before seeing them live, and haven't been disappointed yet!

Then, the always hilarious O'Danny Girls

We ran into my friend Melodi!  Her daughter's group preforms.  I didn't feel like putting on a corset, so I broke out my new tie dyed tunic, and matched it with a garland. I felt pretty.

Attempting to take a picture, while husband is the monk btw

Melodi's daughter's group--they are amazing!!
 Following Renn fest, the husband got to pick the activity...
he chose D&D (Dungeon's and Dragon's for those non nerds), so I drew a picture of my character.  She's awesome!

Amazzzzzzzzzzzzzzing ginger cookies!  I generally hate the idea of using crisco but the cookies  are really chewy and amazing. 

Flour tortilla time!  I would like to save some money, so I figured  making some tortillas would save money, AND be delicious!
And then...

I really like that, even though I had a friend here all weekend, we didn't eat out at all.  I suffer from going for the easiest option, rather than cooking and having stuff at home...and then complain about there being no food in our house. I spend farrrr too much on groceries to ever complain that there isn't food.  Time to keep lists, make meal plans, and use what we have in the pantry! I'll update in a week with my successes, and failures.  

(clink the links for the recipes! I don't take credit for thinking them up, just eating the delicious results!)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall Awesomeness, a crafting and life update

I didn't intend to stop blogging, but I think that I got so caught up in school and family that it just got put aside.  I'm so happy that fall is here, and try to keep our windows open as much as possible to allow for the fresh air.  Newton is in heaven, spending hours out in the sun, then shade taking cat naps. I think that he soaks up so much sunshine out there that he smells like sunshine.  That, combined with brushing him has made him the softest thing-ever! He seems to have so much more energy when he's able to go outside on our porch.  He's been playing non-stop for the last 5 hours!

I have a rule about crocheting--I seem to only be able to do it when it is cool out.  That said, as soon as the weather cooled a little I dug out my yarn and started to work on finishing projects that I started last year, and put aside.  I had trouble finding the hat pattern I had been working on,  but thanks to my awesome friend, was able to reconnect.  This time I pinned it with pinterest so that I wouldn't lose it! I'm learning to seriously love pinterest. Thanks to KikiVerde for introducing me.  My first project of the year was making this hat. I made it in purple

I really really want to make some handwarmers, so I started making these, but 5,000 or so single crochet stitches gets boring really quickly.  Hats seem to work faster, so I am having fun working on those.  I also sold one of my necklaces, so I need to make some new stock before our table at Magfest in January!

I also love baking in the fall, especially apple pie! Somehow I managed to forget which kind of apples to use, so this pie turned to mush was tasty mush.  I'm planning on going apple picking this weekend so I can pick up some good baking apples, and some for applesauce too!
For the record-the husband ate this

A couple of weeks ago, we went to my friend's son's pirate themed birthday party! My husband had fun acting like a pirate. He impressed the birthday boy with his eyepatch! The picture is actually of a sticker on his eye, but he brought his real eyepatch too.  Lots of fun.
I married a pirate!

I am hoping to do a give away soon! My friends have created a new etsy shop  and are having lots of fun being creative. I hope to work on this next week.

This weekend--Ren fest, and apple picking! I'm excited.  I had really hoped to put up my pictures from my in-laws visit, but my husband's computer CRASHED...several times and the server with all our pictures is connected. Soon--promise!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A computer programming class with no programming...

Hi...miss me? Sorry I've been absent. I could blame it on classes sucking away all my time, or a lack of topics but really it's that it is much faster to read someone else's blog than write in my own, and being sick for three weeks didn't really help. My in-laws visit gave me much blogging fodder, and I can't wait to pass along some awesome pictures.  For example--my husband father in law dressed up as monks for Rennfest and a real nun came up to them and wanted to know what order they were in.  Oh my life is far too humorous not to blog.

All of the fun things that I did with my in-laws made me realize how much I wanted to do that stuff...more.  I haven't been to Rennfest in years, hadn't been to the aquarium at all, and even though I live a short ride away from DC, rarely have returned there since I moved.  Even when I lived there I didn't take advantage of the Smithsonian's that were literally on my doorstep, living a scant three blocks from the back of the Air and Space Museum.  I would like to make a more conserted effort to do stuff like this.  If the husband doesn't want to go, as he is generally more comfortable playing with electronics than being a tourist, then so be it. I'll go with friends, or...*gasp* by myself.  Would I enjoy that? My old college roommate recently did a trip across the West Coast, almost entirely by herself.  In this experience she met new people, did new things and gained personal insight. I also got some awesome postcards.  Maybe this is what I need.  I've always been so afraid of doing things by myself, maybe it is time to step out of that comfort zone.  More on this as it develops.  Today I'd like to introduce you to my computer programming class.

My computer programming class doesn't actually program.  This was one of the first things our professor told us.  "This is a logic class, not a programming class!" he declared.
"Umm...I'm thinking to myself...what have I gotten myself into?"

See, I was (ha and still am) only taking this class to placate my computer god of a husband. He can wave his arms and make magic happen, while I wave my arms and knock something down where it will shatter to a million pieces.  I'm a klutz and he is an engineer.  We previously began to take a free online MIT course where they put up the lectures, assignments, syllabus and notes and you do the rest on your own.  We enjoyed it and I whet my appetite learning a little python.  I've forgotten any of the coding syntax, but the context in which to understand other programming sort of lingers.  Basically that translates to, I understood the first chapter of our book. Now I'm lost and I'm pretty sure I would have given up by now, if it weren't for my husband deciding that he was going to teach me everything on his own, and even start a class for our friends to learn computer programming.  So far, I'm batting a perfect score in class because my homework is awesome and our quiz was really really easy.

So, I'm sitting in class the other night, our class being only one night a week, and I look around.  Well, I sort of think in my head to the people in the back of the room since I want to at least pretend to be paying attention the lecture.  The breakdown of my class is this.  My class has about 15 people in it, I am one of two women, the other who is a black woman.  The rest of the class consists of 3 black men and the rest are white and male.  I sit wondering if my class is representative of the market today--large white, and male.  My husband answers in the affirmative.  The network security class in the computer lab next to us doesn't fare much differently.  There are three women in that class and while there seem to be more black men than in my class, it is still largely white and male (and taught by a variety of white males). I think that this realization (I went to an all women's college) makes me want to work even harder to succeed, knowing that I'm in the minority.  It also makes me ponder why there are so few women in this field, and what we can do about it.

This class is pretty boring.  I'm not sure how I can be bored and confused at the same time, but I am.  The class next door looks much more interesting, from what I can see.  There are windows separating our classes, so I surreptitiously sneak glances pretty frequently.   They are playing with programs called "Hacker Attack" and discussing code injection and data mining. Wow, my husband would really LOVE this class.  I'm blocking out "learning" about class definitions and instance methods, longingly looking at the much more interesting powerpoint next door. I'm not really sure how we are supposed to be learning this stuff, because to me it's like learning irregular Spanish verbs (which I never managed to get).  One day it will, hopefully click.  For now, it's just a million technical definitions with no real prior context for me to visualize it in.  I feel like we are being asked to memorize the textbook to later regurgitate when we are finally able to access the holy grail of Java.

My class has some interesting folks in it, from ones who have just graduated from high school to ones who are older than my parents.  Mostly all are nice, but some are just a little different.

I guess I should start with the professor.  He isn't really a teacher. He is a guy that actually attended this school back in his day, that sort of gets this because he has been working in the field for twenty years, but his teaching skills and classroom management are completely lacking. I think he is actually trying more to stay on topic, but if someone's cell phone rings and beeps repeatedly next class, I will have to step up and say something.  It's sad that I have better classroom management skills but teaching sixth graders did pose more distractions than college students.

There is the kid who is obviously on the autism spectrum (I'm guessing that he has Aspergers Syndrome from the way he talks, lack of eye contact and the way he holds is body) who, for the first two classes couldn't stop talking about unrelated topics.  Even when he stopped talking, he would mutter under his breathe most of the time.  He wants to learn video game design and wants to learn it NOW.   He is a nice kid but this behavior was really getting on my, and the rest of the classes nerves.  Before the last class I had an opportunity to chat with him and asked him if he had unrelated questions, to write them down and ask after class.  He said "sure," and mentioned a history class he was taking where the teacher constantly went off on tangents. I told him this was exactly my problem, that I could understand what was going on when they happened and it seemed to click for him.  This past class he asked copious amounts of questions but all related to the class. It was a glorious moment for the entire class.  Even my classmates had to agree that this week his questions were actually helpful as he helped us draw connections between the different areas that were being taught.  Sometimes asking politely gets you what you want.

There is only one other woman in my class. She seems nice, and wants to get into the field of computer programming, but I worry that she isn't really getting the material either. The way that she asks to look at my work, and seems to want to just copy it reminds me a little too much of high school and being a little less than honest on our math homework.  She plays on facebook during the lectures, although she takes pretty good notes. I question her maturity level especially after I caught her going to a magic 8 ball site last week and typing in "Am I pregnant?"  My opinion of her was solidified, but that doesn't change that she is a friendly face in a class.  By the way, the ball's answer was "yes."

There are people in my class who are already working in the computer programming field, and have been for years, merely needing this insanely easy (to them!) introductory course to get the credits that they need.   The majority of us are just slogging through the material waiting for that magic moment when it all clicks into place.    

I am enjoying the interactions with other students and actually being back in the classroom. I struggle daily with my online classes, if for no other reason than not having a professor to actually explain what they want, and how they want it. Email doesn't convey messages the same that speaking does. I also have difficulty reading people's discussions questions which we have to respond to, as they aren't always very well written.

Going back to school is an adventure and I hope to share more of it with you. Next time--lots of Santa pictures.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Insanity comes to visit!

Where to start?  I made a big mistake in life. I somehow must have said, written or thought that I didn't have anything to blog about anymore so all of the sudden more insanity has occurred in the last 3 weeks than in the last 3 years.

I need to preface this...entry by saying that I had a grande pumpkin spice latte a couple of hours ago and I am really buzzing.  I think I could probably fly right now if I tried hard enough, so excuse the many run on sentences and chock them up to way too much coffeeeeeeeeee....

In a sentence....we had an earthquake, my inlaws come, a really bad sinus infection, really annoying badly explained classes, a hurricane, a week of horrible hives, my parents came, with a kitten, it rained...and rained...and rained...and of course my basement flooded, our AC broke, I still have some hives but I'm not allergic to my cat and there might have been sort of a fight in an Olive Garden thrown in there.  What? You want me to go on?  Well...if you insist.  

My in-laws came in on a Thursday. I'd been feeling awful with this horrible chest cough for a couple of days, so when my ears really started hurting I gave in and decided to go to the redi-med place to get some antibiotics.  She also gave me a steroid in hoping to open the passages between my sinuses more so that I could actually get better from this sinus infection.  I thought "great! I'll be better and life will be grand" and  went on with my day. dot dot dot... six days later (last Thursday to be exact) I woke up a day after finishing those steroids and had...some hives.  "Mysterious," I think to myself, but I am far too busy with a luncheon today and class this afternoon to take benedryl and be out of it all I just made a pact with myself not to itch and went on with my day.  That seemed to work until I got to school, went to pay my bill and touched behind my ear to find that there damn neck.  I went to the bathroom and they are all over my neck, chest, legs, arms and ITCHHHHHH.  I make up my mind to go to class long enough to hand my homework in and go home.  Only problem is...that my teacher was 45 minutes late for class.  People had already started leaving when this guy just sort of rolls into class like it's nothing.  I handed my homework, caught up with a classmate in the parking lot to tell him that the teacher finally showed up, and headed home. Days of benedryl later, and I wasn't any better.  A trip to the doctors office where this arrogant jerk of a 'doctor' ignored how much pain and discomfort I was in and instead told me 'not to swear', gave me MORE steroids that didn't work and set me home, and I was about to lose it.  By the time my parents came on Friday I couldn't walk because my feet were so incredibly swollen from the hives.  Monday I ended up in the ER since whenever the hives got bad, I started wheezing, couldn't breathe well and realized that the benedryl wasn't cutting it anymore.  Whatever they gave me in the ER seemed to kill the hives long enough that I got an appointment with my new favorite doctor--my dermatologist, today.  I explained what was happening and he said basically that I most likely had virus hives from being sick, and that all the steroids were just making it worse, and they shouldn't have given me so many and so much and here have this antihistamine and relax.  Did I mention that I love this doctor? This is the man that solved my 20 years of dandruff problem with one shampoo.  Love!

So my in-laws have been here 2 weeks, my parents were here a week and I've managed to go out to dinner with them. Unless you count my mother in law coming to two different doctors appointments with me and my sitting in Starbucks with my mom.  I'm just really disappointed that I've felt so crappy and haven't been able to do stuff but at the same time I feel so incredibly blessed to have had 5 adults around me when I was sick that wanted nothing more than to help me.  Laundry, dishes, kitties fed, love and Starbucks. It was wonderful.  I'm not used to having company come and it being less work for me...I could really get used to this.  Seriously though, I am going to try really hard to do some fun stuff with them this last week of their visit and be happy in the knowledge that they were able to come out and spend time with us, which was the most important aspect of all of this.

My parents came and brought their adorable little kitten Charlotte.  She is about 4 months old, short haired, grey, incredibly curious and in love with Newton.  All we had to do was hold her towards Henry and he would hiss.  Henry did NOT appreciate the kitten at all.  Newton really appreciated having someone to play with for a week. My parents left this morning and he spent all morning looking for her.  It was sad. I think Newton needs a kitten but I also think that a kitten would break that last tenuous thread on reality that Henry is clinging too.  Poor neurotic Henry.

My parents came with all this AMAZING produce from their garden.  They brought the biggest most delicious beefsteak tomatoes that we made bruchetta from with fresh mozzarella.  They brought squash that we ate like mashed potatoes, and carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and more roma tomatoes that I knew what to do with. My dad spent a lot of time canning most of the roma tomatoes into delicious sauce, and he also made refrigerator pickles.  I didn't know that I liked pickles--but these ones are great, and really low in sodium.  My floor looks forlorn and empty without all of the buckets of produce. I think that I might have to make pizza with these beefsteak tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese though.  Oh yum!

So far in my life I have dealt with stress somewhat well. Publically I hold it together quite well and then privately I sort of lose it.  Yesterday, I didn't hold it together so well and I'm feeling very fortunate that my in-laws were here. My mother in law heard some noise coming from the laundry room and went to investigate where she found brown muddy water GUSHING up out of a pipe.  Just GUSHING everywhere and yelled for me. I grabbed some cups from the storage room and sent her upstairs for a pot and started grabbing towels while my father-in-law started collecting the water and attempting to keep our carpet from getting destroyed.  I just sort of lost it at that point and wanted to crawl into a corner and not come out.

Apparently our sump pump, which works (for the record) is hooked up to just dump water out the the back of the house. Not really away from the house and not really in anything drainage like. Nope, just dump it out of the back of the house.  Well, when you get something like a foot of water and there is already water where the water is trying to comes back INTO the house and apparently into my laundry room.  Yeah it was gross. I'm glad it was just muddy water and not sewage though!

Last night after spending far too much time playing this addictive game 'coin dozer' and attempting to fall asleep with the windows open (because our AC wasn't working either!!) a particularly loud crash of thunder  roused me from bed where I saw that the 'Lake' was forming behind our house again. I warned the hubby that the basement was going to start flooding again,  and he, at 2 am, went downstairs and outside to dig a trench to help move the water away from the house.  My hubby is my hero.  Oh yes, so are my in-laws.

So...this is enough of my adventures for today.  What craziness is happening your way? I can't be the only one with lots of crazy happening! I'll try to add some pictures later, but I just needed to write it all out first!

p.s. I got like 5 hours of sleep max last night and I'm too tired (okay lazy) to proofread this well....just saying Hubs, no criticizing!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Update

Earlier this week I lived through my first earthquake.  I had been sitting on the couch, actually trying to make a phone call and all of the sudden I feel a shudder and my windchimes start making some noise, but the cat isn't hitting the curtain they are attached to. The the shudders get stronger and I yell to my husband, who yells back and me and pulls me into the stairway...we BOTH then yell for our cleaning lady who is in our bathroom upstairs.  She was pretty shaken up.  Husband didn't want us to go upstairs for awhile until we were sure we would have another aftershock.  The other night I felt one, but it was nothing compared to the first.

We picked up my inlaws on Thursday--it was an adventure for another blog.

Now...a hurricane. My mom cancelled her trip here, since she would have arrived about six hours ago by train, and wasn't even sure if Amtrak would be running at this point. I think we could have made it there and back safely, but she didn't want to be stressed out the entire time. I completely understand.  Now my inlaws and I are just chilling and watching CNN.  We are more or less waiting for the lights to go out but fortunately we haven't yet. It's been raining hard for more than six hours with almost sideways rain and this is the light part of the storm.

I'm worried if we lose our electricity that the sump pump will go out and our basement will flood. I'm not sure they've ever gotten this much rain.  Updates...will be forthcoming.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Countdown to Operation Full House

The real countdown starts today--one week until my wonderful in-laws will be here! One will until we meet them at the airport, instead of us having to go out there.  I don't think there is a better feeling than walking off of a plane, through the doors and seeing people that love you standing there waiting for you.  Oh it warms my heart to think about it!!  They always do it for us, and I can't wait to do it for them.  Plus, they'll feel like it is much earlier so we can keep them up late.

The guest bed is almost ready.  We picked up a box spring last night, tied it to the top of the SUV and drove the two miles home...slowly.  My husband tied all the doors shut (with me in) and then did a HILARIOUS contortionist act to get in.  Crap, he's going to cause me grievous injury me for mentioning this. (love you baby!!) Hubs was trying his hardest to get the slats made, but mother nature decided that hail was more important than my guest bed.  It will get done, along with a shower curtain and then we will be a go.  My husband might be slow to get stuff done, but since I started stressing about having the guest room done a month ago, he has been great at getting stuff done.

My mom comes in on Saturday.  If it seems that I'm not as excited about seeing her, it is because she isn't too far away and I get to see her frequently whereas I get to see my in-laws 1-2 times per year.  I am excited at seeing her, and while my in-laws go visit some other friends for a couple of days I hope to take her to the zoo. I have been promising for far too long and it's time I go back!  I'm also really psyched that my dad will get to come spend some time out here, as he still hasn't seen our house and I think the last time he saw Newton he was a teeny widdle kitten.  The day we got Newton we left the house where we picked him up, and went to meet my dad to direct him to our new house.  Newton purred the entire time, like he knew he was going to a good home.  Of course, the next time the poor thing was in the cat carrier he umm..had his manly bits removed, so he isn't exactly fond of it anymore. How did I get from dad to kitten?  Anyways, I'm excited to have all these awesome people coming to share my now instead of just me wanting to cook there will be 4 people wanting to cook (my dad is an amazing BBQ'ing god). Food...yum.

This weekend is also going to be awesome since our friends from WV decided to come out to visit.  They only gave me 48 hrs notice, so I don't have enough time (or inclination) to stress about it.  They won't care if my house is a little messy, as long as the toddler can't pull something down and conk himself on the head.  Actually I'm pretty sure he will do this at least once, but as long as we watch, he should escape too much injury.  If he tries riding my cat though, all bets are off.  I have to go to orientation for school on Saturday morning, but hopefully we can get some fun stuff in this weekend and my husband can get some video games in with his friend.

Oh food porn--I made spiced quinoa for dinner but I made a few changes to my own past recipe. First, I went back to Roni's original recipe and added a pear instead of apple. I realized that if you get the pear before it is overripe, they aren't gritty. I can dig that.  It was a little harder than perhaps optimal, but it was still sweet and the texture was like a firm apple.  I also added some raspberries that I picked up today.  Delish. I needed to up my fruit intake and I think that this dinner did it.  I think I ate it all...well...whatever didn't burn to the bottom of the pot because I opened the lid of the quinoa and that always makes it overcook.  Note to readers: when cooking quinoa, don't open the joke, it makes it burn to the bottom. I think I might want to cut the time from 12 to 11 minutes, but I'm pretty convinced that opening the lid to check on it damned me.  If you check the link up there out, you'll see that I said this same thing months ago when I wrote the original post.  I shall never learn.

I'm sure I will be back soon with lots of pictures of adorable drooling children. I anticipate lots of snuggles, and mess.  I also anticipate Henry hiding under our bed looking terrified (which is how he normally looks).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Blog Swap #9, Meet Michele from Stories at my fingertips

Welcome to this year's 20 something bloggers blog swap! I can't wait to share Michele's entry with you. To read about my summer, hop on over:

Hello everyone! I'm Michele from Stories at my fingertips. I'm so excited to blog swap with Eileen here and also very excited to "meet" all of you as well! My Summer this year has really been the best one as of yet. I did so many new as well as exciting things and would like to share my Summer with you.

The first thing that I would like to start off with about my Summer is the weather! I live in Birmingham, AL and let me just talk a bit about how incredibly HOT & humid it gets down here. Though I do love living in the south with the lovely joys of sweet iced tea, fire fly catching at night in the mountain air, and fishing at yours, mine, and our neighbors...I wish the days were much kinder[read: COOLER!] Some days I don't even want to step outside during the hottest time of the day. This is also the time of year that I appreciate air conditioning and ceiling fans the most! Now, I hate to start off talking about my Summer negatively, but all in all...despite the humidity and hot sun, Summers here are still my favorite and as you read on, you'll understand why. :)

The first part of my Summer I actually spent traveling, which is one of my favorite things to do! Z[my boyfriend] and I went to visit my Aunt and her family in Denver, CO. Back to the weather talk, can I just say that I am in loooooove with Colorado weather?! I promise it seemed as if the weather was p-e-r-f-e-c-t everyday while we were there. Also while in CO, Z and I were able to embrace the Rocky Mountains, see part of my beautiful family, and we even went to the Coors Factory! Definitely one of the highlights of my Summer.

As I mentioned earlier, I also went fishing at a close friend's large pond. Our view was breathtaking! Right behind the pond were colossal mountains that just made me want to stand there and stare dreamingly at them until the sun went down. Well, to be quite honest...we were out there until the sun set because it was just a delight to be out there. We were literally almost in the middle of no where. There was no sound other than the water rippling, laughter from our company, and the whisper of the soft breeze. It was an extremely peaceful moment to go fishing out there and I hope to go again soon!

Back to traveling, I'm am originally from upstate South Carolina and this Summer I went to visit my family a few times, which is not much different from any month actually. The drive of 5-6 hours is not that bad after it's your 50th or so trip[minus the Atlanta traffic!]. Also, it is always definitely worth the because being with my family is such a joy. We always have great food, sweet company, and endless laughter. I love seeing my little sisters and meeting up with old friends. South Carolina will always have my heart.

This Summer, my boyfriend and I have also become more cautious about our exercise and health. I really love that we're working out and supporting each other during this new found goal in our lives. We currently use the Lose It app on our iPhones to distantly keep track of each other's progress. It's so much fun! I love being able to text him and be excited that I lost 2lbs or that I didn't eat any carbs that day. It might sound silly, but wanting to be heatlhy together and actually taking the initaitive to do so has definitely brought him and I closer together.

Who doesn't love a good yard sale? Well, luckily this year we were able to attend the World's Longest Yard Sale! It actually starts in Gadsden, AL and runs all the way to Michigan! Can you say, "WOW!" It was definitely an interesting experience. When I first heard of it, I didn't expect beautiful vintage toys and priceless cameras...but it looked as if everyone had hidden treasures. I know that next year, I will definitely bring more cash so that I can bring more goodies home.

I will have to admit that a lot of my Summer weekends were spent in Gadsden, AL. This is the city where my boyfriend is originally from. It is a quaint and charming little town about an hour or less from where I currently live. Neat fact, this is also where parts of Failure to Launch was filmed too! Yes....Matthew Mcconaughey & Sarah Jessica Parker where there! Back to my subject..haha, Birmingham can get so crowded sometimes with bundles of people going out and about on the weekends, so I really enjoy going to Gadsden on the weekends as a get away.
Well, that's my Summer guys! A lot of running around, enjoying the present, and discovering new adventures. Though I can say that this has been a really busy & fun Summer for me, I am really excited for Fall weather! Who's with me?!? Thank you all so much for reading about my Summer and also getting to know a little bit about me. I hope my mini novel did not hurt your eyes.
Please do come by and say HELLO! I would love to get to know you as well.

Thanks Michelle! This was great!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I you?

This game called 'Words with Friends' seems to have swept the facebook and smart phone wielding world. I hated scrabble growing up. I'm not sure if it was because I watched my parents play it so well as a child or if it was because all I saw when I looked at a random grouping of words was cat, dog, and other infantile 3 letter words.  Like drawing, scrabble playing wasn't a skill I inherited, so when people started asking me to play with them I was a little leery. Leery as in, I had no expectations of being able to form a single word, and resisted even trying to play for months. I'm not sure why I gave in, but I think it was because my friend and her sister were competing over who could use the most made up sounding words and still get them to play.  I said "whatever" and gave it a try.  Now it turns out that I am not quite as bad at scrabble as I thought I was, but I'm pretty I cheat.

I admit it. I cheat by using scrabble finder to help me figure out words when I'm stumped or when I've forgotten the word that I was intending to use because I have to wait days for my opponent to make a move. Please don't stop playing with me, because I am actually getting...better.  I am seeing more words and figuring out how to make them fit for maximum pointage.  Me cheating certainly didn't guarantee that I wouldn't lose to my friend by around 150 points (I did).  It means that now I know words like umiaq, and can use it in the future.  I don't care if I win--I don't think I have yet and no one is keeping track (are you Juli?!) but I do like the idea that I am actually learning something out of this experience.

So when is cheating okay? Obviously in a fun game, when my friends joke about it, it's alright. In the real world; at your job, school etc, not so okay.  I am shockingly learning how to play scrabble better, but am still not up for playing the real game with real people unless I can cheat off my husband.  I'm glad, however I play the game, that I learning a better appreciation for something that I thought that I had written off years ago.

This all begs the question--do you cheat at games when no on is looking? Do you think it kills the point of the scrabble if someone is looking up words, even if they don't care if you win? Opinions?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wire-work Jewelry

Lately I've been trying to get back into making jewelry. I had been pretty lazy for awhile, and now that my studio is set up and I've unpacked all my beads I wanted to get crafting!  I was really interested in trying to crochet wire. I have a crochet beaded necklace I bought in Annapolis years ago, and I thought...I can do that! After a couple of tries, I think I have the technique down.
Fluorite beaded necklace ($30)
Amethyst Beaded Necklace ($25)
I have so far made 3 necklaces; 2 fluorite and one amethyst.  Next I moved onto earrings. I really wanted to make these beautiful wire flowers that I had seen. It turns out that crocheting with wire is really hard on your fingers--who would have thought.  I guessed it wouldn't be fun, but it's pretty difficult because the wire doesn't slide at all like yarn and you can't really...start over. I struggled with these flowers, but I think they turned out pretty well in the end.

Chainmaille earrings--so much fun to make! ($12)

wire flowers ($10)

If you are interested in buying any of these--email me. I am planning on taking more pictures in the near future when I'm near my camera.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Does your cat do this?

I have an awesome cat. No, seriously, he is really awesome...when he isn't dropping toys on my face at 2am and not covering his poop (although the other cat might be the chief poop offender).  My husband was in the basement doing some work when Newton...being his normal curious self decided to investigate what was in the tool box.  The hubby decided to make him a toy by taking a zip tie, closing it and the cutting the 'tail' off. Newton is OBSESSED with this thing (he has 3 now) and they are bright orange, although my husband thinks they are pink (he's colorblind).  I finally got video of him fetching but this cat has been doing this since we got him more than two years ago.  His best trick is dropping his toys from the top landing of our stairs through the banister, then rushing downstairs to get it, and back up again.  This is why he is named Sir. Isaac Fig Newton Ward.

He was being really good and actually bringing me to, instead of dropping right out of my reach and then staring at me to get up and get it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Family Traditions

Growing up we had a lot of awesome traditions in my Dad's family.  Some of them were around food--like the gingersnaps we all gobbled up, or the pecan rolls someone would make every year for Thanksgiving.  Other traditions, such as meeting up on Boxing Day instead of Christmas were made up out of convenience so that people weren't rushing and travelling on Christmas Day.  I do remember some raucous Christmas parties when I was little at some relatives house that involved my grandmother lighting a rum soaked figgy pudding on fire.

One tradition as a child that I loved and will always remember fondly were the plays that we would make up every year and put on. These weren't exactly elaborate plays, since most of us, at the time, were 10 and under but they were fun! We would generally steal fairy tales and rename the characters with the names of our parents.  My Dad has six siblings, so we had ample names to choose from.  I think my brother and I actually inadvertently started this tradition when I was about 4 with a stunning rendition of the Frog Prince. Actually I have no recollection of the actual play, but I assume that since someone took a picture, I was stunning.  Memories...

We haven't done plays in a awhile as 'the cousins,' as we are referred to, have grown up. We moved away when I was 10, and missed most family gatherings over the next decade since it wasn't quite as easy to keep in touch then as it is now.  I've only been able to participate in a handful of family events, mostly since I moved back to the east coast, but one tradition I always loved was the Christmas rotation.  Every year the family would sign up, and they would draw names to find out who you had for Christmas.  With seven kids and their families, the list is long, and you would get one or two people to buy presents for each year.  It worked for many years, with some awesome presents coming my way as a kid, and I happily joined in the rotation a couple of years ago. Every year at Christmas, even when we were hundreds of miles away, I would get so excited to see those packages arrive in the mail, and know that my family had thought of us.  To a kid far away from her meant the world to me.

I was really saddened to find out that this year they are stopping the Christmas rotation.  I had contacted a family member in England asking if I could help with some of the cooking, since she sent out gingersnaps to everyone every year, only to find out that since the rotation wasn't going to happen...she wasn't going to make them.   Like our plays, another  family tradition that helped shape my life has ended.  It seems like a little thing, but there were years when either I didn't get any presents at all, or very few and those packages from family made my holiday.  Ever have a Christmas with no presents? It really sucks. It seems like a little thing...but those little things tell people that you care. So this year...I want to make those gingersnaps that have been lovingly made and sent out, even when they were made in October to get from England to the States by Christmas. I want to send out Holiday cards when I never cared about them before.  Maybe I can start a Christmas rotation with my cousins...the sky is the limit. I want to make my own traditions.

What are some family traditions from your childhood? Do they live on, or have they died out as you've gotten older?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Finding a Community

I first heard about the Baha'i faith in college when a girl I went to school mentioned that her parents were Baha'is and attempted to give me a little background on the didn't stick.  Years later I was married, living in WV and working as a nanny for a family that, it turned out, was Baha'i.  I still knew nothing about the faith but if you read this blog at all, you know that I LOOOOVE studying religion, and if people are willing to teach, I'm willing to learn.

For the purpose of this blog--which isn't to teach about the faith, although I'm including a little intro, I really just wanted to talk about how people live their faith.  The thing about Baha'is is that they don't proselytize. Instead they are taught to live a life of service, and in that life of service teach others about the faith through their actions and words. The Baha'i faith teaches about the concept of  'independent investigation of truth' where people are obligated to seek knowledge through their own eyes.  All Baha'is, even those born into the Baha'i faith have to decide to become Baha'is. There is no clergy, although there is a very strong administrative body.  There is no obligation on anyone to become a Baha'i, or live as a Baha'i unless they want to, and there is no condemnation of people who aren't of the Baha'i faith.

Here is a short blurb on the background and goals of the Baha'i faith from
The Bahá'í Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. Its founder, Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892), is regarded by Bahá'ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.
The central theme of Bahá'u'lláh's message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Bahá'u'lláh said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation and that will, in time, give birth to a universal civilization. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.
One of the purposes of the Bahá'í Faith is to help make this possible. A worldwide community of some five million Bahá'ís, representative of most of the nations, races and cultures on earth, is working to give Bahá'u'lláh's teachings practical effect. Their experience will be a source of encouragement to all who share their vision of humanity as one global family and the earth as one homeland.

Baha'is are very passionate about their faith and willing to talk at extent about how they came to the Baha'i faith, and what it means to them, and in today's world...if you ask.  For example, today we were at a BBQ with some Baha'i friends and we talked about cats, and where we lived and then my husband got in a conversation with another guest about something or other and suddenly the other man was teaching my husband about the Baha'i faith.  While I know a good deal about the faith, my husband doesn't since it is hard to teach one's spouse about anything that you are passionate about, and in my case may not know terribly well.  Having someone else there to do it was exactly what I'd been waiting for, and he seemed to really enjoy the conversations that he has had with Baha'is thus far.  I'm encouraged that he isn't immediately writing them off as that 'evil organized religion,' but my hubs loves to learn as much as I do, and is willing to gather as much information as possible if for no other reason than to have knowledge.  

Today I was struck again, about how Baha'is truly live out their faith.  They are deeply faithful, but it isn't as external as I've found in Christian and Muslim faiths.  The externalities are the greeting of "Allah-u-Abha" (God is most Glorious) as Muslim say "Salaam Aleykum" (be be unto you), wearing of religious jewelry, and religious pictures.  It is about the internal, the spiritual, living your faith in your every day life that I find so beautiful, and appealing.  No clergy, no one telling you what to do--if you don't want to be involved the in the community, no one is forcing you.  However, if you wish to be involved, if you wish to learn, the door is always open. 

I have lately longed for the friends that we left behind in West Virginia.  These friends we made soon after we were married, and  with the expectation of staying in West Virginia for years.  They are kind, honest and open people with no agenda.  My husband pointed out that the Baha'is that he  had met so far seem to fall into those categories, which made me again examine what it was about the Baha'i community that appealled to me so much.  I realized it was because they live out the morals and ethics that I had always found important and lived by, but didn't have a means to describe.  All this made me realize that I think I've found the community that I have longed for.  I can live, learn and maybe fall in love with the faith, but never be pushed, or made to feel uncomfortable or out of place.  Here is hoping for the best and learning to be a better, more faithful and patient person along the way.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Let's Dish with Millions of Peaches!

Sitting here looking back on this past weekend I wonder again how I managed to get my usually introverted husband out of the house to do so much with me! I hope he had a good time, because I had a wonderful weekend and I'd love to share some of it with you.  First, I was invited to a friend's house for a devotional meeting on Friday night (which the hubs didn't attend). Our topic was love.  Here is one of my favorite quotes from The

Hidden Words:
I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.

The Hidden Words are so incredibly beautiful, but are short enough that you can pick one or a couple of meditate on.

On my way to devotions, I picked up my friend K along the way. I met her at DaySpring this year, and love her crazy quirky spirit.  She is a love. We were early so we decided to hang out on the swings, and I took pictures of her being so silly.  I'm not sure why it it so small, but I managed to capture her in element.

Our first Let's Dish meal
On Saturday morning my hubby and I headed over for a Meetup event at a place called Let's Dish.  At Let's Dish you prepare meals in bags so all you have to do when you get home is cook them. You can take them home and freeze them (for up to three months). I really enjoyed it. While I like to cook, I have problems deciding what to do cook and I tend to fall back on the same things over and over again.  I hoped that this would extend my repitoire a little, and give me some ideas, plus since you prepare everything at their store, there is any waste.  There are 6 servings to an item, so we split them all, so that we could have a dinner and then someone would have a lunch the next day. Once again, no waste!

We had so much fun! The 80's music that was playing made the hubby happy, and the snacks didn't hurt.  Here are Christy and I. I took the apron off before I remembered we were taking pictures. The next day we made our first meal (Balsamic chicken roasted red pepper sandwiches.  They were delicious!

I'd like to put in a shout-out to my friend Juli, and her hubby and adorable ball of chub baby for coming to hang out with us on Saturday afternoon. We had fun, and it will be repeated. I think next time we need to play some board/card games.
Since the weekend wasn't quite over yet, I somehow managed to convince my anti-social husband to go peach picking with me first thing in the morning on Sunday.  First thing in the morning works better if you don't sleep until 10, and not leave the house until 11:30, but we rocked it! We didn't need many, so it didn't take too long, which was fortunate for us because it was pretty darn hot out there. At the barn, I picked up a couple of ears of corn and we hung out drinking our perquisite bottled root beer (I think the hubs got sasparilla).  They have a garden where you can pick flowers as well, but I decided instead of buying some now, that'd I'd wait until my in-laws came into town (22 days and counting!!) and take to pick flowers with which to decorate the house (and most likely feed the cat that won't stop eating anything he's not supposed to!
My dessert the last two nights
I've been going to a lot of Baha'i events since discovering how large the community in this area is, and I've really enjoyed myself!  I decided to give myself a free pass to show up to one event sans food, or drink but after that I have to bring something.  Do you have a standby food/drink to take to events?  Maybe this will be my way to getting rid of all the stuff that I love to bake.  Hmmmm... This Friday, where ever I decide to go is probably getting some sliced peaches.  Yum!!

Sunday Afternoon I stopped in for what was supposed to be a short baby devotion (think community, prayers and fellowship) for a couple pregnant members of the Baha'i community here. It was great to meet some new people, and hang with old.  After oh, about 4 hours (everyone about the 7 of us adults and kids had left) the group decided to move to another friend's house (who happen to be my neighbors) to hang out in their basement theater and watch...The Princess Bride (20th Anniversary Edition). It was HILARIOUS since all the adults had most of it memorized and we kept trying to get the kids to say 'inconceivable!' which came out as 'inspicable' (I have a sneaking suspicion that they've seen Despicable Me and knew that word).  My husband finally got to meet some of my friends and we finished out a long, wonderful weekend with a great movie, Maiwand Kabob (the best!) and some great friends.  Did I mention the hugs on demand? Having little kids around has some serious perks.