Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Peeved: Work Edition

For the most part, my office environment is totally fine and normal.  (It might be a little more AMPED UP than other offices - but I blame the nature of our work and the abundant amount of testosterone.)

There are certain things, though, that really annoy me.  Pet peeves, if you will.  I'll vent for a second if you don't mind (although, some of these are a little on the strange side, I admit....)

1. When people back into their parking space in the parking lot.  This annoys me in all aspects of life, but particularly the work lot because it's never full!  There's never a time when so many cars are trying to leave that it's hard to get out and thus, would be advantageous to be able to pull straight out.  Never.

2.  When we're walking up to the building from the lot, and someone hits the wrong pedestrian button for the light.  This is slightly hard to explain: but basically, to get from the parking lot, we have to pass over a really busy street.  If you don't hit the pedestrian button to cross, the light is too quick (and we don't have ample time to cross).  But there are TWO buttons - one for the busy road we need to cross, but then one to cross the road into the parking lot (so if you did cross that road, you'd be walking along the busy road).  Well, if you hit the wrong button, you're just making the light for the busy road longer, making all of us arrive to work a couple minutes later than if you knew what you were doing.

3.  When that man I work with brews the coffee stronger than one bag/pot.  I know you all agree with me on this.

4.  When the men I work with comment on my food.  This happens daily, no question - but some times more than once a day.  I'll be heating my breakfast in the microwave: "So, having some eggs?"  or "Oatmeal, huh?"  Or then I'll be preparing my salad for lunch: "Wow, that looks healthy" or "Ooooh, what's on that?"  I'm serious - this happens every day.  And I know they're probably doing it just to engage in conversation that isn't stock market-related - but since it happens everyday, it drives me insane.  It gives my life a super uncomfortable Groundhog Day-type feeling.

5.  When the rather large woman who works in the department on the other side of the hall sees me with my lunch and, with way too much cheer says, "Enjoy your salad!!!!!"

6.  When the same guy from #3 sends me an email with an attachment and says, "hey, do me a favor and print this attachment out and bring it to me."  Yep.  He seriously does that.

7.  When people are too lazy to unload the dishwasher so they start a massive pile of dirty dishes in the sink.  I don't like unloading the dishwasher anymore than the next guy - but 3 minutes of my time is worth not having a sink full of filth.

8.  When the woman who cleans the kitchen comes in to a sink piled with dishes, but first watches The View and eats her breakfast at our table before she cleans.  I mean....really?

9.  When women from other floors come to our floor to "use the facilities" and then head back to the stairwell, having no other "business" to attend to on our floor.  Apparently this is an even bigger problem with the men's bathrooms - but sick, sick, sick!

And finally, 10.  When people come into my office to ask me something and hover too close to my desk/come around to my side of the desk.  There's a very clear division between my space and my guest's space (that has three possible seats), that no one needs to come anywhere near my side of the desk.

Ah.  Didn't that feel nice.  Do you guys have any pet peeves in your office environments?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday: Success

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Ours was really nice...

We spent every night of the week at Jonathan's parents house hanging out with his family (his sister & her fam came in town).  Having the three kids around (age 9, 7, & 3) is always so fun.  They're entertaining even when they're just doing their own thing - but they also really like to play with us.  So throughout the week, there was a little bit of everything: charades, fishing, puzzles, games, music, movies, microscope viewing, football watching, eating, drinking - it was all quite merry.

Thanksgiving itself was nice.  The weather was crazy (really rainy/stormy, and then went from 75 degrees to 30 in a couple hours), so we were sort of stuck inside all day.  But it was ok - we played with the kids, cooked, drank, played Clue (the adults, that is, not the kids, ahem), watched football - and then ate our delicious meal around 5:30.  The food was awesome - my mother in law has definitely mastered the art of the Thanksgiving meal.  All in all, a great day.

Friday night we went for a nice dinner with Jonathan's sister & brother in law before they left Memphis the next morning.  And then the rest of the weekend was pretty low key: watched a lot of football on Saturday, went to see The Tillman Story Saturday night and might or might not have snuck frozen yogurt into the theatre to eat while watching it (a shining moment of adulthood, for sure).

And Sunday - glorious Sunday - officially kicked off the Christmas season in my book.  (As if the first Sunday in Advent isn't enough confirmation, anyway.)  So that means Christmas music!  Christmas decorations!  Nog!  Christmas cookies!  Parties!  The most wonderful time of year!  This little beauty was erected on Sunday as well...
Did you guys have good Thanksgivings?  Did Christmas season also kick off for you following turkey day?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

T-Giving Prelude

I mentioned my love of Thanksgiving yesterday.  But today I'd like to focus on one of my favorite aspects of the holiday: the build up.

It's no secret that I love the Food Network.  But in my opinion, some of its best material comes around holiday times when it does seasonal specials like "Let's Talk Turkey" or "Dear Food Network Thanksgiving."  Even though everything has probably been taped in July, and even though the Food Network stars probably aren't as chummy as they act, I still love these shows!  Giada correcting Bobby on how to say mascarpone?  Love it.  Sunny mock sassing Guy?  Ina and Alton - class vs. science?  I eat this stuff up.

New to me this year was the month-long prep on the blogosphere by the food bloggers.  I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading my usual morning blogs solely dedicated to recipes relating to the big day.  I think when Thanksgiving actually becomes my cooking responsibility (if/when that ever happens), I will adore hearing about possible recipes that offer unique twists on the classics.  (And I don't even need to go here again - but can we talk about how awesome most food bloggers are with their photography?  I think it's a pre req: if you're going to have an awesome, legit food blog, you better be an awesome, legit photographer.)

Anyway, aside from food-only stuff, there's the two-week build up to Thanksgiving on the Today show.  All your needs covered for holiday prep.  You need some table-scape inspiration?  Tune in Tuesday.  Don't know which wine to serve with turkey?  Monday morning.  Curious how to make the holiday healthier?  Wondering which pie recipe is best?  Wednesday and Thursday mornings, respectively.

And all this holiday prep doesn't even begin to touch on all the lovely human interest stories that flood the news around the holiday.  Stories of people being thankful and grateful, and generally, people just being good people.  These stories are everywhere and in my opinion, they make the holiday fantastic - not just about eating and drinking.

I'll say it again: I love Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

T-Giving

I'm really excited for Thanksgiving!  I wish I could have dedicated this whole week to blogging about it.  Unfortunately, I spent most of Sunday reading a book for my book club last night (Saturday by Ian McEwan - highly recommend), and then I was super busy at work yesterday (I'm also busy today, actually...but whatev).

So in my opinion, Thanksgiving is one of the better holidays to celebrate because it doesn't really involve much stress.  (I'm sure for people who host 20+ people at their house, it's a different story - but for me, at this point in life, it's awesome.)  There are no presents to buy, no real preparation except maybe making a couple dishes of food (as I'll be doing this year to take to my in law's house).  And other than that?  You get to go to a house full of family/friends and food, and basically hang out with each other, eat, drink, and relax for most of the day.  There's the parade to be watched in the morning (love it!), football in the afternoon, and then either The Sound of Music or It's A Wonderful Life at night (there have been some programming differences the past few years).  I don't really think it gets much better than that.  (I guess it helps, too, that I actually enjoy spending time with my family & Jonathan's - so I never really dread the holidays like some people do.)

This year Jonathan's sister's family is in town from Chicago (they have three kids), and we'll do Thanksgiving dinner with the nine of us.  I'm really excited!

What are your plans?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fitness Friday

This was week one of my proposed pre-Christmas health plan.  Overall, it's been a good week.

The Good

Exercise
I feel really comfortable with my exercise.  This was a super busy week for me (Bible study Monday night, a book club Wednesday night, and a Junior League thing Thursday night), not to mention our anniversary over the weekend.  I worked out every day except the Wednesday of book club, and I really think the only reason I didn't fit in a workout was because I was hosting the club at our house (and thus had to do all the preparations that went with that).

I did long cardio on Saturday & Sunday: an hour of walking at an incline on the treadmill one day, and an hour run on the Greenline the other.  I feel proud of myself for doing those, considering we were excited and celebrating our anniversary.  And I feel especially proud of the run on the Greenline, because I probably did ~6 miles, and I did it outside (and most of my runs are on a treadmill, which is historically easier than running outside).

Food
I also feel really comfortable with my food for the week.  I'm under the assumption that in an overall week of counting calories to lose weight, one has a little wiggle room (which actually answers LB's question in the original post ["what are you going to do when you have a big bowl of sweet potatoes staring at you on Thanksgiving?"], answer: I will eat them on that one day of the week and not feel bad about it).  So I took my wiggle room on Saturday night of our anniversary when we went out to a nice dinner, had the top layer of our wedding cake (which was surprisingly awesome, by the way), and drank a lot of wine.

But I dutifully counted calories, otherwise.  I kept my after-work snacks reasonable.  And what I'm particularly proud of: I cooked us dinner on Friday night and didn't have anything to drink (since it was just us staying in for the night).  We usually eat out on both weekend nights, so this was a good option.

The Bad

Exercise
I had a tough time on Monday night.  Bible study started at 6:30, so I didn't have all that much time to do anything.  I had pre-determined I would do abs & lift weights (since cardio was out of the question), but when it actually came time to do it, I had trouble with motivation.  I didn't want to lay on the ground doing ab moves because I knew it would be painful and not fun.  I dilly-dallied more than I should have.

Food
Even though I had planned accordingly (ie, kept my calories really low all day), I ate too much the night of book club.  I think this would've been ok if that was my one splurge night of the week, but it really wasn't (Saturday was).  I should've done more tasting, and less give-me-3000-pieces-of-full-fat-cheese-please-now.

Weigh In
My weight didn't change this week.  I think under normal circumstances I would be discouraged by this.  But I'm not, really, because I can visibly see how much water I'm retaining at the moment (hello hormones), and I think that might have something to do with it.

Looking Ahead

Next week is going to be really hard.  Jonathan's sister & her fam arrive in Memphis on Tuesday.  We'll go to his parent's house every night of the week until they leave (on Saturday).  This poses exercise problems and eating temptations.  And then there's Thanksgiving.  Yikes!  I just don't want to gain weight - I think that's more reasonable than even beginning to think I will lose.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pajams

I don't usually sleep in traditional pajamas.  I have quite a few nightgowns that are pretty cute - not the kind our grandmothers used to wear - that I like to wear in summer.  But in winter, I usually end up in a long sleeved t-shirt because I get so cold. 

I hesitate to wear pajama pants because I find them a little annoying.  That is, they don't keep me all that warm and they completely bunch up above my knees, which just makes me uncomfortable and feeling like I have a ton of fabric all around me.  And since they've bunched up?  They don't keep me any warmer than if I didn't have any on to begin with.

The problem remains, though: I still get really cold.

Well, today in my daily SPAM mailings from online retailers, Victoria's Secret was offering a "Pajama Sale."  I clicked just to see what they have, and I think I might have found something that would remedy the pants-bunching-up sitch:
No need to tell me, because yes, I do realize how ugly and unflattering these pajamas would be.  BUT - I think that tapered leg might be key to warmth without fabric bunching.  And they look like they might be a little looser than sleeping in, say, leggings (which is kind of too tight for me - I like to have a little air flow).

Do you guys usually sleep in something cute?  Or are you all function, no fuss?

(Jonathan - what do you think of those, huh??  It might be hard for you to sleep with that hot temptation next to you all night.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cooking Machine

Of late, I have been a new recipe-making machine! 

There have been a few catalysts that started this culinary adventure.  One, I felt like we were getting in a slight dinner rut.  It wasn't bad, per se, but there were quite a few weeks back to back when we would have a piece of fish with roasted vegetables a couple nights a week.  Definitely healthy, but not outside my cooking comfort zone, and not particularly interesting on our palate.  We're still having this now, but instead either the preparation of the fish or the vegetable is done in a new, exciting way. 

Two, I added a ton of food blogs to my daily blog reading (as you can see in my blogroll to the right).  I don't know if you guys ever click on those, but hello inspiration in the kitchen!  They not only give you recipes to try, but they give you feedback about them and more detailed instructions than in a cookbook.  And can we just mention the fact that many, many food bloggers are also awesome photographers?  The quality of some of their pictures suggests that they're using really nice equipment in a effort to make food look beautiful.  I'm on board with that. 

And finally three, I'm still trying recipes from that lovely Sunday a few weeks ago when I sat down with a cookbook and noted all the stuff I wanted to try.  This was awesome, and I really can't recommend it enough (especially if you're like me and own 3000 cookbooks that often remain unopened).  I'd actually like to set a goal to go through all my cookbooks page-by-page like this at some point.  And the key is to really read the recipes and determine which ones you will actually make (ie, not just something that looks awesome).  For me, this has a lot to do with the ingredients - that is, if there are so, so many that aren't a part of my kitchen already or can't be bought in a size appropriate for the recipe, I probably won't make it.

The cookbook I sat down with that Sunday was Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites.  Katie initially turned me on to Moosewood when she bought me a different cookbook of theirs - and then Jonathan went on to buy me this one.  It's a vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca and almost all of the recipes I've made from them have been awesome.  A lot of them have a sort of Indian-y flair - so if you're into Indian food, this is especially great.

I'm wondering now how all the new recipes will play into my overall cooking scheme.  I really like to try new things - but some of these have been so good, we'd want to eat them again.  We'll have to wait & see.  But I think as long as I'm all fired up about making new things, I'll keep going with that vibe (and then when we fall into a rut again - because it's bound to happen - we'll have some new things in the rut).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reflections on the Dreaded First Year

Everyone says it.  Seriously, everyone.  "The first year of marriage is really hard."  People who are married say it, people who have been married say it, and even people who aren't married say it (only then it's "I hear the first year of marriage...").

Well, I've been married one year now.  So I have some input on the whole thing.

Reflections on a first year of marriage...

(And I feel like I might first need a little disclosure about this: when you first move in with someone, it's hard.  I did this about five months before we got married, though, so it didn't affect our first year.  But yeah - moving in together is an adjustment.  [And rightfully so, I'd say, which might contribute to the "dreaded first year."]  But that didn't weigh in for us - so that won't be considered in my overall assessment.)

So, we got married in November.  I highly recommend this.  (Aside from the fact that I was eating healthy all through Fall and thus didn't enjoy many Fall food treats last year, but whatev.)  We got back from our 10-day honeymoon on Thanksgiving.  So basically, after our awesome wedding, and our awesome honeymoon, we came home to the awesome holiday season.  It was the most perfect transition (because I hear that some women go into a sort of post-wedding sadness since they're no longer looking forward to something that requires a lot of their time).  All through the holiday season we were happy and giddy about our wedding, each other, and all the merriment of the holidays.  Everyone was congratulating us whenever they saw us, we were still getting presents, we were eating and drinking a ton (since we'd been off alcohol and carbs for 90 days) - it was an awesome time - the "honeymoon period," I'd say.

And then there was the rest of the year.  And it was fine.  It was a normal year.  We went to work.  We did our normal nighttime routine.  We did stuff on the weekends.  Our schedules didn't change that much from where they'd been the 3 years we'd been together.  But I wonder if a contributing factor to first-year troubles for some people is a major change in routine.  So, maybe before you get married, you go out every night, stay out until 3am every weekend night, generally live pretty carefree.  But then you get married and feel like you maybe need to settle down a little more.  Well, that might cause some trouble.  Or if one of the spouses changes jobs, that might cause some adjustment.  Or if you move to a new house/neighborhood/city, that might call for some tough times.  Or if you didn't do a lot of stuff before with other couples, so you then have to try to merge social lives that used to be exclusively guy time and girl time, that might make a tough first year.

But we didn't have any of that going on.  It was a "normal" year for us.  So we had some really good experiences/moments (fun trips, a few weddings, good food/wine, fun concerts, etc.).  And then we went through some hard experiences (putting BenCat to sleep, family illnesses, family situations that changed, etc.).  There were peaks and there were valleys.  And this is sort of my interpretation of what I imagine marriage will be like forever: I think there will always be peaks and valleys.  Because that's how life goes.

So were there times in this past year when marriage was hard?  Yes - very much so.  It was never hard in a regret sort of way - it was just hard: we fought, we weren't nice to each other, we were selfish.  But then there were times that were awesome - we didn't fight in situations when we easily could have, we were nice & supportive of each other, we were selfless - and it was idyllic and enviable, like everyone wants their marriage to be.

I guess as we grow old together, we'll understand each other more, which might make the valleys of marriage less frequent.  But I truly think that they'll always be there, if not just because hard/sad/awful things happen in life and you have to deal with them.  Or if not just because of the volatility of one's emotions - that quite possibly at one time or another in life, you'll feel like a failure or depressed and that will affect your relationship with everyone, your spouse included.

I do agree with the statement that "marriage is hard work."  It's permanent.  So in a relationship that isn't committed in marriage, there's always the possibility that you could break up.  But a marriage is forever.  I think this can cause you to get lazy at times - that is, you know that you should do this one thing that your spouse wants/needs for fulfillment in the marriage, but since there's no risk of breaking up, you can slack about doing it at times.  In theory, husband and wife are constantly striving to be the best spouse they can be, but in actuality, it doesn't happen every. single. time. 

So, in conclusion, our first year of marriage was hard.  It was also easy.  I'm glad we're over the hump - for some reason it feels more legit to be married more than a year.

I need to work harder at it.  Jonathan does too.  But overall, I think we're doing alright.  I'm excited for many more years, and for all the things that will happen in our life together.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Year Ago Today...

One year ago today, I woke up at 6am and cleaned my entire house - vacuumed, scrubbed, dusted - the works.  I guess that wouldn't have been 100% bizarre for a Saturday morning if I wasn't going to slip into this a little later:
Photo Source: See Note Below
(Cleaning is one of the ways I deal with stress/nerves - whatev.)

So, today is November 14, 2010: exactly one year after I walked down the aisle and said "I do" with this guy.
Photo Source: See Note Below

Our wedding day was awesome - the "best day of my life," to use the cliche.  The whole weekend, actually, was awesome/loving/humbling/etc.  We were surrounded by family and friends (all 275 of them) who were so happy for us and excited to be there - we felt so much support/energy from the group of people - it was awesome.

The wedding day itself was a busy one for me (the morning clean, followed by a lovely day-of-the-wedding brunch hosted by friends of Jonathan's parents, hair & makeup done, hours of pictures, ceremony, reception, and then HUGE recap of everything once we got to our hotel that night).  I think, in total, I was awake for almost 24 hours.  But overall, they were the best hours I could of wanted.  It's weird thinking back to it now - like, even a year after, I still remember how giddy I was about the whole thing.  If we could've bottled that happiness, I think we'd still be taking draws from it a year later.

Photo Source: See Note Below

I don't think I really would've changed anything about the wedding in retrospect (except I would've drank CAFFEINE at the reception).  The ceremony was perfect - worshipful and personal (our pastor even mentioned our pets in his sermon).  The reception venue was so cool (I don't have pics, but it was a beautiful old southern mansion that is now a children's museum - The Pink Palace).  The band rocked hard (and might or might not have inspired Katie, Lb, and me to sing BoRap with them on stage).  I remember going friggin insane being a little frustrated with the florist because I couldn't reach him the week before the wedding to confirm.  But in the end, the flowers were awesome, so I don't think I would've wanted to use someone else.

Photo Source: See Note Below

It should also be said that our photographer was fantastic!  Sara Beth Raab at Southern Design Studio knows what she's doing.  (Actually, if you go to her website, click "weddings," and then click "sample weddings," we're the one on the right.)  She was able to use our beautiful church to its full potential to get shots like this:

Photo Source: See Note Below

There were also some small, random aspects of the whole thing that I loved.  I loved the hotel we stayed that night (The Madison) and how we had breakfast in bed the next morning.  I loved that the caterer packed us food to take back to the hotel, so we could eat while we recapped the whole weekend.  I loved that when we got to the reception venue, we had a little private dinner upstairs before we went down to where the guests were.  I loved that when we first saw each other in our wedding clothes (since we did pictures before the ceremony), we met in the little chapel that's on the other end of our church from the sanctuary.  I loved that we used the cake topper that was on my grandmother/grandfather's wedding cake, and roughly designed our cake after theirs.

Photo Source: One of my friends of Facebook - thanks, friend.

Overall it was perfect, as any wedding should be.
Photo Source: See Note Below

Note about photos: All of these pictures (except the cake-cutting one) were taken by our photographer, Southern Design Studio.  I would've included more, but I was limited to the JPEGs I could pull off Facebook & the photog's blog (because I didn't feel like digging through the DVD that has the thousands of pics she took that day).  I promise that my husband was in many many more of the pictures.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Anyone up for a Challenge??

Today is Friday, November 12.  In approximately two weeks (holy crap where did the time go??), it will be Thanksgiving.  In approximately six weeks, it will be Christmas!

Let's stop and take that in for a second.  Christmas?  In six weeks?  Thanksgiving in two?  It was seriously 80 degrees in Memphis yesterday.

But anyway, I digress.

So, as we all know, the "holiday season" is notoriously one of the unhealthiest times of year.  You've got your work Christmas parties, holiday happy hours, holiday parties for different clubs/activities, friends' Christmas parties; and then also, holiday cookie recipes are begging to be baked (or your workmates' holiday cookie recipes that they bring in to share with you), the friggin egg nog carton screams your name every time you're at the grocery store, "Let's Talk Turkey" and "Season's Eating" are on the Food Network, and the candy canes and toffees you can only get this time of year and so good.  It's basically a calorie nightmare.

SO...I propose a challenge!

(Well, maybe not a challenge, per se.)

But I propose that if you have any lingering weight loss goal (maybe one you've been waiting for the new year to start), you do it now.  And you keep up with it through the holidays.  (Also, maybe the goal isn't weight loss-oriented - maybe you want to be able to lift X amount of weight, or run for X amount of time/miles, or wear X size, or exercise X days per week, something like that.)  And then every Friday I'm going to blog post about my own goals and progress - and if you're interested, you can comment about yours - and then we'll be accountable to each other!  Isn't that a fun little way to make a goal & stick with it (by having to report back to someone else)?

I should say that even if no one wants to play along, I'm still going to post about my own challenge on Fridays - so then I have to actually own up to my progress or lack thereof.

My Personal Challenge:
1) Lose 9-10 pounds by Christmas (this is losing 1.5-2 lbs/week - a doctor-accepted amount of weight loss - with about a week worth of wiggle room)
2) Exercise most days of the week (something I normally do - but that always seems to fall to the wayside during the holidays)

How I Will Achieve This:
1) Eat healthy, real food and track my calories in the LoseIt! app
2) Drink less than I normally do during the holidays
3) Wake up early to work out if I know I won't be able to do it after work; or lift weights on a day when I otherwise wouldn't work out (because I don't have time to do cardio & then shower [this would be days when there's a 6-7pm event])

As a point of reference, if I lose 9-10 pounds, I will weigh 3-4 pounds less than I did on my wedding day (but will be 3000x less toned [since we were just coming off P90x], so I think it will be about equal).

My family travels every year at Christmas, and this year we'll spend a week in Aruba.  Ideally I'd like to wear my awesome honeymoon bikinis on the beach instead of the tankinis I bought for our recent Mexico trip because my honeymoon suits didn't fit so I would be less exposed.

That's my plan - is anyone else on board??  Do you need the accountability over the holidays like I do?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

O-R-G-A-N-I-Z-E!

Organization is kind of my thing.  I like stuff to be in order.  Our house is usually pretty neat because if it isn't, I get this weird anxiousness - like, I can't relax and lay on the couch if the family room is messy.  (Side note, I'm loving the time change because my body is naturally waking up a little earlier - so that allows me to get up, make the bed, straighten the family room & kitchen all BEFORE I have to get ready for work.  Coming home to a neat house is priceless for me.)

But aside from neatness, I also like things to be in order.  I like things to have a "home," if you will, such that everything can always be put away.  Aside from keeping the house clean, this helps me maintain a nice filing system for important documents.  I like to have up-to-date calendars so I can keep up with the various meetings & clubs I have each month; and so I can grocery shop and cook our dinners every night.  I maintain a reasonably healthy lifestyle because I track my exercise and food in an iPhone app.  I like things to be in order.

So one of the things I've been thinking about lately is my blog and how there isn't all that much order to it.  Sometimes I struggle with what to write (as many, many bloggers do, I have no doubt).  And while I don't feel pressure to get posts up, per se, the original intent of the blog was to get myself back into 5-day-a-week writing, so when I don't do that, I'm sort of not living up to a goal I have set for myself.  I'm not neurotic about it - please don't get that impression.  But I can affirmatively say that the initial goal of this blog remains: to write 5 days a week.

SO - putting two & two together - if I can apply some of the organization and orderly-ness of my normal life to blogging, I think it will help me achieve my initial purpose of writing almost everyday.

I think, then, that I'm going to try having "topics" that apply to a certain day of the week (ex: maybe every Monday is "food," every Tuesday is "the news," etc.).  And they could certainly be loose versions of the topic if I want (so, on a "food" day, I could maybe write about a Thanksgiving dinner that affected me as a kid), but regardless, there is some sort of unity to the whole blog.

I absolutely want these daily topics, then, to be important to me and relevant to my life.  I want the goal of writing 5 days a week to be fun (which might inspire me to actually sit down and write my novel one of these days).  Some possible contenders right now are: food, cooking, health, exercise, the news, marriage, books, getting older, etc.  I know that some of these things might be boring to some people - but they're important to me and would make me interested in logging on everyday and writing about them.  So we'll see...

Oh, and another thing mu ahahahaha, I'm probably done talking about said topics - as in, I think I'm just going to start employing this method of blogging.  So: be advised that you're probably going to see a blog that has lots of posts about the things that are most important and relevant to my life right now (which you already have - but just know there's probably a little more organization than meets the eye, because, you know, organization is kind of my thing.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What Would You Do? (Part II)

I don't know what kind of person this makes me - or if it even makes me a certain kind of person at all - but when I found the ring taped to the bottom of my shelf, it 100% never crossed my mind to try to find the original owner.  In fact, when I re-told the story to a co-worker a couple days later, and she said, "well, do you have any contact info about previous owners so you can try and return it?" I was surprised I hadn't even thought of that.

But logically, the whole thing didn't really make sense.  Obviously taping a ring in a jewelry bag to the bottom of a shelf - and then forgetting about it - is something the old woman (original owner) would be more likely to do than any of the other inhabitants of the house.  BUT, I had always sort of thought the addition had been put on by the owners of the house before me, NOT by the original owners.  Also, no one had ever contacted me to ask about it.  I'd imagine if it were one of the younger previous inhabitants of the house, they would contact me, explain their crazy story about how they'd left it there, and I absolutely would have given it back.  But no one had.

So in the end, we made no effort to return it to anyone.  We knew the first owners of the house were no longer alive - and on hand, we didn't have any contact information for their potential beneficiaries.  (I'm sure with Memphis being as small as it is, we could've found someone - but still, it seems like a weird call to make: "hi, I have a ring set that could've potentially belonged to your grandmother" [but then there's still the mystery of the timing of the addition, which I'm pretty sure was not put on by the original owners.])

So the ring remains ours.  And actually, my mom had it re-set for herself in a new ring that incorporates the diamonds from her & my step dad's old wedding bands.

***

And then there's the story from the news - the man who found the backpack of money and jewelry.  That man, Mr. Good Samaritan, went through quite some effort and was able to find the rightful owner who had accidentally set the bag down.  (And she went on to give him $1000 for his helpfulness.)

I'm not sure how I, personally, would've handled that, though.  The previous experience with the ring might suggest I'd keep the backpack for myself. 

But actually, first and foremost, I don't think I wouldn't have picked it up to begin with.  No way, actually (because that bag could've contained a severed head or something terrible and I would've been too scared).  But, for the sake of argument, if I had, I'm not sure I would've kept it.  ONLY because the conspiracy theorist in me would be worried: 1) it was a trap; or 2) it was linked to criminal or terrorist activity that would then get me too involved and/or accused and arrested.  Sadly, I think these two potential scenarios would drive me to turn in the bag more than altruism.  Is that awful?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Would You Do? (Part I)

A couple days ago, a man was on his way to a restaurant when he saw an abandoned backpack at the edge of the woods by his house.  Noting the annoyance he feels since he often misplaces his own wallet, he picked up the backpack, hoping to find some identifying information that would help him return it.  Instead of identifying information, it was filled with jewelry and $5000 in cash.

What would you do?

****

Many of you have probably heard this story, but I've actually had an experience somewhat similar to this...

In the process of packing my house so I could move into Jonathan's, I was cleaning out my bathroom.  My bathroom at the old house was this tiny little space that could really only comfortably hold one person at a time.  In fact, it was so small that the drawer and cabinet closest to the wall couldn't ever open 100% because they ran into the toilet.  Because of that (and because it was really hard to get down to the cabinet [since you'd have to lean on the toilet]), I only used it for storing stuff that I didn't need on a daily basis.  The cabinet was divided in two by a horizontal shelf - so stuff that was in the bottom half was nearly impossible to access.

Well, when I was cleaning the bottom portion of the cabinet out, I hoisted myself on the toilet and shoved my arm in there to pull everything out.  In the process of doing so, the top of my wrist brushed against something that was hanging down from the underside of the shelf.  I felt around with my fingers (because it would've been really difficult to lay down on the floor to look), and realized something had been taped to the bottom of the shelf.

With some prodding, I pulled down a little cloth jewelry bag with about 20 pieces of tape attached to it.  I opened it and found an enormous diamond engagement ring with a matching platinum wedding band.  Nothing else.

What would you do?

I'll post my thoughts (and follow up to the story tomorrow).  But really, in both of these situations, what would you do?

Some info about my house, too: it was built in the 40s; the original owners lived in it for most of their lives (I think when they were really old they either moved to a nursing home or in with relatives); the second owner was a dad who bought the house for his daughter when she was in optometry school - she lived in it with a friend who was also in school; when the girls moved out, the house was rented to a displaced Hurricane Katrina family - parents probably in their late 30s with two kids ~ age 10; we were the third owners.  And my bathroom in the house was an addition - I don't know if the original owners built it or the second owners.

Monday, November 8, 2010

One of the Best...

I'd willingly argue with anyone that the Sunday in November when we "Fall Back" is one of the best days of the year.  Now, I'm no fan of the implications of the day (dark at 5pm - no thanks), but that one day in November, when we basically have a 25 hour day, is awesome!

On my 25-hour day this year, I arose around 7:30, feeling 100% rested.  Since my mom was in town for the weekend, we had predetermined that we wouldn't go to church.  Instead, we went downtown to meet her at the hotel for breakfast/coffee before she headed out.

I then went out to Target and Whole Foods for a luxurious 2 hours of calm, pre-crowd shopping.  After we put all the groceries away at home, Jonathan and I headed out to the Greenline for a lovely hour of walking.  The weather was gorgeous and the trees were changing colors.

We also did three loads of laundry.  I cooked a new recipe (vegetable curry) for dinner.  We watched football.  I read a book.  It was a lovely, long Sunday.

In other news - happy belated birthday to Katie!

And....I finally got a Fall wreath for our front door.  It's not the prettiest wreath I've ever seen (not at all, actually), but it was only $15 at the Pottery Barn Outlet.  And my thoughts are that I could definitely buy some things to hot glue to it which might make it cooler.
And up close:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

McDon't

Sick.

Did you guys see the video clip that was flying around the internet yesterday?  If not, I'll paraphrase (but I won't embed the clip in my blog because I don't know how to do that I just don't feel like it, ok?).

Ahem.

So anyway, this guy bought all these sandwiches from McDonald's (quarter pounder, normal cheeseburger, filet-o-fish, a chicken one, etc.) and a cheeseburger from the local "burger joint down the street."  Then he also got fries from McD's and fries from the local place.

He put each item in it's own glass container and put a lid on them.  Then he waited and observed.

The first thing to get pretty nasty was the fries from the local restaurant.  After about a week, they were completely covered in black mold.  Similarly, the burger from the local place began to mold after about a week.  (The McD's items pretty much stayed in tact that first week.)

As the weeks went on, everything started to get really nasty, though.  The fries from the local place needed to be thrown away because they were so overgrown.  All the sandwiches were really moldy, really gross, sort of goopy...

EXCEPT the McDonald's fries.  In fact, after 7 weeks, the fries looked like they'd been purchased the day before - no mold, no withering, no liquids oozing out - nothing.

That doesn't really bode well for what happens when they're actually digested by your body.  I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I'll ever put another one of those in my mouth (not that I've really had anything from McDonald's in about 5 years - but still).  Sick.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We Re-Uned

It's hard to pinpoint exactly how I'd like to sum up the reunion weekend in a blog post... 

It was great.  That could probably be the end of the post.  But since "concise" isn't a word I'd necessarily use to describe my writing, I'll go with some bullets.

1) Katie & LB stayed at our house and it was awesome; somewhat reminiscent of our pre-marriage days of living together - maybe even better?  (Since, you know, you live with people and there are the occasional dramatic moments or arguments about who's going to clean the bathroom, etc.)  But we all needed a little mini reunion this past weekend, so it was good times all around.

2) I was the chairman of our reunion committee, and from that viewpoint, everything went awesomely well.  The weather agreed (even though it was chilly); we had a really big turn-out on Saturday night; Halliburton Terrace turned out exceptionally well (dare I say even better than The Bar Which Shall Remain Unnamed, had we been there?); the Friday event was fine and at least had more than 10 people (which was one of my fears); and overall, people in our class seemed to be having a good time.  Success!

3) We stayed out really late both nights.  It reminded me that: a) I'm not as young as I used to be; but b) I'm still not that old yet.  Something about that realization feels right.

4) We went to Beale Street on Saturday night after the event on campus.  I smuggled beers through the security entrance, tucking one of said beers into my leggings.  I guess I'm definitely not that old yet.

5) We ate and drank so much!  I'm still bloated and my scale is still registering 5 pounds heavier than it did Friday morning.  Awesome.

6) Brad - I wish I could've held your arm muscles a little longer than you let me on Sunday afternoon.

Like I said, an overall success!  And now 5 years to rest until the next one....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Go Vote - Do It!

This blog is directed to me and you, reader friends (since I stupidly forgot to early vote [when the weather was gorgeous and I could've used a nice little walk outside & away from the office for a second]).  And of course, it's friggin pouring today and thundering and cold But whatev... 

Get out there and vote!

If anything, give yourself the privilege of complaining about how you think politics are going right now (because sorry, if you don't vote, I don't really think you can complain).

This could be a pretty impactful election day - I'm interested to see how everything turns out.  I'm also incredibly anxious for political commercials to end and for all the news coverage to die down.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Awesome Streets

Yesterday afternoon (after epic Rhodes reunion weekend [more to come on that later]), my body desperately needed to get off the couch and out the door in running shoes.  And while it was nowhere near a "run" (or even "speed walk," if we're being honest), the weather was awesome and it felt good to move a little.

An added bonus was that tons of people were outside preparing for Halloween.  The atmosphere on certain blocks of our neighborhood was awesome: neighbors outside helping neighbors set up their spooky fog machines; kids already in costume running yard to yard playing; parents drinking some brew and chatting with each other in the street.

It was magnetic in a way - and it made me excited to one day live on a block that has awesome people.  Now, I should say, my street is adorable.  It's a quaint little lane with about 20 cute houses.  And everyone who lives on it is nice, for sure.  But it's not a super neighborly atmosphere, mainly because of the types of people.  There are about 5 middle aged, single women who live alone; 4 original residents of the street (one is a 95 year old woman); a few rental properties; a couple houses that aren't tended to all that well; and then a couple other young couples who just don't really have anything in common with us.  So, as strange as it may sound, we don't have any "friends" on the street; but actually, on an even deeper level, we don't even have anyone on the street who we keep up with, as in, "oh, hey Mike, how's your job in pharmaceutical sales?"  Or, "how's the new puppy Bingo?"  "Did your sister have her baby yet?"  We don't really know anything about the people who live around us except maybe what their jobs are (of the ones we met at a neighborhood gathering we had once).

So while our house is great and I love it, and our neighborhood overall is great, I'm excited to one day be on a better street - and a street with other young families who will hopefully be around the whole time their kids grow up.  In fact, I think I'd rather have a house I'm not 100% drooling over to be able to be on an awesome street with lots of kids.

What about you guys?  Are you in the same phase of life as your neighbors?  And are you friends?