Thursday, May 27, 2010


I am easily the most impatient person I know. Without a doubt. It comes out when I'm around people I love...I try very hard not to direct it at them, but I do let my feelings show, especially with Mike. Thank goodness he's patient with me :)

I do not, however, let these feelings of impatience out with strangers. I'm extremely patient with customer service people, don't mind waiting on one of our elders to tell me a 20 minute story, or waiting on our niece or nephews to figure something out for themselves. Thus, I expect the same from others. It's rude to be blatantly impatient with others, especially when it's nothing they can control.

The reason I'm telling you this:

I went to the store today to get some things we needed for our upcoming golf benefit. The woman working the cash register was newer and a little slow. No big deal, everyone has to learn at some point. I was chatting with a woman who had gone through the line in front of me. She politely asked the cashier if she could get some change for her son to get something out of the vending machine. She waited patiently and I had some quarters, so I traded her. No big deal. It made her son's day though, which was nice.

I had like 15 items for her to scan. The gentleman (I use that term very loosely) behind me was tapping his foot already at me when I put my things down. Then, as the cashier was ringing my items up at a pace that wasn't quick enough for this guy, he asks me if I thought I picked up enough crap to buy. I politely ignored his rudeness. When it was time, I slid my debit card through the machine, told them I didn't want cash back, and then waited on the cashier. She apologized for the machine being so slow and I smiled and told her it was no big deal (it really wasn't. I had nowhere to be and it's not her fault.) So, I was chatting with a lady behind this "gentleman" about places I knew of where her 14 year old daughter could work and all of a sudden this "gentleman" starts loudly saying "yes, Yes, YES..." Now, baring the obvious conclusion that my talk of supermarket shelf stocking was getting him hot and he was having a spontaneous orgasm (sorry, too much?), I had no idea what his problem was. I glared at him and saw that he was pointing at the credit card machine, who was waiting for me to tell it if the amount was okay or not.

I was extremely tempted to push no and make them go through all of that again. Had it not been for the nice people waiting behind this guy or the new cashier who was trying so hard, I probably would have. I think it's good to teach rude people how their behavior affects people. I didn't though. I rolled my eyes at the cashier, who looked nervous to help this man next, and then smiled and thanked her politely. I did, however, take my sweet time moving away from the counter so he could get up to the machine.

Seriously, who's in that big of a hurry? What emergency was he about to face with his dollar store loofah and chipped blue cereal bowl?

Maybe I don't want to know.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Things I Didn't Buy

I've said it before, I have to kill time while I'm waiting for Mike to get off work if I don't work late. I rarely have things to do between 4:30 (about when I leave) and 6:30, so I find places to hang out. Last night, I went to a local antique mall to browse. Ha.

I found so many awesome things I really wanted and thought I needed to have. Of course, I don't have the extra money to actually purcahse them. And I was unprepared, so I didn't bring my camera to take pictures of them. What's a girl to do? Why, take fuzzy pictures on her cell phone, of course!

Here's what I didn't buy:

This is a stove. Yes, a stove! How freakin cool is that? I wouldn't actually want to purchase it, but it's such a unique way to display things. Way to go, vendor!

This is an adorable little ladder. I will be back to buy this if I can't find one of my own to make. You can't really see in this picture, but it has light blue chippy paint, which I love. I've almost convinced myself to add some blue accents to my dining room when I redo all the chair coverings and curtains. Almost.

Here's a cute green table. I have no idea where I would use a cute green table, but I really liked it.

And here's my favorite thing. So freaking awesome with all the chippy paint. We've been looking for a cabinet like this to put in the dining room to hold table linens and possibly some overflow dishes and centerpieces. I love this so much. The problem is, whoever painted it, painted the drawers shut and they really don't open well. If I decide to buy this, I'm going to have to make sure I can get them open or find something else.

I actually did find a large black chest of drawers that I may love more than the chippy cabinet. And of course, I found it before I had the stroke of brilliance about my cell phone camera.

Tomorrow: What I Did Buy. (Suspenseful teaser? Possible. Forgot to take pictures last night of my purchases when I got home? Probable. Either way, I've got you wondering. Teehee.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Week in the Life: Days 4-7

Um, yeah. It's been a long time since I've blogged. Which means my WITL album will suffer since I was terrible at taking notes. But, here we go.

Day 4 (Tuesday):
I spent a long time trying to wake up on Tuesday morning. My back was still killing me, but I knew I couldn't stay home from work for an entire day again. I have too much going on, plus I feel guilty not being at work when I'm supposed to be. So, I decided I'd go in for half a day.

  • There was a Law & Order: SVU marathon on. It was a miracle I still went to work. I could have easily sat there all day and watched that.
  • I actually did get some work done, though it was very painful. I couldn't really sit still, but it hurt to be on my feet too much. Needless to say, I just wanted to be home.
  • Mike called me on the way home and asked if I wanted pizza. Uh, hello, of course I do :)
  • Tuesday is the night of all our favorite tv shows, so I sat in my uncomfy couch (which was good for my back) and watched Glee & Parenthood. Good times.
Day 5 (Wednesday):
I must have done something in the middle of the night to my back, so I could barely move when I woke up on Wednesday. I wasn't planning on staying home, but there was nothing I could do about it. I txted my boss, and she finally told me to stop worrying about it and just rest. So, I did.

  • Again, there weren't a lot of highlights when I was laying around doing nothing. I don't particularly enjoy that.
  • I did get to spend the day with Mike. His normal day off is Wednesdays, and he was very sweet and helpful again. I picked the right guy :)
  • Mike made dinner for us. We had our doctored version of Philly cheese steaks. Normally, we make them the traditional way...that night, we made them over rice. Because we didn't have any buns. Or bread. They still tasted yummy.
  • We watched NCIS, our joint favorite show. It might be the only show we actually agree on. And it was a good one.
  • I laid on the couch with Mike for awhile and when I got up, I noticed my back was a lot looser. It felt so awesome, I did a little dance. Yes, I'm a dork.
Day 6 (Thursday):
My first full day at work in a week. Let me tell you, it was a long day. I came back to a lot of work to do, of course, so that helped it go by quickly.

  • To promote HIPAA compliance at work, some of the girls and I donned ridiculously ugly animal hats (I was a crab), danced a conga line through the hallways, and passed out pens to the employees who could tell us why HIPAA was important. It was awesomely embarrassing, but we had fun.
  • I was on a quest for a new purse. Sometimes, I just get those ideas in my head. So, I went to TJ Maxx and Marshall's to see if I could score any good deals. I did - it's a really cute Jessica Simpson brown leather purse. So cute.
  • While at TJ Maxx, I chatted with a woman who had a shopping cart overflowing (literally) with purses. She told me she knew she needed to decide, but couldn't figure out which ones she loved best. She told me she'd have to lose at least 3 of them. Oh, big sacrifice. I laughed all the way to my car.
  • Mike wanted Qdoba for dinner. Who am I to argue? Yummy yummy 3-cheese nachos.
Day (Friday):
Finally, the last day! I've been awful at this and am really glad to be done with it. It is just not second nature for me to pick up a camera and take pictures of everything. Particularly because my life is generally two-natured: 1) I'm alone, and completely boring - reading a book or watching tv OR 2) I'm with people constantly (work, family, friends) and these people don't necessarily buy in to my picture taking theories. In fact, most of them won't let me take posed pictures of them, let alone candids. I made it to work again, a full day, woohoo! It was another very busy day.

  • We're wrapping things up with the preparations for the golf benefit. I'm really really really enjoying my new role in the marketing department.
  • I went shopping at Archiver's after work. Yeah, I could have spent all night in there, but I didn't. I've been so inspired with things I've been seeing on blogs recently, and after going to the farmer's market last weekend, I just wanted to create. Granted, I didn't need to buy more things to do that, but there were some things I wanted. I can't wait to try everything out.
  • I headed to Barnes & Noble to kill some more time. I love that place. One of their salespeople gave me a full demo of the new Nook (their version of the Kindle). I've wanted a Kindle since it came out, but haven't brought myself to buy it or ask for it for a gift. After seeing the Nook up close, I definitely want one. It's such an awesome little machine. I told Mike to head to B&N for Christmas :) I also used the gift card Mike's grandma gave me for Christmas (finally) to buy the new novel in the Sookie Stackhouse series. YAY! I love those crazy vamps. (By the way, I started it Friday night when we got home - I finished within 24 hours.)
  • Mike's Uncle Greg & Aunt Joyce surprised us with a visit in the evening. They've never been to our house, so it was nice to have them there and show them around just a little. We had a nice visit with them for sure.
  • Just as they were leaving, Mike's sister and brother-in-law pulled in. We knew they were coming over at some point to talk about the trees we wanted to buy for the little orchard we're all planting together on our farm. We came up with a whole list of plants that we need to hurry up and get ordered. Can't wait to start picking all of our fruits (like, 2 years from now).
  • Molly didn't get eaten by a coyote. I thought she did. I was in full panic mode when I heard coyotes howling, a dog yelping, and Molly was outside. She didn't come when she was called, which is typical, but come on. I was very very very freaked out. Fortunately, she did end up running from the opposite direction of the coyotes and had this look on her face like "What the heck is your problem, Ma? I was playin'." I picked her up, squeezed her, and brought her in the house. She is no longer allowed out after dark.
So, that's that. A week in my life. Boring, right? I'm okay with that. This was the craziest week to do it, because of what was going on with my back, but it's not like I planned it, obviously. I'm hoping to start working with the pictures this week or this weekend, and maybe I'll have an album made in the next week or two. Ha. That never happens, but I'm trying :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Week in the Life: Day 2 & 3

Have I mentioned that I'm terrible at this? I am. I really don't think this project is for me, at this particular point in my life. But, I'm marching on, because we're already on Day 4, so why not? I think it'll just be a much less substantial album than I was thinking.

Day 2: Mike and I used this for a lazy day. It was raining all day, so we weren't able to do anything productive outside, and I couldn't bring myself to to do anything around the house since it was actually mostly clean for a change. Mostly.

  • Law & Order: SVU marathon on. I will watch that show over almost everything else. I love their marathons.
  • My First Home marathon. Mike & I recently found this show and love it. It's about first-time home buyers. Mostly we laugh at them, but it reminds us of a fun and stressful time in our lives 2 summers ago.
  • Breakfast for dinner. Apple cinnamon struessel pancakes. And bacon. Yum-O. Plus, Mike made a huge mess when flipping a monster pancake, which is funny to me.
  • More sitting. I didn't get out of my jammies all day. I love those days.
Day 3: I was getting ready for work, about to walk out the door. Just had to put my rings on and take a picture of that day's outfit. When putting on one of my wedding rings, it slipped and started to go down the drain. I reached to stop it and pulled a muscle in my lower back. It was all over from there. I made it out to the living room floor eventually and txted my boss to let her know I wouldn't be in. Mike called his boss to tell him the same. I proceeded to lay on the floor in tears for the next few hours. It wasn't even remotely fun.

Highlights (I'm struggling - yesterday was awful):
  • Mike took great care of me and let me cry as often as I needed to. He's brilliant and thought of a make-shift heating pad since we can't find the one I brought into the relationship.
  • We had egg salad sammiches for lunch. At 3:30. Because I was finally able to stop crying and fell asleep, so he let me sleep.
  • By dinner time, I was able to walk around on my own without sobbing uncontrollably. Huge accomplishment.
  • Dancing with the Stars semi-finals. Saw some great dances.
I didn't take many pictures yesterday because really...I didn't want to remember yesterday. I was in pain, our internet was down, and my Phoenix Suns lost to the stupid Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Generally just a crappy day. But, those happen in my life, so I should have recorded more.

I'm already doing better today, photo wise. My back still hurts, so I was slow moving this morning. Today is Molly's birthday - she's 2! Happy Burfday, Puppy!! :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Week in the Life: Day 1

I stink at this. I probably didn't take more than 10 pictures yesterday, and we actually had an eventful day.

We started by heading to the farmer's market. And got lost on the way there. So, we drove around for awhile, and then finally found where we were going (to my credit, I've never been to this particular farmer's market before, and I rarely go to that part of town.) I was really impressed with the whole set-up and the variety of vendors there. I loved all the jewelry and local artists. There weren't very many veggies, but I figured that would be the case this early in the season. We ended up finding some awesome ideas for Father's Day for both of our dads (who are terrible to shop for.) So, we'll be headed back next week to purchase them. I also bought a very cute cluster necklace with a pendant that says "Keep Calm and Carry On." Very cute. And then I turned around and found a bread stand. And purchased some bleu cheese bread. Holy yum, batman! Mike hates bleu cheese so this was a purchase purely for me. I was lucky to walk back to the car before I broke into the bread to try it. SOOOO good. I'm getting more next week :)

From there, we went to get the car washed after all the mud and dust from this week's weather. Then we headed to Tractor Supply so Mike could get a couple of things. $90 (and less than 15 minutes) later, we were on our way home. I thought we would take a different way home for a change, so I turned down a country road we've only taken once before. And then I saw the sign that said "Bridge Out: 1 Mile." Super. That's the story of our county (especially our part of the county.) So, we turned around and went our normal way home.

Once we were home, we at leftover Thai food from the night before and then got to work in the yard. I planted flowers while Mike worked on the lawn mower. Mike worked on push mowing later when he couldn't get the rider working properly, and I worked downstairs in my craft studio for the first time in a long time.

We were getting ready to make dinner when Mike got a call from his parents - his dad wanted to come down and help with the lawn mower and then they wanted to go to dinner at the only restaurant/bar in town: The Bar. Yup, it's really called that. So, we flew around the house and cleaned up a little bit, did some dishes, and then they pulled in the driveway. The boys worked, Ma & I chatted, and then we went to dinner. A couple of pitchers of beer later, we headed home, way past our bedtime (10:15...yes, I'm lame.) Before we could settle in though, we had to put away all the mowers (Mike's dad brought their rider down so we could borrow it.) We played with the puppy and then headed to bed.

It was a fun day with lots of work. The highlights:
  • Everything about the farmer's market. I loved it there and can't wait to go back.
  • Mike was in the front lawn mowing, and I was talking to him through the window screen. Molly wanted to play with him, so she tried to jump out the window. She hit the screen and bounced backwards. Too funny. She was not pleased when I handed her through the window to Mike so she could go outside.
  • My father-in-law on the ground fixing the mower and Molly licking his ear.
  • Laughing so hard with Mike while we were cleaning up at night that I couldn't breathe.
Sorry for the boring post with no pictures. I will upload and edit all the weekend pictures today, most likely. We'll see :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Week in the Life Album - Products

I mentioned yesterday that I was sticking with 3 neutral colors and 1 accent color throughout the entire album. I've now committed myself to that :) I'll be using white, black & kraft cardstock all from Papertrey Ink (who just launched an awesome new website yesterday, by the way). The accent color will be a robin's egg blue, from Bazzill:

It looks much less green in person.

Then all I needed was an album & some baseball card style page protectors. These are We R Memory Keepers brand:

My album is actually black leather, but same style as this one.

It's been a really long time since I've scrapbooked in 8.5x11 size...like, since high school. I went through a 12x12 phrase through most of college, and now, I stick to 8x8, when I actually create something. I went with 8.5x11 because most of my paper is that size. I didn't want to buy a bunch of 12x12 cardstock just for one project. So, I'll adjust.

I also found these really awesome stickers from 7 gypsies, which coordinate perfectly with my theme and also happen to have some phrases on them that I think will be perfect on my pages:

Cute right? What I don't use, I'll use on some other project because these stickers are adorable.

So, after coupons and some stuff on sale, my grand total was something like $22. Awesome, right? I know I've spent money on the supplies I already had, and I will spend money to have the pictures printed, but all told, that's an awesome total for a scrapbook project.

I warned Mike this morning that I'd be starting this project first thing tomorrow. I'm going to take my camera to bed with me even :) He whined, of course, because that's what he does, but I'm getting really excited to start photographing. First up on the agenda: farmer's market (my first of the season!) and then a trip to Wal-mart. I'm sure that'll make for some fun stories :)

I'll post pictures each day (hopefully!) at the end of the day or the next morning so you all can sort of see the process.

Happy Friday, y'all!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Week in the Life Album - The Content

I'm so much of a planner that I actually had to sit down and think about what I would photograph to put in my album. If I just went with the flow of things, I would probably end up with a couple of pictures of the dog and whatever we eat for dinner. So, I'm planning ahead.

So, here are the things I want to be sure to take pictures of:
  • Our morning routine (including Molly's routine)
  • Drive to/from work
  • Typical day at work
  • Mike's typical day at work (I'm sending a camera to work with him one day...we'll see how it works)
  • After work tasks, whatever I do to kill time
  • Food preparation
  • Our hobbies
  • Our home
I also plan to save things to include as memorabilia, along with all the photos:
  • Paycheck or stub
  • Receipts
  • Shopping lists or to-do lists (I'm a list maker)
  • Mail or letters (if we get anything worth remembering)
I'm trying to think of this album as something my kids and their kids will look back at someday when they want to know how Mike & I lived before they came along. So, I thought about what I'd like to know about my parents or grandparents back then, and I'll try to include some of the following elements somehow:
  • What were they like when they were first married?
  • When they were planning their families?
  • What did they talk about over dinner?
  • Did they have any nicknames for each other?
  • What did their handwriting look like?
  • What were their favorite meals or snacks?
  • What did they do for fun?
Some of those questions are going to be hard to convey through pictures, so I'll probably do more journaling about them. We'll see how it goes and if I can come up with something more creative.

I'm hoping to go shopping for a few supplies (album, page protectors, maybe some patterned paper) tonight, so I'll probably be showing you the basics of that tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Week in the Life Plans - The Album

I've been attempting to figure out what exactly I'd like to include in my Week in the Life album. I know for me, it has to be as simple as humanly possible. I don't have a ton of time to scrapbook right now, so I have to let the pictures and whatever journaling I get done speak for itself.

I like the ideas Ali came up with for the little journaling cards. I doubt something like that would work for me, but I think I'll keep it in the back of my head. To start out, at least, I plan to keep my sketch book with me (like always) and actually pull it out to write down things that are happening during the day (never happens). That way, I'll have a reminder. Honestly, I'll probably tear out some of the pages and put them in my album. Why reinvent the wheel, right? I may use the concept of journaling cards to keep my thoughts brief, but I'll put them all together as I'm designing the album. I'm entirely too anal about things looking right and matching - which is part of my everyday life.

As far as photos go, I'm leaning toward baseball card style protectors. I think that will help me showcase the most photos without them being too disorganized. I may do one main picture per day or a collage of some sort if there's an overlying "theme" for the day (outdoors work, office stuff, etc.) We'll sort of see how it goes.

For the purpose of minimum supplies and thought, I'm going to stick with 4 basic colors (3 neutrals and a pop of color) - black, white, kraft & robin's egg blue. I'm really into that shade of blue this year, so it works perfectly to include it in this year's album. I tend to have a color that I'm obsessed with each year. Last year, it was pumpkin orange, the year before that it was apple red, and so on.

I really don't do any kind of digital scrapbooking, so I'll be putting everything together with actual paper and photos. I may type some of the journaling up, I may not. Probably depends on how much there is and how I'm feeling about my handwriting that particular day. May also depend on who I plan to journal - I've seen some WITL albums where there is a lengthy journaling paragraph that is an overview of the whole day. I've seen others that are just snippets or short blurbs about particular activities. I think that is something I will decide based on the notes I take each day.

How's that for planning? Tomorrow, I'll share a list of things I hope to capture in photographs or at least write down so that we have a record of them for our life right now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Week In the Life

Do you follow Ali Edwards's blog? If so, you've certainly seen her Week in the Life projects. If you haven't, go to her collection of Week in the Life posts.

I've followed Ali's blog for a long time - probably since she first started designing digital albums for Shutterfly. I immediately went out on bought her book about scrapbooking everyday life, and loved her style. It's nothing like what I do when I scrapbook, but that's why I love it. See, Ali actually scrapbooks. She finishes albums. She creates layouts. I, on the other hand, do not. I have grand ideas, layout concepts, thousands (literally) of pictures, and haven't actually completed a layout in at least two years. Yeah, I'm awesome like that.

I've been following Ali's progress with her Week in the Life book for 2010 and I think I'm finally inspired enough to do something about it. If you look at her posts from yesterday and today, you will see a ton of great examples from her readers about their albums. So...all of that has actually inspired me to pick up a camera and get to work. On Saturday. :)

I do want to start somewhere that isn't the middle of the week. I realize calendar weeks start on Sundays, and to me, it feels like the week starts on Monday, but I feel like starting this project on Saturday. So there.

I have a feeling it's going to take me some time to get used to snapping so many pictures. It will have to be a conscious effort to actually take pictures of the things we do in a week. And force myself to take pictures of things that I think are mundane and boring. I need that weekend time to adjust. Plus, I feel like most of my life is lived on the weekends, when I'm not at work and I actually get to spend time doing what I love...whether it's hanging out with Mike, working in the garden, playing with Molly, being creative, laying around doing nothing...whatever :)

So, I've posted it on the blog. Hold me accountable. I'll probably write posts in the next couple of days about what my plan is, so I know where I'm headed with this project. Thus, my greenishness series will be a little more spread out, I fear. But, I should also have some photos of my every day greenishness to post, so maybe it's a good thing.

Anyone else want to join me in this adventure?? C'mon, I know you do!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Attempts at Greenishness: Gardening

I realize "greenishness" isn't a word. That won't stop me from using it. I like it. I may try to use it several times throughout this post.
 I promised in an earlier post that I would write a little about our attempts to be green on the farm, and some of the unavoidable actions we take that aren't even remotely greenish. So, here is part two. I was planning on making it once post, but the thing is...it's a lot of explanation because of our lifestyle. So, I'll focus on one thing at at time and make this topic a series of posts. You can read the first post on carpooling here.

A lot of the things I do that are green are things I've done for a long time, not because it was trendy to be green, but because I really believe they are good choices for my lifestyle (now our lifestyle.) A lot of our green choices are also because it will save us a tremendous amount of money.


First off, it's much healthier than buying produce from who knows where. We live an area where stores could sell entirely local produce (and some do, I will say). But there are others that are getting their produce from who know where with who knows what on it. Not a fan. We also live an area where fresh produce cannot be grown here year-round. So, we're either getting something from far away that is not remotely fresh, or we're getting something that's been processed and has all sorts of preservatives. Also, not a fan. By gardening, we're supporting local produce (I look pretty carefully for local plants). We're controlling what we put on our fruits and veggies. We know how they were grown, how they were picked, and how we preserve them. I can and freeze a lot during the summer. The ultimate goal is to be entirely self-sufficient year round when it comes to fruits and vegetables. We're not there yet, having only lived in our house for one summer, but we're well on our way.

We're saving a lot of money by gardening on our own as well. We grocery shop about once a month. We spend about $150 when we go to the store, and supplement throughout the month for parishable things - milk, eggs and some produce. When looking at my $150 grocery bill, I realized that at least $50 of that was produce. Some months, it's all the way up to $75 of the bill (depending on what I'm making for dinners, if we have any holidays or family dinners coming, etc.) I could spend one month's $75 fresh produce budget on plants & seeds, and the packaging products to preserve them and be set for the rest of the year. So, that's the goal.
We own a foodsaver (well, actually 2 - just like the one above) and have a fair stash of bags leftover from each year's supply for butchering meat. I won't use anything but foodsaver brand bags for freezing, even though they're more expensive. It's worth it me to spend a little more at the begging rather than throwing away all the veggies and fruits I've taken the time to preserve properly. I will occassionally use a ziplock bag to freeze something I'm sure I can get all the air out of, but it isn't often. Foodsaver bags are resealable, if you cut off the first seal. We will definitely cut our bags a little bigger if we know it's something we want to reseal. That way, we're not wasting as many bags for smaller portions. I also highly recommend using the rolls of bags versus the pre-cut bags. I'm not sure what the cost difference is (if there is one), but in the long-run, there's less waste involved, which means less money spent. I can custom cut the bag to whatever it is I'm trying to preserve, rather than having to find a bag that's big enough and possibly wasting a lot of plastic by cutting it down. The only time we buy pre-cut bags is for items we know will fit in there - mainly when we butcher. Even then, I still cut and pre-seal a lot of bags to custom sizes.

Jars for canning (and the rims) can be used over and over again as long as they don't get cracked or broken, and the rims aren't bent and will still seal properly. The only thing you have to replace are the seals themselves. And they're very reasonably priced, and universally sized (wide or small mouth)...I stick with wide mouthed so I don't have to have two kinds of seals on hand. I also sometimes use plastic jars that are specifically designed for freezing. Again, completely reusable, and much more durable and longer lasting than plastic bags (though, I don't imagine they last forever.) So far, I've only used these for different salsas, but I'm sure they have a ton of uses (marinades, drippings for gravy, fruit purees, etc.)

We do a little recycling in the areas of gardening, too. When we mow, the grass clippings are used as sort of a mulch between rows in the garden. It helps keep the weeds in check. (We never get rid of our grass clippings - the majority of them go to feed the cows.) We use milk cartons as sort of incubators for small plants when they are first planted - helps keep them from getting wind blown and keeps heat in from the sunlight.

Sort of on the same note as gardening - when we can't grow produce, we try to buy it from farmer's markets. Our local farmer's markets are amazing in both Omaha & Lincoln. I'm so excited to go to my first one of the season next weekend (they've been open for 2 weeks now, but our weekends have been crazy so far in May). I very strongly support buying from local farmers, so there isn't another option as far as I'm concerned. We'll adjust our meals to whatever produce we have available from the garden or from the farmer's market. If I really need something specific, I will, like I said above, shop at a store that sells local produce. There's also green benefits to buying local - less transportation distance equals less of a carbon footprint.

Next up, Part 3 in the series: Laundry & Dishes

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I have to say that I dread Mother's Day. I really do. I know that the sentiment behind it is awesome, and I really do think mothers should be pampered. I'm happy for all my friends and family who are mothers and I try to do my best to extend that happiness toward them on their day. And, this is my first year with an official mother-in-law (though, I feel like I've been in her family from day one, which happened 2 years ago). So, there are lots of people to celebrate.

And yet, here I sit, struggling not to cry. I miss my mom. I can't say that enough, because it will never stop being true. I want one more Mother's Day with the best person I could possibly imagine. There is a piece of me missing now that she's gone and nothing will ever replace that. I've basically learned to live with the empty feeling, but on days like today, it's about all I can feel.

I often think about our future kids, and hope that Mother's Day will be a happy day for me once we have them. I'm sure it will be a mix of emotions, but I hope it's not always ruined. I don't want that, and I know my mom wouldn't want that.

And that's about all I can write without breaking down. Happy Mother's Day to all the beautiful, wonderful mothers out there! Know that you are cherished and appreciated and so completely necessary in the lives of your children, no matter how old they are.

And to my mom, Happy Mother's Day, Mommy! I don't have words to tell you how much I love you and how important you are in my life. Always.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Attempts at Greenishness: Carpooling

I realize "greenishness" isn't a word. That won't stop me from using it. I like it. I may try to use it several times throughout this post.

I promised in an earlier post that I would write a little about our attempts to be green on the farm, and some of the unavoidable actions we take that aren't even remotely greenish. So, here is part one. I was planning on making it once post, but the thing is...it's a lot of explanation because of our lifestyle. So, I'll focus on one thing at at time and make this topic a series of posts.

A lot of the things I do that are green are things I've done for a long time, not because it was trendy to be green, but because I really believe they are good choices for my lifestyle (now our lifestyle.) A lot of our green choices are also because it will save us a tremendous amount of money. 

We drive about 70 miles one way (well, Mike would be a little less on his own since he works about 10 miles closer to home than I do). We decided it would probably be good for both the environment and our fuel budget to carpool whenever possible. When I was working part-time, we never missed a day of carpooling unless there was something major. Now that I'm back to full time, our goal is to keep it at least 3 days a week of carpooling, the 4th if I'm up to it. This week, we rock and have made it all 4 days. So, what do we save?

My Ford Escape averages about 23 mpg, and Mike's Chevy Cavalier averages around 32. We'll go with his car, since we mostly drive the Escape when we carpool. By him not driving to work separately, we're not using 4 gallons of fuel per day. The price of fuel near us right now is about $2.85/gallon. That's $11.40 saved per day, $45.60/week, and a whopping $2371.20/year. Can you believe that? I couldn't when we first started doing it. Now, the green part...we're saving 16 gallons of fuel per week or 832 gallons per year.

Also - since I drive 140 mile per day, I should be having my oil changed about every 21 working days, which for us is once a month. Since it's mostly highway miles, we usually try to stretch it to 5000 miles between changes, which ups it to 35 days between oil changes..or 6 weeks of working. Oil changes cost $30ish each time (when we have someone else do them - Mike does them when he has time, and obviously, the cost drops significantly.) 9 oil changes a year per car driving to work = $360. The car's oil does need to be changed about 4 times a year, but we're still saving 5 oil changes (or $150) per year by not driving both cars daily. Not to mention the quarts of oil that are saved...I can't remember off the top of my head how many quarts of oil it takes to change the car's oil, but we'll go on the low end and say 4 per change. That's at least 16 quarts of oil that are not being used per year by the Vogt clan.

We're making our vehicles last a lot longer too, by not driving both of them 140 miles per day...the wear and tear is much, much less. The amount of air pollution we produce is cut by half-ish (I'm not knowledgeable in the ways of emissions, but I assume the Escape produces more than the Cavalier, so I say half-ish).

The other thing that's particular to our situation relates to time, but is also green. Here's the story. Mike works 10.5-hour days, as I've said. I work 8.5-hour days. On days when I don't work late (which is none this week), I have 2.5 hours to kill (I drop Mike off at work before I go in at 7:30, so he kills 30 minutes in the morning..that's why I have to kill an extra 30 in the evening.) Anyway, I use the time I have to run whatever errands we have to for the week...grocery shopping, trips to Target, stopping at the bank, visiting my family, etc. We don't have any of those things where I live, but obviously do in Omaha. I take the time that I'm already there to do them, and save myself the trip into Lincoln on the weekends (at least 25 miles each way, depending on where we're going.) Even assuming that I could do all of those errands on one trip, in one shopping center in Lincoln (except visiting my family), we're saving another 50+ miles a week of driving. When I take a trip to visit my family, it's only 13 miles max from my work. When I drive from home on the weekends, it's 74 miles. So, every time I can visit them from work instead of home, I'm saving 61 miles each way or 122 miles round-trip.

I've obviously thought a lot about this, both in terms of our impact to the environment living so far from where we work and driving an SUV, and in terms of the effects on our budget. That's what happens when you spend 2+ hours a day in a car going to & from work.

I know that's a lot of explaining, but carpooling in our case is a big one...thanks for getting through that, if you did. If not, I don't blame you. Though, you probably won't have read that I don't blame you. Eh.

Like I said, this is part 1 in the series. Next up: Gardening

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Goings On & Garden Beginnings

I'm learning to adjust to working full time again. I know some of you are reading this and saying, "Oh, boo hoo. Welcome to our lives." I know, I know. I've been working full time since I was 21, and moving to part-time hours was definitely not my choice. That being said, I was working 3 days a week for 4 months...I sort of got into a rhythm. I like having days to sleep in. It means I can work later into the evening, which is a huge blessing when you don't get home until 8pm.

Anyway, this is my first week of full-time hours in a long time. Like I said, it's an adjustment. The cool thing is that I love being at work right now. My new role is so interesting and challenging. I love it. It's nothing I haven't worked on before, but it's so nice to be able to do something new for this particular organization.

We've still been trying to carpool. Someday, I need to write a post our efforts toward being green and the special challenges we face living in the middle of nowhere. Even though it means longer days, I'm thankful that we've managed to do it all week. It means 2 extra hours of time I get to spend with my husband.

Mike works 4, 10-hour days, so he has Wednesdays off to do things around the farm. Which means that I'm rushing home on Wednesday to spend an entire evening with him. Seriously, it's the small things that make me ridiculously happy. 5 hours at home with my husband instead of the 1 I usually get in the evening = pure bliss.

I got home relatively early last night, about 6pm (later than I wanted by an hour, but still really early compared to other days). We went right to work planting the garden. Our garden is pretty big, so we have to work on it in stages. Mike was able to till about half of it last night so I could get my tomatoes, peppers and brussel sprouts in the ground. We planted several kinds of everything, but I can't remember exact numbers this morning. I plan to take some pictures tonight, so I'll count then. I would guess we planted about 15 tomatoes, 8 cherry tomatoes, 7 bell peppers, 8 or so jalapenos, 12 brussel sprouts, and one cabbage plant. Woof.

Seeing it in print like that makes it seem excessive. Trust me, it's not. I will also be writing a post shortly on our aspirations of being mostly self-sufficient in the ways of food. We haven't planted any seeds yet, so I imagine that will be next week's project, after Mike gets the other half of the garden tilled. We also have 10 strawberry plants, a raspberry bush, and some grapes we need to get into the ground.

After ALL that is done, I can finally focus on buying some more plants for my make-shift herb garden, and then for my flower gardens. Here's hoping my thumb isn't too brown this year.

Pictures of my early garden to come :)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Grampa, Doggies & Heaven

I've talked before about my faith when my mom died and how that was what got me through everything - knowing that my mom was in Heaven and that God had bigger plans for her.

What I haven't talked about yet was my feelings about my dad when mom passed away. So, a little background on that, before I write the post:

My dad was raised in a non-denominational Christian church. My grandparents (his parents) are very faithful. Religion is a part of their everyday life, but not in an obvious way. They say prayers, they talk about God & their church family, they often took my brother and me to church with them on weekends. But, for my dad, it was never part of his public life. I have no idea what was going on in his head most of the time while we were growing up (that's a whole other story), but I know he adamently refused to come to church with us on the weekends. He rarely came even on holidays. I actually only remember my dad in our church a couple of times (Mom, my brother & I were all Catholic) - first communion, confirmation and maybe a couple of family weddings. God & religion were just never part of his life, which lead me to believe he was seriously questioning his faith or that he wasn't a Christian.

So, when my mom died, one of my biggest fears was that my dad would die, and I wouldn't have the comfort I did with my mom. Would he end up in Heaven? I had no idea. Later, as my faith strengthened, I decided that yes, he would go to Heaven (for reasons I won't go into here - it's a personal belief not at all rooted in organized religion.)

Okay, there's your background. Here's the sweet story.

Last night, we went to dinner to celebrate Dad's birthday. Mike, my brother, Dad (of course), my nephew Michael (who is 4) & I were all there. At the end of the dinner, my dad was asking Michael questions and out of nowhere, Michael said "Grampa, can I go to your house and play with your doggies?"

My dad told him no, not that night, but the next time he came over they would be sure to play with the dogs. He asked Michael if he remembered how many dogs he had. Michael said, "3 Grampa. Karma, Penny and Snickers."

My dad teared up. He and I recently went to put Snickers down after almost 15 years of the best puppy companionship our family could imagine. It was a really awful day for both of us (Dad & I both have HUGE hearts when it comes to animals, especially our own.)

Now, my dad is not an emotional guy. At all. We laugh about everything and scream about a few things, but I've really only seen him cry openly twice. So, he choked back the tears and he told Michael, "No, buddy. Only two doggies now. Snickers went to be with God in Heaven. God must have needed a puppy to play with."

Oh, my gravy. It took everything I had not to cry. 1. What a sweet answer to give to Michael. He was perfectly fine with it by the way - his response was "Oh, okay Grampa," and went back to playing with his cars. 2. My dad used the same words to Michael that I often use about my mom - God needed both of them. I've never told my dad that I feel that way. 3. My dad does have faith in God and believes in Heaven.

My heart filled up with joy at that. My faith was confirmed. Such a happy & comforting feeling. Maybe the bigger purpose in Snicker's death - what God needed him for - was partly to give me comfort about my dad's futurue. Who knows.

It was such a sweet moment between my dad and my nephew. I'm really glad I was able to see it. When my mom died, one of the first things my dad said was "Well, I guess I'm going to have to be a better grandpa. I'm all Michael has now."

He definitely stepped it up last night :)

Monday, May 03, 2010

Living Room Makeover (In Progress)

We spend more time in the living room than anywhere else. Considering on days we work, we don't get home until almost 8pm (and go to bed at 9:30, at the latest), we really appreciate those few minutes we get to relax on the couch, watch tv, play games, and cuddle with Molly.

Mike & I wanted to invest some time and money into the room to really make it more cozy. We also wanted to add more seating to the room...when we have people over, we tend to hang out in the dining room eating, but it would be nice to actually relax in the living room after the meal is over. Hopefully, our family will grow someday and it would also be nice to have a place for the kids to sit.

So, here are the before pictures of the living room. I have to say, these are very candid, real pictures. I didn't bother to dust the end table before I took it, or even vacuum up the package of sunflower seeds that Molly spilled on the rug. She's awesome like that. So...take the befores with a grain of salt :)
This view is looking in from the dining room. You can't see it in the picture, but I have an antique wooden rocking chair on the left side of the couch as well.
This is the view from the far wall in the living room.
And this is the view of the tv which is directly across the room from the couch. The ottoman is normally in the middle of the rug for our feet, but it's also nice to be able to move it for extra seating.

Here's the makeover in progress:

New couch. It was delivered on Thursday, and we love it. This isn't exactly the placement we planned for everything, but it's definitely working. We should learn to take a tape measure to the furniture store.

This is where the chair & a half ended up. I love the ottoman like that, it extends the length of the chair. My biggest complaint about this chair is that the seat is too shallow, so it's nice to be able to fit on the seat AND put my legs up. Maybe we'll actually sit in this chair occassionally.

This is the corner that's diagonal from the chair & a half. Haven't actually put anything back on the shelves yet because I want to reconsider what's on there and how it's placed.

And finally, the corner diagonal from the couch. This is the rocker I was talking about in the before pictures. (I used the same picture in yesterday's post - sorry about the repetition)

So, I haven't decorated yet. The mirror over the tv is coming down because 1) it's not centered over the tv and it's driving me nuts and 2) I'm probably going to put it in a different room. I need to figure out what will be on the walls over the chair. I've ordered float wrap prints of our wedding pictures for the walls over the couch. That collage frame is coming down for sure. I'm probably going to do a collage of some of those pictures again, but in individual frames. We'll see. Oh, and I need lamps. Lots of lamps.

There's obviously a lot to do in terms of decor, so it will take some time. I do like having a warm, cozy blank canvas to start with though. Looking forward to exploring flea markets, yard sales & antique stores this summer to find things that will fill the space and make us love being in there even more. I'll post pictures as I add decor, and final pictures when it's completely done.

I'm linking up (for the first time) to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.

If you haven't visited this amazing blog yet, do it today. Do it now :)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Weekend Decor Projects

I actually did something sorta creative yesterday. Yay me. :)

Both things ended up in this corner of the living room. That wasn't planned. I actually planned to put them in two different places. (It's the flowers & bird pillow, by the way.)

Here's a close-up of the bird pillow. I probably should have stuffed it fuller. I'll do that on my next one. The words behind the bird (if you can see them) are "this day I will marry my friend, the one I live for, laugh with, love" repeating for a block of text.

We had a really terrible storm the other night and it knocked out most of our flowers. And now the lilacs are on the way out as well, so I wanted to make sure to bring what I could in the house. I wish I could attach smell to a blog because the living room smells amazing right now.

The crate is a wine crate that I bought a few years back to use as decor at my cousin's bridal shower (it was wine themed). I haven't really found a place to put it, but I'm so glad it works for this. It had been living in the bar, but we have more of a beer and poker bar than a wine and conversation bar. I wanted a really big container to make a big statement with the lilacs, and this accomplished it. I wonder if I'll be able to fill it with peonies later in the summer.

Something to look forward to :)  

Saturday, May 01, 2010

New Direction

I guess it's true that things happen when you least expect them.

I think I've mentioned before that I work in the human resources department for a long-term care & assisted living facility. I've been with thie organization for about 2.5 years now (which is a long time for me to stick around anywhere). In December, I was notified that due to budget constraints, my hours would be cut from 40 to 24 in 2010. So, I've been working part-time hours for the last 4 months.

Last week, I was offered a temporary role, in addition to my responsibilities in HR. I will be the Marketing & Fundraising Coordinator 20 hours a week and reducing my HR hours to 20 per week. I'm FINALLY full-time again! (If only for now.)

I've never officially had a job doing marketing or fundraising. My education is in HR, but my previous experience is definitely more geared in the direction of marketing & recruitment. I have, however, always been a part of the fundraising efforts for every organization I've worked for (I've only worked for non-profits before). And recruiting, no matter what the goal, is all about marketing. What I'm trying to say is that I'm really excited about going in this direction again.

My two big tasks during this next couple of months will be planning and hosting a charity golf tournament, and designing and implementing a website. Two very big tasks that I can't wait to take on. I've helped develop a website in the past, though not to this level. I have a little bit of computer geek in me, so I'm excited to learn more. I've planned 2 golf tournaments in the past, and worked on a 3rd, so I'm really excited to get my hands on another one. I think it's going to be a great success! :)

I never talk this much about work, so I guess I'm pretty excited. Which is a great feeling, going into a new role.

PS: If you know anyone in the Omaha area who loves to golf and would want to support a fantastic non-profit cause, let me know. We'd love to have them golf with us!