Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas!

First, I want to wish my friend Christine Berg a Happy birthday! (I know I'm a day late at this point, but it's better than never, right?) HBGF!!

Now I would like to recap the events of our holidays so far:

On Tuesday we left Charlotte for Richmond to spend the night with Kate and Rob, to visit and do gift exchange. They were quite generous this year (thanks you two!) and gave me snow shoe clip-ons, "Squeaky Green" the book by the method guys (which I have already finished and am sufficiently freaked out by my toiletries bag), a bag of sample products from Occitane (one of my faves!), and a vacuum sealer with bags! Jim got Seasons 1-3 of Arrested Development, a Simpsons lamp for his desk, and a watch! On Wednesday we left in the early afternoon for Fredericksburg.

We got to my house and just hung out most of the time, nothing too fancy. Always yummy food there too! Thursday early afternoon, Mom and I have been prepping and cooking food, Ryan and Melysa arrive with cute Pharley. We open presents--another fantastic haul for us! I am sure I will leave things out, but here is a highlights list. Megan: clothes steamer, beautiful rug, antique wedding box, UVA PJs/shirts/sweatshirts, ornaments from my dad, a little purse that was my mom's, SOCKS out the wazoo!, take-out menu box...I can't remember anything else now, but there was lots!

Jim got: Wii Fit, 2nd guitar for Rockband, watch with a jump drive attached, an 8-bit avatar created by Ryan, socks and tie, Ali G DVDs, a wall clock...I can't remember other things now!

After a meal that could feed 80, and I was stuffed to the gills, we visited with Marta and her parents! I always love catching up with them. Marta, as everyone knows is one of my best, very dear friends, who lives far far away in Budapest. So I love seeing her when I can. And her parents are going to be missionaries in January in Indonesia, so it was good to see them before they left!

Friday we left for Iowa to visit Jim's family! We got the non-stop flight from DC to Des Moines, which I highly recommend! Smooth sailing the whole way, and no flights to miss in the bad weather. We arrived, went for a tasty dinner at Nick's, which is one of our fave restaurants here, and then came home and opened 2 presents. I opened PJs (which I am wearing right now!) and a grey sweater, which is exactly what I wanted. Jim opened CDs, and I don't remember the titles.

Then the next morning, we got up and opened the rest of the presents. Megan got a nicer grey sweater for work, a brown wallet, Julia Child cookbook, Tales of Beedle the Bard, body cream of my perfume, scarf, Burt's Bees products, reusable bag for my purse, office supplies, prep bowls for the kitchen, good vanilla extract, soaps, a Pinocchio ornament, and a bunch of other goodies that I can't remember now (I know it seems strange that I can't remember things that happened less than 24 hours ago, but my short-term memory has turned to complete mush lately. I can only remember things that are work-related in the short-term, and even then I still write it down.)

Jim got a butt-load of CDs, a new computer bag, which he needed so badly I could weep over it, iLife, a guitar book (he wants to learn the basics), and other things that of course, I can't remember!

A wonderful breakfast followed, and because there was a tow-ban in Des Moines (which literally means that if you venture out on the roads that you've been told are so terrible, we will not tow you if you end up in a ditch. We will come get you, but we will leave your car in the ditch until Spring thaw), we stayed around the house and ate and watched TV. It was glorious!

I think today we will venture out into Des Moines, since the ice is supposed to melt a bit. At least the windows aren't iced over anymore--that's a good sign!

Hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas, and enjoy a wonderful New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

7 Things People Don't Know About Me

This was passed on from my husband, so I guess I should do it, right? Wifely duties...
This is difficult for me, since I am chatty, and tell pretty much everybody everything.

1. Until this year, I have never lived outside of Virginia.
2. I originally went to college to be an architect.
3. I was born 2 weeks late.
4. My favorite number is 19.
5. I love to clean.
6. My favorite Christmas song is "Oh Holy Night". It literally brings me to tears every time I listen to it. Can you think of the last time that your soul felt its worth?
7. I am currently obsessed with birds.

So I don't want to call anyone out specifically, but if you read my blog, and have a blog and want to reveal your inner secrets, post a comment with a link to your blog! Happy Holidays!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Craft Orgy

This has been a fun weekend for me. Jim said that I was having a craft orgy, and I think he's on to something. I've gotten a lot done--most of it in the World of Craft (not to be confused with World of Warcraft, which I hate. That's right, I said it.) I can't say too much about what I've been up to (Santa's elves never craft and tell) but I think some people will be happy!

One word of advice for Santa: If you're going to wrap all of you presents in white craft paper, be prepared that gift recipients do not actually have to unwrap the goods to see what they've gotten. That's right, white craft paper is totally see-through. Boo on white craft paper. I've come up with a few "creative solutions", but I am still mad at white craft paper.

Another great week at church--about the Winter Grace. It was hard to focus on the topic, however, since it was approximately 65 outside today. I walked home from the mall, and fell totally in love with the day. I even convinced Jim that he should also go on a walk later.

Then I donated platelets, totally sans probleme. And I got a Tshirt AND an apron!! Total score!

Now to clean the house a bit. We're having friends over for dinner tomorrow, and I don't want to get stuck leaving everything until tomorrow. TTYL!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mama V!!

Happy birthday to my wonderful mother-in-law!!! I lucked out majorly with my in-laws, and as the head of the crew, Jane is extra awesome!!

Hope you two enjoy a nice night!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Happy Birthday to my friend Sarah! I hope Maddie and Andy make you feel extra special today--and everyday!

While I'm here, I'll report that we had a great Thanksgiving weekend in Fredericksburg and DC. Delicious food, quality family time, and safe travels for all--what more could a girl ask for?

We have so much to be thankful for this year, I don't even know where to start. I'll post a short list soon.

I hope that everyone reading this feels that they also have a lot to be thankful for--a great blog to read should top the list, right?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Where have I been?

So I looked at the calendar today, and somehow it's almost December. I guess I really could've looked at the Christmas tree in my living room to figure this out as well, but there's nothing like a calendar to deliver sobering reality.

So, what have I been up to this past month, you ask? Why have I abandoned all of my loyal readers?

Well, here's the list:

1. Not much.
2. Working. I have almost completely moved up to full-time at work. I still enjoy it, and feel like I really contribute to the success of our office.
3. Election
4. Greg visiting. We had fun--he had done a LOT of campaigning for Obama, so it was good that a) he was able to celebrate the victory in VA and nationwide. and 2) he was able to escape DC craziness and come to Charlotte to see where I live now! (It was also good because Jim was out of town for most of the week, and I hate staying home alone--I'm such a scaredy cat).
5. Baby shower for Mike and Courtney Barrett in Fredericksburg. We stayed with my family, and it was good to visit with them, even though it was short. Also very wonderful to see all of the Fburg peeps that were there. I love being at an age where I have just as much fun with parents (mine, Jim's, and friends') as I do with my friends. That is going to be one cute smart wonderful baby! Stopped in to visit with Kate and Rob on the way home, which again, is always fun!
6. Dinners with friends around town.
7. Cute haircut
8. Put up the christmas tree, and made my first batch of christmas cookies. Have to brush up on my decorating skills for this year!
9. Small art projects--see pictures below
10. Loving on my kitties and my Jim
11. Going to church

Those are the big things. Now, let me entertain you with pictures!









These are my recent art projects: stockings for the cats and a felt silhouette of a bird.



Sunday, November 9, 2008

Post: Election

I realize that I haven't blogged yet about the election, which I suppose is surprising since I posted several political posts during the election, and I clearly have opinions about politics. It has been very hard for me, however, to express exactly how I feel about the results of this election. Obviously I am ecstatic, but it's so much more than that. Then today in church, it all hit me at once during a song that I have sung a million times in my short lifetime.

This Land is Your Land

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me

...

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.


I have sung this song many times as a child (and even a few times as an adult), and it never occurred to me that there are some people who may have never felt a connection to this song, who have never felt that this truly was their land. Now, I feel like there is a chance, there is HOPE that even if they don't now feel that this is their land, one day it may be possible. The emotion and the hope and the possibility that were palpable in our sanctuary today rushed over me as I clapped and sang and swayed, and I cried.

Yes, we can continue the efforts of generations before us, and strive for equality. Yes, we can make every voice be heard. Yes, we can make a difference in this world.

Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. --Martin Luther King, Jr. August 16th, 1967

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What I'm Reading

Book:
A Boy Named Shel by Lisa Rogak

A biography of beloved poet and cartoonist Shel Silverstein. It's not very good. I feel like it's very much like my 6th grade research paper on Elvis Presley. I didn't feel like doing a lot of reserach and putting in all the footnotes and such, so I made everything anecdotal in nature, and just used what I knew of him (I even mentioned Cheap Trick's remake of Hound Dog--SUCH a child of the 80s)! I got an 87 on the paper, and that's what I would give this book so far.

Magazines:

Real Simple
In Style
Ready Made
Domino
Food & Wine
Charlotte Magazine (and Charlotte Home and Garden)
Vegetarian Times (it was a guilt purchase from an underachiever who came to our door.)

Blogs:
A lot of friends' blogs that I will mention if I still feel like typing.

http://www.sorryimissedyourparty.com/

daucus carota...all things inspiring

C Jane Run along with

Nie Nie Dialogues

Bricks and Stone Gossip

It's Lovely! I'll Take It!

Ikea Hacker

Other Websites I frequently check:

Kirtsy

Etsy.com and then I search for whatever I'm in the mood for.

CNN

Hungry Girl

Charlotte Craigslist

Friends' Blogs

Joanna friend from my college years and beyond, teaching English in Budapest.

Elizabeth (Ib) My wonderful sister! If you want to know the hottest (good) music, here's your place (no pressure, Ib!)

Ryan My brotha! He doesn't blog, but he does update his gallery quite often with his new work. Check it out!

Dawn My cousin who reviews girly stuff!

Sarah friend from college and beyond chronicling the daily wonders of her beautiful baby Maddie.

Beth friend from college who happens to be Sarah's sister (and she just announced that she's going to have a baby in May!)

Kate One of my very best friends in the world (any two who can survive La Maison Francaise and live to tell about SHOULD be best friends!)! Glad the blog is up and running now!!

Jim Does he need an introduction?

Jeremy friend. If you're like me, you won't understand most of these last two blogs mentioned. Computer Geeks, UNITE!

Tasha friend and Potter extraordinaire! (also Jeremy's wife!)

Melissa Tasha's sister and Foodie

Melissa and Glenn College friends (and an Old Navy vet) who recently had a baby!

I guess most of these are in my Blog List off to the side ---> but now you know who these wonderful people are to me!

Oddly enough, I've been trying to spend less time on the computer lately, but it seems to be a failed attempt for the most part.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The King and I

Well, even though our Halloween weekend was kind of a bust, I still had a good time getting dressed up and making Halloween treats. Most of them were a repeat from Kate's birthday party last year, but I added a new one as well. The pumpkin carving was of course my favorite part, and they turned out great! And, of course, we have yummy seeds to snack on now!!

Jim was of course Elvis (if you had a white custom jumpsuit hanging in the closet, wouldn't you wear it?), and I went as Priscilla. Any chance to buy white platform Mary Janes, is one I cannot pass up (they'll probably stay in the closet until next year--not exactly office-appropriate!)

Here are some pictures--most are self-explanatory.



















This is Mispies 2.0 hiding in our Entertainment center. Too cute!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Recycling Tip #726

As I have mentioned before, I am always looking for ways to reduce our waste and save money. I found another genius idea yesterday, as i was cleaning up the kitchen.

Every week I buy brussel sprouts at the grocery store, and they look like this:



They come in a little mesh bag that is closed on one end, and open on the other. The other day I was looking at this, and thought that I could use it as a colander for washing veggies, etc. Then, I had an even better idea, which was to use it to scrub and rinse potatoes, like this:





Because it is a mesh bag, it is abrasive, and does an extra good job of scrubbing and getting all the dirt off.

This week I will also be turning a tin can into a pencil cup for my desk with the help of a little wrapping paper!

Kindred Spirits

Jim was out of town this weekend, so it gave me the chance to act like a single girl again--meaning I mostly sat around missing him. Yesterday I went to work, tried to donate platelets (iron was too low), went to BJs (one of my favorite places to shop), made chocolate chip and cranberry cookies, and then went to our Sarah and Morri's house to hang out and have dinner. I had a great time--Morri's daughter Hattie was visiting, so it was fun to meet and play with her.

Today I mostly hung around the house, watching TV, surfing the web, eating, missing Jim.

While I was surfing the web, I stumbled across this blog (http://blog.cjanerun.com/) that has been repurposed to chronicle the recovery of a young couple who was in a private plane crash in August of this year. I was instantly enamored with them, and then went to her blog to hear her words and get a better sense of who she and her husband are. (http://nieniedialogues.blogspot.com/) I sat here reading about their love and how much in love she is with her husband, and her children, and felt like my words and thoughts had been stolen right out of my head. She also has a great sense of style and is talented in many capacities. It's hard to imagine that this vibrant spirit so alive in her posts, is now lying in a bed in a burn trauma center in Arizona.

I haven't read too much of it yet, but here is one of my favorite posts so far:


"When I met Christian at my father’s office in Provo, he walked in the office with baggy cargo pants and long hair. As time went on, and we got to know each other he showed me pictures of his recent trip to his ranch in New Mexico, where he turns into Wyatt Earp for the week and catches rattlesnakes with his bare hands.

His cowboy character is quite charming really. One late summer evening we were together and he jumped on his horse “doll” bareback and told me to run and he would grab my hand and pull me up (like they do in the movies, ya know- Julia Ormond in First Knight with the handsome “Lancelot” Richard Gere) so I did. Then off we rode into the sunset. That was dreamy and for him, it was effortless.

Since we bought our aged, musty dwelling here in New Jersey, his hands have been hard at work preparing and doing all the tasks necessary to fix it up and make it fit for human habitation.
Last week while working on the finishing touches (after a year) in the girls bedroom, he asked me to assist him while he measured and sawed a piece of molding. I looked at him as he secured his safety goggles to his brown eyes. A wave of love and I must admit lust swept over me and I watched him. He had sweat trickling down his forehead and back from summer’s last bout with humidity (we hope). Then he nail gunned it to the wall.

“How does that look darling?” he asked me

“Oh great, looks wonderful. I am so proud of you,” I say with a little slap on the toosh.
Looking around 33 Harvey Circle, every corner there is something he has carefully constructed with his bare hands. I have owned three homes with this man and never once have we had to call a “fix-it” guy to install, repair, and mount anything. He can do everything in the house from the pluming to the painting, tile to the trim.
After college Christian was offered the best job in this major at BYU. It was no surprise to me of course he loves what he does. He is good at it. He is great at it, in fact!


Now Jim doesn't wrangle snakes or swoop me onto horses, but he does kiss me on stairs and surprise me with the symphony. He downloads movies that I want to watch, and lets me work part-time without ever complaining. He makes my coffee in the morning (even though he doesn't drink it) and cleans the cat boxes.

I truly believe that he is my soulmate. I am constantly amazed by him and the love that I have for him, and how it is constantly growing and changing. With each challenge presented to us, I always feel like we are a team, and that we are looking out for each other.

It's so silly how much I miss him when he goes out of town, and it's never more than 3 days or so. I do feel quite a bit safer when he's around, but I've always had home safety issues, so I guess I'm just prone to worrying (wonder where I get that, mom?). But I do miss him. I try to fill my time by cleaning or baking, so that things are nice for him when he gets home.

Well, I should be off to bed. Church tomorrow morning, then cleaning and baking until Jim gets home! Woohoo!!

Stephanie & Christian Nielson:



Megan & Jim Van Fleet:



This is one of my favorite pictures of Jim taken at the beach a few years ago:


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Aw Shucks, This place kinda sucks!

I am obsessed with pumpkins, and look forward to Halloween like most people look forward to Christmas (although I also look forward to Christmas that much too--more presents!). I love getting dressed up, I love seeing other people dressed up, I love the smell, taste, and carving of pumpkins, I like to see what other people carve out of their pumpkins. I love fake spiderwebs, candy corn, the smell of cider, and the crispness of a Fall evening. I love my fake witch laugh, cheesy decorations, and haunted houses.

So today, I convinced Jim to drive an hour out of town to Aw Shucks, one of the "local" pumpkin patches and farms with lots of fun Fall activities for families who also love Halloween. This place touted cow milking, a petting zoo, hayrides, pumpkin patch, corn maze, a pumpkin house, and the General Store. I had great expectations of this place. And unfortunately, they didn't really deliver.

Don't get me wrong, I did have fun, but overall, it was a little underwhelming. Our hayride featured no hay, and was about as long as the wait in line for it. The most exciting part was the mud--lots and lots of mud. The pumpkin patch itself was about the size of our living room, and my theory is that they bought and imported the pumpkins from Harris Teeter. I didn't even see any pumpkin vines in the field! The animals were there, but I didn't see a cow to milk. The corn maze did look pretty popular, and took up most of the land, but Jim would have been able to see over most of the walls, so we didn't bother. The General Store was alright--the candy was really cheap--but otherwise it was just country crap that I didn't want to buy. The Pumpkin House, featured below, was...strange. I don't really know what to make of it. Whose brilliant idea was it? And what was the idea exactly?

I bought one pumpkin there (a small one from the pumpkin house, in fact), but we bought our 2 other pumpkins at a stand down the street. I'll post pictures of them later when I feel like breaking out the camera.



The night before we went out to an event by Kirtsy, a website for women. We found out about the event through Twitter, which Jim is really into, and I am getting into. Twitter is basically the status update of Facebook, but with more of a conversational tone. It's got its whole little language, as most things do these days. You follow people to receive their "tweets", you can send direct messages that no one else sees but the recipient, you can mark quotes as "favorites" and you can tag messages so that they are searchable under a certain topic. It's a lot of fun, and can get addictive.

Anyways, this event was held at Apostrophe Lounge in South End, and was fun. It is interesting to meet these people in person, after only knowing them in 140 characters at a time or less. I had a great time! We left Apostrophe, after it became clear that the DJ was there solely to thwart our attempts at conversation. And, there was a 60-year-old pimp who was beginning to scare me--I still feel like I owe him money, for some reason.

We ended up at Jack's for Karaoke/$1.50 PBR night. At first I was not having a good time. But then I decided that I could either not have a good time, or I could. So once people started picking good songs, I started dancing. It was great fun, and I love dancing with girls, which I miss, since none of my girlfriends live near me. Jim sang 2 songs--Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz, and Hey Ya by Outkast. Both went over famously. One of the guys with us did my favorite kind of karaoke, which is the "choose songs that everyone secretly loves, but I'll appear very cool and ironic by singing it...and I'll even throw in some F-bombs to prove how ironic this is". So Totaly Eclipse of the Heart definitely made the list, and unfortunately, I am still singing it today. Thanks, @benmarvin! Jim almost got in a fight because a drunk guy was "questioning Jim's patriotism" since he didn't sing along with "Proud to be an American". It went something like this:

Drunk guy: I don't like his attitude. He hates America.
Me: No, he doesn't. He loves America. That's my husband.
Drunk Guy: That's your husband? That's unfortunate, because he hates America.
Me: He definitely loves America--more than anyone. I promise. His attitude is great. He loves America.
Drunk Guy: Really? (Drunk guy's friend intervenes and they leave).

I do like getting dressed up and going out, though, and hopefully we'll do it again soon.

And, for those of you locals reading my blog (or for people who would like to visit), I think we're having a Halloween party, so I'll post more details later, and hopefully you can make it. Jell-O brain shots for everyone!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The New Me!

I got a haircut last week, and thought I would share some pictures. Of course, I can't style it to its full potential, as my new hairdresser Mariana did. But I still think it looks cute, and it doesn't take long.

The last haircut I got was August 2nd, with my hairdresser in Richmond, Crystal. She was great, but a 6-hour drive for a haircut is a bit much. Also, she tended to keep my hair a bit longer than I wanted, despite telling her to go shorter.

Mariana, however, was all about cutting! I loved it! And she's young and a bit funky, so I got a bit of an asymmetrical bob, which I am loving! And it's very easy to style.







Otherwise, things around here are pretty good. Jim is off to Raleigh for a geek conference, so I'm single tonight. It's been kind of fun so far, but mostly I've just been straightening the house and watching TV and ordering Chinese food, which Jim doesn't like all that much. I may play some Rockband too. This could get crazy, people!

It's been raining off and on all day, hopefully it will get sunny by tomorrow so the weekend isn't a total bust. But I know somewhere north of here, there are Virginians who desperately needed this rain. (For those of you who haven't heard my theory, just mention the fact that it is unfortunately raining to a true Virginian. 80%-100% of the time, they will follow with, "But we sure did need it!")

Hope everyone else has a great weekend planned! Has anyone been to the Pumpkin Patch yet? Does anyone have any fun costume ideas they'd like to share? What are all these adorable babies going as this year?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Things I Do

I was thinking the other day about how quirky people can be, and started examining some of my own idiosyncrasies, and thought I would share some of them with you. Don't judge me, please.

1. Whenever I have a weird symptom, I make sure to tell people around me. I call it my "House List", since it's always the kind of stuff that ends up helping Dr. House solve his toughest cases. "You didn't tell me her left earlobe was tingling. It's definitely a rare blood disease in the fetus that lodged itself in her tibia after her trip to sub-saharan Africa where she picked up a rare insect. Give her interferon." That way, when I collapse or turn purple, he'll have all the facts for my treatment (and they can immediately rule out Lupus. It's never Lupus.)

2. I judge people's bumper sticker causes based on their driving. "Coexist? You just tried to run me off the road!" "Confederate Flag? Um, I won't be letting YOU in!" And, I always try to be a polite driver, since my car is plastered with UVA stuff. We're better than everyone else, and so is our driving etiquette. I am living proof.

3. I always pick things off the floor of clothing stores and hang them back up. Not because I'm nice (though I s'pose I can be), but because I always think they're going to give me free things because I *look* like a nice person, and helped out their store. When I told this to Jim the other day, he asked me how often I saw this happen when I worked in a clothing store. What a downer!

4. I automatically dislike other Megans. Unless they end up being super cool, they don't stand a chance. I have no explanation for this.

5. Getting the mail is probably my favorite part of each day. This doesn't really mean that my life is totally lame or that my day sucks, I just REALLY love getting the mail. What will it be? Coupons, special events, cards from friends, the electric bill, or my favorite: magazines? You will never know until you go to the mailbox and find out.

6. When I am alone and doing things, I say, "okay" about every 16 seconds. Part of it is having fake conversations with other people, part of it is talking to myself and the cats. I think it has to do with growing up in a house that I always thought was haunted. If I was talking or singing, I couldn't hear any ghost noises, and/or they would hear me coming and clear out of the room.

7. This is related to #6. I would also always check behind doors to make sure that no one was standing there when I was younger. Because the rest of my family LOVED Unsolved Mysteries, I would have to watch it, and get so freaked out by the music, Robert Stack, and the killers/ghosts. If I had to walk around the house after the show, I would sing, "I am coming, I know you're here, you should just leave, since I'm not scared. Please go away. Don't bother me. I know you're there." Stuff like that. I sometimes still check behind doors or shower curtains. And I am still convinced that I always here people in our house. But I've gotten a lot better about it now. (I guess it helps having a big man in the house with me.)

8. I keep my fat picture posted on the fridge and snack bowl, and in my wallet, to remind myself to eat and act responsibly. It is from Ryan and Melysa's wedding, and I can't believe that I looked like this in someone else's wedding. I feel terrible about that. So, as most of you know, I am doing a Weight Management class now, and this is my "Before Picture". I'll post the "After Picture" when it's time.



That's all I can think of now. What are your quirks? Any funny things that you do that no one else gets?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Grammar, Schmammar, Dontcha Know!

This is a quote from Sarah Palin in her speech in FL today. Do any of my faithful readers want to point out the syntactical errors?


"[John McCain] has seen the corrupt ways of Washington and the wasteful spending and other abuses of power, and as president, I promise you, I'm going to help him do this."

Okay, I'm sorry to ruin all the fun, but I just have to do it myself--it's too good, and I don't want you to miss a thing. And please, if I have, just add a comment and let me know! And if you have other zingers from good ol' JSPSP (Joe Six Pack Sarah Palin), please feel free to leave them as well.

1. Grammatically speaking, she is saying that she will actually be President. You could blame this on poor grammar, or that she doesn't actually understand what's going on. I don't know which explains it best.
2. She is promising to help him "do this". Now, she hasn't really mentioned any actions
per se, but one can only assume that she is going to help him continue with "corrupt ways of Washington, and the wasteful spending and other abuses of power".

Monday, October 6, 2008

Survivor Man

Since my last post, we had a great weekend camping with friends: Tasha & Jeremy, Gwen & Brady (and their kids Sophie and Gardner, and dog Spooner) and Gwen's cousin Ezra. We drove to Scott Mountain in Amherst, VA, and Brady met us at the foot of the mountain. We loaded up his Jeep with our stuff (me buried under most of it in the back), and then started the bumpy ascent to the campsite. To call it bumpy does not do it justice--it was a roller coaster ride, and was totally awesome!!

We got up there, said hello, and got to setting up our tent. Luckily Jeremy helped us, since Jim and I tend to get a little fussy when trying to set things up (especially since it was the first time we had used the tent, and daylight was dwindling). Our tent is totally awesome, by the way! Lots of nice ventilation, a good size footprint, and also it's very tall, so Jim can actually stand up in the middle. That was actually one of the reasons we registered for this particular one.



After that, it was all a wonderful weekend for us. Lots of relaxing and hanging by the campfire. Ezra was a wood-chopping machine, and always kept that fire going. Sophie and Gardner were constant sources of entertainment--I have never seen so many wands and bulldozers in one weekend! And my love for S'mores was definitely rekindled! Excellent idea, Jim!!



Jim looking triumphant for thinking of bringing all the S'mores fixin's.



Sophie made "stew" for all of us, and it was conveniently located right outside of our tent door. Great for midnight snacking! Here's a picture of it. Feel free to email her for the recipe.



On Saturday, a bushwhacking expedition from one mountain to the next was planned, but I decided not to go. Instead Jim and I took a short trip down our mountain to look for one of our sleeping bags that bounced out of the car on the ride up there. We found it! (big Phew!)










Unfortunately, the group that did go bushwhacking didn't quite make the trip they had planned. Instead, they ended up a little lost and ended up hiking about 15 miles down to Rte 60 for Ezra to go pick them up almost 9 hours after they started! I felt so terrible for them, but mostly I was relieved that they were alright. No flashlights, little food, and being exhausted is not the best combination for a successful trip. Luckily Jim's cellphone still worked at our campsite, and Tasha was able to get her sister to call Jim and tell them where they were. Big sigh of relief!!

Sunday morning, my best idea ever came to fruition: bacon-wrapped marshmallows. They were delicious, and their execution went off without a hitch. Sweet and savory is truly the greatest thing ever. And, I think Top Chef would like it, since it looks like a bacon-wrapped scallop (they love that "trompe l'oeil" stuff!





Our drive back was beautiful, there is nothing like VA in fall, even if most of the leaves hadn't changed yet.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Could anything LESS have happened this week?

So, dear readers, I apologize for having yet another boring post with little to no actual information in it. But, in order to keep you coming back, I'll post some random pictures that have nothing to do with anything. Actually, I guess I do have a few pics to post from this week.

Wednesday nights from now until November or so, Jim will be playing Kickball with a league in town. His team is called the Okraholics, and they wear bright yellow tshirts. This week was their first game against the hunter green team, and they won!! 3-2! Jim got the last out of the game (it would have been a double play had they actually needed it). It made up for a missed throw earlier. But I would say that he played very solidly! The best part about these games is that pretty much everyone there is drinking beer while they're playing. It really is just about having fun (though a win never hurts!)

After the game was over, most of the teams head to CANS (a bar who is the sponsor for the league) and that's where the real competition begins--Flip Cup. These people are wild for it! Jim's team once again beat the hunter green team, and it wasn't even close. Again Jim performed very well, even though this was his first Flip Cup experience. He was pretty drunk by the end of the night--luckily, I was driving.

Work for me has been going well. We've been getting a bit busier, and also we're moving offices in October, I believe. I'll be working closer to where Jim works now. Perhaps we'll even carpool--that might get him home at a decent hour, at least!

In my weight management class last week, I was down .2 lbs, which isn't a lot, but at least I was down, right? I am expecting a bigger loss today, I feel thinner, I have been running a lot this week, and my eating was very controlled. I'll let you know how it goes.

We're having dinner with Sarah and Morri on Saturday. They are the couple that we met at the Symphony a few weeks ago. I'm pretty excited!

Other than that, pretty much everything has been calm and boring. And, as promised, here are some pictures:



This is the Edible Arrangement that Kate sent me after my dad's death. Kate and me, "we're best friends." I love that commercial...even more than that, I love pineapple covered in chocolate!



This pot was sitting in our garage until I decided to clean out the garage and make the space more organized for the things in there. So I moved it onto the deck, and out pops this beautiful lil thing! Now, there are about 6 flowers on the plant--it's quite pretty! And she keeps Rich company (the plant that Kate gave me that now has 6!! leaves)



We got this in the mail. Jesus sure can wear a suit! Hotness!



This is Jim having a cocktail before our trip to the symphony. What a wonderful night--that ended in more drinks with our new friends! And what a delicious dinner!



No post is complete without a picture of Riley in a suitcase!




Jim "at bat" in his kickball game. Though this ended in an out, Jim played really well--and he looks good in yellow!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Not Much...

This week was pretty ho-hum. Nothing major happened, but I'll talk about it anyways!

My boss had his baby on Tuesday. Ty Leo. Hmm... Looks very cute in pictures.

I went to the gym 5 times this past week. I enjoy the Y quite a bit. Getting there is no longer the struggle it used to be, since I just pack my bag the night before and head there after work. It's usually pretty crowded then, but I've found a quiet place where most people don't go, and the treadmill is always free.

Friday morning I donated platelets again, this time with much more success. It took 2+ hours, but they got 2 units from me! It was a much more pleasant experience than last time (probably because I wasn't hungover), and I will go back. My nurse Elaine said that I should only go once a month instead of twice, to give my veins some time to regroup. She was very sweet--from Russia with a thick accent, but boy did she keep those blankets coming!!

Later that night, we met a few people from Jim's kickball team at Dixie's in Uptown. Their first game is this coming Wednesday. I have officially signed up for the cheering section. I think it will be fun/funny.

Today, I will go to the gym, go to Trader Joe's, watch the UT/Florida game with Jim's physical therapist Joe, and then head to the Festival in the Park in Freedom Park. What a day! Can I do it? I did get up at 9AM today, which is pretty early for me!

Obama is coming to speak here tomorrow. I would like to go, but I know it will be utter insanity (and it means we would have to go to the early service at church.) We'll see--it's a great opportunity, but it might just be a greater pain in the neck. Hope everyone else has a fun weekend planned. I'll post a few pictures below of nothing in particular. I'm just trying to jazz up my normally boring posts!!

These are pictures taken at the Baltimore Aquarium when we went for my birthday last year. It was lots of fun, and we enjoyed all of the creatures they had to show us. We even went to the dolphin show, though for some reason we didn't take any pictures there! Whoops!




Monday, September 15, 2008

Lipstick

I think it's funny that Sarah Palin chose to tell a lipstick joke in her big speech. Because you know what? That's all she is. They put lipstick on the ticket, hoping women would be distracted by "shiny things" and "pink" and somehow forget to vote with their brains. They put lipstick on the ticket to mask the fact that when it comes to the big-ticket issues, they lose. John McCain may be a "strong" candidate (if he were THAT old and didn't have any experience, there would be a major problem), but I think she was a weak choice. I haven't heard a single thing from her or about her that makes her even a CONTENDER for the VP slot, much less the ACTUAL VP choice. I am a big proponent of women's rights and increasing the number of women in high-powered positions in our country (you all know I am a big Hillary fan!), but let's not throw any ol' Jill in office to prove a point. I think in the end that will do way more harm than good to our cause.

I disagree with her politically--that's no surprise, since she's running on the Republican ticket. But she is a liar. She is distorting the past, leaving out major details and inventing new details (need examples? Bridge to Nowhere. For public interest? Nope--she vetoed school, hospital, and senior funding. No earmarks? No way!). I know she isn't supposed to come out in favor of any Democrat's platform, but instead she (and her running mate) just chooses to make things up about Obama's policies. To me, it makes her look uninformed and that can't understand the basic make-up of the US population (though she does a pretty good job of that in general). And, something that she needs to look at, is the clearly ineffective abstinence-only program her daughter was taught in school.

And if I hear her say "good ol' boys networks" one more time, I will scream--it's time to write a new speech, Sarah.

That's my two cents. I know some will agree, some will disagree. But you are sorely mistaken if you think that electing someone who votes with Bush 90% of the time is any sort of change that we need.

Fantastic BBQ Recipe

I love BBQ. I am a pulled girl--no sliced for me, thanks. I also like a little heat, a little sweet. Chicken and pork are both delish. Not the biggest fan of Carolina BBQ--don't like a lot of vinegar. I do like it super-saucy. On a bun, or off. No slaw.

If any of these things sound good to you, then you will absolutely LOVE this BBQ recipe. It is from Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger on the FoodNetwork. (I love her show--if you don't watch it, you should. Most recipes are super easy, super yummy, and healthful too!)

This is from her "Yes Can Do" show on shortcuts.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons molasses
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 whole rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded into thin strips (about 4 to 4 1/2 cups)
6 whole-wheat hamburger rolls
6 large green lettuce leaves

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, vinegar, molasses, pepper and liquid smoke and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chopped chicken, return to a simmer, and cook an additional 10 minutes.

Split rolls. Place a leaf of lettuce on each roll, then pile on 3/4 cup of the chicken mixture onto the roll.

The only changes I made were 1) I added about a 1/4 tsp salt; 2) I added some hot sauce for kick.

It tastes like it has been smoking and cooking all day--SO GOOD!!! I can't even explain how good this is--everyone must try it!!!

Do you have any delicious recipes that you'd like to share? Post a comment!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

In the last few days...

We've been out and around town a bit, and I've gotten a few good things taken care of.

Tuesday I tried to donate blood, but my iron count was too low--as was that of 7 other people there! It's an epidemic! Oh well! I have a platelet donation scheduled for next week, so perhaps it's for the best. Apparently, when you donate regularly, your iron sits a little lower without a concerted effort to raise it. I have not been eating tons of protein lately, so I can see why it was lower. Last time, my platelet donation didn't go so well, so I'm hoping this one is better. It better be! Although, I did get a lunchbox AND a travel mug last time, so not a total loss!

Wednesday I had my first weight management class at the Y. I have been going to the YMCA regularly for the past 3 weeks. I started this class to focus on the nutrition side of things, since my Weight Watchers class was less than enjoyable here (couldn't find a leader or group that I liked--and believe me, I tried!) So I'm giving Monika a try. It's a one-on-one session, which I like, but I don't feel like there is a strict enough focus. She didn't really explain their eating plan, and as we were setting my nutrition goals for the week, she was just letting me choose random numbers that were almost exactly what I was already doing. How will that improve my situation? Next week, I am hoping that it will improve--the first meetings are always for feeling each other out, and getting the basic information down.

On Friday, Jim surprised me with a nice dinner and a night at the symphony, for a Mozart and Mahler evening. It was fantastic! Not only was the symphony excellent--and the guest soloist was amazing, I was blown away!--but I got to talking with the woman next to me. She and her husband are also new to Charlotte, so we all went out for a drink after the performance and had a great time! Could it be that Megan has finally made a friend in Charlotte outside of work?!? We'll see! Jim and I have mutually decided not to get too excited about it, in case they don't call us. (Of course, Jim gave them his volunteer card with an outdated phone number and an email address that he is "pretty sure" forwards to his gmail inbox. Way to go, Jim! I just snapped at his to change his phone message with his new number. "Don't ruin this for me". Haha--am I insane?)

This morning we went to church. I continue to love our congregation and the thoughtfulness that goes into each service. Our minister has recovered from a bout with Mono (uh-oh, Jay!) and he was back in full form today. Today's topic was mindfulness, and began by pointing out the metaphor of "being awake" in multiple religions as a sign of someone who is mindful, appreciative, and does not take life for granted. It was a great talk, as usual. I always leave church smiling (even if I've been crying during the actual service, which happens almost weekly).

This week should be busy at work. Don is back in town, so I'll be working more for him. Larry's baby is due any day now, so who knows when I'll see him next? I'll let you know how my weekly check-in at the gym goes. Hope everyone's week goes well!! Any big plans coming up?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

As some of you know, my dad passed away about 2 weeks ago. Even though I had not seen him in 13 years, this has been a difficult time for me. I had mourned the loss of him from my life years ago, but would always wonder "what if" and "why not" and would imagine seeing him again. That has been taken away from me forever--my hopes, fears, and wonderings--and I miss them, and I miss him. I never talked about my dad much, but it didn't mean I wasn't thinking about him. Every Father's Day, his birthday, my birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, July 4th (the day after his birthday), Sundays. It was more than I realized, until I started thinking about it recently.

My dad was not without his shortcomings--as no person is--and he had more than his fair share of demons. Being himself and being with us never worked together, and that is why he left us alone for so many years. In recent days, I have come to find out that he also thought of Ryan and me as often as I thought of him, and that he did love us very much. That was very comforting and also hard to handle. It seems like the "what if"s and "why not"s are not so dead after all.

I won't ramble on and on, I am sure I will mention things in coming entries, but I wanted to share some of the memories that have been filling my head these weeks, little snippets of life when he was in it.

My dad loved music, and he played the piano like a pro. He taught me how to play, and we would play Heart and Soul and chopsticks together. Then he would listen to my "improvisations" of Beatles songs, especially Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane. Those will forever be my favorites. He also taught me songs from the Sound of Music, which was and is my favorite movie.

He had a lot of houseplants. Every Sunday when we would visit, I would mix up the perfect amount of water and miracle gro in his yellow watering can, and go around the house and water them. It was one of my favorite things to do.

He once recorded over the end of Annie with a football game. I guess this isn't so great, I was actually pretty upset, but now I think it's a little funny.

He could fix anything.

He once let us try cooking with the wild onions that grew in the yard. We made yellow squash and onions, and it was totally disgusting!

Whenever we would make meatloaf, he would let us form it into whatever shapes we wanted. The last one that I remember, I made "hamburger and fries" (3 round blobs and 4 skinny blobs) and Ryan made a bust of Batman (his actually looked like Batman). Thanks, Ryan.

He had one of my wedding pictures up in his apartment. They found it when they were cleaning it out.

I was trying to gain access to his information recently, to sort things out. One of his passwords for his email account was "ryanandmegan". It was my second guess (only after "meganandryan").

One year when he hosted Christmas for his family, we worked so hard at filling stockings and wrapping presents for us, his nieces and nephews. Everything was perfect. Perhaps that's where I get my gift-wrapping skills. He also liked a lot of tinsel on his christmas tree, and had original bubble lights.

Speaking of Christmas, Ryan and I once guessed one of our wrapped stocking stuffers (a half-chocolate, half-mint Santa Claus). After that, he took the stockings up until Christmas morning. That was probably the last time he put things out early.

Another Christmas memory (everyone knows how much I love Christmas!!), he used to let us open one present early, so one year I opened my one present. I liked it, but it wasn't what I thought it was. So as he was leaving the room with the rest of them, I grabbed one of them, and ripped it open before he could stop me! I think that was the last year we were allowed to open a present early.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Green

Jim always makes fun of me for being a Recycling Nazi at home. "Can that be recycled?", "Don't put that in the trash--we can reuse it!" Every week we have 2 bins of recycling and only 1-2 bags of trash. Yay! Since the mantra of recyclers everywhere is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle", I thought I would share some of the things we do to reduce and reuse, before we ever get to the recycling part of the circle.

1. Reusable bags. I use them for groceries, every type of shopping, really, for my lunch, everywhere. I keep one in my purse (My brother got me an Envirosax for Christmas--it folds up to about the size of a cassette tape, if you can remember those), and I keep the grocery bags in my car, so that I have them for anytime I go shopping, without having to plan.
2. Tupperware. I keep all sorts of containers from Cool Whip, sour cream, lunch meat (the ones that come in the Gladware, mostly) and that way, we save from throwing them away, and also we save money by not having to buy Tupperware. So, if we do have something truly disgusting in the fridge, I don't feel bad about tossing it if I don't feel like cleaning it.
3. Cloth napkins. I think we have cut our paper towel use in half just by using cloth napkins. We don't wash them everyday--usually once every week or two.
4. I installed an aerator on most of our faucets so that we use less water when we turn them on. Since we don't pay for water, I don't know how it has affected how much water we consume. I bought a kit at Home Depot for $10, with 2 aerators for bathrooms, a special one for the kitchen sink, and a shower head as well.
5. Unplug things when they're not in use.
6. Donate items instead of throwing them away. Use resources like Freecycle to give things away that you may think aren't good enough to donate. Chances are, someone wants them.
7. Buy items that are made from recycled/repurposed materials. And do your shopping online, rather than get printed catalogues. Also, read the newspaper online. No need to subscribe.
8. Go paperless with statements. If you need something specific, you can usually go to the website and print out that particular statement.
9. Make going green fun! Take trips to the Farmer's Market, rediscover the library, walk places, or hop on the bus. There are tons of things you can do to help. And despite what you may think, EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS!!!
10. Buy in bulk, especially non-perishable goods. Generally, less packaging is used when items are packed in bulk. Unless it's food that you know you can't freeze, or use in its entirety, bulk is the way to go!

These are just a few of the things we've been doing to save a little piece of this earth. Do you have any ideas on how to go green? Please share--I am always looking for ways to save the planet (and a little money as well!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Milestones

So today was my third day this week at the gym. We joined the YMCA shortly after Jim's surgery to give him a place to walk without having to be outside in July--super hot here in Charlotte!! And then last week, Jim started teaching me how to swim. We've had 3 lessons, including the lesson today. BIG updates (I feel like I'm about 7 years old, but I don't care--I'm loving it!!) on the swimming front: Today, I did some back stroke, freestyle (which Jim makes me call the Crawl), and learned to tread water. I swam completely across the deep-end!! I treaded water for 20 seconds (I could have survived longer), I went down the slide and then swam to the side of the pool, but most importantly, I didn't die!!! I still panic a little bit, but I'm getting over it.

I also started the FitLinxx program at the gym, which is basically a super-easy computer system for monitoring your progress, tracking when you've come and how much you've lifted/run. I didn't even notice anyone else at the gym because I was so busy watching my range of motion and making sure I was doing everything well. It was perfect. I just add some additional ab work onto the end of my routine, and presto--a great workout! I have started packing my bag at night, and putting it in my car when I leave for work, so that I have no excuse not to go after work. I really like the Y here--I have really made myself at home there.

I just feel pretty good lately. I need to do a bit of cleaning, and a load of laundry tomorrow, but otherwise, I feel great! Hope everyone reading this is equally well--feel free to leave a happy story of your own! Have you done something lately that you had never done before? If not, I highly recommend it!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A few updates...

I'm finally starting to work for a second agent at work. This guy is the Real Deal. He's in the top 50 agents in all of New York Life, which is kind of a big deal. So that will be fun, and busy, I'm sure.

I am taking swimming lessons from Jim. He's doing a great job. I kind of know a little about swimming, but never officially took lessons. It's something I've always wanted to learn, I just never got around to it. One of the lifeguards at the Y asked Jim if he had ever given lessons before, and that he should apply to be an instructor, since he was doing such a great job. I agree.

We FINALLY got the parts needed to put our bed together. I'm about to go start putting it together, and hopefully it will go smoothly. You best believe that I will update either way.

We're going to see Kathy Griffin in Atlanta in 2 weeks. I am pretty excited, not only about the show, but also about seeing Atlanta. I've never been?!? I want to go to the Coke museum, perhaps an art museum, ride the MARTA. If anyone has any suggestions for restaurants or things to see, please let me know!! Our schedule is pretty open for Saturday and Sunday.

I think that's about it. I've got a lot of magazine reading to do. I get, like, 80 magazines now...I think I need to not renew some of them, but I do enjoy all of them. And I like clipping out the recipes. If only I made any of them...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One Year Stronger

We have officially been married for one year, and it couldn't have been a crazier year for us! We got married, moved towns--states even--, we both changed jobs (I changed careers!), Jim had back surgery, what more could have happened to us?!? All the while, we've been best friends and a support system for each other. We've loved getting to know Charlotte and enjoyed a great night on the town for our anniversary. We went to Del Frisco's, which is one of the nicest restaurants in town known for their steaks (calling it a steakhouse takes something away from it, in my opinion). We then went back home, and celebrated with the top layer of our wedding cake, and some champagne that we received from Jeffrey Barrett as a wedding gift. Here is photographic evidence of it all:


So, we did wear our wedding colors that day--Jim wore aqua, I wore red (my shoes were aqua!)


Some pre-dinner wedding champagne. This was one of the best champagnes I have had--almost more like white wine--not so champagne-y.


For my gift, Jim got me a cute card (he actually marked more "Times he was wrong" on the card!) And he gave me envelopes--I had been complaining that we didn't have any. And, as he said, paper is the first anniversary gift!


Jim sporting his new bathrobe.


Outside of the restaurant with our doggie bag. It was mostly empty, I swear!


Us dressed up, but of course you can't tell!


Jim had already taken his tie off when I wanted to snap a picture, so he tried his best.


Our spread back home. We have our wedding cake, the cake plate Sarah and Andy, the Champagne from Jeff, the wine chiller from Ib, dessert plates from Greg, and Jim got me red carnations, just like our wedding flowers--and my favorites.

Cutting the cake! Again!


2 slices! Yummy!!