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!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Listen Up, Ladies!

So Wednesdays are a big day in our house. Payday? No. Game night with friends? No. Wild sexcapades? No. It's Project Runway and Shear Genius night! So, I think that Project Runway is a fantastic show, and that everyone should watch it to learn about fashion. Because there are such fantastic judges and mentors on there, you do end up learning about fashion and what works (and especially what doesn't!). But, I am actually interested in fashion, so how do I get Jim interested enough to, not only watch the show with me, but discuss and enjoy the blow-by-blow drama? Two words: Fantasy Teams. That's right. We hold a draft at the beginning of the season (before episode 3 starts) and choose designers in A-B-B-A order until we each have 7 designers. Then we score as follows:
  • 1 point for every designer that makes it through to the next round.
  • 3 points for the winning designer (one points for making it through, 2 for the actual win).
  • 10 points for the fan favorite at the end of the season.
  • 20 points for the season winner.
We tally it up every week and keep score on our household Wiki.

This is the best way ever to watch my favorite show, and for Jim to make fashion into a sport. This can really work with any game show, so feel free to use the system for whichever show you would like. We found it hard to do with Top Chef, since we couldn't really taste their food and judge for ourselves (we either like or dislike the clothes), but you choose chefs based on personality alone.

We don't do it for Shear Genius either, mostly because I'm too busy spouting out my tranny voice, and calling everything "shear genius" or "not shear genius".

Overall, Jim has really loved watching Project Runway. He says that he has learned a lot about fashion, he loves the judges, and especially loves Tim Gunn. We were both excited to hear that Tim Gunn is big on UVA. Apparently, his sister went there, his brother is on the board of the Business School, and his niece is going there too.

So, if you have trouble getting your beau to watch your favorite shows, just make it a sport, and everyone wins!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Good Easy Recipe

I am sure that this has occurred to many of you readers before, but tonight it dawned on me: use your leftovers for dishes other than reheated in their original form. I am a pretty good cook--I can put a meal together without following a recipe, I can find a side dish that Jim will ACTUALLY eat (and it's not French Fries every night), I have even learned how to cook meats pretty consistently (I was a vegetarian for almost 11 years--it's a feat, people). But the one thing that I struggle with, is leftovers. Normally, Jim or I can take them for lunch, but recently I just eat snacks for lunch: carrots, tomatoes, grapes, 100-calorie packs for chips or cookies. And Jim gets lunch paid for everyday at work. And then what to do with leftovers? Reheat and eat, right? Nope! The other day we had taco meat and rice in tortillas, which was a pretty yummy lunch, but with 1.5 lbs of meat, there was a lot left over. So today, as I was planning our dinner menu for the week, I decided that I was going to use our leftovers for dinner. I decided on a southwestern pizza. Not a totally brilliant idea, but it's a start. It was totally awesome!!! Here's what I did, in case you have leftover taco meat as well (ours was made with the taco seasoning envelope, otherwise I am smart enough to think of other uses for regular ground beef):

1 Pillsbury thin pizza crust
leftover taco meat (around 1 cup)
a bit of pizza sauce (we use Pizza Squeeze) mixed with some hot sauce
black beans
Chipotle cheddar cheese, chopped
mozzarella cheese

I was glad Jim suggested putting the mozzarella on along with the cheddar, because it really did soften the flavor. It was not an extreme in-your-face mexican flavor, but it was freaking delicious!!!! If you want to share your leftover recipes, feel free!! I would love to know them so I don't bore our palettes to death!!

OMG MY BFF BO!!

Obama's recent announcement really bothers me. After trying to separate himself from the "celebrity" McCain is trying to paint him as, he is sending text messages to announce his VP. One of the biggest decisions of his campaign, and he's texting? How Paris Hilton of him!

Don't get me wrong, I'm at least glad he knows what a text message is, and how to work a cell phone. I know he's claiming it's a convenience factor for his supporters, but who doesn't have a few minutes to turn on the TV or overhear a conversation on the metro or talk to an actual person at work or read a magazine or check his website. I think it's a little...lame.

I am still voting for him. I agree with most of his policies, except for the death penalty stance, but that's not enough to sever my ties to the Democratic Party. I am hoping that I really like his VP choice, though, so I can really start to rally behind him.

In other Democratic news, I can't forget about John Edwards. What a butthead (I try to keep my blog as child-friendly as possible)! When he announced that he was still running even after he said he wouldn't if his wife's cancer came back, I knew right then I didn't trust him. (I think everyone that knows me has heard that story before, but I called that he was going to give the "My wife is a fighter, and so am I" speech from the minute the original bargain had been announced.) And now, having an affair. What is the deal? I know that no woman deserves to be cheated on, but especially after fighting such a horrible disease, no one should ever have to then fight with the person who is supposed to love them most in this world. To me it is the worst thing you can do to a person. I hope he feels like the piece of poop that he is.

I am hoping that this is the best Democratic National Convention ever, and can unify the party and get all our ducks in a row.

In personal news, I passed my Life and Health tests today!! They don't actually tell you your score, but I am assuming I scraped by on both. As a former teacher who knows to dissect a book and get the main points and some important details together for a test, I was disappointed in the content they chose for the test. These were the mostly teeny, tiny details that weren't even mentioned in the "review class" that I had to take. Not many general definitions, not many comparing questions, not many questions covering issues I would actually need to know for my job. The test was to get my Life Services Assistant License, so that I can fill out paperwork around the office (it's not that I couldn't figure this out on my own, it's a legal obligation). Apparently everyone who came out of the testing room said that it was a lot harder than they expected. And it's only 60 questions, so they all count (you need a 75% to pass). So, that's over, and I am going to go have a cosmo.

TTYL!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Say What?

Those of you who have been keeping up with the furniture saga are in for another treat. We have updates. Not the kind of updates that involve results--just complaining. So in my last post, they had messed up the bed and bedside table delivery (no side rail or hardware for the bed, delivered a third bedside table). I have since gotten several "updates" that put the hardware and bedrail here around the 15th of August. How much do I actually believe it will get here then? Not at all. When I called about the missing/broken parts, I also asked about arranging pick-up of the bedside table, that we did not want to exchange (for obvious reasons--we already have 2!). I was told that someone would contact me to arrange pick-up, and that they would try to coordinate pick-up and drop-off of the bed pieces to be the same event.

A week or so passed after this conversation, so I called again. I was given the same answer, that someone would call me to arrange pick-up. Nothing. For a month. I called again. Same answer, even after I had told them it had been a while, and I had heard nothing.

I called today, and was ready with the harsh talk. I explained the situation, she looked up our account, and then told me that it had been past the 45-day return period, and I could no longer return the piece. WHAT?!?! Are you kidding me? I (kindly) explained that her company had slacked for the past 45+ days and that I had called 3 times about this return. I even asked if she could pull the "quality recordings" since there was no quality of service going on. She put me on hold, and checked my call history, and WHAT? I HAD actually called as many times as I said I had, and notes had been made about the order. She still did not explain why nothing had been done about the return. She put me through to Melanie's voicemail, where I left another kind message about the situation. Hopefully she will call me tomorrow and we can get this 3-month-coming ball rolling. This just makes me so mad, I can't even explain it. I feel like no one has actually cared about this. I will tell Melanie the many many steps in all of this when I talk to her next, and hopefully she will make all of this worth my while--in other words, give me money off my order.