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 ( 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. ( 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.