Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Well, the drama was finally over. Josh liked me and I liked Josh - at the same time. Whew! After our fateful discussion on the nursing school steps, the next step was an official first date.
Actually, the first step was to tell Carrie. Josh wanted to be the one to tell her - he felt it was the right thing to do. However, I couldn't keep my big mouth shut - I was too excited and ended up blabbing it everyone in sight. Not my proudest moment. So of course Carrie found out the very next day - and through the grapevine. She wasn't pleased - especially with Josh. But it all worked out in a few days - she was very gracious.
Then came our first date. Josh was going to pick me up at 6 on a Saturday evening, but at 5 I had a "house meeting" planned with my seven other roommates. They were nice enough to let me duck out of the "who is cleaning the bathroom on which day" conversation early so I could all dolled up for the big event. I came back downstairs right before 6, and was immediately sent right back up to my room.
You can't get the door for your own date! They told me. And back upstairs I went. What they really wanted to do was interrogate Josh when he came to pick up me. And so they did.
710 Catherine Girls (Carrie included): Come in. Sit Down.
Josh: Uh... okay...
710 Catherine Girls: What time will you have her home?
710 Catherine Girls: How's your car running?
Josh: Uh... okay...
And so on. Mostly in good fun - Josh was good friends with most of those girls and they really enjoyed giving him a hard time.
Finally, after they'd harassed him enough, they called me back downstairs. Wiiitttteeeee, he's here!
Before we left, one of my roommates, Julie, took this picture of us:
For almost 3 years, I didn't know it existed. I'd forgotten all about it. But Julie actually saved it for all that time and gave it to us, framed, for our first anniversary. How sweet is that? Jules, if you're reading this, thanks again!
Josh took me to TGI Friday's (we were told it was THE first date place to go) and then rented Top Gun. I remember being so nervous I couldn't eat. It was a little weird to think about - I mean, we'd shared meals so often! And then I told him something I'd been thinking about for the few days leading up to that point:
I don't want you to kiss me for a month.
I think I was feeling totally overwhelmed with life at that moment. Another school year was starting. I was living in a house for the first time, starting up another Bible Study in the dorms at Michigan, starting a new job at the cafeteria, and then had added a new boyfriend to the mix. Not just a new boyfriend - my first boyfriend. And my best friend. I'd been on a few dates, but nothing serious up to that point. And I'd never before been kissed - the very idea freaked me out. What if I wasn't any good at it?
At that time I felt that one more new thing would push me off the deep end.
I think Josh was surprised, but he was sweet and very understanding.
We almost made it a month.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Granted, he usually spends about 80% of his days asleep. We affectionately call him our "little lazy ass" because he spends so much time unconscious on the futon (shown here) bed, and couch.
But do you know how I can tell that he is really and truly exhausted? The fluffy purple bone toy sitting right next to him.
And it is intact.
Riley loves nothing more than to tear into a toy and pull out all of the fluff. In his world, it ranks right up there with heading to the dog park to play with other dogs. Funny enough, he has almost limitless energy when he is around his little friends. He keeps 'em running around and around, barking and nipping and growling in the playful way dogs like to do. He could do this for hours on end. And we're like, "who is this dog? Surely not our lazy ass."
We have this completely terrific place here in Bloomington called The Dog House. It is a cage-free dog boarding place. I really don't like the idea of boarding Riley in a place where he'd be stuck in a cage for hours on end. I'd feel terrible leaving him there! But The Dog House? He loves it because it allows him to do one of his very favorite activities - romp about with other canines. He never sets foot in a cage, even at night. They actually have a room set up like a living room in a house, complete with couches and even a TV. I'm sure he feels right at home, except that our home hopefully smells better.
And we love it because we can get away for a weekend without feeling guilty.
We spent this past weekend exploring our soon-to-be home town, and we're now experiencing a dog so wiped out you'd think he was drugged. It will take him a few days to recover.
If only there was a similar place for kids someday.
Oh wait, there is. They're called grandparents.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I don't think I've ever made s'mores in the dead of winter, so I was a little surprised by the invitation. But what Friday night activity can be better roasting marshmallows over the gas log in someone's living room? Not to mention delicious. So we quickly agreed to join them for the activity, with one caveat: the chocolate had to be fair trade.
To be fair (ha - get it?), we agreed to pick up the chocolate if they'd take care of the rest. Josh about fainted when we ended up spending over $11 on 3 candy bars. But we had to try a few different types, in order to discover our favorites, right? And now we have leftovers - perfect.
And you know what? The s'mores were very, very delicious! Here you have it: a fair trade s'more.
Our favorite s'more friendly chocolate was the vanilla flavored one shown below.
The first fair trade chocolate experiment went off without a hitch. Now on to chocolate chip cookies!
And if you're looking for less expensive fair trade chocolate, try Trader Joe's. They're selling it for $2 a bar, by far the best price we've seen.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Last night we found a screamin' deal on a roundrip flight and just had to jump on it today. So much so that I called my boss at home this morning (we have MLK day off) to double check that it wouldn't be a problem.
In late May we'll fly from Detroit to Brussels (random city, I know, but cheap is cheap), and return in mid June. We just started plugging in different cities within a 6 hour radius of Columbus (Chicago, D.C., Cincy, Indy...) and different European cities (Paris, Amsterdam, Rome...) into the search fields on travel websites. After about an hour of fruitless searching for a decent fare, we stumbled upon something sweet. We quickly called my parents, who decided immediately that it was too good to pass up. They'll be joining us for the first half of the trip!
Now, the only thing we have set so far is the flight. The trip itself is wide open! But here's what we're tentatively thinking:
First: The Netherlands
I've always wanted to see the places where my grandparents grew up and where my uncles and aunts were born. I want to see the rivers my Opa patrolled as a water policeman and eat in the restaurant that was built out of the house where my Oma was born . My dad, who has seen all of these places before, will be our travel guide. He also grew up speaking Dutch at home, so he can act as a translator, too! Throw in a visit to some old Dutch relatives, and we'll be all set. A family history trip!
My family has talked about taking a trip like this since I was in about third grade. My parents would always say, "we'll take you when you're older." Well, I'm certainly older now and we're actually going.
Second: Up in the Air, but maybe Paris
After spending a few days in Holland, we'll all head out for another adventure before my parents head back to the states. Paris isn't too far, so that could be a fun option.
When we first started thinking about this trip, we were all, "lets go wherever - we're completely open to anything." That has slowly but surely changed to, "when we go to Italy this summer..."
We'll have a solid week to tour around Italy, and we're completely jazzed about it. We're all about the cities and the historical sites, but would also like to take it easy in a countryside B&B, too. We have LOTS of planning to do!
We couldn't be more excited.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Mine includes things like:
You know, for when I have time.
But learning Photoshop has been on my list for a long, long time. I know many of you are old photoshopping pro's, so just bear with me and my beginner excitement.
I started reading The Pioneer Woman a few weeks ago, and ever since have been inspired to learn how to use the program. She consistently blogs about Photoshop, and her website includes step-by-step instructions for how to make things happen. Woo hoo! Just what I need. AND her website has free actions for downloading. I just learned what those are! And have totally enjoyed using them.
I'm currently working on a belated wedding gift for my cousin, Erin - her album. I'm doing it in a classic (and hopefully classy) scrapbook style but wanted to play around with some of her pictures before I had them printed out. Not that they need too much - Erin and Pablo were a beautiful couple and they had an incredible spot!
So, for your viewing pleasure:
Straight out of camera (SOOC):
And all done up:
I know, I know, it isn't anything earth-shattering. But a) I'm new at this and b) I don't want her wedding pictures to look too touched up anyway. I'm going for a natural look. And I'm totally pumped.
For the record, I used PW's "soft and faded" and "quick edge burn" actions, and then touched it up a bit to get rid of the shadow. It was totally easier than I thought it would be.
And now the issue becomes which to choose...
So do you go with a great B&W?
Or a vintage style?
Or more of a classic wedding take, bridal glow and all? (And, somehow, grass that got too close to neon green. So maybe not.)
Or perhaps something closer to the SOOC? The options are limitless, it seems.
After much deliberation, I think I'll go with this one:
What do you think? Vote, please!
Clearly, I've discovered that this is a ton of fun to mess around with! When will I ever bring myself to do laundry again?
It might not happen for awhile.
And fellow IU-er's? Go and download the Adobe suite for free (yes, free) while you still can. DO. IT. NOW.
Friday, January 16, 2009
HO-LEE-COW is this stuff good.
I have - well, had - a full bar of this in my desk drawer for the past week. Little by little, it has disappeared. Actually, I bought this with the full intent to give it away as a Christmas present. But then right before Christmas I lost it. But when we returned to Bloomington, lo and behold it was right there in a paper bag in my office.
Don't you just hate it when that happens?
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Somewhere around 9am each morning the coffee craving hits me. I like to get up and work for awhile (usually in my full glasses-wearing, pajama-clad glory) before heading downstairs to brew some joe. It is my morning pick-me-up, and I look forward to it every day. And it wouldn't be possible without my coffee maker.
1. It is fast. It brews a delicious cup in less than 60 seconds. No turning it on and waiting several minutes. Instant gratification, baby.
2. It is easy to use. Add water if needed. Open machine. Place coffee pod in. Close. Push button to start.
3. It gives me the amount of coffee I want. Which is to say, it brews it one cup at a time. I'm the only coffee drinker in my household, and I usually don't need more than one cup. Brewing an entire pot is unessessary around here, in addition to being a more obnoxious process.
4. It isn't messy. No filters, no measuring coffee grounds, nothing. Just a sealed little pod that goes in and out of the machine.
5. It saves me money. Okay, so brewing this way is a little more expensive than using an ordinary coffee maker. For one, the maker itself will run you about $100. Also, the pods are more expensive than standard coffee grounds. A 16-pack of Maxwell House pods cost about $4 at Target. When compared to normal Maxwell House grounds, it is totally expensive. But if I didn't have one of these guys I'd be too lazy to go through the trouble of brewing coffee the normal way and would be tempted by the nearby Starbucks each and every morning. In that light, $.25 per cup is a steal.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
1. Put your music player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!
4. Tag friends who might enjoy doing the game.
1. IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY" YOU SAY?
Yesterday's News - Whiskeytown
2. WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
Listen To Her Heart - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
3. WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A FRIEND?
I Need Thee Every Hour - Jars of Clay (Not so much. Not that I don't like feeling needed by a friend. But every hour is a bit much.)
4. HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
Paint It Black - The Rolling Stones
5. WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?
For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her - Simon & Garfunkel (Hm... maybe I should start finding an Emily.)
6. WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Love Me Do - The Beatles
7. WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Happiness Is A Warm Gun - The Beatles (Niiiiice.)
8. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
Livin' On The Edge - Aerosmith
9. WHAT IS 2 + 2?
Ol' 55 - The Eagles
10. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
Generator - Foo Fighters
11. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LOVE?
Mr. Tambourine Man - Bob Dylan
12. WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away - The Beatles
13. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Mr. Jones - Counting Crows
14. WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LOVE?
Revive Me - Jeremy Camp (Yes, I regularly swoon when Josh walks in the door. Not quite, but close.)
15. WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Roxanne - The Police (I hope not! I do NOT put on a red light.)
16. WHAT WILL (OR DID) YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Getting Better - The Beatles (and it DID!)
17. WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Not Dark Yet - Bob Dylan
18. WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
Outlaws - Joe Purdy
19. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Dissident - Pearl Jam
20. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
This I Promise You - N'Sync (Ahh, this one brings be back to 10th grade like no other.)
21. WHAT'S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
For A Dancer - Jackson Browne
22. HOW WILL YOU DIE?
Helpless - Neil Young (Comforting.)
23. WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
Promising - Wilco
24. WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Nothing As It Seems - Pearl Jam
25. WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Don't Wanna Know Why - Whiskeytown (You really don't. The list goes on and on.)
26. DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
All I Want - Toad The Wet Sprocket
27. IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
This World - Derek Webb (Now, where to start?)
28. WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
Gas Panic! - Oasis (iTunes is about 4 months late on this one.)
29. WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
Where Did You Sleep Last Night? - Nirvana (Here! I promise!)
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Mercifully, he has gradually stopped doing such things. That is, at our place. We even started letting him roam free when we leave (as opposed to locking him up in his crate.) With the exception of a pair of wooden dice from a board game, he has left our stuff alone for the past few months. We feel like proud parents. Our boy is growing up.
However, he always seems to regress when he stays with my parents. He has chewed through two of my dad's bluetooths (blueteeth?) in addition to ripping through several pillows and assorted socks. One time my mom even caught him dragging a king size pillow sham down the hall to chew on. Think small dog with extra large pillow. It was literally bigger than he was and he had to drag it inch by inch because it was too heavy for him. And then he did develop a taste once for certain wicker furniture my parents have in their porch. Nothing like Marley, but naughty nonetheless.
We kept thinking, What the heck? What makes our parents' place so different from ours?
And then this past weekend they came for a visit, and took along their dog, Chloe. And what do I find in the living room yesterday morning?
Yes, it is a cozy sock I got for Christmas and wore all of one time. He not only went into our bedroom to retrieve it, but carried it downstairs so that everyone would see his handiwork.
Apparently it is all for Chloe's benefit. As in, neener neener neener - I get away with murder. (Think high pitched sing-song voice.)
Perhaps it is because she acts like she is annoyed with him most of the time. And all the while he follows her around like, well, a little puppy. An unhealthy, dependent relationship if you ask me. Or perhaps it is because she doesn't like him to be anywhere near her food. And then she doesn't eat it just to spite him.
Or maybe he just likes to feel like a bad ass.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I happen to be sitting in one at this very moment.
And, during this past year of frequent hotel stays, I've developed a favorite.
Now let me just say that most of the time, I can't stay in posh places like The Peabody. My expense budget can't handle swank like that. So I'm talking here about the mid-level standard type. No Super 8's thankfully. More like a Hampton Inn.
My favorite, favorite hotel chain in that price range is the Hyatt Place. Why, you ask? Well, let me just tell ya.
-They're new. Now, I can't promise that for all of them. But it is pretty new chain and every time I've stayed in one either the building has been recently built or the room has been completely updated.
-They're always well decorated. I'm totally a visual person, and appreciate the attention to well-chosen colors, materials, and lighting. They really seemed to nail down the details, down to the fashionable throw pillows.
-My room has always been clean. Need I say more?
-The lobby is very welcoming - and even stylish in its design. Functional, innovative spaces. A specialty coffee bar where they serve Starbucks. I must say that it is nice to walk into an inviting space after driving for hours on end. Many hotels of a similar price range sport dated, stained green carpeting and a tunnel-like entry. And a desk I don't want to touch with my bare hands.
-Each room has distinct living and sleeping spaces. But they don't have that seedy Extended Stay feeling to it. I appreciate the ability to sit on a couch (as opposed to a bed) with my laptop and work... er... I mean blog. Apart from sporting a design I could choose for my own living room, it is big, comfortable, and comes complete with an ottoman. There's also a nice desk area, kitchen-ish area, bathroom, etc. The whole room is spacious and designed innovatively. (Is that a word? If not it should be.)
-The beds are comfy.
-Free WiFi. This is pretty standard at this level of hotel. The more expensive ones, on the other hand? $10 per day, easy. Yuck.
-Each room is equipped with a 42" flat screen HD television. This is Josh's favorite part of the Hyatt Place experience.
So there you have it. My reasons for choosing this hotel whenever possible.
And yes, I've written this entire post from a nice tan couch with my feet up and while glancing occasionally at the big TV swiveled in my direction. Thankfully Lombard, IL had a Hyatt Place option for me tonight. It makes life on the road that much more enjoyable.
Josh will have some time between graduation and the start of his job, and we'd like to seize that time off for an overseas trip. You know, before he has to work for a living and has limited vacation time.
On that note, if anyone is looking for a two year gig with weeks upon weeks of freedom? BUSINESS SCHOOL. Let's see... a two week spring break, time before and after an internship, a week off at Thanksgiving, and three weeks off around Christmas. And yes, that does mean Josh has this week off while I slave away selling books. He is going to miss that when he re-joins the real world.
Back to the vacation conversation. We want to take a trip somewhere, but we also want to buy a house around that time. When did I start crapping money, you ask? Exactly. I didn't.
So we're looking for a relatively inexpensive vacation. We're flexible about the location, but have some boundaries. We're not sit-on-the-beach people. Nothing tropical. I don't think we're looking to do Asia or Africa. South America was great, but we don't plan to go again for our next trip. Europe is somewhere that we'd both like to visit, having only been to London and Istanbul. Nothing in-between! Or perhaps Australia and New Zealand?
Any suggestions? Tips? Favorite places? Websites? Travelzoo is already a favorite!
Monday, January 5, 2009
And now for the belated Christmas post.
(I figure I have until the end of the month to write about goals for 2009 and reflections on 2008. I had also promised additional Josh & Jessica stories in December, which is the anniversary of our engagement, but forgot about that completely. So I'll work on that this month, too. January = my grace period.)
One of the blessings and challenges to married life is the need for two Christmas celebrations. The drawback is that we can't spend Christmas Day with both families at the same time. We're on an every other year rotation around here. The benefit is that we get to celebrate Christmas with family twice. And that is enjoyable.
This year we were in Vail, CO for Christmas Day, and celebrated it with Josh's parents, grandparents, and even the family dog. We took the day off from skiing, and spent the day playing cards, watching Marley & Me, and veg-ing out. That evening we managed to put on appropriate clothes and go out for a nice dinner.
Josh's parents' dog, Nikki, all dressed up for the big day.
Josh & his parents in Vail Village before Christmas Dinner.
Favorite gifts? Our ski trip, of course! We had a blast. Can't wait to go again.
And then onto Witte Christmas Extravaganza, a few days later in Grand Rapids, MI. After flying from Denver to Chicago and driving up to W. Michigan, we enjoyed dinner and presents with my side of the family. I wore pajama pants the entire day and it was definitely a good decision.
My dad examining his new golf clubs. Oooh... shiny. My mom broke her cardinal rule of Christmas gift giving and actually let him pick them out the month before. But she insisted on wrapping them for him anyway.
My brother Ben with his new laptop, bought on an excellent Black Friday special.
Favorite gifts? Chickens, a new coat (see skiing pictures) and an ornament that looks like Riley. Josh got a Best Buy gift card that he has since used for a Slingbox. I feel that another of Josh's reviews may be in order soon.
In terms of my Advent Conspiracy goals, I think we did okay. Our Christmas celebrations continued on into the next week with significant time spent with family and friends. I loved it all - the card playing, the puzzle-ing, the late night chats. Gift giving was completely joyful and stress-free, but the level of worship wasn't quite where I wanted it to be. Something to work on for next year. But I'm thankful for a great holiday season. Thankful for two loving families that want to celebrate with us. Thankful for an abundance of good food and fellowship. Thankful for ornaments that resemble beloved brown dogs. Thankful most of all for a God that gave this world the gift of Jesus so many years ago.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
And since 2004, we've only gotten the chance to see everyone all together a few times - mostly at weddings. And now that most of us are married, we're running out of those opportunities. But we got another chance to see a bunch of old friends a few days after Christmas.
First, a blast from the past. Here's Josh and the original 217 N. Thayer group around 2002 - Boeve, CJ, Bill, Jeremy, Josh, Patrick.
And here are most of them this past week: Chris (a 2nd year addition), Bill, CJ, Boeve, Josh, Patrick. Add in the rest of us, including four of my college roommates, and it was quite the group!
And the numbers keep growing, the most recent additions being these two: