Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm back!

A lot has happened since the last post. I really hope I can gather up the time and patience to put something together. In the meantime, I've created another blog for the newest "project" in my life that might help me attain another goal (and make me a much happier person). Check it out and hopefully I'll have more to update here very soon.

Also, I have restarted the 365 Day Photo Project and really hope I can stick with it this time, especially after starting my other new project. I'll definitely want to see how I've changed over the next year. :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Broadway, Goodfellas, Flossing, Garage, Veggies

So many things to update! I've had this post in my drafts folder for a while so it's about time I finish it and post it already.

I've been wanting to see the Broadway musical "Avenue Q" for over 4 years so I think I hyped this up too much so I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. Also, because I scored a great deal on the tickets, we sat in the 2nd to last row and had to rely on binoculars to see the details. I was extremely happy that there was nobody sitting to my right though because I had some room to stretch out a bit. And the girl in front of me was short so that made it easier to see. :) Anyway, as for the musical, it was cute, but I think almost too cute for me. In a nutshell, the characters are both puppets and humans, just out of college, dealing with the hardships that come with the real world. My favorite characters were the Bad Idea Bears - they would give...well, bad ideas. For example, they'd suggest buying a case of beer instead of just a couple because you know, buying in bulk saves money in the long run! That's my kind of thinking, haha. It was definitely worth the tickets and I look forward to checking out other musicals as they come through town. The following video has a lot of the same actors we saw.


I finally watched "Goodfellas"! I had seen parts here and there so some parts were more familiar than others, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It essentially narrates the coming of a boy in a troubled neighborhood who gets involved with the Mob and moves his way up the ladder into bigger and badder things. It shows the highs and lows of the life and how it can affect the people around you. I was already a big fan of Ray Liotta so his performance in this was very believable and enthralling. If you don't mind the occasional gangster/mob movie, I'd definitely recommend this! The cast is phenomenal, the story is touching and it's mindblowing to think this is based on a true story. I feel young when I watch this. :)

After we had to deal with filing a hail-damage claim on our car, we decided to get in gear and clean out the garage enough to at least fit one car. We spent a full day in April and took as much out as we can and sorted through a ton. Aside from being a little windy, it was a beautiful day so it wasn't as bad as we anticipated. Here's a picture of during the cleanup:

We ended up with a car FULL of things to donate to Goodwill and barely enough room to fit the car for another storm that had hail potential. It felt so good to be able to close the garage and see the car safely sheltered from the elements. I will say though, that we recently bought a hot tub and a piano from a garage sale and now both items are pretty much taking up all the space. I still consider a goal done, but we're anxious to get the car back in the garage soon.

Moving on... I flossed every day in the month of April! I've had a few cavities pop up lately and I've had some sensitive teeth so I really needed to be careful and floss regularly so that motivated me to get through the month. It amazed me how quickly it became a habit and I didn't feel the need or urge to make excuses not to do it. I'm proud of myself and really hope I don't make it seem like such a chore anymore. I value my teeth and really need to start taking care of them better so I hope this will stick with me. Oh, and this is my floss of choice. It's thin enough to fit between my tightly packed teeth...and it's quite cheap! :)

In regards to the 365 day photo project, we had some camera issues in April so we weren't able to consistently take pictures, but we will definitely be starting again on June 1st.

We're halfway through the month and I'm still going strong with the vegetarian gig. There were a couple times I had to catch myself before picking off a piece of sausage off a pizza I was cooking or eating a small bit of ham while making Chris' sandwich. I've really learned to appreciate and rely on Morningstar and Gardenburger to get my protein. I also picked up a 12-pack of frozen single-serving edamame bowls from Costco. It's somewhat of a pain to have to pop them out of the pods, but they were super cheap and it's convenient so it's well worth the light hassle.

Well, I'm sure I had a few more things to update, but I just don't have the time right now and I'd rather get at least some post up than wait yet another week or however long it'll take to get back to this.

Friday, May 1, 2009

(35) Operation Sansmeat

It's May 1st and I've decided to become a vegetarian for the month. It's going to be tricky, but as long as I can have dairy and eggs, I'll be fine. I bought a plethora of veggies and cheese as well as some tortillas and tofu so I'll have to experiment with random ingredients this weekend. I already have some Morningstar stocked up so that'll get me through the weekend and I will do more planning on Sunday. I'm starting the new day with a bowl of low fat Bryers ice cream and some sweet strawberries.

Wish me luck! I'll post some progress updates and probably some new recipes periodically. I hope to come out of this healthier, wiser and ready to make some changes in my diet permanently. :)

Also, I'm in the process of another lengthy update so expect that this weekend!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

(2) Guitar Lessons & (79) Flossing

I started guitar lessons with Mike yesterday and love it so far! Having learned piano at a very young age and after playing flute for the past 18 years, it was such a weird concept to have to relearn music from a different perspective. New hand placement, different method of reading was such a great feeling. I'll keep you guys updated as I learn more...

And I've decided to pick this month to start flossing every day. It's something I need to do anyway, but I really need to make it a habit. There are some people that can get away with not flossing as often, but I've come to learn that my teeth are so tightly packed together in some areas that I need to do it. Period. I think my dental bills last year speak for themselves and I don't need to go through all that again anytime soon. 3 days down, 27 to go! :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

(84) 365 Day Photo Project

Happy April Fools!!

I've started a new 365-Day Photo Project today that will be uploaded to the flickr photo set in the right sidebar. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tons of Updates

2) Guitar lessons - I scheduled guitar lessons in April so I'm really looking forward to that. I have a basic Yamaha acoustic guitar so it will be a decent start.

19) Write a will - I get a nice discount through a financial service I use for a will, a living will and a spouse's will - ~$35, give or take. We'll look at doing that in the next few weeks, I expect.

23) Start a garden - Spring is here, time to pick out some herbs, veggies and maybe fruits from a local nursery. I made the mistake of trying seeds last year; I just don't have the discipline for it so I need to make things easier and buy the plant. :) Give me a week or two to buy them and post some pictures. :)

24) Start a budget - Chris and I are going to Dave Ramsey's Money Makeover Live event in Dallas next weekend. From there, we'll be making some big changes to our spending habits and starting a solid budget and savings plan. I'm looking forward to it! We've already closed and cut up a few store credit cards that were recently paid off. It feels so good and we're ready for more. :)

42) Join a community band - It's been over 2 months since I joined Band of the Hills and I love it! We had our first concert of the semester a couple weeks ago and it was a blast. I forgot how amazing it can sound on a stage in a well-designed space, sound-wise. We were invited to play at the Association of Concert Bands Convention in Houston on April 15th so we (including Chris) are going to hop on a bus that morning, perform in Houston and then head back to Austin late that night. It should be fun, considering the people in the band are from all different ages and backgrounds.

45) Habitat for Humanity - After doing some searching, I think I'm going to change this one to a general volunteer gig. There are so many causes and projects to volunteer with, I don't want to limit myself to just one. I was reading a magazine that had a few 100+ year old people give advice and one of them said to volunteer because it takes your mind off your own problems for a little bit. I definitely need to explore that avenue and stop dwelling on, what I think are, problems.

46) New glasses - My contacts are definitely not up to par anymore, prescription-wise, so I think I'll be scheduling an eye exam within the next month. Then, I'll look at getting glasses and contacts and recycling my old glasses. I love that frame, but they're just too old now. I think I got more than I could have out of those things. Time to let someone else benefit from them.

73) Farmer's Market - We haven't been in a few months so we're definitely overdue. We ARE picking strawberries this weekend, but that doesn't quite count in my book. Maybe we can go to one in April; there should be some good food to pick from now that spring is here.

84) 365-Day Photo Project - After a failed attempt to start on Jan 1st, we're going to try to restart this one on April 1st (no joke!). Here we go...again. :)

88) See Broadway musical - Tickets bought for Avenue Q on April 16th! I can't wait!!

96) Go camping - It's getting too warm too fast (why am I not used to that yet??), but maybe we can find a weekend in April to go camping one night. If not, we'll just have to wait until the fall. Ugh.

Ok, those are my quick updates for now... With Chris working an earlier shift than before, I'm hoping we can get back in the routine of watching 2-3 movies/week so we can start knocking off more IMDB movies. We've been behind on so much lately. Ok, until next time!!

Thanks for reading...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

(99) Multi-family garage sale

Another goal done! I really wish I had taken SOME sort of pictures, but I totally forgot. Our garage sale was this past Saturday and let's just say it definitely had its share of work. Some friends helped us price stuff late into the night Friday and I was still setting stuff up well into the garage sale. But, I'm super thankful that it didn't rain. It rained constantly for 3-4 days prior and the day after. For how cold it was (low 40's), we had a very steady turnout from about 8-10am. Sadly, that meant I didn't get much of a break that whole time. It was really neat to see things constantly sell though. I volunteered to sell some things for a few friends so I had 3-4 other families' things there so this definitely falls under multi-family. :)

We came out of it $250 richer and with a lot more closet space. While we still had a bunch of stuff leftover, a friend of ours went through it and took several things that night (Christmas in March at his house! Haha). Then on Sunday, we piled the car with clothes and several other items not worth selling on ebay/craigslist and headed to Goodwill down the road. It felt so good to just be done with it all and have that tax deduction receipt.

I've learned that it's a lot of work for a successful garage sale and if we do it again (probably in 2+ years), I'm getting more help for during the festivities. Chris unfortunately had to work that day so it took a toll on me after 6 hours in the cold. I also learned that it's much better to take low-ball offers than to have to deal with the stuff afterward. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

(93) 18" Wheels on the CR-V

This is one of those goals I kept putting off because it was more a luxury than anything else so I didn't want to take that step just yet. Well, I ended up getting an un-fixable flat tire last week and decided to force ourselves to prep the blue 18" wheels we bought a few years ago and buy some much better tires for it. We'll probably put some sportier springs on the car at some point, which will lower it 1.5" and frame the wheels oh-so-nicely, but no rush. Not much else to say so here are some pictures...

Before Just-Like-Every-Other CR-V:

Before Wheels:

During Wheels:

After Unique-New-Hotness CR-V:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

(55) PostSecret

PostSecret done! Meant to post about this earlier, but forgot. There isn't really much to say about it, for obvious reasons. I thought it'd be tough to come up with this, but it wasn't too bad. I meant to take a picture of me dropping the postcard off in the mailbox, but forgot my camera that day. :(

Thursday, February 12, 2009

(54) Movie List

Reservoir Dogs

I can't believe I hadn't seen this all the way through until recently. Then again, I still haven't seen a good amount of Tarantino movies. I can say with certainty that I have definitely developed a much wider appreciation for movies these days. Chris is a total movie addict (he even agreed to it earlier today!) so I've seen tons of movies I never would have otherwise. But anyway, on to Reservoir Dogs....

This was pretty amusing overall, but not really knowing what to expect, I was kind of hoping they'd actually show the bank robbery scene, but if I remember correctly, they only spoke of it. Other than that, it had plenty of twists and action to keep me interested. It almost went too far during the cop interrogation scene, but I normally don't have a problem with gore so other than making a few 'grossed out' faces, it was fine. :) I'm a fan of Buscemi as well as Tim Roth (I need to watch "Four Rooms" again soon) so they made up for any lack of amusement I may have had, which I don't think was often.

While it was a good movie, I don't think I could watch it too often. Unlike "Usual Suspects" or say "Pulp Fiction", there's not as much to catch a second or third time around so if someone wants to watch it, that's fine, but I won't actively seek it out for a while.


First of all, I'll start by saying I have an issue with roaches so picking out the picture above was a little out of the norm for me. I can't look at roach anatomy without being grossed out. I can watch "Reservoir Dogs" just fine, but "Wall-E"s roach grossed me out - the math just doesn't add up. :) But I guess it makes sense that a roach is one of the lone survivors on earth.

Anyway, this was an absolutely CUTE movie and there was definitely something for everyone. There was very little talking in the beginning, but there was so much to take in and so much almost childish interaction between Wall-E and his surroundings, it was fine. It's kind of like in "Castaway" where there was almost no talking, but this was done better...and shorter. The animation was, as expected, absolutely incredible and the whole plot was solid. I'm trying to think of things to say that stood out, but honestly, the whole movie was just fantastic. It was funny, suspenseful, relatively realistic (both the plot and the animation) fully entertained and sent a positive message. :)


Having learned to play/read music at a very young age (piano at 4, flute at 10), I've developed a deep sense of appreciation for classical music. There are definitely pieces that will put me to sleep, I won't deny that, but it still never ceases to amaze me how people can write music and on top of that, compose that into various parts. It blows my mind to have 15 different components of the same melody already mapped out into different instruments or parts. Anyway, I think you get the idea that I'm impressed with composers. :)

I hadn't seen this movie in several years and had forgotten that this was from the early 80's. I picked this movie before realizing it was both the director's cut and therefore 3 hours long (the non-director's cut was "only" 2 hours and 40 minutes). The director's cut adds a little more depth to the story and also makes the movie rated R vs the original PG, but in all honesty, it should have been PG-13 at the most. In any case, this movie highlighted the struggles Mozart went through to get his music known and then the problems with money, his reputation and wife even after having fame and fortune. The acting was great all around and as you've probably already watched the video above, the laugh (based on written accounts of his "chortle") served for some great comic relief.

The plot wasn't all from fact, but hey, you've got to have some artistic license to make the movie more enjoyable and flowing. If it was purely based on fact, it would not have won 8 Academy Awards. It really magnified the beautiful process of creating music and it just had me in awe the whole movie. If you have any appreciation or taste for classical music, I would definitely recommend this movie. If anything, Tom Hulce's laugh will make it all worth it. :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

(74) Mile without stopping

I finally did it! Sure, it's not as fast as I would've liked, but I really had to push myself at this point so it counts. I haven't been to the gym consistently for maybe 3-4 months, I went twice last week (both days on the elliptical) and I've gone Mon-Wed this week (all three days on the treadmill). Tonight, I walked .15 mile and then pushed myself to continue at a solid avg of 4.4 mph to get to 1.15 miles (repeating the song 3-4 times).

I think I need to find a new song though...maybe I'll go through the hundreds of songs I have to find ones at similar speeds. And if you're curious what song I currently (over)use, it's "Corner of the Earth" by Jamiroquai (my favorite musician ever). Here it is for your viewing and listening pleasure:

And now, time for some food before I pass out!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quick random updates

Very quick update so I can feel like I actually made a real post...

Take welding class - I have a friend who can probably teach me so hopefully I can make some time for lessons. It'll definitely be sometime this year.

Read one book/month - I've maybe missed a month, but have been trying really hard to keep motivated to read a book every month. Some of the books were short or in comic form so that's kind of cheating, but each book still requires some level of commitment so that's a big step for me. I need to get the exact titles together so I can actually post up everything I've read. :) The book I hope to start soon is "The Witches of Eastwick" - I feel a little ashamed of the fact that the recent death of the author made me consider this book. I wouldn't have given it a second glance otherwise.

Join a community band - I joined the Band of the Hills and went to my first rehearsal on January 8. I got sick that week so I had to skip the next week's practice, but I've been going consistently since and look forward to our concert in Austin and Houston. I may even stay longer than 6 months, but we'll see where things are by then.

Buy a new bed - I think I more meant to buy a new bed mattress, but this is a step in the right direction. We bought a new MALM platform bed frame from IKEA, which enabled us to get rid of the box spring. I'm so happy about that! Hopefully we can look at a new mattress later this year or early next year.

Visit 5 of USA's top 41 wonders - saw the following during our trip to NY/NJ last month: New York Skyline View, Statue of Liberty, American Museum of Natural History and Times Square at Night. That leaves one more to go! I'll admit that list is a little weird and non-conventional. The Alamo should definitely be on that list, but it's not. Oh well, I picked it so I will have to just go visit other places. :)

See a broadway musical - I just bought tickets to "Avenue Q" on April 16th! I've been trying to see that musical for a while and when I found out it's coming to Austin and tickets are only $20, I had to jump on it. The seats are horrible, but that's alright. :)

Ok, time to get back to my regularly scheduled life... stay tuned!

(87) New recipe every month

Ok, I think I need to make these posts shorter so I don't feel like I'm writing a novel every time I post. I feel like I have so many updates to make, but I never want to sit for several hours at a time to post updates. When I write, I tend to proofread...a lot.

In September, I tried to make yogurt from scratch. My parents have made their own yogurt for years and I wanted to give it a shot. I tried to use store-bought yogurt for the starter culture, but it just didn't produce the same results, but nonetheless, it still produced some semi-firm yogurt that I ate a couple times before throwing out. I made way too much, I think. Here's a picture of the final product:

Then I tried to make Crème Brûlée in... October? Or maybe it was November. Yeah, looking back, I watched Amelie at the same time so it was definitely November. Here are a couple pictures:

I have yet to get a picture of the final product (after torching the sugar layer), but if I wait until I actually catch a picture, I'll never get around to posting this so deal with it. :)

Hm...what else have I made? Oh, last week, I bought a giant bag of baby spinach to get more nutrients while I was sick and I realized I could just cook and reduce it down. I know it's best to eat it raw, but I had some issues chewing so the softer the food, the better. It really reminded me of indian food so it hit the spot. I've tried sauteing it in just butter and in a dash of chicken broth and preferred the latter, flavorwise, but I'm perfectly fine with butter (I use Smart Balance butter blend). Sorry, no pictures of the spinach - deal with it. :)

For December, I needed to come up with some sort of party crock-pot dish and decided to try a cranberry meatball sauce. I did some research online to find any recipes and decided to keep things as simple as possible and use the basic ingredients from those recipes. So... I threw together a can of cranberry sauce and a bottle (or two) of sweet/tangy BBQ sauce. That's it. You have to mash/puree the cranberry sauce to make sure it blends well with the BBQ sauce and then just heat it up with the meatballs. Yum!

Ok, that's all for recipes. I'll update on a few other things soon.