shifting gears

When I signed into blogger, I fully intended to write about how much I loved Benjamin Button - basically to tack on to Chance's short blog last night. And...it really was the best movie I've seen in a very very very long time. But...then I got the air knocked out of me.

Not literally. Figuratively, of course. I just realized today was John's birthday. And...well...that just kinda brought me back to last year, just a few days after Christmas, when I found out John Schuessler wasn't with us any more. There's honestly not much I can say in this blog about it - I'm having trouble verbalizing my thoughts. It's been great to watch Laura come so far through the year, and it's been amazing to see how many people still love him and miss him, and how many lives he affected during his 22 years. It's just sad that he didn't make it to 23. I'm glad he's with the Lord right now, but selfishly, I want to call him and tell him happy birthday. I didn't last year - and I regret that. I messaged him on facebook...but does that count?

Maybe I need to take this into consideration. I've been so bogged down lately with the stress of work and the holidays...it's been hard to balance time with people vs. time getting things done. I keep putting 'hanging out' off until after the holidays. But will it be too late then?

Ugg. Like I said, I can't verbalize. I can't finish this. There's no conclusion, no real 'point' to the blog. Just, needed to say SOMETHING. I miss you, Schuess. Life is precious.

John Schuessler wrote
at 3:36am on May 14th, 2005

Claire, you are an awesome lady. A fine lady of true gentility...and that of the deepest kind...the woman who has Proverbs 31 written on her heart rather than her mind...who has a desire to wife and mother and be a mother to the lonely so that it eats away at you inside. You are someone I treasure...and I only wish I could somehow be there during all those feelings that tear at your heart...but He prepares in darkness what He will reveal in light...and so are you...a woman who is to be so beautiful from heart to smile...that fire is the only thing hot enough to purify such a precious stone...you are a jewel held close to His heart...though feelings do lie...He sings over you as your Beloved totally enraptured with His bride...you. You are beautiful, and it is a huge blessing to me...for reals...to be a small part of your life.-John

buttons buttons

I just wanted to gloat a bit. I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button tonight. A full week before it was released. Big shout out to James for giving Claire and I reserved seats for the show.

I will say one thing: Great movie! Claire even cried. It is one of those epic movies. I highly suggest that you go see it. That is all. I figured with all the complaining we have been doing we could balance it out with some bragging. HA!

pc or bust

No, I'm not talking about being politically correct. If you know me, I am about the last person that cares about that. I am talking about my PC being busted. I love me some computer trouble. I think Claire and I have a curse on our comps. As soon as one of us fixes a problem the others goes out. My most recent problem: my screen shuts off after reboot but the computer continues to run. Yeah not an easy problem to fix when you need a screen to access the information on the computer to fix it. So far I have reformatted the hard drive, purchased a new monitor which is really pretty, ran the computer with the case off, and bought and installed a new power supply for the whole computer. NO luck with any of it. Yes it is slightly frustrating, but at the same time I have a little more time to waste everyday as I am not wasting it on the computer anymore.

If your a computer whiz and have any thoughts on repair that would be great. Other than the pc ordeal Claire and I are just trying to chug along through Christmas. We still have a billion things going on and a billion more to do. Somehow we managed to put off the Christmas picture for our cards until today. Guess how cold it was outside today, yes thats right 32 degrees. Not exactly the nicest day for outdoor photos. But sometimes you learn, as a husband, you just suffer through what the wife wants. Yeah it was cold, and it involved a lot yelling and arguing but for dang sure these cards will be full of Christmas cheer. HA! I am glad Claire wants to do them although I hate the process. Brewster wasn't to happy being out in the cold either.

The other fun event of the day: Allergy Testing. Results: I am allergic to everything but dog. No seriously. The only thing not itching on my back today was dog, cat, cockroach(yeah gross), and some rare mold. Everything else made me swell up and itch like crazy. The antidote: 5 different medicines and the possibility of shots in the future. Oh well, at least now I know what causes my allergies......air with any particle of anything in it. I try to keep a good attitude but sometimes everything comes together all at once and you feel a bit overwhelmed. Claire is feeling it, as am I. I work about 90 hours through Christmas eve so I have little time off to accomplish anything and today we got very little done other than discover I shouldn't go outside and my computer has a unsolvable hardware problem.

Tis the season for joy!

I am not really that bitter! Just somewhat full of sarcasm. I hope everyone's Christmas season is going well so far and they are all done with errands and shopping!

christmas dash

My time off has been mostly consumed by Christmas. I don't think I really wanted it this way. But when you have parties to go to, presents to buy/make, food to make, friends visiting, work to run you down, and a billion other things going on you kinda lose track of time. Well I do anyways. I have been wanting to post about some great dishes I cooked up over the past few weeks with recipes and pictures included. Time has slipped away and I still haven't posted. Don't fret though..I will get them on here for everyone to delight in. I am sure y'all just can't wait. For now it will have to be wrapping and planning and checking off lists. Maybe on vacation in January I will put up some interesting blog stuff.

I think at this point I am more excited about vacation than I am Christmas. Really, who wouldn't be after working for 15 straight months. Whew I'm tired.

Oh, and just to throw this out there like everyone else has been today. It snowed last night. Not the real snow that you see up north or even in Amarillo where there are large visible snow flakes. But the flurry white stuff that you can only tell the difference between it and sleet because it kinda floats rather than pelts. Exciting non-the-less. I love the cold weather.

decisions, decisions...

I've been debating for the past week or so which point and shoot camera Chance and I should get...and I'm making no progress, really. Every electronic piece of equipment we purchase is an absolute ordeal with me. It always has been - since I can remember - since I've been purchasing electronics. You may think I'm terrible with decisions anyway, which is true, but the electronic factor multiplies the indecisiveness by 10,000. I'm not kidding. It took me a month to pick out a digital slr three years ago (shoot, I think that's when it was), a couple of days to decide on a TV, and several weeks to pick out a printer which we didn't even end up getting. Chance doesn't care, as long as it's good - he's pleased. As for me - I want to make sure I'm getting the best product for the price, and the most fitting to us. This whole process can be quite tedious.

At first instinct (prior to doing my research) Chance and I had decided to probably go with the Canon 1100sd. Our friend Hollie has it, and it seemed good enough - and it was $150 on Amazon. Just at our price point. Then it occurred to me that someone MIGHT get it for us for Christmas, and might be able to spend 20 bucks more - which opened up a whole new range of products (mostly Canon).

Part of the problem I'm having with this decision is due to my mind changing. Originally I thought I NEEDED a viewfinder. Not having one (and just having a larger lcd) irked me...and made me feel like I was missing out on something. Now I know viewfinders in p&s's aren't exactly accurate, but good in case the sun is shining so brightly that you can't see your lcd. Now - I'm not as convinced that I need one (which also opens up another range of possibilities).

I can't decide exactly what I want in a camera. It will be our secondary camera - our 'fun' camera - our backup - our quickly accessable and carryable camera. And I've read reviews and posted on message boards but I can't seem to get a straight answer. WHICH IS BEST? WHICH IS PERFECT FOR US? Ugg.

I'm debating between the Canon SD1100, the Canon SD770, the Canon SD790, and the Panasonic Lumix TZ4.

I know Susan has expressed her love for the 1100, and Elizabeth and James have pretty much said kudos to Canon in general...but I want help. Which should we choose, and WHY?

Hellllllp.

my toes might fall off...

...because it's so SO SO cold in our house. Lol. Oops. This morning when I got up around 8:45 it was a frigid 64 degrees. It's inched its way up to 65 or 66 by now, but still...it's dang cold in our house. I can't really complain - I made it that way. I have this thing about turning on the heat - I just hate doing it. It always smells funny when you turn it on for the first time that year, and it makes me feel slightly like I'm suffocating, so I avoid it like the plague. No one told me how cold it was gonna' be last night though! Goodness! I think I've succumbed to Chance's wishes and will probably turn it on tonight, but I'm sitting here in big fuzzy slipper socks, fingerless gloves, and sweats and eating oatmeal to avoid doing it right this second. I know. I'm crazy. But how many of you have turned your heat on already? Eh?

Well - we didn't mean to fall off the face of the earth - or...quit blogging, but somehow we just totally stopped for 4 days after NaBloPoMo ended. That wasn't our intention. I kinda wanted to keep it up. Oh well. Here I am now - that's what matters, right? (:

As you all know, our Thanksgiving week was a blast...and the weekend following was great as well. Our house is all ready for the holidays, and we've gotten to have a few friends over since then. On Monday night, we celebrated Natalie's birthday (better late than never). Some of you might remember Natalie - she's the precious friend who made me one of the best gifts ever.

I got the table all decorated for Christmastime - I even finally put something in our photo coasters that have been empty for 2 years (still not what I WANT to do with them, but good for the holidays).


Chance made his yummy turkey (leftover) enchiladas. I craved these things ALL year long, so it was great to finally have them again!


We had so much fun talking and laughing with Natalie,

and then we had her birthday pie (Buckeye Pie, sans Buckeyes).

I forgot to get candles, but oh well. I think she liked it anyway. It was actually slightly too rich for me (which may be a first), but it was relatively tasty. I think my chocolate icebox pie is better though...(sorry Nat)!

Chance took some goofy pictures of us, because I realized it'd been about 4 years since we had a picture together. Dang. We needed to fix that, and we STILL need to get some better ones (note to self : don't wear hoodies in photos).


And I got to give Nat her present I'd been working on - a scarf! I got the idea from Beth's blog and just edited it a little. Nat's got it on in the pictures...over her other beautiful coral-colored scarf from Europe. Lol. But here's what it looks like on its own:


We had a pretty awesome night - which was only followed by a relatively good rest-of-the-week-so-far. We had lunch at Obee's on Monday with (and provided by) Emily and Charlie, Tuesday was a lost day (I have NO CLUE what happened), Wednesday night was small group at Howie's, and Thursday Nicole came over for lunch, and Tiffany came over for Dinner/Grey's Anatomy. So - it's been pretty great (minus all the errands and appointments of yesterday, but those weren't TERRIBLE either). I'm ready for the weekend, even though ours technically doesn't start til Sunday...but we might get to see my sister tonight - so that'd be pretty cool! That is...if my appendages don't freeze off first.

let there be light

Today was a first. We lit the house with lights. After Church, and then lunch with new friends and old friends we headed home to finish our Christmas decorations. It was the first time I have ever attempted to light the roof of a home, much less my home. Thanks to Claire's cousin Howie we were afforded the lights we needed to make our home the envy of the neighborhood.

After a surprisingly easy two hours of applying clips and snapping the lights on to shingles we were all set to go. The only hindrance was the 30 mph wind and cold gusts threatening to blow us off the roof. We prevailed in the end and now have all our Christmas decor done. Something strange ensues after Thanksgiving, every day off seems extraordinarily great. We made new friends, had a good time with old ones, put up decorations, ate some thanksgiving leftovers and topped it all off by relaxing out a local coffee shop and doing some reading.

We only have more of the same planned for tomorrow. Well that is if you exclude taking the jeep into the shop. Hopefully once we get whatever is wrong with it fixed, it will continue to be reliable for another good 5 or 6 years. We shall see. Anyways, just thought I would post a note on how great the days off have been lately. Hopefully they continue to be that way all the way up and through my vacation in January. Can't wait for that week off.

o christmas tree...

Sorry my blog last night was a rant - when I sat down to write I was exhausted - and the whole Brewster incident had just occurred (apparently Brewster ALSO bit Chance and broke skin...grr). I had intended to blog about our WONDERFUL day after Thanksgiving, but I got distracted by the situation at hand.

So...without further adieu, the day after Thanksgiving story commences. Ha.

Chance was off of work (thank GOODNESS) after having worked almost constantly for four days. We allowed ourselves to sleep in a little...and when we woke up it was nearly time for lunch. The doorbell woke us up - some guy who thought we called in for our dryer to be repaired. That never happened, unless I did it in my sleep. Nothing is wrong with our dryer. Anyway - he must have written down the address incorrectly or something. Oh well - it got us out of bed. (:

We hadn't yet decided if we were going to take it easy, or put up Christmas decorations. We ended up doing the latter (after eating some delicious homemade soup - I'll let Chance tell you all about that since he made it).

It only took us a few hours...well, probably about 5 after it was all said and done, to decorate. It was fun to get all of our things down from the attic and see what we had to decorate with - things we'd forgotten about, and things we loved putting up last year.

We turned on the Christmas music channel on the tv and half made-fun-of, half sang along with the classic holiday tunes. We talked, laughed, and enjoyed each others' company while we put up the tree.


It was raining outside the first part of the day, but once that was over we went outside to begin decorating the outside. I re-lit the garland and pulled grass/weeds out of our currently vacant flowerbed (so that we can plant winter plants asap), while Chance put lights on the bushes. He lit one of the two trees in our front yard, but we decided it looked skimpy/silly so he took those lights down and used them on the fence instead.

Last year, I created a pretty crummy wreath out of some extra garland. When we pulled it out of the box it was squished and looked terrible, so I decided to reshape it. I thought a "P" wreath would be different and more appropriate.


I can't claim all the credit, I'd seen the idea in a blog I read. And, well, theirs look better. But I'm pretty happy with it considering I just used things we had laying around the house, and no form.

We called it quits at dusk. We're still considering lighting the roof - Howie gave us some big lights so we might do that on Sunday or Monday. We're not sure - we didn't even decorate this much last year.


But...it was a fun day. I LOVE the day after Thanksgiving. Leftovers, decorating for Christmas....it's so much fun. (:

Especially the sleeping in part. After last year's escapade with Nicole to the Black Friday sales at 4am, I decided that sleeping was more worth it this year - and that put me in a better mood for the whole day!

Today I've cleaned the car and the house (the car REALLY needed a good vacuuming) cuz Chance's allergies are terrible. The rest of the day: work. But that's okay. Chance has two more days off this week! I'm thrilled. Shoot, I think the spirit of Christmas is upon me. It must be - I'm not generally in this good of a mood on Saturdays!

the dog whisperer

Shoot. I need Cesar Milan to come to our house. Brewster seems to have this bad habit of biting people who try to move him/pick him up/wake him up when he's laying on the futon or in his bed. I can't really figure it out. Chance and I have been watching the Dog Whisperer tonight trying to get some tips...but we're trying - and it's not working yet. Cesar would probably say it's my fault because of the vibe I'm getting off because I'm slightly scared of getting bit again, and slightly angry at Brewster for being such a butt. Tonight is the first time I've EVER seen Brewster respond negatively to Chance. He generally doesn't misbehave when Chance is home - only when I'm home alone (great, so if I lose an arm I won't be able to drive myself to the hospital).

...I guess that's not the only destructive behavior - there's his digging too. I think we've already mentioned that. He's gotten out 3 times in the past 2 weeks. Ugg.

We're gonna have to get some help, I'm pretty sure. Unless we can figure out how to correct his bad behavior on our own. That's the only time he's really mean, or in attack mode. Weird.

I AM 'friends' with Cesar on Twitter. Lol. Maybe he can help me. Persistence pays off I guess. Hopefully there won't be too many battle scars.

thankful for friends

I think Claire and I are in full agreement when I say Thanksgiving is the best holiday ever. Those pilgrims really did a good job with that food agreement they worked out with the Indians. I can eat as much as I want...in fact I had two slices of pie today. I will probably have one more before bed.

After working 45 of the past 75 hours I was ready for Thanksgiving. This year's Thanksgiving was just what I needed. My store and my managers did a great job. We had the best labor % in the city, as well as a solid gain over last year. So I have to brag a little about our success. When it was all said and done, I was very ready for it to be done. After I got off work at 2 today, I headed over to Charlie and Emily's who were kind enough to open their home for Claire and I to enjoy the festivities.


With a plethora of food, no one went wanting. We had sweet potato soufflé, green been casserole, broccoli rice casserole, sweet corn casserole, shrimp diablo, a cheese ball, crab dip, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, rolls, brussell sprouts, Greenberg turkey, and fried turkey.


It was all amazing. Charlie's fried turkey was great and all the casseroles were perfect.


It was a spot on traditional thanksgiving with great friends. Afterwards we had our fill of pecan, pumpkin, and Claire's chocolate ice box pie. We bummed around, took naps, and watched football. I won't speak of the sadness the Aggies have left us with. Maybe someday they can turn around the program and actually have a decent season. Just maybe. Until then I will enjoy my Thanksgiving holiday and food whether we win or lose.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you ate way too much, took a long nap, and can enjoy some delicious left-overs tomorrow!

aaaah thanksgiving

I'm kinda sad that we don't get to spend T-day with either of our families this year. Last year would have been our first time without family - but Chance's Aunt Ann stepped in to save the day! We were able to head down to Kyle, TX and feast with Chance's aunts, uncles, and cousins - it was a ton of fun to spend time with family we should see often, but rarely do.

This year will mark the first year that either one of us won't be seeing family for Thanksgiving. Chance's family is mostly in the panhandle, and we're not entirely sure what the family members nearest us are doing. Some of my family will be in Tyler for the holiday and the other part of my family is headed to Dallas to check out the Gaylord Texan for their Thanksgiving feast. Sounds like a blast...but this year we can't make it.

But you know what? That's QUITE alright. We're still having Thanksgiving with our family (of sorts) right here in Austin. We're gonna give thanks this year at the Rajeh's house...with Charlie and Emily and their family. I'm so happy that we were invited to share in one of my favorite holidays with them. Chance and I really enjoy relaxing at their place on a semi-regular (we wish it were more regular) basis anyway, so why not do it on the most relaxing holiday of all? (:

I just finished making my first ever Broccoli Rice Casserole, the one item Chance said he wouldn't want to miss this time around. I've started on my first cheese ball (we'll see how that turns out, I improvised), and am mostly finished with my chocolate icebox pie (my favorite)! My daddy and Karen were sweet enough to send us a Greenberg Turkey (from Tyler) again this year...I can't wait to enjoy that too!

I'm headed over to Emily's now to see if I can help with anything, and I'm SURE we'll be over there all day tomorrow (at least, Chance'll join us when he gets off work at 2). So, if you don't hear anything from me until late tomorrow evening, that's just cuz I'm stuffing myself with wonderous food.

This is a bad holiday for gluttons. It's like having an alcohol related holiday that recovering alcoholics are forced to partake in. I've been doing fairly decent with the whole eating healthy thing (and at least I've been making it to the gym a couple times a week)...so maybe this won't do me in. Let's hope not. If I'm still gorging in a week or so, someone stop me. Tell me I'm fat or something. Anything. I don't want to add another chin.

a long day just got longer

Well...it's 7:45pm but it feels like midnight already. The days when Chance works a lot of hours just drag on like nobody's business. Today's no exception.

Chance had to be at work at 7:30 this morning (yeah, 12 hours ago)...and I couldn't make myself wake up in time to take him. Part of it was my fault, I'd stayed up a little too late reading. Part of it was the fault of my dreams, those boogers exhaust me. And part of it was the knowledge that today would be long no matter what, but if I slept a little later it might not seem as long. So, I couldn't force myself out of bed, therefore Chance has the Jeep at work with him.

The day was going about normal speed until it started getting dark. The darker it got, the slower it got, and now I feel like time's not movng. And unfortunately, I just received word that he's not sure when he'll be home. According to Chance it could be "any time between 11pm and 1am". Fun times! Now, I shouldn't be the one complaining, he should be. But since he's not here, I'll just whine a bit for him.

Things had been going really smoothly for their T-day setup...and everything was in place, they were actually a little ahead of the game, and Thanksgiving sales tomorrow seemed like they'd be a piece of cake - until the vault went out. The vault is their refrigerator which should currently be holding all of their turkeys, but they've had to move them all to a cooled truck so that the vault can be replaced. The coils decided to melt at the absolute worst time possible: the day before their turkeys all go out...so tonight they've got to deal with the setback.

Poor Chance. That'll make a 15 to 17 hour day for him. He's gonna be exhausted. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, and if things go well on Thursday maybe he can have a decent Thanksgiving afternoon.

The days like today...I hate. I should have gotten up with him this morning, but I was already dreading the day. Now I'm miserable - I should have at least gone outside this afternoon. It's these days that I SHOULD get a ton of work done. I SHOULD get plenty done around the house as well...but these are the days that slow me down. I wonder why that is? I can get so much more done in 8 hours away from Chance than I do when he's gone for 15. Terrible, but true. He should be coming home to a spotless house, a hearty meal, laundry cleaned and put away (which might happen), and 2 or 3 finished projects (you know - wedding photos edited, paintings completed, things organized). But he's not.

Sorry - there's really no point to this one. I just thought I'd whine a little for the both of us since Chance won't have the time.

I'm not lovin' you...way I wanted to...

Yeah. Kanye says it pretty well. "I'm in love with you, but the vibe is wrong and that haunted me all the way home." My sentiments (about the Twilight movie) exactly.

If you don't feel like reading a relatively long winded blog, then read this for a relatively accurate review. I agree with most of her thoughts on the film - but I think she's a BIT more hostile toward it than I am.

Really, I shouldn't get so worked up about a movie - I mean, not enough to blog about it in detail. But, seeing as how I've been obsessing over the books for the past...uh...week - I might as well go ahead and tell you how I really feel.

I'm glad I waited until today to write this rant - I'll rant a little less this way, since I got most of it out to Chance last night. I also told Chance I'd pay him $25 to read Twilight (at least the first book)...so I'm really hoping he'll read it. I'd love to discuss it with him. It's already hard enough to not discuss my other obsession (Grey's Anatomy), and not talking Twilight is getting to be too much. I've already spoiled quite a bit for him, but oh well.

If you haven't read the books, or seen the movie - you might not want to keep reading. **SPOILER ALERT**. Unless, of course, your name is Elizabeth Crockett and you really like to spoil stories yourself before you start reading them. (:

I KNOW the film was low budget (as if $37 mil isn't a large enough chunk of money to produce a pretty decent movie)...but most of my qualms aren't about the CG. I mean - yeah, when Edward sparkles he looks slightly like tinkerbell, and his jumping around from tree to tree like a monkey didn't exactly look the most realistic...but I don't care too much about those things. I'll forgive them that.

What I'm having a hard time dealing with is the MINOR details. I know they had to 'dumb' some things down for the audience...but they dumbed them down to a point where (and I've read this several places) non novel readers have a hard time following. Case in point: Chance. When we were discussing particular things after the movie, I'd say something like -"You know, when Bella went out of town to go dress shopping" - his response, "They were out of town?" - just to name one instance. Chance claims he was mostly lost for the first half of the movie. Can't blame him. The flashback scenes - those were terrible, as was the dream Bella had. I said I wouldn't dog effects - but...those were just bad.

I understand that they only had 2 hours to fit 500 pages into, but maybe they could have still had two dances (girls-ask and prom)- so that the dynamics of things with Eric and Mike could have been different - how they were supposed to be. Her group of friends seemed mostly shallow and immature - and they shouldn't have come off that way. Her friends in the novel were pretty cool, I thought. Even Eric - the nerd. (Newspaper? Really?)

I know to save the time of Jacob having to explain who he was when they met at the beach - they introduced him at the beginning of the movie. But that ruined a lot of their dynamic, I thought. He was over the top flirty from the beginning. Too much. It was things like that though - introducing characters incorrectly, having her first day of school all wrong (In the book, she got there early so people DIDN'T stare at her, and she felt more like she fit in than in AZ - in the movie, she got there and everyone was there - staring at her, then suddenly - she fit in *Chance was lost*), getting the van scene wrong (Edward didn't just jump up and leave her in the book), going on a field trip (what field trip?), using google to find out what Edward really was (REALLY?), and having her get ready at HER house WILLINGLY for prom, amongst a slew of other things.

Their conversations also really bugged me. Chance even went so far as to turn to me and ask me if Edward was supposed to be "special". And not the "chosen" or "awesome" sort of way. There could have been a lot more talking (like there was in the book) and a lot less of Bella's idiotic narration. Down with the screenwriter.

What REALLY irked me were the most miniscule details - the ones that could have been easily changed without throwing the budget. In the movie, Bella wears a sneaker to prom - whereas in the book she wears a heel. And Charlie changing the tires on her truck and telling her - totally made the viewer miss the sweetness of Charlie waking up super early to put chains on her tires, and her not noticing 'til later.

I also missed the things they left out: explanations of some of the Cullens' histories, more of the Cullens' house (Carslile's office in particular), Bella cooking meals for Charlie, the fainting scene, the lullaby - WOW. I really could go on for days about everything I disliked. I mostly enjoyed Rob P.'s take on Edward (besides the slow-talking nonsense, and some of his added-in lines - "Google it"), but Kristen's take on Bella was a bit too stammer-ish.

I've gone on long enough - but I could probably go on for a few days longer. I've talked to friends who saw the film and really did like it. I don't want to discourage people from seeing it, but I'd HIGHLY recommend the books over the movie any day. I honestly think (and hope) New Moon will be a better book-to-film translation, because I'm sure the budget will be much higher after this one's success. And I'll still see it. And I MIGHT even watch Twilight again (after it comes out on video, just to TRY to like it a little better). But for now, I'll stick with the books - they truly are magical.

**END RANT. END SPOILER**

Other than the Twilight disappointment, yesterday was truly excellent. Church was great, as usual. Anthony's sermon was good, and the boys in the band blew me away with their rendition of Be Somebody by Kings of Leon. It was really one of the best covers I've ever heard. Chance and I went to Borders so I could pick up Eclipse, and then headed to the Steeping Room for lunch. If you live in Austin and haven't been, you should. We forgot to take the camera, but maybe Chance will still review it in his blog. The feel of the place was very European-bistro-ish. It was well lit by a wall of windows, and the green fuzzy carpet made it feel as if you were outside in a park, almost. We shared a tea service - complete with two sandwiches, tea cookies, a scone, and a slice of lemon cake - and of course, TEA! We had their Beautiful Coconut green tea, and it was scrumptious. It was such a fun place, and a pretty good deal too - we're DEFINITELY going back soon. I have a lot of good things to say about it for sure.

Mid-afternoon we went to the movie (after going home and hanging with the pups for a bit), and we came home and enjoyed Chance's remake of my birthday salad. It was great - light and flavorful - just like the first time.

We decided to head out for the evening on our second coffee shop adventure. We went to Epoch first, one of the only (if not THE only) 24 hour coffee shop in Austin. It was jam packed. We found two chairs, but they were in opposite corners of the room (and couldn't be moved), so we decided to try the next place on our list - Genuine Joe's. They closed at 11, but that was no biggie. And there were probably only 4 other people there the whole time. We were able to sit on a big puffy couch and enjoy an Orange Mocha and a Pumpkin Latte while we read our books. We both really enjoyed it - the ONLY con was the bad music (but I'm sure that changes from time to time). They were playing some sort of cajun-louisiana-boggy sounding jams. I don't really even know how to explain it, but it was obnoxious. Just not bad enough for me to refuse to go back. We'll probably still try Epoch again - it had a good vibe, but it was just way over-crowded.

It was such a good day - it was a shame to ship Chance off to work today, especially since Monday is supposed to be a day off. I can't complain too much though - his thanksgiving schedule isn't TERRIBLE. Well, he might argue with me there. But it seems like he has more time off than normal (in a bizarre way). Today he's working 9-2, then 5-8, so I'll get to see him for a few hours (yay!). Tomorrow and Wednesday he works from 7:30am - 10pm, and Thursday he works from 7:30am -2ish. We'll have thanksgiving afternoon/evening together, then he's off Friday. He'll work again all day Saturday - then back to his normal schedule of having Sun/Mon off. Not terrible, but it could be better. Sure he's not ready for two 14.5 hr days in a row. Wish him luck!

I'm off to get some more work done now. Just thought I'd blog while I had it on my mind. And if anyone read that...I'm amazed, and sorry I'm so long winded.

more on this later, but...

I just thought I'd let you know I think I may lose my lunch. That's right. The Twilight movie was THAT bad. I'm hoping I don't lose my lunch though - my lunch was quite good the first time around. I'll fill you in later (or, maybe Chance will). But...I just thought I'd inform you. Save your money. MAYBE rent it. Maybe. Ugh. Gag.

dadgummit.

So, we totally missed November 22nd - I mean, in a technical sense (blog-wise). Ugh. I'm frustrated. We'd been doing so well for NaBloPoMo...and then we got home too late for our post to count (it's 1:22 AM). Darnit. I guess it's not really a big deal at ALL, but I thought it'd be neat to be in the running for some of the treats they've got at the end of the whole deal. I'm mostly disappointed in myself - we blogged 21 days straight....and on day 22, we slacked. I could have blogged earlier in the day, but I didn't - I was too preoccupied with work, grocery shopping, and preparing for the crazy night tonight was.

Jordin Sparks seemingly took over north-central Austin, so I wasn't able to make my trip to Borders, although I DID try. Several different ways. She was performing at the Christmas Tree lighting at the Domain, and although I wouldn't have minded seeing her, I REALLY wanted to hit up Borders to buy Eclipse. No luck. It would have taken me 3 hours to find a parking spot.

I did make it over to Jen's brother - Ben's....in Round Rock. And...Chance made it a little later (after I left and picked him up from work). Most of our small group was there, plus a few extra folks. We watched the Tech slaughter (sorta. I didn't personally care at all), and played Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band. That was a ton of fun. Crazy antics, lemme tell ya'.

Anyway. Both of us are feeling like it's pointless to blog daily now that we've 'missed' a day due to technicality. I guess that's what we get for putting it off til the evening.So...you may hear from us tomorrow (and the week that we've got left in the month), or you may not hear from us at all. I'm guessing you will, because I think we may see Twilight tomorrow. Lol.It's stupid that missing a 'goal' can make you feel this sad. Barely. Gah. We're both kicking ourselves.

Would you look at that...I must have ready my clock wrong! It's only 11:22! HA! Freaking out about nothing. (:

Crap. Now I'm gonna be freaking about about God striking me down. But whatever. Post options have their perks.

chance's hiccups make me gag

Seriously. Chance is sitting next to me hiccuping. Generally, when he has the hiccups, they last about 3 seconds...normally I'M the one who hiccups for an hour without stopping. Well, apparently when he has the chance to hiccup more than 3x in a row, they sound like he's dry heaving. No lie. At first, when I heard the noise I thought it was Freddie about to throw up (because that's what it sounds like). Uggg. I feel bad for him, cuz I know how much I hate the hiccups, but really - I've never heard any this gross. Maybe it's just because I'm full. But eww.

Sorry about that. Hope none of you have super weak stomachs.

So, I was reading a blog a couple of weeks ago and stumbled across a post on this study. I don't know if I found it interesting because it was so colorful or what...but it's a pretty stinking cool study - about how people feel emotions. It's honestly hard for me to explain, so you should really check out the site...but it was cool to see how people visualize how they feel. I was pretty set on posting a screenshot so you could see what I was talking about (which would make you want to VISIT the site) but unfortunately itunes has rendered the rest of my computer dysfunctional, so just trust me and check out that link. Lol. Wow. That just ruins the post.

Also - stuck in my current obsession - do any of our Austin readers have the last two books in the twilight series? I'm trying to avoid buying eclipse at full price, but I can't wait for it to be shipped. I can buy the 4th one online...but...I know I don't have the patience to wait for the 3rd to come in the mail. Its sad, but true. And the Pflugerville library has all the books checked out (I'm pretty sure they only have one copy of each. hrmph.) We hit up two half price books tonight too (I'm going back to one tomorrow)...and they said they're flying off the shelves. They'll put one out and it's gone within the hour. So...wish me luck. It's weird, I dunno if I've ever been quite this obsessed with reading before. Not since 3rd grade, really.

scatterbrained

Last night, as Chance touched on, in small group we talked about life...and how fragile it is. Well, that was part of the whole 'bigger' picture. But life IS fragile. I was driving to south Austin tonight and a fairly bad accident happened just two cars behind me on the lower level of 35. It was one of those things that made me realize as a human being...my life could end at any second...and it made me thankful to be alive...and where I was at the time. Had I left my house 2 seconds later I might have been in that accident. Wow. I'm grateful I wasn't.

On a lighter note, Meiko's album is selling for $1.99 on Amazon right now, and although I haven't listened to it yet - I'm PRETTY sure it's great. It's been on my list of cds to buy for a while, but - heck - you can't really beat $1.99.

I'm truly scattered tonight. My thoughts are everywhere, I'm sleepy, but I'm working on a 'secret project' and I REALLY want to finish the second Stephenie Meyer book, New Moon. I'm obsessed. Unfortunately, the third book is checked out at the library, so I may have to hit up half price tomorrow. I can't believe I'm this hooked.

I also want to apologize because my blogging has been subpar lately, while Chance's has been pointedly interesting. Hopefully I can remedy that soon. I think its the pressure I'm feeling from NaBloPoMo (I know, no one is forcing us to do it)...and I always wait til the last minute to write something...and by this point in the day I'm exhausted and every ounce of wit has been drained from my body. So, I'll work on it. I'm just crossing our fingers that we don't lose all of our beloved readers in the meantime.

blinding lights

Claire and I now know we have healthy eyes. In her case she is just a bit far-sighted. In my case, well, I might as well be blind without some sort of vision enhancing equipment. But beyond degradation of vision our eyeballs are healthy and without pestilence. Today was the first time I have had my eyes dilated at the optometrist. Let's just say it was weird when I was done. Everything was really bright and slightly blurry. So going outside at 5pm in the middle of dusk was some what traumatic. We managed however.

After the blinding light we went to small group and had some delicious homemade butternut squash soup that Hollie made. After that I managed to squeeze in a few slices of fresh baked banana bread. Man that Hollie is a good cook.

Speaking of eye-opening, small group was interesting tonight. We discussed breathing. We discussed how old Christians had the belief that your breath and the spirit were one and the same. Also that the name Yahweh when pronounced in the Hebrew was believed to have the same sounds as breathing. The word is all vowel like noises that correspond with the breathing. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong on that. I am just going off of Rob Bell's word. In essence we breathe the name of God. Now I know I don't discuss religion on here a lot, and this isn't necessarily a religious post. What it is, is a chance to take a step back and analyze my words, how I speak to others, and what frivolous things I spend my day talking about. Rather than encourage I end up destroying. Whether you are a Christian or not, some times we need to take time to step back and see if we are encouraging those around us or causing a nest of confusion. Hopefully we can use our breaths to do good. Whether it just be a nice hello or a deep conversation that builds on a friendship.

book vs. space

I've started to notice lately that I've been getting on facebook about 10,000x more than MySpace. Strange, too....I was just the opposite a few months back - rarely checking facebook but on MySpace every 5 minutes. So, what's the deal?

Why do we change our internet habits suddenly and randomly?

I started blogging back in 2003 on Live Journal. That lasted about a year, and then I made the switch to Xanga, shortly after I joined Facebook. A few months to a year later, I joined MySpace. And since then...I quit blogging on Xanga...blogged a bit on MySpace, and then ventured over here (after a period of not blogging). Now that we've got a more 'official' blog (for some reason I feel like blogger/wordpress are so much more official than Xanga/LJ - why is that?)...I feel like I've finally settled in to my 'place' on the interwebs. It took me so long to get here...that by the time I did all of the bloggers from blogs I frequent have dwindled, or quit. Many of the people that inspired me to write and get a blog have either completely stopped blogging, or taken to doing it very very rarely. And the people I used to talk to on MySpace, are all now over on facebook or twitter. It's hard to keep up with everyone. Why can't we just consolidate? And...why do we flip flop so much?

I'm just curious. Is anyone else experiencing a phenomenon like this? I guess Elise's blog today really got me thinking. That, and a text message I recieved from my friend Sherrice saying she'd sent me a MySpace message DAYS ago and I hadn't responded. I hadn't even thought to check it, which surprised me, because at some point a few months ago I wouldn't have gone an hour without checking it. And now...I'm allllll over facebook, when a few months ago I swore I wouldn't use it anymore because they'd changed the layout. When's facebook going to become obsolete? The whole Web 2.0 world is terribly difficult to keep up with.

Anyone have any thoughts on any of this? I'm just curious. I'd waste so much less time if things were simplified...but for now, I guess I'll keep checking 10 different websites every 5 minutes.

makes me wanna scooby do

This weekend was pretty great...really - thanks for asking!

For the first time in QUITE a while, it actually felt like we had a complete two day weekend (although Chance DID have to work a few hours this morning). It was much better than the past couple of months have been with him working on Sundays in the middle of the day. Chance and I were able to go to church and lunch (with Elizabeth and Blaine @ Zocalo - FUN!) - which is totally not typical these days. We ended up with a lot of time to talk, relax (see Chance's last post), and get a few things done on Saturday and Sunday.

Our weekend was pretty full, and I won't detail the entire thing, but today was pretty darn busy. We spent a majority of the day searching out a potential vehicle (minus the two hours we were at Obees visiting Emily and Charlie - eating lunch - and taking Emily a nasty hot dog which she was craving). I'm pretty sure we've narrowed it down to two vehicle choices...the Mazda 3 and the Toyota Camry. Yes, we know that these cars are in two different size classes...that's part of the decision. But we're pretty settled. We've also decided that WHEN we buy, we'll most likely buy a new car (which we originally intended NOT to do). Due to financing/interest rates and the cars we're looking at, it generally would only be about $20-$50 more a month to own a brand new car with warranty, etc...so...yeah. But we also made the decision NOT to buy right now, unless we can get the EXACT deal we want - because honestly, we don't NEED a second car. We want one, but we're surviving just fine without. It's kinda nice to have all that off our backs - knowing that we're not tethered to NEEDING a car...knowing we can buy when we want and that we hace control over how much we pay ---it's all so relieving! At the end of the day, part of me felt like we'd wasted 6 or 7 hours of our lives test driving/searching/dealing with dealers...but really, I feel much better now that we've been through it and know what we want.

So, that's one accomplishment from this weekend. We also gorged a little, which I wouldn't necessarily call an accomplishment, but...eating a Cookie Monster at Cheddars + Frito Pie at Obees could almost be considered just that. The scale won't thank me tomorrow.

Accomplishment #3 (if you choose to claim the aforementioned as an accomplishment) is that I started and finished a book that I deemed 'way too huge to read' in about 6 hours. I swallowed it, if you will. I honestly didn't want to like Twilight - I'm not a big fan of reading what's popular just because it's popular, but Nicole forced the first two books in the series on me, and I had to oblige. I started reading Twilight at Thunderbird, and finished it off when I woke up this morning (I was nearly finished when I put the book down at 3:45AM). Ha. I'd recommend it to nearly anyone to read. It's so incredibly intense - just beautiful. I can't wait to start the next in the series. I'm craving it, actually. But no, this doesn't mean I'll concede and read the Harry Potter books. NEVER! I'll stick with vampire love stories for now - much more dark and interesting than kids and magic. (:

That Stephanie Meyer - she's got skillz (of the storytelling kind, at least). (: I'm SO ready for the movie. (:

EDIT: At least, I thought I was ready for the movie. Now I'm not so sure. I just re-watched the preview, and I'm concerned about some of the locations. Most of them are 100% what I pictured, but one of them in particular....is completely wrong. And the acting, not so sure about that either. But then again, can movies EVER be as great as books? And speaking of movies as books, does anyone have any knowledge of when Time Traveler's Wife is actually going to make its debut? Seems all release dates have been removed from IMDB. Great.

sos

Unlike Claire my short post will actually be short.

We went to Thunderbird Coffee tonight to relax and read. It was a great place to just hang out have a latte and enjoy a good book. Which we did. However, we found the lack of comfortable seating to be an issue. There are only two couches and two comfy chairs. The rest is hard chairs and tables. So I am calling on you, my faithful readers for help. This is a SOS for your opinions on some of the best coffee shops in Austin. We want a place preferably no farther south than where Guadalupe and Lamar split and it must have comfy seating, good coffee, and preferably a cool vibe. Any neighborhood shops would be great. We tend to shy away from Starbucks, not because we are stuck up or think it's bad (it's actually quite tasty) but just because we are adventurous and like to check out the local scene.

Start sending your suggestions....now!

my head's hurting, so this'll be short

My head's hurting...and I think I know why.

Tonight I had a nice little adventure. My friends Tiffany and Lauren invited me to dinner....Lauren was in from Dallas visiting and I haven't seen her in almost two years, so I was pretty excited about hanging out for a little bit. We ventured out to Magnolia Cafe after the two hot chicas got dolled up for their evening out. We met up with Lauren's friend Jessie and had a great time just eating and chatting. Afterward, Tiffany and I said goodbye to Lauren and Jessie and went separate ways. Tiffany was planning on meeting up with them later but had to take me back to my car so that I could make it to Bill Miller to pick Chance up by 10:15.

That's when the adventure kicked in. We were driving down Annie Street and all of a sudden, Tiff's jeep starts shaking and slowing down. She'd been having car troubles earlier in the week and was kinda panicked...until she realized what was happening. Apparently...she'd run out of gas. (: Hehe. She was SO embarrassed (which I'm sure she'll be even MORE SO if she reads this blog)...but I reassured her that we'd all done it at some point...and proceeded to tell her the stories of when it happened to me in Bryan and again later in College Station. Anyway. Her roomie was nice enough to come get us and take us to 7-11 where she purchased an $8 gas cannister, and 1.79 worth of gas to go in it (thank GOODNESS gas prices keep going down)! We made it back to her car...and then things got even more complicated. This gas cannister wasn't your typical cannister. No. It was a mega-child-proof safety cannister. Apparently it was adult proof too. It was leaking gas when we tried to pour it, and the pouring spout mechanism was super complicated. It took 3 of us to figure out how to even work it, and by that time I was soaked in gasoline up to my elbows.

We eventually figured it out, and Tiffany made it to get gas - and I made it to pick up Chance by around 10:50pm. Oops. At least he'd gotten out late, at 10:40. He'd decided he'd walk across the highway and get a frosty at Wendys - which was fine by me, he got me one too. (:

Anyway. I'm pretty sure that's why I have a headache. No, not a cold headache due to the frosty...I'm pretty sure its from the fumes. I've washed my arms in dish soap, lemon juice, more dish soap, vinegar, special chef's soap and a bubble bath and still no luck. I'm going to be reeking of gas for a while, I think.

Haha. But it makes for a funny story. I just hope Tiffany tells it better. (: And if anyone happens to have a remedy for ridding skin of gasoline stench, please relay it this direction.

i learned from the best

I found some really awesome news out today, even if it was a year late. As most of you know I work in the food industry and I grew up with most of my jobs being food industry related. I worked my way through college at the Edge Cafe. Basically a cafe for a private dorm. Although you wouldn't think they would have great food (it was average) it IS where I learned a lot of what I know about cooking. I accredit that to one man: Rich Risbon. Rich was my boss at Edge cafe and taught me a lot about spices, knife skills, and lots of different culinary techniques. Such as how to flip an omelette, make a decent stir fry, toss pizza dough, cook and cut a large variety of meats, and properly mix and match seasonings. Thanks to three years at The Edge.

Today while scouring the blog world I came across somebody who had reviewed Hullabaloo Diner. Hullabaloo is the place my boss was preparing to open as I was graduating college. I never got to eat there but did visit it once before it was open. It has an original train car diner shipped all the way from New York. Very cool atmosphere and some great home cookin'. The best part was that it was featured on Food Network's Diner's, Drive-In's, and Dives. It makes me really proud to know that is who I learned to cook from. Check out the video below:



Now I have to go eat there.

this one's gonna be boring

Not gonna lie - it hasn't been a very eventful day in the Patrick household. Just your average workday + grocery store trip...nothing super cool.

Although, my dear friend Tiffany came over and we got to watch Grey's. And SHE's super cool. I love our Thursday night hangouts. (: I also cooked dinner (pineapple-jalepeno chicken), which wasn't really super cool - but decent, at least (I know, kinda summery, oh well). I haven't cooked in quite a while, at least, not creatively - so it was kinda' a challenge for me to think of anything to make. I need to get back in the swing of things. Probably not gonna happen any time soon as I just stocked up on easily-microwavable soup at the store. Well, when I run out...maybe I'll cook then.

(I'm always tempted to say "In other news..." here. I've done it a billion times. Apparently I'm terrible at segues).

Although today wasn't super amazing, yesterday truly was. I was privileged enough to get to accompany my dear friend Emily (she just started blogging yesterday, check her out!!!) to her OB appointment, and the most amazing thing happened. We got to listen to her baby's heartbeat! She's about 13 weeks into her pregnancy...and it was seriously one of the neatest/most unbelievable things I've ever heard. Little "Chigger" (as I lovingly call the baby) has a heartbeat like a super-fast freight train. It was incredible. I'd gotten to go to her first appointment too, but not in the room with her - so I'd just seen a sonogram photo. That made her pregnancy REAL to me, but THIS made it even more so. Congrats, Em. And thanks for inviting me along. I can't wait til her next appointment - the gender 'peek'! Oh boy! Even if I don't get to go, I'm super excited about all of it. It's awesome to be able to watch a friend go through her whole pregnancy (even if I'm not the least bit interested in getting pregnant myself). (:

Small group last night was also just such a blessing. We've been meeting as a group for about 6-7 months now (I think) and last night things finally really came together. I feel like we have a plan, a direction, and we're just growing and learning a lot with each other. I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks, months, and even years with these friends. I'm thankful for that.

Shoot. I started off thinking I had nothing to blog about. I guess I did. Maybe I'm not quite so boring after all, eh? Maybe.

inheritance

In our small group tonight we were talking about being rich, giving, charity, and material things. We discussed what one item we would have a really hard time living without. We discussed that last thing we received that we were truly thankful for. This was the basis for a discussion on giving more of ourselves, time, and money to things that make a difference in other people's lives. I had wanted to blog about this subject for a couple days or so but just now got around to writing about it. It was ironic to discuss material things when it was going to be the subject of my blog. But really, it is more sentiment than material.

So I have been thinking about my Dad a lot lately. I thought about all the things he represented, did, accomplished, and was in his life. When he passed in August I got the Chance to travel out to Phoenix with my brother, sister-in-law, and wife. We sorted through all of Dad's stuff and let me tell you, it was a real random mixture of things. Maren wanted to see the grandfather clock in our house so here it is.


The clock is in our living room and is a beautiful reminder of Dad. I didn't necessarily have sentimental attachment to it but I definitely do now. After all it was the one thing Dad put in his will to give to me. It's funny how the little things can set off random memories. I am glad I am able to put this stuff around my home to make me smile and remember a man who traveled from the U.S. to Malaysia to Ireland to Australia.


To be honest I don't know where I was going with this blog. I just had these things around the house that made me proud to have a Dad with wide cultural experience. A Dad who having been all over the World still didn't have many things. What he had was a family he loved and an influence on the people around him.

The ostrich egg above is painted with two tigers. Dad had picked out 5 eggs when in Malaysia that reminded him of his kids. This one is mine. Although not normally a collector of eggs I decided this deserved to be on my bedside table. It was chosen for me because he thought I was "wild and fierce".

Dad being a certified diver and myself being the only kid that is certified I was happy to get a wet suit, a nice divers watch, some goggles and other random scuba gear. Although I haven't been in well over 2 years I am now equipped to go. Which means John and I can finally make that scuba trip we keep talking about. Anyways I am just rambling on. Mostly I hope that I inherited my Dad's spirit and his ability to continue loving throughout the ups and downs of his life. I miss you Dad. Thank you for being a man of influence. Thank you for bringing all your lessons and wisdom from your travels all over the world back home, to teach them to me.

a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad...

...day. Like Alexander. I hope other people remember that book.

Okay, I'm exaggerating. It wasn't really THAT bad. I did some fun things, and got to vent to Liz a little - that's always nice (you know, laying all of your problems on the table via g-chat). But it WAS bad enough that I don't really want to discuss it.

So INSTEAD, I'm going to show you a few pictures from Halloween! Haha. We're a little behind, because of the computer crashage going on around here...but late is better than never, right? Some of you may have seen us on Halloween (although I honestly don't think any of the folks we hung out with even READ this blog).

We were slightly lazy this year...or maybe lazy's not the right term. We knew we were going to a gathering where dressing up was 'optional' - and I couldn't find out til the last minute whether or not people were dressing up (I didn't want us to be the only ones). So we didn't plan and had to use items we already had, but I was pretty proud of myself for assembling an idea/costume so quickly. (:

Without further adieu I give you professional wrestler Chance and Claire (otherwise known as Hulk Hogan and Mysterio):


Not the most flattering Halloween costume...but I couldn't resist wearing the mask Chance got in Playa Del Carmen on our honeymoon. (:


And it didn't hurt that I didn't have to wear any makeup! (:

when it rains...

...my hair goes nuts. Seriously. It's only rained about 3 times here in the past 6 months, and I'd forgotten how out of control my hair can get in the humidity. I remembered because Chance decided tonight would be a good time to dine outdoors. And, well, it was - but my hair doesn't thank him.

This weekend was exceptionally good for some reason. It was just your average weekend - no super exciting events or anything, but it was fun. Sunday Funday at the boys' yesterday was pretty enjoyable - despite having to choke down about 40 minutes worth of Meet the Browns (ugh, really?) - it was good company.

I was in a pretty strange mood last night - I was hyper when we rolled in at 12:30AM or so...but unfortunately Chance had taken benadryl for his allergies and just crashed. I stayed up reading til about 5am...just started reading Baby Proof by Emily Giffin last night and couldn't put it down. Brooke introduced me to her books Something Borrowed and Something Blue and I practically swallowed them whole. I often read relatively heavy or deep books, so it's refreshing to read something so light and girly. (Shoot, I never thought I'd say that).

We slept in until around 11:30 today - which we haven't done in a long time! We finished cleaning the house and kinda vegged, really, for part of the day. Got a few things knocked off our to do lists, at least.

Mid-afternoon I did something I'm quite proud of...I fixed my iPod by myself! Okay, I had a little help from a website...but still. I popped it open, unplugged the battery and the hard drive - well, and a few other things before I realized what I was doing - then plugged it all back in and restarted it - and it worked. It's totally back to normal now - I'm pretty excited about it and fairly proud of my relatively non-technical self for the repair. (:

Another interesting tidbit about this afternoon: Brewster escaped. (Mom, don't freak out - just keep reading). He's been having a digging problem lately - but I didn't think it was that bad. Chance went outside to get something from the car while I was finishing up the chores. By his account, he heard a dog barking coming toward him and thought "Great - another stray. Claire's gonna want to take him in". Then he saw the dog - a dachshund...and still wasn't too pleased. Then he noticed the green nametag - you know - the one that says Brewster. He was floored. Brewster came running up to him and Chance brought him inside - I was in shock when I saw them walk in. I'm glad Chance happened to go outside when he did. He cramed a bunch of rocks under the fence which should hold him in for a little while longer til we can either fill the hole or...correct his behavior. Geez. Scary, but slightly funny at the same time. Maybe you had to be here.

This blog wasn't supposed to be this long, really. What I REALLY wanted to tell you about was tonight - kinda the 'cherry on top', if you will. We had dinner plans with my super-amazing-great friend Natalie. Gah, I love her - we've been friends about 4 and a half years I guess (correct me if I'm wrong). (: She's a cutie. Anyway...we went over to her house to meet her (her house is super cute) and got to meet her roommate/best friend Camden and their precious dogs. She'd told me about a Mexican food place she loves (back when we wrote the top 20 Mexican restaurants blog)...and she wanted to take us there (for a late birthday dinner for me)! (: So she drove us down to a place called Sazon on South Lamar - interior Mexican (you know, only the BEST kind). She treated us to dinner (Chance and I shared a Chile en Nogado - one of my favorite dishes), she fed us some of her tasty grilled shrimp, and she bought us mojitos to top it off. Scrumptious. She also gave me my birthday present. I think I offended Chance a little on the way home when I told him that she has given me some of my favorite presents. (: But she has - she always makes me the most special things (like the rose painting/drawing and the dinosaur friends tshirt she gave me)...but this time she really outdid herself.

What amazes me is how much she cares - how well she knows me even though we don't get to hang out as often as I'd like, even though we missed AT LEAST a year of each other's lives since we've known one another. She somehow knows me.

I'll preface it with this: the other day...I'd found some jewelry on etsy I wanted to post a blog about (but, that never happened). For those of you who don't know what etsy is, it's a site where you can sell and purchase handmade items (from clothes, to artwork, to furnture, to jewelry...you name it). I had stumbled upon some sellers who crafted some pretty cool items - and I thought I'd share them with my readers. Luxe Deluxe, Just Be Designs, and Old But New - just to name a few (feel free to check them out).

Anyway, when I opened my gift tonight (it came in this cute little package):


...I was FLOORED.

She'd done it again. Natalie had gone to a place in town called Bead It and handcrafted a necklace for me. It looks like an antique - something passed down for generations. I love antique-y things. I can't even really describe it, it's so pretty - I'll just have to let you see for yourselves! I just can't believe she made it (well, I can, she's so dang creative, but still)...


Natalie, I really can't thank you enough! Now, I don't want to devalue all the other wonderful birthday gifts I got - which I love - I really do.... but Natalie - this gift means so much to me. It's such a work of art - I want to find a way to display it when I'm not wearing it!

...what a great day. What great friends I have (I could write 5,000 blogs about this). I hope I can be the friend to you guys that you all are to me. But like I said - that's a novel for another time. (:

For now, I'm off to watch Heroes with Chance - and to drink the coffee with the 'homemade creamer' he just created! (: Yum yum.

vietnamese heartburn

Yeah....that's right. I'm pretty sure I've got heartburn from the Pho I just ate. Somehow. Perhaps it was the jalapenos. It's okay, don't be too concerned about me - it was delicious. I love Kim Phung. If you live in Austin, you should go there...and you should read Chance's review of it when he posts it (probably in the next week or so).

Today has been a pretty productive day, honestly. I went to church this morning, came home and did a few things around here, picked Chance up from work...and then the business started.

We baked cookies (for our new neighbors and then some), Chance mowed the back yard (what's left of it - the part that isn't a desert wasteland), I brushed Freddie, Chance bathed both of the boys, we cleaned our bathroom and bedroom, and we boxed some things up to take to Goodwill. Pretty successful, I'd say. Tomorrow we just have to clean the rest of the house and....I guess we can play! (Although, I'm sure I'll find more work for us to do - I always seem to do that).

We just got back an hour or so ago from taking the cookies to the new neighbors. They were super nice. They live diagonally across the street from us - he is a kitchen manager at Boulevard Grill, and she goes to school at Virginia College and works as well. They've got a daughter named Sydney as well as two boys (who weren't there, and somehow fit into the picture). Anyhoo - somehow I got pulled off by Sydney up to her pretty pink and purple room to check it out. It was the only room in the house they had done - I was pretty impressed they got it pulled together over just a couple of days. She's cute. But seriously - most kids DON'T like me. Only girls named Sydney. What's up with that? Chance thinks its hilarious when kids decide I'm their friend. I think I'm starting to enjoy their company too. Scaaaarrrry.

What else? I guess computer recovery has gone pretty dang well - the only trouble I'm really having is with McAffee - I'm having MAJOR problems with it...but I'm sure I'll get it figured out. Next up: trying to make my ipod work again.

I'm sure you guys are kinda getting bored with these photo-less posts. Pictures are so much more fun! I promise, one of the next few posts will include some photos. And maybe be a little more entertaining. For now, I think we're off to Sunday Funday at Chris and Corbin's apartment. Fun times shall be had by all.

the bbq business

I had a whole blog written out about work, about the stress of it. About how how I miss having normal hours like everyone else. About having co-workers of the same age and possibly interests. I decided that maybe it's unprofessional to rant about your work place. Maybe it's better to just keep quiet, work hard, and make the best of it.

I read a blog of a friends tonight that made me reconsider my point on Mr. President-elect. They made a point about how his color will make a difference in the generation below mine. The point was that our kids will grow up (at least for the next 4 years) seeing a good role model, a educated, and a responsible figure of African-American decent. I hadn't thought of this and I think it is a legitimate reason to celebrate a black man being in office. We so often see the role models of not only black kids but of White, Latino, and Asian (as well as other races) being rappers, rock stars or some other character that is not really in any way suitable to influence our children's generation. It will be interesting to see how this presidency plays out. Not only for Americans in general but for our children and how they perceive each others exterior and culture. It will be interesting to see if Obama can make a dent in the "rap" culture that has so dominantly shaped the African-American community. For that I applaud him and do have hope. For the rest of us, I hope that we just see a man, a man of no color.

And with that, I hope my political rants are over. I am either surrounded by news coverage of politics or consumed by Bill Miller Barbecue. I prefer to talk about something, with God's help, that is positive rather than BBQ.

Also give us some ideas to write about. This whole blogging everyday for a month thing is hard when you run out of ideas in the first 6 days.

it's my cable and I'll cry if I want to

So I guess I am drawing a blank tonight. I don't have a whole lot to say and honestly in the middle of the week (yes, Friday is the middle of my week) I am pretty much consumed by work and lack any great stories. I will just offer a little advice for you soon to be married people (although I think all of our readers are either already married or single).

After reading Beth's blog tonight. I was reminded of when Claire and I were discussing finances before our marriage. At the time we were unaware of what our income would be or really what our expenses would be. I may have thrown out a comment in the nature of "We may just not have cable at all" which in turn made Claire cry. This may seem strange or outlandish to some that she would cry over cable. In reality I think it was less the lack of cable than the realization that we had no certainty as to how we were going to pay for ourselves to live. It was the cold truth that we couldn't really rely on our parents to help us out, although they still do of their own accord. Cable was just a materialization of that thought. Of course now if I tried I couldn't cancel the cable because Claire and I have addictive personalities and have "our shows" that we need to watch. Who am I kidding, I can't miss The Office or Heroes. Anyways, the moral of the story is, don't worry about discussing the important issues, just make sure you know whether you are going to have cable or not!

Ok...maybe you should also discuss the important stuff as well.

reece saved my life, or at least my pc

Well, thanks to my friend Reece - my computer is saved. At least, I'm pretty sure it is. I'm in the process of recovering files right now. My files from my desktop seem to be in good shape, and now I'm working on My Documents...which includes all my music. So far I've only had errors on my Explosions in the Sky albums, so we're good to go. *knock on wood* - I'm so thankful I have friends who are so good with computers...like Reece, Robert Adam, and James. They've all been lifesavers at some point. I wish I knew as much as them - my brain's just not that big. So - for those of you who were worried about me and my 'puter...we seem to be doing just fine. It will take a while to get programs installed again and files in the right place, but hey - I can't complain!

Today was pretty decent. Worked quite a bit on work and the computer. Tomorrow will be the same, I'm sure...plus hopefully finishing the closet (or at least putting all my jewelry away - right now it's strewn all over the bathtub). Got dinner plans with Mrs. Crockett...which I'm excited about - shoot, it has been a LONG time since we've gotten to hang out (very very sadly). And HOPEFULLY I'll have time to make it to the gym...I've missed my running this week - I'd been doing so well, but I haven't gotten to go since I last wrote about "Val". Not because I was that discouraged - just with the closet and the computer I haven't been able to make it.

Chance is jammin' to David Cook on his computer, and I'm slightly distracted. He listens to things so loud that I really can't think.

I'd REALLY love to vent about Grey's Anatomy right now...today's episode was just SO good...except for a few things (which I really want to talk about)...but Chance will KILL me if I use our blog to discuss Grey's. He hates it (which he has no right to say because he's never watched a single episode). Ugg. But if anyone wants to talk to me about the show - please IM me. Lol.

new car politics

I am not really one to spew out my opinion on politics, but, I am ready to spit this out and be done with it. Regardless of who I backed in the most recent election I can't help but be nervous now that the time has passed. I am proud, I think America has made a step in the right direction with their choice yesterday. I think America has made a wrong choice because now there is very little balance of power. I think we made the wrong choice because like my mom said we just voted in a "global" president. I for one would like a president who is the president of the United States. It makes me nervous but at the same time optimistic that the world has celebrated our choice for leader elect. I can do nothing but pray that this man makes sound decisions for the US, not for the global state.

I would hope that the new step we have taken is a step towards peace with one another, towards a Union that is truly united. I think it's amazing we have voted a man of different color into office. I just hope that isn't the reason that we voted him in, I hope it is not the reason we are celebrating. Maybe we can forget the color, which is what should be done. It is what I have done with friends from African-American decent, to Lebanese, to Mexican, to Chinese, to white suburban. I would celebrate no different any moment with these friends due to their color than I would with anyone else. I would celebrate because they achieved something, not that they are of certain decent and then they achieved something. I would not celebrate a persons color over their accomplishment. That is what bothers me most. I want to celebrate a step in the right direction as a whole, towards union. I don't want to celebrate a color.

So I will support my president, although I know I disagree with many things he stands for. I would like to ask you Mr. Obama to stand not for hope or change or a color or a segment of people as you have said all along. I would ask you to stand for union. For a country that can recover, that can sort out wars, that can sort out a poor economy, that can make the right decisions towards taxes, health care, education, homosexuality, church & state, and foreign relations. I want a man of invisible color that makes the rest of us invisible to each other's color.

That is all I have to say and all you will hear me say for the next 4 years on that. I won't give you my beliefs on the details. Just what I would like out of the next 4 years. Take it as you will.

And on a less, well, political note. I will beg of you dear readers to lend me your opinions. Claire and I are in the market for a new/newly used car. We are considering the 07-09 Toyota Camry, 09 Toyota Corolla Sport, 08-09 Nissan Altima, and the 07-09 Mazda 3. If any of you have experience, thoughts, knowledge, or advice towards these vehicles please let us know. We can use any help we can get.

pricey plastic, among other things

I'm really too worn out to blog - mentally and physically. And you'll have to forgive any typos or slip-ups in tonight's writing. Chance is watching TV beside me and I'm quite distracted. He thought it was a good time to watch the SNL Presidential Bash from last week. Ha. Sure it is...

Anyway, I'm not gonna talk about politics - let's get that straight right now.

Instead, I'll talk about plastic. I probably bought 100 sq feet of plastic today. That will probably upset some of my greener readers, and honestly - I didn't think about the fact that it might not be good for the environment 'til right now (does that make me a bad person)? But really, guys, it was necessary. My closet needed it.

We're in the middle of the Fight for the Closet campaign of '08 and I won. Chance gave in to my slightly crazy idea to add more storage space to our closet. We spent about 6 hours shopping for supplies, removing shelves, patching holes, and hanging shelves yesterday....Maybe sometime later this month when my computer is up and running you'll get a before and after. We gained about 8 feet of hanging space though - I'm pretty excited. We decided to get some new white plastic hangers and shoe storage boxes to top it off and make things look 'prettier' - Plus its a lot easier than fighting with those silly wire hangers and finding stray shoes. We're hoping to complete the project later this week/weekend...and by we, I mean I. Chance is pretty sure HE's finished.

In other news, the computer repair is coming along. I bought a new hard drive and am planning on starting the whole process of 'fixing' things tomorrow.

Unfortunately, 5 days or so after my computer quit, so did my iPod. The Todd Pod has malfunctioned, most likely, permanently. Stink. When my computer crashed, I was ecstatic that I had recently updated my ipod - so I wouldn't lose any music. I guess I rejoiced too soon. Not too happy about losing $100+ worth of music. Fun times.

That's really about all I've got for today. I'm too tired to be funny or snarky...so we'll just leave it at the facts. I'm going to go zone out for a while. If I can. Doubtful.

closets and mexican food

You thought we were gonna miss our daily blog, didn't you? Well I still have an hour so here goes with today's topics.

First a comedic story. As we are walking through Lowes on our way to pick out the wire shelving for a new closet redesign project, Claire yells out -loudly- "I sound like Jesus". Taken out of context this could sound blasphemous and possibly somewhat offensive. In context, however, it was humorous -especially to the innocent bystanders shopping for nails, Christmas trees, and lawn mowers. Maybe it wasn't her fault she screamed inappropriately - I was giving her a hard time about coming up with new projects that really don't need to be done (IE: redesigning a closet). I had been teasing her in a mocking voice, the voice of the Jesus character from the Vintage 21 videos online which portray him with a super meek voice and character (these videos might be somewhat offensive but were produced to make a point - many of you have probably seen them). So I'd been mocking Claire in the video Jesus' voice when she yelled. It was really funny - and much more so out of context.

I also thought I would entertain and challenge you foodies and culinary aficionados with the Patrick's top 20 Mexican food establishments. We want your feedback. Tell us what we left off, what you agree with, what you disagree with, and what you think about Mexican food in general. I think we are part Mexican because we both agree we could probably eat it for every meal and half the time our home cooked meals turn out to have some sort of south of the border flair. This list is in order of preference, however it changes frequently and is not totally mutual between the two of us, albeit, it was voted on by both of us.

1.) Picante Grill (San Antonio, TX)
Try: Chile En Nogado
2.) Polvos (Austin, TX, South 1st)
Try: Fajitas Al Guajillo
3.) Villa Montez (Tyler, TX)
Try: Chino Latino Rolls, Sea Bass, or the Daily special
4.) Jardin Corona (Austin, TX, Anderson Mill)
Try: Mango or Strawberry Margaritas, Chipotle Enchiladas, and the Salsa
5.) Margarita Rocks/La Bodega (College Station, TX, Same owner, same fair)
Try: BBQ Chicken Nachos,enchiladas, burgers, burritos, & Don't miss the salsa
6.) Posados (Tyler & Austin, TX)
Try: Cheese Enchiladas, Free tortillas, sopapillas, and ice cream
7.) Tacos Garcia (Amarillo, TX)
Try: Enchiladas de Chile Verde
8.) Trudy's (Austin, TX, various locations)
Try: Stuffed Avocado and brunch buffett
9.) Zocalo (Austin, TX, West Lynn)
Try: Fish Tacos, Dos Salsas, Ceviche, and Pulled Pork Posole Soup
10.) Taco Bus (Houston, TX, Behind Fitzgeralds Bar)
Try: Steak Tacos...it is a taco bus, literally.
11.) La Cocina De Consuelo (Austin, TX, Burnet Rd.)
12.) Leals (Amarillo, TX)
13.) Serranos (Austin, TX, Various Locations)
14.) Ruby Tequila's (Amarillo, TX)
15.) Chuy's (Austin, TX, Various Locations)
16.) Jalepeno Tree (Tyler and East Texas)
17.) Rosas Cafe (Amarillo, College Station and other various TX locations)
18.) Gueros (Austin, TX, South Congress)
19.) El Charro (Tyler, TX)
20.) Taco Garage (San Antonio, TX)

Honorable Mention: Pico De Gallo (Tyler, TX, Closed), Curra's Long Bar (Austin, TX, Closed), Don Luis Supertacos (Austin, TX, Closed)

Let us know what you have had and what you think of this list.

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