Thursday, January 22, 2009

25 Things

I was recently tagged so here goes... 25 random things about me.
(I am posting, but not tagging.)
  1. I am an avid reader and currently have a list of 98 books that I want to read.
  2. I believe that cooking with olive oil and garlic make just about any dish better.
  3. I have nightmares of doing karaoke by myself in front of a crowd of strangers.
  4. The show Super Nanny makes me afraid to have kids.
  5. I am too cheap to buy books. I like to go to Barnes & Noble and peruse best selling books and then go and get them from the library.
  6. One of my dreams that will probably never happen, or at least not until I retire, is to through hike the Appalachian Trail or some other really long trail.
  7. I don't buy junk food to keep in my house.
  8. At the beginning of each week, I faithfully make a weekly meal plan and go grocery shopping...
  9. I will not buy anything at the grocery store that is not on my shopping list.
  10. I love to sit around a fire with friends - whether in front of my own fireplace or a campfire outdoors.
  11. If I could spend a majority of my life outside, I would.
  12. I have been without cable television for a couple of years and I don't miss it one bit.
  13. Daniel and I have been a one-car family for an entire year.
    This has been the hardest on Daniel, but he is a good sport.
  14. I really like North Carolina, but I hate being so far away from my family.
  15. I didn't get a cell phone until I moved to Charlotte, NC (4 years ago)...
  16. Now I don't have a home phone.
  17. Some days I really want to get a dog.
    Then I think about all of the time I would have to spend with a dog and I just can't commit.
  18. I have never owned a car that was less than 8 years old.
  19. Sometime it annoys me that being a "grown up" feels like a never ending chore... work 40 hours a week... cook... clean... pay bills... renovate. But then I go do something I love and forget about the chore part of being grown up.
  20. Someday I want to have a home in the mountains that is made predominantly of glass and wood.
  21. I have a monthly clothing budget... and it is not very much...
    I am paying off debt.
  22. Thanks to Daniel, I know more about tools than most men.
  23. I love spending time with my family - they make me laugh.
  24. I like awkward TV shows like Ugly Betty and Scrubs.
  25. Whenever I take personality tests, I always score a weird combination of outgoing and shy.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Goals For The New Year (late)

Along with my year-end newsletter, I am also late in posting my goals for the new year. I am not one to write New Year's "resolutions" because I think people tend to set impossible resolutions for themselves. However, I do think it is important to set reachable goals and to write them down. I figure that Facebook is as a good of a place as any to record these goals because it will lead to some amount of accountability.

So... here are my goals (and the status of these goals) for 2009.
  1. Continue to pay off debt. Overall goal to be completely debt free in 5 years. 2009 Goal to be free of all debt (beside mortgage and school loans) by end of March.
  2. Get cholesterol in check. This means eating better and exercising. Not doing so good on this one. Work has been crazy and has not lent itself to these things so far this year.
  3. Finish the house renovation. We are continuing to make progress, though cold weather has slowed us somewhat.
  4. Spend more time doing things I love. I have slowly incorporated more time for reading into my life. I hope to have more time to go backpacking and mountain biking.
  5. So there you have it... my top goals for the 2009 year.

Keys Locked In Car

Yes, I know we just had an incident where we accidently locked ourselves OUT of the house. Thankfully it wasn't awfully cold that day and it was a somewhat easy fix. You would have thought we had learned our lesson and had extra keys for everything put in different places. Well, you would be wrong.

Since it has been so cold this week, Daniel has been really sweet and gone outside to start the car before we leave. Yesterday, after doing this, he shut the car door too soon after starting the ignition and the doors automatically locked with the keys inside.

It is a good thing we had not locked the house yet and didn't have to sit outside freezing while we figured out what to do... Daniel had me call AAA while he tried to figure a way to get into the car. He really thought we had a spare key somewhere, but was unable to find it. AAA had a high call volume, so I was on hold while Daniel searched the house.

Some time last year, Daniel installed a clicker for our car and he was pretty sure we had a spare one somewhere. He found the spare and went outside to try to unlock the doors. Evidently it was not the right clicker since it would not unlock the doors immediately. However, after pushing multiple buttons, all of a sudden the car unlocked itself and the car alarm went off.

I was still on hold at this point, so we didn't have to use AAA after all. This is the second time we have been able to "break" into our house/car... amazing how simple both of these experiences were... it seems like this stuff should be harder.

On a side note: We now have multiple copies of house and car keys and they are all in different places in case we lock ourselves our of our house or car...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Top 10 from 2008 and our --LATE-- end of year newsletter

For the past five years, we have sent out an end of year newsletter to update our family and friends about our previous year. This year we have decided to just post it on Facebook because we have been too busy to create a tangible letter to send out. For those of you who have read our letters in the past, we always include a Top 10 list of some sort - don't worry, we have included one for this year as well.

Dear Family and Friends,
You may have noticed that our Christmas newsletter is late this year. I suppose it is more of an end of year, 2008 wrap-up or something of that nature. I even considered skipping on writing this newsletter since so many of our loved ones are on Facebook and I write regularly about our day-to-day life experiences. However my desire to continue a five-year tradition overcame the notion of skipping the letter altogether...

For Daniel and I, this has been a relatively good year. Even in the midst of the current economic recession we have been tremendously blessed. At the beginning of 2008 I started two new jobs: one teaching design classes at a community college in Rock Hill, SC and the other working in the creative department of a product development company here in Charlotte. Both jobs allowed me to expand my capabilities and discover a new love for design.

Daniel has also been blessed at his work. Unfortunately his company has gone through three rounds of layoffs since August, but God has been gracious to us in allowing Daniel to make it through all of these cuts. We continue to pray that the economy will make a turn for the better and that there will be no more cuts.

As many of you know we have been renovating our home for some time now. I would love to say that all of our projects have been completed. In reality we will probably never be completely finished; there will always be little things we think of to change. We are getting closer to the completion of the major projects, namely our master bathroom renovation, but it may be some time before we are truly finished. In the meantime, we are learning to be content with what progress we have made.

We were hoping to make it through a year without any trips to the ER. We were actually doing fairly well in this category: no major sicknesses, no run-ins with saws of any kind. Then in October I experienced a blood clot in my leg that landed me in the hospital for five days. I am very fortunate that I was able to listen to family and friends and recognize that there was something wrong with me. By the time we made it to the ER, I had actually had some small pieces of the clot break off and make it into my lungs. Fortunately symptoms of the lung clot never manifested and I am making a full recovery. I am on coumadin until April with regular monitoring from my doctor.

On a sad note, Daniel’s Grandma passed away the week after Thanksgiving. We are saddened by this loss but know that she has gone on to a better place.

On a happy note, Daniel and I will become an aunt and uncle in June – my sister and brother-in-law are expecting their first child and we are very excited about this new addition to our family.

We hope that you had a Merry Christmas and that you rang in the New Year in whatever way you chose - whether with family or friends. We spent our New Year’s trying to get our master bathroom finished… We hope that your 2009 is a blessed year.

Top 10 Reasons To Finish Our Home Renovation
10. We need more than one working toilet – it never fails that both Daniel and I need to go to the bathroom at the same time… not to mention when we have company.

9. Our life group is ready for us to do our share and host.

8. We can’t get a dog until we finish.

7. We need to time to focus on outside projects: new deck, new landscaping…

6. We can buy more furniture.

5. We will have time and money to travel.

4. We want to refinance and take advantage of the current super low mortgage interest rates. We can’t refinance the house without getting an appraisal. We can’t get an appraisal in the current state the house is in…

3. We won’t have to choose between working on projects or doing things we love (and then feeling guilty when we choose the things we love).

2. Family can come stay with us for the holidays for a change.

1. We can finally relax and enjoy our home to the fullest.
If you are interested, here are our Top 10 List from Years Past 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | We skipped 2007 

Friday, January 09, 2009


Over the past couple of weeks I have been interviewing potential candidates for intern positions within my department. Mostly I enjoy this job. I find it interesting to meet new people and see how prepared they are and to answer questions and make them feel comfortable about the interview process.

Today I had my first experience of having to tell a candidate no. Actually I did not officially tell her no yet - I copped out and said that we were still interviewing potential candidates and I would let her know next week. This is all true, but I am 95% sure we are not going to hire her. I am the type of person that really wants to see people succeed so it is hard to turn someone away, even though I know they won't be a good fit.

I have a couple more interviews and hope that we can make a decision sometime next week... we have been crazy busy and it will be a huge relief to have someone come in to help shoulder the workload.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Night at the Museum 2

Inventors Digest, the monthly magazine that I work on, is being featured in the movie Night at the Museum 2. For our February issue our editor contacted the creators of the movie and asked if we could feature Larry Daily (Ben Stiller's character in the movie) in our issue about Hollywood and inventions. We were all thrilled when they agreed to this. We just received the issue and I am really excited about it. The cover art turned out great and it is exciting to have such a big name grace our little magazine.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Locked Out

Since Daniel and I started driving one car we normally only carry one set of keys between us. Every day as we are walking out the door we always ask each other if we have the keys. Once we have confirmation that one of us has the keys we turn the lock and shut the door behind us.

For some reason this morning, as we were headed out, neither of us asked this important question. I pulled the door shut and we looked at each other with the realization that I had just locked us out of the house and car.

In a futile attempt, Daniel went around back hoping there was a key in our secret hiding spot, knowing that it wasn't there.

Then we discussed our options:

1) Call AAA and have them come unlock the car. Then we would have access to the garage door opener and could get in the house.

2) Call a locksmith and have them come and break the door knob off of our front door.

3) Break one of the paneled windows out of the garage door and crawl through it.

4) Try to use a credit card to break in through the front door.

After discussing we agreed that we would try the credit card first and if that didn't work we would call AAA.

I dug through my purse and found a flexible discount card to Office Max that I don't use... Daniel jimmied the lock in less than a minute. Two thoughts ran through my head: I was glad that it was so easy to get to our keys and head on to work. But it was also a little unnerving that it was that simple to get into the house. When we are home we always throw the dead bolt but for some reason we never do when we leave during the day. I think we will start using the dead bolt more.

Moral of the story: Use the dead bolt AND keep extra keys somewhere.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Outdoor Adventures | 2008 edition

This was the year we worked on our house and did a lot of bike commuting. With the economy in the toilet, it seemed like a good year to spend on two wheels instead of driving our cars everywhere.

First Bike Ride of the New Year | Charlotte, NC
AND First Climb of the New Year | Charlotte, NC

My Introduction to Bike Commuting | Charlotte, NC

Neighborhood Bike Ride | Charlotte, NC

Bike Commuting Continues | Charlotte, NC
Wipe Out | Charlotte, NC

First Alone Bike Commute | Charlotte, NC 

Perseid Meteor Shower | Charlotte, NC 

Turkey Creek Campground and Panther Creek Trail | Almond, NC
Biking for Groceries | Charlotte, NC

9 Day No Car Experiment | Charlotte, NC
Night Riding | Charlotte, NC
Blood Clot and a Hospital Stay | Charlotte, NC

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Unpacking... kind of...

Daniel and I have been in our house for over three years and through our whole renovation process we have managed to use the basement as storage for all of the boxes we have yet to unpack. A part of me feels like we should toss them all since we obviously have not needed them in the past three years but another part of me is glad we haven't tossed them because we are finding all sorts of forgotten things.

So why are we moving and unpacking boxes after three years? Well we are trying to get the house finished and the basement is one of the last big projects. The bathrooms remain top of the list of big projects, but since they must be done in stages we figured we could go ahead with the basement.

We have spent the last couple of days sorting through old boxes, unpacking some and making a massive Goodwill pile. A good percentage of the things in the basement have been transferred upstairs. We don't really have room for this stuff upstairs so this process is a little overwhelming. Now every finished room seems to be overflowing with boxes and stuff... where did it all come from? I will be glad when the basement floors are finished and we can truly unpack and move everything back downstairs.

On a happy note I found my food processor... I almost bought a new one at the store last week, glad I didn't do that.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Penguin


A while back (probably around Thanksgiving), Daniel's younger sister, Emily, and her husband, Josh, mentioned that they were thinking about swinging by our house on the way home from visiting Josh's family in Virginia. We are always up for company, so we of course said they should come.

Emily also mentioned that she had seen
The Penguin featured on the Food Network and that she was interested in eating there. Daniel and I had never actually eaten there either, but had had many people recommend it to us so we figured it would be a good place to eat.

When they got here, we spent some time showing the house renovations and explaining the progress to them. Then we headed to The Penguin. We didn't have to wait too long (which is good since the line got kind of crazy after we were seated).

We started off with their famous fried pickles and were not disappointed. The food was great. Atmosphere was perfect. And we had a nice visit discussing our future hopes and dreams. Interestingly we have some similar thoughts on building future houses in the mountains but that is another story.

As always we love company and it is always a good excuse to clean our house. We are still plugging away at our projects and dust seems to reign supreme because of this. Realistically I am not sure when we will be finished with the house because Daniel has to take the Professional Engineering Test in April and is supposed to devote 20 hours per week to studying between now and then...

Penguin on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Tiling in Wintertime

For some reason our major tiling projects have fallen during the coldest times in the year. Not that Charlotte is a very cold place, it just seems to be extra cold when we tackle a tiling project.

Two years ago, right before Thanksgiving, we tiled our kitchen. Tiling when it is cold outside is actually a plus because while you are working inside you aren't sweating profusely. However the clean up is a real pain, especially because it is normally late in the day and you are dead tired and having to clean tools outside in frigid temps with little light (thank goodness for headlamps).

So here we are, the first day in 2009 and we are tiling our master bathroom. Today feels like one of the coldest days we have had this winter. This morning the water in the hose was frozen and we had to mix thin set in our bathroom. Then tonight, after ten hours of working, we found ourselves outside cleaning tools and hoping we wouldn't get frost bite or pneumonia.

The good news is that we have made really good progress on our bathroom project. The bad news is we still have a lot of work to do.

When we tiled our kitchen I remember that we had the discussion that tiling must be similar to giving birth... the process is extremely hard on your body (painful) but when you finish and get to enjoy the final result, you forget all of the pain you endured.

As soon as the bathroom is complete, I will post more pics... it will probably be a while though.
Shower progress so far...

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...