Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Keeping Secrets is Annoying

Keeping secrets seriously bothers me. Not other people's secrets - my own.

Take for example, wedding stuff. Specifically, bridesmaids' gifts. I'm BRIMMING with excitement about their gifts and how I'm FINALLY figuring them out - but I can't tell you about them, because I know they read this. I'm in the process of making the necklaces, and it's so much fun! The parts I have done look fantastic (even though I can't afford real pearls), and even if they only wear them one day, I know they'll look great. I'm totally proud of myself for taking on this project and how far I've gotten, despite never working with anything jewelry-related before - unless you count friendship bracelets made of string.

I'm just so excited! I'm trying really hard to give my girls gifts that they can use after the wedding (even though at least 2 of them will be for the wedding), and I really don't want to give them kitchy dust-collectors. They might all get the same gifts, but at least they'll be versatile.

Now. Only 283 days before the girls get them (I'm giving them out at the rehearsal dinner)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Staying Warm

I'm getting married in January.

St. Louis has wonky, unpredictable weather. There have been years where the weather reaches 50 degrees in the beginning of January, but there are also years where it is closer to 0 degrees. Most likely, it's going to be cold, blustery, and gray.

Consequently, I need something to protect me from the elements. Early on, as soon as I mentioned the word "January," all I heard was "capes," "muffs," and most of all, "fur." There's only one problem with that: I hate fur. I hate the feel of it, the texture, everything. It reminds me of Cruella DeVille. Every time I went to David's Bridal, people tried to put fur things on me, and each time, I became more convinced that I don't want fur. At all. Anywhere. No thanks.
 And then, I saw this post on WeddingBee. WeddingBee is like, my bride-self's guilty pleasure. I dream of blogging for WeddingBee (I can't even apply until I'm 8 months out. *Sadface*). This post makes me swoon. I don't need no stinkin' cliche cape. I need a wedding peacoat.
Peacoats. I love them. So with the start of spring, I was all about looking for a discounted, white peacoat. And one gorgeous day a couple of weeks ago, Sean and I went randomly walking around the newest strip mall in Lake St. Louis. The goal for the day was to go to a jewelry shop to look for Sean's ring. After getting ideas (but obviously no winners), I dragged him into Old Navy, just to look around. And lo and behold - I fell in love with a peacoat.
I plan on switching the buttons with something fancier, to give it that glam feel. Something with pearls and crystals, like this:
 Unfortunately, this beauty is a size too big, which kind of  makes me look like I'm drowning. It might look better with the large, poofiness of the dress though. In any case, it was the only one there, and I scooped it up for $40 dollars. FORTY. You can't be that. If it ends up being too large, I might get it taken in, but we shall see. I'm just so excited about my first wedding discount score.

Friday, March 26, 2010

New template.

 Bear with me folks. I'm getting there.

I'm working on changing up the template, but I haven't quite decided what I want yet.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thinking about Money.

My ideas about money have changed a lot lately. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with my recent graduation/recent joining of the dreaded "real world." It's an interesting concept. I thought I would be fine - I had plenty of money to support me daily, and I worked on top of it. I had savings, a steady job (though not full time), and a relatively frugal lifestyle. I had plenty to spend on things that I wanted - movies, going out, new clothes, etc. So I thought.

Then I learned. I learned that I never actually realized how much I relied on my student loan refunds. While $1,000 isn't much, it was enough to pay for all of my daily activities for a semester. I could blow $1,000 in four months. Right now, that's just 1 month of bills for me. I learned that I have to cover insurance too. For the most basic plan (which still has a $2,500 deductible), I pay nearly $100 a month. Plus, I have car insurance, which is another $70 a month. Mind you, the car insurance will double when I move, because I'll no longer be on my family's plan, thus eliminating nearly every single discount I have. The new healthplan just makes things more expensive for me, because by the time it goes into effect, I'll be living on my own. FYI: You can't be a dependent and on your parents' healthcare until you're 26 if you live in another state and have graduated. I'll lose my inexpensive insurance that does me just fine, and will have to pay more. Yes, I'll get better insurance...but at a price, when money isn't always readily available.

I learned that a job isn't guaranteed. It's not guaranteed that I'll get a full-time, salary job. Schools tell you over and over, "this class guarantees you'll have a job" and "there will be plenty of jobs when you graduate." That's crap. Complete and total crap. I'm working two part-time jobs, and still barely making ends meet. I have no guarantee that I'll get a better job(s) when I move, so I have to save with the expectation that I might not have a job in six months. But here's the catch-22 - I have to move because there are no jobs in CoMo. I have to assume that when I move, I'll be paying more in rent, more in insurance, more in food, because CoMo is dirt cheap and has spoiled me silly. I have to consider that we'll have to rent a U-Haul (which, if we go to Oregon, will be over $1600). 

I'm not just responsible for me anymore. It's Sean and me, together. Anything I do, any money I spend, effects him too now (and likewise for him). It's so stressful, but at the same time - I like it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

After much debating and going back and forth (here and here), we finally decided on Sean's ring this weekend. I think he was just plain tired of looking and not finding anything else that he really liked, so we kind of took it as a sign that the one he liked best at that point was, in fact, his ring. The best part? Guess who called it?!

In any case, Sean ended up choosing the Zales ring, and this weekend we ending up purchasing it. Sean luckily has the most common ring size, so we ended up walking out with the ring on Sunday. It was quite literally a 15 minute process, from start to finish (well, never mind that we had already found the ring a few weeks before). It cost less than $400, including the lifetime warranty that we purchased on top of the ring.

While many people today are going to Tungsten and Titanium rings, Sean was very adamant that he did not want one of those. He preferred the lighter colors of white gold. Besides, Sean won't be going into a labor-intensive work field, so it wasn't really necessary. He loves the engraving and the old-time feel of this ring, which wouldn't have been possible with anything other than gold - everything else would simply be laser-engraved.

I was really surprised how hard it was to find a ring that suited him, but in the end, I think we found the perfect one. Plus, it was so much fun to ring shop!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cake Bites.

(AKA: The-Most-Delicious-Bite-Sized-Thing-EVAR)

Seriously. I first discovered these little guys over at Bakerella, who is probably the single most influetial person to my waistline (and not in a good way). She makes my sweet tooth the happiest little sucker in my mouth. With St. Patty's coming up, I wanted to make a green dessert, and since I've had my eye on these for a while, I decided to try it out.

Warning: These take a LOT of time - but they are WORTH it. All said and done, I had about 3 hours of active baking time - not including letting the cake bake, the cake cool, or anything. Not including freezing time, it probably took about 4 hours with baking and cooling included.

First, I baked a cake. Bakerella used a red velvet cake, I chose to use a yellow cake. Any cake would taste delicious, it just changes the final taste combination in the bites. I think a lemon cake would be fantastic at some point... I tinted my cake green for St. Patty's Day too...the possibilities are endless!

Once the cake was cool (I mean completely cool), I tossed it into a big bowl...
 And then 'mashed it to pieces!! Since I used such a light colored cake, you can see the golden-brown edges speckled in the cake mix.
Once the cake was a really fine texture, I mixed a can of frosting into it. Yes, an entire can of frosting. I chose cream cheese frosting, but once again, you could use anything. Then, I rolled them into small balls and stuck a toothpick in them. The toothpick made dipping them later much easier.
I put all the balls on some waxed paper, and let them freeze overnight to harden up.
The next day, I dipped all of my cake bites in chocolate.
I chose to do both white chocolate and semi-sweet, which ended up being delicious.
A few chocolate dipping tips:
1. DON'T let the chocolate touch water. It's bad.
2. Make sure the chocolate is really melted and hot. Otherwise, it gets to thick on the bites.
3. Only heat chocolate 30 seconds at a time. Have you ever burnt chocolate? It does not smell nearly as wonderful as the un-charred version.
4. Only melt a few pieces at a time - enough to dip the balls, but not too much. Otherwise, it cools too quickly and you have to reheat.
In the end, they turned out super cute, and super delicious. I prefer the semi-sweet chocolate ones though, because the white chocolate with the yellow cake is too sweet for me. But then again, everyone likes going into a diabetic shock every once in a while, right?

Though, I wasn't without a few FUBAR cake bites. I ran out of chocolate to dip the balls, so I ended up drizzling chocolate a few. They ended up looking...special...to say the least. I, of course, had to eat these sacrificial cake bites. Damn. It was truly difficult :)

The Dreaded Snafu.

We knew it was going to happen. Wedding planning has been going fairly smoothly, and we've been starting to get things done. We've been making decisions, I've actually been working on DIYs (though, I've fallen victim to the start-projects-and-never-finish-them curse), etc. And then we received a phone call on Friday.

It was from our priest, Fr. Don. Fr. Don is awesome. He's a big, roly poly man who kind of looks like a friar from a Monty Python movie, but he's witty and hilarious. He's also very involved. And being the very involved man that he is, Fr. Don takes a big part in our annual parish mission trip - to Belize. Which happens in January every year.

When we first started in talks with Fr. Don, we peppered him with questions about the trip, making sure that he would be available. And he assured us that no trip has ever started as early as our wedding. Well, next year it will. *facepalm* I know Belize is a good cause though, so I'm not too upset. Actually, I'm not upset at all. It's a little wrench, but if this is the worst of it, I'm okay with that.

So with Fr. Don unable to do the wedding, our new associate pastor will be taking over - Fr. Phil. Thankfully, All Saints has three priests, so it's almost impossible for one of them to not be available (please, everyone, knock on some wood for us). Honestly, the only reason we hadn't chosen Fr. Chris (who was our previous associate) was that he had already been at All Saints for five years, which is a long time for an associate. And we were right - he left All Saints last May.

I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason though. I've only talked with Fr. Phil once or twice, but this is presenting to be a good opportunity to get to know him. Yes, it means we have a few more meetings. But on the other hand, I was getting a little nervous since we had already had all of our meetings almost a year ago. Perhaps this is for the best. In any case, I'm giving Fr. Phil until Monday to give us a ring - otherwise, I'll call him. With us most likely moving in June, this is not something we can be slowpokes about!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Something Bigger than Oneself

This is a hard post to write, but it's a foundation of who I am today. Looking back through my past blogs, and my mind, I know that I haven't fully explained this and how it has affected me to most people - everyone is kind of in the dark about it. I'm going to try to make this an explain-all post, because I think everyone should know about it, and how it's changed me - for good. I'm sorry it's so long.

Two years ago, a very good friend of mine died. She was 19 years old.

I met Patty when we in kindergarten. We were 5, and in the same class. We played together, and, ironically, had the same Halloween costume. She left All Saints after that year, but she continued to play on our soccer team through high school. We spent every fall together. When high school rolled around, we found ourselves not only on a high school level church soccer team together, but we also found ourselves in youth group together. It was this that made us very good friends.
We were in youth group with an amazing group of people. We were a combination of both public school and private school kids - but within youth group we were all equals. There was no issue of money or status or popularity, because we were all the same - young Catholics. We traveled to Washington D.C. together, Mexico for a mission trip, and we worked together in various outreach programs. All of us were fantastically close - and it was the time of our lives. We ate ice cream from Oberweis, drank 2 liters of Strawberry Fanta together, and made jokes about everything imaginable. Patty and I were both part of the core group, and there was nothing that we couldn't talk about with each other. 
 After high school, most of us went off to universities - Truman, Mizzou, Westminster - we were scattered everywhere. Patty joined the Navy. She was a free spirit, and she wanted to see the world and help people at the same time. Patty called me the first week of January. I was at the zoo, in the penguin house (it's amazing how you remember the little things). Her eyesight was going blurry. I've always had the worst eyesight in the group, so she called me first. I told her that it was strange that it happened all at once, and that she should probably see a doctor or optometrist. Little did I know, this was the beginning of the end. We kept in touch, and it started scaring me how much was going on. By January 11th, she was blind in her left eye. By January 31st, she was having frequent migraines. On February 4th, half of one of her lungs was removed for a biopsy. She started to have seizures and short-term memory loss. On February 14th, she came home to Missouri (she had been in Norfolk, VA). She couldn't walk anymore, and couldn't eat without help. A week later, on February 21st, she was diagnosed with meningitis (which is not the first diagnoses), but it ended up being a false positive. Anytime we talked to her, she'd tell us she was getting better - but most of the time she wasn't coherent. She'd say things that didn't make sense, very random things. On March 2nd, she went into a coma. She died on March 3rd. There still hadn't been any diagnosis.

After six months, and a very intense autopsy, it was determined that Patty had contracted both ADEM and AHLE, the later of which is almost always fatal. Even if the doctors had been able to diagnose her, there is no treatment or cure.

There's a lot of things that make this really really difficult. Many people don't understand, in fact, I don't think anyone who hasn't experienced this knows what it's like. It's hard. There's no one to be angry at - Patty wasn't killed by a drunk driver or a common cancer. There's no walk or benefit that we can attend to help. The diseases that Patty had were so rare...no one knows what they are. Patty was so young, and so good. She was the best out of all of us - she would use an entire paycheck to purchase a birthday gift, even if it meant not eating lunch for a week. She would help anyone and everyone she came across. She would have been a fantastic mother one day, she loved children so much. It's a life that's just been snuffed - there was so much there. It's hard to say good-bye to someone like that - your own age. It just makes you feel so mortal. My life, everything I have, could be gone tomorrow. So many people put things ahead of what really matters - friends and family.

Patty's death has brought our yg together, but at the same time, it's torn us apart. It's hard to be with each other when she's not there. I'll never be able to think of Chucks again (her favorite shoe) or eat Sour Patch Kids without hearing her giggle and scream, "You ate my kids!" It's hard to see her parents, to know that they'll never see their youngest daughter walk down the aisle or have a child of her own.

Patty was buried two years ago today. It was my 20th birthday. I will never celebrate a birthday without hearing "Eagle's Wings" or thinking of her. But one day, I will be able to live life like her. She wouldn't have wanted us to mourn, but if it had been her, she would have. Today, I work on healing. I'm always working on it. I'm working on celebrating the life that was put on Earth to do something better - but accomplished it way too soon.

The Newspaper Article about her death: 70 Days to Live

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

True/False Film Festival, 2010

This weekend the True/False Film Festival happened here in CoMo. It's an awesome event that happens every year, and they premiere films from the Sundance Film Festival and such. It's a documentary film fest, and all non-fiction. Here's a brief description from the site:

"The True/False Film Fest returns for its seventh edition Feb. 25 - 28, 2010. The festival highlights innovative work with a cinematic scope, creative takes on contemporary currents, and most of all work that provokes dialogue about its subject and the documentary form itself.
For four days, downtown Columbia, Missouri is transformed into a small-town Midwestern utopia. Most films come freshly discovered from Sundance, Toronto and other festivals, others appear mysteriously before their official premieres elsewhere. Sandwiched between the nonstop movies, we throw parties, host debates and field trips, and challenge local filmmakers to reimagine the possibilities of nonfiction filmmaking."
I've seen a number of movies at this festival in the last four years I've lived here. Sometimes, they're amazing - fun, interesting, and informative. Other times they're...well, they're not so great. Because they're generally made by small-time producers with no guidelines, some of the films can get a bit off the wall, and a little too out there (for me at least). Never the less, they're still amazing to go see.

The festival is run by volunteers for the most part. While I've never gotten the change to volunteer, this year Jayme and Allie did. Jayme was a Juggernaut, and clocked something like 52 hours in a week (most of it over the weekend). She literally had 15+ hour days working for T/F - but she loved it. Allie worked the March March Parade (that anyone can participate in) and the Weird Wake-Up, which is breakfast and a movie. They got to see any movies they wanted for free (whereas I paid $6 a ticket) and had a couple after-parties as well.

Sean and I went and saw two movies while we were at the festival.

The first, Waking Sleeping Beauty, is a documentary about Walt Disney Studios in the 80s and 90s. It had all original film footage, including caricatures from the artists, unfinished and deleted scenes from films like The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, and footage of the artists at "work," acting out storyboards and sketching. It was amazing.

The second film we saw was GasLand. We probably wouldn't have gone to see it, but Lyndsey gave us free tickets, compliments of the J-School, so we went. It was actually surprisingly good. It talked about the dangers of natural gas, but moreso how natural gas isn't regulated. I'm generally not one for "save the earth" advocacy films, but this was so informative, rather than authoritative.

In any case, if anyone is ever in CoMo around the end of February, NEVER hesitate to check out T/F. This closing video totally captures the spirit of T/F:

Sean's Ring - Part 2

We're still on the hunt for Sean's ring. We're both pretty picky individuals I suppose, so it's no wonder we're hunting down the perfect ring. The past two weekends we've visited a number of jewelry stores, including every single one in Mid Rivers Mall. Did you know there are eight jewelry stores there? Eight. Some of them didn't have anything. We walked in, took one glance, and left. They had all the current styles, but of course nothing Sean liked. Some of those times, we didn't even talk to anyone. Other times we did, and luckily, salesmen are much less pushy about men's rings. We did, however, find two that Sean liked at Mid Rivers.

The first one was at Hannoush Jewelers, but unfortunately I can't find a photo of it online. In any case, Sean didn't like how it was too much brushed metal, though it had an awesome inlay design. Unfortunately, it was a bit too intricate I think. Who'd have thought that could happen?

Next up is a ring from Zales, and the only other ring he liked at the mall. This is actually his favorite ring so far (I think). I wouldn't be surprised if this is the ring I slip on his finger either. Best part? It's also the least expensive. It's super cool looking though, with a mix of brushed metal and shiny metal, but it's all still pretty flush (unlike the Hannoush ring that I can't show you).
(Zales Ring)
Finally, we did a bit of shopping down in CoMo. There's not many jewelry stores around, and most of those are just branches of ones we'd already visited in StP. So we stopped by Buchroeder's after a bit of True/False movie action, and found this one: 

Sean really liked this ring too, though not as much as the one prior. This one comes with a pretty hefty price tag though, because it's made of Palladium. Don't know what that is? Don't worry, I didn't either. It's a metal that's very similar to platinum, so it's very durable. It's naturally white, so it'll never discolor over time either. However, Sean plans to be in a fairly low-impact profession (read: sits in an office all day), so durability has never been a concern. 
And so the search continues. Maybe we'll wait until we get to Location X to find his ring?

Color Vision

Today, I took the color hue test thingy ma-bob. Ever heard of it? You put colors in order of their hue, and then are scored on how well you did. The lower your score, the better, with zero being the perfect score. Guess how's yours truly did? ZERO! I have perfect color vision! Don't believe me? I took a screen shot:
Someone didn't get their dad's color blindness! Though, I imagine it would be hilarious to watch him try to do this quiz.