Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wedding-Planning Distractions

Right now I could go on and on about how ridiculous planning  a wedding can get.  I'm sure there will be a time and place for that post but it's certainly not today. I will be ready to write all about the planning process once I can look back and laugh at it. This may be after the birth of my first child though so don't hold your breath for it.


I realized that it has been far too long since I've put up any photos - especially ridiculous dog photos which I know are everyone's favorite!

For those who are curious - I did not have to hop a spaceship to Endor in order to snap photos of this creature. Though it strongly resembles an Ewok I assure you it is a dog that goes by the name of Daisy and belongs to my lovely sister.



And that so silly-looking it's cute under bite? You're welcome. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And You Thought I Hated Math.

It has been a long time since I've written anything. On this blog.  I realize this. It saddens me and I fully plan to unsuccessfully attempt to make up for it with a really cheesy piece that I have so eloquently titled "Rachel's Fall - By the Numbers." Also known as an abbreviated version of the last month and a half.

I ordered 100 save the dates today.

The last time I posted was 46 days ago.

My save the dates will go out at least 23 days later than I had scheduled them. Letting go of the OCD in 3...2...

Eddie can now chase his tail up to 20 consecutive rotations and still walk a straight line immediately following.

I sent approximately 15 emails about the YWCA's Santa Store at work this week *HINT HINT* Check it out.  If you want to help someone less fortunate than you have Christmas this year I will make it happen.

 8 walls in our home are now coated in fresh paint.

I have found at least 5 coarse gray hairs growing from my head. Either I'm working too hard or I got the short end of the genetic stick. I am told they start at the crown and take over by the time you're thirty (thanks Dad!).

We've had 4 movies ruined by malfunctioning sound systems and screens, as well as unattended, noisy adolescents. I wanted to blog about this, but exercised restraint for fear of sounding like a grumpy old lady.

Apparently 3 days is how long you can drive a 1998 Honda Accord on empty before you find out that the low fuel light doesn't work and Joel has to walk home to get the gas can while you wait in the car with your hazards on for twenty minutes.

Only 2 people/questions I voted for in the election actually won/passed. I'm now done mourning. Thanks.

And we booked  1 honeymoon that is only 166 days away!

So that is what's going on. Basically I can sum it up in three words: wedding planning, working, and home improving. Damn - three things, 5 words. You get the gist.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wait Wait... Okay I'll Tell You.

Somewhere, some study shows that people who spend money on experiences are happier in life than those who choose to spend money on material things. Now I'm fairly certain this really has been proven, but it's Saturday morning and as much fun as researching some statistic sounds, you're just going to have to take my word for it.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that for the last couple of years, Joel and I have made a tradition of not buying each other stuff for our birthdays (which fall within a week of each other). This tradition started accidentally last year, and continued accidentally this year, so I figure that next year it will continue - especially now that I've chosen to blog it.

I was a little nervous about topping last year's floor tickets to Star Wars in Concert that I got Joel. It's not every day you can take your boyfriend to see the actual Chewbacca get up while C3PO narrates the Star Wars saga to a full orchestra, to the back drop of the Death Star on the largest LCD screen in existence.

In true nerd fashion, however, I did it.  Nine times out of ten if you get in car belonging to Joel or Rachel NPR is on, and because we are sinners and rarely go to church, we almost always listen to Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me on Sunday mornings. This week the folks from this "oddly informative" weekly news quiz brought the show to OKC and you guessed it - Joel's birthday present was tickets.

The Civic Center was totally packed, and as host Peter Sagal said, it was "good to have all the liberals from the state of Oklahoma in one place - all 13 of them here in the front two rows."

The show was impeccably written, hilariously witty, and every joke was spot on and relevant.  The panelists on the show, usually celebrities, political writers, or journalists, completely improvise their part, and Joel and I are still in awe talking about it.

After seeing the show live we definitely have a new appreciation for what goes into it, and would attend another in a second if given the opportunity.  In our digital, big screen TV society, it's easy to forget the power of a medium like radio. It may not offer flashy CGI or real 3-D, but it gives us real people talking about things that are going on in the real world, and the raw talent of the writers, comedians, and the whole cast prove that it doesn't take a bunch of flashy stuff to create quality entertainment.

So to wrap this long story up, I'm going to tell you that you need to listen to Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me tomorrow, and if you're hell-bent on going to church, you can check it out online. Really. I've already heard it so I know it's good, and if you listen closely to the laughter - you can think, "Hey, that's Joel and Rachel laughing in there somewhere."

"Wait does Inhofe know we are all here? All of us. Here. In one place?
-Mo Rocca

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

They say it's your birthday.

I will officially be 24 in approximately 8.5 hours. Neat. There's not really anything big about 24 - it's just another year. It will probably rain tomorrow, as it usually does on my birthday, which I secretly love.  My 23rd year was pretty good though, and I guess I'm getting slightly reflective, so I'm sorry if I get all sappy on you. Consider yourself forewarned.

I'm planning to marry my best friend and partner in crime, and we've bought our first house and are attempting to make it our own on a budget. This year has seen a couple of jobs, even a career start. I guess you could say I'm feeling a bit more like an adult now. I suppose 23 turned me into one of those. Sort of. Okay maybe.

There is something, however, about a birthday that epitomizes being a child, at least for me. I was always going back to school and on the cusp of fall, usually the Carter County Free Fair was in full swing. The anticipation of a birthday morning rivaled that of Christmas Eve.

I remember one birthday in particular, on a school day, where I woke up to a dozen donuts on the kitchen table - my favorite one with approximately 7 candles stuck in it, piercing little holes for the cherry filling to seep out and mix with the dripping wax before I took a big breath and blew them all out, probably wishing for an A+ on that day's spelling test. I was in the second grade and it was still dark outside.  It was so special because everyone got up early for me. And of course, there were presents - I don't remember what - but the day was special.

This year will probably be a little different. Rather than birthday cards, I will receive Facebook notifications, text messages, and of course phone calls from family. And what I really want? Just a normal day and time with those I love. And also to not do any dishes. Yes, that would be just lovely.

rocking the pigtails circa 1988

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Couch to 5K-ing

There are a handful of things I flat out dislike - things like biting into popsicles (hair on my arms is standing up), getting stuck behind slow walkers, Sally Kern, elevators, and of course, running.

I've always been more of a brisk walker, yoga doer, and ballet dancer than a runner or any kind of athlete. The lifestyle change that came with graduating college has forced me, however, to change my ways. I don't have the luxury of a gym within walking distance, or dance classes as part of my curriculum, and I am concerned about what kind of shape my heart is in due to a lack of aerobic activity.

By some bizarre act of God, I have committed myself (along with my nearly-husband) to complete Couch to 5K, a nine-week program designed to get my out of shape behind, well,  in shape and ready to run 3 miles.

We just completed week 4, and I am shocked to say that I am kind of enjoying it while having my butt kicked at the same time.

The first couple of weeks, my internal, and sometimes external monologue was as follows:

   "Oh my God, how many more minutes do we have to RUN?"

   "This stitch in my side hurts so bad - what if I'm having a stroke?!"

   "I swear I have asthma like I did when I was in kindergarten. THAT MUST BE WHY I CAN'T BREATHE."

  "Thanks for the 110 degree weather Oklahoma City. I totally LOVE sweating like this. YEESH."

Okay moving on.

Perhaps it was the 75 degree evening, or just the fact that I'm progressing on this program, but tonight I actually -gasp- enjoyed my run. Okay run/walk, but whatever.

I can just feel my heart, and my legs getting stronger, and rather than feeling defeated like I used to when I would attempt a run around the neighborhood that inevitably ended after 15 minutes of wheezing and walking, I feel a sense of accomplishment that overshadows even the fact that I may have inhaled a bug that i quickly coughed back out again on one of tonight's sprints.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another Weird Story About Insurance

In case you didn't know, I have a very, very common name. My last name is in the top five most common last names in the United States, and "Rachel" is not exactly rare either. I've always had issues with other people having my same name. There was another "me" at the gym I went to in my home town, my dance studio, my college and there is one at the allergy clinic where I get my weekly shots. I'm  used to giving my middle initial and DOB to avoid a mix up more often than not.

With all of this in mind, I was still surprised last week to find a letter in my mailbox addressed to Rachel A. Chavez. It read:

     "Dear Mrs. Chavez,

      We have changed your name from Rachel A. Williams to Rachel A.         Chavez per your request. Your new insurance card is   enclosed."

Umm EXCUSE ME Blue Cross Blue Shield? I requested no such thing.

So I call them to explain, and of course they are very apologetic. They said they received a faxed request from me to change my name (no they didn't), but can't currently access said fax to verify. Basically I tell them that fax is not from me and that I'm totally freaked out about my privacy and whether or not I would even be legitimately covered were I to present my insurance card to my doctor. I am assured that they will fix this problem, and send me my new Rachel Williams card stat. Phew.

Fast forward a week and a half. I get a voicemail from BCBS. They let me know they have changed my name back, and my new insurance card is in the mail. They have also received my faxed marriage license, that I signed "Rachel Williams-Chavez" but they still just put Williams on my card per my request.

Again, Umm EXCUSE ME? There is no way that is my marriage license. What the hell BCBS, I thought we figured this out? 

So I call them again, and they pull the marriage license, compare it to my file and guess what? NOT MY MARRIAGE LICENSE. Different DOB, address, social, phone number, email, everything. Shocking!  Again, I am assured it is fixed.

To add fuel to my angry fire, I get put on hold for 15 minutes waiting to talk to claims about any issues there, and when I finally hear a human's voice, my iPhone drops the call. Brilliant. And basically, that is my horror story of BCBS transitional health insurance.

I am quite unnerved that someone was so careless regarding my records. Putting that license in my file was a blatantly careless mistake, and one that put my health care in jeopardy and my privacy on the line. I will continue to be nervous about my records for as long as I use them, which won't be much longer since my new-job insurance will kick in soon.

To put things in perspective though, the real tragedy here lies in the lives of my future children, who will probably have really strange names as a result of this horrible experience with Blue Cross Blue Shield. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Home Grown

As the new owners of our very own backyard, Joel and I have made an attempt at a small garden. We weren't here during prime planting season, so we opted for transplanting small plants rather than going from seed. Though my herb garden has been booming all summer (anyone need any basil?), I was nervous we wouldn't yield results from this year's vegetable garden.  A couple of weeks ago, however, Joel and I noticed some baby cucumbers as well as one notably giant yellow squash.

We wanted to see how big it would grow, but on Sunday night, our patience was running short and we decided it was time to eat our giant squash, and not without documenting our first successfully home-grown vegetable.

Note that the squash is comparable to the size of my nearly-husband's head.

Even the diameter of the squash was huge. Also, Eddie thought it was for him.

I did not take pictures of the cooked squash, because let's be real here, it looks like every other cut up and sauteed squash you have seen (mixed in with some broccoli and mushrooms and other goodies). Also, I was too hungry and excited to stop and snap a picture. Nonetheless we were pretty excited to have grown a huge chunk of our Sunday dinner.

For next year, I have aspirations for a much larger, more diverse garden since this year's has been pretty easy. Also, I am now taking recipe recommendations involving cucumbers, because we are about to have a whole slew of them ready for picking.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Eddie Versus the Water Hose

Here is that post I promised you about a month ago about Eddie, our rescued Jack Russell "Terror."*

I figured, however, that you already know how adopting a dog from a shelter saves an innocent life. You realize that these sweet little creatures don't love you any less just because they aren't designer dogs and you didn't pay an arm and a leg for them. I would even argue they love you more, and have a greater sense of appreciation, but that is just the crazy dog lady in me talking. Since you already know there are thousands upon thousands of animals, perfectly sweet and loving and deserving animals, waiting for someone to adopt them, and would certainly want to rescue, that I don't have to go on that whole spiel. Therefore, I am going to give you a glimpse into my backyard that will hopefully amuse you.

When we adopted Eddie, the one thing they warned me about, was that he was crazy about the water hose. I laughed, said that I bet it was funny, and it didn't bother me. I didn't realize that what they meant was "This dog REALLY goes totally maniacally crazy if you turn the hose on within a 100 yards of him."

Now that it's sweltering in Oklahoma City, we inevitably water the plants more often, and try to keep a kiddie pool freshly filled for the pups, lessening the odds they they will dig in the cool dirt. Below is what happens when we fill said pool.

And this is what happens when we try to water the plants.

Disclaimer: He is really not a spazz like this all the time. In fact, as I write this, he's curled up next to me snoring, like a normal calm little dog.

*A 4 year-old once referred to our terrier growing up as a terror and I find it endearingly accurate.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Day of the Dads

What a week it's been!  At last I am on the other side of the biggest  and most elegant event of the year at the YWCA and have finally found some time to sit down and decompress on this lovely Father's Day.  This was one of the craziest weeks I've had work-wise, but I'm as happy as a clam (there is a strange part of me that thrives on stress and pressure - sick, I know).

We managed to escape the week's aquacalypse with only one minor leak and a couple of muddy dogs, I actually cancelled cable (it's officially gone Tuesday), and I've only got one blister from running around in heels wedges for 5 hours last night. Success? I think so.

Things around the house did manage to fall behind, but I suppose that is natural. We managed to run out of laundry detergent, which led to running out of other things, and yesterday I woke to a kitchen stocked with 3 eggs, some string cheese, tortilla chip crumbs, and half a bottle of wine (which is not as bad as it sounds actually). Today's events, however, were a needed catalyst, and I'm now sitting in a clean house with a fully stocked refrigerator, listening to the washing machine work its magic.

This afternoon, Joel and I had my family over to our house for a Dad's Day cookout that quickly moved indoors due to some serious Oklahoma heat. It was so nice to have the whole family in the same place at the same time. We even taught Dad how to play Rock Band, Beatles style, which might have been the highlight of the afternoon - aside from the chocolate cake and beer that Mom and Dad brought with them.

And of course, I want to say thanks to my Dad for everything he does. I've got some great memories that range from Santa Suits and Three Stooges antics to simple words of encouragement at just the right moments. He's mastered the art of blending just the right amount of humor and encouragement, and is one of the most generous people I know. Love you Dad.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm Alive!

So, I didn't disappear or anything, and I'm still updating the ole blog. I have been awol around here because I just started a new job!  I've been PR and development assistant at the YWCA (for women, people, not the gym downtown) for a week, and it feels great.

I have jumped in head first, with the YWCA's biggest event of the year, Purple Sash, happening next Saturday. It's been a week of absorbing everything I could from my amazingly organized and put-together predecessor, memorizing names, and just learning the ropes. I'm thrilled to go into work every day knowing that the projects I tackle will yield results that help women in need. It exponentially increases job satisfaction.

I've also been working on home improvement projects here and there. I can now successfully wire indoor and outdoor light fixtures on my own (after suffering slight electrocution only once). I have sanded down and painted a bookshelf, done some decent gardening and outdoor furniture shopping, and made a home improvement to-do list to the moon and back.  We also recently discovered, upon running out of ice, that the previous homeowners took the ice maker from the freezer. Thanks a lot for that, you guys.

And let's also take a moment to recognize that my wedding is one year from this weekend.  Me being the bridezilla that I naturally am, I haven't done much of anything. The church is booked, yes, but that is it.  I've got a list for this too though, thanks to my wonderful supervisor at OCU LAW who gave me the most comprehensive year-long wedding planning book as a departure gift. Thanks Cheryl!

So there's the update for inquiring minds, and I'm leaving you with the promise of some more focused and less all-over-the-place posting in the near future.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And you think there is nothing wrong with our health care system?

Okay. So I need to rant here for a bit. If you don't want to hear it, don't say you weren't forewarned.

Firstly, I am incredibly fortunate to have insurance. I realize this and I am not whining about that.  I am merely expressing my frustration with a backwards-ass system.

I only have one medical issue that tends to require any kind of care, and that's my allergy shots. Because allergies are a pre-existing condition (I came out of the womb sneezing), and my deductible is so high I don't even want to talk about it, I pay a lot out of pocket. My insurance covers 42 cents of my weekly $20 shot at the clinic. Though, I find it worth the trade off as I can now walk outside in the spring and not burst into hives.  Moving on.

I decided, for the sake of geographical convenience and better time management, that I would start getting my shots at my regular doctor's office where I can make an appointment and not have to wait in line behind screaming children. Here was the conversation when I called them, attempting to set everything up.

Me: So how much will it cost to get my shot each week?

Receptionist: How much is your copay again?

Me: It's kind of high, it's $40, but is there a flat rate I can pay just to receive a shot from one of your nurses?

Receptionist: Yes, the flat rate is $20, but since you have insurance we are required to collect your copay. It's in our contract with all of the insurance companies that we must do that.

Me: So you're saying that even though it costs $20 to receive the shot, I have to pay $40 each week because I have insurance? I have to pay twice as much?

Receptionist: Yes. It's in our contract with the insurance companies. We can only give the flat rate to people who aren't insured. It's a binding contract, and that is what we are required to do by law.

Me: Okay, well I will not be doing that. Thank you for clarifying. Bye.

So there you have it. Thanks First Health!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rainy Day Blues

Well friends, it's storm season in Oklahoma, which means I'm just going to have to deal with the heavens waking me and our dogs* up at 3:00 a.m. on a regular basis, and be prepared for all four of us (don't forget about Joel the sleeping rock) to cram ourselves into the guest tub beneath a mattress. Thankfully, we've yet to resort to this.

To add fuel to that bummer of a fire, I realize my last post was around Easter.I don't know how that makes the ten or so of you that may actually read this blog feel, but I don't like it. And I'm going to assume that you don't either so that, if nothing else, I might be inspired to continue writing on a  regular basis. 

In fact, I'm going to start right now, with a story.

We have these crazy neighbors who have crazy dogs to match. They have  reiterated to us many more times than necessary, how even though said canines sound viscious, they really are just the sweetest things. I am unsure.  Regardless, because Princess and Buttercup (not made up names) incite our dogs to a 13 on a scale of 1-10, I usually herd them inside as soon as the barking begins. My dogs usually comply.

Now I don't know if if was a squirrel teetering on the fence between yards or what, but a couple of nights ago Scout and Eddie were resisting. I hear our neighbor screaming at his dogs to GO POTTY NOW! I hear the barking start, I manage to get Scout inside, and I realize if i don't shut the door behind me right this second she will  leap back outside continue securing the perimiter of the yard. With no time to grab the door knob, I grab it by its jamb, pull hard, and fail to fully remove my hand before it SLAMS SHUT ON MY MIDLE FINGER.

I get Eddie inside before I look down and realize it looks like I have a purple grape atop my middle finger, which is now larger than my thumb. I stare for a few more minutes, realizing the stupidity of what I had just done, then immediately burst into tears because I have obviously broken my finger.  It's almost as bad as the time I stepped on a cave cricket while barefoot and thought that I had surely been bitten by a brown recluse. Three ibuprofin, two hours, and one ice pack later, and Joel reassuring me that if I can still move it, it's not broken, I had calmed down and forgiven the dogs. Today, I back to typing 80 words per minute.

Next time, however, I am just letting them bark.

*Yes,we have rescued yet another dog, Eddie, who I promise I will post some pictures of later, that will be seemlessly incorporated into a post where I guilt you about not adopting your next pet from a shelter. So you can look forward to that.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

We're Home!

Even though you haven't seen me much around these parts,  I am still alive, and I'm writing from the new house. We are finally here, and boy do we have our work cut out for us. If your friends with Joel on Facebook, you can check out his "Cribs" video here where he explains where the salmon carpet and old linoleum will be going and gives a tour of the house.  If not, I will be posting pictures soon, and hopefully documenting our updates and renovations. 

Right now, we're just trying to sort through all the stuff we have collected over the past year at the duplex (that I swear has supernaturally multiplied), and get the new place clean. It feels great. We have so much space to just live, and Scout is noticeably happy with a back yard to romp around in. She was also great enough to take off down the block and introduce us to all the neighbors (i.e. she escaped, and we had to chase her, "Nice to meet you here's our unruly dog!").

All of that aside, I'm feeling fortunate right now. As my family is on their way from Ardmore, with more furniture in tow, and Joel is at his grandparents picking up hand me down yard equipment, I can't help but realize how wonderful our support system is. Joel's parents made this home a possibility for us, getting us on our feet in the world of credit, and friends are lending helping hands with the move.  Thank you to all, because I'm not sure Joel and I would even be here without you.

I've already spent too much time on the computer, after all there are plenty of things left to unpack and to do. As everything unfolds, get ready to see it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

And They're Still Together.

This is a post about the people who are responsible for the existence of yours truly - my parents. A few weeks ago they celebrated, to their own surprise, 25 years of marital bliss, or perhaps madness - tomato tomaato.

Anywho (as my mother would say), they are almost three years into an empty nest and have embraced it if I do say so myself.  They look great and are having fun with life. I can only hope when I am their age, which is of course just approaching thirty, that I look as happy, healthy, full of life, and beautiful as they do.

*Browse through more Photos on Flickr

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Heather + Jason = True Love 4 Ever

Well readers, I have officially made it beyond the realm of taking artsy, cutesy pictures of my dog. This is good news for me, and for you, as there will be considerably fewer pictures of Scout around these parts. Do not fear, however, she has a whole album dedicated to her.

Anyhow, I was flattered that my brave friend Heather asked me to snap some shots of her and her fiance, Jason, for their engagement.  It was a great experience for me, and luckily Heather is a graphic designer and photographer herself, so I learned a lot from her in the process. Since she's designing her save the dates and invites herself, she uploaded the files, got started, and my work was done.

I'm very happy with the results. And (giant sigh of relief) so are the future Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter.  I've gone ahead and tried out my editing skills, and have posted a handful of the pictures below. More can be found here, and hopefully I'll find some more time to edit the rest.  Heather did a fantastic job of editing them herself as well, and I hope she will post her mad photoshop skills on her blog, which you should check out.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Home Sweet New Home

After going through all the formalities and a scary, but surprisingly easy home search, I now feel that I can say, without jinxing the whole process, that Joel and I are buying a house.

Well, mostly Joel, but if I'm serious about marrying this guy, (which I am), for all purposes it's a joint venture.

Our future home has passed its inspection, and we have a closing date. Get ready for loads more "Tues-Do-It-Yourself" posts because home ownership is going to be our biggest project yet.  Every time something breaks, there will be no landlord to call.

A big heap of work is about to be thrown onto our metaphorical plate, and it is not going to be easy.  My type A, organizational self is about to get rocked as we move and remodel, so I'm trying really hard to mentally prepare for that. I would like to refrain from scarring Joel for life by freaking out over the way we box things up.

The house is a bit of a fixer upper, but it has good bones. New floors and trim are first on our to do list, followed by fresh coats of paint, and even a dreaded wallpaper stripping for the master bath.  We are hoping to be as sustainable as our budget will permit,  and Joel is already looking at easy ways for us to compost, garden, and conserve energy.

Most of all, I am ready for us to have a place that truly feels like it is ours. Many memories are going to be made within those walls, and I'm lucky to have a soul mate along for the ride. I'm starting to think I might be turning into an adult.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cloudy Day at the Farmer's Market

Last week, my awesome friend E-liz and I decided we would take a field trip to the farmer's market to engage in some photographing.  Even though it was cloudy and cold, we bundled up, grabbed our camera's, and got to shooting.  We both just enjoy a little creativity in our day, and it's a good stress-reliever to think about depth of fields and shutter speeds rather than mortgages, relationships, and jobs.  I may not be Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz, but a certain joy comes from looking throug a different lens at the world. And it's great to have friends that share in that feeling.

Black and white for a cloudy day.

Essence of E-liz

Flowers new and old.

 Behind the scenes of Pac Man.

*Browse through more Photos on Flickr

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tickling Ivories

I have an unhealthy fascination with pianos in homes. What can I say though, I've been playing since the day my motor skills would permit.  I still play from my old stack of classical books and sheet music on my digital piano, but nothing compares to feeling the reverberation of hammers on strings that comes with the real deal.

As Joel and I are embarking on homeownership - more details will come as events unfold - I have been trolling the interwebs for piano inspiration. I have also been diligently checking craigslist for a steal on a good looking upright.

This morning, I was clicking through home tours on one of my favorite blogs, Apartment Therapy, and I might sell my soul for some of these set ups.

This piano reminds me of the first piano I played, and I still remember the day My parents brought it home.  I climbed up onto the tall the bench and starting pinging out melodies from my favorite songs in The Little Mermaid.

And how can you go wrong with such a great punch of color and artwork?

I also love the idea of using something other than a traditional piano bench.

This black upright is by far my favorite. From the woodwork, to the green contrast wall, I am smitten.

I'm looking forward to a day when my home will accommodate one of these beautiful instruments. If I had my way, I would probably have a piano in every room. I do think Joel, however, will have to curb my little fetish as it could prove quite expensive and I doubt our first home will have that kind of square footage.

Friday, March 19, 2010


During college, I had my fill of late night Taco Bell drive thru visits, cheap drinks,  late-night studying, and waking up ten minutes before I had to be somewhere because I could just throw on a hoodie. I like to think , even though I attended a small, private university, that I got the whole "college experience." I kept busy, always in some organization or another, making a short film or planning a charity event, squeezing in some time to study, and hoping to find a moment to see my boyfriend here or there. 

Now, almost a year after graduation,I have come to the realization that I missed an integral part of the college experience: Ramen. 

As any poor college student knows, you can't even buy a pop with  a quarter, but you can get a meal's worth of Ramen.  I recall purchasing the little square orange packages, seeing them in my pantry, glancing at the nutritional value and sodium levels, then settling for a peanut butter sandwich instead.  I've mashed the cruncy uncooked noodles and sprinkled them atop a salad, but never have I fully prepared the warm noodle dish of the Americas.

A few days ago, however, I found myself crunched for time as I took my lunch break at home. I also found an empty peanut butter jar. Perched on one of the topmost shelves of my pantry were some orange packages just within reach, full of chicken flavored Ramen. I decided it was time.

The meal was okay, not the most satisfying dish I've ever had, but worth all 25 pennies that sacrificed their place in my wallet so that I could enjoy a hot meal. As I make my fouray into adulthood, a mortgage, and trying to save money, I can see where this 25-cent delight might come in handy

But now that the peanut butter jar is full again, we'll have to see.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Lately, Joel and I have found a hobby we can enjoy together: creating music. As he plays his guitar, I improvise along on my piano.  He's been collecting a bevy of pedals and arranging them to manipulate the sound, and of course, they are starting to stack up in our tiny little music room/office/laundry room/bicycle storage room and we need a more efficient method of display and transport.

To combat the clutter, and also to create a more efficient pedal set up, Joel needed a pedal board.  Rather than spend a ton of money, we set out to create our own for under $10. 

We found an awesome baby blue suitcase at a thrift store for $4 and discovered it came with a matching smaller one that fit inside it. I had an idea for that up my sleeve as well.

With the suitcase open, and the pedals sitting directly inside, Joel was unable to foot-tap them easily while playing. To create a more flush surface, we picked through the scrap wood pile at Lowes, grabbing a couple of 2X4's and a piece of plywood that we had cut to fit right inside. That ended up costing us a whopping zero dollars. Thanks Lowes!

We nailed the 2X4's to the plywood and painted it with leftover gray paint from a previous thrift store furniture project. After a quick dry with the hair dryer (Joel was impatient) it was ready to set into the suitcase. Next Joel attached velcro we purchased at good ole' Walmart for around 5 bucks to the pedals, with corresponding pieces on the board. When he wants to experiment with different combinations, it's now very easy to rearrange the pedals. 

Then with a little help from Scout, he wired everything up, and was ready to play.  

With the velcro, suitcase, and free wood, we spent about $9. We will need some heavy duty glue to keep the board form shifting during transport, and we are pricing some vintage guitar latches so that we can eventually remove the suitcase lid entirely while playing, but still have the option of closing it. For now, however, everything works just fine.

And since I know you're curious about what became of the smaller suitcase, here it is. After using a little elbow grease to remove the hinges and upper lid, and finding the perfect color pillow case for an old pillow, I stuffed it inside the deeper side and viola! Scout is now as snug as a bug in a rug, or a dog in a suitcase really.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Staying In

So here is my much overdue see-I-can-be-like-Betty-Crocker post. 

One trait that Joel and I have in common is our distaste for large crowds and lines. We prefer to frequent trendy restaurants on weeknights, and are of the belief that we can create just as great of an experience within the walls of our little duplex as we can pay for elsewhere.  That being said, for our anniversary-slash-Valentine's Day experience this year, the Williams-Durham household have started a new tradition.

Dining in.

Now, I am not really not a spectacular cook. I can bake a mean sugar cookie, but I am still learning as far as everyday meals go.  Macaroni and a steamable bag of broccoli would not do. I had a great recipe for garlic stuffed mushrooms up my sleeve, found one in Real Simple for a delicious glazed Salmon, and left a green vegetable to Joel.

I opted to go to a seafood market for the Salmon, I wanted it to be fresh and a good quality.  This was completely worth it. It was more expensive then what I would find at a grocery store, but still not as expensive as a restaurant, and the quality was stellar.  

Joel cooked the fresh asparagus in the spices that were left over from sautéing the stuffing for the mushrooms for some great added flavor.  

Next we added a bottle of Chimay, some candles, and set the table.   

I have to say, I am proud of cooking such a grown-up meal. And also, I feel that I am turning into my mother. I suppose this is okay though, she is a fantastic chef. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Doin' It Myself.

I have really been wanting a graphic sign to hang above my fireplace. Like many fresh out of college  and broke kiddos, I try to stick to a budget. Unfortunately, said sign was not within said budget.  Luckily, I stumbled upon this piece of inspiration while perusing some design blogs and was inspired to custom create my own fabulous piece of artwork. 

I ventured out to my local craft store and purchased a large canvas (that was on sale), a tube of brown acrylic paint, and some stick on vinyl Helvetica letters (also on sale, booyah). I had a small paint roller and paint brushes at home that I used for painting and touching up.

After finally deciding what awesome words of wisdom I would use, I painstakingly stuck the letters on the canvas. Keeping them (mostly) straight was difficult for me, but a temporary ruler made of thread with small pieces of duct tape on either end helped that process somewhat.  After that, I just had to apply two even coats of paint.

Now, in my infinite wisdom, I was a little over zealous with the rolling action and an "O" and an "E" sticker stuck to my paint roller and popped right off. Fortunately the paint didn't run and delicately retouching the areas with a small brush did the trick.

After that I let the paint dry, peeled the letters, and hung my new piece of artwork. I must say I enjoy having a tribute to one of the most rad things to come out of Oklahoma City in my living room. It also helps that once all was said and done, I ended up spending around 30 dollars.

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes - let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It's hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun don'-go down
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.
- The Flaming Lips

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Give Me a Little Credit, Please.

Lately I've been pretty frustrated with the banks. I'm a sensible girl, no credit cards, no outstanding loans, still driving the old paid off Jeep from high school, decent savings account. 

I recently applied for a home loan and was denied on the basis that I have no credit history. And you know, that sucks. I thought I was doing the right thing by not racking up a credit card or taking out student loans. I thought paying rent and utilities on time for two years would do some good.

And according to the loan counselor, this time last year, it would have.

So I decide I'll get a credit card, put my groceries on it, pay it off on time, maybe take out a small loan and pay it back right on time. I can get my credit up. Credit card application number 1: DENIED. Credit card application number 2: DENIED. I don't qualify for any small loans, I don't even qualify for a Gap card. Joel finds himself in the same predicament, and in order to take out a loan, he has to back the entire loan up with a savings account, then jump through a handful of hoops after that.

I do feel something is wrong with this system. It's seemingly impossible to build up credit if you don't already have some. Yea economy!

I do, however, have a secret weapon against you Uncle Sam, and you can't stop me. My secret weapon is my awesome Uncle K who is willing to add me to his credit card account and teach me the ways of the banker. 

So for that, I say thanks, for helping me to my feet, and pushing me in the direction of being able to invest my money in something. U.K., you're the best.

He's the one on the left with the bowl cut.

Friday, January 29, 2010

You're Doing It Wrong.

I suppose it is safe to say I have not had the greatest of weeks. I know I have no real excuse to be whiney, but an extreme case of cabin fever is bringing out every little frustration I have. I can, however, find an upside to everything as I will now demonstrate in order to bring myself out of this funk.

The week began with a pretty brutal stomach flu that knocked me out for the better part of three days and kept me inside during some beautiful 60+ degree weather. Nothing like spending the night on a bathroom floor that you didn't get around to cleaning the week before to remind you how comfy your bed is.  Bright side? I can fit into jeans from high school, at least until I am fully hydrated again.

So after this gorgeous spring day that I spend inside vomiting, what would happen but an ice storm that keeps me inside for several more days.  And of course my warmest coat and gloves are inside of my car, which is parked in the driveway sealed shut with ice.  Bright side? We don't have to go anywhere anyway,  I'm off work for a day and a half with no power outages or frozen pipes (yet, knock on wood).

We took a walk around the neighborhood today, camera in tow, so I was also going to post pictures of the icepocalypse 2010. Iphoto, however, has decided it doesn't want to recognize certain files and refuses to import pictures from today, so that's not going to happen. Brightside for me? Brother-in-law bringing me a new program.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Desk Jockey

I am (hopefully) momentarily beyond pretending I am happy about going to work Monday morning. I'm going to blame this on two things: Christmas vacation and and the recession. My recent vacation spoiled me, and the recession is my go to blame-monger of late since there's no actual person at which I throw my negative vibes, therefore keeping my hypothetical karma in check.

Amidst my exciting daily tasks of answering phones, opening mail, signing for the occasional package, and hunting down obscure lost/misplaced materials per the dean's request, I find myself day dreaming about more frivolous career paths that would allow me to sleep later and wear jeans on a daily basis - or at least get me away from a desk.

With job satisfaction at an all time low, surveys suggest that Americans are getting bored.  I do find that my creative juices are stagnant. As a recovering theatre major and wannabe photographer, the excitement that comes with creating something is simply not happening enough for me from 8-5 o'clock Monday through Friday.

I have decided to combat this nation-wide boredom one person at a time (starting with yours truly) by embarking on a side project: pet photography. Yes, I am going to make my frivolous career aspirations a reality. I'm already taking ridiculous photos of my dog so call me up readers, let me photograph your furry friends.  If this takes off, I may even hire a part-time pooper scooper to take care of on-the-job mishaps therefore contributing to a drop in the current unemployment rate. It's a booming time to start a business anyway so I'm about 98 percent sure this is going to yield heavy profits.

Sarcasm aside, I'm actually looking for a reason to post dog pictures. I got a new camera lens this week and the only live beings to photograph were Joel and Scout since we were stuck inside trying to combat the arctic tundra that is Oklahoma City. So see below for gratuitous dog pictures. My sincerest apologies for the recent crazy dog lady postings.

The dog whisperer
Hide and go peek
Precious Pup

Because right now, this is a job. If I advance any higher, this would be my career. And if this were my career, I'd have to throw myself in front of a train. 
~Jim Halpert, The Office