Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Specs!

Today was an exciting day!

After two and a half years with my favorite red specs, I headed to Lens Crafters to purchase a new pair. While I do love the red ones, they were getting pretty worn out and the coating was starting to wear off, leaving me with some blurry spots.

While I could have kept the same pair and just purchased new lenses, I decided it was time for a change. After trying on a few different pairs, I settled on a cute pair of tortoiseshell frames. Check them out!

The tortoiseshell isn't too bold, and the frames are super lightweight and fit my face well. They are also significantly cleaner than my current pair, so I can actually see. Love em!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Looking Back...

Last March, I was fortunate to have the experience of going on a week-long mission trip with 33 of the students with whom I work, and a co-worker. We spent their Spring Break together doing home repairs in Appalachia, one of the poorest areas of the country. The poverty there is not due to a natural disaster, it's present all the time. It's a place that seems to be forgotten by the rest of the United States, yet one that's filled with love.

When we returned from the trip, I marked my calendar for today to send all of the students the letters that they wrote while on the trip. They've been in my desk drawer for the last four months, waiting to be sent at a time when the students will be both physically and mentally preparing to come back to school. Our goal was that they'd get there letters and return to campus with a renewed energy about our trip, ready to encourage others to share in the experience this year. It felt really good putting the envelopes in the mail.

I then opened my own letter, written on bright orange paper. It was interesting to read and reflect on the experience and where my mind was at while serving there. One of the main things that I wrote about was wanting to live my life more simply - focusing on the things that really matter. I am glad to say that it wasn't just a thought that came up while serving and then was left behind in Appalachia. Ive really made an effort to focus on simplifying my life. Some of this has been due to my goal to eliminate my debts, but it has also been with an attempt to focus on my relationships and my family. I am inspired to keep working towards this.

I can't wait to head back to ASP again this spring!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Meet Me at the Muny...The Muny in Forest Park!

The hills are alive...

That's right, you know it..."With the Sound of Music!"

I finally got over to The Muny this week to see The Sound of Music. It was fabulous! I haven't seen the movie in forever, but the musical totally brought me back to all of the fantastic songs. Plus, we sat in the free seats, so it was a totally budget-friendly outing. We may have been too far back to make out anyone's face, but we could certainly hear - which is really the important part.

As we were waiting in line to go in, we happened to be standing next to the little girl playing Gretl, and her crowd of adoring fans. She was super cute when she explained to her posse that "When I'm on stage I really just want to smile all the time, but it's really hard because in the beginning I'm supposed to be all grumpy and have a frownie-face." Life is so hard when you're a little child star, right?!

We also met a lovely 91 year old who sat near us. She told us all about her 11 year old cat and her 90th birthday party. She also shared her binoculars with us. So sweet. If only I could remember her name.

Perhaps my favorite part of the show, outside of the actual show itself, was the little boy sitting in front of us. He was probably six or seven, and was there with two women and a handful of other kids. While the friend/brother/cousin next to him sat and read Where's Waldo the whole time (probably pretty challenging in the dark), this little boy was on the edge of his seat the whole time. When Rolf sang "You are 16 going on 17," he leaned over and told his friend/brother/cousin, he leaned over and said "he's 17," in just the most precious way. Love it!

Overall, the show was amazing. Maria was outstanding at her part, as was the nun who sang "Climb Every Mountain." I had chills. If you have the chance to see it, definitely do!

Bucky Shot of the Week

Look at this cutie!

Three years ago this week, I picked up Bucky from a farm in Central Iowa. This was the shot from when I first put him into the carrier to drive 45 minutes home with him crying the entire way. He didn't have a name yet because I didn't know if he was a boy or a girl. Would you have been able to figure it out? 

Just a few days after I got him, he drove 6 hours in a U-Haul with me to St. Louis, again crying the entire way. Ahh, the adventures that we've had together. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fruits and Veggies...YUM!

I've been trying to get back on track with fresh, healthy eating and to prepare more of my meals. Thank goodness that there are so many delicious fruits and veggies available this time of year!

Last week (before the conference started), I made a delicious veggie meal with a grilled portabella mushroom cap covered in goat cheese, a steamed artichoke heart with a lemon butter dipping sauce (okay, less healthy), a mini-pita, and a spinach salad with dried cranberries (oh, and more goat cheese). Okay, maybe not the healthiest, but certainly much better than the crap that I eat most of the time.

Look at all those colors! Need a close up?

So, of course this delicious meal was followed by a whole week of excessive eating and lots of indulgences. Feeling like my body needs a cleanse, I headed to the farmer's market this weekend and stocked up on a whole lot of goodness - delicious wheat bread, garlic, cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, peaches, green beans, and fresh corn. 

For dinner tonight, I started off by making a delicious heirloom tomato salad, with a variety of tomatoes, red wine vinegar, olive oil, a little salt and pepper, and oregano. I topped it off with a handful of goat cheese for a beautiful, colorful salad.

I also added some hummus, pita bread, and a whole bunch of sliced cucumbers for the following:

Yum, yum, and yum! So good.

I don't necessarily eat like this all the time, but it's so great when I can!

A Delicious New Find

I'd been hearing about a really cute little place near where I live, Winslow's Home right on Delmar. I'm excited to say that Chris and I had the chance to check it out this weekend.

It's sort of part-cafe, part general store. The menu is small, and the foods are simple, but delicious. The ingredients come mainly from their own local farm, which is also really cool. The tables are surrounded by a variety of items for sale - fresh produce, kitchenware, cute kids stuff, and a whole lot more. 

Since we went for brunch, I got the rolled omelet, which was filled with tomatoes, basil, and fontina cheese. As a side, I had some delicious potatoes and onions. Chris got the grilled cheese, which looked amazing too.

If you are in St. Louis, definitely check it out! 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Movie to See: Despicable Me

Chris was in town this weekend, and we had the chance to go see Despicable Me, the new Steve Carrell animated movie. Steve plays Gru, a villain, who just can't seem to find success in his feats nor meet the expectations of his mother. He is further troubled by competition from fellow villain Vector, who is played by Jason Segel. To assist him in stealing a shrink ray from Vector, Gru adopts three young orphan girls and finds himself with a whole new life as villain dad, while also managing an army of minions.

It is definitely a new story that we haven't seen before. The preview does give away some of the better moments, but I'll just say that there is a great scene with a kids book that made me tear up at the end. I won't give the rest of the story away, but will just say that it is super cute and worth a trip to the theater.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bucky Shot of the Week

Is it football season yet?

Book #6: Vanishing Acts

Yup, more Jodi Picoult. Although this time, I ended up getting an audio book. With those long car rides across various states, it made sense to use the time with something productive, rather than listening to the same CDs over and over. With 14 CDs, at about an hour each, I finished the book in roughly two weeks. Not bad at all. I have a second audio book - it'll be interesting to see how long it takes me to finish this one during regular daily trips.

As per the others, this book focuses on a variety of different character's viewpoints, and includes challenging topics like kidnapping, alcoholism, and love triangles. Picoult includes interesting settings and themes....there is a whole Native American storyline in this book, the main character does search and rescue with her bloodhound, and one character even gives a detailed description as to how to make meth. The scenes from prison were probably the most difficult to listen to, but contributed to the overall story. It's amazing the things she ties in.

Vanishing Acts was good, although not necessarily my favorite of the Jodi Picoult books I've now read. (I think I'm partial to My Sister's Keeper, or The Pact so far). I found it more difficult to like most of the characters. Perhaps that relates back to a main theme that seems to appear in her books - everyone is flawed.

On to the next book.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Watch This: Food Inc.

I just took the opportunity to watch Food Inc., a documentary by Eric Schlosser (who wrote Fast Food Nation) and Robert Kenner that looks at the food industry in the United States. It takes aim at the large corporate farms that produce almost all of the food that we consume. The large-scale industrial production is shown to be harmful to the environment and to the people eating it.

Beyond that, the film shows that it is cheaper to eat unhealthy food like fast food, soda and candy, than it is to eat fruits and vegetables, contributing to the obesity of our county, especially among the lower economic classes.

It was also interesting to see that many of the organic companies that we see at our grocery stores have been bought out by the larger agri-business companies. Did you know that Kellogg owns Kashi and Morningstar Farms? Or that Tom's of Maine (organic soap) is owned by Colgate-Palmolive and Burt's Bees is owned by Clorox? Odwalla is owned by Coca Cola. Even Ben and Jerry's is owned by Unilever. It makes sense that the giant corporations would want to buy out these products, which are seen to be the good ones. But it is important to know that's where they are coming from.

The film, although controversial, does raise a lot of questions about what we are eating. The answer seems to be a lot of corn. While I don't do a very good job about eating organic and eating local, this does make me want to make more of an effort. I have great resources around me, including a great Farmer's Market. While it may take a little more effort and a little more money, it seems to be a much bettter choice in the long run.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book #5: The Tenth Circle

So I had originally planned to read The Help by Katherine Stockett, as it is all the rage right now. Unfortunately, I had to take it back to the library before I was finished. So I instead turned my attention to The Tenth Circle, another book by Jodi Picoult.

This book revolves around a family that is torn apart by a rape accusation. Similar to her other books, there are a variety of different elements thrown into the story, including Dante's Inferno, the Alaskan Wilderness, and graphic novels. The father draws comics and graphic novels that feature a father and daughter. It was interesting to see the pages included in the book.

Overall, I thought this was a great book. The different view points in the story keep you on your toes, waiting to hear what happens next. I've heard that it was made into a movie, which I'm hoping to find via Netflix. I believe it was of the made-for-TV variety, but it could still be good. I do love a good Lifetime flick every once in awhile.

Monday, July 12, 2010

12 Days Later...

So I disappeared again! This time, home to Milwaukee for the 4th of July and a few Dave Matthews Band concerts. After that, a six-day detour to Indiana to assist in facilitating a student program before heading back to St. Louis. Lots of adventures to share! Unfortunately, I'm exhausted, so they'll have to wait...

A belated Happy Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bucky Shot of the Week

This is an older shot, I believe from Christmas. Bucky went home to my mom's with me and got to see his best friend Louie, who is a BIG boy. For some reason the two decided to share the chair. It didn't last long. See...

They did make up and could later be found under the tree together.

What a cute little pair!
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