Sunday, January 30, 2011

Preparation

John is going to be home with me the day of the surgery and for my Friday follow-up so I'll have two days on my own. I'm really not concerned because I am a total grump when I'm not feeling well and like to be left alone. In fact my mom cracked up when I told her about an offer to take me to lunch one of those days. Then she went on about some of my childhood stories of my being sick and absolutely horrible when anyone tried to take care of me. She is also recovering from back surgery she had a month ago and I think is feeling bad that she can't be here to take care of me (even when I'm awful I do still want my mom). She couldn't make the drive unless someone took her and I did joke with her about her and I setting up in the master bedroom recovering while poor John gets moved into the guest room.

My only real concern is getting ice packs on a regular basis the second day. So John's solution:

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Yes. A mini fridge has temporarily replaced my nightstand. (Please excuse the camera phone pic). It reminds me of my college dorm room almost - minus the bunk beds! I've got it stocked with plenty of little snacks, juice, water, gatorade, whatever I may need, including the ice packs. I took one of the containers from the office and filled it with yarn and current knitting projects, magazines and books. I've got my pain pills, cell phone charger, and my laptop will eventually make its way there too.

Now if I can only find a way for the dogs to let themselves out so they leave me alone.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Growth


IMAG0178, originally uploaded by f_a_h.

These are my Amish Paste tomatoes that have sprouted. They share a tray with the jalapenos and the cherry tomatoes that I planted over the weekend. I moved the trays to the front window this year. It's in the kitchen so it's nice and warm and obviously the seeds like it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bathroom Reno

So let's see.....we started the bathroom projects back in June. Yep. June. It all started with these lights.

These ugly, gold, lights.

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(No we did not have them without bulbs in them. John had already started taking them down)

I hated them and one day I found a great deal at Costco and bought these new ones.

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Do you know what happens when you get new fancy LED lights in your bathroom? Your husband suddenly realizes that the counter tops on the vanities are pink.

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He can't handle them being pink.

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So you buy new vanities. Only, the vanities aren't the same size as the previous ones so you have to tear up some tile. It's ok, because the previous owners of the house left extra tile in the garage. Except, that's the tile for the kitchen. Not the bathroom. Oh, and they don't make that tile anymore. You know, why would this be an easy process right?

So then your husband tasks you with finding tile. Enter December. Yep. It's taken since June for you to decide on tile. See, everything is beige or dark stone and you want neither. Finally pressured by the fact that Christmas is about a week or so away and your entire family is coming over you finally get moving on the tile decision and pick a bluish, beigish, greyish looking tile.

Then you fall over at the prices quoted to install it so you and your husband decide to test your marriage, during the stress of the holidays, by installing tile in a 30 sq ft space.

Somehow you both survive and nearly 7 months into the project you finally have a completed bathroom.

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And all was good.

Except you still have to tile the master bathroom floor.

Maybe in June....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

rr10tuesday


1. Do you decorate for Valentine’s day?
Nope. Christmas is pretty much the only one I decorate for. Although this year I left my red Christmas wreath up by saying it's a Valentine's wreath.

2. Does your desktop have a picture or computer graphic? Is it organized?
Computer graphic. I used to have a wedding picture on there but when I got a new laptop I didn't update it. I'm lazy in that aspect, but I generally keep my desktop pretty neat and organized.

3. Do you use a paper planner, electric planner or no planner at all?
Electric - I sync with my outlook on my phone so I always have everything with me. I also keep a paper calendar in the office with dates John needs to know about. It also helped us keep track of our schedules when I was working two part-time jobs.

4. Do you change purses or bags often or stick with a good thing?
I used to change a lot more than I do now. I pretty much stick with one for a month or two and then switch.

5. What’s your favorite YouTube Video?
No idea.

6. Do you use Turbo Tax or a real person to pay your taxes?
I usually do a couple of online ones to see which will give me the highest refund/to make sure I entered everything right. Our taxes are pretty straight forward although this year I do have 4 W-2s.

7. How many states have you set foot (or tire) in? Which ones?
Oh...wow. A lot. I've lived in Texas, Nevada, California, & Indiana and have traveled to or through just about every other. I think it may be easier to name ones I haven't been in so I'll do that:
Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, Iowa, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island New Hampshire, Vermont & Maine. That makes 32 states I have been to.

8. How many countries have you been in? Which ones?
Let's see: Mexico, Jamaica, England, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg so 11. 12 if you count Vatican City.

9. How many pillows are in your house? (Sleeping or decorative)
I don't know. Maybe about 20?

10. How cold is too cold for flip flops?
Maybe 40s? Even then if I was just running a quick errand, it'd have to be colder. Or not wet outside.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies

I got this recipe from Cooking Light.

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You can tint the cheesecake batter with two or three drops of red food coloring to give it a pink tinge, if you like. When swirling the cheesecake and brownie batters in step 4, don't disturb the bottom brownie layer. Cool these bars completely before serving.


Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 bar)


Ingredients
Cheesecake batter:
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Brownie batter:
4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
Cooking spray
Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare cheesecake batter, place cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add granulated sugar and peppermint extract; beat well. Add 1 egg and 1 egg white; beat well. Add 1 tablespoon flour; beat mixture just until blended.

3. To prepare brownie batter, weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces (about 1 cup) flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 4.5 ounces flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, 2 egg whites, and 1 egg in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Add flour mixture to brown sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until blended.

4. Reserve 1/2 cup of brownie batter. Pour remaining batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Carefully pour cheesecake batter over top; spread evenly to edges. Dot cheesecake batter with reserved brownie batter. Swirl top two layers of batters together using the tip of a knife. Bake at 350° for 26 minutes or until top is set. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

These are soooooo good. I love the suggestion to use the pink food coloring. Perfect for Valentine's Day. The only thing I may change is to add a little more peppermint flavoring. These have a very mild peppermint taste so they're perfect if you just like a little hint of peppermint.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Going Under the Knife

Yep. The Old Man Toe is going to have some work done. He's going to have a little taken off the top and be slimmed down a bit on the side.

Basically I've got arthritis in my big toe. It's causing something called Hallux Rigidus. It's a fancy way of saying I've got a stiff big toe.

My Dr. is going to do something called a Cheilectomy. Because my foot bone and my toe bone are banging together they're forming bone spurs which limits the movement of my toe. So the Dr. goes in and shaves off the bone spurs (the slightly shaded in area in this picture) to increase the movement in my foot.



(I'm not making a ton of links in this post because most of what's out there is barely understandable medical speak or some pretty graphic surgical procedures. I hope you'll thank me by not boring you to death or totally grossing you out.)

Hopefully this will be the one and only surgery I'll need for it, but the problem is being caused by how my foot is built. What is good about this surgery is that it's very minor and leaves plenty of room for future treatments if needed. That's another good reason that I'm not one of those that lets something get REALLY bad before doing something about it. The other option is to actually fuse the bones together and sometimes even cut out portions of the foot bone. Ow.

My surgery is scheduled for February 1st. I'm supposed to be able to walk on my foot almost immediately and I'll be home the same day as my surgery. I'll be off the week of the surgery because I have to keep it elevated to keep the swelling down. I'll be back to work the week after sporting an awesome looking surgical shoe. I won't be on crutches and I can drive as long as it's not a long drive. I'm actually working a modified schedule so I can avoid traffic on my way to work. I should be able to be in tennis shoes a few weeks after surgery and probably will be in them for awhile.

My biggest "fear"? I have to have naked toes for my surgery! I can't remember the last time my toe nails went without polish. My Dr. looked at me like I'd grown a 2nd head when I complained about it. Usually I make him laugh with things like calling my arthritic big toe, The Old Man Toe, but I don't think he was prepared for naked toes. I seriously may get a pedicure before my surgery so my feet at least look pretty. It might help them to keep things nice and neat with a tiny scar if I go in showing off pretty feet right?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Weekend Recap

The other weekend John bought a Kinect for the Xbox. You seriously have to get one if you have an Xbox. No controllers, it recognizes your face to log you in and it gets all your movements - hands, feet, legs. It's awesome.

Friday night John had a late night hockey game. I didn't go because I was pretty tired. Well. I ended up playing Dance Central for about 2 hours straight. I'm not kidding. I worked up a sweat doing it too so that's a plus!

Saturday night I made a deal with John that if I went to the Rampage game with him he'd have to take me to dinner and a movie of my choice the following night. Deal.

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It was the weirdest hockey game ever.

During the first break for entertainment they had Belly Dancers.

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Then at the second break T-Bone, the Rampage mascot, came out dressed as a belly dancer and did a little dance just for fun.

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Otherwise there were no points scored and not fights until the end of the last period. There was one small fight towards the beginning.

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Then right towards the end there was a good fight (I only go to games for fights and to make fun of the guys when they fall. I'm supportive like that.)

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It went on for awhile and the Rampage player was actually ejected from the game. Good way to end the game even though we lost.

Sunday day I had to work. Then we had dinner at Trilogy. It's the only place that I can find somewhat similar to actual Chicago Deep Dish pizza. We also saw How Do You Know which kinda sucked big time. Poor John suffered through it and at the end I was kind of left with a, "Really? That's it? What the hell was the point of that whole movie?"

Monday I bought a ridiculous amount of yarn, as well as knitted a couple of random washcloths.

I also started my seeds on Monday.

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The bottom tray are the jalapenos and Roma tomatoes.

The top one are bell peppers. I knocked the tray off the table. Two of the pods I was able to tell top from bottom and two I couldn't. I'm keeping them on their side and hopefully they'll still sprout....

I haven't gotten my Park Seed order in just yet. I'm a little worried because my order confirmation and my shipment confirmation had different seed packets on them. I'm really hoping they haven't screwed up my order.

How was your three day weekend?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The First Step is Admitting There's a Problem...

I think I may have a yarn addiction...

I went out to buy 3 different yarns. One to finish a project I'm currently working on. One that is going to be a starter piece for a friend I'm teaching to knit. And one that was supposed to be one that I could work from as I teach her.

I came home with 14...

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They were all on sale though and I had a coupon.

I'm not even going to go into how many skeins are currently laying around the house. Or that I've got 3 unfinished projects and am already planning and buying yarn for other things. Oh wait. Just mentioned that last one...

Although I am going to be pretty much bedridden for a week after my foot surgery (more details tomorrow) so I'll at least have plenty to do!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Seed Starting

Meredith asked me about starting peppers from seed and when I will do my planting. I started to comment back but it got so long I decided to do a post. Let me know if you have any gardening questions and I'll try to answer them!

Last year was my first time starting peppers from seed. I just bought a Jiffy Seed Starter Kit and put a seed or two in each little disc of dirt. I did transfer them to little Solo type cups once they were about an inch or two tall and put them outdoors. Once they had their second set of leaves I put them in the bed. My plan is to start them inside earlier, maybe wait until they're a bit bigger to move to the first cup (unless they're falling over because they've grown leggy which also happened last year) and wait until the second set of leaves are bigger to put them in the ground. Mine took FOREVER to grow once they were in the garden. They stayed about 2 inches tall for over a month. I think peppers must need to stay a bit warmer and be allowed to grow in a big (for a seed) container than other seedlings. I'm kind of thinking of starting them in yogurt cups this year.

I'm starting my seeds this weekend and will put them in ground March 1st unless it gets warmer by then. March 1st is the last frost date for me. I'm starting seeds about 2 weeks earlier than last year because we have a short spring growing season before it gets too hot. I get nothing from mid June through mid September. My only goal is to keep it all alive because the second it cools off my garden has always gone insane. I found last year that my pepper and tomato seedlings were just too small come March 1st to grow and produce anything before the heat set in. By starting them earlier and putting them in larger containers (than a seed tray) I hope to have a bit more growth and production by June.

Of course this only applies to what I'm starting from seed early - just my tomatoes and peppers. Everything else I will do a direct sow because I can in my region. I am going to direct sow my more cold tolerant veggies earlier - radish, lettuces, spinach and carrots. Not only is it more cold tolerant than others, but because it can get hot here so fast you have to plant these early or they'll bolt. Check your state's extension office website for information. I'm able to get really specific information for my county on when to plant and what I can direct sow and when. I am able to have everything aside from peppers and tomatoes produce in the spring just fine. I plan on doing a second planting of almost everything but tomatoes and peppers in the fall when it cools off.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In the Mail

My Baker Creek order came in! Looks like I'll be starting seeds this weekend!

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They even threw in a free seed packet like they did last year. This time it was celery. Hmmm.....do I give it a try? I wonder if I can grow it in a container?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Yum

Meredith mentioned on Friday that she was going to make Leah's 3-2-1 Beef.

I don't know how I skimmed over this recipe and never made it. Especially since I love French Dip Subs and Pioneer Woman's Drip Beef sandwiches.

When I reread the recipe this weekend while I was lying in bed, still not feeling so hot, I thought the recipe sounded awesome. Leah had me at cole slaw. It immediately made me think of the awesome sandwich I had in New Orleans.

Plus the recipe was SO EASY. Unfortunately I seemed to be out of meat in my freezer so I had to drag myself to the store. I bought the bag of cole slaw where you just mix the dressing with all the cabbage. I may try my own version next time since it wasn't vinegary enough for me. I halved the recipe since I was making it for just me and John (plus it's really easy to do). I also bought a single beer of Young's Double Chocolate Stout.

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I toasted the roll and poured some of the juices on it before adding the beef and slaw. John added swiss cheese to one of the two he ate. They were THAT good.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 Garden

Plans are underway for the garden. I've decided on my veggies and have ordered seeds. I have a 4x8 foot garden and have the planned out my planting schedule and location for all the plants.

2011 Garden

The blue squares will be planted in mid February. The goal is that when these are done the squash and zucchini will be at their taking over point and there will be plenty of room for them to grow.

The nasturtium will also go in the same square as the squash plants to hopefully ward off vine borers.

I consulted the Aggie Extension Office again this year to pick varieties that will work with the area I'm in.

Here's what I'll be planting this year:

Early Prolific Straight Neck Squash

Costata Romanesco (Zucchini)

Early Scarlet Globe Radish

Alaska Mix Nasturtium

Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach

Straight Eight Cucumbers that I plan on trellising.

Little Finger Carrot

Mignonette Bronze Lettuce (Butterhead Lettuce)

Parris Island Cos Lettuce (Romaine)

Salad Bowl (Leaf Lettuce)

Blue Lake Bush Bean

Jalapeno

Jupiter (Bell Pepper)

Better Boy (Slicing Tomato)

Amish Paste

Juliet (Cherry Tomato)

I ordered the majority of my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. You really just can't beat their prices/seed quantity, the selection is great and they offer a lot of organic and heirloom seed options.

I also ordered a few from Park Seed Company for the first time. Again, their price was great.

I'm getting the cucumber, jalapeno and Salad Bowl lettuce from Burpee. I was actually able to find almost all my seed choices from Burpee, but they're really expensive (about a $40 difference between them and Baker Creek). The cucumbers I could have gotten from Park Seed, but they would have pushed my order back too late and I'd like to get the tomatoes I'm ordering from them started sooner rather than later. I will actually buy the Burpee seeds in store because their shipping is also high. I'm going to get my seed starting kits in store anyways so it's no big deal.

So what are your garden plans?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Lessons Learned from my 2010 Garden

I actually still have some romaine lettuce and carrots growing out in the garden. I haven't done anything to them. We've had a few slight freezes since I planted them and they're still going. We're supposed to have a harder freeze coming up in the next few days so we'll see how they do. They're not big enough to pick and I plan on starting the new garden in a month so I'm not planning on working to keep them going.

So what did I learn from my 2010 and very first attempt at square foot gardening?

June bugs suck. I just read an old post where I found close to 40 grubs in the garden. Eww. I had blocked that from my memory. I'll have to find a way to deal with them this year.

My squash and zucchini got huge. I hadn't really planned for that, but luckily enough had a few plants that finished before they grew too big. This year I'll plan for early plants around the squash and zucchini and will give them an extra row to grow in.

The nasturtium I think worked with the squash plants. The plant that was surrounded by it didn't get attacked by vine borers. I gave each flower its own square, but they never really got very big. I plan on putting one flower in the square with each squash and zucchini. Hopefully this will work. If it does I'll probably go down to one of each plant to give them some more room.

I didn't grow enough green beans. I started with just 2 squares and did a 3rd after some of the lettuce didn't grow. They also got attacked by grubs and by pill bugs. I'm hoping that the pill bugs won't be as big of a problem this year since the manure won't be as "fresh." I'll plan on 4 squares this year.

My tomato plants also got huge. I'm going to abandon cages completely this year. I'm thinking of these towers or I may also try these spirals. I like that the spirals go up to 7ft. I think my tomatoes grew about that high, but I'm also not growing the same varieties this year. I may do both and use some on the cucumbers.

I'll also grow an extra square of spinach this year. It got attacked by just about everything so the third square is essential if I actually want to eat any of it this year.

I'm not going to bother with onions this year. They didn't ever grow and I really don't use green onions much in cooking.

I'll also plan on starting my fall garden a bit earlier than I did. It did well for the short time that it had and would do even better with some extra time.

I'm also adding carrots to the spring planting and cherry tomatoes. Since I'm not doing onions or marigolds it will free up some extra space for new plants and additional plantings.

I'll do another post soon with the layout of the new garden and all seeds that I've ordered. Can't wait to get things started!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Finished Project

This is 1 of 4 different projects I finished over the holidays and the only one that I got a picture of.

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I used Loops and Threads Charisma yarn in Chocolate Cupcake. The yarn just came out in the stripe pattern so it made it look like it was a lot more work than it really was.

I love this pattern because it creates two different sides that you can wear either way.

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Here's the pattern:

Cast-on 19 stitches

Knit 3 rows

Row 1: K2, *P1, K1. Repeat from * to last 2 sts, K2

Row 2: Knit

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until scarf is as long as you like. (I usually make scarves to hit my shoulder, about 5 feet long) Knit 3 rows and bind off.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Celebratin' the New Year

My goal on the 31st was to sleep until noon. I was EXHAUSTED all week so I thought it was a pretty good goal. I ended up getting up around 11, which is pretty amazing, and was greeted by breakfast in bed from John. Yum.

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John bought a Rampage (hockey) ticket package and got free passes to Six Flags that had to be used for the 2nd. We headed to Six Flags, which is actually pretty lame in the winter. The majority of the rides are closed. I think we spent about 2 hours there and rode every ride. Glad the tickets were free at least!

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We came home and relaxed for a bit before heading to Kandis and Greg's house for the party. I agreed to come as long as I could wear my PJs and John and Kandis also went along.

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We did have some of the usual shenanigans

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but mainly played Scattergories, sang Glee Karaoke



and played a dance game on the Wii



(I think Angela's laugh is almost a funny as the dancing)





before we finally rang in the New Year!

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

What Would You Do

Today I was at the grocery store and came down an aisle to find an employee getting chewed out by a customer. I came in at the very end so I'm not sure what the situation was. It did seem like the employee was trying to fix whatever the situation was and he remained calm and composed. The man seemed completely unreasonable and was swearing at the employee and calling him obscene and racists names. I couldn't believe it was happening.

What was surprising to me was the amount of people just standing around watching. One guy at my end of the aisle was actually just laughing at what was going on. There was also a couple standing right next to the customer and the employee and didn't say anything. There were also people standing nearby just watching it all play out. By the time I got to the end of the aisle the man was starting to storm off. Had the man not been a foot taller and over a 100 pounds more than me I would have said something. He was quite intimidating.

I did find a manager and told her what I saw. It was mainly to give kudos to the employee for remaining so calm, I'm not sure what I would have done in that situation. I didn't see the man again, so I'm not sure what happened to him. I really hope a manager talked to him or there was some consequence. I don't care what the situation was about, no one deserves to be treated like that man treated that employee. Especially with the racists comments. It was unbelievable.

What would you have done in that situation? I would like to think that had I come onto it sooner and before it escalated to the point that it did I would have said something to the man.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

2010 in Review

We rang in the 2010 New Year with great friends while doing a bar hopping bus tour.

January is also when my Old Man Toe problems started.

I also did a ton of cooking that month so be sure to check out my recipes tab.

In February I started my knitting classes. I would have given up after the first class had John not learned to cast on for me. I also finished my first knitting project towards the end of the month.

I also made plans for the garden.

The biggest thing in February, I quit my job.

In March I started 12 Weeks to Better Photography and learned a lot. Check out the tab on the sidebar to see my progress.

I was still having problems with my toe, but it was on the way to getting better.

I got to celebrate my nephew's 3rd birthday, go to Dallas and celebrate Virginia's 30th birthday.

I started my two part-time jobs that I would work until I found a full-time one.

I celebrated my 28th birthday.

In April the garden was really taking off.

I also got to spend time with my Aunt and Grandma that were visiting from Indiana.

During May I picked an obscene amount of strawberries.

I also battled mushrooms, grubs and the squash takeover in the garden.

In June my job situation stressed me out some, but I also found out I had a lot of friends in real life and virtual that supported me and my decision.

We held the 3rd Annual Hinchman Olympics in July.

John's hockey obsession started and I went to my 10 Year High School Reunion.

The biggest news in July? I got a job offer with a great company and for a position that I'm really enjoying.

In August I started my new job

I also dealt with two different pear thiefs. The first was an animal and then some jerkface stole all my pears.

In September we went to my family reunion and also celebrated our 3rd anniversary.

I ended the month catching a snake on my boob tape.

In October we celebrated John's 31st birthday by seeing Daniel Tosh (and Shakira).

In November we went to Wurstfest and an Air Show. I ended the month with the Thanksgiving Turkey Debate.

December started with a trip to Houston, time with family, friends, and then Christmas celebrations.

Happy New Year to you all!
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