Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter Hot Tubbing, or, A Towel Confession

I know I've said it before, but I can't say it enough. I love that Colorado apartment complexes (or at least ours) have the good sense to leave their hot tubs on during the winter, precisely when you most want to use them. We've been taking advantage of ours a lot the last few weeks, especially at night.
I start off with a beanie, but it's gone within about 2 minutes. Still, it's nice for the walk down in the cold.
It's also good to take your biggest, fuzziest towels. Most of our towels are 30 years old* (seriously, that isn't a joke, when Bobby left his house he just took the old towels he grew up with and has had them ever since) but two of our towels are only 8 years old and they are considerably larger and thicker (there were a lot of advances in the scientific field of bathroom fabrics in that 22 year gap I guess), so those are the hot tub towels. Bobby's modeling one of them here. I'm kind of offended at the way he's implying he's naked behind it. I hope you all aren't scandalized.

*One year younger than Bobby. He did concede that it is possible the towels are "only" 28 years old.

A Decision

National Geographic contacted Bobby's mother yesterday morning, confirming what we already suspected- the trip to Egypt/Jordan is canceled. They are now working to find a replacement trip during the same timeline. Bobby and I had just assumed we would wait until they resumed the Egypt/Jordan expedition, but a lot of factors make it more sensible to still go during the same timeline. Most importantly, his sister and brother-in-law have 3 young children, and they had already taken off of work and found someone to care for their kids. Plus we had all been planning on seeing one another now, and we were all looking forward to getting together. A tentative replacement is another National Geographic tour to Peru and the Galapagos islands, but there are a few kinks to work out and we're not sure if we can join that expedition.

Right now Bobby and I are just waiting to hear where we're going and when we're leaving, and then we'll be headed off to meet up with his family somewhere in the world :) I can't wait to see them and it's kind of fun that we might not know where we're going until a day or two before. As long as we're all together it will be a good time, wherever we may end up!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Do You Have a Light?

Even though we're almost certainly not leaving for Jordan and Egypt on February 1st as planned, we know that if the trip is canceled it will be rescheduled and we still have some things on our "to get for the trip" list. So we decided to go ahead and visit REI- our favorite store- to get the flashlights we will (eventually) need to see in the tombs in Egypt. After dithering back and forth for a bit we decided to go ultra geeky so that we could get a multi-purpose light. So, instead of flashlights, we left REI with headlamps my friends- 60 lumens, with a rechargeable battery or the option of running off of normal batteries. We figured this would keep our hands free for walking in dark, cramped tombs, plus we both needed headlamps anyway for riding our bikes at night, and they'll be useful for hiking and camping. Naturally we tried them out as soon as we got home.
Bobby is *super* excited about wearing a flashlight on a strap around his head, you would be able to tell if you could see his face...
I'm impressed, which you'd be able to tell if you could see *my* face. That ghostly red light behind me is the only light on in the whole house- the warm glow from Bobby's computer.

Now that we have headlamps I think it's time to start planning out a long distance biking/camping trip. Maybe that will tide us over until we are cleared to go on our original trip?

Friday, January 28, 2011

An Update...

First, I'm just going to make this confession straight outta the gate- it is 3:25. I had breakfast at around 8:30 a.m., and lunch around noon. But other than that, all I have done all day today is read the news, talk to my concerned friends/family on the phone, and then read more news. I have not, at this point in time, done ANY of the following:

1) Brushed my teeth
2) Taken a (much needed) shower
3) Gotten dressed
4) Made my bed
5) Housework or errands
6) Exercised

I just can't tear myself away from reading the news and the updates on Egypt. The latest is that Delta Airlines is suspending all flights into Cairo after Saturday. We are not flying Delta, but I'm thinking other airlines might follow suit. National Geographic called Bobby's parents and told them that we would be advised on Monday if the trip will be canceled or proceed as scheduled. If it's canceled they will re-schedule us for a later date. This entire time, since the unrest started a few days ago, I've been telling myself it was all good, that Nat Geo would keep us safe if only to protect its brand, etc. I had a talk with my Dad about 3 days ago and he told me not to worry, I'd be fine. But then today I had *another* talk with my Dad and he was all "Cortney, I'm NOT Liam Neeson. I don't know that I'd know how to/have the resources to come rescue you in Egypt". I've never seen the movie he's referencing, but I've seen the trailer and I got the joke and it a) was funny and b) made me nervous. My dad is not a worrier, not at all. He is logical and reasonable and doesn't let fears guide him. So hearing that he was nervous made *me* nervous...

Since we don't know what will happen Bobby and I plan to finish our Egypt DVD series, pack, and buy Dramamine for the flight(s) and flashlights for the tombs, just in case. Bobby said he's 90% certain that the trip will be canceled, but if it's not canceled, and Nat Geo gives us the go ahead, we're still going. Here's to final decisions on Monday!

And, ok, here's to me finally taking a shower and getting dressed. I'm going to vow, to the internet, that I will do that as soon as I hit "Publish Post". I've talked to everyone I need to talk to, I got the skinny on the communications from Nat Geo, read news for approximately 569 hours, and I've already g-mail chatted my anxieties to Bobby and updated all my far flung friends and family on FB(whoa, alliteration). My lap top feels like it might be about to burst into flames and my eyes are begging me to stop reading online news because they are getting all fuzzy...

Post-edit: Ok, I'm dressed, showered, my bed is made, dishes are done, and a load of laundry is going, so I checked my FB messages and a dear family friend gave me this great link on Mother Jones with live updates if you want to follow what's going on.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Muppet Tentacle Scarf

I'm loving these Egypt DVD's because they let me get so much done with crafting while still being able to absorb all the info. This is yet another project that I started and abandoned, which is now finally finished. I posted pics on FB and one of my friends said the fringe looked like tentacles. Combined with the crazy colors now I think of it as my Muppet tentacle scarf.
Alternatively, I think it looks like lots of yummy flavors of sherbet.
Aforementioned tentacles.
This picture gives a better idea of the true color of the contrasting yarn- it's a beautiful plummy purple that I adore with the softer palette of the main yarn colors because it picks up the subtle darker flecks in them.
Here's a picture showing the length- this wrapped twice around my neck (I like really long scarves). The sherbet/Muppet colored yarn is my favorite- Lion Brand- and the contrasting plummy purple is some random yarn I bought years and years ago. I need to do a post soon about how organizing my crafting supplies in a more open and accessible manner is 75% of the reason why I am crafting like this again. Of course organizing it like that in the first place was motivated by the addition of crafting to my 2011 goals list. For the last few years I've made scarves for at least one person for Christmas, and I think that will be my gift this year to the people who have not yet received one. Underlying all of this crocheting and quilting and crafting (oh my!) is a desire to work through my piles of yarn and material over the next year and a half so that it will all be used up by the time we leave Colorado. I already have a few ideas for quilts and aprons in the works that I'm excited to try out. I made up my own pattern for this scarf and the blue blanket I made, but if you want a great online source for free crocheting/knitting patters you should definitely check out Ravelry's website.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Testing my Theme...

The last week, as Tunisia has overthrown its government, Bobby and I have been joking about how Egypt will probably start a revolution when we get there. In the last few days, NPR and BBC have been reporting on how interviews with Egyptians have revealed support for Tunisia's revolution. Quotes have been made along the lines of "it needs to happen here in Egypt next".



Some of you following international news may already know where this is going....

Protesters in Cairo on Jan 25th source

Today was an official "Day of Revolt"in Egypt. Cairo, to be specific. Protests all day long and into the night, chanting, marching, demanding term limits, fair minimum wage, freedom of speech, etc. From the police, an unusual amount of respect has been given to the protesters, although there has been tear gas. Water cannons have been used. There have been some clashes. But for the most part, the protesters have been peaceful. While 3 people- one police officer and two protesters- have sadly died (with no additional details other than the number at this time) that is, quite frankly remarkable considering that TENS OF THOUSANDS of Egyptians are marching in the streets.

I find it... well, a bit scary, seeing as how we're going to be landing in Cairo, Egypt, the epicenter of the protests, on February 6th. I know that's almost two weeks away, but the protesters have pledged that this is "just the beginning". At this time, I don't see this fading quietly away anytime soon. I'm working on "mastering my fear", but between my terror of plane crashes and the country in the middle of what might be a revolution, I'm a bit antsy about this upcoming trip. I'm sure that National Geographic cares enough about its brand, if not my life, to cancel our trip if it was dangerous. But I really hope it doesn't get canceled, and a part of me- the one that has misplaced and irrational fears- is still more scared of a plane crash than I am of being in a country in the middle of trying to overthrow its government. It's how I roll. But I definitely find it ironic that my theme of 2011 is "Mastering my Fear", and I'm about to take lots of flights (scary) to get to a country in political turmoil whose people are revolting against the government (also kind of scary). I called my mom, and she said "oh, you need to worry more about all those tour buses's been all over the news how Egyptian tour buses crash all.the.time. and kill people". Thanks, Mom. That's a third thing to be afraid of! :)

If you want to keep up with what's going on via live updates, you can check this link. BBC, NPR, and CNN are all following the story as well. I would be following this story even if I wasn't set to be in Egypt very soon, but I have to admit it does make the story more compelling to me and I will be keeping up with interest to see where this leads.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Bobby and I will be on a plane- ok, actually, several planes- in a hair over a week from now, heading to Jordan for this trip and then to Egypt for this trip. We'll be in Jordan February 2nd-7th, and then *another* plane will take us to Cairo on the 7th, where we will stay until we get on *another* plane to come home the morning of the 16th. I know all the blogging "rules" about not letting people know when you'll be out of town. But we are taking both of our cameras and our laptops with us, as well as pertinent I.D.'s like passports and driver's licenses, so literally that leaves an apartment filled with possessions purchased second hand from thrift stores that total, not kidding at all here, less than $200. So, if anyone out there in the world wants to come steal our 1950's orange flower loveseats that we bought for $5 a pop, have at it.

Bobby and I took care of the most pertinent preparations back in December when we ordered our visas. But we have been doing other things to prepare. First and foremost, I've been working on my fear of flying. I'm working on this in three ways. One, I'm reading "The Culture of Fear", an excellent book that conveniently is on Jenna's book club this month. I've owned the book for about a year now, and I've skimmed it, reading certain chapters, but I never read it cover to cover. I started with the fear of flying chapter, then started at the beginning and will read all the way through, re-reading the fear of flying chapter again. Another step I am taking is going through this free online course. I started it at the beginning of the week, and I hope to get through it three total times before we leave. I would highly suggest it if you have a fear of flying, or if you are a nervous flyer. And "enrolling" is literally just clicking on what you fear and then beginning. You don't have to give them any info, not even an e-mail address. I'm really enjoying it so far. The third and final way I'm dealing with my fear is by writing about it here, and being honest about it, even if it kind of embarrasses me and makes me feel ignorant and ridiculous. I'm also writing about it in a personal journal.

The second big preparation underway before we leave is educating ourselves on the countries we will be visiting. Bobby's parents sent us a lecture series on Egypt that is 48 lectures long, at 30 minutes a piece. It is just a professor standing at a lectern talking about Egypt, but it is riveting. I am learning so much about Egypt and its history that is blowing my mind. I wish we had something similar for Jordan, but since we don't I've been researching for good videos and websites of information. I'm also reading National Geographic's Egypt book for travelers. It covers some history, which reinforces the lectures, but in addition it is giving me a detailed understanding of the geography and the specific cities in Egypt. Speaking of National Geographic, we received our itinerary at the end of last week, along with baggage tags, name tags, and some rather dorky hats that I made Bobby promise not to wear...

This weekend and next week will be filled with finishing up the lecture series and my fear of flying course, as well as packing. I've never gone anywhere on vacation for as long as two weeks, and I hope to pack outfits for a week- that can be mixed and matched- and then just wash them somewhere halfway through the trip. I love to travel light so this is by no means a sacrifice, I prefer it. If anyone out there wants to send me some good thoughts for anxiety free flights they will be enthusiastically and gratefully received!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kate's Birthday Quilt

Kate and I in 2004

Kate is another very close friend of mine I've known since college. I met her my sophomore year (2002-03) and she was a freshman in college the next year while I was a junior. Her real name is Katie, but I've always called her Kate, or, more frequently, we both call each other bunny- yet another nickname/term of endearment to add to the never ending list our group employs. She works at a nursery and is master certified in horticulture, putting in sometimes 80 hour weeks doing back breaking work. She has a thick Texas accent, and she drinks her coffee out of a Mason jar, ya'll. She is most frequently found in plaid, and in fact, last year for her birthday her party was themed "Dress Like Kate", and we filled a house with tens of friends wearing plaid and sporting old cowboy hats, decked out in accessories like rainbow suspenders and boots. Katie also has a deep and abiding love for her native state. Please see this picture for evidence:
That's right, when she came to visit me, we went camping and she actually had a Texas doormat on hand. Just, you know, hanging out in her truck (which also happens to have a bumper sticker that says "Don't Mess with Texas...Women" on it) in case she happened to need it.

Katie and I briefly dated a million years ago, aka 2004 (which seriously feels like it was a million years ago) but most of us in the group have dated one another at one time or another, and like everyone else we remained good friends after and she is still, to this day, one of my best friends in this world. She is loyal and protective and absolutely hilarious. There are running jokes about how terrible she is at telling stories, but she is also a fabulous dancer and we are often found improving some kind of partner dance to a variety of Michael Jackson songs at get togethers. Or, if we're at a bar, we will inevitably two-step- she leads, naturally. Katie shares my affinity for simple and frugal living, and we both have a deep and abiding love for to do lists. Regarding to-do lists, Katie introduced me to the term rat killin' as a euphemism for running errands. This is one of many reasons I think she's adorable.
Kate and I at my going away to Colorado party

This last Sunday was her 25th birthday, and I made her a quilt- all hand stitched!- that I designed. It is meant to be a bit folksy, but if you knew Kate you would say to yourself "that is Kate in quilt form". Here are some pictures of the project, which also happens to be another goal on my 2011 goals list. Shamefully, I purchased these materials to make this quilt for Katie's 24th birthday, but never got around to it between wrapping up grad school and starting my new job. But now it's done, and there is photographic proof.
I found bandannas in Kate's signature colors/style to use for the quilt top. The design was pretty simple, but I'm still pretty proud of it because while I have quilted before, I have never made a quilt- other quilted pieces became pillows. This is the quilt top in its first step.
I started kind of making up the design as I went, and decided there had to be a Texas in there somewhere. Bobby donated some old work pants to the cause, and I knew Kate would love that detail. Bobby found a template online for me that was the perfect size. Here it is, waiting to be embroidered onto the quilt.
As I had never made a quilt I decided to go the easy way and tie it. But I wanted it to be cute, so I got beige and orange buttons to decorate where I tied it together.
More button detailing...
Close up of the center...
Size comparison (before ironing, don't judge me too harshly!)

And the back, also before ironing. I totally took the lazy way out and purchased a fleece blanket for the back piece. But, while it was lazy, it was smart in two ways. One, I didn't have to piece together two lengths and then sew it to the top- and saving sewing is always good when you're doing it by hand! And two, this fleece blanket was about half the price of buying fleece by the yard. Frugality for the win.

The most important thing is that Kate *loved* it. And I'm so glad she did!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dr. King

I hope you're all enjoying today. It's one of my favorite holidays. This song never, ever ceases to bring tears to my eyes. Especially the line "sometimes I lay down, no more can I do/then I go on again, because you asked me to". It's important to remember that what was asked of him- his very life- is a sacrifice that many others made with him as well. I can't imagine the courage of that conviction, I don't know if I myself have it in me, but I am in awe of it. Many people have read or heard his "I Have a Dream" speech, but equally moving to me is his letter from Birmingham jail. If you haven't read it, you can read it here.
Align Center

"...And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people we will get to the promised land. So I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man." Martin Luther King Jr speech in Memphis, April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated

A Blue Weekend

This weekend was one of those weekends where I simultaneously got a ton of things done but also had a lot of downtime to just curl up with a book next to Bobby on a lazy Sunday afternoon. We didn't do anything out of the ordinary- in fact, we skipped our planned West Coast Swing dance lessons in favor of staying in on Friday and Saturday night. A few things that stood out on the good weekend list:
I made a hodge podge breakfast smoothie on Saturday morning out of random things in the fridge that needed to be used up- 1/4 a cup of pureed pumpkin, about the same amount of blueberries- plus an overripe banana, a tbsp each of ground flax seeds and chia seeds, a splash of almond milk, and what I *thought* were frozen peaches from our CSA...
See the little orange guys hanging out at the bottom? I just found out (as I was typing this) that they were not, in fact, peaches. They were little chunks of butternut squash. I found this out when Bobby (who is, as I type, making a peach/strawberry/rhubarb crumble) asked "is this...cantaloupe? what is this?" and I told him they were peaches. Then he says "no, THESE are peaches" holding up another container. Moral of the story? Chunks of frozen butternut squash taste damned good in a smoothie with unlikely counterparts such as pumpkin and blueberries. Lesson learned!
So, this is a bittersweet moment from the weekend. My beloved green, eco-friendly, all natural rubber yoga mat bit the dust after a little over two years of use (I'd say about 3 times a week for an hour of power/vinyasa flow, so it did admirably). I wanted to replace it with the exact same brand and type, and this was the only mat we could find in town that met the requirements.
Why, hello there.
It's been unfurled in the study room for over a day now, because as you can imagine it smells strongly of what it's made out of- pure rubber. I can't wait to use it tomorrow morning.
And last but not least, I finished a project on my 2011 Goals List. This is the blue baby blanket that I started... wait for it...THREE YEARS AGO. I know, it's awful! But look, just by putting it on a goals list, it's magically done a mere two weeks later. Originally a few people around me were pregnant and its home was kind of up in the air, and now I need to find a place to send it to.
This is triple stitch crocheting, for those of you out there who are familiar with such terms. I finished the last 5 rows- including cutting every.single.piece.of.yarn. for tassle- and the tassle on both ends in about 3 hours while Bobby and I watched another DVD of Egypt lectures (his parents sent us 7 DVD's of a professor lecturing on Egypt in preparation for our trip and they are fascinating). It was nice to kill two birds with one stone, and since it's literally just a lecture on DVD I didn't miss out on anything by having to glance down at my hands periodically.
I learned to crochet when I was 5 or 6, and a part of me is still in awe that by twisting yarn in a certain way around a little metal hook this is what's created.
Of course, as I realized here, it's just as nice for an adult to curl up in as well. So I suppose that broadens the field of who might be receiving this little guy. I'm just glad I finally finished it! I also finished Kate's birthday quilt (also on the goals list), so I'll post those pictures later. In other good news not proven by photographic evidence- I met my Spanish study goals for the week. I sat down at the kitchen table and studied for two and a half hours this weekend, which not only got me off to a good start but helped me flesh out a study schedule that I think will be effective. I'll go into more detail on the goals progress in monthly reviews though, so for now I think I'm going to get ready for bed so I can curl up with a book and some of that peach/strawberry/rhubarb crumble that I'm starting to smell from the kitchen :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

23 and Me

I mentioned in my Christmas post that Bobby gave me a complete DNA mapping from the company 23 and Me- you can check out their website here. The complete package covers both ancestry and health, so I'll know way more than I ever thought I would about my genes and my body. I'm a science nerd on the side, so I find this incredibly fascinating. I sent off my info about a week ago, and the process was pretty simple on my end.
Everything I needed came in this little box.
I had to wait 30 minutes after eating, drinking, or brushing my teeth before spitting in this tube.
Instructions on how to seal off the tube and how to correctly collect the sample.
When you're done spitting...and spitting...and spitting some more, you pop the tube in this specimen bag (I took these pics of the process before actually spitting in the tube, I didn't think you all really needed to be treated to the sight of a tube filled with my frothy spit...I could be wrong though. Better safe than sorry.)
And then the specimen bag goes in this postage paid bubble wrap envelope. It's all so...small, neat, and simple. Then you head on over to their website and create a profile and register your kit with your name and the barcode that was printed on the tube. And that's it! You just sit back and wait while people in a lab far away figure out the deepest secrets of your genetics.

It's hard to believe that a mere decade or so after the initial draft of the human genome was published, and about 8 years after the project was complete, I can, as a random consumer, send off some spit in a tube and in 6-8 weeks at max receive such detailed scientific information. What's also cool is that they compile the information (anonymously, of course) so that they can do research on disease- what causes it, how to prevent it, what demographics of people are more susceptible to certain illnesses, etc. So, on top of it being a fun personal thing for me to do, it's helping aid scientific research. Plus, I can't emphasize how excited I am about he ancestry portion of it. I know my ancestry definitively going back to my Great Granny's grandmother, but after that things get fuzzy. One of my future projects is to do some genealogical work, and I think the ancestry component of the DNA mapping will give me some interesting insight on that.

One last thing though. I do plan on doing a follow up post when I get my results, but some of it may need to be a bit vague. This is for both personal privacy and practical reasons. They do advise you not to share, publicly, any risk factors for disease that you are made aware of. This is because they don't want anyone unfairly discriminated against by health insurance companies. Because a risk factor is just that- you have a risk for a certain disease. It's not a diagnosis, and you may never ever get that certain disease. But, if you trumpet all over the world "whoa, I totally have the gene for breast cancer, scary!", then you may be excluded from getting health insurance on those bounds. Which is weird, because that's basically a "hypothetical pre-pre-existing condition...maybe...someday...or...maybe never at all". Interestingly enough, I discovered that the U.S. passed a law in 2008 called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA for short, to specifically protect people from being discriminated against for genetic markers for disease. You are, in theory, protected from being discriminated against when it comes to plain Jane health insurance (although many women who tested positive for the BRCA gene, indicating a higher than normal breast cancer risk, have reported being denied health insurance). Unfortunately, the law does not cover life/disability/or long term care insurance. I find it a bit strange that they would specifically pass a law to protect people, but only protect them (kinda sorta) in the area of health insurance.

At any rate, I'm excited to get my results and share the experience I had with the company! I'm still in awe of the huge advances in science that have been made in my lifetime and I think it's rad that I can take part in it like this.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011 Goals, or, This Post May Come Back to Shame Me in 2012

postcard I purchased in the subway my first week in Japan

I know most people did this post around January 3rd, but the first week of January I was busy enjoying J-Ben and P!'s visit, and then recapping it. So, let's just forgive my tardiness and get on with it :)

I am not a fan of New Year's Resolutions, for a few reasons I'll speak to in generalities. For one, I'm a goal setting, list making, project tackling kind of person. I tend to make frequent goals- on the order of monthly, or weekly, or, when I was in school, semester-ly (that's a word, right?). Plus, New Year's Resolutions seem to often be the only goal setting some people make, ever. As a result, they usually make ambiguous, fuzzy around the edges goals that are hard to quantify and make it nigh unto impossible to assess progress. Or, they make grand sweeping goals that are kind of impossible to achieve. Also, because this is the only time of the year that they might make goals, they are not used to working towards them and making a plan to achieve them. Because of these two problems, New Year's Resolutions have (rightly so) acquired the stereotype of being unachievable, hazy feel good-y type wishes that are uttered into the drunken atmosphere of a New Year's party at 2 a.m., or written haphazardly on a scrap of napkin at a diner where one is eating off the New Year's hangover. Ok, that's a little much, but I got carried away with the point is, I think New Year's Resolutions are the surest way to jinx oneself into not accomplishing said resolutions, simply by cursing them with the name "resolutions". So, my two step solution (I'm no expert, just a girl with a free blogger account) is to a) make goals consistently throughout the year and b) make yearly goals that are quantifiable and measurable. For example, one of my 2011 goals is to read 52 books. That can work out to 1 book a week, or it can work out to book heavy months and book lean months. As long as I have 52 titles by the end of the year, I'm golden. Although, I honestly hope I'm not reading the final 38 books between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here are my 2011 goals, categorized in ways that made sense to me. I've left out some of the specifics of implementation so that this already rambly and navel gazing post doesn't become 1,435 pages long, but you'll get the general idea.

Food and Fitness

Do at least two cardio workouts a week + three additional workouts (any type including yoga)

Get down to one soda and one coffee per week or less

Give C25K another try (applies to cardio workout goal above)

Misc Goals and Projects

West Coast Swing lessons- aim for once a week, go at least twice a month; belly dancing lessons on Sundays

Finish rainbow quilt, blue crocheted baby blanket, and Kate’s quilt- work on similar projects at least twice a month

Scan in journals/letters/cards; finish editing pictures & deleting unwanted pics; organizing files

Update blog at least twice a week/creative writing once a week

Career and Finances

Continue to volunteer with SSI and VE & complete Community Based Development Certificate

Begin Teacher Certification program and internship in August

Try to find a part time job that works around current internships

Personal Improvement

Read one book a week/52 books in a year

Regular Spanish study- Rosetta Stone, books, Spanish Word of the Day- at least 3 times a week

No more than one hour of internet during weekdays

Travel To-Do

Montana and Yellowstone Nat’l Park


Go to at least one hot springs location

Travel to Denver and Boulder at least twice each for events or day trips

See a concert at Red Rocks

Travel to Texas at end of HP contract for an extended amount of time


Call all grandparents and parents at least once a month/ Send more mail (specifically to Great Granny monthly)


A few notes: The one hour of internet daily ties into the read more books thing. I found that I have become a newshound. I can easily spend two hours a day reading BBC and NPR. While I don't want to be any less informed, I don't appreciate that way that my reading of books has been edged out a bit by my reading of news. The West Coast Swing lessons are something Bobby and I started back in Dallas- he invited to them for one of our first dates- and we both love them. Since we kind of need each other to accomplish that goal, it's on both of our lists. Speaking of Bobby, we actually sat down together and I typed up both of our lists, since a few things depended on one another- especially our travel goals. We want to make sure we fully explore this part of the world while we're living here, hence the travel to-do list. We also served as good sounding boards for one another, asking probing questions about goal ideas, getting honest feedback about realistic expectations, etc. Lastly, in regards to the food and fitness area. I am a fit person, but my cardio health is sorely lacking and as a former long distance runner this is annoying to me and I want to fix it. I tried to start C25K back in
September, but then I jinxed my hip. So here's hoping I'll be able to actually do it this time. If not, I'm giving myself a guilt free pass if I don't accomplish that goal. Biology and bones are tricky things to persuade, regardless of how much one might want to.

In addition to my goal list, I have one more thing. A theme for 2011, if you will. An overarching philosophy that I will seek to apply to my daily doings. It is two part and they go hand in hand:
1) Master my fear, or at least not let it control me (please see my
fear of flying and my fear of being eaten by bears)

2) Make decisions with confidence (please see my trepidation and back pedaling when it comes to making decisions here).

The second is born of the problem of the first. I'm afraid of making the wrong decision, so then I don't make any decision, and then I'm frustrated for not making a decision, and all that comes from my fear. This is cheesy, but yes, "master my fear" is totally a quote stolen from "The Golden Compass". And, while we're at it, here's a good quote about making decisions:

"Will considered what to do. When you choose one way out of many, all the ways you don't take are snuffed out like candles, as if they'd never existed. At the moment all Will's choices existed at once. But to keep them all in existence meant doing nothing. He had to choose, after all". - The Amber Spyglass

Too often, I operate under the false assumption that by putting off decisions I am somehow gaining by not making a wrong decision. I mean, I have so many options, but once I choose, I only have the option I chose. But, um, that's kind of the point. I'm not gaining anything by not choosing, because I'm not doing anything.

So, there you have it. I think I'll be writing a monthly post checking in with my 2011 goals, just to see how I'm doing and to be accountable.

Here's to 2011 my friends. It will be as good as we choose to make it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Horse is a Horse, of Course

We woke up Friday morning determined to make J-Ben and P!'s last day in town laid back and relaxing, since Saturday held a 15+ hour drive back to Texas. I took them to the best breakfast place in town, Snooze, which I have rhapsodized about before. They fell hard for it, just like I did. I never knew a breakfast diner could have so many beguiling ways.
Speaking of beguiling, look at how sweet they are. Awww.
I'm wishing Bobby was here to sit with me. Le sigh.

After breakfast we hit up Wild Boar, a local coffee shop in an old house, and then we dropped off P! at the apartment. He rarely drinks and the previous day's brewery tour plus night out had done him in a bit. A nap was in order. J-Ben had wanted to check out the Clydesdales at the Budweiser brewery, and since it was only about 20 minutes away we decided to head out and leave P! to nap in peace. We had no interest in a brewery tour, so we just walked in and asked if we could say hi to the horses. We were pointed to the "Clydesdale Hamlet" out back. They have a huge amount of pasture space to run around, but when we arrived they were being fed in the stable. Hence the following pictures where they look like they're in jail.

This is one of the few shots we got of them looking up. Mostly they had their faces buried in their feed bags, munching away. I clicked and whinnied at this guy until he glanced my way with a look of utter contempt. Sorry dude! I'm just a girl trying to get a picture.
Then he totally posed in a stereotypical "oh, look, I'm just being a gorgeous horse, nothing to see here folks, just casually scratching my leg". All of them really were truly beautiful, and HUGE. They all stand 18 hands high. If you don't know about horses, just trust me, 18 hands is a big horse. I kind of think they knew how awesome they were though, what with the whole ignoring us and acting put out when we took pictures thing.
The rest of the stable had a few memorabilia/museum type items. These are the carriages they pull- I don't think they were the original 1933 "we're debuting the Clydesdales to celebrate the end of Prohibition, whee!" carriages though.
This picture is blurry, but I included it just to emphasize how mammoth these animals are. The top is a Clydesdale shoe, the bottom is a regular old run of the mill horse's shoe.

Since we were there and since it was free, we checked out the hospitality room and J-Ben tried their Blueberry lager. I took advantage of their free Pepsi. I'm trying to be, as we say in our group, "all awkward dog" about the fact that I find myself, once again, in a bar or a brewery. This picture makes me laugh every time I see it, because I can hear my friend Kate saying "bunny, quit being all awkward dog!!" every time.

We headed home to a restored P!, and I got to work on dinner. Bobby came home and we shared our last meal before heading down to the hot tub. It's nice to relax and actually enjoy the heat because everything around you is literally freezing and covered in snow. The next morning J-Ben and P! left early for Texas. We were sad to see them go but we were *so* happy they came. Since we've moved up here 3 sets of couple friends have come to visit for a week each, and I'm always beyond thrilled to play host and soak up their company. I'm looking forward to lots more visits!

Out on the Town

J-Ben and P! planned to leave early Saturday morning. Since that plan required a correspondingly early night in on Friday, we had our last night out on the town on Thursday. I always take people the The Drunken Monkey, because they have swings instead of bar stools and the decor is ridiculous and funny. However, it is firmly in the category of "early 20's college kid bar" so it's not the best place to hunker down to spend an evening. It was, therefore, our first stop on the downtown tour. J-Ben, P!, and Bobby all ordered one drink, we listened to the obnoxious trivia game going on, and we had a photoshoot on the swings.

Yes, we did that. We kind of had to.
I think I was probably saying to J-Ben "see what I meant about the whole college bar thing?" and she was probably saying "word girl, I'ma finish my drink and we'll bounce".

We walked through Linden Street square, which is filled with sculptures and has a revolving door of art installations.

The last few weeks there has been a public piano, covered in graffiti style art, which has a simple "Play Me" sign. I *love* this photo.

We ended the night in our favorite place, Elliot's Martini Bar. We love everything about this place. The music is good but not so loud that you can't talk. There are lots of comfy booths and two front sitting areas with couches that wrap around into the windows. The feel of the bar is very laid back and friendly, instead of obnoxious drunken college kid hormone drenched. It's clean and the service is good and it caters to a bit of an older crowd. They might not have swings, but the tradeoff is worth it, to say the least.
We hung out there for an hour or two. If I drank, this would be the place. They have a four page menu- with, as I'm sure you're not surprised, tens of martinis. The names are ridiculous and there are hundreds of different flavors. I tasted J-Ben's banana/coconut/chocolate martini, and it was very good.
But I still preferred my drink. Every time we go there I ask the server to ask the bartender to make an interesting virgin drink. The last time I got a creamy drink in a pint glass that tasted like an orange creamsicle. This time it was pomegranate and red grapefruit martini with lime. And it's always on the house!
Dear Elliot's Martini Bar- Thanks for being awesome. Love, Cortney