Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How I did on my 25 Things in 2013

Oh, what a year it has been! And next year is shaping up much the same.

I have to say that 2013 has been one of the greatest years of my life. 

Here is how I did on my 23 things for 2013:

  1. Be more positive
    At the beginning of the year, I was kind of a grump and I wasn't happy about it. So I made a concerted effort to be a little bit more positive. Sure I am still sarcastic and snarky, but I try to be less sarcastic and snarky around people who don't appreciate it. ;-)
  2. Lose ~13% of body weight (or eat healthier and exercise at least 3x a week)
    I am much healthier now than I was at the beginning of the year. I started running again and have been eating much better. Although I haven't run in a few weeks, so I'd better get back to it.
  3. Start a few plants from seed for the garden
    I never had a chance to do this because of my trip to Australia.
  4. Come up with a new budget and stick to it
    We've been doing a good job with this and have started other savings accounts using Smarty Pig. We have been socking away about 10% of our net income into savings, which is a great habit to get into. Technically, we're putting away more than that because Jay and I also contribute part of our paychecks into our 401k plans.
  5. Get rid of the red couch and chair that I freaking HATE
    Ugh. These are the bane of my existence. Since we have been trying to be better with money (pay no attention to our DR vacation or SCUBA certifications and equipment), I haven't had room in the budget for new furniture. No wait, I'll be honest. Experiences mean more to me than crap. I would rather spend money on a vacation (or scuba equipment to take on vacation) or other activities than I would on a new couch. Even if I hate aforementioned couch. There. I said it.
  6. Purchase new furniture and decorate downstairs
    We are getting there. This goes along with number 5 really. I think what we'll end up doing is moving our existing couch and recliner in our chocolate room (aka TV room/den/family room) to where the hated red furniture lives. Then we'll get a sectional, something kinda like this, but not as ugly. Maybe this. Or this. Or this.
  7. Put together a time capsule for our house
    I did this earlier this year, but now I'm thinking of adding some stuff. We have the jar and everything, but since we have two closets that aren't finished, I thought we would put it in there once we finish the closets.
  8. Blog at least twice a week
    I've accomplished this goal... as of this posting, I think I have 105 posts. Over the weekend, I brought up to Jay that I've done a pretty good job accomplishing everything on my list. He was like, "You've blogged twice a week this year? Am I a bad husband for never reading your blog?" I thought it was pretty funny.
  9. Get organized - important documents, books, seasonal items, etc.
    This is a work in progress. We are still trying to figure this out, but setting up our home office has been quite useful in getting closer to accomplishing this goal.
  10. Be in good enough shape to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (aka Mount Doom) in New Zealand
    We would have done this if it weren't for the crazy weather and snowstorm happening during our visit. Maybe on our next trip, we'll visit during the summer. Our NZ hosts Sally and Chris hiked it with their kids on six hours, so I'm pretty sure we could do the same.
  11. Raise a small flock of chickens for meat (at least six)
    I'll check this off. We did eat one of our roosters finally, in Buffalo Chicken Dip. It was delicious. My girlfriends' dad has been raving about it since the party and wants the recipe.
  12. Sell some eggs, otherwise we'll be overrun when the new chickens start laying
    Yup, did this.
  13. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, even though I'm scared of being eaten by a shark
    Even better, we dove the GBR, and we saw a shark. It was one of the coolest things ever. I have an entirely different perspective of sharks, now that I'm a diver. However, I still wouldn't want to snorkel and hang out with sharks - I would much rather dive with them.
  14. Snuggle a koala
    Oh Tiger Lily, you were one of the highlights of this year.
  15. Install the heat pump downstairs
    Done! We also ended up having to buy a new pellet stove this year. And I'm not so sure about the heat pump that was installed... it keeps icing over. :(
  16. Make room in the budget for a cleaning service
    We made room, but have decided that it's better to keep up with it ourselves. Maybe we'll decide to do it next year.
  17. Get the crawl space insulated
    We ended up not doing this, opting for seeing how we do this winter with the new pellet stove and heat pump. The crawl space is insulated - it's just that some of it is coming out.
  18. Have photos done and send Christmas cards out this year 
    Well I failed at this. We just never got our act together. :(
  19. Fence in yard
    Still at 95% complete. When the ground thaws, we'll finish the fence... especially since we'll have our dog in a few weeks.
  20. Hatch out some silkie and black/red star mixes 
    We did this, and then we ate one. Too bad all the ones we kept turned out to be roosters!
  21. Say no and not feel guilty afterwards
    I am doing way better at this. A big relief was when I resigned from my Treasurer's position with VGIF. They're a great organization, but I just didn't have the time or energy to fully devote to doing a good job.
  22. Have an awesome time at the Mardi Gras Ball
    It was fun, but I was happiest when it was all over! Next year, I'll have to do all of the work, but we have a wedding to attend on the same day... so I won't be able to enjoy my hard work. 
  23. Can tomatoes from our garden
    Since there was no garden, I couldn't can them!
  24. Print "before" collages to frame and hang in the house
    I finally printed the collages from Shutterfly. Now all I have to do is frame them and hang them. 
  25. Use at least one week of our time share
    For all intents and purposes, I did this. Lots of fun was had in the Dominican Republic during our 3 year anniversary week.
Twenty five things for 2014 will be coming out soon!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It's official

We are bringing little Giz home. Or at least, he is coming to us. Next Thursday, January 9th! :)

Here is a super shaky, crappy video that the breeder sent me.

And here are some pictures of his grown up siblings from an earlier breeding of his parents:

And here is Giz's daddy...

We are trying to come up with a badass name for our badass dog. So far, Jay's favorite is Cinder, after a character in the Kingkiller Chronicles. 

Here are others in the running, some suggested by friends:
  1. Gandalf 
  2. Anubis 
  3. Cerberus
  4. Atreyu 
  5. Artax
  6. Rand al-Thor
  7. Odin (found this one today and I think it's a strong contender)

Personally, I prefer one or two-syllable names for pets. So I think that if we end up having a 3 syllable name that we would probably call him by a nickname. Like Cerby for Cerberus, or Randy for Rand al-Thor. 

All of that said, I think that we will see what his personality is like before we decide on something for certain. During his first two weeks with us, there is only one day where he will have to be crated (apart from at night) for more than two or three hours. And I'm hoping that I can either take a half day that day, have one of my girlfriends check on him at lunch, or take an extended lunch and run home in the middle of the day for an hour. Or some combination of that. Since I'll be working in Denton beginning January 27th, going home at lunch to take care of the pup won't be a problem. 

So that's my exciting news! Lots of changes coming for 2014... new job, new puppy... and I'm sure that there will be other new things as well!

Friday, December 27, 2013

And another plan...

I haven't heard anything from the person that I began stalking emailed through their Craigslist posting. I tried Facebook friending/messaging them and everything. Their last post was on December 19th, so maybe he just had no puppies left.

So I found yet another breeder, on the slightly puppy-mill-sounding website puppyfind.com. Actually, aforementioned Craigslist dude had posted on there as well. Anyway,
 the guy has a lot of great reviews on the site and the pups have ot Vitosha lines. Also, the puppies are pretty reasonably priced and included AKC registration, pedigree, health guarantee and vaccinations. So what the hell. I emailed him, he was responsive, answered all of my questions. He even sent pictures of dogs from a previous breeding... all very nice looking animals. 

But mostly... OMG. Giz. 

I even kinda like his name. Although I'd call him Gizmo. Or Killer McBitey.

He looks the most alert and intelligent of all of his puppy brothers. I just want to kiss his little puppy nose!

The only issue is that he is in Tennessee. Not Knoxville, TN, which we could reach by car in about 8 hours, but of course Somerville, TN which is nearly 14 hours away. If we can pick up the pup at 7 weeks, we may opt to drive, but otherwise I think that we may have him shipped. Once gas, tolls, hotel and marital happiness is factored in, I think that shipping him is the smart choice.

SO keep your fingers crossed that we will have this little guy snug in his own little puppy bed two weeks from today.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

So much happening!

The last week has been a whirlwind of activity and insanity. My sister in law came to visit, parties were hosted and attended, last-minutes gifts were ordered, cooking, cleaning, wrapping. 

I'll give a full update soon, I promise.

So I discovered why it seemed that the chickens were slacking off. It turns out that they had a secret stash of about two dozen eggs outside their coop. 

Jay relaxing at home after we returned from vacation.

And meat prep before our party. I had purchased about a 4 pound beef tenderloin over the summer from Giant. I think it was on sale for $8 a pound or so. 

IT WAS AWESOME. Literally one of the best things I have ever made, and so simple. I wish that I had documented each step... and in hindsight, I didn't even take photos of the finished product. I'll have to make it again to post. Basically, I made a rub of salt, pepper, garlic and adobo, then slow-roasted the tenderloin at 300. I finished it by searing each side on the stovetop. I let it rest for about half an hour before slicing it thinly. Then I made a fresh horseradish and creme fraiche sauce, coupled with toast points. 

I'll post more photos from the party and Colleen's visit soon. I think.

In other news, I love the breeder that we originally chose for our Belgian Malinois puppy. However, no breeding has happened/taken since we visited in July (not necessarily his fault), and we really wanted to take our pup home by this time. So basically even if by some miracle, he has a dog bred today - we still would have no puppy until April. Which we have decided is not going to work for us.

Timing wise, it hasn't worked out. I'm evaluating several other options, and if all goes well, we may be taking home a puppy this weekend. There is a female pup who is actually Bear's daughter. I wanted a male, but I mean... her daddy is a movie star. Incredibly intelligent dog from great lines. But she comes with a hefty price tag.

There is another litter that is two weeks old, from Broadcreek Kennels. There is some negative press about them, so while they are local, I am a bit wary. They are also showline Malinois, where we wanted more of a working dog. 

And finally, I happened across a litter of pups on a commercial website, then found a Craigslist listing for the same litter. Turns out that they would have similar bloodlines as our planned original Triple E pup.

In other news, I decided to take that job offer. I gave notice at my present job last Friday. They were upset, but took the news pretty well overall. My last day with the group will be January 17th. 

I'll be taking a week off to prepare for the new job. I'll also begin studying for my Series 7 exam soon. Probably the 2nd week of January. Originally we were thinking of going diving with that week off, but that's obviously not going to work with a new puppy. 

Next year will be an exciting one for sure. Lots of challenges in 2014, but I am looking forward to them.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Puerto Plata

A little sunburned, itchy, and perhaps even slightly bent... but a fun trip altogether.

Our instructor Peter took photos of us diving and shared them on Facebook... sure was swell of him!

Nearly every night began or ended with Cards Against Humanity

I love a hookah bar

The local woman on the left of this photo has a basket of flip flops on her head

Merlin Divers

Mimosas every day

Fun and games by the pool bar

Since it rained most days for at least a few minutes, there were heaps of rainbows

In Sosua outside of the dive shop. Saw quite a few guys napping on their motorbikes. Impressive!

Serenity Beach - my favorite beach on the resort

More to come. I am still recovering from all of the food, booze, and bites.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Seasonal Bucket List Update

I'm pretty sure that I'm going to combine my fall and winter bucket lists, as time is quickly slipping away from me. I've been unusually busy, even for me, and with going on vacation next week I realized - holy crap, it's pretty much winter when I return from the DR. 

So anyway, here is how I am doing:

  1. Make pumpkin pie crunch and post it on the blog

    Obviously I haven't done that yet. But I'm making it soon, for my #2 which was...
  2. Host a fall party

    We are hosting our fall party on the Winter Equinox. And it's an ugly sweater party. Time got away from us with all of the diving stuff. So. Yeah. But my sister-in-law Colleen is coming to visit (YAY!!) so it was only appropriate that we throw a party while she's here.
  3. Complete my PADI Open Water Certification
  4. Run 1 mile without stopping
  5. Swim 1000 yards

    I'm still working on this one. I'm trying to find a night that I can swim after work that I actually have enough time. I usually spend about 35-40 minutes swimming around 800 yards. So I need to devote at least 45 minutes to this task, plus the showering and changing before and after. The problem with swimming is that there is so much prep involved. I have to make sure that I have my bag and ample time. Basically I need an extra half hour to an hour for any swimming activities. Maybe I can get it done when I get back.
  6. Send out holiday cards

    I'm still hoping to get this done. I really wanted to have photos taken and do all sorts of stuff. Then I wanted to take our koala photo and put a little Christmas hat on the koala. But none of that has worked yet. Ugh.
  7. Narrow down new car choices to 2 vehicles
  8. Make a batch of wine

    I've pretty much done this. I just have to bottle it, which I'm hoping to do before we leave for the DR.
  9. Make mulled cider

    I'll be making this for our Ugly Sweater Party.
  10. Complete my PADI Advanced Open Water Certification
  11. Attend a Literary Supper
  12. Make at least one clothing donation to Purple Heart

    I have the crap sorted, but I need to schedule a pickup. And sort more crap.
  13. Mark all diving equipment
  14. Start brushing the cats regularly

    I really need to do this.
  15. Buy new litterboxes & find a new place for them

    We've decided that Jay is going to build some kind of chest contraption with a hinged lid and a circle cut out of it. If we don't do that, I'm thinking that we may buy these instead. Actually I just saw the price. No thanks. We'll 
    make them out of a big plastic container with a hole cut out of it. I've actually thought of doing that before. This just definitely needs to be done before we get our dog. Since dogs love to eat cat poop. Yum?
  16. Agree on weekly housecleaning list & laminate it for fridge

    I have the list, and we've been doing a decent job keeping up with everything lately. I just haven't laminated it.
  17. Make photobook from OZ & NZ trip

    This is a work in progress. Maybe by the year anniversary, I'll have this done.
  18. Peruse Black Friday ad and possibly purchase desktop computer

    We did this! We bought a desktop at Walmart that was $50 off, and we also bought a $29 printer. The only thing is that I'm not a huge fan of Windows 8. I'll get used to it, though.
  19. Make brownies from scratch

    Still on my list. Maybe for our party?
  20. Give away 3 hens
  21. Shop at Bead Soup for Christmas gifts

    Time is quickly running out. I don't know when I'll get over there. :(
  22. Actually start this oil pulling nonsense
  23. Get a gait analysis done & buy new running shoes

    I'll probably push this off to the new year.
  24. Make Jay a kick-ass birthday dinner
  25. Attend Punkin Chunkin
So all in all, not too bad! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Photo Dump

It's been a while since I blogged any photos from my DSLR. Then again, I haven't been taking that many photos.

Tonight I had planned on packing for the DR trip, but I seem to have misplaced my metallic wedges and dive log, so that has me in a funk. First world problems, I know.

So I decided to take a break from my frantic searching and dump some photos from the last few months.


This year's tree

Open Water Class. We got to help set up all of that equipment when we took Advanced Open Water.

The four people closest to the camera were in our Open Water class at AACC

 Can you tell that Sean is a cop?
 Sean visited during Punkin Chunkin... he and Jay spent most of the weekend shooting each other with Nerf guns.

I'm still finding darts all over the house

Funfetti cupcake for Jay's birthday

Make a wish

This is Monkey, the resident dog at Lake Rawlings... he has quite the reputation there. He has stolen everything from fins to Subway sandwiches. He's so freaking cute though, how could you be mad?

Monkey waiting for Jay to abandon our bag of Dunkin Donuts. This was the morning of our Advanced Open Water Class. Definitely the coldest weather I've ever camped in. 28. Brr.

Above the water, a beautiful lake. Below the water, fun things to see.

We finally got the fly right on our tent

Our collective Advanced Open Water Class gear. We didn't want to get it mixed up with the Open Water student's stuff. Well, that and it's OUR gear. I don't want them putting their grubby fingers on my shiny new Aqualung Pearl BCD.

Our dive computers the morning of our second day of diving, warning us of the dangers of DCS. Diving is very safe, as long as you practice your skills and stay within your level of experience. Plan your dive and dive your plan.

We are still loving Fanny the Forester. She is much nicer off road and on dirt roads than Sweet Roxie.

I love Christmas lights

And good news... while I was waiting for my photos to upload, I found the shoes that I was looking for and Jay told me that my log book is in his truck.
I think it's time for bed! Tomorrow is another day.