Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Sarah!

Our last walk together -- Spring 2011

Speaking of birthdays and friends turning 25, my lifelong BFF turns 25 today.  We grew up in the same town and played together all the time.  Then we got married a day apart and moved into the same ghetto apartment complex and our girls are pretty close in age.  When we lived close by we used to take our girls on walks together all the time.  Like, almost daily.  Now we live several states away and we haven't seen each other since last summer.  Boo hoo.  So on this happy birthday day, here are 25 things I love about my BFF...

Nap Thief


That is how I feel* when I put this girl down for a nap later than usual** and then she wakes up at the same time as normal.  Late nap is supposed to mean late wake-up time.  Which is supposed to mean more time for me to finish folding the five loads of laundry I did today.  Grrr.


Lacey's Birthday Present


My good friend Lacey recently turned the big 2-5.  Hello quarter of a century!  She had a little girls-only shindig to let her husband off the hook.  Our husbands go to school together and the boys had a big test the next day, so it was pretty kind of her.  I'm all for the boys having tests if it gives us girls an excuse to get together and party.

My favorite part of Lacey's gift was the awesome wrapping job I did on it.  It was kind of the overgrown, ugly big sister of these fun little gift balls.  Only instead of bright, pretty, lightweight crepe paper I used thick brown packaging paper.  And mailing tape.  Bahaha.  It was so ugly and enormous, but so wonderful to behold.  Wish I would have snapped a picture of that beast.

But, anyway, inside were these little pretties.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Never Suppress A Generous Thought (good story + free printables)


This is one of my very favorite quotes in all the world.  And it comes from one of my very favorites stories.

My daughter-in-law’s mother, Susan, was a wonderful seamstress. President Kimball lived in their ward. One Sunday, Susan noticed that he had a new suit. Her father had recently returned from a trip to New York and had brought her some exquisite silk fabric. Susan thought that fabric would make a handsome tie to go with President Kimball’s new suit. So on Monday she made the tie. She wrapped it in tissue paper and walked up the block to President Kimball’s home. 
On her way to the front door, she suddenly stopped and thought, “Who am I to make a tie for the prophet? He probably has plenty of them.” Deciding she had made a mistake, she turned to leave. 
Just then Sister Kimball opened the front door and said, “Oh, Susan!” 
Stumbling all over herself, Susan said, “I saw President Kimball in his new suit on Sunday. Dad just brought me some silk from New York . . . and so I made him a tie.” 
Before Susan could continue, Sister Kimball stopped her, took hold of her shoulders, and said: “Susan, never suppress a generous thought.” 
Susan didn’t have an assignment to make that tie. She wasn’t hired to do so. Despite feeling a bit hesitant, she did it because itfelt right. Susan had a quiet sense of mission to serve others. I was also the beneficiary of such service. Her service went beyond any calling because it lasted throughout her life. Never suppressing a generous thought became a part of her personal ministry.   

I have had so many moments like this in my life.  The little whisper of inspiration comes saying, "Do this small thing.  This person needs it."  And it's such a faint whisper of a thought that sometimes I don't recognize it for what it is: an invitation to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord.

We read in the scriptures that, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass."  (via)  This is something I can attest to because I see it so often in my own life.  I see it over and over and over again.  And, many times, these small and simple things start out as nothing more glamorous than a simple generous thought.

More often than not, these generous thoughts are simple.

"We have too much _______ and there's no way we're going to use it all before the expiration date.  Maybe I'll ask _______ if they'd like to have some."


"I think _______ would really like this."


"Maybe _______ would like to come with us."

Most times we never know how much these simple, generous thoughts--which then turn into simple, generous acts--mean to their beneficiaries.  There is "sorrow that the eye can't see."  (via)  And it's my own little thought that, most of the time when the Lord calls on us to do some little kind task, we're helping heal those hidden sorrows.  Each one of us are angels in the eyes of those we serve.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Girls Weekend 2012

Kendra, Holly, Me
 Last weekend my sister Kendra and my sister-in-law Holly flew in for a girls weekend.  (YAY!)  We all live in different parts of the country now and hardly ever get to see each other,* so it was especially fun to have this time together.  And, no offense to children, but it was so fun to get together without children!

Holly and Kendra got in pretty late Thursday night, so of course we didn't plan to do anything but go to bed.  And then of course our plans flew out the window when we stayed up chatting until 2am.  Which, coincidentally, meant that our guests slept in until 9am the following morning.  :)  But that's the kind of special treat you should enjoy when you're having a kid-free weekend, right?  Right.

*I have a lot of other sisters and sisters-in-law.  I like you too.  Sorry you couldn't all be here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Olivia the Kid


You know how one day you have a baby and then they go on being a baby and then a more fun baby and then kind of a babyish toddler and then one day you realize there's no trace of baby anymore?  Hello, Olivia the kid.

When I used to teach preschool one of the things that drove me crazy was when parents would go around calling their 2 and 3 and 4 year-old's their "baby."  Not just to me, but to the kid.  And they didn't mean it in that endearing, "Hey, baby," kind of way.  They were calling their kids babies.  And it showed in the kids' behavior.  As a teacher, it drove me nuts.  Because in class with me the kids would prove over and over again that they were not babies anymore.  They were focused, smart, intelligent kids who were good at doing a wide variety of things.  In my classroom these kids were kids.  But as soon as their parents walked in, well, there was the "baby."  Goodbye good behavior and being capable of doing things on their own.  Hello whiny baby.  Drove me nuts.

So, ever since Olivia started being able to really do things on her own and prove her independence, I've been conscious not to call her my "baby."  Oh, of course I'll call her "baby Lala" when she's cuddled up in my arms and is pretending, telling me she's a baby.  But that's for play and cuddles.  The rest of the time she knows she's my big girl, my kiddo.  And, while I freely admit that she's still a whiny kid sometimes and that she's not very well behaved 100% of the time, I do believe that at least some tiny part of her good behavior and willingness to try things has to do with the fact that she knows her mommy doesn't think she's a baby.

Wait, how did I get on this self-righteous rant?  Haha.  That's not what I meant to do.  What I really wanted to write about is how Olivia is undeniably a little kid now.  Because, by the way, she is.

Special Order: Color


I have a friend at church who is a little bit addicted to the buttons I make.  :)

Every now and then I get an e-mail from her with more custom button requests.  These are always fun orders to fill.  Not only because she's such a fun lady, but also because her orders are always so full of color!


Well, my #1 customer has apparently been spreading the love.  Because a few days ago I got an e-mail from one of her friends (another really nice, fun lady that we go to church with) asking if she could order some buttons.  I said of course and we e-mailed back and forth a little about when the buttons would be ready and, in the end, both of these fun ladies had added to the order and had dreamed up several fun buttons for me to make.

These are only a few of the buttons they ordered, but I just had to photograph these bright, cheery colors.  They just shout SUMMER to me!  Does anyone else feel like summer is just around the corner?  Or is that just me?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Happy, Busy


Why, hello there, friends.  Sorry I've been gone for the past few days.  I enjoyed a super fun girls weekend which spilled over onto Monday and now I'm still trying to recover and get back into a routine.  And last night we had a fun double birthday party for some of our favorite 1 year-olds and a fun girls night with the other optometry student wives.  So it's still been pretty crazy and action-packed.  Today should be a slower, calmer day.  Hopefully I'll finally get around to filling button orders.  I have kind of a lot.  If you're planning on buying buttons in the next few days, it'd be cool if you just do it today so I can do all the orders at once.  Just sayin'.

Hopefully today I'll also get around to finally downloading all the pictures I took this weekend.  Maybe you'll finally get a chance to see a real picture of Kendra and Holly.  :)  As I recall, there may be a really charming picture showcasing the left side of my face rather prominently with Holly squished in the middle.

In other weekend news, the April Brown Bag failed spectacularly.  Not because our only real sponsor was Creative Habit.  (A handful of others brought fun prizes to share just for fun, so we were good in the prize department.)  We were sewing something with vinyl and it did not go well.  I was worried that might happen, so a couple months ago I invited a few friends over to do a test-run of the project.  The test run was a big success.  So easy and with so few blips along the way.  I realized toward the end of the test run that I had forgotten to include a certain piece, but it wasn't a big deal.  Ha.  Turns out it made a big deal.  Only 2 or 3 of the 15 or so people who came left with a decently-finished project.  Oh April Brown Bag, how you shame me.  Hahaha.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Girls Weekend


Any minute now, my sister Kendra and my sister-in-law Holly will be arriving here.  I am SO excited!  (By the way, that's my friend Marae (brown hair) and me (blonde hair) in the picture above.  Apparently I don't have any pictures that could be classified as "recent" of Kendra and/or Holly, but I don't think Marae will mind standing in for now.  I'll try and remedy this lack-of-recent pictures problem this weekend and show you what they really look like.  Also, boo-yah for how skinny I was before I got married.)

Nevermind, I can't finish this post because they are HERE!!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Early Morning Thoughts

I feel a little googly-eyed this morning.  Picture originally posted here.
It's early.  And I'm awake.  Luckily I went to bed early last night.  I didn't plan to, I just kind of did.  And I'm really glad now because Olivia woke up at 5:something wanting to eat breakfast.  Bryan was already awake getting ready for school, but I knew he didn't really have time to be in charge of her this morning.

He has a big midterm today that he hasn't studied for nearly enough, which is partly my fault.  I like to talk to him and stuff.  And usually he listens and talks to me back instead of ignoring me to study.  So I figured I should do my part and get up with Olivia.  I finally did (get up) and finished feeding her the oatmeal Bryan had already made while he buzzed around gathering his things and brushing his teeth and stuff.  Family prayers, hugs and kisses, out the door.  Then Olivia finished eating, I changed her diaper, and she went back to sleep.

I have a lot I really should do today.  Especially since yesterday I did nothing.  Well, not nothing.  Olivia and I went to the zoo with our preschool group, I put Olivia down for a nap, I did a little bit of research on something, and I played outside with Olivia.  But I didn't even make it downstairs until later this evening.  (Where the real computer and all of my sewing and crafting things are.)  So I didn't post here on my blog or get anything done on a big project I'm working on.  I also didn't wash a single dish or pick anything up.  It was one of those days when I really only added to the mess.  Didn't do laundry.  Didn't make bread.  Which I felt especially terrible about when Bryan asked me if we had any bread for sandwiches this morning in the midst of his mad rush.  If I was rushing out the door with no lunch I would have definitely had some words to say about it.  You guys, Bryan is a really good husband.  He is impossibly patient with me.  One of these days he is going to crack and then I'll know he's really human.  In the mean time, I really should make some bread.

So, on my to-do list for today:
-Make bread (I've been adding an extra 1/2 tsp of yeast and it's even better)
-Do laundry
-Do preschool
-Go to music class
-Clean house
-Cut materials for Brown Bag (it's this Friday)
-Put away all clean dishes and wash the dirty ones
-Make fresh salsa (like this fresh salad, but without the corn or beans)
-Plan meals for while my sister and sister-in-law are visiting this weekend (YAY!)
-Make grocery list
-Go grocery shopping*
-Plan a little something extra for an impromptu birthday party my friend is having
-Play outside with Olivia as much as possible
-Oh, and eat breakfast

*Between one of the grocery stores in town going through a massive re-model during which everything in the store is being moved around to weird, random places and us changing our eating habits (i.e. changing the items I buy at the grocery store--a number of which I've never actually seen before I find them on the shelf, so I don't always know what I'm really looking for), grocery shopping has not been on my list of favorite things lately.  I realized this when I woke up (early) this morning and remembered the dream I had.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pom Pom Caterpillars (free printable pattern & tutorial)


Here's an easy, fast preschool or kindergarten activity that's both educational and FUN!  Not only are these little caterpillars downright adorable, they make for great counting practice!  "How?" you ask?



With numbers hiding under each pom pom!

Kids will practice number recognition and counting as they put their fuzzy little friend together.

You could even kick it up a notch and make a colored dot next to each number for the kids to follow a pattern.  But since we did this project with 2 year-olds, we kept things simple and let the kids make their own patterns.



Once these guys are put together they're fun to pet and admire.  And the kids can count the pom poms over and over again!



This preschool/kindergarten craft is also great because you can do a lot of the prep ahead of time.

But it's also easy enough to get it ready 10 minutes before go-time.  I can personally attest to that.  :)

Ready to get started on your own little counting caterpillars?  Find the free printable pattern and full tutorial after the jump!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Words, Words, Words

"Words, they say you nice." -- created by Katie Lewis

Oh, words.  You have been on my mind.

When spoken with love and kindness and humility, you do so much good.  When spoken out of spite and anger and insecurity, you bring so much hurt.  It makes me sad just to think about that.  So instead I've been trying to make a mental list of the people I've known in my life who I always always always love to be around.  They all have something in common.

Words, they say you nice.  They don't use you to cut people down.  They use you to build up greatness in people.  They use you to leave everyone and everything better than they started.  These are walking, talking boosts of confidence.  They are love embodied.  They are cheerfulness in its most tangible form.  They make the coziest family and the truest friends.  These people, words, they say you nice.

I call them on the phone and they don't waste any time asking me how I'm doing, what I'm up to, what I need.  It's like they have love just pouring out their ears.  And their lips.  I see them at the grocery store and as I walk away from our greeting there's a new spring in my step.  They didn't notice how tired and haggard I look.  They noticed my new shirt.  My cute shoes.  The fact that I got my baby dressed in something that sort of matches.  I see them at a party and I feel so... included.

I noticed this a long time ago.  I noticed how nice they say you, words, and how much I love to be near them any chance I get.  I noticed how they don't do all the talking.  I noticed how they leave a trail of beaming, happy people in their wake.  And deep down I aspired to be like them.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Here's to the good old days

The original "Red Kitchen" in our teeny tiny little apartment
(Also the first picture I ever uploaded to my blog)
There are a lot of blogs now.  Even when I joined back in 2008 there were a lot of blogs.  But it feels like there are exponentially more now.  And I'm pretty sure I'm right about that.

Obviously I'm no expert, but I think reading several blogs for several hours for the past four years has given me some perspective on blogging.  I've watched the gradual change that has occurred in the (craft and sewing) blog world that I follow closely.

Where there used to be a lot of text and a few okay pictures, there are now tons of fabulous, highly-edited and embellished pictures with very little text.  Where there used to be a lot of big, thick, beefy paragraphs, there are now bullet points.  Or at least a lot of spaces in between.  Where there used to be a lot of bloggers who were always tripping over themselves about not being professionals, I now read women talk about blogging and creating in a serious way.  This is their job now, whether they get paid or not, and they take it (and themselves) seriously.

I've definitely noticed those same changes in myself as a blogger.  I look through my archives and just shake my head.  "Honestly?  People read this?  How could they stand these pictures?  How could I be so dorky?"  But the truth is, the world of craft blogs (as least in my opinion) was a lot more amateur all around then compared to now.  Back then most bloggers had dorky, tacky blog headers.  We were wowed if they could get an image into their header.  Now?  Now even start-up blogs look super professional.  (Though, to be perfectly honest, I'm still wowed by that.)

But the biggest change in the way that I blog hasn't been in the quality of the photos (though I do sincerely think/hope they have improved) or the way I present myself when I write professionally.  The biggest change for me has been my audience.

Bryan and I got married in December of 2007.  So 2008 was really our first year of marriage.  2008 was also a great year because we lived in the same college town as Bryan's older brother Chris and his wife Anna.  None of us had kids yet.  All of us were fairly newly married.  We got together a lot to play games (three of us got whomping good at Settlers) and hang out and watch Enchanted.  Everybody was busy with school and work and stuff, but we were young, child-less, and full of ourselves in a really funny way.  Or at least we thought we were really funny.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"As if it's not enough just to be..."

Design created by Katie Lewis -- PDF copies available HERE in the shop

I've been thinking about this quote a lot lately.  Well, really I've been carrying it around with me in the back of my mind since I first read it several years ago.  Have you read Love, Stargirl?  Do you know the context?  If not, let me offer a bit of background.

The only way I know how to describe Stargirl is to say that she is a free spirit.  I can't read Stargirl without being reminded of one of my favorite roommates from college who is the epitome of free spriritedness herself.  Too often I find myself boxed up in the confines of my own expectations and I always admire and love to be around those who are brave enough to step outside all that and just be themselves.

That is Stargirl.  And all the more so in Love, Stargirl than in the first book in the series (Stargirl).  There is something more real about her in the second book.  I put the book down years ago, but I can't put it out of my mind.  There is too much truth in it to forget it.

The quote in this print comes from Love, Stargirl when Stargirl is about to reveal the equinox (Am I remembering that right?  Is it the equinox?) to her friends that have gathered around to see it.  She's considering whether or not to make a big deal about the spectacle they're all about to see when her friend steps in and says this.  (See quote above.)


To me it means, "The things we already love don't need dressing up.  They're perfect as they are."  Or perhaps, "We make too many things more complicated than they ought to be."  Or even, "Life is beautiful all on its own."

Whichever it is, it's a good reminder of simplicity.
And I think that's something we all need a daily dose of.

I know I do.

I think about this when I'm working on sewing projects.  I'll find myself about to get carried away with unnecessary embellishments and do-dads and then the thought will drift into my mind, "As if it's not enough just to be."

I think about this when my life gets crowded with too many commitments and too many goals and I start to feel myself slipping.  I think about how happy I feel when I just spend the afternoon playing outside with Olivia and I think, "As if it's not enough just to be."

What we be and what we become is such an integral part of life.  It's something I've been trying to focus in on for years.  I'm still working on it.  I'm still becoming.

It's something worth working on.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yard Sale Tips From A Seasoned Pro


Last year we sold 99% of what we owned, packed the rest in our car, and moved across the country.  Before we moved we sold a lot of things at yard sales.  Through trial and error I learned some great tips for selling things successfully.  That's what I'm sharing today.

Note: I have previously written about this same subject.  (See HERE.)  What I'm sharing today may overlap on what I shared previously or it might be new information.  I encourage you to read both posts for maximum helpful information.  :)


Use price tags:  If I could only give one piece of yard sale advice, it would be to put a price tag on every single thing you put out to sell.  Most people don't want to ask how much something is.  And nobody wants to make an offer before they know how much you're hoping to get for an item.  Too low and you're insulted, too high and they'll leave feeling scammed.  I guarantee you'll sell more items if you put a price tag on everything.

My personal favorite way to add price tags is with yellow electrical tape and a black Sharpie marker.  Write the price on the tape with the Sharpie, cut it off the roll, and stick it in a prominent place on the item.  The combination of yellow electrical tape and black Sharpie marker is both eye-catching and clean.  It helps people spot the price easily (and from a distance) and it helps keep your yard sale looking tidy and neat.  Another added bonus?  Electrical tape comes off cleanly from almost* everything.

*Don't put electrical tape on top of other stickers (such as the decal stickers that are often on kids toys).  I learned this the hard way.


Cleanliness matters:  Take a few moments to give dirty items a good cleaning.  Even just wiping a damp cloth over dusty items can boost their value.  Dirty and dingy items are likely to be overlooked or undervalued.  Clean items increase the value not only by looking more presentable, but by conveying to buyers that you are the kind of person who takes good care of your things and, therefore, what you're selling is something that they can feel happy about buying.

Standing Alone, Being Emotional, And Being Okay


I'm never sure how I feel about writing personal posts.  Not personal as in, "this is about me and/or my family and not a craft tutorial," but personal in the sense that it's the kind of thing I can handle writing down, but probably not something I would ever say out loud.  Does that make sense?

Maybe if we've never met you didn't know I'm like that.  That I prefer to write things down rather than say them out loud.


Nobody really likes to be a wimp, right?  So I prefer to write things down.  And having a blog has somehow gotten me used to writing things down where others can read them.  Even though I sometimes write things for others to read that I wouldn't say out loud.  Are you with me?  Are you like that too?  Maybe you are.

Anyway, that is my long and delayed way of saying that I've been thinking about a lot of personal stuff lately.  I'd call it "heavy" stuff, but that makes my mom and sisters think that I'm depressed and I'm definitely not.  In fact, I'm very happy with my life.  And I'm not just saying that for the sake of saying that.  (Really.)  It's funny how it's hard to write about serious stuff and convince people that you're genuinely happy at the same time.

Anyway, this is what I really got on to write about:

I got on to write about standing alone, being emotional, and being okay all at the same time.

Do you believe that that's possible?  Because I do.  But it's hard to say that out loud because, if and when you do, people get the wrong idea.  If you say you feel like you've been standing alone they start apologizing for not being there for you.  Which isn't what you meant at all.  And if you say that you've been emotional people think that means that you've been crying.  Which you haven't been.  And--ironically--the moment you start trying to convince people that you're fine, they start to worry.  But this is how I've been feeling lately.

Monday, April 9, 2012

As it turns out


Fought this battle.
And won.

Boo-yah.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hip Hip HOORAY!


Speaking of today being a happy day and sharing happy things with friends, some of my favorite people in the whole world who have been waiting to adopt just had their sweet baby placed in their arms!  My excitement and happiness on their behalf is spilling out all over the place, including here on the blog.  Go give that sweet baby boy lots of virtual kisses!  I only wish I was close enough to go welcome him into the world in person.  Hooray for happy miracles on Easter and every day.  :)


Easter With Our Primary Kids



I've mentioned before that Bryan and I teach the 6 and 7 year-old class at church.  These kids are so sweet and smart and funny.  They impress me in so many ways.  But I always find I'm most impressed by how well they know the scriptures.

Today being Easter, our lesson was on the first Easter.  (I've included a wonderful video (above) of this story in case you're not familiar with it.)  It's a great lesson that outlines the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and how it applies to us in our lives.  At the beginning of the lesson the manual suggests that teachers bring some secular symbols of Easter--eggs, bunnies, baskets, candy, etc.--and ask the kids if these things are what Easter is about.  Then it goes on to explain that, no, that's not what Easter is about.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Empty Easter basket? Let me help you with that. :)


 Easter basket looking a little empty?  :(



Let's fill it up!
And with good, fun, sugar-free items too!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

It's Not Hurt, It's Just Different


A lot of things have changed since I had a miscarriage back in January.  And looking back on even just these last few months, there have been more changes than I anticipated.

***Disclaimer: I do not intend for this to be a depressing post.  This is not a post about feeling sad.  It's just a post about what's different now.***

Of course I was devastated when I first found out that there was no baby in my "tummy."  But I also know that I wasn't nearly as devastated as I know a lot of people get.  There are several reasons for my lack of self-pity, but I think most of my reasons for this have names and faces.

One is my older sister.  She and her husband adopted their oldest two kids before getting pregnant with their third child (first biological child), who was a total surprise.  After so many years of infertility my sister didn't think she'd ever get pregnant.  I remember those years.  I don't remember ever hearing her whine or complain about it.  While I'm sure she had plenty of "why me?" moments, I don't remember hearing about them.  And that has stayed with  me.

When I was first trying to get pregnant (with Olivia) I was sad when I didn't get pregnant right away.  But I couldn't shake the thought, "Well, Polly didn't get pregnant for years, why should I just expect that I'll be able to?"  I cried and felt sad about not being pregnant, but I knew better than to feel too sorry for myself.

Bryan and I have also had some very close friends who have had their own struggles with infertility.  I think about them all the time.  At least every day.  I think about them when I'm having a hard mom moment. I think, "They would give anything for this."  I carry their hope and their hurt with me.  More than they could ever possibly imagine.

So when I found out that I had miscarried, I was devastated.  But I didn't stay that way.  And I think it's because I didn't feel entitled to easy pregnancies--or to any set number of kids.  And it's interesting how thinking I was pregnant and then having that taken away from me with an empty ultrasound has changed things.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Today I Am A Little Ball of Fire



This is what you have to know about me: I am not an instigator.  Not when it comes to fighting and causing contention.  But once I have been treated unjustly I will totally fight it to the death.

________________________________________________

I love love love our apartment.  But I can't say the same for the management.  I don't want to say too much on here since this is a public blog, so I'll just say this: they don't stick to their posted office hours.  Like, at all.  You have to call in to make sure they're there before you can go to do piddly little things like, ya know, pay rent.  I'm pretty sure every single person who lives here has a beef with the management.  And most of it is over things like this that should be a non-issue.

A few months ago we had problems with not being able to pay rent on time because no one was in the office.  (Despite multiple attempts on our part including driving all the way over there and calling on multiple occasions.)  And you know what they did?  Got super rude and threatened us with a late fee.  This was over the phone.

End conversation.  Click.  I took a deep breath.  I called back and did my best to explain things from our point of view as calmly and politely as I could.  More rudeness on the other end.  More phone calls back.  Only to end in defeat.

Today?

Long story short, today was the last straw.  I called in to find out if they were in the office.  Three different times.  The first two times: no answer.  Third time: I call again only to find out that the lady in the office was leaving 30 minutes later.  (Which was, by the way, hours before "office hours" were supposed to end.)  I politely suggested a (really easy) possible solution to this problem.  The lady in the office got all kinds of rude.  I won't even tell you.  And then?  She hung up on me.

Really?  I pay you money.  Every single month.  You really just hung up on me?

Oh no you didn't.

I can't tell you how upset I felt.  Not crying upset.  Outrageous upset.  That is simply not how people behave.  Especially in business.

Moments after being hung up on I was pounding out a formal letter of complaint.  Details about the problem.  Details about the unfortunate and inappropriate way I was treated.  Details about my easy and very possible solution.

Then I typed up a petition for my neighbors to sign saying they want things to change like I had outlined in my letter.  I e-mailed the letter and the petition to several people in the complex.  Six have already signed.  More have said they want to.  Tomorrow I'll bring the petition to them to sign.

I feel so ridiculous about this whole thing.  Not ridiculous about taking action, but ridiculous about the fact that this is even a problem.  Really?  Seriously?

Well, hopefully not for long.  I'm submitting my letter and my signed petition to hopefully create some change for the better around here.  And if that doesn't work I'm submitting them to the Better Business Bureau.  So there.

You do not hang up on Katie Lewis.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Black Bean Soup (vegan!)



Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:
  • 3 cans black beans, undrained
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 can (14-16 oz) vegetable broth*
  • 1 medium jar salsa of choice
  • 3 TBSP lime juice
Directions:
In a large pot, heat oil and saute onion, garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes.  In food processor/blender mix: 1 can of beans and half the broth.  Add onion and garlic mixture and blend until smooth.  Pour back in pot.  In food processor/blender add remaining 2 cans of beans and broth, blend until smooth.  Return to pot** and stir all soup.

Add salsa and lime juice.

Serve warm.
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Sunday, April 1, 2012

What is General Conference?


Over the years as I've mentioned General Conference here on my blog I've had several people leave comments or send me e-mails asking, "What is General Conference?"



General Conference is a twice yearly conference held by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also sometimes called "Mormons") in April and October.  Our church has a prophet and twelve apostles, just like the church established by Jesus Christ in Christ's time.  In General Conference we listen to our Prophet, apostles, and other church leaders share important messages for our day.  We also sing and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing hymns.

General Conference is held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah (USA), but everyone--church members and interested friends alike!--are invited to watch General Conference on TV (it's only available on some channels and you usually have to have cable TV) or online.  Bryan, Olivia, have been enjoying watching General Conference online HERE.

Each General Conference consists of five sessions:

  • 2 sessions on Saturday (yesterday, in this case) from 12-2 pm and 4-6 pm (Eastern Time)
  • 1 Priesthood session (for the men of the church) on Saturday evening from 8-10 pm (Eastern Time)
  • 2 sessions on Sunday (today!) from 12-2 pm and 4-6 pm (Eastern Time)

General Conference is available in several languages, including American Sign Language!  To watch and listen to General Conference in a different language, go HERE and then click on the word "English" (just above the video in the top right-hand corner).  A drop-down list will appear with all of the available languages.  Just click on the one you're looking for!

I extend a personal invitation to each of you to enjoy General Conference with us today.  I know that as we watch and listen to General Conference with an open heart and a mind set to doing what the Lord wants us to do, we will have insights and little personal revelations about what we can do to better our lives and the lives of those around us.  

We'll receive peace about problems we're experiencing, ideas about ways we can better serve our families, friends, and neighbors.  We'll receive direction about what we can do to be closer to our Father in Heaven and become just a little better each day.

Want to learn more about what we believe?

If anyone has questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please feel free to ask questions in the comments or send me an e-mail.  While I'm definitely no professional when it comes to answering questions, I am always more than happy to share what I believe and help you find answers to your questions.

Happy Sunday!

Edited to add: The April 2012 General Conference is now over, but you can watch and listen to all of the talks from the past two days HERE.  Enjoy!