29 October 2010

day one with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

I had the great fortune last week to volunteer on the site for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  You know the one, the ABC Sunday night TV show starring every lady's favorite carpenter, Ty Pennington.

I found out they were coming to Pensacola about a month ago, so I did some digging and found out how to volunteer (which, in all honesty, should just be "walk up" but I did actually get to sign up for some shifts through the builder).  I would call Heritage Homes the real champion behind the family.  They really did provide everything from skilled laborers to volunteer coordinators to donating materials and getting the community involved. 

Since Heritage Homes had done an Extreme Makeover home in Mobile a few years ago, I was expecting a really well-oiled machine.  But while they had worked out some kinks I'm sure, there was still a lot of rumors flying, miscommunication among various volunteer coordinators, and volunteers standing around waiting for something to do (namely, ME).

They really do keep the build a secret until the last possible moment.  From what I could tell, the family knows they're "in the running" but they don't know they're the chosen ones until Ty comes a-knockin'.  Which is kind of hard when you're a volunteer because you don't know where you've signed up to go until the day before (or the day of, for some folks).  The builder's Facebook wall was seriously exploding with speculations and rumors of the locale on the day of the announcement.  I was slightly paranoid it would be over an hour's drive for three days of volunteering.  But it turned out closer than I expected, so that was nice.

Here's just a blow-by-blow account of Day 1:
The first day I showed up I had to sign both a liability waiver and an image release form.  We waited around in the check-in tent for a bit, and then they finally called about six names.  Once my name was called, I was handed a way-too-big blue t-shirt and a white hard hat.  Then we were led down a path toward the house.  I'm no stranger to a construction site; I spent my year in AmeriCorps working with Habitat for Humanity on a site every day.

It was technically still Day 1 of the build, and the foundation had been laid at 4am that day (with apparently a special quick-drying kind of concrete).  When I saw it at noon the whole house was already framed with treated OSB on the exterior walls and trusses being taken up to the roof.  [There was no demolition for this episode.]  Even though during my AmeriCorps stint I had actually built a house in a week at a build-a-thon in Gulfport to help after Katrina/Rita leveled the place, this kind of pace blew my mind.  In the 5 days I spent in Gulfport, we only finished the exterior, siding roof, nothing on the inside but the studs for the walls.  So I have to hand it to the pros here--this is amazingly quick!

This was actually taken the next day, but you get the point
Once we were brought down to the site, we were told to go to yet another white tent and stay there until someone gave us something to do.  After about 10 minutes, a woman working on the site came over looking for water.  We had none.  Just some tables and some chairs.  Eventually, a guy came by asking for "one or two mechanically-minded people who can read directions."  Another gal named Eva and I jumped at the chance to actually do something.  He took us back to a shed not too far from our tent, and asked us to set up some industrial lights.  We opened up the boxes and soon realized we actually needed some tools (namely, a wrench and possibly a screwdriver).  So the guy went on and found someone's toolbag.  We got our wrenches, but a Phillips-head screwdriver was nowhere to be found.  We improvised with a pretty tiny flathead, and we had those lights together within the half-hour.  They looked like this:

Not the hardest thing I've ever put together
When we emerged triumphant from the shed, the rest of the people in our tent were gone, and we saw them on site pulling nails out of 2-by-4's (so the pieces could be re-used).  They were kinda crowded over there, so my new buddy and I decided to stay away and were soon handed a bucket and told to just go around the house and pick up trash. That took no more than 20 minutes, and then we decided to walk around the whole scene and take it all in.  We found the VIP tent (which we were not invited to) and a bunch of stuff going on at a formerly-abandoned warehouse across the street (the house being built was on a corner across from a sewage lift station in one direction and this warehouse in the other - no wonder the county donated the land!).  We stumbled into a makeshift cafeteria, where we saw lots of people eating lunch, including the guy who had asked us to build the lights.  He told us he had forgotten about us back there.  How nice.

We got to eat some lunch there (thank God, because I had forgotten and was starting to get hungry) and grab some ice cream.  All the food was donated, so thank you to the local businesses!  We left the cafeteria, and saw some volunteers we recognized from earlier.  They were standing on the other side of the warehouse in front of the other entrance.  The big Extreme Makeover bus was pulling around the site into the area.  It was a pretty cool sight.  People were starting to come off of it, and of course we just stood there looking for the TV stars.  We saw Michael and Tracy walk by, and Michael smiling the whole time (yes he smiled at ME!).  By standing there, we eventually all got to help set up their green room in the warehouse.  It was all junk food, I kid you not.

the infamous BUS!
We eventually saw Ty get out of a pickup truck, and I tried to take some crappy pictures on my phone while making a mental note to bring make sure my real camera was in my pants pocket the next day.

We did a lot of odd jobs for the rest of the time - including decorating the design tent for Christmas!  Yes, it was October but you gotta film this stuff early!  I somehow ended up in the house very briefly while Michael was doing a spiel.  They told me to pretend like I was measuring, but the measuring tape in the room didn't even have TAPE in it.  So I held up a board and pretended to be busy.  And then a bunch of us carried wood from one side of the house to the other and then BACK a few times as filming continued.  When this episode airs in December, I'll make sure to let you know if I see myself!

Also taken the following day - it's Michael's profile and the back of Tracy
Mind you, this was all Day 1.  The next two days were actually MUCH better from a "this is what I did today" perspective--and hopefully not nearly as LENGTHY, so tune in later for my account of the Bravehart March and other fun stuff!

25 October 2010

another movie review: pulp fiction

I love the public library. The one here really isn't even close to the best I've seen, but their movie section is easily accessible and has some good titles. I've started to pick up a new movie each time I go in there. Yep, a one-week rental for FREE?  Awesome!

This week I decided upon my first-ever Quentin Tarantino film.*  I can't say that the Gilmore Girls episode where Rory goes to a Tarantino-themed party had nothing to do with it.  The back of the DVD case called Pulp Fiction "wildly entertaining and exhilarating," along with claiming that it "both thrills and amuses."  Let us all remember that I am NOT a movie person, so I wasn't quite buying all those assertions.

*While writing this, I found out that Tarantino did the Kill Bill films (again, I'm NOT a movie person, can't you tell by now?), and I've seen more than half of one of them (the second one perhaps?), but nothing in its entirety until this one.  So I think this still counts as my first.

B has seen the movie before, so I asked him if I wasn't gonna like it.  He told me I had to "watch and see," when in all honesty he knew I wasn't gonna like it.  I hate violent movies (which probably has a lot to do with me NOT BEING A MOVIE PERSON).  I also could tell what was gonna happen 5 minutes before it did in each scene.  The only thing that caught me off-guard was that cameo by Kathy Griffin -- which I indeed questioned, saying "Wait, is that Kathy Griffin?  Whaaa?"  I read the credits at the end, and my premonition was confirmed.

With still an hour left to go, I asked B if we could just turn it off.  And he told me no.  The only scene I actually liked in the whole movie was the John Travolta character dancing the twist with the gal with the hideous hair (actually, now that I think about it, all the girls in this film had hideous hair).  I also realized a bit later that the John Travolta guy was in the bathroom during important parts in each story.  So thanks for the motif de bain, Tarantino!

The good thing is that I just looked it up and this movie is on the IMDB 250 list (very very close to the top), which means I can use it to help fulfill #74 on my 101 list!  2 down, 8 to go.  Maybe I can eventually find one where no one gets their head blown off.

22 October 2010

millie fillie friday

I'm still trying to process my 3 days spent volunteering with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition this past week so I can share it with you, my dear readers, but it has also fried my brain out and made it difficult to form complete sentences.  So be on the lookout for that soon (possibly in installments).

However, I shall fill the interim time with another installment of the Milspouse Friday Fill-In, courtesy of Wife of a Sailor.

Are you a night owl or an early bird?  Definite night owl.  I'm usually not even tired until midnight.  And I get really annoyed when those morning people try to make me feel guilty about it!

What makes you jealous?  People who have their "dream job" or at least know exactly what they are being called to do with their life.  I am still really confused about my calling, which is why I lack ambition.  And it bothers me.

Have you started Christmas/holiday shopping yet? When will you finish? (There’s only 63 days left!)  Nope, but apparently my subconscious has.  When I woke up this morning, I realized I was having a dream about purchasing some placemats from my good friend Jacquie's Etsy store to give to my sister for Christmas.  Check out Jacquie's beautiful stuff! 

What would you have a personal chef make you tonight?  Pasta, meat, potatoes, veggies.  Basically I want a huge feast that we can eat for the next week so I won't have to cook if I don't feel like it!

Where was your first kiss?  In a park in my hometown, with a German exchange student.  Sounds exotic, but it really wasn't.

18 October 2010

pumpkin masta

I've been loving seeing all you festive fall-loving bloggers and your pumpkin creations. Here's my pictorial journey and finished product.  I added a linky at the bottom so we can see yours too!

Alright, I have not carved a pumpkin in YEARS.  The last time was back when I was in high school.  So yeah, it's been 10 years.  My skills are probably a bit rusty.  Or maybe they never existed in the first place.  Yeah, probably that.

 Finding a pumpkin was actually half the battle.  Being in a new town, I didn't really know where to look since I hadn't been seeing them on the side of the road like back home (and I refuse to buy one at the grocery store).  After much search, I found a church selling them to support the youth group, so we headed there yesterday to go pick one out.

Thank God this apartment has a patio.  Other than for growing basil and sitting out there on a sunny morning to read a book, it was also the perfect size for gutting a pumpkin.  That second picture there is me not thinking ahead and trying to scratch an itch with gooey hands.  Yes, I found a piece of pumpkin in my eyebrow later.  Sigh.

I'm totally lame-o and used a stencil that came with my pumpkin-carving kit (bought because I had absolutely zero intentions of using my beloved kitchen knives on "art").  This was probably the easiest one in the set.

That being said, I really do not want to know what a "difficult" one is.  This took me about an hour to carve.  I moved to the kitchen because I waited until after supper and it had gotten "cold" out.  Yes, I've turned into a total Florida weather wimp!

And now, what you've all been waiting for . . . the finished product!

Okay, just kidding, this looks ridiculous when it's not lit
One more time . . .

What's my pumpkin so afraid of, anyway?

Don't forget to link up below to show everyone your beautiful pumpkin(s)!

16 October 2010

crazy florida motorcyclists

There are some dumb people in Florida.  And I keep seeing them everywhere.  Ugh.  But this statute, adopted in the year 2000, makes their foolishness legal:

Florida Statute 316.211 (b):
Notwithstanding subsection (1), a person over 21 years of age may operate or ride upon a motorcycle without wearing protective headgear securely fastened upon his or her head if such person is covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.

I've been doing some research on helmet laws, and apparently less than half of the states in the USA have helmet laws covering all riders.  I must have been living in the smart states. Wait... what?!   Look at this insane map:

So that means a 17-year-old punk can ride his crotch rocket through the streets of Chicago with no helmet?  I find something seriously WRONG with that.

The only state I've ever ridden on a motorcycle was in Georgia, so I was always handed an extra helmet.  B got his Indiana motorcycle license since his dad owns a Harley, but even he didn't know that there was limited law there.  He thought it was ridiculous when we started seeing riders here in Pensacola with nothing on their noggin.

These dumb motorcyclists freak me out.  I already get paranoid when driving behind or next to a motorcycle, and these idiots without helmets really make me cringe.  I refer to them as "organ donors," and I don't think I'm too far off.  Heck, I get mad when I see people riding BICYCLES without helmets (guess I was raised right, since it's technically illegal in GA if you're younger than 16).

The good thing around here is that the military members have to wear helmets (at least on base, but I think their CO would be TICKED if they didn't do it always).  And if they're in uniform, I've noticed that they usually wear those orange reflective vests at night.  Thank you for those, Uncle Sam.

What do you think?  Should all states have all-rider motorcycle helmet laws?  Or should bikers have a right to let the wind whip through their hair whenever they go for a spin?

15 October 2010

fall swap goodies!

I participated in the Fall Favorites Swap, hosted by Flip Flops and Combat Boots.

 I got paired up with Stacie from One Step At a Time.  Check out her post to see what I sent.
As for me, when I checked the mail today, I found my package tucked next to the recall notice on my car (um, yikes?!).

The irony is that this package is kind of a care package FOR that recalled car (which I don't think has the recall problem anyway).  Along with a card and a small bottle of caramel-scented hand gel, Stacie sent a clip-on fragrance flower (so cute and perfect for the car!) with 3 different scents: frosted cranberry, sweet cinnamon pumpkin, and leaves.  Yes, leaves!  I'm so excited to smell some of that, because while it is gorgeous here on the Florida panhandle right now, there is definitely NOT the smell of leaves in the air.  And since my car currently smells like a sweaty gym sock, I cannot wait to use this!

Stacie, thanks so much!

millie fillie

Time for my sometimes-weekly Q&A!  B doesn't quite understand why we like to answer questions, so I just told him it was a "girl thing."

Head over to Wife of a Sailor and play along!
1. What are some things on your bucket list? (from New Girl on Post)
Well, I have my 101 list here, which has pretty much everything.  Almost everything--I left one biggie off the list.  One of my life dreams is to be a contestant on a game show.  I didn't put it on the list because I didn't think it was feasible in the next few years. 

2. How long have you been a MilSpouse and where have you been stationed so far? (from Raising Roscoe)
 I've been a milspouse for 1 year, 1 week, and 5 days (according to the ticker at the bottom of my page).  He's been stationed a few extra places before I really entered the picture, but thanks to the Navy I've lived in "Hampton Roads" (I use that term because while I was there I lived in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, AND Norfolk), Virginia, and now we're in Pensacola, Florida.

3. What is a list of songs that sums up your life so far? (from Confessions of a Sailor’s Wife)
The only one I can think of right now is "Lucky" by Jason Mraz/Colbie Caillat

4. What is your favorite kind of pizza?
I like to keep it simple.  Cheese, tomatoes, some basil, possibly throw some spinach on there.

5. What are three good things in your life right now?
My life is good, my husband comes home every day at the same time, Mom is coming to visit next week for a day.  Boring boring boring, so I'm gonna give you three things that made me happy this week instead:
  • Atlanta's own T.I. talked a man down from jumping off an Atlanta building.  He didn't make my peach-state celeb list due to his drug charges and my aversion to rap music, but I thought this was pretty cool.
  • Chi chi chi!  Le le le!  The fact that they had it better down there than B ever had on the submarine is funny to me.  And the miner with both the wife and the mistress is still kinda cracking me up.  Maybe that's mean.  Actually that is mean because I know I'd be ticked if I was the wife.
  •  I made doughnut muffins again, and they're still as good as ever!

14 October 2010

obscure holiday: sweetest day

I was at the store the other day, and I noticed something weird as I passed by the greeting card section.  Yeah, I saw all the Halloween cards (my sister is the only one who has ever sent me a card for that one), but then I saw a section for "Sweetest Day."  The sign said it was on October 16.  Umm, what the heck?!  I'd never heard of such a thing!

So of course I had to look up this "holiday" that has eluded me all my life.  I use the term "holiday" loosely, since the word comes from "holy day," and being a devout Catholic, I don't like to blaspheme the term.  [Sure, I participate in Halloween because it's fun and goofy, but it's not a holiday.  It's the EVE of one--it even says so in the name (Halloween = all hallows eve).  You can bet my bum will be in a church pew on the first of November to celebrate the REAL holiday, All Saints' Day.]

Anyway, I did some digging, and here is what I learned about this "Sweetest Day" celebration.  (Along with my parenthetical commentary.) 

  • When is it?  Yearly, the third Saturday in October.  (Guess they never could quite convince people to exchange cards for Columbus Day.)
  • What is it?  A day to show affection to the special people in your life (Umm, shouldn't that be every day?)
  • How is it celebrated?  By giving chocolate, flowers, and cards to either the needy/oft forgotten, or people in your life that you actually like.  (I don't usually give gifts to enemies . . . maybe there's a celebration for that though?  Frenemies Day, anyone?  . . . Anyone?)
  • How did it get its start?  It really was made up by a candy company!  It was sort of a philanthropic move in which they handed out over 20,000 boxes of candy to "newsboys, orphans, old folks, and the poor" in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1921.  (Funny, no mention of greeting cards in those early days.)
  • Where is it celebrated?  It's apparently most popular in the Great Lakes region of the US.  Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo are its biggest fans.  (Funny, we're living in Florida and B is from Indiana, and this is the first we've both heard of it.)
Well, that was a just a brief overview, but if you want more detail go to sweetestday.com  I definitely admire the idea of giving tokens of affection to the needy, but as for the '"special" people in my life, I think I'll just stick to birthdays.  And while I've never gotten a card for "Sweetest Day," I've also never gotten one for "Talk Like a Pirate Day" either.  I think I'll be okay.

How about you?  Have you ever celebrated (or even heard of) "Sweetest Day?  Will you be celebrating this year? 

13 October 2010

12 October 2010

top 10: peach state celebs

Time for another Top 10 Tuesday!  Feel free to join in the fun and link up by clicking this button right here.

Top Ten {Tuesday}

Today's list is celebrating my home state of Georgia.  I present with you my Top 10 Fave Celebs from Georgia!  (The "Still Currently Alive" edition)

10.  The B-52s - from Athens (the BEST college town in the world)  I LOVE their quirky music and fun dance-able songs.  And the hair, gotta love the hair.
9.  Julia Roberts - from Smyrna (suburb NW of Atlanta).  How can you not love the original Pretty Woman?
8. OutKast - based in East Point (south Atlanta).  Six Grammy Awards and the reason I sing about being "so Fresh and so clean" when I get out of the shower
7.  Jeff Foxworthy - from Hapeville (Atlanta's southside, near East Point), and attended Georgia Tech.  I grew up on "You might be a redneck" jokes.  I don't think I am one though.
6.  Alton Brown - current Marietta (another ATL suburb!) resident and holds a degree in Drama from UGA.  I love his "Good Eats" show; it takes quite the talent to make the science of eating entertaining!
5.  Ty Pennington - from Marietta.  Hottest carpenter on television, hands down . . . and I may get the chance to meet him in a few weeks as I will be volunteering on the build for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition when it comes to Pensacola!
4. Herschel Walker - from Wrightsville (somewhere kinda in the middle?).  Heisman Trophy winner who helped my beloved Georgia Bulldogs win a national championship (over B's Notre Dame) in 1980, then went on to a pretty decent pro career.
3.  Ryan Seacrest - from Dunwoody (used to be part of Atlanta, became its own city in 2008), attended the same UGA Journalism School that I did (but he left before the degree to make it big).  Say what you want about his hair or sexuality, but this guy is one of the hardest-working in Hollywood.
2. Teresa Edwards - from Cairo (in the SW corner of the state, and locals pronounce it KAY-roh).  One of the best female basketball players of all time; she attended my beloved UGA (where her #5 is now retired) and played in FIVE Olympics!
1.  S. Truett Cathy - from Eatonton (sorta between Atlanta and Augusta).  Founder of Chick-Fil-A, my first job and still one of my favorite places to eat!  And I actually LOVE that they're closed on Sundays; it takes quite a bit of character to stick to your Christian values like that while simultaneously embracing the capitalistic "American Dream."

Some Honorable mentions:  Butch Walker, Trisha Yearwood, and Paula Deen

Who's your favorite Georgia celeb?

11 October 2010

#57: geocache or geotrash?

Well, I got to cross another off the list. One that made it on the list because I had tried to do it a few times before and FAILED miserably. And then I tried some more, and FAILED some more. But then, the skies opened, I found a list of acronyms, and I successfully completed . . .

✔ 57. Go geocaching and actually find something

So a lot of people don't know what geocaching is.  It's basically just a big hide-and-seek game using GPS coordinates.  People hide these "caches" - usually boxes with random stuff inside all over.  The one I found was a "micro-cache."  It was basically a clear film canister (remember those?) with a long but tiny scroll of paper (the log) inside to sign your name.

I had been looking for some micro-caches around my previous home in Norfolk to pass the time during B's deployment.  There were a ton hidden all over where I usually walked, and I never found any!  It was really starting to bother me.  Especially the one hidden in the parking lot to the Opera that was right behind our complex.  I looked for that one at least four times, no joke.  But doing this alone with no experienced geocacher was just running on a hamster wheel.  There was obviously something I was missing.

Luckily, when I looked up the cache for today on the site, the hider had put an acronym there that I didn't know.  I found a good geocaching acronym site (good grief, these people use a ridiculous amount of acronyms!), and learned that many lamp posts have a "skirt" that hides the anchors but isn't secured so you can easily pick it up and hide things in there.  Why didn't I know this five months ago?!  Argh!

Here's a picture of me with my first find:

it was a BYOP: bring your own pen
Unfortunately, that was the ONLY one we found today.  We tried to find some of the traditional caches, the ones in boxes with trinkets and fun stuff, and we FAILED.  Big time.  ("DNF" in cacher-lingo.)  We ended up at three different parks, all within a few miles of our place, so at least that was nice.  But we had to go off the beaten path to look for some of the stuff, and our legs seriously got scratched up (still shorts weather here on the Florida Panhandle!).  And my scratches even drew blood!

B has totally NOT been digging this "hobby" and whined about it pretty much the whole time we were out doing this together.  He told me I needed to stop this nonsense repeatedly, and that I shouldn't be encouraging people to hide trash in the woods*.  I'm starting to think he may be right, considering we didn't find SQUAT after the lamp-post one.  And that one we did find didn't even require our GPS--I just looked up the coordinates on Google maps and could pin down the parking lot and pretty much the exact little island with the lamp (it was a parking lot I was already familiar with).  And honestly,  it felt weird and exposed to be looking around for crap.  Someone even asked me what I lost when we were at one site.  I tried to explain the game to him, but since we hadn't ever found one, I didn't do a very good job explaining.

*This really isn't true, since most geocachers use a "cache in, trash out" policy and pick up trash along the way, helping to beautify the earth and all that good stuff.

The best part of the adventure is that this got us out to explore parts of our new home.  And to see interesting stuff like this:

Along with some local beauty:

Overall, I just don't think we have the patience for geocaching.  Or I need to try it again with someone who knows what they're doing (not my whiny husband!).  But I got to put a big fat "check" on my 101 list, so that's something.

09 October 2010

milspouse friday fill-in

Good thing we're in the Central Time Zone now, or this wouldn't be on time. Sometimes I do these things, sometimes I don't.  I like to keep you on your toes.

 Head on over to Wife of a Sailor (another subby wife!) to join in and link up.

1. What is the longest road trip you’ve ever taken?
Where do I start?!  While I've probably been on more road trips in the past 15 years than most people take in their entire life, the answer to this is definitely my 2007 big-honkin' LOOP around the grand ole USofA (and one night in Canada) that I did with my mom.  It was about 6,000 miles total.  We had to get an oil change in the middle of it and everything.  We left at the beginning of August and said, "We'll be back by Labor Day, but we don't know when."  We camped it to keep the costs down.  Check out my post about just the first leg of it!  And NO WE DIDN'T USE A GPS. 

2. Do you collect anything? Tell us a bit about it.
I don't think so.  I have a habit of purchasing a magnets in foreign countries, but I really wouldn't call it a collection yet.  And our fridge is already full, so I think B is gonna limit my magnet-buying in the future.

3. What is your favorite part about being an adult?
Probably being self-aware and knowing my priorities and values.  And not feeling the need to be "cool" when around peers.

4. What song brings a tear to your eye?
There's a song by the usually light-hearted Christian rock band Relient K that always gets me.  It's called "Deathbed," and it's the last song on their Five Score and Seven Years Ago album.  I listened to this CD pretty much every time I drove from Virginia to Georgia, and I always ended up bawling.  The song is eleven minutes long, and it is essentially about a guy laying on his deathbed reminiscing on his crappy life.  But he ends it with how he came to Jesus at the very end, and then Jon Foreman of Switchfoot sings as Jesus saying, "I am the way, follow me and take my hand" etc.  And there is this instrumental 'going up to heaven' part.  It really is a beautiful song--go listen to it for yourself! 

5. Describe your first plane ride (how old you were, where you were heading, etc).
Apparently my first plane ride was from FL to GA (or vice versa) when I was an infant.  Which I obviously don't remember.  However, I do remember my second plane ride.  I was 6 years old, and we were flying to California.  I remember having a layover in Denver, and I remember seeing my older cousins for the first time--I still am the youngest first cousin on Dad's side.  I didn't remember this, but found out later that we went out there for my grandparents' 50th Anniversary.  There's a great picture of my dad's side of the family with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins hanging in my parents' house now (they just found it and hung it up within the past year).  It's precious because my grandmother died a year later.

07 October 2010

#49 check out my warrior pose

I got to cross another one off the 101 list today!

49: Try yoga.

I had been meaning to get my butt to the base gym to do this already, but it I admit it took a bit of urging from a gal I just met at a spouse event Monday night to finally bite the bullet and do it.  No, I'd never had any experience with yoga before, and I definitely didn't know my Downward Facing Dog from my Child's Pose.  I decided to go to Hatha Yoga, because the gym's class guide said it was good for beginners.

I didn't do any preliminary research, but B did some yoga in college to fulfill his P.E. requirement (everything else was full, he says).  All he really told me is that he fell asleep often.  That being said, I figured it was a good excuse to bust out my lounge pants.  Because don't yoga people always wear pants?   I showed up and soon realized that my sneakers were unnecessary.  The gym has always equaled sneakers to me; I guess I didn't think that far ahead.  I kept the socks on though, since I'd rather not catch Athlete's Foot again (which I had when I was 10 and don't care to repeat).  All the other women were barefoot, but I did take note that the A-school rescue divers in the back were rocking the stocking feet also.

The instructor was an adorable pregnant gal (6 months along, she said) with a really thick north-Midwestern accent (I'm guessing maybe Upper Peninsula Michigan?).  I usually don't mind accents, but sometimes it took me a bit to realize what "axe - hell" actually meant.  Anyway, she was a pretty good instructor.  She couldn't do all the moves herself due to her pregnancy (and called out modified forms for the other preggo gal in class), so she told me to follow the older ladies around me, who were a big help.

Some of these poses were stretches I recognized from my elementary-school gymnastics days (cobra = seal stretch, and I think the lady next to me did a back-bend at some point), and others were positions we use in Gut Cut (plank and side plank, anyone?).  And yes, there were parts of the class where we just LAID there either on our stomach or back for like 5 minutes.  I can totally see how B fell asleep.  However, I had just woken up to take this class, so I really wasn't interested in going back to bed.

During the laying-on-our-stomach time, the instructor walked around and tried to push on people's backs to get the tightness out or whatever.  She made it to me, said, "Oh, so much tightness in there," then proceeded to freakin' PUMMEL my back with her fists.  Yowch, no wonder I'm tight!  That hurt!  Worst massage EVER.

As for the music, it was mostly soothing until some song with absolutely ridiculous lyrics came on.  As a singer, I can't help but listen to lyrics, and these were just plain AWFUL.  [Something about wanting to be born 50 years ago and seeing some girl outside watering her yard?  Wth?]  I think sticking to instrumentals would be a good idea.

Overall, it felt a bit too 'hippy-dippy-trippy' for me, which was substantiated at the end when the instructor thanked everyone for letting her "guide their journey" and then everyone (sans myself) responded with some foreign greeting that sounded like "Amistad."

Will I go back?  Possibly.  But it might take a friend to drag me there.  For now, I think I'll stick with my sneakers-required gym classes.  I'm can't say I'm a fan of leaving the gym feeling like I still need to work out.

05 October 2010

adventures in barbecue

  Inspired by my friend Elizabeth (a.k.a. The Young Retiree) and my semi-Southern upbringing and current surroundings, I decided to try to make my own barbecue.  Now something Southerners know that the rest of the country doesn't understand is that barbecue is not an action.  And it is not a party. That is called a cookout.  Barbecue is pulled pork, usually on a sandwich.  I didn't grow up cooking, and my mom falls just a bit short of being a "real" Southerner, so I needed some help.

I read Elizabeth's post, which was pretty good, but I still thought I needed some 'professional' guidance.   A Google search brought me to this About.com video.   Okay, so it's not exactly a cooking site and that woman is a tad on the scary side, but it looked easy and I felt empowered!  And now to find a pork shoulder . . . commissary, to the rescue!

Pork shoulder picnic butt half??  Huh?  Perhaps I need to get a bit more acquainted with porcine anatomy.
I pretty much followed the video to a T.  B thought it was pretty funny that I was starting dinner before he even left for work.

According to the video, I had to put it in on high for an hour, then knock it to low.  I used that lovely hour to catch up on some TV, thanks to my good friend Hulu.

Now in Elizabeth's post, she cut the fat off the raw meat.  My little video didn't say anything about that, and I figured the fat would add some flavor(?), so I left it as is.  So easy!  And when we took the cooked piggy out, the fat just FELL OFF.  And the bones came right out too.  Slow cooking is awesome!

I did take one big peek because the thing was "popping" boiling and annoying me (and probably annoying the maintenance man fixing our sink that day as well).  I added 20 minutes, per the video -- thank God for formulas!  It's like putting the precision of baking into cooking.  Cooking requires WAY too many judgment calls for me to actually be good at it, so the more specific rules the better.

Around 6pm, I pulled the little piggy out.  It was way way too hot to use our hands to pull the pork, but two forks worked really well.  We each had a cutting board and just went for it.  If we were real Southerners, I would've had some other use for the broth/bones/fat, but pork soup sounds pretty nasty to me.  And we don't have dogs.  So we chucked it.

I love Sonny's BBQ, and I missed it dearly during our 3 years in Norfolk.  When I decided to make my own barbecue, I thought it would be good to use some of their sauce.  I added their "original" (mild) sauce to the pulled pork I put back in the cooker, then let it go for an hour while B worked out and I leisurely walked on the treadmill so I could watch my beloved "Jeopardy!" on the gym's TV.  I found some baked beans in our pantry to serve with this lovely meal and added a salad.  And of course the only drink of choice was beer (or hard cider in my case; I hate beer).  Each of us added a bit of Sonny's Sizzlin' Sweet sauce to the top for extra flavor.

 This made us dinner for two nights, and then lunch for the next few days.  We ended up going through the whole pack of buns, so the total servings came to about 8.  I love calculating just how much money we were saving because all the other times in my life I'd eaten barbecue, it was at a restaurant.

Pork shoulder/butt: $4.05
BBQ sauce: $4.00
Burger buns: $2.50
Baked beans: $1.00
Salad: about $1.00
       Total = $12.55

So, for what we would've paid for just ONE dinner (or slightly less than 2 lunches), including tax and tip, at a fine BBQ establishment, I was able to make 8 servings.  Frugality FTW!

03 October 2010

one year later . . .

. . . it still fits!