Thursday, October 29, 2009

What I see every day...

I've taken these the past few days on my walk to and from work, and just thought I'd share.  I carry a little camera around in my purse with me, and unfortunately I think I've been spoiled by the Nikon.  But the little one is still great to carry around to catch moments with, and there have been a few days lately on my walk to work where I just have to stop and stare at some of the gorgeous fall colors that are popping up.  I love all the leaves on the sidewalks.  I can smell them too... nothing like the smell of leaves in the fall. :-)

Anyway, a few of them are blurry because I have to snap while I walk.  It's not too bad though.  Enjoy. :-)


Well that's about it for now... not too eventful, just some (blurry) pretty fall colors and views.  I snapped this one this afternoon... there was a pothole in my parking lot the size of... well, I can't think of something that's very comparable in size.  It was about 3 feet wide and probably 6 inches deep.  My SUV sank into it, so I know some cars had major issues with it.  I finally emailed somebody about it yesterday morning, figuring it would be a while before I heard anything.  I got back in my car today, and noticed this...


They filled it!  Nothing special, but hey, I'm thankful, especially for the state responding so quickly.  And I can say that, because I work for them. :-) Now I can't wait for all the rest of the alligator cracking that covers the rest of the parking lot to crack around and away from the patch.  But hey, I'm happy for now.  It's the little things.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Potato Diggin'

Yikes, "update" - what is that?  Apparently I don't know how to do that.  It's because I've been endlessly digging potatoes for DAYS by myself...

Nah, just kidding. :-)

I got to go with my parents see my grandparents yesterday, and we made the annual trip to the sweet potato fields to do some digging.  The farmers come through and get all the top picks to sell, and they leave the rest.  Enter us, the folks willing to do a little labor and eat some unperfectly shaped potatoes... for free. :-) (By the way, if anybody wants some sweet potatoes, we've got PLENTY...)

We missed you Jacob!  Poo on schoolwork!

So we headed out with some rakes and LOTS of buckets...

 Farmer Joe!

 Staring out at the field - look at the beautiful fall colors starting to show!

 Ready to do some digging!

 What my rows looked like after I got finished with them, haha.

 My view from in the field...
Dad doing most of the bucket hauling - haha it was a loooong way!

Mom working hard... every now and then one of those would fall, then would start the process of bending to pick it up, dropping another one, and so on... :-)

Finally got them all. :-) Time to back head to the truck.

Alllllll the potatoes (minus Mr. Smith's one bucket)

Mom and me with Mr. Smith, my grandparent's friend, who took us to the field and helped us out

After we left the fields, Mr. Smith took us by his house to pick some greens for Mom to take home, and we got to meet Cricket, his sweet doggie.

Mom won't admit it, but she's a dog lover. :-)

Even Cricket helped us pick greens

Me and Cricket before we left - such a sweet dog
(and a handful of habanero peppers in my left hand, haha...)

Mr. Smith and his buddy

We headed back to the grandparents' house for some leftovers, and to hang out with Uncle Mike since he'd come into town while we were gone.

Doesn't get much better than this!

Me and Granddad
(courtesy of Mom the photographer...)

There we go, just needed a little zooming. :-)

One more before we leave - grabbed Grandmom for a picture. :-)

Well I was absolutely EXHAUSTED last night, and today.  But it was a great weekend, and even more so, it felt so great to do some hard work.  Some people would probably laugh endlessly at that statement, but I love it.  It feels wonderful, plus I enjoy it.  Eh, call me a nut, if you will. :-)

Holler if you need some sweet 'taters!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Glee Music

So I'm mainly writing this post to shamelessly share some tv music I think is awesome. :-) Is anybody else watching the new show "Glee" on TV? Don't know if I should be embarassed to say I watch it, but I do. And I love the music - it's my favorite part. Specifically the fact that they actually do some pretty cool songs. Some of the acting is pretty cheesy. Well, let's face it - some of the music is pretty cheesy too. Some songs are great, but others remind me of kids with no rhythm trying to rap, haha. And sometimes it's pretty obvious that it's studio recorded. I've read many places that the actors are in fact doing their own singing, but it's done in studio and dubbed over the acting. Guess we can't have it all. :-) Still, I've got mostly love for the music, and for the effort. So, I thought I'd share some of the cool music with ya.

I'm fully aware that this may only be confirming my nerdiness, but I'm ok with that. I embrace it. :-)

First, the song that was used in the advertisements of the show back in the spring, before they aired the pilot. The song is sung at the end of the pilot's airing, then we had to go the whole summer waiting for the actual "season" to start this fall - can we say tease. I have to say there are times after certain episodes that the plot seemed to be getting a little ridiculous, and I figured I'd be dropping the show off my weekly watching list. But so far, I think it's redeemed itself. So check out some Journey... (sorry the videos are just singing... there aren't any full versions out yet that I can find of the performances themselves, except for people videotaping their tv...)

Now, for some Queen! I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the male lead's voice (in Glee, just to clarify) - I can't quite place my finger on it. It's too... lightweight? Dunno. But still, A for effort. Anyway, the cover of the song is great...

And now, to continue in the spirit of the 80s rock (can you tell that's what I'm a fan of??), some Heart music for ya. This episode guest starred a lady named Kristin Chenoweth. I only knew her from seeing this tiny, dramatically weeping woman accept an award at the recent Emmys for a show that had just gotten canceled. But after a little quick googling just now, it turns out she's been in multiple Broadway shows. She's a classically trained soprano and, according to the great Wikipedia, has a range of 4 octaves and can reach F6 (that's reeeeally high...). Pretty much explains why she could sing so well in the songs she performed on Glee. Anyway, after that little tidbit of useless info, here ya go...

And lastly, one I totally enjoyed when it came on. They were doing mashups - combining 2 different songs into the same one. I didn't find the girls' version that great. But I love some Bon Jovi. I think woever put this arrangement together was very clever - they've got my applause.

Well those are my favorites so far, my own little tv/music "review," if you will. If you want to actually watch the singing, go here and you can watch full episodes with the performances.  Hope you guys enjoyed a little geekiness!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

State Fair tales, some NCSU football, and my own fair food!

So the State Fair is in town from now through next week. I don't always go, but Jason and I have been the past 2 years. The first year was just hanging out and looking around. We did ride the hanging swings that go round and round. That's about all I'll do at a fair anymore though - I just have this thing about rides that can be thrown together and taken down so quickly. But beyond that, I just think of all the "variety" of folks I see at the fair, haha... and how they're all in those rides at some point. Yeah, I'd rather put myself through that at a real theme park with real roller coasters, haha.

Anyway, we found a food stand at the fair that year that we LOVED. Most fair food stands offer generally the same kind of foods, but Jason had mentioned wanting a fried bologna sandwich, so we were keeping an eye out for one. Turns out they're very rare. But we stumbled on one - yay! They had some benches right by the stand where we could sit and talk to the super nice ladies inside, so we plopped down and dug into our food. I got a hot dog and french fries, and the best surprise of all for me was that the french fries were REAL! After talking to the ladies, we found out they actually cut the potatoes and fry them there - yum! For me, there is absolutely NO comparison between that and wimpy frozen potatoes (not bashing those, because I've had PLENTY of them in my day, and still love them). Anyway, the fries were awesome. The lady even caught us whispering about what the huge spicy brats under the warmer must be like, haha so she cut us off a huge bite each. Not something I'd pay for, but it was interesting, and free! So all in all, we just loved the great food, the wonderful ladies there who just sat back and chatted with us, and the relaxed little corner we'd found. We took note of the name - Granny Hester's - so we could remember it for the next year. We found out the stand is actually something that "Granny" purchased a while back solely to take to the fair - it sits in her backyard for the other 50 weeks of the year, haha. So, besides this great little find, and a funnel cake before we left the fair, that was about it for that year's visit.

So last year, we had we had tickets to the NC State football game and a great parking pass. It happened to be during the fair, so we got to the game about the time most tailgaters are setting up. And instead of tailgating, we walked across the street to the fair. The parking spot we had was actually better than one you'd get even just going only for the fair. Our sole mission this year - fill our bellies with Granny Hester's before the game. Accomplish two things at once - get our yummy fair food, and avoid the way overpriced football game food. We both got the exact same thing at the fair as before, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think NC State also won. :-) And I happened to have brought my camera for the evening as well...

Part of our 5 minute walk around the fairgrounds before we ate

Sheep in the barnyard area

Granny Hester's!  Seeing this again, I think the chili cheese fries were what attracted me. :-) See the stools and benches?  Nice, quiet little getaway from crazy fair foot traffic.

More NCSU fans at the fair, with the same idea as us.

The Wolfpack statue


Mr. and Mrs. Wuf with the band, getting everybody fired up 

Bringing out the Pack

A different look at the ESPN cameras

Card trick done with the fans - spells out WOLFPACK

 Flipped over, the cards showed the logo

Honoring Cullen Jones and his Olympic gold medal in swimming

Mrs. Wuf dances with the band to "Heeey, Hey Baby" every game

And one of my favorite parts of the fair - fireworks... visible from the football game!

Well, after that fun trip down memory lane... fast forward to this year. We don't have any football tickets. It's $7 per person to get into the fair. They used to let state employees (us) get into the fair the day before official opening just to eat, and alot of ones, especially that worked near the fairgrounds, used to take advantage of that - heck, I would too! But apparently they don't do that anymore. Jason and I have both mentioned our beloved Granny Hester's to each other multiple times over the past week. But sadly I don't think it's going to happen. It's been raining and cold, we'd have to park forever away and walk all the way in, after paying $14 just for admission, only to be able to have access to the place we want to eat at. We're both past the point of trying to be patient with all the rude and scary people that attend the fair, so other than the food, we really don't have a reason to go. So as much as we want to, I don't think we're going to make it this year.

So, in light of that, since I've been doing a menu plan for myself lately and liking it, I had planned in this week to have burgers and homemade fries, which would hopefully satisfy especially if we didn't get to go to the fair. I did the first meal of that tonight, and it turned out great! I made us both a beef burger, killer real french fries, and slow simmered green beans just like the ones I was raised cooking - sooo good. Add some semisweet tea to that - man! I added some onions and parsley in the burger (side note: since starting to cook a lot more, the wonderful invention that is the food processor has become my BEST friend!) and cheese on top, and the french fries were coated in a little safflower oil and chili, garlic, and onion powders. They taste great alone, and it's almost like ketchup brings out the tasty spice combo even more. So yeah, the food might not be just like fair food, but I like to think it had a much better taste while being SO much better for me. Sure, you'll probably never beat the greasy goodness that is deep fried french fries and fried bologna. But for only the 4 grams of fat that was in my entire meal (and all that was only from the lean ground beef), I'd say we got away extremely well. And saved about $50, easy - and no, I'm not kidding - fair food isn't cheap at all. And our hearts are probably thanking us too. So, TAKE THAT, you tempting fair food! :-)

Here's the yummy dinner (minus the ketchup, of course) - I think the fries were by far the best part. I could eat those ALL day. The beef was really good too though, after my usual food regimen consisting of mostly lean chicken and ground turkey breast, that always needs some major work in seasoning... the beef even smeeeeells good. :-)

I also got some junk room cleaning done tonight, which was a major feat. So all in all, good day. Tomorrow's Friday!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Funny family video

Just a fun little video of the family I get to hang around this weekend... :-) My aunt doesn't remove photos from her memory card, which still has Christmas photos on it from years ago. So this is one of many events we've been at where she has to go through and delete some to make room to take current ones, and that's what the laughing is all about, since she'd rather not delete any at all, haha... maybe a good Christmas present would be a bigger memory card. :-)

Even funnier is the fact that we go through these antics just about every time we all get together for photos. But we wouldn't have it any other way.

(Here's a good opportunity for a plug... my family is NUTS. :-) )

So my cousin Liz is getting married!!! I'll be there for the weekend, but my plan is to actually post pictures in a timely manner of this event. :-) So look for them soon...

Hope everybody is having a great October so far... the year is FLYING by!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

No More Handshakes? Fist Bumps All Around!

I'm seriously thinking about trying this.  I've always been germ conscious.  But ever since I started full time work, with the interviews and all, the handshakes have become much more regular than they were before that time in life.  It wasn't so bad at first, when interviews were just every now and then.  I think the turning point was when I got to the job I'm at now.  On my first day, my supervisor took me around and introduced me to everybody in the branch, meaning everybody on our floor (6th) and the 4th floor.  I had to shake the hand of about 50+ people.  I think with a few people, at first it wasn't so bad.  But after I started shaking soooo many people's hands, I started thinking about what they've touched.  I saw guys who had their shoes off in their offices, who could have been touching their feet then shaking my hand.  I started thinking about the people who are probably sneezing, coughing, and scratching things, then shaking my hand.  And don't even get me started on the people that don't wash their hands in the bathroom - Jason has seen it firsthand, and my boss said he's seen it firsthand in our actual branch.  I shudder now just thinking about shaking all those people's hands.  I mean, my hand literally had that dirty smell to it, you know, after you've been playing outside for a while or something - yeah that, except just from shaking hands.  Blegh.

So now, I'm at the point where I always make sure I haven't been touching public items if I'm about to eat my snacks or lunch.  If I go down to the copier, I wash my hands afterwards.  I push all the elevator buttons with my knuckles instead of fingertips.  I keep my keyboard sanitized if someone from IT comes to work on it.  I really don't even like people borrowing my pens, but I try to shake that feeling if it happens.  But most of all, I shudder every time I have to shake hands with someone now.  Cold... clammy... rough... hot... whatever.  And all I think about is the unknown of where that hand has been.  And if it's at the beginning of a meeting, then I have to sit there the whole time wanting to go wash my hands.  Ick.

Now don't get me wrong - I don't go around using hand sanitizer every 5 minutes.  Although I do keep it with me, and I use it after the gas pump, handling cash, etc.  But I realize how easy it is to sit at a desk and touch my face without realizing it.  I try to remind myself to not do it, but it's also helpful if I avoid the germs in the first place.  Anyway, this may be partly confession, and partly me putting the question out there asking if I'm crazy.  I honestly don't think so.  I think I'm finally just aware of the total lack of personal hygiene some people have, and it grosses me out.  And I'm finally aware of the many surfaces people's germs can be that can affect me.

And it's partly unfortunate that I'm thinking this way, because my dad raised me from Square 1 to have a firm handshake.  I've always liked that I have a firm handshake.  I've even gotten complements on it.  And I've even read that women with firm handshakes supposedly get looked at more on the same equal level as men.  Not that I'm worried about that as an issue, but it's just that I like my firm handshake. :-) And a handshake is our widely known symbol of greeting people and showing good intentions.  But my desire to avoid other people's germs whenever I have the control to overrides that at the moment.

So I heard about this on the radio the other day - how some sports were considering banning the handshakes, due to the swine flu, and encouraging the fist bump.  I personally love this idea.  So I seriously think I might try it.  If someone offers their hand, I'll just offer my fist instead and say, "Oh, I do the fist bump, no hand shakes."  It'd be interesting to see what kind of responses I get.  Maybe I can still get the greeting and good intentions part across with a nice smile and a "How are you? Nice to see you."  Hmmm... any thoughts?

Fist Bumps (I know it's past the official "Day" date of July 7, but it's still got good information on it - check out the story under Founder.)