Sunday, June 29, 2008

Biggest Loser is ON!!

After watching every season of Biggest Loser, I decided to do something about it. This is the summer I change my life; and armed with Bob and Jillian, I just don't think I can fail. I'm up in Utah for five weeks which I'm calling my Biggest Loser campus (mom's house). I've got my partner in crime, Lorrie, who is working out with me every day; so it's Biggest Loser Couples edition. We've joined Lifetime Fitness and have already gone each day since I've arrived for at least 2 hours each day. We're reading these books, writing in journals, keeping food logs, drinking gallons of water, and exercising a lot. We've set up different challenges, temptations, and rewards just like the show did and each week we will weigh in and will calculate the percent of change (that's the fun part!) every week. Hopefully each week you will be able to see a change and by the end of the summer I should be ready to start school as a whole new person.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My California Trip

After much debate, I decided, at the last moment, to take my tent instead of sleeping in my car. I was worried about setting it up by myself, but as you can see, I did it! I had great neighbors camping near me both nights and enjoyed their company. I took my guitar and sang songs in the twilight; it was so much fun. I have forgotten how much fun and how easy camping is. I took my little chimney and used that as my stove with one pot for cooking; I had stew for dinner and hot chocolate and cereal for breakfast. The nights were warm and the morning brisk and the days were in the 70's. Perfect temperature for hiking around.

Yosemite was just beginning to bloom. Just as this bee is gathering pollen, I wish I could have gathered all the scents and colors of each wildflower. These purple flowers dotted the hillsides while yellow and red flowers were in the meadows. To my Texas friends, do these look like Blue Bells? I wish this blog was more than just sight; if I could infuse the scents that went along with Yosemite you would have a better understanding of its beauty. The dogwoods were in full bloom and their dizzying sweet scent was everywhere. The entire time driving around, I had my windows down and sunroof open so that I could enjoy the sight, sound and smell of Yosemite.

Going on vacation alone does have its drawbacks, for example taking pictures of yourself. This is one of the best ones I could manage. I will have to practice more. Here I am sitting infont of Cascade Fall. I had driven this road at least 4 times perviously and had never seen this fall before. It was only on my way towards Mariposa Grove that I decided to stop and look around. I am glad I did because this beautiful fall trailed down the mountain side. I was hesitant on coming to Yosemite alone, but I am so glad that I came. I had a wonderful time and was glad I didn't miss it. June was the perfect month to go; all the waterfalls were in full force, the flowers just coming out and the temperature was ideal.

After my trip to Yosemite, I headed down to Lemoore NAS (Naval Air Space) to visit Paul and Brianna.

Brianna is pregnant and keeps the house quite cold, as you can see in this picture. j/k

I had made lots of plans and places that I wanted to see, but found that there's not much to do. I had wanted to visit 2 museums, one in Lemoore and one in Fresno. However, these museums were not open. I just didn't understand why they weren't open, but they said not enough people were interested. The only days they were open were Saturday and Sunday. Our Saturday was quite full already, and Sunday wasn't an option, so I missed both museums. Just a little frustrating to say the least. But we managed to fill our days and in the evenings. I had time to watch a few of their movies that I hadn't seen before. So, what did we do??

After dinner, Brianna and I would break out the puzzle. She had the edges finished, but hadn't started filling in the middle. But we soon remedied that. I must say she chose a difficult puzzle; the only colors it consisted of were shades of blues and browns with an ocasional red speckled throughout. Brianna worked the sails of both boats and I worked the water. By the time I left, we had at least 3/4 of it completed.

Now I was in the heart of California and fruit season has arrived. There were all different types of fruit stands popping up. As I drove down from Yosemite, I saw stands for peaches, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, plums, nectarines, and all kinds of nuts. They also offered fresh vegetables like tomatoes, onions and varieties of squash. So why not take advantage of all this fruit. One day it was our goal to find some fresh fruit and make jam. I had never done it before and neither had Brianna; it was our "doing something new" day. We found a blueberry stand up the road about 15 minutes on hwy 41. The workers were out harvesting, so we knew the blueberries were fresh. I had never heard of blueberry jam before, but the lady selling (of course) assured me that it can be done and that she had just made a batch a few days ago. We bought some and continued on our way to the commissary to get the pectin and containers. It was fun and easy making freezer jam; Brianna was hesitant at the first sight of squished blueberries, but she got over it. If you're lucky enough, you might get a sample of our hard work.

Of course no visit with Paul is complete without the tour of his squadron and ops area (don't you love how I use military lingo with such ease?). Paul showed me around the hangar and parts of the F18 planes. I met his coworkers and they all love him; one of them even calls him Admiral Nelson. He is on the largest squadron on base and they are responsible for the most number of planes. The temperature is quite warm and it must add another level of difficulty to his job. My car temp gage read 113; quite hot for an outside job and it's only June. Can you imagine August?? Paul's work schedule is quite sporadic. I came to visit them specifically on this week because he thought he wasn't going to be working that weekend, needless to say he worked on Saturday. Some days he left at 5 am, others at 7. One day he was home by 2:30 and another day he was off by 10:30. Very difficult to plan things when you never know when he'll be around. And you know how I love to plan!

If you can see our faces peepeing thru, Brianna and I took a herb tour in Squaw Valley, at the foothills of Sequoia National Park. We learned about different types of herbs and different recipes and remedies (and can we forget the song with that same title?). We got to see, smell and sample different herbs and learned how to use lavender. I have always wanted a lavender plant and now even more. She made it sound so easy and so beneficial. Lavender is quite the plant. On our way back, we stopped at a fruit stand, of course, and bought the best tasting and perfectly ripe peaches, nectarines and plums. Paul loves plums and by the time I was leaving, there was only one plum and one peach left. I had peaches and cream later that day and was the happiest person alive.

Talking about things that aren't open, the Fresno temple is only open by appointment. So, we called ahead and made an appointment to do initiatory work. I had some names given to me from a ward member and was anxious to get the work done. Brianna hadn't done initiatory work, so it was a first for her. We left for Fresno dressed and ready to go. We were over half way to Fresno and I just happened to ask if Brianna had her recommend. Expecting her to say yes I was quite surprised when she gasped for air and threw her hands to her mouth in shock. She had left it sitting on her dresser at home. When we got to the temple, we explained our situation and they called for the temple president. We were able to go in and perform the work. It was such an amazing and spiritual experience and am grateful that we had the opportunity to attend together.
I also went to church with them on Sunday and met some of their ward members. They were very nice and I enjoyed worshipping with them.

So, that was my trip to California. I am very grateful to Paul and Brianna for allowing me to stay with them. Now for the fun facts:
  • I drove a total of 1520 miles
  • Average price of gas was $4.65/gallon
  • Highest price of $4.98/gallon in Yosemite
  • Average of 21.8 miles per gallon
  • Best gas mileage of 23.3 miles per gallon in Yosemite
  • Total of 9 days (driving days included)

Yosemite Slide Show

Here's a slideshow of Yosemite National Park. These are just some of the sights which I enjoyed. Remember if you want to hear the slideshow music, pause "my elevator music" and then click the speaker on the slideshow.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Refinishing my Dresser

Here's a little slide show of my little project I've been working on for the past 2 days. Since I had such good results from my last refinishing project, I thought I'd try my hand at it again. This old dresser was the eye-sore of my bedroom and needed to be fixed. I had left over stain and top coat from the vanity, so I was off to a great start already. All I needed was more sandpaper and hardware. I got the same brushed copper knobs as my vanity to tie the two pieces together. I was able to borrow a hand sander from Cami; she's in my ward. It's amazing how much time and enegery that little sander saved me. My whole garage was covered in dust, including me! As I was staining, I found a sticker located on the inside of a drawer that read "Property of William Tingey". I never knew this dresser belonged to Grandma & Grandpa Tingey. Now I'm really glad I didn't just get rid of it and get something new. It's amazing what you learn by turning something old into something new again. Maybe it's the whole refinishing process or rebirth that strikes a chord with the soul.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Friends for Dinner

Last night, I invited the Mainz's over for dinner. We had such a fun time together. It's nice to have good friends around. Part of the fun was cooking. As you know, I love to cook and it had been so long since I put on a whole meal. I sort of went out of control, as you'll see. I wanted to make the weekend dinner in the June issue of Food Magazine from Martha. So, I started the rosemary fried chicken. Well, it had to soak in buttermilk and I had extra buttermilk and I didn't want it to go to waste, so I made buttermilk biscuits. I made this celery pasta salad and a fresh tomato salad with lemon-parsley dressing. I had some fresh fruit (strawberries, pinapple, honeydew and bannanas) and so I made that yummy fruit dip to go with it. Oh, and I wanted to make the mint lemonade, so I did (hand squeezed). Then for dessert we had a coconut-pineapple loaf cake with lemon sherbet. After dinner, we watched an episode of Big Bang Theory, which they've never seen. Liz brought a Scene It game which I've never played and came in second, with a few hints. You, my friend, are a winner! All in all, it was a wonderful evening and thought I'd share. I should have taken a picture so you could meet my friends and see my dinner, but I'm still new at this blogging and forgot. So, you'll just have to read about it and imagine it in your mind.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Spring Break Cruise

Spring Break came early this year, in March. I guess you could say we had a Mavis Green family reunion, but with only 5 people in our family can you really call it a reunion?? Mom, Bob, Gary and Ashley flew in to LA and Heidi and I drove in. We all met up on the ship. Our port of calls were San Diego, Catalina Island, and Ensenada Mexico. It was a fun 5 day cruise, just perfect for a week off school.

My New Home

At the end of February, I moved into a condo that I absolutely love. It is perfect for me. It is much safer than the apartments I was living in and I have great (elderly) neighbors. I love having a garage and lots of storage space. 2 bedroom, 2 bath with a great room and office area. It's spacious, yet cozy. All my stuff fits and I still have room for visitors - so come on down to Vegas!!

New Blogspot

After much persuasion, I have decided to start my personal blog. I appreciate all the blogs I've seen already and have taken what I've liked and have added it to my own (gosh, that sort of sounds like a Borg!). Now that school's out, I've got some time. I've got a list a mile long to work on and we'll see how productive I am this summer. I'm looking forward to posting my projects and adventures.