Friday, January 29, 2010

Wedding Stuff! (not mine, silly!)

I have a friend getting married this fall and she's decided on a bridesmaid's dress for us! It's this beauty by Bill Levkoff and I think it's goregous!

The other day when I was helping her out with some wedding 'research' (read: stalking wedding blogs/websites) I found this picture below:

It's our dress and I THINK it's even in the same color we'll be wearing! I haven't seen the swatch yet, but I'm told our color is called European Lilac... so it might be lighter than this but I'm not sure. Either way, I think it's going to be very elegant! She's pairing the lilac with a sage green to compliment the dried hydrangea flowers that will be used. We've already been discussing DIY projects for decorations and I think we're going to attempt some fabric or tulle pomanders to decorate the ceremony space. I'm SO excited and I think it's going to be a beautiful wedding!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What is...?

The JEOPARDY test!!!

I am waiting to take it AS WE SPEAK! Wish me luck - maybe you'll see me on an upcoming episode with Alex :)

ETA: Ok... that was tough. You probably won't be seeing me on TV any time soon. But some of the answers were pretty easy... so cross your fingers. and toes... and anything else you can!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Self Assessment 2009 - AKA: My Mad Skillz

Each year before our annual reviews, my company asks its employees to fill out a "Talent Survey" to assess our individual talents and weaknesses. After filling mine out this morning, I noticed there was a VAST disparity between what I wanted to say and what I actually said. See for yourself: [What I should have said will be in brackets with italics. What I actually said is in bold print]

Sales and Negotiation Skills
I have minimal sales and negotiating skills [because you have me shoved upstairs in a cubicle that doesn't have a window, much less, access to an actual living, breathing customer] . I’ve never had to negotiate a deal with a customer or try and sell a product [and I'm completely fine with that because I have no desire to further my career at this institution.]

Credit Skills
After three [hateful, painful, deplorable, miserable, etc...] years in the credit department, I’m finally comfortable with my credit skills. I think I sometimes miss ‘big picture’ problems [because I don't care] but I have improved in knowing what kinds of questions to ask myself [such as: why am I still working here? What is the quickest way out of this hell hole? How can I minimize my efforts without being noticed?]as well as the lender [not that it matters because they don't answer the questions I ask anyways]. Analyzing the balance sheet is probably my biggest weakness [again, because I don't care].

Administrative Skills
I am comfortable with a variety of administrative tasks [because my IQ is higher than 50] including but not limited to filing [booooorrrrring], file review [when lenders are too lazy to do it themselves], ordering UCCs and credit reports, and cooperating with assistants and documentation specialists when necessary, [and showing up to work even when it makes me physically sick to think about sitting in an office for 8 hours, and dealing with asshole lenders, and showing up on time which is more than I can say for my coworkers].

Network Skills (side note: I had to ask my supervisor what was meant by 'network.' Was it 'networking' or like our actual computer network? He laughed and said just answer both. He obviously cares about this survey just as much, if not less, than I do.)
I am able to use our system to its full potential [again, because my IQ is higher than 50], and I have mastered the art [and yes, it is an art] of creating a proposal, spreading financial statements, and incorporating other Microsoft Office applications [even though it doesn't matter because the people who turn in the most hacked-up shitty proposal copies are praised up and down for their good work]. I enjoy networking with other lenders [only the non-douchebag ones, which severely limits my choices] and clients whenever possible [preferably at a bar where someone else is picking up the tab, although that never happens because our bank is poor now] although my experience with business networking is limited [because I don't care. However, I am pretty adept at social networking even though you choose to block facebook from me].

Other Skills
[Compared to the other idiots in my department] I have a firm grasp on the English language and I am able to review my colleagues’ work for misspellings and improper grammar usage. Although this may seem unnecessary [and everyone bitches about it], it makes our work appear more polished and professional [and saves our bank from looking like it's run by a bunch of incompetent rednecks. And it makes me feel smarter than my co-workers.].

I have a very very strong desire to replace the 's' for a 'z' at the end of Skills (skillz)... too much? Or just right?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Puppy pics!

Just a few new pics of my baby! I promise I'll do a real post soon!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Disappearances, Fast-Food Fails, and Sleeptalking

Wow! Where have I been!? Holy crap I've been busy since I last posted. I'll catch you all up with some pics shortly. I'm already becoming a slave to homework and it's been all of 6 days since the semester began! I've never read so much in my entire life - 90+ pages of Jane Austen (equivalent to an entire chick lit book as far as complexity and content go), 12 pages from an economic article (which doesn't seem like a lot, but come ON! Econ is a ridiculously boring topic about which to read), 27 pages on secondary language writers (still finishing this one up tonight), and about 50 pages on psychoanalytic literary criticism a la Mr. Freud (just reading about his theory and examples gave me some weird ass dreams last night!!). Whew! Needless to say, I haven't just been sitting around ignoring my blog on purpose!

But I did want to share a few tales from my escapades Saturday night. It was nothing special; Josh's friend was celebrating a birthday at Olivera's in Ionia so we went down for a few drinks and some Buzztime trivia (I'm like a trivia master when it comes to those things!). On the way home, Josh and I both wanted a chocolate shake. We pulled into the Burger King parking lot and ordered, only to be told (quite rudely, might I add) that they were cleaning the shake machine and it would be a 30 minute wait. I was immediately pissed. I knew they just didn't want to make the shakes! Who cleans a shake machine at 11:30 pm? Seriously! So, we headed up the hill to Wendy's for some late night Frosty action. Of course, our hopes and dreams of creamy chocolatey goodness were smashed when Wendy's was closed. WTF! So much for being open 'Late-Night'... apparently late night in Ionia is 11:00. Bastards. (I get pretty fiesty when someone is preventing me from my shakes!) We finally settled at Arby's and got Jamocha shakes - which actually was probably wayyyy better than the Burger King shake and Wendy's frosty, in retrospect.

Probably the most hilarious/obnoxious part of the night came from the ride home. Josh and I were just chatting on the way back to his house; I don't even remember what we were talking about. I asked him a question, I think it was in regards to when and where he saw Sugarland in concert. To which he replies, "The Senior Janitor Closet." I paused for a second... I had NO CLUE what he was talking about. So I tell him he's insane and I have no idea what he just said. Then, I look over at him, and he's sleep-talking to me! He snapped out of it with no recollection of our entire conversation. Later that night he started sleeptalking again, and woke me up out of a dead sleep! It scared me because he yelled or something, and I screamed and sat straight up. He, of course, didn't even remember it in the morning.  He did it again last night - I was reading in bed and when I was done, I handed him my book so he could set it on his nightstand. Then he asked me where I wanted him "to put the boards". After seeing he was sleeping, I rolled my eyes, turned over, and told him to put them in the Senior Janitor Closet from the night before. This is getting ridiculous. How am I supposed to get any sleep with Chatty Cathy next to me mumbling up a storm?

Anywas, I'll be back later this week (hopefully tomorrow, thanks to the delayed-post gods!) with some pics of the weekend! Have a good Monday : )

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Best. Decision. Ever.

Ok, that may be a little dramatic, but still, I'm pretty pleased with myself. Remember when I posted about my schedule? Well.... I took the liberty of switching it up a bit yesterday. After sitting through my Monday night class I was feeling a little uneasy about the professor and the class in general. Unfortunately, the class is required for my English degree (Brit Lit II), so I knew I was probably going to have to suck it up and just deal with it. That is, until I started talking to people in one of my classes yesterday. I was advised to avoid that prof like the plague! Which immediately freaked me out even more than I already was. As luck would have it, there were 2 openings in another section of the same class with a different prof, and it actually worked out in my schedule!! I talked to one of my friends in my Monday night class, and he ended up switching, too. So, instead of driving into Allendale on Mondays, I'll have class from 1:00 - 9:00 on Tuesdays with about an hour and 15 minutes of downtime. Hopefully I can manage...

The professor whose class I switched into is about 134% better than the prof out of which I switched. THANK GOD! Instead of skimming over pieces in an anthology, I'll be reading 5 novels in depth and writing about them. I like this style of teaching SO MUCH BETTER! Plus, my new prof is actually new to GVSU, too. This is only his second semester of teaching and he has a refreshing philosophy about teaching literature. He's a realist and I don't think I'm going to be overwhelmed with material in his class. So, our first book? None other than Ms. Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. I'm delighted to read more Austen; I haven't read her since my senior year in high school (Pride and Prejudice, and I co-authored a ridiculously long book report with Jenna) so I'm looking forward to this. We're also reading Dubliners by James Joyce, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe, and... one other one that I can't think of right now.

Needless to say, Tuesdays will probably not be very active on this little blog - I'm pretty sure I'm going to crash once I get home in my bed, so I won't be updating.

Oh- and my AC adapter for my computer (it's the thing that you plug into the wall to charge your laptop) crashed and burned. Yeah, I was not happy about it and spent a lot of time hitting it and using other various methods to make it work. It didn't. But, fear not! I have a new adapter en route to my house as we speak! I should be able to blog-stalk do research for school long into the wee hours of the night, now. YAY!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A New Semester is Dawning...

...and I'm SO not ready. I don't even have a notebook so I have to make a quick trip to Meijer on my lunch. I have classes three days a week this semester and I'm not looking forward to driving to Allendale that much. Neither is my gas tank or checking account. So, what does this semester look like:

Mondays 6:00-9:00: British Literature II (from 1700-present) - Not really looking forward to this, but it will definitely beat colonial literature any day. Plus, I already know one of my classmates and I'm excited to have him in another class this semester.
Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:00-2:15: Second Language Writing (teaching students who do not speak English as their first language how to write in English) - I'm actually really excited about this class. It was a last minute change of schedule and I did it primarily because I love the prof and know a lot of people who are already taking it. Plus, it will benefit me MUCH more than Language and Gender, which I was going to take.
Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:00-5:15: Applied Macroeconomics - YUCK. Cannot wait for this class to be over before it even begins. On the plus side, my prof has good reviews on (Is it bad that I use that site to influence my scheduling decisions?)
Tuesdays 6:00-9:00: Language and Literature Capstone - I like this prof but I'm a little afraid of the course content. There is going to be a lot of reading and writing so hopefully I can keep my head above water!

So today I'll head to Meijer to pick up a new Trapper Keeper and Lisa Frank folders. I'll probably pick up a pen that I can switch the ink colors, too, because I definitely want a spot at the cool kid's table.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Such a Follower...

...but I love Glee. Unfortunately, due to my hectic class schedule last semester, I haven't seen that many episodes. I know there are a ton online, but I just haven't had time to sit down for an uninterrupted hour and watch TV online... it's sad, I know. Anyways, if there are any of you out there who have not yet watched, I encourage you to do so!! As Amanda of Martinis or Diaper Genies? puts it, it's a "singing Saved By the Bell." And anyone who knows me knows I heart me some Bayside High. Plus, the Glee Club teacher, played by Matthew Morrison, is super cute!

Just love that adorable curly hair!

Here are a few reasons why you should be watching Glee:
  1. Like I said before, it has all of the stupid cliche cliques as Saved By The Bell, but with MUSIC! (And not like High School Musical random bursts of song in the middle of a conversation... it's much more realistic than that)
  2. Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester is the best villain on TV today - hands down
  3. It's got a decent plot line too - and by decent, I mean completely ridiculous and fun to watch: pregnant cheerleader, another faked pregnancy, love triangles, political struggles between a gym teacher and glee club advisor/Spanish teacher
See for yourself-(I can't post the actual videos, but you can find them at Fox or Hulu)

The Glee cast doing Don't Stop Believin'. I LOVE me some Journey!

Queen's Somebody to Love - another one of my all time favorite songs!

Imagine by John Lennon - had to throw in some Beatles love :)

There are SOOO many songs out there, from Kanye to Heart, to Broadway songs, to classics from the 60's. Enjoy!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

"Boring" Weekend Plans

Just a few minutes ago I got a call from Garrett, complaining about how I never ever ever ever write about him on my blog and how my weekend plans are boring and I'm getting old and stuffy and never have any fun anymore. (I know, everyone should have such an uplifting friend like him. It's great...)

I immediately had to defend myself. I have to take my content area tests to prove I'm competent enough to teach students English and economics. I'm. Freaking. Out. Seriously. I haven't had an econ class in well over a year, and I didn't do that well in it (Well... I got a B. But I should probably do better since I'm going to be teaching that subject someday...). I told Garrett that I had to study or else I'll never become a teacher and I'll be stuck at this hellhole of a bank for the rest of my damn life. It's already been 7 years, which is about 6 years too long. So it's not my fault that I'm boring and old and have boring and old weekend plans! My entire future depends on my performance on these tests tomorrow! (Not that I'm being dramatic or anything... but yeah, they are kind of a big deal). So basically, Garrett, you can kiss my ass. Have fun getting shit-faced in Royal Oak with your new-girl-who-you're-too-afraid-to-call-your-girlfriend-because-it-might-mean-you-have-to-show-some-sort-of-emotion-and-that-your-heart-of-stone-has-softened. I'll be curled up with my laptop (reading through Sparknotes tips for economics... that's how desperate and scared I am) and my puppy doing something that will benefit me for the rest of my life. Or at least for tomorrow afternoon...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Resolutions! (Only a Few Days Late)

Ok ok ok... so I finally decided on a few resolutions I want to hit this year:
  1. Blog more & blog better- This includes a multitude of mini-resolutions such as blogging at least 5 times a week, tagging my blogs so I (and other people) can easily go through my archives and see subject matter, and taking more pictures of the everyday, mundane things in my life so my blog posts are a little more festive, and commenting on at least 2 blogs daily (I'm thinking one new blog a week?) I'm toying with the idea of setting a 'schedule' of sorts, so that each day I'll have a topic to blog about. Part of me doesn't want to be confined to a schedule, but the other part of me wants the accountability that a schedule brings.... thoughts?
  2. Read more - I alluded to this in my previous post, but I want to read at least 40 books that I choose for myself with no ulterior motive behind them (such as class requirements) and then blog about the books. I'm allowing myself to read Young Adult Lit because as a future English teacher I want to stay relevant; that doesn't mean I'm eliminating classics and adult literature from my reading list, though.
  3. SAVE MORE MONEY! That means stop shopping online at work or going to the mall on my lunch breaks (actually that shouldn't be a problem once I start class because I won't get lunch breaks - I'll be going to school).
  4. Be more health conscious. This should include a bunch of mini-resolutions, too, but I'm not sure I want to commit to them yet... What I was thinking was resolving to cook something healthy at Josh's house at least once a week (I don't cook at all at my parents' house where I live), exercising more frequently (or at all), and posting my progress here (that makes me super accountable which is something I definitely need in this area of my life). The mini-resolutions will probably begin in a few weeks, not right away.
  5. Staying in touch with my friends - This shouldn't really have to be a resolution, but sadly, it is. I have a core group of about 5 friends that I talk to all the time. However, I've also got a lot of very good friends that I know from various aspects of my life that I go for months without talking to. I'd like to start by sending hand written, homemade cards weekly or monthly, but I'm afraid that's too ambitious. I'm still toying with this resolution, too...
Anyways, that's what I've been thinking about for the last couple of days. I'm only about a week late, so it still counts, right??

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Resolution Recap

My 2009 resolutions were somewhat vague: read more and lose weight. Pretty simple, right? I tried to keep them easily attainable so I would feel better when I actually achieved the goal. How ridiculous is that? Anyways, I figured I'd post about how I did on my 2009 resolutions since I haven't really made any resolutions for 2010 yet.

I lost over 30 pounds in 2009 and it was fantastic! I was so proud of myself, and I really wanted to keep going. Then I met Josh. Now, nothing about Josh made me stop trying to lose weight, but it was just the combination of a new relationship, eating out more, a more sporadic school/work/eating schedule, and less free time that led me into a slump. And unfortunately I've gained about half of it back... oops! But Josh and I are both on the same page - we're not really horrible eaters (he's lost a lot of weight himself), we know what we should be doing, but sometimes laziness and convenience get the best of us. Plus I have an insatiable sweet-tooth... and carb-tooth, too, if there is such a thing.We're really trying to eat better and work out more in the coming year. I also want to run a 5K this year. I hate running but I think setting a goal for myself like that is a good idea. I've got 6 weeks in the summer with no classes at all and I think that will be the perfect time to run a race. Of course, I'll start training wayyy before hand.

Side note -  apparently the night Josh and I reconnected, I told him I was training for a marathon. HAHA! He told me this the other night and I assumed he was mistaken, but apparently after a few glasses of wine I'm quite the storyteller. What I had really done was bought running shoes, so technically, I guess that's the first step in training, right?

My other goal was to read more. After some thinking I decided that that goal needed to be more defined, so I made a resolution to read 40 books in a year. It sounded daunting at the time, and I think it would have been if I had limited myself to 40 leisure books in a year. However, I had a few literature classes that helped add to my 40 book total. I actually read 43 books this year, and listened to 7 books on tape, (which I'm counting, since the purpose of this goal was to expose myself to more literature, even though I technically didn't hold the books in my hand). Only 23 of the 50 books were leisure reading; the rest were all for a class in some way, shape, or form. I hope to increase the number of leisure books I read this year. The breakdown of my books fits into 5 categories (which I've put together on a spreadsheet to keep track, just because I'm that big of a dork): Young Adult, Shakespeare, Books on Tape, Just for Fun, and Education Based. Here they are, in no particular order -

Young Adult Books
Chocolate War - Cormier
Go Ask Alice - Anonymous
Stargirl - Spinelli
Monster - Myers
Esperanza Rising - Ryan
Athletic Shorts - Crutcher
Devil's Arithmetic - Yolen
Giver - Lowry
The Winter People - Bruchac
Luna - Peters
Stolen Voices - Filipovic
Candor - Bachorz
Hero Type - Lyga
Speak - Anderson
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Alexie

The Taming of the Shrew
Much Ado About Nothing
Twelfth Night
A Midsummer Night's Dream
King Henry IV
King Lear
A Winter's Tale
The Tempest

Just for Fun
Garden Spells - Allen
Remember Me? - Kinsella
The Un-Domestic Goddess - Kinsella
Her Fearful Symmetry - Niffenegger
The Abstinence Teacher - Perotta
The Lost Symbol - Brown
American Wife - Sittenfeld
The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives - Jarvis
Look Me In the Eye - Robison
Twenties Girl - Kinsella
Twilight -Meyer
New Moon - Meyer
Eclipse - Meyer
Breaking Dawn - Meyer

Education Based
Naked Reading - Lesesne
Blending Genre, Altering Style - Romano
Writing Without Teachers - Elbow
Bird By Bird - Lamott

Books on Tape
Are You There Vodka, it's Me, Chelsea - Handler*
My Horizontal Life - Handler
The Earth, My Butt, and Other big Round things - Mackler
Alt Ed - Atkins
Prom - Andersen
In Search of Mockinbird - Ellsworth
I Feel Bad About My Neck - Ephron*

*I highly recommend these as books on tape. They're read by the authors (Chelsea Handler and Nora Ephron, respectively, and they are hilarious! I don't think they'd be as funny to read because the comedic timing and voice of the authors is truly impeccable. My Horizontal Life is also written by Chelsea Handler, but read by someone else and it was definitely not as funny to listen to as the first one.)

If you want my opinion on a particular book, just ask! I don't want to write out reviews for each and every book (but that's something I'm going to work on for 2010). I'll try to keep you all posted as I try to tackle reading 40 MORE books this year (I've already finished 1!)- all of them will be books in print, and not class related.

New Puppy Pics!

Over the last week, I took the liberty of taking more pictures of my precious puppy to share with you all! Have a little looksie:

First bath!

He liked to drink the water and didn't like the bath after he got his thirst quenched

"Please let me out, dad. I don't like this anymore :( "

Squeaky clean puppy lounging with his pug on the couch - look how big he's getting!

Laying down - the trick we're working on right now. So far he's mastered sitting and shaking!

Big puppy yawn! Awww : )

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Eve!

So, as I posted about last week, Josh and my NYE plans didn't go as I had hoped. But, I had accepted the fact that we were going to have a good time whether we were in Royal Oak or not, so I set out to primp and prepare for a fabulous night. I decided, sort of last minute, that my hair needed to be trimmed. It's been awhile since I had a trim (my usual every 6 week appointments went out the window when I decided I needed to start saving more money) so I thought it would be a nice touch for New Year's. Plus, I figured it was a good way to get someone else to blow out my hair so I wouldn't have to worry about it :)

Of course, every salon in Ionia was booked or closed, so I was left with two options: the Wal-Mart Salon or nothing (now, if you're smart, you're probably thinking to yourself, "Ashley, that sounds like only one option, since a Wal-mart salon is never a good idea"). I debated for a while (actually about 3 seconds) before my vain and impulsive side kicked in and I decided that I could trust Wal-Mart with a quick trim. How hard can it be, after all? Well...

I walked in and asked for a trim. A ONE INCH trim. Sounds pretty clear, right? Well... after chatting with the girl a bit, and reiterating that I only wanted ONE INCH trimmed off, I thought we were on the same page. She turned me away from the mirror (something I hate) and started snipping. She asked me questions about my last cut: Was it cut on an angle? Do I want it evened out? Did I have layers? (Um, first of all, shouldn't she be able to figure out the first and third questions on her own? She's the hairdresser here!) and more and more questions like that. When she flipped me around and started blow drying my hair, I realized she had "trimmed" about 4-5 inches off of my hair! THAT IS MORE THAN ONE INCH! I was not happy. I made it work for the night, with the help of my super cute flowered J. Crew headband, but I was NOT happy about it.

But I made the most of my hair plight and got dressed in one of my favorite summer dresses. Paired with tights, knee boots, and a cardigan, it made the perfect NYE dress for dinner! Speaking of dinner, Josh and I ate at Flat River Grill in Lowell and it was fantastic! We started with drinks: a pink grapefruit margarita for me and Johnnie Walker Black Label for Josh (yeah... he splurged) and their amazing wild mushroom bruschetta for an appetizer. Then for the entrees, Josh had the honey black pepper brisket with sweet corn and bacon hash and I had filet mignon with blue crab crumbles and a bearnaise sause, with white cheddar chive mashed potatoes and asparagus. It was delicious! Dessert was creme brulee for me, of course, and a sky high brownie sundae for Josh. It was a scrumptious way to ring in the new year. Plus, Josh wore the new blazer I got him for Christmas and looked oh-so-handsome! But I didn't get any pictures :(

Then we went to one of Josh's friend's houses and chatted and let the puppies run around. Two of his friends got puppies from the same litter as Diesel so they played well into the wee hours of the night. After a few glasses of pink champagne I was ready to call it a night, and we headed back to Josh's house.

Although it didn't turn out like I wanted, it was still an exceptional way to spend my first New Year's with Josh. And... being cryptic like he is, Josh said that in 2010, "maybe we'll give everyone something to talk about"... whatever that means!

Where has the time gone!?

Sorry I haven't blogged much during the past week - I've been blissfully disconnected from the blogosphere while I was at Josh's during my "vacation." Don't get me wrong, I love love love blogging and reading other people's blogs, but it was really nice to just relax for a few days with no distractions. I read a few books and taught Diesel some new tricks! I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year's Eve/Day and is ready to welcome 2010 with open arms!

I realized I never posted pics of our Christmas decorations - which were pretty minimal. Anyways, here they are:

Stockings: Diesel's, Josh's, and mine (hung by the passthrough with care - no fireplace!)

The ceramic Christmas tree that my Great Grandma made in 1972. She passed away in August so this was our first Christmas without her here in person. She was definitely present in spirit, especially with this tree greeting me each time I was at Josh's house. It's one of the things I remember most about her house at Christmas and I was so glad to get it after she passed away :)

Kind of a blurry picture of the tree - I love how lit up it is!!

This is the only picture that shows the 'beautiful' John Deere tree skirt

Another tree shot

Side view - before the view was obstructed by wrapped presents! (and yes, those three Bed Bath and Beyond packages were for ME from Josh. They held the most awesome thick copper wire wine rack  and a set of crystal wine glasses! I'm spoiled :) )