Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So here I am...

Sitting at work, talking (virtually) to (fake Internet) friends, ringing in the New Year with my husband (who is sitting two cubes away — psst...Happy New Year, honey!).

Fun.

2008 is almost over. It was a year full of rolling hills of anticipation and letdowns, but I survived with my sanity mostly intact.

Let's recap shall we?

January: My friend Jennifer moves to Costa Rica, leaving me behind in God-forsaken Arkansas. Kansas beats Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. I watch the first the half at work, while screaming at my co-workers that the Jayhawks were going to lose even though they never trailed throughout the entire game.

February: Hmmm. I know Valentine's Day was stuck in here somewhere, but hell if I remember anything about this month. (Hint to hubs: Make Valentine's Day more memorable this year.) Oh yeah, I buy Ryan a BlackBerry.

March: I turn 25. Ryan is out of town. Ryan almost dies in the Georgia Dome. KU starts its march to the National Championship. I am certain the Jayhawks will lose in the Sweet Sixteen, but I pick them to win it all in a game over Memphis anyway.

April: I win lots of money. And then my grandfather dies.

May: Ryan and I have first wedding-related event in Omaha. More people host the shower than attend. I meet Anna and am extremely thankful.

June: After what seems like forever, I convert to Judaism. Ryan and I have shower in Topeka. I apply for a job on a whim, interview and fall in love with it.

July: I get offered dream job, cry for days then let guilt win. I apply for business editor, don't get it, then buy myself an iPhone to make myself feel better. I make an appointment with a therapist.

August: I go to two appointments with therapist. She tells me I need to stop protecting everyone and says I should take anti-anxiety medication. Therapist gets sick, canceling our third appointment. I never go back nor get the medication. I get married and forget to smile going down the aisle.

September: Ryan and I go on our mini-moon during Hurricane Gustav or Ike. Instead of swimming we watch the RNC and heckle Joe Lieberman and Sarah Palin. I relaunch my blog. Ryan turns 28. I go to several KU football games. My dad goes to none.

October: I finally give "dressy casual" the finger. Ryan and I celebrate three years of togetherness by taking a "pleasure trip" to Van Buren in an overpriced caboose. It is pretty awful. We meet Laine and Adam at a cool wine bar with weird hired help.

November: I host Thanksgiving. No china is broken. Kansas beats Missouri. Ryan and I rejoice in the snow. We leave Olivia for an extended vacation with the grandparents. Our house is free from hair for a month.

December: Ryan and I drive all over the place to celebrate the holidays. I go to California for the first time. We finally collect Olivia, much to Ryan's excitement. I find out I'm going to Israel. I get another invitation to an event demanding "dressy casual attire." I decide to get some anti-anxiety medicine. I can't bring myself to take medicine. I get new job after interviewing internally. I accept my Birthright trip the same day Isreal bombs Gaza. I win "Most Fabulous Wedding of 2008" from the Realies. Kansas beats Minnesota in the Insight Bowl. I want a Wii.

Book Review — Have You No Shame

Have You No Shame?: And Other Regrettable Stories Have You No Shame?: And Other Regrettable Stories by Rachel Shukert

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm a big fan of memoirs and have taken quite an interest in book from a Jewish perspective since my conversion. They seem to help fill in gaps in my Jewish experience. I have to say that even if I grew up Jewish, I probably wouldn't have had the same experiences at BBYO or the same fascination with gas chambers, but this memoir was still telling nonetheless. It's incredibly brutal and honest and definitely provided a hilarious escape for a few hours.


View all my reviews.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Running Log #1

This'll bore you to tears. Sorry.

Workout — 0.25/.5/.25 intervals with .25 in between.
Total mileage running — 1 mile.
Total mileage — 2 miles
Time — 30 minutes including cooldown
Pace — 5.5 mph for the quarter-mile intervals; 6 mph for the half-mile portion
Highest Heart Rate — 195 (yikes, I don't think this is good)
Average Heart Rate 150
Calories Burned
— 234
Overall Report
— Not bad, but my upper body was sore from body pump the day before.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ouch.

Les Miles' Body Pump is NOT my friend.

I took my first Body Pump class at the new Lowell gym today, and it was not pretty. My upper body must literally have no muscle whatsoever, because it was shaking within the chest set. (For those of you who don't know about Body Pump, it's a 55-minute class that is broken up into 10 "tracks" that is set to music. Each track works a different muscle group — warm up, gluts, chest, back, triceps, biceps, calves, shoulders, abs, cool down.)

Let's just say that it hurts to raise my arm to drink from my water bottle.

I WILL stick with it, but it's going to be tough. I really need to work on my upper body strength and focus. My lower body strength and abs are all right. I'm hoping to do Body Pump three times a week and run three times a week. My goal is to run the Hogeye 5k in early April and the four-mile Trolley Run in Kansas City with Erin at the end of April. That's a lot of fitness goals to have for the first four months of the year, but I figure if I throw enough shit on the wall, something has got to stick, right?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Here I go...

So, first things first:

I got a new job!

After working more than two years at The Morning News, I will be working at The Morning News.

Yeah, so it's not that exciting, but it's still a change and a challenge, which is just what I need right now. I'll be the web content editor, so truly the possibilities are endless and I can't wait to get started -- which may take a while because they have to find a replacement for me first.

What does this mean? It means I don't have to work nights anymore! Yea! It means Ryan and I will have more opportunities to spend time together. Sure we'll probably fight more, but we might cuddle more, too. It'll even out in the end I'm sure.

Secondly, I finally clicked on the orange button and confirmed my Birthright trip. I bought a ridiculously inexpensive flight and will be staying with Marissa a few nights on the tail-end of my vacation.

So that means 2009 will triple my international experience between my trip to Israel and our trip to Belize. I talked my gyno into giving me some anti-anxiety meds to take for the flights, but she says I need to try them out first.

I keep telling myself to remember to take them before a high-anxiety situation and see how it works out. Is it weird that I can't think of any?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!

Let's hope this year we don't melt the blinds!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

O Hanukkah!

So I thought I had enough Hanukkah candles to get me through the week because I vaguely remembered one of the menorahs we got as a gift came with candles. But when I got it out I realized it only came with nine candles (there are nine candles in a menorah, but you actually need 44 candles because you let them burn down every night -- a Jew obviously didn't manufacture our menorah).

Anyway, I only realized this today, so I couldn't buy the candles from the synagogue because it's Shabbat. So my friends tell me that Wal-Mart carries them but not every one. I'm sure almost all of the Wal-Marts and grocers carry them in the KC area in the Jewish food area, but I'm in Arkansas, so I call around...

The first Wal-Mart transfers me to the toy department -- um, OK. I explain that I'm looking for Hanukkah candles. She asks me to repeat a few times and then says she's going to transfer me to furniture. I try to explain that surely hanukkah candles wouldn't be in furniture, and she goes "Sure, that's where we keep all the candles," so I play along.

I get the furniture guy and he starts to ask me for the measurements of the kind of candle I want. (I'm imagining he thinks I want to buy pillar candles or something.) When I explain that these are special candles that would be boxed with Hebrew letters, he seems to get it. He puts me on hold to say that they're out, but they'd have more in a week. You know when Hanukkah is almost over. Great...

I call another Wal-Mart that is near the other synagogue in my area. I tell him what I want. He asks me to repeat about four times and finally says "I don't know what those are" and starts laughing. At this point I'm really pissed off, so I just hang up.

I'm crossing my fingers, because I called Party City and they told me they have many different types of Hanukkah candles. DH is on his way to get them, and if they're just regular candles I'm going to be so pissed.

This has been another edition of "HOW IN THE FECK DO I LIVE HERE?!?!?!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book Review: Under the Banner of Heaven

Under the Banner of Heaven Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book wasn't really my type of book. It explores Mormon fundamentalism through the purview of a true crime novel. The author goes back and forth between the early period of Mormonism and the more modern murder of Brenda and Erica Lafferty. It's hard to maintain interest in both simultaneously.

View all my reviews.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm Going To Israel

I just found out some exciting news: I'm going to Israel in March!

I was accepted through Israel Experience for a Taglit-Birthright trip.

It is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity and I'm so thrilled to be truly stepping out of my box. Most people know that I abhor traveling (especially flying), but I knew this was a life-changing experience that I couldn't walk past.

I will be going to Israel via NYC on March 4 and returning March 15! It will be my longest trip ever. The trip takes you all over the country, which is only about the size of New Jersey. I'll be able to see the wailing wall, the Holocaust museum, a kibbutz, the Dead Sea, Rabin Square and lots more. There is even rumors of camel rides and spelunking. It is totally out of my comfort zone to embark on such a journey with a group of complete strangers, but I think it's about damn time I do something so exciting.

I'll post more about the trip as I get more information. :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

[If I could make the heart symbol it would go here]

Meet, Lauren, the love of my lesbian-wallet life.



She's green and soft and mostly functional. And I love her.

This is not an endorsement...

It's just damn funny. We'll miss you, Amy!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Quick update

Sorry I've been absent lately. After the Thanksgiving holiday I felt the need to decompress. I've been keeping myself busy by going to the gym and picking up about 80 percent of the mess around the house before doubling the remaining 20 percent.

I just finished up my grandmother's wedding album, and I thought I'd post a link here. It's a mini-album and it was really important for me that she have this because she wasn't able to make the wedding. Unfortunately I slacked off and I won't be able to give it to her in person tomorrow, but I'll find a way to give it to her by Christmas.

By Michelle Malashock

Friday, November 28, 2008

Photoless T'Giving Recap

So I kind of am an idiot and didn't really take any photos of our Thanksgiving festivities. I had these grand schemes of taking lots of pictures and posting them along with all the recipes. Oops.

I am going on about 20 hours awake after two hours of sleep last night. I woke up at 6 a.m., realized I was a little over-prepared, but still managed to run myself ragged all morning.

Overall, it was a success. We actually started eating at 1 p.m. on.the.dot. I'm so proud. I figure that I had the meal ready -- including the turkey carved -- at exactly our mealtime on my first time out deserves some kind of recognition.

Grading my Thanksgiving:

• Decor — A-
I'm pretty damn proud of my place cards (Alex called them name tags), and I got a lot of compliments on my table arrangement.
• Turkey — C+ for execution, B for taste
Prepping this turkey was a pain in my ass and I made it harder on myself by making a mess every step of the way. I also did not anticipate that the breast would cook faster than the thighs and wings, though after some quick googling I see this is fairly common. It kind of threw me for a loop, though, and caused the bird to be overdone. I'm kind of disappointed that I screwed up the turkey a bit because I hear such good things about brining, but I think my mistakes might have limited the turkey's potential.
• Challah stuffing — B- for execution, B+ for taste
I was probably not the best person to make the stuffing because I've never had stuffing before. I also stick to the safe-looking things on the Thanksgiving menu. I made a few mistakes, and I think it was soggier than it should have been, but not a bad dish all around.
• Cranberry relish — B
I'm giving this a B because only one person bothered to eat it (and it wasn't me). I knew it wasn't a favorite in the South, but I mostly made it as an homage to my grandparents.
• Sweet Potato biscuits — B
I got this recipe from a friend, and they didn't measure up to her incarnation of them. Maybe I overcooked them a tad? They were the last thing into the oven and by that point I was mostly winging it.
• Pumpkin Pie — A
This pie was so good. I found the recipe online and it uses ice cream instead of evaporated milk. I don't think I'll ever eat a regular pumpkin pie again.
• Appetizer Trays — A-
I made a cheese/cracker tray and a veggie tray. My only complaint is that perhaps I put too much out at first.

So that's that. Overall, I think everyone had a good time. I still have to put away the flatware and finish cleaning the stove and roasting pan in the morning. I might make it out to BBB for Black Friday, but it's just as likely I'll skip it and sleep in. Finally.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's out of my hands now.

The turkey is in the oven -- about 30 minutes before I really wanted to put it in, but once it was stuffed I figured it was better safe than sorry.

Last night was a struggle -- literally. I dumped water all over the kitchen floor about three times. For future reference, I will no longer brine a turkey and expect to carry it, plus the gallons of water it is submerged in, across the kitchen.

I have to say, nothing quite prepares you for pulling the neck out of your first turkey -- especially when you kind of forgot it was in there. I remembered to pull the baggie out and put it in the fridge last night when I was brining the turkey, but the neck completely escaped my mind. So when I was about to stuff the turkey and I reached in and felt a block of ice around the neck I was not amused. Let's just say I'm one step closer to being a vegetarian and Ryan will be disposing of the neck that sits in my sink when he gets home in a few hours. Gross.gross.gross.

Now that the bird is a-roasting (and I've come to grips with the fact that my stuffing will suck), it's time to think about what I'm thankful for:

• My husband. I think we have the most stable (and silly) relationship I know.
• My job and our house. As much as I complain about both my job and our house, I'm so grateful we have them.
• Our wedding. I STILL would have rather eloped, but I'm glad we had our wedding because it made Ryan happy. (And I have something to hold over his head for years. Hehe.)
• My family (both biological and of the in-law variety). I've been through some trying times this year, and I'm thankful for the support system of our families.
• Our pooch. Olivia is simply the best.dog.ever.
• My best friend. Marissa single-handedly was pretty much my entire cheering section for the duration of the wedding and she did it all the way from Brooklyn.
• My friends Anna and Jennifer. Though one is in Costa Rica, these two girls make living here a bit more bearable.

Tuesday
1. Set the table (check)
2. Do last-minute shopping (check)
3. Make seating assignments (check)

Wednesday
1. Brine the turkey (check)
2. Prepare wet and dry ingredients for stuffing and refrigerate (check — after a struggle)
3. Make pumpkin pies and put in cool place (check)
4. Make appetizer tray and refrigerate (check)
5. Prepare biscuit dough, wrap and refrigerate (check)
6. (add) Clean the rest of the house, including guest bathroom and make sign reminding guests to jiggle the handle (check!)

Thursday
1a. Get up ass early and immediately turn off the heat in the house (check)
1b. Get up ass early, stuff turkey and get it in the oven (check)
2. Try not to screw it up (tbd)
3. Bake sweet potato biscuits
4. Shower (Hopefully Ryan arrives around this point and starts helping!)
5. Banish Olivia to the back yard
6. Put out appetizers/wine
7. Set up buffet area and clean kitchen
8. Fill glasses with ice
9. Eat
10. Clean
11. Go to work

A break from our regularly scheduled T'giving programming...

What the feck, GWB?

(OK, not really Bush, but the First Lady's handlers.)

In other news, Happy Thanksgiving! I'll have my full report later.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Must.Learn.To.Read.Directions.

The latest installment in what I'll now call the "What the feck was I thinking?!?!" series.

I always hear you're supposed to actually READ the recipe before beginning to cook. And I swear, I think I read it. But truth-be-told, I probably only skim it to make sure I can, in fact, tackle it.

Sure enough, about halfway into preparing the stuffing this afternoon, I realized I missed a crucial step and proceeded to hurriedly un-mix my stuffing. (Yea, this is not really possible. Humor me.)

Also, I totally mis-read (probably didn't read) the brining directions. So that set me back a few hours (and I was late to work).

I swear I'm a good cook. I just get ahead of myself (all the time) sometimes.

Anyway, I'm about to head home and finish up the brining of the turkey and prep the sweet potato biscuits for baking tomorrow morning. Wish me luck.

Tuesday
1. Set the table (check)
2. Do last-minute shopping (check)
3. Make seating assignments (check)

Wednesday
1. Brine the turkey (kinda/sorta check)
2. Prepare wet and dry ingredients for stuffing and refrigerate (check — after a struggle)
3. Make pumpkin pies and put in cool place (check)
4. Make appetizer tray and refrigerate (check)
5. Prepare biscuit dough, wrap and refrigerate (almost)
6. (add) Clean the rest of the house, including guest bathroom and make sign reminding guests to jiggle the handle (check!)

Thursday
1a. Get up ass early and immediately turn off the heat in the house
1b. Get up ass early, stuff turkey and get it in the oven
2. Try not to screw it up
3. Bake sweet potato biscuits
4. Shower (Hopefully Ryan arrives around this point and starts helping!)
5. Banish Olivia to the back yard
6. Put out appetizers/wine
7. Set up buffet area and clean kitchen
8. Fill glasses with ice
9. Eat
10. Clean
11. Go to work

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What do you get when you combine a pinecone sale and a newlywed with lots of leftover paper?


Complete and utter over-the-top-ness.

In my defense, I have some picky friends who would like to sit next to so-and-so and not next to another so-and-so. And since my table is a tight squeeze, I wanted to make sure the guys were on the corners and had plenty of elbow-room. I figured it was nicer to do this instead of being bossy. (Now I'm just covertly bossy.)

Besides it took about five minutes and the leftover pine cones went into my trifle bowl to make an excellent (and yummy smelling) centerpiece on the coffee table where I'm serving the appetizers.

See what you folks are missing in Arkansas?

Tuesday
1. Set the table (check)
2. Do last-minute shopping (check)
3. Make seating assignments (check)

Wednesday
1. Brine the turkey
2. Prepare wet and dry ingredients and refrigerate
3. Make pumpkin pies and put in cool place
4. Make appetizer tray and refrigerate
5. Prepare biscuit dough, wrap and refrigerate
6. (add) Clean the rest of the house, including guest bathroom and make sign reminding guests to jiggle the handle

Thursday
1a. Get up ass early and immediately turn off the heat in the house
1b. Get up ass early, stuff turkey and get it in the oven
2. Try not to screw it up
3. Bake sweet potato biscuits
4. Shower (Hopefully Ryan arrives around this point and starts helping!)
5. Banish Olivia to the back yard
6. Put out appetizers/wine
7. Set up buffet area and clean kitchen
8. Fill glasses with ice
9. Eat
10. Clean
11. Go to work

Thanksgiving To-Dos


Tuesday
1. Set the table (check)
2. Do last-minute shopping
3. Make seating assignments

Wednesday
1. Brine the turkey
2. Prepare wet and dry ingredients and refrigerate
3. Make pumpkin pies and put in cool place
4. Make appetizer tray and refrigerate
5. Prepare biscuit dough, wrap and refrigerate
6. (add) Clean the rest of the house, including guest bathroom and make sign reminding guests to jiggle the handle

Thursday
1a. Get up ass early and immediately turn off the heat in the house
1b. Get up ass early, stuff turkey and get it in the oven
2. Try not to screw it up
3. Bake sweet potato biscuits
4. Shower (Hopefully Ryan arrives around this point and starts helping!)
5. Banish Olivia to the back yard
6. Put out appetizers/wine
7. Set up buffet area and clean kitchen
8. Fill glasses with ice
9. Eat
10. Clean
11. Go to work

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Clothing Ban?

I'm thinking of banning myself from purchasing clothing for... I don't know how long.

My friend says I wouldn't last two hours.

The thing is -- I never need to do laundry. I've finally gotten to a place where I can reasonably wear whatever is in my closet. I'm no longer trendy and I have a wardrobe from skinny to roomy. I can where whatever I want to work -- including sweats on Sundays. So why would I need to purchase clothes except for a pick-me-up?

Shopping for clothes drains my bank account. I earned Luxe status at Banana Republic this year, and I'm too embarrassed to tell you what that means.

So, dear readers, how long do you think I could make it? And should this include all shoes and accessories?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Menu

We're within a week of Thanksgiving. Ryan and I did the bulk of our shopping last night (what a great way to start off date night, eh?) and I'm proud of announce our menu.

Turkey
Cranberry Relish
Challah Stuffing
Salad with homemade dressing
Egg Salad
Butternut squash side
Mashed potatoes with turkey gravy
Turkey gravy
Green Beans
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Mystery Pie #1
Ice Cream and Cool whip for garnish

Many thanks to Dustin, Patty and my grandma for lending recipes. Also thanks in advance to our eight guests who are helping make this feast happen. I am spending the afternoon laundering our linens in preparation.

I'm most excited to try my hand at the turkey (my first one), the sweet potato biscuits and the pumpkin pie (instead of using evaporated milk I'm using vanilla ice cream). It could all go very, very well, or we could end up ordering pizza.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Random Thoughts from Arkansas

• This scares the shit out of me every time I open my garage door after dark:



It's not simply the SIZE of the Bethelhem star, nor is it the ugliness of the Nativity set. It's not even the fact that Thanksgiving is still more than a week away. It's just the fact that I always think there's a car with headlights on right behind me as I'm about to pull out into the road. This display has been up for at least a week, and I'm still not used to its garishness.

• I hate the holiday season. I hate gift-giving at this time. It's so expected, so coerced, so not what I need right now. I've ranted about this before, and I'm afraid my feelings have only grown more bah humbug on the topic. My poor kids are going to have miserable holidays, I know.

• On Friday, Ryan and I have a date. Now to most of the world, this isn't a big time. BUT Friday night will be the first night Ryan and I both have off that we're spending by ourselves since our wedding. The only other mutual nights off were our trip to Omaha and this past Saturday when we went to the Texas game. I think we're going to stay in and rent some movies so we can save enough money to buy Christmas/Hanukkah presents. We're so exciting.

• P.S. -- S. Of course I wouldn't have a nativity scene in front of my house. Silly girl.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Book Review: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel by David Wroblewski

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you claim to be a literature lover (not just chick lit, romance or crime novels), then you MUST read this book.

This is not a book that will leave you feeling all warm and cuddly inside, but it is a novel that will make you wish you were reading it along with your college literature class. The book is so rich in symbolism, allusion and metaphor that I highly recommend reading it with a like-minded group. You will enjoy it without delving into all of that, but I think having reading partners to bounce your ideas off of will really enhance your reading experience. (I immediately felt like calling Mrs. Stanfield after reading this book and asking her what she thought was the significance of the family surname.)

There is a Shakespearean tie-in throughout the book. If I told you which play it was, it would give the ending away, but it would definitely enrich the book and make the ending more satisfying.

View all my reviews.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I liked this book much more than The Kite Runner. I loved the wa Hosseini established each character individually before bringing them together. The author did a really good job of dropping hints throughout the book and waited a long time before tying up loose ends.

View all my reviews.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Layoffs.

I don't write much about my employment or my industry because -- well -- frankly, it's depressing.

I'm a journalist. I paid lots of money to the University of Kansas and have worked for a newspaper non-stop since I was 16 in order to hone my skills. For someone my age, I have lots of experience.

But I have no experience compared to the 16 people laid off at The Kansas City Star today. I love The Star. I learned so much there when I served as a intern three times and a staffer for about a year in the Johnson County bureau. I was able to do great things, because I worked with and for great people.

But The Star is now a shadow of its former self. Many of my mentors have been given their walking papers. Several of my former co-workers, people I've shared beers and bylines with, are also out the door. The remaining people I know are just lucky to survive the FOURTH round of terminations this year.

It's happening at smaller papers, too. The Joplin Globe laid off several members of the newsroom staff recently. And my current employer is reportedly getting ready to drop the ax for the second time since August. My co-workers are taking stock of their importance to the company and filling out applications on the side, talking about going back to school and saving what little money they can.

The talk starts to turn co-workers against each other. You start internally betting who among you will be eliminated. You make mental notes, notice when the bosses are huddling, try to figure this all out. You make lists of people who surely will be "let go" before you, then you damn yourself for thinking that maybe you'll be spared.

Because, really, what this all boils down to is this: None of us will be spared. Newspapers are on their way out. It's just a matter of time before everyone gets their daily news consumption on their BlackBerrys and iPhones. All newspapers are left to do is survive until their time has come, pick up the pieces and retrofit themselves as something new.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mr. President

For some unknown reason, I spent hours on the Newseum site to create this slideshow for posterity. This slideshow includes some of my favorite (and one not-so-favorite...let's see if you can pick it!) front pages from around the country and around the world. Enjoy!

Review: American Wife

American Wife: A Novel American Wife: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a GREAT book. Sittenfeld took a figure that is very public, but still relatively unknown, and crafted a tale so shocking, yet so believable. I especially enjoyed the first part but I also enjoyed the section on her life in the White House.

View all my reviews.


Stolen from my Internet buddy Chris Tackett who stole it from Waxy.org Links.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

What happens in the photo booth...


...doesn't stay in the photo booth.

All of the pictures from our photo booth guest book are available online on our Web site for download.

We had so much fun at our reception in Omaha, and we hope everyone did, too!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Waving the Wheat!

I'm on my couch waving the wheat for KU as the Jayhawks trounce the KSU Wildcats 31-0 in the first half. It's the first game this season I elected not to attend. Ryan asked if I was disappointed, but I chose expanding my social life and attending a party instead.

We went to a Halloween party last night in Fayetteville. I went as Sarah Palin and Ryan went as a blind referee. My costume was a hit, though I was not intoxicated enough or comfortable enough to throw out my Alaskan accent at whim. I was mostly met with boos throughout the night, but what was most interesting was the reaction from my fellow male guests. Even though I was probably the most covered-up women there, guys still found my costume attractive. I guess now I understand the GOP appeal.

I really wish my friend JT was here right now because I bet I could convince her to go with me to a certain political candidate's rally in Springfield tonight. Part of me wants to get in my car by myself and go. I know it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I also know I promised my husband dinner and a movie tonight -- which we both know is a rare event. Hopefully I'll have another chance to see this certain political candidate in person another time. He's truly changed my outlook on life and may have inspired Ryan and I to finally take the plunge in another direction.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

File This Away



I know there are a lot of Americans out there who are scared of Barack Obama. So scared that they are angry. So angry that they say prejudiced, hateful things. While I get enraged every time I hear a story of another Obama effigy hanging from a noose in the South or see a business sign saying that he is a socialist, I understand this is all rooted in fear. Naturally a lot of us are afraid of change. A lot of us are afraid to hope, for fear that we will be duped, led astray or disappointed.

In this election, it's as much about fear as it is about the economy and change.

For those who won't vote for Barack Obama for real reasons, I respect you. But he WILL become president because the majority of Americans see him as a turning point.

So please file away Obama's infomercial from last night and watch it when the anger and fear have worn off. You'll understand why scores of Americans have already voted for him and millions more will on Election Day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama's Fantasy Team

There's nothing more American than a president who loves Fantasy Football, right?

* OK, maybe a president who was a POW? All right, fine.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Blantantly Partisan Post

My friend Meghan shared this after her friend posted it first.

And yes I do realize that most of the arguments (in terms of experience) made against Sarah Palin could be made against Barack Obama, too, if you're of the Republican persuasion. But I'm not. So there.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

That just happened

Gas in Joplin, Mo.

So depressing

Rock Chalk!

>
>

Rock Chalk!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yummy

Thanksgiving Day at my house one of these delicious fall-inspired drinks is going to happen. Taste-testing anyone?

Monday, October 20, 2008

This is it, Kansas!



Today's THE day -- your last chance to register to vote in the upcoming election.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Review: Living History

Living History Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved listening to Hillary Clinton read this book. The book was excellently put together and it was interesting to listen to this only a few weeks after I listened to her husband's book. I will say I enjoyed the president's memoir more (especially the parts about his time at Oxford and talking about Vietnam), but I loved hearing both sides of the story.

View all my reviews.

Bringing Jayhawks and Tigers together?

Either Barack Obama knows a lot about college sports or his team is just really good. He made a joke about the KU-Mizzou rivalry at his rally in Kansas City yesterday.

Someone needs to send Obama a Barack Chalk Jayhawk shirt, stat.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Early Bird Special

Ryan and I are waiting to board a train for a pleasure trip to Van
Buren. We're easily the only people here between the ages of 8 and 50.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Late Night in the Phog



I can't believe it's already that time.

Re-Launch

So instead of working on thank you cards, my lastest must-read or cleaning the house, I worked on the re-launch of our home page last night.

I went for a simple design, but don't be surprised if it changes along with our life over the coming years.

Basically, www.michelle-and-ryan.com is a place to find anything and everything about us. Right now, it is fairly wedding-centric, with Web-quality versions of all of our professional pictures as well as our rehearsal dinner video. But look for a variety of content in the months and years to come.

Don't worry, our wedding Web site is not gone. Simply click on the link at the bottom of the home page, and it will take you there easy-peasy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happy Birthday/Anniversary!



Happy Birthday to one of my dearest friends, JT.

JT was the first person I met in Arkansas who seemed somewhat normal. I soon realized how wrong I was about that, but we're still friends anyway. About 10 months ago, JT left me to move to Costa Rica to pay to do something noble. I secretly hope she'll move back to Northwest Arkansas broke as hell and live with me for a while.

I love you, JT! Can't wait to see you soon!




And, to Ryan, it's been a wonderful three years since we first kissed during a really boring Sunday Night Football game. We've come a long way.

I'm it!

Audrey over at Kentiga (check it out, she's awesome) tagged me.

5 Joys
1. Cleaning -- even though I loathe to do it, once I put on my apron, slip my iPhone into the pouch and really get down to it, cleaning calms me.
2. Making decisions -- whether it's a life change or picking out the perfect present, I get a bit of an adrenaline rush.
3. A really good book. I love it when I finish a book and I can't wipe the smile off my face.
4. Long gChat conversations about everything and nothing.
5. Pizza, diet coke and a good bagel -- but not necessarily at the same time.

5 Fears
1. Being stuck. The economy is REALLY scary right now if you haven't noticed, and I'm afraid that it will keep Ryan and I in Arkansas much longer than we should be.
2. Of being too careful. Kind of related to No. 1, I'm afraid of not taking good risks that will pay off in the end. I've been talking about going back to school for years, and I just need to do it.
3. That my friends and family aren't making the right decisions. (See Joys No. 2.) OK, I don't think I know everything ALL the time, but it is hard for me to sit back and watch people be destructive.
4. That I won't be able to have children.
5. That we won't have enough money to have the family life we want.

5 Obsessions
1. Reading -- once I start a book I cannot put it down.
2. Grammar and design rules at work. I'm sure most people think I'm a total know-it-all bitch, but we have rules for a reason people!
3. My shows -- I'm embarrassed to admit how many season passes I have on our DVR and TiVo (yes we have both).
4. Getting into other people's business. :)
5. My Realies.

5 Surprising Facts
1. I am a tag virgin. This is the first time for me. (Smooches, Moth!)
2. I have never been high. (OK, this is probably not surprising.)
3. I'm a KU fan who likes football more than basketball.
4. I have never been to California or Florida.
5. I hate taking showers.

And I'm tagging...
1. Nems at Cast Sugar
2. Meghan at Wifestale
3. Jennifer at I'll Fly Away

I'd tag my sister, but I don't know if she wants all my friends reading her blog. :) So Shannon, if you're reading this, you're it!

I hate packing peanuts

These are the peanuts from THREE gifts we received from Borsheims in
the past week. Not very environmentally concious, I'd say.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

So what if Obama was an Arab?

I love Campbell Brown.

I think she says what many are thinking, and knows how to spin an issue on its head and get to the real problem.

Brown wrote a great commentary on the now-famous "Obama is an Arab and I don't trust him" comment at a McCain rally last week.



I applaud Sen. John McCain for standing up to one of his voters and correcting her, but his answer instantly left me unsettled. His answer: "No, old crazy lady, he's not an Arab. How could he be? He's a nice, decent human being!"

OK, he didn't really say that, but that's what it sounded like to me and apparently Campbell Brown.



Read it here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"My idiot friend converted to judaism and shuns me"*

Best search term. EVER.

*I have an account with statcounter.com, which tracks where my readers are from, how they get to my blog and what they do when they're there. Apparently I have a reader from Staten Island who has some issues.

::Hugs OJ::

In this age of Facebook, MySpace, gChat and more, it is certainly possible to be friends with someone you haven't seen in years. Conversations are had through a few quick clicks of the keyboard. Smiles are conveyed with punctuation.

But is it possible that some of your best friends are girls you have never met?

Well, now I think so. So do about 100 of my closest friends.

About a year ago, I signed up for an account on a Kansas City message board. The idea was to trade wedding advice, get the dish on the best and worst vendors and complain about all the problems that come with planning the most important day of your life.

It started out simply enough. I would go days without checking in. I had no idea who these people were (save for one who I went to college with). But, very quickly, I knew everything about them and found myself confiding in them, even relying on them.

As a group, we have raised money for children in need during the holidays. We have celebrated weddings and births. Shared miscarriages and divorces. Helped each other lose weight, conquer a fear, laugh at themselves.

But nothing could have prepared us for this.

Today, we mourn the death of Orangina's sweet husband Robbie. OJ is now a widow at 24, something that no one, no one, should ever have to understand.

It's true that no one but us understands the connection that we have. Ryan simply calls them the "Realies," a nickname derived from our Web address, the nearest thing to a hangout that we have. He's even met a few at a Royals game.

But I think he finally got it this morning as he watched me cry about a girl I have never even met.

So from Snookies0608 to Orangina: ::HUGS::

At last...our wedding video

Ryan and I just returned from Omaha from the grand finale of our wedding celebration. We had a great time and I met some new friends and got to know others better.

We wanted to wait until after we returned to share our wedding highlights video with the World Wide Web. So, here it is.

I promise, I am almost done sharing wedding crap with you all.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seriously.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Together again

Friday, October 10, 2008

Penguins!!!!

Shades of a Man

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Boy, am I hungry...



I don't know if I'm going to make it this year.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (imagine that being said in a voice out of an old horror flick, and you get the point), began at sundown tonight. This is the my third year fasting, but my first when I didn't take the proper precautions (i.e. eating so much food that I pass out and wake up only hours before I can eat again).

You see, Ryan and I are driving to Omaha tomorrow for break fast and for our reception. Because of that, I was running around like a mad woman all day getting ready, leaving me little time for eating. I had a decent lunch (I cooked spinach and cheese calzones this morning), but after that it got a little sketchy. I managed to remember to eat some chocolate chip cookies (for blood sugar purposes of course) about 3 p.m. Then, as I was racing to Kol Nidre services, I peeled an orange, getting juice all over my shirt, and stuffed a Sonic Junior Burger down my throat with some water.

I can't with a straight face say I must eat, so I suppose I will suffer through the seven-hour car trip with my book and Ryan to keep my mind distracted from what my stomach is screaming.

For those of you who are read this by e-mail, I have changed your settings so that you only get a preview in your e-mail. My mother-in-law pointed out that those of you who read my blog exclusively via your inbox often miss out on videos and photos that I post.

So, sorry for the inconvenience, but you're going to have to do a little work to read this from now on.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

'That One'

I normally don't like to get into "gotcha" journalism, but really, McCain? You called your opponent "that one"?



It's looking more and more clear that Barack Obama will become our president, and more and more Americans believe he's ready. (A poll taken of independent voters after the debate actually showed Americans believe Obama would be a better leader, a big change from just a few weeks ago.)

And just because this is probably the funniest thing I've seen in a while:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

It's not too late!

Today is the deadline to register to vote in the November election in Arkansas. You must either postmark your registration form today or register in person. The form can be downloaded here.

If you're in Kansas, you still have until Oct. 20 to register in Kansas. Go to maps.google.com/vote if you are unsure of your deadline.



If you'd like to share this video (and you SHOULD!), click here to go to YouTube in order to pass it on.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Review: The Audacity of Hope

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama

My review

rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
The book wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be, but it still made a good read. I would definitely recommend the chapters on faith and family (the last two parts of the book) to anyone -- conservative, liberal or somewhere in between. Obama's views on the topic are so common sense, so base, that it's almost unfortunate how revolutionary they seem in today's society.

View all my reviews.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Great Bend = Heart = Home

I sit here at 11 p.m. Friday (that's 3 a.m. in grandma time) at a computer desk on Monroe Street in Great Bend, Kan.




The computer desk is one of the few modern conveniences of this house my grandparents first purchased two generations ago. Above the desk hangs an art print that features farm implements, an old barn and a windmill -- a perfect contrast to the newfangled technology. The computer is a desktop, mind you, with a loud keyboard, obtrusive speakers and a huge CPU. Someone has taped the top of an e-mail exchange between my mother and grandma -- just in case the addresses are forgotten I'm sure. Behind the computer monitor, my grandfather's "Internet for Senior Citizens" diploma hangs, recently covered up by a laminated copy of his funeral program.


The computer desk has a single drawer that I love pawing through. My grandma has no secrets, I've discerned over the years, but I still take great delight unearthing benign tidbits of her:




  • Even though she uses Microsoft Outlook, she obviously has little faith in its contact list. She rips the top inch of e-mails in order to keep the address for her relatives. Some of these scraps of paper date back to 2005, which is like 1968 in Internet years.


  • As if those scraps weren't enough, the drawer and desktop are littered with napkins from a host of occasions and holidays, most with e-mail addresses meticulously copied onto them. On her desk alone, there are napkins for St. Patrick's Day, Easter, autumn, graduation and spring. Apparently only pretty napkins are allowed near the computer. The Bounty ones (likely a generic brand actually) are relegated to the kitchen table.


  • Other relics from our recent past include a filofax, a magnifying glass, a dainty watch and enough phone books to surely locate a number for anyone in Barton County if she doesn't already have their e-mail written down on a napkin.

After a long day at my grandmother's, I love sitting in this chair and noticing details that could be recent or touches of my grandparents' from decades past. The window treatments next to me are pinned shut to keep the light out. Nearby, a flashlight rests on the floor, propped up against the wall. I like to imagine that my grandma pinned the drapes shut 20 years ago so I could see the television more clearly and that flashlight might have dropped from the nearby buffet six months ago when grandpa was fumbling around for his glasses.


These bits are pieces of my grandparents, reminders that no matter what religion you practice or what your last name is, parts of you will always be the same. No matter how much time passes, with seasons marked by napkins, a grandparent is your time capsule.




Review: What the Dead Know

What the Dead Know: A Novel What the Dead Know: A Novel by Laura Lippman

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Hmmm, I'm not so much into mysteries, but I got pulled in by the promise that this book had more depth. It proved to have plenty of depth, but I found the twists, turns, whodunit, could it bes? a lot more gratifying than the actual ending.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Great Schlep



I had heard about The Great Schlep all week but I still hadn't seen it until my sister-in-law passed it along (thanks, Erin!). This has got to be one of the funniest things I have seen in a while.

I'm excited about the debate tonight, though I'll be working. Hopefully my boss will let me control the work TV (usually it's on football).

The debate does worry me, however. I don't understand why journalists in the traditional and nontraditional media have decided to play into the McCain camp's game. The expectations for Sarah Palin are SO LOW that if she gives one intelligent answer -- which I'm 100 percent sure she will -- she will come out a winner. McCain strategists are smart. They know this.

Oh well. At least Sarah Silverman is good for a few laughs.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Good-Bye Baleboosteh Bible


Dear Jewish Living,

I, for one, am so sad to see you go. I was actually thinking about buying subscriptions to you for all my Jewish gal pals, but I see I am too late.

I was one of your first subscribers when you opened shop last year and I looked forward to your bimonthly issues. Now I wish I had saved them all. I will miss your kosher recipes, smart articles on everything from mikvah use to whether tattoos were kosher.

It's been a good 10 months.

Signed,
Michelle

P.S. So, um, could you not run that credit card for my next two years' subscriptions? Thanks.

Monday, September 29, 2008

L'Shana Tovah!


Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown tonight. Ryan and I wish everyone a happy, healthy new year.

I just got a call that Ryan and I have been chosen to do an aliyah during tomorrow's Rosh Hashanah service in honor of our marriage and my conversion. It's a big honor and hopefully I'll do everyone proud. I will have to practice tonight before watching The Hills.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Schooners All Around!


And, just in case you didn't get enough of us the first time, click here for some more lovely pictures from our wedding day on our photographers' blog.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Youth Fest at the Amp

Anna and I spent part of our day volunteering in the hot sun at Youth Fest, a fundraiser for Youthbridge. This was much more my speed after last night's foray at Bikes, Blues & BBQ. That involved loud music, rude people and semi-nudity. I also got pelted in the head with Guiness beads and saw a girl throw up in her beer. Lovely.

So, yes, after that, playing bean toss with a bunch of kids and doling out prizes was much more down to my tempo. It didn't hurt that our shift followed with Cold Stone Creamery (mmm Cheesecake Fantasy) and a quick trip to the mall, where I bought Ryan more things than I bought myself. Weird.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Book Review

Everyone Worth Knowing Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book. The heroine is very relatable and the love interest is almost too-perfect, but charming nonetheless. I put down this book and my heart was literally soaring and I had tears in my eyes. It's been a while since I could give such a good review to a book, especially one that is easily identified as chick lit.

It's been close to three years since I read The Devil Wears Prada, but I think this book clearly matches up.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Can't. Stop. Looking.

at my wedding pictures!



The first post of several to come is up on my photographers' blog. Take a look and tell Eric and Neal how fab and talented they are.