Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ray. From the Beginning.

I was originally going to call this post, "The boy deserves a post." But changed my mind. Because:
A: It wasn't very clever.
B: I so often find myself being much more sappy when he's gone, i.e. this post.

Meet Ray.
Isn't he handsome? :)
Age: 21
Religion: Lover of Jesus
Major: Business Management
Profession: SIU Men's Basketball Manager/Boyfriend of Stephanie 

I was always against those super fast relationships where you "fall in love" in like a month of dating, and talk about the future, and rush into everything, simply because you are in complete and total puppy love. 

But then, Ray came into the picture. 

When I met him last Spring at a brunch and found out he and I were moving next door to each other come June, I had no idea that I was actually talking to the man who would complete steal my heart.

First thoughts of him:
Attractive: Yes. 
Charming: Yes. 
That special something: Yes. Hearing him talk about coaching kid's basketball at the SIU summer camps totally melted my heart. But there was no way I was telling him that!

Fast forward to the summer. 

We moved in on the same day, and my friend Justin and I helped him unload his U-hall. 
July came and rolled around with me only seeing him once as he was walking. I ended up giving him a ride.
August: He was walking by outside, and I invited him in to watch Castle with a bunch of us. 

It has been history in the making ever since. 

From August until October I was so blind to the idea that maybe this guy liked me. I somehow never noticed the fact that he as ALWAYS over here. Texted me quite often. Helped me beyond measure getting ready for homecoming. Came over to sit by me at every football game. You know? Mega signs that should say, "Hey, dummy. This guy is interested." 

It wasn't until right before homecoming weekend that I thought, "Hmm. There might be something here." Thanks to Steve S., five of us ended up at a haunted house. The max to go in at a time was three. Let's think this through. There was no way in HECK i was going in alone. That left me with Stevie Wonder leading the way and Ray protecting me from any lurking monsters. It was while inside that the little billboard popped up. Ray wasn't just protecting me from monsters. Ray was protecting me from monsters. I had this gut wrenching moment of "I'm safe." 

And what did I do? I tried to ignore it. 

Lot's of other things happened in the coming weeks that led to a roller coster of emotions. The return of a summer fling. The loss of homecoming queen. Figuring out that I chased douchebags. A whole lot of mess.

But then on October 29th. My life changed.
I had decided that week that I was done chasing. From now on, I was earnestly giving my love life to Jesus. I was never going to find "the one" if I was the one looking. Because I was looking out of fear. Fear that I would never have someone to truly love me. So I'd try every option until finally something clicked. 

I digress. October 29th. 

I am sitting at work and this random guy leaves his number on the counter for me. Now take note, this has never, ever happened in my life. I was in complete and total shock. So when Ray came to visit me at work, I shared this information. Still ignoring the ever growing billboard that says, "Moron. Take a look at this guy!" 

Little did I know that this tidbit of information would be the pushing point for Ray to ask me out. 
My response: Oh man. I'm really sorry, Ray. But I can't. I have this tendency to chase douchebags. And I really just need some time to not be a chaser. Someday someone is going to love me because I'm crazy. Not in spite of it. 
(Yes. I know. AWFUL response.... But I was coming off the whole roller coaster remember?)

His response: *grabs hands, gives light squeeze* You, are not crazy. You're emotionally expressive. 

Little did I know at that moment when my heart began to fall, it wouldn't stop. 

Now obviously, since that moment things have changed. Ray and I proceeded to spend pretty much every day together, and it was after a few weeks, the 16th of November, that we decided to pick a date that we started "dating." (Our anniversary is the 5th, by the way. It has a super sappy story why too, just in case you are wondering.) 

And boy am I ever so glad that it happened. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Not-So-Sweet Potatoes: Conquering the Crock Pot

This past semester was extremely, extremely busy and was not really scheduled in a way that provided with me with the opportunity to cook. That left me constantly eating out, grabbing and going, snacking and munching, thus, in turn, a whole lot more broke and a little pudgier. Mega sad.

Therefore, I decided 2012 was going to be the start of my transition into actual adulthood. Not young adulthood, but actual be responsible, think long term, don't be a college kid moron, adulthood.

This began with my freezer.

 From lots of cut up vegetables to meats I am terrified to cook, it is starting to be a bit ridiculous. I often take one look inside at what could be a real meal, put my head down, and call 549-5326 (...That's Quatros for you non-Carbondalites.)

I digress.

I felt that in order to use up what I actually had, I had to know what I actually had. Makes sense, right?
This resulted in all of the food being laid out on my table as I created a list of everything there. What I discovered is that there is real potential here. Lots of meat. Lots of veggies. And an assortment of high-processed boxed foods belonging to my roommate. (Thankfully, I also decided to begin avoiding this type of monstrosity we so often shove into our bodies, so there was no problem in simply putting them back in the freezer.)

This led to the need for a plan. I've got my list of potential ingredients, a laptop, and little time with the up and coming book rush season at 710 Bookstore.

I glanced over my list and saw a (2) next to the word "roast." That meant, you guessed it. It was time to make my first roast. However, I don't have the time to slave of preparing a roast.  I needed something quick and easy. Easy? What word equates with that? Crockpot. Now to everyone else, this machine is a God-send. To me, it was terrifying and I have successfully avoided this device for almost two years of living on my own. Ridiculous. I know.

Fast forward through a bunch of online researching on Pinterest and food websites (procrastinating on the inevitable) and I finally settled on a plan.

Ingredients: 1/2 of a roast, sweet potatoes, celery, red pepper, onions, and chicken gravy. (Granny always used chicken gravy, and it's what I had.)

I started with what seemed the most simple. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes. Let me just say, that name is a fallacy. These damn things were the devil! I about gave up at the peeling stage. Let alone having to do the actually cutting. I ended up with a wicked cut on my thumb. And a sore palm from pushing the machete through the potato. Evil.

Note the assortment of knives it took. 
However, after the twenty minutes of screaming and wanting to chuck the vegetable through the window, I finally had them cut up. All that was left was putting the meal together. I mixed in all my ingredients, clicked the crockpot on, and left for work.

That evening I entered my apartment to the delicious, non-burnt smell, of a roast.

The meat was literally falling off the bone! 
I have to admit, it was quite tasty! And very exhilarating! It must have caused me to overcome my fear of the crockpot, because once the dishes were done, I immediately refilled it with the other half of the roast, au jus, and peppers for tonight's supper. Needless to say, I can't wait to get home tonight.

I guess this path to becoming domestic woman isn't so bad...minus the not-so-sweet potatoes.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Update on "The List"

One always has the best intentions… I must admit that I have since failed at reaching my 21 goals. It was as though the second my fall semester began, my life ended. I became swamped with school and work that these seemingly easy goals became almost instantaneously unattainable.  However, I do not want to discredit the adventures I have had, so here are the goals that I have reached…

Numero Uno: Go paddle boating
2. Swim in a lake, something much larger than Cricket and Levi's Uncle Larry's pond
3. Donate to a charity regularly
4. Learn sign-language
5. Run a lap around campus (Note: My running speed will be much, much slower than what track stars such as Sarah David consider running)
6. Play/Sing in a recital hosted by my sorority, Sigma Alpha Iota
7. Host a dinner party
8. Get a tattoo
9. Travel someplace I have never been
10. Go go-karting
11. Go paitballing
12. Treat myself to a spa day
13. Watch 21 man movies (with guidance from fellas such as Mr. John Goode)
14. Be at the healthy weight for my height by the time I turn 22
15. Go to the casino (Elvis slots, baby!)
16. Paint a picture
17. Be a vegetarian for a month
18. Read 10 classic novels
19. Have better posture (not exactly a check-off-the-list kind of thing, more gradually observable...)
20. Make a scrapbook
21. Try something new. While that includes most of the aforementioned items, I want to leave this one open-ended.

The ones that I have met though are:
#3 Donate to a charity regularly: (sort of) I began the summer strong by donating monthly to Tim and Elizabeth Harrison in Kenya, but this semester was met with some tough times financially and quite an adjustment for me. I am much more money conscious now, however, and am planning on starting again this month. To be honest, writing the check to them made my bill-paying day enjoyable.

Card from Tim and Elizabeth 
#10 Go go-karting: I have to admit that this day was one of the best I have ever had. During one trip up north, I convinced my Uncle Pete to take me go-karting. When I was younger, he lived in Arizona, and it hasn’t been until the past few years that we have gotten really close. So we woke up early, got some breakfast, and hit the track at Haunted Trails in Joliet. Through my adventure (and multiple laps around their tiny track) I was reassured that I was meant to be a racecar driver. Someday oh someday, a girl can only dream…

About to dominate. 

Uncle Pete, preparing to lose!
#16 Paint a picture: This one kinda-sorta happened. I made a picture out of paint on a canvas with the help of none other than AP and AO. (God love Pinterest for Christmas ideas!) And I also did modpodge on canvases for my mom and Ray, but I have yet to complete a full on painting done entirely by me and solely from paint. I’ll give myself partial credit on this one though…

AP and I having some painting fun!

Half finished product. I later added AO's
handprints as red ornaments.

Lorran holding the picture I made for him
Picture on canvas for my Mama
As for the rest of my goals? I am still piddlying around on a few. The man movie list is still being chipped away at, my dinner party is something I began to take a step towards, as is the eating healthier (including vegetarianism…) I now have paints, and should perhaps consider actually using them to paint something more than just the modpodge.

The year is new though, and I still have about 5 months left. Let’s see if this spring semester permits me any more time : ) 

Should have posted this one in August...

It's a little late, but it finally made it out of my draft box!

(08/11) I've actually been impressed with my efforts to work on my "bucket" list. Although there are a few that I am no where near starting, such as the month as a vegetarian, I have been making a conscious effort to complete at least some of the items on my list. I have also been working on some of the biggies. I have watched a few man movies which I will describe in the future and I carry a classic novel with me, in hope that if it is in my bag I will actually open it. However, don't hold your breath on that one being marked off soon. Instead, let me walk you through the list items I have recently completed!

Number one on my list was to go paddle boating. Thanks to Caitlyn, Kelly, and Natalie, this one is now complete! The girls and I decided to hit Campus Lake at SIU after church last week. Much to my surprise, renting paddle boats and canoes is free. How I have been at SIU for three years and have been unaware of this, I will never know. But, now that I do know this, I am completely down for any sporadic lake adventures that any of my friends want to go on. We rented the paddle boats and began our adventure around the lake. Contrary to any misconstrued ideas, paddle boats do not move quickly with four people on them. My goal of going around the entire lake was quickly cut short after we paddled our way back to shore after an hour of sweat, sun, and stinky-ness.

Me, Nat, Kell, and Caitlyn
Showing you that I really am in a lake
This exciting adventure, however, got me super excited about Campus Lake, so the next day Caitlyn, Matt, Skylar, and I hit the water. This time: A canoe! I found this one to be much, MUCH more terrifying than the first. Let me set it up for you. I was in front of Canoe A, in the non-steering seat. Skylar was in the rear being lead direction/paddler. Caitlyn had my seat in Canoe B while Matt took the strong seat. All was well until Matt and Skylar decided it would be AWESOME to switch canoes. If you recall from my previous blog, I can't really swim in a body of water in which I can't touch ground. So here we are, middle of the lake, and the two nimrods in the rear are switching canoes. Add my inability to swim with the panic that comes from watching my Droid wiggle around in the bottom of the canoe and I am pretty sure it resulted in what would be called "hyperventilation." The rest of the trip was filled with Matt shaking the boat, running it into the other canoe, Sklyar and Matt switching back, Caitlyn and Skylar switching, and Stephanie in an all around tizzy. However, once the canoe was safely ashore I was confident that I had a most splendid time and would certainly like to go again.

Needless to say, I am mega thankful for Caitlyn who has been an instigator in my trying of new things. <3

Adventure #2: Canoeing!

There were many moments I wished I was closer to that dock.
Gumper. He followed us around most of the day.