Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chicago Dog

Well, our visit to Chicago was interesting. We went to see Greg's parents, sister (and family), and Grandma. But probably the most exciting news is that we actually came home with...wait for it... A DOG! Yup, I own a dog!
We got into Chicago on Saturday and Greg's parents picked us up. They recently got a Cav-Poo (Cavelier King and Poodle mix) puppy about two weeks ago. On the way home Greg's mom suggested we stop in at the place where they got their dog so we could check out all the doggies. We agreed and went in. I didn't see them right away, but on the second pass through I noticed some mini- Dachshund puppies down on the bottom row. Inside was a reddish brown girl and a black and tan mixed boy sleeping on one another. We asked to hold one and they brought us the boy. Oh boy... It was downhill from there! We left the place and went on with our visit. We kept bringing him up though and by Sunday we were running through the logistics of how we could get him and take him back to Charlotte with us. Come Monday morning, we had a plan in place. We had contacted the puppy place and gotten them to hold the dog for us. We contacted US Air and paid the animal fee ($100) to transport him. We made an appointment at the vet to get him checked out and get "health papers" in case they asked for them. Monday morning right after the puppy place opened we were there to get our boy. We have named him Clyde- which was Greg's idea. When we held him Saturday, he said "He looks like a Clyde", and we haven't come up with anything we liked more, so I think that's his name! He is such a good pup. He slept the entire way home on the plane and no one even knew he was there. When we got him home, he scampered all around checking everything out. He hasn't had any accidents yet, he's successfully "gone" outside 4 times so far. He whines some when you put him in his crate, but otherwise he's soooo good! I can't believe we actually did this! But I definitely love him already.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2009 Highlights

This is a little late now since we're almost a month into 2010, but I wanted to recap on some of the highlights of 2009 since I fear I'll mainly remember it as being sucktastic. Here's some good memories from 09.

I went to Atlanta for the first time (other than changing planes at ATL) in February to see my friend Melissa. She was my little sister in Kappa Delta at UNH. We reconnected in 08 and her husband is also a pilot (at ASA). I had some fun visits with her in 09, one in ATL where we she showed me around, and she was here in Charlotte when she was on business and we got together.

Our trip to Knoxville for my friend Todd's wedding. I think this is one of the only trips Greg and I took together aside from my brother's wedding. Knoxville wasn't the most exciting city ever, but it was still fun to get away.

My trip to DC for training in March. The training itself was eh... but I love being up there seeing people and places. I miss the area. I made a couple new friends in class that I keep in touch with on Facebook and work email. I also saw old friends Kim, Lilla, Mary, Julie, Keely, and Alice while up there. I ate at old favorites Matchbox (best sliders and pizza EVER) and Carlyle Cafe. Hung out in Arlington, Shirlington, and the China Town area of DC, and toured the Tidal Basin right when the cherry blossoms were coming out- good timing!

Melanie and Benji's visit in April. We went to a winery, did the Segway scooter tour of Latta Plantation, went to the US National Whitewater Center, and generally had a great time with them.

Joining the Thursday night running group. I have to give Gibson all the credit on this one. We became friends at work in the spring and he heard I was into running and convinced me to go to this group. I have gained all my closest friends in Charlotte from this group, and it's also been a big motivator to keep me running/working out, so that's been awesome too. Meeting my great circle of friends was probably the best part of 2009.

Ashley's (my brother's wife) wedding shower and bachelorette party weekend in NJ/Philly in July.

It was great in large part due to the fact that I took the trip with my mom and we love traveling together. We flew to Philly together, rented a car and stayed together in NJ. The weather for the shower was beautiful and we had it outside at Ashley's friend's house. The bachelorette party out in Philly was also a great time. My mom and I both got completely sloshed and I'll always remember her face-down on the bed passed out as soon as we got back to our room! haha!

My visit to NH for Alyshia's baby shower and to see one of my best friend's Jen. I also saw a bunch of old friends at the shower and two of Jen's siblings and their spouses. I bonded with Jen's two year old, we went to the beach, went to the movies, and had a great visit.

Visits with my parents in Charlotte and in Hilton Head. We had quite a few in 09. One weekend they came to Charlotte with our old friends the Shumways and had quite a great time touring Charlotte all together. I also enjoyed all my visits to Hilton Head (golfing, walking on the beach, going to the outlets, going out to eat with my parents, etc...) and hope to see them even more in 2010.

I've mentioned in previous posts, but Halloween, the office Christmas party, Charlotte Wine Fest, and all my fun get togethers with friends over the year.

Finally made it to a Charlotte Knights game over the summer, something else I'd wanted to do since moving here. It was a lot of fun!

Discovered McAlpine Greenway for biking and running.

Reading on the deck. One of my favorite things to do in warm weather.

My brother's wedding in September. The entire weekend was fun, and I'm so happy for him! It was also great seeing all the friends and family that came and being a bridesmaid.

Brad and Kelly getting engaged and being asked to be in their wedding! I'm quite excited for the big event!

-Lifehouse at Speed Street with Kim (it was free too which was a huge bonus!)
-Fleetwood Mac (with my parents and the Shumways on the weekend just mentioned)
-Coldplay with Becky in August. SO AWESOME!

-Pete Yorn with Sarah. So glad I finally got to see him. I've been a fan for a while now. Found out about it at the last minute and was psyched I made it.

Date nights, Costco outings, days spent together, and cozy nights in with Greg. We had a rough year, but I appreciate all the time we did have together and we tried to make the most of it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's about time!

Yay, my Northface jacket FINALLY came today!! It's a long story, but my brother had ordered me one for Christmas and it was the wrong style, so I went into a lengthly fiasco of returning and reordering the new jacket and the whole process took more than a month.
Here I am in the new jacket... :)

Vegetarian Cooking

Greg and I usually eat mainly vegetarian food at home. He's done a lot of thinking and research on the subject and found it to make a lot of sense, as do I. He's read almost every book by Ray Kurzweil and in some of his recent books he talks a lot about diet and nutrition. Vegetarian eating makes a lot of sense from the standpoint of eliminating the middle animal and just consuming the veggies directly instead of going through animals. Also, Greg is a big animal lover and has taken the time to face the truth about what it means to actually eat animals, something which I (and probably a lot of people), try not to think about as we chow down on burgers. Greg's dad had triple by-pass surgery two years ago, and I think it was also a wake-up call for Greg that he could do some serious damage if he ate nothing but unhealthy greasy meaty food. All bad cholesterol does come from animal products, so eliminating a lot of that will obviously help.
I'm lucky in that my mother started out as a Home Ec teacher (she's now a Human Resources director, she changed fields a while back). She had a great understanding of nutrition and I was brought up always eating the "four food groups". We didn't keep sugary cereal in the house (I was always psyched to go to my cousins or neighbors and see Lucky Charms- marshmallows for breakfast?? What a concept!!), and I have always eaten and liked fruits and veggies, whole grain bread, and generally healthy stuff. I'm actually really proud of Greg for coming to this realization of healthy eating on his own, because his parents are not very healthy eaters and he certainly wasn't brought up to be.
As I said before, I still eat meat. I feel like it would be tough for me to completely eliminate it because I like a lot of variety in my diet and from time to time I feel like eating chicken, steak, or fish. I don't eat a lot of meat though, and at home I've taken to mainly cooking vegetarian for us. I also find myself picking the vegetarian option if I'm on the fence sometimes between that and something non-vegetarian when out to eat. I find vegetarian cuisine pretty interesting and there's almost an element of creativity there, because you kind of get resourceful when creating entrees with no meat. There's this stuff that's like ground hamburger meat and I often get that and use it in tacos or shepherds pie. I also like to use Tempeh in asian dishes like lettuce wraps, cooked with soy sauce, ginger, and carrots.
I love The Moosewood cookbook. I stole my mom's copy of it about a year ago and don't plan on returning it! It is mainly a "healthy" low-fat cookbook, but it has a ton of vegetarian recipes in it. With most of my recipe cooking I don't follow them exactly. I substitute ingredients I have and/or things that sound more appealing to me. Last night I made Greg and I this for dinner (the picture I found shows stuffed pepper as well as zucchini, but I just made stuffed zucchini):

Mushroom-and-Spinach Stuffed Zucchini
5 small zucchini
1/2 large onion, minced
3 garlic cloves minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups chopped portabella mushrooms
1 tsp dried dill
1 tbsp dry sherry
2 tsp soy sauce
5 oz Spinach
1 cup cooked brown rice
Salt and ground black pepper
3/4 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup grated fontina cheese

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise and, using a small spoon, scoop out the insides leave a canoe-shaped shell. Set aside.
In a skillet, saute the onions, garlic, and salt in the oil on low heat, stirring often, until the onions soften. Add the mushrooms, dill, sherry, and soy sauce and cook for about 5 more minutes. When the mushrooms are just tender, remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. While the mushrooms are cooking, rinse and stem the spinach. In a saucepan, steam the spinach leaves in enough water to cover until wilted but still bright green. Drain and add it to the sauteed vegetables. Stir in the rice and add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the tomato juice evenly around the bottom of an 9×12 inch glass baking dish. Distribute the filling between the zucchini boats. Sprinkle on the grated cheese, cover the pan tightly with foil, and bake for about 30 minutes, until the zucchini are tender and easily pierced with a fork.
Uncover and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the tops are browned.

I used basil instead of dill (I wanted to make it more Italian), Kashi rice instead of brown, regular tomato sauce instead of soup, and Italian shredded cheese instead of Fontina. It was very yummy :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The rest of my long weekend was great. I went to see "Leap Year" with Josie Saturday night. I was really in the mood for a chick flick and it did the job. It was very predictable, but cute. I got to have movie popcorn (one of my favorite foods)! Sunday I met up with Sarah at Starbucks/Barnes and Noble to have coffee and catch up. I got my standard Skinny Vanilla Latte and we sat and chatted for a while. She filled me in on how her date night went. They went out in Plaza Midwood to dinner and then to a bar after. Kinda sounded similar to mine and Greg's first date actually. I think they like each other and that this has potential. I'm hopeful for her. After our coffee we scoped out the music section of B & N then books. I got the book Freakonomics. I've been interested in reading it for a while and last week at Kelly's brunch people were talking about it and I got more intrigued. I'm about 30 pages in and it is interesting. Definitely up my alley, since I was a Sociology major and it's about society and explanations of things like cheating, crime, etc... I figure I'll read it on the plane this weekend when we go to Chicago.
On my LOVELY Monday off (yes, I was quite psyched to have a MONDAY off!), I went for a morning run with Josie. We ran for about 40 minutes. It was a good run, but it was kind of wet out.
I met Kelly for lunch at 300 East.
I had the crab cake salad- so good! After lunch we went over to Paper Skyscraper to browse. I got some chocolates for Greg's parents since we'll be seeing them this weekend. Also a funny book called "Breaking Bad News with Baby Animals" for my friend Lilla. I have kind of a silly sense of humor. It's basically a book of pictures of baby animals and each has a funny caption like a baby duck with "You were adopted", or a puppy with "I'm a registered sex offender".
For dinner we met up with my friend Kim and her boyfriend Josh in Ballantyne at an Asian place called Jade. Kim works with me and Josh just moved in with her a couple months ago. They are a cute couple. I think most of the couples we hang out with kind of mirror Greg and I in that the guys are quieter than the girls. The girls are the driving social force of the couples. Anyway, dinner was good. Greg and Kim both had pad Thai and Josh had sesame chicken. My chicken teriaki was pretty good and I had enough left over to put on a salad for lunch today. Score!
Greg spent the day today hitting the pavement and visiting a bunch of airports and companies to see if he could get any leads on flying jobs. He's done this a bunch of times since getting furloughed, but hadn't been out to do it in a while. He really didn't get any significant leads, but I think it helped his morale to know he was out there trying. He still thinks he may try to flight instruct again. He has a strong desire to be around aviation in some capacity, so I think it's a good idea.
The upcoming weeks are going to be very busy. We are heading to Chicago to see Greg's family this weekend, then I'm going to northern VA for training for the first two weeks of February. I'm looking forward to it all, but I think it's going to cause a bunch of stress for me at work before and after. I have a feeling work is going to pile up while I'm out. I think I need some time away from the office so it should be worth it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I finally got my butt back on the road again again went to my Thursday night running group for the first time in a while. I probably ran about 3 1/4 miles and walked about 3/4 of a mile of the 4 mile run. It was ROUGH after not running much in the last month or so. I found myself cursing the damn Christmas cookies at various points throughout the run! My body was like "hey, remember how we used to go home and sit on the couch with the WARM blanket? Isn't that more fun than this??" I did agree that being on the couch with the warm blanket sounded appealing, but pushed on. Gibson and Josie ran with me and wouldn't let me quit. I know I slowed them down and appreciate that they stayed with me and encourgaged me. Anyway, I completed the run, even if I was pathetic, and I'm glad to have broken the ice and gotten back to it. I just know it's going to be a while before I'm back to where I was in the fall running 4 miles no problem a couple times a week.
Week two of being a "supervisor" went better than week one. I feel like my initial panic has subsided and I'm getting used to things. I think I've done a pretty good job taking initiative and knocking out all the tasks that have come up and I hope my boss and the other supervisors are impressed. I don't know if doing this job will pay off or not, but I feel like any experience like this is worth having, even if it's uncomfortable.
Even so, I was happy to meet Sarah and Gibson for drinks at the Dean and Deluca Wine Bar after work last night to relax and toast the week being over. We found a nice bottle of Syrah and shared a goat cheese and sundried tomato on toast appetizer and talked for a couple hours. I'm hoping they both find people to fall in love with this year. Sarah has a date tonight and Gibson is actively looking for a girl. I do my best to give them advice that will help. After the wine bar we wandered over to Restoration Hardware and wandered around in there for a while. Greg and I love that store and have a lot of home furnishings from there from back when we had the money to buy fancy curtains, dining room tables, and light fixtures. My only purchase last night was two star ornaments from their after Christmas sale items totalling about $2. Oh how times have changed! haha!
We have a three-day weekend and I'm so looking forward to it. No big plans, but Greg and I are planning on doing a Costco/farmer's market trip before he goes into work today. I'll probably try and get together with some friends and hopefully I'll get motivated to clean the house some, as it's in need.
Happy three-day weekend to everyone!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Greg had a pretty big meltdown last night. I'm hoping it was partially due to him being tired from working an evening shift (til after 11pm) and then a day shift (starting at 5:45am) back to back. I think he was pretty tired and a bunch of stuff just came bubbling up to the surface. I know when I'm tired, I'm a lot more likely to be crabby and meltdown. He called his parents to talk about us going out to Chicago in a couple weeks to see them, his sister, and his grandma. Greg's grandma is turning 99 years old! Pretty crazy! The funny thing is that she's still pretty with it. She stills DRIVES, lives by herself, cooks, etc... That's nuts, isn't it?
I digress. Anyway, he called them to discuss the plan for us coming out there so we could book plane tickets, but hadn't talked to them in a week or so, and ended up catching them up about Bosco dying, the latest on CAL not calling back the furloughs this year, and other depressing stuff. By the time he got off the phone he was pretty upset from bringing it all up.
I think he's really feeling lost in what to do with himself. The news of CAL not being likely to recall the furloughs this year is actually really frustrating. It kind of sets us back to square one all over again, because AGAIN we don't know when he will be recalled and what to do. Do we wait it out and he just keeps working at the hotel? Does he go to back for more school? Does he focus on finding other flying jobs? Does he focus on finding non-aviation jobs? It's just hard to know how to proceed....
I was talking to a friend about it all earlier and when you go through the scenarios of what to do, it's really difficult to figure out a game plan that makes sense. For example, if Greg were to go to grad school. What would he get a masters in? What if he gets recalled while he's in school? Would a masters actually help him in getting a better job (it seems like most jobs want the degree AND experience)? I'd hate to see him put in a lot of effort and money to study something only to have it not help him in getting a better job or for him to get recalled in the middle of going to school and him having to just stop. We can't really afford for him to be paying a lot in tuition either and he probably couldn't do school full time since we need an income from him. Same deal basically with getting some kind of two-year technical degree, which is something else we've considered for him. The advantage of him getting his real estate and CDL licenses were that the training was short and cheap and could be applied immediately.
Another big issue lately (I may have brought this up before), is that many the flying jobs Greg is seeing and applying for list being current or CFI (certified flight instructor). Greg hasn't flown a plane in a year and a half and hasn't been CFI certified in a while. Is it worth it to try and get those things up to date? Would it help? To get current in the jets he has flown would cost thousands of dollars, and same probably goes for CFI. Ideally he'd just get called back or hired somewhere where it's not an issue and they'd retrain him. But we wonder if he's losing out to jobs by having been out of flying for so long now if he's competing with guys that are current on all of that.
There's just not a clear solution to this problem. Whatever he direction he chooses is a gamble based on not knowing when he'll be recalled.
I again feel lost at how to really help him. I just try to be there for him and be supportive, find jobs for him to apply for, network for him when I can, toss out ideas when I come up with them... Other than that, I don't know what else to do. I don't know what I would do in his situation. It's hard to know if he should hold out or move on or what. I feel like the decisions that he's made thus far have been relatively good ones based on the information and choices he had at the time, so I don't think he really could have done much differently. I love him and I'm proud of him. I just hope he can figure out a solution that will make him feel like he's ok with things. He needs some sort of resolution, because I think this in limbo feeling is starting to just be too much for him to take anymore.
Despite everything I've still got my weirdly optimistic 2010 attitude. I'm not sure why, since everything is still pretty crappy and we haven't exactly gotten any good news lately, but I think I took a look back on how 2009 went and felt like I spent enough time feeling down and whiny in 2009, and don't feel like going about it that way any longer. Plus, I feel like things SHOULD only get better. I don't know. I just want to try and stay positive despite everything. The way I look at it, the constructive energy should help a lot more than negativity.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy Day

Today was a good day. My friends and I have started kind of a "breakfast club" now since we've started meeting for brunch at each other's houses on a semi-regular basis. It actually kind of started because of Greg's schedule working evenings. Everyone kept asking when we could get together and really morning/lunchtime is kind of all I can plan for on weekends if we want Greg to be there, so we started this getting together for brunch thing. It works out because I love breakfast food. Kelly and Brad hosted at their condo this morning. She made a yummy breakfast casserole of egg, spinach, and bacon and we had had sweet potato hashbrowns, scones, and fruit with the usual brunch staple of mimosas and coffee. YUM! We ate and hung out talking at their place until early afternoon and then a bunch of us headed to a new museum that just opened in Charlotte called the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art I liked some pieces better than others. My favorite was an oil painting by Jean-Paul Riopelle. I liked it because it had a ton of texture and it was so intricate with stripes of color within each scraping of the painting knife. It's hard to explain, but it just looked really cool, like waves of striped color.
I've said it before before, but I feel so fortunate for my group of friends. They really have made all the difference in my happiness in Charlotte. I feel so lucky that I have this group of good people to spend time with.
I also feel really happy to have Greg. I know I spend a lot of time wallowing about his furlough and how it's screwed up our plans to have a baby and/or travel- two things I so want to do, but really finding the person I want to love and spend the rest of my life with was my number one goal in life and I have that already, even if everything else has to wait. I know I am lucky that I have Greg because I just love him so much. We get each other and he's the guy for me.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

This week has been a rough one for me. A while back when feeling stagnant in my work I decided it would be a good idea to apply to be a relief supervisor for my supervisor. I figured it couldn't hurt to learn more about what she does (in case I ever want the job) and add that to my resume. I ended up getting selected and spent most of the time since I've been selected never really being called upon to do much aside from a few things she delegated to me. Well, my supervisor decided to take somewhat of a sabbatical and is gone for the next two months, so guess who is acting supervisor- me! It's really my first time in any sort of management role and I'm working to acclimate. Our office has a lot of politics and drama and I'm handling everything as delicately as I can. The first night I called Greg on my way home and told him to get some margaritas ready! Hello stress! I hit the ground running from day one with meetings, emails, phone calls, and mail hitting me from every side. I think it's going to be a long two months!
Anyway, in Greg job news, he tested with TSA back at the end of December to be a screener. The test involved looking at x-rays of luggage for two hours and locating "evil" objects such as knives and guns. He passed and has a conditional offer upon completion of the rest of their process. I'm guessing it's the usual background, physical, or whatever they specifically require. He was initially thinking it wouldn't be long before he'd be through the process, but as a government slave myself, I'm guessing it is going to take at least a few months, maybe longer.
Greg also applied for a couple more airline jobs he found recently. We'll see if anything pans out there.
I talked to my friend Melanie last night while stuck in traffic on the commute home. We're still thinking about taking a trip together somewhere this year, but it's got to be on the cheap side for me to do it. Originally we wanted to do somewhere in Europe, but I'm thinking we may have to do the Carribean or somewhere closer to home to keep it cheaper. I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any. I'd just like a stamp in my passport and to go somewhere I haven't been, which leaves, oh- pretty much the better part of the world minus Jamaica and Canada.
I've recently been reading a bunch of food blogs: My friend Kelly's and Kath Eats Real Food. I might start doing more with food in my blog. I know I put the occasional recipe, but I may add more. Reading their blogs also makes me feel like a slug because both of them are really good about working out. This time of year with the cold weather it's rough for me to get motivated to do it. I know when it's warmer I will no problem, but right now, I just want to hide under a warm blanket!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Years Eve was good. Greg was working (of course!). I had a few offers of things to do, but all would have required driving to downtown Charlotte or other areas and some involved fancy dinners or big house parties, and I just didn't feel like doing anything like that. I was thinking low-key and close to home sounded more appealing to me. My friend Josie lives in my area, so we made a plan for her to come over and go to dinner at the local pub in my neighborhood. We then went back to my house and had a bottle of wine, molten chocolate cakes I made, and watched Love Actually. Greg got home right around 11:40pm and we opened a bottle of Prosecco and rang in the New Year. It was nice.
The first day of the year actually started off pretty good for me. For some reason I had a pretty great sense of optimism going on. I guess I just felt like it was a new year and my hope is kind of renewed.
I talked to a few friends and arranged to have 5 people over for brunch today (Saturday). I spend a bunch of the day prepping for that yesterday after Greg left work work. I planned to make a quiche and made the dough for the crust, made huge amounts of fruit salad, and cut up a french bread for french toast.
Last night Greg got home and I heard him rustling around and later he came up and woke me up and told me Bosco had died.
Bosco was one of our rabbits. We had him about a year and half after a guy in my office moved away and asked us to take him (at first temporarily, then permanently). When he was left with us we were told by his previous owner he was already pretty old and he didn't expect him to live much longer. Bosco had a very sweet disposition. He was kind of Greg's "favorite" because of this. He liked being held and liked having his ears stroked. His death was unexpected. Greg always watched him like a hawk and was hyper-conscious of what he was eating or not eating, but I always thought that compared to the other two he was just more mellow and not a big eater. He's always been that way since we got him. Which made it harder to tell if anything was wrong with him, since being mellow was already in his nature. With our other rabbits it was easy to tell if something was wrong because they wouldn't eat much and would become more mellow, he was already like that. On NYE we were all playing with him a bunch and he seemed fine. It wasn't til Greg got home and checked on him last night(after I had gone to bed) that he found that he was weaker than normal and seemed sick. Greg said he passed away shortly after. Greg was very upset. I was too, but it kind of hasn't hit me yet.
Greg also had checked the Continental forums during the day yesterday and someone said they saw the system bid for next year and it says there are no recalls on it.
Which made him doubly depressed yesterday.
I guess I am going to cancel the brunch I had planned for this morning. I think Greg could use something like this to cheer him up on one hand, but on the other hand, he's probably too depressed and it's probably appropriate to put it off. I just have a lot of stuff prepped for it and I'm not sure what I'll do with it all now. I'd postpone it til tomorrow but Greg is working day shift tomorrow so he won't be around.
Anyway, that's how our new year has gone so far!
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