Monday, September 29, 2008

It's alive!

For the past few weeks this is what our evening has consisted of:

Before we left for Philadelphia, our Mazda started making a really crazy noise when you went faster than about 15 mph. It was embarrassingly loud and lucky me got to drive it to work for the two weeks I was still in Utah and Sean was in Pennsylvania. I took it to a mechanic to see if he could diagnose the problem. Well, that nice man told us he was "certain" it was a bearing on the clutch that needed to be replaced. I stuck it out with the noisy car and decided Sean could deal with it (since it is his other true love) when we got home. Thinking we're being proactive, Sean orders a new clutch and it arrives on our doorstep the day after we get back to Utah. We had the clutch replaced. The noise didn't go away… in fact it was worse.

We took the car to another mechanic for another opinion. This one says he's "sure" it's the transmission and proceeds to tell us for a mere $1200 he will replace it. Um, no thanks. Instead, we made a memorable trip to a pick-and-pull yard out in the boonies west of Salt Lake and picked up a used transmission for $250. Note: I thought it might be a fun little adventure to go to the pick-and-pull yard—WRONG. We stood in a greasy "reception area" for 45 minutes and listened to employees tell dirty jokes in Spanish. I told Sean I would rather saw off my own arm then go back.

So we got the transmission replaced with the used one we bought. We're all stoked to go pick it up and have two cars again. Yeah, would have been cool if the transmission was the actual problem! The mechanic scratched his head and says, "It's a mystery. We just don't know what's wrong." Thanks buddy—really helpful information. Probably good we didn't PAY YOU THE $1200 FOR A NEW TRANSMISSION THEN!

At this point I was ready to blow up the stupid car and tried to convince Sean to buy himself a truck. I knew getting rid of it would be hard for Sean since this car has been his little project (turbo, suspension, exhaust, etc.), but I didn't want to keep paying for people's guesses of what might be wrong. Miraculously, Sean found a guy in Ogden (we'll call him the 'blessed one') who had a lot of knowledge and experience with Miatas. After driving the car for about five seconds he told Sean the problem was the differential (don't ask me what it is because I don't know). He offered to sell us one at a much lower price than anything we could find online, and knowing my hesitation about paying for more car parts we don't really need, he even said he'd buy the part back if it didn't fix the problem. When we picked it up, he taught Sean how to replace it himself and told him to call with any questions or problems. Now THAT is an awesome mechanic!

So like I said, we've been down in the garage for the past few weeks. I set up a beach chair and read a book (I told him he can't be under the car by himself for obvious reasons) and Sean wrenched away. Luckily, with the help of some friends (Sam, Rob) and my brother, the car is finally put back together… and… and... wait for it... the NOISE IS GONE! Can I get a Hallelujah people? The Miata lives on!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

5 months

Here's the latest picture of my tummy as requested (this is for you Taryn). We took this picture on Saturday when I was technically 5 months 1 week, but close enough I say! There is more of a bump forming now, which is very exciting. I'm still wearing regular clothes, but there have been a few things I've gone to put on and taken right off after seeing myself in the mirror! We're going to try to take a picture each month so I'll try to post them as we go.

I've been asked a lot if we have any names picked out yet. So far we both love the name Jackson-- it's the name we already had picked out for a boy more than two years ago (you know, back when we thought I'd be pregnant in a month or two-- hah!). We're not 100% set on it, but it is the front runner. If anyone has heard any good boy names or has any suggestions (one you won't kill me if I end up using) let me know. Let me just say now that I will veto any names that are unisex!

Remember how I won that virtual baby shower a few weeks ago? Since this post is baby themed, I thought I would post a picture of all of the stuff I have been sent so far:

I know it's kind of hard to tell what everything is, but you get the idea! The cards in the front are gift cards-- one for personalized onesies and one to go towards announcements. I actually got a basket of baby clothes and a blanket in the mail today that didn't make it into this picture (mostly because I was too lazy to take another one). I can't tell you how fun it has been receiving all of this stuff!

Our next goal? Get going on the nursery. I think I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do sorted out in my head... we'll see if it actually turns out the way I am envisioning! I'll save those details for another post-- maybe after we've actually gotten started!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One of my favorite things

Fresh peaches. And since they are in season, I can’t seem to get enough of them. This past weekend Sean and I were in Idaho Falls for my grandma’s 90th birthday party and my aunt brought a giant box of peaches for all to share. I grabbed a grocery sack full since I’ve been wanting to make a fresh peach pie for weeks now (seriously ask my friends who saw me every day this summer). I must admit this was the first time I had ever attempted making pie crust from scratch. Pie crust is one of those things you hear horror stories about… My mom's recipe is awesome, but she makes it in bulk. Anyway, I used this recipe from Food Network and it surprisingly turned out well.

Here is the final result:

It may not look like much, but it was dang good! My mom (and now I) swear by this recipe which came from her aunt Florence. Also, I am a firm believer in using REAL whipped cream for something like this-- as in buy heavy whipping cream and whip it yourself with a hand mixer! With peach season wrapping up soon, I’ll be transitioning to my pumpkin obsession so watch out!

Florence's Peach Pie
2 peaches, sliced fine
1/2 cup sugar
2 T. cornstarch
2/3 cup water
pinch salt
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 t. almond extract
1 T. butter

8 or so sliced peaches to fill pie crust
1 9" baked piecrust, cooled
whipping cream

Combine all sauce ingredients (except butter) in a sauce pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick and clear. Add more water if too thick. After sauce is thickened, remove from heat and stir in 1 T. butter until melted. Cool slightly. Fill pie shell with fresh sliced peaches. Pour glaze over fruit and refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours. Top with whipped cream and nutmeg if desired.

Weekly Funny

It has been a long time since the last installment of Weekly Funny. Whenever I see this clip it causes me to laugh.  Luckily the shooter wasn't injured. (He is extremely lucky)  The shooter in the video is handling an AR-50.  The target, a steel plate, was a football field's length away.  You can hear the bullet ricochet and come flying back at the shooter.  From now on, whenever I go shooting, I am always doing it at an angle!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Book Reviews

Let me just say I do not consider myself a book scholar in the slightest-- I just know whether I like a book or not and that is all that matters to me! I'm always looking for a good book, so I thought I'd post my thoughts on a few of the most recent I've read. If you've read any of these, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
The Host: Stephanie Meyer

My sister-in-law Julie let me borrow her copy and I kind of read this because I was curious how Stephanie Meyer would do with a story that didn't involve vampires and werewolves. I thought the beginning was awesome (although a lot of people have complained that they had a hard time following what was going on). Somewhere towards the late middle of the book I was honestly bored to tears because the story seemed to keep dragging on and on. I felt like the same stuff just kept being repeated. Luckily towards the end I felt like she pulled it together and made it entertaining again. I'd say it's worth reading, but I wouldn't put the same enthusiasm behind it as her other books.

John Adams: David McCoullough

I was hoping this wouldn't be boring and put me to sleep. It's a pretty big book, and I was pleasantly surprised. I have to admit I only read through the Revolutionary War (a little more than half way) on purpose to keep myself from burning out. The Revolutionary War has always interested me, and this book did a great recap of the events. What I especially liked about the book was that it was written simply. It wasn't something I had to stay on top of or read continually in order to remember what was going on. My respect for the Founding Fathers grew by leaps and bounds (well... for most anyway) and I learned a lot about the sacrifices many of them made because they believed so much in America. John Adams and his wife have a great love story and it was cool to read the letters they would write to one another-- it also made me realize how writing and penmenship these days has gone to pot!

The Book Thief: Markus Zusak

LOVED it. It was written so creatively (from the viewpoint of death) and unlike anything I have ever read. It was a new perspective on Nazi Germany from the viewpoint of a little girl. The story makes you happy, sad, scared, etc. The foreshadowing by "death" was really cool. Hard to explain-- you've just got to read it. This was my favorite read in a long time!

Vanishing Acts: Jodi Picoult

This is the second book I've read by this author. The first I read was "Plain Truth," which I loved. I thought this one was entertaining at times, but I also thought she could have cut out about 200 pages and ended up with a much better story. There just seemed to be a lot of fluff in this one. For instance, she kept talking about some of the old traditions and stories from the ancient tribe of one of the supporting characters-- the stories were often hard to follow and uninteresting. I could see what was going to happen in the end and I wasn't too keen about how things turned out. I'm not saying I need a happy ending, because I don't. I just didn't agree with some of the main character's decisions. I've heard "My Sister's Keeper" is amazing so I guess I'll try that one next and hope for better luck.

Breaking Dawn: Stephanie Meyer

I'm sure many of you have read this also. If you haven't, don't read on because I am likely to spoil something! I was really excited for this last installment because I really loved the first three books. I was suprised with how quickly everything got going-- I was worried it might be like the last few books where Bella just whines the whole time about not wanting to get married and then gets into some sort of trouble and then the climax of the book takes place in the last 30 pages (and Bella remains human). I was happy this wasn't the case in this book. I have to say I was surprised at the honeymoon vampire-lovin' adventures, but it's all good! I kept thinking as I was reading that this book is not appropriate for teens, but as an adult I say A-OK. Anyway, I definitely didn't see all of the twists coming and for the most part was pretty entertained. It sorta dragged when all the vampires were congregating to take on the Volturi, but the ending made up for it. One BIG pet peeve about the book though: the name Renesmee. UGH! For real? What was she smoking when she came up with that one? Other than that I really enjoyed it and was kinda sad when I finished it. One of my favorite parts: Edward being able to hear Bella's thoughts at the end.

If anyone has read anything good lately or has books on their to-read list, I'd love to hear about it! I'm finishing up a book called "Drowning Ruth" right now so I'll be needing some reading material soon!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm a winner!

My sister-in-law Rachel sent me the link to this blog: Tangled & True. It is an awesome blog that features cool and unique baby and kids products. So on this blog there are quite a few giveaways. Last week they were doing a "virtual baby shower." What is a virtual baby shower you ask? Well, it is basically the greatest thing since Christmas morning. What they do is feature some of their favorite new products from different vendors and one lucky winner gets the products for free! As someone who rarely wins anything, I entered (you enter by leaving a comment on the blog post) not expecting anything. Since they were giving away like 14 items I knew about a million people would enter. Imagine my surprise when I found out I won! There were more than 600 entrants and they chose me!

So I feel like I hit the jackpot. I won nearly $1,000 chic baby stuff! The products they were featuring were all really high end (some even hand-made) and I can't wait for them to arrive on my doorstep. I've been getting e-mails of all of these different UPS tracking codes from the companies-- it's going to be a fun week. Here is some of the stuff I won:

Click here to see the whole list of stuff I won. It just makes me happy looking at the pictures!Sean keeps telling me, "Don't forget you are a winner!" haha. Anyway, if you want some cute ideas for kids or babies, I HIGHLY recommend checking out this blog. There are a few ideas I know I already want to incorporate into our baby's nursery!