Thursday, April 28, 2011

Positive Outlook and Other Happy Things

Sometimes I look back at the things I have said and they seem really negative.  I don't like to look at myself as a negative thinker, but it is right there in black and white looking back at me.

While we all make excuses for the stuff we do, I know that it is just that I am letting the little (and also the big) things really get under my skin.  Why am I letting stupid things bother me and put me in a bad mood?  There is nothing bad about my life at all.  I have so much going on in my life to be thankful for and there is so much happiness all around me.

Strawberries are finally getting into season and looking gorgeous! I got a 2lb container and we almost ate half of it in 1 day.

We are blessed to have two vehicles so that when one needs repairing, we can still get around.  And even more than that I have a wonderful hubby who let's me use his car so that my windshield doesn't break even more during my work commute.

I have some great co-workers who are easy to get along and caring about my life.  They even make me little emergency kits that they know I have been dying to make, but can't since I don't have a sewing machine.  And they even make it in my favorite color combo -yellow and grey.

I have a great boss who is so supportive and understanding.  She gave me this opportunity to get into higher education administration and has been so patient in training me and answering my questions.  Plus she gives really great gifts for Administrative Professionals Day.

Why yes that is Gourmet Beer Bread Mix from the St. Louis Budweiser Brewery

I have a great group of friends and wonderful life group full of fun people of such integrity and wisdom.  Each week they challenge me to grow deeper in my faith and be a better person every day.  And then laugh at that's-what-she-said-jokes and play Mario until all hours of the night.

And those little things in life that remind you everything is going to be okay.
Thank you Hy-vee Chinese fortune cookie for your wise words!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Puppy Love

I mentioned before that although we are not interested in having children right now, we do want puppies.  Like really want puppies.  Like sometimes it is all that we can think about.  It can get pretty intense and obsessive.

Part of the problem is that when we came out to Columbia we planned on getting a dog right away.  We even chose an apartment that would allow pets.  However, since I didn't have a job right away and we were saving all our extra money toward the wedding, the dog didn't happen.  After we wedding we thought about it and realized that we would only be in this apartment one more year regardless of if we stayed in Columbia or not.  As you can see from the apartment tour, we don't have a lot of space and really would like a nicer place after the hubby graduates.  So we thought it wouldn't be a very wise decision to invest in the pet deposit if we would be leaving soon.

At this point we have been talking about getting a dog for over two years, and have put it off for many reasons.  Right now I think we are sick of putting it off.  We are waiting until we find out the hubby's job situation, in case we have to move, before we get a pet, which is killing us.  But it doesn't stop us from looking ....

Our ideal dog - small, white, and furry.  We just can't resist those little terriers like Westies, Yorkies, or Malteses.

And I like my dogs in glasses.
A typical day in the life as a Pickel usually involves multiple messages including pictures and videos like this:

And even sometimes a little piglet or a penguin
Unknown Source
Unknown Source

If that isn't enough cuteness for you check out this website: Cute Roulette.  I could spend all day on there.

Yes, it might be obsessive at times, but I don't know how much longer we can wait!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekend Recap: Hail and Tornadoes

My title kind of says it all.  Our weekend was full of yucky weather - rain, hail, and even tornadoes.

It all started on Friday after work...

About a week ago I finally went ahead and bought a new pair of workout sneakers.  I had found a pair I thought would be really great and looked cute too.  Unfortunately they only had them in an 8.5 size, and most of the sneakers I tried on were most comfortable in a 9.  Somehow I talked myself into thinking that the smaller size would fit me.  When I got them home that day I wore them around the house and realized they were too tight.  Dang.  Our store in town did not get my size on their shipment this week, so I thought it would be a good idea to see if any other stores along the way to the in-laws place would have them as we would be headed there for Easter weekend.  No one did, except the store in Jefferson City, MO (which is about 30 min south of Columbia, and not on the way to the in-laws at all).

Anyways, back to Friday.  I decided it would be a good idea to run down to Jefferson City after work to get these shoes.  Then rush back to Columbia to pack up real quick and head out to the in-laws for Easter.  Getting to the store, things went great.  I made great timing, they were already reserved for me, and I was out of there quick.  However when I got just north of Jefferson City, my boss sent me a text that said, "I really hope you are close to home.  There is a tornado headed straight toward Ashland."  I was driving straight toward Ashland with no where to stop along the way.  The clouds started to look scary and I was getting a little freaked out.  I called the hubby to calm me down and that is when I started raining, and then hailing.  Finally I had to pull off to the side of the road with all the other cars, and the hail just kept pelting my car.  It cracked my windshield and put dents on the top of my car.

So these are the cute shoes I got:

And this is the crack in my windshield (which has since gotten bigger over the weekend):

Was it worth it?  I am not sure.  $250 deductible will fix the windshield and the dents on my car, but the shoes were only $60.

But the story doesn't end here.

Once I got home we had to make the decision on whether to go to southern Illinois that night or wait until the morning.  We saw the weather report and there didn't seem to be any more weather coming behind us, so we packed up and left about 7pm.

We didn't take into account the weather in southern Missouri that was moving up and over, instead of over.  What ended up happening was we caught up with the weather just outside of St. Louis.  We heard on the radio and from the in-laws about the tornado warnings, and I insisted we get off the highway at Lake St. Louis, about 25 minutes from the STL airport.  If you have seen the news at all recently, you would know that the tornado actually touched down at the airport.

Lucky for us that we stopped or we would have probably driven right through when the tornado hit.  After waiting 45 minutes for the warnings to lift, we headed out on I-70 which was our best option since 270 was closed both ways.  It wasn't long before we hit traffic.  We barely moved for 3 hours.  It took us that long to go about 5 miles at which point they were re-routing people off of I-70.  We managed to find an alternate route there, arriving at 1:45 (6 hours and 45 minutes for a trip that normally takes 3 hours).

The rest of the weekend was a bit less eventful, but still full of flood warnings.  Easter managed to stay nice enough for us to get out and enjoy service at the in-laws church and a little visiting before we took off with the threat of more thunderstorms headed that direction.

I am so over this crazy weather!

Happy Monday and have a great week.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Apartment Tour: Our Humble Place Part II

I started giving a tour of our Columbia apartment here.

The rest is definitely less exciting.  We concentrated on decorating and filling up the common areas the people would see the most - i.e. the living room and the kitchen.

The only thing we have done with the bedroom is get a new comforter and sheets with wedding gift money.  I have many ideas for art and decor in the bedroom but just have not gotten around to it.  The bedrooms in our apartment are pretty spacious and have nice size closets, which we fill out pretty well.

Our bathroom did get some updates thanks to wedding presents and money, but honestly there isn't much to do with it right now.

Then down the hall we have another guest bathroom and a second bedroom.

The second bedroom used to be part office, part guest bedroom.  

But now it has turned into part office, part storage.  It even has the same size closet as the main bedroom which we use part for the rest of the hubby's clothes, and the other half for all kinds of crap - Christmas decor, empty boxes, ice cream maker, wrapping paper and bags, and camping equipment.

This permanent storage room is due to the fact we had some issues with water in the room.

Story Time!

The in-laws were coming into town to visit us for a few days.  Since we had a guest queen bed and a blow up mattress, we figured they would be fine to stay here.  It had been a busy week, so I decided to take off work to get the place cleaned up before they got there.  In the warm months we have tons of spiders that get into our apartment.  Sometimes it is so bad I don't want to leave anything on the floor for more than a minute- afraid a spider would have already made a home there.  This said, I was very afraid to move the mattress that was pushed up next to the wall.  I waited until the hubby got home to help me.  When we finally got around to doing it we were in for a big surprise.

There wasn't any spiders, but stinky mold all along the sides of the wall and a soaking wet carpet.  As soon as we moved the mattress the entire place just stunk.  I immediately called the management company and they sent someone over right away.  They put fans out to dry it up over the weekend and said they would be back on Monday to fix the problem.

The in-laws still wanted to come, so they bought a queen air mattress and set up a make-shift bedroom in the dining area.  It was a bit cramped, but we still had a good weekend.

It took over a week to get everything taken care of, and the only real damage was to a small section on an older dresser I want to get rid of anyways.  We never really figured out what it was that caused all the water to come in through the floor.  On the day they finished up cleaning the mattresses, I went into the room to check on what they did and got dripped on from the ceiling.  The apartment above us had their water heater go out and water was dripping into our apartment.

Needless to say, that room is not getting set back up and will just be storage until we move out!

So that is it, the lovely place we call home.  It isn't huge, or modern.  It has cracks, could use some repairs, and needs updating badly.  However, we don't spend a whole lot of time there much with work and friends taking up a lot of our time.  Plus the rent is awesome!  Sure there is a lot I would change, but it is our first home/apartment together and it has special meaning to me!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blah, Blah, Blah

You know those days that you wish you could just curl up in a ball and sleep all day.  Yeah, today is one of those days.  Actually to be honest the past week has been one of those days.  My energy level has been zero. I have been sleeping at least 8 hours a night but am completely exhausted in the morning. I have been cheating on my healthy eating goals and neglecting the gym.  My emotions are at crazy levels and I can't make a decision about anything.  I don't want to hang out with friends and I don't want to cook (we have been out to eat so much in the past week).  I want to say things just to get a rise out of people.

Wow, reading that back I sound like a world class biotch.  So if you are feeling all happy and positive today, you should probably stop reading because today it is going to be an angry rant.

Things that are pissing me off lately:
1. People who say, "We always say, if you don't like the weather here, wait 5 minutes."

Okay this might sound stupid to get annoyed with that but really people?  This statement applies to the most of the people who live in the United States and especially the mid-west.  Missouri your weather isn't that crazy and isn't that special.  It's spring and can be 70 one day and 40 the next.  Get over yourselves.

2. The phrase "... And we will go from there."

What does that even mean? Go where?  You aren't telling me anything.  Actually try to be helpful, and tell me what the next step is.  Don't act all vague.

3. People who turn in paperwork and it isn't completely filled out.

Do you think I remember every person's name and you just don't need to write it down.  If there is a space for your advisor's signature, that means your advisor needs to sign it.  It would be a lot less work for everyone if you just filled out all the spaces on the form, because they are there for a reason.

4. People who don't think the rules apply to them.

Why should people make special exceptions for you?  Everyone else has to follow the rules and procedures, but you are so special you don't have to.  Grow up and deal with life.

5. Foods that are supposed to be good for you but taste like crap.

I am sorry but foods like tofu or edamame are not appealing and don't taste good.  It is hard to find examples of people who have healthy eating habits that I can model my diet after.  I know I don't eat great some of the time, but I would rather be overweight than eat some of the healthy crap people eat.  Gross.

Enough complaining for now I guess.

On a more positive note, I got my invitation to join pinterest the other day and finally set up my account today.  I am really excited about this! Check it out if you don't know what it is about. And follow my page!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Trip to the Mountains: Hiking and Relaxation

Time to finish my recaps of the Colorado Honeymoon.

We won a trip out to Colorado
Traveled through the mountains to get to the resort.
Toured Devil's Thumb Ranch.

We woke up to our first full day in Colorado to this view:

Definitely not bad.  The view was awesome, but waking up at 5am on my vacation was not ideal.  Oh well, who can complain when that is what you wake up to.  

Anyways, the plan for the day was to do some hiking around the 5,000 acre property.  

First though we headed to breakfast at Heck's Tavern.  One thing I have not mentioned yet, was that Devil's Thumb Ranch was a green resort.  They received the EPA Award for Responsible Development and Historic Preservation, and has committed to only building on 80 acres.  According to their website these are the other ways they are trying to limit their impact on the environment:

- All of our buildings are heated with the earth’s own geothermal heat, which reduces our dependence on
natural gas and electricity. (It also feels mighty nice on your toes after a day of skiing.)
- We use dual flush toilets in our lodge rooms to conserve water.
- We use florescent bulbs extensively to conserve energy.
- Much of the interior trim wood in our lodge is beetle-kill lodgepole pine.
- Many of our floors are reclaimed spruce wood - the floors in Heck’s Tavern are from standing-dead
Douglas Fir. (Lessens the fire danger, and looks great, too!)
- The rock on all building exteriors and on the fireplace in Heck’s Tavern in our lodge is from a local landslide.
- We recycle whenever possible, both in-house and by encouraging our guests to do so by providing multiple recycling centers around the Ranch.
- In our cabins, catalytic converters on fireplaces reduce emissions.
- Our bath towels are made with a micro-cotton that takes 20% less time to dry in a commercial dryer.
- All our wastewater is either reclaimed or returns to the ground and surface water supply as clean as it was before use thanks to a specially designed sand filtration system.
- We use all natural, organic and biodegradable cleaning and spa products.
- Clothing carried in our retail areas come from companies who use sustainable materials and organic materials.
- Our restaurants use organic, sustainable and locally grown meats and produce whenever possible.
- Our Broad Axe Barn facility is a reclaimed Civil-War era barn that was moved here and rebuilt piece-by-piece.
- We change linens only every third day unless specifically requested by our guests, conserving water and energy. -Towels are changed every other day unless by guest request.

I thought this was all pretty cool when I read this before the trip, but wondered if it was a luxury kind of place or if we were going to be living in no electricity cabins with limited water use.  Lucky for me, this wasn't the case and Devil's Thumb was able to perfectly mix being a luxury resort and environmental friendly.

Back to my point - breakfast.  Where I was going with this rant was to tell you about the food.  As mentioned above it was organic and local food, which lead to a small selection on the menu but delicious food!  Breakfast was such a luxury.  I wish I could remember what exactly we ate but I am pretty sure I chowed down too fast to think twice.  Since breakfast was included in our winnings, we ate a gourmet breakfast at Heck's every morning (also because it was the only restaurant on the property to get breakfast at!).

After breakfast I really wanted to do some yoga.  On the itinerary of activities booklet dropped off in our room daily, the said they had morning yoga complimentary at the spa for guests staying at the resort.  I was pumped, the hubby definitely was less excited.  However, I convinced him to come with me.  When we got there, it turned out that we were the only people (the resort was starting to clear out a bit being it was a Sunday).  So we got our own private yoga lesson.  It was very calming and challenging at the same time

(Both Pictures taken from Devil's Thumb Ranch Website)

After the nice yoga workout to stretch us out, we loaded up on Gatorades and supplies for an afternoon hike.  The guide at the activities center was helpful in helping us pick a route.  He let us know which paths he would recommend for beginners like us, and what to look out for. 

We don't normally do hiking and outdoorsy stuff like this, so it was quite the adventure!

We started out on the easy trail

And just enjoyed the beautiful sights and the mountains around us
Following our guides recommendation we decided to take a more difficult path.  It was definitely more challenging - smaller pathways and greater inclines.

But boy was it worth it!  We took a break on a bench up at the top to catch our breath.

Devil's Thumb Ranch - At the top of the mountain from Sarah Pickel on Vimeo

That was high enough for us to climb, so we took the the downhill trails for the rest of our hike.  We were told there were mountain lions in this area and you could see the scratch marks on the trees, but the only animals we ran into were annoying horse flies.
The trails took us all the way around the other side of the resort so we were able to see the horse stables and private cabins.

By the end of the hike, we had been out for about 4 hours, gone through all out Gatorade, and were a bit sunburned.  Not to mention completely exhausted.  We rested up for a bit, showered, and then got dressed up for our fancy dinner.
As a part of our winning we got to have one romantic dinner at the Ranch House Restaurant, which is located on the property.  We both were so exhausted that I was not interested in drinking any wine, which they had an amazing selection.  Our waiter looked at us crazy when we ordered waters and cokes, but that sun and long hike really wore me out.  We decided to indulge and went with the whole salad, dinner, and dessert.  It was amazing!!  We each had a different salad, but both got the Beef Tenderloin, and shared the award winning "Devil's Thumb" chocolate dessert.  It was crazy to see how much the bill was but we just charged it to the room like we were told, and felt thankful for the opportunity to have such a great opportunity!

We just spent the evening relaxing, playing games downstairs in the arcade room, and watching movies in the movie theater.

The next day we made sure to close the shades so we could sleep in.  This was our lazy day.  We had spa treatments booked at the spa as a part of our package.  They told me that we could get there as early as we wanted, and could enjoy the facilities all day.

We took them up on that offer and checked it out.  In each of the locker rooms they had aromatherapy rooms, sauna rooms, all kinds of lotions and products, and an amazing rainfall shower.  Since it was our honeymoon, we didn't want to spend too much time apart in the locker rooms.  So we relaxed in our robes reading magazines in the relaxation room and sitting out by the hot tub.

The spa services were just amazing.  We were pampered with a couples buttermilk bliss soak and then an 80 minute couples Mountain Essences Massage.  Then to top it off, we were treated with a glass of wine and gourmet cheese plate which we enjoyed out in the hot tub after.

That was pretty much how our day went, plus a little pool and sauna time.

We woke up the next day, packed up, and were off on our way to the airport.  It all seemed like a dream, and the whole time I was waiting to realize it wasn't sure.  Every charge we sent to our room I was afraid of seeing on our bill.  In the end we ended up paying $30 in room charges and for the taxes on our rental car.  Not bad trip at all!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Apartment Tour: Our Humble Place

Not many people get to see our place.  Partly because we are so far away from family and friends, and partly because we don't invite people over than often.  It's a small place, but we got it for a great price and works great for our situation now.

Anyways we will take a quick tour of the place just so you can get an idea of what kind of place we live in and our decorating style.  It is also a nice way for me to remember the place, since it is our first place together and we will be moving out soon.

Here is the view from the front of the building.  I pretty much demanded a first floor apartment after walking up tons of steps in my previous place.  It seriously could not be any easier, as our place is right there when you walk in the front door.  We even got pretty sweet parking place right by the door.  You can see a little of my car on the right.

When you walk through the front door this is the view you get.  Our living room is right there in the front and the dining area is in the back

Here is another view of the living room from the other side.

Right off of the living room is a small storage closet and laundry room.  It has been great for us!  We got a great deal on a barely used washer and dryer from a family friend, which means no more laundromats for us!

Not the prettiest picture of the house, but is great to have the storage space for our coats and recycling!

You got to see some of the pictures of our kitchen before, but here are some better ones.

And here is our dirty little secret of the kitchen.  We have no storage and too much stuff, so we stick all the stuff we don't use very often above the cabinet.  Most of the fun stuff we got from the wedding are up there like cake domes, margarita classes, and serving trays.  Not everything fit.  We have stuff in the extra room.  I can't wait to move.  Number one on my must have list is a bigger kitchen!

Still no chairs for the dining table.  The hubby found some really great ones sitting out by the dumpster (people get rid of a lot of nice things around here and we aren't above getting free stuff) but by the time he got the car someone was already loading them into their truck.  But I am okay with that since we have gone this long already.

This is the view out the back door.  We have a small concrete patio that we don't really use, except as a place to keep the grill.  It can be a very pretty view as seen below, but we can get tons of geese which are very annoying.  They leave all kinds of nastiness everywhere and like to get it on while I am trying to sleep.  At some point I think we counted over 50 geese in the pond at one time.

I still have other pictures of the other side of the apartment but I think I will save those for another post!  

Happy Monday Everyone! Have a great week!