Monday, November 12, 2012

friends from home & chargrilled oysters. october 12.

In the middle of September I received a random phone call from a random phone number. Lo and behold it was Taylor Moss, the husband of the Heather, one of the girls I visit taught in our BYU ward. Heather and Taylor have an adorable little boy named Will that Michael and I babysat a couple of times, but they graduated and moved to California to start a business around the same time we came to Louisiana. (You can see their cute blog and Will's hilarious faces here.) Taylor and his coworker Jordan (also someone that Michael knew from Idaho Falls) came to New Orleans for a trade show, and we got to save some packages for them and welcome to New Orleans! I was just pleased as punch that we had someone from home coming to visit.

Well, we hadn't been to A.C.M.E. for char-grilled oysters yet, so we thought we might as well introduce these Californians to some real Southern food: seafood po-boys and catfish. I've never had oysters, and I'm not much of a slimy food fan, but smother it with garlic and cheese and butter, and I'm all over it. Taylor and Jordan were too kind and bought us dinner-- thank you!!

We told them they had to try beignets too, but going into the French Quarter was out of the question because of traffic, so we opted for the Cafe du Monde experience in the mall.

We had a great time telling them about all the things they needed to do during their time off and seeing some friendly faces!

Friday, November 2, 2012

the battle for the paddle. october 5.

It took me a little while to buck up the courage, but Michael finally helped/forced me to write an email to the editor of the L'Observateur to ask for another assignment, and the assignment I got was to go to an event we were already excited about going to already!

The Battle for the Paddle is the annual jambalaya and gumbo cook-off for St. Charles Parish under the West Bank Bridge. We met up with Andy, the Hall's, the Rich's, and the Guilfou's to enjoy the $5 you-can-eat-as-much-food-as-you-can-stuff-into-your-mouth. Well, if you really want, you can read my article that explains it a little better here (just accept my shameless plug). I even got in for free because the lady I was getting all my information for the article called me "press." Ha! I guess it's almost true, but it still seems deceitful because I don't have any idea what I'm doing with my little point-and-shoot and borrowed tape recorder.

And voila, my article appeared on the front page! The guy in the picture, Randy, works at Monsanto with David, one of the guys Michael shares an office building with. As soon I showed up to interview David, David brought Randy over saying, "Here. He'll talk your ear off." It's true. He was a hoot. The picture on the right is much more his personality than the one they put in the newspaper.

By the end of the interview, he was telling me about how he picks up roadkill along the side of the road on his way home from work if he didn't see it there on the way to work, and make jambalaya and gumbo out of it. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Truth be told, I wouldn't mind hanging out with slightly-drunk Cajuns more often ;)

And getting to eat some seriously good Cajun food.

insectarium. october 6.

Like I told y'all in this post, we picked up the Audubon Experience package, and on October 5th, we ran off to the Insectarium and another walk up and down Canal Street. Much of the museum was geared toward kids, so maybe we're childish for enjoying it as much as we did, but what of it?

But we really did enjoy petting cockroaches, sampling the waxworms and crickets (we even got a stamp that says "I ate a bug!"), and gawking over millions of beetles pinned in lovely ways and the biggest wasp we've ever seen (cracker jackers, anyone?).

As a note: we did find the Butterfly Garden beautifully decorated, but with a disappointing lack of butterflies.  I remember going through a Butterfly Garden at the Hogle Zoo long ago, and it was a magical experience, so maybe I've been tainted, but this one just couldn't compare.

playing catch up... bear with me

I'm on my way back to blogging (maybe. That is what I said last time...). I think I'll do a couple of quick posts in succession. We'll see if it actually happens though.

Just bear with me as I half-rush through the next couple of posts. I'll try to go chronologically, and hopefully add some decent pictures, too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

zoo, aquarium, weather, and pumpkin pie shakes

Yikes. I'm nearing one month of no blogging. I'm sorry. The below was written two weeks ago:

The Audubon Experience package allows one entrance into the IMAX theater, the zoo, the aquarium, and the insectarium within a 45-day window. We went to the aquarium with our new-found friends Adam and Jennifer (actually Michael knew Adam from school, he's a chemical engineer doing a co-op with Dow. Jennifer's having a baby, so she's heading back to Utah on Friday). Last Friday we went to the Insectarium and saw The Last Reef 3D in the IMAX. It's interesting having a chemical engineer for a husband who wants to work for the biggest oil companies in the world. Of course it's important for us to conserve energy and figure out ways to save these amazing reefs in our oceans, but nobody will give up driving their car for a day, so it seems the world is at an impasse. [Note to self: write about being on the inside of the Monsanto industry. Lots of people hate it, but it seems to be really important to grow food. But that's for a whole 'nother post.] Anyway. It seems Michael and I like nature! The aquarium and insectarium, while geared towards the younger visitors, have been some of our favorite things we've seen.

Did you know there are more species of beetles than of mammals and birds combined?

For a week or so we had lovely weather. Every time we walked outside I sighed with contentment at the slight breeze and almost-fall temperature. Now it's back to hot and humid.

Michael makes a mean pumpkin pie shake. If we're not going to have fall weather, at least we'll eat a bunch of pumpkin with brown sugar, ice cream, and pumpkin pie spice.

Monday, September 17, 2012

in the aftermath of isaac

It's been almost a month, and for us, things are back to normal. But every Sunday when we go out to help those who have contacted the Mormon Helping Hands for help, I'm reminded that for so many people, getting back to normal is not going to be easy.

For the past three weeks, our ward has only had sacrament meeting so that those who are able can go back out to LaPlace to help. The first Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, we spent at the Rich's. (They're doing well, by the way. You can check out Jaime's blog here.)

We spent September 9th at Dawn and Aaron's home in Cambridge, one of the areas in St. John Parish that had the worst flooding. Dawn and Aaron had decided to wait out the storm in their home, but when they saw the water coming up their street they knew they had to get out. The water rose so fast that by the time they had gathered up the necessities, they could no longer drive out. They waded through the water with their three small kids, one on each of their backs, and holding their oldest's hands. They had up to two feet of water in their home at the peak, and had just recently gotten back into their neighborhood. Twelve days after the storm, and they were just beginning to take out the drywall and insulation. Not only did it smell, but black mold was growing up and down their walls. The insulation was still dripping wet with flood and sewer water. And the majority of their possessions were sitting out on the side of the road. Because all of their neighbors are in the same situation, Dawn and Aaron had very little help. The four of us were there for about six hours removing the drywall, insulation, and cabinets. Dawn said to me, "You don't know how big of a help this was. Aaron and I would have had to do it all by ourselves. Before you came, I didn't know how we would do it. Now it's manageable." Aaron made the same comment, with tears in his eyes.
Me, Adam, Aaron, Dawn, Michael, and Andy
So many have the same problem that Aaron and Dawn do. As of yesterday afternoon, the Mormon Helping Hands had finished gutting over 630 homes.

The streets still look like this:
Aaron & Dawn's home

It's sobering. But we are so blessed to be able to help. I woke up yesterday morning dreading going out to pull out more moldy insulation. But it's worth it. We can't fix their problems. But we can make it manageable.

Friday, September 14, 2012

"you've outdone yourself once again"

Living with Michael, I hear the above phrase pretty close to daily. He's very likely the most complimentary person I've ever come in contact with. (If he's ever said it to you, never fear. He says with the utmost sincerity.)

This time I really feel good, though. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not much of a cook. However, when cooking's this easy and this yummy, I can get by. Here's what we had for dinner last night that earned me my most recent "you've outdone yourself:"

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan (via Allrecipes)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
2 pounds tilapia fillets

  1. Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.
I told you, it's fool proof. I've been known to ruin the easiest recipe, so if I can make it, anyone can!

The potatoes were also a yummy treat with cheese and butter. You can find the recipe here (I added garlic as one of the reviews suggested, and I would highly recommend it).

Plus, it's always fun to cook when I've got these adorable plates to put the finished product on! Thanks, Mom & Dad!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

michael's hair

I know, I know. You're all dying to know. During the hurricane, did Michael grow a beard, just because? He did, my friends. He did.

He also did a MySpace-style photo shoot for your and my viewing pleasure.

He doesn't want me to tell you, but I just have to because I got the biggest kick out of it and I need to remember just for remembrance's sake. His facial hair really isn't this dark. I'm not going to tell you how he enhanced it, but it is enhanced.

Also, he's got a distinct white patch coming in behind both of his ears. I quite like it.

So there you go. Quite the load of information about things you never cared to know.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

new orleans museum of art

On Friday nights the NOMA is open late, and you can be entertained by a classical guitarist, some pretty fantastic art, and Chef Leah Chase (she's a 90-year-old NOLA cooking star).

For some reason we were under the impression that we would be receiving a full on dinner for freeeee! But, as you see in Michael's hand, our meal ended up being more of a taste testing of courtbouillon. Good, but not filling.

All of us agree that the NOMA is worth visiting, and you need a good long while (at least four hours, but we could've spent a lot more) if you want to see everything. One of the twenty original casts of The Age of Bronze by Rodin greets you at the top of the staircase (I was pretty excited--I definitely didn't know enough about art when I visited the Met in NY--art is much cooler when you know the history behind it). The top two floors have African, Asian, and Early American art. We almost missed them because we started on the bottom floor and worked up, but I would highly suggest starting up at the top and working down.

Once more I was confused by the modern art. Take a look at the bottom-left piece. The caption reads as follows:
Serenaded seashells, hm?

On a side note, I don't know how we still don't have any pictures of us with the Rich's. Also, the two pictures we took of Michael and I together have apparently been corrupted. I don't know what the deal is.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

hurricane isaac

1. The first LaPlace exit if you're heading north on I-10 from New Orleans. No, it's not supposed to be underwater.

2. Lots of fallen fences. Even concrete ones.

3. Power is still out for some people. That's over a week, people. You don't know how much you need it until it's gone for extended periods. Especially in the 94* with 90% humidity weather down here. Also, I just thought this sign was so redneck and awesome.

4. Jaime and Jason's street in LaPlace. This is Saturday, four days after the hurricane passed through. Their across-the-street neighbor had two feet of water.

5. Our apartment complex. The tree's hiding it, but that whole side of the building is covered by a tarp. This isn't our building. The worst we got is a water stain in one of the corners. Our friend Andy, though, wasn't so lucky. Half of his ceiling fell in and the outside walls are covered in black mildew spots. And he was on the second of three floors.

6. Every street is lined with ripped up carpet and ruined furniture and lots and lots of junk. This family (another neighbor of Jaime and Jason's) told us that the plywood board had been in the garage through all five of those enormous storms, and nothing had happened. Isaac ended their success story. 

7. When we walked into Jaime and Jason's house on Saturday morning, we couldn't really tell there was anything wrong, aside from a strong mildew scent. As soon as we stepped on the carpets and rugs, however, we knew they were in trouble. I left our hurricane preparedness plastic bag on the floor of their kitchen, and inside was our last working flashlight, filled with nasty water. Someone told us it was Category 3 water-- lake water, rain water, and sewage. Gross. 

8. Trees much larger than this fell everywhere, their most notorious location on top of houses. Enormous amounts of rain soaked the earth and then winds pulled trees six feet around straight out of the ground (okay, slanted). 

Everyone in Louisiana refers to before-Katrina and after-Katrina when speaking about time. Before Isaac I thought everyone was just making a huge deal out of a big deal. Obviously I still don't really understand, but this gave me a little better of an idea. After a storm like this, even just a Category 1 hurricane, things get chaotic. On Monday, we bought a $5.00 gallon of milk at Walmart, and there was no meat or eggs. When we drove into Kenner for the first time after the storm, nobody had power. That is an eerie feeling.
It just doesn't feel like real life.

our hurrica-tion

It's been a while. My parents keep saying that I need to update the blog because my grandmas keep calling them to see if we're alive. By now the word's pretty much all the way out... but Grandma Sharon and Grandma Gayle, we're safe! :)

Warnings started rolling in the night of Sunday, August 26th that Tropical Storm Isaac was making it's way toward New Orleans, and the chance of the winds increasing to a hurricane status was high. Michael's boss texted him and told him the plant was shutting down and if we were going to leave, leave early to beat the traffic. I freaked out a little. But it was exciting. So I was running around in a half-panic, half-thrilled mode trying to round up all our hurricane-preparedness items, which consisted of a pack of jerky, three boxes of granola bars, and a 24-pack of water. After a game of Clue with the Hall's, the Rich's, and Andy, it was decided that we would spend the night at the Rich's, and they would generously allow us to accompany them to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where Jaime's parents live. Our little car would hold the fort down in LaPlace.

To beat traffic, we woke up at 6 and were on our way. At about 7 I realized I hadn't told my boss yet that I wasn't coming in to work for a couple of days. I texted him. Probably not the best idea, but our first crisis was averted.

I wish I had more to tell you about our hurrica-tion. We were at the Hardwick home for six days and we did little more than eat, sleep, watch the news, read books, and play card games. But seriously. I was going to do a day-by-day breakdown, but there wasn't much going on.

Hurricane Isaac finally hit land on Tuesday night. It moved so slowly, and pushed all the water from Lake Pontchartrain to areas that had never been flooded before. The hurrica-tion turned a little panic-y when we heard about people being rescued by boat from Jaime and Jason's subdivision. But there was nothing to do but wait and watch. 

On Friday, Jaime and I finally went stir crazy and went to Walmart, where we bought one gallon of milk and three Sinful Colors nail polishes. When we got back, the boys were finally stir crazy, too, so we went to Raising Cane's for lunch and then headed to Hudson's. Jaime and I tried on bikinis. And with the total cost for a way cute Roxy one being only $1.29... don't be ashamed, Mom, but I bought it. You were right, I feel too guilty to even wear it. But we both got cute dresses for under ten bucks! I just kept thinking that Heather G would love this place.
Saturday dawned, and the water had gone down enough in Jaime and Jason's subdivision that we could get to it by truck. We arrived in LaPlace around 2PM, I think, and the water had gone down significantly. The damage deserves a whole post of it's own. It'll come next. The rest of the day was spent taking lots of pictures, moving everything out the rooms, and ripping up carpet.

By the end of it all, we had been with Jaime and Jason and Keaton for at least three hours every day for the past eleven days. And we weren't even sick of them :) This means we're real life friends, and officially Aunt Aly and Uncle Michael.

Michael's self-imposed uncle-ness has finally rubbed off on someone for good! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

our first new orleans sleepover

We don't know how it happened.

Singh and Palovi invite us to go to dinner at Nirvana, a hopping Indian restaurant down in New Orleans. We accept at 7:30, walk out the door at 7:45, lock it at 7:46, hop into their car at 7:47, and at 7:48 our keys are missing. Between our door and the car, they keys have magically disappeared. (I don't know what it is with us and missing keys).

We look for them for about thirty minutes, and in that time have three people try to help us:

First. Man in a suit walks by and tells Michael his fail-proof plan (apparently he loses things and finds them all the time): think of the last place you know you had it. We already tried this, and we tell him so. They are not in the lock of our door. He repeats the advice, and walks away.

Second. George the Greek tells me to pull out my phone. I do so. He then recites a number three times and tells me to call it; apparently they'll come unlock my door for $50. Thanks, but no thanks, George. He proceeds to tell me about his fail-proof plan: he always keeps his keys on a lanyard around his neck (it also carries a whistle for special occasions). He also has an extra set stored in his car and in his house. He then says this same exact thing to Michael. He just really badly wants me to call the number.

Third. Jennifer from the floor below us is walking by with groceries, and returns with a flashlight--ah, blessed relief. Real help. But still, no luck.

The buffet at Nirvana closes at 9:00 and Singh is getting anxious about missing out on that deal, so we leave without our keys. The curry is delicious, as is the mango yogurt stuff (sorry, no good with Indian names), but enjoying it is a little difficult as I worry first about our keys and then about where we're going to stay tonight.

Drive home, look for keys, but they are nowhere to be found.

Luckily, Singh and Palovi live next door. And they're really generous. And they offer us their floor, a sleeping bag, and a blanket.

The office managers come in at 8:00 AM, but all of Michael's stuff for work is in our mysteriously locked apartment, so he texts his ride and says he won't be going to work until later.

A restless night in jeans ensues.

7:00 AM we're out looking again, hoping the sun will make those dern keys magically appear.

Singh's leaving for work at 7:15, so we check his car one more time. Michael emerges from the car victorious; the keys have magically appeared between the seat and the seat belt buckle.

I'm not sure what that was all about or why it all happened, but it sure does make for a good blog post.

It just better not happen again.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

we've got a cockroach...

Meet our cockroach.

We've seen him three times, all three sightings were at night when it was dark and hot in the apartment and we were getting home from some adventure. Flip on the light switch in the kitchen, and there he is.

Michael's tried to catch him with a cup, but those little creepers are fast. That's where my bruise comes from. I was observing Michael's catching progress, and suddenly that thing sprang at me. I screamed, turned, and ran right into one of our seriously heavy metal chairs. Keep in mind, the photo you're seeing was taken days after the actual occurrence. Roaches are large and terrifying.

We bought a trap when we had spiders in our Provo apartment, and it says it's supposed to catch roaches too, but so far, no luck. He's still hiding behind our dishwasher.

This means we're in Louisiana.

Monday, August 20, 2012

i love to see the temple

Last Sunday we tried to teach the Sunbeams about the temple. Sister McCready was out of town, so we had all of them. There were only six, but when the three most rowdy ones don't speak English, it gets really difficult to actually say anything except "Stop it. Don't touch her. Sit down. Now."

These children were jumping off their chairs and then throwing them, then chasing each other around the room, all the while screaming at the top of their lungs. Let's just say the lesson was one of the least effective we've ever taught.

Finally, we bribed them with saltines to sit around me on the floor and tried to fit our whole lesson into this 30-second time span before they went crazy again. "Be reverent for one second and then you can have a cracker," and then, with haste, "The temple is a sacred place, where you wear white and get married and do service. Have a stinking cracker."

We ended up tired and frustrated. I wanted so badly to tell them what I love about the temple, but I didn't do it very effectively. So, if I had the chance again, I'd say a version of this that four-year-olds could understand:

I've said it a million times already, but the Church is so comforting when I'm far away from what I call my home. No matter where I go, it's the exact same, and always will be.

The Friday before our insane lesson, we drove up to the Baton Rouge temple to do an endowment session. It's a tiny temple, at least compared to what I'm used to, with only three sessions a day. It had been a couple of months since we'd last been, and I was reminded again what a precious gift temples can be to those who attend. Not because of their beauty, but because of the covenants and ordinances made and service done inside.

When I go in wanting to learn, I learn. And even though I still have many questions, maybe even concerns, about what is said and done in the temple, I still feel an overwhelming peace that comes from knowing that even if I don't understand, this is correct, this is truth.

This is a simple truth that I know.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

it's been raining

For the past 72 hours. Pretty much straight through.

We woke up at 8:00 this morning to this.
We've been doing a lot of this.
And snuggling and looking at each other with wide eyes every time lightning strikes right next to our house.

And we're not sure we're safe, but it's sure cool. 

first anniversary celebration

We celebrated for real on Friday night by spending way too much money at Cafe Adelaide in downtown New Orleans. Probably the best meal either of us have ever encountered. Michael's coworker has been raving about it for weeks now, so it was pretty much decided for us. We made our reservations online and under the "Special Instructions" Michael just had to put "It's our first anniversary!"

We arrived to the restaurant early, so we walked around the block and came upon this: the Italian-American Cultural Center. Not sure what it's for, but the mix of modern and classical architecture made for interesting cultural conversation.

Someday I will tell the story of our awkward restaurant experience on our honeymoon. But we had another one of those during our anniversary celebration, so now it's tradition. The waiter brought out two tiny little cups full of gazpacho, "a gift from the kitchen," he called it. We'd never heard of gazpacho, and because the cups were so small we thought maybe it was something alcoholic, like shots, maybe. We were afraid to drink it after I stuck my finger in and it burned my mouth, so we texted my parents to make sure it was alright, but my dad didn't respond in time. Michael finally just asked the waiter (I'm so lucky to have an outgoing spouse), "We don't drink, so we were just wondering if these had any alcohol in it." He looked at us like we were really odd and said, "Um, no. It's watermelon tomato soup." And he's never had anyone ask him that question before, surprise, surprise.

Back to the meal. Michael ordered Muscovy duck (with thinly sliced crunchy carrots and some really good bread-y something on the bottom), and I had scallops with crab, bacon, corn, and grits. We both loved Michael's choice, but I wouldn't order my dish again, though it was yummy. Grinding grits against my teeth just wasn't what I was expecting. For dessert we had White Chocolate Biscuit Pudding with the perfect amount of root beer flavoring.

Afterwards we walked around a seemingly deserted French Quarter (we assume they were all at the Saint's game... but really, it was weird and empty. Fellow Louisianans, is it always like that?) and didn't have any cash to tip our parking valet (and yes, I just said that with the "t" because that's what they do at Downton).

Also, it's been raining nonstop for the past couple of days. And this is the only picture we've got of us together from this weekend. Enjoy!

Friday, August 17, 2012

august 16, 2011

We are the two most indecisive people in the world. It comes from trying to decide between frugality and fun. When Michael woke up we discussed the pros and cons of going out to dinner both Thursday and Friday night, just because we could, and because we were going to save money by not going to a hotel in New Orleans. This lasted until 8:00, when we finally decided we'd stay home and go out Friday night. Our night consisted of flowers, chocolates, an Izze drink from our luncheon (our cake was too good and all got eaten!), homemade chicken artichoke pizza, and reminiscing on the past year. Not a bad way to celebrate, all in all.

Our thoughts on the past year are these:
Has it really been a whole year? It can't have been that long...
We sure do love each other, though.
And if the first year's the hardest, we're going to have it pretty cushy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

mari and flowers.

It's our anniversary. Michael's sleeping because he didn't feel very good when he got home from work this evening. Hmmm... I have filled my blog- and Facebook-stalking quota for the day, and read a chapter or two from Chaos (you can only take so much in one sitting. Interesting and well-written, but dense), and I can't practice the cello because I can't go to another room. So blogging it is. Funny how the thing I enjoy is put on the very last of my to-do list.

I was driving away from work this afternoon when I got a call from Michael saying I needed to go back to work. A man with a hat in a truck was supposed to arrive at work "no later than 5:00," he said.

It was 2:00.

So I sat there for a half hour and tried to call my mom, my dad, Davis, Addie, Quinci, and finally reached Sierra. However, Michael called again to ensure that the man with a hat in a truck had not arrived yet, and Sierra was on hold for a good ten minutes.

The man with a hat in a truck had left St. Rose at 5:45 this morning, so Michael assumed that he must've been able to reach my work in Metairie by 2:00. He didn't. So I went home after leaving instructions with Mari (pronounced "Mary") at the front desk to call me if a surprise package came with my name on it. Mari guessed that the surprise would be a stripper. Uh... heh heh heh...

Sierra and I chatted for a good while on my way home, and I finished dishes, cleaned up the house, and tried to find a good deal at a fancy restaurant for dinner this evening. At 3:30 I got the call from Mari. A package had arrived. "And you better come get it," she said, "He'll be sad if you don't. These things are not cheap." On the twenty minute drive back to work, my dad called.

I opened the door, and Mari pointed to the big green package with a grin and told me, "I was going to open it, but I didn't want to ruin the surprise for you." Out came twelve lovely roses and a box of chocolates--the good kind. Mari winked at me, and with that smoky voice of hers that makes me smile said, "Have a romantic weekend."

We will, Mari, don't you worry. As soon as Michael wakes up :)

He's up! He's up! Let the romance begin.

Friday, August 10, 2012

a key-less, phone-less wednesday

As I was walking out the door to go to work at 8:32 Wednesday morning, I realized I didn't have my keys. I panicked slightly, then laughed and kept looking. And panicked a lot more when I realized I couldn't find them. For real. They were gone. I knew exactly where they were. Tuesday night I was playing the piano at the church and they were sitting on top of the piano in the Relief Society room.

I'm supposed to be at work at 9:00, but at 9:00 on Wednesday, I was still tearing my house apart, praying that Heavenly Father would make my keys appear under my bed or in an unknown corner of my bite-sized purse. But that miracle was not meant to be that day.

I called Lauren, who lives at least twenty minutes away, to see if she could come take to me to work. She and her husband had just sat down at a restaurant to get breakfast; however, the kind soul said she'd come pick me up and JJ would wait for the food, and they'd eat it at work.

While I waited, I called my dad so I wouldn't cry. But they're on their way to a family reunion at Island Park with a boat and fun cousins, and I wasn't much in the mood for laughing. So I cried a little. And went to go get a key from management so I could at least lock the apartment.

What an angel Lauren was. She picked me up and chatted with me on our twenty-five minute drive back to where she had just come from. I got out of the car, walked upstairs, she drove away, and I realized that my phone had fallen out of my back pocket and onto the seat of her car. But she was long gone.

Let's just say work was less than 100% productive. I was too ashamed and prideful to just call Lauren and ask her to bring my phone to me on her lunch break, so I finally emailed Michael and told him I would be walking to the church, and he could come get me when he got home from work. I suppose I didn't really understand how far of a walk that would be. But at least it was sprinkling, not pouring, and not 120*.

I was almost to East Jefferson General Hospital, about twenty-five minutes into my little jaunt (and about a third of the way to the church), when I heard a honk, and saw Lauren's cute little red Mini Cooper pull into a parking lot behind me. Shaking my head with embarrassment, I got into the car and she said, "I can't believe you tried to walk to the church. That is so far!"

She followed that with, "You've had a long day. You need a treat," and we flew off to Tutti Frutti, where I drowned my embarrassment in Cake Batter and Red Velvet Cake frozen yogurt with cookie dough bits and white chocolate chips and Snickers bars.

We just talked. It's been a long while since I've just chatted with a girlfriend. She drove me home and told me to have Michael give me a foot massage.

Michael got home and said, "You've had a long day. You need dinner." So off we went to Raising Cane's, the Korean store (hooray! kimchi!), and to get my keys.

That was a long day. I owe Lauren fifteen bucks in gas and twenty for interrupting her and JJ's breakfast. But I got frozen yogurt, Raising Cane's, lots of hugs and kisses, and a friend out of it.

All in all, a successful day.

Monday, August 6, 2012

how to make this week the best week ever.

First. One hour of computer time per day. That includes all stalking and blogging and email checking.

Second. Thirty minutes of scripture study.  At least fifteen by myself in the morning, and fifteen with Michael at night.

Third. Find one person besides Michael to serve every day.

Four. Make five real meals. PastaRoni doesn't count.

Five. Apartment clean and cello practiced before getting on the computer.

Six. Prepare myself to go to the Baton Rouge temple on Friday or Saturday (we haven't been in so long, and we're excited to see Alexa and Kyle).

Seven. Some kind of physical activity (running or swimming or biking) at least three times.

Last night while we were falling asleep, Michael asked me how I was going to make this next week the best week ever. He quickly amended it to "a really good week" (cause how can you beat getting married and all that good stuff?), but shoot for the stars, right? The above plan may seem a little wimpy, but I know it will push me just enough.

Thing #1 I've learned about myself: If I don't have a plan, I will end up doing nothing.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

oh, the joys of technology

Grandma and Grandpa Rutter showed up to my parent's house while we were Skyping this evening. The following photo sequence explains my grandpa's reaction to the fact that he not only can see us, but himself in the little photo in the corner.
Captions go as follows: 
[First.] "Wait! Is that me in the corner?"
[Second.] "How about that."
[Third.] "It looks like I fell in a foxhole! I look terrible."

Hilarious, but false. He is the most spry 80-year-old I've ever seen. 

Also, please giggle along with me regarding my grandma's reaction in the final photo. I sure do love those two.

this is how i know we're not ready to have kids

Michael's ideas for boys names...
Our two favorite heroes.

But really... Dieter Davis?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

another lazy weekend

Friday we woke up to another rainy day. Michael ran to work for a couple of hours, and I cleaned our little apartment. Hallelujah (once again) for no-work (and four-hour) Fridays! Michael got home and we prepared to finally get to the bank. At which point it began, once again, to pour. So we read Lord of the Rings and made some lunch. When the rain finally let up a little bit, we ran to the bank, where we met Collin, a Californian who has been living here for 20 years and has become a Saints fan (it's literally impossible to live here for more than a month or two during football season and not).

Interesting fact: the first weekend of August, most things (not including food and entertainment) are state tax free. When Jaime told me about this on Thursday night, I couldn't sleep because of all the things I wanted to buy... a new swimsuit... new shoes... a sun hat... cologne for Michael... So after the bank, we went to the mall in hopes of spending my birthday money. We came away with nothing but milk and a can of spaghetti sauce to take over to the Hall's for dinner later that evening (both of which we had to pay tax on).

Jasmine and David invited us over to have dinner and watch some Olympics. Jasmine just had a baby. And she fed us dinner. I felt like a mooch. However, we had a lovely time with them and the Rich's. And I can't get enough of their sleepy little baby.

We woke up at 7:30 this morning to another crazy thunderstorm. I made french toast and eggs with buttermilk syrup and Michael made a fruit smoothie. We had great plans to go to the WWII museum, but we happened to not get out of bed until it was too late. But we had to do something. So we watched more Olympics. We have watched at least sections of the following: soccer, speed walking (it's as awesome as it sounds), synchronized diving, men's team gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, beach volleyball, fencing, swimming, handball, and table tennis. And yes, we spent way too much watching.

Our last effort to get out of the house was swimming. Michael scraped his elbows on the bottom of the pool on his first attempt at practicing his entry at the shot. And we were interrupted by a large family. So we headed over to another pool, where we swam laps like Phelps and sang songs to each other underwater until a couple of teenagers crashed our party.

I probably need to stop posting about food, but tonight we made some seriously awesome Italian Potato-Sausage Soup from Our Best Bites. We owe our obsession to Christina, who first introduced us. You can find the recipe here.

Next week we'll finally do some planning and go do something touristy on Saturday. But for now, I'm not complaining about our perfectly lazy weekend.

chocolate chip cookie-mint ice cream sandwich

I'm not sure what happened. Somehow Michael got all the good baking genes. Everything he makes turns out perfectly. 

For example: my aunt Deena's chocolate chip cookies. Every time I make them, something goes horribly wrong, like forgetting an important ingredient. Or if things go well, I leave them in the oven too long.

He made them, and they were just like hers. And then he put Blue Bell Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream between them. And they are heaven. 

Just don't ask how many cookies and how much ice cream we've had in the last week.

Friday, August 3, 2012

paradise point.

We went on a walk last night while our laundry was drying. I had wanted to go swimming because it was so roasty outside, but the pool outside of our building is kinda sketchy. Mostly because there are no lights, and who knows what might be swimming around out there in that water (see photo evidence below). Feeling kinda bummed that we haven't used the pool at all, we set off on an adventurous walk. And not 200 steps away, we found another pool. Well lit (or more well lit), clean, and perfect for a night swim. 

It was somewhat of a shock. Just behind the building across the street was exactly what we were looking for. And our pool key works for that pool, too! (We had a little scare when we first got there, but the key just needed a little wiggling.)

In the midst of our astonishment, Michael said, "We pretty much live at Paradise Point!" We spent our lovely honeymoon at Paradise Point in the lovely San Diego, and Michael talks about that place quite often. Michael didn't pack a swimsuit on our honeymoon, however, so we never got to use the pools (the swimsuits in the gift shop were like sixty bucks, and we all know how frugal Michael is... no swimming for us). But here we are. And Michael has a swimsuit. 

And suddenly, we're living at a luxury resort.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

since the last time we talked...

See if you can match the photo to the story...

We went to work out in City Park with one of my coworkers and her husband. Then we threw a frisbee around and explored the many antique shops of the French Quarter. Next up, a catfish po-boy while we listened to some smooth jazz. I felt weird wearing a tank top and no g's. But we had a lovely afternoon.

Also, we were sore for the next week. Michael's hamstrings, my shoulders and butt.

We were invited to a special viewing of brand new baby Isabella (the little sister of this little hooligan). She's simply lovely. 

It's rained quite a bit. The drainage people that work for the parish have plenty of work on their hands (yes, there is a drainage division. I drive past it on my way to cello).

Speaking of cello, I've had three lessons so far. I can play the first 34 songs in my book! The fact that they are four measures each is beside the point. Also, my Romanian teacher Simona has made me realize how big of a stress case I am. "Relax your shoulders," she says. It's much harder than it sounds, being a stress case like myself.

We taught two lessons to a bunch of rowdy Sunbeams. I feel like nothing's getting through while little Briton shoots guns at everyone and Peter makes crazy faces. Sitting in a circle may have seemed like a good idea, but as it turns out the Sunbeams just love to watch each other instead of the teacher. I was exhausted.

We celebrated the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics with Jaime, Jason, and Keaton with international cuisine (Korean bulgogi and Mexican burrito-y things and American watermelon and ice cream torches for dessert).

Michael plays basketball on Wednesday with some guys from the ward and a bunch of investigators. It's a hot and sweaty time. We met Kris & Bo (oh, the joys of being in Sunbeams where you don't meet any of the new people) who are newlyweds, too! Hooray for more fun friends!

Michael went to Batman Begins without me. Granted, he would have let me come if the guys in the ward hadn't insisted that it was a viewing only for men. But Michael needed someone to talk with about it...

So, we went again. We chose to go at 1:45 on Saturday afternoon and decided we needed to get there early so that we could get a good seat. I mean, it's only the second weekend and the tickets were only six bucks, which is a steal in a town where the movies are at least $11. So we, along with Andy, got there 30 minutes early. And were the only ones there. Granted, the movie theater was sketchy. And the guy taking our tickets was awkward (he apparently really likes Korean pop bands... Michael was wearing his I[heart]Korea shirt). The movie itself was entertaining, at least enough to sit through all almost-three hours of it and actually enjoy it. Of course, as in most superhero movies, there were things we couldn't quite believe (thanks to Andy for pointing out that taking a section out of a suspension bridge just doesn't work), but we were happy with the result.

We've chatted with family. I love it. And Michael's learning to ;)

We enjoyed more catfish when we went to dinner at Zeke's with Lauren & JJ and Kris & Bo. They kindly let us eat off their appetizers and desserts (fried bell pepper rings and Oreo beignets and pineapple upside-down cake). Pretty much, we owe them big time. Then, we decided it would be fun to go down to the Quarter to listen to some jazz or throw some darts. Darts, it was, except for that you have to be 21 to get into the clubs. . . . . . . awkward. Thus, by default, jazz it was. . . . . . . except you have to pay to get in with cash. And Michael and I both are notorious for never having any cash. So, we went home while the other four went to party. I've never felt like such a baby.

We've eaten at least two pounds of asparagus. Also, we made our first roast. And it's been feeding us since Sunday.

Michael made some killer cookies with my aunt Deena's recipe. Then he put our new favorite flavor of Blue Bell between two of them and made a mean ice cream cookie sandwich. However, our freezer was not cold enough to make the ice cream hard enough to make the ice cream cookie sandwich stay intact when you bit down upon it. So the freezer, and by extension the fridge, were turned down to the lowest. Which led to frozen and cracked eggs this morning when I went to make breakfast.

We threw a frisbee out on the levee with a fantastic sunset in the background. I threw the frisbee over the barbed wire fence that separates us from the water. But luckily, I was small enough to fit through the hole in the fence. Don't worry, I arrived home safely, but it's scary over there, close to the water.

We've played a couple of rounds of one-on-one Clue and UNO.

We've learned a lot about ourselves and each other and us as a couple. More on that to come.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

this week...

We had FHE with the Rich's and the Hall's. Spoons and Scattergories followed. And the boys are planning to go see The Dark Knight without the girls on Saturday night. Michael and I are a little depressed that girls aren't allowed.

I forgot to take pictures of everything. I apologize for another picture-less post.

We borrowed a bunch of movies from Jaime and Jason after last week's episode of the Bachelorette. Last night we were up until midnight because we just HAD to see the end of GI Joe. I am of the opinion that no matter how good looking he is, Channing Tatum is and always has been a terrible actor (except we all liked him in She's the Man, admittedly).

I won Tuesday night's game of Clue. Michael & Andy didn't even see it coming. Yesssss.

When Zack Morey asked for our address we were sure they were going to send us something announcing they were going to have a baby. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Apparently a thank you card from their wedding is on its way :)

I have avoided doing dishes. Which makes wanting to be in our very small kitchen very unappealing. And thus the vicious cycle continues.

Michael has seen many many turtles at work. He thinks it's real cool.

I had my first cello lesson. And discovered that the thirty-minute long variety are good for children who have no attention span, but not as helpful for a girl who really wants to learn and to learn fast. Simona (she's from Romania) taught me how to hold the bow. That's what I'm working on this week. It's harder than one might think to practice very little more than holding a bow for an hour every day. 

More Blue Bell Ice Cream. Hehe... This week's variety: Cookies & Cream.

 Work was much better. I'm getting better at making calls (averaging 12 calls per hour... which seems real pathetic) and have actually talked to some interested people. However, I will never ever complain about having only a twenty hour work week and a three day weekend.

It's been stormy. Lots of rain. Lots of lightning. And lots of white-knuckle driving while lightning flashes across the sky in ways I've never witnessed in real life.

Gas prices have gone from $3.06 to $3.30 per gallon (that may be an exaggeration, but only slightly). I have an inkling that prices go up when it starts to get stormy because people start freaking out and making sure they have gas (like me). I'm patiently waiting for the price to go back down.

We've been preparing for a Sunbeam class without the fantastic Sister McCready. As well as for talks on Sunday. They told us we could talk about whatever we want. I'm the one who doesn't make decisions, so... eek!

I talked with my dear cousin Sierra for an hour while I went grocery shopping. It was an exceedingly pleasant shopping trip, if I do say so myself. 

We found out some exciting news that I probably shouldn't share until they've shared it on Facebook. But I screamed and I was mad that Michael wasn't as excited as I was.

I spoke to my dear sister-in-law Elise while I drove to watch the Bachelorette. I said, "Haaaiiiiii!" in that really excited drawn out sort of way. Don't worry, I just said it again to myself in our empty apartment to see if there was any other way to spell it. There's not.

We spent most of the afternoons and evenings in our underwear, unless we went somewhere or have company. Is that too much information? Probably. It's just so dern hot around here, even when it's raining. Especially when you're trying to save on an ever-increasing electricity bill.

I braved the weather to go watch the Bachelorette: The Men Tell All at Jaime & Jason's. A quick opinion: Chris just needs to stop being so snotty. Actually he could just stop speaking at all. And Sean, he's just sweet. Also, I've been thinking about praying for Emily to make the right decision. And by right decision I mean picking Jef.

During commercials, I helped Jaime get her blog up and going. And by help I mean telling her to go to to create a collage and then watching her figure out what she wanted to put on the side bar.

I received a small package in the mail from my mom. The annual Shuler Girl's Weekend took place last week and she bought me an owl necklace. I wore it two days ago.

We kissed a lot. Muahahahaha! 

I missed my family (when I say family, I include my family-in-law, just to let you know). Both sides went camping recently and I sure wish I could've been there for both occasions (both were up Payson Canyon also, which is pretty close to my favorite place in the world).

He's home!! Better go play with him, or he gets a little whiny ;)
I kinda like it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

a lesson on driving

Good afternoon, everyone. Given a recent ticket we received in the mail, I thought I'd give you all a short lesson on driving in Louisiana.

First and foremost. We just got a ticket in the mail. Actually, my parents got a ticket in the mail, which they then forwarded on to us. I shall draw you a picture. It's that important. (Forgive my amateur Paint skills.)

On big roads, there are two stoplights in a row, with space for about three cars before you get in the way of perpendicular traffic (because of the one-way freaky roads, which I will talk about later). This is new to us Utah/Idaho drivers. Depending on the intersection, these lights turn yellow at approximately the same time.

As Utah/Idaho drivers, we want to make it through that yellow light. So we speed up. We have successfully made it through the first yellow light. But now we have a second yellow light that is like unto a ticking time bomb. Instincts tell us Utah/Idaho drivers that stopping in the middle of an intersection is deadly. So we continue to speed up. And consequently run that second red light. Specifically, a red light that had a camera watching it. Which landed us with a big, fat ticket. Shoot.

Second. I mentioned this earlier. Most roads are one-way streets. The big ones have canals running between the lanes of oncoming traffic. Watch for those one-way street signs. They will save your life. Or make you have a heart attack as you realize you have turned into oncoming traffic. One of the two.

Third. Because of the above, be prepared to make many u-turns. In Old Metairie where we stayed for the first week of our adventures, there are rarely left turns. You go through the intersection and make a u-turn, then turn right.

Fourth.There are eight-way stops. Like a four-way stop, but with two lanes coming from each direction. If everyone's going straight, usually everything's fine. Blinkers are a must, however, if you are not going straight.

Fifth. The roads are horrible awful. Potholes, bumpy, random bumps that I'm sure will one day pop my tire. Pretty much like that one road in American Fork that everybody tries to avoid. But all over the place. However, I have found with the recent torrential downpour that bad roads make for pretty awesome puddles. Careful, though. Going through large puddles at decent speeds may cause some problems with sight. We learned that the first day we were here.

Sixth. Road names are interesting. I was going to say unique, but that's actually the issue here. There are variations of names, i.e. Cleveland Place and Cleveland Lane. And names of cities as names of roads, like Metairie Drive and Houma Boulevard. Make sure you get the right one. Also many roads are named after universities, such as Ole Miss, or states, like Alabama. My most favorite road to drive past is Incarnate Word Drive. I want to live there someday just so I can put that address on letters.

That is all for now, class. Thank you for your attention.

friday, saturday, sunday, monday, tuesday, wednesday. pretty much the past week

I've been a slacker. I'm going to say it's because I'm working and when I'm not working I'm playing with Michael. Now Michael's been put in charge of the basketball night for investigators on Wednesdays, so here I am with time on my hands.


After work (which was slightly better than Thursday) and making some not-so-great homemade pizza, we watched this little hoot. Oh my goodness I love that laugh (sometimes it verges on sounding villainous, which is even more hilarious).

She was seriously like this for the whole two hours before we put her to bed.

David & Jasmine, we think you guys do pretty good (and they're having another little girl in just a couple of weeks! We're so excited to meet little Bella.)

When David & Jasmine got home we got to chat with them for a while. David served his mission in New Caledonia and has some pretty sweet stories to tell about living in huts. They also have pretty good taste in tv shows. We like 'em :)

We got up earlier than usual (I won't tell you what time that is...) and went over to teach a lesson with the Sisters. The appointments they were planning on fell through, so we went knocking on doors and had two really great lessons. Nesrin and her children came to church on Sunday!

Later we went over to Jaime and Jason's. Woohoo! What a house! We're real excited for them and their 10-foot ceilings and king-sized bed ;). They fed us some serious fried rice and easy apple pies and we played Scattergories. Jaime, you're going to have to help me out with the favorites of the night. My memory isn't what it used to be. Come to think of it, my memory never really was all that great. Also, I have a tendency to write down very random things and then before revealing what I wrote giving a detailed justification (but hey, the jury usually voted yes).

We finally met our little Sunbeam class. There were eight 4- and 5-year-olds. Luckily Sister McCready is also in there with us and kept the kids mostly entertained with lots of songs and "sit down"s. We talked about feelings. Daniel can make a mean sad face :) It is a little insane, but I'm excited. I think Michael will need a little convincing, though. Understandably, it's a little difficult to understand our purpose with kids just running around like chickens with their heads cut off. (I love that phrase. It reminds me of 6th grade.)

Joshua came over and we introduced him to Clue. Good times. I love winning. Muahahaha.

And we made jambalaya. It was a success, aside from the very Italian sausage and Italian tomatoes that I bought. It was pretty much Italian jambalaya. A different flavor, but at least we ate it for approximately... three meals.

I'm still not used to making cold calls. Sweet Nicole (a new account executive) noticed I was struggling a little bit and lent me her book Red-Hot Cold Call Selling. I'm getting a little bit better, and I actually got two decent leads. Maybe I'll write a book about it.

We went back over to Jaime and Jason's. They fed us again. Corn and crab bisque this time. With biscuits. And chocolate chip cookies. Wow. And then we watched the Bachelorette. Let's just not even talk about it. Ok... I'll talk. I can't tell you how upset we were about her decision to keep Arie, who is simply her makeout buddy (of course that's only what I can tell from the reality tv edit... but still). Sean was a much better choice. I'm lucky to have Michael who commiserated with me the whole way home. Hey, he was upset too.

I rewrote the calling script after being accused of exaggerating the truth in order to catch people's attention. Hey, man, I didn't write it. And I understand that you're a very particular person and don't appreciate people trying to take advantage of you. But I'm not the kind of person who would be trying to do that. Have a good day.

More minor details: I filled our car up with gas and our tires up with air (they have a credit card operated air machine at Discount Zone! This was wonderful news for my dwindling stash of ONLY-FOR-LAUNDRY quarters. We always run out right when we need them the most.) and went to Walmart. And bought more Blue Bell Ice Cream. This week's variety, Red Velvet Cake. 

Another day of not exceedingly successful cold calls. My computer did not want to cooperate with me... the dreaded blue screen (I just turned the computer off and it never came back... I hope that's alright), frozen completely, and a new CPU with files on old computer. We finally got it figured out, but it was a rough one.

It was raining on my drive home from work. P.S. It rains a lot here. Like pours. A lot. Seriously. Sunday afternoon a flash and boom of lightning/thunder pretty much struck our apartment. I have never been so close to it in my life. I jumped pretty good. And so did Michael. Anyway, the rain makes me pensive. And suddenly I was thinking about home. And then I read this post by Mallory. She always knows what to say and how to say it. Some of the people that I care the most about are the ones I hardly ever communicate with, including her. Once I get my thoughts together, maybe I'll put them in a post, but right now they're still jumbled in my head. This whole pensive thing is making my head spin.

Sorry about the long, random post. But this is what we're doing down here in Louisiana.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

blue bell ice cream & cold calls & independence day

The past few days...

We've spent a lot of time eating this.

Happy Tracks by Blue Bell Ice Cream.

I've heard rave reviews from the ward ladies during Bachelorette night (go Jef!), so when I saw it at Walmart, and that it was only 2 cents more per ounce than the Great Value brand, I caved. But as we were picking it out, I did say (and Michael can back me up on this) that maybe we shouldn't get this kind until our last week here or something, because apparently we'll never want to go back to any other brand.

It's truth. I'll never go back. I drool over the creamy, chocolate-filled goodness. And sneak little bites throughout the day.

(Also, please notice there are scriptures on the table behind. We actually do scripture study around here too! Not just eating...)

Tuesday, Michael got off early. Just in time to take me over to my first day with Unishippers. I learned all about the company... or at least enough to make me not sound completely inept over the phone.

Anyway, on our way over we saw this.

Yes, a foot. A fake foot, but a foot with blood all over it, nonetheless. 

(License plate blotted out to protect the insane and murderous.)

Before going on, just a quick note about my first day of cold calls. It was rough. Without any training and having never done cold calls in my entire life, I was pretty much left with a short script, a list of businesses, the advice to "don't sound like you're reading a script," and my own devices. Four hours and fifty calls later and I have one person who seems really interested.

Ouch. I cried a little bit. And considered calling up Celeste at Old Navy and begging for my job that I had for a whole 27 hours back. But Michael has convinced me that this is just what I need. Deep breaths.

Aaaaand... I've spent the last two hours googling "how to make cold calls." No but really. Please see the below screen shot:
Anyway, last night was lovely. David & Jasmine Hall had us over again for barbeque (um, ohmygosh we don't know how we got on their list of peeps, but please never take us off!! ;)). Please see the picture for a taste of the extravaganza they created for us. That was Michael's first plate. He went back for fourths. It was amazing. There were all kinds of cuts of pork and chicken and hot dogs and bratwursts and links. "WOWOWOWOW," as Michael has got me into saying. 
Oh, and Tuesday night we went to St. Charles to report on the Independence Day bash there. Michael interviewed people (I know, I know, that's supposed to be my job. But he's just so dern good at getting people to open up) and I snapped some photos. 

Oh, and I miss these guys. Thank heaven for Skype. 

Miss you.

Monday, July 2, 2012

five jobs and last week.

Well, prayers have been answered! I've now got five part-time jobs. Let's just hope the scheduling works out better than I keep imagining it will be.  

{Job #1} Writing for the L'Observateur. I'll be writing about the St. Charles Parish 4th of July celebration next. But the celebration's on the 3rd. Which is nice for people like me (we're headed to a couple of ward barbecues on the 4th. Watch for pictures!)

{Job #2} Calling and giving phone surveys to companies for Unishippers. Training starts tomorrow.

{Job #3} Old Navy sales associate. Orientation's today at 1:00.

{Job #4} His name's Steve and he's living in Qatar managing an oil rig. And he's sending me money to pick things up at Walmart for him. And then I'll send it to Qatar. This also starts tomorrow... hehehe... Still not quite sure what to make of this. Hoping it's not a scam.

{Job #5} eBay and Lingotek. It's a little hard to explain. Pretty much going through spreadsheets and making sure the translation software did grammar and capitalization and such correctly.

And this past week...

I've been helping Jaime move. I'm so excited for her new house! It's really quite lovely... Though of course it's a little hard to know she's no longer just 3 minutes away and in a different ward. But that's probably good for me; I actually went and sat by and introduced myself to someone that I didn't know at church yesterday. But I was over there almost every day last week. When Jaime heard that Michael and I play Hand and Foot too, she just about lost it. So we took them soup and played into the wee hours of the night.

Friday night, Michael was able to talk to an old investigator in Korea over Skype. He loved it. And he's been studying Korean for about an hour a day (using Now it's time for me to get on it if he's going to be a mission president... ;)

I went to a Relief Society activity. Of course there are always fun things planned, but then everyone just wants to sit around and talk. With two seven-week-old babies in the room, and a baby due any day, of course at least half the talk was about breastfeeding and childbirth. It just happens. Also, Emily loves Provo and misses Cafe Rio desperately. Did you know Louisiana does not have any Mexican restaurants? We're missing the pulled pork salads and burritos right now. And the Creamery.

When we pulled up to our house, Joshua (an investigator who has been over to our apartment with the missionaries a couple of times) was out there waiting for us wanting to take us out to lunch. Unfortunately, we don't go out on Sundays, so he decided to make something for us! Apparently he went to culinary school, so he went all out... chicken and onions and carrots and rice. Then he stayed. And ate all of our peanut butter bars. And stayed. And stayed. :)

And we've watched this... four times. Michael thinks it's hilarious. And, admittedly, I laugh, too. (There's a little language.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

children's museum & the man at the gas station

The Bayou at the LA Children's Museum

Today I went with Jaime and Keaton to the Louisiana Children's Museum. I didn't take many pictures, but it's a fun place.  (My favorite's the Bayou... in the pictures. The trees that you can't really see are all made of cardboard! Pretty impressive.)

Keaton & the alligator
Jaime and I enjoyed lunch at Raising Cane's, then headed to her apartment, where we probably should've packed (they're moving on Friday), but we just sat on the couch and chatted until Michael texted and asked when I would be home. It was 6:00... woops. And just to record for posterity's sake, we made pizza rolls for dinner. (Thanks, Our Best Bites! You've saved me many a frustrating cooking experience.)

Ah, one quick story. Our car was running on fumes, so I headed to the gas station (where gas is $3.08 a gallon, people. It almost makes up for the milk being so expensive.). I haven't posted yet about all the friendly Southerners we've run into, but I better do that soon. The joy I got from this guy was just too good to not share. Filling up his car behind me was a skinny old man in a wife beater with a cigarette and a crooked smile. He croaked, "Utah, huh?" And we had a conversation in which I understood very little of what he said (I got something about him building something in Salt Lake and there being Mormons.) He pulled away as I was getting in my car. Traffic was getting pretty bad, so I took some back roads (someday I'll do a post about driving here, too) and finally got to where I needed to be. I was sitting at a red light, when all of the sudden a car stopped beside me in the right turn lane. There was the skinny old guy with a couple of people in the car, someone I never expected to see again, grinning at me and waving. I waved and laughed the whole way home.

I could get used to Louisianans.

Monday, June 25, 2012

how have i never seen this before?

Now this. This is brilliance.

we're fun! [or trying to be :)]

The first sentence I wrote was this: I'd post more often if we did fun stuff.

Then I did a sudden brain-brake. What a horrible thing to say! Just because I've been lazy today, waiting around for job training, doesn't mean we're always boring! (Sometimes we're a little boring, but not all that bad!) We've done a ton of really wonderful things in the past five days, including the following:

One. Another trip to the French Quarter. We took Michael's friend from work named Andy. It's still as magical as the first time I went. And this was Michael's first time, and he couldn't stop raving. I've never thought him one to be all over architecture and design, but he sure was. He suggested all of the following pictures:
From left to right: First, he's in love with the balconies, especially the ones that are just plywood and held up with really sketchy poles. He also loves all the metal work and all the bright colors. We are wondering if there is a city ordinance that you have to paint your house some exciting color, because we rarely passed one that was not yellow or blue or purple or red. Seriously. Secondly, there are so many quaint treasure-finding shops. This one (the photo in the middle) was just in an alleyway. But when you walked to the back, there was a courtyard with more treasures and another pathway to a secret room with art. And thirdly, it's just old. Michael could not get over the flaking paint and the warped wood. Ok, and I was in love with it too.

We walked through the French Market (there's even more stuff on the weekends!) and all the way up to the Aquarium (we didn't go in that day... maybe one day after we get paid :)). Then we walked through the downtown area, the Big City (reminds me of New York, just a little less crowded). And finally started walking back to our car. At which point we were hungry, so we stopped at the Gumbo Shop, a swanky little cafe (I got gumbo, he got a shrimp poboy).

Two. We've had the missionaries over quite a bit with a young man named Joshua. He's learning about the Plan of Salvation, which we think is really special. And he really liked the chocolate chip cookies that I made last night (he ate at least five :)). And we're going out with the sisters tonight. We figure that we're averaging about four hours a week with the missionaries, which is awesome for both of us. Michael's decided he wants to be a mission president in Korea. 

Three. Last night we were invited over to dinner with David & Jasmine Hall as well as Jason & Jaime Rich. I should've taken pictures. David is a barbecue maniac! We had ribs, chicken, brisket, and more. Then Michael gave a little FHE lesson, and we played Bananagrams and Cranium. It was a good time. A real good time.

We're really happy to be here. And so far, I haven't even had a breakdown. Life is good. :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

dinner & a cello

Birthday's aren't meant to be spent alone. When I woke up to an empty apartment, I have to admit I was sad. A run helped, and so did a lot of phone calls and cards and texts and Facebook posts from people that I love. While on one of the four phone calls with my mom [hehe...], I decided to finally pick up a lifelong dream. Over at Michon's there was a lovely cello just waiting for me. And I spent the remainder of the afternoon learning how to hold it and the bow on YouTube. I'm hoping there's someone in my ward who plays that will be able to make sure I'm doing it right. The cello man suggested not trying to teach myself. But I sure am excited. I've learned how to play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." We're off to a really good start.
Michael got home and pretended that he forgot it was my birthday. Not a good move, my dear. Especially for someone who has spent the day by herself. But before we went out to dinner, he made me go to the bathroom, and when I came out there were sandals and a Cafe du Monde mug. I do love my mugs [and my husband, too ;)]. 

Dinner at Sake Sushi and Hibachi House was awesome. Even here we couldn't get away from the deep fried... We got a huge plate of chicken, shrimp, and vegetable tempura. And also a Volcano Roll. Two thumbs up for presentation, Sake; it was almost too beautiful to eat.

On our way home, we went straight instead of turning onto our street and came upon a treasure! A park! With piers. [The second guy to the right in the photo caught a catfish and a stingray within moments of each other. He was on a roll, and we were totally impressed.] And a floating casino! And a breathtaking sunset.

We finished the night with a chapter or two of The Fellowship of the Rings. Don't worry, we're a little bit obsessed at the moment.

Thanks to all my family for a lovely birthday. I love you!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

missionaries and a birthday run.

Last night we had the missionaries over and got to bear our testimonies about the Restoration of the Church and the Book of Mormon. There are few things more attractive than seeing Michael open his heart and show so much concern and love for other human beings who need it. 

I woke up today and promised myself that it was going to be a good one. So for the first time in a long time, I ran. And walked quite a bit :) [anyone got any ideas on how to get rid of nasty side aches?]. I got up along the levee and then gave myself a tour through a gated neighborhood that I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to be in. But it was beautiful, and thus, worth the suspicious expression on the security guard's face when I walked out the gate.

So far today, I've cleaned up our apartment and gotten ready and read some emails and started on my next article. Nothing too exciting yet, but I think I might go rent myself a cello as my birthday gift to me :) Oh, and check out my little article here.