Friday, January 29, 2010

Starting off Year Three

Just three years ago yesterday I was walking into Austin Java, nervous and not anticipating anything good to come out of a date with a man I'd been emailing for two weeks.

And look at us now! Living in sin and about to get married. I do not think Jaelea is crazy about this arrangement as she now likes to sleep on a little side bed I set up next to me. Previously we were cuddlers.

It's funny to me that it only occurred to me to celebrate the date we met when I was looking through Manfriend's google calendar about six months into the relationship (I was not snooping! We were trying to plan a trip.) and I noticed that he has "First date with Jamie" entered on Jan. 28.

This year I asked if he would plan something for us to do Thursday night and he happily did. He even made it a total surprise and just told me what bus to catch and where to meet him downtown and what to wear. It was a tad annoying when we were walking down these dark blocks and he says, "Hmmm, I thought it was on that block" and of course I can't even help locate us because I don't even know where we're going! But then he found it and it was fantastic. One of those fancy Italian places with no meal less than $15. But the gnocci I had was totally worth it. And the wine was modest: Smoking Loon, which I've bought from stores for under $10. I like to make him pick the wine and I think he likes that, too.

And now that we're splitting everything 50/50 via PayPal at the end of the month (basically I wire him whatever he tells me I owe him), I never have to pay for a date again! How nice to feel taken care of.

After the meal he checks the time and seems frustrated that we have too much time to the next event. Next event!?? Whoo hoo! So we had the yummiest chocolate hazelnut mousse.

And then he led me to Temple Square. And holy crap, we were going to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse!!! It was so amazing that I had to hold back tears during Danny Boy. I guess I've done enough choral singing that I can truly appreciate how fantastic they are. And to be able to hear their awesome director teach them how to say the vowels slightly different...well, it was the best ever. And it was free, so bonus.

Finding a bus home proved to be a teeny tiny problem because somebody's computer didn't cooperate. But fortunately that same someone has a pretty good memory so there wasn't too much waiting outside for the next bus.

Oh and did I mention that he'd sent me flowers earlier in the day!? They are beautiful.

Anyway, come back for pictures once I finally get my act together.

It was a fantastic day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

WTF peeps? The cake topper

We're ordering the awesomest cake topper and just need some cake examples for inspirations. And NO ONE seems to have an example on Google's image search. Argh.

WTF peeps?
It's like it was made for us.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dress Part Dos

I think I might just be able to start enjoying this wedding planning now. Hopefully all the stressful bits are out of the way:
1) The date and location
2) The silly, white, wear-once dress

Oh yea, and finding the whole groom part. That pretty much sucked.

So, to wrap up the whole dress dilemma. I went to David's on Friday determined to just scope it out and not want to buy any of them. Well I tried on something like 8 dresses with the help of a very nice "consultant." Well wouldn't you know I actually liked one. It is $500 and I would cut the train off and remove the tulle from underneath.

And then all I could think was that I really don't want to go through this again. Especially if all the rest of the local dress shops don't even carry my size and only have dresses at much crazier prices. And it would be too much effort to look at shops in Minneapolis or Denver.

Having a beautiful dress under consideration, I moved onto bridesmaids dresses. And somewhere on the David's site I found a well-hidden link for the "little white dress." And wouldn't you know there is a dress that is SO similar to the $500 dress I'd found but without the train and without the tulle poofiness. And only $200. I went back to David's today and tried on the bridesmaids version of it. I found it sufficient and it should arrive in a week!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wedding Dress Helldom

Remind me never to do this again. What a horrible business to deal with. Everybody's a queen, especially the shopkeepers. There have been two crying bouts about the hopelessness and depressingness of it and poor Manfriend is left trying to console me.

I swear if I look at another anorexic child in one of these dresses I'm supposed to imagine myself in, I'm going to wear sweatpants. I get the whole "image" you're trying to sell of the sexy, moody bride but do ALL your dresses need to be modeled this way? And what's with the sickly concave-shoulder look?

I tried to book an appointment to look at this one shop's dresses. They owner called me back about an hour later. We got the whole Temple question out of the way and then she asked, "Why are you looking so early?" Confused, I asked, "Early?" I mean, the wedding is 8 months away and these things can take 6 months to get your hands on and then there's alterations and throwing even more money at a dress you will only wear once. So apparently most LDS girls shop 3 or 4 months out. Lady, that is not normal. Everyone else I talk to has been stressing me that I need to get this taken care of. Immediately. As in, I can't wait until March when my sister is finally available to look with me.

And then she asks what size I am. Crap, are we talking normal-people size or dress size. "I'm a 14 in regular clothes," I tell her thinking she will tell me that I'm probably a 16 or 18 in wedding dresses. If only I were so lucky:

"Ooooooo, you're going to have a hard time finding anything in that size. Most people don't carry anything above an eight." "Oh, OK, sure sure," I said. At the time it seemed reasonable but later it was a ball fest in itself. Seriously? A size EIGHT??

"And what's your price range?" I tell her I am hoping for something under $500, though really anything over $300 will be hard to swallow. It's just a white dress!!! "Oh, well then you might want to check out my other store because I don't have anything in this store under $1,500." Oh dear, you've got to be kidding me.

Oh, and can I get some sleeves, please? Or some straps? I'm certainly not keen on the chance of me falling out of it when leaning down to hug someone. Or when breaking out the square dance.

It's just so hard to tell the scale and hoity-toity'ness of these stores from their Websites!

So far my only safe haven has been David's Bridal. The mega store that realizes that plus-sizers might want to see dresses worn by other plussers. Go figure. And they actually have dresses under $200! But I want something unique and different and who doesn't want to support the little guy?

Too bad those little guys are making it really hard. So I'm taking the afternoon off in an effort to not shop with 800 princess brides and am venturing to David's Bridal. It will be my own, private hell since I have no one to go with me. Do you think they would just die if I brought my groom in? Because I'm thinking about it. Haha, or would he look for that hole in the ground first?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Our respective classes

Last night both Manfriend and I were out for classes. He learned about avalanche safety...oooooooo. I used a going-away gift certificate from Spak to learn about making soups.

So there's this company, Viking, who makes awesome kitchen appliances and other things, I guess. And they have these cooking classes in a few cities around the country. They are pretty expensive ($90 for 3 hours) and my feel is that they hope to teach you to appreciate nice things and then want to buy them from them. This is a concept that I think is foolish and I never fall victim to. Until I used the peeler last night! Peeling carrots and potatoes and a butternut squash. It was like butter!

What a great class. First of all, there was only two other people there! So we're taking very one-on-one. And the head chef lady found out right away that I know basically nothing about any of these cool tools or the veggies/herbs or even rues. And so she proceeded to very slowly walk me through and explain every little detail. It was amazing: "So you see, Jamie, when zesting a lime you want to make sure not to get any of the white stuff because it is bitter." "Ok so, Jamie why don't you come look at this, you see how the onions are fairly translucent but not yet brown? That's how we want them to be. Now we will add the flour. Do you know why we cook the flour for at least 2 minutes? It's to cook out the 'flour' flavor." And she told me about wet and dry measuring cups but I did already know that. Ha!

Also I had to peel the shells off these shrimps. YUCK! And then we cooked the shells to make a shrimp broth. Gross smells! And then we threw these disgusting, gray shrimps into this beautiful, creamy soup we'd made...nasty. And wouldn't you know that turned out to be my favorite soup of them all? It was fantastic. And I didn't even mind the shrimp texture and squishiness.

We also made a butternut squash bisque. Yum. And a vegetable soup which was good but had some tough competition.

I think the real lesson that the class taught me was that soups take a really long time to make and I know Whole Foods makes great ones, so I think my soup career is going to be short-lived. But it was fun while it lasted. I did learn some basic skillz, which I'm sure will be helpful down the road. And I really do want to take their $600, 5-days-over-5-weeks, learn-all-the-basics course. So I'm gonna register for that.

Did I mention that the class was within walking distance from my home? How cool! I think in the future I would bike, but I really needed the exercise. Plus, how refreshing are those mountains as a backdrop!? But once the class and instructors found out everyone was so concerned and kept offering me rides home. Apparently it was in a "bad neighborhood." But this is the SLC and there aren't even bars on the doors/windows of homes! Somehow I survived. Plus I was carrying a bag full of warm soup, so who's gonna mess with that?

Manfriend's class was also good, I hear. Now they have two full days in the mountains this weekend to really learn how not to kill themselves. Yay. His was also a low-impact endeavor since he took two buses and a train to get himself from the main U campus to the Murray campus. He's planning to carpool with three other guys this weekend who also live in Sugarhouse and when I asked why he didn't just snag a ride home from one of them he shrugged, "I guess I didn't think about that." Silly man. I think he took 3 buses and two trains yesterday. Lucky him it's all free as a student at the U! I want a bus/train pass. Not that I have any reason to use such things now and probably not in the future either. Booooooo.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Hello and welcome back, peeps!

A new blog for a new me and a new city. Yay. For all of you who followed me before, I'd say I've grown up quite a bit in the past 2 or 3 years and have left the crazy life that was the focus of A Redhead in Austin behind me. In Austin. I've saved that blog for myself but, sorry, it's a bit embarrassing for me to let y'all go reading it now.

But, I am still an utra-cool person and do awesome things. All the time.

So, who are the players? Well, there's me, for one. The redhead. I'm a nerdy transportation engineer who times signals and stuff. I grew up in MN and moved to Austin, Texas for grad school. I just moved to Salt Lake over the holidays and I am loving it so far. The consulting company I worked for in Austin was soooooo sad to see me go that they are allowing me to work from home. Part time!!! It is the best thing ever. I'm only required to work 24 hours a week and keep full benefits. Fortunately I'm working on a project that is just wrapping up. About time, too, since it's about a year old and should have been done last MAY. Things tend to go over budget when that happens. I'm still looking for a local job but am not in any rush. My hobbies are photography and cycling and sewing and, recently, crocheting.

My Manfriend is nerdy. Nerdy, nerdy, nerdy. And he is slowly learning to be less dry about the things he is nerdy about. He likes rocks and hiking and running and biking. He's also developing his handyman skillz, which is pretty awesome. He has run 3 ultramarathons (2 at 50 miles and one at 30) and only one marathon in his day. He just started this week to train for this spring's the SLC marathon, so that will be fun, for him. He grew up in central Virginia, went to school in Baltimore, and then joined the Army for four years. We met though eHarm soon after he returned from a year in Iraq. Lucky me didn't have to go through that! He got out of the Army and moved to Austin to start on grad school. We spent two years dating there before he started a PhD program here in the SLC.

So he proposed and I followed and now we're living together (gasp!). It's pretty awesome to have a roommate again. It's so much more efficient! The cooking and shopping and cleaning. And having someone else to let the dog out. And no more laundromats!!!!!!!

So that brings us to Jaelea, the best dog in the world. She is currently an 11.5-year-old miniature schnauzer. I picked her up at the Austin Humane Society on Sept. 18, 2005, just a month after I moved to Austin. I wouldn't call her a "rescue dog" since had I shown up 15 minutes later instead of the minute they opened the door, she would not call me "mom" right now. Basically there was a guy immediately behind me in line who wanted her. She was 5.5-years-old at the time so we treat April 18th as her birthday. Though she generally receives nothing for getting older. But don't pity her! She is very loved and gets to sleep a lot and Manfriend pets her constantly. We've been checking out the new 'hood and Liberty Park quite a bit in the past week. It's hard for her that I insist on actually walking but, sorry, I just do not find every tree and bush as exciting as she does. Also she is a Texan through and through. I've spent enough time with such people to know that they do not like cold. No, no, no. She's the same way but I've let her get very, very scruffy and she is adjusting but still enjoys being covered by a blanket at all times.

One other thing that shapes our lives: Manfriend and I are huge transportation cyclists. Cars = bleh. We try to limit vehicular travel as much as possible. This has not always been easy for me since my first job in Austin was bikeable but required my car randomly once a week and was very time consuming. My second job in Austin was perfect for the bike in terms of needing my car and predictable work schedule. But it was down this HUGE hill. Only 5 miles away but to avoid going up the hill, I took Loop 360 home and it added 5 miles and LOTS of mean traffic. So I only did that on Fridays when I could leave before rush hour. Anyway, we try to bike everywhere and love living in the central city and you will probably hear lots about that.

You will also probably hear a bit about our upcoming wedding. Labor Day weekend, 2010. Though don't expect lots of gushing. I'm more the ranting-about-how-stupid-it-all-is kinda gal. But we've secured a pretty awesome barn for the reception/back-up wedding site and have talked my parents into letting us hold the ceremony against the lake at their cabin in Wisconsin. Things I am not looking forward to: buying/wearing a dress and stressing about my family objecting to such a "different" wedding.

Other than that, I hope to fill these interweb pages up with stories of hiking and livin' it up in the 'hood. And my crafts. And us hopefully becoming gardeners and cookers!