Friday, November 29, 2013

Internet Cleanse

   July 3rd, 2009.. June 25th, 2010.. August 28th, 2010.. February 26th, 2011.. January 8th, 2013.. November 27th, 2013. What do all of these dates have in common? These are all of the dates that I have moved to a new place between to Full Sail in Orlando (plus all the different apartments with different roommates around there) to California, to now in Birmingham!! On Monday the 18th, we had two guys boxing all of our possessions up. We were lucky to still be able to sleep in our bed that night. Tuesday, three guys put everything into the really big Mayflower truck and finished by 2pm. Shortly after, one of our Full Sail friends, Corey, picked us up and drove us to our hotel pretty close to LAX.
   I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Don't forget to be thankful for the little things too: a soft bed, hot water, shoes, nutritious food choices & an always forgiving God! We had a nice big gathering yesterday with Michael's parents, NaNa, Parker and his South Korean girlfriend, Joo. As well as Christopher and Meredith and her mom, Mrs. Kim, and all the dogs. My favorite was the pumpkin cheesecake, but also enjoyed the turkey and ham and stuffing. Mmmm!!
   I have had a cold since Sunday the 17th, with a mix of sore throat, cough and congestion. I have been drinking orange juice and taking Nyquil for a whole week now, but I keep assuring everyone that I’m fine. My new saying is, “At least I didn’t have to eat mud for dinner!” So far it’s worked quiet nicely for myself. I got that sad bit from my book “Kisses from Katie” by Katie Davis. She said that some of the kids in Uganda have to be fed salt and mud to fill their bellies since their parents- if they have parents- are not able to afford rice and other staples. That is so terrible!
   Oh, a happier note, things in Birmingham have been going well so far. I loved seeing all the mix of autumn colors in the trees as Michael’s mom drove us home from the airport. I had to take a few pictures. My favorite might be the bright red, but I also love the almost gold colors. I'm glad I took them the day after we arrived too, because as each day passes and it gets a little colder and the wind blows, the leaves gather more along the sidewalks and less on the branches.
   Michael and I went to Spain Park, the Galleria mall, got pizza at Salvatore’s one day and Mrs. Patty’s dinner meals have been very delicious. I especially loved the flank steak, seasoned green beans and potato casserole. We went over to the condo a couple times to get another tour of where we will be living. I definitely forgot how close everything is here. Target, Wal-Mart, Ross, Michael’s Crafts, Dollar Tree, Kohl's- all within a driving distance of less than five minutes.
   When we get back in January, we will begin to start applying for new jobs. As well as getting new driver’s licenses, Alabama tags, a public library card for me, and figuring out what to do about our bank accounts- the bank we used in California does not have a branch in Birmingham.
   Next week we will drive down to Florida and spend two weeks with my best friends, Alana and Mia. I have actually enjoyed not taking pictures (except of moving progress on our condo) and not bringing my cell phone with us when we go places. I haven't been anywhere alone yet and I believe a cell phone is really in case of emergency. Anyway, I'll try to squeeze in one post next weekend with the best photos that Alana and I take. But aside from that, I might not update until closer to Christmas. Enjoy your holidays and also life in general.
   After all, "Life is what happens while you're looking down at your phone."
        ~Michelle Horton,

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Farewell, California

  By now (since I am only writing this during the second week of November), Michael and Sasha and I should be checked into our hotel, just a hop and a skip from LAX airport. We have arranged to have dinner at Subway and will probably soak up the free cable by watching Duck Dynasty or laughing along to Tosh.0. I'm sure the sounds of planes flying overhead will rush Michael right into a peaceful slumber, while I glance at the clock every twenty minutes, calculating how much longer I have to "sleep". Our flight leaves at 6:30am, which means I have to be up by at least 3:30! No free continental breakfast for us. I'm not sure if Michael has checked shuttle times yet between the hotel and airport?
  Cute! I hope Michael asks me to pose in front of stuff as the years pass, instead of me always handing him the camera. There was a small, one-seater plane parked on the road in the fence behind Mrs. Patty, by the way. They don't just take pictures in front of random airport signs. I'm sure they showed that one to Michael's younger brother, Parker, when they got back.
  Also ~ hippies. They had nice smiles, but we didn't give them any gas money..
 I took a lot of pictures of these "fans". Probably because they were so big and there were so many. But I can't find what they are for ~ helping reduce electricity costs? Less pollution or smog?
  Anyway, these are the "Welcome to California" pictures that I never posted when we first drove out here at the beginning of the year. That night before, we did stay in a hotel in Blythe, CA. So we only had four hours of driving this day (close to five, if you count us going in circles because the GPS kept telling us to drive over concrete medians..), before arriving at our hotel in Burbank on January 6th. But our North Hollywood house wasn't all ready until the 8th, which was fine.
  *In my best country accent*.. SEE YA'LL IN ALABAMA!!

Ode to Arizona

  Since I knew our Internet would get disconnected at least a few days before we leave, I'm writing these posts in advance ~ 12 nights prior to our move! But as it's being posted (I like that you can schedule when the posts will be published online), we are most likely standing around the house, for the last time, as the movers box up all of our belongings, as unnecessary as the items may seem.
  But here are some pictures that I never posted back in January from day three of our New Year "Road Trip Across the Country!!" These are from Texas (the snowy parts), Arizona and New Mexico, taken Saturday, January 5th.
  It was such an achievement every time we got through to another state. We would all cheer to each other through the walkie-talkies, especially this day, when we drove 17 hours! And of course by "we" I mean Michael, Mrs. Patty and Dr. Gore. Thank you, wonderful family. Sasha and I relaxed comfortably in the cab of the Penske truck, although I am certain that I did not sleep "the whole way" like Michael says I did. How else would I have taken so many landscape pictures?
  Michael and I are both so very happy and thankful that his generous parents paid for our plane tickets (among everything else!!) for us to fly back this time. Our cars have already been picked up and shipped to Birmingham. A six hour flight in the morning will be much nicer than a 40 hour drive back East, and hopefully I will be able to sleep through all of the parts that take place in the sky.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

313 Days Later..

   I'm soaking up the last bit of the Internet that I can before it gets shut off tomorrow morning. But I did write some posts last week that are scheduled (how fancy!) to be posted on the 19th. So be sure to check those out as well. ;) We went to Porter Ranch for the last time on Thursday. Even if we weren't moving it probably would have been the last time since about 80% of the way to the turn around point, Michael saw a baby snake, which caused him to have a mini-heart attack. He told everyone that he called how huge the snake was and how it had a big lump in its stomach from it's recent meal. I don't know if I just happened to see a different snake and missed out on the anaconda.. but I made sure to let Michael know that the terrible feeling he had, well that's how I feel when he makes me go into Halloween stores. I think we came to a truce/ agreement there.
   It has been 313 days since we moved in on Tuesday, January 8th, becoming California residents for a short, yet quite exciting, part of our lives. Michael's car will get picked up on Monday, which is the same day the Mayflower movers come to box up our things, then come back again on Tuesday to load everything into their truck. The big question is when it will arrive in Birmingham. I believe they will have another family's items in the same truck, so we aren't sure how close to Thanksgiving we can begin to unpack and settle in to our Alabama condo. But it doesn't matter. What does matter is that we will have each other and that we have so much to be thankful for.
   Last night at work (tonight is my last shift), Amber made a list for me of all the things I have to be thankful for. It was a powerful list and that only included the more obvious things ~ a very generous family, an exciting life, a happy marriage, a slender physique (thank you, skinny bones), no health problems, a nice steady alarm job for the past seven months. And the wonderful list goes on. All of the complaints and excuses I have ever made are completely invalid.
   Since I pulled up some wedding photos from my blog via Google Images and showed those to her a few weeks ago, she reminded me that Michael and I had a really great wedding with lots of romantic memories and pretty pictures, which she described in detail. One scrappy thing on my 2014 "to-do" list is to fill up the big, silver engraved album that our Full Sail friend, Jermaine, got for us as a wedding present. It's been kept packed away while a beautiful, joyous wedding album should be the first photos thrown in our guests' faces when they come over! Haha.
   2014 will be the year to work on becoming responsible adults ~ for real this time. Bank statements? What are those? "Oh, those are the papers that tell you how much money you have spent on yourself, while also complaining that you have no money." So for the past two days I have been going through this year's bank statements- I've only done mine thus far. Since we use debit cards, we only keep track of how much we have in our account right before we go to buy something else, not how much we have already spent that month, or that year in total!
   I have my "7" notebook on standby, ready to be used and abused with next year's notes and feelings. My favorite recycled Greenroom journal, with glued on scrapbook pieces. I have my days scheduled out, from January 1st all the way through May 31st. Which days will consist of which sacrifices. What should be a simple sacrifice, is more difficult to us who are spoiled with hot water, soft beds and multiple pairs of comfortable shoes. I am really enjoying the surprisingly wide menu selection called "We're moving soon and actually have plenty of food left in the freezer, fridge and pantry". Other people, not so much. If Sasha can eat the same old food for her whole doggy life, we can do it for three more days.
  Here is a list of books and websites I am using to become a more selfless, giving, content young woman, who is well aware that she has more than enough:
   >>>, 31 Days Living Like an Orphan will begin on New Years Day, along with "7: An Experimental Mutiny against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker.. Could I be more obvious about that one? =) Apparently they make book trailers now, so you can watch that one HERE. But I'm easing in to it with one week for each topic, instead of a month like she (and her husband) did.

   >>>  the Six Week Quest, will begin with Lent on March 5th. I'll have to feel out the Catholic churches in Birmingham. And while also creating one new meatless dish each Friday (yay, Pinterest with your variety of veggie lasagnas), I will remain hand-in-hand with the less extreme pieces of Rachel Held Evans's book, "A Year of Biblical Womanhood". You can watch her quick summary video HERE.

  I'll probably throw the 40 Hour Famine (popular in Australia) somewhere in there as well and wrap up May with "A Month of "Yes!", inspired by the movie, Yes, Man. I came up with that challenge idea myself. I desperately need to experiment how many opportunities to make friends and trying new things I have been missing out on, just by being negative or selfish and staying in my comfort zone. Now, if only I could write a book and get paid for it like they did to pay off my student loans!

   I predict Alabama's Next Role Model, 2014 Winner will be... *drum roll*... ME!!
You know I can't let you (nor myself) down. Not after all this hype.
   Let the giving games begin!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fruit Tart

  Today after Michael ran some errands such as getting Sasha's nails trimmed and dropping off one of our plants at Lacey's house, he suggested we go to Porto's for lunch. I agreed, since it is most likely the last time we will go, and I was determined to finally get the fruit tart that I have been talking about since we visited last November! The leaves are changing and falling in Burbank.
  I may have hyped up the fruit tart too much, so just in case, I edited in some sparkles!! I never explained, but the reason I was so excited that Porto's had fruit tarts was because it was my favorite dessert item from the cruise I went on with my mom, cousin Lindsey, and Aunt Paula back in April 2008. I very much want to go on another cruise next year! Today I enjoyed the apple and strawberry slices, but didn't care for the blackberry or raspberry (but also never care for them in general). The mandarin oranges were so-so, but I let Michael have my little blueberries. I would have preferred if it came with kiwi or peach slices instead, but they were all made the same. The vanilla custard was delicious and the crust reminded me of a sugary Christmas cookie!
  We also got two meat pies (beef in a croissant) and a guava cheese danish.
  Michael thinks is a new club they are working on. Last time we walked by (about a month ago), the paintings were not there and there were construction guys inside. I do think that big metal door looks pretty cool! & Below are some Mini Polaroids we took. The one on the left, where I have the black dress on, is from Michael's birthday, and the other two are from this week.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Little House in the Valley

  We technically live in San Fernando Valley, which covers a wide area. It makes a big "P" shape, going all the way down to Santa Monica, which is at least 45 minutes South- twice as far with traffic- so that was not helpful when we searched for jobs on Craigslist in February and March. Other search results took us to Pasedena, just as far but heading East. In North Hollywood, we are surrounded by beautiful mountains on all side, which sometimes caused the summer and fall days to be extra hot. We do not have the expensive luxury of living on the beach, being greeted by soft oceans breezes each time we step outside. But at least humidity feels like almost zero here and I do keep forgetting how heavy and overwhelming it can be back East.
  Anyway, here is a tour of our cozy Gentry house that we have enjoyed living in this year!
My car gets picked up and shipped off to Birmingham tomorrow.
They will take Michael's next Monday. A friend will drive us to the hotel by LAX.
  Above the entertainment center are four printed 18"x16" scripts that we got made
in Orlando at Office Max. Rob Zombie's Halloween, Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back,
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
, and The Wizard of Oz. Can you tell that
Michael loves his fake trees? But having a fireplace was nice this year too.
To the left of the fireplace was Michael's quaint make up area.
To the left of that is the kitchen, as well as the small laundry area and back door.
(Not shown.)
  One thing I would love to have when we buy our own house, is a window in the bathroom. It was nice getting to save that bit of electricity when I took showers in the morning. I had no need for artificial lights. Our house got so wonderful and bright in the mornings when I came home from work at 7:20am. The back windows were perfectly placed for the sun to flood in.
Full circle back into the living room and front door. The wooden door is for the bedroom. (Also not shown because Michael was still sleeping when I took these pictures early in the morning & because we never make the bed!) The door way to the right is for my scrapbook room. It does have a door, but I usually keep it opened in the morning- again, because I love all the warm, pretty sunshine!
  Oh my goodness, is not lying when they called Katie Davis the modern day Mother Theresa. I got her book in from Amazon last week. It will be my holiday read. Please watch her video HERE! Above my beloved scrapbooks, you will also see my current obsession book, "7".  I bolded one of my favorite parts from what I read while at work last night! That chapter was about giving up media for a month. TV shows, gaming systems, texting, and the Internet- especially Facebook and random blogs we look at just for fun. Sorry, LoveTaza. I will have lots of catching up to do with your family at some point, but for now I will continue to enjoy your beautiful New York City fall photos!
This is one of Sasha's favorite places to be- sitting on the top of the couch, gazing out to where she would rather be.. during the 30% of the time, when she isn't actually running around outside. She has to come in at some point, am I right? Plus, she's a barker.. And we can never forget Michael's prized bougainvillea plant. He is very sad to have to leave it behind.
 ♫ ♪ So long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye. ♪ ♫
..Well, in 8 days
! ;)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Nice Bunch

  I've been writing a lot of cards this week. Partly because I love sending them and partly because I have a load of California return address labels that I made over the summer and don't want them going to waste. I have been so consumed lately (especially last night) in the book "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker.. Have I mentioned that already? It is amazing, and she's funny too. I want all of next year to be an experiment for me. I already have plenty of ideas of ways to really improve my/our life, in being less self centered and truly working towards becoming a responsible adult. But more on that in January.
  I took these pictures today so I would have some nice ones to send in the cards before we move. Overall, I have enjoyed living in California, and our cozy little house was a completely perfect size for us! 826 square feet may sound small, like I loved it. Sasha has definitely been spoiled with the fenced in yard, and I have been giving her extra outside time lately, but I believe Michael and I (and our children in the future) belong on the East Coast.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Packing Up

  It's that time of year again! Getting ready to move out of a place we have called "home" for the past eleven months. I have taken all my collages off the wall in the scrapbook room and gathering the frames and shadow boxes together. Although I do trust the movers, I'd feel more comfortable at least wrapping up my few fully hand-made delicate paper scrapbooks by myself.
  Alana and I have a list of photo shoot ideas while we stay at her house in Florida the first week of December. I look forward to making updated collages of us. Of course I also plan to take pictures with all my friends who I haven't seen in over a year ~ Mia, Lindsey, Sharanya, and Kimberly. As well as Miriam, Julie, Sana, and Gabbie while in Orlando. This does not include the numerous pictures I will get with Michael's family and my own. Lots of love to post over the next seven weeks!
  Michael was super sweet and got all excited carving out pieces of Styrofoam to be sure the little clay dudes that I made of us (at the end of 2011?) don't get broken during the move. Michael's clay head already fell off last month and he had to super glue it back on.