Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Keeping Busy!

Phew! I have a lot on my plate right now... and I'm LOVING it! Going back to school is allowing me to dabble in a variety of things that I am passionate about. It's quite exciting! Here's what's going on...

Well, not quite yet. Classes start after Labor Day and go until Thanksgiving. I'm taking two classes that meet once a week for three hours. I'm all registered and anxious to get started!

Yeah, you know about this already. Heather and I are taking advantage of our free time before classes start to perfect recipes, frostings, and techniques. We've been doing cupcakes for friends and family and are doing an event for the YMCA tomorrow. We're hoping to build this into a side business. Who doesn't love cupcakes?

Carol's Ferals
Through my involvement with the kittens - I've become affiliated with Carol's Ferals here in Grand Rapids. Carol's Ferals does TNR (trap-neuter-return) to ensure the best quality of life for the stray and feral cats in our area. Go ahead and check out the website for more info - it's far more knowledgable than I! I have accepted a position on the board of directors for the organization and am doing some consulting work with them to get the organization functioning efficiently and set up for success. It's been very interesting!

Opera Affiliates
I am a member of Opera Affiliates, a support organization for Opera Grand Rapids. I've been asked to chair a sub-committee for a fundraising event later in the year. I'll be heading up outreach, with the objective of introducing new clientele to the world of opera through this event. Exciting!

Stampin' Up!
Just yesterday, I got on board to be a Demonstrator for Stampin' Up! You know I love me some crafting - and Stampin' Up has the BEST products, tips, tricks, and projects! I hope that my experience as a Demonstrator will help ME grow as an artist and a crafter, and also bring in a little extra income as well.

Those are just a few of the things I'll be working on this fall. Doesn't it all sound like fun? I've always been the type of person who loves to do many things, and likes to multi-task... this line up is sure fitting the bill! What's on YOUR agenda this fall?

PS! Today is my BLOGAVERSARY! I've been blogging for one year today! Boy, doesn't time just fly?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up!

Travis, Bella, the kittens, and I headed to the East side of the state this weekend for some Eversden Family fun.

We celebrated my (belated) and my Dad's (early) birthday with dinner at MAC's in Saline - the best chocolate mousse I have had in a loooong time!

My Dad got the toaster he's been dreaming of (haha!) and I got the SEWING MACHINE I've been wanting for forever! So amazing!

We also indulged in waffles (chocolate chip for me!) and shopping. What a great weekend!

(Click on photo collage to view larger!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Five Things I'm LOVING!

My ears are loving...

Yes, yes, I know all the hype surrounding his death is obnoxious. BUT, you can't deny that Thriller is one of the most amazing albums of all time. And Thriller 25 has remixes of old classics with today's stars such as Kanye. Sweet!

My house is loving...

I got two small hampers similar to these, but with a cloth interior clearanced at Hobby Lobby for $7 a piece from $25.99 a piece. With a clear garbage bag they will be perfect, stylish garbage receptacles for my bathrooms. AND, since they have lids - my dear, dear cats (the big cats, not the kittens!) won't be able to get in and steal things. Nice!

My TV set is loving...

This is dorky. But have you seen this show? It's called PAWN STARS and is on the History Channel. It features these three guys who run a huge family pawn shop. It's like The Antiques Road show but with more cussing, more humor, and even cooler stuff! So fun!

My parties are loving...

For the second summer in a row, Jell-O is selling limited edition packages of Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri and Margarita instant Jell-O. Jell-O shots anyone?! Seriously, for a college flashback, mix up a batch of these and you're sure to liven up any party. Good times!

My tastebuds are loving...

Speaking of limited edition, I about flipped when I saw displays in my grocery store for these! YUM! I saw displays everywhere but no actual candy until I finally put my hands on some this week at my local Blockbuster. They were worth the wait. Delish!

What are YOU loving right now? Do tell!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Caleb's First Birthday

We celebrated Cindy and Dustin's son Caleb's first birthday this weekend with a backyard party filled with friends, fun and family. Heather and I were pleased to make Caleb's birthday cupcakes, and the weather cooperated with a warm and sunshiney but not too hot afternoon.

Here are some photos from the day!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Welcome, Issac Grant Bowman!

Congratulations to our cousins on Travis' side, Emily & Grant, who welcomed their first son into the world yesterday afternoon. Can't wait to meet him!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What I do these days...

Not having to work would be absolutely perfect if I got paid for it... : )

So now that I'm unemployed, and classes haven't started yet... what do I do?


I hang out with a lot of four-legged friends.

There's Oliver...

(he likes to sleep in boxes!)


you know Bella our chocolate lab by now I'm sure. And of course let's not forget our kitten friends. You know about them as well (note... if you're following the kitten progress over HERE and haven't added as a follower yet - please do! That way I don't feel like I'm writing to myself!)

I do things like re-cover chairs, and attend cake-decorating class.

I also tend to the garden... well, that's kind of a lie.

The rain destroyed my dahlias for the most part...

They need some major stakes and ties in order to survive. Some of the individual flowers still look pretty, though.

Then there's the green beans. We've had a couple handfuls of beans so far this season - but I've been scared to pick them too early, and by the time I've picked them they've gone bad! Anyone know when green beans are ready to pick?

And then there's the poor, poor tomatoes. I kept them inside for FAR too long and now they are way behind schedule. Plus Bella has knocked them over and pulled plants out several times. I was ready to write them off until yesterday I saw that they had started to FLOWER. Flowers then fruit, right? Is there still hope? Maybe I'll have tomatoes by October... : )

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The "Plan"

I haven't written much about my unemployment. Partially because I didn't want my blog to turn into nothing but whining and mopey-ness (is that even a word?!), but also because it's taking me a while to come to terms with the situation and to figure out what to do next.

Now, as always, I need to pre-cursor this with the fact that I am eternally grateful that I don't have BIGGER issues in my life. My health is fine, my family's health is fine, and that's really all that matters. However, those of you that have been laid off will understand that it very much is a grieving process. I haven't worked all the way through that yet.


I do have plan! (and a to-do list to match.. imagine that!)

I started my masters degree in Public Administration & Non-Profit Leadership in 2007. I got about half way through the program when I got married, and then got my full-time job at GAAH. With the wedding planning, house-buying, and new job, I took a break. It turned into a year break!

So I figure that while I'm unemployed, the job market and economy are crummy, and to be honest - I'm not ENTIRELY sure what, specifically, I want to spend the rest of my life doing, that now would be the time to go back to school. Full time! Yup, I'm going to be a college kid again. Well, sort of!

Lucky for me I have an awesome mentor/professor at WMU (Go Broncos!) who is bending over backwards to help me get things in order. After all, we're fast approaching mid-August and classes start very soon. I have to re-apply to the school and the program since I've been gone a year, and I can't register for classes until all that gets approved. The program has changed its curriculum since I was last in school so I had to map out what all I have taken, and what I still need to take in order to graduate.

Additionally, my graduate program qualifies for the "No Worker Left Behind" program. Essentially, because I have been laid off and am going back to school for an "in demand" career - I get $10,000 towards my schooling. Part of me hates the fact that I am falling back on government programs like this (yup, I'm a snot - never thought I'd have to take advantage of stuff like this) but at the same time its a relief. I probably won't have to take out loans at all - since I'm working with the department to secure a graduate assistantship for my second semester there which will cover tuition as well.

So good plan, right? I can collect unemployment for awhile (again, the thought of this makes me a little sick to my stomach - makes me feel like a loser - I am a snob) while I get back into the swing of things school-wise, and then if I want to I can get a part-time job in a non-profit to keep my foot in the door. The sad reality is that non-profits are looking for excellent part-timers because they can't/don't want to pay for a full-time staff person. Although, if I get the assistantship, I may not even need a job.

If all goes to plan I should graduate in August 2010 - as long as we can get a scheduling kink or two worked out.

I figure going back to school will give me some good thinking time and the ability to get really specific about what kind of organization I want to work for and doing what. Additionally, it's going to give me the opportunity to play around with some other things. So many people, when they heard I lost my job, have encouraged me to pursue something artsy, crafty, or cupcakey. A lot of folks see the things I produce on my craft blog.

While I have no idea where to start with something like that - the thought of being an entrepreneur and small business owner definitely appeals to me. Heather and I have started getting requests to do cupcakes for peoples' events and parties - so we're going to put some business cards together and see where that takes us. And I'm going to start building a stock of crafty creations in preparation for opening an Etsy shop.

It's something fun and creative for me to do. Maybe it will stay as a hobby - maybe it will someday be more? Who knows.

The bottom line is that I am doing okay. I still get sad, but I think I'm allowed to. I ran into a board member from my old job yesterday at Costco who was lovely and greeted me warmly, but it was still awkward - because neither of us really knew what to say. As much as I would whine sometimes about getting up and getting into work - it feels worse to know on Sunday night that I don't have anywhere to get up and go to in the morning. It would be one thing if I had CHOSEN to not have a job, but I didn't. I'm a bit of a control freak... : )

So I'm trying to enjoy the downtime. Take advantage of it while I have it, you know? Do some projects around the house, enjoy the summer (ahem!) weather, spend time with friends and their babies while they are still young. It's a good thing, right? Everything happens for a reason.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Birthday Shenanigans

We went out to a birthday dinner (yes, my birthday did last all weekend long!) last night with dear, dear friends Heather & Anthony and Seth & Kelly. We ate at the Bull's Head in downtown Grand Rapids which was delicious as always. Much fun was had by all! Thank you guys!

PS) Head over HERE for the latest kitten update. Don't forget to add yourself as a follower while you're there!

Friday, August 7, 2009


Yesterday I celebrated my 27th birthday!

It was a lovely day - and I was lucky enough to be able to spend it with people who are very near and dear to me.

The day got off to a great start. Cindy took me to brunch at one of our favorite local joints, Gaia Cafe. It's a vegetarian place and we pretty much always order the same thing. I had the "Jim White." It's black beans, brown rice, eggs, tomato, lettuce, and avocado. Delicious!

Cindy got me a gift bag filled with some handmade goodies from Etsy. So sweet!

Thanks for brunch, Cindy!

After Cindy dropped me off I laid down for a quick nap. Hey! Don't judge me! It was my birthday and I was entitled to that nap! : )

Later in the afternoon, Heather picked me up and we headed to the Olive Garden for a late lunch. It's kind of a tradition of ours to lunch there with their delicious soup, salad and breadsticks.

Because it was a special occasion though, we had festive drinks as well! I had some sangria, while Heather enjoyed a margarita.

After a quick stop at JoAnn Fabrics (hey - we like to craft!) we headed back to my place, where I got to open Heather's gift. Thanks Travis for the candid shots of my looking like a big dork!

She got me some fabulous cupcake making supplies. Yeah cupcakes! We got to work right away making some birthday mini cupcakes. They are so cute!

Thanks Heather, for all the birthday goodness!

That evening, I got to spend some time with my husband. He came home with flowers for me. Aw...

His gift to me was a gift certificate to the spa at the fancy-schmancy new JW Marriott hotel downtown. He said he knew I'd been stressed and sad lately and thought I'd enjoy it. Will I ever?! I am excited! I could totally go for some pampering right about now!

Then we headed out to dinner at Roses, our all-around favorite restaruant in town. It's become a tradition to go there on my birthday every year.

While we waited for our table I snapped a few photos. The restaraunt is right on the lake.

Once inside and seated we enjoyed spinach and artichoke dip for a starter...

I had the margerita pizza for my entree, and Travis had a burger...

And of course we HAD to get creme brulee to split for dessert. DELICIOUS!

Thanks Trav, for the wonderful gift and birthday dinner!

All in all, it was an absolutely wonderful birthday. Thanks to Cindy, Heather and Travis for the great food and even better company. And thanks to all of you who sent cards, gifts, facebook messages, and phonecalls. I appreciate it more than you know, and feel very loved.

Have a wonderful weekend!