Friday, October 30, 2009

Kind of defeats the purpose...

... of having clean laundry... but I don't have the heart to move her. Sweet girl!

I'm slowly re-joining the world of the living, and hoping that I continue to get better today so I can have a little Halloween fun over the weekend.

I hope that YOU all are all staying healthy... and that you have a lovely Halloween weekend!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pardon the Interruption...

... I've been hit with a nasty flu bug and have been in bed for the last few days. I hope to return to blogging by the end of the week...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Date Night

Trav and I have been so stressed and busy lately that we carved out some time yesterday to head out on a date.

We checked out a restaraunt in East Grand Rapids we've been meaning to try for forever called Olives (thanks for the gift certificate, Phil and Kim!)

Highlights of the meal (other than spending time with my wonderful husband, of course) were the appetizer... (and I'm not even a big fan of mushrooms!)

Mushroom Crostini
Sautéed wild mushooms, toasted baguette, herb goat cheese, scallion oil, demi

Yummy (but expensive - yikes!) cosmopolitans for me (sorry Mum, no photo!)

And dessert... a tiramasu cheesecake. YUM!

It was really nice to get out and try someplace new. Thanks for a lovely evening, hubby!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Midterm Miracles

Two days ago I was losing my mind when it came to school. I was CONVINCED I'd failed my Statistics midterm, and actually FORGOT to do my take-home midterm for my other class. For real. I was trying to figure out how I could withdraw from classes and just write this semester off as a wash.


Well, by some miracle, I survived midterms unscathed. I pulled off a B on my Statistics midterm (I was beyond thrilled!) and have a solid B in the class thus far, and I aced my other midterm keeping my A in the course in tact.


I feel re-energized and ready to conquer the second half of the semester! Maybe I need to have more confidence in myself?

It's go time!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pumpkin Adventures

October marks the beginning of the Holiday Season in my eyes - kicking off with all things Halloween. It's become an annual tradition for us to visit a local farm with Heather, Anthony, and their kids for pumpkins, donuts, cider, and a hayride. I always get incredibly excited about this adventure!

We had a truly wonderful afternoon. The sun was shining most of the time, we picked a whole cart full of pumpkins (Travis was the pickiest and had the hardest time selecting his pumpkin!), and took lots and lots of photos...

(Click on mosaic to enlarge)

After some great fun at the pumpkin patch, Trav and I are now looking forward to another annual tradition - pumpkin CARVING with Cindy and Dustin Bylsma. We'll be joining them for the fourth consecutive year to carve our pumpkins and roast some yummy pumpkin seeds.

What Fall / Halloween traditions with family and friends do YOU have?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Making Strides 2009

This weekend we participated (for the third year in a row) in the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. Although I wasn't nearly as prepared for this event as I usually am - we managed to raise $300.00 in a very short amount of time. Thank you SO MUCH to all of our friends and family who donated.

It was a beautiful day, and we had a wonderful walk through Grand Rapids for a great cause. We also snapped some lovely photos!

Travis and I were so glad to spend the day with our dear friends the Hill's. After the walk we all headed out for some Pumpkin Patch fun... check back tomorrow to hear about our adventures!

Friday, October 16, 2009

These kittens just keep showing up...

... is this a sign of some sort?

Today Heather and I were running around town doing some erranding after our morning workout when we ended up in the Cherry Hill district of town.

We saw a little bit of a commotion and realized that there was a little kitten running down the street.

We pulled over and jumped out to see what was going on. Essentially this kitten was roaming around by himself, looking a little worse for wear, and no one was able to catch him.

A girl who was particularly concerned and myself tried to catch the little one for at least twenty minutes. It involved him running under a gate into a fenced off parking lot with "no trespassing" signs and the girl hopping the fence to try and get him. No luck.

Suddenly he ran back under the gate across the sidewalk and under a car. I thought "Yes! We'll get him now!" we immediately looked under the car and he was gone - vanished! And then we heard purring.

The kitten had climbed up into the body of the car.


Now I COULDN'T leave. I mean, I had no idea where the cat was in the car and what would happen if the owner came and started the car with the kitten in there.

Heather and the girl went into all the surrounding restaurants and businesses trying to find the owner of the car with no luck.

We went to a local deli and purchased some stinky tuna to try and lure kitten out. No luck.

Finally (at least an hour after all this began!) the owner came back. She popped her hood and there sat our little friend among the engine parts.


Heather grabbed him and we wrapped him up in my coat and headed to Brooknelle (rehab facility of Carol's Ferals) to clean him up.

Although very skinny, goopy eyed, with matted fur and flea dirt - the kitten appeared relatively healthy and social. She purred as Heather held her.

Yup, I got a chance to find out that the kitten was a "she" at this point. At least I'm 99% sure she is a she. I don't have a 100% track record on this (poor Napoleon - he was a girl for the first five weeks or so of his life!).

I brought her home and bathed her and fed her and she's contentedly living in my craft room for the weekend.

On Sunday she'll head back to Brooknelle to be checked in at intake and will head to the vet for an exam, and if she's healthy and heavy enough, to be spayed.

Assuming she's healthy - she's be put up for adoption.

I figure the worst case scenario is that - if she DOES have disease for which she would have to be euthanized - at least she would pass away peacefully, after being loved on, rather than in the engine of a car. Know what I'm saying?

So there you have it - another crazy kitten story. Why does this keep happening to me?

Keep your fingers crossed for our girl "Buick" (named after the car she was rescued from... obviously!) and I'll be posting updates over on The Kitten Mama if you want to keep following her story!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bella Update

I'm not the only one having a rough couple of weeks. Poor ol' Bella is having a hard time as well. Bella had been diagnosed with food allergies of some description a while back, and has to eat limited ingredient food otherwise her stool is... well... you can imagine, and she would get ear infections all the time.

When we first changed her over to this new, special (expensive!) food she was doing really well, but not so much any more. She experienced some hair loss and bald patches at the end of the summer and in the last few weeks she has been itching herself a lot and is currently on drops for yet another ear infection.

A couple of days ago after noticing her licking and itching at her paws and toes a lot we were alarmed to discover a lot of soreness, raw skin, blood, and general mess in between her toes. Almost like athletes foot but yuckier. Poor baby! The vet had us clean in between her toes (can you imagine how easy this was?!) and put some neosporin on them.

Her feet are looking a lot better, and she's heading to the vet this afternoon to see what the deal is. Hopefully we can figure out something more specific in regards to her allergies and help her feel a little bit better.

Poor Bella-boo! We love you puppy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stressing Out!

How do you manage stress?

I feel like I do a pretty good job of it on a day to day basis - but then once in awhile everything seems to pile up at once and the end result is Joanne = basket case!

Yeah, I'm being a little melodramatic, but you know the feeling right? When you hit breaking point?

What with our car drama, Bella being sick (again!) and off to her second vet appointment in a week, a HUGE grant due for Carol's Ferals by end of day tomorrow, my Statistics meeting this evening, plus just general allergies and fatigue on my part... I'm all over the place today!

Obviously there could be WAY worse things going on in our lives. This is all relatively trivial. I don't mean to be a brat and complain... but everyone needs to whine sometimes, right?!

It's hard to find your center and ground yourselves in times like these.

What do YOU do to keep your stress in check?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Making Strides for the American Cancer Society

For the third year in a row, Travis and I are leading a team in the Grand Rapids Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. Last year we raised $500 as a couple, and hope to raise the same this year. Additionally, we are challenging our team to raise $500 between them as well. If we succeed - we will have raised $1,000 for the American Cancer Society!

The walk is Saturday October 17th (just one week away!) at Calder Plaza here in Grand Rapids. There are two ways that you can help us MAKE STRIDES for the American Cancer Society...

1) Walk with us! All are welcome! Go to and click on "join team" and add each of your family members that will be walking with us as team members. We would love to have you walk with us - and will be hosting a brunch after the walk to celebrate our participation!

2) Donate - and help us raise money for the ACS! Just go to and click on "make a gift to support" We would appreciate this so much!

I'm organizationally a little behind on this event this year - but am hoping you can all help me still make it a success and make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. I'm hoping we can still get our team together and raise some $$$ for the ACS in just one short week!

Thank you in advance for supporting us, the American Cancer Society, and MAKING STRIDES!

Check out my post to learn about and see photos from last years' walk by clicking HERE.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Red Neon of Justice... or ... My Life is a Sitcom... or ... Cars are such a hassle...

My current ride
"The red neon of justice" - 2002 dodge neon

Sometimes I think life would be simpler if we all lived in urban areas, relied solely on public transportation and mass transit and didn't have the need for cars at all.

I'm joking.

Sort of.

This week was filled with car troubles. There's nothing more stressful than car troubles.

You see, I'm not good with cars. I'm not good at taking care of them. I don't keep them clean. I am bad at keeping up with maintenance.

However, after an almost disaster involving ZERO oil in the car over the weekend (my fault) I vowed I was going to be better. My car was super clean, I got an oil change, and I was 100% committed to turning over a new leaf.

And then karma got me.

As if to punish me for all of my past grievances towards my car. Problem after problem occured.

You see, my dashboard light kept going out. You know, the one that lights up your gauges and such? My Dad replaced the fuse two weeks ago and it went out again last week, so he replaced all the bulbs over the weekend.

It went out again on Monday. Lovely.

As I got up from my seat to leave Statistics (joy!) class on Tuesday in Kalamazoo, I realized that I couldn't find my keys. I emptied out my bag and purse to no avail. I booked it over to the parking lot knowing, KNOWING, that they were locked in my car.

I get the the car and they are sitting on the seat. Nice, Joanne.

I tried every door, and on the last one - OPEN! Saved! Phew!

So I happily pull out of the parking lot thinking to myself how I need to not be in such a hurry all the time and really think about what I am doing (and where I put my keys!)

I felt lucky.

I had no idea what was coming next.

I got about half way home when all of a sudden there's flashing lights and sirens behind me. A state cop pulled me over. Now, I've been pulled over before for tail lights and the occasional speeding ticket (oops!) but this time I had NO IDEA why I was being pulled over. In fact, the weather was pretty bad - rainy and windy - and I had been driving safely and cautiously in the right lane. Really!

Well, the state police officer (who was a really nice gal!) had pulled me over because ALL of my rear lights were out. Every single one! She had me put on my hazards and sent me on my way.

But it wasn't over yet.

So I'm in the home stretch, about 15 minutes from home, pondering my lack of rear lights (that had been checked and working the night previously!) when all of a sudden my car starts FREAKING OUT. Lurching and sputtering and jumping. Yikes! I try to pull off the side of the road and I'm in a construction zone (of course!) so I have to weave my dying car through construction barrels to get off safely.


Travis came and got me, and we had the car towed the next morning. Goodbye $75 in towing costs.

Turns out it's a transmission problem. Sweet. The car is getting a diagnostic at a second garage today and we should find out details this afternoon. If I need a transmission - it could likely cost thousands of dollars - and in that case it would be bye bye neon.

I feel bad that just as I was starting to take care of it - it may now be at the end of its life.

Sorry neon.

So, wish us luck! Hopefully we can get all this car nonsense figured out over the weekend. See... didn't I tell you cars were a pain?

And in honor of the neon I figured I should pay homage to the rest of my past rides. What a charismatic bunch... (note: all of these photos are google images, not photos of my ACTUAL cars) Please join me in a moment of silence as we review the cars that have served me well over the years...

"The Blue Flyer" - 1998(?) pontiac grand prix
The first Eversden car purchased in the US. Driven regularly by every member of the family at one point in its life. Recently donated to the purple heart foundation. RIP blue flyer.

"Henry Honda" - 1987 honda civic
Broke down on I94 on my way home to see a Croswell Show. Had a sweet CD player and velour seats. RIP Henry.

"Willis the truck" - ???? toyota pickup
Taught me to drive a stick shift, took me to my first year of college and all too frequently transported way too many people crammed into its front seat, and sometimes in the bed, too. Thoughtfully decorated with car markers by the BMB boys my freshman year. I loved that truck. RIP Willis.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fall Lineup

I was never a huge TV fan. I mean, as a child I had obsessions with various children's shows and movies that I had to watch over and over again on repeat - but in high school and college I really didn't watch that much.

Nowadays I am a bit of a sucker for winding down from the day on the couch in front of the tube. Maybe it's because I'm getting older? Who knows. Nonetheless - I have been VERY glad to move on from the *crap* that is summer television (which makes sense - we SHOULD be outdoors doing super fun summery things rather than indoors in front of the telly) and embrace this years' fall lineup.

If I may say so - I don't think I've EVER been this enthused about a television schedule! Here are a few of my faves...

I can't miss...

THE OFFICE - Funniest show on earth. Seriously. We're just a little obsessed. Trav and I have seen every single episode, and have been known to throw "season premiere" parties involving putting objects in jello.

GLEE - I loved the preview they did of this show back in the spring but love it even more now it's in a full season. Not only is it very cleverly written while tackling some controversial topics, it has GREAT music. AND... takes me back to my high school show choir and theatre days a bit!

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE - I'm such a sucker for this show. I know it's a little cheesy - but it really has brought dance to the attention of the public. Plus, there's some really GREAT performances on this show. Love. (side note - Trav HATES this show!)

A new show I am enjoying is...

COMMUNITY - This show is in similar style to The Office and while it took me a couple of episodes to get warmed up to it - it's really pretty laugh out loud funny. Plays on stereotypes that just make you giggle.

My reality show guilty pleasures are...

REAL WORLD ROAD RULES CHALLENGE - THE RUINS - Oh MTV, what ridiculous-ness you put on TV. And yet I still watch you. My college years are long gone but still I watch the drama unfold on The Real World and all The Challenge shows. Mind-numbing TV at its best...

SURVIVOR - I have no idea what season this is, where the survivor's are, or any other relevant info. BUT - it's all pretty much the same from season to season isn't it? And I still watch it.

TOOL ACADEMY - Oh I am so embarrassed to admit that I watch this. But it's funny. Stupid and funny. Watch it when you need to make fun of someone. Seriously.

AMAZING RACE - I like to think that this isn't as cheesy as most reality TV. I honestly enjoy seeing the cities they travel to all over the world. And the drama... : )

I know these guys are on too, and getting rave reviews, but I haven't had time to see them yet...

HOUSE - Travis and I are late bloomers to this show. We just started getting interested last year with all the re-runs. We really need to rent it and watch from the beginning. I haven't caught a single episode yet this fall.

LIE TO ME - This show is sweet. We watched it last season, but I have no idea what day it's on this fall?

GREY'S ANATOMY - I'm about 53 seasons behind on this show. Okay not really - but I'm pretty sure last time I watched Izzy's old man boyfriend was dying and she was crying in a prom dress. Now I hear that George is dead and Callie is a lesbian? Dang - I have a lot of catching up to do if I'm ever going to get into this show again!

Phew! That's a lot of TV. I swear I'm not really a couch potato!

So what did I miss? What shows do YOU plan your schedule around? And what shows are you embarrassed to admit that you watch? DO TELL!

Monday, October 5, 2009

What's the perfect end to the weekend?

A yummy bedtime snack...

Hope your weekend was lovely. Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

ArtPrize Grand Rapids

Have you heard about ArtPrize?

It's happening right here, right now. Here's how their website describes the competition:


At ArtPrize, any artist—from established to emerging—has the chance to show work. Any visitor can vote. The vote will determine who wins the largest art prize in the world. We also took the unusual step to allow people in the city to open a venue and choose the artists to show in their space. There is not one official curator or jury for the competition.

The number of venues is fluid, so the number of competing artists is fluid. The possibilities are wide open.We can't predict what will happen, but it should be a lot of fun finding out.

Come and see.

  • Top prize: $250,000
  • Dates: September 23 - October 10
  • Location: Grand Rapids, MI USA
  • Winner is determined by public vote
  • All attendees of the event can vote
  • Top 10 entries will receive a prize
  • Multiple artists can collaborate on an entry
  • Artists may only submit one entry
  • Property owners/renters in downtown Grand Rapids can become a venue
  • Number of artists represented is only limited by number of venues that become available

It's a radically different kind of contest - and the first of its kind from what I hear. Over the past week the media has been filled with ArtPrize info and downtown Grand Rapids has been an eclectic mix of visitors, artists, and art exhibits large and small. It truly is a spectacle!

With week one of the contest coming to a close at midnight last night, Travis and I headed downtown (finally!) to check things out and cast our votes.

The top ten finalists (of over 1200 submissions!) will be announced tonight, and voting for the top ten will go on for the next week until the grand prize winner is announced.

Here are some snaps from our adventures..

These portraits are done with push pins on a cork board! Incredible!

We voted via text message as we went from venue to venue...

Each piece had a five digit voting code and you could cast a vote up or down for it dependent on if you liked it or not...

This was crazy but cool. All kinds of charcoal stenciled "thoughts" from the artist on himself and his art process. There were pencils for you to add your own thoughts.

This sculpture is made from pieces of car tires...

These packing tape sculptures were kind of creepy...

Lego men and women?

See the resemblance?

Check out the HUGE table and chairs on top of the bridge behind me...

The Nessie Project!

This one is for you, Dad...

Phew! We didn't even see a quarter of the exhibits - there are so many all over the city! The atmosphere and traffic downtown was so exciting, though! We're going to go back next week to look some more and check out the top 10.

What a great thing for Grand Rapids and for Michigan!