Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: A Review

I started this blog after 2011 had already started, but a year in review post still seems appropriate.  This is the closest I'm going to get to a Christmas letter, so if you were eagerly waiting by the mailbox to receive our Christmas greeting; sorry, this is all you get:
  • Work: I spent most of the year working at a client that could have been the inspiration for both the TV show: The Office and the movie: Office Space. (You may have noticed my recent increase in blog posts... my tour of duty at that client finally ended Nov 30, and I'm looking forward to exciting new client ventures in 2012.) John started the year doing free lance work, even directing some commercials in Hollywood, and has spent the last few months doing a steady gig for Hit Entertainment.
  • Pets: Nicippe and Nestor are still our favorite little furry friends.  We had a scare earlier this year when we learned that Nestor has cancer, but given the elapsed time and lack of symptoms (other than the very obvious lump in his abdomen), his prognosis now seems very good.
  • Parties!: From 2 fabulous wedding showers to many poker nights at our house to the best Cinderella Slumber-Party Themed Bachelorette Party a girl could dream of, we had a great time partying with friends and family this year.
  • Our Humble Abode: At the beginning of 2011, we had only about 3 months experience as home owners.  Now, we have a small do-it-yourself project turned full bathroom remodel, new oven and washing machine, and new furniture to add to our home making experience.
  • Travel: We took several trips this year - Hot Springs, Arkansas to watch North Texas Basketball in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament; Tortola and Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands for our Honeymoon (with a stop in Puerto Rico and an unplanned stop in Miami); Los Angeles, California to watch more North Texas Basketball; and several trips to Houston to see my parents, grandparents, and cousins.
  • Getting Crafty: I've started to get a little crafty this year.  I made a door hanger 'H' that's now on our front door.  I finished Christmas stockings for me and John.  And I even made some custom jewelry.  I've been taken into the Pinterest phenomenon and I'm excited to try more new things.
  • April 30th: John and I made everything official and tied the knot! We had a great time at our wedding and cannot express enough the thanks we have to our family and friends who helped to make the day special. I think a good summation of how things went is this - Several people asked me after the wedding, "If you had it to do over, what would you do differently?"  I have pondered this question over the months since our nuptials, and I can honestly answer: "Nothing. I wouldn't want to change a thing."
All this leads to the question: What lies ahead for the Hansens in 2012? Obviously, we don't know for sure, but a few things are on our horizon:
  • Another trip to Hot Springs for more Hot Hoops
  • A vacation to Greece for me to meet some of John's family
  • Maybe, possibly, conceivably, after more consideration, and with no promises - taking steps in the direction that could result in me needing to make another stocking.
  • Some new home ownership adventures in renovation
  • A new client experience for me that will likely be my first introduction to the world of traveling for work
  • And hopefully many other fun and exciting things
I hope 2011 was a good year for you and yours, and I wish you all the best possible 2012.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

We went down to Houston to see my parents for Christmas this year.  For Christmas Eve, my parents' church asked our family to light the Christ Candle during the Christmas Eve service.  My grandparents, parents, and cousins (who have 2 kids) are all members of the same church, so there are 4 generations of the family that are members there.  Jonathan, John, and I joined the group to make a pack of 11 to light the candle... of course, only 1 person lit the candle and 1 other read the scripture... I guess the other 9 of us were just for moral support.  :)  After the service, we went to my cousins' house for a Mediterranean themed Christmas Eve Celebration.  We ate some great food and enjoyed socializing with family and friends.
4 Generations of the Moore Family - ready to light the candle at church

We did the traditional Walton Family Christmas on Sunday morning, including stockings and gift exchange.  Then, the rest of the family in town joined us for a nice lamb dinner and Happy Birthday Jesus cake.
The 4 stockings on the left have been around for at least 26 years.  Mom started working on a stocking for John a few weeks ago... It's not quite finished though, so it was pinned to another stocking for the big day.
The tree at my parents' house just before we tore into the presents

We had a fun and relaxing time with my family, and when there weren't Christmas related festivities, we (Jonathan, John, and I) could generally be found on the couch...
Wii Fun - They're playing basketball in this shot
In addition to several Wii games, we also had fun adding new Miis to our collection... including Mr. and Mrs. Claus, Abe (Lincoln), and Sacajawiia (spelling intentional - Jiisus and Einsteiin have been in our Mii family for a while).

We enjoyed our Christmas with the Waltons and are looking forward to Christmas with the Hansens later this week.

Merry Christmas, All!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A New Perspective

I was a late adopter to the smart phone phenomenon, particularly given my job in IT Consulting.  When I graduated from college, I still used a Motorola RAZR (There's a new RAZR out now, but I'm talking about that old flip phone that was "amazingly thin" in 2003.)  For almost 2 years, I held out against strong peer pressure to get a smart phone - I really didn't see the need to spend $400 on a phone and then spend an extra $30 each month to use it.

iPhone 3G - My First Smart Phone
Eventually, though, I gave in and decided that the ability to check work email without lugging my computer around was worth the data plan.  We have a family plan with AT&T, and at the time (late 2009), the only option that met my criteria for a good smart phone with AT&T was the iPhone.  The 3S was already released, so I was able to buy a refurbished iPhone 3G for $50 from our employee discount program (I still wasn't going to pay a lot for the phone).

I had that phone for a little over 2 years.  For a while, it was quite nice and was a dramatic change to how I used my phone.  I never did figure out how to do some things I wanted (I didn't want to deal with jail breaking my phone), but it met my needs.  When iOS4 came out, the phone's performance deteriorated significantly.  Also, all the apps updated to fit with the capabilities of iPhone 4.  My iPhone 3G couldn't keep up.  My favorite example was to have someone else with a smart phone click on their Facebook app at the same time I did, and then watch the phones load the app.  My phone would take somewhere between 30 - 75 seconds to open the Facebook app... everyone else's phone opened the app in 10 seconds or less (generally less).

Since my iPhone purchase 2 years ago, AT&T has added several Android phones to their options, and I was pleased to get a much more customizable phone... It's a handheld computer; I ought to be a able to customize it like a computer (of course, I've never had an apple computer, but from what I hear, the "no options" thing appears to be a general apple issue).  Anywho, I again used my employee discounted phone rate and was able to get a refurbished phone for $0.01!  The case I got cost more than the phone!

HTC Inspire - My New Phone
I research for a while on which phone I would get to replace my iPhone.  The HTC Inspire was one of AT&T's first 4G phones.  It came out in early 2011, and I patiently waited to see how people reviewed it after having it for several months.  (It was very hard to be patient). I finally got my new phone last week, and after about 1 week of ownership - I Love It!

The hardware is nice and sleek, the camera takes much better pictures (If you want an example, just compare pictures in my recent posts - the stocking pictures taken with my iPhone and the Santa Stacker picture with my new phone), the screen is nice and big, and it still fits in my pocket.

The real improvement though is in the Android operating system.  I love the widget concept that means I don't have to open my favorite apps to get a quick view.  The people app links all my Facebook, Outlook (work), and Google (personal) contacts in one place, with no duplicates.  The Google Talk app puts my voice mails into text so I can read them in addition to hearing them (it's not perfect, but still pretty awesome).

I have done a lot of customization, and there's still more that I plan to tinker with to configure it just the way I want.  The Android is definitely a more open operating system.  I love all the options - It's giving me a whole new perspective on smart phones.

Yay for my new toy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Spectacle of Spectacles - Revisited

A little while back, I posted about our Spectacle of Spectacles.  Well, since then, I had an eye doctor visit myself and got a new prescription... that means: More New Glasses.

If you're keeping count from the last post, I had 2 pairs of prescription glass that I wore in my old prescription: 1 pair of sunglasses and 1 regular pair.  I've retired both of those pairs of glasses and added 3 new pairs to the mix.  :)


Monday, December 19, 2011

One of the Perks of John's Job

Vendor Gifts!

In the spirit of holiday giving, several of the vendors that John works closely with have sent holiday gifts to his office... I particularly like John's vendor gifts because many come in the form of chocolate, and we all know who that's really for.  Though, John does get to eat some himself.

This Santa Stacker had goodies in each level - An assortment of mints, peppermint bark, white chocolate and peppermint covered pretzels, and peppermint - chocolate popcorn.
I particularly liked the Santa Stacker because it doubles as a new Christmas decoration that I can reuse in coming years... though I wish it could also magically refill itself with chocolate each year too. :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I've been working on personalized stockings for our house since early November 2010.  I must admit that not much happened on the stockings between early January and mid-October 2011, but it still took about 4 months to finish both. 

Growing up, my family had these personalized stockings for each person, and I thought it would be a neat tradition to continue for our new family.  Of course, my childhood stocking still hangs at my parent's house for our Christmas celebrations there.  So, last year I picked out 2 new stocking kits to make for me and John.  I'm really excited that both are finally finished.

A close up of John's - Ioannis is phonetic Greek for John

A close up of mine - I actually finished mine about a week before Christmas last year.
Beyond the stockings we have a few other Christmas decorations around the house:
The Big Christmas Tree

In the Dark!

Our College Spirit Christmas Tree.  This is the fist tree we owned, and it's bright Green (Kelly Green is for UNT) with Silver and Gold ornaments as a shout out to the Green and White of UNT and the Green and Gold of Baylor.

Snowman Wreath - I got this for Christmas last year, so this is the first time it's been up as a decoration.

NOEL Snowmen - I've had these snowmen bringing Christmas cheer for many years starting with my dorm room in college.
I also put out green and red guest towels and piled some extra ornaments decoratively on the coffee table.  We don't have a lot of Christmas decorations, but it's a nice touch.  I like that the house looks festive, and I'm sure I'll add a little each year.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hot Hoops in Hollywood

Okay, so maybe not actually in Hollywood, but we were in LA at Loyola Marymount University... LA doesn't start with an 'H' though, so you'll have to pardon my stretch to "Hot Hoops in Hollywood".  (If you're confused, see my Hot Hoops in Hot Springs post for the origins of that phrase.)

This past weekend, John and I went to LA to watch North Texas in a basketball tournament at LMU.  Other than the trip out to LA and losing 1 of the 3 games, we had a fabulous time.

To start... our experience traveling to LA was a bit less than ideal.  We boarded the plane on time (10 PM), but about 10 minutes before we should have been in the air, one of the flight crew came on the speakers to tells us that the first officer had been injured in a car accident on his way to the airport for our flight.  (Why they boarded the plane is beyond us... unless they were just trying to make the flight count as an "on-time" boarding) They had to bring in a replacement first officer.  Some noted that given the car accident, we probably didn't want the original first officer anyway. 

They allowed people to get off the plane, but we didn't want to lug our stuff back off, so we just slept on the plane (most people got off, and we were able to stretch out).  Before we stretched out though, we chatted with an odd fellow who was a bit pompous (He always flies Delta and never flies in the economy section, but he Needed to be back in LA that morning).  He's a dermatologist, who very obviously wanted to imply that he has famous patients. It was strange conversation that I won't go into in detail, but I will share the advice he gave to me and John after discovering that we are newly weds - To Me: "Stay Sexy"; To John: "Keep Performing". 

The plane didn't actually leave until about 1 AM (2.5 hours late).  When we finally got to the airport, we went out to meet the rental car bus, since all the rental car places are offsite at LAX.  We waited for 45 minutes, watching several rental buses come by multiple times, but never a Thrifty bus, which is what we were waiting for.  John tried calling Thrifty, but all we could get through to was the national number, and we (both John and the national Thrifty office) couldn't get anyone at the local office to answer the phone. Finally, a Hertz driver who had seen us on multiple passes to pick people up for Hertz stopped and asked who we were waiting for.  He was kind enough to give us a lift because he felt sorry us and didn't have any Hertz passengers at the time.  (He got a nice tip for his generosity.)

When we got to Thrifty, there was indeed someone behind the counter... why he wasn't answering the phone, we don't know, but we did ask why the bus that was idling outside never came to get us when we were waiting for almost an hour.  His response: "The bus is running to the airport every 15 minutes... [pregnant pause] but the drive is on lunch break right now".  It took longer than it should, given that he had no other customers, to get our car and get on our way, but the bus still didn't move the whole time we were there.  Why was the bus driver on "lunch" break for at least 1.25 hours (and that's just what we can confirm)?  Why did the driver take a lunch break when late flight customers who've already paid hadn't been picked up yet (we booked through a deal with American, so they knew which flight we were on)?  Why didn't they even apologize or ask how we got there without the bus?  No Clue.

Moral of the Story: Thrifty = Bad; Hertz = Good.  Never rent from Thrifty.  I've never rented from Hertz before, but they're getting my business next chance I get.

We finally got to my brother's condo around 4 AM (without all the delays, we originally expected to get to his place at 1 AM).  Needless to say, we were exhausted.

The rest of the trip went much more smoothly.  We watched a 90-45 victory for North Texas in the first game on Friday.  On Saturday, we enjoyed the Baylor victory on TV before heading out to the only UNT loss of the weekend (Lost to Columbia, who I now hope wins the Ivy League Championship because we were not expecting that one).  Then, on Sunday, we watched a great game with the host school, Loyola Marymount.  UNT lead almost the whole game, but it was relatively close and a good game throughout.  LMU has beat ranked opponents this year, so they were a formidable opponent.  I also enjoyed spending time with my brother in the evenings in LA, and he even came to the Saturday game.

Shoot-Around at half time for the last game - I took this because I decided that I needed at least one picture from our trip. - Note the small crowd (Only Loyola's game on Friday had a decent turnout - though there were more people on our side so it wasn't quite as dismal as this photo looks), and note the odd small area with wood bleachers on top.
The other big excitement of our trip was in the final game when I got warned by a campus police officer - Yes, you read right: Me, not John. - Like many people do, I took advantage of the quiet to yell a loud, quick "AWoo" right as one of the LMU players was trying to shoot a free throw.  No words, so it wasn't profanity or taunting, which I could understand people getting upset over - I don't like that either.  But people do what I did all the time, particularly when your crowd is small because you can't make much of an impact to distract the shooter with a sustained yell if there's only a couple people.  Several other people did the same thing during that game both before and after me, and they weren't warned by the police.  For some reason, this police officer just decided that a fan making noise at a sporting event was inappropriate when I did it.  I was obviously confused, and no one around me understood it either.  I didn't press the matter with the officer though because I definitely didn't want to get kicked out.  I think John was proud.

To top off the end of trip, when we got to the airport on Sunday, we discovered that the team was on our flight back to Dallas.  We got to chat with several of the coaches and players, which was great fun.  Apparently, while I was in the ladies room, John felt the need to tell the head coach about my encounter with the campus police at the game.  The team was great - Fun to watch on the court and very nice in our interactions at the airport - a few players come up to us to thank us for making the trip.  (Though I did get a head shake from the head coach for wearing my Baylor hoodie when I got cold before we boarded the plane)

All in All, a fun time in LA. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

At 25, It's Time to Eat Like a Big Girl

If you were following this blog for our honeymoon, you know that I ate my first half salad at a restaurant on the beach during the trip because we were the only ones at the restaurant and I didn't want to send the salad back.

It may sound crazy, but in watching me eat the salad on our honeymoon, my new husband realized that I was eating it wrong.  I've always had a severe texture aversion to eating leafy vegetables, but we discovered that's partly because I was chewing it with my front teeth.  (When I was a kid my back teeth didn't line up right until my second set of braces, so it's not as crazy as it sounds that I didn't chew with my back teeth correctly.)

Well, ever since my adventure on the beach, I've been wondering if I might actually enjoy a salad that's better than the pre-dinner beach restaurant side salad.  Today, I final got up the nerve to give it a try.  I ordered a salad at Cotton Patch that had lettuce, cucumber, tomato, cheese, bacon, and chicken with Ranch dressing.

My Dinner Tonight
I took the before picture because I wanted to show off that I ate the whole thing... but it was huge... and I got full.

I was too full to eat the whole thing, but there's just as much chicken as lettuce left... that proves that I was actually full and didn't give up.
I don't think it was my favorite dinner ever, but it was pretty decent... I'd do it again.

So, I'm official a big girl now.  I ate salad for dinner, of my own choosing, and I enjoyed it.  :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm Thankful for...

It seems a bit cliche to write a thanks list on Thanksgiving Day, but it's a good cliche, I think.  I feel very blessed in my life and I think it's important not to lose sight of the many things there are to be thankful for.

So here I go; I'm thankful for:
  • 26 (almost) years of good health
  • Loving parents that encouraged me to be the best that I could be
  • A solid faith community that not only taught me about God conceptually but also showed the love of Christ in their daily lives.
  • A school system that allowed me to cultivate a love of the arts, gave me an opportunity to experience the classics, and challenged me to grow while giving me the educational foundation to build upon the rest of my life.
  • A brother who knows and loves me deeply, and who, despite some sibling rivalry growing up, I cherish as my childhood companion.
  • Sisters who welcomed me just as I am into the fold of Alpha Delta Pi.
  • A culture where, as a woman, I am encouraged to go far in my career without giving up who I am as a woman.
  • Baylor University, of which I have many fond memories.
  • A great young career where I am both challenged and respected for my contributions
  • My extended family that I love dearly... and all of their beautiful children (my brother and I are the only cousins who have yet to add little munchkins to group)
  • The many friends and family who supported, encouraged, attended, and/or thought of us from a far during our wedding this year.
  • The ability to own our own home despite economic turmoil around the world.
  • Many close friends that join us for basketball games, Hot Springs trips, tailgating, poker nights, and any other general merriment.
  • The best in-laws one could hope for.  I look forward to many new memories I'll make with the Hansen family.
  • A great Thanksgiving dinner... and Chocolate Pie!
And I cannot summarize in short bullet the many ways that I'm thankful for the man who changed my name this year... he is my rock and my right hand.  I often joke that he must be psychic because he knows what I'm thinking before I say it.  When I was young, I often dreamed about getting married, but I never imagined how much I would love the man I married or how much fun it would be.  So, I am thankful for Mr. John Hansen, my husband (still not tired of saying that... "my husband"... he's my husband... sorry everybody else, he's taken).

I am truly blessed, and I cannot say thanks enough to "deserve" any of it... Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I'm glad to take a moment to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving All!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Getting Crafty

Since discovering and introducing me to Pinterest, several of the football wives* have decided to have craft days to actually do some of the things we've found on Pinterest.

*Football Wives - The wives that come with their husbands to North Texas Football Games, including pre-game tailgating.  Several of us may never have met each other if our husbands had not been football buddies.  We've all gotten to know each other pretty well from Saturdays out in the heat for the last 3 football seasons, and we're now excited to do something outside of tailgating... and without our husbands. :)

Our first craft weekend was in October, and we made flower necklaces from a Necklace Tutorial that Kim found on Pinterest.
These came out great.  They're just felt, fabric, a chain, and hot glue.
After our first success, we got back together today for Craft Day Take 2.  This time we tackled 2 projects.

1. Washer necklaces.  Randi found this Washer Tutorial on Pinterest.  I think they make cute necklackes.

Take a washer, glue on paper (like scrapbook paper), trim off excess, and paint with a clear coat.  Once they dry, I'll tie a cord on it, and viola: simple, unique necklace.

2. Decorative Letter.  This is probably my favorite craft yet.  Mine is going on my front door once I get a wreath hanger.

Letter (from Hobby Lobby), twine (190 ft for $3 from Lowe's), ribbon, fabric flowers, and hot glue.
I found this Letter S Inspiration on Pinterest.  The S is from Esty, so unlike the other crafts we've done, there was no tutorial.  It was still pretty simple though.  And I found this Fabric Flower Tutorial that made a nice adornment for my 'H', and I think I like these flowers better than the paper flowers on the S from Etsy.

We've had a Ton 'O Fun being crafty.  I'm looking for Craft Day #3, but that's probably not until after Christmas.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I love Baylor University.  It makes me giddy just to be on campus.  I have many fond memories of my time there, including many great people I met and the first few months of dating the man that is now my husband.

Last weekend, we had the pleasure of returning to Baylor for Homecoming.  John and I rolled into Waco around 6pm Friday and took a stroll around campus.  We met up with friends for dinner in the sub and spent some time taking in the pre-bonfire festivities.  Before the bonfire was lit, we came across several other friends... we enjoyed getting to see everyone, but ironically, most of the people we found on Friday night live near us in Dallas and we see more frequently than just at Baylor Homecoming.

Saturday morning, we were up bright and early at the Alpha Delta Pi tent along the parade.  Poor John got abandoned with another ADPi husband, and I had a blast catching up with many of my wonderful sisters! 

The ADPi float was the Mad Hatter Tea Party. Each of the 10 schools currently in the Big 12 was represented by a chair.

The Baylor chair was, of course, at the head of the table... and the A&M chair was appropriately placed.
After the parade, we had about 7 hours to kill before the football game, so we took in a few Waco favorites:
  • A visit to the Alpha Delta Pi chapter room - I had a great time talking with some alumnae who were ADPi's before I was born and hearing about their experience in the sorority.
  • Lunch at Fazoli's - Yes, I know it's fast food, but the Waco Fazoli's is still the closest location to my house even though we now live in Lewisville.  We don't have much of a fast-food Italian option in the Dallas area. :)
  • Drive around Cameron Park
  • Cameron Park Zoo - We went with some friends and their 7 month old daughter - who fell asleep somewhere between the lions and the reptiles.
The Homecoming game was a nice experience.  I was a student at Baylor for the 2004-2007 football seasons, during which Baylor football resulted in the following:
  • 2004: 3-8 record on the year, including a 26-25 Loss to Iowa State for Homecoming
  • 2005: 5-6 record on the year, including a 28-0 Loss to Texas Tech for Homecoming
  • 2006: 4-8 record on the year, including a 36-35 Win over Kansas for Homecoming
  • 2007: 3-9 record on the year, including a 38-7 Loss to Texas Tech for Homecoming 
That brings the overall record while I was in school to 15 wins and 31 losses, no winning seasons, and only 1, very close, Homecoming win.  Anytime I can go to a Baylor game and see a win is a good game in my opinion, but a homecoming win is all the sweeter. (It was a 42-39 Win over Missouri, bringing Baylor to 5-3 so far for 2011)
John modeling the give-away foam helmet at the game.
To all the friends I saw: It was great to see you!
To anyone who was there and I missed: Boo!  We need to coordinate next year!
To Kristen and Nick: Thanks for being our homecoming buddies again!  We had a great time... also, Clare was definitely the cutest little Baylor fan and ADPi legacy! :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Spectacle of Spectacles

John and I have a minor obsession.  Okay, maybe it's better said that John has a minor obsession, and I come along for the ride.  John and I both have poor eye-site without the aid of glasses or contacts.  John is not able to wear contacts, so it's all glasses for him.

A couple years ago, John discovered the concept of buying glasses online.  The glasses are significantly cheaper than buying glasses at the mall, not to even mention buying glasses at the eye doctor.  Since John wears glasses daily, he took these inexpensive glasses as an opportunity make the glasses he wears daily a part of his wardrobe that can change.

He watches for sales and new styles. Over time we've purchased many pairs of glasses and I've even gotten in on some of the action.  We've also shared our joy with many friends who now buy all their glasses on-line too.

An inventory of all the glasses in our house.  Though many look similar, most of the variety is in the stems, and we couldn't find an easy way to get all the stems in one picture.

Recently, John went to the eye doctor and got a new prescription, so we had to retire his old glasses and get new ones.  We did some thorough pricing, and even with an insurance stipend, it only made sense to get new lenses for 1 of his existing pairs of glasses.  For the alternative pairs, it was cheaper to just buy new glasses on-line.

We just finished replacing his alternative glasses.  Today, we went through the house and gathered up all the glasses in one spot.  We're going to donate the glasses that we didn't get new lenses for, and before we do, we wanted to take an inventory of all the glasses we have.
  • 17 Total Pairs of Glasses
  • 13 Prescription, Clear Glasses
  • 3 Prescription, Sun Glasses
  • 1 Non-prescription, Sun Glasses (for me when I'm wearing contacts, but I did buy them online with one of John's other glasses orders)
  • 5 Pairs belong to me
  • 12 Pairs belong to John
  • 7 are in John's old Prescription (only 1 to get new lenses, other 6 to be donated)
  • 1 in my old Prescription (going with John's to donation)
  • 3 in my current prescription (though 1 pair I never wear, so it's going to donation too - lest you think this lessens the cost savings: In one order, I bought 2 pairs of glasses for $6 each, and one pair I didn't end up liking.  We just consider the pair I do wear to cost $12; still an awesome deal)
  • 5 New Glasses in John's New Prescription
  • If you're counting, that's a total of 8 going to donation, and 9 pairs we still use.
  • Max Price: $120 (John's rim-less glass - this is the pair we're getting new lenses for)
  • Min Price: $6 (We got 4 pairs of glasses for $24 in one order - that includes shipping - 2 were mine and 2 were John's)
  • Total spent on all 17 Pairs, including shipping: $525 (That averages out to $31 per pair of glasses)
For those of you thinking, "Man, that's awesome; I want to get in on that!".  Here's a list of all the places we bought from.  There are a plethora of places online if you just do a Google search, but these are the ones we've used.

All you need is your prescription, just make sure it includes your Pupillary Distance, which is not always written in the default prescription format.  When we first started, we went to a mall store and tried on several glasses.  We weren't looking for a specific pair; we tried on a wide variety of sizes, styles, and shapes to get a general feel for what we liked.  Make note of the measurements on the glasses that look like a good size for your face (several of the websites explain the numbers - you can find them all on the glasses stems).

And that's our spectacle of spectacles.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Encouraging the Bears, the Mean Green, and the Weather

With football season starting, John and I are gearing for what we hope will be successful seasons for both our Alma maters.  One of the keys success in my book is surviving the weather at the games... it seems that no mater how miserable the weather (and the team), we do not leave North Texas games early.  Of course we left the 1 Baylor game we went to last year early just because of a little torrential downpour, but I'm not writing this post to discuss double standards...

This year we've got some new gear to cheer on our teams.  Now we just need the weather to cooperate a little to give us a reason to wear them... come on cooler weather!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Old and New, Part 3: Oven

The long awaited oven has arrived!!

This is part 3 of a series I started a while back.  I thought I'd be publishing this post soon after the first 2, but it turned into quite a saga.

First for a little history lesson, we bought this house in September of last year, and when we bought the house, as is becoming customary with all home sales in Texas, we got a 1 year home warranty from the sellers as a part of the sale.  We've used the warranty for a couple things (electrical issue and some piping problems in the attic)

In November, our oven started doing something funny... well "annoying" is probably a better word.  It started beeping.  It would beep about once a second for 15 minutes, and then flash an error message.  Pushing buttons on the oven made it stop for a couple hours, but it would start right back up.  John called the manufacturer help line, and they said to reset the breaker.  If it did it again, we should call the home warranty.

We reset the breaker, and for several weeks, all was well.  Then, it happened again.  We were a little lazy, and we didn't want to deal with the warranty for folks for such a small nuisance.  It got to a point where it might go off once or twice a month, and we were busy with wedding planning stuff, so we just let it happen.

The original oven wasn't much to look at.  I never really liked the white and black mixture, and there was no window in the door to see how things were progressing in there without letting out heat.
By early April, the behavior changed; it would go off sometime within a 24 hour period after we used the oven.  (Not the stove thankfully, only the oven, which I use far less than the stove).  At this time though, we were very close to the wedding, and couldn't be bothered to deal with it.

When we got back from the honeymoon, the oven was one of many things we had put off to "after the wedding".  In late May, we submitted a ticket with the home warranty.  A technician was on the phone with us the next day.  Over the phone, he was able to determine that the oven's mother-board (for the digital display) was going out, and they don't make that part anymore.

We thought, "Sweet, we'll be getting a new oven", but the warranty company took their time making that final.  It was a couple weeks before they finally decided to get us a new oven.  When they did, they gave us three options, of which, straight cash was definitely the best, but also took the longest for processing.  We finally got a check for our oven in late June.

In the mean time, we'd been looking at ovens online and determined which model we wanted.  Several reviews had told us that Frigidaire was the best brand for low-end ranges (there's no reason that we need more than a low-end range).  I knew that I really wanted a coil top stove (Call me crazy, but I've had the smooth top and the coil top in the various places I've lived since I left my parent's house. The smooth tops are a lot of fuss, and unless you've got the separate stove and oven thing going on - not a range, I don't think they improve the appearance that much).  However, the majority of the market has now moved to the smooth top, so coil tops are reserved mostly for bottom of the line models in the stores.  We also wanted stainless steal with black accents because we plan to eventually replace all the aging appliances in the kitchen with nicer stainless.  Though stores don't carry nice coil tops in stock (by "nice", I mean just not the very bottom model of the line), the manufacturers do make them.  I found a Frigidaire, coil top, that is stainless steal with black.  The best price for that model... Lowe's.

Thus, on July 4th weekend, we went to Lowe's.  As was to be expected, they didn't have the model in stock, but they ordered it and setup a delivery and haul-away.  Unfortunately, since it wasn't in store, we'd have to wait 2 weeks.  The delivery date was set for July 18th.

On the morning of July 18th, Lowe's called to tell us that the oven hadn't been delivered yet, but would be delivered to Lowe's that night.  They rescheduled the delivery for Thursday (July 21st).  On Wednesday, July 20th, we got another call from Lowe's telling us that the oven wasn't delivered to Lowe's on Monday, and in fact was on back order.  Needless to say, we were quite upset, and let them know as much, particularly given that they had lied to us the previous Monday about it being delivered that night.  However, we still wanted that model, and the soonest we could get that was now August 15th.

Sometime during June and early July, the oven had deteriorated further.  It no longer beeped, but it also no longer had a display.  Thankfully, when you turn on the oven, it did flash the temperature for a few seconds before shutting off again, so I could at least confirm the correct temp from the dial.  Also, thankfully, the problem was isolated to the digital display, the stove and oven still headed appropriately (well mostly, one of the coils only half heated, but it's rare that I needed all 4 coils).

Notice the nice big window! Our first step in moving from a white/black kitchen to a stainless/black kitchen.

On August 15th (last Monday), we were told again that the oven was delayed. John called several complaint lines with Lowe's and got a firm confirmation that we'd have our oven this week. On Wednesday morning, Lowe's called wanting to deliver that day... of all days, the day John started his new job. We had to schedule a delivery for Thursday evening because Lowe's delivers late on Tuesday and Thursday and we could have it delivered after we got home from work.

It took what seemed like forever to get, but it is a thing of beauty to have a fully functioning oven again!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Old and New, Part 4: Couch

I started the "Old and New" series back in June.  It was intended to be a 3 part series that only lasted about a week.  However, seeing as part 3 has dragged on for multiple months and is still sitting as a draft post, waiting for completion, I decided to add a part 4 for our latest home purchase: A New Couch and Chair.  (I think it's important to note that in my head, the statement "our latest home purchase: A New Couch and Chair" is said like the announcer on the Price is Right saying, "And you could win: A New Car!")

First, a little history into our old couch. When I moved out of the room I was renting for the first year of living in Dallas into a rental house, I didn't have a couch.  John's Mom helped John and I get a couch for the rental house. John's Mom teaches English to Japanese people living here in Dallas (another interesting story itself), and most of her students are only in the country for a few years to work in the US before they return to Japan. When they return to Japan, the company that brought them to the country allows them to sell the home furnishings provided for them while they were here. Many of her students offer great deals for gently used furniture and appliances.

A family was moving back to Japan about the same time as I was moving out of the rented room. We bought a sectional couch, a chair, and a refrigerator from them for $110! The price was all we needed to hear. We needed something to fill those voids and any 1 of those things new would have been more than $110.

John's Mom had seen everything, but John and I saw them all for the first time on the day we went to pick them up from the family.  All were pretty nice.  The chair has a little rip in the upholstery, but we cover that with a throw. The section, being white and used in a children's play room, was a little dirty, but still in good shape and nice to have.

I cleaned the sectional, using a can and a half of cleaner, and then, it was pretty decent.  However, in the 2.5 years we've had it, it's needed many cleanings because it's white and we have dogs.  Also, it's a very soft couch, not just in texture, but in the support of the cushions - you sink in. All in all, it's difficult to keep it looking nice, the white is kind of a boring color, and I like my couches more firm.  Thus, we decided it was time for a replacement.

We found our new red beauties at Weir's.  They arrived on Friday, and I love sitting in them - Just the right amount of support.

We're trying to find a replacement for the other chair too, but no dice on that yet.  Also, there are plans for a new TV stand (post to come, I'm sure), and we're going to get a new end table to put between the new red furniture.  Before we know it, we'll have revamped our whole living room furniture situation! 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hair Ch-ch-ch-changes

John and I have both made some changes to our appearance in the last week. We both wanted to look our best for the wedding. John had a clean, even cut. I had grown my hair long so that I could get curls for the big day.


Two months after the wedding, my hair was long and unmanageable.  I finally got my hair cut this past Thursday. It's probably been 3 years since I had a shoulder-length cut.  See the previous post from the Horse Track to see my new do.

John has occasionally mentioned since we started dating that he had once shaved his head, and he liked it. He decided that since there's nothing coming up soon, now would be a good time to give it a try again.

Behold... the shiny bald one:

$2 Across the Board on Horse #4

Before the Hitachi Consulting Dallas Summer Party yesterday, all I really knew about horse racing are things you could probably attribute to any racing... there's some set distance, they start at the same time, and the first to the finish line wins.  Oh, and having watched several horse related movies, I knew what a jokey is and a bit about what they do.

Now... I'm still probably not even what you would call "proficient" at horse racing, but I think I could make decent picks. Also, and maybe more importantly, I know how to make a wager. I had no idea going in that I'd be learning so much jargon in one day.

Our first bet.  John placed this one... it didn't win anything.
We made at least one bet on each race.  Hitachi gave each employee $10 in Lone Star Bucks, which was a nice starting point.  We dipped into our own money by about $5 at one point, but we got all of that back by the end.

Horse #2 taking the Win!

Our first winning bet: Race 2, $2, Across the Board, Horse #2 - #2 got the Win, so this was $7.90 payout on our $6 bet.
Our first win brought in $7.90.  Our biggest win brought in $16 - Across the board on a horse the handicapper put in 5th and ended up taking the win.  Our biggest loss was a race where we had 2 Horses Across the board (to Win, to Place, and to Show), but only only one of those horses Showed... meaning we got $4.40 for our $12 bet.

John in his "Studying the Numbers" pose
We had fun. I enjoyed learned how to place some bets... though we only place simple bets, I learned about exactica and other more exotic bets too. Since John is a statistics and numbers person, by the end of the day, I knew how to choose between two somewhat equally ranked horses by the identifying which one would have a higher payout if I won. Though, I never waiting to the very last minute to place my bet; I now understand why the pros would.

The starting gate.  Sometimes they started far away, so I liked when they were close to us.
We ended the day up $4.50... we thought it was going to be more because were going to get Show money for Horse #1 in the last race, but some craziness happened and the officials bumped Horse #1 back to 4th... no money for us.

All in All, a pretty fun day.  It takes a while, and you definately need good company to chat with between races.  But, I wouldn't mind going back some time.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Red, White, and Boom

There hasn't been much exciting to post about recently.  John and I have both been busy with work, but we did take some time to enjoy July 4th weekend.

On Saturday, we went up to the studio space John has been doing a lot of work out of recently so I could see the space.  Then, in the afternoon, I made cookies!  We successfully resisted eating all the cookies on Saturday, so we could bring them with us to the fireworks show on Sunday.

Sunday, we met up with some friends in Fort Worth to go to the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra patriotic concert and fireworks show at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens.  We had lawn tickets, so we showed up 1 hour and 45 minutes before the show to stand in line. At 6:30, they let us in, which consisted of everyone rushing to grab space on the lawn.

After we were situated, it was dinner time.  (The show didn't actually start until 8:00)  Our friends had smoked some ribs and made a corn salsa, and another couple brought some pasta.  We brought the cookies for desert.  It was one of the best picnics I've had in a long time!

The evening was carefully planned so that about the time we were grabbing up space on the lawn, the sun was ducking behind the Botanical Garden's trees, and a light breeze made the weather not too bad to be outside for several hours.  The orchestra was nice, and the fireworks were fun. All-in-all a pretty good July 3rd.

For the real July 4th on Monday, we just relaxed at home.  I cooked both lunch and dinner, which I think is a first for me.  We got to watch more fireworks that evening too... This was our first 4 of July in this house, and we learned that we can see 2 fireworks shows from our back porch (though not nearly as close up a show as we had gotten at the Botanical Gardens).

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Old and New, Part 2: Desk

This is Part 2 of a 3 part series of big new things. Typically, these sort of things might not be noteworthy, but they all converged in a small period of time, making the changes stand-out. Also, each has a short little story; thus, my mini-series.

Like the Washing Machine, I got my old desk for my first apartment in college. The desk was a "new" purchase for the apartment because the space I had that could hold a desk in the bed room of that apartment was so small that most student desks, with enough surface space for a computer and printer, wouldn't fit. We looked at several stores and finally found one that measured up. I was never completely happy with the desk we found because it had no drawers, leaving everything out in the open. Also, it didn't quite match my style, but it looked decent and most importantly, It Fit!

That desk made 3 moves with me after that first apartment, and it served its purpose well, squeezing into a couple more small places and faithfully holding my computer. In the new house, I've set up my office in what a Realtor would call the Formal Living Room - and it's the first room you see when you walk into our house. Though I'm not sure if it has ever been a formal living room (the most recent previous owners used it as an office too), it is a focal point to guests that come over.

The space is quite a bit bigger than my previous desk spaces, and the clutter of the drawer-less desk really bothered me when we hosted people.

The old desk. Note that the floor was a necessary storage location, and there's no extra desktop space to use.
I tried to buy a new desk in the Black Friday sales last Thanksgiving, but when the desk arrived at the house, it was damaged and the place we bought it from was out-of-stock. We returned that desk, and I had been casually looking at other furniture stores for a new one since then.

Last weekend, while we were over at a friend's house, the topic of IKEA came up.  I've never actually been to IKEA, but John is familiar - that's where he got his bed. We thought it would be fun to visit IKEA just to experience the store, and if I happened to find a desk, that would be an added bonus.

I had looked online at IKEA for desks, but being unfamiliar with the numerous configuration setup of most IKEA furniture, all I could see was a bunch of desk tops with no drawers, which wasn't going to help my cause any. In going to the IKEA store, I was enlightened. I found a desk line I thought I liked, and we left that first visit with a booklet of all my many options for that desk.

My little project.  The final layout of the office (to-scale) is on the right and all the other option pieces are on the left.
Being the nerd that I am, I came home and made a scale drawing of the space and made little puzzle pieces to match the various IKEA desk options. I played around with the options for about 30 minutes and then John joined in my play for another 5 minutes before a final decision was reached.

A few days later, we returned to IKEA and purchased the appropriate parts. Unfortunately, I overestimated the opening of the hatch on my car by about 3.5 inches, and the desk top wouldn't fit. Luckily, our friend and frequent dog-sitter wasn't too far away and came to the rescue. (He actually has great taste in cars, so he drives the same model car as I do, but it's in shop for hail damage leaving him with a larger loaner vehicle that held the desk top nicely. Thanks again, Forest!)

Lo and Behold - Spacious and Uncluttered
After the multi-hour process of assembling IKEA furniture, the new desk is in its home.  It's amazing what a drawer set can do. The desk actually now holds more in it than before - Everything the starting picture above, plus a few things that I had stashed away in the guest bedroom closet, all fit nicely in the new, tidy desk. Hooray!

Stay tuned for "Old and New, Part 3: Oven" which is still a continuing saga that will hopefully end soon.

Old and New, Part 1: Washing Machine

This is the first of a three part series that I'll call "Old and New."  A bit by coincidence and a bit because we had wedding gift money, we've made several new additions to our house to replace some old troublesome items.

First, the washing machine.

When I got my first apartment in college, I scavenged furniture and appliances from many relatives, either recently deceased or moving to a smaller space.  One thing I was not able to scavenge was the dryer, so it was one of the very few items that I got new in that first apartment.  The washing machine on the other hand, was far from new... Our best guess from online research and looking at pictures and model numbers is that the washing machine was made in the late 1970s, but since it's previous owner had no more need of it, it was free if we could haul it away.

Before John met me, his goal in home furnishings was to have as little as possible, so that if he needed to move, all of his belongings could fit in the back of 1 or 2 pickup truck loads.  Needless to say, he didn't bother himself with owning a washer or dryer.  Thus, my 1970s washer became our joint washing machine.  Behold:

Though, in most cases, it did get our cloths clean, the gentle cycle had become a little too gentle, so my delicates often needed soap rinsed out before moving them to the dryer. Also, it was quite loud, off-balance, and since it has a center agitator, frequently tangled and stretched on our clothes.  

Along came Texas tax free Energy Star appliance weekend.  We decided to take advantage of the tax free and Memorial Day weekend sale combo, and we relieved the old, warn-out washer of its duties. And I think it was about time, seeing as the old one had more years on it than either of us do.

As an added bonus, our laundry room is much more presentable now.  Not that I plan on leaving the door open when guests come, but I won't be as embarrassed when we bring people in through the garage.  :-)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What Now?

Since we got back from the honeymoon, we've:
  • Unpacked
  • Cleaned up the mess that was our front room
  • Opened all our gifts and put them away
  • Written all the Thank You cards
  • Hosted 2 poker nights
  • Gotten the pictures from the wedding (
  • Spent a portion of the money and gift cards we received on registry items we didn't get and other things that have been on our wish list for a while.
I just finally got the Thank You cards in the mail yesterday. Now, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do next.  For the first time in over a year, I don't have a project or any deadlines in my personal life. (We were only engaged for 9 months, but before that we spent about 4 months choosing and buying our house.)

It's a nice feeling to not have something big looming... We've watched movies at home the last two nights, which we didn't do as much in the past year because there's always been some task to focus on. I like being able to goof off and not feel like I'm shirking some responsibility. I hope it stays that way for at least a little while.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I Hear Miami is Nice this Time of Year

Honeymoon Day 8 - Monday, May 9, 2011 - Return trip to Dallas, with unplanned Miami excursion

Monday morning, we woke early at 4:00 am (3:00 am Dallas time), so we could get ready in time for our taxi to pick us up at 5:15 am. It was a 45 minute ride the airport. Luckily, we were able to leave a little later than airline regulations would suggest because the airport in Tortola doesn't open until 6 am.  (Our flight was scheduled for 7:20 am, so according to airline recommendations we should have been at the airport at 5:20 am)

When we got to the airport at about 5:55 am, there was no counter agent at the American Airlines counter until about 6:20, so we just waited. In Tortola, after clearing the counter agent, you have to go to another desk to pay the BVI exit fee before going through security. After all the various check-points, we were waiting at the gate at about 6:45. Boarding should have started in about 10 minutes. We were headed home... or were we?

Several loud speaker announcements reminded passengers for our flight to San Juan to get to our gate for boarding, but then at 7:05, 15 minutes before our scheduled departure, they finally told us that the plane was having mechanical problems that would cause a 30 minute delay.  At 7:30, the delay was extended; at 8:00, it was extended again. By this point, passengers had started calculating the latest we could depart and still make the 11:20 connecting flight to Dallas (about 20 of us were headed for that Dallas flight). The verdict was that, if we left by 10:15, we'd probably be okay because it's a 30 minute flight, but we also had to clear customs in San Juan.

Because the Beef Island airport is very small, there is just a glass wall through which you can see the tarmac and all the planes, so we could see the mechanics on a ladder working on the propeller. There was a general murmur of excitement when the mechanics stepped away the propellers were fired up for a test. At 8:30, they announced to us that the plane was fixed and we would begin boarding when the crew arrived.

When the crew arrives?! They're not here? We were supposed to leave over an hour ago; why aren't they here? The crew did not arrive until 10:15. The gate attendant could give no explanation for why the crew wasn't there. I should point out that you could get to the airport from the furthest point on the island in an hour. Taking an hour and 45 minutes for the crew to arrive was absolutely ridiculous, particularly given the fact that the plane was already delayed over an hour for mechanical issues.

After all that frustration, the plane finally took off at 10:45 (30 minutes after our deadline to make our Dallas connection). When we got to San Juan, we got through customs relatively quickly, but despite our Dallas flight being 30 minutes delayed, we saw that the flight had already departed when we got through customs. All the Dallas-bound passengers got in line for re-booking. The agents were a little overrun. In fact, one said in a loud  voice to us that only passengers who have missed their flight should be in this line. We all, slightly annoyed, responded that we had, in fact, all missed the same Dallas flight because of the crew not showing up for our flight until 3.5 hours late.

Luckily though, American Airlines was able to rebook us through Miami to make it to Dallas that same day.  It would be at 10:15 pm instead of 3:30 pm, but at least, we weren't having to spend the night in the San Juan airport for the next flight to Dallas.

We ate lunch at an airport grill. We were both starving by that point because we'd just had a couple pieces of bread left over for our breakfast, thinking that we would have a better breakfast in San Juan 3.5 hours earlier. I had Quesadillas and John had a Bacon Burger.

The flight to Miami was un-eventful. The Miami airport was particularly overpriced and annoying. We ate dinner at the Corona Beach restaurant, which refused to make even the slightest substitution (which resulted in me eating the rice off John's plate and John eating the fries off my plate).  I had ribs and John had fish tacos... it was by far the worst meal of the trip.

We were exhausted, but delighted to finally be on the way home when we boarded the flight to Dallas.  John's parents met us at baggage claim in Dallas, and we finally got home a little after 11 pm, we'd been awake for 20 hours, and a particularly frustrating 20 hours at that.

Since we didn't take any pictures on that long day, here's a few pictures from after we got back.
The scene we came home to
Another view of the mess that was our entry room.
A few gifts had come while we were away, and this is probably John's favorite
Day 2 to Day 7 - See the difference?
When we got back several people said to us, "You didn't tan at all".  To those people, you are wrong... we were just pretty pasty when we left.  :)

And thus ends the account of the Hansen Honeymoon.  Despite the frustration of the last day, we really enjoyed ourselves, and we hope to go back and stay on Cane Garden Bay for a long weekend or holiday in the future.  

Yea!  We're Married!