Wednesday, July 31, 2013

72-Hour Kit

I've never really lived in an area that I considered to be "dangerous."

Sure I grew up in the Ring of Fire where I have been through my fair share of big earthquakes (including the famous 1994 Northridge Earthquake). I lived in Utah for 9 years which also has earthquakes, along with blizzards, and is a little too close (~250 miles) to the Yellowstone caldera. And then I moved to Colorado which also has it's fair share of blizzards, extreme weather, and is in "Tornado Ally", but I never really felt scared about experiencing a natural disaster until I moved to North Dakota. 

Tornados scare me. Like really freakin' scare me. The first time I heard the tornado siren go off in Kenmare, ND I almost peed my pants.

I know we are not technically in "Tornado Alley" like we were in Colorado, but there have been tornados close to Kenmare (one in 2010 that killed two people) and there have been two F5/EF5 tornados recorded in North Dakota! AND there is a warning system in Kenmare (I've heard the siren a few times) that has made me more aware of tornados! It's just all too real! 

As a result of my paranoia, I have decided to update/put together a really good 72-hour kit. I know that it is unlikely that a tornado will hit us here but it's good to be prepared for any kind of emergency

A few Christmases ago my mom made all of us kids a little 72-hour kit. I've been keeping mine in my car (you know, just in case) for all of these years. I finally took it out of my car and went through the items. A lot of the food/liquid items were expired so I decided to update those and add more to it.

After doing a lot of research online I've compiled a really nice and fancy 72-hour kit for me and Josh. It cost a lot of money and it took me a few months to get together but I am really excited about it!

Here it is in the back of my X Terra. The 72-hour kit is in the big green bag underneath the two fold-out chairs (gray and blue cases).

All full of goodies!

There are just a few more things I need to get to make this kit complete, but it's pretty close to being done. All I need now is either in our storage unit (I really wish it wasn't so far away!) or at REI. Oh how I wish we lived closer to an REI!

Here’s a list of what is in my kit in case you were wondering. Keep in mind that this is for 2 adults (Josh and I):
First aid kit & medicine, fire extinguisher, food (packaged, canned, and snacks), water jugs (2), folding buckets (2), potassium iodide, can opener, stove & fuel, water & windproof matches, fire starter kit, plates (2), bowls (2), utensils (forks, spoons, and knives), zip lock bags, garbage bags, change of clothes & shoes, ponchos (2), hand & foot warmers, dust masks, emergency blankets (2), blankets (2), sleeping bags (2), tent, plastic tarp, 100-hour candles, light sticks, lighters, dry sacks, moist towelettes, feminine hygiene products, soap, toothbrushes (2), toothpaste, comb & hair brush, sunblock, bug repellent, toilet paper (4 rolls), hand sanitizer, lotion, Kleenex, deodorant, face wash, shampoo/conditioner, Clorox wipes, towels (4), solar showers (2), tools, pocket knife, shovel, axe, rope (2), duct tape (2), binoculars, gloves (2 pairs), umbrella (2), flashlights (2), AA & AAA batteries, wind-up radio, whistle (2), prepaid cell phones (2), walkie-talkies, mirrors (2), watches (2), cash, ID & documents (photo copies of IDs, credit cards, and other important documents), paper & pens, books & games, and a small backpack.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Personal Finance & Investing

I've always been good at managing my money. I've had my little checking and savings accounts for a long time, but beyond that I haven't really done anything else with my money. 

Now that Josh is making good money I figured it was time to start looking into investing and our financial future.

I've been talking to my dad a lot and reading "Personal Finance for Dummies" and "Investing for Dummies." I was a little hesitant at first about the books but they turned out to be very well written and informative. 

I love planning for the future, making budgets, and thinking about finances. I'm not obsessed or anything. But I do think in another life I was supposed to be an accountant or something :-)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Three's a Crowd!

Josh and I had our first visitor. He showed up on Saturday and is having so much fun that he is having a hard time leaving!

The truth is, I really want him gone. I hate him! He drives me crazy! He poops in our kitchen drawers and on the floor! Ugh! I really wish I could communicate with him about my intent to kill him, but that's just life. It will have to just be a surprise!

Oh yea, our visitor is a mouse

He's been leaving me little "treats" since Saturday and Sunday night I actually saw him. I screamed and ran into the bedroom to wake Josh up. Dumb idea. What was I expecting him to do? Catch it with his bare hands?

So, on Monday I went to the store and bought 4 "No See" mouse traps and a bunch of poison. We laid them out throughout the kitchen and the living room (the only places I have seen poops). I've also taken all the pots and pans out of the drawers and put them on the couch. I don't want his dirty paws all over my nice clean dishes! 

What now? We wait, right? 

Well, it's been a few days and the mouse is still leaving poops around. Maybe he is just taunting me. Maybe he knows what the traps are and what the poison looks like. I was really hoping it wouldn't take this long. He's gotta either die or leave soon right? As far as I can tell he can't reach the food (I keep it in the high cupboards) and none of it has been tampered with. I'm also a really clean person so I make sure the floor is swept and the table and counters are wiped down before I go to bed. What is keeping him here? What is he eating?! 

Ahh! I just want him gone and if he brings any friends over I'm gonna call an exterminator!! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Time in ND

Fresh produce is hard to come by in North Dakota. If you can find it it's either a little shady OR it's really expensive. It seems like during the Summer there is an abundance of local produce which is great! It is still expensive but I need to have my fruits and veggies! 

While I was in Minot during my last grocery run I came across these little beauties:

Since the weather has been so nice this season, we have been grilling as much as we can. One night Josh decided to make some "Death Burgers" which included jalapenos, habaneros, and Ghost Peppers.

He made some normal burgers for me before he added the heat. I didn't even try one (even jalapenos are too hot for me!), but Josh seemed to really enjoy his! He said next time he'll add more Ghost Peppers to really crank up the heat! Crazy guy!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Excited About My Lakers

I am actually really excited about my Lakers this year!

Steve Blake, Kobe, Gasol, Ebanks, Jordan Hill, Jamison, Chris Kaman, Meeks, Morris, Nash, Sacre, Mark Madson (maybe he will dance for us again!), and Jordan Farmar!

We got rid of the Dwight drama! Yes!

I think what makes me the most excited is that the team is filling up with guys that want to be there. They are excited about being in LA and being on the team. 

Also, there is no pressure... well, maybe a little bit... we are still in LA. 

But this is viewed as a "rebuilding year" and a "trimming the fat year". The Lakers got rid of some of the big-buck-guys (Howard and World Peace) in order to save up for some big-buck-guys that are free agents next season (Lebron and Melo). I don't care about the 2014-2015 season. I am going to focus on THIS season! I hope the guys have fun. I hope they realize that we are not expecting a Championship this year. Just make it to the Playoffs and we will be happy :-)

Since Josh and I went to a Packers game for Christmas this last year I'm hoping we can go to a Lakers game this year while we are in CA for Christmas visiting my family! How fun would that be?! We will need to get Josh a jersey though :-)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Guess Who Got Engaged?!

Suzi and Clay!

Josh's mom and her boyfriend got engaged a few days ago and we couldn't be more excited for them!

They are adorable and seem like they are so crazy about each other!

Congrats! :-)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Retiring the Shoes

I have had my current running shoes for almost 5 years. They have seen a lot and are well worn. I've had the hardest time giving them up. I think it's because they are so broken-in that it feels like I am running barefoot, which I love, which is also why I have FiveFingers.

Anyways, the time has come for retirement. 

While we were in Hawaii I mentioned to Missy that I love my FiveFingers and the feeling of being barefoot. So she recommended that I try out the Nike Free Run shoes! 

I've been using them for two weeks now and I love them! They are really snug (good thing I have narrow feet) and super light. I feel like I jump higher and run faster because I'm not as weighed down (I don't know if that is true or not).

Just in case you were wondering, I didn't throw my old shoes away. Not because I'm too attached, but because I decided to really invest in a great, homemade 72-hour kit (post is coming up soon) so they are going in there.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Battle With Grout

I clean the RV every Sunday. It definitely needs to be cleaned once a week. It's not that we are dirty people. But Josh tends to drag a lot of dirt into our place on his work pants and boots and it seems to spread quickly. Plus, I'm a little crazy. I like things clean and organized. It's not hard work (the RV is not a mansion) but it does take some time. Today it took a little longer then usual. About 4.5 hours longer then usual. The reason? Grout.

I never really noticed it before, but the tile in the kitchen and bathroom is a cream color separated by white grout. However, the grout is more of a light brown color now. Yuck! I decided to tackle this problem today. I started by texting my sister-in-law, Missy, to see if she had any suggestions. She did, but they involved vinegar and I didn't have any left. So I turned to the internet. I found a couple of websites with suggestions and I decided to go with the most simple one: baking soda, water, and a toothbrush. Seems easy right?!

Apparently you are supposed to combine the water and the baking soda and make a paste. Then you glob that onto the grout, get your toothbrush out, and scrub like crazy! I'm not gonna lie. It totally worked! However, it took a whole box of baking soda and 4.5 hours to do. I also rotated between my electric toothbrush (don't worry, I changed out the head when I was done) and an extra toothbrush that I had. I would have loved to do the whole thing with the electric toothbrush but it was not really built for staying on for hours at a time. When the electric toothbrush died I would put it back on the charger and then continue my scrubbing with a regular toothbrush. I ended up scrubbing so hard that I broke my regular toothbrush at the end. Eek!

The other pain about cleaning grout this way is that you are on the hard floor (either kneeling or sitting) for a long time and my back is killing me right now!

AND you can't just leave the whole floor covered in a baking soda paste because it'll dry, turn into a residue-ish substance, and it's a pain to clean up later. So you have to do the floor one area at a time: Scrub the grout with the baking soda paste and a toothbrush, wipe away with a paper towel, and then wipe it down with water to make sure you get all the baking soda up.

I'm sure there is an easier way but hopefully I won't have to do this again any time soon!

Cleaned (bottom of picture) vs not cleaned (top of picture).

Cup with the baking soda paste and my toothbrushes.

Here is the kitchen floor. Can you see a difference? White grout vs. dark brown grout? Please say you can!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Welder

Josh loves to weld. Period.

He's had many different jobs over the last two years including various pipeline jobs (swamper, operator, x-ray technician, and inspector) and temporary "temp agency" jobs. I think the happiest and most excited I have ever seen him at a job was when we were living in Utah and he got a short-termed welding job. It just seemed like he was excited to go to work every morning and he was excited to come home and tell me about it. He even took pictures on his phone so he could show me the projects they were working on. 

I think if he could weld for the rest of his life he would.

There is, however, a drawback to welding: It doesn't pay like pipeline inspection work does. Well, not many jobs do anyways. I think if Josh could weld and make the money he makes right now he would be very happy. I guess you can become a pipeline welder... that's a whole other debate though...

So, Josh was very excited when we got invited over to Suzi, Clay, and Charles' for dinner and Clay told Josh to bring his welding clothes.

Neither of them have welded in a while, so they were a little rusty, but Josh and Clay are both really good so it was easy to fall back into it. The guys ended up welding for hours as Suzi and I sat inside and chatted. After a while we decided to go out there and watch. Well, you can't really watch since it's bad to look at the spark (is that even what it's called?!), but I managed to get some pictures anyways.

[Josh is really excited]

[Like a pro]

[Clay welding and Josh looking on]

[Josh welding with Charles looking on] 

Monday, July 8, 2013

My friend, My TV

One of the first things I do in the morning (after rolling out of bed and brushing my teeth) is to turn on the TV. 

The TV is usually on for most of the day in our house (usually tuned to ESPN). I don't think I have a problem though. I'm not addicted and it's not like I sit in front of the TV and stare at it all day long! I just like to have it on while I am reading, cleaning, cooking, or on my computer (like right now!). It just gives me background noise which is nice because I can get a little lonely while I am home alone. Does that make me sound crazy? Is it strange that I feel like my TV gives me company? 

Well, a few weeks ago the dish went out (the ground is thawing so the dish sank a little which made it lose the satellites), so I called to get it fixed and I was told that there was no technician in the area and that I would just have to wait until they could find one. Are you freakin' kidding me?! I pay well over $100 a month for my service and a lot of my neighbors have this provider too so I don't understand how they could not have a tech in the area.

Two days later I was sitting in the RV watching Friends (thank God for TV on DVDs) when Josh ran in and told me that there was a tech at our neighbors place! WHAT?! I was furious! Josh ran over to the neighbors and asked the tech if he could swing by our place after he was done there. Josh even offered him money but he still said no. When Josh told me the guy wouldn't come over I called my provider and said there was a tech in the area. They were like, "Oh! I guess there is one! We will make your an appointment... um, the earliest date he could come would be in two weeks." TWO WEEKS?! Are you kidding me?! He's right there! Geeze!

During my two weeks without my ESPN, The Price is Right, and BBC World News America, I watched a lot of Friends, Arrested Development, and X-Files. 

Finally the day came and the tech showed up. He realigned the dish and was done in 10 minutes. I was so happy but also really mad because I had a feeling it wouldn't take too long to fix and I couldn't understand why I had to wait two weeks for that! Oh well, I had a flight to catch to Hawaii so I was glad the tech was done quickly.

The next day the dish went out again! I was in Hawaii with my family but poor Josh was stuck at home working with no TV. Josh called the provider and scheduled an appointment for the day I came home. I got home and the tech showed up and said that one of the cables was melting (melting?! It's 75 degrees outside!), so the dish wasn't getting any power. So he fixed the cable and was gone in 5 minutes. What a pain!

In one month we were without TV for 22 days. What made this even more of a pain is that when I got my bill it was more (a lot more) then what it usually is. *face smack* I took a deep breath and called my provider. I went through the dates and told them that I didn't want to pay for something that I didn't have (there was also a mistake on the bill and they charged me $50 for something that they shouldn't have). They understood and took about $100 off my bill for the month. I really appreciate that but can we please not do this again?!

I am happy to report that the dish is aligned, has power, and I am currently watching ESPN. Howard wants to leave the Lakers, Aaron Hernandez got arrested and charged with murder, Angles are struggling, Celtics and Nets just made a crazy trade, LeBron blah blah blah.... Go Lakers! :-)

Things are getting back to normal.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Les Miserables

Josh gave me a Kindle for my 26th birthday (almost 2 years ago) and since then I have been downloading and reading a lot of the Classics (most are FREE!). I feel like it is good to be "well read" and to read a lot of different styles and genres. But I feel like I have not read as many of the Classics as I should have, so I committed myself to start now!

I just finished reading the unabridged version of Les Miserables. I am not going to lie. I struggled through parts of the book. I love history, but 19 chapters about the Battle of Waterloo and multiple chapters about the Paris sewers was a little much. Hugo has the tendency to write lengthy paragraphs and to go off on LONG tangents. Personally, I know about the battle of Waterloo and the French Revolutions so I skimmed over those chapters, but if you don't know about French history then reading these chapters can teach you plenty and help you to better understand the story!

Minus the aforementioned parts, I thought that the book was great!

It's a story about love, compassion, redemption, and revolution. I love books that have deep character development, themes, and symbols. I really loved the characters in this book, all of them. From the evil ones (Thenardier) to the the heros (Jean Valjean), and all that fall between. Each one was so complex and developed. And what about Javert?! I still don't know what to think about him. Neither a hero nor villian, all you can do is pity him. I love it!

Next on my list is The Count of Monte Cristo! 

Eek! I think I need to read something less lengthy and intense before I tackle that one though. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I Made It!

I'm so excited to announce that I didn't get sick once this Winter! Not once! Well, don't count my allergy attack... that's not really "sick" is it?

Anyways, I get sick a lot and very easily. Usually when I catch a cold it lingers for months and I just can't seem to shake it. This causes me to usually be sick all Winter long. Ugh.

I don't know what it is. I take care of myself but it seems like those cold viruses just like to follow me around!

So, I was really excited when Summer started and I realized that I hadn't been sick all Winter!

Score! Seriously guys, this is a HUGE deal!

I am pretty sure that a combination of things helped me to make it though the winter: (1) I started taking  a daily probiotic in the Fall (thanks for the recommendation Missy!) and (2) I stayed away from people.

The daily probiotic can start to get expensive but I think that it is all worth it! 

And staying away from people can be pretty easy when the only social thing I do is go to the gym. And if people aren't feeling well they usually stay away from the gym so that makes it easy.

I really hope that I can give all the credit to the Probiotic so that I can be more social this next Winter. I guess we will see! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Surprise Flowers are the Best Flowers!

Josh has been working LONG days on the pipeline lately. He leaves around 6:15 AM and then doesn't get home until after 8 PM. It bums me out. It really does. I get sad and lonely sometimes and it's hard when you are by yourself for 14 hours everyday. 

The pipeline had a plan to be shutdown July 4th - July 7th (four whole days off!). I figured they would work the guys until late on July 3rd but I was wrong! They got off early and Josh came home around 1 PM with some flowers for me! I was so excited! I think Josh noticed how bummed out I've been and he wanted to cheer me up! Good man :-)

Aww! Right?!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Family Trip to Kauai: Part VI

After exploring the Queen's Bath, we went to my dads favorite burger joint on Kauai. Bubba Burgers! Of course their food was delicious! It's pretty comparable to In-n-Out :-)

Everyone was really excited about burgers and chocolate shakes! 

One of our favorite Shave Ice places.

I thought this sign was perfect! I've mentioned before how small towns have their own hours and so does Hawaii. It's pretty chill here!

For our last full day on the island (Thursday, June 20) the guys went golfing and the ladies went to the beach and the pool. It was a very relaxing day.


To celebrate our last night together (the kids all went home on Friday but my parents are staying for another week), we went to Kalypso. They had great fish tacos, mahi mahi, and ahi! Yum! You gotta take advantage of the great fish while you are in Kauai!

The next morning (Friday, June 21) we all got up and headed to the south side of the island to catch our flights. Ryan and Missy had a delayed flight and had to end up taking a redeye flight to the Bay Area. Bummer.

Luke and I had an adventure of our own. It started out well. We both got to sit in the exit row on the flight (it's a big deal for 6'9 Luke) but the guy that sat next to me could not sit still to save his life! I don't know what his deal was but it drove me crazy! 

After we got to LAX we went to baggage claim to get my bag. A bag that looked exactly like mine came by a few times (I grabbed it initially because I thought it was mine) but my bag never did. I had the feeling that the owner of the bag made the same mistake I did and took my bag by mistake! I ran out the door and up and down the passenger-pick-up-area to try and find my bag but with no luck! I was furious! Then we got the idea to take the guys bag and call the number on his luggage tag. He answered and I explained to him that I had his bag. Luckily, he was still at the airport and we were able to switch. Crisis averted! For now...

Next, we had to go out and wait for a shuttle to pick us up and take us to our car. This took forever! We were tired and hungry and all around grouchy! Finally, the shuttle came and took us to our car. We spent 2 hours at the airport dealing with this fiasco!

So, it's 11:45 PM and we have to drive to OC to find our hotel. I had a 6:45 AM flight the next morning and Luke was planning on driving to Utah the next day so we really REALLY wanted to get to bed! Of course the 405 got shut down and we were stuck in traffic. We had to take a detour off the freeway (along with a million other angry, tired people). At about 1 AM we were in bumper-to-bumper traffic when we felt a bump! And then a big bump! And then another bump! 

Holy hell! The guy behind us hit us! He hit Luke's brand new car! Ugh! We pulled over and got out of the car. A cute old man stepped out of the car and we made sure he was okay before asking for his information. The man was a newly ordained minister and was very friendly. That helped the situation but we were still tired, hungry, and grouchy! Apparently the three hits was from him hitting the gas instead of the brakes. Man alive!

See the little holes? Those are from the bolts from the other car's license plate holder. Since he hit us multiple time it left multiple holes. I guess it could have been worse. There was no damage to his car. I'm surprised there wasn't more damage. It felt like he hit us pretty hard the second time.

After getting this situated, we had to get back into traffic and chug along until we got to the hotel. It was 2 AM and I had to be up in 3 hours.

Well, I set my alarm and fell asleep immediately. But was woken up by Luke snoring at 3 AM. I called out his name and he sat up really fast and yelled, "WHAT IS GOING ON?!" I said he was snoring and to go back to bed. Luke was still sitting up and yelled again, "OK, WAIT! WHAT IS GOING ON?!" I started laughing because I could tell that he was still sleeping. Lol! Oh well, it got him to stop snoring long enough for me to fall back asleep.

I woke up early the next morning and caught a shuttle to the airport. The lines were super long and I came very close to missing my flight. After I arrived in Minneapolis (layover) I had to run to the other side of the airport to catch my next flight to Minot. Geeze. Finally I made it back to ND! I was so tired and I still hadn't eaten anything since 11 AM the day before in Hawaii so I stopped at Starbucks... I deserved it, believe me!

Why is it that vacations have to end so badly sometimes?! 

Oh well, it's over now.

The vacation (minus the traveling) was a ton of fun! It was so nice to relax and spend time with my family. Hopefully next time we will be able to better correlate with Josh's work schedule so he can come too!

Thanks mom and dad!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Family Trip to Kauai: Part V

On Wednesday, June 19th, we got up early (stupid roosters crowing at 4 AM! Did I mention that there was a bad hurricane in Kauai in 1992? And that during that storm all the chickens and roosters were liberated? And since then they have run wild and breed twice a year? And the population is out of control? And nothing has been done to help control it? I suggest snakes. Big, nonvenomous snakes.), had breakfast, and then headed out to the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

This area is beautiful (like most of the island) and it is pretty cool because there are hundreds, maybe thousands of birds living on the cliffs that overlook the sea. 

[The Kilauea Lighthouse]

[The white spots are birds]

[Family shot]

While we were watching the birds and complaining about how they wanted to charge us $5/person to get to the lighthouse (no thanks!), we spotted a seal! See it?!

How about now?! It's that blob towards the center of the frame. I thought it was pretty cool! 

Next we headed to a great little hidden gem, The Queen's Bath.

There is a short 10 minute hike down to the lava rocks which was very nice. However it was slippery in some areas. But I wore my FiveFingers so I was good! 

After the hike/nature walk, we arrived at the Baths!

[Luke exploring]

[Classic Neilson]

There were turtles EVERYWHERE!

[Missy and her baby bump! I'm so excited for them!]

We went at low tide so that we could go into the pools. This particular pool was blocked off from the ocean at low tide so a lot of people were swimming in it.

We continued walking around and found another shallow pool. The water was warm and the bottom was covered in moss. I was scared there would be eels or something in there but there wasn't! Phew!

Ryan and Luke had gone on and explored without us. I saw them while swimming so I was trying to get their attention. 

There they are!

Ryan was being nice and helping my mom out of the pool.

She ended up falling back in! Ooops!

[Hermit crab]

After climbing out of the shallow pool the guys took us to a deeper one. 

[Dad, Luke, and Ryan]

[Me and my mom]

Lava rocks are sharp! I knew this so I wore my FiveFingers so that I didn't have to take off my shoes when I got in the water. It was the best decision! 

Poor Ryan got a nice battle scar from the rocks!

On our way back to the trailhead we found a nice cliff jumping spot. The guys had no problem jumping right in.

They made it! 

Queen's Bath was probably one of my favorite spots on the island. The water is a clear, deep blue and there are tons of turtles! However, like most beaches in Hawaii, it is a dangerous spot. There is a sign showing the number of tourist who have been killed here (I think it was around 30). I think this is likely due to the fact that the tide comes up fast and can wipe unexpecting tourist off the rocks. And instead of letting the tide take you out to sea, people attempt to swim back in and the waves slam them against the rocks. Even the strongest swimmers are no match for a good rip tide. Safety first!