Monday, November 26, 2012

Come at us, winter

We are ready for you. Thermal underwear and all.

Yes, I do believe this is the most awkward picture we've ever taken. And yes, you better believe I made sure you can't click and enlarge it cause there's no way you need to see more than this.

Also, my frame wall is waaaaay under construction. Pretend like that's not happening.

Monday, October 29, 2012

St. Louie

We had a quick getaway to St. Louis (one of my favorite cities on Earth) for my uncle's wedding. My mother has 5 brothers and he is the first to get married (crazy boys)! I am THRILLED to finally have an aunt, and she's the most amazing woman.

I'm still trying to figure out the balance between my iphone camera and my dslr. And well, I did a pretty terrible job this weekend. I hardly got any good photos on my slr and now it's bumming me out. And I really didn't take enough photos in general. Double bummer.

Anyway, the church where the ceremony was held was right on the Arch grounds. So wonderful! It was built in 1845 so there have been many joyous occasions within those walls.

My dad + a suit and tie only happens once every couple years so it's worth taking a picture of.

Don't mind the squinting, it was rather bright. But goodness gracious do I love that giant sleek piece of stainless steel.

Jason's shoes have brought a lot of happiness into our household.

The happy couple. Isn't my AUNT Doris glowing? Also, I realized this weekend my uncle looks like Buster Bluth. BEST REALIZATION EVER!

My mom was a bridesmaid for the first time in her life!! It was adorable, even if we mostly got to see her back during the ceremony. And bless her heart for kneeling during the large majority of the ceremony. Ouch!

I didn't take many pictures of family, but I just so happened to take a picture of a squirrel?! It baffles me also, but look at him with that acorn!

It was freezing, but I really can't complain because my mom had to take pictures for hours sans any coat while the rest of us went to my grandparents' and ate gourmet finger foods.

We really had a great weekend, and it's so nice to be closer to so much family now that we've moved. We're all still in shock that we're all in the same time zone now, but it's the good kind of shock!

On our drive to St. Louis, we saw a sign that said American Gothic house. We had no idea that it even existed, so we were bound and determined to stop on the way back. It was amazing!!!! One of the best tourist attractions I've ever been to.

The house is in this tiny, unassuming town of Eldon, Iowa. There is a visitor's center right next to the house, and the sweetest ladies were working there. They had costumes and props in a variety of sizes, and they suited us up and went outside with us to take pictures. Wouldn't that be a fun job?!

So legendary, and even better that we just happened upon it! I highly recommend it to anyone passing through the area. It was one of the highlights of our trip, and perfectly broke up the monotony of the 6-hour drive.

Fun fact: American Gothic is the second most parodied piece of art ever. (Mona Lisa is the first.)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Henry J's Taco House: A Brief Essay

We live on the #southside of town. Yep, that's southside with a hashtag, because some of the things we see in our 'hood can only be explained with a "#southside" attached to it.

The southside offers a plethora of mediocre fast food restaurants. We generally try to avoid them, but it just so happened that one evening Jason and I were headed out to help some friends move but needed something quick to eat. Consequently we found ourselves in the parking lot of a particularly jazzy joint named Henry J's Taco House.

Now, before I continue, I must note that the name says it all. I am fully aware that the rest of this brief essay will come as no surprise to you. And yet, I press on as a dutiful purveyor of the facts.

We are from Arizona. It is an understatement to say that coming from Arizona, we are passionate about our Mexican food. We knew that Des Moines Mexican food probably wouldn't be at the caliber we're used to. There's a fast food Mexican chain here that sells tater tots and burgers. It's undignified, but it's happening.

Back to Henry J's parking lot. We shared a weak smile and got out of the car. The building was small and lacking in any aesthetics. You know the type. I passed the window and a cigarette butt grimaced back at me from the windowsill.

Upon entering the shop, we were greeted with an equally uninspired interior. The kind you forget about even before you've left. Because there was no line to speak of, an assuming lady asked us what we would like to order. Jason asked what their most popular tacos were. She answered, "flour."

And this is where I promptly laughed out loud. I had to turn my head and snicker into my arm before I could recompose. I just can't even... Anyway, we ordered our exotic "flour" tacos and sat down to wait. There was more giggling about the flour tacos, and I started watching a fly happily buzzing in our general area. Jason then directed my attention to the beeping in the background.

The beeping, my friends, was the microwave.

After our food was heated, and well, probably reheated because there was several microwave beeps, our order was up. It was as expected... fried flour taco shells with a mix of ground beef and beans (beans?!), lettuce, and a cheese-like product (essentially, cheese would be offended to be associated with it). Jason had beans and rice, I had beans and some type of noodles (noodles?!) that tasted something like soy sauce (soy sauce?!). Ultimately, we had already made up our minds about Henry J's Taco House long before we got our food, so nothing changed.

Moral of the story? Never trust a man named Henry J is he offers to cook you a taco. Especially if he sticks that taco in a microwave. Unless you also enjoy writing brief essays. Then by all means, go for it!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Seasons

Hi.

I am still alive! Pinky promise. It has been so long since I have blogged! I have written this post over and over in my head but just haven't sat down to write it.

I needed some time to get my life in order and readjust but hopefully now I will be able to blog more  as I miss reflecting and sharing the little tidbits of life.

Remember this post?

Well, a lot of my absence on the interwebs had to do with a change in seasons, if I may.


Just as nature began embracing fall and tinting the leaves in new, delightful colors; my employment forecast changed. Within a matter of a few days, I had landed two jobs. Both are part-time jobs (not exactly what I was looking for), but I feel very blessed at how things worked out.

Coming from Arizona, seasons were vague and not entirely substantial in my mind. Now I am experiencing my first true, midwest fall and it's perfect timing. I am reminded that each season in life is temporary. There is always a new season on the horizon and ultimately, God is in control. "This too shall pass."


One of my jobs is a temporary 3-month job, so I will be in a new season all over again very soon. And that's okay. I still am so very far from having my life figured out (news flash to all of none of you who thought I had) but I have learned a lot about myself in this process. I have a better idea now of what I do want in a job and what I am capable of. This is big!

Both of my jobs are in the field of design. Some aspects are hard and have created problems of their own (funny how that works, huh?), while some aspects remind me of how much I love what I do and how amazing it is that I found such a fitting career. And that people actually want to pay me for something I love doing? Still sinking in.


I will talk more about my jobs but for now, I'll leave this a nice lil update. I'm alive and working and learning new things every day.

Alright, alright, the other reason for my absence on here is because the mister and I made a huge upgrade... from the dinkiest phones you ever did see, to iPhones. Yes, we took the plunge and most likely will never look back. This also means we spent a few nights together playing Words With Friends and Draw Something back and forth. All. Night. Yeah, I'm fessing up. And no, it's not going to happen again cause we have limits now people!

While I'm on that note, I might as well shamelessly plug instagram. Obvi I had to join, so check me out @emilynlunt! I'm on the prowl for awesome people to follow!

I will leave you with the colors of fall. Des Moines has been killing it in that regard.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The man, the myth, the science guy

Guys.

Guys. I got to see Bill Nye the Science Guy this weekend!



He gave a lecture at Iowa State University, which is about 45 minutes north of us. We drove up there on Friday evening. The lines before the door opened were stretching out in every direction around the building. People were wearing lab coats and goggles, and the guys standing in line behind us were making signs professing their nerdy love for him.

When they finally opened the doors, it was madness. People were running to get to their seats and everybody was swarming the hallways. We ended up on the 3rd level but we really couldn't complain because it was BILL NYE!!! He walked out in a signature bow tie and the crowd went crazy. Some guys on the first level stripped off their shirts and their chests/backs spelled out SCIENCE. The energy was awesome, and Bill handled it like a seasoned pro.


That's the best picture I have... thanks to Jason's [crappy] cellphone. Bill was showing us a picture of him with a sun dial that was afterwards sent to live on Mars.

It was such a circular moment in life for me. Here I felt like this man was a part of my childhood and I grew up learning from him. Now, I'm an adult and listening to him in the flesh, speaking about time and energy and Earth and space. It was just an awesome moment. At the end, he opened it up for questions and so many students shared how he was the reason they decided to pursue a career in science. I knew that I had always loved him, but it was rather astounding to see how many people he really did impact.

I could go on and on. His lecture was elegant and full of knowledge and most of it didn't feel over my head because he explained it in typical Science Guy fashion. It's incredibly inspiring to see someone with so much passion and it was a reminder of how important that passion is in life.

I still can't believe it. Bill Nye. Weren't the 90s just so great?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The state fair

Another round of photos that happened, ohh, a month ago now?

We went to the Iowa State Fair! Obviously it was something we had to see because we are new in town. And according to Iowa Girl Eats, the fair was listed in the top 1000 places to see before you die book. So I saw that and maybe my expectations were too high?

Cause well, it was a fair. I hate to sound like a pessimist, but I think once you see one fair, you have seen them all. People had been raving about the food at the fair. Again, high expectations. Unfortunately the food was about one step up from the gas station. Sure it was fried, and I have enjoyed my share of fried food, but mehhh.

So all in all, it was a fair. Nothing amazing, but still a fun sight to see. Like the GIANT veggies.  

Just a squash taller than my husband, nbd.

And so much corn. So much.

Now this is one of the parts of the fair that is particularly famous. People wait in a line just to see the butter carvings. Sculptures made entirely of butter. Now, I have made it known that I am a butter advocate, but this is just out of my league. The sevens dwarves, all in butter.

Ad what are the dwarves without Snow White. The pictures are terrible,  I know.

The butter cow. Literally.

With veins on its udder. Obvi.

I think the cutest thing at the fair was this skyride that would take you around the whole park. Too bad we spent all our money on mediocre fried food.

The best part of the fair was by far, Dia Frampton! I had heard of her before The Voice, fell in love with her during the show, and then got to see her in person!! While we waited, we took a picture. And a mother did her daughter's hair.

She was adorable and has a beautiful live voice. Loved it! Check out her song, Don't Kick the Chair. It's so catchy you'll be singing it for a week straight.

And that wraps up our first Iowa State Fair. Rocky beginnings but a good, good ending.

Also, a very happy birthday to my dad who is my most faithful blog reader, and to my nephew Hayden is 4 years old today. Two of the coolest guys in my life!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicago: Final Edition

Remember that one time we went to Chicago? Ohh, only a month and a half ago.

I am FINALLY posting the rest of the pictures!! I promise this is the last post about our trip.

After our second day in the city, we headed to see our friends Brady, Mandi, and Millie who live in the burbs. It's so good to have friends out in the midwest, helps us feel a little less alone. They were incredibly gracious and let us stay with them while little Millie entertained us endlessly. Doesn't she look like Boo from Monsters Inc?

They took us on a nice afternoon stroll.It was hot and humid but thankfully the view was awesome.


We stopped at this cute little shop and marveled at the greatness of ice cream topped with cookie dough. Delish! And the cashier gave us some great advice, "Be careful if you take the ice cream outside. It'll melt!" Golden.

We tried to take a group picture. Not a complete failure I guess?

Jason, per usual, was out making new friends.

Thank you Jones family for hosting us! Let's do it again, okay? :)

And the best part about our trip was that when we got back into Iowa, it actually felt kinda sorta like home for the first time.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Theo

In happier news, we got a kitten. Who happens to be the cutest kitten on the block.

His name is Theo and we adore him.

He has the brightest blue eyes and the spunkiest personality.


Taking pictures of kittens is HARD. Theo always is a blur of constant motion in my lens. But sleeping pictures I can do. He's just so fuzzy and perfect.

Crotch pictures happen when a cute kitten is involved.


As for hows Lars is doing? I had about a day where I wondered if maybe we had made a mistake. What if we ruined this good thing we had going, and now Lars will hate us forever?! Lars was not happy at first. He was on edge all the time, would hardly let us pet him, and was NOT a fan of that little bundle of orange fluff.

But now? It's the best toy he's ever gotten.

Lars is such a mischievous rascal, but now he has something to distract him from naughtier pursuits. The two are constantly wrestling and chasing each around across the house. I hardly scold Lars anymore. THIS is a miracle. 

And seeing this?

(Okay, okay maybe we had to encourage it a little bit) But still adorable!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Endurance

Life has been strange lately.

This adjustment phase, if you will. That stereotypical post-graduation, "what in the world am I doing with my life?" phase. Of course I hoped to skip right over this into gainful employment. To be a "career woman," for a few years at least. To be doing what I love in an awesome, creative environment.

And yet, as life goes, things haven't worked out as planned. I have become a statistic that is pandered around frequently in politics these days: unemployed. An unemployed, college graduate.

I have found myself wondering, why here? Why Iowa? Why me?

So many selfish question have been raised to God. Clearly he wanted us in Iowa, so why isn't he providing for me? Sometimes these frustrations weren't even voiced in my head; they just remained in the depths of my heart, simmering in bitterness.

Wouldn't it be nice if this post had a happy ending? I kept wanting to write one. One where I talked about my struggles but finally landed that awesome job and it was all worth it in the end.

Well folks, I'm still unemployed. There's a few freelance jobs I have on the side, but no job security, benefits, or steady income. I've had my ups and downs post graduation. Interviews and raised hopes, but I continue to get the same answer from God: "Not yet." After another no, feelings of disappointment and failure. Being either under-qualified or over-qualified. Embarrassment at checking another "currently unemployed" box in a job application.

I have so many questions about my future. I am searching for other avenues and have a few things in mind for alternative employment. I'm trying to keep my mind open to whatever comes my way. But right now, I really just don't know.

Slowly, painfully, God is getting through to me. Loud and clear today, both in my quiet time and at church, the message was that God will not save me from suffering, but he will be along side me the whole time. Romans 5:3-5 says, "...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

Endurance is my new goal. This is simply a phase, only a small blip in the span of my life. And my suffering is so slight, so insignificant to someone who is facing a life-threatening disease, or the loss of a loved one, or no access to clean drinking water... That list could go on and on. I truly do have joy in my life, and Jason and I have everything we need. Things could be so very much worse and I praise God for what we do have.

I don't write this for your pity. I certainly don't want that. I just want to share what's been on my heart. My blog starts to feel less like me when I have several happy posts in a row and none expressing my less-than-happy days.

I don't know what my future holds, but I know that I have a God who loves me. Not a small love, but a love that is poured out on me. A God who wants to teach me to endure not in my failure (or my strength!) but in his glory. Who gives me hope even in my disappointment.

And hope, hope is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hippie Chronicles: Vinegar

Behold: super classy pictures of vinegar on a toilet. My toilet, if you were curious. Well, my old toilet. I took these pictures before we moved but have just now decided to share them.

Ahh vinegar. That's right, we're friends now. We weren't always friends... And to tell you why, I must go back to middle school. Unfortunately. Once when I was of middle school age, I had a beloved aquarium. It was 29 gallons with plenty of lush green (plastic, ahem) plants and freshwater fishies. At one point, I had a tiger barb named Melvin. I can't remember any other names at the moment, but that's really beside the point. Arizona had incredibly hard water, and at one point I was really frustrated with all of the water deposits built up on my aquarium's glass. I was moaning and complaining to my mom about it when she suggested cleaning it with vinegar. I curled my lip in disgust and I'm pretty sure I physically spat at the idea. Gross, really? There's no way. But moms are always right, aren't they? Vinegar did the trick and took away all of the hard water deposits without killing any of my fish.

Thinking about it now, it seems to be a pretty good rule for cleaning. If it's safe enough for Melvin the fish, it's safe enough for me.

I read a great book recently called The Healthy Home by Dr. Myron Wentz and Dave Wentz. It has some silly dialogue (if you read it, you'll know what I'm talking about) but was really useful. And rather scary as well. There are so many toxic things in our home that we never stop to think about.

Take cleaning products for example. The book explains, "We use sterilizing products in the hope of avoiding a cold or flu, but those agents don't go away in just a few days. Solvents that break down organic matter will also break down the same sorts of molecules you find on your skin and your lungs. They need to be toxic in order to kill germs." 

I'd rather not be using cleaning products that not only break down germs, but also my own body and my family's body. This article has more information if you're curious, and I also recommend reading The Healthy Home.

Which leads us to back to vinegar.  

There's plenty of online resources and recipes for making your own non-toxic cleaning products. Me, I like easy. So, once I stopped buying toilet bowl cleaner I made the switch to vinegar. Did I whip up some cleaning recipe? Nope, I just dump some vinegar straight into the bowl. I use my toilet brush to wipe the vinegar up the sides of the bowl, let it sit for 5-10 min, and then scrub again and flush. Works like a charm.

I think the best part is that vinegar is dirt cheap! You can buy it be the buckets for a few dollars.

For even more awesomeness, check out this website called 1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar. A good friend, indeed!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hodg podg

A few random photos and thoughts. Which may be mostly about my cat. I'm not sorry.

Isn't there just something about a cat in a window?

I've been eating pretty salads.

And taking pictures of my cat looking into my soul.

Lars likes to be held. He may be the first cat I've had that likes to be held. And of course I melt every time. Bonus: cat holding and husband.

When my parents were in town, we went to the Saylorville Lake visitor center. It rained on us the whole time. Our routine is predictable: Jason kindly holds umbrella, I take blurry pictures.


Has anyone else been following along with Ashley's adoption journey on her Under the Sycamore blog? Her post where her new daughter is united with her family made me weep. I can't say a blog has ever done that but what an amazing story. It is a reminder of how powerful blogging can be and how beautiful life can be.

Also, a blog post written directly to me with cute picture of my nephew?!? So much happiness.