Happy Boo Day

I thoroughly enjoy Halloween each year--primarily due to pumpkin carving, costumes, the black and orange decor, and autumn appropriate foods. There is no better excuse to have a party!

At about midnight on Tuesday, Chris and I had the random urge to plan a Halloween shindig, and by Wednesday evening after work, we were shindiggin' it. It seems like the older one gets, the less "last minute" they become, so I commend Chris and myself for taking full advantage of what's left of our youth.

Anyhow, this scrapped together party with the neighbors ended up being an absolute blast. We ate all the best Halloween foods, drank "potion" (mostly dry ice and juice), carved pumpkins with surgeon-like precision, and then lit our pumpkins on fire.

Chris and I last year. We have better luck when we aren't carving pumpkins together (Chris started sawing out the reverse image of what was supposed to be cut.) We had better success this go around. :)


Hi Ho Camping-O!

When Chris sets his mind to something, there is NO GOING BACK, and that truth was once again confirmed this week when he got the camping bug. I came home from work on Wednesday not really expecting to follow through with our camping plans only to find that Chris had spent his entire paycheck on camping gear. He found some fishy guy on Craig's List who was selling his "roommate's dead uncle's estate" which happened to consist of enough partially used camping gear to stock an outdoor equipment shoppe.

So, after coming home with a truck load of more-than-likely-stolen camping gear, and getting that "you didn't stay within the budget" look from me, Chris explained, ".... but we can live out of our tent if the world ends!" I highly doubt that any tent is going to withstand nuclear warfare or natural disaster better than our HOUSE, but I didn't feel overly confident that Mr. Craig's List had a very forgiving return policy (especially since he was trying to sell Chris more-than-likely stolen guns), so the three of us, Chris, Snoopy (Chris' dog that he got when he was 12), and I left for the mountains.

We didn't get to our campsite until late, late on Saturday night and then realized that we forgot ice for our coolers (big necessity since we packed meat). So we drove 45 minutes back down the mountain to the nearest town and back up again, landing us at our camp sight around midnight. The late night drive was well worth it though. We saw about a dozen elk along the road and used our spiffy new spotlight to beam them in the eyes as we pulled up along side them. They hand some kind of fear-induced spotlight paralysis so we were able to get fairly close. It was very cool.

After we got our tent set up in the dark and failing to start a fire (even with the help of a lot of lighter fluid), we decided to call it a night.

This is what the glory of the following morning held:

A hot breakfast (always best enjoyed in the mountains), cooked over our new "kitchen unit" thanks to Chris and whatever poor chap either died or got robbed so we could enjoy it.

A new found appreciation for Arizona. Of course it's classic beauty is the striking desert sunsets and silhouetted cacti, but northern Arizona is blanketed with piney mountains. There were even a few clusters of yellow aspens dotted among the pine meaning that I got to enjoy turning leaves this fall!

Quality time with Snoopy. Can't you see the little old man within?

I thought that Snoopy would absolutely love the whole camping experience--turns out he's a little too domesticated. He tried spending the night in Chris' sleeping bag, and liked to be babied (as you can see).

We found a beautiful lake. (I didn't realize that there were natural bodies of water in Arizona. The only ones I knew of were man made lakes lined with condos--Florida wanna-bees.)

We soaked up some sun and aired out our ears.

I discovered that I, like my dad, have the Grilling gene.

We attempted to make a masterpiece of a dinner and were confident that the more coals we buried our dutch oven under, the better it would turn out. Apparently it was overkill, because we had a charred burnt mess of a dinner, and I had a charred burnt mess of a dutch oven to clean when we got home.

We discovered beautiful sights.

We snuggled up in our tent with hot coco and loved on Snoopy.

Then we whimped out around 10:00 our second night in the mountains and drove home to sleep in our warm beds.


Creepy and Crawly

There are too many creepy crawly things have been an active part of my life lately. A few weeks ago, the big tree in our side yard fell on our garage. Cause of death--the center of the tree's trunk had been eaten out by cockroaches and bees who made a home in it. Now there are hundreds of homeless bees and roaches in my yard. Excellent.

The day after their tree fell the roaches decided to move into our place. Fortunately, they have yet to succeed (to the best of my knowledge). The brave ones enjoyed sneakily lurking by the front door in an attempt to dart in as we came out. Chris made an example of these daredevil trespassers and left their squashed remains on the front porch for their roachy friends to see. The colony got the idea (assuming they are more intelligent than they deserve credit for) and have instead decided to burrow in the crack between our front door and the foundation of our house. Lovely. Not what we hoped for, but better than the alternative.

The creepy crawly continued when Chris and I offered to tend our cousins this weekend. They have a gorgeous home surrounded by more foliage and flowers then you will find in all of Arizona combined. This garden is a refuge for butterflies, bumble bees, lady bugs... and other things.

In Wyoming it's common practice to spotlight deer for a thrill. Here people spot light (or more accurately, "black light") scorpions. Anyhow, during our babysitting adventures, Chris thought it would be a good idea to take the kids black lighting before bed, and it was the coolest/creepiest thing. The cool part was the way the scorpion's skeletal bodies would glow eery green in the purple light right before we would---STOMP. The creepy part was how MANY there were and how easy they were to find. The scorpions would be lurking in the most common places--next to the front door, under a pot, on the sidewalk...

These suckers were huge! As Chris and I took turns poking them with a stick, and you could feel the power of their armored bodies lashing their tail meanly back.

After stomping on a few scorpions and feeling like we had done the world a favor in doing so, we came inside feeling safe and separate from the threat they posed. However, it wasn't long before Hanna, one of our cousins, calmly said, "Chris, there is a scorpion on the wall." Gulp. The black lighting was a little premature for me--I would rather be living in ignorance.


Annoying Boy + Annoyed Girl = Love?

One year ago today, Chris and I went on our very first date together. A lot has happened since then!

I remember last October well. I had been dating someone else for about 5 months. It was long distance, so we did our best to stay in touch and see one another when we could.

Then there was Chris—we had met in church, and, although he was extremely non-committal and in the process of dating every other girl in the ward, he decided to butt in on my long distance relationship and mix things up a bit. I’m glad he did--even though I thought it was terribly rude and cocky at the time.

Since Chris’ apartment building was a stone’s throw away from my own, he would “drop by” more than I thought was appropriate, (considering that I had a boyfriend of course). But Chris’ persistence never fails him. For two weeks straight he would walk into my apartment unannounced, and proceed to pound on my bedroom wall until I came out to see him. How romantic. I can’t imagine why princes in fairy tales never took that approach. I guess it was better than him asking to use my hair as a rope so he could sneak in through my window.

Anyhow, this “annoying guy who kept coming by my apartment” as I often referred to him, had the gall to ask me out mid October! I don’t know what he did to downplay the fact that I had a boyfriend, but I found myself going on this date as a favor for my roommate who was also going, and the rest is history. The annoying boy and I had a fantastic Thursday night date at the Haunted Mill (Idaho’s neatest haunted house). We held hands, we got scared out of our wits, and we got married.

And this photo is what we have to remember it by. Check out the passion. I should have guessed.


Faking Fall

Fall is such an easy season to love because it is always accompanied by a number of unmistakable and terribly sentimental “fall indicators:” the feel of a cozy arm-hugging sweater; the start of school; the smell of freshly sharpened #2 pencils; crisp cool air; and crunchy orange leafs underfoot--none of which I have experienced this month!

Without a decent “fall indicator” to trigger my memory of this thing called Autumn, I completely forgot that the season existed. I practically ran, cart-first, into a mountain of pumpkins at the supermarket before I realize that October had arrived.

Naturally, I compensated for my heinous ignorance by immediately diving into the mound of pumpkins and surfacing with the perfect pick. One pumpkin lead to another which eventually led to a small fortune spent on Indian corn, squash, and warty gourds.

In an attempt to fake fall, I brought autumn indoors by decorating and am now disregarding the fact that it is gorgeous and sunny in Phoenix. Yesterday I took it a step further. Ignoring the palm trees and 95 degree weather outside, I settled into my favorite new sweater (which is very cute mind you). This led to the conclusion that I probably shouldn’t force ALL aspects of fall or I’m going to be a very hot, uncomfortable person.

Bring on the cacti, heat waves, and monsoon storms that drop trees on my roof. You are my new “fall indicators” and I will be grateful for the warmth that you promise come January.

How warty is your gourdie?


Arizona Adventures

Since my last post, I came down with a terrible cold/sinus infection combo. Because my head felt like was in a rock crusher, "blogging" was at the bottom of my To Do list and "get better" was at the top. Now that I'm done with one--on to the next! So, here is what you missed the last few weeks...

#1 - Chris and I found what has to be one of Phoenix's most rad homes. I was quite thrilled with myself for discovering this modern gem. It's currently on the market, so maybe between now and the time we hit retirement we will have saved up enough money to buy it (assuming it's not going to sell for the next 50 years).

#2 - I have been diligently listening to Dave Ramsey's audio cd's on financial peace. Mind you, there are close to 10 cd's so I want to give myself a bit of public praise... even though I've only made it through the first three. But even after minimal exposure to Dave’s southern drawl and motivating success stories, I’m convinced that through smart saving and hardcore budgeting, I will be able to "build my wealth" in no time at all. (My translation: be in a position to buy the ridiculously expensive home above).

Obviously I wanted to take Dave's great advice, so I put Chris on a budget. As for my budget... it exists--in theory. Kind of. Somehow I have managed to justify spending twice my alloted amount the last few weeks. (Most-hypocritical-wife-in-the-world, I know.)

Anyhow, it was while I was immersed in a guilty but oh-so pleasurable shopping trip the most unsuspecting thing happened--I got flashed by a mannequin! I absolutely HAD to take a photo. Isn't the point of dressing a mannequin to persuade shoppers to want to buy the clothing? Big miss.

# 3 - Chris recently buzzed his head in an attempt to look like Justin Timberlake (his idea). Apparently this new look (short hair with something of a beard) made him feel like a hard knock because he has been driving like one. THREE tickets this month. Put your hands together for Arizona's most reckless driver! But in all fairness, two of the three were caught by photo radar.

For those of you who are not familiar with photo radar, take this opportunity to fear it... and vote against it, because it will more than likely be introduced to your state sooner or later. Phoenix is thickly speckled with photo radar cameras at intersections, on the freeways, and on random stretches of road. These cameras have sensors that detect traffic violations and will snap photos of the car and its operator when bad behavior is detected. This is commonly known as getting "flashed". And no, it has nothing to do with the mannequin above. Instead, an unpleasantly bright light flashes with each click of the camera. The photos are then sent to the violators with a fat ticket attached.

(The dreaded photo radar camera)

Chris has been the latest "flash victim" and at the rate he's going I'll be able to compile a scrapbook in a week or two. Because he drives my truck which is still registered in Wyoming under my parent's address, they have been the first to call us with the exciting news that we have mail.

After laying our options on the table we realized that we could do one of two things: come clean--just pay the tickets, and expect a fourth ticket for not having registered my truck in Arizona (I don't want to give up my WY plates) and probably die of starvation because we spent our food money on tickets. Or, the alternative--do research and find loopholes in the photo radar system. I chose the latter and this is what I found:

Arizona law states that all complaints and traffic tickets must be personally served before sanctions can be enforced. However, the state, in an attempt to bypass the law, has set up photo radar cameras and simply mails the ticket with a number of other threats (suspension of license, summons, court appearances, etc.) to the violator. Out of fear and ignorance, most people will mail back the required paperwork and pay the fine while naively waiving the states legal requirement to serve them.

However, those who study up on this subject quickly realize that they are under no legal obligation to pay the fines until the ticket has been personally served by a police officer. But because most cops don't have time to run around the city knocking on peoples doors, the charges are dropped after 120 days.

Is it legal? From what I understand (don't hold me to this in court). Is it ethical? That's subjective.

#4 – Chris and I temporarily adopted a stray dog that our next door neighbors rescued. It’s actually a rather uneventful story considering that we didn’t technically “find” the dog and only had her for a few hours, but she was beyond cute, and that’s enough for her to get mentioned.

In short: I kept hearing a dog barking during the night and swore it sounded like it was coming from our back yard. Low and behold—there was a dog in our back yard. Turns out that our neighbors found her on the street and brought her home with the intention to take her to the pound. After Chris and I spoke with them and explained that we were willing to take care of her and find her a home, they passed her off.

She was a miniature pinscher—basically a dwarf version of a doberman, and lucky for her, her stinking cute looks got her in the house. I have never known dogs to be cuddly, but this one was very much so--and sweet. She would jump on my lap, nuzzle her head under my arm, and fall sound asleep. With our hearts melting, Chris and I made her a little nest in our room and put her to bed. Just when we were feeling like the best doggie parents in the world, we realized that we weren't cut out for the job.

Our dog HAD to be held at all times or she would start whimpering and whining. I wasn’t about to let a stray dog on the bed, but I also wasn’t about to spend the night on the floor with her either, so she cried and cried and cried. After a while, the cuteness wore off and her separation anxiety got to be too much for Chris. He did what he could to pacify her till 4 am (I was dead asleep of course), until he couldn’t take it anymore. He eventually gave up on the nest idea and put her outside.

Well, that dumb little dog thought we were abandoning here like her last owner, so she ran away. I was so sad to wake up without our needy dog, but Chris said that he saw her running around Mesa today with another stray. On the bright side, now she knows where to find a bunch of suckers who will let her in, and make her a nest, and feed her bacon if she ever cares to come back. Come back!

I don't have any cute photos of our dog, but this is also a miniature pinscher. They have the striking looks of a doberman but without the attitude and they are always puppy sized!