Friday, February 20, 2009

Ronald Reagan

I've been trying to get through a 837 page book called "Reagan - A Life in Letters". I've had to take several breaks and have now only reached page 566. I am determined though...because I have a major thing for "the great communicator". He's my guy. The more I read, the more I like the man and the less alienated I feel by the liberal society around me. It's hard work swimming against the current and I have often just wanted to give up my values and convictions and vote myself into poverty with everyone else. (Maybe that's a little extreme). It amazes me how much the issues of 30 years ago so closely parallel those we're still combating today. Anyway, here are some encouraging, challenging, inspiring quotes from my pal R.R., both personal and political:

Address to National Association of Realtors, March 28, 1982:
"We don't have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven't taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much."

October 27, 1964:
"Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last."

January 20, 1981:
"Government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem."

October 27, 1964:
"The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing."

April 1986:
"When our citizens are attacked or abused anywhere in the world on the direct orders of hostile regimes, we will respond so long as I'm in this office."


LA Times, January, 1970:
"Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence."

First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981:
"It is not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work -- work with us, not over us; stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it."

October 27, 1964:
"Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we're always "against," never "for" anything."

Letter Dated - May 28, 1971 to Cosmopolitan Magazine:
"The nicest thing a girl ever did for me was when a girl named Nancy married me and brought a warmth and joy to my life that has grown with each passing Year. I know she won't mind if I say the second nicest thing was a letter from a little fifth grade girl last week. She added a P.S. "You devil you." I've walked with a swagger ever since."

Letter to Reagan's 21 month old daughter Patti - July 12, 1954:
"I'm counting on you to take care of Mommie and keep her safe for me because there wouldn't be any moon or stars in the sky without her. The breeze would whisper no secrets and the warmth would go out of the sun. So you guard her very carefully and then you'll always have a pair of footsteps to follow, and if you follow her footsteps you'll grow up to be a sweet, lovely person just made for love."

In an unsent letter written between 1967 & 1975:
"Professors whether liberal, radical or conservative should not impose their personal philosophy on students. They should return to the one time ethic of their honorable calling and by exposing students to all viewpoints teach them how to think not what to think."

In a letter written in 1976:
"Yes, I do have a close and deeply felt relationship with Christ and believe I have experienced what you refer to as being born again. I have come to realize that whatever I do has meaning only if I ask that it serve his purpose........For I believe that, in my present undertaking, whatever the outcome is, it will be his doing. I'll pray for understanding of what it is he would have me do. I have long believed there was a divine plan that placed this land here to be found by people of a special kind and that we have a rendezvous with destiny. Yes, there is a spirit moving in this land and a hunger in the people for a spiritual revival. If the task I seek should be given me I would pray only that I could perform it in a way that would serve God."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Laundry

I have a strange aversion to folding and putting away laundry. I don't mind making piles of dirty laundry and rotating each load from floor (where I make my piles) to washer, to dryer, to the 'clean' pile (on the bed). It's the sorting, folding, storing process I'm not a fan of.

It truly bothers me that I'm so lazy about laundry. I love managing my wardrobe and the various tasks that go along with it. So what's my deal?

Here it is: I have too much flippin' stuff. When it's time to put away my clean clothes, I feel like there is no place to put them worthy of their presence. There is no point to ironing anything before the day it's worn because it's just going to be shoved into a crowded closet with no room to breath creating more wrinkles. Ugh...I'm having anxiety issues just writing about it.

I am no longer a hoarder when it comes to clothing. If I don't like it or it doesn't fit, I don't keep it in my closet. I donate bags and bags every year and have cut down on my consumption drastically. Yet still, my clothes are suffocating.

Somehow, I just need to go to town on my closet. I need to set a limit on what I'm going keep, like it or not. I need to invest in a closet system that makes sense. I need to buy nice hangers that will be gentle on my clothing. I need to be able to SEE what I have, and it be ready-to-wear.

Some blessed day, I will have a closet resembling a small boutique. Until this day comes, I need to work with what I have more efficiently. Here's a brilliant article that might just get me motivated: http://powerfulappearance.com/top_10_tips_organizing_the_closet-5.htm

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Love of a Discount

In case I haven't been entirely clear to the point of being obnoxious, I love http://www.endless.com/. Crazy as it sounds, I think I've found a new obsession: http://www.beatmyprice.com/. Just pop the name of the item you want into the space provided. Type in where you found the item and the cost. Press "Beat This" and viola! You have options. I searched for a pair of shoes I found on Endless for $49.95, and discovered that I could get them for $26.95 elsewhere. Worth saving nearly 50%? Youbetcha (that's Minnesotan for 'Absolutely'). I was so excited, I didn't even think twice about buying the shoes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Find and Seek

What I've Found:

Trousers. Thank God for the Gap. I found 2 pair of mid-rise, wide-leg trousers at Gap in my size for a whopping $8.95. I chose medium-gray and light brown colors - much needed neutrals. They were originally priced at $64.50. This was in Vegas. Then, I found a pair at the Mall of America for $12.95. Charcoal Gray with an adjustable waist instead of belt loops. Ask about them at your local Gap. They're brilliant for those of us who fluctuate weight/sizes regularly.

Black Suit Vest. I don't typically buy anything at full price, but I couldn't pass up the Black Suit Vest from H & M. I spent $24.95. It really pulls together an otherwise plain work ensemble. I intend on going back for the coordinating pencil skirt, hoping it goes on sale.

Plain, Brown Pumps. I still cannot believe it happened, but it did. I found a pair of Brown Suede COLE HAAN NIKE AIR TECHNOLOGY wedges at Marshalls for $29! These shoes retail at $225. If it's been a while since you've experienced Marshall's shoe department, now is the time.

What I'm Seeking:

Black Trench Coat. Not just any black trench coat. It must be feminine, lined, structured, flattering. I spotted some potential with the new line at H & M. I won't even try it on until I find a place for it in my budget. $60

The Perfect Bra. I think I'm a 34DD. It's brutal. The size is nearly impossible to find. Shirts that fit in the chest don't fit in the shoulder and vice verse. 'Normal' bras make me look top-heavy, making me super self-conscious. I HATE bra shopping, but it must be done. Here's what I'm looking for: A minimizer bra that lifts and separates with thick shoulder straps and that is slightly padded (for cold days). I have no idea if this exists or where to go to get it. I'll probably start at Macy's and hope I don't end up at Nordstrom's paying $120 for 1 bra. That would make me really sad.

Plain Black Pumps. I have several pair of black shoes that all serve their purpose, but I just need a pair with no frills. Simple, comfortable. I wish to not spend more that $50 on these.

Non-Iron Tailored Fit Dress Shirt. Check them out at Brooks Brothers. They're quite pricey at $89, but they do go on sale/clearance. They come in all the basic colors/patterns. I'll definitely be trying these on at the store to make sure the fit is right on me. I LOVE the idea of having an oxford I don't have to iron and I know it will get a lot of use.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

By Myself


I’m crazy, crazy, crazy about my husband. Really. He’s my favorite person in the universe. We do nearly everything together. Sleep together, work together, vacation together, eat together, church together, ride together, play together. We’re always together…so it would seem.

There are a few things we don’t do together. Some of his interests include poker, disc-golf, beer, and television either too stupid or too violent for my taste. I enjoy shopping, reading, wine, and chic-tv.

He left on a business trip on Thursday morning. He comes home today. Here’s what has gone on since he’s been away:

Thursday:
Work 7:30a.- 4:30p.
Visit with out of town family 4:30p.- 6p.
Arbonne Party with girlfriends 6p.-10p.

Friday:
Work 7:30a.- 5p.
Visit my mom 5p.- 7p.
Party at Youth Pastor’s home 7p.- 2a.

Saturday:
MOA with family 12p.- 7p.
Friend’s Birthday Party 7p. - 12:30a.

Sunday:
Church 9:30a.- 12:30p.
Lunch with family 12:30p – 3:30p.
See “He’s Just Not That Into You” with girlfriends 3:30p.-6p.
Clean house & do laundry 6p.-10p.

Monday:
Work 7:30a.- 4:30p.
More cleaning & laundry 4:30p.- 6:30p.
Girlfriends come over to watch The Bachelor 6:30p.- 10p.

Tuesday:
Work 7:30a.- 4:30p.
Pick Steve up from the airport – 6p.!

You might’ve guessed, I’m a bit tired. But the last few days have been oh-so-fun. I remember when I had a house all to myself. I remember when I had a car all to myself; a bed all to myself; a bathroom all to myself; the tv all to myself. Oh, the freedom!

In spite of all that fun, oh how I miss my darling husband. As much as I love doing things by myself, I hate it too. I miss his kisses and cuddles. I miss holding hands on our drive to work. I miss our walks over lunch-hour. I miss having a warm body in bed with me. I miss taking care of him. I miss feeling protected always.

When it comes right down to it, I would marry Steve 100 times over and never bat an eye over having time by myself. I don't believe marriage is always this sweet, so because it is, I want him here, with me.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Want...


Shoes. I think about them all the time. I've pledged to myself that I was no longer going to indulge in cheap shoes. Cheap like KMart, Walmart, Payless, Target. Some exceptions may apply to Payless & Target, but you get it. So the alternative is expensive shoes? Well, kind of, yeah...

I'm not talkin' expensive like $700 Manolo Blahnik's. No, no, no. I'm talkin' Nine West, Charles David, BCBG, Steve Madden, Guess, and Kenneth Cole. I don't think I'm asking all that much. The footwear of my desire tends to run from $50-$150 regular retail price. But I don't pay regular retail prices...hardly ever. The most expensive shoes living in my 'saved' box on http://www.endless.com/ are Oh Deer! shoes. They're a funky blue bandanna print, 3 3/4 heel, originally priced at $154.95. Endless has them for $69.41. I've been wanting to check out the Oh Deer! brand for quite some time now...but even at a steal of $69.41, my heart stops a little.

Not only have I vowed to stop buying cheap shoes, I have also been trying to replace the cheap shoes I already have with better ones that will look better and hopefully feel better and last longer. Here are a few "investments" that I've made that have made me very happy:

Madden Girl tan mid-calf slouchy boot. Love them. Actually, the Madden Girl brand has been very good to me. And they're usually so inexpensive to begin with, I've even bought a pair at regular price. My boots were actually a purchase from http://www.dsw.com/. They were originally priced at $59, but I had a coupon for $10 and the website was offering another $10 off a $50 purchase. That deserves a Whoohoo!

Guess oxford platforms. They give me an additional 4 1/2 inches of height, baby! They're ideal for many of my trousers that I don't want to tailor. I won't be doing a lot of walking in these, but they serve their purpose and are comfortable for work. These had a price tag of $115.95, but Endless had them on sale for $63.77. Just my luck, my in-laws standard poodle found my previous pair of brown pumps to be rather tasty, therefore destroying them. They were cheap and in line for replacement anyway. My mother-in-law gave me $20 toward the purchase of a new pair, making my Guess platforms quite affordable.

J. Crew Goulashes. I had a cheap pair of rain boots from KMart that weren't bad. They had a black & white hounds tooth print with a pink buckle and pink lining. I wore them to play disc golf with my husband on a rainy day, and they were caked in mud. I sprayed them off in the bathtub as best I could, but they remained dingy looking. I wanted my next pair to have a more classic, less kiddie look. I found the J.Crew yellow and gray wellies online and on sale for $24.99 (I think the original price was $65). In addition, I spent $150 on my total purchase, giving me an additional 40% off the whole shebang. AND free shipping. Gotta watch for those deals at http://www.jcrew.com/ they're worth it.

I'll be at the Mall of America with out of town family this Saturday. If I can get through the weekend without spending, I can probably order my Oh Deer! shoes next week. Oh, boy!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Engagement

It's February. It's time to talk about love. I have so many romantic stories to share it's a little gross - I pre-apologize.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I had a fairly long courtship prior to our engagement. I know, some people date for a lot longer than we did, but compared to many of our friends, we took our time. I am grateful that Steve gave me the time and space to grow up. I was 19 when when our relationship began and lived with my parents. In the 3 1/2 years we dated, I got my 1st apartment, bought a VW Beetle, climbed the corporate ladder (so to speak), bought my first home, and grew as an independent woman. I wouldn't change those years for anything.

On the Saturday before Valentine's Day, I went to a friend's baby shower in the morning. I was all dressed up for my date with Steve which was to take place in the afternoon. I remember a friend (Deb) asking where he was taking me to which I simply replied, "I don't know, it's a surprise." Deb proceeded to inquire if I thought he was going to 'pop the question'. "No way, I don't think so." was my approximate response.

So Steve picked me up at my condo mid-afternoon. I had been wanting to see Le Miserable which was playing at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul. Steve said he had tried to get tickets for Valentines Day but they were sold out. At that moment, he was being truthful, and I believed him.

As we approached Downtown St. Paul, I just knew he was taking me to see the play. I inquired, and eventually he confessed that a coworker had pulled some strings for him. Whoohoo! Our seats were great. We were so close, I could see the spit coming from the performers mouths but was far enough away not to get sprayed - perfect.

After the theater, Steve asked me where I'd like to go for dinner. I wasn't very hungry and thought just someplace where I could get a salad would be nice. We decided on a restaurant, but Steve kept driving in the opposite direction. I finally asked and he said he wanted to stop by his parents house to grab something first. I just went along with it.

Steve and I hold hands in the car. Pretty much always have. I love his hands. They're usually warm and dry and perfect for my hand to reside in. This day, I noticed his hand was cold and bit clammy.

We pulled into the driveway and Steve said something like,"Hey, remember I was telling you about a project I was working on in the backyard? (Note: this is the dead of Minnesota Winter) I want to show you what I've been doing, is that cool?"

"Uh...ok." (Good thing I was wearing boots or he might have gotten a different answer).

As we approached the backyard, I saw a little spot cleared out in the far corner with a pretty bench and...(getting closer)...a big stone...(getting closer)...cedar chips...(closer)...rose pedals...

This is where I start freaking out just a little. "What IS this? Steve, what IS this? What IS this, Steve?" If he responded, I didn't hear him.

He walked me over to the big stone where I read this inscription:
"This stone forever adorns the location where Steve Erickson asked Jill Melander, his true love and dearest friend, to become his wife" February 11, 2006

Followed by Matthew 7:25: "And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock."

Before I knew it, I was sitting on the stone bench with Steve down on one knee in front of me. I was so nervous and embarrassed and genuinely surprised. He asked me to be his wife. As I leaned over to give my future husband a kiss and embrace, out of the corner of my eye I saw a little hand hanging out of the upstairs bedroom window. It was his niece Kara and what appeared to be the entire fam. Still hugging Steve, I give them all thumbs up and a "whoohoo!" When our giggles subsided, Steve presented me with a little black, velvet box. I beamed. He opened it....

Empty?!

"Where's my ring?" I asked softly.

"I think I know who has it. Let's go find it." He replied. We walked across the lawn to the 3-season porch. He turned the light on to reveal the room completely altered for the occasion. The furniture had been removed except the glass table had been moved to the center of the room. And in the corner, my stuffed cat, Snowball, who I've had since age 4, sat waiting for me on a tall, round table. In his paws was a card addressed to me that read "Can we please be a family now?" And there was my gorgeous ring.

This is where I start crying. I am pretty much crying right now, remembering this moment. For Steve to include Snowball meant more to me than I can express. I don't even entirely know why that is.

Steve pulled me close, and we put the ring on my finger. Suddenly, I have this awkward feeling...

"Wait. Are you recording this?"

Sure enough. He had not one, but I believe several hidden video cameras recording this event. This new knowledge kept the ugly cry at bay and we moved to sit at our dinner-table-for-two. His mom is a fantastic cook and had prepared an amazing I-don't-know-how-many-course meal for us. Each meal was presented to us by some of the most important people in our lives: First, his mom and dad, then my mom and dad, then his sister and family, then Steve's best friend and his wife. Each toasted with us and spoke a unique blessing upon our future together.

Although the meal was amazing, the last thing I wanted to do was eat. So Steve and I cooed at each other for a bit and then went upstairs to join everyone else in the dining room. Many gifts and pictures later, we dismissed ourselves to be alone again. We made calls to those especially close to us, drove to Walmart to buy wedding magazines and discussed how we would announce it to the church in the morning.

I truly feel that this is the day my life began.