Your life is yours alone.

Rise up and live it.

Just feel like collecting some quotes here right now.

The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half-inch eraser - in case you thought optimism was dead. ~Robert Brault

You've got a lot of choices. If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you're not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice. ~Steven D. Woodhull

It doesn't hurt to be optimistic. You can always cry later. ~Lucimar Santos de Lima

It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. ~Roy Disney

Everything is something you decide to do, and there is nothing you have to do. ~Denis Waitley

We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love. ~Author Unknown

If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it. ~Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book

I will not be as those who spend the day in complaining of headache, and the night in drinking the wine that gives it. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it. ~Mary Engelbreit

life is getting very interesting...
On March 1, I started my new job. So far I really like it.  For the first week or so I didn't have much to do other than meet with various people in different departments, learn about the inner workings of the company and listen in on some calls. Listening in on calls is very interesting; I was particularly impressed listening to the fraud department. It's amazing how quickly they can catch fraudulent activity on a card! I heard one call that was made to the customer within 10 minutes of a fraudulent charge being made with their card. 

Last week I got assigned to a big interesting project, and I am spending a lot of time in conference calls and messing with spreadsheets. There's SO much to learn about how the company runs and all the details of this project. I'm a little overwhelmed at times, but I am starting to learn all the important acronyms. Everybody I work with seems very nice. 

So work is going well, and I have some other interesting things going on. Justin and I are buying a house! We weren't even considering it until the 2nd week of March, when we got talked into speaking with our friend's dad who is a loan officer. We found out how much we were preapproved for and based on that and the $8k tax credit for first time homebuyers....we decided it made a lot of sense to start looking at houses. Since the deadline for the tax credit requires you to be under contract by the end of April, we weren't necessarily optimistic about finding a great house in time, but we decided to give it a shot.  We looked at maybe 9 houses in person after narrowing it down online. And we chose a house we saw on our first day of looking!  
We were still concerned about the timing because it was a short sale (preforeclosure) and they are rumored to be difficult and lengthy, contrary to the name. Our friends tried to buy a short sale and waited months only to get rejected. So I was trying not to get my hopes up while we waited for the bank to respond to our offer.  They actually got back to us within a couple days! And they rejected our offer and countered, and we are taking their counteroffer.  Tonight we went and signed a TON of papers for our loan. Next week the house will be inspected, and hopefully we can close mid-April!!!  So excited.  Clarification on how quickly we made our decision: we first looked at houses in person on March 8. 

So the house has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and it's 1 story. It's in a nice suburb in Kernersville. The neighbors seem very nice and some of them are around our age. There are actually no neighbors behind, just farmland that is apparently unlikely to be sold and developed.  Hardwood floors, fireplace, weeping willow tree in the's awesome. The backyard is a hill, but it's not bad. There's a big patio part way down the hill that will be great for cookouts.  We are getting a good deal! I can't wait to be through with apartment living. Oh yeah, it's pretty  much the same distance to my work and Justin's work from the house. Yay!
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dress shopping etc
2 entries in a day, can you believe it?!
I just wanted to make a different entry for a completely different topic...
I know this wedding stuff may bore most of you but I really want it recorded for my own remembering. 

Yesterday I went on an adventure of epic proportions. I went in search wedding dress. My mom and Amanda (my maid of honor) came with me as I scoured the racks and tried on many dresses. First we went to Bridal Mart in Burlington, where they let you take dresses off the rack yourself and take 3 at a time into the fitting room. The fitting room is a huge room with little dividers that stick out only about 2 feet from the wall instead of actual changing rooms, so you don't have any privacy. Oh well! I must have tried on 15 dresses there, and decided that one of them was a "maybe."

Then we went to lunch at Red Bowl (an asian bistro) and after that we went to David's Bridal so I could try on some dresses there. No appointment, so we did have to wait about half an hour for a saleslady to be available. They won't let you take dresses off the rack yourself at David's.  We finally got paged and a saleslady led me and another bride back to our fitting rooms.

She started bringing us dresses that we had pointed out in the catalog. I tried on maybe 4. I was torn between the first and 3rd, knew I didn't want the 2nd one, but then 4th one was it!  I can't disclose details at this time since it's top secret. I ordered the dress and bought a veil and shoes. (I showed Justin the shoes but he can't see the dress or the veil!) The saleslady was super nice and I think she got a kick out of me and my mom. She gave me a high five when I said I wanted to loosen my dress up before the reception so I could eat. Heh.

So I was super excited to have picked out my dress, and we went back to my apartment and cracked open a huge bottle of Beringer White Zinfandel to celebrate. Amanda invited her bf Brian and her friend Laura over and dangit if we ladies didn't finish off that huge bottle of wine. Haha. We had a brilliant time talking about numerous things that would be inappropriate for civilized conversation, and Justin got home in time for the tail end of the festivities. I love impromptu little parties!
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I got a job!!!
A couple weeks ago, I had an person interview at American Express. (see previous entry where I was waiting to hear back from them after my phone interview)  A woman gave me a tour of their huge building and then I sat down for the interview with one man who was there and 2 on the phone. A little different. And I guess I did well, because I got a job offer last Tuesday!!! 

My title will be Industrial Engineer II and I start on March 1. I'm really excited, because Am Ex seems like a great place to work. The building itself is really nice and seems pretty modern, with lots of skylights and windows and escalators. There's a cafeteria where it appears they have some good food (I was there in the afternoon so I don't think they had everything out but the salad bar looked very fresh).  There's ping pong & foos ball, and a walking trail by the large pond just outside. I will have plenty of vacation time for my honeymoon later this year, but unfortunately Justin will not have as much vacation time as I will. 
Anyway, I'll be improving efficiency and economics of their processes! It should be interesting.

The location is great also. It's about 20 minutes from where we live now, but we're moving in a few weeks to be closer to Justin's job...and the apartment we picked out before I even got my job offer happens to be 16 minutes from my job and 16 minutes from his (according to google maps) so exactly halfway between!  I'm super excited about moving...especially after we just had a problem with some water leaking from our upstairs neighbor's shower and out of our wall! We are getting a good deal on a 2bedroom apartment in Kernersville, and it's so much nicer than our current apartment.

I feel like things are starting to fall into place...
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wedding planning, job search continuing STILL
I had a phone interview about a week and a half ago about a great job that I'd really like to get...still waiting to hear back.  I've been unemployed for a YEAR! I'm seriously ready to get back to work. Sometimes it's kinda depressing, feeling like I'm waiting for my life to be un-paused. 

Other than looking for jobs, I've been working out, doing some wedding planning, and a little reading.

As we get into the nitty gritty of our wedding plans, it's starting to feel more like a reality and an exciting reality at that. I'm not the sort who dreamed about my wedding day from birth (and in fact, didn't start thinking about our wedding immediately after we were engaged), so I've been doing a lot of research. So now I have half an idea of how to throw a wedding. It's funny, every little detail we decide on gets me more excited.

We have booked our venue (Castle McCulloch), our caterer, and an amazing photographer. We went this weekend to see a florist, where I realized how little I know about flowers. Luckily they put books in front of you and you point at the pictures you like and they can make it work. I think today I just realized how offbeat my wedding vision really is. I don't mean offbeat like OUTRAGEOUS offbeat, just definitely not a cookie cutter wedding. It makes things more difficult. I feel like our meeting with the florist would have been so much simpler if I wanted the typical bouquets of roses or calla lilies.  Argh if we were getting married in May I'd be able to have my favorite, tulips.
It's not necessarily that I'm TRYING to make our wedding different in every way, it's just that I'm not crazy about roses or calla lilies. Maybe I've just been overexposed to them because they are so popular. Like a song you hear over and over on the radio until you begin to hate it. Speaking of music, we've been looking at musicians for our ceremony and I'm getting very excited about that, because I think we are going to have some fun with it. No "Canon in D," thanks.  As nice of a song as it is, I just want something a little more meaningful to us.

Anyway, nobody wants to hear about wedding plans...too bad I don't have much else going on!  Trying to get in shape, definitely starting to see more definition in my arms.  Working out definitely puts me in a better mood.

Christmas & New Year's
It snowed a good bit recently. Spent a few days in Maggie Valley with my parents and Justin. There was 12+ inches of snow on the ground there.
Christmas: We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my parents, and the rest of Christmas with Justin's family.
My parents gave me a really nice 10-cup food processor and a waffle maker, and they got Justin New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii.(more on that later)
Justin gave me Moulin Rouge on DVD and a Gary Fong flash diffuser that I wanted. :-) I got him a fuzzy robe and an mp3 player.
I also received a few books(including 2 on wedding planning), a scarf with matching gloves, pretty earrings, a nice gaming headset, some clothes, a sleeping pad for camping, and a very stylish purple peacoat. Oh yeah, Justin got a nice 2 person tent, so we'll be camping more comfortably now.
Super Mario Bros Wii turned out to be extremely fun. We played a bit on Christmas, though we only had 2 wiimotes so only 2 of us could play at a time.
On New Year's Eve, Amanda & Brian came over and brought their wiimotes, so we got to play 4 player super mario bros! Complete chaos. You're constantly killing each other in various ways. You might accidentally jump on your friend's head as they are jumping a gap, therefore pushing them down into the hole. Or you might throw a shell directly at them. Or, while carrying them, run them right into an enemy, or throw them into hot lava. So of course it's quite hilarious and fun, as long as you understand ahead of time that you will die many times.

Anyway, it's 2010 now! whoa! I've been unemployed for almost a year, so that's sort of depressing. At least Justin got a good job though! He's working for the city of Winston Salem, and he started this past week.

We've been doing various things to plan our wedding. Today we visited a caterer and tried some delicious samples. Next weekend we're meeting another caterer, and then we'll choose between the 2.

fitness, wedding stuff
I guess it's been awhile since I updated.
Justin and I finally picked a venue and date for our wedding! Next October at Castle McCulloch. A lot of the wedding venues here in the South are big white houses or plantations, and we really wanted something different.

I joined the YMCA in October, and I've actually been going and working out on a fairly regular basis! I've been going about twice a week every week (except for 2 weeks when I didn't work out due to having a cold and celebrating Thanksgiving). I train on the elliptical and then do some strength training on the weight equipment. I know you're supposed to work out 3 times a week but I figure 2 is better than none. And I push myself pretty hard when I go. I've also been trying to eat healthier, lots of snacking on cauliflower and carrots, and no more eating tons of sweets. So far I'm not really losing any weight(I would like to lose 5-10 lbs) but I'm definitely gaining muscle on my arms and seeing slightly more definition in my legs. Anyway, this is the first time I've really stuck with a challenging workout regimen. It was hard to get motivated at first, but now I guess it's habit. Let's hope I can keep it up. I guess I have plenty of time to get in shape before the wedding, but I'd like to already be in shape before I go dress shopping.

We've got the Christmas tree up and I'm listening to Christmas music on Pandora. :-) I still have a little shopping left to do, but not much.

Not much else to report, I guess.

New things to love
I have a new favorite song. It's by Chip Greene, who I'm pretty sure nobody's ever heard of. I heard the song on Pandora (another new favorite thing of mine).  Here's a link to a page where you can hear it, the song is called "Not Enough":
You can listen to it there or even right click on one of the links to download the mp3. I highly recommend. It actually took a couple listens for me to fully appreciate the song. You know how it is, the first time you hear it you're like "hey that's not bad" and then the third time you hear it you're cussing to express your enjoyment. Of course the timing has to be right, also. If you're not in the mood for a particular kind of music then it won't hit you.

Justin and I just finished watching Season 1 of Dexter. I've got to say, that show realllly grew on me. At first I was kind of into it and happily obliged Justin when he suggested we watch some, but after several episodes I was lying in bed at night thinking about the show and what would happen next. It's twisted and shocking and amazing. I love stories about vigilante justice, and Dexter is a really likeable character.

I just discovered an awesome photo editing plugin (which I had to install Irfanview to use) called Topaz Adjust. It's amazing. I'll put up some results soon. 

photography is in my head
me, beach
I've recently found new inspiration from some photography I've been going through some old photos and editing them. I'm still trying to find my style. My natural inclination is to try to make pretty eye-candy a la magazine or calendar photos...but then I realize how much I'm drawn to photos that are NOT magazine pretty. I like the raw, the real, authentic, rugged, unairbrushed, the slightly grainy, gritty, spontaneous, dirty, ordinary, unnaturally colored, darkly cheerful, and oddly lit.  

Here are some photos of mine that I've been messing with.  I do not take many vertically oriented photos, and that may need to change.

Restaurant Review
Today, Justin and I tried a fairly new restaurant in Greensboro: Xia Asian Fusion.   The decor is very nice, with contemporary Asian-looking accents. The waiter thoughtfully put us in a romantic (read: dark) corner. We ordered the Vietnamese Iced Tea, which actually tasted like iced coffee. So I enjoyed it, since I like that kind of thing. If you're looking for a more tea-like tea, you might want to pass on that one. 

We decided to order some sushi as an appetizer. The Sushi selection was pretty good, and priced pretty reasonably. We chose the Crunchy Roll, and I definitely don't remember what was in it, but it was amazing! The menu says you get 10 rolls in an order, but they gave us 11. :-)  I was delighted to see that the Wasabi served on the side with our sushi was molded into the shape of a leaf. A nice touch.

For my entree, I ordered the Lemongrass Chicken with Green Beans. The green beans had been "infused" with Szechuan sauce, so there was some spice to the dish. It was very tasty and the portion was very large.  Not only that, our server decided to give us 50% off of my entree! Justin asked him why and he said he just felt like it. :-)

I was really impressed with the service. I'm sure it helped that we were the only customers at the time (we went for an early dinner on a Thursday), but I thought the service was outstanding. Our server was very friendly, made sure we had everything we needed, and mentioned he didn't want to come by too much and "interrupt" our "love story." Haha!

All in all a very positive experience. If you live in Greensboro, I highly recommend you check out Xia, which is on Battleground Ave. near Carousel movie theater.  Here's a link to the menu for the Xia in Winston Salem, which seems to be the same:


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