Is this 30?

Complex work in a constantly political and unstable environment (dealing with co-worker dramas).
Setting financial goals and constantly striving to reach the next level.
Stretching to make time to stay healthy and to make up for sedentary office life.
More health check ups (check that you blood sucking vampires)!
Come home to never ending to do lists. Remodeling...

It seems 3 fold:
Stabling out your financial portfolio
Building out your professional career
Figuring out your family vision

Most days it is hard to remember to slow down and smell the flowers, because as soon as there is free time there is something else to catch up on. Trying to remember to balance the long term goals and make sure to live enough in the day.
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    calm calm

(no subject)

There is something about adult life that has the tendency to suck the creativity right out of your soul. It seemed when I was a child words slithered through my tongue smoothly and formed images onto page after endless page. Characters were alive and a whole world could find its home in my mind.

Now at the end of my day I escape my imprisonment from the confined four walled coffin only to come home and lack energy to create.

The sad part is that for the last year I have fell into the comfort of American life. Not to say I have not accomplished a ton of work on the home front (yeah domesticity), but more that I have not accomplished nearly enough on the creative front to feel fulfilled.

I work my 9 to 5 (plus), come home to a picket fence, and living room a-glow with television. I used to pride myself on NOT being one of "those" people. And here I land in the very place I avoided for years. For 10 years I didn't own a TV, did not care to, and was glad I did not have the slightest clue what people were talking about when they would mention the latest episode of so-and-so. During that time I filled the evening with music and strange people with equally strange tales. DJing brought to my life a similar rhythm (a whole different story all together). Looking back now I can see it provided a warm glowing hum that took my mind away from the rest of the world.

I keep trying to find ways to rekindle a spark that will ignite my soul again. This time I want it to be different.

I think part of the struggle is transitioning back to a creative life is that the things I once truly enjoyed I have lost so I have to relearn them. I started with the basics and where my road to creativity started - writing. I began writing again (shorts mostly), but the progress has been slower than I had hoped (not to mention my vocabulary and character building have been in a less than desirable state).

If there is one thing I have learned about being a creature on this earth, it is that behavior is learned. The more I lived with people who shared the practice of being artistic, the easier I found it to share the habit. Unfortunately my partner is...for lack of a better term...not the creative type. I am fine with this, but it leads back to the frustrating point that it is easier to share a passion for creativity with someone who can join in that passion.

So I am turning a new page. My goal is to fill the blank pages with my quest to reinsert creativity into my life. I am starting a blog to capture 365 days of ways to insert creativity into daily life.

Let the countdown begin.

Amber's Blog

Maple Cabinets it is...

Today we picked out the new cabinets! We got a great deal and kept right on target with the under 4k budget. They look pretty close to these:

I think the basic maple will go well in our house. Though maple is not my favorite it is pretty neutral, the cabinet faces have clean lines and they came with a ton of cool features (dove tailed, slow closing drawers, lazy susans, trash holder, metal corner caddy etc).

Now we are sampling marmoleum for the floor. I want to do a teal/chocolate brown and cream combo for the room that I think will compliment the cabinets nicely. I am struggling between a cream/teal-ish floor tiles or chocolate brown. I am thinking that chocolate brown will appeal to a larger audience though and the dark floors will be good for foot traffic. So functionality will likely win the battle. I guess I will have to settle for a teal accent in the back-splash.
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    tired tired

Vids and Slow Days

This weekend was pretty relaxing.

*Thursday we went to Sushi @ Sinju with Mike & Carley then checked out a bad movie night hosted by GrindHouse. Delta Force (Chuck Norris) was the center attraction and it was good times.
*Friday Chris and Jason came to help Greg put in a new beam before I got home. The kitchen remodel is going well, but the time is flying. I hope we can get it pretty close to done by New Year's!

After grabbing dinner @ our favorite strip mall Mexican spot we cracked out on the new Wii Super Mario. It was pretty amusing, but we were all cracked out on it and getting bitchy by the end of the night.

*Saturday we went to a couple estate sales and then looked at cabinets and grabbed happy hour @ the Portland Taproom.

Cabinets are going to be hard to decide on. We found an outlet store that has some fairly affordable deals though. I think we are going with Hickory cabinets. Not my favorite, but we found a decent set that will work for under $4000...much more affordable then the majority of other options we have seen that cost almost double (for nothing super special). At this point I am fine with something affordable as long as it is not hideous. I don't think we will be at this house all that much longer anyway. I want the remodel to look nice, but don't want to sink so much money that if we do choose to sell we won't recoup the costs.

*Today was quiet. We ran some errands and grabbed lunch @ 5 Guys, looked at more cabinets and met up with Steve and Skye to look at Christmas decorations and ideas for Skye's nursery. It was good to see them. Crazy to think that Greg will be an uncle in a few short months. Can't say I am not a tinge jealous. One more year I think I will be ready to start down that road. One thing at a time!

Work has been busy. My first project is transitioning before the end of the year. I started two other new projects that will go into April-ish next year. So that is a good sign. Negotiations are going slow on one of the new projects and I am hoping I can nail it down this week before the holiday.

This year went so quickly. I cannot believe it is already Thanksgiving.

Luckily this year for Thanksgiving we don't have much prep work to do (give the lack of a kitchen). I am lucking forward to some down time on Turkey day before we go into full speed again on the kitchen.

Demo is finished and the new beam is in. There are a few last touches Greg will do tomorrow.
Next weekend we get the joy of wiring and framing. I hope we can get thorough it because that will put us in good shape.
The week following Greg and Chris are going to work on putting in the drywall and adding texture. And that same weekend we want to put in the subfloor and start the tiling.

If we can get all this done by the 11th I think we will be in pretty good shape.

Kitchens are expensive! After pricing out all the budget is looking something like this:
Cabinets 4-7k
Counters 2-3k
Appliances (Stove 1k, DW 500, Sick/HW 500, Microwave/Vent 300) 2300-3k
Floor 2-3k
Lighting 300-500
Paint/Curtains/Final Touches 200-300

We are trying to keep under 10k and it is a struggle! All-in-all it will be worth it because it will add a lot of value to the house and be a functional cute kitchen.

Okay off to bed for Bonzo...
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    calm calm


I never realized how sensitive I am to motion. I am finally starting to feel like I am not swaying. The cruise was as I expected (a cruise to be)...except much older demographics given the destination. I would have to agree with the town-ie who phrased it as "cruisers fall into three categories: newly wed, over fed, or nearly dead." Each port was very touristy, but we did a fairly decent job of staying clear. Though the time spent on land was more minimal than we would have liked, it did make us both agree that a drive up to see the rest of Alaska is a must.

Ketchikan was a beautifully set town nestled in between water and mountains. I had read ahead and was mostly interested in the Saxman Totem collection and it turned out to be well worth the tour that accompanied the adventure. The local transporter (Ray) told tales of local life and stopped by a few wildlife areas where I was lucky enough to catch a glance of a bear butt (though not fortunate enough to capture it on film). Though I was able to capture some wildlife an eagle, some fish and a few blue heron. Walking along the Salmon ladder was really fascinating, but given the time of the season there was a special odor that came with the walk. After getting sucked into the Creek Street area (but that was short lived as it was jam packed with tourists) we ended up wondering around and fell upon a taxidermy shop full of strange critters. The shop housed otters, lynxes, foxes, wolves, moose, wolverine, bears, and a slough of other animals. After our long morning jaunt we caught a late lunch at the Annabelle's where we were pleasantly surprised to find that the Halibut Fish & Chips + Seafood Chowder were both excellent. Little time remained, but we were able to walk along the far-side of town before re-boarding the gigantic boat (that towers something fierce over the small city).

Hubbard Glacier was by far (in my opinion) the most incredible part of our trip. Words really cannot do justice to the experience, but I will share how it made me feel. There is a magic that surrounds you as the crisp fresh air pierces your lungs and the cold gusts of wind trickle across your exposed skin. You look through slightly teared eyes (a reaction to the cold) at the mystical clouds metamorphosing along the supple emerald mountains. All the while the splendor that ensues is captured in the pristine azure water rippling towards fragments of teal ice. Emerging at the core of the scenery is the layered splendor of glacier ice formations. Imposing it consumes the horizon and demands you full attention. As you are drawn towards the jagged edges of crystalline color like a prism it changes ever so slightly with the shifting light of the sun. After a few minutes you begin to feel harmonious with her beauty, yet in the blink of an eye her face changes with a forceful crash as shards plunder to the ocean. Echoing across the passage-way like a eerie thunderous memory it is then that you wake from her hypnotic trance and realize immortality. In that moment you are bound in time. Reciprocal with nature you have captured a reflection of her beauty that will never be the same. As for me, she has stolen beats of my heart and branded her icy images into my soul.

Juneau was far from the beauty I had envisioned and found in the other scenery in Alaska. A rugged industrial port town truly shaped by human hands. In the morning we made plans to explore another man-made construct - Mushing. After a quick jaunt past the State Offices and up to the Governor's mansion we were off to the Musher camp. We got to take a ride with some of the dogs training for the Iditarod and got to play with some of the new puppies. In the afternoon we were back in town for an adventure up to Mendenhall Glacier. We hiked there for the majority of the afternoon searching for bears. Though we did not see any there, the site was the Alaska we had been told about and did not disappoint on the beauty of land, sky and water.

Victoria was our last land stop and it was a dreamy day of sunshine to behold. We were all return visitors so we seized the day to walked around town looking at the architecture and started our self guided pub tour off that continued down the harbor front until the sunset and we taxied our way back to the ship wrapping up our adventure.

Now sleep deprived I am off to rest to recoup from my vacation.
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    calm calm

Last day of freedom...

As my last day of freedom nears and end I must reflect on the last 6 months:

- Completed a job seminar and revamped my resume.
- Applied for a ton-o-jobs and completed six interviews...then got a job.
- Found a new hobby (collecting antiques).
- Completed ~15 PDUs (towards my PMP certification).
- Built a professional development plan, researched, and chose a direction for more education.
- Done a ton of work on the house - landscaping the whole front yard.
- Taken some fun trips to Denver/Nebraska, Eugene (*3), Seattle, Oregon Beach (*2).
- Welcomed Greg into his 30s (and booked our joint adventure to Alaska).
- Took a hypnosis, art, cardio and yoga class.
- Wrote 23 pages to start my book.

Not too shabby.  I am curious to see in 6 months where I am.  Crazy how fast life seems to be flying by these days.  Being in my 30s is strange!
  • Current Music
    Undertow - Stars

Zero to 60 in 5 seconds...

I got a job, Systems Analyst @ Standard Insurance (starts next week).
House is coming along nicely, now I need to get everything in line to refi @ the end of August.
Next I want to begin studying for my ITIL foundation (then planning on working towards my Six Sigma Black Belt).
I am also researching graduate programs in Organization Behavior - 2011. 
Greg and I are viewing a promising site in a week (Lac de Fleur).

Looking for a Yoga studio downtown, any suggestions?

Sheesh by the time I look up again we will be on our trip to Alaska!  I can't wait :)

Oh and anyone seen Ka or Love...if so which would you recommend?

Well it is way past my bedtime and I have to go to an orientation tomorrow.  Ugh I am going to have trouble sleeping tonight, I can already tell.
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More House Project Action...

Today was surprisingly easy to sleep in and we didn't even open our eyes until around 1...not very common anymore.  Though I suppose that is not to surprising as this weekend has been a lot of running around.

The majority of the weekend Greg and I helped my mom install her new door and work on the office remodel.  The door and hardware are installed and look great!  Also Greg is still there helping finish insulated and hang the office dry wall.  We did manage to pick-out door, closet and window hardware, a doorbell, a mailbox, a cat door and paint samples for the bedroom, bathroom and living room.

Now it is up to my mom to test her paint samples this week and I am going to help her pick out an exterior, a sconce and a bedroom light.  That will leave drapes for last, but I don't imagine they will have the room textured for a week or two more.  Also in that time I asked her to start looking at options for what type of vanity she wants to do in her bathroom so that she can calculate the project cost and decide which project to do next.  But all in all the heavy lifting should be done tonight on helping them with their top projects.  Now back to work on our house!

The fence is complete, but now we are about a month behind projects because we have been helping my mom out so much.  
  1. Install new windows (4w June)
  2. Re-shingle backside, bedroom and trim (1-2w July)
  3. Rebuild front porch (3w July)
  4. Resurface concrete (4w July)
  5. Build Garage (1-2w August)
  6. Paint House (3w August)
On the plus side we will have Greg's tool back tonight which means we can start getting the shingles done on the back and side of the house.  So tomorrow we get to go and buy shingles! 

I am getting a little nervous because I wanted to have the garage finished in August so that I could have the basement prepped to start in September.  There is some concrete work that needs to happen and I need to make sure it is before it gets too cold so that the concrete will set.  But if we can get through the concrete by October that would be great.

Once we are done with the exterior and prepping the basement though I think we might switch up the projects...I might try to get a quote on the basement remodel and see if it is worth it to fast track the project so that it can be done in parallel with the kitchen.  Plus it would be nice to at last have a separate entertainment room (not to mention storage closets!)

So much work, but a light at the end of the tunnel!  I want to have the house done comfortably before we get into the depths of wedding planning.  I suppose we will have 6 solid months, but by that time we will both be in full-time school/work again.

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    calm calm


Seattle was a good trip. 
Metric was a pretty good live band (have to look at who the opener was, they had a few good tracks).
Kayaking was an adventure (water was a little choppy, but the weather was perfect).
Wallace Falls was a pretty hike (brought back memories of hiking there with my Dad).
Seminars got me motivated.
I was totally on par with the discussion of manager vs leader.  I think that is part of why I struggle.  I am a leader, not a manager.  I want the good of the whole often over the good of the project.  Sure both are important to me, but I am able to see the longer term and choose not to walk over people to get things done.  It was good information to have reinforced and now I am in the mood to go job search again (though I need to give my rez some tlc).  It shouldn't hurt as I am not any further along with companies and I am really wanting to start to get some more in depth discussions going.  It looks like the market is opening again though with the amount of postings I am seeing daily.  I am thinking that by the end of Q2 (this month) it will be a huge upswing. 

So I got 8 more PDUs to check off the list and am hoping to do at least two more next week.  If I can get these accomplished and spend some reflection time I think it would be good discussion materials for interviews.  Plus half of the presenters had books that looked very interesting to read.  I think I will start with Vijay Verma, he was a great speaker.  The other speakers were:
Creating Business Value in Today's Economy - Janet Kennedy from Microsoft
Project Communications Bible - William Dow & Bruce Taylor
Find a New Job Now - Dominic Lepore
My Life is Failure - Jim Johnson, Author
Project Portfolio Management - Beth Britt from UMT
Conlfict Negotiation - Nikki Kloeppel from Dale Carnegie
Virtual Team Management - Lonnie Pacelli
Leader or Manager?  The Art of Balancing Both to Acheive Sucess - Vijay Verma from TRIUMF

Now that I am home back to work on projects.  We should have the fence done this week.  Not too bad.  We are a little behind schedule, but I built in 4 weeks slack time.  We also had a little scope creep happen as we did decide to add the garage, so that pushes the schedule out about 2-4 weeks.  I am being optimistic and saying 2, but we will see as that project gets underway.
  1. Rebuild front porch (2w June)
  2. Resurface concrete (3w June)
  3. Install new windows (4w June)
  4. Re-shingle backside, bedroom and trim (1-2w July)
  5. Build Garage (3-4w July)
  6. Paint House (1w August)
I have delayed the driveway project.  I have been reading a ton about tar & chip.  I want to find a vendor who can do this on my drive as it is like half the cost and half the maintenance of other driveway forms, plus I think it will look very nice on my house.

Okay so now off to Chris's for some adventure.

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    calm calm