31 December 2009

Books Read in 2009

With 2010 arriving tomorrow, it is time to document all 24 of the books I've read in 2009. The following is a complete list (most recently read first). Search the title/author in my blog to see my personal review of each book (all but the last 9 should be available, and the missing 9 are coming soon).

Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
Tribulation Force by LaHaye & Jenkins*
Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk*,**
Left Behind by LaHaye & Jenkins*
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho**
Breakfast of Champions**
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien*
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button*
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein*,**
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett*
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury**
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson*
The Beach House by Jane Green
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult*
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom*
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger*
1984 by George Orwell
Emma by Jane Austen*
The Dewey Decimal System of Love by Josephine Carr*
New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd*
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

* personal favorite
** East Orlando Twenty-Something Book Club book

Christmas Letter 2009

Merry Christmas!

2009 was an adventurous year for me! Looking back I can see how much I’ve grown and how wonderful the last twelve months have been:

In January, as a sort of graduation gift to myself, I bought a 2009 Honda Fit Sport. When I moved to Orlando, Florida that little car did me well. Even better than the fuel efficiency was the company I had during the trip. My family helped move me into my lovely apartment, which has become home for me and my cat, Ashes; being so far from Indiana isn’t quite so bad with that fur ball around to keep me company.

I moved to Orlando for my new job with Lockheed Martin. I am a systems engineer on the Test Team for the Assured Identity program. Our job is to upgrade the current Lockheed Martin employee badge system to smart cards. My job is to find and report defects in the new system as it’s being developed. Until recently I was on the Test Team full-time. Just last week I began a transition to take on a second role part-time. For this new role I gather and analyze metrics and represent the business area. I’m being challenged, and I really enjoy my job!

Indeed, the weather and nearby beaches are nice, but Orlando has given me so much more for which I am thankful! I’ve made several friends and found a fantastic church. I played on a Lockheed Martin sand volleyball team, and I am catcher for a Lockheed Martin softball team. Also, I joined a gym, a camera club, two running clubs and I even founded a book club!

I love to read and wanted to meet other readers around town, but no existing book clubs I found were working out, so I just started my own: The East Orlando Twenty-Something Book Club. Through the book club I’ve met other bookworms, and we have heaps of fun! We’re a pretty social bunch: trips to Busch Gardens, the beach, book sales, movie nights, bowling, and, of course, the actual book discussions. We read one book a month, but, in addition to that, I usually read another one or two books. The next book on my list is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Here’s the latest on the family: Mom always keeps busy whether she’s gardening, quilting or running. She’s been running up such a storm that, believe it or not, she currently holds the Bennett Family Half-Marathon Record Time! Dad is continually studying his hobbies: photography and weaponry. His Navy background gives him a leg-up on the competition at the shooting range. Chucky has buzzed his hair and is aiming to become a Navy SEAL! With his wrestling history he will go far in that endeavor! Speaking of wrestling, Sam just signed with Northern Illinois University for a wrestling scholarship! I can’t wait to see him wrestle under the lights at State!

I sure do miss my family and friends who are far away, but, lucky for me, I’ve had many visits with them! Here are a few of the year’s highlights: Mom’s visit during Spring Break, running the Indianapolis 500 Mini Half-Marathon with Mom and Dad, Kristin & Aric’s wedding in Iowa and their visit for the Fourth of July, Mom’s summer visit, hanging out with my fellow Boilermakers and my Aunt Joan in nearby Melbourne, Sam’s fall visit, turning 23, Lana & Geof’s wedding, enjoying the Colts’ season with friends, Purdue’s Homecoming and reunion with college friends, all sorts of Halloween fun, and a surprise visit home for Thanksgiving!

That brings us to Christmastime! “And so I’m offering this simple phrase, to kids from one to ninety-two, although it’s been said many times, many ways, a very Merry Christmas to you!”

Amanda Bennett

25 October 2009

FOL Book Sale

Christie, a member of the book club, suggested the book club take a little day trip up to Gainesville to partake in the book sale, so she, myself and Lindsey went up there to check it out. This book sale was HUGE! People come to this book sale, which lasts several days, from all over the state of Florida, and Georgia, too, I'd bet. The books I found were all between $0.25 and $3.00! In the end I bought 17 books for $22! A book worm's delight! I can't wait to go again come next year! Here are the books I've added to my collection:

Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Ring, JRR Tolkien
Where the Heart is - Billie Letts
Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul - Canfield, Hansen, Hawthorne, Shimoff
Under the Tuscan Sun - Frances Mayes
Life Expectancy - Dean Koontz
Once a Runner - John L. Parker, Jr.
The Mermaid Chair - Sue Monk Kidd
The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards
Mary HIggins Clark - Daddy's Little Girl
Girl with a Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier
Let's Go Britain on a Budget 2007
Miss Marple The Complete Short Stories - Agatha Christie
Left Behind 1-4 - Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

06 September 2009

Purdue Football 2009

(image from the Purdue Sports website)

I'm so darned happy that football season has arrived! Aside from the nostalgic college football games and parties and tailgating, I'm absolutely happy about it!

Purdue is off to a winning start for the season. We played Toledo and won 52-31. Next Saturday (also my 23rd birthday and cousin's wedding!) Purdue will play Oregon (away game for us). Let's keep the momentum, Purdue!

Here's a blog entry by a Purdeu alum that I came by this week regarding Purdue's new coach and team: A Season of Hope.

Boiler up!


A Little Princess

Book Cover

I'll never forget that I am my daddy's little princess. Vividly I remember him tucking me in at night, leaning down for the good-night kiss and whispering that I'm his little princess. Those encounters have been long gone save in my memory, but he still declares my royalty in emails and voicemails now that I'm far from home. In this respect I was very much like Sara Crewe; she grew up being totally aware that all girls are princesses.

When I was a young girl I would watch A Little Princess all the time. It was one of my favorite movies, and the only one I can recall that made tears well up in my eyes as a child.

Movie Cover

It wasn't for many years that I learned the movie was based on Frances Hodgson Burnettt's book, A Little Princess. It was a treat to read the story and turn the pages of a story I already knew and loved.

The story is simply magical. It's enchanting. It's strong, kind and, reading the story as an adult, I see how powerful a story it really is. Burnett weaves together a lovely tale about how being the bigger, better person is always the way to be; it's how a princess would behave. Giving to those in need, standing up for those who cannot defend themselves, sharing, being honest, doing what's right - these are all descriptions of what made Sara herself.

But Sara demonstrates that not only behaving in actions and words is important but also to pause and think! That is the major point I only just picked up about what Burnett was saying. Many times in the book Burnett describes Sara's patience with her own words, holding her tongue, fighting the urge to flash back at someone who'd treated her wrongly. She paused and thought out her words before she spoke them, and what a difference it can make!

Another aspect I loved about the story was that of India! Ever since seeing the movie I've had a fascination with India. I bet it had something to do with my love of the story Siddhartha, The Kite Runner and my yearning to one day visit India.

Yet another aspect that I loved about the story was the pretending and story-telling! Sara had such a wild and amazing sense of imagination! And her stories were so intense! When I was a child I could hold a candle to Sara's imagination, but to her story-telling, haha, that I wouldn't stand a chance against, but if you know me, that fact is obvious. Anyway, Sara young mind was very grand, and everyone adored her for it being that way.

By the way, most of you know I hardly ever and very rarely cry during movies. Well, I sobbed a good three separate times as I re-watched this movie. I remember being pretty shook up - maybe crying - even when I was young when I watched it! It's just so moving and emotionally powerful! It's a story I cherish very much so.

I've just realized that Princess Sara Crewe is my favorite princess, and that I want to always be just like her. Funny how an imaginary character can be an excellent role model - and one who's much younger than I am presently, and so forth, given that I will always age and she will never. She truly is a little princess.

Here's to all the little princesses,


Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

This book was the first we read at the East Orlando Twenty-Something Book Club. Turned out to be a pretty good book to kick off with, too: it's a classic, Ray Bradbury is well-known, and being about books, book lovers are bound to appreciate the novel.

At the book club meeting we discussed the book for a good hour and a half. Here are my thoughts:

I'd read a time-travel short-story by Bradbury (A Sound of Thunder) a few years ago for an English class at Purdue, so I knew I was a Bradbury fan. I don't know how to describe his writing style other than it's kind of choppy like those of actual thoughts, at times anyway, and it's poetic, and it has beautiful imagery and his work is just fantastic.

I found the idea of burning books as a punishment for the crime of owning/reading them to be very intriguing. Firemen were meant for burning books when they were discovered, not for putting fires out. Guy, the story's protagonist, is living ignorantly, along with the rest of society, until a young girl - an odd young girl, in comparison to the rest of the population - gets the ball rolling and makes Guy question what he is doing as a fireman. I really liked Clarisse's character because she was so different, dreamy and elegant. It was sad when her role in the story ended.

I enjoyed that the former historians, librarians and professors upheld their own libraries (in their minds). Memorization fascinated me in the story. And it made me realize how accurate Bradbury's story has become in our day and age. We live in a super-sonic speed of life; information flashing all around us; hurry up; let's go! What happened to those old chats with friends, family and neighbors on a nice summer evening out on the porch? That reminds me. I had a professor once tell me that air conditioning was what started all of these changes in society. I believe there's a lot of truth in that: convenience = degradation in many ways. Same with the TV as Ray points out in the novel. A great reason as to why I didn't own my own TV for years and years (I'm just a sucker for watching movies, but know that they are seen on my own time and it's not like TV where it controls my agenda).

Anyway, the book is really great. Definitely worthy of being on several Top 100 Books of All Time lists. Certainly makes you question the world we live in, and it's good to question things and take stands and be true to yourself.

I'm excited for later this month because I'm hosting a movie night for the Book Club to watch this book's film! I've no doubt that it'll be a fun time!


The Bubba Roll

Just a quick blurb about the remainder of Sam's visit back in August (for a quick link to the first part, click here).

After a great weekend at the beach and Busch Gardens we settled into a work-week sort of routine. I, of course, went to work as I normally do, while Sam, of course, managed to mix up his days and nights by staying up to ungodly hours of the night (well, morning, really) playing his beloved X-Box. I'm really happy I had an HDTV for him on which he could play his video games.

Through the week we hit the gym a couple times. Sam seemed to like my gym, but he wasn't as blown away as Mom was, haha. Anyway, he was glad to get a couple workouts into his visit. Aside from the gym we saw a movie: The Collector, which neither of us were impressed with. Sam was a little mislead by the preview, apparently. The movie was by the same director as the Saw movies, just to give you an idea of what the film entailed. If it had attended to a small bit of the plot towards the end it would have at least been a decent movie, despite the blood, guts and gore. Oh, well.

The other big event during the week was my taking Sam out for sushi for the first time. I'm happy to report that I've converted yet another person to enjoy sushi. One of my colleagues, Jesse Henderson III, was in town from Maryland, and whenever Jesse visits, a group of us go to Wine Down Wednesdays at Urban Flats, then we have sushi at Fuji Sushi. Sam and I skipped Wine Down and went straight for the sushi. Given that we were with Jesse, it was a fun time; always a riot! Sam and Jesse almost instantly clicked and had a couple moments that I'll chuck under "bonding," haha. Sam's favorite roll was The Bubba Roll; he didn't care at all for my spicy tuna roll, haha. Anyway, the food was delicious and we had a good night.

myself, Sam, Jesse, et. al. at Fuji Sushi

I really enjoyed Sam's company for the week that he visited. I'm so glad we've reached that point in our relationship where we can start to relate and be friends as well as siblings. (The four year age gap made that difficult until recently.) Thanks for a fun visit, Sam! Love you!


The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass

A few days ago I finished reading the first book of the trilogy entitled His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass. Here's Mr. Pullman:

Phillip Pullman

First of all, this book series, and most of Pullman's work, from what I gather, is geared towards children. When I picked up the book and began reading I found that I sometimes had to consciously bear that fact in mind. For a children's book, however, the story is pretty deep and fairly well developed - almost in the ranks with that of Harry Potter; almost.

Lyra is the main character, and she is quite a little spit-fire. I found that I liked her spunk, but not her lying habits so much; she didn't grow on my quite as much as I think the author had aimed for, but then, again, I am an adult and a child would be much more savvy and embracing towards Lyra.

I wish I'd read the book as a young girl because the imagination and fantasy was definitely present, I just felt like I couldn't quite tap into it. However, I can tap into that when I read HP, so it must be due to other things about the book or author. There were a few twists at the end which sort of left a bad taste in my mouth and declined my interest in continuing the trilogy with the second book. We'll see about that.

One thing I really enjoyed about Pullman's world in the novel (and series, I'm presuming) was that of the dæmons. Dæmons are animal forms of a human's soul; one can talk to them, listen to them, etc. Dæmons are a human's best friend; they are one being emotionally and psychologically. When the humans are children their dæmons can shift animal shapes, and the animals mimic the child's (and later, the adult's - though by then the animal is permanent) mood. It was very fascinating to see how characters were thinking/feeling based on the descriptions of their dæmons. I really liked the dæmons concept. I wonder what life would be like if dæmons were real. Everyone would have one. Almost all of the time the dæmon is the opposite sex of its respective human. People can only physically distance themselves from their dæmons by so much or there is a terrific emotional and physical strain on both the human and the dæmon. When a dæmon dies the human often does, too. When a human dies the dæmon, too, deceases. It is taboo for a human to touch another's dæmons, although dæmons may touch one another. Pullman created a very interesting culture of humans and dæmons.

So now I've added The Golden Compass to my Netflix queue; it's next up. Nicole Kidman, Sam Elliot, Daniel Craig and Eva Green are all in the cast, and I've heard decent things about the movie despite its 3.5/5 star rating.


The Positive Campaign


Just came across this: The Compliment Guys in The American Profile

Keepin' it positive,


ORIGINAL POST (30 August 2009):

One day last fall I was on the phone with Sallie Mae, discussing important loan details, when all of a sudden I was bombarded with a compliment. Confounded, I looked towards the voice to see a complete stranger with a sign that read "free compliments." I managed to spit out a thank you, because I was running late for my next lecture and wanted to wrap up the phone call, and was on my way. Later that day I got to thinking about what had happened, and what a wonderful stand the two Compliment Guys were taking on being positive in this day and age.

Since then these two Purdue guys, now known world-wide as The Compliment Guys, have made leaps and bounds for what I've began calling The Positive Campaign. Here they are with their trusty sign:

Purdue's The Compliment Guys

Here are a few links to articles featuring the Delighted Duo:

Chicago Tribune Article

Lafayette Online Article

And here's the link to their website: Brightside Tour

Also making waves in the Positive Campaign is Caitlin. She's the one behind Operation Beautiful, an anonymous Post-It war being waged against women who berate themselves with fat talk.

Operation Beautiful

I just wanted to post a bit about some really great people who are making a difference for the better.

Here's to the good in the world,


05 September 2009

Photos of 2009

What's changed?

6 September: added "September 2009" album

27 August: added photos to "August 2009" album

12 August: added "August 2009" album

2 August: added "July 2009" album

28 July: added photos to "June 2009" album

7 June: added photos to "May 2009" album, added "Kristin & Aric's Wedding" album, & added "June 2009" album






Kristin & Aric's Wedding

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

30 August 2009

The First Book Club Meetup

My book club has been the best thing that's happened to me since I've been living in Orlando. I wish I had thought of starting the club up back in February!

Needless to say the first Meetup was a huge success! We had 10 people show up to discuss Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451:

Fahrenheit 451

No one was too familiar with how to run a book club meeting, but everyone was really supportive of my role as the founder of the Meetup group. People voiced their opinions courteously, and everyone was very agreeable. The discussion itself was fantastic! I can't recall a time where I was so happy while talking about a book! It's nice to meet friends who also like to talk about books, haha! We posed questions to the group, soaked in other people's perspectives, and got to know one another a little, too. Afterwards some of us headed over to Barnes & Noble and chit chatted a bit.

The next book wasn't determined right away. Everyone present wrote down 2 books they'd like the group to read, then 3 cards were drawn from a hat. Of those 6 books we took a vote, and Nina's suggested Stranger in a Strange Land came out on top. I picked up the book late last week and am excited to read it!

We're already talking about meeting on Sundays for brunch and the farmer's market, a trip to Busch Gardens, a visit to Melbourne for a beach and surf day, etc.! It's fabulous to have met such a wonderful group of young people!

In a few weeks' time I'll be hosting a movie night to watch the 60s film of Fahrenheit 451. Also, there's an outing to see The Time Traveler's Wife at the cinema. And, of course, the book club meeting for September's book.

Oh, this all makes me so happy!


My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

This lady here is Jodi Picoult:

Jodi Picoult

Earlier in the summer I had the pleasure of devouring her book, My Sister's Keeper, in just a few days:

My Sister's Keeper

IMDB Article

Official Movie Site

First off, this book was emotional. Jodi really pulls you in and gives you reason to care about her characters. Not to mention the controversial situation the story revolves around (a girl is conceived as a perfect match donor for her older sister who has a rare and aggressive form of cancer). By the end of the first chapter I was hooked.

I enjoyed how Picoult portrayed the passage of time, and how the story was told through different character's points of view with the changing of the chapters. Throughout the story there is a developed theme of fire, and I found that to be very well integrated with the story and even the characters and their situation. Jodi also weaves astrology into the story. I never figured out which of the two sisters was the bigger star... Hard to tell, and arguable both ways.

I was pleasantly surprised when there was a kangaroo reference, haha. Yay for Australia! Jodi does well with presenting issues which are black, white and so many which are grey. I'm still undecided on how I stand, personally, with regards to designer babies... If I was Kate's parents, I really couldn't tell you what call I would make about having Anna or not. It's just a terrible situation to find oneself. Anyway, the twist at the end is what jerks the heart the most, but I really liked the ending. I figure it was best for both sisters in the long run.

Tiffany and I had been trying to see the movie in theatres together, but we weren't able to before the movie left theatres, so we fully intend to have a movie night when the flick is available on DVD!


The Beach House, Jane Green

Meet Jane Green:

Jane Green

She authored "The Beach House":

The Beach House

I read this nice, light, summery read for a book club I recently joined. One of my managers at Lockheed Martin, Penny, invited me to join her book club, and I was more than happy to do so! The book club was all sorts of goodness: I met several wonderful ladies and an adorable baby girl, I learned about some about life as a woman, had a delicious home-made pot luck meal, and chatted about the book ever-so briefly. I missed this month's book club because my brother has been in town, but I'm hoping to make it to the next one, even though I'll be readying myself to leave town for Maryland the same weekend. We'll see if I can swing it.

This was my first Jane Green book. Overall impression: okay story; predictable and lacked some character development. I did quite like how Jane wove characters lives together. And I admired Nan's spunk, wisdom and ability to accept things and people for what and who they were. I also liked how the beach house itself was characterized.

The moral of the story, in my opinion, was this: life continues, and friends are our family whom we can choose.

As a side note, I would love to visit Nantucket after having read this book!


Mom's Summer Visit

As you can see, I'm very behind in my blogging as of late. I'm catching up, so forgive the lack of stories, detail, etc. Hopefully that's okay because you're getting a straight feed of photos and captions - I think that's what folks like to see most. = )

Mom making us a delicious breakfast

At Cocoa Beach, PRE-thunderstorm, haha; here Mom is just before she transformed into the Sand Monster

Mom helped me give Raven a bath

Mom & I at The Lodge, downtown, for the 80s Bar Crawl; we had a rickshaw ride and met Yum Yum, haha!

Mom enjoying the porch for a little patio picnic we had one afternoon

Lounging around; she helped me furnish my apartment, yet again, with some throw pillows

Mom & I at Paradise Beach; it was a PERFECT beach day; we had so much fun in the waves!

Mom, Aunt Joan and I with a gorgeous, fire-y orange sunset after a lovely home-cooked meal in Melbourne

During Mom's visit Sam was in Fargo, ND for a wrestling tournament. Dad snapped this amazing photo of Sam perfectly executing a suplex!


In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

This is Mr. Bill Bryson:

Bill Bryson

I "met" him through a dear friend of mine, Kristin Folden. She mentioned his US travel book, A Walk in the Woods oh, about a year ago, and it's been on my list of books to read ever since (it's a long list, I tell you). At her and Aric's wedding she presented me with another Bryson book: In a Sunburned Country.

In a Sunburned Country

Considering that I'd been to Australia, a whopping year ago - so hard to believe that fact - I felt it appropriate to escalate the priority of reading In A Sunburned Country. So I did. And I was quite impressed. Bryson is one of the most humorous and friendly writers I've had the pleasure of reading. His stories and perspectives are interesting, and he tells stories splendidly.

I was really excited to read the book because I knew it would be like a memory-trip back to the grand world Down Under, and it was quite so. I loved reading every chapter and hearing about the places I'd visited and especially the places I'd been unable to visit. I learned a lot from Bill, too, and enjoyed recollecting my own personal travels in Australia.

I enjoyed reading all of Bryson's statistics. From animals to population to land mass to various comparisons to plants, Bryson put Australia into perspective with numbers. He painted such an accurate picture of the folks in Australia, too: so friendly, willing and kind to even strangers, their attitudes towards different things, even their fellow citizens who lived in different states. I was surprised to learn that Queenslanders were regarded as the quirky ones, haha.

I loved his stories from boogie boarding to being chased by dogs to the different folks he met along his journeys to all the parks and various sights he saw.

It was indeed a fantastic book for me to read, having spent 6 wonderful months in the lovely country. I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in Australia, especially interested in visiting Down Under.



13 August 2009

OMG, I Bought a TV

I know it's hard to believe, folks, but it's true. Honest!

It's a 32" Sylvania HDTV, 2 HDMI, and I forget the other details. It's been a little while since I bought it: I waited to post this until both Mom and Sam visited, so I could surprise them with the TV.

I don't really have the greatest reasons for making such a big purchase...

Reason 1) I was tired of watching movies on my laptop.
Reason 2) My mom expressed interest in my having a TV for when she visits me.
Reason 3) With TV being such a standard pass-time among so many people, friends wouldn't want to come back to my apartment after observing that I didn't have a TV, haha. I don't want to be thought of as a complete nut. = P

Anyway, there you have it. My budget allowed it, and it has been nice to have a 32" screen to watch movies on rather than huddling over my little laptop screen. I still don't watch TV, although my apartment provides it for free. It's there if I need the news or weather.

Next I'll be investing in a BluRay player and an audio system.

just after having lugged the boxes up 3 stories (thanks for your manly assistance, Aric!)

Kristin & I putting the TV stand together

using the clicker for the first time


09 August 2009

He Doesn't Like Tea

Sam's visit so far has been quite a good time! It's been lovely having him as a guest in my home and city and state. = )

He got in Thursday evening, and professed that he was starving and craving some Chinese food. We stumbled upon a tasty buffet that proved to be perfectly satiating. We got back to my apartment, I gave him the grand tour, he exclaimed how he loved it. It was a fun surprise for him that I had recently invested in an HDTV that could be used for his Xbox gaming antics. The only thing was Ashes' reaction to Sam, haha. The cat went into hiding immediately and would hiss at Sam when we tried to get Ashes out from under the beds. I'd never seen my beloved feline act in such a way, but whatever behavior that was seems to have gone. It was bizarre, I tell you, but all is well now between the two males. (Silly males...)

After Sam got settled into his quarters we went to see The Hangover. Absolutely hilarious! I loved Allen the best, haha! We were laughing throughout the entire film. Loved it. Sam and I were quoting it the rest of the night!

Friday I went to work and had a really dull time at the dentist in the afternoon. Sam slept until 1 or 2 and gamed the rest of the evening. That evening I decided I would purchase a Blu Ray DVD player to take full advantage of my HDTV. Naturally I had to buy my first Blu Ray DVD: Batman Begins. So Sam got to partake in the breaking in of my latest piece of technology and see an awesome movie (how he hadn't seen the entire movie before, I do not know). We stayed up until 3 AM, haha.

Saturday morning we hit Paradise Beach. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, and the waves were absolutely enormous! I'd never seen them so huge. We played in them for a good while before we tuckered out and retired to layout and relax. Neither of us were burnt; quite happy about that.

Sam & I at Paradise Beach, Melbourne

yours, truly

After the beach we stopped by our Aunt Joan's house so I could work on her computer (dead hard drive). While there I shared Aunt Joan's Ice Cream Sandwiches treat with Sam (it would have been wrong of me not to). Upon returning to Orlando we had some Taco Bell that we had at my apartment complex's poolside. Turns out some of my friends from work who recently moved into my complex were hanging out at the pool. Sam and I enjoyed their company, and I proved myself in a little freestyle race, hehe. I tried to warn Jeremy that I was a bit experience in the great sport of swimming. = P Afterwards Sam and I hung out at the apartment and I got some good reading in for my first book club Meetup. I'm about half-way through Fahrenheit 451 now. I really like it, but more on that later.

Today the two of us spent our day at Busch Gardens, Tampa. Boy, was it fun! It had been a few years since I'd been to a theme park, and who better to spend a roller coaster day with than my baby brother!

Sam & I on the tram to the entrance of Busch Gardens, Tampa

I think SheiKra was our favorite; we rode it twice we liked it so much! It's a short ride, but totally awesome because of the straight-down drops!

The Big Drop on SheiKra

Busch Gardens is a great park because there is more than just roller coasters and miscellaneous rides (the Flight of the Phoenix was my second favorite, by the way - think Kings' Island's Viking Ship but one that goes all the way upside down and in full circle!). Anyway, Busch Gardens is also a zoo! I was like a little kid when we passed by the safari animals on the train ride! Elephants, rhinos, ostrich, giraffe (my favorite this time - usually it's tigers/lions but we only saw one tiger), zebra, an ant eater, and, of course, crocs and gators! I really liked the flamingos, too!

me with the flamingos

Everywhere you looked there were topiaries! I liked the tiger and the lion the best.

Me with the terrifying tiger topiary

Sam & I at the end of the day, next to the majestic lion topiary


PS - in case you're wondering what the title of this entry has to do with anything, Sam and I had a candid conversation where he stated how he didn't like any type of tea. The way in which he stated it was very funny because it was exactly like Bubba explaining all the types of shrimp meals his momma could cook up. = ) Tea has become a bit of a running joke for me and Sam.

Folden Visit

Over the Fourth of July weekend some very dear friends of mine stopped in for a lovely visit. It was such a treat to have Kristin & Aric as guests for a few days. It was ungodly hot on the Fourth of July, but we strolled around Lake Eola and took in some of the festivities (including fishy caramel popcorn - ugh, haha!), and then I showed them my favorite place in Orlando: The Drunken Monkey, a fantastic coffee house that I frequent often. It was there that I taught Aric how to play Backgammon. We also "had" to bum around our beloved Waterford Lakes Town Center Barnes & Noble!

By the way, I've never seen Ashes take to people so well as he took to Kristin & Aric. They loved him and he sure did enjoy their company. I loved watching the three of them "race" to Ashes' "room," haha! Too funny!

The next day the Foldens (awe, it sounds so pleasant, doesn't it? The Foldens...) joined me at church. Afterwards they helped me tackle the acquisition of a TV. Aric was very manly and brought it up three flights of stairs to my apartment; the stand, too, which was considerably heavier than the TV. While Kristin and I assembled things, Aric made Folden Chili (sans corn, hehe), and it was delicious! He made lots so that I'd have some to eat through my coming work week. That evening we watched Sunshine on my brand new HDTV and I taught Kristin to play Backgammon (she came around to it) while we did Queen Helene Mint Julep facial masks.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful weekend. = )

Kristin & I

Mr. & Mrs. Folden


04 August 2009

Imogene Scarflette

Here is a photo of my latest scarflette that is available on Etsy. Click the image to see more photos and the item details in my Etsy shop.