Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Christmas Craft

A little something lovely for the holiday season. I don't remember when it was but a while back I stumbled upon this page in People magazine showing some clever and crafty wreaths. (Note: this was published in the December 2009 edition)
 Cute, right? I actually wanted to make all of the wreaths they showed, but I thought the Christmas card one was the most useful. Great way to show off the cards people send you, right? I was sadly dismayed by the lack of instruction. "Glue wooden clothespins to a 10-inch wooden embroidery hoop" is terribly nonspecific. So I played around with it, and this is what I came up with:
I shopped at Mary Maxim and ended up buying a 14-inch embroidery hoop instead of the 10 they suggested. Using a hot glue gun I secured the clothespins in the alternating pattern shown above (I don't know how they positioned the clothespins for the magazine one so I played around with the clothespins before settling on this), and I think it turned out beautifully. Here's the finished product:

Notably, that is last year's model as it's early in the season & most people haven't sent cards out this year. But cute, right?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tell Me About Yourself

With interview season underway, I am forced into a state of self-reflection. It's easy to go on living your life without giving much thought to who you are or why you're doing what you're doing. I've been in that mode of doing what I've got to do for a while now. But alas, those pesky questions are about to be brought up again. So as a helpful exercise I figured I should start thinking about what things I'm going to want to say when the interviews start next month. As a disclaimer, I surely will not be saying everything that I type here, but I'm taking this as a chance to brainstorm. Let's try to remember who I am...

I'm from Michigan. I'm an only child and quite close to my family. I was raised by two full-time factory worker parents who taught me the importance of working hard and the value of an education. They taught me the classics of right and wrong and instilled in me a sense of integrity that seems to be increasingly rare in today's society. 

I believe that my strongest assets are my dedication and determination. Those who know me know that I don't back down from a challenge, and if I set my sights on a goal I throw myself wholly into the mission of accomplishing it. 

My biggest weakness is that I tend to take things too personally sometimes. I have this part of me that cares too much about what other people think, and I have very high expectations of myself. I have to remind myself when receiving constructive criticism that hearing such comments will enable me to better myself & grow because everybody has room to grow. 

In my free time, my favorite hobby is music. I love concerts. I also have a great appreciation for nature and enjoy walking and rollerblading along nature trails and finding beauty to photograph. I enjoy reading and movies, and I'm always looking for a new adventure to try.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Life's Soundtrack

Facebook recently forced me into the new timeline template, and I found this silly little game from 2006 & thought I'd do it again.

So, here's how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie

Opening Credits: "Devil Went Down to Georgia" -Charlie Daniels

Waking Up: "Little Goodbyes" -SheDaisy

First Day At School: "Could Have Fooled Me" -Adam Gregory

Falling In Love: "The Space in Between Us" -Building 429

Fight Song: "Nothin' But Cowboy Boots" -Blue County

Breaking Up: "Dancing in Circles" -Love & Theft

Prom: "I'm Done" -JoDee Messina (omg, this should've come one song sooner! haha)

Life's Okay: "These Are the Good Ole Days" -James Otto

Mental Breakdown: "Memphis" -David Nail

Driving: "What Kinda Gone" -Chris Cagle

Flashback: "Isn't That Everything" -Danielle Peck

Getting Back Together: "Numbers" -Jason Michael Carroll

Wedding: "Mala Gente" -Juanes (LMBO ROFL!! Dear God, I hope this doesn't represent my future wedding!!)

Birth of a Child: "I'd Love to be Your Last" -Clay Walker (this is so inappropriate)

Final Battle: "Love You" -Jack Ingram (if you haven't heard this song before, replace "love" in the title with an obscenity)

Death Scene: "Livin' in Paradise" -Jonathan Singleton & the Grove

Funeral Song: "Forces of Nature" -Backstreet Boys

End Credits:"Dirty Girl" -Terri Clark

eh, coulda turned out better, but some of them are amusing.

Friday, June 15, 2012

10 tips for the novice Cedar Point traveler

For those who know me you probably know that I missed my annual trip to Cedar Point the last 2 years and have been none too pleased about this. Well this year after begging & pleading for someone to go with me my aunt finally volunteered, and we hit the coasters on June 2. I figured with my surgery rotation (aka Hell) coming up I should probably take the only guaranteed time off that I had. And now I no longer get saddened by the amusing commercials (though unfortunately I did not learn Chinese or Japanese or any other language on any of the rides. False advertising).

Anyway, I thought I'd use this chance to put together some tips for making a trip to Cedar Point a success in addition to highlighting my favorites about the best amusement park in the Midwest.

  1. Buy your tickets at Meijer if you have the option. You can save about $10 from the price at the gates ($42 vs $52). Sometimes they have deals available online so you may want to check out their website as well. Discounts are also available if you're a member of AAA & buy tickets there.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes. It's a big park that involved a LOT of walking. I prefer flip flops, but those don't offer an abundance of support, and for many rides you have to remove those because they could fly off. So if the idea of walking barefoot on & off of rides grosses you out you should stick with shoes that secure to your feet.
  3. Summers around these parts can get hot, and the days are even hotter when you're walking around the concrete all day. Always always bring & wear sunscreen. Unless you dig the lobster look that is.
  4. Also, drink plenty of water. Heat stroke is not cool. Beverages inside the park are expensive, but if you have a way to carry something with you you are allowed to bring drinks & snacks inside (just no coolers).
  5. Along the same idea: bring a change of clothes or a bathing suit because walking around wet does not feel great. There is a water park next door if you feel so inclined (but be warned that admission is crazy expensive, and I wasn't super impressed the one day I went like 10 years ago), but there are also 3 water rides available in the park itself. Snake River Falls is akin to Splash Mountain if you've been to Disney World, but then there's also Thunder Canyon which is friendlier to a wider age range. That one is like a large inner tube with about 8 seats that rides through some "rapids". You may not get wet on Thunder Canyon, but you may get soaked, it all depends on which way you turn through the water falls. They recently brought back an older ride called Shoot the Rapids, but unfortunately it was closed (& too cold on the day we went this year). Extra clothes are also a good idea in case it rains (Heaven forbid).
  6. If everyone in your party will be riding I've found that the most convenient option for carrying belongings is to wear a fanny pack. Yes, you may look kinda dorky, but seriously, if it's not attached to your person you may not be able to bring it on the rides. Most rides have bins for storing loose items while you ride, but do you really trust the integrity of strangers enough to leave your wallet in a place where people are rapidly grabbing things anyway? There are also some rides (ie Millenium Force) that do not offer a place to leave things so if you have a bag you have to either get a locker or you can't ride. Millennium Force is a blast btw. 
  7. Brand new this year the park now offers the option to buy a pass to the "Fast Lane". You purchase a wristband (in addition to your admission ticket) that will allow you to skip through most of the line for like 20 different rides (I didn't count, but that's what they advertise). I was a little leery at first thinking 'now how fast is it really if everybody buys these passes?' BUT we bought them, and I have to say it's amazing how many rides you can actually ride when you wait 10-20 minutes for everything instead of 1-2.5 HOURS. The only downside to this that I discovered is that all that wait time in line gave my stomach the opportunity to rest between rides before. Now I had to self impose a few breaks. Horrible, right? haha Be mindful that the pass doesn't work for everything however. Here is the official list of the rides that currently have fast lanes: For possibly the first time ever, I went on the bumper cars there. We used to always be in a huge rush to get on our top choices of big, popular coaster instead that some fun stuff had to be sacrificed. The Fast Lane pass also brings the caveat of the price. It varies by day and by how many people are buying in one group, but if you go on a Saturday with only 1 other person you have to shell out a whopping $55 (note that this is more than the daily ticket price).
  8. Bring Tylenol or Advil. Some of the older rides are rough & prone to give you a headache. Of note: the Mean Streak is truly mean. I coulda swore my brain was trying to bust through my skull as we bounced along. Other rough rides include the Cedar Creek Mine (or something to that effect), the Blue Streak, the Magnum, and the Gemini. 
  9. If you decide to bring small children but you still want to be able to go on some of the big crazy rides, make sure you inquire about the parent swap option. (Sorry I don't recall the official name) If you get a pass you can have part of your party wait in the line & ride while someone stays aside with the kid/s, and then when the first riders get off, the parent that has been waiting can get right on without waiting in the line again (and they can bring 1 person with them so they don't have to ride alone). 
  10. And finally: soak it all in. Arrive early, stay late, and just be grateful to have the opportunity to be carefree for the day (or 2). :D

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The concert list

As a follow-up to the last post, here is my complete concert list, divided into 2 sections. The first includes anyone who I’ve seen perform as the main attraction (however the numbers may include festival performances and openers). The next section is mostly made up of artists I've only seen as part of a festival (CMA fest) or as an opening act.

  • 1. Clay Walker (14)
  • 2. Chuck Wicks (11)
  • 3. Luke Bryan (10)
  • 4. Love & Theft (8)
  • 5. Backstreet Boys (7)
  • 6. Keith Urban (5)
  • 7. Craig Campbell (4)
  • 8. David Nail (4)
  • 9. Adam Gregory (3)
  • 10. Josh Gracin (3)
  • 11. Lee Brice (3)
  • 12. Rodney Atkins (3)
  • 13. Terri Clark (3)
  • 14. Tim McGraw (3)
  • 15. Alan Jackson (2)
  • 16. Blake Shelton (2)
  • 17. Heidi Newfield (2)
  • 18. John Michael Montgomery (2)
  • 19. Kenny Chesney (2)
  • 20. LeAnn Rimes (2)
  • 21. NKOTB (2)
  • 22. Rascal Flatts (2)
  • 23. Trent Tomlinson (2)
  • 24. Beach Boys (1)
  • 25. Little Texas (1)
  • 26. Lorrie Morgan (1)
  • 27. Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (1)
  • 28. Rod Stewart (1)
  • 29. Shania Twain (1)

Only seen as opening act or at a festival:

  • 1. Sara Evans (4)
  • 2. Due West (3)
  • 3. Jake Owen (3)
  • 4. Jason Michael Carroll (3)
  • 5. Miranda Lambert (3)
  • 6. Sugarland (3)
  • 7. Zac Brown Band (3)
  • 8. Bomshel (2)
  • 9. Brad Paisley (2)
  • 10. Darius Rucker (2)
  • 11. Jack Ingram (2)
  • 12. Josh Turner (2)
  • 13. Lady Antebellum (2)
  • 14. Little Big Town (2)
  • 15. Montgomery Gentry (2)
  • 16. Phil Vassar (2)
  • 17. Reba (2)
  • 18. Taylor Swift (2)
  • 19. Trace Adkins (2)
  • 20. Blackhawk (1)
  • 21. Dixie Chicks (1)
  • 22. Chad Brock (1)
  • 23. Gary Allen (1)
  • 24. Gloriana (1)
  • 25. The Farm (1)
  • 26. Edens Edge (1)
  • 27. Thompson Square (1)
  • 28. Sarah Darling (1)
  • 29. Katie Armiger (1)
  • 30. Ashton Shepherd (1)
  • 31. Sisqo (1)
  • 32. Destiny’s Child (1)
  • 33. Mandy Moore (1)
  • 34. The Click Five (1)
  • 35. Williams Riley Band (1)
  • 36. Caitlin & Will (1)
  • 37. Holly Williams (1)
  • 38. Jessica Harp (1)
  • 39. Whitney Duncan (1)
  • 40. The Trailer Choir (1)
  • 41. Willie Nelson (1)
  • 42. Jessica Andrews (1)
  • 43. Kid Rock (1+)
  • 44. Brooks & Dunn (1)
  • 45. Randy Houser (1)
  • 46. Carrie Underwood (1)
  • 47. Andy Griggs (1)
  • 48. Ty Herndon (1)
  • 49. Brett Kissel (1)
  • 50. DJ Miller (1)
  • 51. Ash Bowers (1)
  • 52. Jason Aldean (1)
  • 53. Justin Moore (1)
  • 54. Easton Corbin (1)
  • 55. Chris Young (1)
  • 56. Alabama (2 songs)
  • 57. Joe Nichols (1)
  • 58. Dierks Bentley (1)
  • 59. Eli Young Band (1)
  • 60. Aaron Lewis (1)
  • 61. Billy Dean (1)
  • 62. Jamey Johnson (1)
  • 63. The Judds (1)
  • 64. John Rich (1)
  • 65. LeeAnn Womack (1)
  • 66. Martina McBride (1)
  • 67. Scotty McCreery (1 song)
  • 68. Troy Olson (1)
  • 69. Josh Kelley (1)
  • 70. The Band Perry (1)
  • 71. The JaneDear Girls (1)
  • 72. Clint Black (1)
  • 73. Kevin Costner & Modern West (1)
  • 74. Josh Thompson (1)
  • 75. Craig Morgan (1 – GOO)
  • 76. Andy Gibson (1)
  • 77. Brent Anderson (1)
  • 78. Frankie Ballard (1)
  • 79. Dustin Lynch (1)
  • 80. Kix Brooks (1)
  • 81. Brett Eldredge (1)
  • 82. Jana Kramer (1)
  • 83. The Lost Trailers (1)

Please note that my memory is imperfect & so the list may not be entirely accurate. I may have left someone out or put a lower number than is correct.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Top 5

A friend asked me a while back to compile a list of the artists/bands I've seen in concert. Rather than just throw a list up here & call it a day I'm gonna start with just the 5 I've seen the most of. Coincidentally I've actually met everyone on this short list. Anyway, here goes:

My #1: Clay Walker at 14 live performances:
I saw him the first time on September 10, 1998 from row K at Pine Knob after begging my mom to get tickets. Earlier that year his "Rumor Has It" album was the first cd I bought with my own money. Fourteen years later I still adore him.

2. Coming in 2nd at 11 performances is Chuck Wicks:
I first saw Chuck in 2008 & was hooked by his smooth voice & goofy personality. Now we're still waiting on album #2 to be released.

3. Coming in at a close 3rd with 10 performances is Luke Bryan:
I discovered his music when I first saw the video for "All My Friends Say" in June 2007. His fun, care-free spirit is contagious and I was craving more from then on.

4. Love & Theft takes 4th with 8 shows (6 when they were a trio & 2 after they became a duo):
I first discovered these boys by accident or fate. I bought tickets to a show of newcomers in Flint with the sole purpose of seeing Adam Gregory. When Adam was dropped I considered trying to get a refund, but I did end up going & found this incredibly talented group of guys.

5. And picking up the #5 spot is the Backstreet Boys with 7 performances (2 with NKOTB last summer):
The first came in 1999. My friend Edi introduced me to this group in '98, and when tickets went on sale for this show we were in line outside the Harmony House for hours to get tickets. They moved the line around the building & did some stupid lottery thing where they broke up the line again (trying to make things more random to dissuade people from camping out all night). The show sold out within minutes. Then another show was added, but that one sold out too. Then when we were 3rd in line the 3rd & final show sold out. BUT on the day of one of the concerts my mom & I went to Ticketmaster in the mall & BAM, new tickets had been released & we got 10 rows from the stage in the round.

Maybe tomorrow I'll post the whole list separately just for Kim. Until then, enjoy. ;)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Where does the time go?

Today I realized that I've sort of been living in a state of suspended animation. I feel like whenever I'm in school full time (or doing rotations now as the case may be) I put my life on hold, and all that exists is that educational commitment. I start a chunk of education & the next thing I know, all this time has gone by and I don't know where I've been. I don't know exactly when it began, but it's been like this for a while. During the school year (so to speak) I pour myself wholeheartedly into fulfilling my objectives, and I think that if I take time away to be a whole person and do volunteer work or take dance lessons or even go to church I might sacrifice my future. But if that's the case, is it really worth it?

So my next goal is to remember to try to be alive at the same time as while committing to what I have to do for my career. Medical school is a serious commitment, but it shouldn't be everything.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Everybody needs a little time away

It seems I get inspired to blog about once a month so here goes February! (Happy leap day btw)

As of February 17 I'm halfway through my 3rd year of med school, and I've been on my 3 week break. Since I'm not likely to get much time off in the near future my mom booked us a family vacation to the Bahamas so here's a little recap of the trip.

Day 1 - Sunday, Feb 19
We flew in from Detroit to Dallas to Nassau. For the first flight my mom & I were blessed with 2 small children sitting behind us that yelled, squealed, and kicked our seats for much of the 3 hours with no attempt from the parents to get them to behave. I mean seriously, you've gotta at least try. Anyway, we got to the resort about 4pm and explored a bit. Seeing various shapes in bikinis gave me the courage to wear my own brand new one - the first in a good 13 years I'd say. So here's my first beach trip in the Bahamas:

Day 2 - Monday, Feb 20
We took the bus downtown to see the sights, and we visited the Straw Market (don't ask me why I was surprised that they mainly sell straw woven crafts, [but also t-shirts, jewelry, and wooden carvings]) and some of the shops in the morning. Then in the afternoon we headed to the beach and I did some snorkeling. I was hoping to go kayaking, but unfortunately I learned that a red flag means the water is too rough for water sports. I stayed within the designated swimming area to avoid being run over by a jet ski, and I found a big star fish and a small variety of fishes, one of which played hide & seek with me in its little cement block home. At one point when I was coming back to shore a guy was bringing 2 star fish back to the water and handed me one:

I like the little suction cup feet. Yes, I took it back to its home after a short time examining it.

Afterwards we went to the main dining room for dinner, and then we caught the free shuttle to the casino where I played blackjack for almost the entire 2 hours on just $20 that my dad gave me. I was almost winning for a while.

Day 3 - Tuesday, Feb 21
Sea lion day! Before the trip I had done some google searches to see what we might want to do there, and I was sold on this one. Sure, most people prefer the dolphins, but sea lions just have these fun, goofy sort of personalities that lured me in. Plus, I think I just like to do things differently from the rest sometimes. ;) Anyway, we took a boat ride to Blue Lagoon Island where Dolphin Encounters is located, and we were taken to the sea lion area where we had a brief educational lecture about the fun-loving creatures. After that we went down to the dock and posed for pictures with a sea lion kissing our cheeks (Bonny was her name). Then we got into the (freezing) water and stood waist-deep while taking turns frolicking with Bonny's mom Maggie. We each got to stroke her soft fur, feed her a fish, shake her flipper, give her a hug, check out her tail and the little claws on her back flippers, and get a big ole kiss on the lips - Maggie's sort of a player, I bet she can't even name all the people she's kissed! Here's a picture of me & my dad with Maggie (purchased from the lovely photographer there):

That night we did manage to get reservations for the Garden of Eden Restaurant. Trying to get reservations for the 2 resort restaurants is ridiculous fyi, but the food was great and the atmosphere was lovely. And after dinner we watched some of the resort entertainment - they have a different show every night, and Tuesday included a guy juggling knives & torches.

Day 4 - Wednesday, Feb 22
We started the day off with a trip to the Ardastra Zoo. They have 41 animal exhibits and their claim to fame is a 1957 feature in National Geographic Magazine about their marching flamingos. A military man trained a bunch of flamingos to march in formation and follow commands. It was pretty cute, and you can get up close & personal with our feathered friends - one actually walked right into me. He didn't even apologize, dreadful manners.

This zoo also offers the opportunity to feed their Lory parrots, so of course I did that too. They provide apple slices and the birds stand on your hands (or shoulder or head) and enjoy the juice from the apples leaving somewhat of a mess of apple pieces (in your hand or your hair).

Besides the interactive attractions, I enjoyed the lemurs, various monkey species, and the big cats as well. And overall it was a cool experience to walk through the shady & lush gardens rather than the typical concrete atmosphere of the American zoos I have visited. It felt more intimate & natural.

Anyway, then we spent the afternoon by the pool, and I participated in a balloon toss with my dad, beach bowling (which I suck at), and bingo poolside. In between these resort activities I soaked up some rays and enjoyed some of Richard Castle's "Heat Rises."

Wednesday night we had dinner at the resort's other fancy restaurant, Martino's. This waiter, Keno, provided even better service, and the food was fabulous. We again went to the nightly show, listening to Funky D & the Summer Breeze band and watching cabaret performances involving Grease & Michael Jackson & Tina Turner. The performers were all quite talented.

Day 5 - Thursday, Feb 23
Naturally, being the day we left, this was the only day where there was a green flag enabling all water sports. We left at 12:30pm and were welcomed home to Michigan around 11pm with a snow storm.

Since this was an uneventful day I'll throw in a family photo from Martino's:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Drivers Beware

As any of my friends would know, I have recently had to make a lot of repairs to my car. This is a story that I think the less car savvy should be informed of so that they don't get taken by the dishonest mechanics of the world.

A couple of weeks ago I got my muffler replaced, and after that noise was resolved I started to hear another sound that worried me: a clunking, rubbing, dragging sort of noise. So I took my car back to the Muffler Man that had just changed my muffler to have them check it out. Less than half an hour later I'm reduced to tears as one of the mechanics informs me that I need new front wheel bearings that will set me back $244, and that if I don't get it done soon my right wheel will fly off & likely kill somebody as I drive down the expressway. As I cry, the guy tells me it's ok and not so bad, and he makes me an offer to work on my car on the side for only $150. But I can't tell his employers because he'd get fired.

Well, for some reason or other I was skeptical that the wheel bearings were truly my problem. So I did some research & called my mom & planned to take my car to a mechanic that my friend recommended for a second opinion. My research (and my mother's conversation with a trusted mechanic back home) indicated that faulty wheel bearings would result in a humming or grinding noise (not my clunking that I was hearing) and a great deal of wobbling if they were bad enough to need to be replaced as emergently as this mechanic had led me to believe.

Fast forward to a few days later when I manage to get an appointment with the recommended mechanic in town. This guy first impressed me by caring enough to fit me into his schedule to make sure my car was safe before I wanted to travel out of town. He then spent greater than 30 minutes examining my car, and he comes back & tells me that my wheel bearings are fine. Some big branch auto mechanics will hustle customers for new wheel bearings because they are expensive but easy to replace, and big commercial companies pay their mechanics based on commission. He let me know that the noise was due to bad rear struts but that getting that fixed wasn't necessary & would just be an expensive repair to get rid of the noise. He did recommend that at some point I should get my back breaks adjusted (or something) because they haven't been working & that would cause my front breaks to go bad faster (which explains why I had to just get those replaced again this past summer), BUT that's less than $60. I then left without having to pay anything.

So the purpose of this is just to tell my fellow drivers to be careful who you trust before shelling out the cash. If you are able, get second opinions and shop around. Unfortunately for Muffler Man, this one bad employee of theirs has cost them all future business from me.