Monday, June 20, 2011

Week Recap: Jam-Packed Week & 100th Post!!!!!

I can't believe we did it! We made it to Post #100! I feel like we should celebrate or something! You know, I have really enjoyed this whole blogging thing. I thought that my writing juices were long since gone - left in my younger days of journaling. But once I got started, it wasn't that hard after all! I encourage everyone out there to start a blog. It really isn't that hard. Just go to www.blogger.com and get started! Just this past week, I have had two friends start blogs of their own and I'm so excited to start reading! Side-Note, I toyed with the idea of using either Wordpress or Tumblr, and I am SOOO glad that I used blogger. They come out with cool new features almost everyday and you can "follow" your friends blogs and stay up-to-date easier. Trust me- it's the best!

At first, we tried to make our blog full of useful ideas and tips. However, we soon ran out of "cool" ideas and started to just blog about our average, ordinary lives. Now, I love that I can look back over the last 8 months and see detailed descriptions and pictures of what we have filled our 24-7 with. Turns out, we arent' that boring after all! :) In all honesty, I decided to start this blog after seeing my poor, neglected camera hanging out in my drawer one day. I realized that I hadn't taken a photo in like 6 months! Plus, the camera was nice and new - what a waste! I figured if we started a blog, we would feel like we HAD to take pictures, or that there would be more purpose to taking our pictures. Well, turns out, unlike many other goals and ideas that never come to fruition, this one actually worked! Plus, after enlisting the help of Jason to come up with a cool blog name and to join me as a fellow writer- things started going even better!

So anyways, here's to 100 more!

So back to our week recap...this week was a rare one in the fact that the week was MUCH busier than the weekend! On Monday, we had separate girl's/guy's hangouts instead of our typical Monday night bible study. We had some good quality bonding time - the girls over nachos and margaritas, and the guys over pizza and Settlers of Catan. On Tuesday, I drove to Greenville for a meeting at one of my company's client locations. It was a nice time just to hang out in the car, listen to Dave Ramsey and David Platt (I'm weird and like to listen to people talk when I'm driving over music...), and eat some awesome Subway on the drive home. On Wednesday, one of my work friends invited us over along with some other people for some amazing food - grilled key lime chicken, fruit kabobs, and more. We had lots of fun hanging out on a week night and I even got trapped in her water sprinkler on the way out - long story... Anyways, on the way home, Jason and I got caught in a crazy, unsuspected wind-storm/turned rainstorm. While we were driving, the wind started going crazy and sand and dirt started hitting our little green civic so hard that we could hear it. Before we knew it, branches and pinecones were flying everywhere and the sky got really dark. The traffic lights were spinning around so fast that we could hear the sweaking sound in our car. Combine that with lots of thunder and lighting and we were happy to get home safe! We were really lucky in the fact that we didn't lose power. Even though most of our neighborhood (and 35,000+ Augustans did), we never lost it at all! We were really thankful for the rain when it did eventually come. We have been trying to keep our lawn alive with every-other-day waterings but it was about to make us go broke!

On Thursday, my co-working Stephanie and I got invited to go to a special dinner with work at the Augusta Country Club. We had a great time with some fellow MAU employees and enjoyed a delicious meal. We got to know each other better by trying thinking of a funny story between the ages of 10-15. It took me awhile to think of something, and I was beginning to think that I had led a way-to-safe, dull life, LOL! But, I finally remembered this time when I was around 14, right after we had moved to Atlanta that my sister and I were hanging out with my grandma at her house. We couldn't drive, but I convinced her to step out of her comfort zone and drive us to Michael's, so I could get some supplied for my latest craft project. On our way there, my Nana, went over a curb and made one of her tires go completely flat. The next thing I knew, my sister and I were running through Michael's asking anyone and everyone for help. When we couldn't find any volunteers, we had the bright idea of crossing Cobb Parkway to get to the nearest gas station. After asking around for help, a man pumping his car with gas volunteered to help. When we told him our car was across the street, he told us that he would drive us there. As stupid and naive as we were, we happily hopped in his car! He must have been an angel in disguise, because he drove us over to our car and fixed everything for us. Crazy story, I just wanted to write it down in case I forgot it....

On Friday, I had a presentation at work on the business benefits of Linkedin at the Manager's Meeting. After that crazy week, lots of work projects, and preparing for my presentation, I was dead tired by the time Friday night rolled around. Jason and I had a low-key night and just watched a movie, went on a walk, and had some pizza.

On Saturday morning, we had an inspection for a rental house that we are currently under contract for! YAY! We are really excited about having our first investment property on our own! The inspection went really well, so for now, we are just waiting until July 15, when we can close and get to work on making a few improvements/fixes to the place before renting it out! After  the inspection, we got some fresh bread and an amazing cinnamon roll from the Lil' Dutch Bakery. Their bread is absolutely amazing!


On Saturday night, we hung out with Paul and Shannon, ate some lasagna, and watched "Fun with Dick and Jane". Good Times! 

On Sunday, we went to church, cleaned the house (much needed),  called our dad's for Father's Day, and did some normal-life stuff like the budget, going through mail, and paying bills - probably not blog worthy, but hey - it can take up your entire afternoon! We ended the day with a nice long bike-ride and reading. I have to mention that I recently finished an awesome book - "Something Blue" and am currently reading "Something Borrowed". Both books are great page-turners. 

Until next time,
Laura 

Lake Weekend with Friends!

Last weekend, we got to go to my parent's lake house and spend some good quality R&R with some of our best friends from college!!!! Thanks mom and dad! We had an absolute blast! Here's how it went down...

We headed to the lake, which is about an hour and half away from Augusta, right after work. I had a crazy busy day, so we weren't able to leave quite as early as we had planned. Because of this, ALL of our friends arrived before us! Luckily, we were able to relay the lockbox code, alarm code, and other key items of information to our friend Darryl, who made it in no problem. 

When we arrived, the house was still cooling down since it was sooo HOT outside. We hung out for a bit on the patio, then started dinner asap. We had some cheap Sam's Pizzas- which are actually pretty good, some Ceasar salad, and some brownies. You should have seen Jason and I the night before as we bought TONS of food for the weekend. We have never bought so much food at once! 

That night, we didn't do much of anything except talk. We talked and talked and talked, which was so much great, especially since I haven't spent quality time with most of these folks in FAR too long. Late night hanging out reminded me of the good ole' college days. I'm so thankful to have friends where you can pick up right where you left off. I know it's cliche, but its true. We finally hit the sack around 1:00 to get rested for the next day full of boating! 

The next morning, I went for a run by myself. This actually took a bit of bravery given the amount of loose dogs there are in our neighborhood. For some reason, at the lake, all the dogs live footloose and fancy free. Their owners don't really care that they chase any runner or walker down and instead just shout from their front porch "he won't bite!!!!". This really doesn't make me feel much better when there is a dog twice my size, running full-force at me, showing his teeth, but oh well... Over the past year, my family has developed a few strategies for getting these dogs to go away. Option #1. Yell at the top of your lungs telling them to "Go home!" or "Stop!" Option #2. Pick up a stick and wave it violently at them - don't worry, no dogs have been harmed in this process! Well, since this morning, it was me by my lonesome, I decided to play it safe and actually run with a stick. I know I must have been quite a sight for those who drove by, but oh well- I don't care- I made it home alive! 

Once back, we had a breakfast of eggs, turkey bacon and toast. Then the guys played a few rounds of pool while the girls did what we do best...talk :) Soon, Jason was getting antsy to get behind the motor of the boat, so we all got ready and hopped in. We started off with a crazy tube ride with Lauren and Drew which didn't last long. Over the course of the weekend, everyone got multiple chances to ride the tube. It was a totally different experience than normal, since this time, we would all ride until we fell off. Normally, the kiddos play things a lot safer, and ride and ride and ride, until they are sick of riding. This normally can last anywhere from 15-20 minutes! Here are some pics of tubing and boating over the weekend. 















One of the coolest parts of the weekend was that we had some people actually get up on the wake board! I was beginning to think that this was impossible, given that none of the members of my family had been able to get up - despite watching many YouTube video tutorials haha. 

Drew was the first to get up. We were definitely all cheering from the boat! Michael also gave it a go and got up his first time! Awesome! Angelyn, Brenda, and I also tried, and we all got soo close, but not quite up all the way. At least we tried! Here's to next time! 



Jason was our fearless boat driver who perfected the craft of pulling people out on the wake board. Which also takes considerable skill. I'm am proud to say though that I did my own share of driving and even managed to get Jason off the tube with some crazy turns too! 


Some of the best times were had just hanging out and eating together. On Saturday night, we grilled out and enjoyed an amazing meal that left us all stuffed. We also had lots of downtime to swim at the dock and use all of our colorful floaties. I wish I had a photo of that! 



Thanks to everyone for driving through the middle of nowhere to get to Monticello. We had a great time! 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Patriotic Mailbox Makeover

So, it's been a pretty crazy couple of weeks in the Baareman household, which is pretty much par for the course I guess. But we still always have time for some easy improvements around the house and since the little flower bed around the mailbox in the front yard was being engulfed by weeds (which we pulled), Laura and I felt that we could spruce up that area a little bit. by giving our little bush some companions.  And we did just that. So here's how it went down. First, we needed some color so thank goodness there are many different kind of flowers that like full sun in the summer time. So we decided on some petunias or something like that. Fortunately, we didn't even pay much for the flowers because Laura got a Wal-Mart gift card through Quibids. It was her one success on that money sucking site, so we put it to good use.
We pretty much had everything else we needed or you would need:
  • Flowers (we got red, white, and deep purple because it's midsummer and it just felt right)
  • Shovel
  • Potting Soil (help offset some of the crazy hard clay)
  • Buckets (one for removed dirt and one for Miracle-Grow mixing)
  • Miracle-Grow (vitamin water for plants)

So after we got everything out and accessible for our usage, the next step was to arrange the flowers around the mailbox.  We played with location, color combination, and spacing to try and figure out would look the best.  We kept in mind too, that hopefully these little guys will grow big and produce tons of flowers during the season so spacing was important...not to far away from each other but not close that they begin to cloud each other.


After that, we dug the holes.  We had to dig pretty deep because we wanted to make sure that we could get the entire root clump of the plant right at or below the regular surface level for maximum growing potential.  By the way, It's amazing how close to the surface think, hard, Georgia clay lies.  Sometimes it felt like breaking up concrete and I would think to myself, "Man, these little roots can actually grow in this stuff?"  Thank goodness for potting soil.


With the holes dug we just placed the flowers in them according to the placement plan, broke up the root clump a little bit to expose more roots, and then filled in a soil mixture of fresh potting soil and the natural soil around the plant making sure to pack the dirt in around the root clump firmly to hold the plant in place nicely.


After that, it was time for drinks all around.  First each little plant got a health dose of Miracle Grow plant food water which should help give them extra nutrients to grow big and strong and produce many patriotic colored flowers by the 4th of July.  Then after that soaked in, we watered them with a little extra water.  After the watering, we had to place a little more soil around the sides and ground surfaces of the plant as dirt settled.  But I'd say these flowers were transplanted successfully in a fairly short time period (~30 min) and I think they will look great in about another month or so!  Tell us what you think and let us know of any good fallish type flowers to put in when that season rolls around so weeds to re-infiltrate our mailbox bed.  Adios!



Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How to Make Your Blog Mobile Friendly!

In my marketing job, we have recently been talking a lot about "Mobile Marketing". Since more people access the web via their cell phones than ever, it is really important that you make your website easy to access via all different types of cell phones and mobile devices (aka Nook, Ipad, etc.)

In the world of business, it could cost many thousands of dollars to convert your company website to a "Mobile-Friendly" website. Knowing this, it made me SUPER excited when blogger announced that it was going to make most of its blogger templates go MOBILE!

What does this mean? It means that with the click of one button, I can turn my blog from this:

to this:


The mobile version of our blog is SOOO much easier and faster to navigate, plus, now when people are using Facebook on their iPhones or smart phones, and they see a link to our blog, it will show up in just a second, vs. taking minutes to fully download everything on the full-blown version of the site. So how did I do it? Well, today when I first logged into blogger, this handy message popped up:

So I clicked "Turn on mobile templates." If you don't see this message, simply go to "Settings", click "Email & Mobile", then under "Mobile Template (beta)" click "Yes. On mobile devices, show the mobile version of my template." You can read more about these crazy cool updates on the Blogger Buzz Official Blog. They even have a video on their Blogger YouTube Channel all about how to update your blog to mobile

And, it's not just Mobile Templates that those Blogger peeps have been up to. They have also recently added Geotagging which let's you publish the location of your blog posting: 
They also recently added my favorite - Dynamic Views. You gotta watch the cool video below all about it. In short, you download "Blogger Dynamic Views" to your Chrome Browser (if you don't already use Chrome- you must use it now! Download here). Once you download it, the little orange blogger symbol will show up on any blogger blog. By just clicking the button and selecting your view, you can automatically view any blogger blog in 1 of 5 different formats. Everything happens automatically. It's so cool. 



Here's our blog in all versions:
Snapshot View

Flipcard View

Mosaic View

Sidebar View

Timeslide View

Blogger Dynamic Views Video 

So that's it! All I can say is - what will they think of next? This definitely assures me that I picked the best when I picked Blogger over Wordpress for hosting my blog! :)

I'll close with a REALLY cool Infographic from Microsoft Tag that has some pretty eye-opening stats about Mobile usage.

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend.  What a great holiday to kind of kick off summer.  I view Memorial day weekend as kind of a warm up to the fourth of July.  It's a chance to perfect those grilling recipes, escape the heat at the lake, and just spend time with family.  Also, it is always a great reminder that we can enjoy those things just described because of generations upon generations of heroic men and women who believe in the cause of liberty.  And to all of those we say thank you.  Now, since Memorial day is a 4th of July warm up, where else would we go, then to the lake house!  Yes, Laura and I trekked westward towards lake Jackson to spend the long weekend with Laura's family at their lake house.

video

Since, a few days prior, there had been a ferocious thunderstorm of epic proportions at the lake, some dock repairs were necessary because the little dock could not withstand the 60 mph winds and decided to separate and float down the lake.  Fortunately, the neighbor was able to tie the dock up by a bank so that when we arrived we could tow the dock back to it's designated place...on the property.  And that is what indeed occurred.  Much of the first day was dedicated to dock repair, but we were still able to get out in the boat a little bit to try our first attempt at wake boarding which was an epic fail.

Our neighbor towing the dock with the boat in it back to the house
 A close up 

That Saturday evening, Laura and I were selected to cook dinner.  We took this opportunity to perfect some grilled BBQ chicken.  I first lightly coated the chicken with a chicken seasoning dry rub.  Normally, I like to do the portion a few hours in advance so the seasoning can impact the chicken more fully, however, with a late change of plans which caused us to have to cook, I sprinkled it on right before going on the grill.  Once the grill was good and hot (but not too hot) the chicken went on and I basted the chicken with some melted butter.  After a few minutes, I turned the chicken and basted with butter again.  On the third turn, I put some BBQ sauce on the chicken.  The BBQ sauce I used was homemade and super delicious.  The recipe can be found here.  After lathering up the chicken with the sauce and after about 18 minutes, the chicken came off and I poured the remaining sauce over the top of the plateful of chicken.  It was finger licking delicious.  While I was grilling away, Laura was making baked potatoes (compete with the whole 9 yards like bacon bits, cheese, chives, butter, sour cream, salt, etc) and glazed carrots.  The mean came together perfectly and everyone loved it, so this was definitely a successful trial run of meal.


The next day, the dock was fixed completely by the afternoon, so more boating ensued.  We did tubing, wake boarding (still failed), kayaking and knee boarding.  After that, we came back and did a little bit of swimming off the dock to cool off from the ever increasing heat.  That night we went to Johnny's pizza for some tasty pies and decided to convince one of Laura's sister that she needs something to learn and become great at since she has all of this free summer time and doesn't appreciate it yet.  I think she felt a little bit intimidated, but it seems she might do very well at water sports.  The actual Memorial day was spent with the family preparing to leave.  So we were doing dishes, laundry, sweeping, etc.  And then we left that Monday in the late afternoon. It was a fabulous weekend and now my mouth is watering for July.


 This challenge occurred while we were swimming.  We all tried to get on the tube in the middle of the lake from the water.  And we did it!  We had to balance our weight and stuff but we actually all climbed onto the tube without tipping it over!
 Then we promptly tipped over

The Men

 Some of the Ladies


We used our Flip Camera to document a few of the fun times we enjoyed - then I used my Macbook Video editing skills to make this video. Hope you enjoy!




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