Wanted an E-Reader

Well, I must admit that I tend to want the newest geeky high-tech toys. However, generally speaking I’ve never wanted an e-book reader.

I am an authentic book lover. When I say I love books, I picture one day that I’ll have an entire room filled with books (picture the scene from Beauty and the Beast), and yes, I would marry the Beast if I could have a Library like that :0). I love the feel and the smell of books (apparently I’m not alone, there was a scene with Rory Gilmore sniffing a book).

Therefore, the idea of having electronic copies of books disturbed me. The idea that more and more of these electronic copies would become more convenient, and would eventually replace books was horrifying! Let alone, the fact that I’d still want physical books, so I’d have to pay to replicate my current collection electronically, as well as get physical and electronic copies of all future books. However, recently, my dad began asking me what I’d want for my birthday/Christmas. We usually talk about this the week around Thanksgiving, as the best sales for cool tech gadgets are this week. I said that I wanted books, thinking of all the Bible commentaries that I’ve been jonesing for. He says, “you mean like an e-reader?” And I decided to research them, since I hadn’t for awhile.

I found out that they are much better priced than they used to be. I downloaded an awesome program called Calibre (it may only be for Linux), and began to add books I found for free online. When I had a 100 books stored on that, and was no where near being a gig, I was convinced. The idea of being able to have all of my favorite books with me, on my person, whenever, was compelling! So then, I begin looking for sales. I had pretty much picked out the Kindle Keyboard wifi, as it has 4gigs versus 2, and I actually like taking notes for my book review blog at www.belleslibrary.net. In waiting, the version that I wanted from Amazon was not on sale anymore, or did not have the special discounted price for the ads. The wifi version was now the same price as the 3g version with special offers. However, this was outside of my budget for now.

Then, I saw this amazing add on bestbuy.com. It was a pre-Thanksgiving sale. The Kindle 3g with special offers (regularly $139) was now on sale for $89.99. I felt like this was what I was waiting for. We hurried to the local best buy, and I was in disbelief as I was hugging the giant plastic theft proof container to my chest. I was convinced that it was going to ring up as its regular price at the register. When I got it home I could not wait to play with it! Basically, this whole week has involved me finding new free online books, adding them to Calibre, converting them to proper formats (.mobi for Kindle), adding them to the Kindle, and organizing them on the Kindle (this can take a lot of time).

I LOVE MY KINDLE! Things that pleasantly surprised me: the mp3 music player, the speakers, the web browser, and the ability to automatically add notes to my twitter and facebook accounts. Now, if you are mostly interested in web browsing, I’d recommend a tablet. However, I enjoy having a dedicated e-reader, with the added bonus of being able to check for an important email. I think one of the best ways that this has improved my reading so far is that if there is a word, or reference I do not understand, I can quickly google/wikipedia it. Things that I’m much too lazy to do while reading a physical book.

The coolest thing about this so far have been all of the Bibles in other languages that I’ve been able to find. The fact that I can have tons of Bibles in this one teeny device is just awesome. I even have a copy of the Gospel of Matthew in Friuli, the language of the unreached people group in Italy that we worked with last summer. (For which, as far as I understand, a complete Bible has not even been written in that language, though they do mostly all speak Italian).

Here are some tips for the Kindle:
-Download Calibre and manage your books through that program. It will allow you to convert all file types that do not have a DRM.

Free e-book sites:
-amazon.com
-gutenberg.org
-ntslibrary.org

OC Bowl’d on Turkey Day

I like pink, and I match!

For those of you who do not understand OC, you can see a previous post about me open carrying at Lobby Day. Basically, the husband and I like to open carry at restaurants and around town with friends of ours, this is an opportunity to educate others and show them that our guns are not going to magically fly out of the holster and attack them.

We have this couple that we go out to eat with a lot, and recently we’ve talked more about how we need to do other activities. One of these happened over the summer, when we went mini golfing. We had a lot of fun! Ironically, we met this couple through an online forum scheduled Open Carry event in our city, and then discovered that we got married a week apart!

This past summer, I’m not good at this either.
She has a REAL pink gun :0)

Last year, we celebrated Thanksgiving with our gang of friends from college (lovingly and weirdly referred to as the Rot Rats). You may remember that event that I hosted from last year. However, this year our friends invited us over for Turkey day at their house! They cooked most of the main things, turkey (her first), rolls (yummy and homemade), green bean casserole, corn on the cob, chicken gravy, and some of the best mashed potatoes that I have ever tasted. We were responsible for the drinks and desserts.

That meant that I got to wake up on Turkey day and make cookies! It was a wonderful smell (and I enjoyed eating the left-over cookie dough). I was also preparing my second apple pie, with the correct apples this time. I made them with red apples instead of granny smiths, if you remember. In getting everything mixed and prepared, I realized that I used the last of the butter on the peanut butter cookies. So, husband willingly braved the stores to find the butter, and returned home victorious.

Around 1ish we headed over to our friends. We chilled while final cooking preparations were completed. We ate just a little bit later. Then, of course, came the turkey induced coma. We turned on the tv, and all ended up crashing for about 45 minutes-2 hours. We awoke and decided to eat the desserts. The 2nd apple pie was a hit.

Then, the main event of the evening was bowling. I was excited to go bowling, even though my arm was still a little sore from falling on it a couple of weeks ago. Due to this I had decided that I would bowl with my left hand, or granny bowl. Neither of those techniques were working very well for me. I bowled a 28 the first round, which surprisingly is not the lowest that I’ve ever scored. I’ve actually never been very good at bowling, I tend to twist my wrist just as I’m releasing the ball, flinging it into the gutter. I’ve actually even gotten gutter balls when there were guard rails in the gutters! So, I decided to just try using my right pain, despite that I might injure it further. I ended up developing a new successful technique, I would bowl, not underhanded, but by flicking the ball forward with my hand. I could see it better this way, and prevent my wrist from twisting. I improved dramatically, I even got a strike at one point, bringing my next two rounds to a 60 something and a 90 something :0).

Yes, I’m E at 28 :-/ However, we all did badly that round.

I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving!

Attended a Gun Show

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to my first gun show. The morning of the show we got there a little early, and ended up waiting in line for about 15 minutes. I’ve waited in line for Black Friday sales, midnight movie premieres, events at college, and Christian conferences (most recently the Extraordinary Women’s Conference), but never to get into a gun show. I’m pretty sure that I was the only woman in line. While waiting in line the husband was holding me close because it was a little chillier than anticipated (and to this southern belle if its not warm than it is chilly). A gentleman behind us asked if he could ask us something. He turned to me and asked, “Are you here because you wanted to be with him, or because you are genuine interested?” I replied that I had specifically asked to come after I heard my husband was planning on coming. I said that, “guns and their accessories are something that you can buy just because they are pretty” and he laughed. Apparently, his wife is not currently interested in firearms; I just encouraged him to be patient because it is really important that we let it grow on us.

No loaded firearms permitted, due to insurance reasons.

My objective and reason for asking to come? To find pink stuffs, and other women-related firearm products. Most gun stores do not stock nice leather gun purses, and ordering offline means that I can not visually see it and test it (which is so crucial in a everyday use purse!). I do not have a ton of pictures; picture taking is discouraged as it makes sales people nervous. Picture taking is especially common in undercover reporters who like to share the evils and backwoods-ness of gun owners. I may end up posting stock pictures from booth member’s websites.

Surprisingly, there was a lot of retail variety at the show. Most of the booth’s displayed all types of firearms, ammunition, holsters, and other tactical supplies. However, there were also the following products for sale: beautiful landscape artwork, jewelry, beads, herbal warmers, purses, camping supplies, books, a booth offering African Safari Tours, and ….cute fashionable scarves. I have two theories: 1.) This area realizes that gun shows draw a large crowd, and 2.) that gun owners are dynamic people who appreciate other types of things.

My goals were accomplished! I saw several pink girls themed tshirts, nice leather purses, holsters designed with a woman’s body in mind, and one of my favorites: pink and lavendar TCP’s by Taurus. I didn’t end up buying anything pink, but I did buy a purse and a cute scarf…at a gun show. Yes, I am proud of myself :0).

The purse is actually made out of recycled seat belt material! This makes it highly durable, and a very well constructed purse. It is called a Maggie bag, and you can find more here. I would never really purchase this expensive of a purse, but I appreciate its uniqueness. Also, this will be a great purse when in a large city or overseas, because the seat belt material is actually very difficult to cut. If you are crafty (and are actually discipline enough to follow through with all of the amazing things you’d like to do) here  are directions on how to make your own purse! If you are wondering where to find seat belt material, visiting your local junk yard would prove rewarding, or you can also purchase supplies online, here and here. Or you can alsopurchase these from esty.

An added surprise on our day trip. We left late Friday night and were going to stay about an hour away from the show at the husby’s boss’ in-laws for the night (instead of having to make such a long drive twice in one day). We were told that we would have the apartment above the house, nicknamed “the Suite.” Little did we know how accurate that description was! It was literally this adorable Suite with electric fireplace, fancy bed, kitchenette, and deck. Everything was stocked. The fridge had water and sodas, the cupboards had coffee, a hot plate, plates/cups, there were a bag of chips with two different salsas, nice chocolates next to the long chair, and each of the chairs facing the electric fireplace had a folded up blanket. We saw this room before we ever met his in-laws, and the detailed comfort attended to in that room revealed a beautiful heart for Christian hospitality and was a deep blessing to me. Appearently, at times they have rented the room out as a bed and breakfast, but also use it to host missionaries on furlough, and currently for Pastoral potentials. Please pray for them as they have been without a Pastor for 3 years and are seeking God’s guidance.

The husband and I have talked about having a room/apartment set up like that in our basement one day. He has a huge heart for homeless ministry, and he’d love to be able to help them get off the street by providing them a fresh place to start. I would love to be a blessing to missionaries as I think their struggles are often unrealized by the Church.

This beautiful room helped to show me how special a bed and breakfast room could feel. The husband and I have often talked about making a short trip to a bed and breakfast, and I never saw what the big deal was. To me, vacations are about doing something exciting or entertaining, something far away from home and different. However, now I could see the benefits of a simple short trip in a fancy space to get away from a dull routine. We are hoping to take some sort of trip during the Christmas season, let us know if you have any ideas!

Lived Down on Skid Row

Although, technically I did when I performed in this show.

Ever since they built the “Tower Theatre” the school has been doing better and better theatre productions. If you do not remember about their Phantom of the Opera performance that I went to last year, you can read about it here. I was excited to find out that they were doing “Little Shop of Horrors.” I was actually in this performance my junior year of high school. I loved being a part of theatre. I was always an extra chorus member, but it is just a fun environment to be in.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any of my pictures from that performance :0( I’m not even sure that I took any. I could have been in between a camera that year. Honestly, even when I did take pictures, before I had my own personal camera…I hardly ever remembered to download and back up the pictures anyways. So whenever we got a new computer, or it got reformatted all of the pictures would be gone aways. I’ll hunt for it later.

I got the husby to come to the show with me! I was excited to watch this with him, thinking that I had scored awesome 4th row orchestra pit seats. Until we got to our row… apparently Audrey II decided to eat the first three rows of seats. So now, the 4th row had become the first row, right next to the stage. I realized that we were going to be very uncomfortably close to the action.

The show opened, and I could see that they had extended the stage so that the subway exit actually led to under ground crossing section, for character exits. During the songs I wanted to sing along, due to the fact that for months these songs were drilled into my head. Overall the performance was good, I was a little disappointed with the first act, I just didn’t feel like they “brought it.” I felt like Seymour’s character had very weak vocals, but I don’t know if that was how they were trying to portray this geeky character. Audrey was very in character, and I was impressed with how she could jump around Audrey II’s roots during the fast paced scene with the phones ringing, I surely would have fallen flat on my face.

I’m not gonna lie, during the kissing scenes I wanted to yell “reps!” I kept thinking about how in our performance in high school the male lead was dating the female understudy, and the male understudy was this jerky full of himself guy. So what happened was that if the male understudy actually kissed the female understudy, then she decided that she was really going to slap him in a following scene.

One thing that I preferred to my high school’s performance was the use of so many people in the production. We had several people walking around during the opening dressed as drunks, mail room clerks (me), and other just random people. I think having a constant flux of people for certain scenes helps the play to feel like it is really set in New York City. Instead, this performance had a very small cast, the hobos in the opening scene were actually those who played the voice, roots, or other parts of Audrey II. This meant that the young man who played the dentist played every other “extra” speaking role in the play. This was especially hilarious when you see him walk on stage dressed as a woman. He was very talented, and very willing to go all the way for his performances.

I do have a few pictures from when I performed “South Pacific” in high school. I played a French Islander. This meant that we had one main scene, in which we learned a song in French, and danced with the sailors. This was the first musical that my high school performed in like 30 years. It was incredibly to see all of the departments come together to make this a possibility, all of the chorus classes, the theatre classes, the set design class, the art students, and even the principle’s mom helped to make our costumes. As a cast we had so much fun hanging out behind scenes, one of our favorites was this area where we had pushed two couches together which meant for tons of seating. We were easily entertained, often doing our homework backstage. I remember once that I was working on a chemistry lab report, and someone accident-ly put their orange on my homework. It blend into the paper, but I think my teacher ended up accepting it because everyone was so excited about our musical.

Gone Apple-Picking or Baked an Apple Pie!

This is one of those post where I get to tell you that I still haven’t done the thing that I’m talking about. Well…at least one of them.

A month or so ago my supervisor at work decided to see who’d be interested in going Apple-picking. This is a typical fall activity around here with so many orchards hidden in the nearby mountains. Usually this is an activity that people will do with their dorms, but we figured it’d be fun to do with all of those who are off campus/married.

I loved the drive over there, the leaves are just to beautiful in the fall! My favorites are where the edges are red or orange, and you can still see the green next to the steps; its amazing to see the range of color that you can see on one tree!

When we got there we found out that there was actually a little festival going on too! So there were vendors selling all types of homemade products from jewelry, artwork, needle crafts, snacks, and metal work. There was music playing and horse drawn wagon rides.

A fluffy Alpaca!

We found out when we walked into the country store, that there were actually no apples to be picked from the trees. Apparently, due to the weather, they’d already been picked. Everyone else dug in and picked themselves a peck or so of apples. I did not buy any additional apples because my mother in law had recently purchased some apples for us while driving through Northern Virginia. I did, however, purchase some other homemade goods.

While walking back to our vehicles (which were parked in the orchard in between the rows of trees) we decided to pose and pretend to pick the few remaining underdeveloped apples from the trees. All and all it was a very fun outing. Everyone there was affiliated with Xtreme Impact in some way or another, but I think we all had fun exploring some of our interests outside of work.

A few weeks later I finally got around to making an Apple pie with all of the apples that I had. I actually ended up making like 5 pies that weekend, because I had some supplies to make Pumpkin pies that I wanted to use before they expired. Needless to say, the house smelt amazing, and I earned a bazillion wife points.

It was my first attempt at making an apple pie. I use the “Easy Swedish Apple Pie” recipe from allrecipes.com. I did use a pre-prepared crust, but I don’t feel like I should lose points for that. The husband was very helpful in peeling the apples for me. I tried using the potato peeler, but the peel seemed too slick to get the traction to actually shave the apple, so husby just used his knife.

I threw it all together, and then I wondered if I should try making the lattice crust. The husband said, “Well, the time to fail is now, when we do not have kids. That way when they are born, they think you’re an amazing cook.” So, I decided to google directions for the lattice work. It is actually really simple, especially while following this picture tutorial.

The pie turned out wonderfully, if a little sweet. I had used some sort of red apples, instead of the Granny Smith’s that the recipe called for. I used this recipe again to make a pie for Thanksgiving, with the correct apples. My second attempt was a second success. I’m 2 for 2! The husband actually preferred the sweeter pie. I’m just glad they were both crowd pleasers!

I would highly recommend these pie crusts from Wal-mart.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’ll post more about mine soon!

Been an Extraordinary Woman

Waiting in line before the doors opened, a crazy looong line!

The large Christian school that I graduated from has been blessed to have tons of nice facilities. For this reason we often host large conferences. While I was living on campus every few weekends we would find ourselves swarmed with high school students, and other types of groups. One of our favorite (least favorite) groups was when our campus would host the Extraordinary Women’s conference. My friends and I found the title funny and would joke around saying “look, there goes an extraordinary woman!” throughout the weekend. Well, a few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to become one of these Extraordinary Women. My mother-in-law drove down for the weekend (this was the same weekend that the husband and I went to see Wicked.

Yes, I did this. Also, I’m pretty sure this is a guy dressed as a cow, dressed as a princess.

I’ve been to some large Christian conferences, including my favorite, a Passion Conference that I attended in Atlanta, GA in 2007. That was an incredible feeling, being in an arena with some 20,000 like minded Christians. (At the same time that year one of my best friends was at a Missions conference called Urbanna with about the same amount of people). One of my favorite part of the Passions conference was that it was not treated like this annual club, but rather people were motivated to be different from this conference and to “go out!”

So, I was very excited to be attending an all women’s conference. It was neat to look around and see women of all ages, and being taught biblical truths in a way that I would understand best as a woman. We heard from excellent speakers including: Lysa Terkeurst, Jennifer Rothschild, Carol Kent, Donna Vanliere, and the special guest of the weekend, Sarah Palin. The theme of the weekend was learning how to have faith.There were so many great truths shared, one of my favorite quotes was,

 “It’s not about us. God doesn’t exist to make a big deal out of us. We exist to make a big deal out of God” – Sarah Palin.

I really enjoyed the weekend. I only had a few criticisms, I’d really like to see them incorporate more of a small group environment with different breakout sessions. They did that at Passion 2007 and it worked really well. I think a reason that they might not is that they assume that you’ll be attending with a church group so there is your small group structure.