Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Haunted House = A house often perceived as being inhabited by disembodied spirits of the deceased ... where you eat dinner and paint peace signs

Our Thanksgiving vacation events included a girls night out to an old house in Indy for some dinner and painting. 

The house was haunted. And creepy. And we took advantage of these ghost infested rooms for a small photo shoot. 

There were lots of ghostly creepsters following us around from room to room, as you can see below.

Mandy found herself a little friend.

Mandy + Her new friend = super scary. 

See that lady in the picture. Yeah, she's dead. Died the morning after she slept in the bed that was sitting right next to this dresser. Spooky.

I was fairly certain that we might get kicked out of that house after our escapades. But we made it to dinner without getting into too much trouble.

After dinner the painting began. 

Here we see Marissa; quite the professional.

Mandy isn't the most ... artistic person in the family, but on this evening, she dressed the part and decided to give it her all. In fact, she worked so hard perfecting her painting, that before she had finished, all the dishes had been cleared and everyone else had left. 

My mom finished her painting ...

Me and Marissa finished ours...

And 20 million years later ...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~W.J. Cameron

Thanksgiving! A wonderful day to share with family. And that's what we did.

We spend the Thanksgiving holiday at my parents house along with Justin, Marissa, and Amanda.

We all shared in cooking the Thanksgiving meal. There was a bit of a disturbance when someone (it probably wasn't me ... ) put too many potato peels down the garbage disposal at once. They were shooting out under the sink for a little while but James and Marissa did a great job cleaning them all up.

Per request of my little husband, we spent Saturday afternoon preparing and serving meals at the Shalom House in Lebanon. We had a lot of fun working together to serve those who came in for something to eat. It was a great experience and something that I would say deserves the status of new Thanksgiving tradition. 

Contrary to the contents of these photos, I was actually there to help out. I was the primary food scooper. When you are the picture taker, you don't always remember to get photos of yourself (which I'm usually just fine with). But, as proof of my participation, I did remember to get one of James and I before we left. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Anniversary 4.0

This year on November 23rd we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary!

We were at my parents house and decided to spend the evening in down town Indy at the city circle.

We wanted to go to Pot Belly for sandwiches since we had gone there on our honeymoon but when we arrived, we found out they had closed three minutes earlier.

We settled for Pennstation instead and then went to the South Bend Chocolate Company for some of the best hot chocolate known to man.

We LOVE hot chocolate and theirs was so delicious! It was topped with real whipped cream, melted milk chocolate and a cherry. At $2.00, I highly recommend it!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Our friends took us to see the lighting of a huge tree in downtown Detroit in early November. 

Her business had a party over looking the lighting, but after the party we went outside to walk around the 60 foot tree. It  boasted 18,000 lights on three miles of wire. In this picture the tree doesn't look nearly as cool or as big as it actually was but, believe me, it was spectacular. What an awesome start to the Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shout Out to Quality Customer Service

Why yes, I do have a huge back log of blog posts that need to be completed. Why do you ask?

It has been brought to my attention that I have not, of late, been keeping my blog regularly and sufficiently updated. Per specific request by a few blog stalking parties (ahem, mother and Stacey) I will dedicating my free time these next few weeks to our recent goings-on. 

But first ... A shout out to decent customer service. 

I have worked many customer service jobs within the duration of my short life. They aren't always the easiest of jobs, but I always tried to be as pleasant and helpful as I was able to the customers I dealt with. 

Unfortunately, I don't think this is the mentality of every customer service rep.  Rudeness in customer service seems to be a very rampant epidemic. 

Don't get me wrong, I do undertand what working in the customer service industry is like - I was an insurance claims agent for crying out loud. I understand that every once in a while you get that customer who is demanding and unreasonable and makes you want to pull your hair out, but what about the rest of us. The people who just want you to stop talking to your friends behind the counter long enough to ring us up at the register or want to be able to ask you a question with out an enormous exaggerated eye roll. Or acknowledge our existence at all.

Anyway, I've come to expect sub-par service (maybe I lived in Baltimore one too many years). That is why I really appreciate a happy and helpful employee. 

I've seen many lately. The lady who cuts my fabric at JoAnn, the bank lady who always has a complement for her customers or the entire crew of every chick-fil-a I've ever visited. But the best of all has been has been Canvas on Demand

My mom had purchased us a canvas as a Christmas present last year. I had requested a sepia photo and although the photo looked great, it was a little too yellow for my liking. I saw that they had a 365 day return or exchange policy so I called to see when the canvas was ordered and if I could get an exchange. 

To my dismay, I found out I had missed the deadline by about a week. To my excitement, the service rep informed me that a week was no big deal and that they would happily exchange my canvas. 

Canvas on Demand really knows what they are doing. Once I called and requested an exchange, I dealt with that same employee throughout the entire process. I hate when I have to call back a million times. I wait on the line for hours just to explain my situation again to a representative who puts me on hold to look up my account. Usually you end up talking to multiple people and no one knows how to help you. 

My Canvas on Demand rep e-mailed me an easy exchange form as well as a detailed instructions and her personal extension and address. How easy it was. I filled out a form and mailed it to the company along with a cut out of my original canvas. 

I made a black and white file of my picture and e-mailed it to the representative. I got an e-mail back from her an hour later. In my e-mail I had mentioned that I wanted a black and white photo but she had noticed the file I sent her had a few dark brownish tones in small areas. She wanted to know if I wanted her to convert the file to a true black and white image before she sent it to the printer. Wow, talk about going the extra mile.  I couldn't believe she actually read my e-mail, let alone, looked over the file before she placed an order. 

Needless to say, my canvas arrive a short while after and looked amazing! Just the way I had wanted it. I know this was a long worded post about a very simple thing, but I'd like to give credit where credit is due to a company who goes above and beyond the status quo and demonstrates stellar service to its customers. Thanks Canvas on Demand!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Happy Late Halloween!

Ann Arbor is teeming with fun things to do in the fall. And Halloween is no different. Unfortunately, only three kids came to our house to trick or treat. Good thing we filled our time with loads of Halloween festivities of our own! With a few of our friends we went to a cider mill and had donuts, watched the best Halloween movies ever made - Hocus Pocus and So I married an Axe Murder, gave out candy at our wards truck or treat AND we picked pumpkins at a pumpkin patch... 

Lots of the pumpkins at the patch were huge! They were also very awkwardly shaped. James tried to pick this one up but he couldn't quite get his arms all the way around it. 

Since most of the pumpkins were flat on one side, we spent quite a while walking through the patch trying to find round ones. We decided to pile all the good pumpkins on our cart and pick from the bunch after it was full. 

With our pumpkins purchased we headed for Ann Arbor's Nature Conservancy where we watched a special "Halloween" animal show and ate even more donuts. We got to see all kinds of scary animals.  They featured a raven, a vulture, a large snake, a gila monster, a fruit bat, cock roaches, and an owl. The owl was extremely beautiful. 

We also got to touch the gila monster. I've never touched a live one before (Awesome!). 

After the show, the group carved our pumpkins. They turned out pretty awesome if I do say so myself. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

10 Years on 10-10

October 10th this year marked 10 years since James entered the Missionary Training Center, ready to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Managua, Nicaragua Mission.

Apparently, when James opened his mission call no one knew where Nicaragua was. His brother actually thought he had been called to Africa. Wherever it was, James was excited to go.

James loved his mission. He loved the people he met, the places he visited, the experiences he had, and the effect those experiences had on his priorities and his testimony of Jesus Christ. He loves to tell stories about his mission, and I love to hear them.

I spent the last week scanning the last of his massive stack of mission pictures, and so, I thought I'd share a few favorites to celebrate the 10 year mark. (Get ready, there are quite a few)

Baptism in the Pacific Ocean

Climbing a palm tree

Playing "Dust in the Wind" on a recorder

Burning trash

James and his Companion, Fausto Barillas

Killing his dinner

Filling the font for a baptism with help from the fire department

Information booth in city park

In the city park

James with companion Jose Ortiz

Knocking Doors

Making nacatamales

Buying ice cream, riding a bike taxi and stopping for some scripture reading

Friends in Nicaragua

Walking through the rain forest

Holding a pet monkey

Washing clothes in the pila (washboard sink)

Holding an old church sign

I LOVE these pictures! Isn't little mission James so adorable?

Anyway, We didn't do much to celebrate but James did get out his original name tag to wear around the house for a little while. It still has his "new missionary" orange dot stuck to the back from his first day as a missionary. 

I'm very proud that I have married such a wonderful man and an honorable return missionary. I'm a very lucky little lady.