Monday, June 1, 2009

So Darn Funny!

A couple of really, really funny things have made me laugh out loud recently. Check out the following blog, Be sure not to miss March 26th, March 18th and February 4th. Tim came in from the other room just to see what was up as I was laughing so hard it made me wheeze!

On NPR last week they talked to the web master for the New York Times website. He was talking about the most searched topics on their site. Most were obvious, like Korea, Obama, etc. One had him and the host stumped, however. It was May 4, 2009. They invited listeners to email if they knew what it was. Turns out it is a self-declared holiday by Star Wars fans. They chose that day to celebrate their fandom so they could say to each other "May the 4th be with you." Go on, say it out loud. You know you wanna! I keep chuckling over that one . . .

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kelley's Island Weekend

At long last, another post from me. We just got back from a fabulous trip to Kelley's Island (in Lake Erie, north of Marblehead, OH) Ohio friends and family will know about KI and Put in Bay on nearby South Bass Island. I have been to Put in Bay several times over the years, but never to KI. Tim was happy to learn that there are cool places to visit in lake Erie, the most maligned of the great lakes.

Our friends, Jen and John, and their daughter Anna, invited us to join them for a long weekend. We stayed in a great cottage, very near the airstrip. John and Jen flew to the island in their cool Bonanza plane and we drove and took the ferry -- a fun adventure in and of itself. We spent a lot of time biking, walking and otherwise roaming the island. It is quiet, laid back and full of very friendly people. Well, all except for the grumpy lady at the ice cream stand next to the mini-golf. How can you be grumpy if your job is to sell ice cream?

The cottage was decorated with cool artisan sculptures and art, and was super comfortable. It had a fire pit with lots of wood just begging to be burnt. I think it must be wired into human DNA to love to sit around a fire and stare into it for hours on end. Of course, it helps when there is great beer involved! Lots of Oberon and Great Lakes beers were consumed. The Commodore Perry IPA was particularly apropos as we flew over Put in Bay that same day and saw the Perry memorial

Anna had her very first s'more around that same campfire and we all enjoyed throwing rocks into the "pond" (Lake Erie) with her on our last day. Other time was spent rambling over the island in the Polaris Ranger (check out pics here: We did decide, however, that the neighbor's extended golf cart with the spinners and cow hide covered seats was really the ride we should have had! There are also some very cool glacial grooves set aside and maintained as a state park. To think that all the great lakes and a huge 5-6 state area were formed by massive glaciers that moved about 1 in per day is awesome and I get kinda geeky about reading the signs and learning about stuff like that.

Now back home, and dog free for one night. Tim will pick them up tomorrow from the vet's office. They were prepared to give Henry doggie valium (he doesn't like kennels at all) and we've never kenneled Bea, so there is no telling how that all went!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Oh, the Joys of Corporate Travel.

I'm finally back home from my first long work trip of the year. It was nice to get to March without an overnight trip for work -- although this one made up for it. I had 6 flight segments and 3 different hotels in 5 days. (The upside is that I was upgraded to 1st Class whenever it was available, and I earned quite a few miles. Plus, there was sunshine, even if I was inside most of the time.)

The past week was actually more interesting than most of my trips. First we started in TX, at Texas A&M, interviewing undergrad and grad students in the Food Science department for internships. I am so impressed by the quality of the students and really enjoy being part of screening them for internships. I do have a vested interest as these folks will someday be my colleagues. In the next 5-10 years a lot of our most senior people will be retiring and there is a shortage of food science students to back fill those jobs. While it feels a bit strange to not be the young/new kid any more, and I'm glad that I can give back by interacting with the students in this way. Most of them don't really know what professional jobs using their education will look like, and are woefully short on knowledge about interviewing, resumes and cover letters. We were able to give coaching and feedback on this part as well.

Then it was off to CA for the Natural Products Expo West convention. This is a trade show for the natural products industry. All the big players and many of the smaller ones are there to showcase their new products and interact with the rest of the industry. My interest is looking at the trends and looking for new ingredients or raw materials. Plus, I love to visit the booths of some of my favorite brands and find out what's new with them. If you had room in your suitcase and the time, you could take home a lot of great samples. I didn't have much of either, so I concentrated on small things -- like lots and lots of tea samples. I'm so glad that the tea companies and the market is catching up with me. I have so many types of teas to choose from now, and that fills the gap that I used to fill with Diet Coke. I was really struck by one trend, a tea company that is marketing teas for kids. Herbal with lots of fruit and other flavors coming from the ingredients. Now parents can start their kids on drinks that are low in sugar, high in antioxidants and steer them away from soda or juice drinks. Very cool!

We also went to dinners and events sponsored by a couple of our suppliers. I even learned to play craps at one of them. Totally fun -- if we ever go to a casino (highly unlikely) I'll definitely want to play. Then it was time to get up very early and head home. Unfortunately, the flight back was complicated by the fact that I have yet another cold. It's uncomfortable to fly when your ears are full of fluid and all you want to do is go to sleep. That's all I've done today and I doubt I'll make it into work tomorrow. Sigh. I long for sunshine and warm weather. Bring on Spring Break!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's been a good week :-)

The sun is shining, it's above 20 F and I'm in a great mood. There is something about all the very subtle signs that spring will actually come again that are helping me shake the winter blahs.

And, there are several things that have reminded me to be thankful: My job is as safe as any job can be right now, Tim's lab results came back normal and the dogs are getting along better.

I've been a bit overwhelmed by all the bad news about the economy. This area of Michigan is quite hard hit and we know several close friends who are suffering from reduced or lost jobs. It just seems that everywhere we turn, someone is hurting or is having financial difficulties. At K, our stock price is way down and there are lots of business direction changes at work. Plus, with Tim student teaching, we rely very heavily on my paycheck. I've been worried about the security of my job -- I got a great review this year, but if they had to make lists for cuts, would they keep me? At the end of this week we had an R&D/Engineering yearly meeting where the CEO spoke to us. He didn't exactly say our functions were free from any threat of layoffs, but he came close to it. That's helped me feel a whole lot better.

We have been applying for term life insurance, and Tim's lab results came back with some high levels for liver function enzymes. Worrisome, of course, both for his health and for getting the insurance. The end result is that he went to his doctor to discuss and re-test, and the results were normal. Yeah! The insurance company approved his policy and we're waiting to see what the premium is going to be. Hopefully, if it is high, we can send them the results of the test with the doctor and get some reduction.

We've been working with a dog trainer to help us understand why Henry and Bea suddenly stopped getting along. Trust me when I say that it was bloody and very tense when it all erupted. It was touch and go for a bit about whether we could keep both, but things are looking up. We had a great lesson yesterday and while we have much more work to do, they are making great progress. It's not nearly as neat or easy as the Dog Whisper makes it seem!

I'll be traveling next week, and it is to warm and sunny places -- TX and CA. If I have to be away from home, those are great places to be. Maybe it'll be warmer here too by the time I get back. We've been dreaming about fun things to do this spring and summer . . . kayaking, camping, biking and mountain bike races (that's Tim's idea of fun) and other stuff. Only about 6 weeks more until we should be able to be outside consistently. I think I can make it!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hiram Gals in Arizona

I've been blessed to have a great group of college girlfriends who've kept in touch over the years. (Side note: in August it will have been 20 years since we all met as Freshmen! No way do I feel that old :-) We used to try to get together more often, but that's waned a bit with marriages and kids. On a bit of a whim, we managed to get together in Scottsdale for a 3 day weekend with most of the group. It was awesome to reconnect and relax with a whole weekend of basically doing nothing. We did some shopping (shoes were bought!) and some sight seeing (day trip to Sedona with awesome views) and saw a chic flick.

It's hard to say why this group of women is so amazing and why we have all stayed friends for so long. Most of us didn't have many classes together and we didn't even all live in the same dorms, though a few of us did. Somehow, though, we clicked. We all have very different careers and live far apart in different states. Each of us is pretty strong and opinionated, but is still able to support and listen to each other. I think the secret is each is a strong, successful woman who understands that without our families and friends, we'd would never have made it this far! I'm proud to be friends with Mary, Janice, Dawn, Kelly, Kate and Jen (who wasn't able to be there with us this time). And, I know it won't be so long in between get togethers next time.


I know, I know, I've been such a bad blogger. I really intended to keep up with the blog, and the further behind I got, the worse it was to get started again. So, with little mention of all the things that have happened since September, I'm back to posting.

In no particular order or importance, here are some of the things I've left out of the blog: Brother Josh got married to the lovely Allison and we all had a great time at the wedding. Except for Tim who had to turn around in Ohio and go back to deal with sick dogs. We now call Bea "Giardia Mary" because she gave it to Henry and all the cats. I was pregnant again, and miscarried, again. That pretty much sucked. I traveled a lot for work and made Gold status on NWA. A dubious distinction, I think. I made consumer test samples on a new product that is very cool and also a bit strange. You'll hear more about that at a later date. I launched a new cereal for Kashi "Organic Promise Island Vanilla." In stores now, so look for it (organic shredded wheat). It is yummy and I eat it for breakfast about 3 days a week. We had the whole family here for Christmas again. This year it was more work and the dogs had a hard time with all the people in the house and were acting out a lot. Tim and I went to Chicago between Christmas and New Years for a much needed break. We stayed at the Palmer House Hilton. It's a really fabulous hotel and we had a wonderful relaxing time. Since the first of the year work has been complicated by the peanut recall. It's even delayed the cool new product that I made the samples of earlier. No peanuts in that one, but the production facility was using the recalled ingredients and they had to shut down to clean. We missed our window to get sales samples to the sales force, so we're not going to be in market with this one until Jan 2010. Tim quit his job in December to student teach at Portage Northern High School in the business department. His mentor, Amy, is now out on maternity leave so he is the long term sub for the classes. He's learning the way he likes best -- by jumping in feet first. He loves teaching and is more energized by connecting and impacting students than by anything else I've seen him do. I'm taking a cool class at the Lilah Arboretum in BC on perennial propagation. One day I'd love to be a master gardener, but for now I'm concentrating on learning more about plants and digging up parts of the yard! Hopefully I'll post pictures of that process. Work travel is ramping up again in March, and we've planned to go to FL to see Tim's step dad over spring break. At least planning all of this will keep my mind of the crazy amount of snow we've gotten this winter.

So, please keep checking back for more posts about what's going on in our lives!