Monday, July 30, 2012

Capturing Memories

I love scrap booking but I've never been very good. My mother-in-law Lisa makes amazing scrap books and I always buy a bunch of creative memories merchandise thinking I can duplicate

I began blogging as an alternate way to try and capture stories, events, activities, etc. and recently investigating venues to convert blog posts to a hard copy book.

I looked mainly at Blog 2 Print, Fast Pencil, and Blurb. This is my own personal experience with these companies.

I found Blog 2 Print to be incredibly irritating to try and make changes and gave up after getting frustrated trying to change the cover picture!

Fast Pencil I started reading was not compatible with Blogger so you needed to convert your blog to another platform, etc. and I again found myself thinking there had to be an easier way.

I had my doubts with Blurb when I realized I needed to download software in order to be able to use it. Desperate though I decided to give it a shot.

After it downloaded I got started making my first book. I was able to select exactly which posts I wanted to be included in my particular book, which was a plus since I was hoping to make one for each year.

I started blogging last July so I downloaded all of my posts from the start of the blog through our Christmas vacation.

Blurb automatically arranges the posts onto a default layout and you have the ability to modify that layout however you'd like. It took me a little while to learn some of the quarks, but once I got the hang of it I loved the control and personalization I was able to give it.

In fact, I was very easily able to add more pages to the front and insert pictures and stories from the first half of the year as well making it a full 2011 album.

I finished editing and proofing the book hoping that it's printed quality would match its versatility and I would have my new software for blog-converted scrapbooks.

This weekend after arriving home exhausted from my girl's shopping trip (read about it here), I saw my book in the mail!

The book is 70 pages but still thin (which will be good after we've collected quite a few). I did the upgraded page thickness because it was only a few dollars. I used a coupon from Retail Me Not and the total with shipping was $49.35.

I absolutely LOVE it!! The quality is amazing and I couldn't be happier with the end result! I will definitely be using them for future Stingerie family memories!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Girl's Shopping Trip!

A few weeks ago I surprised (and impressed) Jason with the following...

...a shopping trip budget proposal! It also included a risk assessment of stores, supporting evidence, and I got it hooked up to the apple tv for additional points. :-)

He approved my budget and the big shopping weekend finally arrived!

We made sure to plan ahead for the trip by printing maps of the mall and highlighting our stores.
Mine is the upper right with a two-tier priority ranking. I definitely had the most highlighted though...

Maryam, Nikki, Meredith, and I hit the road Friday afternoon. We made a mandatory stop at Bucees along the way.

If you are ever in Texas and you get an opportunity to stop there you need to take it! I can't even begin to describe the gas station/convenience store/general store/bakery. They have amazing turkey jerky and homemade fudge!! Remember, just keep an eye out for this beaver -

After fueling up on snacks and sodas we continued onto Buda where we stayed the night. All of the hotels in San Marcos were sold out because of a conference which was fine because... They don't have a Cabela's or Cracker Barrel!

We walked around Cabela's planning future camping trips and looking at the taxidermy animals on display. Afterwards we headed to Cracker Barrel for some delicious (and again not healthy...) food. We went to bed and got ready for our shopping trip the following day.

After breakfast and Starbucks we headed to the mall and snagged a fantastic spot right as the stores opened.

We shopped until we dropped- literally. We all had a successful time (I even got a bunch of great stuff for Jason!) and were exhausted when we finally hit the road after six hours of shopping. Four girls, lots of stores, and one chevy tahoe = a lot of stuff!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Always a Weekend Update

I feel like all I've been able to write lately is weekend updates! Jason and I have both been super busy at work and we've spent the weeknights relaxing and doing nothing. Yes, I know- you are still reading the Stingerie blog. But don't worry our weekends have still been jam-packed with fun!

This past Friday Jason went with some guys from church to see the new batman movie. He was not home to see the massive pile of boxes of car stuff he purchased to get ready to take his car on the track in October.

I chose to hit the gym with my friend Meredith and take DEFINEbody. DEFINE (read more here) are super-challenging fitness classes I got a package deal to try. My body typically hurts for two days after a class and Jason is thrilled I found something to make my legs burn- not a feeling I'm used to having!

I took my flex day today for some (much needed) relaxing and errand running. I was able to sneak in a DEFINErevolution class as well. It was a combination spin and weight class. And I thought spin alone was tough!

But back to this weekend! Saturday Jason was up early to go to the go kart track that I talked about a couple weeks ago (read here).

They hosted a special event with a race car driver from California. He gave them pointers on driving and then they got to hit the track to practice what they learned. Jason wore his GoPro again and got some great video!

Jason was beaming when he got home and I found out why. He got SECOND PLACE!! He also had the fastest lap times of the day! (The only reason he didn't get 1st place is because he had to start in the 6th position. Boo.)

I chose to spend my Saturday morning being super nerdy. I organized my study materials for the PE exam. The PE, or professional engineering, exam is a certification both Jason and I are taking this fall. Neither of us is looking forward to studying or the 8 hour test!

But at least I had our monkey kitten to entertain me!

That afternoon we headed down to League City for some long over due time with our family.

Sydney is at such a fun age! She was shy when we arrived and Jason tried to give her the doll we brought her from Peru.
She quickly opened up though and let me brush her hair after a dip in the pool. And by the time we won't to dinner she pulled her chair over to sit by me and later climbed on my lap. We were even able to get her to pose for a picture and smile- a rarity we were told. :-)

After dinner we chased her around the living room until she wore us both out. We gave her goodnight hugs and spent some time visiting with Jacob and Steph. It was wonderful to hear little Sydney call us Uncle Jason and Aunt Darcy!! :-D

After church on Sunday we spent the afternoon relaxing. Jason gave me his phone so I could send myself the racing pics and I discovered this-

Jason has taken my Ben and Jerry's cow shirt hostage! Ahh! I still have not received the demands nor have I been able to locate my cows anywhere around the house...

When we checked the mail we found Jason's diploma!! I think he did a great job on his fake one though that we used on his graduation party (read here).

Today I took Zoey to the vet for her booster shots. She was a trooper in the car and quite enthusiastic! Not what I was expecting after CeCe's first visit (read here).

Oh and did I mention she eats cardboard? Is that normal?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend Fun

This past Friday was Cow Appreciation Day. Chick-fil-A gives away free entrees for dressing like a cow. They even have an easy print-out on their website for the lazy. This is the second year Jason and I have participated. We have no shame!

After our delicious chicken we went to an improv comedy show at Comedy Sportz Houston. We used to attend comedy shows regularly in college so it was nice to go to one again. We love to laugh!!

Saturday we woke up early and took advantage of the one semi-dry day this week to volunteer with our church. We went to a neighborhood in the third ward and picked up trash and mowed the clearing for the community. The rain held off until we were loading the lawn mowers and getting ready to leave. God's timing is so good! :-)

I took my first shot at a weed whacked and did pretty good! Except you might notice I am frowning...

That's because I ran into an ant pile and got eaten alive. I hate fire ants. Jason got eaten too. :-( OW! I woke up scratching last night.

After church Sunday we worked in the garden and were finally able to harvest our popcorn! We planted japanese hull less popcorn earlier this year. Once the cobs dry out we will pop them on the stove top. I can't wait to try them!

Sunday night we had dinner with our friend Matt and Abby and Ramesh. We used some of our zucchini and Pinterest to make a breaded, baked, cheesy zucchini that tasted amazing!

It was a great end to another great weekend! :-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Honduras Mission Trip: Part 2

You can read the first part of our Honduras Mission Trip at this link here.

We began Day 3 by seeing some sort of odd animal that our leaders did not know the English translation. It's a pizote. We looked it up later and discovered that meant aardvark!

Ready to work!

Back on location, we needed to pull the hydraulic baler out of the hole and move the rig away from the well since it was no longer needed. I got the job of breaking down the pipe. Fail. Jason came and assisted me and together the Stingeries dominated. :-)

After the rig was moved, I slipped away from the well and learned how to make tortillas with Erin, Shallan, and the ladies in the village. They were the tastiest corn tortillas I've ever tasted! Jason got to try one and said they were pretty good. :-)

Additionally, I got to help prepare coffee that I would bring home with me. The previous day we tried coffee the ladies prepared for us. It was some of the most different-tasting, but delicious coffee I've ever had! I asked if we would be able to buy some from her and she offered to purchase more unroasted corn and roast it for us the following day to take home. She roasted the coffee with sugar and corn and ground it with black peppercorns. I swear it's amazing!

Meanwhile back by the well, the boys ran an air hose to the bottom of the well and hooked it to a compressor to apply pressure to the bottom of the well and flush out any more sand that might be remaining. Kevin operated the compressor and Jason got the unlucky job of holding the PVC pipe together at the wellhead. It was a dirty and wet job! 

Throughout the week lots of the villagers helped us prepare the well - they sieved sand to make our gravel pack, helped clean the mud pits, collected water to mix the mud, etc. It's wonderful that they can take a sense of ownership in the well by helping us build it!

They installed an ESP (electric submersible pump) and let it run the rest of the afternoon and evening to clean out the well even more since we would be testing the quality the following day. We had terrific flowrate of 50 gal/min coming from our well!

 Mike and his entourage of ladies. :-)

One of the village girls gave Lynette and I manzanitas to try. The translation is literally "little apple" and we are not sure what the fruit was! It was a tart apple with a more spongy texture. I wasn't a big fan, but it was fun to try!

The hygiene team leading the village children in a song -

 We were getting pretty clean water by the end of the day!

The village is responsible for purchasing and pouring the cement for the slab that would hold the well pump and drain excess water. They spent the afternoon preparing the slab while we got to take the afternoon off and headed back to the hotel early.

We arrived at the village on Day 4 to see a beautiful cement slab that the villagers had created the night before. They ran a PVC pipe drainage line from the slab and mounted a plaque from the sponsor (CEPC on this trip). We needed to finish cleaning everything up around the well along with any other equipment that we had onsite.

We (And by "we" I really mean the boys and Erin; Shallon, Lynette, and I supervised :-) ) cleaned the galvanized production tubing with chlorine before running it in the well and attaching the hand pump.

We all got to sign underneath the handle of the pump before it was mounted on the well. Abraham tested the water in the well and then it was PUMPING TIME!!! We all got to take a stab at pumping fresh water before the dedication.

The dedication of the well was so moving. We all gathered around and listened to Abraham give instructions to the village on how to use the well. He told them that he tested the water and that it's considered drinkable under 500 ppm salinity. Our well had tested at one of the lowest ever with only 0.56 ppm!! He also told the village that we had a 70' water column in our well that will provide for generations to come in their village. Living Waters also sends someone out every two months to do maintenance on the well and their contact information is listed on the plaque so that the village can call them anytime there's an issue with the well. Richard gave a great sermon to the village on Jesus and being saved and both Mike and Erin shared some thoughts and experiences from the group. I stood there with precious little girls holding my hands and hugging me. It was wonderful to see so many youth so excited about the well!

We had lunch with the villagers one last time before departing for the day. The highlight was when the villagers started coming to pump water, including groups of the children! The looks of excitement and joy in the adults, but especially the kids' faces was inspiring. We take for granted the fact that we can turn on a faucet every day and know water will come out for us. This village would have to go days at a time without clean water when their previous hand-drilled well failed. It brings tears to my eyes to think how what a difference we made in the lives of these villagers. Jason and I feel so blessed that we could participate in this trip and look forward to taking another one sometime in the future!!

 Our amazing drilling team!

We departed from Saba that day and drove back to the resort-like hotel for the night. Since we had been able to get the well drilled and completed in four days, we had Friday off to either relax at the hotel or go zip lining as a group. We choose to go zip lining since the place also included hot springs and massages!

The zip lining experience was completely different than Peru! (You can read about zip lining in Peru here.) We had 18 short and fast lines through the jungle rather than across a huge valley. We didn't have helmets and fortunately I had brought the head strap so Jason, Kevin, and I took turns wearing the GoPro. Jason did another amazing job editing the video!!

After zip lining we spent some time in the hot springs and got massages before heading back to the hotel and starting our long drive back to San Pedro Sula. We stayed at a hotel outside the city and just a short drive from the airport since we had an early flight the following day.

We arrived at the airport at 5:30 am for our 8:00 am flight and got the unfortunate news that we were not departing until 2:00 pm due to mechanical issues with the plane. We ended up spending the entire day in the airport and did not leave San Pedro Sula until 5:30 pm! 12 hours in an airport with seven gates and only one duty free and one small shop was not a good way to end the trip. United fail. We were VERY thankful to get home that night though and see our CeCe kitten after three long weeks of traveling!

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