LA and Amsterdam and Israel

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I’ve arrived in Los Angeles. I flew in last night after a week of zero productivity back in Boston. Well, I guess it was productive in that I finished season 9 of Criminal Minds so I’m all caught up on what’s available via Netflix… that counts for something, right?

Coming to a new city and starting from scratch is so refreshing. I don’t have any bad habits ingrained in me yet and I can try to set better ones. I remember when I first graduated from Macalester and started working at Target – it was such a great time where I was able to get in shape, explore new hobbies such as baking and writing, and do a lot of self reflection. Then Joe came into the picture and while I’ve gotten a lot of good habits from him, I also picked up some bad ones. The lazy ones.

Last summer I had the opportunity to start fresh when I moved to Boston. Something went wrong though. Instead of having a home that encouraged activity, I feel the focal point became the TV and all of a sudden my entire summer disappeared. When Joe would get home from work we’d do fun things and explore the city, but I still managed to put way too much effort into Covert Affairs and Royal Pains.

Not wanting to fall into that same trap, I’ve decided to do something drastic. I am swearing off TV for the summer. Ideally I would find some sort of happy medium where I could watch some programs to stay up on pop culture but not so much that I watch hours upon hours. But I’m sort of like an alcoholic with my TV and I can never have just one.


In other news, Israel was absolutely fantastic. I believe it may be the best international travel experience I’ve ever had. On my way there, I had the opportunity to have an extended layover in Amsterdam. I was able to leave the airport and explore the city for about 8 hours before my next flight. I was a little nervous about managing all of this on my own. I had never been to another country alone before, but from what I had heard, Amsterdam is pretty accessible.

I quickly figured out how to buy my train ticket from the airport to central Amsterdam. I decided to take the Canal Bus, which not only allowed me to hop on and off the boat at places throughout the city, but it was a great way to see the architecture with a guide.

My first stop was the Van Gogh museum. I didn’t know much about him going in, but really enjoyed learning his story through the setting they offered. Afterwards, I went for pancakes at a cafe recommended to me by a friend on Facebook. They had a notice though that their credit card machine wasn’t working, so I made sure I would be able to afford something with the $10 I had. I found a Nutella pancake for $8, which also gave me enough for the tip. Once I got the bill though, I realized they charged me for water. Doh! I had to pull the whole “this is all I have” thing, and I felt like a dumbass. Boo.

Next I attempted to go to the Anne Frank house, but the line was 3 blocks long. Only having a short amount of time I didn’t want to waste it all in line. So, I just went and picked up some postcards and then sat at a rooftop bar and wrote them out to people while sipping a cocktail. It was beautiful and marvelous and the highlight of Amsterdam.

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Israel was something else entirely. The first night we had dinner on the hillside at a beautiful outdoor restaurant. The food was amazing, I got to connect with some friends I haven’t seen in a while as well as meet some new folks. It was so tranquil and a really great way to start a vacation. [Once I got home, I tried texting Joe but it wouldn’t go through. We were kind of in the middle of no where. The next day I had a bunch of texts from him and he was pretty convinced I was dead because he Googled the cell phone reception in Israel and was sure I would have coverage everywhere. Aww…]

Photo by Matan Shiloach
Photo by Matan Shiloach

The next day we went to Jerusalem and did the Old City stuff. I went in the room of The Last Supper, saw the golden dome and where Jesus was crucified… very neat from a historical perspective.

The next day we started out at the Holocaust Museum and then it was time for the Dead Sea. Holy hell it was hot. I think it was over 115 degrees, and we were in the sun and it was humid as crap. I had thrown up a few times from night before (#winning) so I was hating the heat all that much more. It was the most amazing private beach party though. There was a beautiful buffet, slushies, massages, and great music. We got all mudded up and then dipped into the sea. I didn’t actually like being in the water. I floated too much, it tasted terrible (whoops!) and made all my skin sting. I didn’t stay in too long :)

Photo by Matan Shiloach
Photo by Matan Shiloach

That night we slept in tents in the desert. I was woken up at 1am by a jackal, who I thought was a cat at the time. I’m glad I didn’t know the truth then. I was woken up again at 4am because it was time to hike up Masada. Here is my paraphrased story of the land: Masada is this mountain in the desert that is flat on top. Thousands of years ago this guy, Herod, went and built his palace there because he was a nervous SOB and thought everyone was trying to kill him. The mountain top allowed him to watch his back most of the time, and then he had other protections in place for the rest of the time. Then he died and everyone left.

Then, years later, when the Romans took over the temple in Jerusalem, some Jews fled to Masada. They set up camp in Herod’s old palace and were able to use his cisterns as well. Then, after these 900 people spent some time on the mountain, the Romans decided enough was enough and came to get them. But because it is a mountain top it is nearly impossible to take over. Eventually the Romans used Jewish slaves to build an extremely large ramp up to the top where they then broke down the wall.

Not wanting to let their women and children be raped and made into slaves though, the man in charge decided everyone should die instead. So he chose men who would go around and kill all their families and then kill themselves at the end. The next day, when the Romans come in, they found that everyone was dead. They were pissed, I believe. There were a couple holdouts though, which is how we know the story. The Dovekeepers is a historical fiction novel written about Masada and it is an amazing book I would recommend everyone read.

Photo by Matan Shiloach
Photo by Matan Shiloach

Then I rode a camel.

Photo by Matan Shiloach
Photo by Matan Shiloach

The next day I rafted down the Jordan River and then ATVed up to the Syrian border. It was scarier than it sounds. Those red signs on the fence below say “Caution, Mines.” As in, land mines. I only walked where others walked… just in case.

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IMG_1377This is the inside of the former Syrian Military Headquarters. It looks like it was bombed… we took another set of stairs to the roof though, so it wasn’t completely destroyed. Because we hadn’t done enough yet that day, we went to a winery for wine tasting. That evening I was like, wow, how the crap is this my life. It all felt very surreal. But I can definitely see myself looking at Israel a lot differently now and have a new appreciation for the things that are going on in that area of the world.

After that we headed to Tel Aviv where the trip shifted to more of a party. It was amazing. We had the best resort on the beach and went to amazing outdoor restaurants.

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Somehow, I made it out alive.

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Oreos + S’mores

So the other weekend, before Joe and I went camping, we bought a package of awesome Oreos for our camping trip. They were a step up from the awesome Oreos I discussed a few months back in Covered in Chocolate.

To celebrate Oreos’ 100th Birthday, they have had different celebratory cookies all year. First it was the Oreos with sprinkles in their cream… the next I found were these ones we got last weekend. Golden oreo halves, covered in milk chocolate, covered in sprinkles. They were just as fantastic as they sound.

While camping, I was like, oh, we should make s’mores out of these. And that we did.

Texts from last night

So, one thing is clear from this past week. Sometimes I can be a negative Nancy by only focusing on the bad things. For example: I did pretty well on the GMAT, well above the “retake if below X” score I set for myself. I was also accepted to the Summer Booth Scholars Program that I had been really hoping for. Both of these are totally awesome things and I should be excited. I am excited.

However, the fact that I didn’t win the Mega Millions and I lost a bake-off at work are both over powering my mood, which should be happy considering everything! As for the bake-off, let me get something clear here. I wasn’t necessarily upset about not winning.. the cookies that won were really good. What upset me more was the aftermath/prize. It was a competition between all of the people in my program at work. The winner got to chose the presentation schedule for our end-of-rotation presentations in two weeks. I really really wanted to go first, or as close to it as possible. I get nervous sitting there thinking about my presentation for so long, and I think this is why I failed so miserably last time. Well, I am going pretty much last and I’m nervous about it. The person who won could have selected me to go first, but chose to draw names instead, to be more fair of course. Fair. My. Ass.

Alas, I should stop moping around. My life is pretty awesome, all things considered.

Recap

So it has been way too long since I’ve written and I really don’t have any excuse for it. Why is it that sometimes we can have so much drive and passion for something and then other times find it difficult to follow through?

I’ve been baking a bit lately! Last Thursday I made chocolate chip cookie dough balls, and they turned out much better than last time. I had thought that I used a different recipe, but now when I just went back to review it looks the exact same. So, basically it’s just the Nestle chocolate chip cookie recipe, except exchange ⅓ milk for the 2 eggs. I think they turned out better though because I know that recipe like the back of my hand (again, not sure why it didn’t dawn on me before…). Maybe it is because I did the ingredients in the correct order this time? Although.. I’m sure I would have last time too, who knows.

Anyway, I used probably 1 bag + 1/5 bag of chocolate chips. This was my Facebook status:

So I finally did the impossible. I made chocolate chip cookie dough with TOO MANY chocolate chips…

They literally almost wouldn’t stick together. I’m glad I was actually making the balls versus real cookies because I think had I not been rolling them tightly, they wouldn’t have stuck together. I also used a stick this time, so they were “pops” instead of “balls.” People liked the sticks, saying it made them easier to eat. They also made it semi-easier to dip, but at the same time, what the heck do you do with the pops after they have been dipped? I don’t have fancy styrofoam to stick them into, and when I attempted short-glasses-filled-with-rice-to-prevent-tipping, the chocolate just oozed down the stick anyway. I eventually just started putting them on wax paper and everyone seemed to enjoy them just fine :)

Tonight I made chocolate cupcakes (both normal sized and mini) to bring into work tomorrow. I still need to frost them, but I am getting tired so I will do that in the morning instead.

I finally wrote my essays for my Booth Summer Scholars application! I’m having a few people review them for content this week before I submit my application. Work is being super awesome and supportive about it, which makes me love my company even more.

I’ve been pretty busy at work, working over 40 hours a week. Crazy, I know. But I knew this time would come. And I’m excited that it did. My days go by so much more quickly now, and I’m really diving deep into my project. I almost feel like an expert on it at this point!

Joe got into his grad program today! I’m so happy and proud of him. He’s pretty fricken awesome in pretty much every way… just sayin’.

Money has been stressing me out lately. I called my mom today to thank her for the Valentine’s Day card she sent me and we mistakenly got on the topic of money. I’m a little angry with her because 6 months ago she über guilted me into lending her $6,000. At the time I was pissed about it but now I’m more accepting of it. However, I have about ~4k in credit card debt because I’m a dumb ass and got in over my head spending-wise right after college. It was kind of like the “holy crap, I’m making how much?!” reaction, in which I splurged beyond my abilities before I realized how quickly the money went towards rent and other necessities. Luckily I’ve stopped myself and am trying super hard to bring it all under control, but either way talking to her didn’t really help things.

Anyway, this felt super awesome to catch up and just reflect a little bit on my feelings. I feel bad now for being harsh to my mom when my frustration really lies with myself. I’m super happy with the way work and life is going though, so I just should count my blessings and be grateful I didn’t get into debt any deeper.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls!!!

So this morning I woke up later than Joe. Usually I’m up at the crack of dawn, but lately I’ve been sleeping in a lot more. He came in to check on me and saw I was awake, so he offered me some breakfast. I was really in the mood for muffins and I told him so. I looked up a few recipes, but ultimately decided it was a lot of work and said he should just buy a box mix while I slept some more.

Then, as we were talking about other things, we both happened to remember at the same time that I had wanted to make cookie balls. So, I got super excited and we got dressed and headed out shopping. We got all the stuff to make both nummy blue berry muffins AND cookie balls.

It’s funny how similar the ingredients for muffins are to cookies. I don’t have the website anymore for the muffin recipe, but here is the one I used for the cookie balls. However, I changed the ingredients because thats how I roll. This was what I used:

  • 2-½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1-½ teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Butter Room Temperature
  • ¾ cups Sugar
  • ¾ cups Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • ⅓ cups Skim Milk
  • 1-½ cup Mini Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 block Chocolate Almond Bark

I sadly didn’t take a picture of them though, because I’m a lame face like that. However, I can highlight the major mistakes.

  1. Making them at Joe’s. Did you know that this fool doesn’t even have wax paper? Thus, the plates we used ate about 1/2 the balls. And by half I mean just a little bit of each.
  2. Not decorating them super prettily. But, since I don’t have pictures of them anyway, this doesn’t matter much.

That’s all really. Overall, they were fucking awesome and now my co-workers love me.

I forgot to give one to Evie though, for which I felt bad. Her birthday was this past weekend, and I like her. I Caribou’ed with her earlier this week- it was fun :)

My Halloween Party

So I’ve spent the last few weeks putting together a halloween party. What kicked off the idea was a really cool jello cake recipe I saw- I wanted to make something similar, spiked, for a party.

Well, last night was the party, and here is my recap.

Joe helped me get ready nearly all week- decorating, cleaning, and baking treats. He also put together the complete playlist which was awesome (and the last song was playing when the last group left! PERFECT!). Yesterday I spent all day getting my costume ready (I already knew what I was going to be, but still needed to get it ready), baking/cooking, cleaning and last minute decorating. The costumes were cute: I was a Wal-mart worker and Joe was a person of Wal-mart. My favorite part of his costume was the mustache that he affixed as fake chest hair. Heck yes.

Around the time I was making my mummy weenies, I began looking through my recipes on my computer. CRAP. I totally had forgotten to make the jello cake that had set the whole thing off- I guess I’ll have to have another party mostly.

I was freaking out about getting everything done on time and Joe was cleaning my dishes as I was being all tense and shit. Then he says to me “Well, I was hoping we could be done by 7:45 so we could take some time to relax with a drink before the guests start arriving.” How fricken perfect is he? I was just like “gaahhh- that’s exactly what I need.” So, it twas what we did, and it was great. I was so happy when my first guests arrived, a friend from OKC and a friend from work. I got everyone drinks and we chatted for a bit, and slowly bunches of other people showed up. Everyone had rockin costumes, and it was really nice to see some people I hadn’t seen in a while.

At one point in the evening, a bunch of my coworkers knocked on the door together- their costume was a group costume, where they were all in a protest saying they were the 99% that want my cupcakes back, #OccupyKatesApt. It was really cute and made me pretty happy.

Nothing dramatic happened, and I didn’t get too smashed to remember what happened. One friend brought with a girl I didn’t know, but she seemed really great and was totally in love with my apt, which I thought was awesome(sauce). Sometimes it takes someone from the outside appreciating what we have for us to realize it… which is kind of sad.

Even though it was just a little get together, I felt really happy afterwards to see people I loved, have a great time in my own place, and then get to snuggle up to Joe after everyone left. I didn’t actually do too much snuggling though, because I passed the fuck out and apparently Joe proceeded to throw up for the next hour, none of which I heard of course. I felt bad :-/

I slept in late this morning- didn’t wake up until it was light out. After some light cleaning up (the place wasn’t even trashed!) and taking a shower, Joe and I passed out again listening to the radio. I probably wasn’t conscious again until after noon- which is insane for me. We stayed in bed and watched G.I. Joe on his cell phone until about 3 when he left for bowling. I was a little hungover, but more so in the emotional sense- I just felt moody. Even so, it felt so good to just stay in bed all day and not have anything to worry about or stress over. This whole “graduated” thing is quite neat.

Now I’ll probably be lame for the rest of the night and not work out like I probably should. I’ll hopefully be in bed by maybe 8pm, and fall asleep with a good book before my awesome Monday morning. I love weekends :)

But, before I shall go, here are the pictures of my place before the party! (And I’ve posted the links to the recipes below)





Links:
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/litl-smokies-mummy-dogs/detail.aspx
http://www.food.com/recipe/oreo-balls-52035
http://www.divinedinnerparty.com/halloween-recipe-ideas.html (I made the deviled eggs)

Pizza

So I have a slight addiction to pizza. If I have just one slice, I cannot seem to stop eating it. I literally have no problems with taking down the entire large pizza by myself, and I’ve accepted this. I know that this isn’t just a problem I have, but rather a very common conundrum. However, in my attempt to not be a fat ass, I’ve decided to stop eating pizza.

Because I have taken this vow of abstinence, pizza has never been a topic of discussion between Joe and I. Or, rather, it has been a forbidden topic- I can’t even handle watching pizza commercials or seeing the coupons on his table, let alone him telling me that he is craving it.

However, I’ve been thinking about pizza more and more lately, partially due to my recent visit to CO, where Drew and I were about a hop, skip, and jump away from ordering some for ourselves (out of tradition of course!). So, I’ve decided that because I’ve managed to lose a couple pounds, I can let myself splurge a little and enjoy pizza on Friday night when Joe is having a couple friends over to play Rock Band all night and eat and drink.

I’m pretty fricken excited, one reason being that I get to meet his friend from out of town that I have heard tons about. Apparently him and I have similar senses of humor. I’m thrilled to see someone who can dance with me on sexual innuendos.

There is also the opportunity to listen to Joe sing. He has such a fricken awesome voice. I remember him winning me over on one of our first dates by not only having Hanson playing when he picked me up, but also knowing more of the words than I did. Ever since then, I take every opportunity to hear him sing.

Lastly, my excitement resides in the beer and pizza which I have not been allowing myself to indulge in. Seeing as the pizza is quickly approaching, last night Joe and I were discussing what type we should get on Friday. I started by asking him where we were going to order it, and once he listed off Pizza Hut as an option, I quickly interrupted him asking him if he wanted to know my favorite kind. For those of you who don’t know, my favorite kind of pizza is pepperoni and pineapple, preferably on Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust.

As you may be expecting, this is certainly not a normal combination.  I often get cocked off for it: “Do you mean Canadian bacon?” Fuck no. If I wanted Canadian bacon I would have asked for it. This may explain why I’m often eating the entire pizza- it’s hard to find people to share with me. My mom would never even let me get it on half, because “fruit does NOT belong on a pizza, and I cannot even risk it coming over to my side.” In high school, Sam would let me get only pineapple, but hated pepperoni (who doesn’t like pepperoni? wtf). Alas, I was left to fend for myself.

After sharing this story with Joe, I looked at him and he had this look of shock/horror on his face. I figured he was going to walk out, unable to accept my pizza preferences. However, he just said “that’s my favorite kind of pizza.” I pretty much knew instantly that this could be it for us – it basically sealed the deal.

It was mainly because of this revelation that we decided to become “Facebook official”, which, as everyone should know, is a hella big deal. Not only in the general sense, but for me specifically too. I’ve never been Facebook official with anyone, and I can be pretty weird about making serious relationship steps.

In other news, I spent the night making treats for my Halloween party on Saturday. I made tons of Oreo balls and then some chocolate dipped pretzels with what chocolate was left. Turns out, the awesome part about having a bathroom larger than your kitchen is the ability to use the counter space in there too.

Also, because it isn’t too obvious from the picture above- I had some trouble with the green melting chips. Turns out, not having a microwave can be an inconvenience when trying to use melted chocolate. Until now, I’ve coped with the stove just fine, but when I tried to get my baking on tonight, I realized that the white and colored melty stuff doesn’t get as smooth. I’m just going to have to splurge for the powdered food coloring and dye almond bark myself.

Denver Airport

So my flight was originally scheduled to leave at 3:35. I actually received a call from Delta around noon saying that the flight was oversold and that I could have a $300 flight voucher if I volunteered to wait until tomorrow to fly out. I considered it thoroughly- tomorrow’s flight would be at 6:15am, getting back to MSP around 9. They wouldn’t throw in a free hotel room though, so I kindly declined their offer. I’m sure I could have stayed at Drew’s another night, but I really wanted to get home and get a good nights rest. I would have been okay staying in a hotel for the night though because I know that it would have been really relaxing and I could have gotten some writing and reading done.

On the way to the airport, however, I began to reconsider. It would be pretty baller to have a $300 flight voucher, especially with Joe and I considering a trip somewhere. Then, always being the thinker that I am, if instead Joe breaks up with me, it would totes be awesome to have a free flight somewhere to blow off the steam. I resolved that once I got to the airport I would check in at my gate to see if they still needed someone. Once I was actually at the airport and was able to whip out my sad face, it would be much easier to guilt them into a hotel room. To my surprise though, they just said I could have a flight on the 6:00pm flight, not even needing to spend the night. I definitely signed up for that, and they said they would let me know about 20 minutes before the flight if they still needed it.

2 hours later I am still sitting here (now sipping a drink in an airport bar), as the original 3:35 flight has been delayed until 5:27. Apparently they are trying to join a shit ton of flights into a smaller number, and I’m not sure when I’ll ever make it home. I had been reading my book (Driving with Dead People by Monica Holloway) for about an hour when the line continued to grow at the counter and the delay continued to extend. Either way I’ll be fine- I’ll get home tonight and sleep in my nice comfy bed (and get to work on time tomorrow!)- or I’ll get a nice trip out of the deal. I love these opportunities. Plus, I’m doing what I’d be doing at home anyway- drinking and writing (minus the candle, sadly).

My weekend with Drew was borderline lame. I was sick the entire weekend (Thanks Joe!), and didn’t feel like going out. Drew was bummed about that, which I can’t totally blame him for, but I also felt like I was out there to chill with him, and we could still do fun things even if we were at the house. Typically we just like to play games together anyway! I felt like crap (emotionally) though for feeling like crap, and also like crap because my friend was pissed about my crap. Basically it was a never ending crap circle with a few chocolate chip cookies in the mess- which Drew didn’t even wake me up for when he was making them!!! Does he forget who I am?!

It was still really nice to see him, but I also got the feeling that things weren’t quite the same. I don’t have any particular reason for this, but it was just kind of a vocally quiet weekend. Maybe it was just all my sickness and I’m being a silly monster.

Also, last night as I was being a lame face napping on the couch, I was feeling both happy and sad that I wasn’t back in Minneapolis with Joe. One, he was out at the Zombie Pub Crawl, which I oh-so-badly want to do (and am oh-so-sick of hearing about) so I was sad. But two, I probably would be have been a buzz kill so I was happy I wasn’t there. Still though, I was sick and just wanted to be with him and didn’t want to be feeling alone in CO. I was sad that I wasn’t getting as much attention as I had given him when he was sick. Really it was a rather silly feeling as I had just had the dream the night before that he was breaking up with me because I’m clingy. I blame SD (and numerous other men for this), but Joe continues to assure me that I’m okay.

Alas, I haven’t talked to him yet today, but that’s probably okay. In an effort to not be clingy (because of the dream), I should give more space- not bitch at him for not taking care of me enough… while I’m 700 miles away.

As a side note, I’m staring at a penny, heads-side-up on the floor about 8 feet from me. I kind of want to pick it up, but I’m also the type of person that goes and lies down her extra pennies for others to gather good luck, so I shall leave it. Not sure why exactly I shared this part.

Because everyone should go 19 months between blog posts…

So I’ve always been opposed to this whole “blog” thing… save my semester in NYC. It just seems rather pretentious for me to think that anyone would have an interest in what I have to say. Fact is, most don’t- and that’s awesome. Good reason not to care what anyone else says either.

So, what’s my reason for starting this again? I think I need a creative outlet. While the corporate life can be fascinating, my current role (or the work I’m putting into it), lacks the level of creativity needed to sustain my sanity.

Plus, I was at home sick all day and wasn’t able to connect my work laptop to my iPhone internet. Not being one to sit in bed for long, I decided to start a blog. Probably this will give me a good excuse to upgrade my gadgets- of course I need a new camera, and a new computer, and PhotoShop… I have a BLOG now!

Before blogging, I made some good treats. Well, I’m obviously using the word “good” loosely, but I made something nonetheless. I’ll call them haystacks, because I think that’s what normal people call them. Here was my improvised recipe:

    • 1 jumbo Kiss from Valentine’s Day maybe 2 years ago
    • 1 package of coconut

First, chop up the Kiss with a butcher knife. This aids in the melting. Next, melt the chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Once melted, add… some coconut. Stir. If it doesn’t seem thick enough, add some more. I kept adding until the brink of the coconut was no longer being covered by chocolate. This, my friend, was the mistake. Actually, it wasn’t the first mistake.

Mistakes

  1. Buying the wrong kind of coconut. I think the unsweetened would be better
  2. Not toasting the coconut in the oven. I think I remember reading this in a recipe a while back, but it didn’t dawn on me until I was already melting the chocolate
  3. Adding too much coconut

After adding all the coconut, I spooned it out onto wax paper. Here was the outcome:

My Haystacks

They didn’t suck… as one can assume from the number of them I’ve eaten. I’ll finish them off too- maybe even let Joe try one. However, they probably won’t be made again… at least without some updates.

vodka + sore throat ≠ happiness

I am sitting at the airport (O’Garas – drinking vodka-water with a cherry and lime) waiting for my flight to Denver, CO. I’m going to visit my bestie Drew, and I’m very excited. I haven’t seen him since I was out there in July, and it’s been way too long. This is all I have for now- maybe something exciting will happen here though and I’ll get to update this post! Hey-o